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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 66,953

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2020

I watched the first two rounds of debates with great interest. While it goes without saying, I thought that any one of the Democratic Party candidates would be a far better president than the current White House occupant. I believe that each one represents an important segment of our party, and that we will need to harness the supporters of each one to not only win the presidential election, but to hopefully win the Senate.

Not all of the candidates have an equal chance of winning the party's nomination, of course. So I found myself looking at a few of them as potential vice presidential candidates. And I think that there are some outstanding options there. I found that I would gladly support any ticket the Democratic Party puts forth.

Then came the horrors of this past weekend. One aspect of it that sticks out for me is that it serves as a preview of Trump's America should he somehow be re-elected – including by another theft such as in 2016. There is no question that things will continue to get worse, and that would include more extreme violence by the brain-dead white nationalists. And it won't be limited to their using military-grade guns.

Thus far, we've witnessed the extreme damage that such guns cause when used by disturbed individuals. Some of these individuals, such as the dick in El Paso, communicate with other equally disturbed individuals who want to be part of Trump's war on non-white people. But there are others who are in more organized groups that would take another four years of Trump as license to engage in more explosive attacks on society. And the key word here is “explosive.”

Thus, for the first time in my adult life, I'm not going to pick one candidate in the primary to support. I am instead going to focus on the strengths of each of them, and do my very best to only speak of the positives each one represents. I will be wholly satisfied to allow others to select the Democratic Party's ticket for 2020. And I will invest my energy in campaigning and then voting for all of the Democrats running for office, from president to state to local offices.

Machine Gun




I am not surprised to see republicans, from Trump on down to people on social and anti-social media, saying that the weekend's shootings are rooted in “mental illness” rather than in gun culture. Now, I do think that there were reasons to include Amendment 2 in the Bill of Rights, but it obviously was not meant to insure mass murders that occur like clockwork in America. I note that there are restrictions upon even those rights defined by Amendment 1, with the example of Walker v City of Birmingham serving as a prime example.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/388/307/

But today, rather than the Constitution, I'd like to focus on the attempt to label the violence as the result of “mental illness.” I suspect that most people look at the individuals who engage in such violence, and conclude that there is “something wrong” with them. There is, and it is accurate to refer to the guilty person as having a disease, in the root sense of the word. However, very few of these individuals suffer from one of the major classifications of mental illness, those being the schizophrenic or bi-polar diseases.

More, it is grossly unfair to associate the people who suffer from these diseases with such violence. Indeed, statistics document that those with major mental illnesses are far, far more likely to be the victims of violence, than to be the perpetrators. The only one of these major mental illnesses with a co-morbidity with violence is paranoid schizophrenia, and these cases account for very little of the horrors that this country is experiencing.

Now, let's look back to Erich Fromm's 1955 book, “The Sane Society.” In it, he points out that if there was one family in a nice neighborhood that had, among other qualities, alcoholism (we can update this to various substance abuses) and violence, we would recognize this as a sick family system. If a large number of families had these issues, we'd recognize it as a sick neighborhood. If an entire nation has a large percentage – not necessarily a majority – that have problems such as opioid addiction and violence, there is evidence that it is a sick society.

Now, let's fast-forward to families in our modern society. No family is perfect. But many, many families are able to function in a manner that allows everyone to get their needs met in a generally healthy manner. In those unhealthy families, however, getting one's needs met often involves learning tactics that, while successful within that family unit, do not translate well into the larger society. This is especially true when we consider skills such as “problem solving” and dealing with the anger and frustrations that life often places upon our path.

Now let's consider a specific group. Young white men, who have been raised by parents who have no parenting skills. One cannot teach what one does not know. And our society currently has multi-generations of people without the ability to problem-solve in a healthy manner. This obviously does not mean that everyone who grows up in a dysfunctional family system is damaged in the same manner, much less prone to violence. (And otherwise “healthy” families may produce a violent individual.) Yet some who have very low self-esteem, little problem-solving skills, and a rather large chip on their shoulders are more prone to attempt to get their needs met by using violence. This most often is found in their relationships with family members, who are “safe” targets. Cowards rarely pick on someone capable of fighting back. And this, of course, brings us to a special type of coward – one who blames their problems on “others” and who thus become armed with the weapons of warfare.

