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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 52,040

Journal Archives

Speaking with Igjugarjuk

“The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and it can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone can open the mind of a person to all that is hidden from others.”
-- Igjugarjuk; Eskimo shaman; 1922.


A couple nights ago, I was on the internet site “Face Book,” when one of my cousins asked if it was okay if she called me. She is much younger than I am, and lives in a different part of the country. Two months ago, we had the opportunity to talk on the phone, and get to know one another. So I was happy to have another chance to talk with her. (She called at 9:45 pm, and we talked until a little past 2:30 am.)

She was aware that, on the “other side” of my family, my cousin and his son had been shot. We talked about that, and another murder case from Binghamton, NY, from years ago. A 12-year old girl was collecting on her paper route; a sociopath, James Wales, invited her to step inside his home while he got the money. You can guess the rest. Currently, the girl’s parents are petitioning the parole board, requesting that Wales not be paroled.

My cousin, who lived in the area at that time, had had her life changed by that event. Her father (my uncle) was the detective who solved the murder of her young friend. She had contacted the girl’s parents earlier in the day, to offer support in lobbying the parole board. The father told her that I had sent a powerful letter of support earlier in the day. Although I had been employed in a different county, my work at the mental health clinic had an area of overlap with that case; my letter to the parole board detailed why the murderer would always pose a threat to the community if released.

We talked about the ways in which people respond to tragic events. I told her that I try to be thankful for what life deals me. She said that she was going to “call the ‘bullshit card’,” as it was not possible to be thankful for a friend or relative being murdered. I agreed that I am not thankful for such a thing. Rather, when confronted with such a horrible events, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to know the person. I’m thankful for having had that relationship to enrich my life. And I’m thankful that I have the chance to be supportive of others, who are going through the pain and suffering from their loss.

We also discussed the concept of forgiveness. Not some sappy type of emotion. But she and I come from a large extended family, and there are some members who don’t get along. And people who hold grudges as if they are a treasured family heirloom, long after the memory of what ever caused the hostility has faded. Maybe it’s that way in lots of American families these days. But I have a hunch that Irish-American clans hold the national championship for such things. There are advantages to be accrued, I told her, in letting go of these conflicts.

Again, my Wonderful Cousin called the “bullshit card” -- for she knew that I have family members who I have not spoken with in many years. So I told her a story -- a true story that is a bit humorous, though pathetic: Last year, I encountered an old friend, a man I had not seen in over twenty years. After we talked for a bit, he said, “You’re a hard man to get a hold of.” He had tried, perhaps a decade earlier, by calling my mother’s house. My mother told him that I had died, and hung up. He felt terrible, so bad that he tracked down one of my sisters. He told her that he felt horrible, that he surely would have attended my funeral, had he but known.

My sister explained that I was still actually alive, and “dead” only to our mother. My friend asked her how to get in touch with me? She said that she didn’t know, as we hadn’t communicated in over a decade.

“Forgiving” doesn’t translate into being close to the other person. Rather, it means divesting in the acrimonious feelings that hold one back in life. It means accepting that the other person is who s/he is, and moving forward from there. There are some family members that you may have a cyclical relationship with, and others where it is best to simply let go of. My cousin said, “But that’s hard ….” I replied, “It isn’t harder than continuing an unhealthy relationship.”

Family feuds are anchors that hold us in dark and bitter places. Acceptance allows us to move forward, and to re-define what “family” means. Our society’s current family systems have only been in place for a very short period of human history. They are a reaction to our economic system, which seeks to dictate the boundaries of human relationships. (Agricultural societies = extended farm families; industrial = nuclear; high-tech = single parent/ blended.) Do not allow the plastic definitions dictate your options.

Again, we discussed how hard it can be, especially when those with whom we should be close turn against us for reasons that we don’t understand. Yet, it is more difficult to hold on to those wounds. We benefit from accepting life on life’s terms. And when circumstances bring us to that great loneliness, we benefit from looking inside, rather than outside of ourselves. It’s only that which can allow us to begin to heal, and return to our attempt to make our lives as normal as possible.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be spending time with the maternal side of my extended family. My cousin who was shot on 10-27 was in the hospital when his son’s funeral was held. So we are having a memorial service and meal, with about 125 people. Luckily -- as far as I know -- I get along well with all of them. I’m hoping that it will be the last funeral-type of gathering that I have to attend.

