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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 56,762

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“Share your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into your house;
When you see the naked, cover him…..
Then shall your light break forth like dawn
And your healing shall spring up speedily”
-- Isaiah; 58: 7-9

Two of my cousins and I spent several hours this morning and afternoon, going door-to-door in Binghamton, NY, campaigning for Bernie Sanders. We joined with the effort that Citizens Action was coordinating. It was the first time that one of my cousins has done this; he has been involved in politics primarily through the carpenters’ union, and a few “local” environmental and social justice issues.

The other cousin has worked with me on local, state, national, and international issues for over 40 years. Thus, he has gone door-to-door with me dozens of times over the years. The three of us together made for a fun, effective campaign unit. More, while campaigning for Bernie, we were also advocating for other progressive candidates.

Per usual in upstate New York, the weather kept flip-flopping between pleasant and a bitter cold, complete with wing and mixed precipitation. The residents who opened numerous doors for us noted that they admired our dedication, to be outside walking the streets on such a day.

I selected a section of the city where both low-income and college students reside. Other groups were selecting the neighborhoods that might tend to get more attention during campaign season. My cousins were happy to let me decide what neighborhood we would venture into. And I have always been most comfortable with those marginalized by our society.

In times past, I have had associates ask me why I opt to invest as much time as I do in efforts to organize the poor. In fact, I’ve actually had well-intentioned associates tell me that I “waste” too much time on “those people.” But “those people” are my people. Indeed, I have had the opportunity in my life to hang out with rich and powerful people and power and seemingly powerless people -- and everything in between. I identify with the poor and marginalized. It’s as simple as that.

Our results were interesting and encouraging. There were, of course, a lot of folks on the latest record of registered voters there who had moved since the 2014 elections. This is to be expected among both the poor and college student populations. But there were also new residents, who will be participating in the Democratic Primary.

We also stopped in an old dinner, and did some campaigning as we had coffee and/or lunch. The owners of that dinner seemed amused, at first, that we set up a temporary “headquarters” in one of the booths; by the time we were preparing to leave, they were openly supporting our effort to get the vote out for Bernie.

Even within the two sub-groups we spoke with -- the poor and college students (including poor college students) -- we encountered a wide variety of people. Some were old, some were young; both male and female; a variety of skin colors; and on and on. While we were not attempting a scientific survey -- and the results are thus important in the limited context of one large neighborhood -- listening to the residents’ points of view proved worth-while. Two people stated that they might eventually vote for Donald Trump in the general election. One person said he avoids politics altogether, because he is convinced the last “honest” presidential candidate was Ronald Reagan. And only two people stated that they may vote for Hillary in the upcoming Democratic primary.

Other than that, everyone we spoke with was strongly supporting Bernie Sanders. And while this is only speculation on my part, I suspect that they are not among those being polled these days. Today, their voices are not being heard outside of the Sanders campaign. Yet, the Sanders campaign holds the promise of them being heard in the future.

The three of us are all old men. We have each been a registered Democrat since we reached the age where we could vote. But, to a large degree, our lives are behind us. We weren’t campaigning so much for ourselves and our generation’s benefit, as for our children and grandchildren’s generations. And for those who are to come after them.

Still, we had an amazing day. One of my two cousins is the man who was in court one county away during much of the week, for the trial of the guy who shot him, and murdered his son. It was his first time going door-to-door. I had been designated as our spokesman, but I was happy when he took over being our main speaker at several houses. My other cousin was surprised , considering how effective the other one was, that this was his first time.

Both this evening and tomorrow, we will all be working for the Sanders campaign. Each of us will be focusing on our hometowns, and preparing for Bernie’s speech on Monday in Binghamton. I know that Hillary is favored in New York, and I understand why. Still, I believe that the “experts” are going to be surprised by the eventual outcome in our state.

There is an energy force, gaining strength here. There are people who not only want change, but who are willing to work hard to bring that change about. On the ride home, my cousin asked me if I thought that our effort today actually made a difference in the that eventual outcome? I said that I did. Even today, from that small office of Citizens Action, there were lots of people volunteering to canvas different parts of the city. No one group -- much less, individual -- did “the” one thing that will decide the primary election. At the same time, every group and every individual were combining to take one of the most important actions that we can, to influence the outcome of the election contest. And true social justice can only come about by this type of active engagement in politics.

