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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 68,288

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Oye Como Va (listen to how)


Some news hits like a punch to the gut, and leave me feeling sick to my stomach. And a few times, it's more like a blow to the head, rendering me momentarily disoriented. But this isn't about boxing, or my experiences, for I am an old man simply watching the news.

I was getting ready to go pull weeds in the garden yesterday, when I heard the news of the 4th of July shooting. Although I had doubled my normal morning coffee intake -- two cups had me as fully alert as I can be -- the name "Highland Park" didn't click .... I thought of the Parkland High shooting until I was in front of the television.

The reality soaked in as I saw the image of a near-empty street, with lawn chairs and infant strollers scattered on both sides of the street, and knew that it had happened again. The national number for 2022 mass shootings is now closer to twice a day, than "merely" once daily.

After watching the report, I logged onto this forum. and learned this brutal attack took place in a liberal neighborhood with a significant Jewish population. Though I make an effort not to jump to conclusions, I know it takes a special type of brain-dead creep to fire an automatic weapon from a roof top into a crowd watching a July 4 parade headed by school students. For it is as cowardly a deed as planting explosives at the 16th Street Baptist Church, almost sixty years ago now.

That sickness in my stomach and confusion in my head were rapidly replaced by anger. It was an anger beyond that which I sometimes encounter in my on-going effort to try to be a good person, a goal I hope to meet. No, this was more like what I experienced in the locker room half a century ago, preparing to enter the boxing ring to fight some other young man. The last time I felt that, I was about to fight a previously undefeated amateur champion for the entertainment of 5,000+ people I didn't know. But, as I write this, I must remind myself this isn't about boxing, and as comfortable as that intense anger was yesterday, I must be beyond it now.

I pulled weeds. Fed the other living beings here. Mowed part of the lawn. Sat out at my pond, and realized that I'd be mighty sore in the next 38 hours. Went and set up a fire big enough that the heat was helpful in stretching what once were muscles, hoping to reduce that soreness. Watched the fireflies, and listened to the frogs in the distance. Looked at the stars until the last coals had burned out.

That whole time, I found myself thinking about the day's shooting. I checked the news when I came inside, and learned there was another shooting during fireworks in Philadelphia. It really doesn't matter where people are, or what they are doing there: innocent people are being shot, seriously wounded, and/or killed by emotionally disturbed, violent creeps.

It could be in a house of worship, a monie theater, the parking lot of a store, or watching a parade. It's enough to have people hesitant to go out.

Last night, about a half a mile from me, a neighbor woke up to find two strangers in his dining room, looking for things to steal. He chased them out of his house -- at gun-point, but without shooting -- before calling the police. In a sense, that's how I view the maga cult, the Q-ites, and the gun nuts. The Supreme Court wants to break into our bedrooms. These individuals have broken in, so to speak, to civilized society to steal our way of life, and sometimes our lives.

I'd rather fight them with the ballot, than the bullet. On two of the next four days, I'll be campaigning for the Democratic Party's candidate for the House. I am confident that, at the very least, I'll be safer doing that, than just about any other thing in public. Not that in the past, I haven't been threatened going door-to-door, or at rallies, or even had a board broken over my head on a march. I guess that is relatively secure compared to watching a parade these days.

I posted the Santana video (above) and quote (below) for a reason. Not to say don't be anxious or depressed, but to work through it. Channel it, not the way that a teenaged boxer once channeled nervousness into meanness in the ring, but rather, how an old man can channel anger into positive action. We can do this together, just as this amazing groups of musicians combined to make beautiful music.

"Music is the mystical medicine that heals the listener from the infection of fear, the infection of separation, the infection of thinking you’re not worthy." —Carlos Santana

July 4th, 2022

Sitting on the stones in the 90 degree heat, I stop to wipe the sweat from my brow. It has been a beautiful day to work in the garden, pulling weeds. But this old bag of bones can feel a storm coming, and the leaves on the trees at the edge of the woods indicate it will be a strong one.

A chipmuck is sitting half-way up the nearby compost pile, enjoying a snack as it watches me. Luckily, it is too hot for the cats to be out in the garden, and this tiny being is safe to fill iys belly before heading under the stacks of firewood to sit out the approaching storm.

As the Neil Young CD comes to an end, as all CDs eventually do, I can hear a house wren singing in the distance. It is setting on top of the small birdhouse that house wrens have occupied for the past twenty-five years. I'm reminded of Chief Waterman's saying that the songs of the smallest birds are the most beautiful music.

I add the piles of weeds I've pulled to one of the compost piles as a few drops of rain begin to fall. The dark clouds from the northwest are moving in faster than I can put what tools I've used today into the garage, then grab the CD player and stack of CDs and head inside.

