Friday, February 13, 2009

Iraq roundtable

Rebecca: We're doing an unplanned roundtable and participating are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, me, 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!, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Wally of The Daily Jot,  Kat, you want to explain how we ended up with a roundtable.
Kat: Except for Betty and Cedric, everyone's at Trina's.  And Rebecca and I were on the couch with out laptops and I was scanning and scanning the net for topics to write about and just couldn't find anything.  Rebecca groaned, I said, "I know!" And we're doing a roundtable with anyone else who hadn't already done a post tonight plus dragging Ava and C.I. into it. 
Trina: Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type up the rush transcript.  If they speak one after the other, I'll help out with note taking. 
Rebecca: So let's start with Iraq.  The Iraq War is over, right?  That's what the press has told us, so it's over and all is peachy keen in Iraq. 
Mike: It really seems like they -- the press -- lost interest in Iraq and, now that so many are leaving Iraq and rushing off to Afghanistan, they want to find a way to justify their decreased coverage of Iraq.  So they try to write it off as a 'success.' 
Ava: I think that's a really solid point and that, yes, when you are, for example, ABC pulling your news staff out of Iraq and partnering with the BBC to provide you with Iraq content when needed, you're going to really gas bag a river in order to justify the fact that you've killed your coverage.  You're going to justify your actions in any way you can.
Betty: But they didn't really get to get away with that this week.  They tried to.  C.I.'s documented, for example, the New York Times' effort to downplay Iraq all week while 'reporting' on it.  Wednesday's violence ended up being buried at the end of the Thursday article despite the fact that more people were reported dead in Iraq than in Afghanistan and they tossed Afghanistan on the front page.  Then Thursday's violence, reported today, is curious for what it leaves out.
Cedric: I agree with Betty and one of the things C.I.'s really great at is noting the patterns before anyone does.  I'm sure a lot of people reading today's New York Times article on Thursday's violence didn't even register that there were three assassination attempts --
Mike: Two successful.
Cedric: Two successful, flowing from the provincial elections.  The paper reports one and mentions another in passing without even noting the name of the guy.  This is a pattern and C.I. was the first to note, we're going back years, the targeting of government officials, the first to notice that Mosul was becoming the most violent city in Iraq, just go down the list.  I have no idea why the New York Times would ignore what appears to be a pattern.  It's hard for me to believe it's accidental.
Trina: I don't believe it's accidental at all and considering that paper's history, even just the most recent history, they've lost the right to the benefit of the doubt after selling the illegal war.  They promised, in their sort-of-culpa, a greater look at their actions in selling the illegal war and they never provided it.  Howard Kurtz, in the Washington Post, did a lengthy report on how the Post got it wrong.  The New York Times never did anything like that.  But the week started with the nonsense that things were going great in Iraq and the reality is completely different. 
Wally: I could be wrong but I'm finding -- when Ava, Kat, C.I. and I are speaking to college groups about the illegal war -- a lot more interest.  And there's always been an interest but it seems like it's increased.  Kat, Ava, C.I., anyone else noticing that?
Kat: Yeah.  And I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that our news outlets are not reporting as they need to be.  So when we're discussing Iraq, this is often the first some are hearing about whatever examples or details we're addressing.  I'll give an example, at the start of this week, when C.I. was talking about the reports that [Nouri] al-Maliki was making overtures to Baathist officials who had left the country and how al-Maliki and his supporters were denying that, no one knew about that, no one we spoke to.  They had a lot of questions about that.  Then, Thursday, Trenton Daniels does his really bad article on it.  Which leaves out Dawa's strong, public denial.  It really was a white wash article but I don't really have any respect left for McClatchy. 
Rebecca: I'm going to jump in with an Iraq and media question that Lilly e-mailed to ask me.  Last week, C.I. noted the reputation McClatchy had for bias re: Iraq coverage and she wondered if I could write about that.  I can't. C.I. could but, C.I., I'll put you on the spot here now.
