H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
I am old enough that I should have known better. Clips of the human fungus, Ted Cruz, in his failed attempt at stand-up comedy could have been enough of a warning. Surely the brief film of Roger Stone dancing in the parking lot provided a flashing red light, warning me to stop watching. But I had a valid reason for watching Trump's cpac speech.
(Note: My valid reason is that, due to health & recent injury, I have been largely confined to a single spot in my house since late Friday. With the exception of hobbling to the bathroom -- with my right leg giving out on me approximately 50% of the times I have attempted to -- I have been stationary. The remote was about ten feet from me, too far for me to grasp. Hence, I am currently in the middle of the bathroom and the couch, writing this before I call my doctor to explain why I cannot be there today, as previously scheduled.)
As CNN's Brian Stelter recently noted, it is important not o be distracted by the Trump cult's attempts to derail our focus on what is important. Before examining the significance of Trump's speech, let's consider three other important factors. First, the polling of cpackers showed that about one-third of them prefer that Trump not be the republican candidate in 2024. Second, Mike Pence came in lower in popularity than Donald Jr., and was mentioned less than Tiffany Trump. Third, the symbolism of the room and the golden calf are more significant than any of the pre-Trump speeches.
Within moments of Trump opening his sphincter to speak, it was clear that he was re-enacting many of the lines and themes he had used from 2015 on. On the surface, it was evident that his entire term in office was primarily a re-election campaign, with rallies and tweets that repeated a limited number of messages ad nauseam. Yet the repetition of a simple message -- especially of coded appeals to fear and hatred -- is a tactic that tyrants have long found effective in programming their supporters. It reaches the target audience on a level just below the surface of consciousness, much like nazi variant of the Odal rune and the golden calf. None of this was coincidence.
For the first two-thirds of his speech, Trump's delivery was more focused than any presentation he has made since 2016. He was concentrating on his target more intensely than at any time since he was recorded on the Access Hollywood tape. He was sowing the seeds for the continuation of the war against the United States that I had hoped had shot its wad on the January 6 insurrection.
The last section of the speech was all about his being a sore loser, much the same as his obnoxious behavior after the November election. As others have noted, this is no surprise, as he was a sore winner in 2016. It remains to be seen if this helps or hinders his effort to stir the pot of violence in America.
What we can say with absolute certainty is that the struggle continues. I know that many, most likely most, people are tired. A lot of people feel drained emotionally. The pandemic, the loss of loved ones, and the social isolation take a toll upon strong people. Add the on-going horror of the Trump cult, and it is evident that we are in a difficult time.
But there is good news. We won extremely important elections last November. Trump was impeached for a second time. Perhaps the very best thing about being a smear on my couch these past couple of days, unable to sleep due to pain, is that I've watched hours of film of various congressional committee hearings. The Senate Watergate Committee, the House committee debating articles of impeachment per Nixon, the House Committee on Assassinations, the Iran-Contra hearings, the Kerry Committee (1988), and the House Committe hearings on the CIA and drug trafficing (1998).
Now, not everything was wonderful or heroic during all of those hearings. I remember, for example -- regardless of one's beliefs about those assassinations -- Dick Gregory's saying that one House member told him that they knew J. Edgar Hoover was connected to King's murder ....but despite Hoover's being dead for several years, they felt pressure not to address his role in detail. On the other hand, watch John Kerry in 1988, and/or Maxine Waters testifying in 1998, for outstanding examples of brains and guts. Amazing, even after all these years.
The House managers at both of Trump's impeachment hearings were as good a anything I've seen. While I might not agree with everything from each and every Democrat in the House and Senate, or White House, I am 100% confident that they have their end covered. What is important now, and especially as we approach April, is that we at the grass roots level continue to do our job. And I am 100% confident that we can do exactly that.
Apologies for a long, rambling rant. Back to the couch for this old grouch.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; Thursday, June 26, 1978; 9:45 a.m.
",,,,So the idea that a man's knowledge and understanding depends upon the whole of him -- that is to say, depended upon his level of being -- runs smack-in-the-face and contrary to all Western thinking. But quietly as it is kept, this is precisely why we find ourselves in this predicament at this present point in time: Why is it that we are totally unfit to exercise any kind of wholesome control over the immense forces that man has won from Nature; and why is it that, now having obtained this awesome information, which is far in advance of out present level of being, why it is that this knowledge is now endangering our whole future! And why? Because here, in this Western world, and particularly in America, it has always been accepted that a man may possess immense knowledge but without ever having seriously considered his level of being. In America it is acceptable that a man may be a Supreme Court Justice, a Doctor, a National and International Politician, or an abled Scientist -- and at the same time it is considered legitimate and even fashionable, in this country, that they have the right to be a racist, or a petty, egoistic, caviling, mean, envious, vain and malicious snake! The people of America have placed great value on the level of a man's knowledge; but has no shame on their own low level of being!"
In 1980, the Onondaga Nation's Faithkeeper Oren Lyons spoke to a group in Binghamton, NY. What I remember most from Oren's speech to the non-Indian audience is when he said that, in a relatively short time, a significant percentage of people in the US would experience some of those same harsh problems that his people have endured for centuries.
I think of that while listening to the news about people suffering in Texas. I think of it when I read from one of this forum's members who I have the utmost respect for, as his daughter and he survive inside their vehicle, desperate for warmth. And I think of it while I walk out to my pond on the frigid moonless night.
Though inpenetrable by way of deep slush in the afternoon, my driveway has become solid ice by midnight. The crust holds my (over-) weight as I venture slowly across my lawn, down the hill to the woods, and across the froozen swamp. There are dozens of oval depressions in the snow -- not crop circles made by unidentified life forms, but by the six deer that inhabit my property. It is so frigid out that I know they will be nesting in the pine trees tonight, and so I avoid them.
Through the darkness, the outdoor light from my neighbor's house provides me direction. Their young son recently died from an overdose of heroin. I think of 17-year old poet John Lennon's line about a pain so deep it hardly became known to him. I have made it to the pond, where various animal tracks lead directly to where the spring supplies water that flows even in this bitter cold. My body is numb, yet I feel everything.
I had gotten word, shortly before midnight, that two relatives rushed to the hospital on Sunday were stable. My oldest brother died recently, his body not being found for several days. This following the death of an aunt, an uncle, a close friend of 40+ years, a neighbor. In hard times, I always try to identify what important lessons are to be learned .....because if one does not learn from suffering, I would suggest they have missed an important opportunity.
I know what I will do when I get back inside my house. I've communicated with a number of young adults, all graduates of the school district where I had served on the board of education over the past 72 hours. This is the village where,as I reported here this past summer, a student-led Black Lives Matter rally was confronted by aggressive, violent, and armed Trump supporters. Over the weekend, a guidance counselor posted a racist meme on the internet, attempting a "joke" about President Biden slipping on the banana peels that VP Harris drops on the White House floor.
The young people I've talked with include some who have contacted the school superintendent. They have heard back from him, and are satisfied -- for now -- that the school will recognize there is a problem that needs to be addressed. I have contacted two school officials, but have not heard back from either. So when I get inside, I will begin my message to members of the school board. I'd like to know, for example, how the school will deal with students of color needing access to a guidance counselor. Perhaps put a "whites only" water faucet outside this woman's door?
A rodent scurries from near my chicken coup as I get on my lawn. It had been attempting to dig through the ice and froozen ground to get a meal. So I bring a cup of cracked corn from the garage to the far edge of my lawn, confident it will find it once I'm inside. It's far from where the cats might be tonight, and it is so bitter cold that I haven't heard a single coyote.
I can't help the suffering people from Texas right now. But I know that if we all do that which we are capable of doing well, we will be okay. Now that includes not believing the lies we were told in our childhood and youth, by the type of adults who tell banana peel jokes. We are capable. It is 1 am/est now. I figure that I've got a good four hours to invest, before laying down and watching a Watergate documentary.
I have read, both here and on other internet sites, a number of Good People who are disappointed with the impeachment trial. Some believe the Democrats should have called witnesses. Others can't believe that the republicans were so cowardly. I'd like to take a couple of minutes, if I could, to try to put things in a different context.
For those fortunate enough to not be familiar with me, let me begin by noting that I am on the tip of the left wing of the Democratic Party. During the trial, I was visited by two friends: one a former member of the Weathermen (now a doctor), and a young man who likes to be further to the left than me. I try to make him understand that isn't actually so -- I just prefer to stick to things that can be accomplished.
I make no claims to being accomplished myself. But there are a couple of things that I do know about: boxing and digging ditches for the foundations for houses by hand. In my youth, the two merged, as digging ditches is great training for fighting. By no coincidence, I pulled out and old scrapbook before starting this essay, and found the 1974 article my late friend Rubin Carter wrote for a boxing magazine. In it, Rubin notes that things such as justice and democracy require constant struggle.