Before I go farther, I want to note that issues involving anxiety and depression are very real and often very serious. There are definitely individuals who get relief from medications prescribed by medical professionals. Being human is a strange experience, and involves a large number of factors ranging from heredity, environment, nutrition, and more. And our brain's structure and chemistry evolved in a manner that, for example, required a degree of anxiety to insure human survival. Indeed, our brains are about the same as when our human family first wandered out onto the great African savannas thousands and thousands of years ago, when it was important to identify the source of a noise up ahead. And the “fight or flight” response is not unique to our species.

However, we are confronted with a significant population that does not think clearly in the context of problem-solving or dealing with life's frustrations. By no coincidence, these individuals have formed a cluster we can identify as Trump's base of supporters. A portion of them are unlikely to resort to violence outside of their homes as a means of problem-solving. Another portion are most likely to participate in violence if it breaks out in a group setting, for crowds tend to behave differently than individuals. And still another portion are prone to the planning of and preparation for violence – all the while convincing themselves that this violence is actually self-defense against the source of those noises out on the savanna.

What we have today is a sub-group within these who have very little skills for coping with life, and getting their needs met in a healthy manner. Among these are some with access to deadly weapons. And more than enough of these young white men have lashed out with extreme violence that it is clear our society is confronted with a disease commonly known as white nationalism.

On top of this, there is a president who calls upon the darker impulses of people with those serious and dangerous potentials. I could vomit when I hear Trump attempt to distance himself from the results. And it bothers me to hear him blab about mental health, attempting to place blame upon a population that does not share his guilt.

I worked for many years in a mental health clinic located in a county office building. Certainly mental health services are of great value in our society. At the same time, there were incidents where angry people came in with weapons. There are still marks on one stairway where two people fired a shotgun. Those individuals should not have had access to any gun.

It's easy to say that schools need to identify “at risk” kids. They do, and most of the schools I am familiar with do a good job at that. But it is unrealistic to expect schools to solve all of these social problems. Proof of that, sad to say, is found at the numerous mass shootings at schools.

Houses of religious worship are no doubt helpful in many people's lives. Yet we have witnessed this same extreme violence inside houses of worship.

There seems to be little disagreement that those who commit such acts belong in prison. Indeed, they do. And no sane person would argue that inmates have Amendment 2 rights – prisons being dangerous places, you know. It would seem that if we applied common sense, we could agree that there are individuals who, even before they are incarcerated, should not have access to fire arms. And that no one needs or has a right to a military type of gun.

Just my opinion,
H2O Man

Rage Against the Trump Machine

“Why come to us? We're the toughest nut to crack. You think we turn our Elders over to anyone who walks in the door? We guard them like pure spring water.”
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation


The above quote is from the 1990 book “Wisdomkeepers,” by Harvey Arden and Steve Wall. I was thinking about this when I watched Robert Mueller's congressional testimony. And I've thought about it even more since, especially when hearing or reading some of the nonsense about how “poorly” he performed.

For those not familiar with Oren, I recommend watching the video of his 1991 conversation with Bill Moyers on PBS. And for those who know of him, it's a great video to watch again, in these troubled times. Here is a link:

https://

Oren is the Faithkeeper of the Onondaga's Turtle Clan, serving with the late Wisdomkeep, Chief Paul Waterman. Some of my favorite memories are of sitting in Oren's log cabin back when my boys were wee-little, and as the adults were having seious conversation, Oren keeping the boys busy with treats and games. Fast forward to recently, and Oren and my younger son posing for pictures at a boxing match, and realizing how fast time goes by.

A vivid memory is of Oren speaking to a non-Indian audience around 1980, and warning them that what had been done to the Native People was very likely to happen to them, in their lifetimes. I think about that, also, when I think of Mr. Mueller's testimony about the Trump crimes. And, to go a step further, I think specifically of Mr. Mueller's fear that Trump's behaviors and the national response might represent the new normal.

Let me provide some brief context. When I first had the opportunity to know Oren, I was working in human services. At that time, my job focus was on “domestic violence” – including child abuse and neglect, violence against spouses, and violence against elderly family members, primarily parents. As I have always viewed society in terms of “systems,” I had great respect for Oren and Paul's teachings on the strengths of the traditional extended family. And I understood how the economic system, from agricultural to industrial to high-tech, had fractured the extended family units into what became a “new normal.”

