Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Re: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics

----- Original Message -----

From: Joe
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 2:44 PM
Subject: RE: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics.

The wealthy controlling elite give us a political system and the illusion of representation...there is no representation for the largest majority of people and never has been...this system should be a page of history long ago turned and forgotten.

Why would anyone want to perpetuate this...give energy to a system that is saturated with corruption with no sense of anything real and sane.

New candidates will do nothing but stall a transition to something 'else'. Only the void that our creative spirit should fill, stands between now and evolving into the future.

Supporting 'their' system will bring no real change for 'you.' Don't be pulled into their consciousness. Liberate yourself and fill your mind with positive thoughts about what can be, not the decay of what has been.

Go forward, don't stand on this 500 year old treadmill...only supporting those who have given us the treadmill...the very wealthy and influential control addicts!


From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel [mailto:velvel@mslaw.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 2:36 PM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Subject: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics.

April 24, 2006

Re: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics.

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com

Dear Colleagues:

It is this writer’s thought, and I believe the facts support, that today the vast majority of our politicians are professional politicians. That is to say, most of them have spent all or nearly all of their adult lives in politics. Relatively few of them have had decently long careers in the private sector. Still fewer have had what could be called truly significant careers in the private sector -- the kind of career that, for example, Jon Corzine had, or Tom Coburn (to choose both a liberal and an arch conservative). Some have been government prosecutors (usually state rather than federal government prosecutors, one imagines -- i.e., have been a state’s attorney as opposed to a U.S. attorney, one imagines). But even if it is harsh to say so, I don’t think that really counts. For being a state’s attorney is, and even being a U.S. attorney often is, a highly political job. It is not like being on the private side.

It may be perverse to say so, but one can’t help wondering whether the fact that so few politicians have significant experience on the private side, and even fewer have been major successes there, is part of the problem with today’s politicians. If it is, one equally wonders whether it ought to be one of the factors addressed by the new third party which this blogger believes is the only way this country is likely to overcome the political problems plaguing it.

Politicians who have had no private careers, still less significant ones, have nothing to fall back on if they lose office. The best they usually can hope for, perhaps the only thing they can hope for, is to become highly paid lobbyists -- for a federal politician, this means to become one of the K Street crowd. But politicians don’t want to lose elections regardless of the possibility of becoming another of the locusts of K Street or its state-level equivalents. Those who have had no significant private careers, and have nothing to fall back on, are therefore desperate to stay in office. This must be one of the reasons they are so willing to lie, cheat and steal, so to speak, to remain in office. That is, this must be one of the reasons they talk out of both sides or all four sides of their mouths, why they are dishonest, why they lust after the legalized bribes called campaign contributions, why they do the bidding of the wealthy while screwing over the common man, why they are too cowardly to stand up to evil. When you have nothing to fall back on, after all, your choices are more circumscribed than those of someone who can say, “To hell with you. I’ll go back to a satisfying job delivering babies.” Or “I’ll open my own investment bank.” Or, as once (and for decades) was true of major figures in the Executive, “I will go back to being a senior partner in a Wall Street or La Salle Street law firm,” or sometimes even a downtown Washington law firm.

There is another factor involved, too. People on the private side, and even the more so among those who are major successes there, of necessity have the ethos of getting the job done, the ethos of accomplishment. This is worlds apart from the political ethos, which is to talk, talk, talk, not to get the job done, to talk, talk, talk rather than to accomplish great things, to try to offend nobody, or at least as few as possible, rather than to take well thought out positions. The ethos of getting the job done seems to be sadly lacking among professional politicians, who talk, talk, talk and do so in a way that they hope will advance their wish that everyone will like them, or at least that nobody will dislike them.

If I am right in thinking that people with long, significant careers on the private side, those who have been major successes there (unlike George Bush, who was a major failure there), would bring to politics some characteristics that are sorely needed there, then this is plainly something that a new third party should be cognizant of. This is the more true because it is unrealistic to expect the professional pols of our two current parties to encourage their own replacement by a different breed of cat -- even if the new breed of cat is in some respects a throwback to the successful private side types who were so prominent, indeed preeminent, among the founding fathers whose veneration is an American civic religion (albeit one honored in the breach).

But the idea that more of our politicians -- perhaps even most of them -- should be persons with records of success on the private side does raise certain questions and does give rise to certain criticisms. To begin with there is the question of whether successful people will leave their careers to run for and hold office, and will do so despite the savage, often irresponsible nature of the present day media. My personal suspicion is that, despite the good for nothing elements of the media, in a climate which is welcoming apart from such elements, the answer would be yes for a lot of persons. Not all, but a lot. There used to be a tradition of public service in this country that was illustrated by major private side figures like Root, Stimson, Acheson, Forrestal, Stevenson, Richardson, Dillon and Vance. One suspects that a lot of successful private side people today, too, would be interested in service if we encouraged them to it and respected them for it, and if they felt that they would not be called upon to abase oneself as current politicians do. Nor would they have to serve “time without end.” Four years, six years, eight years would be sufficient from the standpoint of the public interest. If they do not fall into the trap of Potomac fever, and do not fall in love with the ego gratifying perquisites of public office (to which they should be less susceptible than professional pols because they, unlike the pols, get similar gratification on the private side), then four or six or eight years might be sufficient from the individual’s standpoint in many or most cases as well as from the standpoint of the public interest.

It is also said that individuals who are successful on the private side expect their orders to be followed without question. They are unprepared for the extensive discussion and compromises of public life, it is claimed. If this is true, it is to some extent desirable, not undesirable. For it reflects the ethos of getting things done, which is exactly the ethos needed in public life. But beyond this, the universal accuracy of the criticism is subject to serious question. Lots of private endeavors involve compromise. (If you wish to test the truth of this, try being a private lawyer in a large multi-party, multi-multi-lawyer trial.) As well, the famous figures of bygone years from the private side who were also major governmental servants, illustrate that people from the private side can indulge the necessary give and take, can make the needed compromises. We are, after all, discussing the need for people who have shown they can be successful, not private side hacks like George Bush or, for that matter, Rumsfeld or Cheney, who were nothing but professional pols chosen to head private companies strictly because of their political connectedness and who, especially Cheney, did not necessarily do such a hot job on the private side.

Then there are a couple of possibly twinned criticisms . To seek candidates who are proven successes on the private side may be criticized as elitist and as too likely to unearth many more conservatives than liberals. Well, if it is elitist, so be it. We need competence, and if it is elitist to seek those who have demonstrated it, then call me elitist. Not to mention that competence comes from a host of walks of life, has no racial, religious or gender limits, and will be shown by lots of people who have worked themselves up from nothing. And plenty of people who are competent will be liberals, especially perhaps those who have had to work themselves up from nothing. Competence, after all, is not the exclusive preserve of the conservative. (Nor is incompetence, notwithstanding Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of that inept crowd.)

There is also the fact that proven competence on the private side will not necessarily translate into competence in political matters. Bill Frist perhaps exemplifies. But this does not alter the fact that, given the pass to which we have been brought by our host of professional pols of demonstrated incompetence, it would be wise to try people who in other endeavors have demonstrated competence. Remember, after all, Root, Stimson, Acheson and the others named above.

And, finally, there is the question of whether one considers certain types of jobs to be private side jobs, or equivalent to them even if the jobs are technically governmental ones. One thinks of two professions in particular, academics at state universities and the military. With regard to universities, my own view is that it makes no difference whether they are state or private. They are highly political entities with the same kind of non-accomplishment-oriented talk, talk, talk ethos as government itself. Yet there are those whose success in higher education bespeaks an attitude of getting the job done and bespeaks competence. So, in this writer’s view, it really depends on the person rather than on the fact that one comes from higher (or previous) education. As to the military, one admits to being a little leery because the military of today is so often a highly political institution where, despite often very high levels of innate ability, people have nevertheless adopted and in their pores absorbed don’t-rock-the-boat, CYA attitudes that are too much like those of professional pols. In this regard, one’s view is not wholly unaffected by the fact that too many generals went along with the disasters of Viet Nam and Iraq, and that, despite his reputation for alleged candor and forthrightness, John McCain, a military hero, not only got himself involved in the Charles Keating affair, but of late seems to have become no better than any other pol in kowtowing to the worst elements in pursuit of his desire to be President. Nor is one’s view wholly unaffected by the fact that Colin Powell, in service of their desire to invade Iraq, capitulated to and lied for his deeply incompetent masters, the three stooges, aka George, Dick and Don.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

----- Original Message -----

To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 11:14 PM
Subject: We Need People Of Proven Competence

I am including as an attachment (or you may go here) an analysis to provide a possible context and perspective to your latest e-mail: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics. Though I am cautious about LaRouche, I think in at least this one instance, he is correct in warning of an imminent hyperinflationary collapse. In the economic sphere, I see little evidence of the kind of competence needed to avert complete disaster. If the analysis is correct, then your concerns expressed in We Need People Of Proven Competence... are dangerously inadequate.

I look forward to more of your insights.


----- Original Message -----

From: harvey
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 6:06 AM
Subject: Re: We Need People Of Proven Competence On The Private Side In Politics.

Dear Larry:

I think that your reference to George, Dick and Don as the Three Stooges is an insult to The Three Stooges. What's not to love about Moe, Curly, et al.? I still laugh when thinking how they wallpapered every piece of furniture to the walls. At least they got the job done. No, George, Dick and Don are are really the Three Amigos. See this worst movie of all time and you will understand.


For Posting

----- Original Message -----

From: CQ
To: velvel@mslaw.edu
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:18 AM
Subject: What you need to be a politician

Dear Dean Velvel,

Your newsletter describing the necessary background for an effective and ethical politician reminded me of Robert Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land. According to the laws of the land, no one who had ever shown political ambition was allowed to run for high office. Qualfied and ethical people were chosen to run for office out of a pool of high-quality candidates. If the person did a very, very good job, he (or she) was allowed to leave after his first term and go back to his normal life. If they did not do a good job, they were required to stay on for an extra term and clear up their mistakes before they were could resume their former life.

Many people nowadays are clearly frightened of what is required to enter public service. Apart from enormous amounts of money - which anyone will tell you is virtually impossible to acquire honestly - they are subjected to invasion of their private lives, their wives and families lose any privacy or security they may have once had, and their lives and those around them are changed forever, not often in a good way. Women who choose to run for office have a spotlight shone on their sexual lives in particular, which is an invasion of privacy that few are willing to tolerate. I am mystified as well by the complete change in people like Powell and McCain, both of whom I respected although I do not share their political leanings, and both of whom should have known better from their personal experience that wars should never be entered into illegally or without just cause and practices like torture and unlimited and often undocumented detention should never be resorted to for any reason. There is no good end to a bad war. It is a terrible dilemma that is showing itself in democracies all over the world as people become more and more distanced from the people who run their countries and increasingly try to run their lives.


----- Original Message -----

From: Anthony D'Amato
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 3:56 PM
Subject: Response

Truman and Eisenhower had great faults, but they were the only two non-liars we've had as president since 1932. It is interesting that they also surrounded themselves with accomplished thinkers. Come to think of it, on this latter score, so did Roosevelt. It's been downhill ever since, so that by the current administration the only test is abject loyalty. And anyone who is abjectly loyal can't possibly be a thinker. To pass Bush's loyalty test you have to be quite stupid.

Politics is cheapening itself to the point of public ridicule. When I was in grade school the teacher would ask, "How many of you boys want to someday be President of the United States?" and everyone raised their hand (except me, I recall). Today the same question would be met with the response: "duh?"

The problem with Dean Velvel's statement is that it is so nostalgic. Imagine wanting to be a public servant. Politicians these days are in it for the money, and the money (not the salary) makes millionaires out of Senators and most Congresspersons. To be that hungry for money you have to welcome bribery and corruption, and the only restraint is that it has to be very carefully hidden. But lobbyists, I'm sure, are getting better and better at hiding it. Abramoff may be a dying breed, with his box office seats and his vacations in Bermuda. Just deposit the cash in my Cayman account, Abe, and I'll buy the damn tickets myself.

By the way, as long as I'm rambling, why hasn't Elliot Spitzer gone after crooked politicians the way he's gone after crooked business executives? Perhaps he doesn't want to anger the folks who may turn out to be his colleagues when he joins the political arena?

And why, oh why, do law schools invite Supreme Court justices to speak to the students? Why do they invite politicians to give commencement addresses? Are they trying to pass these characters off as role models?

Anthony D'Amato

----- Original Message -----

From: Frank
To: velvel@mslaw.edu
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 3:28 PM
Subject: Piece on 4/24.

I enjoyed your (rather lengthy) piece today. Who's qualified to run for public office has been an irritant to me for years. Why are Harvard MBA's (excluding George Bush) so much more in demand than those from Northwestern University or MIT (Sloan School of Management)? Is the program any better? The "old boy" network!

To succeed in politics you need a lot of support financially and politically. You have to photograph well too. I'm surprised that McCain made it this far, if it hadn't been his war record. I believe John Kerry would have won if he had more sex appeal.

Jimmy Carter was supposed to be a nuclear engineer yet he couldn't pronounce the word "nuclear". He was a peanut farmer. Not very impressive, but he won!

Harry Truman ran a hat shop. Ronald Reagan was an actor with a two-bit education. Most politicians aren't very bright, but they are glib, and they often have a quick wit.
You're right about CEO's expecting things to be done their way, and quickly. Yet CEO's delegate a lot, just as presidents, and have limited first hand knowledge about anything. Steve Jobs was often called a blowhard and a fraud, but look at the success at Apple.

That Karl Rove is out of the loop is shown by the Kid's (Maureen Dowd's name for "W") inability to do anything right. Iraq reminds me of the story about beating a dead horse. Bush doesn't know HOW to get out of Iraq otherwise he would have done so by now.

I had thought of an independent agency (like Consumer Reports) who would evaluate on a scale of 1-10 qualifications of presidential candidates. Some of the factors would be intelligence, success in the private sector, languages spoken; other talents (like music, art, literature); whether he actually worked at a job, or had rich parents; psychological profile (does God tell him to go to war?), and whether he respects other cultures.

Unfortunately, most Americans would not care, and would vote for the man who promises to put a chicken in every pot. (Hmmmm ... sounds familiar).

Why don't YOU run for president?