H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
This morning from a dewy motorway
I saw the new camp for the internees:
A bomb had left a crater of fresh clay
In the roadside, and over in the trees
Machine-gun posts defined a real stockade.
There was that white mist you get on a low ground
And it was deja-vu, some film made
Of Stalag 17, a bad dream with no sound.
Is there a life before death? That's chalked up
In Ballymurphy. Competence with pain,
Coherent miseries, a bite and sup:
we hug our little destiny again.
-Whatever You Say Say Nothing."
― Seamus Heaney, North
In his 2002 book, Irish author Tim Pat Coogan noted that what are referred to as "The Troubles" began three centuries before Columbus landed in the Americas. I have been watching as the news reports on events in the United States, that suggest that a domestic version is an option that this country is heading towards. As much as I love reading Irish history, I am hoping that we can turn this around.
My late friend Rubin "Hurricane" Carter often said that there is only one race -- the human race. Though not an orginal thought, he would expand on this theme based upon his own insights. Within our race, he said, there are several tribes: the black tribe, the brown tribe, the red tribe, the yellow tribe, and the white tribe. The white tribe was subjected to extended-family conflicts over the centuries, such as when the French fought the German, or the Irish fought the English. Yet, for most of history, if one of the non-white tribes attack one of the white families, the entire white tribe would unite to devastate that non-white tribe.
In American history, there has been resentment from many in the white tribe against those whites who advocated for, and even stood with non-white individuals and tribes. It led directly to violence, for example, during the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Thus, the violence we see spreading throughout our country -- our "Troubles" -- has been here since Columbus sailed into the Americas.
My son bought me a copy of a book that I've been wanting to read. The book is, "White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America," by Nancy Isenberg (Penguin Books; 2016). It documents a "family secret" that played a role in American history, which we inherited from British society. Just as the ruling class in Britain believe the white tribe was superior to all non-white tribes, they were convinced that the white tribe was stratified in terms of value as human beings. They refered to those they defined as the lower levels as "white waste," and eventually as "white trash."
By the late 1600s, the British elite were loading the "white trash" onto large boats, and sending it across the Atlantic. There were investments on the potential to exploit the "New World's" resources. They had anticipated an experience as easy as the Spanish had in Central America at first, and were caught off-guard by the red tribe's people, who practiced a woodland form of democracy. The resulting conflicts would mark the birth of the first twin of America's Original sins. The second twin, of course, was the importing of slaves.
The colonial era up through the 1880s, the American experience is best understood as red, white, and black. By no coincidence, Gary Nash's 1974 book, "Red, White, and Black" provides fascinating information on the inter-relationships between these three tribes. Whites viewed blacks as domestic animals, to be kept on plantations for commercial exploitation. And the whites recognized the risks involved in blacks held in slavery learning to read. Whites viewed Indians as wild animals, creating problems for whites intent upon taking (re: stealing) their lands. Besides hunting Indians, there were efforts to "civilize" them, including by teaching them to read -- this at a time when literacy was not a common feature among white trash.
The single biggest conflict in US history came with the Civil War. The south wanted to expand slavery into the new territories. Lincoln, among other reasons, wanted to use these new territories to expand employment opportunities for the growing number of European boat people arriving on American shores. The result, with some significant exceptions, was a fight between the south's Scotch Irish and the north's more recent immigrants from the Irish starvation ships. This resulting in the freeing of the blacks held in slavery, and unleashed violence on those Indians living in a manner on their territories that got in the way of "manifest destiny."
This planted the seeds of resentment among much of the "confederacy's" white trash and elites. The resentment has flowered over the generations, and even pollinated white trash in other regions of the country. Thus, in the 20th century, other than being involved in two huge family feuds known as WW1 and WW2, the American elite whites were in an ongoing competition that involved the European elites of the white tribe to control and exploit the non-white tribes.
