First off, be sure to read Betty's "" about Olympia Dukakis. How sad that the actress has passed away. She provided a great deal of joy. Now, David Walsh (WSWS) continues to cover the censorship -- extreme censorship -- of Blake Bailey's book on Philip Roth:
On May 1, the New York Times carried an article by critic and biographer Ruth Franklin headlined “What We Lose When Only Men Write About Men” (in the print edition, “Literary Biography’s Man Problem”).
The article was provoked by the recent controversy surrounding the decision by publisher W.W. Norton, in response to unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct, to remove Blake Bailey’s biography of novelist Philip Roth from print, essentially to “pulp” the book.
Far from protesting this egregious act of censorship, Franklin clearly solidarizes herself with it. She gives new and intensely vivid meaning to the phrase “to kick someone while he or she is down.” Moreover, appallingly, the Times editors have cynically provided Franklin the opportunity to revenge herself on Bailey, who wrote in 2016 a somewhat critical review in the Wall Street Journal of her biography of American writer Shirley Jackson (Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life). Bailey, as we will discuss below, took the job seriously.
The Times's action is staggeringly unethical. The editors have assigned Franklin to write a lengthy opinion piece about an individual who once raised issues about her work. She is not a disinterested party; she has no moral or intellectual right to be commenting on Bailey’s situation.
However, this is the underhanded, duplicitous manner in which the Times functions. One of the factors no doubt motivating Norton’s precipitous action was the implied threat that if the publisher did not fall into line with the destruction of Bailey, the newspaper would take it out on the firm’s authors and books. In other words, “Cross us, and you will pay a price.” Norton got the message.
Franklin, a former editor at the New Republic, comes out with a number of extraordinary statements in her column. She writes, for example: “There has been no investigation as yet into the allegations against Mr. Bailey. But if they prove to be true, they give readers reason to doubt Mr. Bailey’s ability to objectively evaluate materials relating to the women in Mr. Roth’s life.” This is an admission, to begin with, that Bailey’s book has been “disappeared” and its author turned into a “non-person” prior to any investigation of the facts, before anyone could determine if there were anything at all to the claims. Franklin is not perturbed by this in the least. Again, this is business as usual in #MeToo America.
And what does “if they prove true” actually mean? There is almost nothing to investigate. The unfortunate Bailey has been brought down by a series of scurrilous rumors and allegations, generated, as the Times has previously half-admitted, by the resentment of his accusers over the success of his Roth biography and its failure to be sufficiently “tough” on its subject’s supposed “misogyny.”
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The Biden's rationalization for continuing to keep US troops in Iraq gets called out and we look at sexism in terms of the presidential aspirations of female candidates.
Starting in the US and starting with Senator Elizabeth Warren. PERSIST is the name of her memoir that came out Tuesday. In it, she documents her run for the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination (among other things). If you've heard of the book, that's most likely due to the book being slammed. On the left and 'left,' the book is being slammed.
Because it reads like someones (plural) other than Elizabeth Warren wrote the book? No, to make that critique you'd have to read it, you'd have to note tone and voice and you'd have to pay attention while reading it. (Elizabeth Warren did not write the book for any wondering. She had a team of ghost writers -- as did Michelle Obama, as did Bill and Hillary Clinton for their books, as did . . . )
I'm not impressed with the book. I made a phone call 24 pages into the read to a friend at the publishing house (MACMILLAN) to ask how many writers worked on this because I'd already detected three distinct voices including two of which came off in conflict with one another. I was told that at least 5 writers worked seriously on it (with two more coming in for a polish) and that it was largely a cut and paste effort. It reads like it.
But, again, that's not what it's being criticized for -- in part because most people can't be honest and in part because, in the US, we have wonderful skills in rote memory but very little to offer in terms of analytical ability.
What they're criticizing is that Warren's book notes the sexism aimed at her campaign.
I would not say -- and I've read the book -- that Warren and her gang of five put together make the point that sexism killed her campaign. But, goodness, didn't the usual mockers come out to play? The usual sexist ones.
I'm real sorry, Bernie supporters, but, yes, sexism was aimed at Elizabeth and it did impact her campaign. I believe we are the only ones who called out Norman Solomon -- among others -- when they insisted Elizabeth, and only Elizabeth, should drop out of the race. That's sexism. In 2020, telling a woman to step aside so that a man can get the job she's going for is sexism.
If Bernie couldn't win it without Liz dropping out, he shouldn't have been running.
