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March 10, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-10

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 10, 2005


I Siuiwu&z

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


- Former CBS Nightly News anchor
Dan Rather, signing off at the end
of his final broadcast last night.


-ey -Tol Di-HIM IT WOVLJN-r wMgAK,.


Masters of the universe

ast week, the Bush
floated Carleton
Fiorina, the fallen CEO of
Hewlett-Packard, as a pos-
sible successor to James
Wolfensohn as president
of the World Bank. If Fio-
rina eventually finds her
way to the World Bank she
will be just one more in the long line of execu-
tives, many of them failed and semi-failed, to
be tapped for high-ranking government posts.
The example par excellence is John Snow, the
current treasury secretary, who presided over
a troubled period as CEO of the railroad com-
pany CSX. During his leadership, CSX con-
sistently underperformed competing railroads
and its stock repeatedly failed to meet Wall
Street analysts' expectations. Thomas White,
President Bush's first appointee as secretary
of the Army, had a checkered tenure at Enron
Energy Services, which experienced enormous
trading losses under his guidance.
Since first entering the White House four
years ago, Bush has consistently promised to
bring the best practices of American business
to American government. In his 2000 speech
accepting his party's nomination for the presi-
dency, Bush touted his own business acumen.
"I've been where the buck stops in business
and in government. I've been a chief executive
who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies
people to believe and achieve them." Bush has
certainly lived up to the promise of populating
his White House with former business lead-
ers. Even those officials who have spent most

of their careers in the public sector have had
significant stints in business. In between his
years as the youngest secretary of defense in
the nation's history and the oldest secretary of
defense in the nation's history, Donald Rums-
feld had a go as chief of the pharmaceutical
producer GD Searle. Vice President Cheney
was of course the CEO of Halliburton before
joining the Bush ticket in 2000.
Performance pay, flatter and less hierar-
chical organizations and all the other ideas
of the modern manager would revolutionize
Washington. Whatever the merits of this
strategy, Bush has gone about implement-
ing it in the precisely wrong way. As Dan-
iel Gross of Slate has argued, the business
experience of the majority of the Bush White
House consists of refugees from Washington
who auctioned off their influence-peddling
skills and fat Rolodexes to the highest bidder.
Entrepreneurial, risk-taking visionaries are a
rare breed in this crowd. Instead of injecting
Washington with innovative solutions and a
fresh outlook on how government can accom-
plish its goals, Bush has recruited political
retreads who have transformed their contacts
into plush positions.
In addition to selecting the wrong type of
character to fill his MBA presidency, those
positions which are in most need of a hard-
charging former executive have surprisingly
gone to people who do not match the profile
of the ideal. The secretary of Homeland Secu-
rity, whose main job responsibility is complet-
ing the largest reorganization of government
services since the early days of the Cold War,
went to federal judge Michael Chertoff after

another nonexecutive, former New York City
Policy Commissioner Bernard Kerik, with-
drew his nomination. Chertoff's most sig-
nificant managerial responsibility prior to his
current job was leading the Department of
Justice's criminal division, an outfit that pales
in comparison to the complexity of DHS. Bush
has nominated John Negroponte to serve as
the first director of National Intelligence, a
position that is equally challenging as the DHS
post. Negroponte's most pressing task is cre-
ating a coherent structure out of the chaos of
wiring diagrams that emerged from the intel-
ligence reform legislation passed last fall.
T he mentor of the disgraced former
Enron CEO Kenneth Lay once told his
young protege to turn down an offer
from then-President George H.W. Bush to
serve as his secretary of commerce. According
to the Enron tell-all, "The Smartest Guys in
the Room," Lay was instructed that there was
only one Cabinet-level position with sufficient
gravitas for a man of his accomplishment:
Treasury secretary. Among the greatest sins of
the executive who traffics in connections is the
cultivation of arrogance. This is a type of arro-
gance that usually frustrates people who must
work with sprawling organizations staffed
with career bureaucrats, who the typical politi-
cal appointee has no real authority over. To
the extent that these self-inflated egos can be
tolerated, the Bush administration ought to put
them where they are actually needed.


