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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 52,821

Journal Archives

The Banality of Henry Kissinger

The presidential primary seasons are perhaps the least attractive times to read or participate in discussions on DU:GD. On one hand, I think it would be better to simply stop reading this part of the larger forum …..and perhaps limited myself to the sports forum, where I can enjoy debating the upcoming Mayweather versus Pacquiao fight. Yet, I am drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. It would likely take a 12-step program, with recognition that I am powerless when it comes to politics, to help me maintain what little sanity I’d like to think that I normally have.

Last night, for example, I read an OP by one of my best friends from the DU community. This wonderful lady stated that while she would vote for Hillary Clinton in November of 2016, that she wasn’t happy at that prospect. Her OP included a photograph of Ms. Clinton with Henry Kissinger. There were, not surprisingly, a wide range of responses to the OP. The majority of those from the pro-Clinton folks on DU ignored what my Friend wrote, and instead focused exclusively on the picture.

Of these responses, most correctly pointed out that in the world of politics, Good People do at times attend meetings or social events where horrible specimens of humanity -- such as Kissinger -- not only attend, but are treated respectfully. Indeed, a photo is shown of Nelson Mandela, an honorable man, along side of Kissinger. It happens.

Instead of focusing upon that, however, the majority of these responses included insults and atacks upon the character of the lady who posted the OP. She explained that she was a college student during the Vietnam War, and as such, had strong feelings about Kissinger. As a person who is of similar age, I can understand her feelings about Kissinger. It may be difficult for younger people to fully appreciate this. But Kissinger was as offensive in that era, as say Dick Cheney is in 2000 to 2015.

For many of us of this generation, it wasn’t simply disagreeing with Kissinger on policy. It was having a brother, cousin, neighbor, or classmate who died in Vietnam, while Kissinger was inflicting his policies on both Vietnam and the United States. Thus, when one pro-Clinton person states several times on the thread that those who identify Kissinger as a war criminal are a tiny, insignificant minority -- because, gosh almighty, old Henry is invited to so many fancy get-togethers -- I can only shake my head. For everyone of my generation remembers that, on the infamous White House tapes, Henry himself noted that Nixon and he could be charged with -- and convicted of -- war crimes for their actions in southeast Asia. But, for good or for bad, US politicians such as Kissinger and Cheney cannot face such trials.

Those who note that having to meet such creeps as a Kissinger or Cheney is simply a reality of modern politics are correct. Yet those who find this reality extremely offensive are equally correct, and should not be attacked for expressing their frustrations with the system as it is. Again, the author of the OP clearly stated that if Ms. Clinton is the Democratic Party’s nominee, she will definitely vote for her. How odd that Clinton supporters would attempt to shame her for imply expressing her opinion …..for isn’t part of the strength of Hillary Clinton rooted in the concept that women of her generation do not need to be silenced? And that their thoughts and contributions to the national debate have value?

Training Day

There’s an old saying in the sport of boxing, that I would suggest can be applied to politics. I’m thinking of it, mainly when I read posts that express the belief that most republicans would be easy to defeat in the upcoming presidential election.

The only way to make a fight against a potentially “easy” opponent actually be easy, is to train very hard, and fully prepare yourself for the hardest fight of your life. Anything less risks making an easy fight hard. In fact, that’s the easy opponent’s best and only hope.

Do republicans run obnoxious, unintelligent, and repulsive candidates? Yes, of course they do. It is difficult to think of any person less qualified than George W. Bush to be President. I’d have felt safer with the Zippy the Pinhead cartoon character sitting in the Oval Office. (Of course, I’ve never actually seen George and Zippy together in either a photograph or drawing. Hmmmm!)

I don’t care who the republican candidate is: I will view that person as a serious threat to our nation.

H2O Man Survey #10 (Hillary Clinton)

The following survey is aimed towards two things: providing some insight into how various DU community members feel about Hillary Clinton, and moving our discussions in a more positive direction. It is not intended as my advocating, either “for” or “against,” Hillary Clinton Responses are, however, an opportunity to express your thoughts, and to advocate for your position in a positive manner.

