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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
December 22, 2015

Trump-Tube Babies

(UPS) Attorneys for republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filed papers in the on-going law suit against comedian Bill Maher yesterday. The suit, originally filed in 2013, seeks damages after Maher, appearing on Jay Leno’s show, reputedly claimed that “perhaps” Trump is the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”

According to a potentially explosive new DNA study submitted under sealed file to the federal court in Los Paranois, social scientists from the Water Man Foundation have concluded that Trump is related to neither his mother, nor the orangutan she had sexual relations with in the year prior to Donald Trump’s birth. “I have concluded that Donald Trump was produced by ‘orange aliens,’ who spliced the original film clip of Richard Nixon delivering his infamous ‘Checkers” speech, combined with the residue from Mel Gibson’s ‘blood-alcohol’ test, from the night of his most recent black-out racist rant,” the head of the Water Man Foundation told UPS.

RNC chair Rancid Previous declined to comment on if this new scientific evidence could potentially deny Donald Trump the right to run for the presidency. “Richard Nixon is looking like a pretty good alternative for the republican party these days,” Previous stated. “And Mel Gibson speaks for a huge number of republicans.”

December 20, 2015

The Democratic Primary

I thoroughly enjoyed watching last night’s Democratic debate. It should be evident to every rational, objective person that each of our three candidates are far superior to any and all of the republican party’s candidates. Yet, there are no requirements for potential voters to be rational; hence, as the republicans appeal to the irrational fears of the public, it is important that we appeal to people’s better natures.

Malcolm X taught that in presenting a choice to people, it was not necessary to tell them what to think. Rather, he said that if one places a clean glass of water next to a glass of sludge, a thirsty public could be trusted to make the correct choice. I also found myself thinking of an similar saying from my good friend Rubin ….that the difference between the Democratic and republican candidates is the same as the difference between sugar and shit.

I will support whichever of the three that the Democratic Party nominates in the 2016 general election. I recognize that each of the three offers different strengths, and weaknesses. There is no such thing as a “perfect candidate.” Each of the three’s ability to work with Congress is an issue to be considered -- especially if the republicans in the House and Senate are able to prevent the next president from being effective. There is simply no question that this has been the primary republican objective during the Obama administration.

There is no reason -- none -- to believe that the republicans in Washington will magically change, and be willing to cooperate with Democrats in the House, Senate, and/or White House. Indeed, consider their eagerness to undercut President Obama on issues involving military conflict in foreign lands, which was up until recent times considered part of statesmanship. Then think about the leading republican candidates in their primary contest. This in not an election that can be considered a contest involving “the lesser of two evils.”

I am not as familiar with Martin O’Malley, as with the other two. But he has impressed me as a decent, sincere individual every time that I’ve listened to him. I would be pleased to have him serve as President of the United States. I can also see him as a solid Vice President, in a time when the responsibilities of that office have expanded greatly. The more I learn about him, the more favorably impressed I am. And I especially enjoyed his presentation in last night’s debate.

I’ve held a high opinion of Bernie Sanders, since meeting him back before he went to Washington. I particularly like his ideas on domestic economic policy. I recognize the value of his inspiring college students to become active participants in the political system. In my opinion, his appeal is distinct from that of a couple candidates that I liked in my youth, Gene McCarthy and George McGovern. I am much more reminded of the reaction to, and the potential that Senator Robert Kennedy offered this country, in his brief presidential primary run.

I invested both time and money both of Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for Senate in my state. I was able to meet her on the day that she first announced her candidacy. A few years later, I had the pleasure of meeting her for a longer time, away from any crowd of people. In last night’s debate, I thought she came across much more like the lady who had really impressed me in the small, casual setting. I think that it is worth people’s time to read her 2014 book, “Hard Choices,” because I think it provides a more accurate view of her, than people may get from her presentations on the campaign trail.

No candidate is without flaws. More, no campaign is without contributions from supporters who can be at times offensive. That can include people who are working closely with the campaign, or simply someone advocating for them on an internet site. The higher the emotional intensity of the campaign, the more likely people are to both offend, and be offended. Being an imperfect human being myself, I am aware that I have both offended and been offended numerous times over the many decades that I’ve worked on campaigns, and discussed them on the internet.

I’m attempting to hold myself to a higher standard in the 2016 contests, including the presidential campaign. In part, this is because I believe that people -- myself included -- should attempt to be better, and thus do better, throughout life. While I am not foolish enough to think that I will not make mistakes, I am going to try my best.

