donald trump

Trump Snubs Constitution

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In a bold and dangerous move late Friday, Donald Trump pardoned racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a move described by New York Times columnist Adam Liptak as characteristically unconventional. In his op-ed piece in the Times, Paul Krugman details exactly how the powers vested in the presidency, when exercised to the extreme, can lead to a fascist state.

David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic, concluded in his article How to Build an Autocracy,  "Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state, not by dictate and violence, but by the slow demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms but with an unvarying insistence upon the honesty, integrity and professionalism of American institutions and those that lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don't be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.” 

Trump is a deflector and manipulator of the highest order. He has demonstrated that he has no regard for the rule of law or the U.S. Constitution. In my book, From Bully to Bull’s Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I give advice to the bystander. I suggest that the Republican leaders take a strong stand as they have very little time left to stop him. 

Photo credit: AZCentral.com

Transgender Military Ban Just Another Attempt at Deflection

Whenever reality begins to intrude upon their self-made facts, you can count on Donald Trump and the perpetually shifty Steve Bannon to concoct something so egregious that the entire world’s attention is distracted. This morning’s tweeted news of a ban of transgender military personnel is the perfect example. Like all bullies, Trump and Bannon are masters of manipulation, deflection, deceit and denial—and with the ongoing fight for America’s healthcare and Trump’s inner circle talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Russians, they must have gotten pretty desperate to take the heat off themselves.

How stupid do they think we are? Do they think the bald-faced appeals to their base designed to enrage progressives has anyone fooled? Pushback has been massive. Highly decorated transgender Navy Seal Kristin Beck fired back, “Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy.” U.S. Senator John McCain (AZ-R) issued a statement as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee pointing out that the Defense Department is already studying the effect of supporting transgender military personnel: “I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress.” But my favorite response was the one tweeted by my country’s Canadian Forces:

Protest Trump’s Appalling Speech at Boy Scout Jamboree

Monday night Donald Trump gave a talk to the annual Boy Scout Jamboree that was appallingly reminiscent of how the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated with vile propaganda and hate. The leadership of the Boy Scout movement should issue a public denunciation of Trump and his remarks. Below are the thoughts of my friend Patrick Mundt.

I was a Boy Scout.  I am appalled by the Bully-in-Chief’s speech at the Scout Jamboree.  The Boy Scouts of America is not a political institution—it's an American institution. How can we, as Americans, let Trump spew his hate and un-American thoughts and values to this honorable nonpolitical group whose own policy is to avoid anything political? As reported in The Atlantic, the rules plainly state: “The Boy Scouts of America must not … involve Scouting in political matters.” (You can read the BSA rule and regulations here.)  

It's beyond comprehension.  Trump needs to be stopped. The 40,000 boys at the event were being taught disrespect and these lessons will further perpetuate what we are experiencing now.  It's not enough to just post on Facebook. We must take action. If we are silent, we lose. 

Here’s what you can do:

·       Call the Boy Scouts of America main office at 972-580-2000.

·       Tweet @boyscouts and Chief Scout Michael Sturbaugh @BSAChief and express your outrage at the rally booing President Barack Obama, a former Boy Scout.

·       Read this: 

The Foundation of Scouting

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty To God and my country and to obey the Scout Law,

To help other people at all times,

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight

Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Scout Mission

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Photo credit: Washington Post

The Bully-in-Chief Remains as Predictable as Ever

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post predicting what Donald Trump will do next. Sadly, recent events are proving me right. I have no special psychic ability, but I’ve studied bullies for a long time and I know what a bully does when cornered. Like all bullies, the more Trump has his back pushed against the wall, the more he lashes out. His latest Tweet storm is ample proof of that.

Today his son-in-law Jared Kushner, was interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Trump’s son Donald Jr., and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort have also struck an agreement to be privately interviewed by the Committee. Clearly things are getting uncomfortable for the current resident of the White House.

This leads me to two new predictions:

1.     Someone close to Trump will throw him under the bus. Trump is bully who leads a collection of bullying toadies. When bullies get threatened, they lash out.

2.     Trump will soon replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with someone who can influence the course of the Russia investigation. Trump’s inquiry about pardoning himself makes it clear that he’s getting desperate.

To find out what will happen we only have to stay tuned, but one thing is for sure—the behavior of bullies, and the Bully-in-Chief, will always be predictable.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

Why Organizations Fail

It does little good to relive Donald Trump’s latest offensive tweets (after all, you never know what he’ll send out at 3 a.m.). The truth is that Trump doesn’t use Twitter to communicate; he uses it to cyberbully a nation. The results have been toxic—respect for America is down around the world, he’s sowed seeds of doubt about the nation’s electoral process, civil servants, courts, and, of course, the media. According to Ezra Klein on Vox: “Six months into his term, Trump’s policy achievements are few and thin, but he has coarsened our politics, shown the power of shamelessness, undermined our faith in each other and ourselves, modeled behavior we would punish children for exhibiting, and implicated all of us in the running fiasco of his presidency. He has diminished the country he promised to make great.”

