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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
February 29, 2020

Established Systems

I think that we can all agree that words have meaning. Linguist John McWhorter points out that, over time, languages change. The Merriam-Webster dictionary frequently adds “new” words, which people my age should avoid attempting to use around our grown children and their friends. We do much better with those words with well established meanings.

“Establish” is one such word. It means to bring into existence, with a goal of creating a long-term thing. If a person opens a restaurant, for example, they hope that it will be successful and remain open for a long time. The Founding Fathers established a new nation, with the same goal.

“Establishment” is yet another interesting word. It means the hierarchy that holds the reins of control of the established group or organization. If we think of a chain of successful restaurants – say, McDonald's – its “establishment” is not the teenager or 62-year old flipping burgers. It's the business's owners.

The Founding Fathers limited the scope of those who could be part of the establishment in the new nation. Briefly, one needed to be a white male. There were some tensions within the Founding Fathers regarding further restrictions for leadership. For sake of making this slightly less tedious reading, let's turn briefly to Clinton family historian Sean Wilentz for two definitions.

The word “republic” comes from the root “res publica”-- meaning a “public thing” where the common good of all would be determined by the most enlightened, educated, and wealthy white men.

“Democracy” comes from the root “demos krateo” – meaning “rule of the people,” where the masses determined what defined that common good. The very though of the less educated, impassioned public having control of government was unpopular with enough of the Founding Fathers that the new country was indeed a republic in it's early years. Over the decades and centuries, it has become a mixture of republican and democratic institutions within the established government.

Some are relatively new, such as the military-industrial complex that Ike warned about sixty years ago. Among the new factors that determine the leadership within the country we find both private and public individuals and groups. We can see, for example, that a corporation has much more “freedom of speech” during political campaigns that do you or I. Likewise, a billionaire does.

Today's republican party has an establishment that tells its members what they think. Because their establishment is rigid, it was relatively easy for Donald Trump to high-jack its reins of control. And so long as it makes money for the opulently wealthy, they convince the base that Trump represents the American dream. Add the “greater than Lincoln,” and you have the alt-right's support.

The Democratic Party is an “establishment,” complete with a hierarchy within it ranks . That structure includes at the national, state, county, city and town levels. As a general rule, that is certainly a good thing, as it is helpful in our achieving election victories at each level. It would be mighty hard to have to create a new structure for each election, in my opinion.

The Democratic Party is not a rigid group, especially when compared to the republican party. The republican leadership tells its members what to think and how to behave. That does not happen in our party. Yet it would be foolish to pretend that there are not tensions within the party, as there always are during presidential primary season. There are times when the party deals with such tensions in a way that results in victories, and times when it fails to.

Different people – good people, Good Democrats – often interpret the causes and effects of these attempts to deal with tensions very differently. This can lead to intelligent, meaningful discussions between people who view events from, say, 1960 to the present in very different ways. That's a good thing. If we make an honest effort to really listen to others in a respectful way, human beings are capable of finding common ground.

It's useful to keep in mind that groups of people recognize three types of “leadership.” There are, of course, variations within and overlap between each group. The first, and oldest, is traditional leadership. This is closely associated with the tribal, “This is how our people have always done it” approach. While far more common before the industrial revolution, there are regions of the globe where it is still practiced.

The second type is “bureaucratic” leadership. This generally began taking root when populations increase. Thus, it first came into practice in China, when social stratification began. It came in force to America with the industrial revolution. Bureaucracy allows the largest number of people with the same problem, to get it resolved to an acceptable level. In modern America, we see how well bureaucracy can be in many areas, though not in the Department of Motor Vehicles if you bring in a unique or rare problem. It also led to the “Gilded Age.”

Within the republican party, the bureaucratic leadership reflects the stratified status of its membership. Good republicans who seek promotions know to wait their turn. The fact that Ivanka Trump has any role in the White House suggests that one need not earn a high rank, or have any talent to justify that position. This, obviously, is an example of stratification.

The Democratic Party's leadership structure is based upon bureaucratic leadership. It is also stratified (national, state, etc). It could not be otherwise, and remain functional

The third type of leadership is “charismatic.” This is rooted in a charismatic leader rising, often from the fringes outside of the bureaucratic structure. Others rise from within the bureaucratic structure, including – in the context of our party – JFK in 1960, RFK in '68, and Barack Obama in 2008. In each of these instances, the charismatic candidate was familiar with the bureaucratic structure. Their movements can create tensions within the Democratic Party.

In general, candidates within the bureaucratic structure run campaigns, while charismatic candidates lead movements. In a situation such as our presidential primaries, a contest that includes a movement competing within a bureaucratic campaign creates added tensions. The more successful a charismatic candidate is in the primaries, the greater the tensions. This has held true in numerous primary contests between 1960 and today,

These types of tensions have both positive and negative potentials. It depends upon how the party's establishment deals with those tensions that determines if the results are good or bad. For that determines how people at the grass roots level respond to what the party leaders have decided.

