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, April 25, 2006

Straw Poll

Ken Mehlman has kindly allowed me to respond to a GOP opinion poll regarding the 2006 elections. The poll is full of emotionally worded responses and Orwellian doublespeak GOP euphemisms so it's a bit tough deciding which items I should check, but let's work our way through it here. I'll put my thoughts and interpretations of how my vote would read to these Republican pollsters in square brackets [].

Question 1: Which issues will be most important in determining your vote this November? (select up to three)
* Keeping Taxes Low [operating government on a deficit while cutting social programs]
* Immigration & border security [controlling the immigrant workforce by using fear]
* Winning the War On Terror [building permanent bases in Iraq and attacking Iran]
* Growing Our Economy [growing the national debt and maintaining a wartime economy]
* Improving education [working to privatize primary and secondary education and reducing federal spending for college]
* Increasing access to affordable health care [keeping the status quo]
* Protecting Social Security [passing Social Security privatization this year despite its low appeal to Americans]
* Energy independence [maximizing profits for the energy industry giants]
* Appointing qualified judges [appointing conservative Republican judicial activists who won't hold Republicans accountable for anything they do but will advance the conservative Republican agenda from the bench]
* Strengthening marriage and the family [insisting that laws be passed that require that alternative lifestyles be practiced only in the closet, not openly]
* Morals and ethics in government [shutting off funding for Democrats while changing public opinions about Republican financing practices]
[Now let's see. Which of these items should I select? Can I get away with not checking any of them?]

Question 2: What is the most important reason for maintaining and expanding our Republican majorities in 2006?
* To ensure that America continues to stand united and strong in fighting the War on Terror [to support President Bush's plan to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely and attack Iran with nuclear weapons while using terrorism as an excuse for war wherever the US has oil interests]
* To help President Bush enact his reform agenda for America [converting American government into a corrupt, corporate-driven totalitarian one-party regime]
* To keep Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean from pushing through their extreme left-wing agenda [to maintain and expand the political divisiveness in the US]
* To make President Bush's tax cuts permanent and keep our economy growing [to fund government on borrowed money and thus expand the money supply]
* To uphold our nation's bedrock values [to maintain the perception that the United States is an anglo white male dominated patriarchal society]
[Well gee, here we are again in a quandary. I suppose as far as the Republicans are concerned, the first is the most important, making sure this Republican government seals itself as a totalitarian ruler. But I think I'll leave this one blank as well.]

Question 3: If the Democrats win control of the Congress in 2006, what is the one thing you would be most worried would happen?
* Democrats will try to censure or impeach President Bush [imagine the Republican shame if this happened, not to mention that it would demonstrate Republican weakness!]
* Democrat would raise your taxes [heaven forbid that we should actually attempt to balance the budget with tax money]
* Democrats would cut and run from the central front in the War on Terror [America might actually seek peace in the Middle East]
* Democrats would sell out American values to Hollywood liberals [oh God! Hollywood liberals!]
* Democrats would impose government-run health care [and what, shut down private health care?]
[I strike out again. Three for three. What's going on here? I guess I don't worry much about the Democrats or Hollywood. I don't share your fears, sorry. It's you Republicans that have me worried. Vote Democrat! Or better yet, elect third party or independent peacemakers!]

Question 4: As you know, President Bush has announced a bold reform agenda for 2006. Which of his initiatives is most important to you? (select one)
* Fighting and Winning the War on Terror [waging perpetual war]
* Comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders [maintaining low wages by subjecting immigrant workers to fear of prison or worse while feeding the fear of Americans to all foreigners outside our fortified borders unless they are wealthy conservative investors]
* Making tax relief permanent for all taxpayers [transitioning our government to living on credit while justifying eliminating social programs]
* Making America more competitive in the global marketplace [forcing American workers to compete with the cheapest labor the globe has to offer and thus substantially lowering the wages of the typical American worker while eliminating benefit packages for the working class and supporting corporations that outsource as much of their work as possible to maximize corporate profits]
* Reducing America's dependence on foreign sources of energy by half [half of what? Pardon my confusion here but I seem to recall some confusion over just what was meant by this suggestion back when it was proposed]
[Hey, this is even worse than a strike out. What ever became of the Republican Party that I used to know?]

