Wolf Country Gazette — Banality of Contemporary Evil – Pruitt

In the Trump administration, there are very few examples of progress, and lots of ogres clumping around, abusing power, abusing allies, violating international laws and treaties on trade, and generally trying to make America great by going back to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in their quest to make America Great Again. Could Trump bring back powdered wigs and frock coats to style?

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President Donald Trump listens as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
or drowning in the oceans of history
Traveling the world, you’re in search of no good
but I’m sure you’ll build your Sodom like you knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves…                        I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools
Where’s it comin’ from?
Where’s it goin’ to now?
It’s just a It’s just a ship of fools–Karl Edmond De Vere Wallinger

I have never thrown anything at a TV set, but last night I saw a bit of a Scott Pruitt interview, followed by a moment at a Cabinet Meeting where our only President, The Mighty Orangutan Manatee I, chose to take a couple of minutes of pre-meeting TV to talk about the what a wonderful job Pruitt is doing. My wife is the one who gets violent about Trump; I sit quietly, sharpening my Claymore and envisioning justice. But, last night my glass almost flew…

When Hannah Arendt published The Banality of Evil, her account and reflections on the Eichmann trial, much of the critique was about the idea of banality. Eichmann was a monster cavorting with other monsters. But, the critiques may have missed the point. The banality of bureaucracy, centralized planning, scheduling, tracking reports and such early applications of management principles enabled the Nazis to be so effective in their horror. You organize ogres into operational cadres, and you can create some real horror.

In the Trump administration, there are very few examples of progress, and lots of ogres clumping around, abusing power, abusing allies, violating international laws and treaties on trade, and generally trying to make America great by going back to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in their quest to make America Great Again. Could Trump bring back powdered wigs and frock coats to style? Perhaps he might, if enough people produce pictures of him looking a bit like George Washington.

Thirty years ago, I was a First Sergeant in the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. One of my young NCOs referred to a problem soldier as “The Hyena.” “What do you mean by that, Schoonmaker?” “First Sergeant, he’s got no shoulders, a long neck, and makes strange noises under pressure. Just like a hyena.” Well, I asked and…he was right.

So, Scott Pruitt is THE Okie Hyena. 

Now, Scott Pruitt never met a petrochemical he didn’t like. When he was AG in Oklahoma, his sole focus seemed to be getting more fracking done, damn the earthquakes and start pumping that poison into the aquifer, what’s the worst that can happen! He spent a lot of time and money suing the EPA. Oklahoma spent a lot of time and money repairing earthquake damage to schools, assisted living facilities, streets and so on. No one contributed more to the Pruitt political success than the Oil and Gas “Bidness” No single appointment better represents the Trump philosophy toward appointments than that of Pruitt as EPA head.

One of the highlights of the Hitler regime was Hermann Goering and his excessive looting of government for his own benefit. Goering was a lot of awful things but he was definitely not banal. When he did something awful — stealing artwork, gold, land — he did it on a big scale. The German people would read about Goering’s pet lion, and decide that he was just a really fun guy. It covered up the use of slave labor and related nefariousness. Goering was vulgar, obscene, and a drug addict but he wasn’t banal.


Pruitt seems to be looting the government and seeking more and more perks but at such a petty level that you have to wonder whether or not this might not be the Okie version of Sarah Palin Snowbilly Grifter routine. Some of his “official” stunts — $35K for a veritable “cone of silence” or mini-SCIF in his office, tripling the size of his security force, and demanding that the security detail use sirens and lights to get him to his dinner reservations on time — are clearly low rent efforts at self-aggrandizing. Hopefully the Congress will find enough common sense to demand an audit of that sort of stuff; I’m not sure how many TS/SCI briefings, papers, conversations the director of the EPA has, but since his main goal is to have them do nothing except clear the way for more environmental rape and destruction, I suspect basically none. Is the Oval Office a SCIF?

I find the use of the sirens and lights irritating and stupid. Picture the three or four SUV convoy racing down K street in the middle of rush hour, sirens blaring, lights flashing and people jumping out of the way so Pruitt and friends can get to Chick-fil-A for a light dinner?

