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Monday, December 18, 2017

Be prepared

MoveOn and many other organizations are planning ahead. No one knows what might happen in the next few days, but there have been rumors that Donald Trump may try to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House Council (1970-1973), has said that Trump may have already obstructed justice.

According to the MoveOn rapid response initiative, Nobody is Above the Law, if Trump does fire Mueller, "This would be a constitutional crisis for our country. It would demand an immediate and unequivocal response to show that we will not tolerate abuse of power from Donald Trump. Our response in the minutes and hours following a power grab will dictate what happens next, and whether Congress—the only body with the constitutional power and obligation to rein Trump in from his rampage—will do anything to stand up to him."

Megan G. has created an event in La Crosse, one of hundreds planned around the world. Check out the site and sign up to participate if necesary.

This brings up a book we mentioned earlier this year and brought up again in a recent conversation. In February, Yale history professor, Timothy Snyder, published a book called, ON TYRANNY: 20 LESSONS FROM THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. It's a short book that describes what has happened in the past, what the danger signs are, and how to avoid mistakes that have lead other societies in other times down the wrong path. 

Lesson one: “Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.”

We believe we are protected by rules and laws, but what happens when those in power don't bother about rules and laws? What happens when the rules and laws support or ignore inequality, illegal elections activities, genocide, war crimes, resource theft, life threatening pollution, racism, climate disaster, and war? What happens when laws allow "protectors" to murder people without penalty or to steal their money and possesions?
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! - Mario Savio

In 2004, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind wrote a frightening portrait of the Bush administration for the New York Times Magazine, Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency of George W. Bush.  Suskind describes an encounter he had with a senior administration official:
"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
"The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
What if the new reality the current batch of "history's actors" creates overthrows democracy?
The last lesson in "On Tyranny" is to be as courageous as you can. Do you actually care enough about freedom that you would take risks? Do individuals actually care about freedom? Think that through. I think if enough of us take the little risks at the beginning, which aren't really that significant, this will prevent us from having to take bigger risks down the line. - Prof. Timothy Snyder, Salon, May 1, 2017
 UPDATE: Former Attorney General Sally Yates seems to agree. "Sally Yates calls for uprising of Americans to ‘stand up, speak out’ and relocate ‘core values’"


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