H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
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One of the more common rhetorical errors that supporters of Hillary Clinton make is to dismiss the concerns that others express as rehashes of the old, rabid right-wing attacks on her character from the 1990s. This is a debating tactic that attempts to score points while simultaneously distracting attention from valid concerns that many good Democrats have expressed about Ms. Clinton. The use of that tactic, in the context of the current Democratic primary, can only be attributed to one of two factors. Let’s take a moment to consider each of the two.
The first, and most common, is that the Clinton supporter resorting to this technique recognizes that the opposition has valid concerns, but is unwilling to address them. This suggests the Clinton supporter knows the concern is valid, and potentially harmful to their candidate in the primary. Thus, they attempt to divert attention to the issue, by insulting the intelligence and/or integrity of the people who sincerely pose it.
The second is that the Clinton supporter is unfamiliar with the issue, and in their ignorance, assume it is not valid. Thus, they conclude it must be a republican smear. This illustrates the shortcomings of concrete, binary thinking: one must, by definition, be either pro-Hillary, or a victim of republican propaganda. This brings to mind Mark Twain’s saying that the problem in the world today is not so much one of ignorance, as of people knowing so darned much that just isn’t so.
For sake of discussion, I shall offer myself -- DU’s humble H2O Man -- and two of my concerns about Hillary Clinton, as examples. As I have previously stated, I will support either Democratic candidate who wins our party’s nomination. Yet, I am definitely supporting Bernie Sanders. This is because I prefer his political program, and have great respect for his values and integrity. Now, let’s take a brief glance at those two pesky issues, shall we?
The first is that Hillary Clinton has been a strong advocate of hydro-fracking. I would note that her high-profile advocacy has been in recent times ….not the 1990s. More, relatively few republican officials -- at a local, state, or national level -- oppose fracking. I’ve yet to see a single republican attack Ms. Clinton on this issue. Nor, for that matter, have I seen any large, multi-national “energy” corporation engage in vicious attacks upon her character due to her pro-fracking positions.
The second would be the money that Hillary Clinton made for speaking to Goldman Sachs. This issue includes her refusal to release the transcripts of the speeches. Again, I think we could all agree that the speeches in question took place after Hillary’s time as First Lady. I will speculate, however, that if Hillary is our nominee, the republicans will seek to exploit her refusal to release the transcripts, for republicans have no shame. None.
These are important “values” issues for me. Fracking poses much the same danger to the water that human beings and other living things consume, as the horrors in Flint. Both involve politicians and business interests who are willing to poison human beings for financial gain. And, far too often, the government’s decisions on this issue have been made behind closed doors, in private, off-the-record conversations between politicians and corporations.
It is an issue that I feel strongly about, and not because of any republican propaganda from the 1990s. Or current republican lies, for that matter. Indeed, it is a value that I take full personal responsibility for. I admit to preferring clean water to toxic sludge.
The manner in which I advocate for clean water, however, has been heavily influenced, not by republicans or energy corporations, but by the decades that I served as the top assistant to Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman. In those many years, I saw Paul serve on the Onondaga Nation’s Council of Chiefs; the Haudenosaunee Grand Council of Chiefs (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy); and as the Gauyesa Toyentha in dealings with the United Nations and the rest of the non-Indian world.
Hence, as a few older DU community members may recall, a few years back, I engaged in a hunger strike, in an attempt to convince a state senator to meet with the environmental community to discuss fracking. This fellow, who received many thousands of dollars from the Koch brothers, had dismissed environmentalists -- including scientists at top universities -- as mere tree-huggers. He has since been convicted of political corruption in federal court. His and my value systems were, and are, distinct.
The people who are supporting Bernie Sanders today are, in my opinion, much the same as those who used to come to hear Chief Waterman’s message when we spoke in small towns and large cities, to students and environmentalists, to people who believed that our society needed to change in order to survive. They are the same people who found it unacceptable when a state senator refused to talk to them, but was comfortable as a lap dog for corporate interests. They are people who think for themselves, and act for others.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Feb 19, 2016, 12:55 PM (92 replies)
“Dare to Dream!”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter
The best supervisor that I had in human services told me a story the first day I went to work with him. In the southwest, he said, there was a type of flea that could be trained. If you kept them in a closed jar for a short time, they would quickly come to recognize the lid as representing the highest they could jump. One could thereafter remove the lid, and those fleas would never attempt to jump to its level.
