Paglia on Trump: and Fiorina, Oh My

Donald Trump, Jon Stewart (Credit: AP/Richard Drew/Jacquelyn Martin)

In her recent Salon interview, Camille Paglia said this about Donald Trump, and the campaign in general so far:

So far this year, I’m happy with what Trump has done, because he’s totally blown up the media!  All of a sudden, “BOOM!”  That lack of caution and shooting from the hip. He’s not a president, of course. He’s not remotely a president. He has no political skills of any kind. He’s simply an American citizen who is creating his own bully pulpit.  He speaks in the great populist way, in the slangy vernacular.  He takes hits like a comedian–and  to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is!  Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured–that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said!  It’s so startling and entertaining.

It’s as if the stars have suddenly shifted–because we’re getting a mix-up in the other party too, as in that recent disruption of the NetRoots convention, with all that raw emotion and chaos in the air.  To me, it feels very 1960s.  These sudden disruptions, as when the Yippies would appear to do a stunt–like when they invaded Wall Street and threw dollar bills down on the stock exchange and did pig-calls!  I’m enjoying this, but it’s throwing both campaigns off. None of the candidates on either side know how to respond to this kind of wild spontaneity, because we haven’t seen it in so long.

Politics has always been performance art.  So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet.  That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s.  Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read.  But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv!  The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience.  I loved to counterattack!  Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

From Salon, and yes, I going to have more to say about this interview later.

Basically, I agree with her on this (and some other things), she tends to be one of the most satisfying writers around, and this is no exception. Why? Because she thinks!

Trump is doing necessary work, in helping to blow the cover off the Democratic Party and its alliance (or perhaps tryst is a better word) with the old media. But Trump would not be a viable president, even if he got elected, not to mention the fact that he’s been (arguably) a conservative for about five minutes. People change, and most of us have, but usually fairly slowly, and over time. Trump is for Trump, and that’s his entire program. He spent most of his life supporting Democrats, especially the Clintons and is an exemplar of what a crony-capitalist, working through mob connected, corrupt unions can do. That history is not going to save the country.

Now, the other day, Carly Fiorina gave a speech at the Reagan Library. She’s an impressive lady. It’s much too soon to be deciding (for me, at least) on a candidate. but her blend of resume, experience, not excluding foreign affairs, and leadership, and a willingness to talk straight, is very appealing. It’s also low-key and pretty much devoid of histrionics while invoking both Reagan and Thatcher. I particularly like the way she handles questions here.

So, enjoy, and I’d be interested in what you think, as well.



This Is The Worst Thing Ever. And Were All Going To Die.

Heh! Perhaps we need to take a deep breath once in a while. I’m as bad as any of us, for what its worth. We’ll (most of us anyway) likely live through it, we always have.

We have the worst president ever. The worst congress ever. The worst Supreme Court ever. Every event is the most crucial thing to ever happen. Nothing will ever be the same. Government has never been more corrupt. Americans have never been more divided. Women have never been treated worse. The poor have never struggled more. America has, almost certainly, never been in more peril than it is this very second.

“We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation,” claimed Senator Inhofe, the top ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee not long ago. John McCain warns that the “Islamic State is the “biggest threat we’ve ever faced.” More dangerous than the strife experienced during the Civil War. More serious than facing fascism. Scarier than the atomic age. A greater existential threat than communism during the Cold War. That’s chilling, for sure.

So what happens if America fails to engage ISIS in the manner prescribed by these senators? Well, as Lindsey Graham recently noted, the “president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home.”

All of us?

via This Is The Worst Thing Ever. And Were All Going To Die..

Around the Web


I’m going to do sort of a round-up here-my inbox is running over with interesting stuff, most of it worth a post but, when?

First Erik Erickson on the establishment of the republican party and how it may be getting to the end of its line (One can always hope, anyway!)

Here is the most profound insight of the week I can give you — in American politics, if a Republican candidate loses, the media blames it on the candidate being too conservative. If a Republican candidate wins, the media credits the candidate drifting toward the center. The only sure fire loser in American politics is the conservative movement, which is remarkable given the amazing success the conservative movement has had in spite of this.