The dog, who has a strong dislike of being out in the rain, signals that she must go outside immediately. So, of course, I take her out. She immediately goes around to the back of the house, and stares at one of the two gray fox that come for a meal of corn and sunflower seeds under one of the bird-feeders. The female fox always runs at the sight of the hound, but the male stares back in between mouthfuls of food. The dog's tail wags at a high speed, before we leave the fox and head inside to stay dry. It reminds me of a cartoon my children watched about a fox and a hound.

Soon after we get inside, the fox disappears into the woods, and a young buck comes for its fill. He always comes at about this time, like clockwork. This evening, he decides to come close to the house, to eat some buds from the hege roses for desert. I am always impressed with how quickly their antlers grow at this time of year. As the wind and rain pick up, he heads under an apple tree at the edge of the lawn, and curls up to sit out the storm.

The electric, internet, and phone go off for about 15 minutes. I find myself thinking about how previous inhabitants of the house watched storms here, long before electricity, much less telephones or the internet. There are flashes of light, although I cannot see the actual lightning bolts. But I can sure hear the thunder!

In a short time, the power comes back on, and I tend to things like re-setting the clock on the stove, then turning the computer back on. The storm continues to rage, as I melt into the couch and drift off to sleep. The next thing I know, the dog is licking my ear, and it is morning.

Drinking my morning cup of coffee, I take my morning jog down the information highway. I see that two of my friends have posted memes about there being no reason to celebrate the 4th of July, because Democracy is dead. I ask if we should at least hold an Irish Wake? But no one thinks I'm funny, except me. Still, I recognize it is time to be serious.

Democracy is not dead. It has been injured, seriously injured, by attempts to deny people their rights. The Supreme Court is vile, and the republican party poses a threat to the concepts expressed in that Declaration of Independence. I remember being in grade school, and learning that in the Revolutionary War, the colonists had learned the best way to fight the English troops, who fought in stiff formation, was to copy the style of the Indians.

Chief Waterman used to say that human beings were the only non-essential species on this earth. He said that this means we are here to study and learn from the natural world, with the knowledge that we are part of its web of life. Storms come up every so often, and the current climate is indeed severe. But it isn't the end of democracy. We have President Biden, and the Congress -- including the J6 Committee. And we have millions of people at the grass roots level.

Our job at that grass roots' level is to be organized to do use our weapons -- which include Amendment 1, and voter registration & education -- to pick off republican politicians at all levels. That's what the 4th of July, 2022 means to me.

Review & Preview

Note: There are reports today that people around Donald Trump think that the Department of Justice will indict him, and there is ample evidence to convict him. This, along with other news, has had me thinking about the first of three interviews I did with Dr. Bandy Lee in 2020. You may remember her as the author/editor of "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump." Among the questions I asked was one about how sociopaths under pressure tend to experience episodes of psychosis. They might, for example, try to grab a steering wheel, or choke someone who disagrees with them.

I think this is worth re-printing, and I hope that you do, too. Dr. Lee and others warned us that this man was dangerous. More than any of the group of mental health experts that contributed to the effort, Dr. Lee became the target of the Trump organized crime associates and cult. So I thank her for stepping up, and remind others of the insights she had. I'd also remind people that, as Trump is under pressure now, he will act out, including encouraging his supports to do so. And he will again make mistakes, and these will help the DOJ prosecutors to convict him in court.

Be safe,
H2O Man

Februaryy 22, 2020

Q: Dr. Lee, as you would expect, there are people who feel depressed and discouraged about the process and outcome of the Senate’s impeachment trial. They are anxious about our country’s future. Others recognize that while the House impeachment was a significant victory, that the president is now more likely to engage in dangerous ways. In that context, can you please explain the “duty to warn” that has resulted in your speaking out?

A: It is entirely understandable that people are feeling depressed and discouraged; that he is more likely to engage dangerously is correct from our perspective, also. The error, from our view, has been in trying to solve a mental health problem through a purely political approach, which is why we petitioned the Congress to consult with us (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-mental-state-impeachment-psychiatrist-petition-congress-a9232386.html). We had cautioned that impeachment could go either way: psychologically, delaying impeachment was risky, because it would cause a sense of unlimited power and impunity to balloon. A rapid progression after delay then maximized the potential for paranoia and narcissistic rage, while the combination of impeachment and acquittal now has created conditions that would heighten the drive for revenge. With each failure to contain the president psychologically, there has been an expansion of dangers as well as worsening of symptoms. We can learn from this experience and recognize that a nuanced, psychological understanding of the situation is paramount—even if political processes are the only interventions we have for psychological limit setting and containment, which are still a lot.

