Enlightened Conflict

pardons and the trump equivalency trick

August 28th, 2017

laws dilbert

=============

 

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

 

—–

Aristotle

 

=====================

 

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

 

——

Ronald Reagan

 

==================

 

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing the Trump administration does well, really well <great just because you can Trump should notagain even> … is to find some scrap of equivalency to suggest what they have done or said is “normal.”

 

In addition, they gird their normalizing arguments with “because he can” simplistic tripe.

 

This is the Trump business mantra applied to the presidency … ‘it is technically legal & norms are irrelevant’.

 

This is the lesson that Trump appears to have ignored, the one where parents teach every child “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Look.

 

Presidents can pardon whoever they want convicted of a federal crime … not a state crime. Technically Trump was within his ‘technical rights’ to pardon Sherriff Joe Arpaio and, literally, he wins because “the left” and Republicans’ with any sense of norms will go ballistic.

But I would suggest society actually loses on this one <as does the American legal system>.

 

In a normal world this pardon may appear in the overall scheme of things as small potatoes … but it is not. With this president it edges onto the slippery slope of a new normal <which is not normal nor desired normal>. It edges into an undermining of the justice system.

 

Hear me out.

 

2 things make me say this.dear mr president letter trump

 

How Trump gave the pardon verbally.

 

He suggested in his words that the Sheriff was just doing his job well. In other words … the laws were either wrong or the law of the land restricts people from doing their jobs. Uhm. And that the president is the judge of whether the laws are right or wrong, constricting or supportive.

The words matter just as much as the pardon itself. The words send a message with regard to how people should view laws and the legal system.

By the way … the words are as much Trump as anything we have ever seen … only he knows what laws are truly worthy and he rules his business that way. In his mind Trump is the sole arbiter of right versus wrong & legal versus ‘useless law.’

 

 

How Trump came to the pardon.

 

He offered the pardon without his Dept. of Justice. In other words … the DOJ and what they thought <or knew> was irrelevant. Process and legal minds are irrelevant … he is the law <a shiver went down my spine as I typed that>. It should be disconcerting to any and all that Trump appears to come to a conclusion about something, particularly what is legal and what isn’t, without seeking the legal process to back it up.

 

But.

 

justice statue sword fight for libertyAt the root of the issue is that a “law & order” president just pardoned a ‘law & order employee’ who … well … not only flaunted the law but broke the law of rights. The fact is he is not a law abiding sheriff if he’s disobeying a court order <let us remind ourselves that this charming fellow was a convicted sheriff, who ran sweltering, punishing jails where inmates died and was accused of targeting Latino residents … AND … during the litigation that led to his conviction for criminal contempt, he hired a private detective to investigate the wife of a federal judge hearing a case against his office >.

 

And at the root of the Trump issue <as if there is just one rotten root> is, as USA Today points out, Arpaio didn’t meet the Justice Department guidelines for a pardon. His conviction wasn’t five years old, he hadn’t expressed remorse and he hadn’t even applied to the Office of Pardon Attorney.

The day before, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president would follow a “thorough and standard process” in considering the pardon.

That process usually requires seven layers of review and an FBI background check.

 

 

That did not happen.

 

Past Bush ethics Chief counsel Richard Painter said:

 

—————–

 

Well, I don’t see how this would have made it through any normal process.

This sheriff has been known for lawless acts for many years. I don’t think he would have lasted one week as a sheriff in my home state of Minnesota. We trump soul behavior tweet revealare a law and order state. Many places are. We favor law and order in the United States.

 

When a judge tells a sheriff to do something, the sheriff does it. That’s what law and order is all about. And if you’re in contempt of court and you’re a law enforcement official, you’re abusing your power. You should not be pardoned by the President of the United States.

 

And the message here is very clear: the President likes sheriff Joe because he likes going after immigrants. He was going after minorities. And that’s the clear message here. And I think it’s really reprehensible and I wish that something could be done about it. We gotta think seriously about whether Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States.

 

I’ve been a Republican for thirty years and we’ve got a lot of great people in the Republican Party. Who can serve honorably in this United States government and can serve this President of the United States.

 

This is just one more stick in the eye to the minority community and to those victimized by the very few people in law enforcement like sheriff Joe who choose to use their power abusively. And choose to ignore the orders of the judiciary. And that is lawlessness. And that should not be tolerated in the United States.

————————-

 

Sigh.

 

The legal system is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do what he wants to do which, in the end, undermines the utility of the legal system overall.

 

But watch.

