Sunday, March 20, 2011


Jim: It's roundtable time. We're all in DC and we'll be talking about war and other topics. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable 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; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): As I said, we are all in DC right now. It's rare that we're all face-to-face. However, we weren't all in DC for the protest Saturday. I went to NYC to catch a panel at the Left Forum. I was there absorbing a feel for the festival and then I went to take part in the NYC protest -- the one Joan Wile, founder of Grandmothers Against the War and author of
Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace was getting the word out on and was one of the organizers of -- then I rushed back to the Left Forum for the session -- which I shouldn't have rushed for, it did not start on time. In addition, a group went to Los Angeles. I'll start with Rebecca because she planned to attend the one in DC but didn't.

Rebecca: I woke up to Flyboy telling me he was going to Los Angeles. C.I. was charting a flight at the last minute -- and could have -- at two or three in the morning Saturday. Flyboy was still up -- we're all at C.I.'s DC house right now -- and eating when he heard C.I. on the phone and he said he'd take her. He has his own plane, that's how most of us on the East Coast got to DC. So he made the flight plan and all of that while I was sleeping. I woke up the next morning or I guess that would be later Saturday morning, sun still not up, and he tells me he's going to LA.

Jim: He had a reason for that. Are you comfortable discussing it?

Rebecca: Sure. There was talk of arrests and that did bother him in terms of our daughter. If it had been just me, she would have gone along to DC. But I was also curious about the LA turnout as well so I said sure. His concern, to be clear, was how out of control the DC police might be and our daughter being around that when she's just a little girl.

Jim: So Rebecca, Flyboy, their daughter, Jess, Ava and C.I.went to LA. Jess?

Jess: Why? I went because Ava did. Ava, C.I., Wally and Kat spend at least 44 weeks a year on the road talking about the wars. C.I.'s been doing that schedule since Feb. 2003. Kat and Ava join her in 2006. Wally does it off and on starting then but does it full time beginning in 2008. A lot of us join them for a week here or there. But the point is, Ava and I have been a couple for some time now, shortly after this site started. And we don't get to spend a lot of time together. So we ended up making last week our week. She and C.I. had a friend speaking at the LA event who was nervous -- a little nervous about that -- so they were providing support throughout the week and had said that if it looked like DC was going to have a solid turnout, they would go to the LA event.

Dona: And everyone knows this so I'll toss it out. I was there for the start of the DC rally but ended up grabbing a taxi and heading back here. Sorry. I was sweating like crazy and sick to my stomach. Probably because I was pampered all last week. Due to Japan's failing nuclear facilities and my mother's fear of the clouds coming along the West Coast, I left the Bay Area Monday and spent the week with my mother until Friday. I didn't do a thing. I didn't log on to a computer. Other than walking around the house, I walked no where. And the good thing was I wasn't throwing up the whole time. Usually, because of the pregnancy, I've got morning sickness pretty much all day. So that was a nice change. But at the rally, I started sweating. And feeling sick. And Betty came over and told me I didn't look good and said we needed to leave. I told her I would but I'd feel awful if she did too. So she followed me out until I got into the cab and then rejoined the protest. Again, I'm sorry. If there was a head counter, I was present for it. But I didn't stay for the whole thing.

Jim: We're not big on talking about personal issues -- or others aren't -- here which is why Dona waited until last week to announce her pregnancy but since she's talked about it, Betty might want to add something.

Betty: I went back to the rally, flagged Wally who came over and asked him if he could round up my kids. As soon as he did, and the rally was ending at this point so Dona had been present for most of it, I told my kids they could stay with Wally and Ann -- Ann had walked over to see what was going on -- or they could go with me but I was going back to C.I.'s. They decided to stay but I went on back because I've had three pregnancies and I know how rough they can be. And I wasn't comfortable with Dona leaving on her own but I could tell she was getting more upset by my saying I would go with her. I didn't want her to be upset, she looked pretty bad. I also didn't want her to be alone. So I didn't take part in the march and was not present for it. I was there for the rally and left.

Jim: Wally. The march.

Wally: A march began around the White House. The police called for everyone to disperse. Most of us dispersed, those who didn't were arrested. Those arrested included Daniel Ellsberg and I believe all were aware that they would be arrested and made the decision to be continue practicing civil disobedience.

Jim: No one was arrested in this group?

Ann: No. Betty's youngest son wanted to and I was torn because Wally and I were watching her kids. So do I say, "No, you can't, young man. Your mother would kill me!" Or would Betty want me to say, "Good for you, go do it."? I didn't know. I was spared the decision because his older brother grabbed him and said, "Yeah, just what we need, another Black kid arrested in this country."

