the war on our liberties

poor c.i. immersed in the entry on the church committee yet again tonight. c.i. had five friends read it, 3 who weren't alive at the time and two who lived through it and were targeted. 'what's missing, what's not here?' was the feedback c.i. wanted.

the consensus was it was too factual. 'leave the dry report and offer up more commentary and more examples' was the most repeated suggestion. so c.i.'s reworking the thing and i'm calling every hour to ask how it's going. c.i. will read me a passage and ask, 'can you follow? are you outraged?' and if i'm not outraged or if i can't follow, i'm tempted to say 'sure' just because i know how much work has been put into it. but c.i.'s bullshit detector is too strong for me to get away with that if i wanted to.

i just got off the phone before i logged in here and since the last hour when i'd called, c.i. had scrapped the entire opening and created a new 1. it's more powerful but, as i pointed out, 'you know you are going to have to get some sleep tonight.' last night, working on that entry, resulted in 2 hours of sleep for c.i. i'll point that out when i call back later. c.i. sound exhausted so i'm guessing there will be a point of crashing in a few hours anyway.

let me note that amy goodman and democracy now have gone to qatar to broadcast. i've really enjoyed the last two broadcasts and look forward to more tomorrow. i hope you're watching. (or listening, or reading the transcripts, but i watch it on tv.)

another thing i want to note, that c.i. and elaine have already noted, is that england's passed their milestone of 100 troops killed in iraq. some may look at that figure and think, 'it's not as big as ours!' it's not a competition. this is serious and rallies have already been staged and will continue to be staged. british members of the community will tell you that, for their country, this is similar to our outrage and activism when the united states reached the 2,000 mark.

my sympathies and thoughts are with gareth, polly, pru, james and the other british members of the community as well as with those fighting across the atlantic to stop this illegal war. in the tragic death toll may they find the strength for more activism, more speaking out.

no 1 should have died in this illegal war. after awhile, you start to wonder what it takes to wake up those who live in a self-induced coma? i have no idea. maybe numbers do?

and let me applaud england because their protests have been lively and full from the start. we had a clampdown on ours from some on the left following the 2004 election but, thankfully, many chose to ignore the clampdown in march of 2005 and, thankfully, cindy sheehen showed up in the summer of protest to add new life to the movement.

i'll make mike smile and sleep peaceful tonight by noting 2 headlines from democracy now.

World Can't Wait Protesters Arrested in North Carolina
And in Greensboro, North Carolina, seven protesters are facing charges after being arrested Tuesday night during a State of the Union protest. The protesters reportedly got into an altercation with an undercover police officer who was photographing protesters. The Greensboro demonstration was one of 68 protests held around the country Tuesday night calling on Bush to step down. The main group behind the protests -- World Can't Wait -- is also organizing a protest on Saturday in Washington.

protest saturday in d.c. if you're in the area or can get there. the police sure do love to crack down on peaceful protesters, don't they?

Capitol Police Apologize, Drop Charges Over Sheehan Arrest
One day after Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing an anti-war T-shirt to President Bush's State of The Union address, Capitol police have dropped her charges and apologized. Sheehan, whose son Casey died in combat in Iraq in April 2004, was removed from the House gallery Tuesday night after unveiling a T-shirt that read: "2,245 dead and how many more?" -- a reference to the number of US service members killed in Iraq. In a statement, Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said Sheehan should not have been arrested. President Bush began his speech shortly after she was removed.

after you stop someone's free speech, a lame apology of it shouldn't have happened makes up for nothing. terrance gainer needs to figure out how to prevent it from happening again and that's what the press should be asking him. 'what steps are you taking to protect the free speech of americans?' wait and see if any 1 asks that.

by the way, did you catch entertainment tonight and their story about angelina jolie's 'emotional journey'? oh wait, that wasn't entertainment tonight, that was nightline. it's hard to distinguish between the 2. just like it's hard to think of cynthia mcfadden as a reporter.


'bush commission' by c.i.

i'm late and i've got a houseful of company. it was 1 of those nights where it just seems like every 1 drops by and before you know it, 'i just stopped by for a minute' turns into a party.

i broke away to get something up. if you missed c.i.'s entry on the bush commission, you're in luck because i'm posting it in full here. if you already read it, read it again.

