The Dog who didn't Bark: What is the significance of the CINC's silence re:Y2K? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

An excercise for the large brains amongst us.

Congratulations! You have been elected President of the United States.

A threat to the nation is brought to your attention. One with potentially devastating consequences, but of indeterminent probability. It's very nature is unprecedented.

Intelligence assessments are contradictory and often rely upon sources of unknown credibility.

The economy is healthy, an election year looms.

Do you raise the alarm?

Why? How loudly?

Why not? Should you actively discourage an alarm?

I'm curious about the reasons for the ongoing silence from the oval office. I would appreciate it if responders to this thread could ignore who it is that currently sits in that office. Imagine it's you.

I am neither a supporter nor a defender of this administration. I'm simply trying to get a sense of whether or not there might be good reasons for the current situation, or is it a misjudgement?

Dr. Barnett, are you there? Any useful ideas from the Naval War college or CNA?

-- Lewis (, September 03, 1999


Excellent question:

In part, the answer depends on how firmly the President has insisted on the "straight story" as opposed to "hearing what he wants to hear".

If, for some odd reason, I had just assumed the Presidency with 119 day to go, with no history to fall back on, I think I would "blow the whistle".

If I had been elected in 1992, I would like to think that I would have pushed for *much* stronger initiatives in this area.

However, I truly do understand (intellectually) the desire to not rock the boat.

After all, maybe the horse will, indeed, learn to sing......

-- Jon Williamson (, September 03, 1999.

Paula Gordon has figured this one out on the surface.

Paula Gordon, Part 4

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo, Evil or Stoopid, Does Anybody Know?
What Goes On In The Offal Obvious?

Common sense, decency, character, morality, leadership, compassion, humanity, national security, all dictate:

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 03, 1999.

No matter who sits in the seat at any one time, the policy of not doing, saying, suggesting, anything that would potentially up-set John Q Public from his normal boring life, will always remain priority number one. All other priorities rescinded. The only possible way that this dirrective could change, would be that the office itself demonstrate to the american people, an unquestionable ablility to know exactly what we are heading into, and show behond any question-able doubt that he, the President, possesses the ability to take our nation thought those troubled waters. In short we need a very domineering, believable, leader to follow.

-- Les (, September 03, 1999.



The Dog

-- Dog (Desert, September 03, 1999.

You can't ignore who is in the office. He's been there during the whole period this problem should have been fixed. He has known about it a long time.

In August 1997, he said "Now, as the millennium turns, as we have all seen from countless reports, so do the dates on our computers. Experts are concerned that many of our information systems will not differentiate between dates in the 20th and the 21st century. I want to assure the American people that the federal government, in cooperation with state and local government and the private sector, is taking steps to prevent any interruption in government services that rely on the proper functioning of federal computer systems. We can't have the American people looking to a new century and a new millennium with their computers -- the very symbol of modernity and the modern age -- holding them back, and we're determined to see that it doesn't happen."

He is the most succeessful manipulator of the American public in my lifetime. A BIG part of this problem is perceived to be managing peoples reaction.

The administration is doing and has done a lot of things people don't know about.

At this point in time, we are in "end game". You can bet money they have got it scripted out exactly what he is going to do and say from now to the end of January.

This is a man who is very concerned about his "legacy". His legacy is going to be Y2K. You might not like what he is doing, but you can bet your bottom dollar he is doing whatever he can to not have his legacy be a Y2K disaster.

-- ng (, September 03, 1999.

I am Bill Clinton (THAT is a scary thought).

Y2K is BITR: "I did the right thing."

Y2K is recession: "The U.S. was ready, it's not our fault the rest of the world fell behind. We'll come out of this even more powerful than we were relative to everyone else."

Y2K is depression: "We were lied to by corporate America but Algore and I will fix that with some nifty laws to protect you-all in the future from the Republicans and their crowd. And we'll add in some gun control while we're at it."

