Tag Archives: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

The Bully Pulpit

by Rick Bretz

President Theodore Roosevelt during his presidency  coined the term “Bully Pulpit” to mean a “terrific or advantageous” platform to promote ideas.   The position of President of the United States might be the best place in the world to promote ideas.  Back then, in his day, the word “Bully” meant a good thing, as in “”Bully for You” or “Good For You.”  But somewhere, as in the case of many words, the meaning of the word was hijacked to the more popular definition of the word today, “A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.”  The verb form meaning to force or harass someone using superior strength to do force him or her to do what one wants.

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...
President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Deutsch: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von 1901 bis 1909, Friedensnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word bully meant something good in the early 1900s but turned into a word that defines the evil angels of our nature. Interesting to note that the synonyms listed for this word include, Tyrant, Tormentor, Oppressor, Persecutor, Intimidator and Thug.  Today there is a new moniker that defines the Bully.   The technology savvy persecutor, tormentor and thug–The Cyber bully. This bully uses all of the tools available to the persecutor and this tool has the added benefit of making the tormentor anonymous if he or she so desires.   Beside being a jerk, the online tormentor violates a key policy outlined in most organizations’ information technology code of ethics documents. That is: “Do no harm.”

There are many varieties of bully.  Some are less harmful than others but the different speciesalways leave some form of destruction in their wake.  Here are my top eight types of bullies that wreak all kinds of havoc as we all try to live, thrive and survive day-to-day.

1. The Government Bully– Someone who has gained a position of power by military take over, Coup de Tat,  violence against the voting populace, political maneuvering or government appointed position.  This type of bully proves the most dangerous because they can use their position to gain wealth, kill people, keep power and bully other countries into entering into unwise diplomatic agreements as well as any number of wrongs against the people.  They include the likes of Saddam Hussein. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan and many more.

2. The Office Bully-This person creates the toxic atmosphere at work.  The person everyone knows , whom management lets run rough shod over other co-workers either by using something they know, someone in management they know, or just using an acidic personality to create havoc in the work place or torment the one individual in the office who takes the abuse.  This where other co-workers should step in and take a stand even if the bully sits at a higher level in the organization.

3. The Teleconference and Meeting Bully-That certain someone who raises his or her voice, try to talk over people, cuts off another person talking,  ridicules someone else’s ideas.  You know that someone in the office.  A person  who wants to take over the entire meeting to look fantastic in front of “The Boss.” I dislike these people and managers should call them out and make them stop.

4. The Driving Bully– You know.  We’ve all seen  them on the highway, in the city or even on some rural road. They pass on double lines, bogart their way into a parking spot, merge their vehicle in the wrong place, change lanes from the far left to the exit ramp in less than 20 yards just to prove they can.  I got news for you people: you’re not impressing anyone.  Some advice I know will be ignored but here goes anyway, “Drive like you are supposed to-like the rest of us-obey the traffic laws. Just maybe you won’t be the next person to cause a wreck.”

5. The Internet Bully-These people are the trolls you see at the bottom of a story you have read in the comment list but they are also the same people who use the social media to harass and torment another person. Cyber bullies are the worst because they are going after a person for the whole world to see.  These people are the cause of some teen ager or young person committing suicide because the cyber bully won’t back off on the social media comments and criticism.  Someone who bullies a person through social media has no self esteem and no compassion for other human beings.

6. Corporate Bully-The corporate bully intimidates start-ups, harasses inventors, steals inventions, steals software or worse yet, calls in some government friends for favor so a certain agency can do an audit or create an avalanche of paperwork and lawyers so that a company or individual can go away.  You know who they are: some have been around for a long time.  President Teddy Roosevelt called them monopolies and decided he had enough of them.  He did what good bully fighters do, he made them stop.

7. Gang Bully-Any person using his position as part of a group, gang or union to intimidate, harass, persecute or just plain beat up.  These people get their so-called “courage” because they know their buddies will be standing behind them in case the scene gets a little tough for them to handle. I see no courage in that.  The person who takes on the group alone, now that’s courage.
8. Law Enforcement Bully-A majority of law enforcement officials are superb human being and logical in their approach to handing out citations and tickets. But now and then you get someone who you can just tell hasn’t been in a position of power or leadership and they carry an attitude of, “OK, now I’m in power position and people are going to pay.”  They are few,  but when you come across one, you never forget them.

Ok, now I’m off the bully pulpit about bullies, for now.

 

Notable Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bully_pulpit

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Files/Bullying.pdf

http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingstatistics.htm

 

My Eight Favorite History Books of All Time

by Rick Bretz

Cover of "Fortunate Son: The Healing of a...
Cover via Amazon

1. Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet

By Lewis B. Puller, Jr.

