Sunday, August 21, 2011


Jim: This is an e-mail roundtable. You raised the issues, you asked the questions. 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): There is a rule for this roundtable proposed by reader Jagger, "C.I. speaks and speaks often." C.I. and Ava often don't speak in these roundtables, they always take the notes for this transcript piece. Their argument is that they write the TV columns and so they've already got their own space here. In addition, C.I. always points out that she can weigh in on things at her own site. But that frustrates a lot of readers who write in about TV or some comment made by C.I. or a question to C.I. So for this roundtable, what we get to in our allotted time is what we get to and we're not going to shy from leaning on e-mails for Ava and C.I. We do have a mix but we will be asking them a great deal. So let's get started. Ty?

Ty: Reader Dorothy notes that she has three times asked this question for Ava and C.I., "Why have you never taken a week off?"

Ava: Okay. I'll answer that one. Third has published new content every week since January 2005. In the first two or three weeks, everyone worked on the TV articles. But then it got turned over to just C.I. and myself. With the exception of a week when we were asked to instead address a film, we've covered TV every week. When this site started, Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and I were in college, journalism students. And we wanted our breaks. I won't lie. We wanted them. In the early days, C.I. helped on every edition but tried to refuse a regular credit. Her attitude was she had her own site, this was our site and she was just helping out. It was a Christmas, I'm going to say 2006 but it could have been 2005, when that especially became a joke. I had gone back East to visit my parents for the holidays and I hate New York and prefer California so I flew out here to be with my family. And C.I. lives in the same area. And I popped over. At which point I learned that C.I. and Kat were trying to sort out an edition. Dona had taken off, Jim had taken off, Jess had taken off, Ty had taken off and I had taken off. So I helped with that edition. Prior to that, I think it was a Thanksgiving -- probably 2005 -- when all I did was co-write the TV piece with C.I. and otherwise was off. C.I. has worked on multiple features every edition. Why don't we take off? Because so many readers enjoy the TV pieces. That's not my vanity, I have no idea why they're so enjoyed but suspect it's because we all know a great deal about TV so it's fun to read about TV -- we all is "America." America knows a great deal about TV -- if nothing else. So that may be why they're popular. But we know that if we took a week off there would be complaints.

Dona: And we've toyed with the idea of giving them a week off, of doing a cutting of some of their best pieces. A greatest hits where we list shows and quote a sentence from their review of it, like Supernatural and their review where they said it was like watching gay porn where the actors forgot to take their clothes off. Why haven't we done that? We talked about it forever and then we started thinking, "We may need to do that one week when they're sick." They've written when one of them was sick, they've written when both of them were sick. There was one piece, was it Cougar Town? Whatever it was, it was one of their most popular pieces and to read it you'd never know that they had the flu and were throwing up non-stop while they wrote. In the end they had their legal pad in the bathroom and they were just on either side of the toilet, writing between hurls. After that, we especially felt we needed to save the best-of idea for when we really needed it.

Ty: A question for Elaine, Mike or C.I. Jorge wrote Saturday night that, "It appears the Libyan War is all but over and the rebels won." He wanted a response.

Elaine: I'll go. I'm really not going to believe the corporate media coverage without verification from some trusted sources. Also reading over Damien McElroy's "Libya conflict: RAF jets attack Gaddafi strongholds" in The Telegraph of London does not suggest that the so-called 'rebels' won the civil war, it suggests that British forces were much more important.

Mike: I'll add that I know it's difficult for Americans to know what military victory looks like because most of us haven't seen it in our lifetimes; however, until one side -- the Libyan government or the CIA mercenaries -- surrenders, nothing's been won. France, after all, was once occupied. That didn't mean Germany won WWII.

Stan: And if I could leap in here, I'd add that the under-reported story on the way the CIA backed mercenaries popularly known as rebels are targeting Black Libyans, targeting and killing them, in some 'racial purification policy' is disgusting. C.I.'s addressed it at The Common Ills and last week she highlighted Glen Ford's piece on this at Black Agenda Report. I cannot believe how little attention this has received. It is the under-reported story of the Libyan War. But Barack better watch out because it will not stay under-reported.

Jim: Thank you for jumping in, Stan. We encourage everyone to jump in. If you haven't participated by the end of the roundtable, you're on your own. C.I.?

