H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
"Oh, the mood in the White House is frightful
but the Democrats in the House are delightful!
Impeachment is on its way,
Let it flow! Let it flow! Let it flow!
Nothing can possibly make this holiday season more delightful than the House of Representatives delivering articles of impeachment. Of course, there will be some sullen republicans declaring war on our holiday festivities, but that can only make it even more entertaining. They cannot destroy the holiday spirit of impeachment, try as they might.
The republicans in the Senate will recognize that they are caught between a large rock and a tiny hard-on in the White House in 2020. Republican House members will be less restrained by reality. Many of them believed that Trump would serve two full terms. Matt Gaetz dreams of singing praises to Trump on his final day, even hoping that a brief visit by Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office might convince Trump to serve a third term. The below film clip is taken straight from Gaetz's fantasy:
However, considering today's House vote, I think there will be other tunes being sung across the nation. Here are a couple of examples:
There is reason to celebrate this day. It marks the beginning of our Impeachment holiday. No place on the internet that I'd rather be! Yet, just as our democratic representatives in DC have a lot of hard work ahead of them, so do we. Nothing can be taken for granted, for as Spinoza said, all noble things are as difficult as they are rare.
We have two closely related struggles to engage in: the impeachment and conviction of Donald Trump, and the 2020 elections. Both require that we resolve to create a united front. This doesn't mean that there will be complete agreement on candidates in potential primaries for House and Senate seats, nor quite obviously for our presidential nominee. It would be foolish to think that was a realistic goal.
We can, however, recognize how uniquely important the 2020 elections are. Each of us has to determine for ourselves how far we are willing to go to insure victories. The best option is to focus on promoting the candidates you favor, to express why you back them. The worst is to attack another candidate from our party, for as history has shown, in doing so, you insult those who support that particular person. We need unity of purpose now, not divisions rooted in personality.
One last point on how important 2020 is if a republican, be it Trump or Pence, wins in 2020, there is absolutely no chance that the DoJ will prosecute the numerous criminals in and around this administration. If we win, we can create jobs by opening a large new federal prison to house them in.
Okay, now that that's settled, let's go destroy the Trump administration.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. Soren Kierkegaard
We all knew him in high school. His name changes, but his face and personality remain the same. He might have been in your grade, or one above or below you. But you knew a Francis Buxton, the type of shit that would steal Pee-wee Herman's bike. Like most rich kids, he believed he was of a superior status to others.
When Matt Gaetz, fresh from graduating from law school, was pulled over driving his daddy's BMW while drunk, he displayed his superior attitude by refusing to take a breathalyzer test. Like the brat that you knew in high school, he was treated differently by the legal system. For boys will be boys, especially if they are from the good old boys club.
It's important to remember that the republicans are the kids that you couldn't stand in school. That's especially true when communicating with them. And so I was happy today to get copies of some messages between a person in Florida and Gus Bilirakis, their elected representative. A person that we have in this congressman's office sent it on to our head of operations in Florida, who then sent it to me. We've been targeting this guy since 2018, as we believe that a scandal that will drop next fall will severely damage him when it's too late for his party to replace him on the ballot.
Gus has served in the House since he won a seat in 2006. He could be mistaken for Gaetz's older brother. Their world views and voting records are remarkable similar. They both express loyalty to Trump, rather than the Constitution. The sources of Gus's campaign contributors is of particular interest to me, but that's another story.
The woman who wrote to his office to advocate for impeaching Trump sounds like a Democrat to me. Her identity is unimportant, so I will not include it here. But I shall quote from her correspondence with Gus. As noted, her original letter was simply focused on the current Trump-Ukraine scandal, and her expressing her belief that Congress needed to put nation before party.
Gus responded to her by noting the Democrats had been engaged in efforts to damage Trump since he won the 2016 election. Below is but part of his response:
Since the beginning of the 116th Congress, Democrats have been on a mission to overturn the 2016 election. The Mueller report demonstrated there was no Russian collusion or obstruction by President Trump, and now Democrats have jumped to their next partisan accusation. Instead of working on legislating effective solutions for the American people, Democrats continue to pander to their base. The fact that Speaker Pelosi called for an impeachment inquiry even before the transcript between President Trump and the President Zelenskyy of Ukraine was released, demonstrates their willingness to disregard reason and fact.
