September 29th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

Jane and I have changed our way of working in the morning, and she is shortening her hours at work.   Stress, be gone!

When we began writing together, we meditated and wrote.  We took at hour in the morning.   Then, as I began feeling better, and life sped up, we shortened our time to 20 to 30 minutes and we rushed through it, with left brain eliminating a great deal of what we had written.  Today, we luxuriated with fifteen minutes of mediation, and then, we worked with Jane's poem on Cirque du Soleil, a precious poem that had fallen by the way-side,  like angels,  when we don't pay attention.

So, we are both planning a more expanded beginning to our day, which will allow expansion throughout the day.  One reason I seemed to have so much time during chemo was my attitude.  I relaxed into what was.  I am cultivating that now, today, and, working to calm my schedule, knowing I am more productive this way.

One thing I noticed in meditation this morning is my left-brain expanding.  I have not been feeling capable of very enduring left brain thought, so today, it was like a ghost rising, and all attention was there.  The right was resting, watching, and the left, was rising like a fluffed pillow, or a cloud, though the shape was of a ghost, Casper the Friendly Ghost.  I think, when I pause, the left brain has a chance to come back to life.  I need more meditation time, so I set intention for that.  

I suggest we all stretch time today, like warm taffy, and relax.   Let us take note of what we need.   Celebrate the cauldron of joy within.

Also, I want to comment on the theft of Jane's computer, and the violation that is.   I wonder if someone who steals realizes how much they take.  It is so much more than the object.  It is peace of mind, and in this case, it was Jane's most private and beautiful writing of seven years, and, as a result, she is giving herself more space.    She is turning pain to grace.  Hooray for Jane and each of us,  today and everyday!
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Gifts -

I just finished a session with Carole, my "general movement practitioner."    My body had become so twisted with all the shock and treatment, that I am working with her to again straighten out, and use my whole body, left and right, and to move, in balance, and response,  from center.  Carole said my session today was a gift for the fashion show.  I am so touched!

Years ago, I was in massage training.   I came to my final "test, which was to give the instructor a massage.   The day had been unimaginably horrifying.   Gail, the instructor, looked at me, listened, and put me on the table and gave me a massage of the most unbelievable love.   She did not want to be paid.  I felt uncomfortable with the gift.   She told me to go home and think about it, and if I had to, I could send her a check.  I knew somehow it was wrong, and yet,  I couldn't help it, and I mailed her the check.  I knew she gave it to me as a gift, and, in some way, with the check, I was not fully receiving the love that went into the gift.   I did request that she use the money for something wonderfully fun, and not just toss it into her account for bills.

This question of money still challenges me, but today, I was able to graciously receive, and that is one of the gifts of all this, along with all the gifts.

Happy receiving today!    Know that receiving another's offering, their gift, is a gift.   Honor and circulate.    Receive, and Give!
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At one time -

I don't think I could have ever imagined this country coming to this place.   I read this column, and understand that William Rivers Pitt  has legitimate concerns.   Take care, and stay aware.

  In Case I Disappear
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Friday 29 September 2006

    I have been told a thousand times at least, in the years I have spent reporting on the astonishing and repugnant abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, to watch my back. "Be careful," people always tell me. "These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren't being followed." A running joke between my mother and me is that she has a "safe room" set up for me in her cabin in the woods, in the event I have to flee because of something I wrote or said.

    I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn't yet been red-lined, I thought.

    Matters are different now.

    It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.

    So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.

    Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.

    Speaking of collecting evidence, the torture of suspects and detainees has been broadly protected by this new legislation. While it tries to delineate what is and is not acceptable treatment of detainees, in the end, it gives George W. Bush the final word on what constitutes torture. US officials who use cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment to extract information from detainees are now shielded from prosecution.

    It was two Supreme Court decisions, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that compelled the creation of this legislation. The Hamdi decision held that a prisoner has the right of habeas corpus, and can challenge his detention before an impartial judge. The Hamdan decision held that the military commissions set up to try detainees violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.

