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, July 30, 2007

Strategy

I am beginning to think that the Republican Party has a strategy involving Attorney General Gonzales with respect to this apparent perjury over the TSA issue. Everybody knows that this involves classified information about spy programs whose stated purpose is to fight terror. I think what the White House and the Justice Department are doing strategically is that they are giving Democrats the rope that they will use to hang themselves politically. This isn't about keeping secrets and it isn't about fighting terror. This is a Republican political strategy to smear the Democratic Party before next year's election.
How?
Because when the secret programs are finally revealed in these investigations, if the Democrats do what the administration Republican strategists expect they will do, Republicans will be able to claim that it was the Democrats who forced the end of these essential anti-terror spy programs.
It's good strategy too providing two things:
1. That the Democrats will appear to successfully force the administration to reveal these secrets.
2. That the majority of the American people believe what the Republican Party thinks they believe, that when it comes to terrorism, security is more important than liberty.
Those are two huge assumptions, but if the Democrats are going to go ahead and pursue this first objective, revealing the illegal nature of Republican administration spy programs, they had better plan ahead for the second objective. They had better have some way to get the American people on their side. If they don't and Republicans successfully do smear the Democrats with this strategy, 2008 could be the comeback year for Republicans.
There can be little doubt that the White House Republican political machine is using these illegal spy powers to snoop on American political dissent, but somebody had better have some rock solid evidence before they break down these walls of secrecy or there will be hell to pay in the years ahead. Republicans may yet succeed in using terrorism to win their perpetual Republican majority.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Predestined

Some say that God has the whole future all laid out already, that everything is "predestined" to happen just as it will happen. Most who hold this view also hold to the view that we have free will, that we are free to choose among alternatives as we walk the pathways of life.
***
Two roads diverged in a wood, and II took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
***
I think most people have a problem with the notion of predestiny because it seems to contradict our own known reality. It contradicts with our own experience. Those who claim that they believe God already has the plan written have found ways to live with that apparent contradiction. If anything, they say that when we come to that fork in the road, God already knows which way we will choose to go.
Certainly in the physical world the future is predestined. The orbits of the planets is highly predictable and if one planet is on a collision course with a comet a few hundred years from now, at some point before the event scientists will be able to predict the event. But to suggest that life is as locked in to the future as the orbits of the planets seems like foolishness to me. What is life, how is it different from the realm of the inanimate, if life does not have any power over choice? Life itself is the power of choice.
I am sorry, folks, but I'm not very content with that contradiction. I need another understanding of the concept of predestiny.
If God is the author of The Book of Life, then my God is a living writer. God didn't die and go to Heaven, leaving behind him a book that chronicles every choice that we will ever make. God is writing the choices and then chronicling which ones we choose.
God didn't write the Book before the beginning of time. God isn't sitting on some high perch someplace making sure that we make all the choices he wrote that we would make before he began Creation.
God is actively writing the Book.
But in that view, what is predestination? What philosophical concepts are supported by a future view that includes predestination? If we are, as we all realize we are unless we are certifiably insane, if we are making choices and if as we make those choices both of the roads ahead are real and both just as inviting, if neither road is blocked and we know it, then where is the predestiny?
The answer to me seems perfectly clear.
Before we get to that fork in the road, both roads exist. The fact that we will come to the point where we will exercise the life force within us defines predestiny. Predestiny is the belief, the philosophy, that the choices will be there. In other words, predestiny is the philosophy that the future will be there when we get to it. It is not the philosophy that the fork will show us which way God, before time began, chose for us to go, it is the philosophy that the fork will be there, that there will be a future, that God won't pull the plug and end it all.
There is an irony to all this. The people most likely to say they believe in predestiny also tend to believe that "the end is near." In other words their definition of predestiny is the direct opposite of mine. Instead of seeing predestiny as God's guarantee that the future will come, they see it as God's guarantee that the earth will be destroyed, that God has the book all written and the end is near.
Why is it that so many wonderful concepts in philosophy are so obscured by fundamentalist religion when the truth seems so perfectly simple? The future exists! It will be there when we get there and if we perish, then it will be there for our children and our grandchildren and for their children and grandchildren. God will still be writing the Book.
Those who would have you believe otherwise are deceiving you. They aren't the godly ones. They are the children of destruction. Unless, of course, I am wrong and the end is near. But I think those who believe that just want life to end. I don't have much respect for people who think that way. To me, that's just suicide, a philosophy of mass murder/suicide.
Just because the road to destruction is the one most traveled in recent times and the other road is growing grass, that is no reason for choosing that road. Both roads are equally fresh this morning. "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Muddled Mess

