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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,070

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Road to Damascus

The National Geographic channel will feature a new documentary, "America vs Iraq," tonight at 9 pm/est. The two hour program replays at 11 pm.

Those who were concerned with today's news about Syria, and possible/likely an increase in US involvement, might find it worth watching.

Shaved Fish

Dusk

"Is that the falls?" my cousin asked, after bringing in the last of the rocks.

I had gathered 58 cobbles of white flint, and he had brought a load of white oak, for the day's ceremony. Usually, I build the platform for the rocks, and start the fire; my cousin is the door-keeper, and carries the rocks into the lodge. But today is an unusual day: he did the fire, while I showed an "under 30" apprentice some new things.

There are many people in the communities surrounding us who are suffering. A 15-year old girl had an argument with her mother, about the girl's new boyfriend. The girl decided to run away that night. Around 1 am, she was driving the boyfriend's car, and hit a family on their way home from an area Drive In. Both drivers were killed; four passengers are hospitalized. The boyfriend was thrown, and uninjured, from his car seconds before it exploded into flames.

People are hurt and angry. Many are blaming the mother of the girl. I think it is 15-year olds' jobs to do really stupid things; it is tragic when it costs lives. I have known the mother casually for over 30 years, and she does the best she is able. She works three part-time jobs, and has no type of insurance. She told me that she can't afford a funeral, then adds that there is only part of her daughter's skull left from the exploding car.

I have a casual connection to the family that lost a husband and father. They were a close-knit family, returning home after a fun night. Everything has changed for the rest of their lives, for those who survive.

These families live in two different towns; I live outside a third, that lies between them.

Darkness

We entered the lodge to do the first round in the early evening. Other than the glow from the red-hot rocks, it is completely dark inside. The rocks make a crackling noise. We can smell the sage that the apprentice sprinkles on them. Then the sound of the water being poured on the rocks, and turning instantly to a very hot steam.

Outside, as the sun goes down, the song birds enjoy their last meal of the day. They have the prettiest songs. We can also hear the trout in the pond. I'm glad that my sons built this lodge near the pond, and that my daughters have created a system of bird-feeders here.

By the end of the third round, it is getting dark outside. My cousin brings in the stones for the last round. He comments on how quiet and still it is outside, as he brings some in. Finally, he is done, and closes the door flaps before finding his place to sit. It is then that he asks if that is the falls he hears? It is. But they are a quarter-mile away? They are, but sounds carry at night.

Chief Waterman used to tell me to listen closely to the voice of the creek. When Euro-Americans came here, the area was known by an Onondaga phrase that translates to: "the voice of the water sings."

Dusk

Early the next morning, I go back out to the pond. Five weeks earlier, I had brought a painted turtle that I "rescued" from the highway out to the pond. She has remained there. When I bring out food for the fish, she comes over to the pond's edge, to eat her fill, too.

Turtles tend to look awkward and uncoordinated on land. She looks awkward and uncoordinated in the water, as well. I can relate to that.

After filling the bird-feeders, I sit quietly beside the pond for a few hours. Then it's time to leave the real world, and head back into civilization.

Yesterday

My daughter and I were leaving the parking lot of a grocery store, when I noticed an enormous snapping turtle attempting to cross the street. It is a "busy" street, with a 30 mph zone, but as there is a straight stretch at the edge of the town, many drivers speed. I pulled over to the side, determined to assist the turtle,

From late May to mid-June, I carry a coal shovel in the back of my vehicle, as turtles are out and about seeking prime territory to lay their eggs. While I do not use the shovel for the smaller types of turtles, decades of familiarity with snapping turtles has convinced me that a coal shovel works best. However, a couple of weeks ago, I had taken the shovel out.

The gentleman behind me also saw the turtle, and recognizing what I was attempting to do, he stopped his vehicle in the middle of the street, and put on his emergency flashers. Soon, traffic was lined up for some distance both ways. It was nice that no one seemed impatient, or beeped their horns, etc. This made me as happy as the sight of dead turtles along a road makes me unhappy.

All I had in the vehicle was a short section of rope. I would not advise attempting to use rope for snapping turtle crossings. Instead, I used my self, a tool that is not much quicker than the average turtle. In doing so, I noted this creature's head was about as huge as any that I've seen (so large a head, we might be related).

After getting it across, traffic resumed. People then beeped their horns, waved, etc. I then watched this turtle go down a mildly steep bank, and crawl into a small stream.