    In short, the Supreme Court wiped out virtually every legal argument the Bush administration put forth to defend its extraordinary and dangerous behavior. The passage of this legislation came after a scramble by Republicans to paper over the torture and murder of a number of detainees. As columnist Molly Ivins wrote on Wednesday, "Of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place."

    It seems almost certain that, at some point, the Supreme Court will hear a case to challenge the legality of this legislation, but even this is questionable. If a detainee is not allowed access to a fair trial or to the evidence against him, how can he bring a legal challenge to a court? The legislation, in anticipation of court challenges like Hamdi and Hamdan, even includes severe restrictions on judicial review over the legislation itself.

    The Republicans in Congress have managed, at the behest of Mr. Bush, to draft a bill that all but erases the judicial branch of the government. Time will tell whether this aspect, along with all the others, will withstand legal challenges. If such a challenge comes, it will take time, and meanwhile there is this bill. All of the above is deplorable on its face, indefensible in a nation that prides itself on Constitutional rights, protections and the rule of law.

    Underneath all this, however, is where the paranoia sets in.

    Underneath all this is the definition of "enemy combatant" that has been established by this legislation. An "enemy combatant" is now no longer just someone captured "during an armed conflict" against our forces. Thanks to this legislation, George W. Bush is now able to designate as an "enemy combatant" anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."

    Consider that language a moment. "Purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States" is in the eye of the beholder, and this administration has proven itself to be astonishingly impatient with criticism of any kind. The broad powers given to Bush by this legislation allow him to capture, indefinitely detain, and refuse a hearing to any American citizen who speaks out against Iraq or any other part of the so-called "War on Terror."

    If you write a letter to the editor attacking Bush, you could be deemed as purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States. If you organize or join a public demonstration against Iraq, or against the administration, the same designation could befall you. One dark-comedy aspect of the legislation is that senators or House members who publicly disagree with Bush, criticize him, or organize investigations into his dealings could be placed under the same designation. In effect, Congress just gave Bush the power to lock them up.

    By writing this essay, I could be deemed an "enemy combatant." It's that simple, and very soon, it will be the law. I always laughed when people told me to be careful. I'm not laughing anymore.

    In case I disappear, remember this. America is an idea, a dream, and that is all. We have borders and armies and citizens and commerce and industry, but all this merely makes us like every other nation on this Earth. What separates us is the idea, the simple idea, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our organizing principles. We can think as we please, speak as we please, write as we please, worship as we please, go where we please. We are protected from the kinds of tyranny that inspired our creation as a nation in the first place.

    That was the idea. That was the dream. It may all be over now, but once upon a time, it existed. No good idea ever truly dies. The dream was here, and so was I, and so were you.

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.


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Molly Ivins - a day of death -

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)

    By Molly Ivins

    Wednesday 27 September 2006

With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

    Austin, Texas - Oh dear. I'm sure he didn't mean it. In Illinois' Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to "cut and run" on Iraq.

    Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. "I just could not believe he would say that to me," said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

    The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of "technical fixes" that were the point of the putative "compromise." It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

    This bill is not a national security issue-this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

    Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The "heart attack" came after he had been beaten so often on this legs that they had "basically been pulpified," according to the coroner.

    The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.

    For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, "Let's give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him."

    This gets passed on as "Don't touch the mayor unless he really screws up."

    And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as "We can't say anything negative about the mayor."

    The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration's first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to "examine and respond to" all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word "examine" and left only "respond to."

    In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words "outside the United States," which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

    The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." Quick, define "purposefully and materially." One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

    The bill simply removes a suspect's right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

    As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon "degenerates into a playground for sadists." But not unbridled sadism-you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving "severe pain" and substituted "serious pain," which is defined as "bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain."

    In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: "The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."

    Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary-these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

    I'd like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.

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Opposition -

It feels odd to be heading up the freeway to the Marin Civic Center for the final fashion show rehearsal, while also watching Bush tear our freedoms apart.   I keep thinking there is a place to stop what is going on, and I see how each of us is busy with our lives.   May the balance be found, and the turn around now resound.