C.I.: McClatchy's Iraq coverage has always been seen as tilting towards "Awakening" Councils.  That's due to Nancy A. Youssef's reporting, yes.  It's do to Leila's and others.  But it's also due to blog posts by Leila and Iraqi correspondents where they have revealed opinions and, time and again, it has been pro-"Awakening."  The Los Angeles Times, by contast, is thought to be biased towards the KRG and the reason for that has to do with their Kurdish ties.  The New York Times is only interested in officials and the State Dept will always trump the military at the paper.  The Washington Post has had too much of a change over and too many strong voices to get one reputation pinned on them.  Certain things you might have noted in, for example, Ellen Knickmeyer's reporting would be countered with Sudarsan Raghavan's who would be countered with Ernesto Londono who would be countered by Anthony Shadid.  And to be really clear, the bulk of the outlets have reporters capable of strong reporting.  McClatchy harmed itself partnering up with an 'NGO' and whether they can recover or not, I don't know.  But the New York Times, for example, I can't think of anyone that's not capable of strong writing.  Time limitations, rewriting and editing from outside Iraq can destroy a strong report.  There are other things as well.  But the days where the Times just had a propagandist in Iraq are gone. 
Rebecca: You've praised Tina Susman recently, at the Los Angeles Times, and I'm wondering who else has strengths?
C.I.: Everyone.  Leila Fadel has let her division slip out of control but even Leila has talent -- even at this late date.  I'll praise anyone reporting from Iraq for any of those four papers tomorrow.  Tina Susman, for example, usually has the context.  You can expect that in her writing.  But is there anyone that hasn't had praise?  Other than Trenton?  I don't care for him and if I don't care for you, there's a reason.  And if I really don't care for you, I've checked you out and spoken to editors who've worked with you.  I really don't care for Trenton.  But if he wrote an amazing article, I'd praise it tomorrow.  If he even wrote a good one, I'd praise it.
Cedric: You called out Helen Pidd today and I loved it.  It was funny and it was important and I don't think that's really grasped.  The funny part, yes.  But the important part, no.  You're calling Helen Pidd because she's repeating a falsehood.  And if it doesn't get called out, and called out loudly, it seeps into the coverage.  We all saw that when Barack put out the lie that Bill Clinton pardoned two women with the Weather Underground.  The next morning, after that debate, you and Ava wrote a piece and you walked people through it.  And the lie stayed in.  That night, you let it rip and tore into people by name for repeating the lie and only then did the public record start getting it right.
Ava: I'm grabbing because C.I. nodded to me.  First, Barack floated two things in that debate and the press -- gee, which side were they on? -- went with the worst.  David Corn couldn't let it go and was screaming about it in a press conference and writing his high drama posts at Mother Jones.  When he was finally forced to issue a limited correction, he did so minimizing his actions.  But, yeah, we did think it would straighten out in the course of the news cycle.  That morning, when we wrote that Bill Clinton didn't issue two pardons to the Weather Underground -- or any pardons, we were writing an entry and thinking it would all come out during the day.  It didn't.  And C.I. had to hit hard.  And when people lie, C.I. has to hit hard.  When people refuse to correct mistakes, C.I. has to hit hard.  Kat and I were talking about that this week, about how difficult, for example, the morning entries are and how C.I. has to include this and that and cover this and that and is going from one cell phone to the other over and over and there are plenty of times where C.I.'s speaking to someone, in the press, who is saying, "Call it out or it's in the cycle and it stays in."  It is not easy for the press cycle to self-correct.  And to drop back to the Weather issue, credit to ABC News who quickly self-corrected, to Jake Tapper and ABC News who quickly self-corrected.  But that's very rare.  Much more likely is the David Corn who refuses for days and days to correct and then, when he finally does, does so in a snarky manner where he refuses to take responsibility for repeating falsehoods and then has to make a Marc Rich 'joke' to try to excuse the seriousness of the matter.  It is a serious matter.  For days and days, the press ran with, "Barack's friends with Bill Ayers but Bill Clinton pardoned two people in Weather Underground!"  That created a dynamic to the story that was never true. 
