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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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More US Anti-Competitiveness Masquerading As Security Isssues

Comments (6)

Sometimes it’s best not to read the newspaper first thing in the morning.  Randall Stross has an excellent and disturbing article in today’s New York Times titled “Looking at the Free Market, and Seeing Red.” It leads with the story of Lou Dobbs bashing Lenovo and their recent deal to sell $13 million of computers to the US State Department.  Dobbs asserts that the PCs will provide spies within the Chinese government a way of conducting espionage.  His sound bite on the lead in was something like “when the State Department seeks secure network communications it turns to Communist China and thus renders the United States perhaps more vulnerable than ever.”

Give me a fucking break.  Last month this kind of xenophobic nonsense killed Check Point’s acquisition of Sourcefire.  This time around, Dobbs and some guy named Michael Wessel who is a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (an advisory body to Congress) and Larry Wortzel (the chairman on this same commission) are kicking up a bunch of dust about how dangerous it would be for the government to buy Lenovo computers.

Now – I’m not going to go so far as to say something absurd like “Lenovo is a national treasure” (I’m sure if it was still IBM’s Personal Computer Division, which is a big part of Lenovo, someone would use that argument), but given that Lenovo is a public company traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has an American CEO (a former executive at Dell), is partially owned by several American private-equity firms, and the computers in question are manufactured in North Carolina, my mind just boggles at the things these guys are saying.

Fundamentally, guys like Dobbs, Wessel, and Wortzel are using “security issues” and “xenophobia” to tarnish the reputation of a global company in an attempt to undermine a deal with the US government.  Maybe these guys should get focused on making sure these same Chinese that they assert are pulling all the strings would stop buying up the massive amounts of US debt that our government continues to issue – that seems like a little more “dangerous” issue to me (actually, the debt, not so much the owners of the debt.)

Maybe Penn and Teller should do an episode on Bullshit! on Dobbs and the current “security issues” running around our government that are really anti-competitiveness attacks reminiscent of the moochers in Atlas Shrugged.  Blech.

  • http://dwlt.net/ dwlt

    Well said. And I thought some of the “commentary” on the ports deal was over the top…

  • http://andrewbfife.blogspot.com Andrew Fife

    Brad:
    You know what, on second thought; I forgot how bad our government�s security actually is. The GAO’s latest FISMA security audit results, which were released 3/16/06, flunked the following agencies that clearly host some of our nation’s most sensitive data:

    F = Department of Defense
    F = Department of Homeland Security
    D- = Treasury

    Why would Lenovo or Check Point need to write back doors for their respective governments when our most crucial federal agencies can’t even get the security basics right?

    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1938866,00.asp

    -Andrew

  • Kerry Thacher

    Brad,

    You know, this gets my blood boiling again,given that it mentions Lou Dobbs. His form of “journalism” is the cheapest, lowest form of the profession other than guys like Povich Why CNN choses to give this guy a podium for thinly veiled xenophobia and racism is beyond me. I guess the mantra is “whatever sells”. The sooner people tune out this despicable blowhard the better.

  • http://www.ajira.com Nari Kannan

    Lou Dobbs is the new Chuck Barris of News! If you have not seen the movie “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” directed by George Clooney, I highly recommend it!

    Chuck invented TV shows like The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, etc that broke new ground in TV shows by being cruder, exploitative and decried heavily by the critics! However, the audience watched in droves making them highly successful! Chuck Barris also claimed to be a CIA hit man and many think he made a lot of these stuff up!

    Lou Dobbs is breaking new ground in the Xenophobic, anti-competitive spin news area. Watch for more of these kinds of guys popping up on TV and Talk radio before the 2008 elections!

    Xenophobia, immigration and anti-competitive issues are waiting to be tapped for the next Presidential election! And there will be a new crop of journalists like Lou Dobbs to tap into it! Already the Michael Savage radio show is No.3 on the radio show list! He’s Lou Dobbs three times over.

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