bureaucracybusters

THREATS PAST AND FUTURE

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 22, 2017 at 12:31 am

Robert Payne, author of the bestselling biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (1973), described Hitler’s “negotiating” style thusly: 

“He was incapable of bargaining. He was like a man who goes up to a fruit peddler and threatens to blow his brains out if he does not sell his applies at the lowest possible price.”

What was true for Adolf Hitler was equally true for Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican nominee for President of the United States.  

Trump’s vindictive streak was evident on October 9, 2016p, during his second Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation–there has never been so many lies and so much deception.”  

This played well with Trump’s essentially Fascistic followers, but even conservatives like political columnist Charles Krauthammer disagreed with it:

“I’m one of those who thinks there was a miscarriage of justice in not indicting her. But the problem here is the pattern from Trump. 

“He has spoken about using the powers of the government to go after other opponents like the publisher of The Washington Post 

“Do we want to invest in him all the powers of the government if he acts where he seems to want to carry out vendettas?” 

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Charles Krauthammer

But making threats against anyone who has dared to cross him or has merely roused his ire is a longtime Trump characteristic.  

In 2010, Tarla Makaeff, a former customer of Trump’s real-estate seminar business, filed a fraud lawsuit against now-defunct Trump University.  

Trump retaliated by filing a defamation suit against her. The case was dismissed by a judge. But Trump continued to attack her during his Presidential candidacy.  

During a campaign rally he assailed her as a “horrible, horrible witness,” and then posted on Twitter that she was “Disgraceful!”  

Makaeff ultimately persuaded the judge presiding over the Trump University case to let her remove her name as a plaintiff.  

Trump has long employed a series of hardball tactics against anyone who threatens his ego:

  • Countersuits, threats and personal insults against outsiders; and
  • Stringent confidentiality agreements against employees, business partners, his former spouses and now his campaign staffers.  

As an authoritarian who demands the right to craft his own image. Trump furiously denies others the right to dissent from it.  

In February, 2016, Trump said that he was “gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”  

After the New York Times published pages from his 1995 tax return, Trump tweeted that his lawyers “want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”   

Trump is a master of “dog whistle” threats. On August 9, 2016, he falsely told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary [Clinton] wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment.  

“If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” 

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Hillary Clinton

“Don’t treat this as a political misstep,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, who has called for stiffer gun laws, wrote on Twitter. “It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”  

Trump–and his apologists–claimed he was simply “joking.”  

But Trump was not done with making threats against Hillary Clinton–and her husband, Bill. 

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Donald Trump

On October 7, 2016, The Washington Post leaked a video of Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women (“I don’t even wait. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”).

The remarks came during a 2005 exchange with Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood.

The admissions ignited a firestorm against Trump, even among many Republicans.

Rather than accept responsibility for his actions, Trump blamed the Clintons–who had nothing to do with the release.

Speaking before a rally in Pennsylvania on October 10, Trump threatened: “If they wanna release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things. There are so many of them, folks.”

Since being elected President, Trump has continued to lash out at a wide range of people, organizations and even countries.

Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, offered a still-timely warning to those inclined to gratuitously hand out insults and threats:

“I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one.

“For neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy–but the one makes him more cautions, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.”

And for those who expect Trump to stop constantly picking fights, Machiavelli has an equally stern warning:

“No man can be found so prudent as to be able to [adopt his mode of operating to changing circumstances] either because he cannot deviate from that to which his nature disposes him, or else because, having always prospered by walking in one path, he cannot persuade himself that it is well to leave it….”

CAPTAIN QUEEG AS PRESIDENT: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 21, 2017 at 12:04 am

It was February 16–and Trump’s first press conference as President.

Like the climatic showdown in The Caine Mutiny, it offered an unhinged rant, full of anger, personal attacks, self-pity and self-glorification.

But the man doing the ranting was not Captain Philip Francis Queeg. It was President Donald J. Trump, speaking from the East Room of the White House.

He opened casually: “Thank you very much. I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta….”

For the next hour and 15 minutes, Trump let raw emotion do his talking.

Among the highlights:

His hates the press:  “….The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it to find out what is going on, because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

He won “bigly” in the Electoral College: “I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes. They said there’s no way to get 222. 230 is impossible. 270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306, because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before. So that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”

[Actually, it wasn’t. He got a smaller share of the Electoral College votes–56.88%  than former presidents George H. W. Bush–79.18%; Bill Clinton–68.77% in 1992; and 70.45% in 1996; and Barack Obama–67.84% in 2008; and 61.71% in 2012.

[No other President had ever felt it necessary to brag about his Electoral College victory. And Trump didn’t mention that he lost the popular vote–with Hillary Clinton getting almost 2.9 million more votes than he did.]

He ignored the turmoil in his month-old administration:  “I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved, and they’re outstanding people.”

[His National Security Adviser, Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was forced to resign after 24 days. 

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[The reason: The media reported that Flynn had misled the vice president and other White House colleagues about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

[In addition, Trump:

  • Had his executive order banning travel by Muslims to the United States halted by Federal courts;
  • Fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend the ban;
  • Angered the president of Mexico into cancelling a summit meeting;
  • Bragged about the size of his electoral win to Australia’s prime minister, then hung up on him;
  • Authorized a commando raid that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL;
  • Lied that he had been prevented from winning the popular vote by millions of illegal aliens; and
  • Attacked Nordstrom’s department store for dropping the clothing and accessories lines of his daughter, Ivanka.

[In fact, Trump’s Cabinet–with the exception of his pick for Secretary of Labor–had been steamrollered through the Senate by Republicans.]