C.I.: Stan, Elaine and Mike raise good points. I have no idea what's happening this early Sunday morning. Ava and I just finished watching and reading scripts of 10 episodes of a sitcom for our piece this week. So I can't comment in any 'up to date' manner on the Libyan War. I would add that is it surprising that CIA-backed exiles could -- with the help of the goverments and military of England and France as well -- overthrow a government? Not at all. The Bay of Pigs was a failure but the US ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti twice, the US ousted Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Once, Aristide was able to return to power and the same was true of Chavez. In both cases, the US government and the media pretended it was the will of the people but the people weren't done and weren't going to be silenced. Should Tripoli fall later today -- and it may or may not -- that doesn't mean the story's over -- a point Mike was making -- nor is it surprising that CIA backed exiles with the military force of several nations was able to overthrow a government.

Jim: This one is about Ann, Ava and C.I. Roxie e-mails to lament that it was May when the three of you wrote "Diane Rehm manages to book even fewer women (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" and she's upset that there's been no article updating.

Ann: Okay. First off, I update that five times a week at my site in that I cover the balance on the show every day. Second, Roxie's not the only one asking that question. On a break earlier, I was talking about this on my Facebook page. It's going to take some time to do an update. We had planned to do a piece several times. One time, Ava and C.I. had too much to do, Jim was asking them to write two or three pieces that edition. Another time, I was sick. Another time, I had to bail early on the edition. There are a variety of reasons but we do plan to do an update before December though we also plan to do a full year tabulation.

Ty: Ann mentioned her Facebook page. Jonas e-mailed wondering a) why we're not all on Facebook and b) "Don't you feel out of touch not being on Facebook?"

Elaine: I know I spoke but can I answer the out of touch question? No, I don't feel out of touch because I'm not on Facebook. See, I'm on something better. It's called life. Look into it.

Cedric: Amen. I work full time, I'm married, Ann and I have a new house that we've spent the last two weeks repainting and re-wall papering, I'm active in my church and Wally and I work together on five posts for our sites a week. I just don't have any more time to give. Sorry.

Marcia: I like that Ann's on Facebook so that one of us is. But I have no desire to Facebook, sorry. I've got my own site where I can write whatever I want. I look at Facebook and it's links plus people giving thumbs up. I'm not trying to be rude but I really don't see the point. It's like saying you're reading and flipping through a book of cat photographs.

Rebecca: I'm not on Facebook and I'm glad. It's a sexist site started by sexist men. I have no desire to engage with it. If that makes me out of date, yea for me. Like Marcia said, I have my own site and I can write whatever I want there.

Ty: Okay. Bill e-mails, "Last week Ava and C.I. wrote 'TV: The PBS FluffHour' and they've done hard hitting pieces like this for several weeks in a row. So I'm guessing this week they'll just focus on entertainment. I'm further guessing that they'll focus on a USA show."

C.I.: Ava and I already wrote our piece earlier in this writing edition. Bill is right that we focus on entertainment. He is wrong that it is a USA show. We focus on two NBC sitcoms, one of which is Friends With Benefits. We did that in part hoping people would watch Friends With Benefits and give it chance because it is a funny comedy. And, as Bill no doubt knows, we do try to break up the newsier pieces by doing strictly entertainment every few weeks.

Jim: Rhoda e-mailed to note Trina's been noting the Verizon strike at her site. She writes, "The strike's over and I'm dying to know Trina's thoughts."

Trina: As Rhoda knows, workers are supposed to return to work either Monday or Tuesday -- depending on the news outlet. I think they were undercut by the White House and I think they were betrayed by their unions. I'm glad to hear that the strike helped competitor Time-Warner. I think it's a shame that so many ignored the strike. I don't mean in this community. I carved it out for my site and Rebecca and my son Mike both noted it at their sites as well. But I did a post where I noted all the magazines of the left or 'left' that were ignoring the strike. The workers needed help and support. Outside of WSWS, I didn't see much being done to cover them. I praised WSWS for doing so many articles and for repeatedly finding fresh ways to cover the strike.

Ty: Trina just brought up how she carved out that as part of her beat, she covers the economy at her site. And that goes to a question for Kat and Ruth and Marcia. Lavonne e-mailed saying, "I really do like their sites but I am just not very clear on their topics. While C.I. always covers Iraq, sometimes they do and sometimes it is something else."

Kat: I cover Iraq if I think it is a big story. Friday it was. C.I. had said everything that needed saying in that day's snapshot but the news was so big -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying US troops in Iraq beyond 2011 was a done deal -- that I had to write something at my site. Otherwise, I'll write about music or something that catches my attention on the road. I also cover Senate hearings but they're on vacation this month.

