I moved into my cozy little cottage in October of 2003. It's surrounded by ancient oak trees; this development was built in the 1940s and 1950s and the developer built around these magnificent old trees. One week after I moved in, I was outside raking leaves. Raking all the leaves from the oak trees is a huge job. My neighbor Margie, who is one of the nicest neighbors anyone could ever have, and I spend every weekend from late August through December raking, and then, come Spring, we start in again where we left off. It's good exercise, I tell myself.
Oak trees make more than leaves, though. They make, to the vast delight of our large population of squirrels, acorns.
A few days after Miss Thing and I moved in, the acorns began to fall on the roof. Oak leaves may waft softly onto the grass, but acorns bang loudly on the roof. They congregate on the step and the walk and threaten to roll out from under your feet, re-breaking your already patched-together broken ankle. They get incredibly heavy when they get wet, and you have to rake them up with the leaves; there's no way to separate them out. And, every year, I miss some, which try to grow oak trees in my flower beds, in my herb beds, in the middle of my lawn where the squirrels stashed them for an acornless day.
There's a great book about the effect of weather cycles on human population called The Long Summer by Brian Fagan. In it, he describes how large ares of Europe were once oak forests where our ancestors gathered and subsisted primarily upon acorns. Every Fall, I marvel at that, as I'm raking up pounds and pounds of acorns. Inside even a large acorn is less than a teaspoon-full of meat. It would take so many acorns -- gathered, shelled, and ground -- to make a small, fairly bitter, piece of acorn bread. And, yet, I am sure that I carry the genes, the mitochondrial RNA, of women who spent their entire lives gathering, shelling, grinding, and baking acorns. They survived long enough to procreate and that is the only reason that I, the daughter of a long line of survivors, am here today, living in a little cottage with my cat, spending time with Grandson, enjoying my friends, and reading, writing, and making law, serving as a priestess to the Great Mother Earth.
An important part of my religion is a focus on what we call "the turning of the wheel," the cycle of the year from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter and back again. One of the great gifts, for me, of being in a coven, is the chance to celebrate that turning, year after year, with the same women, to remember where we were at this time last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and to commit the radical and magical act of imagining, describing, and plotting a route to where we want to be by this time next year.
And, this week, the acorns have started, at their own gloriously irregular intervals, banging on the roof again. Miss Thing no longer, as she did the first year, dashes under the bed to hide. It's ok. We know this part of the cycle. It's just the acorns falling from the oak trees and dropping hard and fast onto the tight cottage roof.
The second year that we lived here, there were 17-year cicadas in the Summer. They go up into deciduous trees, such as oak trees, and lay their eggs inside tree branches, just where the soft, new, green growth meets the old, hard, brown branch. Then, those ends of the branches fall to the ground and the cicadas crawl into the soil to hide for the next 16 years. That year, Margie and I raked up oak branches all Summer, but there were almost no acorns at all, most of them having been mere tiny buds on the ends of the branches that fell off the oak trees. The third year that we lived here, the oak trees, responding to the natural pruning that the cicadas provide, put all their energy into regrowing new branches, and made almost no acorns. Many of "our" squirrels died, and a new colony of dark black squirrels moved into the neighborhood. My fox grew fat, because those dark squirrels may blend into the oak branches nicely, but they stand out against the snow and the brown, dead grass of Winter. This year, my fourth Fall here, the trees, having re-branched last year, have produced a mammoth acorn crop. I've never seen so many acorns in my life. The squirrels are either in squirrel heaven, or they are overwhelmed, working overtime to bring in their harvest -- the harvest that, in ancient Europe, they'd have been competing with my ancestors to bring it. It's a blessing from the Goddess Ceres, which is what I tell myself even as I nurse my first set of real raking-blisters of the season.
The oak trees shade my cottage in the summer, but leave it exposed to the warming sun in the Winter. They breathe in the carbon dioxide that Miss Thing and I expel, and they give off the oxygen that Miss Thing and I breathe. Their acidic leaves and bark biodegrade, giving me rich, humussy soil in the middle of Virginia's red-clay country and turning my hydrangeas a bright pink. They determine what other plants I can hope to grow. And, they speak to me, the one in the backyard in particular. I've come to love them madly, even as I curse the weekends spent raking up tons and tons of leaves and, yes, acorns. Arlington County, wonderfully, collects the leaves and acorns and makes mulch, that is free for anyone who lives in the county. I like to think of the yards and gardens made lovely with the mulch from the acorns and leaves.
