by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
July 23, 2004
AT WAR WITH SUMMER
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Honeysuckle, climbing roses, day lilies, bee balm, lavender, flowering clematis, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, pansies and petunias.
Nine hundred Americans now dead in Iraq.
And so it goes, in this summer of my mad discontent. The flowers are gorgeous. The greenery couldn't be lusher. The weather couldn't be more perfect (although we could do with a bit less rain). The news couldn't be worse. There is a war going on in my head between the joys of a perfect summer in Windham County and the world.
President George W. Bush believes God wants him to be president of the United States. He is a madman. Many are still afraid to say so. Yet many others believe him.
Tiger lilies - raucous short-lived fragile orange flowers surrounded by great green skirts of leaves - have turned out to be the wildflowers of Windham County. They are everywhere, beautiful in their hundreds, standing straight up and drinking in the sun wherever our dirt roads lead us.
At an ACLU event, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh reveals that our government is frantically suppressing videos of American soldiers raping young boys at Abu Ghraib - the screams are the hardest part of watching, he says.
Art is everywhere this summer. In one magical weekend recently, I went to three art shows in three different towns. I enjoyed the work of over 45 artists. Many of the pieces made me rue the fact that I'm flat out of wall space. How magical to live in a place where so many artists choose to live.
The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia's leading newspapers, reports that one week before the "hand-over" of Iraq, now-Prime Minister Iyad Allawi visited a Baghdad police station, encountered seven suspected insurgents lined up against a wall, drew his gun, and shot them all. Six died. [Ed.: The American Reporter has not independently confirmed the Morning Herald's claim, and it has not been reported elsewhere.] We have turned Iraq over to another strongman. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
According to data taken from the 2000 census, Vermont ranks seventh in the nation in the total number of artists living - and earning a living - in the state. We are fourth for fine artists. We lead the nation in the number of writers and authors who make their homes here. Last week in Putney, I heard poet Veranda Porche and some of her friends read their work. Veranda sang a song about letting her daughter go exploring in this dangerous world. It's power sent chills up my spine.
President Bush goes around the country repeating the Republican mantras, "America is safer now" and "The world is now more peaceful," while thousands cheer. Yet Iraq is inflamed, new terrorists are being minted at almost every corner of the globe, America is regarded as a rogue nation by the rest of the world, and our own Department of Homeland Security is issuing new warnings virtually every week.
Last week-end I visited with some of my cousins in a beautifully restored 1820s home in upstate New York. I didn't know two of them very well, but the time we spent together was seamless, as if we'd been best friends all our lives. We spent two days talking, swimming, walking, cooking and drinking shots of iced Stoli. We never once mentioned politics. We saw a bobcat at the tree line. The power and importance of blood, of family, has never been clearer to me.
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" shows the vapidity, cupidity and stupidity of our leaders. Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed" shows how Fox News buttresses their evil actions. I was raised to believe in common courtesy. Watching President Bush lie and Bill O'Reilly ridicule, censor and shout at his guests disgusted me so much that I had to leave.
On the positive side, Moore is making millions because people are flocking to hear the truth. Greenwald couldn't get his film into theaters, so he arranged for it to be shown at house parties across the country before releasing it on DVD. At the party I attended, 130 people showed up.
The Bush Administration floats a trial balloon: can it "suspend" the elections if there is a "terrorist attack"? I put those words in quotes because I believe the Republicans will do anything and say anything to keep their power. I believe they might very well "suspend" democracy.
A few weeks ago, while walking near the campus of World Learning, I saw a moose.
The Democrats have nominated an uncreative man, Sen. John Kerry, to challenge the President. It is hard to find the enthusiasm to support him, yet he is the one thing standing between sanity and four more years.
Still, Garrison Keillor writes, "This is Democratic bedrock: we don't let people lie in the ditch and drive past and pretend not to see them dying... Everybody knows this. The logical extension of this spirit is social welfare and the myriad government programs with long dry names all very uninteresting to you until you suddenly need one and then you turn into a Democrat. A liberal is a conservative who's been through treatment."
Honeysuckle, climbing roses, day lilies, bee balm, lavender, flowering clematis, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, pansies and petunias.
Nine hundred Americans now dead in Iraq.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.