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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 51,943

Journal Archives

Friends and Enemies

Yesterday, I read a wonderful OP by one of my long-time DU friends, regarding the issue of the racist fraternity business. One person’s responses appeared to be attempts to distract from the issue the OP focused on. My friend did an amazing job of keeping the focus where it was intended to be.

I recommended the OP, and noted my admiration for my friend’s “perfect” responses. My buddy responded by saying thanks, and that a number of old friends now reject her/him (I know the correct one there, but that’s not important) because s/he supports Hillary Clinton. It’s funny how something a person says on the internet can take up space in your mind for a couple of days.

In my opinion, Ted Kennedy was one of the greatest US Senators in our nation’s history. But I didn’t think he would be a great President. Obviously, I would have voted for him over Reagan or Bush the Elder. Still, I’m glad he remained in the Senate.

I tend to have a similar opinion of Hillary Clinton. If she had remained a Senator from NYS, I would have supported her -- as I did -- for as long as she wanted that position. That she became President Obama’s Secretary of State was, however, a good thing; it was necessary after the bitterness of the 2008 democratic primary. It wasn’t limited to tension between Clinton and Obama: there were hostilities between the two campaigns, and between people at the grass roots level -- including here at DU.

A prime example of that hostility can be found in various books detailing the primary campaign, when Bill Clinton attempted to gain Ted Kennedy’s endorsement for his wife. The working relationship between two democratic giants was fractured. Despite Bill Clinton’s beliefs, as we saw, America was willing and ready to elect Senator Obama to the presidency.

On the internet site “Face Book,” I’ve read some paranoid rantings that President Obama is sure to suspend the Constitution, cancel future elections, and declare himself dictator. Barring this rather remote possibility, I expect that Hillary Clinton will enter the primaries for the 2016 election. If so, there is a good chance that she’ll win.

One of the people that I’m friends with on FB is a young lady who my youngest daughter met last year, at a state-wide high school leadership conference. This young lady is an outstanding example of her generation’s feminist movement. It’s people like her that assure me that our country has the ability to provide real leadership now and in the future. At least four times a week, I read updates on various conferences she attends, links to outstanding articles she identifies as important, and other information from her.

In recent days, for example, she has been in the audience that heard Ms. Clinton speak. She expressed some very insightful opinions on the e-mail issue, and the republican agenda. It makes no difference to me if I agree or disagree with each and every opinion that she expresses -- I am encouraged by the way that she provides a solid foundation for those opinions.

We aren’t in a country where a black person cannot be elected president. Yet, there are still those who despise President Obama because he is black. We aren’t in a country where a woman cannot be elected president. Yet, there are surely those who are opposed to Hillary Clinton, because she is female. Racism and sexism are diseases that remain entrenched in a portion of our society. By no coincidence, both seem to be republican party “values.” But as we see with the fraternity issue, the greater society is rejecting such hatred.

I think that the biggest differences found here on DU are rooted in whether people think that our society is capable of achieving social justice by having a democratic majority in Washington fine tune the political machine, or if they believe that social justice requires major structural change. That includes the differences of opinion regarding if meaningful change has the best chances of taking place gradually, or if meaningful change can happen more rapidly.

Not everyone is going to think the same, of course. Nor is everyone on DU going to be friends. But it is a shame if friendships crumble, simply because of differences of opinion.

On Dynasties

“I think this is a great American country, great country, and if we can’t find more than two or three to run for high office, that’s silly, because there are great governors, great people who are eligible to run.for high office. And I think that the Kennedys, Clintons, and Bushes, there are just more families than that.”
-- Barbara Bush, the Swine of Babylon


There is a possibility that the November, 2016 presidential election could feature both a Clinton and a Bush as the major party candidates. That raises the questions: would this represent a modern form of dynasty? And if so, is that a healthy feature of a democracy?

A working definition of “dynasty” is when a small number of families controls the political and economic life of a country. From history, we know that China and Europe had dynasties that lasted for centuries. None of these resembled democracies. None were known to include what is known as a “middle class.” There were the ruling elites, merchants, and a majority of people, who were serfs and peasants.

By no coincidence, there was a apparently popular television series, from January 1981 to May of 1989, called “Dynasty.” While I’ve never watched it, I know it was a trashy night-time soap opera, that appealed primarily to those seeking mindless entertainment. That the series would run pretty much in the period of the Reagan-Bush administration might shed light upon this need.

