A Failure of Our Betters to Do Good


Note: This is a guest post by Dianna Deeley who has recently joined Stacy McCain and me as a full-time member of The Other Podcast crew. Dianna operates a consulting business that provides advice to not-for profits organization.

A friend of mine linked this story on Facebook—it’s the story of what another friend describes as the “Make It Very, Very, Wrong Foundation.”

Brad Pitt’s Make it Right was established in 2008 to rebuild the 9th Ward of New Orleans, a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The mission statement from Make it Right’s 2015 990-PF (the last 990 available) reads: Development of affordable green homes in economically challenged areas. Just as an aside, $130,000 seems a little steep for an affordable home.

Ground was broken on the first homes in 2008, and by 2015 Make It Right had spent over $26 million on the development. Building stopped by early 2016, as complaints about the design and construction of some of the houses began to surface.

Award-winning architects were turned loose, and a “green” builder was hired. At a minimum, $26 million has been spent, and at least two of the houses have been demolished, with complaints being lodged over the design and construction of the rest. Lawsuits are flying. Neighbors are furious, and residents would like some repairs done.

This is an utterly predictable fiasco. The intentions were great; the money was no object; the development was going to be a great and glorious topic of discussion at Hollywood cocktail parties; and all would be well. It’s drearily predictable—all sizzle, no steak.

If the endeavor had started with a little humility, and worked with agencies that build affordable homes (offhand, there’s Habitat for Humanity and Mercy Housing South), some respect for Murphy, and some serious due diligence, this might have been money well-spent. Unleashing celebrity architects to create a bunch of blue-sky designs was a terrible thing—the buildings may be architecturally stunning, but don’t serve the needs of people who are living in them. Finally, it would have been wise to hire the construction firms who build upper middle class housing in the area.

Instead, the COO hired to run the show is an authority on renewable energy and has an MBA in finance (which is reassuring when very large amounts of money are being slung about!) but no previous construction experience. In other words, they hired someone who would have been a terrific consultant for energy efficiency but is the wrong choice to be in charge of the foundation.

There was a construction manager. I cannot discover what he was managing during construction, because on completion, the roofs leaked, the foundations … weren’t foundational, the gas meters were installed improperly, and the buildings started rotting pretty much immediately. This is not good management.

Also, when a new, green, product is offered (See: TimberSIL), it might be wise, rather than leaping on it with great enthusiasm, perhaps to test it initially on one building, like, say, a community center, in which no one lives. When you know how well it works, consider using more of it. But no one ever seems to have mentioned this concept to the foundation.

There are about 385 non-government funders who give in the New Orleans area, at least 50 of which build housing as part of their mission. No, the Make It Right’s board wouldn’t have gotten as many plaudits on their wonderful, daring new buildings, but the houses would not be falling down about the owners’ ears, and there would not be any lawsuits. Or, given the way we operate these days, at least a lot fewer lawsuits! If they’d actually built houses right, the foundation’s board could still be looking for new and wonderful projects that need the kind of money and clout that a foundation like Make It Right should have.

UDATE—Some typos corrected.

A Basic Principle of Hiring


I can’t figure out why Biden picked Kamala is the title of a post over at Bookworm Room.

I’ve tried really hard to figure out what Kamala brings to the ticket and I’m stumped. Here are all the things that I think are problems with Kamala. What’s stunning is that these problems cut across the entire political spectrum in America. It’s hard to see how anyone could like her …

and he goes on to list some of the major problems she brings to the ticket. She has something in her background to offend every member of the Democrats’ base as well as most swing voters.

1.  She isn’t “African-American.” Her mother is from India, her father is from a Jamaican family of former slaver owners, and although she was born in California, she was raised in Canada.
2. Although her husband is a Jew and she has spoken out in favor of Israel’s right to self-defense, she favors the Iran nuclear deal which would allow Israel’s existential enemy to develop nuclear weapons.
3. Her husband is a white male.
4. As Tulsi Gabbard pointed out, Harris was the scourge of the underclass when she was a District Attorney and State Attorney General in California.
5. She was so unpopular in the primaries that she dropped out before any votes were cast.
6. She’s a hard leftist who Marxist views don’t play well with either of the moderates still remaining in the party. (And won’t attract many swing voters.)
7. Her attacks on Catholic judges haven’t been well received by the practicing Catholics left in the party. (And won’t attract many swing voters.)
8. She isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and her intellectual shortcomings will be obvious in any debate with VP Pence.
9. She sounds like a scolding Karen.

So why did she get the nomination?

FWIW, I believe we’re seeing a basic principle of management at work—First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.

This November, we will see if the American people are first-rate or second-rate.

No, That’s Not the Way the System Works


While I’m drinking my second cup of coffee this morning, I’m seeing comments on various social media suggesting that one of the things that should happen if blue cities #DefundthePolice is the abolition of security details for elected officials. I doubt that would happen. Indeed, I expect those would be among the very last police details to be cut.

Whether at a local or national level, the whole purpose of being in the Inner Party is to exercise power, and that power is exercised via the Outer Party bureaucracy to keep the Proles in line. The Inner Party will always try to have sufficient resources in place to protect itself and enforce its will, so there will always be a place in the Outer Party for those enforcers. Department A4 of the Gestapo was Protective Services. The KGB had its Close Protective Services directorate.

Outer Party resources may be shifted about, and that may reduce policing of certain activities among the Proles, but the Inner Party will always try to deploy sufficient resources to protect its interests.

Quote of the Day


There is a maxim, ‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.’ It is a maxim for sluggards. A better reading of it is, ‘Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow,’ because something may occur to make you regret your premature action.

—Aaron Burr

Swamp Draining


President Trump has withdrawn the nomination of Jessie Liu to position at the Treasury Department. According to a post by J. Christian Adams over at PJ Media, the reason for the withdrawal is the President’s disapproval of Liu’s work as the U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case was her office’s sentencing memo for Roger Stone. For lying to the FBI, Democrat senate intelligence staffer James Wolfe who leaked secret data to his girlfriend got 2 months.  Liu’s “career prosecutors” recommended 9 years for the same behavior by Stone.

Adams goes through a long list of biased prosecutions by the “career prosecutors” in Liu’s U. S. Attorney’s office, and concludes—

This was the week that Trump got his sea-legs. He campaigned on draining the swamp, and he has learned how subtle and how sophisticated the swamp is.

Meanwhile, institutionalists, including some Republicans too cowardly to be quoted by name, have gone on record as clutching their pearls at Trump’s actions.  They want the bureaucrats to be unmoored to the executive branch.

The “career lawyers” at the Justice Department did not stand for election and win.  The entire Department should take note.  There is a unitary executive.  Elections matter.  The President ran against the elites who are dispensing biased, sanctimonious unequal justice in Washington D.C.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that he is keeping his promises.

Read the whole thing.

Given the house cleaning at the National Security Council and the withdrawal of the Liu nomination, I won’t be surprised if there are more vacancies in certain government positions in the near future.