Wednesday, November 02, 2022

A relationship based on a lie

In my early 30's, I lived overseas, but eventually returned to the United States.  I wanted to settle down.  I wanted to buy a house.  I wanted to get a serious job.  

After a six week job search,  I joined an up-and-coming tech company with lots of really sharp, motivated people.  It was exhilirating; I was pumped.

For my first major assignment, I worked with an application engineer, promoting a particular technology to a particular group of customers.  The application engineer gave technical talks and I handled the business and contracting issues. Working together, we were very successful.

However, there was a downside to this for me.  The app engineer assumed that in any given situation, I had not done my research or my homework and any statements I made were untrustworthy.   Occasionally, she made critical or disparaging remarks.

I found this deeply insulting and hurtful, particularly because it was not true.  I am the kind of person who always does my homework, completes my assignments, and when I speak I have facts and evidence that support my position.

However, I did not try to address this objectionable behavior with the app engineer.  I was worried that she would complain about me to her boss, then it would be passed along to my boss, and my next annual review would state that I "could not get along with people". The company had a culture of toxic gossip and I really needed the job and the paycheck.

So I sucked it up.  I said nothing.  I felt angry and resentful, but I put a lid on it.

Business situations required the app engineer and I travel together to see customers.  On these trips, we discussed many non-work topics.  The app engineer realized I did not know anyone in the area.  The app engineer and her husband had a lot of social connections.  They invited me to various parties.  I was grateful for the invitations. 

Finally, there was an opportunity for a transfer inside the company and I jumped at it.  The new position had challenges, but at least I was not subject to critical and disparaging remarks. 

I continued to accept social invitations from the app engineer and her husband.  Slowly, but surely, I developed a friendship network of my own, apart from the app engineer and my employment.  

I stayed in touch with the app engineer.  In my new position, I would sometimes deal with challenging human resource situations;  I would contact the app engineer to get her take on the situation.  She frequently had good input and good advice.  Unfortunately, it would be delivered with a condescending tone and attitude.

This was happening at a time when the word "mentor" did not exist.  There were plenty of men in the business world who did not welcome women.  Rather, we were told we should be assuming our God-given role of bearing and raising children.  So, no chance that these men with valuable business experience would ever help or share any insights into addressing business issues.  One had to make do with what was available, even if it meant suffering humiliation.

To avoid the humiliation, I would do my best to figure things out myself, but sometimes you just needed another opinion.  My relationship with the app engineer continued along these lines with occasional social interactions.

One day,  I realized I had enough of this.  The app engineer, another female friend, and I were ordering lunch at a restaurant.  I asked the waiter if I could have my sandwich with whole wheat bread (instead of white) as I was trying to improve my diet.  The app engineer flew into a rage and started yelling at me about the difference between whole wheat and wheat berries and how I didn't know what I was talking about. I think everyone at the restaurant heard this diatribe.  I was shocked, in fact I felt a very unpleasant tingle going through my whole body.  I said nothing for the rest of the lunch. I was not going to be treated this way again.  

So going forward, I declined invitations with the app engineer.  After about six months, the app engineer contacted me and demanded to know why I was avoiding her.  So, I told her that I was fed up with her  insulting and disparaging remarks.  I explained it was obvious that she did not respect me, because if she did, she would not treat me this way.  So I was doing us both a favor and letting her off the hook;  I did not want her to feel obligated to have a friendship with an idiot.  No need for her to do that; I hoped she would spend more time with the people she respected. 

The app engineer professed shock and insisted that she did respect me.  I laughed.  I brought up circumstances and situations where she had humiliated me.  A couple of days later she asked me if I would consider resuming our friendship if she stopped making disparaging remarks.  I laughed and said of course, but again, if she had any respect for me, she would not have done this in the first place.  

So reluctantly, I  resumed the friendship.  For about six months, there were no condescending remarks or insults.  But then it started up again.  

At this point, we had almost nothing in common.  The app engineer had retired very early; I was still involved in the tech world. The app engineer travelled extensively; I did not.  The app engineer was very involved with her grandchild; I was not interested.  The app engineer did a lot of volunteer work; I tried volunteer work, but did not like it, and was not interested.

So with no common interests, I thought our association would just gradually fade away.  It did not.  For some reason, it was very important to the app engineer to stay in touch with me and to  participate in activities together.  I thought I could handle this once or twice a year.  

