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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
July 28, 2012

A Wolfe in Sweet Clothing

This is one of those essays that I could post in any number of forums on the Democratic Underground. It involves a “big name” in the sport of boxing; spirituality; economics; the media; and even sex and race. But I’ve decided to post it in General Discussion, because I’m hoping that as many friends and associates here will read and enjoy it.

I have a friend named Ann Wolfe …..and most people who know of her, probably know very little about the real her.

Some sports fans may remember seeing her May 8, 2004 bout against the much larger Vonda Ward. If you didn’t see it on live television, you’ve probably seen it on some highlight clip. Ann, standing 5’ 9”, and holding the junior middleweight and super middleweight titles in women’s boxing, challenged the undefeated, 6’ 6” light heavyweight champion, Vonda Ward.

Ward had played college basketball for four years in Tennessee, before taking up the Great Sport. She was widely recognized as one of the two best female fighters in the sport. None of her previous opponents had exposed any faults or weaknesses in her style -- she had solid offensive and defensive skills.

Very few people gave Ann Wolfe any chance in that fight. But I remember my son Darren saying that he had seen Wolfe fight before, and that she had something indefinable about her that made him think she had a very real chance. And after a minute into the first round, Ann landed what is known as the hardest single punch in women’s boxing. She scored a brutal knockout, that sent Ward to the hospital with a serious neck injury.

Soon after winning that third title, Ann would retire. She is now known as the trainer of junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland. His record is 31 - 1, with 27 KO victories. Ann’s intense mental and physical training methods place her slightly outside of the boxing mainstream, much as Cus D’Amato’s had.

The media has a field day with Ann: she’s a strong black woman on the outside of a sport that generates the highest paydays, although it has been marginalized by polite society. And the taped pre-fight interviews with her are always edited to highlight every cuss word she may utter. For polite society fears nothing more than a tough, angry black female who swears.

But that’s not the Ann Wolfe that I’m coming to know. What stands out first and foremost is her absolute love and devotion to her family. And her intelligence. She has her Ph.D. in the streets of hard knocks. Still, when I read a note from Ann yesterday, even I -- as grumpy an old pug as life has ever produced -- was surprised.

Ann was going to pick up a couple items in a store, after spending time in the gym. She was tired, and not particularly pleased to find herself at the end of the long, lone check-out isle. A young man at the counter was a few pennies short of what he needed to pay for his goods, and the cashier was being rude. No one in line offered to give this fellow a few cents, until Ann did. As it turned out, the guy had a wife and small children, and the family was down-on-its-luck broke. This father couldn’t afford to buy his two itty-bitty children the food they needed. Until he encountered Ann Wolfe.

What really stood out -- along with my friend’s big heart -- was her outrage that we live in a society where people are silent when they see a fellow human being in need. That, and the very real concern Ann felt for this family’s future.

My father used to tell me about his great aunt, when our extended family lived in Nutley, NJ. The family worked on the railroads. During the Great Depression, those human beings known as “hobos” would ride the rails, from city to city, town to town, looking for some work, some pay, and a good meal. The hobos used to mark the sidewalks or fences in front of a friendly house with an “X.” My family’s house had such an X.

Dad’s great aunt learned the hobos by name, for she knew they were real people, with real needs. My grandfather and his brothers were not pleased when she gave these hobos their best coats and clothes (while they were at work). Dad told me that she would explain to them that these hobos were actually Jesus in disguise.

I like that. And so I told my friend Ann Wolfe that the man she helped -- and that others ignored -- was Jesus. And I mean it. Not the stained-glass window Jesus, or some carpenter who lived some 2,000 years ago half-way around the globe. But the human Jesus that is homeless, or incarcerated, unfed and ill-clothed in a society of plenty.

My friends from polite society sometimes ask me how I could possibly like boxing? It’s the good people in the sport. And Ann Wolfe is a great example.

July 26, 2012

Waiting for the Sun

(Note: this is from mountmoses.wordpress.com -- my enviromental issues blog)

“All business between other nations and the Iroquois was brought to the council fire of Onondaga.”
-- James Smith; The History of Chenango County: 1784 - 1880; page 13.

Andrew Cuomo is the first Governor of New York State to refuse to meet with the Iroquois Council of Chiefs. Despite numerous attempts by the Council to meet with the current governor, Andrew Cuomo has simply ignored them, and has failed to even acknowledge the Six Nations exist.

Governor Cuomo’s father had a very different approach to -- and relationship with -- the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. This began in 1975, when Governor Hugh Carey appointed him as Secretary of State; continued when Mario was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1978; and remained a significant factor after he was elected Governor in 1982, and was re-elected in 1986 and 1990.

