Saturday, November 26, 2005

Too long on a variety of topics

No, I didn't post yesterday. That was for a number of reasons.

1) Rebecca was very busy Friday and had already asked if I'd be posting something other than the headlines we all worked on Friday (which I'll include later in this post). She had no time to post anything but was making time to get that up at her site.

2) People are knocking themselves out in this community to get things up at their sites. That's one reason C.I. and I proposed that we all work on headlines so that everyone would have an entry they could post. Betty, to give one example, is beating herself up because she was still editing when she finally posted her Wednesday entry and she used the wrong tense of a verb due to changing the sentence at the last minute and not reading over it. She hates the entry she wrote, though everyone I've spoken to loves it, and she's someone I see as under pressure. I spoke about this while we were all on the phone together Friday. I decided to put my words into action.

3) We all love The Common Ills and C.I. can make it look so easy. That's partly because C.I. will toss out sleep. C.I.'s always been an insomiac and is used to doing without sleep. The standards set at The Common Ills are high ones and people try their best to match those standards. I know Cedric does not have the time he's making for his site. Forget burnout, though that is always a danger, people need to take time for themselves. I stressed that repeatedly on the phone. (C.I. backed me up with talk of the creative well running dry if you didn't refill it.)

4) There are few Saturday entries from this community. There are times when Kat and C.I. are the only ones posting anything on Saturday. That's partly due to the fact that we work hard and long on The Third Estate Sunday Review. But it's also true that a lot of people have already put in all the time they have at their sites already. To use Cedric again, he's working full time, he's very active in his church and he also . . . I was going to say "does volunteer work" but what started as volunteer work (visiting some older members of his church) is not "work" to him. He really enjoys visiting with Three Cool Old Guys. Add in the fact that he's attempting to have a dating life and Cedric's an example of someone who's giving all he has and then some.

5) I am with a friend for the holidays (C.I.) and to break away to post last night instead of enjoying time catching up and having fun would go against everything I was speaking of on the phone yesterday.

6) This is an explanation, it's not an apology. There's a lot of apologizing going up at other sites (and I've done it as well). Kat's motto ("It is what it is") should be embraced. With everyone attempting to find time to post, there's not also time for guilt trips. There are ten sites in this community. If you don't find new content (or content new to you) at one, you should check out another a site. (As well as check out non-community sites that are permalinks.) Seth's gone through a very busy patch and he posted this week. He took the time to do an apology. I honestly wish he wouldn't have done that. I read it and felt like he was beating himself up. He obviously wishes he had time to blog more. There's no need for him to beat himself up. Just accept that you're not ever going to be able to do all the things you should do and when you are able to post, talk about whatever it is that you want to talk about.

7) Which is an issue because a lot of people feel that they don't have five days worth of commentary. They feel that, for instance, Rebecca's already covered what they might have said.
Professional op-ed writers usually do two columns a week tops. They also, or some of them, take lengthy vacations. C.I. brought up that issue as well to reassure people that if they didn't feel they had anything to add, they didn't have to post something.

8) I'm lucky. When I filled in for Rebecca, I didn't know what I was doing. C.I. talked me through my first post and one thing I wanted was a "structure." I have that here for most posts. I note some news items, add a sentence or paragraph of commentary, end with a peace quote. My structure is very similar to Mike's (who also was a big help, everyone was, but I did rely repeatedly on C.I. and Mike to talk me through while posting). What Kat or Cedric do is much different than what I do. They write about topics that have happened to them and that means figuring out what you want to say as well as how you want to say it. Kat's gotten some e-mails complaining about her lack of album reviews. One month she only contributed one album review. (After the complaining e-mails, she made the decision to only do one for November because no one shames Kat and good for her.)

Kat's creating with those reviews. She's not writing, "The first track is . . . The second track is . . ." Nor is she doing a paragraph review which has become so popular in too many publications. There is a lot of thought going into her reviews and a lot of creating. People wanted her to do her own site and she has done that. To expect that she will be able to do her own site and also write several CD reviews a month is expecting a lot.

9) Betty breaks my heart with the creative struggle she goes through with each chapter at her site. Add in that she's gone from being irritated at Thomas Friedman's columns to being outraged by them to the point that she can't read one in a single sitting and there's a lot of pressure on her. She really doesn't need the outside pressure of "Thomas Friedman writes two columns a week and you're only writing one chapter a week."

The story of Betinna is one, that as Thomas Friedman has become more vicious in his columns, Betty's been tempted to rush through. She has that plotted out. But when his vicious slams outrage her, she has to check her own response and remember where Betinna is in the story.

She's doing all of that while working a full time job and parenting her children. She doesn't need any more pressure.

Like Ava and C.I., she's very tough on her on her own work. But where Ava and C.I. will trash one of their reviews, if it's brought up, they don't give it any thought unless someone brings it up.

I did a test yesterday with Ava and C.I. separately. Jim didn't think it would turn out the way it did. I wasn't surprised. I pulled quotes from three of their reviews and read the quotes to them separately. I presented it as something amusing I'd read that I wanted to share. They laughed with me when I read them. They both were surprised to learn it was from their reviews.

They both immediately said, "Oh well Ava/C.I. must have written that." They truly don't know their reviews. (And are quick to credit the other with any praise that resulted from their joint efforts.) They know the points they make. But if you read just a section of their reviews to them, they wouldn't recognize it if it was a small section.

That's because they write them, under intense pressure, and are done with them. They don't go back and reread them. Betty does go back and reread her chapters. After she does that, she's full of criticism about how she might have worded something differently. When there's a repost at The Third Estate Sunday Review, she'll usually ask for at least two or three changes. Last week, they wanted to post her latest but she said she didn't have it in her to make the changes needed.

She also has e-mails asking her to critique the columns themselves. If you're missing the fact that the columns themselves are critiqued, you're only reading them on the most literal level.
But she's getting a number of e-mails about that and often ones pointing out that since the Times moved to premium content, she's now one of the few people regularly covering Thomas Friedman. Hear me on this, she doesn't need any additional pressure.

Ava and C.I. don't do that and that's why despite the pressures they have doing those TV reviews, they're able to take the pressure while writing and then leave it behind. They walk away from those reviews after they're written.

"Prison Break Tease" has resulted in the largest outpouring of e-mails to The Third Estate Sunday Review. A large number have been the usual praise that their reviews rightly deserve. But it's also resulted in a large number of ignorant e-mails. I don't mean people who disagree which is fine with either them. Their reviews are opinion pieces. People are free to disagree. But a large number of e-mailers are unable to digest what's in the review.

A swarm of e-mails have come in saying, "You said Prison Break would be cancelled and it's a hit!" They never wrote that. They said it teased the audience and if didn't start becoming more forthcoming, it was in danger of losing the audience that had tuned in for the premiere. They also noted that a friend with the show had told them that episode four gets the plot moving.

As two people repeatedly felt the need to, repeatedly, write, in one week, with false claims about what the review stated, Ty got upset and wrote back suggesting that they read the review a little more closely. It was a nice e-mail (we've all seen it except for Ava and C.I.). That only enraged the two more. So Jess, Ty, Dona and Jim composed a joint e-mail. Again, no luck. Then Dona had finally had it (as comments came indicating that Ava and C.I. would be stalked and hunted) and fired off an angry e-mail telling them exactly where they could go. That stopped those two but the e-mails that come in disagreeing are sometimes very violent with crude, vulgar threats about what would be done to Ava and C.I.

Their attitude for some time, Ava and C.I.'s, has been that they're too busy to read the e-mails. Good or bad comments, they don't have the time to read. Jess will sometimes summarize the ones with nonthreatening (negative) critiques and the ones agreeing (with the reviews) but they don't have the time to read the e-mails and, after their reviews are posted, they are done with them.

Betty's now starting to get similar hate e-mails. Along with the usual threats are racist remarks. I told Betty stop reading the e-mails. All the e-mails, stop reading them. It's upsetting her too much. Ava was once freaked out by an e-mail from someone claiming to be stalking Ava and C.I. because it mentioned a blouse or sweater that she did in fact own. After that, Ava decided she didn't need the grief from reading the threatening e-mails.

Betty's computer time is usually late at night, when she's put the kids to bed. Nonsense about knowing where she lives joined with threats of what you are going to do to her are twice as scary late at night. She has to worry about not only herself, but her children as well.

So I suggested to Betty that she not read her e-mails for the rest of the year. If someone's got a question for her that needs answering and they don't receive a reply, too bad. She was concerned about ignoring an e-mail from a community member. If you're a member and you have something you need to say to Betty, please do it through the gina & krista round-robin. Gina and Krista have a letters section to their round-robin and they say they're happy to print anything from a member and that if it requires a comment from Betty, they'll call her and get a comment.

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times felt he got a threatening e-mail when a person stated that he hoped one of Nagrouney's children died in a (future) war. That's not a threatening e-mail. If that appeared threatening to Nagourney, he's never gotten a threatening e-mail. It wasn't a kind statement to make, but it wasn't threatening.

The threatening ones to Betty have now gone beyond threatening her with physical harm and now include her children. Those are threatening e-mails with specific threats and they need to stop. Because they haven't, Betty is under no obligation to read her e-mails or even check her account. So if someone who's been writing those e-mails stumbles across this post (especially the asshole with the hunting knife he's named "Pete"), you're not being read. No one cares to read you.

10) Due to all the above, I've asked everyone to try to find a way to reduce some of the pressures that they have placed upon themselves. That includes Wally who always intended to write a line or two only and was striving for five days a week tops but is now putting pressure on himself to do more than that. The Daily Jot is just fine as it was intended to be originally.

I had a lot of fun with a friend yesterday. I won't apologize for that and encourage others not to as well. That's not to discredit the importance of any reader I may have (I have readers, The Common Ills has members). It is what it is (Kat's motto). I hope anyone visiting can embrace that; however, if you can't, then you probably shouldn't be reading anything at my site to begin with.

