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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 52,379

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Your Opinion, Please (H2O Man Survey #24)

Question: Do you think that the people on Fox News actually believe the things they say?


Context: Last night, I was hoping to catch up on the weekend’s “news.” MSNBC had on re-runs of shows about incarceration; CNN was running a program on Whitney Houston. I hesitated, but then clicked on Fox News. Yikes!

The host of the program was Lauren Green. For the approximate three minutes that I watched her show, I noted that she spoke in a manner intended to de-humanize the population in Iraq and Syria that is known as ISIS. To be clear, I find the beliefs of that group offensive, and their behaviors to be horrifying. I do not pretend to know the answer to how to stop the gross violence in their territory, or the rest of the Middle East. Yet, I question the benefits accrued in identifying any population as less than human.

Because I watch Fox News less than a half-hour per year, I am not familiar with many of that network’s hosts. In fact, my impression tends to be that the network is the host, and that individuals like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are (human) parasites that feed upon its audience’s ignorance and fears. The network’s ratings serve as an imperfect measure of our social pathology.

However, even after turning the television off, something about the vacant look in Ms. Green’s eyes had caught my attention. Then I remembered seeing a clip of her interviewing Reza Aslan on his book “Zealot.” Non-Fox news sources had played clips of her 2013 attempt to attack Aslan, and exposing her own utter ignorance on the topics at hand.

It’s interesting -- to me, anyhow -- that if it were in the context of an American courtroom, Aslan would be qualified to express an opinion about the topic of his book, but Green would not be. Indeed, her beliefs would be deemed a “bias,” rather than an “opinion.” Yet, in the American media, which often presents as the witness stand in the court of public opinion, she is able to channel her bias to a segment of the public that believes her position reflects some type of expertise. (To be fair, she could qualify as an expert witness on piano, while Aslan could not.)

Yet, Ms. Green believed that, despite his advanced degrees in religious studies, Aslan was disqualified from expressing his thoughts on the historic figure Jesus, because he is Islamic. I suspect that narrow thinking influences her beliefs on everything else going on in the Middle East. Thus, I think she is sincere in her ignorance, fears, and hatred.

Water Cycle Weekend

Some of the more interesting discussions on DU:GD involve the connections between the worlds of politics, social dynamics, science, and religion. An example of this would be the conversations on ISIS, which is, to various extents, more about the politics of war, and economics, than about religion per se. Obviously, aspects of people’s interpretation of the religion of Islam come into play; yet these discussions belong on DU:GD, rather than the DU religious forums, because they are focused on current events in the Middle East, as well as the US involvement in Syria and Iraq.

In the years that I have participated on this forum, I’ve occasionally expressed my belief in the tactics of Gandhi. He was, of course, a lawyer, who believed that the legal system could be used to bring about social justice. Although not formally trained in science, he identified his social-political campaigns as “experiments.” To be fair, Gandhi did express concerns about some advances in technology ; to be accurate, those concerns were focused on three things: the threats posed by atomic bombs; the use of technology to exploit other groups of people; and the potential de-humanizing effects of some technologies.

Gandhi’s campaigns were experiments with what he believed to be Truth. We know that he frequently said, “Truth is God” -- which is distinct from “God is Truth” -- which defined the pathways he believed could bring humanity to higher ground. In many ways, Gandhi lived in the context of his Hindu belief system, yet he often went beyond what was the accepted traditions of his day. The example that illustrated his greatest insight was Gandhi’s recognizing that “God” was most commonly found within the outcasts who were marginalized by society. These two concepts, united with active non-violence, united Gandhi’s social, political, economic, and spiritual beliefs.

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No two historical eras are exactly the same, yet one can learn from history. An interesting example of this might be when we consider the nation of “Iraq.” It was not a nation per say; rather, it was a western concept created after WW!. Indeed, it was a League of Nations mandate, known as the State of Iraq, created to allow the British Empire to exploit its people and natural resources.

