Taking a week off. Back Monday the 31st.
I think Jonathan Freedland's right about this - there's a deep strain of American misogyny which is becoming more and more obvious as this campaign proceeds:
Fate conspired to pit perhaps the most misogynistic nominee in US history against the first female nominee. (Perhaps that’s no coincidence.) Even without Trump’s disgusting boorishness, the mere presence of Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot may well have unleashed a torrent of misogyny. Witness the merchandise I saw on sale outside the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer. Among the slogans were: KFC Hillary Special: 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts … left wing. Also: Hillary Sucks, But Not Like Monica. And the hardy perennial: Life’s a Bitch, Don’t Vote for One.
The intensity of this hatred can’t be explained solely by the controversies over Clinton’s emails, her hawkishness or links to Wall Street. More Americans have a “strongly unfavourable” view of Clinton than of any Democratic nominee since pollsters started asking the question. Some will say that’s because she’s a lacklustre campaigner. But compare her with, say, John Kerry, who was hardly electrifying on the stump in 2004. Among white men, 52% hold a “very unfavourable” view of her, compared with the 24% who took a similarly dim view of Kerry. It takes a wilful blindness to think this has nothing to do with the fact that Clinton is a woman.
In a fascinating essay for this month’s Atlantic, Peter Beinart surveyed the academic research that found men (and plenty of women) unnerved by women in traditionally male roles, especially overtly ambitious women, judging them more harshly than they would men. Roles don’t get much more traditionally male than the US presidency. What’s more, Beinart cites polling that shows Clinton has been at her most popular when “conforming to traditional gender roles (working on women’s issues as first lady, sticking by her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, loyally serving Barack Obama as secretary of state), and least popular when violating them (heading the healthcare task force, serving in the Senate, running for president).”
The most obvious manifestation of this sexist hostility to Hillary is in the hatred spat out by Trump and his most devoted followers. But might some of that same sexism lurk in the now cliched insistence that she’s a terrible candidate, that Trump v Clinton is like choosing between cholera and gonorrhea, as Julian Assange memorably put it, that progressives can only vote for her while holding their nose?
Michelle Obama was right: no candidate in the modern era has ever been more qualified. Clinton won all three debates by outwitting Trump, luring him into one trap after another. She is serious, sober, prepared and with a detailed grasp of policy. And, despite Trump’s taunts to the contrary, she has demonstrated extraordinary stamina. Yet somehow, for some, she’s still not quite good enough.
The optimistic view is that the best remedy for this strain of sexism is simply for America to see a woman in the White House and get used to it. But the depressing evidence of the last eight years is that racial resentment actually rose rather than fell while Obama was in the Oval Office. It suggests that neither electing Clinton nor defeating Trump will be enough to defeat the demons unleashed by this campaign. That work won’t end on 8 November. It will just be the beginning.
Check this out: How the electoral map would look if only ------ voted. There's a major difference between men and women.
The Ink Spots signature tune, from an early Fifties video:
With lead singer Jimmy Holmes.
And here's another one, with Bill Kenny on lead vocal - or, rather, miming to lead vocal.
Take your pick.
There were so many different Ink Spots and Ink Spots offshoots that it's very hard to keep track.
Since the Ink Spots disbanded in 1954, there have been well over 100 vocal groups calling themselves "The Ink Spots" without any right to the name, and without any original members of the group. These groups often have claimed to be "2nd generation" or "3rd generation" Ink Spots.
As far as I can tell, Bill Kenny (the second video) was more of an echt Ink Spot. Jimmy Holmes, you have to admit though, had a lovely tenor voice, even if he wasn't the genuine article.
On January 12, 1939, the Ink Spots entered Decca studios to record a ballad written by a young songwriter named Jack Lawrence. This ballad, "If I Didn't Care", was to be one of their biggest hits, selling over 19 million copies and becoming the 7th-best-selling single of all time. It was also the first recording by the group to reach the US Pop Charts. Despite its popularity, "If I Didn't Care" never reached #1 on the US Pop Charts, staying at #2 for several weeks. This is the first studio recorded example of the Ink Spots "Top & Bottom" format with Bill Kenny singing lead and Hoppy Jones performing the "talking bass". For this recording, each member was paid $37.50; however, after the record sold 200,000 Decca destroyed the original contract and the group was paid an additional $3,750. This was the recording that brought the group to global fame and also the recording that would establish the "Top & Bottom" format as the Ink Spots "trademark". From 1939 until the group's disbanding in 1954, many of their songs would employ this format....