Question 5: From which sources do you receive most of your news and political information? (select multiple)
* ABC News
* CBS News
* NBC News
* Fox News Channel
* CNN
* MSNBC
* News websites
* Blogs
* Daily Newspaper
* Radio
* E-mail
* News/Opinion Magazines
* Friends and Family
* Other ___________ [What's this for, PBS? Or is PBS something Republicans aren't supposed to watch?]
[At least there's somewhere in this survey where I can check a few things.]

Question 6: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend voting Republican in the next election to a friend or a colleague?
[This scale is a drop-down list that doesn't include negative numbers. Darn! They took all the fun out of it!]

Question 7: As an online activist, what features would you like to see on GOP.com? (select multiple)
* More ways to connect with fellow Republicans [How many Republicans does it take to set up an open forum? I dunno, how many? I don't know either, It's never been done.]
* Volunteer opportunities in my area [sharpshooters needed for anti abortion clinic rally]
* Web videos & podcasts with key newsmakers [Foxpod]
* Online polls [like this one?]
* The latest breaking news [FoxGOP]
* Information on the issues important to me [liberal bashing techniques? A GOP doublespeak dictionary?]
* Information on GOP candidates and elected officials [propaganda or the truth?]
* Online Diaries from GOP political leaders [written by staff speech writers?]
* Other _________ [How about an online tracking system to identify Republican ethics violations and the measures being pursued to bring the Republican Party back into the fold with the average ethical American voter?]

Question 8: In what year were you born?
[Ooo, ooo! Another easy one!]

Question 9: Did you vote in the year 2004?
* Yes
* No
[Where's the response for "Yes I did but it was on a Diebold voting machine so I'm not so sure"?]

Question 10: Please share any additional comments below
***********************
Now that wasn't so hard, was it? I didn't have to waste a bunch of mouse clicks with this GOP propaganda stunt masquerading as an Orwellian doublespeak survey. Now it's your turn, or as they say in the survey, "Please share any additional comments below".

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Still Free

Something to brighten the day of those among us who are still free (and darken the nights of those long since lost):
stillfree.com
Air Force One? Kinda adds new meaning to NoFear doesn't it?
Update: The video was staged. But it was a good hoax!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Christian Zionism

I've been scouting around a Jewish website, Zeek, reading articles about being a Jew in today's world, especially today's America. An article posted February 06 titled "The Other Zionist Conspiracy: A History of Christian Zionism" is an informative introduction into this underreported problem.
Although I have vaguely been aware of Christian Zionism, it hasn't dawned on me that it is a current phenomenon. Then again, it hadn't dawned on me that Jewish Zionism is a current phenomenon, but I'm not a member of any Jewish circles. I am, or at least have been and know many who still are, a member of fundamentalist evangelical Christian circles. Yet I was never made aware that the Scofield Bible or the Moody Bible Institute were instruments of Zionism. I don't dispute for a moment that they are. It makes sense that they are. But I have never had a Christian attempt to make me aware of that fact.
The other day I had a long discussion with my older (half-) brother who has been a born-again fundamentalist Christian for decades and who played a crucial role in the 1960s bringing a fundamentalist ministry to my town. We tend to disagree about religious matters. Politically he is a George Bush faithful. As he was preparing to leave, I asked him if he is a Zionist. His somewhat surprised response is "What's that?" I think he actually was being serious too. He's never given much thought to the politics of Zionism. Zionism is, by the way, both in the Jewish movement and in the Christian sense, a political movement, not a religious one.
But Zionism ties in to Christianity with the "end times" teachings of dispensationalists. Although most evangelical Christians are exposed to the ideas and beliefs of dispensationalism, they are not aware that these are theories. They are taught that these beliefs are Biblical truths. Yet they never even hear the words dispensationalism or Zionism. Zionism in Christianity is the belief that the Jews are to repopulate Israel and Jerusalem and rebuild Solomon's Temple in order for the "end times" of Biblical prophesy to begin. Dispensationalism and Zionism mean to Christians that God is preparing to destroy this earth in the very near future.
Christian Zionism, the political movement resulting from religious dispensationalist teaching, has deep roots in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. Why is it that Christians are not aware of this? Why is it that my brother asked, "What's that?" Why do these Christians not openly discuss their religiously motivated political views? Why is it that they don't even admit to themselves that they have them?
I think it's because Christian dispensationalism is a "Fuck it!" type attitude. "Fuck the world. God's getting ready to destroy it so why should I care! I can't wait for the Rapture! Bring it on! I'm so sick of this sinful world!" I've written about this Christian attitude in the past and had Christians reply with denial. Christians, they say, are instructed in the Bible to be good stewards of the earth. What these Christians forbid themselves to admit is that there is a conflict of major proportions between the notion of Christians as stewards and the dispensationalist view that we are in the "end times."
There is a conflict here of proportions great enough to split churches that discuss dispensationalism. End times teaching and God's support of Israel are taught, but not as what they are, militant religious political theory cloaked as Biblical truth. Christians are not allowed to realize that dispensationalism and Christian Zionism compete with the more rational Biblical view of Christianity as the preserver of God's Creation.
Personally, I'm inclined to go along with the idea that the Messiah of the Bible was meant to be the leader who brought enlightenment and preserved God's Creation. I see a conflict spelled out in the Bible between doing what is right, what God intends to be done on earth, preserving and protecting and continuing Creation, and doing what is wrong, what Satan the deceiver has sought from the beginning, the consumption and eventual destruction of Creation. The Bible is about that struggle, a struggle we can see happening in every aspect of our own lives between being consumers and being conservationists, Daniel Quinn's struggle between being "takers" and being"leavers."
I am not a dispensationalist and I am not a Christian Zionist and I am not waiting for the commencement of the "end times." I am not looking forward to the destruction of the earth. I don't wish to be a "taker." I guess that is why I am no longer a Republican.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another Liar

