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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,832

Journal Archives

Family Violence

The topic of domestic violence is “in the news” again, largely due to the actions of several football players. Some of the media reports seem to have value, and have the potential to bring about some thoughtful discussions about the damaging impact of physical violence within families. As the family is the basic building block within our communities, it is worth considering the effect that family violence has upon our culture.

Today, I’d like to focus on a specific type of domestic violence: child abuse. That’s a broad topic, of course, and includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In different states, physical violence can be defined as falling into “neglect” and/or “abuse,” depending upon the severity of it. As I live in New York, I tend to use the terms as defined by our legal system.

For many years, I worked in a county-wide program in positions that dealt with child neglect and abuse. I investigated more cases than I care to remember; counseled parents on appropriate parenting skills; and testified in court many, many times. Later, in another county, I developed a 20-week course for cases referred by Family Court, where parents were at (high) risk for losing all parental rights. That course coordinated services and evaluations through mental health, alcohol & drug abuse services, and social services.

For the sake of this discussion, I will add some personal life experience, which may relate to my position on domestic violence. I was raised in a family where violence was extreme. And I have raised four children -- two sons and two daughters -- without violence.

I believe that the only legitimate purpose for “discipline” is to teach children self-discipline. Hence, if an adult says, “I was hit as a kid, and I turned out okay,” my response is, “Are you willing to consider that there may be a better way?” In my experience, most parents are open to considering that possibility. Those who are not run the risk of having “the system” playing an on-going role in their families’ lives.

Domestic violence of all types tends to go in cycles; some of these cycles include generations. Not all children who are subjected to physical violence grow up to be violent adults. Yet as a general rule, adults who are violent experienced violence in their childhood. I believe that adults who become violent when they are angry did not develop self-discipline. Instead, they have learned that, when angry, to strike out at someone they are confident that can beat up.

If we are serious about breaking the cycles of domestic abuse, our culture needs to consider alternatives to violence starting with childhood. Malcolm X used to say that society should fight violent crime by starting in the high chair, rather than ending with the electric chair. Indeed, there are basic parenting skills that assist a child to become a self-disciplined person.

During the industrial revolution, western culture began to discount the significance of a child’s first five years of life. By no coincidence, this is when the basic family system went from “extended” to “nuclear,” to fit the needs of the economic system. In today’s high-tech society (with more “single parent” and “blended” families than in the past, again to fit the needs of the economic system), there is a greater appreciation of early child development.

There are four basic building blocks for these formative years. These are: “loveable,” meaning the parent loves the infant; “worthwhile,” meaning the parent enjoys spending time with the toddler; “capable,” meaning the child is able to learn things and master skills; and “responsible,” meaning the parent trusts the child to do things right, including doing the right thing.

A five year old who has these building blocks has a better foundation than one who lacks one or more of them. It really is that simple. More, most of the parents who I worked with, who were sincere about wanting to be the best parent they could be, would at some point be able to identify which of these building blocks they did not have in their childhood. And this wasn’t a result of my asking them -- it was something they came to recognize on their own.

To be clear, I’m not saying that doing this results in a child who behaves perfectly. Quite the opposite: no one behaves perfectly. And it is a teenager’s job to test boundaries, experiment with life, and present challenges to their parents. The truth is that a teenager’s brain hasn’t fully developed in the region that identifies consequences. Parents can help them to learn to take the time to consciously think things through, and that does include having negative consequences for bad behaviors. But it doesn’t have to include violence -- especially when there are better ways.

I recognize that any time a person speaks like this, there will be others who say that’s unrealistic. That I do not understand human nature. That human history is filled with violence. And it’s hard to argue that there isn’t lots of violence -- way too much, in my opinion. Yet human nature has many potentials, and non-violence produces greater options. We have the ability to see that specific systems create cycles of violence, and to make the conscious effort to identify and practice alternatives to violence.

ISIS Question [?]

“I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.”
-- Bob Dylan; Isis

Question: Can the US afford to go to war against Isis, without a high risk of going bankrupt?

It seemed that one of Usama bin Laden’s goals was to destroy the American economy, much as happened to the former Soviet Union. A thinking person could objectively question if the billions of dollars spent in the “war on terrorism:, from 2001 on, might have been better invested in other avenues.

I ask the above question not anticipating a “right” or “wrong” answer, but rather, for your opinion. Thank you.

"Death of a King"

I plan to pick up a copy of a new book, “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year” by Tavis Smiley. While I am not very familiar with the author, I have seen a few good interviews with him in the past couple of days. It appears to be an interesting and valuable book.

It will be a welcome addition to the section of books, both by and about King, in my library. More, it focuses upon that last year of Martin’s life -- which I find the most fascinating and inspiring. One of the things that I have most appreciated on the Democratic Underground is that a significant number of forum participants know about that final year. They know about King’s transformation.

But that isn’t really why I find myself writing this today. It would, of course, be worthwhile to have a discussion that focuses on the significance of Dr. King’s growing from the best-known Civil Rights leader, to the prophet who identified the triple threats of racism, poverty, and militarism. And how so much of America turned on him for doing that which his highly evolved conscience dictated. I’m always up for that.

The reason that I’m writing is because I am thinking about the importance of King’s central theme, and how it applies today. It is something that I sometimes struggle with, and frequently meditate upon, because as our society is being torn apart at the seams, it is easy to become angry and frustrated. Our culture is saturated with fear and hostility, making it at times difficult to avoid letting that negative force seep within my own thinking.

I think that most objective forum participants would say that a significant amount of that negative force has been channeled in discussions here in recent days and weeks. Sometimes it is expressed as hatred for republicans. Other times, it is harsh insults aimed at other forum members. (And, in a few cases, there may be individuals here for the wrong reason -- simply to disrupt.) I know that I sometimes am impatient, and say rude things that I shouldn’t.

One of the things that I heard Smiley say, in two of the recent interviews, is that even under the intense pressures and stress that King endured in his final year of life, he never stopped loving his enemies. That included King’s knowing that a bullet was in his future. Those who feared and hated King grew from the days when he simply looked to integrate lunch counters, buses, and public toilets, to when he sought to force fundamental changes in our economic system.

What does it mean to love your enemies? To many people then, like now, that simply sounds silly, foolish, unrealistic, even weak. Too few people actually listened to King’s explanation of exactly what he meant by that. And that explanation reminds me of something that the ancient philosopher Confuscius said, in response to a question of what he would do, were he to have political power: “Insist that people use words correctly.”

King frequently explained that when he used the word “love,” that he intended it in the sense of one of the three Greek words for love. He made it clear that he was not speaking of “eros,” or romantic love; nor did he mean “philia,” the love of family and friends. Rather, he meant it as “agape,” or the love of all of creation. Agape does not imply warm, fuzzy feelings for one’s enemies. Nor does it imply appreciation or respect for that enemy’s behaviors. Instead, it means that King accepted that those who hated black people were sick. That those who lashed out violently suffered from disease.

King knew that hate could not be “cured” with more hatred. And that social justice could not be achieved by violence.

About a month ago, we had an intense discussion of the year 1968 here on DU:GD. Some of this forum’s most insightful members spoke about their experiences and memories of that strange and violent year in our nation’s history. It was, not coincidentally, the year King was murdered. We are in another of those dangerous periods of history. And that is exactly why I believe it is important that we all take the time to study the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace,
H2O Man

Primary Unplugged

Tuesday’s primary in New York State should be of interest to both members of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left nationwide. If for no other reason that republicans are examining it, the contest between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Zephyr Teachout was important. Let’s take a look.

Cuomo is, of course, the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. Andrew worked for his father, and got his education in elections and the world of state and national politics -- at a time when George W. Bush was involved with his father’s political career. In some ways, Andrew is the complete opposite of W: he is highly intelligent, and highly disciplined. In other ways, he is similar: he is highly ambitious, and that isn’t intended as a compliment. He wants to be president.

Teachout teaches Fordham Law School. She was born and raised on a farm in Vermont, something that served her well in the democratic primary. She ran a classic, grassroots underdog campaign, appealing to farmers, environmentalists, and the teachers union. And, unlike Cuomo, her campaign ran on very little money.

