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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Good Things

Good things come in small packages. For instance:
Rush

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Twisted

Washington rhetoric tends toward the twisted. It's usually difficult enough to make sense of it to make most Americans simply ignore it. For sure I do my share of ignoring it. But the impact of a couple of things from Washington just struck me. From links in John Aravosis's Americablog, two conspiracy theories were confirmed by the White House recently.
The New York Times reveals today that President Bush, speaking Monday evening at a Republican Party fund-raiser, assured Republicans that, "There will be no early withdrawal so long as we run the Congress and occupy the White House."
This statement is "twisted" in the Washington sense of the word in that the keyword "early" is a word that we all think is simple enough for everybody to understand. But it isn't simple. In fact, with respect to Iraq, nobody outside of the inner White House circles of secrecy knows the real meaning of this word. At one point, early meant before Iraq was rid of its WMDs. At another point it meant before Saddam was captured. Then it meant before Iraq had a working government. But the meaning keeps on evolving into new and bigger objectives. Now absolutely nobody knows what this term means.
Unless you use a little common sense. The conspiracy theory is that Bush has no intention of ever withdrawing from Iraq so long as Republicans hold power in Washington. Essentially, that is exactly what Bush said Monday evening. Bush used the term "early withdrawal" as opposed to the clearer term "withdrawal" but any adult knows there is no difference between those two terms. Early withdrawal is any withdrawal that happens before both involved parties are thoroughly fucked. So in that light, Bush is simply confirming the conspiracy theory.
The new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow confirmed the second conspiracy theory. Think Progress reports on comments Snow made to the fact that the 2,500 US soldiers killed in Iraq number had been reached. Snow responded, "It’s a number, and every time there’s one of these 500 benchmarks people want something."
But then he went on with this:
***
And part of what happened this very week when the President went to Baghdad, and he sat down with the Prime Minister and he sat down with the cabinet, and he sat down with the President and Vice President, he sat down with the national security team, and he sat down with the leaders of all the major political parties, what he saw now is that after all of this, what you have in Iraq is a freestanding government that has been elected by the Iraqi people. It has a Prime Minister who is going to be there for four years, who is determined to act as a Prime Minister, who is determined to lead, who is setting priorities, and he’s somebody we can work with. You have a Minister of Defense who has significant experience and is already working with his colleagues, not only here at the Pentagon, but also General Casey and others in the field. The President understands that those deaths cannot be in vain, and you’ve got a government now that can help ensure that that is not the case.
***
Conspiracy theorists have been saying for years now that the Bush intention in Iraq was to set up a puppet government friendly to US interests. Tell me that's not what Snow just said. The deaths of all these US soldiers is justified because a government has been established in Iraq with a Prime Minister (Maliki) who is "somebody we can work with." The 2,500 US servicemen have not died in vain because Iraq now has a Minister of Defense who is working with his US military "colleagues" both in the Pentagon and on Iraqi soil.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Olympia Challenged