In that sense, it isn’t a distinct era from Gandhi’s last experiment in Truth. This resulted from when the British Empire was forced to recognize India’s independence. In the British attempt to maintain as much control as possible, they sought to divide that ancient land into two (or more) different nations -- India and what would become Pakistan -- based upon religious tensions. This is not to suggest that England alone was responsible for all tensions between Hindu and Muslim peoples there. But it was absolutely an effort to exploit those tensions.

Gandhi, as we know, went on his most dangerous and physically damaging fast in an attempt to convince the people to cease killing one another. He would also journey to Delhi and surrounding areas, to commune with the poor as well as the rich, in his effort to create the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood of man. In a relatively short time, his campaign was proving highly successful. Hence, those who sought to capitalize on the hatreds and violence -- a group that included politicians, police, and others in the ruling class -- allowed the right-wing of the Hindu political powers to murder the Mahatma.

Around the time that I joined this forum (2003), my friend Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter called me from the Middle East. Some of you may recall my writing about this previously. Rubin was there with Nelson Mandela, attempting to communicate a message of Truth to leaders in that area, to help them resist the violence brought by Bush and Cheney, which had unleashed more hatred and violence between populations in Iraq and beyond. Such efforts at peace-making remain at most a footnote today -- few Americans are aware of them -- because those seeking to capitalize on the resources of that region are invested in on-going violence.

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Yesterday, as I sat where I am sitting today, typing a letter to my closest associate/ lady friend, I watched the winter precipitation outside my window. I have a huge pile of water covering my property now, which will continue to get deeper through Monday afternoon. It’s cold enough now that the molecules of water are moving so slowly, that I have to shovel them to make use of my driveway.

I told her about one of my favorite sayings from Gandhi: how a drop in the ocean partakes in the greatness of its parent; yet it risks drying up if it seeks an existence on its own. I thought back to when I was in the second grade, and first learned the science of the water cycle. At risk of exposing myself as the simpleton I am, I still marvel at that miraculous water cycle.

I told her about Rubin’s “discovery” that the Earth was a living entity -- something my culture has always known and respected -- and that all organic life on Earth, including humanity, exists for the purpose of the Earth. Our blood stream flows much as the Earth’s waters, without our conscious mind having to think to make our heart beat. Our lungs breath with the atmosphere, again without our thinking about it. We are expressions of the Earth, and of the Universe that scientists study and explore, using the conscious parts of their brains. Many of us also study various sciences, perhaps for work, often for the pleasure of learning from great minds. The sum-total of knowledge gained by scientists who study the Earth, the Universe, humans, our hearts, brains, lungs, etc., has provided huge benefits to everyone, no matter what level of understanding they may have.

The great people in human history -- from distant eras and locations -- known as the Enlightened Ones, have all laid out general guidelines for growth in understanding, and hence, the potential for behaving in a rational, ethical manner. They often use devices such as fables, myths, and parables to teach those of lesser understanding -- just as scientists have to explain complex principles in more easily grasped terms to people like me.

Thomas Merton noted (in his book on Gandhi) that if the higher ethical standards of the Enlightened Ones is combined with the technological genius of scientists, human progress is made. When an opposite happens, and for example people of low moral standards misuse technology, you have George Bush and Dick Cheney invading Iraq, or the brutal acts of ISIS. Or you have people hating and assaulting those of different ethnic backgrounds, skin-colors, sexual identities, gender, or religious belief systems. You could even end up with 1% of a diverse population in control of the entire economic system, and even identifying themselves as leaders of a Christian nation.

One option that we all have is embracing anger, bitterness, hatred, and violence, and aiming our wrath at those who are different than ourselves. Perhaps they think differently. What Gandhi attempted to teach the Muslim and Hindu people in Delhi was to see each other as expressions of the Universe, part of that large and mysterious life-force. Even if their thinking suggests that they are not fully conscious, but are instead behaving as organic machines, to recognize that spark within them.

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A light snow continues to fall. I like to go for walks with my dogs, out in the fields, and in the woods. It is so quiet in the woods when it snows. I love that silence. However, I do look forward to the warm weather returning. I love to sit in the sun light, on one of the huge rocks next to the water falls, listening to that part of the water cycle, while I either meditate or talk with my lady friend.

State of the Union

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
-- U.S. Constitution; Article II, Section 3


I’ve been watching “State of the Union” addresses for as long as I can remember. At their best, they combine form and substance: all three branches of the federal government gathered for a purpose outlined in the Constitution; FDR’s “Four Freedoms,” and LBJ’s “Great Society.”

At their worst, they feature the farce of Ronald Reagan, or the deformed lies of George W. Bush. As much as I knew that watching Reagan or Bush would result in frustration, I still watched them. Reagan, I believe, knew that he was an actor delivering lines; Bush believed that he was The Man.

There is, obviously, more than a bit of theater involved in State of the Union addresses. Yet that does not necessarily take away from their importance. In a very real sense, they remind me of the closing arguments delivered by prosecutors and defense attorneys in important trials. The formality of the setting, and the attention being paid to the speech, are part of the reason why.

More, no matter if a person is a judge, a prosecutor, or a defense attorney, they are an “officer of the court.” They have pledged an allegiance to the court system, that in theory dictates their behaviors within the process of a trial. For most of our nation’s history, the court system was primarily a white gentlemen’s debating society. A William Kunstler was rare, indeed.

Likewise, the U.S. Senate was -- with some important exceptions -- also a white gentlemen’s debating society. Members of this elite society had a allegiance to maintaining it as a “noble” institution. This has traditionally been less true of the House of Representatives, although it, too, has historically been populated by a very limited selection of the American public. And, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court has a similar history, though it has tended to operate largely as a “secret society.”

Joseph McCarthy remains the poster child for those who violate the accepted, if unofficial, rules of decorum in such gentlemen’s societies. His behavior shocked and offended other club members, reaching a point where the Senate finally castrated him. Today, of course, we see Senator Ted Cruz aping the McCarthy persona, but not quite daring to cross the ill-defined line that could end his career.

In a very real sense, I thought that President Obama’s address last night ranked among the very best of my life-time. It was solid in form and substance. In fact, it was solid enough that one could ask if, considering what the make-up of the House and Senate will be, it can possibly be translated into anything more than the 2016 democratic candidates’ platform? For in truth, we have two houses of Congress inhabited by people of low ethical standards, who have pledged their allegiance to corporations and the 1%.

Yet I do not think the current situation is hopeless -- because I know that the grass roots are not helpless. I am convinced that this nation can make progress towards the basic goals that the president identified last night: strengthening and enlarging the “middle calls,” while empowering the lower economic class. I know that will be difficult, and that Congress will oppose any meaningful efforts at reform. But we can achieve success, not because of the corporate-congress complex, but in spite of it.

Earlier this week, we honored the memory of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. He provided us with the model that we need to be using today: voter registration, public education, and active non-violent civic participation. It’s not a mystery. It won’t happen by way of wringing our hands, and saying it’s impossible. Change won’t happen by way of identifying this generation’s Martin, and looking for someone else to do for us what we need to be doing for ourselves. And it surely won’t come about because of the patriotism and moral fiber of those in Washington, DC. That ain’t going to happen.

But it can happen if the good people in America make it happen. That’s the only way.

Peace,
H2O Man

Happy MLK Day

Happy “Martin Luther King Day”!

I recently had a young man ask me what book I thought was the most important to read, in order to “really understand” Dr. King? Now, that is an interesting question. I have a rather large “King” section in my library -- books by King, about King, and others in which, while he is not the central figure, his influence is felt throughout. I’ve also collected, over the years, a substantial number of newspaper and magazine articles about King. And I have an old record album of highlights of his speeches.

His best-know writing would be the letter from the Birmingham jail; his most famous speech is the “I Have a Dream” from Washington, DC. Yet, even in these cases, the majority of Americans are primarily familiar with highlights, rather than the full message. Both of these messages are extremely important -- so much so, in my opinion, that is essential that people study them in their entirety. This includes placing them correctly within the context of his other lesser-know, but equally important messages to America.

