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

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Neocon Ideology

I was just reading the President's speech from Thursday, the one he gave for the National Endowment for Democracy.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html
This is a deeply troubling speech, unlike anything I recall hearing from him before. It is truly a neocon document which he presented. I've wondered before just how much of a neocon Bush was, whether it was actually his philosophy or if he was simply going along with it since the neocons were in power in both the White House (Cheney) and the Pentagon (Wolfowitz and that whole Israeli group).
I suppose it's possible that Bush was merely reading a speech prepared for the occasion by neocon speechwriters, but Bush presented it with conviction enough to persuade me that he believes what he was saying. Bush definitely is a neocon.
Here's a summary of what neocons represent:
http://www.csmonitor.com/specials/neocon/neocon101.html
and here is a quiz to see if you are one!
http://www.csmonitor.com/specials/neocon/quiz/neoconQuiz.html
What troubles me the most about the president's speech is the parallel he draws between Islamic radicalism and Communism. For a long time it was claimed that Iraq was not and never would be another Vietnam, but now with this speech, the line is blurred. The president clearly illustrates the domino effect if Iraq is allowed to determine its own fate, if the US gives up the effort to establish a pro-American government there. Vietnam was fought because of the domino effect, because the American people were programmed to believe that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists from the North, all of Southeast Asia would fall, then spread west to India, and who knows where else. The president clearly outlines such a scenario if Iraq falls to this "establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom."
In the 1960s this kind of talk instilled fear into the hearts of us common Americans, fear that easily translated into hatred for Southeast Asians and fed the "military industrial establishment" that President Eisenhower warned us about. This ideology turned out to be wrong, but now it is back again under this new neoconservative guise of "Islamic radicalism and Islamo-fascism."
Do we want to hate the way we hated in the 1960s? Do we want this fear? Do we want to feel all these things that these so-called terrorists want us to feel? How long will it take us this time to realize the error of our own ways and the fruitlessness of our own hatred and fear? Iraq IS another Vietnam for America. Will we make all the same mistakes again?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thank God

Thank God for leaders like these:
Cheney:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4314234.stm
Bush:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html
The result? Note the clever punctuation by terrorist threats:
http://www.dhonline.com/articles/2005/10/07/news/nation/nation01.txt
Speaking of God, word has it that the White House is confirming that there was no conspiring with God when it came time to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. Rumors had been spreading around that Bush had claimed that God told him to do it, but I've always wondered about that ever since I heard it way back then. I mean, would that make God out to be a liar since if anyone had really known that Iraq had no WMDs, it would certainly have been God. So it seemed obvious to me that Bush hadn't consulted with God about that. Thank God that the White House finally cleared up this matter. BBC reports:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4317498.stm

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Coke

I probably shouldn't say this in public.....
so I guess I won't.............
I'll let someone else say it. But it pertains to the news videos that I saw this evening of Bush's speech where he basically told us that we're now in a perpetual war. Was it Bush or did someone else mention the "domino effect" today? Someone did... Remember the night the Iraq War began when Bush first assured us the troops would come home as soon as the job was done? Well if you can believe what he said today, that just ain't gonna happen any time in the foreseeable future.
But anyway, while he was giving his speech, I couldn't help but notice that Bush seemed to be in a particularly good mood, acting like he was having a pretty good time giving his speech, and appearing like he was just moments away from breaking into his cocky smile even while issuing dire warnings about the threat posed by these nasty terrorists. He even managed to link bin Laden to both Iraq and the Lebanon bombing back in the Reagan years when the US CIA was busy training "the list."
Well anyway, let's let someone else give some suggestions as to why Bush may have been in such a good mood today:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/10/why-is-bushs-jaw-suddenly-spasming.html

