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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 65,442

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Nixon: Past & President

I just had my oldest son order me two books on Nixon and Watergate. The first one is “The Nixon Tapes: 1973,” by Douglas Brinkley. It’s the second of his series of White House transcripts (last year’s 759-page book covered the years 1971-72). The second is Geoff Sheppard’s “The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot that Brought Nixon Down.” Sheppard is a former Nixon staffer and attorney who presents a well-documented case that there was misconduct involving the judge of the Watergate defendant’s trial, and prosecutors involved in the cases.

As winter approaches, I always try to stock up on good reading material. Among my interests are the consecutive presidencies of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Like many of my generation, I liked JFK, and still wonder how different the world might be had he lived to serve two terms (and, of course, wonder the same about RFK); find LBJ a contradiction -- half-good, per the Great Society, and half-terrible, per Vietnam; and find Nixon wholly repulsive, a man who threatened the very foundations of our constitutional democracy.

Yet, for a variety of reasons, I find both LBJ and Nixon to be fascinating characters. They were, perhaps not coincidentally, the only two modern presidents who suffered complete breakdowns while in office. In that time period, common folk politely referred to such things as “nervous breakdowns,” yet as has been well-documented, both men had on-going episodes of psychosis while in the White House.

A common myth about Nixon and Watergate is that two inspired journalists uncovered the truth about the series of illegal activities known collectively as “Watergate,” and then Democrats in DC brought down the administration. And that sounds almost as noble as George Washington admitting that he chopped down a cherry tree. But, off course, it is far from an accurate history of what happened.

The Sheppard book has been cited by pale conservative Patrick Buchanan as evidence that “the left” was wrong -- terribly wrong -- about Richard Nixon. Baloney. The value of the book -- and I have yet to actually read it -- is that it destroys the lie that it was Democrats and “leftists” that knee-capped the Nixon administration. How thoroughly the author covers issues such as who characters like Bob Woodward and Mark Felt really were, as well as the “politics” of many of the major players in uncovering the scandals, remains to be seen. But I am really looking forward to reading the book.

I suspect that the average American citizen today would find the idea of reading 800+ pages of Nixon White House transcripts painfully boring. But I love it. I’d rather be reading that, than watching the latest update on Donald Trump’s nonsense on MSNBC or CNN. Of course, I am interested in the 2016 presidential election, and try to remain informed on the important issues. But, as a citizen of both the United States and world, I feel a responsibility to be as educated as possible about the combination of corruption in government, the influence of intelligence and police agencies on politics, and the ways that the corporate media distorts reality when reporting the news to the public.

The Republican Debate

(A) Junior Varsity

Rick Sanitarium
Opie Taylor’s cousin
Christian zealot
Rejected by his community

Bobby Jindel
Scarecrow puppet
Of Barney Fife

George Pataki
Greased rubber face
Utter contempt for
Little Ricky

Lindsey Graham
Scowling lollipop
National insecurity expert
Licking Nixon’s liver

(AA) Varsity

Jeb Bush
Maytag head
Dispensing plastic lies
The lonely repairman
Of the broken party

Chris Christie
Sopranos wanna-be
Flower of the toxic gutter
Tony Galento reincarnate
Hoping to deck the champ

Carly Fiorina
Eating toe dough bread
Her own enemies list
Dripping from her lips

John Kasich
Attempting to separate
From the pack
By sounding rational

Ben Carson
Trying to join the pack
Way out of place

Ted Cruz
Illegitimate spawn of
Senator Joseph McCarthy
Wrenched neck from
Licking Trump’s behind

Rand Paul
Steel wool poodle
muted on the sideline
Barking at shadows

Mike Huckabee
In Santa suit
Self-righteous sun head room

Scott Walker
Empty suit
Empty mind
Empty campaign

Marco Rubio
Pre-fight jitters
Sweat rag forehead
Water gulping guppy

Donald Trump
Scrawny tawny lion
Playing with the cubs
For the circus

Rick Perry
His best performance to date

Mayweather vs Berto

September 12, 2015
Las Vegas

Floyd Mayweather vs. Andre Berto, 12 rounds; Showtime PPV.

Tonight, Floyd Mayweather will defend his welterweight title against Andre Berto. Floyd, who is 48-0, is correctly a heavy favorite to defeat Berto, 30-3. However, I think it is likely to be one of the most interesting bouts in Floyd’s long reign as the pound-for-pound best fighter of his era. Let’s take a look at both boxers, and then I will answer some of the most common questions that boxing fans ask about this fight.

Floyd is 38 years old. He made his pro debut at the age of 19. Coming from a family of boxers, he had begun his amateur career at the age of 7. He was a national amateur champion in his teens. Thirty-one years is a long time to compete in the sport of boxing.

Berto is 31 years old. After an amateur career of over 200 fights -- in which he, too, was a US national champion, and represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics, he turned pro at the age of 21.

