Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Fire or Not to Fire

“Off with their heads” said the Queen of Hearts . . .

“My thought exactly” said the grouchy old man.

“Not so fast”, said the grouchy newspaper columnist, “eliminating heads might be great fun, but it is largely a waste of time, and enables political showmanship to no practical effect”.

“Hmmm, what about that, Richard, you grouchy old man”?

OK, here’s what I think.

How would we, the American public, know whether or not the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service, the Chief of Staff at the White House, or, for that matter, the President’s Social Secretary are doing their jobs? Arguably, if they are doing their jobs, we would see . . . exactly nothing. The newspapers would have nothing to report about people sneaking into White House dinners, or bad guys sneaking explosives onto airplanes (by the way, did you see that little piece about how the theoretically good guy airport security guys snuck actual explosives into some unsuspecting man’s luggage to test the security system. It failed, of course, and he flew all the way to Great Britain with the stuff in his bag, after which he was arrested. Nice guys).

First of all, lest we think that a few publicity-crazed people sneaking into a White House dinner party is no big deal, we need to understand that, as a result, our President could well now be dead. So, it is a big deal.

Second, back to the central question. How would we know these agencies are functioning well? Well, it depends.

“On what” you might ask.

On what the agency is supposed to be doing.

In the case of the White House Social Secretary, it’s her/his job to develop and maintain a complete list of who is supposed to be coming to the White House for a dinner party. Oh, and she’s supposed to pass on that information to the Secret Service.

In the case of the Secret Service, it’s their job to make certain nobody who is a potential threat gets close enough to the President to either hurt him or his family, or to threaten him or his family.

Well, neither agent fulfilled those simple responsibilities. And no one was canned. That’s serious crap, folks. No one resigned, and no one was fired.

Now, has anyone undertaken a study to determine what went wrong? Maybe, but how would we know that? Aye, there’s the rub. We don’t know very much, it turns out, about anything substantive in government (or in the corporate world for that matter). We really only know about a few surface things, like whether someone was fired. So, in the absence of any substantive information about whether things are working, or not, we are free to deduce anything we wish, based on our limited information base. I deduced that the President took responsibility, and that nothing else happened. Maybe he yelled at someone. But I don’t even know that for sure. We do know that for some agencies, like the CIA, the continued screw-up’s at least suggest that nobody is changing anything, kind of like the banking industry.

So, until we the public begins to get more information about how effectively our agencies are actually functioning, I will continue to yell out for someone’s head to roll when we all collectively observe a screw-up. That’s just the way it is.

And elsewhere, Sue Myrick, republican representative from Charlotte suggested that we may have terrorists anywhere, even in our government. I guess Sue is running for the Joe McCarthy stupid sayings award .
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