Recently the app engineer contacted me to get together for my birthday.  She had a birthday card, a gift, and wanted to take me to dinner.  

When the app engineer arrived, we took a walk by the ocean.  Then we returned to my house, where my husband joined us, and the app engineer started in on the little micro insults.  

I do not recall how this unimportant topic came up, but my husband and I  had recently given away a large television and modern glass tv stand.  We listed the items as "no charge" on Craigslist.  The app engineer explained that was not the right way to go about it; the app engineer always uses Freecycle, not Craigslist.  The app engineer explained that the best method is to wait for responses to the ad where the respondent explains how and why they would like the item.  Those are the people most likely to show up and claim the item.

There was a moment of silence.  

No one asked the app engineer for her opinion.  Not only did we get her opinion, but the implication was that we had gone about this incorrectly.  We were being scolded and corrected.  From our point view, this was ludicrous.  Who cares?  The stuff was gone.   The conversation moved along in another direction.  

That was a mistake.

Rather than move on, we might have asked the app engineer why she was providing this advice.  We might have gently pointed out that the items were gone, so we considered the matter closed.

The advantage of asking such a question would be to get the app engineer to reflect on her own motivations for this line of discourse.  Perhaps the app engineer would  realize that she was being bossy, superior, dictatorial, and slightly righteous.  All of these are undesirable qualities -- most assuredly unwelcomed by her audience.  

Or perhaps she would have told us that we obviously did not know the correct method for giving away household items we no longer wanted, and therefore, she needed to explain it to us. 

This could have opened up a deeper conversation about the many many interactions with the app engineer that revealed a bossy, superior, dictatorial and slightly righteous attitude towards other people. 

So why did we fail to open the conversation into something more meaningful?  

After years and years of tolerating this demeaning and abusive behavior, I have become desensitized to it.  I no longer have a strong negative reaction I have to suppress.  Instead, after being around the app engineer for a few hours, I feel annoyed; the same kind of feeling you get when there's a fly or mosquito buzzing around you for a few hours, and you can't quite manage to smack it with the fly swatter, but you are really sick of it.  Then finally you open a door or a window and watch the annoyance fly away.   

Am I responsible for this sorry state of affairs?  Partially.  This is a relationship based on a lie.  The lie is that it is okay to abuse me.  Unfortunately, the bad behavior is set.  Maybe it could have been a good relationship if I had set boundaries in the beginning.  But, over fear for my job, I did not set boundaries, and now the bad behaviors are repeated over and over again.

I believe, deep down, the app engineer is a kind and loving person.  For some reason her interaction style with other people is bossy, superior, dictatorial and slightly righteous.  Most people do not want someone like that in their lives.  I feel sorry for the app engineer.



Saturday, March 19, 2022

Respecting servers in restaurants

My friend Sara is allergic to peppers.  

This means bell peppers, ancho chiles, pepperoncini, banana peppers, piquillos, poblanos, Cuban peppers, Anaheim, pasilla, jalapenos, Fresno, Serrano, cayenne, Habanero, and so on.

When Sara orders at a restaurant, she informs the server of her allergy, and asks if specific items on the menu contain these ingredients.  

The trouble is ... it is never a simple interaction.  

Sara raises her voice, enunciating very precisely, carefully, and loudly, that she is allergic to peppers.  She then elaborates by reciting a list of the types of peppers.  Then she dramatically pauses, and adds "but not black pepper" waving her hands to gesture that black pepper is okay. This goes on for three to five minutes, as some parts of it are repeated.

Sara delivers her speech in a way to suggest that the server does not comprehend spoken English, and/or suffers from a mental defect.

Sometimes the server is knowledgeable about the ingredients of the particular menu item, and sometimes the server has to go away to check.  Once in a while, the server is rattled.  On one occasion, I ordered a salad that was supposed to contain strips of julienne red bell pepper, but the salad arrived pepper-less.  The server possibly thought that Sara's eschewing of peppers included everyone in the party, and not just Sara.  

On all of these occasions, I have felt embarrassed.  To me, this manner of communication insults and humiliates the server.  I believe Sara intends to be clear, not insulting.  I try to leave a larger tip as my way of apologizing for Sara's behavior.  I don't know if that is enough.  Having been a server myself in my early 20's, I know that after serving someone like Sara -- someone who demeaned and humiliated me -- I would have gone home and cried and cried.

