H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
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“I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”
-- Black Elk
This haunting quote from the Lakota holy man Black Elk describes his insight on the Wounded Knee Massacre. Today is the anniversary of the December 29, 1890 conflict, in which the US military attacked a group of Indian people who had surrendered their freedom the day before.
Spotted Elk, a chief of the Miniconjou, had led approximately 350 people, from various tribes, on a trip towards the reservation the military had selected for them. They had camped along the bank of the Chanjkpe-Opi-Wakpala, or Wounded Knee Creek.
According to historians, on the morning of the 29th, the military attempted to secure the guns that some of the Indians had. A deaf man, Black Coyote, did not understand when a soldier attempted to take his gun. Thus, the violence began: over 200 Indian men, women, and children were killed, and 51 wounded (4 men, and 47 women and children); some of the wounded died in the days that followed. Twenty-five soldiers were killed, and 39 were wounded (six of the wounded died in the following days).
The dead Indians were buried in a mass grave. The Wounded Knee Massacre would mark the end of the “Indian wars” of the 1800s. There were, of course, other incidents of conflict, where people were injured and killed. Though it was not the only such massacre, it stood out in our nation’s history.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon Dec 29, 2014, 01:35 PM (27 replies)
“Carter repeatedly spits out words like ‘kill’ in conversation. They reflect an easily triggered violence that lies barely restrained beneath his malevolent-looking exterior. In the boxing ring it is a violence that excites fans and is calculated to terrify opponents. ….Carter has not always used his fists in what can only be called his private war against society. Sometimes it has been knives, sometimes guns, sometimes cobblestones. …During last summer’s Harlem riots, for instance, he suggested, in jest, to Elwood Tuck, his closet friend, ‘Let’s get guns and go up there and get us some of those police. I know I can get four or five before they get me. How many can you get?’.”
-- Milton Gross; A Match Made in the Jungle; Saturday Evening Post; October, 1964.
In Norman Jewison’s 1999 movie “The Hurricane,” Rubin Carter makes the unfortunate remark quoted above, during an interview with a reporter. It was actually Carter’s manager/ business advisor, Elwood Tuck, who told the story to Gross. At the time, Carter was preparing to challenge middleweight champion Joey Giardello, in a bout that had previously postponed. Tuck was attempting to boost interest in the bout, by adding to the public image of Rubin as a scary black man.
The worst part, of course, was that Rubin said such a thing. The morning after the magazine hit the stands, Sugar Ray Robinson was on the phone, telling Carter that this could only be taken in a most negative manner by law enforcement across the country. And indeed, it was. I think that it is very difficult for anyone who did not live through that era, to fully appreciate both how tense “race relations” were at the time.
There were riots in Paterson, Elizabeth, and Jersey City, NJ, and Harlem and Rochester, NY, among other places. They had all started over a confrontation between police and an individual male “suspect.” In Paterson, there were broken windows, fires, Molotov cocktails, and random gun fire (no one was killed). And here was someone talking about shooting police.
Police saw a top athlete -- potentially a world champion -- that they believed posed a risk to their safety. Add to that the then-current heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, who was a member of the Nation of Islam. Police knew that Carter, like Ali, had an association with Malcolm X, and with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, unlike the current “controversy” about Rev. Al Sharpton, no one worried that Carter’s words would influence others -- they believed that Carter himself posed the threat.
In my opinion, it was a stupid thing for Rubin to say to Tuck, or anyone else. And it was a really stupid thing for Tuck to feed to the reporter. It wasn’t only law enforcement that found this offensive. Boxing, which was featured weekly on the popular “Friday Night Fights” in living rooms across America, had a number of “character-actors,” and Carter both looked and purposely (for boxing) promoted an image as a vicious felon. Carter’s popularity would plunge after the article was published. And a string of documented incidents -- at times associated with bars late at night -- began taking place. Although they appeared to be harassment, there was a pattern being made.
