Beth here. My ombudsperson column runs in the gina & krista round-robin. I do a piece here maybe yearly. I'm doing this one to add to the holiday content and because I focused exclusively on questions and concerns re: Syria in my column for last Friday's gina & krista round-robin.
I go back a long time in the TCI community. Back to when there was just The Common Ills. Today The Common Ills is part of fifteen community sites:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
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),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And I did that, honestly, to avoid having to do a link when I typed up my discussion with C.I. In the discussion, I brought up many issues. When those were specifically suggested by people, I named them. Otherwise, it's just me going after whatever I thought of at that moment. And let me dub this a "rush transcript" to justify any typos.
Beth: Let me start with e-mails. When people send things there can be frustration as noted at other community websites.
C.I.: I'm sorry, Beth, I'm not aware of that. When a community member sends something to be highlighted?
Beth: No. Sorry. At other sites -- and also at The Common Ills -- it's been noted that a number of people want things highlighted and they e-mail -- their own things, these are not community members -- and they e-mail to get stuff highlighted.
C.I.: I can't talk about other sites except for Third Estate Sunday Review since I'm one of six people responsible for that site. For The Common Ills and Third, I will say, we try to note as much as we can. Some people hurt themselves. David DeGraw e-mailed about something last week that looked great, I was ready to note it here. It's a new project. But then I wondered, "Is this public?" Maybe it's not. The general rule is, 'If we didn't ask for it, we're not hunting you down.' That's Third and here. When I saw it and wondered, I said, "Oh, I'll write him and ask." Nope. I never wrote. I'm doing one hand typing due to the finger surgery and this is as close to a month off as I get. I go to various groups and speak all year, I go to Congressional hearings and report on them at The Common Ills. One month each year, I get to be home based -- here in California -- we often stay at my home in the DC area and I only bought that because we're in DC all the time and we were in hotels forever until a friend kept insisting I use his place in Georgetown. Wonderful and thank him for that but I wasn't going to be a guest forever. But the point is, you need to be clear as to what you want highlighted. The Green Party of Michigan? I love their work. They really are trying to build up a third party. They will send a press release. If it's busy when I see it? I don't even read it, I just copy and paste it in or, if it's arrived in time that we can include it in the snapshot, I just say, "Copy and paste it in." Most of the time, I do read it first, just to know what great and important work they're doing. But if time is short, they go in automatic because (a) I trust them tremendously and (b) they prepare their own press release. A lot of people provide info and want me or expect me to plug them here by writing up a press release. I don't generally have the time. If it has to do with Iraq, I will make the time. But very few authors and organizations today have anything to do with Iraq. There's an independent press book coming out later this month. The publisher wants me to review it. First off, it's got nothing to do with Iraq. Secondly, I don't read a book online. That's not me condemning e-books, I would read those online. But I'll read -- and do read -- galleys or advance copies, but I'm not going to read a PDF version online. I'm not interested. I spend too much time with the laptop, with the tablet, etc. I will, however, happily carry any press release for that independent book. There are people who want their films, independent documentaries, reviewed. I'm one person, people. In my offline life, I get advanced copies of CDs and books from friends at labels and publishing houses and that's just because we're friends. I don't read and listen to all of that. I'm willing, and often do, listen to various mixes from a studio session of a friend's music. Or I'll go to the studio myself to listen live. I have a busy life. Most people do. If you, Beth, had a book or something you had done and wanted it promoted, the smartest thing you could do would be to send a press release on it and I would happily note it. Jim has always said, 'In the end, we're not judged by whether we were good pen pals. We're judged on the work we publish.' And he really is right. As time goes by, more and more years, I don't have the time or whatever for it. People who require a reply generally get one -- from me or one of the many people working the public account. You get your reply, go away. That's in reference to people who want to debate. Martha especially is always getting stuck with someone wanting to debate. I think the most recent one was that guy who's infamous for denying that the US used any chemical weapons in Iraq. We write about that topic constantly. We know his opinion, he's got a site where he expresses his opinion. He's wrong. He could claim that it hasn't been established that the chemical weapons are causing the birth defects in Iraq. On that we disagree. I have faith in the doctors and scientists who have established that relationship. If WHO ever issues its report, it will silence people like that man. But when he claims that the chemical weapons weren't used? Hes' flat out wrong and the US government has admitted to it. Point being, we've heard your opinion, we don't now need it sent to us over 20 times in one day. You've abused the public account and the people who work to read all the e-mails. Ruth is among the people you can contact at the public account: firstname.lastname@example.org. True of Kat and many others as well. You need to put their name in the heading and then the e-mail can be put in a folder for them to read and no one working the public account needs to read it since it's not about anything up at The Common Ills. And, poor Ruth, there's some woman who wanted a link. It was veterans related. Ruth got it into the snapshot and that's apparently not good enough and the woman won't stop writing Ruth. I just delete them if I see them in the in box. To be clear, this woman works for a company that makes money off veterans. And that's fine, veterans should be marketed to. But this woman is not doing selfless work and she got her plug and she got her link and she needs to be happy and go away. When you don't, all you do is ensure that if you want a link for something else later on, you're not going to get it.
