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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 53,047

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Down at the Spring

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time.”
-- James Baldwin; The Fire Next Time; Dell; 1962; page 141.

Like many community members, I had read DU before eventually joining on December 29, 2003. A number of associates from the group I worked with at that time had recommended this internet discussion site to me. But what actually convinced me to join was a powerful essay that Will Pitt posted earlier on that day.

At that time, the forum was a smaller, tighter community, comprised of liberal and progressive Democrats, along with a number of “leftists.” In large part, DU was created in response to the frustration that grass roots activists felt after George W. Bush was selected -- by the US Supreme Court -- to occupy the White House, despite the fact that Al Gore had clearly won the 2000 election. The focus of many discussions was on the undemocratic and unconstitutional manner in which Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, were ruling in.

Now, I say that, without intending to define the intentions of the creators of the Democratic Underground. Over the years that I’ve participated here, I’ve read a number of opinions, from a wide range of members, regarding the intentions of the gentlemen who started DU. I could speculate on this topic, but see little benefit in that. I’m more concerned with the discussions -- including, of course, the tone of many of the debates.

On a couple of occasions, when “old-timers” have stated their belief that “DU ain’t what it used to be,” an administrator responded by saying that it actually is pretty much the same as its always been. And, in some ways, that is correct.

But it is inaccurate in other ways. This isn’t to imply that the administrator was lying, or trying to deceive people. It is simply in recognition that no system remains static or stagnant. Only that which is completely non-organic could remain the same system, unaffected by outside influences. But systems of human beings always change.

Change is constant. Internally, the system grows or shrinks; even if it stagnates, it will have internal decay that causes it to lose its potency. Externally, changes in the outer world will have an impact upon it. Even traditional systems -- for example, the Amish, or Native American people -- must either react or respond to the changing dynamics in the outside world.

With DU, there have been two significant changes: one external, one internal. The external includes the changes in the presidency. George W. Bush is no longer president, though the damage he accomplished remains a reality. Advances have been made in health care and marriage equality. Yet, war remains a constant, and income distribution continues to separate the 1% from humanity.

The internal changes include a larger forum membership, which often involves people who have very different interests and goals than the original community of the early years. When I say “different interests and goals,” that isn’t intended as a value judgment. But without question, what was once a primarily liberal-progressive community of Democrats and others to the political left, has slowly but steadily absorbed new members, including a significant number who tend to be to the right -- to various degrees -- of the early community.

When we think of a system as being like a mobile hanging over an infant’s crib, we can see how adding new pieces on one side shifts the system, slowly but surely. When we also include the removal of other pieces, the shift continues. Let’s briefly consider a few types of pieces/ members who have been removed from the community.

An insignificant group of DU rejects are known as “trolls” or “freepers.” Their only goal is to come to DU to splatter the excrement of their being, before being tomb-stoned. A sub-group of this ilk attempts to disguise themselves as “liberals” -- or even pseudo-revolutionaries -- and to create dissention and divide the community. There have always been a few of them here, seeking to spread their infectious pus. They, too, are of minor consequence.

Another group of former DU members are those who have died. Their influence is still felt by those of us who were honored to know them. Yet the loss of their on-going contributions to our discussions diminishes the forum.

A third group are sincere individuals, who simply lose interest in DU, usually because of the toxicity of the debates and arguments -- particularly those that involve presidential primaries, and a few divisive topics.

The group that I am focusing upon here today includes some of the most steady, reliable, and insightful members -- often “old-timers” -- who have made this forum worthwhile. These are the women and men who -- subtly or openly -- make us view things differently, and to think in new ways. If we were in the “public square,” we would anticipate that the opposition would focus their wrath upon these individuals. They would openly insult them, and attempt to undermine their influence, by pointing out that they made a mistake in the distant past. Or try to belittle them, by identifying them as being in a tiny minority, or the old, worn-out insult that they are conspiracy theorists.

