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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 63,643

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Dr. Jekyll & Robert Hyde

Definition of mobster: a member of a criminal gang.

Definition of mafia: (a) a secret criminal society of Sicily or Italy; (b) a similarly conceived criminal organization in the U.S. Or elsewhere.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary


I do not think any forum members here were surprised by the news about former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. I could be wrong, of course, though I doubt it. But I do think that lots of Americans are shocked.

Before I talk about this, I'd like to share a short story. A number of my father's thirteen siblings had careers in law enforcement and intelligence. One, a senior investigator in the NYS BCI, was experienced in investigating the mafia. Being a first-generation Irish-American, his specialty was not the Italian mafia, but the Irish mob that infected numerous large cities in the US. I remember listening, from my bedroom door, as he told my father one episode in particular.

He attended a meeting at the top floor of a high-rise. When everyone had arrived, the top man became very serious, and said that they knew for certain that one man there was a cop, and he thought he knew who. The room became very quiet for a moment, before they grabbed some poor bastard, tied rope around his ankles, and let him hang outside from a window to get him to admit his dishonorable role.

I remember my father saying, “Jesus! You must have been scared to death!” “No,” my uncle said, “I was too busy saying 'drop the son-of-a-bitch' to be nervous.” The immoral of this story is that membership in organized crime is a high-risk life style.

I also remember my uncle saying that organized crime depended upon two things: loyalty and keeping your mouth shut. The most successful mobsters in the days of old knew to keep a low profile. The flamboyant John Gotti was the exception to the rule, at a time when organized crime was undergoing significant changes in America.

Now, you can imagine how frustrating it was for my brothers and I – poor, dumb kids from a small farm in the sticks – when almost every time an urban boxing promoter showed serious interest in us, my father had his brothers come and speak to us. We'd say how nice these guys treated us great. Another uncle who was a BCI senior investigator said, “Off course they are. But that changes once you are indebted to them.” This uncle sent one promoter my brother and I hung out ringside at Madison Square Garden for the second Ali vs Frazier bout, to the federal prison. He told us that once you are in debt to these guys, you rarely get out. That's not how they grow their business.

One of Trump's business relationships that stands out to me was when he partnered with Don King to promote top boxing matches in his Atlantic City Casino. In the early 1950s, he began running a bookmaking operation in Cleveland. King had killed two men, one in 1954 and one in 1967. He shot his first victim in the back, and stomped the second to death over a $600 debt. He went to prison.

Upon Don's release in the early 1970s, he began working to promote boxing in Cleveland. In a really short time, he promoted the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Zaire. Within years, he was so powerful a promoter that he was able to get a 1983 pardon from Ohio's republican governor James Rhodes. It's not good to have a murder conviction on one's record, if one seeks a license to manage boxers.

In time, King connected with Trump. Lots of King's champions fought in top fights in Trump's casino. Millions of dollars were made, although in at least seven cases, King would later be sued for hia failure to pay his fighters. You can see why Don and Donald got along so well.

This wasn't a one-time relationship to organized crime. We know that Trump dealt with the mob when he hired construction companies for building projects. They were the only group that he paid in full. That was when Michael Cohen was representing Trump. Cohen was introduced to those representing Russian interests in the US. In his post-bankruptcy days, these interests helped Trump access the only bank loans available to him.

It's also known that the Russians actively interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump is the only person who denies this. Those Russian interests supporting Trump is the unholy trinity of government, military intelligence, and the mob. They have, through Putin, exercised power over Trump as needed since he took office. There is a significant amount of evidence about this that isn't made public, largely due to its classification. But another stumbling block has been an unwillingness of republicans to look into Trump's corruption.

And how could they? Take, for example, Devin Nunes. Again, forum members knew Nunes was involved in the Ukraine scandal. We didn't need to see Lev Parnas being interviewed by Rachal Maddow to know – as important as that interview was. But the public needs to see it, and the related information being made public. And we all need to know about Robert Hyde.

Trump has been attempting to create an administration based upon the Putin model. In doing so, he has severely damaged the US government domestically and internationally. By using the mob organizational structure, he was able to avoid responsibility for the Trump-Russian scandal. He became emboldened to try the same gig with Ukraine. Trump did his best impression of a tough guy, an act he literally only drops when he interacts with Putin. For Trump is a loud-mouthed, disloyal, petty mobster, who quivers in fear when he encounters Putin. There is a reason.

