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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 62,270

Journal Archives

Twisting in the Wind

I remember my father pointing out that whenever a republican administration is in deep shit, they will select someone to serve as a lightening rod. The idea is to make someone other than high-ranking administration officials be the center of controversy. The best example of this came during the Watergate years, when John Ehrlichman said of acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray, “I think we ought to let him hang there. Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

Events this week demonstrate that the Trump administration assigned this role to Devon Nunes. More, it is apparent that they were willing to sacrifice any potential political career that Nunes may have been able to buy. Throughout the week, Nunes has been hung out for media attacks. More, he lacks the intellectual capacity to realize he has been left to twist slowly in the wind. At very best, he will become a footnote in history, a punching bag reduced to a punch line.

Despite the implosion of the House intelligence committee, it actually served its purpose. This was accomplished by last Monday's public hearing, particularly when director Comey spoke about exactly what the FBI is currently investigating. More, Nunes's panicked behaviors since last Friday have back-fired on him. His canceling of this week's meetings exposed the White House's attempt to derail a serious investigation.

While much of the media has focused upon Nunes's actions, the reporting has been largely negative. There have been increasing calls for him to, at very least, recuse himself from this investigation. Even another republican has called on him to step down. Nunes's recent media interviews have been awkward, as he refuses to answer questions about the relationship between himself and those who “shared” the intelligence reports that upset him so.

Further, the White House attempted to prevent Sally Yates from testifying to the House intelligence committee. And Nunes canceled the meetings the committee had scheduled for this week, without providing an explanation to the other members.

Fortunately, the Senate intelligence committee has begun their public hearings. This is where the public is likely to learn much more about the issues involving the Trump campaign/ administration's relationship with the Russians.

Also, it is being reported that Michael Flynn is attempting to secure a deal for himself: apparently, he will testify if he gets immunity. If the Trump administration felt it necessary to attempt to prevent Sally Yates from testifying, they have to be freaking out at the mere thought of Flynn testifying. By no coincidence, the administration was willing to sacrifice Flynn early on, and reportedly were ready to blame him for anything else that may come up. As terrible of a human being as he is – and he is horrible – he could do severe damage to all of the president's men. And the president.

A Rolling Stone

"Dig It"
Like a rolling stone
Like a rolling stone
Ah like a rolling stone
Like the FBI and the CIA
And the BBC, BB King
And Doris Day
Matt Busby
Dig it, dig it, dig it
Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it

[That was "Can You Dig It" by Georgie Wood. And now we'd like to do "Hark The Angels Come".]
-- The Beatles


I did a brief presentation for a area Democratic Party committee this evening. The group was doing preparation for this November's elections, when they will be running a number of good candidates for “local” offices. Although I do not reside in the county where their elections will be held, I always enjoy the opportunity to break bread with them.

It's funny: on Monday, in another county, I was asked to attend a historical society's board of trustees meeting. There had been some rather unpleasant arguing at recent meetings, and some people there thought I might be able to help resolve the on-going problems. There were twenty people there, who took turns arguing with one another. One problem was that the majority of them were talking all at once, for most of the 90 minutes we were there.

There were about the same number of Democrats at tonight's meeting. There was no arguing. People were respectful when any other person spoke. I found this interesting, because I knew about half the people there, and they had been divided between Clinton and Sanders in the last presidential primary. But that hasn't resulted in hard feelings between them, nor does it prevent them from working together now. They know what is important.

That strikes me as a key point. These are the people that do the yeoman's work. They build the foundation of the Democratic Party. What is important to them is, in my opinion, of far greater significance than the sum total of the anger and hurt feelings dividing that historical society. They recognize that both Clinton and Sanders had a huge amount of support last year, and that it is essential that these groups – both firmly within the Democratic Party – work together today.

Next month, another group in that community has asked me to speak about the numerous toxic industrial waste dump sites in their township. The leader of the neighborhood groups I'll be speaking to recently told me a county official “begged” her not to have me speak. She asked me if I was still willing to speak to the two neighborhood groups? Gracious! I'm more than willing. In fact, I'll probably mix in a few statements noting that they should, among other things, vote for the Democratic candidates in November, since their current representatives are owned by fossil fuel.

Peace,
H2O Man

RICO Suave

Last week surely ranks high among the worst ever for any presidential administration in modern times. Indeed, it marks one of the lowest points for a president in the nation's history. Much of the White House distress was a direct result of their corruption and incompetence …..yet, as Rachel Maddow documented so well during the week, the massive grass roots demonstrations against republican efforts to repeal “Obama Care” also played a huge role.

The humiliating defeat of the Ryan-Trump plan shows that not every republican is willing to suckle on Trump's appendage in the manner of Devon Nunes. It would be an error to believe that the republican refusal to support their president was due to the Ryan-Trump bill alone. Reports on how ignorant Trump was on the bill's details

Thus, they see a president who has been put in check by the federal courts on his Muslim immigration ban; a president leading an administration being investigated for serious charges by the FBI, in coordination with the rest of the intelligence community; a president who tweets outrageous lies about President Obama; and a president who is incapable of grasping the issues involving health care. It is therefore same to conclude that congressional republicans are confronted with two questions: How did this man get elected? And how closely do they have to associate themselves with his failing presidency?

Both questions lead directly to the FBI investigation. And as bad as it appears to the public, and as damaging as the media reports are, the talk in the offices in the House and Senate is far worse. That doesn't mean that the average republican is going to behave as if they know how bad it is for Trump et al right now. This is not an attempt to ascribe even a hint of patriotism or ethical standards to them, for their behaviors are entirely self-serving. They prefer the comfort of office more than they care about Trump and Steve Bannon.

It appears most likely that the “intelligence” shown to Nunes last Tuesday night was from Jerome Corsi. And that Corsi held this meeting upon the request of Steve Bannon. Think about that. On Wednesday morning, Nunes rushed to talk first to Paul Ryan. What he did after that was – at very least – given the okay by Ryan. And the entire operation fell flat: Nunes's behavior was the issue, and his ability to lead the House intelligence committee questioned.

The single best source on the televised reporting on the Trump-Russian scandal is Malcolm Nance. Between his book on the topic, and his on-going analysis, one could be forgiven for thinking that he is playing a role in the effort to remove Trump from office. There are two things that Mr. Nance said at the end of the week that are extremely important.

First, he made clear that the FBI is conducting an investigation based upon violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The prosecutions will not be for treason or espionage, except in the court of public opinion. Yet, looking at the definition of RICO shows why this is a better fit for the federal government's system to process:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act

One can argue about the Constitution's description of “treason.” Even the US Supreme Court's ruling in 1952 on Kawakita v United States was a 4-3 decision. But no one will be able to view the current administration as organized crime, and a group that dealt with Russian organized crime – including to coordinate efforts in the 2016 presidential election.

As documented in the above link, RICO can involve both criminal and civil charges. While there is a history of not charging a sitting president with criminal charges, in the 1990s, the government shifted to make a sitting president face civil charges. This created grounds for the House republicans to move to impeachment, advocating a case that defied logic.

In the current administration, there is already more than enough evidence to indict and convict several of the Trump campaign's players. The current investigation is focused upon those two famous questions: What did the president know? And when did he know it?

To prosecute the higher levels, the FBI benefits from “turning” participants who will inform on others, in order to obtain a deal. There has been interesting speculation on which of the suspects would rat on the others, for they are all rats. But Mr. Nance has said that the first rat is none other than Flynn.

In an case of an investigation that started last summer, events have picked up momentum in recent weeks. In large part, that seems likely related to Flynn having ratted his buddies out. The attempt to discredit the House intelligence committee, Bannon, Corsi, Nunes, and Ryan engaged in last week's failed effort. More and more elected representatives in the House and Senate are advocating for a more thorough investigation, including a possible Senate Select Committee. Within a month, it's likely that there will be agreement that a special prosecutor be named.

I think we should begin lobbying for Preet Bharara be appointed to that position.

Peace,
H2O Man

Roger Stone & Crosstown Traffic

"I'm not the only soul
accused of hit and run;
tire tracks all across you back
I can see you've had you fun."
-- Jimi Hendrix; Crosstown Traffic


I haven't seen much focus on the Roger Stone incident last week. There have been some indications that Stone is willing to sing to investigators. Then he became the victim of a hit-and-run "accident":

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/16/trump-adviser-roger-stone-fears-that-a-suspicious-hit-and-run-incident-in-miami-meant-someone-was-targeting-him/

Paul Ryan

“In April, 2011, shortly after the near-shutdown, Paul Ryan released his budget, the most radical policy blueprint to come out of official Washington in a generation. It simultaneously shredded the social safety net, swept away the country's seed corn of investments in the future, and adopted discredited supply-side economics. Even Gingrich called it 'radical right-wing social engineering.' ….In this first version, Ryan privatized Medicare entirely for those under fifty-five.”
Jonathan Alter; The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies”; Simon & Schuster; 2013


Was it a sign of mental deterioration, as my son insists? Or can be be attributed to the cable news reports on the shared failure of Ryan and Trump to deliver as promised? Either way, while watching a report on Ryan, I said that there was an important paragraph in Jonathan Alter's book, on page 165. Instead, the above quote is found on page 163.

This was shortly after Ryan had expressed report for what President Obama had referred to as “an Ike budget.” Ryan clearly has no conscience. I find it offensive every time he talks about his ancestors immigrating from Ireland at the end of the Great Starvation. He is nothing if not the unethical heir to the “landlords” who ruled the Old Sod with cruelty.

President Obama responded in a speech at George Washington University, by saying Ryan's proposal wasn't “serious,” and pointing out that it “would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we've known.” (Alter; pg 165)

The battle over health care certainly isn't over. It's important that citizens at the grass roots level continue to speak up, and inform their elected representatives – Democratic and republican – that the Ryan-Trump plan is unacceptable.

Trumptown

I wonder if current events are bringing up painful memories for House intelligence committee member Jackie Speier. As older forum members know, this is not her first confrontation with a megalomaniac. In November of 1978, she was part of a fact-finding mission as part of an investigation into abuses by Jim Jones, at the “People's Temple” in Guyana. She worked Congressman Leo Ryan, who represented the same general district that she does today.

In that tragic incident, Jones ordered a vicious attack on Rep. Ryan and others, as they attempted to board their flight to leave “Jonestown.” Five people, including Ryan, were killed by gun-fire; Ms. Speier was hit five times, and would lay wounded for 22 hours before help arrived.

This is not to suggest that Jones and Trump are identical twins. But they do share certain dangerous personality characteristics. Devin Nunes's attempt to distribute the kool aid to the media yesterday must have reminded Speier of 1978.

Trump and the alt-right must be removed from power by constitutional means. I would not be surprised if they then move to the jungles of Guyana.

Nunes

Devin Nunes's conversation with reporters is a good thing, no matter if he intended for it to be or not. The head of the House Intelligence Committee noted that he discussed reports he saw with House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning, although it is unclear of if Nunes shared information about the reports with Adam Schiff. Speaking to reporters about this may provide substance for the dwindling number of delusionals, who are outraged that President Obama wired Trump's phone ….but it also puts Trump on notice, very publicly.

Certainly, Trump and his carp will claim that this “breaking news” supports his wild lies. But the news does no such thing. Though I'm not a huge fan of mainstream news, I'd say that most of it has noted that Trump lied. That he changes the goal posts. And that his refusal to take ownership of his lies is not a positive character trait.

We all knew that Flynn was caught in discussions with the Russian ambassador the day that President Obama announced sanctions. We just had no idea of how many of the others were doing so. And the fact is that there are many, many connections being documented. It's still unknown how many times Trump was in contact with enemies of the United States. But the public may start finding out, sooner than expected.

So we can expect some blather from the alt-right. Rabid animals do foam at the mouth. But the average citizen knows that Trump is full of crap, that his presidency thus far is a failure, and that it is dangerous to allow him to continue. And Trump can be counted on to reinforce this in the next 24 hours. Big time.

A Capital Idea

“You own your lies. Even if it takes a while, every lie you tell will eventually catch up to you. So try very hard to tell the truth. That's what I think. It's better to tell the truth.”
Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman


The opening quote originally came from an interview I did with Paul that was published in 1994. It is very important in traditional Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) culture for the leadership to be open, honest, and trustworthy. If a chief were to tell a purposeful lie to smear another person's reputation, there would be consequences. First, it's possible that a Clan Mother would give him a stern verbal warning. It is also possible that she would “de-horn” him, meaning formally removing him from his status as chief.

Several of the most influential of this nation's Founding Fathers had modeled modeled our government after the Iroquois Confederacy. This is evident in the 1754 Albany Plan of Union, the Articles of Confederation, and then the Constitution. Under President George Washington, some in Congress believed that treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton had “misused” funds. Thus, Congress used its power to vote on a resolution to censure Hamilton. The vote fell short, but this action established their right to censure. Although the Constitution addresses the process to impeach, Congress does have the power to make resolutions.

Although censuring may seem merely symbolic, the fact that Congress has a limited history of even voting on such resolutions suggests it is viewed seriously. Being formally denounced by Congress in a public manner has a sting to it. It's interesting to note that even a congressional committee has the ability to vote upon a resolution to censure.

After yesterday's initial congressional hearing on the connections between the Trump campaign and administration, and Russia, there appears to be potential cause for impeaching the current president. Those connections certainly require a remedy that goes far, far beyond a censure. And despite the public utterances of republicans these days, the vast majority of those in the House and Senate would prefer that Trump would disappear.

This process will require several more steps. Republicans are not to the point that they believe Trump is wounded to the extent that they can safely impeach him. We can be confident that both the FBI investigation, and Trump's behavior, will continue damage his presidency. Yet, as citizens, we have the responsibility to assist the president in his foul self-destruction.

Trump's claims that President Obama wire-tapped him were disgraceful. His refusal to admit that he lied is disgusting; his attempts to move the goal-posts results in his aides humiliating themselves by pretending his rant was reality-based. And that becomes dangerous, when they repeat nonsense about President Obama using British intelligence to spy on Trump. And the continue to insult the two intelligence officers who testified to the House committee yesterday.

He can't stop himself. He lacks the intellectual and ethical capacity to change.

We will not accept him, or his behavior. And we have a unique opportunity now, that we should try to take full advantage of. Clearly, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Community, not only know Trump's presidency is corrupt and dangerous, but they find his refusal to apologize to President Obama unacceptable.

We should focus our grass-roots' efforts right now on contacting the offices of Representatives Adam Schiff and Terri Sewell, and urging them to introduce a resolution, within the House intelligence committee, to censure Trump. He needs to have consequences for that lie, and the damage it has done.

We can't be sure that our efforts will work, of course, but it's worth a try. Let's see how the system works in 2017. Surely, if it does, Trump will react in an even more out-of-control manner. And that will move things closer to impeachment hearings.

Power

When a person purposely engages in lies that are intended to incite emotions in the manner of Trump, the results follow a general path: first, a majority of the people find his behavior embarrassing; then a growing number find his behavior insulting; and then his behavior becomes dangerous to people – including, in this case, in the context of the peoples of other nations. The only question regarding how much suffering that person will cause to others is answered by how long it takes people to remove him from power.

In many cases around the globe, that removal from power requires some degree of violence. Yet in the United States, there is a non-violent method defined by the US Constitution. By no coincidence, Trump and his band of merry fools hold the Constitution in utter contempt. Indeed, the current part-time occupant of the White House clearly views himself as superior to any previous president, and instead humiliates himself in his sycophantic adoration of another “leader.”

One need not be a liberal of progressive, a member of the Democratic Party or the Democratic Left, to find this – in and of itself – troubling. Many hold the Russian people in high regard, with respect for Russian history, yet still find Putin to be a terrible human being. Indeed, the only people who share Trump's love for Putin are either seeking personal economic benefit, or are those dip-shits who “like” Putin's government because they see it as a white button on a multi-colored shirt. These are the off-spring of those who hated the Soviet Union because it was “red.”

