The U.S. Secret Service Will Never Stop A Real Attack (7-21-24)

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I Didn’t See One Good Faith MSM Article Describing Failures By Trump’s Female Agents Last Saturday

When the shots rang out last Saturday, at least two of the female agents around Trump ducked for cover, while the male security stood up. One female agent, the fat one, hid behind Trump. When I try to search for a picture of this, Google won’t present me with one. I had to go to X and then the image came up immediately:

Google seems to be suppressing damaging photos of female agent incompetence. If you put in “female agents ducking during Trump shooting” or similar searches, you won’t find any relevant image results in the first 100 pictures.

The New York Times and the Washington Post ran stories about right-wing complaints regarding Trump’s female agents, but none of the stories presented the damning examples of the ineptitude.

Washington Post:

Right-wing influencers use Trump assassination attempt to attack DEI

Diversity and inclusion efforts have become a popular target for conservatives online.

Within hours of the shooting at the Trump rally in Pennsylvania, right-wing media pundits and conservative influencers coalesced around an unfounded narrative on social media: the reason Donald Trump was injured was because of female Secret Service agents and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The unsubstantiated accusation arose after photos and edited videos featuring female Secret Service agents spread online, along with allegations that the assassination attempt on Trump happened because the head of the Secret Service, Kimberly Cheatle, is a woman. Conservative media pundit Ann Coulter promoted a petition calling for the firing of Cheatle, citing the Secret Service chief’s goal of increasing the number of female agents to 30 percent.

“Absolute humiliation for this gaggle of female Secret Service Agents,” right-wing content creator Benny Johnson captioned one video on X, writing lower down in the post that “DEI Secret Service make Presidents LESS Safe.” The post was viewed nearly 9 million times.

I don’t think anyone on the right was claiming that Trump was injured because of female Secret Service agents. They noted that their work around Trump after the shooting looked shoddy. There is no good security reason for the fat agent to hide behind Trump.

Trump does not want obese agents. A typical liberal talking point is that Trump chooses his security detail. I don’t think so. According to the book, Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service:

Trump… remained obsessed with getting overweight agents removed from their posts when he saw them at the White House or working near him on presidential events. “I want these fat guys off my detail,” Trump told advisers, who felt the president might be confusing officers with agents. “How are they going to protect me and my family if they can’t run down the street?”

New York Times:

After Trump Assassination Attempt, Right Points Finger at Female Agents

The rush by conservatives to pin blame for the shooting on women in the protective detail reflects a broader opposition among Republicans to diversity efforts in hiring.

In the hours after the attempted assassination of former President Donald J. Trump, a sexist theory explaining how the Secret Service could have allowed such a grave security failure emerged in right-wing circles: It was the fault of incompetent women in his security detail.

“Look, I’m not sure about who the individuals are on the individual detail, Secret Service, but I can tell you under this Biden administration, the one thing I’ve seen is massive D.E.I. hires,” Representative Cory Mills of Florida said on Fox News, referring to diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

“And I can tell you when you primarily, when you primarily go after D-E-I,” Mr. Mills continued, “you end up with D-I-E.”

Benny Johnson, a right-wing commentator, was more blunt in a social media post viewed nearly 9 million times: “Absolute humiliation for this gaggle of female Secret Service Agents,” he wrote in a post that showed the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, adding: “DEI Secret Service make Presidents LESS Safe.”

From an overwhelmingly male phalanx of agents guarding Mr. Trump that day, these critics pointed out a trio — visibly shorter than their peers and with their hair pulled back in a bun, a ponytail and with hairpins, respectively, as they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the former president — for criticism. Video of their movements, including a moment in which one visibly struggled to holster a weapon, has fueled an outcry among conservatives who have pinned the agency’s failings on its women, suggesting they were only hired to diversify the predominantly male organization.

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Is Honor A Virtue In Liberalism?

I’m thinking about the Corey Comperatore story. Would a liberal husband be as quick and eager to sacrifice his life for his family as a conservative? Would a husband be as quick and eager to sacrifice his life for his wife’s if she was a feminist?

I’m not aware of the concept of honor playing a big role in any of liberalism’s important texts.

Rony Guldmann writes in his forthcoming book, Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression:

* Ralph Peters observes that the Obama administration was blindsided by the outrage provoked by its decision to release five terrorist prisoners in exchange for the return of one Sergeant Bergdahl, who was reported to have deserted his post in Afghanistan before being captured by a Taliban-allied group. The administration’s surprise, writes Peters, reflected “a fundamental culture clash” betokening the administration’s contempt for Americans “so dumb” as to join the military rather than attending Harvard. Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice praised Bergdahl for serving “with honor and distinction.” But she failed to appreciate that desertion is among the very worst transgressions a soldier can commit against his comrades, and is not at all like “sleeping in on Monday morning and ducking Gender Studies 101.” The problem wasn’t just the strategic wisdom of the prisoner exchange, but the cultural values which it ratified, the imposition of liberal norms to the detriment of military virtue.

* Dissenting in United States v. Virginia, which held unconstitutional the Virginia Military Institute’s policy of excluding women, Justice Scalia wrote that “[i]n an odd sort of way, it is precisely VMI’s attachment to such old-fashioned concepts as manly ‘honor’ that has made it, and the system it represents, the target of those who today succeed in abolishing public single-sex education.”151Writing for the Court, Justice Ginsburg had assumed the posture of the hard-nosed technocrat painstakingly scrutinizing the facts before her, asking how much evidence is required to prove that women cannot adapt to a VMI education. But Justice Scalia’s suggestion is that the narrow terms of Equal Protection review conceal the true stakes. Those who pushed to overturn VMI’s historical traditions were concerned, not to uproot irrational preconceptions about women’s capabilities, but to advance an agenda of social engineering, to discredit an ideal that they despise as archaic and benighted. Manly honor is simply incompatible with a hygienic conception of life. Liberals will chalk up their reservations about “manly honor” to concerns about sexism and gender inequality. But conservative claimants of cultural oppression trace this high-mindedness to a specific cultural ethos. “It is male individuality, exuberance, and aggressiveness,” writes F. Carolyn Graglia, “that must be most stringently curbed and disciplined to meet the requirements of bureaucratic success.” Bureaucracies are “more hospitable to the effete, androgynous male who fits the feminist mold of manhood.”152Liberalsopposemanly honor, not to promote gender equality, but by virtue of their primordial attraction to the disciplined conformism of an institutional ethos. A hygienic conception of life cannot tolerate male individuality, exuberance, and aggressiveness, which are now condemned as dangerous atavisms that threaten our rational social order. Equal protection review is merely the ideological façade behind which liberalism targets these atavisms. Here as elsewhere, conservative claimants of cultural oppression see the political as emerging out of the ostensibly apolitical. Where the elites contrapose equality to inequality, conservatives see a contest between the elites’ supposedly higher civilization and the half-savage relics of past times, themselves. This deeper layer of social meaning explains the selectivity with which feminist principles are actually applied. Ingraham notes that while a global rap superstar can “get away with carrying out a simulated rape of a young woman on the stage, ”such shenanigans would have provoked a deafening outcry from elites had they been performed by American soldiers stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Inevitably, the performance would be cited as incontrovertible evidence of the military’s misogynistic culture.

