Abuse of Authority

If you are a teacher or professor, you have a legitimate sphere of authority concerning teaching methods, classroom discussion, grades, etc.  But you do not have legitimate authority to focus class time on selling students on your own personal political or social views–still less do you have authority to assign grades based on compliance with those views.

If you are Chairman or CEO of a publicly-traded corporation, you have a legitimate sphere of authority concerning organization design, business strategy, financing, people-selection, and many other things.  But you do not have legitimate authority to devote corporate resources–of which you are not the owner–to promoting your personal political views.

If you are an Intelligence Officer employed by the federal government, then certain things fall within your legitimate sphere of authority.  One thing that does not fall within your legitimate authority is using your position to influence US domestic election outcomes.

The whole concept that spheres of authority are and should be limited seems to be under assault in America today.  Not only do many people reject the idea of any limits on their own authority; many people object to the idea of limits on the authority of institutions. Indeed, here is a law school dean who seems to reject the principle that courts should be constrained by laws.

I also observe that there are plenty of people in leadership positions who, while showing very poor performance in their own jobs, are insistent that people outside their sphere of authority do things to solve their problems…a prime example being governors and mayors who blame  the skyrocketing crime rates in their jurisdictions on lack of (what they consider) proper gun control in adjacent states, when there are plenty of things they could do within their own scopes of authority and influence to address the problem.  Similarly with education–tolerate increasingly-awful performance on the part of the schools and malevolent interference on the part of the teachers unions, while blaming the problem of uneducated graduates entirely on Systemic Racism…so those politicians are off the hook because Somebody Else does something, or some set of things.

Your thoughts?



100 thoughts on “Abuse of Authority”

  1. You’re being quaint. Today’s world is a totalitarian commie one, the state is all and all is the state. The time is running short to stop them.

  2. If there’s an existential threat, everything else takes second place and you have to step up for the fight no matter what your role used to be.

    Your betters have instructed you that Trump is Hitler, systemic racism is lethally ubiquitous, incorrect pronouns are a form of murder, and stay tuned for the rest. Step up to address these dangers, and don’t be the first to stop clapping.

  3. James the Lesser…indeed, there are extreme cases where process should be ignored. For a brief time after the Hitler takeover, the Weimar constitution was still in force…but few of us would see anything morally objectionable if an army officer had launched a coup, totally contrary to the constitution. Similarly with the Russian Provisional Government (Kerensky) at the time of the Bolshevik takeover.

    But such moments are very rare. Edmund Burke: “I confess to you, Sir, I never liked this continual talk of resistance and revolution, or the practice of making the extreme medicine of the constitution its daily bread.” In medicine, there are cases where extreme radiation therapy or chemotherapy is needed, but that doesn’t mean its OK to resort to extreme measures every time someone has a stomachache.

    But today, the Left wants to make basically ALL issues ‘existential’, or at least all issues that they care about.

    Situation is a little different with the mayors and governors, not so much a matter of projecting the apocalypse as a lack of interesting in actual results in favor of political manipulation and the evasion of responsibility.

  4. There might be a case that what we are experiencing is the agent/principal problem.

    A CEO is supposedly an employee, the agent who takes care of business for the principals (the shareholders) who are represented by the Board of Directors. In reality, the BoD is usually a rubber stamp of individuals with no significant financial interest in the company, selected by the CEO. Thus, the CEO acts like he owns the business, and can indulge his passions with the shareholders money. We could fix this by requiring each Director to have a substantial portion of his net worth invested in the company — but getting that law in place would require fixing the dysfunctionality in “democracy”.

    Mayors, even a lot of State & Federal “representatives” also act more like principals than agents. Many are effectively elected in primary elections in which only a trivial portion of the citizen body participates. We could fix that by requiring the winner of a general election to have the affirmative votes of at least 50% of the citizens eligible to vote (not of those who actually vote); if no candidate reaches that mark, the position would be filled for one term by someone chosen randomly from the voter roll. But what politician would vote for that law?

    Just like an addict, we have to hit rock bottom before we will be prepared to make the necessary changes. We will get there, but the process of hitting rock bottom is not going to be fun. The silver lining is that, after that, things will start to improve. Long term optimist!

  5. The big business response has almost certainly been much more muted than it would have been a year ago, before DeSantis punched Disney in the mouth.

  6. I agree that we have a principle/agent problem. I discussed it here, but it has gotten worse.

    We could fix this by requiring each Director to have a substantial portion of his net worth invested in the company

    You would think that the Theranos story would impress some Directors. The Disney experience might do some good but too many corporations are owned by investment funds run by Social Justice Warriors, or at least those who wish to appear as such. “Blackrock,” ironically named like the villainous CIA company in the “Bourne Identity” films, seems to be he worst.

  7. “owned by investment funds run by Social Justice Warriors”…in many cases, the firm is not the outright owner, but merely an aggregator of investor funds…this is true from example with a high % of Vanguard investments.

    It would help if fund manager did not have the power to vote proxies on behalf of their investors.

  8. If crime in Chicago is related to guns from Indiana, why don’t those same guns cause similar crime statistics in Indiana? – asked in a web comment

    Gotta wonder how imported guns become so dangerous after crossing state lines.

    Also about the intelligence of politicians in Chicago. And also the intelligence of voters in Chicago that keep electing the same crew over and over, with the expectation that something will change.

    Boards of Directors kowtow to ‘woke’ social pressure to keep their cocktail party invites flowing, and to avoid any personal responsibility for ‘un-woke’ behavior that they could be blamed for, and who cares about shareholder ROI. They do not serve those who pay(finance) their SIGNIFICANT salary. I’ll take on just about any CEO job at 50% reduction.. maybe two or three at the same time, and likely have the corp do as well or better than the overpaid (in many cases) executives.

  9. tommy: “I’ll take on just about any CEO job at 50% reduction”

    That is something I have often wondered about. A business spending $1 Million on a piece of equipment or a contract will (a) define what they need very carefully; (b) pre-qualify potential suppliers who have the capability to deliver what is required; (c) invite bids from those pre-qualified suppliers; (d) award the contract according to their usual rules — lowest bidder, second-lowest bidder, etc.

    Yet the same business will pay its CEO multi-million dollars based on a recommendation from a consultant hired by … the CEO.

    Why not apply normal commercial practices to hiring & paying senior executives? The obvious answer is because that would not be favorable to the senior executives who control the process. Needless to say, the Board of Directors is absent from the discussion.

  10. tommy…”Boards of Directors kowtow to ‘woke’ social pressure to keep their cocktail party invites flowing, and to avoid any personal responsibility for ‘un-woke’ behavior that they could be blamed for, and who cares about shareholder ROI.”

    I think there’s more to it than that…a lot of companies are very worried that Millennials and younger will not either work for them or be their customers if they don’t project the proper Woke attitudes….someone I know who does consulting for large companies as well as startups remarked that from what he hears from clients, they feel a particular need to be perceived as ‘green’ in Energy terms. And this isn’t totally imaginary, just saw a report from Fortune that 60% of employees (globally) believe CEOs should speak publicly about hot-button issues. I also suspect that many execs are being influenced by the opinions of their own kids, and possibly over-generalizing those. Same with their spouses.

  11. You said it better than I could – and got me thinking.

    You are the only one who has questioned this.

  12. “I also suspect that many execs are being influenced by the opinions of their own kids, and possibly over-generalizing those.”
    And their wives, who want to keep getting invited to fancy dinner parties. The rich and powerful form a very tight social club that polices its members very, very tightly. That’s why it’s so critical that we shatter and scatter the government bureaucracy all around the country. The DC social scene shouldn’t dominate our politics.

  13. One of the Google founders admitted that his wife was very pro-abortion and that influenced his politics. Of course, most of the left’s policies do not significantly affect the CEO class. What used to be called “Noblesse Oblige” is now a form of contempt for those seen as inferiors. Sort of like Affirmative Action.

  14. Every public corporation has a Compensation Committee which is a subset of Board members, CEO comp isn’t just something determined by the CEO and his favorite consultant.

    CEO comp is usually a pretty small part of the overall financial picture of a company…for example, GM revenue for the last 12 months was $117 billion…Chairman/CEO Mary Barra got paid $29 million, of which part was equity and options, which is about 1/45 of 1% of GM revenue. GM net income over the same period was $9.8 billion, so she was paid 1/3 of 1% of the company’s profit.

    Is an annual comp of $10 to $30 million really unreasonable for someone running a major corporation, when considering that plenty of actors are pulling down $20-40 million…sometime much more, when they have negotiated for a % of the film gross?…or athletes, some of whom are at, near, or above $100MM?

  15. Root of the problem? The selection system we use for all of these positions. “They did really well on the tests…”

    Actual comparison of performance vs. prediction with regards to testing would probably shock the hell out of people. There’s a missing feedback loop with all the processes, in that failure has been made an orphan: Nobody owns it.

