Monday, December 31, 2007

‘Lobbyists are an essential part of our democratic process’ -- Arizona Capitol Times, November 16, 2007

Employment 101 Interview with Farrell Quinlan, President of In the Arena Public Affairs, Inc.

What was your first job?

Construction laborer for a home builder in my hometown of Rutland, Vermont.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy the contest of ideas in the media, political campaigns and among policymakers. Lobbying and public affairs consulting is probably the only profession that allows me to indulge my passion for history, politics and competition while still being able to pay the bills.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Staying current on all of the devel­opments in the issue areas I need to track for current clients as well as the ones I need to track for future clients I’d like to bring on. There is so much in­formation available. It is a real art to know how to best convey the relevant information to policymakers or to the public through the media.

What is the most misunder­stood part of your job?

There’s a reason “special interests” are called special; everybody’s issue or concern is special to them. Lobbyists are an essential part of our democratic proc­ess. They become more necessary the more gov­ernment interferes in the free market and private matters. If re­formers want to reduce the influence of lobbyists, they should start with loosening govern­ment’s regulatory grip and halting its am­bitions of social engineering through the tax code.

Any tips on handling pushy press people?

You can never forget that, ultimately, reporters are merely a conduit to reaching a larger audience for your message. “Pushy” or not, the media have a job to do and it’s my responsibility to offer them accurate, timely and concise information from my side of the issue. The more successful I am at accomplishing that, the more productive and positive my relationship will be with the media.

As a student of history and politics, who do you see as history’s best politician, greatest com­mu­nicator and most inspirational leader?

History’s best pure politician was probably Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. During his remarkable 58-year career, he success­fully tamed Rome’s brutal and murderous political cul­ture and ef­fectively established a 250-year peace in Europe. For greatest com­municator, I propose Pope John Paul II. His simple admonition to “be not afraid” to those suffering under Commu­nism’s yoke was indispensable to bringing an end to that sad, bizarre chapter of hu­man history. I believe history’s most inspi­rational leader was Abra­ham Lincoln. He fulfilled America’s founding ideals by freeing the slaves, demonstrated unequaled skill and resolve in fighting to pre­serve the Union and, in the end, gave his life for his country and the cause of human dignity.

Not too long ago, you moved from working for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to heading up your own firm. What advice would you give to someone who wants to do the same?

Moving from a member/association bearing at the Arizona Chamber to a client/consultant approach now is natural in some ways and wholly unnatural in others. I am fortunate to partner with a dynamic PR and advertising firm called PRfect Media, headed by John Hernandez and Ron Meritt. Their firm didn’t have a gov­ern­ment relations and lobbying practice and I didn’t yet have the necessary administrative and “business know-how” skills to be successful on my own. Our growing In the Arena Public Affairs partnership has allowed me to focus on my strengths, like provid­ing high quality client services, while in­creasing the range of services both entities can offer their cli­ents. It’s a true win-win for both firms.

What best prepared you for being a political consultant?

I truly enjoy the ins-and-outs of public policy development and the messy, though always fasci­nating, politics that accom­pany it. I went to college at the George Washington University in Washing­ton, D.C. to be a witness at the (Reagan) Revolu­tion and see where I might contribute. Twenty years later I’m still engag­ing in dorm room-style bull sessions, only now I do it with the media and with those who can actually make those ideas a real­ity. It’s a cliché because it’s true; do what you love and you’ll never “work at a job” again.

Any other advice or thoughts?

I’ve come to realize that those who believe “the political is per­sonal” are the ones who make life frustrating. On the Right and Left, the people who conflate the two are usually the most extreme, un­persuasive and, on a personal level, the most angry and unhappy. My encounter with colon cancer, radiation treat­ments and chemotherapy in 2006 taught me that what happens in politics is not nearly as im­portant as what happens in your home and with your family and friends. The challenge is to stay en­gaged with our political and civic institutions so “the political is personal” crowd doesn’t monopolize the debate.

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: "America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War" by William J. Bennett

America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War is Bill Bennett’s first installment of a journey through the first 500 or so years of American history. The work is unabashedly and refreshingly pro-American, no Zinn-ister indictments here; though the darker aspects of our heritage are not whitewashed.

Those familiar with the American Story will find interesting perspectives on supposedly long-settled historical conclusions. One such revision concerns our eighteenth president, Ulysses S. Grant. The Bennett’s portrait of the Union War Hero turned commander-in-chief is rather positive, if you set aside the scandals that rocked his administration. You learn that those scandals were more “Republican” or “Congressional” or “Establishment” scandals rather than “Grant” scandals. Grant was never seriously linked to them personally. They would have happened in some form or another with or without him in the White House. Likely, a less honorable president would have made them worse. Grant’s legacy ought to highlight his lonely efforts to support the freed slaves against white Southern reaction. I’ll be searching for a good revisionist biography of Grant’s post Civil War career to read.

It’s a longish book at 592 pages. I also own it’s companion volume which picks up where this one ends, on the eve of American entry into World War I, and concludes with victory in the Cold War (I think, haven’t read it yet, so I'm not sure.) The second book comes in at 608 pages. That’s 1,200 pages between them… far too much for me to tackle back-to-back and remain sane. I’m reading a non-U.S. history book next.

I have a nice Bill Bennett shelf developing in my personal library, the two America books plus The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey and Our Sacred Honor: The Stories, Letters, Songs, Poems, Speeches, and Hymns that Gave Birth to Our Nation. All are a must to have on hand.

One criticism is not entirely fair; it’s too general and fails to burrow down into some of the more interesting vignettes Bennett ably summarizes. But, as with the Grant experience recounted above, it does offer the reader a fine survey and reminder of subjects worthy of further study.

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: "Beowulf" Just Average, IMAX Presentation A Must See

The wall-to-wall CGI version of the Old English epic "Beowulf" is an important movie, not because of the acting or even the Angelina Jolie faux-nude scene but because of the 3-D IMAX presentation that really took a mediocre and eminently forgettable flick and kicked it up to a new level. This movie will be looked back on as a turning point in the advance of 3-D in movies. To compete with the advances in HD, movie theaters will need to further differentiate themselves from the home theater experience. “Beowulf” offers one possible course for Hollywood to take to survive and thrive. Don’t wait for DVD, don’t see it at a “normal” theater. See it on 3-D IMAX only.

Look: 10 (for 3-D IMAX version)

Story: 6.5

Acting: 6

Goal: 9

Intangibles: 9

Overall: 8

Monday, December 17, 2007

That's "Capitalist Running Dog" Not "Communist" You Fool

Comrade Quinlan, head of the Arizona Communist Party, fresh from the field.

According to the Yellow Sheet Report on Monday, December 17, 2007:
[Arizona State Representative Russell] Pearce told our reporter he calls [Farrell] Quinlan "the head of the Communist Party" in Arizona.

The comments were not a surprise to Quinlan, who says he butted heads with Pearce for years while working at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"I don't take a backseat to anybody when it comes to my Republican credentials," Quinlan said.

He currently serves as a PC in LD-20 and used to work for the national GOP in D.C.
– end of report –