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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:28 AM
Original message
The (Real) Trouble With Cronyism
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 09:44 AM by Plaid Adder
This morning on the way in I was pondering Michael Brown's performance at the Katrina hearings, and the problem of cronyism. It occurred to me that there are actually two levels to this problem and most of the discussion has so far only been about Level One.

Cronyism--or, as they used to call it, patronage--is not specific to this administration. It has always been a problem, not just in politics but in any profession. Even once you subtract the ways in which people consciously and unconsciously discriminate against outside applicants on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., you are left with the basic problem that people would rather hire a known quantity than an unknown one, and that at the same time, they have friends they need to repay. In my own profession, I have been at plenty of hiring meetings where I hear people saying, "Oh yes, he's very good," when what they really mean is "Oh yes, I know him" or "Oh yes, I owe his mentor a big favor." I have done my best to combat this but I'll tell you, it's not easy. The temptation is of course greater when you become the chief executive and you've got appointments to hand out like candy to all your friends.

So, any president is going to do a certain amount of crony-appointing. Clinton appointed his friends to important positions too--at least he tried, until they turned out to have undocumented nannies or something and he had to give up on them. But--and here we get to Level Two of the problem--Clinton had better cronies.

As the president goes, so go the cronies. You can say what you want about Clinton but there are some things you cannot deny: 1) that he is smart; 2) that he worked his ass off while he was in office; 3) that he did at least want to do right by the country, even if his desires for popularity, re-election, and nookie often got in the way. And this is why, when he was looking for someone to whip FEMA into shape, he was able to find someone who was a) smart b) willing to work his ass off and c) animated by a sense of how important his job was to the welfare of those affected by it.

Bush's cronies, on the other hand...well, mainly they tend to be good ol' boys with a lot of money who are professional haters of "big government" (defined, apparently, as "a government that actually functions and is solvent") and for whom the motivation is always going to be power and profit. Bush does not put a particularly high value on smarts, having built his entire persona around his own aw-shucks anti-intellectualism, nor is working hard something he cares about except as an increasingly surreal media mantra. So that's the kind of cronies he's got to shove into positions of power.

And you can see the results.

If Katrina teaches America one thing, I hope it will be that intelligence actually does make a difference. It matters whether the person you elect has the brains to do the job. Not just because he himself has to be able to make decisions without asking Condi's permission and consulting Rove's brain, but because he will be in a better position to find competent people to do the other jobs.

From the way elections are run you'd think we're all living in a different universe, where the president's sole responsibility is to travel the country having a beer with each individual constituent. In fact, 99.98% of this country will never have the opportunity to have a beer with the president, but they will have the opportunity to suffer for his mistakes. Is it too much to hope that next time, people will remember that when the shit comes down, what you really need is not a nice guy who's a lot of fun at parties, but someone who can actually figure out how to save you?

Probably,

The Plaid Adder
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. I (heart) P A
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 09:34 AM by BlueEyedSon
Just look at that idiot Karen Hughes' performance....
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:41 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. The Karen Hughes thing is insane.
I thought it was insane that they created that job in the first place, but the way she's doing it is even crazier. More proof that these people are not diabolically clever, but rather diabolically stupid.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. you said it
It's not like we don't have good American Muslim women who could act as a liason or at least brief people before they go overseas. Her Highness Queen Noor was an American before she married into the Jordanian Royal Family, and she is active in Refugees International,whose headquarters are in Washington DC!

And I won't gone on and on about this, but Sufis would be good people to talk to, as they tend to be the most liberal of Muslims and many Sufi Orders are ecumenical in nature-always reaching out to others and trying to figure out a way to live in peace and harmony.
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. They have no fucking clue.
Sufi? Is that like Kofi? they would say.

I mean look at that Blumenthal piece. Hughes is going around talking about how strongly religious America is as if that's a selling point. Who is that supposed to impress? The Islamic fundamentalists? "Our jihad will kick your jihad's ass! Woo!!" It's certainly not going to play well with the moderates, because they don't LIKE fundamentalism, because it's trying to crush them. But it's like that has never occurred to anyone on their team. What, the whole world isn't psyched to hear about what a good Christian I am?

Ah well,

The Plaid Adder
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #11
22. Sufism is the mystical sect of Islam
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 02:13 PM by ayeshahaqqiqa
It is made up of different initiatic orders, and one may belong to more than one order. All the Orders with which I've had acquaintance are ones that seek harmony;they have ceremonies where all are invited, and no proselytizing is allowed-each person's spiritual path is respected. Sufis have a history of tolerance and of trying to build bridges between different groups.
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sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
2. Qualifications are everything
It's really annoying to hear the backspin that political values take precedence over qualifications for the job. It's like saying it's okay for the president to appoint a republican pundit to be fire chief in your home town.