Betty: I want to note on the record that I am laughing. I had not heard this story. That is my oldest son. That's really him in a nutshell. More and more he's like the Boondocks. Which is more than fine. And, for the record, if my youngest son had decided to be arrested, that would been between him and me. I probably would have applauded him. But I wouldn't have blamed Ann or Wally for that regardless.

Jim: Elaine and Mike, impressions of the DC protest?

Elaine: I would say it was a much larger crowd than I was expecting all last week. In fact, I don't think anyone was expecting that turnout. It's great but I don't think it was expected. We were there at what I thought was the half-way point in terms of people gathering -- I'm talking before the rally or anything had started. Then twice as many people were there and I thought, "Hmmm. Nice size." Then even more showed up. Then even more. Again, great. I just hadn't expected. If I'd known the turnout was going to be that big, I might have flown to LA with the others.

Jim: Mike, before you speak, we had US House Rep. Charlie Rangal at our protest in NYC. Did any speaker stand out to you in DC?

Mike: Hmm. I'll name one and then let Elaine name one because there were two that we both liked. I thought Ryan Endicott, with March Forward!, did a great job. And if you don't know him, my mother did a post about him, and we noted him here in "Winter Soldier Southwest" which included drawings by Kat and Isaiah so could we drop the drawing of Ryan in?

Ryan Endicott

Jim: Sure. It will be there when we type it up.

Elaine: At that Winter Soldier Pasadena event, Ryan Endicott concluded his testimony with, "I know today that I cannot mend the things that I have broken. Or fix the lives that I have destroyed. But maybe with my testimony today, I can help one person, they might help two people who can eventually help four. And they'd be all of us together, standing united in preventing these atrocities from ever happening again." The other speaker that really impressed us was A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Brian Becker.

Jim: I'm glad you mentioned A.N.S.W.E.R. because we have some e-mails to work into this. Ty, before we do, I was passed a note by your boyfriend who says you should have spoken up about the arrest portion in DC. What's he talking about?

Ty: He's laughing right now. I did wonder about getting arrested but this afternoon we're having lunch with his parents and he could read my face and tell what I was thinking. So he quickly reminded me that if I got arrested I better pray that I was able to get out on bail before noon Sunday. Okay, Douglas e-mailed to inform us that, "I don't really read your site but every now and then I'll check it for TV stuff. But I see you keep promoting this event by a radical organization. If you knew what ANSWER Coalition was, you wouldn't promote them. Just trying to help you out." And . . . I'm assigning that one to . . . Ruth!

Ruth: Okay. Well, Douglas, thank you for writing. Good to know you were worried and brought something to our attention. I believe we all know about A.N.S.W.E.R. I believe we have no problems with them and are happy to note and promote them. I am sorry that they are not your cup of tea but, speaking for myself only, in a country where the left acts more and more like pod-people, I am damn grateful for the work A.N.S.W.E.R. does.

Jim: Thank you, Ruth. Ty, do you have another to work in right now?

Ty: There's one from a guy who e-mails regularly and I think he wants his to be public. I'll show it to you after the roundtable. If we note it here, I think it should be its own article. But we'll discuss that after the roundtable. Here's one from Belinda R. who writes, "While reading your review of Traffic Light" Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Another failed sitcom from Fox," "I saw the advertisement for the march this weekend. No offense to any of you but I marched in 2007 and the war didn't end. I've now realized that President Obama is overseeing things for the protection of the Iraqi people. That is why the US cannot leave. If we leave, they will kill one another because that is how those people are. So I think you are wrong when you try to end the war and I think you are wrong when you say Traffic Light isn't a good show." I'm assigning that one to . . . Stan!

Stan: Oh good, I like TV. Well, Brenda --

Ty: Belinda.

Stan: Sorry, Brenda. Well, Brenda, Traffic Light is a really bad show and needs to go. That's true of the Iraq War too. And that's practicaly a haiku.

Jim: And who knew we'd be including poetry this edition. Okay, let's hear about Los Angeles. Ava?

Ava: Loved it. So glad we went. No offense to DC but I was much more comfortable there. There was a large Latino turnout. Was that true of DC?

Marcia: Not really.

Ava: I didn't think it would be. But there were so many high schoolers and a few that were younger. There was a cross-section of age, race, ethnicity. It really was a multicultural crowd.

Jim: Ava, on the West Coast Latinos are hugely integrated into left movements. Can you comment on that?

