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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
April 7, 2020

Darkness & Light

Days and nights have begun to blend together as the social distancing and isolation bring news of sadness and horror. My daughter tells me about one of her best friends, who was in the middle of a break-up with a long-time boy friend. She was in the process of looking for another apartment in Boston when the corona virus appeared in the city, resulting in her having to postpone a move. The tensions and verbal abuse have increased, making this – at least temporarily – a case of accepting the unacceptable.

I live in a typical rural upstate New York township. There are two small villages, two hamlets, and a dozen crossroads neighborhoods, all of which arose during the 1800s, but have long since seen their heydays disappear into the past. At the edge of one of the hamlets, which peaked during the era of a river-powered mill in the mid-1800s, there was recently a violent outburst outside of one home. The residents there are a young lady who was about my nephews' age – I remember her attending their state championship basketball season – and her two teen-aged daughters.

The girls' father is a former military man who has had long periods of being MIA as a father. While I do not know all the circumstances, he recently physically assaulted his daughter, his newest girlfriend, and her daughter. This included choking one, compressing the throat of another, and threatening all three with a gun before the police arrived. Off to jail with him, as he clearly presents an immediate threat to others. However, a few days later, his mother bailed him out, and so he now is supposedly residing with her in another part of the township.

I generally try to process my thoughts about such things in one of two ways: thinking about them while engaged in otherwise mindless house work, or while taking a walk. Because my house was already relatively clean, with no dishes, laundry, or dusting needing to be done, I decided to go for a walk. My younger son, perhaps sensing my mind was troubled, suggested driving to a nearby field and looking for artifacts. Since there was zero chance of encountering another human being there, this was a safe option. Though the field is not plowed, it has been one of my favorite places to walk during the hard times of recent decades.

It's a large, isolated river flat, with two small streams running through it. The streams surround a small plateau before entering the river, with a swamp on its backside from the river. I've found four distinct settlement areas on the plateau over the years. My son favors a different spot, near where the river bends. A decades ago, he found the base of a fluted Clovis point there, and he is determined to find the rest of it. So for a while, we are further apart than the recommended social distancing by hundreds of yards.

I think back to times when I was subjected to threatening people. I remember one gym coach in particular, who had a strong dislike for me in grade school. One afternoon, when I got done with 5th grade wrestling practice, he found me alone when I left the locker room, and beat the hell out of me. I remember him saying, “Your hair reminds me of a cat, and I hate cats.” By chance, my older brother, a professional boxer, had come to pick me up that day, rather than my father. He asked me who assaulted me, then went into the school, finding the gym coach alone. When he came out, his hair was a bit messed up, but he wore a huge grin. “He'll never bother you again,” he said. Indeed, that cowardly prick pretended we were buddies from then on.

Eventually, I grew bigger than my brother, and no longer had any fear of physical confrontation. Yet, as I walked the field, I remembered how I had still allowed myself to be spoken to by some of the people who were supposed to be close to me. It took years before I would come to the realization that while I had zero control over how anyone spoke about me, I had total control over how I allowed people to speak to me. This resulted in tightening my circle of family and friends., even since the corona virus hit. Yet, I realized this is not always an option for others, such as children with fucking assholes for parents, teachers, etc,or for my daughter's friend in Boston at this tense time.

I found a small, re-chipped projectile point, dating in the neighborhood of 4,000 years old. I walked to where my son was to show him. He had found something much older – a fossilized bone of some type, that we will eventually be able to bring to a local university for a friend to identify. A short time later, we headed home.

I got on the internet with the intention of writing an essay on this general topic. But before I started, I got a message that a close friend of 40+ years had died from the corona virus. He was a retired teacher from a community college, a man who I had introduced to both Rubin and Paul over the years, and who had had me speak at the college frequently over the decades. He had started feeling sick one evening, and died within 48 hours. Those are the only details that I know.

I've tried calling another friend who taught there, who was best friends for over 50 years with our late friend. But apparently the number I have is for his former land line, and like so many people, he uses a cell phone these days. I remember his mailing address, so I'll send him a letter. I'd much rather visit him, or speak on the telephone, but that is not an option right now. So for the past 70 hours, I've been trying to process this in isolation.