We’d expect such attempts in a public forum, such as a city board meeting, much like we expect it when we watch a debate on television. In such a format, the rules of engagement allow for direct, firm responses. Sadly, we’ve come to expect it on DU, as well. And I’m not talking about the healthy, respectful debates we have between forum members who are on the left versus those on the right of the Democratic Party. Rather, it involves when, in what could be a meaningful discussion of important issues, one group attempts to mis-use the forum rules to sidetrack such discussion or debate. When they attempt clever personal attacks, pretending that they respect the other person. When they attempt to control what opinions can be expressed, and indeed how they can be communicated.

Many of us have, at various times, reached the point where we take a step back, and take a break from DU for a few weeks or more. And that’s fine. But there have also been many instances of where good people -- those who elevate DU -- get so tired of being the target of petty personal attacks, that they simply quit. And we’ve witnessed some examples of this in the past few days.

I hesitate to mention them by name, only because I know these two men well enough that I am sure they will think it unnecessary. But I’ll do it anyhow …..for two reasons: first, because I have the utmost respect for each one of them; and second, because this community is definitely diminished by losing their contributions. “Will Pitt” and “kentuck” have decided to stop posting on this forum. They were not driven out in shame, or tomb-stoned for outrageous behavior. Instead, they are simply opting to move on.

It would be an error for their opponents to believe they have silenced these gentlemen. In whatever format they use the energies they have long invested here, they will continue to influence the way that others around them think. Likewise, it would be an error for anyone to believe that, well, that’s just the way it goes ….that while some folks leave, other new members replace them. No, it is a change in this system, and the removal of these two pieces on the DU mobile results in a shift that isn’t corrected by adding a couple of new pieces.

What doesn’t change is what many of us recognize as an on-going, coordinated dogging of a group of forum members who are sincere in attempting to communicate their opinions, insights, and values. My “short list” includes members such as nadinbrzezinski, Sabrina 1, trumad, and Octafish. I could easily list a dozen others.

If we were in that public square -- a city board meeting, for example -- there would obviously be a segment who would try very hard to silence this group of people. It shouldn’t be the case on the Democratic Underground. That it is -- and without question, it surely is -- is something that should be of concern to the greater community. I have been impressed by a few threads that include thoughtful responses to the glee that some folks have expressed about Will’s leaving (as if they somehow defeated Will in a contest that exists only between their ears). That provides solid evidence that the Goodness I associate with the DU community still exists.

Thank you to anyone who has read this long an essay. And keep on fighting the Good Fight.

H2O Man

Verbal Marathon

“Words are flowing out
Like endless rain
Into a paper cup….”
-- John Lennon

When I was a youngster, due to a variety of reasons -- all connected to being poor -- I was not able to speak clearly. Hence, for many years, I preferred not to talk. I liked reading and writing far more. My best friend and I would spend hours, either at his family’s pond, or mine, without hardly a word being spoken.

I was successful in the ring. And the sport of boxing led to my becoming friends, as a young teenager, with Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. (He, too, had suffered from a speech impediment as a child; we both had experienced being made fun of as children, which resulted in both of our love of fighting.) At the time, Rubin was incarcerated, having been sentenced to “triple life” for a vicious crime. I had learned enough about his case to believe he was innocent, and to reach out to him, well before it became fashionable in the mid-1970s.

As a teen, I was mighty impressed with Rubin’s uncanny ability to cuss. Looking back years later, I noticed that before this -- while he was a prize fighter -- Rubin delighted in having become an eloquent speaker. It didn’t fit the image the media had created for this destructive fighting machine. Yet, outside the ring, Carter was very capable of discussing philosophy, astronomy, and a number of topics that he had become self-educated in.

