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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 49,487

Journal Archives

Legend

“In the field of intelligence, a legend is an operational plan for a cover, or a cover itself, depending upon the mission.”
-- James J. Angleton; CIA chief of counterintelligence

“A legend is a false biography.”
-- Yuri I. Nosenko; KGB officer

“Everything is the exact opposite of what it really is.”
-- Harry Nilsson

“To attempt to place Edweird Snowden’s ‘career’ history in context based upon media reports is to let your mind get stuck on a gooey yellow fly strip. Do not focus on ‘who?’ or ‘how?’; the important question is ‘why?’.”
-- H2O Man

Intruder in the Dust

“The past’s never dead. It’s not even past.”
--William Faulkner; Intruder in the Dust


No matter how one feels about recent news reports on domestic “spying,” it is worthwhile to consider past events from our nation’s not-to-distant past. These issues should be of concern to everyone, from President Obama’s strongest supporters, to his most vocal critics on the Democratic Left. For this is an issue that reaches far beyond this President and his administration. Indeed, it involves forces in government and industry that are, at best, only partially under the control of Barack Obama or Congressional oversight. And it is an issue that will certainly help define America after President Obama leaves office -- and that is equally true, no matter if the next US President is a Democrat or republican.

The president most closely associated with legal and illegal spying on citizens is, of course, Richard M. Nixon. Thus, I would like to remind older forum members of some of hell that Nixon put this nation through. More, it is my hope that this may provide younger forum members with food for thought …..and while space does not allow for in-depth detail here, any interested person can “google,” go to their local library, or both, to learn more about this series of most important chapters in US history.

Again, my goal is NOT to take sides in the current debate -- not in this essay/thread -- nor is it to in any way pretend that Barack Obama is similar to Richard Nixon. For President Obama is a good and decent man, while Nixon was a severely flawed character; the only two things they had in common would be the obvious (being President) and both were highly intelligent.

I am also hoping that forum members will post related information on America’s “spying” history, including memories of the Nixon era. Also, in fairness, I should share two points of information: (1) my property was owned, at the close of the Revolutionary War, by one of two merchant brothers, who had served as “spies” for General/President Washington; and (2) in the 1990s, a “private” corporation, that employed retired county, state, and federal police, kept “intelligence” files on Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman, myself, and others advocating for Native American rights. We had one of our spies copy these files, and I was entertained and disappointed in their quality. If they had simply asked Paul and I, we would have provided more accurate information.

Anyhow. Our national mythology pretends that domestic spying was limited to J. Edgar Hoover’s obsession with Rev. King’s sex life, until Richard Nixon began a strange domestic spy program that ended with Watergate. This, of course, is bullshit. Domestic spying had been conducted at least since the end of WW2. Much of it was done by the private investigators who were hired by corporations, usually after “retiring” from a career with a police agency, or the military. Indeed, the WW2 agency that morphed into the CIA was, in fact, primarily made up of “private” intelligent agents employed by the oil industry. I’ve documented that with uncanny accuracy on this forum in the past.

In the 1960s -- even before Nixon took office -- the military was spying on civilians who were doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights. It was done, of course, in the name of “national security.” This was first documented, beyond debate, by Christopher Pyle; he told congressional investigators that the US Army intelligence had 1,500 “undercover agents” who kept track of any anti-war protest that had 20 or more citizens participating.

Pyle’s testimony would play a significant role in several of the congressional investigations into the abuses of power associated with Nixon. He would work as an investigator for Senator Sam Irvin’s subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. (Pyle became a professor at Mt.Holyoke College; he has authored several articles and books of interest, including on the dangers that domestic spying pose to the Constitution since the “war on terror” began.)

It was later documented that Army Intelligence was “spying” on Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was in Memphis in April, 1968. Again, this pre-dates Nixon’s presidency. Yet Nixon was no stranger to the ways of Washington, and he soon would have a plan drawn up to coordinate local, state, and federal police agencies with domestic spying programs -- all in the name of “national security,” of course. Under Nixon, the potential threats to the nation were no longer limited to the Civil Rights and Anti-war movements. Any journalist who disagreed with Nixon, and any Democrat who might oppose him in 1972, would be included on Tricky Dick’s infamous “enemies list.”

It was documented in the Senate Watergate hearings that President Nixon would become aware that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also spying on him. One could speculate that this may have played some role in the exposure of “Watergate” -- which is incorrectly remembered as a limited criminal event, involving the break-in at the Democratic Party Headquarters. In fact, it was a large series of felonies, that took place from the west coast to the east coast. And every part of it fell under the Huston Plan.

The Senate held the famous Watergate Hearings, led by Senator Irvin. Several congressional committees would follow with investigations of illegal and unconstitutional activities conducted by intelligence agencies. These included crimes committed both domestically and in foreign lands. Perhaps the best-known was the Senate’s Church Committee. The House of Representatives followed with a committee, which is best known as the Pike Committee, (Formerly the Nedzi Committee), named for NY Rep. Otis Pike. This committee’s final report was never officially released, due to conflicts among House members. Versions were released, and journalist Daniel Schorr was called before Congress to reveal his source; Schorr refused.

President Ford would attempt to derail attention from these two committee, by having VP Nelson Rockefeller head a “presidential investigation” into intelligence agency abuses of power. While the Rockefeller Commission’s report was of some value, it should not be confused as the most important of that era’s investigations.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson to come out of that era is that domestic spying programs take on a life of their own, even if a good and sincere President is in office. Likewise, these same programs take on an even more sinister character under a thug like Nixon.

