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

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hobby Horse

This Virginia Tech shooting thing still tops the charts on network news shows. All this talk but really, who actually believes things will get better because of this? Instead, everyone's just using it to bolster the argument for whatever their hobby horse happens to be.
Conservatives think more people should tote guns to protect themselves and the public from armed shooters like this.
Gun control people think it should be harder to get and possess a gun.
Everyone thinks it should be harder for mentally disturbed people to own guns and ammo.
CBS is using it to program America to believe in a bigger Big Brother, more trust in and dependence on authority.
Parents who worry about their defenseless children are more worried than ever.
But really, what have we seen here that those of us with any memory at all haven't seen dozens of times before? And when has anything like this led to any kind of progress?
It's been nearly 7 days since the shooting:
How many Americans have been murdered since last Monday?
How many Iraqi and Afghan people have our soldiers killed in our effort to stabilize and secure the business climate of the Middle East?
How many women have been raped in the past week?
How many women and children have been beaten or killed by husbands and fathers or even by mothers in the past week?
How many things have we done in the past week to make people safer?
The problem won't be solved by making Big Brother bigger. The problem won't be solved by putting armed guards in every campus building in America. The problem won't be solved by putting more police on the payrolls. It won't be solved by creating bigger databases or by sharing more personal and private records with authorities. We've been doing all of these things already for decades but it isn't reducing the problem. It isn't making us any safer.
Everyone's riding around America on their hobby horses but it isn't helping us solve any problems. And the fact is, nothing that the authorities do as a result of this Virginia Tech shooting will help. Nothing!
Unless the authorities finally realize that we all need to learn how to defend ourselves, how to fight back when the next crazy one shows up at our door.
The problem with that, though, is that it makes Big Brother weaker. Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan are showing us how powerless Big Brother is when the people know how to fight back.
So we will continue making Big Brother bigger and we will continue teaching our young not to fight back and things like this Virginia Tech shooting will continue happening. And it will get worse, not better.
I think people like Cho know this too. They know how powerful people like them are in a society programmed not to resist. That's the sad reality this Virginia Tech shooting represents. We are a society programmed not to resist, not to fight back, not to defend ourselves. We are a people programmed to duck and flee in fear. The shooters know this.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Proof Positive

We're always looking for something positive to say about the American effort in Iraq. Along comes a little news bite that is proof positive of the American legacy. This story even comes complete with a high-level denial of the facts by a US general. How Orwellian!
*****
U.S. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, was quoted as saying Wednesday that he was unaware of any effort to build a wall dividing Shiite and Sunni enclaves in Baghdad and that such a tactic was not a policy of the Baghdad security plan.
*****
Isn't it fascinating how many walls have been built since George Bush became president?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Frogs Eggs

I was raised in the country, not on a working farm but still on a back road in the country well away from town. In Maine there is a lot of water around in the spring when the snow melts and the frost leaves the ground. That water would stand in pools in the ditches alongside the roads, sometimes for weeks.
After mid May those pools would come alive with peepers, small frogs in a hurry to get the next generation of frogs started. Each new day there would be a new batch of frogs eggs bunched together in a see-through gel not unlike wet Jell-O.
I remember picking up these masses of eggs with my hands. Aside from being cold and wet, they had the consistency of slime. Each egg was a tiny black eye surrounded by a sack of slime that attached itself to the slime of the eggs around it. When I picked up a handful, it would slip out of my grip and disintegrate, falling back into the pool.
This morning I was listening to the testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who presented his defense to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was covered live on Public Radio. Interestingly, and maybe it's just because it's springtime again, but whatever the reason, I had the same sensation from that testimony that I used to get from holding a handful of frog eggs. His words were nothing but cold wet slime. It would be impossible to hold even so little as a handful of Gonzales words for more than a few moments.
Most of the senators didn't realize that fact this morning. They aggressively questioned him about his seeming inconsistencies. But by afternoon, the entire debate began to reflect this slimy-egg factor. The debate fizzled from Gonzales's steady stream of denial and sidestepping and sleazy misrepresentation of his own role in the Justice Department. If the winner of the debate was the one with the most frogs eggs at the end of the day, Gonzales clearly won the debate.
The White House quickly reflected agreement with me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Feeding Frenzy

