H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
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A former associate recently approached me about her working conditions. She is a public school teacher. Although the teachers union per se has organized power, the faculty at her school is inconsistent in advocating for themselves. She described people as “scared,” though there is no rational explanation for their fear.
This is an example of the type of general anxiety that a significant portion of our population feels. It impacts the manner in which individuals and groups behave. In my opinion, it illustrates why the majority of the American public accepts -- or becomes emotionally invested in -- a social-political system that exploits them.
Obviously, the current economic trends are a major factor; people fear being fired. Yet for people to fear that potential, when they know that they are doing a good job, So let’s examine a few “group dynamics” that come into play. We’ll start with “authority,” and how that translates in group behavior. Though I’ve written about this first part before on DU, I think a brief review is of value.
There are three general types of “authority” in human communities. The first is “traditional,” and as the name implies, tends to apply to older cultures. Things are understood to be done in a certain way, because “that is the way that we’ve always done them.” An example of this can be found in how I can identify what general cultural phase a specific projectile point I find dates to, for there was a “cultural compulsion” in which everyone, for perhaps several hundred years, made their spear points and/or arrowheads. There was no authority figure who demanded that they were made thus; rather, it was the way everyone did -- because they worked in helping that group meet their needs.
The second type is “charismatic” authority. This is generally that man or woman who the group recognizes has special insights and talents, and who others chose to follow. In the negative potential, of course, that leader can misuse his/her authority, to impose their beliefs and choices upon others. Charismatic leaders tend to be like meteors: they burn brightly, but for a brief time. For their ideas for social change to take deep root, they must be followed by the third type of authority.
That third type is “bureaucratic authority.” This is the type that deals with large groups of people. The general concept is that most people have similar issues, and this system identifies the easiest way to handle that common problem. If you have ever had the experience of going to the DMV for an uncommon problem, you’ve come face-to-face with the weakness of such a system.
Now, within each of these three types, there have long been easily understood rewards and punishments for various types of behavior. Generally, an individual knew where he/she stood. That does not mean that their status was good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. But it was defined, with another type of “authority” to back it up.
This other realm of authority has two general sub-groups: “overt authority” and “anonymous authority.” Most of us are familiar with “overt authority,” which includes, among many others, when a parent disciplines their child; when a teacher kicks a student out of class; when a policeman arrests a person; or when a boss fires an employee Obey the rules, or face the consequences. In a relatively healthy society, these rules are enforced fairly. In a sick society, these are enforced in an unfair manner.
Let’s consider some examples. In a healthy society, more young black men would be enrolled in our colleges and universities, than in jail, or one parole or probation. For a healthy culture benefits from the education of not only all groups, but all individuals. An unhealthy culture involves a small group that benefit from the incarceration of a large group.
Or, another example: a healthy culture recognizes every adults human right to be married to the adult individual that they love. For a healthy society promotes the happiness and well-being of all of its members. In an unhealthy culture, a group with power attempts to impose its beliefs and values -- its dogma -- on other groups, to deny them basic human rights.
In a healthy culture, the legitimate purpose of discipline is to instill self-discipline. In unhealthy cultures, those who administer “discipline” tend to be undisciplined individuals, acting out their frustrations, anger, and sense of inferiority. By no coincidence, the American experience in the 20th century per public education provides numerous examples -- good and bad -- of how “discipline” and “respect for authority” took root in our culture. As the twig is bent …..
In the post-WW2 period, two dynamics were changing in the United States: public education was being recognized as more important than it previously had been, and the capitalist economic system began placing more emphasis upon encouraging consumerism. The two were, of course, closely related. Yet, there were some significant tensions between the two.
Progressive advocates for public education recognized the benefits of relaxing overt authority within the schools. There was European influences on concepts of instilling self-discipline in children and youth, much of that based upon insights in the field of psychology. These were sincere attempts to improve students’ experiences and futures.
Industry viewed schools somewhat differently. Since public schools are, in a sense, not-for-profit businesses, this applies to some administrators, but more so to the local corporate leaders and the politicians who serve them. The “elite” male students (many of whom attended private schools) were destined to go on to college, as were a smaller percentage of the females. But the majority of the public school graduates were going to be finding employment in factories, or jobs connected to the local factory or the construction industry. Female graduates might go on to, for example, nursing school, or become public school teachers, but the majority went on to become housewives.
Now, while we know that the greatest growth was in the military-industrial complex, the country grew in other ways, too. This included those things such as “the suburbs,” and cars to drive on the new highways, for the expanding middle class. A high school diploma allowed a father to work in a factory, and support his family in a more comfortable style than before. At the same time, there was a growth in other unhealthy areas, such as depression, substance abuse (primarily legal drugs, such as alcohol), and family violence (including suicide). Although other industrialized nations showed some growth in these areas, the United States was #1.
There are numerous valuable insights on the nature of how the middle class economic experience impacted our society. These include important thoughts on how, when our economy went from industrial to high-tech, the human experience -- in relation to one’s self and others -- has also changed. Still, in order to understand “today,” we need a grasp of “yesterday.” And some of the articles and books that were written back then are essential; my favorites include Durkheim and Fromm.
Durkheim wrote of the phenomenon of “anomie,” in which traditional bonds and institutions give way to the power of the nation-state. He famously spoke of citizens in modern society becoming a “disorganized dust of individuals.” Fromm built upon this, and noted how consumerism had led to a uniformity in the middle class. More, he spoke of how individuals increasingly found it difficult to be either alone, or different than the mass-produced modern middle class citizen.
That discomfort with being alone, and fear of being different, is the essence of unhealthy “anonymous authority.” No person -- boss, cop, teacher, or whoever -- has to enforce a code of conduct upon the individuals that make up a group, for they police themselves.
The dynamics of this type of conformity is distinct from the cultural compulsion that results in almost all projectile points resembling each other in days of old. Those cultures used specific types of projectile points for everyone’s benefit. In our culture, a small sub-group is capitalizing upon that anonymous authority that produces conformance.