It was also stupid on Tuck’s part, because he was a bar-owner in Paterson, NJ. It was a decaying industrial city, with tensions between the black, brown, and white communities. A significant part of the tensions included complaints against some members of the police force. More, various studies have documented an unhealthy relationship between police, prosecutors, and politicians from Paterson, and members of organized crime.
By the mid-1960s, non-whites associated with organized crime had risen from the ranks of “enforcers” (something that former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, also a friend of Rubin’s, was often accused of being), to more mid-level positions. Much of the “vice” in those days -- drugs, gambling, and prostitution -- were run out of bars. There had already been tensions between two mob “families” over control of the Paterson region. And then black men began stepping up their role.
Part of the story that Gross wrote had to do with Giardello’s connections with organized crime. Testimony before the Kefauver Committee indicated that, for example, Frankie Carbo used to own Giardello. By the time of the Carter fight, Giardello fought for Antonio “Tony Bananas” Caponigro. Joey also had a violent felony in his background. The thrust of Gross’s article was that boxing was an ugly, violent sport, controlled by the mafia.
After losing a 15-round decision to Giardello, Rubin would replace Tuck as manager, though the two remained friends. And, in a relatively short time, Carter was convicted of a brutal triple-murder in a Paterson bar. For years, few people who were familiar with the Hurricane’s ring image doubted that he was a mad-dog killer.
Twenty years later, the federal court system would vacate the conviction, which was based upon a “racial revenge theory.” A black bartender had been murdered earlier on the night Carter was accused of murdering a white bartender. Although Carter did not know either victim or gunman in the earlier crime, prosecutors claimed that Carter sought revenge, by killing three complete strangers. In federal court, the NJ prosecutor admitted that there was no evidence that Carter “hated” white people, but that without this “motive,” he could not have gotten the conviction.
I’ve been thinking about that Saturday Evening Post article, since watching the news about the tragic murder of two police officers in NYC, and reading some discussions here on this forum. I have the added burden of insight, having had two relatives shot (one killed) by an off-duty officer less than two months ago. I understand how emotions impact the manner in which we process information about the world around us. I know how and why people who are hurting say some crazy things.
I go back in my mind to the late 1970s: a friend of mine was killed by some railroad workers. For a “prank,” they hung a cable on an old, abandoned railroad bed -- there had been two railroads in the town, and the police chief had recommended my friends ride their motorcycles on the old one -- along a blind curve. The workers, who knew that the cable would injure someone, saw my friend hit it from a distance. They laughed about it in a bar shortly afterwards, not knowing it had decapitated the young man.
Later that night, some of our friends wanted to get “revenge.” I was in the minority, in saying that was not the way. A few hours later, the depot was burned . The area media, of course, paid far more attention to the arson, than to my friend’s death.
The following summer, I led a group of friends in making the area our buddy was killed into a public park. My friend’s parents much preferred that to the arson. A few years later, they donated the money from the railroad to the human service non-profit agency I worked for, to start a program for “at risk” children and youth.
I remember having long discussions with Rubin, who was still incarcerated, about both the park and the program for children and youth. This was at the time when Rube was undergoing the transformation that the movie shows. The park piece was before the Canadians; it was when Rubin was isolating, and only communicating with myself and one other gentleman from Boston.
The other fellow (Thom) had introduced Rubin to Victor Frankl. As a result, Carter began putting away his law books, and concentrating on being released from his cell. For Frankl’s message is simple: we can do the right thing, not because of the horrors that life sometimes lays in our path, but despite them. This is the way to transformation -- both as individuals, and as groups.
We waste time and energy in “arguing” with those who, having been consumed by Fox et al, want to blame people who exercise Amendment 1, for the tragic deaths of those two police officers. And we are at a time when we do not have the luxury of time and energy to squander. More, all of that negative emotion is spiraling, and fanning the flames of hatred and fear, and that can only lead to greater violence.
