bureaucracybusters

GIVING ADVICE SAFELY—THE MACHIAVELLI WAY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2018 at 12:15 am

Ask the average person, “What do you think of Niccolo Machiavelli?” and he’s likely to say: “The devil.” 

In fact, “The Old Nick” became an English term used to describe Satan and slander Machiavelli at the same time.

Niccolo Machiavelli

The truth, however, is more complex. Machiavelli was a passionate Republican, who spent most of his adult life in the service of his beloved city-state, Florence.

The years he spent as a diplomat were tumultuous ones for Italy—with men like Pope Julius II and Caesare Borgia vying for power and plunging Italy into one bloodbath after another. 

Florence, for all its wealth, lacked a strong army, and thus lay at the mercy of powerful enemies, such as Borgia. Machiavelli often had to use his wits to keep them at bay.

Machiavelli is best-known for his writing of The Prince, a pamphlet on the arts of gaining and holding power. Its admirers have included Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.

But his longer and more thoughtful work is The Discourses, in which he offers advice on how to maintain liberty within a republic. Among its admirers were many of the men who framed the Constitution of the United States.

Most people believe that Machiavelli advocated evil for its own sake.

Not so. Rather, he recognized that sometimes there is no perfect—or perfectly good—solution to a problem. 

Sometimes it’s necessary to take stern—even brutal—action to stop an evil (such as a riot) before it becomes widespread:

“A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good.  And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.”

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His counsel remains as relevant today as it did during his lifetime (1469 – 1527). This is especially  true for politicians—and students of political science.

But plenty of ordinary citizens can also benefit from the advice he has to offer—such as those in business who are asked to give advice to more powerful superiors.

Machiavelli warns there is danger in urging rulers to take a particular course of action:  

“For men only judge of matters by the result, all the blame of failure is charged upon him who first advised it, while in case of success he receives commendations. But the reward never equals the punishment.”

This puts would-be counselors in a difficult position: “If they do not advise what seems to them for the good of the republic or the prince, regardless of the consequences to themselves, then they fail to do their duty.  

“And if they do advise it, then it is at the risk of their position and their lives, for all men are blind in thus, that they judge of good or evil counsels only by the results.”

Thus, Machiavelli warns that an adviser should “take things moderately, and not to undertake to advocate any enterprise with too much zeal, but to give one’s advice calmly and modestly.”

The person who asked for the advice may follow it, or not, as of his own choice, and not because he was led or forced into it by the adviser.

Above all, the adviser must avoid the danger of urging a course of action that runs “contrary to the wishes of the many.  

“For the danger arises when your advice has caused the many to be contravened. In that case, when the result is unfortunate, they all concur in your destruction.”

Or, as President John F. Kennedy famously said after the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April, 1961: “Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

John F. Kennedy

By “not advocating any enterprise with too much zeal,” the adviser gains two advantages:

“The first is, you avoid all danger.

“And the second consists in the great credit which you will have if, after having modestly advised a certain course, your counsel is rejected, and the adoption of a different course results unfortunately.”

Finally, the time to give advice is before a catastrophe occurs, not after. Machiavelli gives a vivid example of what can happen if this rule is ignored.

King Perseus of Macedon had gone to war with Paulus Aemilius—and suffered a humiliating defeat. Fleeing the battlefield with a handful of his men, he later bewailed the disaster that had overtaken him.

Suddenly, one of his lieutenants began to lecture Perseus on the many errors he had committed, which had led to his ruin.

“Traitor,” raged the king, turning upon him, “you have waited until now to tell me all this, when there is no longer any time to remedy it—” And Perseus slew him with his own hands.

Niccolo Machiavelli sums up the lesson as this:

“Thus was this man punished for having been silent when he should have spoken, and for having spoken when he should have been silent.”

Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.

A TALE OF TWO DEFECTORS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 16, 2018 at 12:03 am
“Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me.”
—“1984,” by George Orwell.

 

Less than three months after moving into the White House, Omarosa Manigault married John Allen Newman, the senior pastor at The Sanctuary at Mt. Calvary, a church in Jacksonville, Florida. 

