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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
September 30, 2022

Trump vs Slender Man

“There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined.”
― Albert Camus

Among other things, crimes and trials help to define an era. I don't mean the petty crimes that society takes for granted. No, it's the type that one watches documentaries and reads books about. Most if not every meaningful work on the decade of the 1960s in the US, for example, will include the murders of JFK, MLK, RFK, and the Manson family. No study of the 1970s can ignore the crimes of Watergate, including a former Attorney General being incarcerated and a president resigning in disgrace.

Rubin used to say to me that it is near impossible for a person to have an objective view while standing within the picture frame. Yet, today, we can be sure that the crimes of Trump and his cult add definition to our society, so much so that the manner in which they are confronted will determine the nation's future. Among the questions being asked is how can so many people who previously appeared sane worship at the altar of Trump?

To understand this, in my opinion, requires some of the other crimes of the general era. This includes trends such as increases or decreases in violent crimes, but also the outliers, the crimes that appear -- to quote Jimi -- "beyond the will of God and the grace of the king." To do so here, for example, let's consider Waukesha, Wisconsin.

There is a criminal trial that will start there on Monday, which obviously is what got me thinking about this. It involves Darrell E. Brooks, who is charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 77 other charges, for driving through a holiday parade in November of last year. In pre-trial hearings, Brooks proved himself to be psychologists Rhonda Feinberg and James Greene called "the intractable client" in their 1997 study. They noted that "people with personality disorders usually ‘dig in’ and maintain their rigid attitudes and perceptions throughout the legal process." (page 355)

Brooks is determined to represent himself in the trial. His mother has told the judge and the media that he should not be allowed to, because he is mentally ill. In the pre-trial hearings, although Brooks is clearly an obnoxious fellow seeking to turn the trial into a circus, he has not shown symptoms of a major mental illness. It's not that he is incapable of assisting an attorney, it is that he wants to pursue a defense rooted in conspiracy.

There are no studies, for obvious reaons, that document the percentage of people who represent themselves -- other than in small claims court, where one cannot be represented by an attorney -- have Cluster B personality disorders. But as a group, these people are more likely to represent themselves, with the same extremely low chances for a positive outcome. In this case, Brooks intends to put on a "Sovereign Citizen" defense. Polite society may think of them as dinks who annoy cops who pull them over for driving without a license, insurance, etc. But let's take a closer look.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says the following:

"The roots of the movement are racist and antisemitic. It was founded by William Potter Gale, former member of the John Birch Society. Potter formed a group of antigovernment Christian Identity adherents who mistrusted state and federal officials. They believed that non-white people were not human, and that Jews possessed a satanic plot to take over the world. They identified themselves as Posse Comitatus, which is Latin for “power of the county” and centers on the idea that county sheriffs are the highest governmental authority. ....

"The activities of Potter’s Posse, many of them crimes, included refusal to pay taxes, filing property liens and committing violence against public officials. These actions, which were established by Gale’s group, have become customary in today’s sovereign citizens movement.

"The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. Sovereigns believe that the American government set up by the founding fathers, under a common-law legal system, was secretly replaced. ..... Some sovereigns believe this perfidious change occurred during the Civil War, while others blame the events of 1933, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard. Either way, they stake their lives and livelihoods on the idea that U.S. judges and lawyers, who they believe are foreign agents, know about this hidden government takeover but argue against it, denying the sovereigns’ motions and filings out of treasonous loyalty to hidden and malevolent government forces."

They start sounding like the older siblings of the Trump cult, eh? Perhaps a difference in degrees to your neighbor, co-worker, or relative that you no longer want to talk to. But close enough for me to reinforce the truth of one of Rubin's favorite Mark Twain quotes, "The problem today is not one of ignorance, but one of people knowing so much that just isn't true." How can any person believe these things, the very foundations of the gospel of the Trump cult? Might another Waukesha crime and trial provide some insight?