Floyd, at 5’ 8”, is an inch-and-a-half taller than Andre. Mayweather’s 72” reach is 3.5 inches longer than Berto’s. Both are physically very strong individuals. Both have good footwork, and impressive hand-speed. Berto appears slightly top-heavy, but displays adequate upper-body movement. Still, Andre is not hard to hit, and has taken far more punches than Mayweather. Floyd has uncanny abilities to avoid punches, and land solid counter-punches.

When it comes to “punching power,” it is safe to say that either man is fully capable of hurting the other with a single punch. Yet neither is a “one-punch knockout artist.” Both men’s power is found in combination-punching, in which each punch thrown becomes progressively harder. This creates the opportunity to land the punch the opponent doesn’t see coming, which is always the one that does the most damage.

Berto typically looks to overwhelm and stop his opponents; Floyd prefers to outbox his foes, and win lop-sided decisions. There are some indications Floyd is looking to score a knockout here, which brings up each man’s ability to take a punch. Berto has three loses, including one by TKO. However, he was stopped in round 12 of a bout in which he tore his shoulder in an early round.

Berto has been decked several times in his career, including twice in his loss to Victor Ortiz; he decked Ortiz twice in that fight, as well. Two things stand out: first, he has always been floored as he is coming in throwing punches; and second, he’s always gotten up and fought back. Floyd has one official knockdown on his record, when in an early pro fight, his glove hit the canvas. The closest thing in recent years was when Shane Mosley hurt him twice early in their fight, and Floyd was “wobbled,” but clinched, and then came back strong.
Now, let’s consider a few questions people have about this fight. The first one is: has Floyd picked a weak opponent, or can Berto actually make a fight of it? The truth is that Berto has earned his shot at Mayweather, and will almost certainly make a far more competitive fight than Manny Pacquiao did in May. Berto has been among the top fighters his weight in recent years. He’s actually held titles. And of particular importance, he’s never ducked anyone.

Some “experts” claim Floyd should be fighting Amir Khan. Yet Khan has been knocked out several times. He has a history of ducking tough opposition -- in fact, he’s not even the top in his division in England. He refuses to fight Kell Brook, of England, who holds one of the titles. Khan simply wants to capitalize on the huge payday he would get from being in the ring with Mayweather. Most people familiar with Amir recognize that he lacks the mental toughness to fight Floyd. He’d freeze during the referee’s instructions.

Unlike Pacquiao, who was satisfied to avoid being counted out, or Khan, who can’t function under pressure, Berto is going to fight his heart out. It will be among the most “fan-friendly,” entertaining of Mayweather’s career.

Next, people ask if Floyd shouldn’t be fighting Golovkin or Thurman? Floyd is looking to seal his record as the greatest fighter of this era. Those two young warriors are of the next generation They both have the potential to become great champions. Although a loss to Floyd now would not derail that potential, both are simply too young at this point. Floyd would easily outpoint them in what those who do not favor his hit-and-don’t-get-hit style would then complain was boring and meaningless. In a year, GGG would be ready to fight Floyd; Thurman needs two more years. There is no benefit to rushing them.

People ask if it is important to Floyd to “beat” Marciano’s record of 49-0? Floyd, like those who are actual students of boxing, know Rocky’s retiring undefeated is a myth. As I have documented here, and elsewhere, Rocky lost five of his first ten professional fights. I’ve documented the dates, opponents, and how much he was paid each time. And I have photos of one of those fights. His manager “removed” these from his record as he rose in the ranks. (More, the judges scored one of his bouts a draw; the commissioner changed it to a decision favoring Rocky.)

Rocky’s record is, like Columbus Day, a myth that appeals to a specific audience. Many were offended when I showed the truth. The truth is that Marciano was exactly as great a champion as he was, no matter what his record as a novice in the pro ranks was.

Will Floyd fight again? I think he is sincere about retiring. He feels the damage the sport has done. Plus, he sees Uncle Roger, who is suffering the damage from the punches he took in his career. Floyd wants to retire with his brain undamaged -- well aware that great fighters like Ali and the real Sugar Ray took lots of punches by fighting too long.

Might he return in a year? Yes, of course. That is distinct from how he feels about it now. It may be very difficult for Floyd to not be the center of attention, as he currently is. If he were to return to the ring, I think it would be to beat Pacquiao again, for $300 million.

Who will win tonight? Obviously, Floyd is the favorite. I think that the fight will resemble his fight with Ricky Hatton.

Where will he rank in boxing history? As the very best of his era. As the fighter with the most wins against current or former champions. As a guy who established himself as a unique talent, when he separated himself from other elite champions on 1-20-01, when he dropped Diego Corrales five times, knocking him out in the tenth round. As perhaps the greatest defensive fighter in the sport’s history

Because of the combination of his defensive style and his offensive personality, the boxing community will not evaluate him objectively for many years after he retires. Even then, people will enjoy debating who would have beaten who, in fantasy fights pitting the greats from different eras. But one thing is already certain: Floyd Mayweather would have been tough for any of the great welterweights in boxing history.

Enjoy the fight!

