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ExpatPundit

"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.





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Friday, May 10, 2002

Check out the new links! I finally got around to perma-linking the sites that I visit regularly. Just scroll down a bit. That's right. Just a bit more. Some conservatives, some liberals, and beaucoup de libertarians. In the next few days, I hope to explain why I have trouble taking Libertarians seriously. Here's a preview: talking chimps.
And don't get me started on whether anyone learns anything at Harvard Business School. Orrin Judd argues that the American Prospect, and other critics of President Bush, simply don't understand his shrewd application of management principles:

One of the great mysteries of media coverage of George W. Bush is how the press can have completely failed to understand his administration's roots in the world of business. The accepted storyline on George W. Bush assumes that his name got him into Yale, into the Air National Guard, into business, and into government, and that he learned nothing along the way. Completely left out of the equation is his MBA from Harvard, because it is annoyingly inconvenient. Bushs after all don't go to Harvard, especially stupid Bushs, and they don't go to grad school, because there's no need to when friends of the family are going to hand you opportunities regardless. So the whole MBA deal just disrupts an otherwise simple picture. Why not ignore it?

But suppose it matters? Suppose the point in his life where he most clearly broke with his father's career path and was most clearly his own man (supposedly he didn't even tell anyone he was applying) truly mattered, at least to him. And, God forbid, suppose he learned something, not something factual or some complex theory, but a culture and a way of getting things done. Suppose that, in much the way that LBJ's senate career taught him how to work legislative levers once he was president, George W. Bush's business training and career taught him how to get things done in a modern bureaucratic corporation, which, at the end of the day, is what government resembles.

Glenn Reynolds links to Orrin's post, and doesn't seem to disagree. I do disagree, for two reasons.

First, Bush's fecklessness at actually conducting business operations is legendary. His official bio states that he "[began] his career in the oil and gas business in Midland in 1975, working in the energy industry until 1986." Here are the unmentioned details: He starts Arbusto Energy around 1977, and it nearly fails, and it's then bought by Spectrum 7 Energy and Bush is made CEO, and that nearly fails, and then that's bought by Harken Energy and Bush is relieved of day-to-day management role and becomes a director, and that nearly fails. (And the next one caught on fire, fell on its side, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth castle...the fourth one stayed up!) By now it's 1986 and Bush retires from the world of business. This is evidence that he learned a culture for getting things done?

Second, Orrin's key point is that Bush's experience gave him insight into running a "modern bureaucratic corporation." But I don't think any of these businesses resembled a modern bureaucratic corporation, at least in the sense of being an organization of substantial size. I have no clue as to how large Arbusto or Spectrum 7 were. But Harken -- which acquired Spectrum 7/Arbusto -- currently has 40 employees in its U.S. operations, according to its FAQ. Who knows, maybe it had 500 employees back in 1986 when Bush was a director, but I doubt it. And managing 40 or fewer employees seems to me to be markedly different from the kind of organization that Orrin intends to invoke. (Later in his post, Judd makes an analogy to Ford Motor Corporation, which has 370,000 employees worldwide).

It's hard to believe that President Bush learned a great deal about running a modern bureaucratic corporation from his work experience. That just leaves the possibility that he internalized a wide range of skills in managing large corporations during his two years at Harvard Business School, which then lay dormant for fifteen years, only to reveal themselves when he became Governor of Texas. For me, this is wishful thinking.
Only three-star service? The Palestinian militants formerly in Bethlehem are in Cyprus now:

For 12 Palestinian gunmen freed from Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the sight of Israeli snipers was replaced Friday by sunbathing Cypriots and blue Mediterranean seas.

The Palestinians, along with a 13th man hospitalized in Larnaca for a broken leg caused by an Israeli bullet, arrived in Cyprus aboard a British military plane.

Whisked by Cypriot riot police to the three-star Flamingo Hotel, the men are under the watch of gun-toting guards in rooms on the seaside hotel's fourth floor.

Is this the same as the Flamingo Beach Hotel? The Flamingo Beach Hotel, aptly named given its proximity to Flamingo Beach, boasts a wide range of attractive rooms. Hotel services include private parking and a live band. It also has an outdoor heated pool and dry cleaning service, both of which could be quite attractive to travelers who have had less access than usual to outdoors and to normal cleaning facilities. It is also possible to arrange cruises from the hotel to Egypt or Israel, although he latter might not be advised for some lodgers.

[UPDATE: No, Now I think it really is the Flamingo Hotel, on Mackenzi Beach. Lodgers can rest comfortably in the knowledge that "all 64 rooms are with private bathroom, telephone, radio, satellite TV, hairdryer, mini bar, balcony and air-conditioning." Facilities include "Restaurant, Bar, TV lounge, Games room, Swimming pool, Gym and sauna, Pool table, Cyprus night once a week." But no live band, I guess.]

And the last holdouts are... Remember the ten foreign peace activists that ran into the Church of the Nativity last week? Guess who were the last people refusing to leave, even after all of the Palestinians inside had evacuated. That's right:

Helmeted Israeli policemen entered the Church of the Nativity on Friday, and emerged with 10 foreign activists whose refusal to leave the church had delayed the end to the 39-day standoff at the shrine for several more hours.

The pro-Palestinian activists, including one from Canada and four from the United States, waved V-for-victory signs at bystanders as they emerged. Their group, the International Solidarity Movement, is dedicated to bringing international attention to the plight of the Palestinians.

Police entered the church several hours after dozens of Palestinians holed up inside, including 39 Palestinian militiamen, walked out of the compound as part of a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Thirteen of the gunmen were deported to Cyprus and 26 were transferred to the Gaza Strip.

The 10 activists had slipped into the church last week in defiance of Israeli troops surrounding the shrine. But they refused to come out Friday, insisting they be accompanied by a lawyer. It appeared that there [sic] demand was not met....

The army had said it would pull out of the biblical city of Bethlehem immediately after the church had been emptied but said the activists were holding up the deal.

"The priests are pleading with them to come out," an Israeli army spokesman, Capt. Jacob Dallal, said at midmorning. "The priests are trying to bring this to an end."
Mistakes were made. David Malone, president of the International Peace Academy in New York, has an op-ed piece today decrying the lack of vision in U.S. policy in the Mideast. It's interesting enough reading. The part that got me was:

Mr. Bush, who domestically is not seen to have handled the Middle East crisis well, will face choices -- as his father did at the 1991 Madrid conference, putting intense pressure on Israel and the Arabs to compromise on their objectives. This led to the more narrowly gauged Oslo peace process, in which the Norwegians brought the Palestinians and Israelis into direct talks. By 2000, president Bill Clinton put forward helpful proposals of his own at Camp David, but, by then, the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians was sliding once again into unrelenting violence.

Indeed. Apparently nobody's at fault for rejecting the Clinton proposals. Mistakes were made; it would be of no value to Mr. Malone to actually note who accepted these proposals and who didn't.
Those classy "family values" Republicans. Newt Gingrich, currently on his third wife, has apparently asked the Catholic Church to annul his 19-year-long second marriage. You know -- the one he had after dumping his cancer-stricken first wife, and before his current marriage to an aide with whom he had a 7-year affair. (From Andrew Sullivan, who is less disapproving than I.)

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