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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 53,872

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H2O Man Survey #39

"What you think, you become." -- Gandhi

If you lived in a neighborhood, where in one house there were frequent shootings -- including some fatalities -- you would likely recognize that household has serious, deep-rooted problems.

If you lived in a community where, in one block, there were frequent shootings and murders, you’d likely recognize that neighborhood had some serious, deeply-rooted problems.

If you lived in a state where there was a city that had an extremely high number of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that city had serious, entrenched problems.

If you lived in a nation where one state in particular had an extremely high rate of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that state had those serious and deeply-rooted problems.

However, you live on a planet, where on one continent, there is one country that has extremely high levels of gun violence.

I’m not writing this to discuss “gun control.” I trust people’s common sense to figure that one out.

I am writing to suggest that the United States has rates of violence -- from murder to child abuse, from rape to road rage -- to convince any rational and objective person to understand that large segments of the population present very real dangers to the safety and well-being of every day citizens.

It’s not a case of being somewhere else. It’s not just in some other state, city, or neighborhood. Obviously, 24/7 news on television, plus social media, create heightened awareness of individual cases of extreme violence. And the federal government’s statistics suggest that the rates of some specific violent crimes is decreasing ….at least percentage-wise. Still, it would be rather difficult to believe that our culture isn’t at a saturation point in terms of violence.

My questions are: What do you think the primary causes of gross violence is? Is it a genetic issue? A cultural problem? A combination? And, what steps can people take (again, other than ”gun control”) can people take? Government? Individuals?

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this OP, and respond to it.

H2O Man

NYS Senator Libous Convicted!

NYS Senator Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) was convicted today in federal court, for repeatedly lying to the FBI. At the time, the FBI was investigating Libous -- the second most powerful republican in the state -- for political corruption; he had used his office to secure a cushy job for his son, complete with an expensive new vehicle and a hefty, unearned raise. The younger Libous was recently convicted -- like father, like son -- and has been sentenced to serve time behind bars.

See more at:

Ole-time D.U.ers may recall that Libous, a lap dog for energy corporations (who has received generous pay-offs, er, donations from the Koch brothers), refused to speak with representatives of the pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking organizations from his district. As a result, DU member H2O Man went on a hunger strike to pressure Libous to simply converse with the environmental community.

DU member Will Pitt wrote an outstanding article for TruthOut on H2O Man’s efforts. This resulted in more wide-spread publicity.


After eight days, H2O Man spoke to an audience of over 1,000 environmental activists at the NYS Capital Building. In his speech, he mentioned that area high school students were preparing to write to Libous’s office, to area newspapers, and begin holding rallies in front of two of the state senator’s office. When an aide reported this to Libous, he ventured out of his office, to meet with H2O Man and supporters.

Scott Walker vs Jeb Bush

Asked about Bush's remarks on Saturday, Walker argued -- without mentioning Iran directly -- that a president ought to be ready to take action from the moment they step foot into the Oval Office.
"He may have his opinion. I believe that a president shouldn't wait to act until they put a cabinet together or an extended period of time, I believe they should be prepared to act on the very first day they take office," he said. "It's very possible, God forbid that this would happen, but very possible, that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military actions, on their very first day in office."
-- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-walker-iran-deal_55acfd69e4b0d2ded39f57c2

In an attempt to secure the #1 position as Alpha-Puppy ( aka “Rough, Tough, Cream Puff”) in the republican presidential primary, Scott Walker has promised to “terminate” the agreement between -- among others -- the United States and Iran, regarding the Iranian nuclear policy. Walker made this solemn vow on Saturday, at the Family Leadership Summit, in Iowa.

Jeb Bush, in an attempt to appear marginally more intelligent than Walker (and his infamous brother, W.), called Walker’s vow an unrealistic promise. Jeb noted that a new president would need to take two steps before voiding the agreement: create his cabinet; and consult with the US’s allies.

It takes a special person to make Jeb look even mildly intelligent. Walker did just that, when he uttered the words quoted above.