Serve Yourself

“It's still the same old story.
A Holy, bloody, War, you know, with the Pope and all that stuff.
A fight for love and glory.
Ain't gonna study no more war.
A fight for God and country, and the Queen, and all that.
We're gonna set you free;
Bomb you back into the fuckin' Stone Age
If you won't be like me, you know, get down on your knees and pray.
Well there's somethin' missing in this God Almighty stew…”
-- John Lennon; Serve Yourself

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the relationship between politics and religion. This combination adds up to a large segment of any culture’s level of being, and helps define the level of social justice found within. The opinions are, of course, my own, and for sake of discussion, I welcome comments from those who disagree or agree, alike.

The reason that I am writing this is because of curious case of Kim Davis, which is currently in the news. I would prefer the media focus more upon the victims of Ms. Davis’s crude behavior, or even legal scholars who can inform the public on the power of Constitutional Law, or historians capable of pairing her with the southern racists who defied the law in efforts to deny black citizens their rights. However, I recognize the coverage of the case, as it is, as being more important than the coverage of the republican primary. And I was mighty pleased when the judge opted to incarcerate Ms. Davis.

Discussions about the role of religion, spirituality, and ethics can be difficult in the context of American society. Older forum members like myself will recall the fuss in the US when John Lennon made an insightful comment on the current cultural values per “Beatle-mania,” and accurately described Jesus’s followers as “thick and ordinary.” That is an apt description of Ms. Davis’s insensitive and cruel belief system, if one thinks she is sincere.

Let’s consider what is too often overlooked when the religious tradition known as Christianity mixes with our society. There are as many sub-types of Christianity as there are leaves on a tree, but for this discussion, we’ll focus on but two. The first, and perhaps better known, view the historical figure of Jesus as separate from humanity, and believe he set down a strict set of rules that “believers” must follow, in order to obtain a reward in the afterlife. This Jesus is the Son of the one true God, a god who always resembles the projections of a patriarchal society -- often angry, mean, and ready to punish wrong-doers.

The second type view the historical Jesus as fully human, and as bringing a collection of guidelines that assist in one’s spiritual/ ethical development, in order to obtain a higher level of consciousness here and now. This is the same general set of guidelines that, as Erich Fromm pointed out, other enlightened historical figures, in diverse places, at different times, taught.

Ms. Davis obviously belongs to the first group, which is her right as defined by Amendment 1 of the Constitution. Yet, even within this rather rigid set of rules, she violates Jesus’s “command” to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. As a government worker, she is bound to follow the rules. Indeed, she swore an oath to do just that.

As most rational people can see, she always had the option of resigning, if she was sorely offended by her job duties. Instead, she is seeking to gain an “earthly reward” of financial gain, by playing a role designed by the money-changers of the religious right. And she is willing to trample the human rights of citizens who are equally entitled to the protections of the law -- and more, are surely more ethical, spiritual, and/or religious as her.

I am not all about punishment. That’s not why I favor her being incarcerated. I do believe in consequences. Recently, my dog Samuel ate off of my plate, when I had my back turned briefly. I am convinced that Sam is both kinder and more insightful a being than Ms. Davis. Hence, I scolded him. I didn’t enjoy doing so, but there needs to be consequences. For the only legitimate purpose of discipline is to instill self-discipline. Thus, for the 45 seconds following Sam’s “sin,” he likely saw me as something akin to the god of the Old Testicle.

It would be wonderful if Ms. Davis -- against her will -- had a moment of enlightenment while incarcerated. I hope she has a transformational experience, where she can actual grasp how hideous and truly obscene her behaviors have been. But I won’t hold my breath, for in breathing, we participate in the miracle of life that is one with the universe.

H2O Man

BOXING (August 29)

August 29, on ESPN

Los Angeles: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares; 12 rounds; featherweights.

The PBC-promoted fights that have brought boxing back to “basic” television in 2015 have often proven more attractive “on paper” than in the ring. Despite the higher ranking of the boxers featured on the PBC cards -- often including former champions, and always featuring guys who could be challenging for a title in their next bout -- the majority of the main events have not risen to the level of “great” fights.

This is, of course, because styles make fights. Hence, while boxing purists (such as myself) love a duel between two good counter-punchers -- think of Ray Leonard vs. Wilfred Benitez -- such bouts never bring the average sports fan to the edge of their seats ….much less, to their feet (especially if they can change channels with a remote).

Indeed, a number of the ESPN Friday Night Fights had under cards with fighters ranked in the top 20, that provided far more excitement than last May’s Super Fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. While as a purist, I will never tire of watching that fight, in which Mayweather dominated Pac Man so overwhelmingly that it could be mistaken for “easy,” I also love a good brawl.

Saturday night’s bout, between two high-ranking Mexican-American warriors, promises to be exciting. No matter if it ends in the first round, or goes all twelve rounds, both of these former champions bring fan-friendly styles to the ring. And, as is common in the sport, the “little” men tend to throw a lot more punches per round, than the heavyweights. In fact, Leo Santa Cruz is noted as the highest-volume puncher in the sport today (Teddy Atlas was only slightly exaggerating earlier in the week, when he said Leo averages 2,000 punches per fight. He frequently throws more than 100 per round.)