    Look at government, for examples galore. Nobody fails, ever; failure is rewarded with promotions and bonuses. Has anyone at all paid a price for the murder of an entire stretch of the Colorado River by the EPA? Is anyone in government been held accountable for the homeless problems in our major West Coast cities, the destruction of public life in them?

    The answer to all of that is “No.”

    There is no feedback loop that couples failure with consequence for the vast majority of our elite. Being wrong about the AIDS pandemic wrought what, exactly, for Fauci’s career in government? Did anyone sit in judgment over his actions? Did anyone hold him accountable for the decisions he made, that turned out to be wrong?

    You want to know why everything everywhere is going wrong, all at once? It’s this very issue: It’s not that the people in charge are suddenly incompetent asses, it’s that we’ve been protecting them from the consequences of their follies for generations. Were any of FDR’s minions who willy-nilly destroyed the economy and grew government ever held accountable? How about the ones who sold us out, body and soul, to the Soviets and other Communists? Has there ever been an accounting for the bad decisions that led us into Vietnam, or enabled 9/11? We sat Jamie Gorelick on the f*cking 9/11 Commission itself, for God’s sake, when the woman had rather more to do with enabling that whole fiasco than anyone else in government. After her actions crippling the FBI and Defense Department, she then went on into running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with Eric Holder, and neither of them was ever called to account for allowing the conditions that created the housing bust and recession in 2008.

    Anyone wondering why things are the way they are needs to examine the actual roots of this whole insanity, and then ponder why the hell we tolerate this. The idiots in government and other executive parts of the economy are never held accountable; if you were a plumber hired to fix someone’s sewer drains, and then presented a bill while their basement was still filled with raw sewage, you’d be laughed out of their house while they hired someone else. That same common-sense approach somehow never gets applied to politicians or executives. They go on from folly to folly, never once being held accountable for their stupidity, fecklessness, or mendacity.

    And, you wonder why it’s so prevalent across what is left of our civilization?

  16. Simple test, along the lines of the Gell-Mann Amnesia thesis popularized by Michael Crichton:

    When was the last time you heard an “expert”, or someone high in the approved hierarchy, make a pronouncement on anything, anything at all, that proved to be factually correct, and which actually eventuated?

    I’m pretty hard-pressed to think of much of anything, TBH. Paul Krugman, anyone…?

    The fact that these creatures of the hierarchy are so often as wrong as they are, and that the corresponding “heretics” who say things opposing them prove correct should probably be taken as a sign that we’re doing something very, fundamentally wrong with how we select, train, and place these demonstrated morons into positions of power and authority inside our various hierarchies and organizations.

    When it reaches the point to where you automatically suspect the veracity and actual reality of something that someone in a position of authority says, you have a problem. Not with you, not with the individual in question, but with the organization itself. When your hierarchy starts producing effective dolts in positions of power within it, that just might be a sign that you’re doing organization wrong.

    You know you’re really screwed when nothing happens to these dolts when what they say and do turns out to be precisely the wrong thing to do, and the results are out in the open, undeniable by anyone with a set of eyes and half a functioning brain stem.

    Good God, even the majority of the homeless addicted dregs on the streets of Seattle will tell you that everything that the homeless-industrial complex has been doing is not working. Most will freely admit they don’t want help, don’t want jobs and the responsibilities of living as productive citizens, and are happily consuming your tax dollars as freeloaders.

    Yet, everyone nods along with the incompetent boobs who’ve brought us here, giving them more and more money, more and more power, never holding them accountable for the actual effect and results of their policies and plans.

    Society is collectively insane, if you go by the definition of insanity as being “doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results…”

    That’s pretty much the whole of our executive function, in our society. When has any one of these demonstrated dolts been held accountable? Ever? Mattis was on the board of Theranos; that alone should have been a clear sign that his entire shtick as “smart guy” was a lie. And, has he paid a price, in any way, for having furthered the whole incandescent fraud? Good Christ… I knew lab technicians back in the early days that looked at that whole situation and said “Yeah, that’s gotta be a fraud… There’s no way that could work…”

    Yet, accredited “smart guy” Mattis saw no issues? Wanted to have the Defense Department get onboard with the whole “test a drop of blood” technology? LOL… Yeah, he’s the guy I want in charge. NOT.

    You wonder how Afghanistan got the way it did, and why the withdrawal went to sh*t? Look at who we’re promoting to flag rank, these days. These are not polymaths; they’re not even that smart.

  17. I have no issue with compensation for successful CEOs. What about Disney and Netflix, for example? The people who can run a multibillion dollar corporation are rare individuals and deserve what they make. On the other hand, most of the CEOs of failing companies seem awfully well compensated. If their failure is finally recognized, they usually have a golden parachute waiting. GM is not a very good example of success. “Government Motors” has more to thank Obama than US customers.

  18. The real issue with executive compensation is that the incentives are set improperly; what difference does it make, long-term, if you run your corporation into the ground the way Jeff Immelt did with GE?

    He made billions in the short-term. Where did that leave GE or its stockholders, over the long haul? What did he do for GE’s host nation, the US, aside from sell off key assets to sworn enemies?

    Some of these assholes are positively evil; look at what Coca-Cola has done to the varied and sundry brands it’s bought up and then run into the ground. Anyone remember Odwalla? How about Honest Tea? Coke bought those companies up, ran them into the ground, and then shut them down. Were they actually unprofitable, or was Coke merely eliminating competition for their sugared water crap product? Which, I have to point out, isn’t even that good here in the US. Thanks to HFCS, the American-made Coke product just doesn’t taste the way it should, and most who drink it agree that the natural cane sugar Mexican-made product has better flavor and mouth-feel.

    The people responsible for these decisions? Never held accountable. If you buy up an extremely popular product line like Odwalla, and can’t keep it competitive, that sorta points out to a deeper and more profound dysfunction within your company than anyone really wants to admit to.

    It’s kinda odd that Bolthouse Farms manages to compete in the same space that Odwalla did, and does pretty well at it. It’s also sort of unfortunate that they don’t have Odwalla as a competitor, any more, because they’re damn prices went up almost as soon as Odwalla vanished from the shelves…

    In corporate governance, as in so much else, we’re doing it wrong.

  19. The problem is so much of the “elites” in society have no “skin in the game”–if a CEO destroys a company, so what? If Elon destroys Tesla or SpaceX, it will ruin him. If Tim Cook destroys Apple, so what? He’s still going to be megarich. He didn’t build Apple, and I don’t see any reason to think he’s accomplished much of anything that the company required him for as opposed to any number of other people.
    (As for “Skin In the Game”, that was the title of a great book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who holy cow has gone completely insane in the past two years about covid, he was always obnoxious but something legitimately broke his brain.)

  20. I think the reaction to COVID was a bit of a Rorschach Test for a lot of people; something about it all turned a very specific key in their heads, and bam, they reacted like it was the ‘effing Black Death redux.

    Not that the media didn’t do everything it could to further the whole thing, but the reaction that a lot of these supposedly rational people had to all of this was clearly on the far side of the line betwixt sanity and insanity. Out of all the countries, I think Sweden was the only one that reacted at all sanely; the rest of the ones that went over the edge? Good grief…

    The whole response to the vaccine is another indicator: I can guarantee you that if Trump had remained in office and tried doing what the BidenCo. crew did, making the shots mandatory? Oh, holy schnikes, but the reaction would have been diametrically opposite and probably exponentially worse. The whole thing is indicative of some very mentally unwell people running around.

    It’s also amazing to observe how many people seem to respond to the very positions that Democrats used to hold negatively, when Trump holds them and puts them into effect. Trump’s policies were mainstream and even left-of-mainstream, when Kennedy was espousing them. Biden is on record in multitudinous ways, saying that he was against Roe v. Wade… Yet, everyone who opposes Trump excoriates him for doing and saying things that were Democratic Party planks, a generation ago.

    The whole left side of the political spectrum has had its chees slide off it’s freakin’ cracker in the last thirty years. I saw it begin under Clinton, when most of NOW said they’d love to give him blow jobs, despite the obvious minor (see what I did there?) of him taking sexual advantage of an intern…

    The obvious insanity of our times is palpable; you can’t open a single website covering current events without finding hypocrisy and lunacy in nearly every sentence. It’s almost like living in a simulation where the controllers have been turned up to eleven for “crazy”.

  21. David F: “Every public corporation has a Compensation Committee which is a subset of Board members, CEO comp isn’t just something determined by the CEO and his favorite consultant.”

    Check it out, David. How many of those Board members actually have a significant personal investment in the company? They are mostly well-paid figureheads, selected by the CEO and effectively serving at his pleasure. Then the compensation consultants come in with comparables and the Board members say they want to pay their guy in the top quartile, because their guy is so good. Every company does the same, so the top quartile band moves up year after year. Thus we get to the current situation where CEOs are paid unnecessarily ridiculous amounts of money.

