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.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Maine, United States

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hardly Worth Noting

It has been said that American voters are likely to abandon their support for Republican politicians in the US House of Representatives and to some extent in the US Senate on election day next month. I tend to think that the reality, when it happens, won't be as significant as news reports and liberal blogs would have us think. Even if both houses of Congress went to Democrat majority rule, the fact remains that nearly half the voters in this country still vote Republican. In light of what has been revealed this year about the Republican Party, it is significantly depressing that half the voters in this country would still support that kind of politics.
I'll agree that in both parties there are some "bad apples." But what was revealed this year is that nearly the whole Republican barrel has become spoiled...
We have learned that Republicans have attempted to virtually take over the lobbying industry in Washington and in so doing have turned Washington politics into a pay-for-play system, pay off Republican politicians if you want anything from Washington.
We have learned that the Republican party is the party of closet homosexuals where it's fine to be a homosexual, just keep it hidden.
We have learned that we are killing far more people in Iraq than Republicans want us to think and that more Americans are dying over there than we are being told, all for a cause that nobody really understands primarily because it is not OK to actually state the real cause for the war, the permanent establishment of a strong American presence in the Middle East with Iraq as our base of operations. Under Republican leadership we won't be pulling out any time soon, and despite the immense propaganda effort in American media to convince us otherwise, we are beginning to understand this important point.
We have learned that the ad hominem fallacy is now the standard form in Republican politics. What was once just a fringe tactic has become mainstream for Republicans. This is no doubt true because of the success of conservative talk radio and Karl Rove politics.
We have learned that the President can spy on anyone he wishes to spy on in the name of "national security" and be exempt from the law. This spying is done in the name of the War on Terror but it includes any of the President's political critics. The days of Watergate-style investigations in Congress are long gone.
We have learned that agents of America can torture political prisoners just as long as they agree not to call it torture.
We have learned that no critic of Republican power is safe in this country. The Constitution is now nearly powerless and Republicans are working to replace any federal judges who think otherwise.
We have been told that the word "fascist" now refers to Islam, not to absolute power by the wealthy industrial class.
We have learned that only traitors hope for a more democratic America, that the founding fathers feared democracy.
We have learned that the 9/11 commission didn't do a very good job. They ignored important and controversial evidence while leading commissioners had conflicts of interest with the oil companies.
We learned that Republicans live in a state of denial and that conservative Christians tend to be Republican for this very reason. Isn't evangelical Christianity all about denial in the first place?
One by one, Americans have come to learn that the America Republicans are creating isn't the America we grew up believing in. Those who have come to realize this are wondering just how long it will take for the majority of Americans to come to this awakening. Will it be too late when that awakening comes? Will we have lost all our constitutional liberties by then?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Cat in the Bag

The Associated Press's Todd Richmond has finally let the cat out of the bag. An alternate reference to this story is here. It would appear that for the very first time, a top White House official has stated the real reason for the War on Iraq. According to Richmond, Rove is "saying the U.S. can't leave one of the world's largest oil reserves in terrorist hands."
While that would seem to make good sense on the surface, if you think about it, Rove isn't just referring to the War on Iraq. Rove must also be referring to Iran, known to have a huge oil reserve and identified by Bush as a supporter of terrorism. But the picture is actually even bigger than that. To provide the kind of security that Rove is speaking of, the United States would need to secure all of the oil reserves in Muslim dominated areas including Saudi Arabia and the huge Caspian Sea reserves whose oil and gas is piped through several Muslim nations to feed the world's energy thirst.
For a long time now Bush critics have been saying and Bush has been denying that this so-called "War on Terror" has been all about oil. Bush came into office placing the architects of the Project for the New American Century in control of our military. The agenda of that "project" dating back to before the 2000 election includes securing the world's energy resources militarily. Bush and gang have been keeping that cat tightly contained in the bag up until now, but it has been obvious to critics of the Bush strategy that this is the real reason for the war. Republicans fear that the money we spend on feeding our greed for energy will wind up advancing the cause of Islam. Therefore it is important to identify Islam as "terrorist" and declare war against it so we can secure the energy reserves under Islamic control without feeding our money to Islam.
The cat's now out of the bag thanks to Karl Rove and his worries about the 2006 election.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Christian Denial