So why does Sara communicate in this way? 

Possibly in the past, Sara consumed a restaurant entree containing some type of pepper, suffered a strong allergic reaction, became seriously ill, and was hospitalized.  But if that were the case, Sara could review the restaurant menu online, in advance, see the ingredients, and then phone the restaurant to confirm the ingredient list.  No need to wait until seated at the restaurant to interrogate the server.  Or, Sara could prepare some 3x5 cards with a list of her pepper allergies and hand it to the server, so the server could review it, or take it to the chef to inquire.

Another possibility is that Sara believes all servers are mentally defective.   

However, let's consider that about 40% of servers have bachelor's degrees and another 15% have associate's degrees.(Note 1)  So roughly 55% of servers have advanced degrees.  The probability that your server is reasonably intelligent is likely.  

Having known Sara for a long time, I know that Sara has a rigid value system that is something like this:

  • Purpose of Education:  Obtain a high paying job
  • Best way to get a high paying job:  Degree in computer science
  • Therefore, proof of intelligence:  Degree in computer science
Sara is entitled to her own value system. 
I have a different value system:
  • Purpose of Education:  Knowledge for the sake of knowledge; to be an educated human being
  • Best way to get a high paying job:  Not a priority; not part of the value system
  • Proof of intelligence:  Ability to think and write critically

I believe what happens in these very unpleasant restaurant interactions, is that Sara applies her value system like this:

  • This server earns less money than me, therefore the server must be stupid, because the purpose of work is to earn as much money as possible.  
  • The smartest people in the world earn the most money.  
  • If someone goes to college, they would study the subject that got them the highest paying job.  So even if the server is a college graduate, they were stupid not to study something that would get them a high paying job.  
  • A degree in computer science is more difficult to achieve than a degree in history, religion, economics, biology, chemistry, art, drama, etc.  Therefore, I am more intelligent than anyone who studied the other subjects.  
  • It is not possible that a person wanted to become educated; of course they wanted job training. 
  • It is not possible that a person could have studied computer science, but consciously chose to study something else, even if the other field of study did not offer the same job skills/earning potential.

So what can I do about this conflict with Sara?  

I do not want to dine in a restaurant with someone who mistreats and abuses the server, even if that was not the intention.  I do not want to be complicit in or support this behavior.

I appreciate that each of us has our own values.    I do not like the idea that someone's values serve as a  weapon to abuse others. 

My affinity is with the servers, and I will have to decline restaurant invitations with Sara.


(Note 1)  Research from Zippia (an employment research firm) indicates that in the United States, about 40% of servers have bachelor's degrees.  See:

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Why I wrote the blog post "Why I don't believe you"

In April 2021, I wrote a blog post "Why I don't believe you". 

So why did I write that?   What prompted that blog post?
I had a terrible experience -- a betrayal -- from a close friend.  Although I felt humiliated and very sad, I found forgiveness in my heart and did my best to put it behind me.  I did not want to confront my friend; I did not want to discuss it or revisit it; the whole thing was just too sad and painful.
But over a two year period, the friend kept bringing it up, in different ways, some subtle, and some direct.  The last time the topic came up, I actually believed that my friend honestly and sincerely wanted me to answer questions about the whole ordeal.    This time, I did not change the subject, leave, or avoid it.  I felt "well... let's get it over with..." 
We had a conversation.

I answered the first question.  Then, I answered the second question.  As I started to answer the third question,  the friend angrily interrupted:  "Well what about you?   You did X and Y!"   So instead of answering sincere and honest questions, I was attacked.  Any time I tried to answer one of the now, presumably rhetorical questions,  I got a "whataboutism",  an interruption,  or an attack.  This continued for about 45 minutes. Actually I did not need to be there as I had little opportunity to provide any answers.  It was not a conversation, but more of a very angry tongue lashing.
By this time in the "conversation",  I started to disassociate.  I felt light-headed.  I lost track of where I was.  I was confused.  I find it extremely difficult to talk while feeling deep emotions, and humiliation and betrayal are very deep feelings.
This conversation felt very unfair.  In my experience, as a manager, when you want to know or learn something from a person, you ask a question and then you shut up.  You let the person answering take as long as they need to answer, and you never, ever interrupt.  You wait a while after they have finished to make certain they have finished answering.  Only then do you ask your next question.
That was not happening in this situation.  
One thing I did learn from my friend is that I had been making hurtful comments to her every time we had been together. She provided an example. 

