Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Afghanistan roundtable

Rebecca: We're doing a roundtable Friday on Iraq. That is not this roundtable. This roundtable is on Afghanistan. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, and C.I. -- C.I. also of The Common Ills, me -- Rebecca -- of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Ruth of Ruth's Report and Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz -- Elaine who I forgot to list in Friday's roundtable. Why a roundtable? Why now? Middle of the week when we all have things to do. We're doing this on Ava and C.I.'s dinner time, for example. Kat's as well but she's not planning on going back out and speaking about Iraq tonight. Kat, Ava and C.I. are on the road -- with Wally of The Daily Jot -- speaking out against the illegal war in and on Iraq. Ruth's been taking care of her grandson all day, Trina's been taken care of her granddaughter, I've been taking care of my daughter, Betty worked all day and has three children, Dona was in classes all day, Elaine was seeing patients all day, Marcia was working hard -- and almost had a heart attack, as Ava and C.I. always say, "we'll get to it." The point being -- and I hope I didn't leave anyone out -- we're all busy. We all have other things to do. Ava and C.I. are taking notes, therefore unable to really eat dinner. Elaine said she'd type this up and she's tired. We're all tired. But we're doing a roundtable because it's become necessary. On Sunday, Little Barry Obam-bam could be found in the New York Times floating diplomatic ties between the US and the Taliban. That's what it was, get serious. Third Estate Sunday Review addressed it with "Editorial: Ms. magazine gets punked" and that was written by Jim, Jess, Wally and Ty, who aren't with us, and Dona, Ava, C.I., Kat and Betty, who are with us. It's only getting worse as the week continues, Little Barry's Big Plan to make out with the Taliban. I understand he's going to give it up for them, lose his cherry. But I'm going to toss to Marcia to explain how it just got out of control today. Marcia?

Marcia: As I explained to Rebecca, I was at work when my boss starts screaming for me. At the top of her lungs. I didn't think it was financial -- example, "We're closing!" And my own work hadn't been any problem. Plus my boss isn't a screamer. So I hurry into her office convinced she's just learned that one of her parents have died or that she's got only a few months to live or something. She was on the phone with a friend who had called to tell her about this "disgusting radio show" and how they were pushing the Taliban as a good thing. My boss couldn't believe it but then her friend was trying to remember the name and couldn't.. Finally, she remembered the name of the host, Amy Goodman.

Marcia: Exactly, the Queen of Panhandle Media. So my boss starts calling to me so we can visit the site together and find out what "that idiot woman" has done this time. So she's got some 'Afghanistan' woman on the program. It's a woman from the US, C.I. goes over this in the snapshot. She went to Afghanistan, she says, to help, but really she went there to make money, she's just another War Profiteer. And, yes, they come with vaginas as easily as they come equipped with a penis. So we're just watching aghast.

Betty: It was disgusting. I was thinking, "Kiss my Black ass, Red Amy Goodman." I've got to take the car in because of some problem with the satellite radio so I was on traditional radio on the way to work this morning and I caught KPFA's morning broadcast of Amy's propaganda. I honestly thought, when the segment started, "Oh, she's going to talk about reality." But she didn't. And the first clue was that she was noting a woman's day. It's really interesting -- and needs to be noted -- how little American women ever matter on that program produced in the US, featuring tons and tons of American males. But Amy was interested in International Women's Day -- this from the woman who chose to publish her 'work' in the worst of all skin magazines. I was -- Marcia said she and her boss were aghast. I was enraged. Listening, I was enraged. It was another one of her set-up bits that she pretends just happened. I'm sick of her propaganda -- the biggest part of it being that she's an 'independent' journalist. Actually the biggest part is that she's a journalist of any sort.

Trina: I don't think anyone would disagree with you on that and I agree it was more propaganda from Amy Goodman who lied non-stop throughout the primaries to push Barack and who continues to lie non-stop in order to sell his tired stuff one more time. But, and this is why we're doing this roundtable, no. No, Amy Goodman and all you other liars, you are not going to sell out the women of Afghanistan without being called on it. I saw the snapshot right before Rebecca called to say we were doing a roundtable and inviting me to participate. She didn't have to say another word, I knew what the topic was just by today's events. Now the spin is that it's good and didn't the Taliban just do a peace deal with Pakistan? In full, Feminist Wire Daily from February 19th:

A peace deal has been struck between local officials and Taliban militants in a northern part of Pakistan known as the Swat Valley that will allow the Taliban to implement Shariah law in the region if their armed campaign ends. According to the Telegraph, the region has a history of Shariah (Islamic) law, but many fear that the deal will not stop Taliban aggression in the region.

