Tomorrow is July 4th, not that anyone could forget it! But DH and I plan to see the movie, "Terminator 3, Rise of the Machines." Yeah, I know that is NOT the usual July 4th kinda thing...but since I rarely see/visit family these days, I think that will be a good alternative. And yeah, I know the movie is a no-brainer...but sometimes that is the best kind of escapist entertainment. Plus, just imagine all those fantastic special effects! So it's off to the movie tomorrow afternoon.
As for houses/property...I halfway made an offer on the house here in town, in the Historic District. The realtor talked to the owner, presented my offer (which I stated in the last entry, $70,000.00 AND owner must install central heat/air). Of course (and as I thought), not acceptable to the owner. Let's give him some time to think on this, and IF it doesn't sell within a couple months, he may reduce the price and adjust his thinking more in line with reality. :-) The realtor said she would let me know if he decides to reduce the price, so I haven't given up yet on that.
DH hasn't made another offer on the 16 acres/house in the rural area, since I am not in favor of that kind of move. I know he'd like it, but let's face it, he isn't the one who STAYS at the house most of the time -- I am. I might be afraid out there alone, and I spend MOST of my time alone...or even feel lonely. Why I should feel lonely in the country and not town, I don't know. Perhaps it is the feeling that other people are nearby, though I have NO contact with them; or perhaps it's knowing I am able to get in my car and go shopping, to the library, literally anywhere in minutes (instead of a long trip along the twisting, gas-wasting rural roads); or the past horrible experiences with rural living. Who knows? I simply would NOT feel comfortable in the country; DH would, but on the other hand, he is still involved in his career, so unless (or until) he can retire, be home all the time, I see no reason to move (not even for an investment).
Today I had some shopping and errands to do, didn't go on the bike ride. But I still weigh 90 lbs, and will probably go on the ride late this afternoon, when it cools down somewhat.
I have not commented much lately on the Bush administration, or the latest problems in Iraq, but I am going to now. First of all, here's an excerpt from an online journal I read regularly, about Bush...and I agree totally with the commentary:
The fall of the American Empire
I was mentioning here last Friday, tongue firmly in cheek, my theory of how George W. Bush might in fact be the actual Antichrist; I've been having a hard time understanding his recent public behavior in my head, I was explaining, other than as a deliberate attempt to bring about the worldwide chaos, Rapture and Second Coming that he is biblically destined to fulfill. I had a number of readers write in and seriously agree with me, which was disturbing enough; what I've discovered, though, through these reader emails (most notably from my friend Nikki Patin), is that there have actually been numerous books published since September 11 on this very subject.
I went to Borders earlier this week and checked out some of them. Most were legitimate crackpot books, trying to combine all that "Left Behind" bullshit with the real Bush family history to come up with this unifying conspiracy theory about the CIA and the UN and the World Bank and the end of the world. A surprising number of the books, however, have a much more sober and rational thing to say about it all - that, in fact, America has now passed the peak of its global dominance, and what we are seeing these days is no less than the beginning of the fall of American society as we know it.
The theory goes that all great societies, no matter whether thought of as good or evil by history, are destined to have their time of dominance and then to fade away again. Take any influential civilization, these authors say, from the Incas to the Romans to the Ottomans to the Nazis, and you will see a similar arc to their histories - a gradual rise to global power, followed by stagnation and corruption, leading inevitably to their downfall. And even more importantly, they theorize, history always shows us that the civilizations actually start falling apart years or sometimes even decades before the society itself realizes it; it's the sociopolitical version of "jumping the shark," if you want to think of it in those terms. The United States isn't immune to this societal arc, the books say; most of them agree, in fact, that our country actually started its fall during Vietnam, and that it's only now that the mask has been removed and we're starting to realize just what kind of goddamn mess we're in.
It's a scary theory to contemplate, and unfortunately the real events of late have done nothing but support it. I mean, just look at the facts: we're currently going through our worst economic crisis in nearly a century; the gulf between the rich and the poor is at one of its highest points ever; in the last four years almost 100 corporations have been caught red-handed participating in massive corruption; and in the meanwhile, American citizens are at their most docile, least politically-aware state in our country's history, most of them blindly accepting whatever their government tells them at face-value, much more interested in watching reality television (the modern equivalent of Roman orgies, one book opines) than in paying attention to the troubling news that's being generated on a daily basis these days.
And there, at the top of whole mess, is George W. Bush, playing his metaphorical fiddle while his country burns to the ground around him. In fact, the similarities between Bush and the emperors of the late Roman Empire are terrifying, when you stop and think about it: like them, Bush gained power not through legitimate means but rather through behind-the-scenes political maneuvering; like them, Bush has refused to publicly acknowledge the dire straits the country is in, even in the face of overwhelming evidence; like them, Bush has been systematically stripping away the civil rights of his country's citizens, in order to minimize the amount of public dissent; like them, Bush has started a series of arbitrary and pointless wars in order to divert the public's attention from the real domestic crises we're going through; like them, Bush is having to face an increasing amount of hostility and outright rebellion from former allies and other once-passive city-states of the Empire (European Union as barbarians, anyone?).
None of us quite realized just how bad things had gotten in the Soviet Union until it all fell apart in the late 1980s, literally over the course of a few months. So too, these books explain, is the case of the US - that the attacks of September 11 were not just terrorist attacks unto themselves, but also a profound unmasking of our former security in the US's strength and longevity, of most Americans' belief that not only is the US the greatest country in the world, but perhaps the greatest civilization in human history. It's only a matter of time, these authors contend, before we wake up one day (much sooner than we might think) and realize that the US is only a shadow of what it once was, or that it might not even exist as an actual country.
