Sunday, October 24, 2010


Jim: One ground rule for this roundtable: No WikiLeaks. We're planning to make that the editorial so I'm blocking that topic off. We are focusing on current events and many of them were raised in e-mails from readers. 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): Ty has an e-mail that's becoming fairly common. Ty?

Ty: This week it was Sandra asking when Terry Gross' sexism will be addressed next?

Ann: Well I address it every day at my website. September, for example, found Terry airing only two interviews with women. One was an old interview with Dolly Parton. She does a two-week salute to country music and Dolly's the only woman she can highlight. In terms of here, there are times when I say no on an article with Ava and C.I. on this topic just because I'm tired. They could go ahead and write it on their own and I'm okay with that. But there are other issues at play as well.

Ava: Right. This week we don't know what we're writing. We're doing something on Juan Williams. We're either doing an entertainment or a television news piece in addition to that. So the idea of doing a piece with Ann, fun though it might be, isn't possible this week. And we thought -- C.I. and I -- that we could do it this week. That changed last week when the attacks on LGBT rights started and we realized that would be a topic. Then the WikiLeaks thing came along. There's just too much this week. But as Ann pointed out, she covers it Monday through Friday at her site and, as I'll point out, she does a great job of it.

Jim: Okay and that brings up the big topic in the e-mails this week. Background, Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- which allows the military to discharge anyone they suspect of being gay -- was unconstitutional. She also ordered an injunction against the discharges. The White House claims to want to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, yet they've fought this ruling. And last week, the injunction -- not the ruling, the injunction -- was halted by a group of federal appeals judges. Ruth, you were among the ones who didn't write about the topic last week. I believe it was Ruth and Ann, correct?

Ruth: I believe that is correct. We were not in the mood when the ruling came down. We were both furious. Speaking for me, it is very difficult for me not to get very angry on this topic. My grandson Jayson is gay. It is very personal to me. Mike wrote Wednesday night, in "An ugly day," about how many of us were just too upset to write. Some of us, like Kat, were able to write about the topic the next day. Some of us were not able to. Ann and I were two who could not.

Ann: I would think, "I'll work it in tonight, just a sentence." But it just depressed me too much, I'm sorry. I knew that, by reposting the snapshot, anyone visiting my site could read about it because C.I. covered the topic in great detail in the snapshots. But I just wasn't able to cover it. Betty used the word "bitch" in her post "Sick of the ass in the White House" but changed it to "ass" before posting it. And I know that Marcia's "Valerie Jarrett, nobody voted for you, shut up" was 'upsetting' for at least two people who e-mailed her to whine. But if I'd written, my words would have been much more vulgar. When I'm that angry, I use every curse word I know.

Jim: And you were very angry?

Ann: And I am very angry.

Jim: Your husband was angry too. Cedric, you and Wally wrote -- joint-post -- "Shame on you, Mark Sherman" and "THIS JUST IN! STOP WHORING!" and did so early Thursday morning because you were too angry to write Wednesday night when the decision had been released.

Cedric: What I found interesting was the community reaction. Some, like Betty and Mike, for example, found a way to write about it immediately. Others found important topics to cover instead. A number of us were, quite honestly, frozen with anger. And, of course, C.I. didn't have the option of not writing since she writes three times a day during the week. So she had to cover it. And did. But I do wonder what would happen if it had been some other topic? I'm talking about within the community. We took that decision very personally.

Jim: Okay and I'm going to call a break on the topic, we'll come back to it in a bit. But first off, Dona has an e-mail regarding last week's "Roundtable." Dona?

Dona: Laurel e-mailed to take issue with Trina, Kat and Wally over their comments. She writes, "Everyone says they don't like attack ads but attacks do influence elections." Anyone?

Trina: I don't remember saying that attacks ads didn't influence. Clearly, from my statements, I was influenced. It made me completely uninterested in the elections. Furthermore, I was stating that no one had anything but attacks and I wasn't commenting, grasp this, on advertisements. I was talking about the never-ending attacks. I was talking about speeches, I was talking about debates. I believe I was clear that the attacks were turning me off.

Kat: I'll agree that Trina was clear and that she didn't raise the issue of ads. I don't know if Wally or I did. I'd have to go back and look. I doubt we did --

Jim: You didn't.

Kat: Okay, thank you. I didn't think so and my reason for not thinking so is that I thought Wally and I were referring to what we encountered on the road when we were speaking, to what people were saying.

Jim: Wally?

Wally: I have nothing to add, really. Sorry that Lauren --

Dona: Laurel.

