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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 58,393

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Beyond Good and Evil

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.; April 4, 1967


I think that Monday was an extremely important point in current history. At a time when many Americans were thinking about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., his memory was juxtaposed with that of the vile racist Donald Trump. The stark contrast in their characters was obvious for all to see.

It's not just the difference in character between King and Trump that is important, of course. In the larger sense, it's the impact that they have upon other people. Those who respect and honor Dr. King's message are distinct from those who follow and support Trump. Thus, our society is currently experiencing great tension. For that reason, it is important that we fully understand and appreciate the vast differences between “creative tensions,” of which Dr. King mastered, and “negative tensions,” which define Trump.

In their formative years, both men grew up in the shadow of a successful father. The elder King was a prominent minister, and the elder Trump was a “successful” speculator and thief. King's father worked for making a more just society, while Trump's father was a racist Klu Klux Klan member. Both Dr. King and Donald Trump would opt to follow in the footsteps of their fathers' careers. Both experienced some tensions with their fathers as they began to be successful. Both would become national figures, rather than the parochial statuses that their fathers were.

King was a complex man. In his early life, he struggled with serious depression. He sought to identify the “meaning of life” through his early and extraordinary education. Though he was raised in a republican, middle class home, he was fascinated with radical “liberation theology,” as documented in John Ansbro's “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind” (Maryknoll; 1990). As a result, King would never seek great material wealth.

Trump is a simpleton. He sought his father's approval, but never really obtained it. Hence, his never-ending quest for the admiration of others. More, he defined “success” in terms of crushing opposition on his path to obtaining material wealth.

King was a registered republican, until the 1960 presidential election. When Senator Kennedy responded to Mrs. King's concerns about her incarcerated husband's safety, the extended King family would become Democrats. In particular, Dr. King worked with President Johnson to achieve the historic Civil Rights legislation successes.

Trump, on the other hand, has been a Democrat, an independent, a third-party member, and a republican – all depending upon what position he felt was most beneficial to him as an individual. With the election of Barack Obama, Trump would chose to identify with the racist right-wing of the republican party. In doing so, he was being as true to his nature as he ever had been as an adult. For Donald Trump is nothing, if not racist scum.

When Dr. King delivered his “A Time to Break Silence (Beyond Vietnam)” speech on April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in NYC, it marked a break from LBJ's White House. By the end of the year, King was outlining a plan for a “Poor Persons March,” to occupy Washington, DC. That was an unacceptable level of “creative tension” for politicians. Senator Robert Byrd would infamously call for the “preventive” detention of Dr. King on the floor of the US Senate, should the planned occupation appear to be moving forward.

As King continued to openly oppose US “policy” in Vietnam, as well as violence in the Middle East, many of those who previously viewed him as a “responsible” Civil Rights leader tuened on him viciously. This is well-documented in Taylor Branch's “At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68” (Simon & Schuster; 2006). Indeed, as Branch shows, King's progressive stance resulted in the formation of “neoconservatism” – liberal social policy, military might foreign policy – a mutant splinter of the Democratic Party.

King did not endorse any candidate for the 1968 presidential contest. One can only speculate if he might have endorsed anyone, had he lived. There was an effort to convince him to run on a third-party ticket with anti-war pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, though there is no evidence he seriously considered that option. What is evident is that the final year of his life was extremely painful for King as a man. Yet he was willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Trump had previously flirted with the idea of running for president, but took the first actual step in 1988, when he contacted Bush the Elder to say he was interested in running as vice president. (See: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush; John Meacham; Random House; 2015) In the years to come, Trump found that by appealing to the racist instincts of white people, he could form a political base for a future run for the presidency.

King believed that by appealing to the public's basic decency and sense of justice, America could reach its potential. Trump believed that by appealing to Russian mobsters, he could bring America back to a point where minorities had no power, and that he could gain financially at the same time. This reminds me of Malcolm X's teaching that society has a choice between a sparkling clean glass of water, and a filthy glass of sludge.

Perhaps the most significant achievement of Dr. King's life is that he inspired everyday people to join him in the effort to, in his words, “save America's soul.” The strength of his example still holds power today. We saw that in the Occupy Movement, and in numerous other selfless social and political movements. We saw it last year in the Women's March on Washington. We need to see a lot more of it now.

While Trump is extremely dangerous, as a malignant narcissist in the White House, it is evident that he also has encouraged his alt-right/ KKK base to take more threatening actions. We saw that in their recent march, in which it is accurate to say there were not “good people on both sides.” We see it in the gross responses to virtually every hateful utterance that comes out of the shit-hole that is Donald Trump's mouth.

We face a clear choice as a nation. Dr. King and Diaper Don represent the two choices, but it goes well beyond those two individuals. Our future – immediate and long-term – depend upon which glass that each of us decides to drink from.

Peace,
H2O Man

State of the Union

“A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally shortsighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman. Unfortunately, this realization does not seem to have penetrated very far - and our blindness is extremely dangerous.” 
C.G. Jung.



I can't think of anyone I know who cares what Donald Trump will have to say in his State of the Union address. Quite the opposite: the tang-colored, scrotum-faced compulsive liar lacks any and all credibility. Thus, I thought that I'd take a few moments to list some of the issues that face the nation here, and to encourage others to do the same. For we are at the beginning of a historic year.

It's good to see that several of the republican rats are abandoning ship. It creates good openings for the elections in November. It is encouraging that a discredited lunatic like Sheriff Joe is running. Essential that he loses in a humiliating manner, of course. And it's nice to see Bannon lose his job, due to the Mercer staff infection at Breitbart.

The book “Fire and Fury” has flaws: initially, after the election, the author had urged people to keep an open mind about Trump, and was on good terms with Steve Bannon and others. Also, among the several errors he made in writing the book, he expresses his belief that there's nothing to the Trump-Russian scandal. More, he falsely claims that Team Mueller is leaking to the press. This is curious, because he documents three sub-groups in the White House that frequently leaked to journalists, and any careful person can identify that recent leaks come primarily, if not exclusively, from the legal teams representing various current and former administration officials. (The leaks from the intelligent community have stopped, as there is no current need for them. Likewise, congressional staff have stopped, and it appears Democrats are willing to openly release transcripts.)

Still, the book is a gift that keeps giving. The coverage reinforces the growing awareness among the general public that Trump is an unstable man, incapable of functioning as president. It also speaks frequently about Trump's “thin skin,” and the information in the book is surely upsetting him. Thus, an unbalanced man becomes further unbalanced.

Trump's attempts to self-define as a “stable genius” was an attempt to counter the book's narrative. His staff set up a meeting with some legislators, to try to show the president could hold it together for an hour. Trump went so far as to try to reach agreement with Democrats on DACA. The result was that his alt-right base, including some jackasses in the White House and Congress, increased pressure on the president to remain unreasonably rigid.

Within days, Trump's core racism came shining through with his “shit hole” comments. The global response was that Trump himself is the “shit hole.” To borrow from Abbie Hoffman, I would suggest that Trump is not actually the muscle known as the sphincter, but rather the noxious gas that at times creates a socially embarrassing noise as it passes through.

Then came the news about the expensive payment to a actress of the “adult film” industry. Additional reports indicate that he requested another actress to join them. This suggests, of course, that there just may be a bit more to the story about the orange scrotum-faced president and the Russian hookers than the White House has admitted.

Can any good come from all of this? And what – if anything – can an individual do?

First, Trump “won” the most corrupt presidential election in our nation's history. And it took a lot to be worse than the 2000 theft. Trump is the least-qualified person ever to serve as president. Our long-term goal has to be electing a good Democratic Party leader in 2020. I'm confident that there are several high-quality potential candidates in the Senate, the House, and among the Democratic governors, to make a strong ticket. I do not think that our candidates will be facing the current Trump-Pence team.

However, the executive branch isn't the only problem. Our party has lost far too many elections at other levels, resulting in it being in the worst shape it has been in since 1920. Obviously, there need to be some changes. This created the environment that allowed the Trump campaign, aided by Russia, to “win” in 2016. Yet, even had either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders defeated Trump, not only would it have been unlikely they could have been effective with the current House and Senate, but either one's presidency would served as a lightening rod for republicans in the mid-terms.

The Democratic Party needs to change to master the changing realities in America. This includes the need for those in the leadership positions within the party to think outside the box that the party has been put in. That doesn't mean getting rid of everyone currently in leadership ,positions. Nor does it mean challenging every Democrat in primary election contests. But it does include new thinking, and some new blood.

An example of the type of candidate I like is Tim Canova, a law professor who specializes economic issues. He's strong in other areas, too, such as the environment. He has progressive values on social issues. Tim is running in the primary for a House seat in Florida, against incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Though I'm not from FL, I have previous experience working for another Democrat who ran for the House in 2016, and network with friends and associates across the state. Tim Canova is exactly the type of candidate that I like, and believe we need in Washington today. Hence, the small amount of money I have to invest in the primaries will go directly to Tim Canova.

I recognize that others, including on this forum, believe that DWS is a better candidate. And I appreciate that they have as much right to their beliefs, as I do to mine. That's the way it should be. Hopefully, this forum will provide for meaningful discussions on various candidates, and why it is essential that there be primaries in some states, and not in others. For that is necessary, in order for the Democratic Party to regain its power.

Peace,
H2O Man

Tantrum-in-Chief


If one sees a two- or three-year old having a tantrum, it's no big deal. Most little ones will have at least one episode in which frustration leads to their becoming angry, crying, yelling, and resistance to following adult directions. They are attempting to get what they identify as their needs met. In my experience as a parent, such tantrums tend to happen while in public (specifically in the toy or candy isle of a store), or when the toddler's psychic radar indicates that the parental unit is tired. Yet, with consistent parenting, the child learns that tantrums do not result in the desired result, and finds better ways of communicating.

When an older child engages in tantrums (“melt-downs”), my experience as a psychiatric social worker leads me to believe that the concept that such behaviors will result in their self-identified needs being met has been reinforced. This is a problem, as school teachers can attest. Unless dealt with, it is generally a sign that this person will have problems in relationships, and society in general.

If an adult engages in tantrums (“hissy fits”), normal people tend to find it rather uncomfortable to be around and witness. The person is, quite literally, attempting to get his or her self-identified needs met, specifically by controlling the behaviors of those around him/her. It is especially toxic in the context of an intimate relationship, for it slowly but surely results in the sane person being forced to agree that what is real is not real, and that which is not real is indeed real. Note: such behaviors serve as flashing red lights to end dating relationships, and “find a good attorney” in marriages.

Such behaviors in adults tends to indicate one of several possibilities. The person may have been raised in a dysfunctional family, where one or both parents communicated anger and frustration in a sick manner. Or, as a toddler and child, this person's outbursts were reinforced. Both of these are indicators of a serious personality disorder. And there is also a possibility that the person has organic brain damage, perhaps from a blow to the front of their head, or possibly a type of mental illness.

In my experience, such failure to master impulse control results in many, probably most, of these individuals to reach their potential as human beings, and lead successful lives. I encountered numerous such examples in the domestic abuse and county jail groups that I facilitated. To assess the level of danger in these, I looked for – among other factors – if the person tended to carry a weapon, and/or if they choked their victim. Both are flashing red lights, that suggest that “treatment” is unlikely to have a long-term positive result.

Hence, I find it particularly unsettling that we now have a tantrum-in-chief serving as president. He has access to the most destructive weapons in human history. More, he has both questioned why we have them if we don't use them, and has threatened to use them several times. Add to that reports that in his daily briefings, no mention of the Russian scandal can be made – for it might result in a tantrum. The White House staff has to pretend that what is real is unreal, and what is unreal is real – the surest way to insure the president doesn't have a melt-down. And watching the news often results in Trump's engaging in a hissy fit. There is a definite pattern here.

The new Wolff book documents that which other journalists have hinted at: that those around Trump view him as “acting like a child.” In this case, it is acting like a spoiled brat, who bends others' behaviors by way of threatened tantrums. Thus, at first, the infamous Trump Tower meeting had to be desribed as all about adoption, despite the knowledge that the New York Times had the e-mail chain that exposed this as a lie. Even his legal team has had to lie to him about the Russian scandal investigation, to keep him “stable.” Trump shows no indication that he has the capacity to change his behaviors, much less any desire to do so.

The Oval Office has become the nation's red light district.

Peace,
H2O Man

Fired and Furious

“There's danger on the edge of town ….”
Jim Morrison; The End



Michael Wolff's book is being released at a perfect time. It not only creates tensions between the Trump White House and the alt-right, but it makes the administration the world's laughingstock at a time when we all need a good laugh. Despite my previous decision, made 14 months ago, not to have any books on Trump in my presidential library, it will join Malcolm Nance's “The Plot to Hack America” and Bandy Lee's “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” next week.

I have talked to two associates in the past 24 hours. One believes that the book will have little impact overall, and none in the long run. The second told me that it is causing much more of a melt-down in the White House than even the top journalists are reporting. Trump, he said, was already furious because his legal team didn't have good news (or a letter) from their meeting with Mr. Mueller. Add to that the fact that the North Korean Trump had just played him, and Trump is enraged.

The difference between Nixon at his absolute worst and Trump is that Nixon believed the portraits of President Lincoln and others might respond to his requests for sage advice, while Trump tries to convince them that he is the smartest man in the room (or hall).

As humorous as it is, it is important to keep in mind that Trump poses an increased risk of dangerous behaviors now. The Mueller investigation haunts him. The North Korean Trump out-maneuvered him very publicly in terms of relations with South Korea, thus making China a more-recognized “leader” on the global stage. And then this new book, which paints an accurately pathetic picture of Trump and his family.

In Dr. Lee's book, several of the contributors mention my favorite psychologist-sociologist, Erich Fromm. Craig Malkin notes that Fromm coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe those who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy. (page 58)

John Gartner quotes Fromm's writing that “malignant narcissism” is “the quintessence of evil ….the most severe pathology. The root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity.” (page 94) Fromm was describing the severe dangers associated with individuals of Trump-like personality types obtaining political power.

Now, let's consider an important personality trait that this type is commonly noted for: paranoia. Such a person may believe, for example, that there is a risk of someone poisoning their food. One sees the strangeness of this obsessive fear in Trump's preference for McDonald's meals, rather than anything prepared at the White House. (Speaking of consuming “poison”!) And that's a result of simply the average pressures of the presidency.

The current pressures will continue to increase the level of paranoia that Trump is experiencing. This leads to more and increasingly unhinged tweets on his part. It becomes essential, in his tiny mind, to both claim total greatness and power for himself, and to totally devastate the reputations of his perceived enemies. It frequently involves projection, such as Trump's focus on Hillary Clinton and James Comey.

The synergy of his failure to take the spot light off of himself, the humiliating media reports on the new book, and the increasing pressure from the Mueller investigation, will make the coming two months both fascinating and dangerous. As citizens, we have the responsibility to be active participants at this time. Part of that, of course, means preparing to campaign for Democrats in this year's election, for there has never been a more important time and urgent need to win back the House and Senate. It also includes making frequent contact with elected representatives in DC, and voicing our demand that they release the transcripts of the interviews various committees have conducted regarding money laundering. Making this information public will be a huge step in removing the Trumps from the White House, as it is an essential part of the Trump-Russian scandal.

Peace,
H2O Man

Gold Water Gate Rules

“Goldwater is a nervous man. An impulsive man. A childish man. ...You want the real question answered, don't you? Goldwater has had two serious nervous breakdowns. Had to be taken off, taken out of the country, hospitalized. His wife wrote about it in full in 'Good Housekeeping”...”
President Lyndon Johnson; Oval Office conversation with C. Richard West, editor of the Dallas Morning News; September 21, 1964.


The above quote can be found in Michael Beschloss's “Reaching for Glory” (Simon & Schuster; 2001; page 39). LBJ is referencing an article by Mrs. Goldwater, published in the May edition of “Good Housekeeping,” in which she described the toll her husband's hard work had taken on him. The public discussion that followed resulted in what is commonly known as the “Goldwater rule” – that mental health professionals should avoid trying to diagnose a public official (or candidate) whom they do not have first-hand clinical exposure to.

What is too often overlooked is that a attempting a specific diagnosis is distinct from commenting upon the dangers that an individual poses, if that person has the powers of a given office. More, the amount of information available in 1964 – the combination of Senator Goldwater's position on using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and his wife's comments in a magazine for housewives – is relatively small when compared to the sum-total of information that the public has regarding Donald Trump and the threat he poses to our nation.

It is important, at least in my opinion, that we consider the history of mental instability and especially the dangers it has posed in the context of presidents in the post-World War Two world. This does not translate into an attack upon those who deal with mental illness, which is a legitimate human experience. Rather, it should focus upon the dangers posed when certain people have inhabited the most powerful position in the world.

One need look no further than LBJ for evidence of the toll that the modern presidency can take upon even a relatively stable man. Johnson was a legendary operative during his years in both the House and Senate, and on the surface would appear to have been capable of being a stable chief executive. He was confident in his ability to accomplish whatever he put his mind to in the Congress, and although he initially was uncomfortable with the manner he became president, the 1964 election put him firmly in the driver's seat.

If one focuses on his domestic agenda, LBJ was effective, nearing greatness. However, early in his presidency, he believed the United States could dictate its will in Vietnam. By the time he recognized that he could not – and that the war was destroying his planned “Great Society,” including having Martin Luther King openly oppose him – he began to have a series of psychotic breaks that his closest aides both feared and kept secret.

For a sympathetic view of this phase of his presidency, see Doris Kearns Goodwin's 1976 “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.” For another view, see Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s 1978 “Robert Kennedy and His Times.” Both provide fascinating, and disturbing, evidence worthy of our consideration.

The downfall of Johnson led to the 1968 election of Richard Nixon. But, before we focus upon Nixon, let's take a brief look at his opponent in his 1972 re-election campaign. Democratic Senator George McGovern was, in my opinion, an honorable man. He had served the nation in WW2. And he was opposed to US military involvement in Vietnam.

The 1972 Democratic Party's primary was damaged by the series of crimes known collectively as Watergate. But the public was largely ignorant of the full scope of this at the time. The Nixon people had worked to destroy party unity among Democrats by the time of the convention. Thus, neither of the two powerful factions within the party were supportive of McGovern to begin with. More, numerous errors on the part of McGovern and his campaign helped.

The most remembered mistake involved his first announced choice for his vice presidential candidate, Thomas Eagleton. (He was far from McGovern's first choice; when others turned down the offer to run , Eagleton became the default option.) Neither McGovern nor his staff were really familiar with Senator Eagleton. They relied upon him to be fully honest when they vetted him. He was not. Shortly after he was announced as the VP candidate, it was reported that he had an extensive history of psychiatric hospitalization and treatment including electro-shock therapy. For more on this, see Bruce Miroff's 2007 “The Liberal's Moment.”

Nixon's victory had consequences that Tricky Dick never anticipated. Watergate would overwhelm his second term. Now, Richard Nixon had functioned well in the House and Senate. His time as vice president had exposed some curious personality quirks, for sure, but without Watergate, he would have been an effective republican president. But Watergate came to define him.

Even more so than LBJ, Nixon became isolated in the bubble of the White House. And unlike LBJ, he even became isolated from most of his staff within that bubble. This increased his already substantial tendency towards paranoid thinking. He saw enemies everywhere. In time, he began to increase his consumption of whiskey while sitting up, alone, late at night, stewing. His staff, like LBJ's, came to realize that his mental instability put the nation at risk; they took steps to insure that he could not initiate a nuclear strike on his own, as is detailed in numerous quality books on his presidency.

From Ford to Obama, our nation has had presidents who have been mentally stable. Three were arguably incompetent in terms of ability (Ford, Reagan, and Bush Jr.), and Reagan's mental abilities took a sharp decline in his second term. Yet, the sum-total of their risk factors could not compare to that of the current president on any given day.

Bandy Lee's 2017 book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” (St. Martin's Press), is therefore required reading for all citizens concerned with the severe risks he poses to our nation. And once read, it requires us to take steps to insure that Congress removes him from office.

Peace,
H2O Man

One Dark Night




A couple of months ago, in an essay that I posted on DU:GD, I noted that a number of the people associated with Trump were setting the stage for a violent reaction to efforts to remove him from office. I note that there were no responses to my claim. Today, on “Morning Joe,” that very topic was discussed, and I'm pleased there people are paying attention.

That shift in attention may be because most people consider Fox News to be – and I hesitate to use this word – more “mainstream” than Alex Jones or Roger Stone. But I would suggest that forum members instead focus upon two things: the overlap between these two “news sources,” and particularly the audience that is being targeted with the “coup” message.

Let's start with the groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as posing a threat to our society. Consider what politician speaks their language. Is there a political figure that the Nazi-KKK-types believe reflects their interests? Shares their belief that President Obama, that atheist Muslim, was born in Kenya?

The 2016 republican presidential primaries was the first time this group participated in a meaningful way since 1964's republican primary season. And they were not coming out from under the rocks to support Jeb Bush, or any other mainstream republican candidate. Rather, they were excited by the candidate who gave voice to their hatred.

These are, of course, the same people who listen to Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, and Roger Stone. They are convinced that the “deep state” is attempting a coup. When Trump spouts nonsense, such as that the investigation into the Trump-Russian scandal is just the Democrats being sore losers, this audience is incapable of processing that the FBI's counter-intelligence investigation started when most people were certain that Clinton was on the road to an easy victory.

This, of course, is central to the Trump-Fox News effort to denigrate the FBI. While Democrats and others on the political left are wary of the FBI – generally for its past history – among that agency's many duties is coordinating with state and local police departments. As Democrats, we know that historically, those state and local police agencies – especially in specific regions of the country – have long contained members who are at very least sympathetic to those who believe the Bannon type of paranoid conspiracies.

And this creates the potential for violence. Keep in mind that the FBI (and some other federal agencies) do respect the SPLC. Thus, for good or bad, the response to the right-wing militia in a western state over cattle grazing on federal lands, was handled more delicately than, say, a demonstration outside the republican national convention.

We have a president who has not only called for the arrest and prosecution of his political enemies, but he has openly endorsed police violence against “suspects.” What would one expect from a guy who borrowed Nixon's infamous “law and order” banner during his campaign?

Donald Trump had but two goals in running for president. He wanted to change the tax laws to benefit his family and friends. And he wanted to be a historic figure, the most powerful man in human history. Things such as his dislike of “foreigners” (re: non-white human beings) was secondary. But his advisers, such as Bannon, want to burn the forest. Hence, their appeal to the arsonists on the right-wing fringe.

These people are not capable of accomplishing their wild designs, of course. They aren't going to lead a revolution. But they are dangerous, in the context of running over a women at a counter-protest, and other, similar cowardly acts. As we recently witnessed, these are people who supported a creep that preyed upon teen-aged girls, over a good man who prosecuted the murderers who bombed four little girls in a church.

As William Faulkner noted, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” We are entering a tense period in America. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. It's good to be aware of what the opposition is up to, and why they are doing it. One of our greatest advantages is that most of them aren't very smart. Another thing we have on our side is the law. And the Constitution.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Gathering Storm

“Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.”
Herodotus


On Thursday evening (December 14), the internet had a buzz about Team Mueller being prepared to file indictments on Friday morning. A curious guessing game took place: would it be Jared? Or perhaps Donald Junior? Such speculation was even found on DU:GD. And, not surprisingly, the morning passed without incident.

This raises the question of how and why this type of thing happens. The first factor, of course, is that many people recognize that Trump & Co. conspired and coordinated with Russian intelligence (and organized crime) to steal the 2016 election, and want these criminals held responsible. Mr. Mueller first indicted two members of the Trump campaign, and secured a guilty plea from a third. Then, Mr. Mueller flipped General Flynn. Thus, the increasing fury of the right wing republican attempt to derail the investigations – including in the House and Senate, as well as Mr. Mueller's.

Malcolm X used to say he knew he was right when his opposition squawked the loudest. Common sense suggests that the White House and their rabid supporters are aware that the Mueller investigation is getting very close to Trump and his closest associates. A good person could reasonably conclude the volume of their noise is because they believe more indictments are being prepared.

However, an informed person would remember that there was no warning before the first two indictments and the guilty plea were filed. Mr. Mueller does not leak to journalists. The information regarding General Flynn reported before he pleaded guilty came from Flynn's legal team. This is important, as Mr. Mueller had requested that no information be made public, before his team was able to verify literally every claim Flynn made, and every document he had produced.

From that time until now, Mr. Mueller's team has been interviewing people such as Hope Hicks, who had to decide if she should confirm what Flynn said about various campaign and White House meetings, or try to outsmart Mr. Mueller. She is not the only other witness the investigators have interviewed. And one can only speculate who, if anyone, has recently testified in front of the grand jury.

In the coming weeks, Mr. Mueller's team will request interviews with other people close to Trump. And Mr. Mueller will present more witnesses to the grand jury. It is likely that at least four of these will invoke their 5th amendment right to not answer questions. But it is equally likely that at least two others will spill their guts. And it is certain that Mr. Mueller's team, having already had some contact with the legal representatives of all seven, are fully aware what each will do. But their lawyers are not going to leak anything that Mr. Mueller has requested they remain silent about.

It is possible – even likely – that there may be some fascinating leaks from members of the intelligence community in the upcoming weeks. There is a system that was set up for this long ago, as everyone who has paid attention since the early 1970s knows. And this system is capable of putting groups and individuals outside of the White House in check.

And so now we come to those who started or spread rumors about a new indictment. The majority are probably good people, who sincerely want to see the Trump administration removed from power, and incarcerated. Younger people in particular might be prone to wanting things wrapped up immediately (compared to older folks who remember Watergate and Iran-contra).

Still others might be internet journalists who got ahead of themselves with their predictions. They know that there is a storm brewing, and can be forgiven for thinking that today would bring fireworks. But keep in mind that none of the corporate journalists had predicted anything for today.

Finally, be aware that there are rat-fuckers, intent upon creating confusion and worse. This includes those who purposely spread false rumors on the internet, because they know it can be like a penal institution, where any rumor twice repeated is accepted as fact. Their purpose can include getting good people's hopes up, thus causing disappointment with Mr. Mueller when the anticipated indictment fails to be filed.

Lastly, I should again recommend that people listen closely to Malcolm Nance. Recently, he said he expects things to unfold by March. (This is not unlike when, in a recent OP, I said that the DU community will find February to be a rewarding month.) There may be good things happening between now and then, too. For Mr. Mueller is a conscientious historian and prosecutor,

Peace,
H2O Man

Seven Dates in May

Mrs. Moore's comment about having a Jewish attorney reminded me of something that happened a quarter-century or so ago. Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman and I had successfully prevented a cemetery, circa 800 AD from being mined for gravel in an upstate village. As part of the cemetery had been “excavated” by both professional and amateur archaeologists in the late 1950s and early '60s, Paul tasked me with seeing if I could locate the human remains and burial goods for re-interment. Most were in the basement of an area NYS University museum.

I learned that one set of remains was located in the village's high school. The science department had a display, featuring the skeletal remains of a mammal, a Native American, an amphibian, and a reptile. I called the superintendent's office, to inform them that, as they received federal aid, they needed to return the remains for reburial. The superintendent called me back, and began our conversation by telling me that as a college student, he was friends with an Oneida woman.

Not able to help myself, I responded by saying that one of my college roommates was a Caucasian. He replied, “Really?” Then I believe he realized I was being rude. He was ignorant, while I was crude. I later learned that he and his wife were liberals, though we never really hit it off after that. Too bad, since that school might have been a good place for Paul and I to speak.

Mr. and Mrs. Moore, on the other hand, are not good people. They are unnatural toxins, gurgling to the surface of American culture. I watched some of Roy's supporters, singing church hymns and praying for “God” to perform a miracle after it was announced that Doug Jones had won the election. As if the universe needed to set things straight in Alabama – after the voters already had.

Religion can be nice, of course, but not when religious people want to deny others their human rights. It is good to see people like Senator Cory Booker noting that what took place in Alabama was a movement. And it is exactly the type of movement we need in every state, primarily (but not exclusively) for the 2018 elections. We need that type of movement to insure those very rights that Roy Moore wants to deny people.

In a thread last week, friend “democrank” noted that Donald Trump is a forest fire, supported by arsonists, and that we need a united effort to stop him. I like that. It reminds me of something Carl Jung said about Hitler being the mouthpiece for the collective unconscious of the Germans circa WW2. The same is true of Trump's relationship with the radical right and the christian right (which overlap).

Trump had contacted Bush the Elder in 1988, offering to serve as vice president. In the years since, he was focused on identifying a path to the White House. When President Obama humiliated Donald at the correspondences' dinner, he became o0bsessed with “revenge.” Trump was already invested in the “birther” nonsense, to solidify his political base. Soon he would seek to expand upon this.

