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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,426

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Public Education

“The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.”
-- Woodrow Wilson; Congressional Government

On Thursday evening, during the executive session of our school board’s meeting, the superintendent posed a question: What is the primary purpose of our school district? It’s an interesting question, and the various responses tend to highlight what each board member’s reasons for serving in that often thankless position.

The superintendent stated his belief that the primary purpose of the public school is to afford individual students with the opportunity for upward economic mobility. And, while I do not agree with him on that, I think it is an interesting position. More, while he has experienced some difficulty in adjusting from his “big city” roots, to the small town environment that defines our district, that goal can translate well to both large and small schools.

I believe that the primary purpose of public education is to produce informed, responsible citizens. Such individuals are likely to be able to identify the pathways to upward social and economic mobility. Indeed, they are more likely to create and maintain such opportunities for everyone in their community.

My thoughts on this are, in large part, influenced by those of a now-obscure US Senator who is the first to advocate for government funding of public education. That senator, Daniel Dickinson, spent his childhood and youth in the town where I now live. In fact, the gentleman who would become his father-in-law lived in my house; built shortly after the Revolutionary War, the building served as a stage coach station, a post office, and housed his doctor’s office.

I have a couple of the old mill stones from the “cloth and carding” factory -- located at a water falls on this property -- where Daniel worked as a teenager. And I did the research and writing to get a church he helped to build on the state and national historic registers. Hidden in the attic of that old church were “community records” dating back to the late 1700s, including a wealth of information on the Dickinson family.

In his early adulthood, Daniel was a school teacher, as was his wife. The two were instrumental in having the first local “university” built; now long gone, I have a few photographs from the 1800s of the simple college, which sat on church property. Dickinson then began to study law.He became a lawyer, and then entered politics; he served as a state and federal senator, and as a state and federal attorney. That his passion remained public education is evident from the writings -- both by and about him -- that I have collected.

Daniel Dickinson’s public education certainly allowed him access to upward social and economic mobility. The son of a local farmer went on to be a US Senator at the time of our nation’s Civil War. Indeed, he was considered as a possible contender for the presidency after Lincoln was killed. Yet, he maintained his interest in the little one- and two-room schools in the rural areas, because he understood that democracy required an educated, informed population.

The current “war on teachers” (especially the war on teachers’ unions) is actually a war on democracy. It’s not just because public education is, by definition, a form of socialism: it is indeed a collective investment in the future. At its roots, it is a war on an informed public. It is an attempt to keep the public uneducated, mis-educated, and dis-educated. One need look no further than the attempts to “teach” the Christian creation mythology, along with or rather than evolution, for proof of that.

Interestingly, public school teachers are not the only group that is paid with tax dollars to teach and inform the public. Those of us old enough to remember the Ervin Committee’s Senate Watergate Report learned this (hopefully in school). That committee’s hearings were the very definition of educational and informative: it provided lessons in both the “how” and “why” the misdeeds of the Nixon administration posed a significant threat to our constitutional democracy. Indeed, we learned that two important US Supreme Court decisions had been based upon the responsibilities of Congress to inform the public.

When we consider Congress today -- both the House and Senate -- we find very few elected representatives who take that obligation to inform the public seriously. Rather, we are being victimized by politicians who blur the truth with misinformation, disinformation, and crude lies. They look at exploit the public’s ignorance, and capitalize on their lack of preparation to serve as an informed public. Prove it, you say? How else can one explain the republican party’s even considering Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush as possible candidates for the 2016 presidential election?

There are connections between all of the pathologies that threaten our future. Both the large and small issues overlap one another. But the most basic of these, the war on public education, threatens our ability to deal with, and perhaps resolve, all of the others.

In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to “madfloridan,” the DUer who consistently provides this community with extremely important information about the topic of public education. What a great resource for all of us!

H2O Man

Color-Coded Warning Systems

It’s been a dozen years since the Bush-Cheney administration unveiled their infamous, color-coded “Homeland Security Advisory System,” with its five levels of “threat.” Well after the chart became the source of jokes, it would be replaced with the “National Terrorism Advisory System,” or “NTAS.” I sometimes expected the government to come out with something akin to the Weather Channel, calling for general anxiety along the East Coast; moderate fear in the Mid-West; and a drenching of paranoia in the South-West.

