Showing posts with label Eric Hoffer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Hoffer. Show all posts

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Let the Games Begin

The “games” -- meaning the Congressional Hearings regarding the Russian influence on our election results and the possible “cooperation” of Trump and/or his legion of surrogates.

James Comey laid out his case in great documented detail.  Is there enough there to “prove” a case of impeding an investigation by a sitting U.S. President, or even impeachment.  No.  Not, yet at least.

And Trump’s reaction was predictable, cherry picking what he liked such as the three times Comey said he was not personally under investigation (he wouldn’t be – yet), then claiming other statements were “a lie,” such as demanding “loyalty” of Comey.

Trump also said he is “100%” committed to testifying under oath (watch out what you wish for).

It was a one on one conversation, so it boils down to who do you believe, the meticulous note taker Comey, or the off-the cuff reactions of President Trump?  Yet, they both may be telling “the truth.”  How can that be? 

At the risk of sounding like an armchair psychologist, simply put perhaps Trump believes his own lies, has created his own reality, and really does not believe he said or meant those aspects of Comey’s testimony.  Therefore, he can in good conscience testify to that effect. 100%.

As Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer said, “We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.

Perhaps future candidates for President should be required to undergo physical AND psychological testing?  Aren’t we entitled to choose between the healthiest candidates for such an important office?

And from another site (there are many), “certain personality traits where pathological lying may occur include” (does any of this strike a chord?):

    Narcissism or self-centered behaviors and thought patterns
    Abusive attitude
    Obsessive, controlling, and compulsive behaviors
    Jealous behavior
    Manipulative behaviors
    Socially awkward, uncomfortable, or isolated
    Low self-esteem

Almost a month ago I wrote to our two Senators (Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson) and our Representative (Brian Mast).  This was before Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel but right after James Comey was dismissed as FBI Director by Trump.  I ultimately received responses from Nelson and Mast, those were after Mueller was appointed and thus their responses were understandably focused on that appointment.

Rubio on the other hand provided an automated response that a reply would be forthcoming and such a reply never did.  I find this interesting as Rubio’s questioning of Comey was definitely Trump predisposed.  Rubio seems to be committed to appealing to the base that got him elected.  This country has devolved into Newton's third law of physics, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Just flip back and forth between MSNBC and FOX and you can experience the polarity.

Here is our letter first and then the responses.

May 13, 2017
Dear (insert name of Senator or Representative):

My wife and I, both retired, are distraught and anxiety ridden over the behavior of President Trump.  I can think of only two times we’ve felt so concerned:  during the Cuban missile crisis and during the end of the Nixon administration.  Luckily, a stable, resolute President Kennedy prevailed during the former crisis and our democracy and separation of powers worked to ensure the preservation of the Republic during the latter.

Where are the courageous Senators to insist on a special prosecutor (now that the FBI has been kneecapped) to investigate the extent of any possible collusion of the Trump election team with Russian operatives?  Where are the courageous Senators to insist on a complete examination of Trump’s financial dealings in light of the emolument clause of the Constitution or to consider whether his removal is justified by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution based on mental illness?

Perhaps you feel the same existential dilemma we do: how does one, as a citizen of a country he/she loves, support its new leader, given his unstable, even despotic behavior, one who relies on nepotistic advice? 

The concept of separation of powers and the role of the 4th estate are being severely tested and we look to the Senate as the last bastion of defense.  Will you and your colleagues rise to the occasion or are you going to allow this person to run amuck and jeopardize everything our founding fathers stood for?  His behavior is an affront to the dignity of the Office of the Presidency, weakening our country instead of protecting it, something he pledged to do when he was sworn into office.

We will be carefully watching your actions and depending on you to do the morally right thing to protect our country.



        Senator Marco Rubio
        May 13 at 11:54 AM

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Your correspondence has been received and I welcome the opportunity to address your concerns. Hearing directly from constituents such as yourself is truly an honor, and your input is much appreciated.

Please look for my response in the near future. In an effort to serve you better, please do not duplicate e-mails into the web-form, as it may serve to delay the response to your concerns. If you need immediate assistance with a federal agency, please call (866) 630-7106, toll-free in Florida.


U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

May 22 at 6:40 PM
Dear Mr. Hagelstein,

Thank you for contacting me in support of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in our elections and potential ties to the Trump administration. Your thoughts are important to me as I work to effectively represent you in Congress.

You deserve transparency and accountability in government. We should never run or hide from the truth. If we seek out truth and embrace it then Americans can know we all play by the same set of rules.