"The Bush Commission Part I:"
When we first got there, the people that we were relieving, they gave us a training. They said that those who were in charge were three spooks. For those of you who don't know what a "spook" is -- a spook is someone who belongs in a highlly specialized unit. Could be CIA, perhaps FBI, civilian contractor, maybe special forces. Nobody knows who they are. They wear no name tags, no unit badges. They're basically untraceable. They go by codenames. The ones we had, for instance, were Rabbit, Scooter, the other one, I think, they called him Artie.
[. . .]
When we were receiving this training we saw that there was this soldier who was yelling at the detainees telling them to stand up and sit down, telling them to turn around, to roll, to get up, to sit down again. And we asked how come these people understood? Because they did not speak English. And they said "Well if you yell at them enough, they're kind of like dogs, you yell at a dog enough, and the dog will get it. And its the same with these people. You just yell at them enough and they'll get the point."

The above is from Camilo E. Mejia's testimony to the Bush Commission conducting. Mejia gave that testimony in October. Huh? The Bush Commission just happened, right? This was the second of three planned hearings. The first was in October. The second was this month. In fact the verdicts for the second hearing will be announced this week: Thursday, February 2nd.

What's the purpose of the Bush Commission? It's a citizen's tribunal much like the World Tribunal on Iraq. It gathers testimony, it raises awareness. It does so without the aid of the press, in case you missed that. The New York Times hasn't been interested in covering the tribunal, but they weren't interested in covering the Bertrand Russell World Crimes Tribunal in 1967. If they had been, Americans would have been less shocked when ugly truths about Vietnam were later revealed.

Camilo Mejia, a name well known in this community, in the first hearings of the Bush Commission underscored this with his own testimony about what he saw in Iraq as well as in detailing his Conscientious Objector application:

In that application I spoke about the abuse of prisoners, I wrote about the abuse of prisoners, and this application was submitted to the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division which was in Ft. Stewart, Georgia. No investigation was conducted at that time. There was no Abu Ghraib scandal back then.

This is an echo of a time before, a time when it was possible to know what was happening but the press wasn't interested. Which is why we need to be interested. But to underscore a point Mejia made, let's note that Congress was aware of what Mejia saw. Their reaction (in the pre-Abu Ghraib days)? They "declined" and and preferred "to wait for the Pentagon to conduct an investigation."

So what do you gain by being aware of the Bush Commission? You gain information, you gaininsight and you raise your own awareness.

You know that Mejia testified, "We started conducting mission in cities. There's no such thing as a trench line in Iraq. This war is being fought in every corner of that country, not in the desert not in the vallies not in the mountains but next to schools, neighborhoods, mosques."

In the most recent set of hearings (January), independent journalist, Dahr Jamail testifited about "War Crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq committed by US forces, acting on orders from their commander-in-chief, George W. Bush."

We'll focus on some of his remarks regarding Falluja because Dexter Filkins may have won an "award" but he seems to have missed everything that happened in his rah-rah reporting (a journalistic war crime).

Jamail: Collective Punishment. I'll use Falluja for the model city for Bush policy in Iraq. The US caused actions to be taken in Falluja in violation of the laws of war. For example,targeting by snipers of children and other civilians, targeting of ambulances, the placement of snipers on the roofs of hospitals and prevention of civilians from getting there for medical attention and also illegal weapons used. Article 48 of the Geeneva Conventions states that the basic rule regarding the protection of the civilian population provides QUOTE "in order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects the party to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives." Article 51 on the protection of the civilian population provides "the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law shall be observed in all circumstances.
It also notes the civilian populations, as such, as well as individual civilians shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited. It also notes indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. It should also be noted that the US military, again following orders from their commander-in-chief, declared the entire city of Falluja, a city with a population of over 350,000 civilians, a "free fire zone" meaning once that operation began in November of '04 anything in the city was to be targeted by the US military. [. . . ] It should also be noted that approximately 70% of the entire city of Falluja was bombed to the ground during the US assault on that city in November of '04 which left dead estimates of between four and six-thousand civilians. Water, food and medical aid were cut off from Falluja both before and during the seige of that city. This form of collective punishment, which I've seen first hand in Ramadi and Sumara as well has even led the UN to declare in October of last year that this was QUOTE "a flagrant violation of international law.

Barbara Olshansky, who testified at the first installment, focused on two areas in her testimony for the second round in January. Speaking of Alberto Gonzales' involvement in devising the torture loophole, she noted that:

What becomes torture in the eyes of the administration, if they follow this memo, is really only that which brings a person to the brink of complete organ failure and/or death. So everything that they know, in their mind that does not accomplish that end, is not torture. So even the water boarding torture technique where people think they are about to drown and it's done repeatedly [isn't torture] because from the point of the view of the intent of the torturer they know they are not about to bring about the immenent death or organ failure of the individual and so therefore it does not constitute torture. That is the understanding of that memorandum.

So are you interested? You should be.

