Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Chief of Marginal

Every governmental agency has a mission. In the days of Strategic Air Command, they would tell you that “peace is our profession”. With the Coast Guard, they always tell you that they will everything possible to save you if your boat sinks. The FBI will you that they catch bad guys. The IRS will tell you that they collect revenue to make the government run.

This weekend….we learned that certain elements of the White House exist today….to marginalize Fox News. I kinda laughed when I saw this and thought maybe it said something.

What the White House kids did say….was that other networks need to stop “following Fox” and just marginalize the network. Basically….they want Keith Olbermann to never mention anything Fox says….and ABC to never bring up anything Fox reports as news….and CBC to just lay low over Fox reporting.

Yes, just pretend Fox doesn’t exist. Currently….for every time spot from noon until midnight….Fox is number one on the news listing. Now? I’m guessing that if the networks were this stupid….they will likely lose another fifteen percent of their audience within thirty days.

Adding to this mess….the White House chief of staff Rahm….even told CNN that President Obama himself….doesn’t want "the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led in following Fox."

National policy? Marginalize Fox? So when Fox says “X” and the viewers of ABC ask their ABC correspondent about “X”….the correspondent is supposed to deny “X” really happen or that “X” doesn’t exist? Is this the best that the White House can do?

I watched five brief minutes this weekend with Karl Rove. He led you to one brief moment of reality….once you start some marginal policy like this….you yourself are now marginal.

If I were Fox and no administration folks were volunteering for Sunday shows….I’d smile and say fine. I’d then have my interview with one real person (A Republican type)…..and an empty chair. I’ll ask stupid pointed questions and the Republican will answer, then I pose the questions to the empty chair and smile as I get no answer.

For a significant part of the US government to sit around and worry about some news organization…means a lot. Typically, it means you are losing your media campaign. You are facing too many questions that detract from your efforts.

So if you were ABC or CNN….what now? Do you want to marginalized? If you are losing viewers each month to Fox….what now? And if you were the administration guys in charge of marginalization… you really have much of a job or career? Chief of Marginalization?

I saw an awful lot of stupid stuff during the Clinton and Bush years….but this kinda takes the cake. My impression? The other guys will pretend for ten days to ignore Fox….and then notice loss of viewers….and then start to tell the White House that they’ve had enough of marginalization.

An Imaginary Law

This weekend….the White House started to let folks know that no matter what the law says….the feds won’t be arresting anyone who say they are doing medical marijuana.

I started laughing at that point. You can see this enormous moment of relief amongst tens of thousands of folks in Bama. If the Feds are involved in the investigation…..and they attest that they were smoking for medical reasons, then all charges are dumped. The curious thing here…..if you lined up all the arrests of the past two years that the Feds have run themselves….not the local cops or state police…..then I’d bet on less than 1,000 folks who actually were arrested and charged with marijuana usage under the fed rules.

The feds typically are involved in big cases….tons of cocaine or marijuana….significant amounts of marijuana sales….and not routine single person usage.

So this curious statement by the White House….really makes them look good….even “cool” amongst the joint smokers of America. But the truth is….nothing really changed. Your local sheriff still has a big interest in your usage, and the state police are still arresting anyone for usage, period.

Meanwhile….the feds are letting folks know that even with laws on the books to catch and prosecute folks….they won’t react. Pretty neat….a law that won’t be enforced. This is even better than North Korea….where few laws exist but they prosecute you for non-existent laws.


So I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.

Somewhere around 100 resumes had been sent out since the end of December 2008. Various chances came and went. So last night, it came...finally a job offer. DC, a GS job.

I sat and pondered over this. This was the interview where they asked what would I do with destructive people. It was a twelve second pause, and then I said I'd chat with them and try to get a feel for their reasoning. If I couldn't convince them of a change...they'd be leaving...not just out of my shop but out of the entire organization. I sat there after the interview and felt negative....thinking what the hell kind of office is this?

So I'm going into the pit.

My brother, ever the Bama-anchored one, suggested a philosophy that would be like a giant tsunami of sorts in the fight against destructive folks...the Andy Griffith philosophy. Andy would simply stand there and say: "Now, Ernest T., you just can't go throwing rocks through every window in town... yes, yes, I know you're able to, but I just can't let you".

I thought about this a while...and began to realize that I've been using an awful lot of Andy Griffith management techniques over the years. I just never realized this.

So in two months or so....when I finally arrive in DC...I'll pull out the Andy techniques and begin to fix problems.

To be honest, I've been waiting since finally have responsibility. When I retired from the military, I was at my peak. For the past a contractor...I'm merely the observer and the guy they turn to in a hostile situation. I'm the guy who goes with the Captain to defend some Airman when the commander is all upset. I'm the guy who lays out plan "B". I'm the guy who mentors junior people because they don't have any real leadership.

So I see a book here...The Andy Management Book. I'm going to prove that Andy was always right.