But, more importantly, as an aging person who cares deeply about the future, I am fully convinced that there is a negative force gathering strength in America ….an entirely human force, with the ugly passions of anger, hostility, and hatred, that is increasing in energy. And, while I know that clowns like Cruz and Trump do not control that negative energy, they are surely riding its wave.

In order to combat that aggressively hateful republican wave, we need to harness the goodness within our party. And that simply cannot be limited to one candidate, or one campaign.

I normally do not post in DU:GD-P -- indeed, I very rarely read anything posted in this forum -- not because it is all “bad” …..but because far too many of its participants engage in the type of arguing that includes insults, cheap shots, and hostility. I’m sure that there are good OP/discussions here, advocating for each of the three candidates. But there are also people who compulsively -- and repulsively -- attempt to stain such discussions, much like a nasty Chihuahua, peeing on the furniture.

I do not believe that we have that luxury now. It’s important that we invest our energies in fighting the Good Fight.

-- H2O Man

December 19, 2015


I would like to take a minute to express my concerns with the potentially damaging effect of the recent “controversial” action by the Democratic National Committee chairperson, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I am writing this for GD U for several important reasons: first, I am in no sense intending to comment upon, nor discuss, the Democratic presidential primary; second, the DNC plays an important role in the party at virtually all levels -- national, state, and local; third, I believe that Ms. Wasserman Schultz may unintentionally be engaged in an action that has the potential to divide the party, and thus harm our ability to elect candidates in important elections.

The divides that are already found within the Democratic Party can, in my opinion, be viewed in at least two ways. The first, which I subscribe to, is that a certain amount of tension within the party can be a positive thing, if handled correctly. The opposite of that is when differences of opinion result in ugly in-fighting, insults, hurt feelings, and mistrust ….and these most often lead to a failure to be able to coordinate efforts. That coordination of efforts should, in theory, benefit all party members, for it is the give-and-take that victory requires. The failure to coordinate has always resulted in failure in elections.

I say this, as a person who has been a registered Democrat, since I was able to register to vote. I have voted in literally all the elections -- primaries and general; local, state, and national -- since the day I registered. In every instance that one (or more) democratic candidates have been on the ballot, I have voted Democrat. In rural, upstate New York, there are numerous village, town, and county contest where only republican and third-party candidates run; in these, obviously, voting “democrat” is not an option.

As the handful of DU community members that pays attention to my posts here knows, I have long taken an interest in uniting the local Democratic Party with non-registered Democrats who belong to the Democratic Left. In recent years, on the local level, doing so has allowed me to run a significant number of campaigns for town and county offices, and winning 90% of the time. My ability to accomplish this rate of victories has won me the attention of a few national figures, in the past fifteen years. I do not say that “bragging” -- I just hate to lose, and I believe that I have a pretty fair idea how to win elections -- even in a region that is highly republican. Indeed, there are actually more “independent” voters in my area, than Democrats.

The Democratic Party includes a wide range of good people -- in terms of “politics,” some are conservative Democrats, some are moderates, some are liberals, and some are progressives. Those definitions, in my experience, mean very different things at the local and national levels. The people who describe themselves as liberal and/or progressive in Washington, DC, are very different from my friends in rural, upstate New York. Yet, despite the differences, it is important that we recognize that we have Common Ground available to all of us. And I am not playing, when I say that this Common Ground provides the greatest safety to all of us, in a very dangerous time.

I’ve never subscribed to the theology of voting “for the lesser of two evils.” In the larger reality, I know that this is not the only option available to us. Indeed, I have never respected those who advocate this weak shit as a serious reason to support a given candidate.

Yet, again as the few who read my essays here know, I am convinced that our nation is confronted with some of the greatest threats that humanity has ever faced. I am willing to acknowledge that my spiritual belief system influences my thinking on this socio-political conflict. It’s not that I attribute any individual significance to what I view as pathetic, weak human beings such as a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz. No! These are mere shells of human beings!

Rather, I recognize the crowds that assign their hatred to such candidates. It is the “crowd” that poses the real danger. Obviously, I am very far from alone in warning of this danger. Others have pointed out, for example, that history doesn’t “repeat” -- but that human beings sure as hell do! And human history provides so very many examples of when people have failed to take steps towards progress ….and when the results have been, well, as terrible as if republicand gained full control of government in 2016.

