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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 65,362

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Fire and Ice

“Fear is the primary motivator of sheep or slaves, or at least those slaves who have never attempted to regain their freedom. If, because of fear, we go against what we feel deep down to be real, right, good, and true, then we go against ourselves.”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; Eye of the Hurricane; page 6.


Fear saturates our society. I have encountered it in talking to activists, union members, social workers, boxers, and a wide range of other folks that I’ve talked to in recent weeks. I see it on the television and in newspapers. More, fear mutates and becomes hatred, which politicians peddle like snake oil salesmen.

Buddha said, “Do not be afraid.” In the gospel of Matthew -- which contains some 15 Buddha-like sayings -- one reads the prophet Jesus saying, “Do not worry” (6:25) and twice saying, “Do not be afraid” (14:27 & 17). In more modern times, prophets including Gandhi, King, and Malcolm X spoke about the damage that fear does to individuals and society.

Yet people, even “great” individuals, feel fear from time to time. Indeed, the human brain evolved in a manner that made fear a function for survival. That same structure that created the general wariness which helped our ancestors survive on the savannahs in Africa still exists; however, the anxiety and fear from former times often limit’s the quality of life for modern mankind. There is a difference between fear of poison snakes in, say, the Amazon jungles, than in Atlanta apartment buildings.

There is also a difference between the poison snakes that crawl on the ground, and those that inhabit Fox News and the Republican Party. But, before going there, I’d like to focus on an issue relating to early childhood development that is important. At least I think it is.

Parents have the opportunity, and obligation, to teach youngsters four building-blocks that will help them deal with those challenges and stumbling blocks that people encounter when they enter the larger society. These are, in order, that the child is: (1) loveable; (2) worthwhile; (3) capable; and (4) responsible. Thus, the parent(s) communicate that: I love you; you are worth my time, and I enjoy spending time with you; you can accomplish what you set your mind to; and I trust you to think for yourself.

Even with a firm foundation made of these four building blocks, the larger society can be difficult to navigate. For our culture has purposely lied to people for many years. It has taught far, far too many people that they are not loveable or worthwhile, for example, because of the color of their skin, their weight, their sexual identity, and many other factors. More, it has defined the female as less capable and responsible than the male. And while it is certainly true that our society has made progress in many of these areas, the fact remains that American culture does not provide a level playing field.

The very concept that a clown like George W. Bush could be considered for president, much less be installed by the US Supreme Court despite losing the 2000 election, would be considered a joke in a healthy society. Yet, not only was he installed into that office, but he used fear and hatred to shred the Constitution, and promote never-ending warfare abroad. And while I hesitate to say anything that could be mistaken as giving George W. Bush credit for anything, it is accurate to say that the forces he fronted for not only saturated American society with toxic fears and hatreds, they promoted the growth of destructive social inequalities and injustices that require each of us to overcome our fears and hatreds in order to prevent the utter destruction of this country.

There is no “leader” that can do this for us. There is no man or women who can do for us what we need to do for ourselves. No politician could do it, even if they wanted to. No Gandhi, King, or Malcolm to lead us to some promised land. For better or for worse, it’s up to us. You and me.

I’ve spoken a great deal about the sport of boxing on DU over the years. As a boxer, then a trainer/manager of amateur and professional fighters, I learned about fear. The great wizard of boxing, Cus D’Amato, used to say that everyone who gets into that ring knows fear. That’s true: you begin to experience it in the weeks and days before a bout, and you sure as heck feel it the day of a bout. It builds as you arrive at the arena, and grows while you prepare to enter the ring. And everyone from the amateur ranks to the sport’s greatest champions has to deal with that fear.

Cus compared fear to fuel. He often said that the coward is consumed by that fuel, while the hero transforms it into the fire required to win. In that sense, I can say -- only slightly tongue in cheek -- that all of human life imitates the Great Sport.

Obviously, there are differences. In boxing, one uses that fuel in order to not only exploit the weaknesses in the opponent’s style, but also to be able to turn their strengths against them. For that is the brutal reality of boxing: one seeks to inflict organ damage with body punches, and to render the opponent either unconscious, or otherwise unable to continue, with punches to his head. However, tempting as it may be at times, we should not take this approach in socio-political activism.

In order to institute meaningful change, we need to engage in individual and group campaigns of nonviolence, in the manner of Gandhi and King. This is the most effective way of creating avenues towards progress. It is also the most difficult, and requires the greatest strength.

