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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 66,952

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4th of July

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Happy 4th of July!

By the powers of the earth, I do declare that Trump et al are not a legitimate part of the United States' constitutional democracy: they are a separate, cancerous growth that must be surgically removed. The method of their removal is defined by the Constitution as impeachment. We are on the path to that remedy today.

There are, understandably, many good people who are impatient with the process. They believe that because of the dire threat Trump poses, he should be removed immediately. I share their belief that Trump & Co. should be incarcerated, so that political scientists could study the disease they transmit to the nation.

I also recognize that the application of modern technology is allowing this process to go at a faster pace than it has in any of the previous three national experiences where impeachment was considered. (It was unfortunately taken off the table in two other recent instances, involving Reagan-Bush and Bush-Cheney.) Let's take a holiday look at where it stands today.

There are, of course, three investigations going on: the House, the Senate, and Mr. Mueller's. For the sake of our holiday pleasure, we'll focus on Mr. Mueller's investigation. We know that Mueller has hired an array of talented prosecutors with experience in different specialties. This is important when we consider it in the context of what Malcolm Nance has described as the distinct (though at times overlapping) layers that Mueller has identified.

One thick layer involves the financial aspects. It includes Michael Flynn, Jared Cushner, and Paul Manafort. It also includes Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, and Marc Kasowitz. And, as the investigation has proceeded, it has begun to examine VP Pence.

Layer two involves operations. This includes people found “at the margins” of the campaign, such as Roger Stone and, to an extent, Corey Lewandowski. These are the people who, believing the Russians had Ms. Clinton's missing e-mails, were convinced they were a pot of gold that would insure a Trump victory. This group includes those involved in the coordinated release of what materials the Russians had accessed.

Another layer involves those attempting to provide cover for the coordinated operations. Michael Cohen is a good example of a weasel promoting a “Ukraine peace plan.”

Next is active foreign agents. General Flynn is but one example.

Then there is a key focus: who was advocating for Flynn to begin with? Two names stand out: Kushner and Pence. This raises the question of why?

When investigating the body of a crime – the “how?” – one looks for the connections in what is there. When investigating the “why?” – especially in terms of financial interests – one examines the body of evidence, with a focus upon what is missing, that under usual, non-criminal circumstances should be there. This is precisely what the Treasury investigators have been tasked to identify. And they are good at that. Really good.

The next level involves determining who, at the time of the campaign, was aware of the on-going activities. The public wants to know, for example, if Trump was involved. The investigation is considering two possibilities: first, was Trump actively involved, and second, was he aware of, but not actively involved, the operations?

Finally, for this meager discussion, is the activities that lumped together would be consider a cover-up. This, of course, is obstruction of justice. Trump in particular has taken high profile actions – such as firing James Comey – that stand out. But it is not limited to Trump. The pathetic operation with Devin Nunes is being considered. And there are others.

We at the grass roots should be playing an active role, too. The Constitution tells us “how.” And the Declaration of Independence” tells us “why.”

H2O Man

4th of July


 "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric? Will no one rid me of this turbulent cleric?”
Henry II Tantrump

The video of Trump body-slamming “CNN” is rightfully being called a threat by the news media. It is a specific type of threat, based upon its target audience. And many of us are old enough to remember a number of similar messages that targeted similar audiences in the past. Let's start by looking briefly at two examples.

When President Kennedy was preparing to visit Dallas, retired General Edwin Walker tasked his top aide, Robert Surrey with producing and distributing 5,000 copies of a now infamous “Wanted for Treason” flier. Walker was the General Flynn of his day: in 1961, JFK had rumors that Walker was distributing John Birch Society pamphlets among troops investigated, and Walker was forced to resign in disgrace.

Walker moved to Dallas, which at the time had the highest per-capita rate of KKK membership in the United States. Walker became a leader of the combined Bircher-KKK types in the city. This group also had a “religious” tone, in that Rev. W. A. Criswell, the head of the First Baptist Church, actively opposed JFK.