Now, fast forward to what was then the future, and is now the current economic-social reality. We recognize that Trump's rise to power was rooted in fracturing our society. Their were obviously already fault lines in our culture, that he put extreme pressure upon. And, as a result, further fault lines have been created. Let's consider one example, that within the republican party. As disgusting as the republicans' behavior is, it is important to examine it.

In the 2016 republican primaries, all of the other candidates started off feeling confident that Trump was a sick joke of a candidate, one they could poke fun of or insult. As his campaign grew in strength, some pointed out his being unstable and even dangerous. Yet today, these same individuals are either lap dogs, or they have retired from politics.

A fraction of the republican party has broken off, including some who now either host or appear on cable news shows. But the majority of those who splintered off are silent. There's what Rubin used to call a “deafening silence” from them. And that is the direct result of their fear of having the republican crowd turn on them, should they speak up, and viciously tear them to shreds. It is pathetic that they are so cowardly. Those in Congress go so far as to spinelessly ignore the Constitution. Indeed, they attack those who confront them with their oath of office.

Fortunately, those running for the Democratic Party's nomination are all speaking up. To be clear, my intention is not to comment on the primaries. Rather, I'm focused on that which unites us: kicking Trump out of office by any means necessary. I'm strongly pro-impeachment. But if Trump isn't booted out that way, I will focus on supporting whoever is our party's candidate. I refuse to accept that Trump in any manner represents the “new normal.”

Rage against the Trump machine.
H2O Man

Apophenia

“Epstein was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck, sources said and investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened.”
NBC New York; 7-24-2019


With so much interest focused upon Robert Mueller's testimony this week, little attention has been paid to the case of Jeff Epstein. However, there was some high-quality reporting in the New York Times that attempted to identify where Epstein's income came from. However, what might be more important is a ppoint made by William Cohen of Vanity Fair on this topic.

Cohen recently questioned not the quality of the Times' reporting, but rather, if some of the information being released is actually an attempt to distract people from understanding the true history of Epstein's adult life. By coincidence, perhaps, I was recently talking to an old friend about this very topic.

In order to understand why Epstein got the earlier deal with the federal government, one needs to go back even before he was hired to teach at the private Dalton School. Most people are now aware that Attorney General Barr's father hired Epstein there, despite Jeff's not having a college degree or anything resembling teaching experience. But who was Barr's father?

Donald Barr was teaching English at Columbia when he was picked to work for the Office of Strategic Services in the WW2 era. The OSS was an earlier version of the CIA, set up similar to the English intelligence agency M16. The OSS tapped the services of many of the oil industry's private intelligence operations – it is important to understand that large corporations have always had their own intelligence groups – but also followed the British example of hiring people who had cover that did not hint at intelligence connections. University professors and journalists were among these groups.

I'm not able to determine if Donald Barr continued with government intelligence after the war, but there is reason to believe that he was connected to private groups. As such, he apparently was looking to identify potential assets, and this likely included Epstein. That seems far more likely than Barr's mistaking Epstein as a potential diamond in the rough for high school education.

Both Barr and Epstein left the Dalton School relatively soon after Jeff began his teaching career. But before leaving, Epstein had become acquainted with Alan Greenberg, as has been reported. And thus followed Epstein's career with Wall Street, although the exact nature of his “work” for various clients is ill-defined. One of those clients in particular is of interest.

In 1981, Epstein opened his own consulting company. In the years that followed, he traveled frequently to the Middle East. The recent raid on his New York City residence resulted in, among other things, a fake passport where, under a false name, Epstein identified as living in Saudi Arabia. I suppose any of us could easily get a fake passport to travel to the Middle East …..if we had the right connections.

Among his clients, in fact, was a Saudi businessman named Adnan Khashoggi. And Khashoggi, as many here will recall, was in charge of moving American weapons in Israel to Iran in the Iran-Contra scandal. This was when the Reagan administration decided to sidestep the law in an operation that is generally believed to have been run by vice president George H. W. Bush.

