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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 62,207

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A Question

A while back, I heard a talking head on television say: “Isis is no bad that even al Qaeda despises them.” And I remember thinking, “gosh,” when I heard that. Because for about a full decade, al Qaeda was definitely the most evil, deadly, vicious collection of mean people in the history of the human race. I mean, there aren’t many enemies who are so evil, deadly, vicious, and mean that almost the entire American public was happy to have strong and heroic leaders -- and I’m talking Bush-Cheney -- destroy the Constitution of the United States, in order to protect us.

I mean, al Qaeda hated us for our freedoms. So we submitted those freedoms to Bush and Cheney. And now, Isis hates us. Obviously, they can’t hate us for our freedoms now. So, like, what is their problem? In my quest to find the answer to that question, I have continued to watch and read the news. I took special interest in the experts, almost all of whom were soon saying, “Isis is so terrible, that even al Qaeda hates the.”

Now, I’m not the type of guy who would enjoy having any religious fanatic chop my head off. That just seems unpleasant to me. And while I enjoy talking/ listening to other people, including those who hold different opinions or beliefs than me, I’m not particularly interested in hearing out a religious fanatic who cuts other people’s heads off. If they cut their own head off, then maybe I’d be curious to hear their explanation of why they opted to do such a thing.

So, I’m good with the bit about Isis and al Qaeda being bad guys. Very bad guys. But I still haven’t heard anything that proves that Isis is so bad, that even al Qaeda hates them. Instead, I’ve heard more and more talking heads on my television repeating that.

Now, I know that before they changed the name of their team to “Isis,” some of them were known as “al Qaeda in Iraq.” That was the name our politicians and media gave them, though. It wasn’t like they came up with that name, and then took a vote. I suspect Bush-Cheney called them that, in part because the real al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq (they were in the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence). But, if there wasn’t any WMD or al Qaeda in Iraq, the American public might have questioned what the heck we were doing there. And if they knew the answer to that, they might actually have been less inclined to hand in their constitutional rights.

So, now we know that Isis is extra-evil, so much so that al Qaeda hates them. It’s one of those lines (almost left the “n” out) that prepares the American public that we absolutely need to attack them. For humanitarian reasons. We must! And to prevent their attacking us. We must! And to protect the American energy executives now inhabiting a city in northern Iraq.

Must we?

Help! Police!

I bought my house after it had set empty for a few years. The previous owner was a state police officer, who lost his job due to violence. As the property had belonged to my extended family previously, I was aware that this fellow had done quite a bit of damage before leaving. My house was a stage coach station -- and post office/ doctor’s office -- in the late 1700s. Thus, it was a shame when he destroyed the stairway’s posts and rail, etc. The numerous bullet holes through the walls and windows did not add an attractive touch, either.

What was rather interesting was that he left the legal papers, including a trial transcript, in an upstairs’ closet. It made for fascinating reading. He had pulled over a young, brown-skinned man for a suspected traffic violation. At least that’s what he said he pulled the guy over for. Since there was no ticket, one can consider the possibility that there was some other reason he pulled the kid over. (Did I mention that the young man had brown skin? Not saying that was the real reason. Or that it wasn’t. But it may have been a factor.)

The kid was escorted to the station. He must have been suspicious -- or even one of them there sneaky suspects who have no attribute that they’ve done anything wrong. Because the good officer handcuffed him to what we can accurately call “a suspect’s chair.” I should say that I realize some adults find other uses for handcuffs. I’m in no position to speculate, however, if what happened next was akin to a sexual experience for the officer. I am 100% certain that it was not for the victim.

According to the officer’s official report -- as well as his testimony -- the officer stepped out of the room for a few minutes. Indeed, police work can be hard work. Not doubting that for a second. Not even for a fraction of a second. He felt that either he needed a break, or was using the tried-and-true interrogation technique of letting the suspect stew in his feelings of guilt.

Now, if you believe the officer -- and apparently, no one did -- while he was out of the room, the suspicious, sneaky suspect stretched his neck out just over 16 feet, and repeatedly slammed his head against a soda machine. Bastard! The streets just ain’t safe with such criminals out there, preying on unsuspecting soda machines. God save the queen!

Luckily, the officer arrested the kid, and charged him with the destruction of property. Seriously.

