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, May 23, 2006

Intense Definitions

None of the theaters that I know of in Maine are showing Al Gore's new film on greenhouse gasses, An Inconvenient Truth. When it comes out, inconveniently many of us Mainers will contribute to earth's greenhouse by driving many miles to see this show. Such is the sense of humor of the gods of irony.
It was in the news today that President Bush has little or no positive interest in the show. Gee, that's a surprise!
According to an AP article on MSNBC, Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary, had this to say:
““The president noted in 2001 the increase in temperatures over the past 100 years and that the increase in greenhouse gases was due to certain extent to human activity... Since then he has committed tens of billions of dollars to the science and technology programs that he initiated and we are well on our way to meeting the president’s goal of reducing greenhouse intensity by 18 percent by 2012,”
So hey, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Until you ask what the White House definition of "intensity" is. In this case the definition is quite broad. The White House is measuring carbon dioxide emissions as a function of money, or more specifically as a function of the economy, of the GDP.
Conveniently, the US government maintains a table online that helps us better understand this concept. Carbon dioxide emissions as a function of GDP has been calculated since 1980 when it was 917 "metric tons carbon dioxide per million chained (2000) dollars." The figure declined every year except 1988, Reagan's last year, through 2003, the last year where data is presented in the table. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2003 were 557 "metric tons carbon dioxide per million chained (2000) dollars," a reduction of 40%.
Just for comparison, in 1980 Americans used 78.29 quadrillion BTUs of energy. In 2003, Americans used 98.31 quadrillion BTUs. That's an increase of over 25% in BTUs consumed by Americans. So from 1980 till 2003, we increased our energy consumption by 25% while decreasing our CO2 emissions per GDP by 40%. Cool. But my question then is did we increase or decrease CO2 emissions over that 23 year period of time?
Well, the GDP in chained (2000) dollars went from 5,161.7 to 10, 381.3, an increase of 100%. Shit, I think it's time to open up Excel. I'm losing track here...
What I come up with is a figure of 4.73 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 1980 and 5.78 billion in 2003, an increase of 22%. So, while we increased emissions by 22% between 1980 and 2003, we decreased the "intensity" of emissions by 40%.
Wow, huh!! I'm impressed!!
Well that changes the picture a little bit. If this is what Bush has been looking at, perhaps he should see Gore's show!

Betrayed

Two years ago I read the Dan Brown book The DaVinci Code. I wasn't one of the book's early readers. It had already established its reputation by the time I picked it up. But I didn't know the story and I hadn't been listening to the chatter. The book surprised me. It left me feeling betrayed by my faith.
That's not all that surprising, actually. As near as I can tell, that's the author's intent and he did a pretty good job of accomplishing it.
My daughter, who has been a much more dedicated Christian than I, had read the book before I did and for her, the book was just the source of frustration. She is an avid reader so she found Dan Brown's simplistic writing style to be inadequate, but at the same time she expressed to me her frustration in not being able to determine truth from fiction while she was reading.
That was exactly the sensation I got when I read the book. Many of the descriptions in the book are presented as historical facts and geographic realities, or rather as answers to puzzles we the readers never even knew existed. Dan Brown's book triggered a worldwide curiosity into the secret symbology in art and in Freemasonry and the various other secret societies.
Yesterday, my daughter took me to see the movie. I really wasn't expecting that I would enjoy it and neither was my daughter, but we both found it very entertaining. We both also found it quite stimulating in that it brought back in ways even more vivid than the book our curiosity in the works of art described in the book and shown in the movie.
One interesting aspect of my experience is this. When I read the book, it left me feeling betrayed by the church, or rather by my faith in the church. I didn't feel that yesterday, yet the movie seemed to accurately portray the book's story. I think it's because the book changed me, changed my perspective about Christianity and the Christian church. I had been teetering on the edge of this change for years, but reading the book sent me over the edge and I don't see that I'll ever get back the delusions that supported my faith.
If you haven't begun your truth quest yet, might I suggest that you go see this movie?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Truth Republican Style