However, defining one’s self as an idiot is not grounds for disqualification within a republican primary. So long as the candidate express almost any combination of military aggression and nativism, they will gain republican grass roots’ and machine support. (Note: Rick Perry, while demonstrably stupid, did not displayed the required amount of nativism/ ethnic prejudice in the 2012 primary season. Jeb himself is viewed with suspicion by many republicans in this very area.)

Will Scott Walker’s blubbering nonsense be rewarded by AIPAC financial support? A source told me today that this is exactly what his goal has been in attempting to convince his target audience that he will be the most aggressively hostile-to-Iran of the potential presidents in the republican primaries.

Will the republican party attempt to derail the most important success of the Obama administration, by way of Congressional votes? The infamous letter from the republican dip-shits carries more than a hint of their intent.

I’d like to see every Democrat -- and not merely those in the primaries, but all of those in both houses of Congress -- come out immediately, and more than simply expressing support for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry on this, but explain in as blunt of terms as paleoconservative Patrick Buchana did last week, on how utterly fucking stupid the republican opposition to the agreement actually is.

I can hope, can’t I?

-- H2O Man

The Rudderless Voyage

“The question remains the same. It is a crisis of sanity first of all. The problems of nations are the problems of mentally deranged people, but magnified a thousand times because they have the full, straight-faced approbation of a schizoid society, schizoid national structures, schizoid military and business complexes, and, need one add, schizoid religious sects. ‘We are at war with ourselves,’ said Coomaraswamy, ‘and therefore and therefore at war with one another’.”
-- Thomas Merton; Gandhi on Non-Violence; New Directions; 1964; page 3.

One of the distinct advantages of chronic pain is that it allows one to spend hours reading, rather than sleeping. This includes everything from books to articles and discussions on the internet. This seems a more valuable investment of one’s time, I believe, than watching television. Hence, last night, after the last of my friends on “face book” had nestled in for a long summer’s nap, I read more OP/threads on DU than I normally do.

The last friend that I was conversing with is a former co-worker, who now lives and works in Ithaca. She started our conversation by expressing her concerns about how a growing segment of the US population is using “religion” as the vehicle to justify hatred of those who are different from themselves. The violent undercurrents -- along with the violent outbursts that we witness every day in the news -- upsets her. And justifiably so.

Throughout much of the (relatively) recent history of humanity, empires have risen and fallen. I suspect that the bitter divisions between groups and individuals -- included the US’s foreign relations, nationally, and in each of our home towns -- is merely a symptom of the decay of our empire. Thus, the Donald Trumps are panicked by barbarians at the gate, unaware that they are but barbarians dressed in three-piece suits, inside the closed gates of their minds.

Such closed minds always seek to identify themselves as distinct from others. They are invested in the status they imagine makes them special. Americans are divided into economic classes; they are black, brown, red, yellow, or white; male or female; Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist; democrat or republican; northerners or southerners; and on and on and on.

In theory, everyone on DU, for example, speaks English; yet our ability to communicate has been fractured by our differences, and splintered by the hostilities that exist, even among what -- again, in theory -- is supposed to be a liberal/ progressive community. Yet the discussions -- or, more accurately, arguments -- about who can use what words, or what groups have the authority (or lack there of) to discuss what topic, is surely the same confusion described in the ancient fable about the features common to the fall of empire, known as the Tower of Babel.

Merton described a rudderless ship on an un-chartered journey. We have thousands of oarsmen, each rowing in their own direction, each advocating for the selection in 2016 of the captain who points in their direction.

I think that I’ll spend today out at my pond. I’ll bring Merton’s book on Gandhi, for some light reading. And I’ll feed the fish and birds, and watch my dog play. In the past week, I’ve seen some interesting wild life while out there: a grey fox venturing down on of the mowed paths, and a bald eagle flying above the near-by stream. No matter how many times I see bald eagles, I’m always amazed by them.

Enjoy this day!
-- H2O Man

Thank you, President Obama

Those times when I have strongly disagreed with President Obama, I have not hesitated to call, write, or e-mail the White House to voice my opinion. I not only voted for him twice, but I had campaigned for him, including donating time and money. As a citizen, and as a supporter, I believe it was my duty to disagree with him.

