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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 65,817

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Dust Bowl

"Our whole social environment seems to us to be filled with forces which really exist only in our own minds." -- Emile Durkheim


I was thinking about the shootings in Atlanta this morning as I was sweeping the kitchen floor. The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was playing. The line, "I look at the floor and see it needs sweeping" stood out, immediately reminding me of Durkheim's line about a late-stage society being "a disorganized dust of individuals."

Durkheim, along with Max Weber, organized the studies known as the social sciences. Durkheim's concentration in sociology was primarily on the factors that were associated with social coherence versus those connected to social disintegration. Might the theories of a man w3ho died 103.5 years ago be of value today? If so, is it possible that a crank old man, educated by way of the abacus and overhead projector rather than computers, translate these theories in a meaningful way?

There was confusion even in Emile's lifetime. His "sacred-profane dichotomy," which has to do with society's religious cohesion, has often been mistaken for placing a value judgement on religion. Yet it has nothing to do with "good versus bad." Let's consider it in another way, that may make more sense in today's world.

When I was a student, more than a half-century ago, Walter Cronkite of CBS News was recognized as the most trusted man in the country. Those at ABC and NBC delivered the news in as close to Walter's manner as possible. Thus, while the country was divided on issues such as the war in Vietnam and Civil Rights, it was possible to engage in discussions and debates, based upon interpretations of the same set of facts.

Today, there are the television networks, 24/7 cable news, talk radio, and a massive quantity of internet sites of inconsistent quality, for people to get their information. It is hard to discuss politics in general with a person who "knows," for example, that Barack Obama is an Islamic atheist, born in Kenya, who sought to destroy our nation. And it is near impossible, if not totally impossible, to debate one who "knows" that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

"Yes," you say, "but what about Durkheim's ideas about the impact of 'social facts' and a 'collective consciousness'?" Let me be clear -- I not only appreciate your mentioning these, and agree that they are both extremely important. "Social facts" are those things that exist in and of themselves, and often have an independent reality not connected by the group or individual's beliefs. Durkheim used the example of suicide. For sake of this discussion, I'd use the example of our society's environmental practices: the fact that humanity is, in effect, committing species suicide by poisoning the natural world is independent of if Ted Cruz believes in the human role in climate change. Ted doesn't have any meaningful connection to the great outdoors, for heaven's sake.

The "collective conscience"-- which he also refered to as the "common consciousness" -- is the sum total of the belief systems within a society. Again, "belief systems" can include, but is not limited to "religion." When the society shares these same value systems, it forms the glue that holds things together. An important factor in this, Durkhein noted, was the emotional responses insures common responses in given situations. But when, for example, half of the population believes in science (independent of individual religious beliefs), while the other half puts total faith in a religion (and does not trust them there scientists), the glue no longer holds. And those emotional responses are at risk of shutting out the potential for rational thought.

I imagine that if anyone has read this far, they recognize that all of this is factoring into our current societal disintegration. In my opinion, the largest division in our society is between the collective of conscious people and the collection of unconscious republicans. We tend to recognize that our country has numerous sub-groups that form overlapping identies for the vast majority of people.

One of these sub-groups, which we will refer to as "white people" for sake of accuracy, contains a significant number of folks who are convinced that they are America. They view the non-white people as less than fully American. And they are convinced that their ownership of America is threatened by "others" who are, in fact, just as much American citizens as they are.

Within this sub-group, I would like to focus upon a specific segment, the young males, ages 15 to 25. Within this collection, there are numerous important factors, including education, economic class,and more. They include issues that result in what is known as "dysfunctional families," which in turn create the roles for the children (hero, lost child, scapegoat, caretaker, etc). While the children of dysfunctional families can overcome the associated negatives of any role and become healthy, high-functioning adults, not everyone does. More, even in relatively "normal" families, there can be children who take on characteristics of these roles.

For those familiar with family systems, it is not difficult to recognize those children and young adults who are most at risk of illegal and/or violent behaviors. Add factors such as racism and right-wing media's influence, along with a shit-stirrer like Trump, and as awful as the violence is, it comes as no surprise. More, one can anticipate the differences that this violence may take -- from the group invading Congress on January 6 to the quasi-incel in Atlanta.

What was his motivation? A "really bad day"? Sexual frustration? Oh, race played no role? Bullshit. Look at the family system he grew up in. An adopted Asian-American brother who is extremely successful in life, compared to his being a "loser." Despite a seemingly "normal" family life, a fuck-up in a society where a large percentage believe that violence is an acceptable form of problem solving, of dispute resolution.

Powderfingered




It infuriates him daily. Each and every day since the November election, Donald Trump has fought the acceptance that Joe Biden beat him in a one-on-one contest. All of his adult life, Donald had kind of wanted to be president. He had flirted with the idea coyly in numerous television interviews over the years, and even sent a message to George H. W. Bush, letting him know that he would be willing to serve as Bush's vice president. But Bush ignored his generous offer.

Despite his attempts at tough talk about our country being stolen from and laughed at, and in need of a strong leader, Donald had no real concept of what policies he favored beyond any to enhance his financial status. Indeed, that was the only reason he donated to political campaigns. In fact, Donald Trump had a positive opinion of every U.S. president, from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush. Then things changed.

Trump had started listening to Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention before quickly changing the channel. "Boring," he said out loud, confident that Obama had no future in politics. "What a light weight. Empty suit."

Donald the suppressed any thought of Obama until 2008's primaries. He was certain that Obama had absolutely no chance of winning, and hoped to see him crushed and humiliated. It upset Donald greatly when it became apparent that this Obama guy would be the nominee. But, he thought, America will elect John McCain, especially with that vice presidential choice. Trump never felt comfortable around McCain, sure that John was thinking about bone spurs. But Palin was someone he could talk to, maybe even hit upon.

The very concept of "President Obama" was unsettling for Donald. But he either couldn't, or wouldn't, put a finger on exactly what it was. He knew he wasn't prejudiced, for he had a black friend, Don King. He never really liked King, but the boxing promoter had made his casino real money at a much-needed time. Plus King treated him with great respect. But he remembered what his father had told him over the years about black people. No doubt this Obama would be in way over his head, fail miserably, and the public would turn against him, rendering him a one-term loser.

The guy wasn't even born in America. It didn't matter to Donald if this was accurate or not -- for whatever people could be convinced was real becomes true. Plus the guy is a Muslim, he thought, and his being elected had resulted in racial tensions. At some level, Trump thought of Obama as a challenge to his position as the Most Important & Loved Man in America. Time to attack: show us the birth certificate!

Then came April 300, 2011:


President Obama had humiliated him in a public way. Donald was furious. He was determined to become president, in order to destroy everything Obama accomplished in his presidency. While it is true that during his time in the White House, Trump did all he could to advance his family's fortunes, and appointed federal judges he was convinced would thus forever be in his debt, his core theme was to compete with Barack Obama. He wanted to make a record that he believed would prove he was smarter, better educated, more attractive, and far more popular than Obama. And far more loved, respected, and feared around the globe.

In the presidential election of November of 2020, Joe Biden beat Trump. Publicly. It is essential to understand exactly what that meant to Donald. It was as if Batman sent Robin to do battle with the Joker, and Robin won. We have witnessed Trump's refusal to accept that. January 6 was not the end of it.

The on-going investigations show that the planned coup on January 6 was more organized and entrenched within not only those groups that support Trump, but also with the involvement of people connected to the Trump administration. They believed that the response of the police would be different than what it was. Charles Flynn had different plans for the eventual introduction of the National Guard, which explains why there was a more than three hour delay in their deployment.

Everything goes in cycles. Some, like years, are longer than others, such as weeks. Donald Trump did not initiate the cycle of hate we have been subjected to as of late, but he surely rode the wave. He took advantage of it, and he added to it. And that wave of hatred and violence has not disappeared -- it is simply recharging its batteries. The degree to which Trump will play a role remains an open question, perhaps, but one thing is certain: he hates Biden with the same passion as he has hated Obama. I'd suggest he will continue his war on the United States.

Speaking of cycles ..... as I find myself in the part of the human life cycle known as "old age," I try not to waste time. I tell my daughters that I figure I have less than seventy years left on this turn. So even when temporarily sidelined, as I've been the past ten days, I do think about things. But for the unacceptable length of my essays on this forum, I would speculate -- likely with a high degree of accuracy -- what we will experience this spring and summer as it relates to the alt-right.

Frequently, I point to Ireland's "The Troubles" as the direction we should not head in. But I think I might focus more on the situation in Mississippi in the eight months before the Civil War to illustrate some important current dynamics. And discuss the 22-year old from Neil Young's song, who sees black as his face splashed in the sky.

Peace,
H2O Man

Canker Cluster

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.

Peace,
H2O Man
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