"...First of all, I have heard some arguments on the other side of the aisle saying, well, you know, if you earn $40,000 a year, you would not get a very big tax cut.
Well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year, a family of two children, you do not pay any taxes. So you probably, if you do not pay any taxes, you are not going to get a very big tax cut."
That is a quote from the Congressional Record May 17, 2006, page H2749 (rightmost column), spoken by Republican Representative J. Dennis Hastert, 14th District of Illinois.
I'm wondering what family Representative Hastert had in mind when he made this statement.
I found it interesting what Democrat Representative John Spratt had to say just before Representative Hastert made this claim. Spratt was talking about how this budget will raise the debt ceiling yet again, the 5th time since June 2002 when the Bush administration assured Congress no such increase would be needed before 2008. Yet Spratt claims the increases will keep right on coming:
"Mr. Chairman, with all the jargon and all the numbers and all the rhetoric, it is hard to find your way around this budget maze, so let me start with just the basics, so basic that let’s do something revolutionary, read the resolution before you.
"Read this resolution and you will see that right here, page 1, the public debt of the United States will be $11.3 trillion in the year 2011, 5 years from now. At the end of 2001, 5 years ago, the day President Bush took office, the public debt was $5.7 trillion. That means that between 2002 and 2011, under the policies of this administration and this budget resolution, the public debt of the United States is going to double. In a 10-year period of time, we are going to double the debt from $5.7 trillion to $11.3 trillion. It is right here in your own resolution."
...
"June 2002, those of you on the Budget Committee will recall that the Bush administration came to us selling their budget. They told us, look, pass this budget with $1.7 to $1.8 trillion in tax cuts, and we still will not be back until 2008 to ask for an increase in the debt ceiling. That is how much spare capacity we have got.
"They missed it by a mile. A year later they were back, hat in hand, and they said, we need an increase in the debt ceiling of $450 billion. That was 1 year.
"The next year they came back with a phenomenal increase. May 24, 2004, the increase was $984 billion. That lasted 15 months. Following the 15-month period there was another increase, $800 billion. Just 2 months ago, in March, there was a $781 billion increase. And now tonight, if you vote for this resolution, you can add $653- to that. Those will be the 5 increases over 5 years in the debt ceiling of the United States in order to accommodate the budgets that this Congress has passed during that period of time, all together $3.7 trillion in 5 years."
To say that Republicans are out of touch trivializes the situation. They have an agenda and the truth be damned. The end justifies the means.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Right Way to Hate

It amazes me how many ways the Right have found to hate people. Michelle Malkin today hosts rants about about "illegal" immigrants possibly collecting Social Security, "while ILLEGALLY using FRAUDULENT Social Security numbers STOLEN from actual, legal citizens of the United States of America," and giving "non-existent, unsustainable, budget-busting, generation-saddling benefits to millions of people who fraudulently entered the system by stealing the identities (and sometimes ruining the credit) of legal Americans?!?" She then links to a rant, "illegal aliens may soon be voting in North Carolina." Then she posts a quote of her own rant from January 7, 2004 which ends with this paragraph:
"The door is now open for all illegal aliens to collect retirement benefits using bogus Social Security cards. What's next: survivors' benefits for the families of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers?"
Why feed hate to an already divided nation? What can this possibly accomplish? Why does the Right have such a high NEED for people to hate and fear?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Just Plain Sick

Read this post and the comments. This is written by somebody who thinks anybody opposed to Bush is a Communist.
Tell me if this doesn't remind you of the German Nazis. Can you believe we have gotten this sick here in America?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Eye Spy

There's one really good thing about sticking to your beliefs, especially when your belief is that the White House is absolutely corrupt. I mean when you believe like I do that the White House coordinated the effort to obstruct America's defenses on 9/11 to guarantee the success of the attack because, after all, it was the Bush White House and the neocons who benefited the most from 9/11, when you believe that then it comes as no surprise at all that they are actually spying on you and me, on the non-al-Qaeda types right here in America and lying to us about it. Especially when you hear it over and over and over again.
I mean, if you didn't expect these things from the Bush administration, you might even start to panic!
It pays to distrust Bush and his whole Mafia gang.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fantasy Reality

Recently I've been reading and posting about Zionism and Christian Zionism. This morning I came across an interesting article about Christian Zionism and Zionist imperialism that paints a bleak picture for the future of the world. The article, written by Yoginder Sikand, is posted here at Religious News Online and here at The American Muslim. If you want to know where the future of Bush politics and Israeli imperialism lies, I suggest you take the time to read this article.
It is striking to me how fictional this whole thing seems to be. This is a fantasy whose authors and primary advocates use the Bible as their source. Picking and choosing images from the Bible, they weave together a patchwork quilt of war and death and dominance and terror. In so doing they hope to convince converts to become the instruments of this death and terror. All this is done in the name of Jesus and to win God's favor in their pursuit of wealth. If this isn't a cult, I can't imagine what it is. It certainly isn't what it says it is. It isn't God's Will on earth.
It has dawned on me that modern right-wing Christianity has become a suicide cult. What I haven't been able to determine yet is whether this is a recent phenomenon or represents some ancient Satanic cult long suppressed by the Roman and then Catholic churches.
It makes no sense at all to see Dick Cheney as a representative of right-wing Christianity. Since I don't think he is Jewish, then that leaves only one other option. So where can I find more information about this Satanic cult that is pushing the world toward suicide?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Foggo