Among the numerous factors that must be taken into account is appealing to voters who are not members of our party. Doing this can determine the outcome of the 2020 elections. The number of independent voters appears to be growing. Some are definitely former republicans, some are to the left of the Democratic Party, some are young adults, and there are those who simply do not trust either party. Another potential group are those currently not registered, who do not see the connection between “politics” and their day-to-day lives, who could be registered by our party's volunteers

Good people can have different views on which group or groups that we need to appeal to, in order to cement victories in November. While it is very likely that the decision reached will determine the outcome of the presidential election, the truth is that there is not one “right” answer versus other “wrong” opinions. We can only speculate, and base our thoughts on how we interpret that which we consider evidence. That could actually lead to worthwhile discussions at every level of our party.

H2O Man

February 22, 2020

DU Exclusive: Interview with Dr. Bandy X. Lee !

Recently, I had a conversation with DU community member “Mike 03” about Yale Professor Bandy X. Lee's book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Originally published in 2017, this important book featured the contributions of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts. Last year, an updated and expanded version was published, which features contributions of 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts.

When my daughter Chloe gave me my copy of the book, she said that while she knew I did not want to have any books on Donald Trump in my library, she believed that this one was essential reading. From the moment I read the book's dedication – to Dr. Lee's Grandfather and Mother – I knew that I'd have difficulty putting the book down. And while I have since added a few other books that expose the madness of the Trump presidency to my library, I recognize “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to be by far the most important.

During my conversation with Mike 03, , I decided toask Dr. Lee if she might take part in an interview for this forum. For if you want something important done, ask a busy person. They are most likely to do important things. I would like to thank Dr. Lee ….for the book, her appearances in the media to discuss the topic, and for this interview. I hope that community members will thank her, and read and discuss her book.

Q: Dr. Lee, as you would expect, there are people who feel depressed and discouraged about the process and outcome of the Senate’s impeachment trial. They are anxious about our country’s future. Others recognize that while the House impeachment was a significant victory, that the president is now more likely to engage in dangerous ways. In that context, can you please explain the “duty to warn” that has resulted in your speaking out?

A: It is entirely understandable that people are feeling depressed and discouraged; that he is more likely to engage dangerously is correct from our perspective, also.  The error, from our view, has been in trying to solve a mental health problem through a purely political approach, which is why we petitioned the Congress to consult with us (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-mental-state-impeachment-psychiatrist-petition-congress-a9232386.html).  We had cautioned that impeachment could go either way: psychologically, delaying impeachment was risky, because it would cause a sense of unlimited power and impunity to balloon.  A rapid progression after delay then maximized the potential for paranoia and narcissistic rage, while the combination of impeachment and acquittal now has created conditions that would heighten the drive for revenge.  With each failure to contain the president psychologically, there has been an expansion of dangers as well as worsening of symptoms.  We can learn from this experience and recognize that a nuanced, psychological understanding of the situation is paramount—even if political processes are the only interventions we have for psychological limit setting and containment, which are still a lot.

Q: In 1973, Erich Fromm published “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.” In it, Fromm detailed how certain social factors, combined with specific personality types found in those in power at the time, create fertile ground for what he referred to as “malignant narcissists” to rise to the top. Do you see instances – saying, putting children in steel cages on the southern border – in our society that concern you?

A: Traumatizing children in a way that will breed injury and violence for society concerns me a great deal!  Erich Fromm understood dynamically what I have been studying statistically and epidemiologically.  I have always conceived of this presidency as a reflection of the poor state of collective mental health in our society.  In fact, I have been fearing this result for about twenty years while watching public mental health decline and what I call “structural violence” increase.  Structural violence, such as economic inequality, is one of the most potent causes of behavioral violence, be it homicides, suicides, or warfare, and when the groundwork is laid for a culture of violence, people will be attracted to a leader who does them violence.  It was not time to be complacent because homicide rates were declining, even as suicides were rising.  My research has been mostly about “connecting the dots,” which I am making great use of now.  We have become locked in a vicious circle, where the more violence powerful people do to the population, the more vulnerable it becomes to manipulation and attraction to violence in ways that give violent people more power.  It is an abusive relationship cycle at societal scale.

Q: Older people such as myself remember the publisher and an editor of “Fact” being sued for a story that questioned Senator Barry Goldwater’s stability during the 1964 presidential election. This was in spite of the Senator’s wife telling reporters that he had previously suffered a “nervous breakdown.” The “Goldwater Rule” kept this general topic from being reported upon for many years. There are potential dangers in diagnosing someone the clinician has not met. This raises a question: is it possible that what an expert sees in the media, including films of speeches and press conferences, and legal documents, might be more accurate sources of information than the self-reporting of those being evaluated with the Hare Checklist? (This is not to suggest that Senator Goldwater was in that group.)