What we are seeing now on the political landscape is a growing consensus among opinion makers and average voters that Mitt Romney cannot win the election. It is not true. He can, in fact, still win. The election is, in fact, exceeding close. But the Romney campaign is a victim of a perception it itself has helped foster. Like John McCain before him, Romney seems more at ease punching other Republicans than his Democrat opponent. The public is picking up on this and perceive him unwilling or unable to fight for victory. The public is, mentally, beginning to grow weary of this campaign and Romney must work to change perception if he is to win.

Keep that in mind as I make a very simple point. There are a lot of elitist Republicans who have spent several years telling us Mitt Romney was the only electable Republican. Because the opinion makers and news media these elitists hang out with have concluded Romney will not win, the elitists are in full on panic mode. They conspired to shut out others, tear down others, and prop up Romney with the electability argument. He is now not winning against the second coming of Jimmy Carter. They know there will be many conservatives, should Mitt Romney lose, who will not be satisfied until every bridge is burned with these jerks, hopefully with the elitist jerks tied to the bridge as it burns.

Continue reading Before the Rooster Crows | RedState.

8 Kids And A Business brings us an article,a message really on how Christianity changed the world in still another way with our reverence for children, which was a new thing in the world, and as we seem to be reverting to paganism seems in some ways to be disappearing as well

It has been observed that “the characteristic sin of the modern world is hostility to childhood…….. We have come to a point in human history in which “the child has become a problem to be prevented, an enemy to be destroyed, a product to be manufactured, an object of experimentation, a commodity to be sold…..”

Fr. Marco Testa is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto.  As 40 Days for Life begins in many areas, here is his homily defending the least of our brothers and sisters.

Twenty-fifth Sunday Per Annum (B)                                                                                                    September 23, 2012.                     

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” (Mk. 9:37).

In these words of our Lord, we perceive something altogether new.  Our Lord dispels “the authoritarian assumption, so widely held outside Christianity, that the adult is the sole measure of the human. As he grows up, a child does not become a man, a human being; he is that already from the womb…Being human is the whole journey from conception to the last breath… [and] in all that really matters, in faith and hope and love, the child is the teacher of the adult, the father of the man” (John SawardThe Way of the Lamb, p.105).  Both the novelty of these words and their importance are accentuated by what our Lord says elsewhere: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).  This state of spiritual childhood which our Lord enjoins upon us is our fundamental identity as Christians who dare to call God Father.  “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8: 116-17).

Continue reading Whoever Welcomes One Such Child……..

In another sign of the times, Cranmer in commenting on simony in Germany wonders where the next Luther will come from.

According to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, any Roman Catholic – no matter how pious and devout – who refuses to pay the ‘Church tax’ is no longer a member of the Roman Catholic Church: ie, they are excommunicated. His Grace is loath to talk of simony or indulgences, but the extraction of money for the administration of the sacraments or the assurance of salvation simply isn’t very Christian; indeed, it is quite evil

Church giving or tithing ought to be voluntary, from the heart, and with joy (2Cor 9:7). Yet the reality is that around 70 per cent of the German Church’s revenue comes from the Church tax, so it is rather useful for paying the bills (and court fees). But you only need to look at who introduced the tax in Austria to see what a thoroughly bad idea it is. Such an inheritance ought to make the vigorous enforcement on pain of excommunication rather unpalatable to Christians. It would appear that the Roman Catholic Church in Germany is serving Mammon, not God.

His Grace received the following email on this matter from one of his Roman Catholic readers. Speaking of her reaction on hearing about this tax, she wrote: ‘…frankly, as a Catholic, it made me vomit’:

As a lifelong Catholic, I thought there was very little that the Church could still do to horrify me. I watched the betrayals of the spirit of Vatican II. I watched the horrors of the child abuse scandals and the unbelievable behaviour of those that tried to cover them up. I watched the routine crack-downs on anything resembling the intelligent questioning of the Church that is actually required of Catholics by Canon Law but punished severely if practised (ask numerous brave Catholic theologians who were silenced or censored).

Why this latest development should have hit me so hard, I have no idea. Unless it’s for the sheer stupidity that has been displayed.

Continue reading Roman Catholic Church extracts tax on pain of damnation

And finally apparently some of the earliest political writings of Edmund Burke have been found.