Speaking on the first day of the second rounds of hearings, Michael Ratner addressed Bully Boy's signing statement of the torture amendment:

It makes three points and I'll paraphrase. First, speaking as the president, 'My authority as commander in chief allows me to do whatever I think is necessary in the war on terror including use torture. Second, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by Congress. Third, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by the courts.' There it is. There you have it. That boring stuff I learned, as a junior high school student, about checks and balances or about limited law or about authority under law? Out the window. Gone. In other words, the republic and democracy is over. In Germany, what did they call that? They called that "the fuhrer's law." Why? Because the fuhrer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here.

Interested? Grasping the importance?

The Bush Commission is something that the community's interested in (and something some members have already been following). We're going to cover it it a series of installment. The plan was to do it in one entry but I'm running behind due to depression over Coretta Scott King's passing. So we'll focus on getting a series of entries up to explain the importance of the commission.

by the way, i just got off the phone with c.i. that's how i broke away from the party, c.i. called.
the church committee post is a headache but c.i. is working on it. i suggested 'go to sleep and start it in the morning, you know you always solve problems in dreams.'

which, by the way, is true. in college, when i was having trouble with a creative writing assignment, i told c.i. about it and was asked, in a shocked voice, 'well don't you dream about it?'
when c.i. took the same class at my urging (sorry, many years too late to c.i. for that, aced the class but c.i. loathed the prof), c.i. would look at the assignment before going to bed and dream on it, then quickly dash it off that morning. (again, c.i. aced the class. the prof had a jealousy spat over c.i.'s talent and you wouldn't believe the drama the prof pulled. that's c.i.'s story to tell someday if c.i. chooses. i came in at the end because i visited the prof to find out what the problem was? yes, for any 1 wondering, i did sleep with the prof while i was in his class. so the problem was the prof asked to use an essay c.i. did, without credit, in a novel he was writing. he thought c.i. should be 'flattered.' c.i. said no, as c.i. should have. the prof, still semi-sane at that time, apologized to c.i. when i asked him 'what were you thinking?' a few years later, the prof wigged out completely and lost his job. he no longer teaches at any university and, last anyone heard, was outside a fast food place begging for money. so happy ending! but seriously, my apologies to c.i. many, many years too late. that class became a nightmare. i would tell that story but it's not mine to tell. i will note that people who wrongly think 'oh c.i. is so sweet, must be a pushover' don't know c.i. at all. what any 1 writes - about c.i. - has never been an issue, but if it is something that's matters, that is an issue, c.i. can and will fight to bitter end. as many have learned too late and the hard way.)

so if c.i. hits a wall and happens to read this (or if a member wants to say 'i agree with rebecca, you've got a headache, go to sleep'), really, go to bed and sleep on it. you may not have time in the morning to write it but you know that you'll know how to pull it together when you wake up.

and seriously, again, i am sorry for selling that class so hard as 'fun.' it was fun for me. but i'm not a creative person. after this happened to c.i., i remembered some stuff i looked the other way on when i took the class. like the way he destroyed a student for missing a week of classes.
he screamed at her, when she showed up, to get out. and she did. and after she did, it was pointed out to him that the woman had miscarried and that's why she was out for a week. he said something like 'too bad, she needs to keep up in my class.' then he laughed like it was a joke. he was probably on the verge of losing it then but he still had a moments where you felt like you were seeing a genius at work. (and i did speak to him privately about the woman he screamed at. that's about all i could muster in those days. believe it or not, i used to be really quiet and shy around 'authority figures' - unlike c.i. who would always say 'they don't know everything, don't let them push you around') but the issue, looking back, wasn't that she had missed a week of classes, it was that the class was spellbound whenever she had to read something she wrote to the class. (she's a successful writer today and a good friend. if you want to make her laugh, all you ever have to do is bring up that prof being homeless today. whereas c.i., who could tell horror stories about that prof, will always say 'oh let's talk about something else.' too nice? yes. pushover? no.)


mrs. king

Coretta Scott King, 79, Dies
In Georgia, Coretta Scott King - the widow of Martin Luther King Junior - has died at the age of 79. She had spent her life fighting for civil rights and preserving her late husband's legacy. In April of 1968 she led a march through Memphis just days after Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Later that year she led the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. She continued working for equality, peace and economic justice for the remainder of her life, both in the United States and abroad.

is bully boy even speaking right now? i have no idea. that news was like a punch to the gut.

i sit down with my coffee and turn on democracy now and there it is.

i've felt numb ever since.

i put on otis for a few moments but ended up turning off the stereo and spent most of the day in silence.

