Apocalyptically Underqualified: When Ignorance Can Be Fatal On The Job

By Noah Gift
October 12, 2008 | Comments: 19

Like much of the civilized world, I have been watching in unpartisan horror, shock, and awe, at the Vice Presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin reveal how "Apocalyptically Underqualified" she is to assume the position as Vice President of the United States. (Be patient, I promise I will bring up how this relates to IT.)

Skipping right past her controversial opinions, such as the fact that she dismisses mainstream science in favor of creationism, believes Iraq is "God's Plan", gets healed by a "Witch Hunter" (See Video Below), believes the end times will be in her liftetime, and believes in banning books, her resume clearly shows she should not be leading our country.

Yet without even getting into her education or resume into detail, which is quite lacking, we the public, the "hiring managers", can see right off the bat, that she is grossly underprepared to lead the free world. In this clip in which Katie Couric, asks which newspapers or magazines she reads, she is completely void of response. In subsequent interviews, she cannot name a single Supreme Court decision besides Roe Vs. Wade.

Many Republicans and Democrats, have uniformly declared her unqualified, including prominent conservative George Will who states, Palin is "obviously not qualified to be President".

My personal opinion is that she is so unqualified that she is "Apocalyptically Underqualified", a term I have just invented for someone that if hired could quite literally bring on some form of an apocalypse. Perhaps even to the level of being a figurehead in a future book about the rise and fall of the America Empire. Sarah Palin is so underqualified her ignorance of how to perform the job of President or Vice-President could be fatal to America, and possibly the free world.

Now, how this relates to IT. I would argue that there are many IT positions that also require extremely competent and qualified people. In many cases hiring the wrong person, could be fatal to an organization. For example, hiring an unqualified CTO could take a large company like Intel down, or hiring a poor developer could bankrupt a small Web 2.0 startup. Perhaps at a large, prestigious University, or ISP the wrong choice of a Network Engineer could lead to their own mini "Nuclear Winter".

Some of the signs of underqualification that Sarah Palin has shown, could similarly be on display in a job interview by an employer. For example, the equivalent question for an IT worker to the magazine question, could be what is your favorite O'Reilly book. If the candidate draws a blank, that is a very, very bad sign. Alternately, another basic question that could be similar to the Supreme Court question, could be to ask them to list their 10 favorite open source projects, and what role they have played in them. If Linux is the only reply, then that is another red flag.

Another question that I don't have the perfect answer to, is what happens when a company actually hired that "Apocalyptically Underqualified" person? What can a normal employee do, to prevent their companies inevitable journey into the abyss?

Oct. 17th update: While this post was controversial to some people about whether it related to IT, I do think my central thesis has been validated to a greater degree by some of the endorsements by major newspapers, in the last 24 hours One of the endorsements they mention is from the Los Angeles Times,

"Indeed, the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory. The decision calls into question just what kind of thinking -- if that's the appropriate word -- would drive the White House in a McCain presidency. Fortunately, the public has shown more discernment, and the early enthusiasm for Palin has given way to national ridicule of her candidacy and McCain's judgment."

My thesis, again, in a paragraph, there are people that are so unfit to be hired in IT, they they bring to mind the Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who, according to the LA Times is, "most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory". These IT positions, such as Network Manager, Senior Software Engineer, or CTO, can be just as important to an organization as a Vice President is to the country. Often there are many good reasons to hire a supremely unqualified person to a demanding technical position, and they are almost always bad, and end in a catastrophe!

Update Nov. 15th
Palin's um, command, of the english language.

Here was my overtly political response to Tim O'Reilly endorsing Obama:

One of the reasons why we have such a problem with National Security is the President George W. Bush invaded Iraq, under a false premise, and created problems in the region. This false premise was to protect us from "terrorists". Instead the region is destabilized, and we recently attacked yet another country Syra.
McCain voted for all of this, and egged the war on. McCain would continue those immoral, my opinion, polices. You might want to read a recent interview with Republican, retired Senator and Vietnam War Vet, Chuck Hagel. He lays out a very well thought out indictment of both McCain, Bush, and the war on Iraq. He also mentions that McCain's world view has a real problem, as it often involves attacking countries.
Republican Chuck Hagel, New Yorker
This behavior by McCain degrades our National Security.
The second argument against McCain being the best choice for National Security is his Vice Presidential pic. She is apocalyptically underqualified by anyone's standards, and numerous people have made this same conclusion. She being anywhere near the Presidency is perhaps the greatest threat to our National Security in the history of the United States, period.
In terms of the budget, Obama would be a much better choice to fix this crisis then McCain. McCain finished last in his class in school, his Vice-President had an equally bland academic career in which she bounced around schools until she finally scraped up a journalism degree.
George W. Bush, and the Republican policies have put our nation in Trillions of dollars of debt, by invading Iraq, redistribution our wealth to the ultra-rich. McCain has voted with Bush policies on the economy like they were clones. Finally, McCain admits he knows almost nothing about economics. He has eight houses, due to his ultra wealthy wife's fortune, and just plain doesn't understand our economic problems.
Finally, the republican party, and George W. Bush, needs to be thrown into the street like dogs for what they did to America. We are the laughing stock of the world, our economy in a mess, civil liberties have decreased, we torture people, invade other countries at will and kill people that are "bad people". Much of this has been enacted in the guise of fighting terrorism, and it is just as inane as McCarthyism was. Famous computer scientists Donald Knuth, has a great list of infrequently asked questions on the war in Iraq. One of my questions is what line do we cross in invading countries before we are the bad people, and we are the terrorists?
The only rational argument I have heard that makes sense, is that a large portion of people, mostly Catholic and Christian, are voting for Republicans just based on the fact that they feel Supreme Court Justices will be appointed that will overturn Abortion Laws.
I really do understand this rigid viewpoint if someone feels abortion is Murder, but at one point does the rigidity become a noose around people's neck such that they can never compromise? As Tim mentioned Abortion is a very divisive issue, and our country cannot afford this divisiveness, as it allows other evil to go unaddressed.
Mathematician Blaise Pascal said, "
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
Is this what is happening with Abortion? We as a country have to some how find a way to move past this issue, and form some compromise, otherwise, these "religious convictions", may enable others to do evil.
This is why I am voting for Obama.



Bill Maher on Palin


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19 Comments

From that perspective, Obama doesn't have enough experience either, and Hillary should have been the Democratic nominee.

By the way, I see that you made a nod in the direction of IT, but does this really have to do with IT? I'm really surprised to see this on O'Reilly's website.

Aren't you moving to New Zealand anyway? ;)

Hi jj,
I think that the other three candidates do meet the basic competence test. Biden, McCain and Obama perform substantially better on Couric-type questions. Obama was a professor of constitutional law for many years, so he can probably name quite a few supreme court cases. McCain is a student of history. There is an argument about which of those candidates (or Clinton) is best prepared but none appear "apocalyptically underqualified."


I think it's an interesting question of how to identify the utterly incompetent given that studies have shown that the highly incompetent are unable to identify their own shortcomings.

jj,

I will give you the point, that this is a very sensitive topic to bring up during the last three weeks of an election, at a time in the United States that could be perhaps the most important in our lifetime. On the other hand, this is exactly why it relates to IT.

Sometimes a very bad hire can be made at a company for political or personal reasons, and it can quite literally cause the organization an apocalypse. I can remember at one point talking to a network manager who asked me what language a DHCP configuration file was in, he had never seen one before! Yes, this does happen, and no matter what the political reasons that may make sense at the time, "apocalyptically underqualified" people can't be allowed in sensitive IT positions, or in our government. Sarah Palin failed the, "what is a 'for loop' question", you just can't hire someone like that for an important job, period!

Does a developer really have to have ten favorite open source projects?

What's so special about ten?

The Daily WTF has a number of stories about such people in IT - I don't have time to dig them out.
Back in the late 80's to early 90's my wife worked as a COBOL programmer for a small software house that went under - lots of unqualified folks. She once got a dressing down from her boss for writing a set of nested loops on a financial app, because he didn't understand loops, much less nested ones.
It really doesn't take an apocalyptically unqualified person to bring a place down - a slew of marginally unqualified people who aren't moving forward can bring disaster on just as well. Palin notwithstanding, just as in government we have a system of checks and balances, in a business, big or small, you hope there are competent folks high and low in the organization that can prevent spectacular failure on an unprecedented scale. Then, if you're religious, you pray. And if you're a heathen, you get your company healed by a "Witch Hunter" (consultant?) - hey, wait a second . . .