What natural occurrence tells you that the wheel has turned?
Sen. Inhofe Introduces Bill Challenging Calif. to Clean Up Air Quality
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has taken what some perceived as a retaliatory step against California's passage of legislation to reduce GHGs by introducing legislation that would "crank up penalties for the nation's most polluted air regions," both of which are in California. Inhofe, who has taken the position that "manmade global warming" was a hoax, the Associated Press reported, said California's GHG plan was "feel-good legislation to appease liberal special interest groups."
Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey denied the accusations by Democrats and environmentalists that the bill was in retaliation to California's initiative, stating to the AP: "While this bill is not a response, it does expose the hypocrisy of their climate initiative. This bill will clean up real air pollution; it will save thousands of lives and result in tens of billions of dollars saved, unlike the California global warming bill." California is not mentioned in the bill, but it specifies areas that do not meet ozone and particulate matter standards, and the only two areas that are currently out of sync with federal requirements are the Los Angeles basin and San Joaquin Valley.
Wrote the AP: "The bill drew an angry response from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who is in line to become the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee next year." She was quoted as saying: "I can only conclude that this legislation is punishment for my state's groundbreaking, bipartisan global warming bill." And Frank O'Donnell, director of Clean Air Watch, called Inhofe's move "a political stunt by the Senate's biggest champion of big polluters." Associated Press via Forbes.com , Sept. 8.
Officials are considering an unprecedented proposal to ban women from performing the five Muslim prayers in the immediate vicinity of Islam's most sacred shrine in Mecca. Some say women are already being kept away. The issue has raised a storm of protest across the kingdom, with some women saying they fear the move is meant to restrict women's roles in Saudi society even further. I get so tired of the patriarchal bullshit from the Abrahamic religions.
The "explanation" offered for the discrimination is total bullshit: [T]he religious authorities behind the proposal insist its real purpose is to lessen the chronic problem of overcrowding, which has led to deadly riots during pilgrimages at Mecca in the past. So if your issue is overcrowding, you can limit attendance by first-come-first-served, by allocating tickets on any one of a dozen non-discriminatory bases, or you could declare that no men can pray at the shrine.
This kind of crap always reminds of a story I heard about a time when Israel experienced an outbreak of rapes and the government considered imposing a curfew on women. Golda Meir is said to have remarked that it wasn't the women who were raping anyone and that, if a curfew was needed, it should be imposed on the people who did commit rapes -- the men. A new solution was immediately found.
Of course, this discrimination is being imposed by the Bush junta's best friends, the Saudis, so I don't expect to hear any concern about Islamofascist treatment of women from the right-wingers.
Twice in my life, I've suddenly looked up and realized, "This is heaven."
Once, was when I was doing research for my Masters degree in the Maryland archives which, at that time, were housed in a gorgeous building on the campus of St. John's in Annapolis. Sweet ladies brought wooden boxes full of letters and leather-covered journals out to your desk and let you breathe in air that had been locked into the box maybe 75 years ago.
The second time was when I was still in law school, a summer associate for a large DC law firm. I suddenly looked up and realized that I was being paid obscene amounts of money to sit in a library and read -- something that I'd willing pay obscene amounts of money to be able to do.
What's your favorite library? Your favorite book store? My home library is organized into Stickley bookcases, with fiction by author's last name and non-fiction using the Library of Congress numbering system. How is you home library organized?
Today's WaPo has an interesting article on Maryland's biggest embarrassment, Wm. Donald Schaefer. Schaefer has made a complete ass of himself in recent months concerning his attitudes towards women. Today's WaPo reports that Schaefer has made demeaning comments concerning his female opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary (Maryland, as your former daughter, I'm imploring you. Do the right thing and vote Schaefer out.)
Schaefer told Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher in comments published yesterday that Owens, the Anne Arundel County executive, is a "prissy little miss" who wears "long dresses, looks like Mother Hubbard -- it's sort of like she was a man." Schaefer made similar comments in a taped interview with NewsChannel 8. "She's got these long clothes on and an old-fashioned hairdo," he said. "You know it sort of makes you real mad."
The article, which I read at a very nice lunch at P 21, which has replaced BeDuCi, and which I ate at so that I could stop at Third Day, and buy some lovely jasmine for my kitchen window (Third Day has THE most knowledgeable sales staff in the world!), reports that Schaefer complained that:
Schaefer took time at a campaign stop in St. Mary's County yesterday to defend himself against the persistent criticism of his treatment of women. "Show me a man who is 84 years old who doesn't look at girls' backsides," he said, drawing a hearty laugh from about 20 supporters gathered at a pizza parlor in Callaway. "People make anything you say into something wrong."