This included the domestic non-white peoples. To do so, the elite whites relied upon a trick: turn the white trash's resentments towards the non-white people. This was highlighted by the white trash's violent resistance to the Civil Rights Movement. In many parts of the country, it was impossible to tell the difference between the police and the KKK. Those alive at the time remember this; younger people are aware of this today.
A curious dynamic began after WW2. While there had long been a fringe of the white tribe that advocated for non-white people, the Civil Rights Movement increased these numbers, especially among the white youth. There were still some issues -- members of the black and red tribes recognized that they could identify leadership within their own communities, and some whites had difficulty in understanding why this was essential. But over the decades, a significant balance -- not perfect, as it involved human beings -- began to form.
An important part of this process began during the 1960 presidential campaign. Martin Luther King, Jr., endorsed John Kennedy, and soon the majority of black Americans became Democrats. Soon, LBJ passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, although he knew his party would lose the southern elite and white trash that had long been Democrats.
Though imperfect, the Democratic Party began to represent the non-white minorities. The party would find both leadership and an important voting block among black citizens in particular. The republican elite -- almost exclusively white -- determined that they would need to create more hostility among the white trash, in order to win elections. And here we are today.
The connections between "race" and economic class warfare on the part of the white elites, would cause them to lose their grip on power, should white trash learn should white trash -- and the white middle class -- realize they had more in common with most non-whites, than with the self-appointed elites. That would take the fuzz right off their peach. And so the white trash in particular has been encouraged to think that they have more in common with a Donald Trump than a George Floyd.
The white trash cannot tell the difference between King's March on Washington and the Watts riot. And some middle class whites say that good people should use King's tactics to advance, woefully ignorant of either King's economic message or the terrible violence that he and his followers were met with. Both have an inability to understand that the riots, with burning and looting, is not connected to the Democratic Party.
The white trash today, in identifying with Trump, also view the non-white peaceful protesters as dangerous, and the white ones as traitors to the white tribe. Thus, we are seeing the white supremacists -- often with at least low-level support and cooperation from some police -- are convinced that they have license to attack and kill the "enemy." As this cycle increases in strength, we are moving as a society to a domestic version of "The Troubles."
We have three options. We can say, "That's terrible" when we see reports of the increasing violence, and hope we are not the next victim. We can put into practice Malcolm X's say,"In the jungle, there are hunters. There are also those who hunt the hunters." Both lead directly to The Troubles. Or, we can engage in non-violent activities, those covered in the Constitution, and work to revive a civil society. That is the only way.
"Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside"
-- Jim Morrison
Wait! Joe Biden is Fidel Castro?
This is both hilarious and bizarre.
"We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to become co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation" -- Martin Luther King, Jr (Letter from Birmingham City Jail; April 16, 1963).
I, for one, am enjoying watching the Democratic National Convention. I'm looking forward to tonight's presentations. Obviously, it is different than the 14 ones I've previously watched, but that difference is essential in defining the harsh realities of 2020. It makes me proud to be a Democrat.
Yet I know that the progress which Dr. King wrote about in his powerful letter from jail is not entirely the responsibility of "leaders." It requires that people at the grass roots level invest the "tireless efforts and persistent work" that Dr. King mentioned. The most important grass roots effort at this time is surely getting people prepared to vote, be it by way of mail or in person.
But there is more. For democracy to bring about social justice, we must be engaged in the constant struggle ....not only against stagnation, but against the forces of sexism, racism, and other forms of violence too numerous to list here. On the 16th, I posted an essay about some young adults who engaged in a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in the village park in Bainbridge, N.Y.
In the days since, there has been on-going reactions to that rally, and the "counter-protest" that took place across the street. The largest regional energy corporation fired one employee, after seeing video of her being physicall aggressive to those in the BLM rally, and spewing ugly racial slurs. I was among the many who contacted the corporate head, a man I had gone to school with.
There have been no consequences for the intoxicated gentleman who physically attacked some of the BLM people. I suppose this is because he had to be saved from real harm by the very people he attacked. I do feel compassion for him, as sometimes it takes more than strong drink to reduce a man to the status of town drunk. I know he has lived a tough life, though that doesn't excuse his violent behavior.
