I have had occasion before to observe that the federal agency where I work is turning into a perfect microcosm of the Obama administration. Our chairman is rapidly building a cult of personality centered on his own ambitions. He is surrounded by flunkies whose vast ineptitude has not only excited comment within our shop, but even among other government agencies. There is an endless stream of press releases featuring bogus accomplishments, a “five-year plan”, a bundle of “strategic initiatives” that are based on a profound ignorance of the nature of our business, even mini-purges of staff members whose attempts to disabuse him of his wilder notions have opened them up to charges of being insufficiently supportive of his “vision.”
A colleague who was born in eastern Europe says the current environment here reminds him of the old Soviet Union. The atmosphere is compounded by the chairman’s collection of motivational posters from the 1920s, which bear an eerie resemblance to the kind of thing produced by artists of the Socialist Realism school. And then there is the Big Brotherish use of technology: occasional telephone messages left on the voice mail of all the agency’s employees, spelling out the resounding success of his latest trip abroad, or the progress being made in implementing one of his many starry-eyed plans (an interesting feature of these voice-mail messages is that they can’t be skipped or automatically deleted). Now this narcissist is even posting videos on our internal web site, with propaganda broadcasts from exotic foreign climes.
I am seriously thinking of resigning. As Bertie Wooster says, "I can put up with a certain amount of rot, but not absolute rot."
* * * * *
I bought Mrs. Paco a foxglove plant for her birthday - a very pretty perennial, with purple flowers on long green stalks. She was googling to find out whether to plant it in sun or shade, and discovered a few facts of which - I swear, Your Honor! - I was in total ignorance. From the Wiki entry: "Depending on the species, the digitalis plant may contain several deadly physiological and chemically related cardiac and steroidal glycosides. Thus, the digitalis has earned several more sinister names: Dead Man’s Bells, and Witches’ Gloves.
The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds), although the leaves of the upper stem are particularly potent, with just a nibble being enough to potentially cause death."
Hey, blame Home Depot.