Monday, October 09, 2006

Kat & Blogging (Betty)

Betty here, filling in for Kat. A few things. I was asked if I was talking to Kat? No. She's dealing with an impending death in the family. I followed Ruth's advice and wrote her a letter. You're dealing with a time zone difference and I have no idea if I'd be calling during a bad time. Ruth's right, a letter allows you to let someone know that they're in your thoughts but also allows them to read it if and when there is time. I miss Kat a lot. She's not my friend, though.

My daughter corrected me on that. Kat is her friend. She was quite serious. (She loves Kat. And she loves Kat's hair.)

Despite what my daughter thinks, Kat is also my friend. I actually wasn't sure about Kat when I first started talking to her. She's very funny and I'm always sure that I'm not. She stands her ground and I admired that about her. But it was when we all were in DC in March 2005 that I got to see and talk to her. I thought she was funny before but she's funnier in person and it also adds to what she's saying when she's not being funny. She's very direct.

I have no problem with that, my parents are that way. But until you get to know her, you may wonder if she's direct or she just doesn't like you? I was really sure she didn't like me before we were all in DC. I think I told her that the second we were face to face. One of those, "Hey, if you don't like me, don't worry about it, we don't have to hang." She quickly corrected me and we ended up laughing about that and the things that made me wonder. I can be pretty sensitive.

There was one time, I don't remember what it was, but C.I. made a comment at The Common Ills and I was convinced it was about me. It came out in a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review, what the point was about (it wasn't about me) and I owned up to it in the roundtable that my feelings had been hurt because I thought it was about me. Kat and I laughed about that after.

Her theory is that because "your man walked out on you and the kids, you've got all these doubts about yourself that you aren't even aware of." I'm beginning to see the truth in that. I can't date and be a mother right now, the kids are too young and I get too lost in romance, but I also think, now, that part of the reason for that decision is that I knew how my kids felt and I knew they needed me. I do think there are a lot of questions as a result of his exit. Questions I have about me. And I know I am the most sensitive of anyone. Or personally sensitive.

I feel so bad for C.I. because when it's beyond exhaustion time, I feel like C.I.'s just has no defences left. C.I. is probably the most sensitive person about others and can usually tell there's a problem before anyone else. There's someone in the community thinking about starting a site and he wrote me about it. He was wondering how hard it was and other things along those lines?

I had so much help and so much hand holding. C.I. and Rebecca were there for me and then some. Both of them read (for about five to six weeks) every draft I wrote when I was trying to figure out what sort of site I wanted to do. They really went all out for me. No one else that started a site had the problems or concerns I did. (See Kat's theory about my state of mind.) They encouraged me, gave me solid criticism and stressed that it had to be something I wanted to do. Which is how I came up with the idea of doing an ongoing story in comedic form. Everyone was supportive. I got to work on The Third Estate Sunday Review for several editions before I started my site because I wanted to see what it was like when you had a deadline and also how they pulled together the editions each week. If you're not of the belief that you have something to offer, you shouldn't do a site.

Rebecca and C.I. encouraged me to believe that I had a site and were the first to get (not me) that I had stumbled upon my focus -- probably around the fortieth version of what I thought I might be interested in doing. Rebecca played a trick on me. She said, "It's well written but it doesn't speak to me." I said, "What!" and started offering up examples of it and listing this and that before I realized she was laughing. She said she loved this idea but wanted to be sure this was something I was interested in and not "an audition piece."

So that's my advice about sites for whatever it's worth. I wish I could tell you I didn't hate everything I write at my site but I basically do. There's never enough time to build it to what I want the latest chapter to be. And there are times when I have X time and have to get something up. If I could, I'd go back and revise everything I've posted.

Kat is really good about listening to all my drafts. So is C.I. (and with Kat in Ireland, I feel bad that I'm probably pushing more of that off on C.I. than usual). In fact, there was a chapter that I didn't think I had and Kat and C.I. went through my drafts I'd been working on and pulled out lines from each of them and constructed a draft that I wrote around. They're also both very good about saying, "How about that thing you cut a few weeks back?" I'll have forgotten all about it. I write about six drafts for each chapter. Mainly trying to figure out the tone (and I also have the plot outlined and work from that). But most of the time, on Fridays, I'm looking at the drafts and rewriting a whole new one that only includes a few things from the draft.

I usually post on Fridays because my sister watches my kids then. I watch her kids on Saturday -- it gives both of us a night to have some space. Although my daughter can't make it more than two hours without insisting that she brought back to me or that I go pick her up. (She's the youngest.)

So that's my blogging story for whatever it's worth. I wish I had more time to work on each post, I wish I had more time to post, I wish I did more than one a week. But that's life, right? Caught between the wish and reality.

Here's some reality, try Trina's "Brownies and school party tips in the Kitchen." I didn't have time to make the recipe this weekend but my oldest sister did and she brought them over to my parents (we all go there on Sundays). They were delicious. There are also some good tips about school parties. I really enjoyed reading it and I really enjoyed the brownies my sister brought.
Let me plug myself too, my latest chapter (with all its warts) went up Friday, "Thomas Friedman's Bad Ideas & Blurry Boundaries." I should also note Cedric's "School play (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ALBERTO WILL BE THE CROSSING GUARD!" which is a joint post and they always note everything the community writes in their joint posts. I can't believe they were able to be funny today. I think we're all exhausted. They were saying this weekend, near the end of the edition for The Third Estate Sunday Review, that if ("if") they did a Monday post it would be a silly one. It is. It will make you laugh. By the way, Mike and I worked on a feature (photos mainly) that would not post. It'll be in the gina & krista round-robin Friday.

It's late for me. The time on the post is Pacific Time and I live in the Central Time zone. So I'll note the snapshot and then go to bed. I had an e-mail from a woman who wondered why I posted the snapshot at my site. Keesha and someone else, I'm tired, sorry, brought this up in a roundtable a number of us did for the gina & krista round-robin. C.I. focuses on Iraq because the community wanted it. And members feel that when other sites post, they should include a snapshot because it's one more way to keep the focus on Iraq. I agree with that. (We all do. And the only thing we felt was embarrassment when Keesha and Carl or Keesha and Eddie brought it up in the roundtable.) Iraq matters. I wouldn't have the time (or skill) to pull together a snapshot on my own. But the very least I can do is to copy and paste that day's. So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday October 9, 2006. Chaos and violence continue, war resister Ricky Clousing goes on trial Thursday, the Iraqi Defense Ministry wonders whether 300-plus Iraqi police officers intentionally poisoned, US casualities hit a high not seen since the slaughter of Falluja, the brother of one of Iraq's two vice-presidents is shot dead in his home, and the US military announces the deaths of three more US troops.

In June of 2005, war resister
Ricky Clousing self-checked out of the US military. On August 11th of this year, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) broke the news that 24-year-old Ricky Clousing had decied to turn himself in and noted that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division." Clousing spoke publicly about his decision to return at the Veterans for Peace conference that was being held in Seattle. The AP reported Clousing self-check out by noting: "He left a note on his door, with King's quote: 'Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But Conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right." Jane Cutter (Party for Socialism and Liberation) reported that a war resister of the current war was present to show support as Clousing made his public statement, Camilo Mejia, and that also joining them was a resister from the Vietnam era, Michael Wong. [Wong is one of the contributors to Koa Books' newly published Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. A six paragraph sample from his "Honor's Death" can be found here.]

Clousing turned himself in at Fort Lewis (Washington) and was instructed that Fort Bragg handled the issue. On August 18th, Clousing turned himself to Fort Bragg. September 1st, the military announced, to Clousing's attorney David Miner, that Clousing had been charged with desertion the day before. Clousing's response to the news: "Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face. I am at peace with my decision. I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will fee honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same."

Now the
AP reports the hearing is set and, according to Major Tom Earnhardt, due to start Thursday. The Fayetteville Observer reports that, according to David Miner, "Clousing will plead guilty to going absent without leave. . . . Miner said he would argue for no punishment during the special court-martial scheduled for Thursday at Fort Bragg." This Thursday, before the court-martial begins*, there will be a press conference, 10 a.m., 223 Hillside Avenue, Fayetteville, NC (Quaker House) where Clousing will speak and, at noon, there will be a downtown rally. [*The hearing is being written and spoken of as a "court-martial," not as an Article 32 hearing. ] That's this Thursday and you can find out more at Ricky Clousing's website.

Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military and we'll return to this topic later in the snapshot.

Michael Luo (New York Times) reported on "clash" in Diwaniya this morning. Not covered were civilian casualties. AFP reports: "Medics at Diwaniyah's main hospital reported that seven civilians had been wounded during the battle, one of them critically, while sporadic firing continued around the city into Sunday afternoon. Later, US and Iraqi forces sealed off and entered the hospital, apparently hunting for wounded militiamen."

On the topic of casualities,
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported Sunday: "The number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly leve in nearly two years" and that, in September, "776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq". [Casualities are wounded. Fatalities are deaths. The New York Times frequently seems lost with the terms, but to be clear, the topic being addressed is wounded.] Andrew Buscombe (Independent of London) addressed the topic today noting: "The ration of wounded to killed is 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 during the Vietnam War. . . . At the same time, other figures show that the number of attacks against US forces is continuing to rise. In July a total of 2,625 explosive devices were encountered by US forces -- with the devices either exploding or defused -- compared with 1,454 in January. The increase suggested that despite the killing in June of Abu Musab al Zarqawi . . ., the anti-American insurgency is intensifying."

This comes at a time that
Richard Stengel (NBC News) reports that soldiers are asking questions regarding "when" Iraqis will take over and quotes Vernon Roberson agreeing that soliders ask "Why are we here? Is this our war anymore?" Roberson: "Oh yes, all the time. I ask myself that a lot, too. We've been here for so long and we've done so much, but it's just so far we can go." As Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) have noted, Iraqis also wonder when it will end and polling found (use previous links) the majority of Iraqis want the US out now.

Meanwhile, a Sunday meal served in Iraq to Iraqi police officers has resulted in deaths and arrest.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports 350 police officers came down with food poisoning and that Jassim al-Atwan of Iraq's Environment Ministry stated eleven police officers had died. Other sources speaking to AP claim no one died. Some put the number of those poisoned at 400. AFP reports that three have died and notes no one has determined yet whether it was a deliberate incident or "whether there was something in the warter of if the food was spoiled." AP reports "the head of the mess hall" has been arrested. CBS and AP quote Brig. Qssaim al-Moussawi stating "A number of people have been arrested". AFP, in a later report, notes the following as arrrested: "a produce supplier and four cooks". At present, no one knows or no one's talking. If an intentional poisoning took place, it would mean that the Iraqi resistance was exploring new techniques and, if so, those in the Green Zone should be especially concerned. AP notes that the food was "provided by an Australian contractor."


Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad, a car bomb has claimed the lives of at least 13 people and left 46 injured. Outside Baghad?

In that
'peaceful' Tal Afar (to hear the Bully Boy and Michael Gordon tell it), CBS and AP report that one police officer was killed and twelve wounded from a car bomb. AFP notes a car bombing on the border between Jordan and Iraq that has injured six border police officers (Iraqis). While Reuters reports that, "near Baquba," two police officers died and three were wounded from a roadside bombing.


BBC reports that Amer al-Hshimi, brother to Iraq's vice president Tariq al-Hashimi and a general in Iraq's army, was killed "when the gunmen stormed into the house and shot him dead. They arrived in 10 police cars, a police source said." CBS and AP note that he was "an adviser in the Defense Ministry" and that his death follows the deaths of a "sister and another brother also . . murdered in the last year." Arrived in "10 police cars"? This weekend, Richard Stengel (NBC News) reported on the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad and a "an Iraqi police lieutenant tells us he thinks fellow police did it." The murder also follows a Sunday attempt to assassinate Galli Najim who heads the political party operated by Iyad Allawi. Also shot dead today, Reuters reports, was Faleh al-Obeidi ("police Colonel") in Baquba. As Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail (IPS) report: "The little known city of Baquba is emerging as one of the hotbeds of resistance in Iraq, with clashes breaking out every day."


The Australian reports that 35 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today and that five more were found "floating down the Tigris" in Suwayrah. (The 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad were preceeded, on Sunday, by 51 corpses being found in the capital.)


Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that, in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, eleven people were kidnapped -- eleven Iraqi soldiers: "gunmen jumped out of two vehicles at a checkpoint in the east Baghdad district of Sadr City and abducted 11 soldiers on duty". Xinhua reports a source telling them: "Unkown gunmen in a minibus stormed the checkpoint of Hamza Square in Sadr City district and seized all the soldiers, apparently without shooting at any of them".

As the violence rages on, the "plan" in the United States was, as
Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes, to get the chat & chews to focus on anything other than the Mark Foley & Pages Congressional scandal. Part of the attempts to shift the topic included getting James Baker to make a chat & chew appearance. Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's chat & chew visit as did David E. Sanger (New York Times) who noted that Baker did not support a "rapid withdrawal." As the GOP attempts to turn the focus back to Iraq within the US, they'll probably stay away from this reality: today, the US military announced that, on Sunday, three troops were killed in Al-Anbar Province (Reuters).

Again, war resister Ricky Clousing faces a hearing on Thursday. Clousing is a part of a movement of war resistance within the military that includes
Mark Wilkerson -- Clousing and Wilkerson acted as bookends for the month of August with their announced intentions to turn themselves in. Others include Darrell Anderson. Friday of last week, the military released Anderson who had turned himself in (Tuesday of last week) after self-checking out and going to Canada in 2005. Ehren Watada is another war resister and his father Bob Watada is on his second speaking tour to raise attention to his son's case (Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq).

Joe Lopez (World Socialist Web Site) reports that Bob Watada is speaking with Rosa Watada, Ehren's step-mother: "In her opening remarks to the Glendale meeting, Watada's stepmother Rosa said that Ehren was taking a stand for everybody, not just for himself, and that he was fighting to defend the Constitution of the United States and campaigning to bring the troops home. She described Ehren as an intelligent and principled young men who wanted to see an end to the occupation of Iraq."

Some of the dates for Bob Watada's speaking this week include:

Mon 10/9 7:00pm Veterans for Peace (Chapter 112) and Citizens for Peaceful Resolution
E.P. Foster Library, Topping Rm. 651, E. Main St., Ventura
Contact: Michael Cervantes 805-486-2884 email:

Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach

Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm. First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:

Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email: for San Diego events.

Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach

A full schedule can be found (PDF format)
here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and more information on him and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.