* The pre-modern world was one that inverted the existentialist motto, so that essence precedes existence, a world in which one’s power to define the meaning of one’s life is shaped and constrained by an objective order of things, the background against which people made sense of themselves as agents. Living a full life meant recognizing one’s place within this order, which in turn meant acknowledging one’s dependence on it. For the success of one’s life was a function of whether it instantiated this order. This pre-modern “order of things” could be rejected rather than embraced. Hence the possibility of sin or dishonor. But it could not be disregarded, because one was then defined by sin or dishonor.

* the early modern theorists saw commercial prosperity as an antidote to the temptations of vainglory. Just as the people would be ruled by the ruler, so the ruler would be ruled by his interests—which had now been set in opposition to mere passions like honor, with all their arbitrariness, idiosyncrasy, and unpredictability. In a similar vein, Robert Kagan notes that liberalism could have harnessed individual egoism to commercial expansion only by first overcoming an older order grounded in “intangible goods” like the glory of the king, the honor of the nobles, or the republican virtues of pagan antiquity.13The dismissal of “intangible goods” as mere vainglory is part and parcel of the repudiation of anthropocentricity and the rise of the disengaged subject who can “step back” from inherited teleologies. Whereas commercial expansion can be measured non-anthropocentrically, honor and glory presuppose thicker cosmologies, an intuitive sense of things’ significance that counts as irredeemably subjective within the modern naturalistic worldview.

* Liberals’ exasperation over conservatives’ preoccupation with “intangible” or “merely symbolic” goods like national honor, the moral fiber of society, and so forth is merely the latest iteration of the social ideals by which the modern age has always set itself against a benighted teleological past. The sharp dichotomization between the “symbolic” and the “substantive” is simply one way of articulating the subtraction account-driven contraposition between superstitious pre-moderns self-indulgently succumbing to the allure of inherited teleological regimes and self-critical moderns with the discipline to resist these temptations. To borrow from Hirschman, where conservatives are governed by the passions, liberals are governed by the interests.

* The targets of the elites’ “ordering impulses” were once the borderline paganism of those fascinated by charged objects, the peasantry’s predilection for malingering at the expense of productive labor and village-consciousness at the expense of nation-consciousness, its raucous and often violent street carnivals, and most importantly the honor ethic of the warrior classes, whose vainglorious impulses were incompatible with the smooth functioning of a commercial society.

* Lamenting the gender integration of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) ordered by the Supreme Court in United States v. Virginia, Justice Scalia concluded his dissent by remarking that it was “powerfully impressive” that a public institution would require all first-year students to keep VMI’s “Code of the Gentlemen” on their person. The Code, part of which Justice Scalia includes in his opinion, specifies: “Without a strict observance of the fundamental Code of Honor, no man, no matter how ‘polished,’ can be considered a gentleman. The honor of a gentleman demands the inviolability of his word, and the incorruptibility of his principles. He is the descendant of the knight, the crusader; he is the defender of the defenseless and the champion of justice…or he is not a Gentleman.”

* …honor is, as Peter Berger observes, as little respected in contemporary culture, and especially among intellectuals, as is chastity. Honor and chastity are both atavisms in a modern society, dismissed “as ideological leftovers in the consciousness of obsolete classes, such as military officers or ethnic grandmothers.” Whereas insult to honor was once deemed a serious social, and possibly legal, offense, someone who now fights to defend his honor will be seen as neurotic, abnormally sensitive, or hopelessly provincial. These judgments are now the received wisdom. After all, honor cannot be translated into non-anthropocentric terms. And this is what enables liberals to dismiss “traditional values” like honor as so much empty bluster, the symptoms of emotional conflict and intellectual confusion rather than genuine goods.

[Peter Berger:] “In a world of honor, the individual discovers his true identity in his roles, and to turn away from the roles is to turn away from himself—in “false consciousness,” one is tempted to add. In a world of dignity, the individual can only discover his true identity by emancipating himself from his socially imposed roles—the latter are only masks, entangling him in illusion, “alienation” and “bad faith.””

* The problem for the conservative is that he still clings to a world of honor, whether this be through the Code of the Gentleman, the preternaturally clean-cut look of conservative think tank interns, the patriotism of Sarah Palin rally attendees, or any number of other ways. And this is the ultimate source of liberal animus. The liberal’s reaction to the Gentleman will be informed not primarily by what he does or believes, but by what he is. The Gentleman’s original sin isn’t his chauvinism or classism, but the form of consciousness that facilitates these qualities, his indisposition toward the disengagement that would compel him to see through his sense of honor, to see through his hero-system.

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Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service

Carol Leonnig writes in this 2021 book:

* [Delta Force sergeant:] “I feel sorry for you guys. The Service has really let you down. You’ll never be able to stop a real attack.”
It wasn’t the answer Gable had hoped for, and as he listened to John dissect the Service’s outdated equipment and spotty training, his stomach grew queasy. Deep down, he knew how ill – equipped and out of date the Secret Service was, but hearing it articulated by someone he respected made it impossible to deny. His mind drifted to all the times he had seen the Service drop the ball — most recently, a 2010 trip to Mumbai with President Obama, in which his unit had narrowly avoided a major international incident after nearly killing an unidentified gunman who turned out to be a local police officer. Scenarios like these were dress rehearsals for a real attack on the president, and in his five years with CAT, he had seen the Service fail so many of them.
Gable was now faced with a brutal truth: Increasingly, the Secret Service was fulfilling its Zero Fail mission based not on its skills, people, training, or technology, but on dumb luck. How long would it be before that luck ran out? Gable wasn’t alone. He knew other dedicated agents who felt a growing sense of disillusionment, especially with the agency’s leadership. But fear of repercussions had kept them silent. Until the stakes got too high.