I am sure that at least a few forum members support Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent action. The DU:GD- Primaries forum shows that the republicans do not have a monopoly on anger and hatred. But, tonight, I speak to you as human beings, members of the larger community of people in the United States. I do not care -- nor d I think it is important -- what candidate you support in any of the up-coming elections. Even if your value system id different than my own …..even if your agenda and goals are distinct from my own …… I believe whole-heartedly that we are on DU:GD at this time for similar reasons, in the larger sense. And that includes winning as many contests -- local, state, and national -- as possible in 2016.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent action threatens to divide our party, at a time we can not afford that division. Wasserman Shultz’s actions threaten ro divide the loyalties of good, sincere, solidly Democratic voters, at the very time that we can least afford it, Thus, I am asking all people of good will tio contact the DNC, and ask them to act immediately on an issue that threatens not only our Democratic Party -- but our entire nation.

The DNC asks for our support -- our time, our money, and our votes. It is time we ask for them to take steps required to unite our party.

Is that too much to ask?

H2O Man

December 18, 2015

Mutant Conservatives vs The Future

Earlier this week, I picked up my daughter after her last final test at college. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet my children’s friends, and as this was my youngest child’s first semester at college, I’m just getting to know her circle of buddies. As they are, as a group, dedicated to attending every class, completing every assignment, and earning top grades, these were not the type of students that I associated with, back when I was a young college student. What impresses me the most is that in their “spare” time, they are all volunteers in social programs in the community -- investing time with both children and the elderly -- and also actively involved in organizing for the Democratic Party on campus (and coordinating efforts with like-minded college students state-wide).

(Note: I was actively involved in “radical” politics at her age. These frequently did not allow me the time required to attend classes. However, I recall one of the times when I was in a sociology class, the professor told the class that, “We have a celebrity here today.” I was as curious as anyone what he was talking about. He noted that the FBI was on campus that day, attempting to stop a student fund-raiser for the legal defense of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. He then asked if I would mind sharing how I had become associated with the case.)

On the ride home, we discussed her plans for upcoming semesters. When she returns in January, she will be spending half of the semester at Cornell, which I think is pretty darned cool. And after that, she’ll be doing a year in Ireland. As a parent, it’s great to see my children both being and doing better than I was at their ages.

She mentioned that she had been speaking with friends from back when she was in high school. These included some from her own school, and others she had become friends with in various conferences, etc. All of these young ladies share a very deep concern for the future of this country. They are particularly concerned with two republican presidential candidate -- Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- and their supporters. One of them that I had met had spent the summer working for the Hillary Clinton campaign (she had e-mailed me a number of photos of herself with Ms. Clinton!), but who now supports Bernie Sanders, is currently in Europe, where she is studying “environmental politics.” She told my daughter that, if either Trump or Cruz were to win next November’s election, she plans to move to Europe.

My daughter asked me if Trump or Cruz did win, would I seriously consider moving to Ireland? This both surprised and upset me. The United States is supposed to be the country that people want to come to, not to flee from. But, for some of the brightest college students, the idea of leaving this country has become a serious consideration. My daughter reminded me of how, a few years back, Rubin had talked to us about re-locating to Canada: in part, to allow us to work closer together; in part, because as he said to us, people around the globe recognized that the empire was crumbling from within, and thus posed serious dangers to the civilized world. My daughter had been paying attention, even as a child.

She said that she and her friends could understand Trump’s appeal to a select group of citizens: he offered shallow, emotional bumper-sticker solutions to “stupid” people. They recognize that the Trump supporters are motivated by feelings that their security was at risk, that they had little to no control over their lives, and they wanted a comic book savior. But they couldn’t identify Cruz’s appeal: he appeared to be supported by people who favor a constitutional government. That would seem to suggest that they were more intelligent and insightful than the Trump supporters. Yet, she and her friends saw Cruz as a vile, repulsive specimen -- “greasy,” and not to be trusted. What did I think of him, she asked?

I said that I was confident that the more they learned about him, the more it would confirm their first impressions. I think that Cruz is intelligent, and has studied the Constitution and constitutional law. This combination explains his appeal to those who seek a constitutional justification for their prejudices and hatreds of “others” -- as opposed to the Trump crowd, who need no excuses to seek to destroy that which they fear.

