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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Location: Maine, United States

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...