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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,286

Journal Archives

President Obama and the Michael Brown case

I have noticed that a number of people question why President Obama has not spoken more about the murder of Michael Brown. The reason the president has not done so is simple: he isn’t stupid.

Many of us here are old enough to remember a Monday afternoon in August of 1970 -- August 3rd, actually -- when then-President Richard Nixon spoke to reporters in Denver. Nixon, himself an attorney, used the on-going trial of Charlie Manson & family to try to scold the press. Taking the type of cheap shot that illustrated his hatred for the media, the president accused the media of using their “front pages” daily to present Manson as “a glamorous figure.”

“Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders,” Nixon told reporters. On the record.

That, of course, made the next day’s headlines. And it raised the potential for a mistrial. Although the jury was sequestered, there was a risk that one or more jurors could be exposed to the presidents’ foolish remark.

Indeed, Manson would hold up a copy of the LA Times the following morning, The jury was then voir dired, to evaluate if the process was tainted. (One juror told the judge, “I didn’t vote for him, anyhow”!)

Members of the executive and/or legislative branches are not supposed to voice their opinion of a potential, or on-going, criminal trial. This is President Obama is not speaking about this case specifically.

Carry on.

Officer Ferguson Unplugged

"The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down. ...."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/15/the-day-ferguson-cops-were-caught-in-a-bloody-lie.html

This is an important factor in understanding what is going on today.

Rain

“Hate can only produce hate. That’s why all these wars are going on, all this insanity. There’s too much anger in the US. People are too afraid, too numbed out. We need to wipe out all this hatred, fear, distrust, and violence. We need to understand, forgive, and love.”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

On Wednesday, April 25, 2001, Rubin spoke at SUNY-Binghamton, in NYS’s “Southern Tier.” During his presentation, while telling how angry he was after being wrongly convicted of a brutal hate crime, Rubin heard my 4-year old scolding her 7-year old sister. “That’s it! That’s it! That’s exactly how angry I was!,” Rubin said, before cracking up laughing.

When he caught his breath, Rubin introduced my daughters and I to the audience. And after the show, Rubin delighted in “chasing” my little girls about, “threatening” to tickle them. After pretending to run from him, both girls ran smack-dab into the Hurricane’s outstretched arms.

Eventually, Rubin had to catch a plane to his next stop. As we headed to our car in the parking lot, my wife asked me if I had noticed Rubin’s brief, but intense, reaction when he was hugging the girls? She asked how old Rubin’s daughter was, when he had first been incarcerated on what became his 20-year journey? Indeed, our daughter’s age.

The following morning, I was contacted by a professor from SUNY-B who was writing a book on the Power of Forgiveness. She asked if I might try to get Rubin to contribute a chapter. Her book focused primarily on her attempts to forgive her parents, for the hell that had been her childhood. The above quote is from Rubin’s chapter of that book. Likewise, the following one is:

“Lois raises an intriguing question. Like pain is pain, suffering is suffering -- whether being wrongly imprisoned, wrongly placed in a concentration camp, or wrongly abused as a child. But pain is a component of suffering, but not suffering itself. There are no degrees of suffering.”

This nation is suffering from fear, hatred, and violence. Small surprise, as this is the present condition around the globe. Yet, as an Earthling inhabiting a tiny plot within the US, I tend to focus on this nation. The US is saturated with the inevitable violence that is a component of hatred. The US fears and hates; the US is feared and hated; and the nation’s response is to export more violence. It is a cycle that builds momentum, and today we witness violence and suffering in our nation that is unjustified: teens shot and killed by police for having black skin; peaceful protests hijacked by rioters; and a government in DC that has become hatred itself.

The ONLY thing that can counter this force is the individual. There is no politician or other “leader” who can stop the growth of violence and suffering. It is an error in thinking to look to a president or religious leader to make that change happen. It’s up to you and me.

Rubin frequently quoted Mark Twain: “Bitterness contaminates the vessel that contains it.” I often struggle with negative thoughts and feelings, myself. While we all, as unique individuals (or, as Rube would say, “miracles”) have to find our unique path. For me, for example, I spent the past few days preparing for a sweat lodge ceremony. Two close friends came over yesterday, and we enjoyed a good ceremony. One of my friends has been seriously depressed for the past eight months. The ceremony, with the air, soil, stones, fire, plants, and water does not remove the tough things we face in life. But it helps to allow us to put things in their proper context.

Towards the end of the ceremony, when the rocks had cooled, and the only noise inside the lodge was that of a few sandstone rocks cracking, we listened to the songs of the birds outside. The song-birds were dining at the nearby bird-feeders. And then, a light rain began to fall.

