Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Give the Man a Flip-Flop

You know, I hope John Kerry comes to the debate tomorrow evening with a whole crate of flip-flops for the number of times President Bush has changed his justification for the war in Iraq. Bush deserves that. Has anyone noticed the most recent change?
Yes we're still trying to establish democracy in Iraq. My friend - and I am writing forgivingly - Eric characterizes "democracy" this way, and I quote a recent entry in his web log, "The founders of this country despised democracy and rightly so, as it amounts to little more than mob rule." Yet Bush still appears to claim that he wishes to establish democracy in Iraq and let it spread throughout the Middle East. If in fact democracy is little more than mob rule, perhaps that's why Bush cites progress in what the rest of us view as chaos?
Although some right wingers still hold out hope that Bush will find WMDs in Iraq, that is no longer the justification for war. Saddam has been in prison for a long time now but yet the war continues to escalate so catching Saddam the tyrant obviously wasn't the justification.
We all know that oil wasn't the justification. Bush said so himself prior to the war.
But there is a new justification and Bush has been talking about it recently. Iraq, according to Bush, is now the central staging area for the War on Terror. Finally there is a battleground for that war and Iraq is it. Afghanistan didn't work because the terrorists and the Taliban simply melted away there, but Iraq is working. Without the consent of the Iraqi people, George W. Bush and his band of warlords have decided that fighting terrorists in Iraq makes a whole lot more sense than fighting them here in the US.
And my response to that thought?
Eric, fill me in here... What is my response supposed to be if I were a loyal American patriot?

Liberal

In the United States, the word "liberal" has become a political slur word, an insult. It's a little bit hard to understand how a word like that can become an insult. Websters defines the word in glowing terms:
giving freely, generous... large or plentiful, ample, abundant... tolerant of views differing from one's own... of democratic or republican forms of government, as distinguished from monarchies, aristocracies, etc.
I was reading last spring in a book I bought on sale, the Eighth Edition of A History of the Modern World, and came across a discussion of the terms "liberalism," "conservatism," and "socialism" as well as several other "ism" words, all of which came about in the english language in the first half of the 19th Century. That was a time of political upheaval in Europe driven by the industrialization of production and the demand for free trade.
Liberals at that time were the leaders of modern production. They favored free trade and opposed government controls of production and resources. They were afraid of democracy and organized labor and generally favored low wages for production workers. They believed that progress could be made by peaceful means and were opposed to war as a means of social change.
Conservatism was the political system which favored the preservation of the existing monarchies, aristocracies, and churches.
Socialism was the movement to represent the interests of the common people, the working class, against the interests of the wealthy owners of land and the means of production. Higher wages, shorter work days, ending child labor, and the welfare of the working class as well as government ownership of resources were all favored by the socialists.
An interesting aside in that discussion is republicanism, its opposition of the Catholic Church, its development of secret societies, its favor of democracy and universal suffrage, and its willingness to use force for "overthrowing existing regimes."
On the basis of that background, it is nearly impossible for me to understand the use of these words in today's America. It is almost as though the words have been entirely redefined, but I don't understand the need for doing that.
We all know that the "welfare state" was conceived and is maintained by socialists. I mean, there are "social workers" working in "social services", frequently educated in "sociology." Labor unions advocate high wages, short work days, generous benefits, and government controls of industry all at the expense of business owners and management. Universal suffrage has been achieved and has led to the success of the socialist agenda protecting the welfare of not just the working class but the nonworkers as well. Yet none of this is referred to today as socialism.
Meanwhile, free trade is back in the limelight. This one is a real mystery because it is being promoted by both of the major political parties in America. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party favor free trade. Free trade and hands-off industrialization are hallmarks of classic liberalism, yet that word is not used in this context now. There is no longer any word other than Globalization to describe the politics of free trade.
Conservatism presumably no longer exists as a political movement outside of the Middle East, but conservatives do. Yet the political meaning of the word "conservative" has nothing to do with conservation unless it is the conservation of the wealth and power of the wealthy. Then again, wasn't that what classic conservatism was? But in today's America, conservative politics also embraces both 19th Century republicanism and classic liberalism, free trade and laissez faire economics.
Why do we call republican liberals "conservatives" while we call socialist liberals "liberals" and what gives the republican liberals the right to use the term "liberal" as a slur? I mean, if you want to slur someone who promotes the welfare state, at least have the decency to call them something that you yourself aren't, right? Call the welfare state people socialists. Call the free trade people liberal. Forget the word "conservative" because that has completely lost its meaning other than the preservation of non-Catholic Christianity as the state religion. There IS no state religion! Just forget that word completely. So a liberal republican would be a free trade advocate who believes in using force to spread democratic forms of free trade advocating governments. Bush and Kerry would both be liberal republicans.
Wouldn't that be an easier way to understand American politics?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Parallel Worlds