Michelle Malkin has been on a feeding frenzy since yesterday's Virginia Tech shooting defending her conservative anti-gun control agenda. Earlier this morning I read in an Australian website that the shooter was an Asian with a Shanghai visa. So far, I haven't seen that information in any American media although public radio is saying the shooter was an Asian male - not sure if Asian-American or a foreign student.
[Update: 11:30 AM Tuesday: Reports now indicate the shooter was South Korean.]
CBS has thrown up a huge smokescreen the way they did with Katrina looking to pin the blame for the shooting on security authorities on and off campus.
America is sick!!!... I mean.....
How many college students die on campus every year?
How many rapes occur each year on college campuses?
How many students tried to stop the lone gunman?
How would anything have been different if students had known of the early morning dorm shooting?
How many fewer students would be shot on campus each year if students armed themselves each and every day with all manner of concealed weapons, Michelle Malkin?
Where were the "nappy-headed hoes" when America really needed them? Where were the underprivileged inner-city Blacks who face violence like this all their lives?
Where were the people of courage and integrity when these students cowered behind desks or jumped out windows while a lone gunman with one or two guns one-by-one shot thirty terrorized students in classrooms and hallways?
Why is self-defense not a mandatory component of student life?
How on earth is all the blame shifting on CBS and throughout American media going to prevent something like this from happening again?
And for god's sake.......
What else in the world is happening while we all divert our focus to this?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Turn Away

So you think the Iraq War wasn't (isn't) about oil. You believe George W. Bush's claim. You don't know what the war was about, but you sure don't think it was for the oil. Well good for you. By all means don't challenge your belief system. Don't read the links I'm about to give you.
First there is this story which should be required reading for "the troops" and their families who, in many cases, wonder why they are in Iraq.
If you are wondering why the Iraqi people seem to be resisting the US/British occupation, maybe you could consider reading this website representing the Iraqi oil union workers in southern Iraq.
This past week someone I was listening to on TV or radio - I don't recall who it was - made the connection between the current "troop surge" and the Iraq Oil Law. The suggestion was that the troop surge was buying time for the government of Iraq to pass the new "oil law." Today I found this blogger who claims to have smuggled a final draft of that law out from inside the Green Zone and translated it from Arabic to English. Now tell me again why something like that would need to be smuggled? I mean isn't the obvious explanation that big oil and the governments of the United States and Britain are applying military pressure while certain officials in Iraq's government secretly determine the fate of Iraq's vast oil wealth?
Oh God no!! That would make it a conspiracy! This blogger must be a liar! Turn away all yee faithful Bushies! Turn away!
The war wasn't (isn't) about oil?
Well then, what was (is) it about, oh wise ones of the world? Bush himself has declared that it isn't about lofty religious ideologies and end time prophesies so hold your horses on that one.
Of course you could always argue that the strategic military objectives are larger than just oil profits for the world's oil barons. After all, didn't Germany lose World War II because it ran out of oil? Didn't the southern front of their invasion of Russia, the push to reach the Baku oil fields, fail and from that point wasn't it a downhill struggle for the Nazis? Didn't the Luftwaffe run out of fuel to defend the skies over Germany from the allied bombers?
So maybe Iraq's vast oil reserves are just a strategic objective, a stepping stone in a much larger strategic theater. Oh but, right, I nearly forgot, the US isn't imperialistic. What larger strategic theater? Impossible!! Impostrous!
Troops, look away! Look away! This isn't what the war is about! Look away quick!
This must be just a bunch of untrustworthy Internet babble. Trust Bush instead. Don't trust the Web. Turn away yee faithful Bushies! Turn away!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Abundance of Caution