Liberal Media

After reading Al Gore's speech, my mind has been on this notion that the American media is liberal in bias. Conservatives don't trust the media because for years it's been drilled into their heads that the media is liberal. Propaganda has a strange way of altering our perceptions so once you believe the media is liberal, that's what you see when you watch TV. On the other hand, liberals don't trust the media either. They don't think the media is liberal. They look at the corporate ownership issue and the corporate sponsorship issue and the way the media is for the most part ignoring the concerns of liberals and puppeting the concerns of the Bush administration and promoting the Neo-Con agenda and they say the media is not liberal.
I was thinking about this debate this morning and had a few new ideas run through my head. One is this conservative tactic that has become the norm in conservative/liberal debate where the conservative "goes for the jugular" by trying to discredit the character of the liberal opponent. By this, I don't mean a conservative in a debate with me about, let's say, Al Gore would defame Al Gore. I mean an opponent would defame me personally rather than focusing on the issue being debated. It's one thing to point to my support for a liberal issue and question that support. But it's another thing entirely to criticize my education or my intelligence or my mother or my service record or my loyalty to my country or my generation or anything else that characterizes in general who I am. Defacing your opponent in a debate isn't good debate, yet is has become a mainstay in conservative thinking and technique. Intimidating critics by defacing their character is done literally all the time on conservative talk radio and has become the norm for conservative/liberal debate.
I'm not suggesting that such debates should leave out the origins of the debaters' opinions. That's fair game as far as I am concerned. If I seem liberal, by all means point to the sources of the liberal ideas that I throw out. Criticize those ideas all you want. But that's not how the game is played anymore. The game now is a sophist game of destroying your opponent by whatever means works. Whether your criticism is based in truth or not doesn't matter anymore. What matters in debate now is how skilled you are at defacing your opponent. Listen to conservative talk radio with this idea in mind and see if what I'm saying isn't true.
So how does this apply to the notion of "liberal media?"
I think there's a new definition of political correctness at play now in American political debate. Conservatives have almost completely convinced America that it is not OK to criticize conservatives. It is fine to criticize liberals. That's no problem at all. In fact, criticizing liberals is normal, common, happens all the time. Listen to talk radio for a few minutes and you'll hear it. But it is not OK anymore to criticize conservatives. It's unpatriotic. It's sacrilege. And why is that so? Because the Right is right and anybody who criticizes what is right is evil. You're either with us or you're with the terrorists.
Conservatives have an agenda of eliminating liberalism from American politics, eradicating it. If you're a conservative and you don't believe what I just said, you haven't been listening to your own people. Pay attention to conservative rhetoric. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or any of the other hate radio hosts. Liberals are the enemy. Liberals are wrong. Liberals are atheists. Liberals are homo. Liberals are baby killers. Liberals think man evolved from the apes. Liberals want to steal your money and give it to the poor to buy their votes. Liberals want to destroy capitalism. Liberals are in bed with the Communists. Liberals are in bed with the terrorists. Liberals are all on drugs.
On the other hand, conservatives defend God. Conservatives defend your money. Conservatives support the fight against the terrorists who threaten our way of life. Conservatives defend freedom.
Conservatives are right. Liberals are wrong. And conservatives know that the best way to silence the media is to criticize them, call them names, call them "liberal" whenever they report anything that opposes or hinders the conservative agenda. And it works very effectively. And that's what Al Gore was talking about when he said that the American media can no longer be trusted to report the news. The American media has been intimidated by conservatives to the point where they are now afraid to accurately and openly report anything critical of conservatives.
The problem is, the media openly reports conservative propaganda. The media has embedded itself in the current American conservative government. The result is that what we see in the media seems to be representing the middle of the road politically. That is our perception. We perceive that the mainstream media is covering both sides of the political spectrum. We live in a surreal world where Fox News is "fair and balanced." We live in a world where CBS News is "liberal."
But what we don't live in is a world where any mainstream news is actually liberal, not CBS, not NBC, not ABC, not CNN, not even PBS. No mainstream American news network is actually liberal. The liberals have no free voice in America. The way to prove this is to actually find a liberal voice and compare it with the mainstream media. I'm not going to tell you how to do this or where to go to find it, but I assure you that it is possible to find truly liberal news still in this country and when you do, you will immediately be able to tell the difference between that and the mainstream American media.
As for me, well I just don't believe very much of what I see on TV. I look around. I have taken off the blinders and opened my mind to alternative perceptions. I have come to realize that the conservative agenda isn't for me. It simply isn't genuine. But then again, the liberal agenda doesn't seem all that genuine to me either. I am just as much afraid of Communism as I am of right-wing fascism. To me, they are two peas of different colors in the same pod. I fear government secrecy. I fear propaganda in the media. And I fear the results of uncontrolled psychological abuse which is exactly what I see going on now in America. I fear what those who listen to and believe conservative hate radio will do to our country. It's time to start listening to the other side, but in reality it's time to start thinking outside the box, color outside the lines, advance beyond the old boundaries of synthesizing "conservative" and "liberal" and find something more meaningful, more promising, more open, and more truthful.