The new finds constitute the earliest political writings by Edmund Burke (1729-97), dating from around 1757, when he was 27-years-old, a period often described as the ‘missing years’ of his biography. Professor Richard Bourke, from the School of History at Queen Mary, came across the early essays among a series of notebooks belonging to William Burke, a close friend and distant relation of parliamentarian, Edmund. “No new essays by Edmund Burke have been found since the 1930s, so these chance survivals are significant; offering a glimpse of the means by which a gifted orator grew into a respected political sage,” says Professor Bourke, who found the collection of works during the course of his research in the Sheffield Archives. The newly attributed manuscripts are significant as they hint at the philosophical thinking and intellectual themes that influenced Burke’s subsequent 30-year parliamentary career. The discovery features in the September 2012 edition of The Historical Journal* Professor Bourke adds: “It has always been known that in the middle of the 1750s Burke applied himself to the study of philosophy and history as he pursued a literary career in London. It now emerges that he deliberately sought to deepen his understanding of the contemporary political world through the philosophical lens developed by his forefathers from the age of Enlightenment.”

Read more at:

Happy Linkage


American Recessional

Why that title? Because it seems that America is consciously retreating from our traditional stance in favor of freedom. Terrorist attack our embassy and our government instead of defending itself, and as somebody said the other day, the passengers on United 93 didn’t have a week to make a decisions whether they had enemies aboard, mumbles about how terrible a film no one has seen is.

We no longer acknowledge that we have the right to offend anybody in public, there are now protected classes. In a Orwellian twist a crime becomes worse if it is committed on a protected class and pretty minor if committed on an unprotected class. The following article is from the Daily Beast and details some other problems this administration is causing.

Four years ago John McCain was campaigning on his foreign-policy experience when along came a financial crisis that killed his chances. This time around Mitt Romney has been campaigning on his economic experience. Now along comes a foreign-policy crisis. Will it kill his chances, too? Or can the Republicans finally land a punch on President Obama?


In June 2009 President Obama called for a ‘new beginning between the United States and Muslims.’ (Pete Souza / The WHite House via Corbis)

They really should be able to. Because what is unfolding in the Middle East has the makings of the most perfect storm in American foreign policy since 1979. You may recall what happened then. Another Islamist revolution. Another attack on a U.S. Embassy. Another Democrat in the White House.

This is what Jimmy Carter said in a speech on Feb. 7, 1980, as the Iranian hostage crisis entered its third month: “I have been struck … by the human and moral values which Americans as a people share with Islam. We share, first and foremost, a deep faith in the one Supreme Being. We are all commanded by him to faith, compassion, and justice. We have a common respect and reverence for law … On the basis of both values and interests, the natural relationship between Islam and the United States is one of friendship … We have the deepest respect and reverence for Islam.”

Remind you of anything? Try this: “I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings … Let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”

That was from a speech given by President Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009. Funny how small a difference 30 years make. Same old pious hopes for respect, reverence for law, and tolerance. And, in return, the same disrespect, illegality, and intolerance. The embassy in Tehran then, the consulate in Benghazi now.Here’s what happens to American presidents who look to be loved in the Middle East. In 2008, the year Obama won the presidency with his pledge to end George W. Bush’s wars, 75 percent of Egyptians had an unfavorable opinion of the United States. Today it’s 79 percent. Four years ago, that was the percentage of Jordanians with a negative view of the U.S. Now it’s 86 percent.

“It is much safer to be feared than loved,” Machiavelli teaches us. Today America is neither. Consider the wider ramifications of the Middle Eastern crisis. Revolutions have succeeded, with halfhearted American support, in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Among the beneficiaries have been staunch anti-American organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States continues to give Egypt more than $1 billion a year in aid, roughly the price of the two attack submarines the Egyptians are buying from Germany. The country was once America’s ally. Last week the president conceded it is now neither our enemy nor our friend.

America’s most dependable ally in the region is Israel. Repeatedly this year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pleaded with Obama to draw a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program rather than give a “red light” to preventive military action. Last week the White House declined even to meet with Netanyahu when he visits the United States later this month. Even Haaretz (no fan of Bibi) regards this as a mistake.