Disputes over the rights to use the Ink Spots name began in the late 1940s, resulting in many court cases. Starting in 1954, groups calling themselves "The Ink Spots" sprang up all around the United States. Some groups contained original members Charlie Fuqua, Adriel McDonald, Billy Bowen or Deek Watson, but most had no ties to the original group whatsoever. Many groups claimed to have the rights to the name, but no one did. Still, lawsuits were filed between various groups and there was great confusion as to who owned the naming rights. Some groups avoided lawsuits by naming themselves "The Fabulous Ink Spots", "The Famous Ink Spots", "The Amazing Ink Spots", "The Sensational Ink Spots", "The Dynamic Ink Spots" and more.
If you want to embark on some Ink Spots study, this is probably the place to start. [White text on a black background is always, I've found, a sure sign of serious scholarship.]
Adam Kirsch has an interesting review, in Tablet, of two new books on the 1956 Suez crisis.
Suez, it's generally agreed now, was a disastrous blunder by the British and French - and, by implication, their Israeli allies. Eisenhower stepped in, standing up for Nasser and quashing the plans of the old colonialists to retake control of the Suez Canal by force, thereby making it clear that a new era had dawned: the old European powers were now finally and definitively superseded by the US on the world stage, and the new "third world" had arrived on the scene - and their voice would be heard.
While one of the books takes this conventional line, the other - Ike's Gamble, by Mike Doran - suggests that Eisenhower blundered:
If Eisenhower took a gamble for peace in 1956, Doran believes that it was ultimately a losing one. Ike may have thought he was affirming the power of the United Nations and the independence of the postcolonial world. But, in fact, by empowering Nasser, he ended up damaging both the Middle East and American interests.
The root of Eisenhower’s mistake, Doran argues, was to see the Arab world as a monolithic entity, with Nasser at its helm. In order to appear as an “honest broker” in the Middle East, Eisenhower distanced the U.S. from its traditional allies in order to accommodate Nasser, which he believed would win America the affection of the Arabs at large. What this failed to account for, Doran believes, is that the Arab world was itself riven by national enmities, power struggles, and ideological disagreements. As it turned out, boosting Egypt meant that, less than two years after Suez, the governments of Iraq and Syria were overthrown by Nasserist, pan-Arab movements. (Syria was briefly merged with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic.) Egypt’s rise meant trouble for Saudi Arabia, which since the days of FDR had been America’s most important Arab ally (and oil supplier). And it spelled disaster for Israel, which was forced to fight much more serious wars against Egypt in 1967 and 1973. Neither the U.S. nor the region reaped any benefits from the Nasserist order that Eisenhower helped to sponsor.
Doran spends some time at the end of the book arguing that Eisenhower himself came to regret his position over Suez. He speaks of a notional “Ike of 1958,” whose views had become more realistic about American interests than the Ike of 1956. This idea rests on fairly slim evidence, however, and Doran seems to invest it with more importance than it requires. Really, it is Doran, not Eisenhower himself, who is making the argument that Ike’s gamble was a losing one.
In doing so, he is also making an implicit but unmistakable argument about America’s Middle East policy today. Any reader of Ike’s Gamble who is even a little familiar with the current situation will be able to draw the lines connecting Ike with Obama, and Egypt with Iran. Once again, Doran implies, an American president has fallen prey to the delusion that favoring one particular Muslim state is the same thing as being honest broker with the Muslim world. And once again, this approach has succeeded only in emboldening America’s enemies and endangering its friends, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel. This makes Ike’s Gamble a timely intervention into current debates. Obama won’t read it, but Hillary Clinton should.
From the Amazon review:
In Ike s Gamble, Michael Doran shows how Nasser played the US, invoking America s opposition to European colonialism to drive a wedge between Eisenhower and two British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden. Meanwhile, in his quest to make himself the strongman of the Arab world, Nasser was making weapons deals with the USSR and destabilizing other Arab countries that the US had been courting. The Suez Crisis was his crowning triumph. In time, Eisenhower would conclude that Nasser had duped him, that the Arab countries were too fractious to anchor America s interests in the Middle East, and that the US should turn instead to Israel.
"Every day their pitch-black, evil and oppressive nature becomes more evident." Who could this man possibly be referring to?
Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad, speaking on the Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV on September 15:
"They are the ones who spread corruption throughout the land. It is our destiny to chop off the hand of the occupation. These occupiers who came to our country are like a cancer. They spread evil and malignant fingers in all countries. If Allah so wills it, we shall fight them upon our land, in the name of the nation. Their hands will be chopped off in the Arab countries. By god, the entire world knows no peace from the filth of these people, who live only on blood - from the filth of those who live only for the sight of body parts, who live only to incite rebellion and to sow strife, who live only to sell weapons worldwide, and to incite civil strife in different countries - who live only to plunder the resources of the nations and to steal the properties of countries and of people. Their day will come, and indeed it is drawing close, Allah willing."
Now, about this two-state solution....
A coalition of Iraq government forces, Christian militiamen, and Kurdish soldiers in home-made post-apocalyptic battle tanks are now on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and with air support from the US and Britain, they are poised to retake it from ISIS.
Mosul is the last Iraqi city still under ISIS control. Washington and Baghdad saved it for last because, with a normal population of more than two million people, it will likely prove the most difficult battle.
The number of ISIS fighters inside the city is estimated at less than 10,000, but they’ll be fighting guerrilla-style with booby traps, car bombs, IEDs and suicide bombers. ISIS has also dug in deep underground with a vast network of Vietcong- and Hezbollah-style tunnel networks. Rooting them out of there is going to be a nightmare....
ISIS is doomed. Fewer than 10,000 terrorists are currently facing off against almost 100,000 Kurdish and Iraqi fighters. They aren’t fighting “imperialists” this time, but indigenous Muslims and Christians, many of whom, especially on the Kurdish side, would be willing to fight with kitchen knives if they had to.
A Kurdish general says he expects the fighting to last roughly two months, which seems about right since taking back smaller Iraqi cities took a couple of weeks. However long it takes, ISIS is going to lose Mosul, just like it lost Tikrit and Fallujah.
“They will come back with a new name and they'll be more extreme and more barbaric,” Kurdish Lieutenant-Colonel Fariq Hama Faraj told the Military Times. “If you look to the history of these organizations we see that each one is more extreme than the last.”
That has been true so far, but it’s hard to imagine a nastier terrorist army than ISIS. The only thing limiting ISIS’ barbarism is its dearth of technology. Does anyone doubt for a moment that it would nuclear weapons if it had them? If it had a superpower’s arsenal, mushroom clouds would have already risen over Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Tel Aviv, Brussels, Paris and Washington.
Even if ISIS were forced out of every last stronghold in both Syria and Iraq, it would still exist in some form, for sure, but the whole point of denying it territory, especially urban territory, is so it can’t amass military strength like a conventional state.
A lot of ISIS fighters are going to die, but they are part of a global organization and the survivors will fly away and land somewhere else like exploding mold spores. Some will hunker down elsewhere in Iraq. Some may head to Libya, others to Egypt’s increasingly anarchic Sinai peninsula.
Most will probably crawl back to Syria where they came from. ISIS is still going gangbusters there, especially in and around its “capital” in Raqqa. Contrary to popular belief—and propaganda out of the Kremlin—, neither the Assad regime nor Vladimir Putin’s Russia are fighting ISIS. Their only concern is keeping the Arab Socialist Baath Party propped up in its rump state in Damascus and along the Mediterranean. ISIS still has a free hand to do whatever it wants out in the desert.
A drama "Blood Vessel" was performed at the National Theatre on Monday, the 90th anniversary of the Down-with-Imperialism Union formed by President Kim Il Sung.
Among the audience were Kim Yong Nam and other senior party, state and army officials, the chairperson of a friendly party, officials of party and armed forces organ, Cabinet, working people's organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the Korean People's Army and the Korean People's Internal Security Forces, those of industrial establishments in Pyongyang and persons of merits.
The drama truthfully represented the indomitable mental power displayed by the workers of the Sangwon Cement Complex in the drive for implementing the task of increased cement production set forth by the Workers' Party of Korea.
Can it get better? It can. The 90th anniversary of the Down-with-Imperialism Union was also commemorated with dance:
There took place in different parts of the country on Monday dancing parties of youths and students in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) by President Kim Il Sung.
The dancing parties began at the plazas of the Arch of Triumph, the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, etc, when song "Our People are Masters of Revolution" was played.
The participants presented beautiful dances with profound reverence for President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il who provided the bloodline of Juche, the eternal cornerstone of the Workers' Party of Korea, and added eternal luster to it.
Deep thanks and respect for Marshal Kim Jong Un could be read on the faces of the youngsters dancing to the tune of songs "Joy of the People", "the People's Country", etc. as he is steering to victory the revolutionary cause of Juche started under the banner of the DIU.
