Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama Job Application Crosses The Line

Powder Cocaine. Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, State of Alaska, June, 2008. Photographer unknown.
Powder Cocaine. Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, State of Alaska, June, 2008. Photographer unknown.

“Take This Job and Shove It”

The 63 question job application from the Obama team is insane.
Graphic The New York Times.
Graphic The New York Times.

Raw Story

"If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but, not limited to an email, text message or instant message that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the president-elect if it were made public, please describe."

Potential applicants are also asked to detail every speech, newspaper column or blog post they have written and must even provide the URL of any websites in which they feature including Facebook or MySpace.

They must also list every cohabitant for the last 10 years and say whether they have ever owned a gun.

Obama has also published stringent new rules governing the terms under which lobbyists who petition the federal government can work on his transition.

If they are not put off by the stringent personal disclosures required, potential government workers can pore through the "Plum Book," a listing of over 7,000 senior level government jobs released on Wednesday.

Four thousand of the jobs are political appointments, and 1,100 require confirmation by the Senate.

The listings by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee -- of which Obama is a member -- include such top jobs as US Representative to the United Nations and administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The tough posting of US coordinator for Afghanistan is listed as vacant, as Obama insists that the United States must refocus its military strategy on battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnants.

But there are also more obscure appointments up for grabs.

Someone is wanted for the post of deputy assistant director for endangered species in the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

There's more...
The New York Times

The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.

Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages.

The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”

The first question asks applicants not just for a résumé, but for every résumé and biographical statement issued by them or others for the past 10 years — a likely safeguard against résumé falsehoods, one Clinton administration veteran said.

Most information must cover at least the past decade, including the names of anyone applicants lived with; a chronological list of activities for which applicants were paid; real estate and loans over $10,000, and their terms, for applicants and spouses; net worth statements submitted for loans, and organization memberships — in particular, memberships in groups that have discriminated on the basis of race, sex, disability, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

There are no time limits for some information, including liens, tax audits, lawsuits, legal charges, bankruptcies or arrests. Applicants must report all businesses with which they and their spouses have been affiliated or in which they have had a financial stake of more than 5 percent. All gifts over $50 that they and their spouses have received from anyone other than close friends or relatives must be identified.

Just in case the previous 62 questions do not ferret out any potential controversy, the 63rd is all-encompassing: “Please provide any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the president-elect.”

The answer could duplicate the response to Question 8: “Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career.”

For those who clear all the hurdles, the reward could be the job they wanted. But first there will be more forms, for security and ethics clearances from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Government Ethics.

There's more...
This is bullshit.

Is this job application legal?

It goes WAY over the line.

Let's distinguish between Security Clearances and Political Vetting.

I'll tell the FBI, NSA, or Secret Service, anything they want to know. Their clearance processes work and they keep their files secure. If someone leaks a file, it's a felony.

That's not this.

The Obama team is vetting prior to hiring. To cover their political asses, they're saying, "Tell us ALL your deepest, darkest secrets; we'll tell you if we're hiring you."

Yeah... Right.

Like it makes sense to give professional political operatives, HR people no less, your deepest, darkest, most personal secrets, along with your medical and tax records going back years. Then TRUST THEM. Because they work for the President-Elect, so they won't fuck you over, no Sir, nuh-uh.

Other than the on the transition website, which goes further than the Bush Administration's, there's no assurance, absolutely none that they won't use everything you tell them to fuck you, your mother, your wife and husband, sons and daughters, your dog, and get you fired from your current job as well.

Some of the people on the transition team may have political grudges against you or may see an opportunity to fuck you or your organization over in order to gain points with some other political faction. And you'll never know who screwed you.

It isn't as if your Obama job application is a Top Secret FBI file with felony charges for violating national security. Because it's just a job application for political vetting, not a FBI security file; that only comes later AFTER you're hired.

So go ahead, hand some 20-30 year old political staff the political equivalent of blackmail video-tapes of you having a torrid affair with Bill O'Reilly, surrounded by luffas and candy you stole from children.

Do you even know if the Obama team's IT system is secure? The FBI system is. Any system the Obama team just designed, arguably is not. I'm just saying.

Do I really think the transition team is going to screw people over on this stuff? No, I actually don't. There are people on the transition team I know and trust. Trust deeply, actually. *waves*

But my point here is about CHECKS AND BALANCES. No one should be forced to submit to political vetting (and trust their public identity to non-existent assurances that their identity won't be destroyed by a trial balloon or a tactical leak for political purposes by the Obama team) on hiring decisions PRIOR to initial hiring.

Instead, the Obama team should make a conditional offer to folks, contingent on their being vetted successfully. It's also fine if people choose to be vetted in advance to speed things along, however these questions simply can not be taken for granted as just a step in the process; the questions are too intrusive, too personal, and the people reading them are too untrained -- this is the first Obama Administration. It isn't like the FBI who has been around a long, long time.

During the heyday of the Internet Boom in the 90s, kids in Silicon Valley used to think they should work 80-100 hour work weeks because they were building a new, brighter future. Their boss would bring in a foosball table, a cook, and all the Jolt Cola and pizza they could handle. Oh... and sometimes, their pay would be late. But what the heck; they were building a bigger, brighter future for the world. Most of those companies are still talked of... at

Same thing happened during the heyday of the Consciousness raising period in the 70s & 80s at est, at Lifespring, Mind Dynamics, Scientology, and hundreds more. People with good intentions volunteered collectively many thousands of hours...and the parent organization made a bundle, because the volunteers failed to distinguish between contributing to others and contributing to the stockholders. The volunteers weren't stockholders, you see. But to this day, almost all of the volunteers still talk about the "value" they got out of volunteering. The stockholders (if you can find one; they're rare) talk about all the damn money they made out of the volunteers. Amazing how that works. Except when they're around the volunteers. Then the stockholders talk about how much value they got out of their relationship with the volunteers. *laughs*

The Millennials have been raised that nothing is off limits, that there is no privacy, and that has impacted all of us who are now alive. They're wrong, and those of us who are middle-aged, know it. Lots of things are off limits, outside of family or a valid security or criminal investigation. Applying for a job should NEVER be an invitation to open up someone like a book.

To ask these questions of anyone in the context of a job interview is massively arrogant. Make a preliminary offer first, then run them through poltical vetting. But to demand all of this before making the offer bespeaks arrogance which is beneath Obama. (I'm betting this does not personally have his hand on it. Oh yes, he is that arrogant; he'd just never have set it up this stupidly. The process lacks elegance, it lacks taking care of people. It lacks Obama's personal touch. This was set up by staff who don't quite get his vision.)

There are incidents, issues, and areas in life which people have spent years to decades closing behind them, making the nightmares STOP. To have to rip all that open again for a jumped-up HR department, just so they can see if they are interested? Fuck them.

Is this even legal? I know it wouldn't be anywhere else. Or is this another one of those bullshit situations where the Executive and Congress have exempted themselves from the same laws the rest of the United States must live under. Because if I were hiring people for GNB, I sure as shit couldn't ask a potential hire these questions and base hiring decisions on them. I'd get my ass sued and rightly so.

Pretense, Social Hypocrisy, in pursuit of looking good, ass-covering, and Style over Substance... That is what REPUBLICANS do. It is what Joe Lieberman specializes in.

Obama was elected to knock this crap off.

An ENORMOUS number of the best people in the United States are too adult to EVER submit to this type of childish game playing.

I won't.

If this means I'll never work for the President, well, fuck it.

If President-Elect Obama with his cocaine use is too much of a chicken-shit to use me and grownups like me, then really, he and the transition team can shove it up their hypocritical asses.