Green Voicemail

Friday, May 28, 2004

Principles of Leadershit

I've been hired many times, and actually never fired. I have, however, decided to leave my place of employment a few times before I killed someone.

Nearly each time I was tempted to seek new horizons, it could always be attributed to one thing. Leadership. Particularly, the lack of leadership. The boss that everyone liked for twenty years would retire -- or quit -- and new faces would be brought in, faces that decided to tear everything ass up. And things would not get any better because of the tearing up, and everyone would hate the place and you could almost sense the inevitable slide downhill. I was simply the first rat off the sinking ship.

If you think about it, the Presidency is not too far removed from being the boss of a very large workplace with 260 million people in it. Sometimes, you can sense the slide almost immediately; sometimes, things get better. And in the end, like baseball, they tend to forget a president's personal failures and focus on the overall stat sheet.

Think about the so called "great presidents": Washington, who started with the idea of a government and a presidency, and set the example of appropriate behavior. Lincoln, who entered the office with the country divided, and exited it after a great civil war that ended with a captive country freed and who even earned the respect of his enemies (most of them, anyway) after his death. Roosevelt, who entered office after a depression and exited it by death thirteen years later with America on the verge of becoming a world superpower and an amazing war-fueled economic recovery.

Furthermore, think about the presidents regarded by most historians as generally crappy: John Adams, who annoyed the young country with his Alien and Sedition Acts; the string of crappy presidents before Lincoln who simply let the problem of an increasingly militant South fester; Hoover, who did too little, too late to fight off the economic depression that ate up the last two years of his term; Lyndon Johnson, who brought us Vietnam; Nixon, who attempted to destroy the American constitution. Carter, the micromanager who proved ineffective both in Iran and with the economy.

Some of these poor presidents were actually rather nice people. Carter might be the best ex-president ever. Hoover was probably a genuinely nice man trapped by circumstance that he couldn't control. About Johnson and Nixon, the less said, the better.

However, you look at the balance in the end. Was the country made stronger, or made weaker after their stewardship? Success, like it or not, is the benchmark. "Are you now better off than you were four years ago? Are you safer? Do you have more money in your pocket? Do you have hope? Is the water fresher? Is your job okay?"

Right now, the sense of the argument I seem to be getting from the Right is that "Well, sure, things in Iraq, and in the economy, and in the price of a gallon of gas are going to Hell on a slow freight -- but Bush is such a nice man. He loves Jesus Christ. He is a GOOD man, and I'm sure that things will go nicely if a good man is running them."

Well, Hoover and Carter were good men, too. And Carter believed in Christ as much as Bush claims to. But no one has ever mistaken Carter for being a great president.

Like it or not, Bush's balance sheet is very poor after his four years. Voting for Bush because he's a nice man who loves Jesus is akin to the women who wanted the law to let Ted Bundy go because he was so good looking. It may be true that Bush's heart gives off a aura only given off by puppies and kittens, it may be true that that Ted Bundy is one sexy man...but that's beside the point.

Some say that Bush is popular because America wants a president they could have a drink with. Let's ask the converse question -- are all of your drinking buddies suitable candidates for President? Of course not.

When the "very nice man" argument doesn't work, the defenders of Bush trot out the "trapped by circumstances" argument. It goes like this:

"If it weren't for [blank], people would love George Bush."

That "blank" has been replaced by about a thousand things. Clinton. Gore. Kerry. The media. Liberals. Iraq. Saddam. Those missing WMDs. The Economy. The United Nations. The argument states that if George could just get his lil' legs over that insurmountable hurdle, that we would be greeting Bush's campaign stops with candy and flowers. Combined with above, it can lead to conspiratorial thinking, that Bush is a God among men who was stopped by evil forces beyond any person's control.

A corollary to that argument is the "light at the end of the tunnel":

"When [blank] changes, then people will love George Bush."

Fill in the blank. When people know more about how evil John Kerry is. When the media stops lying about Bush. When we win in Iraq. When the economy makes the drastic turnaround hidden by the evil liberal media. Or even when time passes and things just get better, the way the tide lifts a boat. "We true believers will keep having faith, and tomorrow the corner will turn and we shall be rewarded for our faith."

Sometimes I feel sorry for the rightists. They're trapped in a room full of horse shit, digging furiously and swearing that there's a new pony in there, somewhere. There's really not a lot you can do except to be there for them when they succumb to the stench, as more and more seem to be doing these days.

I have a book somewhere which I can't find called the "Irrefutable Laws of Leadership". The author of the book, a pastor, tells the story of how he once had lunch with a man whose job, at one time, was in charge of the acquisition and restructuring of new companies. This man would locate failing companies with potential, turn them into successes, and then sell the companies after they had earned enough of a profit.

The author asked the man what was his first step after acquiring a failing enterprise.

"Fire the boss."

The author was surprised. It didn't seem to make much sense. After all, the new owner didn't even know the boss. How, asked the author, can you be certain that you're not making the mistake of firing what might be one of the few dynamic leaders in the company?

"If he were such a great leader," the man asked, "would the company be in the mess its in?" Something you can ask your conservative friends to think about.

posted by Green Voicemail 5/28/2004 12:45:00 PM

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Operation "Avoid Responsibility" Off to Fast Start

Washington -- President Bush unfurled a new plan designed to return Iraq to the list of stable government and ensure peace in the volatile Middle East.

The new plan, called "Operation Avoid Responsibility" calls on a new operation doctrine from the President called "disengagement without disentanglement". In that plan, Iraq will begin its transition to self-rule by beginning a rapid transition to full accountability for the stability of Iraq.

Under the plan, President Bush will "disengage" from responsibility dealing with planning, supervision, or any sort of decision making in Iraq. This responsibility will be transferred immediately to either a new regime or to the United Nations depending, according to a press release from the White House, on "whichever entity is most willing to accept a sustained disengagement policy". Spokepersons in the White House complained that the United Nations has shriked its duties in the past. An anonymous source in the State Department stated, "We're waiting for the United Nations to step up to the plate. President Bush has offered a bold policy, but it takes two to disengage and we hope the United Nations will take the appropriate steps."

In the future, questions about military deaths, violations of the Geneva Convention, the use of contractors either as suppliers or as combatants are to be referred immediately to the Iraqi government and not the United States government.

However, President Bush states that the United States military will continue Operation Iraqi Freedom and continue to provide a military presence in Iraq. A future stage of Operation Avoid Responsibility will transfer any liability-based conflict issues to a future Iraqi military. "We will not disentangle from Iraq. We will continue to keep our troops there," said President Bush in the Rose Garden today. "However, the heavy moral weight of an occupation will be transferred to the new Iraqi government. We look forward to a new Iraqi government bearing the burden of ensuring freedom that we have borne for so long."

"With our new Iraqi allies, we can continue the supply side of sustained military actions in Iraq. We will be the "inside people" and the new government in Iraq will be the "outside people"". President Bush believes that Operation Avoid Responsibility will be so successful that plans are being made to increase troop levels in Iraq by 50,000 by January 2005.

Lance Corporal Paul Cullen, stationed in Iraq, was cheered by the President's speech. "The news from Abu Ghraib sort of brought the troops down. Now that we know that the Iraqi government will handle the questions, that frees us up a lot."

posted by Green Voicemail 5/26/2004 07:45:00 PM

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Blog Trough

Is what I'm in right now. Too many things going on in my life. And the news is too depressing. Hope to be back soon.

posted by Green Voicemail 5/23/2004 09:45:00 PM

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