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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 66,020

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Constitutional Government

"The informing function of Congress should be preferred to even its legislative function."
-- Woodrow Wilson; Constitutional Government in the United States; New York: Columbia University press; 1908; page 303.


My son shook his head as we watched a news report about the republican Senators' attempt to knee-cap an investigation into January 6th. "Dirty bastards," he said. "Fear not," I replied, "for we still have what I think is a better option." I prefer a Senate Select Committee to a commission for a variety of reasons. Hence, I was pleased less than an hour later, when Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) told a reporter that there would likely be a Select Committee investigation.

Over the many decades of my life, I have witnessed our country move further away from Constitutional Government. This concerns me, as I've seen even intelligent and generally informed people unaware of the Congress's role in educating the public. Indeed, even on this forum, circa 2009, a person I respect but am not particularly friends with, told me that I was full of shit, without a clue of what I was talking about. While this may be an accurate diagnosis of my usual nonsense, in this case I am correct.

Woodrow Wilson was the first political scientist to become president. Back in 2009, I assumed that the vast majority of people had a copy of "Constitutional Government" in the political science section of their personal library, if not the more obvious presidential section. I was wrong about that, and so I shall link a copy of it here:
https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/constitutional-government-in-the-united-states/

Why, someone might be asking at this very moment, is this ancient manuscript of importance? To begin with, it is quoted in two important US Supreme Court decisions (including the above quote): United States v. Rumely, 345 US 41, 43 (1953), and Watkins v. United States, 354 US 178, 200 (1957). And it would serve as the driving force when an old country lawyer, Senator Sam Ervin, headed the Senate Select Committee's investigation of Watergate.

One advantage os congressional investigations is that they are often televised. Those of my generation remember listening to witnesses such as John Dean and Alexander Butterfield testify about Watergate. It is important to remember that Nixon still had high approval from republicans in DC and nation-wide. Some of the Iran-Contra hearings were also televised, although the combination of its complicated stratification, scandal fatigue, and Ollie North's uniform blurred Reagan and VP Bush's criminal involvement.

Such hearings are never a perfect answer. Some House republicans were nearly as toxic as their counterparts today when it came to committee debate on articles of impeachment. I agree that the republican party is worse today, posing a much greater threat to our Constitutional Government, than in the past. Thus, it is essential to more fully appreciate that as we venture further from the Constitution and the rule of law, it is the result of steps taken since the Nixon era.

There have been commissions that have investigated import issues in my life-time. I'd like to discuss two of them, without any focus what so ever on if I or anyone else agrees fully, partially, or not at all with their conclusions. These include the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission. Both interviewed numerous witnesses, yet neither was televised. Their results were issued in reports that were significantly longer, more detailed, and much less likely to be read by average people. As a result, it is accurate to say that neither had the influence of the Ervin Committee. If this was intentional or not is a very different matter.

That fox Nixon's pathology would not be expressed publicly until the powerfully tense interviews with David Frost. VP Bush the Elder was allowed to skate by saying he was unaware of what was going on with Iran-Contra. George W. Bush and VP Cheney would testify together in secret. "So ?," you may reasonably ask. So there is a pattern here, one that is significant as we consider why republicans are so opposed to a January 6 Commission. Identifying it will surely bring back memories, for DU Elders, of the frequent "Can you find the face in this tree?" puzzle in our Weekly Readers. (Younger folks may be more familiar with finding dead, rotting trees in republican faces.)

Part of this is simply a result of cowardice and fear. A few DC republicans have said, off the record, that they fear for their family's and their safety, due to the rabid threats of the Trump cult. They are not only hoping that AOC, Nancy, and VP Harris are the cult's primary targets -- they are okay with sacrificing Mike Pence. Think about that.

Still more are afraid that not only Trump & fiends will be exposed for promoting the violence, but that their own role will be exposed on live television, for all to see. Mitch and Kevin are fully aware of what this would do to their party's chances in upcoming elections. They need to buckle their seat belts, as the old saying goes, because there is a bumpy road ahead. Do not be surprised if, when the idea of a Senate Select Committee investigation's implications become clear to them, they suddenly demand a commission.

Peace,
H2O Man

Reflections vs Reflex

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."
-- Leonardo da Vinci


I was thinking today -- as I often do -- about a discussion I had yesterday with a forum member that I have a lot of respect for. This concerned how to best respond to Marjorie Taylor Greene's aggressive onsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Our discussion was in the context of the Democratic Party's considering getting a court to get a restraining order in attempt to deal with Greene.

