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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
December 28, 2017

Gold Water Gate Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man

December 19, 2017

One Dark Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man
December 16, 2017

The Gathering Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man

December 14, 2017

Seven Dates in May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man

December 9, 2017

A Potter's Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man
December 8, 2017

Pleas Please Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H2O Man

November 30, 2017

The Mad King (part #9)

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods;
They kill us for their sport.”
William Shakeshere; King Lear

The mad king is said to be questioning if it was really him saying the most repulsive things on the infamous tape, and if President Obama's birth certificate is real. He is also telling people that Mr. Mueller's investigation will soon end, clearing him by the end of the year. It would be easy to think that this is simply another example of his pathological lying – lying to others, and to himself – rather than to recognize that it is, instead, evidence that his grasp upon anything close to reality is zero.

That is not reassuring, of course, at a time when the tensions between the United States and North Korea are spiking. The mad king on a “good” day is incapable of dealing with, because he views it entirely within the context of a conflict between him and the tyrant of North Korea. Thus far, the generals have limited Trump to making threats that make rational citizens of the world uneasy. And Trump's nonsense can only be viewed as a threat to his North Korean counterpoint.

Those with entrenched personality disorders such as Trump tend to experience episodes of psychosis – breaks from reality – when under great stress. What stress is Trump currently under, that is different from the levels he otherwise has? The rather obvious answer is the news that Michael Flynn is either negotiating a deal, or has accepted one, with Team Mueller.

As noted previously, Flynn's motivation for seeking a deal are two-fold: first, he is seeking to protect his son, even more than himself, and second, he does not have faith in Trump's commitment or ability to protect him and his son by way of pardon. Thus, his desire to reach a deal. However, since Flynn is a known liar, Mr. Mueller's team has demanded more than Flynn's testimony. They have demanded that he produce documentation that proves what he is willing to testify to is accurate. And Flynn has such documentation.

There are only three potential targets that Flynn could turn on that are of interest to Mueller's team. They are Donald, Jr., Jared, and Trump. It is possible, even likely, that due to concerns that Trump would pardon his son and/or son-in-law, the potential charges against the pair will be reinforced by the NYS Attorney General. However, Mr. Mueller is definitely aware that his investigation is going to lead to an intense confrontation with the mad king.

Thus, it seems possible that Trump's saying he will be cleared by New Year's Day is rooted in a decision that he has made to try to “fire” Mr. Mueller by the end of December. Other than that, there is simply no way the investigation stops. Manafort doesn't go to trial until May of 2018, and might well be seeking a deal between now and then. If Trump does pardon him, it merely adds to the obstruction of justice case against the mad king. The same goes for Junior and Jared.

As Trump rants irrationally behind closed doors, tweets anti-Muslim garbage on twitter, and insults Native Americans at a public ceremony, a few among the White House staff quietly express concern. But more of the republican rats in DC are destroying as much of the federal government as possible. Still others seek to exploit the waning opportunities for “tax reforms” that will institutionalize feudalism in America.

A central theme in the mad king's mind is his hatred for Barack Obama. It is safe to say that the same toxic thinking that led to the “Obama wire-tapped me” bit, is churning daily. Hence, not only the birther nonsense, but the attempt to destroy everything the President who humiliated him in public accomplished. For in Trump's world, insults and public humiliation represent the power of manhood.

It's said that the mad king has turned the presidency into a reality show. One hopes that 2018 serves as the show's final season. The degeneration of the executive branch will require years, many years, to treat and heal once he is gone. The damage done to the nation's social and economic fabric will demand more. The need for new Democrats in the House and Senate is clear.

H2O Man

November 23, 2017

#9 Dream

So long ago
Was it in a dream?
Was it just a dream?
I know, yes I know
It seemed so very real
Seemed so real to me
-- John Lennon; #9 Dream; 1974

Rather than write about Thanksgiving or the Russian-Trump scandal, I thought I'd share a memory about Rep. John Conyers. I suppose that's something old people do, because we have one foot in the past, and one in the present. Younger people have one foot in the present, and one in the future, and at risk of boring them, I think this is an interesting story. (But, of course, I am old, and prone to thinking these things are important.)

I was thinking about the December, 1975 night that Bob Dylan and friends performed at Madison Square Garden. It was the “Night of the Hurricane” benefit for Rubin Carter. These were curious days in America: following the hopes of the 1960s, things looked particularly dismal when Nixon was re-elected in 1972. But Nixon's circumstances were circumcised by the Watergate investigations, and citizens began to recognize that government officials sometimes abused the power of their offices.