But Bernie's a professional liar which is why he accomplished nothing in Congress -- not in the House and not in the Senate. I heard from all the little whiners in 2016 and again in 2020 that it was people like me who hurt Bernie's chances. People like me? People who told the damn truth. Bernie did nothing but yack. That's all he ever did or has done in Congress. And that truth needs to be told and there's no point in blaming me for much of that critique being used by Hillary in 2016 when she and Bernie both were attempting to run the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
First of all, we need to tell the truth and that includes the realities about politician's records. Bernie was a lawmaker -- still is. What laws did he get passed? No, I'm not talking about what post office did he get name, I'm talking about what did he actually get through Congress because Congress is the legislative branch, they exist to make laws. So how did Bernie do on that count?
He did a lousy job.
That's the truth, grow up, grow up, grow up.
As Ava and I like to say, "We don't fall in love with politicians. We're not that pathetic."
So that's the first issue. The second issue is that I've had conversations about Bernie's record -- the reality of it -- before he got in the Senate and after. And I've had those conversations with, among others, Bill Clinton. Bill added his two cents, I added mine. It was a give and take and we weren't on different sides. We were looking at it in terms of what he said he wanted to do and grading on whether he succeeded. (He didn't succeed.) My point in noting that? Hillary didn't need anything that went up here to come to a conclusion about Bernie Sanders. If Bill and I were talking about him repeatedly -- especially when he was trying to move from the House to the Senate -- you better believe Hillary and Bill were talking about him -- and much more in depth and much more in length.
There were over 30 candidates in the Democratic Party's race for the presidential nomination.
The Norman Solomon's insisted that Elizabeth should drop out -- and only Elizabeth -- and set her sites on something like Vice President instead.
That was sexism. That they thought they could say that about and to a woman was sexism. And Norman has a long, long history of being a sexist.
I wasn't for Elizabeth Warren. But I was constantly having to defend her from one sexist bit of nonsense after another. I wasn't for Bernie Sanders either. I did appreciate the way he could rally voters -- young and old -- but I knew how this was going to end, Bernie exposing his collapsible spind yet again.
There wasn't a lot to applaud in that primary. To this day, liars or idiots -- or both -- continue to pretend that Tulsi Gabbard stood for something. No, she didn't. She whored. She went all over the place -- including Joe Rogan's podcast (I'm not knocking her for going on that program, I don't watch it but I do like Joe and first met him back when he was doing NEWS RADIO.) People believed in the crap she was spewing. She was against the forever wars and going to end them. But she didn't bring that to the debates she qualified for, did she? No. She gave Joe Biden a pass in the only debate the two shared the stage. (There were so many nominees that the early debates would be two debates over two nights with X number of candidates on one night and the rest on the other.) Now she made time, in that same debate, to launch her pre-planned attack on Kamala Harris. She pre-planned it, she rehearsed it and still she didn't quite pull it off. Her fan base (largely men) lied for her there or else it was that episode of THE PARTIDGE FAMILY all over again (where Keith is so entranced with a woman's beauty that he can't register that she actually has no singing voice) and they were too blinded by love to grasp how poorly she performed. They rushed to tell you that Tulsi destroyed her. Tulsi didn't destroy her. Sorry, Micfhael Traceys of the world who we called out in real time, Kamala was not destroyed. And we were backed up on that assertion months later when Joe Biden selected Kamala as his running mate and when she went on to become Vice President of the United States.
Tulsi didn't destroy Kamala. She did destroy her own campaign that night -- although many outlets refused to cover that reality -- sadly, that does include BLACK AGENDA REPORT which appalling published a piece after that debate insisting that Tulsi had been the anti-war candidate on the stage.
No, she wasn't. She was anti-war on Joe Rogan's show and on this podcast and that podcast but that's all she was -- a performance artist.
On the stage with Joe, she was given the chance to call him out for his bad vote in favor the Iraq War, for his refusal to allow anti-war voices to appear at the hearings he chaired ahead of the Iraq War, for his support of the Iraq War after it started, for his spending more time offering plan to split Iraq into three individual areas (making it more of a confederation and not a nation -- a fact Joe will argue but Joe and I have argued this face-to-face for years and I stand by my call), for killing any shot of democracy in Iraq by refusing to honor the election results in 2010 and instead brokering a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) that set those votes by the Iraqi people aside so that thug Nouri al-Maliki could get a second term as prime minister. Tulsi couldn't call out of any of that. I was shocked. I knew she was a fake ass but I thought she'd at least make an effort. She didn't. Not even when, about ten minutes later, a clearly still stunned Jake Tapper went back to Tulsi to try to give her another opportunity to hold Joe accountable and Tulsi again took a pass.
If it wasn't sexism that motivated Norman Solomon to call for Elizabeth to drop out of the race, then why did he and his cohorts (who plan similar columns to all go up at the same time while pretending that they are working individually and not trying to manufacture consent)? It was sexism plain and simple.