Y2K is embedded disaster: "We'll just have to delay that little-old election this fall for a bit ..... "

Gee, I like all four of those scenarios, he-he-he.

-- BigDog (, September 03, 1999.

Big Dog's got it spot on.In the end,we're born to die.Buy more beans.

-- zoobie (, September 03, 1999.

Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses.

Ashton/Leska (I never know how or who to address you(se)! ) many thanks for pointing me to Paula Gordon's paper. I apologize to all for not doing better homework.

A few bits from her site:

"In June of 1999, on receiving some new information concerning statements that the President had reportedly made in private, I developed a working hypothesis that the President has made a political calculation not to substantially increase efforts to address Y2K now, but to instead wait until the December 31 rollover. Has the President made a calculated judgment that it is best for the economy and that it is best for political reasons to wait to act until after the rollover and then step in and focus Federal efforts on the recovery period?"


"I shared much of this hypothesis with Congressman Kucinich in a public forum on July 28 at the Y2K Conference held at George Washington University in Washington, DC July 26 - 30. I asked the Congressman what his views were. To my surprise, he said that the President has indeed made a decision not to focus on addressing Y2K now owing to the negative impact that raising the public's awareness of the seriousness of the problem would likely have on the economy and hence the next election.

[Lewis comment: I'm not clear on how or why the congressman would know the President's decision. Perhaps a partisan perspective?]

Congressman Kucinich also noted that the President may be reluctant to acknowledge the seriousness of Y2K and take "ownership" and responsibility now because doing so would be unnecessarily assuming too great a "political" risk. By acknowledging the problem now and taking appropriate steps to address it now, he would be more likely to receive the blame for the negative outcomes that nonetheless occur."


"It appears that for whatever reason the President is not intending to take action until the rollover. He may be assuming that the time bombs are relatively innocuous and will not have a catastrophic impacts when they go off. No one as yet has apparently successfully informed him or convinced him otherwise. "

I confess after reading the comments above, I am inclined to think that the CINC's silence is intentional, rather than due to it seeming insignificant. It is easy to imagine that from his perspective, sounding an alarm over Y2K does not do well when using a cost/benefit anlysis.

As the months have rolled by, I've been struck again and again at how no one in the public or corporate worlds would have any motivation to be truthful about Y2K. At every level, for many reasons, it has seemed "easier" or "better" to minimize the risks.

BD, If you get a call from The Rendon Group, hang up. Please. You show a little too much talent for Perception Management. Its easy to imagine excactly that analysis happening, with the result being that Fix On Failure is the "best" approach in the Big Picture.

The current president is, whatever his faults, one of the most intelligent people to ever sit in that office. I can't imagine him not grasping the gravity of the situation.

I was hoping that was a possibility.

-- Lewis (, September 03, 1999.

Lewis, Once they got it, it was too lae for real preps. Or does he get it? Would you buy a new house now? I'd wait until after deflation hits.

-- Mara Wayne (, September 03, 1999.

As I have contemplated this question, the only rational basis for the administration's actions so far is this (my own suppositions):

I think they understand the potential for disaster in the White House only too well. I think they also are acutely aware of the current enemy list of the US, and particularly our vulnerability to terrorism. To publicly announce or list specific infrastructure weaknesses would be equivalent to "giving aid and comfort to our enemies." In other words, we would be giving them a Hit List, whether they are militia groups, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the ayatollahs, the Serbs or many Russians... and - oh yeah - the Chinese and North Koreans.

I think a strategic decision was made to project a strong, even invincible public persona for the benefit of our enemies, as well as to calm the herd for as long as possible. Even a stampeding herd prior to rollover could open the time window for terrorist actions. At least this way, they can predict with some confidence when to expect the worst.

Along with this decision, I also believe that private or "quiet" communications of the "real" assessment are being given to both military and civilian authorities, and many plans/preparation activities are occurring more or less behind the scene. This suggests that they believe a government response at all levels based on actual failures is more important for national security than encouraging individuals to prepare willy-nilly.