During his campaign, Trump spoke of purposely damaging NATO. Who would benefit? Putin. During the republican national convention, Trump's people removed the plank about assisting the people of the Ukraine from their party's platform. Who benefits? Gosh, who did Jeff Sessions meet with at that time? After the November election, President Obama announced increased sanctions against Russia. The same day, Flynn had five (5) telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador. He did so with president-elect Trump's support.

When Trump accused President Obama of tapping his phone, he went well beyond being a fucking national embarrassment, and became purely insulting. It's not that he hadn't insulted people his entire life, including in the republican primary and general election campaign. To his discredit, he insulted large groups of people that he consciously was attempting to appeal to for their votes. Yet, most of the time, he purposely insulted people, because he holds them in the same contempt as the Russian prostitutes he paid to urinate on.

After both democrats and republicans in Congress stated that there is zero truth in his lies about President Obama – no more so than his crude “birther” horseshit – he and his administration sought to move the goalposts. “He pot it in quotes.” Only in two of the four tweets to his twits, not that it matters. “Microwaves.” No comment necessary. “Andres Napolitano said ...” Either poor Andrew is too fucking stupid to be trusted to pour a glass of water, or he purposefully lied. He didn't even put it in quotes.

In fact, intelligence officials from two European nations – both members of NATO – had informed US intelligence sources about a number of meetings between Russians of interest and some people engaged in the Trump campaign. One wishes that James Comey could speak openly and honestly to Congress and the American people on Monday. But, he has to follow the rules.

Likewise, one wishes that H. R. McMaster could speak openly about the dangers Trump poses. Yet, when he was forced to accept that position, as he was active military, that three retired military officers had declined, he was surely aware that his job was to play the same role Al Haig did in the Nixon White House. But he, too, has to follow the rules of his trade. I'm confident that being put in the position of apologizing to England wasn't a high-point in his career.

What various leaders, intelligence, and military officials think and do is important – be they foreign or domestic. Still, I find myself thinking about what the common, decent human beings of the world are thinking. Surely, they are wondering if the American people will stand up and force the machinery of the government to remove Trump from power. They know that, as Vine Deloria, Jr. said, there is no system on earth that will not gladly sacrifice one of its own for a moment's peace. And the US Constitution provides a lawful, peaceful method of doing so. When a president violates every sense of common decency, it indeed fits the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The stakes are obviously high. At his least damaging, Trump will play Robin to Putin's Bat Man: favoring the military and energy corporations owned by the opulently wealthy, while cutting all services to human beings. Allowing this to happen will decrease the possibility of non-violent change in America. No, we can not sit by and allow this to happen.

People ask me what they as an individual can do? That's a fair question. A sincere question, too. My response is to ask what are they good at? What issues do they care the most about? Focus upon these talents and issues. Do not allow a shithead like Trump to make you feel like your issues aren't just as important as the next person's. Chances are, there are plenty of people around you who value that same issue. Our goal isn't to limit us to any one front, but to fight on all fronts, as Malcolm X taught. And while Trump believes he has true “power,” that's his delusion. You have true power. Exercise it.

Keep your eyes on the prize!
H2O Man

An Irish Proverb

“You, my lord (Norbury), are a judge, I am a supposed culprit; I am a man, you are a man, also; by a revolution of power, we might change places, tho we could never change characters.”
Robert Emmet,

William Jennings Bryan included Emmet's speech – made upon his conviction for “high treason” for his participation in the 1798 Uprising in Ireland – in his classic “The World's Famous Orations.” (Funk & Wagnalls Co.; Vol. VI, pages 137-148; 1906) Emmet was my great (x7)-grandfather's cousin. My grandfather was also sentenced to death by that same court of injustice.

Trump's delivery of his “favorite Irish proverb,” which comes from a poem by Albashir Alhassan of Nigeria, highlights the need for an actual Irish proverb on this day.
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