Times of crises provide opportunities for transformation. And there has never been a time in this nation’s history when true growth has been needed more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Dec 24, 2014, 09:39 AM (2 replies)
“I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together.”
-- John Lennon
Last night, I watched the 2010 documentary, “I Am,” by Tom Shadyac. The film chronicles his journey from a successful film-maker, to a conscious human being. While I have heard of some of his previous movies, this was the first time that I have ever watched any of his works. It was, in my opinion, a worthwhile investment of 90 minutes.
Briefly, a bike accident that caused a relatively long-term injury to Shadyac’s brain caused him to question the meaning of life. Previous to this, he was the very definition of “successful” in the context of our society’s material world. But a severe post-accident depression sent him on a quest to find a greater meaning to life than accumulating material possessions.
The documentary included clips of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, religious leaders, and philosophers. They focused upon two general questions: what is wrong with the world?; and, what can we do about it?
Part of the attempt to answer these questions was based on the human understanding of two systems. The first is the mechanical -- for example, the life cycle of water, from rain to stream to river to ocean to evaporation and back to rain. The second is Darwin’s concept of survival of the fittest.
In the human culture of “western civilization,” the concept of “social Darwinism” has led some to consider how to exploit the natural world, with its various systems, for individual financial gain. This is connected with the need to make others -- the masses -- into less-than-human consumers. Little if any of this is “new” to most participants on this forum, I suspect. Yet, I think there is potential value in reviewing it -- perhaps especially at this “holiday season,” when a lack of ability to buy/consume products that we likely don’t really need, creates feelings of loneliness and separation from that group that, at least in theory, is our family and/or social circle.
The late December holiday season tends to bring about stress for the majority of people. Stress, of course, is part of human life experience, and can be positive or negative. The dynamics of modern society tend to create far more negative stress at this time of year; hence, for many adults, there is a sense of “I can’t wait until it’s over.” Other than when my children were little, I know that I have not enjoyed the Christmas season since I was little.
The documentary noted how important “little” things are -- even just how we respond to people as we pass by them on the street or in a store. It notes that it is the sum total of these small events that actually brings about change, far more so than a “big” event, such as a new act being passed by Congress. This is, in fact, the key to changing the world in which we inhabit: our every-day actions with the living environment, of which human beings are but one important part.
At risk of sounding utterly foolish, I would thus propose a living experiment for DU:GD that I hope others will be willing to participate in. In part, it is rooted in the message of that documentary. But a bigger part has to do with the tone of some of the OP/threads that I’ve read here in the hours since watching the flick. While the majority appear to be posted in an effort to stimulate thought and discussion, too many have a harsh, hostile quality that is unlikely to lead to anything positive.
Let’s make an effort during the week to be polite. That doesn’t mean that we should agree with everything that other folks post here. Not at all. But it does mean that we should respond in a thoughtful manner, rather than simply reacting with an insult -- even if a statement appears to beg for a verbal spanking.
More, no matter if one celebrates any religious or spiritual “holiday” this week, we are all aware that others do. And we know that this includes having a fair number of community members here who are dealing with loneliness, loss, poverty, or any number of other unpleasant issues that are worse during the holiday season.
And, even more, we just might find that, by putting our minds together, we can find not only the common ground that makes life more pleasurable, but who knows? We might come up with some good ideas for us to approach as a community in 2015.
Posted by H2O Man | Sun Dec 21, 2014, 04:40 PM (22 replies)
The Champ is in a hospital with pneumonia.
Posted by H2O Man | Sun Dec 21, 2014, 09:28 AM (9 replies)
Yesterday, I posted the following OP, which at two sentences is likely the shortest I’ve ever contributed to DU:GD! Luckily, there were the two links to go with it:
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo will ban fracking, due to the severe health risks associated with it. Below are links to two articles:
Today, I thought that I’d add a few thoughts on this important topic. Part of it will be things I’ve said before, but think are worth repeating. And other parts will be repeated simply because I’m so old, I often tell the same stories over and over, unaware and mildly confused.