Maybe you think George Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a worse mistake, though it gave that country democracy, showed Arabs that dictators can be toppled, and turned an enemy into a potential ally. But consider the consequences of this president’s decision to pull out of Iraq. Two months ago, at least 100 Iraqis perished in a wave of bombings and shootings by al Qaeda in Iraq, which aims to overthrow the Shia-led government of Nuri al-Maliki. Last week the country’s Sunni vice president was sentenced to death. Meanwhile, Kurdistan is acting like an independent state (or, rather, a satellite of Turkey). Iraq is falling apart.

As for Syria, while Obama fiddles, its cities burn in a civil war that could soon eclipse Lebanon’s in the 1980s.

The president who was once a foreign-policy neophyte now makes much of his experience. That claim depends heavily on a program of targeted assassination that liberals would have denounced if it had been pursued by his predecessor.

If Mitt Romney wants to be Barack Obama’s successor, he urgently needs to launch a metaphorical drone strike of his own—against a Mideast policy that is flaming out.

Niall Ferguson: Obama Fiddles as Mideast Burns – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

The End of the Republican Coalition?

We know that the Republican Party resulted from the failure of the Whig Party to maintain its unity across the the Mason-Dixon line along with the growth of Abolitionist sentiments. The early GOP was an amalgamation of Abolitionists and Northern Whigs, it also tended to accumulate the Free-Soilers, and the Know Nothings in the north. Probably others as well but, its not really germane to the discussion today. The GOP was a regional party of the north. There was very little to suggest that it would be a party of small government, the Whigs (including Abraham Lincoln) certainly weren’t. They were the party of protectionism, some would say even mercantilism.  In truth the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson was the party of small government, and little interference.

If you remember this, post Civil War history becomes quite a bit clearer. The democrats had, by default , become the party of secession, and the Confederacy, and thus were pretty much discredited, as a quick look at the presidents between 1860- and 1900 will show,

If you remember the Progressives got their first real convert in Theodore Roosevelt, especially in regard to the dispute in the coal industry. He was a Republican, remember, he formed the Bull Moose party when Taft proved considerably more conservative, essentially he gave the election to Wilson, rather similar to Perot in 1992. TR was a great man and a good President but, he had (like all of us) his weaknesses.

And here is where things change, Wilson was a thoroughgoing Progressive, universal this and that, one world government, giving away American sovereignty and all. He also, it should be noted, resegregated the military, this was the end of the Buffalo Soldiers, from this time till 1948, blacks would be segregated into noncombat roles. This was also the age of Margaret Sanger, and her racist vision of the superior race, which included the extermination of American blacks, and much more. Hitler had nothing on these folks in theory, he just had enough power to try it in practice.

And so it went, back and forth, always with the center moving a bit left on the spectrum.

In 192o, there was a huge recession, the worst since the Revolutionary War. It was caused by, 1. The end of World War I; 2: Monetary Policy; 3: a decline in labor strife and; 4: Deflationary Expectations. A note here: from the end of the Civil War until about 1896 prices had been almost uniformly deflationary as America industrialized but, from 1896 on it had turned mostly inflationary, and remember this was on the gold standard.

Anyway, the governments response is phrased pretty well in Wikipedia:

Some economists and historians argue that the 1921 recession was a necessary market correction, required to engineer the massive realignments required of private business and industry following the end of the War. Historian Thomas Woods argues that President Harding’s laissez-faire economic policies during the 1920-21 recession, combined with a coordinated aggressive policy of rapid government downsizing, had a direct influence (mostly through intentional non-influence) on the rapid and widespread private-sector recovery. Woods argued that, as there existed massive distortions in private markets due to government economic influence related to World War I, an equally massive “correction” to the distortions needed to occur as quickly as possible to realign investment and consumption with the new peace-time economic environment.

It worked so well that most Americans have never heard of the Recession (some say Depression) of 1920. It was over in 18 months and the “Roaring 20’s” was the result.

Compare that to the next one, in 1929, with the malign influence of Keynesian economics and the policies of Hoover and FD Roosevelt, which were both hugely interventionist. It took the combined efforts of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo to get us out of that depression.

So what are we doing now? Of course, more power to the government, screw the people.

What all this got to do with the Republican Party?