Finally, I’d like to note that about a week ago, I posted an essay on fracking here. I wrote that the gas companies have deemed environmental advocates who oppose fracking as “potential eco-terrorists.” Further, I showed that the gas industry now has use of military intelligence experts in psychological warfare, to help prepare communities in the United States for exploitation by the gas industry.

Peace,
H2O Man

Great Society

“No American, young or old, must ever be denied the right to dissent. No minority must be muzzled. Opinion and protest are the life breath of democracy -- even when it blows heavy.

“But I urge you never to dissent merely because someone asked you to, or because someone else does. Please know why you protest. Know what it is you dissent from. And always try, when you disagree, to offer a choice to the course that you disapprove. For dissent and protest must be the recourse of men who, in challenging the existing order, reason their way to a better order.”
-- President Lyndon B. Johnson; June 7, 1966.


My father often said but for the war in Vietnam, that LBJ would have been America’s greatest president. I remember saying to him that this, my favorite LBJ quote, must have been written for him by Bill Moyers, as Johnson was notoriously thin-skinned. My father said no, that this was “pure Johnson,” and simply evidence of the complexity of a very intelligent person who felt inferior to DC society. Johnson, he said, knew that disagreement was a necessary part of the political process; it was just that he never forgot or forgave any slight, public or private, real or imagined.

Dad had a limitless supply of stories he could tell about how LBJ sought “revenge” on those who dared to disagree with him. Some were downright hilarious; others indicated a cruelty that made it difficult for some loyal aides to work for this curious President. I try to remember those when I find myself thinking that it’s too bad President Obama wasn’t more like LBJ, at least in getting things through Congress.

When President Obama took office, I remember him saying that he expects citizens to hold his feet to the fire on important issues. I believed him then -- not only did he have no reason to lie, but it strikes me as something he believes people have the responsibility to do. More, when a lady from Code Pink recently challenged President Obama on the death of innocent human beings by drone attacks, I was convinced that he appreciated her courage, her sincerity, and the harsh message she delivered.

President Obama said that he didn’t agree with many of the things this lady said. Yet, there is an inescapable logic to what she was saying: if President Obama gets credit for killing an Usama bin Laden, then he has to accept responsibility for killing innocent people, as well.

War is a terrible thing. President Obama didn’t start the US wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, just as LBJ didn’t start the war in Vietnam. But, as the President of the United States, he is responsible for his administration’s war policies. And that goes well beyond viewing this in the context of foreign policy. Wars transform presidencies, and they transform the country. LBJ took office with a plan to transform our nation into a Great Society; 1968, his last year in office, stands out as posing the greatest challenges to our Constitutional Democracy in the 20th century.

When Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008, he had a vision of where he wanted to bring the nation to. The Bush-Cheney years had done much to damage this nation, domestically and abroad. He knew it would be difficult, and that the dysfunctional Congress posed many of the greatest stumbling blocks that would prevent any real healing in America. Indeed, the problems we face are so enormous that even a united effort would be incapable of resolving all of the crises we have created for ourselves and future generations.

If we take an objective look at these many problems, several things stand out: both the House and Senate have degenerated into disgraceful institutions; the Supreme Court is a partisan corporate outhouse; and the unholy blend of the corporate and military power has made a mockery of the Constitution. These are real, and literally every decision that President Obama makes -- especially involving “war powers” -- must be viewed within the context of those dynamics.

Thus, the question: if President Obama’s actions appear to be flowing in the current of the corporate-military-war energy force, and against the values of the US Constitution (and especially against that Bill of Rights), what should one do? Place all responsibility for the current situation directly on the President? Excuse Obama, and focus all blame on the Congress? Or perhaps some combination of holding President Obama responsible for his choices -- which must include credit for the good, and blame for the bad -- while also working to change the makeup and nature of Congress?

The most realistic option for Democrats is, in my opinion, to invest our energies in two areas: letting President Obama know which of his policies we like and which ones we dislike; and at the same time, preparing now for the 2014 elections. By “preparing,” I mean putting voter education and registration programs into action, and looking at what candidates may be or are definitely running for office. And that means communicating to those either in Congress (the House and Senate), or preparing to run, and letting them know exactly where we stand on important issues.

If, for example, you were opposed to the Bush-Cheney attack on the Bill of Rights, and continue to be concerned by recent news about President Obama’s policies, it makes no sense to grant the administration a pass, and expect Congress to deal with the problems. (If you favor the illusion of “safety” over the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a Constitutional Democracy, however, simply carry on -- because this military-corporate government is moving in the direction you desire it to.) Making a phone call or sending a letter to the White House does not imply that you hate Obama, or support the republicans. It doesn’t weaken the Democratic Party. And anyone who says that exercising the rights defined in Amendment 1 will “harm” this president, or our chances in the next elections, is either uninformed, misinformed, or a republican at heart ( thus, grossly uninformed and pathetically misinformed).

President Obama was not lying when he said he expects citizens to hold his feet to the fire. He wasn’t joking. He was serious. It’s our responsibility, our duty, to speak up on important issues. For we cannot hold his feet to the fire on insignificant issues -- there’s no flame to be found there. And if we fail to do so, we have betrayed our obligations to the very Constitutional Democracy that we seek to re-establish.