It's beginning to look like Maine's Senator Olympia Snowe will be challenged this fall by a writer whom the Bangor Daily News called a farmer in their article yesterday about how close the race is. Jean Hay Bright, Democrat for U.S. Senate 2006 (as her business card proclaims) appears to have won the Democratic primary this week by about 600 votes. I picked up a bumper sticker for her campaign a month or two back when I went to the Hope Festival in Orono. I think it's time I put that on my pickup.
I must confess, though, for my readers, that I voted for Jean on Tuesday and in order to do that I had to register as a Democrat.
Maybe I'm imagining it but it certainly appears to me that Jean Hay Bright does not have the support of the Bangor Daily News. Unless I read it wrong, I think both Jean and her husband have in the past been writers for that newspaper. But that paper has always strongly supported Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Maine's two "moderate" U.S. senators so it comes as no surprise that they would not support Hay Bright. However, unless I am imagining it, it looks to me like the BDN coverage of Hay Bright is a bit tainted by something other than simply this pro-Republican support for Snowe. It looks to me like there's an ax being ground.
Jean Hay Bright is more than just an organic gardener. She is a political writer and a liberal against the Iraq War. She represents a new facet of Maine popularized by a yearly event in Maine known as the Common Ground Fair. This is the annual fair of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, MOFGA. How can I say that Jean Hay Bright represents a fair? I say it because that fair has virtually from its conception represented a progressive liberal political movement here in Maine and the neighboring states that advocates making a transition from industrialism, the mainstay of the late 19th and most of the 20th centuries, back to sustainable living, that lifestyle which brought civilization up to the 19th Century. This "post-industrial" (as the Maine Times used to say) era is defined by sustainable organic farming and gardening, sustainable energy production and usage, traditional manufacturing processes like spinning and weaving and crafts and carpentry with hand tools, and the use of farm animals for work. All of these and more are the themes of the Common Ground Fair.
Jean Hay Bright represents the generation of Maine people, many of whom moved to Maine in the "back to the land" movement of the 1970s when young people were fleeing the pressure-cooker lifestyle of the cities. Maine was, at that time, looking at the end of the era of farming, but it was also looking at the end of the era of cheap labor in the textile mills and shoe factories. Maine was "For Sale" and these young people were in the market. The result was a whole new generation of Maine farmers, but these people weren't the high-stakes farmers pumping out produce for low-profit corporate markets. These people organized farmers' co-ops, developed organic farming methods for use in Maine, and built a solid reputation for both profitability and quality.
Somehow, Jean Hay Bright is rooted in this movement. I'm going to have to do some research into this, but one thing I know for certain. The time has come for this movement to have a say in the U.S. government and I hope Jean is the girl to do the job.
Good luck in your campaign, Jean! May the Gods of Maine outshine the dimwitted Bangor Daily News!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Good News

Just in case you're one of those people who always say the press isn't covering all the good news from Iraq, word is that this is a picture of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and White House Counselor Dan Barlett riding from the Baghdad airport to the US embassy downtown. If this doesn't tell it like it is, I don't know what does. They had joined President Bush on his surprise executive visit to Iraq, a surprise even to the sovereign government of Iraq, so I hear.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

Just for the record, the reason there are so many conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists in the world is not because there are so many delusional paranoid psychotics "out there" trying to point the finger of blame on innocent social servants. It is because there are so many conspiracies running the world.
Anyone who doubts the existence of conspiracies is someone whose honesty we all need to question.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Republican Vision