President Trumps willingness to be open and transparent by immediately releasing the transcript proves he did nothing wrong. President Trump made no threats and offered no quid pro quo tying President Zelenskyys revival of the Biden-related investigation to U.S. aid to Ukraine. Once again Democrats are smearing the President for political gain and dividing our great nation.
The founders did not contemplate the impeachment process as a tool to engage in partisan gamesmanship. If members of the House and Senate vote to impeach a president simply because they oppose his policies, this will set a bad precedent for future congresses and undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process.
As your Representative, I am committed to the ideals of smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. President Trump has been an ally in this mission. He has kept his campaign promises by lowering taxes, growing the economy, bringing unemployment down to historic lows, making our military the best in the world, and securing our borders. With President Trump in the White House, my House colleagues and I were able to improve healthcare access to our Veterans, combat the opioid crisis, and lower prescription drug prices. I firmly believe that Congress and the White House should work to effectively enact laws that will benefit all Americans without partisan poison pills.
He ended with a promise to keep her support of Trump in mind while he worked with republicans to save Trump's ass. The lady's response was outstanding. Our contact in Gus's office has shared it with the staff of several other republican congressmen who are undecided about if it is safer to support or dump Trump. I think that you will enjoy it, as there is no need to read between the lines to determine if she supports Trump:
I can see where you're heading. Democrats (myself included) are not interested on overturning 2016. That's a lie, plain and simple. But you do know that right? We are interested in protecting the United States Constitution, which trump completely disregards and apparently so do you. Did you even look to see what my party affiliation was before you sent this irrational missive?
Trump is not "willing to be open and transparent". He's stonewalling every subpoena or request for information. He has never turned over the complete Mueller investigation report. Just the whitewashed Barr version which was damning enough. He is not an exceptional leader -- seriously? What color is the sky in your world? He's a danger to national security. The worst danger this country has ever faced. That is why he is being impeached. But you know that. Why did you send me an email full of lies?
I do not support trump's policies and practices. I find him repulsive personally and professionally. I haven't been able to find a single redeeming quality in him and believe me I've tried.
Your entire email is insulting and disingenuous. You do NOT represent me. I am ashamed of you. If you had a modicum of good sense you would be ashamed of yourself. But since you're promoting trump's deplorable agenda you probably don't have much sense, do you? Either that or you think I am stupid. Or perhaps you are a fantasist who actually believes what you wrote below. What an awful thought. If so please seek psychiatric help asap.
Please NEVER write to me again. I'm going to do my best to forget your name and the unfortunate fact that you are/were my representative.
Please do share my thoughts with your colleagues. That should be good for a laugh.
Ignoring her request that he not contact her again, poor Gus wrote:
Thank you for contacting me to share your support for impeaching President Donald Trump. I appreciate hearing from you.
First and foremost, allow me to sincerely apologize for the mistake made in the letter sent to you in response to the impeachment inquiry into the President. At the time your letter arrived, I was also receiving numerous letters from those who were writing in with different views on the inquiry. Your letter was inadvertently sorted into this group of mail. While I pay very close attention to the mail I receive, when I receive hundreds of letters a week, sometimes over three thousand letters in a busy week, it is possible for mistakes to occur. Nevertheless, I appreciate you contacting me regarding this important issue and I hope to hear from you in the future as well
Her simple response was classic:
So when Republicans write to you, you lie to them. But when a Democrat writes to you, you prevaricate. Nice.
I hope that you enjoy this as much as I do. Updates to come.
Imagine, if you will, getting a phone call from a long-time associate in all things political. It is hard to understand what he is talking about at first, because he cannot stop from laughing. It's late at night, you were half-asleep, and at first you wonder what is going on. And then even more laughing, before he finally says he just got off the phone after a long call from an attorney from the capital.
There were apparently numerous informal meeting involving staff from various republican representatives yesterday evening. They recognized that William Taylor's testimony had severely damaged Donald Trump, as well as his enablers. They know that having Barr as Attorney General is the only thing that stands between a number of those enablers and a prison cell. They understand that a damaged Trump, even if the Senate does not convict him, will be a ball & chain on many republicans, and thus a threat to their current comfortable positions.
I can't say with any certainty what was discussed in all of these group huddles, but I would like to focus on one. For sake of conversation and perhaps exact accuracy let's focus our attention on one such meeting, run by a top aide to an especially obnoxious republican. I think most people here would agree that Matt Gaetz is an especially obnoxious republican, with no apologies to anyone who likes him.
