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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
May 19, 2016

Philadelphia Freedom Summer

“For centuries kings, priests, feudal lords, industrial bosses, and parents have insisted that obedience is a virtue and that disobedience is a vice. In order to introduce another point of view, let us set against this position the following statement: human history began with an act of disobedience, and it is not unlikely that it will be terminated by an act of obedience. …
“The prophets, in their messianic concept, confirmed the idea that man had been right in disobeying; that he had not been corrupted by his ‘sin,’ but freed from the fetters of pre-human harmony. For the prophets, history is the place where man becomes human; during its unfolding he develops his powers of reason and of love until he creates a new harmony between himself, his fellow man, and nature.”
-- Erich Fromm; On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power; 1963.

The dissension within the Democratic Party in 2016 has created a divide of historic proportions. As the national convention approaches, both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns believe that they have proven that their candidate has earned the right to be the party’s nominee for this fall’s election. The hostility between the two campaigns has apparently created a level of emotion that prevents any possibility of finding common ground before the convention in late July.

Thus, it begs the question: will it be possible for the Democratic Party to hold together for the November election?

The historic example that some are eager to compare 2016 to is the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This has been especially true since the events in Nevada. Several of the establishment Democrats engaged in Chicken Little, knee-jerk response, lying about chairs being thrown, and claiming they feared for their safety. The corporate media, being firmly in the Clinton camp, has been all to eager to breathlessly report that the Sanders campaign is attempting to bring down the sky.

There are unconfirmed reports that suggest that other forces -- not from either campaign -- may be attempting to increase the sense of paranoia, by making threatening phone calls to an establishment party official. If true, I’m confident that the police will soon identify and hold that person responsible. Clearly, such behavior -- if it happened -- is unacceptable.

It is true that there are ingredients that could combine for a convention as ugly and brutal as Chicago. It would be a shame if that happens. While events from Chicago are an important chapter in our history, it is not because what happened in that city, or the results, were positive. Quite the opposite: it was a display of the authoritarian violence unleashed upon people who were simply exercising their constitutional rights.

Perhaps a better model for Philadelphia to follow would be the 1964 convention in Atlantic City. An important group of Democrats had created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, to challenge the gross violations of party rules by the establishment in their state. Now, there were very real tensions leading up to this. Earlier in the year, while the MFDP had been making its plans, James Forman, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had said, “If we can’t sit at the table, let’s knock the fucking legs off.” (See the PBS series, “Eyes on the Prize.”) And the MFDP was in close contact with Minister Malcolm X that summer.

This made the Democratic Party’s establishment mighty nervous. The establishment attempted to discourage the MFDP from coming to Atlantic City, despite the fact that they had every right to. In fact, were the party’s rules followed, they would have been seated and recognized as the legitimate representatives of their state. They had won, fair and square, while the state establishment had cheated to try to deny them their voice.

The MFDP said “No” to power. They were coming to the Democratic National Convention. They refused to accept the establishment’s outright lies, or their promises for a rosy, ill-defined future voice in the party. Instead, they demanded power. This scared both President Lyndon Johnson and VP Hubert Humphrey -- two politicians that Hillary Clinton compared herself to in the 2008 primaries.

When the establishment’s lies did not get the intended results, they resorted to the “old reliable” tactics of fear and guilt. The MFDP could be responsible for electing that mad man Barry Goldwater, if they showed up in Atlantic City. But the MFDP was beyond fear: they didn’t feel that stick. They came to Atlantic City by the bus loads. They exercised militant non-violence. They gained power. And they made progress.

Now, think about all the states that Bernie Sanders has won this year. Think about how many people have been dedicated activists in the Sanders revolution. Yet the establishment is paranoid that we plan on attending the convention in Philadelphia! They have attempted to make the same false promises -- also known as lies -- to us as their counterparts made to the MFDP. Since that hasn’t worked, they resorted to fear and guilt, talking about Donald Trump. That doesn’t cut it: if Hillary can’t beat Trump, then we are definitely correct that the establishment is wrong to select her as the nominee.

We are coming to Philadelphia. You have no reason to fear us. Let’s all conduct ourselves in a civilized manner.

May 17, 2016

The Sound of Silence

“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner.”
-- Minister Malcolm X

The chances of a reconciliation within the Democratic Party were greatly reduced by events in Nevada last week. The growing sense of entitlement on the part of the party’s establishment resulted in flagrant misconduct by officials Once again, the Clinton campaign displayed its Animal Farm belief that while all animals are equal, some are more equal than others.

Perhaps more disturbing has been the reaction of those supporting Hillary who recognize that if she is the nominee, Clinton will need substantial support from the progressive community. Without it, she would be at risk of losing. Clearly, the Democratic Party’s establishment’s undemocratic behaviors could result in a Trump presidency. Clinton’s other supporters, by pretending that corruption is somehow okay -- just part of the game -- would likewise be responsible if Donald Trump is elected.

As we approach the July convention in Philadelphia, several things are certain. Neither Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will have won enough delegates to win the nomination. Clinton does have a lead in both votes and delegates. However, the corrupt actions by the establishment in Nevada are not a one-time, isolated incident. Rather, they are part of a pattern.

Clinton’s supporters tend to either deny that her political machine engages in unethical behavior, or to simply view it how political contests are fought. The Clinton machine mocks the Sanders supporters for attempting to make their cheating an issue. Politics isn’t a pillow fight, of course, but as history shows, the manner a candidate campaigns always indicates the manner in which they will “serve,” if elected. Perhaps the most important example of this is found in Richard Nixon.