Peace,
H2O Man

Boxing: June 7 & 8

June 7
At Shelton, Wash. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes): John Molina vs. Andrey Klimov, 10 rounds, lightweights; Farah Ennis vs. Anthony Hanshaw, 10 rounds, light heavyweights; Maurice Lee vs. Jeff Hatton, 4 rounds, lightweights; Ray Lampkin Jr. vs. Joaquin Chavez, 5 rounds, junior welterweights; Andres Ramos vs. Sammy Perez, 4 rounds, junior lightweights; Ik Yang vs. Roger Rosa, 6 rounds, lightweights; Said Harrak vs. Paul Mpendo, 6 rounds, junior middleweights

At Verona, N.Y. (Showtime): Jorge Melendez vs. Nick Brinson, 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Jonathan Vidal vs. Mario Munoz, 8 rounds, bantamweights; Jeffrey Fontanez vs. Alejandro Rodriguez, 6 rounds, junior lightweights; Samuel Kotey vs. Guillermo Sanchez, 8 rounds, lightweights; John Franklin vs. Yieta Johnson, 6 rounds, junior featherweights; Jose Saenz vs. Edgardo Torres, 4 rounds, lightweights


June 8
At Montreal (HBO): Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson, 12 rounds, for Dawson's lineal/WBC light heavyweight title; Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Darley Perez, 12 rounds, for vacant WBA interim lightweight title; David Lemieux vs. Robert Swierzbinski, 8 rounds, middleweights; Jose Pedraza vs. Sergio Villanueva, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Artur Belerbie vs. Christian Cruz, 4 rounds, cruiserweights; Eleider Alvarez vs. Allan Green, 10 rounds, light heavyweights; Didier Bence vs. Eric Barrak, 8 rounds, heavyweights; Sebastien Bouchard vs. Francesco Cotroni, 4 rounds, welterweights

At Carson, Calif. (Showtime): Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez, 12 rounds, welterweights; Erislandy Lara vs. Alfredo Angulo, 12 rounds, for vacant WBA interim junior middleweight title; Jermell Charlo vs. Demetrius Hopkins, 12 rounds, junior middleweights; Yoshihiro Kamegai vs. Johan Perez, 10 rounds, welterweights; Gerald Washington vs. Sherman Williams, 8 rounds, heavyweights; Joseph Diaz Jr. vs. Rigoberto Casillas, 4 or 6 rounds, junior featherweights; Ronny Rios vs. Leonilo Miranda, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Jamie Kavanagh vs. Adolfo Landeros, 8 rounds, lightweights; Manuel Avila vs. Jamal Parram, 8 rounds, junior featherweights; Edgar Valero.vs. David Reyes, 4 rounds, bantamweights


I really do not like to miss ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, but my son is taking me to the card that will be on Showtime tonight. (If you get Showtime, watch their “ShoBox” card at 10-12 pm/est. We will be at ringside.)

There are two very good cards on tomorrow night. It’s a shame that HBO and Showtime compete for the boxing audience, when good cards play opposite one another. However, that competition is also fueling each of them to feature good fighters in more competitive bouts. HBO in particular has featured more one-sided fights in the past decade. It’s one thing to bring a young contender up that way, but by going with a single promoter most of the time, they’ve had top fighters in mismatches too frequently.

Both the main events and co-features on Saturday are very good fights. In fact, the co-features would make solid main events. Again, competition for the viewing audience has led to a higher quality promotion.

I’ll post more tomorrow on Saturday’s cards. Enjoy tonight’s fights!

Gasland 2 Review

(also posted in DU:GD)

Last night, my oldest daughter and I went to see “Gasland 2” in Binghamton, N.Y. The movie, which will be broadcast on HBO in August, is outstanding. In fact, we both felt that it was, if anything, better than the 2010 “Gasland.” More, we agreed that a person should watch the original, in order to fully understand and appreciate the more unsettling sequel.

I’ll start by saying that I think highly of Josh Fox. We first met in January of 2012, at the Capital Building in Albany, N.Y. There was a huge pro-environment, anti-hydro racking rally that day, and I was one of the speakers. It was also what proved to be the last day of my hunger strike; state senator Tom Libous finally met with me, after his aides told him about my speech. (I noted that a growing number of high school students were writing letters-to-the-editors of area newspapers, and were planning demonstrations outside of three of his satellite offices. This upset Libous. No politician wants high school students saying that he is doing what they are learning elected representatives are supposed to be doing -- especially not in the media.)

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with Josh by way of the computer since then. I’m highly impressed with a young man who is a genius in communicating the truth about what I believe is the most important environmental crisis of this time. Neither the positive nor negative aspects of “fame” have gone to his head. Now, that is hard to prevent: it requires that a person be extremely well-grounded. I found myself thinking of a passage from Erich Fromm:


“Faith in the being mode of existence means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.

“The willingness to be born requires courage and faith. Courage to let go of certainties; courage to be different and to stand alone; courage, as the Bible puts it in the story of Abraham, to leave one’s own land and family and to go to a land yet unknown. Courage to be concerned with nothing but the truth, the truth not only in thought but in one’s feelings as well.

“This courage is possible only on the basis of faith. Faith not in the sense in which the word is often used today, as a belief in some idea that cannot be proved scientifically or rationally, but faith in the meaning that it has in the Old Testament, where the word faith (Emunah) means certainty; to be certain of the reality of one’s own experience in thought and feeling, to be able to trust it, to rely on it, this is faith.”
-- Erich Fromm; The Creative Attitude; pages 53-54.


I do not want to “spoil” the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I think that I can discuss some aspects of it here, without ruining it.

The film opens with a scene from over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s July 4, 2010, and Josh is able to film close to the BP oil “spill.” It immediately brought back all of the terrible images from that time …..but it was worse, in that it showed what BP had been able to keep off of the corporate news at that time. Josh notes that “no matter how huge the catastrophe, what matters is who tells the story.”