This wasn't the first time that segments of the executive office coordinated with unethical and disgusting people. In the late 1950s, for example, vice president Nixon was involved in the CIA's coordinating with organized crime in an effort to kill Castro. There was an unholy alliance in Boston between an FBI agent and sociopath Whitey Bulger. The list is long.

Those private interests that were funding Epstein knew he was a dangerous sex offender. He was able to appeal to the perverted appetites of business and government leaders around the globe. Those funding him knew that J. Edgar Hoover, while at the FBI, kept extensive records of hundreds of American's sexual habits. And used them to blackmail all sorts of people. And almost certainly shared some of their information with some in American intelligence.

A lot has been made of then-federal prosecutor Alex Acosta's mysterious dealings with Epstein's legal team, and failure to prosecute a sex offender preying on children. It's possible Acosta did it all on his own, but extremely unlikely. It is almost certain that he would not have made such a controversial decision without first consulting with the Attorney General.

At this time, the AG was Alberto Gonzales who is best remembered for his advocacy for warrantless surveillance and torture. It should not be forgotten that he also been in charge of the firing of some U.S. Attorneys who refused to indict and prosecute White House “enemies,” in the scandal that eventually led to his resignation.

It's unclear if Gonzales discussed the Epstein issue with George W. Bush. Although VP Cheney had been castrated by the Plame scandal by then, there is evidence that he was still the crucial player in terms of dealing in the moral gutter.

Some ugly interests with secrets to hide will continue to try to manipulate the public's perception of the Epstein case history. They will continue to point to Bill Clinton, despite the total lack of evidence that Clinton was ever aware of Epstein's sex offenses until his first arrest. But the truth is that this is a republican and corporate scandal.

This brings me to a final point: do not believe the story about how and why Trump ended his friendship with Epstein on face value. Trump could have been made aware of Epstein's recording powerful people's sexual habits for Wall Street interests. And that's closely related to why the reported Moscow tape so upset Trump.

Remember

The most important thing about today's testimony is that it opens the door for the Democrats in the House to have the federal courts compel "fact witnesses" to testify.

Bloody Hands

“The blood of four little children is on your hands. Your irresponsible and misguided actions have created in Birmingham and Alabama the atmosphere that has induced continued violence and now murder.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


I am, like everyone here, angered by Trump's tweets – and the words that spew forth from the puckered sphincter under his nose – about the four Democratic members of the House of Representatives. I recognize his intentions, as I'm old enough to remember seeing the results of such disgusting hatred before. I think we all know what happens when a sociopath fans the flames of division, fear, and hatred, and we know this isn't going to end well unless there is a strong intervention.

I remember that the 16th Street Baptist Church was being used by a group of American citizens in Birmingham as a center for planning their Civil Rights activities. A very little man named George Wallace was stirring a steaming pot of hatred along with the state's white hate groups. On September 15, 1963, four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted 15 or more sticks of dynamite at the church, killing four girls.

Before the sun set that evening, two black teen-aged boys were shot and killed on the streets in Birmingham. One was shot in the back by a white policeman, who acted as judge, jury, and executioner for allegedly not following orders. The other was shot by a white teen, while riding a bike with his brother. The teen and his friend were found guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter, and were sentenced to two years of probation.

When Governor Wallace pretended he was upset by the bombings, Dr. King sent him a telegram that is quoted above. King knew that while Wallace had not planted the dynamite or pulled the triggers, there was blood on his hands. King knew that the radical white racists who applauded the deaths of those four girls and the two boys consider Wallace to be their man, their leader.

Trump knows that there are many threats being made at the four Democratic women. He also knows that the most serious threats being made against the four are those coming from him. He knows that there are unhinged people who actually believe him, just as they believe Sean Hannity and other peddlers of hatred and violence. And, should one or more of these paranoid imbeciles act out, Trump will, like Wallace, try to wash his hands of it. He'll claim he is not responsible for what others do.

None of this is a great mystery. Just like in the Civil Rights era, a significant segment of white society is uncomfortable with change. They feel uneasy with the prospect that non-white people exercise the same constitutional rights that they take for granted that they enjoy. They feel threatened when a brown-skinned woman like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez speaks about social justice. And they are convinced that they are being attacked when a brown-skinned Muslim like Ilhan Omar exercises her power as a member of the House of Representatives.

