From the MSNBC piece on Romney’s VP list:
In particular, few women except for New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte—a freshman lawmaker from New England with only scant federal experience—are thought to be under consideration by Romney.
“I think, unfortunately, Palin poisoned the well on that,” said one informal Romney adviser, fretting that any woman selected as VP would draw inevitable comparisons to the former Alaska governor. “I would guess if I were inside the Romney mind that they’re worried that any woman chosen will be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny.”
Oh, it’s definitely true that women are subjected to a higher level of scrutiny. The entire campaign year 2008 showed us that. But blaming the women themselves for that higher level of scrutiny?
Maybe this unnamed adviser just misspoke, but I think we need to be really clear about who did what. Sarah Palin is a creepy conservative Republican, but she’s no creepier than any other conservative Republican. In fact, she’s considerably less creepy than somebody like Mike Huckabee—who, unlike Palin, really does think the world is 6000 years old and that contraception should be illegal and that gays should be herded into concentration camps. But we all know that if Mike Huckabee had been McCain’s choice for VP, the world would not have erupted in a massive hatefest obsession with his body and sex life and personal grooming and clothes and hair and so on. He wouldn’t have been called a whore and hung in effigy; there wouldn’t have been entertainers calling for him to be gang-raped; people wouldn’t have obsessively tracked his children and pawed through his garbage and ridiculed his intelligence. People went apeshit on Palin not because she was a conservative Republican, but because she was a female conservative Republican. And we all know it. Even the anti-Palin obsessives know it deep in their tiny little fucked up hearts.
So no, Sarah Palin didn’t poison the well. That well was poisoned already.
We’ve all seen extreme woman-bashing before, but there’s something really weird about this current episode. Something asymmetrical, if you will, in terms of the target vs. the firepower being unloaded.
In the 90s, the misogyny unleashed on Hillary Clinton was truly revolting. Janet Reno and Madeleine Albright were also endlessly ridiculed and attacked; it was a bad decade for women. None of that was remotely forgivable or excusable. But those women were very powerful people: the First Lady, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State.
In 2008, both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were attacked in extremely vile, sexist terms. None of that was remotely forgivable or excusable, either. But those women were prominent figures running for the highest offices in the land.
Sandra Fluke is just a student who testified on the importance of including birth control pills in prescription healthcare plans. And this is what we get. Some of the craziest, most ferocious shit I’ve ever seen, and it’s for a student who testified on healthcare coverage.
Anybody have a theory?
Personally, I think the GOP is committing suicide in public, though only for the 2012 season. I think that, having run through all the Not Mitts in the TV studio, they’re finally facing the fact that they’re going to lose this year and it’s just going to be a big waste of time even going forward. So, like the protagonist in any bad melodrama or Ibsen play, they’re ending it all with a revolver in the study. Or at least, their collective unconscious is doing that.
I guess I’m not up on all the inner workings of the Susan G. Komen Must Be Totally Spinning In Her Grave Foundation. Obviously the big news is that Komen has cut off all the breast cancer screening funds to Planned Parenthood. The move seems to be connected to the fact that the new vice president at Komen is a wingnut who is personally obsessed (as in made it part of her campaign platform when she was running for governor of Georgia) with defunding Planned Parenthood:
Breast cancer charity giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Tuesday did not renew a grant to Planned Parenthood to fund breast exams. The move comes less than a year after Komen hired a new vice president, who has publicly stated her opposition to abortion, a service provided at some Planned Parenthood facilities.
Komen’s new vice president, Karen Handel, had run for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform and was endorsed by Sarah Palin because of her opposition to reproductive choice. Handel wrote in her campaign blog that she “do[es] not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
“During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a ‘Healthy Babies Initiative,’” Handel wrote. “Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.” She also wrote that she opposes stem cell research and supports crisis pregnancy centers, which are unregulated, Christian-run operations whose main mission is to convince pregnant women not to have abortions.
Got that? Okay, here’s the kicker:
After Handel lost the gubernatorial primary, Susan G. Komen for the Cure named her to be its senior vice president in April 2011.
Why? Why oh why oh why? This is a person who is on record with her desire to restrict breast cancer screenings because she would rather have women die of cancer than set foot in a place that gives out contraceptives and occasionally performs abortions. And this is the person who becomes an executive for the largest breast cancer charity in the country. What?
Yesterday I toyed briefly with the idea of writing a snarky satire on the latest manifestation of GOP speak. But it just disgusts me too much. “Job creators” is what they’re calling themselves now. Rich people, that is. “You can’t tax us! We’re job creators!” And expecting these rich people—excuse me, “job creators”—to pay at least as much in taxes as secretaries is “class warfare.” Also, the reason the economy sucks? Because the “job creators” are “on strike.” I kid you not. Apparently they’re all holed up in some mountain retreat with John Galt and Dagny Taggart, just waiting for the unwashed masses to beg them to come back.
Why didn’t the aristocrats of the ancien régime think of this? “Mais, mais, nous sommes job creators!”
By itself, Republican propaganda is hilarious in its transparency. It’s a Daily Show sketch, an Onion piece. The real Republican Party platform has exactly one plank: wealth protection for oligarchs. The past century of political propaganda has been all about tricking ordinary working Americans into voting for that shit, usually by disguising it as something else. “Job creators” is just the latest attempt.
But that’s where the fun stops. Because people really do fall for this malarkey. Somewhere out there, some poor deluded idiot making poverty wages is listening to John Boehner or Sarah Palin and going, “Oh! So that’s why I don’t have any money! If we just cut taxes on rich people and corporations, everything will be fine!”
Like the man said, you can’t fix stupid. But you can educate the ignorant, which is why Obama continues to depress the living shit out of me. Theoretically, it’s nice that he’s calling for taxes on the wealthy, à la the Buffett Rule. But there are a few problems. One: he’s also calling for increases in Medicare premiums, deductibles, and copays. You know, “shared sacrifice.” Two: None of this even matters, since the whole thing is just a campaign ploy. The tax code is not going to get revised in time for the deficit negotiations, and besides, Obama’s lying. He’s in campaign mode. The White House focus-tested some populist type crap, so that’s what we’re getting. Means nothing.
And three, the biggest problem of all: WHY THE FUCK ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE DEFICIT? The deficit is not the problem, for chrissake. In December of 1941, FDR didn’t say, “Yeah, yeah, war—but first, we need to get our deficit under control. Then we can think about Germany and Japan.”
The very fact that we’re even talking about the deficit means the Republican propaganda terrorists have won.
Maybe not impossible. But incredibly rare.
Here’s Matt Taibbi on Imus (yes, that would be Don “black women are nappy-headed hos” Imus), discussing his Rolling Stone piece on Michele Bachmann:
Taibbi: “Actually, yeah, I’m actually kind of rooting for her to win the nomination, because I can’t wait to see the porn movies that they make. The Bachmann-inspired porn films are going to be great…I mean, who didn’t see ‘Nailin’ Palin’? That was classic cinema.”
You know, I would be the first to say that Michele Bachmann is an absolute nutjob. She really is. The stuff she believes is just ridiculous.
But you know what isn’t ridiculous? The fact that she’s female. Really. Femaleness is not some grotesque trait to be mocked; it’s not some character flaw; it’s not some weirdo political stance that is ripe for ridicule. And if you can’t criticize a woman’s politics without mentally subjecting her to the porn-film/inflatable-doll/nutcracker treatment, then you’re a goddamn sexist twit.
Other former vice-presidential candidates or potential presidential candidates whose entire email archive from their time in office has been released so the press (or just people who read the WaPo online) can comb through looking for something interesting
You know, I can’t think of any. Nope, not a single one.
Look, we’re all feminists here. We all know the real reason for the Palin email panty-sniffing extravaganza. I’d just like to know what excuse, if any, the trash-pickers are using for treating this email archive like it’s the fucking Pentagon Papers. I haven’t seen anything online.
I wonder what they tell themselves in the privacy of their own minds, or on whatever has replaced JournoList. “Oh, it’s important that we do this because, unlike every other ex-governor/senator/congressperson who has ever run for vice-presidential or presidential office, Sarah Palin has been genetically determined to be the spawn of Satan—it’s a scientific fact!—and so we must be vigilant for the sake of our republic.”
UPDATE: Seriously, people—if anybody comes across an attempt at justifying the panty-sniffing, I’d like to see it. As far as I’m aware, nobody’s even trying. The conventional wisdom on the left is that Sarah Palin has absolutely no chance of being elected president and is far more likely to serve as a spoiler for someone like Rigel. In other words, the more popular Palin is, the more likely Obama is to be reelected. Which explains why it’s so crucially important for “progressives” to scrutinize every scrap of email from Alaska in order to discredit her even further…uh, no, wait. Oops.
At first glance you probably think this is your basic Hertzsprung–Russell diagram showing the stars plotted by magnitude and spectral type. As predicted, Mitt Romney is a blue giant (I think I’m going to start calling him Rigel) while Sarah Palin is a G-type main sequence star. No, wait! That’s not what this diagram is at all! You know what it is? It’s a diagram of how women’s rights play absolutely no role in the mental calculations of your average political dude—in this case, Nate Silver.
Silver places Sarah Palin to the right of Mike Huckabee in this diagram because, as he claims, “voters see [Huckabee] as more moderate than Ms. Palin, especially on economic issues.” Really? What voters, Nate? You and your imaginary friend?
First of all, if there is any daylight between Huckabee and Palin on economic issues, I’m not seeing it. But in terms of social issues—you know, basic human rights for women, that kind of thing—Huckabee is so far to the right he’s red-shifted.
I’ve covered this ground before, but let’s review a few key points:
- Mike Huckabee believes that God put women on earth to be subordinate and subservient to men. Unlike Sarah Palin, who explicitly embraces gender equality as a “conservative feminist,” Huckabee believes that women are the inferior sex.
- Mike Huckabee believes that contraception should be illegal. Illegal. Sarah Palin, of course, is strongly in favor of contraception.
- Mike Huckabee wants the Constitution to be rewritten to reflect “God’s word.” I’ve never heard anything like this from Palin. (And besides, we know she doesn’t think “God’s word” means women are inferior.)
- Mike Huckabee thinks homosexuals are dangerous deviants and that people with HIV should be sequestered in concentration camps. Palin is against gay marriage but is comfortable with homosexuality; like Obama, she has said she thinks civil unions are sufficient.
Sarah Palin is a conservative godbag for sure, but Mike Huckabee makes her look like Che Guevara.
Since the attempt on Congresswoman Giffords’ life called to mind the ghastly and vicious intolerance that has come to describe American political discourse (no, I’m not blaming Caribou Barbie’s insane target map, though there’s a reason why she popped into everyone’s head when the catastrophe happened), I thought I might use the public’s positive reaction to 1001 Inventions as an example of tolerance.
The magazine that used to be the voice of feminism is now apparently the voice of selective sexism. It’s the Amanda Marcotte school of faux feminism: misogyny is fine and great—to be encouraged, even—as long as it’s directed at women we don’t like.
Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.
Read the New York Times on Glenn Beck’s bizarre obsession with Frances Piven:
On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.
Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck’s warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”
Her name has become a kind of shorthand for “enemy” on Mr. Beck’s Fox News Channel program, which is watched by more than 2 million people, and on one of his Web sites, The Blaze. This week, Mr. Beck suggested on television that she was an enemy of the Constitution.
Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.
Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. But she added, “I don’t want to give anybody the satisfaction of thinking they’ve got me trembling.”
The interest in Ms. Piven is rooted in an article she wrote with her husband, Richard Cloward, in 1966. The article, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” proposed that if people overwhelmed the welfare rolls, fiscal and political stress on the system could force reform and give rise to changes like a guaranteed income. By drawing attention to the topic, the proposal “had a big impact” even though it was not enacted, Ms. Piven said. “A lot of people got the money that they desperately needed to survive,” she said.
In Mr. Beck’s telling on a Fox broadcast on Jan. 5, 2010, Ms. Piven and Mr. Cloward (who died in 2001) planned “to overwhelm the system and bring about the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with impossible demands and bring on economic collapse.” Mr. Beck observed that the number of welfare recipients soared in the years after the article, and said the article was like “economic sabotage.”
He linked what he termed the Cloward-Piven Strategy to President Obama’s statement late in the 2008 presidential campaign that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven’s columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the “concerted campaign” against her.
One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 rounds ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back.” (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)
That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior.
That’s the kind of focused, hysterical targeting that might drive unbalanced people to violence. It’s reminiscent of Bill O’Reilly’s years-long campaign against Dr. Tiller.
Here’s what it’s not reminiscent of: Sarah Palin’s utterly routine election map and a psychotic shooter who wasn’t even tuned into right-wing politics.
This is one reason why it’s kind of important not to blow your credibility with specious accusations that don’t even make sense. Wolves, tears, all that.
The past week has been full of bizarre responses to the Arizona shooting, and if I weren’t so tired and depressed I’d grace you all with a 10,000 word essay on the subject. But I am tired and depressed, so I’ll just pick the one moment that continues to intrigue me. It was this: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s essay in the Huffington Post. It’s a fine essay, and RFK Jr.’s personal reminiscences of the impact of the JFK assassination on his family are poignant. I also share his repugnance for right-wing vitriol, both then and now.
But the essay is missing a sentence. I was so sure the sentence had to be there that I read the entire piece three times, and then started doing page searches to find the missing words. Surely the sentence was there and I was just somehow not seeing it. It’s the sentence that goes something like, “Ironically, despite the atmosphere in Dallas, it turned out that Uncle Jack’s assassin was a misguided pro-Castro Marxist.” Because that, of course, is what actually happened. That was the great irony of the JFK assassination. Dallas was infested with wingnuts (though they weren’t called wingnuts back then), and at first everybody thought that’s who killed the president. But lo and behold, it was just Lee Oswald, delusional Communist blowhard. As Jackie Kennedy remarked bitterly, JFK didn’t even have the “satisfaction” of dying for his liberal ideals; instead his assassin was just a “silly little Communist.”
In fact, that’s the point I thought RFK Jr. was going to make when I started reading the essay. Everybody in Dallas in 1963 thought it was a right-wing hit, and they were wrong; that’s the parallel with Tuscon. But no, that wasn’t the point RFK Jr. wanted to make. He just wanted to talk about the dangers of right-wing hate. Okay, fine. That’s cool. Let’s talk about it. But still: how do you leave out the sentence about Oswald? As a writer, how do you do that? I couldn’t. It feels obligatory. You write this highly-charged essay, you make a big deal about how ugly the right-wing stuff was in Dallas, you evoke the horror of the president’s death; even if you want your takeaway message to be about the dangers of superheated rhetoric, how do you leave out the undeniable historical reality that Oswald was cut from an entirely different bolt of cloth? Even if you tuck it in as a parenthetical throwaway (“of course, ironically…”), you still have to acknowledge it. Don’t you?
I had just about persuaded myself to forget about it—chalk it up to a single editorial decision not to muddy the main point—when I learned today that Eric Boehlert wrote an extremely similar essay in 2009: A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this. It’s exactly the same argument RFK Jr. makes, and with exactly the same stunning omission. No Oswald! Oswald has simply disappeared. He’s gone. And everything that motivated the man is gone. No Cuba, no Fidel, no Soviet Union, no Marxism, no Communism, no nothing. There’s not even a nod to Oswald’s real motive, which was the inchoate longing to be somebody, to be a great man, to be important.
So is this what we do now? Is this the program? Fifty years later, we just make it be about whatever we want it to be about? (Mr. Derrida, white courtesy phone. White courtesy phone, Mr. Derrida.)
Ironically, people will accuse me of having an ulterior motive for even saying this. So you’re defending right-wing hatred? So you’re arguing that the left is just as bad? Blah blah blah. Actually, here’s my ulterior motive: truth. I like truth. I like facts. I like knowing what really happened.
Here’s what happened in Dallas in 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald saw his chance at history and took it. The motorcade route was published in the newspaper just a few days before the presidential visit, and Oswald realized that JFK’s car would be passing right in front of his own place of employment, the Texas School Book Depository. He didn’t hate the president, but he did resent JFK’s policy towards Cuba. Oswald was a self-taught Marxist; he’d defected to the Soviet Union right after getting out of the Marines. The Russians pegged him for what he was—a mentally unbalanced loser—and tolerated him as an awkward guest. He married a Soviet wife and eventually returned to the U.S., tired of the Russian winters, the boring low-level factory work he was given, the absence of anything remotely glamorous or exciting.
Back in the U.S., he revered Fidel Castro, tried to do some political organizing for Cuba, read Communist papers, probably listened to Havana’s Radio Free Dixie on his shortwave set, and yearned to help with the revolution. He felt sure he was destined to play some stupendous role in history, if only he could figure out how. Throughout 1963 he bounced from one thing to another, from job to job, from Texas to Louisiana and back, floundering around, trying to find his place. Going to Cuba was one possibility: a few months before the JFK assassination he went to Mexico City and tried, unsuccessfully, to get a visa to Cuba. He also tried to persuade his wife Marina to help him hijack a plane to Cuba. And he seems to have hit upon the idea that shooting somebody important here in the U.S. might be a good move: maybe it would make him a revolutionary hero, or at least a name for the history books. In April 1963 he tried unsuccessfully to kill the right-wing anti-Communist General Edwin Walker, using the same bolt-action rifle he would later use to blow off Jack Kennedy’s head.
So did the atmosphere of right-wing vitriol in Dallas contribute to JFK’s assassination? I think that’s a hard case to make. The connection is tangential and reactionary at best: Oswald wouldn’t have shot JKF if he hadn’t already gotten the idea (and the nerve) to kill General Walker, and he wouldn’t have tried to kill General Walker if the latter hadn’t been a vitriolic wingnut. Hmm. Not very satisfying.
Nor can you even say that the anti-JFK stuff in Dallas gave Oswald the idea of killing the president. He’d already tried to shoot General Walker back in April. In October 1963 he watched We Were Strangers, a film about political assassination, and according to Marina was very excited by it. There’s also good reason to believe he’d seen Suddenly and The Manchurian Candidate, both films about shooting a U.S. president—and both starring Frank Sinatra, weirdly enough. (Wait, is Frank implicated?)
If you want to make the case that violent political rhetoric in general begets real violence, then make that case. Don’t fudge the data and don’t cherry pick your facts. Don’t talk ominously about right-wing vitriol and look meaningfully over at Dallas 1963, or at Tuscon 2011. Unless, of course, you want to argue that right-wing rhetoric is dangerous because it drives leftists and schizophrenics to murder, but somehow I don’t think that’s the goal.
Personally, I think the American track record for killing our politicians is born of many things. We’re a society that fetishizes violence and guns; we stockpile weapons, demonize our enemies, and leave disturbed people without help or comfort. As I wrote earlier about the attempt to blame Sarah Palin for the Arizona shooting:
It’s like, come on, dudes, try this theory with my mom. My mom, who has lived through the past blood-soaked half-century of American history, from the JFK assassination to this moment. Wave your Palin map in front of her and explain that the lady who showed up from Alaska two years ago made this happen with her scary map icons.
It’s just such a fucking insult to everyone’s intelligence.