As governor, Cuomo had advantages other than money. He had access to the media at levels his opponent did not. And by refusing to debate Teachout, he insured that Zephyr remained largely unknown.

As a result, Cuomo won the primary, with about 2/3rds the votes, compared to Teachout’s 1/3rd. However, she won in at least twenty of the rural, upstate counties. Cuomo’s strength was, not surprisingly, in the large cities.

As it now stands, Cuomo will face a conservative republican puppet in November. There is at least one “third party” candidate in the mix, a Green Party candidate who has made his anti-fracking policy his central issue. And there is a call for Teachout to run “third party,” although I do not think that she is going to.

If Cuomo was facing a serious republican challenger -- such as his father did in George Pataki -- he would need the support of progressive Democrats and the Democratic Left. But he is not; indeed, the republican machine in New York State views Cuomo being acceptable. Indeed, two of his closest associates are state senator Tom Libous (recently indicted on federal corruption charges) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Thus, the question that groups including environmentalists and the teachers union have to answer goes beyond November. Do they continue to support “centrists” such as Andrew Cuomo, simply because he is a registered democrat? Even when that politician fails to support them on the very issues that they consider most important? Or do they continue to organize at the grass roots level, to build a coalition of like-minded citizens, capable of winning elections from the local level up?

Mayweather vs Maidana II

On Saturday, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., defends his welterweight title in a rematch with Marcos Maidana. The scheduled 12-round bout, which takes place in Las Vegas, is being carried on Showtime pay-per-view. Mayweather won by majority decision in their first bout, in May of this year.

Older forum members will recall that before that first bout -- in which the odds were 11-to-1 for Floyd -- I had predicted here that it would be the toughest fight of Mayweather’s career. While most of the sport’s “experts” in the media were saying that Mayweather was taking an easy fight, I correctly pointed out that styles make fights, and that Maidana actually had a chance at pulling off an upset.

As it turned out, Maidana actually landed more punches in six of the twelve rounds in May. Floyd suffered the first cut of his career. One judge scored the bout a draw. The boxing community’s reaction to the bout motivated Mayweather to seek an immediate rematch with Maidana.

Recently, I discussed the up-coming bout with Showtime’s boxing analyst, Steve Farhood. I stated that Maidana is to Mayweather, what Basilio was to Robinson. Steve said that it is a good analogy, but noted Carmen was a great champion. Now, that is true -- Basilio ranks among the toughest men in the sport’s history. Yet, it was not technique that separated the Onion Farmer from others -- it was his mental and physical strength.

Almost everyone who has competed in the ring much has had the experience of fighting that guy who isn’t gifted in technique -- indeed, he does many things “wrong” -- but who is so strong and aggressive that you cannot fight your usual fight against him.

Now, Maidana had three loses before he fought Floyd. The first was a controversial split-decision, that most viewers believed he won. The other two were against tall men with long reaches (both have held titles). They were able to keep the smaller Maidana at arm’s length. But Maidana is as tall as Floyd, and has an almost equal reach. More, he entered the ring weighing 17 pounds more than Mayweather in their first bout.

Perhaps most importantly, Maidana joined with one of the sport’s best trainers. He has added a serious jab to Maidana’s offense. It is very similar to the powerful jab that allowed Mike Tyson to get inside on larger opponents. That jab allowed Maidana to defeat Adrian Broner, which earned him the first fight with Floyd.

Floyd is an outstanding counter-puncher. Thus, opponents from Oscar de la Hoya to Canelo Alveraz would become hesitant to throw punches by the middle rounds when they challenged Mayweather. But Maidana’s jab -- which he delivers above his shoulder’s height -- tucks his chin deep into that shoulder. When he brings it back, his chin remains protected. That is hard to counter consistently.

More, that jab allowed Marcos to cut the distance between him and Floyd, exactly as it did with Broner. Once inside, especially when Floyd’s back was to the ropes, Maidana was able to make it an ugly fight. And an ugly fight it was: Maidana landed numerous low blows and rabbit-punches, lifted his knee into Floyd’s groin, and butted; Mayweather responded by using his forearm, a few low blows, and rubbing the palm of his gloves on Maidana’s face.

Kenny Bayless will be the referee on Saturday, and he is the best in the business. Still, it is difficult to imagine this bout being free from fouls. Rather, Mayweather needs to keep the fight in the center of the ring to avoid the rough tactics of Marcos Maidana. That means that he will have to take the lead, throwing crisp combinations, and then moving to the side. In exchanges, he needs to get his shots off, both first and last. And when Maidana misses, Floyd needs to punish him. Easier said than done, of course, even for someone as gifted as Mayweather.

Maidana has had a longer, more focused training camp this time. He is prepared to fight for the full twelve rounds, at the pace he did for the first six in May. His jab will be essential. Look for him to mix that up, much as he did against Broner: single jabs, double-jabs, hooks off the jab, and most importantly, coming in under the jab and banging the body. The body attack is vital as far as preventing Floyd from moving for 12 rounds.

Hopefully, the outcome will not be decided by fouls -- such as a cut resulting from a butt. Yet, anything is possible. In my opinion, the “outside factor” most likely to influence the bout would be if Mayweather damages one (or both) of his hands in the fight. His hands have given him problems several times in his career. Floyd went into their first fight without any personal animosity towards Marcos; on Saturday, he’ll be seeking to punish Maidana. That means sitting down on his punches more, and old hands do not hold up so well that way.

Enjoy the fight, and may the best man win.

Naked

All of this naked stuff makes me uncomfortable. I mean, if God wanted us to be naked, we wouldn’t be born fully dressed. Eve took her clothes off, and unto therefore God hath punished humanity. I don’t have the exact quote and verse; however, I know this true story can be found in the Old Testicle’s Book of Genocide. (No pictures, though.)

A lot of this can be traced back to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. They posed naked on the album “Two Virgins.” Two direct results happened: the other Beatles were so ashamed that they quit the group; and Jim Morrison, reportedly after being “tabbed” with a hit of marijuana, exposed himself on stage in Miami. No Pat Boone, he.

This led to Abbie Hoffman threatening to lead a “Love In” featuring thousands of naked hippies, at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Luckily, Mayor Daley had a cool head, and was able to direct the police to maintain a peaceful, well-dressed atmosphere.

Things drifted downhill when, on their “Sometime in NYC” double album, John and Yoko put a picture of President Nixon and Chairman Mao dancing naked on the cover. While I’m unsure if these leaders even knew someone was photographing them, I am pretty convinced they did not intend for this to be placed on a record cover.

Equally worse, years later, the contamination from John and Yoko infected Paul and Ringo. They allowed a re-release of the Beatles’ “Let It Be” album to be titles “Let It Be Naked.” (No naked pictures, though.)

There’s something un-natural about nudity. It creates an unhealthy attitude about the human body. It leads to the mortal sin of masturbation. Hundreds of young men flush their lives away, due to nudity. It’s been proven to lead directly to smoking and insanity.

My advice: if you see naked people, just try to imagine them fully dressed.

A Question

A while back, I heard a talking head on television say: “Isis is no bad that even al Qaeda despises them.” And I remember thinking, “gosh,” when I heard that. Because for about a full decade, al Qaeda was definitely the most evil, deadly, vicious collection of mean people in the history of the human race. I mean, there aren’t many enemies who are so evil, deadly, vicious, and mean that almost the entire American public was happy to have strong and heroic leaders -- and I’m talking Bush-Cheney -- destroy the Constitution of the United States, in order to protect us.

I mean, al Qaeda hated us for our freedoms. So we submitted those freedoms to Bush and Cheney. And now, Isis hates us. Obviously, they can’t hate us for our freedoms now. So, like, what is their problem? In my quest to find the answer to that question, I have continued to watch and read the news. I took special interest in the experts, almost all of whom were soon saying, “Isis is so terrible, that even al Qaeda hates the.”

Now, I’m not the type of guy who would enjoy having any religious fanatic chop my head off. That just seems unpleasant to me. And while I enjoy talking/ listening to other people, including those who hold different opinions or beliefs than me, I’m not particularly interested in hearing out a religious fanatic who cuts other people’s heads off. If they cut their own head off, then maybe I’d be curious to hear their explanation of why they opted to do such a thing.

So, I’m good with the bit about Isis and al Qaeda being bad guys. Very bad guys. But I still haven’t heard anything that proves that Isis is so bad, that even al Qaeda hates them. Instead, I’ve heard more and more talking heads on my television repeating that.

Now, I know that before they changed the name of their team to “Isis,” some of them were known as “al Qaeda in Iraq.” That was the name our politicians and media gave them, though. It wasn’t like they came up with that name, and then took a vote. I suspect Bush-Cheney called them that, in part because the real al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq (they were in the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence). But, if there wasn’t any WMD or al Qaeda in Iraq, the American public might have questioned what the heck we were doing there. And if they knew the answer to that, they might actually have been less inclined to hand in their constitutional rights.

So, now we know that Isis is extra-evil, so much so that al Qaeda hates them. It’s one of those lines (almost left the “n” out) that prepares the American public that we absolutely need to attack them. For humanitarian reasons. We must! And to prevent their attacking us. We must! And to protect the American energy executives now inhabiting a city in northern Iraq.

Must we?

Help! Police!

I bought my house after it had set empty for a few years. The previous owner was a state police officer, who lost his job due to violence. As the property had belonged to my extended family previously, I was aware that this fellow had done quite a bit of damage before leaving. My house was a stage coach station -- and post office/ doctor’s office -- in the late 1700s. Thus, it was a shame when he destroyed the stairway’s posts and rail, etc. The numerous bullet holes through the walls and windows did not add an attractive touch, either.

What was rather interesting was that he left the legal papers, including a trial transcript, in an upstairs’ closet. It made for fascinating reading. He had pulled over a young, brown-skinned man for a suspected traffic violation. At least that’s what he said he pulled the guy over for. Since there was no ticket, one can consider the possibility that there was some other reason he pulled the kid over. (Did I mention that the young man had brown skin? Not saying that was the real reason. Or that it wasn’t. But it may have been a factor.)

The kid was escorted to the station. He must have been suspicious -- or even one of them there sneaky suspects who have no attribute that they’ve done anything wrong. Because the good officer handcuffed him to what we can accurately call “a suspect’s chair.” I should say that I realize some adults find other uses for handcuffs. I’m in no position to speculate, however, if what happened next was akin to a sexual experience for the officer. I am 100% certain that it was not for the victim.

According to the officer’s official report -- as well as his testimony -- the officer stepped out of the room for a few minutes. Indeed, police work can be hard work. Not doubting that for a second. Not even for a fraction of a second. He felt that either he needed a break, or was using the tried-and-true interrogation technique of letting the suspect stew in his feelings of guilt.

Now, if you believe the officer -- and apparently, no one did -- while he was out of the room, the suspicious, sneaky suspect stretched his neck out just over 16 feet, and repeatedly slammed his head against a soda machine. Bastard! The streets just ain’t safe with such criminals out there, preying on unsuspecting soda machines. God save the queen!

Luckily, the officer arrested the kid, and charged him with the destruction of property. Seriously.

But not everyone believed the officer. In the harsh, cold reality of our times, there are those who did not accept his word, even though it was clearly presented in an official police document. What is this world coming to? I mean, okay, he had no reason to pull the kid over, and certainly no good explanation of why he brought the kid to the station. At least, that’s what some would have you believe. (Likely ACLU conspiracy theorists, they.) But isn’t it at very least possible that this semi-highly trained officer of the law had a hunch -- call it what you will -- that this kid was out driving, and up to no good? Perhaps even planning to slam his head against a soda machine? And that there is only a thin, blue line (and some military equipment) that serves to protect us from this savage threat?

Re: Tap-dancing

I took part in a discussion on a thread that a friend started, and want to expand on a couple of points. Rather than post this on another thread, even if my friend would not be offended by my rudeness, I’ll try an OP. Here goes:

The militarization of domestic police forces is a serious issue. More, it’s a symptom that our constitutional democracy isn’t functioning properly. This should be important to everyone. Yet, as another friend noted, we do not really see many of the national “leaders” -- from either party -- speaking out on it.

Now, in order to put the topic in its correct historical context, we need to look back to the Nixon presidency. For it was during Nixon’s first term that an aide named Tom Huston was tasked with creating a plan to coordinate domestic police agencies at all levels -- from village, to town, to city, to county, to state -- with the national intelligence agencies, including military intelligence.

This became known when John Dean testified to the Senate committee investigating Watergate. Dean also provided substantial documentation that proved, despite the Nixon administration’s “official” record, that the program was instituted. The committee would release some of that documentation; however, they immediately filed much of it away per “national security.”

What’s amazing is that Nixon -- a lawyer -- went on record saying that although he recognized it was entirely illegal, he gave the Huston Plan his permission to move forward. He would then complain when it wasn’t happening fast enough for his liking.

More, none other than J. Edgar Hoover would make clear that he would not cooperate with the Executive Office on this. Not because he was in any sense a noble supporter of truth and justice. Hoover certainly had “shared staff” with army intelligence for years. But he was intent upon guarding his turf. There was a time when the FBI was domestic, and the CIA was international. But that clearly isn’t the case today.

Fast-forward to February, 1973. A group of Native Americans at Wounded Knee were, according to the Nixon administration and the media, “occupying” the hamlet. It was, of course, Indian Territory, according to federal law. Still, the Nixon administration reacted by having the US Army respond, to take over Wounded Knee. The media frequently referred to the soldiers as “US government law-enforcement.” It was an ugly time.

Now, fast-forward to today. Let’s take Ferguson, for example. People who were exercising their constitutional rights were confronted by a police-military response. Or, by a military-police response. No matter what we call it, the truth is that troops were sent in to occupy a city, and its residents were viewed by those occupying forces as “others.” And other than residents.

A few lone politicians have spoken out on this issue. In general, the media ignores them. And none of the politicians, from either party, who are in positions of political power, say boo about it. Now, lots of community leaders, and some journalists, are addressing it. In fact, on Lawrence O”Donnell’s show right now, he is exposing one of the sick police officer from Ferguson, who threatened demonstrators with his gun. Hardly surprising, the show played an internet clip, where that same cop was telling a crowd of sick people about his own international investigation to “prove” that President Obama was born in Kenya.

Now, how do you think those in power will respond if people across the country begin attempting to exercise local control in their towns and cities?

Yet, people must organize. And take part in their communities, and do things such as vote. But there isn’t a politician in DC who is going to work to de-militarize domestic police forces, under the current circumstances. Hence, the best alternative for patriot citizens today is to organize non-violent groups of activists. And not just the usual folks who are already passionate, and active participants in social-political movements. We need more than that. And I’m not suggesting that anyone pick a fight, or anything like that. But when the people in places like Ferguson are under the gun, we should have thousands of volunteers, from across the country, who head to the hot spot, and “sit-in” peacefully with those people.

Just my opinion.
H2O Man

President Obama and the Michael Brown case

I have noticed that a number of people question why President Obama has not spoken more about the murder of Michael Brown. The reason the president has not done so is simple: he isn’t stupid.

Many of us here are old enough to remember a Monday afternoon in August of 1970 -- August 3rd, actually -- when then-President Richard Nixon spoke to reporters in Denver. Nixon, himself an attorney, used the on-going trial of Charlie Manson & family to try to scold the press. Taking the type of cheap shot that illustrated his hatred for the media, the president accused the media of using their “front pages” daily to present Manson as “a glamorous figure.”

“Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders,” Nixon told reporters. On the record.

That, of course, made the next day’s headlines. And it raised the potential for a mistrial. Although the jury was sequestered, there was a risk that one or more jurors could be exposed to the presidents’ foolish remark.

Indeed, Manson would hold up a copy of the LA Times the following morning, The jury was then voir dired, to evaluate if the process was tainted. (One juror told the judge, “I didn’t vote for him, anyhow”!)

Members of the executive and/or legislative branches are not supposed to voice their opinion of a potential, or on-going, criminal trial. This is President Obama is not speaking about this case specifically.

Carry on.
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