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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
March 12, 2020

The Cold Within

This was my friend Rubin's favorite poem. I loved hearing him recite it. He came from a line of preachers, and delivered it with gusto. I was thinking it might be of value as we consider events in the Democratic Party's primaries. We are in this together. We need every Democrat to be united in November. Let's use our sticks to beat Trump. It beats the hell out of how cold it will be if Trump is given a second term.

The Cold Within
by Timothy Kinney

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.

March 10, 2020

The Trump Virus

Question: “What do you think of Donald Trump running for president?”

Dick Gregory: “I think that there are two of him.”

Question: “Two? Why two?”

Dick Gregory: “Because no one man can be that ugly.”

A system can only produce that which it contains. Thus, as Malcolm X taught, a chicken cannot produce a duck egg. Nor will a horse give birth to kittens, And so we should consider what gave birth to Donald Trump's presidency, if we are serious about preventing a second term.

Dick Gregory was correct when he identified Trump as double-ugly. Thus, Trump's only avenue to victory was to make the political system that could result in his election double-ugly. This involved injecting hate, fear, paranoia, lies, and mistrust – all on steroids – into the republican primaries and general election.

Trump's apologists claimed that the ends justified the means, that Trump had to run an ugly campaign in order to do noble things as president. This, of course, is something we can all recognize as bullshit. He ran an ugly campaign in order enable him to run an ugly, corrupt administration. This is the teleology of his ugly system.

A rational, thinking person should recognize that we will not benefit from taking on Trump's campaign characteristics. This includes in the Democratic Party's primaries. We should consciously avoid “noble cause corruption,” simply because the use of divisive tactics can never result in unity. And, no matter how good it may feel to attack Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, doing so can only mean that, if only for that moment, one has added the force of their being into Donald Trump's re-election campaign. It cannot be otherwise when the negative is promoted, no matter how positive the individual's goals may be.

A divide in the Democratic Party is the ONLY way that Trump can possibly win the November election. Such a divide will not be found between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. That isn't going to happen. It can only exist between the supports of each candidate. Impossible, you say? Take a long hard look at the nonsense being posted on DU:GD-P, and you will see the seeds of division being sewn daily. It is as if too many people didn't learn a thing from 2016.

Unity is our best and only hope. If we are united, we crush Trump in November. If we are divided, he wins.

H2O Man

March 6, 2020

Thirteen Moons

“The whole year begins:
Look! There is snow on the ground!
Look! There are our tracks!
We walk a little further …..
Look! The snow is gone!
We walk a little further ….
Look! The Maple Tree grows leaves!
The Plants are planted.
The Water runs from the top of the hills.
It becomes medicine.”

Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman
13 Strings of Wampum. 13 Moons

It was bright and sunny when I took Kelly for a walk today. I believe that the weather has given him more energy than usual. On a calm day, he is more active and moves at a greater speed than any canine his age in the world's history. I let him take the lead, and he notices I am moving slow and is patient with my pace. He runs circles around me, stopping short up in front of me for an occasional pet on the head.

Clearly, we will have more cold weather in the weeks to come. As warm as it was in the sunlight, and how much easier it is to walk in the fields where the snow has melted, it was colder at the edge of the pines. There is still a thick level of snow, topped with a thick crust. The crunch under my feet alerts every blue jay keeping watch from their stations in the trees.

My foot went into extra-deep with one step. By the time my foot was out of this new hole, Kelly was by my side. He heard a small flow of water located in that hole, and drank his fill. When we got back out into the sun shine, I saw a small dandelion at the edge of the water flowing down the hill. It reminded me of the song that Paul taught me years ago.

That was around the same time when I was attending a “Green Psychology” course at the state university. There are a number of good books on the topic. My favorite is Ralph Metzner's “Green Psychology: Transforming Our Relationship to the Earth.” Metzner, who worked at Harvard in the 1960s, has authored several outstanding books. In this one, he focuses on the mental/physical advantages of being in touch with the Natural World, and the dangers of living separate from the Earth.

I think about this as Kelly and I head home, for him to take an afternoon nap. It is the same message, found in a thousand year old song, and in a book published a couple decades ago. I'm fortunate that “nature” surrounds me here, and even a short walk in the sun does me good. In these strange and exhausting times, I hope that everyone can access the healing power of nature.