That has included voicing disagreement with President Obama here on DU:GD. I’m well aware that doing so would in no manner be of any concern to him or the administration. Contacting the White House is the correct way to have one’s voice heard by the White House; talking about these things here is merely taking part on a discussion site on the internet. Yet it can be both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The manner in which President Obama has handled issues about nuclear programs with Iran is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important feat of his presidency. I am among those who has been concerned with the neoconservative effort to have the US engage in military hostilities with Iran. This issue has a long history, which has included efforts by neocons to increase tensions since the Bush-Cheney administration was in office.

Their hatred of Iran goes further back, of course. The history of US- Iranian relations includes the shameful chapter of our imposing the shah upon the Iranian people. But the more recent chapter that absolutely enraged the neocons was the events involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. It’s not simple because Reagan got caught trading huge amounts of weapons to our “enemy” illegally; rather, it was because the Iranians owned their US counterparts in the negotiations.

Iran-Contra was the biggest scandal in the history of the US government. Very few in Congress were willing to fully investigate it, for a number of reasons. Top among them was that President Reagan should have been impeached. The same holds true for his vice president. And in failing to fully investigate, Congress not only kept the fact that the Iranian leaders played the US, but they insured that it would continue in the future.

Ahmad Chalabi -- the friend of the neocons in the Bush-Cheney administration -- was an Iranian intelligence agent. He played the Cheney White House. This is not to suggest that the White House was not intent upon invading Iraq from the giddy-up. But Chalabi was able to orchestrate events as the unfolded.

President Obama and his team were thus facing an extremely capable opponent in negotiations with Iran. In approaching the situation, he was able to coordinate efforts with other nations -- some of whom were rightfully suspicious of the US, based upon past history. President Obama also faced the stiff opposition of the neoconservatives in the US, and the leadership of one country in the Middle East. And this at a time when violence is spreading unchecked throughout the region.

Is the agreement they reached “perfect”? Certainly not from the standpoint of those eager to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” But for the sane people of the global community -- which includes a large, educated middle class in Iran (something the US once had) -- it is a huge step in the right direction.

Thank you, President Obama.

On Scott Walker

I thought it might be interesting to hear various forum members’ opinions on the newest republican candidate for president, Scott Walker. I have assumed that, as uniquely unqualified as he is on anything that might remotely be associated with foreign policy, his goal in competing in the republican primaries would be to secure a position at the bottom of their ticket. And, should Jeb Bush secure his party’s nomination, Walker would have to be considered as a potential vice presidential candidate.

Yesterday, however, I had a long discussion with my west coast brother. He considers Walker to be among the most likely winners of the republican contest, and believes that Walker would be the most difficult republican to beat in the general election. While I haven’t thought of Walker in this context, I do agree 100% with my brother that Scott Walker should never -- under any circumstances -- serve as our nation’s president.

Briefly, to the best of my ability, let me review some of the reasons my brother thinks the republican party will go with Walker. First, he doesn’t have the baggage of scandals that Chris Christie has; the aggressive yap of Trump; or the natural stupidity of Jeb. (He reminded me that I had previously said Jeb is more intelligent than George W., but noted that he hasn’t shown that yet. I reminded him that this is, by any measure, a low bar to begin with.)

My brother also pointed out Walker’s economic policies and beliefs. He’s anti-union, especially anti-teachers union, and is acceptable to the heads of large corporations. This includes his having the support of people such as the Koch brothers, who seek to buy politicians to place in offices that can be helpful to their industries.

Also, my brother believes that Walker’s appearance will help him. Among the first things people see when looking at him is that Scott Walker is a white man. Certainly, the republican party has become so diverse in recent years, that they are comfortable selecting potential leaders from that rare group in American politics: the conservative, white males. So we really shouldn’t be surprised if the republicans go with a white man in 2016.

His presentation tends to feign rational thinking, and has less free emotional range, than most of the other republicans. Think about it: when confronted with the damage his policies have done to the working people of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has shown no emotional at all. He comes off as entirely sincere in not caring, even a tiny bit, about the struggles and hardships of others. This is a huge selling point among republicans.

