That’s the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority . . . ~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22
So. Bullies. So many shapes and sizes. So many weapons.
But, when finally confronted with a power or powers greater than they bullies can only go in few directions – dog presenting stomach abject submission; fleeing; intransience in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary; lifelong loyalty and obedience; turtling and hoping it all goes away; and/or deliberate obtuseness are a few of the options noted in history – all pretty much evidenced whenever a dictatorship collapses.
One of the bullies in 2 Soups and a Fish chose deliberate obtuseness with a smudgeon of ‘My job doesn’t really depend on my answering your questions, so …” smugness when asked a series of simple questions by Senator Al Franken in a committee hearing since somewhat immortalized by John Oliver.
You can watch it for yourself, I’ve cued it up so it starts with Charles Samuels, the current director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Samuels is a former CO who has managed to work the system to the ultimate extent – running the system. On his way to the top he was the warden at FT. Dix in 2006/07 when I was there.
He was the definition of a bully then. He traveled with an entourage, cowered staff and inmate alike, sent people to the hole for daring to speak to him. Lots more – he was a scary guy, appearances to the contrary.
Here, he’s in front of the absolutely worst possible lawmaker in the universe he could be in front of. Regardless of how one feels about Al Franken one has to admit the man has a great sense of humor. Humor is anathema to bullies (with the possible exception of Ann Coultier, seems to me she devours humor like that original Star Trek monster that sucked all the salt out of the human body).
The faint realization that he was a whisker away from a great one-liner or a feel good seminar by Stuart may account for Samuel’s hesitations.
This guy was an amazing bully – the insidious, get ahead kind. Like Tracy, above. 2 Fish will get into that and my self-defense mechanisms in the face of the bullying he wrought down the line. If there’s a bully up top, there bound to be bullies at every level.
For now, though, tuck away this little tidbit: Samuels had a thing about the groundhogs that were everywhere at Dix. He wanted them exterminated. I could see why, of course, they were furry, cute, almost tame, and would pat down pockets in search of food. Who’d want them around?
In any event, Samuels decided that the only way to get rid of them was to pour cement down their holes, thereby trapping them. The subterranean rodents. The subterranean, tunneling ground squirrels.
Some tried to explain that unlike Chilean miners, groundhogs have the innate ability to dig more tunnels. This did nothing to curtail the vast amounts of cement poured down vast amounts of holes.
I, for one, would have loved to see this committee hearing had Al Franken known the civil servant before him had been consistently outwitted by a personable rodent.