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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sunday- the day of rest for those of a Christian persuasion. I'm in favor of a day of rest regardless of religious belief. I think we all need a break and time for reflection. Not that I'm very good at taking breaks myself. Last weekend I had two meetings in Bend-and was there for a day and a half in between with no set agenda. I was able to spend that time with Mary and Steve, two friends who've moved to the High Desert permanently. What a pleasure. They've renovated their small house in Sunriver so that it has two 'wings' with a common living space, so I had the guest wing to myself.
They are bigtime soccer fans, so I was able to spend time watching matches off the satellite feed with them in the evening. And Steve and I took their canoe and spent an afternoon paddling around one of the beautiful shallow lakes on the shoulders of Mt. Bachelor. The afternoon was gray, with squalls coming over the hills to the southwest, but the experience was pure contentment. Exercise, fresh air, good company, the fish swimming below and red and yellow birds 'grokking' in the marsh grasses. In addition, I spent an afternoon driving along the Deschutes, dropping down into all the little 'parks' along the west bank looking for places to set up my easel and paint. I finally ended up doing a small canvas- in very rough form- from above Benham falls looking downriver. Given the opportunity I could do this a lot more and work a lot less. Sadly, my Mary wasn't able to break away from work and join me. Next time.

Suffice it to say that I also haven't had time to write much. June is near half past, school's out, and some thought of vacation trips later is called for. But, staying in the moment, what a challenging month it has been. Ronald Reagen's death this past week has, at least temporarily, pushed everything else off the main stage. The media loves pageantry, and Reagen's funeral certainly provided a full three acts. So there were things that I thought worth noting that slid right off the marquee as soon as they were posted.

On the 11th, my local newspaper noted that the State Dept acknowledged that its earlier report regarding Terrorism was- surprise- WRONG! They originally reported in April that terrorism was down in 2003 to its lowest point in 34 years, a seemingly clear sign that Bush's War on Terror was working. In fact, the report was full of error. In fact they only counted data for part of the year.....and it wouldn't have turned up except for the efforts of Rep Waxman of California. As of the article's publicatin, correct numbers were not available. I would just note that this in the latest in a series of incidents in which the Bush Administration has used bad data to bolster its positions and then has said it was a 'mistake' when the facts come home to roost. Nuff said.

On another day the editorial column in our hometown, mildly Republican newspaper, urges "Give us an Honest Vote in Florida" criticizing the practice in Jeb Bush's Florida of taking people's names off the voter roles because they are the same as those of convicted felons without any corroboration of whether they are the same person or not. As a result, people- 40,000 to 50,000 people- mostly African Americans end up having to prove their identity to be restored to the voting roles. Since the 2000 election in Florida was SO dubious, this is frightening. And if my mainstream newspaper thinks so, I am doubly worried. (they reference a BBC investigation by Greg Palast called "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" which sounds worth reading.

There was, of course, the resignation of George Tennet at CIA as well as one of his chief deputies. No comment.

However, the Bush Administration legal officials writing a 3/03 memo that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to us really scares me. (6/8/03 New York Times) Regardless of whether it was used to form policy or not, the idea that we have people in our government who are working hard on lines of argument that get us out of abiding by laws that have universally been considered a standard for civilized government is appalling. Basically, the creation of legal sophistry to protect actions that are morally wrong smacks of what the Nazis did. They had a long legal brief for most of their atrocities. The thing that confuses me is that the position of subjecting people to physical or mental cruelty in order to get their cooperation is not in line with WWJD. And since we have a profoundly "Born Again" leadership, I would think they'd be testing their political actions against their own professed moral standards. But then, they are probably among the class of Christians who have selective liturgy- only using the parts of Gospel and Old Testament that fit their own 'moral' positions. The difference between the Sermon on the Mount and the God who slew thousands of His own people to demonstrate the value of devotion... Well, this leaves me exhausted.

Time to get back to the day of rest. Time to thank God- at least my version of God- for a lovely Sunday.


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