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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 55,923

Journal Archives

Paul Ryan's Grudges

One of the most interesting dynamics of the “State of the Union” address was watching Paul Ryan’s face, as he listened to President Obama speak. As I explained to others in my living room, Ryan holds a grudge against the president, dating back to early 2011. The roots of that very personal animosity is something that should be of interest to everyone, as we approach the 2016 presidential election.

In April of 2011, the ambitious Representative Ryan produced a proposed budget that was so harsh that even Newt Gingrich referred to it as “radical right-wing social engineering.” Think about that: the Ryan proposal was so extreme, that even Newt -- a man who willingly stooped to disgraceful lows to appeal to both the deficit hawk and neoconservative wings of the republican party -- recognized it as an attempt to brutally change the social fabric.

Ryan’s proposal would have tattered the social safety net that allows the poor to survive; ended the middle class as we know it; and rewarded the 1% with “generous” tax-cuts. Had it been instituted, the Ryan budget would have made a balanced budget impossible for more than a generation.

Shortly after Ryan’s proposal was made public, President Obama spoke at George Washington University. During his speech, he noted the Ryan plan was not “serious,” and ‘would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known.” As fate would have it, unknown to the president, Paul Ryan was in the audience. And he was furious with President Obama’s dismissing him as a serious player in Washington.

It was the combination of Ryan’s cruel budget propsal, and his growing hatred for Barack Obama, that resulted in Willard Romney’s selecting him as the republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. And the results of that election explains why Speaker Ryan attempted to ignore VP Joe Biden last night -- the near total lack of communication between the two demonstrates how Ryan clings to grudges.

I think that all of this shows how inaccurate the media was last year, in portraying Ryan as a “compromise” candidate for Speaker of the House. Indeed, Paul Ryan is the poster child for the rabid right-wing of the republican party. Just the thought of him serving as Speaker, under a republican president, should be enough to unite the Democratic Party.

Peace,
H2O Man

State of the Union: 2016

I think that President Obama’a “state of the union” speech was one for the history books. It was clearly his most important “state of the union” in his two terms as president. And I say this as someone who not only supported him twice -- most enthusiastically in 2008 -- as well as someone who has been a critic of many of his actions as president.

It appeared to me that President Obama was less at ease at the beginning of his speech, than I can remember him being in the past. As he spoke, it became clear that, while he was not going to elevate shit stains like Trump or Cruz directly, he was intent upon addressing the dangers of the growing strain of fascism in American culture today.

Speeches alone can be nothing more than fancy words. But I do not get the feeling that this describes what we heard tonight. I think that President Obama voiced some of the frustrations that he has had with his republican opposition. More importantly, President Obama called for the American people to stand up, and make their voices heard.

The President spoke about the positive potential of the American people. I am damned sure that I’m going to answer his call in 2016.

Sincerely,
H2O Man

What are You reading?

I’m curious what books other DU community members are currently reading? I ask this for several reasons -- the first being that in the years I’ve been a member (since 2003), others have recommended a number of important books to me. My little library could have a section of “DU Recommended” books on politics, history, and sociology. Without question, I’m far more interested in what good people here suggest, than any other group that I communicate with.

The second reason is that I’m attempting to watch less television news these days. In large part, I already know everything I need to know about Donald Trump, and I have the urge to vomit when media coverage of the 2016 election devotes more than 50% to reports on this fellow. I am enjoying investing more time reading …..something that, as I live in the northeast, helps make the cold season pass quicker.

Normally, I find enough reading material from public library book sales in the late summer and fall, to last me until spring. My children gave me eight good books for the holiday, totaling a little over 4,000 pages of new reading material. I’ve started all of them, and finished a few. So, I got a bit antsy today, and used a couple Barnes & Noble gift cards that I had laying around, to order some new books.

High among my favorite social philosophers is Erich Fromm; over the years, I have quoted from (and recommended) a number of his books. Thus, today’s order includes three by Fromm:

1- On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power;
2- Marx’s Concept of Man; and
3- Dogma of Christ, and Other Essays on Religion, Psychology, and Culture.