Because the true nature of the beast of anonymous authority is not visible to some, or appears “too big to change” to others, society has created various outlets for those energies that should be invested in over-turning the system. People who want to be part of a team for identity are free to become fans of the Yankees, Celtics, or the Cowboys -- or all three. They can even buy shirts, hats, and banners that identify them with that group.
Or, they might identify their life experiences in a group context, be it religion, political party, or similar club. Or, for young adults, there is that opportunity to “be all that you can be” by joining the military. In all of these instances, however, we can see that some corporation or another is profiting financially.
But what is more important to the 1% is that those sports’ fans and religious folks are available to work in the factory -- or school, or office, etc -- most of their time. And to be sure they do their jobs, while feeling uncomfortable for unidentified rational reasons. To get out of work, slam down a six-pack, and to be ready the next day.
The victims of this system become alienated from their own being: they complain about work conditions, but never take meaningful steps to address the real problems. The fill their “off” time with activities that, while intended to be fun, are un-fulfilling. They avoid “alone time,” even if they lie to themselves, and believe they enjoy it -- but just can’t set aside the time. For they are too busy. Busy, busy, busy people.
“It is beneath human dignity,” Gandhi told us, “To be a mere cog in the machine.” Clearly, cog-ism is one human potential. But it is not the only one, nor the most desirable. In order to change the current reality, society needs a group of people to rise above the cog status. To reach a higher ground than that which allows people to know that “climate change” is a reality, and one that poses definite negative consequences -- for Mother Nature practices a type of overt authority that doesn’t consider if one is from a wealthy family, as everyone suffers -- but still be stuck in place, heading down a self-destructive path.
We need a revolution in our thinking, and our behavior.
-- H2O Man
Posted by H2O Man | Fri May 22, 2015, 01:28 PM (18 replies)
On September 11, 1990, President Geoege H. W. Bush spoke of a “new world order.” At the time, many critics assumed it was a clumpy attempt by a poor public speaker to sound inspirational in describing the promise that the post-Cold War held. In fact, it marked one of the very few times Bush spoke honestly, although he attempted to make the plan sound beneficial to everyone, especially US and Soviet citizens.
A quarter of a century later, it is evident that this new world order has not brought stability, much less security, to the world at large. It has helped a tiny minority to prosper. And it is in this context that we should view the TPP -- for it is nothing, if not an agreement by the wealthy elite, disguised as an international trade deal.
Bush attempted to sound like Woodrow Wilson advocating for the United Nations. But Wilson’s post-WW1 attempt to prevent the international tensions that led to warfare was sincere, and based upon both the rule of law, and respect for every nation’s sovereignty. The TPP is distinct: it is an attempt to over-ride governments, and institute the authority of multi-national corporations.
After WW2, a new reality was created in the United States -- a strong middle class. Although looking back, we can see that this was primarily the territory of white men, it would provide opportunity for others to struggle for social justice. And, for several decades, it allowed US citizens to live in a level of material comfort that had not been experienced by human beings in the past. Indeed, it created a lifestyle that most global inhabitants today do not have.
A solid case can be made for the concept that this lifestyle did not improve the quality of life -- except in material comfort -- for many people. This is evidenced by the rates of mental illness, especially depressive disorders; suicide; violence, including but not exclusively gun-related; and rates of drug dependence, abuse, and addiction. This includes, of course, both illegal and legal substances, even those prescribed by a doctor.
America’s military might allowed it to exploit the resources -- human and material -- from much of the world. Exploitation by corporations, including the military-industrial complex, was greatest in “Third-World” nations. Likewise, the USSR had sections of the world it exploited, and competed with Uncle Sam for access to the Third World.
Times changed. The Soviet Union came apart at the seams. US corporations began to cooperate with foreign businesses in manners that displayed a total lack of anything that could be mistaken for patriotism, excepting only their commercials and ads. The leaders of various nations were primarily fronting for these corporations.
As a rule, American presidents talk about their desire for peace. Yet, it would be difficult to identify when we haven’t been involved in wardare -- though not in the manner identified by the Constitution of the United States, nor against specific nations. But a general policy that involves violence of the type that benefits powerful US corporate interests -- including, of course, those of the military-industrial complex.
Indeed, although the general public was distracted, there was even a shift between the exclusive use of the US military, to hiring “private contractors” -- with tax dollars, and without Congressional oversight. These “private contractors” began as the “security” forces of various corporations, which sometimes morphed into a corporate identity of their own. But hey, corporations ARE people. Just ask the US Supreme Court.
While Americans are busy fighting about “social issues” -- primarily rooted in one group’s attempting to prove their church employs the biggest god on earth -- corporations have focused on purchasing the best politicians that money can buy. That’s not to say that all politicians are corporate lap dogs. But most are. And the few who aren’t willing to “rise above their principles” for the good of the team get run over, one way or another.
Non-US corporate elitists know that their populations require a higher standard of living, in order to insure that they can be more fully exploited. And US corporations are willing partners. Heck, they are eager to pay workers less money, not have to deal with unions, or obey pesky environmental laws. And, as we have witnessed, there is a corresponding decrease in US citizens’ living standards. That “middle class” ain’t what it used to be.
We have options. One is to do nothing, and just accept this new world disorder. Another would be to focus entirely upon which candidate favors our positions on social issues; indeed, they are important. A third option would be to exercise the rights, and live up to the responsibilities, that the Constitution provides for. And that obviously includes actively supporting those politicians who aren’t owned by corporate interests.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon May 18, 2015, 07:37 PM (27 replies)
On April 10, the FBI arrested Robert R. Doggert, 63, of Signal Mountain, TN. Initially, the criminal complaint was sealed. However, the complaint was recently unsealed, to show that the former congressional candidate was planning a violent attack upon an Islamic community in the town of Hancock, NY.