After the weirdness of Manson, Kent State, Attica, Watergate, Weathermen, and the seemingly never-ending war, Carter's case was among the “causes” that people felt good about. Nixon had resigned in disgrace, the war ended, and the idea of prison reform had taken root. And – seemingly suddenly – Carter's case was in the spotlight. Selwyn Raab of the NY Times did a series of front-page articles on Carter's case that suggested Rubin had been railroaded by corrupt New Jersey officials, and Carter appeared to be a charismatic potential “leader” for institutional reform.

As older forum members know, I had become friends with Rubin a few years by then, before his case became popular. There was a core group that did a lot of work that resulted in the case becoming popular among the “beautiful people” of Hollywood, the music industry, and the sports world. But by the time of this star-studded benefit concert – topped off by Dylan performing the song “Hurricane,” actually written by Jacques Levy – all of Carter's supporters were confident that he would soon be cleared by the New Jersey legal system.

But a funny thing happened along the way. And no one saw it coming. The original support group was almost exclusively white. As the case became a popular cause, it attracted more black people, especially after Muhammad Ali became one of its chief spokespersons. And the organized support committee was beginning to raise a significant amount of money.

Being white myself, I'm comfortable saying that some of the white supporters began spending to “cover their expenses.” Some were making a real profit. Others had mapped out their plans for Rubin in the world of politics post-retrial. Without question, some of the black supporters were making themselves quite comfortable while promoting the cause, too. And they resented the white people's attempts to plan Carter's future for him.

But what has this to do with John Conyers, you ask? Fair question. Allow me to attempt to answer it. John Conyers was among those who had joined the support committee. He was at the hotel where the “beautiful people” were staying on the day of the concert. He understood that the growing tensions within the support group, which were generally a racial divide, represented a real threat to not only the movement, but especially to Rubin and John Artis's chances of being found not guilty in their eventual retrial.

He knew that it would be difficult for anyone, including Rubin, to transition from inmate to a free person quickly, after spending almost a decade incarcerated. He knew that many within the support committee had lost focus on what was most important. And thus, during an afternoon confrontation within that hotel, when he spoke up, one of the white people making the most profit off of Carter's case (over $40,000 for “expenses” from the concert alone) threw a drink in his face.

The support committee fractured, and at the retrial, prosecutors used this (including where the money had gone) to discredit Carter and Artis's legal defense team.

I do not pretend that Conyers is a perfect man, for he is not. No one is. But he recognized that groups that work for progressive change often contain internal seeds of division. These can be along the lines of race, sex, social class, and other issues. I suspect that this is something that is just as true today as it was in 1975. Maybe it is worth thinking about now.

H2O Man

November 22, 2017


“We're all counting on Robert Mueller to set them straight. Remove the cancer from our country's body. And I believe he will. But once the balance of power is restored to sane people we all need to think hard about how many insane were exposed by Trump's rise to power. 

“How will we deal with them in the future?
coeur de lion; 11-11-2017

On a recent OP/thread, my Little Sister posed the above question. Rather than attempt to answer in that thread, I thought that the point she raised required another OP. For while parts of the answer are easy to identify, other areas demand a more well-rounded response.

Let's start with the relatively easy part, one we see becoming a factor in Alabama. And it is simple division. Allow your opposition every opportunity to divide against itself.

There is a fissure within the republican party that threatens to divide the rabid right-wing from the “moderate” wing. An important example of this is found in Alabama today. A year ago, despite expressing “concern,” moderate republicans were willing to vote for Trump. And make no mistake: his behaviors in the dressing room of teenagers at “beauty contests” is not entirely distinct from Roy Moore's molesting a 14-year old. It's much more closely related than the actions of Al Franken.

The “me, too” campaign, and related shifts in social consciousness, have begun to put pressure on the republican fissure. Thus, “moderate” republicans are no longer comfortable ignoring Moore's past offenses. It's created a situation where the DC republicans are unable to identify what path to take to remove Roy, yet where they understand they may have to take action if he happens to win.

As that fissure grows – but before it fractures completely – we have the opportunity to separate some of the moderate republicans from the party. It may be temporary, of course, and specific to one election. And that's fine. If we think in the context of Moore in Alabama, the Democrats there have already peeled away some of his support. It's not enough to say that it's now certain that Doug Jones will win. Thus, the Alabama Democrats should focus their message to some specific groups.

It is safe to say that the Evangelical women in Alabama have at least the same rates for being subjected to sexual assaults, as anywhere else in the nation. In Alabama, our party's state and local groups should target them. Obviously, some still will prefer any republican to any Democrat (oh, how I wish Christopher Hitchens were alive to speak to this!). But a significant portion can be reached, and encouraged to think of their daughters and granddaughters. Thus, that election is definitely up for grabs.