* A rigid management structure that inspires discipline while also inciting resentment and rebellion. An organization whose performance standards are far higher — and whose morale and personal conduct standards are, at times, far lower — than those of any other federal agency. A working battalion whose members often sacrifice a normal life and push themselves to exhaustion to deliver on a near – impossible mission, slaving for some leaders who look after themselves first and fail to make the bold choices that could help support their corps.
My goal is to offer a behind – the – scenes look at an organization saddled with a never – ending struggle to improve its reputation, boost its resources, and raise its morale. In perhaps the ultimate irony, I present an agency that seems to improve only in the wake of the thing it is sworn to prevent: tragedy.
In the last six decades, the Secret Service has grown from three hundred agents and a $5 million budget to seven thousand agents, officers, and other staff and a budget of over $2.2 billion. Its mission has expanded as well. Instead of protecting one leader, the agency now shields his extended family, many of his deputies, and even his political opponents. It focuses not just on stopping a bullet but also on blocking a drone carrying poison gas, a cyberattack throttling the nation’s energy grid, and any threat to a stadium of spectators watching the Super Bowl. This kind of mission growth could prove challenging to any organization. But the Service hasn’t just suffered growing pains. By its own staff’s measures, the agency’s standards and capacity to fulfill its core assignment have been slipping for years, raising several crucial questions:
How did the Secret Service go from an elite, hardworking band of patriots vowing to do whatever it takes to protect future presidents in the wake of JFK’s assassination, to a frat boy culture of infighting, indulgence, and obsolescence?
…for three years running had recently been ranked as the most hated place to work in the federal government?

* Kennedy kept up an unrelenting pace compared to his predecessors, and it pushed his detail close to exhaustion. He was also extremely reckless with his own personal safety. His actions made some of his protectors uneasy and a few quite angry. The agents on his detail liked the new president personally, but professionally, he was their toughest assignment yet.

* The president himself wanted less protection. While Kennedy was always cordial to his agents, he resented the limits they tried to place on his ability to interact with the public. Kennedy regularly bounded headlong into crowds of strangers to shake hands, ignoring the Secret Service’s script without even a nod to his detail. As he told his detail leaders many times, he couldn’t very well be a politician without meeting the people.

* When the Kennedy entourage returned to Washington, however, Salinger gently suggested to the president that he think of his own safety and avoid going into crowds without his agents. But Kennedy dismissed the idea that anyone, including the Secret Service, could keep him from a determined assassin. “ If anyone is crazy enough to want to kill a president of the United States, he can do it,” Kennedy told his spokesman. “All he must be prepared to do is give his life for the president’s.”

* Kennedy gave his protective squad the slip on several late nights in Washington. He headed off the White House complex incognito, ducking into an unmarked car with his brother or a friend and returning in the wee hours of the morning. Agents could guess the reason, but Rowley and his team worried. For several hours, the Secret Service didn’t know where the president of the United States was.
Kennedy courted this sort of danger, trying to feed a seemingly insatiable appetite for sexual conquest, but members of his detail feared that within the sea of random women he met for trysts, one would try to blackmail, poison, or kill him.

* McIntyre tried to make light of the president’s sexual dalliances at first, joking with other agents, “What happens if one bites him?” But eventually he stood witness to a steady parade of secretaries, starlets, and even prostitutes escorted to the president’s bedroom — in hotels and in his private residence. The Secret Service agents, who scrutinized the background of anyone who met privately with the president, weren’t allowed to so much as ask the women’s names.

* The night shift became accustomed to random female visitors arriving at the president’s private quarters, often on the arm of longtime Kennedy aide and friend David Powers. Afternoon shift members who were about to go off duty at 10 p.m. gave their shift leaders a discreet and terse status report on Kennedy’s nighttime guests.
“As we were about to go off shift, we’d explain, ‘So – and – so brought in a blonde,’ ” a former detail agent said. “Or, ‘Just so you know, boss, there are two guests in the room.’”
“You wanted to tell the midnight shift the situation,” the former detail member said. “The point of it was, if [the woman] didn’t come out by about 4 a.m., you were going to start to worry.”

* U.S. intelligence officials warned that Cuban and Soviet operatives hoped to blackmail or even kill the president. Agents on the detail privately theorized that the best way to infiltrate the White House would be to send a good – looking young woman.
“We were in the middle of the Cold War, for Christ’s sake,” Newman said. “We anguished over the possibility of that happening. We were instructed, nobody was to go in that door, but the job was not done. Because we failed. We had to acquiesce to a form of behavior that was dangerous — not to us, but to the country and to the protection of the president.”
“We took an oath….Nobody goes into his office unless we clear them. Then there we are watching Dave Powers bring some women up to the suite and just walk right in.”

* THAT TUESDAY MORNING, November 12, Miami special agent Robert Jamison couldn’t tell whether the Georgia Klansman on the police tape recording was exaggerating or telling the truth. But his claim on the tape was unnerving. The man said he knew of a plan in the works to assassinate President Kennedy.
Joseph Milteer, a wealthy organizer of white supremacist groups, had been on a road trip through the South and visited his childhood friend in his Miami apartment the previous weekend. He didn’t know that his friend was a police informant working undercover to infiltrate the Klan — and recording their chat.
Milteer had gotten to know some notoriously violent Klan leaders whom police suspected in a recent series of bombings and murders. Police had hoped their informant, William Somersett, could get his old friend Milteer talking…
“The more bodyguards he has, the easier it is to get him,” Milteer repeated.
“Well, how in the hell do you figure would be the best way to get him?” Somersett asked.
“From an office building with a high – powered rifle,” Milteer said.
“They are really going to try to kill him?” Somersett asked later.
“ Oh, yeah,” Milteer said. “It is in the working.”

* “Hitting this Kennedy is going to be a hard proposition,” Somersett said. “I believe you may have figured out a way to get him, the office building and all that. I don’t know how them Secret Service agents cover all them office buildings everywhere he is going. Do you know whether they do that or not?”
Milteer gave an accurate explanation of why an advance agent like Lawson would not check nearby buildings.
“Well, if they have any suspicion, they do that, of course,” he said. “But without suspicion, chances are that they wouldn’t.”
He was right. Given the Secret Service’s small size, it was impossible to check the hundreds of buildings along any motorcade route. If there was a reason to suspect a specific problem, or a structure was very close, buildings could be checked or shuttered, as Lawson had done in Binghamton. But otherwise, the agents would do nothing about the buildings they passed.

* Nine Kennedy detail agents headed to the Fort Worth Press Club in a nearby hotel, which reporters said was staying open late to serve light dinner and drinks for the traveling press. The sandwiches were all gone by the time the agents arrived, though, so they joined reporters for a few scotch and sodas and glasses of beer. Sometime after 1 a.m., press club president Cal Sutton told the group he had to shut down the party. It was against the law for the club to serve alcohol after midnight. So a reporter in the group called over to the Cellar, a legendary and slightly scandalous nightspot, and reached manager Richard Mackie. Could he bring over some fellow reporters, some Secret Service agents, and some White House people who were in town with the president?
Led by CBS News cub reporter Bob Schieffer and other members of the press, nine agents went on to the Cellar. Four of them — Clint Hill, Jack Ready, Glen Bennett, and Paul Landis — were scheduled to report for duty first thing the next morning. The men found a curious, dimly lit bar that was part gentlemen’s club, part beatnik coffee house. It was unlike any other bar they had seen in Washington. Some of the waitresses wore the skimpiest of outfits, more like bras and panties than clothes. The Cellar didn’t have a license to sell alcohol, but its owners kept hard liquor behind the bar and often served free “specials” — grain alcohol in fruit juices and other mixers — to friends. For club owner Pat Kirkwood, a wiry daredevil who wore cowboy apparel, those “friends” included anyone he felt might be useful to him: “all pretty girls, all reporters, all cops.”