Peace,
H2O Man

Case Update (Grand Jury)

Good evening, Friends:

I’ve got to drive my daughter home from basketball practice, then attend a school board meeting. I’m often at these until after 11 pm, so I wanted to update people on my cousin’s case.

This morning, the Chenango County (NY) grand jury heard testimony about John Guzy, 56, of Bainbridge, who shot my cousin and his son in a case of “road rage” on 10-27. They returned indictments for the following:

-- murder, 2nd degree;
-- attempted murder, 2nd;
-- two counts assault, 1st;
-- two counts criminal use of a firearm, 1st;
-- two counts criminal possession of a firearm, 3rd;
-- tampering with physical evidence;
-- operating a MV at .08 or more BAC, misdemeanor;
-- six counts possession of firearm, 4th degree.

Also, I had another op-ed in the Norwich newspaper; it is not available on-line. And yet a third should be in another area newspaper this evening, again not available on-line (for a week).

Off to pick up my daughter.

Peace,
H2O Man

What's in a Name?

Let’s try a little mental exercise here. Suppose that you were competing in DU Jeopardy. You pick “Democratic Presidents” for 1,000. The question requires that you provide a name for Grover Cleveland’s presidency.

Tick-tock-tick-tock …..

The “New Freedom”? “New Deal”? “Fair Deal”? “New Frontier”? Maybe the “Great Society”? Nope. These were, of course, the names associated with the democratic presidents that followed Cleveland, up through 1968. (The republican scoundrel Richard Nixon is, of course, remembered for “Watergate.” )

After winning the presidency in 1976, Jimmy Carter became the first democrat in the White House since Cleveland to not have a name for his overall program goals. I think it is fair to say that both at the time, and looking back, his presidency did not have the focus of those before him. While neither Clinton or Obama have had labels for their agendas, it has been easier than with Carter to identify what their focus has been.

Thus, I am curious if you think there is any advantage to having such descriptions of intent? Does it help the various factions within the party to identify with what an administration’s goals are? Might it highlight what the true agenda of the republican opposition is all about?

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Rather, it is simple a matter of opinion.

Pacquiao vs Algieri

Saturday, November 22, at Macau, Chine; on HBO PPV:
Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri; 12 rounds; for Pac Man’s WBO welterweight title.


On paper, when an undefeated , 30 year old who stands 5’ 10” tall, with a 72” reach fights a 35-year old, who has been knocked out in three of his five loses, and is 5’ 6.5” tall, with a 67” reach, I’d say the young man will enter the ring with some significant advantages.

But when he’s fighting Manny Pacquiao, those advantages may be meaningless. Despite the evidence that Pac Man’s uncanny skill set has declined in recent years -- he hasn’t scored a knockout since 2009, was beaten twice in 2012, including being devastated by Juan Manuel Marquez -- he is an all-time great, who is still a great fighter.

Manny returned after the consecutive loses in November of 2013, and easily decisioned an intimidated Brandon Rios. Five months later, he avenged the controversial loss to Timothy Bradley. While it’s hard to look good against a guy who is merely trying to survive until the finally bell, Pacquiao was impressive in decision Bradley. Although Bradley won 4,4, and 2 rounds on the judges’ scorecards, and most rounds were competitive, Manny appeared in control throughout the fight.

There is a saying in boxing that a fighter can “get old” in the ring during a fight. Bernard Hopkins has stated that fighters actually “get old” in the gym, although the fans first see the effects during a fight. Those familiar with Manny’s training routine are aware that he has aged in the gym. Two former sparring partners in particular -- Amir Khan and Ruslan Provodnikov -- came to give him problems in sparring. Khan due to his size and speed; Provodnikov due to his strength and power. Both of these men have reached a point where they have expressed interest in fighting Manny.