I second Shannon's response. Taking a gratuitous (and intellectually dishonest) swipe at Governor Palin in a context such as this on an O'Reilly website is boorish.

Obama can give pretty speaches read from a teleprompter! He can answer softball questions lofted at him from an adoring press corps! Wow! What better resume do you need?

If a washed-up comedian like Bill "The 9/11 terrorists were courageous" Maher is your example of intellectual rigor, then it's more of a comment on your reasoning abilities than anything else.

Stuff a sock in it.

JP and Shannon,

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of any of the candidates, and am an Independent voter. This isn't a partisan post, the reality is that Palin is a real world example of an underqualified person potentially put into a world altering job. This is exactly why it is so important to recognize, that at some point politics, either on the job, or in our government, is secondary to weeding people like this out.

At least McCain, Biden, and Obama, are at least marginally qualified, Palin, is not qualified by any stretch of the imagination. Once emotions, religion, and party politics get mixed in a decision, it can be very tough to think clearly. For some people, a single issue, such as abortion, can make them look past an underqualified candidates resume. This article is about, transcending that aspect of ourselves, and attempting to clearly say, this job is to important for politics to get in the way of hiring the right person. This is extremely relevant to IT, as this issue exists there as well.


Noah,

I think the problem is that people tend to confuse condescension, overweening arrogance, and a law degree with competence.

I'm not a fan of McCain or Obama either. But what galls me is the foam-at-the-mouth abuse that Palin has had heaped on her. Why? Because she contradicts the mold that "good society" has set up as a model example of feminism: she's a conservative, pro-life woman who just happens to be the most popular active state governor in the entire US. The media can't stand it, so they sneer, belittle her intelligence, mock her infant special-needs son, and ask her stupid "gotcha" questions that they would never bring up with Obama.

So, Palin is a creationist. Would you rather she had for twenty years attended a church whose pastor was a raging anti-white biggot and anti-semite? Obama did, but he's still qualified, no?

So, she can't recall off the top of her head a specific Supreme Court case.

What if she had said something like this:

“Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

Who do you think uttered this quote, Noah? I'll give you a hint: his initials are B.O.

If Palin had said something as embarrasing as that, it would be on the front page of the NYT and Letterman would be laughing about it for weeks...and columnists like you would join the herd, nudge and wink at each other, smug in your own assumed intellectual superiority, and fill your columns with gratuitous references to it, even when the topic is software.

Obama says it, and it slips down the memory hole.

If you want to talk about qualifications, Noah, then let's make a deal: I'll stack Palin's two years of being the governor of Alaska against two years of Obama's absentee senate tenure any day.


Noah, please do keep politics out of your technical blog. What would be lively conversation at PyCon over beers turns into one-sided hectoring when you put it on a web page.

Just start a second blog, they're free!
(I keep all my python stuff on it's own blog for the above reasons)

Jack,

As I mentioned earlier, this is very much an IT issue. At some point, people have to transcend their political affiliations, family relations, and say "I am sorry we can't hire my Uncle Bob to be the Network Manager, he is unqualified". I am not advocating doing blog posts that have political ideas in them, it just happens, this particular world event mimics real life.

This is my point with Sarah Palin, not that she is a Republican, she is just unqualified, period. This is spot on a technical post, as this exact problem manifests itself in the workplace in IT. We can agree to disagree.

Noah,

Question: What is America's first line of missile interceptor defense that protects the entire United States?

Answer: 49th Missile Defense Battalion of Alaska National Guard.

Question: What is the ONLY National Guard unit on permanent active duty?

Answer: 49th Missile Defense Battalion of Alaska National Guard

Question: Who is the Commander in Chief of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of Alaska National Guard?

Answer: Governor Sarah Palin, Alaska

Question: What U. S. governor is routinely briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counter terrorism?

Answer: Governor Sarah Palin, Alaska

Question: What U. S. governor has a higher classified security rating than either candidate of the Democrat Party?

Answer: Governor Sarah Palin, Alaska

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.

Does Obama's close relationship with Bill Ayers, a self-professed and unrepentant domestic terrorist, inspire more trust?

Sara Palin rose from obscurity, fought the corrupt good ol' boys network in her own state political party, and won the Alaska gubernatorial election on her own. She didn't need to win her position by being the wife of a president.

And Barack Obama is more qualified because he's spent most of his tenure as a freshman US Senator just campaigning for president? What specifically, Noah, has Obama accomplished that makes you think he's qualified? Is it that he reads the New Yorker Magazine and served as a lawyer for ACORN, registering dead people and Disney cartoon characters to vote?

Noah, you tell us that people must "transcend their political affiliations" but your column was nothing more than a political screed, larded with Obama campaign talking points. And the hilariously flimsy way you try to tie it into something remotely related to the IT industry is to intone apocalyptically...(drum roll)..."Don't hire dumb people!"

Coming soon to this blog -- Noah Gift on how important it is to floss after each meal, with a video of Bill Maher saying how Republicans are evil and want homeless children to get cavities!

Does O'Reilly know what its bloggers are doing?

Anonymous/Jp (same ip address),

This isn't a political post. I can't think of a better way to express a view I had wanted to express for quite some time about hiring the wrong people for the job. This unqualified candidate was the perfect segue, to express this view point.

My final argument to validate my position, comes from former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, he says, "McCain Knows He Put Country At Risk With Palin Pick". This sums up my non political point better than I can put it. The wrong person, picked for political reasons, in IT can destroy a company!

McCain put our country at risk

Noah,

Before you were born I became old enough to vote in my first presidential election. Johnson played the infamous video of a child picking the peddles off of a Daisy. When she picked the last one a nuclear explosion appeared behind her. The implication was that the electing Goldwater would result in war because he was a "hawk" and Johnso was "for peace".

Well, I voted for Goldwater and guess what? We got war. You remember that war, don't you? The one where Cronkite and his media buddies convinced citizens that we lost it militarily, and to spit on returning GIs and call them "baby killers", and where one Hollywood golden girl was photographed setting on a VC AAA battery, pretending to shoot down American planes. She was also the one who, when palmed a msg from an American prisoner, betrayed him and gave the msg to his captors, her buddies. Surely you remember that war?

You're making the same kind of unfounded and untrue assertions against Palin ... picking peddles off of a Daisy of your own making.

Because of corporate greed and congressional corruption (both parties) I was for Obama's change and talked him up to my friends until the Saddleback debate, when he side-stepped an issue by claiming it was "above his pay grade". What a cowardly dodge. My first thoughts were "if it is above his pay grade then WHO is PAYING HIM and FOR WHAT? Certainly not the American tax payer. What else will he do just to get elected?" Then came his speech gaffs, mostly ignored by the media, his pastor's Anti-American hatred, which he listened to for 20 years and claimed he can't remember, and his terrorist bomber and Marxist friends, to say nothing of the legitimacy of his American citizenship, which he defended with a doctored CLB and which is now the subject of a lawsuit before the Federal court system.

However, I wasn't fond of McCain (Keating) because I don't think he'll survive his first term, and we didn't know who his running mate would be. I was considering Nadar because of his high ethical and moral values, but ours is a two party system and voting for a 3rd party is throwing away your vote. When Palin accepted the node and I found out about her political background and character, despite slanderous emails asserting otherwise by Democrat operatives in Alaska, I decided that I would vote for her. I believe that she is the one whom voters are really voting for if they vote Republican. Her moral and ethical standards are way above the those of the current crop of politicians, and she alone has re-energized opposition to Obama, which is why Democrats and their friends on the Far Left have stooped to such low tactics to smear her. I was amused at how quickly a lawsuit in Alaska pass passed through the usually slow and ponderous court system in time to beat the Nov 4th election date and vilify Palin, but the court case against Obama probably won't get heard at all unless Obama loses the election, then it won't matter.
GG

I think you need to be really honest here. I don't doubt that you've been thinking about the detriment of hiring the wrong person in IT. I further don't doubt that you have been looking for an opportunity to blog about it. But I don't believe for a second that your sole motivation in this was to make the point, "Be careful who you hire to do IT work" and were able to back it up with an analogy of the current presidential election. This is just speculation and I'm going out on a limb here, but here's what your motivation appeared to be to me: "I can't stand Palin. I think she's going to harm the US if McCain is elected president. I can back up the harm that she'll cause by tying it into an IT related topic." That's how I perceive your internal dialog for posting this. If I'm wrong, I apologize for accusing you falsely of this. But I can't believe that you were more motivated by a lesser feeling (indignation at hiring an unqualified IT person) than by a much greater one (political disdain for a prominent figure in government, one who has a good chance of becoming our next vice president). The fact that you've been thinking about this for a while and have waited until now to post it and have tied it in to Palin really shades your true motivations. But, again, if I'm wrong, I apologize.