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. The percentages for or against Hillary Clinton -- or undecided -- are not intended to illustrate anything but the values of this community. It is not necessary to answer every question; only the ones that may interest you.

Assuming that anyone does respond, I only ask that we treat everyone with respect. A person might have very different views on the state of our nation, and what is required to remedy the problems we may see. At best, this could provide us an opportunity to present our position as a clean, sparkling glass of cold water; even if we view opposing views, and view others’ as having a filthy, polluted glass of water, we need not attack their’s. Trust thirsty people to be capable of deciding for themselves what glass they prefer to drink from.

Thanks! -- H2O Man

Do you support Hillary Clinton? Yes - no - undecided

Who do you think would present the toughest potential opposition in a Democratic primary? Why?

Who do you think Hillary Clinton would defeat most easily in a general election? Why? Jeb Bush - Scott Walker -- Rand Paul

Which one would present the greatest challenge? Why? Jeb Bus -- Scott Walker -- Rand Paul

On a scales of 1 to 10, how strongly do you support/ oppose Hillary Clinton’s positions, as you understand them, on foreign policy? With 1 being strongly opposed; 5 being unsure; and 10 being strongly support?

On economic policy? Same 1 to 10 scale.

On social policy? Same scale.

Which candidate did you most strongly support in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries?

Is the potential for Hillary Clinton to be the first female President of the United States important to you?

In your opinion, is having a female President important for the Democratic Party? For the United States of America? Why, or why not?

The End

A Thought About Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton will be “officially” entering the Democratic Party’s primary contest for the nomination to be our candidate for President in 2016. In recent times, this has been the source of some interesting discussions on DU:GD; however, more frequently, the OP/threads about Ms. Clinton’s candidacy have been acrimonious, more emotional that insightful. I haven’t made any decisions regarding who I might support in the primaries, and thus am more interested in the intelligent conversations, than the more common type.

My younger son stopped by tonight, to watch boxing with me. We also talked about politics, including Hillary Clinton. In my clearly subjective opinion, all of my children have a good understanding of politics. They have each been active in social-political events in our state.

This son probably takes the most interest among his siblings. A brief “biography” : he’s in his 20s; has been employed in various social work positions, including currently for Catholic Charities; and, as a solid amateur heavyweight boxer, is my #1 “body guard” when I run my big mouth at tense public government meetings. (grin) He has also proven an effective campaign strategist in our four-county region.

I like that he thinks for himself. For example, I asked him what he thought about Hillary Clinton’s running in 2016? Now, you may agree with him, or disagree with him. But I think that he made some points that -- at least in my opinion -- are of the general quality that DU:GD is capable of producing on a daily basis.

He said that the amount of money that is being reported as about what Ms. Clinton’s campaign will cost presents a unique opportunity for both her and the Democratic Party. He is aware of the massive sums that the republican party will be spending, both on the presidential and other races (congressional, state, and local). He noted that the Koch brothers and their ilk will be attempting to channel their millions into a coordinated, saturation campaign of lies. Hillary Clinton, he noted, has the opportunity to change the process; by using a method similar to judo, he said, she could use the current “corporations are people” mega-money madness, to bring a higher level of awareness to the public.

Could you imagine, my son asked me, if rather than enriching advertising agencies et al, she went to various communities -- cities and towns -- and used a large portion of her campaign funds to invest in them? If she said, “The American people have donated money to me, because they believe that I can institute change. It starts now: I am re-investing this much-needed money in your community. And that is exactly the approach that I will take as your President.”

He said some funds should go to charities, which would allow her to address specific social problems -- and solutions. It’s true that some problems can’t be “solved,” they must be dealt with on an on-going manner. (He was quoting his father.) Other funds could go to specific community needs, again allowing her to highlight problems, and solutions. He said that large segments of the country have accepted the problems that the bankrupt Bush-Cheney policies inflicted on our country. A great leader must change the way that people think -- about themselves, their value, and their relationship to community and country -- before those people can be expected to behave differently. And no single person -- not even the President of the United States -- can “solve” our nation’s problems: they require an on-going effort upon all of our parts.

I thought it was an interesting perspective.

Cell Phones & Siblings

“What you think, you become.” -- Buddha; circa 500 bc.

“What you think, you become.” -- Gandhi; 1860-1948 ad.


I was talking with my normal brother the other day. He had just picked up a new cell phone, in preparation for a trip to the Old Sod to play golf and watch horse-races. Because my grasp of technology generally stopped with my mastering the abacus, he went into great detail to explain the advantages of his new toy.

When I “yawned” -- a polite attempt to communicate my lack of interest -- he immediately said he would provide details so simple, that even I might grasp them. No matter where he happens to be ( Oregon, Boston, or Ireland being his three favorites), if someone sends him a message, his phone will pick it up. The invisible vibrations of energy, if I recall what I wasn’t listening to, will be received by his toy. For that wave-length is sent out virtually everywhere.

Life is both curious and strange, at least in my opinion. In many, if not most ways, my brother and I are very much alike. That is, I assume, due to the combination of nature and nurture: we have similar DNA, and grew up in the same setting. Our daughters frequently respond to our feeble attempts at humor by saying “tell that to your brother, he’s the only one who will ‘get it’.”

He was the best trainer - corner man I ever had in the sport of boxing. I trusted him 100%. I appreciated that he had the opportunity to learn from two of the best ever in the sport: Angelo Dundee and Manny Steward. I respect that he has, in recent years, come to despise the sport, because of the long-term damage that it does to so many of the fellows who participate in it.

Yet there are areas where we disagree. Often quite strongly, as brothers are apt to do. For example, he often tells me that I have to tell my younger son that he is “not allowed” to box. Sure, I tell him, that worked out so well when our parents attempted to stop us. He orders me to have my boy visit our older brother, a once highly-intelligent, respected member of the community we grew up in. Today, he is a still-breathing corpse, who talks non-stop about UFOs. My children are all familiar with their uncle.

My normal brother is a science-based atheist, something that I respect and endorse. However, I enjoy telling him that we both believe in the same God. He insists that my beliefs are actually almost identical to our older brothers: that there is some higher entity that lives in the sky, keeping watch over the human race that is “God’s” ultimate creation. Yikes!

We were raised in what was known as an “Irish-Catholic” environment, at least until as teenagers, we discovered that skipping church was as easy as skipping school. When he moved to the west coast in the 1970s, he stayed briefly at one of our favorite uncle’s houses. He was disappointed to find that this uncle, who ranked rather highly in the ONI, was a strict Catholic. Since then, my brother has assumed that everyone who is religious/ spiritual is cut from the same general cloth -- be they believers in Santa God, Stained-Glass Jesus, or violence-prone, hateful worshippers of another mythology.

Thus, I took the opportunity provided by his fascination with his new cell phone, to talk about my thoughts about energy and vibrations. While some in our extended family subscribe to a theory popularly known as “reincarnation,” I prefer the miracle of DNA, a living energy force that I suspect better explains certain “mysteries.” I’m able to provide my brother with contact information of some distant cousins -- for they are from a branch of our family that either stayed in Ireland, or came here in the late 1800s and eventually returned to Ireland.

The two brothers that he’ll be meeting are about as ugly as we are. They love horse-racing and golf. One boxes. And they share our deformed sense of humor. That DNA stuff is pretty powerful. I don’t advocate worshipping DNA, but I do think it is a topic that most people can find worthy of consideration, and even study.

Likewise, I think that human beings are, at very least, as interesting as cell phones. I often find myself thinking about how our emotions -- including “love” and “hate” -- transmit energy, or vibrations, that are both visible and invisible. And I find myself thinking of them in the simple context of ripples on the surface of my pond, when I toss food in for the many fish that inhabit my pond. Unlike my brother, who gets to spend 40+ hours each week inside a large university, interacting with highly intelligent men and women, I spend most of my time alone ….and my favorite spot is out at my pond.

Thank goodness that the weather is finally changing. Spring is upon here on the east coast. I’m able to spend more time out at the pond, filling the bird-feeders, and watching my dog Kelly enjoy himself running about, tail a wagging, sniffing every bush and tree, digging holes for who knows what. It’s a nice break from the long winter, and the weird vibrations that bring the “news” to my television, or the often strangely hostile vibrations delivered on DU:GD.

Peace,
H2O Man

Regarding Rand Paul

I’ve watched the news about Rand Paul’s announcing that he has officially entered the primary contest for the republican nomination for president. This makes him #4 among republicans who have filed with the FEC to run; the others are Jack Fellure, Mark Everson, and Rafael Cruz. It’s worth noting that two of the other three do not merit serious consideration -- they are running for VP -- while Cruz can be trusted to self-destruct The fact that the republican machine has already unleashed the modern version of what were known as the “rat-fuckers” in the Nixon era on Rand Paul suggests that they consider him to be a serious threat to their candidate.

Most people could probably agree that Paul’s father ran in republican primaries for about the same reason that Rev. Al Sharpton ran in the Democratic Primary -- to give voice to a segment in his party that he felt was being ignored by the machine. But, as Chris Matthews has noted, Rand Paul believes that there is a way for him to not only win his party’s nomination, but also the general election. While current polling indicate he is unlikely to win the primaries, a lot can change in a year.

The republican machine is most likely to pick Jeb Bush. Their back-up candidate might be Scott Walker, with a Cheney-type VP candidate; surely, the machine wants a seasoned elder to make the international policies that exploit some nations, and invade others. And, in a sense, Walker might well compete with Paul better than Bush. Although the republicans are scheduling far fewer debates than in 2012 -- sad for us, entertainment-wise -- the republican audience would see that Paul can easily out-debate Bush. Expectations are key: what they expect from Jeb Bush is different than from Scott Walker.

Foreign policy will be an important topic in republican primaries, and I believe Paul will gain more support from his policies on these issues than Bush and Walker. In terms of the other two major policy areas -- economics and social policy -- he could likely remain close.

Perhaps the wild card factor is that he can appeal to quite a few young republicans. Likewise, if he does win the republican nomination, he could be something fairly rare in Democrat vs. republican presidential election contests: the younger candidate, claiming to bring “new” ideas to Washington, DC.

In theory, there are a few people who would be worse as president (for example, had McCain won, died, and Palin became president). In real life, none of them has any chance of winning an election. That Paul does have a chance should concern us all.

Peace,
H2O Man

Girl Scouts & Clan Mothers

I spoke to a Girl Scout Troop this afternoon, about the Indian history of their small town. It was interesting for me, in part because in over 30 years of speaking to schools ( K through 12), most all of the colleges and universities in this region, historical societies, environmental groups, and Boy Scouts ….I had never been asked to speak to Girl Scouts before.

There were 18 girls there, ages 7 to 9. They had just finished their school day, and so they had a lot of energy to burn. A quick snack, and we were ready to go! Holy cow!

I keep on file some basic outlines for presentations to different groups. However, I decided that it would be fun to focus almost exclusively on the role of women in Iroquois society. I brought about 50 artifacts -- most found at a site at the edge of their village. This was a site that James Fennimore Cooper wrote about, the Oneida village known as “Hutted Knoll.” Children in this age group tend to learn more when they have “hands on” experience;

The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, are a matriarchal society. This is best understood as a system that recognizes women and men as equal -- though not “exact.” And it creates family systems in a manner with shared power and influence, which is not passed down by way of heredity …..for example, as with the Bush family, with father-to-son appointed positions.

We had an hour and 45 minutes to talk, so I did address the role of males, from childhood to adulthood. But our primary focus was on the roles of the females, from childhood to adulthood. This included discussing the role of the Clan Mother, who selects the clan’s chief, and who also has the power to remove him. I think that every one of these little children grasped the concept that Grandmothers are wise human beings, with much to teach others.

That led to our discussion of the Indians’ “schools” -- inside the longhouse, in the gardens, in the woods, and sitting quietly along side of a stream. And the idea of 13 months/moons per year, with a special holiday-festival for each one. The singing and dancing, and how they made drums and flutes. I had also brought a substantial pile of children’s books, included some by my friend Joseph Bruchac, Some of these girls told me about other books on Indians, that they have read a home and in school.

I had met one 8-year old girl a while back. Her mother had asked me if I could tutor her daughter, who had gotten a 54 on a test on the Iroquois in class. The mother knows my sons. I was glad to help; the girl raised her grade to a 98 when she re-took the test. This led to my being invited to speak to her Girl Scout Troop.

These children were smart. I was very impressed, and told them so repeatedly. For example, when I asked them about what pets Indians had, although they didn’t know about dogs and black bear cubs, they said, “Well, all kids love to catch frogs (snakes, toads, salamanders, lightening bugs, etc).” Man!

Then we ended by talking about water. We discussed clean water versus polluted water, and how life on Earth depends upon clean water. Again, they got it.

Chief Paul Waterman used to tell me that, when presenting to a group of 20 people, the goal is to really reach one of them. That’s success. Anything more is icing on the cake. I think that all of the 18 girls got it today.

Equally important, I remember Paul saying how, when talking to little children, to be fully aware of both their innocence and their wisdom. The Troop leaders were also mighty proud -- and mighty impressed -- when, after we finished, they asked each girl a question about what they had learned today. There were 18 different, equally good, answers.

From there, I traveled about 28 miles, for a school board meeting. Tonight, a group that included much of the local tea party came to complain. They definitely view us board members as “the enemy.” (And one of us, more than the others!) I kept thinking to myself that it’s important that I do this, so that our community’s children get a good education. It is a constant struggle, especially when there are adults who despise public education. But it is worth it.

Peace,
H2O Man

President Obama in Boxing Gloves

http://miketysonlive.com/boxingchannel/notjustboxing/president-obama-shows-knockout-form/


I like this photo of President Obama wearing some boxing gloves that Mike posted on FaceBook today. I've seen a couple of other photos from this shoot.

I know our President is a big fan of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. He also has followed the current best pound-for-pound champion, Floyd Mayweather, Jr's career closely.

New Territory: President Obama

The situation with Iran, the United States, and several other nations reaching initial agreement is the best global news that I have heard in many years. Although rational thought would indicate that violence and warfare is an inappropriate method of conflict resolution at this point in world history, there are those who have been eager to instigate an attack on Iran for over a decade. And, although it appears that President Obama did not have as “hands on” a role as several other negotiators, the domestic right-wing is blaming him for this “surrender.”

Likewise, these exact people will deny that President Obama played any role, just as soon as the agreement proves effective. This is not surprising, for many of these are people of limited intellectual ability, and none have ever felt the need to be truthful in their ranting. My own belief -- which might accurately be called half-speculation, half-educated guess, and half-a-glass optimism -- is that both President Obama and John Kerry played a more important role than the public will ever know.

I say that as a person who has actively campaigned for both John Kerry and Barack Obama. And as a person who has, on numerous occasions, expressed both support and disappointment in both men. Yet the deal with Iran stands out, to me, as one of the most important victories of the past two centuries. And I definitely credit them.

It’s fun to try to think of historical precedent. The Cuban Missile Crisis? Not really, as it was primarily some insane military commanders and mob bosses who obsessed on “liberating” Cuba. In a sense, it is perhaps closer to President Kennedy’s deciding to not go into Laos early in his term. Still, I think President Obama faced a different type of challenge.