Anything less actually promotes the marginalizing of King’s life, and helping to create the “safe” version of Martin. The plaster-of-paris saint that never existed. A non-threatening black leader who wanted nothing more than full access to public drinking fountains and toilets. The chocolate Easter bunny: sweet on the outside, but hollow under that thin surface.

Tavis Smiley’s 2014 book, “Death of a King,” challenged that image. The author focused on the last year of King’s life -- a year in which King told America that the only way to make a dream into reality was to wake up, and take the bold, often dangerous steps towards that goal. And, as Smiley documents, a good many people rejected King’s message, and King himself, in those last twelve months of his life. This included not only his enemies and critics, but also many of those who had been part of the Civil Rights movement along side of King.

It would be easy to mistakenly believe that Martin became “militant” as a result of his life experiences in the mid-1960s. However, if one takes the time needed to study King’s thinking while he was a university student -- something that the FBI certainly did -- it becomes obvious that even as a young man, Martin Luther King was far more militant in his thinking than the image of him in Birmingham or Selma portrayed.

Thus, I told the young man who asked my opinion regarding which King book is most important to read, that there is no single answer to that. The 1986 collection of his speeches and writings, “A Testament of Hope,” is a great starting point. But to truly honor King, in a way that opens the possibility of our “waking up America” in order to make his dream real, we should be engaging in an on-going study of his life’s works.

Peace,
H2O Man

Aesop Story

“Living Christ means a living cross; without it, life is a living death.”
-- Gandhi


Many years ago, I used the above Gandhi quote in a DU:GD discussion about the role of “religion” in “politics.” I do so again today, not in an attempt to discuss religion per say, but rather, as a contribution to the current discussion about the tensions between religion and politics. Hence, my OP is consciously intended for a DU:GD discussion, as opposed to a DU religion/ spirituality commentary.

Call this mere speculation on my part, if you will, but I think that most DU community members recognize that individuals such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., made important contributions to the political world that they inhabited. Even if a person strongly disagrees with the stances they took, or some other aspect of their life -- including their religions -- it should be apparent that they made influential contributions to their nations. More, it is obvious that their personal belief systems influenced their long-term goals, as well as the approaches each took to attempt to reach those goals.

It is also true that “religion” and religious people have been among the most serious of threats to various societies. That definitely has been the case in the United States, from 1776 to the present. The connection between religion and the vicious acts in Paris serve as a reminder of how dangerous and explosive the combination of religion and politics can be.

Indeed, both religion and politics have the inherent potential for violence. This alone does not mean that either are “bad,” in and of themselves. It does mean that each has the potential for being used for good or for bad. It is how people channel their internal being, as individuals and as groups, that determines the potential outcomes.

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I remember when I posted that Gandhi quote, way back when, that another D.U.er found it offensive. Very offensive, in fact. S/he apparently “googled” the quote, but could not find it. S/he then demanded a link to my source. One of my many, many unattractive qualities is a form of stubbornness: if someone demands I do something, I often make a game out of refusing to meet their needs. Thus, I did not inform that person that it was Philip Berrigan who had included Gandhi’s quote from Christmas Day, 1931, in a 1983 letter that he wrote me.

In my opinion, both Philip and Daniel Berrigan made some of the most important contributions to the turbulent politics of the 1960s and ‘70s. Were I a stronger person, I would have used them for the most influential of role models in terms of my own contributions to the world of politics. When talking to them back in my younger years, I remember feeling as if I were in the presence of higher beings, alien to our culture, trying to communicate a better way of life that was essential to our species’ survival.

In recent years, by the way, the person who challenged me on the Gandhi quote and I have become friends. In my opinion, very good friends. We’ve laughed about those long-past disagreements; s/he summed it up quite well, I think, by saying, “Who knew?”