It would be pointless for me to write anything about this CIA thing, Porter Goss's sudden resignation, Dusty Foggo's resignation this week, all this talk of clash in the upper levels of the CIA and the clash between Goss and Negroponte. Under layers of media cover-up, though, lies another story which was just beginning to break wind last week when Goss announced his resignation. This is the Duke Cunningham story, or rather the Cunningham, Wade, Wilkes, Baker, Shirlington Limousine, prostitutes (gender unknown), Dusty Foggo, Porter Goss, Republican names ad infinitum story.
Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckraker have been covering this story ever since Cunningham's home deal started looking suspicious. If you are at all curious about what could well become the biggest sex scandal in Washington in my lifetime and how Goss got mixed up in it, these two websites are a great place to begin. TPM is pro-Democrat for sure, but the coverage has always seemed reliable to me. This isn't the kind of ad homonym character assassination information we keep seeing from the Rove spectrum of politics, the Swift Boat and Jeff Gannon slop. TPM is out there looking for the truth.
Did Goss resign because of a sex scandal? I guess you and I will just have to wait and see. Goss or no Goss, this scandal goes deep into Washington politics and it isn't all about sex. It's about criminal bribery in Washington. The sex and the limos and the poker parties just seem to be means to an end and somehow this Foggo character, number 3 man at the CIA under Goss, just happened to be connected somehow and Goss apparently didn't want to take appropriate steps once the Republican shit began hitting the fan. So his sudden resignation had nothing to do with last week's muckraking? Yeah sure...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Oil and Water

