Will President Obama’s New Leadership Model Cripple U.S. Management Competence For Decades?

America in ruins

 It seems to be a distinct possibility.

The President of the United States is the culture’s most powerful, visible and influential leader. Like it of not, he is also a role model for leadership and management across society. He has the most responsibility, the largest organization to oversee, and the most vital interests at stake. The management and leadership techniques he uses necessarily set a standard others, especially young, inexperienced, aspiring leaders and management, will be encouraged to emulate.

What are they learning? To begin with, they are learning to accept a startlingly low standard for “confidence.”

The President has now issued two statements that he has “confidence” in the Secret Service. The assessment has special significance because the health and safety, the very lives, of the President, his wife, his young children and his staff is in the Secret Service’s hands, and the agency would seem to have demonstrated beyond all doubt that it is incapable of meeting any reasonable expectations or trust. We know that the agents are barely trained, and that they lack professionalism and self discipline. We know that agents availed themselves of prostitutes in South America, and got drunk on duty in Amsterdam. We know that  a gunman fired at least seven bullets that struck the upstairs residence of the White House in 2011, aided by a botched Secret Service response, and that just this month a deranged fence-jumper got into the residence and was running amuck before he was stopped.

The Service’s statement on that incident was jaw-dropping, saying agents “showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with” an intruder who could have had a bomb or deadly intent. How could this President, any President, any leader, any manager, have “confidence” in a security force under these circumstances, with its own management displaying such a bizarre attitude?

Well, I don’t know. It’s a brand new paradigm, the most lassez faire, gentle, kind,empathetic and understanding, hands-off, no-fault, no standards, no accountability leadership style I have ever seen at any management level higher than a lemonade stand. I’m sure many members of the public, especially those who goof off at their jobs, steal supplies, file fake reports, arrive to work stoned, never finish assigned tasks and think they have a right to keep their jobs and paychecks no matter how useless they are, would love to have Obama as a boss. Such a boss would express confidence in the most obviously inept and untrustworthy employee imaginable, and apparently mean it. And never, never fire him. Continue reading

Culture Of Unaccountability: Of Course The President Should Fire John Brennan, And Of Course He Won’t

CIA Director John Brennan Speaks At The Council On Foreign Relations

Democratic Senators, who for some strange reason don’t think they should be spied on while the Director of the C.I.A. lies to their faces, are indignantly calling for John Brennan, who did the lying and was probably behind the spying too, to either resign, or be fired. On Tuesday, it was revealed that contrary to what Brennan swore was true in March, the spy agency has been illegally monitoring  the computers of Senate staffers investigating Bush administration interrogation practices, a.k.a. torture. This means that in March, when Brennan went before  the Council of Foreign Relations and responded to questions about allegations of such activities and said…

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the scope of reason.”

…he lied. Or, in the alternative, as is always a good possibility in the administration of Barack Obama, he had no idea what was going on in his own department, just like, if they are all to believed, Hillary Clinton at the State Department, the various heads of the I.R.S., the NSA’s James Clapper, the Veterans Administration ex-chief Eric Shinseki, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sibelius as the Affordable Care Act fell apart under her oversight, and of course, the President himself, whose non-leadership style infects all he surveys. Thus it should be no surprise to anyone that the immediate response to this news by the President was that it was all a big misunderstanding, and that Brennan has his “full confidence.” Continue reading

Rand Paul’s Dumb, Wasteful and Irresponsible Fillibuster

The sequel, "Mr. Smith Gets Stupid" was not a success.

The sequel, “Mr. Smith Gets Stupid” was not a success.

Sen. Rand Paul proved to my satisfaction that he doesn’t have the intellectual chops to be a U.S. Senator with his foolish argument in 2010 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional, while suggesting that he would have voted against it. (For the record, Paul’s been targeted on Ethics Alarms for various ethics transgressions five times since 2010. He is not our favorite Senator.) You can hide IQ inadequacies a long time on Capitol Hill—look at Joe Biden—but those missing points are telling at the moment, as Paul stages an embarrassing, silly, and wasteful filibuster in the old style, doing his best “Mr. Smith” impression to block the inevitable confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.

Sen. Paul says he’ll talk until he drops or until the Obama administration states definitively that it doesn’t have the right to “kill an American on American soil.” Why is this such a high priority for Paul? Eric Holder answered his office’s query on the topic with this eminently reasonable response, which Paul has managed to completely misconstrue. Holder said in part, Continue reading

Trust, Redemption, and Bank-robbing Lawyers

The story of Shon Hopwood is certainly an inspiring one…so far. While serving more than a decade in federal prison for a series of armed robberies, his time in the prison law library turned him into an expert in case law, and he pulled off a rare feat: a petition for certiori he prepared on behalf of a fellow prisoner successfully persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Now Hopwood is out of prison, and is turning his life around. He has been working as a paralegal, he now has a family, and at 34, he plans to apply to law school.

It is likely that a law school will admit him, but not at all certain that any state bar would give him a license. Can a former bank robber pass the profession’s character requirement? Should he, no matter how good he is at writing Supreme Court briefs? Continue reading