Wally: Laurel. Sorry that Laurel thought we were referring to advertisements. I don't even watch TV. I'll stream online and I can't think of any ads I've seen on Hulu for political campaigns. The closest to watching political campaign ads I've come was a fact check that NPR's been doing on Morning Edition. I try to watch the network news at least three times a week via iTunes but there's no commercial for political campaigns in those podcasts. I really couldn't comment on advertisements because I haven't seen them.

Jim: Thank you. Can I ask a question of C.I., for a second? Wally catches three broadcasts a week. I'm wondering if you could sketch out what you catch? You and Ava, Wally and Kat are all on the road together. Here, you and Ava write about TV and frequently, such as in "The continued quest for inclusion," last week, you're covering TV news at The Common Ills.

C.I.: I have friends with all three commercial broadcast news and with PBS. What can happen is that one of them calls and says, "We've got ___ on today's ___" in which case, I'll check it out or, if pressed for time, say, "Give me a pull quote, give me an overview." I'll write up from that and link. If it applies. I'm pitched much more than ever goes up at the sites. Now in the case of the entry I did that you just named, in that case, I made a point to get all three plus The NewsHour on PBS because I knew that they should have covered it. It? I'm sorry, we're back to the judges allowing discharges to take place Don't Ask, Don't Tell yet again. So I watched all three broadcasts and only CBS Evening News with Katie Couric covered it. And PBS' The NewsHour did a better job than anyone in covering it, they did it with a news report and with a discussion. Again, in that case or a shooting on a base, I will check out all the coverage and evaluate it. Ava and I are checking out all of Friday's newscasts right now in case we're doing a WikiLeaks piece -- Ava and I alone doing one regarding the TV coverage. Did that answer your question?

Jim: Yeah in a way but I'm referring to Barry's e-mail more than anything else. He noted that you repeatedly, at The Common Ills, have things that aren't noticed and then get noticed. He used as an example your early coverage of Anthony Shadid's speech on a military coup possibly taking place in Iraq, covered by an obscure, little known Texas newspaper, and you explore that and then Barry sees it slowly pop up, days later, at other sites.

C.I.: That was a newspaper and not a TV thing. In that case, I don't remember the paper, I'm sorry. Wait, it's Mark Schlachtenhaufen of The Edmond Sun, I think that's right, who reported it. In that instance, a friend with AP actually read the article and called me about it. If people, this may get to what you're asking, think I'm reading one million papers a week and viewing every newscast and listening to every radio program, I'm certainly not. I'm on the road talking about Iraq and I'm dependent upon friends to call things to my attention -- and certainly community members do that as well -- and from that we get what we cover at The Common Ills. Does that get to your question?

Jim: It does. The biggest issue in the e-mails about roundtables? That C.I. doesn't speak of late in these roundtables. She and Ava take notes for this transcript piece -- they do not help type it up arguing they've already taken all the notes -- and that's part of the reason another is that she just doesn't feel like it because she feels that others need more of a chance to talk than she does.

Mike: Well, let me add to that because I wrote about this at my site last week. C.I.'s point is that she's doing at least 19 entries herself at The Common Ills each week while those of us with sites do 5. In addition, she can usually comment on most things while someone like Ann has to cover Fresh Air or Cedric and Wally have to turn whatever they cover into a humor piece. So they've got more restrictions on them at their sites and this is a forum where they can talk about things they might not get to otherwise. Also, she and Ava write at least one piece for this site each week, so they've got that as an outlet.

Jim: But it is a problem with readers of this site that, of late, C.I.'s not talking in these things. For weeks now that's been the biggest complaint in e-mails to this site.

C.I.: Well I'm sorry if someone was bothered. I don't feel I need to hog the show or steal the limelight. I'm perfectly happy just taking notes in the roundtable and not saying anything. Before another round of e-mails come in, I haven't had anything I said deleted, I just didn't say anything. For the reasons that Mike stated. I've spoken this time. Back to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Elaine: Which I will grab both to move the conversation along and because I didn't talk about it at mine. Why? I just journal. I'm not a blogger. I journal. I do a poor job, as I well know. Friday's entry had to be WikiLeaks. Thursdays I don't post. Wednesday, I knew about the decision but I didn't fully grasp it and needed additional coverage before I weighed in. I think C.I. has done a solid job of pointing out that there was Don't Ask, Don't Tell case in 2009 that the White House refused to appeal on because they didn't want Elena Kagan, then the White House Solictor General, to have to argue in court because they felt it would be "embarrassing" to her since she'd come out against Don't Ask, Don't Tell while at Harvard. So this notion that they had to file is nonsense. They never have to file. Administration often don't file. If Barack's against Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- as he insists he is -- then there was no need to file. In fact, I wish we'd do what C.I. did. In a snapshot last week, one of the aspects she raised was tax payer monies. I'd love to see us do a short piece on that. There was no logic behind appealing the injunction. Not when, supposedly, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is mere weeks away from repeal.

