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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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hallucination?

It's the strangest thing. Friday afternoon I was driving down to my brother-in-law's place and listening to Public Radio when I heard the voice of President Bush say something that I have been waiting for a very long time to hear, yet I have been unable to find a reference either in the newspaper or online to those words. Without a reference, I dare not repeat the words for fear that it must have been an hallucination on my part. But here is the gist of it.
On the evening of the first day of the Iraq War in March 2003, President Bush made a speech in which he promised America that the troops would stay in Iraq not one day longer than it took to get the job done, or something to that effect. He has repeated that phrase several times in speeches that have reached my ears. But I have been listening for any kind of definition of just what that job was. At first, we all assumed that it was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and the removal of "weapons of mass murder" (or WMDs) from Iraq's arsenals. Those jobs were long since accomplished or found to be unnecessary, yet the troops are deeper into the Iraq War now than ever before. Since the removal of Saddam and the discovery that there were indeed no arsenals in Iraq of WMDs, we have assumed that there were other jobs in Iraq that needed to be done before "not one day longer" applied. There was the establishment of "democracy," there was fighting terrorists over there rather than here on our own soil, there was the training of Iraqi police and defense forces, and a dozen or more other essential jobs.
But Bush never seemed to quite link any of those "jobs" with the actual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. In fact if anything, Bush has seemed to want to justify keeping the troops in Iraq indefinitely. He has linked the Iraq War to the War on Terror which we all assume will continue indefinitely. There has been the hushed issue of the 14 permanent military bases in Iraq that the US has been investing heavily in. Neither Bush nor the Pentagon has ever really clearly stated that the troops would come home once Iraq's defense forces were trained. We only assumed that they might, basing our assumptions on official allusions.
So Friday when I heard Bush's voice stating that the troops would come home once the Iraqi defense and police forces were trained and capable of securing Iraq's government, when I heard Bush himself clearly making that link, it caught my attention. But now I can find no mention of this anywhere so I am beginning to wonder if I was just hallucinating.
If anyone else heard what I heard or has a link to any media coverage of this, could you maybe back me up here? It seems to me that this would be a significant historical event if indeed it did happen. If Bush actually said this, he should be held to his word, don't you think?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Moral Politics

This week I purchased the book Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. The author is George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley. I've only begun the introduction, but I just found this link on the Internet:
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml
I have an idea that this summer is going to be an important one in my life in terms of finally framing my thoughts about this division of thought between the conservative model (the strict father) and the liberal model (nurturant parent family). I must admit that as a father I have seen myself in both of these models so I think it is just about time that I began to understand the difference.
The book Moral Politics was published before Bush won the 2000 election and republished in 2002, but I think it will be interesting to back up just enough to escape the post 9/11 mentality and peek back into where our minds stood when Bush first came into the national scene. I need a good book to read this summer when I find the time to relax and lay naked in the sun.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Putting Out Fires

The Pentagon's Lawrence DiRita has been putting out a few fires recently. The latest is the Newsweek retraction, but that got me to looking. I think this is an interesting one too:
http://usinfo.state.gov/dhr/Archive/2005/Mar/04-200665.html
It seems that the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First, two fringe groups in the eyes of most of the right wingnuts, have filed suit against Donald Rumsfeld concerning prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Justice Department will defend Rumsfeld. Go figure that one out. I thought the Justice Department were prosecutors, not defense attorneys. But anyway...
DiRita is quoted in this excerpt:

In response to a reporter’s question, the spokesman said the Justice Department will evaluate the claim to determine what the next steps will be. Even though Defense Department officials have concluded “there’s just no basis for any of these claims,” DiRita said the Justice Department “will determine the way forward on this.”
He went on to say none of the investigations “that have been conducted concluded that there was a policy of abuse.”
A March 1 department release stated that there have been multiple investigations into various aspects of detainee abuse. There have been eight major reviews, inspections and investigations with three more still under way.
The release said the department “has demonstrated a record that credible allegations of illegal conduct by U.S. military personnel are taken seriously and investigated.”
More than 100 service members have already undergone, or are undergoing, disciplinary proceedings for actions taken against prisoners as part of the global War on Terror.
According to the department release: “No policies or procedures approved by the Secretary of Defense were intended as, or could conceivably have been interpreted as, a policy of abuse, or as condoning abuse.”