In my younger years, I served as the top assistant to Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman. Paul sat on the Haudenosaunee’s Grand Council of Chiefs. His position among the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy was that of a “Wisdom-Keeper.” For many years, he was in charge of all of the burial protection and repatriation issues we faced.
In time, the Grand Council selected Paul to serve as the Gauyesa Toyentha. This translates roughly to “the messenger,” in the context that he was tasked with expanding his teachings on burial protection and repatriation, to include a specific environmental message: the power of clean water.
That might sound like a simple message. Or it might sound distinct from the issues of burial protection. Yet Paul had the ability to communicate the Truth of how these things are inter-connected. Indeed, the very things that threaten one, threaten the other.
As time went on, Paul would assign me more and more tasks. I assumed this was because he was old. But he told me that it was in preparation for my role after he was gone. Our relationship wasn’t anything like that of Don Juan and little Carlos; rather, it was built upon two things that Haudenosaunee culture values: the Power of the Good Mind, and Common Sense. (However, Paul did like Carlos Santana’s version of the song, “Black Magic Woman.”)
Regarding water, Paul suggested that I approach “teaching” people these “rules of life.” Most are very old, although at least one is newer. And that is important -- for we should all be learning more and new things. No group or individual knows everything. Here is what he said:
1- Clean water is the first Law of Life on the planet Earth.
2- When scientists look for evidence of life on distant worlds, the first thing that they look for is evidence that water may have existed there.
3- All of life on Earth originated in the great oceans. From there, it would emerge onto land.
4- All water on Earth contains life. And all life on land depends upon water.
5- The only water on Earth that no longer contains life is that which human beings have poisoned with toxic industrial wastes. These poisons cause sickness and death to all life within it; it likewise causes sickness and death to all the life on land that comes in contact with it.
6-The poisons poured into water by human beings goes downstream. This includes downstream to the next community, and downstream to the next generation.
There are two primary realms for delivering a message among others. Let’s look briefly at both:
1- The Power of the Good Mind: This includes both the individual and the group. Individuals think best when the waters of their mind are not polluted with anger, fear, or hatred, as well as when they are on a proper diet of food and drink. Groups are much the same. When a group of people can examine and discuss an issue, and come to agreement, it is a high form of the Power of the Good Mind.
2- The Power of Ideas: Great Truths are constant. However, cultures and societies change. Thus, it is essential to identify symbols that people grasp at a given time, to communicate those Great Truths.
My activities in the effort to protect the living environment from the poisons of fracking included both of these. Being human, of course, my efforts were at best imperfect. But I tried.
I spoke to groups all around New York State. Sometimes in people’s home, or churches, or government buildings, or libraries, or public parks. I worked with several grass roots organizations in a 13-county region. I wrote “letters-to-the-editor,” and spoke to radio and television reporters.
I also arranged a meeting between leaders of the pro-environment groups from across the state, and friend Robert Kennedy, Jr., who was serving on Governor Cuomo’s advisory panel.
In terms of symbols, I used the image of a sparkling clean glass of cold water, next to a glass of grimmy industrial sludge. A thirsty people can be trusted to chose the right glass. And I went on a “hunger strike,” to pressure state senator Tom Libous -- a puppet of the energy corporations, who accepted large donations from the Koch brothers -- to meet with leaders of the environmental community. Libous had refused to meet with us for over two years. I think that when high school students wrote to him about meeting with me -- and said they were going to picket in front of two of his offices -- he realized he needed to meet with me.
My role in the effort to ban fracking in our state was as part of a team. I don’t kid myself by thinking that my contribution was any more important than anyone else’s. I’m proud to have been part of a team fighting the Good Fight.
