Sunday, August 07, 2011


Jim: E-mail roundtable time. 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.


Jim (Con't): Okay, first up, the Libyan War. Most interesting development there?

Mike: I'll go. I think it was, I'm pulling up Friday's snapshot, give me a second. Okay, on the second hour of Friday's Diane Rehm Show, James Kitfield of National Journal said, "People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrike and power for this and the further complicates it." I did not know the UN resolution ran out next month. To me, that's the biggest development.

Elaine: I'd agree with Mike but note that another important story is Reuters' report that the so-called 'rebels' were supplied with ammunition yesterday by a Qatari plane. The coverage from Al Jazeera has been one-sided and pro 'rebels.' That plane owned by the government of Qatar? Al Jazeera is also owned by the government of Qatar.

Ann: While those are both important points, I think the points we made last Sunday in "How's that Libyan War going?" were the biggest issue because, all last week, throughout the whole week, the death of Abdul Fatah Yunis continued to have an impact.

Kat: I'll jump in and note that Pope Benedict XVI today declared, "My thoughts also go to Libya, where the use of weapons has not resolved the situation. I urge international organisations and those with political and military responsibilities to search again with conviction and resolve a peace plan for the country, through negotiations and a constructive dialogue."

Jim: The Libyan War has not been a popular war with the people of America. You four that answered -- Mike, Elaine, Ann and Kat -- why do you think that is? Kat, let's start with you and go backwards.

Kat: Okay. Why are we at war with Libya? That's never been properly explained. Supposedly it was to protect civilians from a massacre and only for protection. That's not been what's taken place on the ground. NATO has bombed food warehouse and medical care facilities. So that's one reason why it's unpopular.

Ann: Going back to the roots of it, as Kat did, Barack didn't announce it clearly to the American people or to the Congress. He started the war while he wasn't even in the US and he promised it would be over in a couple of weeks. That was back in March.

Mike: Elaine's waiving for me to go. I'll drop back to James Kitfield again. He said that the US didn't take the time to get to know the people they were getting in bed with. Qatar just flew in ammo to the 'rebels,' France has given them money and weapons. They were CIA backed. As the people hear about these issues, they are less and less likely to see the Libyan War in the rosy tones Barack painted it.

Elaine: Picking up with what Mike just spoke of, a lot of that is similar to the Iraq War, CIA backed exiles -- in both wars. There's also the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and the drone war in Pakistan. Those are ongoing wars that are sending the country spiraling into debt. For Barack to declare the Libyan War when Libya is no threat the United States and when the US cannot afford another war, that guaranteed there would be little support for his illegal war.

Jim: Libya was the big issue in the e-mails. Okay, second biggest topic. On Friday, Barack announced a new program which they predict will cost $120 million for the next two years alone. Apparently discretionary spending has not, in fact, been cut. This program will pay employers who hire veterans. Thoughts on this?

Ruth: We did not have that at the end of WWII. We made sure women were sent home and that freed jobs for the returning but we didn't have that kind of a program that I recall, I was a small child but we never studied in program in school. And that was a prosperous time. This is not a prosperous time. If you want to look at unemployment figures for the American population and so many put the number of unemployed at 30 million, the idea that 2 million are going to be given a break while 28 are not is not in the least bit fair.

Trina: Agreed. I don't have to work now, first time in my life that's the case. Pretend though that it was ten years ago. And the White House tried to do it. We had eight kids living in our home. You want to tell me that every job I go up for I will most likely lose if a veteran applies because the government will pay the company to employ a veteran? I would be furious. My attitude would be, I have eight kids. I don't give a damn about what you did or didn't do overseas. I know damn well you've got education money you can use for college, you've got basic health care being a veteran and I'm not going to waive you through the line and say cut in front of me. I've got eight kids to feed. If you beat for a job, it better because you were more qualified and not because the government bribed the company to hire you.

Stan: I agree completely with Trina and, as C.I. noted in Friday's snapshot, African-Americans have been hard hit by this economy. Barack's done nothing for us. And we're a classification that has faced historical discrimination. And right now, our employment rate is at Jim Crow levels. But Barack's going to rush in and do something for the veterans and nothing for us? He's estimating 2 million veterans will be helped by that. Do you get that?

Betty: I get it, Stan, but I don't understand it. Supposedly we have one million veterans unemployed right now. The drawdowns -- not withdrawals -- in Iraq and Afghanistanin 2011 are, the White House estimates -- going to create another million seeking jobs. That's two million people. They're going to spend -- correct me if I'm wrong, Wally -- $120 million on this program?