"This has been a nasty race," Schaefer added. "There was a time when people used to be nice to each other. They're not nice anymore."
His whining made me think of Joe Lieberman, who has taken to crying on a daily basis that people aren't "civil" enough to him.
Look, "civil" is the new "uppity." It's employed by WATBs like Lieberman and Schaeffer -- white, upper-class males who are suddenly distressed to find that women, blacks, rank-and-file Democrats (you know, the "little people") no longer seem to know their place. I sure do hope that incivility stages a comeback. I'll gladly take rough-and-tumble politics over the rape, murder, and torture of innocent Iraqis and over Schaeffer's privileged demands that female staffers re-exit the room so that he can enjoy their ass.
First up against the wall, Motherfuckrs.
Full transparency: The very last time that Hecate tried to physically intimidate (aka threatned to spank) Son, it was to get him to put on a necktie to go to Wm. Donald Schaefer's Xmas party at the Md. Govenor's Mansion when Son insisted that he didn't want to put on a necktie because he didn't respect Wm. Donald Schaefer. Son was right. Hecate was wrong. Hecate hopes that Son will remember this in, oh, about 12 or 13 years.
The September 4th issue of Platts Inside FERC reports that:
"Since 2000, [gee, what happened in 2000, I wonder?] an anomaly has appeared: Demand, domestic production and net imports have all remained largely unchanged fomr the 1990s -- yet well-head prices have risen sharply," the National Legal and Policy Center said Tuesday, "None of the economic fundametnals can begin to account for the 300% increase in wellehad prices from 1999 to 2006."
In letters to [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] Chairman Joseph Kelliher and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm demanded a probe fo "why the volatility and prices of the current gas futures marktes have departed so fundamentally from the underlying economic fundamentals."
. . .
The issue knocked at FERC's door earlier this year when a group of Midwest attorneys general released a report blaming the rising volume of specultative trading in unregulated electronic futures markets -- especially by banks and other financial institutions -- for high gas prices. It went beyond that to say that the commission and the CFTC were significantly downplaying the impact of the futures market on wholesale natural gas prices. . . . NLPC's Boehm said speculation market-tampering has cost end-users billions of dollars over the past six years in higher gas costs and the the prolem requires "some real investigation on the Hill."
Yeah, that'll happen. Not. At least not until the Democrats re-take the Hill.
Some very kind person sent this book to me and I can't wait to read it to Grandson! Unfortunately, there was no note telling me who sent it, but the story and the pictures are really wonderful! Thank you so much!
G. Felix Allen, Jr., bully, racist, chickenhawk, and hypocrite.
G. Felix has made a habit of criticizing his opponent, decorated war veteran Jim Webb, for raising money from Hollywood. When caught on tape using racial slurs, G. Felix tried to say that he only meant to point out that Jim Webb was in Hollywood for a fundraiser, rather than in Southern Virginia, campaigning. Today's WaPo reports that, in fact, G. Felix is a leading recipient of entertainment-related campaign contributions to members of Congress, a nonpartisan analysis released yesterday shows, even as the senator has been criticizing his Democratic opponent's ties to Hollywood. . . . The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group, said that Allen ranks 16th among members of Congress in campaign contributions received from the entertainment industry during the past two years. Allen has accepted $93,350 since 2004; Webb, $20,650, according to the center. . . . "There is plenty of data to support that . . . George Allen gets far more money from the entertainment industry than either Jim Webb or nearly anyone who represents the Hollywood area in Congress," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the center, which is in Northwest Washington.
I guess it's not surprising. G. Felix Allen, Jr. really does expemplify the values of Hollywood: make-believe, form-over-substance, hype-over-reality. He's a California surfer dude who spent the Viet Nam war hiding out on a dude ranch and now pretends to be a cowboy-boot-wearing Virginian.
From the original study, we learn that: Habitat fragmentation is one of the largest threats to biodiversity. Landscape corridors, which are hypothesized to reduce the negative consequences of fragmentation, have become common features of ecological management plans worldwide. Despite their popularity, there is little evidence documenting the effectiveness of corridors in preserving biodiversity at large scales. Using a large-scale replicated experiment, we showed that habitat patches connected by corridors retain more native plant species than do isolated patches, that this difference increases over time, and that corridors do not promote invasion by exotic species. Our results support the use of corridors in biodiversity conservation.