H2O Man

March 4, 2020

Super Tuesday

“History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.” – Mark Twain; The Gilded Age: A Tale of To-Day; 1874

The wonderful quote, “History doesn't repeat, it rhymes,” is frequently attributed to Mark Twain, and while there are enough similar examples in his writings to hint that he spoke those words, no one can say for certain. Following “Super Tuesday,” however, the above quote may be more important for us to understand, in order to increase our chances of winning not only the White House, but the Senate as well.

Last night, I found myself focusing upon some of the broken fragments from my memories from 1988. Growing up in an extended Irish-American Catholic family, though not Catholic since learning how to skip church without paternal detection as a teen long before, I was an early Biden supporter. But his campaign got knee-capped early. There are other broken fragments from 1988 that are not dissimilar to some of the current events.

Now, the 1988 Democratic primaries featured numerous good candidates. Many in our party had hoped Mario Cuomo would run, but he opted not to. So in 1987, Gary Hart was in the lead, though a scandal resulted in the loss of that position. Joe Biden was coming on strong, until a pseudo-scandal hurt him. Joe had been quoting Neil Kinnock, of the British Labour Party, in his speeches. Joe properly gave credit to Kinnock in every speech but one, and the Dukakis campaign sent a film clip of that one to the media, claiming Biden was plagiarizing Kinnock.

At the same time, they started the rumor that Biden had been caught plagiarizing in law school. Although the Delaware Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility noted this was simply not true, the damage in the media was entrenched, and Joe Biden dropped out of the race. Several of Dukakis's staff resigned in protest over the “dirty tricks – leaving, in my opinion, a staff that was not nearly as good as their candidate.

Dukakis was a good man, and a good politician. Like literally every politician and human being, he was not “perfect.” His approach might be described as clinical, with little if any emotion. In that sense, he tended to come across similar to Mike Bloomberg. This was one of three things that would hurt him in the general election.

The second thing that hurt the Dukakis campaign was his relationship to Jesse Jackson. It's worth noting that Jesse has recently said that Bernie Sanders has taken up the flag that Jesse was carrying in the 1964 and '88 primaries. A huge difference today, of course, is that Joe Biden and Bernie are friends, and respect one another. Dukakis was not comfortable with Jackson in any way, least of all when they met in person.

It has been said, correctly or incorrectly, that Jesse had a bit of a superiority complex. Jesse himself noted that people should not want a person with an inferiority complex to be president, at times citing the example of Richard Nixon. And in 1988, Jesse ran a strong campaign, winning numerous primaries in states the party would need to carry to win in November.

The “Democratic Leadership Council” had been formed to try to correct mistakes that had been made earlier in the decade, including Mondale's loss to Reagan in 1984. The DLC believed Mondale had been seen as too liberal (he was a really, really good liberal, in my opinion). By focusing upon more centrist candidates, the Democrats had won control of the Senate in 1986. Yet, that can not be seen as separate from the Iran-Contra scandal – something that had the potential to damage Bush the Elder in the 1988 contest. Indeed, after Dukakis won the primaries, polls indicated he had a significant lead over Bush.

Jesse believed that his showing in the primaries indicated he would add the most to the ticket for November. In communications, Jesse and his staff believed they were being given serious consideration. However, the DLC/ party establishment believed Jesse's charisma would overshadow Dukakis. More, while they had the lead in current polls, they believed it was important to try to nail Texas down.

Dukakis had won the Texas primary with 33% of the vote, while Jesse had won 25%. But there was a belief that putting Jesse on the ticket might hurt the ticket's chances of winning Texas in November. Hence, Dukakis would pick Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Jr., as his running mate.

Before announcing that pick, however, Dukakis had to break the news to Jesse. That event did not go well, and included evidence that Dukakis's team had not taken simple steps to avoid the meeting as coming off as a snub. This included the serving of food that Jackson's team had told the Dukakis people that Jesse was not able to eat for health reasons. Things between the two men remained tense.

Bush would win 40 states, including Texas. A number of the states that Dukakis lost by relatively small amounts were the states where Jesse had been the strongest in the primaries. One can only speculate on if having Jesse as VP would have made the difference. But it is certain that, although Jesse endorsed Dukakis, a significant number of Jesse's supporters did note vote in November.

It is too early to say with any certainty if Joe Biden will be our nominee. There are obviously strong reasons to think he most likely will be. But our history has numerous examples of what seems most likely not happening.

However, there is one thing that we can say for certain, without any risk of error. Come November, we will need the supporters of Biden, Bernie, Warren, and all of the other candidates who have participated in the 2020 Democratic primary season to vote for our ticket. And that is definitely something that we all need to keep in mind between now through our convention. For Biden, Sanders, and Warren are friends, and will attempt to provide a united front. A very real danger is that their supporters will insult others in ways that create bitterness and prevent the required unity for victory. We too often see that type of bullshit even now, on the internet. Please do not participate in it.

