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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Way

Something has been bugging me for awhile. Barack Obama struck a chord with me the other day when he said some of the religious right leaders have hijacked Christian faith. Google Obama hijacked religion or some such combination and you'll see that this issue hit the news this weekend.
While this may be new to the political debate, it isn't new to me. I've been trying to say that here in this blog for quite some time. I came from a church that for decades labeled itself "fundamentalist" and subscribed to a narrow path for "born again" Christians that was so narrow a way that it didn't even accommodate Jimmy Carter. It couldn't accommodate him because he was too "liberal" in his faith.
Less than a year ago, though, I found myself in a discussion with members of my own family who were prominent in the early days of that church and who remain politically on the right. Strangely enough, they behaved as though they had no concept of this idea of "fundamentalist Christianity." They wanted no part of that label, whatever it means.
I can see Christians wanting to give up a label that has become associated with Osama bin Laden and right-wing Islam. But what troubles me is that the right is now denying not just the label but the idea that they ever proposed that they and they alone were ever going to be fortunate enough to enter Heaven. That was central to the fundamentalist Christian faith two, three, four decades ago. Now?
It's not that these people don't still think that way. Clearly they do. It's that they are no longer willing to talk about it in public.
But why? It was central to fundamentalist "born-again" Bible-believing Christianity right up until George W. Bush became President of the United States. Why is it now something that needs to be hidden in a closet?
Why this dishonesty?
I'm inclined to think that Barack Obama hit the nail squarely on the head when he said that right-wing Christian leaders had hijacked the faith. All this fundamentalist talk about how narrow the path of righteousness is isn't really about living a righteous life in "fundamentalist" Christianity. What this talk is really meant to do is to divide the population into two camps, the "fundamentalists" who subscribe to right-wing politics and the "liberals" who don't.
Obama had it right. It isn't about Christianity at all. It's political.
I think that's why right-wing Christians are no longer willing to stand up in public and state what they have believed for decades, that they and they alone have exclusive access to salvation, that the rest of the world is going to Hell. Right-wing Christians now understand that this divisiveness was not spiritual but rather was political and they are too embarrassed and basically too dishonest to admit it.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Immigration

I haven't written on this subject very much, if at all, but with the failure this week of the immigration reform legislation, I feel like saying my two cents' worth.
It strikes me as odd that after four years of Republican control of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House we are still trying to pass an immigration bill that would muster the support of the Republicans. Now that Democrats control both houses of Congress, it is the Republicans who are blocking an immigration reform bill that President Bush requested.
I can only draw one conclusion from this. Republicans prefer things the way they are. Republicans don't want immigrant workers to share in the fruit of their labor. Republicans want cheap labor with no benefits.
Why?
Because that's how conservative leaders think.
Republican politicians wouldn't get elected saying these things, though, so they have devised reactionary political themes to win the support of voters. The Republican focus on securing the borders, ironically to satisfy our fears of terrorist attack as well as to stem the tide of illegal immigration is the main Republican tactic. But where is there any evidence that this works?
Here's the thing. American business would be hurt if those secure borders worked to block immigration. Fences win Republican votes. They don't stop immigrants. Republicans don't want to stop immigrants. Republicans want to get elected.
What conservatives do want is cheap labor. By cheap I mean not just low wages but no benefits and no social costs for society. Conservatives want a second-class standard for low-wage workers and illegal immigrants are the perfect source. All Republican leaders know this. What the Republicans are fighting - and I am not imagining this, this is perfectly evident in their rhetoric - what the Republican leaders are fighting is the move to grant immigrant workers the same kinds of rights that American workers have. Republicans oppose allowing immigrant workers to have their families with them here in the US. Republicans oppose allowing immigrant workers access to education, social services, low-income healthcare, drivers licenses, access to the court system, retirement benefits, and any number of other benefits and protections enjoyed by US citizens.
Republican leaders want the cheap laborers. They don't want the social costs.
Since this stance won't win elections, Republican leaders want the voters to vote from reactionary fears that merge terrorist threats with low wage landscapers and construction laborers.
That's why Republicans didn't change the laws when they had full control and that's why they oppose the change now. That's why the problem we have had over the past decade will continue. Republicans are content with the status quo.
It isn't clear what the Democrats want and it isn't clear what President Bush is asking for. The so-called "liberal media" only seems to be giving us the conservative perspective. From the media we seem to be getting the idea that the Democrats want immigrant workers to be allowed to become US citizens with full access to all rights enjoyed by US citizens.
Maybe that's the case, I don't know. Maybe Democrats want new low-class citizens because they would vote primarily for Democratic candidates.
But what seems to be missing is any logical middle ground. President Bush's proposal seemed like middle ground to me, but somehow it all got lost in the politics.
I mean, if we want the benefits of low-wage immigrant workers - affordable produce, affordable housing, affordable cleaning services, etc. - but we don't want the US flooded with a new wave of immigrant families, then isn't the solution to legalize immigrant guest workers? In what way is it a solution to maintain the status quo? Why isn't it the solution to create guest worker status for millions of immigrant laborers?
Why is that not superior to the current system of promoting our irrational fear of immigrants? Why is that not superior to linking our fear of immigrant labor to terrorism? Why is that not superior to building hundreds or even thousands of miles of unenforceable fences separating America from the rest of the world? Why all this reactionary paranoia? Why not adopt a real solution to the problem?
But if we don't want the cheap labor, if we can agree that allowing cheap immigrant labor is doing harm to US citizens, then why not make it either impossible or irrational to employ illegal immigrants? Fences won't work, but sending the people who hire illegal immigrants to jail would solve the problem. Why not recognize who is creating the problem in the first place, employers who want cheaper labor even if it means breaking the law to get it. Why not send these law-breakers to jail so the illegal immigrants have no reason to cross the border in the first place?
Why not?
Because the Republicans don't want to solve the problem. The system as it now stands is the best system possible for these employers. The laws were created and are being selectively enforced for the benefit of Republican businessmen who enjoy having power over the illegal workforce that could never be supported by law.
That's why not.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Outbushing Bush