* In the course of the night, three agents on the midnight shift took breaks from securing the stuffy hotel hallway outside the president’s suite to check out the Cellar too. Kirkwood heard some agents giggling about leaving their posts. “ The firemen are guarding the president over at the Hotel Texas!” one said to a roar of laughter.
Hill headed back to the hotel around 2:45 a.m., and Ready and Bennett followed close behind at around three. Landis, who was single, ended up talking late into the night with a woman in the club, and left around five.
Secret Service regulations prohibited White House detail agents from drinking “intoxicating liquor of any kind” on the road. After all, they could be called for duty at any time when the president was traveling. But the rule was roundly ignored, in favor of letting grown men use their own judgment.

* I knew I should have been on the back of the car! Hill thought. His body could have kept the assassin from getting a clean shot.
But Hill appeared to be the only agent who immediately connected that first sound to an attack on the president. Landis and Ready, the two agents on the right – side running boards, turned to look back over their right shoulders, scanning the spectators and buildings for the source of the sound.

* Roy Kellerman, forty – eight, the ranking supervisor on the Dallas trip, turned around in his right front passenger seat to look back into the rear of the limo. He couldn’t immediately figure the source of the noise. Greer, the driver, thought maybe a motorcycle had backfired. He reflexively pulled his foot off the gas. Some police escorts on motorcycles thought they saw the limo’s brake lights flash red. Whatever the reason, the limousine slowed as Greer awaited instructions from Kellerman.
Looking back, Kellerman heard the unmistakable Boston accent of the president: “My God, I am hit.”
Kellerman saw the president’s hands clutching his neck. The senior supervisor paused just a few seconds, trying to figure out what was happening. A second shot rang out.
Hill didn’t hear it. With the first shot, he had jumped off the follow – up car and was now running for the back of the limo. He stumbled, then grabbed hold of the trunk handle. A third shot rang out, which Hill not only heard but felt. The right side of the president’s head exploded, a pinkish spray rising up near his ear, and he slumped over on his left side onto his wife.
Mrs. Kennedy wailed, “Oh my God, Jack! Jack! What are they doing to you?”
Landis hadn’t connected the first two shots to the president. But he turned back in time to see the impact of the third. The sound was sickening, he thought. Like someone had shot into a melon for target practice. “I saw pieces of flesh and blood flying through the air and the president slumped out of sight towards Mrs. Kennedy,” Landis later said.

* Hill, with his feet on the rear steps of the accelerating limo and his hands holding tight to the upright handles on the trunk, found Mrs. Kennedy inexplicably coming in his direction. Standing on the bloodied backseat cushions, she stretched her torso and right arm out over the car’s trunk. She looked blankly, straight through Hill. She reached out to retrieve something on the shiny black metal of the trunk’s lid — a small chunk of her husband’s brain and skull.
Hill pressed the First Lady back into her seat and spread his body across the back of the wide convertible to shield the couple.
Only six or seven seconds had passed since Hill heard the first shot. Peering down into the limo, he saw blood, as well as gray and white bits of flesh and brain, splattered over the backseat, Mrs. Kennedy, and the Connallys. The governor, the back of his shirt inked with blood, had fallen over from his waist onto his wife.

* The president was slumped lifeless on his left side on his wife’s lap, his gaze fixed. Hill could see Kennedy’s brain through a golf – ball – sized hole in the right side of his head. A small piece of skull with hair still attached sat on the car floor.
Hill looked back to his brethren in the follow – up car, his face contorted with anguish. He shook his head back and forth and gave his teammates a thumbs – down sign. Hill felt sure the president was dead or close to it.
“They got him. They got him,” Roberts shouted into the air.

* But after [Joseph] Clancy quietly told President Obama one day when they were alone that he was interested in staying on, the decision was all but made. Having his first detail leader back in charge sounded great to the president — and to Michelle Obama. Cockell’s instincts had been right.

* President Obama announced Clancy as his permanent new director, rejecting the recommendation of the expert panel he had personally appointed to suggest reforms to fix the Service. The panel, including two lawyers who had worked for Obama, urged the president to choose an outsider as the next leader, saying it was the only way to get the Service to ditch its old, insular ways. “ Only a director from outside the Secret Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top – to – bottom reassessment this will require,” the report found.

* Even Clancy’s fans worried about his ability to right the ship, however. At sixty – one, he had never worked in headquarters, so he lacked experience in back – of – the – house operations. He avoided confrontation, and throughout his career had warned subordinates not to try to improve on the old, proven ways. He had long – standing bonds with the leadership group that had brought the agency to this worrisome precipice.

* crowd roared in approval.
While Trump basked in the applause, he was also getting fed up. As he spoke, small clusters of protesters had interrupted him several times. A few weeks earlier, Trump had complained about some of these noisy detractors and urged his fans to “just knock the crap out of them.” Now, deep into his thirty – five – minute speech in this Kentucky convention center, Trump spotted a protester who had hoisted a mocking sign that showed Trump’s face photoshopped onto the body of a pig. Trump’s fuse blew, sparking a firestorm in the crowd.
“Get ’em the hell out of here,” Trump snarled into his microphone, pointing at the protester. “Get ’em out! Get ’em out!”
A scowling group of white men obediently rushed forward to surround the twenty – one – year – old Black woman carrying the sign and yank it out of her hands. For the next two minutes, Kashiya Nwanguma was threatened and shoved like a rag doll across the crowded floor of the Kentucky International Convention Center… On that day, neither Secret Service agents nor local police had come to Nwanguma’s rescue. They had been busy in another section of the convention center, rushing to separate another protester from a man who had punched him in the stomach. That vision of a Black woman being shoved by angry white men harked back to the ugly civil rights wars of the 1950s and 1960s, when lines of angry whites cursed Black students trying to enter a public school. This Kentucky rally came to typify the explosive nature of the Trump campaign events. It was a cause of great stress, and also some embarrassment within the Secret Service.

[Luke: Disrupters don’t have a right to interrupt. There’s nothing wrong with removing them. There’s nothing wrong with angry white people shoving a disrupting black woman or any other disrupter. It’s not the Secret Service’s job nor the police’s to protect a non-existent right to disrupt inside an event.]