Q: In 1973, Erich Fromm published “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.” In it, Fromm detailed how certain social factors, combined with specific personality types found in those in power at the time, create fertile ground for what he referred to as “malignant narcissists” to rise to the top. Do you see instances – saying, putting children in steel cages on the southern border – in our society that concern you?

A: Traumatizing children in a way that will breed injury and violence for society concerns me a great deal! Erich Fromm understood dynamically what I have been studying statistically and epidemiologically. I have always conceived of this presidency as a reflection of the poor state of collective mental health in our society. In fact, I have been fearing this result for about twenty years while watching public mental health decline and what I call “structural violence” increase. Structural violence, such as economic inequality, is one of the most potent causes of behavioral violence, be it homicides, suicides, or warfare, and when the groundwork is laid for a culture of violence, people will be attracted to a leader who does them violence. It was not time to be complacent because homicide rates were declining, even as suicides were rising. My research has been mostly about “connecting the dots,” which I am making great use of now. We have become locked in a vicious circle, where the more violence powerful people do to the population, the more vulnerable it becomes to manipulation and attraction to violence in ways that give violent people more power. It is an abusive relationship cycle at societal scale.

Q: Older people such as myself remember the publisher and an editor of “Fact” being sued for a story that questioned Senator Barry Goldwater’s stability during the 1964 presidential election. This was in spite of the Senator’s wife telling reporters that he had previously suffered a “nervous breakdown.” The “Goldwater Rule” kept this general topic from being reported upon for many years. There are potential dangers in diagnosing someone the clinician has not met. This raises a question: is it possible that what an expert sees in the media, including films of speeches and press conferences, and legal documents, might be more accurate sources of information than the self-reporting of those being evaluated with the Hare Checklist? (This is not to suggest that Senator Goldwater was in that group.)

A:This is absolutely correct. We must distinguish the quality and reliability of information, not just discount all media as a source. For certain impairments, such as personality disorders that cause others suffering but are not bothersome to the self, it is far more accurate to have reports from the person’s acquaintances, the sworn testimony of close associates, and external, direct observation of behavior. If the media presentation is not all staged but shows reasonably candid moments, actual interactions with other people, extensive coverage, and progression over prolonged periods of time, then it can be one of the best sources of information. Interviews, on the other hand, are known to be harmful in some cases, especially when a person is trying to present oneself in the best light and hiding important information. The most dangerous individuals are charming or manipulative, and even the most seasoned clinicians are fooled in a one-hour interview.
“The Goldwater rule” is problematic on many fronts: it should have been invalid since 1980, when our diagnostic system changed from reliance on introspection to observation of external behavior. It also treats the public figure like a patient, when our responsibility is to actual patients and to society, not to public figures we are not treating. Finally, currently it has no exceptions, which means it is the only rule in medicine where danger—an emergency—exception does not apply. This means you must violate the core tenets of medical ethics, and the humanitarian goals that all health professionals pledge to, in order to keep with this one “rule”.

Q: Do those people who are malignant narcissists, psychopaths, or sociopaths ever have periods of psychosis when under extreme pressure?

A: Psychosis is defined as detachment from reality, and since malignant narcissism, psychopathy, and sociopathy can be seen as defects in coping mechanisms, extreme pressure will make them more prone to psychotic spirals. For example, extreme narcissism can lead one to have such difficulty coping with normal human limitations, that one must create an alternative reality where one is superhuman, an expert in all fields, and even heaven-sent. Psychopathy or sociopathy can lead one to believe one is “the walking dead” to help explain the hollowness one feels inside.

Q: Do those referenced in prior question have the capacity for insights on how others view them? Are they capable of experiencing self-doubt or guilty feelings?

A: Insight and empathy are often what individuals with these disorders are missing. Because they have not developmentally gone beyond the stage of distinguishing between “me” and “not me,” other people are merely extensions of themselves or instruments to use for their purposes. They experience self-doubt or guilty feelings through projection: in other words, they perceive the anxiety they feel inside—such as doubt, confusion, and fear—as danger coming from the outside. Unfortunately, attempts to escape or to defeat that feeling translates into attack perceived enemies or, if they are lacking, to seek scapegoats.

Q: If such a person were to be found “not guilty” in a trial for a crime they definitely committed, are they more likely to engage in other anti-social behaviors in the future?