The Alberto Gonzales thing is becoming quite a muddled mess. His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday is summed up well in a Washington Post editorial dated today titled "Credibility Collapse" which concludes that the time is past where Gonzales has enough credibility to serve in public office. That's a statement if there ever was one!
The thing I'm really having problems understanding is Gonzales' testimony about what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2006 when that committee was still chaired by a Republican. As near as I can make out, Gonzales told the committee that there had been no dispute with the Justice Department over the legality of the NSA spying program which the Senate Judiciary Committee was investigating. Senator Feingold had questions of Gonzales' candor at that meeting which he expressed on TPMCafe.com the next day.
On May 15 this year (2007) this assurance appeared to be contradicted when James Comey expressed his and Attorney General John Ashcroft's objections to renewal of the program in March 2004 when Comey was handling Ashcroft's responsibilities while Ashcroft was in the hospital. At yesterday's hearing, Gonzales was trying to reconcile his own February 6, 2006 statements with Comey's claim. None of the committee senators seemed to be buying what Gonzales was saying.
As near as I can tell, and I'm not at all certain that I have this correctly because it is quite confusing, but I believe that yesterday Gonzales said that when he testified on February 6, 2006, he wasn't talking about the spy program that Comey had objected to. Everyone just assumed that that was what he was talking about but he was actually talking about another spy program with which the Department of Justice had not seen any problems with. The program that Comey and Ashcroft and other Justice officials objected to was not the program that Gonzales was talking about on February 6, 2006.
I know, how do you keep all this straight? I'm just one little guy but even the senators serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee seem confused about this. Gonzales seems content to leave it at that for now. He didn't explain things yesterday.
But here's my guess:
The New York Times outed this secret program on December 16, 2005.
President Bush admitted to and defended the program on several occasions in the seven weeks between this New York Times article and Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2006.
When Gonzales testified February 6, 2006, he was testifying about the NSA spy program that President Bush had been publicly defending, or rather, he was talking about the aspects of the program that the President had made public.
What Gonzales now appears to be saying is that this program which the President had been publicly defending is not the program which Comey and the Department of Justice had opposed in March 2004. Comey's objection was to aspects of this program which President Bush had not been defending publicly in the previous six weeks.
I'm just speculating, mind you, but this kind of splitting hairs has been a Bush Administration and especially an Alberto Gonzales trademark. Gonzales yesterday in his defense admitted to the existence of secret spy programs other than the "terrorist surveillance program" described by President Bush.
But what he is now saying is that he admitted the existence of this program on February 6, 2006 and the senators on the Judiciary Committee just didn't pick up on it at the time.
Confusing? My gosh! Why would anyone think that? Is it any wonder that Congress and the American public question the credibility of the US Attorney General's testimony taken under oath?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Moment of Weakness

I just suffered a passing moment of weakness. I understand what a filibuster is and that it is a tool used by a minority group to stifle passage of majority-favored legislation. In the US Senate it takes a 3 to 2 majority vote to "end debate" and bring an item to a vote by the entire Senate. Without that 60% majority, a bill cannot be brought to a vote. The bill only needs a simple 50% majority to pass, but it needs a 60% majority before the vote to pass the bill can even take place. This clever little trick is a safeguard that prevents a small majority from dominating the Senate.
The Senate Republicans have been using this little trick recently to block Democratic attempts to appear to pass legislation that would begin the process of winding down the Iraq War. I say "appear to pass legislation" because that's all it is. President Bush would veto it and everybody knows it so the passage of legislation by Democrats in the Senate would be in appearance only. Everybody knows that.
So I'm thinking that what the Democrats are doing by appearing to want to pass this legislation is what they did back before they passed the $100 billion war funding bill this spring. They are giving Republicans in the Senate the opportunity to appear to be standing with President Bush. Political appearances are everything in Washington.
Here's the thing. Are the Democrats trying to amend the Defense Appropriations Bill because they actually want to bring the war to an end knowing full well that President Bush will veto any such efforts, or are they doing it to provoke filibustering by the Republicans?
And if they are doing it to promote filibustering, then how can we lay the blame for the filibusters on the Republicans? Aren't the Democrats participating in this charade just as much as the Republicans are?
When Bush says this is all just politics, he's right-on. This is politics! The objective is clearly to bring to the awareness of the American voters where the various Senators stand on supporting President Bush - nothing more, nothing less.
But then after my brief moment of weakness I realized something else. When President Bush says it is all politics, he says it in a deriding way. Bush appeals to the sentiment that politics is superficial and unnecessary. Susan Collins made some sort of comment that rested on this same sort of logic during the all-nighter this week. Republicans want bi-partisan cooperation, not political theater. What minority party wouldn't want that?
But the truth is that in the end, Republicans will get the legislation they want. Their filibuster power combined with Bush's veto power will ensure that Republicans still control Washington. The only power that Democrats hold in Washington right now is political. Democrats hold enough power to force the Republicans to show their hand. That's just the way the system works. That's politics and if you don't like it, Republicans, then what right do you have to call yourself American? This is democracy under the US Constitution.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Divine Power

