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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 62,163

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Comey: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

“I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about expediency. I don’t care about friendship. I care about doing the right thing.”
-- James Comey; US Senate confirmation hearings, October 2003.


On May 29, 2013, it was announced that President Obama would appoint James Comey to replace Robert Mueller III as the director of the FBI. This does not come as a surprise, since Comey is one of President Obama’s potential next choices for a seat on the US Supreme Court. It seems fair to say, however, that not all Democrats are pleased with Comey being appointed as FBI director, and that the possibility of his being placed on the USSC would be viewed negatively by those same folks.

Not surprisingly, a number of forum members here have voiced opposition to yesterday’s White House announcement. Likewise, some expressed support, and still others are taking a “wait-and-see” position. Because of this, I thought it might be worthwhile for me to contribute an essay that takes an objective look at Comey.

There are enough “good” and “bad” things about James B. Comey, Jr., that I’m confident this can only serve to reinforce the opinions people have already had about him. In fact, I’d be shocked if anything that I know about him changes anyone’s thinking about him being selected to serve as the director of the FBI. But I did notice that a few opinions that have been expressed about Comey suggested that he is relatively unknown to many forum participants.

Comey graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1982. He majored in chemistry and religion. Curiously, for his thesis, he wrote a comparison of the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr and Jerry Falwell, a snake oil salesman who was exercising significant political influence at that time. In my opinion, that was an interesting topic for a 22-year old to consider at the time.

Three years later, he earned his degree at the University of Chicago Law School. He served as a clerk to US District Court Judge John Walker, Jr.; and then joined a law firm. Comey also taught at the University of Richmond School of Law.

From 1996 to 2001, Comey was a deputy at the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted the Gambino crime family, and was lead prosecutor in the Khobar Towers bombing case.

In 2001, NY Senator Chuck Schumer helped get Comey appointed as the US Attorney for the Southern District, NY. He started in that position in January, 2002. His primary focus there was prosecuting corporate crimes. One of the cases that came up involved Martha Stewart, who was being investigated for securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Comey would prosecute Stewart for the obstruction charge.

On December 11, 2003, Comey became second in charge of the Office of the Attorney General. Being selected by the Bush White House to serve John Ashcroft gives us good reason to question if President Obama is making a terrible choice now. Let’s take a minute to consider why he was picked then, and how he served Ashcroft.

Let’s start by agreeing that John Ashcroft is a bad example of humanity, and an even worse politician. Uptight, judgmental, and a close personal friend of Injustice Clarence Thomas, Ashcroft is the type of “christian” who would reject Reinhold while embracing Falwell. As two-term governor of Missouri, Ashcroft was a typical “law and order” republican: he increased the number of both police, and inmates serving long sentences in state prison. And he was strongly opposed to “hate crimes” legislation.

Ashcroft also served in the US Senate. His primary role was being a lap dog for industry. However, he did join Russ Feingold in holding hearings on racial profiling, and stated that it was clearly unconstitutional. Ashcroft even recommended that police be ordered to keep statistics on those they pulled over, etc.

Now, let’s be clear: John Ashcroft did not do this for the right reason. Rather, he was ambitious, believing that he had the “right stuff” to win the presidency. After Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election, and Clarence and friends over-ruled the American voters by installing George W. Bush instead, Ashcroft took the position of Attorney General. He hoped it would add to his list of qualifications for high office in the future.

The Bush-Cheney administration included two sects (which did have some overlap). There were Cheney’s necroconservatives, in charge of “foreign policy” ( this included oil interests and war hawks). Another group, which included Ashcroft, had domestic policy as their primary interest; this group included several Yale “skull & bones” fellows, by no coincidence.