A:This is absolutely correct.  We must distinguish the quality and reliability of information, not just discount all media as a source.  For certain impairments, such as personality disorders that cause others suffering but are not bothersome to the self, it is far more accurate to have reports from the person’s acquaintances, the sworn testimony of close associates, and external, direct observation of behavior.  If the media presentation is not all staged but shows reasonably candid moments, actual interactions with other people, extensive coverage, and progression over prolonged periods of time, then it can be one of the best sources of information.  Interviews, on the other hand, are known to be harmful in some cases, especially when a person is trying to present oneself in the best light and hiding important information.  The most dangerous individuals are charming or manipulative, and even the most seasoned clinicians are fooled in a one-hour interview.
“The Goldwater rule” is problematic on many fronts: it should have been invalid since 1980, when our diagnostic system changed from reliance on introspection to observation of external behavior.  It also treats the public figure like a patient, when our responsibility is to actual patients and to society, not to public figures we are not treating.  Finally, currently it has no exceptions, which means it is the only rule in medicine where danger—an emergency—exception does not apply.  This means you must violate the core tenets of medical ethics, and the humanitarian goals that all health professionals pledge to, in order to keep with this one “rule”.

Q: Do those people who are malignant narcissists, psychopaths, or sociopaths ever have periods of psychosis when under extreme pressure?

A: Psychosis is defined as detachment from reality, and since malignant narcissism, psychopathy, and sociopathy can be seen as defects in coping mechanisms, extreme pressure will make them more prone to psychotic spirals.  For example, extreme narcissism can lead one to have such difficulty coping with normal human limitations, that one must create an alternative reality where one is superhuman, an expert in all fields, and even heaven-sent.  Psychopathy or sociopathy can lead one to believe one is “the walking dead” to help explain the hollowness one feels inside.

Q: Do those referenced in prior question have the capacity for insights on how others view them? Are they capable of experiencing self-doubt or guilty feelings?

A: Insight and empathy are often what individuals with these disorders are missing.  Because they have not developmentally gone beyond the stage of distinguishing between “me” and “not me,” other people are merely extensions of themselves or instruments to use for their purposes.  They experience self-doubt or guilty feelings through projection: in other words, they perceive the anxiety they feel inside—such as doubt, confusion, and fear—as danger coming from the outside.  Unfortunately, attempts to escape or to defeat that feeling translates into attack perceived enemies or, if they are lacking, to seek scapegoats.

Q: If such a person were to be found “not guilty” in a trial for a crime they definitely committed, are they more likely to engage in other anti-social behaviors in the future?

A: Absolutely.  Because they are lacking in self-control, if the control does not come from the outside, they will keep pushing their limits.  Setting firm boundaries of behavior, and consistently returning with immediate and commensurate consequences for behavior that violates those boundaries, is one of the most important ways to deal with such defects.  Trying to elicit remorse, insight, or understanding about one’s behavior will not work.  Trying to get them to understand objective laws or rules of fairness will not work, either, for everything will be predicated around the self and whether it benefits or pleases the self.

Q: It was reported that some of the contributors to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” were scheduled to meet with elected officials in Washington, DC. When Democratic floor manager Adam Schiff spoke during the impeachment trial, he summed the president’s personality up quite well. Do you think elected officials fully recognize the threat the president poses?

A: We directly met with groups of lawmakers in December 2017 and January 2018, and they were already “fully on board,” as they told us then.  In fact, they showed great concern, and many of them stated that the president’s access to nuclear weapons was of particular concern.  Whereas we were looking to lawmakers for a solution, astonishingly, they seemed to be looking to us!  Mostly Democrats, they said they could not do anything without being the majority party, while Republicans either would not express how they truly felt or would refuse to meet with us (even though their concerns seemed to be well-known behind the scenes).  The lawmakers encouraged us to continue educating the public, for, if public opinion shifted, then they could act.

When we went to the media, however—and the media were extremely responsive at the time—the American Psychiatric Association stepped with press releases and articles, stating we were being unethical and practicing “armchair psychiatry,” using psychiatry as a “political tool” for “self-aggrandizing purposes.”  It even mobilized the New York Times to state that psychiatrists need not be heard from, and, after this, press inquiries dried up instantly and almost permanently.  Thus, by the time the Democrats had the majority in the House, the topic could no longer even be spoken about, and our situation was worse than before.  Our book, however, was distributed by citizen groups to all members of the Senate and a substantial portion of the House.  When members of the public approach lawmakers about the book, most say they have at least heard about it, if not read and have avidly recommended it to colleagues.

Q: On MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Columbia University’s John McWhorter told a story about Trump that he leaned from a reliable source. As a teen, Trump hung a small child out of a window by his ankles, and enjoyed the child’s suffering. Would such behaviors add to or reinforce your thoughts about him?

A: It is not a surprising anecdote, and consistent with the story of throwing rocks at an infant neighbor when he was a child, and punching a music teacher in the face while in primary school.  Those with psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies enjoy others’ suffering, as they envy others for having something that they lack.  The human ability to sense others’ feelings, to care about one another, and to do things that help rather than harm others, is something they do not have.  Everyone has this, no matter one’s background, personality quirks, or lifestyle—unless one is a psychopath or a sociopath—and this exclusion from the communion of human beings can be very painful.  Instead of facing this inner feeling, they transfer the pain onto others, which manifests as cruelty and pleasure at others’ suffering.

Q: In 2019, the updated edition of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” was released, with insights from 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts. Has the year that followed changed your mind on the threat he poses?

A: Not at all.  As expected, the psychological dangers we saw translated into social, cultural, political, and global dangers through the office of the presidency.  He followed exactly the course we predicted, on the timeline we estimated.  Not only that, we have gotten so good at predicting his actions, we sent in a letter of warning to the Congress (https://dangerouscase.org/urgent-letter-to-congress/) three days before he withdrew troops from northern Syria and caused the massacre of our Kurdish allies.  We sent in another warning about an impeachment proceeding without guardrails
(https://dangerouscase.org/petition-to-the-judiciary-committee/), and one month later there was the assassination of Qassim Soleimani of Iran.  We warned of the continued need to contain the psychological dangers (https://dangerouscase.org/urgent-communication-to-congress/), and now the president is on a revenge spree against those who lawfully testified against him and pardoning criminals while declaring himself the law of the land.  Because someone with his condition grows worse in a position of power, no matter what—whether you give into his pressures for more power or try to restrict him does not matter—we have not seen the worst yet.

Q: For those who are feeling depressed and anxious about current events, do you have any suggestions?

I have often said that “the Resistance” is like the immune system of the body: we must replenish ourselves, know our target, and keep healthy!  We should take mental hygiene seriously and practice it regularly.  It may sound strange, but this means setting boundaries to protect our personal and leisurely lives.  Far from being selfish or complacent, doing the things we enjoy and giving time to our loved ones are all a part of responsible action.  Allot in advance a reasonable time for the fight, and do not go beyond it.  When in it, use the time intelligently and creatively—and this includes listening to the mental health experts!  What is exhausting to others is what mental health professionals deal with on a daily basis, and we ourselves protect our mental health through boundaries while treating the sickest individuals!  Correctly understanding what is happening is most of the battle, and there are proven techniques for managing the difficult behavior we see.  Even if some methods cannot be applied to a president, the principles still apply, and there are lots of things that the public can do.  In fact, if only one recognized that true power rests with the people, and the posturing and bullying are actually façades—or fake power, like the Wizard of Oz—the people could achieve a great deal!

February 22, 2020


Two days ago, there was an OP/thread on DU:GDP that I found particularly important. It has to do with how the Russian military intelligence/ mafia can be expected to interfere with the 2020 elections. The discussion was started by a forum member who I have great respect for, and so I took a couple of minutes to add my two cents. Below is the OP/thread:


Because the general topic is one that has interested me for decades, and I've spent a good amount of time studying how outside forces attempt to infiltrate and disrupt various groups, I thought I'd expand on what I said on the previous thread. Those of my generation will certainly remember some of the examples I refer to – especially those who were active in the social-political movements of the 1960s and '70s.

It is important to be fully aware of how this will effect both the primary contests and the general election. The first thing, in my opinion, is to step back from the picture frame, to take an object look. Each one of our candidates is far, far superior to Donald Trump. More, no matter who is our eventual nominee, she/he will thoroughly defeat Trump in November, so long as we all vote for our ticket. Despite Russian and republican cheating, if we vote for the Democratic candidates at all levels, we will win the White House, keep the House, and very possibly take control of the Senate.

It's only if we fall for the divisive tricks of the Russians and republicans, that we risk defeat. Obviously, that is exactly why they invest so much energy in cheating. Foe even if they invested twice that effort in winning fairly, we would crush them in November. This is, for them, the best investment of resources.

While there will be similarities to 2016 in tactics, there will not need to be Russians meeting with Donald, Jr., at Trump Towers, or Roger Stone coordinating with Russians through shadowy cut-outs. There will not be one hundred-plus contacts between Trump's campaign and Russians. Rather, they know the model to best advance infiltrating and disrupting like a rat knows a maze it is familiar with.

Now, let's take a look at an example of this model. Please refer to pages 247 to 320 of your copy of “The Senate Watergate Report,” (Chapter 2: Campaign Tactics; Section 2: 1972 Campaign). This covers the CREEP operations commonly known as “rat-fucking,” the tactics of this maze. In this example, it is important to remember that this half of the operation is geared exclusively towards dividing the opposition, although the flip-side applies to uniting the base.

Before sending individuals to infiltrate and then disrupt the opposition, those in charge identify four factors: the opposition's biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds. Those four factors are necessary in order to effectively disrupt – “divide and conquer” – the target group. Proof of this is relatively found in every operation of this type, be it the historic examples of the CIA destabilizing foreign governments in the post-WW2 era, the FBI's programs against the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement in the 1960s – '70s, and in the political campaigns of republican presidential candidates, including Nixon and every republican candidate up until 2004, then again in 2016.