I think I have reached a point in my life where I need to concede to the idea that there are parallel worlds, that some of us live in one of those worlds while the rest of us live in the other. I have further come to the conclusion that the leader of one of these worlds is currently George W. Bush while the other world has no one specific leader. In Bush's world, secrecy is the key to gaining and holding power. In the other world, in the other reality, advocating and living in openness and truth is the only way to lead.
The real irony is that these two worlds coexist. For instance, members of both worlds and their corresponding populations live in the USA and vote in American elections. In the Bush world, John Kerry is trying to become the leader of the Bush world by appealing to the voters of this alternative world to vote him in. The great fear of the members of Bush's world is that on election day, more people from this other world will show up and vote for Kerry than will people voting from Bush's world. Some of the Bush people even are afraid because those of us in this other world actually have the right to vote in their world's elections!
I've been backed into this corner where I have to believe this way by the people I have encountered who actually do live in a world - in a reality - where George W. Bush has not told any lies. I have encountered quite a few "fundamentalist" Christians who live in this reality, but Bush's world is not limited to this group. Many others also live there. There seem to be quite a few young adults in their mid-20s living in that same existence. Many of them are chicken-hawks just like Bush was at their age. They support the wars but are not willing to fight in them, are not willing to risk their own lives to fight their perceived enemies. There are also the conservative radio talk show entertainers like Rush Limbaugh and all of their ditto friends. And there are more, many many more, all of whom live in this Pleasantville world where everything exists in black and white, right and wrong, good and evil.
Meanwhile, people like me live in a world where not only is it possible that George W. Bush may have told some lies, it is impossible to believe that he hasn't been lying to us in so many ways and in so many instances that even we have become numb to his technique. If that isn't a separate reality, I simply don't know what is. In our reality we see all of George Bush's supporters blinded by nationalistic pride, wrapped in symbols of nationalism and believing wholeheartedly that Bush flawlessly represents those symbols. Who was that Texas Ranger guy that Chuck Norris played on TV? Watching the Bush world play itself out is as surreal as watching that TV show. Right is right, wrong is wrong, and pride is everything.
But here is the problem. In the world in which I live, in the reality that I share with those who disbelieve George Bush, John Kerry isn't the solution. John Kerry is the man who is challenging Bush's power, but it is impossible to see him as the leader of this parallel world. For people to lead in this other world, they need to be truthful, open, and honest, people trustworthy enough to not have a complete parallel world shadowing them, making them look bright. Kerry just doesn't seem to be that kind of person. Just like Bush, Kerry seems to live in a dark world of secrets and twisted truths.
The year 2004 doesn't seem to be the year in which our reality emerges. For some reason, God only knows why, there are still lessons to be learned from Bush World. Even if Kerry somehow does emerge as the winner, Bush World will remain. The fools entertaining Bush World on conservative radio will remain. The fools listening to those fools will remain. The fools paying those fools to fool their listeners will remain. Kerry will be crippled by them and Bush World will rise again into the prominence of its own blind pride. Truth will remain elusive, masked and hidden by the dark world of dirty politics.
I think what puzzles me the most, though, is how in Bush World, even though everything is in black and white, black is white and white is black, Orwellian... sometimes... sometimes not. I mean, at the 9/11 Commission hearings this summer, practically the entire Bush team explained how 9/11 was necessary, how it was a blessing in disguise, a needed wake-up call. Heck, guys, it wasn't that long ago that you were calling it an evil deed of terrorists bent on destroying freedom. Now it's a blessing? Which is it? Is it black or is it white? Or is black white and white black? I'm confused, obviously. But I am confused because I don't live in a reality where horrible acts of terrorism are blessings. That's something that can only exist in your reality, not in mine. Shock and awe might be lessons, but they sure as heck aren't necessary blessings.

Who's Lying?

http://www.whoslying.org/
I just came across this site. I'll have to keep an eye on it...