Now, let's fast-forward to 1964-65. There were growing tensions between the Nation of Islam, and former NOI Minister Malcolm X. In the NOI publication “Muhammad Speaks” – which was actually created by Malcolm years before – there were a series of disturbing articles that clearly suggested Malcolm should be killed. The April 10, 1964 edition included a cartoon of Malcolm's decapitated head bouncing down a street.

In each of these instances, it is accurate to identify these as threats. But when we look closely at them, there is more. A threat is normally communicated by one person to the victim of their threat. It seeks to intimidate the victim. Yet the Trump threat – like the other examples – is primarily directed at a different target, the unstable idiots who believe it is their patriotic and/or religious duty to carry out a fatal attack upon the victim of the threat.

It is worth noting that the treason flier, the Malcolm cartoon, and the Trump video share an important characteristic: each of the three contains a visual component. They aren't simply written words, that are processed in a specific portion of the human brain. The wanted poster had two pictures of JFK, the cartoon had four images of Malcolm's severed head, and the Trump film featured a not-that-old clip of Trump performing violence at a professional wrestling events. Visual images such as these are processed in a different area within the brain.

Thus, Trump's message was directed towards the mentally unhinged freaks who love pro wrestling and the confederate flag, and who are convinced that the NRA and Donald Trump are looking out for their interests. And from the campaign season, when Trump verbally attacked reporters such as Katy Tur, we know these people are prone to responding to Trump's call to action – Ms. Tur had to hire private security to insure her safety outside of work.

I'll end this with a personal anecdote. I was speaking to an extended family member, an in-law, who is somewhat conservative. I asked him what he thought of Trump? He said, “He is the greatest threat to our country today.” He went on to say that Trump wishes that he had the same “power” that Putin has in the context of his relationship with the media. He said that Trump would like to have several of them murdered, so as to fully intimidate the rest.

Trump is a Swine

The controversy over Trump's tweets about Mika & Joe should be viewed as neither a distraction from the Russian probe, nor as distinct from it. Rather, Trump's outburst is symptomatic of a man who feels that his world is coming apart at the seams. His behavior is that of the most cowardly bully, a punk.

Trump likes to incorrectly refer to himself as a “counter-puncher.” This, of course, is a term he heard when he was involved in promoting championship boxing in Atlantic City – something he ultimately failed at, despite being funded by HBO. Yet, his use of that term is the bluff of someone who does not understand its meaning: a counter-puncher maneuvers the opponent into throwing the punches that he is prepared to respond to. Trump is that guy who, when he is getting his ass kicked, resorts to a blatant foul, hoping for temporary respite.

The “cloud” over his presidency that Mr. Comey said Trump constantly whined about involves the investigation of the Trump-Russian scandal. It continues to build strength, while Trump fails in his efforts to repeal President Obama's advances in health care. The Supreme Court gave him a partial victory, yet his administration's overstep on this has already resulted in an upcoming legal challenge. It is the synergy of Trump's weaknesses that cause his unseemly twitter rants.

To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, Trump sees a threatening his very presidency today ….a storm that offers him no shelter from eventually being kicked out of the way. We should be taking full opportunity of this – not as an effort to spike “Mourning Joe's” ratings, but to inflict damage upon Trump. Certainly, the current Congress is not going to impeach and convict Trump at this point. But it would be wonderful if some good Democrats, in both the House and Senate, would at least take actions aimed at censuring him for his latest outburst. And everyone here can – at the very least – contact their elected representatives and recommend this.

In terms of the Russian investigation, Trump's outburst provides evidence of two things: what has taken place in the past two weeks, behind closed doors, has the president very upset. And his behavior continues to follow along a consistent path of bullying and low-blows.

For many years, I was employed in social work. I investigated all types of domestic abuse in the field, and later co-facilitated numerous DV groups. I provided documentation to the courts, and testified in more cases than I can remember. Donald Trump is a classic example of a low-life thug who is convinced that he is justified – the old “look what you made me do!” horseshit – that it is safe to say that he is 100% incapable of change.