Even the most rigidly right-wing republican governors have had relationships with the Iroquois. The relationship between New York State and the Iroquois has, even in modern times, featured some very real tensions. In August and early September of 1971, for example, when NYS attempted to widen Interstate 88 south of Syracuse, where it passed through Onondaga Territory, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the NYS Police to “put down” the non-violent blockade of Iroquois blocking the proposed construction.

Literally as the police were preparing for a violent assault on the Onondaga and their supporters, Governor Rockefeller made an emergency call, redirecting the police to Attica State Prison. The very police officers who had hours before had their weapons trained upon the non-violent Iroquois would use these same guns to “resolve” the riot at Attica State Prison.

A quarter of a century later, Governor George Pataki would oversee a plan to have the State Police and National Guard conduct a military assault on Onondaga and several other Iroquois Territories. Days before the plan was to become operational, we learned about it by way of a “leak” from a state official with a conscience. Long story short: this allowed us to derail what would have been a violent and tragic chapter in New York State history.

The relationship between NYS and the Iroquois has been as damaged by purposeful distortions and outright lies in recent decades, as it has ever been. This has frequently been in regard to the “land claims” cases. State officials from both democratic and republican administrations in Albany play upon the ignorance of fears of the general public: these officials pretend that the Onondaga want to evict citizens from their homes and properties. In fact, the Onondaga have proposed no such thing; rather, they have suggested that the state clean up the many toxic industrial waste dumps that poison the environment, and cause disease and death in all living things.

I would suggest that it is no coincidence that Andrew Cuomo also refuses to meet with the grass roots pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking community. Likewise, Andrew’s purposeful misrepresentation of the grass roots positions is no accident: he continues to claim that the grass roots bases their position on “fears and emotions,” despite the massive scientific evidence of the irreversible damage fracking does to the environment.

Thus, I am going to present brief reviews of, and links to, a number of university studies that expose not only the truth about hydrofracking, but also the blatant dishonesty of Andrew Cuomo.

More, I would like to invite everyone to the opening day of this year’s New York State Fair, in Syracuse, NY, on August 23. Traditionally, the Governor leads the opening ceremony, and Andrew Cuomo is seeking to use this opportunity to build on the foundation of his planned 2016 presidential run. We need to engage in a rally there, to let Andrew Cuomo know that we will not allow our land to be hydrofracked, so that he can get gas industry contributions to finance his attempt to create the Dick Cheney-wing of the Democratic Party.

July 21, 2012


The horrible event in Aurora should allow all people of good will cause to reflect upon some of the dynamics of violence and social decay in the United States. A news report stated that this was the 27th such incident since Columbine. Some on television are speculating if this week’s assassin was “influenced” by that tragic high school event, as if the very nature of the mass murder is not connection enough.

Frequently, a tragic event results in communities pulling together, for the common good. When a photo of a seemingly detached, unconcerned President Bush contrasted with the very real images of sincere people, bringing forth their best efforts to assist others, we have a striking contrast between the very worst and very best in humanity.

In this instance, and others like it, that distinction is not always quite as clear. Certainly, the murderer can be identified as the bad guy. Even if the most sympathetic among us believes he probably suffers from a severe and persistent mental illness, his actions are without question those of a person who knows “right from wrong.” No matter what other factor may or may not be involved here, this young man intended to make a statement to society by murdering as many innocent human beings as he possibly could. And, make no mistake, he invested a lot of thought and preparation into killing as many people as he could.

A number of good people have said that it is likely the murderer suffers from a mental illness. Hopefully, we all agree that a “sane” person does not fantasize about murdering strangers in a movie theater, much less follow through on such a sick dream. But the fact that a person did exactly that does not mean that he or she (usually he) is mentally ill in any legal sense. More, it is important to keep in mind that, as a population, the mentally ill are far, far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, and to commit one. The news media sells the mistaken idea that the opposite is true, simply because that sells. And the media is a selling business.

Of the major SPMIs, only paranoid schizophrenia has a high correlation with violence. I saw that my good DU friend “cali” had made an OP that suggested the murderer might well be found to be a paranoid schizophrenic. I think that she may be right on the money: if he does have a SPMI, it is most likely this. Still, the vast majority of people suffering from this illness do not engage in mass murder, and the majority of mass murderers do not suffer from paranoid schizophrenia.

A university professor in criminology noted that the murderer may well prove to be a psychopath (or sociopath, if you favor that term). While very little is actually known about the “suspect,” I think the professor may be right on the money, too. And while all psychopaths are not mass murderers, a substantial number of mass murderers are psychopaths.

While again not all the details are known, there is enough evidence to indicate that this fellow intended to be in a gun-fight; that and the loaded gun in his car suggest he at very least considered the possibility of a confrontation with police, and perhaps escaping from the scene of the crime. The manner in which he left his apartment could be -- considering the reported hour of loud music -- his hope that police would come crashing through his door. Is this the planning of a paranoid schizophrenic? Or a psychopath? Or both?

The title of one OP on DU’s General Discussion claimed that, even if this person had sought mental health treatment, he could not have gotten it. This, of course, is not true. There are many, many holes in the social safety net. The public mental health services are under-funded, and employees’ case loads are far too high as a rule. Insurance companies and the medication industry are, in my opinion, criminal. But people who really seek treatment can generally find it, imperfect as it may well be.

Still, in part because of the stigma associated with mental illness, many people in real need are treatment-resistant. Many more are not compliant with recommended treatment. The sad cycle of SPMI often is enhanced by dual-diagnoses; the rates of MICA (mentally ill, substance abuse) are high among those under the age of 50. The actions of a reportedly young man with a very high level of intelligence who commits this type of heinous crime suggest a person who did not view himself as owning the problem -- it was society’s fault, and he was intent upon getting his revenge.

A media report on the initial response of the killer’s mother indicates that she was not surprised that her son committed an act of extreme violence. His only reported legal history was a minor traffic ticket. Thus, even if his parents believed he needed some type of treatment, he was a legal adult, and could not be forced into treatment. It may be that, in the past, there were periods where he was deemed a threat to himself and/or others, and actually had brief periods of treatment; if so, he apparently did not stick with it. It is not illegal to be mentally ill, and as horrible as this incident was, I do not think that locking people up because they may, at some future time, commit an act of violence, is the best alternative.

Gun laws are always debated after such crimes take place. Too often, the irrational on both sides of the issue hijack serious attempts to find common ground for balancing public safety and Amendment 2 rights. Again, while it may be tempting to lock people up for holding irrational opinions, it isn’t a long-term solution.

So what is the answer? I certainly do not know. Based upon my reading ofErich Fromm’s 1955 classic, “The Sane Society,” I would venture that a society that has this rate of mass murders is sick, indeed. And social theories seem insignificant when so many human beings are suffering. Each event like this increases people’s levels of anxiety, at least for a time. Perhaps the only sane response is that found in the actions of those good people who go out of their way to help those in need -- be it their families, neighbors, or even complete strangers. For there is a power in compassion in action.

July 20, 2012

Response from Gov. Cuomo's Office

July 20, 2012

Dear Mr. McElligott:

Thank you for inviting Governor Cuomo to meet with you to discuss your concerns about hydrofracking.

On behalf of the Governor, I regret to inform you that he is unable to accept your gracious invitation at this time. However, because a discussion with you is important to him, he would like to offer Robert Hallman, Deputy Secretary for Energy, to speak with you on his behalf. If you would like to speak with him, please feel free to contact his office at 518-473-5442 to discuss the necessary arrangements.

Thank you again for your thoughtful invitation. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 518-474-4727.

Warmest regards.


Nicholas Weatherbee

Director of Scheduling

Cc: Executive Chamber

July 6, 2012

".... the van to come"

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.
-- John Lennon; I am the Walrus

Yesterday, my children and I planned a visit to an area Barnes & Noble, followed by a mid-afternoon lunch. My daughters have a two-week job "house-sitting" for some family friends with three dogs; they drove here in the small car they have use of, and then we took off in my vehicle. On the way to pick up their brother who lives closest to us, we passed a library "book sale." This, of course, resulted in a slight delay.

Eventually, we met up with my younger son, in front of the book store. By the time we left for lunch, we had a total of 48 books, new and used. My sons focused exclusively on Irish history. My younger daughter, soon to enter 10th grade, bought college-level math books; she recently decided she wants to graduate a year early, and is focused on taking as many AP/college courses as possible in the next two years. My older daughter, who just graduated, bought some music bokks (she and a friend just formed a group), and a couple to help her prepare for her next summer job -- teaching a week-long course to college faculty.

I bought a large stack of used sociology and political science books, and two new ones: "The Cornel West Reader," by Cornel West, and "Freedom for the thought that we hate: A Biography of the First Amendment," by Anthony Lewis. Cornel West is, in my opinion, a very high-ranking member of the most important "Thinkers" of recent times. He understands the Power of Ideas, and has a unique ability to translate the complicated into a message that even I can understand. In my opinion, "America" would do well to appreciate that this man is not just a "black intellectual," but speaks to all people.

Anthony Lewis's 2007 book remains as important during a democratic administration as under the Cheney-Bush juanta. The reason "why?" was summed up with perfect accuracy in 1907, by future Supre Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes: "We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the (US Supreme Court) judges say it is." At a time when all three branches of the federal government are greater advocates of corporate rights than individual rights, responsible citizens must exercise their constitutional muscles. And that presupposes a knowledge of what exercises are most beneficial.

Not long ago, for example, an area television news station had two reporters interview me, over a period of three days. This was for a series of "human interest" stories; in this instance, to show how an understanding of the Native American 12,000+ years of experience in the northeast relates to the pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking movement. When, after the initial segment of the series played, there was some pressure exerted by a pro-hydrofracking energy executive to squash the remaining segments. And it worked.

In the months that followed, there has been other examples of this same energy executive pressuring other media outlets, thus preventing related anti-hydrofracking articles and interviews from reaching the public. While this is not a "classic" example of an Amendment 1 conflict -- it is corporate, rather than government control of the press -- it is part and parcel of the same general dynamics that has defined Amendment 1 tensions for over two centuries in the USA. Let me explain why I say that.

After the Flood of 2011, the heads of a large "defense" contractor was considering moving their industrial plant from New York's Southern Tier to a southern state. This industry employees a large number of people, and thus contributes to the state economy. In order to convince the corporate heads to keep their plant in the Southern Tier, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, set up a series of meetings involving himself, the corporate heads, and the energy executive who so actively works to control what the media -- television, radio, and newspapers -- reports on hydrofracking. Indeed, this individual contracted with the defense industry to supply a large amount of dirt-cheap "natural" gas for their operations.

This same governor, who had aleady offered to provide the defense industry with a mighty generous, multi-million dollar "grant" of tax-payers money to stay, is the Andrew Cuomo who is preparing to allow hydrofracking in our state. Not the whole state, to begin with, mind you, but in the Southern Tier. Call me a paranoid subscriber to conspiracy theries, but I believe that there is a conflict of interests here, involving corporations and government; and further, I think that one of the primary victims here is Amendment 1.

Last month, when Governor Cuomo okayed a "leak" to the media, indicating his plan to allow hydrofracking in the Southern Tier, I posted on DU an OP in which I discussed a plan to do a hunger-strike in Albany. Part of my plan for 2012 had been to arrange meetings with Robert Kennedy, Jr., NY State Senator Thomas Libous, and Governor Andrew Coumo, with some of the grass roots, ant-ihydrofracking community. In January, I did a hunger-strike that resulted in the meeting with Libous; and in April, we had a good meeting with Robert. Only Cuomo remains.

The governor did meet with some leaders from the "Working Peoples Party" recently. Among the many issues they discussed was hydrofracking. However, Andrew Cuomo cut it short, by saying that the anti-hydrofracking community was driven by "fear and emotion," but not facts. This is the same purposeful lie he has parroted in the media; when I requested that Robert tell his former brother-in-law to stop saying what he knew was a lie, Kennedy said that this is part of Cuomo's strategy for his planned 2014 presidential run.

Letters and phone calls to Cuomo's office go unanswered. Hence, my evaluating both the need for a Capital Hunger Strike, and my ability to do one. I'm not the physically strong and healthy person I once was. A series of medical tests that occupied much of my June revealed more damage and disease than I was consciously aware of .... and while I try to give this stuff room in my mind, I do know that another hunger strike will take a much larger toll on me than the one in January did.

My younger son -- who shares my appreciation of Cornel West -- urged me to at least attempt a few other tactics before doing a Capital Hunger Strike. One that I am finishing up is a "book" on grass roots organizing and political activism. I had thought of having it published, and sending copies to the various anti-hydrofracking groups in the northeast. But some associates convinced me that it would be far better to post it on the internet, to reach an even larger audience. It should be up in a week.

I'm going to include the material from the television station. Not because I am silly enough to think that I am important .... but the Ideas being communicated are ..... or else the energy executive would not have worked to prevent them being aired.

I'm also planning for a possible, even likely, hunger strike. The first one taught me a number of lessons on how to be more effective in preparation for such an event. I'd very much prefer that Governor Cuomo agree to meet with the same general group that traveled to Pace University's Environmental Law Clinic to meet with Robert. We have plenty of facts to present him with. But I do not think he will agree to such a meeting without some "creative tension" being applied.

Next week, I will be asking DUers to call, e-mail, and write to Governor Cuomo, requesting that he agree to such a meeting. Then, during the next few weeks, I will be posting similar requests. And I surely do appreciate those of you who take the time to help me with this effort.

H2O Man

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