i'd planned to take care of several things today but i just ended up sitting on the sofa and at some point, it was pointed out to me that it was nighfall and that i was sitting in the dark.

shortly after that, the phone rang. it had rung all day apparently.

i was really out of it.

but it was betty and my reaction is nothing compared to her's. coretta scott king was probably betty's greatest hero outside of her own family. by the way, big thank you to betty for blogging here on friday. she did an excellent job.

she was planning to post and had 2 different views on it. 1 was coretta scott king carried on so she should blog. the other was that she wasn't in the mood to be funny.

i asked her what she really wanted to do and she said she really felt like crawling under the covers as soon as she got her kids to bed. i think that's what she should do.

i'm wiped out by the loss and betty's torn apart by it. betty said c.i. told her the same thing and said 'i'd be going to bed right away too if i hadn't posted that i'd be doing the bush commission post.' i really think that's the smartest thing to do (and wish c.i. would but doubt that will be the case).

'partners in marriage' is the jargon we like to bandy about now days. but the fact is coretta scott king was a partner in mlk's work. she was involved in the fight for equality before she met mlk and she continued to fight after he passed. they both believed in equality and they both fought for it. she continued the work and . . . what do you say?

classy woman, strong fighter, trail blazer and inspiration. rest peacefully mrs. king.


dear katrina

dear katrina,
what should i write about tonight?
i see you handed out home work sunday night.
well i don't blog on sundays.
where's the assignment for monday?
let me know what to do, will you?
rebecca winters.

i asked c.i. before i wrote about this. i had 2 things that really bothered me. katrina vanden heuvel's sunday night column and naral. c.i. said the common ills was late in going up with the democracy now post because there were 6 paragraphs on this that c.i. finally deleted. c.i. likes katrina, i do as well. c.i.'s comment, for the record, was 'any 1 can make a really bad mistake and, in retrospect, i think she'd agree that was a really bad mistake.'

so katrina made a really bad mistake. c.i. gave me a piece of advice that i did follow, 'becky, take a nap before you write anything. we're all upset about the senate, if you're going to write about this, make sure you're writing about this and not using kvh to get back at the lazy senate.'

so i did. i put on otis, billie holiday and eartha kitt and took a long, long, long nap while they sang lullabyes to me.

i'm calmer.

so here are my problems with katrina's column.

where's alito?

you suggest 4 topics. the day before the vote in the senate.

in fact, where is anything you've written on abortion?

(no, the piece that got you an award from planned parenthood in the 80s doesn't count. i mean in terms of alito. a piece where you focused on abortion for the entire piece.)

not where was katha's? katha was there. katha's always there. katha can be counted on.

have i missed my checks from the nation?

no 1 needs a check less than me, so that's not a plea for money. i'm not hurting, i'm never going to be hurting. (that said, don't hit me up for money, not after that post.) but did you mistake the bloggers for your paid staff who work under you?

i don't work for you. i'll write about whatever i want.

i thought you were a free speech advocate. i assumed, when i heard of your assistant trashing alexander cockburn, that you were okay with that on the basis of 'free speech.'

when your assistant stopped whining semi-privately and took a public shot at cockburn, there was not a word from you on the matter.

if you're going to call out an entire portion of the web on what they say, where's your post calling out your assistant?

do you think your magazine has done anything to promote blogs?

are there any women even listed at the puny resource the magazine's website offers?

it's not just women who aren't listed. bill scher, whom you know from the majority report, can't even catch a break. now you'll link to pretend bloggers like the gawker and wonkette, but for the 'nobody owns the nation' there's no real effort to support any independent blogs. it's almost as bad as cjr daily.

(and wonkette didn't count. she never counted because 'she' didn't run the site.)

having done nothing for blogs, why do you think any blogger should care what you think of their focus?

yes, let's do get real here.

you write: 'let's get real here. 1. it doesn't really matter who gives the reply, since no one listens and it's an impossible task. 2. this is slightly less important than whether house minority leader nancy pelosi chooses to wear blue or red to listen to the speech. . . .'

in terms of #2, that would be your magazine that focuses on what women wear. specificially on geena davis, in that moronic show, and her lipstick color.

in terms of #1, if that's true, why did you even waste your time on the topic to begin with?

who is tim kaine that he can rouse you enough to write a sunday blog? katrina, you write sunday entries about as often as i do. and any 1 who doesn't write on sunday that decided to write, i would assume, would be weighing in on the issue of abortion since the alito vote was taking place monday. but you didn't write about alito.

so do i need to worry? are you the new gatekeeper? cokie got a little long on the tooth and now the keys to the gate will be handed to you?


