Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oliver North

I have always thought that Oliver North was an interesting character in history, so I was pleased to see him featured in the book "Power" as a positive example:

In November 1986, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Oliver North was fired by President Ronald Reagan from his position at the National Security Council for his involvement in the Iran-contra scandal. Iran-contra involved selling weapons, via intermediaries, to Iran and using the funds from these sales to finance the Nicaraguan resistance then trying to overthrow a left-leaning government. After testifying before Congress in the summer of 1987, North was indicted the following year on 16 felony counts, including accepting illegal gratuities, aiding and abetting the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destroying documents and evidence. Although he was convicted on three counts, his conviction was overturned on appeal on the basis that jurors had been influenced by the congressional hearings, during which he had been granted immunity for his testimony. During the nationally televised hearings, North admitted that he had shredded documents, lied to Congress, and violated, or at least come exceedingly close to violating, a law prohibiting giving aid to the Nicaraguan resistance.

But Oliver North knew how to act and speak with power. These abilities would produce an amazing effect on his reputation and his subsequent career. North defended himself and his actions by appealing to a higher purpose—protecting American interests, saving American lives, protecting important U.S. intelligence secrets, following the orders of his superiors, and doing what he was told to do as a good Marine lieutenant colonel—in short, being a good soldier. North wore his ribbon-decorated uniform to the hearings, even though he was seldom if ever in uniform at his job at the NSC. He took responsibility for what he did, saying that he was “not embarrassed” about his actions or about appearing to explain them. And he asserted that he had controlled what had occurred, frequently using phrases such as “I told” and “I caused.” This phrasing demonstrated that he was not running away from what he had done. Observers watching people who don’t deny or run away from their actions naturally presume that the perpetrators don’t feel guilty or ashamed, so maybe no one should be too upset. This phrasing also communicated power, that North was in charge rather than a “victim” of circumstance.

Only seven years after this incident, using the celebrity and sympathy that his testimony created, Oliver North ran for the U.S. Senate from Virginia and lost by just 3 percent of the vote to the incumbent, Charles Robb. During that campaign, North raised some $16 million through direct-mail solicitations, making him the top recipient of direct-mail political funds in the United States that year. Today, North, author of several books, is a television commentator on Fox News and a well-paid speaker at both public and private organizations. And even at the time of the hearings, he enjoyed a positive image. The Wall Street Journal asked dozens of senior U.S. executives if they would hire Oliver North. “The majority said they would…. A poll of the general public reflected the bullishness on Col. North…56 percent of those surveyed said they would hire Col. North; 35 percent said they wouldn’t hire him and 9 percent weren’t sure.”1

Donald Kennedy, a biology professor and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, served as president of Stanford University. Kennedy got caught up in a scandal over indirect costs in the early 1990s. Because it is impossible to associate all the costs of running any organization, for instance, the water and power, police and fire protection, and infrastructure such as libraries, with specific research projects, research grants have an overhead rate that reflects these costs. That rate is then charged to the government for all contracts. In the case of Stanford and other research universities, the claim was that unallowable charges, for instance, for lobbying, liquor, a yacht used by the sailing club, silverware and furniture for the president’s house, and other items, had been included in the cost pools used for calculating the overhead rate.2 After several years of investigation, litigation, and audits, the government found no basis for its claim. Stanford agreed to pay just $1.2 million to the government for overcharges for over 18,000 research grants covering the fiscal years from 1981 to 1992 that involved hundreds of millions of dollars in total funds.3

After the brouhaha broke, Kennedy, like North, appeared before a congressional investigating committee. Donald Kennedy’s performance could not have been more different from North’s. North appeared at the witness stand with just his attorney. Kennedy came with a team that included the head of government contracts from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, the controller and assistant controller from the university, and the chairman of the board of trustees, James Gaither. This coterie of colleagues conveyed the image that Kennedy could not answer the questions on his own. Using long, convoluted sentences full of subordinate clauses, answering questions indirectly, admitting that he was “embarrassed,” and looking extremely uncomfortable, Kennedy made a weak impression—he looked guilty. He left his position as Stanford president soon thereafter.

The differences between Oliver North’s and Donald Kennedy’s presentations may have had little to do with personality or individual style. Kennedy was not only a distinguished scientist but a successful and effective teacher; he had testified in front of Congress numerous times before, and many people watching his testimony who knew him say he seemed like a different person. He came to the hearings prepared, as did North. What differed was how they chose to present themselves, how they decided to act, and the impression they made. Kennedy wanted to express contrition; North chose to convey incredulity—how could he be questioned?—and some righteous anger. As we will see later in this chapter, expressing anger is usually much more effective than expressing sadness, guilt, or remorse in being seen as powerful.