The wedding, on April 8, 2017, was at Donald Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Afterwards, in full bridal attire, Omarosa took her 39-member bridal party to the White House for an extended photo shoot.

According to Politico, White House senior aides and security officials were caught by surprise. Omarosa hadn’t alerted them in advance. Her visitors “loudly wandered around” the Rose Garden and West Wing. 

White House officials, citing ethics and security concerns, banned Manigault-Newman from posting the photographs online. 

Omarosa Manigault by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Omarosa Manigault-Newman Gage Skidmore photo

On December 13, Omarosa learned that she would be leaving the White House—and her $180,000-a-year position as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. Her last day would be January 20, 2018—one year from the day she had arrived. 

She asked Ivanka Trump to intervene on her behalf, but the First Daughter refused.

Deciding to go right to the top, she headed for the Trumps’ private quarters. There she tripped an alarm—which brought guards and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to the scene.

An enraged Kelly ordered her ejected from the White House.

Multiple sources report that she had to be physically restrained and escorted—cursing and screaming—from the Executive Mansion. 

Next day—December 14—Manigault-Newman appeared on “Good Morning America.”

The woman who had been Trump’s ambassador to blacks now sang a different tune: 

“I have seen things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.” 

On August 8, 2018, news broke that Omarosa had secretly taped Trump during several phone conversations in the White House. And that she would use these recordings to promote an upcoming—and highly critical—book on the President.

Its title: Unhinged.  

It would be released on August 14.  

Omarosa has since launched her book tour blasting Trump as a racist, a misogynist and in mental decline.

On Trump as a racist: Interviewed on The PBS Newshour, she said: “One of the most dramatic scenes in Unhinged where I talk about taking him to task for the birther movement.” 

Since 2011, Trump slandered President Barack Obama as born in Kenya—instead of his native Hawaii. The purpose: To de-legitimize Obama as a lawful President. 

But Omarosa said nothing about this at the time.

On Trump as a misogynist: In an Associated Press interview, she claims she saw Trump behaving “like a dog off the leash” at numerous events he attended without his wife, Melania Trump. 

During the 2016 campaign, at least 12 women publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment. A noteworthy moment: The infamous “grab-’em-by-the-pussy” Access Hollywood tape released just before the election.

But this didn’t enrage Omarosa at the time.

On Trump’s mental decline: On the PBS Newshour: “We’re in the White House and Donald Trump couldn’t remember basic words or phrases. He couldn’t read the legislation that was put in front of him.” 

During the 2016 campaign, numerous journalists commented on Trump’s short attention span, limited vocabulary and obvious inability to absorb large amounts of information. 

But this came as a surprise to Omarosa only in 2017.

* * * * *

As the Third Reich reached its fiery end, Adolf Hitler sought to punish the German people for being “unworthy” of his “genius”—and losing the war he had started.

His attitude was: “If I can’t rule Germany, then there won’t be a Germany.”

In his infamous “Nero Order,” he decreed the destruction of everything still remaining—industries, ships, harbors, communications, roads, mines, bridges, stores, utility plants, food stuffs.

Fortunately for Germany, one man—Albert Speer—finally broke ranks with his Fuehrer.

Albert Speer

Risking death, he refused to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. Even more important, he mounted a successful effort to block such destruction or persuade influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

As a result, those targets slated for destruction were spared.

Since Donald Trump became President, he has

  • Fervently embraced America’s most dangerous foe—Russia—and alienated most of its longtime allies, such as Canada and Great Britain.
  • Attacked America’s Intelligence agencies—while backing Vladimir Putin’s claim that he didn’t subvert the 2016 election. 
  • Gutted protections for consumers and the environment. 
  • Supported racists like the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party—while attacking black football players for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
  • Called reporters “the enemy of the people” and encouraged violence against them.

Omarosa Manigault-Newman had a front-row seat to all of this infamy. Yet she didn’t leave or even protest until she was forcibly booted from the White House.

Unlike Albert Speer, she risks nothing by opposing Trump and expects to enrich herself via book sales.