But we are not. We can institute change.

H2O Man

Water Power

“First, is the danger of futility: the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills -- against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence …..It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. “
– Senator Robert F. Kennedy; Day of Affirmation address; Cape Town University; June 6, 1966

Kennedy family historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., stated that this was his favorite section of what he considered to be Kennedy's greatest speech. While he might not have been totally objective – as he used his skills as a wordsmith to fine-tune the speech – I tend to agree that it was the most important message that RFK delivered. Indeed, it encapsulates the meaning of his presidential campaign that ended two years later.

It is a message that we should take to heart today. Not only for the encouragement it communicates to those struggling in difficult circumstances, but for the nature of the remedy he identifies. For most of his public career, RFK was a hard-nosed, often angry young man. His tactics were divisive, even within Democratic circles. This isn't to suggest that the positions he advocated were “wrong,” or “right,” for that matter. Nor to ignore his many accomplishments.

Still, the RFK of 1966 to 1968 was very different than the earlier version. Two incidents in particular began the process of change: The Cuban missile crisis, and his brother's murder. Still, there were numerous other ripples in American society that moved him along – the civil rights and anti-war movements among them. This included, of course, the violence that he witnessed resulting from them.

In another 1966 speech, in which he outlined the relationship between war, racism, and poverty, he repeatedly stated, “I find that unacceptable.” He refused to normalize the abnormal, which is something we must continue to do in the age of Trump. Obviously, it is not only Trump that is abnormal – literally, a cancerous growth on our nation. It includes not only those who accept Trump, but especially those that empower him. They are unacceptable.

Equally important, Kennedy was not advocating normalizing the abnormal by stooping to their level, resorting to their type of tactics, or reacting to their hatred with our hatred. Instead, he was urging people to use positive energy, in such a way that it sends out ripples that overcome hateful ripples. To wash away the toxic pools of a Trump with currents that reflect our values.

You can read or listen to RFK's powerful message here:


It's those values, which are a constant among civilized people seeking social justice, that we need to be giving voice to. And not limiting that to spending time on one internet forum. It's important to coordinate it into other venues. For many people, being part of a group effort works best. That's something we have the option to work on here.

If a single forum member sends an important question to a journalist, say Rachel or Joy on MSNBC, it's possible someone on her staff will take note of it. But if ten people, or twenty or thirty, send a similar message, it becomes more likely that one (or more) of her staff will take note. And there are certainly enough good questioned asked, and important points raised here on DU:GD, that we could easily do this. It could start out as a weekly exercise in grass roots democracy, and possibly grow. And it could be a lot of fun.

H2O Man

Georgia on My Mind

“A farmer cannot think too much evil of a good farmer.”
John Steinbeck; East of Eden

The recent election loss in Georgia reminded me of a staff meeting I attended at the county Mental Health Clinic on a sunny Monday afternoon years ago. One of my co-workers was presenting a case that involved a family that lived on a small farm. The family had requested appointments at a specific time of day, and that didn't fit conveniently in the therapist's busy schedule.

Now, because the case involved domestic violence, and treatment was mandatory, my friend was not feeling particularly flexible as far as scheduling sessions. “They are farmers. They don't work that hard. Farmers only work twice a day – mornings and evenings,” my friend said. This “opinion,” as it turned out, was not based upon any familiarity with farming, beyond driving past a few farms on the way to and from work. Mornings and evenings.

I grew up on a small family farm. I do remember working before and after school. And weekends. When other kids from the neighborhood were out having fun, my brothers and I were building fence, cutting brush, moving large piles out rocks out of the pasture, avoiding angry Angus bulls, and cutting firewood off the mountain with our grandfather's two-man saw. We did our “haying” the old-fashion way – loose – which creates difficulties when the hay loft was on the barn's second story. And, of course, feeding all the animals daily.

