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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
April 29, 2019

A Long, Strange Walk

“We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.”
– Henry David Thoreau; Walking

There was snow in the air and on the ground this morning. As I prepared for my daily walk, I thought of a line from one of Rubin Carter's letters 45 years ago, when he stated, “Everything under the sun is exactly as it should be, or it wouldn't be.” Had he anticipated this weather?

Since my dogs were intent upon sleeping late inside our warm house, I decided that I would drive to an area near where I grew up, and walk along the river on a path I had enjoyed as a youth. As an old man, I find myself thinking, “This isn't the country I grew up in” frequently. I thought of a quote from Sitting Bull as I drove: “If a man loses anything and goes back and carefully looks for it, he will find it.”

I parked near the house that my childhood “best friend” grew up, and walked through a field where we used to box and play football and baseball. When I got to the river, I could look across to see my parents' house, now empty. When my father started building the house, several neighbors put up “For Sale” signs, as the were upset that an Irish-Catholic family was moving in.

Nearby was the spot where my friend and I, around the ages of 4 and 5, would sneak to in order to watch our older brothers; they had formed a “club” that they called the Swamp Kings. In more recent years, I found some scattered Indian artifacts on the site.

From where I stood, I could see the road that my siblings and I used to walk upon. One day, when I was ten, a guy driving a station wagon swerved across the double lines, towards my oldest brother, then 17. He stopped to confront my brother about his hair, as he found it highly offensive. Itching for a fight, this large hostile man grabbed my brother by the shirt collar, and asked, “What are you going to do about it?” My brother, who was about 125 pounds, likely looked too small to do much. There was a pause, and then my brother said, “This,” as he staggered the fellow with a left hook. A vicious fight took place, and my brother – a top amateur boxer at the time – beat the fellow unconscious. Then he tossed the limp body into the ditch. “Guess his kids won't be afraid of him any more,” my other brother said as we walked away.

About a quarter of a mile further, and I came to a spot where, along with a few flint chips, some long-broken items from the contact/colonial era. During the Revolutionary War, Colonel Jacob Klock had written to Governor Clinton about the camp of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant in this area. Brant had an estimated total of 1,700 men there that summer.As Klock noted, this included a number of runaway slaves.

Growing up, I learned that the black people who had joined Brant's ranks had camped on the bank where I was now standing. Looking across the river, I could see my sister and brother-in-law's house. When my father and I started building it, the same neighbors again put up “For Sale” signs, upset that a black man and his family were moving in.

No houses sold, and within a few years, those people had come to like and respect their black neighbors. When, two decades ago, a racist hate group attacked my nephew because they resented media coverage of a black high school scholar-athlete, leaving him unconscious and seriously injured in a dark field, those neighbors were among the most vocal opponents of the racist gang.

A half-mile further, and I began to come across a few flint chips and shattered red sandstone fragments. Soon, I came across the hearth, with several of the stones that had been heated in a fire long ago. Among them was the fire-pocked base of a projectile point known as a Brewerton, dating approximately 2,000 bc. It was not an artifact most collectors would treasure, by any means, much less of museum quality. But I was happy to encounter it. I was happy for the rest of my walk, and then for the drive home.

Shortly after arriving home, I learned of the hate crime at the synagogue. I felt sick. A bit later came a report about some white nationalists disrupting a presentation at a bookstore. I felt anger. But then I got an e-mail from Stosh Cotler, the CEO of Bend the Arc.

“We will not accept an America where massacres in synagogues become normal,” the first sentence of this powerful message read. It gave me confidence. Here is a link to the web site:


I laid down to take a rest, as old men often do. As I closed my eyes, I remembered a couple of people I remember from where I lived, before my father completed our house. We lived in an apartment in a neighborhood known as the “Project.” Our neighbors included a king old man named Erik Sonnefeld. He had lost all of his family in the Nazi death camps. He gave my siblings and I gifts, ranging from a coin collection to a stuffed animal.

One morning, I overheard a neighbor telling my mother, “Erik was really climbing the walls last night.” In my small child's mind, I tried to picture that literally. I recently asked another neighborhood resident if she knew what ever became of him? She did not know either, but noted that he was a talented artist, who gave her a painting that she still has.

And I thought of one of my brothers' friends, who visted us often. His being black did not seem strange to me. But finding out, years later, how a school teacher beat him in her classroom seemed unacceptable. She beat him until he was bloody once, yet remained employed as a 3rd grade teacher.
His brother and him, along with a friend, were murdered at a local bar in the late 1970s. The guy with the shotgun was frustrated that he lost a card game. He had been friends with the three for years. I often saw them at his house when I was out on walks.