In his early speeches in the republican presidential primaries, Trump experimented with various lines, to measure his audiences' responses. This allowed him to identify which hateful code words he would continue to emphasize in future speeches. In that sense, like a Hitler, it is clear that Trump is no “genius” of communications, but rather, a common hate-monger planting poison seeds in the gutters of American society.

His perverted version of “making America great again” was a simplistic appeal to the common hatreds and prejudices of those who want the United States to return to a place where non-white citizens “knew their place,” where “law and order” was maintained by police brutality, and women were obscene but not heard. A place where a True Detective's season one southern judge could run for the US Senate, as part of a religious crusade. A place where pathetic people such as Mrs. Moore would be okay with the Ku Klux Klan's efforts to protect her brand of christianity. Where the president serves as a Freudian wizard of Id. And Trump has purposely thrown a match on the Volatile Organic Compounds that have seeped to the surface; hence, democrank's wildfires.

The movement in Alabama showed exactly what is needed to put this nightmare in check. It requires that conscious people invest the hard work, on a steady basis, to bring the majority of people into an effort to make this nation live up to its promise. And the Democratic Party has the duty to help lead the way.

Peace,
H2O Man

A Potter's Field




Over the fourteen years that I've been a member of the DU community, a number of my essays have made use of various models from psychology and sociology that I find helpful in understanding “politics.” Today, I thought it might be interesting to consider a variation of the model developed by Ralph Potter, of the Harvard Divinity School, for understanding ethics. Potter himself created this variation, in an attempt to illustrate how an individual in the United States was likely to identify in the world of politics.

To begin with, I want to make it clear that I was never fortunate enough to sit in Potter's classroom. My interpretation comes from but one page of notes I scribbled down during one of Daniel Sheehan's lectures. Older forum members will remember Sheehan, a Constitutional lawyer, from his work on the Karen Silkwood and the Greensboro massacre cases. Younger members may be familiar with his efforts to protect Lakota lands from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sheehan was a student of Potter. Hence, if this makes sense, all credit goes to Potter and Sheehan; only the mistakes belong to me.

Potter taught that there were five general groups of voters in our country, and that by using the box model, one could identify which group an individual belonged to. First, let's consider the five groups, from left to right on a graph: the left system, the left marginal, the neutral marginal, the right marginal, and the right system. In this context, the systems groups believe in radical change, and the marginal groups believe in moderate change to improve the social-political reality in America.

Potter's “box” remains, as in the ethical model, a four-pane window, but the factors in each is different. In the top left pane, we have the universe, specifically how did it come into being? In the top right, we have the question of why it exists, and how it is unfolding? The bottom left asks how did consciousness arise, and is it unique to human beings? The bottom right asks about our ability to understand the universe, and if that understanding is limited to our five senses?

From the answers to these questions, one can identify – with relative accuracy – if one is a utopian (left system), a reactionary totalitarian (right system), or one of the three more moderate (marginal) groups in between on the graph.

Where an individual is located depends upon the factors that result in the person's answers to those four questions within the box. These include life experiences, including economic status and educational background. The person educated in a strict “creationist” religious context will generally hold very different views than a person who has a background in science, for example. A white man will have distinct experiences from a non-white woman. And there are many other factors.

As a general rule, no single answer to a specific box determines where the individual is placed upon the graph. However, it is safe to say that a rigid world-view predisposes a person will tend to be on the right. Yet, it remains important to remember that each individual has opinions they believe to be true, even if these beliefs are clearly errors in thinking and/or understanding. And that the more entrenched these beliefs are, the less likely “facts” are to change their level of understanding. Hence, for example, attempting to reason with a nazi is futile.

Now, Potter believed that the goals identified with FDR's New Deal represented the most sane, fair construct for our society at that time. He recognized that the tensions between those who demanded that these be fully institutionalized, and those who believed they could only take place by way of compromising with the right wing, was essential to our understanding of the problems we continued to face. Attempting to institutionalize the goals fully risked a right wing (military) coup; compromising resulted in allowing the seeds of social dysfunction to remain, and to surely grow into “new” variations of old problems. And, if one appreciates some of the social-political cycles in America, it brings us to LBJ's “Great Society,” and the same general dynamics. We could also consider President Obama's health care program, to bring us to more current times.

Perhaps some of you know exactly where I'm going with this. I wish that you'd remind me, because at my age, I'm easily confused. Instead, I'll use this for an awkward transition to my limited understanding of some of Sheehan's philosophy. But let's use Putin's Russia for our model now, rather than the United States.

Putin, and all those he employs, believe in social Darwinism. They hold to the theory of “survival of the fittest.” They recognize both the dangers and advantages of life in the crumbled empire. They define “fitness” in terms of the economic and political power that the elite class holds in their society.

They are not stupid per se. (The Trump family being an exception to this rule.) They do not limit their views to the immediate future, or simply their own country. They understand issues such as global warming, with the rising coastlines, will cause mass migrations from some of the most populated parts of the world within a couple of decades. They understand the economic implications of society's addiction to fossil fuels. They realize that economic collapses do happen. They appreciate the limits of resources in even “good” times.