What has struck me as unacceptable is that two members of the village government were participants in the "counter-protest." The one where they were yelling, "We are the new KKK." If one person got fired, and another took a beating, it seems that public officials should be held to a higher standard. At first, I though that could be by addressing it when they come up for re-election.
But, in the time since the rally, I have heard from dozens of young people who organized and attended the event. along with parents and other community people. I know that there have been threats against some of the organizers of the rally. Some people are upset and confused about what options they can use now.
So today, I've been in contact with the NYS Attorney General's Office. from morning until afternoon. They are taking the first steps of investigating members of the "counter-protest." I will be providing them with a substantial amount of documentation.
But, for tonight, my only plan is to enjoy coverage of the convention. Enjoy it!
There was a Black Lives Matter rally in Bainbridge, N.Y. yesterday afternoon. Bainbridge is a village with a population of about 1,300, located in rural Chenango County, not far from where I live. Like many communities in the area, it used to have industries that employed its residents, but those closed decades ago and Bainbridge is now experiencing "urban decay." It can no longer sustain the grocery store that served the community, which has been largely replaced by a "dollar store."
My cousin called me early in the morning. He live otside a town near Bainbridge, and had told me earlier in the week that he had heard there might be a BLM rally on Saturday. However, on his early morning walk, he was confronted by a man down the road, who was hyper about what he believed was a planned attack by a caravan of non-white "outsiders." Word among the quasi-semi-para-militia group he belongs to was that patriots with guns needed to gather in Bainbridge to prevent the upcoming riot.
Not being prone to the delusional thinking common within the Trump cult, my cousin said that he supported the local youth who were planning the BLM rally. He noted that it was their constitutional right, and that he hoped to be there to protect them against any aggression by those opposed to the Constitution.
"We will all have guns," the person said. "Yes, I know," my cousin answered. "You'd give your life to protect a black person?" the person asked. "Yes," my cousin answered, as he walked away from the person, "even though I am looking forward to having a black woman as vice president, I would." When he got home, and called e, we were under the impression that the rally was scheduled for the morning. I said that I'd drive to Bainbridge to see what was happening, and get back to him.
As I entered Bainbridge, I passed by the spot where in October of 2014, a drunk, off-duty law enforcement person had shot my cousin and his son in a "road rage" incident. My cousin has not been the same since his son died in his arms that day. Then I passed the spot where in May of 1998, a racist hate gang attacked my nephew, because they resented a black high school scholar-athlete getting positive media attention.
The vast majority of people in the community were horrified by these violent crimes, and were supportive of my family. A number of my relatives -- including my brother who was a professional boxer at the time, and my uncle, a Senior Investigator with the NYS Police BCI -- had lived there. The State Police and the Sheriff's Office had done solid investigations of the crimes. The county's DA and court had done a fine job that sent the thug that shot my cousin and his son to prison for life.
Yet, it only takes a few to poison any community. My nephew had asked a village police officer for assistance when the hate gang had been dogging him earlier in the evening. But that officer refused to assist him -- and it came as no surprise to learn later that he was friends with the gang. The DA at the time opted not to charge the gang members with attempted murder, as advocated by the assistant DA. And, during the trial of the gang leader, the Bainbridge justice of the peace said in open court that he did not think that the gang members calling my nephew a "dumb nig_er" indicated that race was an issue in the assault, before sentencing the thug to a $50 fine for having an open beer when the assault took place.
I circled the park in the village several times, but it was empty. As it turned out, the rally was held in the mid-afternoon. Most of the participants were young adults from the area, who behaved well while exercising their Amendment 1 rights.However, there was a "counter rally," complete with confederate flags and Trump signs, across the street from the park. Twice, people from their side ran across the street to push and punch those in the BLM crowd. The police did a good job of removing them.