I guess now we have the proof we've been trying to hide all this time. Rumsfeld knew all along.
Of course this makes it clear that the Abu Ghraib torturers aren't really being punished for torturing people. They are in prison for revealing top secret information. It just wasn't possible for political reasons to actually try them for that crime.
Support the troops who do time in prison to protect the Bush White House's crimes. Or not... Your choice...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Asshole

My thanks to Michelle Malkin for pointing out this Bush-bashing video.
But as Michelle points out (while patting herself on the back), don't use this film in your classroom.
Oh yeah, and don't disturb the days-old remains of an anti-abortion demonstration even if you are deeply offended by it. Do you suppose that might have constituted eco-terrorism? Should we prosecute under the Patriot Act? Or was it a hate crime against Jesus perhaps?
And don't use Condi to stereotype blacks in the classroom!
Stereotype Muslims all you wish, even if you're a liberal, but not Condi!
Welcome to right-wing "political correctness" version 2006.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Katherine Who?

So I was just (almost) randomly reading a post in the National Review Online about Florida's Republican Senate hopeful Katherine Harris. The writer Kellyanne Conway seems to feel that Katherine "Deserves Better." She can't figure out why Republicans are treating Katherine Harris so poorly, ignoring this Republican hero in her time of need.
Gee.
So I puzzled about this for a few seconds, and then decided to Google and see if I could find an obvious link between her and Jack Abramoff. After all, it was Florida where Abramoff was finally nabbed, wasn't it? While I'm sure there are links that I didn't notice, I quite quickly did come up with this tidy little piece of dirt linking Harris with Duke Cunningham's benefactor.
"The congressman (Cunningham) who got the most money (from Wade) is going to prison,” McLaughlin said. “The one who got the second-most money wants to be a senator."
It doesn't take much to figure out why Republicans might wish to distance themselves from her campaign, does it?
I like this comment at the bottom of the post:
"K. Harris is just another “fellow traveling ” hack who whored her way into Congress by illegally screwing the election of 2000 and Jeb-Baby into the bargain, for which “the Bush Family Fortunes” gave her her seat in the House Of Representatives, (which now may be legitimately called the WHORE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!) and now the broad seeks a bigger piece of the action. Gee, ain’t it surprising that this particular pig wants more of the SLOP from the REPUBLICAN TROUGH?
"
I wonder if Florida couldn't find a clean candidate or if the Republicans just didn't think this issue would matter.

