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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 70,843

Journal Archives

"It's All Over"

I just got back home, and saw a film clip of Trump saying “it's all over” as a result of Sondland's testimony. Then I saw a couple friends here had posted photos of the curious notes that Trump was reading from. The combination of these reminded me of when Nixon began to melt under the pressure of the Watergate investigations. (Note: I have been thinking about comparisons since reading an important OP by PCIntern, which is linked below.)


In both cases, the televised hearings and the reporting about them were/are roller-coaster rides : it was/is delightful to see the cesspools of corruption exposed, frustrating to hear the republicans defending that corruption, and a bit unnerving to witness a president melting down and becoming a threat to national security.

Last week's testimony from Bill Taylor and George Kent was powerful. But, at least in my opinion, Marie Yovanovitch was even stronger in exposing just how underhanded this administration is. I find her to be high among the very good witnesses from the Watergate hearings. This week's witnesses continue to document how criminal Trump & Friends are. And this fellow Sondland is something else. He apparently is intelligent, yet he has an uncanny ability to come across a tad clownish.

Perhaps the witness I am most interested in hearing testifies tomorrow. Fiona Hill will add a lot of evidence about the Trump administration's ultimately failed operation in Ukraine.

I agreed with the OP linked above, because I was alive, awake, and aware when the Watergate crimes were being investigated. More, in recent times, I've watched the films of both the Senate Select Committee and the House hearings on Watergate. The republicans today are as similar to those of the Watergate era, as the dandelions of 2019 are to those of 1974.. However, as the Rolling Stones noted, dandelions don't tell no lies, dandelions will make you wise – clearly proving dandelions are a higher life form than republicans.

What is different – and essential for our understanding of why this may appear different – is that Newton Leroy Gingrich's “Contract on America” purposely broke the House's ability to function. That was a large part of the republican agenda, as this would promote the imperial presidency that Newton, Bill Barr, and others haters-of-the-Constitution advocate. I'd also add that televised news 24/7 and the internet have increased the pace of our exposure to corrupt republican blathering.

The Democrats in the House were solid during Watergate, and they are today. I'd like to say that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was intense today. I believe that Sondland learned not to mess with him today. I, for one, will show my appreciation for him with a campaign contribution

Finally, about comparisons between Nixon and Trump …..an interesting but difficult topic. One of my favorite songs was Neil Young's “Ohio.” My generation saw it as Neil's indictment of Nixon. Yet weeks before the republican national convention of 1976, Neil first performed “Campaigner,” that took a different position on Nixon. He referenced Nixon's being hospitalized for a pulmonary embolism that nearly killed him shortly before he left office, Nixon's years of campaigning, and even claimed that Nixon had “soul.”

Trump recently made a strange trip to the hospital. But he does not have a soul. He has none of the few good qualities that Nixon had. But he has all of Nixon's creepy qualities. None.

I'll finish by saying that, after watching Gym Jordan and Devin Nunes, I am convinced that we have to work very hard on the 2020 elections. We need to bring the republican obstructionists' political careers to the same guillotine that Trump's presidency is heading towards.

PS: We Okay, Boomers had some mighty fine music.

Roger Stone's Head

“When I use a word, ….it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” – Humpty Dumpty

“The question is ….whether you can make words mean so many different things.” – Alice

“The question is ….which is to be master.” – Humpty Dumpty

Lewis Carroll; Through the Looking Glass

Words are curious things. They can be used properly or improperly. As I've noted in the past on this forum, when the ancient philosopher Confucius was asked what he would do if he had complete political power, he said he would insist that people use words properly.

In Genesis 11: 1-9, we find the allegory of the Tower of Babel. Those who approach this ancient myth with concrete thinking believe it describes why the peoples of the earth speak different languages. Those with understanding of what specific words were intended to communicate recognize that there is a higher meaning.

Obviously, these are the things I find myself thinking about during the short break in today's House impeachment hearings. Gym Jordan and Devin Nunes are clearly attempting to distract and confuse the public with their choice of words. As toxic as we might find Stephen Castor, it is important to recognize that his choice of words is entirely proper in the context of an attorney representing a guilty-as-sin client in a criminal court hearing. And that word – “criminal” – is the most accurate possible to define the Trump administration.