Over the next few days I reflected on the accusation that I had made hurtful remarks.  I had been extremely angry about the betrayal, but, could not discuss the source of that anger with her for business reasons.  So I figured that yes, even though I was attempting to keep a lid on my unexpressed anger, it was likely coming out as hurtful remarks. 
I took responsibility for my behavior.  I hand-wrote an apology on a nice card and mailed it to my friend: 
During our visit, a week ago Friday, you told me that I had been belittling you, making little digs, and putting you down.  I was unaware that I had been doing this, so I am glad that you brought it to my attention.  I should not have done that.  I am truly sorry for my behavior; it was deplorable.  You deserve to be treated with respect.   Please accept my sincere apology.
A couple of weeks later, the friend sent me an email accepting my apology.  I was grateful that my apology was acknowledged and accepted.  I have not said an unkind word to my friend since then.  

However, there was still the problem of everything else that happened during the verbal tongue lashing that had masqueraded as an honest, sincere conversation.  The conversation had turned into a metaphorical conflagration that only answered some questions, resolved nothing, and made matters worse.  I started thinking about how I could communicate everything that happened,  how I felt about it, without getting interrupted or attacked.
My solution was to write a full accounting of all the events.  Answer all the questions that had, and had not, been asked during the conversation / angry tongue lashing. Share my feelings about the events.
The April 2021 blog post "Why I don't believe you" answers all the questions.  That is why I wrote it;  to finally and completely disclose everything.  Blog posts cannot be interrupted.  They cannot be shouted down.  
There is nothing left for me to state on this topic.  Finally, I am putting it behind me.



Friday, September 24, 2021

A very enjoyable root canal

"You need a root canal, hon," the pretty endodontist announced as she studied the cat scan image of my head.  

 "Okay.  Let's do it.  I don't want to think, worry, or fret about it.  Let's get it done." I replied, anticipating an end to the pain in the swollen gland under my jaw.  

 Two days later, I showed up,  with the benefit of a Halcion pill I ingested an hour earlier.

I have never had a root canal, but I knew the horror stories of agony and pain.   

Everyone in the endodontist office was a "Person of Color".  Interesting.  The new America.  I adjusted my ear buds to listen to the deep calm meditation audio files and prepared to endure whatever might happen in the next hour.

What a surprise!

The pretty endodontist and the dental technician smoothly executed the procedure -- as if they had done it so many times before, they could do it blindfolded.  I felt reassured.  

Then the banter started.  Fascinating banter that caused me to turn off the iPhone meditation tracks and listen to them.  

They discussed the Russian pop music scene, the Cuban music scene, the Afro-Cuban music scene, and the best living in South America.  Apparently, the country of Columbia offers the best work/life balance. I had a lot of questions, but with a mouth crammed with dental apparatus, impossible to ask anything.

The electric motors from the dental equipment reverberated in my ears.  Normally I hate that and tense up and feel miserable.  Thanks to Halcion, I did not care.  The building could start on fire and I would not care.  

Then it was over.

I took over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain killers for two days.  Then the pain was over.

My tooth is saved.  I have new musical interests to explore.  I want to travel to Columbia.  I feel enlightened. 

Thank you Dr. Niyati Patel.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Why I Don't Believe You

This is an essay about the end of a friendship.

Note that the character "Carleton" is an employee of the author, and also the son of the author's friend "Jill".

In October of 2018, I was in my office standing next to one of my employees, Carleton, waiting for a third person to get off the phone and join us in a meeting.  I casually asked Carleton what his plans were for Thanksgiving.  I knew that he usually spent the day with his father and his father’s family.   Carleton looked me in the eye and in a very matter-of-fact voice, told me that he and his brother were going to have lunch with his father, the day after Thanksgiving at a specific time at a specific restaurant! 

I said "that sounds pleasant." As we continued to wait, in silence, I inquired if he had a plan for Thanksgiving Day?   Suddenly Carleton got very uncomfortable.  He looked at his feet.  He shifted his position to take a step back.  Then he said very quietly “my brother and I are going on a hike”. I said “oh should be a great day for a hike.”  Then the third person got off the phone, joined us and we started our meeting.

