Archive for October, 2014

“The Culture of Passing the Buck”

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Jackie Gingrich Cushman writes at

The director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, was questioned this past Tuesday by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding lapses in Secret Service Performance. The hearing focused primarily on an incident that took place on September 19. Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, allegedly jumped the White House fence, ran across the White House lawn, ran up a flight of stairs and through the North Portico door. He then allegedly entered the entrance hall, turned left and headed into the East Room, where he was tackled and subdued. A knife was allegedly found in his possession.
Despite Pierson’s acknowledgment during the hearing that “mistakes were made,” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., was unimpressed. “I wish to God you protected the White House like you’re protecting your reputation here today,” he said.
Unfortunately, this is not the only recent Secret Security breach…
It is not only the Secret Service that lacks candor. So too does the man they’re supposed to be protecting.

During an interview that aired this past weekend on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Obama responded to criticism of his dealings with ISIS. “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said. Notice that Obama did not say “we underestimated”; instead he said, “they underestimated.”
As humans, we all are influenced by our environment. If it is expected that we perform at our best, then we are more likely to perform at a high level. In sports, this tone is set by the coach or the general manager. But if no one sets the bar high, then we are more likely to turn in a mediocre performance. This also holds true for companies, institutions and bureaucracies. If one witnesses others omitting, spinning and realigning the truth to serve a purpose, then why should it be surprising when others do it as well?

We should hold not just the Secret Service, but all leaders in our government, to a standard of transparency, authenticity and responsibility for both success and failures.

It’s true. I recall a memorandum written by an executive under whom I was working, about fifteen years ago, dictating a sharp reversal of travel from his previous direction. I recall he put it right in the body of the text, “I am so angry with myself for going” the other way. Without understanding all of the details, I cannot say these were wise words to write. I can see a lot of scenarios under which what is lost exceeds what is gained; but, what he wanted to gain from including that, is crystal clear. Two things. One: Don’t bring up this question ever again, I regret the waste of resources, and we are not going back. Two — perhaps even more important: I am the boss. If I expect myself to admit to my mistakes, that implicitly means I’m expecting the same thing out of each and every one of you.

Since then, it seems our culture is gripped in a sort of “malaise” as they used to call it. And I have to agree that this incident does seem to be a part of that. The delivery of results, for far too many people occupying trusted positions, it seems that’s always someone else’s headache.

“You’re Kind of a Big Deal”

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

The Top Three Reasons Liberals Hate Conservatives

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Christopher Cook, Western Free Press:

No longer does the leftist feel as compelled to make real arguments. All he needs to do now is shout “Racist!” or “War on Women!” and his job is done. He walks away feeling smugly satisfied of his own politically correct superiority, and the untrained observer is left addled at best, and possibly even swayed by the narrative.

So why they are so vicious? Why do people who self-describe as “compassionate” direct such vitriolic hate and assaults at their ideological opponents? How they can justify painting you as such a monster?

Simple: To them, you are a monster. You must be.

All three of the reasons, I see, have to do with this mindset of “We’re trying to build something wonderful, that means anyone who resists us is terrible.”

But, actually building something takes a lot of work. It’s boring. It involves an awful lot of thinking things out, in ways liberals don’t think. A lot of mundane measure-twice-cut-once stuff.

The thing about conflict is, it creates drama, and when you have drama you have a distraction. We see it every time some of President Obama’s policies lead to misery, which is often. WELL, the problem is, those terrible Republicans in Congress opposed His plan, or didn’t fund it properly, or some such.

It looks like a blame-game. And it is. But every now and then, a very disturbing piece of evidence will come out showing that liberals are drawn to this sort of conflict before the plan has even failed. It’s like they’re anticipating the failure, and therefore the need to search for scapegoats.

That, or the conflict is the whole point. Building things, in addition to demanding thought, isn’t fun to watch. “Us against them” is always exciting, especially to a juvenile mind. That’s my theory, anyway; why today’s liberals are so drawn toward noticing, calling-out, and caricaturing their opposition regardless of whether it’s before, during or after their latest Utopian plans have been engaged. It just doesn’t seem to matter.