H2O Man

March 3, 2020

Your Opinion, Please

I see that Paul Begala said that Trump will drop his Pence and add Nikki Haley to the republican ticket this summer. Mr. Begala is a smart man, and he may be right. Trump's re-election campaign has told him that Pence neither adds to nor subtracts from his level of support. Placing Pence as the head of the administration's efforts to prevent and contain the coronavirus could kill any prayer Pence has to remain, should Haley be open to the idea.

But tonight, on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries, I do not think it matters who runs with Trump. I remain convinced that any one of our candidates would beat Trump. And whoever our nominee is, we are going to win.

Hence, my questions: who do you want to see as the 2020 ticket? Who are in particular do you think would, as the vice presidential candidate, create the best balance? Why?

There are, as always, no “wrong” answers. I'm just curious who others view as the best VP picks?

Thank you,
H2O Man
February 29, 2020

Established Systems

I think that we can all agree that words have meaning. Linguist John McWhorter points out that, over time, languages change. The Merriam-Webster dictionary frequently adds “new” words, which people my age should avoid attempting to use around our grown children and their friends. We do much better with those words with well established meanings.

“Establish” is one such word. It means to bring into existence, with a goal of creating a long-term thing. If a person opens a restaurant, for example, they hope that it will be successful and remain open for a long time. The Founding Fathers established a new nation, with the same goal.

“Establishment” is yet another interesting word. It means the hierarchy that holds the reins of control of the established group or organization. If we think of a chain of successful restaurants – say, McDonald's – its “establishment” is not the teenager or 62-year old flipping burgers. It's the business's owners.

The Founding Fathers limited the scope of those who could be part of the establishment in the new nation. Briefly, one needed to be a white male. There were some tensions within the Founding Fathers regarding further restrictions for leadership. For sake of making this slightly less tedious reading, let's turn briefly to Clinton family historian Sean Wilentz for two definitions.

The word “republic” comes from the root “res publica”-- meaning a “public thing” where the common good of all would be determined by the most enlightened, educated, and wealthy white men.

“Democracy” comes from the root “demos krateo” – meaning “rule of the people,” where the masses determined what defined that common good. The very though of the less educated, impassioned public having control of government was unpopular with enough of the Founding Fathers that the new country was indeed a republic in it's early years. Over the decades and centuries, it has become a mixture of republican and democratic institutions within the established government.

Some are relatively new, such as the military-industrial complex that Ike warned about sixty years ago. Among the new factors that determine the leadership within the country we find both private and public individuals and groups. We can see, for example, that a corporation has much more “freedom of speech” during political campaigns that do you or I. Likewise, a billionaire does.

Today's republican party has an establishment that tells its members what they think. Because their establishment is rigid, it was relatively easy for Donald Trump to high-jack its reins of control. And so long as it makes money for the opulently wealthy, they convince the base that Trump represents the American dream. Add the “greater than Lincoln,” and you have the alt-right's support.

The Democratic Party is an “establishment,” complete with a hierarchy within it ranks . That structure includes at the national, state, county, city and town levels. As a general rule, that is certainly a good thing, as it is helpful in our achieving election victories at each level. It would be mighty hard to have to create a new structure for each election, in my opinion.

The Democratic Party is not a rigid group, especially when compared to the republican party. The republican leadership tells its members what to think and how to behave. That does not happen in our party. Yet it would be foolish to pretend that there are not tensions within the party, as there always are during presidential primary season. There are times when the party deals with such tensions in a way that results in victories, and times when it fails to.

Different people – good people, Good Democrats – often interpret the causes and effects of these attempts to deal with tensions very differently. This can lead to intelligent, meaningful discussions between people who view events from, say, 1960 to the present in very different ways. That's a good thing. If we make an honest effort to really listen to others in a respectful way, human beings are capable of finding common ground.

It's useful to keep in mind that groups of people recognize three types of “leadership.” There are, of course, variations within and overlap between each group. The first, and oldest, is traditional leadership. This is closely associated with the tribal, “This is how our people have always done it” approach. While far more common before the industrial revolution, there are regions of the globe where it is still practiced.