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Another Good Reason to Lie

President Bush will have to tell some lies out there on the campaign trail to hide this news:
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000006&sid=a7Af_f_cXkW0&refer=home
I was thinking yesterday about politics while I was busy gathering firewood and it dawned on me more than it ever has before that politics, especially at the national level, is a game and as in all games, you can play fair or you can cheat. The thing is, there are very few actual rules to stop politicians from cheating. The public actually expects politicians to cheat.
But there is a bit of a double standard in US politics. Members of the Democratic Party are supposed to play the game straight. When they cheat or lie or even when there is an appearance that they might have cheated or lied, Republicans and the conservative media point out to the public that someone cheated. Somehow the public has come to the idea that Democrats should play the game of politics straight, that there is an expected standard of honesty for the Democratic Party.
However, there seems to be no standard at all when it comes to the Republican Party. Nobody is monitoring them. There really is no liberal mainstream media reporting on Republican lies and cheats and dirty politics. The mainstream media just doesn't dare to do it and the fringe left has only a weak voice in the media. The conservative right has voices all over the radio dial plus Fox News, but the left has almost nothing. On how many radio stations throughout America do you hear Amy Goodman? Not many. On how many do you hear Rush Limbaugh? Lots!!
So while Rush and all of his friends hold the Democrats to a higher standard, almost nobody is holding the Republicans in line. The result is that nearly all of the dirty politics on the national scale have come from Republicans. In fact, the Republicans have a whole war chest of dirty tricks and dirty tricksters for hire and have been running campaigns this way since the days of Richard Nixon. Conservative media won't report it and nobody in the mainstream media dares to report about it.
What the Boston Globe and Michael Moore did with respect to George Bush's National Guard service wasn't dirty politics despite the Republican and conservative media response. George Bush has been keeping a secret since 1972 which if exposed would cause him political embarrassment. The Globe and Moore have been trying to bring that secret to the surface, but Bush has effectively kept it suppressed. This is politics - even negative politics - but it isn't dirty politics to try to expose the truth.
What the Swift Boat vets for Bush did is dirty politics, using lies and clever deceit to smear the reputation of an opponent. That is playing the game dirty. That is using the cheats.
We need to know what kind of man we are voting for. If George Bush used political favoritism to get a safe job in the military during wartime, if he used favoritism and asked others to do the fighting for him, and if despite the enormous break he was given, he still spent months of his enlistment neglecting his responsibility, and if ever since then he has used power to cover up what he did, shouldn't we know about that? If Bush is that kind of man, shouldn't we know?
The double standard is this, though. Democrats have to use the truth. Republicans can use lies. The whole country knows it too. The whole country knows that Democrats expect the truth from their elected representatives while Republicans hold their representatives to no such standard.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Chinese Proverbs

I got this in an email today but I don't know its source:
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Virginity like bubble, one prick, all gone.
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Man who run in front of car get tired.
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Man who run behind car get exhausted.
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Man with hand in pocket feel cocky all day.
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Foolish man give wife grand piano, wise man give wife upright organ.
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Man who walk through airport turnstile sideways going to Bangkok.
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Man who scratch ass should not bite fingernails.
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Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.
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Baseball is wrong: man with four balls cannot walk.
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War does not determine who is right, war determine who is left.
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Wife who put husband in doghouse soon find him in cat house.
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Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night
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It take many nails to build crib, but one screw to fill it.
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Man who drive like hell, bound to get there.
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Man who stand on toilet is high on pot
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Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.
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Man who fish in other man's well often catch crabs.
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Man who fart in church sit in own pew.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Crowded elevator smell different to midget.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Forgery

I haven't made any comments yet about the CBS 60 Minutes story that presented what appear to be forged documents about George W. Bush's Vietnam-era service. I have been waiting for the dust to settle where it may. But I have been trying to keep an open mind about it all. Were the documents really forged? If so, by whom and for what purpose? Why, if they were, was the forger so stupid as to use a computer to generate them and why not use a font that would emulate a common typewriter? Could the forger have been that stupid?
But all this does is it raises the question of whether the forger was smart enough to want the documents to appear forged, wanted the forgeries detected? And that raises the question about why CBS didn't detect the possibility of forgery. Nothing about this story seems to make any sense to me other than the obvious results. This story has defused the debate about Bush's service records during the Vietnam era. That's the only obvious result of this whole mess. This whole debate that arose from the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 and then blew up as apparent backlash for the swift boat veterans against Kerry smear has been diverted to a debate about the credibility of CBS News and Dan Rather.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Email from Kerry about Iraq