That is true in the case of fracking, as well. Because the mainstream media is owned by large corporations that are invested in things such as “energy” and the “military-industrial complex,” the public is presented with a highly inaccurate picture of fracking. This goes beyond the commercials on television, or the panel discussions on news programs. And I’ll address that in a moment.

The energy corporations are aware that 5% of all wells will leak upon the completion of being drilled. That is, of course, because the casing of one in twenty wells leaks. So when the gas industry tells the public about all of the benefits of 100,000 wells in Pennsylvania, they avoid mentioning that 5,000 will leak on Day One. Or that according to their internal reports, 50% of the wells will fail and leak extremely toxic wastes into the water supply. Nor will they discuss the truth about the more immediate dangers that the millions of gallons of toxic waste-water from “good” wells produces.

The planet Earth is living; it provides a natural filtration system that protects living things, including human beings. But the Earth does not “clean” the poisons used in fracking. Hence, those toxins spread through the water supply, and are absorbed by living things, including human beings. The “master plan” of the energy corporations not only threatens the living environment (parts of which are already seriously damaged), but our living Constitutional Democracy (parts of which are already severely damaged). Let’s take a look at how this man-made disease is being spread.

Some members of this forum would not like much of what I’m about to say. Few of those folks will read this, though …..which is really too bad, because if they really took an objective look at the points I’m going to make, they would find that I’m right (though not because I’m saying it), and would then have to decide between opposing a dangerous threat to our country, or to admit that sheer greed trumps the health and well-being of their community.

The energy corporations are viewing the populations that live upon regions rich in underground gas in the exact same way they view any Third World people who have some natural resources they seek to plunder and exploit. I do not say that lightly, or for shock value. It is the truth. And it goes far, far beyond the gas industry’s hiring the same public relations firm that the tobacco industry employed 60 years ago, to promote “risk free” smoking products.

Indeed, it goes beyond the gas industry’s hiring private intelligence groups, such as the Institute of Terrorism, Research, and Response” to outline -- and execute -- plans to discredit, disrupt, and destroy local grassroots opposition groups. (If that reminds readers of the movie “Promised Land,” or of FBI director Hoover’s infamous March 4, 1968 memorandum, it should.)

The gas industry also makes use of paid puppets to go on the news programs and say, “There is no conclusive scientific evidence that connects fracking to the contamination of even a single water well.” And where is the greatest number of paid liars found, ready and eager to prostitute their fame for money? Why, in the world of politics -- primarily in the “retired” politicians who would walk a mile for a camera.

So it is no surprise that republican Tom Ridge works for the gas pimps. Ridge was the governor of Pennsylvania, before becoming the head of the Office of Homeland Security. It was during his time at OHS that the Pennsylvania grassroots environmental advocates were labeled as “potential eco-terrorists” by that agency. This led to the energy corporations being provided assistance by the U.S. military -- you know, to prevent the terrible threat of eco-terrorism that environmentalists pose.

What services do the energy corporations get from the military? As “Gasland 2” documents, they are the operations known as “psyops” (psychological operations), long part of the military’s “psywar” (psychological warfare) in Third World countries that U.S. corporations seek to exploit.

The film also provides documentation on how democratic politicians are serving as advocates for the gas industry. An ugly example of this is another former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell. (It’s interesting to note that Rendell included Tom Ridge on the list of retired US officials who lobby for the Iranian group MEK, which is on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Groups.) Rendell spoke along with George W. Bush at a gas industry conference, in which grassroots environmentalists were called “eco-terrorists.”

Rendell promoted the gas industry as governor. The amount of damage done to the land, air, and water during his time as governor is obscene. Three of his top aides are now employed by the gas industry. And Rendell is invested in the industry, but does not reveal this financial interest when he lobbies for the industry. (NYS senator Tom Libous was recently exposed for lying about his gas investments; if it’s wrong for a republican slime to do so, it is -- at very least -- equally wrong for a democrat to do so.)

But Rendell is not alone among high-profile democrats in promoting the gas industry. This movie shows that President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton strongly advocated for “American” gas corporations to have access to resources in Asia and Europe. Indeed, this is but part of the master plan for gas to be the fuel of the next century, and for corporations like Shell to control that gas supply.

The movie documents many other very important issues. Among them is the utter frustration of the mid-level US EPA workers: they are sincerely motivated to help protect the environment, and people, but are handcuffed by bureaucrats at higher levels. (National security, don’t you know?)

In my opinion, the only way to combat this threat -- and hold the actual environmental terrorists of the Dick Cheney ilk responsible for their crimes against nature -- is found in the grass roots activism that can breath new life into the now decaying Constitutional Democracy that we call the United States of America. We need to become that filtration system that can protect life on Earth. And, by no coincidence, to do so, we need to think and act in the manner described in the Erich Fromm quote.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight!

H2O Man

Gasland 2 Review

Last night, my oldest daughter and I went to see “Gasland 2” in Binghamton, N.Y. The movie, which will be broadcast on HBO in August, is outstanding. In fact, we both felt that it was, if anything, better than the 2010 “Gasland.” More, we agreed that a person should watch the original, in order to fully understand and appreciate the more unsettling sequel.