Slow Learners

Four and a half years after 9/11 it is hard to imagine a disgruntled Republican, but John Fund appears to be one. There are some real Republicans still out there, but the Republican Party has been slow in admitting that they have a problem among themselves. Republicans are reluctant to admit that Karl Rove hijacked the party back in 2000 and ever since he did that, everything has been going the wrong way. The Republican Party has become a pressure cooker.
With Republicans in control of the White House, the Senate, and the House, and with an increasingly partisan Republican court, Republicans cooked up a scheme where politics became a top-down enterprise with George Bush at the top. Leaders of both the House and Senate became servants of the Bush agenda. It was the job of these so-called leaders to corral all Republican party members in both the House and Senate and pressure them to serve the White House cause, the presumption being that President Bush, being the conservative Christian man that he says he is, would work to win the reforms that Republicans have been working for decades to achieve.
But something went wrong, as right-winger George Conway so well explains:
Thanks to this Administration and the Republicans in Congress, the Republican Party today is the party of pork-barrel spending, Congressional corruption — and, I know folks on this web site don't want to hear it, but deep down they know it's true — foreign and military policy incompetence.

Mind you, many Republicans would still think of any Republican who would utter these words as a traitor to America. But they are just slow learners.
The time has come, America, for Democrats and independent-thinking Republicans all across our country to unite in one common cause, the impeachment of the entire Bush White House. It's no longer simply a political cause. It is a national necessity if our Constitution and our nation are to survive.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Bush Effect

The Bush presidency has had many effects on our country and on the world, but I think the most significant effect has been divisiveness. The Bush effect is divisiveness. It has touched me personally, but it isn't merely from my personal experiences that I base this claim. Bush has split the United States right down the middle. In fact, that was the first thing Bush did to us when he took the Florida recount to the courts and had it thrown out, had the Florida vote decided by fiat, not by the votes cast.
That was just his first move.
He has continued relentlessly ever since to split America into factions. We now have factions that support preemptive war, torture of political prisoners, and a security fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. We now have powerful factions supporting the privatization of government including Social Security, primary and secondary education, the national defense, disaster relief, environmental protection, energy conservation, Congress, and a whole host of other functions.
In today's America under Bush's leadership we are again seeing the rise of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Religious paranoia is on the rise, fueled by the fear of reprisals against the conservative agenda. Bush's extensive secret spying schemes are even dividing conservatives. Political bribery has become the standard for conservative politics which is wholly dependent financially on powerful corporate interests pitting the interests of the wealthy against the interests of everyone else.
Bush is planting seeds of dissent for the future. Runaway government spending coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy darken the horizon of our nation, burdening future generations with our excesses while one pension plan after another is scrapped, imperiling the retirement of today's workers. Bush is even talking about using nuclear weapons against Iran preemptively, dividing even the leadership within the Pentagon over concerns about the blowback from such a reckless policy.
The Bush effect is nowhere more clearly seen than in Iraq where civil war is wracking religious factions which have never warred against one another before now. Families are being split in half. Brother is killing brother. Cities are dividing. Minority populations are evacuating their homes in fear of the neighborhood's religious majority. And it all began when Bush came to power. And it all began because Bush came to power.
But I think there's an even darker side to the Bush effect, a side that pits the future against the past, a "back to the future" side of politics. The year 2000 brought us to the top of the sled run, to the top of the slippery slope. For decades the world had been overcoming the effects of nationalism, the political drive to separate national cultures. Throughout the 20th Century there was a struggle between nationalist interests and the process of cultural assimilation, the melting pot effect.
"Nationalism" is a euphemism for political conservatism. "Cultural assimilation" is a euphemism for political liberalism. Reactionary nationalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the driving force behind Germany's Nazi oppression against the European socialist movements. Radical cultural assimilation was the driving force behind Communism.
In the American experience, we see cultural assimilation as the primary objective of liberalism. Liberal philosophy suggests that racial and cultural (including religious) differences shouldn't lead to hatred and violence and divisiveness. Liberal education teaches open-mindedness, cultural diversity, and political acceptance of differences in the hope that diverse societies can learn to live peacefully. Reactionary nationalism opposes this teaching, attempting to persuade populations that those who differ racially or culturally belong to different nations and should not mix. Fascist and Nazi Europe was rife with reactionary nationalism.
Enter the Bush effect, the slide down the slippery slope...
Since becoming President, George W. Bush has been at the leading edge of a new world trend toward reactionary nationalism. Probably the first popular example of that was "freedom fries," the anti-French sentiment generated by Bush's pressure to conduct war in Iraq. Bush has convinced America that we are at war against not only liberalism (the French liberals), but also "radical Islam." The Dubai Ports scandal was the product of our reactionary nationalist fears of Islam. You might argue that this Dubai issue contradicts the Bush effect theory because Bush was in favor of the deal, but if you have followed the story, it was Bill Clinton who favored the deal. Bush didn't know about it, or so goes the claim. By the time Bush found out, the deal had already been struck and Bush was forced to choose between supporting an ally and the public's reactionary nationalism.
I heard a report on National Public Radio this morning about the rise of reactionary nationalism, xenophobia, and fascism in Russia. Russia is a vast melting pot empire of cultural diversity. Under Communist socialism, Russia attempted to assimilate all the diverse cultural nationalities under one umbrella, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR. Since the end of the Soviet empire, Russia has been dividing along historic nationalist lines. Now there is a growing trend toward cultural division, a reactionary nationalist trend splitting Russia politically.
Now we have Iran. If you have been paying any attention at all to the US policy regarding Iran you should know that the United States is actively seeking to politically undermine Iran's leadership. We are covertly and overtly attempting to split Iran into as many political factions as possible. We are imposing the Bush effect on Iran. We are making every effort to divide Iran both politically and culturally.
Why?
Because Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the map?
Or because Iran's oil industry is nationalized?
Or because Iran is striking deals with China?
On 29 October 2004 Iran and China announced the signing of a deal on Chinese investment in Iran’s oil fields and the long-term sale of Iranian natural gas to China that could eventually be worth $100 billion. The gas deal entails the annual export of some 10 million tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a 25-year period. The deal could eventually reach 15-20m tons a year, taking the total value to as much as $200bn. Delivery could not begin for at least five years, as Iran must first build the plants to liquefy the natural gas. This stunning development was widely considered a major blow to the Bush administration's sanctions on Iran. The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) penalizes companies investing more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas sector. Iranian officials are hopeful the deal will lead to a fundamental rethinking of doing business with Iran on the part of European countries, India, Japan, and even Russia.