You are dead on - this term will ultimately demonstrate why we need intelligent people dedicated to the purposes of effective government, whether that is in education, public safety, managing the economy, foreign affairs, the environment, and disaster preparedness as much as recovery.

btw :hi:

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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. Whoops, replied to wrong comment
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 10:00 AM by Plaid Adder
n/t
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
3. GOP Does SOVIET Style Cronyism. But Why Not Use Word Facist?
many of these people were installed at the behest of corporatopns to do their bidding... or because they were incompetent enough to just take orders or allow whatever particular agency to fail and thus get out of Big Business's way.
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ComerPerro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
4. The good thing about Clinton cronies is that they were intellectual peers
The unfortuante thing about Bush cronies is that they are, sadly, his intellectual peers.
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
6. Well said. I worked in the Corp world for 4-+ yrs, and all you said
is absolutely true. In my experiences, the recommendation of a very respected employee was much more valuable than anything that could be put on a rsume.

It's also an unspoken assumption that if some executive, who only has HIS job bacause of a relationship or "influence" and not his ability, recomends someone, that person is probbly not going to be a very good employee as well.

Like kinds do tend to hang out together.
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
7. I'm growing increasingly disillusioned with the federal government
I think it's too unreliable, too corrupt, too destructive to the interests of the American working man. When you've read through this, maybe you'd get a better understanding of the depth of my disillusionment with the federal government in general. The only way people will save themselves is if they use their heads and their hands together collectively, not by relying on some corrupt bureaucrat or politician thousands of miles away to make a decision for them that the people themselves have always had the power to make.

http://bernie.org/wordpress/?p=41
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #7
17. I think you've misunderstood the thread..
Government IS people using their hands and heads together collectively..
It's mis-administration and bad management that poisons the civil service.
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #7
20. BushCo wants you to hate the government
like you've never hated it before.

That's what I take away from this.

He is trying to make the government irrelevant by putting in people who are not only incompetent - but also out to destroy whatever agency they are in - be it the UN, the Supreme Court, the EPA, the FDA, FEMA or whatever.

And privatize everything - all the better for cronyism. And all the worse for the rest of us.

I wouldn't mind getting a cost-plus no-bid contract. We should all get them. It would be far better than welfare or food stamps or even subsidies. It would be paying people for work without them having to jump through hoops.

The problem is there is no competing with these people (the cronys with the contracts) who would sell their soul to BushCo to get it. Or like Gonzales - justify torture - and look at his reward. He'll probably get on the Supreme Court before it's over. Brown getting a contract. If that wasn't done to make people hate the government - then I don't know what.
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
8. bush cronies tend to have purty mouths
...just an observation.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
12. Part of it is whether or not you expect Federal Government to work
Republicans don't. They expect it to fail; or, even better, not to try in the first place. So having non-entities like Brown in charge of something they expect to fail, well it's really no big deal.

Democrats should expect a bit more.

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
13. This needed, & deserved, a 5th recommendation. Great post, P A!
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Inland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
14. Nicely done. nt
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Mr_Spock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
15. "It's hard work bein' Presnit"
:rofl:

Yeah, it is. :D
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:58 AM
Response to Original message
16. BushCo: Where the Culture of Corruption Meets the Culture of Stupidity
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:18 AM
Response to Original message
18. Clinton also appointed people who were across party lines.
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 11:19 AM by The Backlash Cometh
Which may have proved his downfall. i.e. Louis Freeh. Unfortunately, I understand the basic reasoning behind cronyism, but I have a big problem with a president who doesn't allow those appointees to grow in their position. For Bush, and the Republicans, it's always about loyalty and following an ideology even when it defies reason.

In Louis Freeh's case and Clarence Thomas, you see the other edge. They are examples of people who Democrats were/are too timid to point out the incompetence of the appointee BECAUSE they are Republicans.
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tk2kewl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:19 AM
Response to Original message
19. Absolutely... I have been saying this since Bernie Kerik
And I have been saying that these idiots should be used as examples in the hearings for SCOTUS. If this is the quality of his friends and confidantes, why should we give anyone the benefit of the doubt?
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
21. "Halliburton threatens Army officials who point out contract abuse"
"...One point I need to make very clear: in my 18 years in contracting, I had never, with any other company except Halliburton, been treated in such a demeaning and intimidating manner," Watts told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. "When pointing out to Halliburton personnel their contractual non-compliances, I was threatened verbally and physically intimidated for performing my job," she said.

Watts told the committee about frightening examples of Halliburton officials throwing temper tantrums or telephoning her home after midnight to scream at her for awarding contracts to competitors. In one instance, she was verbally accosted after informing the company that it violated regulations by failing to award 20 percent of subcontracts in Alaska to small businesses.

Watts, who worked for USACE for 12 years, is a self-described Republican who voted both times for President George W. Bush. She says contracting abuse and intimidation by her employer occurred in the Clinton administration as well.

"The problems are systemic and have been occurring for decades through both Republican and Democrat administrations," she said. "Please serve the interests of the American people and address this as an issue of right and wrong nothing more, nothing less..."

http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/watts.html
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