The second type is “bureaucratic” leadership. This generally began taking root when populations increase. Thus, it first came into practice in China, when social stratification began. It came in force to America with the industrial revolution. Bureaucracy allows the largest number of people with the same problem, to get it resolved to an acceptable level. In modern America, we see how well bureaucracy can be in many areas, though not in the Department of Motor Vehicles if you bring in a unique or rare problem. It also led to the “Gilded Age.”

Within the republican party, the bureaucratic leadership reflects the stratified status of its membership. Good republicans who seek promotions know to wait their turn. The fact that Ivanka Trump has any role in the White House suggests that one need not earn a high rank, or have any talent to justify that position. This, obviously, is an example of stratification.

The Democratic Party's leadership structure is based upon bureaucratic leadership. It is also stratified (national, state, etc). It could not be otherwise, and remain functional

The third type of leadership is “charismatic.” This is rooted in a charismatic leader rising, often from the fringes outside of the bureaucratic structure. Others rise from within the bureaucratic structure, including – in the context of our party – JFK in 1960, RFK in '68, and Barack Obama in 2008. In each of these instances, the charismatic candidate was familiar with the bureaucratic structure. Their movements can create tensions within the Democratic Party.

In general, candidates within the bureaucratic structure run campaigns, while charismatic candidates lead movements. In a situation such as our presidential primaries, a contest that includes a movement competing within a bureaucratic campaign creates added tensions. The more successful a charismatic candidate is in the primaries, the greater the tensions. This has held true in numerous primary contests between 1960 and today,

These types of tensions have both positive and negative potentials. It depends upon how the party's establishment deals with those tensions that determines if the results are good or bad. For that determines how people at the grass roots level respond to what the party leaders have decided.

Among the numerous factors that must be taken into account is appealing to voters who are not members of our party. Doing this can determine the outcome of the 2020 elections. The number of independent voters appears to be growing. Some are definitely former republicans, some are to the left of the Democratic Party, some are young adults, and there are those who simply do not trust either party. Another potential group are those currently not registered, who do not see the connection between “politics” and their day-to-day lives, who could be registered by our party's volunteers

Good people can have different views on which group or groups that we need to appeal to, in order to cement victories in November. While it is very likely that the decision reached will determine the outcome of the presidential election, the truth is that there is not one “right” answer versus other “wrong” opinions. We can only speculate, and base our thoughts on how we interpret that which we consider evidence. That could actually lead to worthwhile discussions at every level of our party.

H2O Man

February 22, 2020

DU Exclusive: Interview with Dr. Bandy X. Lee !

Recently, I had a conversation with DU community member “Mike 03” about Yale Professor Bandy X. Lee's book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Originally published in 2017, this important book featured the contributions of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts. Last year, an updated and expanded version was published, which features contributions of 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts.

When my daughter Chloe gave me my copy of the book, she said that while she knew I did not want to have any books on Donald Trump in my library, she believed that this one was essential reading. From the moment I read the book's dedication – to Dr. Lee's Grandfather and Mother – I knew that I'd have difficulty putting the book down. And while I have since added a few other books that expose the madness of the Trump presidency to my library, I recognize “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to be by far the most important.

During my conversation with Mike 03, , I decided toask Dr. Lee if she might take part in an interview for this forum. For if you want something important done, ask a busy person. They are most likely to do important things. I would like to thank Dr. Lee ….for the book, her appearances in the media to discuss the topic, and for this interview. I hope that community members will thank her, and read and discuss her book.

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!

February 22, 2020


Two days ago, there was an OP/thread on DU:GDP that I found particularly important. It has to do with how the Russian military intelligence/ mafia can be expected to interfere with the 2020 elections. The discussion was started by a forum member who I have great respect for, and so I took a couple of minutes to add my two cents. Below is the OP/thread:


Because the general topic is one that has interested me for decades, and I've spent a good amount of time studying how outside forces attempt to infiltrate and disrupt various groups, I thought I'd expand on what I said on the previous thread. Those of my generation will certainly remember some of the examples I refer to – especially those who were active in the social-political movements of the 1960s and '70s.

It is important to be fully aware of how this will effect both the primary contests and the general election. The first thing, in my opinion, is to step back from the picture frame, to take an object look. Each one of our candidates is far, far superior to Donald Trump. More, no matter who is our eventual nominee, she/he will thoroughly defeat Trump in November, so long as we all vote for our ticket. Despite Russian and republican cheating, if we vote for the Democratic candidates at all levels, we will win the White House, keep the House, and very possibly take control of the Senate.