Beth: You often state, in snapshots in particular, that you're not doing fluff, you're not wasting time. And three members were wondering if you were attacking Stan?
C.I.: No. First off, every community site carries the snapshot that day if they publish that day. Stan carries the snapshot. Second off, as Rebecca's pointed out, she can write about something like Dynasty, the 80s television show, and get several hundred fresh eyeballs, people who don't normally read her. And they're reading her and, since she has the snapshot at the bottom, they may read a portion of that -- possibly only the opening sentence of "Chaos and violence continue . . ." So writing about something other than Iraq can increase attention on Iraq potentially since the snapshot is reposted. Third, Stan's got a new home and a new job. It's a transition. He's focusing on that in real life, as he needs to, and also wanting to use the summer to explore movies. Fourth, don't think that because he's writing about film, he's not being political. Ann said to me last week that she felt bad because her posts are "so short" -- her words -- these days. Ann had a baby less than 3 months ago. I'm surprised she or Cedric are able to post at all. But I really don't make a point to attack the community or, for that matter, individual bloggers who have their own sites. I'm referring to newspapers, magazines, activists, etc., when I make those statements. I have loved what Stan's done this summer and my apologies to the three community members who wondered. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. Stan's a great writer.
Beth: We have a lot of great writers in this community. That includes Trina. You made a prediction to her, I was there Tuesday, I heard. Saturday, she got a frantic call from her daughter. When she gets home, she has a new cat. You told her that her daughter was going to give her the cat.
C.I.: Your point is I had a lucky guess.
Beth: Was that all it was.
C.I.: Trina wrote this wonderful post, "Dave Lindorff and an Orange Tabby." You can't read that and not grasp that Trina bonded with the cat and the cat with her. Add in that I know the daughter -- I know all of Trina's kids, not just Mike -- and I'd heard from the daughter how she loved her cat but her cat was so independent and didn't want to be petted. The cat bonded with Trina, it's in that piece she wrote. The daughter returned from her vacation the day before Trina came out here for two weeks. I had a lucky guess. I wish I were psychic, I know that's what you're dancing around. I'm not. I can have a lucky guess.
Beth: With violence.
C.I.: To me, Iraqi violence is numbers. I don't mean it's not people dying, it is. But I mean there's a pattern, a mathematical pattern. And that's why I know something, some large wave of violence is coming. Not psychic. If I were psychic, I could see how it all ends, how Iraq gets rebuilt, how the Iraqi people successfully defeat Nouri al-Maliki. If I were psychic, I would worry far less about Iraq because I'd know what was coming.