Algieri was an undefeated, though parochial, contender who was brought in by promoters to highlight Provodnikov’s skills in June. In the first round, Algieri was floored by a hard punch, one that caused his eye to rapidly swell closed. A few seconds later, he voluntarily took a knee to clear his head. It appeared that he would be stopped by the brutal Provodnikov within a round or two.

However, by the second round, his head had cleared, and he began to anticipate what his much stronger, but slower opponent would do. It became a close, very competitive fight, that could easily have been scored in favor of either man. Algieri was awarded the 12-round decision, and became the WBO junior welterweight titlist. That victory would earn him the opportunity to become Pacquiao’s next opponent.

Other than the win, however, there is little in Algieri’s past to suggest that he belongs in the same ring with Manny. He did decision Emmanuel Taylor in February of 2014, and Taylor is a top ten contender. Taylor beat Karim Mayfield in his next fight, then lost to Adrian Broner; both are top ten contenders. But there is more than a hint of “set-up” here: Pac Man needs an impressive knockout, in order to turn the tide of his decreasing PPV sales. Bob Arum picked Algieri as a low-risk opponent, hoping to prepare Pacquiao for a big fight next spring.

If Floyd Mayweather choose to fight Algieri, he would be attacked by boxing “experts” and a large cross-section of the boxing community for picking a lamb for slaughter. Manny’s trainer, Freddie Roach, is predicting a one round knockout. Few people think that Algieri has a chance of winning.

I think that Manny should be able to close the show by the seventh round. If I were to focus on Algieri’s best chance, though, I’d look at two things. First, he does have the height and reach that could translate to big advantages, if he knows how to capitalize on them. Second, while he hasn’t fought at this level before, Algieri’s last two victories were against quality opponents. More, he has shown the intelligence and heart required to come back from adversity. He hasn’t displayed the punching power to pose a threat to knock Pac Man out, or hurt him seriously with any one blow. But he might be able to keep Pacquiao at arm’s length, make a rather slow-paced fight, and come out on top after twelve rounds.

Lessons from Past Primaries

There was an valuable OP/thread on DU:GD earlier today, that focused on the 1984 democratic primary, in an interesting attempt to shed light on the upcoming 2016 primary season. There were a range of opinions expressed on the thread -- raising what I consider valid points. However, the author of the OP shut the thread down; I think this was due to some disagreements regarding the article he cited in the OP.

As there weren’t “arguments,” “fights,” or “hostility” in the thread, and because the overall theme of the discussion was good, I thought that I’d attempt to kick-start a discussion on what (if anything) we might benefit from looking at 1984 for insight on 2016. Like the old saying goes: “those who do not learn from history are likely to repeat it; while those who do learn from history seem to end up watching other folks repeat the same mistakes, over and over.” Or something akin to that.

As we might all agree, Walter Mondale won the democratic nomination in 1984. He then made a historic choice for his VP candidate, by selecting Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (NY). The two would eventually be defeated by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. I think it is fair to say that rarely, if ever, did the American voters make a worse choice.

Mondale was an honorable man, with solid democratic credentials. He had become active in politics at the age of twenty, as an organizer for Senator Hubert Humphrey. Like Humphrey ( the “Happy Warrior”), Mondale served with distinction and conscience as a US Senator, and went on to become Vice President of the United States.

Mondale -- like President Carter -- knew that their 1980 election loss to Reagan-Bush had been, in significant part, due to underhanded and illegal republican activities (regarding the hostages in Iran).Again like Carter, Mondale recognized Reagan as an inferior man, who benefited from Hollywood-style image-making. He entered the 1984 primaries for good reasons.

There were other democratic candidates in the primaries. These included Gary Hart; Jesse Jackson; John Glenn; George McGovern; Alan Cranston; and Fritz Hollings. Now, old-timers like myself remember that this field of candidates actually offered voters some very real choices. Good choices, too. Any one of these candidates would have been a thousand times better than Reagan. (Former Florida governor Reuben Askew also entered the race, though it was widely assumed his goal was to be considered as a potential VP.)

