“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

be... all that you can be... in the army!

Surely there should be a word for this. We have kleptocrat. We have mafia. But we need a word honed to the multiple splendors exhibited by a new species of capitalist that has flourished under our Lord the Rebel in chief. These are MBA style go getters who have everything – the networking ability, the ambition, the sense of opportunity. The only thing they don’t have is the ability to contribute a single useful idea or good to the stock of humankind. Even con artists, rightly considered, have an aesthetic status: they are sort of like walking divine judgments, prophetic sarcasms, tropes in Caddies.

But no. The Lincoln Group is something different, is generated by another station in the history of consciousness.

And so this is how the NYT article begins:

“Two years ago, Christian Bailey and Paige Craig were living in a half-renovated Washington group house, with a string of failed startup companies behind them.
Mr. Bailey, a boyish-looking Briton, and Mr. Craig, a chain-smoking former Marine sergeant, then began winning multimillion-dollar contracts with the United States military to produce propaganda in Iraq.

Now their company, Lincoln Group, works out of elegant offices along Pennsylvania Avenue and sponsors polo matches in Virginia horse country. Mr. Bailey recently bought a million-dollar Georgetown row house. Mr. Craig drives a Jaguar and shows up for interviews accompanied by his "director of security," a beefy bodyguard.”

It was inevitable, perhaps, that the fog of MBA rhetoric would eventually produce a creature made entirely of fog. The Lincoln Group is it:

“In collecting government money, Lincoln has followed a blueprint taught to Mr. Bailey by Daniel S. Peña Sr., a retired American businessman who described Mr. Bailey as a protégé.

Federal contracts in Washington can supply easy seed capital for a struggling entrepreneur, Mr. Peña says he advised a youthful Mr. Bailey in the mid-1990's when the two men started a short-lived technology company. "I told him, 'When in trouble, go to D.C.,' and the kid listened," Mr. Peña said.

Mr. Bailey defends his company's record, saying, "Lincoln Group successfully executes challenging assignments." He added that "teams are created from the best available resources."”

Yes, this is a best practices group, a sigma six group that is on time and on line with the best best practices executable in this rapidly globalizing world, using its competitive advantages to compete as its challenging assignments challenge. This is a power point ready, young and hungry company hungry to be even hungrier, helping the wind of freedom lift all boats as we tell our side of the story that is an inspiration to millions.

And then there is this. Oh for a Thackeray. Oh for a Zola. Oh for a Dreiser. Oh, even, for the young Tom Wolfe, before he was covered with fungus.

“Little in Mr. Bailey's background indicated he would end up doing propaganda work in Iraq. Born in Britain as Christian Jozefowicz, he changed his name when he graduated from Oxford University and moved to San Francisco during the late-1990's dot-com boom.

There he founded or advised several companies and plunged into the Silicon Valley social scene, according to Mr. Bailey and several friends and former business associates.

Among the companies were Express Action, a company that planned to develop an Internet service to calculate duties on overseas purchases, and Motion Power, which intended to invent a shoe that would generate its own electrical power to run portable consumer devices.

"You would have been proud had you seen this 23-year-old kid pitching, with no product, no customers, no business plan," Mr. Bailey wrote in a letter to Mr. Peña, describing how he raised $15 million from investors for Express Action.”

America! My newfound land! Yes, it is a continent of low rent Prosperos, Calibans who changed their name and attitude after the year abroad and realized that with a dynamically planned, revolutionary shoe breakthrough and growth potential potentiating in every market, with Dow 35,000 in the headlights, impossible is a word we don’t recognize. It is a go for it country, with a real estate deal on line 2 that will break your heart. And if you have to drop your electric powered shoe when you country calls to you – well, we know the mindset of sacrifice and service of the Bush culture. We respect it deeply at LI, as our readers know.

Lincoln started out helping the winds of freedom blow by devising a scheme to export Iraq’s “scrap metal.” That scheme didn’t get off the ground. Then there was the scheme to build a brickbuilding factory in Mosul. Ditto. And then, oh, the magic of the marketplace! Caliban finds the Prospero’s books:

“Eventually, Lincoln began working with the American military, which was spending millions on contractors for a broad range of services.

The firm rented a one-story house inside the Green Zone, the heavily fortified government compound in central Baghdad. Furnished with two sofas and a sheet of plywood that served as a desk, the house had a single telephone and an overloaded electrical outlet.

Lincoln formed a partnership with The Rendon Group, a Washington company with close ties to the Bush administration, and won a $5 million Pentagon contract to help inform Iraqis about the American-led effort to defeat the insurgency and form a new government.

One contract requirement was to get Iraqi publications to run articles written by the military, according to several ex-Lincoln employees.”

It is a pity that Iraqis so seem to resent this war. The 30- 100,000 dead, the air sorties that have increased now to what, 160 per week? Bitch bitch bitch. Because there is so much good news that they should be looking at. The inspiring rise of Christian Bailey and Paige Craig brings tears to my eyes, at least, and I think many Iraqis, burying their dead, in lockdown in Baghdad, Falluja, Ramadi, in the ruins of bombed out cities in Western Iraq, in Basra dodging the new religious police, they should ask themselves: haven’t we helped a new generation of Americans be all they can be? Ask not what you can do for your country, as the man said, but ask how much ($$$!) your country can do for you. Talk about idealism to inspire the generations.


Brian Miller said...

Stuff like this makes me more...sympathetic...to the (true, not neocon) libertarian arguments against the power of the overwheeming imperial state. This kind of stuff is just...natural...in such an imperial, hubristic state.

Would the United States be better off (at least for our soul) as a loose confederation of smaller states? Was the original ideal (exemplified by the Articles of Confederation) perhaps ultimately the better path? Sometimes I wonder.

roger said...

Brian, yeah, I hear you. Libertarians who favor the war in Iraq really puzzle me. Are they simply hypocritical, or blind? War is the health of the state. But I've notice that Reason has lately become scathing about the Rebel in Chief's ideas.

Brian Miller said...

antiwar.com is a daily visit for me.

Even though, as a (local/municipal)government employee, I shouldn't be so sympathetic. :) (Everybody's gotta make a living somehow)