Groups of frightened people tend to behave in general patterns, with some variation depending upon specific circumstances. A frequent dynamic can be found within small groups of twenty people who believe they are under attack: one person will take on the group leadership. This is distinct from a group of twenty that is exercising power, where there is competition for that leadership role. Note that if those exercise power over another group identify that one-in-twenty leader, they will focus their attention on removing that person from his or her group by any of a variety of means. On the larger scale, of course, we witnessed the results of this with the murders of Malcolm X and Dr. King.

I'm an old white man, who is encouraged by the women now known as “the Squad.” They speak for me, and they represent my values. I say that, even though I have a limited connection – at best – to two of the four. I joined AOC's campaign early in the democratic primary, when few people knew who she was or why she was running. We had agreed to do an interview for this forum, but the timing was never right. There were a number of outspoken critics of AOC here at the time, and when I asked another forum member who supported her if he wanted to do the interview with me, he declined. There were even people hoping Crowley would run as an independent after AOC beat him in the primary.

I've spoken with Representative Omar's office since she was elected. On the day I got my “I Stand with Ilhan Omar” bumper sticker, I was stopped twice while taking a round trip to the grocery store. That averaged being pulled over once every eight miles. Coincidence, most likely, though I don't believe in coincidence. I'm confident that they were just checking to see if I was wearing a seat belt, which I always do.

Trump continues to spout lies quicker than Maximum Security ran in the Kentucky Derby, and he isn't about to allow facts to catch up, much less pass him. This is his very nature – for if one took away the constant lies, the threats, the criminality, and unethical behaviors, there would be nothing left but a large pile of orange shit. And if he is allowed to move this country in the direction he is headed in, that pile of shit will be splattered upon everything good about America.

I wish that the Democrats in the House were moving faster towards impeachment. The evidence of Trump's criminal nature are there, and should be put on full display for the nation. Two months ago, I was confident that we were on the way. Today, I'm not sure, and suspect that their master plan is to focus instead on the 2020 elections. Although I believe that we can do both, and that one reinforces the other, I will be listening to Mr. Mueller's testimony on Wednesday with great interest, and hope it leads to justice. If justice is delayed – meaning denied – I will still be fully invested in supporting all Democratic Party candidates in 2020. But I have serious concerns about how the landscape will be after another year of Trump.

Peace,
H2O Man

RIP Pernell Whitaker

"Sweet Pea" Whitaker, one of boxing's all-time great champions, was killed while crossing a street in Virginia Beach last night. He was 55.

Shadows of the Evening

Warning: The following quote is from a whack-job, and in no sense is intended to endorse his thinking. Rather, I am using this quote for two reasons which are addressed below.

“But quite frankly there is an outside source which we refer to as the 'deep state' or the 'shadow government'. There is a lot of influence by people which are actually more powerful than our government itself, our president.” – Ron Paul; November, 2016

During the 2016 general election campaign, Donald Trump frequently expressed his opinion that the contest would be stolen from him. He did so for two reasons: first, as an excuse for his expected defeat, and second, as part of the Russian-inspired attempt to discredit our system of elections.

It was only during the transition phase and early presidency that he began to rant about the “deep state.” I cannot say for sure that this thought was implanted in Trump's reptilian brain by Ron Paul, for he was surrounded by many whack-jobs and assorted dick-drippings. It wasn't just Ivanka and Jared …..Jared seems so similar to Don, Jr. in every way, that I question if he is Trump's son …...but included the likes of Steve Bannon.

We all remember when, in early 2017, when Trump was aware that the FBI was investigating Flynn, he tweeted that President Obama had Trump's “wires tapped” at Trump Tower. In time, this paranoid thinking resulted in President Obama's tasking the job to British intelligence. It was a conspiracy that required the shallow intellect of Devin Nunes to fully expose.

The second part is that, not surprisingly, Ron Paul was incorrect in saying that the “deep state” equals the “shadow government.” While both of these entities tend to conjure up images of paranoid alt-right fantasies, the terms actual refer to real things. There is some degree of overlap in terms of individuals and corporations, and both are fluid. But they are not mysterious.

The “deep state” simple refers to non-elected officials working in the bureaucracy of the federal government, and those who are retired from these positions. That bureaucracy is enormous, and includes the military, the various departments in the executive branch, both houses of Congress, and the like. Some are Democrats, some republicans, and independents.

