Sunday, September 20, 2009


Jim: This is a roundtable on current events and e-mails. We've got a lot of each. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. The illustration is done by Betty's kids. Our e-mail address is and the big topic in the e-mails last week was the edition itself, see 09/13 - 09/20. As expected, most readers were thrilled to have not one but three TV articles written by Ava and C.I. [see " TV: The Suckers," "TV: The Fall Season" and "TV: Specials"] but a number of e-mails wondered about the problems with the edition and, specifically, how often that happens?


Dona: I think we've had that problem twice in the nearly five years of weekly editions. You can say three times if you count one of the summer reads where we really did feel like we were phoning it in. I don't remember it ever being as bad as it was last week. Along with those of us who are part of Third -- Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- there's also Rebecca, Betty and Kat that can make long claims to working on these editions. That's not to take away anything from Ann or Stan who started working more recently, but in terms of 'has there ever,' they've been a part of it -- Kat, Betty and Rebecca -- about as much as we have. And, of course, Ava and C.I. are the only ones who can claim to have worked on every week's edition. All the rest of us have missed at least once a week. And for the problems last week, in addition to Jim's "A note to our readers" here, you can also see Mike's "Isaiah, Third, Music" and Elaine's "Isaiah, Shamus Cooke, Ava and C.I." for more on the problems.

Rebecca: Well I'll say, and I've been around here since late January of 2005, every weekend is a scramble. A huge scramble. And there are things that never make it up here that may make it into the print and e-mail edition.

Ty: I agree with Rebecca. And the two or three other times have just been extreme examples of that process, when it all just falls apart. That said, we've never depended on Ava and C.I. to the degree that we did last week. It wasn't just us asking them to write another piece -- or, in this case, two -- to round out the edition, it was asking them to do so to save the edition. Now Dona had a piece last week, "Pet Peeve (Dona)," that was popular and apprecited and if she'd written that earlier -- she wrote it after the editorial was done and Ava and C.I. were writing their third piece -- we might have felt less desperate but it was the most unproductive session I can remember. The e-mail response was huge in support of Ava and C.I.'s writing, as we knew it would be. Regular readers and new readers couldn't stop commenting about Ava and C.I.'s piece. We knew that would be the case. But a few did notice that the rest of us bascially dropped the ball and we did. Not from lack of trying. But it just wasn't working and I don't remember the other times being as bad as this one.

Jess: To a degree, I think we have that problem when we try to grab too much. And I think we did last week. We did a roundtable at one point, where Ava and C.I. were off working on one of their articles, and it was on Dahr Jamail's book. My attitude was, skip the book. I didn't find it interesting. Some other people did. I didn't. I'll speak only for me. But we were trying to do a roundtable on it and it failed miserably. We care about the topic, the book just didn't speak to me. Betty was able to take things from the book and relate them to other issues which is why her remarks worked -- and I really think Betty shined in that roundtable -- but part of the problem was we were attempting to do a lot of topics and, in some cases, like the book, some of us just didn't care for it. We liked the topic, we just weren't jazzed on the book. And C.I.'s snapshot on Thursday made it clear, my opinion, why a lot of us weren't jazzed on the book and it also said we don't have to worry about the book anymore.

Jim: I'm going to confine this issue to Jess only because, as C.I. wrote in that snapshot, the topic will be addressed here and that will be in an article. But Jess did bring it up in the roundtable so I'm going to ask Jess to explain what he's talking about briefly and then we'll move on to a different issue.

Jess: C.I. wasn't in the mood for the dishonesty, read the snapshot, on a topic and called it out and then said, basically, "Good luck with your book but we're not interested." And that really sums it up. If you're going to write about a topic, you need to be honest. If you can't be honest, you don't need to write about it. I'm not real pleased with Dahr Jamail to begin with. I think he's stolen credit he doesn't deserve. I think he's repeatedly been wrong, factually wrong, and refused to correct errors. He also went out of his way to destroy Hillary and clear the field for Barack so his claim not to be a Kool-Aid drinker, he claimed that on Cindy Sheehan's show, is f**king bulls**t. He lied about Hillary, one example, he stated she'd only been to Iraq once. He's a liar who doesn't correct his errors. I'm a Green Party member, he can play that crap of "I didn't cheerlead Barack" with Democrats who might not know better, but I wasn't for John McCain and I wasn't for Barack Obama and I know what I saw which was Dahr being a little whore. My opinion. Everyone speaking is responsible only for their own remarks, don't go whining to other people. Don't e-mail Rebecca or C.I. because your little feelings are hurt by what I said.

Jim: Okay and, for the record, I agree with Jess. Rebecca and Mike covered a topic last week, see their "dennis bernstein's a whore" and "Max Blumenthal practices McCarthyism as does KPFA." That really was a shocking moment of radio. Mike, fill in those late to the party.

Mike: The Nation's Max Blumenthal appeared on KPFA's Flashpoints and it was disgraceful. It was shameful from Blumenthal and it was shameful from Dennis Bernstein. It was outrageous. Allegedly, Glenn Beck, a right-winger, was being fact-checked or addressed. We heard 'boo-hoo, Van Jones was the victim of a witch hunt' when he wasn't but no sooner did Maxipad and Dennis boo-hoo over that than it was time for Maxipad to tell us that Beck had been a cocaine user years ago. And just get all crazed and panting over that detail. Then when you thought they'd finally moved on, Dennis was bringing it back up. They want to accuse others of a witch hunt while they're doing just that with someone's past drug use? I couldn't believe it. I called Rebecca and told her to listen to it and see if I was the only one outraged.

Rebecca: Which I did and I went to the archives at KPFA and listened and I was appalled. What does past drug use on the part of Glenn Beck have to do with anything?

C.I.: I'm going to weigh in here, if it's okay?

Jim: Sure.

C.I.: Dennis Bernstein worrying or fretting on air that someone else was a former recreational drug user is hypocritical and there's no one familiar with KPFA that won't agree with me on that point. I'll leave it at that. In terms of Max Blumenthal, I know Sidney Blumenthal, I like Sidney. But there's no excuse for what Max did. What Max did was, in fact, exactly what Christopher Hitchens did to Max's father, smear someone with innuendo. In terms of Sidney, he was accused, by Hitchens, of beating his wife. That was not true. Instead of sticking to the issue, they were in dispute over the Lewinsky scandal, Hitchens made a baseless and false charge about Sidney. It was very damaging. Now Hitchens was friends with the Blumenthals and, in fact, closer to Sidney than I ever was. And Hitchens would say to this day that he didn't lie and give hints of things he supposedly knows. I will call it a lie. But there are many people who, to this day, believe Hitchens on that. So for Max, for Sidney's son, to resort to that kind of crap and call it reporting is shameful and disgusting. He justifies the lies that Hitchens told about his father when he pursues that style of 'reporting.' Mike wrote about it from the perspective, as he just summed up. Rebecca wrote about it in terms of context and what I've just gone into is what's probably missing from her post. So now I want to toss back to Rebecca.

Rebecca: C.I.'s correct and I didn't even think of that. I was writing Thursday night about it and assuming everyone knew the whole history that C.I. just summed up. I talk about -- well let me just offer my complaint. As Mike said, it's not an issue. Someone's a former drug user? Are they making drug policy? No, they're not. What's the issue? Why are you digging through their trash and presenting it to the people? Now for my post, what I was focusing on was the fact that, prior to the Iraq War, you could find Christopher Hitchens on Flashpoints. He was Dennis' type of guest for the bulk of the 90s as Dennis went into one conspiracy theory on the Clintons after another. He ran with "Vince Foster was murdered!" He ran with all that crap including "Bill Clinton runs drugs out of Mena!" This was a crackpot show for Clinton conspiracies. And their attacks included attacks on Sidney Blumenthal. So it was especially disgusting to hear Sidney's son engage in attacks on someone else's alleged past. It was appalling.

Marcia: I just find it strange that Glenn Beck's drug use is considered 'news' by The Nation -- the same outlet that took part in the "We must not discuss Barack's drug use, talking about that is racism" meme.

Jim: Good point and Ty's got an e-mail about you Marcia.

Marcia: Me? Oh goody.

Ty: Robert C. e-mails and identifies himself as "a Democrat and leftist." He says he's read our site "for years" -- strange he never thought to write before -- and only now is he "disappointed" in us. Oh, Robert, we live to disappoint. He writes, "You need to be behind Barack on everything. That helps the Democratic Party. It may mean our country suffers for four years but it will get fixed with the next president. You need to learn to trust that Barack knows what he's doing." First off, it's not our job to "help" the Democratic Party. We're not giving our weekends because we're trying to help a corporate party with billions in their coffers. Second, I'll just laugh at the rest of that quoted statement. But he goes on to rant against Marcia and Ann about how they have refused to call out racism.

Marcia: Let me say I need a minute to breathe before I respond to those lies. Ann?

Ann: I've written about racism. I've written about real racism. I don't know what he's going by, this Robert. I spent a month filling in for Ruth and almost two weeks filling in for Mike and then I started my own site. Now when I was filling in for Ruth and Mike, because of how their sites are, I was a lot more in depth than I am at my site. I spoke to a lot of people here, in the roundtable, before starting my site and Elaine in particular. Elaine said there was nothing wrong with having an online journal and that's what I do at my site. I also try to have a visual. Each post is about a visual. I have written about racism at my site, and did last week, in fact. But I'm not a 'news' site. Last week, I wrote about racism and about Iraq and some other heavy topics but normally that's not what I do. I write about music, I write about my childhood. It is very much a journal. So Robert's problem -- besides trouble with reading -- may include the fact that he's confusing my site with someone else's. Like Elaine, I'm doing a journal. I'm not trying to be a news outlet. I'm perfeclty happy writing about things that happened in my childhood. Each post of mine contains hard news when I repost C.I.'s snapshot.

Marcia: Ann makes a good point. Now in terms of my site, I'm accused of focusing on nothing but race and sexuality -- I'm an African-American lesbian -- by those who e-mail to complain. And I need to give a shout out to Ruth because we do speak before we do our posts, we're on the phone, and a lot of times I'll have two or three topics I'm considering and she'll say, "Oh, I'll grab that" on a topic about sexuality and, since her grandson is gay and this is a pressing issue to her, I won't feel like, "Oh, no, you don't have to just because your my friend." I know Ruth's grabbing the topic because it really does matter to her. So I'm more than happy to let her run with and grab another topic for myself which, in the last weeks, has pretty much been race non-stop. I don't know what site Robert's reading. He may be mad that I've defended Glenn Beck from some attacks which I felt were unfair. I've noted I don't watch Beck's show, that I'm not interested in Fox "News." But I am interested in fairness and some of the attacks on Beck were unacceptable or ill founded. There are a group of about five African-American Republicans that read my site. There may be more, but I know of five. And they e-mailed sometime ago, like July of last year. And we've had many arguments in e-mails and we've had many times when we could agree on something. And I am open to them, I do not close off from them. They know they can raise any topic in an e-mail with me and I will respond honestly. They also know that if they have an issue of unfairness and want it to present it to me as a topic to be blogged on, if I agree with them, I'm happy to put it on my blog. That's why I do highlight Fox "News" at my site. They e-mail stories and transcripts all the time and I'll look at it and read over it and decide if I'm comfortable with it or not. But what I'm not comfortable with is this spitting on African-Americans. And there's a lot of that going on. As a lesbian, in the Black community, believe me, I know about prejudice. I will gladly disagree with my Republican brothers and sisters on politics but I will not spit on them just because I'm a Democrat. I know what it's like to be demonized. And I see a lot of demonization of, for example, Michael Steele. I'll shut up and let someone else talk.

Ava: C.I.

C.I.: Okay, Ava's jotting down Marcia's remarks and I'm speaking slow to get my own in. The thing is, we were considering tackling what Marcia's raising in a piece this week. I'm assuming Ava's hollered to me because she wants Marcia to continue on that topic.

Ava: Correct.

Marcia: Okay. Well, we keep hearing that Barack's the victim of racist media portrayals. F**king lie. Michael Steele is. Michael Steele, the 'joke' is, is not authentically Black. They really go to town, Saturday Night Live and all the others, portraying Michael Steele as the uppity N-word. And they need to stop pretending that they're doing anything else. They're portrayls of him are racist. Flat out racist.

Betty: Michael Steele is chair of the RNC.

Marcia: Thank you, Betty, I should have said that. Just because he's a right winger does not allow you to disrespect him with racist portrayals. The message Saturday Night Live really sends is: "This is what we really think of Black people. Dance for us on our side and we'll be kind to you but be for the other side and we'll make clear that you uppity N-words need to shut up and sit down."

Cedric: I would agree with that. The portrayal by fat ass on Saturday Night Live of Michael Steel was so insulting. The joke, in these skits, is "he's Black!" How is that not racist? It is very racist and it's very offensive. The whole 'parody' is based on ridiculing him for being African-American. Someone needs to tell Saturday Night Live that the basis makes the skit racist.

Jim: Okay, I'm going to lump together about seven different e-mails to bring up a related topic: Racism. We had about seven e-mails noting posts by Marcia, for example, and Betty and Ann and Stan on the topic of racism and wondering about it and about distaste with White people calling "racism" on behalf of African-Americans.

Stan: I'll jump in. We have no respect for Tim Wise. We have no respect for him at all. That's not just because he's White. He's a liar and he invents his own 'facts.' But it is because he's White. Tim Wise presents himself as the expert on the Black experience. Tim Wise is White. Tim Wise is a joke. He's like that old joke about the White man in the late sixties and early seventies majoring in African-American studies. Only he's worse. There is a very limited amount of space in the national dialogue and when there's a spot that could go to a person of color -- in this case, an 'expert' on being Black -- that space should not be going to a White man. It's offensive.

Betty: It really is. Not only is he hogging a spot that should go to a Black person, he's also sending a racist message which is that we, Black people, aren't smart enough to speak for ourselves and need the Great Protector to speak for us. We're apparently savages, noble ones, perhaps, but savages, and we need the White man to speak for us. Tim Wise isn't Black, he needs to stop trying to make a name for himself as an expert ont he Black community. It's offensive. It would be like George Will attempting to become the voice of feminism.

Ty: I agree, it's two-fold. It's the issue Stan pointed out that this is a topic, the African-American experience, that we might finally get an African-American guest in the media for. And instead we've got White Tim Wise. Second, as Betty pointed out, that we need a White man to speak for us sends a message that we are savages and idiots and, thank God, Massah for the White man Tim Wise cuza we'd all be-a lost right now without Massah Tim.

Cedric: I agree with everything that's been said and I'll move the topic further down the line now. When White people call racism on behalf of Barack -- who is bi-racial -- it really drives home how silent they are the rest of the time. It's racism, Saturday Night Live never tires of insisting, that this or that is said about Barack. But what's more racist than the way they portray Michael Steele? He's portrayed in ridicule, he's portrayed as a shucking and jiving fool. He's portrayed as Amos & Andy. By the same writers of Saturday Night Live that want to express 'outrage' over what they see as racism to Barack. And the writers of SNL are White. And it's just so typical. Any criticism of their pin up Barack is labeled as racism by them but they're more than happy to resort to racism when portraying any Black person.

Marcia: Exactly. And that's why a large number of White people need to shut the hell up about racism. They want to be 'experts' on the subject . . . if it involves Barack. If it involves Barack, anything is suddenly racism. But real incidents of racism, incidents that result in injuries and deaths of African-Americans? They're never interested in that racism and they're never interested in calling out racism against Michael Steele or Condi Rice or anyone else. People like Laura Flanders were more than happy to make racist remarks -- and laugh at their own remarks on air -- about Condi. Critizing Barack or Condi isn't racism. Referring to them as plantation workers or slaves, I think we can say those are racist remarks.

Jim: I don't want to stop this discussion but I did have a question for Marcia. You spoke of five readers who are Republican. I know Mike also has some Republican readers and this site has some Republican and some conservative readers. For this site, if I find an e-mail from a conservative, I'm always up for a discussion on the issue -- even an argument. Mike's grandfather's a Socialist who suffered because of his political beliefs during an actual witch hunt. As a result, Mike's interested in a big tent approach and tries to avoid demonizing any political party. I'm just wondering if you'd talk about your relationship with those five readers because Mike and I've discussed here, many times, are own relationships.

Marcia: Sure. The five started as three who used to write to argue with everything I said. This was in early 2008. And sometimes I wrote back and sometimes I didn't. And sometimes I'd comment at my site in a post. But one of them is gay and wrote an e-mail one time disagreeing with something I'd said and wrote about how being African-American, gay and a Republican meant suffering a lot of stereotypes and a lot of flack. Well I'm a Democrat, but leave out the political party and I can relate completely. Include the political party and I can still relate. So I do think about that and I did make a real effort for a reach out with that person who was friends with the other two and then it became five. All five are not gay, by the way. But that e-mail came at a time when I was seeing some very ugly things from people I had once respected and it was one of those moments where you either try to take a look at yourself or you say, "I'll just be a hypocrite and ignore it." Mike and I have talked about this and we have a similar attitude, you're welcome at our site. And you're welcome to disagree in an e-mail or lobby us on a topic. We're not going to become conservatives but we do want to be fair and if you present us with a case where we're unfair to right wingers or an issue where right wingers are being distorted, we will do our part to call it out if we can see your point. There are times when we won't and then you're pretty much on your own. But there are times when we will see your point and we will agree with you and we'll gladly write about it at our sites.

Jim: Okay, thank you, Marcia. Let's talk about ACORN.

Marcia: I've covered that at my site repeatedly. The only other person in the community who has is C.I. who did an excellent job of it. But I'm going to sit this out because I'll feel like I dominated the roundtable otherwise.

Ava: Okay, then let me speak first. I am not from El Salvador, I am a Latina. I find it offensive that so many on the left are defending ACORN --

Jim: I'm stopping you to back us up. We need to give a background on it. Kat hasn't spoken. Kat, can you give us a summary of the issue and then I'll toss back to Ava.

Kat: Sure. ACORN is a community group. It supposedly helps low income people and supposedly registers voters. I'm saying "supposedly" because I avoid ACORN, I don't see that they've done much of anything worth applauding. They're now in hot water -- the US Census people will not be using them for the Census, reversing an earlier stance, two weeks ago the Senate voted to cut off funding to ACORN and last week the House also voted for that. The hot water stands from three people, presumably conservative activsts, who made a point over the summer to visit various ACORN offices. One person had the hidden camera. The other two, a man and a woman, pretended to be something else. The woman was always pretending to be a prostitute. The man was either her pimp or some friend of her's who was running for Congress. They would ask ACORN workers for help in hiding their income on taxes and in getting a home to turn into a brothel that they would then staff with underage girls from El Salvador, girls they were bringing over for prostitution. There are supposed to be many other tapes but so far we've seen four released. Baltimore, Washington, California and I forget the fourth. Ava?

Ava: The workers are taped and they don't bat an eye over the girls from El Salvador. Instead, they offer 'advice' such as, 'Make sure you enroll them in school. If you don't, they'll catch you that way.' That is so offensive and ACORN has a very bad reputation among Latinos. It's had that reputation for years. And those tapes of that White Anglo couple speaking to the African-American workers of ACORN just confirm every fear and rumor in the Latino community about ACORN. Right or wrong, they confirm it. This is a very big issue in the Latino community and it's been pushed aside by the left to yet again defend ACORN. Which is becoming an issue in the Latino community, how our interests are always buried and denied so that Anglo Whites can prop up African-Americans of questionable character. We're fully aware, in the Latino community, that when the Black-Brown divide is discussed, it's always our problem. It's always Latinos that are in the wrong. And it must be racism on our part. The hatred expressed so often by African-Americans at Latinos is never addressed. People like Amy Goodman took a serious hit in Latino communities last week as they sidestepped the larger issue of ACORN workers rushing to help, they thought, enslave Latino girls into prostitution.

Betty: I need to agree with Ava here. I have written at my site repeatedly about what is said about Latinos by my community. Especially when it's just us, when the only ones present are Blacks. I had a co-worker a few years ago who seemed sweet as can be. And she was. Except she was very prejudiced. I didn't find that out until the third time we went to lunch together. This time she wanted to drive. Fine. Except suddenly I Archie Bunker was behind the wheel. Every five seconds, she was on the horn. And she'd point to some car way ahead and say, "Damn Mexicans! They'll hit you. None of them have inusrance. They'll hit you and they'll run off." And that's the remark I can repeat. I was sitting there with my mouth just hanging open and I wasn't even in the mood to eat when we finally got to the Olive Garden or where ever we had been headed. But Amy Goodman and left media repeatedly take the stance that no Black person is ever racist and that in any conflict with a Black person -- or a liberal Black person -- the other person must be fault. Automatically. Whether it's Latinos, Aisan-Americans, Arab-Americans or whatever group. I completely support what Ava just said and I know she rarely goes to this topic for a number of reasons so I really, really need to support her on this.

Wally: Kat, Ava, C.I. and I are on the road every week. And last week, one of the biggest issues among Latinos in any group we spoke to about the illegal war was ACORN. Ava's not pulling something out of thin air. Those tapes have enraged a large number of Latinos who notice how it's not a problem to ACORN that Latinos are being enslaved into prostitution, underage Latinos. It's outrageous. And we heard about it over. Not on Pacifca Radio programs, mind you, no one wanted to acknowledge it there. But in real life, we heard it. And Latinos are getting damn sick of it.

Cedric: And they should be. The position you're talking about is strongest among the closeted Socialists and then the closeted Communists. And it's their natural fall back position. They ridicule and scorn people who blindly defend Israel -- and they should -- but they never grasp that they're like Zionists when it comes to the Black race. And it's racism. It's this notion that I or any other African-American is too simple minded to ever be guilty. I mean that's what Danny Schechter's doing. He's serving up Barack as victim. Poor Barack! Danny's got conspiracy theories where some secret from Barack's past is being used to blackmail him and force him to do things he doesn't believe in. There's this simplistic view of my race which includes the notion that we're never guilty of anything. And let's be really clear that if that White woman on the tape had said she was going to put a group of 15-year-old Black girls to work in a brothel, the ACORN workers would have immediately objected.

Trina: I heard about this issue from Latina friends at my church. It is a big issue to them. These women were so offended by the tapes -- I haven't seen the tapes, I'm speaking only of the offense which I've repeatedly heard about -- and that someone getting government funds would offer counsel on how to turn young Latinas into prostitutes. And my best friend tied the silence on this from the likes of Amy Goodman -- no outrage expressed -- to the 2008 efforts to ignore the Latino support of Hillary. They repeatedly lied, people like Amy Goodman, that Barack had greater support among Latinos and he never did. State after state, Hillary had more Latino support. And sticking with that, Texas Latino community members are still outraged that one person-one vote did not exist in their state's Democratic Party primary. Though their communities were more densely populated, their communites had less 'delegates' than did other communities. For those who don't know, Texas has a -- I'm blanking.

C.I.: Two-step.

Trina: Thank you. Their Democratic Party presidential primary is a two-step. They vote on a ballot in a primary setting. Then, after the primary ends, they have a caucus. Hillary won the primary. More Democrats voted for her in the primary than Barack. But Barack won the caucus and did so, in part, due to the fact that densely populated Latino communities were awarded less delegates than sparsely populated communities -- be they Anglo White communities or African-American ones. The Democratic Party systematically supresses the Latino vote in Texas. The same vote they depend upon in a general election. And where is the outcry over that. These things are noted and they're noted in my state by Latinas.

Jim: Ava, do you think there's a Black-Brown divide?

Ava: I think there's a divide for all races. I think there's miscommunication and that a real dialogue is needed. But such a dialogue in 2009 needs to start with the premise that it's 2009. I don't want a competition of the most wronged. We're all adults, we need to act like it and not play like any one group is immune from criticism. I think there is an Anglo Latino and Anglo White divide. I think that honest discussions could allow the divides to ease. I think media like Democracy Now! which pushes repeatedly that Latino issues only matter when contrasted with Anglo White issues do a lot to strengthen the Brown-Black divide. It gets real old when the repeated discrimination against Latinos by African-Americans is erased and not explored. It makes people angry and it doesn't increase a we're-all-in-this-together feeling. Instead, it makes people begin to think, "I better protect my own because no one else will."

Jim: Okay --

Ava: Sorry, I need to add something. I just realized how e-mails come in here worried that someone's mad at someone else. So let me add quickly that I have no problem with Betty or any one else here. But at Third, we are a mixture of races and ethnicities and religions and ages and we can and do speak honestly to one another. It's a real shocker to me that we can do this and not ask for a dime but Democracy Now!'s always sticking its hand in your pocket and never can do an honest discussion. There's no divide here because we do communicate. My whole point is that honest discussions would eliminate divides but what Amy Goodman and others serve up only fuel a divide.

Jim: Okay. Thank you for addressing the topic. Dona passed me a note and she has Ruth not speaking once and believes Stan spoke of the least of everyone who has spoken. So I'll toss out to you for the two biggest Iraq stories of last week?

Ruth: The biggest news? The biggest news was not covered by the outlets. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Iraq was news and it was barely covered. But, for me, the biggest news on Iraq last week emerged Friday morning when C.I. revealed the RAND report advising the US government how to renegotiate the SOFA, and cautioning that you could not wait until 2011 to do so, was a report commissioned by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. To me, that is huge, that remains huge and it really amazes me that we had to wait for C.I. to learn that. I have a few questions but I will wait and let Stan speak first.

Stan: Good because I think I have a similar question. I agree with Ruth that C.I. broke big news last week and I would say the second big Iraq news was also broken by C.I. and it is in Friday's snapshot. Brief background, until the start of this year, the US military protected the Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. They were given assurances that Nouri would not attack them. On July 28th, he did just that. Friday, C.I. broke the news that Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, told Congress, in open session, that the US had advance knowledge of the July assault. We already knew the US military did nothing, they were ordered to do nothing, and some were present outside the camp watching as the assault took place -- in which 11 were killed and hundreds wounded -- but Chris Hill told the Congress that we had advance knowledge. And did nothing. My question, like Ruth's I think, is, to C.I., why did you wait on those two?

C.I.: Is that your question, Ruth?

Ruth: Yes.

C.I.: In terms of the SOFA, the report was released in July, near the end. I didn't read it then. You can purchase it in book form which is what I have. You can also find it for free online -- PDF format warning, click here for report. I read it in August and it's a lot to unpack including the allegations or fears regarding Turkey. Briefly, the report argues that Turkey would most likely invade Iraq when the US leaves. I read the report in August. It's one of those things that waited. There were other things to cover. And each week the Turkish media was covering it in some form and it would almost get included but something else came along. When a friend pointed out the editorial in Hurriyet Daily News to me it was Thursday night. That morning, a US outlet was covering another aspect of the report so I could finally pull it all together and to add something so it wasn't just me saying: "___ reports and ___ reports . . .," I added what no one was telling you. The report advises the US Secretary of Defense, who requested the report, on not just what may happen but also on the need to start planning how to renegotiate the treaty now. In terms of Stan's Camp Ashraf issue. We -- Wally, Kat, Ava and I -- attended the hearings Chris Hill testified at. That was the House Foreign Relations Committe and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Jim asked for an issue to be saved for here. So I didn't go over the refugee issue in either Iraq snapshot from that week covering the hearings and the topic was saved for "Iraq" which ran here last week. The Senate hearing was in the afternoon and more reporters attended the morning hearing in the House. That was among the reasons I emphasized the Senate hearing in the snapshots. It's also true that the Senate allowed more time for each question and response session. 15 minutes per senator versus five minutes per representative in the House. Camp Ashraf supporters issued a press release following the House hearing. I didn't read all of that press release but assumed they'd covered it there. And I assumed someone had covered it somewhere. I was on the phone with a friend, an editor at a paper, Friday morning over a story he was assigning. And we were discussing Camp Ashraf and I mentioned Chris Hill's testifying that the US had advance knowledge and he told me he hadn't heard that. He had assigned a reporter to cover the House hearing and he hadn't heard about that. So I pulled out my notes and told him what was said. And because he follows all news coverage, the fact that he said it wasn't covered meant I'd have to work it into the snapshot somehow. But Thursday, before I'd dictated the snapshot, this is two Thursdays ago, there were two reporters that I know who covered the morning hearing, who were present for it anyway, and after that hearing ended, I did stop and say hello and we did talk about how shocking it was that Hill had just admitted to prior knowledge so I thought -- wrongly, I'm often wrong -- that this was going to be the lead item on the morning hearing and I thought I could focus on the afternoon hearing instead. It's also true that sometimes I bundle things for later snapshots, topics. Such as PTSD which will pop up in a snapshot shortly but I just haven't been in the mood to unpack that in limited time that I've had due to other developments in Iraq. And on that note, I'll toss to Elaine who has not spoken once during this roundtable.

Elaine: I almost got away with it. PTSD. One thing that worried me the most last week on that was a journal abstract which C.I. discovered. It's a journal for management and it seemed to be presenting a very limited view -- limited and limiting -- of PTSD veterans. We need to talk about PTSD and we need to do so honestly. But the fear is always that somehow your remarks will be used to say: "Oh, they're crazy! And they're dangerous!" They aren't "crazy." It's a war wound like any other war wound. But I know one article in particular, last week, a news report, read like "PTSD Veterans Are Nuts!" I may be too sensitive on the topic since that's what I primarily address in my practice now. But I saw the article and asked C.I., "Am I alone on this?" No. But I'm also aware that a news report has a limited amount of space. C.I., when covering crimes of veterans who may or may not suffer from PTSD, always tries to make space to include a disclaimer in terms of "Not every veteran suffering from PTSD engages in this kind of conduct" or something similar. I realize that newspapers may not have the space for that or it might get pulled out by editors sensitive to space concerns. I know it's a difficult topic to cover. I do hope that people following coverage grasp, whether it's siad or not, that PTSD comes in varying degrees and effects veterans in various ways as well as the fact that lack of treatment often leads to the most alarming cases that are more likely to be covered.

Jim: Okay. That's the roundtable. This is a rush transcript. Ava and C.I. took notes, someone else will type it up. Our e-mail address is
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