Thanks in advance to any/all responses!
H2O Man

The Good Fight

Earlier this week, a couple of my co-workers in grass roots activism visited me, to discuss our plans for 2016. Before we got started, we watched some “news” on MSNBC. One friend noted that the more progressive voices on MSNBC had been silenced -- people like Ed Shultz and David Shuster. I noted that there are documented examples of the republican machine putting pressure on MSNBC executives to fire Chris Matthews, back when he was reporting on VP Cheney and Scooter Libby’s central roles in the “Plame Scandal.”

My friend pointed out that even among those progressives still featured on various shows, there appeared to be conscious efforts to not offend the right wing, by telling the truth and pointing out republican lies. I thought about this last night, when I started reading one of the Christmas presents from my children (they gave me eight books on politics, adding up to over 4,000 pages of good reading).

I had read Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise: President Obama, Year One” shortly after it was published. It is a good book, and while reading it, I recognized that Mr. Alter is actually a bit more “to the left” than he comes across while on MSNBC. Clearly, writing a book offers him a better format to speak his mind openly, than does being a guest panelist onan evening talk show.

The second book in this series, “The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies,” is even better. I think that this book has enough value to be of interest to both members of the Democratic Party and Democratic Left. The author speaks openly about his admiration of President Obama -- he has been highly impressed with Obama, since he was a state senator. But the book isn’t simply an exercise in cheerleading: he focuses on the divisions within the Democratic Party; how the republicans seek to exploit these divisions; and the very real threats the republican party and the tea party pose to our constitutional democracy.

Chapter 6, for example, is titled, “The Voter-Suppression Project.” There is an on-going, coordinated effort in at least 19 states to “discourage” non-republican voters from pulling the levers in local, state, and federal elections. The republican machine targets two groups in particular: non-white citizens, and young people. This includes specific, unethical efforts to deny black and Hispanic citizens from being registered voters. And the republican play-book for this operation comes straight out of Nixonland.

By 2010, the republican machine was confident that they would, after the 2012 election, hold the reins of power in the House, Senate, and White House -- thus allowing them to stack the deck in the US Supreme Court. This master plan sought to coordinate the five identified wings of the republican party: the “deficit hawk” party elders; the neoconservatives; the “small government” libertarians; the Christian hawks; and the tea party. To the extent they could coordinate their efforts, the republican elders were confident that they could de-fund Planned Parenthood and other social programs; destroy “Obama-care.”; end environmental protections; and increase the theater of war in the Middle East.

Now, that sounds like a republican wet dream, and unrealistic to boot. This is especially so, when we consider the harsh divides in the republican party in the context of the current presidential primary season. The republican elders had believed they could control the tea party with a few corporate contributions. While this worked initially, the tea party has become their Frankenstein monster, which threatens to demolish the balancing act required for a united front.

Still, we cannot count upon the republicans’ self-destruction to bring about stability in politics. In fact, it’s just the opposite: the republican party’s inner turmoil presents a most serious threat to social justice in America. Donald Trump’s candidacy has morphed from a pathetic joke to the very real threat of fascism.

Alter’s book -- including, obviously, its title -- makes use of William Butler Yeats’ 1919 poem, “The Second Coming.” The book opens with the following lines from that haunting piece:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

A century later, we are witnessing that. Even today, the Trumpets are attempting to set up a confrontation between a projected “over-flow” crowd in Burlington, VT., and those who are planning to protest Trump’s appearance. It is no coincidence that this is being staged in Bernie Sanders’ home town.

These are not the tactics of a campaign that is confident that, if all the facts are laid out upon the table, and each candidate debates their positions, that the majority of all potential voters will support their candidate. Nor is it the approach of a campaign that merely seeks to deny a portion of the public their right to vote, by “legal” means (driver’s licenses, etc). Rather, it is the behavior of a bully and his gang, who will aggressively try to intimidate those who support the opposition. And it’s not limited to those who support Saunders …..no, this is just the first step.

The Trumpets view Bernie’s supporters as “weaklings” -- you know, egg heads and tree-huggers. Easy-to-scare victims. After this, they will focus more on those who support Hillary Clinton. The Trumpets view Clinton’s supporters as mainly women who need to be “put in their place.” They know they aren’t going to keep all Democrats from voting inNovember. But if they can prevent a segment from being able to vote, and frighten another segment from even trying to, that combination would vastly increase the republican candidate’s chances of winning.

What happens when Democrats do not vote? As Alter documents on page three of his book, it impacts far more than a presidential election ….and even more than House and Senate contests. Speaking of the 2010 mid-term elections, he notes:

“Beyond Congress, Republicans also won a landslide in the states, where they took eleven governorships, including five in battleground states won by Obama in 2008. It could have been even worse: In five other blue states, Democratic candidates for governor won by fewer than ten thousand votes, All told, the GOP now had control of twenty-nine of the fifty statehouses. Less noticed but perhaps more significant, Republicans picked up 680 state legislative seats, giving them control of more than half of state legislative chambers, the most since 1928. Not a single analyst on Election Night predicted what this might mean for election rules that could shape the outcome of the presidential race in 2012.”

The 2010 loses were primarily due to the low numbers of Democrats who got out to vote. It takes no insight or skill to point fingers, and assign blame, for the low turnout. We know that there are two general schools of thought on this -- the liberals didn’t get out to support the party versus the party leaders put forth uninspiring candidates. Suffice to say both sides are “right” and “wrong” ….which simply means that such thinking creates an environment where even the most repulsive of republican candidates can win elections.

At risk of sounding like Chicken Little, clucking that 2016 is the most important election in human history, I am convinced that we do not have the luxury of approaching the November elections in a business-as-usual manner. I do not mistake Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as evil super-geniuses, exercising an unwholesome but complete control over their flock of followers. Neither are extraordinary, visionary leaders. What is of concern is the growing energy force that motivates their crowds.

More, I am concerned with the flip side of that coin: the good people of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left. I’m concerned with the intensity of the acrimony that is saturating the discussions between the various wings of our party ….and how that could result in a low and divided voter turn-out in November. The hostilities that are dividing various camps of Democrats make a cooperative, coordinated front in November increasingly difficult.

Thank you for reading this rant, and keep on fighting the Good Fight!
-- H2O Man

Oregon vs Wounded Knee

On February 27, 1973, about 200 members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) began an occupation of Wounded Knee, The seventy-one day action, which gained international media attention, was an important chapter in our nation’s history. It was, of course, highly symbolic of the nature of US-Indian relations, and took place in a hamlet near where the massacre of over 200 Lakota people occurred on December 29, 1890.

A central issue was the relationship between Native American people and the land that they inhabited. It was as important in 1973, as it had been in 1890. Indeed, the distinctions between the manner in which various people relate to the environment -- the land, the water,and the air -- remains one of the most significant conflicts in our society today.

It is worth noting that in 1973, President Richard Nixon moved to have the United States Army play a central role in the non-Indian response to AIM’s occupation of what was and is, by all legal definitions, Indian territory.

The US military and para-military supporters had state-of-the-art (of killing) automatic weapons, machine guns, an estimated 130,000 rounds of ammunition, helicopters, and more. People suffered and died. Federal charges would be brought against two important AIM leaders, Dennis Banks and Russell Means.

The jury that heard the case would vote 12-0 the pair were “not guilty” on the central charge of conspiracy. Before they could address the other, lesser charges, one juror had a stroke, and was unable to continue. The US government was unwilling to accept any 11-0 judgments, and sought a new trial. But the judge dismissed the case, based upon unconstitutional government misconduct.

Douglas Brinkley’s book of White House transcripts, “The Nixon Tapes; 1973” documents the intensity of Richard Nixon’s advocating for a military solution to this conflict. Numerous other sources document how Nixon selected Al Haig to take charge of the military operation, and its tragic outcome.

I understand and fully appreciate people’s strong ties to the land they live upon. This seems to be particularly true when families have lived in an area for multiple generations. More, both the American Revolutionary War, and the infamous Anti-Rent War of the 1800s, were largely or entirely rooted in people’s relationship to land. Indeed, the disconnect between people and the environment -- while it creates numerous very serious problems -- appears to prevent many people from standing up for their rights as citizens of this country.

When I say this, I in no way intend to express approval of the current crisis, where the terrorists are occupying federal land in Oregon. While I am fully convinced that there is a definite need for public demonstrations -- including civil disobedience in some instances -- I know that the non-violent tactics of Gandhi and King are essential. And I know that our relationship with the land, water, and air is worth our accepting the consequences of such non-violent activities.

I mentioned the Wounded Knee incident for two reasons. First, as many intelligent people have correctly noted, too often the government’s response to potential conflicts is determined by the “race” or ethnic identity of those they identify as “the enemy.” (While discussing Oregon with my daughter this afternoon, I asked, “Can you imagine if this involved Black Lives Matter?” She responded, “No, I really can’t. A lot of my friends are actively involved with Black Lives Matter. And none of them would ever think about carrying a weapon to a public demonstration.”)

Second, when we consider Nixon’s vile reaction, including his ordering a military response, we have a preview of how several of the current republican candidates will respond to those attempting to do nothing other than exercise their constitutional rights, as defined by Amendment 1. And that’s something we all should be paying close attention to. And I say that, fully aware that those of us who have been active participants in pro-environmental issues -- such as the struggle to prevent “fracking” -- are already all too familiar with.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Power of Ideas (& President Obama)

I think that President Obama’s speech today was extraordinarily powerful. It ranks, in my opinion, as not only one of his strongest speeches, but ranks as one of the most important in our nation’s history. As many of the Good People on this forum have noted, this speech combined rational thought with sincere emotion, and that made watching it a very positive experience.

It reminded me of important teachings from the two mentors that I had the pleasure of knowing as a young man: Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and Chief Paul waterman, of the Onondaga Nation. Rubin spoke of the Power of Ideas, and Paul about the Power of the Good Mind. These two concepts, of course, are closely related.

Each involves how we, as individuals and groups, perceive problems that confront us. In the example of President Obama’s speech, he identified a serious problem -- for only an unhealthy mind could believe that the violence that maims and kills innocent people in our society is not a serious problem -- and he proposed steps we can take to address that problem. A key point in the President’s speech was that he communicated both “how” and “why” we can take the steps that he advocates.

As with the majority of serious problems that we face, as individuals and a society, there are no magical “cures.” There is no easy way to resolve the anger and hatreds that result in the mass murders that are all too common these days. But, as he noted, we can chose to deal with these issues, in an on-going, rational manner. And I believe that President Obama identified important steps that we can take …..steps that are not instant solutions, but rather, are necessary steps to take in that on-going effort to curb the deadly violence that damages the fabric of our society.

I’m reminded of Minister Malcolm X’s teaching that, if you place a sparkling, clean glass of water next to a glass of contaminated sludge, you can trust a thirsty people will make the correct choice. Today, of course, we have the example of President Obama, compared to the sludge of the terrorists in Oregon. This provides a stark contrast in problem-solving and dispute resolution.

There are, as we witness the rise of Donald Trump in the republican primary contest, a growing number of people who view aggressive tactics as a legitimate option for problem-solving. This is not to suggest that this is somehow “new” -- for far too many, aggression and violence are as “American” as apple pie. Their behaviors have contaminated family life for generations, and as they feel justified -- as part of a vocal group -- their passions have begun saturating our towns and cities. We see the results when a cop shoots a 12-year old boy playing in a park, and when a man shoots little school children inside of their classrooms.

It was extremely important that President Obama spoke today. Yet, the Power of Ideas, and the Power of the Good Mind, demand that you and I are moved to action today, as well. For with the rights defined by our Constitution, come great responsibilities. In this context, we have both the right and the responsibility to contact our elected representatives -- local, state, and national -- and tell them that we support President Obama’s position.