Doggert’s plan was to have a para-military force attack the community, with snipers using rifles; with explosives to destroy the school and mosque; and machetes for “hand-to-hand” combat. He reportedly had selected this community, based upon some Fox News reports that it was a “terrorist training camp.”
It has been reported, based upon Doggert’s previous communications, that he had planned a similar attack on another Islamic community in the past. However, during the course of his preparations, he had been disappointed to learn that community was non-violent, and its residents were well-accepted as good neighbors and responsible citizens by the larger community of non-Muslim residents.
Having lived and worked in this area of upstate New York for many years, I am familiar with the Islamic groups in Hancock and near-by Deposit, both in Delaware County. The vast majority are from families in NYC that, in the 1960s and ‘70s, converted to Islam. As happens with human beings of all religions, or no religion, some would seek to move out of the city, to raise their families in “small town America.” If one were to follow one of the main highways out of NYC, heading west, one comes to Hancock and Deposit, and eventually Binghamton.
In the 1980s, groups of people from mosques in NYC, seeking a better quality of life for their families, would pitch in funds, and buy old farms in our region. They sought to raise their own livestock and gardens. They faced a certain amount of mistrust at first, for several reasons: “city folks” do not always mix well; most are black, moving into white towns; and they weren’t “Christians.”
However, at a time when “family farms” were being put out of business by corporate farms, and when many beautiful old farms were being sub-divided into lots that realtors advertised in distant places, the locals came to appreciate having hard-working, law-abiding neighbors. Not everyone, of course, but in time it became clear that the only ones who were opposed to these settlements of Muslims were the racist trash on the margins of civilization.
After 9/11, the fear of Islam began its metastasis, and those who were not familiar with the group in Hancock became convinced that the settlement was a cell that posed danger to our society. The articles linked below, however, clearly identify the diseased individuals who pose the risk of extreme violence in America.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon May 18, 2015, 09:15 AM (15 replies)
May 16; HBO
Gennady Golovkin vs. Willie Monroe, Jr.; middleweights.
This will again be an interesting weekend for the boxing community. On Friday night, there are cards featured on both ESPN and Tru-TV. But the most important fight will be on HBO on Saturday night. This middleweight fight is being held in The Forum, in Inglewood, CA.
While Golovkin is defending his “titles,” the actual champion in the division is Miguel Cotto. Still, most people consider Golovkin to be the best middleweight in the world. More, he is viewed as the most exciting fighter at any weight, who is active today. Golovkin, known as “GGG,” is so dominant, in fact, that very few people are giving Monroe a chance to win.
Let’s take a minute to review each fighter, and then consider some possible outcomes. At 33 years of age, GGG is five years older than Monroe. Both men are about 5’ 10” taller. Monroe’s 74” reach is four inches to his advantage. Both are comfortable at middleweight, although Monroe has only recently moved up in weight.
GGG’s record is 32-0, with 29 knockouts. Monroe is 19-1, with six knockouts. As those numbers indicate, it will be a puncher versus a boxer. Yet those numbers do not tell the full story.
Golovkin is exciting, because he is a predator in the ring. I am reminded of a big cat, stalking his prey. HBO’s Max Kellerman has correctly compared Golovkin’s style to that of the great heavyweight champion, Joe Louis. As his record indicates, GGG has extreme punching power. His left hook, when it lands to either the head or body, can be counted on to end any fight in an instant.
Also similar to Louis, GGG has significant boxing talents. He very rarely makes any mistakes in the ring. He punches with great accuracy. When he does miss a punch, he does not get off-balance. The nature of his offensive skills tends to overshadow the fact that he is solid on defense. I watched his September, 2012 fight against Grezgorz Proksa (who was 28-1 at the time); GGG’s style and reflexes allow him to avoid punches surprisingly well.
Willie Monroe, Jr., comes from a respected boxing family. In 1976, his great uncle (Also named Willie Monroe) decisioned Marvin Hagler, considered by many the greatest middleweight champion ever. This was one of only three loses in Hagler’s 67 fight career. In essence, Willie Monroe, Jr., is looking to duplicate this by beating another “unbeatable” middleweight.
Years ago, when Willie was still an amateur, he trained in some of the gyms that my son frequented. We knew then that he had the potential to become a top professional boxer. Later, at the Boxing Hall of Fame, Willie was gracious in spending time talking to my daughters, and posing for photographs, despite efforts to hurry him into the ring to put on a display of skills for the audience. I maintain contact with Willie, and readily admit that I cannot be fully objective in evaluating this fight. (It’s on my birthday, and I’ve told Willie’s wife that there’s only one “present” that I really want: for her husband to win!) While I respect and admire GGG, the Monroe family represent what is good about American life.
Willie has one loss on his record. I knew that he being matched against a tough, lmuch-larger journeyman way too early in his pro career. When I voiced my concern, one of Willie’s sparring partners told me that his then-promoter was “purposely fucking him.” After that loss, Willie had the opportunity to work with Roy Jones, Jr., which provided him with exactly what was needed to get his career on-track. And it’s been on-track ever since.
Last year, Willie won ESPN’s Boxcino Tournament, in impressive fashion. In the second round, he beat the undefeated tournament favorite; in the finals, he scored an upset over another undefeated fighter. Then, in January of this year, Willie won an impressive decision over tough Brian Vera. Willie holds two North American middleweight titles.
Monroe’s being a southpaw will not, in and of itself, hold any surprise for Golovkin; GGG’s amateur and pro experience has pitted him against almost every style imaginable. Nor is there any chance that Gennady will be less than 100% ready on Saturday, for he knows what most of the “experts” who expect an easy GGG victory do not: if there is any middleweight today who can frustrate Golovkin, it is Willie Monroe.
For Monroe has always been one of those few young men who spent untold hours, often alone in the gym, practicing until me mastered “perfect form.” If that sounds simple, believe this: it is not. For it is not only throwing every punch correctly -- it means bringing one’s hands back equally correctly; using one’s shoulder to protect one’s chin while jabbing; mastering the double- and triple-jab; throwing combinations in the correct sequence; making each punch in a combination harder than the last; and moving off to the side after punching, while never setting a pattern.
