Friday, September 5, 2008

We should be fair to Sarah Palin

To do otherwise, would be an insult to her. To treat her with kid-gloves because she is a hockey-mom with lipstick? That is one neutered pit bull. Since we know so little about her, I think careful scrutiny is in order. Did she really seek to ban books her and her evangelical Christian brothers and sisters had issues with? If so, let's discuss what that means. As mayor and governor, did she capriciously fire appointees because she valued their dogma and loyalty more than their competence? Fair question. Competent executives value competent subordinates, not yes men and women. If her "executive experience" counts for anything, we should scrutinize the decisions she has made and on what basis she evaluated her staff. Fair questions of any executives, particularly those who have held executive positions for such a short time, over such a small number of individuals.

Kneedeep pointed out to me that Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined. That may be true, but I value competence far more than experience. Good executives ask tough and insightful questions of subordinates. Good executives seek divergent views. Colin Powell once said, "if you hire a yes man, one of you is redundant." Early returns from Alaska suggest that Palin wanted loyalty more than competence or diversity of opinion. Palin was an ideological right-wing autocrat who seeked to impose her own warped views upon the citizens of Alaska. I'm willing to entertain evidence to the contrary, but like most people, I know only fragments of what her little experience tells us about her.

One thing that dawned on me, in retrospect, was that without giving my IRL information out, that I, Obi wan liberali, have more executive experience than Joseph Biden, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Sarah Palin combined. Though I haven't been a governor for just over a year, and a mayor of a small city, when looking back at the number of FTE's that report to me, and the timeframes that I have managed them, I could make a solid argument that I have more executive experience than all of the candidates combined. Of course, it is true that I have more executive experience than Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy combined before they assumed the Presidency.

Obi wan for President.


steve u. said...

You propose issues of legitimate inquiry. Dig in.

However, your statement -- "Palin was an ideological right-wing autocrat who [sought] to impose her own warped views upon the citizens of Alaska" -- seems to require some reconciliation with her off-the-charts approval rating. While approval ratings can be silly measuring sticks, this tends to suggest that the citizens of Alaska don't think they had warped views imposed upon them.

Anonymous said...

Obi wan,

If you want to polish up your IRL resume and pick a good running mate I would be happy to see you enter the race. It's probably too late for 2008, but in 2012 you could be hoping to get as much support as Kucinich (assuming that there is no incumbent Obama in the race) while you bring a dose of mainstream America to the race (meaning not the perspective of yet another politician-for-life).

Vote for Obi.

Anonymous said...

The comparison between JFK and Obama is a fair one. Both bright promising first term senators. On the other hand, JFK was an officer in the Navy in WWII and served with distinction. So in that regard, Obama is lighter.

Nevertheless, JFK's youth and inexperience was indeed a problem. His decision to invade Cuba in the Bay of Pigs fiasco has been attributed to his reliance on his advisors and not asking enough questions.

Other notes about JFK are interesting. In his inaugural address he did say that the US goverment should "do God's work". He also said we should "defend every friend, fight every foe". He also cut taxes in order to boost the then ailing 1961 economy.

So cut taxes, fight our enemies, invoke God....sounds to me like JFK's principles were more like McCain's than Obama's.

Obi wan liberali said...

Steve, I've never equated popularity with ideological appeal. Look at Utah's Governor who has such high approval ratings despite being perceived by conservatives as ideologically more a RINO than a "real conservative." Personally, I've perceived Gov. Huntsman as someone more interested in getting his picture on the news than in actually reforming state government. I could be wrong but that is my perception.

David, I appreciate the kind words, but I think I'm probably not very mainstream, in fact I have a tendency to be rather critical of the mainstream. I would prefer that the mainstream be inspired to new and more reasonable paradigms than the ones that seem to pervade the current culture.

Kneedeep, JFK certainly had little experience, and his military service though heroic, was short-lived. On the bright-side as far as Obama is concerned, here is a highly educated individual whose social circle is not among the elites and powerful, but with people who have faced their own struggles.

Personally, I experience isn't as important as judgment is. I've known many people in positions of great responsibility who I would not vote for President, specifically because of how they have performed in that light.