* Working detail agents fretted over the security risks that Trump created on the campaign trail, and they were annoyed that he continued to keep his personal security chief Keith Schiller at his side. The private security team Schiller led focused on removing loud protesters at events, but Schiller hovered close to the candidate like a personal bodyguard, and agents feared he would one day get in the way at the wrong time.

* Despite the chaos, members of the Secret Service were privately cheering Trump’s political message about cracking down on criminals and immigrants. Many in the agency leaned conservative politically anyway because of their law enforcement roots, and often voted Republican. A good number had been quietly rooting against Hillary Clinton, sharing jokes about what a nightmare she would be in the Oval Office. As a First Lady and secretary of state, she had earned such a bad reputation in the agency that it was hard to separate separate the reality from the lore. Some agents who had been on her protective details over the years swore she had refused to speak to them, scolded them for poor route selection when driving her to an event, and called the director to lodge complaints about them. Trump, by contrast, was normally playing bro to the agents, joshing with them about the “crazies” who showed up to boo and hiss at his rallies.

* One of the Service’s highest – ranking women supervisors, Kerry O’Grady, was aghast at Trump’s behavior… After The Washington Post released a video recording on October 7 in which Trump bragged that he could grab women “by the pussy” without asking, O’Grady couldn’t contain her building feelings. …she wrote a private Facebook post that many agents would later call a dereliction of duty but which she considered the rational response to a dangerous candidate like none the Service had protected before.
O’Grady, a twenty – three – year veteran of the agency, wrote that she realized publicly endorsing Clinton could be a violation of the law that prohibited government servants from taking partisan positions. “But this world has changed and I have changed,” O’Grady wrote. “And I would take jail time over a bullet or an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here. Hatch Act be damned. I am with Her.”
O’Grady would ultimately beat this downgrade, and the latent campaign against her. She believed Trump was pressuring the agency to fire her; she and her lawyer insisted to a judge they wanted the Service to turn over all communication between the White House and the Secret Service about her. The Service had long resisted any settlement talks, but they quickly settled the case after hearing this request. O’Grady retired.
O’Grady’s suggestion that she didn’t want to “take a bullet” was anathema to the Service’s ethos of protecting whoever was duly elected.

[That’s not the type of person I’d want working in the Secret Service. Anyone upset about Trump’s private comments about grabbing women who wanted him by the pussy is a pussy. That the Secret Service couldn’t even discipline her is a disgrace.]

* But agents and alums outraged at her anti – Trump sentiments weren’t equally offended by agents who expressed racist views or personal and political disgust with Hillary Clinton.

[There’s a world of difference between sharing private views and publishing them for the world to see.]

* The Secret Service was still overwhelmingly an agency of cops who preferred long prison sentences for bad guys rather than sentencing reform, who, like Trump, tended to speak dismissively about women, minorities, and immigrants.

* Kelly was horrified as he watched the tapes showing Tran’s breach and his long walk around what was supposed to be the most secure eighteen – acre property in the world.
The worst part came as Kelly saw the shoddy state of the so – called cutting – edge technology the Service had deployed to prevent any intrusion on the White House. Nearly every piece of it had failed in some way that night. A crucial sensor that normally detects movement coming over the fence line was on the fritz, so it never sounded an alarm to the Joint Operations Center. One of the motion – activated lights that were supposed to flash when someone crossed the White House grounds didn’t work. A camera in the eastern portion of the grounds where Tran entered wasn’t functioning properly. When an officer spotted Tran seventeen minutes later, the radio on his shoulder wasn’t working, so it never relayed his location to his fellow officers when he banged the radio switch to report that he had a possible suspect. They didn’t know he had found someone someone or where he was, so they couldn’t rush to him and provide backup.

Holy shit, this is bad, thought one of Kelly’s aides who was watching nearby. Kelly put his hand to his forehead and asked Callahan how in the world all of these systems could have failed. Callahan explained they had run out of money to repair some of these devices, but they hoped to eventually get the funds and get them repaired or replaced. Callahan and his deputies explained this was not the end of the world, because the Service had several duplicative layers of security on the grounds to protect against any single failure. Kelly just sat back for a minute, saying nothing. In this case, he reminded them, none of those extra layers, neither the officers nor the canines, had worked. Kelly saw a White House that was unacceptably vulnerable, and a Secret Service leadership that didn’t seem all that concerned. Callahan may not have worn it on his sleeve, but he did consider the breach a very serious one.

* Secret Service agents reported that [Don Jr’s ex-wife] Vanessa Trump had started dating one of the agents who had been assigned to her family. The agent didn’t face any repercussions, however. At that point, neither he nor the agency were her official guardians.

* Tiffany Trump, the daughter whom the president rarely mentioned as part of his family, had broken up with her boyfriend from college. In the aftermath, she began spending an unusual amount of time alone with a Secret Service agent on her detail. Service leadership became concerned at how close Tiffany appeared to be getting to the tall, dark, and handsome agent.

* Trump was pleased to see Mindy O’Donnell gone. But he remained obsessed with getting overweight agents removed from their posts when he saw them at the White House or working near him on presidential events. “I want these fat guys off my detail,” Trump told advisers, who felt the president might be confusing officers with agents. “How are they going to protect me and my family if they can’t run down the street?”

* The level of protection provided for Trump Tower wasted money and manpower the Service could ill afford, and the burden of shielding a skyscraper where the president almost never stayed only compounded as the bills kept rolling in for the glitzy places Trump was frequently visiting instead.

* Democrats in Congress began demanding investigations of Trump’s travel costs and the burden it placed on the Secret Service. The increasing media focus on the trips was starting to worry prominent Republicans.

* Trump had a close and jovial relationship with agents on his detail, especially with the top supervisor who was about to become his special agent in charge, Tony Ornato. But there was no way any supervisory agents were going to second – guess the president on his choices. Kelly tried to recommend fewer trips, explaining to Trump that this travel was forcing the Service to cut back on other parts of its work, but Trump’s only response was “Just work it out, okay?”

* Camp David was a forty – minute helicopter ride away, as well as being a naval base permanently protected by Marines and other Navy units, thus eliminating the need for most of the Secret Service officers and agents to fly in to stand guard as a human barrier around the property. But Trump, who had opted for marble bathrooms and gold leaf adorning his own homes, found the woodsy retreat in the Catoctin Mountains boring.
“ Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it,” Trump said with a smidge of sarcasm, talking to a European journalist just before taking office. “You know how long you’d like it? For about thirty minutes.”