TPM Muckraker had something yesterday from a morning White House press "gaggle" with spokesman Scott Stanzel to which I posted this comment:
*****
Several comments have mentioned a key element in the White House defense of their use of RNC email rather than official White House email. Scott Stanzel at the White House press briefing suggested that some White House employees used RNC email when they "communicated about official business" in order to avoid "inadvertent violations" of the Hatch Act.
Note that he wasn't claiming that they communicated official business but rather that they communicated "about" official business. They only needed to concern themselves with the Hatch Act if their business was political. Official White House email couldn't be used for political purposes.
In other words, White House officials pretty much knew, had good reason to believe, that their business was political so they exercised caution by making sure they weren't conducting political business on government email accounts.
So even if officials at the Justice Department didn't know this attorney firing business was political, Stanzel has confessed that the White House officials involved had pretty significant reason to believe it was.
*****
The "abundance of caution" talking point also came up in yesterday's White House Press Briefing with Dana Perino. Isn't it interesting how the White House is using this term seemingly as a way of explaining why Karl Rove and others were conducting official business under the radar? And isn't it stretching our imagination just a little too far to think that the RNC had no intention of providing this alternative communication system as a means of conducting shady politically motivated government business outside of the reach of congressional snoops and FOIA requests? Are we to believe that Republicans are really that pure?
But even if all is as these press briefings portray it to be, then how can anyone imagine that the White House didn't know that their involvement in the attorney firings was for political gain? Any way you look at it, the credibility of the White House and of the Republican Party is harmed by this.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Abandoned Republican

I think I may have said before that I tend to think of myself more as a Republican than as a Democrat, probably in large part because my parents were loyal Republicans. I can even remember as a child going with my dad to see Margaret Chase Smith give a talk. My dad was a strong supporter of hers. For those too young to recall, Margaret Chase Smith was a Senator from Skowhegan, Maine who had the courage even as a Republican to take a stand against McCarthy politics back in the early 50s. I'm guessing that she has had occasions to roll over in her grave when Maine's two current female senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, rally voters to think of them as following in the footsteps of Margaret Chase Smith. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Republican Senator Smith from Maine, if she were in today's Congress, would be rubber stamping the Bush agenda and then playing clever politics to appear to be standing up for the interests of the Democrat voters in Maine the way Collins and Snowe are doing.
I've been thinking for quite awhile that the Republican Party was hijacked when Bush came to power especially after 9/11. I withdrew my membership when Bush was pimping his upcoming war in Iraq back in late 2002 and early 2003. For some reason it was clear to me that Bush was going to war no matter what. The media kept playing along with Bush's little charade about needing UN approval and letting the weapons inspectors do their job, blah blah blah. But it was clear to me that this was only a cheap charade to cover up the real Bush plan. Even the "coalition of the willing" was a cheap charade.
Now we have this Justice Department thing which is just getting nastier and nastier every week. It's happening under the radar screen of mainstream media but for anyone paying attention, this has to do with the Republican Party taking over America's federal law enforcement agencies and using them to win elections. This is extremely serious business, the stuff that real impeachment is made of.
So now there's this other Monica, the one that belonged to Alberto Gonzales until just recently. A few weeks ago it came out that if she were questioned by Congress about this scandal she would be pleading the 5th Amendment. What the f***! But then I realized that this woman is a true-blue red-state Christian. She knew what she had been up to in the DOJ and she knew that her political loyalty required, demanded that she lie to cover up what the DOJ has been up to in recent years. But she's a Christian. She can't be lying under oath! But she can't betray her masters either. So, plead the 5th.
I wonder if maybe she's on the verge of realizing that she's been abandoned too. Get a clue, Monica.
But here's an even more telling testimony. Former Chrysler Corporation and committed Republican supporter Lee Iacocca has a new book just coming out, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? An article dated April 11, 2007 in The Carpetbagger Report gives a few quotes from the book that support my feelings of having been abandoned by Bush Republicans. Make a point to read this article.
One quote that really strikes a cord with me is this: "You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged."
The Bush administration is the Titanic and there is every reason now to believe that virtually the entire Republican Party is on board. The iceberg has already been struck and the ship is on its way down. The lifeboats are for the women and children. Is it wrong to hope that once the ship is gone, the next generation of Republicans will realize........ No, that's pointless. The Republican Party has sold out to Satan. There won't be a revival.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Failure