I also recognize that, while yesterday marked an important victory, it is only one round in a long fight. The opposition sure as heck isn’t going to quit. And so the struggle continues.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Dec 18, 2014, 01:25 PM (22 replies)
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo will ban fracking, due to the severe health risks associated with it. Below are links to two articles:
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Dec 17, 2014, 02:05 PM (21 replies)
This morning, John Yoo appeared on CNN to attempt to deny and justify torture. Yoo is, of course, the primary author of the “legal opinion” that allowed the Cheney-Bush administration to torture individuals they deemed “enemies.” I have found that either watching Yoo on television, or reading his writings, extremely troubling for years.He is an easily-identified enemy of that which I consider Good in our nation.
Yet today, there was a spark of hope -- the hope that this treacherous being will be held responsible for his crimes. Despite the current policy of the Obama administration, there is a possibility -- though small -- that the tide could be turning. It was almost enjoyable to see this smug, self-righteous shithead looking very uncomfortable.
As is well-documented, Yoo was one of Dick Cheney’s lap dogs, who -- when the military and intelligence community was given a green light to torture “suspects,” and they requested legal authority to do what they knew was highly illegal -- took pride in writing an opinion he believed would secure his place in history. For years, Yoo had attacked President Bill Clinton for claiming authority (according to Yoo) that went well beyond that provided for in the US Constitution. From the warmth and comfort of Cheney’s lap, however, Yoo would claim that the Bush administration did not need to be concerned with the Constitution, federal law, international law, or international treaties.
Many here will remember the 2005 debate, between Yoo and Notre Dame law professor Douglas Cassel. In the debate, the following exchange took place:
DC: “If the President deems that he has to torture someone, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?”
JY: “No treaty.”
DC: “Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo?”
JY: “I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.”
Yoo and fellow Cheney lap-dod David Addington would testify before Congress on the topic of torture in June, 2008. That meeting became ugly at times, as Yoo and Addington flaunted their knowledge that there was no plan to ever hold them responsible for their crimes. The Cheney-Bush era was a dark time in this land -- hell, on this planet -- and those here on this forum will remember the disappointment that the pair were assured, before the ‘08 election, that they were golden.
This morning, Yoo seemed a tad bit less cocky. When asked directly about some of the information documented in the Senate report, he claimed that this was a questionable source -- that the committee that investigated was dominated by Democrats, and that thus, any claims made were not “proven.” When confronted with the fact that the information was documented by CI records (and not simply democratic guesses), Yoo went from babbling about a lackof witness testimony to saying that “if any of those things happened,” it went beyond the law of the land.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
This afternoon/evening, I was at a high school girls basketball tournament. I sat with a couple, both doctors, as their daughter was engaged in the finals of the junior varsity contest -- they won! -- and we were discussing politics. The husband is my oldest brother’s age, and was active in the anti-war efforts of the 1960s and early ‘70s.
His younger sister was in the “Weather Underground.” Some of their social group went to prison for some of the crazy shit they did back then. Two of my uncles, who were legendary detectives, had busted them back in the day, and so she was always hostile to me, simply because of my last name. So I was surprised to learn that, when this guy moved back east after living in California for decades, she had spoken highly of me in terms of socio-political activism.
This fellow was not only outraged by the Senate’s releasing part of their investigation on torture, but also feeling that our nation has become so corrupt that it cannot be set on the right path. He expressed his frustration that, despite so many technologies (such as the internet), people are less organized today than they were 40 years ago. It would be accurate to say that he voiced the combined hopelessness and helplessness that defines so many Good People’s outlook today.
I, of course, disagreed with him. Respectfully. I understand and appreciate exactly why so many people think and feel what he thinks and feels.
And so it began: this gentleman began asking me questions, to see if I was familiar with a wide range of issues and theories that have influenced him. I think he was surprised that I am very familiar with literally every bit of the esoteric radical thought that influenced his generation. So much so, that he invited me and my daughter to his home after the games. He had a couple of friends coming over, and he said they would “find (me) fascinating.“ I explained that, while I’d love to continue the conversation, there were several boxing cards on television, and that I had guests coming over. (He laughed and said he hadn’t associated me with my family’s addiction to what he considers a brutal sport.)