H2O Man

The Anti-Noise Machine

I’m sure that many people here received an e-mail from Jeff Weaver, the Sanders Campaign Manager, regarding an event last night in Colorado. But, for those who may have missed it, I would like to share some of its contents.

Last night, Hillary hosted a fund-raiser in a state that has already caucused. The top seats went for $27,000; others paid $2,700 for their seats.

“But a crazy thing happened when she got ready to speak. Her campaign actually ‘turned on a static noise machine’ pointed at the press so they couldn’t hear what she was saying to the financial elite in attendance.”

I’m sure that the Clinton supporters on this forum think that is just dandy. I’m not as confident that they would have approved if, say, George W. Bush had done the same thing in 2000 or 2004. But they seem to use an ethical slide-ruler to measure what is okay for a candidate to do.

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I find that objectionable. It reinforces the belief that Hillary’s message to the elite is not only different from her message to the peasants classes, but has to be kept extra-super-secret.

H2O Man

Bernie in Binghamton, NY

Senator Bernie Sanders will be speaking in Binghamton, NY, on Monday, April 11. This was announced in today’s edition of Binghamton’s daily newspaper, The Press & Sun-Bulletin:


In the past few days, I’ve posted on DU:GD about the murder trial of the thug who shot my cousin and his son in upstate New York in an October, 2014 “road rage” incident. It will be mighty nice to attend the Sanders’s rally with my cousin on Monday, and to then report on it here on DU:GDP.

H2O Man

"Guilty": Part Two

“What you think, you become.”
-- Gandhi

The morning started with the doctor who conducted the autopsy testifying. He was an impressive witness for the prosecution. His testimony proved -- well beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that my cousin’s son suffered severe injuries while he struggled to restrain the person who had just shot his father. The thug would “pistol-whip” him with five or six blows to the head with the pistol. The numerous autopsy photographs show where it tore the flesh from the young man’s face and head, and the enormous bruises and large welts it left upon the corpse of a 26-year old pacifist.

We arranged to keep my cousin, his parents, siblings, and others from being in the courtroom for this testimony. The photographs were enlarged to be seen on a large screen. What I saw was a brave young man, who willingly risked -- and lost -- his own life, in order to protect the father he loved.

Jimi Hendrix once said that everyone loves the dead, and that once you died, you had it made for life. Yet every so often, an extraordinary person lives and dies. And this is the young man that my family lost on that Monday, October 27, 2014. If I used this culture’s method of identification, I’d refer to him as my “second cousin.” But that is not accurate, It is certainly not as accurate as our culture’s method for identification.

My cousin is, in a literal sense, my brother. But it goes further: his late son was thus my nephew. With that comes responsibility; hence, my nephew is my “son,” just as his sister is my daughter. No dictionary changes that. Indeed, this culture’s definition of “family” is the most barren, unhealthy in human history. It provides the least support to two extremely important sub-groups: the children & youth, and the elderly.

My nephew was a classic example of a “gentle giant.” He stood about 6’ 5” tall, with the physical strength of a carpenter who enjoyed hard work. He loved science, and he loved animals. His grandmother (my aunt) has taken in abused animals for longer than I’ve been alive …..and those animals from recent years trusted this young fellow.

Like every one of his generation in my family, I enjoyed discussing high school, the opposite sex, music, and job opportunities with him. But we also had long conversations on other, often esoteric, issues ….such as college, the opposite sex, music, and employment options. On Friday, the 24th, he and I talked a good half-hour before his father got back from grocery shopping. He had resolved a conflict at work earlier in the day, and I was really impressed with his skills. It led to a discussion of union politics.

I remember when my cousin got home, my telling him how impressed I was with his son. I like “unions politics,” of course, and even more interested in dispute resolution. My nephew “got it,” so to speak. I remember telling my cousin how impressed with, and proud of his son I was.

The gunman testified that he was frustrated, because the young man was driving at 51 mph on a state highway. He didn’t mention that the recommended speed for the curve they approached was 45 mph. The thug admitted that my relatives pulled over, and let him pass them safely. He said that when he did pass their vehicle, my nephew gave him the finger. He felt so threatened by this, that he pulled into the parking lot to diffuse the situation. But, according to him, the pair followed him into the parking lot, and aggressively started to assault him.

He testified under oath that he only took his gun out to protect himself from being killed. Once he had opportunity to escape, he said, he ran to his vehicle, and drove off. After tossing the gun out the window, he went straight to the State Police station.