I've found the witnesses this morning to be precise in describing the Trump corruption. Like last week's witnesses, they are honorable people. While it is highly unlikely that I would agree with them on every political and social issue, I have great respect for them. I recognize that they are putting not only themselves, but their families as well, at risk of retaliation from the administration and those who support them.

It will be interesting to see what Gordon Sondland does tomorrow. Will he even show up? Take the 5th? Or tell the truth? Time will tell. Equally, if not more important, will be Fiona Hill's testimony on Thursday. Gym and Devin will be in way, way over their heads.

I am extremely impressed with Chairman Adam Schiff. I've long had a very high opinion of him, yet the respect grows daily. He is taking his place in history, ranking with the honorable people who have taken a just stand in the national scandals that have taken place during my lifetime …..all of these scandals, by no coincidence, taking place in republican administrations.

Certainly among the most impressive participants is Daniel Goldman. I find it a bit ironic that he worked under Preet Bharara in the Southern District of New York. To paraphrase my friend Rubin Carter, what goes 'round comes 'round, unless you have Roger Stone's head, because then you've got nothing at all.

A Roving Mind

“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”
Isaac Asimov; The Roving Mind

I think that we can all agree that Trump's base is a cult. I'm not speaking of those in Washington who dislike the president, but are willing to publicly humiliate themselves for job security. Or those republicans across the country who don't think Trump is a “real” republican, but always vote along party lines.

Rather, I am thinking of those who attend his rallies, where they behave in the manner of religious experience, with all sense of individuality lost. The crowd becomes an individual organism, swaying and shouting praise in veneration to the object of their devotion. They are, as Asimov says, the most ignorant, uneducated, unimaginative, and unthinking among us. And they seek to force their god upon us.

I was speaking to an old friend last night, an aging hippie who helped finance my social activism for many decades. As Thanksgiving approaches, he dreads talking to his brother-in-law, who he describes as “aggressively stupid.” My friend said few things are as annoying as when, if he points out something bad Trump is doing, the guy says, “They all do it.”

My first response to such nonsense would be to ask who “they” are? The most likely answer is, “You know – all of them.” This provides the opportunity to point out that there have actually been but three past administrations with anything similar: Nixon formed his own “intelligence/dirty tricks” unit known as the plumbers; Reagan and Bush 1 had the National Security Council engage in illegal, hidden “foreign policies”; and Dick Cheney formed a Nixon-style intelligence unit run through the Office of the Vice President. By no coincidence, in each example, people were convicted of felony charges. This tends to take the fuzz of the “they all do it” peach.

Next, ask if the person values the Constitution? Is it more or less valuable than political party affiliation? When was the last time they read the Constitution? Specifically, the part about impeachment? Have they read the Federalist Papers? Specifically, numbers 65 and 66, which contain the Founding Fathers' thoughts on impeachment? What exactly do they say about presidents who have unseemly relationships with foreign powers, for personal advantage? Call it speculation on my part if you will, but I'd bet $10 to a penny they haven't read these documents.

I'd ask them to explain what exactly they believe the word “bribery” is intended to mean in the Impeachment Clause? Next, I'd ask them to describe why the Founding Fathers substituted the words “high crimes and misdemeanors” for the previously proposed “maladministration” in the Constitution? What is the difference? What advantages and disadvantages are contained in each?

My friend cracked up laughing, and said that I could talk circles around most people. I said that's a shame, at least in my opinion, because every citizen should be interested in and educated about the Constitution – what each section means, why it was included, and how we can best use it to maintain our democratic republic.

In my opinion, impeachment is intended to not only protect the nation from any individual action by a president – though there ar individual actions that should truly disqualify any person from holding that office – but more frequently, to determine that a series of actions show that the president simply cannot be trusted to not engage in future maladministration.

Enjoy this week, for we are both witnessing and participating in history.
H2O Man

Today's Hearing

While watching today's House of Representatives' impeachment hearings, I am reminded of one of Minister Malcolm X's most important teachings. Malcolm taught that if you place a clean glass of crystal clear water next to a filthy glass of sludge, you can trust a thirsty person to make the right choice. It is apparent that the Democrats have that sparkling glass of water next to the republicans' sludge.