One thing I think Obama will do which JFK did, was seek to bring people into his administration based upon their competence, not upon their strict adherence to ideology. I think Obama seeks divergent opinions.

Jason The said...

You got my vote

Anonymous said...

I would like to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, but it would be helpful if there was some evidence, any evidence, of accomplishment or reform. He didn't shake up the notorious Illinois Democratic machine, he hasn't authored any significant legislation in the US Senate, he hasn't chaired any committee looking into all the sewage that is Washington. He has been in the senate for 3 1/2 years and 2 of that he has been campaigning for President. But he has had time to ask for $750MM in earmarks and write his second memoir.

As for judgement, he was against the surge and now says it was wildly successful. He says we should raise the capital gain tax rates even if it means less revenue. He has repeatedly called for a windfall profits tax on oil companies without being able to tell us the difference between windfall profits and regular ole ordinary profits. Nor has he explained why oil companies who currently earn 11% net profit margin should pay more taxes than most other companies in other businesses who make a much larger profit margin. Nor has he explained how taxing oil companies more will lower the price of energy.

So I am waiting, eagerly for any evidence of his accomplishments, reforms or judgement.

Anonymous said...

You were saying something about the police investigating protestors in Minneapolis with no justification?

Two Austin Men Arrested in RNC Molotov Cocktail Plot

CBS 42 Reporter: Rebecca Taylor
Last Update: 9/06 9:47 pm

Bradley Neil Crowder of Austin (Midland Co. Sheriff's Office)

Two Austin men are charged in federal court in Minneapolis with illegally possessing Molotov cocktails. Authorities say the men planned to target law enforcement during the Republican National Convention.

22-year-old David Guy McKay and 23-year-old Bradley Neil Crowder are each charged with one count of possession of firearms that were not registered to them.

The two men were in custody following an initial court appearance Friday. A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Minneapolis. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys.

According to an FBI affidavit, federal authorities say the plan was to hurl those homemade explosives at a parking lot outside the RNC.

The lot was used by law enforcement, and patrolled by U.S. Secret Service and the military.

McKay allegedly told an FBI informant he wasn’t worried about cops getting hurt.

“It’s worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Police seized eight Molotov cocktails from an apartment home in St. Paul. According to the affidavit, McKay told federal authorities he and Crowder made the cocktails to get back at someone or something.

Copyright 2008, Four Points Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Obi wan liberali said...

Well, let's see, how about sponsoring a bill in Illinois giving a boatload of uninsured children medical insurance. How about ethics reform legislation in both Illinois and the U.S.

As for judgment, Obama opposed the war in Iraq, McCain supported it. Though I supported the surge, and Obama did not, I'll side with the guy that opposed an unnecessary war, than disagreed on how to prosecute that war once an insurgency had become endemic. And McCain had also been supportive of the work of Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (prior to Abu Ghraib) and General Casey's light footprint strategy.

As for the groups that were infiltrated in St. Paul, does the fear of a couple of conspirators justify the arrests and detaining of so many? How far down the road to a police state are we willing to go in order to foil a potential attack? I'm guessing I draw that line differently.

Our Republic was founded under the idea that it is better that 10 guilty men go free, than an innocent man should be jailed wrongly. The situation in Gitmo shows that the burden of proof has fallen upon the accused, and even if someone is innocent there, they have no recourse. A government that will do this to citizens of other nations is only another terrorist attack from doing this to it's own people in a systematic way.

Anonymous said...

Obi, I will assume for now you were joking when you mentioned ethics reform as an accomplishment. Below is from my former employer, the LA Times, that notorious right wing mouthpiece.

New ethics rules won't spoil Democratic convention parties

Lobbyists find exemptions in the law, so free liquor and a poker tournament await lawmakers in Denver.

By Cynthia Dizikes
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 25, 2008

WASHINGTON — In time-honored fashion, members of Congress attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver will find a social calendar crammed with glitzy parties and lavish entertainment, all courtesy of those tireless friends of the powerful: Washington lobbyists.