When we read about Gandhi and King’s campaigns for social justice, we see that these exercises in nonviolence were transformational. On the surface, it is apparent that both Gandhi and King focused their nonviolence on the opposition, as well as the undecided people in the larger society. Equally important, but too frequently overlooked, it allowed for both men to have the patience needed to deal with the internal conflicts that so often threatened the movements they helped to lead.

Many of those who worked with Gandhi and King were often engaged in heated internal struggles. These were conflicts over tactics, and other issues. Under the stresses that social movements always face, even petty jealousies surface. These are known as “power struggles.” It was largely due to their commitment to nonviolence -- specifically the ability to have an open mind, admit to errors, and accept that others will have different views and even unattractive personal shortcomings -- that Gandhi and King are recognized as being the most powerful, influential member of their movements.

Such an approach is definitely needed in society today. Heck, I even think it might make this forum a more meaningful place to discuss social and political issues …..even the more emotionally volatile ones.

Peace,
H2O Man

Two Questions

{1} Who do you think was a more honorable leader: Dick Cheney or Hugo Chavez?

{2} Why?

Fracking on Ice

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AP: “NY Fracking Held, as Cuomo, RFK, Jr. Talk Health

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came as close as he ever has to approving fracking last month, laying out a limited drilling plan for as many as 40 gas wells before changing course to await the findings of a new study after discussions with environmentalist and former brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy Jr., several people familiar with his thinking told The Associated Press.

The turning point, which could delay a decision for up to a year or longer, came in a series of phone calls with Kennedy. The two discussed a new health study on the hydraulic fracturing drilling method that could be thorough enough to trump all others in a debate that has split New York for five years.

"I think the issue suddenly got simple for him," Kennedy told the AP, then went on to paraphrase Cuomo in their discussions: "'If it's causing health problems, I really don't want it in New York state. And if it's not causing health problems, we should figure out a way we can do it.'"

Kennedy and two other people close to Cuomo, who spoke to the AP only on condition of anonymity because Cuomo is carefully guarding his discussions on the issue, confirmed the outlines of the plan the governor was considering to allow 10 to 40 test wells in economically depressed southern New York towns that want drilling and the jobs it promises. The plan would allow the wells to operate under intense monitoring by the state to see if fracking should continue or expand. ……

See more at:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ap-ny-fracking-held-cuomo-rfk-jr-talk-18636918


(Note: The Good Fight continues! I should have more “news” related to this soon. -- Patrick)

Cult Diary

Thursday/ February 14, 2013

1 pm/est: I spoke at the State University College at Oneonta this morning. The professor introduced me as “the most influential civil rights/environmental activist in our area for the past few decades.” I nearly cracked up laughing at that. ‘Spect that explains why this area is as hurting as it is.

2:30 pm/est: Twelve completed health surveys were in the Tri-County Bipartisan Committee’s mail box at the Post Office. One was from an 80-year old man, who wrote, “I smell an agenda here!”

2:55 pm/est: Tonight’s school board subcommittee meeting is postponed until next week. On one hand, I think that there is far more than enough to do, to have held the meeting. On the other hand, I suspect that whoever scheduled it for Valentine’s Day was not thinking. On one foot, I could attend the Otego Village Board meeting tonight; on the left foot, I could go instead to the Sidney Town Board meeting. Both are scheduled to vote on moratoriums on fracking.

4:18 pm/est: Going out for Valentine’s Day dinner.

11:16 pm/est: Ended up going to the Sidney meeting. Supervisor Bob McCarthy started the clown show by challenging the minutes from last month’s meeting. He denied saying several things attributed to him. When told that three people had filmed the meeting, and recorded him saying exactly what the minutes attributed to him, he went on a rant about not caring what citizens say. This would seem to confirm rumors that he was shit-faced drunk at last month’s meeting.

I was among the people who gave 5-minute presentations to the board. When questioned if I was a Sidney resident, I said no, but I may rent here soon, so that I can challenge Bob in this fall’s election. Then I spoke about the epidemiological study of the village’s population, with some attention to two cancer-clusters that happen to be located in neighborhoods that are at the edges of a couple toxic industrial waste dump sites. I noted that some of these same toxins are used in hydrofracking, and said I would be happy to present our final report to the board in an upcoming meeting.

