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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 63,848

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Gasland 2 Review

(also posted in DU:GD)

Last night, my oldest daughter and I went to see “Gasland 2” in Binghamton, N.Y. The movie, which will be broadcast on HBO in August, is outstanding. In fact, we both felt that it was, if anything, better than the 2010 “Gasland.” More, we agreed that a person should watch the original, in order to fully understand and appreciate the more unsettling sequel.

I’ll start by saying that I think highly of Josh Fox. We first met in January of 2012, at the Capital Building in Albany, N.Y. There was a huge pro-environment, anti-hydro racking rally that day, and I was one of the speakers. It was also what proved to be the last day of my hunger strike; state senator Tom Libous finally met with me, after his aides told him about my speech. (I noted that a growing number of high school students were writing letters-to-the-editors of area newspapers, and were planning demonstrations outside of three of his satellite offices. This upset Libous. No politician wants high school students saying that he is doing what they are learning elected representatives are supposed to be doing -- especially not in the media.)

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with Josh by way of the computer since then. I’m highly impressed with a young man who is a genius in communicating the truth about what I believe is the most important environmental crisis of this time. Neither the positive nor negative aspects of “fame” have gone to his head. Now, that is hard to prevent: it requires that a person be extremely well-grounded. I found myself thinking of a passage from Erich Fromm:


“Faith in the being mode of existence means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.

“The willingness to be born requires courage and faith. Courage to let go of certainties; courage to be different and to stand alone; courage, as the Bible puts it in the story of Abraham, to leave one’s own land and family and to go to a land yet unknown. Courage to be concerned with nothing but the truth, the truth not only in thought but in one’s feelings as well.

“This courage is possible only on the basis of faith. Faith not in the sense in which the word is often used today, as a belief in some idea that cannot be proved scientifically or rationally, but faith in the meaning that it has in the Old Testament, where the word faith (Emunah) means certainty; to be certain of the reality of one’s own experience in thought and feeling, to be able to trust it, to rely on it, this is faith.”
-- Erich Fromm; The Creative Attitude; pages 53-54.


I do not want to “spoil” the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I think that I can discuss some aspects of it here, without ruining it.

The film opens with a scene from over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s July 4, 2010, and Josh is able to film close to the BP oil “spill.” It immediately brought back all of the terrible images from that time …..but it was worse, in that it showed what BP had been able to keep off of the corporate news at that time. Josh notes that “no matter how huge the catastrophe, what matters is who tells the story.”

That is true in the case of fracking, as well. Because the mainstream media is owned by large corporations that are invested in things such as “energy” and the “military-industrial complex,” the public is presented with a highly inaccurate picture of fracking. This goes beyond the commercials on television, or the panel discussions on news programs. And I’ll address that in a moment.

The energy corporations are aware that 5% of all wells will leak upon the completion of being drilled. That is, of course, because the casing of one in twenty wells leaks. So when the gas industry tells the public about all of the benefits of 100,000 wells in Pennsylvania, they avoid mentioning that 5,000 will leak on Day One. Or that according to their internal reports, 50% of the wells will fail and leak extremely toxic wastes into the water supply. Nor will they discuss the truth about the more immediate dangers that the millions of gallons of toxic waste-water from “good” wells produces.

The planet Earth is living; it provides a natural filtration system that protects living things, including human beings. But the Earth does not “clean” the poisons used in fracking. Hence, those toxins spread through the water supply, and are absorbed by living things, including human beings. The “master plan” of the energy corporations not only threatens the living environment (parts of which are already seriously damaged), but our living Constitutional Democracy (parts of which are already severely damaged). Let’s take a look at how this man-made disease is being spread.

Some members of this forum would not like much of what I’m about to say. Few of those folks will read this, though …..which is really too bad, because if they really took an objective look at the points I’m going to make, they would find that I’m right (though not because I’m saying it), and would then have to decide between opposing a dangerous threat to our country, or to admit that sheer greed trumps the health and well-being of their community.

The energy corporations are viewing the populations that live upon regions rich in underground gas in the exact same way they view any Third World people who have some natural resources they seek to plunder and exploit. I do not say that lightly, or for shock value. It is the truth. And it goes far, far beyond the gas industry’s hiring the same public relations firm that the tobacco industry employed 60 years ago, to promote “risk free” smoking products.

Indeed, it goes beyond the gas industry’s hiring private intelligence groups, such as the Institute of Terrorism, Research, and Response” to outline -- and execute -- plans to discredit, disrupt, and destroy local grassroots opposition groups. (If that reminds readers of the movie “Promised Land,” or of FBI director Hoover’s infamous March 4, 1968 memorandum, it should.)