Enter the Bush effect:
US President George W. Bush said he hoped to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran with diplomacy, but warned Tehran he would "use military might" if necessary to defend Israel.

Reactionary nationalism
You see, reactionary nationalism is a political tool used to mask or divert attention away from the real agenda. Bush's divisive effect on the world is hiding the real Bush agenda. United, the world can withstand the kind of pressure that Bush's corporate agenda - his New World Order - places on it. But divided by reactionary nationalism, the world doesn't stand a chance and Bush knows it.
We claim that Bush is just a bumbling oaf, an idiot in search of a village. Right. Eyes wide shut.
Remember the Bush effect.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nuke Iran?

There's a buzz in the air this weekend emanating from an article to be posted tomorrow in the April 17 edition of The New Yorker. "THE IRAN PLANS: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?" written by Seymour Hersh covers the issue. Read it.
The irony here is almost indescribable. The President of the United States wants to use nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike against the nation of Iran to ensure that Iran doesn't acquire the potential to avert a preemptive US nuclear strike.
Right.
And who is it again who is certifiably insane?
Well, one thing's for sure if we go ahead with this insane plan. When the blowback comes, and there is no doubt that it will, we'll know where it found its inspiration.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Jolt

Here's something that should give us a jolt. It leaves me thinking, "If only America had some leadership."
In America, we live in an alternate universe where instead of making a sacrifice of our personal luxuries in order to live in a safer and cleaner world, we prefer to fight and steal to get what we want.
There is another way, America. Don't believe the right-wing lies.