For autobiographies and a book that makes you empathize with and respect the author, this one is at the top of the list for me.  This book earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and it deserved it.  He was the son of Marine General Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a hero to every Marine that ever served.  His son followed in his footsteps and served with distinction as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam.  The Vietnam War handed Puller a challenge he fought his whole life when he lost both his legs, part of his arm, hand and part of his stomach.  The chapter that tells the story of his father visiting him in the hospital is a gut wrenching read.  The rest of his life story is riveting and he fights to come back.  In a sad ending, three years after earning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, Puller took his own life. The book is inspiring and an example of the fight that most wounded warriors go through when they come back from the fight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Burwell_Puller,_Jr.

2. John Adams

By David McCullough

McCullough has written several books that I have enjoyed throughout the years.  He’s a pleasure to read and always tells me something new about the subject.  He’s tackled subjects as diverse as Harry Truman and the Brooklyn Bridge.  For Adams, McCullough gave us glimpse into the Adams personality and reminded us of how important this founding father was to American history who for a while was lost among the others stellar figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I wasn’t expecting an interesting read but what I got was a page turner.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_McCullough

3. TR: The Last Romantic

By H.W. Brands

This epic biography takes you from Teddy Roosevelt’s young days, through college, his heart aches, and his triumphs through to the end of his life.  The book discusses his adventurous travels, his bombastic personality as well as his knack for being in the right place at the right time.  Once he got his opportunities, he makes the most of them.  The book also discusses his mistakes and his relationships with his sons and daughters.  There are several books about this larger than life President but this is one that portrays the era and how a go-getter lives in it.

http://books.google.com/books/about/T_R.html?id=J7jMw0bwRy8C

English: Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
English: Brigadier General Chuck Yeager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Yeager, An Autobiography

By General Chuck Yeager and Leo Janus

A first-hand account of the pilot who was pilot that ushered in the supersonic age.  Yeager is an interesting autobiography of a first pilot to break the sound barrier.  However, it is much more than the story of that feat.  It tells the story of his younger days and his World War II combat dog fights.  He writes about his friends, family and his days as commander of several Air Force units and how he handled some delicate situations as commander and as a top-notch pilot.

http://www.amazon.com/Yeager-An-Autobiography-Chuck/dp/0553256742

5. Unbroken: The World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

The story of Lt. Louis Zamperini who joined the war as an aviator bombardier and was part of crew that ended up in rubber raft trying to survive days and then weeks.  Little does the reader know that this is only the beginning of a story that includes brutality at a POW camp and starvation for him and his crew mates. A few years earlier Zamperini was running in the Olympics and then the War.  This is an all to real story of about what Prisoners of War have had to endure.

http://www.amazon.com/Unbroken-World-Survival-Resilience-Redemption/dp/1400064163

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Zamperini

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

6.  A Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

By Doris Kearns Goodwin

Today’s politicians could learn a few things concerning how President Lincoln handled his victories and as well as his defeats.  Once he gained the Presidential Office, instead of isolating his rivals, Lincoln invited them into his inner circle.  He did this because he was confident in himself and his abilities.  He knew how to handle difficult personalities.  He wanted the best minds available to weather the coming storm of the Civil War and its complications for the United States economy and standing among other nations.  The Doris Kearns Goodwin book covers this subject expertly.  After finishing the book, you will get a perceptive look into the genius that was President Lincoln.

http://www.amazon.com/Team-Rivals-Political-Abraham-Lincoln/dp/0743270754

Peter I of Russia
Peter I of Russia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. Great Rivals in History: When Politics Gets Personal

By Joseph Cummins

This is a read that explores why certain people throughout history hated each other.  In fact, some of these people despised each other.  They took it to a point where they ruined their countries and their lives.  It analyzes the relationship among several of history’s colorful and despised personalities such as the rivalry between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.  Other rivalries include Charles XII of Sweden and Peter the Great of Russia. There are many with many reasons why each were against the other.  It provides an analysis as to why leaders and generals clashed to form historical events.

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Rivals-History-Politics-Personal/dp/1607108658

8. What if? The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been

Edited by Robert Cowley

This book poses fascinating questions has to what might have been.  Would history have taken a left turn instead of right if certain meetings had occurred or if wrong decisions hadn’t been made by leaders and generals?  For instance, would Germany have fared better in World War II if Hitler hadn’t invaded the Soviet Union?  Would there have been a better way to handle Cuba and Fidel Castro?   Some of these questions are pondered and answered.  It’s a fascinating travel log through history and what might have been.

http://www.amazon.com/What-If-Foremost-Military-Historians/dp/0425176428

That is my list.  There are several others books I like  but for sheer enjoyment, these are my eight favorites.  Do you have any to add to the list?  Leave me a suggestion.