In 2018, we will be facing similar – if not so stark – circumstances in states across the nation. That is why all of us should be laying the groundwork to build our foundation upon today. That's no different, really, than my son training now, for the 2018 Golden Gloves. Every state is unique, something we must recognize in order to have an effective 50 state strategy. There are places where we can and should run candidates who are either progressive, liberal, moderate, or conservative Democrats. It's not a “one size fits all” situation. A candidate that can win in California, for example, is not going to be the type that can win in Alabama.

This brings us to the topic of resources. There are obvious advantages accrued in splitting the republican party's resources, as we witness happening in Alabama. By splitting the rabid-right from the “moderate” republicans, it isn't just groups of people dividing, it's their financial resources. This is a good thing. So good, in fact, that we must continue to do it in 2018. Even in states where republicans normally feel safe, we need to make them expend the maximum financial and human resources. Again, we do this by exploiting the fissure in their party.

Now, in order to accomplish this, we must understand that all social and political movements have rhythms, much like tides. The republican party, particularly the rabid-right, holds certain cards to play when it is both beneficial and necessary. We've seen that last week, in the case of Senator Franken. And there are times when it's essential to fight the in-coming tide, and others where it's best to role with the tide. Does that make sense? In other words, we respond to their rat-fuckers, rather than react to them. This is something that intelligent activists learn with experience.

At this point, you are likely asking, “Okay, Patrick, but how exactly does this relate to Michelle Obama's saying that when they go low, we go high?” Good question, speaking of tides. In the context of the republican party versus the Democratic Party, let's consider a model. This is not exact, of course. But if we think of two long-time high school football rivals ….let's say Hatfield High versus the McCoy Centrals (their song being “Hang on, Sloopy”). It's not only the teams on the field competing, it's the fans who despise each other, holding on to rancid grudges from the past. And this can only reinforce anger and tensions. So what might change those dynamics?

Malcolm X often said that before you can get a people to act differently, you must first get them to think differently. Reacting with hostility towards non-Democrats (republicans, independents, etc) is not going to open their minds. That only appeals to the negative. But putting forth our best side, while appealing to their best side – in the case of Alabama, to reject sexual predators who prey upon children – has the potential to reach some republicans. For it is only the sickest among them who can justify Moore's behaviors.

And that brings us to that group – the most diseased among us – that you asked about. I apologize for taking a rather long route to addressing them specifically. While I believe that individuals can change, it is unlikely that, as a larger group, they are going to transform into non-hating citizens. Hence, we must make a conscious effort to remove them from having power within our society, and system of government. Then, though we can't change their minds, we can reduce their opportunities to act upon their illness.

A final thought: just as we cannot afford to “normalize” Trump's behaviors, we must take care to not normalize the idea that republicans have the same general value system as we have …..even those who do wonderful jobs of identifying Trump's pathology. Nor should we normalize the reversal of civilian authority overseeing the military, despite hoping the generals can control Trump's threatening outbursts. And with that said, I will soon continue our discussion on Michael Collins and that other fellow, and how it applies to the current political situation. (My great-grandfather's cousin worked with both.)
November 11, 2017

Captain America

“The meaning of a word is its usage.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein; Philosophical Investigations

The accusations against Roy Moore provide an unexpected, though not surprising, gift to the Democratic Party. They also come at a time when, beyond politics, there is a growing social awareness of the unacceptable dynamics that have allowed predators to use (or attempt to use) “power” to advance unwanted sexual advances. Thus, in order to be able to properly use the Moore situation for more than simple political benefit, I thought it might be of interest to discuss, as objectively as possible, some of the dynamics in this case in greater detail. As always, there will be some who disagree on some points, or interpret specific information differently; this is a good thing, and has the potential to lead to a more valuable discussion than my ramblings.

Wittgenstein's definition of words came to mind when I watched coverage of this latest republican “sex scandal.” Numerous reporters and guests panelists have referred to Moore's crime against a 14-year old as pedophilia. This is good, because that is the meaning of the word in common usage. It provides an accurate description for the general public. It is not the correct term within the field of psychiatry, though many in the treatment field find that the legal community – police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges – often use the word in conversations with them.

Most of the treatment community make use of chronophilia, as coined by John Money in identifying unhealthy, primary age groups various offenders are sexually attracted to. Pedophilia is when an adult has a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children. Roy Moore's targeting a 14-year old is an example of ephebphilia, as identified by Glueck in 1955, as a primary or exclusive interest in pubescent (or post-pubescent) teenagers.