Maine Soldier Killed

Today's Bangor Daily News, April 8-9, 2006, reported the death of Army Spc Dustin Harris. Harris was a young Maine man from Patten, Maine, over in the County northeast of us, over on the other side of the North Maine Woods. The news of his death comes as a tragedy even for me who never knew this young man. He was the same age as my younger son and even attended the same college in Bangor that my son briefly attended, the same campus I attended when I studied electronics after my time in the service.
His death occurred in the Iraqi city of Beyji, about halfway between Baghdad and Mosul. According to one account, he was still inside his vehicle which had stopped for a foot patrol when an IED exploded killing Harris. Apparently he was the only soldier killed in the incident.
According to the report in the Bangor paper, Harris was proud of his work in the Army. Maine Senator Susan Collins is quoted as saying, "we honor his sacrifice in his dedication to serve his country and defend freedom across the world." Other sources speak of how his outfit was working to train the Iraqis to defend themselves while also searching for insurgents. We all know the current lingo.
I had never heard of Beyji before, or if I had, my memory hadn't retained the name. However, I found one website referencing the city of Beyji more than 80 times between June 12, 2003 and April 1, 2006. The website is called Iraq Pipeline Watch. It seems that Beyji is the location of a major pipeline junction and refinery complex. A map at the base of this website shows the strategic location of this Iraqi city.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Cancer Grows

Gonzales expands warrantless wiretapping potential

Phantom Emigrates

It's hard to keep up with The Phantom. I suppose that must be why we couldn't nab him in Iraq?
But apparently, he has emigrated into Palestine just to prove once-and-for-all that al-Qaeda really does care about Israel. Remember to remember this the next time you hear someone claim there's no connection between al-Qaeda and the Israel/Palestine problem.

Just Deserts

DeLay

Buying Elections

There's something bugging me about all this talk of campaign finance reform. The latest proposal for campaign finance reform is that the Republicans will have a huge financial advantage in the upcoming elections, this year and in 2008. Senator McCain himself, campaign finance reform architect, could gain from that advantage if he wins the 2008 primary for president.
What bugs me is that the Democrats are crying in their beer about this instead of celebrating it. The reason they're crying is because of the underlying assumption that the voters in America are bought with campaign spending. While that may well be the case now that so much money is spent on TV ads and so many voters rely only on advertising for name recognition at the polls, should Democrats assume that this is the only way to win elections? Isn't that an insult to voters and to democracy itself?
Isn't there another way to run a campaign?
I mean, for instance, suppose the entire Democratic Party did the right thing. Suppose they limited campaign contributions in such a way that every Democrat who got elected owed nobody any favors. That IS the right way, is it not? So suppose they actually ran their campaigns that way. Nobody can contribute more than $5,000 to any one candidate and no candidate is to accept any campaign contributions that have strings attached.
Republicans can't run campaigns that way. Republicans don't have grass-roots support. They depend on campaign contributions with strings attached.
So if the Democrats actually ran their campaigns the right way, the ethical way, they could turn on Republicans and say, "Look at all the money they are spending on TV ads making them look so clean and us look so dirty. Where did they get all that money?"
Then Democrats could actually get out and stump for votes. Go out and meet the people in person and have those people they meet go out and go to people's homes and meeting places and talk truth about the candidates and the issues. Run clean campaigns and let the Republicans try to win by being filthy.
Then let the voters decide what kind of people they want representing them, independent or corrupt.
Of course TV networks that aren't getting bribed by Democrat advertising would mutilate those candidates. But isn't it time the American people understood that's how the TV networks operate?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Define Combat Troops

I've been on John Kerry's email list ever since my name was passed to him when Howard Dean pulled out of the 2004 race for president. Today I have an email from him encouraging me to sign on as a "co-sponsor" of his bill to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. While I think troop withdrawal is a great idea, I have a problem with the wording he used in one sentence of his email.
His email referred to Bush's "future presidents" remark at his press conference last month, but Kerry's email says this:
"I believe that American combat troops should come home from Iraq in 2006 - not the distant future as President Bush does."
Great, except that at the press conference, the question didn't refer to "combat troops." The question was, "will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?"
Now I'll let my guard down here a bit. I don't trust Kerry one little bit, so it isn't surprising to me that he'd play a little word trick here on this very serious matter. He isn't the only Democrat playing this game. The truth is that there aren't very many Democrats supporting a complete withdrawal of all "American forces" from Iraq.
But just what does Kerry mean by "combat troops" and just who would remain after they are withdrawn?