* Democrats pointed out to Alles all the ways the president was shortchanging his agents and their zero – fail mission at a time when the Service was still in recovery, facing a new degree of burnout from Trump duty, and still losing employees faster than it could hire them. The session got messy when Democrats on House Appropriations asked Alles to justify $26 million to protect a tower where the president didn’t live, and which his wife would soon depart.

* Secret Service is Going Broke Protecting Trump. Trump saw his Secret Service director essentially blaming him for his protection team’s empty coffers.

* …the financial problem could be attributed directly to the current administration, and more specifically to a president who made decisions without any concern for cost or consequences. In his eight months as president, Donald Trump had forced the Secret Service to shepherd him on trips to his resorts for golf trips on twenty – six out of thirty weekends. His family members had made roughly 650 out – of – town trips. The Service was working twelve times as many such trips with Trump and his family as they had with Obama and his.

* Trump never took notice of alarming bipartisan reports warning that the Secret Service was “an agency in crisis,” in desperate need of new blood to replace leadership that had grown adept at covering up problems rather than solving them and whose staff had dropped to its lowest level in a decade. He didn’t heed the warnings that the Service would continue to suffer — and falter — unless the next administration ponied up hundreds of millions of additional dollars every year to add 280 more agents, replace its outdated technology, and revive its moribund training programs.

* FOR THE FINAL year of his presidency, Trump requested a less than 1 percent increase in funds for the Service, and to cover the cost of inflation, his budget called for cutting $62 million from the funds that pay for overtime, travel expenses, relocations for promotions, repairs to the Service’s aging cars, and technology upgrades at the Joint Operations Center.

* The agent pointed to the Secret Service’s corrupt promotion system, which so closely resembles La Cosa Nostra’s that agents refer to being “made” when they win their first major promotion, normally orchestrated through horse trading among competing bosses. The agents scrambling to rise in the agency learn the importance of loyalty to their “family tree,” the first supervisors and teammates who backed them, even if it requires later covering up for their misconduct or mistakes.

* Finally, the Service’s rewards system provides no incentive for bosses to make tough choices or long – term plans, he said. Managers relentlessly chase the next promotion, the mark of their loyalty. The rapid turnover in assignments — sometimes every eighteen months — discourages managers from taking the risk of making a decision that could go badly when it can be left to the next guy to solve. Agents often use the same phrase to describe how quickly people pass through their offices on their way to the next rung of the ladder: “He was here for a cup of coffee” and then he was gone. As senior leaders near retirement, they race to cash in on their prestigious Secret Service résumé, often relying on the same family tree they obediently covered for, to help them land lucrative private security jobs at Fortune 500 corporations and giant Wall Street firms.

* While Donald Trump expressed interest in his detail agents’ lives and offered his gratitude for their hard work, Trump saw the larger Secret Service as he did any other federal agency: another tool at his disposal, one that could help him achieve his political goals. He wasn’t interested in the boring work of governing, to ensure the agency’s long – term health, and instead the employees of the Secret Service took a major hit for Trump. Rather than get the boost of money the previous administration and members of Congress had pledged, the Service — which turned 155 years old in 2020 — was stuck on the same hamster wheel, its staff racing to keep up with Trump’s jaunts, its agents waiting months to get paid for their extra sweat, its essential security system repairs delayed yet again. Trump was dragging the Secret Service back and forth to his properties for his rounds of golf, but they were ultimately pawns in a larger pattern with a lucrative payoff for Donald Trump. Yes, his travel was forcing the Secret Service, Defense Department, and other federal agencies to take money out of their pockets to support the president’s trips, and they handed a small portion of that over to the Trump organization. But something much bigger was under way and barely noticed. By traveling so often to his clubs, Trump was vacuuming up the money of not just the Secret Service and other federal agencies that secured his trips, but of everyone: scores of Republican politicians, corporate VIPs, special interest lobbyists, and foreign delegations, all of whom flocked to follow him, seeking an audience to curry his favor and paying his business for the special access.

* But that use of overwhelming force was roiling the staff of the Secret Service, with Black officers and agents demanding that their supervisors answer some hard questions. Part of their anger stemmed from a suggestion by a white officer, Joe Vadala, who had proposed that the agency use fire hoses in the future to keep protesters away from the mansion and reduce the risk of a breach. “Some said it was old school but ‘Old School’ works!” wrote Vadala, who had received awards for his life – saving reactions on the job. A flood of Black employees pelted the officer on the forum, insisting that his words were indicative of a Service aligned with the worst instincts of Donald Trump.
“There is no legal justification for ever using high – pressured hoses on American civilians exercising their First Amendment right to protest,” co – worker Rodney Grant wrote, reminding Vadala that they swore an oath to protect people’s constitutional rights. “History informs us that such tactics were used during the civil rights movement to terrorize, abuse and intimidate African – American men, women and children engaged in peaceful protest.”
“Can’t believe anyone would think that hosing people was an okay suggestion,” another wrote. “These types of ‘Old School’ thought processes is part of the reason we have the issues we have now.”

[LF: It doesn’t sound like diversity is a strength. There is no First Amendment right to invade the White House. If using water hoses keeps invaders at bay, that might be a good idea, even if water hoses at some previous point in time were not used correctly. Is there any method to deter criminal behavior that has not been used incorrectly? So we should stop using valid methods of crowd control if they hurt the feelings of the aggrieved?]

* Many minority officers felt Vadala’s fire hose proposal reflected a deeper racism within the agency. One staffer asked why agents and supervisors who made racist comments had been promoted.

[LF: What constitutes racism is subjective. Why do we encourage invocations of a non-existent moral category?]

* …on Saturday, November 7, Biden emerged the clear victor as final vote counts showed he won the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania and the networks declared him the presumed next president. Still, the Secret Service leadership declined to authorize the full protection detail that had always been provided to presidents – elect, a level of security approaching that of the president’s own. The director and his team took their lead from the White House, where Trump had blocked the normal peaceful transition of power, a feature of American democracy that had long been the envy of other nations. Because of the president’s insistence that he was the victim of some inexplicable fraud, Biden did not immediately receive the protective shield of a specially equipped armored car, a twenty – four – seven counterassault team, and a beefed – up detail with more veteran agents. The Service spread the word to confused agents that they simply had to wait until the results were truly official — when Trump conceded or when the votes were certified by the Electoral College. But many agents said this delay ignored the agency’s own security training: Once he became the presumptive president – elect, Biden was automatically a bigger target for assassination.

* The decision to withhold this extra security only compounded the Biden camp’s fears that Trump had corrupted this elite band. What few realized was that clusters of agents, including some on Trump’s detail, were openly rooting for Trump, a fact hiding in plain sight. On Facebook and other forums, some of these public servants who promised to be above party were promoting Trump’s debunked conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines tossing Trump votes and a stolen election. Their views would harden over the coming weeks and shock colleagues, as they cheered a president trying ever more desperate plots to overturn the results.