We choose how we will act and talk, and those decisions are consequential for acquiring and holding on to power.

I think the sociopath has a natural advantage in acting without shame, because we don't react the same way to other people's sense of moral outrage.  Not that sociopaths have the monopoly on shamelessness, but I do think it is one of our more potent weapons in getting away with things and getting what we want.

53 comments:

  1. gbsdafjsd first

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wait, if sociopaths have emotions (shallow) they have to feel shame... Or they just feel regret that they were caught? But this is same as shame :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think regret but who the fuck knows really.

      Delete
    2. NM a better word would be failure not regret. ^^

      Delete
    3. Regret and shame are not the same thing. Shame has to do with how other people see you, or how you see yourself, and feeling bad about not measuring up somehow. Regret is wishing things had happened differently.

      Delete
    4. I think these lyrics to Shame by The Avett Brothers speak to both shame and regret:

      Okay so I was wrong about
      My reasons for us fallin' out
      Of love I want to fall back in

      My life is different now I swear
      I know now what it means to care
      About somebody other than myself

      I know the things I said to you
      They were untender and untrue
      I'd like to see those things undo

      So if you could find it in your heart
      To give a man a second start
      I promise things won't end the same

      Shame, boatloads of shame
      Day after day, more of the same
      Blame, please lift it off
      Please take it off, please make it stop

      Okay so I have read the mail
      The stories people often tell
      About us that we never knew

      But their existence will float away
      And just like every word they say
      And we will hold hands as they fade

      Shame, boatloads of shame
      Day after day, more of the same
      Blame, please lift it off
      Please take it off, please make it stop

      I felt so sure of everything
      My love to you so well received
      And I just strutted around your town
      Knowing I didn't let you down
      The truth be known, the truth be told
      My heart was always fairly cold
      Posing to be as warm as yours
      My way of getting in your world
      But now I'm out and I've had time
      To look around and think
      And sink into another world
      That's filled with guilt and overwhelming

      Shame, boatloads of shame
      Day after day, more of the same
      Blame, please lift it off
      Please take it off, please make it stop

      And everyone they have a heart
      And when they break and fall apart
      And need somebody's helping hand

      I used to say just let 'em fall
      It wouldn't bother me at all
      I couldn't help them now I can

      Delete
    5. What does "NM" stand for?

      Delete
    6. NM= Never mind

      Delete
    7. I thank everyone for being so informative.
      But I'm still curious, what a sociopath would feel in a situation where normal person would feel shame? Regret is felt then you fail at something?

      Delete
    8. "Regret is felt then you fail at something?"

      Well isn't that just a fine example of your shame. To use the word "fail", to describe the reasons for regret.
      Why does regret have to mean you failed at something? If you order chicken and after you get it, realize it was not up to your standards, and wish you had picked the steak instead; is that shame? No. It's a simple form of regret.

      Delete
    9. So people feel shame when they fail? But you regret when you fail at picking food? If not, then I don't really understand shame and regret.
      P.s. failing means unsucceding, right?

      Delete
    10. You're not seeing the analogy. You see it as me "failing" to pick the "right" food. I see it as simply not getting exactly what I desired.

      You show your perspective through your choice of words. You chose the word "fail", and I don't see it as failure.

      Delete
    11. I was trying to understand 5:25...
      So you regret picking the wrong food? I don't really care, but I think before I order...
      Any more examples of shame and regret?

      Delete
    12. Sure. I regret taking the time to explain a concept to you, that you're incapable of grasping.~

      Delete
    13. And I an so ashamed because of it!~

      Delete
    14. I'll try to explain, because I like explaining things to idiots (I'm not calling you idiot).
      Sociopaths have emotions, but their emotions are more effected by themselves than outsiders. People feel shame then they do something different from the herd, therefore It's an emotion that comes from the outside standards. Same with guilt. Regret is your personal feeling, as Eden wrote, people can regret ordering the wrong food, while others would prefer chicken to stake. Regret is formed by you, while shame - by the herd. And sociopaths are egocentric. Furthermore, failure is a happening, not an emotion, but it can cause you emotions. People can feel shame, regret then. I personaly am angered by failure, because it means that things went the wrong way. Obviously I won't be angry for every failure. So I think that sociopaths feel regret while interacting with the herd (regret being caught).
      A.R.