I’ll start by saying that I think highly of Josh Fox. We first met in January of 2012, at the Capital Building in Albany, N.Y. There was a huge pro-environment, anti-hydro racking rally that day, and I was one of the speakers. It was also what proved to be the last day of my hunger strike; state senator Tom Libous finally met with me, after his aides told him about my speech. (I noted that a growing number of high school students were writing letters-to-the-editors of area newspapers, and were planning demonstrations outside of three of his satellite offices. This upset Libous. No politician wants high school students saying that he is doing what they are learning elected representatives are supposed to be doing -- especially not in the media.)

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with Josh by way of the computer since then. I’m highly impressed with a young man who is a genius in communicating the truth about what I believe is the most important environmental crisis of this time. Neither the positive nor negative aspects of “fame” have gone to his head. Now, that is hard to prevent: it requires that a person be extremely well-grounded. I found myself thinking of a passage from Erich Fromm:


“Faith in the being mode of existence means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.

“The willingness to be born requires courage and faith. Courage to let go of certainties; courage to be different and to stand alone; courage, as the Bible puts it in the story of Abraham, to leave one’s own land and family and to go to a land yet unknown. Courage to be concerned with nothing but the truth, the truth not only in thought but in one’s feelings as well.

“This courage is possible only on the basis of faith. Faith not in the sense in which the word is often used today, as a belief in some idea that cannot be proved scientifically or rationally, but faith in the meaning that it has in the Old Testament, where the word faith (Emunah) means certainty; to be certain of the reality of one’s own experience in thought and feeling, to be able to trust it, to rely on it, this is faith.”
-- Erich Fromm; The Creative Attitude; pages 53-54.


I do not want to “spoil” the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I think that I can discuss some aspects of it here, without ruining it.

The film opens with a scene from over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s July 4, 2010, and Josh is able to film close to the BP oil “spill.” It immediately brought back all of the terrible images from that time …..but it was worse, in that it showed what BP had been able to keep off of the corporate news at that time. Josh notes that “no matter how huge the catastrophe, what matters is who tells the story.”

That is true in the case of fracking, as well. Because the mainstream media is owned by large corporations that are invested in things such as “energy” and the “military-industrial complex,” the public is presented with a highly inaccurate picture of fracking. This goes beyond the commercials on television, or the panel discussions on news programs. And I’ll address that in a moment.

The energy corporations are aware that 5% of all wells will leak upon the completion of being drilled. That is, of course, because the casing of one in twenty wells leaks. So when the gas industry tells the public about all of the benefits of 100,000 wells in Pennsylvania, they avoid mentioning that 5,000 will leak on Day One. Or that according to their internal reports, 50% of the wells will fail and leak extremely toxic wastes into the water supply. Nor will they discuss the truth about the more immediate dangers that the millions of gallons of toxic waste-water from “good” wells produces.

The planet Earth is living; it provides a natural filtration system that protects living things, including human beings. But the Earth does not “clean” the poisons used in fracking. Hence, those toxins spread through the water supply, and are absorbed by living things, including human beings. The “master plan” of the energy corporations not only threatens the living environment (parts of which are already seriously damaged), but our living Constitutional Democracy (parts of which are already severely damaged). Let’s take a look at how this man-made disease is being spread.

Some members of this forum would not like much of what I’m about to say. Few of those folks will read this, though …..which is really too bad, because if they really took an objective look at the points I’m going to make, they would find that I’m right (though not because I’m saying it), and would then have to decide between opposing a dangerous threat to our country, or to admit that sheer greed trumps the health and well-being of their community.

The energy corporations are viewing the populations that live upon regions rich in underground gas in the exact same way they view any Third World people who have some natural resources they seek to plunder and exploit. I do not say that lightly, or for shock value. It is the truth. And it goes far, far beyond the gas industry’s hiring the same public relations firm that the tobacco industry employed 60 years ago, to promote “risk free” smoking products.

Indeed, it goes beyond the gas industry’s hiring private intelligence groups, such as the Institute of Terrorism, Research, and Response” to outline -- and execute -- plans to discredit, disrupt, and destroy local grassroots opposition groups. (If that reminds readers of the movie “Promised Land,” or of FBI director Hoover’s infamous March 4, 1968 memorandum, it should.)

The gas industry also makes use of paid puppets to go on the news programs and say, “There is no conclusive scientific evidence that connects fracking to the contamination of even a single water well.” And where is the greatest number of paid liars found, ready and eager to prostitute their fame for money? Why, in the world of politics -- primarily in the “retired” politicians who would walk a mile for a camera.

So it is no surprise that republican Tom Ridge works for the gas pimps. Ridge was the governor of Pennsylvania, before becoming the head of the Office of Homeland Security. It was during his time at OHS that the Pennsylvania grassroots environmental advocates were labeled as “potential eco-terrorists” by that agency. This led to the energy corporations being provided assistance by the U.S. military -- you know, to prevent the terrible threat of eco-terrorism that environmentalists pose.

What services do the energy corporations get from the military? As “Gasland 2” documents, they are the operations known as “psyops” (psychological operations), long part of the military’s “psywar” (psychological warfare) in Third World countries that U.S. corporations seek to exploit.

The film also provides documentation on how democratic politicians are serving as advocates for the gas industry. An ugly example of this is another former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell. (It’s interesting to note that Rendell included Tom Ridge on the list of retired US officials who lobby for the Iranian group MEK, which is on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Groups.) Rendell spoke along with George W. Bush at a gas industry conference, in which grassroots environmentalists were called “eco-terrorists.”

