Sunday, October 28, 2012


Jim: The drama, the dullness, the debates, the race, the conflict -- even within our own circke, and Joan Crawford are among the topics in our latest roundtable.  press, the race for the presidency, Iraq,  Libya and more are the topics for this roundtable.   Our e-mail address is Participating our 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): Let's start with the conflict.  I was surprised by a remark Trina made to me last week.  Let's start there.

Trina: I really thought, "Betty must hate me."

Betty: She even called to ask me, "Do you hate me?"

Jim: What did you tell her?

Betty: Oh, please, I could never hate Trina.  But the problem was I hate Jill Stein now.

Trina: And it's actually sort of funny or karmic in that, in 2008, Betty was the first to come out for Hillary.  No, that was 2007, wasn't it?

Betty: Yeah.

Trina: And we all got a call from C.I. saying, "Betty's made her choice, be supportive."  And I hope we were but I do know how Betty must have felt. 

Jim: And that's because what was near universal support for Jill Stein has cratered in the last few weeks.

Dona: As Trina noted Thursday in "It's on Jill Stein."

Jim: Right.  Trina notes that she, Dona, Jess, me, Rebecca, Cedric, Ann, Ruth and Kat will vote for Jill Stein.   That's a nice chunk, nine people, but it's not what she had this time last month.  Wally, you, Stan and Betty are Mitt Romney votes.  As in "I'll take Mitt for the block."  Now, Wally, unlike most of us, your vote will actually count.  Explain why that is?

Wally: I could vote in California but I bought a house in Florida and that's my residency.

Jim: Also where you grew up.

Wally: Right.  And Florida's one of the states that are supposed to matter.  If I voted in California, my vote really wouldn't matter.  Barack will carry California and get all their electoral college votes.  It's the same as voting for Barack in, say, Texas.  It's a wasted vote.  Mitt Romney will carry Texas and get all of Texas' electoral votes.

Kat: The answer is to do away with the electoral college and switch to popular vote for president.

Jim: Right but do you think that will happen?

Kat: In our lifetimes?  Nope.

Jim: And that's why people like Wally or people in Ohio or Colorado or other 'swing states' get courted and focused on.  Their states are in play and could go either way.

Ruth: A simpler possible change, one that could happen state-by-state, would be for an individual state to vote to change their state from a winner-take-all on the electoral college and to instead award electoral college votes proportionally.

Elaine: Hold on.  C.I.'s not going to jump in, so I will.  The Electoral College is something everyone present in this roundtable understands because of the 2000 election and key state Florida.  But that was 12 years ago and some people are not going to be familiar.  The Electoral College votes the January after the November election.  They decide who will be president.  The Electoral College was created because the Framers feared real democracy.  Each state sends X number of officials to vote in the Electoral College.  How is X determined?  It's the number of US Senators your state has -- all have 2 -- plus the number of House Representatives you have.  The lower house is based on population.  So a more populated state will have more members in the House of Representatives and more voters in the electoral college.  Alaska is not a highly populated state.  As a state, it gets two US Senators.  But because its population is so small, it only has one person in the US House of Representatives.  That means it has 3 votes in the Electoral College. California is the state with the largest population and it has over 50 --

C.I.: 55.

Elaine: Thank you.  California has 55 votes in the electoral college.  There's also DC but let's not complicate things.  So each state sends their number of electors to vote in January.  The electors have pledged to vote a certain way but --

Jess: I'll jump in.  Almost half the states have laws requiring their voters to the electoral college to vote the way they pledged.  These laws have never been tested in terms of Constitutionality.  But 24 states do have laws on their books.

Elaine: Thank you, Jess.  What Ruth's talking about where votes would be split -- under any kind of plan -- only Maine and Nebraska have that currently.  And that's too far in the weeds for an overview.  But when we're talking about the electoral college, that's what we're talking about.

Jim: Thank you, Elaine.  You are correct, we wrongly started the conversation from the belief that everyone knew we didn't have a popular vote for president.  Mike, your mother's voting for Jill, you're not.

Mike: No.  I'm not.  Ava and C.I. use the right language.  She, Jill Stein, didn't earn my vote.  I think we need to talk about it that way.  For example, in 2000, Ralph Nader earned votes.  He did not "steal" votes.  My vote's available for anyone who wants to earn it.  Her campaign says nothing to my life.  She's no longer addressing serious issues like the drones or, heaven forbid, Benghazi.  She won't deal with any issue that's going to make Barack look bad.

Jim: Who are you leaning towards?

Mike: Mitt for the block -- like Betty, Wally and Stan are doing -- sounds possible.  I'm also looking at Gary Johnson's stands.

Jim: No Jerry White?