It's not a fight that you win and that's it. Rather, it is only after one recognizes that it is constant that one can find true peace of mind. And that is exactly the peace of mind that allows you the strength to keep up The Good Fight. And we won more rounds in this week's impeachment trial than they did. Just like after most fights, you can tell by looking who won the fight, I dare say we left some lumps and bruises on the republicans. There are none on us. And the judges scored it 57 to 43 for us.
Now back to digging ditches to put in foundations for houses. Rubin had worked for a construction company early in his boxing career. I have photos from 1963 with Rubin working with a shovel. He taught me a good workout with a shovel that helps in boxing. Now, I was always digging in the hardpan and rocks of rural upstate New York, so I needed that peace of mind to even get started on a job.
In 2018, we saw a lot of people picking up their shovels and pickaxes and start on an essential job. We won back control of the House. In 2020, we all had our shovels and pickaxes and ballots, and now we have the House, the Senate, and the White House. Now that is a solid foundation to build upon. And this week, we saw the House managers build a beautiful room upon that solid foundation. But we aren't through, because justice and democracy require constant struggle.
Yes, it would have been very nice if the republican Senators all voted to convict the orange man who lacks convictions. But did anyone actually think there was even a tiny chance of that? No rational person could. It isn't in their nature. Don't put the bar too high. Remember that all important victories are the result of long, hard work and dedication.
This week was huge for Democrats, and horrible for republicans. Let's make the weeks and months ahead even better for us, and more terrible for them.
"Article 2 of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was just the simple fact that he talked about and suggested the potential use of the IRS against one or two of his political oppenents." -- Monica Crowley
Why, I ask, did Trump not hire poor Monica to run his defense in the impeachment trial #2? I mean, all Trump did was talk about and suggest attacking one or two of his political opponents.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Democratic Party's managers' presentations this week. As an old man who has faithfully watched Congressional hearings since the days of Nixon, through Iran-Contra and beyond, this was as powerfully well done as anything I've seen.
It stands in stark contrast to the case made by Trump's legal team, which was as thin as the few strands of hair attempted to disguise David Schoen's balding skull. It's said that Trump was furious when, on Tuesday, Schoen would hold those strands in place when he took sips of water. Bruce Castor comes across as being as sincere as Abbie Hoffman would have been in making a commercial in support of Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign.
Senators Cruz and Graham, in miserable show of subjectivity, have been meeting with Trump's legal team in an attempt to salvage the republican party in general, and their careers' future specifically. Safe to say that the Senate will not convict Trump. Though I wish that they had the decency to do so, it would be unrealistic to expect the most cowardly of poltroons to experience a brief moment of courage or conscience. For they fear Trump's cult more than than their shadows.
Early in each of my children's lives, I taught them that when I was addressing their behavior, not to try the, "Yeah, but what about ____?" They learned that I was only focused upon them, and not anyone else. And that weak attempt at distraction would only and always result in a consequence. My younger son, now a crisis counselor at an area school, laughs these days about the number of people who never learned this important life lesson.
We win, no matter what path the current republican party opts to take. But we have to understand the nature of the beast, and fully appreciate that we are in for a long fight. As their party either divides or attempts to remain united is,, obviously, important. But more important is that we recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of the two republican factions. And knock the stuffing out of them, by attacking either or both of their strengths and weaknesses frequently.
This week, the vile Claudia Tenney was determined to have won the NYS -22nd seat in the House, my district. In 2018, Anthony Brindisi had defeated her in a similarly close and contested election. Now, Anthony is already going to run again in 2022. So many of us at the grass roots' level are already beginning our plans for supporting Anthony.
It looks like the Senators are coming back in! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
"But let justice flow like a river, and mercy like an unfailing stream." -- Amos 5:24
The stench of decay becomes a maelstrom within the dark, empty space between the sociopath's ears, exciting his oral cavity to become a whirlwind rousing his followers to engage in an insurrection against the nation. Weeks later, the poisonous snake believes he is still entitled to occupy the presidency, and his armed supporters still believe him.
Trump's legal beagles refuse to use his "stolen election" delusion as a defense in the impeachment. To do so, they know, would be to admit that the 6th was indeed an attempt to deny a peaceful transfer of power, in order to deny the election's outcome. Instead, the first attorney's presentation came close to arguing for Trump's conviction, though it was an appeal to potentially sane republicans.
The second one channeled the furious confusion of the republican masses. The combined message is clear: if you vote you conscience, the right wing shall primary you!
Yet without a conviction, the subversives will continue to attack. They, like Trump, believe he is the president in exile. Convict him in the Senate, so that they will know he is not.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love." -- Martin Luther King Jr
Lately, because of the mix of frigid weather interrupted only for snow fall, I have been trying to make use of time by watching documentaries and speeches on the tube, and reading and discussing the teachings of the ages with my daughter. I find, for example, that a presentation by Robert Sapolsky has a somewhat different meaning in the post-Trump era, than it did in the pre-Trump era.
While many in our nation turn their lonely eyes towards a groundhog in Punxutawny -- a region that the Lenape's language translates to "place where small, annoying insects gather" -- I find myself thinking about those small, almond-shaped parts of our brain known as the amygdala. Might they not assist us in understanding why some people take part in a fun, safe, and happy traditional gathering, and why some of what King described as "our sick white brothers" storm the Capitol?
Being too old for snowball fights -- including those on the internet, which routinely become iceball wars -- I'd like to add and subtract something to that King quote: "our sick brothers and sisters," though not in an attempt at political correctness. For I am not concerned about "politics" today, just about human beings. And the amygdala.
The amygdala takes in information quicker than does our conscious mind. Thus, we jump backwards when encountering a rattlesnake. Since accuracy of threat perception is not among the amygdala's strengths, we often have that same reaction to, say, a small section of rope in the grass. As my son points out, that lack of threat analysis is an evolutionary bonus, despite its tendency to over-react to small sections of rope.
There are, of course, numerous other brain functions going on that influence the way that modern human beings process information on an unconscious level. By no coincidence, these relate largely to our sense. If one is going up for parole, it is far better to have one's hearing in the 45 minutes after the board's lunch time, than the 45 minutes before. In a comfortably heated room, people often tend to interrupt information more or less positively, depending upon the temperature of the drink they are holding. Likewise, those sitting in wooden chairs tend to interrupt information more negatively than those in cushy chairs. Hopefully, I never am the subject of a parole hearing, but I will keep all of this in imnd.
Now back to the amygdala. It has been studied since the early 1800s, and is part of our limbic system, regulating a range of emotions. The amygdala on the right side of the brain has been identified with what are often called the negative emotions of fear and sadness. The one on the left has associations with both the pleasant and unpleasant, from our brain's reward system and to anxiety.
Since relatively few people will remember 2020 for its pleasantness overwhelming their senses, let's consider the opposite. How many factors that might contribute to creating anxiety, gear, and hatred can you list? Covid. The economy. Trump's daily tweets. Isolation. How many of these lead to more time on the internet, being exposed to the never-ending series of outrages? Or, how about that wide range of people -- from nurses to teachers to cashiers in grocery stores to police officers to the homeless veterans? How has all of the hyper-active outrage of 2020 influenced their state of mind as they conduct their daily duties?
What collective processes were at play when the white nationalist Trump cult invaded the Capitol? How does that relate to Karen not caring about why you are wearing a mask while in public? Or the fellow, donning a MAGA cap, who aggressively expresses his disagreement with a bumper sticker in the Wal-Mart parking lot? Or your in-law who finds it offensive that you do not subscribe to Q-anon theology?
Clearly, these people, both as a group and as individuals, range from mildly obnoxious to toxic. More, a percentage of them do pose dangers to civil society. It is, I will speculate, beneficial to recognize the very unattractive reactionary behaviors of our sick brothers and sisters as the unconscious human behaviors that do not, in the current context, offer any evolutionary value.
Why is this important -- if it is important at all?
Because despite the solid job that the FBI is doing investigating the violent thugs that invaded the Capitol, and the increasingly serious charges that DOJ prosecutors are charging them with, the federal justice system alone will not resolve the social-political decay that threatens us. The Biden administration and the Congress are limited in what they can do. In the final analysis, it comes down to community-based efforts to coordinate efforts to heal the wounds that this threat has inflicted.
Our relative may still say she thinks that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Our neighbor may still wear a MAGA cap as he yells at children to get off his lawn. And, being human, we will be tempted to react to their crude behaviors. Yet, there is an alternative. We can recognize that these are mildly-to-fully pathetic people, ruled by the anxieties and fears that once helped our ancient ancestors to avoid rattle snakes. Just as we do not give in to slap them, we must refuse to respond in a manner that fuels the destructive forces at play in our society.
Groundhog Day is now over. The riot at the Capitol represents a path that many want our nation to follow. But these are not our only options. As individuals, we can rise above the mechanical processes of our unconscious minds. We can join together, in the spirit that Martin Luther King taught, and reach that higher ground of human potential. For that is, in the end, the path that offers us as individuals and a society the best bet for a meaningful future.
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