Due to the significance of such a meeting, it could not be held in one of the bars that others were meeting at to sooth their sorrows. Yet the alcohol at this private meeting was flowing. It should come as no surprise that Matt Gaetz's aide is almost as repulsive as the congressman. At least one of the others there thinks to himself that the guy is doing an embarrassing imitation of Gaetz.
Pseudo-Gaetz notes that those at risk from the impeachment investigation are not limited to people in the administration. There are more than a few republicans who had dealings with Rudy Giuliani's team. If the Democrats win the White House in 2020, it will upset their apple cart. Thus, the aide outlines his updated, multi-layered plan to attack the Democratic Party.
They must first, of course, attempt to stir the base. Get them fired up and angry that the corruption that Trump insisted needed to be investigated in Ukraine was being ignored by the lame street media. When someone asks if these haven't been proven to be nonsense, the aide replies that there is no way to prove these are false. The heads of the staff of the far right-wing congressmen nod in agreement. We can build off that, one says.
Besides getting the base to flood social media with outrage, they must have trusted people infiltrate an disrupt the Democratic Party. This includes on social media, and if possible, placing spies within various campaigns.Sounds like a blend of Nixon's rat-fuckers and 2016, says another. Right!, psuedo-Gaetz replied. We focus on dividing them with hostility.
Part of the group engages in talk about using rumors that the Democratic establishment is unhappy with the current group of presidential candidates, and is pressuring a couple establishment regulars to enter the race. Pseudo-Gaetz states that if this actually were to happen, it would shatter any unified attempt to defeat Trump. In fact, he says, it could cause one or two to run as a third party ticket, allowing Trump to win both the electoral college and popular vote. We don't need any Russians to help with this, psuedo-Gaetz notes. We just have to have a core of volunteers focused on injecting righteous indignation into as many Democratic campaigns between now and 2020, and we can take back the House.
After the meeting ends, one of the congressional aides ventured to one of the bars that is popular with those inhabiting circles in and around government. By the time he is half-way through his second drink there, two things become apparent to those around him. First, he is slamming alcohol down in a manner that could not be mistaken for social drinking. And second, he had confused the others near him for a sympathetic group. He began to complain about the great difficulties he faces daily with those who support Trump over the republican party.
On his third drink, he says that although almost half of those at the meeting are uncomfortable with what had been discussed, not one of them had spoken up. An attorney asked him if he had spoken up? No. Why not, she asks? Because we know that the president is like a highly disturbed teenager, nursing his guns while he stews about how much he hates his classmate. You don't want him to come looking for you.
PS: When you watch the news about Gaetz today, keep in mind that he believes he will become president after Trump in 2024. Ass-clown.
When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition aint the way
I find it odd that anyone from dirt poor to billionaire could still support Donald Trump in any way. There are a few who I know from my high school graduating class that are at least willing to suspend the Democrat versus republican context, however briefly, to at least consider this in terms of the Constitution. But they are the tip of the ice cube.
The nephew of a classmate who was logging a few trees from my property gets it. He told me that he had voted for Trump, because he had believed he was just like us. Now he knows better. I asked him if he thought that Trump had ever, in his life, worked as hard as the logger had today? I guess my dad forgot to give me $400 million, he answered. Yet that hasn't clicked in most Trump voters' minds.
I wondered why? What would it take? Is it even possible?
The first resource I looked to was an old favorite, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyam (Random House; 1992). Obviously, I have a limited understanding of this or any of Sagan's works, but they always get me thinking.
I like their comparing humans to a newborn baby left on the doorstep, with no note explaining who it is, where it comes from, what hereditary cargo of attributes and disabilities it might be carrying, or who its antecedents might be.
In this instance, it is about these questions they raise: How did we get into this mess? How can we get out? Why are we so quick to distrust those different from ourselves, so given to unquestioning obedience to authority?
I think from long ago, modern humans and some of our cousins were superstitious. They were using the new front of their brains to make sense of life. This combined with another part of the brain, closer to the stem, that seems to compel ritual. Prehistoric human beings seem to have engaged in hunting rituals, for example, that may seem quaint today. But they were an important part of the human experience, and in trying to exist within their environment. And these are not that different than some of the things people do today.
Many athletes have lucky socks or some other item of clothing. I have relatives who have lucky golf balls. As a youth, I had a favorite pair of boxing trunks that I associated with being unbeatable. At least I did until fighting a guy who was not a true believer, and who beat the hell out of me. Darned him.