“Knee Pad Journalism”

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Gateway Pundit:

Knee Pad Journalism: NY Times’ Peter Baker Absolves Obama in Secret Service Lapses

The same newspaper that crucified President George W. Bush for the Abu Ghrab scandal even though Bush was many, many layers of government removed from the American military guards at the heart of the Iraqi prison scandal has given President Barack Obama absolution for the gross incompetence of the Secret Service even though Obama is in direct contact every minute of every day with the agency charged with protecting his life.

Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the New York Times has written a churlish, excuse-making article published Tuesday night that at once hints Republican lawmakers want to see Obama killed and goes to great lengths to explain why the Obama has nothing to do with the failures of the Secret Service.

“President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security…”

“Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy…”
“Coming just weeks before midterm elections, they said, the intense focus on the matter might further undercut confidence in the government Mr. Obama runs even though it was hardly his fault an intruder with a knife made it into the White House.”
“While the director of the Secret Service is appointed by the president, the White House under either party typically defers to the agency on how to handle the president’s security. Even when a president is angry at missteps — as reports suggest Mr. Obama was after a 2011 shooting at the White House when one of his daughters was home — he rarely expresses that publicly. For one, it might come across as impolitic. For another, it might offend the very people a president depends on most.

“So even though Mr. Obama had nothing to do with the various problems involving his security beyond appointing Ms. Pierson last year, his White House now finds itself in the position of defending the Secret Service to a degree.”

Baker gives Obama a pass on the dangerous incompetence of the Secret Service even though Obama has been intimately aware of the agency’s problems for years and is on his second term as president. Obama not only appointed the current director Julia Pierson in response to previous scandals, he also appointed the director’s superior, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Hat tip to Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm.

The Wall Street Journal piece to which I linked in the post previous, makes an interesting observation about the Baker apologia:

Baker seems to think — or, perhaps more damning, to expect his readers to think — that it is normal for domestic political adversaries to wish violence upon each other. But the president’s safety is of paramount importance for institutional reasons independent of partisanship, ideology or personal sympathy. An attack against the president’s person is an attack against America’s constitutional order — the very order that provides for peaceable disagreements over policy.

Somewhere over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, one of my connections reported a liberal colleague in the workplace using this line of attack: What’s up with these conservatives being so concerned about the Secret Service not doing their jobs? Aren’t you guys supposed to want Obama to get hurt and stuff?

Hopefully, they’re not all having that kind of thought on their own; it’s another talking point being disseminated from some central location. And maybe the New York Times is it. There is reason to sustain such hope; Barack Obama fans are not known for original thinking.


Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

The Secret Service has screwed up, just the latest out of many times recently, and its director has resigned. James Taranto, writing in WSJ Best of the Web, notices:

From some media quarters one hears the usual bureaucratic excuses. Politico’s Marc Ambinder argued last week that “there’s also a direct link between Friday’s security breach and Washington’s budgetary and political dysfunction…Years of leaner budgets and inconsistent direction from Congress and the executive branch have left the Secret Service–especially its Uniformed Division, which guards the White House–understrength for years.”

That Times editorial echoes the point: “The budget and size of the Secret Service . . . has fallen in the last few years. In 2011, the agency had about 6,900 staff positions; it now has about 6,600. Its budget fell from $1.9 billion in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2013, in part because of automatic cuts demanded by Congress, and it has gone up only slightly since then.” But as The Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial today, “the truth is that the Secret Service budget of $1.7 billion for 2014 has doubled in real terms since 1998.”

HookergateAnyway, how many millions of dollars does it take to lock a door?

It all reminds us of an observation Peggy Noonan made in May, in a column pegged to the Veterans Administration scandal:

Barack Obama is killing the reputation of government. He is killing the thing he loves through insufficient oversight. He doesn’t do the plodding, unshowy, unromantic work of making government work. In the old political formulation, he’s a show horse, not a workhorse.

The president’s inattention to management — his laxity, his failure to understand that government isn’t magic, that it must be forced into working, clubbed each day into achieving adequacy, and watched like a hawk — is undercutting what he stands for, the progressive project that says the federal government is the primary answer to the nation’s ills.

He is allowing the federal government to become what any large institution will become unless you stop it: a slobocracy.

As John Podhoretz observes in the New York Post: “This seems to crystallize a more general feeling that stretches from Washington to the far reaches of the globe–the feeling that things are spinning wildly out of control and there’s no one even minimally competent enough at the highest reaches of American power to calm the gathering storm.”