The US has
reportedly privately supported the deal, but the Obama Administration's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan told the Telegraph that "I talked to people from Swat and they were, frankly, quite terrified. Swat has really deeply affected the people of Pakistan, not just in Peshawar but in Lahore and Islamabad."

In December, regional Taliban leader Mullah Shah Doran announced an education ban that impacts women and girls in the Swat Valley. The directive set a deadline of January 15 for all girls, both in single-sex and co-educational schools, to be withdrawn. The Taliban
threatened to bomb schools that ignore this directive and to severely punish violators. At the time, teacher Mohamed Osman told the Times of India that "we have no choice but to follow the orders. The government cannot give us protection.Taliban runs a parallel government in 90 per cent of the area of the district and they execute everyone who opposes them."

Enrollment of women and girls in schools and colleges in the Swat Valley region is only a quarter of what it was only three years ago, before the Taliban gained strength there, according to the
The Australian. In the past year, more than 180 schools, many of which were all girl institutions, have been destroyed in the area. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school.

Kat: I'm honestly getting tired of the "Screw you!"s from Barack. Not only did he make that overture, and when a president of the United States floats that idea, is it an overture. But he did it on International Women's Day. That was a double-sided slap in the face.

Ruth: My immediate thing, after Sunday, was to listen to Uprising Radio. That program is hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar and airs daily on KPFK. And I listened yesterday and today -- at the show's website -- and listened in vain for news of importance though I did learn that Ronald Reagan was 'bad.' I actually knew that already. Thanks for wasting my time, Sonali.

Kat: Well Kolhatkar refused to call Barack out. And I'm talking throughout the primaries. Afghanistan's supposed to be her big issue, she wrote a book on it, and she wouldn't call him out. She tossed crumbs to Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney -- more so than most bothered -- but they were crumbs nonetheless. And that's disgusting.

C.I.: Sonali Kolhatkar's book on Afghanistan is Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence and she's also part of The Afghan Women's Mission. I haven't heard the two latest broadcasts so I don't know what she's done or what she hasn't done. But if she's staying silent, if the author whose book's subtitle includes "the Propagnda of Silence" is staying silent, she needs to just to step away from the microphone. She has nothing left to say and there is no reason for anyone to ever listen to her again. Back in August of last year, 2008, she was on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez and addressing the ties with Pakistan and the Taliban and many other issues. If she's now going to be silent after stating back then, this is a quote, wait. I'm going to go to July 2008, for an interview with Mike Whitney because we can provide a link to that and we're not linking to Amy Goodman. This is Sonali explaining 'peace' prospects in Afghanistan: "We could have peace now in Afghanistan if we were willing to give the warlords and Taliban ultimate power. In fact, there was a kind of 'peace' under the Taliban. But is that what we want?"

Betty: Kat brought up the fact that Barack floated diplomatic ties with these terrorists -- and, yes, what they do to women is terrorism -- but do people also know what was going on in Afghanistan while Barry's in the New York Times? You had a woman setting herself on fire in order to kill herself. This is appalling. This is taking place on International Women's Day and it's appalling.

Marcia: Enraged?

Betty: Absolutely I am. Sunday, when we were working on the editorial, Dona was talking about how she was just stunned.

Dona: Yeah, I mean -- what was the point? The Afghanistan War was about revenge -- against people who had done nothing to the US. And all this time later, what do you say? I mean, withdrawing troops? That makes sense to me. The war never should have started. But getting into bed with the Taliban? All of the Afghanistan people who died -- many from US bullets and US guns -- and the 662 American soldiers who died, what was the point?

Betty: Right and you talked about a lesson on Sunday.

