Sunday, July 21, 2013


  Jim: It's roundtable time.  We've got a bunch of topics to get through.  Remember our new e-mail address is Please note that is a change.  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 Bradley Manning.  He's the whistle-blower who released documents and video to WikiLeaks and is currently being court-martialed.  Marcia, you've blogged about him several times over the last few weeks so what's going on?

Marcia: This week's big development would have to be that the defense's attempt to get some of the charges dropped has failed.  This includes the charge of "aiding the enemy."  Yochai Benkler had a great column at The Guardian on the implications of this decision.  One point he made that I'd like to include, "Second, the decision establishes a chilling precedent: leaking classified documents to the these newspapers can by itself be legally sufficient to constitute the offense of "aiding the enemy", if the leaker was sophisticated enough about intelligence and how the enemy uses the internet."

Dona: And this charge was the one that Amnesty International had issued a release calling for it to be dropped.

Marica: Yes, good point.  Judge Denise Lind did not feel any pressure to recognize a human rights organization's plea.

Ty: And this is one of the many topics we did not hear about last week.  In their sprawling and right-on media analysis this edition, Ava and C.I. talk about how the circus around the verdict in the George Zimmerman case was cheap and easy coverage that not only distracted from real issues but also existed to begin with because it didn't challenge power.  A neighborhood watch person is not the defense industry or the government.  A number of us want to talk about the nonsense so let's get that out now.  Trayvon Martin is the 17-year-old that was shot dead last year by George Zimmerman.  The prosecution presented their case.  It was a weak case. George Zimmerman was found not guilty.  The verdict was announced 8 days ago.  It dominated what passes for news last week.  Betty, you had a point you wanted to make.

Betty: After the frenzy the media tried to whip up over this, I found it very interesting and very telling that John Bacon (USA Today) reports "thousands" took part in protests yesterday.  That shows you how overplayed this has been in the media.  When there was the march for immigration reform --

Ava: May 1, 2008.

Betty: Thank you.  When you had the May 1, 2008 immigration reform marches, there were millions turning out.  Dallas, Texas -- to give a shout out to a community that has long been supportive of Third -- broke all previous records for protests when over one million people took part in that march for immigration reform.
So when you tell me that there were thousands, I'm not surprised.

Cedric: I'm not either.  I want to back up Betty, of course, but I also want to explain that all of us -- African-Americans -- were not of one mind the way the media portrayed it.  I found much of the media portrayals and statements last week flat out offensive.  Excuse me, Ann and I are new parents, our child is barely two months old, and it's a boy.  So we have a son.  A Black son.  And I don't need this crap about 'all Black boys are going to be hunted now' or whatever else some lunatic African-American wants to spout showing his or her ignorance and stupidity and, most of all, showing their ass.  If I can on the Zimmerman case?

Ty: Go ahead.  

Cedric: George Zimmerman was not in his house or backyard when the incident happened.  He was the designated neighborhood watch.  Don't give me that Zimmerman didn't belong there.  In addition, what kind of parent lets their child be out all night?  That's a question the father's never answered.  My opinion?  Trayvon being out at all hours -- at least with the father -- wasn't uncommon or he would have been calling the police and hospitals when two o'clock got there -- if not sooner -- asking, "Where is my son?"

Ann: And that's not, "If only he'd done that, his son would be alive!"  No.  Trayvon was dead before eight o'clock rolled around.  But it is saying that when you have gone to sleep and treated it as normal that you don't know where your son is, there's a little more going on then your media portrayal of skittles and iced tea.  It may be more to do with Trayvon, it may be more to do with the father's parenting.  And I want to point out that the mother and father were not together and he was with his father.  I would assume, based on his mother's remark, if Trayvon had been at house and not returned by ten o'clock, she'd be fuming and by midnight she'd be on the phone asking where he was.  I want to be very clear on that.  

Ty: Cedric, what is the lesson?  I agree with you 100%.  I think the fear mongering was irresponsible and damaging and I'm embarrassed by last week's coverage.  But what is your take away on this?

Cedric: I guess, first off, we have a house, Ann and I, and we know our neighborhood watch people.  If we didn't, I would make a point to introduce myself.  If my son was older, or if we had a daughter who was older, I would make a point to introduce her to make sure everyone knew everyone.  The point of a neighborhood watch is to protect the neighborhood, to make it safe.  So that's the take away for me.  I don't know though, maybe Travyon's father was living with his girlfriend and he wasn't on the lease or something and they didn't want to go around introducing themselves or whatever.  

Ann: For me, the lesson is that when the media wants to protect the government, they will focus in on one story and treat it like it's world shattering.  I'm sorry for Trayvon's parents.  I'm sure Travyon had much to offer.  It is very sad that he was killed.  But a lot of parents go through that every day.  I think there's a weariness that's set in.  I was at the beauty shop -- yes, all present were African-American -- on Saturday and the women were saying how sick they were of hearing about the verdict and the protests and all the rest.  That is the one good thing, we all have a saturation point and it appears many of us have more than reached it.

Ty: Betty?

Betty: I like what Cedric and Ann said and I'll pick up on Ann's point about the media protecting the government.  The Ed Snowden revelations about Barack's spying on the American people has still not been fully addressed by broadcast media, television media.  And how nice for them that they were able to do this cheap, shlocky coverage of feelings as opposed to going out and doing actual reporting.  They should all be ashamed of themselves.  They're not reporters, they're not even journalists.  Like Ava and C.I. say, these are the children of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones.  And don't forget, Jenny Jones was the talk show host that did a 'secret crushes' ambush episode that resulted in her guest killing a gay man who had a crush on him.  Point being, this kind of frenzy crap tends to create havoc, not heal a nation.

Ty: Okay.  So we've dealt with that now, so back to you, Jim.

Jim: Ty, did you want to say anything?

Ty: I'm sorry for Trayvon Martin.  I'm also really sorry for George Zimmerman.  He's been found innocent but is now facing Eric Holder's attempts to charge him -- which to me is double-jeopardy.  He went on trial, he was found not guilty.  I feel sorry for him because, for over a week now, television has convicted him and fanned flames against him.  

Jim: Alright.  Thank you.  Ed Snowden.  Betty just noted him.  He's the NSA whistle-blower.  He's the reason we know about Barack's spying.  Stan and Elaine, you wanted to talk about this.  

Stan: Right.  Melissa Harris-Lacewell-Perry did an open-letter to Ed on her program last Sunday -- her program no one watches.  And she blamed him for this and that including that the media has focused on his flight for asylum and how, she maintains, this distracts from the revelations.  I beg to differ.  First off, Melissa hasn't care about discussing the revelations.  Second of all, the flight is part of the story and how dare you pretend it's not.  

Elaine: I agree 100%, Stan.  The battle Ed Snowden's having trying to garner asylum is part of the story -- it illustrates perfectly how the US government will come down on anyone whose actions cause the government exposure and/or embarrassment.  The bullying of Venezuela is, to me, as frightening as forcing down Evo Morales' plane.  He is the President of Bolivia.  His plane was forced down because it was believed that, as he left Russia, he had brought Ed on board.  For that reason, treaties and international law was trashed.

Jim: Elaine, the bullying of Venezuela?

Elaine: Most recently, that's John Kerry, US Secretary of State.  RT reported that he had threatend "to close NATO airspace to the country's flights and stop crucical oil product deliveries if Caracas grants asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden."

Jim: If Harris-Lacewell-Perry doesn't care about Ed Snowden, why is she discussing him, Stan?

Stan: It gives her an opportunity to trash Ed.  She's long been a handmaiden of Barack's.  She's worthless and she has no ethics or integrity.  Also it's MSNBC policy to trash Ed and she wants to keep her bosses happy.

Jim: Do you think Ed Snowden can make it out of Russia without being grabbed by the US government?

Stan: Yes, I do.  But only if we start focusing on real issues and not whining about what happened a year ago.  I reached my saturation point on the Martin-Zimmerman case in 2012, thank you.

Jim: Okay, Rebecca, you had an issue you wanted to raise.

Rebecca: I sure did.  This is Secretary of State John Kerry from the press release the State Department issued late Friday:

SECRETARY KERRY: Good evening, everybody, thank you very much for your patience. I apologize for the delay. I’m just going to make a statement, and I’m not going to take any questions at this point in time.
On behalf of President Obama, I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is a significant and welcome step forward.
The agreement is still in the process of being formalized, so we are absolutely not going to talk about any of the elements now. Any speculation or reports you may read in the media or elsewhere or here in the press are conjecture. They are not based on fact because the people who know the facts are not talking about them. The parties have agreed that I will be the only one making further comments about this.
If everything goes as expected, Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni, Minister Livni, and Isaac Molho will be joining me in Washington to begin initial talks within the next week or so, and a further announcement will be made by all of us at that time.
I want to thank particularly His Majesty King Abdullah and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who has been really enormously helpful throughout this process. I want to thank all of them for their extraordinary hospitality to our team that has been camped here for several days, and they have helped with all of the logistics and been superb hosts and collaborators in this effort.
I also want to thank the Arab League and the committee, the joint committee – the committee with respect to the peace initiative follow-on -- who traveled here during the week and who made an important difference with their statement of support.
And then there are many, many others who have contributed, many other leaders around the world, all of whom have visited here and pushed and advocated and encouraged the notion that these talks could take place. There are too many to list, but they know who they are and we are very, very grateful. It will take their ongoing effort in order to be able to have any chance of making these talks the kind of success they ought to be.
I think all of us know that candid, private conversations are the very best way to preserve the time and the space for progress and understanding when you face difficult, complicated issues such as Middle East peace. The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private. Everyone knows that this is not easy. If it were, it would’ve happened a long time ago. And no one believes that the longstanding differences between the parties can be resolved overnight or just wiped away.
We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because of the courageous leadership shown by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here, and both of them were instrumental in pushing in this direction. We wouldn’t be standing here tonight if they hadn’t made the choices.
I’m most hopeful because of the positive steps that Israelis themselves and Palestinians are taking on the ground and the promise that those steps represent about the possibilities of the future. The path to resolution of this longstanding conflict in this critical corner of the world, that path is not about fate. It’s about choices, choices that people can make. And this is not up to chance. It’s up to the Israeli people and the Palestinian people and no one else.
So knowing that the road ahead will be difficult and the challenges that the parties face are daunting, we will call on everybody to act in the best of faith and push forward. The representatives of two proud people today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling and that the daunting challenges that we face are worth tackling. So they have courageously recognized that in order for Israelis and Palestinians to live together side by side in peace and security, they must begin by sitting at the table together in direct talks.
I thank those leaders. I thank all those who have worked so hard, my team especially, who have been part of this. And I look forward to seeing my friends from this region in Washington next week or very soon thereafter. Thank you very much.

Rebecca (Con't): I know that's long but this is an important issue and there's barely been any coverage on it at all.

Jim: Okay, let me stop you for a second.  C.I., Rebecca's correct?

C.I.: How I love being called upon to judge a friend -- that is sarcasm. Yes, Rebecca is right.  The best example I can think of?  Barbara Slavin was mocking John Kerry for having achieved nothing despite much travel -- mocking him Thursday before that statement was released.  Not only was she mocking him but other journalists, like McClatchy's Hannah Allam were laughing at him as well and retweeting Barbara Slavin's insult.  We can find that online and insert it here.

  • Jim: Okay, Rebecca.

    Rebecca: Well this is major news for many of us who care about the fate of the Palestinian people.  Is this for real?  Is this more talks?  Is this really the US planning to leverage even more from the Palestinian people while pretending to treat both sides equally?  These are questions that should be answered but are not getting answers because it's not just CNN, HLN and MSNBC wasting our time on a verdict that's 8 days old, it's also, as Kat pointed out last Monday in "The spectacle becomes everything," a question of our so-called independent media.

    Jim: Kat?

    Kat: CounterPunch ran 14 new articles on Monday.  8 of them were on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman issue -- or outrage.  Eight articles all saying the same damn thing actually. As Ava and C.I. note, it's an echo chamber.  I was writing about Ed Snowden that day and had gotten a nasty e-mail two weeks prior from a person who sometimes has writing published at CounterPunch -- I was taken to task for not including them more often.  So I made a point, last Monday, to go there for something on Ed Snowden.  They didn't have anything.  And after 8 articles, I'm sorry, you're done with the topic, move the f**k on.  But, no, CounterPunch continued with it all damn week.  Rebecca's right.  I have no idea whether to applaud John Kerry or to slam him because I don't know what's actually being proposed.

    Trina: If I could jump in here.  One of the most important stories right now, in my opinion, is what's happening in Detroit.  And rest assured if they can declare bankruptcy on Detroit, they can do it in other cities as well.  I really wanted to cover this topic Friday. I read WSWS's article and thought it was sound.  But that's not enough for me. I'm like C.I., if I'm going to write on a topic, I need a lot of articles to read so I've got a more rounded sense of what's going on.  And there just wasn't a lot of analysis of what was going on.  There was reporting -- AP especially and local Detroit reporting -- but in terms of analysis, I didn't see it.  And I'm sorry but my understanding was that the citizens of Detroit were told if they put this comptroller in charge, sidelining their council, then the city wouldn't go into bankruptcy.  So what happened?  I think they were lied to and I think the plan all along was to force Detroit into bankruptcy.  And I'm fine sharing that opinion here.  But in terms of writing about it?  I don't feel I have enough information.  I really feel that a lot of important stories were neglected last week and I would rank Detroit up there in the top ten.

    Jim: Alright.  Now I have a very important e-mail from reader Maileen.  "Why did Wally and Cedric and C.I. refuse to note the content from last week's edition of Third Estate? Were they that mad?"  Wally and Cedric do joint-posts and Cedric said Wally could answer for both of them.  So, Wally?

    Wally: It was an oversight.  I wasn't aware of it until right before this roundtable when Jim asked Cedric and I about it.  Or told us we would be asked about it.  What used to happen is that on Monday night or Tuesday morning, we noted Third and any other weekend content.  Now we're noting all the Monday night content so that we don't have the Saturday post that includes two days worth of posts.  We just started doing that a few weeks ago and we've missed a few things as a result. It was an overight. 

    Jim: C.I.?

    C.I.: Actually, I didn't note any content.  Saturday night, I generally note the Friday and Saturday content in the community.  I had no time two Saturdays ago.  I was under pressure to wrap up my writing so that we could start the Third writing session.  Sunday night is when I note Third's new content.  There was none.  It went up Monday.  Several hours after it went up, I was back up writing my morning entries at TCI and I honestly didn't include it because I forgot until I posted.  No malice was intended.

    Jim: Ruth, Benghazi wasn't addressed by much of the media last week.  Tell us what's going on there.

    Ruth: Well there are two developments.  First up, US House Representative Frank Wolf has stated that those wounded in the September 11, 2012 attack have been forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.  If true, Congress should compel them to testify and the agreements should be trashed.  Second, Congress has long wanted Marine Col George Bristol to testify.  The Pentagon has maintained he has retired and that they had no way to get a hold of him.  

    Jim: He was in command, the night of September 11, 2012, of the Special Forces stationed in North Africa?

    Ruth: Correct.  And now, last week, the Pentagon announced that they had located him and he would testify.

    Jim: Alright.  Isaiah, there are a number of e-mails praising your last two comics but asking about changes in the visuals?

    Isaiah:  Okay.  I was on a cruise and unable to do comics.  I took a photo with my cell phone of one and C.I. photo shopped it to make it look better.  She also shipped me a hand held scanner.  That's what I've used on the last two comics.  I'm still playing with it and enjoying it.  I assume I'll get better at it or more consistent but I'm still playing with it and learning about it.

    Jim: Alright.  With that we'll wrap up the roundtable.  This has been a rush transcript.

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