Ava: Well that's true but it's not just here. We're on the road and I see Latinos participating in large numbers in Florida, in the city of Chicago and many, many other places. Now in an area where Latinos aren't a significant part of the population, I'm not gong to expect them to be a significant part of a demonstration. I think we do make that mistake, by the way. But I do feel that in certain areas, Latinos are treated as window dressing -- and we can tell when that's happening -- and in other areas we are treated as full partners.

Jim: In DC, which is it?

Ava: In DC I don't believe we have that much of a presence compared to the West Coast. If you're looking for me to talk about an area, to diss one, I'll be happy to note NYC is one that happily treats Latinos as window dressing. That turns people off.

Jim: C.I., best speaker at the event?

C.I.: I thought everyone participating was wonderful. Of course, I thought my friend did the best. Setting that aisde for personal bias, I'll applaud Ron Kovic --

Jim: You know Ron Kovic.

C.I.: Yes, I do. As does Elaine and Rebecca and anyone who's spent anytime working on peace. Ron Kovic is one of the great lions of the peace movement who never gives up. He's a legend. And he spoke about the wars and about how change was taking place in other countries. This is from memory but to give a sample, he said that people wanted change, "not 'change that you can believe in,' that's not a real change. but real change. We want real change in this country. We want an end to this foreign policy." That may not be a direct quote, that's from memory. I didn't take notes and I didn't pay attention enough to have it word for word. But after he said that or something similar, he then led everyone in singing a few lines of "Give Peace A Chance."

Jim: Why do you think Ron Kovic is so effective?

C.I.: I am really glad you asked that question and, for a change when I say that to you, I'm not being sarcastic. Ron Kovic is an effective speaker because he's a natural speaker. He knows how to be true to himself and, for him, that's to introduce his issue and then drive it home. That's his speaking style. I don't know if I'm being clear. Let's say he's speaking about apples. He gets in front of the microphone and says it's great to be here and, a few years ago, he was eating an apple when he realized . . . And then his next paragraphs are about green apples and granny smith and red delicious, etc. That's the style that works for him. You could compare to charging. he's always charging in his speaking. And that's who he is naturally so it works for him. If it's not who you are, it won't work for you. But his style and his charisma make him so effective. On another level, the fact that he's wounded makes him very effective. What Ava was talking about a second ago, about how presented with the choice of LA or DC, she chose LA knowing there would be more Latinos? Time and again, you put Ron on the forum and you get a wider cross-section of attendees. You get veterans, a lot of whom aren't yet in a place where they can talk about physical or mental -- visible or invisible -- wounds and you get disabled and challenged veterans and civilians. Ron's presence, what he's become a symbol of, is "Everyone's welcome." And that's very powerful and the movement's been damn lucky to have Ron for the last forty years.

Jim: Okay. And before an e-mail comes in, when C.I. said earlier that she wasn't "paying attention enough" to quote, she didn't mean she wasn't paying attention, she meant she wasn't in "record" mode. Dona passed me a note saying someone was going to e-mail about that, asking about that. So I hope that explains that. Ty, I'm coming back to you for another e-mail.

Ty: Well, actually, Jim, I'm tossing back to you to ask what Rangel spoke of since you mentioned him.

Jim: I guess the main take away was he expressed his concern over US partipation in the action against Libya and how he felt the US Congress should have been consulted first.

Ty: Alright, thank you. Darlene e-mails to say, "I was born in 1993. I was 10 years old when the Iraq War started. Last month, I turned 18. I wonder if most people get how long this war has lasted and, if they do, why aren't they out in the streets? And why did the press stop reporting on Iraq?" I'm assigning that one to . . . Trina!

Trina: Okay. Well, Darlene, first off congratulations on your birthday and on turning 18 because that's a milestone all by itself. I hope the Iraq War doesn't reach that milestone, but I'm glad you did. You make an important point and it's one that gets lost on a lot of people, I have no idea why. For me, it's not lost because my youngest son and daughter were still in high school when the war started. Mike's my youngest, son by the way. And now neither lives at home. My oldest son is back with his daughter -- and I'm assuming that unless he meets a woman wants to marry he's going to be there for many years to come. I'm saying that because it's fine with me and it's fine with his father. He's welcome and we're glad to be around our granddaughter. So my two youngest have moved out and started their lives and I've become a grandmother. The war that never should have started has gone on way too long. It's heartbreaking and, Darlene, it makes me very sad to think that you had to spend your childhood with the US government sending a message that perpetural war is normal, natural and to be embraced.

Ty: Okay. On Darlene's last part, the media, I'll toss to Cedric!

Cedric: Okay, good. Well I think what Trina's talking about and what Darlene wrote about are really important and that the media sees their job in hiding just how long the illegal war has been going on. Since 2009, C.I.'s made the point that the Iraq War didn't end, just the coverage of it, that US troops didn't withdraw, just the US press corps. And it's no big surprise that the corporate press works to ignore many stories that might embarrass the White House. And the so-called left press? If a Democrat is in office, they don't give a damn what really happens, they're too busy spinning and lying to make their hero look good. And I want to echo Trina's point to Darlene, it is really appalling that Darlene and others have had to grow up in a society that treats never-ending war as normal. Think about the future implications of that.

Jim: Indeed. Dona's passed a note saying Kat, Marcia and Isaiah have not spoken at all. I've got a question for Isaiah. Yesterday, The World Today Just Nuts "The Hot Topics Dumpster", Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Grim Peace Resister" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Ego Tripper's Workout" went up at The Common Ills. Three comics. And you've got another one that'll go up shortly. How come?

Isaiah: A number of reasons. Friday -- and Mike wrote about this at his site -- a few of us went around with C.I. getting the word out on the DC action. That was an all-day plus thing to do. And most of us bailed before C.I. was done. Her last starting time was a group she was meeting with at midnight. I'd already stopped. But we were there all daylight time. And so we saw the schedule and the grind and, like Mike said, talk about feeling put to shame. I hope it's okay to mention this -- Mike did -- but at seven, I think it was, seven at night, she's so exhausted, tired and all the rest that she's throwing up in the parking lot. At which point, she grabs a water to rinse out her mouth, pops a mint and goes on in to speak again. I mean, it was like watching the Terminator. You keep expecting her to fall down or something but no. So when I got back, I thought, "Damn." You know? I mean what have I done? I couldn't even keep up Friday to go to all the events with her. So, I grabbed my pad and my pen and my pencils and told Mike, "I'm doing two." I think I said at two at first. I did the Amy one first. Then the Danny one. Then I thought, "I really need to do a Katrina vanden Heuvel." So I did that one too. And then I did a fourth just because I was in the mood at that point. That's how I usually do my comics for the newsletters by the way. Wednesday night, I set aside some drawing time and do it for the gina & krista round-robin, Polly's Brew, and El Spirito. When it's one after the other, it's usually easier that way. So the first three focus on people who don't do their part. Who aren't working to end the illegal war -- despite the fact that when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House they all pretended to care.

Jim: And, I should note, we've got plans for a piece still not written that will use two of Isaiah's drawings -- drawings that he's done for this site. And Kat and Betty's kids and Isaiah have worked on some other art work as well. Kat and Marcia, it's Sunday, the protests were yesterday. Reflections?

Marcia: I really didn't want to go first but Kat's pointing at me. I feel like the student who just got a pop test. I think it was something. I think it sets a new bar. I would've loved it if it had been the level of the Bush reign, when protests had large turnouts every time. But we've had to rebuild and I am impressed with the turnout. I'm referring to DC, sorry. I was at the DC protest. And I'm impressed with the turnout. I think it was a large enough group to send the message that we haven't forgotten the wars, that we're not going away and you ignore us at your own peril. Kat?

Kat: I think Marcia did very well and I only pointed to her because I was trying to be kind. I didn't mean to put her on the spot. I was actually going to say some thing similar to what she did. I, too, was at the DC protest. But I'll take a different angle. Why is it that we have to beg for coverage? Why the hell did the Left Forum schedule their event on this weekend to begin with? Uh, didn't know the Iraq War anniversary was this weekend? If so, how stupid are you. Same thing with Amy Goodman. Democracy Now! did nothing in my opinion. C.I. had said they'd give it a few minutes at the end of Friday's show -- she wrote that Tuesday -- and that's what ended up happening.

Jim: Kat, can I interrupt? It's so funny that you say that because at the Left Forum, the session I made a point to attend was all this whining about how the media covers the Tea Party but it won't cover antiwar protests. They give all this time to the Tea Party but they won't cover antiwar protests. And they think they're exempt from criticism.

Kat: Thank you for interrupting. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. They think they're immune. If the left media -- The Nation, Democracy Now, et al -- covered the peace movement even half as much as they cover the Tea Party, then the MSM would cover it as well. But when the left ignores their own actions, doesn't make protests against the war a priority to cover, then why the hell do you think the MSM should? And if you're obsessing over the Tea Party -- and goodness knows The Nation magazine has -- then the MSM is seeing that. You're actually encouraging the MSM to cover the Tea Party. The crowd in DC was a good size. My guess? 4,000? I don't know. But it was a good size. And it could have been even bigger and maybe would have been if Democracy Now! could have found time before Friday to note that the next day a major protest would be taking place in DC.

Jim: Thank you, Kat. And on that note, we'll conclude this roundtable.
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