It is now official. George W. Bush has declared himself to be the totalitarian executive. TPM reports that President Bush has issued a "Huge new claim of executive privilege" which shields the White House from congressional oversight and legal contempt charges. In other words, at the discretion of the President of the United States, the entire executive branch of government is above the law. Only God has more power than George W. Bush.
While some may be surprised by this and while Republicans just scoff at it since it lines up with power grabs by other recent Republican presidents, I am not surprised by the claim because this is the real meaning behind Bush's "unitary executive" theory. Bush has used this unitary executive argument to support his claims in many many signing statements that no part of the executive branch - and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch - will be used to force the executive branch to enforce the law. Why? Because the entire executive branch is one unit and it won't turn on itself. It will stay true to its singular executive head, the president.
President George W. Bush has broken down all but one avenue for Congressional oversight. He has virtually eliminated the Constitution of the United State with only one exception...
Impeachment

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's Back

Terrorism is back on the front burner here in America. This summer is a far cry from the fall of 2004 when everything was going Bush's way, when the neo-conservatives were in full control of the government. Remember when Bush gave bin Laden the brush-off in one of his debates with John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race? Now the Senate wants to up the reward on bin Laden to $50 million. Every day now we hear new warnings that al Qaeda is bracing to strike America again.
So the thing is, why? Why the revival of bin Laden? Wasn't he close to death or even dead a year or so back?
Somewhere this week I came across a brief report that the US government had announced a plan for running the government should Washington DC suddenly become inoperative. Was that the result of Putin's visit to Maine? Did that meeting go that badly? Putin announced this week that he's pulling Russia out of the pact with NATO regulating Russia's conventional military force placement in Europe. I guess there must have been a few speed bumps in the road down there in Kennebunkport.
But really, who expects Russia to blow up Washington? Nobody that I know of. That's insane.
I certainly don't.
But I've been saying for some time now that on some level of irrational thought, an attack on Washington can be expected.
From the neo-conservative perspective, that is from the perspective of those who favor Israel in world politics, the worst possible situation in American politics would be for the American people to turn against Zionism and its effects. It goes without saying that the single biggest thorn in the side of Islam is Israel. It was Israel that decades ago responded to Iraq's construction of a nuclear power plant with airstrikes. But since the first Gulf War, it has been America's job to preemptively strike in the Middle East.
It was the neo-conservatives at the Project for the New American Century who said that it would take a new Pearl Harbor to get the American public to support pro-Zionist use of America's wealth and military. The 9/11 terrorist attack served nobody more than it served Israel.
With the virtual mutiny of the American public over Bush's war in Iraq, nobody serves to lose more than the Israeli Zionists if American public opinion turns against the neo-conservative agenda to broaden the war into Iran.
In today's world it is not permissible in public to say these things. Simply pointing out the truth exposes the messenger to charges of anti-Semitism. If you don't believe me, just try it yourself. Try looking at this from the perspective of someone critical of Israel. Try understanding how much all this killing and all this terror is giving the advantage to Israel. Don't even take the next step. Don't try to see that all this makes perfect sense from the perspective of Israel's secret intelligence services who have virtually unlimited financial resources and zero scruples. Who besides Israel has gained anything from all this? Certainly the American people have lost a lot. The people of Iraq have lost a lot. All of Islam is now in tatters or soon will be. But Israel is stronger than ever before, strong enough even to be contemplating air strikes against Iran, potentially even nuclear strikes, if Iran doesn't bow to the Zionist will.
So why this new daily reminder in the US of al-Qaeda? Why this reincarnation of bin Laden?
Because the American public are on the verge of mutiny against the neo-conservatives and George Bush. If we carry out that mutiny, the Zionists will have no choice but to revert to another terror attack against the American people. If the mutiny got out of hand and actually took over the US government by voting out the scum, then what other choice would Zionism have but to take out Washington and take over the government?
Al Qaeda with the bomb? Not likely, not unless someone can secretly supply them with it, someone with a real need to persuade the American public to go hog wild with war against Islam.

Friday, July 13, 2007

OK if You Know

The other day I happened to tune in to Rush Limbaugh for a little while. His twisted upside-down reasoning is so distasteful that I rarely have tolerance enough to listen to his radio show, but for some reason I listened. Rush was acting as an apologist for Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter whose phone number showed up on a list of client phone numbers for a DC "escort" service during a time period in which Vitter was a US Representative from Louisiana.
Vitter himself has confessed that he did indeed use the service and regretted his choices.
Limbaugh seemed to be arguing that Vitter is just human, subject to temptation like the rest of us. This shouldn't be seen as a reason to resign. Instead, what this situation shows is that Vitter knows right from wrong. Vitter admitted that what he did was wrong. While some might argue that Vitter's activity demonstrates that he is hypocritical to push for "family values" legislation while himself engaging the services of prostitutes, Limbaugh argued that Vitter's confession demonstrates that he has the truly conservative virtue of knowing what is right and what is wrong.
Thinking about this, I realized that what Limbaugh was saying is that when liberals find that their actions are in conflict with their values, they are inclined to change their values. When conservatives find that their actions are in conflict with their values, the only thing that really matters is their values. They are human so we can forgive them for not acting in accord with their values. We all do that. What we can't forgive is when people try to change our common values.
Somehow conservatives don't see the hypocrisy in saying that as long as you know what is right and what is wrong you can do whatever you feel like doing. We are human and humans make bad choices sometimes. Conservatives seem to think there's nothing hypocritical about that.

Fox Gives In to Terror

Last week I went to see the Michael Moore movie Sicko which is playing in Waterville at Railroad Square. As far as I know, that was the only theater in central Maine playing the film. Moore's primary thesis is that the US form of healthcare financing through private insurance companies whose purpose is to maximize profits compares poorly to socialized medicine in other countries such as Canada, England, France, and even Cuba.
Naturally this film is causing a stir, or more like an undertow, in the US political realm. Conservatives in the US oppose socializing healthcare. Moore makes England's and France's public healthcare systems look so good that conservatives are now finding the need to attack those systems.
To support this argument Fox News has chosen the "doctor terrorists" who tried to bomb London using black Mercedes and who ran a loaded Jeep wagon into the front of an airline terminal in Scotland causing a fire that terrorized the entire free world. Fox is claiming that it was England's socialized medicine system that caused the doctor shortages that resulted in these radical Islamists being hired as doctors in England.
TPM has put together a video of clips from Fox News that shows this argument quite clearly.
It dawned on me that if these doctors were al Qaeda as Fox seems to be claiming, then al Qaeda itself was attacking England's socialized healthcare system. Al Qaeda must have known that using Muslim doctors employed in England as terrorists would harm the reputation of England's healthcare system. Reactionary politics is a given. Terrorism works because of reactionary politics.
So it dawned on me last night that what Fox News is suggesting is that the British give in to the terrorists. In fact, Fox's main target is the US, so they are suggesting that the US give in to al Qaeda terrorism and oppose socialized medicine.
Conservative politics makes very little sense but this little argument, that socialized medicine makes countries vulnerable to terrorism makes no sense at all unless what Fox is doing is to suggest that we start giving in to al Qaeda and base our politics on our irrational reaction to terrorist attacks.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Terrorists Hate Socialists

What do radical militant fundamentalist Islamists and fundamentalist American Christians have in common? They both hate the damned commies, the socialists, the lefties. How can we know this? Because everything the terrorists do serves the best interests of the conservatives.
Conservatives needed something to happen to spur the American public into supporting the War on Terror? Voila! 9/11...
Conservatives need to justify the War for Oil in Iraq? Voila! Zarqawi! al Qaeda in Iraq...
Conservatives fear immigrants? Conservatives oppose socialized medicine? Voila! Immigrant doctor terrorists in England and Scotland!
What is one to conclude other than that the terrorists, like our own fundamentalists, hate the Left?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Silly Question

I have a silly question...
How would anyone know if the "surge" in Iraq were to fail? What is the measure for failure? The measure for success seems to be just about anything but how would we know if we failed?