More, while I believe that people shouldn’t be judged upon their appearance, the truth is that in national politics, they often are. Now, Willard “Mitt” Romney was okay in simple photographs -- his picture could be used on the inside, back cover of a book as the author -- when viewed on film, he makes people uncomfortable. Likewise, think about the difference between a still photo of Rick Perry versus the curious film clip of him with a bottle of syrup.

What do you think of him?

Thursday Night at the Fights

“Sir, I’m not commenting on what you did. It’s immaterial to me. No, your line of reasoning, sir, doesn’t fit me.”
-- Malcolm X; WINS radio debate; February 18, 1965.

Since my youngest graduated in June, I’ve been slowly re-entering the local social-political arena. A speech here, another there, and a local government board meeting. Because I like to think of these in a context similar to my competing in the sport of boxing as a young man., like an old fighter returning to the ring, I’ll engage in relatively easy events, to prepare for future competition.

On Thursday past, at an open meeting, a woman took the opportunity to verbally attack me, saying that I am “unethical.” She was representing a group that have named themselves the “land-owners” and the “tea party.” They dislike me, because in their minds, I am largely responsible for organizing the environmental community in opposition to hydrofracking.

She also called another woman there “unethical,” among other things, for simply expressing support for my positions. This led to the attacked lady getting upset by the viciousness of the verbal assault that she began to cry. I assume the rabid lady mistook this for weakness, as she continued to harass the other woman in the parking lot, after the meeting had ended. The lady who supported me told the other that she was the lowest form of human life she had ever encountered.

I have no problem in saying that I like the woman who supported me, better than the other one. But it would be wrong if I only listened to people who like me, and support my beliefs, while ignoring critics. I have no difficulty in hearing out those who disagree with me. I’m not afraid to debate important issues. Still, I think the one person went a bit too far. No one else appeared to want to be associated with her, once she started talking.

I know that social-political activism isn’t a pillow fight. I try to understand people’s motivation. In this case, there is a group who -- upon the advice of the head of a regional energy corporation -- invested their life-savings in land ….land they bought, believing that they’d soon be wealthy, as a result of drilling for gas. They dreamed of being the next Jed Clampett, but it didn’t work out as they had hoped. Yet, while I do not feel responsible, I’m not taking any pleasure in their current difficulties.

However, they are running a tea party candidate against a local District Attorney, for that county office. I am assisting the DA’s campaign for re-election. And the tea party associates me with several recent political contests, in which I assisted Democrats in defeating the tea party candidates. So I’m likely to encounter them again, between now and November.

While I’m proud of my role in local, regional, and even state politics, I am the first to recognize that I haven’t accomplished what is being attributed to me. At best, I’ve been an active part of a larger effort. But, for a variety of reasons, I’ve come to symbolize something larger than myself in these people’s minds. In that sense, I realize that they don’t really “hate” me -- for they don’t know me; they hate the projected image they have created of me, which exists only inside their minds.

What is at times difficult for me -- and those “times” can include in public situations, while I’m being attacked -- is trying to find the balance required to respond correctly. Again, I am okay with going after their “politics” in a firm manner; however, I do not want to attack them as individual human beings. I’m not suggesting that I want to be friends with them. Or that I like them. They aren’t the type of folks that I’m going to invite over to my house, to socialize with.

I think it is good enough to not respond in kind, not to trade insults with, or attempt to out-do with half-witty debaters’ points. I would prefer to treat them with respect as fellow human beings and community members, who have the right to express their opinions openly. That proved difficult Thursday, in part because I had not expected the outbursts in that setting. Twice, I had to struggle internally, to keep from delivering an insult myself.

Instead of fully engaging her in a debate -- I had no interest in attempting to change her mind -- I focused my responses on communicating with the others in the room. I believe that her aggressive and hostile presentation worked against her. The others appeared sympathetic towards me, and very willing to listen closely to what I was saying. On our ride home, the friend I attended the meeting with said he believed the hostile woman had behaved in such a manner that she isolated herself from the crowd.

