Today's Blogs

Git ‘Er Dunn

Bloggers react to news that Hewlett-Packard’s chairwoman will be stepping down. They also bristle at Dick Cheney’s remarks on Meet the Press and cheer a recent stingray killing spree.

Git ‘er Dunn: Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn announced Tuesday that she will step down in January. News emerged last week that Dunn had hired private investigators to find the source of press leaks within the board of directors. The spies’ practice of “pretexting”—impersonating board members to obtain their phone records—may have been illegal, but Dunn denies knowing about the investigators’ methods. Bloggers aren’t so sure.

“Maybe she really is the ultimate delegator,” writes David Berlind at business blog Between the Lines. “But with a project of this sensitive nature, you don’t just make a few phone calls, delegate, and tell the people to get back to you.  Not if you’re the sort of person that come from where Dunn has come from. There’s more to this story that’s not being told.”

HP issued a press release this morning in which Dunn said investigators used “certain inappropriate techniques” that “went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed.” John Carney at DealBreaker has a schoolmarm’s phobia for the passive voice: “There’s no assigning of responsibility to anyone in these words. Certainly not to Dunn herself. It’s half-hearted at best. At worst it may even be dishonest. … This does not exactly inspire confidence that Dunn or the rest of the board understand the gravity of their hirelings’ misconduct.” Management consultant Tom Peters spies a trend of leaders denying accountability when bad things happen on their watch: “Your watch. Your responsibility. That’s the whole damn point of a chain of command—in Iraq or Palo Alto. Step down, Ms Dunn.”

Emma Coleman Jordan at Georgetown Law Faculty Blog argues that the HP drama sheds light on the topic of boardroom gender relations: “Does the escalation of conflict within the HP board have anything to do with the power struggles of women seeking to play ‘hardball’ with the boys?  Is this corporate ‘Thatcherism’, in which women executives have to invade the corporate equivalent of the Falklands to show their skill at bare-knuckled corporate infighting?”

Despite the reshuffling, HP stock was still trending up as late as Monday. “Tech geek” Robert Scoble at Scobleizer attributes the uptick to investors anticipating a new board: “The problem is, what if this board stays in place? Is there any chance that this board will be able to heal the rifts, get through the bad PR, and start doing anything close to what a board is supposed to do?”

Silicon Valley blog ValleyWag provides a handy primer on pretexting. SFist posts a relevant music video.

Read more about the HP fallout.

Cheney vs. Russert: Vice President Dick Cheney defended the decision to invade Iraq on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday and, in a not-so-veiled jab at his critics, said terrorists draw hope from seeing Americans who “don’t have the stomach for the fight.” Liberal bloggers take it personally.

University of Maryland grad student Isaac Smith at The Old Line says Cheney’s spiel is “paradigmatic of the Republicans’ strategy: Even criticizing current administration policy will cause us to lose Iraq (assuming it can even be saved in the first place); likewise with terrorism, taxes, energy policy, etc. The challenge of our time, then, is to refute the slander that opposition to the current government is opposition to America itself.”

When host Tim Russert pressed Cheney on the WMD question, he replied that Saddam “had a robust nuclear program in ‘91” and that “if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing.” Columnist Randy Scholfield at the Wichita Eagle’s blog wonders, then “what was all the prewar debate about WMDs for? Guess the cynics were right who said the Bush team had already made up its mind to go to war with Iraq, imminent threat or not, congressional approval or not.”

MrA at Manderson’s Bubble calls the notion that criticizing the war will help terrorists “an interesting reversal of truths. The war we are involved in WAS the goal of the terrorists, and every day that we occupy Iraq we are increasing extremist fundamentalism in the middle east.”

Read more about Cheney’s Meet the Press appearance.

Irwin’s revenge: Mutilated stingray corpses have been appearing along the Australian coast, prompting speculation that people are killing them as revenge for the late naturalist Steve Irwin’s recent death.

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway guesses that “fear, not revenge, motivating these killings. Despite it being a freak accident, I’m sure people figure that if a man who wrestles crocs for a living can be killed by a stingray, they must be incredibly dangerous.”

David Weigel at Reason’s Hit & Run runs the headline, “Steve Irwin’s Ghost Wreaks Its Bloody Revenge”: “Really, did the vast Stingray Empire think it could fell Steve Irwin so easily?” Robert Basler at Reuters Newsblogs figures the killing spree could have been worse: “I’m glad he wasn’t killed by a golden retriever or panda or little kitten.”

Read more about Steve Irwin’s avengers.