Peace,
H2O Man

Process

I have been watching the cable news reports about republicans in the House of Representatives both advocating and denying efforts to impeach President Barack Obama. Currently, it is the rabid right-wing that is publicly threatening to pursue impeachment. Speaker Boehner has moved to file a civil suit against the president, while promoting the position that it could reduce the pressure to impeach.

As a student of American political history, I urge forum members to take a very close look at this. I believe that the republican party will, no matter how this fall’s elections go, move forward on impeachment. Why? The short answer is “because it is the wrong thing to do.” A more complete answer is enhanced by focusing on three books.

The first is Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s 1973 classic, “The Imperial Presidency” (Houghton Mifflin). The author documents the historic tendency for all presidents to try to expand executive power. These attempts were exclusively -- up to the book’s publication -- under the guise of war powers and national security. It is in these actions that a president might commit one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that requires impeachment.

Older forum members will recall the Watergate era, when Richard Nixon faced an impeachment in the House, which surely would have resulted in a conviction in the Senate. Likewise, they will remember when Congress failed to proceed with articles of impeachment against Ronald Reagan, for the Iran-Contra crimes. Both are outstanding examples of exactly what impeachment is intended to remedy.

It was not intended to remove a president for lying about a sexual affair. Nor is it intended to destroy a president for attempting to assist 50,000 refugee children. Both of these are examples of exactly what is not intended as grounds for impeachment. Indeed, the current example is the exact opposite, for it is a president appealing to a nation’s humanity.

When Congress impeaches for true “high crimes and misdemeanors,” it strengthens our constitutional democracy. When Congress fails to do so, or --worse -- abuses the process, it institutionalizes damage to our constitutional form of government. (Note: in both cases, our focus needs to be on “process.” When the “free press” largely ignores process, but attempts to distract the public’s attention with the glitter -- or stain -- of “personality,” it, too, betrays its duties.)

The second book is “The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America. And How to Get It Back on Track,” by Mann & Ornstein (Oxford; 2006). The authors take a bipartisan look at how the right-wing of the republican party began to destroy Congress -- starting with the House of Representatives -- around 1996. The authors focus a significant amount of attention on how this involved derailing appropriate, constitutional process.

The third book is John W. Dean’s “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches” (Penguin; 2007). Dean, of course, played a significant role in Watergate, and in its eventual unraveling. This book was the third in a three-part series that he authored during the Bush-Cheney years. The other two are “Worse Than Watergate” (2004), and “Conservatives Without Conscience” (2006), both of which are still extremely important books. However, it is not essential to read them in order of publication; thus, for this discussion, I recommend “Broken Government.”

In it, Dean invests a great deal of effort in explaining why correct “process” is essential for us, if we seek to have a constitutional form of government. The other option is corporate government. That Dean was, and remains to a large extent, a “Goldwater Republican” brings about an interesting, even vital, point: many in the Democratic Party -- including solid members of this forum -- embraced Dean, when “Worse Than Watergate” was published.

Dean became a regular guest on several of MSNBC’s nightly line-up. His ability to communicate impressed many here, including some of us who remember him very well from the Watergate era. I think that there was enough “common ground” between this ex-convict, Goldwater republican, that people here understood that in the fight to preserve our constitutional democracy, we do not have the luxury of holding onto old grudges.

Just as constitutional government requires correct process, the utter destruction of constitutional government requires the abuse of process. Both are pathways; the first, to imperfect government that constantly rewards efforts to create a more perfect union, versus a corporate government, that inflicts a perverse nationalism, by which it divides citizens, and unleashes gross violence upon foreign lands.

I have never felt it is my right to tell anyone else who to vote for. I’m not offended when people prefer a different candidate than me. However, in 2014, I do believe that it is extremely important that all of us -- each and every one -- does vote. And while I have long found “the lesser of two evils” to be highly offensive, I would like to remind forum members that these elections will have significant consequences. And I’ll end with a reminder that has been attributed to Buddha: “Our error would be to believe we have time.”

Food for Thought

For sake of discussion: imagine a rather large family, in which members from generations have been politically active since the late 1800s. Most of that family has belonged to the Democratic Party, although there have been a few republicans in recent decades. Now, while it may be tempting to keep republicans in the attic, that’s no longer a common practice. (There are no middle-aged republicans living in their mothers’ basements, posting horseshit upon the internet with wild abdomen, though.)

Now, suppose that this extended family includes a fairly wide range of adults, now in the “middle age” group, spread across the country. Various cousins may be active in a variety of social-political activities, including from the local, grass roots level, to state, and even national levels. Surely, these people take an active interest in congressional and presidential elections.