One of the pressures has been with tagging posts and, especially, with the time put into attempting to make sure they are read. C.I. did multiple tags in an entry this morning and I did ask, "What did you write yesterday?" C.I.'s feelings were that a note re: Scott Shane was attached to the bottom and although it's going to be included in an earlier post, it should be tagged in this one. Which led C.I. to also tagging for the sites in the community. I can support tagging for the community (and will do so here, it's really easy, I just grab the tags from a post by Kat or Rebecca).

But everyone's under enough pressures without adding to them. To carry this a step forward, that means you as you read. We all make mistakes. Learning from them is wonderful and something to strive for. Obsessing over them is pointless. So, since holidays are always a tense time, if something happened this week that you realize was a mistake on your part, figure out a way to make ammends and a constructive way to respond next time. After all, it's not as though you've launched an illegal war that's taken the lives of countless people from various countries.

(If Bully Boy is one of my readers, I am shocked. But contact me, Bully Boy, I'll set up some therapy sessions for you and we'll see if we can't get to the bottom of your bellicose manner.)

On the topic of therapy, the New York Times has a front page article by Benedict Carey entitled "The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost." The article is, obviously, attempting to measure the "psychological" cost. "Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist" is quoted and I'm troubled by his quote and the reliance upon him to represent the therapuetic community. He is not the only medical professional quoted, but he is the one the article leads with and the one they relay on for the first ten paragraphs.

"You have to help them reconstruct the things they used to believe in that don't make sense anymore, like the basic goodness of humanity."

That's a statement from Nash. While I myself believe in "the basic goodness of humanity," it is not my job to convince any patient of that belief, whether they once believed in it or not. Troops seeking counseling are trying to make sense of their experiences (usually traumatic). This can be a transformative moment for them. It's not my job (or right) to set out to return them to a belief they once held. It is my job to aid them.

His statements (combined) strike me as simplistic and the sort of thing one might have found much earlier in this country from proponents of "the sleep cure." Perhaps Nash is attempting to state that he assists them in reconstructing the past so that they can reconcile the past with their new experiences? That's not how his statements read in total.

It's not the job of a therapist to "return" someone to where they were. A grieving parent, to use an example, does not need to return to a happier time. He or she needs to process the loss and to reach conclusions about their current status. Such a parent certainly doesn't need me aiding them to see "the basic goodness in humanity." Again, I believe in such goodness, but that is my belief and it's really not pertinent to their therapy.

Whether Nash is advocating a quick fix or not, that is how it comes off in this article. To expect that a quick fix can be given to a trauma and that the patient can then be sent back into life as they were "before" is a denial of therapy as it is understood today.

In previous eras, shock therapy, lobotomies and other "cures" promised quick fixes and the returning to "normal." A trauma, by it's very definition, is not something that leaves you. To imply otherwise is to reject the very nature of therapy. You can be assisted in dealing with a trauma but ask any parent who's lost a child, to stay with that theme, and they will tell you that, no, they have not gotten "over" it.

At another point, another military therapist offers that, "The idea is simple. You have a lot more credibility if you've been there, and soldiers and marines are more likely to talk to you."
Some. Some are. However, some will seek out therapists who have not been there because they complain of their issues being dismissed for whatever reason. I would agree that the it's more likely that a majority are more comfortable discussing a trauma that occurred while serving with someone who has served; however, a significant minority would feel exactly the opposite.

There is a conclusion implied by the article, in my opinion, that "everything's okay and it's all being dealt with now." I'm not seeing anything to support that in the article other than some good p.r. Since the issue of violence towards others and suicide is mentioned, I am very curious as to what is being done for the family members?

Has the military improved the resources available to family members? It needs to. People who go to war and come back transformed effects the families involved.

The best section of the article, in my opinion, is the following:

Yet for returning service members, experts say, the question of whether their difficulties are ultimately diagnosed as mental illness may depend not only on the mental health services available, but also on the politics of military psychiatry itself, the definition of what a normal reaction to combat is and the story the nation tells itself about the purpose and value of the soliders' service.

That is a large issue and beyond the scope of the article. What is not beyond the scope of the article is interviewing therapists beyond the military establishment. C.I. wrote an entry this morning that dealt with the Times' issues of "balance." (Great entry, read it if you haven't.)
As a therapist myself, I would have been very interested in reading some evaluation or critique of the military therapy from outside the official voices and from outside the military.

A very long entry at a time when I'm suggesting everyone give themselves time to breathe. So I'll slap my own wrist and work towards my own goals in the next entry. I'll also thank C.I. and others present for listening to various paragraphs to make sure this post has some clarity.

Now here are the headlines we all worked on yesterday:

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , , , , , the , the , and other topics.

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):
Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.
Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justiceis issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! ( as we call for:
USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests;
Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.
Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 hailed in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.

Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the front page report, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genunie.

But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that she felt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags.


No peace quote today. I'll close with Mike's new motto:

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.