Yet, Cruz’s “insights” on the Constitution should not be mistaken for true respect for it. Indeed, in 2000, Cruz was central in organizing the Bush-Cheney legal team -- and played a major role in preparing the Bush v Gore case for the US Supreme Court. Indeed, it was Cruz who recruited John Roberts to their team for that case. Far from being devoted to constitutional rule, I said, this shows that Cruz would exploit the political nature of the USSC to advance his own agenda -- including when his agenda went against the expressed will of the American people and the rule of law.

She asked how I would sum up Cruz’s agenda? Was he, for example, a neoconservative? I asked her if she and her friends thought he was a neoconservative? In some ways, she said, but not in others. I agreed. Sometimes, people do not fall within this type of identity. In my opinion, I said, Cruz was a mutant: partly neoconservative, partly pale conservative. And fully dangerous. He would shut the federal government down, in a bratty attempt to advance his agenda.

The only positive thing I could tell her about Cruz was that, in the Bush-Cheney administration, he had been moved between positions, as an associate deputy attorney general, to the US FTC, and as a “roving” advisor to the president …..because no one could stand working with him. I noted that Bush, Cheney, and Karl Rove all found his personality toxic: he was such an arrogant, obnoxious, flaming asshole that they eventually pushed him out.

Ireland, my daughter told me, was sounding more and more appealing.

December 16, 2015

Flowers for Jeb

“How long is it going to hurt?”
-- Jeb Bush

Last month, at a time when I was desperate for new reading material, I bought an “on sale” copy of Jon Meacham’s book, “The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush: Destiny and Power.” I thought this would, if nothing else, add to the “presidential wing” of my library.

In a literal sense, the book is fiction: the author is so intent upon kissing the Elder’s ass that he avoids most of the unpleasant aspects of Bush’s career. More, Meacham attempts to present Bush’s offspring -- primarily W. and Jeb -- as decent human beings. Kevin Phillips’ book, “American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush” is far superior.

Yet, even a bad book can contain something of value. Meacham tells of how the Elder and his wife, the Babylonian Swine, backed their sons’ political careers. This includes, of course, the night that W. was elected governor in Texas, and Jeb was humiliated in Florida.

While George W. Bush is giddy in celebration of his victory, the Swine shares a moment alone with the son she had expected to be successful in politics. He asks her, “How long is it going to hurt?” I suspect that he is experiencing this same emotional turmoil, as his “inevitable” run for the presidency has become an extended humiliation.

December 15, 2015

Mid-Night Essay

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you
Cannot visit, even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them
Like you,
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows
Are sent forth.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
-- Kahlil Gibran

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since the horrors of the Sandy Hook elementary school, in Connecticut. It is really a shame that children have to worry about outbreaks of violence in schools. Or, their communities. Or homes.

This makes me think about children around the world, and how for many of them, high levels of violence have been occurring for decades. Even generations. And what impact all that horror has upon the survivors’ lives.

I think about how angry many adults become, after some of these terrible events, where they are ready, even eager, to send other people’s young adult children to distant lands, to kill or be killed. Even after most military leaders note that ISIS, for example, cannot simply be defeated by violence. Yet no “leaders” speak about what, other than violence, is required.

Many people recognize that no innocent people should be exposed to terrible violence, especially not children. Yet again, few “leaders” speak of non-violent dispute resolution -- and those few who do, are viewed as “unrealistic” or “weak.” As if there is anything “realistic” about trying to destroy an ideology of violent hatred with more violent hatred.

I think of Senator Robert Kennedy’s favorite Albert Camus quote, which in so many ways sums up Kennedy’s 1968 run for the presidency:

“We are faced with evil. I feel rather like Augustine did before becoming a Christian when he said, ‘I tried to find the source of evil and I got nowhere. But it is also true that I and a few others knew what must be done if not to reduce evil at least not to add to it.’ Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you believers don’t help us, who else in this world can help us do this?”

Tonight, many of us will be watching the republican debates for their party’s nomination for president. How very different it will be from RFK’s 1968 campaign message. The nonsense that will be spouted from these candidates is not the source of all evil, of course; rather, it is a byproduct of generations of it, one that continues the cycle by planting seeds of hatred. Yet, Americans will watch both the debate, and the news cycles that follow.

Maybe our culture should listen to children. Perhaps it is no coincidence that enlightened people throughout history have noted that true wisdom comes from the mouths of little children. Or that those societies that place the greatest value on children reach a higher status than those who do not.