Luckily, I inherited the same lack of basic social skills as my four older siblings, allowing me the ability to fit right in uncomfortably. My brothers – like uncles and great uncles before them – took a liking to the sport of boxing. Over fifty years ago, they matched me in my first amateur fight, and for the next 15 years, I fought hundreds of bouts on amateur and professional cards. A total of 329 fights, to be exact.

The sum total of those experiences – on a farm and in the boxing ring – has provided me with some insight into the election in Georgia. For one thing, “loses” are not fun. I lost a total of nine fights, to eight different opponents; one fellow beat me twice. Yet, loses aren't really loses, unless you don't learn from them. Any of the guys who beat me, that I fought again, I beat. So, for example, the fellow who beat me twice wasn't so lucky in the seven other times we met in the ring.

While I was able to score knockouts in the vast majority of my bouts, there were some opponents – always bigger than me – that I had to simply out-box, and settle for the decision. In those instances, I would generally set a pace that I knew would sap the opponent's resources. He might win a round, but he paid a price for it, even if that price was simply using too much energy. Now, usually if the opponent had shot his wad early, I could get inside, say, “Damn, boy, you're in a lot of trouble now,” and render him defenseless with body shots, setting up the end. But several guys were intent upon lasting to the decision.

As a farm kid from rural, upstate New York, I didn't enjoy a home town advantage. No, I was traveling from city to city, fighting the local golden boy in his back yard. So I knew that the judges were going to favor the golden boy. Thus, two of my “loses” were fights that I knew I won. But that's boxing. It's a corrupt sport, almost as corrupt as politics.

Now, the lose in Georgia was in the republican's home turf. But it's only a loss if we don't learn from it. To win a contest in what should have been a safe election, the republicans had to invest far more resources than usual. And the “decision” was still very close. Come 2018, their party isn't going to be able to defend “safe” seats without investing lots of resources. That makes other seats far more vulnerable to our body attack.

It isn't fun to lose an election, any more than it's pleasant to lose a round in a boxing match. But it's not the end of the fight. For constitutional democracy is an on-going struggle by its very nature.

Clearing fields of brush and stone is not fun. It's hard work, to quote my least-favorite chimp. Putting up a barbed-wire fence isn't a blast either, but it defines a territory. Training for a fight isn't fun either, but the work you do in preparation determines the outcome. In that sense, it's not all that different from organizing a neighborhood, going door-to-door, and staking out territory at the grass roots level. Voter registration plus voter education equals voter participation. And that determines the outcome of elections.

We need to start putting in that hard work now, in preparation for the fight card in 2018. We should be focused on clearing those fields, and staking out territory. It is, in my opinion, counter-productive to waste energy debating (or arguing) about if we need to run centrist or liberal candidates. We are not a one-size-fits-all party, when we function at our best in the political arena. With so many pastures to operate in, there will be plenty of room to run a good variety of candidates.

We don't have to agree on everything. People at the grass roots level frequently have a very different view than that of someone driving by on their way to and from the office. That's okay. We can deal successfully with that, so long as we all do our own jobs. This business about replacing Nancy Pelosi is a fair topic for discussion, but in my opinion, one that would make a heck of a lot more sense in 2019. We do not need more divisions in our party today. If we all work at our own level, changes will unfold as needed. Building upon on strengths insures that positive growth.

Spider Webs

Spider webs are fascinating. They come in various shapes and sizes. Often, one can see the spider that constructed the web sitting, waiting patiently. But, even if the web appears empty, one can be sure that a spider built the web. For there are no spider webs without associated spiders.

There are no criminal webs without criminals. At times, these webs of corruption and deceit are seen sans the criminals that have constructed them. Thus, investigations to untangle such criminal webs can take time. Investigations want to identify all the evidence required to trap the criminals in their web, and to convict them.

There are also investigative journalists who special in deconstructing such webs. There is an extremely valuable documentary on one such investigation of the Trump-Russian web that came out in May. I highly recommend it to everyone on this forum. Here is a link:


Trump Today

“It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything.”
Stephen Colbert

“In both law and politics, I think the essential battle is the meta-battle of framing the narrative.”
Ted Cruz

During the 2016 republican primary and general election, Donald Trump was able to exercise control over the narrative. In the primaries, he was assisted by the media; in the general election, by Russia. An objective appraisal would conclude that neither the media or his campaign's Russian connections are aiding him in his presidency.