* Despite the heroism of their brothers in arms that day, some Secret Service personnel again took to social media in the days after January 6, empathizing with and defending the mission of the armed rioters who breached the Capitol — the same ones who had endangered the Pence agents and pummeled Capitol Police officers with metal pipes and bats.

* Given all the ways the Secret Service had enabled Trump in the last year — from enabling his authoritarian march across Lafayette Square to the murmured support in the ranks for overturning Biden’s election — it was understandable that the president – elect and his aides had doubts. Was the agency entrusted with Biden’s life fully committed to the assignment? So serious was this concern about Trump’s corrosive hold on the Secret Service that Biden transition advisers urged that the agency swap out all members of the Trump presidential detail before Biden’s inauguration. Headquarters agreed to a compromise. They would bring back some of the senior agents whom Biden knew well from his vice presidential detail and make them supervisors on his new presidential team. Biden advisers, meanwhile, laid plans to replace Murray in the first half of 2021. The incoming team was disturbed by a director who would allow the Service to be used in an authoritarian photo op and in campaign events that jeopardized the public and their own workers’ health, and let a top official cross over to a political role in the White House.

* ONE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION official who oversaw the agency and studied the Service’s vulnerabilities up close regretted the political stain Trump had left but was more disturbed at how Trump and several presidents before him had let the agency down. The person told me it wasn’t the staff’s fault that sensors on the White House fence line didn’t work, that the full replacement of an outdated White House fence hadn’t been completed nearly six years after a humiliating breach, that overworked detail agents had to use their own cars for lack of a reliable government fleet, that their leaders hadn’t fully equipped them for a bioweapon attack or a multilayered assault on the White House.

* Today, the Service remains spread dangerously thin. In addition to protecting a president and vice president and their families, and key senior leaders, the Service also protects hundreds of foreign leaders who visit the United States every year, investigates a broad range of financial crimes, assesses and investigates violent threats whether they are made in bars, in written letters, or on Twitter, researches the traits of school shooters to help communities prevent future attacks, helps local police track down missing and exploited children, and much more.

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JD Vance Is An Opportunist & That’s A Good Thing! (7-19-24)

Jon Stewart tells Bill O’Reilly July 19, 2024: “I am so fascinated by the patriotic fervor of of the Republican Party of the Republican conventions, the we the people of the Constitution, we are for freedom, we are for liberty: What is their acceptance of Victor Orban and Vladimir Putin? I don’t understand — you can say we stand for freedom, we stand for liberty, we stand for the Constitution and man, you know who’s doing it right? Putin and Orban… [Trump] has very clearly shown an affinity for the types of strong men and authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin like Victor Orban. Victor Orban was down at Mara Lago having a shrimp cocktail talking about here’s what you got to do with the Press.”

Christopher Caldwell wrote in 2019:

… sometime after Hungary joined the E.U. in 2004, this question of Europe’s borders had become complicated, legalistic, and obscured by what Orbán called “liberal babble.” Orbán now had to make a philosophical argument for why he should not be evicted from civilized company for carrying out what a decade before would have been considered the most basic part of his job. His Fidesz party had always belonged to the same political family that Merkel’s did—the hodgepodge of postwar conservative parties called “Christian Democracy.” Now, as Orbán spoke, it was clear the two were arguing from different centuries, opposite ideologies, and irreconcilable Europes.

“Hungary must protect its ethnic and cultural composition,” he said at Kötcse (which more or less rhymes with butcher). “I am convinced that Hungary has the right—and every nation has the right—to say that it does not want its country to change.” France and Britain had been perfectly within their prerogatives to admit millions of immigrants from the former Third World. Germany was entitled to welcome as many Turks as it liked. “I think they had a right to make this decision,” Orbán said. “We have a duty to look at where this has taken them.” He did not care to repeat the experiment.

…His dissent split Europeans into two clashing ideologies. With the approach in May 2019 of elections to the European Union parliament, the first since the migrant crisis, Europeans were being offered a stark choice between two irreconcilable societies: Orbán’s nationalism, which commands the assent of popular majorities, and Merkel’s human rights, a continuation of projects E.U. leaders had tried to carry out in the past quarter-century. One of these will be the Europe of tomorrow.

…At a January press conference, [Orban] interrupted a speechifying reporter by saying, “If I’ve counted correctly, that’s six questions,” then answered them in sequence with references to historical per capita income shifts, employment rates, demographic projections, and the like.

…Orbán believes that Western countries are in decline, and that they are in decline because of “liberalism,” which in his political vocabulary is a slur. He uses the word to describe the contemporary process of creating neutral social structures and a level playing field, usually in the name of rights.

This project of creating neutral institutions has two problems. First, it is destructive, because the bonds of affection out of which communities are built are—by definition—non-neutral. Second, it is a lie, because someone must administer this project, and administration, though advertised as neutral, rarely is. Some must administer over others.

Carried to its logical conclusion, liberalism will, in Orbán’s view, destroy Hungary. “It is not written in the great book of humanity that there must be Hungarians in the world,” he said in his State of the Nation address in February. “It is only written in our hearts—but the world cares nothing for that.” This sense that Hungary might be only one political miscalculation away from extinction is widely shared.

Victor Orban and Vladimir Putin want their countries to live. Nationalists find that easy to respect.

Why is Donald Trump so solicitous of Vladimir Putin and the leader in North Korea and so harsh with America’s allies?

Well, why do parents scream at their kids more than they scream at their enemies? Why does a bloke yell at his kid, who he loves more than anyone in the world, but then walking down the street, he’s polite to a thug with a gun? Because the thug with a gun is more likely to kill him than his kid.

Why does the woman with PMS make life for hell for everyone else in her home but when she goes to work, she’s nice to the people positioned to hurt or to help her? Self-interest.

Why do people kick a dog they love but scrape and bow to supervisors they loathe? Self-interest.

Sometimes you’re nice to people you hate. Sometimes you are nice to your enemies. Why? Self-interest.

People have varying likelihood and capability of hurting you severely. The wise man is careful with how he treats people who have a high likelihood and capability of hurting or helping him. How much you really like them doesn’t matter. How moral they are doesn’t matter either. Their particular hero system doesn’t matter either except to the extent it enable you to navigate around challenges.

Some people carry guns. Anyone who’s carrying a gun has the ability to end your life quickly and thus they should be treated with care, even if you hate them and everything they represent.

If someone has the capability and the likelihood of hurting you severely such as the leader of North Korea and the leader of Russia, it behooves you to treat them with great care. On the other hand, if you have an ally, and there is a low likelihood that they’ll try to hurt you severely, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, then you can afford to yell at them to try to get a small advantage in a deal.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, and before you scream at them, you check them out and see that they are young black men, it is a bad idea to scream at them because young black men have astronomical rates of violent crime. On the other hand, if the offending driver is white, latino or asian in a business suit, you can probably scream at them without risking your life.

