Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Casualty count and interview with Ava

Good evening, we'll start out with Democracy Now!

21 Marines Die in Iraq OverTwo-Day Period
Fourteen Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed early today in western Iraq making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces in months. Seven more Marines died on Monday.

Coalition Death Toll in Iraq Tops 2,000
The overall U.S. military death toll in Iraq has now topped eighteen hundred and the total number of coalition troops killed has passed 2,000.

You read the two things above and you start wondering what planet the people saying, "Oh no, we're winning!" are living on. Yes, the deaths are hidden away and our lap dog press won't fight back on that, but what is the magic number we hit before we can start having a honest dialogue?
And what's Hillary Clinton's magic number?

Everyone here knows I love the book What's My Name Fool? If you haven't read it, look it up. But here's something C.I. passed on by the author of the book, Dave Zirin's latest at CounterPunch.

Rafael Palmeiro and the Politics of Distraction

A close compatriot of President Bush squats in a scandal so malodorous it led news shows from coast to coast. It's a scandal that some say is too hot for Bush to comment on. But there was the President, speaking without a stammer or stutter on this issue of pressing national concern.
There was only one curious twist. The scandalized bosom buddy was not the bosomy Karl Rove, but Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. Yes, in an era of war and economic crisis, Bush took time to rush to the defense of a four-time All-Star who has become the highest profile casualty of Major League Baseball's steroid testing program.
Bush called Palmeiro a "friend" and said, "He's testified in public [to being clean], and I believe him.... Still do." Presidential lickspittle Scott McClellan also made clear at a White House press briefing that Palmeiro has the full support of the Oval Office. It no doubt will puzzle future generations (or present ones, for that matter) why the President felt compelled to comment on what a 40 year old ballplayer may or may not have ingested. But the reasons are clear enough. This is a case of how the Bush administration's Politics of Distraction have turned around to nip the President in the tush. It all began at the January 2003 State of the Union address when Bush inexplicably took time to talk tough on steroids. As New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grinned next to the First Lady, Bush put the plague of steroids on the front burner of the national consciousness. This was Politics of Distraction 101, a classic ploy to give the public something to chew over instead of those two pesky countries the US armed forces happened to be occupying.

Now, I'm dropping the e-mail discussion tonight because I want to put up an interview that I did.

Last night, I gave you a heads up to a roundtable that would be going on at The Common Ills. I couldn't reach C.I. due to morning meetings but I did reach Ava. If you haven't read the roundtable you should. Here's my interview with Ava from this morning.

So I had talked to Gina and Krista and I think the roundtable was great but I thought there were going to be more topics?

Ava: That was a many hour discussion, every topic you can imagine was addressed. We were looking at it and thinking what hell is was going to be to type up all our notes and get it posted.
If you check the time signatures, you'll see that it's that there's a little over three hours between that post and the first one C.I. did this morning. We were up so late on that. There would have been no sleep at all if we'd included all the topics that came up. Dona was saying before the roundtable and during it that we needed to stick to the main topic. We went over everyone's statements with them and asked what they were fine with. People pulled some of their statements to help us out and in some cases because of other reasons.

Dona didn't pull a statement, did she?

Ava: No. How did you know?

She's always really precise and focused in the stuff at The Third Estate Sunday Review. What about C.I.?

Ava: C.I. was much more active than in the transcript but you know the fear of "dominating the discussion."

Right. Did you think anything should have stayed?

Ava: I thought everyone, except Dona, eliminated something that was worthwhile but in terms of the practical deadline we were up against, I'm grateful people were willing to part with a comment or comments. You know this from participating at The Third Estate Sunday Review but in case anyone else doesn't, nothing was "improved." What's up there is what was said. Things were taken out, things were not added.

I loved it but I did wish there was more C.I. and also more Ruth. Gina and Krista said told me they were nervous.

Ava: Gina & Krista had a great thing at the opening, a great back and forth but they both agreed to pull that and it will go into their round-robin Friday. They have my notes and C.I.'s notes and they've got permission to pull any other comments that were made but didn't make it up in the entry. Ruth actually only pulled one sentence. But she'd said beforehand that she was really wanting to listen so I wasn't surprised that much. When she spoke, this is Ruth's way, it was worth hearing. But as I'm remembering it, she only pulled one sentence.

And for all the Rebecca lovers like me, we got to hear from Rebecca.

Ava: Rebecca probably pulled the most of anyone. Her feelings were that even though her name would be next to the statements, it would be the usual attack C.I. and no one else. So she pulled a number of comments and said she'll probably address those topics when she gets back from vacation. But C.I. asked her to participate in some way and she said, "I'll be there for the full thing" and she was. She stayed on the phone while we were going over quotes and making sure that everyone could live with what they'd said or felt that they were important to the discussion. C.I. wanted Betty and Ruth off first because both had early, early mornings. Both ended up staying on the line though. But Rebecca kept saying to go over her's last.

I was really glad Gina and Krista and Ruth were brought in.

Ava: Dona was the one who said to make it a roundtable. C.I. had all these e-mails from members and knew it had to be addressed. Dona said roundtable and for a moment it was going to be a Third Estate Sunday Review type roundtable but Dona felt it would be more effective this way. At which point, C.I. wanted some voices to take part that might not take part on those roundtables. Three members were invited but had to decline. Two because they didn't feel they'd have anything to add and Keesha who really wanted to be a part of it but couldn't work it out for time reasons. I think we had a very strong mix and I think the point was to get Krista get out there and talking because the round-robin is private because she's hestitant since the earlier episode. You spoke to her, how is she today?

She's great. C.I. had spoken to her and Gina had spoken to her and she's not beating herself up for not catching that thing. She's taking C.I.'s attitude of "I could be wrong and often am." And feeling like you have to put it out there or do nothing. So I think it was really productive for her. I thought everyone came off well and Kat and Elaine included. But I was sort of surprised that C.I. really was like the moderator.

Ava: Well a great deal was taken out by C.I. You know, because you've talked about this, that at our roundtables, C.I.'s talking about topics that wouldn't make The Common Ills or going into more depth but at The Common Ills there's this sort of "voice of authority" that could come out and C.I. tries to avoid doing anything that could be read as "end of story." So a lot of things were pulled, by C.I., and many of them were to the point and a lot of them were funny.

I think it was very effective. I noticed that there wasn't a Daily Howler excerpted today.

Ava: My understanding on that, me speaking for me, is that C.I. wasn't in the mood for it. I think C.I. ended up getting two hours of sleep. This all came about because the members wanted it addressed. C.I.'s going through the day "dead tired" to use a popular expression and my understanding was that the last thing C.I. even wanted to do was look at The Daily Howler.
If a member sent it in, it would have gone up. But C.I. wasn't going to seek it out. It's an issue of time and too much time was wasted on Tuesday, even before the roundtable, on The Daily Howler.

Understood. So what did Jim think about being mentioned so much in the roundtable?

Ava: You know Jim, he loved it.

I like it when you or Jim or Jess talk about that sort of thing, the whole beginnings. Because all of you guys at The Third Estate Sunday Review work like this tight group, including C.I., and it's easy to just assume that's how it always was.

Ava: Well you know how it is, you spend time with people, you get to know them. Everyone knew everyone except for me and C.I. I include C.I. and that's me speaking for me. But everyone else had this whole history, even if it was a brief one. I knew Dona. But yeah, it was confusing and there's no need to act otherwise. I mean the whole DIY movement is about making connections and interacting and it would be dishonest for us to present ourselves as this group of people that just came together and instantly knew each other and what each other liked and thought. We're all friends now and we're a very tight group, no question. But that could be any group of people with a common purpose that worked together and that's Jim's point in terms of talking about this topic and mine as well.

Thank you for talking about this. You're my first interview I did myself.

Ava: Well I'm sure I was boring but anytime. And thank you for catching that Kat's final thoughts didn't make it up. If anyone read the roundtable last night, Kat did have final thoughts but C.I. and I were rushing to get that together, up and done.