A friend on this forum noted that some people will view the hearings through the filter of Fox News. That is true. The Fox filter will add more toxins to the sludge these people consume. However, by definition, they are not the thirsty people who will be thinking about the hearings.

Rather, they are but one of the three groups who will be paying attention to the hearings. Fox News viewers are a minority within the republican party. Later for them. Much later. Another of the three groups that support the impeachment and removal of Trump are a larger group. The hearings can only reinforce their views.

It's the third group – those who are undecided, or have no firm opinion – who make up the thirsty people that Malcolm spoke of. By watching coverage of the hearings, they will learn that the Trump administration's “shadow” operation in Ukraine was more corrupt than the public knew yesterday. Thus, I am confident that they will support impeaching Trump.

Texas Radio & the Big Beat

“I wanna tell you 'bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat
Comes out of the Virginia swamps
Cool and slow with deadly precision
With a back beat narrow and hard to master.”
– Jim Morrison

I'd like to discuss some people that I dislike, who are current or past inhabitants of the bowels of the Trump administration. Let's start with John Bolton. Like others of his ilk, he both favored the war in Vietnam, but figured out a way to avoid fighting in it. He is an old hand in DC, having worked for presidents Reagan, Bush 1 & 2, and most recently Trump. He has been a constant advocate for “regime change” in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and Yemen. He worked to get Rehnquist and Scalia on the Supreme Court. He participated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Thus, we can conclude two things: Bolton is a necro-conservative, and is no friend of the Democratic Party. But that does not mean that we cannot take pleasure in his emerging conflict with Donald Trump. As concerning as it was when he joined Trump's administration, there were hints of tensions between the two even before Bolton resigned. (Trump, of course, insisted he fired Bolton.)

From witness testimony before the House committees, we know that Bolton called Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade” that would blow up inside the administration. He referred to the Ukraine plot as a “drug deal.” Bolton originally said through his lawyer that he would testify if he received a subpoena; since then, his attorney has recommended that he seek a federal court ruling regarding Trump's effort to prevent his testimony.

In conversations between Bolton's lawyer and a House committee, several things are known. These go far beyond what others have testified to thus far. Included are Bolton's private conversations with Trump, which the White House attorney claims are protected by “privilege.” Because these discussions illegal activities that are impeachable, there is no privilege.

More, Bolton had a series of conversations with both Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper about the folly of the White House's Ukraine operation. Apparently, all three were aware of the dangers of such an operation, and attempted to convince Trump it would backfire on him. Pompeo waivered at important times, due to his lack of backbone. Clearly, the military aide to Ukraine was not released until two days after the administration learned the whistle-blower's concerns were going to be made public.

Despite the stumbling blocks that have been set in place to prevent Bolton from testifying, it is likely that he will be a witness in the public hearings before Thanksgiving.

Now, briefly, let's look at the book “A Warning” by “Anonymous.” The book was authored by the same person or persons that wrote the infamous op-ed that was published when Bob Woodward's book “Fear” was released. Thus, it is safe to assume that the author/authors were coordinating with Woodward, who has a long history of destabilizing administrations by way of combining intelligence and journalism.

Trump was furious when the op-ed was published, and attempted to identify the identity of its author. If a top White House person was personally communicating with the New York Times, it would have been uncovered. Thus, we can speculate that Woodward advised the author(s) to have a lawyer representing the author(s) handle the situation. So we need to think …..which White House person has a close relationship with a lawyer that the NY Times would recognize as being connected to what was going on inside the administration?

No spokesperson for Trump disagrees publicly with the president. So let's look closer. Why, for example, has “Mourning Joe” refused to have Kellyanne Conway on for over a year? If we were to look back to the 24 hours after her last appearance, we would find my essay telling about how, during commercial breaks, Kellyanne pretended to put her finger down her throat to induce vomiting, and spoke about how out-of-control Trump was. Joe and Mika were sorely offended, and decided to not allow her on their show again.

But, does Conway have any known contact with a lawyer who dislikes Trump, and who the NY Times would recognize as representing the interests of one or more people in the White House? Let's think …..hmmmm …..might George fit that description?

In it, the author(s) explain that a group of high-ranking officials considered resigning together in public protest of Trump's behaviors. Is it a stretch to consider the possibility that this same general group of cowards joined together to write the op-ed and now the book? Does one find any hint in where the profits from the book will go? Surely the White House would easily discover if one person had a significant bump in income from a book publisher showing up in their tax returns.