Those four factors are the “fault lines” that infiltrators seek to apply pressure upon to create the cracks of division. It goes beyond having a player in the media write bullshit about Senator Ed Muskie in the '72 primary. It was having plants in each of our candidate's campaigns, people who could not only copy important documents for CREEP, but also to pass on forged documents to turn one campaign against another. (In fairness, I admit I am not 100% objective about Muskie. He was my favorite politician in the 1970s, and I was honored to get to know him post-'72.)

Food for thought: how many groups are infiltrated? Watch Michael Moore's classic “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Focus on the scene with the “radical” cookies & milk anti-war group. This was simply to monitor the group, of course. Yet, I would imagine that many of us who have been involved in anti-war, environmental, and similar groups, have had experiences with infiltrators and agitators. In Native American work, for example, I learned to easily identify those who joined, sough positions, spread rumors, and advocated militant actions. I've had some adventures.

Next, it is essential to understand that while some parts of an operation are constant, the actual goal is unique to the situation at hand. In cases such as Malcolm X (killed 55 years ago yesterday), Fred Hampton, and Martin Luther King, they executed their goal in a manner distinct from disrupting the anti-war movement. In political campaigns, the goal is always divide and conquer. Yet, it would be an error to assume that the rat-fucking done in 1972 is exact to the Russian-republican operation of 2016 or 2020. The Senate Watergate Report quotes from Patrick Buchanan, who helped CREEP identify George McGovern as the most vulnerable candidate, for a variety of reasons, including polls.

Yet today, polls show that each of our potential candidate would defeat Trump. Thus, they have identified the biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds within the Democratic Party as the fault-lines that, under pressure, can divide our party. Again, the only way Trump might defeat the eventual candidate – no matter who it is – is to divide the Democratic Party. And the sad thing is that there is fertile ground within our party for them to sow the seeds of division. All one needs to do is read DU:GDP to easily identify those biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds.

It is possible to see how those same four factors are used to arouse and united the republican base, for their four most common shared features are their biases, prejudices, fears, and hatreds. Obama was an atheist Muslim, born in Africa. Hillary Clinton wanted your shotgun. “Illegal immigrants” want not only your job, but to rape your wife and daughters. Democrats are socialist – all of them. Place a short fuse to a keg of ignorance, and republicans will support the lowest of low-lives, Donald Trump.

This, of course, brings us back to the less “hands-on” role that the Russian military intelligence/ mafia needs to play in 2020. They've trained thousands of rats to run the maze, to spread the disinformation and misinformation on the internet. And some of these same rats “join” a Democratic Party campaign to plant those seeds of division, to appeal to biases and prejudices, and to capitalize on the fears and hatreds of parts of our party. I will suggest that, for but one example, the nest of retired FBI agents – the same ones that fed Rudy G information to spread in 2016 – are busy doing this today.

Be aware! Be awake! And do not allow yourself to be drawn into foolish fights with other Democrats. Each one of our candidates represents a significant group of Democrats. We need every one of us to vote for the Democratic ticket in November. Let's keep our eyes on the prize.

H2O Man

February 20, 2020

Back to the Garden

It's a bright, sunny day in rural upstate New York. A bit cold out there, turning yesterday's snow melt into a sheet of ice on my sidewalk and driveway. I carry a bag out to the compost pile near my garden, happy to be beyond the ice. The birds that feast upon left-over cat and dog food call out warnings as my steps make crunching noises as I crush the crust on the snow. After dumping the organic waste on the large compost pile, I turn and look at the snow-covered garden. It glistens in the sun shine.

Today is February 19, I say to myself. The month is two-thirds over, and March is coming up. I'm looking forward to start work on the garden that my son constructed for me last year. Although it is much smaller than the gardens I have had over the decades, it still produces a fair amount of healthy food, and to grow some roses. I love growing roses.

There are large stacks of firewood at the eastern edge of the garden. Oak, locus, pine, maple, and others are stacked near the 7' by 7' fire pit my son built for me. There is a picnic table and benches nearby, which get good use when my children visit me. I also enjoy sitting alone at night, watching a fire, during the warmer months. Because there is no one within hearing distance, I begin to sing “Woodstock (Back to the Garden).”

Back inside, Sam's tail is wagging. A faithful dog, he actually seems to enjoy my attempts to sing. Greater love has no dog than this. Looking out a window, I see a flock of starlings has returned to the clonal colony of sumac, picking through the panicles for seeds. As I turn on the television, Sam pushes his enormous head onto my lap, insisting upon my undivided attention.

As I watch reports on Trump's pardons, I have the sensation of the couch beginning to move. I think that I've left America, and entered the 4th dimension of parasomnia, far beyond night terror. I see Bill Barr grinning as he begins eating the Constitution. Donald Trump has worked himself into a trance-like state as he calls upon the spirits of Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin to make themselves comfortable in the White House. A crowd of people chant, “We must nominate Mitt Romney! Only he can save us!” Then I hear Lawrence Welk singing Jimi's question: “Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?”

I turn off the television, and instinctively put on Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower. “There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief. There's too much confusion – I can't get no relief.” I feel myself being hurled through a long, dark tunnel, towards a bright light. Suddenly, I realize I am on my couch, staring out the window at the sun. “Toto, you're here!” I say, as I pet Sam's belly. My eyes search the room for friends and relatives, and then remember I'm here alone with my dogs.

Somewhat grounded into reality, I avoid the risks of watching television for the rest of the day. But at 9 pm/est, I turn on the Democratic debate. I find myself thinking that the panel asking questions are largely characters from my earlier waking-nightmare. Most of their questions have little to do with how we deal with the horrors that Trump has inflicted upon the nation, much less what another four years of his madness would bring into being. Instead, they are baiting our candidates, looking to create petty fights that risk dividing our party.

I take three phone calls during the debate. Each one involves a friend asking, “What the fuck is going on?” By no coincidence, this is the exact question that my son keeps asking as we watch the debate unfold. My response is admittedly sparse: rather than seeking to unite our party in identifying the candidate who is best prepared to defeat Trump in November, this “debate” risks dividing the supporters of the various candidates in a manner that threatens unity in the Democratic Party.

Is that a real risk, you may be asking? Good question. For an answer, read through much of the hostility being voiced on DU:GDP last night and this morning. Keep in mind that a divided Democratic Party is Trump's wettest dream. Read the Senate Committee on Watergate's report, specifically the large section on how Nixon's CREEP infiltrated the various Democratic primary campaigns, seeking to destroy the possibility of party unity before the national convention. Remember what the Russian's accomplished in 2016.

Turn away from that direction. Each and every single candidate we have is far superior to Trump. Each one could beat him in a general election, if we remain united in our purpose. This does not imply advocating for your favorite one. But it does mean not participating in attacking any of the others, or insulting other Democrats who prefer a different candidate. It means making a conscious effort not to repeat or spread the half-truths and outright lies that are being injected into the public debate by our opposition.

We've got to get back to the garden. Together.

H2O Man
February 18, 2020

Debate Survey

“If you can't say something nice, say something surrealistic.” – Zippy the Pinhead

Below are five general questions on debates in a presidential contest, including in both primaries and general election contests. I am interested in people's opinions. There are no “wrong” answers, only correct ones.

I will post my very favorite moment below.

How important do you think that debates are?

Do you watch all of the debates that are televised?

Are debates among primary candidates either more of less important than those of candidates in the general elections?

Is talent in “debating” an important skill for presidential (and vice presidential) candidates?

What was your favorite debate ?

Thank you,
H2O Man
February 15, 2020

Your Opinion, Please.

“Reality distorts my sense of television.” – Zippy the Pinhead

It is interesting to compare and contrast that which is reported on CNN and MSNBC, to what gets posted on DU:GDP, when it comes to the primaries. Frequently, over the years I have been here during primaries – 2004, '08, '12, '16, and now – some of the DU community will state that this forum does not accurately represent “the party.” And, in the sense that there aren't governors, or members of the House and Senate posting here, that is absolutely correct.

However, in another sense, DU:GDP does represent large segments of our party. We have members who advocate – often intensely, and perhaps more so than than is helpful – for a specific candidate; they are representative of those who work for or volunteer with a candidate's campaign. Indeed, on the television, we see campaign representatives who make solid points for their candidate, and some who tend to focus on insulting other candidate.

We've witnessed some of the dynamics that create tensions within the Democratic Party being intelligently discussed here. For an obvious example, at the start, there were a number of non-white, non-male candidates. Today, the field of candidates is all white. Yet, it includes two strong women, and a young gay man. At the same time, the republican party is stuck with a ball & chain named Donald Trump. I'm mighty happy to be a Democrat.

I have a few questions for anyone who cares to take the time to respond. There are no “wrong” answers, only people's opinions. I appreciate any and all responses.

How important is it to have volunteers making phone calls and going door-to-door in a campaign? Does it make any difference if it is a primary or general election contest?

In terms of financing: do you favor funding with small donations, corporate money to PACs, a combination of the two, or self-funding?

Do you think the party should focus more upon appealing to non-party members to the left, the right, or both about equally?

Which general age group, if any, should be the central GOTV focus – 18 to 39, 40 to 62, or 63+?

Again, there are no “wrong” answers. And this should not be mistaken for a scientific survey by any means. But it is of interest to me, and perhaps others. Thank you.

H2O Man

February 13, 2020

All Together Now (Part Two)

Late last night, I found myself thinking of the question that Beatle John posed to Paul on an early morning phone call: “What if Ringo was being followed by a yellow submarine?” Within a matter of weeks, this resulted in the song “Yellow Submarine,” which eventually resulted in the movie of the same title. The above clip is from the end of that film.

Today, of course, we know that the germ of Blue Meanie has undergone several mutations, and so we are confronted with the dangerous strain best identified as the Orange Meanie. We know that it spreads rapidly throughout crowds of stupid people. Social scientists have determined that the spread of the disease does not require intimate contact, although sharing the same 12-pack of Budweiser increases the risk of transmission. The Orange Meanie virus rapidly attacks the frontal lobes of its victims, making logical though difficult if not impossible. Sadly, evidence indicates those suffering from this anti-social disease become addicted to Fox News.

Due to the very real dangers this virus poses, I do not think we have time to keep its victims in our thoughts and prayers. It is too late for that. Instead, we have to focus upon not allowing this disease to spread and destroy our society. There are two steps that we need to keep in mind. Let's look at them.

The other night, I watched MSNBC's Chris Hayes telling his audience not to fall for the republican effort to portray Trump as unbeatable in 2020. As Mr. Hayes correctly noted, virtually every one of our current candidates kick's Trump's fat, flabby ass in every poll. More, by examining those times when Trump's popularity dropped in polls over the last three years, we identify the issues our party needs to campaign against him.

By staying intensely focused upon these issues, we are able to safely take that second step. Think about this: when is an asymptomatic carrier of a disease – such as the Russian internet virus that attacked the 2016 election – most dangerous? The simple but certain answer is when it finds divisions within the body of the Democratic Party. It attaches itself to any and every division it finds, knowing that in a certain percentage, it finds a host that allows it to divide the party. Male versus female. Skin color. Progressive versus liberal. Sexual orientation.

It is not a coincidence that the very issue the Orange Meanies hope to divide us on, are the very issues that unite their ranks. Think about that.

Do not allow the Orange Meanies to define reality. Instead, remain focused on crushing Donald Trump and his band of merry fools in November. If you favor a specific candidate, than advocate for him/her by identifying their strengths. Avoid insulting those who support another candidate, no matter how tempting it is to take a cheap shot at them. Stop saying that any of our candidates “can't” beat Trump, for as Joe Biden recently noted, we could run Mickey Mouse and defeat him.

The path to victory was mapped out in the movie “Yellow Submarine.”

All together now,
H2O Man
February 12, 2020

All Together Now

As I wait for the results from New Hampshire, I find myself confidently thinking that any one of our candidates would kick Trump's fat, saggy ass. I watched some of Chris Hayes of MSNBC recently telling an audience not to fall for the republican attempt to make Trump appear impossible to beat. He noted that each of our candidates is beating Trump in current polls. Mr. Hayes is an intelligent man, who understands that by checking when Trump's popularity has dropped in past polls, we can identify the issues to campaign on.

Since I decided not to back any primary candidate, but to instead focus entirely on campaigning for whoever our party picks to head our ticket in November, I've found myself liking each of our candidates for many reasons. It's not just that anyone is better than Trump. Each one would make a solid president. I thought I'd take a minute to say something positive about each one.

Joe Biden: I first became aware of him in the mid-1970s. My extended family self-identified as “Kennedy Democrats.” An aunt and uncle from Scranton, both university professors, were keen on any Democrat that originally lived in Scranton. They told me that Biden was likely to become “the next RFK.” Biden is a good man, with great experience. Much of the world would be relieved to see him as president.

Michael Bloomberg: Back in the period where town of Sidney supervisor Bob McCarthy threatened to force a Sufi community to destroy its cemetery, I helped in organizing a united front to get him and his mutant tea party buddies out of office. Bloomberg sent representatives there, to watch how we accomplished that feat. His people were particularly impressed with my nephew. Though he had beliefs and practices that I disagreed with in the past, I recognize that people can change. Robert Kennedy is a great example.

Pete Buttigieg: Young, and creating excitement. He has military experience, and was in the Office pf Naval Intelligence. He is talking about our future in an understandable, intelligent way. He is a strong campaigner.

Amy Klobuchar: This lady has a lot of positives. Her record is impressive. She has shown the ability to work across the aisle to get results. She's popular in a region we need to win in November. I'd love to see her make Trump cry in a debate.

Bernie Sanders: I first met Bernie in 1983, when he was a mayor. His values and positions have been consistent since then. He has wide appeal among the “under 40” voters, and represents a significant segment of our party.

Tom Steyer: He has come across as a nice guy in the debates. He has an interesting history. His group NextGenAmerica has done good work on the environment, immigration, education, and health care. While fund-raising for President Obama in 2012, he expressed his strong opposition to the Keystone pipeline.

Elizabeth Warren: My great aunts were FDR Democrats, and union activists. Although I never met them, I do know a lot about them. Several times, I've found myself remembering them, when I listen to Senator Warren speak. I know that they'd love Elizabeth Warren, just as my daughters do.

Andrew Yang: Some time back, my youngest son stopped in to see me. I could see that he was excited. He said, “Patrick, I've got a guy you really have to listen to!” We watched Andrew talk about automation taking jobs, and how that impacted the 2016 elections. My son likes that Andrew Yang has helped create jobs, and understands what employment will be like in the future. I like how he communicates on important issues in a logical way that is easy to understand.

Good luck to each of the candidates who are participating in New Hampshire! And good luck to everyone's choice in the future primaries.

H2O Man
February 10, 2020

Never Forget

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.” -- Gandhi

Never forget that Donald J. Trump is the only president that has been impeached in the 21st century. And there isn't anything that he can do to change that.