Peskowitz can be reached
at zpeskowi@umich.edu


Prop. 2, not satirist,
threatens gay rights
In the Daily, Gary Glenn of the American
Family Association of Michigan and Patrick
Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center denied
that supporters of Proposal 2 engaged in any
deception in the lead-up to the Nov. 2 vote
(Same-sex EMU policy under fire, 03/08/2005).
Glenn said that he was "not familiar with"
having made a statement before the election
attributed to him by the American Civil Liber-
ties Union in which he allegedly stated that the
amendment would "not affect benefits offered
to people living together or in same-sex rela-
tionships." Now that the amendment is law,
Glenn believes that Eastern Michigan Univer-
sity (and next on the list: the big enchilada,
the University of Michigan) should be barred

from providing domestic partnership benefits.
In dubious support of this goal, Glenn repeated
a litany of hysteria-based and factually absurd
assertions about the "self-destructive" effects
of "homosexual behavior."
Whether they acknowledge it or not, the
tune of Proposal 2's backers was different
before the election. In the Oct. 28, 2004 Daily
(Proposal would entrench gay marriage ban), a
representative of Citizens for the Protection
of Marriage was quoted as saying that Pro-
posal 2 "was never an issue that had anything
to do with benefits." A spokesman for the
Michigan Catholic Conference was quoted
in the Daily (Catholic Church openly supports
Prop. 2, 10/22/2004) as saying, "The church
does not believe that this will take away ben-
efits from anybody ... I don't think the word
'benefits' is in the proposal."
As someone who may be directly affect-
ed by this full-bore assault on domestic

partnership benefits, it astounds me that a
satirical column by Joel Hoard the Daily
(How the homosexuals stole my son's inno-
cence, 02/24/2005) is capable of generating
more outrage on this supposedly activist
campus than the real and present danger to
the lives and wellbeing of numerous mem-
bers of the campus community posed by a
cadre of well-organized, well-funded and
largely unopposed fundamentalists. Long
after domestic partnership benefits have
been trashed statewide and the families
of University employees and students are
forced to beg, borrow and steal to find med-
ical coverage and to get other basic legal
protections, the University community will
still be scratching its collective head over
whether Hoard's column was "vile," "dis-
gusting," "offensive" or merely "myopic."
Frank Lester


Why Scalia is right


Secularists have to be stopped. Last year,
they lead a failed assault on the Pledge of Alle-
giance, and this year they're going after the Ten
Commandments. I believe the Founding Fathers
will spin in their graves if the court sides with
the American Civil Liberties Union and holds
that religious symbols displayed on govern-
ment property violate the First Amendment's
Establishment Clause. For far too long, the
courts have bought into the revisionist history
argument that forms the backbone of secular-
ism and disregarded the true influence religion
had on America declaring its independence and
establishing the current government.
Secularists are correct in asserting that
Enlightenment theories were important to the
construction of the Declaration of Indepen-
dence and the Constitution. However, what
secularists purposely forget to mention is even
Enlightened thinkers theorized the rights of
man - the rights government exists to protect
- come from God. Most Enlightened theories
on government sought to criticize the role of
monarchs in government.

can lead to serious trouble in divorce court. The
law gives parents authority over their children
in an effort to command obedience - the Fifth
Commandment. Bearing false witness against
your neighbor, the Ninth Commandment, in
court is a serious crime.
According to Locke, we have rights to life,
liberty, health and property. These are natu-
ral rights; that is, they are rights that we have
in a state of nature before the introduction of
civil government, and all people have these
rights equally. Sound familiar? The Declara-
tion of Independence includes a passage where
the Founding Fathers assert, "(People) are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalien-
able rights, that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness."
Simply put, the Founding Fathers and
Enlightened thinkers agreed God gave rights
to man that government should protect. They
also agreed monarchial governments with
divine rulers are not legitimate because they
cannot protect those rights. This helps explain
why the Continental Army rose up in arms
against British monarchial rule. This also
explains the importance of the Establishment

gress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which
set guidelines for land expansion and includes
the passage, "Religion, morality and knowl-
edge being necessary to good government and
the happiness of mankind, schools and the
means of education shall be forever encour-
aged." Thomas Jefferson later declared that
religion is "deemed in other countries incom-
patible with good government and yet proved
by our experience to be its best support."
Encouraging religion - my God - how could
that not violate the First Amendment?
I know, let's ask the Supreme Court as soon
as it finishes its opening prayer of "God save
the United States and this Honorable Court."
Or maybe if we can revive Jefferson - author
of the famous "separation of church and state"
line and a man who secularists claim did not
believe in God - and he can tell us stories
about how he approved of and attended reli-
gious services in the Treasury Building and
the Supreme Court. Jefferson could also
explain why while he chaired the Washing-
ton D.C. school board he wrote an education
plan that required reading the Bible and Isaac
Watt's Hymnal. Or we can simply look in the


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