 

All the Trump surrogates will be flocking to the TV shows to start shaking their fists and defiantly spouting out some false equivalence to justify this non-little trump pouting tweetingnormal presidential behavior.

 

They will use scraps of truth and facts to weave a story that suggest Trump is normal, thought normally and even acted normally.

 

This is not normal and there are few fair equivalences.

 

In the most harsh view … with the pardoning of Joe Arpaio … Trump has established his place in history alongside those who exercised the same executive and dictatorial rights such as Stalin of Russia, Mussolini of Italy and Hitler <as well as Erdogan, Putin and Duterte>. That does not mean he IS them just that he is utilizing some of the same tactics.

 

To be clear.

 

While I fear that Trump and Arpaio are bigots and nationalists and authoritarians … that doesn’t make them Nazis <so I wish some people would tone down some of the rhetoric>.

It just makes them bigoted, nationalistic authoritarians. That’s bad enough and I see little value in bringing up Nazis.

 

That is a false equivalency.

 

I have said this before and I will say it until I die … the Trump presidency nor normal daysthe Trump behavior is normal and we need to stop suggesting it is normal. We should be seeking to explain and justify his uniqueness in behavior <and if we cannot then he should be penalized> but no one … and I mean no one … should be using scraps of normalcy to create a false equivalency of a larger whole normalcy to a non-normal president.

 

This is NOT normal in how we should be viewing our legal system and legal decisions.

 

Trump is certainly no Reagan but maybe we, all of us, should heed Reagan’s words in the age of Trump … we must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

power concedes nothing unless demanded to do so

July 26th, 2017

 dynamics-of-power

 

===========

 

 “Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.”

 

—–

Frederick Douglass

 

=========================

 

“Next to the assumption of power is the responsibility of relinquishing it.”

 

Benjamin Disraeli

 

===================

 

 

Well.

 

We don’t talk about power and people often beyond the tripe about how power power authority leadcorrupts people <as I have written … only people can corrupt themselves>.

 

So let me talk about the dynamics of power in business in a non-corrupting way. What I mean by that is … well … responsibility & authority. Whether anyone really admits it or not once you attain a senior position in a business you have gained power. Now.

 

This power is most often not embodied in any nefarious way but rather it is simply a reflection of responsibility & authority.

 

You have power over decisions.

 

You have power over people.

 

You have power over funds and their allocation.

 

You even have power over ideas … which ones die and which ones live.

 

Most of us do not see this as some all empowering power or even eye it with an power-within-corrupt-strongauthoritarian belief. We do not view it as some “center of power” but rather we see it is actually more like a linear tool <or hammer> selectively used.

 

Now.

 

Wielded well … power can look like a central source of authority but ‘wielded well’ is actually a flurry of linear tools, like playing whack-a-mole, applied to establish selective moments of desired behavior and progress <and this flurry actually creates the sense that there is a larger centralized power>.

 

But here is the thing.

 

Once you have gained authority you are extremely hesitant to concede the ‘power.’ This hesitancy actually shifts into full-on “hold on with ragged claws” if you have mastered <or you feel like you have mastered it> the ‘useful flurry of power’ in appropriate ways.

 

Partially I think this is the allure of … well … owning the initiative – or having some power over initiatives. This shouldn’t be undersold. It is exhilarating and … well … powerful. In business while we measure results and report ad nausea the most satisfaction most leaders get is not in measuring parts & pieces but rather the totality of what they do.  and once you taste that satifation you have no desire to conceded anything that could keep you from possibly attaining that satiscation again.

 

Is that holding onto power? Sure. I guess.

But I tend to believe it is more “I know how to do my shit and I want to keep ding that shit” attitude than any ral bad ‘power trip’ type attitude.

 

================

 

“Never relinquish the initiative.”

 

—–

Charles de Gaulle

 

============

 

Unfortunately … people on the outside just don’t see it that way.

 

And it is understandable they may not see it the right way because I believe it speaking Power of Words 577x600was Geoffrey O’Brien who said ‘history unfolds as always in the midst of distraction, misunderstanding, and partially obscured sight-lines.’

 

That is how the authority version of power works. It unfolds in the midst of distraction and partially obscured sight lines.

 

That is how authority works. It unfolds in the midst of a flurry of choices, decisions, delegations and doing <all blurry and, yet, creating a sense of central power>.

 

Regardless of what it is … or what it looks like … once attained we tend to not want to relinquish it – we do not want to concede it.

 

It must be demanded to be relinquished.

 

And here is where it gets tricky. Because even if there is a demand to relinquish, and you do have to relinquish <you get fired and have to take a ‘lesser authority job’ or you get demoted or you simply shift jobs with a different authority level> … we hate to concede it.