This isn’t to say that I dismiss all color-coded warning systems. In fact, there is one that I consider a national treasure: Code Pink. I was delighted to see the patriotic ladies of Code Pink exercising Amendment 1 -- my favorite part of the Constitution -- when Secretary of State John Kerry was addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

I’ve long had mixed feelings about Kerry. In general, I have had a good deal of respect for him. A large part of that goes back to April of 1971, when he spoke to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs about the US’s role in Vietnam. Over the years, he has been an antidote to the disease of bitterness that John McCain infects all conversations with.

Thus, it was strange to listen to Kerry on Wednesday, when he spoke. Unlike McCain, who attempted to score points by dismissing Code Pink with scorn, Kerry expressed a degree of respect for the ladies. And he noted that, years ago, he had also spoke out against a war in a similar setting. Yet, on this day, he was seeking support for a plan to clean up the mess that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld had created. Surely the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq was a “mistake,” one that it would seem terribly wrong to ask anyone to die for today.

In all of the on-going discussions and debates about Iraq and Isis that I’ve seen on television, I am convinced that Code Pink has been the most honest and accurate in assessing the threat to our nation. I thank them for that.

If 6 Turned Out to be 9

Jimi Hendrix died on this date in 1970. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls Hendrix “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” A heck of a lot of his music has been released over the years -- far more since his death, than in his brief career -- and I think the sum total of that music shows that he was far more than an extremely talented guitarist.

As the youngest of five kids growing up in the 1960s, I was exposed to Hendrix by way of his debut album, “Are You Experienced?” But it wasn’t until after that I quit boxing -- and the disciplined life that sport demands -- that I really got hooked on him. In my teen years, I began collecting as many of his albums as possible (including some rather low-quality records that he may have played on in the background).

Some of my favorites are found on a 5 LP collection from Germany, of Hendrix playing Motown. His version of “Hang On Sloopy,” for example, is wonderful. The enjoyment he felt in performing those songs comes through. It’s in stark contrast to some of his later work, where the frustrations and pain he experienced is evident.

I have over 70 different Hendrix albums; a good number of CDs (including an outstanding 4 CD box set released a few years back, that a fellow DUer told me about); a few biographies; and a number of DVDs of his concerts.

Thirty years ago, sitting in this very room, I remember my sister-in-law telling me about meeting Jimi. Her (first) husband played in a band that opened for the Experience on a concert tour. She said that she was in the dressing room backstage before the concert, when Hendrix walked in. She stepped back, to get out of his way, and accidentally knocked over his guitar.

I had another friend who told me about joining the US Marines, eager to go defend democracy in Vietnam. By chance, he and a couple friends went to a concert to “beat up hippies” the week before they were to go to Vietnam. The concert was Woodstock. He described finding that he actually liked hippies. Someone shared some LSD with him. He figured it couldn’t be much different than whiskey (surprise, surprise!). He was tripping the morning that Jimi played the Star Spangled Banner, and he said it was then that he knew he did not want to go to Vietnam.

I’m curious what others here remember about Jimi Hendrix?

H2O Man

Dick Cheney Unchained

Q: The American people are divided on how to respond to terrorism. How would the Great Law of Peace apply to this situation?

Chief Waterman: Democracy and freedom were born at Onondaga. That is in the Hiawatha Belt. There should be peace for everyone. Peace requires freedom and democracy.

But listen: when you say people are divided, think about this. Your military is dropping bombs and food on Afghanistan. That’s a divided approach, isn’t it? What might have happened if they brought food in before? Why isn’t it just as important to fight starvation and suffering, as it is to fight for oil and money?
-- Interview with Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman; 2002

I do not know a great deal about the group “Isis.” But from the little I do know, they are violent religious fanatics, who are willing to kill other human beings over differences of opinions. So, earlier this summer, when President Obama spoke about delivering humanitarian aid to people who were starving as they fled from Isis, I thought it was a good thing.