While out feeding the fish and birds near my pond in between thunder storms, I had one of the internal discussions common among old hermits near water. I'm fully aware that there are issues where there isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer, just differing opinions on how to reach a shared goal. More, even when there may be a correct answer, it frequently what I think is right.

I think that a court order is the way to go. My friend thinks hiring body guards is a better option. We agree that MTG presents a risk to AOC, and needs to face the consequences if her shit doesn't stop. Since I can't, I won't try to present my friend's case as s/he can. But is involves body guards protecting OAC during her duties as a member of the House of Representatives.

In her time away from her DC duties -- for example, when she appears in public for scheduled meetings -- I think that body guards are unfortunately necessary. These are strange times, and the Trump cult contains dangerous wingnuts. These include the brain-dead individuals who may be inspired by MTG's hatred of Alexandria.

Body guards could do little to nothing about MTG's unstable though berbal attacks on AOC in the congressional setting. But a restraining order, if violated, would involve legal consequences. It would add pressure for republican leaders to agree to firm consequences, too. For as the late Vine Deloria, Jr., noted in his classic "We Talk, You Listen," if you apply maximum pressure on a weak link in any organization, the others will gladly sacrifice that person.

It is true that, initially, republicans and their media parrots would mock AOC for getting a restraining order. It is equally true if she is surrounded by body guards. Indeed, it iwould be equally true if she found the cure for cancer. In my opinion, we should never allow what type of vile ugliness the republicans put on the table.

While I sit at my pond, I remember some of the things that I learned about the human experience from Chief Paul Waterman. Divisions in society always raise, for a time, the most extreme people to positions of "leadership" -- and they lead in the direction of the most extreme impulses, including mindless violence. Their words and actions are a reflection of their inner turmoil. It would be a mistake for us to mirror those reflections.

The solution is only and always found in adherence to the rule of law. That rule of law is found in the US Constitution, and in the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace. Adherence to the rule of law does not equate to being the willing victim of violence -- it does not exclude self-defense. To paraphrase Malcolm X, I think that if someone comes to your home to harm you and yours, you should send them to the ER, to jail, or to the cemetery.

In the public square, however, we want to reduce the need for body guards, and the number of angry, unstable, armed individuals. This is best accomplished by the rule of law. Despite the frequent failures of the legal system -- from police violence to stratified justice in the courts -- the actual rule of law offers the potential for a more just society.

Peace,
H2O Man

War Zero

. "He started a fight with a cop, beat the cop senseless, snatched his gun, picked him up and dumped him in an alley, then walked away smiling, wearing the cop's hat."


Tell the truth: as soon as you read the above description of an angry teenager, did you immediately think, "It has to be Ted Cruz!"? Hard to believe, but that was world heavyweight champion Charles "Sonny" Liston, considered by historians to be tied for second with Mike Tyson, behind Ted when it comes to naked masculinity. Thus, one day after my in-depth review of the shallowness of Matt Gaetz and Rudy G, and unprotected exposure to media reports on Cruz, I must pay homage to Ted.

Thank the Lord, and the republic, for which He stands, that someone finally has the audacity to confront the greatest crisis in America today: soldiers who have engaged in ballet. For we know that Ted would never attempt a cheap and tawdry attack upon, say, a lesbian couple or a military member who hopes for a peaceful world. It ain't in Ted's DNA to make such an obvious appeal to the Trump cult. It's the very idea of ballet that so upsets him that the lard which distorts his facial features quiver in Listonian rage.

Every fiber in Ted's para-corpse is all about protecting this country. Recently, while many were ice skating along the froozen water pipes in Texas, Ted bravely served as body guard for his daughters in Calcun. We all remember when another presidential candidate made fun of Ted's wife in 2016, how Ted got in the guy's face and made him piss his pants on stage at the next debate. Clearly, Ted Cruz was the inspiration for Dexter's "Dark Passenger."

Now let's consider the very real dangers that ballet poses to our military and, indeed, the whole fucking nation. It started in Italy, and spread to France and Russia, which is more than enough to make you choke on your Freedom Fries. Mueller ignored this, for obvious reasons. Don't expect VP Harris to address this, either. Only Ted.