In more recent times, both HBO and Showtime have featured series on various dynasties -- some purely fictional, some with a bit of history mixed in. These series tend to include numerous scenes with quivering flesh and bloody gore, enough to keep viewers loyal to the shows. And they always include serfs, slaves, and peasants, who frequently have complicated love-hate relationships with the beautiful people in elite positions.

I believe that the Reagan-Bush years representing a move away from the USA being a constitutional democracy, and towards becoming a high-tech feudal state. Now, that’s just me. Just my opinion. I’m curious about your opinion:

Does a potential Clinton vs. Bush suggest to you a hint of “dynasty”? Does that concern you? Is it an issue that could ever influence how you vote, either in a primary or general election?

Regarding Hillary Clinton

There are quite a few OP/threads on DU:GD concerning Hillary Clinton in recent days. The vast majority of them -- in my opinion -- have an obnoxious-to-toxic flavor (in whole or in large part). So I thought that I’d try posting something that provides forum members with an opportunity to discuss Ms. Clinton’s expected campaign for the presidency in 2016 in a meaningful way.

I live in rural, upstate New York. Thus, if Ms. Clinton runs, my vote will carry no weight in either a primary of general election contest. For sake of this discussion, I should add: I long preferred Hillary to Bill Clinton; I voted for her twice, in NYS elections for the US Senate; I met her twice in that period; and I voted for Obama in the 2008 primary. More, I have not decided who I would vote for, if she does enter the 2016 primaries. I haven’t gotten that far yet.

I believe that there are three major areas to consider with Ms. Clinton or any other candidate for office: social policy; economic policy; and foreign policy. In my opinion, Hillary’s strength in terms of appealing to grass roots Democrats is in social policy. Frequently, the media labels this “women and children’s issues.” However, it goes beyond that. Social policy includes things that impact families -- including men -- such as health care.

At the same time, there are areas of social policy where the grass roots should disagree with Ms. Clinton. This includes areas where economic policy overlaps with social policy: she is an advocate for the “fracking” industry, which has very negative effects upon the environment (and the environment impacts many family’s health).

I’ll end this with a brief story. In late 1999, the movie “The Hurricane” was released. The film is about the legal struggle of my late friend, Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Although I never saw it mentioned in the media, I remember that President Clinton and Hillary had Rubin visit them at the White House for a private screening of the film. Not a huge thing, I know, but it made an impression on me.

Hillary Clinton, e-mails, & Emily's List

Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak tonight, at the 30th anniversary gala for Emily’s List. Her speech would have gotten media attention, even if the current e-mail issue hadn’t been put on the table. Since it has, there is a probability that she will address it. This should be interesting.

At this point, there are three groups among the Democratic Party: those who strongly support her possible run in 2016; those who strongly oppose such a run; and the undecided, and those who are not firmly decided one way or the other about Hillary Clinton.

No matter what -- if anything -- Ms. Clinton says tonight, groups 1 and 2 will remain firm in their opinion. They will view her statements as grounds to reinforce their beliefs about her character.

What is more important, in my opinion, is how group 3 views the news about the e-mail issue, including her response to it.

Politics are a curious thing.

Red Scare #9

“Why don’t we do it in the road?
Why don’t we do it in the road?
Why don’t we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don’t we do it in the road?”
-- Paul McCartney

Most historians would not even mention Paul McCartney in a discussion of “McCarthyism,” for obvious reasons. Fewer still would begin such an attempt at conversations about America’s second great Red Scare with a quote from one of Sir Paul’s curious contributions to the double LP titled “The Beatles,” though commonly known as “the White Album.” But there is an actual good reason for my including here, perhaps beyond the simple fact that Side Two of the double LP is spinning on my turn-table as I type this. (We’ll see, won’t we?)

“McCarthyism” in the gutter sense describes the attitude of much of America circa 1950-56. It is known as the second “red scare” in America. There was an attempt -- rather successful, at that -- to scare people into refusing to listen to anyone who dared to ask questions; or to read literature that asked questions; or to be in any way DISLOYAL.

The insane Senator Joseph McCarthey (R-Hell) wanted everyone to take loyalty pledges of allegiance to his flag. Failure to do so resulted in a dynamic that involved excessive allegations of disloyalty; twisting of a person’s sincere dissent into evidence of betrayal; and vicious attacks upon the character of anyone who didn’t subscribe 100% to the party line.

This form of McCarthyism is a malignancy upon a democratic society. Note that I used the word “is” to describe it -- because this disease is never truly cured: it goes into remission, but always is present in the uglier regions of the human minds, seeking opportunity to re-assert itself in the most surprising of places.

The positive form of “McCarthyism” was found in America in 1967-68, when a diverse group of patriotic citizens at the grass roots level questioned the establishment’s definitions of reality. The combined force of this dissent created a synergy that resulted in Senator Eugene McCarthy challenging LBJ. What is funny is that history has revealed that the very same cogs in the Washington, DC machine that accused the people supporting this McCarthyism of being disloyal to the cause, actually were questioning -- but only among themselves -- if LBJ had totally lost his grip on reality, and was stark raving mad? Yet they remained “loyal,” though it is hard to see that as a strength today.

Now, there are many things about LBJ that deserve respect. I’ve heard it said that Martin Luther King, Jr., could not have accomplished all he did, with his protests in the streets, if LBJ hadn’t been in the White House. And that’s true. Yet, King had to challenge LBJ’s stance on Vietnam, to remain true to his principles. But this wasn’t simply a “purity test” for King: for the “war on poverty” and the Great Society were being destroyed by the war in Vietnam.

Fast-forward 48 years, and we see some of those same dynamics at play here on DU:GD. If you don’t vote this way, you ain’t loyal. A red state scare: do you want to be responsible for Ted Cruz in the White House? And on and on and on.

Sides three and four of the White Album are simply outstanding.

2016 Inner-Space Odyssey

I remember when I joined the Democratic Underground in December of 2003. I had read some of the discussions on the forum for months before joining, and found some of them very interesting; most of mild interest; and a few puzzling. On the 29th, however, a fellow named Will Pitt had published an outstanding essay on the Plame Scandal, which was of particular interest to me.

At the time, the corporate media was largely ignoring the Plame Scandal. In fact, even our elected representatives in Washington, DC, were remaining silent about what was clearly one of the most significant White House scandals of our life-time. Although there was evidence, for those paying attention, that the Plame Scandal was related to the two earlier series of scandals -- known as Watergate and Iran-Contra -- the democratic establishment was intimidated by the Office of the Vice President.

For those interested in the rule of constitutional law, the primary sources of information being reported were found on internet sites such as Truth Out; and informed discussions on sites like DU. I remember discussing DU with a couple of my associates -- a small, informal group that operated as a volunteer “think tank”/ activist center -- and learning that this forum had begun as a response to the US Supreme Court’s selection of Bush and Cheney as the “winners” of the 2000 election.

The DU community had begun as a collection of left-leaning Democrats, and members of the Democratic Left. There were a few members who could have been described as moderate Democrats, at least in some areas, but the majority of members were definitely to the left of center. And although there were plenty of heated debates on the forum, I can’t remember any that focused on defining a person’s need to be 100% in support of every Democrat in Washington, DC, in order to belong here.

Over the years, as the forum grew, a number of interesting things happened. DU would become one of the best under-the-radar Plame Scandal think tanks. A few journalists from the corporate media began to pay attention to the infamous “Plame Threads” (primarily those from MSNBC’s evening shows). A few relatives of presidential primary candidates joined DU, including Elizabeth Edwards, as well as relatives of John Kerry and Wesley Clark. A staff member of a NYS Senator -- who many believe will be the next Democratic candidate for President -- contacted me, to try to find the source of some Plame news I posted here, several days before it would be reported in the mainstream media.

Just as the “establishment” Democrats recognized the potential value of this forum -- including as a source of votes, donations, campaign workers, and yes, insightful thinking -- so did that dark force that is known in psychiatric and forensic circles as the “republican party.” Thus, there are at times waves of “trolls” joining to disrupt, much like nasty cluster flies or the biblical infestations of locus. Luckily, their life expectancy here tends to be short. This includes the 39 year old, sexually frustrated republican who inhabits his parents’ basement, as well as the likes of Michelle Munchkin and Sean Hannity.

There has also been an increase in the number of moderate to conservative Democrats. They are good people, as sincere in their social and political beliefs as anyone else here. In my opinion -- and this is admittedly speculation -- some are older folks, my generation, who were more liberal in their youth, and now are part of the middle class. Their contributions are of value, and likely let them get back in touch with their “inner hippie.”

The growth of the DU community has included an interesting number of folks who have diverse interests and values, which has resulted in a large number of “specialty” sub-forums. Each one of these groups adds an important voice to the larger whole.