Ethics Reform

Ladies and gentlemen!! May I present congressional ethics reform!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Liberal Bashing

Lately I've been looking at the vicious debate between liberal Jews and those Jews who represent Zionism. Zionism, if you haven't heard, is and was the political movement to create a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. Much of the groundwork for Zionism came from pressure in Russia to drive out Jews. This pressure took violent form in some instances in the form of pogroms, mob terrorism.
We all tend to make assumptions about the causes of anti-Semitism. Chief among our assumptions is that it originates from Christians blaming Jews for the crucifixion death of Jesus. But I've been wondering if that's really the root cause of all the hatred that's been expressed against Jews in the past century and a half. Might there be more to the story?
If there is more to it, it seems to me that the reasons are being suppressed by history, and that idea has been nagging me for a couple of years now, like a voice whispering in my ear that there's something I need to pay more attention to. My suspicions were raised by the participation of powerful Jewish neo-conservative pro-Israel voices at high levels in the Bush government. Then a library book reached out to me and whispered, "There's something inside here that you should look at." A pale blue paperback showing signs of age, that book is titled Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, by Lenni Brenner, Croom Helm, 1983.
I've checked the book out from the library several times but never been able to wrap my mind around it enough to get past the first few pages. Somehow the book seemed almost unreadable to me, so I would wind up taking it back to the library after a couple of weeks and leaving it till the next time I heard the voice whisper in my ear. A couple of weeks ago I resolved to try again, but found another similar paperback right beside it that seemed to relate to the same topic. This second book is America and the Founding of Israel: An Investigation of the Morality of America's Role, written by John W. Mulhall, CSP (a Catholic priest), Deshon Press, 1995. I read this second book first and it gave me enough history and enough straight talk about Zionism for me to then tackle reading the first book. Now I am on page 160, starting Chapter 15, of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.
It seems to me that throughout my life I have been wearing a required pair of blinders relative to the topic of the Jews. When I was young, anti-Jewish sentiment was still fairly strong in America, or at least in my corner of America. But in time, the writers of political correctness conditioned America to look at Jews through the filter of the Holocaust by showing sympathy for this downtrodden race of persecuted innocents. It became a moral sin in America to criticize the Jews. To top it off, within fundamentalist Christianity it was treated as a sin against God to criticize Israel. What resulted from this post-Holocaust conditioning of thinking towards the Jews was that people started seeing the Jews as one single entity. It was just like before the Holocaust when the anti-Semites treated all Jews alike, they hated all Jews - or at least that's how the story goes.
That single-mindedness towards all modern (post-Holocaust) Jews, seeing them all as unfortunate victims of racism, was my starting point. How can a world which has treated the Jews so badly possibly deny them a homeland in Israel? But that sentiment, the sympathy I was conditioned to feel for the Jews, blinded me from seeing more deeply into the historic problems of the Jews. It was watching the neo-conservatives at work that forced me to remove those blinders. I want to know the real politics involved. I want to know why I feel so much like just a puppet on a string, dancing to tunes I don't even recognize on a stage somewhere in the Diaspora.
Although I will never really understand the dynamics of politics, what I seem to be finding is that there is a very large division among the Jews, a division that has split the Jews for at least the past century and a half. This division is exactly what is being played out today in American politics. It is the split between the "left" and the "right," between the forces of socialism and Communism and the forces of Jewish nationalism, the Zionist movement. What that faint voice was whispering in my head was that I needed to understand just how influential the Jews were in the spread of socialism and Communism. That is the piece of history that is being suppressed.
In the world of today there is a powerful wave of conservative ideology sweeping away the structures of socialism that have been erected around the world in the past century and a half. We can see that wave right here in the United States where conservatives have openly declared their goal of permanently removing liberals from power and transforming government to meet the conservative agenda.
Unspoken is the idea that these liberals are historically the liberal Jews from Russia and eastern Europe who overthrew the existing repressive regimes in the early 20th Century with Communism. Russia and Europe, and eventually England and America, felt threatened by the socialist movement, a movement representing the welfare of the working class against the oppressive interests of both oligarchy and capitalism.
European anti-Semitism was much more anti-liberal than we are allowed to think. We aren't allowed today to have any understanding of the minds of those who wanted the Jews out of Europe.
Yet here we are in the first decade of the 21st Century trying to drive the liberals out from our midst.
In other words, and this is what the voice has been whispering to me in an ever-increasing volume, conservatives are the anti-Semites of the modern world. The objective is exactly what the objective was in Nazi-ruled Europe, to drive out the socialists and hand all the power over to the wealthy capitalists. What an irony that it is those who appear to be pro-Israel who function as the modern day anti-Semites.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Zoro Toppled