We don’t treat people according to their merits, we treat people according to their ability to hurt or to help us.

I don’t think the Republican party is in love with Vladimir Putin. Realists recognize it’s a bad idea to unnecessarily antagonize someone who has a high likelihood of hurting you and a high capability of hurting you severely. Russia has nuclear weapons.

Russia can cause America an unknown numbers of headaches whether it’s through hacking or stirring up the Balkans or the Middle East.

There are many reasons that the United States wants to have the best possible relations with Russia, and it really doesn’t matter how moral a country Russia is. It doesn’t matter how moral Vladimir Putin is.

As for Victor Orban, he’s the rare political leaders to have have successfully stood up in defense of his people. Apparently he’s reduced the influence of left-wing NGOs. That sounds good to me. I hope Trump taxes the endowments of NGOs and universities.

I hear JD Vance is an opportunist. I don’t see that as a particularly powerful put down. We should all be opportunistic. We should all take advantage of opportunities to further our own interests and to further our own side, our own family, our own in-group, our own hero system, our own religion. The one exception for when we should not be opportunistic is when we’re not really taking advantage of an opportunity, but instead we’re acting against our own best interests.

So let’s say you have the opportunity to sleep with your best friend’s spouse. I would suspect that 9 times out of 10, that’s not going to work out in your long-term best-interest. So what may be described as opportunistic sex is not opportunistic. It’s a disastrous choice. It’s the opposite of opportunistic. On the rare occasion, however, it might be a move that works out to your best advantage.

According to Wikipedia:

In May 1993, days after his 38th birthday, Seinfeld met 17-year-old Shoshanna Lonstein in Central Park. After a brief conversation, Lonstein gave Seinfeld her phone number. Lonstein was still a senior in high school and would turn 18 at the end of that month. Seinfeld and Lonstein dated for approximately four years, until 1997. She transferred from George Washington University to UCLA, in part to be with him, and cited constant press coverage and missing New York City as reasons for the relationship ending…

In August 1998, while at a Reebok Sports Club, Seinfeld met Jessica Sklar, a public relations executive for Tommy Hilfiger who had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy with then-husband Eric Nederlander, a theatrical producer and scion of a theater-owning family. Unaware of Sklar’s marital status, Seinfeld invited her out. When Sklar eventually told Seinfeld about her relationship situation, she said, “I told him I didn’t think this was the right time for me to be involved with anybody.” Two months later, Sklar filed for divorce and continued dating Seinfeld. The pair married on December 25, 1999. Comedian George Wallace was the best man at the wedding. The Seinfelds have a daughter and two sons.

Jerry Seinfeld had an opportunistic love life. It seems to have worked out for him.

I have an addictive personality. Because so much of my life has been filled with self-loathing, I don’t want to do anything that reduces my self-respect and endangers my emotional sobriety.

If there a $5 bill on your desk, I’m not going to take it in a million years. On the other hand, if I’m often around your gorgeous 17-year old daughter in Los Angeles, and she’s constantly throwing herself at me, I would have to minimize my time alone with her or I’d break the law.

If I borrow a book from you, I will return it. If I borrow your property and damage it, I’ll disclose that to you and pay for the damage. On the other hand, around attractive women who dig me, I’m weak, even when I know that this is going to be bad for me.

I think we should take advantage of every opportunity except those that come at the price of your own self-respect and at the price of your own reputation with the people most important to you, such as your family. Some people are going to be around you for the next 50 years. Few opportunities are worth alienating them.

If you take advantage of your family and your closest friends, you’re going to lose them, and you’ll develop a bad reputation.

Let’s say you betray your in group. I’m thinking about those communist spies operating in United States and England. I don’t think it worked out well for them. If you are a Christian or a Jew, you’re going to have that identity for the rest of your life, and you don’t want to damage it.

If you get away with stealing millions of dollars, for most people, the loss of self-respect will exceed the value of that stolen money.

If you are a conservative such as JD Vance with typical right-wing instincts for authority, hierarchy, order, and the traditional way of doing things, you might well see Donald Trump in 2016 as a bad deal and by 2019 you might come around to seeing him as a great deal. If that’s opportunism, that’s great. Right-wing instincts can lead one to support a bewildering array of contradictory policies. In one context, you might support free trade, welfare cuts, financial deregulation and international alliances and then at a different time and place, you might support the opposite policies. They’re all coming from right-wing instincts. They just demonstrate themselves differently in different situations. It doesn’t make you unimpressive to loathe Donald Trump in 2015 and to love him in 2024.

Mentally healthy people with high regard for their well being make judicious choices. If you are as promiscuous as I was in my late 20s, are you hooking up with sane mature people? No, you’re banging people as damaged and immature as you are.

The worst part of having disabling addictions is that only equally messed up people will hang out with you.

The great thing about clarity and self-respect is that it is easy to say you were wrong, to course correct and to head off in a better direction. That seems to sum up JD Vance’s varying reactions to Trump.

If you have a white collar job and it requires you to violate your principles of despising chiropractic and free market principles, that’s not a big deal. You’re not creating the system. You are building the best life you can within that reality. You’d prefer to do work that doesn’t violate your principles, but you’ll do the best you can with your choices in a particular situation.

If you go on a honeymoon and come home and realize you don’t care for your new spouse, and you meet someone with whom you sense a deeper connection, you might find it is in your best interest to get a quick divorce and marry again.

Life that doesn’t adapt to new opportunities goes extinct.

There’s no true self. Who we are varies depends upon the situation. If you mix with a new crowd, you’ll become a new person and you might find yourself doing things that would never have previously felt right.

Because we’re in constantly different situations, we should conduct ourselves differently. We shouldn’t speak the way during sex as we do during prayer or during work or during the PTA meeting.

If you move from Los Angeles to rural Kentucky, you’re going to need to change some things to successfully adapt to your new environment. There may be all sorts of habits, practices, hobbies, that you take advantage of in rural Kentucky that would have been unfathomable to you living in Beverly Hills.

You’re going be a different person on different medication, in a different job, around a different crowd, in different clothes, in different states of health and wealth.

Whatever situation you’re in, however, you can always increase your mastery, your self-respect and your connections.

According to Wikipedia:

Opportunism is the practice of taking advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles or with what the consequences are for others. Opportunist actions are expedient actions guided primarily by self-interested motives. The term can be applied to individual humans and living organisms, groups, organizations, styles, behaviors, and trends.

Opportunism or “opportunistic behaviour” is an important concept in such fields of study as biology, transaction cost economics, game theory, ethics, psychology, sociology and politics.

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