Sunday, December 06, 2009

Truest statement of the week

Not only did Obama condemn 30,000 troops to horror, with just one speech, he also condemned the real anti-war movement that was opposed to his policies from the beginning, to many more years of our sacrifice.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "30,000 Wrongs Won't Make it Right" (Cindy's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

Barack Obama's speech, and the policies embraced in it, and the sinister implications underlying it, are all abysmally awful. They are a death warrant not only for the thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians who will be killed in the intensified conflict, but also for the countless thousands of innocents yet to die in the coming gnerations of a world roiled and destabilized by an out-of-control empire.

-- Chris Floyd, "A Death Warrant for the Future" (Empire Burlesque).

Truest statement of week III

To all those who repeatedly claimed that, no matter what "mistakes" he might make and regardless of the scope of the devastating effects of those errors, Obama had to represent a markedly better choice than McCain, take note: in certain respects, Obama is far more dangerous than McCain could have been.

-- Arthur Silber, "A Deadly Liar and Manipulator" (The Power of Narrative).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday, another headache.

First let's talk who helped with this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Jess, and Ava,
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,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. And we thank Dallas for his help. So what did we come up with for this edition?

Truest statement of the week -- Cindy Sheehan grabbed this one. She's had at least three others this year.

Truest statement of the week II -- Chris Floyd's been a truest before but we're not sure if he's had one this year or not.

Truest statement of week III -- Arthur Silber grabs his first truest.

Editorial: War Paint and Soft Feathers -- C.I. came up with the title. (It was a song Cher recorded in the seventies.) We would have loved more time to work on this but we were tired and Jess was feeling sick due to a headache.

TV: Oh what a difference a name change makes -- Ava and C.I.'s masterpiece. Dona called it that and I (Jim) agree. After I read this outloud to everyone, Dona grabbed it and started reading over it again. She then told Ava and C.I. to table the second piece they were planning until next week. Says Dona: "This doesn't need anything distracting from it."

Book: The Battle of Seattle -- Our book discussion. This is a discussion. This is not, "On page 2 this happens, then on page 3 and by page 15 . . ." This is a critical article, not a book report. If you want a book report, you'll no doubt find many online. We recommend the book and we have a discussion about it.

Roundtable -- Dona and I feared the edition wasn't coming together so planned a quick roundtable. With Elaine at the opening and Marcia, Ty and Ruth at the end, we ended up having a much longer and stronger roundtable than we planned or expected. Mike has strong moments and pretty much everyone does. There's a wide range of topics. I note here that Ava and C.I. will be doing a second article. By the time this posted, we knew that wasn't the case but I don't ever ask for something to be pulled and didn't want to start now.

Iraq -- The Iraq article. There was so much more we wanted to write.

Wanted by the FBI: Diane Rehm and Barbara Slavin -- This is a short feature and we like it. It's got visuals. It's got less text than most of the features. It's got humor. It's got outrage. It's got it all.

Liar Supreme: Greg Mitchell -- Greg Mitchell is a jerk and he can't read.

Civil Rights Era Cold Cases -- We were asked if we would note this and we were happy to. Pass it around if you can.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Kat, Rebecca, Ruth, Marcia, Stan, Ann, Cedric and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we have for the week. We'll see you next Sunday. And remember . . .

War paint and soft feathers
Under the pale moon light
Doing what tribal laws forbid
As drums brought the silence of the night

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: War Paint and Soft Feathers

So Tuesday Barack Obama flaunted his true nature.

I am the war hawk you have been waiting for

It was all War Paint and Soft Feathers. With a huge helping of George W. Bush to top things off. Want to get the people on your side? Barack belives the easiest way is to scare them to death.

He called out 9-1-1 so often, he began to sound like he was in a bingo hall.

And the threats, the unknown threats, that are there, waiting, that he's going to save us from, that he is saving us from, Big Daddy.

What a load of s**t.

The more he tried to scare America to death, the more obvious it became he had nothing left to offer.

Barack's decided to escalate the Afghanistan War.

And the Cult of St. Barack responded how?

Tom-Tom Hayden declared he might just stop shaving his legs for Barack or at least scrape off a bumper sticker. And that was among the braver moves last week. The Cult of Saint Barack continued to look the other way. As Ava and C.I. document today, it's a huge difference from the way the left treated George W. Bush's surge.

It's not as if there's any big difference between the two 'plans' or, for that matter, the two men. And like Bush, Barry loves to play loose with the truth. Cedric's "Barry's boo-boos" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARRY BOMBS!" attempted to fact check Barry O and The Flapping Gums and quickly came up with two promises broken. 1) Last, last war suppemental, Barry swore April 9, 2009. Unlike George W. Bush, he wouldn't do this piecemeal stuff, he'd get the full cost and be open about it. This was his last war supplemental. Until now, of course. 2) He was going to end the Afghanistan War just like he closed Guantanamo. But he didn't close Guantanamo.

He didn't do anything.

He's the do-nothing president.

And he's about to leave the country. AGAIN.

We were asking where the ehtics were repeatedly when a friend who is a TV director asked if we'd heard about the new poll?

He may be talking about the Harvard poll. He wasn't sure. He half-watches TV which leads to interesting observations. That's not snark. By not fully paying attention, he usually grasps the message without the risk of indoctrination.

So what's the message?

Only the uneducated don't support Barack.

"It's just like they did with the Iraq War where they tried to make people think they were stupid if they didn't support the war," he explained. (He watches CNN, for those wondering.)

So it's more and more distraction. Don't be surprised if they repeat the lie about Barack getting more death threats than any president EVAAAAAR!

As C.I. reported on Thursday, that's a lie.

It was the Committee on Homeland Security hearing and US House Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton was repeating that claim when the Director of the Secret Service Mark J. Sullivan explained to her that was false.

How many times have you heard that lie and from how many 'trusted' 'voices'?

It's all about manufacturing consent and, right or left, big or small, nearly everyone's taking part. Independent media died a slow and agonizing death.


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Am The War Hawk You Have Been Waiting For"

TV: Oh what a difference a name change makes

We were watching Democracy Now! -- the shameless, self-plug and fanzine -- December 2nd like a lot of other lefties and, just like most, we were shaking our heads in disgust as well. But mainly, we felt like we were watching a repeat.

There was pathetic Dennis Kucinich, supposedly brought on to speak out against the Afghanistan War 'surge' that Barack Obama announced the night of December 1st:

And I think that all those who really support this President, who really like him -- and I like him -- need to challenge him on this. Because we can't just let this go by the boards because we may have some sympathetic feelings for the difficult task that he has undertaken as President of the United States.


It can be challenged without making President Obama the issue.

What a pathetic excuse for a member of Congress. It is about Barack, he is the issue. He is the one sending the additional troops to Afghanistan. That was his decision. And pathetic Dennis Kucinich would have no problem calling out George W. Bush but when it comes to Barack it's time to say "I like him" and he's not the issue and we have "sympathetic feelings for the difficult task". What the hell is that crap?

Speaking only for us -- and speaking honestly -- we never had "sympathetic feelings for the difficult task" George W. Bush faced. Our feelings were the idiot thought he was ready to be in the Oval Office. He wanted the job, he got it, we'll judge his performance. The same applies to Barack. But namby, pamby fat asses like Dennis Kucinich are the reason that the left couldn't even get the Congressional switchboards ringing over this issue last week. When the left needed to hear outrage and anger, needed motivation, there was little Denny Kucinich, tiny penis in hand, telling everyone to chill-ax and it's no big deal.

It is a huge deal and Barack Obama is a War Hawk.

But facts are always hard to find on Democracy Now! which is how we got this laughable claim from Amy Goodman, "Congressman Kucinich ran for President against then Senator Obama." We'll deal with a judgment call in a second. We agree with the complaints, but that's a judgment call. Let's deal first with the facts. Dennis Kucinich did not run for president against Barack Obama. Dennis Kucinich's name was in the running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. There's a world of difference. (Those running for president in 2008 included: Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, John McCain and Barack Obama.) As for ever being "against" Obama, Dennis is a whore and a stupid whore.

He imploded his own campaign and created a lake of ill will that floods over anytime he pulls a stunt like he did last week on Democracy Now! Dennis Kucinich allegedly stood for peace. Iowa doesn't vote in a primary. They have a caucus. It has many rounds. People switch sides throughout the rounds. Dennis Kucinich told his supporters to go to Barack Obama in Iowa. Barack's 'win' in Iowa was so impressive that he got non-stop publicity. But the fact was, his 'win' was unimpressive. Other candidates forked over delegates including Bill Richardson (Richardson's campaign ordered/instructed his delegates to go to Barack). Now Iowa had three front runners (according to the media): Barack, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Dennis hates women (check out that forever evolving abortion position) so he was never going to go with Hillary even if she announced an underground railroad for all enlisted service members to Canada and led the railroad. So that left John Edwards or Barack Obama. Which one of the two was promising to end the Iraq War and to do so quickly? It was John Edwards. If Edwards had come out ahead in Iowa, it would have been a very different race. Poser Barack would have been out and it would have been a fight between Edwards and Hillary.

Dennis didn't care about peace -- he cared about the sweet ass deal he cut for himself with the Obama campaign (a deal, not surprisingly, he's never discussed publicly). It's the same sort of deal that he cut for himself at the DNC convention in 2004 when he was supposed to be fighting to get a peace plank calling for immediate withdrawal into the party platform. Instead, he went along with Sandy Berger and the sweet ass deal they cut. Dennis always looks out for Dennis. While the peace movement repeatedly thinks he's standing with them, Dennis is always setting his end up.

Dennis self-presents well, he just lacks of the desire or skill to back up his words.


Amy Goodman played 524 words Barack spoke in his latest bad speech. Barack was pushing a "surge" and remember how we said this felt like a repeat?

Bush had a "surge" in Iraq. January 11, 2007, Amy Goodman played some of his speech. Last week, Barack got 524 words. In 2007, George W. Bush got 437 words. See a problem?

Bush's words shared the segment with two guests who refuted the claims he made in his speech. Barack's words shared the segment with pre-taped (before the speech was given) bland statements from Afghans. We're not criticizing the Afghans, we are noting that Barack's lies were not challenged in the segment that feature them -- the segment that allowed him 100 more words than George Bush was allowed -- and note, Bush didn't just speak about a surge, he spoke about going after Iran and Syria in the same speech and that's part of what Goodman included in her broadcast.

There are many interesting differences in the way Goodman handled a 'surge' December 2, 2009 and the way she did on January 11, 2007.

For example, Leslie Cagan stated, "This war has to end. It never should have started. It was a war totally based on lies. It has to end. It has to end now." Sadly, Leslie wasn't talking about Afghanistan last week, she was a guest on the 2007 show. To clarify, Leslie wouldn't have said a damn thing like that if she'd been a guest on last week's show. She's a Whore for Barack. The Cult of St. Barack.

So instead we got Andrew Bacevich 'bravely' declaring, "I would argue that today President Obama has been similarly ill-served by equally unimaginative advisers: people like National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- all of whom I think adhere to an existing consensus with regard to national security policy, a consensus that was affirmed and strengthened as a consequence of the 9/11 attacks and which to the present moment, at least within Washington, among our leading politicians, has not been questioned despite the failures of the past eight or so years." That's a lot of words from a man who voted for George W. Bush and spent the 90s crucifying Bill and Hillary Clinton to anyone who'd listen. Yeah, so it's not surprising that in Bacevich's mind, the people to attack are Hillary and everyone except Barack who's been "ill-served". Ill-served by whom?

By the people he selected?

Can't state that. Barack As Victim requires that he always be robbed of agency, that he always be the powerless victim.

Barack made the decision he wanted to make. He made the decision and all the conservatives who put Bush into office can sharpen their knives for Hillary one damn more time but it won't change the fact that it was Barack's decision. It won't change the fact that Bacevich is a pathetic excuse for a man.

He was joined by another, Nir Rosen, looking like Mike Meyers in The Love Guru and pandering like crazy with statements such as, "Even if Obama hadn't wanted to escalate the troops, he is under so much political pressure that he would of had to, but I would have at least liked to hear the words Kashmir and Palestine." Again, he's robbed of agency. Poor Barack, "under so much political pressure." Ourselves, we never cared about any real or imagined "political pressure" Bush was under and we don't give a damn about it with Barack.

You go out for a job and you don't know what the job entails? That's your problem. You know what it entails ahead of time? Then stop sniveling and whining and do your damn job.

Basically, Decmember 2nd was Goody airing a two-years-plus-old program but air brushing out various details. She retouched all the truth.

For example, not only was Barack never called out but they never noted any actions to protest the "surge." Despite the fact that actions were being called. Despite the fact that actions took place while Barack was delivering the speech.

The George Soros Collective has ruled: There will be no blame for the "surge" in Afghanistan unless we can push it onto Hillary, there will be no acknowledgments of anger or objections and we will not inform the people of any events to protest.

Last week, Congress was underwhelmed by the response from the public to the news of Barack's planned "surge." Why was that?

Because they were repeatedly instructed not to be outraged, urged to feel sorry for Poor Little Barry and never informed of any real objections. Only abstractions like an Afghan speaking weeks ago about the Afghanistan War. There was no acknowledgment of the outrage, no method to address it.

Last week was a study of suppression and of media manipulation. It can best be seen as a population experiment and you got a good look at who's working for you (Dennis Bernstein and the crew at KPFA's Flashpoints Radio being among the few who are) and who's working for everyone else. But that's another story.

Book: The Battle of Seattle

Jim: This is a book discussion. Repeating: "Book discussion." This is not a book report. This is a book discussion. If you're not a critically thinking adult, you should probably find something else to read. We're discussing the new book from AK Press, The Battle of the Story of The Battle Of Seattle which is written by David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit. We've limited this roundtable to a small set of people, The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Dallas who is our link locator and an honorary Third-er; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Except for Elaine, everyone's read the book. I've asked Elaine to participate for another reason that will be obvious near the end of the discussion. Ty, give us an overview of the book's topic.

the battle of seattle

Ty: The World Trade Organization scheduled their Ministerial Conference in Seattle in 1999. The conference was to begin on November 30th; however, activists turned out in huge numbers and shut the conference down. The Seattle protests were seen as the start of a a new era of activism. In many ways, September 11, 2001 would be used to attack them as if al Qaeda in Iraq were somehow activists. Many tactics of suppression and distortions and attacks followed 9-11. Attempts at re-writing the Seattle activism to attack the activists pre-ceded 9-11 but a stronger wave of attacks emerged post-9-11 along with a stronger wave of government repression. David Solnit and his sister Rebecca Solnit were among those organizing against the WTO back in 1999. In the press release on the book, it's noted: "From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like."

Jim: We'd planned to review the book the Sunday after it was released. That did not happen. We'd ordered copies at our local bookstore and were left waiting and waiting. We also heard from people who ordered it from AK Press who were also waiting. Dona's going to address some of that.

Dona: We contacted AK Press last week when our copies finally came in because that meant we could do this book discussion and one of the things we needed to address was whether or not AK Press could fulfill orders for the book? AK Press advises: "We apologize for the delay in getting David Solnit & Rebecca Solnit's new book out to folks who preordered it - it arrived from the printers a week later than expected as the truck carrying it was involved in an accident, but luckily no one was hurt, and the books arrived safe and sound, if a bit late. So feel free to order copies through the AK Press website, or from your local bookstore, we'll be filling orders ASAP now that we have books in stock."

Dallas: And that's fine but I need to speak to reality. I took off last weekend because C.I. asked me to. She knew if Jim found out what I'm about to share, he'd want to do a story last Sunday. I'm one of the many who ordered the book from AK Press. In fact, I pre-ordered. I pre-ordered and I chose priority shipping to be sure I'd have the book in time for the discussion that was planned here. November 24th, I phoned their number, (510) 208-1700, to find out what was up with the order since my book had still not arrived. I was told I pre-ordered, which is true. I then pointed out that the book was now a week late. At which point, I was told that there had been an accident, presumably the truck accident Dona just referenced. "Are the books in?" I asked. I was told they were. "Okay," I said, "so I can expect my book to be sent out today?" That was Tuesday November 24th. It needed to be sent out, I had paid for priority shipping. I was told it would be sent out today. It wasn't. I've got the envelope and we can scan it in if we need to. The postmark is November 27th. So we've got a nice little story about a truck accident -- no one was hurt! -- that delayed the book by a week but the reality is that November 24th, I was told the books were in. I was told that by AK Press. They told me the books were in on the day before. I really shouldn't have had to ask if my book would be sent that day because if they got them on Monday and I asked for priority mail shipping and the books were already a week late, the ordered books should have been sent out on Monday the 23rd.

Jim: Agreed. To repeat, you spoke to AK Press on November 24th, the books were in, you were told your book would be mailed that day. That didn't happen. It was instead mailed Friday, November 27th?

Dallas: Correct.

Jim: Thank you, Dallas. Dallas helps us out each weekend. He hunts down links, he's a sounding board and he does a great deal more than that. We've repeatedly offered to list him as one of us here at Third but he respectfully declines. And if I had known about that last weekend, I would have insisted we write an article because we have gotten e-mails on this subject, from people who pre-ordered the book and didn't get it. We're moving to Betty now. Betty, before you go into your comments, explain your site's name.