I'd think the May, 2014 brutal stabbing attack on a 12-year old girl just might hold some clues. She was viciously attacked by her two 12-year old friends. The two were making a sacrifice to Slender Man, a fictional character that caught the imaginations of children at the time. One of the girls in this case was clearly suffering from a major mental illness that involved a delusional disorder. She believed fully in Slender Man. The other assailant was found to suffer from a shared psychotic disorder, in this instance, about the need to make a sacrifice to Slender Man.

This is not to say that Donald Trump is Slender Man. Maybe his porky sibling. But his threat is real, because a number of people in this country share the delusions of "sovereign citizens" because their projected fears prevents their prefrontal cortex from functioning above the level of pre-teens.

September 27, 2022

"Follies of God"

“For nothing is fixed,
forever and forever and forever,
it is not fixed;
the earth is always shifting,
the light is always changing,
the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
Generations do not cease to be born,
and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other,and children cling to us.
The moment we cease to hold each other,
the moment we break faith with one another,
the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”
-from Nothing Personal by James Baldwin

Twenty years ago, my nephews told me about a writer who had punlished a book I needed to read. They said it was the best documentation of the lies that resulted in our country's going to war in Iraq. About a year later, they showed me an article by this journalist about the growing "Plame scandal." It was on that day that I joined the Democratic Underground.

There began a series of discussions that were known as the "Plame Threads." An ecletic group of forum members participated, adding to the group's understanding of the connections between the war, the scandal, and the lies coming out of the Bush-Cheney administration.

It was a great time, and a lot of friendships grew out of those discussions. I was fortunate to become friends with the author of that book, William Rivers Pitt. Both on and off of this forum, he and I discussed a heck of a lot of things. Our common respect for Muhammad Ali, music, journalism, and eventually families.

Will and I came from different worlds that exist within the United States. For example, he was of my nephews' generation, which had a related but distinct life experience than my generation. But we shared a lot of values, which allowed for great communication. And reading his contributions on DU, I began to suspect that one of his early ancestors had, like my own, been one of the ancient settlers in what would become Munster, just south of the River Shannon.

Having daughters can bring out the best in any man. It can take off the rough edges, so to speak, and civilize us in the manner that helps us reach our human potential. All family relationships are thus, of course. But I hope that having a daughter helps more men become better people, than those men who become worse.

I last communicated with Will in the middle of this month. Last week, I was going to tell him to be sure to watch an up-coming welterweight "super fight," between two undefeated champions. But his most recent post focused on some of the lyrics to the song "Landslide," by Fleetwood Mac. So I asked my daughter to send me a copy of her and a friend performing that song, to share with Will.

But that opportunity has passed. Instead, I find myself reading the memories of his friends, both here and elsewhere. Having family and friends die becomes all too common when one reaches my age, but it is particularly difficult when it is someone young, with a child or children to raise. Reading these memories of Will from his friends makes it a little less horrible.

September 25, 2022

Decompensation of Trump

Today, I think it might be good to talk about "decompensation." In the field of mental health, it usually applies to when an individual with a major mental illness begins to experience symptoms of their disease. There are numerous factors that might be involved, often more than one. The two that come to mind are stress and failure to take medications are prescribed. The earlier these things are dealt with, the better for the individual.

Another group of people who have difficulty navigation stress are those with features of the four personality disorders known as "Cluster B." These include antisocial personality disorder, norderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. People diagnosed with one of these disorders may have features of one or more of the others. And under severe stress, these features become more pronounced.

Now let's consider a small, yet significant group. I am speaking of sociopaths. Now, you might use one of the terms psychopath, or malignant narcissist. As noted in my first interview with Dr. Bandy Lee, these are the same thing. I note that Dr. Mary Trump refers to her uncle as a sociopath, so we'll stick with that.