Dona: Oh, that. Yeah. Okay, setting aside the people of Afghanistan and just focusing on Americans for this. Maybe there could be a lesson here. The lesson was that nothing good comes from an illegal war. That's a hard lesson, especially for the families who lost family members and the ones who returned to the US with wounds. But, okay, if we're going to learn the realities of war, face up to them and grasp that war is not a way to solve things, okay. As an American -- I'm setting aside the Afghanistan people for this -- I could live with that, maybe. If we were going to own up to what we did and to how much harm it caused, I could live up to that. But we're not doing that. And not only are we not doing that, we appear to be paving the way to turn the country -- Afghanistan -- back over to the Taliban.

Ava: February 27th, RAWA News was reporting on the talks taking place in London and Dubai, with Taliban and the US and the British. And how it revolved around returning Gulbaldin Hekmatyar to power.

Elaine: Hold on. Forget it. The same problem and don't think it's just happening. That's why records are preserved and the web records are the people's records so Barack truly did come in and trash the White House. Sorry, Ava, I was going to add to you. Go on, I'm sorry.

Ava: That's no problem. Don't worry about it. What Dona was saying, the whole thing, it is so pointless and it has always been a pointless war and it grieves me to think that the US leaves Afghanistan with things worse for women. I think the US needs to leave. I am by no means advocating that we need to stay until peace comes for the women --

Trina: You're no Thomas E. Ricks!

Ava: I am not Thomas E. Ricks! But there is a diference between the US immediately withdrawing and the US putting the Taliban into power. Or even, for that matter legitimizing them.

C.I. Okay, I know what Elaine wanted to add. I need Ava to take notes and I need to step away for five minutes. Just to explain, the man Ava mentioned is a terrorist. The US government designated him as such. Elaine, you were trying to find the official document/announcement, correct?

Elaine: Yes.

C.I.: And were you at the US State Dept's website?

Elaine: Yes.

C.I.: That exists. It may not at the State Dept but that's worldwide. Give me five minutes, I'll be back. Ava, I'm sorry.

Ava: No problem at all. Dona, speak and go slow while I write what I just said.

Dona: Ooooo-kkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyyy. Slow. Enough? Well, the point is, like Ava said, we're going to re-install the Taliban? We're going to give them legitimacy? Does anyone remember the talk after the US invaded? Ruth?

Ruth: I surely do. The women are liberated! Why won't they take off those burqas! It is safe now! And, no, it was not.

Marcia: I had actually, sorry to say, forgotten that. We had said that. We in the West. And imagine if they had all followed suit. And imagine what it would be like for them now as the US flirts with re-installing the Taliban. I mean, I don't know. To have had hope and have it stripped away? That's worse than to have had no hope. And put yourself in their shoes. You didn't see big changes but you thought maybe things would improve. And now the Taliban may come back and at the invitation of the US. Put yourself in the shoes of Afghani women and realize how awful that is and what it says.

Betty: Exactly. Because you thought you had hope and now you don't but you also know that even a supposedly major world power can't help you. How depressing and how awful. They can't help you but they will put your attacker back in power.

Kat C.I. just walked back over to the table and is on the laptop.

C.I.: I've got it, hold on. A friend, a diplomat, told me to try a place and I want to copy and paste it up at The Common Ills before it too vanishes. Okay, I'm done. Sorry, I had to add a banner. When the US designates someone a terrorist, it goes up at the State Dept website. It's gone now. There. But the State Dept distributes the statement to various US embassies around the world. The US Mission to Italy still has it online. This is the man the US reportedly wants to put in charge of Afghanistan. I'm going to read it out loud and this is from February 19, 2003:

The U.S. government has designated Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of the Hezeb-e Islami Afghanistan party, a terrorist, according to a statement from State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
The statement said Hekmatyar supported terrorist acts carried out by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The United States will seek to have Hekmatyar's name included in the U.N. sanctions list of people and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, al-Qaida and the Taliban, the statement said.
Following is the text of the Boucher statement:
(begin text)
Office of the Spokesman
February 19, 2003
Designation of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as a Terrorist
The U.S. Government has information indicating that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al-Qa'ida and the Taliban. Because of his terrorist activity, the United States is designating Hekmatyar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224. At the same time, the United States will request that the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee include Hekmatyar on its consolidated list of entities and individuals associated with Usama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida, and the Taliban, which would obligate all Member States to impose sanctions, including assets freezes, under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1390, and 1455.

C.I. (Con't): Word for word, that is the press release. That's what Elaine was attempting to put into the record of this roundtable.