As you may know, in addition to ongoing investigations in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel for the Russia investigation. Like you, I hope that Director Mueller can be looked at as unbiased and that his finding will be respected by all. The American people deserve answers, and I am committed to ensuring a transparent process as these investigations move forward.   

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.  If you’d like to receive updates about this issue and other news that’s important to our community, please sign up here.  To follow along with my work on your behalf, please join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram   and YouTube.  If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me again.  As always it is an honor to represent you in the United States Congress.


Brian Mast
Member of Congress

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

May 30, 2017
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hagelstein:

 Thank you for contacting me about ongoing investigations related to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election.

In March, I called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and/or the establishment of an independent commission to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference.

After the President fired FBI Director Comey on May 9, I repeated my calls for a special prosecutor and/or an independent commission. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice named former FBI Director Bob Mueller Special Counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. Bob Mueller has the experience to conduct a thorough investigation. Now, he must be provided the resources and independent authority he needs to follow the facts wherever they lead.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has pledged to continue its bipartisan investigation into Russian attempts to influence our election. In addition, I am cosponsoring S. 27, which would create an independent commission to investigate Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election.

According to the U.S. intelligence community, Russia is responsible for a number of hacks and the subsequent leaking of stolen information related to the 2016 Presidential election, at Putin's direct order. The attempt by an outside power to influence the election and promote a particular candidate is a very serious threat to our constitutional form of government.

On December 29, 2016, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in response to these hacks. I am cosponsoring S. 341, the Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017, a bill that would keep sanctions imposed on Russia for election hacking and other aggression in place until Congress says otherwise.

As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Ranking Member of the SASC Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, I will continue to support policies that enhance our capability to deter and defend against cyber attacks from all enemies.

Now isn’t the time to cozy up to Russia, now is the time to stand up to Russian aggression.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Sincerely, Bill Nelson

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The More things Change

The more they stay the same.  Well, not exactly.

I’ve been winnowing my old files.  The stuff I come across sometimes amazes me, things I wrote that I don’t remember or don’t remember saving or why.  Two recent discoveries remind me that over the decades I have witnessed an amazing span of history, technological developments, a world that has evolved with increasing complexity and interconnectiveness.  Yet, still, some of the old political issues are not old at all.  They have merely festered and changed their spots.

I found copies of two letters I wrote in my salad days, the first to the New York Times commenting on their editorial on Barry Goldwater’s nomination, a man who, in retrospect, seems tame by today’s conservative / tea party crowd. However, at the time of his presidential candidacy in 1964, he had not ruled out the use of tactical nuclear weaponry against our Cold War nemesis, the Soviet Union, and anyplace where communism was being supported.  Johnson beat him badly in 1964.  Interestingly Goldwater moderated in his later years as a statesman, and in my mind redeemed himself, although always a staunch conservative in the classic intellectual sense, not the bible-thumping variety of today.

In any case, at the height of Goldwater’s rise to the nomination in 1964, the twenty one year old me wrote the following to the New York Times:

                                                                July 19, 1964

The Editor
New York Times
New York, New York

To the Editor:

“Disaster at San Francisco,” indeed, may yet become a disaster for America.  Your firm editorial stand against Senator Barry Goldwater must be continued to help defeat this dangerous radical, so that we may prove to ourselves and to the rest of the world that “it can’t happen here.”
As Hitler made use of Germany’s post-World War One frustrations, Senator Goldwater is a political demagogue who similarly, but more subtly, intends to capitalize on the frustrations of many Americans, frustrations that have arisen in the ashes of domestic racial problems and the tensions of the Cold War.  Goldwater tells us, as Hitler told Germany, that we are the strongest country in the world and we should stand up to the opposition (who he vaguely refers to as “the Commies”).  This simple, but realistically absurd suggestion, appeals to those who are unable to bear the responsibility of living in these modern times.  Unfortunately, there are still many “good citizens” of America who believe that if we act as if it is still the “good old days,” we will recreate those days.
If we are to preserve democracy in our country and continue to encourage democracy abroad, we must condemn political extremists who present oversimplified, irresponsible, and inherently contradictory solutions to complex issues, solutions which would isolate us from our friends abroad and which, conceivably, could destroy the world as we know it.

Its contents mention some of the same issues Americans face today, particularly as espoused by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  The latter of course bills himself as a true conservative, but he is the very kind of conservative who I think Goldwater himself would have condemned.  In fact where is Barry Goldwater when we need him : -)?  Here is something Goldwater said to John Dean in 1994: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”  How profound is that, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Cruz?