The use of landscape corridors needs to become common practice in housing and urban development and our government needs to not only purchase and set aside large corridors from coast to coast but to pay other countires, particularly in South America and Africa, to develop and maintain such corridors. The need for funds for this sort of life-and-death project is just one of the reasons that the waste of so many billions on the Bush junta's war on Iraq sickens me.
The NYT has an interesting article on Zorastrianism, the original monotheistic, dualistic, religion. The article interests me for the ways in which it shows how enlightened religious ideals can exist within a monotheistic religion while, at the same time, patriarchial and tribal tendencies can cause real conflicts for a religion struggling to survive.
Wikipedia lists the following as major precepts of Zorastrianism:
Equalism: Equality of all, irrespective of gender, race, or religion.
Respect and kindness towards all living things. Condemnation of the oppression of human beings, cruelty against animals and sacrifice of animals.
Environmentalism: Nature is central to the practice of Zoroastrianism and many important Zoroastrian annual festivals are in celebration of nature: new year on the first day of spring, the water festival in summer, the autumn festival at the end of the season, and the mid-winter fire festival.
Hard work and charity: Laziness and sloth are frowned upon. Zoroastrians are encouraged to part with a little of what would otherwise be their own.
Loyalty and faithfulness to "family, settlement, tribe, and country."
It would be nice to see the Bush junta put our money where their mouth is. And, while I am 100% for anything that gets more trees planted, I'd really hate a mindset that considered them to be "technology."
USDA Official Urges Utilities to Plant Urban Trees to Cut Power Demand
Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey urged utilities to begin tree-planting programs in urban areas as a way to cut demand by helping moderate summer temperatures, the Washington Post reported. The comment was part of the Post's report on a creative program by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District that focused on using an ambitious tree-planting program to bring about a cooler urban environment.
Wrote the Post: "Although Bush administration officials say urban trees are a priority, spending on the federal Urban and Community Forestry Program has declined by about 25 percent in the past four years, from a high of $36 million annually to a proposed $27 million in the coming year."
SMUD estimated that giving trees to its consumers to have returned savings that double the program's cost. A U.S. Department of Energy study has found that a similar program in Los Angeles could cut that city's peak summer temperatures by five degrees.
However, some analysts said that consumer reluctance to maintain their trees and institutional obstacles at utilities more concerned with damage caused by trees are blocking the prospects for tree-planting initiatives. Rey said the Bush administration is seeking to convince utilities through "information and incentives" that tree planting reaps financial rewards.
Kathleen Wolf of the University of Washington was quoted as saying: "These people have not yet reconciled how a green living thing interacts with gray infrastructure. There has not yet been a mind shift that says trees are technology." Washington Post , Sept. 4.
BBC reports that scientists studying the deepest ice core ever extracted from Antartica have found that: Carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at anytime in the last 800,000 years.
Further, when carbon dioxide changed there was always an accompanying climate change. Over the last 200 years human activity has increased carbon dioxide to well outside the natural range," explained Dr Wolff.
Disturbingly, Dr. Wolff said that There's nothing that suggests that the Earth will take care of the increase in carbon dioxide. The ice core suggests that the increase in carbon dioxide will definitely give us a climate change that will be dangerous."
It's just so incredibly sad that now, when Earth needs responsible leadership more than at almost any time in its past, we're stuck with the Bush coup.
A few weeks ago, I forget exactly how we got there, my coven was discussing breast feeding in public and how some people react to it. I opined that some people are uncomfortable with any display of breasts that isn't fetishized. In our culture, breasts can ONLY be sexual. Today, Twisty comes to essentially the same conclusion. Molly, Thers, and the Mad Melancholic Feminista have recently weighed in on the same topic.
For a society that runs around (COMPENSATION!) screaming about how it "values families" and embraces "family values," we sure do act weird about the simple act of feeding babies.
Americans. Grow the fuck up about sex. Because, if you hurt yourself, I will laugh.
Somehow, I missed ever seeing the original Wicker Man when it came out. Well, to be fair, I was busy having a baby and starting college. But even as it grew to cult status, I somehow never saw it. My friend Kathy, one of the most creative people I know, has been telling me for some time that I should see it and a recent article noted that it's had a huge effect on today's musicians. But it wasn't until Friday night that I finally saw it, and then only really because my coven is planning a Movie Day this month and I'd ordered it (along with Bell, Book, and Candle) from Netflix.
I see why it works as a horror film and the dance scenes are, well, they're very good. And, the depictions of a pagan society weren't offensive, nor did I get the feeling that the movie was trying to make a comment on the then-nascent neo-Pagan movement. Some pagan societies practiced human sacrifice (the Druids may have;Caesar said so, although I don't think he claimed to have seen it himself) and xianity is based upon human sacrifice ritually re-enacted. What rang particularly true was the victim's warning to Lord Summersisle that, should the crops fail yet again, the community would sacrifice Lord Summersisle himself. I think we've all read The Golden Bough.
I liked the symbolism, as well: Summersisle, which is off somewhere in the West and where they grow apples. Pagans often refer to the place where souls go between death and rebirth as the Summerland closely associated with Avalon, the Isle of Apples and, for Eurocentric pagans, that place is always off in the West. I think we've all read Arthurian legends and seen Lord of the Rings.
So, having seen the original, I decided to go see the remake, despite the fact that it's gotten terrible reviews. The terrible reviews are spot on.
The remake, which is very badly cast, badly written, badly acted, and very badly costumed, is essentially an attempt to throw mud at the idea of a matriarchy. The islanders no longer grows apples; they're beekeepers. GET IT? The creepy innkeeper of the original is no longer Britt Ekland's father; the creepy innkeeper is a mean bull dyke. GET IT? The islanders no longer celebrate fertility, no longer dance ecstatic dances nor leap over bonfires, no longer copulate in the field. Instead, they tromp around dressed like Mormons, work unceasingly, and hate men. GET IT?
It's funny how projection works. I've noticed then when men imagine a matriarchal society, they almost always imagine a sexless society where the women treat men terribly. In the remake of the Wicker Man, the men literally have their tongues cut out so they can't speak. GET IT? Oh, and the colony's ancestors were Celtic. GET IT?
Jason at The Wild Hunt wonders if the remake of the Wicker Man will show Pagans how the Catholics felt about the Da Vinci Code. I think there's one important difference. Catholics aren't a fringe group that's struggling for acceptance. Catholics can, for example, have their religious symbol carved on their memorials when they die fighting for their country. Pagans can't. Even the Six-Months-Later scene, added to the remake, is designed to hammer home the point that men are nice, helpful, friendly people, while women are creepy, exploitative, heartless schemers. GET IT?
Fiona Horne, self-promoting witch extraordinaire, met with the director and with Nicholas Cage before the film was made and said, "I really respect the work of both those guys." Really, Fiona? You respect the work of director Neil LaBute, an openly misogynist director? Fiona, that's twice now that you've embarrassed yourself. You want to quit while you're ahead.
So tell me in comments: What's your favorite movie about witches or pagans. Swear to Coyote I'll hex the first person who ways The Wizard of Oz. :)
Although it's set in April, not September, this is my favorite Labor Day poem, especially the final stanza.
TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME by Robert Frost
Out of the mud two strangers came And caught me splitting wood in the yard, And one of them put me off my aim By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!" I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind And let the other go on a way. I knew pretty well what he had in mind: He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split, As large around as the chopping block; And every piece I squarely hit Fell splinterless as a cloven rock. The blows that a life of self-control Spares to strike for the common good, That day, giving a loose my soul, I spent on the unimportant wood.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March.
A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume, His song so pitched as not to excite A single flower as yet to bloom. It is snowing a flake; and he half knew Winter was only playing possum. Except in color he isn't blue, But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.
The water for which we may have to look In summertime with a witching wand, In every wheelrut's now a brook, In every print of a hoof a pond. Be glad of water, but don't forget The lurking frost in the earth beneath That will steal forth after the sun is set And show on the water its crystal teeth.
The time when most I loved my task The two must make me love it more By coming with what they came to ask. You'd think I never had felt before The weight of an ax-head poised aloft, The grip of earth on outspread feet, The life of muscles rocking soft And smooth and moist in vernal heat.
Out of the wood two hulking tramps (From sleeping God knows where last night, But not long since in the lumber camps). They thought all chopping was theirs of right. Men of the woods and lumberjacks, The judged me by their appropriate tool. Except as a fellow handled an ax They had no way of knowing a fool.
Nothing on either side was said. They knew they had but to stay their stay And all their logic would fill my head: As that I had no right to play With what was another man's work for gain. My right might be love but theirs was need. And where the two exist in twain Theirs was the better right--agreed.
But yield who will to their separation, My object in living is to unite My avocation and my vocation As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes.
A gentleman from the Shenadoah Valley does not take kindly to either G. Felix Allen Jr.'s faux cowboy act nor to Congressman Bob Goodlatte's (R VA) threat to "run the Democrats out of town."
Concerning G. Felix, he notes that: The whole discussion about George Allen's possible racism misses a more basic point: Racist or not, he is surely a bully. His "red meat" offerings and veiled threats, ("knock their soft teeth down their whiny throats") are boring, but not new. His own sister's book paints him as an out-of-control bully who terrorized his younger siblings.
Just as the inarticulate occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Allen is trying to live up to his father and thinks being a faux cowboy and hiding the California-born surfer that he is will "git 'er done." I'm old enough to realize that Allen has morphed into a tobacco-chewing version of Spiro Agnew, a rhetorical bully who can dish, but can't take. I suggest a new sign for downtown Staunton: "Here lie the presidential aspirations of George Allen, abandoned when he fled in terror from a gorilla and a giant banana."
Concerning Congressman Goolatte (literally good latte -- probably with a bit of froth):
At 60, I have a few years on you Bobby Boy. I was born in Virginia, not Massachusetts, as were you, so let me share a little history. . . . In short, you couldn't carry the athletic essential, much less the portfolio, of any of your predecessors. Therefore, I respectfully suggest you cease besmirching the office with reckless rhetoric.
But, if you intend to implement your "run them out of town" program, here's one Democrat that "ain't budgin." I will meet you anytime, anywhere in Staunton, and we will see who runs where. Maybe we could adopt a version of a Zell Miller duel. We'll go nose to nose and slap each other, not with gloves, but with our 201 files. But that would leave you unarmed, wouldn't it? You can't borrow Bully Boy's or Dick Cheney's or Karl Rove's; they're in the same fix. Maybe you could borrow W's. After all the redacting and shredding that's been done on that one, it's probably as thin as mine. On second thought, I'll give you an advantage: You can use Jim Webb's 201. It's probably as thick as a D.C. phone book and would knock me cold on the first blow.
Now that we understand each other's position and have both shown our foolish, immature tendencies in the same week, I suggest we each try to act in the future as if we were adults with an IQ of over 50 and a modicum of class.
Lest you decide that the letter-writer is some Virginia-chardonnay-drinking pansy-waist, the News Leader notes that: Charlie Bishop is a Staunton resident and a graduate of Virginia Military Institute.
I should admit that I strongly prefer that the Democrats win. If I had to sum it up in a word, I would say that the key issue in November is accountability.
Bush has put his policies before the American people three times. The first time, in 2000, he got half a million fewer votes than his opponent but won because of poorly designed ballots and voting machines in Florida. [Come on, Jon. Say it. He stole the election. It was a coup.] The next time, in 2002 (when he framed the elections as a referendum on his presidency), he derived enormous benefit from having been in office when terrorists attacked the United States. [Which, when you think about it, is pretty fucking weird, but, true, nonetheless.] The third time, in 2004, he faced a wildly inept opponent in John Kerry (and that's not just sour grapes; I said so here before the election). Bush has never been a popular president, yet he has been enormously influential both at home and overseas — in most ways, to the country's detriment. [Wrong again, Jon. In EVERY way to the country's detriment. Even a wr hawk like you can't point to even one thing Bush has done to make this country better.] Unpopularity is one thing, but a defeat at the ballot box is another, and it's the sort of negative judgment Bush badly deserves.
A second reason that Bush has been unaccountable is Congress itself. A primary role of Congress is to oversee the president through hearings, debates and investigations. Indeed, our entire political system is premised on the idea that the executive and legislative branches will clash. Under Republican control, Congress has utterly abdicated this responsibility. "This Congress doesn't see itself as an independent branch that might include criticizing an incumbent administration," said congressional scholar Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.
It hasn't always been this way. In 1993-94, when both houses of Congress and the presidency were controlled by the Democrats, the House Government Operations Committee held 135 oversight or investigative hearings. In 2004-2005, under unified Republican government, the panel (renamed the Government Reform Committee) held just 37.
That's just one measure of the degree to which this Republican Congress has simply rolled over for the president. Partisan discipline has trumped everything, and the whole notion of checks and balances has fallen by the wayside.
Democrats are probably far too giddy about what they can accomplish if they win in November. They aren't going to be able to stop the war in Iraq, and they won't banish pork-barreling or back-scratching. But that's OK. Woodrow Wilson didn't make the world safe for democracy, but he did manage to keep a pretty noxious regime from dominating a continent.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."