Huh? Chick-fil-A?…this is where it begins to cross over from stupid abuses of power to outright misuse of government authority and some really strange aspects of pay to play. Scottie P’s wife has a brainstorm and decides to tell Bubba that she wants a Chick-fil-A franchise back in Tulsa. Pruitt tells one of his staffers — possibly the one he brought from Tulsa and forced an unapproved, unfunded perhaps, 52% pay raise for — to get him a meet with the CEO of CfA so he can discuss getting his wife a franchise.

The CEO of Chik-fill-A stiffs the EPA director, but somebody else takes the meeting with Pruitt, and the EPA director walks away with an application for the franchise. The wife gets it and starts to fill it out and then says, “Oh, Jesus doesn’t want me to sell chicken sandwiches, he wants me to sell earthquake insurance” or words to that effect, and doesn’t complete it. Pruitt gets ratted out by someone on his staff which is as much a revolving door as the rest of the administration, and when caught wandering the halls of Congress by a member of the press with a cameraman in tow, he delivers a speech that probably made Will Rogers want to climb out of his tomb and take his rope tricks and patter to the nearest TV talk show to defend the people of his state.

It is amazing. A lot of the video that comes from the fools, clowns and “moe-rons” of this administration is amazing, but this is one for the ages.

“With great change comes, I think, opposition…” is in effect blaming Trump’s election for his wife’s need to run a chicken fast food shop, and equating this self-dealing solicitation of a bribe with appointing John Bolton as National Security Advisor. I particularly like the bit about being a “franchise of faith” which I thought applied primarily to wedding chapels in Nevada and religious book stores. Are the chickens kosher? Does the fry cook pray? When they pass out the samples at malls in Tulsa, do the employees say “Have a Blessed Day?” Is the Trump insurgence really driven by the need for more fast food chicken in Tulsa? Or the rest of Oklahoma?

Writing about Pruitt for any length makes my skin crawl. If you’re curious about more of his exploits — sending members of his security team visiting hotel gift shops to find his favorite moisturizer is a recent revelation, because the EPA administrator loves hotel cosmetics, they feel so classy! CNN has a good piece originally in April and kept updated on line. If you need more evidence that the guy is abusing power, wasting government funds, self-dealing and has a vastly over-inflated view of his importance to the universe, check out this WAPO summary of his fun and games thus far along

 

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Mike Farrell

Michael is a Retired Army First Sergeant, retired Corporate HR Executive, Occasional Adjunct Professor of Management, Organizational Effectiveness Free Range Consultant, Stoic Philosopher of sorts, Proud Heritage Irish Catholic Apostate...

He went from turning down fellowships to Graduate School after Holy Cross to Fort Jackson and a guy with few teeth from Georgia screaming at me to move his ass! And he enlisted after the draft ended. Twenty-three years active duty from 1974 to 1997 flipping between duty as REMF-Unit designated Grunt to Grunt Unit designated Smart Guy.

Last ten years either an Operations Sergeant Major (4 years) or First Sergeant (6 years). Made the CSM list a week after retirement papers went in.

He went into Human Resources because people said it was like being a First Sergeant.

Michael is retired these days, with time to think, write and occasionally enjoy life a bit. He reads five papers every day, lots of books on what interests me and pays attention. He has basic Socialist leanings. He is also a musician - fifty years plus with a guitar. Ex-marathon runner now lifting weights and grunting a lot to stay sort of in shape.

Michael is deadly serious about the issues but he likes to present with a lot of dry humor and satire. He discomforts the rich, offends the powerful and laughs at the pompous. So, stay awake and pay attention, or you'll miss the jokes.

He refers to himself as a Progressive with an anarchist tendency. Think Bobby Kennedy Democrat at home with Sinn Fein; either a saintly advocate of sweet reason and justice or an arrogant self-righteous SOB with a traditional First Sergeant's vulgar mouth and dislike of anyone's rules but his own. That's Michael Farrell