Last year, my friend's son contacted me. I hadn't seen him since he was a little boy, 40 years ago. His mother moved far away then. I look forward to getting to know him. I have some good stories to tell him about his father.

I think of my reaction, 45 years ago, to Rubin's message. There was so much wrong in America then, including a criminal in the White House. I was young and confident – perhaps overconfident – that my generation was going to right the wrongs in our country. It's been a long, strange walk since then. And we still have a long ways to go.
April 24, 2019

People Are Strange

“People are strange.” – Jim Morrison

People in the intelligence community are known to read. For example, we know that Robert Mueller has read the Constitution. He understands the role that Congress needs to play in the cases he outlined in his two-part report. People who have read about Mr. Mueller for years know that virtually all his co-workers over the decades have noted he sees things involving crime in black and white terms. Plus, he is recently on the record saying those in high office must be held to a high standard.

Others in the intelligence community read, as well. Dr. Bandy Lee's 2017 book on Trump, for example. There are those in their ranks who are tasked with creating psychological profiles of foreign leaders, especially those deemed to be potential threats to international security. Military intelligence, people my age will recall, spied on President Nixon. Though he didn't dare confront them on this, it made Nixon paranoid. The “plumbers” were among the results.

I'm confident that their evaluation of Trump is nearly identical to Dr. Lee's. And they recognize that Trump would rather be the leader of this country under conditions similar to “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland, than be humiliated and forced from office by the rule of law. Trump poses a threat to our national security on both foreign and domestic fronts.

He has enlarged the divisions between different groups, by exploiting the anxieties and fears found within the nation. He has called upon white nationalists to become active agents in society, even calling Nazis “good people.” He repeatedly calls the media “the enemy of the people,” encouraging threatening behaviors at his rallies. He has attacked law enforcement and judges. He insults Congress. With all of this on the domestic front, it is no surprise that some disturbed individuals have lashed out violently. Indeed, the only surprise is that more right wingnuts haven't struck out at innocent victims.

Any psychological profile of Trump will focus upon his inability to deal with stress without lashing out. The greater the stress, the greater the outburst. More, this is directly tied to Trump's inability to accept responsibility for anything “bad.” Let's consider an example that sheds light on the situation with Barr. After Bob Woodward's book “Fear” was published, Trump blamed Bill Shine for the press coverage. Indeed, Shine was forced out of his job, because Trump held him fully responsible for a book that focused onTrump's presidency, before Shine was officially drafted from Fox. (Obviously, Barr was aware of this, and it has influenced his cheer-leading for Trump since the Mueller Report was completed.)

The tendency for “leaders” such as Trump to behave like a rabid dog furiously biting itself by humiliating, firing, or killing someone in their orbit is well-documented. Someone has to be to blame, after all. With intelligence operations seeking to bring down such rulers, it is important to place pressure on these fracture points. And that is often a good political strategy, too. Let's consider two fracture points that are currently being served up to Democrats, shall we?

The first is on full display in a curious manner. We recall Barr talking about being “family friends” with the Muellers when he was before the Senate seeking confirmation. Yet since Barr released his 3.5 page review of the Mueller Report, there has been tension. While Mr. Mueller would not leak, several of his team members did – and with the specific goal of having their disgust reported in the media.

Barr's attempts to get Mr. Mueller to publicly endorse his letter to Congress began as a “friend.” When Bob declined, Barr attempted to pull rank as Attorney General. This, too, failed. In fact, Barr's pompous behavior added pressure to the growing fracture. When Barr gave his press conference, complete with the wax statue of Rod Rosenstein borrowed from Madame Tussauds' museum backing him, he had wanted Mr. Mueller there, too. That, of course, did not happen. This is important because, in applying pressure to a fracture, there are benefits of making use of a three-person triangle. When Rosenstein ends up testify to Congress, this benefit will be evident.

Now, let's look at a second triangle. The current divide between Trump and McGahn is now public. This is not surprising. McGahn was not a “true believer” in Trump. He is an ambitious fellow (in the most negative sense) and an opportunist. His goal with Trump was to stack the Supreme Court with religious right-wing zealots, such as his buddy Brett Kavanaugh. It is said that he takes greater pride in getting Brett on the USSC, than he does in his mint-condition collection of The Cowsills' record albums.

Since the information involving McGahn's role in the Mueller Report was explained to him – including by Fox News – Trump has been obsessed with punishing McGahn. His efforts to do damage will increase rapidly when McGahn is scheduled to testify before Congress. It will include, bu not be limited to, tweets and live phone calls to various Fox shows. This from a man who, like Nixon, expects the justices he appointed to the USSC to kiss his fat ass as publicly as Barr has.