In 2014, my son and I were watching Willie on ESPN. My son noted that Monroe has grown into his “man strength,” that physical maturation that, for example, allowed Cassius Clay to fight Sonny Liston. And, in the next bout, we saw clear evidence that Monroe had added a new level of power to his delivery of punches. While he doesn’t possess the same type of explosive power as GGG, he can put a lot of hurt on anyone in front of him. And no one is going to simply walk through his punches.
Still, it will be difficult to fight Golovkin. Those few people who believe he has a chance speak of the need to fight like Cassius Clay fought Sonny Liston; or how Evander Holyfield fought Mike Tyson. But, as my son pointed out, Willie needs to look to those who gave Joe Louis his toughest fights, in order to identify a blueprint. Considering that even some extremely talented boxers were rendered unconscious by Louis, it actually limit’s the list to two fighters -- both champions. And they are Billy Conn, the great light heavyweight champion, and Jersey Joe Walcott, who became heavyweight champion after Louis retired.
Conn challenged Joe for the title in the summer of 1941, at the Polo Grounds in New York. At that time, no one believed Conn had any meaningful chance against Louis: not only was Joe close to 30 pounds bigger, but he was on a historic streak of devastating knockouts that has never been equaled. But Billy Conn surprised everyone -- most of all Louis.
Billy used his superior footwork to both avoid Louis’s punches, and kept the champion off-balance. Joe wasn’t used to putting in many rounds, as he was the most efficient puncher in ring history. Yet, because he could not land his jab -- a lethal weapon in itself -- he could not land anything else. Conn steadily built up a lead, winning rounds by landing blistering combinations, and disappearing. After 12 rounds, Conn believed he was assured of winning the decision. But, because Joe’s face was getting puffy, his vision blurred, and Conn’s punches were setting him back on his heels, Conn decided to go for a knockout.
After coming to, and learning that he had been counted out, Billy Conn delivered the classic line: “Ah, being Irish is a curse.”
After the war, Louis would defend the title against an aging veteran, Jersey Joe Walcott. This bout took place at Madison Square Garden. When asked by a reporter if he felt Louis was “getting old,” Walcott replied that he found it frustrating to wait for Louis to get old, considering he was several years older than Joe.
For much of his career, Walcott had fought “part time,” because as a black boxer, he couldn’t secure big fights. Hence, he worked for my grandfather’s construction company. But he had watched the Conn fight closely, and was confident that he could upset Louis. Indeed, he not only was able to avoid any meaningful blows over the 15 rounds, but he actually decked Louis twice (he caught Joe off-balance, and was able to hurt him several times during the bout).
After the fight ended, Joe Louis knew he had lost. He actually left the ring, and went back to his dressing room. However, the promoter’s wishes carried the day, and only one of the three judges gave the fight to Walcott.
Constant movement -- but not “running” -- along with frequent changes in direction; fast, crisp combinations; anticipating, this avoiding the jab; and never setting patterns ….this is what Monroe needs to do. He doesn’t need to try to win every round, just one more than GGG. Tie up if he gets hit hard, and keep his back off the ropes. That’s difficult to do against a predator like Golovkin. For most fighters, it isn’t even a possibility. In fact, I think that other than Floyd Mayweather, that Willie Monroe is the only active boxer who has the ring IQ to give GGG a good fight.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri May 15, 2015, 01:33 PM (1 replies)
As a general rule, I prefer non-violence to violence. Yet, I cannot honestly say that I felt bad when US forces killed Usama bin Laden. I wasn’t happy about it, either.
I did think that it was important for President Obama. Not just because if the mission had failed, the general public would have elected President Willard Romney. But that was part of it.
That he would not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when informing the American people does not offend me. No US President is going to make public all aspects of things that, in one way or another, involve “national security.” Nor, for that matter, are informed US intelligence folks. Despite what I might think about the “risk” that bin Laden posed at the time of his death, I would not expect President Obama to tell 100% accurate information at that time -- any more than I would expect an intelligence officer, active or retired, when speaking to a journalist.
This is especially true in regards to any action that involves relations with one or more other nations. Friends or enemies. More so in a volatile region of the world. That would simply be unrealistic.
The operation to kill Usama bin Laden clearly involved, directly and indirectly, numerous individuals. Both American and foreign people. What most of these knew was limited by the compartmentalization of such operations. Hence, if two dozen of these people were to honestly say what they knew for sure, we would have exactly twenty-four separate stories. There would be areas where their stories overlapped, and areas where they were distinct.
If each of the two dozen people involved were to fabricate, rather than be totally honest, that would result in their stories being far different than the others’. This is the very nature of human communications.
I do not believe that either President Obama or Seymour Hersh, or any of their sources, know everything involved in the planning or execution of the killing of bin Laden. This alone would make it difficult to believe that either was telling the “whole truth.” President Obama could not, even if he really wanted to; Hersh wants to, but can’t -- because he doesn’t know, and can’t know.
I do not believe that the circumstances call for me, or anyone, to identify one as good and honest, and the other a fool or liar.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon May 11, 2015, 10:44 PM (77 replies)
“The problem in the world today is not one of ignorance; it’s of people knowing so darned much that just ain’t so.”
-- Mark Twain
Some of the most interesting OP/threads on DU:GD in recent days have focused on “hate speech” versus Amendment 1. It is a societal conflict that rightly demands our attention. As such, I think it deserves a serious review. Perhaps now that emotions have begun to subside, this will be an opportunity to do so.
Most people are somewhat familiar with the Bill of Rights, and perhaps have their strongest beliefs on what Amendment 1 provides for. Obviously, there can be strong disagreements among good people as to the exact interpretation of any of these rights. An obvious example is found in the heated debates of how Amendment 2 applies today.