Rendell promoted the gas industry as governor. The amount of damage done to the land, air, and water during his time as governor is obscene. Three of his top aides are now employed by the gas industry. And Rendell is invested in the industry, but does not reveal this financial interest when he lobbies for the industry. (NYS senator Tom Libous was recently exposed for lying about his gas investments; if it’s wrong for a republican slime to do so, it is -- at very least -- equally wrong for a democrat to do so.)

But Rendell is not alone among high-profile democrats in promoting the gas industry. This movie shows that President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton strongly advocated for “American” gas corporations to have access to resources in Asia and Europe. Indeed, this is but part of the master plan for gas to be the fuel of the next century, and for corporations like Shell to control that gas supply.

The movie documents many other very important issues. Among them is the utter frustration of the mid-level US EPA workers: they are sincerely motivated to help protect the environment, and people, but are handcuffed by bureaucrats at higher levels. (National security, don’t you know?)

In my opinion, the only way to combat this threat -- and hold the actual environmental terrorists of the Dick Cheney ilk responsible for their crimes against nature -- is found in the grass roots activism that can breath new life into the now decaying Constitutional Democracy that we call the United States of America. We need to become that filtration system that can protect life on Earth. And, by no coincidence, to do so, we need to think and act in the manner described in the Erich Fromm quote.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight!

H2O Man

Gasland 2

The movie Gasland 2 will be playing tonight at Binghamton, NY's West Middle School. The doors open at 6 pm, with the film starting at 6:30. Josh Fox will be there, and will hold a "Q&A" session after the movie.

Two D.U. reporters will be there. It would be nice to see other area DUers there!

Robinson vs Mayweather

ESPN’s internet boxing site has an interesting article on it today, about a “dream fight” between two of the Great Sport’s all-time best welterweight champions. In it, several of ESPN’s boxing experts discuss a “super fight” between Sugar Ray Robinson and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Such fantasy fights are, of course, about what would likely have happened if two men, from different generations, had fought when each were at their peak?

For the article, see:
http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/9330198/floyd-mayweather-jr-vs-sugar-ray-robinson

I think it might be fun to discuss this “dream fight” here on my favorite sports forum. I’ll start, by writing my thoughts, in hopes that others here will contribute, as well. In past years, participants on the Democratic Underground’s sports forum have discussed similar topics, such as history’s best heavyweight champions, and a dream fight between the great Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.

In general, I am probably best described as rigid in my way of thinking about such things. I usually only think about fights that are actually going to, or are likely to happen. (Also, I only read factual books by habit, not having read any work of fiction since 1975.) But the ESPN article sparked my imagination, in large part because in discussions with my son on how someone might possibly defeat Mayweather, I’ve used the example of Sugar Ray.

It has been over 60 years since anyone has seen Robinson fight as a welterweight. His later careeer was in the middleweight division. And, while there is film of Ray in the middleweight division, none exists of his at welterweight. Now, that’s a damn shame, and for many reasons. First, Ray was definitely at his best at welterweight. Though he had numerous great fights at middleweight, and the films of those is awe-inspiring, he was past his prime.

Ray held the welterweight title once (1946-51), and the middleweight crown five times between 1951-60. The reason he held the middleweight title five times was because he lost it four times in the ring, and was then stripped of it for inactivity the last time. Robinson fought at a time when boxing had eight weight divisions (there are 17 today), and one champion in each division (there are four commission’s “titles” in each today). Thus, Ray’s beating 14 opponents who held world titles is distinct from Mayweather’s beating 18 opponents who have held titles. Likewise, Robinson’s six titles is distinct from Floyd’s eight.

Mayweather is undefeated in 44 pro fights, with 26 knockouts; he was 84-6 in the amateurs. Ray retired in 1965 with a record of 173-19-6 (108 knockout wins, 1 lose); he had been 85-0 as an amateur. (As an amateur, Ray scored 69 knockouts, with 40 coming in the first round.) However, it is worth noting that Ray had first retired in 1952, with a 131-3-2 record, before making a comeback three years later. Boxers fought much more frequently then, and for far less money. Ray returned to the ring, because he was broke.

At 5’ 11’ tall, Ray had a 3-inch advantage over Floyd. That is important -- or would have been, had they fought -- because Ray knew how to use his height. However, Floyd’s 72” reach was just a half-inch less than Ray’s, and Mayweather is a master at exploiting distances in the ring.

I believe that Ray hit harder. He was a combination-puncher, who had a superb body-attack. Floyd’s hands are faster. Both had/have very good footwork, and were/are capable of fighting coming forward, going side-to-side, or moving backwards.

Both men have defeated almost everyone in the welterweight division. Ray refused to fight Charlie Burley, and Floyd did not fight Manny Pacquiao. However, Ray never fought a welterweight as good as Floyd, and Mayweather has never fought a welterweight as good as Robinson.

In a very real sense, both Ray and Floyd were not only the very best welterweights of their era, but one would have to search the history of the sport to find anyone besides Sugar Ray Leonard that might have beaten them in their primes.

Robinson competed in the era of 15-round title fights, with weigh-ins the morning of the bout. Floyd fights in the era of 12-round title fights, with weigh-ins the day before the bout. Still, both were highly-trained athletes, who tended to be at their peak at their fight weights, and not known for having trouble cutting weight, or gaining weight between the weigh-in and fight.

I would favor Ray to win by decision. He tended to throw more punches per round than Floyd, and that provides an advantage on the scorecards. However, Floyd hasn’t been pushed to where he has needed to throw more punches than he does; hence, one could argue that he would respond to Ray’s activity by increasing his own. Also, Robinson was not nearly as talented defensively as Mayweather. And if there was ever a welterweight smart enough to exploit Robinson’s weaknesses, it would surely be Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

What do you think?