Yet, we know Kavanaugh can be moved to tears when talking about his friends. We've seen that. And so he will be remembering those afternoons and evenings he spent with McGahn, drinking beer (Brett likes beer, you know), rocking out to the Cowsills, and not blacking out. Brett will be looking at his prize collection of calendars to get the inexact dates of those wild and crazy times. And, eventually, he may have to make a decision that, in effect, forces him to choose between McGahn and Trump.

There are other triangles within the White House and administration. Think of the descriptions in books such as “Team of Vipers,” “Fear,” “Unhinged,” and “Fire and Fury.” The more triangles used to exert pressure upon the growing fractures, the better.

Stay strong. We've got this. Our elected representatives in DC are doing exactly the right things at this time. Don't let the media nonsense about “divisions” among Huse Democrats bother you, for they are not true. Have confidence in the process.

H2O Man

April 21, 2019

The Mueller Report Unplugged

“There's no right way to do wrong, and no wrong way to do right.”
Smokin' Joe Frazier

I find myself thinking about the simple wisdom of the former heavyweight's saying, that his son Marvis shared with me years ago. In my mind, it applies to two of the issues that are currently on my mind – the terrible behaviors documented in the Mueller Report, and the response of the Democrats in Washington, DC. I'll start by saying that in reading redacted versions of two of the three-part Mueller Report, I am fully aware that I am viewing two of the most important documents in our nation's history. And that it would be a shame if such documents served only to delineate the end of our constitutional democracy.

(Note: the “part three” of the Mueller Report is on the counter-intelligence investigation. It goes to top people in the intelligence community. It will not be made public, and at most, only eight members of the House and Senate will learn a limited amount of what it contains. I will speculate that it includes more damning information on the Russian influence on our 2016 election, and on the Trump mob.)

Now, let's briefly consider what information was revealed in parts one and two of the Mueller Report. Perhaps the most ironic thing is that documents that there was a great deal of “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign and transition. Collusion, of course, is not a crime. It was, however, unethical and unpatriotic.

The investigation did not find evidence of conspiracy that reached the level needed for indictments. It did catch a number of Trump people lying about their contacts with Russians and people connected to Russia. The report notes that some were able to destroy records that likely would have been important to the investigation. Most importantly, in my opinion, it showed that direct coordination was avoided by the tried and true tactic of creating a triangle: Russian military intelligence stole e-mails, provided them to Wikileaks, which then made them public, for the Trump campaign's use.

As most have figured out, the best example of using a cut-out (or third party) to conceal the conspiracy relates to Don Jr.'s infamous meeting at the Trump Tower. This was attended by Jared, Manafort, and a collection of Russians, who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The investigators concluded that Junior and Jared were eager to get the dirt, but too stupid to know they were violating campaign finance law. But Manafort had run campaigns before, and he understood the deal. He sent coded messages on his cell phone, which remain unexplained.

Because Manafort would not cooperate, this obvious link in the chain could not be proven. Hence, he was prosecuted Al Capone style. Junior would later have communications with Wikileaks, and Trump would order a top aide to find out what information would be “dumped” at future dates. And, of course, Roger Stone would have contact with Wikileaks, at very least using another cut-out. More, Trump would help draft the lie about “Russian adoptions” when the media began reporting on this.

Report Two documents a long-term campaign by Trump to obstruct both Mr. Comey's and Mr. Mueller's investigation(s). This report makes clear that, were it not for DOJ policy, Trump would be indicted. The evidence clearly reaches the threshold of a 95% chance of conviction. And, very importantly, Mr. Mueller repeatedly makes clear that he intends this documentation to be used by Congress in a manner delineated in the Constitution – and to be available for use by federal prosecutors in the future, when Trump is no longer in office. Also, Mr. Mueller sent 14 cases to other prosecutors.

Thus, we can conclude that try as they might, there was no right way for the Trump people to do all of the wrong they did. The question at hand is what is the best way for the rest of us – those in office in DC, the media, and citizens – to seek justice? There are a number of options.

First, there are those who are opposed to the thought of impeachment hearings. Within this group, there are sub-groups. Some believe that republicans in the Senate will never convict Trump if the House impeaches him. Others think the public will confuse the issues in the Mueller Report with the Clinton experience, and turn against Democrats in 2020. And still others think the process would prove time consuming for the many Democrats in the House and Senate running for the Democratic nomination. I think the first and third concerns are legitimate and deserve our attention,

There are other Democrats who believe that, rather than (or at least before) beginning impeachment hearings, Democrats should focus on getting a vote to censure Trump. While I do not think that alone is satisfactory, I recognize that it, too, is a legitimate issue for further discussion.

A significant number of people want Congress to begin impeachment hearings very soon. Strike while the iron is hot. Again, that is a legitimate position. I'm not opposed to it per se, but there is a related position that I believe is better. It's true that a committee holding potential impeachment hearings has the superior claim to access to any and all official records. Yet, the current House committees that are seeking those records do have a solid legal case to justify their demands.

This includes things beyond what the two Mueller Reports contain. Perhaps the most significant is Trump's financial records, including his tax records. The emoluments clause needs to be included in any effort to impeach Trump. There need to be several solid articles of impeachment, covering a wide range of Trump's behaviors, for the republicans in the Senate. And there is a significant amount of further information that will come out in the next few months. That includes information from documents, as well as members of the White House, prosecutors, and the intelligence communit testifying to Congress. And there will be leaks.

Also important is that Democrats have to alter the perception that impeachment is merely a political activity. That it is two teams – Democrats and republicans – fighting for political advantage. No, this is about what the United States stands for, and what it means. There will be 20-25% of Trump's base that is too stupid, too ignorant, and/or too hateful to withdraw their support for Trump. But there are others in our country who will benefit from being informed by congressional hearings, and then support impeachment. For they will recognize that Trump's presidency is a skid mark on our nation's history.

H2O Man

April 11, 2019

No Country for Brown Children

“I read the news today, oh boy
about a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
well, I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph ….”
John Lennon; A Day in the Life; 1967

Actually, I was re-visiting Erich Fromm's 1973 book, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” while listening to the Beatles. That song summed up my feelings about the news that I've seen thus far this week. But before we take a gander at some of the news' low-lights, let's do a brief review.

A number of times over the past 15 years, I've spoken about how I study “systems,” and do so by visualizing them like a mobile over an infant's crib. Add or subtract a piece, and all the others have to shift to stay in balance. That is the nature of healthy systems, be they a family, a school, a work place, or a community.

In an unhealthy system, the dynamics can be different in several ways. Other pieces can become entrenched in their positions, to prevent a smooth addition of another piece. Likewise, they can become entrenched in order to cut off a piece already on the mobile.

But the worst potential for an unhealthy system is of the type described in Fromm's book. Though he does not use the mobile model, I'd like to stick with it. Thus, the central piece on this mobile is what Fromm defined as a malignant narcissist, also known as a sociopath or psychopath. This piece, usually male, has a significant gravitational pull upon the other pieces e is surrounded with.

Before we go further, we should remember that malignant narcissists' actions, both as individuals and as a group, cover a wide spectrum. One may be a glib, thieving businessman, while another may be a murderer. And within this wide range, there are those who will, under extreme pressure, escalate in their potential level of threat. More, while the majority act out as individuals – those who are frequently said to live a “double life,” such as the BTK killer Dennis Rader – there is another type that are found smack-dab in the middle of a system.

The systems sociopath is generally more difficult to place upon psychiatrist Michael Stone's rankings of murderers. They generally do not commit the acts of gross violence themselves – rather, they have others do the dirty work. To accomplish this, they take advantage of situations by convincing those around them that they are “at risk” of being invaded or attacked by an enemy they define as “others.”

To fully appreciate this, we need to go back to the Angelo-Saxon word “yfel,” which translates to “beyond.” Society tends to make a distinction between killing in self-defense, in war, and murder. That line blurs sometimes, such as when we consider a soldier in WW2 and William Calley in My Lai. But what most sane people recognize as going “beyond” includes finding satisfaction in causing prolonged fear and suffering, by torturing and then murdering. These are sadistic features.

Now, let's focus on those pieces of the mobile that tend to surround the central character. In the cases that we are considering, we will look at a malignant narcissist who exercises political-social power. These tend to surround themselves with bureaucrats who fall into two groups: those who would normally never participate in “yfel” activities aimed at “others,” and those who may appear to be stable, but daydream about being others' nightmare.

In the first case, these individuals are often afraid of their leader on some level. When the leader says they are being invaded or attacked, they might know deep down that this is a lie. But they lack the character to take a stand opposing the leader, or to even quit their job. Instead, they bury their conscience, and obey orders. For they are bureaucratic cogs in the wheelhouse of a sick system. They will continue to be obedient until the leader gets a sniff of dissent, at which time he will cut them from the mobile.

In the second instance, we find the Stephen Millers of the world. They view the ability to cause suffering as a power they are entitled to yield against “others.” Their leader merely gives them license to do so. And their conscience never troubles them.

George W. Bush used the public's feelings of being threatened with invasion and attack to justify the invasion of Iraq. He was surrounded with individuals not unlike Stephen Miller – bureaucrats like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a dozen other necroconservatives. But even earlier in his life, in the part-time position of governor of Texas, Bush found pleasure in suffering. Rubin Carter told me that when he met with Governor Bush to discuss the death penalty, Bush was “giddy” about his ability to send people o their deaths. As president, when he was preparing to invade Iraq in a manner distinct from previous wars, DC was filled primarily with bureaucrats afraid to challenge him, or eager to inflict suffering and death on “others.”

Today, of course, we are confronted with Donald Trump. We are witnessing his attempts to convince the public that we are being invaded and attacked by non-white others – all the while denying that we are indeed being attacked from within by white nationalists. We've seen his attempt to deny Islamic people the ability to enter the country. We are seeing his on-going war on immigrants from Central America. We've witnessed his administration's separating children from their parents, and placing them in metal cages. This is, by definition, going far beyond anything that could be mistaken for “normal.”

If we read about an adult who kidnaps a child, and tortures them by keeping them in a metal cage, we know that is “yfel,” the root of today's word “evil.” Average citizens are able to identify this as evil just as easily as theologians, philosophers, doctors, and lawyers. People had respect for John McCain's surviving being held as a POW in a cage, yet Trump consistently has said that McCain was not a hero. Is it any surprise that Trump and his followers are good with putting little children in cages? For that is surely a form of torture that causes great pain and suffering on a long-term basis.

These are the things I think about as I watch the world go round.
H2O Man

April 5, 2019

Weekend Update

Being old and of often forgetful mind, when the news that some of the federal prosecutors who were on the Mueller Team were voicing distaste for Barr's letter on the Mueller Report, I began reading through my most recent OP and responses. Had I not said that the leaks would begin to spill out over the weekend? Yet, I could ot locate any evidence of my stating this on DU:GD. How could this be?

Had I missed an opportunity to inform the DU community of the good news about to unfold before our very eyes? Or, as others who read my posts may believe, a chance to show off? But I was sure that I had discussed the upcoming reports of leaks with a DU member that I frequently tell my predictions to. Then it hit me: check your e-mails with her. So I did.

Thus, I reviewed a conversation that we had engaged in on the night of Thursday, March 28, and found what I had been looking for. I shall only post one of my comments, which I believe will suffice for documenting the general discussion:

“I don't think Mr. Mueller is surprised by Barr's nonsense. But he isn't happy. He won't leak, but others in the FBI/DOJ will likely tomorrow night or this weekend.” (Her response was, “Can't wait!”)

The initial “leaks” – conversations between former Mueller Team investigators and their current co-workers and associates – had already begun by the time I wrote that, of course. But it wasn't until the following day (Friday, March 29), that they made clear that they expected their co-workers and associates to share their feelings of distaste for Barr's 3.5-page summery with specific journalists. And that process began over the weekend and early in April, resulting in reports starting Wednesday.

Why is this important? Hadn't Barr already poisoned the public's perception of what the report did and did not say? Weren't the Democrats in DC sore losers, demanding the full report go to Congress and be made public? Indeed, had not Barr dictated a nasty response to these reports, noting that each and every page had been marked “confidential,” without exception?

It's good news for many reasons. First, the public understanding of, and reaction to, Barr's summary of the report is not set in stone. It raised more questions than it answered for 70-plus percent of the public. Finding out what it really reports versus Barr's toady letter will highlight the distinctions. Trump and those around him are documented as, to use one of Trump's frequent insults, “losers.” And much worse.

More, it is showing the increasing discomfort that Barr is feeling. For he is caught between two rocks and the decaying Trump operation. Congress has every legal right to the full report. And there will be systematic leaking of information in the report – particularly the summaries that the Mueller Team intended to be made public – as we move forward, if Barr continues to fight the inevitable. You can count on this.

The last thing that I believe is important is that, in situations such as this, the public's perception often involves personalizing a conflict. When he spoke to the Senate, Barr noted that he and Mr. Mueller were old friends, and that their wives were friends as well. Yesterday, we saw a wedge …. Barr knows that although Mr. Mueller might not have given the okay for the leaks, he could sure as hell put a stop to them. But Barr realizes that is not going to happen.

Enjoy the weekend.
H2O Man

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