These are examples of how human beings often look outside of themselves for power. This, of course, ties in with the concept in psychology of locus of control. An internal locus of control means that a person believes that they can exert a significant influence on how their life goes. An external locus of control means a person believes that outside forces control their lives. The majority of people fall somewhere in between on this spectrum. They recognize there are things they can control, as well as things beyond their ability to influence.
Now, let's consider this concept in an expansive manner that includes examining what we might call the religious and spiritual rituals that human-kind has been practicing since agriculture became a primary source for food for the community. This allowed groups of people to live in settled locations for extended periods of time, and as these groups became larger, created social stratification at levels greater than previous community life had. For example, this led to what is known as priesthoods, where rituals included a separation between the individual and the energies of life that was filled by the priesthood. This, of course, is by definition the creation of a mass external locus of control within the community. Even today, we witness people who believe that eternity comes after death, rather than understanding that we share in the eternal Now right here, right now ..for it has always been Now, is currently Now, and always will be Now. An internal locus of control allows one to recognize, for lack of better word, the miracle of participation in the eternal Now.
The same external locus of control allows for the separation between the individual and government. In a healthy society, that participation found in the internal locus of control is evident in democracy. It's not that true democracies do not experience and struggle with human and non-human problematic issues. Of course they do. But they do not contain large numbers of people who believe in things that they don't understand which always and only results in masses of people believing that some heroic figure be it a politician or god will come to their rescue. Someone who will do for them what they are fully capable of doing for themselves. (A true leader does for those unable to do it for themselves.)
Now, let's toss in rituals. Professional, college, high school, and neighborhood sports are good exampples of social rituals. We are seeing an increase in violence in many of these contest, especially within the crowds that are watching them. There is hostility between the fans of opposing teams. This leads to fights, from within high school bleachers, to outside of stadium parking lots. There are behaviors associated with riots in cities where teams win national titles.
Now, I am a simple-minded man, incapable of deep thought. I tend to play one-dimensional solitaire. But I think that much or all of this can be accurately applied to politics today. There are two obvious teams, and there are sub-teams within each. Billionaire republicans do not view themselves as on the same team as poor white trash. Yet that poor white trash believes in their heart of hearts that they have more in common with those billionaires than with poor Democrats, especially those who are not white. Thus, they are easily exploited. The billionaires capitalize on their ignorance.
At it's best, the Democratic Party is an alliance of many different sub-groups, that are united based upon common interests. That does not imply we all have the same life experiences, beliefs, and values. But we find things in common. Men and women are different, thank goodness. Black, brown, red, yellow and white people have some different experiences, but have the capacity to find common ground. Wealthy Democrats live very different lives than poor Democrats, yet they share many experiences.
There are tensions within our party. A great example was found when a young, poor, brown woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenged the old, wealthy, white man named Joseph Crowley in the 2018 primary. One doesn't need to look to the current rage that republicans aim at AOC ..re-read some of the discussions from DU at the time. Plenty of Democrats used to argue that she was too young, too left, and had no business challenging the established office-holder. The negative ritual of party politics came into play. Today, we see that AOC not only didn't hurt our party, but has instead improved it in numerous ways.
As we approach the 2020 elections, which includes contest ranging from presidential to the House and Senate to state and local offices as well as primaries and general elections it's important to remember that no single sub-group within the party has all the answers. We should not allow ourselves to be offended by those who think differently than ourselves. You might be in the Joe Crowley camp, or the AOC camp, but we should be on the same team. And we should remember that a logger works a lot harder for a lot less than a Donald Trump.
I myself have no power. It's the people behind me who have the power. Real power comes only from the Creator. It's in His hands. But if you're asking me about strength, not power, then I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness..
Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah
Like many people, after seeing reports on advances the Democratic Party has been making towards holding Donald Trump accountable for his criminal behaviors, I've been in a generally good mood about domestic politics. I loved watching our candidates debate this week. The events in Syria have been horrible, of course, and is a constant reminder of the horrors of Trump's foreign policies.
Then I woke up to the news that one of the people I respect the most, Elijah Cummings, has died. Although I never met him, or had the pleasure of talking with him, I have enjoyed the opportunity to listen to him speak, and to watch him provide our nation with what I consider to be the highest form of true leadership. Indeed, he reminded me of Leon, a man I knew as Uncle, and that I still treasure the many hours I was able to spend with. Both were true Gentle Men.