Trina: I have no idea why Helen Pidd couldn't get her facts straight.  That's really embarrassing to be reporting something, a month after it took place, that is not true and that many, many MSM news reports have established wasn't true.  As for McClatchy, I think they're useless at this point.  I repost the snapshot once a week, sometimes more but usually I just post once a week.  And the drive-by e-mails, oh.  "Never anything nice."  Along with Tina Susman, Ned Parker's been praised recently, Alissa J. Rubin's been praised several times recently, Sam Dagher and I can think of many others.  And guess what, it's really not required that C.I. praise.  But I do love the drive-bys -- most of whom seem to never grasp that "Here's C.I.'s 'Iraq snapshot'" means "Here's something I didn't write."  But if Rebecca's reader's question got answered, I'd like to move to the issue of the elections because I'm really getting sick of the nonsense where they supposedly mean something.  Am I alone on that?  I know C.I.'s sick of it, anyone else?
Cedric: I have watched in amazement as the press has spun these elections and turned it into some deep meaning for Nouri al-Maliki who was not a candidate.  Each and every belief they espouse -- which they present as fact -- has at least one counter-belief but they ignore that to promote al-Maliki.  Over and over. 
Wally: And today, one of the reports was how al-Maliki's 'success' in the elections -- in elections where he was not a candidate but somehow found 'success' -- proved that Iraq wants a "strong man."  Iraq wants it?  Or the reporters want it?  And, yeah, Trina, I'm sick of it.  And I really do think the press wants a strong man or that they know the military does and they spin it that way for the military. 
Betty: I'd agree with Wally on that -- I agree with Cedric's comments as well but specifically about what the military wants and what our government wants.  We put thugs in charge in Iraq because thugs could frighten and scare the populace and if that happened quickly the efforts to privatize everything in Iraq could move quickly -- not to mention violence could diminish.  So we put thugs in charge and I think we are trying to sell this belief that -- after we've put thugs in charge -- what Iraq really wants is what we did.  It's a justification.  An after the fact justification.  Which brings us back to Ava's point about the justifications.  Now Cedric's point about how they keep going with what shores up their view is good point as well. 
Rebecca: Today's snapshot -- and link to that please -- includes a commentary that appeared last night, a commentary by C.I., and that was included at Trina's request.  Trina, why don't you talk about that?
Trina: Sure and since Ava and C.I. are typing, we all agreed when we want a link, we will request it.  That way they don't have to figure out what needs to be hunted down and what doesn't and we're also trying to avoid multiple links because we don't want to be up all night waiting to post it anymore than they want to be up all night hunting down links.  But the commentary went up last night and I asked C.I. to please include as much of it as possible in the snapshot.  I'm going to summarize it.  Iraq held provincial elections January 31st.  Iraq has 18 provinces.  Only 14 held elections.  al-Maliki's Dawa party did well in 9 provinces -- well, nothing that would resemble a mandate for Dawa -- and didn't do so well in 3 provinces.  4 provinces still haven't held elections.  At least three will shortly.  C.I.?
C.I.: The three Kurdish provinces have scheduled elections for May.
Trina: Thanks.  And then there's Kirkuk that no one knows if or when it will be allowed to hold a vote.  We can come back to that.  But 3 provinces didn't go to Dawa -- southern provinces.  3 Kurdish provinces will not go to Dawa.  It's doubtful that Kirkuk would -- due to the ethnic violence and ethnic splits in the region.  So that's 6 Dawa will not have support in and you can toss in Kirkuk and make it seven.  This is not a huge win for Dawa.  This reflects a country that's a lot more split than is being noticed.  And, as C.I. pointed out, if you want to use these still non-official results to make some sort of a statement, the statement has to be that the south and north are not on the same page as centeral Iraq, where Baghdad and al-Maliki are and that al-Maliki's got a little bigger space than Hamid Karzai to move around in.  But that space could shrink at any time.
Cedric: Agreed and it also does, as C.I. noted, indicate support for a federation and not a nation with the south breaking off in the same way the north's KRG has.
Mike: Has anyone -- Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. -- have any of you spoke of that in front of students or other groups?  If so what was the reaction?
Wally: C.I.'s addressed it about seven or eight times this week.  The way C.I. sets it up may mitigate some of the reactions because -- like with the commentary we're talking about -- C.I. notes that a decision for Iraqis and only them.  So you don't get some of the response you might get.  But there seems to be a collective gulp each time at the prospect of a federation.