Comey: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

“I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about expediency. I don’t care about friendship. I care about doing the right thing.”
-- James Comey; US Senate confirmation hearings, October 2003.


On May 29, 2013, it was announced that President Obama would appoint James Comey to replace Robert Mueller III as the director of the FBI. This does not come as a surprise, since Comey is one of President Obama’s potential next choices for a seat on the US Supreme Court. It seems fair to say, however, that not all Democrats are pleased with Comey being appointed as FBI director, and that the possibility of his being placed on the USSC would be viewed negatively by those same folks.

Not surprisingly, a number of forum members here have voiced opposition to yesterday’s White House announcement. Likewise, some expressed support, and still others are taking a “wait-and-see” position. Because of this, I thought it might be worthwhile for me to contribute an essay that takes an objective look at Comey.

There are enough “good” and “bad” things about James B. Comey, Jr., that I’m confident this can only serve to reinforce the opinions people have already had about him. In fact, I’d be shocked if anything that I know about him changes anyone’s thinking about him being selected to serve as the director of the FBI. But I did notice that a few opinions that have been expressed about Comey suggested that he is relatively unknown to many forum participants.

Comey graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1982. He majored in chemistry and religion. Curiously, for his thesis, he wrote a comparison of the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr and Jerry Falwell, a snake oil salesman who was exercising significant political influence at that time. In my opinion, that was an interesting topic for a 22-year old to consider at the time.

Three years later, he earned his degree at the University of Chicago Law School. He served as a clerk to US District Court Judge John Walker, Jr.; and then joined a law firm. Comey also taught at the University of Richmond School of Law.

From 1996 to 2001, Comey was a deputy at the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted the Gambino crime family, and was lead prosecutor in the Khobar Towers bombing case.

In 2001, NY Senator Chuck Schumer helped get Comey appointed as the US Attorney for the Southern District, NY. He started in that position in January, 2002. His primary focus there was prosecuting corporate crimes. One of the cases that came up involved Martha Stewart, who was being investigated for securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Comey would prosecute Stewart for the obstruction charge.

On December 11, 2003, Comey became second in charge of the Office of the Attorney General. Being selected by the Bush White House to serve John Ashcroft gives us good reason to question if President Obama is making a terrible choice now. Let’s take a minute to consider why he was picked then, and how he served Ashcroft.

Let’s start by agreeing that John Ashcroft is a bad example of humanity, and an even worse politician. Uptight, judgmental, and a close personal friend of Injustice Clarence Thomas, Ashcroft is the type of “christian” who would reject Reinhold while embracing Falwell. As two-term governor of Missouri, Ashcroft was a typical “law and order” republican: he increased the number of both police, and inmates serving long sentences in state prison. And he was strongly opposed to “hate crimes” legislation.

Ashcroft also served in the US Senate. His primary role was being a lap dog for industry. However, he did join Russ Feingold in holding hearings on racial profiling, and stated that it was clearly unconstitutional. Ashcroft even recommended that police be ordered to keep statistics on those they pulled over, etc.

Now, let’s be clear: John Ashcroft did not do this for the right reason. Rather, he was ambitious, believing that he had the “right stuff” to win the presidency. After Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election, and Clarence and friends over-ruled the American voters by installing George W. Bush instead, Ashcroft took the position of Attorney General. He hoped it would add to his list of qualifications for high office in the future.

The Bush-Cheney administration included two sects (which did have some overlap). There were Cheney’s necroconservatives, in charge of “foreign policy” ( this included oil interests and war hawks). Another group, which included Ashcroft, had domestic policy as their primary interest; this group included several Yale “skull & bones” fellows, by no coincidence.

This is not to suggest that Ashcroft would oppose the Cheneyites’ war policies in the Middle East. Indeed, his perverted form of christianity was invested in the very concept. However, by mid-2003, the administration was involved in the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and dealing with both the Patriot Act and the Plame Scandal at home. This created problems for Ashcroft. Friends told journalists that these events caused as much trouble for poor John as his wife’s discovering that he was engaged in a kinky sexual affair with Michelle Bachman. (Okay: I just made that last part up ….not so much out of thin air, as being the result of the cold beer I am consuming in the 90+ degree upstate New York weather. Still, I have no evidence that it is NOT true, enough to convict many in America.)

It wasn’t only people like Karl Rove and Scooter Libby who were becoming the focus of controversy. Alberto Gonzales and others closer to Ashcroft than Cheney were also sitting on the hot seat. Ashcroft brought in Comey so that he could recuse himself from certain controversies -- a practice that should not inspire trust in Attorney Generals, in my view. And, again, it is important to keep in mind that at this time, Ashcroft was still intent upon a future presidential run.

In March, 2003, the Justice Department deemed the domestic spying program “Stellar Wind” to be illegal. The following day, Ashcroft became seriously ill with pancreatitis, and was hospitalized in rough condition. Comey, as acting director of the Justice Department, refused to sign on to the spy program. Thus, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales were dispatched to the Washington University Hospital to have Ashcroft “sign” on to Stellar Wind.

Alerted to this, Comey and Jack Goldsmith (also from Justice), rushed to the hospital to keep Ashcroft’s limp, semi-conscious body from “signing” the papers Card and Gonzales were bringing. At the time, the limp and para-conscious corporate media hinted at what was going on, but it wasn’t until Comey’s May 16, 2007 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Comey confirmed what had happened.