Your job, he said, is to show people how to remove that lid, and not be trapped in life.
I remember that Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered one of our nation’s greatest in Washington, DC. It was titled, “I Have a Dream.” It remains one of the most rational, yet passionate explanations of what this country can be. King’s speech helped define how we want to see the United States.
King’s later speeches -- including his April 4, 1967 “A Time to Break Silence” (aka “Beyond Vietnam”) and his final message, on April 3, 1968 -- elaborate on how we make this powerful dream into a reality.
Many of us still share in this Dream. Indeed, we have since spent the years of our life working towards it. At times, we’ve won; other times, we’ve lost. But we still believe in that Dream. We are believers in the Power of Ideas.
A few years back, when autographing a book for my son, Rubin wrote: “To the Son of my dear friend and brother, Pat -- Dare to Dream! Always. Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.”
Now my son’s generation has taken a close look at the world they inhabit, the one we are leaving them with, and they have been given hope by the Bernie Sanders campaign. And this is powerful. These young adults are not dreaming their lives away. They aren't playing some meaningless game. They are serving as the conscience of this country.
It’s said that a people without dreams has no vision. The Sanders campaign sees that too many Americans are living a cruel nightmare. We are not advocating the every-man-for-himself notion of the tea party. We are not hostile and threatening. We believe in the American Dream that has been crushed in recent decades, by the corporate-political corruption that everyone agrees exists. We know that we have better options.
Dare to Dream!
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Feb 17, 2016, 10:42 AM (38 replies)
One of the most important issues in the 2016 Democratic primary is the relationship between Wall Street and politicians. This includes the large amount of money that large corporations and billionaires contribute to individual political campaigns, either directly or through “Super PACS.” When corporations and billionaires invest in, say, a Willard “Mitt” Romney campaign, we all agree that they are seeking to buy influence, should Romney win.
I will speculate that everyone in the DU community will agree that one of the major differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is that Hillary has a much closer relationship to Wall Street than does Bernie, and that her campaign and Super PAC has received significant donations from large corporations and billionaires. This puts Hillary in line with previous Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama. It is Bernie who is offering the public something different.
In a November debate, Hillary justified her close relationship with Wall Street, by pointing out that, as a Senator from New York State, she was simply trying to help people recover from 9/11. This did not go over particularly well with many people.
At a recent CNN candidates’ forum, when asked why she accepted such a massive fee for speaking to Goldman Sachs, Hillary responded, “Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered.” This, too, failed to address people’s concerns.
Last month, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton was asked if she would release the transcripts from her speeches to Goldman Sachs? At the time, Hillary laughed the question off, as if it were too ridiculous to simply ignore. But that did not quell the growing interest in the transcripts. Recently, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd relayed a viewer’s question -- again, would she release the transcripts? -- and was told by the candidate that she would look into it.
By the following day, it became clear that neither the candidate, nor her campaign, had any interest in releasing the transcripts. Joel Benenson, of the Clinton campaign, told reporters that, “I don’t think voters are interested in the transcripts of her speeches.” (NY Times; 2-5-16) Exactly what he bases this on is unclear. But what has become evident is that the Clinton campaign is not willing to release the transcripts.
Brian Fallon, also of the Clinton campaign, told reporters that, “Bernie Sanders, like Karl Rove before him, is trying to impugn Hillary Clinton’s integrity without any basis in fact.” (NYT; 2-5-16) This is curious, since it was grass roots citizens, and journalists, who have asked Hillary to release the transcripts. Sanders has simply -- and accurately -- pointed out that Ms. Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs for enormous sums of money. Such fees, as well as campaign and Super Pac contributions, are most obviously attempts to influence any candidate who gets them.