Three more human beings spoke, before an older woman that I’ve never seen before took the floor. Although she was supposed to be addressing the board, she instead took the opportunity to tell the pro-environment people that they were “idiots.” Then she focused upon me: “And you are an environmental cult leader!” After finishing up, she returned to her seat, which was next to mine. She then repeated this line a few times, while giving me what could most pleasantly be described as a hate stare. I thanked her for her kindness.

Curious day, all in all. I think that Ideas are influential. In that vein, I hope the college students took note of the concepts I talked about, rather than the strange old man who was talking about them. That would be my agenda. And that “cult” exists only within the angry lady’s head. It must be uncomfortable to have such diseased thinking.

SUCO

I'm getting ready to go to the State University College at Oneonta (SUCO) to speak on environmental issues.

I had prepared an outline a few days back. But I woke up this morning at 3:30 with a different presentation in mind.

For many years, I've enjoyed speaking to students in schools and colleges. Today should be fun: the professor wants me to motivate these young adults to become political activists. I'll do my best.

Throwaway

“The Nixon theoreticians even tried to transform reverence into an ideology, propagating the doctrine, rather novel in the United States, that institutions of authority were entitled to respect per se, whether or not they had done anything to earn respect. If authority were denied respect, the syllogism ran, the whole social order would be in danger. ‘Your task, then, is clear,’ my friend Pat Moynihan charged his President in 1969: ‘To restore the authority of American institutions.’ But should institutions expect obedience they do not, on their record of performance, deserve? To this question the Nixon ideologues apparently answered yes. An older American tradition would say no, incredulous that anyone would see this as a question. In that spirit I would argue that what this country needs today is a little serious disrespect for the office of the Presidency; a refusal to give any more weight to a President’s words than the intelligence of the utterance, if spoken by anyone else, would command; an understanding of the point made so aptly by Montaigne: ‘Sit he on never so high a throne, a man still sits on his own bottom.’

“And what if men not open and modest, even at the start, but from the start ambitious of power and contemptuous of law reached the place once occupied by Washington and Lincoln? What if neither personal character, nor play of politics, nor the Constitution itself availed to hold a President to strict accountability?”
-- Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; The Imperial Presidency; 1973; pages 410-411.


I enjoyed a long telephone conversation with my brother last night. He is employed by the University of Oregon, and in that capacity, has had the opportunity to become more familiar with the work of a professor who studies climate change. Coming from that perspective, he voiced frustration with President Obama, who he believes -- while certainly better than a George W. Bush or Willard Romney -- is not aggressive enough in challenging the system of economic exploitation that enriches the 1% while poisoning the living environment.

In his opinion, President Obama is hesitant to engage in conflicts where he does not have a good chance of winning. I mentioned that health care and common sense gun control were tough issues, where President Obama risked/risks failure. He countered that Obama is always willing to compromise with the republicans who front for corporate interests, and noted that in the context of a damaged environment, human beings’ health suffers -- was this not exactly the point of my epidemiological study of Sidney, NY? He said that any serious attempt to improve medical services would have to address the toxins that are poisoning the American people. He said that he had more respect for someone like me, who would attempt to win the Good Fight, even when the odds were very much against me, than a politician who constantly compromises with corporate interests.

One could easily dismiss my brother’s positions by saying he doesn’t understand how things are accomplished in our system. Yet, if one is familiar with our system of government, including being fully aware of both how our constitutional system is supposed to work, and how Washington actually does work, his position seems valid. Let’s consider the example of President Obama’s drone program.

Schlesinger’s book on the “Imperial Presidency” is useful in defining some of the dynamics at play in the drone controversy. It really should, at least in my opinion, be required reading for high school students. The author describes how the majority of US Presidents attempt to increase the power of the executive branch of the government. To do so requires a weakening of three important things: the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, and of the Constitution.

While Schlesinger’s primary target was then President Richard Nixon, he documents the manner in which Presidents expand executive power: it is always done with “national security” as justification. More, in the modern era, the claim is made that advances in technology, which the Founding Fathers could not possibly have foreseen, require this President to take bold steps towards protecting democracy ….while trampling the US Constitution.

Now let’s look at some of the consequences. We will start with none other than Richard Nixon, at the time he served as vice president. Nixon, as I have previously noted on this forum, was not the weak figure that many believe he was as VP. (It is fair to question if President Eisenhower was fully aware of much that VP Nixon was up to.) For example, Nixon played a leading role in dictating US policy towards Central and South America. The most famous example of this is found in the origins of the doomed operation known as the Bay of Pigs. This is important because, at the time Nixon became vice president, the CIA was supposed to be a 100% intelligence agency, meaning to gather and evaluate information. The Bay of Pigs would highlight the dangers of having an intelligence group become operational in military matters.