What type of influence does exposure to ballet classes pose as a teen pose to future soldiers? It's simply too frightening to think about. Luckily, no fan of Ted Cruz can be accused of thinking. Surely, only the William Wallace of this era would dare confront the threat head on. I am convinced that Ted was baptised in Franklin Graham's swimming pool. Is there any other irrational explanation for this brave, self-sacrificing leadership?

Over the years, I have mentioned the sport of boxing on this forum. In fact, I am not going to stop with Liston and Tyson here today. I want to mention Evander Holyfield. Yet I am ashamed to say that while he was winning world titles, he also attended ballet classes as an important part of his training. Ballet helped him beat the shit out of tough guys who were a lot bigger than Evander. What a cowardly chicken. He's no he-man's man, like Ted.

I think Evander took ballet to undermine our country, soil the flag, and trample the Constitution. Darn him. I can say with certainty that Holyfield is currently in training, to prepare to participate in the "old man's league" of boxing exhibitions. We need our heavyweight champpion, Ted Cruz, to go confront Evander, even more violently than he did that guy who made fun of his wife on national television.

Heck, we could even get a funny video of it for Ted's anti-ballot campaign.



Peace,
H2O Man

In Cold Blood

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
― D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature


"He laid back on the soft feather bed. His eyes were closed as he reached to unbutton his trousers, listening to the sound of his young new lover ...." Okay, okay, that's not a line from Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover," it's just a way of mentioning Rudy Giuliani and Matt Gaetz in the manner the nation will long remember them by. Rudy in his role as himself in Borat 2, and Matt as witnesses testify against him in an upcoming thriller soon to be released on live television.

It's almost tragic in a comical sense -- or perhaps comical in a tragic sense -- that these two lads were too busy being hard, stoic lady-killers commiting crimes, rather than reading some of the novels of the past. Both were attracted to the gravitational force of Donald Trump, just as those with anti-social personality disorders become moths to the flame of a sociopath.

"But my client can only be charged with being a dreamer, no not the type that inhabit our wonderful and just nation illegally," a lawyer shall say forcefully in both opening- and closing statements of partial truth. For Rudy and Matt are Perry, the Dreamer from the classic "In Cold Blood." And Perry had dreamed of a big yellow bird since childhood, a bird that protected him when he was faced with danger. More, the big yellow bird renders a savage revenge upon all those even seeking to harm Perry.

Historians might argue that Perry was color-blind, and that the actual big bird of his dreams was actually orange. But no matter. Perry was the very definition of an anti-social personality disordered man. Brutal in nature, but yet living by his own criminal code of conduct, until he meets and teams up with Dick, a sociopath. Dick plays a father-figure to Perry, for follows him with a cult-like devotion. To Dick, Perry represents a physically strong, mentally weak man he kind of likes, and finds useful.

But when the shit hits the fan -- like it is for Rudy and Matt today, at this very hour -- and Dick and Perry are arrested for vicious murders at the Clutter farm, only one of the two remains loyal to the other. In one of the most pathetic parts of the book/movie, he actually believes his friend shares that same sense of loyalty. But the friend doesn't. Can you guess who is who?

Although it was Perry who murdered the four family members in brutal fashion, his criminal code of conduct had had him prevent Dick from raping the teenaged daughter before Perry killed her. In that sense, he may be distinct from a Rudy or a Matt. But they are going to end up coming to a similar recognition: there ain't no yellow bird going to come from the sky to save you. Instead, Perry recognizes that he has lived the hopeless dream of his abusive father.

Had Rudy and/or Matt taken the time, they might have understood the concept of metaphor. But nay! They were too busy committing crimes. When it was published, the Capote book's title was recognized as a metaphor for the lack of emotion that sociopaths have when torturing, even killing, their victims. Today, their cold-blooded behaviors are understood in a manner that should prevent anyone from expecting Donald Trump to be loyal to any person but himself.


Zombies




I found the news of twelve mass shootings in America last weekend difficult to watch, so I tuned out the news for a few days. Instead, I focused my attention on the garden during the day, and a series of Robert Sapolski's lectures at night. If you've never listened to Sapolski, you should do yourself a favor, and find him on youtube.

Last night, I turned on the news, and watched reports about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marjorie Taylor Greene. I couldn't have a higher opinion of Alexandria, or a lower opinion of Greene. But then it hit me: Greene had harassed David Hogg in the same manner that she did Alexandria. And Hogg, of course, was among those who had endured a school shooting, and has worked to prevent other youngsters from suffering the same fate.