December 12, 2015

The Trial & My Cousin

Greeting, DU Community:

In the 14 months since an off-duty cop shot my cousin and his son, in a tragic incident sparked by road rage, the DU community has provided me with a great deal of support and assistance. You have: allowed me to vent; communicated much-appreciated humanity; and participated in a campaign to let the District Attorney and County Court Judge know that “bail” was not an acceptable option in this case.

I have attempted to keep people updated on events relating to the upcoming trial. We had originally anticipated it would take place in the fall of this year. Then, it was moved back to January of 2016. And now, I’ve been informed that it will likely begin in April of 2016.

Court systems, like all bureaucracies, move at their own pace. This creates a bit of stress for my cousin, who wants to get it over with. But as I’m familiar with “the system,” I’m able to keep things on track on our side. When the thug came up with his second and third official version of that day’s events -- each sworn to, each distinct -- it upsets my cousin. I remind him that, when one tells the truth, they need only to remember and tell the same story; but when one tells numerous lies, they have to keep track of all of them.

This coming week, I will be delivering a packet of documents to the District Attorney, which includes yet another statement -- signed by the murderer -- that has not yet been seen by the prosecution. It will help to convict the thug. In fact, when the defense attorney learns of it, I suspect that it might make “copping a plea” deal seem like a better alternative, than going to trial.

I certainly have appreciated all the support from the DU community. I shall continue to keep you up-dated, as the trial approaches.

H2O Man

December 12, 2015

On Scalia & Trump

In the past week, I’ve put up a couple of O.P.s, that focused on the potential for our federal government to totally disconnect with the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, the citizens of the United States should recognize and reject the tendency of individuals in the government to bend, or go against, the Constitution. We should not allow that document to become a parched piece of ancient history, hidden in the vault of some museum.

Today on both CNN and MSNBC, I’ve watched -- and listened to -- reports that included Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s highly offensive position on black university students. It was as if Scalia took offense to Donald Trump’s setting the bar low, as far as being the worst horse’s ass in America today, and Scalia sought to reclaim that title. However, it is worse than that: this provides evidence of exactly how a majority of the 1% view this nation’s people. Rather than “competition,” this is the coordinated agenda of the worst enemies of America.

In 2004, former Nixon White House theorist Kevin Phillips published, “American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush” (Penguin). On pages 107-108, Phillips addressed some of the connections between Scalia and the Bush family. This included a quote from the 5-justice majority decision on December 11, 2000, that put Bush-Cheney in office: “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for President of the United States ….”

Scalia takes pride in believing he is the Master of Original Intent. In a sick sort of way, he is: in large part, the original Constitution provided for a republic, to benefit the “enlightened few” -- with that club being restricted to wealthy, educated white men. It wasn’t until the early 1800s, that the nation became a constitutional democracy -- with some structures of a republic firmly in place. A person need study no more than about how common citizens began to vote for Senators, to get a historical grasp of the tensions between groups of wealthy, educated white men. Or, simply consider the Bill of Rights.

Individuals, organizations, states, and even the US government attempted to deny various groups of citizens their constitutional rights, ever since that powerful Bill of Rights was enacted. Even the US Supreme Court has ruled against groups and individual citizens, far too often. On the other hand, the Court has been consistent in upholding the rights of wealthy, educated, “straight” white men over the centuries. In recent times, they’ve even upheld the “rights” of corporations.

Scalia provides a unique window into which we can see the cold, less-than-human heart of the 1%. Few quotes grant us access to their actual beliefs than the following, from Kevin Phillips’ book:

“Part of Scalia’s objection to democracy, amplified a year later, was that it got in the way of a return to an eighteenth-century interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Speaking at the January 2002 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, he opined that as written, the Constitution reflected natural or divinely inspired law that the state was an instrument of God. ‘That consensus has been upset,’ he said, ‘by the emergence of democracy.’ He added that ‘the reactions of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it but resolution to combat it as effectively as possible’.”

It would be easy to think that Scalia merely represents the extreme right-wing of one political party; yet, his position is supposed to be nonpartisan. Rather, he is one of the most powerful people in American society, where he believes his noble obligation is to channel the divinity of the 1%. And that, as the most recent comments on affirmative action confirm, includes a “resolution to combat ….as effectively as possible” efforts by the 99% to be active, equal members of society.