A single author might donate proceeds to a charity. A group of contributors might be more likely to donate the funds, rather than attempting to divide the money fairly. And a group effort to prevent Trump from finding out who has betrayed him could be more successful than an individual's effort. This would make sense within the context of a system where such a group had considered a mass resignation.

H2O Man

Positive Vibrations

"Oh, the mood in the White House is frightful
but the Democrats in the House are delightful!
Impeachment is on its way,
Let it flow! Let it flow! Let it flow!”

Nothing can possibly make this holiday season more delightful than the House of Representatives delivering articles of impeachment. Of course, there will be some sullen republicans declaring war on our holiday festivities, but that can only make it even more entertaining. They cannot destroy the holiday spirit of impeachment, try as they might.

The republicans in the Senate will recognize that they are caught between a large rock and a tiny hard-on in the White House in 2020. Republican House members will be less restrained by reality. Many of them believed that Trump would serve two full terms. Matt Gaetz dreams of singing praises to Trump on his final day, even hoping that a brief visit by Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office might convince Trump to serve a third term. The below film clip is taken straight from Gaetz's fantasy:

However, considering today's House vote, I think there will be other tunes being sung across the nation. Here are a couple of examples:

There is reason to celebrate this day. It marks the beginning of our Impeachment holiday. No place on the internet that I'd rather be! Yet, just as our democratic representatives in DC have a lot of hard work ahead of them, so do we. Nothing can be taken for granted, for as Spinoza said, “all noble things are as difficult as they are rare.”

We have two closely related struggles to engage in: the impeachment and conviction of Donald Trump, and the 2020 elections. Both require that we resolve to create a united front. This doesn't mean that there will be complete agreement on candidates in potential primaries for House and Senate seats, nor quite obviously for our presidential nominee. It would be foolish to think that was a realistic goal.

We can, however, recognize how uniquely important the 2020 elections are. Each of us has to determine for ourselves how far we are willing to go to insure victories. The best option is to focus on promoting the candidates you favor, to express why you back them. The worst is to attack another candidate from our party, for as history has shown, in doing so, you insult those who support that particular person. We need unity of purpose now, not divisions rooted in personality.

One last point on how important 2020 is – if a republican, be it Trump or Pence, wins in 2020, there is absolutely no chance that the DoJ will prosecute the numerous criminals in and around this administration. If we win, we can create jobs by opening a large new federal prison to house them in.

Okay, now that that's settled, let's go destroy the Trump administration.
H2O Man

What a Fool Believes

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” – Soren Kierkegaard

We all knew him in high school. His name changes, but his face and personality remain the same. He might have been in your grade, or one above or below you. But you knew a Francis Buxton, the type of shit that would steal Pee-wee Herman's bike. Like most rich kids, he believed he was of a superior status to others.

When Matt Gaetz, fresh from graduating from law school, was pulled over driving his daddy's BMW while drunk, he displayed his superior attitude by refusing to take a breathalyzer test. Like the brat that you knew in high school, he was treated “differently” by the legal system. For boys will be boys, especially if they are from the “good old boys” club.

It's important to remember that the republicans are the kids that you couldn't stand in school. That's especially true when communicating with them. And so I was happy today to get copies of some messages between a person in Florida and Gus Bilirakis, their elected representative. A person that we have in this congressman's office sent it on to our head of operations in Florida, who then sent it to me. We've been targeting this guy since 2018, as we believe that a scandal that will “drop” next fall will severely damage him when it's too late for his party to replace him on the ballot.

Gus has served in the House since he won a seat in 2006. He could be mistaken for Gaetz's older brother. Their world views and voting records are remarkable similar. They both express loyalty to Trump, rather than the Constitution. The sources of Gus's campaign contributors is of particular interest to me, but that's another story.

The woman who wrote to his office to advocate for impeaching Trump sounds like a Democrat to me. Her identity is unimportant, so I will not include it here. But I shall quote from her correspondence with Gus. As noted, her original letter was simply focused on the current Trump-Ukraine scandal, and her expressing her belief that Congress needed to put nation before party.