However, especially in the context of the approaching 2016 elections, we witness some tensions on General Discussion, which is kind of like the village commons, or the city park of the Democratic Underground. Not surprisingly, much of that tension is about the anticipated run of Hillary Clinton for President. It is safe (I hope) to say that Ms. Clinton creates strong emotional responses in many people -- including those who support and those who oppose the idea of her becoming the President of the United States.

What strikes me as the most glaring about the arguments on DU:GD about Ms. Clinton is that so many good people -- people who are normally intelligent and insightful -- allow emotions to block their ability to recognize some of the most obvious of lessons from the past two decades. The single most obvious is that we are not on a fence, where some stand to win, while others lose. The only avenue to victory requires unity. It’s that simple. Yet we witness the pro- and anti-Clinton people engaged in a competition to see who can deliver the “best” insult.

The second lesson is that any President can only operate within the limits that Congress (the House and Senate) allows. If there are weak Democrats, a Bush-Cheney resolution allowing the invasion of Iraq happens. On the flip side, a Congress can handcuff President Obama’s efforts to pass meaningful legislation.

The question arises: realistically, is it easier to elect someone to Congress, or the White House? Again, both require united efforts on our part. And a heck of a lot of work.

It's official!

Mayweather vs Pacquiao will be on May 2, 2015. Both fighters have signed.

DU sports forum members will recall that I said it was going to happen, in an OP last month. Another person mistakenly challenged me on that, claiming it would not happen. Let this be a lesson: never doubt my word when it comes to boxing.

A 2016 Primary Proposal

What is the most obnoxious thing that people such as Sean Hannity do when it comes to differences of opinion? Yep, you got it -- he automatically ascribes the most offensively vile motives to those who disagree with him. If you didn’t like George W. Bush, for example, it was because you hated America. If you support women’s right to health care, you clearly favor the brutal murder of infants. If you favor marriage equality, you are engaged in the war on Christianity.

This is, of course, the weakest excuse for meaningful debate. It shows a lack of confidence in one’s position. The combination of concrete thinking (“if you don’t like A, you must like B”) and disgusting insults (no examples necessary) highlight just how shallow Sean et al are. It is nature’s way of communicating a warning of toxicity.

I said that, to say this: the vast majority of folks who are part of the DU community are good and sincere individuals, fully capable of determining if the will -- or will not -- vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 -- if she is indeed in the primary contests and the general election. There are numerous valid reasons why a person might support or not support her potential candidacy. I believe that is true for even those among the DU community who post foolish things about the ethics and motivations of those who think differently than themselves.

If we keep open minds, and focus on communicating what our opinions are -- rather than attacking other people who honestly think differently (even very differently) -- there is a possibility we may influence others, and perhaps even convince them. More, there is a very real possibility we might learn something, ourselves. Besides that, a closed mind tends to be much like a closed room -- stuffy.

Having been on DU since 2003, I recognize that primary season isn’t a pillow fight here. Yet we have the option of meaningful discourse. Let’s use it.

Square Dancing Sideways vs the 31st Amendment

One of the most offensive possibilities for the near-future is that Jeb Bush could become the republican presidential candidate in 2016, and possibly become President Bush III. While there are several important factors that could prevent that, it is an unfortunate possibility. The very thought of that is enough to make an ethical person vomit.

This is not to say that the other potential republican candidates are not equally vile individuals. But Jeb has family connections to various centers of power and influence that would, almost for sure, allow him to do more damage to the fabric of American society than the other republicans.

For many Democrats, this is reason enough to enthusiastically vote for any democratic candidate. That’s a good thing, that I certainly respect. But for many other Democrats, there remain concerns about what candidate the Democratic Party might run. This is absolutely not because they would ever vote for Jeb Bush -- they are immune to the unhealthy “so you’d rather have Palin/Nixon/Reagan in the White House?” -- but rather, because they understand that party affiliation alone does not define the quality of a candidate. This, too, is a good thing, and I respect it.

Both the media and common sense suggest that Hillary Clinton is likely to be the democratic candidate in 2016. Some good people think this is the best option; other good people think it is the worst option. In the final analysis, it will be up to Hillary Clinton -- if she is the democratic candidate -- to win or lose the election. And that is distinct from it being the responsibility of those from the grass roots, the small towns and large cities, or even of her campaign staff and political advisers. No one is more aware of that reality than Hillary Clinton.

When we consider candidates for President, besides “party affiliation,” there are three areas that should always be of interest: social policy; economic policy; and foreign affairs. In terms of Jeb Bush, it’s humorous to note that his biggest “weakness” within the context of the republican party is that he is considered “too liberal” on social policy. (Among Democrats and Independents, his social policy is viewed as to the right of moderate, at best. And obviously, his family’s name is a huge negative.) Jeb’s economic policies center upon what is best for billionaires; his foreign policy is likewise dictated by corporate interests.

Now, let’s consider Hillary in each of those three areas. Her social policies are likely her strongest point with the grass roots. She is, in many ways, progressively pro-family. I think she may be the most likely person to get “single-payer” through in terms of insurance/ health care. She is solid on women’s health care -- an issue that is important for the entire family. These are very significant pluses in her favor.

On the downside of social policy, and in an area that overlaps with the other two sections, Clinton is not good on environmental issues. She advocates for fracking, an operation that does provide “energy,” but benefit’s the wealthy, and devastates the land, air, and water where people live.

In terms of economic policy, there are connections with Wall Street that concern some Democrats, as well as the Democratic Left. While the Clinton family might be better viewed as part of the (multi-) millionaires’ club, rather than the billionaires’ more exclusive club, their interests place them more in line with both of those clubs, as opposed to the middle class or poor.

I believe that it is fair to say that her social policies show that, to a degree that is far larger than any potential republican candidate, that Hillary is able to identify and understand the middle class Americans. Likewise, I think it is fair for the grass roots to question to what degree she does that. Certainly, this should not include resentment for her making money. But it can include an examination of how she has done that, and how this might influence her actions if elected President of the United States.

Her foreign policy has both supporters and detractors. In the most literal sense, she can be described as someone who fit’s the original description of neoconservative. When this movement started in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, it was not associated with one party. In fact, many of the original neo-conservatism were registered Democrats: liberal on social policy, and aggressive on “defense” -- and a global view heavily influenced by one nation in the Middle East.

Today, there is a tendency to use the word incorrectly, and apply it to republicans -- including some of the tea party -- and even those non-true believers of neo-conservatism, who for example favored the invasion of Iraq, simply because they love violence against “others.” A great example of an early neoconservative was Daniel Patrick Moynihan. By the early 1970s, he was working in the Nixon administration. Nixon was not the first President to pick someone from the opposing party to serve in his administration. And, in theory, Moynihan’s position was limited to domestic policy. But those of us familiar with his career, including his service to Nixon, are aware that he influenced foreign policy, as well.

The Democratic Party does not have a policy that includes a purity test. (I’m convinced the republicans have an impurity test.) There are good people who favor Clinton’s social, economic, and foreign policy stances. There are people who may favor one or two; who might oppose one or two; or may not be interested in one or two. And who are more than ready to support her, based upon any of those interests.

Likewise, there are good people who are opposed to her, based upon one or more of these policy interests. And there are surely people who haven’t really given it much of any thought, in the context of 2016; or who have examined them, but are unsure of how they might vote -- including if there are options in the primaries.

The truth is, that for a lot of people, it’s not a simple, black-and-white issue. But somehow, on DU:GD, the majority of the discussion suggests that it is that simple, and that “black-versus-white.” In my opinion, that discourages the serious discussions that could be part of the upcoming election cycle, for many forum members. One of the least interesting issues being debated might be if a Clinton candidacy is “inevitable.” Certainly, she has to be favored at this point in time. Yet a lot can happen between now and November of 2016. It would seem -- at least to me -- to be at least as important to focus on how a democratic presidential candidate might influence races for the House and Senate, as to view “inevitability” as the key issue.

I also think that, while the folks at the national level tend to be moderate to conservative in two or more of the policy-groups I mentioned, that the liberals and progressives at the grass roots tend to do a lot of the work at the community level. They are the ones who can get members of the Democratic Left to consider actively supporting a democratic candidate, by pointing out the areas where they differ from the republican species. And that can make the difference between experiencing victory versus the “agony of defeat” in state and national elections.

Peace,
H2O Man

Contact the White House

http://ecowatch.com/2015/02/11/keystone-bill-heads-to-obamas-desk/

President Obama needs to veto the Keystone XL bill, which has passed in both the House and Senate.

See petition below:

http://ecowatch.com/petition/obama-veto-keystone-xl-bill/

Please sign the petition; call the White House; and write a letter to President Obama.

(Older DUers might suggest that we do this "RIGHT F__KING NOW!!!!")
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