No one argues that “affirmative action” in 2015 is a flawless approach to righting historic wrongs. Yet, no one has proposed a more effective and fair approach, Of all the problems facing public education, affirmative action is hardly among the most pressing. When more young black men are being caught up in the criminal justice system, than being enrolled in college, it should be clear that affirmative action still has a significant role in today’s social reality.

Just as with the “Founding Fathers” -- a relatively small group, which contained diverse thinking -- there is a wide range in the thinking among the “leaders” in our federal government today. And, in many ways, these are important. There are, for example, significant differences between Bernard Sanders and Rafael Edward Cruz, even though both of them are members of the same small, elite political organization. It would be foolish to hold that “they are all the same.”

Yet, at the same time, both Sanders and Cruz are part of the same system, the US Senate -- just as both are running to be president, the highest position within the larger system of the federal government. And, despite the very real differences in character between Sanders and Cruz, that system is primarily geared towards increasing the advantages -- economically, socially, and politically -- of the 1%. And a significant tactic for doing so is to divide the public into smaller groups that compete with one another.

Back in 1970, Vine Deloria, Jr., published “We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (Dell). Deloria predicted that the 1% would attempt to create a modern version of feudalism -- with rule by a corporate elite -- by dividing the public, and pitting groups against each other. He knew that so long as these groups mistakenly saw other groups as their competition, and thus enemy, that the future of America would be a feudal state.

However, if those same groups learned some basic lessons in organization -- the same one that many of the Founding Fathers learned from the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy -- and recognized that the 1% were their competition (and their common enemy), that would promote a higher level of democracy, and social justice. And 45 years later, that remains true. Indeed, it is even more important that we recognize this reality today, than in 1970.

December 10, 2015

Broken Government

“There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter this country, if the people lose their supreme confidence in themselves. -- and lose their roughness and spirit of defiance. Tyranny may always enter -- there is no charm, no bar against it -- the only bar against it is a large resolute breed of men.”
-- Walt Whitman

In 1973, former Kennedy White House historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., published one of the most important books of the past century: “The Imperial Presidency.” It was at the time that many people believed this nation was at the beginning of a constitutional crisis, involving President Nixon, both Houses of Congress, and the US Supreme court. Schlesinger provided readers with the frequent attempts by the executive branch of the federal government to grab additional powers, with claims of “national security” during times of war.

A significant part of this book focuses on impeachment. This, of course, was Schlesinger’s advocating the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. The above Whitman quote, which Schlesinger used to close the book, is an accurate indicator of his views regarding the struggle with Nixon. When some of the Congressional Committees that studied presidential abuses of power made their reports (partially) public in the post-Nixon 1970s, thinking people were able to combine that information with Schlesinger’s book, and recognize the very real threats posed to our constitutional democracy.

In the years that followed Nixon’s resigning in utter disgrace, there have been two US Presidents who should have been impeached: Reagan, for Iran-Contra; and Bush, for the purposeful lies that resulted in the invasion of Iraq. Obviously, the impeachment of President Clinton was politically-motivated nonsense. When there is a high-profile, showcased nonsense, it suggests other things are quietly being accomplished.

For a brief but accurate description of the events that were “hidden” from public view -- or, at least what happened while the public was watching and debating President Clinton’s trial -- one should read Thomas F. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein’s, “The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America” (Oxford; 2006). The authors document how a group of politicians, led by Newt Gingrich, purposely “broke” the legislative branch of the federal government. It would be difficult to claim, with a straight face, that Congress has been repaired, or healed, in the time since the book was published.

The US Supreme Court, while on occasion returning surprising decisions, has proven to be a reliable advocate for corporations and for executive powers relating to “national security.” In 2001, Vincent Bugliosi published his classic, “The Betrayal of America,” which documented the US Supreme Court’s theft of the 2000 presidential election. As the author notes, their decision was not based upon the Constitution, or constitutional law. Instead, it was an authoritarian clamp-down on democracy. Their decision, Bugliosi proves beyond any doubt, was 100% rooted in four of the (in)Justices’ political and economic (re: corporate) interests.

Fast-forward to 2015. Early in the republican primary contest, it becomes evident that their party was experiencing a grass roots’ discontent with career politicians. This includes a rejection of the republican machine’s preferred candidate, Jeb Bush. But it goes much deeper than that: for a period of time, the three most popular candidate -- Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina -- are political outsiders …..at least to the extent that none of the three had ever held elected office.