The most important “controversy” had to do with potential splits in the Democratic Party. Indeed, such splits had proven costly in three of the previous four elections: 1968, ‘72, and ‘80. There were at least three “wings” of the Democratic Party in 1984: the Kennedy Democrats; the social moderates; and the progressive, left-wing. The year 1968 was unique, and relatively few of the lessons from it applied to any other year. In ‘72, McGovern was widely and incorrectly portrayed as the candidate of “amnesty, abortion, and acid”; although he was actually a WW2 hero, his stance on ending the war in Vietnam was portrayed as “weak.” A substantial portion of democrats in Washington failed to support him. To be fair, his campaign was not particularly well organized.

Jimmy Carter did well in 1976. This included selecting Mondale for VP. Although the two were not close, Mondale was an effective vice president. Then in 1980, the primary season saw an ugly division between the Kennedy and moderate wings of the party. It is fair and accurate to say that the Jimmy Carter versus Ted Kennedy contest reflected a wide split within the party in Washington.

After everyone but Mondale, Hart, and Jackson had dropped out of the ‘84 contest, the former VP began to separate himself from the other two, with an increasing lead. Where I would disagree with the article linked to in the earlier OP was its claim that the party bosses said that Mondale was inevitable; rather, it was his campaign that projected that image. The major concern of the “party bosses” was that if the contest became bitter, it would polarize the various camps. This included what many thought could be a third-party run by Rev. Jackson.

In fact, that year’s Democratic Party Convention proved to be outstanding. Mondale, Hart, and Jackson all got respectable numbers of delegates’ votes. (Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern, John Glenn, Joe Biden, and Martha Kirkland also got at least one delegate.) There were two speeches that towered above all of the others; these were delivered by Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson. Those two speeches hold up well today. And, of course, Mondale picked Ferraro as VP.

Things seemed to be going very well, especially after the first televised debate between a relaxed Mondale and a feeble Reagan. In the second debate, Reagan delivered a few glib lines, and Mondale’s reaction appeared to be polite and more focused on issues. He also was honest in addressing the issue about potential tax increases. And the media worked overtime in trying to convince the public that Reagan represented “a new morning in America.”

The primary contest and general election were, obviously, far more complex than what I’ve said here. There were valuable lessons to be learned from it. I think it offers a fascinating topic of conversation, including how it might apply to the upcoming 2016 contests. Others will remember different aspects -- or interpret some parts differently. But that is one of the best things about this forum.

Peace,
H2O Man

Op-Ed

The family and friends of the fellow who recently shot two of my relatives have been spreading a handful of lies, in an attempt to justify his violence. I understand that they are attempting to make sense out of a senseless act. More, I can appreciate that there can be a level of discomfort when the media reports that one's family member or friend committed a brutal, unprovoked attack upon two innocent victims.

Their original story went like this: Two non-residents, passing through the area, selected their family member to rob. They forced him off the road, and confronted him with weapons -- a gun and a knife. It was only after being stabbed three times that their hero -- a retired NYC cop and current part-time deputy sheriff -- acted in self-defense, shooting the father and son hoodlums.

While this is an extremely weak work of fiction (he was arrested literally 5 minutes after telling this to the detective interviewing him), my relatives find it insulting and hurtful. In an era when rumors and lies spread by way of social media, unchallenged all too often, the fact that no newspaper, or television/ radio station has reported on it, hasn't stopped it from spreading.

Hence, I have submitted four "guest op-eds" to the four most important newspapers in our region. Today, the first one appeared in the Binghamton, NY newspaper. I was pleased to find that the editors had included a photograph of the murderer with my essay; while I do not favor judging based upon appearances, I think that photo captures the guy's essence.

Below is a link to the op-ed. I've had a pretty positive response from people who have read it. In each of the four essays, I tried to focus on a different aspect of the shooting incident and the legal process. I hope that they serve the intended purpose: to provide education to the general public.

Also, I recognize that I've been posting quite a few times about this case. I suppose that you've figured out that it has been occupying a lot of my time recently. I really do want to thank all of you who read what I'm posting, and express your support for me at this difficult time. DU's grumpy old (water) man surely does appreciate it!

Peace,
H2O Man

http://www.pressconnects.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/11/16/legalities-aside-right-wrong-clear/19044001/

This Season

“For every thing there is a season, and a time for every matter …..”
-- Ecclesiates 3:1


I just dropped off a pile of completed paperwork at my cousin’s house. We reviewed that, and this week’s grand jury hearing on the case of the fellow who -- in an episode of “road rage” -- shot and seriously wounded my cousin, and killed his 26-year old son. I brought along my lady friend, who had accompanied me to the son’s funeral; my cousin was recovering from surgery at the time, and hadn’t met her.

It was fun to listen to the two of them talk “union talk.” She’s the vice president of the local teachers’ union, while he’s a retired carpenters’ union activist. She was recently at a training program that featured a coal miners’ union activist, and it turned out that he is someone my cousin knows. Both my cousin and friend are registered Democrats, and both are proud “leftists.” So you can imagine how fun it was for me to listen in on their conversation.

Yesterday, my cousin was in the hospital again. He had been experiencing extreme physical pain. And he is not the type to complain about discomfort, or low-to-moderate pain. I could see that he was having trouble breathing, because the pain was so intense. The doctor thought he had a hole in his bladder, which would require another emergency surgery. Tests showed that it was an abscess, about the size of a silver dollar. He’s on antibiotics to treat it, which is easier than another surgery.

The stark reality of his son being dead -- he died cradled in my cousin’s arms -- continues to be more painful than the abscess. Because he’s dealing with recovering from being shot himself, he is limited physically, and so even getting around his house is difficult. His father, who is 86-years old, is dealing (in part) with the loss by cutting and splitting firewood.

My uncle already has enough for the next two winters, but started on another supply to season ahead. I’m impressed by Elders who are this active physically. Both my aunt and uncle are active people, two of the most intelligent human beings that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. They are both FDR Democrats, who find very few current politicians to meet their basic definition of what it means to be a true Democrat.

One of his nephews was at my cousin’s house yesterday evening when I was there, splitting firewood for him. He came in after doing the work, and the three of us sat and talked for a while. My cousin and I told him some stories about our grandfather -- his great grandfather -- who he was fortunate enough to know when he was a wee little boy.

My grandfather’s son was murdered in 1969, after winning a couple hands of cards at a local tavern. I remember that time period vividly, and of course, recent events bring it back into focus for those in the family old enough to remember it. There was not much of an investigation back then, as it was a time when the death of a “half-breed” Native American who lived in the margin of society -- in a house without electricity, providing for his family “off the land” -- didn’t count for much in the larger society. That it happened in a bar probably didn’t help.

Every so often, when I can’t be “busy” dealing with things such as piles of paperwork, or transporting my cousin to meet with someone connected to this case by way of the legal system, it hits me. My uncle being murdered; his son -- a US Marine -- being murdered over a $10 bag of weed, a generation later. My nephew being attacked and left for dead, by a racist “hate gang.” (The gang leader got a $50 fine for this.) I also remember when I was 15, and my sweet heart was raped and murdered by a thug, who used a chainsaw to try to dispose of the “evidence.”

There are times when all that pain and the utter loneliness that this type of separation from loved ones inflicts upon human beings, begins to wear my down. Yet, talking to this young man -- who has the same blood flowing through his veins that I have in mine, and that my grandfather had in his -- brings some relief, even encouragement.

I wish that this would be the last generation in our family to have to deal with this type of thing. But I do take some comfort in knowing that young men such as this wonderful young man will be here, to help guide our own through troubled times. I’ve noticed how he and others of his generation are studying -- closely -- some of the things I do to attempt to assure that justice (not “revenge”) prevails. I’m honored to have the opportunity to do so.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Last Picnic: Keystone

“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate.”
-- Malcolm X

“If we can’t sit at that table, let’s knock the fucking legs off!”
-- James Forman


Within days of republican victories in the House and Senate election contests, the possibility of “compromise” on the proposed Keystone Pipeline was being floated in the media. This is, of course, a fiction -- there is no “compromise” -- either there is a Keystone Pipeline, or there is not. The only things that would be compromised by building the pipeline would be the environment, and any sense of ethics that our democratic representatives claim to have.

