Friday, April 10, 2009

Iraq roundtable

Rebecca: We hadn't planned on a roundtable tonight but Trina asked and we all agreed.  She'll tell you why in a minute and this is an Iraq roundtable.  Participating tonight are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, 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, Ruth of Ruth's Report and me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude.  Betty and Cedric join us by phone.  Trina, how about you kick things off?
Trina: Today 5 US soldiers died in Iraq.  As the snapshot notes the world wide web has other things to talk about.  Not much of it important or useful.  How many times did we all watch as they mounted their high horses and acted like they gave a damn about the Iraq War from 2003 through 2007?  Maybe some extended it a little further.  But apparently for them the Iraq War was actually nothing but a political football to toss around in the hopes of advancing a few yards for Team Democrat.  It's disgusting, it's appalling and it needs to be called out.
Cedric: I agree and that piece of trash, rip-off site Corrente?  They used to pretend to care about the Iraq War.  They never did a thing on the deaths of the five.  But tonight that loony Sarah did find time to write, with no irony, "Style over Substance" -- about Michelle Fashion Plate.  Yeah, that was the most imporant thing in the world today.  I'm counting 23 blog posts they posted today and not one of them mentioned the death of the five US soldiers.  If you ask me, 23 posts in one day and not one of you damn hypocrites mentions that 5 soldiers died in Iraq, you can go rot in hell but truth of the matter is you're pathetic ass is already there.
Elaine: It really is amazing how the blogs, like the media, ran from Iraq as soon as Barack got into office.  It doesn't matter if they're pro-Barry blogs, anti-Barry blogs, or in the middle from the center posing as left all the way to the left, they don't give a damn about Iraq and I am mentioning Kimberly Wilder so she can take any problems she has with my remarks up with me by e-mailing me although I probably won't even read it and I won't reply because I don't like having my e-mails passed on.  You slammed Hillary and trashed her and did so over her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution.  If that mattered at all to you, you would have found time to note the deaths.  You want to self-present as "social justice"?  Then cover the damn war.  You're disgusting and you're little blog posts about Barry and how Barry's going to do this and do that, spare us all.  As Kathy Kelly said on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday, "Well I think that Barack Obama is the world's chief exporter of weapons. I mean that goes with the job.  And I think that you can't look at attacks on civilian populations using conventional military force and not discuss War Crimes."  The peace movement's goals have not changed just because the White House flipped and it's been appalling to watch people like Kimberly Wilder -- an alleged Green Party member until her recent break -- go out of her way to praise a War Hawk named Barack Obama.
Mike: The Iraq War has not ended and you have to be a stupid idiot like Phyllis Bennis to say, "Well I'm happy that Barack's said he's going to end it and the time doesn't really matter."  The time doesn't matter to you Phyllis?  In 2007, he was promising the Iraq War would be over by now.
Rebecca: Stopping you for a minute, Mike.  C.I.?
C.I.: Right.  They can click here for Jake Tapper's 2007 story about Barack having just launched his presidential campaign and I quote, "Obama, often criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience, had his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by March 2008 attacked by an unlikely source -- the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, an ally of President Bush."
Rebecca: Thank you.  I know someone's going to question Mike's statement and I knew C.I. would be able to pull it up.  Mike?
Mike: Well, he's promised everything and he's never delivered a damn thing and we can see that even more this week with his 'state secrets' excuse to cover up for the illegal spying on Americans that the government did.  He lied on the campaign trail non-stop and you've got idiots like Phyllis Bennis saying it doesn't matter when Barack pulls the troops out and that is what she said when he went to 18 or 19 months for a withdrawal and she said it didn't matter if it was longer than what was promised.  That's pathetic Phyllis Bennis.  It does matter.  And if he'd stuck to what he was saying in 2007, the US would have been out of Iraq already and those 5 dead soldiers wouldn't be dead.
Marcia: It just seems to me that there is a detachment about the Iraq War, a distance from it, as if it were a game.  I'd honestly appreciate sell outs a lot more if they'd just say, "I'm a sell out, I didn't give a damn about the Iraq War, I just wanted to elect Democrats."  If they'd say that, I wouldn't expect a thing from them.  I wouldn't be outraged and angry.  But they're liars.  They want to pretend like they still care about ending the Iraq War and they can't even write about it.  They can't cover it, they can't talk about it, they're just a huge disgrace because they're all wanting to act like they're still trying to end the Iraq War.  And they're not doing a damn thing.
Ruth: Well actually, what Marcia's discussing is sort of what Stan and I were talking about earlier this evening.  We had both read Norman Solomon's embarrassing "Getting a Death Grip on Memory" at CounterPunch and he and I had strong opinions on it.  Stan?