Now, just like the others we have reviewed, sociopaths also can become symptomatic when under pressure. It is an individual thing, as every human deals with anxiety, pressure, and stress in their own way. But as noted by both Dr. Lee and Dr. Trump, sociopaths under great pressure not only show an increase in the features of Cluster B behaviors, but can experience brief psychotic episodes.

Next, imagine that the sociopath is the head of the family or group. There is no one who can say, "Hey, you don't seem to be doing well. ...." His family can't. Think about how Trump objectified his favorite child when she was young. No, a father who pressures his daughter to get nose and boob jobs does not view her as a distinct human being. Trump should have been incarcerated for child abuse.

Those in the group aroun him cannot exercise any wholesome control over him. They can't even influence him at this point. No attorney in a case like this -- if there's ever been one -- would want their client to go on Hannity at this time. Trump can't help himself. Same thing with rallies. I note that those around him say Trump doesn't have the same spark to ignate a 2024 campaign. But he has to get on stage. He has no control over satisfying this urge.

Those surrounding Trump have to pretend that he is the guy who loves a good legal fight. That he is calm, cool, rational, and at his best in these circumstances. But we are witnessing something very different. Q-anon theme song? This connects with the increased frequency of his saying there will be blood in the streets if he is indicted. Q-anon is the delivery system for violence this time. Not a sign of a very stable genius. The Clinton e-mails? Declassification telepathy?

It's one thing for the drunk with confederate flags and Trump yard signs to think all this makes perfect sense, and is proof of Trump's genius and strength. But think about his lawyers, the ones that refused to tell the Special Master about Trump's declassifying documents. They said they wanted to save that reasoning for the defense if Donald is indicted. Okay, how about now that the Special Master telling me to provide any and all evidence that the FBI "planted" evidence while executing the warrant.

In the past, a number of those surrounding Trump have fled. Some of the lawyers he has had have faced legal consequences. Many of those around him have been thrown under the bus. Do not be surprised if one or more of the lawyers associated with the mar-a-lago case quit in the next 7 to 10 days.
September 23, 2022

Closing Arguments

I'm going to throw a few names out, and see if you can identify an individual with connections to each. Let's start with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Add Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagain. How about John Gotti? Any ideas?

Carmine Galante. Tony Salerno. Artistatle Onassis. George Steinbrenner. Several people likely know the answer. But to make it easier, let's add Senator Joseph McCarthy, Roger Stone, and finally, Donald Trump. And yes, the answer is Roy Cohn.

I mention Roy simply to show that a lawyer does not need to be a good person to be capable and effective at defending wealthy criminals. Perhaps Cohn being such a creep is why he was so good at what he did for a living.

During the time before Trump became president, Trump had capable and effective lawyers that helped him to operate in the manner he did. Like him or not, Michael Cohen provided good services that allowed Trump to do bad things. And there were others besides Cohn and Cohen that served Trump in that fashion.

As president, Trump sought to surround himself with those he considered "loyal." This, of course, included his desire for a loyal Attorney General and FBI director. It didn't work out well for Jeff Sessions or James Comey. When he learned that Robert Mueller had been appointed to investigate the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump infamously asked, "Where's my Roy Cohn?" In stepped Bill Barr.

In Trump's two impeachment trials, capable and effective lawyers were brought in to represent him. While there was zero chance of the Senate convicting him, it was determined that Donald needed quality legal representation. However, because Trump did not think they were crooked enough to be trusted, he did not listen to them in regards to January 6 or his stealing classified documents.

Three more names are important here. Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and John Eastman. Rather that seeking capable and effective lawyers, Trump was looking for both loyalty and crookedness. This did not work out well for him, judging by the number of current legal cases and investigations now confronting him. Indeed, he must wonder when one of those three assclowns will turn on him.

Now, consider his current legal representation. It is known that top legal firms have politely passed on representing him. There is only one with experience at the higher levels. The others are, at very best, in way over their heads. There is no Roy Cohn. Even that turd Bill Barr has turned openly on Trump, though only for the wrong reasons.
who represents you in the closing arguments of your career.