    You mention Mary Barra getting paid $29 Million at GM. The obvious question — is there someone else who would have done that job for $28 Million, or maybe even $27 Million? If GM were buying $29 Million in equipment, they would ask that question. Why not apply capitalist competitive processes to CEOs as well?

  22. In a company as big as GM, it’s impossible to gauge the performance of the CEO short term, with what’s short term amounting to years. That’s how long it takes for the programs started by the predecessor to run to a conclusion and how long to see any results from the new kid’s initiatives. By the time you realize the selection committee has made a horrible mistake, it’ll be years more to fix things, if you have that much time.We’re in the process of finding out if Boeing is going to survive, a process that still has years to run.

    Remember that all the companies that now make up Boeing were once run by well compensated, well regarded executives until they were so decrepit that they couldn’t survive on their own. CEO compensation is a bet or possibly a bribe that whoever receives it will not destroy the company. Oddly, my second or fifth career as a corporate consultant doesn’t seem to be taking off.

  23. at least 20 years, you would think advance in the organization would be the key to the exercise, but you would be wrong,

  24. Kirk…”When was GM last run by a “car guy” or an actual engineer?”

    Mary Barra IS an engineer by training, she graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. (attended while she was working as a co-op student)

    Boeing CEO from 2015-2019, Dennis Muilenburg, is an engineer, with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineer and a masters in the same field.

    Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt wasn’t an engineer, but he did have an undergrad degree in Applied Mathematics. Earlier CEO Jack Welch had a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and a masters and PhD in the same field.

    Engineers in top-level positions aren’t all that rare.

  25. “There is no feedback loop that couples failure with consequence for the vast majority of our elite.”

    There we go, light without heat. ;) This is indeed a serious governmental and societal problem, but it is not at all new. It is in fact ancient and has been the cause of most of the falls of the various civilizations, that have come before our own.

    I sponsor three people on the tube and one is called “The Fall Of Civilizations” and is just some of the best documentary you will ever see, but focused on why the respective civilizations fell. Recommended.

  26. Well functionally GM is run by the AFL-CIO, and Boeing by the Pentagon and Congress. Both of them would have died decades ago in a functioning free market, eclipsed by fresher and more dynamic competitors, but our system is hopelessly corrupted by legacy protection rules, and until that changes we’ll all just scratch our heads why old dinosaurs don’t act like young leopards—the system doesn’t force them to, that’s why.

  27. MCS..true that leadership in large organizations has a long time constants before it can be fully evaluated…this is sometimes the case with small organizations as well, especially in startups where product must be developed, sometimes needs various government approvals, and then introduced to the market, which may or may not like it….there are plenty of startups where you can’t really categorize it as “Succeeded”, “Failed”, or “Meh” in less than 5 years or longer.

    Compensation which has a significant stock and option component is a partial solution to this problem.

  28. David,
    There will always be a lot more ways to fail than succeed. In terms of delayed consequences, I tend to blame the toxic style of Jack Welch for most of GE’s crash, it just took a few years to materialize.

  29. A few more thoughts re my main point in this post:

    –California and its large cities provide an excellent example of entities that is doing quite poorly at things that are largely within their own control (education and crime, for instance), while putting major emphasis on issues that are primarily national or even global.

    –A comment at Jeff Carter’s blog, from a guy with a lot of teaching experience:

    “I also always scrubbed the first four-hour night session and spent it teaching the formation of the country, how our systems worked, the three branches, etc. You know what adult students said to me after every one of these classes? (I taught at night 21 years): Some variation of, “I have never heard or learned any of this before.” No kidding. God’s truth.”


    To the extent that this situation is characteristic of K-12 education in general, it goes a long way in explaining why so many people don’t understand why it is important to maintain the proper roles of Congress, Executive, and Supreme Court…they never learned what those roles actually are.

    –OTOH. to understand why process matters…why it matters *how we decide to do something* matters, not only *what* we decide to do…probably requires a level of abstract thinking capability that not everyone has…and I don’t see any evidence that it is more prevalent among the highly credentialled.

    –Also, the importance of adversary proceedings seems to be increasingly under threat. For example, the left-wing DAs are in many cases not playing their proper role in an adversary proceeding but rather acting as if they were judges or defense attorneys.

  30. RE: The comment from Jeffrey Carter’s substack.

    It feels really right to say that K-12 is failing, and it probably is. However… Personal experience would lead me to ask the question of “Were these students actually exposed to this information, and just didn’t pay attention…?” or was it actually the case that nobody tried teaching them?

    The number of people that don’t pay attention to their schooling until they actually decide they need to? Probably, most of them. They exist in a haze of obliviousness that defies belief or understanding. I remember instructing tasks in the military that were part of the usual progression from classroom to practical exercise to actual “You’re gonna have to do this for yourself with live munitions…”, and I was consistently astounded at how you’d get to that last step where someone could kill themselves or others, and only then would anyone start paying attention or asking questions… Dude, we covered this crap in the classroom. I know we did. How did you not pick this up…? Why are you only now having questions occur to you?

    So… Yeah. Maybe they weren’t exposed to it, or maybe, just maybe… They didn’t pay attention to it until they felt like they needed it.

    I’ve seen the same sh*t with my nieces and nephews. The stuff is in their books, it’s on the syllabus, and they’re asking me questions about it like they’ve never heard of the subject before.

    On the one hand, I have to decry the state of education, these days, but on the other…? Part of the problem is the bloody students.

  31. Another thing going on with regards to the many and manifest failures in governance/business is that up until lately, nobody has been paying attention or really cared about what was going on.

    I don’t think the idiot class that’s floated to the top of the cesspool is going to like what happens in the near and mid-term future, when everyone is going to find it utterly impossible to ignore what they’ve been doing. The scrutiny is going to be murder, and I don’t think they’re going to have a clue how to respond to it.

  32. Duty – to customers, employees and shareholders – seems a lost concept. Doing your duty requires some humility, some self-consciousness (do you really know better than your customers? or what can be done than the employees who work for you?). The importance of duty was lost when accountability disappeared.
    David’s point here -and so many of his – have helped me understand what went wrong in parallel structures to the ones he describes. I think some of it is a kind of romantic, self-absorbed, “feelings” approach to problems that aren’t solved by that – problems that require objectivity, analysis and a grounded common sense. Oh, well, this may not be new but it is certainly time to rediscover it. My grandchildren love logic and math – perhaps their generation will approach the world a bit differently.

  33. I imagine all of Carter’s students were taught basic Civics at some time, in some way. I also imagine that many retained the knowledge just long enough to pass the test before they went on to other things. I’m sure we all have done the same for large swaths of K-12 and beyond but don’t notice because we’ve forgotten.

    I and probably most of you spent our 20’s+ in a sort of a-political state, far too busy with making a living and a life to pay much attention between elections to the nitty-gritty of legislative sausage making and finer points of government administration. Oddly, that often ends when we started to make some money and noticed how much of it was being confiscated and for what, exactly?

    Is the activism of the political minority of 20-somethings now any less grounded in the reality of committees, hearings and motions than the anti-war movement or any of the subsequent or previous passing “existential” issues? It seems the it’s always been; “This is what we want and we want it now!”, it’s up to the “man” to make it happen, or else.

  34. “If you are an Intelligence Officer employed by the federal government, then certain things fall within your legitimate sphere of authority. One thing that does not fall within your legitimate authority is using your position to influence US domestic election outcomes.”

    Unless some piece of information comes to you as part of your duties which would influence a US domestic election outcome.

    Or you are in the position of James Comey in 2016. The FBI was assigned to investigate Clinton’s unauthorized e-mail server. They found irrefutable evidence that Clinton had violated State Department regulations and was liable to criminal charges. Comey was then required to decide whether Clinton should be indicted. (IMO this was improper: the decision should have been made by the Attorney General.) That decision would influence the outcome of the election, one way or another.

    (For the record, I think Comey wimped out and allowed Strzok to water down the report.)

    However, there is no question that it is utterly improper for any government employee to use his official powers to influence an election outcome because he prefers the policies or personality of one side.

  35. Duty and obligation are two things that virtually nobody teaches anywhere in society, at any level. The military says the word an awful lot, but so far as actually defining it and emphasizing it in the process that should be taking place, in order to turn civilian citizens into citizen-soldiers? Vaguely mentioned, never really discussed in any depth or detail. You’re told this thing, “duty” is important, an “Army Value”, but it’s rarely defined or gone over in any real detail. It’s left up to the individual to work out and define for themselves.