Elaine: Correct. And this is a man who has been in hiding because of his actions. Actions that have been ongoing with his group claiming responsibility for attacks on Karzai -- Hamid Karzai, the US installed leader of Afghanistan -- and for attacks on US helicopters. He has made statements about wanting to join and help al Qaeda. He has then denied them. But he made a tape and Al Jazeera broadcast it -- this is 2006 -- where he's saying he wants to help Osama bin Laden. And this is who the US flirts with putting in charge of Afghanistan.

Rebecca: Okay, I've pulled up al Jazeera on this story and Gulbaldin Hekmatyar. This is Al Jazeera: "The talks, between Taliban-linked mediators, Western officials and the Afghan government, are believed to involve a proposal for the return to Afghanistan of Gulbaldin Hekmatyar, the country's former prime minister, who has been in hiding for seven years.
Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami forces fighting alongside the Taliban and labelled a 'terrorist organisation' by the United States, would be allowed to return to Afghanistan with immunity from prosecution, according to information revealed to Al Jazeera." I should have done that deep voice, "This is Al Jazeera," like James Earl Jones doing, "This is CNN." But that's from February 27th. If you're doing a link, I am, make a point to e-mail Elaine with it or give it to her over the phone after the roundtable ends so she's not typing this and hunting down links. Okay, so that's who the US wants to put in charge. And it just gets better and better, doesn't it?
Trina: I'm going to have to steal from Betty right now and say I'm enraged. I was mad. I was angry. Now I'm enraged.

Ruth: I am going to quote Joe Biden, US Vice President, and I am very disappointed, very.
Ava: C.I. and I saw a huge variety. Are you at the White House website?

Ruth: No, but I will go there. I was at a news article. Hold a minute. Okay, White House and these are Mr. Biden's remarks:
Well, let me just say -- and to paraphrase Secretary Holbrooke, our Special Envoy, and I agree with his assessment after numerous visits to the region and throughout the country -- 5 percent of the Taliban is incorrigible, not susceptible to anything other than being defeated. Another 25 percent or so are not quite sure, in my view, the intensity of their commitment to the insurgency. And roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money, because of them being -- getting paid.
To state the obvious, as you know, the Taliban, most of whom are Pashtun -- you have 60 percent of the Pashtun population in Pakistan; only 40 percent live in Afghanistan. The objectives that flow from Kandahar may be different than Quetta, may be different than the FATA. So it's worth exploring.
The idea of what concessions would be made is well beyond the scope of my being able to answer, except to say that whatever is initiated will have to be ultimately initiated by the Afghan government, and will have to be such that it would not undermine a legitimate Afghan government. But I do think it is worth engaging and determining whether or not there are those who are willing to participate in a secure and stable Afghan state.

Ruth (Con't): C.I., can you decipher Joe Biden on that?

C.I.: Well. With his "they're on the payroll." There are people on the payroll. They attack Karzai's people and the US and do so for money. Most news outlets in the last two years have covered that. I don't know that they're considered Taliban for that reason only. Joe's lumping them in and that's not a call I would make. It's one many others would, however. So that's what he's talking about there. In terms of the rest of it, I can't defend or explain it. First off, Afghanistan is supposed to be a sovereign nation. It's not. It's supposed to be. It's interesting that the reports never have Karzai -- a US puppet, in my opinion, yes, but that country's leader if only in terms of symbolism -- at these meetings to invite the Taliban back. But, I can't defend any of the above and wouldn't. I can explain the one comment I did. About what he means in terms of payroll.

Elaine: And I'm jumping in to explain that further because I agree with C.I. The Taliban has money. For all their high mindnessness -- their 'ideals' are why they attack women -- the Taliban's just 'too wonderful for this world'. But for all of that, they do profit from the drug trade. They had stomped much of it out when they were in charge of the country but it is a way to make cash and the war lords grow it and pay the Taliban a cut which the Taliban gladly takes. Like C.I., I wouldn't assume someone is necessarily Taliban because they are on the payroll. Afghanistan is a war-torn country and has been since -- well since the US made the decision, during Jimmy Carter's presidency, to draw the USSR into the sinkhole of quagmire. So there are not economic opportunities. In that regard, I don't see them as Taliban but do see where Biden's coming from on that. On that. And only on that. Like C.I., my attitude is, he's on his own on the rest of it.