When entering this new territory, both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry brought their personal experiences with them. For Kerry, of course, this included both being a soldier in war, and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, along with his career in the US Senate. For Barack Obama, it included being an opponent of the Bush-Cheney war in Iraq, and more recently, learning that even as Commander in Chief, he did not have the control over US involvement in Afghanistan that he anticipated.

Thus, both men know that wars are easy to start -- even a jackass like George W. Bush could start a couple of them -- but difficult to control, or end. The region of earth known as the Middle East has experienced an increased level of violence -- military and para-military warfare -- since Bush-Cheney’s aggression destabilized it. There is, of course, various levels of violence in many other regions, as well. It would have been very easy to have had that violence spread to inside Iranian borders.

The “players” in the negotiations, and in the region, include people at opposite ends of opinions on not only relations between Iran and other nations, but on if warfare is a practical manner of resolving differences. I’ve been most interested in four nations: the USA, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. In order to appreciate the significance of the recent agreement, one must be aware of the history of acrimony between Iran and the other three. This includes a very real history between the US and Iran, with a coup (removing a democratically elected government, to install the shah), exploitation of their resources, a hostage situation, and the Iran-Contra scandal (that included Israeli middlemen).

The “common folk” in the US, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia would not benefit from a war between any of these nations. They have the right -- the basic, human right -- to live their lives in peace, to be part of a safe community, and to enjoy their family and friends. But they are too often held hostage to a minority in their own nation, including those who do benefit financially from war (re: Dick Cheney), and those who lust for bloodshed (re: George W. Bush).

Those “leaders” have the support of some of the 1%, and all of the violence-prone people. In this country, that includes those from the neoconservative ideology. They have power in Washington, and so we witness the republican politicians expressing disgust that we are avoiding war with Iran.

I’m aware, as I write this, that it was 47 years ago that Martin Luther King was murdered. That means that it was 48 years ago, that King delivered the most prophetic speech of his career, “A Time to Break Silence” (aka “Beyond Vietnam”). In that speech, King noted that if our nation did not reach a higher ground, that the public would be trapped in a cycle of protesting more and more Vietnams, around the globe.

I’m thankful that President Obama and John Kerry have helped us avoid this one.

Media, PA/ FBI Office Burglary/3-8-1971

“According to its analysis of the documents in this FBI office, 1 percent were devoted to organized crime, mostly gambling; 30 percent were "manuals, routine forms, and similar procedural matter"; 40 percent were devoted to political surveillance and the like, including two cases involving right-wing groups, ten concerning immigrants, and over 200 on left or liberal groups. Another 14 percent of the documents concerned draft resistance and "leaving the military without government permission." The remainder concerned bank robberies, murder, rape, and interstate theft.”
-- Noam Chomsky on the Burglary at Media, PA.


I just got back from bringing my youngest daughter up to visit her sister for a few days, at St. Lawrence University. One of my favorite things at SLU is the campus book store. In the past couple of years, I’ve been able to pick up some outstanding books there. Certainly, one of the less attractive features of living in the sticks is lack of access to a good bookstore.

It’s always tempting to purchase a stack of books, but I can’t afford that these days. So I decided upon the 2014 book “The Burglary,” by Betty Medsger, The break-in at the FBI office in Media, PA took place on the same night as the March 8, 1971 “Fight of the Century,” between two undefeated heavyweight champions, Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. (For younger DU readers, that was the most significant sporting event, in terms of the US social and political world, in history.)

The book includes a great deal of information about Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, the radical Catholic priests of that era. The brothers were friends with, and house-guests of, NYS Senator Robert F. Kennedy. I had the opportunity to become acquainted with them in the 1980s. They would be among the most important influences in my thinking, and my social-political activities.

So I’m happy tonight, to have a book on a topic that fascinates me. Pretty soon, my youngest will be graduating. I’m planning on moving into my one-room cabin out near my pond and sweat lodge. No electricity. Just peace and quiet. Of course, I’ll also be free to engage in the social-political activities that I know need to happen.

Peace,
H2O Man
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