It's a cold, rainy day here in upstate New York. Still, my dogs wanted to go for their daily walks. I found myself thinking how much we need Rep. Cummings' leadership at this difficult time in our nation's history as I walked Kelly down my driveway, across the street, and then down the old dirt road. It had been part of the second turnpike heading towards Ithaca after the Revolutionary War. A man who had been friends and business partners with Aaron Burr had been hired to create a route from what had been the western front into the territory the United States was taking from Leon's ancestors. Those were the best and worst of times, I suppose. It always is.
We walked along the creek to a spot where, in the early-to-mid 1800s, a cloth & carding factory had been. There has been so much rain that unless you knew they were there, you could hardly notice the waterfalls that powered the old factory. Daniel Dickenson, who would become a U.S. Senator of some note, worked there as a teenager. He would a eventually marry the daughter of Dr. Colby Knapp, who had lived in what is now my home. Dr. Knapp was an abolitionist when being one wasn't popular in these parts. Local history records that he and Daniel had heated debates on this issue right up until the beginnings of the Civil War. Eventually, the gentle strength of Dr. Knapp convinced the Senator that slavery was evil, and had to be stoppe. In the summer months, I like to tend to Dr. Knapp's grave, which had been hidden by plant growth when I moved here.
It's hard enough for me to keep pace with Kelly on a smooth, flat road. Walking on an old turnpike with its 90 degree curves to assist horses pulling stage coaches up or down a mountain is even harder. And then he decides to follow some stray scent along a deer path in the woods. I find myself thinking of how Burr's friend followed the Iroquois' woodland paths while making the turnpike. The Iroquois, in turn, had followed deer paths. It strikes me as funny, because last night I had a long conversation with my daughter about getting in shape for athletic competition, and telling her it was important to study how deer covered the greatest distance the fastest.
By now, I was soaking wet, and Kelly was ready to head back home. I believe that we both agreed that the mountain that the turnpike travels towards our home is much steeper when walking up it. We finally reach the house, and by the time I've put on dry clothes, Kelly is fast asleep. So I take the opportunity to get on the computer. The first thing I see is a letter from my Little Sister, who asks, I wonder how we can pay tribute to Rep. Cummings?
I wish I knew the answer. I don't. As close as I can come to it right now is to say that we can honor him by carrying on the Good Fight that he was leading. I think of Dr. King's powerful message about our getting to the mountain's top without him, and I believe Elijah Cummings was leading us up that difficult trail. Perhaps the best way to honor him is to follow his lead.
My older son and I watched the debate last night. We are both registered members of the Democratic Party, as are my other three children. He supports one of our candidates, while I have decided that I am simply going to support the candidate that wins the nomination. We agreed that all of the candidates had a good showing.
It goes without saying that any one of the candidates on stage last night would be far superior to Donald Trump, but I found myself saying it repeatedly last night. More, each would be far superior to Mike Pence, should he be the republican's candidate. I think that is important to keep in mind.
Each of our candidates has strengths that would not only make them a good president, but could also make them a potential vice president or member of a solid administration. Each is capable of not only helping our nation recover from the disease that Trump has spread, but to move forward as we enter the post-Trump future.
None of our candidates is perfect, which is to be expected. There are no perfect human beings, and there never have been. Keep in mind that it is only those who are hypnotized that believe otherwise. Think of the fools who ignore all of Trump's personal failures, and believe he is perfect. Remember the old Irish saying that a saint is merely a dead sinner, whose life has been revised and edited.
There is not a truly charismatic candidate today. In my lifetime, we have produced but two Kennedy and Obama but it is essential to recognize that both had substance beyond charisma. Both understood the workings of the bureaucracy. And each of today's candidates has substance.
I think that is the important thing to focus on a particular candidate's substance, their understanding of the the machine we call government, and their ability to unite the party next November. Whoever our candidate is, they will face a terrible mess when they take office. They will need to have the support and active participation of Americans at the grass roots' level to reconstruct the foundation of our federal government, no easy job.
He can run, but he can't hide. Joe Louis; May, 1941
Life don't run from nobody. Joe Frazier; March 4, 1968
When I was a kid, heavyweight champions like Joe Louis and Joe Frazier were among those I looked up to. Both rank high among the greatest champions in boxing history. Both were good men who made for great role models for youth. And both had a deep understanding of human nature within the context of intense conflict.
The Brown Bomber, considered by many the greatest heavyweight ever, was commenting on his upcoming title defense against light heavyweight champion Billy Conn. Although Conn was ahead on the scorecards after out-boxing Louis for twelve rounds, Joe flattened him in the thirteenth. Frazier's quote came after knocking out Buster Mathis for the vacant NYSAC heavyweight title, on his way to becoming the world champion. Mathis had given Joe who he beat twice in the amateurs a tough fight, before tiring from Smokin' Joe's intense pace, and getting flattened.
Now, this isn't an essay about boxing. It's not intended for DU's sports forums. It's about understanding human nature in the context of an intense conflict. It's about judging character, and using boxing one of the very few things I know and understand as a vehicle. I'll get to Trump soon.
Both Louis and Frazier were dedicated to long, hard training camps to prepare for each fight. A training camp is an isolated environment in the same sense that the White House is in a bubble. There is a relatively small group within each system. Louis and Frazier had employees, including advisers and friends, in their camps. But they were fully aware of the nature of the fight to come. They knew that when they took that walk into the ring, it would only be them doing the fighting.
They knew that the referee and the judges could play a role in the outcome of the fight. But each was intent upon forcing their own will upon the opponent, exploiting every weakness, and taking it out of the judges' hands.
Now, let's consider Trump. He has no connection to the sport of boxing, beyond hosting fights at his Atlantic City casino. He started doing business with Don King, the human parasite,starting in the mid-1980s. And Trump mistook his being around tough guys for being a tough guy himself.
Trump's familiarity with the great sport was entirely related to his wanting to make millions of dollars. In this, of course, it is no different than his approach to anything and everything: how can he make money? This is, of course, is the exact approach he has taken in both campaigning and winning national office.
Trump knows less about the federal government than I did when I was in the 6th grade. I mean that. He was convinced that being president would give him unlimited power to exploit economic opportunities. And he surrounded himself with low-lives like Stephen Miller, He considered Miller's ilk to be what he needs in DC. Think about the quality of people who have served in this administration. Think of the quantity who have served in certain important decisions.
His biggest success before running for president was on reality TV, where he pretended to be the person he fantasized of being. He transformed that role into the politician he played in the campaign. Enough people who cannot distinguish between reality TV and reality voted for him, that he won the republican primaries, then placed a distant second in the general election. Thus, he became president, a real life role he is entirely unfit for.
There is zero evidence that Trump's grasp of the realities of being the head of one of the three co-equal branches of the federal government since he took office. He has no self-discipline, invests no effort in being president, and shows no potential ability to become better at it.
Trump has never been in a real fight. He's always relied upon thugs like Michael Cohen to fight for him in potential legal cases, and Keith Schiller to serve as his personal body guard. Schiller infamously removed a journalist who asked Trump an uncomfortable question. And Trump folded in virtually every tough civil case he was engaged in. This is not the stuff of a tough guy.
Trump said he wanted to meet with Robert Mueller, but chickened out. Even with the Mueller Report, Trump depended on his personal attorney, Attorney General Barr, to advocate for him ..and by advocate, I mean lie faster than a horse can trot.
All of this added to his delusion sense of being untouchable. Obviously, if he watched the movie The Untouchables, he didn't understand it. But now he is finding out that he is not untouchable.
The White House is Trump's dressing room. As he looks around at the group of people there, he becomes aware that a growing number of his team have abandoned him, many joining the opposition. He knows that he hasn't done his roadwork, opting to play golf instead. Ivanka, his personal trainer, tells him that all he has to do is go the distance, as the majority of the judges are republicans sure to score the fight for him.
Soon it is time to take that walk to the ring. He knows that Ivanka and Jared are talking to him, but he cannot hear what they are saying. His thoughts are racing. The three Big Macs he ate are churning in his gut. For the first time in his life, Donald Trump feels completely alone, despite the fact that it is the biggest crowd ever (according to Sean Spicer) waiting to watch the fight.
In the early 1970s, at a fight card in Binghamton, NY, my brothers and I got a giggle out of seeing how nervous a guy in the dressing room was. He fancied himself a tough guy, as he beat a lot of drunks up in a local bar usually attacking them from behind. As he sat with sweat rolling off his forehead like a creek in the spring, my older brother asked him, You aren't afraid of this guy, are you? He's never won a fight? The fellow attempted to answer, but his vocal chords were too tense.
We watched him approach the ring when it was his time to fight. He took the steps up to the ring, turned quickly, and ran back to the dressing room. There are certain situations in life when one's character or utter lack of it are on full display. My bet is that Trump won't make it into the ring. I've seen this before.
The above link to the news story on Trump calling McConnell up to three times a day to warn him about disloyal republicans is important. It was updated an hour ago.
Keep two things in mind. First, Trump is obsessed with impeachment. He is afraid. Second, Moscow Mitch obviously hasn't assured him that all republicans have his back, or Trump wouldn't be calling to update his threats.
Let's start with a few lines from William Shakespeare's famous play, King Lear.
"Meantime we shall express our darker purpose." Act 1, Scene 1
"O! let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven; / Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!" Act 1, Scene 5
"I fear I am not in my perfect mind." Act 4, Scene 7
"Is this the promised end? Act 5, Scene 3
George Bernard Shaw said that no man will ever write a greater tragedy than Lear. I like that Shakespeare's King Lear is based upon the Celtic king Leir of Britain, who probably lived somewhere around the 8th century AD. And the fate of Leir like the character King Lear is tragic, indeed.
Leir/ Lear cannot be mistaken for Trump. The king questioned the wisdom of important decisions he made previously. He had a sense of foreboding as his mental decline approached. Trump is unaware of the fact that he owns his errors, that blaming others won't resolve the problems he created, and that he will be held accountable.
Still, those lines quoted above seem an apt description of the past couple of weeks. And it is clear that a nation's population can experience a great tragedy from a mad king.
Two of Trump's recent actions indicate that the pressure of the pending impeachment are taking a toll on the old boy. Both have to be viewed within the context of his awareness that he has done something wrong. His consciousness of guilt is visible by the administration's failure to comply with congressional committee's requests, with their changing of reasons for the phone call with the president of Ukraine, and with his attempt to throw Rick Perry under the bus. A person does not attempt to blame another for his actions if he is not fully aware that they were wrong, and will lead to negative consequences.
Now for the two activities that display the growing pressure he is under. The first is the rash decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, which Trump made at night without consulting anyone in his administration. It was, of course, a reflexive return to a decision he had made last December, before the strong republican opposition resulted in his reversing course. This week's spur-of-the-moment decision was not only an attempt to distract attention from his looming impeachment, it was a desperate attempt to win approval from his base. So what if a few thousand Kurds had to be sacrificed?
The second, closely related thing was the curious tweet in which Trump attempts to describe himself in pseudo-biblical terms as having great and unmatched wisdom. Even Lindsey Graham cannot explain this as a joke by Trump. Keep in mind that not only has Graham proven himself more than willing to humiliate himself by publicly kissing Trump's fat fleshy ass but Lindsey hasn't had to be instructed on which cheek to target. He has repeatedly gone directly to the sphincter.
In the past, I have noted in essays here that sociopaths under pressure sometimes experience relatively brief episodes of psychosis. Thus, their already disturbed thinking becomes detached from the realities confronting them. In these instances, while we can generally identify their goal to escape from the cause of their inner-tension and discomfort the tactics they may take are less easily identified. So while we knew Trump would attempt to shift the focus from his role with Ukraine by blaming others or attempting to define himself as a significant international statesman, we couldn't be sure of exactly how he would do this.
I would not have placed Rick Perry, for example, on my top ten suspects for his scapgoat. It's hard for me to picture Perry as a mastermind of any plot. I think more of Perry's infamous maple syrup moment:
Likewise, I assumed that on the international front, Trump would call for a military strike on Iran. I did not even consider the possibility of removing troops from Syria. That thought never entered my mind.
Last week, I noted that I thought Trump would become the most dangerous between Thanksgiving and the New Year. In light of what is happening now, that's a scary thought. Hopefully, people in Washington will castrate him before that happens.
Strange days, indeed! Most peculiar, as John Lennon sang.
The Manchurian Candidate was a novel that Richard Condon published in 1959. Three years later, John Frankenheimer directed the movie version. The story was about a Korean veteran who had been a POW and tortured, which was certainly a reality for too many young men sent to fight that war. Upon his return to the US, the man was unconscious of the fact that communists from China and the Soviet Union were exercising mind control over him. As an assassin, he would help take over the United States.