For the past week or so I have been annoyed at something I thought I heard President Bush say to the American people, something to the effect that if Congress doesn't give Bush the war funding that he is demanding, the terrorists will attack America again.
I must have imagined it. I couldn't possibly have heard that.
But in Bush's April 3 Rose Garden appearance, this dialog took place:
***
Q You've talked about the consequences of failure in Iraq, and you've said that enemies would follow us home. I wonder, given that, it seems like that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of people who are charged with the responsibility of keeping America safe. So what --
THE PRESIDENT: What was that again, Ed?
Q Well, you say that the enemies would follow us home --
THE PRESIDENT: I will -- that's what they'll do, just like September the 11th. They plotted, planned, and attacked.
Q So I wonder, in your own mind, how does that vision play out? How do they follow us home? Because we've spent so much money and put so much resources into making this country safer.
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I'm not going to predict to you the methodology they'll use. Just you need to know they want to hit us again.
***
Bush went on to explain how America has tightened security at home to protect against a terrorist attack, but am I imagining it or was there certainty in Bush's statement that if we end the war in Iraq there is no doubt that we will be hit with another attack?
Here's the thing, and I think the questioner Ed in the dialog above was pointing to this situation. If, over five years into this War on Terror, if we will certainly be attacked again simply because we stop the Iraq phase of the war, then isn't it true that in the war we have made no progress at all against terrorists in the past five years? Bush is saying that if we stop fighting in Iraq, the terrorists will immediately find "safe haven" from which to launch attacks against the United States.
Many find it ironic that this safe haven essentially didn't exist in Iraq until after the US invasion in 2003. Republican propagandists try to insinuate that it did, but it really didn't exist. Saddam and bin Laden were no allies. It has been well documented that bin Laden detested secular Iraq. Saddam and bin Laden were enemies. But now, after the US overthrew Saddam and saw to it that he was executed, now Iraq is open to bin Laden's army. Or at least that's how the White House is painting the picture.
To call that progress is stretching the powers of my imagination, but somehow the powers down in Washington all seem to be able to embrace this logic. The funding will continue one way or the other.
But there is another side to this coin. We do pride ourselves on our national amnesia, but back in 2001 after the September 11 attack, and actually for a few years leading up to the attack, there was a common thread of thought that kept reminding us that the reason why terrorists kept attacking us was because they knew we wouldn't hit back. The terrorists saw the West as weak so they could hit us and we would back off, find other ways to meet our energy needs besides meddling in Middle East politics.
Arguments like that never go away. Some still claim that the world is flat or that Creation happened 6,000 years ago. But the argument that Americans wouldn't strike back if hit again doesn't hold much water anymore. We don't generally think that way now, not since 9/11. Now we understand that a terrorist attack would be a provocation. Who can doubt that now? Another terrorist attack in the US would provoke the American people to focus again on attacking the terrorist networks.
There can be no doubt that Americans aren't the only ones who understand this. The "terrorists" know it too. So the message that would be delivered by any terrorist attack now would be "Come out and fight!"
Ironically, that is precisely the message that President Bush is giving us too!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New Pope

Aha!!! I knew I'd seen the new Pope somewhere before!

McCain Succumbs

From Dictionary.com
1. To submit to an overpowering force or yield to an overwhelming desire; give up or give in. See Synonyms at yield.
2. To die.
It would appear that John McCain is going through a bit of a political metamorphosis. For several months the political left has been noticing how McCain has been prostrating himself to the religious right despite his not-so-rightish political positions in the past.
This past weekend he went sightseeing in Iraq and followed up his little shopping blitz with a press conference where his eyes seem to constantly dart down to something on the podium that he appears to be reciting from. The script sounds an awful lot like neoconservative propaganda to me.
So now this little ditty on McCain's new political fundraising strategy.
Does it sound to you the way it sounds to me, that McCain is selling his soul to the devil in order to fund his upcoming run for the White House using George W. Bush as his model? Hey, somebody's got to follow in Bush's footprints. Why not McCain, eh?
Doesn't McCain realize that Bush is the captain of the Titanic and the iceberg has already been struck? Isn't it a little late to be jumping on board that ship?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Forbidden Fruit