This is not to suggest that Ashcroft would oppose the Cheneyites’ war policies in the Middle East. Indeed, his perverted form of christianity was invested in the very concept. However, by mid-2003, the administration was involved in the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and dealing with both the Patriot Act and the Plame Scandal at home. This created problems for Ashcroft. Friends told journalists that these events caused as much trouble for poor John as his wife’s discovering that he was engaged in a kinky sexual affair with Michelle Bachman. (Okay: I just made that last part up ….not so much out of thin air, as being the result of the cold beer I am consuming in the 90+ degree upstate New York weather. Still, I have no evidence that it is NOT true, enough to convict many in America.)

It wasn’t only people like Karl Rove and Scooter Libby who were becoming the focus of controversy. Alberto Gonzales and others closer to Ashcroft than Cheney were also sitting on the hot seat. Ashcroft brought in Comey so that he could recuse himself from certain controversies -- a practice that should not inspire trust in Attorney Generals, in my view. And, again, it is important to keep in mind that at this time, Ashcroft was still intent upon a future presidential run.

In March, 2003, the Justice Department deemed the domestic spying program “Stellar Wind” to be illegal. The following day, Ashcroft became seriously ill with pancreatitis, and was hospitalized in rough condition. Comey, as acting director of the Justice Department, refused to sign on to the spy program. Thus, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales were dispatched to the Washington University Hospital to have Ashcroft “sign” on to Stellar Wind.

Alerted to this, Comey and Jack Goldsmith (also from Justice), rushed to the hospital to keep Ashcroft’s limp, semi-conscious body from “signing” the papers Card and Gonzales were bringing. At the time, the limp and para-conscious corporate media hinted at what was going on, but it wasn’t until Comey’s May 16, 2007 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Comey confirmed what had happened.

Comey testified that both Robert Mueller and he were prepared to resign in protest, if President Bush had signed the objectionable parts of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program into law. Bush was alerted to the potentially damaging resignations -- more were preparing to join Mueller and Comey -- and so he met with Comey. (His testimony indicated that Comey was shocked at how uninformed Bush was of what was the Cheneyites’ policy.) Bush made minor changes, and over-ruled Justice.

Certainly, one can make a solid case that Comey should have opposed the Patriot Act, and programs like “Stellar Wind” more forcefully, and resigned when Bush decided to follow most of VP Cheney’s unconstitutional plan for the militarization of American society. And that is an important point -- at least in my opinion: the USA is not a police state today, it’s a military state. And as a military state, that Bill of Rights is being crushed and destroyed.

Comey was involved in the investigation of a related series of crimes, known collectively as the “Plame Scandal.” During his confirmation hearings, Senator Schumer had asked James pointedly what he was prepared to do about the scandal? Comey said that he would have an answer for Schumer in early January. In fact, he would appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor to handle the case.

There were republicans who strongly opposed Fitzgerald’s being appointed to anything. Two examples are Peter Fitzgerald (Senator) and Dennis Hastert ( Governor/ Congressman).Hastert, for younger readers, was a sad excuse for a Speaker of the House. After Newt Gingrich stepped down in utter disgrace in 1998, the republican party picked Bob Livingston to serve as Speaker; Hustler magazine put an end to that. Their next choice was Dick Armey; he was exposed as being himself. Next, they looked to Tom DeLay. Finally, they agreed upon the 4th choice -- Dennis Hastert. (See the September 2005 article in Vanity Fair per Sibel Edmonds’ information on Hastert’s friendship with a Turkish target of intelligence surveillance.)

On December 30, Comey named Fitzgerald to handle the Plame Scandal; Will Pitt wrote what I consider the best article on the scandal to date; and I joined the Democratic Underground.

The investigation began as an effort to determine if the “leak” of Valerie Plame’s name had violated the Intelligence Identities Security Act. Early on, Fitzgerald saw that there was a coordinated effort -- coming specifically from the Office of the Vice President -- to cover-up accurate information on the scandal. Hence, Fitzgerald approached Comey, and convinced him to write a letter that officially expanded the scope of the investigation -- to include going after those engaged in the cover-up.

The rest of that chapter is fairly well-known. Fitzgerald was successful in prosecuting Cheney’s top aide, Scooter Libby, on numerous felony charges. I had hoped that he would also prosecute Cheney, even though it was possible, even likely, that Dick would have been found “not guilty.” (Also, like his soul mate Dick Nixon per Watergate, Cheney believed that multiple claims of “national security” would have prevented his criminal prosecution.) Fitzgerald did offer his documentation of the case to Congress, should the House be interested in considering impeachment.

Since serving during the Bush administration, Comey has been employed by large corporations. Obviously, I think that is a big minus; the overlap between industry and government is the most dangerous threat to the United States. He is a registered republican, and donated to the campaigns of McCain and Romney.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for an FBI. In today’s world, the actual needs for justice should result in someone with the character of Senator Elizabeth Warren serving as the agency’s director -- or as Attorney General. But that isn’t going to happen. And it’s not only because of the repulsive republican jackasses in Washington. It’s because this administration includes people like Eric Holder.

Because of the limited options -- not to mention that people like you and I have no say whatsoever in this -- I think that Jim Comey is probably the very best choice that President Obama could make. At least Comey has, to an extent that exceeds almost any Democrat in DC, stood up on principle a few times. He has advocated prosecuting criminals from the bowels of the corporate government. And, while he is probably not someone that most of us would enjoy having a beer with, he appears to have some respect for the Bill of Rights.

Peace,
H2O Man

Campaigner

“I felt that I was being chased on all sides by a giant stampede. I was being forced over the edge by rioting blacks, demonstrating students, marching welfare mothers, squawking professors, and hysterical reporters ….”
-- President Lyndon B. Johnson; describing a recurrent nightmare to Doris Kearns Goodwin.


Politicians too often are cut off from serious communications with those they were elected to represent. This, of course, is because most are taking their orders from corporate interests who pay for their campaigns. And no politician cannot serve two masters.

No politicians are more removed than U.S. Presidents, who often exist in a glass bubble almost as protected from everyday reality as the dark cave that VP Dick Cheney inhabited …..that cave being his skull.

Thus, many of us remember being mildly surprised when “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, was published in 1977. LBJ was not known, during his presidency, for being sympathetic with those who disagreed with him. Yet, on some level -- perhaps a combination of conscious, unconscious, and subconscious -- Johnson heard the citizens who loudly and boldly challenged him.

Older forum members will recall the May 18, 1970 edition of TIME, which confirmed that President Richard Nixon with anti-war students late one night, at the Lincoln Memorial. In numerous books since, it has been documented that Tricky Dick was intoxicated at the time. The Secret Service agents could not keep him from trying to communicate -- and yes, justify -- his adventure in Cambodia, which resulted in so much campus unrest. This made it easier for some of us to sing “Campaigner” along with Neal Young.

Today a brave woman spoke up at President Obama’s event. One might agree with her; or with the administration’s drone policy; or even see some good and bad in either or both. Just as one can like the President or not; think he’s doing a good job or not; or maybe think there are various examples ranging from “good” to “bad” in his job performance.

But we should appreciate the woman’s dedication to truth as she sees it; President Obama’s response; and we should not lose faith that a dedicated group of citizens exercising their Amendment 1 rights can gain the attention of the US President.

Promised Land

On Sunday, my good friend “Bluenorthwest” sent me an e-mail, to say that he had watched the movie “Promised Land.” As it is about hydrofracking, he thought of me, and wrote to say that it had come out on DVD. After we communicated a bit through a series of Democratic Underground e-mails, I drove to the nearest store that sells movies. I was happy to purchase their last copy.

For anyone who may not be familiar with “Promised Land,” it stars Matt Damon and Frances McDormand as agents for an energy corporation. They are sent to a small town that is like thousands of the little communities that the gas industry targets for exploitation. Factory jobs have been exported; family farms have difficulty competing in the current economic realities, and the promise of big money is very enticing to two groups of people: those who are going broke, and those who are greedy by nature.

The agents of the gas industry are trained to appeal to people’s fears and greed: your town will die without fracking; you could easily be sitting on a fortune here. They also peddle para-patriotism: help the US become energy independent; drill a well, and bring a soldier home. The film delivers a very good character study in those areas.

More, I think Matt Damon is a talented young actor, and I have long admired Frances McDormand as an extremely capable artist.

Perhaps the most interesting and important point made in the movie is how the gas industry exercises control over the internal and external dynamics of small town governments. This, as every experienced social activist/ community organizer here knows, includes infiltrating their opposition -- those pesky environmentalists. Change it to an anti-war or civil rights group, and the exact same thing holds true.

The movie is top-notch, in my opinion. I strongly recommend it to those interested in issues involving the environment. Even if the environment isn’t your primary focus in social-political issues, it’s still definitely worth watching.

Finally, I’m interested in hearing the opinions of others here, who have watched the film.

Thanks!
H2O Man

Write On, RFK, Jr. !


For once with good reason, the GOP is exorcised with the scandals involving the IRS targeting political groups and the FBI's spying on A.P. reporters. The broader public is legitimately concerned. However, in its classic overblown breathlessness at all things Obama, the gleeful Republican leadership is already calling for impeachment and dragging out desperate comparisons to Nixon's Watergate. This, despite caveats from its own sages not to overplay Republican good fortune. "We overreached in 1998," Newt Gingrich admitted recently. He counseled restraint to the Tea Party jihadists he helped spawn. Gingrich recalled how the GOP's scandal mongering against Clinton had only amplified Clinton's popularity and cost Republicans the 1998 mid-terms and Gingrich his speakership. But this new generation of hysterical House members immune to that wisdom, are headed straight for the feinting couch in fits of anti-Obama hysteria.

In a characteristic spasm of partisan apoplexy, Iowa Congressman Steve King offered a shrill algorithm: "add Watergate and Iran Contra together and multiply by ten" to calculate the tyrannical evil of the Obama scandals.

As usual, the Fox-fueled GOP narrative swayed the mainstream press. On May 16, Reuters' Jeff Mason interrupted Obama's press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to ask the President, "How do you feel about the comparisons by some of your critics with the scandals of the Nixon Administration?" Obama responded with calm contempt; he would leave those comparisons to the journalists. But he urged Mason to "read some history." If Mason takes that advice, here are some of the historical tidbits he might consider.

President Richard Nixon was aware that the IRS had audited him in 1961 and 1962 and presumed those audits were politically motivated by the Kennedy White House. When, early in his Administration, Nixon learned that his friends and political allies John Wayne and Rev. Billy Graham had endured recent audits by his own IRS, Nixon boiled over. He ordered White House Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, "Get the word out, down to the IRS that I want them to conduct field audits on those who are our opponents." Perhaps recalling the Kennedy era audits, Nixon ordered that its investigator begin with my Uncle's, John F. Kennedy's, former campaign manager and White House aide, then Democratic Committee Chairman, Lawrence O'Brien.

.......


More at:

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/17511-focus-obama-and-nixon-a-historical-perspective


Lisa Rowe

If I actually had a "Top 10 Favorite Movies" list, I would certainly put the 1999 film "Girl, Interrupted" in it.

I know that many DUers know a great deal more about Angelina Jolie that I, and I can accept that. Even in the context of her recent medical decision.

Anyhow, it's a serious film, based upon Susanna Kaysen's book, from when she was voluntarily hospitalized in 1967 for attempting to overdose on aspirin. Winona Ryder plays the main character (Kaysen), who was diagnosed with aborderline personality disorder; Jolie played Rowe, who was diagnosed as a sociopath.

If I've seen Jolie in any film since, it's slipped my mind. I tend to watch movies in much the same manner as I read books -- non-fiction. But I was very impressed by her in this movie.

I fully support her making decisions for herself.

And I gently urge others to watch (or, re-watch) this movie.

Law v Law

Last week, while on vacation -- retired folks need vacations, too -- I participated in a few discussions on this forum about the Attorney General’s office and AP. There were a few interesting posts & threads here that I wanted to respond to, but decided to wait until I had returned home. I want to make it clear that while I have firmly-held opinions, based upon what I see as very clear Amendment 1 issues, I recognize and fully appreciate that some folks who disagree with my opinion have intelligent, thoughtful points of view, as well. For few things in the very complicated universe of socio-political activities are so blatantly black-vs.-white that only one view can be entirely correct, to the exclusion of all others.(That Dick Cheney should be prosecuted and incarcerated is one of those very few.)

The point was made that what the Attorney General’s office did was “legal.” And that is a valid point, worthy of discussion. Less worthy was the “if you don’t like it, change the law” nonsense that was a weak attempt to end discussion on the topic.

There are different types of law. In discussions about hydrofracking, for example, we can recognize that there are Man’s Law and Natural Law. The Dick Cheneyites can deem it “legal” to frack, and even pass a law that overturns the Clean Air and Clean Water laws. Yet, because fracking poisons the water supply, Natural Law insures that living things will suffer and die as the direct and unavoidable consequence of fracking.

Or we might consider Martin Luther King, Jr.’s November 16, 1961 speech to the Fellowship of the Concerned. In this powerful speech, King explained why he and others were openly violating certain laws, and willingly paying the consequences. King noted that there were two types of Man’s Law: those that were just, and those that were unjust. A just law enhances all of society, while an unjust law seeks to exclude a specific segment from those rights that all Americans were supposed to enjoy.

Likewise, when we consider what may be deemed “legal,” our nation has a long and often acrimonious history of laws that either enhance the Constitution (specifically, the Bill of Rights), and those laws that have denied a specific segment of the population those same rights. In these instances, it is generally not an oppressed group that breaks from the policies of the Constitution; rather, it is some level of government: local, state, or federal.

Constitutional Law is, of course, that body of law that has been determined by the federal courts. Yet, even here, there has been a long and cruel history of even the US Supreme Court making a ruling -- which then stands as law -- that is clearly a product of the times, in which the interests of the few has outweighed the interests of all Americans. To list but two for examples, the Dred Scott v Sanford, and the George W. Bush v democracy stand out. In some instances, a later USSC decision can right a past wrong; in others, like Bush in 2000, the damage inflicted upon our society can never be repaired.

Those of us who are rightfully concerned about the AP issue recognize that it is part of a larger attack on Amendment 1. It is a constitutional issue -- I am convinced a crisis -- that is larger than the Democratic Party v the republican country club/tea bag party. In order to potentially change the law, we must focus the spotlight of the public’s attention on it, as a first step. None of us on this forum have the “standing” required, for instance, to file a legal case on it, hoping to get it to the USSC for a fair decision, rooted in the Constitution.

President Obama himself has said that he expects democrats to “hold his feet to the fire.” Our questioning what the Attorney General’s office did is not a betrayal. Our strongly opposing this dangerous “legal” action is not a call for lawlessness. Our hoping that President Obama -- who was employed as a constitutional law professor -- will take bold action to support Amendment 1 -- even when it is difficult, or perhaps unpopular -- is not in any sense an indication that we see no difference between the two major political parties.

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. Robert Kennedy, Dr. King, and Malcolm were, in my humble opinion, the best that America has offered in my lifetime. I admire each of them, because they were willing to stand up for what they believed to be right. They were willing to confront problems, even when it was most difficult. They did not ask others to do what they were unwilling to do. And they were willing to suffer the consequences of speaking out, and taking action, to confront injustice -- “legal” or otherwise.

In the end, what did they really want? A society where the Bill of Rights and the goodness of the American potential was available to each and every person.

Malcolm sometimes compared the republicans and democrats in Washington, DC, to wolves and foxes. The republican wolf will growl at you, and then bite you; the democratic fox will smile at you, then sneak up and bite you from behind. I think that same concept can be accurately applied here: republican wolves make no pretense that they believe everyone -- including you and I -- are “entitled” to Constitutional Rights. They will snarl in our faces, solong as their public and private “security” forces are there to protect them, and snatch those rights away from us. And too many democratic foxes give lip service to the Constitution, and grin at us while asking for a campaign contribution and a vote, but compromise your and my rights behind our backs.