February 6, 2020

Extraordinary Popular Delusions

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
Charles MacKay; Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds (1841)

They would later say the crowd was so loud that they couldn't hear themselves tune their guitars. They were used to screaming during their concerts, but it was becoming more intense. Being the Beatles, they could afford the strongest marijuana available, and had gotten high before going on stage. As they were playing, John noticed that he could get waves of madness from the audience, by moving the neck of his guitar.

John realized then that the audience was an organism, rather than a collection of individuals. He had become increasingly unhappy about touring. This sealed it for him. In a short time, the Beatles would stop going on the road.

I was thinking of this when Trump read the state of the union address. Like every conscious human being who listened to it, the speech that Stephen Miller wrote for him was disturbing. And how could it not be? For Trump and Miller are highly disturbed individuals.

This morning, I was thinking about the people who support Trump. The republican chant, “Four more years” was pathetic. Some are true believers with a shared goal of destroying the Constitution ( **except Amendment 2), others are moral cowards afraid of their own shadows. And, of course, the 40% of voters who support him.

Trump tipped the neck of his guitar at the brain-dead fans of Rush Limbaugh. Steve Bannon and Alex Jones surely are next on Trump's list of American heroes. I recognized that I was thinking about this too much. I needed to “turn off my mind, relax, and float downstream.” So I laid on the couch, and watched two old documentaries.

The shows were about Jim Jones, of Guyana infamy. Bad choices if one did not want to think about the Trump cult. Jones and Trump speak the same language. They share the same skill-sets, and though their paths are different, both will lead their flock to the lowest of elevations of the plain of Shinar.

The major difference between the two is that Jones had, as a young adult, actually done some good work with the poor and marginalized. But power went to his head, and he mistakenly mistook himself as the source of Good. This delusion and significant substance abuse combined to reduce him to Trump's level of being. He preyed upon people's weaknesses, and used some basic techniques to reduce his flock into sheep. The end result was much what Trump's path will lead to, without intervention.

Eventually I turned the television off. My dog Sam got off his chair as I got off the couch, He knocked three books off of a book shelf. As I picked them up, I noticed one was C.G. Jung's 1968, “Analytical Psychology: Its Theory & Practice.” Immediately, I though this collection of his lectures would afford me a vacation from Trump.

After sitting down and opening the book, I was reminded that 23 years ago, my oldest daughter, then 3, decided to read my book. Crayon in hand, she made notes to herself and future readers, scribbling on almost every page of about a fifth of the book. Were Jung alive, I'd ask him what he saw in the lines and lopsided attempts at circles my daughter made.

Instead, I turned to the back of the book, without any scribbling on it. I went to Lecture Five, starting on page 151. I find Jung fascinating, and was convinced that this would allow me to let my mind wander where his lecture led the audience. Enough time wasted thinking of Trump, I thought. But then on page 183, he said that all of the things that happen consciously are merely the surface, that “what the unconscious really contains are the great collective events of the time.” In that part of the human mind, he said, “history prepares itself; and when the archetypes are activated in a number of individuals and comes to the surface, we are in the midst of history, as we are now.”

That sounded uncomfortably close to the current situation. Way too close. Jung went on to explain that as the groundwork was being set in place below the surface in Germany before WW2, he recognized ripples rising up in people's subconscious. As early as 1918, he wrote that the “blond beast” was rising from the collective unconscious of the German people. He knew that something terrible would change world history as a result.

****************** ********************

I didn't finish this last night, so I'll try to wrap it up this morning. I just saw a clip of Trump attacking Nancy and Mitt at the payer breakfast. It fits in with the theme of this essay in a curious way. Perhaps that is fitting for an non-curious specimen like Trump.

The sacred texts of the world generally fall into two types: the generally subjective interpretations of the group's history, and psychological road signs pointing the route to eventual enlightenment. Since we all know how the 2016 election was stolen, we will focus upon the latter. For sake of this discussion, one does not need to be “religious,” or “spiritual.” Indeed, while this encompasses religion and spirituality, it is also a form of humanism.

Today, for example, our understanding of brain chemistry allows us to recognize that people once considered to be “possessed” are suffering from mental illness. Columbia University's Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Michael Stone uses gradations of “evil” to rank violent criminals on a scale, though not in a religious context. Our understanding of human behavior is no longer defined, to use a Carl Sagan line, by shadows of forgotten ancestors.

Thus, when we view the unconscious group force that Trump is attempting to call forth in America today, it is the “monster” or “beast” that ancient texts speak of. It has risen and fallen throughout the tides of human civilization. It's not a red devil with a long tail, horns, and a pitchfork. No, today it's a fat old fool in a suit with a long necktie, blurting threats directed at anyone and everyone he deems as his enemy. It's the amoeba-brained republicans cheering, “Four more years.” It's the people who think Rush Limbaugh deserves a medal.

We are the conscious majority. Our resistance is the democratic response to the threat to the Constitution. Our duty is to render Trump and the cowards in DC soon-to-be forgotten missing links.

Peace H2O Man

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