Trump’s bullying tactics cannot be denied. Charles M. Blow took it a step further in an op-ed in the New York Times, when he pointed out that Trump’s ongoing rants reveal exactly how he defiles the office of president.  “Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness. The presidency has been hijacked.

What Trump is doing to America goes on every day in organizations led by bully bosses. What really jumps out for me is how insecure they really are, hiding behind a dangerous veneer of abrasiveness. Their biggest fear is being exposed as frauds who prey on people's fear—using hate as a weapon.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Illustration credit: BIGSTOCK 

Why So Few People Report Abuse

When asked about the sexual harassment controversy at Fox News, one of the frequent refrains the company made was that no one had ever made a complaint. Perhaps the story by Chad Bray in today’s New York Times might shed some light on why people are so reluctant to come forward. The CEO of Barclays, James E. Staley, is under investigation for trying to learn the identity of a whistleblower.

The bank had been reeling from employee misconduct and determined to restructure and resolve litigation. Staley’s predecessor, Antony Jenkins, had done a lot to reshape the corporate culture but was driven out by the directors who no longer believed he could improve returns to shareholders. Instead they brought in Staley. Now it’s been revealed that Staley tried to ascertain the identity of the anonymous whistleblower whose letters seemed to implicate Staley in some sort of cover up. When the bank discovered Staley’s actions, which included seeking the assistance of a U.S. law enforcement team, no action was taken but Staley apologized. Today it was announced that Staley would be formally reprimanded and that he would be subjected to a “very significant compensation adjustment.”

No wonder no one wants to risk their career and safety to report misconduct. Staley received little more than a slap on the wrist and some short-term embarrassment. Whistleblowers on the other hand are often subjected to ongoing harassment and stalled, or even destroyed, careers.

In her excellent column, “The Upshot,” Claire Cain Miller makes the same point when she discusses why women just don’t report sexual harassment:

“Many victims, who are most often women, fear they will face disbelief, inaction, blame or societal and professional retaliation. That could be hostility from supervisors, a bad reference to future employers or the loss of job opportunities. Their fears are grounded in reality, researchers have concluded. In one study of public-sector employees, two-thirds of workers who had complained about mistreatment described some form of retaliation in a follow-up survey.”

If you feared a witch hunt and retaliation, would you report your supervisor? How about if his supervisor is known as an even worse offender? Miller’s research showed that official harassment policies often wind up hurting women because they’re used to prove to the courts that they did what they could, rather than protect female employees.

So what can be done? Perhaps the host of the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has the right idea. His team created an edgy public service announcement to help a certain resident of Pennsylvania Avenue understand why it’s not a good idea to endorse the behavior of Bill O’Reilly. They tried to buy advertising airtime during The O’Reilly Factor, but oddly enough there were no takers in spite of a lack of advertising. Like bullies everywhere, they’re good at dishing out abuse, but not so strong when it comes to handling the resulting ridicule.

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

When the Fear Factor Outweighs the O’Reilly Factor

When the leader of the free world endorses someone who is a serial sexual harasser it is tantamount to giving sexual predators not just permission, but encouragement, to misbehave. Yesterday Donald Trump told the New York Times about allegations against Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, “Personally I think he shouldn’t have settled...I don’t think Bill did anything wrong. I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.” 

In my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I discuss how absolutely critical it is to alter the attitudes of organizational leaders in order to create psychologically healthy, safe, fair and inclusive workplaces. But for this to happen, and the bullying and abuse to end, the entire organization requires a major shift in attitude. Trump, with his endorsement of O’Reilly, has destroyed any shift that has taken place in recent years.

I don’t buy O’Reilly’s claim that the lack of complaints to human resources over the last 20 years means that allegations are baseless. With Roger Ailes as boss, what would be the point to put in a complaint? The fear factor outweighed the O’Reilly Factor when it came to seeking justice.

Clearly, sexual predators like O’Reilly, Trump, Ailes and Bill Cosby are from a generation that sees women as objects.  The New York Times pointed out that O’Reilly’s “hectoring braggadocio and no-apologies nostalgia for a bygone American era mirror Mr. Trump’s own.”

They have become the worst kind of role models—symbols not just of privilege, but of disrespect and even harm for women. It’s particularly surprising for someone of this ilk dotes on his own daughter, Ivanka. And yet Trump’s track record speaks volumes about his disregard for women. From his disparagement of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, to his multiple settlements against sexual harassment claims, to his well known fraternization with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Trump is no different than Ailes and O’Reilly.

I believe that Trump’s endorsement of O’Reilly might be one comment too many when it comes to reelection and may even make Russiagate pale in comparison. When you examine his comments to Billy Bush, his support of Roger Ailes and his recent comments about O’Reilly, I predict he has painted himself into a corner as a sexual predator that will end his political career.