A: Absolutely. Because they are lacking in self-control, if the control does not come from the outside, they will keep pushing their limits. Setting firm boundaries of behavior, and consistently returning with immediate and commensurate consequences for behavior that violates those boundaries, is one of the most important ways to deal with such defects. Trying to elicit remorse, insight, or understanding about one’s behavior will not work. Trying to get them to understand objective laws or rules of fairness will not work, either, for everything will be predicated around the self and whether it benefits or pleases the self.

Q: It was reported that some of the contributors to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” were scheduled to meet with elected officials in Washington, DC. When Democratic floor manager Adam Schiff spoke during the impeachment trial, he summed the president’s personality up quite well. Do you think elected officials fully recognize the threat the president poses?

A: We directly met with groups of lawmakers in December 2017 and January 2018, and they were already “fully on board,” as they told us then. In fact, they showed great concern, and many of them stated that the president’s access to nuclear weapons was of particular concern. Whereas we were looking to lawmakers for a solution, astonishingly, they seemed to be looking to us! Mostly Democrats, they said they could not do anything without being the majority party, while Republicans either would not express how they truly felt or would refuse to meet with us (even though their concerns seemed to be well-known behind the scenes). The lawmakers encouraged us to continue educating the public, for, if public opinion shifted, then they could act.

When we went to the media, however—and the media were extremely responsive at the time—the American Psychiatric Association stepped with press releases and articles, stating we were being unethical and practicing “armchair psychiatry,” using psychiatry as a “political tool” for “self-aggrandizing purposes.” It even mobilized the New York Times to state that psychiatrists need not be heard from, and, after this, press inquiries dried up instantly and almost permanently. Thus, by the time the Democrats had the majority in the House, the topic could no longer even be spoken about, and our situation was worse than before. Our book, however, was distributed by citizen groups to all members of the Senate and a substantial portion of the House. When members of the public approach lawmakers about the book, most say they have at least heard about it, if not read and have avidly recommended it to colleagues.

Q: On MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Columbia University’s John McWhorter told a story about Trump that he leaned from a reliable source. As a teen, Trump hung a small child out of a window by his ankles, and enjoyed the child’s suffering. Would such behaviors add to or reinforce your thoughts about him?

A: It is not a surprising anecdote, and consistent with the story of throwing rocks at an infant neighbor when he was a child, and punching a music teacher in the face while in primary school. Those with psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies enjoy others’ suffering, as they envy others for having something that they lack. The human ability to sense others’ feelings, to care about one another, and to do things that help rather than harm others, is something they do not have. Everyone has this, no matter one’s background, personality quirks, or lifestyle—unless one is a psychopath or a sociopath—and this exclusion from the communion of human beings can be very painful. Instead of facing this inner feeling, they transfer the pain onto others, which manifests as cruelty and pleasure at others’ suffering.

Q: In 2019, the updated edition of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” was released, with insights from 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts. Has the year that followed changed your mind on the threat he poses?

A: Not at all. As expected, the psychological dangers we saw translated into social, cultural, political, and global dangers through the office of the presidency. He followed exactly the course we predicted, on the timeline we estimated. Not only that, we have gotten so good at predicting his actions, we sent in a letter of warning to the Congress (https://dangerouscase.org/urgent-letter-to-congress/) three days before he withdrew troops from northern Syria and caused the massacre of our Kurdish allies. We sent in another warning about an impeachment proceeding without guardrails
(https://dangerouscase.org/petition-to-the-judiciary-committee/), and one month later there was the assassination of Qassim Soleimani of Iran. We warned of the continued need to contain the psychological dangers (https://dangerouscase.org/urgent-communication-to-congress/), and now the president is on a revenge spree against those who lawfully testified against him and pardoning criminals while declaring himself the law of the land. Because someone with his condition grows worse in a position of power, no matter what—whether you give into his pressures for more power or try to restrict him does not matter—we have not seen the worst yet.

Q: For those who are feeling depressed and anxious about current events, do you have any suggestions?

I have often said that “the Resistance” is like the immune system of the body: we must replenish ourselves, know our target, and keep healthy! We should take mental hygiene seriously and practice it regularly. It may sound strange, but this means setting boundaries to protect our personal and leisurely lives. Far from being selfish or complacent, doing the things we enjoy and giving time to our loved ones are all a part of responsible action. Allot in advance a reasonable time for the fight, and do not go beyond it. When in it, use the time intelligently and creatively—and this includes listening to the mental health experts! What is exhausting to others is what mental health professionals deal with on a daily basis, and we ourselves protect our mental health through boundaries while treating the sickest individuals! Correctly understanding what is happening is most of the battle, and there are proven techniques for managing the difficult behavior we see. Even if some methods cannot be applied to a president, the principles still apply, and there are lots of things that the public can do. In fact, if only one recognized that true power rests with the people, and the posturing and bullying are actually façades—or fake power, like the Wizard of Oz—the people could achieve a great deal!

The University of Congress

" (There is a) powerof the Congress to inquire into and publicize corruption, maladministration, or inefficiency in agencies of the Government. That was the only kind of activity described by Woodrow Wilson in 'Congressional Givernment' when he wrote: 'The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function'."
-- U.S. Supreme Court; Watkins v. United States

One of the most important things that came out of the Senate Watergate investigation is their final report. The above quote is from page 40 of the 2005 fromthe Carroll & Graf edition. On the same page, there is a quote from another US Supreme Court decision that further quotes Wilson in advocating for the power of the Congress -- both the House and Senate -- to investigate issues and educate the public.

Obviously, the January 6 Committee is doing a great job of this. And I think it is inspiring a lot of us in the context of knowing how important winning in November is. Being old, I can say it is inspiring my generation, who watched the televised Watergate hearings. I've been talking with old friends and associates from that bygone era, who were more socially and politically active back then, but who usually limit themselves to just voting in recent decades. And they are all saying that they recognize that it is essential for everyone to do more now.

I also had a long talk with the campaign manager of the Democratic candidate in my district in rural, upstate New York. He is, in my opinion, the perfect candidate for this district. Though we are outnumbered by both republicans and independents around here, I am confident that he will get some republican botes, and a lot of independents.That's how a Democrat wins in these parts.

Educating the public isn't limited to committees. Individual Representatives do this with e-mails and mailings, and meeting the public in town halls. More, they do this when they are interviewed on television. However, there is something particularly powerful found when a group puts their minds and talents together to educate the public in the manner the J6 Committee is doing now. We are witnessing history.

I respect what every member of the Committee is doing. There is balance in their approach. Yet I will say there is one member -- quiet so far -- that I am particularly eager to hear interviewing witnesses when her turn come, and that is Rep. Stephanie Murphy. I think that those who have heard this lady speak know what I mean. After serving in national security, she opted to challenge a republican in 2016, and has earned the respect of everyone around her.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons of the J6 hearings is that we have to work together to save this country. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm on the left edge of the Democratic Party spectrum. I recognize that my opinions are not in the majority on a number of issues. My favorite elected representatives are known as "the Squad," and are the six most progressive members of the House. But I'm delighted to work for the campaign of the liberal congressional candidate in my district. I will serve as the campaign's connection to the Left.

More, although Rep. Murphy identifies as a "blue dog," I have great respect for her. It's important to recognize what type of candidate can win in a congressional district. And, for more extreme examples, though I have little if anything else in common with them, I respect Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and Cassidy Hutchinson for the roles they are playing in educating the American public on the attempt to overthrow our elected government.


"Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor."
-- Hesiod

Timing is everything in making love or war. Donald Trump imagined that there would be portraits of him at the Capital on January 6, in the spirit of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Bad timing.

Today, he is splattering out messages, denying he really knew Cassidy Hutchinson, and everything she testified to today. Again, bad timing.

In many sports, one must practice form, then train to add speed to that form, which results in power. Yet that potential for power depends upon timing. It wasn't just that the great Henry Aaron could swing a bat hard -- he timed those pitches that he knocked out of the stadium. Trump mastered none of these, hence he choked when he stood at the plate of history. Then he threw the plate against the wall.

The January 6 Committee has shown a mastery of form, speed, power, and timing. Although I recognize that advances in technology have added to the appeal of their public presentations, I think these hearings are the very best I've ever seen. Better than Watergate, better than Iran-Contra. And the Senate's Watergate hearings set the bar high.

Today's hearing has been compared already to two of the most important Watergate hearings witnesses, John Dean and Alexander Butterfield. Dean brought the scandal into the Oval Office in his testimony. Butterfield was a surprise witness, who had confirmed that there was a White House taping system three days before his public testimony. when the Committee allowed republican counsel Fred Thompson to ask the key question.

While I like historical comparisons, I think that Cassidy Hutchinson is unique. Dean was testifying with "use immunity," and looking to make a deal with the Department of Justice. Butterfield was an Air Force veteran, who was simply doing the right thing. Hutchinson has had threats to her safety, and will now endure the attacks on her character that the Trump cult is famous for.

Yet there are some interesting post-testimony indicators that things are crumbling for Trump and Mark Meadows. Former chief of staff Muck Mulvaney said Hitchinson is honest, and others must now testify. If a muckraker like Mulvaney is abandoning ship, things are growing far worse after today.

I might disagree with 99% of Hutchinson's social-political views, but I respect what she is doing for this country.

H2O Man

On Human Gardening

I am happy to see that the January 6 Committee is holding an "unscheduled" hearing tomorrow. While it certainly can't undo the Supreme Court's assault on reason and science, it should serve to get us back to taking care of business. Each of us has our own unique response to the rabid republican declaration of holy war; for me, this includes meditating on the teachings of those human beings that I recognize as the prophets.

I consider Bob Marley to be among these people, imperfect and 100% human, who delivered a message of truth over the centuries. I should note that the lyrics to the above song were authored by Peter Tosh, another of my favorites. As Peter was murdered on Spetember 11, 1987, I will suggest that younger readers unfamiliar with him listen to some of his music, both with Bob, and after. "Downpresser Man" is one I'd recommend.

"Downpresser man
Where you gonna run to
Downpresser man
Where you gonna run to
Downpresser man
Where you gonna run to
All along that day"

It helps me to listen to them as I tend to my garden. My son and I recently acquired a collection of artifacts from the widow of a guy that I used to know from walking the fields. Rather than sell them, where the collection would be broken up and leave the area, she wanted them to stay local with a young person who understands their value is not measured in dollars and cents. The collection has over 500 artifacts that document human beings living here, on this land, for over 12,000 years. There is some fascinating science that seems to document the Original Americans were here much longer than that, although there are still differing opinions among the experts. I keep an open mind.

About 100 of the artifacts are gardening tools. They range from about 2,000 bc until shortly before Europeans arrived. My late friend used these to decorate his gardens, and his widow "hinted" it would be nice if we did the same. I told her that they would be added to those we've already placed there. My son built me a beautiful labyrinth where my large, above-ground swimming pool sat before a tree fell on it. On the rock walls that he built for raised-bed gardening, he placed hundreds of fossils, mapping the earliest tiny life-forms, from water to land, including ancient trees, and even a fish, before mapping out the timeline of human history.

Carrying those rocks out, I think of one of the two mentors I had as a teenager and young man. I was an angry, troubled person in that phase of life, so much so that the universe decided not only that I required two mentors, but that they had to be extraordinary. I was so bad that in high school, my favorite teacher called me aside one day, gave me a book, and said I needed to read it ..... not for class, but for life. It was "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." She was, by the way, the same teacher who brought me bags of food when I was a homeless teen, so I trusted her.

Now, one of those mentors was Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman, who I have quoted a thousand times on this forum. With him, I learned the traditional history and wisdom of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. For years, I have overlapped his lessons with the archaeological record, and they match up well. With Paul, I also got to know many other Chiefs and Clan Mothers, who serve as the Wisdom Keepers.

When I work outdoors with my son, or when we walk the fields, I tell him about the things I've learned from this, both from Paul and others, and from sitting in university classrooms. I tell him how Paul and my other mentor, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, redirected me from a path that likely would result in prison or death, to the correct path. My son thinks the most hilarious story came one night long ago when a friend and I, both teens, were in a store to buy beer. We had money, but the synergy of intoxicated and stupid kicked in: I told him I would grab a few extra cases, and run out the employee's back door. He would buy beer, and I'd meet him outside. It made perfect sense at the time.

He said employees were watching us, so I told him to leave. Then I grabbed cases of beer, and dashed out the back door. Two athletic employees were chasing me, so by the time I was out the door, I had set the cases down, and began hurling bottles of beer at them. In my extended family, you had to box and play baseball, and I had a mighty accurate fast bottle, er, ball. They hurried back inside. Somehow, I was never caught and charged. I did worse things, for sure, but that was the most stupid.

Although Paul had met people as stupid as I used to be, he could not relate to my youthful rage, so that is where the Hurricane came in. We had a couple things in common, although on the surface, there were significant differences. Much of his early life was the experience of many young black guys in an urban setting, or in reform school. I was an Irish second-generation small farm family, with some BCI Senior Investigators that somehow knew what trouble my brothers and I were making. (That remained a mystery until I was an adult.)

I was a pretty good boxer, and was featured in an article in a boxing magazine when I was 13, authored by a British writer. We corresponded through letters and cassette tapes, talking about boxing, prison, and my conviction that most adults were stupid. Rubin had known Malcolm X, and paraphrased him in a question: "If they are truly that stupid, then why do you behave in a manner that allows them to control your life?" I would use that same question, years later, when I worked with troubled youth convinced adults were stupid beings.

At the age of 18, Rubin told me to hang up the boxing gloves, and to go to college. Though I questioned that, of course, but did. And at that time, my conversations with Rubin started on another path. He began talking about the meaning of life, and what human evolution was possible at this time. That coming from a long line of DNA, that modern humankind must evolve psychologically, or we will bring our own extinction upon the human race.

When people would ask Paul about the "Iroquois religion," he would say that it wasn't a "religion," but rather, a way of life. Rubin, on the other hand, was an atheist. His paternal line was of Baptist ministers, and he knew the bible. He had also studied Islam, and he called the human we know as Jesus as "the Master." And he pointed out things such as the Gospel of Matthew quoting Jesus sixteen times in what are much like the essence of Buddhism. Most fall into concepts of balance, but three are specifice: Do not be afraid.

We are in a horrible time, and I'm not suggesting that we will not emotional responses. Those can be good things, because we are human beings. But our best responses are those that -- by no coincidence -- separate us from the republicans, who are the angry bottom-dwellers that worship Trump, guns, and a "religion" that is shallow and fragile -- and very destructive. Many of their victims wll suffer, and some will die. Thus, to paraphrase Albert Camus, our job is to lessen the numbers that may suffer and die.

Finally, if we form a DU baseball team, though I'm too old to throw a good fast ball, I could be of service as a pitching coach.

Must See

Universe 25: Of Mice & Humans

I've had the opportunity to communicate with a fairly large number of people in the past 24 hours. Since I opt to communicate with a relatively small group of people, they are all good people I enjoy spending time with. A somewhat varied group of people, thanks in part to the telephone and internet. And I've spent some time watching the news and reading opinions, mainly those on this forum and facebook.

Everyone I spoke with was concerned about the Supreme Court's ruling again a New York State gun law. It makes me wonder how closely one Injustice was associated with the group looking to steal the 2020 election. Obviously, we know his wife was a member of the White House's effort to coordinate with the Trump campaign. We know how he voted regarding releasing the former administration's e-mails, that included his wife's unhinged rants.

Any Supreme Court Justice that is that openly corrupt needs to go. It is no coincidence that, besides wanting to do away with democracy in the context of elections, Injustice Thomas also wants to not only restrict women's healthcare, to to outlaw that which does not fit into his religious superstitions. Along with Roe, he wants to overturn Griswold (contraceptives), Lawrence (sex outside of marriage), and Obergefel (the right for adults to marry the one they love).

One option that is open to us is to work like our lives and liberties depend upon it to elect enough candidates in November so that Thomas will be impeached and convicted. We can abort his career on the high court. That option is available to us. It is entirely up to us, both individually and as a group, if we take that path.

Of the two dozen people I've spoken with, only one said that no, it's too late, that democracy in America is dead, and we've lost the fight. Instead, he was content to wallow in anger, frustration, bitterness, and finger-pointing at those he wants to blame for what he believes were past mistakes. I understand that good people can have temporary emotional responses to current events, but recognize that to travel the path I advocate, it requires sacrifice. And that includes a willingness to sacrifice those emotions and behaviors that are a stumbling block on this path. I told him if he lacked the capacity to stop blaming others in the self-righteous way that we see all too often, he needed to sit to the side of the path and think about the damage that self-righteousness always inflicts. We can all agree that Thomas's self-righteousness is toxic, and something we do not need to infect the Democratic Party.

Now, I am not unrealistic. I don't think any person is "perfect" .... no politician, no one who is willing to do their best to defeat the threat posed by the religious superstitions or militias of the republican machine. We are human beings. But if we put our minds together, we can walk the path to victory.

H2O Man

What a Fool Believes

"A learned fool is more of a fool than an ignorant fool. " —Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin)

A gentleman contacted me today on the internet, someone I haven't talked to since the late 1960s. I do keep in contact with his sister, and knew that he had maintained what I consider a hippie lifestyle. He is a talented musician, very intelligent, and a life-long Democrat.

He said that since the start of the January 6 Committee hearings, he finds it harder to talk with ignorant fools. He said that he has stopped talking to some of the people that he encounters where he lives. Since he lives in Florida, I said I can understand that, but that I think educated fools -- a species found in all fifty states -- are even more frustrating to bump into.

I am not, of course, pretending that I came upon John Eastman in person. The mere watching of the third presentation by the J6 hearing, which focused some attention on Eastman, was both good and bad enough. It is a reminder that the gravitational force of a sociopathic "leader" not only draws in creeps, it brings forth their true essence. One might suspect that Eastman is on a collision course with legal consequences.

It will be interesting to learn Eastman's role in connecting with the Proud Boys and other groups associated with planning the violent coup. Currently, some forum members are speculating who was the connecting figure. Being prone to using models, let me suggest we view the White House as a hydra, with tentacles that include several that reached into the militias. Besides Eastman, there is Steve Bannon. Also, since the hydra has regenerative powers, we must inlude Roger Stone, one of the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot planners and participants.