There are, of course, a group of people who are entrenched in their support of Trump. They are the right-wing of the republican party and others who are further to the right of that party. Though they are a minority nation-wide, they represent an important voting block in several states.

There are also many people who opposed Trump as a candidate, and as president. They are the majority in our country. Currently, the mainstream media and Russian investigations benefit their cause. If they find unity of purpose they will be the most important voting block nation-wide.

The facts are entirely on our side. The media – especially the Washington Post and New York Times – report on facts uncovered by the investigations on an almost daily basis. If the law and politics were completed rooted in facts, there would be no support for Trump, other than that of his family, business associates, and their Russian buddies.

Trump and his supporters have reacted by resorting to his campaign tactics. He is appealing to his base to support him, despite the facts. But the White House narrative is failing dismally on every level except the alt-right.

However, using some simple campaign strategies and tactics can serve the Democratic Party quite well. This can – and should – be done in coordination with the upcoming congressional elections. Let's consider the most basic rule of any type of political and/or social campaign. There are always three groups: those who will always support your cause, those who will always oppose you, and those who are either undecided, or who might change their position.

We want to energize the first group; generally ignore the second group; and convince the third group. Thus, the narrative used to communicate to each group has to be flexible. We benefit from having the first group being active participants in a coordinated effort to damage Trump & friends to the point where impeachment and criminal convictions become reality. The vehicle that allows us to do this is Amendment 1.

In discussions between those in group one, there are a wide range of topics worthy of our attention. We have no need to speak to the second group, but we can often use their words against them while communicating with the third group. Trump's tweets provide a great example of this option.

Trump continues to whine that the investigation is a witch hunt, carried on by Democrats who are sore losers. And it's true that a serious case can be made that Trump would not have won the electoral vote without the Russian's aid. But, in conversations with group three, we should stick to two important points that do not involve any speculation: the intelligence community was investigating Russia's role well before the election, and no patriotic American should be okay with foreign intrusions on our elections. It's really that simple to put Trump's argument in check.

Next, just as Trump used nicknames to label his opponents, we have the opportunity to label him and his merry band of fools. While talking with others from group one – such as here on DU – I do not hesitate to refer to Trump as a flaming asshole, etc. But in speaking to the general public, I prefer a different approach. I've noted that Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson has been referring to the administration as mobsters. That is simple, accurate, and powerful. It combines well with references to the current scandal resembling Watergate, and the question, “What is Trump trying to hide?” As it becomes part of the narrative, it communicates a clear message to group three.

This is, as so many have noted, a strange and dangerous time. Trump clearly wants to fire both Rosenstein and Mueller. The more the pressure is applied to him and his son-in-law, the more his reactions will be out of control. The more out of control he becomes, the more damage he does to himself, and to VP Pence. There is no nobler cause today than participating, at the grass roots level, with the further destabilizing of the Trump administration. Let's get busy.

H2O Man

Trump Card

It's not often that people from both sides of the Trump-Russia scandal agree on anything. Did former FBI director James Comey's testimony help or hurt Trump? It is hard for me to believe that those saying it supported the president actually believe what they are saying. Rather, it is evidence that they have volunteered for ethical lobotomies.

Yet, among the republican lies, one man actually hinted at the truth: Newt Gingrich. Over the weekend, Newt voiced the panic that Trump supporters should be experiencing when they consider the legal team that Robert Mueller has put together. By no coincidence, an essay on LAWFARE notes that the worst thing that happened to Trump et al was not Mr. Comey's testimony – but the newest additions to Mueller's team:


In addition to this, consider Preet Bharara's weekend interview, in which he detailed Trump's attempts to exert influence over him:

His description of Trump's contacts with him – and Trump's firing him for non-cooperation – are near identical to Comey's experience. By no mere coincidence, Mueller was fully aware of the details that Bharara shared publicly. Certainly, Trump's behavior falls into a pattern that Mueller understands. And, as always, it's not just the “how” things are done, it's the “why?”