Here is an email I received today from the Kerry campaign:
*******
Dear Bill,
This election is about choices. The most important choices a president makes are about protecting America at home and around the world. A president's first obligation is to make America safer, stronger and truer to our ideals.
Three years ago, the events of September 11 reminded every American of that obligation. That day brought to our shores the defining struggle of our times: the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. And it made clear that our most important task is to fight and to win the war on terrorism.
In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straight forward. The terrorists are beyond reason. We must destroy them. As president, I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies. But billions of people around the world yearning for a better life are open to America's ideals. We must reach them.
To win, America must be strong. And America must be smart. The greatest threat we face is the possibility Al Qaeda or other terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.
To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of America's strength -- strong alliances, to help us stop the world's most lethal weapons from falling into the most dangerous hands. A powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And all of America's power -- our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal of our values -- each of which is critical to making America more secure and preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging.
National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made and the choices I would make to fight and win the war on terror.
That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The president claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.
This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost in Iraq. Their sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly, an American burden. Nearly 90 percent of the troops -- and nearly 90 percent of the casualties -- are American. Despite the president's claims, this is not a grand coalition.
Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve. Their service humbles all of us. When I speak to them when I look into the eyes of their families, I know this: we owe them the truth about what we have asked them to do and what is still to be done.
In June, the president declared, "The Iraqi people have their country back." Just last week, he told us: "This country is headed toward democracy. Freedom is on the march."
But the administration's own official intelligence estimate, given to the president last July, tells a very different story.
According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the president is saying to the American people.
So do the facts on the ground.
Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.
42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July -- 66 in August and already 54 halfway through September.
And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August -- more than in any other month since the invasion.
We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times -- a 400% increase.
Falluja, Ramadi, Samarra, even parts of Baghdad -- are now "no go zones" -- breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.
Violence against Iraqis from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation is on the rise.
Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.
Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.
Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.
Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.
Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.
But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they're sitting on the fence instead of siding with us against the insurgents.
That is the truth -- the truth that the commander in chief owes to our troops and the American people.
It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. But it's essential if we want to correct our course and do what's right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.
The president has said that he "miscalculated" in Iraq and that it was a "catastrophic success." In fact, the president has made a series of catastrophic decisions from the beginning in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction.
The first and most fundamental mistake was the president's failure to tell the truth to the American people.
He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens.
By one count, the president offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.
His two main rationales -- weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection -- have been proved false by the president's own weapons inspectors and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.
The president also failed to level with the American people about what it would take to prevail in Iraq.
He didn't tell us that well over 100,000 troops would be needed, for years, not months. He didn't tell us that he wouldn't take the time to assemble a broad and strong coalition of allies. He didn't tell us that the cost would exceed $200 billion. He didn't tell us that even after paying such a heavy price, success was far from assured.
And America will pay an even heavier price for the president's lack of candor.
At home, the American people are less likely to trust this administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and pressing threats to our security.
Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek to rally them against a common menace -- as they are today. Our credibility in the world has plummeted.
In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: "The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."
How many world leaders have that same trust in America's president, today?
This president's failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.
The president now admits to "miscalculations" in Iraq.
That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment -- and judgment is what we look for in a president.
This is all the more stunning because we're not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings... major outside studies... and even some in the administration itself... predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.
This president was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences.
The administration told us we'd be greeted as liberators. They were wrong.
They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure. They were wrong.
They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong.
They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong.
They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.
In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the president has held no one accountable, including himself.
In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.
General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn't part of the original coalition -- pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this president has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?
By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.
Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were... and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12, headlines in newspapers abroad declared "we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the president squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.
We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the vice president claimed, "reconstituted nuclear weapons."
The president's policy in Iraq took our attention and resources away from other, more serious threats to America.
Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under this president's watch -- the emerging nuclear danger from Iran -- the tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in Russia -- and the increasing instability in Afghanistan.
Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for those responsible for September 11 in order invade Iraq.
We know Iraq played no part in September 11 and had no operational ties to Al Qaeda.
The president's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is, and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United States.
We know that while Iraq was a source of friction, it was not previously a source of serious disagreement with our allies in Europe and countries in the Muslim world.
The president's policy in Iraq divided our oldest alliance and sent our standing in the Muslim world into free fall. Three years after 9/11, even in many moderate Muslim countries like Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey, Osama bin Laden is more popular than the United States of America.
Let me put it plainly: The president's policy in Iraq has not strengthened our national security. It has weakened it.
Two years ago, Congress was right to give the president the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This president, any president would have needed the threat of force to act effectively. This president misused that authority.
The power entrusted to the president gave him a strong hand to play in the international community. The idea was simple. We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed.