Ruth: Well, I am really disapointed in Joe Biden. I want to go on the record saying I expect this crazyness from Barack who is not a smart man. But what is the point of serving in the US Senate all those years, as Senator Biden has, if they mean nothing and that is how I feel on this.

Elaine: No argument on that from anyone here.

Ava:: We all know what's going on. The US wants to lessen their burden in Afghanistan and they're doing what they always do: Going about it the easiest way possible.

Dona: And by lessen, you don't mean leave.

Ava: No, of course not. The US government wants the Caspian Basin. It would prefer control of it. But it will settle for a share of it or access to it. The US will happily reduce the number of forces, but they aren't leaving Afghanistan. My opinion.

Betty: I agree with you and I believe Gore Vidal's work on this issue backs you up and then some.

Dona: And that's another issue on the disgusting front. There's no departure, there's no autonomy for the Afghan people and all this illegal war for nothing except to maybe make a few people hope for a few seconds before things return to exactly what they were before.

Trina: I would absolutely agree with that and I know we need to wind down. So I'll offer my closing thoughts. The US needs to leave Afghanistan. No if-and-but about it. They need to leave. However, they do not need to install anyone and that we would flirt with installing a terrorist says a great deal about how short sighted our government is.

Marcia: As C.I. notes in today's snapshot, Elaine's "Anti-feminist Barack Obama" and Kat's "Afghanistan" covered this region last night so I'd recommend people look there and, specifically, that they read over Sarah Chayes "Comprehensive Plan for Afghanistan January 2009." Yes, it's PDF format and that may not work for all due to computer issues. But if you can, you need to read it. Even if you can't, you can still visit SarahChayes.net and find out more information there.

Ava: Sarah Chayes went to Afghanistan to cover it for NPR. She ended up leaving NPR to work in Afghanistan. This is an issue she is highly knowledgable on.

Marcia: And another reason I happen to like Chayes is she dressed like the locals. Not like the women. She didn't put on burqa. She dressed in the garb the men were wearing. So she made a gesture to the culture and she also refused to take on the sexist element of the clothing as so many Western women do when they go to Afghanistan. They need to follow her example and stop doing that.

Rebecca: Okay, Ruth, Betty and Dona. Closing thoughts?

Betty: I really have a very difficult time talking about this because I am so angry. I cannot believe that the women of Afghanistan, already having suffered so much, are now about to suffer even more and just so the US can grab the easy solution. I'm not talking withdrawal by 'easy,' I'm referring to the re-installing of thugs.

Ruth: I agree with Bettty and we see this all the time. And it is why we have no real foreign policy. We put in strong men who are dangers to communities and then a generation or two on down the line has to deal with it. And they do not think twice about shoving the same burdens onto future generations. It is very sad we have such a limited and unknowing foreign policy.

Dona: Well I agree with what Betty said and I was going to expand on that but, wow, Ruth, yes. We do create the same problems. This is why the Iraqi women suffer today. The US did the cheap thing -- used thugs to provide 'order.' Thugs are always the ones the baton's handed off to. And over and over, it creates the same problem. Over and over. Well said, Ruth.

Rebecca: Kat, closing thought?

Kat: I keep telling myself that I can be neither surprised nor disappointed by Barack. That I have no faith in him so nothing he does has any reaction other than an eye roll but, boy, does he manage to disappoint even those who were expecting nothing from him.

Ava: I will go along with Kat on that. It's really something and, as she pointed out earlier, what a slap to women around the world for him to have timed his announcement to coincide with International Women's Day. What an insult.

Rebecca: Elaine, closing thoughts will hold for a minute. I'm going to let you have the last word because I'm going off topic for a question Sherry wanted me to ask C.I. Jane Fonda is on Broadway right now in the play 33 Variations. Ben Brantley critiqued it and he writes, "Ms. Fonda's Katherine seems more polite than passionate. This is one instance in which the cinematic restraint of Ms. Fonda's performance works against her. It's hard to credit the words Katherine remembers her 7-year-old daughter saying to her: 'When you listen to music, Mom, you look like you're talking to God'." Sherry was thinking of seeing, her aunt got tickets, but now she's not sure. C.I., that question is for you.