The part about bombing Isis from the air concerned me. I do realize that we live in an imperfect world, and that there may be times when “war” is necessary. At the same time, I know one of the primary imperfections in my lifetime has been a repeated choice for the US to go to war. It is hard to ignore how similar much of the chatter coming from politicians today is to what they were saying a decade ago.

There have been a number of recordings played on the news -- I’ve seen most of it on CNN -- of the recruiting tactics of Isis. These are appeals to emotion. Their target audience is young people, generally males, who are more prone to seek the excitement of fighting for a cause that they believe involves the opportunity to be heroic. To fight for a great cause. In a very real sense, it is similar in nature to the appeal to the emotions of young adults in the United States after 9/11, to join the crusade to fight for “freedom” in Iraq, as if Saddam posed any threat to this nation.

Time and time again, it is older men who arouse the passions of young men to fight in wars that the young men mistakenly believe are noble. Yet most wars are not for anything other than access to, and control of, resources. Last year, MSNBC had a good documentary, by Rachel Maddow, that shed light on the real reasons the Bush-Cheney administration was intent upon invading Iraq: access to Iraqi oil. Clearly, most intelligent people had figured out by 2013 that it wasn’t about yellow cake or mushroom clouds; but the kids who joined the military a decade before did so for patriotic reasons, not for Halliburton’s profit margins. Or so they thought.

Likewise, intelligent people today are questioning the actual motivations of those in Washington, DC, who are more than eager to reintroduce our military into Iraq. I think that President Obama is, overall, less inclined to push for US involvement there than republicans, and even a number of democrats. Yet, for a number of reasons, he still is pursuing a dangerous path. It seems highly unlikely that an air campaign alone will defeat Isis. “No boots on the ground” is an empty promise, when special forces and “advisors” are already active in the conflict. While Obama may appear sane in contrast to John McCain, it is delusional to think that the Muslims in that region of the world will see the effort to defeat Isis as anything other than American-led. The pretense that it is an actual coalition is foolish -- is it realistic, for example, to think that Saudi Arabia is morally outraged because of the beheading of the journalists? Really?

Earlier this week, it was reported on Rachel Maddow’s show that one of the ways that Isis is making big money is by the sale of oil. Shocking, I know. Among other things, Isis is selling oil cheap to gas stations; by cutting out the middle-men, it provides a larger profit to the owners of the gas stations. That is the type of information that Americans should have, in order to make rational decisions regarding Washington’s march to war. That’s not to say that Isis isn’t a brutal, vicious outfit. But it does suggest that they might enjoy far more “local” support than most Americans realize, which would surely translate into making any effort to defeat them that much harder.

It also raises another important question: would declaring war on Isis, and engaging in a conflict with them in Iraq and Syria make us safer? Or is the exact opposite true? Would the actions of a US-led “coalition in Iraq and Syria tend to increase the chances of violence reaching the streets of American cities?

The chances of the US not becoming deeply involved in yet another of these never-ending wars is narrowing every day. It is not an issue that we can wait on until 2016, in hopes of electing a new president opposed to such a war. We need to become active today. Obviously, too many of those in office in DC are avoiding having a real debate, including a vote, on the topic. Part of the reason is because of the upcoming elections. More, it is because the legislative branch refuses to accept the responsibility that the Constitution absolutely places upon them, as far as war powers. If Isis is indeed a “JV” team, then the US Senate must be competing in the pee-wee league.

I’ve just come home, after watching a high school boys soccer game. As I was watching the competition, I found myself wondering how many of these young men might be asked to don a uniform, and go to war, in the next few years. It makes me sick to think that it’s coming to this, yet again.

The Politics of Family Dysfunction

Yesterday I posted an essay titled “Family Violence,” that focused on one type of domestic violence, child abuse. Although my rants and ramblings are no longer high profile on this forum, I was pleased with the thoughtful and insightful responses. Quite a few people agreed that there are alternatives to physical violence for teaching discipline to children and youth. Here is a link to that OP/thread, for anyone who might be interested:


I thought that it might be of interest to follow that up, with an essay on “family systems.” As I noted yesterday, the family is the basic building block of the community. Thus, family systems have a significant impact upon the larger society. Although I retired from a career in social work more than a decade ago, these are among the things that I think about when I watch the news on television …..and not just with the ugly events associated with the NFL, but everything from war to the economy to Robin Williams.