Betty: Sure. My site is called "Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man." For the first years, it was a comic novel. Betinna was a 'third-worlder' whom the 'great' Thomas Friedman had so kindly made his wife. Betinna's life was poverty and drudgery. She frequently remembered things that made no sense, flashes. And after she stopped taking the 'vitamins' Thomas Friedman provided her with, her memory slowly returned. She wasn't from another country, she was from New Jersey. She'd been kidnapped by Nicky Kristoff and Thomas Friedman. The novel dealt with globalization and much more. Thomas Friedman is not a great man, as Betinna quickly learned. My site's now just a blog. I wasn't prepared to see it through to the end because the ending was very dark and required the death of Betinna whom I liked forever but I really grew to love and she became like a real person to me. So that's the backstory on my site. In the early days, I'd usually have each chapter be a twist on or a response to a recent idiotic statement or column by Thomas Friedman. So I had to read his columns and, yes, his bad books. All of which I offer as a preface to point out that page 16 contains an error. Thomas Friedman's book is The World Is Flat, not The Earth Is Flat. That would especially stand out to me. Other than that, I didn't spot any errors. I did frequently feel lost in the book's first pages.

Ava: I would agree with that and include the foreword by Anuradha Mittal. My own opinon is that Rebecca Solnit's chapter should have opened the book because it's the one that deals clearly and chronologically with what happened in Seattle in 1999 -- and the lead up to Seattle.

Betty: Going in, I knew a very small bit about Seattle. Basically enough to nod along during a conversation and toss out one intelligent sounding sentence. So I really did need a walk through and, like Ava points out, that comes in Rebecca Solnit's chapter which starts on page 57. And by the way, we recommend this book. We think it's a book you need in your collection. If we haven't already gotten that across, note that we're doing a book discussion and we don't enjoy doing those anymore.

Jim: Right. We think this is an important book, we think it's one you need to read. And, Betty and Ava, it's going to get a lot more critical as the discussion goes along, so speak freely. Trust me, you're not going to be perceived as "antis" by the end of the discussion.

Betty: Good to know because I like this book but it's a serious book and it requires a serious discussion. As Ava pointed out, Rebecca Solnit's providing the walk through. David's got too much to cover and he skips around in the time frame and he's actually focused on many years after the Battle for Seattle.

Jim: Wally?

Wally: I'm going to focus on one aspect only. That's because Kat, Ava and I heard C.I.'s thoughts during a campus visit last week, a professor was doing a teach-in with photocopies of this book. That's, in fact, how Ava, Kat, C.I. and I read it on the road last week, from those photocopies. So I'm going to go to something else. This book has many, many illustrations. Most of these are historical ones, ones used to get the word out on the protests long before September 1999. Dana Schuerholz's has a "Globalize This!" poster that runs on page 72 that especially stands out. But there are posters and fliers and photographs that are really important to telling the story and a lot of care was obviously taken in selecting which ones to include. On the illustration, my negative criticism is that a map appears of the Seattle area for the protests and that map's on page 107. I would have put it much further up in the book, possibly in the first pages of the book, just so everyone would have some idea of the area the protests took part in.

Jim: So the "Globalize This!" was your favorite? Why?

Wally: It had a . . . insolence? It had an attitude. The main image is a guy with "Who What Me?" on his chest. It was kind of the Beastie Boys of protest. And there's an interesting play of light on the guy and a differing contrast on the guy standing a little behind him. It's just an arresting image for a number of reasons. It grabs your attention instantly. And I want to mention the artist one more time, Dana Schuerholz.

Jess: And in terms of the police repression and brutality in Seattle, Lauren E. Sayoc provides a number of strong photos.

Jim: Jess, what's the big point of the book? If the authors have a message, what is it briefly?

Jess: The 1999 Seattle protest took months and months of planning and that people who ignore the planning and the networking and buy the 'spontaneous' angle are doomed to have less than successful actions.

Jim: I'd agree that's the take-away. Ty, you had a big surprise and this would probably be a good place to go into that.

Ty: David Solnit's pages, which start the book, are about what he sees as the distortions of the actions in Seattle and that includes dismissing the activists as "anti-globalists" when they are anti-so-called 'free' trade, not anti-globalization. Solnit's point is that the battle against 'free' trade is a global movement and the activists in Seattle were part of a global movement. And why I find that surprising is because -- remember Ava and C.I. call it "Crapapedia" -- I went by Wikipedia when Jim told me he was going to ask me for background. So here's my surprise. David Solnit's written at length about various distortions he feels various outlets have made -- including a film -- and yet, Wikipedia, which anyone can edit, isn't something David's taken on. Here's just one paragraph from Wikipedia's brief entry:

Anti-globalization activists made headlines around the world in 1999, when they forced the Seattle WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 to end early with direct action tactics. The goal that they had, shutting down the meetings, was directly accomplished by placing their bodies and other debris between the WTO delegates and the building they were meant to meet in. Activists also engaged in property destruction as a direct way of stating their opposition to corporate culture.

Ava: And as Ty noted, C.I. and I have long called it "Crapapedia" -- and for reasons like that. The activists did not engage in property destruction. That's a generalization and the bulk of the activists did not engage in property destruction. Solnit writes that out of the thousands and thousands of activists, only a dozen, those were with a group known as "black bloc," were engaged in that and that was after the battle as I understand it from the book, I wasn't there.

Dona: Right and I agree with Ty, it is rather strange that David Solnit and others involved in the 1999 actions haven't taken on Wikipedia which a huge number of people use. As Ty points out, it was one of the stops he made while looking for background information and we are all rightly skeptical of Wikipedia because we've found so many errors there. But it is a huge resource and the resource for many so it is distressing that no one's bothered to take on Crapapedia.

Jim: Okay, we may or may not come back to other elements. The next section may just be C.I. I asked Elaine to participate because there's a college story I need her to share. I know it from her and from Rebecca and I doubt C.I. will tell it the way I want it told. Now David Solnit does not start at the beginning with his section of the book. He starts, more or less, with learning Stuart Townsend is going to make a movie on the subject. He is not happy with the movie. He is not happy with it at all. Ava, after it's been made, he talks to a documentary film maker, Donna Read, who states, "To not go directly to the people directly involved -- the source of a story -- goes against all the training and experience I have had making documentaries, your first step is talking to the people who were there and it's even more important to do this for a docudrama." Your response before we go further?

Ava: Documentary film makers should stick to what they know which, hopefully, is documentaries. She knows nothing about the making of a theatrical film and she needs to sit her ass down. Townsend's making a film years after an event took place, it's an event that's been heavily covered by the media and he's done research and read various things on it including the accounts of some activists. He's not required to speak to anyone, he's not making a documentary and I wouldn't call the film a docudrama either. Donna Read would do well to shut her mouth and sit her ass down. She doesn't know the first thing she's talking about and I have a feeling that's the aspect you, Jim, are going to tackle with C.I.

Jim: You are correct. C.I. read the book and disagrees with nearly all of David Solnit's judgment calls, assumptions, etc. re: film. In his part of the book, that's all he's covering: the film. Anything he brings up otherwise, he's only bringing up to discount the film. David Solnit's section of the book is pages five through fifty-five. The film, directed by Stuart Townsend is The Battle Of Seattle. The book is, in David Solnit's section, about the the battle for the story of Seattle with the film. He makes several assumptions and I guess I'll toss to C.I. there.

C.I.: He says at one point, as he's trying to impact a film in progress, that it's better to do that then than just show up and protest after the film's made. No. It's not better, it's the exact same. Certain things can be changed. A line can be dropped, for example. But once you're shooting the film, it's too late for the kind of changes David Solnit thought he could do. The ending, for example, is already set. And this is not a studio film so the vision will be followed, meaning there will be no reshoots because preview audiences didn't like some aspect. David Solnit got involved way too late.

Jim: C.I. wasn't a drama major in college. She did take part in a play largely because she was really disgusted with sexism and racism that she felt were in the productions and tired of arguing about it afterwards. So maybe David Solnit should become an actor? I'm joking but I actually wrote the first two sentences ahead of time and it's funny how well it dove tails with what C.I. just said. Okay, Elaine and Rebecca went to college with C.I. and I wanted one of them in on this. Elaine, tell me about the play and I mean the reaction. In other words, what C.I. will omit or down play.