There is a lot wrong in this world. Our society has so many serious problems, that it can seem overwhelming at times. Our culture feels like it is spinning faster and faster, out of control. It's important, I think, to take the time to stop in situations like the one I found myself in yesterday.

A Thank You note:

A few days ago, I posted here about a gas industry plan to desecrate a burial mound in Ohio, with a link to a petition of human beings opposed to this. Because I am busy -- and I'm NOT making excuses -- I was not able to respond to each and every one of you who signed the petition, including those who passed it on to others. Thus, I want to say "Thank You!" to everyone.

On the day I began working on this, 83 people had signed the petition. A few days later, over 9,000 have signed it.

Also, as previously noted, I sent it along to the Onondaga Nation's Council of Chiefs, and to the attorney who represents the Nation in federal court. I've been asked, "Why Onondaga?" ..... since they are located in New York, rather than Ohio, where the mound is. The reason is, long story short, can be found in the 9-87 and 3-89 editions of National Geographic, and in the book "Water Man." The Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, is EXACTLY the right entity to take the lead role in what could become a court struggle.

Again, thank you all.

Now, back to work.

H2O Man

Please Help !!! (Important)


I am hoping that DUers will assist me on the conflict described in the below quote and link. (And that my computer skills are adequate enough to allow me to copy & paste it properly.)

http://www.change.org/petitions/antero-resources-and-the-state-of-ohio-protect-native-american-archeological-burial-grounds-in-ohio-owned-by-bonds

"The property is a prospective site for shale gas exploration, drilling and extraction. The property owners have refused multiple offers to purchase or lease rights on the property to drill for shale methane gas. That is their private right. Beyond that right, the property,and specifically the portion of the property Antero Resources seeks to excavate and drill, has also been identified as a Native American Burial Mound site. In addition, evidence exists that other significant and historic anthropological findings on this site may be disrupted or destroyed if excavation and drilling are performed on the Bond property. It is in the best interests of the County, State of Ohio, and Nation, if Antero Resources, and the State of Ohio are prohibited from allowing the imposition of Eminent Domain to procure the property, or any other legal or civil action, including the voluntary sale and use of the property for excavation and drilling for the purposes Antero Resources requires to recover shale gas from this property. Specifically, no excavation below grade should be allowed, and no sub-surface drilling should be allowed which might disturb or destroy any burial sites or archological relics of whatever archeological age, on the Bond Property, for any purpose."

This information was sent to me a short time ago. I have been in communication with the Onondaga Nation, and with the Nation's attorney, this afternoon. The possibility of this leading to a federal court case is high, in my opinion.

We need as much support from the general public as possible. Please sign the petition, and -- iff possible -- send it along to other groups and individuals who may be interested.

Thank you for your support!

H2O Man

When the Word is Given


In the beginning,
I misunderstood.
but now I've got it:
The Word is good.
-- John Lennon; The Word

If a tree falls in the solitude of the woods, and noone hears it, does it make any noise? If a president delivers the Word in the disorganized dust of the American wilderness, will anyone hear?

That was, in my opinion, the best speech that Barack Obama has made as the President of the United States. It ranks with his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and his 2008 speech on race, when he was seeking the democratic nomination.

It is as distinct from the post-verdict hand- and hate-wringing on cable news, as sugar from shit.

Yet if it is used only as a topic to argue with those who think differently, it will be reduced to the level of meaninglessness as hundreds of other presidential speeches -- merely fine words that come to nothing.

But if we use it to question ourselves in an on-going internal dialogue, and then act upon the answers we reach -- even if they are uncomfortable -- then it could rank high among the most influential of US President's speeches.

Peace,
H2O Man

Blood Brothers


"It's impossible for a chicken to produce a duck egg -- even though they both belong to the same family of fowl. A chicken just doesn't have it within its system to produce a duck egg. It can't do it. It can only produce according to what that particular system was constructed to produce." -- Malcolm X; May 29, 1964.

The above quote comes from a speech that Malcolm X delivered in New York City, in response to a month-long collection of articles in the local newspapers about a group of young black males called the "Blood Brothers." This highly secretive group, armed with deadly firearms and intent upon the indiscriminite murder of white people, existed only in the imaginations of a segment of the city's white population.

This isn't to imply that there were no young black males in NYC with access to weapons, and hatred for white folk. Rather, it illustrates how a fearful segment of the population, fed a lie by the media, could come to see literally every young black male as posing a potential threat to their safety and well-being.

Of course, our society has made progress on issues involving "race" (another concept that exists only within people's heads) in the last 50 years. But after the verdict was announced in the Zimmerman trial, I found myself wishing that Minister Malcolm were here to deliver a message of truth to the citizens of this nation.

The American criminal justice system tends to produce one outcome for young black males: incarceration, parole, and probation. A larger percentage of young black males are "enrolled" in the prison-industrial complex, than in our colleges and universities. With this in mind, one could hardly be surprised that Zimmerman was found "not guilty," even though he absolutely murdered Trayvon Martin.
The system in Florida is not geared to produce social justice for young black males. Had Trayvon lived to see 18, it is questionable if that system would have allowed him to vote in the next presidential election. That same system has created a system of laws that allow for specific segments of the population to carry concealed, loaded firearms, and to "stand their ground," even when common sense shows them to be ethically or morally tresspassing on other people's rights and lives.

Small wonder that same system would put the murder victim on trial. The only thing that surprised me was that the defense attornies did not introduce those 1964 newspaper articles into evidence, to support Zimmerman's paranoid beliefs about the severe danger Trayvon posed to the good people of his community.

I will be surprised if the Department of Justice actually takes any action beyond "investigating" the murder. It's not because investigators and lawyers will be unable to identify an avenue for prosecuting Zimmerman for infringing upon Trayvon's civil rights. Young black males should have the right to purchase ice tea and skittles without being profiled and murdered. And to walk home in the rain, without a racist, violent escort.

I am reminded of the 1998 incident, where a racist hate group viciously assaulted my nephew. They were upset that a brown-skinned high school scholar-athlete was getting positive media attention, after leading his team to a state title. I've discussed this before on this forum: the gang members, after calling my nephew "dumb nigger," would attack him in a dark parking lot, and leave him for dead. Although he sustained permanent physical injuries, the local justice system could not produce justice. The 280-pound gang leader, who admitted punching and kicking my nephew as he lay unconscious on the ground, got a $50 fine -- because he had an open can of beer at the time of the assault.

The DOJ did investigate, to determine if my nephew's "civil rights" had been violated. The FBI investigator that came to my relatives' home was a good man. He understood what the deal was. He was Jewish, and talked about his extended family's experience in Germany. And he spoke about the cancer of hatred that threatened our society. But he could not encourage any hope that the DOJ would do anything beyond investigate. While the investigators and lawyers were sincere about seeking justice in the land, the politicians who headed various government agencies always view every situation in the context of political gain versus loss.

Yet good people do not have to accept total defeat and a lack of social justice. In the incident with my nephew, we used the media coverage of the thugs' trials (4 of the 17 gang members were charged) to educate the public. More, we took advantage of the opportunity to engage groups and individuals who normally identified themselves as marginalized by the system. We registered new voters. We expanded our ability to influence the outcome of local elections; today, we are not limited to deciding which candidate the system puts forward will win -- we successfully run our own candidates.

If everyone outraged by the Zimmerman verdict would register one person to vote, our numbers would double. Register two, and we triple. Invest an afternoon or evening in community organizing, and decide the next election. Harness the potential strength, and gain the ability to elect our own candidates.

That is the only way to actually make meaningful changes in the system. And it can be done.

Peace,
H2O Man

Zimmy the Pinhead

The jury is engaged in its second day of deliberations in the George Zimmerman trial, as I write this. As a result, the commentators on the cable news programs are in search of topics to fill the segments or shows on the trial. Highlights of the closing arguments can go only so far, which could increase the likelihood of panels discussing some of the important social dynamics involved in the case.

These issues include: gun control; fear of crime; laws on self-defense, including "stand you ground"; profiling; and the justice system. These are all important topics for discussion, and there are a variety of opinions on each that are worthy of our consideration.

There are also tangents to these issues; for example, some of the media is covering stories about concerns that there could be a violent response to a "not guilty" verdict. Such coverage could be seen as reinforcing an idea that violence is an option; yet what remains unstated is that it could be people like George Zimmerman acting on this fear, rather than young men like Trayvon Martin.

Let's take a closer look at this, keeping in mind that Zimmerman is not a unique individual -- there are many, many other people (overwhelmingly male) with his general personality type. There are similar sad excuses for men in your and my communities, We may even walk past one of them on the street, or in the store, today.

Zimmerman has correctly been called a "wannabe cop." And I'm not saying it is "bad" for someone to want to have a career in law enforcement. But I am definitely saying there can be both good and bad reasons that people want to be police officers, and that with those men having Zimmermaniac Personality Disorcer (Axis II), a huge quantity of the bad lies below a shallow surface of psuedo-good.

A defense witness who testified as an "expert" in violence compared Zimmerman to Pee Wee Herman, and Trayvon to Chuck Norris. In doing so, he exposed himself as an advocate for the defendant. Why? Because he is Zimmerman's wettest dream: a tough guy who views violence as the ultimate answer to life's questions. But Zimmerman is neither Pee Wee or a tough guy. (Note: Pee Wee resolved the theft of his bike without guns or violence.)

What do we know about Zimmerman that can help us to know with certainty what took place the night he murdered Trayvon? George has a legal history: he has two charges on record, one for a "domestic" incident, and one for a conflict with a police officer. In both instances, Zimmerman blamed the other person involved for not doing what he wanted them to do. An attribute of ZPD (Zimmerman Personality Disorder) is their believing that they are an authority, and thus, anyone not doing exactly what they want are resisting authority -- and need to be punished.

Zimmerman knew he was not a tough guy. But that was definitely his goal: he wanted to be able to administer "justice" to people who disobeyed his rigid mental rules for society. Hence, he trained, three days a week, in an MMA gym. Like police careers, there are both good and bad reasons to take up MMA. George had bad reasons, unless one choses to believe he simply wanted to drop weight. In fact, his actual reasons were the same as those that led him to get the concealed firearm permit.

Zimmerman racially profiled a 17-year old, because in his mind, black male teenagers wearing "hoodies" are criminals, punks, and assholes. I mean, what other options are there? Well, when Sgt. Z of the Wannabe Police Department saw one of "them," he began to simmer at the very thought of how "they always get away." He wasn't going to let some desk jockey tell him he needed to stop following this punk. Not in his town.

If there were two teenagers, Zimmerman would have stayed in his car. (More than two, and he would have shit his pants.) But because he believed Trayvon was afraid of him, George got out and followed. He caught up to Trayvon, and began to bark orders in his best Chuck Norris imitation. With gun in hand, he believed "the suspect" would be safe to push around.

Trayvon realized that this was no police officer -- it was an aggressive, unhinged, punk asshole with a gun. And Trayvon was exactly right. So he fought back, quite literally fighting for his life. Zimmerman was soon lying flat on his back. Since his MMA moves weren't working, he shot the boy.

All of Zimmerman's original cover story to the police were designed specifically for what he was convinced that Trayvon was: a criminal. If and only if Trayvon Martin were a thug, in that neighborhood on a criminal mission, and presenting a vicious threat to the community (especially white women), Zimmerman's story would have made sense. The thug, recognizing that an Authority was closing in on him, would have done what George believed black males wearing hoodies are genetically programed to do: he attacked from the dark shadows, and threatened to kill George.

Had that been true, the case would have gotten little but local attention. Obviously, Sean Hannity would have had him on his show, and pinned the Fox Freedom & Hero Award. George would have used this on his next application to a police department. But it wasn't true.

What is true is that it can be dangerous to be a black male teenager/youth in the United States. It's not a contest, or a debate about if that is a more dangerous status than, say, being a Native American female, or any other identity that is prone to being victimized in our violent society. And the sad truth is that, by and large, those punks, assholes and thugs that commit acts of violence against human beings they identify as targets, tend to have a pretty fair chance of avoiding legal consequences. And not only meaningful legal consequences -- any consequences, at all.

I am hoping for a guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge.

Peace,
H2O Man

Decade

I read the OP/thread started by Will Pitt, about claims this forum is an echo chamber versus a resource for activists earlier today. It got me thinking about how we are approaching the ten-year anniversary of Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s NY Times op-ed, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” (7-6-03). Just over a week later, the pre-corpse known as Robert Novak published a column that revealed Valerie Plame’s identity. Two months later, a Washington Post article noted that even before Novak’s column was printed, two top White House officials had called at least six DC journalists, and disclosed the name and occupation of Wilson’s wife, Ms. Plame.

Initially, those people who were paying attention to the Plame scandal -- including people here on this forum -- viewed it as a White House effort to punish Wilson for publicly calling the president on his infamous “16-words” lie during his State of the Union address. It was also correctly seen as a warning to others: cross us, and we will crush you. This was directed at more than just Wilson, or even the few journalists who had reported on the investigation he conducted in Niger in the weeks before Wilson’s op-ed.

The Plame scandal was something that a small group of associates and myself found fascinating. We knew, without any question, that there was far more to the scandal than what was being discussed in the corporate media, or even on progressive internet sites. One of my associates -- a relative working in Washington, DC, who is active in the Democratic Party -- would suggest to me that I should join one of those progressive sites. Specifically, the Democratic Underground.

Call it coincidence if you will (I don’t believe in “coincidence”), on the same day that Mr. Pitt published what I still consider to be the best article about the scandal, and that Patrick Fitzgerald was assigned to lead the Plame scandal investigation, I joined this forum.

I knew that the nucleus of the White House cell that pushed Ms. Plame’s identity was the Office of the Vice President. More, it was not simply a case of Dick Cheney attempting to cover his numerous and purposeful lies about the “threat” that Iraq posed to our nation, in order to justify the US invasion. Yet, these outright lies played a role.

There’s a strange documentary that frequently plays on Showtime, titles, “The World According to Dick Cheney.” For some misguided reason, it attempts to portray Cheney in a noble light. Still, it is of some value: for example, it shows how Cheney orchestrated the staffing of the Bush administration, placing the power in foreign policy far above W’s head. And it makes brief mention of how Dick Armey -- hardly a moral man -- had been opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Cheney met with Armey in order to change his mind.

Cheney told Armey that the White House had “top secret” documentation that: Saddam’s family had strong personal ties to Usama bin Laden’s family; and that Saddam was extremely close to the production of “suitcase” nuclear weapons. The vice president explained that these documents were so frightening, that the White House could not show them to Congress -- much less the public -- or they would surely cause a global panic. The following day, Armey came out publicly in favor of the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq.

Now, Dick Armey is a fecal specimen who personifies everything that is wrong in the federal government. But by July of 2003, even he was privately complaining about Cheney’s lying to him. And so when Wilson began publicly calling out the president on those 16 words, Cheney was definitely looking to cover his tracks. And those tracks led from the OVP straight to the CIA, where Cheney (along with Scooter Libby and Newt Gingrich) had harassed analysts ….and where Cheney’s demand that CI investigate the “yellow cake” bit resulted in Wilson’s trip to Niger.

There was yet another reason for the OVP’s leaking Ms. Plame’s identity, though. It was, in fact, the very reason that I joined the forum, and was an early participant on the “Plame Threads.” Those threads were, I believe, among the best examples of the DU community’s ability to research and organize the events of that scandal. It truly was, in Mr. Pitt’s words, a real “think tank.”

Those threads reached far beyond this forum’s readership. And well beyond the internet’s progressive and liberal sites. Reporters from one cable television station kept track of them; it was not uncommon to read something here on DU, a couple of days before it was reported on MSNBC or others. I was contacted by a variety of people, including a well-known journalist who wanted access to my “source,” and an aide to a career politician who served in the administration in President Obama’s first term. DU helped shape the larger discussion on the Plame scandal.

I am among those who is disappointed that DU has frequently been more of a heckler’s chamber, or an argument swamp, than a think tank for the progressive left. As I’ve noted before, DU reminds me of an airplane that was found by a tribe of people. Some used the seats for comfortable chairs and couches. Eventually, someone found that its motor ran, and began using the plane for a touring car. But they never realized that plane could fly. And DU could fly, too.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Lion's Den

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream ……
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all ……
With this regard their Currents turn awry, ……
Be all my sins remembered.
-- Hamlet


Malcolm X used the first few lines of this powerful soliloquy in one of his speeches at Harvard. It’s been taking up some space in my mind today, since I started driving home after a medical appointment. One of my doctors -- a registered republican who often votes for democrats -- asked me if I would be running for a seat in the state assembly in the next election.

To run? Or not to run? That’s the question. I am, by nature, prone to counting numbers in regional election contests. I would not run, if I didn’t think there was a chance of winning. And from my estimates, there is a chance to win.

I think that one of the problems that people who are sincere about wanting social justice is that we hope that someone else will do for us, what we need to do for ourselves. Also, too many potentially good candidates are discouraged, because we inhabit republican areas. It’s far more likely, for example, for a democrat to win an election in NYC or one of the other urban centers, than in the very republican rural regions in upstate New York.

In the past two election cycles, I’ve assisted five candidates in “local” elections, in an area where about 60% of registered voters are republicans, 25% are independents, and 15% are democrats. Each of the five candidates have won. As their campaign manager, I’ve focused on harnessing every possible vote -- including all registered democrats, the majority of independents, and a significant number of dissatisfied republicans.

To run or not? I’ve spoken to five groups: teachers unions; social workers unions; environmentalists/the Democratic Left; carpenters unions; and the Democratic Party. I have friends and associates who would invest time and money, if I were to run. It could be done.
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