It seems, if you can believe the BBC, that the Phantom of Iraq has been toppled, not by military means but by politics.
BBC is reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been replaced by someone named Abdullah al-Baghdadi.
Bad daddy?
No no no... Baghdadi, you know, like in Baghdad, the world's capital of terror.
So is that this Baghdadi, "it is not thought that al-Baghdadi exercises a great deal of actual power"?
Or is it this one, "10th century Iraqi scholar and jurist"?
Or maybe this one, the frustrated poet?
Will the real Abdullah al-Baghdadi please stand up.
I'm stumped again. I guess we'll find out who he is whenever the White House is ready to publish this next chapter in the living history of Iraq.

Judicial Activism

Here's an update on the AIPAC spying incident. Back before the 2004 election, a Pentagon official was caught passing classified information to the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby. The Pentagon official pled guilty but the AIPAC members involved in this are in court. It seems that our Justice Department is trying to legislate new laws via the courts concerning who may and who may not receive classified information.
And I thought it was the Republicans who opposed judicial activism. So much for Men in Black. It's more like Politics as Usual.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools

Here's a good way to wrap up April Fool's Day 2006.
As you read this, imagine what this would look like after another big terrorist strike here in the US, perhaps even a suitcase nuke in DC. That would make this whole stupid idea plausible. Is Bush dumb enough to attempt this without either that or a huge Middle East war - or both?
Just trying to view this through Republican eyes, nothing else. Not suggesting anything other than to defeat the Republicans this year and impeach the whole Bush gang before it's too late. Use and defend the Constitution before it's too late, America.

Quandary

I am in a quandary. I know, you think I'm always in one and you're right. But this one is special. Well, "special..." That might not be quite the right word. Here's the problem.
My wife talked me into going to the Piscataquis County expo last night. I think that's put on by the county Chamber of Commerce but I'm not all that certain about it. Anyway, it was in the gym at Piscataquis Community High School (PCHS) in Guilford. Maine, of course. So we went in and bought our tickets, $3.00 apiece, and proceeded to check out all the displays. I was surprised that there were so few merchants there. I think at least half the displays were of regional social services. What does that tell you about the local economy? Huh? It felt like being in Washington County although I suspect even there more merchants would show up for an expo, especially during mud season when there's absolutely nothing else to do on a Friday night except get drunk.
OK, so back to my quandary. Nearly every display table had bowls of candy, free. That seems to have become the main attraction at these shows. But a secondary drawing card was free raffles. Sign up for this or that drawing to be held Monday or whenever, name, phone number, address, Social Security Number (just kidding). I wonder how many calling lists I put my number on last night not even realizing it at the time! OH NO!! Sh*t!!!
No, that's not the quandary.
So one of the merchants had a lovely new beige and brown colored plastic portable toilet all set up on display, door wide open so you could look around inside. I am not kidding! And they were having a raffle, a free drawing. Sign up here. What they were giving away was a free portable toilet rental. I asked and it was like a free weekend rental if maybe you're having a party and you don't want your guests flooding your septic system, that sort of thing. So I signed up. If I win, maybe I'll have a party up on Eden Hill and invite y'all to come some nice August day when the blueberries are ripe. You can eat fresh berries and use the porta-potty for free!
OK, so these people have wood-grained refrigerator magnets that they were giving away for free for advertising. The logo is a blue crescent moon (like so many people cut into their outhouses) with the company name, "Foss Enterprises: Clean Portable Toilets" in bold. The rest says, "Rental & Service; Great Units, Rates, and Service; 'Your Business is Our Business, So Do Your Business With Us'; (207) 643-2068; Central Maine - Generally: Somerset, Piscataquis, Franklin, & Penobscot Counties; Licensed; Allyn & Lisa Foss; Insured; 274 Rowell Mountain Road; Solon, ME 04979".
Now that's a busy refrigerator magnet especially since it's only a small rectangle a little bigger than a business card!
Here's the quandary.
I picked up one of these magnets and put it in my pocket. I want to remember who to call when I claim my prize, you know, my free weekend rental? But when I got home and found the magnet in my pocket, then I realized...
WHERE on your refrigerator do you put a refrigerator magnet that advertises, again in bold,
Clean Portable Toilets
?????