A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: "If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail." He said that military action wasn't "unavoidable."
Instead, the president rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done.
Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no -- because a commander in chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.
Now the president, in looking for a new reason, tries to hang his hat on the "capability" to acquire weapons. But that was not the reason given to the nation; it was not the reason Congress voted on; it's not a reason, it's an excuse. Thirty-five to forty countries have greater capability to build a nuclear bomb than Iraq did in 2003. Is President Bush saying we should invade them?
I would have concentrated our power and resources on defeating global terrorism and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. I would have tightened the noose and continued to pressure and isolate Saddam Hussein -- who was weak and getting weaker -- so that he would pose no threat to the region or America.
The president's insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the commander in chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the president himself. If George W. Bush is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be.
In Iraq, we have a mess on our hands. But we cannot throw up our hands. We cannot afford to see Iraq become a permanent source of terror that will endanger America's security for years to come.
All across this country people ask me what we should do now. Every step of the way, from the time I first spoke about this in the Senate, I have set out specific recommendations about how we should and should not proceed. But over and over, when this administration has been presented with a reasonable alternative, they have rejected it and gone their own way. This is stubborn incompetence.
Five months ago, in Fulton, Missouri, I said that the president was close to his last chance to get it right. Every day, this president makes it more difficult to deal with Iraq -- harder than it was five months ago, harder than it was a year ago. It is time to recognize what is -- and what is not -- happening in Iraq today. And we must act with urgency.
Just this weekend, a leading Republican, Chuck Hagel, said we're "in deep trouble in Iraq ... it doesn't add up ... to a pretty picture [and] ... we're going to have to look at a recalibration of our policy." Republican leaders like Dick Lugar and John McCain have offered similar assessments.
We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq.
First, the president has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone. It is late; the president must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support.
Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the president finally went back to the U.N. which passed Resolution 1546. It was the right thing to do -- but it was late.
That resolution calls on U.N. members to help in Iraq by providing troops, trainers for Iraq's security forces, a special brigade to protect the U.N. mission, more financial assistance, and real debt relief.
Three months later, not a single country has answered that call. And the president acts as if it doesn't matter.
And of the $13 billion previously pledged to Iraq by other countries, only $1.2 billion has been delivered.
The president should convene a summit meeting of the world's major powers and Iraq's neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that U.N. resolution. He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq's borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq's future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq's oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process.
This will be difficult. I and others have repeatedly recommended this from the very beginning. Delay has made only made it harder. After insulting allies and shredding alliances, this president may not have the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to succeed.
Second, the president must get serious about training Iraqi security forces.
Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces.
But guess what? Neither number bears any relationship to the truth. For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the administration's own minimal standards. And of the 35,000 police now in uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program. Is it any wonder that Iraqi security forces can't stop the insurgency or provide basic law and order?
The president should urgently expand the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq. He should strengthen the vetting of recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field training. He should recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq. He should press our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries. And he should stop misleading the American people with phony, inflated numbers.
Third, the president must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people.
Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a priority, 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is critical, 17 months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less likely to shoot at our soldiers.
One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18 billion to help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to the insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have actually been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our policies and set standards of accountability. Now we're paying the price.
Now, the president should look at the whole reconstruction package, draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects, and cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging the reconstruction effort.
Fourth, the president must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year.
Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly to write a Constitution that yields a viable power sharing arrangement.
Because Iraqis have no experience holding free and fair elections, the president agreed six months ago that the U.N. must play a central role. Yet today, just four months before Iraqis are supposed to go to the polls, the U.N. Secretary General and administration officials themselves say the elections are in grave doubt. Because the security situation is so bad and because not a single country has offered troops to protect the U.N. elections mission, the U.N. has less than 25 percent of the staff it needs in Iraq to get the job done.
The president should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won't be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces would end up bearing those burdens alone.
If the president would move in this direction, if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and forces, train the Iraqis to provide their own security, develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people, and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year -- we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years.
This is what has to be done. This is what I would do as president today. But we cannot afford to wait until January. President Bush owes it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right track. Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families, whose sacrifice is a testament to the best of America.
The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden. We must effectively train Iraqis, because they should be responsible for their own security. We must move forward with reconstruction, because that's essential to stop the spread of terror. And we must help Iraqis achieve a viable government, because it's up to them to run their own country. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous banner that read "Mission Accomplished." He declared to the American people: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective -- a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.
In Iraq, this administration's record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions.
At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the president has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.
The president often says that in a post 9/11 world, we can't hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.
George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.
George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so.
I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror -- and make us safer.
Today, because of George Bush's policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.
If you share my conviction that we can not go on as we are that we can make America stronger and safer than it is then November 2 is your chance to speak and to be heard. It is not a question of staying the course, but of changing the course.
I'm convinced that with the right leadership, we can create a fresh start and move more effectively to accomplish our goals. Our troops have served with extraordinary courage and commitment. For their sake, and America's sake, we must get this right. We must do everything in our power to complete the mission and make America stronger at home and respected again in the world.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Chicken Little