At least I hope to hell this is what their mindset is. If not, then all bets are off.

-- (snoozin@no.more), September 03, 1999.

Excellent point, snoozin. I hadn't thought of this in terms of a "strategic decision". Come to think of it, (Insert dope slap here) that was why I ultimately decided not to publicize the navy spreadsheet when I found it. I thought it was a dangerous document whether it was accurate or inaccurate.

hmmm. Is the CINC damned if he does and damned if he doesn't?

-- Lewis (, September 03, 1999.

Oh, sorry Mara. I forgot to thank you for a good point, too. Imagine urban property values after an announcement that utilities might fail?

-- Lewis (, September 03, 1999.

If the cause of the threat is environmental...I ring the chimes loud. If the cause of the threat is a foreign power...I make deals. If the cause of the threat is monetary...I print money. If the cause of the threat is near me...I set them up. If the cause of the threat is citizens...I set them up. If the cause of the threat is legal...I get good lawyers. If the cause of the threat is the truth...I tell lies.

If the threat could make me more powerful...I let it.

-- no talking please (, September 03, 1999.

As the first female President of the United States of America, I wouldnt expect to be in office for more than one term. So, with no need to be concerned about getting re-elected, TRUTH and shining spotlights on dark government corners, would be one of my primary objectives.

Oh joy! (Here comes the female equivalent of Jesse Ventura? Wearing white lace and roses?)


Long about November of 1998, I would have begun to have Oval Office fireside chats during prime time--once a month--encouraging people to begin preparing, for at least a month in milder climates and two months in the cold winter zones.

FIXING computer and embedded systems would be encouraged as job #1, along with truthful communications to citizens during my State-Of - The-Union, January 1999 address.

Starting in March of 1999, Id have...

 Mobilized the country to prepare early so the supply chains could be replenished
 Increased the information updates to every couple weeks
 Encouraged everyone to... Get Involved And Get Y2K Ready
 Supported grade school programs across America, where kids are encouraged to help solve local preparedness problems, especially with alternatives to basics like water, food, heat, preparing to assist the local challenged population, etc. (Kids are amazingly creative and often think out-side-the-box)
 Encouraged urban and sub-urban areas to grow community food gardens during spring-summer-fall 1999 so they could go up the learning curve
 Done everything I could to support community-oriented Y2K grass- roots activists
 Think globally... and act locally

Gosh... I could go on for pages.

But... Id have probably been knocked-off by TPTB, before 2000 rolled around. Cant appear to rock the boat ya know! Or favor people's lives... over private enterprises bottom line.

(Its a brave new world).




-- Diane J. Squire (, September 03, 1999.

Diane, I'd vote for ya!

(on a side note, it is very curious to me that Elizabeth Dole, "nurturing female" and former President of the American Red Cross for crying out loud, has NOTHING to say on this subject!)

Another reason not to sound alarms, one you all are very familiar with: fractional reserve banking and support of major corporations.

-- mommacarestx (, September 03, 1999.

If I were going to ascribe any benign or altruistic (hhhgahackghh) motives to the silence in the Oval Office on Y2K, I would have had to discount and rescind them long ago when said office holder did nothing to rescue many tons of wheat (exact #s ?) left to rot in the fields in '97 and '98 because the farmers couldn't get enough money to cover their costs. But then many tons of wheat and other food stuff were also shipped to Russia for their future Y2K/war stockpile.

Actually, any positive motives regarding moves made or not made by the evil in the whitehouse would have to come from a fertile imagination combined with a pollyanna disposition and political naivete.

History will not look kindly on Bill Clinton. That is my assessment.


-- S. David Bays (, September 03, 1999.

Diane's WWII Victory Garden, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," solution is by far the best, in my opinion. However, sacrifice would have been required of the majority to make it work.