Fast forward to the Nixon presidency, and those same dangers become more pronounced. While the “Nixon ideologues” would hold that this was to spread democracy abroad, no informed person could deny that Nixon’s misuse of intelligence and police agencies posed a serious threat to our constitutional democracy. Indeed, one of the most damning facts that the various post-Watergate congressional investigating committees uncovered was the history of the CIA’s attempts to assassinate foreign leaders -- though not with drones -- at the same time the executive office was having intelligence and police agencies attacking American groups and individuals who were exercising their constitutional right to protest the President’s domestic and foreign policies.

It is impossible for an administration to enhance democracy, either at home or abroad, by way of secret policies that break Constitutional Law. This simply cannot be done. Rather, such policies can only enhance the strength of non-democratic institutions, such as the corporations destroying the environment for financial gain, and increase the amount of hatred for America in foreign lands.

These are the types of issues that create tensions and divisions within the Democratic Party. And I’ll include those who, while not registered Democrats, helped to elect and re-elect President Obama. As is said so often, there are those who despised George W. Bush for violating the Constitution, but who accept President Obama’s engaging in much the same activities. And there are those who do not believe we should be the Democratic Party, Inc. We see that even here, on the Democratic Underground.

Peace,
H2O Man

Beyonce & Illuminati

I'm getting ready to go do some more "door-to-door" work on the epidemiological study that I'm working on.

When I get back this afternoon, I'll be re-writing drafts of op-eds that I'm submitting to two area newspapers.

This evening, I'll try to write up an outline for an upcoming talk at one of the state universities that invited me to speak about environmental issues.

Later tonight, if possible, I'd like to do at least a bit of writing on the book that I need to get to my agent in May.

Thus, it appears unlikely that I will be available to participate in extended discussions about last night's half-time show. I didn't see it -- or the Super Bowl, as I was doing other things. But my oldest son, who stopped by last night at 11 pm/est, said that he thinks Beyonce is cool.

Three Daze

“And while the pope owns 51% of general motors
the stock exchange is the only thing he’s qualified to quote us.”
-- George Harrison; Awaiting on You All



What a difference a day can make.

Two days ago, I spent some time going door-to-door in the most polluted community in Delaware County, in upstate New York, handing out the health survey that is part of our epidemiological study there. The majority of people were polite and interested; two voiced concerns that I was “attacking” one industry, but agreed to participate; and one person was unwilling to consider taking part in it.

(That individual reminded me of a story that the Hurricane told me years ago: a man was going door to door, taking a survey on what people considered to be a bigger problem -- ignorance or apathy? One man said, “I don’t know, and I don’t care!”, before slamming the door shut.)

I was tired when I got home, and being rather pathetic in my old age, fell on the ice in my driveway. Mind you, I boxed hundreds of fights, and sparred thousands of rounds, and never was knocked out cold before. First time for everything.

I spent much of yesterday celebrating feeling mighty sorry for myself, only to be interrupted by an associate. But to explain the significance of this, we must briefly head to Ohio.

In Ohio, a gas company has been pressuring a friend of my associate, to sign a lease that would allow the company to destroy their property to make money for some executives who don’t live in Ohio. The landowner made clear the company reps were not welcome there, and so they left in a huff. But rather than kicking the dust off their feet as they left, as prescribed by the Good Book, they instead dropped a document on the ground. (The moral of the story is, of course, do not leave in a huff.)

The document is marked “SECRET,” as it outlines five pages of “talking points,” ranging from how to avoid the truth, to how to distort the truth, to how to outright lie to the public about the dangers of “fracking.” Now, I have that formerly secret document.

Gracious!

Today, I have decided to attend a town board meeting in a community in yet another upstate county, where an effort to prevent hydrofracking is being met with intense pressure by the gas industry. Although I really do not feel up to doing much more than snoring, I cannot ignore the requests from that area’s grass roots leadership that I go.

Some local news media will be there, too. And as I have been asked to speak, I’ve spent a bit of time studying the five-page formerly secret document that I’ll be bringing with me, to distribute to both the board and the media.

With patience, as Rubin likes to say, even the smallest animal can climb the highest mountain.

Peace,
H2O Man

Where Sod Meets Sky

“Whenever our people are ready to take any kind of action necessary to get results, they’ll get results. They’ll never get results so long as they play by the ground rules laid down by the power structure.”
-- Minister Malcolm X; WBIA-FM radio interview; January 28, 1965.