His daughter, in the 9th grade, looks up to my daughter, a senior. She asked her parents if she could stay to watch my girl play? They said that, with company expected, they couldn’t; more, she wouldn’t have transportation. (She’s a “transfer” student from another town in another county.) So I said that she could get a ride with my daughter and I. Some day soon, we’d continue our conversation …..
The last topic we had discussed was the Nation of Islam, and specifically Minister Malcolm X. That got me thinking about one of the messages that remained consistent throughout Malcolm’s career -- which, although being short, covered a lot of territory associated with individual human evolution.
Someone’s been lying to you and I. In fact, a whole lotta people have been lying to us. Most of them are actually parroting a lie they believe, but it’s still a lie. And a few of them have been purposely lying to us.
That first group is afraid of the truth. They are scared of their best potential. Now that’s important for us to fully understand : most people are afraid of their best potential as human beings (which includes as “citizens”).
That very few also fear the truth. They hate the truth. And they fear that if you learn the truth -- if you and I learn the Truth -- it will bring forth our better potential. And maybe even our best potential as citizens.
As I view things in the context of “systems,” I’d say that our society is not unlike a large high school classroom. A shithead like Yoo, Cheney, and/or Bush are simply the kids we couldn’t stand, and wanted nothing to do with. They were convinced they were “superior,” simply because of their family’s economic status. They acted as if our lives were insignificant, and of no value. And they expected us to accept their view, and submit to their rule.
By no coincidence, these are that minority -- say, the 1% -- who continue to lie to you and I. They want us to believe that there is nothing that we can do alter the course they have determined for everyone else. The path that creates comfort for their ilk, and causes suffering for us. I’m guessing that you can remember the one-percenters from your high school. I surely remember those from my grade.
Two cousins, from the “family” that runs one of the biggest energy corporations in the northeast. I had spoken on DU last week about one’s “secret meeting” with Senator Clinton in Sidney. When I began speaking out against hydro racking a few years back, they had the audacity to try to hire me as their corporation’s “environmental consultant.”
No, that wasn’t going to happen. I will not submit to the John Yoo-types. I will not be bought by anyone. And I will not be silenced. In fact, I’m going to continue to speak out, and encourage others to re-evaluate the current system. I agree 100% with the doctor I sat near: things are actually far worse today, than they were in 1968. Our nation is being severely damaged, and I’m not talking about foreign enemies. No, it’s those kids we couldn’t stand in high school.
Let’s get back to organizing our classmates. Let’s get working on having the shitheads facing some consequences for their vile behavior. Let’s regain our Power.
Thank you for reading this.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon Dec 15, 2014, 01:12 PM (82 replies)
John Brennan’s press conference was extremely offensive. Rather than at least pretending that he felt bad about instituting torture, he instead allowed his self-righteousness to come through in an aggressive manner. This is a man who knows no shame, and who should definitely be incarcerated.
Watching Brennan’s performance, I was reminded of when, as part of my last job, I was part of our mental health clinic’s forensic team, and did pre-sentencing evaluations for the county court. This included making recommendations, based not only for the offense(s) in question, but also on the person’s ability to take responsibility for their actions.
Brennan refused to identify what was done in an accurate way -- torture -- and instead attempted to sanitize it by using “EIT” repeatedly. Rather than take responsibility for his role in this disgusting chapter in American history, he sought to divert the public’s focus by blaming others; more offensively, he attempted to identify himself with the honorable men and women who have sacrificed life and limb to protect our nation.
There is not, as far as I know, any organic defect that prevents Brennan from understanding the distinction between “right” and “wrong.” He displays no outward signs of an abnormality that prevented him from grasping the impact of torture upon another human being. Rather, it is obvious that he knew exactly what this program of torture was all about. In fact, he appeared to resent the fact that he could not claim that torturing people produced valuable intelligence.