So if I read this correctly, it could not conceivably have been understood by soldiers on the field that the Pentagon expected them to torture or abuse prisoners. Wherever there was torture, the soldiers themselves because of their cold, illegal, criminal hearts, did the dirty work. The Pentagon hands are clean.
If that is the starting point for any investigations, how would it be possible to spot dirt?
Official Pentagon policy: Punish those who get caught but don't try to catch anyone responsible.
You right wingnuts can criticize this all you want, but you know this is what is going on. You know the little guys and gals are getting shafted for doing what they were told to do by a chain of command that is unbroken from these little people all the way to the White House.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

BushFish BullShit

I watched 60 Minutes tonight and now, not even a half hour after the end of the show I find this:
http://www.bushfish.org/
60 Minutes had a segment on the use of bullshit in our modern society and referenced a book by Harry G. Frankfurt called On Bullshit and a book by Laura Penny called Your Call Is Important to Us : The Truth About Bullshit.
The BushFish link came from http://www.publicchristian.com/ which I found when I Googled "Machiavelli Bush."
The BushFish reference is in a post titled, "Is Bush the New Revelation of Christ?":
http://www.publicchristian.com/module-pagesetter-viewpub-tid-2-pid-218.phtml
Come to think of it, there really is a lot of bullshit floating around in right-wing Christianity, isn't there? And it really isn't anything new, is it? It has just taken awhile for all of it to float up to the surface where we all can see it.
Just for the record, I believe that Christianity is about presence, not presents. Right-wing Christianity seems to be all about the presents God bestows on those He has chosen to receive them. God Bless America...

Terror

There was a report out last week that Tom Ridge, who was Homeland Security chief till recently, was "periodically" instructed by the White House to raise the threat level even when the Department of Homeland Security didn't see the need. Here's one reference to that tidbit of news:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-05-10-ridge-alerts_x.htm
Probably to a lot of Americans that doesn't seem like anything unusual. The White House thinks the terror alert should be sounded so it notifies the agency which sounds that alert. But somewhere back in the dark recesses of my memory I seem to recall that the blame for seemingly trivial usage of the Homeland Security's terror alert level was always placed squarely in the lap of Tom Ridge, not the White House. Does anyone else recall getting that same impression? Take for instance the terror alert issued right after the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston. I seem to recall that nobody really knew why that alert was called or who called it but for public relations, the blame was given to Homeland Security.
So why would it be that the White House is the actual source of the alerts?
I am attempting to read The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, a political manual for national rulers - dictators, actually, not republican rulers. I have heard that this book is Karl Rove's political reference book. It instructs dictators on how to acquire and maintain power over their nations. One of the recommendations is to establish among the people a sense of terror. I am reminded when reading this book of what little I have studied of domestic abuse and codependency. The abuser terrorizes through violence or abusive and demeaning language. Rather than escaping, the abused person relies on the abuser to control the abuse, to contain the terror. In so doing, the abused person becomes codependent on the abuser. Since it is generally the objective of the abuser to use the abused person to provide some sort of support, maybe food and shelter, maybe more, the abused person also becomes an enabler, a person who makes the continuing abuse possible. Machiavelli's approach of terrorizing the population in order to maintain control of the nation's population seems to be a perfect example.
Maybe that's why in the past couple of years I have felt that our nation is being run by abusers. Maybe that's why everyone lives in fear. Maybe that's why two guys in a tiny Cessna terrorized Washington DC the other day without even trying. Maybe all of Washington is living in terror. And maybe, just maybe, that's the way it's meant to be now with Karl Rove masterminding our political philosophy.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Stairway

