Friday, February 17, 2006

"I can make peace on earth with my own two hands"

Friday evening, finally. I wasn't sure by mid-day if it would ever get here. Before noting anything in the news, I want to suggest a CD. You'll laugh, but it's the Curious George soundtrack (subtitled Sing-A-Long and Lullabies for the film Curious George) and it's credited to Jack Johnson and Friends. If you're lucky, you can find it on sale. (Kat tipped me off to that on the phone today, thank you Kat.) I ended up getting mine on sale for $9.99. I am a Jack Johnson fan and wasn't aware, until I posted that, how hated he was by the right wing. I didn't see him as very political. I just enjoyed his voice and his guitar. But I got about six e-mails bashing Johnson and bashing me. Johnson's just another "hippie" ran the e-mails.

I know nothing about Johnson. But if he is a hippie, what's wrong with that? The world could use a lot more hippies and a lot less bullies. (I'd suggest you listen to Ben Harper's "With My Own Two Hands" on the CD, by the way.) But it's a nice album and I put it on as soon as I walked through the door. Well, as soon as I got the plastic wrapping and the plastic title sticker off. In some countries, not only do they not use that plastic title sticker, they don't shrink wrap. Here's another thought on wasting, if they stood the CDs up on their sides, they wouldn't know the plastic title stickers since the label is on the side. If the cover being sideways bothered them, they could flip the cover. I hate the wrappings on the CDs and on DVDs. I can never get all three of those title stickers off of plastic encased box (as opposed to the cardboard ones) without scratching up the plastic. Seems like we're wasting quite a lot and in some countries, such as England, they don't do that.

So that's my environmental gripe tonight. Seriously, think how much plastic is wasted each year.

"Kofi Annan Calls for U.S. To Close Guantanamo" (Democracy Now!):
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan is urging the United States to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp "as soon as is possible." His comments came in response to a new report by UN investigators calling for U.S. to close the camp. Kofi Annan said the Bush administration could not hold hundreds of prisoners in jail without charges in perpetuity. "Charges have to be brought against them, and (they) be given a chance to explain themselves, and prosecuted, charged, or released, I think is something that is, common under any legal system," Annan said. "And I think sooner or later, there will be a need to close the Guantanamo and I think, it will be up to the government to decide, hopefully to do it as soon as is possible." White House spokesperson Scott McClellan dismissed the new UN report. "The United Nations should be making serious investigations across the world, and there are many instances when they do, when it comes to human rights. This was not one of them," said McClellan. "And I think it's a discredit to the U.N. when a team like this goes about rushing to report something when they haven't even looked into the facts. All they have done is look at the allegations."

This follows the call by UN investigators to close Guantanamo. If you missed that, Rebecca noted the headline on it from Democracy Now! yesterday and also gave her thoughts on that. Thank you, by the way, to Rebecca for that. That was and is an important story to me and I didn't see how I'd be able to blog on it last night -- so I phoned Rebecca and asked her if she could catch it? She was kind enough to do so.

"cowboy junkies and guantanamo prisoners" (Rebecca, Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude):
this is something you'll have to answer for. children in a generation or 2 will ask you, 'how were you able to just stay silent and look the other way?' so if that's your plan to keep on ignoring this, you might use that looking away time to come up with a good excuse. this is a sad thing, this is a tragedy.

It is a tragedy for everyone. But for the medical profession, it's much worse than a tragedy.

"Professor McCoy Exposes the History of CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror" (Democracy Now!):
ALFRED McCOY: Now, another thing we see is those photographs is the psychological techniques, but the initial research basically developed techniques for attacking universal human sensory receptors: sight, sound, heat, cold, sense of time. That's why all of the detainees describe being put in dark rooms, being subjected to strobe lights, loud music, okay? That’s sensory deprivation or sensory assault. Okay, that was sort of the phase one of the C.I.A. research. But the paradigm has proved to be quite adaptable.
Now, one of the things that Donald Rumsfeld did, right at the start of the war of terror, in late 2002, he appointed General Geoffrey Miller to be chief at Guantanamo, alright, because the previous commanders at Guantanamo were too soft on the detainees, and General Miller turned Guantanamo into a de facto behavioral research laboratory, a kind of torture research laboratory. And under General Miller at Guantanamo, they perfected the C.I.A. torture paradigm. They added two key techniques. They went beyond the universal sensory receptors of the original research. They added to it an attack on cultural sensitivity, particularly Arab male sensitivity to issues of gender and sexual identity.
And then they went further still. Under General Miller, they created these things called "Biscuit" teams, behavioral science consultation teams, and they actually had qualified military psychologists participating in the ongoing interrogation, and these psychologists would identify individual phobias, like fear of dark or attachment to mother, and by the time we're done, by 2003, under General Miller, Guantanamo had perfected the C.I.A. paradigm, and it had a three-fold total assault on the human psyche: sensory receptors, self-inflicted pain, cultural sensitivity, and individual fears and phobia.

That's not healing, that's being a tool of torture and people can kid and claim they're serving some larger purpose; however, you are serving the patient, that's the subject of the oath you take. For medical professions, this is worse than a tragedy, it's a travesty and it's unethical.

"Senate Republicans Block Investigation Into NSA Spying" (Democracy Now!):
This update on the controversy over President Bush's warrant-less domestic spying program - on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have blocked a proposed investigation into the operation. On Thursday, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Intelligence Committee said, his panel decided not to conduct an investigation. Roberts said he reached an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The ranking Democrat on the committee -- Sen. John Rockefeller -- said "Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee once again abdicated its responsibility to oversee the intelligence activities of the United States."

On this topic, Mike asked if I'd read C.I.'s "NYT: The paper, like the Congress, can't wait to wear the 'Kick Me!' sign" and I had. In fact, that might have been what got my morning off to such an awful start. That's not a complaint about C.I., that is a complaint about a Congress that wants to avoid doing it's job.

To answer a question, it was white carpet. I'm not sure if I wrote about the man who spilled a glass of red wine on my brand new white wall-to-wall carpet here or if I wrote about it while filling in for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Claude e-mailed about C.I.'s
"And the war goes on . . . (Indymedia Roundup" where C.I. mentioned that last night. Claude also points out that I don't have a link in that entry. First off, I think all community members know who I am. (Long before I filled in for Rebecca, I shared comments and excerpts at The Common Ills the way all members do.) Second of all, that entry was a nightmare. I called C.I. after it went up, I hadn't read it and wasn't calling about it, just checking in. There have been problems all week. C.I. can't log into the Blogger/Blogspot program half the time and, when in it, the "Compose" feature that you use to write your entry doesn't work. C.I.'s only been able to get things up by either dictating entries all week or using a "backdoor" solution that the UK Computer Gurus came up with. C.I. was using the backdoor solution last night and it was nonstop problems. I doubt C.I. knows that there is no link to my site because everything else was a headache. But it doesn't matter because members knew C.I. was speaking about me, Claude. It's a great entry and I'd suggest everyone read it.

Also please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on today's news. Visit Cedric's Big Mix to read "You drop the Trash at the curb and let it go." Another suggestion would be to read Joan Mellen's "HOW THE FAILURE TO IDENTIFY, PROSECUTE AND CONVICT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S ASSASSINS HAS LED TO TODAY'S CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY." You could follow that with a trip to The Daily Jot and let Wally's humor put you in a good frame of mind.

"Peace Quote" ("With My Own Two Hands" written by Ben Harper):
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Youth is the first victim of war"

Late posting. Mike and I were on the phone forever and I took a break to call Rebecca, then called Mike back. He's very upset about something and he'll probably write about it tomorrow. I think most of the community is aware of it because I've even got e-mails on it in my inbox. My feelings? When someone can learn the difference between free speech and military recruiters on campus, I may worry about what they think. However, until they can grasp the very clear difference between the two, I won't reward their attention-seeking behaviors.

"Report: Cheney Withheld News of Whittington's Heart Condition" (Democracy Now!):
Cheney is again being accused of withholding information on Whittington's condition. Over the weekend, the White House waited at least 19 hours before announcing the shooting. Today, the New York Times is reporting Cheney was informed of Whittington's heart condition when he arrived at the White House Tuesday morning. But according to senior administration officials, Cheney did not pass the information on to President Bush's aides, including White House Press secretary Scott McLellan. At a press conference later in the day, McLellan did not mention Whittington's heart problems and even joked he was wearing an orange tie so he could be clearly visible in front of Cheney.

Let's break it down. A shooting. Accident or not, it's news. When the shooter is the vice-president, it's international news. When the method sought by the administration is to avoid answering the questions, it's news. You may not like it, but it is news.

Cheney shot a man. It's news. Questions need to be answered.