But, of course, the New Jersey prison system was a terrible environment, and Rubin was angry at his circumstances. And he began to swear like, well, an angry black inmate in a New Jersey prison (which is not to suggest that the non-black inmate population didn’t curse). Now, by the mid-70s, a segment of the population -- mainly white, wealthy liberals -- had come to respect black inmates/ former inmates who cussed and snarled a lot. Men like Eldridge Cleaver and George Jackson were also good writers, of course, but even swore and snarled in their most popular writings. (By no coincidence, similar characteristics created more support among angry, younger Indian men, than the more peaceful Elders, among the wealthy liberals.)

When Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan took up Carter’s cause, a lot of other people would join. This, of course, included the media. “Are you an angry black trouble-maker,” one television reporter asked Rubin? “Yes, I’m an angry black trouble-maker,” he replied. Lines like this made Rubin a popular vehicle.

One can attribute a number of motivations to those who suddenly began supporting Rubin’s fight for a re-trial. Many were definitely sincere individuals, seeking justice. Others may have been motivated by what was known as “white guilt” -- the Civil Rights movement of the 1`950s and ‘60s had made progress in some areas, but racism still poisoned American culture, and there were people, believing they had failed in their efforts, who were waiting for the next messiah.

While Rubin had already become a highly respected individual among the country’s non-white inmate population, his case had held little appeal before 1973 for the black middle- and upper economic classes. The only person of stature that had supported him before Ali and Dylan was Coretta Scott King. Rubin told me that many of the other Civil Rights leaders had believed he was a “crazy n____r,” guilty of a heinous crime.

Ali was, at this time, at his peak as a spokesperson for justice, widely respected by most Americans (and all of the world). While the song “The Hurricane” -- which Bob Dylan did not write -- was powerful and popular, I can say for absolute certainty that The Champ’s assistance, which took many forms, was the essential element.

Soon a group of celebrities created a committee to support Carter. Within literally a couple of months, it was fractured into several groups, with the most tension being between black and white members. Both of these groups made detailed plans to have Rubin run for Congresss, overlooking the fact that he was still incarcerated in New Jersey. And that the NJ political machine -- now having elevated a number of those involved in Carter’s prosecution to high positions -- wasn’t about to let him go.

One of the “lost chapters” from this era involved both the black and white supporters enjoying spending Ali’s money -- intended to benefit Carter’s legal defense -- with lavish parties. At one such party, held the night before Dylan’s Madison Square Garden benefit concert, ended up with John Conyers verbally attacking Carter’s white supporters, and having a mixed drink tossed into his face. (In my opinion, Conyers’ concerns did have merit: Dylan, for example, made big bucks off of Rubin’s case. His support was important, but came at a price. A lot of people were looking to capitalize on Rubin.)

The “they” in this case -- the NJ machine -- would find it amazingly easy to fracture Carter’s support team during the ‘74-76 period that he was much in the news. They pit a Nation of Islam female versus a white, Wall Street executive. And on and on. Those higher up than NJ, etc, were concerned that off-shoots from the defense committee, especially college students, might attempt to “resolve” Rubin’s case by illegal, perhaps violent means. (I could tell some stories!)

Fast-forward to the late 1970s: Rubin is still in prison. His support committee has disbanded. Muhammad Ali and Ms. King are still involved in the case. But people like Dylan have dropped Rubin completely. This would be the period when, if one is familiar with the movie “The Hurricane,” that Rubin underwent his transformation. The very few of us who remained in contact with Rube refer to this as his Buddha phase.

As his state of mind changed, so did his word choices in both speech and writing. No longer did he rely upon that wide range of curse words and other language that tended to catch people’s attention. For when his being transformed, his communication skills were, well, elevated.

I think about these things, when I read the DU wars about certain words, or about the often simmering conflicts between those who tend to view humanity in black and white terms. And that, of course, includes -- but is not exclusive to -- things like “race,“ which exists only in people’s minds, and male vs. female, which exists as one of the Natural World’s most powerful realities.

Black Lives Matter. We need to embrace that, no matter what color our skin is. If some of us struggle with that, and ask, “Do not ALL lives matter?” ….well, take the time necessary to study the history of the Civil Rights movement …..especially in the north, where two of the foundation stones were police brutality, and inferior educational opportunities. Black Lives Matter. That was a huge part of the program -- though expressed with different words in 1965 than in 2015.