It goes clearly to what we expect of women. We expect them to be the 'feeling' candidate who will set aside their dreams so that someone else can have the nomination.
It's what we think of women and it's how little we value them.
Sadly, sometimes that attitude comes from women. Even sadder, it often comes from women claiming to be feminist. I've praised Naomi Wolf's FIRE WITH FIRE before and will again. It's a messy, passionate book, filled with strong observations and analysis. That includes her weighing in on 1992's Democratic primary in the state of New York for the US senate nomination.
It was a five person race. Former US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman, NY AG Robert Abrams, former US House Rep Geraldine Ferraro, Al Sharpton, and Robert J. Mrazek.
Five candidates. Three men. Two women. Only one was urged to drop out: Liz.
I donated to Liz's campaign. I knew her and Gerri but I didn't feel Gerri was that important. She wasn't a Bella Abzug in Congress, for example. Liz didn't get everything she believe in addressed while in Congress but she did try. For example, after her election she was among the few to continue to speak of the need to find a way back for US service members who had self-checked out and moved to Canada instead of going to (or going back to) Vietnam. She was very close to a group of Latina women that I was also close to (women demanding that Jimmy Carter keep his promises -- promises that he did not keep) and she tried to advance their issues.
Gerri? Ferraro was a rich cat who didn't upset the apple cart and never made much of a difference in Congress. (She will go down in history for having been the first woman on the presidential ticket of a major political party in the US.)
Because Gerri almost became vice president in 1984, Liz was supposed to step aside. It was owed to Geri. Do it for, Geri, do it for the sisterhood.
What a load of crap.
Ferraro didn't win and Holtzman didn't win and Sharpton didn't win and Mrazek didn't win. The winner was Robert Abrams (who lost to the Republican candidate who was the incumbent Al D'Amato -- a person who served in the US Senate from 1981 to 1999 -- and no one really thought he was going to be kicked out of office in 1992 -- Abrams came close to pulling it off, though and deserves credit for that).
In that instance, it was women trying to pummel another woman with their feet.
If you supported Gerri or Bernie or whomever, it's your job to drum up support for them. But how very James Carville of you to instead try to bully and shame someone else.
Elizabeth Warren faced sexism in the 2020 campaign. It's not the worst that a female candidate for president has faced. If you leave the duopoly, you can find many women on the Green Party ticket who've faced sexism. Some will lie -- or maybe they're just plain stupid -- that Hillary faced the worst sexism ever when she ran in 2016.
No, she did not.
Hillary did face the worst sexism ever . . . in 2008. Crowds went wild when Barack would mock her or insult her and then give the middle finger to her. And the press would watch the same event and never, ever write about it. It's on YOUTUBE, you can find it if you willed yourself into stupidity in real time.
If someone wants to say Sarah Palin faced worse sexism in 2008, I'm not going to get into a big argument over that. She did face sexism and I love how the Bob Somerby -- whores and sexist pigs -- go out of their way about Truthers or Birthers or what ever term they're using to portray their opposition as liars and conspiracy nuts.
Andrew Sullivan, among others, used his space in the US media to write that Trig Palin was not Sarah Palin's child. He had no proof -- not then and not now. But the Bob Somerbys wanted to act -- then and now -- like it never happened. Suggest Barack Obama was from Kenya -- which, in fact, the AP story for his book stated as fact when he was running for the US Senate -- and their source was someone from the publishing house who either didn't care about lying or were more concerned with making Barack 'exotic' to sell more books. It was even in the original press release that the publishing company put out. But let's all pretend like that never happened and it was just a bunch of mean spirited crazies that came up with the nonsense. (I'm not saying Barack was born in Kenya. I am saying that during his run for the US senate, AP published that story. And as we said in 2008 when Google opened their past archives, you could -- and many did -- easily find that article.)
When will Andrew be held accountable for that?
Not so far. Not in 2008 when he should have been sued. And, for the record, Sarah wanted to but McCain and his team insisted that she not sue. Insance McCain was too far up the ass of the press to do the right thing. He wasn't going to allow Sarah to go after the body that had created the myth of McCain.
Sarah would have prevailed in court. That's not open to debate. She is a public person, no question about it. As such, she was not beyond commentary and criticism. But Andrew had a lot not going for him. This included that he could not pretend to be a disinterested party -- he clearly loathed Sarah and was attempting to take her out of the race repeatedly. The negatives for him also included the fact that this wasn't about Sarah. He was nutty and stating that it was her teenage daughter's baby that Sarah was passing off as her own. He was smearing Bristol and he was smearing Trig. Is Trig a public person. He was a small child and he was a special needs child. For these two reasons alone, Andrew would not have prevailed in court. Furthermore, a lawsuit would have forced the country to face what was going on and just how corrupt the institution of the press truly was. That included the sexism involved by rendering Cynthia McKinney invisible.