I had a memorable dream early this morning. The dream seemed to last for quite some time and unraveled itself into a story with a moral at the very end. I wish I had a more vivid memory so I could actually write the story down. It occurred to me that this dream I had would have made a very unique and meaningful film. But alas, unless this becomes a recurring dream, all I have left is a memory of the ending and the moral it presented.
I won't bore you with the details of the dream, but in the end a young ruler who had just taken power over his people, an heir to the throne so to speak, committed an unforgivable act that tribal tradition required him to die for. Actually the unforgivable act was that in his fear he pissed on somebody unintentionally. That somebody happened to be me although I didn't wake with a wet bed, thank goodness. But this was one of those dreams that sometimes try to suggest to me that I need to wake up and go pee.
Back to the story...
The setting for this event was some form of ship, like a combination airplane and old-fashioned steamship. This young ruler and his family were leading their group (tribe or whatever) into an unknown future. His parents and older brother had just been lost overboard if I recall correctly, and there was some sort of threat on this young man's life which caused him to fear. I was sheltering him from danger when the unforgivable event occurred. Older guards had surrounded us and were preparing to carry out the mandated punishment, execution. Suddenly it dawned on me that here was this pioneering civilized people making their way in a perilous world, a people who had just lost their beloved leaders, and they were being forced against their better judgment to execute their leader because of an unfair rule that they felt they had no control over. Where was the love in that?
Why not instead take control of the laws of their civilization and save their leader and themselves from their own foolishness?
At that point I woke up and yes indeed I needed to go pee. But the moral of that story has stuck with me all day today. It's been in the background, but it's been with me. I was telling my wife about this dream at the dinner table, well not the peeing part, but the lesson I learned from it. Then it dawned on me just what this lesson was, what it actually means to me. Suddenly I began philosophizing about it in terms of what has been on my mind for the past several years, the political climate here in the United States. Please remember as you read this that this philosophy is less than a day old. Forgive me if I am not able to completely convey this to you for you to understand, but here goes.
Two Philosophies
There are two fundamentally different political philosophies that govern societies.
One philosophy says that all law should be based on absolute laws of morality that are derived from a divine source such as God, YHVH, Allah, the Bible, the Quran, etc. Advocates of this philosophy see some God or gods as the divine source of an unchanging law revealed to mankind to govern the lives of all humans on earth. According to this view it is the divine mandate that government exists in order to execute this divine law. When conservative Christians in America say they think the Ten Commandments belong in America's courts, this is what they are talking about. To them, the Constitution exists to assure that Congress, the courts, and the executive branches of government carry out God's will for the United States of America and through us, His will for the world.
The other philosophy recognizes no such divine law. They don't see in the Bible or anywhere else a real divine mandate for obedience to a divine ruler. Instead, what they see in the Bible is the mandate to love one another. In this view it is not God's will that determines the laws that civilizations live by. Civilizations establish their own laws, their own rules of behavior, their own customs of morality, and their own social structures.
These two philosophies are as incompatible as oil and water. They don't mix well at all. I have heard religious people spread paranoia through their congregations trying to convince them that the day will come when they aren't even allowed to own a Bible and I have heard conservatives say they want to obliterate the left entirely.
When the religious right, the James Dobsons and Jerry Falwells of the world, warn against unspoken dangers that will come into existence when gay marriage is accepted in America, these two philosophies rear up against one another. On the one hand you have liberated minds suggesting that society can write the rules of morality however they choose. On the other you have conservative minds fixated on their unchanging moral beliefs based on their interpretation of the Bible. To conservatives there is a moral law that supersedes the laws of civilization. To liberals there is no such law. All there is is love and acceptance. To liberals all that remains if love and acceptance aren't your spiritual guide is selfish ambition.
But there is a serious flaw in the conservative philosophy. That flaw is that there does not exist in the Bible or anywhere else for that matter a divine set of rules for life. Christians imagine those rules from the Bible, but in reality they simply aren't there. These divine rules that govern civilizations are a figment of the conservative religious imagination.
In reality, civilizations do rule themselves because in reality there is no divine dictator, no divine monarch.
There is an odd aspect to conservative politics as it is being practiced in the United States. In the United States, atheists who have essentially no respect for divine moral values make just as dedicated Republicans as devout evangelical Christians. Both groups fit the mold perfectly, but up till today I have been at a loss to understand why this situation exists. Somehow conservative politics serves both interests equally well. But how?
Again, go back to the central reality of conservative religious belief, that God has revealed to mankind a set of moral rules for all people to live by, that there is a God in Heaven who expects obedience from all mankind. Religious conservatives use this as their central tenet for their political philosophy. But it is a false proposition, a fallacy. Religious conservatives base their political philosophy on a fallacy. Why would they want to do that?
They want to do that because the system of government that is practiced here in the United States is not their preferred system of government. Christians prefer monarchy. The Bible is based on the principles of monarchy, a top-down rule where the heads of nations, the kings and lords, are held by common belief to be set in place by God and thus given absolute authority. Since there is no divine mandate over the rulers of the world, since that is a figment of the imaginations of religious leaders, what is left is a system of totalitarian government where all authority and all laws are set by totalitarian fiat.
This system of totalitarian rule perfectly suits self-serving atheists just as conveniently as it serves self-deceiving religious monarchists. The end objective is the same for both groups, a government not in the hands of the common people. In order to maintain its existence, such a government must constantly convince the common man that they exist not for the purpose of establishing the law but for the purpose of following the law.
Liberal government exists for the purpose of overthrowing this totalitarian political philosophy and setting the common man free to establish his own system of rules to live by, a system hopefully governed by love and acceptance rather than by greed.
It dawned on me this evening while I was contemplating this that when the Dobsons of the world warn about gay marriage, they insinuate that accepting gay marriage would only be the beginning of a far larger agenda to destroy the family. For some reason, these doomsdayists don't explain what that larger agenda is, but they have on occasion explained that it would lead to polygamy. That makes sense. If a marriage can consist of two men or two women, then why can't it consist of three men or three women, or for that matter four or five or even more? Why couldn't a marriage consist of six men and seven women? What's to limit the definition if we reject the "divine" mandate that a marriage is between one man and one woman?
There are societies in the world, or at least there have been such societies, where the norm for family structure was not based on one man one woman isolationism. In tribal societies, women may live in one group and men in another. Or a man may have more than one wife. Any number of different social customs might be the norm. But here's the thing. For centuries, Christian missionaries have been on a crusade to destroy all such tribal customs and replace them with one man one woman marital isolationism. Whole societies have vanished as a result of this social engineering by Western culture. In Christian cultures it is illegal to live as a tribal society and practice social norms that vary from those of conservative Christianity.
The real threat to Christianity posed by gay marriage is that in time the ban against tribal customs might cease to exist. Patriarchal rule by monarchy is based on one man one woman marital customs. Bloodline rule depends on it. To challenge that custom is to challenge the entire system of power on which conservative politics depends. Should the common man ever come to the point where he no longer believes in the divinity of monogamy, all hope for totalitarian rule by monarchy would be lost.
That is what the Dobsons of the world fear.