Elaine: Gotcha. C.I. was amazing. I knew C.I. could move a crowd with a political speech, obviously. We had classes together and we were on the road together speaking out against America's earlier illegal war and quagmire. But this wasn't C.I., this was a character. It was a character she was playing on stage. The play itself was an embarrassment. It was 'experimental' which really means the one in charge didn't know what they were doing. It cobbled together some prose and some other things and then tried to make it a play. And what it cobbled together were showy moments. And those moments went to the drama pets. And they should have walked away with that play but C.I. stole that play. C.I. came on stage and you could feel a charge. I'm talking about the opening night. There were attempts at humor in the first five minutes of the play and no one laughed. C.I. came on stage the first time about seven minutes in. She got a huge laugh right off the bat. It was amazing. She then grabbed the audience with other elements and you could feel all this energy. Then she was gone until the end of the play at which point it perked up again. The director immediately had to find more spots for C.I. because she was the only thing about the play that worked. You should have heard the ovation she got. She wasn't a drama major, she didn't do play after play. The director's boyfriend came to see the play at a Sunday matinee, by which point C.I. was one of the stars in terms of time on stage and clearly the star to the audience, and he immediately offered C.I. a role in his upcoming off Broadway play. She was amazing and it completely took me by surprise. I assumed she would be good because she usually accomplished everything she set her mind to but this shocked me, how amazing she was. She had to be injected into a funeral, her character, for example and the director -- who hated C.I. -- just put her in the scene with no lines. You could see everyone looking at her in the audience -- I went to almost every performance, if I couldn't Rebecca did and that's because we knew what a battle it was for C.I. -- and they were all waiting for her to do something. She had no line, but she did grab a moment following a big speech in that scene where the play just seemed to die and do this little bit of physical business that actually had some in the audience doing audible heavy sighs. The audience loved her. The director had to give her lines in the funeral scene after that. The play was wretched. It was about war and about this and about that and just gobbled and cobbled together. From about every public domain source in the world with the director's name slapped on as a "writer." If you can believe it. But C.I. made it work. And by the fourth performance, the play was solid. Not because it was written well but because C.I. had been added to at least every other scene and you couldn't take your eyes off her. For example, her character's husband is going off to war in an early scene. And she's got a few lines that really aren't that much on paper. She's paired with a drama major who's all over the stage and C.I. just brought this stillness to the scene, this weight to it that added what was missing which was war is not a game. The scene was supposed to play as the guy's big scene and he was yammering away about the fun he'd have with the boys fighting and "slogging up hills" -- I remmember that line because late in the run, C.I. would toss it back at him in an adlib -- and, remember this was while the US was in an illegal war and C.I. seemed the only character on stage outraged by war or effected by war. The play itself could easily, take C.I. off the stage, have been a homage to war.

Jim: So there's the review. And Rebecca and Elaine have both told me that story over the years. If I hear it from C.I., I don't hear any of that or any of the praise but I do hear about the work, so I want you to talk about that experience, C.I., from the work point and start with the attitudes going in.

C.I.: Okay. I wasn't a drama major, as Elaine pointed out. I was offended by one play after another, including the staging of a Moliere. I always went to the productions on campus to show support but they were really bad. And there was a play right before this that was so racist and so sexist and it didn't come from the text, it came from the staging. And I'd had it because it was so offensive and was complaining to everyone including the head of the theater department and everyone wanted to offer a hundred and one excuses and finally the department head said if I really wanted to change things like that, I should participate. Meaning be in one of the plays. That required an audition and I got picked. Then came rehearsals. I was repeatedly ignored. The director ignored me in rehearsals, if I asked a question before or after rehearsal, I would be told we'd get to it in a rehearsal and we never did. We had a two hour bloc scheduled on a Friday, the actor playing my husband going to war and myself, with the director. I'd assumed we'd finally address my questions and issues in that two hour bloc. We didn't. It was all about the male character -- and the actor wasn't to blame on that, it was the director. After that, I knew I was on my own and I knew I could look like a fool because I'd had no direction. There was no character on the page. That's because, as Elaine pointed out, public domain scenes cobbled together from different sources. So I had to figure out the character on my own. And I did that and in rehearsals I wouldn't be allowed to say my lines because the director wanted to work on something else. I wasn't even given blocking. Fine. He, the director, never saw what I was going to do until the dress rehearsal. At which point he had a fit. He got in my face and yelled and screamed at me and I slapped him and told him no one talks to me like that. I don't think anyone had ever stood up to him. He said something to the effect of "fine, I'm done with you, you'll embarrass yourself at tomorrow's opening." That didn't happen. I was okay on stage. But that was a really pivotal point because you have to listen to yourself and that's what I took away from that. I had to listen to myself to find that character. Then once I found her, the director didn't care enough to know about her. Suddenly, he cares in that he wants me to change this and change that and do this and do that. No. I know the character, I know what she thinks, I know what she feels. The character is alive and no one's going to change her. And you have to stand up for it and if you don't you've lost because if you give up what you believe in and get applause, you didn't earn it. And if you give up what you believe in and don't get applause? You're a loser twice over because you let someone else talk you out of what you believed in and they were wrong. After we opened, he still hated me but the audience was comfortable with me and he had to give me more scenes. He would try to tell me how I would play these new scenes. He didn't even know the character and he's telling me how to play scenes? No. And that's what I said. And I would and still do say "No" on almost every creative suggestion. People know that about me. I will say "no" right off the bat unless I really trust you. And that's to protect the integrity. Now I will think about what you said and if you're right, I'll come back and say, "You're right about that." But you have to fight to create. And that's part of the power of "no" that I've always spoken of online. A lot of people think I got the idea from rape issues or activism, the slogan "No means no!" No, I got it from knowing that you don't let someone mess with what you're creating and I carried that over into projects that I would accept or that I wouldn't. No is very powerful and most artists know that.

Jim: So let's pretend Dave Solnit's coming to you with notes as you're directing?

C.I.: I would've cussed him out. I would've first off explained to him how limited his vision was. He's all upset in the book -- and I like the book and I like his writing and I recommend the book, but we're talking about art and that's my field. He's all upset in the book about how he and others weren't talked to. But do you see him bringing police officers from Seattle to the set? No. It's not David Solnit's story. There's no character named David Solnit in the movie. It's the story of Seattle and Seattle's the only character that matters. Everyone else is being created and that includes the activists, and that includes the police, and that includes the reporters, everyone. It is not David's story. And the refusal to grasp that is really amazing. He is a part of what happened in Seattle but he's not a part of Solnit's movie. And I feel bad because I don't think David's going to grasp that. And disclosure, I know Charlize [Theron] and Stuart [Taylor] and attended a viewing of this film early on. Stuart was very nice to have taken input but what David doesn't seem to understand is the director is going to do what the director wants to do.

Jim: Okay, from an acting standpoint?

C.I.: David seems to think that if Stuart didn't use something it was just because Stuart didn't like it. That's not true. Some of David and his friends' suggestions and work were shown. The actors loathed it. For obvious reasons that escape David. Antonia Juhasz is not a screenwriter. Screenwriting is visual. And to try to write the ending for a film when the director is already happy with the ending already written? That's insane. But in terms of acting, let's say I was an actor in the film. Let's say I was Woody [Harrelson]. I'm not wanting notes at this late date. We're filming. The notes I need at this point are blocking and "more" or "less." I don't need you trying to reconfigure my character. I read the script a long time ago, I signed on based on what I read. That's the character I felt I could play and now you -- someone who is not the producer and is not the director -- is trying to monkey around with my role or my characterization? That's insanse. It's offensive from an artistic standpoint. What's next? Line readings!

Jim: I'm glad you brought that up because, along with Juhasz attempting to write the film's epilogue, the group tried to 'fix' things by writing suggested dialogue. Your thoughts?

C.I.: The two examples given are not dialogue. They're a bad parody and both, despite being dialogue for two diferent characters -- Lou and Jay -- read the exact same. Are they the same character? No. So why are they talking the same way? In addition, it's on the nose dialogue and, no, not everyone speaks like that, not everyone says exactly what they're thinking. Solnit's collective wrote dull, leaden dialogue. And they seemed unaware that it was way too late for that dialogue. Let's say I'm playing Lou and we're filming and Stuart comes over to me and says, "Hey, this collective of outside activists have written this piece of dialogue that they think would make your character better." I'm going to look at that and see this blah-blah-blah nature of the dialogue and object but, more importantly, I'm going to object that their dialogue is exposition and it is explaining my character -- my character I've already created a backstory for and my backstory didn't include a younger sister or a love of the Zapatistas. I've been using my backstory to play the scenes filmed thus far and now you're saying I should play like I have a kid sister and a love for the Zapatistas? Do we also want to, mid-movie, suddenly add a limp for my character? There is a creative process here that is not being understood. When the cameras have started rolling, you can fine tune but you cannot ask an actor to suddenly alter their entire portrayal. It's an insult. If I'm Lou, I know Lou, I have a concept of a day in the life of Lou before the scenes for the script begin and after the scenes end. I know what she eats, I know which side of the bed she sleeps on, I know all these details because what wasn't in the script are details I've created on my own. And now, as I'm playing this character and, as we're already shooting, some people not even involved in the film are showing up making suggestions for changes and new dialogue? No, I will not be receptive. Betty was talking about, earlier, how Betinna, the lead in her online novel, became real to her. That's what happens when you're creating. The characters become real to you. I'm still haunted by some characters. And this idea that lines are the way to create or fix a character? I mean come on. And that's probably why Jim wanted that story. The play back in college, it wasn't a character on the page. I made the character. I created the backstory, I made sense of it, I turned it into a full-bodied person on stage and did that even in scenes where I might not have a significant line. The sign of a film noivce? Someone who piles dialogue onto the character to explain who the character is. In film, "it's show, don't tell." That's the key phrase.

Jim: David Solnit feels Woody's character comes off more sympathetic and that changes would have made the other characters more sympathetic.

C.I.: Would you read his critique of other characters.

Jim: Sure. "The four organizer characters in the movie are involved in forest issues and animal rights -- one of them burned down an animal lab. Although animal rights/liberation and forest organizers have clearly articulated the connection, many people don't see these struggles as related to themselves or their communities. Jay, one of the Direct Action Network characters in the movie, has an axe to grind since his brother was killed in a forest protest, and Lou seems to have a personal issue with her father. The myth here is that people protest or rebel because they -- not the system -- have a problem. The activists, though intended to be humanized, are actually protrayed as 'fringe' or non-mainstream without jobs, families, homes, or lives beyond the protests, in contrast to the very mainstream cop with a family, home, and job, who is played powerfully by Woody Harrelson, the most three-dimensional and, I supsect for many movie viewers, the most sympathetic character."

C.I.: Thank you. First, Woody's an incredible actor. He's amazing. He's going to be amazing in almost any film because he's an amazing actor. As for 'fringe' characters, last time I checked, Jim Stark was a 'fringe' character, Bree Daniels was a 'fringe' character, Stanley Kowalski was a 'fringe' character. I could go on and on but Rebel Without A Cause, Klute and A Streetcar Named Desire are all memorable because of their lead 'fringe' characters. David Solnit, surprisingly, seems to be imposing some sort of morality trip on these characters. He's afraid most will identify with Woody's character but, at the same time, he's upset that someone's given a brother killed in a protest when that backstory explains a character and can create sympathy for the character with the audience. David's critique, in the quote Jim just read, is scattershot and all over the place. He's a bleeding wound on the page. I'm not making fun of him in that statement. It was very difficult for me to read his section of the book because his pain is very real and not at all hidden. But part of his pain goes to the fact that he doesn't understand film -- just because you rented a DVD doesn't make you an expert on film -- and because he doesn't understand dialogue, doesn't understand characterization and a host of other things. What he needed most was someone to tell him, back when the film was being shot, the truth and no one did.

Jim: Meaning what?

C.I.: I have a friend who wrote a book that mainly exists to rebut her portrayal in a film -- where she was portrayed by another friend of mine, by the way. I told her it was too personal for her and she would not be happy and she shouldn't cooperate with the film. And that's before we even get into who the director was. But I warned her that she cared too much -- for obvious reasons -- about what would go onscreen and that the smartest thing to do was to have no involvement with the film. At first, that's what she was going to stick to. Then, after casting, she changed her mind. She would speak with the director. She would loan things from her life to be used in the film. She couldn't understand why the actress playing her didn't want to meet her. Why would she? She's not playing you as you are today, she's playing you thirty years ago. Now you have wisdom and can make sense of the events. You couldn't back then. The actress, my friend, made the decision not to meet her and made it for those reasons and I respect those reasons and explained them to my other friend. But it never sunk in. And it's this ugly issue to this day. And that's going to happen when you're that into something, when you feel it's your life, that's going to happen. And if someone else is in charge of a film, you cannot impose your vision on them because they're not going to listen -- no matter how nice they are to you, they are not going to listen. It's not how the creative process works. David thinks if certain things were done, he'd be happy. He was never going to be happy with The Battle Of Seattle. Someone should have told him that and the film could have been made and he could have ripped it apart in a blistering critique after it started showing up at theaters. Instead, he's clearly hurting over this still and he's clearly blaming himself as much as he's blaming the film makers.

Jim: Okay. Interesting. Anyone else see any wounds?

Ava: Absolutely. What's that s**t in his section where he's suddenly attacking celebrities and lumping in Angelina Jolie with Bono? That's nothing but David Solnit having a tantrum on paper. And Angelina and Bono are not the same. Angelina works with the United Nations which requires a whole set of protocol that is set in stone. People never seem to grasp that. Now you can be opposed to the UN -- many people are -- and you can call out her work on those grounds and many other grounds but don't confuse what she's doing with what Bono does. Bono's not working with the UN and Bono's responsible for his statements and actions.

Kat: And --

Jim: Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills).

Kat: -- who was the idiot who didn't see it coming on Bono? Bono is the whore currently slobbering over Barack Obama. He's the whore who previously slobbered over George W. Bush. Rolling Stone -- as this site and my site repeatedly point out -- asked him his thoughts on the Iraq War and he wouldn't give them. This idea that he's political is a damn joke. I've documented all the war games he tries to push, his war on Hugo Chavez and much more. You have to be pretty foolish to listen to Bono when he comes calling.

Jim: That was Kat and she said she wasn't participating, she was just listening. She changed her mind, that's fine. But I think C.I. wants to say something on Bono.

C.I.: Bono was given his political coming out in the US by Tom Hayden. That should tell you all you need to know. He's a fake and he's a phony. That includes his laughable reputation for being faithful to his wife. He's always been a fraud and your first clue should have been that when he emerged he refused to discuss Ireland while repeatedly wanting credit for being raised in 'war-torn' Ireland. He's a fake and he's a fraud. That didn't happen last year, that didn't happen this decade. He's been a fraud forever and a day and I knew that before I attended his 1987 coming out party in LA. I do know Angelina and I'm getting damn tired of people attacking her. I've known Angelina since she was a little girl. There's no reason for David Solnit to include her in the book and it struck me as bitchy on his part and the only thing I disliked about the book.

Jim: Okay. But someone's going to e-mail -- -- and say, "But you're disagreeing with him." Because on the faux left, everyone agrees and they do that, on the faux left, because they're pretty much all funded by George Soros. I'm only semi-joking. But someone's going to say, "you're disagreeing with him! How can you say you like the book!"

C.I.: I recommend the book strongly. I think it's got many strong parts and that includes the sections I'm responding to above. I think David Solnit will write a more encompassing book further in the future on this subject as he gets more distance from the fresh wounds. But I like the book. I also like art and I defend art and I won't sit by silently and pretend like David's criticism is full-bodied. He sees things only from his end which is fine but when he not only wants to critique but also wants to complain that his ideas weren't utilized the way he wanted, well he should have tried to learn about the creative process.

Jim: We're pausing for a moment because Ava's got her hand up. C.I.'s taking notes right now but Ava's finishing up with what C.I. just said. And now she's done. Ava?

Ava: I think that's very much a key to David Solnit's section. He only sees it from his end. That's why he and the other activists are talking to Stuart and he's complaining, in the book, about Stuart not speaking to them but he's not at all concerned that Stuart's not spoken with the police. It's not about the best movie for David, it's about his own advocacy and his own interest group and I think that's especially clear in the celebrity section. He's whining in that section. It was one-sided and featured a lousy quote.

Jim: Lousy quote?

Ava: He quotes Stephen Duncombe who argues that celebrities are interesting because "in present-day politics citizens are barely noticed." So we love celebrities because they get noticed. How far back does "present-day" go? Do we want to go back to Clara Bow? We can go back further and use stage celebrities. There is a serious issue of facile responses that passes itself off as thought on the left -- and I am a lefty -- and there's a real lack of interest in seeing any side but your own. It's hurting us on the left.

Jim: Wally, Strongest section of the book for you?

Wally: I'll go with the illustrations. The posters and the photos really tell the story, especially in the first fifty pages.

Jim: Betty, same question?

Betty: I'm going to say Rebecca Solnit's section. And I'm going to say that because she's taking on The New York Times and its distortions as well as because she's writing in a more linear fashion. But I did enjoy David Solnit's section as well. A criticism, negative one, that I have would feed into what Ava's addressing. First, there's no such thing as a little bit of a police state. Okay? It's a police state or it isn't. So I really didn't need the tribal drums beating regarding the RNC convention last year. Was their violence there? Yes, there was. Big surprise a lot of people wanted to bring violence. They didn't want it at the DNC. They wanted it at the RNC. And I'm not in the mood for any s**ty ass liar telling me otherwise. Ava and C.I. didn't just write about the DNC convention for this site, they reported on it in the community newsletters. We saw the fliers for it and we saw the pamphlets and we saw the differing for the RNC. So my point is the DNC and RNC were both police states. In one of them there was more violence and that's because the activists wanted violence there. Imagaine if they'd shown any guts when Barack punked them with the lie that he'd meet with them? He never met with them. He wasn't going to. But they were about to become a press story. Ava and C.I. flew out of Denver thinking that was going to be the big story of that day. But instead, the group fell for pretty lies. So my point here, both were police states. One was more violent? A police state in the US is violent enough. Quit minimizing. Protest pens? They'll seem normal as long as sorry excuses refuse to call out the notion of protest pens.

Jim: Okay. The Battle of the Story of The Battle of Seattle is now out from AK Press. The list price is $12. It's written by David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit. Chris Dixon contribute a sizeable section as well. It's a book worth reading that we all recommend and it's the only book of 2009 that we felt was important enough to do a discussion on. When Martha and Shirley send out their ballots for the best book of 2009, we'll be voting for The Battle of the Story of The Battle of Seattle and encourage you to pick up the book. Get the book. This is a rush transcript.


Jim: This is a grab bag roundtable because Dona and I are afraid we may not have enough for an edition despite working on multiple articles for over ten hours straight. Ava and C.I. haven't written their TV article yet but will be doing one this edition and they'll grab at least one other topic for an article. We have a book discussion and some other stuff but a lot of what we've done really doesn't seem to be coming together so we're doing a quick roundtable to touch on any number of issues. 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Wally of The Daily Jot, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. Jess is participating but also working on an edit of a feature on Supreme Liar so he may participate at a lower level.


Cedric: Wally and I thank him for the edit. He's trying to save the feature and it's on an idea that we brought to the edition.

Wally: Brought to the edition and announced would be in it at our sites.

Ava: But announced with Kat, C.I. and my backing. Wally, Kat, C.I. and I were on the road last week. I believe it was Friday morning when they found the problem -- they were on the phone together doing their joint-entry -- and Wally showed it to us and we said, "We'll back you on it." I'm adding that just so no one thinks, "Well Cedric and Wally just steamrolled over everyone!" They had our support and that was more than enough in terms of number to ensure that we tackled it. What I think happened is that we overwrote it in various drafts and that what Jess is really going to be doing is simplifying it.

Jess: Correct.

Jim: A short article Dona's planned for us to work on after this is something I'm going to ask about. C.I., in Friday's snapshot, you really let Barbara Slavin and Diane Rehm have it. You want to talk about that?

C.I.: I'll toss to Elaine, she's already written about it.

Elaine: Yeah, I wrote about it Friday. C.I. had just finished using the study group as a test audience and getting their feedback, delaying the snaphot by over 90 minutes. She was then rushing off to a quiet spot to dictate it but checking messages and returning calls -- I was walking along with her -- when an NPR friend called about Rehm's show and C.I. said she already had the quote to use and noted it was one speaker and obviously Iraq was barely discussed. Then the NPR friend starts filling C.I. in on the show and C.I. has to make an hour's time to listen to the actual broadcast. So the snapshot is now delayed by approximately three hours. I know for a fact that if they'd have talked about Iraq on that broadcast, what went in the snapshot wouldn't have gone in but they didn't talk about Iraq and while being silent on Iraq made time for crackpot fantasies. That is why C.I. called them out. They could have done the same thing they did and given five or six minutes to Iraq and C.I. wouldn't have said a word let alone led with a blistering critique of the show.

Jim: And that explains the how it came to be and that's good, but what I'm getting at is C.I. ripped them apart, rightly, for declaring they knew where Osama bin Laden was. C.I. went on at length about how no one knew where bin Laden was and they wasted our time with that nonsense. And then on Saturday, the big news is Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, is telling the press that the US has no intelligence on where bin Laden is and hasn't had it in years. Just at random, Dallas, if you could copy and paste some links from Google News and I'll paste them in here when I type this up, but there are a ton of outlets reporting on this story.

Gates: No US intel on bin Laden for 'years' - ‎4 hours ago‎
"We don't know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we'd go and get him," Gates said in excerpts released by ABC.
No Bin Laden information in years, says Gates BBC News
Gates: No good intel on Osama bin Laden in years The Associated Press
Bin Laden's location unknown for 'years:' US AFP
ABC News - Press TV
all 1,318 news articles »

Jim (Con't): And I quote you, C.I., on Friday: "Barbara, grab your passport and, yes, Annie Grab Your Gun, and get your ass over there. Over where? Where ever it is from one moment to another that Barbra 'knows' Osama bin Laden is. Take your ass, take your gun and get the hell over there, Big Girl. Reality, Barbara Slavin doesn't know where Osama bin Laden is -- a point Diane Rehm should have made -- but it isn't it interesting that Barbara's claims support further war? And isn't that really the point of your claims, Barbara? You really want to be the next Judy Miller? Really? And what about you, Diane? You going to keep letting guests claim to know where Osama is and use that 'knowledge' to launch a verbal attack on a country? You going to do that? And delude yourself that you've informed the public? How very, very sad." I mean, wow. So did you know Gates was going to make his announcement Saturday when you wrote the snapshot?

C.I.: No. First, he's making it later this morning. Although it will probably air on every where but on the West Coast by the time this goes up. But he's making it later this morning on ABC's This Week. Now this was talk in DC all week. That someone needed to ask Gates that question. We were in DC for most of last week, to attend hearings and other things. So this was the DC party circuit chatter. That it needed to be asked. I had no idea anyone was going to ask or had asked. I'm not sure when George taped his interview for This Week. But it just ended up being one of those lucky moments. I state very clearly what is known, that no one knows where bin Laden is, and I just happen to get lucky that the George's interviewed Robert Gates and he's saying that no one knows.

Jim: So in a fair world, on Monday, Diane Rehm would apologize for wasting everyone's time with sorry speculation about bin Laden which was unfounded when she couldn't been discussing Iraq.

Rebecca: Just to jump in here while I have a second, cranky baby in my arms, Elaine wrote about something recently at her site -- watch it'll be me that wrote but everyone knows how bad my memory is -- about how C.I. never hesitated to take a stand and the reason's include that she will be proven right. Maybe not today, maybe not this week, but time will tell, time is on her side. And this is the perfect example. I wasn't with C.I. when she was dictating Friday. I was taking a break -- C.I. was holding my little girl and I was enjoying being Rebecca and not Mommy for a few minutes. But reading it, and knowing C.I., I can hear her voice in my head and how she was speaking when she dictated it and my point is, when she's that firm in her convictions, she's always backed up, it's like the universe gifts her with sources and backing in the days that follow something like that. Remember, she was calling out the VA in the lead up to the scandal of the tuition and living checks for veterans. That scandal had not broken and she was calling it out and, boom, there it was. That's just the way life works out for her. And, if I can add one more thing because I will get e-mails, this may be all I say because my daughter is getting a tooth and she's old enough to talk now so she will be complaining -- as she should, it hurts getting a new tooth. So if I'm not participating in the rest of the roundtable, that's why before anyone e-mails and asks me on Monday, "Why didn't you say more?"

Jim: Okay. So Rebecca's making the argument that C.I. benefitted from synchronicity. Elaine, I'm coming back to you. At The Nation, Jeremy Scahill asks, "Is Erik Prince 'Graymailing' the US Government?" Last week, you wrote "The Curious Mister Erik Prince" and I thought you might want to comment.

Elaine: Sure. First off, a friend at Vanity Fair asked me to note that and this was after C.I. had been asked. C.I. didn't want to get into it for a number of reasons so I grabbed it. Erik Prince reveals to Adam Ciralsky, for the article "Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy," that he's worked for the CIA in the last years. He feels he was outed by Congress. When I wrote my piece, I was just going by what C.I. had told me but I've worked my own sources since then -- on the DC social circuit -- and they back up what C.I. found. Which is that Erik Prince was outed by members of the intelligence community. Let me stress that is the talk. That doesn't mean it's true. But Prince is convinced it's Congress and has offered nothing to explain why he believes that. He may have solid information. But the consensus is that it was the intel community, parts of it, which outed him. It's a war within the intel community. So that's that and in terms of Scahill's article, of the headline anyway, I hope so. I would hope anyone who felt compromised would leverage any information they had. I would. If I were in Prince's shoes, my attitude would be, "Take me down, I'll take you all down." What is it Jane Fonda says in Cat Ballou? "I'll make Sherman's March To The Sea look like a cakewalk."?

Jim: And regards to Blackwater's actions?

Elaine: Blackwater is a firm of War Criminals. That's not the issue though. I don't know if Scahill gets it or not, others on the left that I've read do not get it -- I'm a leftie so I have no idea what the right's saying on this. But when they burned Prince, when they outed his CIA work, they declared war and it became scorched earth. Leaving aside his own crimes, he's got every right to go after them with everything he can. But I'm not a fan of the CIA, so those who are might feel differently.

Jim: Anyone disagree with Elaine? Stan? Mike?

Stan: No. I don't like Prince. Elaine doesn't like him either. I'd be happy with him behind bars for life. But that's not really what's going on right now. What Elaine's talked about here and written at her site is about an inter-mural competition within the CIA. And I agree with her that Erik Prince now has every right to hit back as hard as he can. And, like Elaine said, if I was him, you better believe I would.

Mike: Yeah, I know a little bit more about this than what's in this discussion and what's up at Elaine's site because I live with Elaine so I overhear conversations, for example. So what I would add is that Erik Prince was betrayed by elements of the CIA, the CIA he worked for, that's pretty sad. It's be like they were all Boston Red Sox and started turning on each other or something. But once someone turns on you, you have every right to turn on them, in my book, you do. So if he wants to go after them or leverage them to get the best whatever for himself, go for it. What's really interesting is that, and I'll go there and I know that Elaine and C.I. already knows this and have discussed and so have other people, but what's really interesting in the 'coverage' of all this is how Blackwater CIA ties are not really being addressed. Blackwater's ties to the CIA pre-date the sudden exposure of Erik Prince as CIA. And I would further point out that Erik Prince wasn't one of two with CIA ties in Blackwater leadership, there were a lot more. In many ways, Blackwater was most likely a CIA operation. And if Jeremy were smart, Jeremy Scahill, he'd take that as a tip off to start looking into some of Blackwater's activities not in terms of crimes only, but in terms of off the book money laundering.

Jim: Okay. Elaine any comment? C.I.?

Elaine: Mike's stating what's a very popular opinion on the DC social circuit. It may be correct, it may not be. He didn't make up anything he said.

C.I.: I was going to say "no comment" but hearing Elaine's remarks made me realize someone may attack Mike for his comments. In which case, I've heard what Mike just talked about, I've heard it repeatedly last week in DC. From friends in the press and friends in the government. Other than having Mike's back, I have no comment on that issue.

Jim: Okay, The Nation has a poll up right now: "How credible is Obama's promise that troops will return from Afghanistan in 2011?" The choices are "a) The surge was engineered with withdrawal in mind, so that will ensure a prompt start to the process. b) Even if some troops withdraw, that's not the same as a complete homecoming. c) It's too early to tell. How can we know how the escalation will affect the situation? It could go either way. d) It doesn't matter what Obama tells us--our military presence in Afghanistan will endure for years to come." And put quotes around that but please note that I added the "a," "b," "c," and "d." Betty, if you were taking the poll, what would you respond?

Betty: I wouldn't. I wouldn't take the poll. D is the best option offered but where in those option is "Barack promised he'd close Guantanamo by now and he didn't"? Where's that option? The choices they give you act as if Barack might be lying but it's not his fault if he is. I'm so sick of that pathetic magazine.

Jim: For what it's worth, "d" was the most popular choice with 65% of the voters. Barack made an idiot of himself with his surge speech. Or he revealed his true nature. Regardless, following that speech, whose reaction most delighted you and most appalled you? Betty, you can jump in on this again if you want, and I'd also like to bring in Kat and Ann and Cedric for sure.

Ann: You know, I should say someone like a Barack groupie who finally woke up but I'm just not feeling generous. I'm not. I'll go with Justin Raimondo (Antiwar). I didn't agree with everything he said, I'm left and he's not, but I did agree with the basic points and I'd rather applaud someone who's told the truth about Barack all along than applaud someone whose lying helped get us into this mess.

Jim: Ann, if I can stop you, last week we were rushing so I didn't follow up. But let me do it now. E-mails were coming in about people being surprised by revelations at your site, things you'd written, about how you voted for Ralph Nader not just in 2008 but repeatedly prior. I'd asked you about that and some other stuff last week and we defocused and missed that point.

Ann: Oh sure. You know Betty usually says it more than anyone ever realizes probably, I'm talking about Betty really sums up the Black experience and when she speaks here and I read it, as I have for years now, I'm nodding my head because she's describing my life. And she's talked about how Black voters are so taken for granted by the Democratic Party -- and that's not changed just because a bi-racial man's in the White House. But all the things Betty's pointed out, I agree with and that's why I'm really not a Democrat. I'd love to be Green but you're going to have to show me a party with some guts and guts is not stroking Barack or gently calling him out. So what I am, politically, is an independent. The Democratic Party is not left enough for me and the Green Party is too weak. I could see myself easily becoming an anarchist when I hit retirement age. I'm not joking. I was a Democrat for about three minutes in third grade and, ever since, then my views have been so much more left than the Democratic Party. And while some people believe they can change the party from within, I don't. And I'm not going to waste my time trying. And before anyone gets their feelings hurt and wants to e-mail on that, I am talking about me. I am not telling you what to do or how to live your life, nor am I judging you. My husband is a dedicated and determined Democrat. I don't think less of him for that. I'm just not able to take that trip, sorry.

Jess: If I can jump in here for just a second, I think if there's a surprise over this it's two-fold. First, Cedric is known online for being such a staunch Democrat. He campaigns for the party in his area and does all this stuff. And second, if there's a surprise, it's also a realization probably because I wasn't surprised. Ann's basically talked about this in bits and pieces here. She usually doesn't say a great deal in roundtables but if you piece together everything she's said in the roundtables, you see that she's basically been talking about this all along. I wasn't surprised by it at all. When she started blogging about it at her site in depth last month, I just kind of nodded and realized that she'd pretty much addressed it here but she was going into more depth.

Cedric: I would agree with everything that Jess just said.

Jim: Were you surprised when you got to know her that she wasn't a Democrat?

Cedric: We go to the same church and actually, at the start, she was going with a relative who was sick. When she started going, she was going because she was giving a ride to sick relative who attends the church. So we did the slow circle and the nods and the smiles for a few weeks before we spoke. But I knew that the worst she could be was a liberal Republican because she wouldn't keep coming to my church otherwise. We are a left wing church. I also knew, back when the Green Party was about to dump Cynthia McKinney, back when they thought they had Ralph Nader for about two days, she mentioned then that she might vote for Cynthia.

Ann: Because I thought she'd ditch the Greens. I'm not impressed with the Greens. I heard that ridiculous debate that KPFA aired. Ralph and Cynthia were the only intelligent people there. The young woman, she might grow up into someone worth supporting. But everone else? They didn't sound like leaders. It was embarrassing to think this was the cream of the crop for the Green Party. But, again, I'm no fan of the Green Party. They're like the Dems little sister trying to imitate the Dems.

Cedric: So, he said exhaling, I knew she wasn't a Democrat fairly early on. And that was fine. We actually match up on the issues. She just thinks -- and she's not wrong -- that there's too much corporate money and corporate corruption in the Democratic Party. And I also agree with her on Justin's column. I'm not in the mood to applaud any Johnny-Come-Latelys who spent months and months pimping Barack. Screw you all. Screw you, Michael Moore. You should have known better. That's my take anyway.

Kat: Outside the community? I'll go with Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soapbox). And I agree with Cedric and Ann, there's no point in applauding people who spent the bulk of 2009 and all of 2008 saying, "Touch the flames, they're so pretty!" They got burned last week, I don't feel sorry for them. We all got burned as a result of their lies and whoring.

Wally: If I could jump in, I'd just note that I agree and I'd single out Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) as someone commenting last week that was worth noting. And he is someone who called it out back when it was needed. He was never a member of the Cult of St. Barack.

Jim: Okay. Ruth, Marcia and Ty, I'm going to try to get you three on marriage equality. But I want to address a new poll that came out and found that young people continue to support Barack. It was conducted by Harvard's Institute of Politics and, PDF format warning, on it.

C.I.: Excuse me, I'm jumping back in. Since the voting age was lowered to 18, I don't think anyone's considered a 26 to 29 year old voter a "young voter." For the record, because I did see that poll, this is a poll of people from the ages of 18 to 29 and it's being called "young voters." Another thing to be aware of is that we're talking about a highly educated, wealthy group making up the sample and your clue on the wealth aspect is that something like 70% of the respondents stated they had health care. I belive 5% percent refused to say. But right there, when you've got 70% of your polling sample saying they've got health care, you're dealing with an upscale group of people. Almost 60% were employed and less than 25% were married. In terms of gender make up, I believe it came close to mirroring the overall US stats, with more women being in the pool. In terms of race, White Anglo was over-represented but that wasn't due to African-Americans or Latinos being under-represented. It was due to the fact that they only had those three categories in their sample. Meaing Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans, etc. were not in the polling. That's just some background on their pool of respondents before anyone starts tossing out a hypothesis.

Jim: Thank you.

Mike: No one's speaking. I've not seen the poll. My guess is that people responding don't know what they're talking about. They're young, everyone's supposed to love Barry O so they're saying they do because they're lemmings. That's my guess.

Jim: Hmm. I'll toss to C.I. on that.

C.I.: Me? Mike's guess? Yeah, I believe that can be backed up in the data itself. Jim, do you have the poll in front of you?

Jim: Yes.

C.I.: Okay, well correct me if I give the wrong figures because I haven't looked at in some time. But I believe it was 58% of respondents stating they approve of Barack's performance. Did they really approve? Mike's guess is "no." The data actually can back up Mike because they're asked then to evaluate Barack's performance on various areas -- such as the economy -- Barack never makes it to 58% on any of the categories. He doesn't even make it to 50%. I believe his highest score is 44% which he receives on both health care and the economy. His lowest score, 38%, is on the federal budget. Again, Jim check my numbers.