We can be certain that the opposition has been organized and prepared to do exactly that. This includes those who support the dangerous actions of the terrorists in Oregon, and those who are invested in violence. These are people who, while not mentally ill in the legal sense, are ethically and morally impaired: in their sick minds, President Obama poses the “real” threat to our nation. They believe that “strength” is defined by weapon collections, aggressive behaviors, and hatred.

Our strength comes by way of the Power of Ideas, and the Power of the Good Mind. These require that, as individuals, we call, write, and/or e-mail our elected representatives. That, of course, is simply one step. But it is actually an urgent step, more so because we know the opposition is making their voice heard.

I would like to propose that, after we accomplish that first step, we consider some options for group projects. These might include actions as simple as having a hundred forum members focus on contacting an individual “news” program, perhaps one on MSNBC. I’m sure that people here can come up with other good ideas.

Thank you for your consideration,
H2O Man

Thank you, President Obama

I am impressed with President Obama’s talk, which is being covered live on MSNBC. I say this, as: (1) a citizen who twice voted for him for president; (2) a person who has both agreed and disagreed with him on important issues; (3) an avid supporter of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights; and (4) a human being who has had numerous relatives and friends murdered over the decades that I have been alive.

Some of these people were murdered with guns, some knives, some strangled, and one with a chain saw. In the past 15 months, I have posted several times about my cousin and his son being shot by an off-duty law enforcement officer. Hence, I recognize that no single law could have prevented the horrors of these numerous murders.

Yet, I am absolutely in favor of President Obama’s common sense, rational approach of trying to curb the hideous reality that -- no matter what statistics some point to -- our society is being damaged by on-going, high-profile incidents of gross violence. Hence, I will be calling not only the White House, but the offices of all of my elected representatives -- state and federal -- to express my support of President Obama’s efforts.

One last thing: I am very impressed with President Obama’s communication skills.

H2O Man DU:GD Poll

In your opinion, should the government of the United States attempt to have closer relations with the government of Saudi Arabia or Iran? Why?

In my opinion, that is similar to choosing which republican candidate would be a less terrible president, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Question on Socio-Political Issues

This morning, an associate that I have known as socially and politically active since the 1960s called, and asked my son to tell me that he planned to stop by today. He’s one of those people who has a couple of Ph.D’s, in different areas that are of interest to him. More, he is a very good and decent person, someone I have long had the highest respect for.

When he came this evening, he went right to the issue he had come to discuss. He wants to write and publish a book on “current events” on sociological-political-legal issues, with the intention of breathing life into the Constitution of the United States. His idea is to have four authors, who contribute three chapters each.

Although I am -- by far -- the least formally educated of the four proposed authors, the others consider me as an “equal.” In fact, two of the three have asked if I might contribute to one or more of their chapters. So it sounds interesting.

My question to you: what issue (or issues) would you identify as the most interesting and important to be covered in such a book? Thank you for any contributions to this discussion.

Peace,
H2O Man

Trump-Tube Babies

(UPS) Attorneys for republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filed papers in the on-going law suit against comedian Bill Maher yesterday. The suit, originally filed in 2013, seeks damages after Maher, appearing on Jay Leno’s show, reputedly claimed that “perhaps” Trump is the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”

According to a potentially explosive new DNA study submitted under sealed file to the federal court in Los Paranois, social scientists from the Water Man Foundation have concluded that Trump is related to neither his mother, nor the orangutan she had sexual relations with in the year prior to Donald Trump’s birth. “I have concluded that Donald Trump was produced by ‘orange aliens,’ who spliced the original film clip of Richard Nixon delivering his infamous ‘Checkers” speech, combined with the residue from Mel Gibson’s ‘blood-alcohol’ test, from the night of his most recent black-out racist rant,” the head of the Water Man Foundation told UPS.

RNC chair Rancid Previous declined to comment on if this new scientific evidence could potentially deny Donald Trump the right to run for the presidency. “Richard Nixon is looking like a pretty good alternative for the republican party these days,” Previous stated. “And Mel Gibson speaks for a huge number of republicans.”
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