Sunday, June 15, 2014


 Jim: It's roundtable time.  And last week was the week that Iraq exploded.  Remember our new e-mail address is  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): Last week, Iraq popped into the news.  The western media finally rediscovered Iraq.  As Ava and C.I. point out in their critique this week, some outlets did better than others.  Mike, you wrote ""WSWS advances White House line"."  Explain that.

Mike: Okay.  Rebels seized Mosul and Tikrit last week, parts of Samarra.  Nouri calls these Iraqis "terrorists."  Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq.  WSWS runs with that.  You've got all these people providing reality about the fighters and how they are Iraqi and all that but you get WSWS just echoing Nouri's word choices and talking points.

Jim: When that happens, what's the effect? 

Isaiah: We've all talked about this before, the effect is that the term "terrorist" is tossed around and suddenly people don't feel the need to discuss what's going on, they don't need answers or anything because "terrorist" is the tidy bow that ties it all up.  It's like, 'Oh, terrorists.  That explains it.'  And the Stop Thinking sign goes up and no one needs to ask why are these people fighting. It just ensures that root causes will go ignored.

Mike: Which means Nouri's persecution of the Sunni people will be ignored, his attacks on Sunni politicians, all of it, just ignored, just swept under the rug.  And he gets away with it.

Marcia: And that's bad enough, what Mike and Isaiah are talking about is bad enough.  But then you have what's already taking place.

Jim: Which is?

Marcia: This 'both sides must make concessions and work together.'  No.  Absolutely not.  The Sunnis, like the Kurds, have made concession after concession to Nouri.  They have acted in good faith.  By contrast, Nouri has broken promises and failed to live up to agreements.  The days of 'both sides must' are over.  It's time for Nouri to make concessions.  And --

Jim: I -- Sorry, I thought you were done Marcia.

Marcia: Almost.  The concession Nouri needs to make now is to step down as prime minister and give up any hopes of a third term.

Dona: I would agree with you, Marcia, 100%.  I think it's appalling that someone who cowardly fled Iraq decades ago and only returned after the US invaded was made prime minister.  It's such an insult to all the Iraqis who remained in the country.  

Jim: Okay, thank you.  Does anyone think Iraq can move forward if Nouri gets a third term as prime minister?

Betty:  No.  And I'm not sure Iraq can survive if Nouri gets a third term.  Setting aside his crimes against the Iraqi people, you're still left with a basic incompetence that demonstrates his inability to learn on the job.  Two terms and he has no accomplishments to speak of.  He's a complete failure in every sense of the word.  If Nouri gets a third term, it's probably time for Iraqis to split themselves into a confederation because Nouri cannot lead the country.  He lacks the ethics, the talent, the skill and the common sense.

Jim: What do the Iraqi people need?

Wally: A new leader.  A chance to reset.  Nouri getting a third term would be an outrage and an insult.  

Jim: Wally, some people are going to say, "If the Iraqis want this, why not?"

Wally: You're right.  And I would reply that the Iraqis don't want this.  Their leaders don't want this.  Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is very vocal about Nouri not getting a third term, Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani is vocally against it, various Sunni groupings are against it, Shi'ite leader Ammar al-Hakim is against it.  

Jim: Okay, Wally, pretend I'm just hearing of Iraq.  You're saying Nouri shouldn't get a third term and you're telling me the Iraqi people don't want him to get one.  So I'm thinking, "Then it ain't happening."  Why should I worry?

Wally: Because Nouri was never the choice of the Iraqi people.  In 2006, they wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari but the Bully Boy Bush White House said no and pushed for Nouri.  In 2010, Nouri lost to Iraqiya in the parliamentary elections.  But Barack Obama insisted Nouri get a second term and the US negotiated a contract to give Nouri a second term by tossing aside the votes and the Iraqi Constitution.

Betty: So when have the Iraqi people ever had the say?  So far, they haven't.  And the pattern has been for the US to impose Nouri on Iraq.  That's why you -- anyone just starting to grasp Iraq -- should be concerned.  If this happens again, I seriously wonder how Iraq comes back from it.

Jim: Alright, thank you Betty and Wally.  Ava and C.I. note that people like Katrina vanden Heuvel took to the airwaves last week to insist this was Bully Boy Bush's fault -- the crisis in Iraq.

Rebecca:  That dried up old whore would have to say that, wouldn't she?  Did The Nation ever even report on The Erbil Agreement?  Barack's failures are Katrina's failures.  She's lied and misled and driven The Nation into the ground.  Katrina's a worthless whore who will not be listened to when Democrats are out of power.  She's a cheap whore who took a left magazine and used it as a Democratic Party megaphone.  This will not be forgotten. But it's really stupid to say, "This is Bully Boy Bush's fault."  He left office in Janaury 2009.  Iraq was more stable at that time.  It's 2014.  What's going on is on Nouri al-Maliki and on Barack who insisted Nouri get a second term, just like he insisted last fall that Nouri get more weapons.

Jim: Rebecca, over 20 e-mailers noted Katrina vanden Heuvel last week.  They are going to be cheering your remarks.  She's quickly becoming one of the most hated faux lefties in the country.  Elaine, you wrote "A little ___ named Lisa Savage" last week.  Talk a little about that.

Elaine: There's a soldier, a US soldier, whom the press has obsessed over.  Like C.I., I'm not going to be writing about the soldier until he has something to say.  I think there's a lot of gossip and a lot of spin but he knows what happened and if he speaks I'll write about it.  I'm not interested otherwise.  But a large number on my side, the left, are suddenly interested in him.  They claim he's a war resister.  They claim they support war resisters.  But these Ron Jacobs and Lisa Savages don't write about war resisters.  They write entire columns which ignore people like Jermeny Hinzman and Joshua Key.  There are all these war resisters, Americans in Canada, and yet the Ron Jacobs and the Lisa Savages want to write about this new soldier -- who may or may not be a war resister -- and they want you to know they're on his side.  But if they're really on the side of war resisters, why aren't they using this moment to help people in need, war resisters who went to Canada to avoid the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  At the end of the day, Lisa and Ron are fakes and frauds.  I need to note I was especially building on the work Kat and C.I. did the week before last.

Jim: And Lisa Savage is a little what?

Elaine: If I use "bitch" at my website, I get e-mails from people uncomfortable with the word.  C.I. can use the term because she does.  She'll apply it  to a man more often then she will a woman.  She's also very upset when she's using it.  You can feel the anger as you read.  Rebecca can get away with it because she'll use any word at her site.  I think Marcia can get away with it also for the same reason if you see her 2008 posts.  Ann can and will use it with no fall out.  But with me, I get complaints.  So that may be what Lisa Savage is or she may be another little whatever.  Fill in the blank for yourself.

Jim: Okay.  Ann, do you mind commenting on that because you do use that word at your site.

Ann: I'm not going to censor. Trina will use it too if she's writing about a gender traitor, for example.  And there's been this conversation among all those of us who are women.  Trina and I are of the belief that "bitch" is a term we use and use authentically in our lives.  We're not going to act different online.  And Ruth and Betty don't look down on us for using the term but -- due to their families -- they try to avoid using the term at their sites.  Betty has kids, Ruth has her grandkids, they both  watch the language as much as possible.  And that's fine.  But I'm sorry, I will call a woman -- or a man -- a "bitch."  Have we reclaimed the term?  I don't know and I don't care at this point.  We try to be work safe and there are days when we just want to curse and scream.  So if, on those days, we toss out the word "bitch" once or twice, Trina and I see it as acknowledging our working class roots and keeping it real.  Let me add one more thing.  No link, Marcia doesn't want one.  But when Hillary went down in flames in 2008, Marcia wrote a scorching post.  She called out the people who had betrayed Hillary and she used just about every curse word you can imagine.  I thought that was a very powerful post then and I think so now as well.

Marcia: Thank you, Ann.