Stan: Okay, So Norman Solomon's riding his high horse about how Real Media wants to forget their crimes.  That would be Norman Solomon, pledged delegate for Barack Obama.  That would be Norman Solomon who lied for Barry and who did everything he could to get Barry elected.  He cut off people when he was a guest on the radio and tried to rip their character apart when they questioned Barack.  He cut them off and launched personal attacks on them, the sort of thing he maintains he never does, he maintains he debates the issues, but that's not what he did on KPFA.  And he's a liar because he'd go on KPFA to 'analyze' the race and 'forget' to tell listeners that he was a pledged delegate for Barck.  For that reason alone, he shouldn't have been on.  And he knows that.  He knows all about media ethics.  He just doesn't practice any.  He's a disgusting whore and for him to talk about Real Media's memory lapses, what he needs to do is write a column on how someone betrays every thing they supposedly believe in to whore out for a candidate.  He's a whore, a cheap, trashy, disease ridden whore. 
Rebecca: And Ruth, you say what?
Ruth: I would have to agree with Stan.  We were talking about this and how Norman Solomon must wake up every morning convinced that he has really put one over on everybody. 
Ava: Or maybe doubting it?  Maybe that's why he lays it on so thick.
Ruth: Good point.  And, as Stan said, he broke every ethic regarding media in 2008.  He knows those ethics, he lectures on those ethics.  He might try getting honest about that. 
Rebecca: Because confession is good for the soul?
Ruth: Because a blistering confession might allow someone tempted in the future to avoid the path he went down.  It would be like a drug addict sharing with people how low he sunk while active in his disease.
Rebecca: Okay.  Kat and Wally haven't spoken.  Betty hasn't but she and I talked ahead of time and she has a topic she's bringing in.  But I'm letting Wally and Kat know they need to speak if they're planning to.  Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type up this rush transcript.  They can speak whenever they want but we all doubt they'll speak much.  Betty?
Betty: I wanted to talk about Iraq's LGBT population.  In the April 2nd snapshot, C.I. noted the reports that they were being executed.  No one followed that story this week until we found out, see yesterday's snapshot, that US House Rep Jared Polis went to Iraq and was given information about a gay man sentenced to death for being gay.  Why isn't anyone writing about this?  Michael Riley (Denver Post) was covering it but I'm not even sure if he grasped all of what he was reporting and, if he did grasp it, I think he intentionally downplayed it.  Maybe because he thought if he didn't downplay it, it might be seen as too explosive for print.  But read his article.  A member of the US Congress has been given information that states a gay man is going to be put to execution because he is gay.  The Congress member finds the information and documentation so convincing that he raises the issue on his Iraq trip.  I'd say this is pretty big news.
Cedric: I'd agree with you Betty and I'd argue that if all the people writing last week about the executions hadn't been doing that. and that includes C.I. doing the why-are-we-silent writing, we wouldn't have gotten Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" in the New York Times this week.  That's really the strongest article on this subject that paper has published.  And, speculating, I'm wondering is it that the paper previously didn't care about the issue, thought readers didn't care about the issue, thought it wasn't among the important issues or what?
Mike: Well when they can write that stupid article on the Humvee dealership in Iraq then if it's that the paper didn't think LGBT was an "important issue," that's saying a lot.  And none of it good about the paper. 
Ruth: I honestly think that there is a 'queasy' aspect to it -- I am talking about among the press.  It happens far too often, an issue involving an attack on the LGBT community in any country, even our own, never gets the kind of attention it deserves.  Never.  I think a large portion of the press, especially above the reporters' level, are uncomfortable with LGBT issues and the LGBT community. 
Ava: Well, in terms of the New York Times, they have a shameful history on AIDS in the eighties and I would argue that's because of the "queasy" aspect Ruth's talking about.  They didn't see gays and lesbians as 'real human beings' so when a disease that wasknown as the "gay cancer" struck, they didn't want to devote the kind of attention they would have if the same disease had targeted red-headed-four-year-old boys, for example. 
Mike: I don't want to dominate the roundtable but if I can make another point, and I'll try to be quick, homophobia is out there and it's not going away.  It might get reduced, but it's not going away any time soon.  And if we're not willing to combat it, then I don't know what's going to happen.  I am eager about one thing that's coming up.
Marcia: I agree with you, Mike, but I want to also say how important it is that someone like Mike says that and not just me.  I'm a lesbian.  It's important that I speak out.  But Mike's a straight man and it's really important that he speak out as well.  I think the gay community is something like one in ten.  The LGBT community needs to speak up but we also need support from the straight community.  In terms of what Mike's talking about coming up, I agree.  And I'm excited about it as well.  It's something we're going to be doing at Third.  A regular feature.  But I would agree there's a silence and, like Ruth, I would have to say it's because it makes some straight people uncomfortable.