The gas industry also makes use of paid puppets to go on the news programs and say, “There is no conclusive scientific evidence that connects fracking to the contamination of even a single water well.” And where is the greatest number of paid liars found, ready and eager to prostitute their fame for money? Why, in the world of politics -- primarily in the “retired” politicians who would walk a mile for a camera.

So it is no surprise that republican Tom Ridge works for the gas pimps. Ridge was the governor of Pennsylvania, before becoming the head of the Office of Homeland Security. It was during his time at OHS that the Pennsylvania grassroots environmental advocates were labeled as “potential eco-terrorists” by that agency. This led to the energy corporations being provided assistance by the U.S. military -- you know, to prevent the terrible threat of eco-terrorism that environmentalists pose.

What services do the energy corporations get from the military? As “Gasland 2” documents, they are the operations known as “psyops” (psychological operations), long part of the military’s “psywar” (psychological warfare) in Third World countries that U.S. corporations seek to exploit.

The film also provides documentation on how democratic politicians are serving as advocates for the gas industry. An ugly example of this is another former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell. (It’s interesting to note that Rendell included Tom Ridge on the list of retired US officials who lobby for the Iranian group MEK, which is on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Groups.) Rendell spoke along with George W. Bush at a gas industry conference, in which grassroots environmentalists were called “eco-terrorists.”

Rendell promoted the gas industry as governor. The amount of damage done to the land, air, and water during his time as governor is obscene. Three of his top aides are now employed by the gas industry. And Rendell is invested in the industry, but does not reveal this financial interest when he lobbies for the industry. (NYS senator Tom Libous was recently exposed for lying about his gas investments; if it’s wrong for a republican slime to do so, it is -- at very least -- equally wrong for a democrat to do so.)

But Rendell is not alone among high-profile democrats in promoting the gas industry. This movie shows that President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton strongly advocated for “American” gas corporations to have access to resources in Asia and Europe. Indeed, this is but part of the master plan for gas to be the fuel of the next century, and for corporations like Shell to control that gas supply.

The movie documents many other very important issues. Among them is the utter frustration of the mid-level US EPA workers: they are sincerely motivated to help protect the environment, and people, but are handcuffed by bureaucrats at higher levels. (National security, don’t you know?)

In my opinion, the only way to combat this threat -- and hold the actual environmental terrorists of the Dick Cheney ilk responsible for their crimes against nature -- is found in the grass roots activism that can breath new life into the now decaying Constitutional Democracy that we call the United States of America. We need to become that filtration system that can protect life on Earth. And, by no coincidence, to do so, we need to think and act in the manner described in the Erich Fromm quote.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight!

H2O Man

Gasland 2 Review

Last night, my oldest daughter and I went to see “Gasland 2” in Binghamton, N.Y. The movie, which will be broadcast on HBO in August, is outstanding. In fact, we both felt that it was, if anything, better than the 2010 “Gasland.” More, we agreed that a person should watch the original, in order to fully understand and appreciate the more unsettling sequel.

I’ll start by saying that I think highly of Josh Fox. We first met in January of 2012, at the Capital Building in Albany, N.Y. There was a huge pro-environment, anti-hydro racking rally that day, and I was one of the speakers. It was also what proved to be the last day of my hunger strike; state senator Tom Libous finally met with me, after his aides told him about my speech. (I noted that a growing number of high school students were writing letters-to-the-editors of area newspapers, and were planning demonstrations outside of three of his satellite offices. This upset Libous. No politician wants high school students saying that he is doing what they are learning elected representatives are supposed to be doing -- especially not in the media.)

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with Josh by way of the computer since then. I’m highly impressed with a young man who is a genius in communicating the truth about what I believe is the most important environmental crisis of this time. Neither the positive nor negative aspects of “fame” have gone to his head. Now, that is hard to prevent: it requires that a person be extremely well-grounded. I found myself thinking of a passage from Erich Fromm:


“Faith in the being mode of existence means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.

“The willingness to be born requires courage and faith. Courage to let go of certainties; courage to be different and to stand alone; courage, as the Bible puts it in the story of Abraham, to leave one’s own land and family and to go to a land yet unknown. Courage to be concerned with nothing but the truth, the truth not only in thought but in one’s feelings as well.

“This courage is possible only on the basis of faith. Faith not in the sense in which the word is often used today, as a belief in some idea that cannot be proved scientifically or rationally, but faith in the meaning that it has in the Old Testament, where the word faith (Emunah) means certainty; to be certain of the reality of one’s own experience in thought and feeling, to be able to trust it, to rely on it, this is faith.”
-- Erich Fromm; The Creative Attitude; pages 53-54.


I do not want to “spoil” the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I think that I can discuss some aspects of it here, without ruining it.