Gus responded to her by noting the Democrats had been engaged in efforts to damage Trump since he won the 2016 election. Below is but part of his response:

“Since the beginning of the 116th Congress, Democrats have been on a mission to overturn the 2016 election. The Mueller report demonstrated there was no Russian collusion or obstruction by President Trump, and now Democrats have jumped to their next partisan accusation. Instead of working on legislating effective solutions for the American people, Democrats continue to pander to their base. The fact that Speaker Pelosi called for an impeachment inquiry even before the transcript between President Trump and the President Zelenskyy of Ukraine was released, demonstrates their willingness to disregard reason and fact. 
“President Trump’s willingness to be open and transparent by immediately releasing the transcript proves he did nothing wrong. President Trump made no threats and offered no “quid pro quo” tying President Zelenskyy’s revival of the Biden-related investigation to U.S. aid to Ukraine. Once again Democrats are smearing the President for political gain and dividing our great nation. 
“The founders did not contemplate the impeachment process as a tool to engage in partisan gamesmanship. If members of the House and Senate vote to impeach a president simply because they oppose his policies, this will set a bad precedent for future congresses and undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process.
“As your Representative, I am committed to the ideals of smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. President Trump has been an ally in this mission. He has kept his campaign promises by lowering taxes, growing the economy, bringing unemployment down to historic lows, making our military the best in the world, and securing our borders. With President Trump in the White House, my House colleagues and I were able to improve healthcare access to our Veterans, combat the opioid crisis, and lower prescription drug prices. I firmly believe that Congress and the White House should work to effectively enact laws that will benefit all Americans without partisan poison pills.”

He ended with a promise to keep her support of Trump in mind while he worked with republicans to save Trump's ass. The lady's response was outstanding. Our contact in Gus's office has shared it with the staff of several other republican congressmen who are undecided about if it is safer to support or dump Trump. I think that you will enjoy it, as there is no need to read between the lines to determine if she supports Trump:

“Mr. Bilirakis,

“I can see where you're heading.  Democrats (myself included) are not interested on overturning 2016.  That's a lie, plain and simple.  But you do know that right?  We are interested in protecting the United States Constitution, which trump completely disregards and apparently so do you.  Did you even look to see what my party affiliation was before you sent this irrational missive?

“Trump is not "willing to be open and transparent".  He's stonewalling every subpoena or request for information.  He has never turned over the complete Mueller investigation report.  Just the whitewashed Barr version which was damning enough.  He is not an exceptional leader -- seriously?  What color is the sky in your world?  He's a danger to national security.  The worst danger this country has ever faced.  That is why he is being impeached.   But you know that.  Why did you send me an email full of lies?

“I do not support trump's policies and practices.  I find him repulsive personally and professionally.  I haven't been able to find a single redeeming quality in him and believe me I've tried.

“Your entire email is insulting and disingenuous.  You do NOT represent me.  I am ashamed of you.  If you had a modicum of good sense you would be ashamed of yourself.  But since you're promoting trump's deplorable agenda you probably don't have much sense, do you?  Either that or you think I am stupid.  Or perhaps you are a fantasist who actually believes what you wrote below.  What an awful thought.  If so please seek psychiatric help asap. 

“Please NEVER write to me again.  I'm going to do my best to forget your name and the unfortunate fact that you are/were my representative.      

“Please do share my thoughts with your colleagues.  That should be good for a laugh.”

Ignoring her request that he not contact her again, poor Gus wrote:

“Thank you for contacting me to share your support for impeaching President Donald Trump. I appreciate hearing from you.
“First and foremost, allow me to sincerely apologize for the mistake made in the letter sent to you in response to the impeachment inquiry into the President. At the time your letter arrived, I was also receiving numerous letters from those who were writing in with different views on the inquiry. Your letter was inadvertently sorted into this group of mail. While I pay very close attention to the mail I receive, when I receive hundreds of letters a week, sometimes over three thousand letters in a busy week, it is possible for mistakes to occur. Nevertheless, I appreciate you contacting me regarding this important issue and I hope to hear from you in the future as well”

Her simple response was classic:

“So when Republicans write to you, you lie to them.  But when a Democrat writes to you, you prevaricate.  Nice. “

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I do. Updates to come.

H2O Man

"Imagine, if you will ....."