Beth: Okay, that was my question. Here's one from Zach, "You've been the only one to write about the Memo of Understanding between Iraq and the US and it's call for joint-patrols in Iraq by US and Iraq troops. You're the only one to write about Tim Arango's report. A Pentagon friend told you that you were 'harping' on the fact that US troops were in Iraq. I'm just wondering how frustrating it is?" And Zach asked me to include "dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:"
December 6, 2012, the Memorandum
of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of
Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United
States of America was signed. We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th
snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media
outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone
would look the other way. It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted,
"Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could
result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on
training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to
[US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations
soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and
help with intelligence."
C.I.: Thank you, Zach and thank you for asking the April 30th snapshot to be included. That lets Beth copy and paste and saves her time. It's why I say in many snapshots, "dropping back to the April 30th snapshot . . ." It's got the pertinent links already in it. First off, hats off to Tim Arango --
Beth: I'll link to his Twitter feed when I type this.
C.I.: Thank you. Tim Arango had a very important piece of information. As a friend with the paper explains it to me, the Times wasn't interested in a story about the two sentences we quote all the time and that's why he shoe-horned it into the middle of his Syria report. I believe that because of the source on it. But I'm not the only one to write about what Tim reported. Tom Hayden's written of it. In terms of the Memo Of Understanding, I still can't believe how the US press ignored that. The Defense Department even issued a press release on it. I was sent the press release when it was issued and a Pentagon friend followed up with a phone call after that was issue. The Pentagon and DOD weren't hiding it and were actually proud that they -- with the State Department's assistance pulled that MOU together. And, of course, Kenneth Katzman regularly notes all of this in his "Iraq: Politics, Governance and Human Rights" for the Congressional Research Services. Why haven't others written about this? I have no idea. You really need to ask them. You need to demand that they cover it. This is disgusting, to me, that no one wants to talk about this. I've lost a lot of respect for people.
Beth: And with regards to you.
C.I.: Oh. I don't mind hearing that I'm "harping" on the fact that Barack sent US troops back into Iraq last fall. Here's something people don't often understand about me in my offline life. I don't care whether you agree with me or not. I don't care whether you think I'm wrong or right. I do care that I speak my belief. After I've spoken, what you do with it or not is up to you. Online? The difference there is being called a liar. My feelings are not hurt by names strangers call me. I am bothered when I hear that Martha and Shirley, or whomever, got stuck with over 100 e-mails about how I'm a liar, how Tim Arango never wrote that story, how they read the whole thing and what I'm quoting isn't in the story blah, blah, blah. I would gladly pay Martha and Shirley for their outstanding work -- as well as everyone else working the e-mail accounts -- but they refuse payment --
Beth: This is their way of giving back to the community.
C.I.: Right. The reading of the e-mails and their yearly look at books. But they're doing this for free and they're going to have to -- I know every time I mention the Tim Arango report -- they're going to have to go through all these hateful e-mails. It bothers me.
Beth: Okay, so you have to be heard and then it's up to the other people. But what if people don't hear.
C.I.: At this point, the issue, honestly, is people refusing to hear. Let's be honest. And that's the curse of the Cassandra.
Beth: Elaine says -- you two have known each other forever, before college you dated her older brother, for example -- Elaine says that your attitude has always been, "I'm right, history will prove it."
