We Need to Update the Peter Principle

Most of y’all will remember the Peter Principle, which says that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. In my experience this usually only applies to men, as women are less likely even to be promoted to take advantage of their fullest potential, but let’s go on … I am seeing a variation of the Peter Principle, which says that people in public life rise to the level at which their character flaws are exposed.

For example, Josh Marshall writes about White House doctor Ronny Jackson

It was universally agreed when President Trump nominated him, apparently with no vetting or preparation, that Ronny Jackson was woefully unqualified to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. But he also appeared to be widely respected as the White House doctor who has served not only President Trump but also President Obama. Now accusations are emerging of excessive drinking, creating a hostile work environment and ‘improperly dispensing’ medication.

It’s not sure where these accusations are coming from, and it’s possible they aren’t true. But Josh Marshall points out that being nominated to head the VA was possibly the worst thing that ever happened to Jackson. If he has any sense, he’ll withdraw his name from nomination before something is exposed that costs him the White House job, and maybe his medical license.

And then, take Sean Hannity. Please.


The Guardian is reporting that Hannity is connected to fraudulent real estate deals

Sean Hannity’s real estate venture bought houses through a property dealer who was involved in a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently obtain foreclosed homes, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

In 2012, a shell company linked to the Fox News host bought 11 homes in Georgia that had been purchased by the dealer, Jeff Brock, following foreclosures. Brock transferred the properties to corporate vehicles that sold them on to the Hannity-linked company at a profit.

Brock pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy for his role in an operation to rig foreclosure auctions between 2007 and 2012. He was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay more than $166,000 in fines and restitution.

Some of the houses sold on to the Hannity-linked firm in 2012 had been acquired by Brock from banks later named by prosecutors among his victims. But the justice department declined to identify specific properties sold in the rigged auctions. Hannity has not been accused of any wrongdoing and there is no evidence he was aware that Brock was involved in fraud.

If Hannity hadn’t become an unofficial part of the Trump Administration and connected to Michael Cohen, I doubt anyone would have bothered to sniff around in his real estate empire. It may be Hannity isn’t guilty of anything, but this ought to put a dent in his “champion of the little guy” act.

The Biggest Loser in the bunch could well be Trump himself. Much of his sleazebag background has been in the public record for a long time, but nobody really cared as long as he was more or less an entertainer on the teevee. But now that he’s POTUS, he can’t stop people from following dots. And it’s not just the Mueller investigation. The latest little tidbit is that he’s been lying about a trip to Moscow in 2013. Bloomberg reports,

President Donald Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations.

Yet the broad timeline of Trump’s stay, stretching from Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, through the following Sunday morning, has been widely reported. And it’s substantiated by social media posts that show he slept in Moscow the night before the Miss Universe contest.

Now, flight records obtained by Bloomberg provide fresh details. Combined with existing accounts and Trump’s own social-media posts, they capture two days that, nearly five years later, loom large in the controversy engulfing the White House and at the heart of the Comey memos, which the Justice Department turned over last week to Congress.

Per Comey’s book (which I haven’t read), I understand Trump was obsessed with quashing reports about what he might have done involving activities with hookers during that trip. But if he’d never been elected POTUS, the public never would have cared. Now it’s a big bleeping deal.

And the moral is, if you’ve got something to hide, keep your head down.

21 thoughts on “We Need to Update the Peter Principle

  1. I’ve concluded that almost all concentrations of power usually become corrupt, because of how that game is played and who that game rewards.  The guy with the most weapons, and the ability to get away with using them within a given context, usually wins.  In such games job competence eventually becomes irrelevant.  It’s game competence that matters.  It’s up to the rest of us (more normal folks) to notice, then stop the inevitable corruption.

    That’s the one reason why I like Trump.  We get to watch all that, all the players, the sycophants, enablers, naïve tools… happening in real time, and then get to discuss the how and why.

    This stuff scales down to our own personal lives as well.  Same players with all the same temperaments playing all the same games.  I don't believe that good people will necessarily become corrupted knowing such, though 'learned-callousness' may be a factor. 

  2. Good advice, Maha.  It's for that very reason of putting one's self under a microscope that has prevented me from running for president. But seeing how Trump has blazed a trail to achieving the coveted position of President of the United States by knocking down the barriers of intellectual and moral standards perhaps I should reevaluate my thinking. If I just brush up on my bullshitting and join the ranks of the GOP, I'd make the perfect candidate.

    • “It’s for that very reason of putting one’s self under a microscope that has prevented me from running for president.” Me, too. Somebody might find out what I did to Chuckie McHenry in the 4th grade.

  3. Trump's a moron for sure, but I think even he was fully aware of how the visibility of fame could come with ever brighter lights shining into the dark, ugly corners of his past. 

    But Trump is first and foremost profoundly ignorant, and I believe he really thought being President was akin to being a dictator / king, where laws would not apply to him and the apparatus of justice would be at his whim, and he would be able to stop any investigation into his sordid affairs.  His success at keeping his tax returns private probably have him reason to believe that.  The downside is its led him to make incredible statements of guilt.

  4. Let’s get a competent, not on-the-take, preferably female doc to examine The Don. I doubt he’d get shining marks.

  5. Swami,

    Thanks for the laughs!

    About tRUMP, when he says "No collusion! No collusion!!", maybe we're thinking he's talking about the deception and conspiracy angle, and he's talking about some ultra-dirty sex act practiced by Moscow hookers called "Collusion," involving things like peeing on one another, and other things that might make even the Marquis de Sade blanch, and say, "THAT!  THAT, DEAR GOD, IS A STEP TOO FAR!!!" 

    So while we think he's denying a conspiracy, he's denying something from the pee-pee tapes. 

    Not likely, but it's possible!

  6. That was very funny, Swami. smiley  Thanks.  Brings back memories of all the lecture my brothers and sister and  I would get from Mom before we watched The Three Stooges.

  7. I know what happened to Chuckie McHenry. For a price, I'll tell you. For a bigger price, Maha, I won't.

  8. I think he's hiding something that makes hiring hookers to pee on a bed which was formerly occupied by the Obamas sound like the childish prank it would be.

    I suspect the "pee tape" actually shows Trump raping one or more underage Russian girls who look like Ivanka.

  9. Tom B – I'm not sure you can find a female doctor willing to examine Trump unless she's allowed to use a scalpel. 

  10. In today's world it seems a title more like the Unprincipled Peter would sell more books.  It does remind me of the days when merit had a chance.  Peter rose to the level of incompetence himself with the Peter Prescription as I recall.  One book was plenty.  Reminds me of the great joke about golf movies.  What is the best golf movie of all time?  Caddy Shack of course.  Well what is the worst golf movie of all time.  That would be Caddy Shack II.

  11. After reading all the above thoughts/ideas, I don't feel so bad about what I've been thinking. 

  12. I think it's time to run down to the VA with an acute relapse of my PTSD. Word is out on the street that the Candy Man cometh. I've been looking for a good connect, and now that Ronny Jackson is going to be showering us drug addled veterans with an all you can eat diet of mind altering drugs it will be worth my while to see what I can score.

    I'll just sit in the waiting room and howl repeatedly, incoming, incoming. I think that should qualify me for a little Stelazine. I'll tell them Ronny sent me. wink, wink.

    On a serious note, this whole Trump presidency thing has reached a crescendo of insanity. Here Trump pushed Jackson into accepting the nomination for VA secretary by insisting that Jackson was the man for the job, then without proper vetting he throws Jackson to the wolves. When Jackson starts getting ripped apart Trump turns around and says he wouldn't put up with such an ugly process and he would withdraw his name from consideration if it were him. Then he says it's up to Jackson if he wants to withdraw from the process. That's just crazy..Trump tosses him into a lion's den where he's been put in jeopardy of destroying his career and image, and Trump just turns away like I don't know you, and I wouldn't put up with the shit that you've put yourself in.

     It's similar to a guy who begs a girl for sex and when she gets pregnant he tells her she's on her own because she's stupid for getting herself pregnant.

  13. I propose the following as an update to the Peter Principle:

    In any organization which promotes for corrupt incompetence, any employee tends to rise to that employee's level of incompetent corruption; that is, incompetence at even being corruptly incompetent.

    I call this the Law of Second-Order Corruption; the corruption of corruption. I suppose Trump's Law will also do.



  14. Speaking about Peter principles…. Did you hear about the new priest at St. Peter's? He was a little nervous on his first day at the parish so he over indulged in drinking to much communion wine. When he was supposed to announce the upcoming event of a taffy pull at St. Peter's he was a little tipsy, and announced that there was going to be a peter pull at St. Taffy's

  15. Well, Ronny Jackson packed it in. His career has now flatlined thanks to Trump. I guess now John Kelly is going to have to eat a shit sandwich for letting Trump's nomination for VA secretary go forward without proper vetting. And Jackson can kiss his hopes of that second star good bye. It's time for him to put in his papers.

     Quite a process to watch. Jackson was torn apart in short order. It kinda seemed like with a vengeance. It gives some real meaning to the saying: be nice to people on the way up because you might need them on the way down. Advice that Trump would be wise to heed.

  16. You know, if I worked at the WH ,I'd have to have a drink too, and pills too.

    Now we know how they stand there and lie out their asses  day after day. 

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