Hillary Clinton, at her best, has asked for people to identify any one piece of legislation that she was influenced on by such gifts. Many intelligent people recognize that this influence isn’t going to be identified in one changed vote, but rather in her patterns of voting. More, if there’s absolutely no evidence of a close relationship to be found in those transcripts, why not simply release them now?
To be fair, this isn’t in league with Richard Nixon refusing to turn over the Watergate tapes. There is nothing illegal about making $600,000 by talking with Goldman Sachs. Rather, it appears more like Mitt Romney’s refusal to make his financial records public. Or VP Dick Cheney’s insisting on keeping his meeting with energy corporations secret.
I can appreciate that, if the Clinton campaign reviewed the transcripts and found nothing that suggests an all-too-cozy relationship between Hillary and Goldman Sachs, that they might conclude releasing the transcripts would only lead to the opposition -- including the republicans, should Clinton win the nomination -- to attempt to twist anything and everything else she said, to their advantage. For example, Hillary spoke about her impressions, from her time as Secretary of State, of the global community.
Yet, her experience as Secretary of State would seem to be something open to the public. These experiences were the subject of her 2014 book, “Hard Choices.” Having read that book, I can say that it went into great detail …..likely more detail than a speech could address. Hence, intelligent people are questioning what exactly do those transcripts reveal?
Obviously, if Hillary is our party’s nominee, the republicans will use her refusal to release the transcripts against her. The media will definitely highlight this. It will add to the republican talking point that Clinton is secretive, and untrustworthy. Her refusal, and her campaign’s attempts to gloss over the issue, are by definition “unforced errors.” They have already missed the opportunity to get out in front of a character issue.
All Democrats -- be they for Bernie, for Hillary, or undecided -- should want the Clinton campaign to release the transcripts. Now. Not later ….say, during the general election. If one is pro-Hillary, and wants to let the air out of the Sanders revolution, release the transcripts, to prove there is nothing questionable in them. If you are pro-Bernie, and want to do something revolutionary, start contacting the media -- be it letters-to-the-editor of your local newspaper, or e-mailing various shows on MSNBC -- and demand that the transcripts be made public.
I’ve noted several times on this forum that I support Bernie Sanders, though if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, I will campaign and vote for her. My ability to do so effectively will depend upon how the candidate and her campaign handle issues such as this. Thank you for reading this, and I will be interested in responses from people, no matter if they agree or disagree with me on this.
Posted by H2O Man | Tue Feb 16, 2016, 01:06 PM (13 replies)
One of the most interesting dynamics of election contests -- be they primaries or general elections -- is how campaigns adjust their tactics. Being the “front-runner” is very different from being at the back of a pack. When we look at the current republican primary, we see shifts in who will attack who, in hopes of gaining a strategic advantage. And in the Democratic primary, we have witnessed a change in tactics, for a reason that was highlighted by a recent poll.
Attacking your opponent’s strength can be a winning campaign technique. In recent times, of course, Karl Rove attempted to claim this tactic as his original brain-child. The republican Pillsbury doughboy’s lack of any meaningful success since 2004 suggests that Karl understood “how,” but not “why,” this tactic can succeed. Indeed, it can also fail.
A Quinnipiac poll from the recent Iowa primary contest showed that 93% of Democrats view Bernie Sanders as “honest and trustworthy.” While Hillary Clinton won the Iowa contest, it was so close as to be a virtual tie. Hence, the “honest and trustworthy” character traits associated in the public’s mind were identified as the strength that needed to be attacked.
In a general election for the Oval Office, it frequently falls upon the vice presidential candidate to be the attack dog. This has been best illustrated, over the decades, by some of the republican VP candidates -- Nixon in the 1950s, Agnew under Nixon, Bob Dole, and Sarah Palin all come to mind. But, in a primary contest, it is usually better to have the campaign, rather than the candidate, go on the offensive. (Donald Trump is clearly an exception to this rule, which serves as an accurate measure of how dysfunctional the republican party is in 2016.)