Likewise, the issues addressed in Amendment 1 can and should be debated and contested on an on-going basis. For the Constitution only has value if it is perceived and experienced as a “living” document -- to be applied to current social circumstances. While the concept of “original intent” has value, it too is open to interpretation. More, the Constitution can be altered, as evidenced by not only the addition of that Bill of Rights, but all of the amendments that have followed.
I find the right-wing view of “original intent” to be a giggle much of the time. Let’s consider the concept of a “free press.” The Founding Fathers could not have imagined a corporate-owned, commercially-controlled news media such as we are subjected to today. The notion of journalists being an elite group, which excluded those who didn’t have a degree in journalism, is silly. Any reading of the “press” from our nation’s early days shows that the journalists resembled nothing if not today’s “bloggers” on the internet.
Attempts to silence, and indeed to punish journalists were resolved in court. This brings us to perhaps the most important point in the understanding of such issues: What does the Constitution of the United States mean? That meaning is defined by Constitutional Law. And that, for better or for worse, is what the federal courts decide at a given time. Primary among the various federal courts is, of course, the Supreme Court.
Although it has been rare historically, the Supreme Court has altered previous decisions, and in some instances, actually reversed earlier precedent. In most instances, these provided examples of the expansion of rights to populations previously excluded. This has been correctly viewed as solid evidence of the Constitution being a living document. In such instances, Supreme Court decisions -- Constitutional Law -- reflect society’s growth beyond the biases, prejudices, and hatreds that have denied rights to various groups of citizens under the guise of local, state, and federal law.
The potential for the Supreme Court to do “good” is unfortunately matched exactly by its potential to do “bad.” Two obvious recent examples come to mind. The first is, of course, when the Supreme Court selected George W. Bush to be president, after he lost the 2000 election to Al Gore. Their decision was not based upon anything in the state or federal laws, nor in the Constitution. Rather, it was an entirely political decision, influenced in part upon the economic interests of several of the Injustices. And the second example was when the Court ruled that corporations are people, endowed with an unlimited right to “free speech.”
The issues involving “hate speech” are not new. By no coincidence, they tend to be most contested when they involve the overlapping issues of free speech, free press, and the right to assemble in public. Indeed, the tensions associated with controversial “speech” -- especially that which is advertised in advance, and involves a public assembly -- is often viewed as a fuse that has the potential to ignite a powder keg. While events such as Martin Luther King’s public protests were consider “at risk” of sparking violent reactions from his enemies, “hate speech” events pose both this potential, and more importantly, the very real possibility of the “hate speech” advocates engaging in violence.
Now, let’s look at a few cases that, at one time or another, defined Constitutional Law as it applies to “hate speech.” Because a critic of mine recently attacked me for writing about progressive-liberal candidates being betrayed by moderate-conservative Democrats in the past 50 years -- why, she demanded, did I limit my essay to 50 years? -- I have decided to expand the period covered here, to 63 years. Should anyone feel an impulse to react with a hateful post, I nonviolently request they first listen to the Beatles’ song, “When I’m 64,” as I believe the solution to many disagreements common to DU:GD are found in the Cosmic Law expressed upon the Sgt. Pepper’s LP.
In the year 1952, the USSC heard an appeal of Beauharnais v. Illinois; the case centered upon a Chicago man’s leaflet that urged white residents to fight the “invasion” of their “neighborhoods and person” by black citizens. The leaflet implied that organized group violence was necessary to ward off black people. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court ruled that this constituted “hate speech” that caused an unacceptable risk of violence being perpetrated upon people for simply being black.
Now, you or I may have agreed with that decision, or disagreed with it. Either way, however, it was Constitutional Law. As such, it could only be changed by a future USSC decision; such changes might involve a case with very similar issues at stake, or one that appeared very different on the surface. In this instance, many legal scholars believe that a very different case would begin the changes in Constitutional Law as it applies to “hate speech.”
The 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, according to Anthony Lewis’s outstanding “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate” (MJF Books; 2007; page 159) would reverse the “logical premise” of the Beauharnais ruling. In this instance, the USSC “ended the exclusion of libel from the protection of the First Amendment.”
This was followed by the 1969 case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the Court placed severe restrictions upon the possible criminal charges that could result from “hate speech” that targeted people based upon race, religion, or ethnicity. This would serve as the basis for the 1977 ruling by the US Court of Appeals (7th Circuit) involving the repulsive plans by Nazis to “demonstrate” in Skokie, Illinois.
There are numerous other, related cases that define Constitutional Law as it applies to “hate speech.” Because I am attempting to write an essay that will take the average reader less than 50 years to read, I think that the three I’ve mentioned should suffice to show that the Courts’ rulings on “hate speech” have been fluid over the years. Differing circumstances can result in different definitions of Constitutional Law.
Let’s consider what those differing circumstances may involve. In general, the determing factor is not how offensive the “hate speech” may be. Unlike the art of pornography, “hate speech” is not judged upon any measures of socially redeeming value. Indeed, it is society’s willingness to allow the most toxic of hateful expression, that adds value to our culture -- by allowing good people to utterly reject the ideas expressed, without imposing criminal sanctions upon the idiot expressing them.
The potential for restrictions upon “hate speech” are thus found in a more limited area: is that “hate speech” likely to result in an immediate reaction that causes a violent public disruption? Again, such incidents are most likely to involve press, speech, and public assembly. More, it involves not only the potential for a violent response to the hateful group, but also the likelihood of the hate group’s advocates of engaging in violence.
The dynamics in our current culture, while similar in many ways to times past, present a different picture than before. An example of this is, obviously, that instant communications can potentially play a large role in cases involving the press/internet, speech, and the ability to assemble groups of people. But the most troubling aspect, in my opinion, is the quality of too many individuals who sit on the bench in federal courts.
As Vince Bugliosi has pointed out, the public tends to be suspicious of lawyers and politicians, but trusting of judges. A $20 black robe does not elevate the ethical standards of a judge. And there ae several on the USSC who are opposed to a democratic society, who are motivated by money and power, and who are self-righteous snakes. That court has become as much of a corporate lap dog as the mainstream media.
The amount of hatred being communicated today creates a tense atmosphere. There are definitely some who take a perverse pleasure in seeing reports of violent incidents on the news, and who will invest their energy in trying to provoke further violence. “Hate” is, of course, a purely human concept, and its energy force is not found elsewhere in the natural world. Yet, in our culture, we are witnessing the fact that hatred demands existence, in the sense that hateful individuals perpetuate more hatred.
The line between hateful thoughts and hateful actions, including physical violence, is not always clear. The hateful female who promoted the cartoon contest was both attempting to push the boundary, yet remain protected by law. Those who would use this to justify violence are also a destabilizing force in our society. Neither offer anything positive to society in this sense.
It would be wonderful if the federal court system had “the answer.” But a culture that is infected with such high levels of hatred also tends to promote republicans to the federal bench. That fact concerns me, because I do not believe that Antonin Scalia or his ilk would decide a “free speech” case in a manner that would only impact extreme cases. Rather, the current USSC would be far, far more likely to act in a manner that would seriously restrict our rights to a free press, free speech, and the right to assembly in public to voice our disagreements with elected and appointed government officials.
In conclusion, I believe that the best alternative available to us today is to confront “hate” and “hate speech” in a firm, non-violent manner.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon May 11, 2015, 01:44 PM (14 replies)
May 9; on HBO
Houston: Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland; 12 rounds at junior middleweight.
Some of the boxing community loves “the Sweet Science,” as displayed by Floyd Mayweather last weekend. Others prefer bloody brawls, such as last night’s ESPN main event, featuring two powerful heavyweight sluggers. I think it is safe to say that all sports fans will find tonight’s bout, featured on HBO, exciting.
Although no title is at stake, the fight is scheduled for 12 rounds. This is in part due to the significance of the fight itself, and in part because the promoters believe it will result in Canelo’s being able to challenge middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in the fall. Indeed, Cotto and Canelo were in negotiations for a “super fight” for May 2 at Madison Square Garden, until Floyd Mayweather announced that he would be defending his championship against Manny Pacquiao on that date.
Hence, Canelo and Cotto opted to have “warm up” fights in May -- obviously a wise choice on paper, since the ringside seats last Saturday sold for $100,000-plus, and pay-per view sales may exceed five million. It is hard to compete with those numbers. Yet, while Cotto is taking a “soft” fight on June 6, Alvarez was willing to roll the dice against a dangerous foe. This is a classic case of a hungry Young Lion pursuing an aging Lion King, looking to replace him as the champion.
Alvarez is a compelling fighter. He is certainly the best Mexican warrior of his generation, and he has transcended that, to become one of the most popular boxers today. His milk-white skin and red hair create the look of an Irishman, and his style combines solid offensive and defensive skills that belie his boyish smile outside the ring. He is, at age 24, already a great fighter. He seeks to be recognized as an all-time great, by going after the very best competition available.
By facing James Kirkland, Alvarez is hoping to create a demand that Cotto -- assuming Miguel is not upset in June -- face him rather than Mayweather in September. Likewise, Kirkland believes that by beating Alvarez, he will put himself in line for a shot at Cotto and the middleweight title.
Both men are about 5’ 9”, with 70” reaches. Alvarez is six years younger; he fights orthodox, while Kirkland is a south-paw. Canelo’s record is 44 (31)-1-1, while Kirkland’s is 32 (28) - 1 (1). They have faced one common top-ten opponent, Alfredo Angulo: in 2011, Kirkland became the first person to deck Angulo, in TKOing him in six rounds; in 2014, Canelo stopped him in ten rounds.
In his only loss, Kirkland was stunned and dropped three times in the first round by an opponent that he took for granted. James had began a comeback in the ring after serving time for an illegal gun conviction, and had also switched trainers before this bout. He entered the ring cold, and while he was not hurt, he couldn’t maintain his balance against his much-taller opponent. Canelo’s sole defeat was a one-sided decision loss to Mayweather. Both fighters have come back well since their defeats.
Canelo tended to score knockouts early in his career. He usually faced much smaller, inferior opposition. His career was being overshadowed by Julio Chavez, Jr., the son of the great Mexican champion, who likewise was fed a steady diet of smaller, weak opposition. However, Alvarez soon progressed well beyond Chavez, Jr.’s skill level. Although he doesn’t score as many knockouts recently, it is because he consistently fights the top opposition.
Kirkland, on the other hand, has never had it easy. This is largely because of choices that he has made. For most of his career, he was trained and managed by Ann Wolf, arguably the best female boxer ever. Her unconventional style of training is a combination of Cus D’Amato and marine boot camp. It proved successful for exactly as long as James invested himself in it, for it provided him with the ability to deliver his crushing power -- and the mental toughness to struggle through, and overcome, fights against more talented fighters.
In theory, Canelo should be able to out-box, wear-down, and eventually stop Kirkland. His overall skills are far superior. But, of course, the two are not fighting “in theory.” Kirkland has a solid chance, based upon two factors. First, he fights at a much faster pace than Canelo is comfortable at. Canelo tends to suck weight in the last week of training, and the repeated dehydration, followed by extreme re-hydration/ weigh gain, is not favorable to fighting many rounds at an intense pace. Canelo prefers to fight in spurts, and does get winded by the middle rounds. Kirkland has only shown one gear thus far, a high-pressured seek-and-destroy.
Second, Kirkland has enormous punching power. He is brutal in the ring, and merciless if he hurts an opponent. The one thing to watch for, in my opinion, is a defensive tactic Canelo has mastered -- rolling his head with a shot, a trick associated with the top Mexican fighters. It is extremely high risk against Kirkland, so much so that if Canelo attempts it often, that I think Kirkland will be able to stop him.