Let’s take a quick look at each man, then discuss the fight! Leo, 27 years old, stands 5’ 7.5”, and has a 69” reach; Abner, 29, is 5’ 4.5” tall, with a 66” reach. Leo’s record is 30-0-1; Abner’s is 29-1-1. Both have held titles in lower weight classes; this bout is for the vacant WBA junior lightweight title.

Mares has more experience against high-quality opposition, although Santa Cruz has fought anyone and every one willing to fight him. Mares has superior ring skills, while Santa Cruz tends to have “one gear” -- coming straight forward, throwing almost non-stop combinations. Both men have punching power, although neither are consider to be explosive punchers. Santa Cruz in particular wears down and then overwhelms his opponents.

Mares has earned his reputation as one of the dirtiest fighters of recent eras. In particular, he mixes numerous low blowsin with his body attack. He definitely does so purposefully -- usually going low with whatever hand is further away from the referee. He uses his head and elbows efficiently, too, while fighting on the inside. Thus, two things will likely be important: first, if the referee enforces the rules; and second, how Leo responds if the ref fails to control the fight.

The other question has to do with Mares’ chin. For most of his career, he displayed an ability to take a solid punch. However, in August of 2013, he was knocked out in the first round by veteran Jhonny Gonzales. In that fight, Mares was decked twice, and was knocked unconscious by punches landed before the surprised referee was able to respond. Although Mares has won three fights since that stunning loss, they were against limited opposition.

Hence, Saturday will be the first real test Abner has had since suffering a serious concussion. As a rule, even great fighters have damage after being injured in that extreme a manner. Although Santa Cruz isn’t known for “one punch” kayo power, the accumulative hard punches he throws pose a serious risk to Mares’ well-being -- and that’s not limited to this bout.

The boxing community has made Mares a slight favorite. I have no problem with that. However, because Santa Cruz is undefeated -- and doesn’t know how to lose -- I see the bout as 50-50. I think that’s it’s just as likely that Leo comes out the winner, as Abner.

Either way, it promises to be an intense, and entertaining, fight between two very talented warriors. Enjoy the fight!

Work-place Violence

This morning, while watching the televised reports on the tragic case of brutal “workplace violence,” I initially flipped through MSNBC, CNN, and Fox. I’m not sure why I bothered with Fox -- I guess to fill the 60 to 90 seconds the other two were on commercial breaks. It took less than that to recognize the error.

Almost immediately, a talking head was saying that he hoped “others” wouldn’t attempt to twist the incident into a “gun issue.” Then he delivered the dickhead: he hadn’t heard any evidence that the murderer was the type of person who should not have had a gun.

My objective here is not to attack “guns,” nor argue the wisdom of Amendment 2. Rather, it is to focus on how explosive violence damages society. However, in this case, considering only the circumstances that were known at the time -- a man approached two television employees engaged in an interview with a third human being, kills two and seriously wounds the third -- I think that most intelligent people could agree that the guy should not have had a gun.

Both MSNBC and CNN have had better coverage, although there is an unfortunate amount of attention being given to the gunman’s “mental health.” CNN also interviewed Pat Brown, who seems to diagnose everyone as a sociopath -- though in this case, her opinion appears to be more accurate than those who are speculating a major mental illness. However, it is obvious beyond any question that in this case, the murderer was “sane” in the legal sense of knowing “right” from “wrong.”

Almost anything else regarding the murderer’s frame of mind -- now that he is dead -- comes from a combination of his past history, including everything from school and employment history, to the memories of those who knew him. From the bits and pieces being reported, there appears to be evidence that this fellow would have been unlikely to benefit from therapy as an adult. “Unlikely” does not mean it would have been impossible.

I am, of course, speculating, and am fully aware of that. But all speculation is not by definition equally of no value. Let’s consider, for example, the “Five Factor Model,” that tends to provide a fair degree of insight as far as an individual’s ability to benefit from therapy. The “five factors” include extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. While it sounds rather simple, it actually serves as a pretty fair model for evaluating the full range of human personality in our culture.

The higher a person ranks as “positive” on these qualities, the more likely they are to benefit from therapy. The lower one ranks, the less likely they are to benefit. From the gunman’s actions today, it is fair to say he was bitter, self-pitying, and had an unhealthy sense of self-entitlement. Few if any would argue that he had a mature sense of problem-solving /conflict resolution -- although the ammosexuals of the NRA might argue he had a “right” to a gun.

What would be of interest, in my opinion, would be his early history. Was he raised in an environment where, when an adult became frustrated, that violence was an acceptable manner for dealing with problems? Or did his attitude and behaviors stand out as a problem, different from those around him? I think that the potential for a successful intervention could have been there in his childhood and teens. Still, it appears that he developed the ability to navigate society without episodes of physical violence that were known -- outside, of course, the possibility of domestic violence that went unreported.