I thought a lot about this today, as I sat out near my pond. I thought about the amount of hostility that poisons the atmosphere. I remembered my friend saying that he was surprised that I didn’t (verbally) go after the lady aggressively. I don’t think any good purpose would have been achieved in my doing so. I’m not sure what the ultimate answer is, obviously. But I think marginalizing her tactics is the best bet. What do you think?

H2O Man

On Free Speech TV Now (10-12 pm/est)

The 2012 documentary "The Prosecution of an American President" is on now. It's Vince Bugliosi's case for prosecuting George W. Bush et al for murder.

I strongly recommend watching it!

Trump Question

This will be my first OP on DU’s GD: Primaries forum during the 2016 contest. Like previous primary contests, the current one too often seems the source a lot of nonsense, than can get in the way of meaningful discussions. Add to that, this: the topic that I am writing about was the source of some debate between myself and my younger son.

So, let’s start with something that everyone here can agree upon: Donald Trump will never be president. I doubt that he has not entered the republican primary contest because he believes that he will be the republican nominee.

Now, maybe he hopes that there is some tiny chance. But only late at night, moments before he drifts into unconsciousness, does that thought enter his mind. Thus, the question: why did he enter?

My son says it is for the most obvious of reasons -- to get his name in the news, and to use that profile for some future capitalist venture. Fame and money, nothing more, nothing less.

I disagree. I think that Trump dislikes the Bush family -- likely in large part due to financial interests -- and is looking to damage Jeb Bush in the republican primaries. In a sense, what he is doing is similar to Ross Perot in 1992.

My son does not believe that Trump has the intellectual or emotional capacity to play such a role. I think that his public image is largely an act. Running in the primaries is part of that act, and damaging Jb Bush may well help him financially. But I think knee-capping Jeb is his primary motivation.

Your opinion, please?

H2O Man

Days of Rage vs 4th of July

“During an eighteen-month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings on U.S. soil, nearly 5 a day.”
-- Bryan Burrough; Days of Rage; Penguin Press; 2015; page 5.

One of my birthday gifts this year was the new book by Bryan Burrough about “America’s Radical Underground, The FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence” (subtitle from front cover). The 550-page book is well-researched, including the author’s extensive interviews with people from the “underground” and retired federal investigators. It actually offers far more information about many of the violent incidents and participants than any previous book on the general topic. Indeed, it may contain more “new” information than the sum-total of the previous books.

Burrough seems an unlikely an author on this subject. As a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, his focus tended to be finance. However, one of his five previous books -- “Public Enemies” -- was about organized crime and the formation of the FBI. Although I have found one factual error so far (not a huge one), the author definitely takes an objective approach to recording the events of the late 1960s-’70s.

Still, I find myself questioning the timing of this book: was the author perhaps influenced by the right-wing attacks upon Senator Obama in 2008, regarding his association with Bill Ayers? Though it was well-documented that Barack Obama knew Ayers casually, at best, the right-wing -- and the corporate media -- attempted to smear the Democratic presidential candidate with ugly “guilt by association” tactics.

Perhaps that is merely something that political activists of a certain age are sensitive about: I have met, and had casual friendships with, a few of those mentioned in the book. Even when I first ran for something as low-key as the local school board, one principal assisted in my tea party opponent’s campaign, telling people that I am a “wild-eyed radical” and “nothing but trouble.” Maybe he believed that, but I’m also the parent of two of the best behaved, highest achieving students in the district’s history.

It may be that the author recognized that he had an opportunity to interview people who: felt comfortable, with the passage of time, to address issues that quite frankly have never been fully documented; and are reaching the age where they won’t likely live that much longer. Strike while the iron is hot, but has also cooled off, so to speak.

I suspect that many rational individuals, on all sides of the social-political spectrum, believed at the end of 1968 that this country was experiencing revolutionary dynamics. More, the majority of individuals identified with, and acted as part of a group ….and group dynamics tend to be less stable, in important ways, than individual behaviors. The tensions between groups -- be it Democrats vs. republicans, male vs. female, young vs. old, white vs. non-white -- were tearing American society apart at the seams.

Rubin Carter used to tell me that a wise man learns from others’ mistakes; most of us have to learn from our own errors; and that fools -- well, they just never learn. So, looking back now, it is easy for me to say that attempting to create a more just society by using violence was a foolish tactic. However, based upon my own value system, it was wrong, even if it had achieved some temporary gain (which it really didn’t). The violence committed by the left was not somehow more moral or pure than the violence committed by the right-wing thugs. Yet, I can understand how some people, caught up in the madness of that era, believed they could actually use violent tactics for good purposes.

The group from the left that has become most closely identified with “violence” in that era was the Weatherman/ Weather Underground. However, they were hardly the only “leftist” group that would use violent tactics. It is interesting to note -- though I’m unsure if the author speaks to this, as I haven’t finished the book -- that the use of violence frequently made groups easier targets for infiltration and disruption, than those committed to non-violence. The exception would be the Weather Underground; They were a very small, tightly-knit group. Only one police informant was able to penetrate their group, and it was more of the Weatherman, than the later Weather Underground.

There has been a tendency to romanticize some of these groups. Frequently, the attribute that they sought to damage “the machine,” but not human beings, is incorrectly applied to them. When a group is small and closely-knit, such as the Weather Underground, relatively little information has been made public over the years. As a result, people often made things up -- for example, Richard Nixon had paranoid ideas about the Weather Underground, which in and of itself could create support among young folks.

Having President Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed with catching them; releasing revolutionary manifestos; and even robbing banks (one has to put this in the context of coming after the powerful 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde” movie): all of this began to build appeal, at various levels, among those who were growing frustrated by the seeming inability of the anti-war protest marches, etc, to not only end the war in Vietnam, but to bring about much-needed changes in the social fabric.

However, even if one accepts the right of a population to use violence to expel a foreign colonizer -- for example, the fight in Vietnam -- those same potential dynamics simply did not exist inside the United States. It is also important to understand that ending the war in Vietnam was not the primary focus of the various violent groups of that era -- although it certainly was a related factor -- but, rather, the central issue was racism in the United States. (The numerous arsons aimed at ROTC buildings on campuses across the country were perhaps inspired by the Weather Underground, but were not organized, group efforts.) In fact, the Weather Underground tended to look down upon the “hippies” and the peace movement at first, and would only later attempt to gain from their resources.

From a sociological viewpoint -- including from the book’s documentation, as well as life experience and related education -- journeying down the paths of violence in the US included several common features. First, as noted, it made various groups easier to infiltrate and disrupt. Second, and extremely important, it created circumstances where potentially great leadership was killed (the police murder of Fred Hampton being an example); next, it allows for the most violent to rise to positions of authority (including the sincere and insincere); and, of course, it justified the most harsh retaliation against not only those groups, but anyone that the public associates with them (Kent State).

It may all seem like ancient history now, especially to young folks. But there are some definite connections. An great example, and one that I’ve documented on DU:GD numerous times over the years, is that the domestic intelligence program that the Nixon administration created, known as the Huston Plan, was the exact model used by the Cheney administration for its Patriot Act. The only difference is today’s greater computer technology.

On the eve of the national holiday celebrating the Declaration of Independence, its troubling to note the many, many similarities between that era, and today. From the foreign wars, to the anti-social diseases of racism and sexism, we really have not made nearly enough progress in the last 40 years. The social Novocain that saturates our national consciousness tends to be prescribed by doctors, rather than distributed by local dealers; it numbs, rather than expands, our thoughts and feelings. And the enormity of the “machine” discourages far too many good people from actually attempting to create and institute change.

Yet our culture is speeding headlong to a Townhouse ending -- environmentally and more -- and so it is vital that individuals dedicate (and re-dedicate) themselves to becoming agents of peaceful change. It must include everything from the most obvious -- voting -- to becoming organized in non-violent confrontations with social injustice.

Happy 4th of July!
H2O Man
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