America still awaits its own Albert Speer to come forward and save its liberties from a racist, vindictive and treasonous President installed by American Fascists and KGB computer-hackers.

A TALE OF TWO DEFECTORS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 15, 2018 at 12:03 am

On March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants were to be destroyed.

If implemented, it would deprive the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war.

Now living in a bunker 50 feet below bomb-shattered Berlin, Hitler gave full vent to his most destructive impulses.

Adolf Hitler addressing boy soldiers as the Third Reich crumbles

“If the war is lost,” Hitler told Albert Speer, his Minister of Armaments, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue even a most primitive existence.

“On the contrary, it will be better to destroy these things ourselves, because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation.

“Besides, those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

Speer argued in vain that there must be a future for the German people. But Hitler refused to back down. He gave Speer 24 hours to reconsider his opposition to the order.

The next day, Speer told Hitler: “My Fuhrer, I stand unconditionally behind you!”

“Then all is well,” said Hitler, suddenly with tears in his eyes.

“If I stand unreservedly behind you,” said Speer, “then you must entrust me rather than the Gauleiters [district Party leaders serving as provincial governors] with the implementation of your decree.”

Filled with gratitude, Hitler signed the decree Speer had thoughtfully prepared before their fateful meeting.

By doing so, Hitler unintentionally gave Speer the power to thwart his “scorched earth” decree.

Speer had been the closest thing to a friend in Hitler’s life. Trained as an architect, he had joined the Nazi Party in 1931.

He met Hitler in 1933, when he presented the Fuhrer with architectural designs for the Nuremberg Rally scheduled for that year.

Albert Speer and Adolf Hitler pouring over architectural plans

From then on, Speer became Hitler’s “genius architect” assigned to create buildings meant to last for a thousand years.

In 1943, Hitler appointed him Minister of Armaments, charged with revitalizing the German war effort.

Nevertheless, Speer now crisscrossed Germany, persuading military leaders and district governors to not destroy the vital facilities that would be needed after the war.

“No other senior National Socialist could have done the job,” writes Randall Hanson, author of Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie.

“Speer was one of the very few people in the Reich—perhaps even the only one—with such power to influence actors’ willingness/unwillingness to destroy.”

Despite his later conviction for war crimes at Nuremberg, Speer never regretted his efforts to save Germany from total destruction at the hands of Adolf Hitler.

Fast-forward to August, 2018, and the White House of President Donald J. Trump.

Omarosa Manigault furiously defended Donald Trump throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign. 

In an interview with Frontline, she boasted: “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him.” 

Manigault didn’t care that she had no base or credibility within the back community—or that blacks regarded Trump so poorly: “My reality is that I’m surrounded by people who want to see Donald Trump as the next President of the United States who are African-American.”

On January 20, 2017, she entered the White House with Trump as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

This wasn’t her first tenure at the Executive Mansion. During the Clinton administration she held four jobs in two years—and was thoroughly disliked in all of them.

“She was asked to leave [her last job] as quickly as possible, she was so disruptive,” said Cheryl Shavers, the former Under Secretary for Technology at the Commerce Department. “One woman wanted to slug her.” 

And in her work at the Trump White House, she made herself just as unpopular as she had in the Clinton one.

In her first press interview, she announced that she was a “Trumplican” and had switched her political affiliation to the Republican Party. She said Democrats took black voters for granted and  hoped blacks would leave the Democratic party.

In June, 2017, she invited the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to visit the White House. And she signed the invitation: “The Honorable Omarosa Manigault.”  

This is not a title given to political aides. And it’s not used by those referring to themselves. The arrogance offended some members of the Caucus, which declined the invitation. 

In August, she appeared at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans. She was a panelist on a discussion about losing loved ones to violence.

When the moderator, Ed Gordon, asked her about Trump’s policies and not her personal history with losing family members through violence, Manigault got into a shouting match with him.  

“Omarosa Manigault and Ed Gordon are literally arguing on stage right now. This is insane,” tweeted Yamiche Alcindor, the PBS Newshour White House correspondent.

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