    As you might imagine, a lot of people define “duty” as what’s good for them or their almighty “career”. They haven’t been taught, or even told that “duty” has boundaries that end at the edge of “benefits me”. They certainly haven’t been taught that the institution has call on them, and that past that, the nation does. Most of the oaths these days are empty things; you never, ever hear of anyone like Manning being prosecuted for violating the oaths he took anywhere along the processes of enlistment or training. Which Manning would have had to have taken, or he wouldn’t have been in uniform. It’s like the oaths are dead letters, and nobody cares about enforcing them.

    So, yeah… The idea of “duty” is this nebulous thing that hardly anyone bothers to pay attention to. Which feeds into the attitudes of a lot of people like myself, who’d still be living them, except that we’ve noticed that nobody else is taking them seriously, so why should we…?

    Duty, Honor, Country is a null concept, in almost all quarters, these days. It’s all Me, Myself, and Mine.

  36. @Rich Rostrom,

    You’ll look long and hard for any evidence that the concept of political impartiality is anywhere a part of the training that men like Comey underwent in the course of their careers, or that any oaths they might have taken along the way to that effect have ever once been enforced. It’s all lip-service in that regard, all the way down.

    The FBI has been corrupt since the beginning, and a lot of the evidence is right there in front of us. Mueller was head of the regional FBI offices in the Whitey Bulger case, where we know for a fact that the FBI took part in railroading at least 4 innocent men for murder, in order to protect their informant in the mob from being prosecuted for those crimes. Nothing was done about that. Mueller was the guy who let off Isaac Asimov’s son for having the (up to that point) largest digital collection of child pornography ever found. Oddly, his father was based in the Boston area for years and years… Makes you wonder.

    We wonder why our institutions are corrupt in major ways, when we tolerate them to routinely operate corruptly in minor ones. The seeds for the 2016 attacks on Trump were laid back in the 1970s, when creatures like Comey and Mueller were recruited, trained, and promoted by what we now have to acknowledge is an inherently corrupt institution. We also have to acknowledge that the rot has spread through the entire apparatus of government, because it’s everywhere you go looking. What has the EPA done about its employees who killed much of an entire river…? Why, of course: They were promoted and given performance bonuses for that year.

    If you tolerate corruption in the minor details of governance, why should you be surprised when it shows up in the really major and important ways?

    And, here’s a f*cking thought: You wonder why it’s so prevalent? Are you puzzled when it squeezes out everywhere? Allow me to provide some context:


    This is an hour-and-a-half lecture by a retired Army officer, now a professor at USAHEC. In it, he expresses puzzlement at why “lying” is so prevalent in the Army, when it is antiethical to everything that the system tells young officers. Watch the whole thing, and then, if you’re like me and have lived that life, think about the implications: This is a field-grade officer with an expensive degree, who is working for the institution in a training and scholarship capacity, and he’s essentially blind to the entire nature of the beast because he’s been immersed in it for so long that he no longer recognizes the color of the sky in his universe.

    The Army teaches the lie from day one, when they ask you about past drug use or whatever other shibboleth the recruiter has been taught to ask about. They preach “integrity”, and then demonstrate the diametric opposite with nearly everything they do. The really odd thing is how few note the entirely blatant and unsubtle things they routinely do–God help the poor young lieutenant who takes the preaching about being a “good steward of the taxpayer’s dollars” to heart, and protests at taking part in the annual “EXPENDEX” routine, wherein you zero out your ammo stocks by taking your unit allocations out at the end of the fiscal year and using them up with no real training effect. We’ve only been doing that since the founding of the Republic, and it’s become so engrained by now that nobody really recognizes the fact that we’re saying one thing and then doing the diametric opposite in practical demonstrative terms to these young men. If they don’t manage to bifurcate their minds and go along with it, they wind up getting out of the military with utter disrespect for the institution and their seniors. Which is, I hate to say it, totally justified.

    You tell a guy that he has to turn in truthful travel documents in order to be reimbursed for his travel expenses, and then you tell that same young man that he’s supposed to direct his platoon to go fire a hundred thousand rounds of ammo into the side of a hill, in order to ensure that the ammo allocation won’t go down next year, followed by telling him over the course of that year that you’re unable to give him ammo for training because you have to husband it carefully, in case you “need it for something”, only then to tell him to rinse and repeat the following September…?

    Oh, yeah… And you wonder how men like Mattis happen? It’s decades of this mindless, thoughtless BS compounded by driving off all the men who might see through the fog and discern the outlines of your lies.

  37. Did see one case of a VP getting some feedback that required the Fortune 500 company I was working at to let him go.
    Said feedback consisted of being arrested for drunk driving in a car full of hookers, and it made the local headlines.

  38. Just totally theoretically, what if the vice president (of the country, not some company) wires tens of thousands of dollars to his son (who handles all his money) who then sends it to Russian accounts, for, um, female companionship, as well as who knows what else?
    What if that same son receives millions of dollars from Russian and Ukrainian sources, for no obvious legitimate reason?
    Should federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies look into that?
    Or should they only leap into action if a different president starts to ask questions about it, and try to get that president removed from office?

  39. @Frank,

    Yeah, but… Did they fire him for embarrassing the company, or for being a moral degenerate that risked other people’s lives by driving drunk, and utilizing prostitutes who might have been victims of human trafficking?

    Sometimes, the real reasons they fired the guy are more important than the public justifications they mouthed. I ran into that in the Army an awful lot, with the higher authorities. You knew that people were doing things that were wrong, but since they weren’t making a public spectacle of it and getting their names plastered across the front pages of the papers, nobody ever did anything. Once it became public, then everyone above, beside, and below that POS would piously mouth the proper words and finally “do the right thing”. Before that? “Oh, he’s a pistol, he is… A maverick! Love that guy… His parties are so great…”

    Call me cynical, but the time to act isn’t when good ol’ Mikey manages to make the local newsrag, it’s the moment you become aware of what’s going on, even if you’re the only person who knows.

    Once upon a time, my boss got in trouble for marital infidelity. Right, wrong, whatever… I’m not judging his marriage. I had no idea what was going on, myself, because I didn’t socialize with him. However, comma, I later learned that all of the people we worked for knew he was having an affair with one of the civilians working in our headquarters, and when it blew up after he asked his wife for the divorce, she decided to “open things up” by blasting the knowledge of his infidelities across the commander’s bow. Who thereupon “took appropriate action”, despite the fact that he’d have to have known what the hell was going on from almost the beginning.

    Same commander was a guy who just had to be “loved”, and could not pull the trigger on disciplinary actions unless you had a gun to his head. I watched him downgrade disciplinary matters numerous times, and every time he did it it was because he just couldn’t look someone in the eyes, tell them they did wrong, and then hold them accountable for it. He should have slapped my boss’s peepee the minute he recognized that there was something going on between those two, and then maybe the whole issue wouldn’t have progressed as far as it did. Since he didn’t, well… I had a ton of paperwork hit me out of the blue at the worst possible time. Irritating as hell.

    Note that I’m not “passing judgment” on the philanderer, either. I don’t know what was going on in his marriage, and if his wife was what I later heard her described as, maybe he was just looking for love and affection outside a loveless marriage. That said… The correct and proper course of action was not to have an affair outside the bounds of his marriage, but to end said marriage cleanly, and then seek said love and affection appropriately. Anything else is just immoral and lazy… Which isn’t to say I’m some paragon, either–I’ve had my moments of weakness in regards to things, and occasionally even got into trouble for them. Something that I’m more grateful for than when I “got away” with failings that didn’t get noticed, TBH.

    This inability to “call” people on doing wrong is a disease process endemic to our society, and I think it’s about as bad as the opposite, where people delight in tormenting others for their transgressions. It may even be more destructive, but that’s a verdict for the ages to determine.

  40. @Brian,

    Yeah. That.

    Note that the Secret Service had all those “moral” issues under Obama, and now Biden. Fish rots from the head down, and if the security detail sees the boss partying hearty, well… They take their cues from him.

    Trump has got to be the most moral president of our entire history, because if the FBI and Mueller couldn’t find enough dirt on him to legitimately go after him in four years of investigation…? WTF? How clean must he be?

    Scary thought, that: That Trump might actually be the most honest and moral president of my lifetime. The ridiculous crap they impeached him on, twice? I’m still in awe of the simultaneous audacity and mendacity of it all. I’m also in awe of the credulous way Trump went about doing things; if I were him, I’d have had my private sources working up evidentiary packets on every member of Congress, and then simply dropped them on the public via something akin to Wikileaks. Watching the whole government implode afterwards would have been worth it… And, you know there’s dirt out there, or people like Obama wouldn’t be buying estates in Martha’s Vineyard the way they did.

  41. I’d have had my private sources working up evidentiary packets on every member of Congress, and then simply dropped them on the public via something akin to Wikileaks.

    I’ve had roughly the same thoughts, for what it’s worth.

    But I also have to note that this idea is effectively the manner by which the Hunter Biden laptop became known to the public- and we know exactly how that played out.

    That is, democrats didn’t care, republican voters remained outraged about the endless crimes of the left- and some large fraction of the electorate never heard much if anything about it at all.

    I also note that one of the less well know Clinton scandals from the 90s was when it was revealed that somehow they got their hands on over a 1000 confidential FBI files, which supposedly had all sorts of dirt on the various targets. I’ve long thought that this was a great help in avoiding any sort of real consequence for their endless crimes. And that was before the FBI leadership revealed itself to be all-in on being democrat party operatives.

    Blackmail goes a long way in explaining explaining the astonishing political incompetence of the GOP leadership, I think.

  42. and we know how they have handled the founder of wikileaks, back during the original mission impossible film, I thought the scenario was implausibly written, the script had six cooks, they were too creative, first manning then snowden, and the latest company man,
    just walked into the archives like a lending library,

  43. J. Edgar lasted as long as he did because he had the dirt on everyone else, making himself essentially . . . untouchable. A tradition not lost on his epigones down to the smirking weasel Wray.

    Obama got his first break when –somehow– some sealed records regarding an opponent were made public.

  44. that was the second time around, his first big break involved challenging the signatures of all of his opponents, so they fell by the side like quincey,

    true mark felt did the plumbers job, 24/7, he did it so meticulously, that his handiwork was all over the media pennsylvania data heist,

  45. the company had it’s own unit, yet they really did little to stop many of the 1,000 bombings and other incidents that were happening each year in the 70s, much like the speculation about the brigatte rossi, and their apparent ease of movement, in that period, the brigatte were trained in nearby czechoslovakia and east germany,

  46. Hoover blackmailed everyone, then when Nixon tried to replace him with someone from the outside, Hoover’s old number 2 man brought Tricky Dick down. FBI/CIA/Pentagon/etc then spent nearly 50 years trying to make sure no one could threaten them. They got caught with their pants down in 2016 but vowed the day after not to let it happen again…

  47. well that’s not exactly accurate, felt was no 4 in the hierarchy, but by rights like francis urquart, he thought the office was to him, the series bones late in their run, had an interesting theory on what happened to those files, they have rance howard (opies father) as the keeper of the flame, who had smuggled it out and placed in the bureau exhibit in microfilms, crazy probably not as much as real life, as I remarked on his passing, felt brought down the temple on his beloved bureau in a fit of personal pique, the series person of interest had a much more sober depiction of how the panopticon would work,

  48. It will be interesting to watch as they try to keep all the balls in the air once things start caving in around them.

    I don’t see there being a “margin of fraud” this year, or in 2024, as bad as I think things are going to get. I think they’ve miscalculated a lot of things, in terms of what people are willing to put up with.

  49. Trump was so naive in not realizing that the Deep State wanted to destroy him–what was he thinking nominating a Bushie Comey underling to head the FBI, when he knew the entire bureaucracy there wanted him gone?
    DeSantis talks a good game right now, but he seems like an establishment creature–would he have the stones to take on the Deep State? Or is Trump 2: The Revenge the only hope we have?

  50. Xennady said:

    “But I also have to note that this idea is effectively the manner by which the Hunter Biden laptop became known to the public- and we know exactly how that played out.”

    Which is how you know that the whole thing wasn’t “released” by anyone with any clue about the discipline of information operations. In itself, another testament to the veracity of the data…

    I sometimes wonder if Trump wasn’t a put-up job by the Powers that Be. He’s either insanely lucky and simultaneously insanely inept, or the whole thing is a carefully-crafted sleight-of-hand operation meant to distract the people Trump attracted. I really don’t think he planned on winning in 2016, was unprepared for the victory, and had no clue about what was really going on in DC or who his enemies actually were. He “f*cked up and trusted” the establishment GOP, who helped man his administration with all the “incompetent” types who slow-walked everything and worked against him.

    Either that, or he’s been working hand-in-glove with the establishment as a release-valve for the malcontented.

    No matter what, though? The “malcontented masses” are not going to be put off much longer, and they’re going to demand change. What form that takes? No flippin’ idea, but the average Trump voter chose to vote for him as a shot across the establishment’s bow. If they fail to pay attention? Expect for the establishment to get hulled by the next volley…

  51. Like I said, Brian… Trump: Put-up job, or just naive and trusting?

    The establishment types are in the process of utterly discrediting themselves. I suspect that by the time BidenCo. is done, they’re going to be begging for someone, anyone, to come in and take the heat off of them, while they regroup and try to survive. They’re going to be looking for someone to serve as a political anode, and they’ll likely cooperate for at least long enough to get things back on an even keel.

    Or, not. They really aren’t all that bright, the leading lights of our times.

  52. the choices like michael rogers’ who preseeded the benghazi committee, were not much better, we really dodged a bullet first with desantis prevailing over bush factotum, putnam, and then over the down low tweaker gillum,

    it’s really how thread bare their illusions were, there was nothing to the general flynn matter, but a corrupt judge contreras signed off on the plea, the attorney he hired for three years was running in circles, even after sydney powell dredged up the exculpatory information, judge gleeson was put on the trail (his memoir about the gotti case is out now) thats ancient history, and you compare to what whitey bulger was able to get away with, for 20 years, precisely because the bureau meddled in matters hoover was reluctant to

  53. I think Hoover had to be working hand-in-glove with organized crime, in order for so much to have been going on during his time running the FBI. You look at the deals they made with Lucky Luciano over the New York dockyards after the Germans successfully managed to burn the Normandie, and it starts to look really suspicious about collusion.

    Then, too, there’s the whole deal with regards to the Kennedy backstabbing of the organized crime figures that bought JFK the Chicago vote, and how RFK wound up dead the way he did. Not to mention, JFK in Dallas, which has never had a bunch of questions answered by anyone…

  54. yes that was naval intelligence, that had the reach overseas, as well as the oss, they saw mussolini as the greater foe, and hence empowered figures like vito genovese to operate in siciily along with the occupation authority, ho chi minh was an ally against the japanese, hence paul helliwell, (who would later draft the disney charter) made contact with him, the proper analogue in anslinger of the narcotics bureau who tangled with the drug networks and sometimes collaborated,

  55. but you look at another instance from the recent past, part of the SDNYers pirating raids, this concerned Sir Conrad Black of Crossharbour and his Hollinger empire, he was having too much influence in the UK, in his native Canada, and some influence in the US, so Pat Fitzgerald was summoned to follow up some claim, the company was carved up thanks to Breeden, who like the crew in the Godfather carved his properties to the Aspers, the Barkleys, et al, interestingly who was apparently uninvolved were directors like Thompson and Kissinger, they didn’t know nothing and Fitzgerald didn’t

  56. Conrad Black has admitted he was in error in promoting the Iraq War, perhaps greenwald and taibbi were right in retrospect, we’re still there nearly 20 years later, for no good purpose, for the last wile, it was about securing General Suleimani’s puppets, this was Liz’ Cheney’s job for a time, she seems to have made it a hobby out of office,
    Prince Salman (probably because of his complicated family history) seems to be someone who has tried to put back the djinn, his father let loose forty years ago, to fight the Soviets, and look at the treatment he gets

  57. so why were we really in afghanistan, is a question that comes to mind, some chroniclers like wesley morgan of the post says everything there was an al queda cell that popped up, like that of il iklas the egyptian war lord, they pressed further into the korengal valley for instance,
    for the previous ten years we gave up territory won with blood and tears, until we came to the events of 2021, one might wonder why we ventured so far,

  58. I suspect that Prince Salman is taking out the trash that had to have been behind the Saudi involvement in 9/11. Someone in their government gave those 15 hijackers their pristine new passports and vetted them for the State Department, when they had to have been flagged by the Saudis themselves as having been on the Jihadi Trail. That could not possibly have happened without someone in the Saudi government helping them out. I might hypothesize that Prince Salman’s rise to power within the Saudi royal family had a lot to do with an ultimatum from Trump (maybe? Who knows?) that either something was done, or the voluminous files from the 9/11 era would come out detailing Saudi connivance. If you remember, there was a bit of a kerfuffle about the time Trump came into office and that coincided with Prince Salman’s rise and Kashoggi getting it in the neck inside the Saudi embassy. Kashoggi was a well-known bagman for al Qaeda, and if you connect the dots, you can see the outlines…

    The whole idea behind Iraq and Afghanistan should have been the same sort of thing as what the British used to do with the Northwest Frontier and the periodic tribal raids: An extensive punitive expedition that deposed the powers-that-were, followed by a withdrawal. Unfortunately, someone decided to make it about nation-building, and here we are. Iraq really should have been conquered and then turned over to either the Hashemite King of Jordan, or the Saudis. Maybe the Gulf Arabs… Anything but what we did, which was make it available for Iranian taking. Although, TBH, much of the reason we did Saddam down could just as well be applied to the Iranians. I really do not want to know how many of my fellow soldiers were killed at the hands of Iranian agents who provided factory-made EFP warheads to their Iraqi patsies… Suleimani should have been targeted and killed a long, long time ago.