i've noted already that this hasn't been an issue you've chosen to write about at length. i've noted that in the 80s, you were happy to have an award from planned parenthood. you want to talk about tim kaine but what about where he fits in, something you don't bother to address.

before media matters has a heart attack, tim kaine is for legal abortion. he just feels the need to speak of his faith-based opposition to it. so it fits in with the party's overall stepping away from strong support for reproductive rights. just like running little casey junior for the senate, just like making harry reid the minority leader in the senate.

let's remember kaine's 1 of the people who thinks 'just say no to sex, kids' is a workable program, 1 that deserves funding. now last time i checked, katha and patricia could call that for what it is: bullshit.

but we're supposed to take comfort, according to you, in the fact that he's 'a proponent of racial justice.' a proponet! what a brave stand. if this were the 50s. i don't think that even rates a mention today, quite frankly. that, to me, is akin to writing 'and he believes in oxygen and breathing!' i kind of expect that any elected leader in the democratic party, would support racial justice at this late date.

you also point out that republicans, when he was running for governor, called him "the most liberal candidate who's ever run for governor in the commonwealth of virginia's history." yeah, and they also call hillary clinton a liberal. doesn't make it so. since when are smear cries from the opposition supposed to pass for facts? and since when does the nation make their arguments based on political attacks from republicans?

tim kaine is a bad speaker.

that was arianna's beef with him. i didn't write about him. i had things more important to me to focus on. that was alito and abortion. that's not putting down any blogger who chose to write about him. as c.i. says over and over, people should write about whatever they want. why? because that's being true and that's being independent.

considering that the nation promotes it's slogan of 'nobody owns the nation' i'm confused as to why you think you own or can direct what bloggers write about.

since you've made tim kaine an issue, here's my 2 cents. he has no chin. the man has no chin. he's not telegenic, he can't speak, so why was he chosen?

you offer nonsense about it's an off-year election and blah blah blah states need to put forward this and that and we need to have this in place and blah blah blah. this really is the most boring part of your post. you start off like ann coulter tossing a bomb at the left and then you seem to lose your train of thought.

but you said it doesn't matter who delivers the speech. maybe you should have stopped your post there?

i'll write about whatever i want to write about. i haven't needed your suggestions and, lord knows, i haven't had any support from the nation. they've never sent me a check, nor have they ever linked to me. i've made it on my own by being part of an independent community and by speaking my own mind.

you haven't been there for the blogs and now you want to show up and tell every blogger on the left what we should and shouldn't write about?

c.i. thinks you realize the post was a mistake. i hope you do.

it was a huge mistake.

bloggers do not exist for you to harness them. they do not await your direction or your orders. you promoted some conference the week before last. as laura flanders pointed out, women were hardly represented at that conference. did i miss your post on that?

i don't think i did. i don't think you said 1 word to criticize the conference. laura flanders did.

now you usually go for that inspiring talk so it didn't surprise me that you would write a 'the glass is half full' type post. but if your new role, as you see it, is calling out and providing direction, why don't you start with that conference?

or is that a problem? is it a problem for you to address any issue that effects women because, as a female editor, you don't want to be seen as a 'female editor'? if that's the case, let me break it to you bluntly, you still have to sit down to pee. you're still like every other woman whether you want to play the asexual card or not.

i hope this is not true of you, but there are a number of women who break that glass ceiling and immediately turn their backs on women. 'i can't do that, i can't write that, i'm' whatever position they have reached 'now and i have to write for every 1.' which usually means they write for men. they'll turn in some dopey nascar piece or some other crap and they'll maintain that it's gender neutral while never being there for women.

it doesn't cut it.

i hope that's not where you're coming from.

i wasn't able to work with the third estate sunday review this weekend but they made a good point (was that what so enraged you) which was if the party had any guts, they'd have al gore deliver the rebuttal to the state of the union. here's what they wrote:

If the Democrats had any guts, they'd have Al Gore deliver the rebuttal to the State of the Union speech Tuesday. But instead they're still stuck in the myth that "values voters" decided the election (and loathe to address the realities of the Ohio vote). The fact of the matter is that the votes (counted) didn't provide Bully Boy with a "mandate" (unless, possibly, Bully Boy meant some evening plans he had with Jeff Gannon).

i don't see tim kaine's name mentioned in it. that's the most any 1 in this community has written about the rebuttal to the state of the union. i'd guess, i could be wrong, that's pretty much true of the left bloggers because tim kaine's not really an issue to the left. now democratic bloggers (not bloggers who are democrats, but bloggers who blog from a democratic perspective) probably have written more. but some of us on the left had other things to focus on.