It's a strange time to be an old man. I have a pretty good idea how the current crisis will impact my generation, which has experienced both its fair share of both good and bad times. These combine to form the general mindset found in my generation. I do wonder how these times will influence the mindsets of the younger generations. It's a bright, sunny day, allowing me the opportunity to think more about that as I take my dog for a walk in the wildeness.

H2O Man
April 3, 2020

Good Samaritans

I generally prefer Martin Luther King's birthday, rather than the anniversary of April 4, 1968 assassination. But April of 2020 is different than most, and so I find my self both reading and listening to his last speech. There were, of course, countless men and women, children and elders, who were the foundation of the Civil Rights movement. There were the famous and the unknown. They sacrificed, too many with their lives, in an effort to make America better.

Still, King is rightfully recognized as having played a unique role in American history. While serving as the most recognized leader of the Civil Rights movement, King participated in numerous “direct actions,” often being incarcerated. He authored books and articles, and gave numerous speeches that students of social action study to this day. Among those speeches, two are known best: the August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC, and the April 3, 1968 “I See the Promised Land” speech in Memphis.

For most people these days, each of these two speeches are most familiar from highlights that have played on the news, in documentaries, and can easily found on the internet. The “Dream” speech is noted for its optimism, the “Promised Land” for being his most apocalyptic. At the end of that speech, King spoke about his own death, in terms that are haunting in the context of his death the following day.

King had been under an intense level of consistent pressure for the last year. Since his April 4, 1967 sermon at the Riverside Church in New York City, King was attacked by many “liberals” and others in the Civil Rights movement. And many of his close associates were opposed to his planned “Poor People's Campaign,” to be held in Washington, DC, in the summer of 1968. A respected US Senator had been calling for the federal government incarcerate King, calling the proposed campaign to be a dire threat to national security. All of this was on top of the years of threats from the Ku Klux Klan, and the very model of self-righteousness, J. Edgar Hoover.

Fewer people remember or re-visit the entire “Promised Land” sermon these days, though I think it is an essential message for April 4, 2020. King started by talking about his close friend Ralph Abernathy. Next, he spoke in a way that today seems to mark his place in history Then he identified his focus, saying, “The issue is injustice.”

King quotes the prophet Amos: “ 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” He speaks about the need for unity of purpose as a requirement for bringing about social justice. As a central requirement for social progress, King then speaks about the story of the Good Samaritan. He wasn't the first social justice advocate in the US to make reference to this story from the Gospel of Luke – most notably, William Jay the son of USSC Chief Justice John Jay, has spoken of the clergy who ignored or approved of slavery as “following the example of the priest and Levite.”

But King went further. He knew that knowledge of the oppression of the Samaritans had faded over the centuries, making the meaning of this essential parable of Jesus's difficult to put in the then-current context. So he brought it to life. He started by telling how a man, sometimes referred to as a lawyer, attempted to trick Jesus with questions. King said this man may have been trying to show that he was smarter than Jesus. But Jesus responds with a question regarding the Great Commandment.

When the lawyer then questions him about this commandment, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, taking place in the setting of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. King tells of how he had told his wife that traveling that road on their visit to Israel made clear why Jesus selected this road. It was known as the “Way of Blood,” due to the numerous robberies, assaults, and murders that took place upon it.

We are all familiar with the story's basic outline. A man is injured along side of the road. A priest and then a Levite pass by, walking on te other side of the road to avoid the injured man. A third man came by, tending to the man's injuries, placed him upon his own animal for transportation, took him to an inn, paid for his stay, and promised to pay for any extra expenses when he came back. Jesus asked the lawyer which of the three men had followed the Great Commandment? The answer, of course, is the “enemy” of the injured man, the Good Samaritan.

For centuries, the most common answer to why the priest and Levite had passed by the injured man was out of the fear that attempting to help him would put them at risk. Indeed, high risk, considering the road they were on. But King went further, using some of the biting humor that was usually known only to his closest associates.

King said that maybe they were intent upon being on time for a meeting of the “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” He noted that they may have mistaken the injured man as part of a trap, and wondered, “If I stop and help this man, what will happen to me?” But, King said, the Samaritan reversed the question, and asked, “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” For that is the real question that society must answer in the most threatening of circumstances in the most dangerous of times.