Mike: That would be my reaction as well.  Do we want to talk about why it's not a US decision?  I know we grasp it but someone coming in late may not.
Kat: Well it's not for the US, an occupying power, to determine the fate of Iraq.  Iraqis should make that determination.  If they want a nation-state, that's their choice, if they want a federation, that's their choice.  It's not up to the US to impose anything on it and, honestly, were the US to impose something it would be based on what they think would provide a quick fix.  Not unlike the decision to allow Nouri to install his thugs in the ministries -- especially the Ministry of Interior -- decisions based on quick fixes that result in real damage. 
Betty: And, I mean, it's like a marriage.  Someone outside of it can't decide to end it or to continue it.  That has to come from those in the marriage.  If Iraq's going to move forward as a nation-state or become a federation that's up to them. 
Mike: And the US shouldn't interfere if only out of selfish reasons.  If the decision comes from the US or is imposed by the US or encouraged by it, then all the problems with the decision for years and years are the fault of the US.  If only to avoid being the ones holding the bag, the US should stay out of it and allow Iraq to make the decision.
Wally: Exactly.  It goes to s**t, the US really doesn't need to be any more responsible than it already is. 
Kat: Which it already is.  Responsible. 
Rebecca: Thomas E. Ricks' new book is The Gamble.  C.I. offered an opinion on it this week, clearly labeled "my opinion," in a snapshot and I'm wondering if anyone got any e-mail on that -- not C.I. but anyone who reposted?
Cedric: I got some loon screaming the book is pro-war and how dare we endorse pro-war.  Is that the sort of thing you're talking about?
Rebecca: Exactly.  It was clear that it was an opinon and C.I. had noted that the community would disagree with the idea that the US needed to remain in Iraq for some time but I still had a loon -- probably the same one you did -- e-mailing on a war path.
C.I.: I did label that "my opinion" and did so because I didn't want to cause anyone any trouble or for their to be any mistake that I was speaking for the community -- most of whom have not read the book or started reading it.  It is a great book.  It's wonderfully written.  Think of some of the Iraq books by reporters and how badly written they have been.  This isn't a book you have to grimace in order to get through.  It's a pleasure to read.  But, yeah, we can disagree with some of his conclusions.  He's very clear as to why he comes to the conclusions and he could be right about them but I disagree, for example, that the US needs to remain in Iraq.  I also disagree, to cite another example, that MoveOn's General Betray Us ads were off limits.  I think when Colin Powell countermands Bill Clinton, 1993 on gays serving openly in the military, and does so publicly, undermines the campaign promise Clinton has made, I don't think we can say that the military isn't political or isn't fair game.  The Gamble  notes some examples, including Powell, but that really went beyond just politics, it went to an attack on civilian command of the military.  It went to an attack on the entire system.  After that, my opinion, this idea that the military command is off limits -- no, they aren't and no one is off-limits in a democracy.  My opinion.  But this is an amazing book and I think he's very clear when he's expressing his opinion and very clear when he isn't.  I think it's the best book on Iraq that's been published this decade.  It's a pleasure to read because he does have a style, he is a writer and he hasn't just clipped his old articles and done a copy and paste.  He's also very generous to other reporters.  He cites and names them and not just in the end notes but in the actual text.  I think it's a weighty and ambitious work that succeeds in all of its goals, it's perfectly executed.  My opinion. 
Rebecca: I know Elaine's read it and loves it but other than that, Mike's the only one I know who's reading it.  Mike?
Mike: I'm enjoying the book.  I'm finally up to the half-way mark.  It's like 170-something, where ever the section of pictures ends, that's the page I stopped on.  It's jam-packed with information.  And that's new information and new analysis.  It's not a clip-job.  I found the section on General Ray Odierno especially interesting. 
Wally: Ava and I have read it.  It's a big book, over 320 pages of text.  And what stood out was the ending.  A lot of the time, you end up with an author who starts winding down and the last chapter may or may not be worth reading.  Ricks' final chapter contains information and observations that go to the conclusions he makes.  And that includes Odierno's belief that at least 30,000 US troops will be needed in Iraq through 2014 or 2015. 