Yesterday, as a friend and I handed out the “health survey” that is part of our epidemiological study of the most polluted community in New York State, our pace was slowed by the number of people who wanted to talk with us. These are people from a wide range of backgrounds and social statuses, but they have one significant thing in common: after years, even decades, of concerns and frustrations regarding living in a contaminated environment, they believe that someone is finally paying attention to them.

One of the first people we spoke with is an elderly gentleman. He is well-educated, though he suffers from a major mental illness and is now classified as “disabled.” He told us that, in his opinion, human beings are born one of two ways: potentially intelligent, or potentially republican. He also made an interesting point: “I’ll give President Obama credit for the killing of Usama bin Laden. But, by the same measure, he has to be credited with the killing of innocent children with drone attacks.”

Others expressed anger that the local, state, and federal government has ignored their needs, despite the fact that their properties were severely damaged by major floods in 2006 and 2011. Several neighborhoods located near the community’s large military industry were left to deal with literally hundreds of barrels of toxic wastes polluting their properties. One man told us that, a week after the flood, he saw employees from the industry actually emptying barrels of waste over his fence, onto his back lawn. They ignored him when he told them to stop, so he began taking photographs to document what they were doing. They called the police, who told the man that if he didn’t stop “harassing” the workers, they would arrest him.

He said that he called some state officials, but they never responded. I said that I would assist him in getting a response.

The most troubling thing we heard came a block away. A young man told us that his five year old daughter had died from cancer, a disease that is not common in his wife or his extended families. He said that a health official told them that they should not have consumed the produce from their garden, as -- unknown to them -- they lived on the edge of a toxic industrial waste dump site. He thanked us for what we were doing, and said that he hoped our effort might help save other families from dealing with the type of tragedy that they have to deal with.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m old, and deal with physical disabilities myself. But I went back today, and spent some time handing out the health survey in another neighborhood. I listened to a young man (40 seems young to me these days) who is dealing with chemotherapy. He vented for a few minutes about all of the pollution from the industry, that is poisoning the local population. He tired quickly though, cutting our conversation short. As I was leaving his porch, he said, “Hey! Thanks for what you’re doing.”

I’ll be going back to that community tomorrow. I’m tired out, and sore as hell. But I believe that what I’m doing is important.

Peace,
H2O Man

Please Help !

“The shale army has arrived. Resistance is futile.”
-- Bill Gwozd, v.p, of gas services for Ziff Energy.



“I choose not to believe the second half of that statement.

“The shale army is an accident-prone, carcinogen-dependent industry with no boundaries. The shale army seeks to use our land as its beachhead, our water as its battering ram, and our air as its receptacle for its toxic fumes. The proposed regs for New York are no defense. They do not prohibit flare stacks, open pits, or indefinite venting of toxic gases.

“Resistance is not only necessary, it feels like a fundamental responsibility of parenthood.

“There is nothing more important. Not your kid's soccer practice. Not your yoga class. Not your career. We still have a chance here-in the still unfractured state of New York-to stop a brutal and extreme form of fossil fuel extraction, to show the world how to build a green energy economy, and to help Governor Cuomo keep his promise to lead on climate change. All that necessitates saying NO to fracking. Our children's lives depend on our success.”
-- Dr. Sandra Steingraber



On Wednesday, January 9, Governor Andrew Cuomo will be delivering his “State of the State” address in Albany, NY. There will be a large pro-environmental safety, anti-fracking rally from 11 am to 3 pm, outside the auditorium where Governor Cuomo is speaking. Should any forum members be in the Albany area, I would strongly recommend that they attend the rally.

Because most folks on the Democratic Underground are not in the Albany area, I would like to suggest another way that you can support our effort. Please call Governor Cuomo’s office, to let him know that you oppose hydrofracking. The number is:

(518) 474-8390

Calls should be made today, tomorrow, and on Wednesday. There are two important points to be made: first, the Governor should not make any decision until the results of his health-impact study are completed; and second, Governor Cuomo should consider the results of the epidemiology now being conducted in the village of Sidney (as reported upon on the front page of the January 3 edition of that community’s weekly newspaper, The Tri-Town News).

Thank you for your participation. And, if possible, I hope that you will consider assisting me in keeping this OP/thread “current” on the General Discussion forum.
Peace,
H2O Man
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