I did not give this very brief discussion with Carleton any additional  thought,  except to note that I had inadvertently made him extremely uncomfortable.  I felt that he was concealing something from me, but, his private life is his business; I did not think about it again.

A few days later, I walked over to Carleton's cubicle, to ask him a question. However he was not there.   I happened to notice,  though, a document on his desk that said “Thanksgiving Day” and listed his mother Jill, his brother, Dylan, and himself.  It was some kind of hiking itinerary for the entire day.

I found this rather puzzling, because Jill had accepted my invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. Jill had not informed me of any change in her plans.

I wondered what was going on.  

Although there might have been many explanations,  the most logical one seemed to be that Jill and Carleton and Dylan were planning on spending Thanksgiving day together.

So why was I not informed of this change of plans?  I thought perhaps there was a discussion about hiking, but no definite settled plan.  So perhaps Jill still planned to attend Thanksgiving dinner. 

I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I did not want to ask Jill what was going on as I did not want to put my employee Carleton in an awkward position with his mother.  

I trusted that within the next two weeks Jill would clarify for me that she was not coming,  or she was coming, or she would be late, or she would explain in some way exactly what was going on.

From that day in October up until Thanksgiving Day,  Jill and I went on a few walks and the topic did not come up.

I found the situation rather stressful, because if Jill did not plan to attend, there were others I could invite. But, Jill had accepted the invitation,  so I had to trust that she would keep her word. 

About two weeks before Thanksgiving, I discussed the situation with  a friend who does not know (and would never know) any of the parties involved.  I explained my concerns. The friend said,  “well why don't you invite the two young men along with Jill to Thanksgiving dinner. You know, the more the merrier.”  

I thought that might be a good solution to the problem, so I sent a quick note to Jill and said “oh by the way if Carleton and Dylan are visiting you for Thanksgiving, they are welcome at my house for dinner.”  

Jill declined the invitation on their behalf. But she did not decline for herself, even though, I felt I had opened the door to make that easy.

And then it was Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I put a lot of energy and effort into the Thanksgiving dinner, as we always do. 

About ten minutes before the dinner began I received a text message from Jill stating that she wasn't feeling well and would not be attending.  

The other guests noticed my distress.  I did my best to carry on, but it was a dark cloud on an otherwise lovely day.

Of course,  I did not believe that Jill was ill.  Jill was off hiking with her two sons.  I felt embarrassed and humiliated.  How could a close friend blow me off in this cruel way?  I had to face the facts:

  • Jill knew she was declining my Thanksgiving invitation for several weeks, but did not inform me.

  • Jill conspired with one of my employees to lie to me. The day that Carleton had been uncomfortable, looked at his feet, and stepped back, came into sharp focus;  Carleton had been told to lie to me about the true plans for Thanksgiving Day. Why else did my innocent question make him so uncomfortable?  And what kind of mother tells her son to lie to his employer?

  • I thought of several lovely people I could have invited to replace Jill.   I kicked myself for trusting someone who I thought was a close friend.

So, the adult children wanted to go on a hike on Thanksgiving Day and Jill blew me off in favor of her children.  While it is understandable to prefer your children, the courteous behavior is to advise the hostess of your changed plans, when you know them.

The  day after Thanksgiving, I received a text message from Jill asking if I had received her text the previous day, about not showing up on Thanksgiving Day due to illness.   

I replied that yes I had received it.  

She responded “Oh I'm so relieved”.  

I found myself thinking “why are you relieved?”  Did Jill believe that we were holding up Thanksgiving dinner, waiting for her to arrive, and that if we had not received her text, then we would have been waiting hours for her to show up while the dinner got cold?  

Somehow in her mind, texting regrets on the day of a major social occasion is sufficient to excuse one's behavior.  I wonder where this belief comes from?

For the next several months I was very angry about the whole situation. But there was not a lot I could do in order not to jeopardize my business relationship with my employee, Carleton.  I could not confront Jill as I could not reveal the source of my information.

Due to Jill's egregious behavior, my relationship with her grew strained.  It took about six months and then I got over it.  Little did I know that the situation would become far worse.