C.I.: I do say that on some things. If I've got a feeling or suspicion or whatever, I'll note, "This is what I think, I could be wrong." But there are times when I know I'm not wrong, that's what Elaine's talking about. For example, on campus, back in college, I took on apartheid and was slammed for it, attacked in the campus paper, rumors spread about me, etc. None of it bothered me. I knew apartheid was wrong. That wasn't an idea, that was a core conviction. I knew I was right on that issue and I knew I'd be proven right. But, yes, back then, coming out against apartheid was not a popular position. It was supposed to be -- the oppressive South African government -- an ally of the US government. There was all this stupid trash attacking Nelson Mandela. Today, he's rightly seen as a hero. And, just FYI, since we're mentioning Mandela, he's been released from the hospital and allowed to go back home to live out what is expected to be his final days. He's had a great life, he's struggled for change and made change. And not just him, an entire movement. He was an important leader, Bishop Desmond Tutu is another who was a great leader in that movement. But back then, you didn't do that apparently. Some little student government flunky grabbed me in the hall at the start of the backlash and escorted me to a student lounge where he handed me my 'apology' that he'd written for me and told me I could sign it and he could get it in the next edition of the paper. I refused to sign it and learned that the letter was actually written by a university dean. I still didn't sign it and told him to get a life. For the rest of the semester, that lousy campus paper attacked me. I had a friend on the paper. During this time, it wasn't an issue between us. I could care less that the paper was attacking me. Again, I knew I was right and I knew apartheid would and must fall. The paper got in trouble because they would run a letter in support of me, a letter to the editors, every other issue. Every issue usually had several letters against me and my stand. So as the semester is winding up, the editor of the paper passes a message to Rebecca about how he wants me to write a column about this. About the paper's semester long attack on me? Pass. But he involved my friend with the paper. So I met with the two and repeated I had said what I wanted and had no desire to respond to what followed but I could write a column about South Africa. No, they didn't want that. And the editor explains they're in trouble with their campus advisor. At the beginning of the attacks, there were more letters against my stand. By the third week, the letters were coming in in equal number. As the paper attacked me in every issue -- the paper means the writers for the paper found a way to attack me, I'm not talking about the letter page. They're writing up a sport's event and they note some bad play and they work in a snide remark about how everyone could have seen that was a bad play "except maybe" me who thinks I know something about apartheid and dare to call it wrong. There was one column where they were insisting that Blacks in South Africa supported apartheid. Another column insisted that apartheid improved the lives of Blacks in that country. Another insisted I was an idiot because Nelson Mandela had a better life in prison than he would if he were free. They wrote these columns attacking me and never cared if they contradicted or what. So anyway, there were hundreds of letters, it was now the end of the semester, calling out the paper. Some just because they were rightly bothered that the press would be used to attack any one person over and over. People went to the faculty advisor to ask why their letters were never printed and this resulted in a huge ethical flap. The advisor, who didn't know of all these unprinted letters, told the newspaper staff they had to print those letters -- a large number of them -- especially the portions calling the paper out for the non-stop attacks on me. They didn't want to do that and the advisor told me that the only other thing they can do is see if I'll write a piece for the paper to end this. End it? I asked if the paper would respond to my column? Yes, they would. So I would labor over a column that would let them off the hook and then they'd still have the opportunity to trash me one more time? Pass. I told them to print the letters. I was mad at the friend who knew about these letters and didn't tell me. It's one thing for me to ignore the paper to keep our friendship safe, it's another for him to know the paper is not just attacking me but making it appear like their attacks have nearly full consent of the student body. When Elaine and I used FOIA at the end of the 70s to get the government spying on us, I was shocked and called this same friend to tell him that -- He stopped me. ____ ____ who advised them on photographs and helped with the photography lab, an adult who was not a student, was actually informing on me to the FBI. Yeah, he figured that. The man had actually assisted the editor with the attacks on me. That man's still with one of the big three networks news divisions and I have had nothing to say to him since learning that he knew that part as well and also kept it from me.
Beth: And how do you feel now?
C.I.: I was right. I knew I was right then. The more right you are, the more you'll often be attacked. Comes with the territory.
Beth: You and Ava call out Jane Fonda, among others, in "Media: The silence, the fawning, the unanswered" yet, and Jim of Third Estate Sunday Review, suggested I discuss this, you're accused of going soft on people you like.
C.I.: I have tried to be as clear as possible on this. I love Joe Biden. I will and have called him out here. Harshly if needed. I do not factor in, "He's a friend." I do ask myself, "Is he being scapegoated by people who refuse to call out Barack Obama?" I have marked Joe's wife off limits for me. I do not write about her and do not do that so that if there was ever a time when a comment was needed about her, I could respond that I didn't write about her before, why would I now? I broke that only with regards to veterans. One morning, the Los Angeles Times got something wrong and the best way to demonstrate that was to quote from a column she wrote with Michelle Obama. So she got mentioned then and I apologized for it then. Otherwise, that's it.