Then it was the DA’s time to cross-examine the human sludge. If one had believed the testimony he just gave, then the defendant was actually a meek lamb of a man, who was the true victim of the 10-27-2014 assault. If one thought the scumbag had lied on the witness stand, however, they were in for a treat, because DA Joseph McBride is something of a pit bull: he grabs hold of the Truth, and energetically shakes it free from lies.

He started by asking the thug about why he had lost his job as a security officer at Hartwick College in Oneonta …..the scum was fired for coming to work hammered, and bullying people on campus. Then he focused on the scum’s saying he had had two or three drinks in the hour before he shot the two victims. The scum admitted that he would had to have had at least nine drinks in that hour. More, he admitted that after the shooting, he continued to consume alcohol that he had in a “water bottle” in his vehicle, before he went to the police HQ.

The DA then focused their conversation on how, after at least nine drinks in approximately one hour, the scum got his handgun, and went out for a ride. DA McBride again stated the guy was furious when he left his house, and was intent upon shooting someone ….anyone who he happened to come upon in an isolated setting. He documented a series of lies the defendant told the State Police that afternoon. He caught the shithead in lie after lie after lie.

Perhaps the most interesting series of lies had to do with the creep’s massive collection of illegal guns. The defendant had purchased them while serving as a NYC patrolman; they were legal until the day he retired. At first, the scum claimed the NYC PD gave him a license after he retired; he went so far as to tell the DA he “should have done his homework.” But not only had the DA contacted the NYC PD, but they simply cannot issue a gun license for a retired cop in Chenango County.

The next lie came immediately: he had applied for the proper license, and it was “in process.” Nope. The DA documented that he had applied, but that the state had ruled that he could never be licensed in this state, due to his past behaviors.

The court recessed for lunch. During that time, the DA and I discussed how the case was going. I said I couldn’t see any grounds for appeal -- although the defense attorney had placed on record (three times) his belief that, because he was in county jail on the day the State Police searched his home, the defendant was not “in possession” of the weapons found in his home. The DA agreed, then told me that he believed the judge was going to render his verdict shortly after the closing arguments after lunch. This could only mean a guilty verdict, as a “not guilty” would take more time to prepare.

Closing arguments were relatively brief. The defense focused on my cousin’s use of the demon weed. I suspect this argument was 60 years past its expiration date. Then came DA Joseph McBride. He destroyed the defendant’s version of events, and exposed the numerous lies he had told the State Police before, and the court today. Indeed, if a witness gets caught telling a purposeful lie on the witness stand, the judge can dismiss virtually everything else they testified to. In this case, the defendant had lied under oath in his testimony more than a dozen times.

After a short recess, the judge announced that the scumbag was “guilty” on 15 counts. (Two were dismissed, because they were already covered in earlier charges.)

I was pleased when the defense attorney immediately came over to shake my cousin’s hand, and speak to him with human compassion.

I will say something about the murderer ….the other day, I noted that the only time his facial expression changed was when my cousin wept while describing his son dying in his arms. He gave my cousin a sneer that communicated his utter contempt -- as if “real men” don’t cry about such silly things. Then yesterday, when the autopsy photos were placed up on a large screen, he perked right up. You could see the pride he took in the severe damage he had done to a 26-year old man. (I think most people would, even if they had killed another human being in self-defense, would be upset by the experience.)

The reporters covering the trial had approached me during the recess before the verdict, and asked if they would be able to speak to my cousin after court. I said yes, and added that the “press conference” needed to include the DA. McBride also included one of the high-ranking BCI Senior Investigators, and my niece. While I’m not fully objective, I thought all four did extremely well.

The sentencing hearing will take place in about 30 days. The judge is ordering the usual pre-sentencing investigation. Though I’m retired, I know the folks who will do that investigation, and am confident they will do a good job. Also, I’ve been working with family and friends on “victim impact statements.” Some will be delivered in court; lots more will be mailed or e-mailed to the judge. These can come from anyone who wishes to communicate to the judge their opinions on how this thug has damaged the fabric of our society.

I’m going to be heading down to see me cousin soon. But before I do, it is important to me to again thank everyone here for their support through all of this. For a variety of reasons, my role within my extended family has included assisting in navigating the system, and being there to support everyone on every step of the way. A couple close friends -- who know my cousin et al very well -- assisted me. And my youngest daughter has really been here for me -- and our extended family -- and shown more strength than I might have thought was possible. During some of the most horrible testimony this week, I’ve been so proud to see her sitting with my uncle (who turns 88 next month), and holding him in her arms. While no family should endure such things, my daughter showed the strength that represents the power of family.

Thus, while I’ve had to detach to various extents during court, etc, I have been able to attach here on DU:GD. And I do not have words to describe how important that has been for me …..how much your kindness, compassion, and understanding means to me.

H2O Man

Guilty! (Road Rage)

The scumbag who shot my cousin & his son was found guilty on 15 counts this afternoon. It only took the judge a half an hour to determine his verdict.

I will post more -- much more -- about today's events in court later tonight. (At this time, a few family members and associates are here, celebrating the verdict.)

The DA was on fire today. I've never seen a DA do nearly this perfect a job.

H2O Man

A Day in the Court

Today’s court session in the “road rage” incident that I’ve been writing about on DU:GD since October 27, 2014 went well. Due to scheduling of witnesses -- some are involved in other trials elsewhere in the state -- there was not a full day. In a way, I think that works out for the better, simply because yesterday was so emotional, that people are drained.

More, tomorrow morning will focus primarily upon my second-cousin’s autopsy. In the afternoon, the defendant is expected to take the stand. And so it is better if folks have some time to both process what they have heard yesterday and today, and try to get rested up for tomorrow.

Today’s witnesses were all members of the NYS Police. Some are regular State Troopers; some criminal investigators; and some crime scene analysts. Each and every one of these men and women provided important documentation that will help convict the piece of sludge that shot my cousin and his son. If the defendant ever believed they would cover for him, because of his background in law enforcement, today was a rude awakening.

One of the issues the defense attorney raised yesterday, while cross-examining my cousin, was that he told news reporters (on 12-5-14) something that was not in his statement to police, taken shortly after he came out of emergency surgery. This was that the murderer had stepped up behind him, as my cousin was holding his son as he died, and put the pistol up to the back of his head, and pulled the trigger. However, the gun jammed.

My cousin had told me that, the day after he was shot. More importantly, he had told a woman who was attempting to aid him and his son, before the ambulance arrived; she testified to that yesterday. Today, a police gun expert testified that the 4th bullet was found in the chamber, as it had miss-fired.

Had it gone off, the murderer would have left no living witness to his crimes. What would have been a double-homicide would very likely have remained unsolved.

I was able to have a good conversation with the DA before court today, and with the Judge after court had ended for the day. And I spoke with several of the investigators. Also, I did see a couple of the autopsy photographs. I definitely do not want my cousin or his daughter to be exposed to these photographs tomorrow …..nor his three sisters, or his parents. Or, for that matter, my youngest daughter, who is attending the trial with me. I see absolutely no benefit in that, and a heck of a lot of damage it would do.

For that matter, I’m not looking forward to sitting in the court tomorrow. I’m lucky that a few of my closest friends are attending court, not only to provide support to my extended family, but to be there for me. It helps me to keep in mind that people are good. This thug is the exception, who represents human kind’s worst potential.

I also definitely appreciate the good people here in the DU community, who continue to provide support to me. I wasn’t able to respond to those who commented on my OP from yesterday, but I did read and enjoy every comment. But I am really exhausted, and am feeling pretty sick to my stomach.

I’ll be back here tomorrow. Until then, keep on fighting the Good Fight.

H2O Man

Road Rage Trial Update

“One man come in the names of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow.”
-- U2; (Pride) In the Name of Love

April 4 is always an important date for me. I remember 1968 all too well. It actually took a struggle to get Martin Luther King, Jr., to be “officially” honored with a holiday. And I remember when, in the 1990s, during union negotiations with the county board of supervisors on a contract. We discussed holidays. When Martin Luther King’s holiday was mentioned, one republican supervisor told us we didn’t need it off, as “there aren’t many Negroes in the county.” Seriously.

I know, I know ….. I should have said, “Yeah, but we’re a communist union!”

I think it is more important to think about the accomplishments, and the meaning, of King’s life, than about his death. But, it is important to think about what he was planning, in those final twelve months of his life, and about how he was killed.

Today was also the first day of the man who shot my cousin and his son, on October 27, 2014. I think it must have weighed on my mind last night, as I would break off a tooth while sleeping last night.. Maybe it was a premonition of how brutal a day we were in store for.

The District Attorney, who I’ve known and respected for years, did an outstanding job with his opening statement. Now, I have far more, and much closer, personal relationships with defense attorneys -- and civil attorneys -- than prosecutors. But I’ve followed DA’s in a four-county region in upstate New York, and I have long considered this one to be the best. In fact, I helped run one of his re-elections, against a tea party candidate.

The defense attorney opted not to give an opening statement. I don’t know this fellow, but he seems pleasant outside of the courtroom. I appreciate that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, which demands a competent attorney to represent your best interests. He has a job to do, and I do not resent him for that.

The first witness was my cousin. He did very well on direct. The prosecutor pre-empted a topic we knew the defense attorney planned to focus on …..that my cousin, who worked as a carpenter for 33 years, and is retired in part due to physical injuries sustained on the job, at times smokes pot to ease physical pain. Now, please -- before you decide never to talk to me again because my cousin sometimes indulges in the demon weed (he doesn’t play piano, though), try to keep an open mind. His primary doctor has prescribed strong “pain-killers” for him, but he is not willing to take them. His doctor is aware that my cousin smokes pot to relieve pain, and he’s okay with it.

Indeed, on cross-examination, the defense attorney did spend a significant amount of time and energy focusing on pot. There are a heck of a lot of ways for a person to ask the same question. But this got beyond where it seemed like overkill. And it eventually got to my cousin, and he reacted with emotion.

There was then a series of other witnesses -- one gentleman who drove by, and four women who were nearby, hadn’t witnessed the shooting, but attempted first aide before the EMTs , ambulances, and state police arrived. They all told the same basic story. One mentioned something that the thug isn’t being tried for: he placed the gun at the back of my cousin’s head, but the bullet jammed, just before he sped away from the scene.

The final witness today was a BCI Investigator for the NYS Police. She was the first person to interview the murderer. Her testimony really only had just gotten started, when a series of “in chambers” discussions took place. She’ll be back on the witness stand in the morning.

Perhaps the most painful part for me today was to listen to the tape of my cousin’s 911 call for help. I’m glad that I heard, but wish that I never had. It was something that I will not soon get out of my head.

The strangest part was when, during the BCI Investigator’s testimony, a series of photos were introduced (and then projected upon a large screen). The gunman had taken a lot of blood, and smeared it strategically on himself, to indicate serious injuries. He was taken to an area hospital; upon being washed, he had actually sustain zero injuries from the two people he shot.

Other information included that he was well beyond the legal limit for intoxication, when tested more than two hours after being placed in custody, and the description of his massive, entirely illegal arsenal. This creep had an unreal amount of weapons in both his car, and his home.

I was also struck by the defendant’s almost absolute lack of emotion. On several occasions, he would sneer at my cousin. This included a look of utter contempt, when my cousin wept while describing his son dying in his arms. I am convinced that this creep actually feels that he is the real victim here, and was entitled to do exactly what he did. I found myself remembering that, after being arraigned in court, he asked the judge, “Can I leave now?” He saw no reason for them to put him in jail.

I was hoping to spend some time tonight, doing housework, paying bills, and mailing out some things to friends that I promised a while back. But my mind isn’t there. I’m not trying to make an excuse for falling behind on stuff. Yet, even in the hours since I returned home, I’ve had fifteen phone calls -- from relatives, friends, the media, etc. I don’t have the energy that I had when I was young. I will get things out to a couple DU community members. Seriously. But for now, I just keep thinking about how my cousin and his son lived life, and how that young man died. And I still can’t grasp “Why?” he died like that. Maybe I never will.

H2O Man

Voter Turn-Out

“I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together.”
-- John Lennon; I am the Walrus

One of the things that I find interesting in elections -- from primaries to general elections, and from the local level to presidential contests -- is “voter turn-out.” And that includes both the in-the-flesh human beings I see in person or on a screen, as well as the statistics that result.

When I was young, I was pretty good at math. And I remember that my father tried to encourage me, by pointing out that President Lyndon Johnson was known for “counting numbers.” So, it’s something I began to do, on a local level. I write things down, and save various newspaper articles. So, in the fifty-plus years that I’ve been influenced by LBJ’s numbers, I’ve got pretty good at local village, town, and county elections.

But both state and national elections involve numbers that some people are fully aware of. Obviously, a computer can now provide information much faster than any previous technology allowed for. Yet there are still people that are able to carry that information in their head. And the presidential elections are, of course, comprised of fifty state elections.

Now, one of the things I believe is that a knowledge of, and appreciation for, both the human beings and the numbers are important. There are times, in my opinion, that even good public servants, as they reach certain levels of public office, begin to concentrate more on statistics, than in meeting with a wide range of people, representative of the population they serve.

A public official may interact with a large number of people in a given week. However, those people will include family, friends, staff, co-workers, other non-elected officials, business “leaders”, and a sampling of the people of their own socio-economic class, and perhaps one level lower.

Thus, from the state to federal levels, even the most sincere public servant has to make a big effort, in order to be in real contact with “the people.” And some of them do. Most don’t; they pay four others to say they do, but they don’t. For our state and federal capitals are “gated communities,” even if it’s made of invisible fencing. (Guess who pays for these “fences”? You do.)

Voting booths are becoming “gated,” too. While there is no problem with “voter fraud,” there is a problem with voter disenfranchisement in this country. At the state level, of course. And this has been going on, in an increasing manner, since the 2000 election. More, these voter-suppression efforts appear, at least to me, to be based more upon socio-economic issues, than party identification. It appears that the primary victims are black people, with youth also being denied their rights in an unjust manner.

We know that traditionally, in presidential elections, a larger turn-out favors the Democrats, and a smaller turn-out favors republicans. Yet we have seen “irregularities” in several states -- and numerous reports of clear voter suppression -- in the Democratic primary. (The biggest fuss in the republican primaries was back when Marco Rubio & friends told Ben Carson’s supporters that Gentle Ben had quit, and they should thus vote for Marco.)

That got me thinking …..there are five candidates left (if you round up, and count Ted Cruz as fully human). If Bernie Sanders is our nominee, we all benefit from a huge turn-out in the general election. In fact, that is the number one way that other Democrats running for office, at any level, can win. “A rising tide sinks republican boats.”

Does the same hold true for Hillary Clinton? That’s an interesting question. Definitely, against Ted Cruz, a large vote favors Clinton. Only a finite number of people throughout human history could be accurately described as willing to support Ted Cruz in any manner. (Always remember that George W. Bush considered Cruz to be “an arrogant asshole,” and George set the bar pretty darned high, himself.)

I think a large turn-out would benefit Hillary against Kasich. A low, or even “medium” turn-out could very well present potential problems that wouldn’t be an issue with the high turn-out. In the 50-state race, I think Kasich does best with the medium turn-out.

The wild card is, of course, the potential Hillary vs. Donald contest. In my opinion, Hillary Clinton does best against Trump, with a small turn-out. As that turn-out grows -- assuming that growth is relatively wide-spread, rather than limited to a few individual large states -- it would likely favor Trump.

What do you think?

H2O Man

Trial Update

“It seems to be so very hard to maintain detachment of mind in the midst of raging fire.”
-- Gandhi

On Monday, my cousin met with the District Attorney who will prosecute the person who shot him and his son. This included hearing about -- and seeing photographs documenting -- the extent of his son’s injuries. An off-duty law enforcement officer who was enraged by the young man’s obeying the speed limit shot both of my relatives. My cousin held his son in his arms as the young man died. Then, although seriously wounded from being shot, my cousin got up and wrote the murderer’s plate number in the dirt on their jeep’s back window, before collapsing.

On Tuesday, my cousin and I attended a pre-trial hearing regarding what evidence may or may not be allowed in. For example, when the police eventually went to the murderer’s house, to retrieve a large arsenal of weapons, the guy had a poster featuring a picture of a hand gun, with the words, “We Don’t Call 911.” The DA believes that shows the defendant’s general state of mind; the defense attorney calls it prejudicial.

The actual trial starts next Monday. Since it is a non-jury trial (at the murderer’s request), it should only take three days. It will be good to get the trial behind us. Of course, he will appeal his conviction, and the process will continue. There is never true closure.

It is very painful for my cousin to see autopsy pictures, or to sit in the same courtroom with this obscenely smug thug. He seems to consider the numerous officers with rifles, guarding him as he is brought to the court, and the many officers on duty inside the court, as his personal honor guard. This, despite the fact that they treat him exactly the same as they do any other accused murderer.

Yesterday, while I was away attending a medical appointment, another of my cousins came and prepared for a sweat lodge ceremony. He used 48 cobbles -- 36 of white quartz, and 12 of black flint. Although he is from the other side of my extended family, he knows my cousin and son who were shot. He’ll be attending the trial with us next week. He knew that I’d benefit from ceremony

Between now and Monday morning, I will be focused upon preparing for the trial. I’ll spend time with my cousin. I’ll talk with others about preparing victims’ impact statements. I’ll pick up my youngest daughter, as her professors are all very supportive of her missing class to attend the trial. And I will spend some time alone, out at my pond, with its large fire-pit, and the lodge nearby.

I’ll feed the fish and the birds, and begin gathering firewood for the next ceremony. There are already enough stones to do a couple sweats after the trial ends.

(Note: Next week, I’ll try my best to post daily updates, with links to local media sources, etc. I really appreciate all of the support that community members here have provided for my family and myself, throughout this ordeal.)

Primary Blues Changes

The primaries for each of the “major” political parties continue to reflect the rising tensions in American society. Let’s take a brief look at the republicans’ situation. Kasich is staying in, attempting to deny Donald Trump the needed delegates to win outright. The republican machine may try to keep the nomination from going to Trump. It’s rumored that they are preparing an emergency case for the US Supreme Court to purchase a favorable outcome.(Okay, I started the rumor.)

If he is in the lead, and the republican establishment actively seeks to nominate anyone else, that convention will go out of control. More, a segment of Trump’s supporters will react aggressively away from the convention. For this campaign has reinforced their sense of entitlement to speak and act aggressively.

In the Democratic Party, both the Bernie and the Hillary supports are increasingly confident that their candidate will be the party’s nominee. While the passions may tend to hinder most people’s views, it can be interesting to sit back from time to time, and to recognize what a historic primary season we are experiencing. Both sides should appreciate this, as a clear indicator of just how important it is to so many people.

Because people understand that the outcome of this year’s presidential election will decide what direction the US will try to move in. By the “US,” I include the government, corporations, and citizens. Obviously, “government” -- from local to federal -- has a relationship with corporations that poses a threat to our constitutional democracy. It’s urgent that we elect a president who at very least attempts to find balance between people and profits.

A combination of our personal experiences, and our individual perceptions of where we are today, and where we can be, equals why we support either Bernie or Hillary. This includes our opinions on what type of US Supreme Court Justices each might nominate, if elected president. It’s safe to say the court will likely consider cases involving everything from abortion, to the environment, to domestic spying, to the right to vote, and to our ability to exercise our Amendment 1 rights.

Those differences in experience and perception -- which directly influence our individual and community value systems -- can lead to the fracturing of political alliances. We can actually see this within various protozoan types, including amoebas, ciliates, flagellates, and the republican party.

Yet it need not happen, on a destructive path, within the Democratic Party. There are going to be shifts in the balance of power within the party, for sure. Right now, we know that our party could grow in “people strength” -- including registered voters and grass roots activists -- and “motivated citizens” are why elections are won and lost.

The combination of the republican and Democratic Party’s 2016 primaries have raised issues that rarely, if ever, were covered in the media. That has increased the intensity in the debates between candidates, and the discussions and arguments at the grass roots. And that is definitely going to impact the balance of powers in both parties. It’s a never-ending process in American politics. And, especially since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, it has been defined by the inequality between the 1% and the 99%. Our experiences, perceptions, and values tend to be remarkably distinct from the opulent “elite” folks.

A heck of a lot of “average” Americans, across this country, are currently more aware that the 1% elite have declared economic, social, and political warfare upon the masses. That doesn’t mean they all have a healthy grasp on things -- a lot of them are convinced that billionaire Donald Trump is their savior. That’s really sad, when you think about it.

I am 100% certain -- based upon my experiences, perceptions, and values -- that Bernie Sanders is the best hope for the future. I think he is our party’s best bet for November, by far. I think he would continue to value people over profits, as he has throughout his adult life. I think he would nominate individuals to the Supreme Court that would recognize that our Constitution is intended to provide for human beings, rather than corporations. And I am convinced that his presidency would motivate the younger generation to remain an active participant in the social-political life of their communities, states, and country -- much in the manner that President John F. Kennedy began to do in 1960.

H2O Man
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