It is difficult for those who were not alive at that time to appreciate how frightening this movie was for many Americans. Both World War Two and the Korean War were recent history. The Soviet Union had tested its first atomic bomb ten years earlier. Red China, as it was known in the U.S. then, had openly intervened in the Korean War by 1950, literally sending waves of soldiers that made our forces run out of ammunition. US POWs were brainwashed it is accurate to say our soldiers were terribly mistreated. China would have the atomic bomb by 1964. So all these factors made Americans uneasy.
How frightened were people at the time? My generation recalls civil defense drills as far back as elementary school, which included hiding under our desks, or sitting with our heads between our legs in a hallway. This was our version of today's active shooter drills scaring the heck out of children. It was considered rational at the time.
But irrational people reacted to the fear, as well. I remember some sad incidents in the rural neighborhood of my youth. A neighbor, who was a Korean War vet, also suffered from what was called manic depression. Most of the time, he was an off-beat but wonderful man. He was my best friend's father. But when he didn't take his medication, he was very afraid that the Chinese were inches away from invading our country. One afternoon, when my family returned home from somewhere, he was in our basement, destroying all of my father's tools that had the color red on them. Another time, he attempted to run over a neighborhood kid wearing a red tee-shirt. The reason I tell of this will be apparent shortly.
Yet, for many Americans, that was a fantastic era. Fathers worked, mothers were homemakers, and dogs almost always behaved. As 17-year old John Lennon wrote about England, it was a time when belly-buttons were knee-high, and only shitting was dirty, and everything else was clean and beautiful. We watched Father Knows Best, and white folks were comfortable in believing they knew their place in society. Women were expected to be obscene, but not heard.
It seemed really unfair for communists to want to destroy our country. Our leaders warned us that Martin Luther King, Jr., was certainly a communist trouble-maker. Darn him. The middle class was happy to pay high taxes so that the military could keep us safe. Ignore what Ike said at the end of his presidency, for he was old and confused. We could trust the CIA to not throw the bath water out the window with Frank Rudolph Olson. We were stronger than the communists.
In 1962, authors Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bey published the novel Seven Days in May, which quickly became President Kennedy's favorite. The authors had based the story upon some of their feelings resulting from events and interviews with Generals Edwin Walker and Curtis LeMay. It is about a military coup that results when a president tries to make peace with the Soviet Union. Kennedy pushed for it to be made into a movie. President Kennedy allowed part of it to be filmed in the White House. Frankenheimer was the director, and it was released in 1964.
Things remained pretty darned good in the USA, with but a few exceptions. Oh, there were some political assassinations, but they were deemed the work of white men. Then, like now, murderous white men were insane loners, and that made everyone feel safer. Well, perhaps not Fred Hampton, but he wanted little children to get free breakfasts, a sure sign of communist influence. Better dead than red., it was said.
Yet the commies remained intent upon destroying us. Southern ministers conducted studies of the Beatles' music, for example, and concluded it was written by communist mind-control evil geniuses. King and others engaged in the Civil Rights movement, which in J. Edgar Hoover's expert opinion was a communist plot. Then America's youth got upset about the war to save South Vietnam from Uncle Ho, who had helped the US during WW2. Clearly, too few of these young people were watching Father Knows Best.
The United States in 1968 was as divided as it had been since the Civil War. It was as divided as it is today. Many in the government, including LBJ, were convinced there was a coordinated effort to overthrow the government. The Youth International Party (YIPPIE!) named their paper Over Throw, after all. And YIPPIES never told jokes. It was a tense and frequently very violent time. But we survived.
Today, we face a serious threat to our national security that isn't just in people's imaginations. It is Donald Trump, his administration, the majority of the republican politicians, and a large segment of the republican party. We are seeing Trump not only openly violating the Constitution, but aiming dog whistles at a segment of his followers. It's not only to those who are suffering from serious mental illnesses. Rather, he is targeting others who are obsessed with the delusional threats that Trump is barking about. These are Trump's candidates.
Some may inhabit the margins, and mail bombs from their van in Florida. Others are simply angry, like the guy who murdered people at the Wal-Mart in El Paso. And still others are parts of the white nationalists groups that infect our culture. They are dangerous. Trump knows this. That's why he is signaling to them that they need to act out violently, to protect him.
It's a crazy time in this country. Trump will continue to be more dangerous until between Thanksgiving and New Year's. His unstable base will become more dangerous in 2020. It is what it is.
Still, we are in an increasingly good position within this tense situation. We have elected representatives who understand the use of creative tension. And we are more powerful than our opposition in every important way.
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