I've been thinking for quite some time that it would be nice to have a well-written book explaining to us lay people, us little guys, what the overall vision for America is in the virtual Republican political mind. Probably the single greatest criticism of the Bush White House and the Republican-controlled Congress this millennium has been that it is difficult to find where they have clearly expressed a vision of the future. So it would be refreshing to discover that there actually is one out there somewhere, a book or document that serves to frame, to explain and justify, the Republican agenda.
Now maybe it's naive of me to think such a book could or should exist. Maybe the reality is something akin to what the people at town meeting here in Greenville (how we in small Maine towns exercise democracy in local government) face when we ask for explanations of complex issues. "If you wanted to understand this issue, why weren't you at the meetings where we did the planning? Why do you expect that we should have to take the time here at town meeting to explain this complicated issue before the people vote on it?" In other words, if I want to understand the Republican vision, why am I not spending my time immersed in Republican politics? Why don't I read the conservative blogs, listen all day and night to conservative talk radio, watch Fox News and CNN and Pat Robertson, go to a fundamentalist evangelical church and send my kids to Liberty University, and on and on?
That argument could be used, but it shouldn't be. It's a vessel with no bottom. It holds no water. That argument would say that the only people who need to see the Republican vision are the active planners. The rank-and-file Republican voter doesn't need to see the vision, doesn't need to understand the reasoning behind the planning. While that indeed is the case, should it be? Should the average Republican voter have access to the Republican vision for America? And if America is a democracy, should the Republican vision be a matter of public record? Should all Americans have access to the Republican vision?
I wish there was some way that we could. That's what I'm saying here. I wish there was a book that clearly expressed the Republican vision for America's future. There doesn't seem to be any such book for me to read. I am left with the impression that nearly everyone else in this country who cares about this seems to have, that the Bush administration and Congress don't seem to have a vision for America's future.
But then I realize that I am asking for the impossible. Let me explain.
Republican politics isn't about sharing a vision with a democratic electorate in order for that vision to win a democratic majority vote. Instead, Republican politics is about winning the faith of the electorate so that Republican planners can accomplish their vision behind closed doors. The reason the doors remain closed is because their vision would very likely not win in an open public debate and an open democratic vote. The Republican Party exists in order to serve the interests of people who don't necessarily have the best interests of the general public in mind. But even if they did, it would be hard to convince the public that their interests were being served. For decades, Republicans have wanted to privatize education, retirement, public works, health and welfare, even the military. How do you convince the general public that public education is bad? How do you convince the general public that we should cut and eventually phase out Social Security?
You don't and that has been proven time and time again. You don't convince the general public that the Republican agenda is good for them. Instead, you have to work to convince them that the social agenda is bad or is failing or is bankrupting our economy or threatens our security somehow. The failure of socialism isn't the Republican vision. It is the Republican strategy. Socialism is what open democracies gravitate to because it represents the general public helping themselves to the nation's resources. It is the enemy of the Republican Party. The Republican Party exists as a political instrument to fight against social democracy and to fight for private ownership and wealth.
So how in a democracy such as the USA does such a political party share its vision with the general public? Very selectively and very carefully! In fact, only the seriously involved insiders are allowed to see the vision. For the rest of us it's blind faith in our leaders. We really can't see where all this conservative politics is leading us.
So wouldn't it be nice if there was a book?

Temporary Permanence

It is possible that in some people's minds, Republicans don't favor setting up a permanent US military presence in Iraq from which the US can exert a dominating long-term military influence in the Middle East. This is the well-documented PNAC agenda, the neo-con plan for the Middle East. That uncertainty was fueled recently when amendments to the latest Iraq War funding bill banned spending on permanent military bases in Iraq.
Well, put your minds to rest, my faith-based friends. The Republican agenda was restored in a late night session this week and it looks like no such restrictions on the American military will be imposed.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi

The Phantom of Iraq is dead. Hallelujah!
I can't figure out the picture featured at that website of Zarqawi's dead face. He seems to be laying in rubble but his face doesn't look like he just had two 500-pound bombs dropped on him. Clearly, somebody cleaned up his face before taking this picture.
Oh well. Everybody is doing everything they can think of to convince the world that this event actually just happened. They have to. There are a lot of people in the world who don't believe the word of the White House and the Pentagon. It's hard to convince someone about truth when you're known around the world for your lies. Everything looks like propaganda.
But will this new twist in the story of Iraq's "liberation" make any difference? I was reading yesterday about how American special forces have been tracking foreign insurgents lately and had eliminated all of the foreign leaders except Zarqawi. Clearly, if this is true, then the killing of Zarqawi represents a significant victory for America in Iraq.
There have been major victories for America's military in Iraq before: the fall of Baghdad, the capture of Saddam, the overthrow of Fallujah are just a few of them. Strangely, each victory has led Iraq deeper into the rabbit hole of terror and suffering and guerrilla warfare. Will the killing of Zarqawi be different? Does the killing of a legend ever make the legend smaller?
I'm not arguing that it was wrong to kill Zarqawi if indeed that event actually happened. I'm arguing that it was really stupid of the Bush Administration to make Zarqawi into a mythological legend. We set ourselves up here. Now we have created a legendary martyr. We have accomplished something even bin Laden himself couldn't have done!
Smart move, Washington.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Faith Based Spying

So who believes in warrantless and illegal spying on the American public? Here's the tally...