Two of the three would implode, when the republican voters came to recognize them as unfit for office. Carly Fiorina was exposed as a liar, something forgivable; however, when she refused to admit that her horror story about abortion was false, her numbers did a nosedive. Carson proved to be beyond a lying creep; his delusional “religious” belief system offended even his republican audience.

The third candidate, Donald Trump, has been on a campaign of lies, insults, racism, narcissism, nativism, sexism, and hatred. Despite previous predictions from most political journalists, being exposed as an ass-clown has not damaged Trump’s campaign, in any meaningful way. Often, it’s just the opposite: the republican grass roots rewards his most vulgar behaviors.

In the past few days, while discussing Trump’s most recent proposal to refuse to allow people of the Islamic faith entry -- or re-entry -- into the United States, a growing number of people have recognized that Trump’s proposal is unconstitutional. It surely is serving to make the rest of the civilized world question what the United States has become. It definitely puts Americans abroad at higher risk, including the military. Some have pointed out that Trump may be violating the law in making such statements.

What is less apparent, in my opinion, is that regardless of the undeniable fact that Donald Trump has abandoned any respect for the Constitution, if he were to be elected President, those Constitutional restraints upon Executive power do not guarantee that his behavior would be harnessed by the House, Senate, and/or US Supreme Court. If it were as simple as a president going mad in office, those restraints might be enough to protect our society. The US survived the very real challenges that Nixon presented. But those of us old enough to remember know that it was a struggle.

The dynamics in our country have changed significantly since then. No serious person could argue that Congress or the Supreme Court are as functional today as they were when Schlesinger wrote that book. It would be realistic to think that the Constitution plays a significant, much less healthy, role in America today.

It seems safe to say that not only are the Americans who support Donald Trump the most angry, potentially violent, pro-authoritarianism of the population -- but internationally, the only people who want Trump to be elected are of the ilk of ISIS. Thus, it seems increasingly likely that individuals and groups within the pro-Trump movement will look for -- if not initiate -- the types of incidents that will increase the levels of the toxins of rage, paranoia, and violence in a way that they believe will increase Trump’s chances for victory.

This, of course, would be the environment needed for Trump -- or even a Ted Cruz -- to do further, severe damage to this country. This is not to suggest that this is definitely going to happen, or even the single most likely outcome of the 2016 presidential election. I’m not recommending that we begin a mental measuring for curtains in the FEMA camps. And I haven’t seen any black helicopters around my house ….or any drones, though I guess they aren’t highly visible.

But history teaches us that nations can be vulnerable, under certain circumstances. The Whitman quote provides a valuable insight into part of those circumstances. Indeed, it would require that Good People believe themselves to be helpless to stop the machine, and hopeless about the future. It would require another portion of the population to hold the same feelings of hopelessness, but to look to a “leader” to “save” them. And a bunch of spineless cowards, compromised by their own unethical behaviors, to over-populate the House and Senate, plus an authoritarian majority on the Supreme Court.

Look around you today …..watch the news, listen to the radio, read the internet …..and think about the current environment in America today. What do you see?

H2O Man

December 9, 2015


Today I saw a post on Face Book that made me happy. A teacher from a local state university made some powerful points about the dangers posed by Donald Trump and his followers. Most of the comments in response were positive, but not surprisingly, a couple attempted to excuse Trump’s followers.

I’ve known this fellow since he was a teenager. He taught at the school my daughters attended, giving me the opportunity to get to know him as an adult. It’s funny: while I was a school board member, I played a role in moving his career forward, when he went from our school, to the university.

He was friends with my nephews as a high school student. So he was among those outraged when one of my nephews was seriously injured when a racist hate gang savagely assaulted him. I was honored to learn that, as a social studies teacher, he taught about that ugly chapter of local history -- including my role.

That hate crime would be a major influence on this young man’s thinking. And now, as Donald Trump spews his hatred, and tens of thousands of Americans are uniting with that campaign of rage. He understands the danger that this poses.

One of the Trumpite apologists stated that, even if Trump is elected, the Constitution would prevent him from accomplishing his proposed goals. In doing so, he was either purposely or accidentally missing the point. Burying one’s head in the sand is not a good strategy. I was pleased to see others confront him on his errors in thinking.

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