Yesterday Americablog had a post quoting Vote Vets concerning the White House comment last week that the US wishes to stay in Iraq the way we have been staying in Korea over the decades. YouTube has a video of Jon Spoltz speaking about this matter.
The thrust of the Vote Vets argument here seems to be that to speak about the truth of US plans in Iraq simply encourages the enemy to fight all that much harder to resist the American occupation.
But hasn't that been the Bush position right from the start? I mean when Bush said we would stay in Iraq not one day longer than necessary, he wasn't saying we wouldn't be there for decades. He was saying that he wanted people to think we wouldn't be there for decades.
Vote Vets seems to think the insurgency in Iraq isn't aware of these US plans.
Bush, on the other hand, isn't naive enough to think the people of Iraq don't know the reality. Bush's concern is that the American public can't know the reality - not yet, anyway. The idea of US troops spending decades in Iraq is a pretty big pill for most Americans to swallow. Bush has insisted that it would be easier to swallow if we all had our eyes shut, and that is the reason why he hasn't mentioned this long-term plan until now.
Why they are mentioning it now is not entirely clear. Did it just slip off the tongue of White House spokesman Tony Snow? Or is this a new strategy for winning long-term support from Congress?
In either case, for Vote Vets to be suggesting that we need to force the American public back into blindness again to protect the troops from the Iraqi resistance movement is just simple Orwellian nonsense. It's just outbushing Bush himself. It is neoconservative in nature, the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Dollar

I was driving across town yesterday when an idea came to me. I think I had just heard something on the radio about funding for troops injured in the war. It occurred to me that funding really shouldn't be a problem. I mean, suppose every person in America gave one dollar, that's just the cost of a typical cup of coffee in most quick-stop stores, to any troop seriously injured in the war. For that matter, why not give a dollar to the family whenever a troop is killed? Would that be too much to ask of us Americans to give that tiny little bit if someone died in service to our defense?
I know what you're thinking. A dollar isn't much. It almost sounds like I'm trivializing military service and sacrifice.
But there are 300 million Americans. If we each gave a dollar, each person who gives his or her life would receive $300,000,000 from us - 300 million dollars apiece!!
There have been nearly 3,500 American military men and women killed in the war so far. For a family of four, that would mean each family of four would owe the families of those killed in action $14,000 - not small change for a family of four by any stretch of the imagination.
I don't know where you'd draw the line here in terms of "seriously injured" but reports have it that there are a lot more serious injuries than fatalities in this war. Let's suppose there were five times as many troops seriously injured as killed. That would mean we would be giving a dollar apiece to a total of 21,000 troops so far. A family of four would owe the troops $84,000.
The nation as a whole so far would owe the troops $6,300,000,000,000 - 6.3 trillion dollars.
Now I ask you, can you afford to give just one dollar to a man or woman who looses life or limb in your defense?
It would seem that the answer is a clear and resounding "No!"
One might wonder if we "Support the Troops" Americans are spending even a penny apiece for those individuals killed or seriously injured in this war.