But not everyone believed the officer. In the harsh, cold reality of our times, there are those who did not accept his word, even though it was clearly presented in an official police document. What is this world coming to? I mean, okay, he had no reason to pull the kid over, and certainly no good explanation of why he brought the kid to the station. At least, that’s what some would have you believe. (Likely ACLU conspiracy theorists, they.) But isn’t it at very least possible that this semi-highly trained officer of the law had a hunch -- call it what you will -- that this kid was out driving, and up to no good? Perhaps even planning to slam his head against a soda machine? And that there is only a thin, blue line (and some military equipment) that serves to protect us from this savage threat?

Re: Tap-dancing

I took part in a discussion on a thread that a friend started, and want to expand on a couple of points. Rather than post this on another thread, even if my friend would not be offended by my rudeness, I’ll try an OP. Here goes:

The militarization of domestic police forces is a serious issue. More, it’s a symptom that our constitutional democracy isn’t functioning properly. This should be important to everyone. Yet, as another friend noted, we do not really see many of the national “leaders” -- from either party -- speaking out on it.

Now, in order to put the topic in its correct historical context, we need to look back to the Nixon presidency. For it was during Nixon’s first term that an aide named Tom Huston was tasked with creating a plan to coordinate domestic police agencies at all levels -- from village, to town, to city, to county, to state -- with the national intelligence agencies, including military intelligence.

This became known when John Dean testified to the Senate committee investigating Watergate. Dean also provided substantial documentation that proved, despite the Nixon administration’s “official” record, that the program was instituted. The committee would release some of that documentation; however, they immediately filed much of it away per “national security.”

What’s amazing is that Nixon -- a lawyer -- went on record saying that although he recognized it was entirely illegal, he gave the Huston Plan his permission to move forward. He would then complain when it wasn’t happening fast enough for his liking.

More, none other than J. Edgar Hoover would make clear that he would not cooperate with the Executive Office on this. Not because he was in any sense a noble supporter of truth and justice. Hoover certainly had “shared staff” with army intelligence for years. But he was intent upon guarding his turf. There was a time when the FBI was domestic, and the CIA was international. But that clearly isn’t the case today.

Fast-forward to February, 1973. A group of Native Americans at Wounded Knee were, according to the Nixon administration and the media, “occupying” the hamlet. It was, of course, Indian Territory, according to federal law. Still, the Nixon administration reacted by having the US Army respond, to take over Wounded Knee. The media frequently referred to the soldiers as “US government law-enforcement.” It was an ugly time.

Now, fast-forward to today. Let’s take Ferguson, for example. People who were exercising their constitutional rights were confronted by a police-military response. Or, by a military-police response. No matter what we call it, the truth is that troops were sent in to occupy a city, and its residents were viewed by those occupying forces as “others.” And other than residents.

A few lone politicians have spoken out on this issue. In general, the media ignores them. And none of the politicians, from either party, who are in positions of political power, say boo about it. Now, lots of community leaders, and some journalists, are addressing it. In fact, on Lawrence O”Donnell’s show right now, he is exposing one of the sick police officer from Ferguson, who threatened demonstrators with his gun. Hardly surprising, the show played an internet clip, where that same cop was telling a crowd of sick people about his own international investigation to “prove” that President Obama was born in Kenya.

Now, how do you think those in power will respond if people across the country begin attempting to exercise local control in their towns and cities?

Yet, people must organize. And take part in their communities, and do things such as vote. But there isn’t a politician in DC who is going to work to de-militarize domestic police forces, under the current circumstances. Hence, the best alternative for patriot citizens today is to organize non-violent groups of activists. And not just the usual folks who are already passionate, and active participants in social-political movements. We need more than that. And I’m not suggesting that anyone pick a fight, or anything like that. But when the people in places like Ferguson are under the gun, we should have thousands of volunteers, from across the country, who head to the hot spot, and “sit-in” peacefully with those people.

Just my opinion.
H2O Man

President Obama and the Michael Brown case

I have noticed that a number of people question why President Obama has not spoken more about the murder of Michael Brown. The reason the president has not done so is simple: he isn’t stupid.

Many of us here are old enough to remember a Monday afternoon in August of 1970 -- August 3rd, actually -- when then-President Richard Nixon spoke to reporters in Denver. Nixon, himself an attorney, used the on-going trial of Charlie Manson & family to try to scold the press. Taking the type of cheap shot that illustrated his hatred for the media, the president accused the media of using their “front pages” daily to present Manson as “a glamorous figure.”

“Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders,” Nixon told reporters. On the record.

That, of course, made the next day’s headlines. And it raised the potential for a mistrial. Although the jury was sequestered, there was a risk that one or more jurors could be exposed to the presidents’ foolish remark.

Indeed, Manson would hold up a copy of the LA Times the following morning, The jury was then voir dired, to evaluate if the process was tainted. (One juror told the judge, “I didn’t vote for him, anyhow”!)

Members of the executive and/or legislative branches are not supposed to voice their opinion of a potential, or on-going, criminal trial. This is President Obama is not speaking about this case specifically.

Carry on.

Officer Ferguson Unplugged

"The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down. ...."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/15/the-day-ferguson-cops-were-caught-in-a-bloody-lie.html

This is an important factor in understanding what is going on today.

Rain

“Hate can only produce hate. That’s why all these wars are going on, all this insanity. There’s too much anger in the US. People are too afraid, too numbed out. We need to wipe out all this hatred, fear, distrust, and violence. We need to understand, forgive, and love.”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

On Wednesday, April 25, 2001, Rubin spoke at SUNY-Binghamton, in NYS’s “Southern Tier.” During his presentation, while telling how angry he was after being wrongly convicted of a brutal hate crime, Rubin heard my 4-year old scolding her 7-year old sister. “That’s it! That’s it! That’s exactly how angry I was!,” Rubin said, before cracking up laughing.

When he caught his breath, Rubin introduced my daughters and I to the audience. And after the show, Rubin delighted in “chasing” my little girls about, “threatening” to tickle them. After pretending to run from him, both girls ran smack-dab into the Hurricane’s outstretched arms.

Eventually, Rubin had to catch a plane to his next stop. As we headed to our car in the parking lot, my wife asked me if I had noticed Rubin’s brief, but intense, reaction when he was hugging the girls? She asked how old Rubin’s daughter was, when he had first been incarcerated on what became his 20-year journey? Indeed, our daughter’s age.

The following morning, I was contacted by a professor from SUNY-B who was writing a book on the Power of Forgiveness. She asked if I might try to get Rubin to contribute a chapter. Her book focused primarily on her attempts to forgive her parents, for the hell that had been her childhood. The above quote is from Rubin’s chapter of that book. Likewise, the following one is:

“Lois raises an intriguing question. Like pain is pain, suffering is suffering -- whether being wrongly imprisoned, wrongly placed in a concentration camp, or wrongly abused as a child. But pain is a component of suffering, but not suffering itself. There are no degrees of suffering.”

This nation is suffering from fear, hatred, and violence. Small surprise, as this is the present condition around the globe. Yet, as an Earthling inhabiting a tiny plot within the US, I tend to focus on this nation. The US is saturated with the inevitable violence that is a component of hatred. The US fears and hates; the US is feared and hated; and the nation’s response is to export more violence. It is a cycle that builds momentum, and today we witness violence and suffering in our nation that is unjustified: teens shot and killed by police for having black skin; peaceful protests hijacked by rioters; and a government in DC that has become hatred itself.

The ONLY thing that can counter this force is the individual. There is no politician or other “leader” who can stop the growth of violence and suffering. It is an error in thinking to look to a president or religious leader to make that change happen. It’s up to you and me.

Rubin frequently quoted Mark Twain: “Bitterness contaminates the vessel that contains it.” I often struggle with negative thoughts and feelings, myself. While we all, as unique individuals (or, as Rube would say, “miracles”) have to find our unique path. For me, for example, I spent the past few days preparing for a sweat lodge ceremony. Two close friends came over yesterday, and we enjoyed a good ceremony. One of my friends has been seriously depressed for the past eight months. The ceremony, with the air, soil, stones, fire, plants, and water does not remove the tough things we face in life. But it helps to allow us to put things in their proper context.

Towards the end of the ceremony, when the rocks had cooled, and the only noise inside the lodge was that of a few sandstone rocks cracking, we listened to the songs of the birds outside. The song-birds were dining at the nearby bird-feeders. And then, a light rain began to fall.