      Delete
    15. @ 11:43PM--exactly.


      I consider failure more of an act than something I feel/feel like. Estimated at 8/9 times out of 10, when failure occurs: it's usually on the account of another-not my own.
      If this is somehow relative to my situation- whether it be something of this elaborated scenario of "steak or chicken," I'd feel slight anger but more than that-frustration. I'd 'feel' both, though not in equal parts. I don't know if I would feel regret. Reason why is; I don't think it's logical for me to regret & feel somehow responsible for the lack of ability in another-especially if they are employed somewhere such as a restauraunt, where the ability should, in the very least match their job requirements & keep paying customers satisfied.

      Delete
  3. Kicking sux no sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shout out to Johnny Boy: Fascinating ME :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To what do I owe the honor?

      Delete
    2. Johnny, looks like Monica is checking out the forum as well. You said there you couldn't stand her sucking up to ME.

      Delete
  5. WoW! I woke up this morning, and I'm not a psychopath anymore !!

    ReplyDelete
  6. to the cold pipes?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oliver North. Mmmmm... brings back memories. I thought he was soooo fine! You did well in using him as an example, and it kind of excites me that you should even think of him; I was always particularly drawn to his case because of his conduct. I admired him, but was too young back then to put a finger on why that was. Now I know. Thank you for the opportunity to see my admiration in hindsight all these years later.

    I need to do some youtubing now. Look up his testimony...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ollie is an interesting guy. I completely disagreed with his politics but I think I completely understood what he was doing and why: his was a philosophy of the end justifies the means. He had an ideal -- God and country -- and was bound and determined that ideal would be served well. I also saw him as a prime example of Nietzsche's "will to power."

    My admiration for him grew immensely when I watched him accepting responsibility for all of his actions. IMHO It was not that he couldn't feel guilt but rather that he had a clean conscience, that he truly believed in what he did. I think that was behind a lot of his chutzpah: he simply was who and what he was and had no problem saying what and who he was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The years following these hearings he has showed the
      world "who he truly is" and has helped others. So,
      you might say that the public saw his "core personality."

      Delete
    2. ^during the hearings.

      Delete
    3. I find it surprising that a bunch of individuals so adept at the workings of sociopathy could be fooled by ollie. He was totally full of shit, and really didn't give a fuck about this country, it's laws or the constitution. He was the perfect hitman who will take the fall for the boss, knowing that he will get treated like a favorite pet eventually. Ollie was a great liar apparently, I will give him that

      Delete
  9. Why did Patrick Bateman went all girly and started crying? Only reason I can think of is that he's a narcissist (other things he do points to that too, I can't imagine myself caring about cards...). Everything he does and thinks sound narcissistic!! So the film should be called "American narcis". Anybody feel the same way?
    -The one and only Mee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's the roids working (wearing off?)

      Delete
  10. North answers to Something greater than himself. That is the source of his strength imo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Quote Series


    Quote for TCO

    I knew I wanted love, so I just followed my erection.

    Kenny Loggins

    ReplyDelete
  12. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Quote Series

    Quote for UKan

    The trouble with the rat race is that if you win, you're still a rat
    Lily Tomlin

    ReplyDelete
  13. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Quote Series

    Quote for Eden
    I don't play a good victim, so I'm always the nasty little guy.

    Danny DeVito

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's very insightful

      Delete
  14. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Quote Series

    Quote for Monica

    I bring to my life a certain amount of mess.


    Francis Ford Coppola

    ReplyDelete
  15. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Quote Series

    Quote for Haven


    In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.

    Nora Ephron

    ReplyDelete
  16. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Quote Series


    Quote for ME
    Words and music must be so inseparably wedded to each other that they are like one.

    Cole Porter

    ReplyDelete
  17. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Quote Series


    Quote for Zoe

    I was the most popular person in my family. I was like a celebrity. I was the entertainment. And I was always the boss


    Jennifer Tilly



    (To be continued)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. whats the continuation?

      Delete
    2. I thought I was done and then got a second wind.

      Delete
  18. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Quote Series

    Quote for TNP

    A deaf, dumb and blind idiot could have made a better world than this.

    Tennessee Williams

    ReplyDelete
  19. Then there wouldn't be evil.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Themes for SW RegularsJuly 3, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Quote Series
    Quote for Medusa
    I can always be distracted by love, but eventually, I get horny for my creativity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that Medusa quote, who said that?

      Delete

Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.