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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Signing It Over

An interesting article from today's Boston Globe concerning Bush's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008. It appears that the White House has a few complaints with the bill that Bush signed into law:
1. The White House thinks it is unconstitutional for Congress to refuse funding for permanent military bases in Iraq and US control of Iraq's oil resources
2. The White House opposes increasing protections for whistleblowers connected to taxpayer supported federal contractors
3. The White House opposes a provision stating that intelligence agencies should when requested supply intelligence in a timely manner to the house and senate armed services committees unless the White House opposes the requests in writing
4. The White House questioned the constitutionality of establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan contracting
All told, this adds up to a recipe for fraud and abuse of power by the Bush White House, doesn't it? Does anyone have a positive interpretation of these ridiculous "statements"?


I am saddened to see John Edwards throw in the towel today. I'm sure he has his reasons, but it's sad to see his message in defeat. I tend to agree with him that Clinton has sold out to corporate America. I'm not sure I ever bought into his message that we should all have the opportunity to become rich like him, though. I do comprehend that a lot of us will remain among the poor for life. That is no reason to disqualify us from politics or from the joy of life. Wealth isn't everything.
I fear that he is making this move for personal reasons. Time will tell. The ABC article that I linked to above mentions his wife's cancer. Let's hope this isn't the reason he's quitting.
I hope Edwards doesn't cast his support to the Clinton camp. That would be a slap in the face, wouldn't it? I saw Hillary the other evening after the South Carolina loss to Obama. She was saying that she would end the war in Iraq and bring home the troops within 60 days of her becoming president. Nobody in the media has seemed to pick up on that - surprise surprise. Since I don't trust anything she says, I don't trust that claim either. I can't imagine me voting for her in November! But I can see her getting a lot of votes from Democrats. In 2006, a lot of Maine democrats - and they are a majority - voted for Republican Olympia Snowe. Politics...
Giuliani is dropping out today too, they say. Supposedly he'll cast his support to McCain. I tuned in to Rush Limbaugh yesterday for God knows what reason! He has no use for McCain at all for some reason. Limbaugh sure has changed his tune since being forced once again by American voters into the minority. No longer does he seem to think he is within shouting distance of obliterating liberalism in America. Now he's turning the venom of his abuse back within the conservative movement. That's a nice switch! Probably won't last long.
This presidential race is really a strange one. There's only one real statesman in the race, Obama. But because of the color of his skin - which is not black - the media has focused attention to his campaign on race and not on content or leadership or his amazing oratory ability. Isn't it time we spent some time trying to figure him out or are we simply assuming the media will come through and make Hillary the champion?
What a strange year this promises to be.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