WOMEN'S MEDIA CENTER made itself a tired and ugly joke. And no one really pays attention to it anymore. By 2008, it was obvious that it wasn't about women but instead about serving the Democratic Party. Privately, I was noting to various WMC staff that their refusal to cover Cynthia's run -- she was the Green Party's presidential candidate -- which also included Rosa Clemente as her running mate -- was exposing that WMC was not an outlet for and about women.
Weeks of making that argument face-to-face and over the phone produced nothing. So I took the argument here and that resulted in a number of e-mails complaining to WMC and within a week they finally did a (small) piece that noted Cynthia.
Some know-it-alls insisted in 2008, as they did in 2016, that Hillary's defeat(s) would harm women's chances. No, it wasn't going to. They're idiots who know nothing about political science.
Anita Hill suffered in 1992 and that didn't hurt women in the long run. It galvanized instead and led to many things including the 1992 gender quake. The suffering that Hillary, Cynthia, Rosa and Sarah went through in 2008 made it much easier for Hillary in 2016 and for Elizabeth in 2020. That's why people are liars when they say that Force The Vote on Medicare shouldn't have taken place because it would hurt the movement. No, losing doesn't hurt a movement, it rallies one.
Elizabeth clearly suffered from sexism in the 2020 race. I'd argue that Kristen Gillibrand suffered more from sexism -- including ingrained sexism on what a female candidate has to look like or speak like. I'd argue that all the women running suffered from sexism including Marianne Williamson who was a hugely successful business woman and yet she got none of the credit for that compared to what Michael Bloomberg did.
The people mocking Elizabeth right now look at out of it as Howard Dean did in June of 2008 when he said he couldn't see any real examples of sexism that Hillary had faced.
Let's wind down with Bonnie Kristian (THE HILL) on Joe Biden and Iraq:
"We’re going to stay in Iraq,” Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie told Military Times for a report published in April, supplying four rationales for that choice: the Islamic State, Iran, Baghdad and Afghanistan. Each excuse was as wrongheaded as the last, and none justify prolonging the heir-apparent to the notorious title of America’s longest war.
“We’re going to be there, our NATO partners are going to be there,” McKenzie first said, “to finish the ISIS fight.” What exactly does that mean? The mission to reclaim territory from ISIS in Iraq has been completed for nearly four years. It is also complete in Syria, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. raid in 2019. The Islamic State’s “ability to reemerge is extremely low right now,” Lt. Gen. Paul Calvert, who leads the U.S.-led coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, told Defense One in March.
Though Calvert also noted that could change, the same can be said of any of the many extremist militant groups in the Middle East that are enemies of the United States but pose only a limited threat — certainly not a threat that justifies ongoing occupation of Iraq. The idea that we will “finish the ISIS fight” in the sense McKenzie seems to envision (eliminating all remnants of the group by military means) is wildly unrealistic. It is also unnecessary for U.S. security, which is to say, endlessly pursuing ISIS stragglers is no reason to stay in Iraq.
McKenzie’s next reason was Iran. If Tehran wants us to leave Iraq, he implied, that is itself a reason to remain, “I think Iran still pursues a policy of attempting to eject the United States ― and indeed, our partners and allies ― from the region as well.” It’s true that Iran wants the United States out of Iraq. It’s true that Washington has an antagonistic relationship with Tehran. That does not preclude the equal truth that staying in Iraq to spite Iran is an act of self-sabotage. It undermines our diplomatic goals, makes U.S.-Iran war more likely, puts U.S. forces in needless risk, and will never succeed in excising Iranian influence from its eastern neighbor.
When he turned to the subject of Baghdad, McKenzie moved from spite to outright falsehood. “I think it’s very important to realize that the government of Iraq wants us to stay,” he said. “They want us to stay. They need us to continue the fight against ISIS.” This is simply not true. In March, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi indicated he hopes the latest round of U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogues will end American military intervention in his country. In previous dialogues, “[w]e achieved in a very short period what weapons failed to achieve,” he said. “In a matter of months, we succeeded in reducing the size of U.S. combat forces in Iraq by 60 percent,” and this time, “we can discuss the redeployment of [U.S.] forces outside of Iraq” altogether. The Iraqi parliament likewise attempted to expel all U.S. troops last year. The government of Iraq does not “want us to stay.” They want us to leave.
The following sites updated: