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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 56,753

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NYS Golden Gloves

On Saturday, my son fights in the finals of the upstate Golden Gloves. He's looked very good in training. Most of his sparring has been with another young man, who lives a few miles away, who is also in the finals at a lower weight class. We'll be heading to Buffalo on Friday afternoon, and competing Saturday evening.

Trump Mobile

“While you're saving you're face, you're losing your ass.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson


The events in Washington, DC, are unfolding with such speed that it can be difficult to keep track of them. Every day, the media reports information on both the Trump administration's relationship with the Russians, and/or either the House or Senate intelligence committee's investigations. It is important to recognize the importance of each revelation, and to understand each report's relationship to the others.

To do so, it is beneficial to view the Trump administration by using the model of a mobile hanging over an infant's crib. The mobile attempts to maintain its balance, yet each time one piece shifts its positions, all others must move. If the other pieces attempt to remain entrenched in their position, the mobile is forced to cut off the piece that is moving ….an action that still causes a further shift, as the initial castration of General Flynn illustrated.

It is also important, in the Trump mobile, to recognize that everything they claim is a lie. One is reminded of Groucho Marx's saying, “I deny everything I say, for everything I say is a lie, and everything I deny is a lie, too.”

In the past 36 hours, we have seen Steve Bannon demoted, and Devin Nunes “step aside” as the head of the House intelligence committee. The White House claims that Bannon had merely been placed on the NSC to babysit General Flynn. In fact, Flynn had advocated placing Bannon on the NSC; Flynn was fired long ago, yet Bannon remained on the NSC; and Bannon threatened to quit the White House when informed of this demotion.

Likewise, Nunes said that he stepped aside because “leftists” filed ethic complaints against him, for when he recently exposed himself as a willing lap dog for the White House. It is true that complaints have been filed for ethics violations. The violations involve Nunes's participation in a Bannon- engineered “intelligence operation.” The operation involved three other NSC individuals tied to Bannon, including one with ties to Nunes.

Keep in mind that the Iran-Contra scandal primarily involved the Reagan White House's efforts to consolidate policy and operations within the NSC. They, not coincidentally, operated with mercenaries from around the globe. These mercenaries included an international mafia of weapons dealers. It kind of sounds familiar to the Trump White House.

Going back to the Days when Flynn was part of the NSC, a “shadow NSC” was created. The White House, of course, has denied this. Were they lying? The “headquarters” of the “shadow NSC” has been identified as room 169 in the Eisenhower building since the administration's denial.

It has further been documented that the incoming Trump administration was represented by Erik Prince at a curious meeting on a privately-owned island in the Indian ocean. Erik is, of course, the (former) head of the mercenary group Blackwater. He is also the sibling of Betsy DeVos, who heads the education department. Even more, Prince – who donated in the Trump campaign – has a long history with Bannon. The pair is convinced that they, like VP Cheney and Scooter Libby, have the right to run illegal operations through the White House.

Now let's consider two others in the Trump administration. The first is Trump's personal body guard, Keith Schiller. He recently represented the administration, along with Jared Kushner, in meetings with the Kurdish, something that should have been done by the State Department. You may remember Schiller from when he hit a protester outside of Trump Towers in 2015. He has a military and law enforcement background, along with a history of being sued. He appears to be active in the “retired alt-right military/ law enforcement group” based in NYC, which is currently tasked with creating new lies for the White House to spread.

The last one we should consider is the one responsible for Bannon's humiliating demotion, H. R. McMaster. If anyone has been doing any “babysitting” in the NSC, it's him. Keep in mind that, after Flynn was placded in this extended time-out, Trump asked three retired military leaders to serve as his National Security Adviser. All three turned him down. Because McMaster was active duty, he could not turn Trump down. Clearly, McMaster recognizes that the band of ass-clowns -- around and including Trump – presents a threat to our country.

One more thing: the alt-right's attempt to smear Susan Rice is important to recognize for exactly what it is. There are a number of reasons they selected her, including the fact that she is a black female. They have attacked her in the past with lies and smears. And they feel the need to now, because if she does end up testifying – to the House, Senate, or criminal prosecution of the trumpets – she will destroy them. Ms. Rice is a highly-intelligent person, who knows things about them not from a “political” agenda, but from national security concerns.

Water Maniacs




Speaking of Erich Fromm, I'd recommend his wonderful book “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” (1973) as a guide to how Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. The book describes, in historical terms, the very nature of the Trump campaign. It also provides a valuable blueprint of how Trump – and Bannon, etc – intend to rule.

Before we discuss that book, it would seem important to look at one of Fromm's previous books, “On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying 'No' to Power.” It is a collection of Fromm's essays on the topic from the early 1960s. In this book, the author describes how a society becomes vulnerable to such an authoritarian leader.

The concept of “disobedience” has a curious interpretation in western society. Western culture has been influenced by both the Hebrew and Greek concepts. Human history, according to the Hebrew mythology, began with an act of disobedience that resulted in their being expelled from harmony within the natural world. And the Greek fable of Prometheus defines human civilization as being a result of disobedience.

But before considering the power of disobedience, let's consider “obedience,” as Fromm speaks of it. He notes that there are two types of obedience: “Obedience to a person, institution, or power (heteronomous obedience) is submissive; it implies the abdication of my autonomy and the acceptence of a foreign will or judgment in place of my own. Obedience to my own reason or conviction (autonomous obedience) is not an act of submission but one of affirmation. My conviction and judgment, if authentically mine, are part of me.” (page 5)

From this, we can see how enough Americans submitted to the Trump campaign's promise to “make America great again.” Of course, the majority of voters did not support Trump. Hopefully, they will continue to say “no” to his insanity. The biggest question remains as to if they can do so in a coordinated, unified manner.

These basic ideas are, obviously, not limited to our current situation involving Donald Trump. We can apply these same concepts to other groups and individuals, including family, school, workplace, internet groups, church, etc. And there is a large range of locus on control spanning between fully internal and external in individual human beings.

To better understand this wide range, Fromm notes that we must understand how it involves the individual's conscience. There are, he explains, two distinct types: “One is the 'authoritarian conscience' which is the internalized voice of an authority whom we are eager to please and afraid of displeasing. This authoritarian conscience is what most people experience when they obey their conscience. It is also the conscience that Freud speaks of, and which he called 'Super-Ego.' This Super-Ego represents the internalized commands and prohibitions of father, accepted by son out of fear. Different from the authoritarian conscience is the 'humanistic conscience'; this is the voice present in every human being and independent from external sanctions and reward. Humanistic conscience is based on the fact that as human beings we have an intuitive knowledge of what is human an inhuman, what is conductive of life and what is destructive of life. It is the voice that calls us back to ourselves, back to our humanity.” (page 6)

Because each human life is distinct, and people's beliefs are rooted in their individual life experiences – family, education, etc – humanistic conscience provides for more than one option for individual thinking, beliefs, and values. Only authoritarian conscience holds that there is one, and only one, legitimate set of thoughts, beliefs, and values. On its surface, this is weak, because any time two people's thinking is exactly alike, it means only one is thinking. More, in practice it is tragic: for if all people thought and acted exactly alike, humanity would decay in short order.

This is not to suggest that people should disobey any and all rules of social order. Clearly, those who are incapable of following what Martin Luther King, Jr., correctly called “just laws” create problems. It is the disobedience of “unjust laws” that King advocated, including the willingness to accept the consequences nonviolently. King grasped that this form of appeal to humanistic conscience possesses the power to advance social justice.

Fromm notes that the Hebrew prophets understood history as the period of time required for people to become fully human. When humanistic conscience is shared, then humanity enters “the end of days,” which indicates the ability to live in peace with one another, and in harmony with the natural world. It does not mean that all people will think and act alike. It does mean having respect for other people having the right to identify, for themselves, what type of person they favor for representing their interests and values in “government.”

"Baby, You're a Rich Man"

Elite: a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group:
the power elite of a major political party.


There are some interesting discussions on DU:GD as of late, often focusing on the words “liberal elite,” that include attempts to marginalize Democrats who were/are participants in the Sanders Revolution. As someone who continues to support Bernie – I have since first meeting him circa 1982 – I thought it might be worthwhile to express a few thoughts here. I understand that the majority of current forum members will likely disagree with what I say here, and that is fine. I have never been concerned about if my opinions are in the majority or minority. As Gandhi noted, even if one is alone in their understanding of Truth, they should speak.

Every group with more than eight members will have a hierarchy. If a group has millions of members, it will, by definition, include “a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within (the) larger group.” Therefore, it would be reasonable to believe that the Democratic Party has “elites,” and unreasonable to hold that it doesn't.

All organizations with millions of members must, by definition, operate by means of a stratified bureaucratic system. That includes the Democratic Party. That stratification involves having some that are at the top. However, the lower levels also have power. In an organization that works well, those at the different levels work in a coordinated manner, to increase results that benefit everyone.

There are, of course, more than two levels within the party. Between the grass roots and the national leadership are local, county, and state Democratic Party committees. While this structure is similar to that found in the republican party, its functions are distinct: republicans as a rule campaign and vote for whoever their candidate is, while Democrats frequently invest their energies in those candidates that most represent their opinions, beliefs, and values.

If we consider why the Democratic Party has lost so many House, Senate, and state elections in recent years, it would seem important to assess if these levels are coordinating to benefit all. That requires that we understand, accept, and respect the fact that there are a variety of opinions, beliefs, and values involved here. Pretending that anyone who has different opinions, beliefs, or values than ourselves must be a “bircher” or enemy of the party is to be part of the concrete thinking that prevents positive change – and positive changes are clearly required if our party is to start winning more elections.

The differences between the two major groups within the party can best be understood by recognizing the differences between “liberal” and “progressive” members. Liberals believe the political-economic-social structure is basically sound, and merely requires some fine-tuning in order to be more fair to all. Progressives believe that structure prevents social justice, and requires a major overhaul. This core difference causes tensions within the party. This is where the Democratic Party faces its greatest challenge: if both sides work together for the commo0n good, we will win the vast majority of future elections; if we are divided, we will lose, even to the worst opposition possible – as the election of Donald Trump demonstrated.

When progressives speak of the “liberal elite,” we are talking about those with the economic, social, and political position that allows them to be “more equal” than the grass roots voters. There is no better example of “liberal elites” than the “super delegates” that decide our presidential primaries. Another example from 2016 was, obviously, the DNC. Liberals tend to believe what the elites say, and that what they do is for the common good. Progressives tend to think of the James Baldwin quote, “I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do.”

Consider, for example, the issues involved in fund-raising. Few members of the Democratic Party speak in favor of the Citizens United decision. Without question, corporate money has an unhealthy influence on democracy. It is safe to say that the liberal elite in DC listens closer to the corporations that donate thousands to their candidate and “Super PACs,” than to the individual who donates $10 or $20. And that is not just in the general elections – it holds just as true in the primary season. So as uncomfortable as it may be, we have the obligation to ask: if corporate money has an undemocratic influence on general elections, should it be allowed to determine the outcome of primaries?

Any politician can talk about protecting the environment. Donald Trump says he is protecting the environment, while doing virtually everything possible to advocate for the financial interests of the corporations that are destroying the natural world. We can't believe what he says, because we see what he is doing – not that any rational person ever believed him to begin with.

There are liberal elites who speak passionately about the environment. And, to be fair, some of them advocate for environmental issues with their actions. Yet there are many others who merely talk the talk, and fail to walk the walk. Some even express contempt for environmentalist when they are behind closed doors. This is not mere speculation, nor is it a paranoid conspiracy theory. In 2016, documents made public proved this beyond question. More, we saw what politicians supported the people in Standing Rock. We know who was there.

We are at a point where the grass roots progressive community is saying “no” to those who mistakenly believe they have the authority to dictate the “rules” they seek to enforce on others, but are unwilling to follow themselves. If we examine this within the context of the Democratic Party, that translates to people refusing to be an unconscious cog in a corporate machine. Some people understand that; others simply do not.

It includes the reality that Bernie Sanders is not merely a leader in the Democratic Party, but he is a member of the party. Bernie is as much a member of the party today as I am. And I am every bit as much a member of the Democratic Party, with an equal right to my opinions, beliefs, and values, as any other forum member. I recognize that I am not in any position that could be mistaken for “elite.” I'm proud to be an average member of the grass roots, at the lowest level of stratification.

My focus is empowering the grass roots within the Democratic Party. I accept the fact that I will never be invited to a fancy DC cocktail party, to bump shoulders with those beautiful people Lennon sang about in “Baby, You're a Rich Man.” I'm not at risk of either getting or accepting such an invitation.

I will, however, continue to attend rallies and demonstrations; speak to groups, including college students and environmentalist; and assist regional Democratic Party committees, send $10 or $20 to the individual candidates I trust, and invest my time and energy in their campaigns. I'm confident that this allows me to work within a large segment of our party. I am at peace with the reality that there are others who do not agree with me as an individual, and who do not support the issues that are most important to me. They have the same right to their opinions as I have to mine; more, they own their actions, just as I own mine.

Peace,
H2O Man

Twisting in the Wind

I remember my father pointing out that whenever a republican administration is in deep shit, they will select someone to serve as a lightening rod. The idea is to make someone other than high-ranking administration officials be the center of controversy. The best example of this came during the Watergate years, when John Ehrlichman said of acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray, “I think we ought to let him hang there. Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

Events this week demonstrate that the Trump administration assigned this role to Devon Nunes. More, it is apparent that they were willing to sacrifice any potential political career that Nunes may have been able to buy. Throughout the week, Nunes has been hung out for media attacks. More, he lacks the intellectual capacity to realize he has been left to twist slowly in the wind. At very best, he will become a footnote in history, a punching bag reduced to a punch line.

Despite the implosion of the House intelligence committee, it actually served its purpose. This was accomplished by last Monday's public hearing, particularly when director Comey spoke about exactly what the FBI is currently investigating. More, Nunes's panicked behaviors since last Friday have back-fired on him. His canceling of this week's meetings exposed the White House's attempt to derail a serious investigation.

While much of the media has focused upon Nunes's actions, the reporting has been largely negative. There have been increasing calls for him to, at very least, recuse himself from this investigation. Even another republican has called on him to step down. Nunes's recent media interviews have been awkward, as he refuses to answer questions about the relationship between himself and those who “shared” the intelligence reports that upset him so.

Further, the White House attempted to prevent Sally Yates from testifying to the House intelligence committee. And Nunes canceled the meetings the committee had scheduled for this week, without providing an explanation to the other members.

Fortunately, the Senate intelligence committee has begun their public hearings. This is where the public is likely to learn much more about the issues involving the Trump campaign/ administration's relationship with the Russians.

Also, it is being reported that Michael Flynn is attempting to secure a deal for himself: apparently, he will testify if he gets immunity. If the Trump administration felt it necessary to attempt to prevent Sally Yates from testifying, they have to be freaking out at the mere thought of Flynn testifying. By no coincidence, the administration was willing to sacrifice Flynn early on, and reportedly were ready to blame him for anything else that may come up. As terrible of a human being as he is – and he is horrible – he could do severe damage to all of the president's men. And the president.

A Rolling Stone

"Dig It"
Like a rolling stone
Like a rolling stone
Ah like a rolling stone
Like the FBI and the CIA
And the BBC, BB King
And Doris Day
Matt Busby
Dig it, dig it, dig it
Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it


-- The Beatles


I did a brief presentation for a area Democratic Party committee this evening. The group was doing preparation for this November's elections, when they will be running a number of good candidates for “local” offices. Although I do not reside in the county where their elections will be held, I always enjoy the opportunity to break bread with them.

It's funny: on Monday, in another county, I was asked to attend a historical society's board of trustees meeting. There had been some rather unpleasant arguing at recent meetings, and some people there thought I might be able to help resolve the on-going problems. There were twenty people there, who took turns arguing with one another. One problem was that the majority of them were talking all at once, for most of the 90 minutes we were there.

There were about the same number of Democrats at tonight's meeting. There was no arguing. People were respectful when any other person spoke. I found this interesting, because I knew about half the people there, and they had been divided between Clinton and Sanders in the last presidential primary. But that hasn't resulted in hard feelings between them, nor does it prevent them from working together now. They know what is important.

That strikes me as a key point. These are the people that do the yeoman's work. They build the foundation of the Democratic Party. What is important to them is, in my opinion, of far greater significance than the sum total of the anger and hurt feelings dividing that historical society. They recognize that both Clinton and Sanders had a huge amount of support last year, and that it is essential that these groups – both firmly within the Democratic Party – work together today.

Next month, another group in that community has asked me to speak about the numerous toxic industrial waste dump sites in their township. The leader of the neighborhood groups I'll be speaking to recently told me a county official “begged” her not to have me speak. She asked me if I was still willing to speak to the two neighborhood groups? Gracious! I'm more than willing. In fact, I'll probably mix in a few statements noting that they should, among other things, vote for the Democratic candidates in November, since their current representatives are owned by fossil fuel.

Peace,
H2O Man

RICO Suave

Last week surely ranks high among the worst ever for any presidential administration in modern times. Indeed, it marks one of the lowest points for a president in the nation's history. Much of the White House distress was a direct result of their corruption and incompetence …..yet, as Rachel Maddow documented so well during the week, the massive grass roots demonstrations against republican efforts to repeal “Obama Care” also played a huge role.

The humiliating defeat of the Ryan-Trump plan shows that not every republican is willing to suckle on Trump's appendage in the manner of Devon Nunes. It would be an error to believe that the republican refusal to support their president was due to the Ryan-Trump bill alone. Reports on how ignorant Trump was on the bill's details

Thus, they see a president who has been put in check by the federal courts on his Muslim immigration ban; a president leading an administration being investigated for serious charges by the FBI, in coordination with the rest of the intelligence community; a president who tweets outrageous lies about President Obama; and a president who is incapable of grasping the issues involving health care. It is therefore same to conclude that congressional republicans are confronted with two questions: How did this man get elected? And how closely do they have to associate themselves with his failing presidency?

Both questions lead directly to the FBI investigation. And as bad as it appears to the public, and as damaging as the media reports are, the talk in the offices in the House and Senate is far worse. That doesn't mean that the average republican is going to behave as if they know how bad it is for Trump et al right now. This is not an attempt to ascribe even a hint of patriotism or ethical standards to them, for their behaviors are entirely self-serving. They prefer the comfort of office more than they care about Trump and Steve Bannon.

It appears most likely that the “intelligence” shown to Nunes last Tuesday night was from Jerome Corsi. And that Corsi held this meeting upon the request of Steve Bannon. Think about that. On Wednesday morning, Nunes rushed to talk first to Paul Ryan. What he did after that was – at very least – given the okay by Ryan. And the entire operation fell flat: Nunes's behavior was the issue, and his ability to lead the House intelligence committee questioned.

The single best source on the televised reporting on the Trump-Russian scandal is Malcolm Nance. Between his book on the topic, and his on-going analysis, one could be forgiven for thinking that he is playing a role in the effort to remove Trump from office. There are two things that Mr. Nance said at the end of the week that are extremely important.

First, he made clear that the FBI is conducting an investigation based upon violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The prosecutions will not be for treason or espionage, except in the court of public opinion. Yet, looking at the definition of RICO shows why this is a better fit for the federal government's system to process:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act

One can argue about the Constitution's description of “treason.” Even the US Supreme Court's ruling in 1952 on Kawakita v United States was a 4-3 decision. But no one will be able to view the current administration as organized crime, and a group that dealt with Russian organized crime – including to coordinate efforts in the 2016 presidential election.