Festive atmosphere picked up when cheerful folk songs were played.
And, of course, the revolutionary songs:
Stages of singing revolutionary songs of youths and students for marking the 90th anniversary of the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) formed by President Kim Il Sung took place across the country on Monday.
The stage of Pyongyang City "We Will Go to Mt. Paektu" was held at the plaza of the Monument to Party Founding.
Put on the stage which began with chorus "We Will Go to Mt. Paektu" were such numbers as immortal masterpiece chorus "Nostalgia", female solo and chorus "Song of the Sea of Blood".
The performers highly praised the nine decade-long history of the Korean revolution since the formation of the DIU as proud annals in which the tradition and cause of the DIU have been preserved and comprehensively embodied generation after generation.
Such numbers as chorus "Song of Youth" vividly represented the faith and will of the young vanguard to carry forward and accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche that originated from the DIU...
A couple of weeks back I posted a story on a group of teachers and students who supposedly drowned while attempting to save portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in the August floods. In the Daily NK such stories are presented as evidence of the absurdities of the Kim cult, and the pressures ordinary people are under to be seen as loyal. Inside North Korea, though, the motives for publicising such stories are obviously different.
In the Daily NK today there's an interview with a reporter about the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. The whole thing's worth reading, but here he's discussing a recent report there about someone who died trying to save portraits of the Kim family. I've no idea if it's the same case.
This type of story is appearing in the Rodong Sinmun quite frequently. The purpose, obviously, is to curry favor with Kim Jong Un. It isn’t really clear if the victim of the flooding mentioned in the article actually tried to save his Kim portraits, but it does appear that he died in the disaster. Of course, most people prioritize self-preservation over protecting Kim portraits in a life or death situation, but this kind of exaggeration is exactly what you can expect from the Rodong Sinmun.
I have a personal story that relates to this. I was in North Hwanghae Province, mobilized to a construction site as part of the Sariwon Shock Troopers. Most of the troops went home during the Chuseok break. But some of the soldiers remained to serve guard duty. The soldiers made a small fire so they could drink alcohol and relax outside, but the fire grew out of control and burned a nearby barracks down. The Brigade cadre was ultimately responsible for the group, according to the Party. So he made up a story about how one of the soldiers died in the fire while hugging a portrait and trying to protect it from the flames. Because of this story, the cadre got off with nothing but a slap on the wrist. The story was published in the Rodong Sinmun and other publications. Far from being punished, the cadre was actually praised! There is no end to this genre of story, in which the North Korean authorities leap at the opportunity for propaganda that glorifies the Kim family.
On the bright side, the reporter doesn't think such propaganda is as effective now:
By repeating these lies with such frequency, there are always some people who end up believing elements of the propaganda, but at this point many have realized the truth. A significant proportion of the population has become averse to even hearing propaganda. And some become envious of the dead victims, because their families are bestowed with honors. It is truly a sorry state of affairs when people are envying the dead.
Still in Ohio, but a decade earlier. "View of Terminal Tower at night, with eagle on right."
Built during the skyscraper boom of the 1920s and 1930s, it was the second-tallest building in the world when it was completed. The Terminal Tower stood as the tallest building in North America outside of New York City from its completion in 1930 until 1964.
No idea about the eagle.
Roger Cohen in the NYT:
The hard left meeting the hard right is an old political story, as Hitler understood in calling his party the National Socialists. So in these days of turbulence it’s no surprise that the leftist supporters of Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn should find common cause with the rightist backers of Donald Trump.
They like Vladimir Putin’s Russia even as he flattens Aleppo; they are anti-globalism; they are anti-establishment; they oppose or are skeptical of NATO, the cornerstone of the Western alliance; and they see a conspiracy of what Trump has called “global financial powers” behind everything.
Then there’s the fact that nearly half of female Labour MPs have accused Corbyn of failing to stop “disgusting and totally unacceptable” abuse of women by his supporters.
One difference exists, however. The movement of “Corbynistas” — an alliance of young leftist dreamers and old guard Leninists who have demolished Tony Blair’s centrist “New Labour” as comprehensively as Trump has hijacked the Republican Party — embraces an ideology. It’s anti-American and anti-Western and broadly anti-capitalist, much in the mode of Cold War Soviet sympathizers.
Trumpism, by contrast, is an anger-driven, conspiracy-fueled, scapegoat-manipulating, ideology-free movement dedicated to the elevation by any means of one man, portrayed as a savior, to the most powerful office in the world.
Corbyn is not really interested in power because power involves compromise and he is a self-regarding purist of the worst kind. His Labour Party will never win an election....
Trump is solely interested in power. For Trump, power is policy.
So when Trump succumbs to tropes with a distinctly anti-Semitic undertow about the banks and financiers plotting the “destruction of U.S. sovereignty,” these are words, not a program, chosen for some of the vilest of his supporters. He’s a New Yorker after all. But when Corbyn and his extreme left backers engage in what the British political theorist Alan Johnson has called “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism,” something far more coherent and ideological is at work.
A cross-party parliamentary committee concluded this month that Corbyn has created a “safe space” for “those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people,” and that Labour’s passivity before anti-Semitic incidents risked “lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic.”
Even with British understatement that’s clear enough: Corbyn’s Labour Party has given free rein to anti-Semites....
For more on Corbyn, and his support for the wretched Stop the War Coalition, read David Coates.
Hugo Rifkind in the Times (£) - Corbyn must say sorry for Labour antisemitism:
For a long time Jeremy Corbyn has seemed incapable of uttering the word “antisemitism” without adding “and other forms of racism” immediately afterwards. Like a tic. Like a man who likes bagels, a bit, but is terribly worried that somebody might shriek, “what’s so special about the Jews, you Zionist scum?” if he forgets to mention pitta bread, too.
On Sunday, responding to the home affairs select committee’s report on antisemitism, he tried a new tack. It was wrong, he said, for so much of the report to have focused on the Labour Party, when three quarters of antisemitic incidents came from the far right. And lo, did “antisemitism and other sorts of racism”, become “Labour supporters and other sorts of racists”. Which is progress, I suppose, of a sort.
Although not great progress. “We’re not as nasty as the BNP!” is not a great defence for the leader of Britain’s second party....
Parliament’s report hits its mark with the observation that modern antisemitism is a distinct sort of racism, because hatred of Jews is perceived as aiming up towards the powerful, rather than down towards the weak. What it didn’t say was that aiming up generally means you run the risk of saying quite a lot of things that sound atavistically familiar to Jews, even if they don’t consider themselves to be particularly up at all.
More to the point, you also risk making the people who never liked Jews anyway, all those old trolls and monsters, crawl out from under their rocks, punch the air in triumph and decide that, finally, they’ve got a hero.
That’s when the test comes, and that’s the test that Labour under Corbyn is failing. He will twist, and he will deny, and he will run to mother, and it’s not enough. To solve the problem, first he needs to admit that it’s there. “Woah, there,” he ought to say. “I never meant to tap into that. I’m really sorry that we did.” That’s it. That’s all. How hard would it be?
For Corbyn, I think, very hard. He is, I'm quite sure, a firm believer in the "Livingstone formulation" - the belief, as defined by David Hirsh, that any accusation of antisemitism against the left is simply a move, made in bad faith, to de-legitimise and deflect perfectly valid criticisms of Israel. Antisemitism on the right exists of course - neo-Nazis and so on. We know all about that. But on the left? Never. That, I think, is Corbyn's position - and, seeing that he's leader of the Labour Party, pretty much the position of the party as a whole. Though clearly, thank goodness, the fact that some Labour MPs were involved in the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report shows that there are still those within the party fighting against it.
I don't think Corbyn will ever get it. He may make apologetic noises, but his heart won't be in it. He really doesn't see the problem. And he doesn't have the intelligence or the flexibility of mind to learn anything new, not at this stage in his career. As one commenter puts it, he is "sanctimoniously armoured against self-awareness".
Meanwhile, in Aceh Province, Indonesia - from the Mail:
Heart-wrenching images show a screaming young woman flogged in front of a jeering crowd for breaking Islamic laws as floggings reportedly spike in Indonesian province.
An unidentified woman screamed out in pain as she was caned 23 times in Indonesia's Aceh for breaking the province's strict Islamic law forbidding intimacy between unmarried couples....
She was one of 13 people - aged between 21-30 - to be flogged on Monday at a mosque.
The woman was allegedly caught standing too close to her boyfriend.
The six couples were found guilty of breaking Islamic law that bans intimacy - no touching, hugging and kissing - between unmarried people.
One man was even caned for spending time with a member of the opposite sex in a private location, which could lead to adultery.
One of the offenders, a 22-year-old pregnant woman, was not flogged on Monday but was warned the punishment will be enforced after she has given birth.
Allah is indeed all merciful.
That's some costume.