Greene is a "rising star" within the republican party, as a direct result of her being a toxic, ill-mannered, shallow-thinking, loud mouth. There is, of course, stiff competition for being the most unhinged republican in DC. There is the spastic sphincter Matt Gaetz, though it seems possible he will not survive past June. There is Louie Gohmert, reported to be the stone baby removed from actor Pat Buttram's character, Mr. Haney. Gohmert is as dangerous as he is foolish -- the nerve of him to recently praise Dr. King, then compare the violent criminals from January 6 to King's non-violent followers.

Several people have asked me for my opinion of how seemingly intelligent people would be as invested in the Trump cult as many of their family and (former) friends are? My opinion is of no more or less than any other person's, but my answer is rooted in what is remembered as "Nayirah's testimony." As part of a larger perception management operation, in 1990, a 15-year old girl, known at the time only as "Nayirah," told a news conference about invading Iraqi soldiers tossing babies out of incubators. This staged lie got Bush the Elder the support he needed to invade Iraq.

A decade later, George W. Bush used a similar perception management program that usedmushroom clouds and yellow cake to scare enough of the American people to believe there was justification for the US to invade Iraq. And there are still people who are utterly convinced that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Consider, if you will, the political nature of those who still believe: is it coincidence that they are exclusively republicans?

Think back to when VP Cheney would send a lie to Judith Miller, who would publish the lie on the front page of the New York Times the next day, without attributing the claim to its source. Since "the next day" was always, by design a Sunday, Cheney & Co. would appear on the talk shows, and bring up the Millier story. Many people believed Miller then, some still do.

So we see that "perception management" is generally geared towards two strong emotions -- outrage and fear. Rubin used to tell me that in prison, a rumor twice repeated has become accepted fact. We are there as a nation, when the majority of the republican party are loyal members of the Trump cult. And lies are repeated hundreds of times on Fox and related "fake media."

The word "hate" is used on Fox five times more often per day than its closest rivals. I do not have the statistics on the word "fear." Fox has outrage for its tongue. Fox plants the seeds of deceit in fertile ground. These are people who are in no way limited to fearing they might "lose" their country in the future. They aren't worried about white Europeans flooding their towns and cities. They will insist they aren't prejudice, but they just aren't comfortable with non-white people immigrating from Central America.

In fact, they are more comfortable watching the Barbies and Kens on Fox, than the more diverse hosts on MSNBC or CNN, though they are most likely unaware that this is a factor in their choice of news sources. Because Fox parrots the lies of republicans, it reinforces it in those who are at risk for non-rational thinking and foolish beliefs. And this generates the level of outrage and fear we currently witness behaving in outrageous and fearful manners.

It is often said that there are is no free lunch. I think it is more accurate to say the right-wing republicans, acting like they are out to lunch, have very little free will when it comes to conscious thought.

Back out to my garden. An old friend of over half a century asked why I hadn't posted here lately, so blame this essay on Beth, a free spirit.

Peace,
H2O Man

Girl, Interrupted

https://abcnews.go.com/US/sixth-grade-girl-opens-fire-middle-school-idaho/story?id=77543562

Just my opinion, but the "answer" to this would not have been to have all sixth-graders armed with guns. But that's just me. Before anyone here savagely attacks me with the 'ole "a good armed sixth-grader is the best answer to a bad sixth-grader with a gun in the classroom, let me explain.

Years ago, a local historical society requested that I apply for recognition on the state and federal historic registration for a church in a hamlet with a population of less than thirty people. Having grown up in the suburbs of an even smaller hamlet some four miles away, and having numerour resources to document local history, I was happy to lend a hand.

The first church here doubled as the school, as was common in this area in the early post-Revolutionary War era. One spring day, the people inside the building were having a discussion about if there was a need for a new roof. About a third of the community said yes, a third no, and a third were willing to go along with what others decided.

As they debated and argued inside, a severe storm entered the sky from the northwest. (This, of course, was like an almost exact storm arose in one of Mohawk Leader Joseph Brant's meetings with General Herkimer during the Revolutionary War, some eight miles away.) The force of the storm collapsed half of the church's roof, ending the debate.