Imagine, if you will, getting a phone call from a long-time associate in all things political. It is hard to understand what he is talking about at first, because he cannot stop from laughing. It's late at night, you were half-asleep, and at first you wonder what is going on. And then even more laughing, before he finally says he just got off the phone after a long call from an attorney from the capital.

There were apparently numerous informal meeting involving staff from various republican representatives yesterday evening. They recognized that William Taylor's testimony had severely damaged Donald Trump, as well as his enablers. They know that having Barr as Attorney General is the only thing that stands between a number of those enablers and a prison cell. They understand that a damaged Trump, even if the Senate does not convict him, will be a ball & chain on many republicans, and thus a threat to their current comfortable positions.

I can't say with any certainty what was discussed in all of these group huddles, but I would like to focus on one. For sake of conversation – and perhaps exact accuracy – let's focus our attention on one such meeting, run by a top aide to an especially obnoxious republican. I think most people here would agree that Matt Gaetz is an especially obnoxious republican, with no apologies to anyone who likes him.

Due to the significance of such a meeting, it could not be held in one of the bars that others were meeting at to sooth their sorrows. Yet the alcohol at this private meeting was flowing. It should come as no surprise that Matt Gaetz's aide is almost as repulsive as the congressman. At least one of the others there thinks to himself that the guy is doing an embarrassing imitation of Gaetz.

Pseudo-Gaetz notes that those at risk from the impeachment investigation are not limited to people in the administration. There are more than a few republicans who had dealings with Rudy Giuliani's “team.” If the Democrats win the White House in 2020, it will upset their apple cart. Thus, the aide outlines his updated, multi-layered plan to attack the Democratic Party.

They must first, of course, attempt to stir the base. Get them fired up and angry that the “corruption” that Trump insisted needed to be investigated in Ukraine was being ignored by the “lame street media.” When someone asks if these haven't been proven to be nonsense, the aide replies that there is no way to prove these are false. The heads of the staff of the far right-wing congressmen nod in agreement. “We can build off that,” one says.

Besides getting the base to flood social media with outrage, they must have trusted people infiltrate an disrupt the Democratic Party. This includes on social media, and if possible, placing spies within various campaigns.”Sounds like a blend of Nixon's rat-fuckers and 2016,” says another. “Right!,” psuedo-Gaetz replied. “We focus on dividing them with hostility.”

Part of the group engages in talk about using rumors that the “Democratic establishment” is unhappy with the current group of presidential candidates, and is pressuring a couple “establishment” regulars to enter the race. Pseudo-Gaetz states that if this actually were to happen, it would shatter any unified attempt to defeat Trump. In fact, he says, it could cause one or two to run as a third party ticket, allowing Trump to win both the electoral college and popular vote. “We don't need any Russians to help with this,” psuedo-Gaetz notes. “We just have to have a core of volunteers focused on injecting righteous indignation into as many Democratic campaigns between now and 2020, and we can take back the House.”

After the meeting ends, one of the congressional aides ventured to one of the bars that is popular with those inhabiting circles in and around government. By the time he is half-way through his second drink there, two things become apparent to those around him. First, he is slamming alcohol down in a manner that could not be mistaken for “social drinking.” And second, he had confused the others near him for a sympathetic group. He began to complain about the great difficulties he faces daily with those who support Trump over the republican party.

On his third drink, he says that although almost half of those at the meeting are uncomfortable with what had been discussed, not one of them had spoken up. An attorney asked him if he had spoken up? “No.” Why not, she asks? “Because we know that the president is like a highly disturbed teenager, nursing his guns while he stews about how much he hates his classmate. You don't want him to come looking for you.”

H2 Omen

PS: When you watch the news about Gaetz today, keep in mind that he believes he will become president after Trump in 2024. Ass-clown.


“When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition aint the way”

Stevie Wonder

I find it odd that anyone – from dirt poor to billionaire – could still support Donald Trump in any way. There are a few who I know from my high school graduating class that are at least willing to suspend the Democrat versus republican context, however briefly, to at least consider this in terms of the Constitution. But they are the tip of the ice cube.

