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Trump at Midnight. Band of Brothers & The Mutiny of the NCOs.

“We salute the rank, not the man.”

—Major (Ret) Richard Winters, 506th Parachute infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne


In an early episode of Band of Brothers the sergeants (the non commissioned officers) submit notification to their regiment’s commanding officer, that they refuse to serve under Captain Sobel.

Sobel is considered ineffective, overly concerned with rules and regulations and far more importantly, he is considered by his men to be incompetent.

I will not, says one of the sergeants, follow that man into combat.

Presented by a dozen sergeants declaring in unison, that they will not obey the orders of a man they have no faith in, and who they believe is incapable of leading men in life and death situations, and whose decisions are suspect, the CO busts two to private, and tells the rest that he should have them all executed for mutiny but, as they are on the eve of the invasion of Europe, he has no choice but to spare them.

Captain Sobel was subsequently relieved, transferred stateside and, after the war eventually committed suicide.

Life on the razor’s edge of combat is a constant choice between bad and worse. Bad is killing other people. Worse is getting killed.

There can be, unless other information comes to light, absolutely no comparison between the current actions of the self described White House resistance and the men who led the initial assault on the shore’s of France.

However, we are faced with a dilemma that echoes across the years.

The president is either fit to hold office or he is not.

There is in this situation, no such thing a being a little insane.

Before submitting their signed statements to their CO, the sergeants discuss the possible consequences of their action. We could, says one of them, be put up against a wall and shot. The alternative is left unsaid or is said indirectly.

To follow an incompetent leader is to not only risk your life, but it is to risk the lives of others who are depending on you to do your best, and in doing your best strive to keep yourself and them alive.

An incompetent leader, a leader you do not trust, is a direct threat to your survival and a threat to the lives of your comrades.

The insubordination is not the act of those who say they will not follow an incompetent into battle. That is the mark of integrity and courage.

Donald Trump is either able to carry out his responsibilities or he is not.

If he is not then he must either resign or be removed from office.

Ignoring the question may not be treasonous but it is no different then ordering men to follow a fool off a cliff or ordering them into a battle with a fool as their leader.

Who but a coward would do such a thing?



3 comments on “Trump at Midnight. Band of Brothers & The Mutiny of the NCOs.

  1. Frank Hudson says:

    One wonders if the authors of the 25th Amendment could have done any better. They had their minds on JFK’s shooting and Ike’s heart attack, all clearly in their experience. For some, Wilson’s stroke must have still been recalled as less than ancient history. Reganite decline probably wasn’t first on their mind (men of Reagan and Trump’s age were still generally considered too old to be President then).

    And Caine Mutiny Queeg crazytown? Perhaps they thought, even in their less partisan age, that more inclusions in that regard would jeopardize the adaptation of a mechanism to take care of clear issues of incapacitation.

    Not working with Trump, I can’t be sure if something like senility is going on, in addition to narcissism and steadfast mental blinders. I don’t know if “Fear” will explain in detail what intimates think on that. In effect on the republic, there may be little difference if insiders think he’s (as he’s probably been for years) a man of poorly founded opinions and ragged judgement or suffering from onset of senility (or both). But the later could, just conceivably, cause the kind of consensus that the 25th amendment requires.

    I can never tell with Trump and his constant “I know what you are, but what am I” rhetoric if he’s just counterpunching or if he projects his own issues on opponents. His rips on Clinton being too old make we wonder as I don’t believe that was counter-punching. Clinton was a little more than a year younger–and AFAIK, she didn’t bring up Trumps age even to defend on that charge.


    1. rauldukeblog says:

      It’s a dilemma within a set of other dilemmas. Or, having to choose between bad and worse vs the relative luxury of good vs bad.

      Your comments about JFK/Ike and the Revolutionary generation remined me that there was an argument between Hamilton and his cadre on one side and Jefferson and Adams and possibly Franklin about the very idea of a Bill of Rights.

      Hamilton’s view being if you spell it out then the government can remove it vs the alternate view that the unambiguous assertion of rights was essential.

      There’s something deliberately ambiguous about the 25th which has that earlier argument as its DNA – I think. I’m not in any way an expert and just spit balling.

      There’s a pop culture point of reference that works here – a scene from The West Wing where Toby sarcastically criticizes the ambiguity of the law/25th Amend and another character (the NSA?) says yes, you do want ambiguity – the implication being that too much strictness leads to coups.

      Of course they have plenty of other ways of removing people from power.

      As to Trump – *sigh* – I would say he’s deeply neurotic if not clinically nuts (nuts being a technical term;-)) paranoid, incoherent, narcissistic etc etc

      I would hazard to guess he does both vis your point about counterpunching and projecting and I suspect he can’t differentiate.

      Another likely factor is that he’s probably taking a cocktail of assorted meds from various doctors. JFK was and he had a host of ailments and one suspects Trump is popping god knows what. I keep expecting a breaking news headline that he’s had a stroke – overweight, bad diet massive stress, etc he’s a textbook example of a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen and he’s the right age.

      I didn’t focus as much as I wanted to in the post in hindsight about the target of the Times’ op ed…it really seems like it was aimed at the collection of goons, political blow up dolls, and true believers on Capital Hill and perhaps to people off stage that they have to take action – the 25th is not just the cabinet but then the House and the Senate.

      It’s also possible that something very specific has been going on – news broke today about discussions with Venezuelan military officers about staging a coup and I have a hunch the coup plan and the op ed are related – so perhaps the op ed was designed to be a flare but in order to be effective the “adults in the room” need help.

      All speculative of course. My crystal ball is in the repair shop;-)

      I’m struck by your Caine munity analogy. I take your point but recently finished reading two good books on the French in Vietnam and a JFK bio and the politics of the era can best be described as a fusion of gangsterism and refined gangsterism. There were some crazy people involved doing crazy things but then I swing back and your point resonates – a Captain Queeg (I can hear the ball bearings clicking) situation must have seemed impossible to them even with the sinister nuttiness of an LBJ or Nixon or even the speed fueled hedonism of JFK. There was still a kind of within the bounds quality to their actions.

      But ultimately it’s a political process. McConnell & co want to stack the court and then I think for them Trump is useless after that.

      The Band of Brothers scene popped into my head and I was struck by it being an illustration of the Hemingway idea – grace under pressure and of course being true to a sense that there’s more at stake then one’s own reputation

      Of course the counter argument would be that if the “adults” split Trump might just pick up the phone and order someone to do something not just insane but catastrophically violent.

      I have the luxury so to speak of wielding a keyboard and not being responsible for ordering bombs to be dropped or stopping a lunatic from ordering them to be dropped but I’d like to believe I’d be with the NCOs and say, I will not follow that man into combat.


    2. rauldukeblog says:

      Your comments got me thinking and I posted a new piece speculating about the timing of the op Ed and the subsequent news about Venezuela. Crystal ball still not working but as always with these sorts of things safe to assume there’s more than gets released to the public,


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