Now that the true nature of the administration is being exposed, we are witnessing the biggest mafia melt-down of our times. It involves the impeachment trial of the president, and other things being pulled in by Trump's gravitational pull – such as Parnas's criminal case. We will not see the players remaining silent out of loyalty, for that silence can only come from fear of the Russian mob, not the president's operation. Members of that group of fools will be hung out to dry.

Peace,
H2O Man

That was a good debate.

I think that each and every candidate on stage tonight demonstrated that they be superior president than Trump. That should be obvious to each and every Democrat watching the debate. None of these candidates is "perfect," and every voter will not have their first choice nominated. But there is every reason to be confident that we will have a strong and capable ticket in November.

The only question, in my opinion, is how far we are all willing to go to win the White House? What that translates to, again in my opinion, is if we as individuals are willing to focus on why the candidate we support is the best option. What are her/his strengths, what policy differences she/he may have with other candidates, and how she/he is the strongest candidate for the fifty state elections that combine to make the presidential race.

That's how we keep our eyes on the prize. The other things are distractions that lack the ability to benefit the Democratic Party's ticket in 2020.

Peace,
H2O Man

Everything Ain't Swell

Reports today are confirming what was hinted at last night on the news: both Iraqi and US forces had been given two days' notice before the missile attack. Why was this, and what does it mean in the days to come? There are benefits accrued from stepping outside of the frame to get an accurate and objective view of a picture, and I'd suggest that this is the case today.

Last night, both on this forum and in other communications, I said that I did not think things were as bad as they appeared to be – although they did seem terrible, and there was a very negative potential. The greatest danger, in my opinion, was that Donald Trump's mushroom would cloud reality. But I noted that sane people, including some from the US, though more from other nations, were stepping up to prevent Trump from igniting the Middle East.

One such man would be the now “retired” British diplomat William Patey. He is the type of person that we should be listening closely to. I'm not sure how many people remember him from his service in Afghanistan during 2010 to 2012, when he coordinated his efforts with the Obama administration.

Patey has many years of experience in the Middle East, starting back in the late 1970s. He served in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. He advocated for democratic evolution, rather than violent revolution. And even in retirement, he has kept up to date on issues involving the US and Iran.

Thus, he knows that before the recent events in Iraq that have resulted in escalating tensions, there was actually progress being made – indirectly – at bringing the world community back to the negotiating table to resolve the issues involving the US and Iran. Moderate voices within Iran had been gaining some degree of power, and were expressing willingness to talk about more than the nuclear deal. There was a very real potential for negotiations to include the much larger problems with violence in other Middle Eastern countries.

While I do not know this for sure, I will speculate that NATO countries were most likely not sharing daily updates with this progress with Donald Trump. Hence, it is possible, even very likely, that Trump was clueless about what he was actually damaging. Admittedly, I could be wrong, but this would seem consistent with Trump's overall ignorance, and our allies' contempt for him.

By assassinating General Soleimani, Trump upset the balance that men and women like Patey were advancing. There is no question that this action resulted – at least temporarily – in the more conservative Iranian leaders gaining more influence inside their country. It was immediately obvious that Iranians would demand a military response to Soleimani's death.

By way of sane people – thus, unknown to Trump, although some in the US were aware – a negotiated Iranian response was agreed upon. The Iraqi militias with ties to Iran actually warned the Iraqi military in advance, and their military was among those who warned the US military: missiles would fly, and do some damage. But no US or Iraqi people would be killed. And that is exactly what happened last night.

Ambassador Patey has noted that this has altered the dynamic, both in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Though the missile attack was not what it had first appeared to be, it does allow the conservative Iranian leadership to convince their people that they not only hit back hard, but that they struck the last blow. More, events further cemented the view of US allies that Trump is dangerously imbalanced, and poses a severe threat to any prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Indeed, Patey has said that all in all, Iran came out ahead in recent events. Meanwhile, America's reel life Zippy the Pinhead has re-focused his rage back to President Obama. I think it's possible that Trump will text that US intelligence is investigating if Obama was born in Iran. And I'm sure he will demand a Nobel Peace Prize for the mess he has made.

