Friday, June 18, 2010

Paco's Diary

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.


richard mcenroe said...

Hang in there Packers. Read some Keith Laumer and remind yourself that these fools come and go,but the guys who do the work remain.

And take lots of notes.

TW: Fectem: From the Latin: "Fectem si no Jokemus Takemum."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you should have given the plant to your boss instead of the Mrs.


RebeccaH said...

The secret of life, Paco, is dumb endurance. As Richard says, fools come and go. Eventually things turn around, even when you think they won't.

Re the foxglove, I have two of them. They're lovely plants for the garden, but yes, they're poisonous. However, that's a relative term. Digitalis yields a useful heart medication, and certainly the plant isn't going to reach and grab your wife's leg while she's weeding.

Boy on a bike said...

"Nulle Bastardo Carborundum"

or the original version:

"Illegitimi non carborundum"

JeffS said...

...certainly the plant isn't going to reach and grab your wife's leg while she's weeding.

That depends, Rebecca. Is the plant a Democrat?

Regarding your agency.....alas, I'm seeing a similar problem in mine, except it comes from the so-called "career" leadership: the senior executives and senior managers.

(My agency lacks a typical political appointee at the top; whomever gets that job has to meet certain qualifications, and getting narcissistic idiots in that slot is difficult. Not impossible, mind you; it has happened. Just difficult.)

I think our "leaders" get their attitude by emulating the elected leadership in DC. Which is terrifying to behold, because this implies that the problem is contagious.

TW: dears. Thank you for the concern, AI.

Merilyn said...

Stay there as long as possible Paco, and as Richard says, take plenty of notes.
Foxglove, you gave your wife Foxglove? Never mind, put it somewhere way, way at the back of the garden, and we promise we won't say anything if something should happen to your boss.

Anonymous said...

What the hell, make them fire you, and for good reason. Then hold your head high as you and the missus head off to the Arizona sunset and happiness.


prairiecat55kc said...

Hmmm...I guess I'm the only one who believes that Life is too short to spend it with scum. Of course, that's said with hubby getting his pension, which, while very small, WOULD pay the regular bills if we found it necessary to scale back. If the civilian job goes tits-up, the mortgage and groceries are covered, we just wouldn't be able to play in the ways to which he has become accustomed...

I'll make another confession here, since I seem to be in the mood. I KNOW the attitudes are contagious, from the top down, and as such do NOT believe only changing the President and even Congress will do a lot of good. It'll LOOK good, and be much better on paper if the "Leaders" at least have some glancing acquaintance with budgets and the Constitution. But until such time as those like your chairman and his friends are scrubbed out or sent to the minors, the Bureaucracy will stand, and resist mightily ANY change that may be hoped for from We The People.

Paco said...

PrairieCat: You've touched on a larger issue that is also very relevant. I've reported to the same supervisor for the last eight years, and his main skill is clinging to his job. Not a bad fellow in some ways, but rather too much of a preening gasbag. He is a career employee, not a political, but his ability to resist the more asinine plans of political appointees has always been highly questionable. I know of no one in the agency who ever liked working for him, or, having escaped, would ever go back to him. So, my desire to leave has a personal element, too, although it is definitely my contempt for the Obama people - or rather, for their incompetence and arrogance - that may become the proverbial last straw.

Boy on a bike said...

My pig latin by the way roughly translates as "Don't let the bastards wear you down".

Paco said...

B on a B: It may turn out to be more than human flesh can bear. Maybe I'll have to take up bicycle riding to work off the stress!

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

You may have to give your wife a replacement plant, may I recommend an Azalea.

Boy on a bike said...

Bicycle riding as stress relief? Personally, I'd prefer to be on the range sending some lead that-a-way.