It's only if we fall for the divisive tricks of the Russians and republicans, that we risk defeat. Obviously, that is exactly why they invest so much energy in cheating. Foe even if they invested twice that effort in winning fairly, we would crush them in November. This is, for them, the best investment of resources.

While there will be similarities to 2016 in tactics, there will not need to be Russians meeting with Donald, Jr., at Trump Towers, or Roger Stone coordinating with Russians through shadowy cut-outs. There will not be one hundred-plus contacts between Trump's campaign and Russians. Rather, they know the model to best advance infiltrating and disrupting like a rat knows a maze it is familiar with.

Now, let's take a look at an example of this model. Please refer to pages 247 to 320 of your copy of “The Senate Watergate Report,” (Chapter 2: Campaign Tactics; Section 2: 1972 Campaign). This covers the CREEP operations commonly known as “rat-fucking,” the tactics of this maze. In this example, it is important to remember that this half of the operation is geared exclusively towards dividing the opposition, although the flip-side applies to uniting the base.

Before sending individuals to infiltrate and then disrupt the opposition, those in charge identify four factors: the opposition's biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds. Those four factors are necessary in order to effectively disrupt – “divide and conquer” – the target group. Proof of this is relatively found in every operation of this type, be it the historic examples of the CIA destabilizing foreign governments in the post-WW2 era, the FBI's programs against the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement in the 1960s – '70s, and in the political campaigns of republican presidential candidates, including Nixon and every republican candidate up until 2004, then again in 2016.

Those four factors are the “fault lines” that infiltrators seek to apply pressure upon to create the cracks of division. It goes beyond having a player in the media write bullshit about Senator Ed Muskie in the '72 primary. It was having plants in each of our candidate's campaigns, people who could not only copy important documents for CREEP, but also to pass on forged documents to turn one campaign against another. (In fairness, I admit I am not 100% objective about Muskie. He was my favorite politician in the 1970s, and I was honored to get to know him post-'72.)

Food for thought: how many groups are infiltrated? Watch Michael Moore's classic “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Focus on the scene with the “radical” cookies & milk anti-war group. This was simply to monitor the group, of course. Yet, I would imagine that many of us who have been involved in anti-war, environmental, and similar groups, have had experiences with infiltrators and agitators. In Native American work, for example, I learned to easily identify those who joined, sough positions, spread rumors, and advocated militant actions. I've had some adventures.

Next, it is essential to understand that while some parts of an operation are constant, the actual goal is unique to the situation at hand. In cases such as Malcolm X (killed 55 years ago yesterday), Fred Hampton, and Martin Luther King, they executed their goal in a manner distinct from disrupting the anti-war movement. In political campaigns, the goal is always divide and conquer. Yet, it would be an error to assume that the rat-fucking done in 1972 is exact to the Russian-republican operation of 2016 or 2020. The Senate Watergate Report quotes from Patrick Buchanan, who helped CREEP identify George McGovern as the most vulnerable candidate, for a variety of reasons, including polls.

Yet today, polls show that each of our potential candidate would defeat Trump. Thus, they have identified the biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds within the Democratic Party as the fault-lines that, under pressure, can divide our party. Again, the only way Trump might defeat the eventual candidate – no matter who it is – is to divide the Democratic Party. And the sad thing is that there is fertile ground within our party for them to sow the seeds of division. All one needs to do is read DU:GDP to easily identify those biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds.

It is possible to see how those same four factors are used to arouse and united the republican base, for their four most common shared features are their biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds. Obama was an atheist Muslim, born in Africa. Hillary Clinton wanted your shotgun. “Illegal immigrants” want not only your job, but to rape your wife and daughters. Democrats are socialist – all of them. Place a short fuse to a keg of ignorance, and republicans will support the lowest of low-lives, Donald Trump.

This, of course, brings us back to the less “hands-on” role that the Russian military intelligence/ mafia needs to play in 2020. They've trained thousands of rats to run the maze, to spread the disinformation and misinformation on the internet. And some of these same rats “join” a Democratic Party campaign to plant those seeds of division, to appeal to biases and prejudices, and to capitalize on the fears and hatreds of parts of our party. I will suggest that, for but one example, the nest of retired FBI agents – the same ones that fed Rudy G information to spread in 2016 – are busy doing this today.

Be aware! Be awake! And do not allow yourself to be drawn into foolish fights with other Democrats. Each one of our candidates represents a significant group of Democrats. We need every one of us to vote for the Democratic ticket in November. Let's keep our eyes on the prize.