Unfortunately, that type of devotedness to one's neighbor went out of fashion in this country about 5 minutes after JFK uttered, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Instead of asking the latter, the generation coming to power just then demanded the former.

Regardless, no one here on this thread has considered that TPTB might have advised the Prez to just plain forget it. Not rocking the boat economically was probably a big part of the picture. The notion that people would panic a decade out from the end game was likely bandied about and then discarded by his advisers. People don't sustain a panic very well. It runs its course. In fact, I'll bet at least one person in Clinton's inner circle suggested that if manipulated correctly, the Y2K problem could have been a boost to the economy. Marketing is King in this country (no disrespect to KOS). When all was said and done and the box of donuts in the Oval Office whittled down to those horrors with the orange frosting, my vote goes to the folks in charge of psyching out our national character.

Their likely assessment? The people of this nation simply weren't up to the job of preparing in an intelligent, selfless manner. Not if they were given two years, five years, or ten years. To the 60s generation, who raged against the machine, and then "grew up" to embrace it's more malevolent aspects--think Wall Street and Greed--we've added one generation which was weaned completely on the notion that every kid deserves an "A" in every class, no matter if they work for it or not; and another half generation (the 90s tribe), for whom cheating is not seen as a necessarily bad thing (report on CBS Nightly News this week).

Except for a minority, no one's been home raising the kids, folks. Except for those rare and wonderful individuals we see building habitats for humanity, no one has time to get involved in their community anymore. A large percentage are working too hard trying to survive in order to look outside of themselves. Many people I know have more virtual than real world friends, and that's not saying a lot.

Last but not least, thanks to the one thing the U.S. does better than any other republic on this planet, create a 15 second TV spot that gets Mr. and Mrs. America revving their SUV's toward the 7-11, we have turned the nation into one giant Kmart blue light special. We are a nation addicted to consumption, and when we don't get everything we want just the way we want it, we sue. Half the population is falling on their asses and filing against the manufacturer of the dried glob of chewing gum they tripped over in the parking lot. The other half lives in terror of being litigated out of existence by that self-same idiot who wasn't looking where he was going.

Who would we look to for leadership in Diane's scenario? It certainly wouldn't be someone as sensible, thoughtful and fair in her plans for dealing with the Y2K mess. Well, not unless Diane had a few million dollars to spend on a PR campaign. In the absence of a public conscience do we look to the media to provide one for us? I don't think so. The media is no longer doing their job for the most part, at least not since news was transferred to the entertainment sector. At the end of the 20th century, I have been lead to suspect that journalists are useful for one thing only, laundering press releases.

Blame is rampant. I blame the president, the vice president, the first lady, I blame the lobbists, Congresss, parents. I blame teens who won't take responsibility for their own lives when their parents and the system fails them. I blame the spin doctors, the bankers, the fearful and the merely bored. I blame myself.

Now...if you were President Clinton, a man bent on creating a legacy for himself if he can't manage to leave one naturally, if you were a man who stayed with a lie for months because silence is the strategy which has proved most advantageous to his career, if you were that man, staring down the barrel of the American public such as it is today, would you sound the alarm?

I don't think so.

-- CD (, September 03, 1999.

Well now, Diane, you be better than politicians but the very thought done corrupted ya, swipin rose like that ;^) Walk on the Light side and don't even imagine letting the Dark Force nab ya.

@}->-- 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 @}->-- 3~0 3~0 3~0

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 03, 1999.

Whoops. I know it seems like it's been 10 years since Clinton was elected to office, but I know better. Just tired. Not the optimum time for a Tom Paine style rant.

-- CD (, September 04, 1999.

I enjoyed the rant, CD. It highlighted the difficult situation we're in. We, as a nation, have gotten soft, fat, lazy, and greedy. It would have taken a leader of great moral character and vision to sacrifice the short-term gain for the long-term welfare of the people of this country. We do not have that type of leader in this country. He is only interested in remaining in power and gratifying HIS desires. Sadly, he is a perfect representation of the majority of our nation at this place in time.

