Belmont Club

Game Over

Roger Simon asks “Could It Possibly Get Any Worse?” for president Obama and then proceeds to enumerate a long list of the catastrophes besetting the administration.  They’re of such severity and the list is of such length that one may be forgiven for thinking, ‘no it cannot possibly get worse’.  Yet not only can it get it worse, but it probably will.  In order to clearly understand why you have to go back to a video game developed in Japan called Space Invaders. In this old video game a row of apparently slow moving and vulnerable alien critters advance upon a player equipped with a blaster and able to shelter behind concrete fortifications.  It looks easy to pick off the Space Invaders but that is illusory.

As the Space Invaders get closer the defender must deal with more of them per unit time.  Each one you miss in time (t) becomes one more Invader who you must hit in time (t+1).  As you run out of time there are eventually more critters than you could possibly hit.  The defender is overrun and it is Game Over.

The Obama administration’s fundamental mistake was believing that “kicking the can down the road” was an intelligent strategy.  It sure looked like it, given  the vast design margin that America appeared to provide.  Yet in so doing they made the error,  common among innumerates, of mistaking the large for the infinite.  They thought they would never run out of room to “kick the can down the road”, little realizing that every unengaged Space Invaders in time (t+1)  got carried over to time (t+2) etc.

But the clock runs out for everyone and now there’s a whole avalanche of problems coming at the Obama administration.  They are saturated.  By kicking the can down the road, Obama committed the single most fatal mistake in the Space Invaders Game.  He let the critters get a jump on him. Now they’re ahead of his shot cycle and threaten to overrun his position.

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Readers will recall my prediction that fake strategies like those used by the administration go through 3 phases: 1) the denial of the problem; 2) over-confident half measures; 3) blind panic. President Obama is officially at number 3 and has canceled fundraisers in New Jersey and Connecticut “to convene his Cabinet at the White House instead, as U.S. officials grappled with the widening Ebola crisis.”

The panic phase comes very fast because it is actually the moment when a leader realizes he’s running out of the most precious resource a manager can have, which is time.  And the administration, for the past six years, has been all about wasting time; about kicking the can down the road.  They thought it was clever, a big joke they could play on their Republican successor. But most of the president’s opponents on the world stage, familiar with the idea that strategy is largely the story of time, saw it for the amateur mistake that it was.  They saw the president for what he was and took him to the cleaners.

Not only did he run out of time but he lengthened his OODA loop  by centralizing decision making in his person.  His incredible jealousy for power reduced the Federal Government to just himself and his immediate staff.  It limited the speed at which the United States could respond to a given crisis to the agonizing rate at which he could attend to it which was what was left over after subtracting hours spent on the golf course, attending celebrity dinners and going to fundraisers.   Nowhere was this more evident than in his control of drone strikes or the air campaign against ISIS, which meant that things waited on him, which meant they waited.

Every German commander learned the dictum: “never fight a two front war”.  By contrast the administration never fought a single enemy when they could multiply them. They never fought them individually when they could set a date to meet them all at once, a circumstance seen as bizarrely advantageous, the Grand Bargain. Whenever the president had an opportunity to decisively solve a problem, he found some pretext to kick the can down the road.  The good-enough was always postponed in exchange for the promise of the perfect.

The result is the pileup we are witnessing now. Now he’s got to take them all on. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS, the deficit, Russia, China, North Korea and Ebola. He is belatedly cognizant of the danger and has tardily convened his cabinet; but he is  at the stage where for every Space Invader he hits, three will creep closer.

Could things possibly get worse? Yup. In fact,  it would almost be a miracle if they didn’t.  The the southern border is open. ISIS is unmanaged. Iran will get the bomb, etc.  He had his chance to engage each of these and he kicked the can down the road.

Historically the real Space Invaders game was the US 3rd Fleet off Okinawa versus the Kamikazes.  The experience of that giant air-sea battle convinced the US Navy that it’s scarcest resource was time.  To buy more time it did desperate things.  It stationed destroyers in the path of hundreds of suicide planes to give them a few more minutes warning of the impending swarm.

It commissioned a new airplane, the F8F Bearcat, so it could join the fleet in time for the invasion of Japan.  The Bearcat had one design imperative. Climb like a bat out of hell. Climb so that it could rocket off the carrier decks and gain enough altitude for a few more minutes of combat against the Kamikazes.  The video below shows an F8F Bearcat taking off  along with P-51 Mustang.  Watch the Bearcat climb.

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The Bearcat was all about time to intercept. The admirals of the Second World War paid with blood and treasure for time and would have been astonished to learn that a future commander in chief would miss no opportunity to waste it; that there would come along some who would think of a chance to whittle down the enemy as worthless.  Now the errors come unforced as the CDC enforces the protocols that should have been practiced before, but are only being learned now.  When you run out of time you make mistakes.

Man casually dressed in shirt and pants seen on live television walking with Amber Vinson
Surrounded by health care workers and Vinson ALL dressed in hazmat suits
Boarded the plane in Dallas after a weak Miss Vinson was helped on, and appears to have flown with her as he was later spotted at the Atlanta airport
Social media has dubbed him the ‘clipboard man’ – expressing shock that he came so close to an infected patient and unprotected
As of early Thursday morning, he remains unidentified. The ambulance service and Emory University Hospital said he was not with them
He may be with the CDC, which organized the flight from Dallas to Atlanta
However, they have not confirmed this despite being asked to

‘Who’s the idiot with the clipboard?’ Disbelief and panic as mystery man WITHOUT a hazmat suit helps second Ebola nurse board her plane to Atlanta, disposes waste and then climbs aboard. ‘Who’s the idiot with the clipboard?’

“Who’s the idiot with clipboard?” Maybe someone in authority who thinks the Narrative is more real than Ebola.  One day the administration will learn that the officially fake is still fake. But until then … play.

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