H2O Man

February 20, 2020

Back to the Garden

It's a bright, sunny day in rural upstate New York. A bit cold out there, turning yesterday's snow melt into a sheet of ice on my sidewalk and driveway. I carry a bag out to the compost pile near my garden, happy to be beyond the ice. The birds that feast upon left-over cat and dog food call out warnings as my steps make crunching noises as I crush the crust on the snow. After dumping the organic waste on the large compost pile, I turn and look at the snow-covered garden. It glistens in the sun shine.

Today is February 19, I say to myself. The month is two-thirds over, and March is coming up. I'm looking forward to start work on the garden that my son constructed for me last year. Although it is much smaller than the gardens I have had over the decades, it still produces a fair amount of healthy food, and to grow some roses. I love growing roses.

There are large stacks of firewood at the eastern edge of the garden. Oak, locus, pine, maple, and others are stacked near the 7' by 7' fire pit my son built for me. There is a picnic table and benches nearby, which get good use when my children visit me. I also enjoy sitting alone at night, watching a fire, during the warmer months. Because there is no one within hearing distance, I begin to sing “Woodstock (Back to the Garden).”

Back inside, Sam's tail is wagging. A faithful dog, he actually seems to enjoy my attempts to sing. Greater love has no dog than this. Looking out a window, I see a flock of starlings has returned to the clonal colony of sumac, picking through the panicles for seeds. As I turn on the television, Sam pushes his enormous head onto my lap, insisting upon my undivided attention.

As I watch reports on Trump's pardons, I have the sensation of the couch beginning to move. I think that I've left America, and entered the 4th dimension of parasomnia, far beyond night terror. I see Bill Barr grinning as he begins eating the Constitution. Donald Trump has worked himself into a trance-like state as he calls upon the spirits of Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin to make themselves comfortable in the White House. A crowd of people chant, “We must nominate Mitt Romney! Only he can save us!” Then I hear Lawrence Welk singing Jimi's question: “Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?”

I turn off the television, and instinctively put on Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower. “There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief. There's too much confusion – I can't get no relief.” I feel myself being hurled through a long, dark tunnel, towards a bright light. Suddenly, I realize I am on my couch, staring out the window at the sun. “Toto, you're here!” I say, as I pet Sam's belly. My eyes search the room for friends and relatives, and then remember I'm here alone with my dogs.

Somewhat grounded into reality, I avoid the risks of watching television for the rest of the day. But at 9 pm/est, I turn on the Democratic debate. I find myself thinking that the panel asking questions are largely characters from my earlier waking-nightmare. Most of their questions have little to do with how we deal with the horrors that Trump has inflicted upon the nation, much less what another four years of his madness would bring into being. Instead, they are baiting our candidates, looking to create petty fights that risk dividing our party.

I take three phone calls during the debate. Each one involves a friend asking, “What the fuck is going on?” By no coincidence, this is the exact question that my son keeps asking as we watch the debate unfold. My response is admittedly sparse: rather than seeking to unite our party in identifying the candidate who is best prepared to defeat Trump in November, this “debate” risks dividing the supporters of the various candidates in a manner that threatens unity in the Democratic Party.

Is that a real risk, you may be asking? Good question. For an answer, read through much of the hostility being voiced on DU:GDP last night and this morning. Keep in mind that a divided Democratic Party is Trump's wettest dream. Read the Senate Committee on Watergate's report, specifically the large section on how Nixon's CREEP infiltrated the various Democratic primary campaigns, seeking to destroy the possibility of party unity before the national convention. Remember what the Russian's accomplished in 2016.

Turn away from that direction. Each and every single candidate we have is far superior to Trump. Each one could beat him in a general election, if we remain united in our purpose. This does not imply advocating for your favorite one. But it does mean not participating in attacking any of the others, or insulting other Democrats who prefer a different candidate. It means making a conscious effort not to repeat or spread the half-truths and outright lies that are being injected into the public debate by our opposition.

We've got to get back to the garden. Together.

H2O Man
February 18, 2020

Debate Survey

“If you can't say something nice, say something surrealistic.” – Zippy the Pinhead

Below are five general questions on debates in a presidential contest, including in both primaries and general election contests. I am interested in people's opinions. There are no “wrong” answers, only correct ones.

I will post my very favorite moment below.

How important do you think that debates are?

Do you watch all of the debates that are televised?

Are debates among primary candidates either more of less important than those of candidates in the general elections?

Is talent in “debating” an important skill for presidential (and vice presidential) candidates?

What was your favorite debate ?

Thank you,
H2O Man

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