Marcia: I agree with Elaine and I'll add that nothing about it makes sense. They claim they want to repeal it -- the White House, Barack -- but their actions say otherwise. Now what are we supposed to judge by: Words or actions? I was always told it was actions. By his actions, Barack doesn't want to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Rebecca: Which is a really important point. Especially with Barack. We're sick of his 'pretty words' and they're turning out to be lies. Americans have every right to judge him by his actions and his actions insist that he is not opposed to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I want to throw in GetEQUAL's statement on the issue:

Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL — a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization — issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law:

“This temporary stay, sought by President Obama’s Department of Justice, brings the military’s discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House.”

Rebecca (Con't): And, if I could, this is the Human Rights Campaign's statement:

Today the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed Judge Virginia Phillip's injunction regarding the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, in effect reviving the law that bars openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following statement: "The revival of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law is a sad day for all Americans who want the best and brightest service members defending our country. Today's decision only furthers our resolve to send this law to the dustbin of history and also draws a spotlight on the administration to make good on their pledge to end these discharges that damage our national security."

Stan: And on the subject of the White House fighting in favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Ted Olson was the Solictor General in the Bush adminstration and he states they didn't have to appeal the judge's decision: "It happens every once in a while at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the US, will confess error or decline to defend a law. I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would be appropriate for them to say, 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that'."

Betty: And yet we repeatedly get the crap that the administration had to do this, that Barack had no choice. That's bulls**t and I'm so damn sick of people covering for him. I'll tell you what else makes me sick, the silence from the left media. As Rebecca pointed out, The Nation and The Progressive have pointedly ignored this. I'm so damn sick of this attitude which is that gays can wait and take the back of the bus because reality is less important than spinning to get Democrats elected to office. It's as if each time you think they can't get any worse, The Nation and The Progressive prove you wrong. We need a real press, not a George Soros propaganda organ.

Isaiah: Well said. And it really is becoming obvious just how little our so-called 'independent' press is either 'independent' or a 'press.' And, I also agree that everyone's supposed to wait and if you object, you get someone screaming "special interests" or some such nonsense. We either have equality or we don't. The US can't be a little for equality, it's a yes or a no. And it's really telling how whoring for the Democratic Party is more important to publications like The Nation and The Progressive than the people of America are.

Jess: What bothers me is how there's been no leadership from the national Green Party. We've noted this since January 2009 but this is the time for the Green Party to show how it is different from the Democratic Party and how much like the Republican Party the Democratic Party is. But they've repeatedly refused to show that leadership and, in fact, the national party issued no statement on the injunction that again allows discharges under the unconstitutional Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Don't give me that s**t, Scott McLarty, that, "Liberals can only see as far as the next election. The Green Party is looking at the rest of the century." Well you can't tell it when the Green Party, at the national level, repeatedly fails to call out the Democratic Party on the issues that matter.

Dona: I would argue that the Green Party could have had the media attention the Tea Party now has if they had stood up -- as we repeatedly encouraged them to do in 2009 -- and been a critic of Barack from the left. They failed to stand up. There are individuals who have but, on a national level, they have been timid and scared. They've wasted time with the right which is not in charge when they should have gone after the centrist and corporatist War Hawk polices coming out of the Obama White House. This was their moment to shine, the Green Party, and thus far, my opinion, they have blown it. And I would argue that when a federal judge rules Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional and the White House fights that ruling, when the same judge ends discharges for being gay and the White House fights to reinstate the discharges, you either speak up or you admit that you're just not much of a political party. Or a news outlet to get back to the point Isaiah was making. And by the way, I am voting for Laura Wells for governor, I'm joining Betty and Jess in that.

Jim: Which brings up another thing I have to toss to C.I. for. On your silence in the most recent roundtables, some e-mails wondered if your silence was due to who people were voting for?

C.I.: Dona, Betty and Jess voting for Laura? No. I'm not bothered by that at all. I'm voting for Jerry Brown -- Ava and I noted that months and months ago. I've known Jerry forever, I will vote for him. Other people can vote as they want, that's not a problem. I've also noted I was voting for Gavin who I consider a wonderful person and friend -- Gavin Newsom. If Jerry weren't in the race, I might vote for Laura myself. But Jerry has always been loyal to me and has achieved a lot for California. I wish he had a better campaign, one that talked about his many accomplishments -- both as governor and as attorney general. I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the US Senate race. I'm leaning towards the Green Party candidate, Duane Roberts. The HRC -- Human Rights Campaign -- released a scorecard of US senators and it's embarrassing for HRC. All they cover is votes. Do we have any leadership issues? I think we do and I think Barbara Boxer would be in far less trouble than she currently is if she'd led on the issue of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I find it appalling that Carl Levin, Kirsten Gillibrand and Roland Burris have led on this issue while Boxer has not. I've heard a million excuses from her and her campaign as to why she's been such an embarrassment on the issue. The most laughable being the Prop 8 vote in 2008 here in California. Prop 8 was not about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Californians overwhelmingly support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Boxer has shirked her responsbility and walked away from an issue that could have energized her campaign. And to be clear, I'm not appalled by Levin, Gillibran and Burris leadership. I'm thrilled that they showed leadership -- and I applaud each of them for it -- but I'm appalled that it fell to them and not Barbara Boxer. In each case, they had more to lose than Boxer. It's a non-controversial issue for most Californians. More so than in many other states. Barbara Boxer should have led on it, she refused to. If I was voting today, I'd be voting for Duane. But I haven't decided yet.

Jim: Ava?

Ava: My family has worked on many of Jerry Brown's campaigns over the years. He would have my vote for what he's done and out of family loyalty. Gavin Newsom? I can't think of a better politician in the state. In terms of senator, I'm leaning towards Duane as well. And, Jim, you and Dona went to hear John Dennis speak and, honestly, the more I've thought about his stands and especially how he came across in that show C.I. and I reviewed, the more I'm considering voting for him. We're voting next weekend, so I'm still tossing it back and forth. Dennis is a Republican. He's also against the wars. He's also running against epic-fail Nancy Pelosi.

Dona: Ava, can I talk to you a little about that? We, you and I, have never voted for a Republican before. Now we're both considering voting for Dennis -- in fact, I'm sure I'm voting for him. This would be a big step for you and I'm just trying to get at why you are considering taking it. First, there's Nancy, correct?

Ava: Correct. She's stopped representing the eighth district. She's far too right-wing for the eighth district. Her positions are not what we expect from her. In addition, he really did come across well in that TV program, it was a reality program where they followed two Republicans running for Congress. Dennis came across like a human being and one concerned about ending the wars. In addition, there was the report you and Jim gave on when you heard him speak. Even Jim, who I don't think is going to vote for him -- though I could be wrong -- found things to be impressed with.

Dona: So, and this is what I wanted to ask, you've got the fact that you don't care for the incumbent, you've got the fact that, via TV, you've seen the candidate in semi-action and you've got the fact that friends have told you about him. Which mattered the most if you were ranking? I'm using you in an attempt to determine the power of word of mouth?

Ava: I love being a test case. And there's also the fact that Cindy Sheehan's blogged favorably of Dennis. I would say that they're all about equal for me. Probably the TV show was the most important because without it, I'd probably be ignoring Dennis. In our review, C.I. and I noted that the TV show, I think it was Running, allowed Dennis to come across as more of a person than did the local press coverage. And I still agree with that judgment call. And when I'm hearing you or Jim talk about his positives, I, in my mind, go back to the footage from that TV show. So I'd say it laid the groundwork.

Jim: Okay. I think we heard from everyone. I promised Wally I'd make time for him during political races.

Wally: My mother and grandfather are voting for someone and they asked me to note that. For US senator, they're voting for Charlie Crist. He is the current governor of our state, Florida, and he is running for the US senate as an independent candidate against the Republican candidate -- who leads in the polls by a huge margin -- and the Democratic candidate -- who trails Charlie. They were leaning towards it anyway due to the fact that they can't stand the Republican but RFK Jr's endorsement pushed them over to Crist's side. Not because, "It's RFK Jr.!" but because they agreed with the argument he made. Other endorsements made a difference as well, I think [US House Rep. Robert] Wexler's was a big one, but that was the deciding thing for them, RFK Jr.'s endorsement and they both wanted me to note this race.

Jim: Okay, next week we may not have time for this. A number of participants will be voting in what Mike calls "Big Mass" --

Mike: Best damn state in the union!

Jim: So, Mike, what about your vote?

Mike: I'm voting for Jill Stein for governor, she's a Green, and I'm voting for Rick Purcell for Lt. Governor. They're both Green Party candidates.

Rebecca: I'm voting for both of those candidates as well.

Trina: I'm voting for Jill Stein, otherwise I don't know. In fact, if I hadn't decided to vote for Jill, I probably wouldn't even be voting this cycle.

Jim: Anyone else?

Ann: I'll be voting Green only.

Jess: I'll be voting Green in all races Greens run in except for Lt. Govenor and I'll be voting for Gavin Newsom on that.

Ruth: I will be voting for Richard Blumenthal for the US senate for reasons which include his record, his positions and the fact that The New York Times stuck their big nose into our race and distorted and attacked Mr. Blumenthal.

Jim: Alright then. On that note we will wrap up. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }