Sunday, February 13, 2005

Interview With a Blogger: Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude returns for another exclusive interview

When Rebecca blogged on an e-mail stalker, we knew we had to have her back for another interview and we weren't disappointed. Our only regret is that we don't have an audio link for this interview because Rebecca Winters of Sex and Politcs and Screeds and Attitude is a very passionate woman who is determined to tell her truth. We support that and consider ourselves lucky to be web publishing in a world that has voices like Rebecca's.

Third Estate Sunday Review: Yesterday, Howard Dean became head of the DNC, what say ye? Sorry, we pulled out our copies of The Crucible as soon as we learned Arthur Miller died Friday.

Rebecca: I say, The Crucible is pretty timely considering what happened to Lynne Stewart Thursday in court. On Howard Dean, I'd point out that isn't it strange that he didn't have a chance? That bloggers and reporters told us that over and over? And of course, now they were proven right. Oh! Wait! They weren't.

You wrote about that on the fourth of this month.

I was and am so angry because there was this movement to push Simon Rosenberg who was completely unqualified to head the DNC. And right now, when bloggers who do investigative work are rightly getting credit, it just really puzzles me that there was such silence online about who and what Simon Rosenberg was. It was almost as though, six months ago he stopped drinking and everything before that day was his past and we didn't discuss it. It was very weird and very Bush-like.

You mentioned the easy treatment he got on The Majority Report, Simon Rosenberg.

I want to state, as I wrote, that Janeane Garofalo was on vacation and not a part of that night's show. But there was this deference shown to Rosenberg that was nothing at all like the way Sam Seder rightly treated Ed Koch, for example.
It was treated like a shot gun wedding that was going to take place whether we wanted it or not and, by the way, "if anyone here . . ." was being dropped from the ceremony.
There was this closing of ranks.
If that same energy had gone into pushing Howard Dean, I could understand it. That would make sense. Because Dean had actually done something in his life. But Simon Rosenberg was a cypher. And I really think we need to remember who pushed him. And don't get me started on the paid journalists because Adam Nagourney was assuring us until this past week that there was this huge competition going on when, in effect, it was decided the Sunday before Martin Frost dropped out of the race.
It struck me as if some people were trying to manipulate what was going to happen.
I have no problem with adovacy. But I didn't and don't understand where anyone ever got the idea -- outside of the astro-turf that littered the web -- that Rosenberg had anything to offer.

You read "Questions for a Questionable Simon Rosenberg."

Right and I blogged on that in the entry we're talking about. How old was the site [The Common Ills] then? Was it even a month old? Why was it that The Common Ills was tracking down Rosenberg's record and no one else, all these established bloggers, could?

If he's broken with the DLC, Rosenberg broke in May of 2004. And that's reason enough to get behind him. People would say, "Simon wants to reach out to bloggers!" I got e-mails on that. And I would always reply: "So what!" If that's the core reason for his support, is that not as hideous as when someone in the press trades access for a soft ball, fluff piece?

I think it is just as awful. And I'm really appalled to see that happen. The web was supposed to be free us all of the constraints imposed by the mainstream media and help get the truth out yet when a DLC trained crony/protege is going for the chair of the party, people start holding their tongues. And Sam Seder, to take this back to The Majority Report, is angry after the interview because the show's blog has gotten very upset over the interview. Sam doesn't just tell the listeners that if they didn't like what they heard, they have their answer about Rosenberg.
And then goes on to weigh in on Dean in non-flattering terms.

What the hell was that?

"Questions for the Questionable Simon Rosenberg" was very popular on our campus. We were all e-mailing that. You wrote of something similar.

Right. I e-mailed that out because I didn't know Rosenberg's past. I knew that his interview with Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow on Unfiltered was disgusting and that the women did a better job of holding his feet to the fire than when he was later on The Majority Report. But I'm sitting there and going through that piece by The Common Ills and thinking, "Good Lord, how did it come to this?" I e-mailed that post to the majority of my friends. And shortly after, it started coming back to me. Someone I knew vaguely would e-mail it to me and jot something like, "Becky, this Rosenberg guy is not the great hope that people are playing him as."
"Questions for [the Questionable] Simon Rosenberg" can't be stressed enough because that really got the word out on who Rosenberg was and what he stood for.

And on that note, there's a guy I'll call Blogger X. He was okay with Simon Rosenberg as DNC chair, he blogged. Then someone posts to his site that Rosenberg is for the war, was for it before it started, remains for it. And the reply from Blogger X, what he posts, is that he is against the war himself and if it's true -- if! -- then he couldn't support Rosenberg.

If! Rosenberg's position on the war was not a "state's secret." He was very public about that. It was in print, it was on the air. And this guy who's blogging on Rosenberg is unaware of it? I'm not trying to embarrass Blogger X. If I was, I'd name him. I'm trying to show you how this conversation was so overmanaged and manipulated that even someone like Blogger X, who is very passionate about left issues, had never even heard that basic truth.

How did that happen? How did we get to this point? And we better figure that out because it's obvious that we were lied into a war. And it's easy to say that. But what was behind the lying to us to get us to support Rosenberg. I'm not talking about Blogger X. I'm talking about all the blogs that got behind Rosenberg. I mean, have we really already created on our very own Cokie Roberts? That's something we need to worry about.

You're very impassioned on this topic?

Yes, I am. And it's not being a "sore" winner. I think it's great that Dean's core supporters from 2003 and 2004 rallied behind him. But I think it's hideous that we came so close to having Rosenberg installed because we were left in ignorance. The bloggers are supposed to be telling us what the mainstream media won't. They're not supposed to be forming their own little band wagon to manipulate us into supporting someone.

Hate mail?

Oh, I got hate mail on that post. Fine. See if I care. "Screeds" is in the title. "How dare you say these things!" one person who's "never read your site before and never will again" wrote. I don't care. I mean, look at The Common Ills community for a second because it continues to grow and grow. And the reason for that is it's speaking a truth as a community. I'm not interested in people who can't handle my truth. I don't care if I have five or fifty readers. I'm interested in making sure that I speak clearly. It's like when Hillary Clinton gave that hideous speech. She knows about timing, she knows how that would be received.

And suddenly it was, "Don't you dare criticize Hillary!" I'm sorry, she's not my god. Clinton-ism isn't my religion. I'll speak my truth and if somebody wants to read it, fine. If not, I could care less. That hit me when I was writing Friday's entry. I was thinking, "Oh Rebecca, this could make you seem non-respectable" and that just made me write my truth more passionately. I'm not trying to get on MSNBC, CNN or Air America. I'm trying to put my thoughts down. And after it posted, I e-mailed C.I. about it and had to wait for a reply, if I can complain because people seem to think that I get an instant reply to everytime I e-mail C.I.
But C.I. e-mailed back later to say that if we don't tell our truth then why are we blogging?

And that's just the heart of it, if you want my opinion. Tell your truth. Your own truth. Don't take talking points, don't fall in line behind what's become "conventional wisdom" online.

So when I got e-mails after my post on Rosenberg from bloggers saying, "I'll never link to you!" for instance, I think, great, don't. Your readers might not be able to handle me because I'm not going to repeat what everyone else is already saying.

When we arranged this interview, our plan was to talk to you about e-mail, about the e-mail you were getting from one person.


Yeah. We got an e-mail from her as well. "Now that we know that you're professional journalists and not the students you say you are, will you admit it?" And we're thinking it's a put-on and laughing about it and then we see your thing on Beth.

I'm evil, according to Beth. Look, I'm not C.I. I won't wear the hair-shirt for you. I won't eat your sins for you. If you try to come at me, I'll fight back. I love C.I. but I don't do "in fairness."
So Beth e-mails me about some vacation that C.I. and I took that I blogged on and I'm reading it and thinking, "You liar, you stupid liar." And that C.I. and are lovers. And why won't I reveal my last name -- it's right there on my profile and it shows up on the site proper.

She's just a little pain who doesn't have anything better to do than try to trick people into saying something. She's got her pen and her diary out and she's going to record anything she can force out of you. A little stalker, that's what she is.

I don't like people who try to trick you. And I called her on it and she goes whining to The Common Ills that I have violated their rules. I'm not The Common Ills. I don't operate under those rules. My language alone should demonstrate that.

I just felt like -- you little lie face. I felt like she was slamming me and lying about me and thought she could then go whining over there.

You know The Common Ills is going to post a reply if she writes one.

Yeah, and I'll be very interested in reading it just to see how she intends to spin it. She's incapable of telling the truth. I understand that The Common Ills is a community, hell, I'm a part of that community. But I think she's wasted enough of everyone's time. I think what ticks me off the most is that she's presented herself as this woman who's so interested in the truth but when she writes an e-mail she can't find the truth with both hands. I'm glad her reply will be posted, if she can write it, because until I quoted from her e-mail, she came off very nicely. I think C.I. had gotten irritated with her, as would anyone, but she was monopolizing the time.
Last time I checked, you didn't have ads on your site, C.I. doesn't have ads there, I don't have ads on my site. I'm assuming none of us are making any money off this. But Beth thinks she's got a right to cross examine over who you know and what you did and she'll lie in the process to try to trip you up.

I don't need it, I don't want it, I don't have time for it. There are too many things going on in the world, awful things, and I really don't enjoy seeing her waste the Common Ills community's time with her silly, "You wrote about ___. How do you know them?" I mean, get a fucking grip already.

There hasn't been much sex of late on your site.

No, there hasn't. I always hope to have something to say on that but then I'll read something outrageous or see something outrageous on TV and that will end up being my blog for the day.
I did write about Donnie Fowler and I do think he's a sexy stud. I'd do him. I'd be all over him.
And I do think sex is important. But some days there's so much happening that I feel like it's out of my control what I'm going to write about that day.

You were very vocal regarding the Lynne Stewart case.

Right. I told you I wanted to talk about that in this interview because I think a travesty of justice occurred. And I'm going to the web sites and see nothing. Look, speak and be counted or be silent and be noted. That's my attitude. This is an attack on the First Amendment and the fact that people want to ignore it enrages me.

Stewart defended her client to the best of her ability. And if it was you charged with something, that's what you'd want your attorney to do. And she's convicted over a press release. A press release! That's what this whole case boils down to. Even if a judge had imposed a gag order, she'd be facing jail time for breaking the ruling, not facing prison.

This is an attempt to take down a lawyer who's defended people -- some wonderful, some not so wonderful -- when others didn't want to take the case. And her thanks for that, for her years of activism and awareness, is that she's going to be disbarred thanks to this conviction.

It's disgusting. And I'm so annoyed with the people who aren't speaking out on this. I'm sure at some point, someone will weigh in with "she got what she deserves" and really afraid it will come from The New Republic. That's right up their alley today, that sort of statement. But it will betray the long ago history of that rag, from back when it stood for something.

Lynne Stewart is not a terrorist. But she's been tarred with inuendo and now you've got people rushing to step away from discussing this because they don't want to be tarred similarly. I won't do that. I won't join that rush. Lynne Stewart did her job.

But outside of Democracy Now!, it's hard to hear anyone make that point. I thank God for Amy Goodman because that show doesn't just benefit us today. It's a record and years from now when future generations ask, "How could you have all gone along with sending a grandmother to prison over a press release?" we can say, "Oh, but we didn't." And we can point to Democracy Now! and how Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales tried to get the truth out. Me, myself, I'll tell them, I had a blog back then and I was very vocal about how this was an attack on Lynne Stewart and free speech.

If a half of the time the blogs spent on Alberto Gonzalez and the torture memo was spent on raising awareness of Lynne Stewart's case, there would be this huge outcry. But few people want to expend the energy and I think it's because they don't want to take a stand. Isn't that the purpose of having a blog?

You said you were going to write something on Lynne Stewart?

Yes. It will be in the same edition as your interview.

So that's you, me and The Common Ills. Look, my e-mail address is and anyone who wants to write in defense of Stewart, I'll cite you, I'll post you. We have got to get on this. On a personal level, she doesn't deserve this. On a political level, this is an attack on our rights and we need to let the administration know that we won't take it lightly. We're doing this interview on Saturday morning and I want to apologize to anyone if they've e-mailed me an article or blog entry in defense of Stewart. But right now, I'm looking around and it seems like there's this attitude of, "Oh well." This isn't the time to be lackadaisical. This is the time to come out firmly and strongly in support of our basic rights and in support of Stewart.

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