consultants are sandburs

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It is well known that Scott Walker lacks a college degree. So what?

He has not been tested in ivy league post-graduate education; unlike other politicians who have reached the White House. One can form a subjective belief he lacks the horsepower between the ears that is a presidential requirement, but that should be argued from the way he has handled the position of Governor of Wisconsin, not from his youth. And clearly some liked his handiwork, others did not, and with a ton and a half of money to buy PR, he survived a close ouster effort. About all that, so what? Different people will make different conclusions.

The better analysis of Walker's situation - Marquette University, contiguous attendance but leaving short of graduating with about a year's worth of credits absent from the resume - is, again, so what?

Like or dislike what he did across the border, but don't get bogged down in collateral consideration of his mediocre grade point average or his failure to graduate.

Clearly this is not Bill Gates dropping out of Harvard to start a successful business with money from a family multi-million dollar trust fund his mother and the trustee allowed him to do. Gates' intelligence is beyond question; but again some like what he - his firm, Microsoft - did, and others find room to criticize.

Nor is Walker in Bill Clinton's intellectual league; Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law graduate - and clearly intelligent and well spoken. Also, look at the low-grade-point but prestigious-schools credentials W has, and then look at how his people were asleep for 9/11 and his disastrous oil wars and the economy tanking completely during his watch, in a way unequaled in our history except for the Great Depression. His economic Depression was a cut under that, but the man's presidency was disaster a thousand different ways; and he had every family privilege one could have, entering the White House. The worse president we have had since FDR cannot be faulted for lacking degrees; but he can be faulted for being bad for the job, based on his track record, (which many attribute to Dick Cheney anyway).

After having looked at what the Internet pundits have to say about it, the better analysis - from a favorable GOP leaning source and only a bit over the top conclusory - protesting too much a time or two in a sentence or two - is online, Politico Mag, here.

The root of this paradox is that Walker is an extreme outlier among top elected officials — and the journalists and consultants who surround them — in not having graduated from college, at the same time that a solid two-thirds of the country lacks a four-year degree.

Such is the domination of not just college grads, but specifically Ivy League grads and especially Harvard grads, at the upper echelons of our government that the nation’s political competition can be seen as one big intramural battle at the Harvard Club.

George W. Bush (Harvard Business School, 1975) was succeeded as president by Barack Obama (Harvard Law, 1991), whose fiercest tea party critic is perhaps Ted Cruz (Harvard Law, 1995).

Should Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton get elected president she will at least provide a dollop of diversity (Yale Law School, 1973) and restore to New Haven what had once appeared to be its ascendancy, running from George H.W. Bush (Yale, 1948) to Bill Clinton (Yale Law School, 1973) to the double-credentialed George W. Bush (Yale, 1968).

[...] Walker’s proposed 13 percent reduction in funding for the University of Wisconsin system is being linked by some commentators to his own college experience, making him an “antagonist of the academy,” in the words of an article for Inside Higher Ed. But the Walker proposal should be viewed as external pressure to stimulate needful reforms that the university system would never undertake on its own.

The conservative economist Richard Vedder, who specializes in higher education, writes that the Walker cuts could force the University of Wisconsin to “unwind some of the vast administrative bureaucracy; push professors to teach more; eliminate expensive graduate programs with few enrolled students” and undertake other necessary changes.

If Scott Walker wins the Republican nomination, Democrats will of course attack him as anti-education, but they will be falling into a trap if they make his lack of a degree an issue. When it comes to college, Walker is a representative of the 68 percent, and a symbol of all that is possible even without a diploma hanging on a wall.

[Item author] Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.

The man's record in Wisconsin strikes me as that of a mediocre grandstanding-but-empty politician. A Michele Bachmann of the other gender. Appealing to a lowest denominator of "success" in government. Opinions can differ. However, that is an opinion based on what has happened in Wisconsin politics as a result of his being a player, and how things might have been better or worse. Not on Walker's lack of a degree. Orrin Hatch and Joe Biden have degrees. But are they judged by that? Each has a track record, so look there. Ted Cruz is proof enough that having advanced credentials academically does not mean the holder has a first class mind. Putting Walker and Cruz in the same boat because of the public "service" record of each puts them as equals, and either would be a disastrous choice for the highest governmental position in the nation, in my opinion. And, clearly, opinions differ. Even Rick Perry has a degree, so they clearly are not that hard to get. Perry is an Aggie, just like Johnny Manziel.

Perry has served in the military, while Walker and others seeking high office have not. Again, while veterans may bristle, military service is yet one more "so what" factor; presently so in politics, while in earlier times there was the string, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Bush-the-elder, and Carter each with a military service record. Reagan, a Hollywood-warrior only, broke the chain. Since Vietnam, a service record has NOT been viewed as too much of a prerequisite, Clinton and Reagan being the two poster children for that change (along with Bush-the-younger's far shorter than real military veteran record - ducking combat while combat was raging).

Now being a veteran is, properly, a so what factor in deciding, general election time, who of two offerings is the better choice to lead a nation. That is especially so with an all-volunteer military the order of the day, now. Not entirely a non-factor, but largely so. (UPDATE QUESTION: Reader help sought - Which, if any, of the seriously recognized GOP 2016 presidential candidates is a veteran? In Minnesota's Congressional delegation the two most notable veterans are Col. Kline and Walz, who reached the highest NCO rank.)

Few Walker or Cruz or Rubio supporters worry over whether their chosen one served, or not. Likewise, Obama's worse critics focus elsewhere than whether he served in the military, or not.