Back when I was first getting addicted to chat, I had a lady friend who was a Gemini by birth. I think she was true to form too since she seemed to have a second personality who would interrupt our chats, come online with me occasionally, and then turn the conversation back to the original personality. I never save chat histories, but some of the chats I had with this lady were so strange to me, I kept them on a floppy disk. Several times I have come very close to eliminating them, but I still have the disk and was browsing through one of the chats today.
We were discussing a very unusual Brazilian boyfriend that she had, a man who wrote a column of some sort online and maybe even in print, I don't actually recall. Our conversation turned toward spirit guides, what some refer to as angels. All of a sudden, she broke out in typing and wrote this to me:
Bill ....... do these.
1. Breathe easy. Slowly. Relax. Lengthen your breath .... close yr eyes and relax.
2. Clear all thoughts from your mind. All visual scenery. Everything. Just a blank room, No lines, no floors, no walls, no ceiling. Nothing.
3. Visualize this space in a neutral color.
4. Regulate your breath. Breathe from your chest up. Do not take staggered breaths. Relax. and 'float' in this 'space'.
5. Next ...... with your eyes closed, visualise yr toes in your mind. And then moving upwards throughout every entire bit of your body, I want you to instruct each part of your anatomy to relax. Beginning from your toes. Only when it is relaxed, then you move onwards. Ending at your head.
6. Next. When you have this feeling of 'nirvana' .... visualise in yr mind's 'eye' (central on your forehead slightly above your brows) a little spark. This spark or shine is a bright iridescent color ... like the star in the sky. When you have managed to focus on this glow, imagine some steam being released slowly up from the top of your head. By the time the steam has finally vanished ... you are 'floating' and 'relaxed'.
7. Go back to this spark in your 'eye.
8. Slowly, slowly see this spark expand outwards until it fills up your entire space with the brilliance of a thousand stars combined together.
9. When your 'space' is completely taken up by this stupendous glow, imagine from your source again (where the spark first started), a luminescent golden glow. Starting small, as a speck, a small dot. Then it expands slowly outwards until it takes the form of a golden globe, big enough to be contained within your 'vision'.
But not encompassing yopur entire space.
10. Maintain your breathing throuhout.
11. Next, focus on the globe. Keep all thoughts out of your mind. Eyes closed. Look with your mind's eye.
12. Slowly, whilst your gaze is still fixed on this spectral globe, visualize it slowly converting to the shape of a staircase.
13. Call your guide. With your thoughts. Call her with your heart. Keep on calling her until you know she has heard you.
14. Visualize yourself climbing up the staircase until you have reached the top.
15. At the top, call your guide again.
16. Visualize a 'door' at the top.
17. Focus on the door and reach for the handle.
18. Slowly open the door and inform your guide that you are ready to release her out.
19. When you have her answer, switch places. Let her come out and you go in. Or remain there. Whichever.
20. You stay where you are. Let your guide come forward and let her come to your throat. Give her your vocal chords.
Do you understand all this ?
Those words were not mine.
I know nothing of what I wrote.
So, if you lose this, it's gone.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Philistine

A week or two back I heard a report on the TV that North Korea had called President Bush a "Philistine." That stuck in my head because I didn't know the significance of the term. I wondered what was meant by it and how North Korea thought it applied to Bush. I wondered if there was some inference to the Philistine people spoken of in the Bible.
Here's a Yahoo news report on the incident:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050430/pl_nm/korea_north_bush_dc
Today I looked up the term Philistine in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and was referred to the term Philistinism. I can see now why one might use that term to describe Bush.
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050430/pl_nm/korea_north_bush_dc
But I'm ashamed to say that for most of my life one might have used that term to describe me as well.

Oligarchy

This week I received an email from moveon.org claiming that Pat Robertson said on ABC's "This Week" that the threat posed by liberal judges is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."
Pat Robertson replied to that on his website:
http://www.patrobertson.com/PressReleases/moveon.asp
In his defense, Robertson says he made this statement, "if we surrender our democracy to the tyranny of an oligarchy, we have made a terrible mistake."
From Wikipedia online:
Oligarchy is a form of government where most political power effectively rests with a small segment of society (typically the most powerful, whether by wealth, military strength, ruthlessness, or political influence). The word oligarchy is from the Greek for "few" and "rule".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy
If one were to try, one might find it quite easy to see that the concentration of power going on now in Washington might be what Jefferson warned against. But I don't think that is what Robertson was suggesting. Is Robertson suggesting that Supreme Court justices are the oligarchy? If not, then who was he referring to?