  59. I don’t believe the way they went after Trump could be part of some put-on. They legitimately were scared of him.
    I wish Mike Rogers would speak out about what he knows. He’s the guy who as the head of NSA caught the FBI “contractors” pawing through their databases, froze them out, which forced them to go the FISA route, then he warned Trump after the election that he was being spied on, getting Trump to move his transition out of Trump Tower, and infuriated Barry and his lackeys Brennan and Clapper, who tried to get him immediately fired. Unfortunately it seems clear he wants to save the spy system that’s been built, instead of revealing how it’s already been completely corrupted.

  60. the brits went through three wars and some 60 independent expeditions in afghanistan and the territories, the first one was disastrous, bryden was the only survivor, the second that conan doyle referenced, went a little better,

  61. @Kirk – delayed reply as my retired body thinks it is back working night shift, so I’m sleeping a lot during the day.
    I wasn’t working at that high a level so I can’t be sure what the UFO’s were thinking, but I suspect it was because he embarrassed them.
    When my oldest was stationed at Ft Stewart, he served as the trigger-puller for disciplinary actions because he wasn’t afraid of the heat. Since he wasn’t told to tone it down I’m guessing someone in his chain of command appreciated him.

  62. The thing that used to absolutely enrage me about the discipline thing was that it was always the commanders who talked the most trash about being “stern disciplinarians” who were also the ones who usually went off all half-cocked on the wrong targets, and then schizophrenically turned all soft and forgiving on actual malefactors.

    I would never claim to perfection, or even being more than an average soldier, but… Sweet babbling baby Jesus, some of the people I dealt with and who I had to jump through hoops to get dealt with properly. I spent one tour doing nothing but documenting and then chaptering some very scummy characters because nobody else had ever been able to make the charges stick. Mind-boggling, TBH–And, it wasn’t just the senior officers who were reluctant disciplinarians. I had one guy dead to rights on things that were so egregiously wrong that when I finally pushed his ass out the door, escorting him to the front gate and throwing him out, I had the signal experience of having about three other senior NCOs come up to me and thank me for finally getting rid of that piece of work. He’d been hanging around post for that long–This was late 1995, and he’d been wasting oxygen on that post since before Desert Storm. In actual fact, some of his “issues” actually dated back to before he managed to wriggle his way out of deployment there… And, he’d somehow escaped serious discipline until he hit me and I decided to take him under my wing and either “fix” him or chapter him. He wasn’t working for me for a full week before he’d managed to put an end to any thought of turning him into even an imitation “good soldier” and I set out to document and charge his ass with everything he was doing wrong. The thing was, he’d been getting away with it for so long that he thought he was untouchable, and man… He wasn’t.

    Anyway, I tell you that to tell you “the rest of the story”. About six months into dealing with this character, I’m down to the final lap, and getting ready to finally rid the Army of his parasitical mass. I come in from a training event to find a note telling me that I’m to report to our brigade Sergeant Major ASAP… Which I do. I think I’m going up there to answer some questions about a serious incident report I’d turned in, but… No. I got stood at attention and lectured for about an hour about how I was an unproffessional bigot who was conducting a personal vendetta against an outstanding soldier… Namely, my oxygen thief. The CSM had a phonebook-sized packet documenting this creature’s multitude of sins and omissions of duty, yet he never bothered to review it. He had one session with this assclown on an open-door policy walk-in, and he decided that I, one of his senior NCOs whose promotion he’d overseen, was going after this work of art for personal reasons… It was so out-of-the-blue, I nearly laughed at him in incredulity.

    Unfortunately for that Sergeant Major, and apparently unknown to him, the Executive Officer of the brigade was one of my old company commanders, and he knew I wasn’t the sort of person to do that kind of thing; as well, he’d actually bothered to read the phonebook I submitted documenting everything.

    Even so, the Sergeant Major nearly derailed the process of getting that oxygen thief thrown out of the Army, all because he chose to side with him over documentation and one of his own senior NCOs. What really got me going was that he hadn’t called me in to go over the voluminous packet of documentation, he just took the little asshole’s word for everything and commenced to take his side, chewing my ass for upholding the standards he went onandonandonandon about every time he got a chance to lecture his subordinates…

    Schizoid. That’s the only way I can describe it, and it permeates everything the government and commerce does, these days. “Oh, we want professional standards… In fact, we demand them!!”

    Only problem is, whenever they’re given the opportunity to demonstrate that in action or deed, they won’t do it. Which makes the odds that they’ll get more and more of the behavior they don’t want ever higher and higher.

  63. Conrad Black has admitted he was in error in promoting the Iraq War…

    Hindsight realization that things didn’t go as planned doesn’t make a past decision wrong. Nobody knew then what we know now, yet someone had to decide what to do and what not to do. Even from today’s perspective the decisions don’t seem obviously bad until Obama’s decisions to withdraw from Iraq and throw more resources into Afghanistan.

  64. I don’t know that Operation Iraqi Freedom was really a bad idea, but the execution flatly sucked. Who was to blame for that? Mostly, the civilian leadership.

    Everyone I knew in the military understood that if we were going to succeed in Iraq, it was going to be a fifty-year commitment. It was only the idiots talking to the media that were saying “Oh, yeah… Back home before Xmas…”, and they were all mostly civilian officials and elective office holders. I still have no idea where they got that idea, other than wishful thinking.

  65. DeSantis talks a good game right now, but he seems like an establishment creature–would he have the stones to take on the Deep State? Or is Trump 2: The Revenge the only hope we have?

    Great question that I don’t have an answer for. I guess we will see.

  66. At this point, I don’t even know if Trump is the answer. If his second loop through the amusement park looks like the first…? Might as well not bother with it, ya know?

    We need someone truly Machiavellian and driven for the job of cleaning out the Augean stables that DC has become. Either that, or we back off, nuke it from orbit, and start over fresh in Omaha, Nebraska…

    It’s a sad day when you realize that the best thing that could happen would be for someone like Putin or Xi to just vaporize your seat of government, preferably when all the crooks and scoundrels were in town. Of course, they’d never do that… It’d be about like the Allies deciding to assassinate Hitler; no telling what we’d do without that albatross of an unelected Deep State bureaucracy around our necks.

  67. First remove the money sage of Omaha?
    Abuse of power – guy from one base told me about a SGT that arranged for orgies at an off base house….with strategically placed cameras. His usage of them – you leave me alone and I leave you alone. He didn’t try to run things behind the scenes, just wanted to do his job in peace and quiet. As he wasn’t abusing it, he didn’t get involved in any unfortunate training accidents.

  68. Secondary thought about that – while he solved his own problem(s), enabling that type of behavior is what gives us J. Edgar Hoovers.

  69. I’ve never encountered anyone who “stared into the void” like that and who didn’t wind up with the void staring out of their own eyes, eventually. You embrace corruption in the name of fighting it, and it’ll eventually permeate all that you are.

    Or, so I’ve observed. I could be mistaken, and such a thing is possible. I’m not that guy, however, which is something I’ve known since childhood. I walk the straight and narrow not least because I’m simply incapable of keeping track of the lies necessary not to. I don’t have the knack for immorality, I fear.

  70. Yeah, I was raised with that type of handicap. Your word is your bond, a handshake is as good as a contract signature. All those weird customs of yesteryear.
    It did pay dividends – my dad pulled out the checkbook to pay for something at a store, but there were no checks left in it. He tore out a deposit slip and wrote the pay amount on it and signed it. The store accepted it, and the bank honored it.

  71. Random note seen elsewhere:
    “He doesn’t know I exist, you know.”


    “Then why talk about me? He’ll only think you’re…”

    “​…crazy. Cerebus knows that.”

    “But why would you…”

    “Lord Julius always said that insanity was the last line of defence for the master bureaucrat.”

    “I don’t get it.”

    “It’s hard to get a refund when the salesman is sniffing at your crotch and baying at the moon.”

    “Oh… I get it now.”

    “Insanity is a virtually impregnable gambit… but you have to lay the groundwork early in the game.”

    — Elf and Cerebus, predicting modern foreign policy

  72. “the manner by which the Hunter Biden laptop became known to the public…Which is how you know that the whole thing wasn’t “released” by anyone with any clue about the discipline of information operations”
    Maybe, just maybe, little Hunter kept meticulous records and multiple copies of everything he did, emails, voicemail, videos, etc., and distributed them widely so that The Big Guy and his cronies couldn’t arrange for him to have a convenient accident? I mean it’s most likely he’s just an even stupider than normal crackhead, but I don’t rule out that someone told him he could keel over at any time and no one would care, and he decided he’d rather not be Epstein’ed…

  73. With the Bidens, who knows? It’s not like there’s this vast reservoir of rectitude and competence in his paternal gene pool for him to draw on.