The film opens with a scene from over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s July 4, 2010, and Josh is able to film close to the BP oil “spill.” It immediately brought back all of the terrible images from that time …..but it was worse, in that it showed what BP had been able to keep off of the corporate news at that time. Josh notes that “no matter how huge the catastrophe, what matters is who tells the story.”

That is true in the case of fracking, as well. Because the mainstream media is owned by large corporations that are invested in things such as “energy” and the “military-industrial complex,” the public is presented with a highly inaccurate picture of fracking. This goes beyond the commercials on television, or the panel discussions on news programs. And I’ll address that in a moment.

The energy corporations are aware that 5% of all wells will leak upon the completion of being drilled. That is, of course, because the casing of one in twenty wells leaks. So when the gas industry tells the public about all of the benefits of 100,000 wells in Pennsylvania, they avoid mentioning that 5,000 will leak on Day One. Or that according to their internal reports, 50% of the wells will fail and leak extremely toxic wastes into the water supply. Nor will they discuss the truth about the more immediate dangers that the millions of gallons of toxic waste-water from “good” wells produces.

The planet Earth is living; it provides a natural filtration system that protects living things, including human beings. But the Earth does not “clean” the poisons used in fracking. Hence, those toxins spread through the water supply, and are absorbed by living things, including human beings. The “master plan” of the energy corporations not only threatens the living environment (parts of which are already seriously damaged), but our living Constitutional Democracy (parts of which are already severely damaged). Let’s take a look at how this man-made disease is being spread.

Some members of this forum would not like much of what I’m about to say. Few of those folks will read this, though …..which is really too bad, because if they really took an objective look at the points I’m going to make, they would find that I’m right (though not because I’m saying it), and would then have to decide between opposing a dangerous threat to our country, or to admit that sheer greed trumps the health and well-being of their community.

The energy corporations are viewing the populations that live upon regions rich in underground gas in the exact same way they view any Third World people who have some natural resources they seek to plunder and exploit. I do not say that lightly, or for shock value. It is the truth. And it goes far, far beyond the gas industry’s hiring the same public relations firm that the tobacco industry employed 60 years ago, to promote “risk free” smoking products.

Indeed, it goes beyond the gas industry’s hiring private intelligence groups, such as the Institute of Terrorism, Research, and Response” to outline -- and execute -- plans to discredit, disrupt, and destroy local grassroots opposition groups. (If that reminds readers of the movie “Promised Land,” or of FBI director Hoover’s infamous March 4, 1968 memorandum, it should.)

The gas industry also makes use of paid puppets to go on the news programs and say, “There is no conclusive scientific evidence that connects fracking to the contamination of even a single water well.” And where is the greatest number of paid liars found, ready and eager to prostitute their fame for money? Why, in the world of politics -- primarily in the “retired” politicians who would walk a mile for a camera.

So it is no surprise that republican Tom Ridge works for the gas pimps. Ridge was the governor of Pennsylvania, before becoming the head of the Office of Homeland Security. It was during his time at OHS that the Pennsylvania grassroots environmental advocates were labeled as “potential eco-terrorists” by that agency. This led to the energy corporations being provided assistance by the U.S. military -- you know, to prevent the terrible threat of eco-terrorism that environmentalists pose.

What services do the energy corporations get from the military? As “Gasland 2” documents, they are the operations known as “psyops” (psychological operations), long part of the military’s “psywar” (psychological warfare) in Third World countries that U.S. corporations seek to exploit.

The film also provides documentation on how democratic politicians are serving as advocates for the gas industry. An ugly example of this is another former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell. (It’s interesting to note that Rendell included Tom Ridge on the list of retired US officials who lobby for the Iranian group MEK, which is on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Groups.) Rendell spoke along with George W. Bush at a gas industry conference, in which grassroots environmentalists were called “eco-terrorists.”

Rendell promoted the gas industry as governor. The amount of damage done to the land, air, and water during his time as governor is obscene. Three of his top aides are now employed by the gas industry. And Rendell is invested in the industry, but does not reveal this financial interest when he lobbies for the industry. (NYS senator Tom Libous was recently exposed for lying about his gas investments; if it’s wrong for a republican slime to do so, it is -- at very least -- equally wrong for a democrat to do so.)

But Rendell is not alone among high-profile democrats in promoting the gas industry. This movie shows that President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton strongly advocated for “American” gas corporations to have access to resources in Asia and Europe. Indeed, this is but part of the master plan for gas to be the fuel of the next century, and for corporations like Shell to control that gas supply.

The movie documents many other very important issues. Among them is the utter frustration of the mid-level US EPA workers: they are sincerely motivated to help protect the environment, and people, but are handcuffed by bureaucrats at higher levels. (National security, don’t you know?)

In my opinion, the only way to combat this threat -- and hold the actual environmental terrorists of the Dick Cheney ilk responsible for their crimes against nature -- is found in the grass roots activism that can breath new life into the now decaying Constitutional Democracy that we call the United States of America. We need to become that filtration system that can protect life on Earth. And, by no coincidence, to do so, we need to think and act in the manner described in the Erich Fromm quote.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight!

H2O Man

Gasland 2

The movie Gasland 2 will be playing tonight at Binghamton, NY's West Middle School. The doors open at 6 pm, with the film starting at 6:30. Josh Fox will be there, and will hold a "Q&A" session after the movie.

Two D.U. reporters will be there. It would be nice to see other area DUers there!

Robinson vs Mayweather

ESPN’s internet boxing site has an interesting article on it today, about a “dream fight” between two of the Great Sport’s all-time best welterweight champions. In it, several of ESPN’s boxing experts discuss a “super fight” between Sugar Ray Robinson and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Such fantasy fights are, of course, about what would likely have happened if two men, from different generations, had fought when each were at their peak?

For the article, see:
http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/9330198/floyd-mayweather-jr-vs-sugar-ray-robinson

I think it might be fun to discuss this “dream fight” here on my favorite sports forum. I’ll start, by writing my thoughts, in hopes that others here will contribute, as well. In past years, participants on the Democratic Underground’s sports forum have discussed similar topics, such as history’s best heavyweight champions, and a dream fight between the great Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.

In general, I am probably best described as rigid in my way of thinking about such things. I usually only think about fights that are actually going to, or are likely to happen. (Also, I only read factual books by habit, not having read any work of fiction since 1975.) But the ESPN article sparked my imagination, in large part because in discussions with my son on how someone might possibly defeat Mayweather, I’ve used the example of Sugar Ray.

It has been over 60 years since anyone has seen Robinson fight as a welterweight. His later careeer was in the middleweight division. And, while there is film of Ray in the middleweight division, none exists of his at welterweight. Now, that’s a damn shame, and for many reasons. First, Ray was definitely at his best at welterweight. Though he had numerous great fights at middleweight, and the films of those is awe-inspiring, he was past his prime.

Ray held the welterweight title once (1946-51), and the middleweight crown five times between 1951-60. The reason he held the middleweight title five times was because he lost it four times in the ring, and was then stripped of it for inactivity the last time. Robinson fought at a time when boxing had eight weight divisions (there are 17 today), and one champion in each division (there are four commission’s “titles” in each today). Thus, Ray’s beating 14 opponents who held world titles is distinct from Mayweather’s beating 18 opponents who have held titles. Likewise, Robinson’s six titles is distinct from Floyd’s eight.

Mayweather is undefeated in 44 pro fights, with 26 knockouts; he was 84-6 in the amateurs. Ray retired in 1965 with a record of 173-19-6 (108 knockout wins, 1 lose); he had been 85-0 as an amateur. (As an amateur, Ray scored 69 knockouts, with 40 coming in the first round.) However, it is worth noting that Ray had first retired in 1952, with a 131-3-2 record, before making a comeback three years later. Boxers fought much more frequently then, and for far less money. Ray returned to the ring, because he was broke.

At 5’ 11’ tall, Ray had a 3-inch advantage over Floyd. That is important -- or would have been, had they fought -- because Ray knew how to use his height. However, Floyd’s 72” reach was just a half-inch less than Ray’s, and Mayweather is a master at exploiting distances in the ring.

I believe that Ray hit harder. He was a combination-puncher, who had a superb body-attack. Floyd’s hands are faster. Both had/have very good footwork, and were/are capable of fighting coming forward, going side-to-side, or moving backwards.

Both men have defeated almost everyone in the welterweight division. Ray refused to fight Charlie Burley, and Floyd did not fight Manny Pacquiao. However, Ray never fought a welterweight as good as Floyd, and Mayweather has never fought a welterweight as good as Robinson.

In a very real sense, both Ray and Floyd were not only the very best welterweights of their era, but one would have to search the history of the sport to find anyone besides Sugar Ray Leonard that might have beaten them in their primes.

Robinson competed in the era of 15-round title fights, with weigh-ins the morning of the bout. Floyd fights in the era of 12-round title fights, with weigh-ins the day before the bout. Still, both were highly-trained athletes, who tended to be at their peak at their fight weights, and not known for having trouble cutting weight, or gaining weight between the weigh-in and fight.

I would favor Ray to win by decision. He tended to throw more punches per round than Floyd, and that provides an advantage on the scorecards. However, Floyd hasn’t been pushed to where he has needed to throw more punches than he does; hence, one could argue that he would respond to Ray’s activity by increasing his own. Also, Robinson was not nearly as talented defensively as Mayweather. And if there was ever a welterweight smart enough to exploit Robinson’s weaknesses, it would surely be Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

What do you think?

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
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