It was apparent that John Brennan is convinced that the democrats in the Senate have betrayed him. He is convinced that the legally and ethically flawed “green light” that some in the Bush administration provided for torture excuses him from all responsibility. Even the tone of his voice suggested that he views himself as the true victim of the torture program.
A rational person might ask how a specimen such as John Brennan reached so high a position of power in our system of government? While no one could argue that he lacks in intelligence, his utter lack of a conscience should have disqualified him from consideration of such a position in any healthy society. Indeed, only in a malignant system could John Brennan be viewed as an asset.
I will call and write to the White House, and express my belief that President Obama should fir Brennan today.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Dec 11, 2014, 03:49 PM (38 replies)
“For those who want America to one day be the great nation it once was, it can hardly do this if it doesn’t take the first step of bringing those responsible for the war in Iraq to justice.”
-- Vincent Bugliosi; The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder; Vanguard Press; 2008; page 13.
Between logging on to DU:GD numerous times throughout the night, I re-read Bugliosi’s book on prosecuting Bush et al for murder. The outrage I saw here regarding torture was mirrored in that powerful book. The same passion for justice is found in each. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that Bugliosi frequently uses even stronger language than the average D.U.er to describe his utter contempt for George W. Bush.
This morning, after again reading through DU:GD, and the numerous OP/threads regarding the Cheney-Bush administration and torture, I was struck by the number of posts that took a defeated position -- “yes, the torture policy and its execution were criminal, but there will be no legal consequences.” I understand that thinking -- yes, I do -- and cannot argue that it is irrational or not logical. Yet, I believe that we must fight to hold Bush, Cheney, etc accountable, not because we may or may not win, but because they are war criminals who are responsible for committing horrible crimes against humanity.
Vincent Bugliosi, like every good prosecutor, knows that it is not possible to arrest, try, and convict certain criminals for the “top” crime (or crimes) they have committed. We saw this with Scooter Libby. But it is possible to bring charges relating to that “top” crime, and get a conviction. So let’s put on our DU prosecutorial hats for a few minutes, and ponder our options.
We know that President Obama and his administration are not going to pursue any criminal charges against Cheney and Bush. Although the Senate report proves beyond a reasonable doubt they committed war crimes, and Bugliosi’s book proves beyond any doubt that they committed murder, the administration doesn’t want to risk having the republicans in DC obstructing President Obama in his final two years. We certainly don’t want that, now, do we?
However, as Bugliosi documents in his book, any District Attorney in the United States can file charges of murder against Bush et al. As long as some man or woman from the DA’s region was killed in Iraq, they can file those charges. And one of the damned shames about that war is that this country has forgotten those who died in Iraq -- including our soldiers, and thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
It would seem less likely that, DU on its own, has the juice to convince a DA (even one with a strong conscience) to pursue this. Yet we do have options. Earlier in the year, for example, Bill Maher attempted to use his HBO show “Real Time” to “flip” a congressional district. While this effort was not successful in terms of flipping the district, it was an important exercise of political muscle. It would be foolish to abandon that option, simply because it was 100% successful. Indeed, the only thing that is 100% for sure is that if we don’t try, we definitely won’t accomplish anything. And that is exactly what the real enemies of democracy are hoping for, and counting on: that we will not even try.
Now, I’m not saying that Bill Maher is the perfect vehicle for trying to find a DA with conscience. Nor am I suggesting that he is not. Rather, I’m using his recent effort as a model that we could use. If the DU community were to put our minds together, and engage in a letter-writing campaign to someone like Maher, we might get a response. Maybe he’d have Mr. Bugliosi on as a guest to discuss the Senate report, and the possible prosecution of Cheney and Bush, etc.
The most important question at this time is: What do you think?
I’m just one person, and I think it’s definitely worth making an attempt. Being an American citizen should mean something. We have rights and responsibilities. And I think we are responsible for saying that these crimes were not committed in our names, and that we aren’t okay with overlooking them. That the criminals must be held responsible, and have consequences for crimes such as torture and murder.