    Show me a politician who goes from “Daddy was a truck driver” to being a multi-millionaire on a government paycheck, and I’ll show you a lifetime of corruption. There’s just no other way.

    You do a forensic audit on Congress, and I guarantee you that a whole lot of the bullshit from the last century is going to suddenly become crystalline-clear. If you squint your eyes, and look at things with a sufficiently suspicious and jaundiced view, most of what has been going on starts to look a lot like a classic organized-crime bustout, wherein a legitimate business is taken over and then run into the ground deliberately, in order to take advantage of its credit ratings and reputation with the community.

    Ain’t saying that’s what has been going on with these United States, but there are an awful lot of disturbing contiguities with the two processes. I think we’re all being taken for a ride by these creepy bastards, and that they have no real idea at all what they’re going to do once it all caves in, or how to deal with the consequences thereof.

    I was having a discussion with someone, recently. The viewpoint they had was about the unfairness of everything back in the “bad old days”, and I was trying to get them to see that the “unfairness” they were perceiving in how things were wasn’t so much some deliberate plot or policy set up by some supposed beneficiaries, but the actuality of “how things worked”. And, they were the way they were for functional reasons, reasons that had not a bit of interest in being “fair” or “unfair” to people; it was just how it was because that was the way it worked, based on the conditions of the time. Nobody got a “fair” deal; it was just that we all look at the grass as having been greener on one side of the fence, when it really was not.

    Societies do things not because someone deliberately sets things up in a given fashion; they fall into those setups because that’s what works, and if it didn’t work, then they’d have done something else, something that did work. Or, they’d have all died.

    We’ve been listening to the immature “Whycan’twe…” types for far too long, and not bothering to think about consequence and accountability for choices.

    Something has gone seriously off the rails with the way we do things, or we wouldn’t be here. The geniuses are noting that there’s something like a f*cking 23% shortfall in Army recruiting this year, and they’re all like “Gee, I wonder why…?” when they’ve alienated the vast majority of the people in this country who actually would serve. This isn’t because there are any fewer patriots out there, it’s because they’ve clearly shifted the institution from being what it was, devoted to national defense, and into some kind of organ of state-supported social engineering. And, nobody wonders why that’s not working; they’re really not even aware that it isn’t.

    Until it all caves in on them. Then, they act all puzzled and confused about causation, blind to the consequences of the choices and decisions they themselves made.

  74. “If you squint your eyes, and look at things with a sufficiently suspicious and jaundiced view, most of what has been going on starts to look a lot like a classic organized-crime bustout, wherein a legitimate business is taken over and then run into the ground deliberately, in order to take advantage of its credit ratings and reputation with the community.”

    I’ve been convinced of this for at least the last ten years, since it became crystal clear to me with Obama – that it’s just like an organized crime syndicate taking over a once well-run and well-thought of business. The competent and ethical in senior management are gradually demoralized and driven to either quit or retire, the less-experienced are forced out or to go along to get along, and eventually the business collapses.

    The word is around the veteran and active-duty social media is that recruiting and retention has cratered over the last year alone, and the powers-that-be in the higher ranks don’t even want to hear why, from those down in the weeds.

  75. }}} I also suspect that many execs are being influenced by the opinions of their own kids, and possibly over-generalizing those. Same with their spouses.

    So you’re saying that the current crop of executives are complete and total pussies… Not surprised. Too many pussy whipped males floating around these days.

    }}} Is an annual comp of $10 to $30 million really unreasonable for someone running a major corporation, when considering that plenty of actors are pulling down $20-40 million…sometime much more, when they have negotiated for a % of the film gross?…or athletes, some of whom are at, near, or above $100MM?

    I’ve argued for this, myself. Particularly when you hear someone whine about a CEO pay @25m, when they don’t have a word to say about Taylor Swift making 80m in a year, and complaining because she isn’t getting paid enough for her music by Spotify. I’ll believe she actually cares about “other artists who get paid less” when she set-asides up to 10m for “underpaid artists” where Spotify matches the amount in question…

    My own complaint about CEO pay is that it is often “What it’s doing right now… not what it will be doing in 5y or so”. That is, a large chunk of the pay should be tied to bonuses based on the revenues/income at the 1,2,3,4,5 year marks from this year. The current system leads to selecting short-term boosts regardless of which have longer term defects.

  76. }}} Kirk: There is no feedback loop that couples failure with consequence for the vast majority of our elite.

    No unsurprisingly, Dr. Sowell long ago beat you to it, and, not unsurprisingly, more succinctly ;-) :

    It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
    — Thomas Sowell —

  77. When you look at what happened to the Russia-which-was, under the Tsar? Same thing: Organized crime took over, ran it into the ground. That’s the Socialist/Communist way; they’re con men at heart, and when in power, turn their talents into robbing everyone else while piously pronouncing doom on the actual productive types, calling them parasites.

    In the end, they all thrive on wishful thinking and the general run of humanity wanting something for nothing. It’s all to easy to believe that the “fat cats” got where they are because they somehow swindled you, and that’s how the Joe Biden’s of the world frame it all, templating their own mindset and behavior on everyone else.

    What people don’t want to acknowledge is that there are a lot of structural reasons that things are “unfair”. Hasn’t got a damn thing to do with you being born female or him being born male; someone has to bear the kids for the next generation, if society is going to continue on into the future. It isn’t an issue of “fair”, it’s an issue of sheer necessity. You can rail all you like about “body autonomy” and not wanting the burden of a child, but the fact remains that in the final analysis, a generation hence? If you don’t have that kid, nobody is going to be there to buy your house to finance your old age care, nobody is even going to be there to perform that care, at any price. These are not artifacts of “fair” or “unfair”; they’re simply facts of life, consequential to decisions and choices made collectively and by the individual, often with heedless lack of comprehension.

  78. OBloodyHell: “… you hear someone whine about a CEO pay @25m, when they don’t have a word to say about Taylor Swift making 80m in a year …”

    Common, on, OBH — there is no comparison. Personally, I have never paid a penny to Taylor Swift — but lots of people (millions, actually) have bought what she produces. She is earning her money the old-fashioned way — from willing customers. I have paid something to Ms. Barra — or rather, she took something off the top of what I paid to the people from whom I actually wanted to buy something. Sort of like 10% for the Big Guy, albeit on a smaller scale.

    I remain struck by the pseudo-Communism within the higher levels of corporate employees — “to each (of us) according to OUR needs”. Why not have competitive bidding for senior jobs? Most companies hire contractors getting minor amounts per hour through competitive bidding. They could do the same for their own highly paid executives. They have the technology!

  79. “Kirk: There is no feedback loop that couples failure with consequence for the vast majority of our elite.

    No unsurprisingly, Dr. Sowell long ago beat you to it, and, not unsurprisingly, more succinctly ;-) :

    It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
    — Thomas Sowell — ”

    Ummm, you do know what “more succinctly” means?

  80. “Conrad Black has admitted he was in error in promoting the Iraq War…”

    A monstrous person and a peer. He went to another of the private schools, in our little set of elite schools. He was an a-hole back then, and is to this day. ;) They sliced and diced him, on “Have I Got News For You”, one of my favourite British TV shows.

  81. in the last century, well the talent pool in late czarist russia was weak, witte and stolypin, the second they killed off, kerensky the good democrat, was foolish enough to hold back kornilov who would have vanquished the bolshevik’s and maybe there would have been some semblase of sanity, although the wars’cost made that unlikely, Lenin put the machinery in motion, but Stalin used it to maximum efficiency, Kruschev a protege of Kaganovich, suppressed local partisan movements like the OUN, then he pretended he was a breath of fresh air, the Brezhnev was the prototypical swamp creature, Andropov was a sleaker yet brutal figure, and Chernenko was Brezhnev redux, and most of the sovietologists of the era, saw this all fine, Gorbachev tried to fix and inherently broken system and the wheels fell apart, Yeltsin messed things up in different ways,

  82. Conrad Black is a brilliant writer although I am less favorable to Roosevelt than he is. His biography of Nixon is also excellent. His successful business was destroyed by a corrupt prosecution for a non-crime in Chicago.

    PenGun, on the other hand, is an internet troll.

  83. yes he does have a certain attachment to populist figures like duplessis, the canadian bete noire for some reason, someone who sincerely believes in western values, we can’t have that,
    the black prosecution reveals another aspect of fitz’s mo, the care and feeding of the actual perpetrator, like richard armitage, the sultan’s main lobbyist, or david radler, who actually committed the fraud he charged black with,

  84. “PenGun, on the other hand, is an internet troll.” Indeed!

    He can write rather well, and his books are pretty good, or so I am told.