It is difficult to imagine this being anything less than an exciting, highly entertaining bout. May the best man win. Enjoy the fight!
Posted by H2O Man | Sat May 9, 2015, 02:20 PM (4 replies)
Years ago, when it appeared that Mayweather and Pacquiao might reach an agreement to fight, the editor of The Ring magazine suffered from a moment of clarity: it was likely, he noted, that Floyd would simply rely upon his superior ring skills to win a one-sided decision over Manny. That, he stated, would be a major disappointment for boxing fans. Few things, it seemed, would show the inability of Pacquiao fans to appreciate the mere possibility that much of the boxing community supports Mayweather.
Not to be out-done, the HBO announcer stated before the fight that “many” viewed it as a confrontation between “good and evil.” Since few people who support Floyd refer to Manny as “evil,” it’s fair to assume that Jim Lampley -- still bitter about Floyd’s going from HBO to Showtime -- was speaking of Mayweather.
The fight itself was a classic Floyd Mayweather performance. In nine of the twelve rounds, Manny Pacquiao landed less than 10 punches. Manny’s over-all connect rate was a career-low of 19%. (81 of 429 thrown). Mayweather landed at 34% (148 of 435 thrown).
In terms of jabs, Mayweather landed 67 of 267 thrown (25%); Manny connected with 18 of 193 thrown (9%). Per power punches, Floyd connected with 81 of 188 (48%); Pacquiao landed 63 of 236 (27%).
While neither man was seriously hurt in any round, both were able to connect when their opponent was open and off-balance. Thus, both men “stumbled” at least once during the bout. But the fight was fought almost exclusively at the pace that Floyd dictated. The Pacquiao fans attempted to inspire Manny to pick up the pace several times, especially in the late rounds. However, Manny was either unwilling or unable to do so.
Two judges scored it 8 rounds to 4, and the third had it 10 to 2. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that it did not take several rounds for Floyd to access Manny and make adjustments -- he established his superiority in the first round, and imposed his will through to the end.
The biggest non-surprise was the sour grapes being gargled by both the sports journalists who dreamed of a Pac-Man victory, and the pro-Pacquiao / anti-Mayweather fans on social media. It wasn’t a “super fight.” Floyd is no Carmen Basilio. This was so boring that it will kill boxing. Floyd is no Muhammad Ali. Right, right -- as long as we are talking about the older version of Ali, since the young champion was hated by an even larger percentage of Americans than Floyd is today.
Several people have correctly noted that last night’s fight was very similar to the second Frazier versus Ali bout. It was the only one of the three scheduled for 12 rounds. Ali was focused upon one thing, and one thing only: getting the win. He fought a careful fight, winning more rounds than Smokin’ Joe. Afterwards, Joe complained that Ali pushed down on his neck on the inside, and clinched frequently. Indeed, Ali did. And he won a one-sided decision of the great heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier.
Pacquiao and Freddie Roach attempted to use a shoulder injury as their excuse after the fight. The human parasite Bob Arum did, too -- until a journalist asked him if, considering how much the public paid to watch the fight, he knowingly sent an injured Manny into the ring? As always, Arum whimpered out of both sides of his mouth in response.
Mayweather noted that he had injured both arms and both hands in training, when he met with journalists in the post-fight press conference. This is, of course, common when men in their mid- to late 30s train very hard for a fight. Boxing is a “hurt” business, and that includes training camps.
The majority of the questions posed to Mayweather were disrespectful attempts to discredit his amazing victory. In a calm, rational manner, Floyd was able to redirect the discussion, and to focus on what is important. He handled the reporters with more ease than he did Pacquiao.
Two of boxing’s all-time great champions entered the ring last night. Floyd won a lop-sided decision, based upon his intelligence, ring generalship, and physical skills. After the decision, two of boxing’s all-time great champions left the ring -- for that dynamic had not changed. Manny Pacquiao did not lessen his legend. Rather, Floyd established his superiority. Both men deserve our respect. Both are nearing the end of their outstanding careers, and we will not see anyone like either of them again.
Posted by H2O Man | Sun May 3, 2015, 01:46 PM (5 replies)
Tomorrow night is the “Big Fight” between welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and challenger Manny Pacquiao. The bout is being billed as “The Fight of the Century,” which is accurate at this point -- though there are 84 years to go. Even before the first bell rings, its being compared to Louis vs. Schmeling (6-22-1938), and Frazier vs. Ali I (3-8-’71).
In my opinion, the bout is more similar to Johnson vs. Jefferies (7-4-1910): in that much anticipated fight, the nation was split primarily upon “color lines,” with blacks hoping for Johnson, and whites praying to see “that golden smile removed from his (Johnson’s) face.” Jack Johnson was a complex character outside of the ring, and his flamboyant life-style offended white folks. In the ring, he was a defensive master, who wore his outclassed opponents out, before beating them into submission.
Jefferies, the undefeated former champion, was viewed as the “Great White Hope.” More than 20,000 people traveled to Reno, Nevada, to watch the bout. It turned out to be one-sided. After Johnson put Jefferies away, at least 20 people were killed in “race riots” broke out in 50 cities across America -- from Texas to New York, and from Colorado to Washington, DC.
Floyd Mayweather is the incarnation of Jack Johnson: his ring-style and life-style resemble Johnson’s, far more than they do Ali’s. Yet, besides being all-time great fighters, what the three have in common is being hated by much of the public.
The Louis vs. Schmeling II, and the Frazier vs. Ali I, were definitely “Super Fights.” More, each of them were deemed to transcend sports. Max had defeated a younger Joe, before the Brown Bomber won the heavyweight title. Their re-match was cast as a contest between Nazi Germany and the United States (despite Schmeling’s not being a Nazi). It was a brutal, one-round knockout, in which Joe did severe damage to Max’s spine.