Photo credit: The Daily Beast/Reuters

Death in the Family

I have gone through many emotions since the last election. Last night, after listening to Press Secretary Sean Spicer desperately defend his boss, it suddenly hit me: I am going through a stage of mourning.  I lost my father when I was 26 and I now feel a similar enormous loss, but this time the loss is one of confidence. We cannot believe the person who acts as the American paterfamilias, the person we look up to protect and defend the Constitution of the most powerful nation on earth. 

Spicer was on television yesterday trying to walk back Trump’s accusation of the Obama administration wire tapping Trump Tower during the election. This is just the latest conspiracy theory trotted out by the Commander in Chief. Lest we think this is just the prattling of a warped mind, the increase of conspiracy theories in the news cycle is a reason for alarm. Ivan Krastev discusses this in his op-ed, “The Rise of the Paranoid Citizen,” in the New York Times.

“Conspiracy theories disempower people. In a worldview shaped by conspiracy theories, political leaders can get away with making bad decisions by simply blaming invisible, putatively powerful enemies conspiring against them. What makes conspiracy-theory politics more dangerous than ideological politics (and lest we forget, the 20th century showcased just how deadly extreme ideologies can be) is that conspiracy theories can be dazzling in explaining what has happened and who should be blamed. But they lack any kind of vision for the future or any claim about what kind of world we want to live in,” Krastev writes.

If that isn’t worrisome enough, Trump’s other actions continue to make sure that our respect for his office remains moribund. Certainly cutting programs that provide food to hungry schoolchildren and seniors has done no good for our confidence in him as a caring leader—especially when his wife cheerfully pretends to eat diamond jewelry on the cover of—wait for it—Vanity Fair Mexico.

I feel a tremendous loss. My only comfort is that I’m not mourning alone.

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK 

Why is Trump Hiding?

And now the American president has gone into hiding. It certainly does nothing to help his credibility or to dispel concerns about what is swiftly becoming known as Russia-gate.

When I counsel senior executives who need to restore their reputations after credibility issues, I suggest that they come clean, tell their story and engage with employees, boards, stockholders and the public. Donald Trump is doing the exact opposite. He continues to create a deficit in the trust factor as he lashes out and destroys his own credibility with accusations and unhinged tweets late at night.

Here’s a radical idea for Trump if he truly wants to restore his credibility with the American people: release his tax returns. To do any less, and to continue to try to distract us with lunatic theories, claims of facts being fiction, and a shoddy rush to legislation, implies he truly has something to hide.

It also makes us wonder about those who seem to be following in Trump’s footsteps. Why isn’t Speaker of the House Paul Ryan doing his job and ordering a deep investigation into the mounting ties with Russia? Could he be complicit? And how about the invisible Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson? Why does he refuse to allow press before, during or after a State Department trip? Journalists were shocked when he refused to allow any coverage of his forthcoming trip to Asia.

As I’ve predicted before, based on my study of workplace dynamics that I discuss in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, it’s clear what Trump will do next. Like most bullies, he will do anything and everything to hold onto, and even expand, his power and control. The more he’s challenged, the more he will push back. Therefore we need to be relentless in demanding investigations and fighting to replace the oligarchs in power. To do any less is to allow the wave of nationalism that former President Bill Clinton recently warned us about to overtake us and destroy democracy. 

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

The Secret Weapon Against Bullies: Humor

Anyone who has witnessed one of Donald Trump’s fits on Twitter after Alec Baldwin portrays him on Saturday Night Live knows the man hates being laughed at. This is quite true for bullies across the board—humor at their expense makes them quiver. Not only do they not have a sense of humor, but they are incapable of understanding how humor humanizes someone in leadership. Instead, they just attack.

One of the most well known cases of a bully taking on someone with a superb and self-deprecating sense of humor took place between former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Donald Trump in 2013. Trump had tweeted, “I promise you I’m much smarter than Jonathan Leibowitz, I mean Jon Stewart, who by the way is totally overrated.” Stewart wasn’t sure if Trump was trying to “out” him as a Jew—“Doesn’t my face do that?” Stewart said—or insinuate something more sinister, but he was quick on the retort. It took Trump a full four days to come up with his lame response.

The bully’s thin skin is also why Trump hates cartoonist Gary Trudeau who is fond of portraying the current president warts and all. Trudeau isn’t the only comic strip artist who gets under Trump’s skin; he’s joined by cartoonists around the world. However, the image that for my money best captured Trump’s persona was posted yesterday by cartoonist DWITT who inked the strip at the top of this page. It’s the artist’s depiction of Trump’s gag order to government science agencies and the rebellion begun by the National Park Service.  Clearly he struck a nerve—now most of the agencies have an alternative, non-governmental Twitter account and a science march on Washington is being planned.

Employees who are working for bully bosses much like Trump can take this comedic energy to help them cope and combat their negative working conditions. But please don’t put your position at risk—take a page from the rogue scientists and do it anonymously and not during working hours. A healthy dose of humor can keep toxic environments from becoming normalized and help activists in the workplace, and in society, fight for psychologically healthy, safe and fair conditions. 

Credit: DWITT