Beth: What are you afraid of happening?
C.I.: If you're in public life, you can say something stupid and it can become so much huger than it was. Or you can say something that gets distorted and the distortion causes a controversy. You can also be sued despite having done nothing wrong. There are many things that could happen. With regards to this woman, I don't have anything unpleasant to say about her and the only way I can ensure that I never have to is to not mention her at all.
Beth: She's off limits for all?
C.I.: Just for me. Other community sites can do what they want and I believe Elaine's highlighted some of her writing.
Beth: Eric Holder.
C.I.: I know Eric from the Bill Clinton era. I like Eric. I was told I was giving him a pass for not calling him out. In what way? Fast and Furious. I didn't and don't feel that's a story. Others do and that's fine. Rebecca covers it in this community and I've encouraged her to because she is interested in it. I pass on things to her all the time about Fast and Furious. I'm not bothered by anything she's written. Now when I saw Eric Holder, the Attorney General, called before Congress and asked about a scandal that had just emerged -- spying on the Associated Press -- when I saw him attack the Congress and refuse to take accountability, I called him out strongly. I've seen him testify since then and he's been the Eric everyone loves and knows. Maybe it was just a bad day? I don't know but I called him out for it.
Beth: And you love John Kerry?
C.I.: I do. John and Teresa Heinz are great people. But did I let John off last week? No.
Beth: And you did a botox piece on him at Third.
C.I.: We all worked on that. If you want to see fair, in terms of John Kerry, I said his chances of being president were over. I called the time of death on that. And knew it would mean no second run for president.
Beth: I forgot about that.
C.I.: Yeah, he was in California and made a comment to students that the right-wing glommed on. Originally, he stood up for himself. Then he apologized and said he was wrong. At which point, I noted in the snapshot that he better face that moment ended his chances to run for the presidency and why it ended it.
Beth: And I'll point out that you knew everyone who ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008.
C.I.: I did sort of. That's partly why I sat it out originally in 2007. After I did sit it out, I liked that, honestly. I met Barack twice. Once at a fundraiser when he was running for the Senate, Elaine and I were at that private fundraiser --
Beth: Ready to donate.
C.I.: Yes, we were going to do the maximum donation. But we asked about Iraq and the so-called anti-war candidate told us that "We're" already in Iraq so that changes it and withdrawal isn't an issue. So we left immediately, Elaine and I, and made no donation. We went because our friends were hosting and because Barack was this alleged anti-war candidate. In 2007, a friend with his campaign invited me to an informal gathering which was supposed to let Barack charm potential big donors. I went as a favor to my friend. Those were the only times I encountered Barack. That may have been more time than I spent with Mr. Grabby Hands John Edwards. Elizabeth knew John cheated. I told her myself she needed to curb her husband. I considered him a fake and a fraud and I said -- to John Kerry and everyone with that campaign -- that it was a mistake to bring John Edwards onto the ticket. Sure enough, Edwards trashed John over and over after the 2004 loss. Mike Gravel is someone Elaine and I knew from his brave years in the Senate. Dennis Kucinich I knew from various entertainment friends and their various gatherings. Bill Richardson I knew from his Bill Clinton era days.
Beth: You never called Bill Richardson a "Judas."
C.I.: James Carville called him that and I understand why. But, no, I have never called him a Judas and never would. I like Bill. I didn't care for his flip-flopping over from Hillary to Barack in the 2008 primaries, but I like Bill Richardson. Hillary? I knew her from the Bill Clinton era. I have always had respect for her until Benghazi. She needs to grasp that she needs to revisit her statements to Congress. I'm speaking here not of facts but of the harsh and unfeeling manner with which she spoke of the dead. I know she was ill that day. It doesn't excuse it. If she wants to run, she should meet with the parents of the fallen. She has no answers for them. She's said everything she can on that apparently. Fine. But show them some respect because the deaths of their four loved ones -- Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods -- mattered and still matter. She was getting short with a member of Congress, I understand that. I also understand that she's a seasoned and experienced politician and what happened never should have happened.