Wally: Betty raises a great point. And, Betty, you're right. To gain employment for 2 million veterans the government is going to spend $120 million. Those numbers don't make sense. I'm surprised Republicans aren't ripping Barack apart over this lie. 2 million times 60 gives you $120 million. So the White House's estimate means they only plan to spend sixty dollars for each veteran to be employed? The minimum the government is going to pay an employer for hiring a veteran -- pay in terms of a tax break -- is $2,400. That's the minimum on the sliding scale. With just the minimum, that's only going to cover 50,000. That's the smallest tax break, 2,4000. The numbers don't add up and if this program truly were to help 2 million veterans -- at the lowest amount possible of $2,400 -- the cost would be $4,800,000,000. I didn't realize we had four billion, nearly five, to spend on new programs.

Betty: So, yet again, Barack's getting us into a program and lying about the true cost. So why isn't he being called out on this on either side of the aisle? And then there's also the other issue that Trina and Ruth raised. And to echo Trina's point, I'm a single-mother with three children and no help from their father. If I lose my job, don't you dare tell me that I'm going into interviews with strikes against me because the government is paying employers to hire veterans. Don't you dare. I mean my attitude would be, "Barack, don't make me put my heels on and come down to the White House."

Stan: And this gets to my point. Another lay off's coming at work. Fiscal year starts October 1st. Layoffs will be announced right before it. And supposedly I'm safe for this lay off. But I already have to live in fear of losing my job --

Betty: Because Barack won't do his.

Stan: -- because Barack won't do his, yes. Now I've got to worry that if I do lose my job and have to look for a new one, I'm going to suffer because the White House isn't going to be paying any employers to hire me. The proposal just sews dissension and animosity in the republic. That alone makes it a bad policy.

Trina: And a disadvantage already exists and is only going to get worse. For example, no sooner did Barack make his speech than the Lt. Governor of Maryland, Anthony Brown, issued a statement, "In Maryland, Governor O'Malley and I are working to help veterans find employment, including creating a veterans preference in State hiring and launching the innovative Mil2FedJobs web portal to connect veterans to jobs with the Federal Government. But we must work together at every level to right this wrong." I'm sorry, I'll fight for your right to get all the benefits you were promised when you signed up but this nonsense, I don't support and I won't. The economy is too bad for anyone to be shown a preference. And you didn't defend the country because the US was not under attack from Afghanistan or Iraq so don't give me that s**t. You signed up because you believed in lies or you needed a pay check. But the reality is that we were attacked on 9-11 not by Iraq, not by Afghanistan, not even by the Taliban. We were attacked by al Qaeda -- and most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Repeating, if the government tries to slash your benefits, I'll gladly protest that. But I'm not going to support you being given any hiring preference. The whole damn country's suffering. If it's your country too, if you believe in the flag and believe in democracy, stop trying to cut in line ahead of others and grasp that we're all in the same boat together.

Jim: Marcia, Cedric, Ava and C.I. haven't spoken yet. This is a quick roundtable. I'm sure Ava and C.I. will gladly waive speaking time. And Rebecca texted me that she had to leave the roundtable to take care of something with her daughter. If she comes back before the end, we'll gladly make time for her. But we are running out of time so Marica and Cedric do you want to jump in on this.

Marcia: I agree with everything that's been said. But let me grab Trina's last remarks. We have never, in this community, placed the military above any other group in America. That was true long before I started blogging. Look at the pieces on the peace movement -- when the country had one -- repeatedly, this site stated that veterans had a place in the marches and rallies but that they weren't the only ones who did. On the left there's been a desire for some to hide behind the military and on the right there's been an attitude that I won't characterize because I'm not sure I'd be fair. And this has all led to the glorification of the US military. I don't do that. I don't support it.

Cedric: I agree with Marcia. She's completely right. I don't believe in a standing army. I don't believe that anything was accomplished by sending the US military into Iraq or Afghanistan. C.I. had a point a few months back about how she'll say, "I'm sorry you were sent over there." But she opposed to illegal war and she's not going to say, "Thank you for your service." I agree with that completely. I did not ask for these wars. These were illegal wars based on lies. I take no pride in these wars and consider them criminal activities. But we seem bound and determined to say that there are "heroes" in illegal wars. There are no such things. I'll even go further and note that the US didn't win the Iraq War and didn't win the Afghanistan War. The US military hasn't won a war since WWII. So why don't we try getting honest.

Rebecca: And until we do get honest, in the way Cedric's talking about, stop pretending that the billions and trillions spent on war will ever be spent on anything else. As long as this lie of 'success' is used to conceal what is clearly failure, do not expect anyone to speak of cutting the war funds.

Jim: Okay, Rebecca jumped in and joined us just as we were winding down. We have run out of time. This is a rush transcript.

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