Betty: If I can say one more thing on this topic, I'd just like to point out that gays are being targeted in Iraq.  By the clergy, by the police and apparently by their state government.  And the fact that so many -- including Liar Barack -- have taken to tossing around terms like "democracy" at a time when homophobia is expressed with criminal intent is appalling.  And it's disgusting to see US leaders hail a country where homophobia and homophobic murders are condoned by the governemtn.  It's disgusting.
Wally: Well the silence goes beyond the press and it also includes our own State Dept which has never condemened the murders.  It didn't condemn under the homophobe Colin Powell, it didn't condemn then under Condi Rice and it's not condemning them under Hillary Clinton.  Now I happen to like Hillary and, as most people reading this will know, from something like January through the primary in Puerto Rico, I was on the road campaigning for her.  I ended up taking off the semester to do that.  I believed in her campaign that much.  She's being silent.  Now I could be an Obot and say, "She needs more time to speak! She needs to get comfortable!"  I could offer a million excuses but the reality is she has not spoken out against it and that's not right, and there's no excuse for it, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed for Hillary.  And I'll tell you one more thing, I'd be talking about that like her if she was president.  Because I don't believe in hero worship.  Unlike the Cult of St. Barack, I don't offer excuses.  And I believe Hillary would make a great president.  But I believe that because I think she's smart.  So when someone that smart and that wise doesn't speak out against the murders, it is appalling and I will call out.  I will repeat, Hillary Clinton, I am ashamed and embarrassed by your silence.  I am fully aware that there are issues that are policy and that come above Hillary.  That would include the Israel situtation, for example.  There she's merely executing policy.  However, in terms of this issue, in terms of condemning any murders in any country -- I'm talking warfare, supposed or otherwise -- she has the power, due to the office she holds, to issue a state condemning the murders.  She hasn't done it.  I'm appalled. Shame on you, Hillary, you know better.  And Kat I knew Betty's topic, Rebecca, which is why we were holding off on talking.
Kat: Right.  And it is an important topic but just to back up a second, I agree with Wally and if Hillary had gotten the nomination, she would be president, we all know that, we all know she got more votes than Barack in the primaries and we all know she would have done better than he did in the general.  But if she was president, we wouldn't be playing fan club to Hillary.  We'd be doing what Wally just did right now.  And Wally gave his all to getting the word out on Hillary.  He dropped out of college because he took some weeks off and ended up deciding that it was more important that he campaign for her.  The original plan was just to campaign for her for a few weeks, he ended up dropping out to campaign for her.  And he still believes she would make a wonderful president but that didn't prevent him from calling her out on her silence and doing so strongly.  And if she were president and going back on her word to withdraw one brigade a month from Iraq, we'd all be calling her out.  The Obots aren't politically educated or smart.  They needed a crush, an empty vessel upon which they could impose their dreams of love and romance.  It and they are disgusting.  Now in terms of the LGBT community in Iraq, I don't want to hear any garbage about Muslim religion or any of that other s**t.  We don't use "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture" to hide behind murdering Jews or Christians.  Murder's wrong.  That's not open to debate.  That the US has installed a regime in Iraq which thinks it's okay to murder gays and lesbians -- and even if the government is not executing them, they are turning a blind eye to their murders -- explains how sick and perverted this illegal war really was.  And to be clear "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture," gays and lesbians still were in Iraq.  They are Iraqis.  And they had acceptance before the illegal war.  They are a part of Muslim culture whether fundamentalists want to accept it or not.  And they are a part of Iraq and they should have been protected.
Rebecca: I did not know that Kat and Wally were waiting for Betty's topic.  And thank you to Betty for introducing it because that was a very lively discussion.  We need to wind down and I want to let Trina have the last word since she grabbed the first.  Trina, a lot's been said since you explained why you wanted this roundtable.  Closing thoughts?
Trina: I think we have shown that there is so much still to discuss about the Iraq War and there's so much that we didn't even get to.  We didn't talk about how the violence this week has been so great that even the press has a hard time pretending it's not happening, for example.  We didn't talk about the targeting of Sahwa.  There are so many topics that we didn't have time for, all Iraq related, and that's going to be true every day because it is an ongoing war and it is a real shame that the people who supposedly wanted to end it have moved on to other things while over 130,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.  The illegal war has not ended and it's appalling to grasp how little that matters to so many who used to pretend they gave a damn.
Rebecca: And on that note, we'll wrap up.  As stated before, this is a rush transcript.  This roundtable will be posted at the sites of all participating.  And, in closing, C.I. asked me to note the Center for Media and Democracy's "Common Purpose: Another Cog in Obama's PR Machine" on the sell out of our so-called left.  It's a very important piece and I'm sure will be addressing it at Third on Sunday.