How It Works

In the first Star Wars movie there is a scene with Darth Vader and the officers of the Imperial star ship. The commander says,


“The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old republic have been swept away  .  .  .  Fear will keep the local systems in line.”

That’s pretty much how Hitler did it. He didn’t actually make the Reichstag go away. He just neutered it into becoming a lap dog by means of The Enabling Act of 1933, which the council members passed due to fear for their lives.

It’s pretty much the same in Putin’s Russia, Erdoğan’s Turkey, Xi’s China and Duterte’s Phillippines. Eliminating legislative oversight is what authoritarians do to hoard all power for themselves. Most often it’s done with thug tactics. Just ask Putin opponent Alexei Navalny about his experience with Putin’s nerve poison. The message is always to do what the leader wants or be killed.

Shift to January 6, 2021, Washington, DC. It was a violent mob dispatched by Trump, a riot of Jesus-bannered, cross carrying thugs, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other militia hoodlums. They were there to overthrow the government – to eliminate Congress – so that Trump could take over the country.

Does that sound so extreme as to be preposterous? If so, you need to pay closer attention, because that’s exactly what those thugs said they were there to do, all at Trump’s bidding. They were there to murder any House or Senate members they found. They brought a noose to lynch Mike Pence. Those aren’t things people do in order to preserve their government.

Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick

And killing Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick isn’t what people do to protect and defend the Constitution.

Sicknick died defending 535 members of Congress and the symbol of America that is the Capitol Building. He was killed by Bible-thumping American terrorists, who most certainly weren’t promoting law and order or doing what Jesus would do.

Honoring Officer Brian Sicknick

Both before and since the insurrection, members of Congress have received death threats* to themselves and to their family members. As that is happening, Trump and 140 Representatives, 45 Senators, right-wing blatherers and all of those extreme hate groups are continuing to promote the Big Lie to overthrow the will of the people; i.e. to put a stake through the heart of democracy.

For any remaining skeptics: If not to overthrow the will of the people and democracy, what do you think that election fraud Big Lie is about? Surely, you don’t think those rioters are play acting when they attempt kill those in Congress. Surely, you don’t think they believe in democracy when they attempt to trash the votes of millions of Americans.

Click me

This is how democracies die. A cult leader exhorts fanatics, the thugs terrorize all opposition and incrementally people surrender to death threats and violence. And that’s advanced when 199 of our legislators give a standing ovation to the Qanon conspiracy nut case spewing fascist hatred. Yes, fascism can happen here in America.

I’ve exhorted readers to see what Vice President Wallace had to say about fascism in America. If you believe in democracy and have not yet read his essay, please read it now.

These violent, angry thugs won’t simply melt away if Trump disappears or if this current insurrection fails – and no, it isn’t over yet. You can expect acts of terrorism, including mass shootings and bombings and perhaps political assassinations over the coming years, as highly armed, angry, hateful, bigoted, self-righteous thugs continue their war against America.

Note that violence is only being conducted by right wing fanatics. Any attempt at “whataboutism,” any attack on the center or left to somehow justify this terrorism isn’t only a false equivalency; it’s a religiously bigoted threat to the life and safety of every American and it is an assault on our democracy.

There have been ongoing efforts to bridge our massive national divide. The truth is that I haven’t a clue how to make piece with the guys wearing Auschwitz t-shirts or the Naples, FL supermarket owner who claims 400,000 deaths are a lie and that the pandemic is “total hogwash.”** Perhaps worse, I don’t feel compelled to make peace with them.

Their baseless certainties represent the kind of reality denial that drives American terrorists to violence. Besides, the supermarket guy is allowing his mask-free store to be a super spreader center for Covid-19 infection. That’s another act of American violence.

I’m all for our learning to talk with one another constructively, to make peace, perhaps to have a truth and reconciliation commission. But that can only happen after violence is no longer a threat and democracy is secure. Reference: South Africa.

Now it’s time for all of us to stand and be counted in support of the FBI and whatever resources they need to stop the barbarians, including identifying the January 6 criminals. It’s imperative that we eliminate the clear and present danger that these home grown killers and desecrators are.

The terrorists have already breached the gates of democracy and are buoyed by their treasonous actions because they see January 6 as a victory for themselves. If we are to continue our bold experiment in self-rule, we better get some victories notched against the barbarians damned fast.



From Morgan Freeman as Judge Leonard White in the closing scene of the 1990 film, The Bonfire of the Vanities:


“I’ll tell you what justice is. Justice is the law. And the law is man’s feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency!

“And decency is not a deal. It isn’t an angle or a contract or a hustle. Decency – decency is what your grandmother taught you. It’s in your bones.

“Now, you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be decent.”


* For spewers of death threats, we all know that your anonymous threatening brands you a coward. It’s the act of people with such low self-esteem and sense of impotence that it’s the only thing they can find to help them feel powerful. With that in mind, I offer you a wish:

I wish you a pony in your back yard and a new bike to replace the one you ruined. I wish you unicorns crossing your path and pink, heart-shaped candies on Valentine’s Day.

Then, when you’re feeling all sweet from the candy, my real wish is for you to call or write those you threatened. Apologize to them and beg for forgiveness as an act of contrition. It will be your first step back into the embrace of democracy.

** That isn’t a hypothetical example; it’s what the guy said.

In fact, many people are claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax, even as they see death all around and see our over-maxed hospitals with exhausted, weeping staff and even as these deniers themselves gasp their last breath. I don’t understand that and have asked for an explanation, but none has been offered, so I’m asking again. If you can explain that, please do so in the Comments section below to help us all to understand.


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.


The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What do you think?

Your name and e-mail address are required, but your e-mail will not be disclosed.

Keep the conversation going by both adding your comments and by passing this along to three friends.
That´s how things get better.

6 Responses to How It Works
  1. David L. Lindgren Reply

    Jack, I want to get your Disambulation out to my friends. I list your blog on Facebook but it is not enough. I also share it in emails. And I need some better suggestions.
    And has any truly way Right of center responded to your posts, like you are requesting above? I have been trying to communicate with a few Far Right “friends” and have taken to reading conservative voices to see what they are up to. They sound very convincing in their articulations and writing and yet extremely dangerous in supporting their ultimately violent cause. Love your work, Jack.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Thanks for your effort to share my Disambiguations, Dave.

      FB is only useful for sharing insofar as the number of folks following you and their frequency of viewing your site and then click-throughs. A more direct route that may prove to be more effective is simply to email your recommendation and a link to my home page to your distribution list. It’s more cumbersome than a passive link through FB, but probably more effective.

      As for your Far Right “friends” with their very convincing articulations and writings, I suggest a double check of what they say. My experience is that what is said by folks of that persuasion includes accusations and declarations of outrage, but no evidence to support the claims, like the baseless claims of election fraud. I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding and experience are that accusation is not the same as proof. If all that is required to nail down reality and guilt is an accusation, then we can do away with trials and juries and go straight to the sentencing phase.

      Which is how they get to the violence they ultimately create, like on January 6.

      No thought, no analysis, no critical thinking. Just accusation and retribution. And now that kind of mindset (passion-set, really) is combined with Jesus certainty, so anything done in pursuit of their self-articulated, unexamined claims is felt by them as holy. Welcome to the new Crusades.

      • David L. Lindgren Reply

        What I find in “speaking” with my Conservative “friends” is that the essence of their escape into the tyranny of Trumpism is one of distrust. Most of them were raised in families where they either bowed to the authority figure or bowed to never trust anyone in authority. Many of them can give their blow by blow of history of not trusting anyone in power on the “other side”. They are totally unrealistic and borderline psychotic when it comes down to reasoning. The upshot or downshot is a paranoid-like reasoning. To get most of them to convert to some humanitarian concern is out of their range. Trump was the authoritarian fighter that they could trust no matter how many lies and character defects. So it is okay to stay within some distance but I am inclined to enjoy blowing all of their theories out of the park. And I trust my anger that it is not out of control but directed toward some reasonable sensitivity.

  2. Marti Swanson Reply

    Please explain: There have been ongoing efforts to bridge our massive national divide. The truth is that I haven’t a clue how to make piece with the guys wearing Auschwitz t-shirts or the California supermarket owner who claims 400,000 deaths are a lie and that the pandemic is “total hogwash.”** Perhaps worse, I don’t feel compelled to make piece [?] with them.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Explanation: I am Captain Typo. It’s fixed now. Thanks for the pointer, Marti.

  3. John Calia Reply

    It’s a sound argument. I wonder if the arrest of the domestic terrorists who attacked the capital will winnow the herd. Just as Antifa used #BLM protests as cover for their violent acts, the Proud Boys used the Trump rallies as cover for theirs. Will the merely misguided but not violent marchers show up next time? Will the tiny minority be exposed? Frankly, I don’t want to find out. I’d rather they stay home and harbor their grudges.