My cousin called me again this morning. He had just returned from his morning walk. Another neighbor had stopped him on the road, and said the militia person was apparently under great stress. The person had spent yesterday evening firing his guns, and setting off small explosions. This morning, the neighbor heard him screaming at his wife to get back into their house, because it wasn't safe to be outside. What the fuck is wrong with him, my cousin asked?
This is a group reacting to shared delusions, I said. It is common within cults, and is most dangerous when they are under pressure from thinking their enemies are out to get them.
I was playing this song in my mind while on my daily walk. I've long thought it was one of McCartney's catchier tunes. Plus I love "Revolver." Perhaps that dates me as an old fool, which is fine with me.
Being an old man, I had the unpleasant experience of troubling in walking on some recent days. Being stubborn, I decided to go for walks in my mind. Although I almost certainly burn less calories on mental walks, there is the unique advantage of strolling back to previous times in my life.
In the past few days -- specifically since Joe Biden announced his choice for vice president -- I've had an increased number of conversations with friends and associates on the telephone and internet. They come from a variety of backgrounds: a couple with doctorates in medicine, one in philosophy, a carpenter, a mechanic, a book-keeper at a university, and a few social workers. Without exception, they are of my generation.
One is mourning the death of a child. That is, of course, a brutal fate for any parent. We've been friends for over 50 years, and so she knows I have zero social graces, and is patient when I make an awkward attempt to ask how she is doing. Last night, we had a fairly long talk, and she was able to discuss the pain. Eventually, our talk included lessons that a Clan Mother from the Onondaga Nation taught me decades ago. My friend liked them.
I had been remembering the days I spent at Onondaga while taking one of my mental walks through time. Times change. The Elders I knew then are gone, and now it's men and women my age taking their turn as Elders. I was remembering, among other things, how one of the Clan Mothers had been quietly invited to visit President Bush the Elder at the White House. He told her that despite what "Washington" said publicly, they knew the environment had been severely damaged.
He said that they knew future generations would suffer the consequences, and asked for her advice? In a sense, it was nice that he wanted to talk to her, even if he wanted no media coverage. But it was sad that he thought there might be some magic Native American solution.
She told him, "The only answer is to use common sense. If you pour toxic wastes into the water, it travels downstream in space and time." Around that same general time, she also met with Mikhail Gorbachev. My impression is that he had a deeper understanding of what she was saying. I suspect that is why his leadership would eventually be undermined.
At the beginning of the 2020 Democratic Party's presidential primary season, I decided that I wasn't going to favor any one candidate. I thought they were all good, and I would have been glad to support any one of them who won the nomination. I took that position in person, on FaceBook, and DU.
I had said, before the official start of the season, that I hoped our party would nominate a non-white woman, when discussing the yopic with my son. He asked if it was good to "pick" based upon sex, race, and/or ethinc identity, rather than looking for the best qualified person? I said that we aren't in normal circumstances, and more: I thought that in the 50 state presidential election, Senator Harris would be the surest bet to beat Trump. But, of course, she did not do well enough in the primaries to raise the funds needed to win the nomination.
About half the conversations I've had in these 48 hours were with people thrilled that Biden picked Senator Harris, and half were people hoping for Rep. Karen Bass. I should add that about half are registered Democrats, and half are progressive independents, though this was not a factor in how they viewed Harris as the VP candidate. However, I do think that age played a significant role in people who hoped for Bass to be on the ticket.
I am a progressive, leftist Democrat -- at least in my own mind. However, I have a different understanding of what is possible in politics than I did when I was young. Thus, I am happy with the Biden-Harris ticket. I know, for example, that there aren't magical solutions to crises such as the environment. So when discussing November with everyone, I've said, "The only answer is common sense. If Trump somehow 'wins' re-election, the Constitution is dead."
Watching the Axios interview of Donald Trump, I was reminded of the June 1972 release of the John Lennon-Yoko Ono double album, "Some Time in New York City." In the upper right-hand corner of the LP's cover, there is a picture of President Nixon and Chairman Mao dancing naked with wild abdomen. Some people were upset by this, including members of the Nixon administration.
In an interview, Yoko explained that she thought politicians should be naked in their campaigns, and all meetings while in office. Yoko was 48 years ahead of her time. Today, we have witnessed the naked lying of the president, despite him being fully dressed.
"It is not possible to be ignorant of the end of things if we know their beginning."
-- Thomas Aquinas
"If a black cat crosses your path, it signifies that the animal is going somewhere."
-- Groucho Marx
The sun reflects off the surface of the water, and sweat begins to roll down my forehead. I close my eyes, listening to the sounds from around my pond. Then, I imagine the Lennon song "Tomorrow Never Knows" playing in my head: "Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream...." Life is good, at least until some strange insect invites itself to land on my cheek.
It was a grasshopper. Since an interaction with an insect earlier in the warm season, I prefer to not have them on me. Plus I've seen a gang of flying grasshoppers hanging out near my garden, helping themselves to my food. Darn them! I'm glad the kittens chase them. My mind goes to locus, and from there the plague from the demon that is fucking our nation, night and day, the anti-Christ, Donald Trump.
I close my eyes, but am no longer floating down stream, relaxing. I'm on a boat in my mind, hearing Lt. William Bligh's chattering, insane voice: "I am the master of The Bounty. And I am Commander by law! I am first. Do you understand? God damn your hide ...." How did he become president?
Suddenly I am on a smaller boat, heading up a strange river. The war that was my generation's Heart of Darkness. The reprise of Jim Morrison's "The End" for 2020. Colonel Walter Kurtz voice drips from Trump's puckered mouth: "The horror ....the horror."
Each of us recognizes the beginning of this national nightmare in the unique context of their life experience. Sarah Palin? George Wallace? The Civil War? Yet we all can agree that it only can turn out one of two ways: Trump steals the election, and America goes onto the compost heap of history's empires, or Joe Biden is elected, and a very tough struggle continues. For it will take a long, concentrated effort from people from the grassroots to DC to begin to repair the damage.
I'm inside now, listening to clips of Trump on the television. Every Democrat knows that his description of America if Biden is elected is merely him projecting the reality that is "Trump's America." I've lost track of how many times he's been documented as lying since becoming president. It's easier to think "zero" -- the number of times he has told the truth. Listen, if you can stand to, while he parrots some "talking points" provided to him, that attempt to divide the Democrats. Expect Trump to take fake positions, for example, on environmental issues.
Some of the tactics the Trump campaign will use -- shit, actually are already using -- come straight from the 1972 presidential election. The Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) was doing many of the same things, though the technology of today has increased the pace. But human tapeworms such as Roger Stone and Stephen Millerare as foul of characters as any associated with any administration. So is Jared. All three have studied the tactic that Patrick Buchanan added to 1972: Lie about the opponent, in order to push him to react by moving to the left.
Trump adds some of his own flavor. As a sociopath under pressure, he will go to any depth. It's federal forces and some para-military occupying cities today. Like the Nixon CREEP, they have focused on "removing" leaders of the grass roots from future demonstrations. If Trump steals the election, we can count on the Erik Princes and Mark Furhmans to be out in force, making today's assaults on peaceful protesters and the Constitution look mild.
He had troops assault protesters so that he could have pictures of him holding a bible in front of a church. That's not an unusual step beyond the fake patriotism his ilk display. Not at all. Where we are reaching (more) dangerous ground is when he starts promoting the combination of religion and superstitious conspiracies. Alien DNA shots to prevent people from being religious, for example. Do you think there is any chance that his cult will accept a vaccine that "the government" recommends?
We've got less than one hundred days. Be prepared for voting by mail. Encourage ohers, so that they don't wait for the clock to run out. Do your best to convince others to vote not only For Joe Biden, but the Democrats in House, Senate, and state elections.Some forum member may only be in a position to get one or two votes for us. Others may be able to get dozens, perhaps a hundred or more. Each person's effort is equal, as we are on a team.
Let's stomp the shit out of Trump and the republican party in November.
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