Beth: Did we cover everyone?
C.I.: Did we? That was the worst primary of my life.
Beth: Good! Can we talk about that? We're eating chips and guacamole, just to set the scene, and we're in C.I.'s bedroom. We've almost polished off a pitcher of margaritas.
C.I.: Beth's hoping to ply me with alcohol and loosen my tongue. Chris Dodd! We didn't mention Chris. I've known him for years and was never greatly impressed.
Beth: You were staying out of it. What if Chris had won?
C.I.: I wasn't greatly impressed but I'm sure Chris Dodd would have done a fine job.
Beth: When do you see yourself getting into it?
C.I.: The Democratic Party primary? We were speaking about the Iraq War in New Hampshire in January 2008. A friend lost a Hillary speaker for a different event, a high school event. This was to encourage student awareness of the election process, that's what the friend was working on. So she asked if I could fill in and be her Hillary speaker for that one event since I knew Hillary. I said sure. I didn't think much of it. Early on, I was interrupted -- a certain crooked campaign, we know which one right, instructed students to interrupt all the speakers and gave them questions to ask of the Edwards and Clinton surrogates. So I'm interrupted with this stupid kid asking a stupid question about how can Hillary be president when all she's ever done is sit in the White House having tea parties? I called that crap out and noted Hillary's 1992 ABA speech that I still love and noted all of her work as an attorney and a hundred other things. And I saw parents present nodding in agreement with regards to Hillary's achievements. And I didn't know that sexist attack had come from the Obama campaign but it did make me think about Hillary's run. I went outside and sat down at a fountain and watched this one bird -- out of many birds -- fly from building to building to building and back again, go to the ground and scoop up some treasure -- food or whatever -- and it just seemed to me to be the perfect visualization of Hillary's life thus far. I really hadn't thought about the election in any terms but Iraq. That's all I had covered it in 2007, I'd avoided the rest. It was obvious to me that Hillary was going to win New Hampshire. We'd spoken to college students and to various other groups about the war. Many had raised the issue of candidates and Kat or someone else would address it and I'd ignore it. But it was obvious Hillary had the bulk of the support in the state. Then came that moment at the high school and the moment of watching that one bird knock itself out working for an entire community of birds and then came Hillary's win and the non-stop attacks. Joe Biden had dropped out and I'd felt really badly about that because he had spoken of Iraq a week before he dropped out, addressed the issue of partitioning Iraq and done so in a way that was better than he ever had before. And I'd told myself we'd highlight that speech but before I had time and space to, he'd dropped out. And now you had idiots and liars claiming Hillary didn't win New Hampshire. Now they didn't want to talk truth about Iowa but they wanted to lie about New Hampshire. Barack did not 'win' Iowa. He lost. It's a fraudulent contest to begin with. Across the country, you go to vote on election day, you cast a vote. That's it. You don't get told, "Thanks but your candidate didn't win, so you can go support someone else." Dennis gave his delegates to Barack after the first round. That's nonsense. And Iowa has always been ripe with fraud -- they always have non-Iowans causing via fraud. So what followed was one attack on Hillary after another and we were in, I was in, by that point. John Edwards would lightly criticize Barack then he and his wife would trash Hillary. It was disgusting. It still is. And, yes, I am glad that Jesse Jackson Jr. and others have discovered that lying brings karma after them with a vengeance. They are disgusting people, the ones who utilized sexism and injected it into the national dialogue, helped it flourish. I will never forget that.
Beth: So if you're still at The Common Ills in 2016, the feeling's going to be you're supporting Hillary because you like her or supporting whomever the female candidate is.
C.I.: I like that, the fact that Hillary's 2008 run means we now expect that a woman will be in the primaries. And, in fairness, in 2008, Hillary went for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Cynthia McKinney won the Green Party's presidential nomination and chose Rosa Clemente as her running mate and, of course, John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. All four of those women were on the national stage and really said something about women and politics and I applaud each of them for that.
