Authors: Frank J. Derfler
Bill stuck his right leg over the side of the hammock and gave a push to get them swinging. He said, "The separation of powers between the three branches of federal government works pretty well as long as all three segments of government are not corrupted in the same way at the same time."
"One man's corruption is another man's ideal condition," Janet observed.
“Exactly,” Bill replied. “Perhaps the United States has become too large, too diverse, too ethnically unwieldy and too polarized for a federal system to work. Could we today get a simple majority consensus on our national interests? How can we be effective without a shared consensus?”
Janet made a face, “Have we ever been able to do that? Big states versus little states, agriculture versus industry, capitalists versus labor, upstream versus downstream. The Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention were hotbeds of political maneuvering and personal greed. Is it any worse now?”
They spent another hour in the hammock before wandering into the house for lunch. They took their sandwiches into Bill's office. Janet's laptop had a spot on the credenza, but Bill had promised her a desk and chair as a wedding gift. Bill had a large whiteboard on one wall of the office. It was full of "to-do" list items and some diagrams for projects around the house. He erased most the board, leaving one small diagram with a border around it.
"That's an idea for a fountain I had for the back yard," he explained almost shyly.
"And I love you for it," Janet said.
"Wow," Bill said quietly.
They both smiled at one another and then Bill took a professorial stance in front of the white board.
"So what have we got?" he asked rhetorically. "We've got books full of examples of governments that rose, flourished, and then fell. I am no expert on the Chinese, Mongols, Japanese, or even Egyptians, but they were royalist and feudal, so I'm not sure whether they apply."
"I'd say not," Janet said from his desk chair. She had her feet gracefully tucked under her and he was reminded of how she looked a dozen years ago in Destin.
He smiled at her and then took off again, “Okay, so in participative government, you have Greece, particularly under Alexander, that lasted a couple of hundred years. Rome, under the Caesars, lasted more or less three hundred years. The Roman empire was, to use your term, the ultimate mixing bowl."
She swung the desk chair around in a circle and came back to facing him, "Ah, yes, but it wasn't peaceful. Caesar crossed the Rubicon and fought Pompey. Anthony and Octavius fought practically everywhere. The history of the Roman Empire is shot through with civil war. And I would argue that it was the British Empire that was the largest mixing bowl in history. North America, Africa, Arabia, Central Asia, the South Pacific... they had it all."
Bill nodded and wrote British Empire next to Greece and Rome on the white board. "Caesar crossed the Rubicon," he repeated and nodded. "When Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was breaking an ancient law about a general bringing an army home to threaten Rome. He was breaking an ancient law."
Sally just nodded. Bill was obviously on a roll.
"One thing all of these participative governments brought to the people was a body of laws and some degree of fairness in their application. British Common Law and the Code de Napoleon are the two best examples for us. It's when the laws aren't enforced, or are enforced unfairly, that things quickly fall apart."
"There is no benefit to having a government if the laws aren't enforced. The same thing is true of Christian Church Law and Sharia Law," Janet supplied.
Bill played with the marker for the white board. "I don't want to work to prove a hypothesis, but could we start with some scenarios that involve loss of faith in the United States judicial system?"
Janet stood up and stretched like a cat. Bill thought it was delightful. She talked as she walked around the room looking at the books on his many bookshelves. "The easiest scenario to project is election fraud in twenty ten or twenty twelve. Right now conservatives are organizing in splintered, but really enthusiastic fashion. The class of people who are 'entitled'... who pay no taxes and who rely on government handouts... is large and growing fast. The liberal and intellectual coalition has the levers of power and has no shame and no fear of unfair play, stacking the deck, or other practices that people perceive as immoral or even illegal."
Bill was now standing against the wall watching his new wife. He was enthralled. "So, what happens?" he asked to prompt her along.
"So, the liberals steal the twenty twelve election. Lord knows the Democrats thought George W. stole the election from Gore in two thousand. I mean redistricting, gerrymandering, motor voter, losing or finding absentee ballots, it's all about getting the votes one way or another. But, let's say there is physical intimidation at specific polling places. Or even bombings at polling places in Conservative areas or something." She turned to him, "It would have to be physical. Physical harm to the voters. Physical harm that does not receive justice in the courts or that leads to injustice."
He nodded and said, "No faith in the executive branch, disgust with the legislative branch, and breach of faith with the judicial branch. Nothing left."
"Worse," she expanded. "Actual maltreatment by the judicial branch. Whatever it is has to be wide spread, but yet focused unfairly on a specific group."
"Then the shooting starts," Bill said.
"In the US?" she replied. "You don't even know the half of it. Explosives, anthrax, radioactive waste, it's all out there in the US and there is also a lot of skill behind it. A couple of generations of US Citizens learned the art of asymmetrical warfare in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Justice Department held classified seminars about this stuff and it drives Homeland Security nuts. That's why military veterans made the list of potential subversives that some idiot issued. They know how to make things go boom in all the important places."
"MacArthur and the Veterans," he said.
She smiled, "The Bonus Army. That's another reason I love you. We speak the same language."
He was almost embarrassed and waved at the bookshelves. "It's more like we read the same dusty old books."
The two historians knew that in 1932 Douglas MacArthur was ordered by President Hoover to disperse a group of over 40,000 protestors, most of them World War I veterans, who wanted immediate payment on federal promissory certificates they had received for their service. The newspapers called the protestors the 'Bonus Army'. The recession was hurting the country and the Veterans wanted their full payment. Washington DC police tried to disassemble the military-style camp created by the Bonus Army and there was gunfire. Hoover told MacArthur to use US Army forces to move them out. Under MacArthur's orders, Major George S. Patton led the 3rd Cavalry Regiment on horseback, supported by tanks, in a charge against the camp. Hundreds of the Veterans were injured and several were killed.
"But did you know," she asked, "that way before MacArthur and the Bonus Army there was an earlier battle between veterans and the Army?"
"Huh?" was his reply.
"It was in 1783 and the circumstances were almost exactly the same. Except, of course, there was no Capitol in Washington D.C. Veterans of the Continental Army marched on Philadelphia and demanded their pay. The U.S. Congress, even then they were nothing but thieves, ran up the road to Princeton, New Jersey while the Federal Army cleared out the protestors. "
"Hmmm. Did you hear the twist about what happened to the Bonus Army after FDR got into office?" He asked.
"Didn't he meet with them and Eleanor poured them coffee? I remember the photo in a book. Always the personal touch for her."
"Yeah, but the twist," he replied, "is that in order to make peace, FDR offered the Bonus Army Veterans jobs working on Henry Flagler's railroad in the Florida Keys." he said.
Janet's hand went to her mouth. "I never put it together," she said. "I always read that hundreds of World War One Veterans were killed in the nineteen thirty-five Labor Day hurricane. I've been to Key West. I've seen the railroad bridges in the Keys that were wrecked, but I never put it together with the Bonus Army. My God, Patton ran them down with tanks, horses, and sabers in Washington and then FDR got them killed by neglect in Florida."
"Isn't history great stuff?" Bill asked.
Chapter 9: "A Tough Decision"
Thursday, November 5, 2009 1441 Eastern
A Back Road on Homestead Air Reserve Base, Homestead, Florida
Excerpt from the Personal Narrative of Mr. Ted Arthurs, PhD
Recorded May 2014
"We have almost always operated in reactive mode. We have to carefully analyze our options and weigh our actions. The possibility of doing more harm than good is something we saw clearly in 1996. There are scenarios that show our planned actions to prevent the Vietnam War as causing a nuclear exchange that destroys a large part of Florida. The possibility of doing harm is always a first consideration for us. I wish politicians would take the same approach.”
Major General Ted Arthurs was into the third mile of his run when the cell phone in the front pocket of his running shorts sounded the cavalry charge that indicated a call from the Project's Operations Room. He stopped his jog, fished out the phone, slid his finger along the bottom bar and said, "Arthurs".
"Sir, we have a CRITIC message you should see." It was the voice of Air Force Master Sergeant Jerry Novak, the current shift's Duty Controller.
"I'm on the base road out past the fuel tanks in my running shorts. Can you ask Missus Arthurs to come get me?"
"Sir, when she read the message she told us to tell you she was going to the school and then she tore out of here."
“What the hell?”
The hair stood up on Ted's arms. The only thing he could think of was some threat to their children. As he looked around, the world looked peaceful, but what was out there? Only a second passed and he still had the phone to his ear. He was about to say something when he noticed a small Air Force blue pickup truck pull out of the fuel farm and head toward him. "I'll get a ride," he said into the phone and hung up.
The base speed limit in this area was thirty miles an hour, so the small truck was moving slowly. Ted stood in the road and waved his arms. There were two people wearing baseball-style fatigue caps in the truck and both windows were down.
When the truck stopped and Ted approached the driver's side, he saw that there were two enlisted women in the truck. "Thanks for stopping," he said. "I just got a call. Something is going on and I need to get back to my unit quickly."
"Where's that?" the driver asked.
"That white building near the end of the flight line. I really need to get there."
The driver shrugged and said, "Get in." She indicated the passenger side door with her head.
The woman on the passenger's side undid her seatbelt and slid into the middle as Ted got in. He was aware that he was sweaty and tried not to crowd the other passenger, but the single seat of the Japanese-made light truck was a tight fit. Both women wore the two stripes of an Airman First Class on their fatigues and he thought they looked like they were about eighteen years old, but he was getting to be a bad judge of age.
"What's going on?" asked the driver.
"I have no idea, but my guys called and said I need to get back quick."
The sound of the base alert siren punctuated his sentence. The driver continued on, but all three of them were listening for the announcement they knew would follow the 30-second siren blast. The 30 seconds seemed to go on forever. At thirty miles an hour they had just covered less than half the distance back to the Project. Then they heard the announcement, "Attention on base, set Force Protection Charlie. This is not a drill. Set Force Protection Charlie."