Certainly, people other than black young men are targeted for extreme violence by a large segment of police in this country. Yet, it is important to recognize the importance of Black Lives Matter. For there is near zero chance of our protecting the rights and safety of all, until we focus on the most vulnerable. Tactically, it can provide benefits that diffused focus cannot. Does that make sense?

Rubin’s case was extremely difficult to “win.” While he was far from the only wrongly-convicted inmate in the US prison system -- black, brown, red, yellow, or white -- his case presented some unique qualities. Indeed, Rubin was a unique man. Yet, by focusing on his case, those of us who understood it as something “bigger” than that unique man’s torture, were then able to move forward once he won his freedom. We have been able to free many, many other wrongly convicted human beings.

When I used to call Rubin about a case in the US (often in the northeast), he never asked what color their skin was. Or their religion, ethnicity, or sexual identity. Nor did he question their diction. His only question was: did I believe the person was innocent? He respected my insight in terms of recognizing injustice.

Writing things like this always leaves me wondering if I’ve communicated my point, or points? I’ll sum up with this: the struggle for social justice is a long and constant process. We do better when we recognize our common ground, and invest our energies there. Consider the potential benefits of people on DU:GD working towards common goals -- Higher Ground -- rather than emphasizing divisions, and seeking to win debaters’ points. Just a suggestion.

H2O Man

Boxing : July 25

July 25:

NBC Sports: (9 pm/est) : Beibut Shumenow vs. B.J. Flores, 12 rounds, for vacant WBA intern cruiserweight title.

HBO: (10 pm/est) : Sergey Kovalev vs. Nadjib Mohammedi, 12 rounds, for Kovalev’s light heavyweight title.

There are two boxing cards on tonight, starting at 9 pm/est. Both cards are worth watching. The NBC bouts should be entertaining, though not of importance in terms of “big fights.” Although the fighters are currently second-tier, the bouts look to be competitive on paper. And that is really what the network fights are intended to be.

The HBO card is a must-see. Sergey Kovalev is one of the most impressive of the big punchers in the sport today. In defeating Bernard Hopkins to unify the titles, Kovelav demonstrated that he is more than a knockout artist. The boxing community had questioned if he would, like other young guns with impressive early knockouts, be able to handle going into the late rounds against an experienced, crafty opponent. He did not disappoint.

His opponent is a bit of an “unknown” to me. While I’ve read about him for some time, I haven’t seen any of his fights. He is on a 13-fight win streak, since his last loss in 2011. Most of his bouts were in France, although he has traveled (Russia, Great Britain, and the USA). While he has been willing to fight anyone in the division, and has competed against good fighters, this is certainly a big step up for him. He has been TKOed in two of his three loses, in 1 and 2 rounds. Hence, there is a real danger for him in the early rounds.

Enjoy the fights!

H2O Man Survey #39

"What you think, you become." -- Gandhi

If you lived in a neighborhood, where in one house there were frequent shootings -- including some fatalities -- you would likely recognize that household has serious, deep-rooted problems.

If you lived in a community where, in one block, there were frequent shootings and murders, you’d likely recognize that neighborhood had some serious, deeply-rooted problems.

If you lived in a state where there was a city that had an extremely high number of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that city had serious, entrenched problems.

If you lived in a nation where one state in particular had an extremely high rate of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that state had those serious and deeply-rooted problems.

However, you live on a planet, where on one continent, there is one country that has extremely high levels of gun violence.

I’m not writing this to discuss “gun control.” I trust people’s common sense to figure that one out.

I am writing to suggest that the United States has rates of violence -- from murder to child abuse, from rape to road rage -- to convince any rational and objective person to understand that large segments of the population present very real dangers to the safety and well-being of every day citizens.