Ava: That's really the big shock.  We do talk about the book when we're speaking about Iraq because it is about Iraq, it's new and most college libraries have at least one copy or are getting one.  So when we get to that point, you can hear and see puzzlement.  And someone will bring up the treaty and we'll have to do the walk through.  It's really amazing how badly the MSM bungled it and the Beggar so-called Alternative Media didn't give a damn.  They were too busy with their orgasms over Barack.  So we have to go into what the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement actually does and says. 
Kat: And people are always shocked.  And they have been since since last year when C.I. was sketching it out.  So one thing I'm really hoping the book does -- and I've got fifty or so more pages before I'm done with it but I am enjoying it -- is get the word out on the realities.  Getting back to C.I.'s point, I never had a problem telling when Ricks was expressing his opinion.  He doesn't try to present it as fact.  He explains his take and why he has it.  I wish he was saying, "The US needs to get out! And now!" He's not but this wasn't a piece of propaganda.  And he's synthesizing and it's just an amazing book.  Trina, are you reading it?
Trina: Yes, but remember I'm taking care of my grandbaby --
Ava: Emphasis on baby and noting that because a child under two requires a lot more direct care than a child of eight or older who can have play time on their own and who would be in school for some of the day.
Trina: True, thank you for that.  And we're teething.this week so it's a little more hectic.  So I'm only on page 201.  So I've really just finished the period where Robert Gates is house cleaning Donald Rumsfeld's people -- including Peter Pace.  It's a serious book and that alone is reason enough to read it.  If you're interested in the Iraq War, whether you support it ending or continuing, now or in the immediate future, you will find the book absorbing.  And to back up what C.I. was pointing out about the genoristy, Michael Ware, for example, of CNN gets cited by name.  A lot of these books -- and they have been cut and paste books -- just say CNN.  If you're saying something was reported right, if something deserves noting, it deserves naming.  And Ricks doesn't balk at giving credit.
Rebecca: Okay a question just for two people.  I have a young child.  That's my question.  No, I'm joking.  I have a young child who is just a few months older than Trina's grandbaby and Betty has three young children.  I know that, for me, a lot of my feelings regarding the illegal war and the need to end it come from that.  I was against the war before I gave birth and before I was pregnant.  But what I'm getting at is that, yes, for me, having a child has intesified my opposition to the Iraq War and I'm wondering if Trina or Betty has anything similar going on?  And Betty, Trina's indicating for you to go first.
Betty: Okay.  Thank you.  For me, all my decisions go through that filter. I'm a single parent and that may be why but I do think about my kids.  I hear the peanut crisis and immediately think of my kids.  I'm listening to the weather report/prediction for the next day and I'm thinking, "What do my kids need to wear for that?"  So I've got that going on all the time and, yes, when I hear about a young man or woman dying -- Iraqi, US -- Thursday the British soldier, I am thinking of it in terms of, "What if it was one of my three children?"  I would say that is very true for me.  And let's talk about this aspect of the Iraq War continuing past 2015 -- because 35,000 US service members in Iraq up to 2015 means still there past it.  I do think, "Well are they going to draft?"  I do think, "What if one of my kids wants to rebel and do it by enlisting?"  These are serious concerns and not fleeting thoughts for me. 
Trina: I would agree with that.  Mike was our big concern, he's our youngest son, when the Iraq War started.  His father had a long talk with him about that -- about the war that was coming -- for that reason.  Mike has a younger sister but she's a girly-girl and who begged for excuses to get out of gym class so we didn't really see her as possibly enlisting in the military.  And once my husband talked with Mike and that was straightened out, I did feel an easing of tension.  So I do think there is a personal aspect.  I'm not saying it made me object less to the illegal war but, as it was gearing up to start, it did take one worry off my mind.  One aspect -- and I think Betty and Rebecca will agree with that -- of parenting during a time of war is grasping, especially when the kids are very small, how much they depend on you and how instrumental you are in shaping and mis-shaping them.  And that does lead you to wonder about the childhood experiences of some who make the news -- someone who died while serving or someone who was killed by a mortar like the two children today.  I'm sure a young father would have a similar story to share and I just want to note that we're not saying, "This is a mothering issue."  I also think that, for those who support the Iraq War, the same news is greeted differently and they see it from a different perspective.  But their being a parent would also impact their reaction. 
Rebecca: I think that's a good point. In 2006, C.I. regularly started asking the question of whether those who support the illegal war are more committed to continuing it than those opposed to the illegal war are committed to ending it.  Just going around, and starting with Cedric and then Betty, true or false today?
Cedric: Absolutely true.  I thought it was true when C.I. first started asking that question.  And it's only more so today.  C.I.?
C.I: Same page.  There is an action coming up next month. Iraq Veterans Against the War notes:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st

As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)   
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.    
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or  
Cedric: Thanks.  We do need to note that when talking about this topic.  But most of the movement broke off a long time ago.  They give lip service at election time because it's an issue that energizes voters but they really aren't concerned with ending the illegal war.  I think the small number still committed to continuing the illegal war are much more dedicated than the bulk of the left.  Betty?
Betty: United For Peace and Justice does nothing.  They hold their 'strategy' session and cast themselves as the cheering squad for Barack Obama and suddenly some politician -- a politician! -- is more important to an alleged peace group than is ending the Iraq War.  United For Peace and Justice is disgusting.  That's true of the bulk of them.  They've disgraced themselves. I agreed we need to include the news of that action and I'll also note that Military Families Speak Out just finished up a four-day action.  I'm not really impressed with these other people and their "How we can help Barack" articles.  It's not the peace movement's job to "help" Barack.  It's the peace movement's job to make demands, to make noise and to force politicians to end the illegal war.
Rebecca: Okay, now for those of us physically in the same room.  How about we start with Mike, who's seated next to me, and just work our way around which means we end with C.I.?
Mike: I agree so much with what Betty and Cedric just said and it's not just CODESTINK or United For Peace and Justice that's become an embarrasment.  The Center For Constitutional Rights is a joke.  They refuse to call out Barack.  They couch every criticism and cower.  The ACLU has shown some real strength -- could I get a link for them for that reason -- but the Center, which is supposed to be radical, is just this huge, huge disappointment.  The bulk of the left and 'left' has disgraced themselves.  And it's why, even though those wanting the Iraq War ended are in the majority, nothing's forcing the end.  Nothing will until people learn to demand it.  We are the government.  As long as we act like our employees are movie stars we worship, we're powerless and chicken ass cowards who can't accomplish a damn thing.
Kat: I don't think anyone's going to disagree with which side is more committed at this point.  And it's pathetic because, as we've noted before, if Hillary had been elected, the same left that plays the quiet game currently would be demanding action.  A lot of it is people being scared to criticize Barack, a lot of it is them believing the hype, a lot of it is the desire to worship a man.  But it's pathetic and it's pathetic that they believed his lies about Iraq and it's pathetic that they played Sophie's Choice with Iraq and Afghanistan -- that knowing that while he was saying he'd pull 'combat' troops from Iraq, he was saying he'd send more to Afghanistan, these same so-called lefties endorsed him and lied for him and covered for him. 
Trina: You know, I look back on Vietnam and I remember LBJ being called out and Nixon.  Today, I look around and feel like we have nothing but immaturity at the top of the peace chain.  And I feel we have people cutting private deals at the expense of the peace movement.  I do not consider Kim Gandy a voice of peace.  I know some people do.  I know some idiots, like Pundit Mom, think Kim did something wonderful to end the Iraq War.  Buy a clue, you idiot.  But Kim's not criticized Barack and what do we have now?  Kim angling for a job with the administration.  Please, our so-called leaders have been bought and paid for and seem, in retrospect, to have existed completely to tap down on actions and outrage.  They've repeatedly -- and The Nation has been the worst here -- attempted to turn a vote for the Democratic Party into a peace action.  And then they've done nothing but offer excuses for Dems in office -- despite that laughable editorial they ran starting on the cover about how they wouldn't support any candidate who blah, blah, blah. 
Wally: Yeah, that's true.  And you have to wonder, since Katrina vanden Heuvel used the Roosevelt board position to hook up early members of Barack's team -- like his Facebook connect, you have to wonder how genuine that editorial was and how much it was about setting up Barack because The Nation was pimping him long before 2007.  I want to turn it to a point that C.I.'s made for five years now.  The Iraq War hits the six year mark in March.  Where is the Pacifica Radio program devoted to Iraq.  There's not one.  There's not even a half-hour program once a week that's sole focus is Iraq.  So let's quit pretending that any of our leaders give a damn about Iraq.  They don't.  An illegal war is ongoing and they've refused to cover it as such.  What show started covering the first Gulf War?
C.I.: KPFA's Flashpoints.
Wally: Thank you.  There has never been a focus on Iraq.  You can actually see these Beggar outlets spike their coverage -- increase it -- of Iraq -- which is really just discussions because they don't report from Iraq -- as elections approach.  Otherwise, they ignore it.  So, no, they don't care. 
Ava: I -- I'm going to need another question.  This gets into something C.I. and I have agreed to write about for Third this weekend.  I can't comment.  I doubt C.I. can.
Rebecca: Okay.  How about this for your question: If the left doesn't find a way to get active, when does the Iraq War end?
Ava: I have no idea.  If they don't get active, the illegal war does not end before 2013.  I don't know that it ends in 2013.  Rebecca, you remember how, summer 2005, we were all working on Third -- Betty, Rebecca, Mike, C.I and I.  The others weren't doing their own sites and weren't working on it with us then.  But Rebecca, you remember how it was an awful, awful writing edition and we were all stressed and C.I. brings up the fact that ideally The Common Ills should go dark in 2008 and we're all shocked by that and then really shocked when C.I. says that the Iraq War will still be going on past 2008.  That was 2005.  And the idea that the Iraq War would continue three more years was just unbelievable to us.  A few of us even thought C.I. was joking.  But it's 2009 and the Iraq War is ongoing.  So I return to the points C.I. made then about who wants it more -- those who want to end it or those who want to continue it -- and who treats it as a serious issue.  We have a left that defocuses and hops all over the place.  I mean, Rebecca, you were writing about this recently, how the Beggar outlets are all over Gaza this week and completely ignoring Iraq.  And pair that up with Wally's point about, all this time later, still not having one program -- even a half-hour, once a week -- on any of the Pacifica Radio stations that focuses solely on Iraq.  There is no concern for ending the Iraq War.  There was once a desire to make a few fast bucks off the illegal war on the part of many writing bad books and making bad 'documentaries.'  The Amy Goodmans will continue to trot out Iraq when it's pledge drive funding time but that's just lip service.  They only care about what they can make a buck off.  Typical Panhandle Media.
C.I.: Everybody's said what needs saying.  If you want a specific example, I think we can offer up Free Speech Radio News.  Betty started the roundtable noting the huge amount of violence all week in Iraq and she specifically stated Wednesday's violence and Thursday's violence as well as today's -- Fridays.  I think it takes a lot of nerve to do what Free Speech Radio News did this week.  Today -- Friday -- the violence was the worst of the year thus far.  And every outlet had to weigh in.  So what does Free Speech Radio News do?  They show up declaring, "A female suicide bomber in Iraq killed nearly 40 women and children today as they made the annual Shiite pilgrimage to Karbala to mark the death of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.  This is the most deadly bombing in Iraq so far this year.  And the third day in a row of attacks against the Shiite Pilgrims."  Oh, it's the third day in a row, is it?  Well, where was your Wednesday coverage, where was your Thursday coverage?  They didn't offer any.  And that quote, that's the extent of their Friday coverage.  So if you're looking for the perfect example, take that program.  Ignoring Iraq all week.  Ignoring the House and Senate hearings on Iraq and Afghanistan that took place Thursday, ignoring this and ignoring that.  And when forced to comment, they serve up a news item that makes it sound like they have been covering the attacks when they haven't.  It's all a bunch of frauds and fakers and I'm sick of it.  I think we all are.
Rebecca: And the oven buzzer just went off so this is going to be it.  I don't know about Betty and Cedric, but here we've been drinking -- alcohol -- throughout this.  And, except for Ava and C.I., eating.  Ava and C.I. have been taking notes so we're going to end now that Trina's loaf of French bread is coming out of the oven.  This roundtable focused exclusively on Iraq.  Sites other than The Common Ills will offer C.I.'s Friday snapshot below this.