Peace,
H2O Man

Process

I have been watching the cable news reports about republicans in the House of Representatives both advocating and denying efforts to impeach President Barack Obama. Currently, it is the rabid right-wing that is publicly threatening to pursue impeachment. Speaker Boehner has moved to file a civil suit against the president, while promoting the position that it could reduce the pressure to impeach.

As a student of American political history, I urge forum members to take a very close look at this. I believe that the republican party will, no matter how this fall’s elections go, move forward on impeachment. Why? The short answer is “because it is the wrong thing to do.” A more complete answer is enhanced by focusing on three books.

The first is Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s 1973 classic, “The Imperial Presidency” (Houghton Mifflin). The author documents the historic tendency for all presidents to try to expand executive power. These attempts were exclusively -- up to the book’s publication -- under the guise of war powers and national security. It is in these actions that a president might commit one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that requires impeachment.

Older forum members will recall the Watergate era, when Richard Nixon faced an impeachment in the House, which surely would have resulted in a conviction in the Senate. Likewise, they will remember when Congress failed to proceed with articles of impeachment against Ronald Reagan, for the Iran-Contra crimes. Both are outstanding examples of exactly what impeachment is intended to remedy.

It was not intended to remove a president for lying about a sexual affair. Nor is it intended to destroy a president for attempting to assist 50,000 refugee children. Both of these are examples of exactly what is not intended as grounds for impeachment. Indeed, the current example is the exact opposite, for it is a president appealing to a nation’s humanity.

When Congress impeaches for true “high crimes and misdemeanors,” it strengthens our constitutional democracy. When Congress fails to do so, or --worse -- abuses the process, it institutionalizes damage to our constitutional form of government. (Note: in both cases, our focus needs to be on “process.” When the “free press” largely ignores process, but attempts to distract the public’s attention with the glitter -- or stain -- of “personality,” it, too, betrays its duties.)

The second book is “The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America. And How to Get It Back on Track,” by Mann & Ornstein (Oxford; 2006). The authors take a bipartisan look at how the right-wing of the republican party began to destroy Congress -- starting with the House of Representatives -- around 1996. The authors focus a significant amount of attention on how this involved derailing appropriate, constitutional process.

The third book is John W. Dean’s “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches” (Penguin; 2007). Dean, of course, played a significant role in Watergate, and in its eventual unraveling. This book was the third in a three-part series that he authored during the Bush-Cheney years. The other two are “Worse Than Watergate” (2004), and “Conservatives Without Conscience” (2006), both of which are still extremely important books. However, it is not essential to read them in order of publication; thus, for this discussion, I recommend “Broken Government.”

In it, Dean invests a great deal of effort in explaining why correct “process” is essential for us, if we seek to have a constitutional form of government. The other option is corporate government. That Dean was, and remains to a large extent, a “Goldwater Republican” brings about an interesting, even vital, point: many in the Democratic Party -- including solid members of this forum -- embraced Dean, when “Worse Than Watergate” was published.

Dean became a regular guest on several of MSNBC’s nightly line-up. His ability to communicate impressed many here, including some of us who remember him very well from the Watergate era. I think that there was enough “common ground” between this ex-convict, Goldwater republican, that people here understood that in the fight to preserve our constitutional democracy, we do not have the luxury of holding onto old grudges.

Just as constitutional government requires correct process, the utter destruction of constitutional government requires the abuse of process. Both are pathways; the first, to imperfect government that constantly rewards efforts to create a more perfect union, versus a corporate government, that inflicts a perverse nationalism, by which it divides citizens, and unleashes gross violence upon foreign lands.

I have never felt it is my right to tell anyone else who to vote for. I’m not offended when people prefer a different candidate than me. However, in 2014, I do believe that it is extremely important that all of us -- each and every one -- does vote. And while I have long found “the lesser of two evils” to be highly offensive, I would like to remind forum members that these elections will have significant consequences. And I’ll end with a reminder that has been attributed to Buddha: “Our error would be to believe we have time.”

Food for Thought

For sake of discussion: imagine a rather large family, in which members from generations have been politically active since the late 1800s. Most of that family has belonged to the Democratic Party, although there have been a few republicans in recent decades. Now, while it may be tempting to keep republicans in the attic, that’s no longer a common practice. (There are no middle-aged republicans living in their mothers’ basements, posting horseshit upon the internet with wild abdomen, though.)