It’s not a case of being somewhere else. It’s not just in some other state, city, or neighborhood. Obviously, 24/7 news on television, plus social media, create heightened awareness of individual cases of extreme violence. And the federal government’s statistics suggest that the rates of some specific violent crimes is decreasing ….at least percentage-wise. Still, it would be rather difficult to believe that our culture isn’t at a saturation point in terms of violence.

My questions are: What do you think the primary causes of gross violence is? Is it a genetic issue? A cultural problem? A combination? And, what steps can people take (again, other than ”gun control”) can people take? Government? Individuals?

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this OP, and respond to it.

H2O Man

NYS Senator Libous Convicted!

NYS Senator Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) was convicted today in federal court, for repeatedly lying to the FBI. At the time, the FBI was investigating Libous -- the second most powerful republican in the state -- for political corruption; he had used his office to secure a cushy job for his son, complete with an expensive new vehicle and a hefty, unearned raise. The younger Libous was recently convicted -- like father, like son -- and has been sentenced to serve time behind bars.

See more at:

Ole-time D.U.ers may recall that Libous, a lap dog for energy corporations (who has received generous pay-offs, er, donations from the Koch brothers), refused to speak with representatives of the pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking organizations from his district. As a result, DU member H2O Man went on a hunger strike to pressure Libous to simply converse with the environmental community.

DU member Will Pitt wrote an outstanding article for TruthOut on H2O Man’s efforts. This resulted in more wide-spread publicity.


After eight days, H2O Man spoke to an audience of over 1,000 environmental activists at the NYS Capital Building. In his speech, he mentioned that area high school students were preparing to write to Libous’s office, to area newspapers, and begin holding rallies in front of two of the state senator’s office. When an aide reported this to Libous, he ventured out of his office, to meet with H2O Man and supporters.

Scott Walker vs Jeb Bush

Asked about Bush's remarks on Saturday, Walker argued -- without mentioning Iran directly -- that a president ought to be ready to take action from the moment they step foot into the Oval Office.
"He may have his opinion. I believe that a president shouldn't wait to act until they put a cabinet together or an extended period of time, I believe they should be prepared to act on the very first day they take office," he said. "It's very possible, God forbid that this would happen, but very possible, that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military actions, on their very first day in office."
-- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-walker-iran-deal_55acfd69e4b0d2ded39f57c2

In an attempt to secure the #1 position as Alpha-Puppy ( aka “Rough, Tough, Cream Puff”) in the republican presidential primary, Scott Walker has promised to “terminate” the agreement between -- among others -- the United States and Iran, regarding the Iranian nuclear policy. Walker made this solemn vow on Saturday, at the Family Leadership Summit, in Iowa.

Jeb Bush, in an attempt to appear marginally more intelligent than Walker (and his infamous brother, W.), called Walker’s vow an unrealistic promise. Jeb noted that a new president would need to take two steps before voiding the agreement: create his cabinet; and consult with the US’s allies.

It takes a special person to make Jeb look even mildly intelligent. Walker did just that, when he uttered the words quoted above.

However, defining one’s self as an idiot is not grounds for disqualification within a republican primary. So long as the candidate express almost any combination of military aggression and nativism, they will gain republican grass roots’ and machine support. (Note: Rick Perry, while demonstrably stupid, did not displayed the required amount of nativism/ ethnic prejudice in the 2012 primary season. Jeb himself is viewed with suspicion by many republicans in this very area.)

Will Scott Walker’s blubbering nonsense be rewarded by AIPAC financial support? A source told me today that this is exactly what his goal has been in attempting to convince his target audience that he will be the most aggressively hostile-to-Iran of the potential presidents in the republican primaries.

Will the republican party attempt to derail the most important success of the Obama administration, by way of Congressional votes? The infamous letter from the republican dip-shits carries more than a hint of their intent.

I’d like to see every Democrat -- and not merely those in the primaries, but all of those in both houses of Congress -- come out immediately, and more than simply expressing support for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry on this, but explain in as blunt of terms as paleoconservative Patrick Buchana did last week, on how utterly fucking stupid the republican opposition to the agreement actually is.