Stinking War

For at least the past two years I have been reading Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" blog almost daily. Juan Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and an expert in Middle East studies. He holds an advantage over other commentators in that he is able to translate for himself. A recent article that I read somewhere suggested that Dr. Cole is being considered at Yale.
Dr. Cole is an open critic of the Bush administration's Iraq War policies. He is an occasional guest on the Lehrer News Hour on Public Television. Normally his blog is informative. Only occasionally does it get personal, and then usually in response to a personal attack against him.
Today, Dr. Cole wrote just such a response directed at Christopher Hitchins concerning Hitchins's alleged posting and inaccurate criticism of a private email from Dr. Cole to "a private email discussion group called Gulf2000." If you read this response, stick with it and read the whole thing. I was amazed by Dr. Cole's boldness at the end of his post.

The D Words

Do the words Dubai, Diebold, and Dabhol mean anything to you? They all have meaning to me but I keep getting them mixed up in my head.
Dubai, of course, is a port and tourist city in the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, which faces Iran across the Persian Gulf. A major multinational corporation called Dubai Ports was the topic of a recent scandal in Washington politics when that corporation bought operations in many of the US East Coast ports triggering concerns about port security since two of the 9/11 hijackers were reportedly from the UAE and the UAE was one of only a tiny minority of countries that recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Diebold is the name of an Ohio company which makes things like ATM machines and computer voting machines. Before, during, and since the 2004 election, Diebold has been in the news for the perceived threat that their voting machines pose to the security and fairness of the election process. Various sources report that tests in Florida indicated that records from these voting machines could easily be hacked and altered. Diebold's dedicated Republican CEO during the 2004 election, Walden O’Dell, now resigned from the company, reportedly committed himself "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President." This triggered a flurry of posts on the Internet, but not much attention in the mainstream media.
Dabhol is another D word with deep connections to the Bush/Cheney White House. It surprises me that Dabhol is not a household word, though. I only know the word because I read a couple of the Enron books after that Houston energy giant took down both itself and respected accounting firm Arthur Anderson. Dabhol is the name of a very large (2 plus gigawatt) and very controversial never completed power project in western India whose Phase I operations went online in recent days after a five year shutdown - since May of 2001. One of the Enron books that I read indicated that Dabhol was the largest investment ever made by Enron and probably contributed to the cash crunch that took the company down. Phase I of Dabhol was operating when George W. Bush came into office in 2001 and Phase II was under construction.
One of the main problems with Dabhol was that Enron couldn't secure the LNG (liquid natural gas) fuel supply for Phase II of the project. Original plans for the supply broke down leading speculators to suggest that Enron's success in Dabhol, or at least its ability to recoup some of its losses through the sale of the Dabhol project, might in the year 2001 have depended on the White House. It is speculated that Enron was hoping to secure a long promised gas pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Enron's financial woes might have been averted at least temporarily by the sale of Dabhol which could only have happened if the project were to be deemed viable. Without a fuel source, the project was not viable.
So the thing is, Dabhol is a major element in the Enron scandal. Why has it not become a household word? Why, in the meantime, have Dubai and Diebold been bouncing around, but not Dabhol? After all, it has been claimed by some ever since 9/11 that the real objective for the US/Afghan War and by extension the War on Terror - Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria - has been to secure Middle East and Caspian oil and gas supplies and pipelines. Ken Lay participated in Vice President Cheney's secret 2001 energy task force. Is it inconceivable that he might have mentioned Enron's need for fuel in Dabhol?
So why has all this not come up in the Enron trial that is still going on? Why are we caught instead behind a smoke-screen of other D words? If the White House had given Ken Lay reason for optimism in 2001, why isn't that information being presented at the trial? On the other hand, if the White House knew throughout 2001 of Enron's financial difficulties, why isn't that being brought out in the trial? Why hasn't this trial breached Cheney's wall of secrecy?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Colbert

Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report addressed the White House Correspondents Association dinner with President Bush in attendance along with a host of other familiar Washington celebrities. Apparently his comedy routine ticked a few people off.
I found links to the video and transcripts here.