Ruth: Like Kat and Marcia, I tend to vary what I cover. Marcia and I, in fact, are on the phone with each other every night before we blog. I comment on Iraq, I comment on John Edwards, I comment on Social Security. There are some topics I cover. I also cover whatever catches my fancy in the news that day. If, like Kat, I were on the road with Ava, C.I. and Wally every week, that is probably all I would write about. And I enjoy her road pieces when she does them.

Marcia: Ruth also tackles LGBT issues as do I at my site. I don't have a single topic. Ruth and I tend to discuss the news and then decide what we're going to write based on our interest in the day's news. Oh, and I love Kat's road pieces too. Especially when she writes about fast food and you learn a difference -- regional -- in some place or learn that they're all the same all over the country.

Jim: Jess?

Jess: Awhile back, C.I. wrote about how if the war were over, she'd be thrilled, offline and spending several weeks or months on the beaches in France -- especially if it were the winter. Jamie e-mailed wanting to know about Ava's plans when that day comes?

Ava: Well, as C.I. noted in that entry, she and I often talk about this on the road, especially if we're tired and think we can't make it through the week. And we're both in agreement that if the war ended tomorrow, we'd be headed for the coast of France and spending six weeks there. That's our ideal. And the plan is, no cell phones, no laptops. We write postcards and letters and nothing more. We relax on the beach reading fiction. We don't listen to the news, we only listen to music. We don't read a newspaper. We have six weeks where we're not forever trying to be up to date on the latest developments while rushing here, there and everywhere. And some weeks, focusing on that is all that gets me through.

Ty: Which is Lucy's question. She wants to know if Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. get tired of going out on the road and talking to groups about the wars? Wally, you want to start?

Wally: Yeah, it gets tiring. It gets tiring that all this time later we've still got an Iraq War and an Afghanistan War. And it's a real shame that we have to go out on the road and talk about this instead of doing other things. Lots of people do other things now, lots of people -- Danny Schechter -- don't even give a damn about the war. They made their documentary or they wrote their book and now they don't give a damn. They made their money and they ran. I'd whether be one of the few who still talk about Iraq.

Kat: Agreed.

Jim: Ava, C.I.?

Ava: Well I mean Wally said it. A lot of people made money off the illegal war. They pretended to give a damn. Where are they today? The Nation magazine ran an editorial which started on their cover -- just text -- where they insisted they would not support any candidate who didn't want to end the war. Now days they just don't give a damn. They used the Iraq War to pump their circulation. They really didn't give a damn or they'd be covering it on the cover now and calling out Barack Obama for continuing it. They're liars and whores. I have no use for them.

Jim: And C.I.'s writing down Ava's remarks -- again, Ava and C.I. take notes during these -- so I'll move on to to Wynette's e-mail. She wants to know -- she didn't name anyone but I'd like to go to Betty and Isaiah since they haven't spoken -- if they thought the war would still be going on all this time later, the Iraq War?

Isaiah: No. I'll be honest, I didn't. I didn't think it would last eight years and be about to hit the ninth.

Jim: Betty?

Betty: My answer's a little more complex. I knew, by 2007, that it wasn't ending under Bully Boy Bush. That was pretty much obvious. The Democrats had the power then to end it and refused to do so. When Barack became the pet of choice of Panhandle Media, I knew that it wouldn't end if he were president. And it hasn't. So I'm not surprised by that. I am surprised by the liars. I'm surprised that more people don't take on Amy Goodman and her garbage. And let's deal with that. I know we're limited on time, but let's deal with it. FAIR and all of alternative media love to say, "Pundit X was wrong! Why does the media still listen to him or her?" Raed Jarrar was wrong about the SOFA. Not a minor point. He was wrong for over three damn years. He swore it meant the end of the Iraq War. It damn well didn't. Not only did he swear that everywhere, but he argued with people like C.I. who knew better. And on Friday, there's the Goody Whore chatting up 'expert' Raed about the Iraq War. There's the Goody Whore basically finger f**king Raed's ass on live TV while Raed tells the world that, in effect, his Wet Dream Barack doesn't want to stay in Iraq and the Iraq War would end if only they'd let Barack speak clearly. Hump the mattress, Raed Jarrar, you f**king freak, hump the mattress and see if your useless little dick can shoot a load but don't ever pretend, you dirty piece of s**t whore, that you have done a damn thing to end the war. We all know you'd swallow any load Barack would pump into you. But your desire to go down on Barack doesn't equate: Antiwar. So sorry, you sack of s**t.

Jim: I was -- I was actually going to ask another question but I think Betty just gave us the can't-be-topped moment of the roundtable. So we'll close there. This is a rush transcript.

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