 

I mention that because that is one reason why older senior people who decide to take a lower titled job <even with the best intentions and capability to actually ‘do the job’> can struggle or just be a pain in the ass.

 

It’s not that they truly are a pain in the ass it is simply … well … they have felt the satisfaction of authority and dislike the loss of that authority.

 

All that said.

 

Power concedes nothing <unless the power owner is stupid, foolish or arrogant> … but as someone smarter than I said once … it always reveals.

 

Authority reveals.

 

And maybe what I am suggesting today is that authority can actually reveal character and ability. And once you have seen what you can do, what you are capable of doing and what you like to do … well … it is not an easy thing to conceded or relinquish.

 

And, let me be clear, you can actually be good with authority and effective with use of power and can still be demanded to relinquish it.

 

It is a falsity to suggest that being good at something means you will always be able to do it <or someone will always seek to have you do it>. you can be forced to relinquish authority, even if you are good at it, for a variety of reasons in business <ranging from well-intended to absurd>.

 

It is natural to want it again if you were demanded to relinquish it.

 

Anyway.perspective common sense justice good people

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to claim someone is ‘power hungry’ or ‘protective of their power’ … and mean it in a bad way. Having authority and enjoying authority and wielding authority well is addictive <or maybe just like having ‘the perfect buzz’>.

Is it wrong to be hungry for that? Whew. Sure doesn’t seem wrong.

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to judge a person who has had a senior role and has decided to assume a position with lesser responsibility & authority because … well … once you have had authority it is really really hard to relinquish it.

 

While power concedes nothing I would suggest that the feeling of authority used well tends to not want to concede anything.

 

===========

 

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

 

Paulo Coelho

 

==================

testing norms and what is legal

May 15th, 2017

never too good at following rules

===============

 

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me.

If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

 

Robert A. Heinlein

 

============

 

“Rules are for children.

This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

 

Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

 

=============

 

 

Ok.

 

hoist the black flag rulesWe have a shitload of regulations, laws and rules to abide by every day.

 

We set out explicit rules and guidelines and sometimes these appear as laws. They are meant to showcase a red line for behavior.

 

That said, boy oh boy … we sure do bitch about how many laws we have and how many regulations are in place and how many rules we face that curb our success. The government is most likely the main villain in this story.

Most of us act like government sits around coming up with rules and laws and regulations simply to stifle freedom in our lives – personal and business.

 

It may behoove us to think a little more about why those rules, regulations and laws came about and how we still have some room to navigate which is a playing field called “norms.”

 

It may behoove us to think a little more about the fact we suck at self-regulation. In fact, when left to regulate ourselves, within a capitalist environment, the arc of behavior bends toward some fairly heinous behavior.

 

What happens is that some start pushing out beyond what most people would integrity has no need of rulestend to believe is ‘integrity driven behavior’ and with each push what is acceptable becomes broader and broader.

 

So what we have done in the past is to step in, slap the wrist of those who have bent the arc toward what is not really the best for all and then set up some regulations to insure our self-regulation has some fences to corral us.

 

That said.

 

We do have some norms.

Some ‘accepted beliefs’ for some specific roles and responsibilities.

 

It’s like we assume if you become a CEO of a business that you will not instigate any illegal behavior and you will tell the truth with regard to what you are selling & offering.

Yes there are laws and regulations but, in general, a business sets its own behavioral compass – within which there will be things unwritten but accepted.

 

 

It’s like we assume if you decided to accept the responsibility of a public servant you will share your tax returns to show how you have earned your money in the past, you assume that you will cut ties with your business to insure no conflicts of interest and you assume you don’t fire people because you don’t like them.

 

All of those things may be legal to actually do but norms suggest they are not the right things to do.

 

Norms, in my pea like brain, reside outside a buffer zone just prior to reaching one of these red lines. They are usually unstated and they are usually simply expected for those who uphold some integrity and they are usually just done by the people who truly matter.

 

Ah.

breaking rules HagyBut let’s remember … most times norms reside within what is a larger legally acceptable behavior.

Why does that happen?

Because most people who set up rules and regulations and laws desire to give people some freedom to act and make their own decisions.

 

That said … to be clear … you can do a shitload of legal things in life, business & government which when viewed honestly can look and smell really bad.

 

I have worked several times with people who have constantly suggested “but it is legal.” And 90% of the time I have felt uneasy about what we were about to do. Not that it was illegal but rather it <a> tested what I would consider a norm and <b> it was clearly in that buffer zone that got too close to the red line.