While the roots of both tend to have areas of overlap, there are also distinct features. I think it may be interesting to consider Moore loosely in this context. Although I don't know a lot about him, what I do know seems to point to a range of personality disturbance that I used to encounter in work. I did not run any of the sexual abuse groups (I did jail and domestic violence groups), I encountered a number of offenders on my individual case load. And I coordinated treatment with the co-workers who ran those groups.

What makes a man as rigid and self-righteous as a Roy Moore? It might be useful to consider that in terms of what Dr. Michael Stone refers to as Features 1 and 2, which are thought patterns and behaviors that result. Let's take note that he speaks of Susan Neiman's gradation of behaviors that range from bad to very bad to evil. This allows us to consider how society views some behaviors today differently from the way the same behaviors were viewed in past eras, including within different contexts. This does not make excuses for past practices, but rather suggests that cultural progress is being made in some instances.

What I looked for in Moore's past is instances where, from the viewpoint of others, his thinking was rigid, and that this had an impact upon his relationship with those other people. I found it interesting that he attended military schools in his late teens, and then became an officer. Before serving in Vietnam, he was in the military police. In Vietnam, he was again in the military police, and was despised by others who found him to be too strict. He was given the nickname “Captain America” sue to his rigidity. Moore would report that, after being threatened with fragging, he slept on bales of straw for protection.

I would venture that this is an example of how Moore's Feature 1 thinking led to Feature 2 behaviors that resulted in others viewing him as a rigid, and who aggressively sought to exercise control over other people's behaviors.

Another part of Moore's thinking that is rigid, and hence results in aggressive behaviors upon his part that seek to control others, is found in his religious belief system. It is unclear (to me) if this was rooted in part in his childhood experiences. However, it is abundantly clear that his religious views have a co-morbidity with his rigid personality type. That toxic combination results in his self-identification as a morality-law enforcer.

What are the chances of such a geek having a healthy belief system regarding sexuality, and thus healthy sexual experiences? Just my opinion, but I'll speculate the chances are mighty low to nonexistent.

There are a number of factors in an adult sex offender such as Moore targeting a 14-year old for his personal satisfaction. They do not include a 32-year old assistant district attorney being comfortable with sexual relations with someone his own age. One can safely speculate that he was not confident he could sexually satisfy an adult. Thus, Moore abused his position of power to prey upon a kid.

On his Feature 1, Moore lacks the capacity to objectively evaluate what a terrible thing he did. His law and order personality, combined with his sick religious beliefs, do not allow for his being conscious of his guilt. Rather, in a ironic twist of a most-twisted mind, he consciously convinces himself that it was not him that molested a 14-year old. And it's no surprise – none – who or what he does blame.

Moore convinced himself that two sentences from Romans, found in chapter 7, lines 17 and 20, identify the real cause: “It is no longer I who am doing this evil, but the sin living in me. ...And if I do what I don't want to do, it is not I who do it, but the sin which lives in me.” The more out of touch Moore becomes with the reality of his own disgusting self, the more those Feature 1 ideas convince him that it is his role to become a modern-day prophet from the Old Testicle. And, indeed, we see how that delusional self-concept – a man who claims the moral authority to speak for “God,” and to judge others – has translated into his behaviors throughout his adulthood.

Thus, a man who really should have been incarcerated is able to climb the ladder from assistant DA to serve twice as a highest judge in his state. From this position, of which he was twice removed, he spews hatred and filth, attacking gays and lesbians, not mere attempting to deny them marriage equality, but to make them “illegal.” He attacks Islam, and advocates denying Muslims from holding elective office. He was big on the “birther” nonsense. And like Trump, he's a big fan of Putin.

Other possible criminal behaviors include paying himself well over a million dollars from his own non-profit “Foundation for Moral Law,” and using its other funds to run his political campaigns. (Washington Post)

Almost as disgusting has been some of his supporters to either normalize his behaviors, or to place them in that “Mary and Joseph” context, and to use the “Roy's being attacked by pure evil!” bit in their latest fund-raising attempts. And today, his brother actually compared the news reports to the crucifixion of Jesus.

It's unsettling to know that Roy Moore could ever win any election, much less in a state-wide contest. It's more disturbing to think he might have won a seat in the US Senate – indeed, he still might. We should all be doing our best to help his opponent, Doug Jones, win. It doesn't matter if you think he is a liberal or moderate Democrat. He has to win. Really.

We also have an opportunity to reach people on more that a political level. People need to understand that many variations and gradations of the more extreme Moore pathology exist in our society. And society as a whole benefits from confronting it.

Thank you to anyone who might have read this far!
H2O Man

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