This raises a question: Is it likely, even probable, that they all hold the exact same point of view during the primary seasons? All agree on a specific candidate, from Day One? Not see the possibility that a contested primary can be good for the party, perhaps by moving one candidate to the left, before the general election moves the nominee to the middle-right?

I guess that is possible in a made-for-tv movie, or a cheap novel. But I doubt it is an accurate description of any extended family in our country.

It is likely that a majority of a traditional Democratic Party family will see the party itself as offering the best, most viable opportunity to promote the nation’s welfare. Yet, besides the majority of good democrats, and family defects who identify with the republican party, there are going tio be two other sub-groups.

The first are those who identify with the Democratic Left. Although they generally vote for democratic candidates, they listen to people on the Left. And they agree with the Left on a lot of issues.

The second group tends to vote for democratic candidates, but they recognize that in far too many instances, there is very little difference between a democrat or a republican when it comes to issues such as the influence of corporations in government. Hence, on an issue such as the struggle to protect the living environment from hydrofracking, they know that they must speak the same language to members of both parties.

Both the first and second group also tend to realize that, unless citizens become more active -- and in more sophisticated a manner than the general grass roots has been for decades -- and harness political power on a local level, there is really no chance of meaningful change at the national level. The corporate puppets from both parties lack the capacity to do the right thing, as a result of conscience. No, that will never happen.

It seems curious to me, that in recent months, a specific group of forum members focus great attention on discrediting those who belong to the Democratic Left, or who recognize the threat of corporate control over politicians from both major parties. Why, you’d think that Ralph Nader was as bad as old Dick Cheney. And, if you read DU:GD regularly, you can think of other curious examples.

As democrats, we should not allow our minds to be placed in a straight-jacket. We are not actually limited in options in terms of how or what to think -- that’s for republicans and corporate stooges. We need to think outside the box. Beyond the limitations that our opponents try to impose. And on different levels than our enemies try to mandate, when they try to define what a good democrat must be.

Just my opinion.

Peace,
H2O Man

Nixon by Nixon (Your Opinion, Please)

“Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words” will be featured on HBO tonight (9pm/est). I would strongly recommend that everyone who is able -- though I realize not everyone has access to HBO -- watch this documentary. Invite yourself over to a neighbor’s, a friend’s, or a relative’s house, if need be. Even watch it with your redneck uncle, if you have to. It will definitely be worth it.

Here is a link to a Washington Post article about the documentary:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/hbos-nixon-by-nixon-on-tape-the-heart-of-darkness/2014/08/03/42a7355c-1926-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html

There are several books that have been released to generate sales during the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s historic resignation. They have value. No question about that.

But more important, by far, is for citizens -- you and I -- to listen to the tapes that Richard Nixon never dreamed would come back to haunt him. The interpretation of these strange recordings should not be left to historians alone: our Constitutional democracy depends upon our understanding of corruption in Washington, DC.

I will say that I feel particularly strongly about this, because I understand that one of the primary duties of the United States Senate is to educate the American public. And, for a brief season, the Senate engaged in an effort to do exactly that. They may have been handcuffed, by both loyalty to the system that enriched them, and by fear of the darker forces that controlled the nation. But, again, for a brief time, the US Senate showed character --and not based upon party affiliation.

Last week, we had an intense OP/thread discussion of 1968. In that same spirit, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Nixon, Watergate, the Congressional investigations, and the resignation.

Thank you,
H2O Man

Your Opinion, Please

Question: If you were on a board -- be it a school, town, city, or any similar elected position -- and you were convinced that the majority of other members were engaging in unethical behavior, what would you likely do?

The options, as I see them, are as follows:

A: Quietly serve out your term;

B: Work towards getting other qualified people to consider running, in a five-year plan; or

C: Call the news media to an up-coming meeting, and along with the other ethical board member, make a strong statement about why the two of you are resigning;

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer …..the only potentially wrong one, would to become one with those who are definitely unethical. I appreciate any thoughts that forum members may have.

Peace,
H2O Man

saving Bob McDonnell

It strikes me as strange: former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is currently being tried on charges of the greediest types of corruption, and it barely creates a ripple in the media. More, I haven’t seen much of any discussion of the trial recently on the Democratic Underground. Does this seem odd to others here?

It’s not as if McDonnell was just another faceless political cog. For years, he was being promoted as being among that party’s potential presidential contenders. Among his qualifications that was supposed to be acceptable -- even appealing -- was that he was one of the few republicans that recognized the need to invest in “green energy.”

As it turns out, not surprisingly, is that he and his wife were greedy, amoral people, seeking to enrich their family. They had a “friendship” with a businessman who showered them with “gifts.” Jonnie Williams, Sr., the former CEO of Star Scientific, had McDonnell in his pocket. And, as soon as serious investigations were underway, Williams dropped dime on McDonnell.