A good prosecutor, when considering what (if any) charges to bring, looks for what is both easiest to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, and what carries a penalty that ensures justice is served. At times, this creates a degree of controversy among the public. Let's consider a fairly recent example.

When Patrick Fitzgerald investigated the Plame scandal, it was evident that two individuals were the primary culprits: Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney. The easiest case to prove was that Libby lied repeatedly to the FBI and grand jury. Those convictions resulted in a significant penalty, although President Bush saved him from incarceration. More, Fitzgerald strongly recommended that Congress go after VP Cheney – he offered to share the files from his investigation with them – but Congress failed to take appropriate action.

Now, let's look at Mueller and the Trump-Russian investigation. The easiest charge to prove against Trump at this time is obstruction. Hence, Mueller will present this specific matter to a federal grand jury – possibly the one in West Virginia, possibly a new one. They will return a sealed indictment. Mueller will inform the House of this, providing them the opportunity to consider articles of impeachment against Trump.

Mueller knows that the House republicans will view such an option in an entirely political manner. This includes a primary focus on what is in their own best interests. There is perhaps a 50-50 chance that, in such circumstances, they will impeach Trump, and send it to the Senate to try.

However, if they opt not to do so, Mueller is now prepared to pursue the matter. This is why he hired Michael Dreeben. And Newt Gingrich knows this. Mueller will pursue criminal charges against Trump in federal court. The White House will hold that a sitting president cannot be charged. And there used to be a tradition that a sitting president should not be distracted from his duties with any court case involving him as an individual. But Dreeben will argue that President Clinton was forced to participate in a civil trial rooted in past conduct, which definitely distracted from his presidency, and that Trump's conduct consisted of behaviors he engaged in as president.

Both sides can agree that Trump is in serious trouble. And it's of his own making.

"....of investigative interest."

The news media has provided a good amount of coverage to James Comey's testimony to the Senate committee. However, there is one issue that should get some more focused attention – why he did not inform Trump that it was wrong to pressure him on letting the Flynn business stop, nor come out in protest immediately afterwards. Why, instead, did he immediately start to document it on a secure laptop, and then only share the information with top FBI officials?

To understand the actual reason, we need to look closely at one short sentence Comey uttered, which has not been appreciated by the media: “It was of investigative interest.”

More, we need to place this in the curious context of events involving the FBI investigation, and the Trump administration. We know that Comey had rehearsed, with those same FBI officials, possible responses to potential odd questions that Trump might pose to him. Surely, he could have told the president that it was unethical to discuss anything about the FBI investigation of people associated with the campaign and transition team with him. Instead, he opted to say that Trump himself was not a target of the investigation. Why?

There are two reasons: first, Trump was not officially a target at that time, simply because investigators were working their way up the chain; and second, investigators are not obligated to be honest with either suspects, or potential suspects. For example, police can separate two suspects during questioning, and tell each one that the other has already ratted on him.

Comey was investigating potential crimes. Flynn was a target. And Trump was closely associated with Flynn and his activities. Imagine an investigator at a social event, who encounters an associate of someone being investigated for a crime. If that suspect's associate asks, “Am I a suspect?,” the investigator will say no, as to do otherwise informs the friend that anything he says can be used against him, and that he needs to hire an attorney. If the associate is in a chatty mood, the investigator will listen closely, so that he can remember the associate's exact words, and then immediately document them. Why? Because the encounter is of “investigative interest.”

What precisely does “investigative interest” mean? There are but two closely related explanations. The first is to gather more evidence against the suspect (Flynn). The second is to gather leads to help identify other potential suspects – in this case, meaning Trump's attempt to obstruct the on-going investigation.

And that is exactly why Mr. Comey responded to Trump's unethical and illegal behaviors, and why he answered the Senators' questions in the public forum in the exact manner in which he did.
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