Sunday, January 19, 2014


Jim: It's roundtable time.  We're going to cover Lynne Stewart, Iraq, the media and a few other things probably.  This will be a more relaxed roundtable and if something pops up, will explore that topic. Remember our new e-mail address is Please note that is a change. Participating in 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):  Longtime reader William writes that Lynne Stewart is free and we haven't noted it.

Ty: We have covered Lynne Stewart more here than anyone except an Oval Office occupant.  Seriously, Lynne has always been covered at this site.  We picked her as "2013 Person of the Year" and did so right before her release.  And January 5th, we carried "Lynne Stewart freed (Dolores Cox, Workers World)."  Obviously, we're happy for her and wish her the best.

Jim: And the pick for person of the year was by all of us, we all felt she was person of the year and that we needed to make her that to show our support.  But that piece was largely C.I. and she was already getting sick then.

C.I.: I'll cop to that.  It's more than a cold, it's less than a flu.  And it lingers.  I'm still coughing up phlegm -- it's like being a heavy smoker. Ava's got it still too.

Ava: And it's also fever for both of us and I also have a runny nose.  I'm very glad my daughter hasn't caught it.

C.I.: But, as Mike has noted, at its worst, you really can't think.  You just sort of drift away.  I had that for at least eight days.  It was very hard to write anything at The Common Ills or dictate the snapshots.  Speaking only for me, I wasn't able to write anything else on Lynne.  I'm very happy that she's out, she needs to be.  I'm very hopeful that she'll get solid medical treatment.  But I'm very sad about the time that was taken from her, I'm very sad that the cancer's returned.  When we wrote the person of the year piece, I could barely stay awake, I was so sick.

Jim: And I kept demanding that she stay up and focus. C.I.'s the one who came up with the angle about the love story, by the way. The editorial's are often conversations, with Dona or someone writing down key sentences.  This is in the editorial:

And it really was one of the great romantic stories of the left.  Lynne, an Anglo White woman, and Ralph, an African-American man, meet in the mid-60s, at a Harlem school, fall in love and make a life and family together.

Jim (Con't): That was from the conversation.  And it was part of what Dona put in her notes and when we read the notes after to figure out our editorial, that stood out.

Dona: Honestly, too often the editorial 'conversation' is C.I. and Jim with Jim basically boring down on C.I. to come up with something different.

Jim: Because we have covered Lynne so much, as Ty noted.  And to do it in another piece, especially if we were going to name her person of the year, we needed to write about her in a different way to make the piece fresh.

Dona: And we did.  And we even used an opening that Ava and C.I. had written for another piece that we scrapped.  I don't even remember the topic now of that piece but the whole Miley Ray Cyrus, Curiosity, Ed Snowden opening was written by Ava and C.I. for another piece for the edition.  Ava, do you remember what it was on?

Ava: No.  C.I. and I were doing shots of Robitussin -- we were on our second bottle probably -- we consumed three each during that edition, that I do remember.  And we had no idea what we were writing.  I think the piece that came from was a piece that maybe one more paragraph to it before we sort of zoned out and gave up on it.

Rebecca: Can we talk about this flu-cold?  I ask because I keep getting e-mails about it.  In Colorado, for example, I have two readers who've had it and they have had it now for about a month.

Jim: Sure, it's supposed to be all over the country.  Trina, you didn't have it but your husband did.

Trina: Right.  I got a flu shot.  I think that's really the only way to avoid it.  Ava and C.I. usually get flu shots but were in DC for hearings so much that they weren't in California and kept forgetting to get their shots.  My husband probably passed it on to Elaine and Mike's daughter, my granddaughter, and that's where C.I. and Ava caught it.  My husband's still coughing at night, by the way.  The fever's gone, the runny nose, the being wiped out and just sleeping all day, all that's gone.  But he's still coughing at night.  One thing that's helping there is Vic's Vapo Rub.  He puts some on his chest and some on the bottom of his nose.  This keeps the coughing from being so bad it wakes him up.

Jim: But you?

Trina: Oh, yes, it wakes me up.  But that's fine.  I just go back to sleep.

Jim: Mike, you caught it.

Mike: I did.  I had a very mild case in that it probably lasted 36 hours if that.  But, at the worst of it, I couldn't even blog.  It was a Thursday night and I didn't do a post.  And I didn't do a make up post which I've done before when life's been too hectic to do a post.  I couldn't.  All Thursday through Friday evening, I just was a blur.  And I had even gotten on my laptop and was just staring and Elaine finally suggested I just forget blogging for the night.  Which I did.  But I don't know how C.I. did it.  She had it so much worse and she had to deal with multiple sources, multiple links in those snapshots, big ideas, big themes, broad vistas, so much more than I ever do at my site.  That night, for example, when I couldn't blog, I was supposed to be blogging about the TV show Elementary that I had just watched.  I couldn't get my brain to focus. That's the weird thing, you just sort of stare a lot.

Jim: Betty, you got it too.

Betty: Yeah.  And like Mike said, you just stare a lot. "I'm going to turn off the TV," you think to yourself, looking at the remote in arm's length.  But 20 minutes later, you suddenly realize you still haven't turned off the TV.  Like C.I., I couldn't eat.  Ava didn't have that problem, but for me everything tasted bitter, even chocolate and cotton candy -- my oldest son got me some cotton candy thinking that wouldn't taste bitter.  Even it did.  And thank God he could tell because otherwise I would've eaten the whole thing just to be nice.  I probably slept 19 hours for three days in a row.  Cold medicine was not helping me.  C.I.'s house keeper very kindly brought me chicken broth to drink -- I couldn't even stand noodles in chicken noodle soup, they were too bitter tasting to me.  And she insisted I take two calcium, magnesium and zinc combo pills every time she caught me awake.

Jim: Trina, can I come back to you for a moment.  You called out, early on, a local TV personality in your area for dismissing the sun.

Trina: Right.  This cold-flu, whatever it is, that some people have died from this year, is serious and in my area, Boston, we had this idiot go on TV and say that we'd have a little bit of brightness and sun and then he went on to say that this didn't matter and people get colds in tropical areas and blah blah blah.  The sun does matter.   If you've got sunshine, get out in it for at least 20 minutes.  At least.  It's the best source of vitamin D there is.  And vitamin D will help you get better.  I don't know about the other two but zinc is good to combat a cold as well.  And the chicken broth -- either by itself or in a chicken based soup -- will break up the phlegm in the chest from a cold so that's good as well.

Jim: Jess, you also caught it.

Jess: I was out with it for two weeks.  I couldn't and can't believe it.  I consider myself a healthy person.  I don't eat meat, I run six days a week, I lift weights three times a week.  But for two weeks, I basically only got out of bed to use the bathroom.  And I'd be standing at the toilet, urinating, and thank goodness that's something automatic because I was so out of it that it'd be like I took a little nap or something when I started peeing and suddenly woke up.  It really does a number on you, like Mike was saying.  And I'll be honest, it also depresses you, it makes you feel like dying, are like you are dying.  There were times in those two weeks that I honestly thought I was going to die.  I'm not joking.

Jim: It's weird though because not everyone gets it.  Trina's husband got it but no one else in the house did -- that would be Trina, Mike's oldest brother and his daughter.  Her granddaughter did and so did Mike but Elaine didn't. Jess and Ava both got it but their daughter didn't.  Now in Trina's case, she had a flu shot.  In Betty's case, her three kids had a flu shot but Betty didn't.  Dona and I live with Ava and Jess and we didn't get -- and our kid didn't get -- sick.  But Dona and I didn't have the flu shot.

Elaine: I would offer up that it seemed to be those who were weakened.  C.I., for example, was extended far beyond anyone's idea of reasonable limitations.  She was exhausted when she was exposed.  I think Ava was as well.  I know Mike's father was because he was on the go with last minute Christmas shopping, with family repairs -- his parents and Trina's parents both had home projects right at Christmas -- and Betty's been working like a dog since before the Thanksgiving break.  Jess, I'm sorry, I don't know your schedule.  Were you getting enough rest?

Jess:  No.  I think your point's well taken.  I'd also point out that Betty and I are fully recovered now but Ava and C.I. aren't.  That may be because Betty and I took to our beds and stayed there until we were better.  Ava and C.I. had to do speaking things and I remember telling C.I. she was too sick to be going back to DC but she said Petraeus --

C.I.: Ray Odierno.

Jess: Sorry, Ray Odierno.  She said Odierno was speaking the next day, a Tuesday, and that the press would get his remarks wrong.  She was there, the snapshot has his remarks and, yes, the press did get it wrong.  But I think she should have stayed home and stayed in bed to get better.  My opinion.  But I also understand her point, Odierno's remarks needed to be noted.  And, as she suspected, he places the blame for the current crises in Iraq on Nouri and specifically on the 2010 events.

Betty: And that is important, to get the record right.  C.I.'s been a lone voice calling out the US government for imposing a second term of Nouri as prime minister on Iraq.  They did that via The Erbil Agreement which they got the heads of the political blocs to sign and which Nouri used long enough to get his second term and then promptly disregarded it.  Odierno was the only one, ahead of the 2010 elections, in the US government that saw Nouri not winning the elections and then refusing to step down -- which is exactly what happened.  So, yes, we all want a full strength, healthy C.I. But I completely understand and respect why she went to DC for that.

Marcia: I agree.  And on the topic of The Erbil Agreement, my grandmother -- this is the one Stan and I share, we're cousins -- was at the beauty parlor last Wednesday and Iraq came up, the violence that's getting attention right now even from US TV news, and she was able to explain to them about The Erbil Agreement, how Nouri lost the 2010 elections and the White House brokered this legal contract that gave Nouri a second term in exchange for various concessions from him to the other political bloc and how Nouri used it to get his second term but then said implementing the contract would have to wait and how, by the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya were all calling for it to be implemented.  But this power-sharing agreement was never implemented.  And this is what the various crises today stem from.  She said everyone was so impressed with her knowledge and they said she must watch the news twenty hours each day to which she replied, she just reads her grandkids' websites and The Common Ills.

Stan: Yeah, I heard about that too. Only, I heard it from your mother and had to call our grandmother to get her to tell me the story.  The Erbil Agreement is so important and so many people in the US don't know about it.  They don't know that when Parliament finally held its session in November 2010 naming the president and the prime minister-designate, Nouri then announced that the contract would have to wait and Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, walked out and Barack Obama gets him on the phone and asks him to please return to Parliament.  Because this is all a big, fake photo-op for the US.

Jim: Why don't people know about The Erbil Agreement?  We'll be guessing here, I know, but this was November 2010, the US still had large numbers of troops in the country, there was still limited American media coverage of Iraq.  Why don't people know?

Ruth: Well go to the snapshots for that time period.  What you will notice -- what I have noticed when I pull them up now -- is that really The Guardian newspaper out of England did a better job than anyone.  After that, you have Reuters which is an international newswire service.  But American outlets really were not interested in covering The Erbil Agreement.

Jim: Because?

Ann: Because it reveals what a fraud the US government is.  I mean think about what was done there with that contract.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  Allawi should be prime minister today.  Why isn't he?  Because Nouri refused to step down.  Can you imagine the outrage in January 2009 if Bush had said he wasn't leaving the White House?  That's what Nouri did.  And the US government backed him on that. He brought the country to a stand still for over 8 months.  Parliament wasn't meeting.  Nothing was happening.  And the White House backed him throughout this.  Then, to make it worse, they negotiate a contract that gives this loser a second term.  Of course the US media didn't cover it.

Wally: Right because it's so revealing.  The government lies that they're bringing democracy to Iraq but, in 2010, they don't like the way the Iraqi people voted so Barack pisses on democracy.  It's brand new to Iraq, this idea that citizens are in charge.  And Barack pisses on that notion, says forget who you wanted to lead the country, I want Nouri so he's going to lead.  Why even have elections if the US government's going to overrule you?  Of course the US media didn't cover The Erbil Agreement.  That contract goes against democracy, against everything we supposedly stand for as a country.

Isaiah: Yeah, but -- I agree with what Wally and Ann and Ruth are saying -- but if Bully Boy Bush had been in the White House in 2010, the media would have crucified him for this.  Certainly, The Progressive and The Nation would have gone to town on him.  But since it was Barack, everyone looked the other way.

Cedric: Can -- I'm sorry, Isaiah, were you done?

Isaiah: Yeah, it's fine.

Cedric: I think, and this is point Jim and C.I. have both made for years but one I'm finally starting to grasp, that Bully Boy Bush became an embarrassment to the country and so the media turned on him.  That's big media, small media, all of them out to get him.  And good, I don't care for Bully Boy Bush.  But they weren't upset about illegal wars.  They weren't upset about spying or Guantanamo.  They were upset that he was such a buffoon, he basically fell down and embarrassed himself and the actions.  So they get behind smooth talker Barack and they don't care about anything but helping him sell imperialism.  They don't care about anything.  And there real problem with Bully Boy Bush was that he became a lousy salesperson for empire.  If he'd been able to move more cars off the lot, they would have kept him and kept fluffing for him.

Isaiah: I think that's a really strong point.  The Nation and The Progressive should be leading the way right now but they're not able to.  Why?  Because Barack's a Democrat?  Maybe.  Or maybe it's because, for all of their pretense during the Bully Boy Bush years, they're okay with empire -- especially when it's a Democrat leading it.

Kat: Yes.  That's really the case.  I mean, let's remember, The Nation had an expose on Senator Dianne Feinstein and they killed it. She's helping her husband get rich and abusing her position but The Nation kills the piece.  They're not about reporting.  They're not about issues.  They're about pimping empire but from the Democratic Party side.  The magazine has never been as bad as it is today.  And it's been plenty bad before.  I can remember Naomi Klein, when she still had bravery, talking about how when she wrote about what James Baker was doing in Iraq, the magazine really didn't want to know about what Madeline Albright was doing -- both were involved.  The Nation is more than okay with empire when carried out by Dems.

Jim: And The Progressive?

Rebecca: It's Salon dumbed down even further.

Jim:  I believe that's where the reader says, "Snap!"  And on that note we'll wind down the roundtable. Again, this is a rush transcript.

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