Ava: Where are Ty, Jim, Dona and Jess? Jess has taken our baby to his folks for the holidays. Actually, he's met our baby at his folks. I dropped her off Friday and Jess arrived later that day. Why am I not there? I'm with our baby all the time. Jess and his family deserve some solo time. I'll be celebrating with family on the West Coast. Ty and his boyfriend went back East to holiday with his grandmother. Jim and Dona hadn't planned on going anywhere because there was a disagreement about whose family to go to. That got settled at the last minute and they and their baby are celebrating with both sets of parents in neutral territory. We encouraged as many people to take off as possible and enjoy the holiday. We're looking to e-mails for the topics of this roundtable. First up, Charlie e-mailed about the December 4th "Iraq snapshot" where C.I. reports on attending a Bradley Manning event. C.I. called the event out for many reasons and Charlie writes, "I agree with most points but don't see why it hurts for Brad's attorney to refuse press requests." C.I.?
C.I.: I've stated my opinion and rather than re-state it now, I choose to utilize a valuable resource we have with us, Rebecca. Rebecca's career was in p.r. She was so good at it, she was able to sell her business and retire very early.
Ava: Okay, to Rebecca. Since she was not at the event, let me put this on the record, this is what C.I. reported and offered on that aspect:
Rebecca: Well what C.I. said was 100% correct. If you're the attorney of a client the government wants to disappear, it is your job to court the press. You want them to feel vested in the outcome of the case. If they don't, it becomes very easy for them to just spit out what the government says about Bradley or, worse, ignore the whole case. It's stupidity for any attorney to do what Coombs was bragging about doing. It's a huge p.r. mistake to have done it and it's nothing to brag about. As C.I. pointed out at the end of what you just read, that does go a long way towards explaining why his client has gotten so little press. You really do have to baby the press. I'm serious. You have to hold their hand and flatter them and build up their esteem. And that's just to get coverage for someone not being targeted by the government. Coombs is an idiot when it comes to p.r. I hope he's better at the law.
Ava: Thank you, Rebecca. Cedric, Nola e-mailed about your joint-posts with Wally -- Cedric and Wally do humor posts together and post them at both of their sites. Nola wants to know why "Princess Barry" and if you're sticking with it?
Cedric: We pioneered "celebrity" Barack. We did that back when he was a candidate in the primaries. Once he became president, we made it "celebrity in chief" and added Barry O! to make it like Jackie O! But we've doen that and we're trying to find a new monicker. Due to his relationship with Psy -- someone who he should never speak to since he is commander in chief and Psy twice publicly called for the deaths of US soldiers and their families -- we've gone with Princess Barry. I'm not sure if we're sticking with it or not. Whatever we're using when the inauguration rolls around will probably be what we stick with throughout the four years -- if we're online those four years.
Ava: And why "princess"?
Cedric: Because Bitch Barry upset too many people. I'm not joking. After Barack got all over Psy we did use "bitch" in at least one post and a few people wrote nice e-mails saying they were bothered by that -- they've written to express that they're fine with Princess Barry -- and we didn't want to alienate our regular readers. But "bitch"? Yeah, that's what I think he is after he attended that concert that Psy performed at and then went backstage to tell Psy how great he thought Psy was. I think he's disgusting.
Kat: And I'll agree with that. I wrote about that at my site. He really disgraced the office by attending that concert. Finding out that he went backstage and congratulated the man who called for the deaths of US soldiers and their families? I can't stand him in any way right now. And Cedric and I are using "soldiers" because that's the term Psy used. We'd use "service members" otherwise.
Ava: Alright. Ann's the topic of DeLisa's e-mail. Ann, she wants to thank you for all your work tracking the gender balance in guests on NPR's Tell Me More. She notes that you didn't do that most of last week and wonders if you're done tracking the show? She e-mailed Thursday morning, by the way. So she was unaware that Ann didn't write about Tell Me More at all last week.
Ann: Right. I had a bigger issue, to me anyway, for Monday and then got called names -- the n-word -- in e-mails for covering the topic. Is that supposed to scare me off? You don't me, bullies, it just means I'll write about it again. And it was so nice to have the week off from that awful show. I may play hooky again next week.
Ava: I wouldn't blame you a bit. And two e-mails, one from Kelli and one from Lesley, came in saying to congratulate Ann and Cedric on the baby they're going to have. How's your pregnancy by the way?
Ann: After having morning sickness basically 24 hours a day my first weeks, it's been too smooth of late. I have some aches in my hips and that's about it.
Cedric: If I can add something --
Cedric: I found out my wife was pregnant October 17th. Because C.I. put a note in that day's snapshot for me to read what my wife had written the night before. I get e-mails asking me to this day about that and am I mad? First off, C.I. did not say, "Ann is pregnant!" She steered me to a post my wife wrote that I had read but not paid attention to. Second, Ann was having a difficult start of the pregnancy and she didn't need to go through it alone. But her plan was to tell me the day after the election because I always do all these activities with our local Democratic Party chapter. I went ahead and explained I wouldn't have time for that and that's what was needed. C.I. did not spoil it as some have wondered and if she had spoiled that would have been fine. If Wally had figured it out, he told me he would have just picked up the phone and said, "Cedric, Ann's pregnant and you need to drop these volunteer activities."
Ava: Ann, anything to add?
Ann: Just that I was surprised C.I. got my pregnancy from that post I wrote. And I'm happy she did what she did because I did want to share the news but was sitting on it due to the election and Cedric's schedule.
Ava: Trina, is that you I hear humming?
Trina: It is. I love this. Is it a CD?
Ava: No, it's our MP3 playlist -- our relaxing one. Most weeks, Kat, Wally, C.I. and me are on the road talking about the wars. As we drive around and sit on planes, we have a lot of time to listen to music. Sometimes Wally will have his guitar in the car and he'll strum something and we'll sing along. Other times, we'll listen to local stations to get a sense of a place. But a lot of times we're listening to our playlists. This one, the one Trina's humming to, is our k.d. lang playlist.
Trina: I did not know she had covered Joni Mitchell's "Jericho."
Ava: And a few tracks on in, you'll hear her cover Joni's "A Case Of You" as well. Music, we all love music. Kat, you're gearing up for your year-in-review piece, right?
Kat: Right. So I'm not going to be able to do another album review. I'll be including an album that I love in the top ten. I was hoping to give it an individual review but there just wasn't time. I've got five albums picked for my top ten but that's it so far. I'll either have mine posted December 31st or January 1st. Martha and Shirley are hoping to have their year in books up on the 31st, by the way.
Ava: Ruth, your radio piece?
Ruth: I will be writing that the night of the 31st so I have no idea when it will go up. I have no idea if I will be able to finish it that night.
Isaiah: I am trying to figure out if there is a comic I can do that day. I just don't know. Stan and Ava also have to do their year in movies.
Stan: We plan to have that up at our sites on the 31st and people always ask about it being reposted by C.I. Ann and I are so flattered. When that thing goes up at The Common Ills, C.I. always waits until the next day, our traffic soars. A good day for me is about 600 hits. I'm in the thousands for days after that goes up at The Common Ills as people click the link not to read the piece -- the whole thing is up at The Common Ills -- but to check out a few other things I've written.
Ava: And, C.I., the year-in-review you write?
C.I.: I have no ideas at this point. My plan is to attend the party I'm throwing, to drink throughout, to then go back to the bedroom, boot up the computer by two or so in the morning, continue drinking like crazy and bang out something.
Ava: Iraq is in the news like crazy and we got a ton of e-mails on that. I need to correct that. Iraq is at The Common Ills like crazy. Most US news outlets are still ignoring Iraq. We're hoping to have at least two Iraq features this edition. But an e-mail noted Mike covered Iraq in "Nouri's next move?" last week and wondered why he didn't cover Iraq more?
Mike: I think that's a good question. The easy answer is that C.I. covers it every day, several times every day, and does an excellent job of it. But Betty, Ruth and I were on the phone last week and talking about how crazy things were in Iraq and how little coverage there was of that so we all wrote about it that night -- Betty with "The news today" and Ruth with "Another reason for concern in Iraq" -- and I think we should probably try to do that once a week.
Betty: I would agree with that. There's a point in not writing about Iraq, to be clear. This is something p.r. wizard Rebecca came up with long ago. We all repost the snapshot at our sites so you've got Iraq amplified that way. But if we write about something other than Iraq, we may get someone reading us who doesn't normally and when they're done with whatever topic we were going on about, they can read the Iraqi snapshot and be reminded that the suffering hasn't ended for Iraqis, not at all.
Ava: The biggest threat to Iraq currently?
Elaine: Nouri al-Maliki. KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani made that call this weekend and I agree with it.
Betty: And it's really important -- it's vitally important -- that we grasp that the US government both installed him in 2006 and insisted he get a second term in 2010 -- despite the fact that the prime minister-designate in 2010 should have been a member of Iraqiya since they came in first in the elections and his State of Law came in second.
Elaine: Exactly. The US government loves to talk democracy and they will even back that up if it happens to be in their interest. It was not in the interest of the US government for their puppet Nouri to be replaced in 2010 so Barack Obama demanded Nouri get a second term.
Mike: Taking a giant crap on the Iraqi people, the votes, the Constitution and democracy in the process.
Trina: I'm in complete agreement. Nouri has proven to be a failure in his six years. The Iraqi people are no safer, they still struggle with the most basic of public services, unemployment is off the charts and yet he's importing nurses and doctors from other countries instead of instituting a massive training program to allow Iraqis to become doctors and nurses? He's a disgrace. I'm sorry if I'm kind of out of it but I always loved "Bird On A Wire" and hadn't ever heard k.d. lang's version.
Ava: It's really a great mix, isn't it?
Trina: As soon as we're done with the roundtable, I'm going to Amazon and downloading a ton of k.d. tracks. I have Ingenue but that's it. I clearly need a great deal more.
Ava: And music is entertainment as well as nourishment. On the topic of entertainment, Gossip Girl wrapped up last Monday night and Marcia wrote "Gossip Girl as it should have ended" offering her take on the show. Marcia, we had 15 e-mails asking about that, specifically why you decided to do that and could you do it with another show?
Marcia: I guess I could. I got such tremendous response from that post. I watched the finale. I was a huge fan of season one. I struggled through season two and by season three they were on their own. But I did watch the series finale and just felt like it was lacking several things including some honesty about sexuality. So I wrote up, basically, a slash-fiction version. I had the idea during the final scene when I realized nothing was going to end the way I thought it should. As for doing it again, I have no problem if I've got some inspiration.
Ava: Good. And we're going to wind down on that note.