A teenager who used oxen to bring large rocks to build a new church's foundation -- and who worked at a "cloth & carding factory" at the falls near my house -- would become an attorney, a state official, and a US Senator and then federal Attorney. He married the daughter of a doctor who lived in my house, famously locally for his blue pills and anti-slavery pamphlets. (I tend the doctor's grave, across the street from the church, in a cemetery we also got on the state and national historic registers.)

Daniel Dickinson, before his political career, also was the moving force for the building of a new school, also across the road from the church. Then, one of the first "colleges" next to the school, though it had a short existence. More, Dickinson became an early advocate for government support for public schools.

To get permission to submit the application for recognition on the state and federal registers, I had to speak to the church membership. Not surprisingly, about a third supported the idea, a third opposed it, and a third were willing to go along with whatever the others decided. So I told the story of the first church-school and the storm. We discussed people's concerns. They approved by a vote of two-to-one.

Now, I've said all of that, to say this: in my younger years, I had a lot of experience working on foundations. That included re-building and improving an entire wall of the stone basement of my first house. I prefer stone to brick, but have familiarity with both. And I know if a structure has a weak foundation, its roof will leak in short order.

Having a sixth grade girl bring a gun to school, and shoot people, is very clear evidence of the storm coming with a force that could destroy our society's roof. We need to be focused on this. Yet we must, at the same time, recognize this is due to the weakening of the foundations of our society.

There is no time to wait. Time is neutral, as Dr. King told us. And the forces of a storm of decay has gathered, and continues to gain strength. Stay active in social-political efforts. We can all make contributions. Anyone who has convinced you that your contribution isn't of value or needed has lied to you. It really is up to us.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Sounds of Silence




A water main breaks every two minutes somewhere in the United States. Many of these can be repaired with relative ease. But others create a more serious problem for those who depend on it for water. By no coincidence, these tend to be those in urban neighborhoods, that date back from approximately 1930 to 1955. The "life expectancy of the best of those pipes is 75 years.

There is a curious delay in most cities to repair these breaks, or replace the systems. This often involves differing opinions about if such projects should be funded by the city, state, or federal government, or any combination of the three. This has a negative impact on the residents of neighborhoods without water. The residents of such neighborhoods are overwhelmingly non-white human beings residing in "low-income" neighborhoods.

One would be justified in considering if repairs might be considered more urgent if it supplied a wealthy, white neighborhood. You might even go so far as to speculate that this alone is strong evidence of systematic racism.

Poverty, as Gandhi noted, is the worst form of violence.

An old friend called me, saying that he had never found an Indian artifact, asking if I could take him out where he might find one. I met him at the "walking trail" in the village he resides in. He assumed that this did not involve finding artifacts, so much as talking, when we began our stroll. The few other people out walking easily passed us -- two old men hobbling along with walking sticks -- as a light rain began to fall.

Bill was talking about how he, as a grandfather, was worried about the country's future. He is very happy that Joe Biden is president, but recognizes that the Trump cult is a growing threat to democracy. Has has "un-friended" about half the guys and gals we grew up with, because they are toxic. Likewise, he has cut off all communications with a number of family members.

"You seem to keep more balanced with the assholes," he said. "How do you manage that?" I said I usually just post youtube videos on facebook of the great musicians we were raised on. Even the cult members tend to like them. This leads to discussions -- not often "public" -- about how when we were young, we saw social injustice and tried to confront it. The older generations told us, "No! No! No! You're wrong" (especially when I was a boy, listening to John's "She Said, She Said". But we had believed in something, just like this younger generation of Black Lives Matter." For, as Malcolm X taught, if you want people to act differently, you must first help them to think differently.

"Holy shit!," my friend said, as he picked up an arrowhead along the path we were walking. Soon, I picked up a mighty fine one myself, and we headed, slowly, back to our cars. History is right there, under our feet, in the earth.

On the ride home, up until when I started writing this, I have been thinking about the teachings of the Iroquois prophets, Sapling (circa 2000 bc), the Peacemaker (circa 425 ad), and Hiawatha (circa 840). In each of their eras, there was social strife and violence. I think about the hours that I spent talking about these things with Chief Waterman.

And I think about my late friend Rubin Carter's teachings. Today is his birthday, and I find myself wishing that I could talk to Chief Waterman and Rubin about the strange society I am inhabiting in my old age. Then I laugh, as I hear them saying, "We've already told you."

Peace,
H2O Man


"Silence is the true language of cosmic adoration." -- Gandhi
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