The nephew of a classmate who was logging a few trees from my property gets it. He told me that he had voted for Trump, because he had believed “he was just like us.” Now he knows better. I asked him if he thought that Trump had ever, in his life, worked as hard as the logger had today? “I guess my dad forgot to give me $400 million,” he answered. Yet that hasn't clicked in most Trump voters' minds.

I wondered why? What would it take? Is it even possible?

The first resource I looked to was an old favorite, “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyam (Random House; 1992). Obviously, I have a limited understanding of this or any of Sagan's works, but they always get me thinking.

I like their comparing humans to “a newborn baby left on the doorstep, with no note explaining who it is, where it comes from, what hereditary cargo of attributes and disabilities it might be carrying, or who its antecedents might be.”

In this instance, it is about these questions they raise: “How did we get into this mess? How can we get out? Why are we so quick to distrust those different from ourselves, so given to unquestioning obedience to authority?”

I think from long ago, “modern” humans and some of our cousins were superstitious. They were using the new front of their brains to make sense of life. This combined with another part of the brain, closer to the stem, that seems to compel ritual. Prehistoric human beings seem to have engaged in hunting rituals, for example, that may seem quaint today. But they were an important part of the human experience, and in trying to exist within their environment. And these are not that different than some of the things people do today.

Many athletes have “lucky” socks or some other item of clothing. I have relatives who have lucky golf balls. As a youth, I had a favorite pair of boxing trunks that I associated with being unbeatable. At least I did until fighting a guy who was not a true believer, and who beat the hell out of me. Darned him.

These are examples of how human beings often look outside of themselves for “power.” This, of course, ties in with the concept in psychology of “locus of control.” An internal locus of control means that a person believes that they can exert a significant influence on how their life goes. An external locus of control means a person believes that outside forces control their lives. The majority of people fall somewhere in between on this spectrum. They recognize there are things they can control, as well as things beyond their ability to influence.

Now, let's consider this concept in an expansive manner that includes examining what we might call the religious and spiritual rituals that human-kind has been practicing since agriculture became a primary source for food for the community. This allowed groups of people to live in settled locations for extended periods of time, and as these groups became larger, created social stratification at levels greater than previous community life had. For example, this led to what is known as priesthoods, where rituals included a separation between the individual and the energies of life that was filled by the priesthood. This, of course, is by definition the creation of a mass external locus of control within the community. Even today, we witness people who believe that “eternity” comes after death, rather than understanding that we share in the eternal “Now” right here, right now …..for it has always been “Now,” is currently “Now,” and always will be “Now.” An internal locus of control allows one to recognize, for lack of better word, the miracle of participation in the eternal “Now.”

The same external locus of control allows for the separation between the individual and government. In a healthy society, that participation found in the internal locus of control is evident in democracy. It's not that true democracies do not experience and struggle with human and non-human problematic issues. Of course they do. But they do not contain large numbers of people who believe in things that they don't understand – which always and only results in masses of people believing that some heroic figure – be it a politician or god – will come to their rescue. Someone who will do for them what they are fully capable of doing for themselves. (A true “leader” does for those unable to do it for themselves.)

Now, let's toss in rituals. Professional, college, high school, and neighborhood sports are good exampples of social rituals. We are seeing an increase in violence in many of these contest, especially within the crowds that are watching them. There is hostility between the fans of opposing teams. This leads to fights, from within high school bleachers, to outside of stadium parking lots. There are behaviors associated with riots in cities where teams win national titles.

Now, I am a simple-minded man, incapable of deep thought. I tend to play one-dimensional solitaire. But I think that much or all of this can be accurately applied to “politics” today. There are two obvious teams, and there are sub-teams within each. Billionaire republicans do not view themselves as on the same team as poor white trash. Yet that poor white trash believes in their heart of hearts that they have more in common with those billionaires than with poor Democrats, especially those who are not white. Thus, they are easily exploited. The billionaires capitalize on their ignorance.

At it's best, the Democratic Party is an alliance of many different sub-groups, that are united based upon common interests. That does not imply we all have the same life experiences, beliefs, and values. But we find things in common. Men and women are different, thank goodness. Black, brown, red, yellow and white people have some different experiences, but have the capacity to find common ground. Wealthy Democrats live very different lives than poor Democrats, yet they share many experiences.