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In my life’s experiences, I’ve never witnessed a fox attempting to eat grapes. But I do understand why a black slave from Africa, living in ancient Greece, would teach truths by way of fables/ parables. It has long been the preferred method of minorities who are oppressed by empire. I do not need to see Aesop’s birth certificate to know he was from Egypt.

Thus, my appreciation for this slave’s wisdom doesn’t include any rituals with fox nor grapes. Likewise, I can appreciate the wisdom of another man who used the same general teaching methods, at the edge of the Roman empire. The inspiration I get does not require stained glass windows, nor a driver’s license from Kenya. More, I do not believe in Santa Claus, any more than I believe that a politician is going to come down the great chimney in the sky, and bring about peace and justice and good will hunting in Washington, DC.

But I am convinced that, if enough of us put our energies into an effort to find common ground, that we will reach higher ground in the process. This cannot happen if we remain focused to the point of an unhealthy obsession with other folk’s belief systems. We should be investing our energies in building up, not tearing down.

This, of course, is just my opinion.

Peace,
H2O Man

Twelve Angry Men


Serving on a public school board is a unique experience. I find all types of systems fascinating, and a Board of Education (BOE) is obviously a sub-system within other systems. Besides the BOE itself, you have the school (administration, faculty, other adult positions, and students); the school is within the community (parents, tax-payers, alumni, and businesses); and more, it is within the state and federal systems.

In my opinion -- for what it is worth -- public education is an essential foundation stone for our democracy. For this reason, public education is under attack from the 1%; unfortunately, a lot of people who see problems with public schools too often side with those who have an agenda to destroy it, rather than repair it.

This may be helpful as a model to illustrate the three distinct levels of conversation that people can engage in: discussions, debates, and arguments. In the context of public education, it’s good to recognize that we discuss issues with those we are in general agreement with; we debate with those who we trust hold the same general values per public education, but hold very different opinions on how we reach our common goals; and we argue with those who seek to destroy the institutions of public education, because our values and goals are polar opposites.

With the second group, we rely upon rational thought as a most valued tool. It can increase people’s levels of understanding, thus increasing the potential for agreement. Yet, with that third group, it is not a failure to grasp our positions that creates the divisions between us. In fact, it’s the opposite: the enemies of public education know full well its benefits. Indeed, that is exactly why they want to destroy it.

This is a rather simple model. It’s not limited to discussions of public education alone. It can be applied to a wide range of social and political issues. If you were to look at, say, just the first page of OP/threads on DU:GD, you could easily find a dozen discussions where this simple model could be or is applied; and two dozen examples where it should be applied, but isn’t, thus resulting in unpleasant and unproductive arguments.

And what, I ask you, would Henry Fonda have to say about this?

With warmest of regards,
H2O Man

5-2: Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Two weeks ago, the internet boxing site “BoxRec” listed a fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao as being scheduled for May 2, 2015. Recently, that information was removed from the site. However, it appears that both camps have agreed to terms on the issues that have prevented the fight from happening in the past.

This week, Pacquiao has been quoted as saying that he will be able to announce the fight’s date by the end of this month. My understanding is that, at this point, the only unresolved issue has to do with the Pay-Per-View coverage, and how much each fighter will get from PPV sales. Floyd is contracted with Showtime, and Manny with HBO. This is similar to when Mike Tyson challenged Lennox Lewis years ago; Showtime and HBO were able to co-promote the fight for PPV.

Mayweather’s PPV sales are significantly higher than Pacquiao’s, and so he will definitely earn more. Pacquiao reportedly has tax “issues” in both the United States and the Philippines, which is why two of his last three bouts have been held in China. Hopefully, his cut from the PPV sales will be enough to pay off any taxes he owes -- it’s always sad to see an aging champion in debt, due to poor advice from his advisors.

Mayweather will also be guaranteed a much larger purse, because he is both undefeated, and will be the defending champion. In Manny’s two 2012 bouts, he was decisioned by Timothy Bradley in a close fight, and flattened by Juan Manuel Marquez. While he avenged the loss to Bradley, his other two bouts were against soft competition.

The May 2nd date has created a problem, as far as the proposed (but not finalized) middleweight title bout between champion Miguel Cotto and challenger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. This bout would be the biggest PPV event of 2015, if not for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. It is interesting to note that Floyd typically fights on the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Canelo had hoped to cash in on the Mexican holiday, and if Floyd were fighting anyone else, it is likely that HBO would have been willing to compete with Showtime for PPV sales. (See below link)

http://www.boxingnews24.com/2015/01/cotto-canelo-will-need-to-move-off-may-2nd-date-for-mayweather-vs-pacquiao/

The Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bout should set the record for PPV sales, and become the single largest money-making event in sports’ history. Floyd’s bout with Oscar de la Hoya currently has the most PPV sales; his fight with Canelo made the most money (Floyd made $92 million for that fight).

The fight would have been “bigger” had it happened years ago. This isn’t to say it won’t make a similar amount of money today, but both fighters are obviously older, and on the decline from their physical primes. On the other hand, both might be wiser today in terms of applying their ring skills. Still, there is some controversy regarding why the bout did not happen before. The first roadblock came in February of 2010, regarding “drug testing.” The ESPN clip linked below documents the nature of that disagreement. (The most important information comes when Teddy Atlas speaks, at about 7:30 into the clip.)



Pacquiao had been scoring devastating knockouts during his extraordinary rise in weight classes up until this time. This resulted in his PPV sales skyrocketing, and the demand for a fight with Mayweather. However, it’s interesting to note that since the steroid controversy discussed in the above ESPN clip, Manny has not scored a single knockout. Hence, the PPV numbers have fallen.

In previous discussions, Atlas has said that he believes Mayweather is simply too big and strong for Pacquiao, and would defeat him in the ring. When I interviewed former champion Greg Haugen, he said that both he and friend Roberto Duran believe Floyd would knock Manny out within five rounds (this was before Marquez flattened him).

Styles make fights. I’ve never thought Pacquiao posed as much of a threat to Mayweather as some other contenders with lower rankings. Manny’s footwork -- specifically his ability to land combinations and move to the side quickly -- could be effective for a few rounds. But Manny has set patterns, on both offense and defense, that Floyd would exploit, just as Marquez did.

I think it is more likely that the fight goes to a decision, however, even though a knockout is a very real possibility.

What do you think?

Boxing: the Heavyweights!

January 17, at Las Vegas (on Showtime):
Bermane Stiverne vs. Deontay Wilder, for Stiverne’s WBC heavyweight title (12 rounds)


Wladimir Klitschko is the heavyweight champion of the world. However, for purely financial reasons, various “commissions” and promoters have created a number of “titles,” thus creating the fiction that there are anywhere from four to six “champions” per weight class.

When Wladimir’s brother Vitali retired, he held the WBC title. Stiverne won that title in an impressive showing against Chris Arreola. On Saturday, he will defend his title against Deontay Wilder; the winner of this fight will get the opportunity to challenge Wladimir later in the year.

The Klitschko brothers have dominated the heavyweight division for the past decade. Although they are considered “boring” by the American fight fans, they have been consistent in winning. By fighting primarily in Europe -- where they are wildly popular -- both brothers have been allowed to openly and consistently break the rules of the sport. This, plus the fact they tend to be much bigger than their opponents, in one of the weakest eras in boxing’s history, has made it difficult to determine where they rank among the all-time greats.

It is assumed that Wladimir is coming to the end of his career. This has added to the hopes for a new American heavyweight, who can bring excitement to the division. Thus, the expectation is that Saturday’s fight will identify the division’s future.

Stiverne was born in Haiti; is a citizen of Canada; and currently resides in Las Vegas. Wilder is from Alabama. Both men possess the explosive punching-power that can end any fight with a single blow. More, in recent fights, each has shown an impressive “delivery system” for that power. Hence, the excitement grows as Saturday approaches.

Stiverne, 36, stands 6’ 2”, and has an 80” reach. Wilder, 29, is 6’ 6.5” tall, with an 83” reach. Both fighters are orthodox (right-handed). Stiverne has won 24 bouts (21 by KO), with one loss (by TKO), and one draw. Wilder has won all 32 of his bouts by KO -- and all within four rounds.

Stiverne had a deeper amateur career, and has fought tougher opposition in the professionals. He had originally hoped for a career in football, but a knee injury in college ended that dream. He is heavily-muscled, and thus is not particularly fast. He tends to be a counter-puncher, using timing to capitalize on his opponents’ mistakes.

Wilder is tall and relatively thin -- he weighs less than 230 pounds -- and has impressive speed of hands and feet. His impressive wing-span usually allows him to connect from a safe distance, and his size and speed make it impossible for a hurt opponent to get away from him.

Stiverne has solid balance in the ring. This adds to his ability to absorb solid punches, remain calm and relaxed, and to fight 12 rounds if needed. Wilder tends to get excited in fights, and to get off-balance by extending his punches way too far. It is unknown if he has the endurance to go into the late rounds. He has been “wobbled” by punches while off-balance.

Although Wilder is a slight favorite to win, I think that a good case can be made for either man. I was mildly surprised that Teddy Atlas has predicted that Deontay will score a first round knockout. He believes that Wilder’s hand speed and reach will allow him to catch Stiverne cold. That’s certainly a possibility. Likewise, if Wilder extends a punch too far, Stiverne has the ability to end it in the first with a counter-punch.

I favor Wilder in the first four or five rounds. If it goes beyond that, I think Stiverne will win. But nothing would surprise me -- except if the fight goes to the scorecards. Enjoy this fight!

Ike vs Yikes!

“In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
-- President Eisenhower; January 17, 1961

It’s fair to say that President Eisenhower’s “farewell address” to the nation serves as the best-remembered act of his two terms in office. Despite the fact that Ike was a WW 2 war hero, courted by elements of both the Democratic and Republican Parties, had fairly consistent high-approval ratings, and would be the last president to leave a budget surplus until President Clinton, his presidency has been marginalized -- except perhaps to the dwindling minority of folks alive at that time -- largely due to the very issues he spoke of in that farewell address.

Being old, and recently even more physically limited due to a rather hard fall upon the ice outside my home, I’ve recently been thinking more about Ike’s warning. And, because the presidential section of my library is located beside the chair I’ve been inhabiting, I’ve had access to some interesting information on that address. So, if by chance you are bored -- or, better yet, are experiencing difficulty in getting to sleep -- take a few minutes to read this!

There is an incorrect belief that the aging General reached his belief in the dangers of the military-industrial complex late in his presidency. Yet when one studies his 1952 campaign, the central theme in his speeches is the price of the war machine: he repeatedly spoke of how a single fighter jet robbed the public of the potential for hospitals, schools, and/or highways.

More, as a war hero/ General, and student of history, Eisenhower consciously attempted to use the model of George Washington. This included Ike’s fascination with President Washington’s farewell address to the nation -- which, of course, was not an “address” at all, but rather a message delivered in letter form. While Eisenhower differed in his approach to some issues, most notably his focus on ties to other nations, he believed that his approach to the presidency was most like that of Washington.

Thus, after the mid-term congressional elections in his second term, Ike would begin to plan his farewell address. In the early fall of 1960, he presented Malcolm Moos with the central themes he wanted to address, with instructions to model the speech on Washington’s farewell address. In Eisenhower’s presidential papers, there are actually 29 “rough drafts” of the speech, which allow historians and watermen on ice to study its evolution.

Two things stand out. Throughout the middle-to-end drafts, there are references to the “military-industrial-congressional complex.” Ike was aware of the growing influence of the combination of the military and industry on Congress, and was searching for a way to bring this to the attention of the American public. Even in those “early days,” Eisenhower saw that retired military leaders were being absorbed by industry, and that this dynamic was changing the nation’s fabric in potentially dangerous ways.