As corporate elites, what might they be expected to do? Let's think hard. Perhaps gather as much power and wealth as they possibly can seems one possibility. They are hoarders, preparing for the worst case scenario, thereby insuring the worst case scenario. And who is their natural ally in this? What type of individual is happy, even eager, to have a “strong leader” speak for them? Think for them? Steal from them? Yes, the reactionary totalitarians on the far-right. Those that we cannot reason with. Those who are no more capable of changing their minds, than your lawn-mower is.

These “strong leaders” know what every tyrant throughout history has known: that in order to control a large population – even for a time – it is essential to divide groups, instill fear, and create a climate where the reactionary totalitarians “hate” some identified group, so that they blame their low level of being on the “enemy.” And they will become willing to dehumanize that “enemy,” be it Jews, Native Americans, immigrants, or gay and lesbian people.

Hence, it is essential – flipping back to the USA from Russia – that we not allow fractures to grow, and divisions to become entrenched, between the left-systems and the left-margin groups (re: Democratic Left and Democratic Party). Or between the young and old, the various ethnic groups, etc. For as those divisions take place, it serves to insure those worst-vase scenarios. The “election” of Trump is a glaring example.

When the left-systems and left-marginal groups are united, they become capable to reasoning with some among the neutral-marginal and even right-marginal groups. And that, and only that, can prevent the rise of a fascist totalitarian state (and/or remove a “strong leader”), and to open up the potentials for dealing with the very real and growing crises that human beings face in the years to come.

Peace,
H2O Man

Pleas Please Me

“The ends justify the means.”
Ovid's Heroides; 10 bc



The above quote is generally attributed to Machiavelli's “The Prince,” though the phrase is not found there. It has, however, been found in the actions of empires and mob families. And we witness that mindset in America today, in both the republican party and especially in the Trump administration.

Other historical figures have held that the means are ends. Perhaps most famously was Mahatma Gandhi. In our nation's past, the most outstanding example would be Martin Luther King. More recently, in the context of social-political conflicts, Michelle Obama noted that “when they go low, we go high.”

I believe that they were right. Sometimes, it's difficult for me to keep that Truth in mind, for two reasons. First, I'm imperfect, and second, the social-political reality is frequently frustrating. On a few recent nights, I've walked outside and looked up at the stars, and thought that while “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should,” things seem pretty screwed up here on earth.

It's easy for me to identify republicans in general, and specimens like Roy Moore and Donald Trump as toxic. That's not only okay, it's accurate. Nothing wrong with that thinking. Much of what they do is beyond disgusting. And so it can, at times, be a struggle to not feel hatred for them.

I have been a registered member of the Democratic Party my entire adult life. Still, there have been individual democrats – on the local, state, and federal levels – that I didn't have much respect for. The overall numbers are relatively small, of course, but they have always existed. And when I've felt that they have betrayed democratic principles, it is easy to feel contempt for them.

Today, I read through a number of OP/threads from DU community members on the case of Senator Al Franken. There are, of course, a wide range of opinions. I feel no need to express my own, as it is of no more value than anyone's here. But I will say that in the larger context of what our nation is confronted with today, as individuals at the grass roots level, we should remember Ms. Obama's words: “When they go low, we go high.”

In my opinion, the most important issue facing the country is the Trump-Russian scandal. It is an ugly example of mobsters who believe that the ends justify the means. And that means they would do anything to access the power to enrich themselves, to the detriment of the nation. They are indeed the lowest of the low ever to inhabit the executive branch.

At the same time, we are seeing Mr. Mueller's team investigating the Trump mob. And while we all would prefer that this unfolded at a more rapid rate, the fact is that it actually has been going faster than previous investigations of executive crimes. Two indictments have been made public. Two guilty pleas, as well. More, the case is picking up steam, and by the end of February, forum members will be pleased.

Hence, as I stood outside tonight, looking up at the stars, I knew that much of the responsibility for how the effort to revive and heal our constitutional democracy is firmly on the shoulders of the grass roots. In a sense, that's no different than with the social issues regarding sexual harassment: it's a social dysfunction that is not going to be “cured” by politicians in Washington, DC. No, the legislative branch has long been infected by this disease. Far too long to deal with it on their own. It can best be dealt with by the grass roots, by socially conscious people who engage in the political system, especially at election time.

And this means that we all can benefit from asking ourselves if we really believe that the means are not distinct from the ends. If Michelle Obama's advice is something that we hold on to when things are tough. If we do, then we don't continue to serve up the rancid bacon of “refusing to forgive” and work with democrats who supported a different candidate in one of the previous presidential primaries. No, that type of nonsense is only found at the lowest potentials for the Democratic Party. And we need to go much higher.

We have urgent issues to be focusing on right now. And we have a lot of important elections coming up in 2018. I'm hoping to do my best. That includes attending a local committee breakfast on Saturday. It involves organizing for dealing with current issues. And it is all connected with preparing for 2018, which is almost here.

Peace,
H2O Man
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