It makes a big difference who gives the closing arguments of your career.

September 23, 2022

Uncommon Ground

" We define family in many different ways, not just by blood but by people with whom we share a common ground and a common bond." -- Adrienne C. Moore

Sometimes, after watching the news, I try to watch some "true crime" shows, court hearings, and police interrogations to relax. I'm still thinking about politics as I watch them. One that I enjoy is Stephanie Harlowe's "Coffee and Crime." She discusses social issues in a way that her generation does, questioning why common sense steps towards a healthy society are not being taken?

Now, on a recent show, she discussed a case where a rape kit sat unexamined for about a year. Then she told of regions in this country where there are hundreds of these kits that just aren't tested, because of being short staffed and lack of lab resources. And I thought what a great opportunity it is for our party and candidates to say we want to fix that.

Let's put that on the table when it comes to funding the police. Really, compare our priorities versus the republicans'. More labs and more employees means improving the police forces ability to solve crime faster. It means more good jobs for people interested in science. Who could possibly oppose that?

The Trump cult is opposed to science. Things like DNA and its implications do not set right with christian nationalists. By no coincidence, the same group that wants to have state and federal laws that control a woman's right to control her own body. The type that would think it adequate id Trump claims he declassified documents in a dream.

I'm amazed by the science of DNA. I'll note that none of the three tests that my children and I have taken involved waiting a year to be done. If they can do it, I would think we as a society of families, by blood and otherwise, should expect police to be at least as good.

And I like hearing Mrs. Harlowe talking about how, if this country is going to heal, it has to come through families. That means families, of blood and/or bond. And no matter what the structure. That's something I hear from many people of Harlowe and Moore's generation. They understand the connections between economics, politics, and the changing definitions and structures of families.

Older forum members like myself are encouraged when we hear a tounger generation examining these things. For we did, too. In 1968 Gary Snyder's "Earth House Hold" focused on the same ideas of family structure, the economix structure, and social justice. I'm glad to hear this new generation applying to today's society.

September 20, 2022

Bend the Arc

" Bend the Arc is bringing the power of our community to this year’s crucial Senate races. First up: two phonebanks for Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock with the New Georgia Project!

Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock is a man of faith and action who has made his life’s work a response to systemic racism, including leading the congregation at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta..

His opponent, Herschel Walker, is a former football player with no political experience. He’s been endorsed by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Josh Hawley — all of whom have attacked marginalized and working-class communities and the very foundations of our democracy to gain power.

The choice is clear. Help elect the leaders we need now by phonebanking for Sen. Warnock:

Phonebank: Thursday, September 22 at 5:15pm ET / 2:15pm PT."


There are three reasons for my posting this. First, I think it is important for every member of the Democratic Party to have a linkage with at least one grass roots group that works for social-political justice. Second, I find Bend the Arc to be an extremely important example of such a grass roots organization. And third, I know it is essential that Senator Warnock wins the November election.

Thank you for you attention.
H2O Man

September 16, 2022

Mind Games

I was listening to Lennon and the Plastic U.F.Ono Band this morning while doing the daily housework. Although I have zero musical talent other than selecting a good CD to listen to, I attempt to sing along when there is no one around. This gets the dog's attention, and she knows this is the perfect time to engage me in a bout of tug of war. With all stuffing from her favorite previously stuffed animal, I play along until she is tired out.

Today is the day that Judge Cannon will hand down her decision. I know that there is less of a chance of her honoring the law, than of my being confused for the fifth Beatle. That's a shame, but it is the harsh, cold reality of life in America today. A judge who has been roundly ridiculed in the way she has veen isn't going to budge. Indeed, this weakness in character is noth why Trump appointed her, and his defense team appealed to her.