Here is a reply to one of my recent posts. For some crazy reason I feel compelled to answer it this morning. The reply is from someone whom I consider as a friend, but there is nothing at all friendly about his attack on my character. Eric said:
"Wow, lotta assumptions and speculation in that post. For all the "chicken little" ranting that you do about the Bush administration I have to say that the thing that scares me the most is that their are actually American citizens who view the world the way you do, and even more disturbingly, are allowed to vote! All this anti-Bush conspircay mumbo jumbo that I've read over the last year is at about the same level of intellectual substance as the you see in the UFO conspiracy circles. But, I think for many on your side of the isle the feeling that there is some giant evil to contend against, in this case President Bush, gives some meaning to your lives. I really do believe it's some source of stability for the left wing or peace crowd. That's the only way I can account for the absolute hatred and anger from people like you and the fact that you seem unable to accept any facts that differ from your perception of what reality is."
First, let me say that I don't have a side of the "isle" or even the "aisle" as Eric corrected himself. My political perspective is not represented in Washington. I am, if anything, somewhere between a Green and a Libertarian. From my perspective there is almost no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans who run this country. Both heavily favor Globalization. and the use of all means available to achieve its goals. Unlike most of my fellow Americans, I tend to see things from the perspective of those people in this world, and there are billions of them, who are on the losing side of the debate between national sovereignty and Globalization. of corporate power and influence. So you see, Eric, there is no "my side of the aisle" for me.
But you exclaim, Eric, that it disturbs you that people who think like me are allowed to vote in the United States, the nation of my birth, the cradle of democracy and representative government. What are you suggesting, that the White House invoke the powers of the Patriot Act to take away my vote because I see real danger in president worship? The "Right" among us Americans hold President Bush in a reverence that would befit him only if he were the Lord, or at the very least, the christened King of America. He isn't. He is an almost-elected representative of the people of America and should be thought of accordingly. He is not Mr. Perfect no matter what the hate radio talk show puppets are telling you. But he, like you, would love to strip me and my kind of the vote. I shouldn't be threatened by that?
After that, you suggest that I somehow derive my identity by frightening myself with UFO-like conspiracy theories about the Bush presidency, that the "left wing" and "peace crowd" derive "stability" from this "absolute hatred and anger." Further, Eric, you perceive that I and people like me "seem unable to accept any facts that differ from your perception of what reality is." Can't I say exactly the same thing about you right-wingers? W George Bush says you are either with us or against us. There is no middle ground, no room for alternate theories of reality. I recognize that the Right has its own perspective of reality. But you are putting it forth as though it is God's Reality, as though Bush is doing God's work. I simply can't buy that idea. How is that so un-American? Have I lost that right somewhere between 1967 and 2004? When? On 9/11/01?
Let me educate you about something, Eric. In the United States, people who don't think like you right-wingers, people who see danger when you don't, are allowed to vote. Thank you for your concern, but I believe it is you people who are drowning in your own hate and fear, and you are trying to take us down just so you can stay afloat.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Here is something I received in an email today from a friend. The author is not acknowledged but thank you whoever you are.

Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
Never buy a car you can't push.
Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time,
because then you don't have a leg to stand on.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well Just get up and dance.
The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.
When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird
names, and all are different colors but they all have to learn to live in the same box.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.
Have an awesome day, and know that someone has thought about you today....

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Re-up

Report: Soldiers say they are being threatened with Iraq duty
I think any young people who claim to believe in Bush and the Iraq War should try putting themselves in the shoes of these guys, don't you?

Friday, September 17, 2004

What Truth?

TV news has been running a clip where Dubya says that Kerry has about eight different positions on Iraq. Dubya seems to think that what America needs is one single stable position on Iraq, but I scratch my head wondering what that position might be. As near as I can tell, Bush's stable position seems to be summarized by "Bring 'em on!"
I mean, let's face it. How can Americans have a stable position when in the minds of most of us back before the war, back in 2002 and early 2003, we believed we needed to go to Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein from all of his WMDs that so threatened our security. How can we, now knowing the truth about that supposed threat, not change our position about that threat? How can we still view Iraq as a threat to American security? And now that Saddam has been removed from power, how can we justify this new rhetoric that makes the Iraqi people themselves our enemy?
I suppose, we do that by deluding ourselves into thinking that we thought that way all along?
Or do we do it by convincing ourselves that the opposition to the presence of the US military in Iraq doesn't reflect the opinion of significant political elements in Iraq? Instead, we brand those opposed to the US presence as "insurgents" and "terrorists?" That way, we convince ourselves that this "enemy" pre-existed the war?
But there are rumors "out there" that suggest that the US military isn't just out in Iraq to secure Iraqi democracy. There are rumors that the US is building permanent military bases in Iraq. The American people don't seem to know anything about that, but if it is true, don't you suppose the Iraqi people might know?
If those rumors are true - and as far as I can see, there's no reason to doubt them - then how can we believe that Bush intends to remove the troops any time in the near future? I mean, are we expected to believe that the American taxpayers are so generous that we are building permanent military bases that we intend the Iraqi military to use in the near future? Somehow I just don't think that's what is happening and I doubt that the Iraqi people believe that either.
I tend to think that when Bush refers to the "enemy" in Iraq, what he is really talking about is anybody in Iraq who opposes the idea of a permanent US military presence in Iraq.
I also tend to think that Bush sees that same "enemy" here in America. Any American opposed to the permanent deployment of US troops in Iraq is an enemy of the Bush agenda. But the thing is, if Bush were to actually admit his agenda to the world, that would add a huge amount of fuel to the fire. It would feed the "enemy." The outrage in the Middle East as well as in the rest of the world would be overwhelming.
So the Bush approach, that stable American position on Iraq, has to be a deception. Americans all have to agree to appear as though we will bring the troops home once some elusive objective is achieved. But the thing is, none of us know what that objective really is. The publicly stated American objective is about as stable as a sand bar in a hurricane.
The unfortunate thing about the Bush agenda is that Bush can't tell us the truth. That part I do understand. I'm not too thick-headed to see that. But what I don't understand is why Kerry isn't telling us the truth either. Why is Kerry searching in the dark for some kind of angle that the American voter can latch on to while he himself just continues the Bush tradition of deception? Are we supposed to be blind to Kerry's lies just because he calls Bush a liar?
Where is the truth? What is the truth? Is the truth really so objectionable that the whole world would rise up in opposition to us if we spoke it? If that's really the case, then what does that say about the United States? Have we really become the empire that we have always denied being? Are we an empire that must deceive the world with lies in order to suppers opposition? And are those who disagree with this policy really the "enemy?" Are we that divided now?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hijacking Catastrophe

There's a new film out about Bush, 9/11, the War on Terror, the cost of American empire, and the neo-conservatives. Here's a review of the film:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski89.html

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Blessing in Disguise

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who sat in front of cameras and testified to the 9/11 Commission that 9/11 was a "blessing in disguise" because it woke us up, it brought American public opinion around to supporting the War on Terror or something like that?
I know I can be slow sometimes, but a strange thing just dawned on me a few minutes ago. If such a terrorist attack can be looked back on in hindsight and seen as a "blessing in disguise," why couldn't it have also been viewed that way prior to the actual attack? Is it so far-fetched to think that perhaps there were some people in the US government prior to the 9/11 attack who were thinking, "You know, a successful terrorist attack here in the US would actually be a blessing in disguise. It would galvanize public support for military action in the Middle East."?
If Bush administration officials can think that way now, isn't it possible they could have been thinking that way before 9/11 too? But of course, they couldn't admit to it if they were. That would be admitting to treason.
On another topic, I just found this little tidbit on the net:
Leftist: "we support the troops, but don't support the war"
Me:: "yeah, and I'm a Giants fan; I just don't want them to play in the Super Bowl."
(from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/user-posts?id=106531)
So, if I read that correctly, the Iraq War is the US military's Super Bowl?????
This is supposed to represent intelligent conservative thought?
OK, and finally for this morning, I came across a website describing a book by Kitty Kelly called The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. Read this for yourself:
http://euskalherria.indymedia.org/es/2004/09/16830.shtml
Hey, who was it that doesn't like the hat I was wearing in my bio pic, huh? Come out, come out, whoever you are, Anonymous...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

In the Spirit of 9/11

I just read a very interesting perspective on 9/11, al Quaida, the Iraq War, and Islam in Juan Cole's Informed Comment, dated Saturday, September 11, 2004. The piece is titled "September 11 and Its Aftermath."

Regrettable Election

I am beginning to resign myself to what I have felt for the past couple of years was the inevitable, the re-election of George W. Bush. In some ways this reminds me of the Nixon re-election back in 1972. The American people somehow managed, under the looming shadow of Watergate, to believe that the best solution to the Vietnam problem, the war that wouldn't end, was to give Nixon four more years to settle it in some way that wouldn't be a disgrace to America. I'm sure that more than a few people who voted for Nixon that year wound up regretting their vote as the disgrace not of Vietnam but of Watergate and Nixon's resignation, and then of the disgrace of the retreat from Vietnam brought American confidence in the Republican Party to its knees.
To this day, I'm sure there are many people who would say that the problem was that America refused to trust its leaders. They say Watergate was no big deal, probably politics as usual. Wasn't that Nixon's perspective? And there are certainly many who believe that the US would have won the Vietnam War if the American people had just simply trusted their leaders to do whatever was necessary. The disgrace would have been avoided had we simply believed in President Nixon.
But I have a different take on that. I think the disgrace was brought on by the fact that the American voters believed in Nixon enough to vote him in as the President in the first place. When you choose scum to represent you in government, isn't it then your own fault that your nation is disgraced by that scum?
I think the same thing is happening to us again. 1972 was long enough back so we have basically forgotten all the lessons learned. We have scum in the White House again. Many Americans worship the President in exactly the same way that Americans worshipped Nixon before they heard the secret White House tapes. Those who don't worship Bush are still willing to re-elect him because of the ongoing "War on Terror," that never-ending battle to suppers the revolution against Globalization. The end result is going to be that Bush will win the 2004 election. Why? Because so many people are deciding their vote on one issue alone, terrorism. The American voter is afraid of terrorism with exactly the same fear that the 1972 voter feared Communism. The Bush team is capitalizing on that fear. Republicans are using that fear - remember the terrorist warning from Homeland Security for no known reason following the Democratic Convention - to frighten the voters into supporting Bush's war machine. Nixon did the same thing in 1972.
But in exactly the same way that the 1972 election led America into disgrace, I am convinced that the 2004 election, if Bush wins, will lead America back into disgrace. Bush isn't the shining angel that his supporters make him out to be. He is lying scum. Sooner or later he is going to run out of ways to keep that a secret from even the numbest of Americans. It happened to Nixon. It'll happen to Bush.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Pressure Washing

I spent the day today pressure washing a summer home on Wilson Pond. I was damp most of the day, but it was a mild day for September. I'm using the pressure washer to remove the old stain and clearcoat finish on western cedar siding trimmed with white pine. The old finish seems to be hosting mildew even though the place is only a dozen years old. My approach is to strip it with the pressure washer and then when it is dry, finish it with an oil stain that will soak into the wood. I've stained about a third of the house so far and it looks really good. I just hope it will stay looking that good for a few years.
But my cold isn't thanking me for breathing all that mildew mist today. Perhaps the remnants of Hurricane Francis will keep me inside for a few days to help me recover.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Dreaming of a new car Posted by Hello

A Thousand Lives

I heard the news today, oh boy. A thousand US troops have now died in the "liberation" of Iraq since the fighting began in March of 2003. Dick Cheney threatened the US with another terrorist attack if George W. Bush loses the November election. And Kerry is being branded a flip-flopper for voting against Bush's $87 billion request for the funding of the continuation of the Iraq War.
Forgive me for interceding, and for injecting my own opinion, but didn't George Bush try to convince us that the war would cost something on the order of $20 billion back when he was talking all of us into it? Why isn't it Bush who is being accused of the flip-flop?