I've noticed that, among my circles of family, friends, and associates, that there is an interesting dynamic. Everyone feels the weight of the anxiety and stress of this time. But none of the nurses an doctors that I know are complaining. None of them asks those requiring treatment if they are Democrats or republicans. Not one of them allows the question, “If I help them, what will happen to me?” No, they are motivated by the question, “If I do not help, what will happen to them?”

I know how much stress that having a family member on the front lines causes. I've been talking to one of my closest friends for the past 40+ years. Ted's daughter is on the front lines. I know he is mighty proud of her, but for Ted and Mary, it is a difficult time. I think about that every day, and am convinced that King woul say that they, and parents like them, have raised Good Samaritans in the truest sense.

H2O Man
April 1, 2020

Pseudacris crucifer

I'm lucky that I'm enjoying the “spring peepers” in the late evening -to- early nighttime in recent days. I also like to listen to the birds during the day-time. Twice I day, I get to see both deer and wild turkey on my lawn, making their rounds. The pond has come back to life, and there has been enough rain so that plants are turning green on the ground.

It was tempting, as I wrote that last line, to think of a joke about the president refer to the floor in the woods when he visited the site of a western fire after it had been put out. Now there is a human being who is one with nature, surely more so than Chief Joseph, who said, “The Earth and I are of one mind.” I recognize that for me, watching Trump is as bad as drinking a glass of water polluted with industrial waste.

There have been other crises that have threatened large portions of this country before. From among these, I've been thinking about “The Blizzard of 1949.” Probably some here are unfamiliar with that episode, so let me give a brief description. Four states in particular were hit the hardest: Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The first wave hit between January 2nd and lasted, at full blast, until the 5th. The ability to forecast the weather accurately had left this region unprepared for the high winds, bitter cold, and 30-foot snow drifts that followed. Towns and cities were virtually shut down, and in an isolation made worse by the inability to clear roads or railroads. Then a series of blizzards would continue for the next two months.

Stores ran out of groceries. Bars ran out of liquor. People on passenger trains were stuck. Plows were frequently not able to plow roads, and even when they could, the snow quickly drifted back in place. It was difficult-to-impossible for ranchers to feed their herds of cattle and sheep. Wild animals, with the lone exception of elk, suffered and died in large numbers.

This is obviously distinct from the current crisis in many ways. It wasn't a threat invisible to the eye, for example. But there were other differences that stand out, at least in my opinion. Every community, from the smallest town to the largest city, had active crises-response plans, that coordinated with state and federal agencies remarkably well. For people did not have a “it can't happen here” attitude. On the local level, the passengers on the trapped trains were welcome to stay in local homes, since hotels were full of the stranded.

President Truman called upon the military to assist in everything from delivering food and fuel, to clearing roads and railroad tracks when possible, to assisting in the feeding of domestic and wild animals. This included delivering supplies to Native American families, many of whom lived in canvas tents, rather than buffalo skin teepees. As horrible as those months were, there was a community spirit that included coordination with all levels of government.

It's getting later, as it always is, and the peepers have become quiet. Sam and I head inside. I begin taking phone calls from family and friends, all of whom need to vent anxieties and frustrations. All of those who have watched Trump's daily press conference express outrage at Trump's most recent tedious babbling. I listen to their stories about themselves and others at different degrees of separation who are struggling, including examples of people losing their temper over otherwise trivial things, and even one example of an assault that landed an area man in county jail. As harsh as it may sound, it is exactly where he needs to be right now.

John Donne was correct in that no man is an island, although we all wish we could deliver Trump to a solitary one far from civilization. Yet we are becoming a cluster of homes that are islands throughout the nation. We are all taking conscious steps to avoid contact with the corona virus. We need to take conscious steps to avoid contamination from other social toxins, including all of the negatives that are accurately associated with Trump and his ilk. Do not drink from that cup.

I'll end with a quote from the last interview I did with Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman:

“Live. Don't be afraid to live. We can live through this time.

“I did reburials at the Penn Site.Germ warfare killed them. At the Bloody Hill Site, it was small pox. Some of the burials were of parents and their children. They were holding hands. This seems to happen when germ warfare kills families.

“But we are here today. It's our turn to live now. And if you're reading this, it's your turn as well. Make the most of it. Enjoy your family.”

March 27, 2020

We, Ourselves

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be John Lennon.” – Carl; The Breakfast Club

In conversations with a variety of family and friends, I've noticed an increase of stress resulting directly from the synergy of a national health crisis and an idiot pretending to be president. There are several politicians, such as Andrew Cuomo, who are certainly stepping up to provide leadership. Still, a growing number of people appear to be experiencing some of the early signs of prolonged stress.

Now, there is no such thing as a “stress-free” life. Indeed, in small amounts, stress is one of the emotional engines that has helped insure the survival of our species in tough times. It can help humans avoid dangerous situations. But in extended periods, with no identifiable end in sight, it generally leads to fear, frustration, exhaustion, anger, and eventually feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. This, of course, is not helpful for the promotion of clear thinking.

Allow me to provide a personal example. In 2003, I had extensive surgery to repair my lower spine after a violent auto-wreck. This wreck was due to a gentleman texting while driving, darned him! My life had been changed, through no fault of my own. I was facing what would be more than two years of physical therapy to be able to safely walk, something I had very little patience for.

In such circumstances, I knew it was common for people to try to exercise control over little things around them. Yet I didn't see this in my own (mis-)behavior until one evening, when to my horror I found that someone had put silverware into a drawer in a sloppy fashion. I was furious, and began whining about the how thoughtless this crime against humanity was. My four children, who were doing school homework at the table, listened to me while attempting to hide the grins growing on their faces. Finally, my oldest son said, “um, Dad, you seem really tired. Why don't you lay down and take a nap, and we'll talk about the silverware drawer when you're feeling better.” His siblings all agreed that was the best option, nodding their heads and smiling at me.

I remember laying down, wondering if my children were conspiring against me, or if there might be something else going on? I knew that if any of my siblings had said anything like that to my father when he was furious – which was his most common mood at home – my oldest brother or I would have taken a beating. He and I took the most severe ass-kickings when one of our two sisters anger the paternal unit. That made me laugh for the first time in too long, realizing my children felt safe in telling me to take a nap!

Now, what were called “dysfunctional families” when I was employed in social work in the 1980s provide perhaps the best example of a system where people feel the impact of prolonged stress. Now, to be clear, a family system can experience relatively brief episodes of dysfunction, rooted in events such as serious illness and/or death in the family (including extended family), the loss of a job, and a host of other things that by no coincidence are similar to what individuals and families are experiencing today.

But for now, let's focus on what is the most easily identified toxin to infect a family system: an angry father, often intoxicated, who presents within that system as an angry, threatening, lying, unpredictable head of household. You might even think of him as a Donald Trump of sorts. This isn't to suggest that dysfunction cannot result from a Mommy Dearest. But since Ivanka isn't president, let's focus on Dad.

In our model, we must recognize that Dad is a product of both biology and environment, just as green is a result of yellow and blue. He, too, was raised in a dysfunctional family. He learned to get his needs met by behaving in ways that fit snugly into his family system, but do not translate well into the larger society. In cases that cause discomfort for that individual – or for others – in the larger society, these ingrained behaviors, rooted in the individual's adult attempts to get their needs met, are often known as “personality disorders.” We have likely all encountered people, in school, college, the workplace, or even while shopping, who behave in a manner that causes us to question what went horribly wrong in their childhood that resulted in such unattractive behaviors.

Yet growing up in a dysfunctional family does not equal getting a life sentence of dysfunction. We know, from the popular model of the 1980s, which was illustrated on the big screen in the 1985 John Hughes film “The Breakfast Club,” not only the different roles that most children are forced to take in a dysfunctional family, but the potential good that can result from the self-awareness those young people found together in the movie. One can learn the positive options life holds for those who can identify as having been forced into the roles of family hero, lost child, scapegoat, or mascot while growing up. As Rubin used to tell me, we are all born into the exact circumstances we must overcome in life.

It is easy for people who are now forced to inhabit a small space to get on each other's nerves. It is natural for that to happen. Family dynamics are always curious things. They can mimic the roles in what on the surface was a popular teen movie. But just as those characters, after initially experiencing tension, can reject the pathology of the principal, their parents, and the institutions of society, and become happier and well-adjusted. And that's an option for us today, even if it doesn't seem visible to us as individuals at this moment. It is up to us. We, ourselves.

H2O Man
March 26, 2020

Easter Rising

“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be over-past.” – Isaiah 26:20

One of the things that I've found in my years of studying to be a hermit is that I find time to read everything from ancient texts to the Democratic Underground. Still, I recognize that this is a harsh time for some, and that there is anxiety and stress for many others. In the past thirty-six hours, I have spoken with several family members who are experiencing such difficulties. Several are having very hard times. I will try to summarize a few of the things that we have discussed for coping in times like these.

I do enjoy reading the writings attributed to Isaiah. I do not think his message is limited to the 8th century bc.”remember the former things of old” (46 ) and “look unto the rock whence you are hewn” (51:4) seem appropriate to me today, at this moment in the eternal Now. My 90 year old aunt and 92 year old uncle tell me about how the family survived hard times not limited to the Great Depression and WW2. I'm lucky that I can talk to them, and remember the stories that those who went before handed down about surviving hard times.

Not everyone has that type of thing available to them. But I can say that, without any question, generations of your family tree survived similar hardships. The proof is in the pudding – you wouldn't be reading this if your ancestors did not survive. You have their DNA, and their blood flows through your veins. So yes, there are times when things seem overwhelming. There are times when you might feel helpless and hopeless. That's natural, and you are not alone.

Another of the things that helps me in hard times is knowing, based upon being part of an extended Irish-American family my entire life, is that nothing brightens a gloomy day like dark humor. For a mild example, today I reminded my daughter about the famous Years' quote: “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” Drinking green beer on St. Patrick's Day doesn't make one truly Irish. One must feel the suffering that inspired Yeats to deliver that line.

Today I read one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered on this forum. It was on DU:GD, in an OP by friend hatrack, regarding the “Branch Covidians.” How perfect a way to sum up the ignorance of 33% of American voters. We must make that stick, and we can all play a role. Try to think of the sickest jokes possible. Here goes my attempt: Donald Koresh, the president of the Branch Covidians, has predicted the current crisis will end on Easter Sunday. Trump plans to hold a religious revival rally on Good Friday in anticipation, promising to serve chloroquine-flavored kool-aid to his flock.

The next thing I recommend is not only coming on DU for community, but to use this time to become acquainted with some of today's social movements that focus on the positive. There are two that I really like that I'll add links to. The first is Rev. William Barber's Poor People's Campaign, the second is Bend the Arc. Both are definitely worthy of consideration. I'm hoping that others will add more to the list.



Finally, I recommend turning off the television, and getting off the internet, for a period of time each day. Listen to your favorite music, for good music helps calm the mind. I like the Beatles (and post-Beatles) and listen to them daily. But in the past week, I have found the music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh particularly good to listen to. In fact, I'll add a link to one of my favorite Tosh songs.

I hope that you are all safe.
H2O Man

March 23, 2020


“If I could persuade myself that I should find him in a Himalayan cave I would proceed there immediately. But I know I cannot find him apart from humanity. I claim to know my millions. All hours of the day I am with them. They are first and last. Because I recognize no God except that God that is to be found in the hearts of the dumb millions.” – Gandhi

The Trump corona virus crisis has taken attention away from virtually every other issue – as it should. It has resulted in shut-downs in many places. Sports have been indefinitely postponed. Trump babbles about being a “war president,” but few Americans are thinking about how many military people are assigned to hostile foreign lands, other than their families. Even political discussions tend to be in the context to the government's response to the rapidly spreading virus.

My three younger children are all employed in human services. There is a discomfort for them in “working from home.” It's not that they do not have comfortable spaces to inhabit. It is because they are aware of the impact of the current situation on those existing on the margins of society. As my son asks, “Where are homeless people supposed to go during the shut-down ?”

The Hunkpapa Lakota chief Sitting Bull said that if a man loses loses anything and goes back and searches for it, he will find it. Yesterday, I was thinking about where society lost the interest in answering my son's question. I remember hearing far more about such issues in the past, but they seem to have gone out of style. Could I find out when?

I started by watching a film of the 1980 debate between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Surely this illustrated the stark differences between a good man with a social conscience, and an amoral man acting out the role of a leader. It was easy to recall my thoughts while watching it 40 years ago. I knew then that dark clouds were gathering on the horizon.

Then I watched the first 1984 debate between Reagan and former VP Walter Mondale. Again, I could easily remember what I was thinking when I was viewing it live. Mondale was a good man, fully capable of serving our nation as president. As bad a human specimen as Reagan absolutely was, it was sad to see any person's mental abilities so reduced that they had that level of difficulty in communicating. No wonder it would be so easy for VP Bush and Oliver North to convince the faded Gipper to endorse the Iran-Contra operations.

Soon, it was 4:30, and I tuned in to watch the equally feeble-minded Donald Trump give a press conference. It would surely serve as a substitute rally for Donald. I listened to him as he delivered a series of statistics that soon became trapped in a cycle of repetition. To paraphrase Lennon, words were flowing out like acid rain into a burning cup. This mere shell of a human lacks the capacity to be helpful in this time.

My older son came in and asked what I was watching? Before I could answer, he said, “Oh, fuck this asshole!” as he grabbed the remote. He turned to another program, that featured two members of the House of Representatives speaking about the corona virus. We watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then Ilhan Omar speak about what they were trying to do to help not only the middle class, but also the poor. They focused most of their attention on the issues confronting those on the margins of society. They were answering my younger son's question.

I found what I was looking for.

March 22, 2020

Isn't It A Pity

I'm not confident that what I have to say here today will be well received, but I think it is important. It is possible that one person might actually read the OP in its entirety, and think it raises a point which is potentially valid, and thus worthy of consideration. And quite a few of us are presented with time to ponder current events, and put them in a longer-term perspective.

This is something that I have been saying to friends, associates, and even people I don't much know on the internet. Events today suggest – at least to me – that the time to argue about the primaries have passed. In fact, they are long gone. This, however, does not translate into our having to agree on which of the two remaining candidates is better or worse. We are all entitled to our own opinions, and that is a good thing.

It does mean that we should all recognize what is unfolding since South Carolina. And that translates into avoiding insults directed at either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, and equally important, to avoid attacking either one's supporters – no matter how fun it may appear on the surface. Even when we hear or read someone saying stupid things. In fact, especially when we are confronted with such nonsense.

Both of them have strengths and flaws, both as politicians and human beings. Both are running because they truly believe it is the right thing to do. Joe is not running because he is a “corporate Democrat.” Bernie is not running because Putin wants him too. There are, of course, numerous examples of more ignorant, hateful, and histrionic things being said about who has to be picked for VP, who has to drop out immediately, and other such shit. Make a conscious effort to avoid stepping into such shit.

We are all entitled to our opinions, and subject to our biases, but absolutely no one here will have any say in what either Joe or Bernie does. We all think we are right, and if others would simply do exactly what we think they should, everything would be much better. That is human nature, despite the fact that it never has, is not now, and never will be the case. The prime example, as horrible a case as it is, would be Donald Trump's belief that he should dictate every thing to every one, even today as he is being exposed as not only having any self-control, but as being utterly out-of-control.

Now, let's consider for a moment what Trump's reaction will be, if the Democratic Party unites. Are there any indicators that we might identify? Here are two that I think are important. First, he has begun to self-identify as a “war president.” Thus, in some of his public utterances, we note he wants the public to view him in this same light. By itself, this could be taken for just more of his foolishness.

Thing two: Jared Kushner is running his own private “task force” regarding the corona virus crisis. It is composed of government officials and “business leaders.” What could possibly go wrong, you ask? The synergy of these two hints that this administration is moving rapidly to “Continuity of Government” plans. Let's look closer.

Many governments have (or had) continuity plans for times of national crisis. Generally, in these cases, the anticipated “crisis” would be war. This country has long had COG plans. They were upgraded during the Cold War, when Ike was president. They would be upgraded again in the Reagan years – by VP Bush and Ollie North.

The only time that COG plans were actually used was when Cheney determined they were needed on 9/11, The Cheney-Bush administration never informed the public of this. However, newspaper reports in March of 2002, and Senator Robert Byrd's 2004 book “Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant President” (Norton; page 79) document this.

Since Bush and North's contributions to preserving democracy in the United States – if ot around the world – the COG is instituted by a “war president.” It puts only one branch of the federal government in full control, meaning an executive sans legislative or judicial branches. More, it elevates select corporate heads to “serve” as part of the executive branch, in ways that would be Trump's dampest of dreams.

It also allows for detention without any hearing or trial of those the executive branch believes to pose a potential threat. Indeed, what is fascinating to me – and proof that people can change – in 1968, Senator Byrd had argued on the Senate floor that Martin Luther King's proposed Poor People's Campaign” posed such a threat as to represent a national crisis. He demanded that the Johnson administration lock King up, beyond judicial reach.

Of course, one might think that such a plan was far fetched in today's context …..at least until they read about AG Barr's recent outreach to some congressional leaders. See:


This could also lead – if Democrats and others unite – to the Trump administration attempting to postpone the November elections, We do not know how long the corona crisis will last. Trump says that it won't take long, experts say it could last up to 18 months. Who do you believe?

Polling places tend to be crowded, which isn't good for containing a virus. But perhaps we should begin to focus on the possible remedies, to be prepared for the time when the Democratic Convention is scheduled for. I do not know if having mail-in ballots is the answer, or at least part of it. But I do know it will take greater minds than my own, and that these types of issues are more important than much of what people are discussing today about the primary contest.

H2O Man
March 19, 2020

From the Ground Up

This is a tough time for everyone. It is a difficult time to even attempt to view current events in an objective manner. Lately I have been thinking about things I learned from my teachers, and how they apply to today. Please allow me the opportunity to share a couple of them, before addressing “politics.”

Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman and I discussed people's reactions and responses to crises. He spoke of the Creator, which non-Iroquois might call “God” or related names, and still others might identify as the creative forces that sustain life in all of its forms on Earth. Paul taught that in times of crisis, we should look to – and for – the Creator ….and that this powerful force is found specifically in sharing with, and caring for, others. I think that is an important concept for each of us to keep in mind.

Rubin Carter was an atheist who loved studying various religions, viewing them in the context of a road map for the conscious evolution of humankind. He often told audiences that one of the most powerful truths that he came to understand is that planet earth is not simply a rock spinning in space, but a living entity. A life force. As such, he told me, all of organic life on Earth – including humanity – exists for the Earth's purposes. That as individuals and a collective, we represent the Earth's consciousness.

I think these two concepts find synergy when combined. Rubin is correct in that human consciousness can only evolve consciously. It cannot evolve unconsciously. And that is a very difficult process when the circumstances we are confronting today spark the very normal unconscious reactions that were necessary for human evolution from our past ancestors, well before they moved out of Africa. Yet, as Paul taught, if we consciously care for, and share with others, we experience the creative life force.

Obviously, in the current circumstances, we have to take precautions. Social distancing is essential. Still, by way of telephone and internet, we can maintain wide systems of support. Indeed, these are essential life support systems. More, we can do our best to be sure that others in our circles, and our communities, have food and shelter. And we can join in efforts in cities and states to prevent human beings from being evicted from their homes due to the financial squeeze. These are just a few examples, ones that each of my children are involved in.

This is a “ground up” way of dealing with this crisis. And, by no coincidence, more people are becoming increasingly aware that the “ground up” in terms of workers is how our society runs. That includes everyone from the factories that produce toilet paper, to the people who stock the shelves in the grocery store, and hundreds of other examples. We are, at the same time, confronted with the stark differences between capable leaders, such as Andrew Cuomo, and corrupt, worthless “leaders” like Trump. And this brings me to the topic of politics.

A number of us are rightfully concerned about two recent events: Trump's speaking of himself as a “war president,” and reports that Jared Kushner is making emergency plans per the economic crisis. These, too, must be viewed in the context of the synergy they create when combined. I will start by saying that the synergy of Trump and Kushner is the very opposite of conscious evolution.

While there had long been general plans for continuity of government in times of national crises, in modern times this jelled under President Eisenhower. They took a turn for the worse under Reagan, when he tasked VP Bush and Oliver North with up-dating the national plans. And, as we know, this “continuity of operations” – which recognizes only one branch of the federal government, specific corporations, and not the Constitution – was made operational only once is our nation's history. This was done by VP Cheney, not President Bush, on 9/11.

It's interesting that this wasn't publicly announced by te Bush administration. It leaked to a few newspapers in March of 2002, and addressed by Senator Robert Byrd in his 2004 book, “Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency.” And Byrd might serve as an example of some conscious evolution: the once rabidly racist man had, back in 1968, stood on the Senate floor and called for the detention of Martin Luther King, Jr., to prevent a potential national crisis if King's Poor People's Campaign went forward. Thirty-six years later, he understood things (such as the Constitution) on a much higher level.