Peace,
H2O Man

Carthage

Last September, in conversations with friends from this forum and elsewhere, we discussed how the Trump – Ukraine scandal was likely to play out. I said that the House would impeach him, and that Trump would react by attempting to start a fight with Iran to distract attention from his corruption. This wasn't because I am particularly smart or insightful; rather, it had to do with a letter dating from June 26, 1979 from the Hurricane.

I was thinking about that letter as I was discussing the situation with Iran with community members here a couple of days ago. It was at a time when Rubin was in a self-imposed isolation within the New Jersey prison, which was distinct from the numerous episodes of being put in solitary confinement, or placed in the Vroom Psychiatric Unit, behind Trenton State Prison.

This was an interesting time in the world of politics. The people of Iran had joined together in opposition to the Shah, who had recently left the country, never to return. The US and its European allies had assisted in the return of a cleric who had been in exile for 14 years, most of the time living in Iraq. President Carter had hoped to prevent a post-Shah military takeover, and Ayatollah Khomeini had assured the US that he would not stop selling our country oil.

At this time, the various factions inside the Islamic Republic of Iran were attempting to define if their country would be ruled primarily by religion, or if it would be a republic. Iranian students had invaded the US embassy, but Khomeini had ordered them out. It was before the students again entered the embassy and took hostages. It was a little before Saddam Hussein, who as the #2 leader in Iraq had forced Khomeini to leave, and then after taking full power, would initiate the Iraq-Iran war.

It was also a bit before a group of Canadians first contacted Rubin. At the time, he was only communicating with three people outside of prison. One was, of course, myself; at the time I was young, idealistic, and rather radical in my political philosophy. I was convinced that there was an “Answer” to society's problems, and while at this late date I can not remember the precise question(s) I had asked Rubin, I was looking towards “what can be done?”

“Noe before we get to this question of DOING something,” Rubin wrote, “there is yet another question tat is connected with it, and that is: If, indeed, ANYTHING can BE done! …..and also (the) thinking that those who ARE in in positions of authority don't care and aren't doing their jobs, or that they are not doing them in the way they SHOULD be done. But is that REALLY a fact, or is it not a fact that everyone always thinks that he can do it better? It always seems to us that that other people invariably do things wrongly. When, in reality, whatever is BEING done, and particularly what HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE, cannot be, and could not have been done – in view of all that has gone on before it – in any OTHER way!

“Prove it, you say? And I say the proof is in the pudding: TODAY is what it IS because YESTERDAY is what it was ! And if today is like yesterday, then tomorrow will be like today. Which means that if we want tomorrow to be different, than we must first make TODAY different! But if today is simply a CONSEQUENCE of yesterday, the tomorrow will also be a consequence today in exactly the same way Do you see what I'm getting at? And if one has studied most thoroughly what has happened yesterday, or the day before, or a week before that, a year, or even ten years BEFORE that – than one can say without fear of making a mistake WHAT exactly WILL or WILL NOT happen tomorrow!' ….

“ So everything is going in the only way it CAN go. The only thing that can CHANGE are people. People can be different. And if people were DIFFERENT, than EVERYTHING would also BE different. But people are always acting out of their nationalistic PRIDE – or should we say ignorance? People are always German, French, Dutch, African, American, Russian or Chinese; we are always black, white, red, yellow or brown; we are Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists; we are democrats, or republicans, conservatives or liberals; we belong to THIS group or that GROUP of people, always dividing ourselves, always seeking to conquer, always quarreling and forever fighting – and because people ARE exactly WHAT they are, everything IS as it is, and it CAN BE NO DIFFERENT!

“People throughout the ages have always believed in mechanical evolution and mechanical progress. But there has been NO progress and there is no PROGRESS, whatsoever! Everything is just the same today as it was a thousand, or tens of thousands, of years ago. The outer forms may have changed, but the essence always remains the same. Which means that MAN remains the same. And today's so-called civilized and cultured people live with EXACTLY the SAME interest and motivations as did our most ignorant and savage ancestors! Today's so-called modern civilization is based on violence and slavery and fine words in just the same way it always has been. And exactly as it always has been; all of those fine words about 'progress' and 'culture' and 'civilization' are exactly that – MERELY FINE WORDS, but utterly without meaning.”

Now, he wrote that at a time when he believed he was very unlikely to ever get out of prison. Is case had been through the New Jersey courts for over a decade, being passed around in a manner that made it difficult to get it into federal court. However, his legal team was still working on this, and a few things were beginning to show promise.

The letter – which is very long – went on to say numerous other things. He talked at length about the very real chance that, in my lifetime, I would see the United States becoming the newest version of Nazi Germany. He saw a cancer-bud that was digging its roots into the ground. But he also spoke hopefully about human evolution – the same topic we continued to discuss after he got out of prison, and that he wrote and spoke publicly until his death in 2014.

Around the globe, within humanity, I see both forces taking place. It's up to us, people.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Taste of Blood

“The term predatory aggression is used for dogs who stare at a target creature, move silently and quickly with a grab-bite to the jugular or abdomen – the vital organs. A hallmark of this is the sudden, impulsive action of the dog. For many dogs, this may be the only type of aggression they show. It is dangerous because it cannot be trained, medicated or counter conditioned out of them. You may have a dog who chased cats be commanded to stay or sit around the cat, but they will still chase the cat down at some point. I have seen this happen. This aggression is shocking to the owners because it comes out suddenly and it is directed to what we do not see as prey. But the dog’s instinct tells otherwise.”

https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/killer-dogs-predation-and-predatory-aggression-in-pets/



I love dogs. I've had dogs all of my life. But since Trump frequently calls his enemies “dogs,” I am opting to use canines to illustrate a point about him.

For most of my life, I've raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. Started when I was seven years old. I'm not including chickens as a reference to Trump, though, as I think “coward” is more accurate. Anyhow, at one point, I got some Japanese Silkie chickens. My grandfather said it was a mistake, because one of my dogs was a Malamute.

He said that she would kill those birds, and once she had a taste for blood, would begin killing other animals. I said that she was an intelligent dog, and I'd teach her not to. He said, “Like hell you will.” And, of course, he was correct. She began killing other animals, and even attacked a number of porcupines. Even that initial experience didn't teach her to stop attacking porcupines.

I'm not trying to say that Trump is as intelligent as my dog was. He's definitely not as strong, nor could he run in snow like she did. Still, I told this story, to set up another one.

Since Trump has taken office, I've referred to him on this forum as a sociopath. I haven't intended that as an insult, but rather, as an accurate description of the essence of his being. And just as dogs, chickens, and porcupines behave according to their nature, so does a sociopath.

My job included working with a number of clients who were sociopaths. It also included having several co-workers who were a heck of a lot smarter than me, and who helped me apply my training in dealing with sociopaths. One in particular, who I am still close friends with, taught me something important. She couldn't predict when certain of those clients would act out violently, but she was 100% accurate in predicing which ones would.

As I've noted many times on this forum, as pressures increase on Trump, there is a growing likelihood of his lashing out. Despite his constant attempts to sound like a tough guy – pathetically claiming to be a “counter-puncher,” an art that requires a full detachment from emotions – he is a weakling, a coward. So I never thought he would actually shoot someone on Fifth Ave, much less start a fist-fight.

But I did fear that he would get a taste for blood. An that doubles in danger, in the context of his attempting to out do President Obama – specifically for Obama's role in the killing of Usama bin Laden. For jealousy and cowardice amplify one another in a bad way. We remember last October, when al-Baghdadi was killed, Trump's feeble attempt to claim it was more significant than the killing of bin Laden.

Regardless of if this was justified or not in military terms, it gave Trump a taste for blood. That taste was reinforced by the chemical reactions in his brain – the excitement was, in his mind, a good thing. He believed it made him a hero in his supporters' minds. For Donald Trump, thrill-seeking became connected to killing, just like a dog.

What happened yesterday in Iraq comes as no surprise. Numerous forum members here have expressed concern that Trump would try to distract from his impeachment by starting a war with Iran. Again, this is separate from if killing Soleimani was a justified military action or not. The fact is that Trump is wholly unqualified to serve as commander in chief under ANY circumstances, and poses a greater danger to domestic and international security than any other person on our planet. Add to this the fact that Soleimani has been traveling openly in Iraq and elsewhere for years – unlike, say, bin Laden – and would have been an open target to easily kill if that was deemed necessary from a military viewpoint.

That this taste of blood happens at the exact time when even more documentation of Trump's corrupt dealings with Ukraine are spilling out, and his impeachment trial approaches, does not appear to be a coincidence. Of course, I do not believe in “coincidence” to begin with

We are in a dangerous time. It may become far worse in an instant. As Democrats, citizens of the United States and indeed, of the world, this time calls upon each of us to join together to remove Trump from office as soon as possible. That requires our putting any minor differences behind us – it doesn't matter, for example, which candidate one supports in the primaries, but it does matter that we not engage in attacking another candidate or her/his supporters. No, we need to all support whoever is on our ticket in November. And to get there, we have to be united now, in this hour of darkness.

Peace,
H2O Man

War Children


“The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.” – George W. Bush; 10-7-2002


I think that every rational American knows that the Bush-Cheney military invasion of Iraq was horribly wrong. Although the “official” start of the war was in March of 2003, evidence documents that members of the Bush administration were making plans to invade Iraq even before events on 9/11, and became solidified after that date.

The purposeful lies were coordinated efforts at “perception management,” as the administration hired “experts” in that field to help them sell the war to the American public. This included purposeful lies, most famously about “yellow cake.” We were told by Condi Rice (on CNN) and others that “we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” The connections between “journalists” and intelligence were exposed by the New York Times' Judith Miller.

Those of us who were on the Democratic Underground remember that everyone here knew the administration was full of shit, that the WMD “threat” was bullshit, and that the invasion and military occupation of Iraq was a disaster. We understood, to quote Edgar Allan Poe, the “sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity.”

The closest that anyone associated with the Bush-Cheney administration came to telling the truth was when unconvicted war criminal Henry Kissinger – the advising George W. Bush, said, “They [American forces] are there as an expression of the American national interest to prevent the Iranian combination of imperialism and fundamentalist ideology from dominating a region on which the energy supplies of the industrial democracies depend.”

A bumper-sticker at the time summed it up with the question, “How did all of our oil end up under their sand?” This stood in stark contrast to the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln that hung behind Bush on his May 1, 2003 “victory” speech.

Between that asinine speech and 2019, American military members and “contractors” continued to kill and be killed in Iraq. Nothing says “victory” like sixteen years of violence. Yet, perhaps because the US role in Iraq is covered far less frequently in the media, far too few people discuss what the heck we are doing there today. What, pray tell, is the game plan? Because it sure as hell hasn't brought peace and stability to Iraq or the larger Middle East.

On Sunday, I began to watch media reports on the Trump administration's bombing of five sites in Iraq and Syria. Without exception, every report stated that the bombs were dropped upon “Iranian-backed” forces. Day after day, every media report continued to apply that “Iranian-backed” label. I note that this is distinct from the description of the 9/11 attackers, who were Saudi-backed.

I do understand why our military would want to strike those targets, in the context of their being deployed in the land of this on-going military disaster. I also appreciate that Trump and his merry crew will seek to exploit anything and every thing that might distract from impeachment. And that has to be viewed in the context of thousands of Iraqi citizens demonstrating and eventually attacking the US embassy. Film shows that this included a military group – perhaps not those the administration currently favors, but one that the Iraqi security forces were comfortable with. Indeed, the Iraqi government's leadership was and is strongly opposed to the strikes on targets in their country.

In a conversation yesterday with a good friend here on DU, I said that these events had brought me back to a speech that Malcolm X gave in Rochester, NY, of February 16, 1965 (five days before his assassination). I remember it in the context of something the late Dick Gregory said in the 1980s, that America would not understand the Islamic world, because it had failed to understand Malcolm X. Below are some interesting quotes from Malcolm's speech:

“The press is used to make the victim look like the criminal and make the criminal look like the victim… . This is imagery. And just as this imagery is practiced at the local level, you can understand it better by an international example. The best recent example at the international level to bear witness to what I’m saying is what happened in the Congo. Look at what happened. We had a situation where a plane was dropping bombs on African villages. An African village has no defense against the bombs. And an African village is not sufficient threat that it has to be bombed! But planes were dropping bombs on African villages. When these bombs strike, they don’t distinguish between enemy and friend. They don’t distinguish between male and female. When these bombs are dropped on African villages in the Congo, they are dropped on Black women, Black children, Black babies. These human beings were blown to bits. I heard no outcry, no voice of compassion for these thousands of Black people who were slaughtered by planes

“Why was there no outcry? Why was there no concern? Because, again, the press very skillfully made the victims look like they were the criminals, and the criminals look like they were the victims.

“They refer to the villages as “rebel held,” you know. As if to say, because they are rebel-held villages, you can destroy the population, and it’s okay. They also refer to the merchants of death as “American-trained, anti-Castro Cuban pilots.” This made it okay. Because these pilots, these mercenaries—you know what a mercenary is, he’s not a patriot. A mercenary is not someone who goes to war out of patriotism for his country. A mercenary is a hired killer. A person who kills, who draws blood for money, anybody’s blood. You kill a human being as easily as you kill a cat or a dog or a chicken.

"So these mercenaries, dropping bombs on African villages, caring nothing as to whether or not there are innocent, defenseless women and children and babies being destroyed by their bombs. But because they’re called “mercenaries,” given a glorified name, it doesn’t excite you. Because they are r
eferred to as “American-trained” pilots, because they are American-trained, that makes them okay. “Anti-Castro Cubans,” that makes them okay. Castro’s a monster, so anybody who’s against Castro is all right with us, and anything they can do from there, that’s all right with us…. They put your mind right in a bag and take it wherever they want, as well”

I apologize for this being even longer than my usual tirades. I'm hoping that the Democratic Party will fully address this issue and those related this year as our candidates campaign for offices – including for the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

H2O Man

The Beat Goes On

“More, Bolton had a series of conversations with both Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper about the folly of the White House's Ukraine operation. Apparently, all three were aware of the dangers of such an operation, and attempted to convince Trump it would backfire on him. Pompeo waivered at important times, due to his lack of backbone. Clearly, the military aide to Ukraine was not released until two days after the administration learned the whistle-blower's concerns were going to be made public. “
H2O Man; Texas Radio & the Big Beat; Democratic Underground; November 9, 2019

https://www.democraticunderground.com/100212669038


Back in 2004-05, members of the Democratic Underground recognized that a fair amount of the information posted within the infamous “Plame Threads” would be reported in the mainstream media in the days and weeks to come. Those discussions, in my humble opinion, made DU the most valuable internet forum, and attracted numerous new members. It also resulted in members of the mainstream media reading those threads.

I was glad to see the New York Times report on the meeting that Bolton, Pompeo, and Esper had with Trump, telling the president that he needed to release the funds for the Ukraine. In some later comments on other OP/threads, I had stated that the three administration officials had sought to meet together with Trump, but admitted that I was unsure if they had been able to, or had individual meetings with the president. While I knew it had been a group effort, I was unable to confirm that the single meeting the Times documented had taken place.

Nevertheless, I think that it still shows that DU can provide news” before the mainstream media does. And that remains one of the many reasons DU remains my favorite internet forum.

Happy New Year!
H2O Man

The Turtle & the Salmon

“Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace. There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States. “
Salmon Portland Chase, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court


Chief Justice John Roberts is said to be preparing for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. This includes reviewing the rules and traditions of the Senate, it also involves studying the role of the Chief Justice in the two previous trials of US presidents. Let's take a stroll back in American history, and see two very different examples that Chief Justice Roberts is considering.

President Bill Clinton was impeached in late 1998, and his Senate trial was held between January 7 and February 22, 1999. It has been documented that the outcome had been agreed to by party leaders before the trial started. Hence, Chief Justice William Rehnquist accurately sums up his role in this quote from a letter to his friend: “I did nothing in particular, and did it very well.”

Providing irrefutable evidence that a Chief Justice can be a petty brat, Rehnquist also wrote, “...the trial is in one sense an unwelcome burden …..I have been relieved of none of my duties here at the court.” In 1999, he told Senators that, “"I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court to what I shall call, for want of a better phrase, the more freeform environment of the Senate." These quotes are taken from the following article:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/29/politics/william-rehnquist-impeachment-trial-senate/index.html

That is one potential. It is interesting to compare this to the role of Chief Justice Salmon Chase one hundred thirty one years earlier. I've been looking at Chase's role in the impeachment trial, and some of his career. There is not much about him in the books on impeachment that I started collecting in 1974. So I looked through some other history books, and have found some. I plan to do more research on the internet.

Chase was recognized as a liberal in those times. He was experienced in serving in both of the other branches of the federal government, as a senator and as President Lincoln's Treasury Secretary. He had also served as a Governor. His interest in political parties seemed fluid – in large part because he wanted to become president – and there are mentions of him being a Democrat, before helping to form the Free Soil Party, and eventually a republican.

In his earlier years of practicing law, Chase was an outspoken opponent of Slavery. He represented “run-away slaves” in northern courts. He advocated that all people had the right to vote, no matter their sex or race. He sounds like the complete opposite of Rehnquist.

During the trial of President Andrew Johnson, Chase played an active role in determining what evidence – including witnesses – could or could not be introduced in the trial. He also ruled on a number of procedural issues. He refused to allow senators to turn the trial into a circus. A number of senators were unhappy with Chief Justice Chase during the trial, but knew he would walk out if they didn't honor his rulings. Yet, history tends to indicate that the senators reached the correct verdict. Hence, Chase's role can be viewed as setting precedents that Roberts can and should follow.

At this point in time, we can only speculate if Roberts will conduct his role like Rehnquist, like Chase, or somewhere in the middle. Yet it could be his role that decides the eventual outcome of the trial. If John Bolton testifies -- or not – will be a huge factor in determining the outcome. Hopefully the decision on if Bolton testifies isn't allowed to be decided by Mitch McConnell. If the Democrats can't get four republicans to joing them on this, Roberts will do the right thing.

Peace,
H2O Man

Merry Xmas

Below is a message from a powerful e-mail I received today from “Bend the Arc.” A link to their website is included beneath.)

In April, our community was shaken by another violent antisemitic attack at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. Tragically, the shooter who murdered Lori Gilbert-Kaye (z”l) also claimed responsibility for arson at a nearby mosque.

In response, 100 Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist faith leaders shared a new prayer for America:

Listen, America.
Out of many voices,
We rise as one.
We mourn with one voice those lost.
We grieve the white nationalism that threatens us all.

https://www.bendthearc.us/



It seems curious to me that millions of Americans will celebrate the birth of an infant in the Middle East today and tomorrow, without connecting the fable to the children separated from their families along the border in the southwest. Most peculiar. I favor those of various faiths and of no faith who recognize that all esoteric teachings relate to the here and now – this moment of life in the universe – rather than some imaginary eternal vacation on Pleasure Island. They communicate lessons on being Real People, rather than organic material puppets that are easily led astray.

I was fortunate that my first mentor was an atheist, the son of a Southern Baptist minister, who had studied Islam in his early adulthood. Although an atheist, Rubin was well-versed in the religions of the world, and the teachings of numerous philosophers. As a young teen, I had rejected the Catholic church that I had been forced to attend since infancy. Thus, many of our conversations had to do with the Hurricane's suggesting that I not mistake a church for what is Truth.

As the years went by, these conversations reached a higher level. A person can only learn, Rubin assured me, that which is at their level of understanding. He adhered to what is known as “Liberation Theology,” which although often associated with modern-times' Jesuits in Central America, is actually ancient. Just as the ability to grasp higher meaning is rooted in the context of the individual, the teachings of various educators must be placed in similar contexts.

A great example of this would be Aesop, who history records as a slave living on the Greek island of Samos. His actual name is lost to history, and he is thus known by a variation of the land he was stolen from, Egypt. As a slave, his teachings had o be “hidden,” meaning that his “fables” – much like Jesus's “parables,” had to be contained within symbols accessible to his culture. Hence, Aesop is have said to use animals in symbolic teachings, not unlike Rubin's friend Malcolm X did in his preaching.

Some teachings lie just beneath the surface, thus making them relatively easy for most people to grasp. Yet there can be confusion when an old lesson is taken from that early cultural context, and taught without consideration to its true meaning at a much later and very different time. And this is the unfortunate circumstance with the nativity story that is so common today. In Jesus's time, an unmarried teen-aged girl becoming pregnant was frowned upon. This concept certainly continued throughout the mainstream Christian era. As a youngster attending church, I was taught by people who had zero experience in a healthy sex life that God might send us to an eternal hell for enjoying sex outside of marriage. He loved us that much.

Those who would create the nativity story well after Jesus had died were simply attempting to communicate a basic Truth: all babies come from the Divine. It doesn't matter what status their parents held. This includes those babies that come from poor families, who are rejected by “proper” society, who might be born in a stable, or held in a cage on the Mexican border. Indeed, Ephesians 1:19-20 states that the spark within each of us is the same mighty strength found in Jesus.

As Gandhi said, many of the most important Truths from the gospels were damaged when Christianity went West. Gandhi understood how symbolism was an essential part of esoteric teachings. In that context, we can best understand part of Gandhi's last Christmas message to a group of Christian friends and associates: “Living Christ is a living cross; life without Christ is living death.”

I am convinced that those of various faiths working with Bend the Arc for social justice get it.

H2O Man


&bpctr=1577207731
Merry Xmas (War is Over) by John & Yoko and the Harlem Community Choir

Hot Water

 “George Washington is said to have told Jefferson that the framers had created the Senate to "cool" House legislation just as a saucer was used to cool hot tea. “
https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Created.htm


Many of us are happy, because daylight will begin to be longer now. However, for Donald Trump, the concept of the beginning of “longer days” has a very different meaning. His presidency has been stained in 2019 by impeachment, thus insuring that he belongs to an exclusive club in our nation's history.

Before we consider what 2020 holds for Trump, it may be useful to put this into context. The 2008 presidential election was fast approaching. Since 1988, when he wrote to Bush the Elder saying he would be willing to serve as his vice president, Trump was intent upon entering national politics. In 1998, he responded to an interviewer on national television, saying John McCain was “no hero,” because “he got caught.” In 2000, he filed to be considered as a candidate in the Reform Party. By 2008, as a member of the republican party, he resented McCain being the nomine

Now, let's take a brief look back at a conversation Donald had with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in October of 2008. Speaking of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said, “I was surprised that she didn't do more in terms of Bush and going after Bush. Which personally I( think would have been a wonderful thing.”

“To impeach him?” asked Wolf.

“”For the war,” Trump responded. “For the war! Well, he lied. He got us into the war with lies!”

Perhaps Trump should have listened to his mother when she said, “Be careful what you wish for.” Maybe he assumed she was speaking about her marriage. But now, as forum member dlk noted, he has the entire holiday season to stew over the situation he is currently in.

https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=12806049

Trump's future depends upon Mitch McConnell and Senate republicans. Many people are worried that Mitch's public statements about aborting the impeachment trial as quickly as possible are an accurate preview of process. And they may be right.

In a discussion here yesterday, regarding why – if Senator Schumer expects at least four republicans to join Democrats in calling for witnesses to testify – things are not moving ahead quickly? That's a good question, a valid question, one that admittedly calls for speculation no matter how one answers it. Thus, my opinion is exactly that – mere speculation – and thus of no more value than anyone else's.

The House impeachment hearings were the hot cup of tea that Washington spoke of. From my admittedly non-objective point of view, the republicans put on an emotional shit-show, and avoided dealing with facts. For rage is their language, and hostility drips from every republican's tongue. No one in the Senate wants a repeat of that in the trial. A quick move to end the trial would avoid that, at least in theory, and is surely one thing McConnell is considering.

But it isn't the only thing. For doing that would create an environment where the Democratic Party would be energized in the 2020 elections, and no intelligent politician purposely motivates the opposition before elections. Especially not one concerned about elections that could remove him from his comfortable and coveted leadership position. More, those republican Senators at risk in November of 2020 – likely among those that Schumer is in communications with – most likely want to have more discussions with the other republicans about how to proceed.

Despite the nonsense we hear publicly from McConnell, which is clearly directed to an audience of one enraged fellow, it is safe to assume that some degree of negotiating is going on in DC. The noise we hear on the surface hides what is going on outside of public view. And that includes between both parties in the Senate, within each party, and definitely between our House and Senate leadership, and their legal team.

While McConnell certainly prefers a shorter trial for obvious reasons, and may actually bring it to a premature end, it is also possible that he will negotiate with his party members and Democrats, and that we will hear from at least John Bolton in the trial. The best thing we can do at this point is to exercise our Amendment 1 rights, by contacting Senators from both parties, and insisting upon a fair trial.

Peace,
H2O Man
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