The press persecutes him: I watch CNN. It’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don’t watch it anymore, because it’s very good….

“You look at your show [CNN Tonight] that goes on at 10 in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings, but the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump. And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth. The hatred coming from other people on your network.”

He’s really a good, misunderstood person: “….I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it is true. Over a course of time, I will make mistakes and you will write badly, and I am OK with that. But I am not OK when it is fake….

“I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things. And I’ll tell you what else I see, I see tone….The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such–I do get good ratings. You have to admit that.”

His campaign never colluded with Russian Intelligence: “Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It [was] — it’s a joke. … Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media.”

[Several of Trump’s high-level advisers were in constant communication during the campaign with Russian Intelligence agents. These contacts are now being investigated by the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency.]

* * * * *

By the end of The Caine Mutiny, Stephen Maryk is acquitted of mutiny. Captain Queeg is presumably relieved of future commands.

By the end of President Trump’s bizarre and frightening press conference, there is no telling what lies ahead for the United States–or the world.

CAPTAIN QUEEG AS PRESIDENT: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 20, 2017 at 12:03 am

Watching President Donald Trump’s first press conference, some viewers might have flashed back to the climatic scene in the 1954 movie, The Caine Mutiny.

Based on Herman Wouk’s bestselling novel, it centers on the minesweeper USS Caine. Stationed in the Pacific during World War II, its captain is by-the-book Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart).

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Queeg is determined to bring a sense of discipline to the ship’s lax seamen. But he can’t admit mistakes, and his bullying approach to command alienates both officers and crew.

Soon after, a typhoon overtakes the Caine. Queeg becomes paralyzed with fear. His executive officer, Steve Maryk (Van Johnson), relieves the captain of command to prevent the loss of the ship. Maryk turns the Caine into the wind and rides out the storm.

Maryk is tried by court-martial for mutiny. His case looks hopeless: Queeg has been found sane by three Navy psychiatrists.

Naval Prosecutor Lt. Commander John Challee depicts Maryk as a reckless mutineer. And Queeg portrays himself as the persecuted victim of a malignant conspiracy by his own officers.

Knowing that Queeg reacts badly to stress, Maryk’s attorney, Lt. Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer) relentlessly cross-examines him:

GREENWALD:  Did you steam over your tow line?

QUEEG: I’m happy to dispose of this particular slander. When we were towing the target, I saw some anti-aircraft bursts. I turned to avoid them. My unreliable helmsman failed to warn me about that. But I saw it and reversed course. We didn’t steam over the tow line.

GREENWALD:  Did nothing else distract you?

QUEEG: Not that I recall.

GREENWALD: Weren’t you reprimanding a seaman for having his shirt-tail out while the ship turned?

QUEEG: That only took two seconds.

GREENWALD:  Were all your officers disloyal?

QUEEG:  I didn’t say that. Only some were disloyal.

GREENWALD: Mr Keith and Mr Maryk?

QUEEG:  Yes.

GREENWALD: Did you turn your ship upside down searching for a phantom key?

QUEEG:   I don’t know what lies have been sworn to here, but a key definitely did exist.

PROSECUTOR LT. COMMANDER JOHN CHALLEE: The witness is understandably agitated. I request a recess.

QUEEG:  I don’t want a recess. I’ll answer all questions right here and now.

GREENWALD:  Did you conduct such a search?

QUEEG:  Yes, I did.  My disloyal officers failed me, and the key couldn’t be found.

GREENWALD:  Wasn’t this whole fuss over a quart of strawberries?

QUEEG:  The pilfering of food in large amounts or small is a very serious occurrence on board a ship.

GREENWALD:  You were told that the mess boys ate the berries. There was no key.

QUEEG: The key was not imaginary. I don’t know anything about mess boys eating strawberries.

GREENWALD: Have you no recollection of a conversation with Ensign Harding? Didn’t he tell you that the mess boys ate the strawberries?

QUEEG: I remember he was grateful for his transfer. His wife was ill in the States.

GREENWALD:  Do you know where Ensign Harding is now? He’s in San Diego. He can be flown up here in three hours if necessary. Would it serve any useful purpose to have him testify?

QUEEG:  Now, there’s no need for that.

[He reaches into the pocket of his Navy coat and removes two little steel balls, which he rolls together whenever he feels under stress. He starts rolling them together now and continues to do so throughout the rest of the proceeding.]

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Now that I recall, he might have said something about mess boys. I questioned many men, and Harding was not the most reliable officer.

GREENWALD: The defense has no other recourse than to produce Ensign Harding.

QUEEG:  Now, there’s no need for that. I know exactly what he’ll tell you–lies. He was no different from any other officer in the wardroom. They were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn. If the crew wanted to walk around with their shirt-tails out, let them. Take the tow line–defective equipment.

But they began spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles. And then “Old Yellowstain.” I was to blame for Maryk’s incompetence and poor seamonship. Lt. Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Queeg.

But the strawberries, ah, that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes. But I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt and with geometric logic that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. I could have produced that key if they hadn’t pulled the Caine out of action. I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer.

Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory. If I’ve left anything out, just ask me specific questions and I’ll be glad to answer them one by one.

[The courtroom falls silent–except for the tinkling of the steel balls that Queeg keeps rolling in his right hand. The judges stare at him as he does so. They say nothing, but it’s clear they know they’re looking at a man at the end of his sanity–and naval career.]

GREENWALD: No further questions, sir.

Maryk is acquitted.

* * * * *

So much for fiction. Now for the terrifying reality.

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