When a person commit’s an extremely violent crime for the first time in their early 40s, it tends to indicate something distinct from those with a long history of violent, anti-social behaviors. As a few of the forensic experts on MSNBC and CNN have noted, it appears that a highly narcissistic person, who has recognized that the outer world does not share the extremely high opinion of them that they have of themselves, has stewed for about a year …..blaming others that they have not reached the level of success that they are convinced they deserve.

Certainly, some job settings include high levels of stress. Many jobs are competitive. More, all of us are subjected, from time to time, to insults from others. And life ain’t always fair. Still, most of us learn the skills needed to deal with life’s frustrations, including being treated unfairly at work some times. But there are a minority of people who, under the wrong conditions, will resort to some type of violence in the work-place, in order to “get revenge.”

Today’s events were vicious, as they show the most extreme type of work-place violence. Add to this the manner in which the murderer used his understanding of the media -- including social media -- makes it particularly hideous. It is extremely unsettling for those who have concerns about someone who may seem extremely hostile at work, as well as for those who have had family or friends murdered by angry people. (Since I’ve had more than a share of each of these, I’ve turned the tv off. Writing this is my way of venting.)

H2O Man

Robots versus Values

Impure: contaminated; unclean; mixed with inferior substances.
-- The H2O Man Purists’ Dictionary; page #9.

Shortcuts to rational thought often include stumbling blocks. For example, even on what is supposed to be a liberal-progressive internet forum such as the Democratic Underground, from time to time people will be referred to as “purists” -- as if that is by definition a bad thing. One wonders: is it really difficult to chose between a clean glass of water (“pure”), and a glass of water contaminated by toxic industrial waste?

Without question, not every social-political choice we make is that clear cut. There are times when voting for “the lesser of two evils” is valid. Yet, if that defines our thinking and thus actions at all times, than our minds are locked up behind bars, just as surely as if we were physically incarcerated in the local county jail.

In order to have some degree of self-respect -- something necessary in order to be respected by others -- one must have those beliefs that we call principles, ethics, and/or morals. In an unhealthy society, such as our’s, those without principles, ethics, and/or morals tend to rise up in business, including the business of politics. In order for them to succeed, at some level, there must be a group at a lower-level who willingly suspend their principles, ethics, and/or morals.

Indeed, it has become common for those employed in business to be confronted with the command to “rise above their principles.” As if that’s the true nature of it. For only that person with damaged principles can actually rise above them, hence becoming a more principled person! That command in the context of the business world is simply an excuse for dipping well below your principles. It’s an invitation to apply to the 1%-ers club.

Being true to your values does not prevent a conscious person from being pragmatic. That is true in the business world. This clearly includes politics. It is that way, from the local school board level, to the White House. To be unwilling to take a pragmatic approach on a wide variety of issues would be as mentally handcuffed as if you always allowed others to do your thinking for you to such an extent that you accepted their definitions of every choice you pretend to make. Don’t volunteer to become a robot. “It’s beneath human dignity,” as Gandhi taught us, “to be a mere cog in the machine.”

The problems that we face today are as stark as that glass of pure water versus the glass of sludge. The only potentials for solutions demand that we, as individuals, as citizens, hold on tightly to our values, our principles, ethics, and/or morals. To be pragmatic, when necessary. Yet to fully recognize the need to be creative. And to think outside the box …..because the mental box that currently houses the majority of the population’s mind is contaminated by those same toxins that poison much of the nation’s water supply.

Let’s consider an example. President Obama was pragmatic to his approach in dealing with Iran. As citizens, our values should result in our supporting him on this deal. The only people who don’t support the treaty with Iran are those who: (a) seek some benefit from a war with Iran, or (b) are robots. This is no time to throw out your principles, ethics, and/or morals.

It’s also no time to trust anyone who went along with Bush and Cheney on Iraq. This doesn’t preclude us from every supporting such an individual in the future. But they have to own that one: not resort to the “bad intelligence” bullshit, but admit that Bush and Cheney purposefully lied this country into war. And, at the time, they “rose above their principles,” and voted for the murder of thousands.

When we think of the great leaders -- at all levels -- they are the men and women who were pragmatic, in order to advance their values. This doesn’t include compromising your principles, ethics, and/or morals. They were purists in the same sense that those who violate their values for some type of advantage are impure, contaminated, unclean, and mixed with inferior substance.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight!
H2O Man


“Comedians have often suggested that Ronald Reagan’s immense popularity might have been helped by television-induced confusion. But I would like to make the case that this was concretely true, and that it’s not so funny. …Because of his background, Reagan handled television as president with astonishing skill and power. He understood, as no one did before, that on television, style supersedes content. The way you behave and look is more important than what you say and do. He knew that complexity and historical perspective do not come across on TV as well as simplicity, bald assertion, the heavy use of symbolic content, and the appeal to formulaic values, deeply imbedded in Americans by previous decades of television and film. Good vs. Evil, America vs. The Enemy…..”
-- Jerry Mander; In the Absence of the Sacred; Sierra Club Books; 1991; pages 90-91..