As documented in the above link, RICO can involve both criminal and civil charges. While there is a history of not charging a sitting president with criminal charges, in the 1990s, the government shifted to make a sitting president face civil charges. This created grounds for the House republicans to move to impeachment, advocating a case that defied logic.

In the current administration, there is already more than enough evidence to indict and convict several of the Trump campaign's players. The current investigation is focused upon those two famous questions: What did the president know? And when did he know it?

To prosecute the higher levels, the FBI benefits from “turning” participants who will inform on others, in order to obtain a deal. There has been interesting speculation on which of the suspects would rat on the others, for they are all rats. But Mr. Nance has said that the first rat is none other than Flynn.

In an case of an investigation that started last summer, events have picked up momentum in recent weeks. In large part, that seems likely related to Flynn having ratted his buddies out. The attempt to discredit the House intelligence committee, Bannon, Corsi, Nunes, and Ryan engaged in last week's failed effort. More and more elected representatives in the House and Senate are advocating for a more thorough investigation, including a possible Senate Select Committee. Within a month, it's likely that there will be agreement that a special prosecutor be named.

I think we should begin lobbying for Preet Bharara be appointed to that position.

Peace,
H2O Man

Roger Stone & Crosstown Traffic

"I'm not the only soul
accused of hit and run;
tire tracks all across you back
I can see you've had you fun."
-- Jimi Hendrix; Crosstown Traffic


I haven't seen much focus on the Roger Stone incident last week. There have been some indications that Stone is willing to sing to investigators. Then he became the victim of a hit-and-run "accident":

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/16/trump-adviser-roger-stone-fears-that-a-suspicious-hit-and-run-incident-in-miami-meant-someone-was-targeting-him/

Paul Ryan

“In April, 2011, shortly after the near-shutdown, Paul Ryan released his budget, the most radical policy blueprint to come out of official Washington in a generation. It simultaneously shredded the social safety net, swept away the country's seed corn of investments in the future, and adopted discredited supply-side economics. Even Gingrich called it 'radical right-wing social engineering.' ….In this first version, Ryan privatized Medicare entirely for those under fifty-five.”
Jonathan Alter; The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies”; Simon & Schuster; 2013


Was it a sign of mental deterioration, as my son insists? Or can be be attributed to the cable news reports on the shared failure of Ryan and Trump to deliver as promised? Either way, while watching a report on Ryan, I said that there was an important paragraph in Jonathan Alter's book, on page 165. Instead, the above quote is found on page 163.

This was shortly after Ryan had expressed report for what President Obama had referred to as “an Ike budget.” Ryan clearly has no conscience. I find it offensive every time he talks about his ancestors immigrating from Ireland at the end of the Great Starvation. He is nothing if not the unethical heir to the “landlords” who ruled the Old Sod with cruelty.

President Obama responded in a speech at George Washington University, by saying Ryan's proposal wasn't “serious,” and pointing out that it “would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we've known.” (Alter; pg 165)

The battle over health care certainly isn't over. It's important that citizens at the grass roots level continue to speak up, and inform their elected representatives – Democratic and republican – that the Ryan-Trump plan is unacceptable.

Trumptown

I wonder if current events are bringing up painful memories for House intelligence committee member Jackie Speier. As older forum members know, this is not her first confrontation with a megalomaniac. In November of 1978, she was part of a fact-finding mission as part of an investigation into abuses by Jim Jones, at the “People's Temple” in Guyana. She worked Congressman Leo Ryan, who represented the same general district that she does today.

In that tragic incident, Jones ordered a vicious attack on Rep. Ryan and others, as they attempted to board their flight to leave “Jonestown.” Five people, including Ryan, were killed by gun-fire; Ms. Speier was hit five times, and would lay wounded for 22 hours before help arrived.

This is not to suggest that Jones and Trump are identical twins. But they do share certain dangerous personality characteristics. Devin Nunes's attempt to distribute the kool aid to the media yesterday must have reminded Speier of 1978.

Trump and the alt-right must be removed from power by constitutional means. I would not be surprised if they then move to the jungles of Guyana.
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