Amendment 1 secures our right to gather together to address our grievances against the behavior of our elected representatives. I say that doing just that is a good thing. More, I believe that the failure to do so is betrayal. Again, I appreciate that good and sincere people can and do disagree with me on the AP issue. But I wanted to take the opportunity to explain why I am not only talking about my concerns here on this forum, but contacting those very elected (and also appointed) representatives to let them know what I think.

Thank you for listening.
H2O Man

Amendment 1

Perhaps it is too obvious, and thus easily overlooked: the reason the "Founding Fathers" added the Bill of Rights to the U.S, Constitution was to insure that citizens would enjoy specific rights that "government" -- meaning individual and group interests of those in power -- might otherwise seek to deny them.

The most important of these rights, in my opinion, are those found in Amendment 1. These rights are not always popular when exercised. More, there have long been limitations on some of them. For example, citizens do have the right to gather in public to air their disagreements with government policy. But, as the landmark case, decided by the US Supreme Court regarding Martin Luther King, Jr., in Birmingham, that right is not absolute.

In recent history, beginning with the Kennedy administration during the final preparations for the foolish Bay of Pigs invasion, there has been tension between the executive branch and the press. Such tensions have also been found in the legislative and the judicial branch, in relations with the press. But, by their very natures, it has always been and will always be the executive branch that has the greater agenda to "control" the media -- either by creating a cozy relationship, or by way of seeking to restrict a free press.

Anyone old enough to have lived through the Nixon era, with its "enemies list" that included several journalists, should know this. And anyone born later, who cares about the Bill of Rights, should invest the time to learn about that toxic time.

The media is not the same today, as it was 40 or 50 years ago. Clearly, there is a corporate media today, that tends to spoonfeed some accurate information, along with heaping amounts of misinformation and disinformation, to an often unsuspecting public. Still, the media of yesteryear was not often as cutting edge as many recall it as being. The truth about Woodward and Bertsein, for example, was far different than the quasi-mythological "All the President's Men."

There were wonderful "underground" newspapers then, and some outrageously good radio shows. "Laugh-In" was often more on target than the 6 o'clock news. But today, we have the internet, something the hippies and YIPPIES! couldn't have dreamed of.
A free press can only be as good -- and free -- as citizens make it. And that includes the realatively minor internet discussion sites, such as the Democratic Underground, as well as blogs by hundreds of grass roots activists.

A big part of making the media -- both corporate and social -- of value, and to infuse the power that Amendment 1 intends, is to always question each and every government infringement on the press. It is easy for the people here to be angered by a Nixon or a Cheney when they attempt to control or restrict the media -- as it well should be. But we do have a responsibility to question those democratic administrations -- even if we really like a President Clinton or a President Obama -- when their administrations engage in actions that could threaten any part of that Bill of Rights.

Too often, if the rabid republicans, who are the lowest life form on earth, are for something, good and sincere Democrats are automatically against it; or, if those rabid republicans are against something, good and sincere Democrats are for it. This type of reaction can, at times, keep us from thinking for ourselves. And the truth is that while both Clinton and Obama are good men, and certainly far better presidents than Bush et al, they are not perfect. Indeed, the very office they hold requires that U.S. Presidents advocate for corporate interests, which includes that military-industrial complex.

If our nation is ever to regain its status as a Constitutional Democracy (and those who will argue that we were never a democracy, but rather a republic can only argue, because they are too misinformed to speak rationally), it will only be because citizens exercise the muscles found in that Bill of Rights -- and I'm definitely not including old #2.

Always question the government. Anyone who fails to do so not only betrays themselves, they betray everyone else.

Peace,
H2O Man

To Have or To Be

"It's no exaggeration to say that the foundations of today's Europe were forged in the events of the late Ice Age, between about forty-five thousand and twelve thousand years ago."
-- Brian Fagan; Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans; Bloomberyy; 2010; page 3.


I'm sitting on a balcony, overlooking the beach and ocean while on a rare vacation in Virginia Beach. My old bones are aching, so while my wife & daughters are out being tourists, I am in the hotel room ....reading Fagan's book, The Essential Fromm (Continuum; 1993), and attempting to finish my latest book on the environment. Spiral notebooks, newspaper clippings, EPA reports, and the transcripts of two federal court cases I participated in are scattered on the table beside me. My youngest daughter left her computer in this suite, to allow me internet access while she is touristing.

"Cro-Magnon" is perhaps an outdated term: these people were fully "modern humans." The author makes interesting, though speculative, theories on how these people may have interacted with the other human group in Europe, the Neanderthal. He believes that there was sporadic, though relatively limited, contact between the two. And he bases his theories on the interpretations of the latest scientific discoveries -- at least from three years ago, though new technologies are always adding to what we know.

I find one of his basic concepts fascinating: while Cro-Magnon peoples had friendly relationships with others of their own type, including "strangers" they had not encountered before, they likely viewed the Neanderthals as "others" -- of lesser status than themselves. And he may, to a large degree, be correct. That dynamic is certainly common throughout modern human history.

Last week, I went out "arrowhead hunting." There were two people that I didn't recognize in the fields where I went. I attempted to strike up a casual conversation with them, but they were not interested in communicating with me. Although there were three large fields plowed -- more than enough ground for each of us to cover -- they left a short time later.

That evening, I went to a grocery store. I saw a young couple; the female had on a sweatshirt with the infamous image of Charlie Manson, from the cover of LIFE magazine, on its back. Yikes! I found myself wondering: What message is she attempting to send to others with this? And what might it say about the manner in which she views herself?

The Fromm book is, like all of his writings, outstanding. Erich Fromm is, in my opinion, the most important "thinker" of our modern era. His writings are surely as important today, as when he authored them decades ago. "To Have or To Be" remains the question of our times. It involves the way in which we view others -- from those inhabiting a very different cultural reality than our own, to a young person wearing a strange sweatshirt. It determines if we seek to live our life as a product for sale on the competitive market (and perhaps the seller, if we are lucky), or do we seek to experience life in a very different way -- one that is increasing difficult in the current socio-economic conditions?

Fromm addresses issues such as why the majority of people accept being victims of a structure that robs them of their humanity? Why they morph into willing participants of a destructive life-style that threatens not only their health and well-being, but that of their children, of all children, and of all future generations? Included in this is an examination of why these same people often resent those who attempt to make meaningful changes in that system.

There is, obviously, the internal conflict for me: to write a book on the damage that toxic industrial waste dumps has done to a population, and then to connect it to hydrofracking -- a process that injects many of these same toxins into the ground -- comes natural for me. Yet I must try to make it a product that the publisher believes will sell. Yikes!

Peace,
H2O Man

Jodi Arias Verdict Reached

The jury has reached a verdict in the Jodi Arias trial. She is accused of first degree murder. Arias admitted killing her ex-boyfriend during the trial -- her third story -- but testified that it was done in "self-defense."

Frequently, high-profile legal cases are more of a distraction than not. They provide entertainment to the general viewing public. Obviously, they are neither distractions nor entertainment for victims (including family and friends).

I think this case, however, included numerous important issues. Perhaps the most important is the nature of domestic violence -- though Arias did not live with her victim, domestic abuse was central to both the prosecutor and defense attorneys.

Also, things such as trials being televised; the "star" quality of a murder suspect; "expert" witnesses who prostitute their professions; and even the difference in perception of "attractive" versus "unattractive" defendants all are worthy topics for consideration.

The verdict will be announced at 4:30 pm/est.

Four Dead in Ohio

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
-- Neil Young

I will always remember this day.
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