Mike: If you live in Louisiana or Wisconsin, where he's on the ballot, or in Michigan where he can be a write-in, I'd say to look at his stands on the issues.  But he's not on the ballot in my state.

Jim: Ty, you were strong for Jill.  Why the walk away?

Ty: For the same reason that others have walked away from her.  The campaign doesn't seem independent, it doesn't seem like she has the strength to take on Barack.  She started off strong but the minute Barack tanked in the first debate, Jill stopped calling him out and focused on calling out Romney and Ryan.  The minute she could have honestly pulled votes on the left from more than the people who usually support the Green Party, she backed away from it.  She refused to even try.  So I'm done with her.

Jim: And that is a popular opinion.  Not just in this circle of people right now but also in the e-mails to this site?

Ty: There is this huge disappointment in Jill Stein.  One reader, Anibal, wrote that no one really wants to do the work required to defeat Barack except for Mitt Romney.  She's a 51-year-old Latina who has always voted straight ticket Democrat but she's grabbing Mitt For The Block in November because she will not vote for Barack after what he's done and she will not vote for candidates that she sees as too cowardly to call Barack out for the kill list.  There are other issues, but, for her, the kill list was the biggest.

Jim: Anibal lives in what state?

Ty: New Mexico.

Jim: Alright.  Ann, you and Jess are the Greens.  What do you think?

Ann: I'm voting for Jill.  I completely understand why others are not.  Betty has written about this at length and I understand why she is so upset with Jill.  I should be as well.  I don't know, maybe election day, I'll vote Mitt for the block as well.

Jim: Was that groan Cedric?

Cedric: Yes, it was.

Jim: Why are you groaning?

Cedric: I'm voting Jill.  I'm a Democrat married to a Green.  And I thought this election cycle, we'd share our vote for president.  It might be the only time this will ever happen.  And now she's taking Mitt for the block.

Ann: I said "maybe."  I just do get what Betty's been writing about.  It is outrageous.  Barack has a kill list and is killing Americans.  And where is Jill Stein on this?  I mean can she talk about anything other than pot?  Granted, part of that is the media.  I heard an awful hour of The Diane Rehm Show not that long ago where the guests were David Corn and that Jeneatte Cummings or whatever her name is and another man with Susan Page guest hosting.  And the guests all giggled about pot.  These are journalists.  And the third party candidates get a brief mention -- Gary Johnson and Virgil Good -- and it's giggle, snort, giggle over pot.  But Jill controls her campaign website and it has been so weak.  I understand Betty's frustration.  Mike and Marcia's as well.  And certainly Stan, I understand Stan.  We're on the phone discussing this several times a week.  And I don't disagree with them.  There is this, "Oh we finally qualified for matching funds!" And wanting to keep that going.  But isn't that the trap Democrats have gotten into?  Justifying voting for people who don't earn their vote by citing other reasons?  I don't know.  I don't know.  I will probably decided between Jill and Mitt For The Block based on what I feel when I walk into the voting booth.

Jim: Cedric,, you and Ann are expecting your first child.  What do a Democrat and Green produce?

Cedric: A Libertarian.  I don't know.  Ava's a Democrat, Jess is a Green, they've got a daughter.  Just a healthy child, that's all I want.  He or she can grow up to be a Republican and they'll still be loved by both parents.

Jim: Trina, when you wrote your post, you did include a link to Isaiah, but you never noted how he was going to vote.

Trina: Really? My bad.  Isaiah told me he's not sure who he is voting for.

Isaiah: Barack.  I'm voting for Barack.

Jim: Really?

Isaiah: No, I just wanted to shock everyone.  I don't know.  I was a Jill Stein vote.  But she lost me.  For the reasons cited.  I don't even hear her being a strong voice against ObamaCare despite the fact that she, months ago, would call it out for the corporate give-away that it is.  I may go with Mitt For The Block -- I really like that, by the way, comparing it to Hollywood Squares.  Who came up with that?  Betty?

Betty: No, Ava and C.I.  I was talking about how I wanted my vote to mean something and to oppose what has taken place these last four years, with the Drone War, the kill list, Guantanamo still open, etc.  And they joked, "You're basically saying, 'I'll take Mitt for the block'."  I've been using it ever since and so I am popularizing it.  But they came up with it.

Jim: And they have led in calling out the behavior of Barack in the debates.  That includes in Tuesday's "The only thing worse than the debate itself (Ava and C.I.)."   Suddenly, people are talking about how much Barack cut off Romney during the debate.  How tired the jokes the president offered were and more.  It was really a snowball effect.  I'm tossing that out to Rebecca, Marcia and Stan.