To a small extent, both Sanders and Clinton have confronted one another during their debates. Bernie has spoken of Hillary’s “Super Pac,” in the context of it being evidence that she is part of the political establishment that is corrupted by Wall Street. Hillary has attempted to frame this as a smear campaign. Another debate topic came from a non-debate question a journalist asked Bernie: Is Hillary a progressive? Sanders’s answer was based upon Clinton’s telling certain audiences that she is a moderate, centrist Democrat. Her response was to falsely claim that Sanders had appointed himself “keeper of the gate” for defining who is progressive -- something that is pure fiction.
Going into New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton was gaining the endorsements of numerous good, high-profile Democrats. However, while this is effective in some circles, it cemented her image of being an establishment candidate in other circles. More, the fact that Bernie identifies as a Democratic Socialist -- which had been considered his greatest weakness -- was proving to be a strength, when the public learned what that actually implies.
Hence, we are seeing the Clinton campaign go after Sanders on issues relating to his honesty and trustworthiness. This comes as no surprise, as it was easily anticipated. A first step in attacking a person’s character is to attempt to make them appear “different.” Like the infamous “Dean scream” made Howard seem a bit odd. Thus, part of the recent post-debate spin includes “did you see how often Bernie waves a hand while Hillary is answering a question?” Or, the focus on Bernie’s attempt to get in “the last word” on certain questions. Gosh! You’d think he was running for office, or something.
The new low-point that the Clinton campaign has plunged to has been its attempt to discredit Sanders’s history with the Civil Rights movement. Sanders, of course, has never claimed that he was a leader in the movement. Rather, he was one of the thousands of people who put himself on the line -- even getting arrested -- during the struggle.
This Clinton campaign tactic is as unethical as anything the 2000 Bush campaign employed against McCain in South Carolina. Even when exposed, it did not hurt Bush back then, because their party values a good lie over ethics every time. But it may not play as well within the 2016 Democratic primaries. As the public learns that the Clinton campaign will stoop to low blows about an issue as important as Civil Rights, it just might backfire.
Keep on fighting the Good Fight!
Posted by H2O Man | Mon Feb 15, 2016, 01:41 PM (57 replies)
Years ago, I attended a wedding of a cousin-in-law. He was, at the time, an attorney in an area prosecutor’s office. Hence, at both the ceremony and reception, there were numerous lawyers. I noticed, at the reception, that they had gathered in one room -- some who practiced civil law, some defense lawyers, some prosecutors, and even a couple of judges. I thought it was interesting that they had secluded themselves in one room, and that no one who hadn’t passed the bar ventured in there.
Being a man of few social graces, and no sense of boundaries, I walked in and found a seat. All discussion in the room came to an abrupt halt upon my entering the room. It remained silent for a moment after I sat down. I noticed that all of “the boys” were looking at me. Hence, I considered the possibility that it was my presence that resulted in the deafening silence.
I had been looking at a house and property that was going for sale. The previous inhabitant had moved to Florida. The bank that held the mortgage was looking to make their money back. I knew that in upstate New York, lawyers frequently purchased such properties for a large discount, and either turned them into rental properties, or re-sold them for a hefty profit. That was the way the game was played. Indeed, in discussing this property, there were a couple of gentlemen who were aware of it.
Thus, I said that I wanted to be dealt in on this one hand. I said that I wanted to raise my children in that house. I wasn’t interest in becoming a land lord, or in selling property. So I politely requested that they not compete against me on this one place. I said that I wanted to be dealt in on this one hand, and this hand only. They all were good with that.
When I bought the house -- which I’ve called “home” ever since -- I got a loan through HUD. At the time, HUD had a well-deserved reputation for corruption. The lawyers from HUD actually did attempt to strong-arm me for additional cash for the closing, literally the night before we were set to sign the paper work. I knew they were full of shit, and called them on it the next morning.
While I don’t mistake myself for an ”expert,” I knew the rules of the game. For example, I didn’t need to hire my own attorney on the closing; the attorney for the bank could represent my interests, without any conflict of interests. By the time the closing ended, the attorney for the bank -- who had been in that room at the reception -- offered me a job as a para-legal at his law office. But that’s not why I’ve told this true story.
Lawyers, even if they oppose each other in a criminal trial, are all officers of the court. They are loyal to the court system. They identify with that status -- even when socializing at wedding receptions, for example. I remember talking about this with a good friend and co-worker at the mental health clinic. He told me about how, after lunch-time basketball games at the YMCA, he would overhear different lawyers cutting deals on cases in the locker room.
Many, though not all, of our elected representatives in Washington, DC, are lawyers. But, they are usually loyal to a different club, the House and/or Senate. They may be opposed to one another at work -- both before and after lunch -- but they all recognize that they belong to an elite institution. (It is true, however, that many reject the wining-and-dining that used to be common after the sun goes down. But, I suppose, you can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to hang out with Ted Cruz, right?)
Now, please don’t get me wrong here. I know that this social dynamic isn’t limited to lawyers and politicians. Law enforcement, for example, seems to encourage socializing with others in the same field. But limiting your social circle in such a manner can lead to equally limited thinking. More, it can impact behaviors, due to an “us vs. them” mentality.
This may be pure speculation upon my part, but I think that some of the hostility that we see on the part of establishment Democrats towards Bernie Sanders is related to this type of socialization. And that includes the behaviors of some of the very good people who are part of the establishment. Does that make sense?
A lot of our elder statesmen and stateswomen have had long, solid, and respectable careers -- often including their histories before they became politicians. And that’s a good thing, and honorable. We need more good people to, like them, enter politics, and to become part of the establishment. That’s essential, including for minority communities, and really for all of us. For example, while I identify as a white male, I benefit from having diverse people in government, obviously included both non-whites and females. It surely isn’t the same benefits that advocates of all-white, all-male government were (and are) after. For social justice has never been on their agenda.
Yet, even at his age, Bernie is still fighting for social justice, and looking for our country to accomplish those goals he had identified in his early adulthood. And he’s a man of the common people, rather than a member of an elitist social club. As he recently noted, he is not good friends with Henry Kissinger, or his ilk, people who are members ingood standing within that club.
We want the good cops to prevent the bad cops from having a badge and gun. Likewise, we want good politicians to identify the ethically diseased ones within their ranks. The scum intheir club.
More, Bernie is vocal about the corruption in politics. That corruption includes large sums of money. As a common citizen, I understand why people both need and like money. And that big money has, unfortunately, been connected with getting elected and re-elected. And that the circle of government, lobbying, and the corporate world provides temptations ….and if one is looking to earn real money, it can be easy to justify cozy relationships with those advocating deals that profit everyone -- in the club. I get that.
But for those who follow this well-worn path, it must sting to see Bernie campaigning for president in the way he does ….exposing that corruption. Especially because when the public hears Bernie speak, they know he is telling the truth, and if enough people really listen to him, it will mean serious changes in the game. there are going to be a lot of registered voters, saying that they want to be dealt in on this hand in the game of politics.
A lot of people don’t want the rules of the game to change. And why would they? For they are comfortable with things being just the way that they are.
But there are more of us, than of them. It’s as simple as that.
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Feb 13, 2016, 07:16 PM (38 replies)
I attended an afternoon meeting with a handful of people from the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left. As might be expected, part of the discussion centered upon the Democratic primary contest. Of particular interest, of course, was last night’s debate.
One gentleman -- who is of my generation -- began discussing the outfit that Hillary Clinton wore last night. A young man, who is a college student, cut that discussion off quickly. He supports Bernie Sanders, he said, but not because he didn’t respect Hillary Clinton. In fact, he said that he hoped everyone would be respectful enough to not think of outfits and the like as campaign issues.
Everyone agreed that he was correct.
This young generation! There are a lot of powerful agents of change there!
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 07:46 PM (17 replies)
“I’m not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”
-- Adlai Stevenson
Throughout the day, and especially during last night’s debate, I found myself thinking of Adlai Stevenson. Older forum members will recall Adlai as a good man, an intellectual Democrat who twice was our party’s nominee for president. Unfortunately for him, those runs were in 1952 and ‘56, when he opposed Dwight Eisenhower, a symbol of American strength. For Adlai and his strong supporters, this was frustrating, for surely he had the background and experience to make him superior in qualifications to serve as Chief Executive.
However, in both elections, people voted with their hearts, not their minds, and twice put Ike in office. Adding insult to injury, this placed Richard Nixon a heart-beat away from the Oval Office. Indeed, Nixon was a central theme in Adlai’s 1956 campaign.
Early in the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton was positioned as the party’s inevitable nominee. As 2007 turned to 2008, there were a couple capable candidates running against her, that her campaign took seriously. But Senator Barack Obama was not considered a real threat. In a relatively short time, however, it was evident that the Clinton campaign had underestimated Obama.
The Clinton campaign and its strongest supporters believed that people were voting with their hearts, and not their heads, and thus were going to nominate a candidate who could not possibly win the general election.
When Bernie Sanders entered the 2016 Democratic primaries last year, the Clinton campaign did not view him as a serious threat. Again, they believed her securing our party’s nomination was inevitable. Those few candidates who might have provided more serious primary competition had opted to not run. For a variety of reasons, it was assumed that Sanders was intent upon making a symbolic run, in an attempt to bring Hillary a little to the left.
By now, it is clear that the Sanders campaign has the potential to defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. There is a Shakespearean flavor to the primary dynamics. First, while she was First Lady, Hillary was viciously attacked by rabid republicans as a Marxist; now, a self-identified socialist virtually ties her in Iowa, then wins in a New Hampshire landslide. More, Sanders campaign is fueled not only by passionate young adults -- vital to the Obama coalition’s victories -- but also by women.
The frustrated response to this has been given voice by a couple of high-profile Hillary supporters, who speak of things such as “the hottest places in hell,” and “where the boys are.” The bitterness was also expressed, in an article that was featured in a DU:GDP OP recently, by a university professor with very real political experience. She spoke of the betrayal of women who would vote for Bernie, noting that this was the second time a charismatic male threatened to defeat Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
I do not doubt that Hillary Clinton can win the nomination. But I am concerned that her campaign is being run by people who are intent upon winning, even if in doing so, they show they are not worthy of winning.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 12:12 PM (10 replies)
I really enjoyed tonight's debate. I think that Bernie Sanders had his best performance to date. It seems to be that he is becoming a stronger candidate, and the timing couldn't be better.
My favorite part was when he talked about Henry Kissinger. That was wonderful. The second-best thing was when he said that we shouldn't insult the American public's intelligence, by pretending that campaign contributions from billionaires and multi-national corporations are anything but influence-buying.
I hope that everyone enjoyed the debate!
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 12:06 AM (62 replies)
“I count no sacrifice too great for seeing God face-to-face. The whole of my activity, be it called social, political, humanitarian, or ethical, is directed to that end. And as I know that God is found more often in the lowliest of his creatures than in the high and mighty, I am struggling to reach the status of these. I cannot do so without their service. Hence, my passion for the service of the suppressed classes. And as I cannot render this service without entering politics, I find myself in them.”
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi
In a recent campaign event, Bernie Sanders was asked about his religious/ spiritual belief system. He gave an intense answer, with none of the plastic that we can normally expect from a candidate running to be president. The same people who insist that President Obama is an Islamic atheist will, of course, attempt to attack Sanders for his heritage and religion; however, rational people found his integrity as a human being to be reassuring.
The Constitution contains what is known as the “No Religious Test Clause,” or Article VI, Clause 3. It is pretty clear: “…; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Still, not all self-proclaimed patriots are interested in what the Constitution says.
The topic of religion and politics always involves some degree of tension. In today’s world, there are numerous examples of intolerance and violence upon the part of those who wish to inflict their religion upon others. And our nation has a history of denying human rights to groups of people, based upon the religious ideology of the majority. Thus, every time a republican states, inaccurately, that we are a “Christian nation,” it’s cause for concern. For the republican goal is to deny human rights to those who do not share their particular belief system.
Martin Luther King, Jr., as we know, was a registered republican up until the 1960 presidential election. His father was, too. But in that year, King recognized that a Kennedy administration offered greater promise to the Civil Rights movement. His ministry -- particularly in the 1960s -- offers us a powerful example of the proper relationship between a person practicing their own religion, while being active in social-political issues. For King wasn’t seeking to restrict anyone’s rights -- he was attempting to expand everyone’s rights as American citizens. And that, to me, is the difference between sugar and shit.
Yet, King faced fierce opposition …..primarily from Christians. Much of it was quite simply due to gross racism. But a significant amount of his opposition was because he was considered to be a socialist. And, in fact, he was. However, he was not attracted to the Soviet model, which was actually a form of limited state capitalism, or to “Red” China’s authoritarian version. King looked to the advances being made in European nations with mixed economies.
I was fortunate, as a youth, to have a mentor who had been friends with King. My friend had also been acquainted with Malcolm X, who by no coincidence had also begun to lean towards socialism in his final years of life. Years ago, when the movie “The Hurricane” came out, I showed some of Rubin’s letters, from while he was incarcerated, to co-workers at the mental health clinic. I remember one, who had studied to be a Jesuit, saying, “Oh, cool. Liberation theology.” (I would introduce several of my co-workers to Rubin back then, too.)
In sociological studies, “liberation theology” is usually described as having its roots in the Catholic Church, and being prominent in Central American’s struggle to gain freedom in the 1980s. That’s accurate for the Christian strain, though its actual history goes back much further. More, it is not dependant upon “religion” -- Rubin, for but one example, was an atheist. He reminded me, somewhat, of Carl Sagan, in that he didn’t discount the possibility of “God,” but thought that the general description, or definition, that most people accepted was not only restrictive and inaccurate, but frequently presented a stumbling block to individual and group growth and human progress.
As an old man who favors liberation theology, I find the Bernie Sanders campaign to offer the greatest promise for advances in the quality of human life, here in the United States, on planet earth. The time for this is now, not in the afterlife. Like Rubin, I believe in science, and am convinced, for example, that advances in modern medicine are miracles. I do not believe that such miracles should be granted to the highest bidder, any more than I think that rights to water and air are the private property of large corporations.
I know that this universe -- which is a miracle -- is billions of years old. I recognize that the earth is not the exact center of the universe, at least not to anyone not inhabiting the earth. From my house, I can hear a nearby creek running, especially after a hard rain; I recognize that as true power. I know that all life on earth -- including the family tree that led to modern humans -- originated in the great oceans. And I know that climate change is a reality, and that our current global crises relating to climate change is a result of our ignorant and greedy destruction of the natural world.
What type of Democratic socialist who practices liberation theology supports Bernie Sanders, you ask? To provide an answer worthy of the DU community, I find I must quote from James Simon Kunen’s classic, “The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary” (Avon Books; 1969):
“ ….I, for one, strongly support trees (and, in the larger sense, forests), flowers, mountains and hills; also, valleys, the ocean, wiliness (when used for good), good, little children, tremendous, record-setting snowstorms, hurricanes, swimming underwater, nice policemen, unicorns, extra-inning ball games up to twelve innings, pneumatic jackhammers (when they’re not too close), the dunes in North Truro on Cap Cod, liberalized abortion laws, and Raggedy Ann dolls, among other things.” (page 10)
Kunen listed things he disliked, including three that he was working to change: racism, poverty, and war
The Sanders campaign provides us with the opportunity to institute serious changes in our society. In part, it has the promise of combating the “-isms” that are social pathologies, and which crush human lives. And, in part, it provides fertile ground for every person to reach their full potential. To reach that potential, people need access to education and health care. And that’s why I support Bernie Sanders for president.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Feb 11, 2016, 02:39 PM (6 replies)
“The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yesterday’s New Hampshire primary contests marked, in a very public way, the beginning of a significant shift in the political landscape. This does not mean the movement creating that shift is new; quite the opposite: such movements are always deeply rooted in the American experience. Take, for example, the concept of “social justice” -- a term currently applied to the economics of education and healthcare, among other things -- which can be traced back to the 1840s.
We find such a shift occurring in the early 1800’s, when our nation shifted from being a Constitutional Republic, to a Constitutional Democracy. An important documentation of that shift is found in Sean Wilentz’s “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln” ( W.W. Norton & Co; 2005):
“Important elements of democracy existed in the infant American republic of the 1780s, but the republic was not democratic. Nor, in the minds of those who governed it, was it supposed to be. A republic -- the res publica, or ’public thing’ -- was meant to secure the common good through the ministrations of the most worthy, enlightened men. A democracy -- derived from demos krato, ’rule of the people’ -- dangerously handed power to the impassioned, unenlightened masses.” -- page xvii.
Though the political parties that take the names “Democratic” and “republican” have undergone changes over their many years of existence, today they both tend to offer those two very different options for leadership -- rule by “elites” versus rule of the people. Thus, it comes as no surprise when a republican such as Antonin Scalia -- speaking to a private group --states that democracy “obscures the divine authority behind government,” since divinely-inspired law demands that our nation’s elite rule. (Kevin Phillips; American Dynasty; Viking; 2004; pages 107-8).
That “divine authority” must, by definition, demands the worship of the dollar. Surely, the current republicans do not look to the most “worthy, enlightened” for leadership on global warming, or they’d listen to scientists. Instead, they look to the very corporate leaders who are most responsible for the gross destruction of the living environment. That’s the same as looking to the tobacco industry to evaluate the risks of smoking.
Bernie Sanders has noted that a handful of billionaires exercise control over the political life in the United States. The US Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the right to “free speech,” meaning they can buy elections. I think that every member of the DU community recognizes that this represents the greatest threat to democracy in our country. And, of course, by controlling government, that elite group rules in economic matters. That’s a level of power that few would hand over, without a struggle.
The last American who threatened the political and economic power of the elite was Martin Luther King, Jr. There were, of course, plenty of people who hated him when he was struggling for Civil Rights. Some of them wanted to kill him. Yet, when King expanded his ministry in 1967 and ’68, he faced new opposition. The 1% didn’t care if King could drink coffee at a counter, or use any men’s public restroom. They don’t drink coffee at lunch-counters.
Without addressing the last day of King’s life -- and please do not do so here -- it is now well-documented that Army Intelligence was following King around the US, including at Memphis. More, on the floor of the US Senate, Robert Byrd advocated that King be incarcerated, before he could lead his proposed “Poor People’s Campaign” in Washington, DC. Neither Army Intelligence or Senator Byrd was freaking out because they thought King might drink coffee and pee in a public restroom. No, they were in favor of utterly violating the Constitution of the United States, because they were convinced that King’s movement for social justice posed a threat to the economic dictatorship of the 1%.
Sanders’s proposals, like King’s, are revolutionary. Now, as we know, the elites are not opposed to “revolution.” They still benefit from the evils of the “Reagan Revolution.” For that revolution shifted the economic power of America’s middle class to the 1%’s account books. But they are damned sure opposed to shifting the power back to the citizens of the United States. Indeed, they are the most class-conscious group in America, and they want to continue to impose rules that only allow their side to engage in class warfare.
They were panicked by “Occupy” -- which was a modern version of King’s “Poor People’s Campaign.” It is an error to underestimate the power of the Occupy movement. Or, the response to it. It’s no coincidence that many of the early supporters of Bernie’s campaign were activists involved in Occupy across the country.
Yesterday’s New Hampshire primary was extremely important. It’s not just the Clinton campaign that is concerned about the Sanders movement’s growing power. The marionettes that pull the strings on republican politicians can say that they’d love to run against Bernie in the fall, but that absolutely is not true. They don’t need a Fox talking head to know which way the winds blow.
We need to keep our eyes on the prize. Keep fighting the Good Fight. I know some of us here will continue to campaign for Hillary, and some for Bernie. And that’s good. Let’s keep doing as our conscience dictates, no matter which candidate we support in the primaries. And we can actually do that, without attacking the character of the other candidate, or those supporting their campaign. In fact, we can do a better job of advocating for our favored candidate, if we avoid the temptation to take a shot at the other campaign.
No matter which candidate wins the primary, at the Democratic National Convention, both are going to have a say. And each will be speaking from a position of power. For in the final analysis, we aren’t in a position to turn our backs on each other. There is a shift of power going on in this country, that demands our best efforts to succeed.
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Feb 10, 2016, 03:06 PM (30 replies)