The knee-jerk wagon circling about budget cuts sickens me, since I’m an Earth person with red blood who doesn’t live inside the beltway. Out here, you don’t get to demand more money after a glaring defeat, reasoning that little should have been expected of you since your budget was increased by only $1 billion instead of 2. Out here, regardless of what last year’s budget was, if you screw up too much that’s when the budget-cutting really begins.

It’s a different planet in there. Not even in the same galaxy.

Well, they found their scapegoat. Maybe her sacking is deserved. I’m not in a position to definitively say, although the above article about recent Secret Service screw-ups does paint a picture of an agency out of control. Maybe she knows a lot more about running the Secret Service than I do.

Maybe she does. But, her Wikipedia entry doesn’t demonstrate such a thing, too much…

Julia Ann Pierson is a former American law enforcement official. She served as the 23rd Director of the United States Secret Service. Pierson was appointed by President Barack Obama on March 27, 2013, and became the first woman to head the agency. Amidst a series of security lapses involving the agency, Pierson resigned on October 1, 2014.

Early life and education

Pierson is a native of Orlando, Florida. While she attended high school, she worked at Walt Disney World as a parking lot attendant, watercraft attendant, and in costume in Disney parades.

She was an Explorer in the Learning for Life program of the Boy Scouts of America in a post specializing in law enforcement chartered to the Orlando Police Department. She was the 1978 National Law Enforcement Exploring Youth Representative, leading the Law Enforcement Exploring division, and was selected as the National Law Enforcement Exploring chair.

She attended the University of Central Florida, graduating in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.


Following graduation, Pierson served three years in the Orlando Police Department (OPD), patrolling the northeastern section of Orlando. She was one of the first female OPD officers assigned to a beat. She joined the United States Secret Service in 1984 as a special agent. She served in the Miami Field Office from 1984 to 1985, and the Orlando Field Office from 1985 to 1988. From 1989 to 2000, she served on the presidential protective details (PPDs) of Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Between 2000 and 2001, Pierson held the position of special agent in charge of the Office of Protective Operations, and then as deputy assistant director of the Office of Administration from 2001 to 2005. From 2005 to 2006 she served as deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations. From 2008 to her appointment as director, Pierson served as the chief of staff to the director, and as the assistant director of the Office of Human Resources and Training for the Secret Service.

Pierson was already the agency’s highest-ranking woman before being promoted to director. She was tasked with improving the image of the Secret Service, following the Summit of the Americas prostitution scandal. On September 30, 2014, while testifying at a United States House of Representatives hearing, Pierson faced Congressional criticism over the White House security breach of September 19, 2014. On October 1, 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson accepted her resignation as director.

I don’t think her sacking is going to fix things. There is a lot of opportunity for improvement, here, but there is also a problem that is much bigger than Julia Pierson.

What’s remarkable about her? First paragraph: “…and became the first woman to head the agency.” Career: “She was one of the first female OPD officers assigned to a beat.” Next paragraph: “…was already the agency’s highest-ranking woman before being promoted to director.”

Reminds me of an office discussion of the up-and-coming Barack Obama, back in 2007: What has He accomplished? “Got elected to the Senate.”

I’m sure it will look, to some, like my concern is that we’re not promoting enough white guys. Nothing will ever change their minds. But my concern is actually that we’re losing the ability to recognize true excellence. We wouldn’t recognize a public servant possessing extraordinary and distinguishing ability, if he ran up and kicked us square in the balls.

Which he’d be sorely tempted to do, if ever he could find them. We seem to have lost them, lost our ability to recognize genuine achievement. It’s all “first black guy this” and “first woman that.”

If we meet a black guy who really does have these distinguishing abilities, or a woman who has them; if we as a society have any sort of unified response, let us say that that response is not one of recognition.

We’re living in a rather odd time right now. It’s always fun and rewarding to put an argument together, however ramshackle and slipshod it is, that some office demands a suite of abilities far more imposing than whatever its current occupant possesses. And that some sort of ejection is due, or overdue. Getting people sacked is fun! Criticism is fun!

But — we deserve people who have ability, if & when we recognize ability, when we take steps to reward it. Lately, we don’t, because we don’t and we don’t. This is the paradox of our time: We demand unique abilities, but we do not seek them out. If we happen to blunder into them it seems our first impulse is to punish, rather than reward.

Then we find our highest offices are saturated with the mediocre, and we get outraged about it. Huh. Well, okay.