If national security was the overriding reason for not raising the Y2K red flag, then how do you explain all the other situations where this President and his adminstration have degraded national security? Missile technology secrets supplied to China, allowing continued spying in our nuclear weapons laboratories, etc., etc. No, national security is NOT an overriding concern for this President. We have to look elsewhere for the motivation.

-- Nabi Davidson (, September 04, 1999.


Applause and cheers...

-- mabel (, September 04, 1999.

The one thing that has gone right under Bill Clinton's presidency has been the economy. He will NOT do anything that he perceives will interfere with the only bright spot in his legacy. He does not want bank runs, he does not want a stock crash. If he were to ring the alarm that Y2K is a big problem, he would most likely get the blame for both. He would never do that, never, never, never. Most especially when the jury is out on how bad Y2K will be.

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 04, 1999.

Deedah is correct. And even though Clinton did little to deserve a great economy, that's the way it goes with Presidents. And, frankly, even if he warned the country about Y2K -- if a panic DID ensure, the national "pollies" would indeed blame him for a bad economic outcome, even if the real reason were Y2K! Or, haven't you been reading this forum over the past year?

If anyone reads this as a personal defense of Clinton, I can only say, ROFLMAO. Not hardly. As a second term president, it is beyond inexcusable that he has decided to re-act, DESPITE what I say above.

But it isn't surprising. And, as I comment myself above, he really can't lose now .... politically.

-- BigDog (, September 04, 1999.

Lewis, your a "Day Late and a dollar Short" on this question. This Administration and Congress had an opportunity to address this problem when the SSA started working on it (1991).

The politicians could not possibly think about upseting the apple cart and thus ruining their potential for reelection and a substantial pension. Addressing the problem back then would have had a severe effect on the economy and the electorate.

Uncle Deedah, you are 100% WRONG about Clinton's economy. This economy has been created by allowing the largest stock market bubble in the history of the world to develop. We DID NOT create this economy through hard work, it was created as the DIRECT result of the stock market bubble. The Piper is right around the corner and the Fed and Administration know it.


-- Ray (, September 04, 1999.

I'll not disagree with your statement, Ray. But it is the PERCEPTION of Clinton's economy among the great un-washed masses that counts to him. That he will not mess with.

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 04, 1999.

That is true Unc!!


-- Ray (, September 04, 1999.

A major purpose that I had in writing my White Paper on Y2K ( was to provide an analysis of the problem, including the embedded systems aspect of the problem. This analysis was written with the President and others in major roles of public responsibility in mind. This includes the media. A major purpose was also to provide all of them with concrete suggestions regarding the steps that need to be taken (described in Part 3). Part 4 (posted August 18) focuses on explanations why the current course of action is in place. Part 5 goes into detail concerning some possible ways that the situation could unfold including recommendations regarding some best case scenarios. This should be up by sometime this week.

By the way, the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Koskinen have all been provided copies. I do not know whether or not the President and the Vice President are familiar with the ideas there. The President's office referred me to Mr. Koskinen. I also do not know if Mr. Koskinen has read the White Paper. I have, however, discussed issues raised there with him directly and via e-mail for the past sixteen months. Part 5 of my White Paper should provide a comparison of differences in our basic assumptions, values, and perspectives concerning what should be done about Y2K.

I hope it will be of help. Videos are available of a wide range of programs at my realvideo website. I hope that these prove useful as well.

Paula Gordon

NOTE: For Parts 1 - 4 of a White Paper on Y2K by Paula Gordon, see (Part 5 coming soon.) For a Y2K Audio/Video webpage of Y2K related programs, see The videotaped proceedings of the July 1999 GW Y2K Conference will soon be posted there. For comments on the conference and copies of prepared statements and related material, see

-- Paula Gordon (, September 07, 1999.

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