Clinton would face a tough fight with Trump. Bernie would thrash Donald. Yet the “super delegates” -- those animals who are more equal than all others -- are posed to support Clinton. Most had declared their support for Hillary before Bernie Sanders entered the primary contest. Even in states were Sanders won the primary -- including where he won literally every county in the state -- the “super delegates” still are supporting Clinton. Obviously, the establishment has an agenda that does not respect the will of the voters.

“There comes a time,” Martin Luther King, Jr., warned us, “when silence is betrayal.” That time has arrived for the Democratic Party. The open and aggressive betrayal of the rules of fairness in Nevada is unacceptable. As an active participant in the Sanders revolution, I do not expect the establishment to acknowledge their wrong-doing. For they have no respect for the will of the people. They have no conscience.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the “average” citizen who supports Hillary Clinton to speak up. This includes the need for them to address the issues of corruption with the Clinton machine, and to engage in a civil discourse with the Sanders’s supporters. The progressive community -- including members of the Democratic Party and the independents of the Democratic Left -- know that the Clinton machine is convinced that we have “no where else to go” if the general election pits Clinton versus Trump. For they demand a level of loyalty to the party that they do not share.

But the grass roots’ supporters of Hillary know better. Many of them have begun parroting the machine’s threat that if progressives don’t fall in line, they will be responsible for electing Trump. This includes the fiction that anything but a vote for Clinton equals a vote for Trump -- solid evidence that public education needs more focus on basic math. The truth is that the establishment is most responsible for opening the door to a possible Trump presidency.

The people at the grass roots level who support Hillary also have responsibility here. For they are classic enablers. And it is this, and this alone, that serves as the first stumbling block that prevents the supporters of the two Democratic candidates from engaging in any meaningful discourse today. If it continues to become more entrenched before the July convention, and the establishment picks Clinton for its nominee, there will be little chance of us finding common ground. But, if they act upon conscience, it keeps the door open for all of us to identify some common ground in Philadelphia …..including the possibility that from there, we could move together to higher ground.

May 15, 2016

Entering Philadelphia

“It is beneath human dignity to lose one’s individuality and become a mere cog in the machine. In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. It is slavery to be amenable to the majority no matter what its decisions are.”
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Last night, I hosted had an informal meeting of local leaders of grass roots political leaders from a three-county area of upstate New York. All of those attending were registered Democrats. Most are from communities in which Democrats are the minority among voters, with republicans being the majority, followed by independents.

While we met to discuss several upcoming elections, our primary focus was to try to find common ground, in preparation for a area Democratic Party meeting. At issue is, not surprisingly, people’s opinions about the presidential primary. We are in a region of the state where the majority of Democratic voters support Bernie Sanders. Virtually everyone at my house has been active in the Sanders revolution.

At a recent Democratic Party meeting, there was “lively” debate about our state’s primary, and its implications. Although the map of the state shows that Bernie won almost all of the upstate, Hillary won in terms of numbers. The majority of people in our region believes that there was some “hanky-panky” involved. (And this was before Nevada.) This is equally true among members of the Democratic Left -- many of whom have been attending Democratic Party meetings in our area. One fellow’s pronouncement -- “I like to participate when I get fucked” -- sums up the general feeling.

There are, of course, some Democrats who voted for Clinton. They do not deny that there are, at times, underhanded activities with elections. It’s as American as apple pie. They were convinced that both Trump and Cruz posed such a threat to this country, that people in our party need to speak in one voice in opposition to them. Indeed, they believe that Trump represents fascism, and Cruz theocracy, and that each one poses such a threat -- particularly in regard to the US Supreme Court -- that the Sanders revolution will need to unite with the Clinton campaign, for the common good.

There are also people, including one of my top advisers, who support Bernie, but think that by the time of the Democratic National Convention, we will need to support Hillary as the much lesser of two evils. From what I’ve seen -- from an admittedly small sample group -- those who feel this way tend to be over 50 years old.

Now, to me, anyone under the age of fifty is a “kid.” I’m not hip to all the names young folks use t identify themselves. But those who are approximately 34 to 49 seem less inclined to be willing to consider compromising at this time. And those 18 to 33 are even more intent on “Bernie or Bust.” However, age does not appear to be a factor in people’s desire to go to Philadelphia in July, for the convention; all of those planning to attend are part of the Sanders revolution, and want to engage in peaceful demonstrations, if Clinton gets the nod.

As often is the case, I agreed with everyone and no one, simultaneously. I fully support everyone’s right to decide for themselves what to do in July and November. As Gandhi often said, I believe in anarchy, so long as it is well-organized. I also disagree with those who tell others what to do.

We need to have trust in each other’s ability to weight the facts, and come to their own conclusions. There is plenty of time, between now and the convention, for each of us to evaluate who we will or will not vote for. And there’s enough time between July and November for people to re-evaluate, based upon current events. We need to have trust in that process.

Trust in the process does not equate with trusting the system. Our political system is corrupt. National politics is rotten to the core. But as a growing number of citizens recognize that the system has become a pile of compost, we can nurture new life that grows from that decay. We must have the patience of gardeners.

There is nothing “wrong” with Sanders’s supporters supporting Hillary Clinton if she is given the party’s nomination. A person can do that in good conscience. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with a person who decides that supporting Hillary would require them to butcher their conscience, and opting not to vote for her. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with not deciding either way at this time, and keeping all options open.

It is wrong to tell a person how they “must” cast their vote. It’s wrong to consider those who would vote for her as sell-outs. It’s wrong to tell someone that they must ignore their values and beliefs, and vote for a candidate they despise. Neither one of these options works, or brings about good in the long run.

I’ve said that, to say this: if you are concerned with the direction our nation is heading in, please come to Philadelphia. Come and voice your opinion. The first of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights speaks to citizens’ rights -- as groups or individual -- to speak their mind publicly.

We need to exercise that right. More, we need to understand that with rights, come responsibilities. No matter what your opinion of the two Democratic candidates may be, come to Philadelphia. It promises to be an important event in our nation’s history. And no one else can speak for you.

May 14, 2016


There are three types of “authority” in political leadership. Each of the three has had a major influence on American political life over the centuries. More, all three are playing a role in both parties’ primaries, and will continue to do so until the November election.

The three are: traditional authority, or “the way things have always been done,” the primary mode in pre-industrial states; bureaucratic authority, which tends to be found where there are large populations; and charismatic authority, which occurs when an individual is widely recognized as having unusual talents and personal appeal.

The Founding Fathers were certainly influenced by tradition. Their thoughts on the system of law reflects the British model that they were familiar with. Their concepts of the federal system of government was influenced by both ancient Greece, and by the Indian societies of the northeast. Their beliefs on individual freedoms also were influenced by the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy.

“Bureaucracy” simply means identifying the most efficient way to deal with large numbers of people. Everyone who has had the pleasure of going to a local Department of Motor Vehicles finds that if they have a “usual” problem, it gets handled relatively fast; while if it is an unusual issue, they may be in for a long wait until it’s resolved.

Thus, the United States government originally sought a balanced approach to issues involving the large, rural farming population, and the more populated cities. This was one of the issues behind the Civil War -- and obviously related to the central dispute, slavery. The government would become increasingly bureaucratic during the industrial revolution.

Charismatic authority generally is associated with when a leader of a marginalized group of people challenges the machine. It usually has the shortest shelf-life: once the machine kills that charismatic leader, his or her movement is decapitated. In the turbulent decade of the 1960s, for example, men such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King provided powerful examples of charismatic authority.

Now, let’s take a brief look at each of the three “top” candidates for the presidency: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. By using the sociological model of authority, each of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses come into sharper focus. As readers may know, I support Bernie Sanders; however, I believe that the following is an objective view of all three.

Donald Trump fit’s a loose definition of “traditional,” in the sense that he is a male, and our culture remains rather patriarchal in terms of the federal government. Being an aggressive male also has helped to propel his candidacy -- this was evident when he “alpha-dogged” Jeb Bush. He also has experience with the bureaucracy of the business world, including on the international stage. But his biggest strength comes from being charismatic to a significant portion of the republican/ tea party people.

His weaknesses are evident. Although he has attempted to be included as VP as far back as 1988, by writing his infamous “willing to serve” note to Bush the Elder. He has no experience in politics. This actually appeals to a segment of angry tea partiers, but is a very real weakness going into the general election.

Hillary Clinton seeks to end the tradition of the presidency being a men’s club. Indeed, until 2008, it was exclusively white male, upper economic status. Yet, in several traditional societies that practiced some form of democracy, the role of women was not as limited as it has been in the US. In traditional Iroquois society, for example, there was a balance of power between male and female: while men served as chiefs, each extended family was represented by a Clan Mother -- usually an elderly woman, who had the authority to remove a chief from that status. More, the decision to go engage in warfare was made exclusively by women. In many senses, Hillary Clinton has served in a role with a higher degree of authority than any woman before her.

Hillary’s greatest strength is found in her understanding of bureaucracy. While people tend to associate “bureaucracy” with the negative, it is a reality in any system that deals with a large number of people. Before becoming VP in 1960, for example, Lyndon Johnson was the most effective political leader of the twentieth century in Washington. Clinton has experience in two of the three branches of the federal government -- far more than anyone except a few vice presidents who, having previously served in one or both houses of Congress, went on to run for president.

Her weakest point is found in “charisma.” Like the vast majority of politicians, she is not an inspirational public speaker. While she obviously has wide support within the Democratic Party -- and, at very least, the respect of a segment of republicans -- she appears uncomfortable in delivering speeches, or participating in debates. This is not to suggest that she lacks a mastery of the facts being discussed. Rather, like Al Gore, she lacks charisma.

Bernie Sanders has an interesting public appeal that is partially rooted in tradition. The fact that the overwhelming number of young adults actively support him has confused his opposition. In large part, it is because of his being the wise grandfather or great uncle that these young people both respect and adore. More, he serves as in the role of the elder who warns his people that they are being led astray. Of the three candidates, he is definitely the most honest -- without any reputation for corruption or unethical behavior -- he has the trust of the young adults …..and that is something that money can’t buy.

His experience within the bowels of bureaucracy is substantial. He has served successfully as a mayor. He went on to serve in both the House of Representatives, and in the Senate. In each of these positions, Sanders has shown outstanding judgment -- think of the vote that enabled Bush and Cheney to attack Iraq without provocation -- and a passion for social justice.

Sanders is also charismatic. While his speaking style is unique, and not of the style one usually considers “charismatic,” the power of his message has moved him from having little national support, to being recognized as the candidate most capable of defeating Donald Trump in November. It is important to note that his opposition had believed that Sanders’s being a democratic socialist would kneecap his campaign. Indeed, it would have, in 1950. But in 2016, it has become a huge plus, largely due to his charisma.

If we were to judge the probable outcome based upon the dynamics of authority within our current system, Hillary Clinton’s bureaucratic experience would make her the favorite to win in November. However, 2016 has been an unusual year, and both the republican and Democratic primaries have each been well beyond strange. The bureaucratic powers-that-be -- known as the establishment -- was prepared to serve up another Bush versus Clinton election contest. But the public rejected that plan.

It appears, at this time, most likely that it will be Clinton versus Trump. That could be a more difficult contest than people might have assumed. Only one thing is certain: this evening, while doing some grocery shopping, I ran into one of my best friends, David, who said, “This is by far the strangest year in politics in my lifetime.” To be sure, he is correct. I suspect that it will continue to grow even stranger between now and November.