Throughout my adult life, I have advocated an informal coalition of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left to confront the republican machine. There are numerous areas where we share common interests, and can find common ground. Indeed, there are a substantial number of registered democrats who identify with the Democratic Left. I am one of them.

In my experience, the combined efforts of the Democratic Party and Democratic Left have been able to defeat republican candidates in local elections. This has been true, despite the fact that there are more registered republicans in this region of upstate New York, than there are democrats, third parties, or independents. That same combination was able to elect (and re-elect) Maurice Hinchey to the House of Representatives for years.

Yet, after Hinchey’s retirement, the democratic candidate failed to reach out to the Democrat Left, in the mistaken belief that he could take their support for granted. This same tactic was tried by other democratic candidates for state office this year, resulting in defeat. Only the governor was able to safely write off the left’s support.

The Democratic Left wants a seat at the table. Likewise, the left-wing of the Democratic Party does. We are sophisticated enough to know that “politics is the art of compromise.” We’re not demanding our way or the highway on the majority of issues. People can agree in general on issues such as the value of public education, yet have different opinions on how to best achieve the best results. Certainly, not everything has a “one size fits all” solution.

But there are a few issues where compromise is not an option. We shouldn’t be willing to compromise our ethics. We should never be willing to compromise on issues that present extreme dangers to human health and the living environment.

When democrats in Washington, DC, talk about “compromise” in the context of ethical issues, that’s fancy language for selling out. It means that they have more loyalty to energy corporations, than to human beings. With the 2016 elections looming less than two years away, “compromising” on the Keystone Pipeline would be as damaging to the Democratic Party, as the pipeline would be to the environment.

I am a loyal member of the Democratic Party. I’ve volunteered lots of hours in campaign headquarters, donated money. and gone door-to-door for numerous candidates over the decades. But I won’t donate a penny or vote for any candidate who I consider to be wrong on ethical issues. I won’t support a neoconservative, nor an energy industry lap dog. And I damn sure won’t ask anyone -- be they a member of the Democratic Party or the Democratic Left -- to do so, either.

At the same time, I will definitely remain as active a participant in politics as I have been. My efforts will include trying to reform the Democratic Party from the grass roots up. It will also include working with the Democratic Left. I think that is the best way to let those at the state and national level know that they cannot take people like myself for granted. If enough people do something similar, it will communicate clearly that their old “they have no where else to go” is simple not true.

Peace,
H2O Man

Regarding Elections: 2014 & '16

“If something is yours by right, then fight for it or shut up. If you can’t fight for it, then forget it.”
-- Malcolm X; London School of Economics; February, 1965.


Reading through DU:GD last night, I realized that I had not really made much comment on last week’s elections. In a nut-shell, I view events such as these as temporary set-backs, rather than utter defeats, so long as one learns a lesson from it. Thus, I began considering what quote to use at the top of an essay, to introduce that general theme.

Initially, I thought about Jim Morrison’s infamous rant while on stage in Miami. The old, “What are you gonna do about it?” rallying cry might well be as appropriate today, as Jim’s presentation was deemed inappropriate by the Miami police and court, way back when. But I didn’t want to risk offending DU’s community standards, so I kept my trousers zipped, and thought some more.

The Declaration of Independence came to mind. It is a power document, one that I think that liberals and progressives should read from time to time. In fact, it reminds me of the type of statement of purpose that Malcolm X might have made in his final year of life.

In the two short sentences quoted above, Malcolm says “fight for it” twice. That suggests it is a key point. He doesn’t say that the fight will be easy. Nor does he hint that if you do fight, you will achieve a clear victory. But he makes very clear the reality that if you don’t fight, there is zero chance of making progress, much less winning.

I am confident that very few, if any, members of this forum view last Tuesday as a good day for the Democratic Party. It definitely wasn’t. Some of the democrats who ran for office did not appear to be willing to fight. Rather, they seemed to be running from the fight. But the responsibility for the election outcome does not rest entirely upon the candidates.

Certainly, the cycle of “off year” elections came into play. Equally important is the tension between the progressive/ liberal wing, and the moderate/ conservative wing of the party.The dynamics being what they are, the vast majority of democratic candidates for governor and for the House and Senate were moderate/ conservative. As a result, we didn’t have “dynamic” candidates capable of creating enough “tension” to convince enough potential voters that these contests were important enough -- in the context of their lives -- to vote.