Jim: Let me move to Ruth.  Ruth, Ann was just talking about Hillary Clinton.  A number of people supported her in 2008.  Some say she's a lock for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination.  Her book was released Tuesday, her second autobiography.  In it, she mentions Iraq briefly and her vote for the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq.  Your reaction?

Ruth: I think C.I. was correct to point out that if, in 2014, Hillary's finally going to call her 2002 vote a mistake, she needs to offer something of substance.  Twelve years after the fact and she thinks she can write about it without any detail or exploration and we are supposed to say "Yea!"?  Sorry, it is not that easy.  Her explanation in the book makes no sense.  In 2002, she voted for it based on, she says, the best information available.  By 2007, she knows she has made a mistake as a result of the letters she is sending  to the families of the fallen.  But she cannot own up to this in 2008?

Cedric:  I agree.  I'm sorry but after all this time, she finally shares this?  It took her 12 years to own up to a mistake?  I can remember Bully Boy Bush being asked by someone, I think for NBC News, to name a mistake and I can remember him being asked that in a debate.  He couldn't name anything.  That's basically Hillary now.  Do we need another pig headed and stubborn person occupying the White House?  I supported Hillary in 2008, I don't support her now. 

Jim: Ruth, you supported her 2008 run and supported her during her term as Secretary of State.  Do you buy her explanation on Iraq?

Ruth: Not one bit.  I agree with Cedric about how this comes off.  Also she appears to be thinking, "I will write this nonsense early on so that when 2016 rolls around I can claim I have seriously addressed it and avoid talking about it."

Jim: And maybe even lash out at anyone asking her questions the way she did when Terry Gross asked her about marriage equality on Fresh Air last week.  I'm passing to Ty who wanted to note two e-mails.  Ty?

Ty: First up, Mindy is outraged by what's taking place in Iraq.  She's also a new and big fan of Trina's.  She wants to give "a big thank you" to Trina for talking about how "we need to claim our power and for refusing to be assigned the role of victim."  Mindy wants Trina to share her view on Iraq in terms of the American people.

Trina: Sure.  Hillary says US troops can't be put on the ground in Iraq, John McCain says the same thing.  Those are two of the biggest War Hawks the Senate's seen in recent years.  Both supported the invasion of Iraq.  Both now know it's political suicide to do so.  What changed?  Prolonged protests by the American people.  That's people power.  We made the illegal war something the government could not get away with.  Now even Hillary and John know better than to call for troops on the ground.  This is a major win and the peace movement should be proud of its accomplishment.

Ty: Thank you.  Jess and Kat, Alex e-mails wanting to know what you listen to "in times like these when war is a never ending thing."

Jess: Kat's pointing at me to go first.  I'd love to tell you that I have this great playlist and wonderful new music has come about in response to these events.  That's not the case.  I listen to music I enjoy.  I'm not real big on the 'political' singers like Bruce Twinkie Boy Springsteen because they only talk big when Republicans are in charge.  So I listen to Ben Harper, Tori Amos, Jack Johnson, Afghan Whigs, Carly Simon -- stuff like that.  

Kat: What Jess just said.  I love political music.  But outside of David Rovics, I can't think of any political writer that's stayed true. Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco and so many others were just cheap whores.  They pretended to care about issues when they could pin illegal spying and war on a Republican in the White House but when the blame would have to be pinned on a Democrat, the whores went running.  I have no respect for them or patience with them.  I defended Ani for being tone deaf recently.  I don't think she's racist.  But it was funny that she who hurled hate at others to make herself feel self-righteous got tossed to the wolves herself. But I'm so over her and her career's so over.  A protest singer is not one someone singing propaganda songs for the government.  Again, David Rovics has kept his integrity.  He may be the only one.

 Jim: Okay, thank you, Kat.  Dona's calling time on this roundtable.  We heard from everyone but Ava and C.I.  They're the ones who took the notes for this transcript piece so we thank them for that.  And this is a rush transcript.

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