Frazier vs. Ali I pitted two undefeated heavyweight champions, for the first time in history. Ali was, of course, despised by the right-wing, who incorrectly viewed him as a “draft-dodger.” Thus, even Richard Nixon was pulling for a Frazier victory. The left-wing was rooting for Ali.
In many ways, tomorrow’s fight is more similar to the 4-6-87 bout between middleweight champion Marvin Hagler and challenger Sugar Ray Leonard. This was in the golden era for welter-and middleweights; Marvin and Ray were considered the two best. For years, Ray avoided the fight. However, when he saw evidence that Hagler’s skills were deteriorating, and was able to dictate the ring-size, the glove-size, the number of rounds (12, rather than 15), and the location (Las Vegas), he interrupted Marvin’s plan to retire.
By preparing for twelve distinct “mini-” bouts -- each round -- and determing that he could “steal” rounds by fighting in spurts to impress the Vegas judges -- Ray won a decision. It was controversial then, and still is the subject of much dispute among the boxing community today. I recognize that Ray won; however, I recognize that, had the exact same bout have taken place in Atlantic City, Hagler would have gotten the decision. Different venues favor different tactics.
A strong case can be made for either man winning tomorrow night. The only thing that is certain at this point is that anyone who claims either fighter has “no chance” doesn’t understand boxing. Both Floyd and Manny are not only great boxers, but both rank among the sport’s All-Time Greats. Each possesses extreme physical skills. Yet, what makes both unique talents is their mental strength.
In many ways, each will be taking a page out of Ray Leonard’s book: they recognize that each one of the twelve rounds is a battle in itself. More, each round is three minutes long. When two fairly evenly-matched great fighters meet, not only is it rare for one to win every round, but almost impossible to win every minute of every round. (It’s worth noting that for many years, Floyd literally won almost every round of every one of his fights. That is extremely rare, especially considering that he faced tough competition.)
For Manny Pacquiao, that means near-constant foot movement; darting in-and-out at angles -- never coming straight in, or straight out; and throwing high-volume combinations. More, it means trying to throw the last punch in almost every exchange. If he appears busier in two of the three minutes, he can steal rounds.
Pac-Man’s hand-speed may allow him to do something that virtually no opponent has done yet: to land consecutive punches to Floyd’s head. To do so, he will need to throw “up and down,” meaning combinations to the head and body. Still, Manny’s overall intensity in the ring has to be controlled -- after throwing a combination, he must spin away from Floyd, never setting a pattern.
Clearly, Pacquiao can knock an opponent unconscious. But he should not be looking for a knockout In fact, if he starts to load-up on punches, he will pay severely for it. However, he does have the ability to exploit Floyd’s going off-balance: when Mayweather leads with a crisp right-cross -- and he surely will tomorrow -- he tends to bend at the waist, and hop out to the side. Manny need not land a hard counter -- just an accurate one. If he does score a knockdown, even just because Floyd was off-balance, that’s a 10-8 round. And that alone could be the difference on the score cards.
As much as I respect Manny Pacquiao, I definitely favor Floyd Mayweather. I think that “hit and don’t get hit” is the proper approach to the Great Sport. Floyd has accomplished this to great success, actually in two distinct (though related) manners in his career. For the early through middle years, he simply imposed himself on opponents. His 1-20-’01 destruction of undefeated champion Diego Corrales is the best example. I’d also include his 6-25-05 bout against Arturo Gatti; in it, Floyd reminded me of Ali devastating Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, and landing at an unreal rate.
More recently, Floyd has displayed the ability of a technician, which is rare, indeed. He’s able to measure the exact rate that a Zab Judah or an Oscar de la Hoys will tire. Then exploit it fully. He played with Juan Manuel Marquez, himself a legendary ring technician. Floyd defined controlling the geography of the ring against the much larger Canelo Alvarez. Against Mosley, he showed he could take a very hard, accurate punch that he never saw coming. And with Cotto and in the first Maidana bout, Floyd showed physical strength and endurance.
It’s fascinating to see that Floyd has gone “old school” in this training camp. I was the guest on a sports-radio show last night, with two hosts who had interviewed Floyd the day before; his camp is among the things that has all three of us thinking Floyd may win in impressive fashion in the late rounds. The pre-fight specials show that he is setting down, and lifting from his feet up, hard body shots. (Manny’s first two knockout loses resulted from body punches.)
Floyd is also chopping wood. Reportedly, a lot of it. This results in greater punching-power. This is especially true for punches that he “turns over” (meaning turning his wrist/fist when a punch lands). It seems likely that he will open a cut, somewhere on Manny’s brow, by the middle rounds. It also means that should Manny come straight in with his chin up, or moves straight back after an exchange -- both things he does too often -- he may be knocked to the canvas.
Still, no fighter has shown a greater understanding of a title fight consisting of 12 three-minute rounds than Floyd. While he no longer wins every minute of every round, he has an uncanny ability to “keep score” in his head, and turn on the punches when needed. His defensive skills are legendary: most opponents miss punches at a career-high rate. In response, Floyd lands his punches at a higher rate than any other fighter.
I expect the bout to be fairly even for six rounds. After that, Floyd should be able to impose himself on Manny, with his advantages in size, strength, and smarts. By round nine, I expect Floyd to become more aggressive than most people expect; this doesn’t have to include coming forward, stalking Pacquiao constantly. But it does mean initiating the action with blinding speed.
The most likely outcome is a decision victory for Mayweather. However, a late round TKO isn’t going to surprise me. (In fact, nothing will!)
Enjoy the fight!
Posted by H2O Man | Fri May 1, 2015, 07:05 PM (8 replies)
Marilyn Mosby just renewed my faith in the ability of good people to transcend the mechanics of “the system,” and to bring about social justice. I realize that she is, in a sense, the public face of a large team. Yet she is clearly the powerful and capable leader of that team.
This is a historic day. The struggle is far, far from over. But we should take time to appreciate the significance of the press conference that we have just seen.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri May 1, 2015, 11:08 AM (53 replies)