Does this sound strangely familiar? Perhaps remind you of a current republican candidate, who is doing unexpectedly well in the presidential primary contest? Someone who lacks substance, but is confusing the “experts” by his ability to surf the waves of hatred, fear, and frustration of their party, right to the top of the dung heap? To prove to be more than the “flavor of the week” fad candidate of the early 2012 republican contest?

Republicans today are as oblivious to who Ronald Reagan was, as they were in 1980 and ‘84, when they believed that he was red, white, and blue, apple pie, and the bible incarnate. The man who used symbols to his advantage has become the very symbol of all he never was. This is sadly proven by something as obvious as the republican inability to process the facts of the Iran-Contra scandals, while attacking President Obama for “arming” Iran -- the absolute opposite of reality. As the old saying goes, you can’t make this shit up.

In order to dull the public’s senses to the point of making them accept the unacceptable, to look forward to an evening of mistaking having their being be yanked out of them as “entertainment,” they must be doused with a pain-killer …..a social Novocain to dull their senses, especially common sense. To accept the non-reality of Reality TV. Donald Trump’s status as the leading republican contender is solid evidence that this is the case for a significant segment of the republican party.

“Did you know we are ruled by TV,” Jim Morrison asked in his American Prayer? The drunken artist had experimented with collective behavior, before finding that crowds rarely could be controlled once they reached a certain point. Rather, the unconscious crowd becomes the monster that C. G. Jung warned of, vulnerable to supporting an image of a “leader” that exists only in the darkest recesses of their minds. “Now it’s a monster, and will not obey,” as Steppenwolf sang.

I think it’s fair to say that Trump entered the contest, with the goal of knee-capping Jeb Bush. It seems likely that he did so, believing that this would be helpful to the person he assumed would be the Democratic nominee. However, his campaign has created an energy that surprised even him, and he has come to believe that he can actually become president. Or, of course, it is entirely possible that he entered the contest fully intent upon winning. That’s a distinction that really isn’t important right now.

What is important is that an ugly force is gaining strength in America, and while the Trump phenomenon is its visible surface, it has a momentum beneath the surface that poses a serious danger. The world stage is very different today, Whereas President Reagan could satisfy the public with his 1983 invasion of Grenada -- an event that only the most cowardly could justify, much less pretend was a noble exercise of American power -- the tensions between the US and the rest of the world make such cowboy diplomacy much riskier now.

I do not delude myself into thinking that I know “The Answer.” It might be easier to believe that backing a single candidate offered security. Or perhaps a lobotomy? But neither are satisfactory alternatives.

But I do know that everything is connected -- that truly, every person plays a role in what direction our society will move in. Obviously, voting is important. Yet, it goes way beyond that. As individuals, we need to be consciously aware of our everyday actions, and make every effort to not “feed” that monster, that growing collective force of anger and hostility that is saturating our culture. That may sound trite, I know. But I much prefer being part of a Peace Movement, than of an Anti-War Movement.

H2O Man

People Are Strange

“People are strange.”
-- Jim Morrison

Probably all of us have, from time to time, read some comments by another DU community member and wondered, “What the heck? Why would she/he say THAT?” And I’m not talking about the obvious attempts to disrupt a liberal-progressive Democratic web site. There will always be a splattering of such nonsense, and we already know both the “what” and “why” of such behavior.

Rather, my focus is on those who are members of the Democratic Party, and are sincere -- though misguided -- in their attempts to promote their own point of view. However, in attempting to get their needs met, they appear comfortable in making others uncomfortable. Their eagerness to insult others -- individuals and groups -- is a type of human behavior that has led theologians, psychologists, politicians, sociologists, mystics, and math teachers to the shared belief that Jim Morrison was right: people are strange.

A response to an OP that I posted yesterday got me thinking about “personality,” and how an individual’s personality helps or hinders their participation in a larger community (or society) of people. My friend’s question accurately noted that both heredity and environment are contributing factors. The two combine to create an individual’s personality -- their character and their behavior.

The dividing-line between heredity and environment isn’t always distinct and clear-cut. By the simplest of definitions, heredity is everything involved before birth, and environment everything that happens after birth. Yet, the environment the expectant mother lives in definitely impacts the baby -- from her diet to her mood -- just as surely as her DNA contributes. And the power inherent in DNA is a miracle that scientists recognize as a most amazing life-force; the ability to understand DNA will not only improve the quality of human life on earth, but may well be what saves us from the extinction we seem to be unconsciously aiming for.

Now, it has become fashionable, in some circles, to ask if being a registered republican is evidence of a major mental illness. Indeed, a unbiased response would have to include some shared delusional beliefs -- and corresponding behaviors -- among our republican brothers and sisters. It’s a tad difficult, for example, to argue that fellows like Richard Nixon or George W. Bush were the pictures of mental health and stability. Yet both were put in office for two terms. Someone voted for them. What does that say about them?

