Leadership: Alexander the Great vs. Darius III

alexandervdarius1Oliver Stone’s 2004 film Alexander presented an interesting contrast in leadership styles, particularly during its portrayal of the Battle of Gaugamela. From what I’ve read about the battle, Oliver Stone’s cinematic reenactment is fairly accurate. But it’s not the film’s accuracy or the battle tactics (per se) that I want to highlight. The battle shows the benefits and pitfalls of authoritarian vs shared leadership styles, personified in the characters of Alexander the Great and Persian King Darius III.

Historically, the Battle of Gaugamela was fought in what is today northern Iraq in 331 BC between the Hellenic League army, led by Alexander the Great, and the Persian army, led by Darius III. Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, formed the the Hellenic League, a federation of Greek states, in 337 BC and was elected its Hegemon. Philip plotted to invade the Achaemenid Persian Empire in revenge for Persia’s previous invasions of Greece, but was assassinated before he could carry it out.

Alexander the Great took up this campaign and after a series of battles met King Darius III’s army near Gaugamela. Darius’ army is thought to have outnumbered Alexander’s 100,000-250,000 to 47,000. It was the largest army ever assembled at the time. Darius chose a flat, open plane on which to fight in order to maximize the effectiveness of his heavy chariots. Alexander, however, developed a tactic to defeat the chariots, and they were never again used as a weapon of war.

Alexander crushed Darius by executing a faint with his cavalry on the right flank, then turning to exploit a gap that opened in the Persian center. In Alexander, the Hellenic army is portrayed as a professional army of free men, fighting against a mass of poorly equipped conscripts drawn from all over the Persian Empire. When Darius fled, his army gradually crumbled and melted away.

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Michael Moore Thinks Trump will be President

Documentarian Michael Moore thinks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will be elected president in November, but it’s not this claim that should be scrutinized. Moore is actually on target for most of his latest piece. Bottom line, Trump will work hard to win over blue states in the Midwest (which have elected Republican governors), and Hillary is a terrible candidate who alienated too many Sanders supporters. His best quote is this:

“…if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut.”

But here is where Moore falls off the rails, as usual, with his over-the-top hyperbole. Here is how Moore characterizes Trump:

“…you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him.”

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Dan Savage is Right about Third Parties

Professional sexual deviant Dan Savage went on a profanity-laden rant recently against people who advocate voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton. Here are some highlights:

“Yeah, let’s talk about the Green Party for just a moment, or third parties, getting a third party movement off the ground here in this country. Because we are sick of the two party system!

“Here’s how you fucking do that: you run people not just for fucking president every four fucking years.

“I have a problem with the Greens, I have a problem with the Libertarians. I have a problem with these fake, attention seeking, grandstanding Green/Libertarian party candidates who pop up every four years, like mushrooms in shit, saying that they’re building a third party.

“And those of us who don’t have a home in the Republican Party, don’t have a home in the Democratic Party, can’t get behind every Democratic position or Republican position, should gravitate toward these third parties. And help build a third party movement by every four fucking years voting for one of these assholes like Jill fucking Stein, who I’m sure is a lovely person, she’s only an asshole in this aspect.

“If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president. You don’t start by running someone for fucking president.

“Where are the Green Party candidates for city councils? For county councils? For state legislatures? For state assessor? For state insurance commissioner? For governor? For fucking dogcatcher? I would be SO willing to vote for Green Party candidates who are starting at the bottom, grassroots, bottom up, building a third party, a viable third party.

“You don’t do that by trotting out the reanimated corpse of Ralph fucking Nader every four fucking years. Or his doppelgänger, whoever it is now…”

The thing is, Savage is right. In my experience, third parties consist mainly of Democratic or Republican rejects, attention seekers, and people with poor social skills. If you can find a local chapter, they are mostly just discussion groups. No effort is made toward organizing, fundraising, and running candidates for public office. Every four years someone runs for governor or president, and barely hits five percent of the vote.

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Citizens and the Media are Asleep: A Reply to Adam Andrzejewski

Yesterday at Forbes.com, Illinois political reformer Adam Andrzejewski asked why Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan refuses to prosecute public corruption. The answer is simple: she doesn’t want to–and not enough people care.

He writes, “She’s allowed felons to serve in municipal office; out-of-towners to serve as city alderman; many politicians to hold multiple – and conflicting – offices; a junior college to award more than $4 million in compensation to its president without a lawful board vote; and much more…”

When Lisa Madigan, daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, ran for attorney general in 2002, she vowed, “It’s time that Illinois’ highest legal official takes an active, hands-on role in cleaning up government. And I will not let them down.”

What happened? Well, gullible voters believed her, and she got elected. A lot of politicians in Illinois run on promises of reform because Illinois’ politics is widely seen (rightly so) as corrupt. But then once they get into office, no one holds them accountable for these promises. Certainly not the media, and definitely not the voters, who continue to re-elect them year after year.

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USA Freedom Kids Lawsuit Doesn’t Look Good for Trump

Democrats said the performance resembled something from North Korea, but when U.S.A. Freedom Kids opened a Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida in January, they certainly caught national attention. Now, according to the Washington Post, Jeff Popick, parent of a performer, plans to sue the Trump Campaign for violating alleged verbal agreements.

If Popick’s allegations are true, it doesn’t look good for Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. In addition to other broken promises, Popick claims the Trump Campaign offered Freedom Kids a table where they could sell merchandise at the rally in Pensacola, rather than pay them to perform (Popick asked for $2,500). When they arrived, there was no table.

Popick also says he fronted the cost for a trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where a day earlier the Trump Campaign had called and asked if Freedom Kids could perform at the event. When they arrived, they were told there was a change of plans and they would not be performing. After, Popick says, “He was passed around between staffers; calls went unreturned even after calls were promised.”

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Classic Redirection

In the wake of the Wikileak Democratic National Committee email scandal, leading Democrats are practicing a classic technique in order to distract the public from the scandal. A security firm paid by the DNC blamed “Russian espionage groups” for the email leak, then implied they leaked the emails in order to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Experts are now saying that the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN on Sunday.

So let me get this straight–“experts” paid by the DNC found something potentially damaging to their opponent’s campaign? How convenient. And why is this damaging, exactly?

Because Donald Trump once said something nice about Russian President Vladimir Putin, and vice versa. I guess it’s inappropriate for presidential candidates to reach out to world leaders and establish positive relationships (wait, isn’t Trump supposed to be damaging our international relationships? I’m confused).

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Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Mother Extraordinaire

“As the mother of my three amazing children and the Representative of Florida’s 23rd congressional district, I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future. I look forward to serving as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and across the country to ensure her victory.” – Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, stepping down after being accused of favoring Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

Huh? How does Wasserman-Schultz being a mother of three children (amazingness aside) or a congressional representative have anything to do with Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for president?