Although I still maintain respect for our justice system, I am fully aware of its faults, from law enforcement up to the Supreme Court. I've worked on enough cases to know that injustice exists. In his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Dr. King wrote that "justice delayed is justice denied." I understand that. I do. And I appreciate that while "politics" shouldn't be a factor in the case of the stolen documents, it absolutely is.

Checking my e-mails, I found one from a person working on the Josh Riley campaign. He is someone I've spoken to on the phone a couple of times, and who has expressed interest in how I have organized local campaigns in the past. Being of simple mind, I thought the simplest way to communicate my ideas would be to send him the link to an internet "handbook for grass roots organizing" I had wrote a decade before a decade ago.

This was from when "fracking" was an issue, and I had organized a meeting of grass roots leaders from across the state. Such meetings always seem to include some confusion, and if not properly run, can involve nonsense of various types. I prefer keeping things simple and structured. Anyhow, my assistant put my "handbook" on a free internet site. But when I found it yesterday now demands money.

So I wrote back to the fellow who had e-mailed me, and focused on how a proper structure identifies what particular talents and abilities each volunteer has to offer, and coordinates them from the grass roots up. It's not original, of course, but rather, the result of combining what I learned in political science classes in college, and from my own study of campaigns over the decades.

Later in the day, I watched reports on Judge Cannon's ruling. As anticipated, it is dreadful. It is actually worse in ways from her original ruling, in that she came right out and said she is giving Trump special treatment, because of his status as ex-president. That alone should be added to the motion for a partial stay that the DOJ has certainly been preparing to file. That should be granted shortly after the motion has been filed.

In the evening, I had a phone call from a staff member working on Governor Kathy Hockul's and another House candidate's campaigns, to discuss grass roots organizing strategy. He noted that while we don't know one another, we have a connection -- at his last job, he worked with Lewis Steel, the lawyer for Rubin Carter's co-defendant John Artis. And we had a good discussion on how important it is to win elections in November.
September 13, 2022

The Fight

“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.”
― Eugene Victor Debs

I listen closely every time I hear Rep. Jamie Raskin speak. There are a number of Democrats in the House of Representatives who I really like, but none that I respect more than Raskin. I admire his intellect and especially his ability to communicate with the public.

Raskin pointed out that fascist, authoritarian movements are not defeated by liberals alone. I immediately began thinking about that, in the context of the very real threats to our country that the Trump cult poses. I was reminded of my own experience in 2010.

The supervisor of my hometown had made the news for his attacks on a tiny Sufi settlement in the township. The Sufi's lived on parts of what had been John & Yoko's Dream Street farms. The supervisor and two board members -- one his stepson, the other a business partner -- were best described as "mutant tea-partiers," as they had been kicked out of the region's chapter for being too extreme. When Keith Olbermann named the supervisor as "the worst person on earth," the conflict reached the international media.

I'll post a link to one news story below, then quote one sentence from it that you might notice has a familiar ring to it:

" 'I could kill Mother Teresa and this dog would still love me,' he says, before driving away." -- Sidney Town Supervisor Bob McCarthy

The leaders of the town and county Democrat Party contacted me, and requested that I help them combat the local fascists. Although I resided in a different county, I was happy to help. My focus was on uniting good people to oppose the supervisor and two board members. That was accomplished by electing a Democratic majority on the town board, for the first time in its history.

I knew that couldn't happen by appealing to just registered Democrats. For the majority of voters in the town are republicans, followed by independents. Democrats were a distant third in numbers. No, it required uniting people from both the left and right of the Democratic Party against the mutants. It took a heck of a lot of work, mind you, but we did it.

As Rep. Rasking noted, he looks forward to the day when he can again debate republicans on a variety of issues that they disagree on. But, at this time, he has to focus on getting more to oppose the fascist threat. I can relate to that. I was okay with some of the republicans from my hometown, but they aren't people I ever have socialized with. I'm likewise no fan of Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger. But I respect their service on the J6 Committee. It is mighty important in confronting the maga monster.

