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, 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.