I may have mentioned before that I used to be a born-again Bible believing fundamentalist Christian back in the old days.
That was before Jimmy Carter was a "born-again" President...
before Bible believing became so common it was insignificant...
before America traded "fundamentalist" for Saudi oil.
Nevertheless, I attended, often several times a week, one of those churches where an open Bible during sermons proved the superiority of the church to any other church in town. Our prayers had more power. Our righteousness was supreme because we didn't claim it as our own. We claimed it was divine!
I remember one time when I was involved in a rebuilding project of the main sanctuary. I was one of only a few who dedicated a whole lot of time to the project. When it was completed I became involved as a technician with the church's first real sound system. One thing led to another and at one point I was even teaching an adult Sunday school class. I still remember, though, hanging around the church during the week, cleaning or working on projects, when the building was absolutely empty, me wondering how it can be that all these dedicated and faithful Christians could have no use for the building when they weren't there for one of the three or four scheduled hours of meetings. Something was wrong with that.
After a decade of this it began to dawn on me that I was getting more and more uncomfortable being around people who seemed to be using Christianity as a tool to judge other people by. I realized that I also had been judging, but that even when I worked hard not to judge, I was still completely surrounded by it. It was literally in the air in that church. Eventually that shattered my faith. I could see that the primary focus of the faith was to seek reasons to believe that our choices were better than the choices of others and that based on those choices we deserved more from God. Of course we denied that, but we lived it at the same time.
Years after I had stopped attending that church, and after the church had essentially stripped me of any illusion that I was a Christian, something that wasn't in doubt while I attended church, I came across something in the Bible that surprised me, something that helped me understand what was going on with that kind of Christianity. Amazingly, it is the very first lesson in the Bible and it may well be the least understood lesson in there.
In Genesis chapter 3, the serpent told Eve that as soon as she ate from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil":
1) she wouldn't die
2) her eyes would be opened
3) she would be as gods, knowing good and evil
Here we learn that it was the serpent's idea, not God's idea, that gods behave this way, that gods distinguish good and evil, that gods judge. It was the serpent's idea, the deceiver.
Oddly enough the first thing Adam and Eve notice after they eat the fruit is that they are "naked."
So from that we can see that being naked is evil.
Yet God created Adam and Eve to live naked in the Garden of Eden.
If we are to believe that God practices this exercise of defining, knowing, and judging good and evil and that being naked is evil, then what conclusion can we draw other than that God created man and woman to be evil, to live evil lives?
Yet it was not God's assurance that knowing good and evil is something God does. It was the serpent who assured that.
Why?
I think we all pretty much jump to the conclusion when we read this story that everyone already knows that God does that. The serpent wasn't introducing anything new here.
But that's clearly not true. This is mankind's introduction to this concept, speaking from the perspective of Biblical Creation. The serpent is the first one who ever suggested to mankind that it is a common practice of God to know and thus judge good and evil.
The idea that gods define what is good and what is evil came from the serpent!
Backing up a moment, this argument that I'm presenting doesn't seem to belong to Christianity. I've never seen a Christian emphasize the meaning of the term "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Most Christian teachers pay no attention to what this supposed fruit actually did to Adam and Eve. Instead, they focus on the idea that by eating the "forbidden fruit" these two first humans in creation disobeyed a command of God. Everything subsequent to this was because of the disobedience, not because of the effects of that fruit, the effects on mankind of having this "knowledge of good and evil."
But to me, this clearly is a false teaching. This story has nothing whatsoever to do with disobedience other than the fact that mankind didn't take God's advice and chose to transform their nature into this nature that we all have today, this nature where we live as though we are capable of knowing what is good and what is evil as though we know the will of God and it is somehow in God's Will that some things are good and some things are evil.
In the grander scheme of things, what is good and evil in an existence where God creates and destroys species, creates and destroys continents, creates and destroys planets, suns, galaxies, universes!!!!!
No, that's not God's gig at all. That's something we choose to do to ourselves and what this story in Genesis actually tells us is that it is through this behavior which we choose to do to ourselves, this thing we base on an idea that comes from the serpent, the deceiver, this practice of deciphering and judging what is good and evil, that we separate ourselves from God, from truth, from the reality of the way God created nature, and from the very nature of God's grace and forgiveness.
Why is it that "fundamentalist" churches make this the last lesson you learn instead of the first?