And my files coughed up a letter I wrote three years later to Senator J. William Fulbright during the height of the Vietnam War.  Again, different times, different war, but still relevant in many ways:

                                                                                August 6, 1967

Senator J. William Fulbright
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
United States Senate
Washington D.C.

Dear Senator Fulbright:

I am just finishing your book THE ARROGANCE OF POWER and I felt obligated to immediately express my support of your thesis.
The Vietnam situation is truly tragic.  The noble ideals of our great country are belied by our actions.  How can we expect the world community to look to America for leadership while we drop millions of tons of bombs on a small country of mostly peasants, support dictatorships, even as we seem incapable of resolving many of our own domestic problems?
                While I do not feel that we can just abandon our Asian commitments, we need to discard our military’s “search and destroy” philosophy in favor of seeking a solution over a conference table – which may demand compromise, but ones also compatible with democracy.
                In addition, I believe that the United States has more to lose by endeavoring to become the world’s policeman.  An Asian conflict should be resolved, in the most part, by the Asians and/or the United Nations, with the encouragement of the world’s great powers.  Our military involvement in the affairs of other nations only tends to weaken the fabric of the U.N. and secures the animosity of other nations toward us.
                I encourage continuing your efforts to reestablish the system of checks and balances provided for in the Constitution so a more realistic foreign policy can be devised and implemented.
                With great admiration of the courageous and sensible stand which you have taken, I am,
                                Sincerely yours,

So, there you have it: the “mini- me” of some five decades ago writing about some of the same issues of today. 

And now the present brings us into a political environment ripe for extremism, as evidenced by the unexpectedly strong primary showings of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, polar opposites but in many ways playing to the same base, the disenfranchised. In early December I wrote a piece It Can’t Happen Here? (the very words I wrote to the NYT fifty two years earlier) suggesting that Trump was merely a Trojan horse for Ted Cruz.  Still might be (or for Rubio), but now two plus months later Trump is not only still in the Republican race, he’s in command of it, and in fact could be much closer to becoming the Republican nominee after today’s primaries. 

And who knows where Hillary might be if her email morass deepens, but assuming she is the nominee, what if some of Sanders’ supporters, particularly the disenfranchised young, join up with the Trump crowd (who Trump now likes to celebrate as being the short, the tall, the skinny, the fat, the rich. the poor, the highly educated and the poorly educated – making a particular point that he LOVES the poorly educated). Those two groups could become a potent base.

Trying to connect all the dots in my mind – how can a phenomena such as a Trump come into being?  An epiphany: I remembered my long-ago reading of Eric Hoffer’s classic The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements.  For a more detailed recollection, I went to Wikipedia’s description.  Hoffer is eerily on the mark.  It could serve as a textbook explanation of Trump’s appeal, other than the merger of “reality TV” and the presidential primaries. From Wikipedia…..

Hoffer states that mass movements begin with a widespread "desire for change" from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions. Feeling their lives are "irredeemably spoiled" and believing there is no hope for advancement or satisfaction as an individual, true believers seek "self-renunciation." Thus, such people are ripe to participate in a movement that offers the option of subsuming their individual lives in a larger collective. Leaders are vital in the growth of a mass movement, as outlined below, but for the leader to find any success, the seeds of the mass movement must already exist in people's hearts.

While mass movements are usually some blend of nationalist, political and religious ideas, Hoffer argues there are two important commonalities: "All mass movements are competitive" and perceive the supply of converts as zero-sum; and "all mass movements are interchangeable." As examples of the interchangeable nature of mass movements, Hoffer cites how almost 2000 years ago Saul, a fanatical opponent of Christianity, became Paul, a fanatical apologist and promoter of Christianity. Another example occurred in Germany during the 1920s and the 1930s, when Communists and Fascists were ostensibly bitter enemies but in fact competed for the same type of angry, marginalized people; Nazis Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm, and Communist Karl Radek, all boasted of their prowess in converting their rivals

It is unlike any presidential election cycle I’ve ever known, even the Goldwater era which from this point in the future looks placid, even sane.   The macho trash talking of the Republican “debates” leaves me bewildered, but that testosterone also extends into policy – make America “great again” by building up the military (we should be building our infrastructure instead).  A highly recommended read on the topic is written by an ex-military man himself, Jim Wright: The Latter Days of a Better Nation

An afterthought, the relevancy of art as expressed in Your Beliefs by Jani Leinonen -- displayed at the recent Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show.

                                           Your beliefs become your thoughts,
                                           Your thoughts become your words,
                                           Your words become your actions,
                                           Your actions become your habits,
                                           Your habits become your values,
                                           Your values become your destiny.
                                                             ― Mahatma Gandhi