In the Spring of 2019,  my husband and I had our annual spring dinner called Oy!ster.   I was writing and revising  a play for the event and I was very excited about having the guests participate in the play. This was probably the only time when I could have a staged reading of my play. I had even told a well-known local actor and his playwright wife,  that I was going to have a staged reading about my play. They loved the concept of Pharaoh’s crisis in leadership; they were really supportive and enthusiastic.   I ordered masks for the plagues and had stage direction and other props.  It was going to be splendid!  And I was sure everyone would have a great time.

I had made some mistakes on the invitation -- left some people out and screwed up some other email addresses.  Jill, was accidentally left off the invitation. 

Jill took great umbrage at this, and gave me a piece of her mind.  I was shocked.  One does not normally assume they are entitled to an invitation. 

Jill went through the list of people who were invited and commented on their relative merit for receiving an invitation. My guest list was none of her business! 

Over the next week, Jill contacted me more than once to let me know that it was her son Dylan's birthday on the day of Oy!ster.   She had apparently made plans with him. Well, I thought,  that was too bad, and I hoped they had a nice birthday party.  

But for some reason Jill felt the event should be reorganized around her requirements. Jill said she could delay Dylan's birthday party, come to our event, and then leave early. But this would not work at all, because we were going to start the play after everyone arrived, and it would not work to have someone leave in the middle or near the end of the play. It would be disruptive. It would spoil the play. The play was really important to me.

For a while, I thought Jill might be on drugs. Who would be so arrogant as to think that someone else would or should plan a party around their requirements?   You receive an invitation -- promptly accept (and show up) or decline.  You do not badger the hostess; the person who kindly extended the invitation. 

But Jill doubled down; she wanted to negotiate the terms and conditions of the invitation. She wanted it to be a party that she and I  “co-hosted”; I was not interested. 

But then Jill doubled down again. She said okay; she would come for the beginning of the party and stay till the end.   

But this was not a credible statement, given that she had blown me off before to accommodate the whims of her adult children.

Was Jill really going to abide by the rules of etiquette and the conditions of the party? No I don't think so. 

Jill had previously gone to great lengths for her adult children -- conspiring with them to lie to their employer -- all to accommodate her needs and wishes.

The other extremely mysterious thing about this turn of events was why was Jill so committed and so adamant and so determined to attend Oy!ster and so committed and so adamant and so determined not to attend Thanksgiving?   

So no.  No way a kid’s birthday party was going to interfere with my play.  Regardless of what she said, Jill was going to interrupt the play to get home to her son’s birthday party. 

So where do we go from here?   

The first edition of Emily Post's Etiquette was published in 1922.  It is widely accepted as the official guideline for social behavior in America.  Page 100 and 101 describe the manner of accepting invitations.   There is no excuse for accepting an invitation and not advising the hostess that your plans have changed. You deprive the hostess of the opportunity to select another guest for her event. 

And, there is no excuse at all for conspiring to deceive. 

In the final analysis, etiquette is about a sensitive awareness of the needs of others—sincerity and good intentions are primary.

Then there is the problem of enmeshment.  Jill is not respecting boundaries regarding social occasions. If Jill is not the hostess of a party, then she has no say whatsoever about the guest list or activities. Jill is free to have her own party, her own way. A guest may either accept or decline an invitation, and that is all.  

Recently I have learned that Jill has recounted experiences unique to me as if they were her own.   It seems that Jill has become "enmeshed", not really understanding where the boundaries are.

I need to separate from Jill.  The Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote: 

"...keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best." 

For me, that is not Jill.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Proposal for New Constitutional Amendments: Our New Reconstruction

Internet Pioneer and California Attorney Karl Auerbach  has opened a “Call for Comments and Discussion” on his proposal for reigning in the powers of the executive branch of the U.S. Government.

Auerbach proposes amending the U.S. Constitution to constrain Presidential power – already growing at an alarming rate in prior administrations – now exploding under Trump. Auerbach’s paper, “Our New Reconstruction” is available at

As Gary Kasparov warned in Feb 2017: “… America is about to find out that its government is based on the honor system.” Originally, the framers of the Constitution imagined the U.S. President as a statesman comporting himself with dignity and honor, observing norms and traditions. The Constitution did not anticipate or imagine that the office of the president would ever be occupied by an oligarch.

It is now time to correct the U.S. Constitution with amendments that address this unforeseen development.

Auerbach’s paper identifies the following steps required:

  • Define and limit “the executive power” expressed in Article II
  • Define and limit executive privilege
  • Constrain Presidential “Immunity”
  • Expand the concept of “standing” to enforce constitutional obligations – allow a citizen to bring action against a failed government agency
  • Increase the authority of Congress to compel the Executive Branch to comply with subpoenas, requests for documents, information, or explanations on matters that are well within the vast powers of Congress to investigate, legislate, and impeach.
  • Clarify control of the military
  • Clarify the emoluments clauses
  • Constrain the pardon and commutation powers
  • Ban the use of U.S. Treasury funds and U.S. assets for purposes of personal aggrandizement or self promotion
  • Grant Congress the unilateral, but limited, authority to repeal an existing law
  • Define and limit the concept of natural law
  • Give more independence to certain agencies such as the Justice Department
To initiate a discussion on “Our New Reconstruction”,  email:  karl [at] 

Auerbach is also available for online law school seminars and discussion groups.

Karl Auerbach

Karl Auerbach founded several Internet companies and currently serves as Chief Technical Officer at InterWorking Labs.  Auerbach was a senior researcher in the Advanced Internet Architecture group at Cisco Systems; is the co-founder of the Boston Working Group; and has served on the Board of Directors of the Open Voting Consortium and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  

Auerbach received the prestigious Norbert Wiener Award from the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR).  He was named a Fellow of Law and Technology at CalTech and the Loyola of Los Angeles Law School.  Auerbach is a member of the Intellectual Property Section of the California State Bar.   Auerbach earned a B.S. from UC Berkeley and a J.D. cum laude from Loyola Law School.

Contact Karl Auerbach via email at karl [at]

Sunday, July 19, 2020

My Fantasy President's March 2020 Speech on COVID-19

My Fellow Americans,

I stand before you today to tell you that America is under attack, and I need each and every one of you to stand up and do your part to protect your fellow Americans and our great nation.

The enemy attacking us is not a foreign power, but rather a virus.  The virus is invisible to the naked eye.  The virus is carried by humans and attacks through close human contact.  Scientists are calling the virus COVID-19.   The World Health Organization has designated COVID-19 a pandemic because it has spread quickly throughout the world.

We do not have a lot of information on COVID-19, but what we do know is that it is four times more deadly than the flu.  Hospitals and emergency rooms in the United States do not have the capacity to admit and treat the number of critically ill people with COVID-19.   That means large numbers will be turned away and will die.

But you can help stop that from happening.   I need each and every one of you to follow these steps:
  1.  Keep a distance of six feet from other people.
  2.  Avoid all events and occasions where large groups of people gather (e.g. sporting events, concerts, even church)
  3. If you must venture out, wear a face mask.  Your local police and fire departments will pass out face masks.
I know this is a sacrifice, but think of the larger, greater sacrifices so many have made for America before you.  Many have given their lives for their country.  Many have endured great hardships.  I know you can do these three small things.

Now let me explain the steps I am taking as your president:

First, I have met with the CDC and empowered them to do two things:

  • fund multiple scientific labs and enterprises to develop a vaccine.
  • fund multiple scientific research organizations to characterize the vaccine and report on all its anomalies.

Secondly, I have asked the WHO to provide test kits and guidance to testing labs in the U.S. so that Americans who have been exposed to the virus can be tested and quarantined, if appropriate.

Third,  I have directed the U.S. Army to provision ventilators, personal protective equipment, and N95 masks for healthcare staff to protect them,  The Army will work with the governors and hospital administrators to determine priorities and allocations and to identify shortfalls.

Fourth, I am exercising my emergency powers as president to direct ten U,S. manufacturing companies to immediately enter into production of the equipment identified as in short supply.  These companies will be compensated for producing the required equipment.

Fifth, since many businesses will close down and many working Americans will not have paychecks, I have requested that Congress enact legislation to pay every American over 18 years of age $1,000 per month for the next three months.   This will assist every American in paying for food, rent, medicine, and other necessities.

Sixth, I have asked the Justice Department to work with local law enforcement to determine the best ways to assure compliance with the guidelines and to report back on their recommendations.  If someone fails to follow the rules, that individual risks the lives of their fellow Americans and must face the consequences.

I know that Americans are kind, conscientious, civic-minded people, and can rise to the occasion in a crisis.  The crisis is here.  I am counting on you to make this small sacrifice and do the right thing.  

Stand and deliver.

God bless you and God bless America.