I have always been comfortable with "the left." I recognize that some have issues that are expressed in ways I disagree with. "But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't going to make with anyone, anyhow," as John sang. I dislike the media at times reinforcing the maga's stance that they represent the Democratic Party. This is particularly annoying, since there are many rational spokesperson for the left, who are never interviewed by the mainstream media.

Rep. Raskin's message is essential, in my opinion, for us not only to win elections in November. It is equally important in slaying the threat from the authoritarian, fascist right-wing threat to our country. Others may disagree, of course. But I think that Raskin is correct.

September 10, 2022

Bad Boy Steve

Steve Bannon, you've been a bad, bad boy, and now you've got to pay your dues. You are facing trial in state court for a crime that you accepted a pardon for -- admitting guilt, according to the US Supreme Court -- when charged in federal court. Bad, bad, bad. Now you are facing time in a shithole of a state prison.

Thoughts & prayers,
H2O Man
September 7, 2022

On Locus & Lotus

Today, I'd like to speak about the concept of "locus of control." I think it is kind of important, in the context of OPs/threads that I've read over the past 24 + hours, since Judge Cannon released her foul ruling. I anticipate that some (maybe many) will disagree with me, which is fine. However, if you do, please consider replying, so that there may be a meaningful conversation.

"Locus of control" is a concept that applies to individuals and groups. Thus, it spans the fields of psychology and sociology. It can be internal, external, or anywhere in between. A person with an internal locus of control thinks they are able to exert a positive control over many -- but definitely not all -- of the circumstances in their lives.

To illustrate with an example, the great heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali had an internal locus of control. This went beyond thinking he could defeat any and all opponents he faced in the ring. When Uncle Sam drafted him, Ali knew he could not control what the government did. But he could, and did, have complete control on how he responded. He was prepared to stay true to his beliefs while acting on them, come what may.

An external locus of control is found in those who identify as victims of circumstance. They tend to be those who were lied to since they were itty-bitty children. They were not raised to be condident of reaching their potential. They did not get adequate encouragement from parents or teachers in school. They identify as being powerless, helpless, and hopeless.

Most of us fall somewhere in between. We are good at some things, not so good at others. Lots of things we can influence, if not control, including having an idiot for a supervisor at work. Other things, such as the price of groceries, that we might have some control, if only in what we buy.

Groups can influence circumstances, too. Good examples are found in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Now, that didn't give us control over who Trump placed on the federal courts. But it did provide us with the ability to take advantage of having Democrats control what the other two branches of the federal government might do to respond to the current federal judiciary.

Now let's consider a common reaction to "bad news" in individuals and groups. I have the ability to go immediately to "worst case scenario" when confronted with routine medical tests at the doctor's office. I torture myself with thoughts of the pain and suffering that the worst case scenario surely means. Days later, when her office calls to say everything came back good, I always ask, "What aren't you telling me? Is it too horrible for words?" They try to reassure me, despite my request for an prescription for strong placebos.

Some things are too horrible for words. Trump's election in November od 2016 was the very definition of "worst case scenario." Everything he did made it worse than that. That includes the horrible people he placed in the federal courts. It includes the hordes of people who believed him when he said, "I alone can fix it." They have as external locus of control that they believe someone else will "save" them.

I'll take that further. We know his hordes are dangerous. But even that is evidence of an external locus of control. They don't dare go out into public without a gun. Yes, it is a phallic symbol. But it is also Dumbo's feather. People who are confident they can handle themselves don't need Dumbo's feather.

Now, there is anything you or I can do about the loose Cannon on the federal bench. But there are things we can do. If you believe that President Biden is correct about this being a battle for the nation's soul, then work on electing Democrats. If you are mad as hell about Cannon trying to protect Trump, then work like hell to elect Democrats. Do not doubt your ability to make a valuable contribution.

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