Now, suppose that this extended family includes a fairly wide range of adults, now in the “middle age” group, spread across the country. Various cousins may be active in a variety of social-political activities, including from the local, grass roots level, to state, and even national levels. Surely, these people take an active interest in congressional and presidential elections.

This raises a question: Is it likely, even probable, that they all hold the exact same point of view during the primary seasons? All agree on a specific candidate, from Day One? Not see the possibility that a contested primary can be good for the party, perhaps by moving one candidate to the left, before the general election moves the nominee to the middle-right?

I guess that is possible in a made-for-tv movie, or a cheap novel. But I doubt it is an accurate description of any extended family in our country.

It is likely that a majority of a traditional Democratic Party family will see the party itself as offering the best, most viable opportunity to promote the nation’s welfare. Yet, besides the majority of good democrats, and family defects who identify with the republican party, there are going tio be two other sub-groups.

The first are those who identify with the Democratic Left. Although they generally vote for democratic candidates, they listen to people on the Left. And they agree with the Left on a lot of issues.

The second group tends to vote for democratic candidates, but they recognize that in far too many instances, there is very little difference between a democrat or a republican when it comes to issues such as the influence of corporations in government. Hence, on an issue such as the struggle to protect the living environment from hydrofracking, they know that they must speak the same language to members of both parties.

Both the first and second group also tend to realize that, unless citizens become more active -- and in more sophisticated a manner than the general grass roots has been for decades -- and harness political power on a local level, there is really no chance of meaningful change at the national level. The corporate puppets from both parties lack the capacity to do the right thing, as a result of conscience. No, that will never happen.

It seems curious to me, that in recent months, a specific group of forum members focus great attention on discrediting those who belong to the Democratic Left, or who recognize the threat of corporate control over politicians from both major parties. Why, you’d think that Ralph Nader was as bad as old Dick Cheney. And, if you read DU:GD regularly, you can think of other curious examples.

As democrats, we should not allow our minds to be placed in a straight-jacket. We are not actually limited in options in terms of how or what to think -- that’s for republicans and corporate stooges. We need to think outside the box. Beyond the limitations that our opponents try to impose. And on different levels than our enemies try to mandate, when they try to define what a good democrat must be.

Just my opinion.

Peace,
H2O Man

Nixon by Nixon (Your Opinion, Please)

“Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words” will be featured on HBO tonight (9pm/est). I would strongly recommend that everyone who is able -- though I realize not everyone has access to HBO -- watch this documentary. Invite yourself over to a neighbor’s, a friend’s, or a relative’s house, if need be. Even watch it with your redneck uncle, if you have to. It will definitely be worth it.

Here is a link to a Washington Post article about the documentary:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/hbos-nixon-by-nixon-on-tape-the-heart-of-darkness/2014/08/03/42a7355c-1926-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html

There are several books that have been released to generate sales during the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s historic resignation. They have value. No question about that.

But more important, by far, is for citizens -- you and I -- to listen to the tapes that Richard Nixon never dreamed would come back to haunt him. The interpretation of these strange recordings should not be left to historians alone: our Constitutional democracy depends upon our understanding of corruption in Washington, DC.

I will say that I feel particularly strongly about this, because I understand that one of the primary duties of the United States Senate is to educate the American public. And, for a brief season, the Senate engaged in an effort to do exactly that. They may have been handcuffed, by both loyalty to the system that enriched them, and by fear of the darker forces that controlled the nation. But, again, for a brief time, the US Senate showed character --and not based upon party affiliation.

Last week, we had an intense OP/thread discussion of 1968. In that same spirit, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Nixon, Watergate, the Congressional investigations, and the resignation.

Thank you,
H2O Man

Your Opinion, Please

Question: If you were on a board -- be it a school, town, city, or any similar elected position -- and you were convinced that the majority of other members were engaging in unethical behavior, what would you likely do?

The options, as I see them, are as follows:

A: Quietly serve out your term;

B: Work towards getting other qualified people to consider running, in a five-year plan; or

C: Call the news media to an up-coming meeting, and along with the other ethical board member, make a strong statement about why the two of you are resigning;

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer …..the only potentially wrong one, would to become one with those who are definitely unethical. I appreciate any thoughts that forum members may have.

Peace,
H2O Man
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