Now, let's put on our thinking caps – and not tin foil – and think: the continuity of government in a time of crisis involves suspending the normal rules, putting the executive branch in exclusive control, and allowing it to coordinate with corporate leaders to keep America safe in times of “war” crises. What could possibly go wrong with Donald and Jared's apparent focus on these things, rather than investing their incompetent abilities to focus on the health care of millions of citizens? A question: what are the odds, in your opinion, that they might consider an option for “delaying” the November elections, for but one example?

Strange days have found us. We cannot afford to add to the negative forces. We shouldn't add to the mindless arguing about things including primary candidates, or insulting others on the internet. (It is okay to make fun of Trump et al, of course, as laughter is essential.) It is time to take care of ourselves and our circles of family and friends, and our communities. From the ground up.

Enough of my ranting.
H2O Man

March 17, 2020


“We are faced with evil. I feel rather like Augustine did before becoming a Christian when he said, ' I tried to find the source of evil and I got nowhere. But it is also true that I and a few others knew what must be done if not to reduce evil to at least not add to it.' Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of children being tortured. And if you believers don't help us, who else in this world can help us do that?”
Albert Camus

March 15, 2020

On a Film

A friend sent me a film of Oren Lyons speaking yo an audience earlier this month. Oren is the Faithkeeper from the Onondaga Nation's Turtle Clan. He sat with Chief Paul Waterman on both the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, and on the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy's Grand Council of Chiefs. My friend and I have decades of adventures with Oren dating back to when we were young. She and I are older and slower these days, though Oren – now 90 years old – maintains a brisk pace.

Half of his talk focused on recent events at Cayuga Territory. The traditional Cayuga people live, without any US government aid, as one of the original Iroquois Nations. They maintain their system of Chiefs, appointed by Clan Mothers, who serve the people, rather than being served by the people. However, the US government has appointed a “leadership” that was never supported by the Cayuga people. This appointed “leadership” gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid, thus far without any accountability. And not a single penny of it has gone to the traditional people.

Last month, backed by the non-Indian police force, the head of the non-traditional leader had bulldozers destroy the center of the Cayuga settlement. They destroyed the Cayuga day care center, the school, the trading post, the community-cultural center, and more. They also assaulted and “arrested” numerous traditional people – despite being informed beforehand by the BIA that this non-Indian police force lacked the authority to make arrests.

The traditional Iroquois and their supporters are making advances in getting politicians from the area and the state and federal government – including Senator Chuck Schumer – involved in the case. It is not the first time that traditional Indian people in the United States have had to deal with a “leader” appointed by the BIA, who lacks any support from the traditional communities, threaten their safety and stability. Generally, these “leaders” are men of low character, looking to get rich by allowing outside interests to exploit the people's resources. Many of them have unhealthy connections to organized crime.

This, not surprisingly, led directly to the second topic that Oren addressed. He made clear that 2020 is the year that will determine if the United States remains the nation that it had been up until 2016. Though it is imperfect, it has shown the ability to make progress in many areas during our lifetimes. That ability would almost certainly be destroyed should Trump “win” a second term. The US cannot afford to have an outside power decide who its leaders will be.

I often find myself, when listening to Oren, thinking back to the influence the Iroquois had on our Founding Fathers. Though not the only influence, of course, the Iroquois were a powerful influence. Their traditional government is set up, for example, to prevent the rise of a sociopath to power. I think back to Oren's long friendship with Senator Daniel Inouye, of his addressing the United Nations, and so many other things he has done over the decades.

I think back to May of 2019, when Cayuga Sachem Sam George opened the graduation ceremony at my daughter's college. Out of seemingly nowhere, two large bald eagles appeared low in the sky, circling above Sam, as everyone in the outdoor audience watched. It brought back memories of a simiar event, decades ago, at a re-burial ceremony that Chief Waterman conducted. It was the first time the non-Indians were allowed as participants. And I remember that Paul used to tell me that the problem with the US was that we had too many of the wrong people elected to office.

If Oren Lyons is correct, if Donald Trump remains in power, the damage to the environment will increase in severity. As that happens, representative government will no longer be even a possibility. It is up to citizens, Oren says, to prevent that from happening.

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