I’m noticing in the last week or so that many of us conservatives are getting very tired of the pusillanimous ways of the party in Washington, sometimes called the ‘ruling class’ or the establishment, we used to call them the Rockefeller wing. They are the reason that America has been sliding leftward for the last hundred years. They are every bit as much Statists or even Progressives as Obama himself. They come to us every two years and tell us that we have compromise to get conservatives elected. You know, real conservatives like Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney?  Conservative? I wonder what color the sky is in their universe? Romney’s a good man, a good businessman (as understood in 21st century America, anyway), but conservative he’s not, he’s barely moderate. But perhaps I’m judging him too harshly, people can change. But, I’ll still go with what I’ve learned over the years: “By their works shall ye know them”. If he’s nominated, I’ll vote for him on the theory that it’s better to drive towards a cliff at 30 miles/hour rather than 60.

MarkAmerica has had a lot to say about this in the last few days, I agree with him. My only difference is that I still intend to vote for Romney, for the reasons I stated above. After the election, it’s going to be time for a reckoning. Here’s a bit of Mark.

My friend Carl likens the GOP establishment’s strategy to the idiotic way in which the US lost in Vietnam.  Too often, the Republican Party creates a safe haven for the left by placing off-limits to attack such programs as education in which they hold complete sway.  More than this, the party adopts rules of engagement that hamper the effort, for instance when John McCain refused to use Obama’s middle name, or when Romney used every Alinskyite tactic to secure the nomination, but will not use them in the general election campaign.  I’m prepared to take it one step more:  When we elect establishment candidates, we provide the left with a safe haven in government, as most of them are permitted to remain in place.  Permitting establishment Republicans to call themselves “conservative” without challenge, we encourage the denigration of actual conservatism.  Mitt Romney isn’t conservative.  He’s a “moderate Republican,” which is to say he is a liberal.  If he takes the White House in November, it will remain staffed by people who are statists.  There will be no change in philosophy, but merely a slow-down in the rate of its pursuit. We shouldn’t expect to restore our constitutional republic by harboring the enemy.

Mitt Romney says he’s been “severely conservative.”  I don’t know how one who knows the first thing about conservatism could begin to make such a claim.  If anything, his history as Governor of Massachusetts tells us something quite different.  Romney-care is an abomination to any free people, and the mere fact that he helped enact such a program as law puts the lie to his claim of conservative credentials, much less a “severe” one.  No, he enacted regulations that pushed the entire farcical global-warmist agenda, and he helped to create and fund programs such as “Welfare Wheels” that are all in keeping with a big-government statist.  The most telling part of his claim is the use of the word “severe” as his adjective of choice.  It is only the most liberal Republicans who attach the impression of severity to conservatism.  For mainstream conservatives, we believe we do not need to say we are “compassionate” because compassion is implicit in our policy ideas.  To the degree we are “severe,” it is in the realm of truth-telling and logical analysis.  To apply the modifier “severely” to conservative is to admit that he doesn’t know what conservatism is all about.  It confesses a philosophical distance from conservatism that cannot be bridged by our desire to win in November.

There’s more, lots more, here, and in the posts around it, read them all.

This has gotten to the point that Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState had this to say the other day.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana receives campaign donations from the parent company of Phillip Morris. Senator Baucus then puts a provision in the highway transportation bill banning roll your own cigarette operations, a business that does not exist in Montana.

Forty people in Harry Reid’s Nevada and elsewhere will lose their jobs because a transportation bill actively and willfully legislated a legal business out of business by driving up the regulatory burden so excessively. Major cigarette manufacturers championed the legislation and Republicans supported it because it will increase tax revenue without them voting to raise taxes.

Put bluntly, Republicans voted to do exactly what they they accuse the Democrats of doing — shut down businesses by driving up regulatory burdens in an effort to increase taxes.

Max Baucus may have inserted the provision, but it made it through Republican House of Representatives. Maybe we do need a third party to do the job Republicans campaign on doing, but then get to Washington and don’t actually do.

Continue Reading Maybe We Really Do Need a Third Party.

Note also that RedState’s editorial policy is explicitly: “Conservative in the primary and Republican in the general”. It’s that bad.

I’m going to be saying a lot more about this in the coming days and weeks, I expect but, there is going to be a reckoning, the only question is. Will it be before or after the election. Conservatives in America have had enough of being used in this way.