In some of the comments, you stated, "This isn't a political post. I can't think of a better way to express a view I had wanted to express for quite some time about hiring the wrong people for the job. This unqualified candidate was the perfect segue, to express this view point." Sure you can. If you really wanted to point out how hiring the wrong IT person can be detrimental to a company, you could find an example of when and where that's been the case. I'm sure examples aren't hard to find. Also, and on a more general note, you would have found someone who *actually had* caused trouble, not just someone you *speculate will* cause trouble. There is a difference. You don't *know* that Palin will cause problems if elected. You just fear that she will. You speculate that she will. Why would you make an example of something that is speculative or fearful to you rather than a concrete example? Again, it leads me to think that this *is* a political post posturing as an IT post. Yet again, if I am wrong, I apologize. I don't want to falsely accuse anyone, here.

There are plenty of times when we can mix and mingle IT and political topics and have them belong in this forum. (Remember Sen. Ted Stevens and his "tubes" and "trucks" explanation of the internets? I think that'd be appropriate.) But I think this one was a stretch. I think it's best to stick to the topic at hand with examples that have more direct ties to the topic.

Jeremy,

Thanks for the comments. Of course, it is impossible to completely separate politics and religion, or lack of religion, from every day life. That is what makes my point even more relevant, although, I probably could have honed it to be even sharper.

I have worked at a slew of huge corporations in my lifetime, and have seen some eye popping things. Many of them have occurred because a grossly underqualified individual was put into the wrong position. This is commonly referred to as the Peter Principle.

For many people all of the world, and even staunchly conservative newspapers like the Washington Post, they consider McCain's selection of Sarah Palin to be an "irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president". Yes, this is on topic, as many people are so concerned with some flash point issue, such as abortion, that will ignore the qualifications of a candidate. This can't happen or world as we know it could be destroyed, and it is grossly irresponsible. Good people in IT Management also have to make this same choice every day in hiring competent individuals, and they have to make the right choices in spite of their own political problems at work.

If you type "underqualifed" into Google you get this blog post as the first hit. I think it is a good place for underqualified to stay to describe what it is, and I bet her name will soon become popular in popular culture as the epitome of what underqualified means. While using a very controversial subject as an example can be emotional, it was exactly on target with the point I wanted to make.

Noah,

Not sure why this article belongs here but Free Speech and all, it is here, so here's my response:

I was an Area Coordinator on the George McGovern Presidential Campaign; I was a Democratic Town Committeeman and for political, aesthetic and other reasons, I really don't like John McCain. Please consider my comments in that context.

You're welcome to think he's great but Bill Maher makes me want to puke. I'm not going to volunteer to watch him. I can't stand his voice, his face, the look on his face, his pomposity, the disingenuous title of his show, his opinions or anything else about him.

As far as "qualification" to be President:

--McCain apparently is qualified in spite of his having been born in Panama. Something to do with US military or military hospital or something.

--Biden meets the qualifications although it's not clear whether he has any idea what he's saying, which no one understands - but there are no requirements for mental health - and he may have been born before Delaware was a State.

--Palin meets the Constitutional requirements. A proper response to your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs would be easy to write but lengthy. I'll give you a synopsis if you're interested. You don't have to like her. The sources you cite as authoritative including Katie Couric and the Los Angeles Times inspire in me much the same response as I have to that other politically correct (*$& I cited above.

--The birth certificate which is shown on Obama's campaign website lacks validation and cannot be real. Amid reports that relatives of his have said he was born in Kenya, Obama is being sued in Federal Court by a man who wants him to produce a valid US birth certificate. Rather than producing one, lawyers for Obama and the DNC are challenging the Standing of the man who filed the suit and are asking that the suit be dismissed. Why not just produce the Certificate? There can only be one answer.

Jeff,

Thanks for the comments. I agree my point could have been sharper, but in about a year, or two years, or 10 years, people could read this article, and understand that Sarah Palin, is an example of the most unqualified Vice Presidential candidate ever! This is a great way to make my point, about similar people in IT, who are just like her.

My bet is that she goes into Television or Film. She would be great in that role to be honest. I think that also speaks to underqualified IT people. Often people think they want to be software developers, or Network engineers, just like Sarah Palin, thinks she wants to be President, yet, has obviously, never attended Law School, or even read the constitution.

You have to weed fakes like this out, and get the sincere candidates, both in IT, and politics. For me, the dead give away to hiring a qualified, and sincere IT candidate, is to ask them what their hobby is. If they mention a lot of computer related hobbies, then that is a good sign, thus the O'Reilly book question. It shows they study in the own time, and really want to be an IT worker.

As for Sarah Palin, she has made several strange statements about the constitution, like suggesting we amend it to ban Gay Marriage, etc. This makes me think she has never even read the constitution, let along study it. She went to several Junior Colleges and hopped all over the United States to get a journalism degree. She probably should have gone to Law School, or got a Master's degree in History, or Political Science before she decided to get into politics.

Sarah has trouble even answering simple questions about how to perform her job function. Recently she stated that the Vice-President was "in charge of the Senate", while the Vice-President only plays a role in the Senate when a tie-breaking vote is needed. Since I wrote this post, there have been dozens upon dozens of newspaper's, many conservative, that have specifically stated Sarah Palin is underqualified, or a "joke". Current polls state that the #1, yes, the #1 issue for the McCain campaign is that Sarah Palin is unqualified, not the economy, not Iraq. At some point, people are going to have to stop defending her.

Sure, I may the call quite early, that she was unfit for office, to make an IT point, but I was right!

I am not an Obama fan, or Democrat, or a political beast. I just call them as I see them, but your slur deserves a response.

As for the offtopic slur against Obama and his birth certificate, yes, your technique is very common for Republican diehards. The Republican campaign is trying to create the impression that Obama is a Muslim, or "unknown", or scary. All I can say to that is I think Americans are smarter than that, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Hey Noah,

Please forgive any grammar, syntax or spelling errors. It's really late and I have to get to bed.

I don't think your response was entirely fair.

I mean, I agree with you about people who are looking for a job in a field in which they don't really have a great interest. That's what happens too often in most fields, including medicine and law where often the interest is more in making money. IT is definitely included, but I think that's more due to folks who are interested because someone told them that it's a job with a future, so it is sort of due to money also. A lot of folks - especially those who are first entering the work force - don't know where they belong and it is hard to know what a job entails before you have it. A friend of mine who went to Harvard College and Harvard Law took very little time to find that he didn't like The Law so he went into banking. But some people with a good work ethic grow into their jobs. A good mentor helps.

I don't think Palin wants to be President. She doesn't strike me as that type. Hillary does. I think Palin accepted an offer that she wasn't seeking. I wouldn't want her as President because I think she's not mature enough for it and I'm afraid that The Handlers would twist her into something bad. I also want to make it clear that I don't want McCain for President. Among other things, I don't like McCain/Feingold and I don't like McCain/Kennedy and the latter almost melted down Congress' phone switchboards, so I'm not alone.

Regarding Obama, although there is a lot about him that I like, including the facts that I like his speaking voice and demeanor and to me, having a black guy as President would be kind of cool - plus I think it might help to increase our standing in the world - but his politics are not among them. I used to be pretty far left, but after having more than one government job, I have changed my mind about how much I want the government to run. Congress was supposed to, by law, regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and they, particularly Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank of the Banking and Housing Committee, refused to take corrective measures when the problems were brought to light in Congressional hearings a couple of years ago. I certainly don't want them to run healthcare. I'm not a Libertarian, but I do tend to sometimes lean that way. My first choice would be Ron Paul, who was against this stupid war from the beginning, which is another of the things I like about Obama.

I didn't say anything about Obama's religion but since you brought it up, it is true that school records had him registered as a Muslim. Other than being dismayed that people deny that simple point of fact, it doesn't mean anything to me, because I'm a Catholic who supports conversion efforts, so I understand that people can change their religions; it's a very individual thing. Having said that, I do find his choice of churches "scary" and that's something a lot of people said about Romney, so I don't see how this is a partisan position.

You're welcome to your suspicions, but I don't think of myself as a Republican diehard. My dad would laugh if he heard that. Although there haven't been any Democratic Presidential candidates I liked since then, I was an early Jimmy Carter supporter, voted for him and sent money to his campaign in (yes) 1974. Turned out that I really disliked his Federal Court appointees and have been tuned into that since then. I'm afraid that Obama would nominate both Hillary and Bill to the Supreme Court. But in '92, I worked on the campaign for a Democratic candidate for Mayor of San Diego. I didn't agree with him about everything, but I thought he was the better (or maybe less bad) choice. There's no way of knowing if he'd have been worse; he lost and the Republican woman who won was a disaster, among other things instituting a ticket guarantee for the Chargers, which cost the city a fortune.

I want to say something about Supreme Court cases. I have actually read several of them, arguments pro and con. But when I read that Palin couldn't name a decision beside Roe v Wade, I had to think for a minute if I could and all I came up with was Marbury v. Madison. There's also Heller v D.C.. I know of a few others. There was an 1890s decision in which the Court said, 'this is a Christian country', there was the 1950s school desegregation case, the 1960s school prayer case, a case in which the court said 'atheism is a religion', the 1970s school busing case, but the names of them don't quickly come to mind, which reminds me of something else.

One day, I read an editorial endorsement article in the San Diego Union. They wrote, 'although we disagree with x candidate on nearly every issue, his opponent is simply unqualified'. If you think about it, you may agree that that argument seems bizarre. If one guy is of an opposing party and known to have postions totally opposed to yours but the other guy is even let's say an unknown factor, yet of your same party, wouldn't you be better off with that? I called and spoke with the Editorial Page Editor. I asked him about it. He said, 'Well, for instance this guy we didn't endorse doesn't know what Proposition Y is.' At the time, I was embarassed to say that offhand, I was unable to identify that Proposition by its number. Today, I wouldn't have that response. I'd say, 'Which one IS that?' That's why I think Palin is too immature. She doesn't yet know how to handle oppositional major media figures. I may be dreaming but I actually think I could! Since that time, I've had several conversations with newspaper columnists and editors and TV announcers, in person and on the phone. They're not smarter or better and they are very human and fallible. And, by the way, I lived in D.C. for 4 years and the only people who find The Washington Post to be conservative are communists.

The book banning accusation is a joke. I've read extensively about it. You can't name one banned book because there were none. I also have personal experience with librarians. I wanted a book which was on the NY Times top ten best seller list. They had one copy and a long waiting list, because they disagreed with the content. No library has every book. Books can be gotten elsewhere. The librarians want to be the final arbitrars of which books they have. Unfortunately for them, they're not elected and in the Palin case, she was the Mayor and the Librarian served at her pleasure. By the way, librarians in San Diego can retire after 20 years with six figure incomes and I think that's outrageous. If you want to go again, I have more responses to some of your other allegations.

Final point - I want to address what you say is offtopic. Maybe I misunderstood you but I thought your topic was what constituted qualification for the Presidency.

You can change the subject - to me or to "Republican diehards" - by the accusation that it's a "slur", but the question and the lawsuit about Obama's birth certificate remain. Why, again, don't they just produce it? Because they can't.

Give me a break. Unpartisan you're not. And I couldn't be less interested in your political views.

What I am interested in is tech boooks - that's why I come to this site.

I'd like to be able to peruse tech book sites without the megadose of politics.

Worse, your self-centered/narrow view of the universe is apparent from your questions for interviewees:

what is your favorite O'Reilly book
Apparently knowledge of O'Reilly books are now a substitute for technical or managerial competence. Guess I missed that email.

10 favorite open source projects, and what role they have played in them
Having a favorite OS project and spending time on OS development is now a requirement? That's hardly criteria for evaluating an applicant's capabilities.

You've created 8 paragraphs of useless crap. The teaser (Apocalyptically Underqualified: When Ignorance Can Be Fatal On The Job) got my attention.... hmmm...maybe an interesting opinion piece there.

I won't make that mistake again.

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