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But They Fired The Dog: Quick’s Notes

Some years ago my brother in law, a lifetime Yankee fan, gave me a t-shirt that announced, “I was fired by George Steinbrenner.” It’s a humorous references to an earlier time when the New York owner was hiring and firing left and right (most notably Billy Martin). Had the tumult continued, one could suspect that Steinbrenner had an ego problem and/or was a publicity hog. Not so. Things settled down at the Yankees and they have embarked upon a remarkable and continuing streak of post-season play, including World Series championships. Steinbrenner is a leader who holds his employees accountable for their job performance.

Which brings us to former Texas Rangers co-owner George W. Bush whose tenure with the Rangers was reasonably quiet, concurrent with the team’s perennial non-performance. About the only real controversy in recent years was the team’s signing of Alex Rodriguez for a quarter of billion dollars which made about as much financial sense then as $400 billion federal deficits do today. I cannot recall George Bush firing anyone, either as baseball owner or as President.

This is scary. Just this week we learned that Michael Brown, former FEMA director who botched the Katrina relief effort and supposedly resigned, is still on the government payroll as a consultant. Bush not only did not fire Brown, he apparently won’t let him quit!

It is a familiar pattern. To my knowledge, no one has been fired for the series of gaffes that lead to 9/11. This, despite testimony that an FBI agent in Phoenix discovered a cluster of suspicious foreign born flight school students who wanted to learn to fly airliners but not learn how to take off or land. The agent’s alert died in the Black Hole of federal bureaucracy.

No one was fired.

The summer following 9/11, two of the hijackers, fully identified and long dead, received State Department renewals of their student visas to remain in America legally and to continue to attend flight school. President Bush was described by an aide as “very angry.”

No one was fired.

In Iraq, scores of U.S. intelligence agencies disputed the “eyeball accounts” of U.N. inspectors on the ground and reported the country bristling with Weapons of Mass Destruction, leading to an invasion that has: Cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives; Cost hundreds of billions of dollars; And, left Iraq with fallen infrastructure and on the brink of civil war.

No one was fired.

Accountability is arguably the glue of complex societies. Our military once held leaders accountable almost to a fault. Following Pearl Harbor, admirals were court-martialed not for lack of heroism, but for the strategic blunder of parking our Pacific Fleet at one site where it was vulnerable to sneak attack. Today, the feds investigate airliner emergencies within hours – it used to be called air safety but now I guess we should just call it “finger pointing.” The last non-Bush Republican President, Ronald Reagan, a pleasant fellow loyal to his staff, nonetheless fired his chief of staff (although rumors held that Nancy was behind the termination – something about astrology).

In the category of “the longest journey begins with a single step,” there is hope that during the GWB era some member of our nation’s security team will held accountable. Earlier this year, the LAPD conducted a bomb drill at LAX and mistakenly left behind a dummy bomb with real explosive traces in a terminal.

No one was fired.

An alert citizen spotted the suspicious package and called the LAX Police (multiple jurisdictions work the airport) who sent their airport police bomb squad to investigate. One of their dogs failed to correctly sniff the explosives.The dog was fired.

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