Like I said, it's a sobering thing to contemplate, especially with the economic news being what it is these days. (The latest, if you haven't heard yet - last week seven states declared that they don't have enough money to pay their government employees, and that the danger is very real of having to shut down entire industries in these states, such as garbage collection, public school systems and police departments. California is one of these seven states, and the government there just announced yesterday that they're going to be paying these employees minimum wage for at least the next year; the news has already started discussion among five or six different industries of a general strike, and we may possibly be seeing a California in a few weeks whose infrastructure more closely resembles that of a third-world country. Meanwhile, the federal government just announced that there are more people on unemployment insurance right now than at any other time in 25 years, and that they are in real danger of running out of money to pay all these people - in fact, some experts have started predicting that the federal government may just shut down the unemployment-insurance program altogether for the first time since it was invented a hundred years ago.)
It's a genuinely scary time to be an American right now - violent crime is way up, identity theft too, and our country's citizens are collectively in the highest amount of debt than at any other time in human history. It's hard to look at the things going on over here right now and not be filled with an overwhelming sense of shame over how bad things have gotten. Unfortunately, I'm starting to believe that these authors may be more right than any of us want to admit.
So what has Bush been up to lately? Here's excerpts from today's news, which I think gives us a good idea, and you can draw your own conclusions. But what was Bush thinking when he stated, "Bring em on?" I mean, was he DARING Iraqi people to attack the troops? We used to have an old saying in the South: "Please engage brain before speaking." Perhaps Bush never heard it, but he needs to take heed of it.
White House defends Bush remark on Iraqi attacks
U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri -- who is seeking his party's 2004 presidential nomination -- said the president should stop with the "phony, macho rhetoric."
"I have a message for the president," Gephardt said in a written statement. "We should be focused on a long-term security plan that reduces the danger to our military personnel."
The statement continued: "We need a clear plan to bring stability to Iraq and an honest discussion with the American people on the cost of that endeavor. We need a serious attempt to develop a postwar plan for Iraq and not more shoot-from-the-hip one-liners."
Go Gephardt! (My choice for the NEXT Prez!)
$25 million for Saddam
U.S. officials today offered a $25 million reward for information that leads to the capture of Saddam Hussein or proof that he is dead and $15 million for his sons Uday and Qusay. A group of senators back from Iraq stressed the importance of finding Saddam: "When we do, then the people of Iraq will no longer live in fear of his return," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.
Can you say: "BRING ME THE HEAD OF SADDAM"...and while you're at it: "BRING ME THE HEAD OF OSAMA"? Have we really accomplished any goals unless we KNOW and can PROVE the fate of these two? And just exactly who thinks that proving Saddam's death will in fact make the Iraqi people love us, and stop hating our occupation? Not me, that's for sure.
The War That Never Ends
Before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Lieut. General John Abizaid, who will soon take over from Army General Tommy Franks as head of the U.S. Central Command, said there is widespread local support for the coalition presence in Iraq. That support will grow, Abizaid said, "as we build governmental institutions that are good for the future of Iraq." But reaching such a happy consummation will not be easy. "If Jesus Christ or Muhammad or Yahweh decided to come back and make all the decisions, we'd have maybe a 65% chance of succeeding there," said Senator Joseph Biden last week, shortly after returning from Baghdad.
The chaotic conditions at the stadium appalled the intelligence official and a Pentagon source who accompanied him there. The men saw young boys being held at gunpoint, kneeling in the hot sand. An Army sergeant, asked why a boy was being detained, replied, "He was caught riding on the back of a stolen bicycle." Says the intelligence source: "This kind of treatment would never be tolerated in the U.S., so why here? Aren't we supposed to be showing them a different way?" Hamoudi, who eventually made it to Jordan, says the American soldiers who arrested him stole two wristwatches. An old man in the house where Hamoudi was arrested asked the soldiers if he could use the bathroom and was told, Hamoudi says, to "piss in his pants."
Such allegations are easy to make and hard to refute. But as they circulate around Iraq, they can create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if Iraqis believe that Americans will always treat them as if they are armed and dangerous, they may resentfully refuse to cooperate with the occupying forces -- who will then treat them as if they are armed and dangerous. Already the attacks on Americans mean that some of the lessons of effective peacekeeping -- painfully learned during a decade of small wars in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo -- cannot be applied. Peacekeepers work best when they move in small groups, mingling with the local population, stopping to drink coffee and share a smoke, listening for that key bit of gossip about where the local party chieftain is hiding. But because the Iraqi opposition is going after the "onesies and twosies," says a Pentagon official, U.S. troops will be tempted to hunker down and stay in large groups, protected by vehicles and the full battle rattle of helmets and body armor. You can't collect intelligence that way.
Reminds me of Vietnam...just kill off U.S. soldiers one at a time, slowly...but surely.
And this last excerpt from the Nightline Email I got about tonight's broadcast (which I recommend you watch):
Now candidate Bush had been quite forceful in criticizing the military deployments ordered by President Clinton, and said that under his administration, troops would only be sent in when the national interest of the U.S. was at stake. September 11th changed all that. We have troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, the Philippines, and more than 100 other countries. We focus on Iraq, where attacks on American troops continue to cause casualties. It gets less coverage, but there continue to be military actions in Afghanistan too, and soldiers there are being killed and wounded. There are many, especially in the military itself, who are concerned that they are stretched too thinly, too many troops on too many missions. There are also concerns that this will hurt enlistment, and re-enlistment in the all-volunteer military. Some soldiers currently serving in Iraq have been in the field for almost a year. And that means a year away from their families and homes. And that takes a toll.
Yes it does, it surely does. I predict a severe DECLINE in our volunteer military forces...soon. Can you say, "DRAFT COMING SOON"?
That's enough for today. Happy July 4th to all who read this journal.