Beth: In October 2008, you and Ava wrote one of my favorite pieces, "The Vagina Strikes Back! (Ava and C.I.)" and I love the article and I love the title.
C.I.: As I remember it, I could be wrong, we didn't want to write that piece. It was a long writing edition and we'd done our TV piece or at least sketched it in. Dona and Jim were firmly of the opinion that a political piece needed to be written. They wanted a piece that really slapped back at Robert Parry and others who had used sexism and had trashed women and so much more throughout 2008. As you note, this was October, I believe the start of the month. So before everything got lost in the noise of the last days of a campaign,, Dona and Jim wanted a piece about women and 2008 politics. And there was a rude e-mail from a "left" journalist -- to Third -- that had insulted the site and specifically Ava and my writing as "Vagina Politics." So Dona and Jim wanted "vagina" in the title. Ava and I looked at each other and then looked at Dona and Jim and said, "The Vagina Strikes Back!" -- said it as a question and Dona and Jim said that's exactly what they wanted. So with that title in mind, Ava and I went to another room and quickly wrote that piece.
Beth: And I loved it the minute it went up. It really spoke to me the way few things do. What are your thoughts on it today?
C.I.: Didn't we end with Rickie Lee Jones?
Beth: "As Rickie Lee Jones once sang, 'Oh, it's never going to be the same'."
C.I.: Right and that says it all. Hillary, Cynthia, Sarah and Rosa changed the landscape. Changed the possible. And, looking back, I think that's why the attacks on women were so vicious in 2008. I think people -- sexists -- grasped this was their last hurrah, that they needed to get it out then because that sexism would never be allowed to fly like that again. That's not me saying that sexism has ended or vanished. It's still present. But the outrageous efforts to attack these women -- Hillary with 'nut crackers,' Sarah Palin with photo-shopped pictures mocking her, Cynthia and Rosa with the greatest insult to women of color historically: Ignoring them. We won't see it like that again. I hope not anyway. 2008 saw a number of women give up blogging. Delilah Boyd, for example, is someone who's writing I strongly miss. And that was, my opinion, because of all the hatred of women expressed and because if you called it out you were attacked. A lot of strong writers packed up shop and I don't blame them for that at all. But women who remained? We tended to see something really amazing. Riverdaughter of The Confluence found a way to speak to Republicans without insulting them, for example. And she wasn't the only one. And, at Third, who knew so many Republicans read that site? We defended Sarah Palin from sexism because sexism is appalling and because we were appalled by those silent when Hillary was attacked -- those 'brave' men of the left. Who seemed to think that refusing to engage in sexism meant that they didn't have to call out anyone for using sexism. They'd already 'donated' by not engaging in sexism. Golly, didn't know it was such a sacrifice for them. But what we saw happening, Ava and I, was this ground being cleared among women, and this concept that we would work together again -- left, center and right -- when women on the national stage were trashed with sexism. We saw this in real time before our eyes as we were speaking all over the country and we saw it in e-mail feedback. There were so many great e-mails that Ty would tell us we had to read. From Republican women who would say things like, 'Okay, you proved this is about women and not just about Democratic women. How do I do my part?' Or older women would write and they had these wonderful stories of activism in early adulthood and then it stopped happening. And they could usually trace it to a lack of respect. And what was taking place in 2008, awakened and reawakened a lot of women. That bond is still there, thankfully. It's real. We know, as a group, we don't agree on everything. But we also know that whether you're right or left, if you're a woman you need to have an even playing field. And that's something women can support across the board. It was a transformative moment. And sites did close down and that's sad -- even when I understand, I'm still sad that strong voices like Delilah's are gone. But we also saw really important sites like The Widdershins spring up. I am really upset with Ms. and others for failing to cover the sexism, for failing to cover the sisterhood -- however tentative they think it was -- among Green women, Democratic women, Republican women, independent women and feminists across the board. To me, women were the story of 2008.
Beth: And I think the piece Dona and Jim had to beg you to write makes that story clear. So let's close on that note as we finish the last of these margaritas.
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