So, if one wants to, they could engage in finger-pointing at a wide range of people who likely bear some portion of the responsibility for the election of so many republicans. “If you didn’t vote, don’t complain” seems a fair statement. But it does not provide the entire answer to the problem, and thus offers no promise of resolving the problem in the future.

I believe it is equally fair to say that too many democratic candidates ran weak campaigns. More, I think the party’s “leaders” promoted too many weak candidates. And that there were too few serious primary challenges, giving voters a real choice. And on and on.

I do think it is important to study other people’s roles in campaigns and elections. And to evaluate how well they accomplish their tasks. Yet at the same time, “democracy” is something that belongs to us as individuals. It’s being stolen, of course, by powerful forces on the national level. And that theft trickles down to the local level, where all too often, jackasses who really aren’t very powerful at all are confident that they have license to steal what belongs to you and I. Now, that annoys me.

I’ve said -- probably several hundred times here on this forum -- that real change can only be accomplished from the grass roots up. But I know that my saying it doesn’t accomplish things. And that I have to fight for what is mine. So there is now two years before the next election cycle allows me to vote.

Between now and then, I’m not going to shut up, nor will I forget about it. I won’t put it on a back-burner, either, allowing it to cool until the next cycle comes around. Instead, I will be active at the grass roots level. I’ll work to register others to vote. Two groups that I will focus on are college students, and the poor. I will work to educate them, on how elections impact their day-to-day lives. And how their becoming active participants in the process translates to power.

I will also be in communication with those who are in positions that allow them to influence which candidates end up running on the democratic ticket -- from the local level right on up.

I want what is mine. And I think that you want what is your’s. So I am asking you to be active in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you,
H2O Man

Hopkins vs Kovalev

On November 8, Bernard Hopkins will meet Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight title unification bout. HBO will be televising the fight, which is being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Although the true light heavyweight champion is Adonis Stevenson, this fight -- which is for the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles -- is not only the best match-up in the division, it promises to be one of the most important in boxing this year.

Hopkins is, of course, one of the sport’s legendary figures. He secured his place high on the list of the greatest middleweight champions years ago, with a long and dominant reign. When it seemed that his age was finally catching up to him, and lost a pair of decisions to Jermain Taylor in 2005, he stunned the boxing community by moving up to light heavyweight, and beating Antonio Tarver for the title.

Over the next few years, Hopkins would continue to compete with some of the elite fighters at the higher weights. Although he would lose a couple of decisions, his fights were always close, and he continued to pull off upsets against much younger, less experienced top fighters. Although his fights were rarely exciting, it was impressive to watch this well-conditioned, supremely self-confident veteran use every trick in the book to defeat opponents at the top of their division.

This second half of his career is, as much as his middleweight reign, good reason to secure his ranking high among boxing’s all time greats. Yet, one could not help but wonder when he might be pushing it too far, and become old in the ring? As Bernard approaches the age of 50, the fight against Kovalev would be the most dangerous to have that happen.

Kovalev is 25-0-1, with 23 knockouts. Although Bernard is slightly taller, and has a reach advantage, Sergey is the naturally bigger man (he’s been a light heavyweight throughout his careeer, while Bernard has moved up to the division). He appears physically the stronger of the two, and definitely hits much harder. Indeed, one opponent died a few days after fighting Sergey, from injuries sustained in the bout. And he reportedly fractured his last opponent’s ribs with a stiff right to the body.

Kovalev’s path to victory seems rather obvious. He needs to dictate the pace in every round against his 49-year old opponent. He can’t allow Bernard to frustrate him on the inside, where Hopkins uses his head, shoulders, forearms, and elbows as weapons. Bernard’s best punch, at this point in his long career, is the right hand: he bends at the knees, ducks his head, and leaps at his opponent. No matter if the blow lands cleanly or not, he follows it with the top of his head. If the opponent is upright, Bernard pushes them back; if they’ve ducked, he pushes down on them. Both tactics are effective in tiring his opponent.

Sergey has to respond to these tactics by punishing Hopkins. This includes discouraging Bernard with a stiff jab. Then, when Hopkins lunges forward, he needs to respond by both landing hard punches, and also by using his greater strength inside. Hopkins does have two “no contests” -- both coming early in bouts where he was not ahead on the score cards. The first came as a result of wrestling while clinching. The second, which is more important, came when Chad Dawson responding to the lead right-lunge by tossing Bernard to the canvas. It was ironic that a master of “dirty tactics” howled when Dawson turned the tables on him, then refused to continue. Dawson beat Hopkins in their rematch more convincingly than did Joe Calzaghe (in a close bout that I though Hopkins won).

Kovalev does not seem intimidated by Hopkins’ pre-fight behavior. While he definitely respects his older foe, he seems amused by Bernard’s antics. Sergey has said that he is approaching this as a “street fight,” and is not looking for a knockout. If he maintains this mindset, he not only has a good chance of winning, but may very well be the first to stop Bernard.

Hopkins has had important experience in beating champions who stand straight up, and who flattened most challengers with straight punches. They include Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik, both of whom had devastating power. In fact, a year ago, Hopkins said that Sergey is another Pavlik; he also said that Kovalev would be the easiest of the top three light heavyweights for him to defeat.

However, it is important to note that both Trinidad and Pavlik were smaller than Hopkins. Neither was nearly as strong as Sergey, nor was their punching power in the same league. (This is no knock on them; both were solid fighters in their prime, and Trinidad was among the great champions of his era.) Thus, Hopkins has to adopt a somewhat different approach in this fight.

The model for this slightly different approach can be found in two victories of one of the unlikeliest of boxers to illustrate this technique: former heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry. In June of 1970, he faced undefeated Mac Foster at Madison Square Garden. Foster, who had served as a US Marine in Vietnam, had won all 24 of his fights by knockout. Besides having extreme punching power, Foster had impressive ring skills. Quarry was considered to be a step towards his eventually challenging for the heavyweight title.

However, Mac stood straight up, and was most effective when he measured his opponent with straight punches. Once he had the correct distance, he unloaded a vicious left hook, capable of taking out any opponent. Quarry fought Foster in much the same manner that Bernard fought Tito and Kelly: frequently changing the distance between them, stepping out to the sides, getting off punches first and last in exchanges, and punishing Foster for every missed punch and error. Foster became anxious, and fell apart when Quarry stepped up the pace.

Quarry faced the undefeated Ron Lyle in February of 1973. Lyle was 19-0, with 17 knockouts. The fight was also at Madison Square Garden, and was intended as a step-up for Lyle, who had the potential to become champion. Ron was bigger than Foster; his build was more solid, and he was among the strongest heavyweights from any era. More, having literally died on an operating table after being stabbed in prison, Lyle was without fear in the ring.

Quarry had faster hands, and was quicker with upper-body movement. And he was a talented counter-puncher. Early in the 12 round bout, he found that while he could outland Ron in exchanges, Lyle was not being seriously hurt by his punches. Also, Lyle remained calm and stuck with his plan to wear Quarry out. Because of Ron’s enormous strength, and ability to land punches when Quarry was moving backwards, Jerry made the adjustments needed to be able to last the 12 rounds. Rather than creating big differences in the space between them, he stayed close to Lyle, and focused more on creating angles, constantly turning his opponent -- and winning 7, 9, and 10 of the rounds on the score cards (Lyle won 4, 1, and 2 respectively).

Kovalev is bigger, stronger, and hits significantly harder than Trinidad or Pavlik. But he is slower. Hence, Bernard’s best bet will be to make the same general adjustment as did Quarry, which has to do with ring geography. It means staying relatively close to Sergey, yet not allowing him to get set to fire punches. Making use of angles, and spinning the slower man. Not allowing Kovalev to use his physical strength -- including punching power -- to tire Bernard.

Kovalev has the slight edge in physical gifts, Bernard has the slight edge in mental strength. It’s about as an even a fight on paper as can be. May the best man win.

Enjoy the fight!
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