Media Speech

I just finished reading a speech given by Al Gore recently regarding the American media and his new venture into television. Here is a link to the transcript of his speech:
http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/10/5/14301/6133
I have been loosely following Josh Marshal's coverage of the Jack Abramoff investigation and scandal. I think it was yesterday morning that I was watching the CBS morning "news" show and the late breaking news was another of the serial murder cases that the networks grab and maintain coverage of whenever they need to divert our attention for long periods of time from something important. This one was of the murder of a man by his wife who was seeking a divorce.
This is an interesting speech if you can get past the image of Gore imprinted in our brains by the conservative media. Perhaps Al and his friend will give us a peek into what TV media would be if it really were liberal? Unfortunately, I neither get cable nor dish so I won't be watching. That's OK. I still have WERU.

Operation Eden

If you haven't been to this blog, go there.
http://operationeden.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Black Gold

http://www.blackgold.com/
I haven't read much recently about the recent rise in the price of gasoline, but on signing out of Hotmail Tuesday evening I found a link to this site:
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P131145.asp
One very interesting point in that article was that world crude oil prices which now average $58.20 a barrel were on average $22.74 just six years ago last month.
I've been noticing the increase. I don't own any serious gas-guzzlers, but I know people who do, people who way back last spring noticed that they were paying $65 to $75 every time they stopped to fill up their tanks. Let's do some math. Suppose gasoline costs $3.00 a gallon at the pump. Using MSN statistics, a 2003 Ford Expedition 4WD with the 232 hp V-8 (original retail price of nearly $32,000) gets 14 mpg city, 18 mpg highway (13 and 17 for the larger V-8). Let's assume that a semi-aggressive driver doing mainly city-type driving averages 15 mpg. Let's also assume that this person drives this rig 300 miles per week on average, 15, 600 miles in a year. Actually those assumptions are low by the standards of most modern suburban commuters, but in any case, let's go with these figures. This driver would average 1,300 miles per month and at 15 mpg, average 86 2/3 gallons of gasoline each month. Each month, this driver would consume $260.00 worth of gasoline. If this driver filled up the tank weekly, each fill-up would average $60.00.
Such a vehicle when used for business commuting or heavy suburban commuting might see triple this use. Three times each week, this driver would face a $60.00 fill-up with a yearly gasoline expense of $9,360.
Luckily I don't own a Ford Expedition. I own an old Ford Ranger pickup with a 3.0 liter V-6 and a 5-speed. My wife has been going through some grief, though. Her Saab turbo which averaged 28 mpg for her needed replacing when the odometer went past the 200,000 mile mark. We made the mistake of replacing it with a 4-cylinder Dodge Caravan which simply drank gasoline with her foot on the gas pedal. Our interim fix is an older Ford Escort 5-speed. I estimate that at today's prices, the Escort will save her about $1,500 per year in gasoline over the 4-cylinder Caravan. Granted I would much rather see her driving a safer car like the Toyota Prius. At $3.00 per gallon, a Prius would save her roughly $2,200 per year over the Caravan.
Over the Ford Expedition, the Prius would save $6,435 per year off the $9,360 figure calculated above. Imagine that.
But here's the thing. If everybody saved money on gas that way, the demand for gasoline would fall, forcing the oil companies to drop their prices. Lower fuel prices mean reduced savings when comparing gas guzzlers with economical cars. So fuel economy is an incentive only if fuel prices remain high and they will remain high only if Americans insist on wasting fuel. That's sort of a Catch-22 isn't it?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mainline Mom