Disclaimer to Mike

If anyone has noticed that a fellow named Mike has been commenting on my blog, let me point out that he probably won't be anymore. Not that I would ban him or anything even though he made a suggestion that I might be a demon. But I have been over in his corner of the sphere playing devil's advocate and he has decided that enough is enough. Although he denies the existence of the "religious right," he is a member as well as being strongly conservative in rhetoric. No big deal. If that's his chosen poison, so be it. But it seems that he thinks I have been over at his place "trying to bring me down in my faith and destroy my self worth."
http://thedeepfreeze.blogspot.com/2005/05/censorship-vs-decency.html
While nothing could be further from the truth, it's like I care, really. I'd love for Mike to see the darkness of his own faith and repent, shed all of his senseless fear and antagonism and come to embrace something other than the narrow self-serving views of the Christian right. But it sounds to me like he thinks that would be an evil thing to do, so OK, so be it.
Mike, it was great having you onboard while it lasted. I must admit I did a lot of thinking because of you. A lot of things that weren't so clear to me about Christianity and modern political conservatism and the bond between the two came clear at last. I thank you for that.
By the way, I think what Mike got so upset at me about was when I suggested that in the event that an unborn fetus is a part of the body of the woman who bears it, any man who thinks he has a right to infringe on the privacy of women's bodies (a.k.a. the debate on abortion) is a "self-righteous jerk." Mike didn't seem to appreciate that much. Apparently he must have thought I was speaking of him personally, although I don't see why he would interpret it that way. He seems to think an unborn fetus is a rights-bearing human being, not a part of the mother's body, and that any woman who terminates her pregnancy deliberately is a murderer. In that case, why would he need to think of himself as a "self-righteous jerk?" He is a noble defender of the rights of the unwanted unborn over the rights of the women bearing them, isn't he? He should be proud!
I've been called a lot worse things than a "jerk" here in my blog, but I still love and welcome those who have done it. To each his own.
Magnanimous of me, isn't it?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Relativism

I have to laugh. I was just reading the meaning of the term "relativism" in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and it seems to leave out what I normally think of as relativism. Relativism as a philosophy seems to insist that all points of view are equally valid. That seems a little bit useless to me since almost nobody would subscribe to that philosophy. It would seem to make a whole lot more sense if relativism were to refer to the philosophy that an individual's point of view is valid because of the individual's belief in it.
For example, 'America is good because I believe it is good' is an example of relativism, in my view. 'I am saved because I believe in Jesus' is another good example. Neither one of these statements offers or even needs to offer any proof other than the individual's belief. The "truth" is relative to the beliefs of the individual and thus the individual is using the philosophy of relativism.
Many would argue that neither of these is relativism because neither would admit that any other point of view is equally valid, but as I see it, that idea isn't necessary. All that is necessary is that an individual's reality is based on his or her beliefs. Another individual with different beliefs would have different perceptions of reality that are as equally valid to that believer as the original perceptions are to the original believer. That seems to me like the real meaning of relativism.
When you practice relativism, real objective reality doesn't really hold much water to you. If, for instance, America's perception is that Iraq has huge stockpiles of "weapons of mass murder" as President Bush claimed, that is the perceived reality in America. I bought into that claim right up to the point where the UN weapons inspectors had the run of the place and were coming up dry even though they should have had access both to the US intelligence on Iraq and the actual locations where those weapons were supposed to be located, yet no weapons were being found. The change in my perceptions was sealed when Bush told the effective UN inspection team to get out so we could begin our war, presumably placing US troops at the receiving end of Saddam's huge stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Some Americans needed more proof than I did.
The objective reality is that Saddam had no such stockpiles of "weapons of mass murder." But the objective reality had nothing to do with the opinions or beliefs or reality of the majority of US citizens. We believed the relativist perceptions, the perceptions where those weapons were real because we believed they were real.
That was just an example, but it is a good one. Relative realities exist throughout the political landscape and they are very effectively used by politicians to sway public opinion and support, not just for the election of the politicians but for gaining public approval for political policy. The criticism of John Bolton is that he is not so much concerned with objective reality as he is with using relative perceptions to support political policy. If that is the case, and it seems that it might very well be the case, then how can anyone argue that he is the man for the job? Do we really want to endorse relativism as the political philosophy of the United States?