May 13, 2016


The number one emotion in American society today is fear. There isn’t only fear of the future: there is a level of fear of the present that is unhealthy. It goes way beyond the level of anxiety that has been hard-wired into human beings, as a result of the evolution of the human brain. For that type of anxiety was beneficial, both to individuals and the larger group. Instead, our society is experiencing a level of fear and anxiety that is counter-productive.

Let’s consider an example that illustrates the differences in fear. If you are wading, waist-deep, in Florida’s Everglades, a fear of alligators is healthy. If one has that same fear of alligators while in a sauna in New York City, it’s unhealthy. One is hard-wired to increase the chances of our survival. The other places living things at risk.

This un-natural type of fear is the worst enemy that an individual can have. It causes great suffering, while adding nothing positive. It is a sad feature of our society, and growing in prevalence. It is the root of the diseased thinking that is behind the vast majority of human being’s violence. And that is as true today, in the streets of America’s towns and cities, as it is around the globe.

Fear, obviously, keeps good people from doing the right things ….the very things that they know they should be doing …..and to do those things they shouldn’t be doing. Thus, fear leads to another emotion, guilt. And, by no coincidence, guilt, too, can be either a healthy or unhealthy emotion. Often, it seems, the wrong people are crippled by fear and guilt, while the worst people appear immune to either.

I used to serve on a local school board. The district superintendent, had he been playing the Robert Hare check list slot machine at a casino, would have come up golden every time. Instead, he was playing the school and community. Late several nights, another board member would call me, apologizing for not joining me when I confronted the superintendent on his unethical behaviors. “But he’s too smart for me to argue with,” this fellow would say. Yet, if you are right, you’re right; if you’re wrong; you’re wrong. Intelligence isn’t a factor. But this fellow -- a decent man -- was afraid to speak up.

Today, there is a growing number of people who are afraid -- they fear that they do not have enough money, to provide for their family. They fear that they no longer live in a safe neighborhood. They fear for their job, no matter how miserable they may be there. They fear what they see happening in this country, and abroad. They fear their future.

In many cases, they correctly believe that someone -- some unseen force -- is stealing what is rightfully their’s. Their home. Their job. Their safety within the community. But they are confused as to who, or what forces, they are falling prey to. Too often, they become convinced that it is the “others” -- be they anyone who looks like an immigrant from south of the border, or a refugee from the Middle East, or any other of a number of “others.”

Fear is being played in politics, as well. Certainly, it sells in the media, which reports far more about alligators in the sauna, than in the Everglades of Washington, DC. This is not new, of course. Many of us can remember the “civil defense drills” in school: either climb under your desk, or sit in the hall, in case the evil Soviet Union drops nuclear bombs on the building. Fear has been an organizing force in empires throughout history.

Perhaps the most insulting to the public’s intelligence was the Bush-Cheney “threat” chart, with its color-coded levels of fear and paranoia. Be afraid. Be very afraid. But, as President Bush told us, still go out, spend some money, and have a good time with your family and friends, while you are afraid.

Currently, both of the major political parties are using fear to benefit their candidates’ campaigns. While Donald Trump comes across as extremely confident, much of his appeal is to people who are afraid. In Trump, the see a projection of themselves -- for they would love to say the things that he is saying. They believe that Mexican rapists and Islamic terrorists pose the greatest threat to their lives -- even scarier than hat atheist Muslim Barack Obama, who is still intent upon stealing their guns, despite the fact that he has expanded gun-owners’ rights for seven years.

Now, let’s venture from that sauna to the swamp in DC. The Clinton campaign is now attempting to turn up the fear among the Sanders supporters. If the progressive community doesn’t jump in line -- like third-graders in a civil defense drill -- why, they will be bringing on the horrors of a Trump presidency. If they don’t support Hillary, then Trump will be stacking the US Supreme Court …..so once again, we see the combination of fear and guilt. It’s all the Sanders campaign’s fault. Everything is.

Bernie Sanders’s campaign s unique, as it is the only one that doesn’t appeal to fear. Rather, although Bernie is honest -- we are in a dangerous time -- he encourages people to step it up, and fight that Good Fight. He encourages the grass roots to take care of business. To act for themselves, now, rather than waiting on some hero to save them tomorrow.

We understand that this has been the message of the Enlightened Ones throughout human history. In different parts of the earth, at different times, these men and women have advocated that people take responsibility for their lives. To not fall victim to those inner fears that all people experience. Among the Buddha’s central messages was, “Do not be afraid.” In the gospel that has the greatest eastern influence --that of Saint Matthew -- Jesus repeatedly says, Do not be afraid” and “Do not worry.”

There are those who say that this goes against human nature. But they have but a shallow grasp of human nature. Again, throughout time, the Enlightened Ones teach much the same lessons: all people feel fear, but that can be overcome. Both the coward and the hero feel the exact same fear. But while the coward is consumed by his internal fear, the hero uses that fear as the fuel that propels him to victory. That is the flip side of the human nature coin.

Hence, we see the biggest difference between those who support Hillary, and those who support Bernie. It is evident that the Clinton camp is becoming increasingly hostile towards the Sanders’s camp. It is as if they believe we are trying to steal what is rightfully their’s. Or risking that Donald Trump will end up with it. But we are not: exactly the opposite, we are simply claiming what is rightfully our property -- our conscience, our beliefs, our future.

Is that too much to ask?

May 12, 2016


It is said that when the ancient philosopher Confucius was asked what he would do, if he was granted political authority, he responded, “Insist that people use words correctly.” While he may not have been speaking of the 2016 Democratic primary specifically, I am convinced he would have included the word “progressive” as one with a real meaning. That word continues to be misused today, when applied to the two Democratic candidates.

My father was a first-generation product of an Irish immigrant family. Most of the extended family worked on the railroads in the northeast. They were all union activists. Dad’s favorite aunt, Mary, was a charter member of the national Order of Telegraphers Union. Hence, my father passed down her definitions to me, as a family heirloom. These definitions apply accurately to the membership of the Democratic Party.

There are four basic sub-groups of Democrats. While the party has definitely shifted to the right since 1980, those definitions still hold. Going from right to left, there are: conservatives, moderates, liberals, and progressives. Obviously, not everyone fits neatly into the various groups. There can be differences, for example, in an individual’s beliefs on domestic and international affairs. Yet, the sum total of their beliefs tend to fit into one of the four groups.

The growth in the numbers of conservative Democrats accounts for the party’s shift to the right. The most obvious example of this was President Bill Clinton. His political beliefs were known as “Third Way,” as they combined both republican and Democratic values. Thus, the correct identification for this type of Democrat is “conservative,” or centrist. Still, some people misidentify President Clinton as a “liberal,” despite his record on important issues ranging from international trade deals to public assistance.

Perhaps the two most important groups in the context of the current primary are “liberal” and “progressive.” By definition, liberals seek to fine-tune the system by way of gradual change. Progressives, on the other hand, seek fundamental changes to the system. Senator Bernie Sanders is a perfect example of a progressive. We see this in his approach to the international trade deals, and in his health care proposals.

Hillary Clinton has stated during the campaign that she is a progressive. She was challenged on this during one of the debates, when a moderator played a recent film clip of her speaking to a conservative audience, where she took pride in identifying herself as a moderate. This attempt to be all things to all people is not something Clinton invented -- it is not a new political tactic. But it is much harder to pull off these days, with the internet.

The Clinton campaign likes to portray Sanders as a radical. Perhaps the concept of social justice is radical today. They like to call his supporters dangerous extremists. Certainly, the environmental crisis we face presents very real dangers, and it will require extreme dedication in order to deal successfully with it.

We live in an “extreme” period of time. It is not possible to confront and resolve the extreme problems we face with a moderate approach. There may have been many times when a moderate politician, or a conservative Democrat, would be the best choice for president. Or, at least the safest choice. But that is not true today. We need a true progressive in the White House, who has the moral authority to call forth progressives at the grass roots, in order to deal with the extreme damage that has been done to our country by the 1% since 1980.

Add to this that as we approach the Democratic National Convention, neither Hillary or Bernie has the number of delegates required to put them over the top. Thus, the “super delegates” will be selecting the candidate that gets the nomination. It is safe to say that 100% of these “super delegates” are establishmentarians. A few might be liberal, but the vast majority are moderate and conservative Democrats. None are progressives.

It is anticipated that, barring unforeseen circumstances, they will be loyal to the Clinton dynasty. This will not transform Hillary into a more attractive candidate with the progressive community; rather, it will serve to confirm the negative impression they have of her. And despite her campaign’s attempts to portray her as so gosh darned popular that her presidency is inevitable, a growing awareness among her top advisers points to the great difficulty she would encounter in the general election. “There’s no where else for them to go” isn’t a strategy -- it is an attempt to justify the vicious attacks that her people have unleashed at the Sanders revolution.

Some progressive Democrats would definitely vote for Hillary if she is given the nomination by the “super delegates.” And Clinton has the ability to convince others, between the convention and November, that she represents the lesser of two evils. It is certainly possible that she could win the general election. However, it is a shame that the Clinton campaign has no chance, at this time, of gaining enthusiastic progressive support, and has totally alienated the Democratic Left.

If Bernie gets the nomination, it is unlikely that the moderate and conservative Democrats would support Trump. Of course, they won’t be invested in campaigning for Sanders. But as long as they vote for him, Bernie will crush Donald Trump like a grape.

H2O Man

May 10, 2016

Chains vs Change

Two months ago, on a political discussion internet forum where the Democratic primary was being debated, I posted a brief bit that included two simple questions: First, if the general election contest came down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, who did people think the Bush family would support? And second, why?

It seemed to be valid questions to ask on my favorite internet discussion site, the Democratic Underground.

(See: http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511524583 )

The majority of those responding shared their thoughts, recognizing that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to questions on personal opinions. I will speculate that most of those who said the Bush family would support Hillary were likely Bernie supporters. Likewise, I am confident that all of those who responded by attacking me for merely posing the question are Clinton supporters.

These included those who called my question “an artful smear,” and “an obvious attempt to tarnish Hillary.” Minister Malcolm X said that when something he said made his opposition squeal, he knew he had raised an important point. I’ve kept this in mind, when I have similar responses from that group of people, including when I post the essays from this blog on that site. It is not that I am foolish enough to think that I am always right, or that every issue involves “right versus wrong.” Rather, I’m just expressing my opinion.

In the context of a potential Clinton versus Trump general election, it is relevant -- indeed, important -- that one takes into account what the establishment values in a candidate. More, while discussing the 1% of the American people, the “economic elite,” one must recognize that they do not self-identify as belonging to either of the two major political parties. The only “team” they belong to is the one-percent economic elite. It is delusional for “average” citizens to believe that those in the establishment, from either party, identify with them more than the elites from the opposing party.

Even before this election season, the close relationship between the Bush and Clinton families was well known. The fact that Bill and Hillary frequently vacation with Henry Kissinger, one of the last century’s most evil war criminals, illustrates the cozy relationships among the elites of “opposing” political parties. More, in recent weeks, not only have Bush the Elder, Bush the Village Idiot, and Jeb gone on the record as saying they will not support Donald Trump in the general election, but Laura “Pickles” Bush has stated that she favors Hillary. Even one of the infamous Koch brothers has endorsed Clinton.

Why is this important? In part, because it shows something that many of us already understood: the Clinton campaign is writing off the progressive community, and instead is courting the support of the republican establishment. Now, I think it is important to note that the candidate herself would like to have the support of progressives ….including those who are registered in the Democratic Party, as well as the independents of the Democratic Left. Indeed, in some instances, Hillary has incorrectly identified herself as a “progressive.” This, of course, contrasts to her descriptions of herself in front of conservative audiences.

Current reports in the media show that the Clinton campaign is now trying to romance the “Bush donor list” for funding for the fall election. It is safe to say their appeals for more corporate millions is not based upon her “progressive” bona fides.

Wall Street is not an avenue for progressive change. Its residents do not share the same agenda as the 99%. Its inhabitants are not political party loyalists. Quite the opposite: they have been engaged in a class warfare that seeks to exploit the American public, just the same as other parasites -- such as tapeworms -- seek to exploit their hosts. And they count upon the politically blind, deaf, and dumb to resent it when someone points out the truth to them.

Luckily, the Sanders revolution continues to tell the truth. And because it isn’t “all about Bernie,” the movement continues, no matter what the outcome of the Democratic National Convention, or the November election.

H2O Man

May 10, 2016


“White man celebrates something that happened 2,000 years ago. To him, nothing’s happened since then. It’s all over. All he can do is remember. Indian’s celebrate what’s happening now. When the sacred strawberries come up in early spring, that’s what we celebrate. They’re not just strawberries to us. They’re the Creator’s gift to his children. They’re good to eat, good to drink. But more than that, they have the Creator’s power in them.”
-- Chief Louis Farmer; Eel Clan; Onondaga Nation.

Every four years, the majority of republicans in their primary will speak of the United States as being a “Christian nation.” That leap year mythology -- that the Founding Fathers political beliefs were rooted in their church -- is clearly false: a reading of Jefferson’s writings, for example, knocks the legs out from under this attempted leap of faith before it can jump off the ground. Clearly, these men were intent upon a wall of separation between church and state.

There have been a number of Americans who have exercised their personal religious beliefs in a manner that advanced social justice in our country. The majority of these men and women were not career politicians. Not all of them were Christians. Indeed, not all of those advocating for social justice are religious.

Likewise, in today’s society, there are a number of honorable people who are committed to the Good Fight -- the struggle for social justice -- and this includes, but is clearly not limited to, some who are Christians. Yet, if we step outside the picture frame to get an objective view of America, based upon the message that the Pope delivered while touring our country last year, the United States is not in a position to claim an elite, moral high-ground.

The above quote from Chief Farmer helps to define one of the stumbling blocks that prevents our country from reaching that potential. It’s a cultural dynamic that is not limited to religion, though the overlapping results from this form of disconnect is expanded by the mindset that Chief Farmer identified. It’s found in the removal of Jesus from where he rightly belongs -- in the context of humanity -- and placing his image on a stained glass window. It is found in the wealthy using donations to a church as a convenient tax write-off. The stumbling block is found in mega-churches that worship opulence.

It is not a coincidence that Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign in rooted in the same spirit as found in the Pope’s message to America. The media tended to provide good coverage of the Pope. And they were pretty accurate in delivering his message. That same media, while it no longer completely ignores Bernie, continues to have largely negative coverage of Sanders’s message.

The result has been that “social media” has been the vehicle that propels the Sanders campaign. Those who are getting their “news” from a variety of sources, tend to have different opinions about the primary, than those who primarily get their “news” watching television. It’s good that the debates allowed the public to compare and contrast both candidates’ position. It’s good to listen to their campaign speeches. And to watch old clips on You Tube, and consider who has been consistent.

The republican primary provided a great deal of entertainment to human beings. But it apparently was a painful experience for the republican establishment. Still, it is an important chapter in political history, and it is something that we should both take seriously, and study closely.

Sometimes, the media can fool people into trusting their enemies, and despising their friends. For example, if one believes the media, then every person supporting Trump is a racist. Now, it may be true that every racist supports Trump. Even if by chance that was true, there are still plenty of people who support him for other reasons. These might be reasons that I disagree with. Still, I know that most people who hunt and fish are good environmentalists. Thus, I am comfortable in dealing with them on that common ground.

It’s good to look for common ground, and work from there. It beats the heck out of giving those who disagree with you a label that misrepresents and de-personalizes them ….and then trying to cooperate with them. Not surprisingly, this very thing happens within our party.

I suspect that most of the Clinton supporters to mistake our support of Bernie for a “cult of personality” are sincere. They experience that separation, that results in their being in “fan clubs” for politicians, athletes, and movie stars. So long as they are incapable of grasping that Sanders’s message is a very real social possibility, it remains impossible for them to understand why so many people are working harder for Senator Sanders than they ever have for any other politician. This does not make Clinton supporters bad people, unethical or immoral. It simply means that the Truth has not taken root in them. Thus, while they do not walk in the total darkness of, say, that now extinct species, Ted Cruz supporters, there is a heavy morning fog that prevents them from seeing the rising sun.

Those who inhabit that foggy bottom land tend to be on edge when confronted with “new” thinking. It’s easy to celebrate Martin Luther King’s holiday these days, while ignoring his social gospel. Just like it is more comfortable to edit the message of Philip and Daniel Berrigan from our collective social conscience, than to connect their messages on what the Vietnam War was doing to America’s soul, from the US involvement in the Middle East today.

Our society is facing extremely serious problems. Pretending that climate change isn’t a pressing issue -- indeed, the most intense threat that humanity faces -- won’t make it safer to continue living like we do. Forgetting that US forces are engaged in violence every day does not change the reality that they are. Lying to ourselves about how corruption has saturated our political system can only cause that corruption to become more entrenched, something that might seem impossible when one looks at Washington, DC today.

To the extent that we can work together with individuals and groups that think differently than ourselves, we will be successful in addressing these crises that confront us all. For we are not sitting on some imaginary fence (or great wall) that will provide safety and comfort for some, while damaging others. Things like earthquakes and cancer touch everyone’s lives.

At a time when every social group appears to be contracting, and becoming more emotionally out of touch with others, only one national group is actually growing. It’s what is known as the Sanders Revolution. It’s a non-violent revolution: we aren’t throwing bricks from rooftops, we are simply trying to discuss issues that normally aren’t talked about in campaigns. It’s not one group seeking to grab power over others: what we are advocating is social justice, which benefits everyone.

An Lamh Foisteanach Abu!
H2O Man

May 8, 2016


Question: "Jefferson and Franklin modeled the Articles of Confederation and later, the U.S. Constitution, on the Iroquois Confederacy. Ideas such as federalism, states’ rights, and individual freedoms were native concepts. What important lessons didn’t the U.S. learn?"

Chief Paul Waterman: "Democracy. Because democracy means being honest and telling the truth. They lie, then pass laws to enforce their lies."

-- November 5, 1997; Part Two of interview with Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman; AHSKWA.

I was lucky, in that I had two outstanding mentors when I was young: Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and Chief Paul Waterman of the Onondaga Nation. Often these days, I find myself thinking back to things that I discussed with both of these extraordinary human beings. Both Rubin and Paul had fascinating opinions of, and insight into, American politics.

The above quote comes from the second in a series of four interviews that I did with Paul, for the newsletter “AHSKWA” ( meaning “the bridge”). This was at a time when Chief Waterman and the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy were engaged in negotiations with both the state and federal government. I had the honor of serving as Paul’s top assistant for many years, primarily involved with burial protection and repatriation cases, along with other related environmental issues.

I remember three times when I told Paul that I trusted different elected representatives in various political offices. Twice, it turned out the gentleman was purposely lying to us; one time, the elected official had tried to assist us, but was “instructed” to stop doing so, if he wanted to keep his job. Each time, I apologized to Paul for having said that I had thought the person was honorable. Each time, he said, “That’s okay. You’ve only known him a short time. I’ve been dealing with him for 500 years now.”

That is not to imply that Paul didn’t trust anyone in the state or national government. He had a good working relationship with a number of politicians and bureaucrats. But, as he pointed out, more of the honest people were found in local government, with substantially fewer at the state level, and only a very few to be found in Washington. And the more important an issue -- which is often connected to how much money is involved -- the less likely even these were to be able to hold firmly to their principles. The US Supreme Court’s decision that placed George W. Bush into the Oval Office -- after Bush lost the 2000 presidential election to Al Gore -- documented the high levels of gross corruption in Washington, DC. …..and as former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi showed in his book on this theft, each of the five injustices that selected Bush had serious financial conflicts of interests that should have caused them to recuse themselves from the case.

I’m convinced that if the ancient philosopher Diogenes of Sinope walked the streets of DC in search of an honest politician in 2016, he would have declared that there was but one -- Senator Bernie Sanders. Initially, it sounds as if Bernie is speaking a different language than the others in the House and Senate. Consider, for example, how Sanders talks about the most pressing issues confronting the United States today: he speaks openly and honestly, unlike any of the other twenty-plus politicians who entered the primary contests. His analysis of the environmental crisis is unique: he identifies the problems, and makes it clear that we all must work together to reach solutions.

The other candidates have taken the opposite approach. Those who have taken large fees and “donations” from the energy corporations are, by definition, the worst liars. For as the prophet Jesus taught, you cannot serve two masters. Beware of those who shed tears over the children of Flint drinking contaminated water, at the same time they are pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from those who poison other waters by fracking for gas.

If you believe the corporate media, it would appear that the majority of Americans reject Bernie’s message. Individual journalists that would prefer to tell the truth are pressured in the exact same manner as those few politicians that have been tempted to have the courage of their convictions. Diogenes could search the “main stream” media for years without successfully finding an honest man or woman. He’d have to turn to the alternative media sources, to find someone like Abby Martin, willing to report openly and honestly.

The truth is that as Americans have become familiar with Bernie Sanders, they find that they agree with his analysis of our political, economic, and environmental crises. While some are mistakenly convinced that they would be “wasting” their vote by supporting an honest politician, many more are actively supporting him. This includes people who normally would not participate in elections, because of the corruption they see. Indeed, even those in government who want to be on the right side of history are endorsing Bernie Sanders.

The machine that currently holds the reins of power -- including corporations, politicians, and their media -- resort to doing what they do best: lying. They lie about who Bernie Sanders is, what he stands for, and how the Sanders Revolution will impact society.

Still, people recognize corruption for what it is. If you or I were to try to bribe a politician, we would face criminal prosecution. But, as Chief Waterman pointed out, those same politicians can pass a law -- or deliver a US Supreme Court decision -- that makes it “legal” for corporations to bribe a politician, by declaring it a campaign donation. Or, a speaking fee …..like the $23 million one former Secretary of State “earned” in speaking fees since 2012.

Gandhi said that, “When it is relevant, truth has to be uttered, however unpleasant it may be.” It is up to us to decide what is actually more unpleasant: the truth of the Sanders revolution, or the lies of the machine.

H2O Man

May 7, 2016

Boxing: Canelo vs Khan

May 7 (HBO PPV)

Las Vegas: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Amir Khan; 12 rounds; for Canelo’s WBC middleweight title.

When I first read that Khan was moving up two weight classes to challenge Alvarez, I immediately thought it would be a low-risk title defense for Canelo. Not only is the young Mexican warrior among the most talented fighters in the sport today, but Khan’s career has stalled since he lost the junior welterweight crown to Danny Garcia in 2014. Like Khan, Alvarez has generally fought significantly smaller opposition -- he frequently enters the ring at 180 pounds, twenty above the middleweight “limit.” Tonight, he will likely outweigh Khan by up to twenty-five pounds.

Twice in his career, Amir Khan has lost by devastating knockout. He has what is known as a “glass jaw” in boxing. It’s not that he has shown the tendency to quit; rather, his legs turn to rubber when he gets clipped on the chin. Khan did dig deep, to pull out a decision over the tough, hard-hitting Marcos Maidana in 2010; however, he has only had one significant win since that fight, when he won a lopsided decision over Devon Alexander in 2014.

Despite his failure to earn a fight against boxing’s elite champions, Amir has believed that both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were obligated to give him a shot at their titles. This, of course, would have provided him with his biggest pay day -- in fact, more money than he has earned thus far in his career. But those fights could not have made for a good pay check for either Floyd or Manny. It’s hard to convince the public that a guy who has been flattened twice by moderate opposition, and who had not earned a title shot, would give them their money’s worth in a pay per view fight.

Just as he had not earned a title fight in either the welterweight or junior middleweight divisions, he really hasn’t made a case in the middleweight division. Yet, from name recognition alone, he “earned” the shot at Canelo. The middleweight champion was looking for a tune-up, in anticipation of a potential showdown with Gennady Golovkin in the fall.

Should Canelo win tonight, a fight against “GGG” would be the biggest in the sport. Golovkin, who owns the other middleweight “titles,” is eager for the bout to be made. The boxing community wants the fight to happen. But Canelo has yet to commit to it. And that is a good thing, at this time, because he needs to be focused on Khan for now.

As good as Canelo is -- and he is a potentially great champion -- he has flaws that Khan is hoping to exploit. He is an efficient counter-puncher, who throws powerful, accurate punches. He is considered a hard puncher, although he has actually only had one intense knockout victory in recent years -- when he destroyed an over-matched James Kirkland last May. Still, he has enough punching power to hurt Khan with either hand ….and, if he hurts Khan, he definitely has the ability to end the fight early.

This, of course, raises the question: why did Amir Khan challenge Canelo? Is it for one last pay-day, the biggest he can earn now? Or does he really believe that he has a better than 50-50 chance of pulling off a huge upset? Let’s look at it in the context of Khan’s best -- perhaps only -- chance.

Some “experts” are saying that Khan will attempt to use the blueprint from Floyd Mayweather’s one-sided victory over Canelo. This disqualifies them from being taken seriously. The very last thing Amir Khan will try to do is copy Floyd’s absolute dominance of ring geography. Amir lacks those gifts that made Floyd unique -- his reflexes, his uncanny grasp of distance, and also his rock-solid jaw.

Rather, Khan is looking at two of Canelo’s decision wins over tall, rangy boxers -- Austin Trout in 2013, and Erislandy Lara in 2014. The Trout bout was close, with Canelo earning the nod by way of a knockdown; the Lara bout was a disputed split-decision. Both Trout and Lara showed that Canelo has difficulty with good boxers who have foot movement.

Canelo is by nature a counter-puncher. He depends on catching his opponent moving into his power. He is not a particularly “fast” fighter in the ring -- with the exception of his hand-speed. But, although he is extraordinarily difficult to hit with hard punches to the head -- he has perfected the Mexican art of the “head-roll” -- and because he has shown that he can take a hard punch those few times he has been clipped, Canelo is not a great offensive fighter. Against Trout and Lara, he lacked the foot-speed and mobility required to “cut the ring off” against moving targets.

Khan will attempt to pile up points by keeping his jab in Canelo’s face. It might not land cleanly to score points in otherwise slow rounds. Thus, Khan wants a boring fight, in which he wins seven rounds. And, in theory, he has that ability.

The two problems he’ll face are that he needs to be able to sting Canelo, and get his respect with the occasional punches he puts together behind the jab, and closely related, his ability to remain disciplined. Khan is not “mentally tough” in the manner of a Mayweather or Pacquiao. Unlike those two, Amir has rarely shown the ability to be relaxed in a fight.

In fact, Khan is one of the most emotional fighters I’ve seen at the top levels of boxing. Just as being relaxed conserves energy, being anxious burns up enormous amounts of energy. This includes being anxious to inflict pain on the opponent, as well as fear of being on the receiving end of that same pain. Those who have followed Khan’s career know that he wears his anxiety on his face in the ring: his eyes are widely opened, and he appears uncoordinated while taking exaggerated strides around the ring. This results in poor balance, which greatly reduces both punching power, and the ability to take a punch.

Unlike both Trout and Lara, Khan is limited in what he can throw while moving. Even when he displays self-control, the only meaningful punch he can throw while on the move is his jab. Make no mistake, he has a very good jab, and can double or triple it up. And the jab is hugely important, for everything should come off the jab -- regardless of if that jab lands cleanly or not.

But to land the cross or hook, Khan has to stop and plant his hind foot. And virtually every time he has been hurt in the ring, including some victories as well as his loses, it is the result of his opponent’s timing him when he plants that foot. (This is why Canelo will be looking at Khan from the shoulders down in the ring, rather than attempting to look at his face.)

It is possible that Khan will fight at a higher, more disciplined fight than he ever has before, and win a close decision. But I do not think he has the mental strength to do so. While both fighters have had problems with endurance in the late rounds, a tired Canelo can destroy a tired Khan. Whereas Khan needs to be perfect for twelve rounds to win, Canelo doesn’t. Being so much bigger should allow him to wear Khan down, even in the rounds Khan wins. I expect that Canelo will win the fight by TKO in the later rounds.

Enjoy the fight!

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