As a social worker, I dealt primarily with what are inelegantly known as “dysfunctional families.” And not the average, every day, all-American dysfunctional family that manages to get by, and is able to deal with problems as they arise. Rather, I worked with families that, for a variety of reasons, became entangled in the legal system.

Before going on, I want to say that I believe it is better not to view these issues in a judgmental way. As a general rule, my focus was always to help families identify options to improve the quality of their lives. And that wasn’t a result of some Polly Anna, rose-colored glasses view of human nature. I encountered some violent individuals who deserved the prison sentences they got.

There are a number of dynamics that can cause dysfunction in a family system; some of these may be temporary, while others tend to become entrenched. It is the entrenched ones that tend to create multi-generational difficulties. Domestic violence (against spouses and/or children), addiction, poverty, and serious illnesses and death can all cause dysfunction. Family violence is, of course, in the news now, and hence is my focus today.

Years ago, a model was created that maps the general roles that children living in dysfunctional families tend to take. It is based upon a “four children family system.” A good movie, “The Breakfast Club,” illustrated those roles -- and showed both the positive and negative potentials of each of those roles. (Families, like individuals, are fluid, living entities, and so such roles are not life sentences.)

These roles tend to go in order of birth. They include:

-- The “family hero,” who tends to be a high-achieving individual, who tries to get perfect grades and to be a top athlete;

-- The “lost child,” who tends to attract relatively little attention to him- or herself;

-- The “wild child,” who creates tension at home, in school, and in the community; and

-- The “clown,” who uses humor to relieve family tensions.

A person who inhabits any one of these roles will find ways to get their needs met. There is, of course, a very real potential that the ways that, say, a teenager in a dysfunctional family gets his/her needs met will not be skills that translate well into the larger society. Hence, while I definitely believe that parents have the right to decide how to raise their children, I understand that family dynamics have consequences for the larger society.

Family dysfunction is not limited to any one economic class. However, “the system” does tend to focus more on low-income families. While the concept of “foster care” was intended to protect children and youth who were at risk of being seriously harmed, it has sadly become, far too often, a pipeline to the prison-industrial complex. On the flip side, in wealthy families, such dysfunction can produce a George W. Bush, who as an adult has the force of law to enable his personal pathology.

I mention Bush, not simply to take a jab at the man who led the effort to destabilize the Middle East, but to make another point. This is a political forum, by and large. When we think about the world of politics, and view it in the context of a high school classroom, using those four roles, we can see clearly who is getting their needs met, and who is not. Which “kids” become political and business leaders. Which kids are more or less likely to see the connection between voting, and the reality of their every day lives.

Family Violence

The topic of domestic violence is “in the news” again, largely due to the actions of several football players. Some of the media reports seem to have value, and have the potential to bring about some thoughtful discussions about the damaging impact of physical violence within families. As the family is the basic building block within our communities, it is worth considering the effect that family violence has upon our culture.

Today, I’d like to focus on a specific type of domestic violence: child abuse. That’s a broad topic, of course, and includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In different states, physical violence can be defined as falling into “neglect” and/or “abuse,” depending upon the severity of it. As I live in New York, I tend to use the terms as defined by our legal system.

For many years, I worked in a county-wide program in positions that dealt with child neglect and abuse. I investigated more cases than I care to remember; counseled parents on appropriate parenting skills; and testified in court many, many times. Later, in another county, I developed a 20-week course for cases referred by Family Court, where parents were at (high) risk for losing all parental rights. That course coordinated services and evaluations through mental health, alcohol & drug abuse services, and social services.

For the sake of this discussion, I will add some personal life experience, which may relate to my position on domestic violence. I was raised in a family where violence was extreme. And I have raised four children -- two sons and two daughters -- without violence.

I believe that the only legitimate purpose for “discipline” is to teach children self-discipline. Hence, if an adult says, “I was hit as a kid, and I turned out okay,” my response is, “Are you willing to consider that there may be a better way?” In my experience, most parents are open to considering that possibility. Those who are not run the risk of having “the system” playing an on-going role in their families’ lives.

Domestic violence of all types tends to go in cycles; some of these cycles include generations. Not all children who are subjected to physical violence grow up to be violent adults. Yet as a general rule, adults who are violent experienced violence in their childhood. I believe that adults who become violent when they are angry did not develop self-discipline. Instead, they have learned that, when angry, to strike out at someone they are confident that can beat up.

If we are serious about breaking the cycles of domestic abuse, our culture needs to consider alternatives to violence starting with childhood. Malcolm X used to say that society should fight violent crime by starting in the high chair, rather than ending with the electric chair. Indeed, there are basic parenting skills that assist a child to become a self-disciplined person.

During the industrial revolution, western culture began to discount the significance of a child’s first five years of life. By no coincidence, this is when the basic family system went from “extended” to “nuclear,” to fit the needs of the economic system. In today’s high-tech society (with more “single parent” and “blended” families than in the past, again to fit the needs of the economic system), there is a greater appreciation of early child development.

There are four basic building blocks for these formative years. These are: “loveable,” meaning the parent loves the infant; “worthwhile,” meaning the parent enjoys spending time with the toddler; “capable,” meaning the child is able to learn things and master skills; and “responsible,” meaning the parent trusts the child to do things right, including doing the right thing.

A five year old who has these building blocks has a better foundation than one who lacks one or more of them. It really is that simple. More, most of the parents who I worked with, who were sincere about wanting to be the best parent they could be, would at some point be able to identify which of these building blocks they did not have in their childhood. And this wasn’t a result of my asking them -- it was something they came to recognize on their own.

To be clear, I’m not saying that doing this results in a child who behaves perfectly. Quite the opposite: no one behaves perfectly. And it is a teenager’s job to test boundaries, experiment with life, and present challenges to their parents. The truth is that a teenager’s brain hasn’t fully developed in the region that identifies consequences. Parents can help them to learn to take the time to consciously think things through, and that does include having negative consequences for bad behaviors. But it doesn’t have to include violence -- especially when there are better ways.

I recognize that any time a person speaks like this, there will be others who say that’s unrealistic. That I do not understand human nature. That human history is filled with violence. And it’s hard to argue that there isn’t lots of violence -- way too much, in my opinion. Yet human nature has many potentials, and non-violence produces greater options. We have the ability to see that specific systems create cycles of violence, and to make the conscious effort to identify and practice alternatives to violence.

ISIS Question [?]

“I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.”
-- Bob Dylan; Isis

Question: Can the US afford to go to war against Isis, without a high risk of going bankrupt?

It seemed that one of Usama bin Laden’s goals was to destroy the American economy, much as happened to the former Soviet Union. A thinking person could objectively question if the billions of dollars spent in the “war on terrorism:, from 2001 on, might have been better invested in other avenues.

I ask the above question not anticipating a “right” or “wrong” answer, but rather, for your opinion. Thank you.

"Death of a King"

I plan to pick up a copy of a new book, “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year” by Tavis Smiley. While I am not very familiar with the author, I have seen a few good interviews with him in the past couple of days. It appears to be an interesting and valuable book.

It will be a welcome addition to the section of books, both by and about King, in my library. More, it focuses upon that last year of Martin’s life -- which I find the most fascinating and inspiring. One of the things that I have most appreciated on the Democratic Underground is that a significant number of forum participants know about that final year. They know about King’s transformation.

But that isn’t really why I find myself writing this today. It would, of course, be worthwhile to have a discussion that focuses on the significance of Dr. King’s growing from the best-known Civil Rights leader, to the prophet who identified the triple threats of racism, poverty, and militarism. And how so much of America turned on him for doing that which his highly evolved conscience dictated. I’m always up for that.

The reason that I’m writing is because I am thinking about the importance of King’s central theme, and how it applies today. It is something that I sometimes struggle with, and frequently meditate upon, because as our society is being torn apart at the seams, it is easy to become angry and frustrated. Our culture is saturated with fear and hostility, making it at times difficult to avoid letting that negative force seep within my own thinking.

I think that most objective forum participants would say that a significant amount of that negative force has been channeled in discussions here in recent days and weeks. Sometimes it is expressed as hatred for republicans. Other times, it is harsh insults aimed at other forum members. (And, in a few cases, there may be individuals here for the wrong reason -- simply to disrupt.) I know that I sometimes am impatient, and say rude things that I shouldn’t.

One of the things that I heard Smiley say, in two of the recent interviews, is that even under the intense pressures and stress that King endured in his final year of life, he never stopped loving his enemies. That included King’s knowing that a bullet was in his future. Those who feared and hated King grew from the days when he simply looked to integrate lunch counters, buses, and public toilets, to when he sought to force fundamental changes in our economic system.

What does it mean to love your enemies? To many people then, like now, that simply sounds silly, foolish, unrealistic, even weak. Too few people actually listened to King’s explanation of exactly what he meant by that. And that explanation reminds me of something that the ancient philosopher Confuscius said, in response to a question of what he would do, were he to have political power: “Insist that people use words correctly.”

King frequently explained that when he used the word “love,” that he intended it in the sense of one of the three Greek words for love. He made it clear that he was not speaking of “eros,” or romantic love; nor did he mean “philia,” the love of family and friends. Rather, he meant it as “agape,” or the love of all of creation. Agape does not imply warm, fuzzy feelings for one’s enemies. Nor does it imply appreciation or respect for that enemy’s behaviors. Instead, it means that King accepted that those who hated black people were sick. That those who lashed out violently suffered from disease.

King knew that hate could not be “cured” with more hatred. And that social justice could not be achieved by violence.

About a month ago, we had an intense discussion of the year 1968 here on DU:GD. Some of this forum’s most insightful members spoke about their experiences and memories of that strange and violent year in our nation’s history. It was, not coincidentally, the year King was murdered. We are in another of those dangerous periods of history. And that is exactly why I believe it is important that we all take the time to study the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr.

H2O Man

Primary Unplugged

Tuesday’s primary in New York State should be of interest to both members of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left nationwide. If for no other reason that republicans are examining it, the contest between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Zephyr Teachout was important. Let’s take a look.

Cuomo is, of course, the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. Andrew worked for his father, and got his education in elections and the world of state and national politics -- at a time when George W. Bush was involved with his father’s political career. In some ways, Andrew is the complete opposite of W: he is highly intelligent, and highly disciplined. In other ways, he is similar: he is highly ambitious, and that isn’t intended as a compliment. He wants to be president.

Teachout teaches Fordham Law School. She was born and raised on a farm in Vermont, something that served her well in the democratic primary. She ran a classic, grassroots underdog campaign, appealing to farmers, environmentalists, and the teachers union. And, unlike Cuomo, her campaign ran on very little money.

As governor, Cuomo had advantages other than money. He had access to the media at levels his opponent did not. And by refusing to debate Teachout, he insured that Zephyr remained largely unknown.

As a result, Cuomo won the primary, with about 2/3rds the votes, compared to Teachout’s 1/3rd. However, she won in at least twenty of the rural, upstate counties. Cuomo’s strength was, not surprisingly, in the large cities.

As it now stands, Cuomo will face a conservative republican puppet in November. There is at least one “third party” candidate in the mix, a Green Party candidate who has made his anti-fracking policy his central issue. And there is a call for Teachout to run “third party,” although I do not think that she is going to.

If Cuomo was facing a serious republican challenger -- such as his father did in George Pataki -- he would need the support of progressive Democrats and the Democratic Left. But he is not; indeed, the republican machine in New York State views Cuomo being acceptable. Indeed, two of his closest associates are state senator Tom Libous (recently indicted on federal corruption charges) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Thus, the question that groups including environmentalists and the teachers union have to answer goes beyond November. Do they continue to support “centrists” such as Andrew Cuomo, simply because he is a registered democrat? Even when that politician fails to support them on the very issues that they consider most important? Or do they continue to organize at the grass roots level, to build a coalition of like-minded citizens, capable of winning elections from the local level up?

Mayweather vs Maidana II

On Saturday, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., defends his welterweight title in a rematch with Marcos Maidana. The scheduled 12-round bout, which takes place in Las Vegas, is being carried on Showtime pay-per-view. Mayweather won by majority decision in their first bout, in May of this year.

Older forum members will recall that before that first bout -- in which the odds were 11-to-1 for Floyd -- I had predicted here that it would be the toughest fight of Mayweather’s career. While most of the sport’s “experts” in the media were saying that Mayweather was taking an easy fight, I correctly pointed out that styles make fights, and that Maidana actually had a chance at pulling off an upset.

As it turned out, Maidana actually landed more punches in six of the twelve rounds in May. Floyd suffered the first cut of his career. One judge scored the bout a draw. The boxing community’s reaction to the bout motivated Mayweather to seek an immediate rematch with Maidana.

Recently, I discussed the up-coming bout with Showtime’s boxing analyst, Steve Farhood. I stated that Maidana is to Mayweather, what Basilio was to Robinson. Steve said that it is a good analogy, but noted Carmen was a great champion. Now, that is true -- Basilio ranks among the toughest men in the sport’s history. Yet, it was not technique that separated the Onion Farmer from others -- it was his mental and physical strength.

Almost everyone who has competed in the ring much has had the experience of fighting that guy who isn’t gifted in technique -- indeed, he does many things “wrong” -- but who is so strong and aggressive that you cannot fight your usual fight against him.

Now, Maidana had three loses before he fought Floyd. The first was a controversial split-decision, that most viewers believed he won. The other two were against tall men with long reaches (both have held titles). They were able to keep the smaller Maidana at arm’s length. But Maidana is as tall as Floyd, and has an almost equal reach. More, he entered the ring weighing 17 pounds more than Mayweather in their first bout.

Perhaps most importantly, Maidana joined with one of the sport’s best trainers. He has added a serious jab to Maidana’s offense. It is very similar to the powerful jab that allowed Mike Tyson to get inside on larger opponents. That jab allowed Maidana to defeat Adrian Broner, which earned him the first fight with Floyd.

Floyd is an outstanding counter-puncher. Thus, opponents from Oscar de la Hoya to Canelo Alveraz would become hesitant to throw punches by the middle rounds when they challenged Mayweather. But Maidana’s jab -- which he delivers above his shoulder’s height -- tucks his chin deep into that shoulder. When he brings it back, his chin remains protected. That is hard to counter consistently.

More, that jab allowed Marcos to cut the distance between him and Floyd, exactly as it did with Broner. Once inside, especially when Floyd’s back was to the ropes, Maidana was able to make it an ugly fight. And an ugly fight it was: Maidana landed numerous low blows and rabbit-punches, lifted his knee into Floyd’s groin, and butted; Mayweather responded by using his forearm, a few low blows, and rubbing the palm of his gloves on Maidana’s face.

Kenny Bayless will be the referee on Saturday, and he is the best in the business. Still, it is difficult to imagine this bout being free from fouls. Rather, Mayweather needs to keep the fight in the center of the ring to avoid the rough tactics of Marcos Maidana. That means that he will have to take the lead, throwing crisp combinations, and then moving to the side. In exchanges, he needs to get his shots off, both first and last. And when Maidana misses, Floyd needs to punish him. Easier said than done, of course, even for someone as gifted as Mayweather.

Maidana has had a longer, more focused training camp this time. He is prepared to fight for the full twelve rounds, at the pace he did for the first six in May. His jab will be essential. Look for him to mix that up, much as he did against Broner: single jabs, double-jabs, hooks off the jab, and most importantly, coming in under the jab and banging the body. The body attack is vital as far as preventing Floyd from moving for 12 rounds.

Hopefully, the outcome will not be decided by fouls -- such as a cut resulting from a butt. Yet, anything is possible. In my opinion, the “outside factor” most likely to influence the bout would be if Mayweather damages one (or both) of his hands in the fight. His hands have given him problems several times in his career. Floyd went into their first fight without any personal animosity towards Marcos; on Saturday, he’ll be seeking to punish Maidana. That means sitting down on his punches more, and old hands do not hold up so well that way.

Enjoy the fight, and may the best man win.
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