Yet even delusions, or even certain episodes of psychosis, are not “proof” of a major mental illness. Rather, they can be the stuff of personality disorders. And while they are issues of mental health, they are distinct from major mental illness….though often related in some ways. People are complex beings.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the differences between major mental illnesses and personality disorders. In the field of mental health, for example, the major mental illnesses are diagnosed as “Axis 1,” and personality disorders as “Axis 2.” ( Or, we might say “levels” 1 and 2.) The majority of major mental illnesses are disorders in brain chemistry, and likely hereditary. While they have an impact upon the personality of the individual, they are not an indicator of character. Thus, as a population, I’ve found those with major mental illnesses -- including through work, family, and friends -- to be among the most caring, honest, and honorable people I’ve met. It’s worth noting that those who suffer from a major mental illness are far, far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, than to commit one.(The mass media pretends otherwise, which I find highly offensive.)

Major mental illnesses cause thoughts and behaviors that create distress in a person’s life. While it is true that those experiencing the manic phase of a bipolar illness may enjoy some of the early symptoms, it eventually causes distress and disturbance.

A personality disorder, despite its ability to at times mimic a major mental illness, is different in important ways. First, they are largely learned behavior. In the simplest terms, it is the attitude and behaviors that a kid growing up in a dysfunctional family learns, in order to get his or her needs met. When that person takes those attitudes and behaviors out into the bigger world outside of their dysfunctional family system, they do not tend to fit in well.

One major distinction between major mental illness -- which causes suffering for the individual -- is that the personality-disordered person finds comfort in their dysfunctional behaviors. Indeed, their behavior almost exclusively causes discomfort, even suffering, for those around them.

With all people, there are three closely related factors that combine for personality: thinking. character traits, and behaviors. Thinking, of course includes everything from intelligence to attitude; character has to do with approach (honest, liar, nice, mean, etc); and behaviors are the person’s interactions with the outside world, particularly other human beings.

All people develop the ability to behave differently in distinct situations. One tends to be more relaxed with friends, for example, than in a formal situation, such as a court appearance. A person often shows a different side of themselves to family members, than to medical professionals. One can see how their thinking and character traits impact their behaviors in different settings.

One of the cultural dynamics that adds an ugly tint to modern society is “road rage.” It demonstrates how the synergy of high stress levels, low frustration levels, and de-humanization leads to unhealthy amounts of hostility being aimed at “strangers.” Just as people behave differently in various person-to-person interactions, this phenomenon takes place between people isolated from direct contact, by being in the relative safety of their car. Beeping horns, middle fingers, aggressive driving, and “Hey! Fuck you!” takes over. In some instances, things spin even further out of control.

Thus, when people are even more isolated -- sitting in their home, in front of a computer screen -- and can’t even see the other through glass windows, we find a strange type of “road rage” taking place on the information highway. And that includes here, on DU. While not everyone who disagrees with you or I is painfully personality disordered. Often, good and intelligent people disagree. Even on important things.

The test, I believe, is in watching for patterns of behavior. That involves looking closely at the other persons thinking; their character; and how they behave. Sometimes, rather than becoming annoyed with another forum member, and engaging in a pointless, often emotional squabble, it is better to step back, and dis-engage. Not “disengage” by quitting DU -- although arguing with a cluster of personality disordered people can be so frustrating, one might feel like quitting. But, rather, to just step back, and let the other person unload. Trust others to evaluate the quality of what those folks unload.

Most people find it difficult to not react to the personality disordered opposition. This is particularly true, when dealing with a passive-aggressive or a borderline personality disordered person. Probably all of us can identify a few people that we’ve engaged in weird conversations with, or who tend to follow us around on the forum, who’s personality makes meaningful conversation impossible. It can be frustrating, in the sense that we can see that they have intelligence. But they are annoying.

For example, while my goal isn’t to argue with others here -- those who think differently can be rewarding to talk with -- I’ve had a few “shadows” over the years. Most have been tomb-stoned. But a few are definitely solid Democrats; we simply do not like each other. In one current case, it’s an intelligent, well-meaning but terribly bitter fellow, with a rather severe borderline personality disorder. He has cycles of accepting that we will never converse again, and then compulsively adding little bitter comments to my threads, like a nasty little Chihuahua peeing on a rug.

I sometimes just ignore his bitterness, and other times, read his contributions. It would be easy to crush him in a debate -- but why? I feel sorry that anyone’s life-experience would result in being that unhappy, anxious, bitter, and paranoid. An insult from me isn’t likely to improve his lot. It could only reinforce that borderline disorder, including his mistaken belief that I am involved in his life. I’m not. I’m just some weird guy participating in a discussion forum. Sad, really.

Maybe keep this in mind, when you participate in conversations on this forum. Even those you naturally think of as annoying -- or simply as jackasses -- may be good people, who have been damaged by life. If that damage had been done to them physically, we would surely be patient with them. But instead, it is people who’s being has been injured by life. Be patient. Be compassionate. If necessary, disengage. But don’t react with anger or hostility.

Ramblings from an old man. Thanks for reading.

H2O Man


“Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.”
-- W. L. George

One of the darnedest things that happens in times of social unrest -- such as that which the people of the United States are experiencing now -- fits what W. L. George said about wars. We witness this every time we watch the news, or read a newspaper, and see people reacting to important events. And we see how damaging that process is, by simply reading too many of the divisive OP/threads on DU:GD.

The concept of debating an important issue is, in and of itself, neutral. A debate has the potential to become positive or negative; meaningful or meaningless; constructive or destructive. Let’s consider, for example, the concept of a Democratic Party’s presidential primary contest -- although this OP is not about the 2016 primary. And let’s say that there are ten issues of great importance to the party as a whole. These issues include both domestic and international tensions, of course, because these always overlap.

No one candidate is going to have the absolute “best” positions on each of the ten issues. Indeed, no individual who serves as President of the United States will, either. It’s not going to happen. Yet, there are plenty of good and sincere people who actually believe that a president -- an individual man or woman -- has the ability to institute enough positive changes to “save” America. That is no more rooted in reality, than believing the world will end in 1928, and God will come down from the sky to “save” us.

What the process is intended to do is to identify the most qualified and capable individual, who not only has the best stance on the majority of those ten important issues, but also create a coalition of allies to coordinate efforts to deal with all ten issues. To the extent that a man or woman can do that, is the measure of the good potential achieved.

The negative potential, obviously, is found when people limit their focus to one or two of the ten issues that confront us. It is part of human nature to see that which involves your self, family, and friends as the most important -- and it is, to you, your family, and friends. And that makes it important. It’s also important to understand that other people, confronted by different circumstances, is going to be focused on that which concerns him-/herself, family, and friends.

More, it is both possible and important to recognize that while each of us will be “experts” in the issues that confront and concern us the most, there will be other equally important issues that we are less familiar with. That doesn’t mean we are totally ignorant: we are likely to know more about the issue than the average person, from being exposed by way of the media or some form of education. But we haven’t been exposed in the sense of our life-experience. (Perhaps we can illustrate this by considering the issue of sex with another person. One might read about sex, even study it in a “sex-ed” class in high school; or watch it on television. Despite having a passionate interest in having sex with another person, one cannot fully understand the experience, until one has engaged in it.)

Now, I do not know what it is like to have a police officer assault and/or kill me, because I am black. I do know what it is like to be beaten while handcuffed. I have had a cousin and his son shot by a law enforcement officer. I’ve had a nephew attacked, and left for dead, by a group of racist thugs, who hated my nephew because he is black. But I simple cannot have the experience of being assaulted/ murdered for being black.

Likewise, because I am not gay, I’ve never had the experience of being threatened, assaulted, and/or murdered, because I am gay. Now, I have had people call me gay, as an intended insult, simply because I have long hair. It would be easier, and hence more likely, that a hateful person could mistake me for being gay, than being black. And while being called names doesn’t bother me as an individual -- I do not think of being black or gay as a “bad” thing -- the aggressive behavior of hateful thugs towards blacks, gays, and other human being is disturbing to me. For around the same time my family dealt with the assault upon my nephew, the vicious murder of Matthew Shepard was in the news. And the murder of James Byrd, Jr.

These individual cases show how closely related those ten important issues are. And not simply in the context of a given campaign. No, these issues demand our best efforts. And that means on an on-going basis, at every level.

In reality, just as no US President is going to “save” us -- for even if he or she wanted to, they could not -- no individual on this forum, nor any group in the nation, is an “expert” on each of those ten issues. Thus, a serious effort requires a united front, a coalition, that includes groups and intervals with expertise in each of the ten areas. And that means that wee have “allies” -- a word that has caused some degree of tensions between various groups and individuals, even here in this diverse community of DU.

The concept of allies has, of course, both positive and negative potentials. Some are basic, and constant. Indeed, it could not be otherwise, for we are talking about human beings. And, in the final analysis, we are all sad and weakly human, thus prone to making errors. For none of us knows everything. Add to this the fact that social-political circumstances frequently change -- though the underlying dynamics may remain much the same -- which requires that we be flexible in order to deal with fluid events.

If people always view their issue as “most important,” a movement stagnates. If they do not understand the significance of “striking while the iron is hot,” a movement fails. The obvious example of this involves the issues with “Black Lives Matter.” That’s a powerful statement f purpose, and absolutely provides a current crisis in society where a united front could make great gains. And while a whole lot of folks get it, we still see how that potential can be wasted -- be it by people who cannot get beyond the, “Yeah, but don’t ALL lives matter?”, to others who are unwilling to accept the imperfections -- real or otherwise -- that they see in potential allies.

Again, all of these problems come down to our being human. And part of being human is the ability to easily see the flaws in others, but lacking the capacity for deep insight into our own short-comings. The belief that, if only this individual, or that group, would do exactly what we want them to do, that things would be better ….when, in reality, the only thing we have control over is our own actions.

We need to be patient with one another, while being impatient with the circumstances that deny social justice to ourselves and fellow citizens. We need to be forgiving in regard to the imperfections of ourselves and our allies, and firm in our demands for progress. That can be hard at times, but not doing so will always be harder.

H2O Man
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