LURC Hearing
I spent most of the day yesterday at the final public hearing, the fourth of four, of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, known statewide as LURC, regarding the current version of the Plum Creek proposal for the rezoning of much of Plum Creek's land here in northern Maine. My heart goes out to the LURC commissioners who had to sit through not only this meeting but three prior ones just listening to opinions being expressed over and over and over again.
The Plum Creek plan for Maine was first introduced in 2005 but has been revised more than once because of public concerns over the potential impact of taking a significant amount of undeveloped land out of forestry use and selling it to "highest and best use" developers. The plan proposes around 1,000 new house lots in various locations and two major resorts with hotels, golf courses, condominiums, restaurants, shops, etc.
Proponents cite the economic benefits for the Moosehead Lake area such as:
* the increase in construction worker and specialized contractor jobs
* more opportunities for local school graduates to return to the area to begin careers
* a higher head count for the hospital and school - both of which are currently underutilized
* a general long-term economic boost to the region
Opponents cite:
* the loss of prime recreational land to development
* loss of the image of the Moosehead area as pristine and wild forest land
* loss of appeal of this area to the new industry of envirotourism
* economic pressures that would drive out many of the current local residents, especially if the building phase accelerates and new construction workers increase the demand for existing homes in the area
* increased demand on the Town of Greenville for public services despite the fact that none of the development would increase the tax base of the town
* the prospect of short-term economic boom during construction followed by economic decline with the influx of low-paid service workers
* the impact on nature including the possibly endangered Canada Lynx and the almost invisible wolf population
Although the plan calls for resort and housing development of 20,000 acres, it also proposes "conservation" easements of over 400,000 acres of Plum Creek land in the Moosehead area. This so-called conservation is meant to offset the environmental impact of the development. But the conservation plans, while encouraging some recreational trail development and ensuring public access to waterways, also ensure continuation of the current forestry use as well as other potential industrial uses including groundwater extraction, sewage disposal, gravel mining, cell phone towers, and even wind farms, windmills on some of the highest mountains in the area. Uncertainty and controversy exist over the wording of conservation agreements which might leave the door open for undetermined and unwanted industrial use of the land while closing the door on any entity charged with overseeing and enforcing the conservation plans. According to testimony at yesterday's hearing and elsewhere, Plum Creek already holds the distinguished position of being the Maine timberlands owner with the largest fine for violation of Maine forest and wildlife protection laws. Many in Maine feel that there's no reason to extend trust to Plum Creek, that due diligence should be in order to protect the interests of the Maine people in this land which is entirely located in unorganized townships.
Proponents suggest that this is privately owned land and the owners should be free to do whatever they wish with it while opponents claim that because this is unorganized land under the jurisdiction of Maine government and LURC, the people of Maine have a stake and their interests are represented by the zoning process.
To say that this is a complicated issue significantly understates the problem.
So my heart went out to the LURC officials and staff - not to mention the dozen or more police officers charged with protecting the meeting from the threats of enviroterrorists - while both proponents and opponents as well as those caught in the middle offered, one at a time, the same opinions over and over again.
There must be a better way.
For instance, at the start of the meeting the LURC chairman asked the spectators to refrain from applause. Yet, most of the people in attendance simply wanted their voices heard either for or against the proposal. Some giving testimony were recruited to do so and probably would have testified no matter what, but of those who were not recruited, it would have been more satisfying to them and certainly far more efficient had they not been required to make their voices heard one at a time, three minutes apiece, but rather had been allowed to make themselves heard in bursts of applause and cheering early in the meeting while perhaps prepared lists of issues were read. There has to be a better way for the public to express itself than to sit through eight plus hours of boring testimony of individual opinions.
Otherwise we're all left with the impression that this meeting was simply a bureaucratic technicality, that nothing was really gained other than appeasing the concern that the public hasn't been heard.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Odd Link

I wonder where this odd terrorist link will go...
A Christian Republican from Michigan linked to stolen money and al-Qaida? How long before this topic vanishes from the radar screen?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mixed Signals

Juan Cole today posts from an interview with an important head of reconstruction in al Anbar province in Iraq. The interview was translated from a Jordanian newspaper, Al-Arab al-Yawm. No links were given to the source or to the BBC report cited by Cole. In the interview, the Iraqi official says this:
[Al-Abdallah] There are two types of occupation now in Iraq, the American and the Iranian; both are using groups from outside Iraq under the names of Al-Qa'idah or terrorism. Sometimes, these sides are managed by both parties and conduct activities inside Iraq. For this reason, the Iraqis are confronting them, because the features of the third party are not known. It tries to kill Iraqis, nothing more. It is not actually resisting the Americans or the Iranians, but targeting the Iraqis only.
Oddly enough the interviewer doesn't seem to pick up on these claims. Cole mentions them but not in any way that highlights the seriousness of them.
If I am not misreading or being mislead by the translation, doesn't Al-Abdallah here say that America and Iran are the sponsors of Al-Qa'idah and terrorism? Doesn't he explain that these acts of terrorism target the Iraqi people and not the occupying forces?
The Bush regime and the US media have been programming the American people to believe that it was because of "Al-Qa'idah" that we needed to maintain our military presence in Iraq, that once the terrorist threat had been overcome, we could remove our troops, but that it wasn't likely we would succeed in that mission for decades. As long as al-Qaida was a force in Iraq, the American presence was justified because of al-Qaeda's role in 9/11.
But here is a prominent Iraqi official from the very province that Bush and General Petraeus cite as the solution for the problems in Iraq seemingly saying that al-Qaida and the terrorists have been serving the United States. And the media isn't even picking up on it! Even in this Jordanian newspaper interview, the next question ignores these claims.
My guess is that in the Arab world there is and has been all along a widespread perception that al-Qaida serves the American interests. It's not news in Iraq nor anywhere else in that region. The American media is in denial, though, and has done an excellent job of concealing that perception from the American public.
What this official seems to be saying here is that the local Sunni insurgency successfully forced al-Qaida out of Al-Anbar province forcing the American forces to look elsewhere if they wanted to continue terrorizing the Iraqi people. The recent emergence of al-Qaida in other regions of Iraq including regions surrounding Baghdad itself would seem to prove this point.