It seems that somebody with a considerable amount of experience and expertise has been commenting intelligently here in my blog. Needless to say, I am truly flattered, even though she and I seem to have some philosophical differences including some religious differences and some significant political differences. I first contacted her through her weblog, Water water everywhere...
http://waterwatereverywhere.blogspot.com/
She entered two significant comments recently in my Christian Environmentalism post from this past Friday, September 30.
http://edenhill.blogspot.com/2005/09/christian-environmentalism.html
If she is willing, I would like to open up a dialog here with her regarding this very topic, since the notion of conservative Christian environmentalists is a bit, shall I say, novel to me?... I haven't forgotten her name but I have noticed that her name doesn't appear that often now in her blog so I will give her the name "MM" (for Mainline Mom) here in my blog.
MM, I accept that I made assumptions about you that certainly don't seem to be true. By your latest comment, it would appear that you are well aware of ongoing and past environmental pollution.
Your comment that you would drink the discharge from some wastewater treatment plants made me smile. That very thing was the claim here in my small town a few decades ago when the town built its first multimillion dollar wastewater treatment plant. I can still picture in my mind when that claim was made at town meeting back in the 1970s. By design, the effluent would be so clean that a person could drink it and a glass of it would be indistinguishable in appearance from a glass of drinking water. Under that assurance, the town of Greenville and the State of Maine decided that the effluent should be discharged through a large pipe directly into Moosehead Lake one mile north of downtown Greenville. You can find Moosehead Lake on any map of Maine. It is Maine's largest lake.
That plant was built and operated against the wishes of a considerable number of people who were convinced that it was a very bad idea. Finally, after the effluent continually failed to meet the standards claimed, it was discovered that the engineers somehow had managed to slip a decimal point somewhere along the way and it would be virtually impossible for their design to produce the claimed results. Greenville wound up building a second treatment plant in the late 1970s, completely abandoning the first one which eventually was remodeled into a hardware store. I even think someone eventually pulled up the mile of pipe from Moosehead Lake.
But that's ancient history. I'm sure things like that don't happen in this day and age. But your comment put an old familiar smirk back on my face.
Back to the topic at hand...
I would like to give MM the opportunity to educate me concerning the Republican environmental agenda. If, as she says, she doesn't vote Republican merely on one issue, abortion, and if her scientific specialty is the environment, then it seems she must understand the Republican agenda. Since almost any non-Republican that I can think of is convinced that the Bush agenda is anti-environment, then if that is not the case, it would seem to me that someone like MM should stand up and educate us fools who don't understand Bush's goals.
Are you up to it, MM? Feel free to use my space if you wish, or your own, and take your time. I'm a rather patient man and you are a busy woman. I can't make promises, but as long as you write reasonably and avoid the political spin, I'll try to curb my attack instincts as best I can.
Oh, and back on that topic of "EPA wastewater bypass fiasco" that you have mentioned, Googling it doesn't seem to help me find what you are referring to. Could you point me somewhere to get me started, a web address or something?

Monday, October 03, 2005

All Roads

There was an article in this weekend's Bangor Daily News about the Pentagon's secret "Able Danger" program which had identified some of the 9/11 terrorists in the US before 2001 but for some reason wasn't noticed by the 9/11 Commission. I found the story online at the Boston Globe. It seems that the Pentagon has been harassing the chief Able Danger whistleblower Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer:
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/09/30/able_danger_officers_clearance_revoked/
Say what you will about 9/11, but the only way it all makes any sense at all is if 9/11 was exactly what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called it in public while testifying at the 9/11 hearings, a "blessing in disguise." The blessing, of course, was the kick in the pants that the American public so sorely needed to motivate them into supporting this Middle East War that we've had ever since 9/11. I don't think there were many people who didn't understand Rumsfeld's meaning there. That meaning was reinforced by several other key White House figures during the 9/11 hearings.
The disguise......... Well let's just say that would make a lot of sense if that kick in the pants was disguised as a Middle Eastern Arab Muslim fundamentalist terrorist attack on US soil, which is what by all appearance it was.
So now we have someone who says that he was involved in a military intelligence gathering project which had secretly identified the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks along with a few of his co-conspirators and were tracking them here in the US a year or more before 9/11 happened. The 9/11 Commission apparently has turned a blind eye to this revelation and now, just to make it crystal clear that no such whistleblowing will be tolerated in the future, the military is harassing this individual with every petty infraction they can find in his records over the past twenty or more years. To any career officer or NCO in the military, that is a sobering threat.
All roads lead to a cover-up, but a cover-up of what?
Considering the crimes and lies now surfacing in top Republican leadership in this country combined with what nearly all of us will admit was the sleaze of the Clinton White House, I'd say that anything at all is possible and most things are even likely.