Denial: some definitions...
disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal
Psychology. an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable
Evangelical Christians, or more accurately that element of evangelical Christians known as conservative Christians, right-wing Christians, Christian fundamentalists, Biblical literalists, or whatever the Christian right are currently calling themselves (or are in denial of calling themselves) seem to all share one pervasive aspect. They all live in denial. A good example of that is when you mention to them that George Bush is a liar, they respond, "Bush lies?" It's as if they have never heard that accusation before and certainly as if they don't believe that Bush lies. If Bush is a liar they are in denial of it, and if you have evidence they don't want to hear it.
Right-wing Christians are in denial of lots of things. They deny that the Middle East war is about oil or that it is a modern day crusade or that it is about economic imperialism or the New World Order. They deny that the US plans to maintain military bases in Iraq permanently. They deny that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have died because of the US War on Iraq. They deny that American Jews subverted US intelligence prior to the war in order to persuade the American public to support the war. They deny that there is any evidence at all that there has been a cover-up in the 9/11 investigations. They deny that the US tortures war prisoners.
They are in denial of homosexuals and sexual predators in their midst.
They are in denial of evolution. They deny that human industrial activity and energy consumption is having an impact on global warming.
They deny that women should have a right to choose if they should continue or abort a pregnancy. Yet they deny that they want to charge women who have abortions with murder and send them to jail.
They deny that anybody other than those who share their specific religious creed will go to Heaven. Yet they deny that they actually think that way.
They deny that salvation has anything at all to do with the survival of humanity here on earth. They deny that earth has a future. Yet they deny that they don't care about earth's or humanity's future.
They deny that the Bush administration has been engaged in a process designed to erode civil liberties here in America and around the world. They deny that they want authoritarian rule even though they speak dreamingly of rule by a divine King.
This list of denials could virtually go on forever but the real question is this. If God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Bible are all telling us that we need to open our eyes to reality (and who in their right mind would deny that!), why are Christians living in this paradigm of denial? Could it be that there is an underlying cause?
I've been thinking about this recently and it has dawned on me that the very basis of their belief is a form of denial. What do I mean by this, you might ask... Well, you might not ask that if you are one of these Christians. You might not want to know what I mean by that.
What is at the very heart of right-wing evangelical Christianity? What is at the core of their belief system? Salvation, right? Who is saved, who is not saved, and why are the saved saved? What is the meaning of salvation? Those are the core questions answered by their belief system.
To Biblical literalists, God created man perfect in every way. Man literally walked with God in the Garden of Eden. But for some reason, God planted temptation in that garden and Eve fell to it, then tricked Adam into doing the same. Eating the forbidden fruit brought sin into God's perfect creation. While this might not make sense to most people, it makes perfect sense to right-wing Christians. Let me go on...
You see, it is because of sin that mankind, the earth, and all of creation are condemned. Somehow when Adam and Eve sinned, God set entropy into action. If it hadn't been for the original sin of mankind, Adam and Eve and all of their descendants would have lived forever in God's perfect creation. Most of us just see the allegorical perfectionism in this story, but Biblical literalists actually believe that all this happened.
One thing is at the core of all this thinking. Sin.
Right-wing Christianity is focused on sin. Right-wing Christianity sees it this way:
All people are sinners. We all fall short of God's creation, Adam's perfection. The Bible assures us that death is the destiny of all of us because of sin.
It is because of sin that God will destroy humanity. It is because of sin that God will destroy the earth. It is because of sin that God will destroy all of His creation and begin again. It is because of sin that each one of us will suffer not just physical but spiritual death. Sin is the reason we die. And in case that weren't enough, we all deserve to spend eternity in Hell, in perpetual torture as punishment for living our life in sin.
But God gave each of us a way out of this destiny - salvation.
God provided a means to escape the inevitable consequence of sin. You see, God is a loving God. He really doesn't want us to suffer this way. He cares about our souls. He really wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, not with Satan, the deceiver, in perpetual torture. But rules are rules. Adam and Eve broke the rules so there have to be consequences. God is the authority when it comes to the rules. The price for sin has to be paid no matter what.
So God sent His one and only Son Jesus into the world to be our savior. How does that work? Jesus was born a Jew. Not only that but the Bible links Jesus bloodline to King David. Jesus was born to be the King through Joseph's bloodline, but if Mary was a virgin as the Bible states, Jesus was born divine from the very seed of God. Jesus was the ultimate human being. Yet he didn't live to be King nor did he live forever. He died a torturous and humiliating death. Despite the fact that his life was perfect, he suffered death, the consequence of sin. And all of this happened according to God's plan, God's preordained will for His Son Jesus.
But why?
Atonement.
satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends
Theology. the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, esp. as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.
In Jewish theology sin can be paid for, wiped off the divine record, through atonement, through sacrifice. The Old Testament describes this process where Jewish priests offered up young animals in sacrifice for atonement from sin.
In evangelical Christian theology supported by New Testament writings Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. God sent His own Son Jesus to be the sacrifice, the atonement, the payment - not for His own sin but for ours. Why? Because He really doesn't want us to suffer an eternity of torture. He cares about our souls. He really wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, not with Satan, the deceiver, in perpetual torture.
Or so the theology goes...
But as with any doctrine, there is an ultimate simplification of the equation. Doctrine grows like vines around basic concepts. Seemingly at the core of Christian theology is the concept of sin, but in reality, that concept is the vine, not the solid core, not the structural rock. At the core of all this theology is the fear of death. This theology of sin and atonement exists in order to overcome the elemental fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of the unseen, fear that exists because we don't walk with God.
Christian theology teaches us that although we all deserve death and we all have earned eternal torture for our rejection of God's authority, by accepting God's sacrifice of His only Son Jesus we can deny Satan his due. Through salvation we deny that we will pay the price for our disobedience to God.
At the very core of evangelical Christian theology there is this one denial.
From that one seed of denial springs denial after denial after denial for right-wing Christians. And if you think about it, isn't that to be expected? Isn't Christian denial all about denying personal responsibility for our actions? Isn't that what is accomplished by all the denials I listed at the beginning of this post?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shocking

I awoke this morning to find an important email in my inbox from (some say gay) Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman which stoops to using torture and the War on Terror as a political tool to attempt to keep the Republican Party in power for another two years. In this email, Mehlman states, "There is nothing more important than protecting the American people and ensuring that we have the intelligence we need to stop attacks on our homeland."
Two years ago President Bush ran for reelection stating that those who use torture to interrogate were "a few bad apples." Now the Republicans have come out and are telling us all that "there is nothing more important" in America today than for American interrogators to have the freedom to all be bad apples if the President so desires.
Interestingly enough, Mehlman's email makes it perfectly clear that if Democrats were in power this wouldn't have happened.
So true... So so true.
It is simply unbelievable that the people of this country live in such fear that they would cast away their nation's civility just to be protected by people like these Republicans.
Here is a copy of Mehlman's email:
***
Dear William ,
Yesterday morning marked a significant victory in the War on Terror. President Bush signed vital legislation ensuring that America can continue interrogating dangerous terrorists like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Under this new law, the brutal terrorists who planned the attack on our country can be brought to justice. This law is an important reminder of what we can accomplish when the President and Congress work together for the safety of America.
Listen to an interview with Senator John Cornyn on the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Watch video of the President signing the Military Commissions Act.
There is nothing more important than protecting the American people and ensuring that we have the intelligence we need to stop attacks on our homeland. The vast majority of Democrats in Congress did not agree. Shockingly, 84% of the Democrats in the House voted against interrogating terrorists, as did 73% of the Democrats in the Senate.
The Democrats who voted against this bill out of concern for terrorist civil liberties include all of their key leaders in Congress: would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader-in waiting John Murtha, and Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid. Would the Military Commissions Act have ever seen the light of day in a Democrat-led Congress?
The law signed yesterday continues a vital program that has played a prominent role in questioning every senior al-Qaeda leader now in our custody. Republicans in Congress worked to successfully extend this program, and Democrats overwhelmingly voted "No." That's a very clear difference.
In the next 20 days, I hope you will take a stand for a stronger America by doing everything possible to ensure that these Democrats aren't given even more power in Washington. Please click here to volunteer at your local headquarters for the final stretch to victory or to take all or part of Election Day off.
The stakes are simply too high. Yesterday's victory shows why we need leaders who will make the responsible choices for our nation's security. Make your voice heard today
Sincerely,Ken MehlmanChairman, Republican National Committee
***

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Snot

If you've have listened to conservative talk radio or to national Republican politics, you should have noticed how conservatives frequently thumb their noses at the idea of submitting the USA to any kind of international leadership. They criticize UN authority and under George W. Bush have openly declared that the United States won't submit to the international will. We will do whatever we decide to do. We won't submit to the World Court, to the Kyoto Protocols, or to the Geneva Conventions. For political reasons conservatives openly thumb their noses at "the will of the international community" whenever that will would limit the US.
So what's this statement all about?
"Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond." George W. Bush, Monday October 9, 2006
Why on earth would we think another nation might submit to this "will of the international community" when our own political leadership thinks that notion is just so much snot? How can we expect to accomplish anything from diplomacy when we base diplomacy on hypocrisy?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We Missed the Point

I was reading Josh Marshall's TPM Muckraker blog this morning concerning the flap with Secretary of State Rice. From what I gather, Bob Woodward's new book State of Denial (which I have not read) talks about a meeting on July 10, 2001 involving Condolleezza Rice and then CIA director George Tenet in which Tenet warned Rice of the threat of an al Qaeda attack within the United States. Rice is denying Woodward's account of this meeting. Apparently the 9/11 Commission knew of this meeting although it didn't report about it. Rice's denial brings up an important point that we seem to have missed until now.
During Rice's January 2005 confirmations for the post of Secretary of State, Senator Barbara Boxer questioned Rice's loyalty to the truth and received this response from Rice: "I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. . . . I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity." (Reference: Washington Post) Conservatives, of course, seemed to take that to mean that Rice was saying she doesn't lie. Most liberals knew she was simply telling another one and left it at that.
But conservatives and liberals alike missed the point. It is becoming increasingly clear that in the conservative mind, lying doesn't necessarily alter or diminish a person's integrity, particularly if the lie serves the conservative cause. You can be a person of high integrity, as Condi clearly thinks of herself, yet be at liberty to tell lies in service to one's country. Condi wasn't so much defending her truthfulness as she was defending her right to lie to benefit the conservative cause.
Of course there's nothing new about this point. Our society has long since accepted the need for lies in defense of America. The CIA itself is an organization whose primary function is to gather information through deception, take action based on that intelligence, and then lie to conceal their role in those actions. We all know and accept that rather obvious point. In fact this point is one of only a handful of points on which American conservatives agree with the perceptions of the entire rest of the world.
What Rice and the rest of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have done and are continuing to do is to take that principle and make it the official doctrine for governing the United States of America. Rice's point was that this is now legitimate and even necessary behavior for government officials. People of integrity like hers shouldn't be accused in public of disloyalty.
While I don't buy this Machiavellian viewpoint, we all missed her point when she made this comment to the Senate.