Jim: No, you're correct so far.

C.I.: So the point being, if 58% think he's doing an outstanding job, then what is he doing an outstanding job on because on every area they grade him, they grade him at 44% or less. I know some outlets, the idiots at The Nation, for example, have spun this poll but Mike's guess is actually more accurate than what the outlets have done with the data.

Jim: Thank you. And back to Mike. Mike you ended up with a guess that the data can back you up on. Any thoughts?

Mike: Well, I think I know that group, I'm of that group. I see a lot of Barack's Cult on campus and they don't follow the news. I mean, forget beyond the headlines, they're not even following the headlines. They are an uninformed group. And that's the way it is, I don't know what else to say. Most of us went to college, right? I think we all have gone, I'm still in college, but we know how it is. You've got to go to classes, you've got to study, you may have to work a job, you're trying to live a life and there's just not all the time in the world. And current events aren't always something that the entire student body's paying attention to. That's reality.

Dona: And Mike, I'm so glad you spoke freely and that we covered this topic but we now need, Jim, to wind down with Ty, Marcia and Ruth.

Jim: Okay. Dona's saying we're running out of time. Marriage equality. Last week, the state of New York said no to marriage equality. Ruth, you blogged about this in "Another blow to equality" so why don't you kick it off by explaining what happened?

Ruth: Alright. New York's state senate took a vote on whether to support marriage-for-all or not? They decided not to. The final vote was 24 state senators in favor of marriage equality and 38 against it. Following the vote, Governor David Paterson stated he understood the anger and outrage over the vote and that it was not over. For a number of people, it felt over.

Marcia: For me it does. I mean how many defeats is the LGBT community going to have to suffer? It's been one right after the other including all of Barry's homophobe supporters in California and homophobic Barry himself refusing to call out Proposition Nine. But it's been nothing but defeat, defeat ever since, or that's how it feels. And it feels like we're going backwards and backwards and we have no leadership on the issue and the White House is screwing us over on everything from Don't Ask Don't Tell to DOMA -- neither of which have been repealed. So I'm honestly really angry and that may just be me.

Ty: No, it's not just you. That's how my boyfriend feels as well and, to be honest, things are rough right now between us. We toyed with the idea of getting married before the Prop 8 vote, we live out here in California, at C.I.'s. We didn't think Prop 8 would pass and we weren't ready to get married. But Prop 8 did pass and if we had gotten married our marriage would still be valid. But because Prop 8 passed, we now can't get married. And the fact that we didn't then is becoming a sore spot with my boyfriend. It's becoming a sore spot, it's becoming a real problem. Our relationship has lasted how many years now? And we lasted his staying in New York when I moved out here to C.I.'s. And it's deepened and all of that. And we can't get married. Any man and woman can get married even if they just met hours before. But we can't? The anger Marcia's feeling, the anger's she talking about, that's how my boyfriend feels and that's how a lot of gay people are feeling right now. It's becoming very obvious that there's a strong movement to make sure we are not included in the country we live in. And like Marcia, I blame Barack Obama and his damn cult because they've done nothing to help us and everything to hurt us. And a lot of gay people around the country are under a lot of stress because of this crap.

Marcia: I have a couple I'm friends with who live in New York, upstate, and they were really happy about the vote because they're a lesbian couple and they've been together about five or six years and they were so excited. They just knew it would pass. And they could get married. And that meant so much to them. Then it didn't pass. And when it doesn't pass, which straight people may not be grasping, when it doesn't pass, you can't just say, "Well, these things take time." Gay people know that, thank you very much. But more importantly, this is such a huge rejection of our lives. This reject us on every level and rejects our relationships. And the problem's Ty's having, I know couples breaking up in part over the stress that's going on as we have one defeat after another. Because you have one person who's trying to be upbeat and maybe is upbeat and the other doesn't want to hear it because these votes are so insulting and hurt so to the core of who we are.

Ruth: I am really glad that Ty and Marcia are speaking about this. I knew some of it from Marcia and I was glad she felt comfortable talking to me about it because she is my very good friend. I was also glad because if she is feeling that way, others are as well and I am a glass is half-full type person. Once I knew how much it really shook someone's faith and belief system, these votes against equality, I stopped trying to be the cheerleader on "It will come, just wait, it will come." And no one needs this old grandma playing cheerleader anyway. My grandson Jayson is not going through this but he is young and new to the dating scene and all of that. People like Ty, and Marcia especially, have been waiting, have seen changes, were told change was coming and just got a homophobic president who will rub up against homophobes but does nothing for gay Americans. So it is very distressing.

Jim: And on that note, we'll wind down. This is a rush transcript. The e-mail address is


Starting with the deaths.

Sunday the US military announced: "BASRA -- A Multi-National Division -- South Soldier died Nov. 29 of non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4367.

Turning to Iraqis. Sunday saw 3 people reported dead and 5 wounded. Monday saw the press too busy to report. Tuesday saw 6 reported dead and 22 wounded. Wednesday saw 3 reported dead and 26 reported wounded. Thursday saw 11 dead and 25 injured. Friday saw 4 people reported dead and 6 wounded. Saturday saw 5 dead and 7 wounded. That's at least 32 deaths and at least 91 wounded -- reported. Many go unreported.

The big news last week included the release of a study by the American Anthropological Association as they met in Philadelphia for their national conference. AAA's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program." The report found that the goals of counter-insurgency and anthropology are at odds.

On those 'January' elections? Not happening apparently. They may be able to hold elections at the end of February . . . provided they pass something in the Iraqi Parliament today or real soon -- something that does not result in a veto.

In London, the Iraq Inquiry continued to hear public testimony last week. Why did the British participate in the illegal war? Apparently because if everyone else jumped off the cliff, the British were going to as well. From Friday's testimony:

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: Well, you know the US/UK, Mil/Mil relationship, you would enhance that no end by offering this sort of option that eventually was selected. You would enahnce it no end, and that's a pretty important relationship politically -- I'm talkin gon the Mil side -- where we have enormous access and enormous say in a whole range of things, not just to do with Iraq, but with other things, because they know you are a serious player and they know you have got . . . I put that right up at the front of -- at the heart of the UK/US Mil/Mil relationship, required from a military perspective a -- hence it coming through from the military perspective, something meaty to do, and if there wasn't anything meaty, then we weren't really -- it was a long way to go to do nothing -- you know, meaty.

Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: So it was good for our standing, it was good for our relationship, but they didn't actually --

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: Good for future links on future operations, it's good for sharing intelligence --

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: So it has some broader benefits --

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: -- it helps with logistics --

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: -- but they didn't actually pay attention to our advice on how these big issues should be handled in the campaign? They didn't put in enough boots on the ground, they didn't plan properly for the aftermath, as Lord Boyce told us yesterday, despite our advice to the contrary.

So now we know. The British government wanted to be playas and sacrificed British (and Iraqi) lives in order to try to become that. Tuesday saw an interesting question put to a witness and the witness avoid answering it:

Commitee Member Martin Gilbert: How do you account for the scepticism, the general scepticism of the British public, that Saddam constituted a serious danger to the region.

Peter Ricketts: We had spent the previous months concentrating on the threat from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We had been through the military intervention in Afghanistan and we were still, at that stage, involved in the aftermath of that, an international security force and the civilian effort in Afghanistan. There was a lot of public attention on Al-Qaeda and the threat from Afghanistan. As we have discussed in previous evidence sessions, we had, in Whitehall, been seriously concerned about the threat from weapons of mass destruction and the risk that they would be reconstituted as the sanctions regime broke down and Saddam got access to more moeny, and it had been a consistent worry. 9/11 and the evidence of terrorist interest in weapons of mass destruction was a further boost. It was a very strong strand in the Prime Minister's thinking and the Foreign Secretary's thinking, but it hadn't been a big feature of public presentation of the counter-terrorism strategy. Therefore, as we focused harder on Iraq, as that was clearly rising up the US political agenda, it was important that we should get out to the public more information about what we saw as the threat from Saddam, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Why were the British citizens skeptical when the British government wasn't? It's a pretty clear question even if the answer is a muddle. Ricketts was also among those testifying who cited Condi Rice's 'paper on regime change' repeatedly. They must be close readers. Condi's 2000 paper mentions regime change for 83 words -- 83 out of 6,596 words. Since those words were so important to them, surely they also noticed that Condi argued Saddam was determined to develop WMD -- to develop. Not that he had. If Condi's paper carried so much weight, why did her conclusion that he hadn't yet developed WMD not carry weight?

Or were the constant references to the minor passage in her lengthy paper really just a way for some War Hawks to hide behind a better known War Hawk?
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }