Some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be
John Boehner, on a new Republican effort to win over women voters by avoiding saying things that are anti-woman and Todd-Akiny on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Michigan are contemplating making women buy “rape insurance" as a way to make insurance coverage of abortion illegal in all cases except rape and incest.
It’s not what you say John, it’s what you guys do that’s the problem. And until you get that problem squared away, you’re not going to make a lot of progress.
As long as the party continues to wage a War on Women, women are going to see the GOP as an adversary. I’m not really sure what it is about this very obvious fact that makes it hard for Republicans to understand.
Stories to Watch: 8/26/13.
Republican anti-abortion laws are having a drastic effect on women’s right to choose around the country.
Related: Buzzfeed posts an article that’s basically an ad for the radical anti-abortion group Personhood USA. It’s not the first time Buzzfeed’s been caught pushing far-right propaganda and it likely won’t be the last.
A lot of people are trying to spin this weekend’s March on Washington to mean whatever they want t to mean. But if you ask the marchers themselves why they were marching, the answer was jobs, voting rights, and Trayvon Martin.
If Russia isn’t regreting their successful bid to host the Olympics, they just haven’t been paying attention.
I’m pretty sure that rghtwing propagandist James O’Keefe is a “nasty little cowardly spud,” but calling him a “hobbit” is just a smear on all hobbits.
Sec. of State John Kerry says in a speech that the evidence that Syria used chemical weapons against rebels is “undeniable.” Wonkblog’s Max Fisher says the speech was a prelude to war — others aren’t so sure.
What if hurricanes were named after climate change deniers?
Finally (yeah, it’s another short one), the UN wasn’t happy to learn that the NSA spied on diplomatic video conferences.
[cartoon via Washington Post]
Republicans admit they have a women problem.
National Journal: When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy lawmaker to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.
The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only 8 percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.
Party leaders want to close the gender gap, but worry that it will be difficult with very few female leaders in Congress to handle outreach.
"It’s not good enough. It’s not. And it’s not reflective of the electorate," said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., one of just three Republican women in the freshman class of 2012, who were sworn into the House alongside 17 female Democratic colleagues. "We have a message I think that reaches women and we need to make sure that we’re actively and aggressively telling that story. And there’s no better way to do it than being a woman who talks about it."
Wagner argues that women bring an important perspective on some of the biggest issues the country is currently dealing with, such as family budgets, health care, entitlements, and energy policy—all things women tend to handle in their households. “We’re the ones filling the minivan up,” she said.
The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. For the Republican Party, the first step also seems to be the final one. The GOP faces the same problem here as they do with the rest of their rebranding efforts — they aren’t at all interested in listening. An authoritarian party to the core, they seem to believe they don’t have to listen to women’s concerns. Instead, they try to dictate to women what concerns women have.
Another rookie mistake, [Republican pollster Kellyanne] Conway said, is focusing too much on “women’s issues,” if such a thing exists. Democratic women, she said, put too much of an emphasis on abortion, while Republican women have the opportunity to take a broader view. “There are very few Democratic women who can begin or finish a sentence without mentioning a ‘woman’s right to choose,’ ” Conway said, noting that she’s actually had her researchers go through hours of remarks by Democratic members to find a single woman who failed to mention abortion. They haven’t found one yet. “There is a tremendous opening for the ‘whole women,’ if you will, to step up and run for office as a Republican…. What do you do every week gals, do you fill up the gas tank or do you have an abortion?” she said.
Yeah, I seriously doubt that she couldn’t find any Democratic woman who’s ever talked about anything other than abortion. And taking a “there’s no such thing as women’s issues” line doesn’t strike me as the best way to win women voters. But my biggest takeaway here is that she’s basically telling women, “You don’t care about abortion.” Which, if your party is currently engaged in trying to eliminate abortion, you really have to hope is true.
As it is with minority outreach, the Republican message to the target voters here is “We don’t have to change, you do.” I doubt women will find that especially compelling. As Taylor Marsh points out in a post about this outreach project, this is all about Hillary 2016. She writes that Republicans “don’t have one single viable female contender to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton, with the congressional bench slim compared to the Democratic women waiting in the wings: Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.” And about that “whole woman” idea that looks beyond the right to choose:
[T]he Republican war against entitlements, specifically Social Security, hurts females more than any other group. There isn’t a bigger champion for women’s economic rights than Hillary, with the Republican version having only a platform of “reforming” entitlements so that older women have a financial burden they can’t meet as they age.
If Republicans want to win with women, they’re going to have to change. Swinging a watch in front of female voters and saying, “You are getting sleepy and you don’t care about no ‘bortions,” just isn’t going to cut it.
Right Going from Denying Rape’s Importance to Denying it Even Exists.
It’s hard to see House Republicans move yesterday to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks as a serious effort. The bill has no chance of being taken up by the Senate and, even if it was, it would die a well-deserved death under the President’s veto pen. The bill was, perhaps ironically, dead from the moment of its conception. Originally, the bill had no exception for the victims of rape and incest — and why would it? The supposed need for the bill was the contention — based in nothing even remotely resembling fact — that a fetus is capable of experiencing pain after 20 weeks. Are the fetuses of the victims of rape and incest immune to this supposed agony?
No, the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was meant to sidestep concerns about the woman seeking the abortion by putting the fetus front and center. The hope was that the people will believe junk science claims about fetal pain and allow legislators to ignore the rights of crime victims. In other words, the reason the bill didn’t exempt victims of rape and incest was because that was a big part of the point of the legislation — to set a precedent for banning abortion regardless of the method of conception.
And to get people used to the idea that maybe denying abortion rights to the victims of sexual violence wasn’t so bad.
But then the bill’s sponsor, Trent Franks, decided the time was ripe for some idiotic rape theorizing. This went over as well as these things always go over (anti-abortion zealots are shockingly slow learners on this subject) and an exemption for victims of sexual violence was quietly written into the legislation.
And that’s where Republicans exposed their dishonesty.
Imagine this all from the perspective of someone who believed every word in the original bill. What you’re voting for is a law against torturing babies to death. Assuming that’s what you really believed, would you then support an exception to that law? Would you support allowing a woman to torture her baby to death, just because that child was conceived through rape or incest? I’m kind of thinking you would not. Not in a million years. It would be playing politics in an unconscionable way. In writing in an exception for victims of rape and incest, Republicans proved that the rationale behind the bill was just an excuse, that “fetal pain” wasn’t something they actually believed in.
Truth be told, the bill existed because the base demanded it. The hardcore anti-abortion-types saw an opportunity to exploit the grisly case of back alley butcher Kermit Gosnell and managed to convince themselves that all of America was as up in arms about it as they were. Speaker John Boehner spilled the beans on that count, when asked if the vote would further erode his party’s chances with women.
“No,” he answered. “Listen, after this Kermit Gosnell trial and some of the horrific acts that were going on, the vast majority of the American people believe in the substance of this bill and so do I.” Like the existence of fetal pain, there’s no evidence at all that the American people support this thing. Another Republican with a better grasp on reality said of the vote, “The stupidity is simply staggering.”
Somewhere along the line, the Republican Party seems to have decided they always need some demographic to attack. And apparently it’s now women. In addition to assaults on abortion rights, they’ve been incredibly insensitive about the crisis of sexual assault in the military. Saxby Chambliss argued that when men and women are put together, rape is going to happen — because that’s just natural. Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto thinks that this obsessive concern with so-called “rape” is just an “effort to criminalize male sexuality” as part of a “war on men.” They’ve gone from downplaying rape to denying it even exists. In their minds — or, at least, in their arguments — rape is just dating.
“I’m of the opinion now… that if you really were to question [Republicans], that there is a sort of continuity of thought that rape is really not so bad and that the likelihood of getting pregnant is small,” Rep. Louise Slaughter said yesterday. While her statement is certain to draw a fair amount of victim cards, it’s hard to seriously argue that she’s not right.
And it’s hard to see this new trend of downplaying rape for political purposes — or denying it even exists — working out well for the party in the long run. They lost women in a big way in 2012. This is definitely not the way to win them back.
[photo by WeNews]
Wisconsin Gov. Walker joins War on Women.
ThinkProgress: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has thrown his support behind an anti-abortion measure that’s currently moving through the state legislature, saying he will sign the bill into law if it makes it to his desk. SB 206 would require women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion — which would mandate an invasive transvaginal probe for some of the women who seek early abortions in their first trimester — and force one of the state’s last abortion clinics to close its doors.
“I don’t have any problem with ultrasound,” Walker told reporters on Tuesday in Milwaukee. “I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.”
Forced ultrasound bills mandate a medically unnecessary procedure that would otherwise be left up to the discretion of a woman and her doctor. Medical experts, including the largest national group representing thousands of OB-GYNs across the country, are opposed to this type of legislation because they say it interferes with their work and compromises their relationships with patients. “All of a sudden, the Senate is full of doctors,” Wisconsin Sen. Tim Cullen (D) said in reference to SB 206′s advancement.
You know, I would very much like Scooter to explain to me exactly what it is that women supposedly don’t know about their pregnancies. What new information would an ultrasound give them? What bit of ignorance about their own bodies is this supposed to clear up? Be specific please: just how incredibly stupid do you anti-choicers believe that women are?
The truth is that they’re simply a roadblock to getting an abortion; just one more hoop to jump through, in the hopes that some women will think it’s not worth the effort. In short, the explanation for why this unnecessary procedure should be required are lies. As always, the most fanatically religious among us are the biggest liars and the least trustworthy Americans.
Of course, this is just Walker’s way of shoring up his conservative bona fides before a possible presidential run. He’s hoping that attacking women will excite the base enough to look past his inexcusably gross economic incompetence. But if we’ve learned one thing in recent years, it’s that this War on Women stuff may get you through the GOP primaries, but that this level of extremism will keep you out of the White House.
And thank goodness for that. Scott Walker is unfit to lead a sing-along, let alone a nation.
Former GOP campaign staffer busted for waging his own personal War on Women.
Raw Story: A former intern for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was arrested Tuesday over an alleged sexual extortion scheme.
In a press release, the FBI said 21-year-old Adam Savader allegedly stalked 15 different women from three states between May 2012 and this past February.
The New York Daily News reported that Savader was a political science major at SUNY Farmingdale. He had worked on the political campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, and Romney.
Savader claimed to have nude photos of the women, and threatened to release the photos unless they sent him more. He demanded that one woman answer “a series of personal questions, relating to sexual preferences, positions, etc.,” according to a FBI complaint. He also informed at least two women that he was masturbating to their stolen pictures.
“I swear on all that is holy. If you fuck with me again I will send these to your parents. I have no problem sending them to ur [sic] parents, friends and sorority sisters unless you cooperate by answering me,” he allegedly told one woman.
Some of the victims attended the same high school as Savader, according to the complaint.
The fact that Savader had also worked for Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich says a lot. It’s pretty obvious that his little game here was about satisfying his sexual fetish for exerting control over women — which makes campaigning for Romney, Ryan, and Gingrich sort of a natural choice.
War on Women May Be More Wide-Ranging Than the GOP Realizes.
I’m not a big fan of the headline Mother Jones chose for Kate Sheppard’s piece on the GOP’s ongoing attacks on reproductive freedom. “Progressives Advise GOP: Back Off On the War on Women” has the distinct flavor of concern trolling. But it turns out to be accurate; two progressive groups have advised the Republican Party to knock off the War on Women, because it’s losing them elections.
It was clear in both the lead up to and the aftermath of the November 2012 election that Republican candidates are not faring well among women voters. From Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to Mitt Romney’s 11-point loss among women voters, it became painfully clear that the GOP has a lady problem. A new memo from a pair of liberal groups that pulls together some of the polling figures makes a strong case for paying more attention to this divide.
The memo, from Stephanie Schriock of EMILY’s List and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, notes that even the Republican National Committee’s own post-election report found that, “[Women] represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections.” But while Republicans have made some effort to soften the party’s positioning on issues like immigration and LGBT rights, the party has not moderated its stance on reproductive rights or other issues of interest to many women voters.
The memo points to the unprecedented attack on access to abortion underway in states like North Dakota and Arkansas, the 160 Republicans that voted against the Violence Against Women Act at the federal level, and the ongoing fights over both contraception coverage and cuts to the federal family planning budget.
“If the GOP wants to move forward, help its image and win elections, it should halt its embrace of extreme and out-of-touch policies that attack women and their families,” the memo states [pdf]. “Ending attacks on abortion rights in the states would be a start.”
But the fact is that these attacks on reproductive freedom hurt more than just the shortsighted party launching them. They hurt the women in those states. Even in the best-case scenario, 2014 isn’t going to be a Democratic march to victory in all 50 state legislatures and governorships, getting them to realize their folly is at least worth a shot. If we can get the GOP to stop attacking women’s health, there would be a lot less misery in this country.
And the issue is killing them.
“NARAL Pro-Choice America’s polling right after the election found that Romney’s view on abortion was the top reason for voting against him that swing-voting women cited in their survey,” Sheppard reports. “Planned Parenthood also used this issue to attack anti-choice politicians. Another post-election poll from Democracy Corps found that 33 percent of unmarried women listed the attacks on Planned Parenthood and women’s preventative health services as a top reason for voting against Romney.”
But it’s not just reproductive rights, it’s pretty much the GOP ideology in general that’s hurting them with woman voters.
First Read, NBC News: Women are a key driver of support for legislation overhauling the nation’s gun and immigration laws, according to new data in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just as Congress prepares to take up major legislation on both of those issues.
Women outpace men in their support for stricter gun laws and immigration reform that provides undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, data which becomes more salient in light of the Republican Party’s effort to regain its footing with women voters after last fall’s elections.
The gender gap is most pronounced when it comes to the issue of stricter gun controls, legislation on which the Senate voted to begin consideration this Thursday.
65% of women (including 70% of self-identified mothers) want stricter laws on gun sales, compared with 44% of men. The War on Women is spreading to gun laws; not because Republicans are choosing to attack women over the issue, but because women are the ones showing up to fight.
And still doesn’t end there. Women are also more likely to be environmentalists and are more likely to support the idea of an “activist government” — i.e., to “say that government should do more for the poor, children and the elderly.”
If the GOP wants to win over more woman voters, they’ll need to realize that their problems with women are a lot deeper than just traditional “women’s issues” like reproductive health and freedom, equality, and education. To listen solely on choice issues and to ignore everything else would be to make the same mistake the party’s currently making with Latinos — that is, assuming that they’re single issue voters and that immigration is all they care about. Each demographic has a wide range of concerns and focusing solely one is to focus all your energy on merely making a dent. It’s a simpleminded 2D approach to intelligent people living in a complex 3D world.
Of course, it’s always possible that the GOP has just given up on women for precisely these reasons. That they’ve seen the same numbers and have decided they’d have to give up too much. Or that they think listening to what women have to say is just “pandering.” But this would be foolish. The Republican base is rapidly shrinking and the focus has to be on expanding that base. They’re going to have to give up some of their most cherished wedge issues.
If not, then they resign themselves to becoming a party of crackpots, cranks, and anachronisms. So far, that seems to be their preferred route.
[photo by League of Women Voters of California]
Rebranding Failing Because GOP Doesn’t Do Listening.
So, Republicans are now in the midst of their big rebranding effort that includes outreach to minority and female voters. Frankly, the woman voter outreach is going pretty lousy, because they’re doing it all wrong. You don’t take away people’s freedoms then ask them to reward you for it at the ballot box. If the GOP wants to win over women, it might be a good idea to stop with all the War on Women stuff.
But there’s always the minority outreach. Let’s see how that’s going…
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), in an interview with a local radio station released Thursday, referred to Latinos working on a ranch by using the derogatory term “wetbacks.”
“My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks and — to pick tomatoes,” Young said in the interview with KRBD. “You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
The term “wetback” is a slur often used to refer to illegal Mexican immigrants. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a Mexican who enters the United States illegally,” “from the practice of wading or swimming the Rio Grande where it forms the U.S.-Mexico border.”
OK, so that’s not doing it right either. Young later released what some are calling an apology, but is really just an explanation. There is no apology. “I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in central California,” he said. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”
In other words, “You’re wrong to be offended by what I said.”
“Just so we’re clear, it’s 2013,” Steve Benen reminds us. “Republicans were recently reminded not to use words like ‘aliens’ and ‘anchor babies’ when referring to Hispanics, but apparently that advice was not all-encompassing enough, since we still have at least one congressman using the word ‘wetback’ — on the air — as if it were perfectly acceptable.”
This comes on the heels of a Republican National Committeeman posting a homophobic screed on his Facebook page. And the committeeman, Dave Agema, isn’t apologetic. He likewise released a statement of explanation, claiming to be the victim of harassment and playing the Helen Lovejoy “Won’t somebody please think of the children!?” card, saying someone has to post these hateful lies, because “It’s about maintaining the family and its importance to the well being of the children and this nation.”
“And here’s the problem with the wise, beltway-driven Rebranding effort,” writes Dave Weigel. “You’re a D.C. Republican consultant who gets booked on TV to talk about the glories of gay marriage? Good for you. I agree with you! But most of your party adamantly disagrees with you, and these people know how to write or say things that can make their way onto the Internet.”
Reince Priebus may think the GOP needs to change it’s image, but other than saying maybe they might possibly give an inch someday on immigration reform, no one seems willing to actually change anything. They don’t want to change their policies, they don’t want to change their language, they don’t want to change anything. They’ve just decided to declare themselves friendlier to people they so far haven’t removed from their enemies list. “No abortions or birth control for you, you whore!… Now vote for me because I’m pro-woman.”
You can’t change the perception without changing the party — and people who think they can change the party need to check the dictionary and see what “conservative” means. It doesn’t mean open to change. In fact, I always say that when a Republican talks about change, you should watch out — it means he wants to change things back the way they were when they sucked. The party doesn’t look to the future, it looks back at the fifties and wonders why we changed from that.
The perception of the party won’t change until the party members change. And they’re not willing to do that. In fact, most are probably incapable of doing that. And incidents like Young’s keep happening because of another conservative trait: they’re lecturers. They don’t listen, the dictate. It’s why these Republicans keep saying stupid and offense things — then explain why they aren’t gaffes, instead of apologizing. The GOP is a strict, top-down hierarchy where elites tell everyone below them what to think. Why do you think talk radio works so well for the right? They don’t think they have to change, they think you have to change. They’ll explain why you have to change until you do. Todd Akin thought he was winning voters to the Republican cause by educating them about rape and abortion. And take a look at Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson — all he ever talks about is how wrong everyone else is and how they need to listen to his teachings and become enlightened. Republicans tell, they aren’t told. Not by voters, anyway.
And not, apparently, by Reince Priebus and the RNC.
[original photo by MACSwriter]