I can hope, can’t I?

-- H2O Man

The Rudderless Voyage

“The question remains the same. It is a crisis of sanity first of all. The problems of nations are the problems of mentally deranged people, but magnified a thousand times because they have the full, straight-faced approbation of a schizoid society, schizoid national structures, schizoid military and business complexes, and, need one add, schizoid religious sects. ‘We are at war with ourselves,’ said Coomaraswamy, ‘and therefore and therefore at war with one another’.”
-- Thomas Merton; Gandhi on Non-Violence; New Directions; 1964; page 3.

One of the distinct advantages of chronic pain is that it allows one to spend hours reading, rather than sleeping. This includes everything from books to articles and discussions on the internet. This seems a more valuable investment of one’s time, I believe, than watching television. Hence, last night, after the last of my friends on “face book” had nestled in for a long summer’s nap, I read more OP/threads on DU than I normally do.

The last friend that I was conversing with is a former co-worker, who now lives and works in Ithaca. She started our conversation by expressing her concerns about how a growing segment of the US population is using “religion” as the vehicle to justify hatred of those who are different from themselves. The violent undercurrents -- along with the violent outbursts that we witness every day in the news -- upsets her. And justifiably so.

Throughout much of the (relatively) recent history of humanity, empires have risen and fallen. I suspect that the bitter divisions between groups and individuals -- included the US’s foreign relations, nationally, and in each of our home towns -- is merely a symptom of the decay of our empire. Thus, the Donald Trumps are panicked by barbarians at the gate, unaware that they are but barbarians dressed in three-piece suits, inside the closed gates of their minds.

Such closed minds always seek to identify themselves as distinct from others. They are invested in the status they imagine makes them special. Americans are divided into economic classes; they are black, brown, red, yellow, or white; male or female; Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist; democrat or republican; northerners or southerners; and on and on and on.

In theory, everyone on DU, for example, speaks English; yet our ability to communicate has been fractured by our differences, and splintered by the hostilities that exist, even among what -- again, in theory -- is supposed to be a liberal/ progressive community. Yet the discussions -- or, more accurately, arguments -- about who can use what words, or what groups have the authority (or lack there of) to discuss what topic, is surely the same confusion described in the ancient fable about the features common to the fall of empire, known as the Tower of Babel.

Merton described a rudderless ship on an un-chartered journey. We have thousands of oarsmen, each rowing in their own direction, each advocating for the selection in 2016 of the captain who points in their direction.

I think that I’ll spend today out at my pond. I’ll bring Merton’s book on Gandhi, for some light reading. And I’ll feed the fish and birds, and watch my dog play. In the past week, I’ve seen some interesting wild life while out there: a grey fox venturing down on of the mowed paths, and a bald eagle flying above the near-by stream. No matter how many times I see bald eagles, I’m always amazed by them.

Enjoy this day!
-- H2O Man

Thank you, President Obama

Those times when I have strongly disagreed with President Obama, I have not hesitated to call, write, or e-mail the White House to voice my opinion. I not only voted for him twice, but I had campaigned for him, including donating time and money. As a citizen, and as a supporter, I believe it was my duty to disagree with him.

That has included voicing disagreement with President Obama here on DU:GD. I’m well aware that doing so would in no manner be of any concern to him or the administration. Contacting the White House is the correct way to have one’s voice heard by the White House; talking about these things here is merely taking part on a discussion site on the internet. Yet it can be both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The manner in which President Obama has handled issues about nuclear programs with Iran is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important feat of his presidency. I am among those who has been concerned with the neoconservative effort to have the US engage in military hostilities with Iran. This issue has a long history, which has included efforts by neocons to increase tensions since the Bush-Cheney administration was in office.

Their hatred of Iran goes further back, of course. The history of US- Iranian relations includes the shameful chapter of our imposing the shah upon the Iranian people. But the more recent chapter that absolutely enraged the neocons was the events involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. It’s not simple because Reagan got caught trading huge amounts of weapons to our “enemy” illegally; rather, it was because the Iranians owned their US counterparts in the negotiations.

Iran-Contra was the biggest scandal in the history of the US government. Very few in Congress were willing to fully investigate it, for a number of reasons. Top among them was that President Reagan should have been impeached. The same holds true for his vice president. And in failing to fully investigate, Congress not only kept the fact that the Iranian leaders played the US, but they insured that it would continue in the future.

Ahmad Chalabi -- the friend of the neocons in the Bush-Cheney administration -- was an Iranian intelligence agent. He played the Cheney White House. This is not to suggest that the White House was not intent upon invading Iraq from the giddy-up. But Chalabi was able to orchestrate events as the unfolded.

President Obama and his team were thus facing an extremely capable opponent in negotiations with Iran. In approaching the situation, he was able to coordinate efforts with other nations -- some of whom were rightfully suspicious of the US, based upon past history. President Obama also faced the stiff opposition of the neoconservatives in the US, and the leadership of one country in the Middle East. And this at a time when violence is spreading unchecked throughout the region.

Is the agreement they reached “perfect”? Certainly not from the standpoint of those eager to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” But for the sane people of the global community -- which includes a large, educated middle class in Iran (something the US once had) -- it is a huge step in the right direction.

Thank you, President Obama.

On Scott Walker

I thought it might be interesting to hear various forum members’ opinions on the newest republican candidate for president, Scott Walker. I have assumed that, as uniquely unqualified as he is on anything that might remotely be associated with foreign policy, his goal in competing in the republican primaries would be to secure a position at the bottom of their ticket. And, should Jeb Bush secure his party’s nomination, Walker would have to be considered as a potential vice presidential candidate.

Yesterday, however, I had a long discussion with my west coast brother. He considers Walker to be among the most likely winners of the republican contest, and believes that Walker would be the most difficult republican to beat in the general election. While I haven’t thought of Walker in this context, I do agree 100% with my brother that Scott Walker should never -- under any circumstances -- serve as our nation’s president.

Briefly, to the best of my ability, let me review some of the reasons my brother thinks the republican party will go with Walker. First, he doesn’t have the baggage of scandals that Chris Christie has; the aggressive yap of Trump; or the natural stupidity of Jeb. (He reminded me that I had previously said Jeb is more intelligent than George W., but noted that he hasn’t shown that yet. I reminded him that this is, by any measure, a low bar to begin with.)

My brother also pointed out Walker’s economic policies and beliefs. He’s anti-union, especially anti-teachers union, and is acceptable to the heads of large corporations. This includes his having the support of people such as the Koch brothers, who seek to buy politicians to place in offices that can be helpful to their industries.

Also, my brother believes that Walker’s appearance will help him. Among the first things people see when looking at him is that Scott Walker is a white man. Certainly, the republican party has become so diverse in recent years, that they are comfortable selecting potential leaders from that rare group in American politics: the conservative, white males. So we really shouldn’t be surprised if the republicans go with a white man in 2016.

His presentation tends to feign rational thinking, and has less free emotional range, than most of the other republicans. Think about it: when confronted with the damage his policies have done to the working people of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has shown no emotional at all. He comes off as entirely sincere in not caring, even a tiny bit, about the struggles and hardships of others. This is a huge selling point among republicans.

More, while I believe that people shouldn’t be judged upon their appearance, the truth is that in national politics, they often are. Now, Willard “Mitt” Romney was okay in simple photographs -- his picture could be used on the inside, back cover of a book as the author -- when viewed on film, he makes people uncomfortable. Likewise, think about the difference between a still photo of Rick Perry versus the curious film clip of him with a bottle of syrup.

What do you think of him?

Thursday Night at the Fights

“Sir, I’m not commenting on what you did. It’s immaterial to me. No, your line of reasoning, sir, doesn’t fit me.”
-- Malcolm X; WINS radio debate; February 18, 1965.

Since my youngest graduated in June, I’ve been slowly re-entering the local social-political arena. A speech here, another there, and a local government board meeting. Because I like to think of these in a context similar to my competing in the sport of boxing as a young man., like an old fighter returning to the ring, I’ll engage in relatively easy events, to prepare for future competition.

On Thursday past, at an open meeting, a woman took the opportunity to verbally attack me, saying that I am “unethical.” She was representing a group that have named themselves the “land-owners” and the “tea party.” They dislike me, because in their minds, I am largely responsible for organizing the environmental community in opposition to hydrofracking.

She also called another woman there “unethical,” among other things, for simply expressing support for my positions. This led to the attacked lady getting upset by the viciousness of the verbal assault that she began to cry. I assume the rabid lady mistook this for weakness, as she continued to harass the other woman in the parking lot, after the meeting had ended. The lady who supported me told the other that she was the lowest form of human life she had ever encountered.

I have no problem in saying that I like the woman who supported me, better than the other one. But it would be wrong if I only listened to people who like me, and support my beliefs, while ignoring critics. I have no difficulty in hearing out those who disagree with me. I’m not afraid to debate important issues. Still, I think the one person went a bit too far. No one else appeared to want to be associated with her, once she started talking.

I know that social-political activism isn’t a pillow fight. I try to understand people’s motivation. In this case, there is a group who -- upon the advice of the head of a regional energy corporation -- invested their life-savings in land ….land they bought, believing that they’d soon be wealthy, as a result of drilling for gas. They dreamed of being the next Jed Clampett, but it didn’t work out as they had hoped. Yet, while I do not feel responsible, I’m not taking any pleasure in their current difficulties.

However, they are running a tea party candidate against a local District Attorney, for that county office. I am assisting the DA’s campaign for re-election. And the tea party associates me with several recent political contests, in which I assisted Democrats in defeating the tea party candidates. So I’m likely to encounter them again, between now and November.

While I’m proud of my role in local, regional, and even state politics, I am the first to recognize that I haven’t accomplished what is being attributed to me. At best, I’ve been an active part of a larger effort. But, for a variety of reasons, I’ve come to symbolize something larger than myself in these people’s minds. In that sense, I realize that they don’t really “hate” me -- for they don’t know me; they hate the projected image they have created of me, which exists only inside their minds.

What is at times difficult for me -- and those “times” can include in public situations, while I’m being attacked -- is trying to find the balance required to respond correctly. Again, I am okay with going after their “politics” in a firm manner; however, I do not want to attack them as individual human beings. I’m not suggesting that I want to be friends with them. Or that I like them. They aren’t the type of folks that I’m going to invite over to my house, to socialize with.

I think it is good enough to not respond in kind, not to trade insults with, or attempt to out-do with half-witty debaters’ points. I would prefer to treat them with respect as fellow human beings and community members, who have the right to express their opinions openly. That proved difficult Thursday, in part because I had not expected the outbursts in that setting. Twice, I had to struggle internally, to keep from delivering an insult myself.

Instead of fully engaging her in a debate -- I had no interest in attempting to change her mind -- I focused my responses on communicating with the others in the room. I believe that her aggressive and hostile presentation worked against her. The others appeared sympathetic towards me, and very willing to listen closely to what I was saying. On our ride home, the friend I attended the meeting with said he believed the hostile woman had behaved in such a manner that she isolated herself from the crowd.

I thought a lot about this today, as I sat out near my pond. I thought about the amount of hostility that poisons the atmosphere. I remembered my friend saying that he was surprised that I didn’t (verbally) go after the lady aggressively. I don’t think any good purpose would have been achieved in my doing so. I’m not sure what the ultimate answer is, obviously. But I think marginalizing her tactics is the best bet. What do you think?

H2O Man
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