Comey testified that both Robert Mueller and he were prepared to resign in protest, if President Bush had signed the objectionable parts of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program into law. Bush was alerted to the potentially damaging resignations -- more were preparing to join Mueller and Comey -- and so he met with Comey. (His testimony indicated that Comey was shocked at how uninformed Bush was of what was the Cheneyites’ policy.) Bush made minor changes, and over-ruled Justice.

Certainly, one can make a solid case that Comey should have opposed the Patriot Act, and programs like “Stellar Wind” more forcefully, and resigned when Bush decided to follow most of VP Cheney’s unconstitutional plan for the militarization of American society. And that is an important point -- at least in my opinion: the USA is not a police state today, it’s a military state. And as a military state, that Bill of Rights is being crushed and destroyed.

Comey was involved in the investigation of a related series of crimes, known collectively as the “Plame Scandal.” During his confirmation hearings, Senator Schumer had asked James pointedly what he was prepared to do about the scandal? Comey said that he would have an answer for Schumer in early January. In fact, he would appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor to handle the case.

There were republicans who strongly opposed Fitzgerald’s being appointed to anything. Two examples are Peter Fitzgerald (Senator) and Dennis Hastert ( Governor/ Congressman).Hastert, for younger readers, was a sad excuse for a Speaker of the House. After Newt Gingrich stepped down in utter disgrace in 1998, the republican party picked Bob Livingston to serve as Speaker; Hustler magazine put an end to that. Their next choice was Dick Armey; he was exposed as being himself. Next, they looked to Tom DeLay. Finally, they agreed upon the 4th choice -- Dennis Hastert. (See the September 2005 article in Vanity Fair per Sibel Edmonds’ information on Hastert’s friendship with a Turkish target of intelligence surveillance.)

On December 30, Comey named Fitzgerald to handle the Plame Scandal; Will Pitt wrote what I consider the best article on the scandal to date; and I joined the Democratic Underground.

The investigation began as an effort to determine if the “leak” of Valerie Plame’s name had violated the Intelligence Identities Security Act. Early on, Fitzgerald saw that there was a coordinated effort -- coming specifically from the Office of the Vice President -- to cover-up accurate information on the scandal. Hence, Fitzgerald approached Comey, and convinced him to write a letter that officially expanded the scope of the investigation -- to include going after those engaged in the cover-up.

The rest of that chapter is fairly well-known. Fitzgerald was successful in prosecuting Cheney’s top aide, Scooter Libby, on numerous felony charges. I had hoped that he would also prosecute Cheney, even though it was possible, even likely, that Dick would have been found “not guilty.” (Also, like his soul mate Dick Nixon per Watergate, Cheney believed that multiple claims of “national security” would have prevented his criminal prosecution.) Fitzgerald did offer his documentation of the case to Congress, should the House be interested in considering impeachment.

Since serving during the Bush administration, Comey has been employed by large corporations. Obviously, I think that is a big minus; the overlap between industry and government is the most dangerous threat to the United States. He is a registered republican, and donated to the campaigns of McCain and Romney.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for an FBI. In today’s world, the actual needs for justice should result in someone with the character of Senator Elizabeth Warren serving as the agency’s director -- or as Attorney General. But that isn’t going to happen. And it’s not only because of the repulsive republican jackasses in Washington. It’s because this administration includes people like Eric Holder.

Because of the limited options -- not to mention that people like you and I have no say whatsoever in this -- I think that Jim Comey is probably the very best choice that President Obama could make. At least Comey has, to an extent that exceeds almost any Democrat in DC, stood up on principle a few times. He has advocated prosecuting criminals from the bowels of the corporate government. And, while he is probably not someone that most of us would enjoy having a beer with, he appears to have some respect for the Bill of Rights.

Peace,
H2O Man

Campaigner

“I felt that I was being chased on all sides by a giant stampede. I was being forced over the edge by rioting blacks, demonstrating students, marching welfare mothers, squawking professors, and hysterical reporters ….”
-- President Lyndon B. Johnson; describing a recurrent nightmare to Doris Kearns Goodwin.


Politicians too often are cut off from serious communications with those they were elected to represent. This, of course, is because most are taking their orders from corporate interests who pay for their campaigns. And no politician cannot serve two masters.

No politicians are more removed than U.S. Presidents, who often exist in a glass bubble almost as protected from everyday reality as the dark cave that VP Dick Cheney inhabited …..that cave being his skull.

Thus, many of us remember being mildly surprised when “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, was published in 1977. LBJ was not known, during his presidency, for being sympathetic with those who disagreed with him. Yet, on some level -- perhaps a combination of conscious, unconscious, and subconscious -- Johnson heard the citizens who loudly and boldly challenged him.

Older forum members will recall the May 18, 1970 edition of TIME, which confirmed that President Richard Nixon with anti-war students late one night, at the Lincoln Memorial. In numerous books since, it has been documented that Tricky Dick was intoxicated at the time. The Secret Service agents could not keep him from trying to communicate -- and yes, justify -- his adventure in Cambodia, which resulted in so much campus unrest. This made it easier for some of us to sing “Campaigner” along with Neal Young.

Today a brave woman spoke up at President Obama’s event. One might agree with her; or with the administration’s drone policy; or even see some good and bad in either or both. Just as one can like the President or not; think he’s doing a good job or not; or maybe think there are various examples ranging from “good” to “bad” in his job performance.

But we should appreciate the woman’s dedication to truth as she sees it; President Obama’s response; and we should not lose faith that a dedicated group of citizens exercising their Amendment 1 rights can gain the attention of the US President.
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