Lawmakers can sample single-malt Scotches, single-barrel bourbons or politically themed cocktails like the Blue State and the Maverick as guests of the Distilled Spirits Council. They can rub shoulders with celebrities like actor Ben Affleck and comedian Sarah Silverman, thanks to the nation's professional poker players.

Or they can just kick back in hospitality suites provided by corporate sponsors as diverse as railroad companies and Google Inc.

But wait a minute. Didn't a reform-minded Congress pass ethics rules intended to stop just this sort of thing? In the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, didn't it impose new restrictions on members attending convention events hosted by lobbyists?

Indeed it did. But because of the way that Congress wrote the rules, many of the old practices may still continue with seemingly little more than cosmetic changes.

Take those star-studded poker games. The new law contains an exemption for events that benefit a charity. So the Poker Players Alliance has stipulated that the proceeds of its tournament will benefit Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The law also prohibits a member from attending an event that honors the member. But the House Ethics Committee has interpreted this to mean that parties recognizing a group of members are fine.

So Visa and U.S. Bank are helping to sponsor a reception for first-term lawmakers in a Denver town house rented by the lobbying firm Parven Pomper Strategies Inc., which counts Chevron and Pfizer among its clients.

And enjoying all those fancy whiskeys and special cocktails is permissible under the new law too, in part because the distillers will provide a presentation promoting social responsibility and the prevention of underage drinking.

"Adjustments have been made, but it is along the same lines of events that we've had in the past," said Frank Coleman, senior vice president of public affairs at the Distilled Spirits Council.

All this is not to say nothing has changed. The rules, and some politicians' desire to campaign as reformers, have had a muting effect on the entertaining.

Despite some of the exemptions and generous interpretations, the conventions are no longer viewed as "ethics-free zones," said Jan Witold Baran, an expert in ethics and campaign finance at the law firm Wiley Rein.

"That is not to say that there will be no parties at the conventions," Baran added.

There will be at least 400 of them, according to a list compiled by the lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates and obtained by the Sunlight Foundation. Many will be sponsored by lobbying firms and corporations like AT&T and Eli Lilly.

Even so, awareness of the new law is so high that Parven Pomper Vice President Alixandria Lapp, for one, made sure to run its reception menu by a lawyer before taking it to the caterers. Under what is known as the "toothpick rule," a reception can offer only food and refreshment of a nominal value.

"We are just following the guidelines of the ethics committee, and we are completely staying within what they have deemed appropriate," Lapp said.

The whole thing has watchdog groups fuming. They say some of the interpretations violate the spirit of the new law, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.

"I don't like the role of stepping in and being a party pooper," said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist with the nonpartisan watchdog group Public Citizen. But, he added, "it is the members of Congress that will have to face the consequences of any violations."

As for that reception for House freshmen, Holman said, "I would be astounded if a single freshmen Democrat dared show up at that party. It is just hypocrisy at its worse."

Obi wan liberali said...

Brevity my friend. I didn't imply that Obama's ethics reform was a total success. Legislators and lobbyists from both parties have managed to find loopholes, just as they did with McCain's campaign finance reform bill. Did we move in the right direction? Yes. Did it accomplish as much as I would have liked? No. That is the nature of the game. In order to get bi-partisan support, compromises may have been made.

Anonymous said...

Just confirming that you're calling an "ethics reform bill" that is nothing more than a excuse for a press release from Nancy Pelosi an accomplishment.

Obi wan liberali said...

It improved things, it didn't solve the problem but moved things in the right direction. Perhaps you would like to move things back?

I expect you to be an advocate for ethics reform here in Utah. As soon as you have your own blog, you can start joining me in that quest. I appreciate your support.

Anonymous said...

The Utah legislature is a cesspool without even a gesture to democracy and procedure. My only hope is that the demographics are changing and that slowly the mafia that runs the legislature will be diluted.

In my fantasy world:
1. It would be illegal to take a pencil from a lobbyist
2. Bills would be straight up and down votes (not spinach research council pork in the DoD appropriation bill)
3. All elected officials would be required to send their kids to public schools, have to buy health insurance on the open market, fly commercial, and not have a pension plan.
4. Congress' pay is linked to a balanced budget each year.
5. The income tax code would be used to collect revenue only and not fine tune personal behavior.