Cider Press Hill

Skulls and crossbones

Thursday, 7:22 am

By Kate




light cloud

I took a walk up through the neighborhood on the hill behind my house this morning. It’s what we could call a neighborhood of the apparently well off. Large homes with two or three car garages and perfect landscaping. A couple of the SUVs parked in the driveways have bumper stickers promoting organic produce and The Audubon Society, to name two that I saw this morning.

Yet, oddly enough, there were little yellow flags stuck in the soil along the edges of their lawns—with a skull and crossbones on each. “Poison, Keep Off’ was printed in teeny tiny letters. The neighborhood was peppered with them. A couple of dogs were out romping in the same lawns. No kids out yet, but probably will be soon. And I wonder if these folks even notice their little yellow skull and crossbones flags anymore.

I know that I would have some trouble reconciling my support for organic produce and the Audubon Society with a bunch of skull and crossbones flags lining my property. Pesticides and herbicides don’t quite scream organic. I don’t think they contribute to the birds’ overall health and well-being, either.

Perhaps there is a slight disconnect going on up there? While they’re wallowing around in poison at home, they expect the supermarkets to stock healthful organic foods and they support environmental organizations such as the Audubon Society. When they see their little yellow skull and crossbones flags in their lawns, if they do anymore, what do they think? As long as they eat organic food it’s okay to spray the same poisons that they don’t want to eat all over their property? As if it’ll never touch them or they’ll never breathe it or it won’t end up in their bodies? I guess.

Well, it was one weird incongruous juxtaposition. Eat organic, save the birds, and plant your lawn with skulls and crossbones.


More of the same old

Wednesday, 1:13 pm

By Kate





Sometimes I just can’t help feeling like a weather magnet. See that little orange splotch on the map? The only orange splotch? Well, that’s where I am. Severe thunderstorms any time now. It’s getting really dark out, but I haven’t heard thunder yet. As soon as I do, I’m turning everything off. On Monday when we had storms, the lightning was so close that I was concerned about some of the electronic equipment getting fried. The power went off a couple of times, too. Not that I wish bad things on anyone, but really. Couldn’t these darned storms go somewhere else once in a while? All they’re doing is keeping everything nice and wet!


So sad

Tuesday, 9:17 pm

By Kate




I hit a kitty with my car tonight. It was late-ish and my own kitty had run out of kitty food. I was on my over to the convenience store to get some when a light colored animal came streaking out of the hedges on a side street and slammed into the front end of my car. I stopped immediately and ran out to see if he was okay.

Sadly, he wasn’t. He was very badly hurt. I can’t even describe what I did to him. He was bleeding all over the place, not he least from his nose and mouth. And crying terribly. I ran to a couple of the neighboring houses to see if anyone knew who he belonged to and no one did. The people whose lawn he streaked out of said he was probably in their yard munching on their catnip...a real neighborhood cat magnet and they’d seen an awful lot of cats out there that they’d never seen before.

I supposed that might account for the kitty’s lack of street smarts, if he was high on catnip.

We stood there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. The vets were closed, nearest animal emergency hospital a half to three quarters of an hour drive away...what to do? He had to be put out of his misery. We finally called the police who said, yes, indeed, they do handle situations like this. They would come get him and destroy him. I didn’t ask how, I just wanted it done. Soon. His injuries were too grievous for any hope of recovery. They came, they took him, they left.

And I feel about as awful as I can remember feeling in a long time. It was just horrible.


What the President Didn't Say

Tuesday, 8:04 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

"I lied us into an unnecessary war. I’m sorry.”

“Iraq wasn’t a terrorist front until I screwed up. Now we’re providing extremists with the largest, most advanced training camp in the world.”

“I lost sight of our mission in Afghanistan. I’m sorry Osama is still at large.”

“Iraq didn’t have one single thing to do with 9/11. I’m sorry that we tried to make you think so.”

“I apologize to all the parents and relatives who have lost loved ones in my enormous screw up of a war.”

“We don’t have enough troops and if you really love me, you’ll enlist.”

In a perfect world, of course. Instead we got more bread and circuses.

I despise politicians. Especially this one.


How did I miss that?

Tuesday, 4:05 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

I just read a post at Arthur Silber’s blog (The Light of Reason) entitled, The Case Against Andrew Sullivan: Rove’s Assistant Propogandist, in which Silber makes the claim that Sullivan has been doing, since 9/11, what Rove did last week—calling liberals traitors.

I haven’t paid much attention to Andrew Sullivan the last four years aside from noting that he’s an ultra-conservative. I’ve seen him on television a couple of times and I’ve read excerpts from his blog. That’s about it. My impression has been that he’s annoying, but occasionally surprises me with what seems like common sense.

Well, so much for that occasional pipe-dream.

Contained within one of Arthur Silber’s excerpts was a quote from an Andrew Sullivan column that ran in the Wall Street Journal on October 4, 2001.

In one atrocity, Osama bin Laden may have accomplished what a generation of conservative writers have failed to do: convince mainstream liberals of the illogic and nihilism of the powerful postmodern left. For the first time in a very long while, many liberals are reassessing—quietly for the most part—their alliance with the anti-American, anticapitalist forces they have long appeased, ignored or supported.

What has escaped me all this time is that Andrew Sullivan swallowed the neo-conservative swill and has been regurgitating it almost verbatim. Specifically, “nihilism of the powerful postmodern left.” Those are specific words that one doesn’t just draw out of the ether on one’s own.