Has the public become so accustomed to corruption that this case is deemed insignificant?

1968 (Your Help, Please!)

“Arguably the most historic year of modern times, 1968 was full of tragedy.” -- CNN


Episode 8 of CNN’s series about “The Sixties” airs tonight at 9 pm/est. (The program replays later tonight.) The earlier episodes have been, in my opinion, of a quality well worth watching. They have covered issues including the Cuban Missile Crises, Civil Rights movement, JFK’s murder, the Beatles, and the space race. Tonight’s program focuses on 1968.

The Tet Offensive; McCarthy’s New Hampshire upset; LBJ steps aside (kind of); King is killed; RFK is killed; the Democratic National Convention; Nixon; the White Album; and much, much more.

If you weren’t alive back then, watching tonight’s documentary may help put 1968 into perspective. It was, quite literally, a revolutionary year in American history. There was something close to a civil war, though there were more than two sides fighting.

If you were around back then, I would also recommend watching it. I do not tend to watch CNN much, myself, but I have enjoyed this series. I suspect that you will like tonight’s episode!

Now, if possible, I’d like your help, to make this both an entertaining and worthwhile thread. If you experienced 1968, what events stick out in your mind? And why?

If you weren’t alive back then, what are your impressions of that year, based upon what you have learned about it? Also, do you have any questions about 1968 -- and what made it so special -- that you might pose to D.U.’s elders?

Thank you for your consideration, and hopefully, participation. And enjoy the show!

Your friend,
H2O Man

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972

I’m looking forward to reading “The Nixon Tapes: 1971 - 1972,” edited by David Brinkley and Luke Nichter. The authors are professors of history; Brinkley at Rice University, and Nichter at Texas A&M. Brinkley has been appearing on various cable news programs, promoting the book, which highlights some of the previously unpublished transcripts of the infamous Nixon White House tapes.

Richard Nixon is, in my opinion, the strangest man to ever serve as President of the United States. Until 2001, he was also the most repulsive, pathological liar to inhabit the White House. I assume that other D.U.ers from my generation had, like myself, assumed that the American public could never elect a worse human being to that office, until Ronald Reagan was twice elected. (I do not believe that George W. Bush won either the 2000 or 2004 election.)

Yet, for all of his unattractive character flaws, Richard Nixon is a fascinating case study. I have more books by or about Nixon, than any other republican politician. In fact, I likely have more Nixon books, than the combined total of books about other republican presidents. Each time I add to my collection, I feel slightly uneasy, and ask myself, “Why? Why another book about this criminal?”

Part of I reason would be because of that era in our nation’s history. It was, of course, “the best of times, and the worst of times.” Nixon’s political career spanned from the period before World War Two, until the end of the Vietnam War. His aborted presidency came about during the most revolutionary year in the 20th century -- which will be covered on CNN this Thursday, for those interested in that series on the 1960s.

It also seems interesting to me that Nixon is one of the two American presidents who suffered a severe psychological break-down in office. LBJ was the other. Curious the timing there, as they followed JFK, a man that both Nixon and Johnson’s presidencies were closely tied to. (I do not believe that either played any direct role in the plot to kill Kennedy. Both benefited, of course. And both were aware of how JFK died.)

Nixon was also an intelligent individual, who understood -- and at times mastered -- the politics of power. More, although I would have denied it at the time (had anyone asked me), Nixon did a few good things as president. I’m not in agreement with those who insist that Nixon was “more liberal” than Barack Obama, however. A person can only be evaluated and understood properly within the context of the era they inhabit.

The extremely complex series of criminal activities that are known as “Watergate” were an important part of the shaping of my social-political outlook. Hence, I collect books that explore much further than the limited events of “Watergate” that defines most Americans’ understanding of it. Together, those events posed a far greater threat to our Constitutional democracy than the various committees investigating it, or prosecutions of the criminals involved, ever disclosed. Later threats -- including the Iran-Contra scandals, and the various Bush-Cheney actions such as the Plame Scandal -- could not have happened but for Watergate. In fact, they were outgrowths of the great presidential scandal of my lifetime.

The good books about Nixon do not sanitize his presidency. While they give credit to him and Kissinger for some foreign policy accomplishments, they expose both as war criminals. More, they document the strong ties between “organized crime” and Nixon’s political career, and show hoe the Huston Plan would evolve into the Patriot Act.

This book will not have the shock value that the first book of transcribed tapes had, when the New York Times published a collection of those made public by the Watergate investigations. But, along with a couple of books of tapes published in between, they provide a unique view of that strangest of American presidents, Richard Nixon.
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