    He is a criminal in your country as our country declined to prosecute him. This largely because of differences in our legal systems. There are not many people you can accurately describe as ‘odious’, but he is one. ;)

  85. }}} Ummm, you do know what “more succinctly” means?

    Do YOU?
    “in a concise or verbally brief manner:”

    My quote of his statement did not represent the fullness of the concept, which is why and how Dr. Sowell is more concise and yet verbally brief. His phraseology is far better, more comprehensive, more complete, yet little, if any, longer. hence, “more” succinctly.

    Nice Try, Penny.

    As usual, you fail at your attempted goal, even when it’s being a Grammar Nazi.


  86. }}} Common, on, OBH — there is no comparison. Personally, I have never paid a penny to Taylor Swift — but lots of people (millions, actually) have bought what she produces. She is earning her money the old-fashioned way — from willing customers.

    Uhhh. in case it wasn’t clear, that was not a polemic about any aspect of things. I am noting the disconnect between complaining about HOW MUCH SOMEONE MAKES in one job vs. having nothing to say about how much someone makes in another job which I assert involves less skill and ability.

    Swift makes the money she makes because she is attractive and gets widely promoted by various significant individuals. And I’ll absolutely guarantee you if she came out as voting for Trump her income would evaporate to a fraction of what it is. In other words, while her talent is nontrivial, she makes much of what she makes because of a combination of factors, almost none of which are unique to HER. She could be completely replaced inside of a year or two by any number of individuals.

    The same cannot be said for many corporate execs, jokes to the contrary notwithstanding. I am sure that many can do a better job than any given rando exec, but the skillset to do the job WELL is much higher than that required to make pop songs. Particularly “pop” songs.

    Anyone who disagrees with that last statement should check into the history of the song “Pop Musik” by “M” in the late 70s. He proved, intentionally, that it takes little skill to make a pop song, it is, in fact, largely formulaic to do so. This does not extend to other non-pop music, mind you. And I don’t claim anyone can do it, but it doesn’t require more talent than any average musician has. Being a pop artist is more a confluence of minor talent with a certain minimal degree of attractiveness and the right people behind you.

  87. “she makes much of what she makes because of a combination of factors, almost none of which are unique to HER. She could be completely replaced inside of a year or two by any number of individuals.”
    I don’t think this is right. It’s certainly true that she’s not some freakishly unique talent, but there’s still some sort of IT factor that she’s got. I don’t know what exactly it is, but it’s undeniable. No other artist of the past decade inspires the sort of fan loyalty that she does. You can call it some sort of group hysteria, but you can’t deny it’s real.
    It’d be like arguing that Donald Trump could just be replaced by someone else, but I don’t see anyone else inspiring people to put up flags with their name on it for years and years the way that people do for him.

  88. }}} He was an a-hole back then, and is to this day.

    Ah, the delicious ungrasped taste of irony.

  89. Trying to analyze the success behind various artists in any genre is a fool’s errand; Taylor Swift had a hell of a lot of backing from the “right people” in the industry, she hit at a moment when her work was appreciated, and there you are.

    You want to really lose your mind, try to figure out why it is that some artists “hit” in the US while never making it in Europe, and vice-versa; I’ll never quite get how it was that David Hasselhof got so huge in Germany, and wasn’t even on the screen as a singer here in the US. Then, the opposite was the case for Katrina and Waves, who had a lot of hits in Europe, while virtually nothing of theirs hit the charts here in the US. Another case would be Jennifer Rush, an American who hit the big time in Europe, and did hardly anything on American charts.

    I’m sure you could probably go back and find cases of payola affecting it all, but I suspect that there are things that are well beyond rational analysis going into explaining the popularity of certain artworks at certain times with certain audiences. Look at the popularity of Stephen King; I can’t explain it, at all. I find his work totally uninteresting, but a lot of people see profundities in it. Same with Edgar Bulwer-Lytton: Were you to ask someone from his milieu if his work would “last”, and be read in centuries to come, they’d have likely said “Oh, yes, of course… Amazing author…”. And, of course, today he’s the punch-line in a cartoon, remembered for the line “It was a dark and stormy night…”, as well as having a “bad writing” contest and prize named after him. I doubt that any of his contemporary audience would have seen that coming…

    Hell, explain to me the popularity of Elvis Presley, with some audiences. I knew a guy who was married to a German who virtually had a shrine going to Presley in their home, and who was largely attracted (initially…) to her husband because he’d lived in Memphis, Tennessee, not too far from Graceland. And, given the ages involved, there was no way in hell she’d ever seen Presley live and in concert, because she must have been like seven or eight years old when Presley died… No idea at all how the hell that happened. Her parents and family weren’t Presley enthusiasts, either; she’d discovered him all on her own. Something just resonated with her, and man… Did it resonate.

  90. OBloodyHell: “[Taylor Swift] could be completely replaced inside of a year or two by any number of individuals. The same cannot be said for many corporate execs …”

    Given the generally abysmal performance of Western (and especially US) corporations, admiration for the current occupants of the corner offices is likely misplaced.

    Too many executives have been pretending to be successful by goosing the share price (to benefit their options). They order the corporation to borrow money and use it to buy the corporation’s own stock — a definite Agent/Principal problem. In the meantime, they have failed to invest in manufacturing equipment or R&D — which is why so many Americans drive imported automobiles, use imported electronic equipment, and fly on imported airplanes.

    Opening up executive positions to competitive bidding among pre-qualified applicants might (or might not) improve the desperately low standard of executive performance — but it would certainly save the shareholder owners money by being much, much cheaper.

  91. Or, change the entire model.

    Why do you believe you need executives or executive positions, in the first damn place? Because they’re traditional?

    Take a look at how Morningstar Farms and some other companies operate. Gary Hamel’s writeup on their technique has some interesting insights that are probably applicable just about anywhere:


    What we’re doing isn’t working. Instead of repeating the same mistakes with different people, and expecting different results, why continue on that path?

    I have to acknowledge that the longer I spent stuck in an ossified hierarchy, the less and less respect I had for that way of doing business. Yes, you absolutely need to have direction, and people steering things, but the problem often lies in those people being the precise wrong set of individuals to have “in charge”.

    If the Army were set up along the lines that Morningstar does things, where the actual guys out doing the job are in charge of how they do it and what equipment and hires they make? We’d have been a lot better off in 2003, because the guys like myself whose responsibilities included keeping the lines of communications open would have been empowered to actually procure and train with modern equipment, rather than having to go to war with obsolete training, doctrine, and equipment. Which led to the entire IED campaign “surprise”, which really wasn’t. Because, many of us knew the likelihood of the campaign, and knew precisely what should have been done to prepare for it.

    Now, granted, it’s entirely possible that we could have been wrong, and some of that money spent in preparation might have wound up being wasted, but… Consider the chance that the campaign might never have taken off, if the enemy hadn’t perceived and had that weakness to take advantage of? You present a flank, you offer up a vulnerability that they will take advantage of. If your position is unassailable in any practical terms…? They usually leave you the hell alone. Which is a better option than sacrificing all those lives that we did, I think…

    Of course, we’ll never know.

  92. I live about ten lots away from Elvis’s pre-Graceland house, and only a few miles from Graceland. Elvis Week in August is still drawing the faithful from all over the globe, even young ‘uns. A friend of mine was making fairly good money as a private tour guide to Elvis sites here and in Tupelo.

    I just observe. The ‘why’ is over my pay grade.

  93. All the talk about “replacing” Taylor Swift is just silly. It’s nothing like an org chart with neat boxes for one particular name marked #1. As far as that’s concerned, with streaming, how do you differentiate between people that deliberately seek her out and others that are just listening to a play list where she figures? I’m sure it could be done but I’ll bet it won’t be done.

    On the other hand, it may be entertainment executives that show just how worthless high pay is at delivering results. Every one of these notables is hired on the promise that they, through some special genius, will be able to produce hits with the regularity of a factory producing ball bearings. Some might even get lucky for a while but often it seems that their most ballyhooed personal projects turn into the biggest disasters. When the wunderkind has produced one flop too many and is out on his ear, here comes the next one that has the real secret this time and worth every cent of whatever obscene compensation he’s getting paid, even if he’s a she.

  94. MXS: “here comes the next one that has the real secret this time and worth every cent of whatever obscene compensation he’s getting paid, even if he’s a she.”

    The important distinction there is whether the person is getting a share of the product he sells of is merely getting paid for being on the payroll.

    For example, Paul McCartney has become filthy rich from the royalties of songs he wrote and from the ticket sales bought by people who want to see him perform — and that is great! Dennis Mullenburg was paid many $Millions for sitting in the CEO seat at Boeing while he destroyed value for the company — that is not great.

    If Mullenburg had had to earn his money the same way that McCartney did — well, let’s just say that he would be taking his wife out to Subway for their anniversary dinner.

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