(Note: In the 1960s, "The Hydra" was the underground newspaper in the school I attended. When the three brothers who created it -- who considered themselves to be Weather Underground -- went to state prison, I reprised the newspaper.)

It strikes me as interesting that several republicans are being honored for doing the right thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that some did, and others like Liz Cheney still are. I do respect that. But it strikes me as a bit odd that "doing the right thing" is now unique in the republican party, rather than what should be expected. Perhaps one day we will reach a point where doing the right thing is expected in government.

One more thing: there have been reports of some tensions between the J6 Committee and the Department of Justice. This is neither something to discount or to think will create a crisis. First, it is extremely common, when two government agencies are in semi-coordination with a specific group -- no matter at what level of agencies -- for their to be some tensions. This happens at the local, state, and federal levels. But it generally works out, and reportedly will be resolved in July.

Trump and the Unspeakable

“Sociopaths are attracted to politics because the see it as a sphere in which you can be ruthless and step all over people. That fact that some politicians can tell such awful lies is another example of sociopathy. Sociopaths lie—they see nothing wrong with it.”
― Alexander McCall Smith, The Revolving Door of Life

Malaise posed two questions to start an interesting and important OP/thread two days ago Here is the link to it:


As happens when I read something of interest, I found myself thinking about it last night, when I watched the second Committee hearing for a third time. Indeed, I was thinking about it this morning, while watching highlights of yesterday's hearing on various news reports.

Malaise asked how a self-absorbed individual could do so much damage, and how so many numbskulls could join forces with him? Those are serious questions, deserving serious answers. I'd like to take a minute to expand upon what I said there, which was "a sociopath with access."

Ancient DU readers know that I like to use models to illustrate human dynamics. Today, the reader can pick an atom or solar system. A sociopath is at the center, and their gravitational force frequently brings others into their orbit. Erich Fromm goes into amazing detail about this in his 1973 classic, "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness." The closest beings to that center will be those who we know as having anti-social personality disorders. Let's just call them criminals, shall we?

The next layer will be potential criminals, usually men and women who are okay with what they often call "bending the rules," and we'll call lower level criminal behaviors. Then clusters of shit-dust entities, that want to wear uniforms and legally torture and kill human beings. These are those that stormed the Capital. Finally, there are Don, Jr. and Eric Trump, who enjoy killing defense animals on an African safari.

Having worked in forsensic mental health, especially in running the weekly county jail group, domestic abuse groups, and with some fellows released from state prison for a short vacation, I encountered a number of sociopaths. (Hint: they always try to disrupt groups.) They spanned the range from really fucking stupid to moderately intelligent. Yet they all shared an inability to really think ahead of the consequences of their destructive behaviors, something that led to not only self-destructiveness, but caused damage for the idiots around them. And for perfectly innocent people with the bad luck of being in their way.

Trump is really not much different that the fellows and one female sociopath I worked with. He might dress differently -- for now -- but the only real difference is that the social station he was born into allowed him to buy access. That included access to high society and to the media. Without the money, Trump is at best an inmate in the county jail. This, despite his uncle being a professor.

Much of high society rejected Trump as a buffoon. An obnoxious asshole. They were, of course, correct. This brings us to some of the republicans we witnessed providing testimony to the J6 Committee. Unlike in other countries, Trump did not have absolute power, such as his idol Putin has. Hence, when they witnessed his attempts to obtain that level of power, one of two things happened: they either quit or were fired.

But our system of government is distinct from Putin's Russia or Saddam's Iraq. It was preparing to eject the toxins from its system, based upon the 2020 election. The J6 Committee is documenting the multi-step effort of Team Trump to remain entrenched, despite the law. And we all know what happened as a result.

What we don't know yet is the extent of Russian influence. This isn't limited to what we know happened in thec 2016 presidential campaign. However, I shall reprise a lyric used in posts here back then ..... Trump and Putin are both white nationalists. Putin has the support of the white nationalists in Russia, which are para-military militias. And white nationalists in the US creamed their jeans when Trump was elected. He believed he could use them much like Putin does.

There are links, currently being investigated by the DOJ, regarding the linkages between the Russian and US white nationalist groups -- including "training" one of the Russian groups provided to at least one of the groups involved in the insurrection. I think at least one forum member posted about these connections recently.

If anyone has read this far, it should encourage you to work like hell to make sure we win the November elections. Our system of government is actually designed to prevent a Trump or his cult members from grabbing power. But our system depends upon the active involvement of its citizens.

H2O Man
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