Someone has been reading and digesting Leo Strauss, the architect of neo-conservative thought.

To wit:

[Strauss] was convinced that liberalism cultivates nihilism, and makes it the foundation of its polity. In Strauss’s view, this is the achievement of modernity...
For the sake of truth, liberals reject the imposition by those in power of a single and indisputable reality. This liberal stance conflicts with the Straussian conviction that society requires unwavering faith and unflinching devotion. And even though the result is zealotry and fanaticism, Strauss does not flinch from it; for zealotry and fanaticism are preferable to nihilism and skepticism, because the latter weaken society, while the former strengthen it.
Shadia B. Drury, Leo Strauss and the American Right (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1997), pp. 8-9.

Claims of treasonous behavior and seeing a traitor around every corner work well within the Neo-Con construct. In fact, it is necessary to keep the masses in line. It has worked so far. And Andrew Sullivan has done a yeoman’s service to the cause.

So, no matter how reasonable he sounds, at times, Sullivan is not someone I’d trust out of my sight. He has a neo-con’s heart which promotes God, Gold (unfettered capitalism), and Glory (Nationalism and Pax Americana). Not exactly my idea of the shining city on the hill.

Every time you hear someone screaming “Traitor” at anyone who disagrees with [ultra] conservative policy, remember that Leo Strauss also blamed Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust on the nihilism caused by liberalism. Nihilists are not religious or ordered enough, therefore the society they create is a vacuum from which bad people rise and the downfall of the state occurs. [Neo] Conservative societies promote fierce Nationalism as well as the religious opiate of the masses—good things—in order to keep people in line and subservient to their governments, run by the elites who know best. Prime neo-conservative philosophy. Yelling “Traitor” is an effective tool for keeping the masses in line. Remember that and thank Andrew Sullivan for advancing the cause.

Ironies abound.


I have hope

Tuesday, 12:21 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

I went out to dinner with a friend Saturday evening. We don’t normally talk about politics—it can be an explosive subject. She has been a zealous George Bush supporter since 2001. We both understand that we hold diametrically opposed opinions with no middle ground for consensus. But we enjoy each other’s company and would prefer to talk about everything else over our margaritas. Our kids have grown up together and we share a history of a sort. And this woman knows her margaritas. She’s been a fine teacher of the finer points of building the perfect margarita.

Sometimes, however, you never know exactly what will turn the subject to politics. The simplest innocent musing can do the trick.

In fact, I don’t remember what it was that I said that made the political magic happen. But the response left my jaw flopping around on the table. It seemed to come out of left field. Whatever I said, her immediate response was, “I can’t stand that man. He’s such as asshole.”

Well, it wasn’t an elegant response to whatever it was that I said, but the point was made with a fearsome vengeance that left no doubt in my mind that something has changed radically somewhere along the line. She’s furious with the President.

My equally inelegant response was, “Huh?”

“Absolutely,” she said, “he’s a spoiled rotten rich kid who’s having a lark driving this country into the ground. He doesn’t care about anything but his rich friends. The rest of us can go hang.”

Naturally, I warmed to the subject right away, although it was sort of like poking around a minefield. I didn’t want conversation to explode suddenly, so I gently encouraged her to expand on her statements. And expand she did. For a good fifteen minutes she expanded and embellished and worked up a righteous indignation.

Her final summation—“And if he thinks he’s going to get his hooks into my sons to fight his ego-driven war, he’s got another think coming.”

Then she leaned back in her chair and pronounced, “He is not a Southerner.”

There we have it. From a woman born and raised in the northern portion of the south, a Republican her entire life, delivering the ultimate insult.

In general, my interpretation of her discontent is that the occupants of the White House are not true Republicans. They’re more like aliens who landed from a different planet and they’re determined to lay waste to everything in their path, including us.

It was a fascinating conversation. There was no one thing that swayed her formerly strongly held opinions of the President. It seemed more of an accrual of events, though if I had to pinpoint a particular moment of revelation, the Terry Schiavo fiasco was probably her tipping point. Everything since has solidified her convictions. She’s not a blog reader nor a frequent newspaper reader. The last time I knew, she was a devoted Fox News consumer. But somehow, somewhere, she has reached her conclusions on her own.

And you know what? She’s a true focus group representative. An average American who doesn’t ordinarily pay that much attention to the news, who goes about her daily business, too busy to read the newspaper, trusting that the government knows what it’s doing. Until something doesn’t strike her quite right and she begins to pay more attention. Discrepancies begin to filter through. The “everything’s going well in Iraq” pronouncements don’t gibe with her own eyes watching daily film clips of suicide bombers blowing things up or the daily tally of dead American soldiers. In other words, the spin isn’t working for her anymore. She’s afraid for her kids. She’s afraid for herself and her future as a single woman. None of it looks good to her anymore.

While I’m just as afraid as she is, I still find a huge amount of hope in her gradual shift. I can guarantee that she is not the only person whose opinions have changed. Too much damage has been done, she says, we’ll never be safe again. But, she’s determined to throw the rat bastards out of office and salvage what can be salvaged. That’s pretty impressive for a life-long Republican.

The part that really made my day? She quit the Republican party and became an Independent. No more of her dollars are going to support a party that no longer represents her. Doing so requires an extra effort—to battle traffic and find a parking place and spend time at City Hall to fill out the forms. It seems small, but it takes one out of one’s daily orbit to take a stand.

It was the best dinner I’ve had in a long, long time.


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