I also know that when the DU community lobbies individuals in the legal system, it gets noticed.
Thank you for your consideration.
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 12:32 PM (17 replies)
The following is from an interview that I did with Chief Paul Waterman, of the Onondaga Nation, shortly after 9/11:
Q: President Bush has referred to the “evil doers.” What do you think about this?
CPW: Well, he’s the same way. Those people in Afghanistan are poor and miserable. They suffer when bombs kill their parents, and they hurt when bullets kill their children. So, even if Bush believes what he is doing is right, he has to commit evil acts to achieve his goal.
But he can’t stop. The other guy won’t. And when they kill bin Laden, someone else will take his place.
Like everyone on this forum, I was horrified by the information released in the US Senate’s investigation of torture. While I doubt that any of us were surprised that the torture was worse than what was previously known, I am stunned by attempts to justify what happened.
I find the attempts to justify torture, the claims that it was a “patriotic” response to terrorism, even more offensive than the attempts to keep the public from learning the truth about the policies of the Cheney-Bush administration. Attempts to keep this information secret are cowardly, unpatriotic, and shameful. Yet, in a real sense, they are admissions that the torture was evil.
It’s no coincidence that the two individuals who are most intent upon not merely justifying the torture, but defining it as patriotic, are none other than Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Their smug self-righteousness is no different than that of the most sinister, psychopathic mass murderers, in attempting to justify their acts by blaming others.
This nation had problems before Cheney and Bush were selected by the US Supreme Court in 2000. In his autobiography, Malcolm X quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who noted that the United States was created from, and built upon, the violent abuse of Indians and Africans. Of course, other minority groups have had trials and ill treatment. But those two examples are important in helping us understand not only what went wrong in the distant past, but can be applied to help Americans to understand many of the problems that we continue to face today.
It’s not a coincidence, for example, that a nation that invests in torture of enemies abroad, would also begin to rapidly militarize its domestic police forces. I remember when I was a teenager, hearing basketball legend Bill Russell say, “Use care in selecting those who you hate, for they are the very people you risk coming most closely to resemble.” Listening to former president talk about torture, I could almost believe that he really thought it was right.
“Almost believe,” though, because of something that my other mentor told me.I’ve been fortunate to have both Chief Waterman and Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter for teachers. And Rube had, in his capacity as an opponent of capital punishment, met with then-governor George W. Bush, of Texas. He told me that he found Bush to be a repulsive human being, who delighted in having the “power” to send people to the electric chair. Rubin described Bush as becoming “giddy” when discussing the horrors of the chair. He asked me, “Do you know what that ‘W’ in his name really stands for? It’s for ‘death.’ His name is George Death Bush.”
(Another family friend, who was central in attempts to improve services for troubled youth in NYS, had been hired to assist Texas in a similar way. Her programs were very effective, in both costs and outcome. She enjoyed working with the governor of Texas, until Bush took office. She also describes him as a cruel, hateful human being.)
In order to change behavior -- be it an individual teenager or a country -- there is obviously a need for information. The public has to be informed. Thus, even though we have only been given access to a review of the Senate investigation of torture, it’s a significant start. But it is only a start. Again, to change behavior, there have to be consequences. This includes rewarding good behavior, and punishing bad behavior.
More, in order for the general public to maintain faith in the system, it is essential that the top dogs do not get a free pass, and avoid all responsibility for their misdeeds. And it is rather clear that the top dogs in the Cheney-Bush administration have been given that free pass thus far. Their list of misdeeds includes torture, the war in Iraq, the Plame scandal, and many others. In this case, the failure to prosecute is consent.
In his 2008 book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,” Vincent Bugliosi presented a strong case for prosecuting Bush et al. That book still holds up extremely well. When we add the war crimes of torture, it is evident that the top tier of that administration has to have legal consequences for their crimes. Anything less makes a mockery of our justice system.
Posted by H2O Man | Tue Dec 9, 2014, 04:46 PM (35 replies)