Leadership and Management in America; What’s the Problem Here? Part 3

The Military Heritage

On March 28, 2102, Senator McCain gave the Forrestal lecture at the Naval Academy and talked a good bit about the difference between leadership and management. Note that neither Sen McCain nor I am disparaging management, it’s essential but, leadership is far harder to learn and every bit essential. Note that if you follow the link, Dale at Command Performance Leadership has the entire speech as well as his commentary, I recommend it highly.

In a little over two months, we’ll commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, when barely six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we faced an enemy supremely confident in their ability – not just to defeat, but to annihilate – the battered remnants of Halsey’s Pacific Fleet.  We were overwhelmingly outnumbered and outgunned.  The Japanese brought 8 carriers, we had barely three; they had 11 battleships, we had none.  And the Japanese had the best fighter aircraft in the Pacific – the Mitsubishi Zero – that easily dominated the slower, less agile TBDs, SBDs, F4Fs, and Marine F2As.

Making matters worse, our forces were plagued by faulty equipment. The Mk 13 torpedo was notoriously unreliable. In fact, not a single torpedo dropped at Midway by Torpedo 3, Torpedo 6 or Torpedo 8 even detonated. And the new electrical arming system on the SBD’s had the annoying habit of randomly releasing the bomb when the Master Arm switch was selected. 

But in the end, the battle turned not on numbers or equipment – but rather on the actions – and the leadership – of some truly extraordinary men. What they did at Midway has become the stuff of legend.

Men like LCDR John Waldron, skipper of Torpedo 8, who led his 15 TBD Devastators against one of the enemy carriers at wave-top height and barely 100 knots, while trying to fend off the far more capable – and deadlier – Zeros.  With no fighter cover of his own, Waldron’s fate was sealed.  His last transmission to his squadron-mates was simple: ‘We will go in. We won’t turn back. We will attack. Good luck.’

And men like Marine Major ‘Joe’ Henderson, who led his mixed squadron of F4Fs and F2As against the carrier Hiryu.  Struck by anti-aircraft fire, his aircraft in flames, Henderson pressed the attack – on what would be his last flight.

And LCDR Wade McClusky, who, despite being dangerously low on fuel, kept searching for the Japanese carriers until he found them, and whose extraordinary leadership – according to Admiral Nimitz – ‘decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway.’The Battle of Midway was won not by superior equipment, and certainly not because we outnumbered the Japanese. We won because of the stout hearts and uncommon leadership that for one hundred years has been the hallmark of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. 

My grandfather commanded a carrier task force in the Pacific during WWII. He made it a point to talk with pilots after they returned from a strike, asking them, ‘Do you think we’re doing the right thing?’ He knew that if you ever stopped learning from your men, then you stopped leading.

Today, we hear a lot about ‘management,’ and not nearly enough about leadership.  That worries me.  One thing of which I am certain – there is a great difference between managers and leaders. Competent managers are useful in any endeavor.  But they are plentiful. Our nation graduates over 150,000 MBAs every year. But leaders … true leaders … are rare. And they are a far more important asset than managers.1

This strikes me as the old John McCain, the Naval Aviator who overflew Hanoi, who kept his head in the midst of exploding ordnance on the USS Forestal in 1967, and above all keeping the faith in the Hanoi Hilton.

But his points are just as valid for us as they are for the Navy. We need leaders in all areas of business, to train, to innovate and to develop our people. Where are we to find them?

Maybe a better question is, “What makes a leader?” Those of us in the civilian sector have coasted for years with what we can pick up from the military. We don’t teach it, and lately we rarely practice it either.

One of the key characteristics of the leader is honor (you can maybe substitute ethics here, although it’s at best a subset of honor). I have gone into mid 5 figure deals on a handshake and a promise to work it out. It was fine because I knew I was dealing with an honorable client who didn’t yet know what he wanted/needed to do but understood that I would help him define as well as implement his goals. While certainly we were both in the deal to make a profit I and he understood that if the project blew up in everybody’s face, none of us would remain unscathed, including the principal. And that is key, if the people you are dealing with have no skin in the game, except the glory they think they can get from screwing everyone concerned, run like hell. I’ve also dealt with clients that I wouldn’t rust to buy me a cup of coffee with a 60 page contract specifying it.

As I said above, much of our honor code comes from the military, dating back to Greece and Rome. Why? Because it has proven to be the best way to order the business of war. There is a huge caveat here though because while there is law and rules of engagement involved in the military and warfighting, there is much more involved. In truth, western armies have known for centuries that if they want a well-ordered army they need very good non-commissioned officers (NCOs). This is where the tradition is, this is the first line supervisor who will catch you is, this is where your buddies are. Few men actually think about the slogans that motivated them to go to war in battle, they are far more concerned with not letting down their buddies. Part of what seems to be happening in our military right now, appears to be that our senior NCO’s are retiring and their replacements have been so busy in the last ten years fighting battles without enough time to study, that some of that heritage is being lost. Armed Forces Journal ran a very good article lately on the problems the military is having.

The Problem

The problem of battlefield discipline predates the modern law of armed conflict. The problem is raised, if somewhat obliquely, in Homer’s “Iliad,” in which the erratic and uncontrollable rage of Achilles culminates in his abuse of Hector’s corpse — an outrage even by the standards of that violent time. In 1066, William the Conqueror is said to have expelled a knight from his assembly for mutilating the body of the conquered King Harold II.

Under the modern conception, war is violence for a purpose, organized and sanctioned by the nation-state. Acts of violence that would otherwise be unlawful take on a gloss of legitimacy — and sometimes even honor — because they are committed under the authority of the state. There is a difference between the civilian ethos of violence and the warrior ethos of violence. Warriors are given a special privilege of legitimate violence, but this violence retains its legitimacy only so long as warriors adhere to the warrior ethos. So the very nature of war raises the problem of battlefield discipline.

Indeed, war demands discipline. War is not violence for its own sake or for the personal gain of the people committing it. Without discipline, the violence cannot be directed to serve the pragmatic political purpose for which it is called forth. This is especially true in a counterinsurgency, in which the berserker approach often works to defeat rather than advance the aims of the campaign. Also, in the absence of discipline, the violence occurs outside the authority of the nation-state, thus stripping it of its legal justification. Combat without discipline is not war.

The problem, then, is to unleash a brutal, destructive force while containing and directing it to achieve limited objectives. There is a very small margin of acceptable error because the misdeeds of just a few undisciplined soldiers can undo the work of many thousands of their more disciplined comrades. (Former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak’s concept of the “strategic corporal” gets at this reality.) To this end, a military commander must not be a mere manager of violence, but rather a leader of individuals whose job it is to commit violence.

Though not specifically talking about the military, Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” addresses the problem facing leaders who are responsible for training others in ethics. Though Aristotle believes in universal standards of virtue, he recognizes that the process of becoming virtuous may vary from person to person. Aristotle uses the analogy of a doctor who learns what is theoretically good for everyone and then applies that knowledge to the practical details of an individual patient. The process of training others in virtue begins with an understanding of the general principles of the law, but it does not end there. Rather, it is a matter of continued training and habituation over time that must, to a certain extent, be tailored to the individual.

The law is a blunt instrument, a generally applicable set of rules that does not and cannot deal in such fine distinctions. The saying goes that “hard cases make bad law,” which means that judges should focus on the general principles of the law instead of the specific facts of outlier cases.

Military commanders, though, must be concerned with the hard cases — their business is people, not principles. Battlefield discipline, then, stems not from the law of war but from the ethos of the warrior.2

While our problems in the private sector are not the same, they bear some resemblance. It’s hard to be loyal to a huge corporation or even a big factory, in truth if it’s not led well, it’s nearly impossible to be loyal to your team. I’ve seen it forever where you have a brown-nosing supervisor, he always has trouble with his people. This is often a problem when a large company is run by the quarterly bottom line, especially when it is proud of its degrees in accounting and its MBAs. I wrote about this some in relation to the meat-packing industry where supervisors are being squeezed for output while being denied enough authority to do anything good, there’s not even enough money to properly maintain the plants.3 I depend absolutely on my journeymen to keep things going, and going right. They’ve been around (either with me or other companies) long enough to know how to do almost everything right, and I make sure that they know I’ll back them up.

Interesting enough, I learned long ago and far away that if I wanted good people in my group, the things I needed to do was, praise in public; criticize in private, never blame them to my superior, certainly I require good performance from them, but I do it, not my boss, and to help them be better. This is what Michael O. Douglas was referring to as “remove the blocker”. There is nothing new here, it’s been known for hundreds of years, you just have to do it.

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