 

There will always be people who will dance on the icy brink of the red line and these same people will dance while singing “it is legal.”

 

It is a hollow song to sing and it always sounds slightly out of tune.

 

Anyway.

 

Let’s just say there are two basic types of people:

 

  • Those who see norms, and normative behavior, and see it as guidelines for right or wrong <an subsequently check laws, rules and regulations to be sure all is good & legal>. In other words behavior doesn’t have to be dictated by some rule or law but more often than not “what seem like the right thig to do.”

 

 

  • Those who see “anything that could be deemed legal”, or, conversely, “if it is not expressly forbidden than it is permissible. These people don’t ever ponder “what seems like the right thing to do” because, to them, if it is legal it is right.

 

 

People have a lot of leeway to do non-criminal bad actions.

rules do not why not

=============

 

“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break ’em.”

 

Terry Pratchett

 

================

 

 

And I tend to believe most times rules & laws are not rewritten is because people break them <because they have done their job>, It is when people start ignoring norms where rules & laws get rewritten.

As soon as enough people, or prominent people, start doing things that the norm had suggested up to that point was ‘not the right thing to do’ people sit back, shake their heads a little sadly … and say “well, I guess we need to set up some rules.”

 

I admit.

I am both a norms guy and a law/rules guy.

 

If you give me the rules & the laws I believe I can win within them. And win even without bending their interpretation.

 

If norms are established and the norms reflect ‘good’ and not ‘bad behavior’ I tend to place them right beside all the rules/laws you gave me and say exactly the same thing … I believe I can win within them.

 

following the rulesBut not everyone thinks that way.

 

Some people don’t care about ‘good behavior’ all they care about is ‘legal behavior’ <what is technically legal>. It is these people who actually create the need for rules, regulations and laws.

 

So maybe when we start bitching about all the rules, regulations and laws we have that seem to restrict some things we tend think are kind of okay to do … we shouldn’t blame the institutions which created them … we should be blaming the people who forced their creation.

They are the ones who absolutely suck at self-regulation … actually worse than most of the rest of us … and we pay the price for their behavior.

the ports have names for the sea

April 28th, 2017

hand-ocean-birds

 

==========================

 

 

“And the ports have names for the sea.”

 

 

William Auden

============

 

Well.

 

I could quite easily argue that the most fundamental thing necessary to be successful in Life and in business is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s walk in my shoes see my view morality shoes.

In other words … the ability to see what they see, think what they think and understand why they do what they do.

If you have that ability … or maybe it’s a skill … it fosters understanding, ability to compromise, enables at least the possibility to shift thinking and … well … it actually encourages you to rethink some things and maybe unlearn some learnings.

 

I do sometimes look at what is happening in the world and how we seem to have stopped listening and I think of Auden’s line from a poem he wrote about Iceland. I think about it and sometimes believe we are all out at sea floating amongst tides, waves and storms <rarely calm> looking at the ports with names. And, yet, we can never envision that the ports may look out at us and not only view us differently … but also the seas upon which we float.

 

By maintaining our personal view we do not listen, therefore we do not debate <we only lecture> and we certainly never compromise or find some common ground. Instead we all bob around the vast ocean just trying to keep our own head above water and yell at each other for stupidly bobbing around in the water the wrong way <or not the way we are>.

No wonder the ports have a different name for the seas then we do. We call them Black, Caspian, Mediterranean, Baltic, Caribbean , etc.. Ports most likely look out and … well …”a place upon which fools who do not listen to each other float” is what I guess they would name it.

 

I word it that way because … well … it seems like sometimes we forget that we are all trying to figure out a way of keeping our heads above water.

 

Now.

I imagine the reasons why we forget all the commonalities and why we ignore what each other truly has to say is not simple, nor just one thing, but rather a thousand reasons scattered around like quarters on the floor just waiting for someone to ick up. I would bet I have sloppily discussed many of these reasons on enlightened conflict.

 

But I can truly only think of one thing that trumps all the thousand reason to not do what we should be doing – moral imperative.

That may sound high too falutin’ for somethings as simple as ‘listening to each other and discussing’ but truly it is a moral imperative that we try and solve this.

 

We are better as people if we hear an Ann Coulter and Bernie Sanders debating, in a civil fashion, what they believe and why.

 

We are better as people if we hear a Wilbur Ross and Robert Reich debating , in a civil fashion, what they believe and why.

 

We are better as people when the most liberal of institutions open their ears and eyes to the most conservative of believers and listen … really listen … and discuss and say do not conversationsdebate … and realize that most often our differences reside in tactics, possibly in some strategies, but rarely in objectives.

We are even better when common everyday schmucks, like you and I, sit down and listen and discuss and debate <kind of like Heineken just suggested in a fabulous video message they produced>.

 

I believe this can happen if we embrace the moral imperative as people.

Ah.

But there is that ‘moral’ word I keep tossing into this mix.

 

What a divisive word for a word which should be a unitor.

 

Beyond the entire civil discourse and listening and finding common ground discussion it seems to me that a shitload of us are actually embracing what I believe is called ‘moral condescension.’ It’s not that we are just condescending with each other about views, opinions and beliefs … but all of that crap is grounded on an underlying sense of moral condescension <’not only do you have the wrong belief & attitude but you do that because you are not a morally strong as I am’>.

 

Not only is condescension of any type irritating but moral condescension ratchets up irritating to … well … an incredibly irritating level.

 

For the most part most people don’t really have to deal with it because most of us either keep our moral ‘high horse’ in our pocket or share it with friends and acquaintances of like mind.

And most other people know our views and just avoid us if they disagree.

What that means is <a> there is a significant lack of any discourse and <b> when there is we fairly quickly move into our ‘moral condescension mode’ which … well … irritates the other person/people.

 

I do ponder why we hate moral condescension so much. I mean condescension in general is irritating but with morals and morality it just has a tendency to more condescending moralitybring forth a little anger.

 

I would offer to everyone that maybe it suggests we should feel some guilt for some indulgence in the vagaries of life. It suggests that maybe we feel too much … well … about ‘muchness’ without truly examining the barebones of shit without all the muchness attached.

 

The truth is that, for the most part, if you strip away the condescension it only suggests some examination of what we focus on and what we do not focus on … who we possibly deprive something of in what we may truly subconsciously be indulging upon as something ‘we earned’  <this idea, to me, is at the nucleus of the condescension>.

 

Uhm.

You do not earn indulgence.

You earn money & respect <as well as some other nice and not so nice characteristics I imagine>.

 

I say that because regardless of whether you are the moral condescension giver or the moral condescension receiver you should be stepping back and stripping away the indulgence aspects <simplistically … I earned that huge SUV and deserve it … even though some people cannot even afford taking a bus> and try viewing all moral decisions and people’s views in the most stripped down version.

 

I say that because naked we kind of all have the same problems and issues in a harsh world — it is just a matter of degree in most cases.

 

I say that because we kind of have a moral obligation to the fellowship of all humankind and ‘fairness’ <whoever you would like to define that> for all.

 

Look.

 

I fully understand as we bob around in the sea of survival <and self beliefs> we cannot have moral obligations to everyone around the world. It kind of seems to make more sense to understand we actually only truly have moral obligations against the people we come up against. T

he ones who metaphorically enter into our moral space.

 

This suggests a concept of proximity or that proximity matter in morality.

 

Uhm.

Well, yes and no.

 

First … the closest proximity is yourself – you can control your own actions and what you think, do and say.

 

Second proximity then would be the ones closest to us – physically or mentally.

horton hears a who speak out morality

Third proximity would actually be ‘the world.’ And what I mean by that is you have a choice to be vocal with regard to what you see as right or wrong. It’s kind of like the moral version of the butterfly affect. If enough voices are raised even Horton will hear the Whos in Whovile.

 

I say that because distance diminishes the affect your own moral obligation can have a real impact.

 

But maybe what that proximity idea I just shared with you means is that we have some moral obligation to intersect, with ideas, and listen and discuss with those who our space interconnects with.

 

Here is what I know for sure.

 

We do not listen to each other enough these days. And we certainly do not discuss things with an eye toward commonalities anymore. Our differences seem incontrovertible and our civility has diminished to such a point we don’t even attempt to engage in discussion because of such certainty of lack of civility we do not even believe it is worth the attempt.

 

That is a shame. And in Bruce terms … “it is bad.’ The lack of any attempt is, at Find your voice listen speak moralityits worst, ignoring a moral imperative for the greater good.

 

We would all do better if we recognized that ‘the ports have names for the seas’ … and they may be different names than the ones we have given the seas.

 

==========

Historical note about the line I opened this piece up with … and a thought that sometimes mistakes can lead to a different way of looking at things and thinking about things … and … well … in the end — doing something different than you planed.

 

W.H. Auden describes somewhere how he had written a line, in a poem about Iceland.

 

and the poets have names for the sea

 

and the printer set it up in galley as …

 

and the ports have names for the sea.

 

Auden left it liking the line better. A happy accident.

============

 

Enlightened Conflict