A central concern was that, in order to justify investing huge amounts of tax dollars in weapons programs, not only would it require that industry have undue influence over elected representatives, but the American public would have to be kept in a constant state of fear and anxiety. The most obvious example of the negative potential of this was, of course, found in the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. That artificially-induced level of fear and anxiety could only serve to make the nation more prone to war -- including attacking not only other nations, but domestic proponents of peace. (McCarthyism is a closely-related topic that actually requires a separate essay exploring it in today’s context.)

The final drafts, and the address itself, also contain Ike’s warning on the dangerous influence of the military-industrial complex on higher public education. The removal of “-congressional” from the earlier description weakened that warning, in my opinion. Eisenhower was disturbed by how federal grants to colleges and universities required those in the fields of science to focus primarily upon advances in military technology. He recognized that this served the financial needs of industry, while denying potential advancements in the quality of human life.

Eisenhower’s farewell address was watched by over 70 million Americans. This was shortly after the first televised presidential debate, between VP Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy, viewed by a similar number of citizens, proved the power of television to influence public opinion.

About a decade-and-a-half later, after televised hearings helped remove President Nixon from power, the American public became aware of the direct influence of the military/intelligence community on the media. Not surprisingly, a large number of journalists, editors, and station managers were shown to served two master. It was obvious which master exercised more power.

In today’s modern media, in which the overwhelming majority of major sources are owned by the industries Ike warned of, retired military generals and intelligence officials routinely serve as “guest commentators.” (Bob Woodward may be the only intelligence officer who continues to claim to be a journalist.) Many of these people do add interesting and valuable information to the coverage of incidents such as the recent violence in Paris -- just as retired police officers can add to discussions on Ferguson, etc.

Yet the very danger that President Eisenhower warned of is also ever-present: by focusing the discussion in the context of the military-intelligence-police viewpoint -- no matter how sincere and well-intended the individual may be -- the media by definition is managing the public’s perception, and excluding a wide range of other interpretations of events. And the “crown jewel” of that, of course, was the high percentage of the American public that believed that Saddam Hussein was an active participant in 9/11.

It is unrealistic to expect that people who were so convinced of a “connection” that did not exist -- to the extent that they were willing, even eager, to send American youth to invade Iraq -- to be able to identify, understand, and appreciate the very real connections between the global violence and the American military-industrial-congressional industry. (To a large extent, I’d add the other two branches of the federal government in there, too. Certainly, the Bush-Cheney administration represented industry over the public interest -- or military interest, as well. And the US Supreme Court not only selected Bush-Cheney, despite the actual election outcome, but it has determined that industries are citizens with constitutional rights.)

Is it possible to change the public’s perception today? I think that it is. And I am convinced that President Eisenhower’s farewell address holds the keys.

Peace,
H2O Man

Viva la France

A couple of years ago, a foreign exchange student from France lived with my family. She remains in contact with us -- the miracle of the internet! -- and plans to visit us in the late spring/ early summer. She’s a wonderful young lady, a talented artist, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot in the past couple of days.

It’s strange for me to have one of my “daughters” living in a war zone. It is, sadly, a rather common feature in the human experience. I’m not particularly bright, but I do understand the role of colonial France in causing suffering among human beings. And I understand that the relatively limited amount of violence in France in the past 72 hours

Instead, I’m thinking of a human being ….in this case, a young lady who brings a smile to my face when she calls me “Dad,” and who was absolutely a sibling to my other four children. I think about how she and I talked about “American culture” -- warts and all -- and how she would accompany me to public government hearings, where I advocated for a clean environment.

I compare that to these young adults from the Muslim world who have been convinced by some older adult -- my age -- that they have a duty to maim and kill other human beings, with a promised reward in the afterlife. Odd how these old men skipped their opportunities to blow themselves up (much like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sat out the war in Vietnam).

In recent times, it seems as if the dark forces of hatred is sending its unholy warriors out against humanity “not in single spies, but in battalions,” to quote Shakespeare. It is essential that we respond, by way of a peace movement.

Peace,
H2O Man
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