Marcia: And I'm jumping in because I'm being pointed to.  Yeah, Barack was so bitchy in the debates, especially the last one.  Bitchy is the only word for it and I believe Ava and C.I. were pointing that out after the first debate.  But it's as if we were forbidden from using that word and along come Ava and C.I. -- and Cedric and Wally also deserve huge credit -- and suddenly it's a little easier for people to use a nicer form of the word "bitchy" when commenting on Barack's manner in the debates.

Stan: I agree with my cousin.  Ava and C.I.'s pieces on the debates were all over my office.  There were mornings when I hadn't even read what they'd written and people would be stopping me as I was going to my desk saying, "Oh, they really called it!" Stuff like that.  It made a huge impression.  And let's also include Isaiah in this because he's also addressed the debates.  But, yes, it was like the fable about the one small child saying the emperor has no clothes on and then, finally, everyone else can say it as well instead of pretending not to notice as they'd done for years.

Rebecca: I think Stan nailed it right there.  It just takes one person to speak, and others to hear, and suddenly the truth is out.  I think this has been a dangerous month -- six weeks actually -- for Barack.  Even if he's re-elected, it will not be the smooth ride he got.  He has obviously failed on Bengazhi.  Both in allowing the lie about YouTube to be repeated over and over and in his handling of the attack itself.  At best, he appears to have been out of the loop.  At worst, he appears to have refused to order a rescue team in.  There is blood in the water and the sharks will circle.  The press really is vested in his getting a second term.  But Barack would be a fool to think that meant the press was going to go easy on him for four more years.

Jim: I need to follow up with Marcia and Ruth.  I wasn't expecting Benghazi to come up in the roundtable.  First, Marcia, you wrote 2 weeks ago, calling out the nonsense of the media treating Chris Stevens' mother as the sole person who can decide in this matter.  Now we learn Tyrone Woods' father wants answers.

Marcia: Right.  Chris Stevens has certainly gotten a great deal of attention.  But Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith also died in that attack.  And their families can have different opinions.  As C.I. noted a few weeks back, this was not a private matter, this was not suicide.  This was four Americans being killed in an attack because they were Americans.  That makes it a public event and that makes it everyone's business.

Jim: Agreed.  And the press and the president have presented it as, "Chris Stevens died! Oh, and three other guys."  It's very insulting.  Ruth?

Ruth: Marcia was hurrying and I will too but Sean Smith's mother had already made clear that she wanted answers.  Now Tyrone Woods' father has done the same.  I'm very curious to see whether the press will continue to stone wall now?  This is a major issue and the American people should not have to wait until after the election to find out what happened.  This is nonsense.  The White House should have been able to answer as to their response and their information within three days tops.  This does not need weeks to figure out where the ball was dropped.  It is a stalling tactic with the hopes that it will not effect the election.  I think it will.

Jim: Thank you, Ruth, thank you, Marcia.  We're over time.  But I need to include Joan Crawford.  Ava and C.I. have apparently mentioned her numerous times in pieces lately.  And a number of readers were wondering if they were making fun of her?

Ava: No.  Actually, we've been trading off taking notes to work on a rough draft of a piece we'll be doing this edition that notes Joan Crawford.  We like Joan.  Anyone who likes Joan will enjoy reading the piece we're going to write.  We try to use women in our writing as much as possible.  We don't accept the premise that, when writing, you must be 'universal' by referencing men.  Why Joan so much in recent weeks?  I have no idea.  We have been talking about doing a piece on her, the one we're writing for this edition in fact, for about six weeks now.  So that may be why the references started popping up more regularly.  But you'll find Joan Crawford references in our 2005 writing as well.

Jim: Back to Stan, I know I need to wrap up, but Stan, you're the movie reviewer.  Every Friday, you cover movies at your site.  This year alone, you've covered Straight Jacket and Sudden Fear.  How do you rank Joan of actresses in the first half of the 20th century?

Stan: I'd rank her up to 1960.  After that, there are some good moments but not really anything to rave over.  But I was really surprised, as I explored her films, just how strong an actress she is.  Bette Davis is clearly the best film actress.  No one comes close.  But I would rank Joan Crawford higher than Katharine Hepburn.  Joan's accused of being mannered and one-note by some but I've found that to be the case with Katharine Hepburn much more than Crawford.  I also think Crawford aged better.  People say she got 'butcher' or 'more masculine' as the years passed.  Maybe.  But she stayed an adult.  Hepburn starts coming off like the 40 and 50 year old virgin whose mind's gone.  She's the little girl who can't grow up.  Joan had an interesting career and played some interesting roles.  I'd say she's one of the top actresses of her era and well ahead of Katharine Hepburn.

Jim: Alright.  This has been a rush transcript.  Thank you to Dallas for any links in this piece. 

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