C.I.: Okay. Well Ava and I saw the play and we loved it. I assume from the sentecnes that Brantley otherwise raved over Jane's performance. It's an amazing performance. He seems unhappy that there's not a fervor when Jane's character listens to music. If you want fevor, you hire Ellen Burstyn. And that's not an insult, I love Ellen. But she does that very well. She did it amazingly well in Resurrection. Fonda's not an unknown at this point in the career. We know the type of actress she is, we know her style. We know her temperament. I actually disagree with him, with Brantley. But I don't expect that every line of dialogue is on the nose. Nor do I -- nor does Jane or Samantha Mathis, Samantha plays Jane's daughter -- assume that what we see of our parents as children is what they are or even what is really taking place. Carly has a wonderful song, Carly Simon, entitled "Embrace Me, You Child." In it, she has God and her father speaking. Now that didn't happen. But she's writing about what it was like to her as a child. And she's capturing the distortions we place on our parents. It's an amazing song and I really think it's more, that it goes more to what the daughter said when she was seven-years-old. There are dynamics, there are parent-child dynamics, in the play that are very important and I'm not sure Brantley -- I haven't read his review -- is grasping some of what Jane and Samantha are doing on stage. For Sherry, go see the play. The performances are amazing. As soon as the run is over, it's a limited run, the play should immediately be filmed because they have really accomplished something. I mean Jane and Samantha but Colin Hanks is wonderful as well. The play is 33 Variations and its at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre through May 24th. It's a limited run. Anyone who has the chance to see it should see it. I don't think you'll be disappointed. You can go with just the text, the play has a very unusual and unique rhythm and style, or you can go to enjoy some amazing performances. Or you can go because you're a huge fan of Jane's. Samantha and Colin have fan bases as well. But if you've ever enjoyed Jane's performances -- her two Oscar wins, many times nominated performances -- and wanted to see it in peson, you need to go. But you won't be registering Jane. The play will be over and you'll realize that you got caught up in Katherine, her character. You won't be sitting there saying, "Oh, there's Jane." The play will grab you and pull you in very quickly, almost deceptively so. And you will be surprised how much you care about the characters and you better make time for either a long drive after or for a meal because you really want to process and share what you just saw. Jane's given an amazing performance, it will be Tony nominated. To tie this back into Afghanistan women, Jane has long contributed to the cause of Afghanistan women with both her pocket book and her words.

Rebecca: Thank you and I'm sure Sherry thanks you. She'll be going this week.

C.I.: You sure she's going to go?

Rebecca: You just gave it a rave. She'll be there. Elaine, closing thoughts on Afghanistan or, if you prefer, the New York theatre.

Elaine: I actually would prefer to talk about the latter. There's much more worthy of praise. But what I can praise is the women in Afghanistan. As Betty explained, one woman set herself on fire Sunday. Things were so bad that the only 'freedom' for her was death. We have it bad. Women around the world have it bad. But we do not have it as bad as the women in Afghanistan. As many have said, it really is a heart breaker, that a US administration could be in talks with the Taliban, could be talking about bringing them back in. That's where C.I. and I part with Joe on the definition. See, these people earning money from the Taliban -- by attacking US forces and the Afghanistan's government's forces -- are not going to be installed. They are not power brokers. They are people barely getting by. Those aren't the people Barack's talking about. He's talking about the leaders of the Taliban. You've got Yusef the farmer trying to make ends meet and he takes the equivalent of $10 a week from the Taliban to shoot his rifle down the street at the local police station. Yusef's not the Taliban. Nor is Yusef the sort of person who would be given a leadership role. So I think Joe Biden's attempting to divert the situation, attempting to water down what Barack's talking about. No one is having meetings with Yusef. No one is meeting with Yusef in Dubai or London.

Ava: Let me jump in to say Elaine's put it into words perfectly. That really is the difference and it's why Joe Biden's words really do seem like spin control.

Rebecca: Okay, well before we wind down, you saw Jane Fonda onstage as well. Since you're speaking, you recommend it as well?

Ava: Yes. Very much so. C.I. and I went with my mother and my aunt. And, yes, you really need to carve out some post-play time to discuss it. It's a wonderful play and anyone who has a chance to see it and doesn't should kick themselves in the head.

Rebecca: Okay. On that note, we'll wind down. We are doing a roundtable on Friday for Iraq. That remains on. This is a rush transcript.