The Case for Not Submitting to Autocratic Authority When Necessary

Very recently I was navigating the complexities, hierarchical rules and demands of a massive hospital, when a wonderful black nurse of some rank saw my problem and offered to take me under her wing and help unravel my problems.

While this was underway we had to wait for a few minutes and sat in a waiting area. She asked me when and how I had ‘learned’ the art and importance of bucking authority.

My answer, which simply popped out without much thought, was that when I was 7/8 years old and saw pictures in the late 1930s of long lines of men, women and their children waiting in lines for trains that they knew were to take them someplace awful because of their only crime of being Jewish. I realized then that they were peacefully submitting to their deaths and that they could/should have sought to overwhelm the few armed guards who held them captive. But they did nothing. And 5,000,000 Jews were gassed and burned by Hitler.

I said to myself then that if ever I was in such a situation I would rather die rebelling than passively submit to death. In the years since, that thought process has morphed into my generally rebellious attitude towards misplaced and arbitrary authoritarian power from many institutions that dominate our lives.

My new nurse ‘friend’ then said something that startled and pleased me. She said that she shared my attitude because she saw my frustration and she was empathic.

Then she added that her equivalent of my lines of Jews were pictures she saw, when she was a young girl, of fields with dozens of black slaves/workers being driven to pick cotton by 4/5 white men on horseback with shot guns. She said me that she then promised herself that she would never allow herself to accept such a situation. That was why she went out of her way to help me!

I realized then that the sharing of different—but underneath identical—experiences is the core to human understanding and communication.

This is a manifestation of a real possibility of extraction of many more such common experiences that could lead to a more harmonious world around ourselves. 

The Trap Door

Where is it? Where is the opener? What happens below? What happens next?

The trap door is the Mueller report.

The opener is when he submits it to the Attorney General.

What happens underneath depends a lot on whether he proposes an indictment of the President for any crime.

What happens after that depends on the new Attorney General Barr, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority in the House.

All of it is likely to happen in the first quarter of this year.

We saw recently that the Trump base is capable of erosion, but surprisingly little given the clarity of the events surrounding Trump’s “proud” closure of the government.

In theory, there may be some ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ but the Constitution requires two-thirds of Senators to vote to convict a President (thereby removing him from office), so unless the Republican leadership gives up on Trump for whatever reasons, it makes little sense to pursue impeachment in the House.

What will happen psychologically to Trump is hard to forecast. He might quit while he can, as did Nixon. He might seek authoritarian powers by simply trying to declare an emergency. The Supreme Court hates the idea of being ham in a sandwich but Roberts appears more likely to play a positive leadership role. So who knows?

If the Trump Presidency ends, Pence becomes President. But, with less than two years left in Trump’s term, the Democratic House can keep Pence in check.

Therefore, the next step back towards normalcy is the 2020 election.

I see a number of “outstanding human beings” [two for example Kamala Harris and Howard Shultz] emerging to compete in 2020.

Therefore, I am becoming positive and optimistic.

Let’s hope we will have learned ‘a thing or two’ and take steps to prevent such a dangerous Presidency from ever happening again.

Beware Creeping Fascism

Take note of the following quote from a book with a comprehensive study of the rise of fascism since the 1930’s.

“Fascism appealed to a confused sense of manliness. The new style equated frankness, spontaneity, lack of manners, public use of insult and ridicule with honesty, sincerity and a break with bourgeois hypocrisy and conventionality. Passion was to be a substitute for reason, readiness to fight a substitute for useless sophistic arguments.”

When do you suppose that was written?—nearly 50 years ago in about 1976!

Does any of that ring a familiar bell for you at the moment?

If not, you have nothing to fear except your ignorance and the hell that follows.

If yes, you have nothing to fear but your unwillingness to speak out.

Note: Juan J. Linz “Some Notes Toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective”

In Fascism: A Reader’s Guide. Edited by Walter Laqueur.  1976.  pp. 55-56. 

SWASTIKAS?

The rash of swastika graffiti is arousing a lot of attention and opposition.

The question is –what inspired the graffiti folks?

It strikes me that the inspiration was MUCH more of concern than support.

The concern is NOT misplaced because what Trump has been doing parallels what Hitler did to get the German government out of his hair.

Perhaps the main line press should reconsider their criticism of swastika graffiti.

It just might help awaken America to a very real threat!

Add-On: A Messianic Man vs A Savvy Woman

An add-on suggested by a Republican friend. See below.

The Trump Pelosi standoff is whacky.

She rightly fears he has discovered political sex by bargaining with the jobs of 800,000 bystander government employees for something unrelated but politically important to him.

He probably rightly fears that if he ‘caves’ his racist, isolationist base might largely abandon him.

Her position on the substance of the WALL is both right –and he knows it—and supported by a large majority of the American people and most likely by both houses of Congress.

They both ought to be able to agree as follows:

  1. In the future there cannot/will not be any shutdown of government, if either house disagrees with a simple majority vote.
  2. There will be $2.5 billion more for border security; of which up to $1.5 billion cannot be used for any form of fixed barrier but can be used by other forms of border protection as determined by experts.
  3. The DACA protective provisions will be extended for five years with a promise to seek a permanent resolution through a comprehensive immigration plan within that period of time.
  4. All furloughed government employees will immediately be paid all their back pay whether they worked or not.

It may be an imperfect plan BUT it should allow both sides to save face and get the innocents out of the middle as well as get a start on some other critical issues?

ADD-ON!

Also, agree to $5 billion overall for border security (agents, monitoring, interdiction, and yes a physical barrier in some places designated by experts), as long as the funding bill includes the following two provisions:

1) the Special Counsel shall prepare and make public a copy of the report he submits to the Attorney General, making redactions only when the Special Counsel, in his complete discretion, deems doing so in the national interest; and

2) If the special counsel is fired, then all the files, papers, reports, and other books and records of the special counsel shall be immediately turned over to the House and Senate oversight committees.

A Messianic Man vs A Savvy Woman

The Trump Pelosi standoff is whacky.

She rightly fears he has discovered political sex by bargaining with the jobs of 800,000 bystander government employees for something unrelated but politically important to him.

He probably rightly fears that if he ‘caves’ his racist, isolationist base might largely abandon him.

Her position on the substance of the WALL is both right –and he knows it—and supported by a large majority of the American people and most likely by both houses of Congress.

They both ought to be able to agree as follows:

  1. In the future there cannot/will not be any shutdown of government, if either house disagrees with a simple majority vote.
  2. There will be $2.5 billion more for border security; of which up to $1.5 billion cannot be used for any form of fixed barrier but can be used by other forms of border protection as determined by experts.
  3. The DACA protective provisions will be extended for five years with a promise to seek a permanent resolution through a comprehensive immigration plan within that period of time.
  4. All furloughed government employees will immediately be paid all their back pay whether they worked or not.

It may be an imperfect plan BUT it should allow both sides to save face and get the innocents out of the middle, as well as get a start on some other critical issues?

Scribbles on a Scrap of Discarded Paper

A scrap of paper on the floor of a corridor read as follows:

MONTHLY

Rent: $1680

Insurance: $145

Cable: $145

Gas: $70

Pepco: $80

Credit cards: $210        Total $2,680 or $2,700

Food: $200

Gas: $150

It’s obviously the napkin math of someone worried about money. Given that it was found in Washington, D.C., it’s reasonable to conclude it was dropped by a furloughed government employee.

The despair behind the note is palpable. One doesn’t write down such costs unless meeting them is a challenge. It’s easy to imagine the unknown author dropping the paper, raising their hands to the ceiling, and plaintively screaming, “What am I going to do???”

It’s a timely reminder that these are real people with real problems, and they need help.

And poor Trump cannot play golf!