There are tensions within our party. A great example was found when a young, poor, brown woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenged the old, wealthy, white man named Joseph Crowley in the 2018 primary. One doesn't need to look to the current rage that republicans aim at AOC …..re-read some of the discussions from DU at the time. Plenty of Democrats used to argue that she was too young, too “left,” and had no business challenging the established office-holder. The negative ritual of “party politics” came into play. Today, we see that AOC not only didn't “hurt” our party, but has instead improved it in numerous ways.

As we approach the 2020 elections, which includes contest ranging from presidential to the House and Senate to state and local offices – as well as primaries and general elections – it's important to remember that no single sub-group within the party has all the answers. We should not allow ourselves to be offended by those who think differently than ourselves. You might be in the Joe Crowley camp, or the AOC camp, but we should be on the same team. And we should remember that a logger works a lot harder for a lot less than a Donald Trump.

H2O Man

RIP Elijah Cummings

“I myself have no power. It's the people behind me who have the power. Real power comes only from the Creator. It's in His hands. But if you're asking me about strength, not power, then I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness..”
Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah

Like many people, after seeing reports on advances the Democratic Party has been making towards holding Donald Trump accountable for his criminal behaviors, I've been in a generally good mood about domestic politics. I loved watching our candidates debate this week. The events in Syria have been horrible, of course, and is a constant reminder of the horrors of Trump's foreign policies.

Then I woke up to the news that one of the people I respect the most, Elijah Cummings, has died. Although I never met him, or had the pleasure of talking with him, I have enjoyed the opportunity to listen to him speak, and to watch him provide our nation with what I consider to be the highest form of true leadership. Indeed, he reminded me of Leon, a man I knew as “Uncle,” and that I still treasure the many hours I was able to spend with. Both were true Gentle Men.

It's a cold, rainy day here in upstate New York. Still, my dogs wanted to go for their daily walks. I found myself thinking how much we need Rep. Cummings' leadership at this difficult time in our nation's history as I walked Kelly down my driveway, across the street, and then down the old dirt road. It had been part of the second turnpike heading towards Ithaca after the Revolutionary War. A man who had been friends and business partners with Aaron Burr had been hired to create a route from what had been the “western front” into the territory the United States was taking from Leon's ancestors. Those were “the best and worst of times,” I suppose. It always is.

We walked along the creek to a spot where, in the early-to-mid 1800s, a cloth & carding factory had been. There has been so much rain that unless you knew they were there, you could hardly notice the waterfalls that powered the old factory. Daniel Dickenson, who would become a U.S. Senator of some note, worked there as a teenager. He would a eventually marry the daughter of Dr. Colby Knapp, who had lived in what is now my home. Dr. Knapp was an abolitionist when being one wasn't popular in these parts. Local history records that he and Daniel had heated debates on this issue right up until the beginnings of the Civil War. Eventually, the gentle strength of Dr. Knapp convinced the Senator that slavery was evil, and had to be stoppe. In the summer months, I like to tend to Dr. Knapp's grave, which had been hidden by plant growth when I moved here.

It's hard enough for me to keep pace with Kelly on a smooth, flat road. Walking on an old turnpike – with its 90 degree curves to assist horses pulling stage coaches up or down a mountain – is even harder. And then he decides to follow some stray scent along a deer path in the woods. I find myself thinking of how Burr's friend followed the Iroquois' woodland paths while making the turnpike. The Iroquois, in turn, had followed deer paths. It strikes me as funny, because last night I had a long conversation with my daughter about getting in shape for athletic competition, and telling her it was important to study how deer covered the greatest distance the fastest.

By now, I was soaking wet, and Kelly was ready to head back home. I believe that we both agreed that the mountain that the turnpike travels towards our home is much steeper when walking up it. We finally reach the house, and by the time I've put on dry clothes, Kelly is fast asleep. So I take the opportunity to get on the computer. The first thing I see is a letter from my Little Sister, who asks, “I wonder how we can pay tribute” to Rep. Cummings?

I wish I knew “the answer.” I don't. As close as I can come to it right now is to say that we can honor him by carrying on the Good Fight that he was leading. I think of Dr. King's powerful message about our getting to the mountain's top without him, and I believe Elijah Cummings was leading us up that difficult trail. Perhaps the best way to honor him is to follow his lead.

H2O Man
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