"5 'Raging Grannies' Arrested at Anti-War Protest Near DC" (Democracy Now!):
And just outside of Washington, DC, five women with the anti-war group the Raging Grannies were arrested Tuesday at a protest outside a military recruitment office. The women were arrested after announcing they intended to enlist. They chanted: "if someone must die in Iraq, let it be the old." They were later released without charge. The protest was one of several held across the country Tuesday, including in Florida, California, and New York.

People are still protesting. You won't read about it in the New York Times but the summer of protest drew a lot of attention and we'll only get more active. There's a lot of work to be done if we're going to bring the troops home and I applaud Raging Grannies for their efforts.

Due to the attention-seeking behavior of someone, I've spent most of the night on the phone with Mike and am pretty much wiped out. But something that I hope you're all interested in follows.

"Kevin Benderman Parole Request" (Kevin Benderman, Kevin Benderman Defense Committee):
I am respectfully requesting early release, by way of parole or reduction of sentence to time served.
In a different type of service, I have given 10 years to the U.S. Army, always placing the Army's needs before my own. Until my tour of duty in Iraq, I enjoyed my responsibilities as an NCO, and thought myself reasonably good at them. However, when I realized I could no longer perform those duties, I applied for conscientious objector status. Both CO status, and the procedure for obtaining it, are expressly recognized by Army regulations.
Even without acting on my CO application, my command made the decision to prosecute me for desertion and missing movement. As I understand the law and practice concerning CO applications; until my application was decided, I should have been assigned no duties which set me up for charges--whether desertion, missing movement, or anything else.
Laying the CO regulations to one side, however, I did not desert my unit or miss the movements of my unit--the two charges brought against me. Why not? Because CSM Samuel L. Coston released me on 7 January 2005 at 1800 hours, at the conclusion of a meeting between us. CSM Coston had ordered me to report to him, for the purpose of discussing my reasons for applying for conscientious objector status. During that interview, CSM Coston ordered me to complete my conscientious objector application! CSM Coston's order, to complete my conscientious objector application, was fully consistent with Army regulations, as both he and I understood them; namely, that my status with the Army was "on hold," until that application had been acted upon. Yet, charges against me were commenced before my CO application had been acted upon.
A belated denial of my CO application, based upon claimed "insincerity," was supposed to justify this illegal prosecution. Of course, it didn't, but merely gave me the opportunity to prove my sincerity the old fashioned way--by going to prison, rather than continuing my military service, and winding up in the same compromising situation I'd found myself previously in Iraq. Simply put, the only reason I'm in jail is because I wouldn't return to Iraq. Based upon my actual experience in Iraq, I applied for a CO exemption from my remaining service obligation.

That's an excerpt. Use the link to read it in full. But how long is Kevin Benderman going to be locked away? Are you okay with it? I doubt it. I know I'm not. Benderman didn't kill or injure a prisoner but there are people walking around who've served less time than he's being punished with -- punished for having a conscience.

Peace quote, in honor of the Raging Grannies who show us all how important it is to take stands and participate in the world around us.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
Youth is the first victim of war; the first fruit of peace.It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him.
King Baudouin I, King of Belgium

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What did happen on Cheney's hunting trip?

Mike and I are both hurrying tonight because it's V-Day and we've got plans (not with each other). This would be one of those days, like I was saying yesterday, where you might be able to get something if you combine what's at Mikey Likes It! with what's here. So be sure to visit Mikey Likes It!

"Cheney Cited For Hunting Violation in Shooting Incident" (Democracy Now!):
The Bush administration is on the defensive over Vice President Dick Cheney’s accidental shooting of hunting companion and Republican fundraiser Harry Whittington at a Texas ranch Saturday. Whittington is reported to be in stable condition. It took the White House at least 19 hours to inform the public -- and only after a local Texas newspaper broke the story. Cheney is also coming under criticism for violating Texas game law. On Monday, state officials said Cheney had not purchased a stamp required for bird hunting.

I don't know what to make of this, honestly. The secrecy involved would suggest that we're looking at something much bigger than what's been reported; however, it's also true that the administration is very secretive. They've never felt the public had a right to know anything. Even before they got into office. Bully Boy kept bringing up the drug issue ("I could pass a test . . .") but wouldn't answer questions as to what drugs he was referring to having used. They've never felt they owed the public anything -- which is probably why they're determined to have a tag sale on the public goods and grant as many waivers and perks to corporations that they can get away with.

The behavior goes beyond their usual secrecy because, I would assume "obviously," when you shoot someone, it will be news. C.I. passed on something that there wasn't time to highlight at The Common Ills but that Mike and I might be able to use.

Why Put Silencer on Story?" (Juan Gonzalez, Common Dreams):
Since when does the massive White House spin machine permit a little-known South Texas rancher to give vice presidential press briefings?
McClellan said yesterday he did not even learn the vice president had been the shooter until Sunday morning.
Even the normally docile Washington press corps wasn't buying that line. Angry reporters repeatedly demanded to know exactly when Bush learned about Cheney's errant shot.
Later in the day, the White House revealed that deputy chief of staff Karl Rove was the first to know. Rove spoke by phone with Armstrong on Saturday evening, then informed Bush around 8 p.m. of the vice president's role.
In other words, both Bush and Rove knew the essential details within hours of the incident, yet the White House kept things quiet until the next day.
At yesterday's briefing, McClellan repeatedly referred further questions to Cheney's office, and late in the day the information dribbled out that Cheney hadn't bothered to pay for the proper permit to go bird hunting in Texas.
Local sheriffs in Kenedy County reportedly complained that Secret Service agents prevented them from talking to the vice president immediately after the incident.
The Secret Service, on the other hand, says that it reported the shooting to the sheriff's office an hour after it happened, and that Cheney eventually did talk to local authorities.
The Cheney interview, like so much of this story, was delayed until Sunday morning.

Juan Gonzalez hosts Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. I would enjoy him being on this week because I think this issue needs further attention. It hasn't gotten enough. Not when the New York Times continues to white-out the fact that Cheney travels with a medical team.

C.I.'s been noting this story, and the reluctance by some to note Cheney's health, since Sunday and you could read the latest here. Wally's been doing a humorous take on it and you can read his latest here. I have no idea what happened on the hunting trip and I'm less than convinced that we've gotten any sort of realistic picture thus far.

"GAO: Bush Admin. Spent Over $1.6B on PR" (Democracy Now!):
And finally, a new report from the Government Accountablity Office says the Bush administration has spent over $1.6 billion on advertising and public relations contracts in the last two years. Of this amount, the Pentagon has been the biggest spender, paying $1.1 billion for recruitment campaigns and other public relations efforts.

They always find money for the things that they think are important, don't they? Here's a thought, come up with some programs that actually help the average person and you might not have to spend so much money trying to spin them as 'helpful.'

That's it for me. Happy V-Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Reality check via Monica Benderman

Christian Peace Group Charged Over Gitmo Vigil (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, the US government has served legal papers to seven members of a US Christian group that held a vigil outside the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The group, Witness Against Torture, held a five-day march to the prison in December. Around 500 prisoners are being held at Guantanamo, most without charge. The seven members each face up to 10 years in prison or a $250,000 dollar fine. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights said: "I find it extremely hypocritical that Washington is investigating this group for the 'crime' of traveling to Cuba. The U.S. government is flagrantly violating even the most basic norms of human rights -- such as indefinite detention without charges, denial of fair trials and, most importantly, torture."

C.I. noted this today and noted the sense of outrage many of us are feeling. Sunny (my assistant and friend) asked me about that today. I'd just finished a session and she said something along the lines of "You have to read this!" but there wasn't time until lunch. You should also check Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.'s "A note to our readers." Guantanamo Bay was one of the issues C.I. raised and if you're confused about the "outrage" many of us are feeling, think about the fact that Gitmo began a holding pen for suspects in January 2002. It's now February 2006. Four years later.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941, we interned Japanese-Americans beginning in 1942. It was shameful. As I'm remembering my history, we began releasing large numbers in 1994 and in January of 1945, we ended the program officially. (The camps stayed open for those still trying to figure out where to go -- people lost their homes. They were pulled from their lives and homes for the "crime" of their heritage.) That's shameful and embarrassing to our history. The fact that it was "only" three years makes it no less tragic. But in the case of our current shame, we've already surpassed the three year mark. Do we learn nothing from history?
For those who've forgotten, our government's response to concerns has been that everyone's being treated fairly and if you don't believe it, check it out. The seven facing legal charges did just that.

Are they going to indict Bully Boy? He "incited" any action:

""You're welcome to go down yourselves ... and tak[e] a look at the conditions," Bush said."

So that's part of the outrage. Another part, an important component, is that this issue isn't being taken seriously in the corporate/mainstream/generic media. In ten years, when we're all disgusted by this section of our history and looking back, it needs to be noted that the mainstream media didn't cover this. Every month or so they might do something noting the administration's position. They didn't note the protest that led to legal charges. They never left the "safe" area. It's been four years now, at what point do they get real?

You think this is "esoteric"? It's very real to the people being "detained" who've not had a day in court but are "prisoners" no matter how often the mild term "detainee" is used. It's not just Guantanamo. Note the next item.

Report: US Aiding Construction of Morocoo Prison (Democracy Now!):
In other news, the London Times is reporting the US is helping Morocco build a new prison for terror suspects near the capital of Rabat. The prison would be run by the Moroccan secret police, the Direction for Security of the Territory -- known as DST. Several human rights groups have accused the DST of torture. Morocco is thought to be one of the key partners in the CIA’s rendition of detainees.

Short of repeating myself (and screaming inside my head), I have nothing to add to that.

So instead of banging my head against the same wall twice in one night, I'll note another topic.
I always assume every reader who reads this site is coming here via one of the community sites and that we're all on the same page. However, a reader wondered why I take Saturday and Sunday off?

I don't know that I truly do. Most Saturday nights/early Sunday mornings, I'm am helping out with The Third Estate Sunday Review. I see that site as an online magazine, if you're new to it. This weekend, I offered input of same form (I doubt it was "huge" or "helpful" input) on the following pieces:

Editorial: What Are They Saying, What Do They Mean?
It's all White
On playing the fear card
Cowardly Journalism Review (Parody)

I had no input on TV Review: On the lack of layers" which was written by Ava and C.I. who write all the TV pieces for The Third Estate Sunday Review -- and they do an incredible job on them. So I am participating on some level on the weekends, just not at this site.

The reader who wrote in pointed out that I am taking Thursdays off. That is true. But I'm not taking Thursdays off to kick back and relax. I'm working on Thursday evenings. Bless C.I. who will compose an entry no matter what -- on the road, at home, in an airport lobby, you name it -- but I'm not that dedicated or devoted and I have no trouble setting clear boundaries on what I will give and what I won't give in terms of online contributions.

Again, bless C.I., The Common Ills is an incredible site and the community that's sprung up around it, of which I am a member, is amazing. But I don't think lightening strikes repeatedly and I also don't think I have C.I.'s gifts. I think I have enough in me to do what you see online and that's about all.

This all started when I filled in for Rebecca at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude when she needed some time off. I was happy to do that. I was nervous as hell and on the phone with C.I. from the first entry. But I did what I did, good or bad, and during that time also started helping out with The Third Estate Sunday Review, which Rebecca does so I was filling in there as well.

I didn't know how long I'd be substituting and I believe it came to five or six weeks. I don't believe I did anything "ground breaking" or even mildly amusing during that time. I'm proud that I was able to alert some people to the case of Kevin Benderman. But Rebecca's readers and community members were very supportive and gave me motivation and encouragement for which I'm very thankful. A number of them, though eager for Rebecca to return, didn't want me to just skip off into the sunset. Mike didn't either and he led the write-in campaign to request that I start my own site.

I don't know what I'm doing to this day. I'm always suprised when an e-mail comes in from a visiter who's never heard of any of the community sites but still stumbles across this site. In my offline life, I'm busy like most people are. Besides my work, I also do volunteer work with a group of young females. In addition to that, I enjoy spending time with my friends and dating. Now C.I. can go days with little to no sleep but I can't. For those who may be wondering, it was that way in college as well -- C.I. being able to go without sleep. I tried to keep up back then for a week by ingesting large doses of No Doze and it wasn't pretty. (C.I. is a natural insomniac and doesn't need to ingest anything to stay awake.)

So this is pretty much what I can manage. The process, such as it is, involves Mike and I talking on the phone at some point during the day before we do our entries. We go over the headlines from the day's Democracy Now! and choose two that we agree should be noted, then we write about that. Why Democracy Now!? Mike loves the show.

I started to type "seriously" but that actually is the reason. I love it as well. It's rare that I'm able to listen to a full episode. But I do attempt to each day at lunch. They do wonderful work and deserve massive attention for what they do. So we both note them at our sites. Maybe someone sees something here and thinks, "I should check it out"? Maybe someone is just aware it's out there? (Most people coming here are aware of the program and were before I started my site. The community promotes Democracy Now! heavily because we believe in un-embedded media.) Or, if nothing else, the links help its rank online?

Remember to visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take. I think that if we're both having bad days (which we do), the two of us combined may actually make a single point. Hopefully, most days we do more than that. Three e-mails have noted my "boyfriend" Mike. Either assuming because we work on our sites together, we must be a couple or that I'm the female Woody Allen? Mike has a girlfriend. Her name is Nina and she's smart, sweet and attractive. I'm many years older than college student Mike. Thanks for the vote of confidence; however, we are just friends.

Mike also has a mother. He has a father as well; however, Trina has her own site, Trina's Kitchen, and I'd urge everyone to visit it. It's a once a week site. Trina will offer some of her opinions on the week's events and share a recipe. Trina is a wonderful person. Mike's father as well. I got to know them when we all went to DC for the September peace rallies and march. When Trina learned that I was spending Thanksgiving with C.I. (as I frequently do), she made a point to invite me to spend Christmas with her family. She, Mike, the whole family are wonderful.

If you're new to this site and are wondering, "What about your own family?" My family consisted of my parents and my brother. My parents died when I was young and my brother, who was 18 when our parents died, took on the task of raising me. We are very close but, having made his money in the financial industry, he spends most of his time in Europe. (He visits frequently but holidays aren't "our thing." Apart we can get through them, together we both go into dark moods -- thinking of our parents.) For those who are new, I met C.I. through my brother and C.I. met Rebecca through me. We go back many years. (Rebecca would say "too many years.")

So hopefully that clears up any confusion.

"Vigil for solider draws two sides: Veteran serving time for refusing to deploy" (Katherine Tam, The Olympian):
About two dozen activists, including eight from Olympia, called Saturday for the release of a soldier imprisoned here for refusing to deploy to Iraq a second time.
The activists held a banner that read "Free Kevin Benderman from Fort Lewis Brig" over the Interstate 5 overpass at DuPont near the military installation while drivers honked from below.

"He served in the military very faithfully and went to Iraq," said Wally Cuddeford, who was in the Navy for a year and a half. "The military, instead of honoring the service he has given to his country, is locking him up."
Benderman was deployed to Iraq from March to September 2003. He filed for conscientious objector status in late 2004; his application was denied. Conscientious objectors are morally opposed to war.
Benderman was to leave for Iraq again in January 2005, but he refused. He was charged with desertion and intentionally missing movement for not boarding the plane for Iraq when his unit left. He was found guilty of the second, lesser charge and sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison. He is serving that sentence at Fort Lewis.
Many activists at Saturday’s vigil said they have never met Benderman, but they support his right to be a conscientious objector. The group included veterans and those who have never been in war all from Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma.

Again, Kevin Benderman is someone we need to be aware of. Monica Benderman is doing her damndest to make sure that he's not forgotten or overlooked and I think the least we can do is support their efforts. If you are a regular at this site, you know about them. If you don't, I'm using something from a column Monica wrote for a "reality check" tonight (instead of a peace quote).

"Reality Check" (Monica Benderman, "How to Stop a War," Common Dreams):
Three years ago we were spending time together, every moment we could, building the type of relationship we would need to survive the unknown we were about to face.
It was our choice -- going to war. Based on the information we had, and knowing that we don't take our commitments lightly, we knew that we would face this duty to country together -- the commitment we had made. Kevin to defend the constitution, the country and all that it represented as a volunteer in the US Army, and me as the one who would take care of everything that was ours while he was away.
Iraq happened.
Can you truly understand what it feels like to watch in the darkness as your husband, loaded with weapons, chemical antidotes and somber anticipation, boards a bus to an airfield where he will board a plane that will take him to war? For those of you who have never been there -- please don't say you understand. You never will.
The feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming -- but you have to be strong when you realize that as much as the motive seems to be a duty to country, what it comes down to is that your husband will do anything to keep you safe -- so the country benefits from the love you share.
The months of finding creative ways to take care of this man who has volunteered to deprive himself of everything that home and our way of life gives us simply because he has enough love in his heart to want to keep what he cares about safe, are months you live on the edge, but also with a strength that can only come from that love, and from a greater being who does understand. Who gives you what you need because it is the love that this greater being respects, and the support that the love gives for standing by someone who has made the choice to live by what they believe.
War is wrong. Taking the life of another simply because their choices are different from yours, is never right. But believing in something based on the knowledge you have is not wrong, and standing beside someone you love because you support their commitment to what they believe, will never be wrong.