There is a smaller “deep state” in all fifty states, and a smaller one in every county and city in the land. And every person who has worked somewhere that a new boss has come in and said, “Things are going to be different now,” knows how any sized “deep state” can keep going pretty much how it had been. This can have negative consequences, of course, as in the example of J. Edgar Hoover. Think of how many presidents he served under, and kept his sick system intact.

It also has a positive potential. Let's say that people in positions of power learn that a candidate for president is running a campaign that welcomes Russian influence. We would hope – and rightfully so – that the individuals in the government would attempt to use every legal means to investigate the situation. If the early evidence indicated there was a need for a counter-intelligence investigation, we'd want that.

Remember, the original investigation was of Russia and the campaign, not just of Trump. And there was a heck of a lot that demanded investigating. That some of the individuals in the FBI said some harsh things about Trump is hardly surprising. Yet there is no evidence their dislike of Trump influenced their investigation.

It wasn't until after first telling Mr. Comey to let up on Flynn, and then firing Comey, that Trump's actions became a central focus of the investigation. Usually, those who attempt to obstruct an investigation have something to hide. And Trump has many things to hide.

Along with the official investigation, the media began to examine the campaign closely. Some journalists benefited from having sources working in the government – including in the White House. And numerous retired government workers have contracted with media such as CNN and MSNBC. They tend to believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian military intelligence during the campaign, and that Trump poses a threat to our national security.

Trump accuses them of treason, and attempts to abuse the powers of the government to punish them. They view him as a dangerous combination of a drunken Joe McCarthy and a disorganized J. Edgar Hoover.

The idea of a “shadow government” is actually closely tied to what is known as the national “continuity of government” plan. There were some basic plans going back to the beginning of the nation, but they became much more comprehensive, first under Truman, and even more so under Eisenhower. Obviously, these were closely related to the fears of the atomic bomb.

The plans remained pretty much the same until Reagan took office. Under him, VP Bush the Elder and Oliver North made some changes that included suspending the Constitution, excluding the legislative and judicial branches, and more formally including the heads of some large industries to be directly involved in running the country. More, the National Security Council would exercise greater powers than the State Department. What could possibly wrong?

One could speculate without risk of error that the Iran-Contra business was the shadow government at play. But it would not officially be declared active until VP Dick Cheney did so on 9/11. This too often overlooked part of our history is documented, among other places, in Senator Robert C. Byrd's book, “Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency” (W.W. Norton & Co; 2004; pages 78-79).

An important feature of those within the shadow government is that some bounce in between serving in government and private business. One need not be a conspiracy theorist, for example, to suspect the possibility – however slight – that Dick Cheney's experience as chairman of the board and chief executive of Halliburton influenced his thinking and actions as vice president, when he led and lied the country into the war in Iraq.

George Bush the Elder was connected to the oil industry, before his political career took off. He was also the head of the CIA. The connections between the energy industries, intelligence, and the military are central to the make up of the shadow government.

Not all of these people are 100% horrible, though Cheney is. James Baker III was only about 85% bad. And some, like David Gergen, are actually decent people, who seem to improve with age.

Now, why is any of this important? Is this boring essay merely proof that I am bored? Or is there another reason I'm writing this? Could it be both?

I often use the model of a mobile hanging over an infant's crib to illustrate the nature of a system. In this essay, I prefer to view “systems” as organisms, made up of many people. Years ago, John Lennon spoke of watching the crowd while the Beatles played one of their last concerts. The LSD that John took before the show influenced the way he viewed the audience. For example, when he moved the neck of the guitar in any direction, there was a moving wave within the audience-organism.

Watching a Trump rally – and I do not endorse taking LSD before viewing one – it is clear that the audience is an organism. And, I dare say, a dangerous one at that.

The “deep state” and the “shadow government” are also organisms. But there are differences that we need to be fully aware of as we approach the numerous election contests in 2020. The “deep state,” as we have seen, can influence the public's perception by way of leaks to the media, and by being part of the media. This is neither “good” nor “bad” in and of itself, but instead has the potential for either.