Interestingly, both Perry and Walker were Boy Scout - Eagle Scouts, which says little for that accomplishment - indeed, calling that status itself into question.

Last, if wanting to think of a degree, even an advanced one from a well regarded law school, as some sign of brightness or capability to lead a nation, look no further than Rick Santorum for disproof by counter-example.

Not that small sample localized patterns mean much in terms of statistical soundness, but posing the degree question in terms of Ramsey's council:

Mayor Strommen has an advanced degree, as did John Dehen. Riley has at least a Bachelor's degree, Backous too, with honors, Tossey with honors I believe, while I am unsure of others and cannot any longer find a contact page online for the councilmembers. I hope that is error and they are not treating us like mushrooms, not wanting it to be convenient to contact them. I presume the other four on council have degrees.

Recently Elvig, Bob Ramsey, and Colin McGlone served on council, each without having college degrees, and one can argue it showed. Perhaps deference shown to Darren Lazan might trace to his holding a degree, at least in part, but that Lazan status, subjectively to me, suggests holding a degree is no proof of any particular level of expertise or capability. Opinions may differ, and Lazan surely cannot be faulted for allowing his "services" to be inadequately compensated.

There is Jungbauer, unique in having puffed the resume; no degree. Abeler has his chiopractic degree.

Previously on council and now on the County Board, Look likely has a degree although I do not know either way. I expect Susan Anderson has one too. Natalie surly holds a degree.

Gamec, was experienced and bright, degree or not; while Hendriksen and Connolly each was exceptionally talented, each without a degree as best as I understand things. And unfortunately each had a short tenure on council.

Jerry Zimmerman held a degree allowing him to be a County Surveyor employee for years.

Todd Cook, unlikely. Pattiann Kurak; I would be astounded if she holds a degree but in any event, degree or not, Pattiann is Pattiann and will not ever be anyone else. Jeff Wise I am unsure about, but either way he is bright and successful at his business.

That being the small sample, persons familiar to most readers from Ramsey, the appearance is you can get extremely good talent with or without a degree, while some lacking a degree might be regarded by some readers as clunkers.

James Norman had to hold a degree to have held the job he did; and the degree did not attest to character or other personal virtue. Ulrich, Heidi Nelson, and Brama all hold degrees, as does Planner Gladhill.

Last, at a guess, some editing point might have blitzed content,

as that page stands today (with a heads up email sent to the county clerk and webmaster about previously posted council member contact info now lacking).

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
Back to presidents, neither Reagan nor Johnson held prestigious degrees; but each did graduate.

Truman was the last president who did not graduate from college; yet despite that and Scott Walker's status, make no mistakes --- Scott Walker is no Harry Truman, never was, is not, never will be, end of story.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
RAMSEY - A final note, the above page link - its top-of-page caption is a hot link, with a click there reaching the page with the contact info:

Besides that navigation path, Jason Fredrickson, the City's systems and web master, emailed an alternate navigation path; third column over from the left on the homepage, 3 inches down, below the mayor's photo, that first link there, kind of mid-page, will reach also.

Another coufusion, there appear to be two city homepage links, or somebody is simulating the city homepage:

The page layouts differ, and one, (possibly both), is the official city page. Which? Are they fungible?

Last, do not expect a secure connection, per an https:// ... link. There is none. https is not implemented on the city's site, apparently.

UPDATE: By email city IT head Jason Fredrickson assured me that both sites are legitimate, each a domain owned by the city, and users need fear neither of the homepages.  As official legit sites, readers can use either without fear of spoofing, phishing, malware, etc. 

Purely guessing: The site was secured to keep the domain name out of improper ownership, and then the idea is to have parallel content to secure against either of the domains being attacked by hackers to the point of alteration or loss of content. One to serve as mainly a helpfully accessible backup of the other.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
DEGREES: Bobby Bell, this link.

SCOTT WALKER: In need of touching base with Tony Perkins to assure he'll be one of the Raptured; this link; beam Scotty up, Tony.

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just gave what I can safely call the very worst interview on the life issue I have seen from a Republican in recent memory,” Frank Cannon, President of American Principles in Action, said in a statement. “Claiming you are impotent to act on your core principles is neither true nor wise. What about advocating for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks? That’s a law that has already been passed in 12 states, which the Republican National Committee endorses, and which most of Walker’s fellow Republican presidential candidates also support, Jeb Bush included.”

Well, crosswise with those folks, is proof Walker cannot be all bad. What is most interesting, there are four recognized Gospels, plus Apocrypha, and I have yet to see the Jesus jockeys present one single quote or parable or anything about The Man, Himself, criticizing abortion. I bet they have a host of explanations, the capabilities of medical science being what it was when Aramaic was popular being but one. Whatever, it was not on the officially sanctioned agenda as much as blessed be peacemakers; yet where has that gone with the neocon war mongering creed still being hosted on the Bomb Iran channel? The caveat; I admit there also was no mention of curing the pregnant, along with the lame and blind, in cataloged miracles. BOTTOM LINE: Who are these people saying Walker lacks suitable aggressiveness? Certainly not public employees or teachers. Perhaps the critique is differences in emphasis in the Walker agenda from theirs; perceived as a weakness. Perceptions can differ.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
Scotty, show your bona fides. Get yourself one of those red tee shirts. Santorum has one, along with others, "Jeb Bush included." Santorum wears his to bed every night and if you'd go that far, Scotty, you could feel the love.

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