Rebecca: Last Friday, we did our fourth Iraq roundtable and were planning to get back to our regular postings this Friday. Something changed. Including a bad press conference staged by the Feminist Majority Foundation on Afghanistan -- a topic we also recently roundtabled on. We're going to move to Afghanistan quickly and then to Iraq but we'll start with something else first. Participating tonight 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!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Ruth of Ruth's Report. Betty and Cedric are joining us by phone. The rest of us are at Trina's and we need to do a thing from Trina first before we get to Afghanistan.
Trina: Thank you. Five different women e-mailed me and I was planning on addressing this tonight, Rebecca's letting me here. You've made some form of hamburger helper or some combination of noodles and have leftovers. Grab a small can of tomato sauce -- eight ounce and some cheese, mix it in together with the leftovers and then heat on the stovetop or in the microwave oven. If it won't go with tomatoes, add two tablespoons of sour cream and some cheese. Cheese is grated in both cases. It will add some zip to the leftovers. That's a question that came up in five e-mails and I have e-mailed the tip to the women but if they're asking, with this economy, a lot of other people are wondering as well. The ecoonomy is in crisis and the news today included some states were seeing double digit unemployment.
Rebecca: Glad you covered it and agree that if it's popping up in the e-mails a lot of people are asking. For those who don't Trina's site, she talks about Iraq, the economy and cooking. Okay, now we're moving to Afghanistan and Ava and C.I. can comment on the press conference by Feminist Majority Foundation. They can not, repeat NOT, comment on Barack's press conference this morning. Why? Jim's wants a piece on that at Third this weekend. Due to that, Ava and C.I. agreed to say nothing about Barack's 'same way to quagmirel' plan on Afghanistan -- and that's their phrase, by the way. Ava and C.I. are taking notes throughout and Trina's grabbing when one of them nods to her. So thank you to the three of them for that. Ava and C.I. will type this up and it will appear at the sites of all participating. So Betty, I'm going to let you set us up.
Betty: We did an Afghanistan roundtable a few weeks ago and did it when the administration was floating playing footsie with the Taliban. We called it out and stood firm. Today the very weak Feminist Majority Foundation held a very weak press conference featuring the very weak Eleanor Smeal and the very weak Dr. Sima Samar.
Elaine: I think Betty just did the perfect set-up and I'll argue that not only did the Feminist Majority Foundation need to be stronger, they were required to be as a result of being silent for so long. Where were they? Where were they when it mattered?
Marcia: No where to be found and showing up today with weakness.
Rebecca: Trina, you're going to grab the notes here? Okay, she's nodding. Ava and C.I., I'm bringing you too in now.
Ava: As Betty, Elaine and Marcia have pointed out, it was very weak. It was a very weak, weak-ass embarrassment. We heard about it as it was happening from enraged feminists who feel this is yet another example of how Eleanor Smeal is not fit to be a leader. For example, the Taliban? Never mentioned until the questions. Smeal and Samar both spoke at length, never mentioned the Taliban. Avoided the issue because heaven forbid the damn asshole Barack Obama be called out. It was pathetic, it was embarrassing and it was shameful. If we thought it was bad, and we did, when 'leaders' sold out women to cozy up to the homophobic and sexist Barack, it was even worse to see that press conference.
C.I.: As Ava just explained, the Taliban would have gone unmentioned if reporters hadn't raised the issue. That fact totally neutralizes the very bad, very shoddy press conference that was so bad that Eleanor couldn't even get tired phrases correct. Example, she meant to say women were the "canaries in the coal mine" and instead said they were the "canaries in the mine." There's a difference. And there's a difference between being prepared and standing in front of the press and babbling away like two idiots.
Ava: And there's a difference between covering your hair and not covering your hair. If the doctor wanted her hair covered, she should have dressed appropriately. Her non-stop grabbing her little bonnet and putting it back on her head was a distraction. And if "little bonnet" is offensive, f**k you, your press conference was offensive. We spoke to twelve Afghanistan women and the level of fury over Eleanor little stunt is off the charts. Eleanor being called a "whore" is one of the nicer things said. Afghan women got sold out today.
C.I.: Yeah, that was about the nicest thing anyone said about Eleanor Smeal today. Now some might argue, "Well, they were thrown because they scheduled the press conference today and then Barack had one at the same time." Too damn bad. They should have scheduled a press conference immediately. We're also fully aware that the two press conferences going on at the same time didn't just happen. Eleanor can play dumb all she wants, but it didn't just happen. And it didn't just happen that the 'neediest of the cases' Eleanor could bring up was a man. She spoke about an Afghanistan man for nearly a minute which was thirty seconds more than, for example, she gave to Afghan women who had acid thrown in their face.
Ava: It was the most telling moment. As my aunt said, "That's Eleanor and that's all that's wrong with the leadership." There she was sucking up to a man, on her knees, kissing his knob instead of helping women. One little Afghan man matters more than anything else. Boo f**king who, Eleanor Smeal.
C.I.: We're referring to the male reporter. And Eleanor couldn't stop babbling about him. The point was -- as her incoherent, unplanned babbling continued -- a man matters more than a woman or many women. That's what she did by making one man, imprisoned unfairly -- no question, more the focus than any Afghan woman. A woman can be nailed to a tree alive, she can have acid thrown in her face, she can be killed in front of children, you name it. But she is not as important as a man.
Ava: Because the male reporter was a man and it is apparently a sign of importance when a man actually thinks beyond himself. Now women, we're supposed to do that, but Eleanor is so blown away that some guy could be a big boy and actually leave his own isolated world for a second or two that she makes him a god, she dresses him up like a god and, as C.I. explained, through her emphasis and the amount of time she gives him, makes it all about him. He gets more time from Eleanor than any Afghan woman. He hasn't been tortured as far as anyone knows. He is just the victim of injust justice system and, word to Ellie, there are many Afghan women that are the victims of the 'legal' system.
Rebecca: Okay, Betty had a point and I want to bring her in on it. And then if there's a comment from anyone else, that's fine, but otherwise I'm going to toss back to Ava and C.I. who are going to transition us into Iraq. Not immediately, but they're going to take us from that bad press conference to Iraq. Betty?
Betty: I watched the press conference online this evening when I got a call inviting me to the roundtable. I found it offensive that a reporter wanted to say Laura Bush worked on the Afghan issue so what are Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton going to do? That was the question. Hillary is not a First Lady, she is the Secretary of State, she is a former, twice elected US Senator. And this was not pointed out by the hideous Ellie Smeal who did find time to brag about how 'as we all know' Michelle's a feminist. What? Michelle's gone out of her way to reject the feminist label verbablly, she's said she doesn't consider herself one and that's before we get to her actions that I'm tabling because I'm going to pitch it at Third.
Kat: Jim will love that, that we're all coming in prepared to pitch stuff for the edition. This may be all I say the entire edition but Feminist Wire Daily has a an item on it and they seem to forget that we live in an online world. By that I mean, they're telling you that CSPAN aired it live and CSPAN will repeat it. Excuse me, you can watch it online right now at CSPAN. Click on ""Feminist Majority Foundation Press Conference on Afghan Women and Girls (March 27, 2009)" and you can watch it when you want.
Rebecca: Thank you for that. Anyone who wants to watch the conference can via the link. We've got Stan, Wally and Cedric participating -- and we're thrilled to have them -- and I want to be sure that they know they can jump in anytime they want. I've got nods from Stan and Wally. Cedric, I can't see you.
Cedric: Yeah, I'll jump in when needed but I'm really enjoying this and eager to hear Ava and C.I. again. I'm on the phone so, just out of curiousity, how are they handing off to each other?
Rebecca: When one of them winds down speaking, as they're on the last sentence, they nod to each other. And on that, I'm tossing back to them. Ava?
Ava: The press conference was so offensive. Now the woman who should have been speaking wasn't the increasingly chubby Ellie Smeal. Why was she there? There was no reason for it and to hear her weak ass non-mea culpa just underscored that. Ellie Smeal got in bed with the Bush administration and helped bring the world the Afghanistan War.
C.I.: And yet, she couldn't get honest about that. She could just refer to meetings and how there were 'hopes.' Ellie, the hopes bit you in your fat ass. You're not supposed to be the leader of Hopey Town, you're supposed to live in the real world. In 2001, Ellie was smitten with George W. Bush, today's she's in love with Barack Obama. In both instances, women suffer. The press conference did not play like it was about helping Afghan women -- it played like it existed to promote the CIA's war that became a full blown one in 2001.
Ava: Exactly. The press conference existed to promote war and to provide cover. Just like Ellie Smeal did in 2001. Is trashy Ellie Smeal CIA? That was the question. Feminism is not about war. Feminism is about peace. If Ellie Smeal wants to go to war, she needs to enlist.
C.I.: Ellie's 'so glad,' she explained, that the foucs is back on Afghanistan where, in her opinion, it matters. And she's so very happy about the 60,000 US service members that will be stationed in Iraq. She's practically fingering herself with glee at the idea of a ramped up Afghanistan War.
Ava: And it's what matters, she explained. They matter, the Afghan women, and Iraq was a distraction, Ellie explained.
C.I.: Explained or spat into the face of Iraqi women? Iraqi women don't matter. They -- and the damage the US has done to their lives -- is a distraction. But Ellie's going to throw her big ole ass down and make sure we all pay attention to Afghan women and ingore Iraqi women.
Ava: Iraqi women don't matter because we have to 'save' Afghan women. We have to 'save' them and then, of course, we'll have to 'save' Iraqi women because we refuse to take seriously what has been done to their lives and what is being done to their lives.
C.I.: War is not a feminist value and Ellie Smeal has turned into a War Hawk. The Feminist Majority Foundation needed to call out the Afghanistan War but, just as they couldn't call out the cozying up to the Taliban talk, they couldn't call out that war that has accomplished nothing -- most wars don't -- unless the goal was to further destroy the lives of Afghanistan women. The thing to do was to argue for how improvements can be attempted for Afghanistan women and that wasn't possible.
Ava: Because doing so would have required repudiating the Afghanistan War. Would have called for demanding a timeline to end the Afghanistan War and made clear markers for what needed to be done prior to the withdrawal. Instead, Ellie Smeal used the Feminist Majority Foundation to put a happy smile on the administration. It was disgraceful.
C.I.: Both women disgraced themselves and the doctor was as bas as Smeal. They both worshiped Bush as 2001 wound down, today they worship Obama. It's a damn shame that old and old looking women can't act their age and learn the power in women as opposed to seeking to bask in the power of men.
Ava: Which brings us back to the emphasis Ellie placed on men. One Afghan man was worth more talk from Ellie than any Afghan women because, again, for Ellie it's not about women discovering their own power or using their own power. For Ellie, feminism is all about basking in the glow of a penis. She's a disgrace.
C.I.: And the Feminist Majority Foundation has done nothing to raise the awareness on Iraqi women. But they did spend the last few years promoting 'security' conferences with War Hawks. Females ones, you understand. NSA, CIA, those types. And they pretended that it was about 'security' and 'peace,' but all it was about was trying to whore feminism's good name out to promote more wars.
Wally: I'll jump in now because I was present for a group talk, where Ava and C.I. were talking to Afghanistan activists, women, this afternoon, and they were ticked. Ava and C.I. can't begin to explain how outraged the women are. There is huge, huge anger over that little stunt -- and I conisder it a stunt and agreed with the activist who said the press conference was fake and a put-on intended to promote Barack.
Rebecca: Okay. Kat, you were present and I was present too. Do you want to add anything to Wally said?
Kat: He's right. I mean, there was just so much outrage, so much of a sense of betrayal -- that, yet again, Afghan women were being used by American women as pawns to push their own agendas. "Their own agendas" meaning American women's agendas. There was such huge outrage and let me note that the 'good' doctor is a War Hawk, she's been plugging war on the Sudan for some time.
Rebecca: That was the one point I was going to raise. You beat me to it. So the Feminist Majority Foundation made it clear that war is the answer -- thereby explaining why they refuse to demand an end to the Iraq War or to raise awareness on the plight of Iraqi women. Iraqi women suffer. In today's snapshot, an Iraqi woman who moved to Lebanon with her family after threats and the slaughter of her daughter, talks about what happened, how one day her daughter didn't come home from school, how she was kidnapped. How she was raped, tortured and murdered and then her body was dumped in the town to send a message. Any thoughts on that?
Stan: I watched that video and, first off, thanks to C.I. for the transcription in the snapshot and for linking to the video. I really everyone who can stream that video needs to do so. Those stories in the video . .. they'll tear you apart. For anyone who hasn't read the snapshot yet today, C.I.'s emphasizing the plight of Iraqi refugees. And I'm assuming one reason is because the disgusting Andrew White is trying to get back in the news on the backs of Iraq's religious minorities.
Marcia: I agree and want to add, I'm a racial minority. I don't know why anyone would be offended for being called a religious minority -- as Andrew White attempts to insist they are -- but I really don't care. I don't think it's true but I don't care regardless. Ruth, you're a religious minority. Is the phrase offensive to you?
Ruth: Not at all. I am Jewish, a religious minority. I have always known that. It is not a secret. I know the Jewish Iraqi population is now predominately refugees but I cannot imagine any of them being offended by being called a religious minority. We know we are, Jews know this. That is why it was so easy to round us up and target us during the Holocaust. And if I could go futher, Andrew White is responsible for one of Baghdad's many churches. It is the only Anglican church. He cannot speak for all of Iraq's religious minorities, he does not even know them. He is someone who truly needs to learn to stop issuing orders and start listening.
Cedric: For me, I have this entire host of issues regarding Andrew White including not being able to get over the fact that this War Cheerleader who was cheerleading in the leadup to the illegal war got money from the US government, from the Defense Dept, in 2008. Tax payer money. US tax payer money went to him. Are we going to find out tomorrow that our money in 2008 also went to pay Ahmed Chalabi?
Trina: Yeah. I, yeah. I agree completely, Cedric. What were they thinking? As C.I. points out, the Christian community in Iraq has more ties to the Catholic Church. That's what you've got in Baghad and Mosul and all over. Andrew White? He's responisble for what is the Church of England which only had one church in all of Iraq. Why the heck was US tax payer money going to him? He knows nothing about the situation, he doesn't leave the Green Zone -- expect when visiting his family in England for months at a time each year -- because his church is in the Green Zone. He's a huckster and no American tax payer dollars should have ever gone to him.
Rebecca: I want to toss out something C.I. floated in the snapshot today. Using Latin America as an example, the horrors inflicted on them by the US and the US proxies, C.I. talked about how they were able to lie, the US government and the media, and get away with it but today reality is widely known and one reason is due to the fact that the refugees surfaced around the world and told the truth.
Betty: I agree with that absolutely. C.I. was specifically talking about the world church community and I can remember being a young girl and we would have people from, El Salvador, for example, visit us and explain what had happened. I never really knew of the disinformation campaign by the government and the media until the 90s when I was reading a book. And, for any who don't know, I'm talking about a Black church, in Georgia. And we had many, many refugees come through to speak to us. And that is why I know about the death squads the US government backed, armed, trained and funded and the torture that was used and how CIA agents would be present for the torture but not do the actual torture because that could get them prosecuted. So they farmed it out but supervised the torture.
Marcia: I'm up north, African-American church, and we did and do get the survivors from regimes coming to share their stories. To be Black in America, my opinion, means to trace back to slaves so for our churches, it is about this adversity, it is about government cruelty and government abuses. That's what slavery was, that's what the death squads in El Salvador were. So when you have, for example, Christians from El Salvador speaking, it is going to register with our churches. And I do agree that it is the pipeline for the realities and will be the pipeline for the realities about what's really taken place in Iraq.
Mike: Let me jump in. I'm Catholic. Boston. And, we always have visitors come through and we do hear stories of abuses and horrors and I think it's that way across the country.
Kat: Catholic to Catholic, I'll jump in. California, Bay Area, my whole life, and, yes, and, yes, especially with Latin America which is a region with a large number of Catholics. We had a constant source of information -- even during the disinformation from Reagan and the media -- about what was taking place. Trina, would it be the same in Boston? Back during the eighties? I know Mike's talking about now. But back then?
Trina: Yes, completely. From the entire region, which the US was attempting to destabilize by backing groups like the contras. In terms of El Salvador, I can remember the first time, in Church, that we heard about Sister Ita Ford, Sister Maura Clark, Sister Dorothy Kazel and layworker Jean Donovan being murdered December 2, 1980. And we actually had a group speaking, two or three, to us when the news had hit that the murderers were being paroled. That was like 18 years later. There is very much a social network in America's churches -- of all religions. And that's as true on the right as it is on the left
Stan: There was another point floated and I liked it as well. Not all right-wing churches were for the war, in this country, for the Iraq War. But a number were and it's so great that they, as much as centrist churches and left churches, will be part of getting the truth out about what was done in Iraq. Bully Boy Bush installed fundamentalist thugs and in doing so created the slaughter of Christians in Iraq. He's never going to overcome that with most people as these stories are heard over the next years.
Cedric: Am I jumping in on anyone?
Rebecca: That was me, clearing my throat, go ahead, Cedric.
Cedric: I have to say I agree with Stan. This is the system that is going to get the word out for future generations. And the reason is, so few care about Iraq today. Look around the country, you'll see it's true. But Christians, American Christians, faced with tales of slaughter, Christian slaughter? That's going to be discussed and addressed and some churches will put it into a historical context and more end-of-times-types will see it as a sign and it's going to go across right and left and just really saturate the culture. George W. Bush, alleged Christian man, unleased a slaughter on Christians in Iraq. That's not forgotten and it will be the takedown on his legacy.
Wally: Because while the so-called 'alternative' media will rush to forget and hitchike to other causes, this will not go away within the American Christian community.
Rebecca: Mike and Elaine both spoke the least and Mike spoke more recently than Elaine so I'll toss to her for a close.
Elaine: I think the Jews have a legacy and they pass it on. I believe Muslims do the same. And I believe Christians do as well. When any of those groups are targeted -- and I'm sure this is true for other religious groups -- the targeting is taken personally worldwide and it becomes part of the religion's narrative. Iraqi Christians were targeted and this is now folded into the larger struggles that Christians have gone through at other times. The same for Iraqi Jews and Iraqi Muslims -- who, of course, were also targeted.
Rebecca: Alright. That's the end of the roundtable. This is a rush transcript.