The “shadow government” plays, among other things, a different role, in that businesses make significant financial contributions that come into play in elections. This isn't just direct contributions to an individual politician's campaign, of course. But it is generally in ways that create at the very least the perception of a debt.

That is distinct from a current or retired government employee making an individual contribution to a politician they support. And, within the Democratic Party, at various levels, a growing number of people prefer candidates that finance their campaigns from individual, grass roots' contributions. The only “debt” that creates is to represent the best interests of common people.

In closing, I'll say this: a significant number of government employees have come out against the clear threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation. But those powerful corporations haven't. That is because the Trump tax cuts, and the gross reduction in environmental protections, are making their profit margins larger. Thus, we can be sure that republican candidates in 2020 will not be running campaigns financed by small, grass roots donations.

Re: Manny Pacquiao

My younger son is in California now. Today, he got to hang out with Manny Pacquiao's team – though not Manny himself. He sent me photos and video of it. Pretty cool.

Manny challenges Keith Thurman for his WBA welterweight title on July 20 in Las Vegas.

A Modest Proposal


“I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is, in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance.”
– Jonathan Swift; A Modest Proposal; 1729


I attended the funeral of one of my cousins this weekend. He was 88, and in poor health, including suffering from dementia. One of the things I will remember the most about him was that while running the 1960 Democratic headquarters in this county, local police gave him the only six tickets he ever got, on consecutive weekends. “We don't want your type here,” they told him each and every time.

His son gave me a family heirloom – a three gallon whiskey jug with the family name, from when my great grandfather's brother was a major bootlegger in western New York. Uncle Tom had a series of hardware stores that fronted for the family's primary business. I wish my father was alive to see it, though he would complain that it is empty.

Tom was among the family members that came to the US at the time known as “an Gorta Mor,” or the Great Starvation. It is also called “the potato famine” by those unfamiliar with the actual history, in which the Old Sod produced record amounts of other crops and meats, the vast majority of which were exported by “absentee landlords.”

A few of Tom's sisters remained in and around New York City. He moved to upstate New York, where other family members had taken up farming, as well as working on the canals and then railroads. Some, like Tom's brother Patrick, had trades – he was a marble-cutter – that were sought after. Pat was a “boomer,” and went west; I have the photograph, with his hand-written note to a sister on the back, from when he ventured out, following the new railroads as they were constructed.

My grandfather came to the US in the late 1870s, among the last waves of our extended family. Those already here had helped finance the trip, and had things set up for each family unit that arrived. An interesting thing, at least in my opinion, is that after saving up, and/or attending college or learning a trade, quite a few family members moved back to Ireland. They were able to buy properties that had previously been owned by our family, but were stolen by the invaders who later starved our people.

By the time my father was born, the extended family in the US had a doctor, a lawyer, a university professor, union leaders, detectives, military veterans, and a construction company owner. It wasn't that they were not confronted with the hatred of Irish Catholics – they certainly were, but they leveled the playing field. By the time I was a youngster, and my cousin was getting ticketed for campaigning for JFK, the neighborhood kids where my father built our house were insulting my siblings and I about being followers of the pope. I had no idea who or what the pope was. After we leveled those kids a few times on our playing fields, we all became friends.

I think about that, when I consider what the federal government is doing to the human beings from Central America that seek refuge in this country. They are attempting to come to this country for the same reasons my family came from Ireland. I recently saw an interview with the Dalai Lama, where he noted that immigrants are looking in part for the education and job skills that will allow them to eventually return to their homelands, and I recognize that dynamic from my own family history.

It takes a special level of perverse cruelty to put children in cages. That type of inhumanity leads to denying them toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, and food that is not dissimilar to starving the native population of Ireland, or any of the other extreme examples of man's inhumanity to man. It may be true that it is improper to compare Trump to Hitler, at least yet. So I'll go back to when I was a child, and compare him to the stories I heard in church about Herod.

Somehow, this madness must stop. Obviously, Trump and his ilk aren't going to stop it on their own. And we really cannot wait until November of 2020 to start leveling the playing field. A growing number of our elected representatives are in favor of impeachment proceedings. Others believe that the public isn't invested in that yet. We are the public. It's time that we send a clear signal to them that we are prepared to do the hard work necessary to level the field.

Peace,
H2O Man
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