BONUS FUN: everything conservatives think they know about Sandra Fluke is wrong.
Rand Paul’s Answer to Poverty: Wage More War on Women.
I’ve never been extremely impressed with Kentucky’s freshman Senator Rand Paul. He seems keenly proud of his own brilliance — despite the fact that few people other than himself can manage to find any evidence of it. His desire to be a Senator seems to stem more from his need to be a Very Important Person than his desire to serve his country. And you don’t take it upon yourself to respond to the President’s State of the Union Address — in no official capacity whatsoever — unless you think people need to appreciate the beneficent fruits of your towering intellect.
In short, Rand Paul is an incredible egotist, made even more insufferable by the fact that he’s not actually all that smart. He’s five gallons of smart in a 50 gallon drum — and the rest of the barrel is filled up by bullcrap. That’s my impression. And it’s an impression he recently did very little to dispell.
ThinkProgress: At a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, KY, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.Want to take a guess at how good this policy is at eliminating poverty? ThinkProgress goes on to report that it doesn’t make a dent in poverty at all, because duh. In fact, many of the states that had implemented such a cap are in the process of undoing it.
While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.”
The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain number of children is actually current policy in many states. While most programs through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) give families more money if they have more children, 16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.
But worse than Paul’s ignorance of the consequence of his proposal is his complete unawareness that Republican policies could possibly be contributing to any of this. Your party reduces the number of abortion clinics by regulating them out of business and fights to keep women from getting contraceptive coverage in their health insurance — both of which affect women in poverty to a far greater degree than anyone else — and then you complain that poor women have too many children?
Seriously, how stupid do you actually have to be? And Tea Party darling Rand Paul can STFU about “individual liberty” now, because you know who else thinks having the government limit the size of families is a good idea? China. For someone who claims to be on the side of freedom, Rand Paul — like pretty much ever Republican official out there — sure spends a lot of time thinking up new ways to micromanage women’s lives. The word these guys are looking for here isn’t “liberty,” it’s “totalitarianism.”
The whole thing is idiotic beyond words and Sen. Poodlehair here seems to be convinced that it’s the most common sense thing in the world. Why? Because he’s a Republican, that’s why. For Republicans, the solution to every problem is to find the right person to punish, then you punish them hard and punish them long — unless they’re wealthy. That’s why they don’t believe in global warming; they can’t figure out how beating poor people, women, and minorities with ax handles would solve the problem. So it must not exist.
For them, it’s create a problem, then complain about the people the problem affects. That’s how geniuses like Rand Paul operate.
You really wish those geniuses were rare.
[photo by Gage Skidmore]
To Republicans, sexism doesn’t exist and the War on Women is just boys being boys.
Steve Benen ticks off just a few of the reasons why Republican denials of a War on Women are laughable horsecrap:
- Republicans have gone after Texas gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis (D) over the details of her personal family history. One Texas Republican eventually conceded, “If this involved a man running for office, none of this would ever come up.”
- Mike Huckabee delivered a bizarre speech to the RNC in which he argued that Democrats believe women require government mandated contraception access because women can’t control their libidos.
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued Hillary Clinton can be criticized for Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky affair 19 years ago because “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”
- Republican state policymakers continue to push new restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, including a proposed 30-day waiting period in Louisiana.
- Sean Hannity suggested yesterday the creation of an “Adopt-A-Woman Birth Control Program” as an alternative to guaranteeing contraception access in federal health care law.
- Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wrote a book in which he argued wives should “voluntarily submit” to their husbands.
- Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck in Colorado explained his opposition to abortion rights by comparing pregnancy to cancer, which is why he doesn’t think a woman should “be in control of her body.”
- Republican congressional hopeful Dick Black in Virginia opposes making spousal rape a crime and has called military rape “as predictable as human nature.”
All this is why the GOP chose a woman to respond to the State of the Union last night — to remind people that there are some women Republicans too. And Benen quotes New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman — another Republican woman — to explain why that’s not good enough:
It’s hard for me to phrase this politely. Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party. It is not about the messenger. It’s about the message. And until we figure that one out, while it’s nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson, if the message itself doesn’t get changed a bit, it’s not going to work.
But Republicans are so invested in this anti-woman crusade of theirs that they couldn’t change even if they realize that it’s what’s costing them women’s votes. The fact that they feel absolutely comfortable saying these sorts of things in the full light of day is proof enough of that.
This has somehow become a core principle of modern Republicanism — that women are just children who can’t be trusted to make good decisions for themselves. Republicans can no more drop it now than they could get their arms around the idea that taxes are necessary.
They make the same mistake over and over and over because they think it’s not a mistake. It’s Republican Gospel. And if you find it offensive or demeaning, then they think maybe you should have your husband explain it to you, little lady.
But don’t expect Republican men to change, because they won’t. They’ve got a fucked up idea of masculinity — as evidenced by the religious right, gay panic, and an irrational fear of being “feminized" — so regarding women as fully human and equal somehow seems to mean that they wouldn’t be men anymore. Give a damn what women think and — Which-aa! — you’re “whipped.”
The GOP’s nightmare scenario is now: cascading stupidity effect under way.
Just a little something to back up my earlier post arguing that attempts to spin away the GOP’s War on Women only serve to prove it’s real.
Right Wing Watch: On Friday, Allen West spoke with Steve Malzberg where he defended Mike Huckabee’s recent comment by declaring that “the Left tries to win the women’s vote by talking from the waist down” while Republicans seek to reach the hearts and minds of female voters.Asserting that Democrats want the government to be “the sugar daddy” and replace men, West said Democrats have been “caught guilty as always” and are responding by attacking Huckabee. He then went on to claim that the Left remains utterly silent when women like Malala Yousafzai are abused and attacked by the Taliban before declaring that “I’m going to be very blunt: the Left tries to win the women’s vote by talking from the waist down.”
See, because women aren’t really concerned about all that contraception and reproductive health stuff — or if they are, then they’re wrong. Only Republican men like Allen West and Mike Huckabee know what’s important to women, so listen up and learn, ladies.
But this is also the beginning of the nightmare scenario, where one moron says one very stupid thing and other morons rush to defend him because that’s what they think you do when conservatives get criticized. This is what the GOP has been trying very, very hard to avoid and most likely won’t be able to. You can’t spend years encouraging this sort of thing and expect to be able to shut it off when it turns out to be bad politics. These people are going to engage in insane and clueless sexism because that’s modern conservatism. It’s what Limbaugh does every day, it’s what rightwing blogs do every day, so it’s absolutely normal and not at all crazy to these guys. They’re going to keep doing it because they just don’t know any better.
And West is probably more popular in the base than Huckabee — meaning that even more people will likely come forward to defend him. Then others will come out to defend them. And cetera and cetera and cetera, until the unofficial Republican position will be that women who care about reproductive health and freedom are just loose, slutty morons being preyed upon by Democrats.
That’s exactly the wrong way to convince people you’re not waging a sexist War on Women. But it’s exactly what the base believes.
How Not to Deny You’re Waging a War on Women.
You may need a refresher on Virginia state Sen. Dick Black, a far-right Republican who just doesn’t get how marital rape can be a thing. If so, here’s Mother Jones’ Molly Redden’s reporting on the subject from January 15.
After taking a drubbing in last year’s state elections, Virginia Republicans are debating whether their party has come to be defined by its extremists. But in a congressional district in Northern Virginia, one of the state’s main instigators of culture warfare, state Sen. Richard H. “Dick” Black, is running in the Republican primary to replace longtime GOP moderate Rep. Frank Wolf, who is retiring. And he’s guaranteed to ignite wedge-issue passion. Exhibit A: As a state legislator, Black opposed making spousal rape a crime, citing the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife “when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth.”Last week, we got the not-unwelcome news that Black was dropping out of that race. Black said he was staying in the state Senate to “maintain our 20/20 split,” but there’s good reason to believe that he was pushed out. Black is exactly the kind of candidate establishment Republicans don’t want running in November — the kind who uses hard-ass conservativism to be a jerk and troll everyone who isn’t a true believer. Maybe he could’ve won the district or maybe he couldn’t have. But he would’ve been guaranteed to engage in jackass antics that would make national waves and make the party look bad as a whole. And, as I pointed out last week, Black’s not the only candidate that Republicans have who’s making trouble for the GOP as a whole.
Black has referred to emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, as "baby pesticide." Black also fought to block a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a former Confederate site in Richmond. He wasn’t sure, he explained at the time, that statues of Lincoln belonged in Virginia. He has argued that abortion is a worse evil than slavery. And once, to demonstrate why libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn.
But a bigger problem for the party might just come from non-candidates who they can’t force out of the spotlight; Brainiacs who think they’ve mastered the art of spin and think that they can fix the party’s problems freelance. You know, masterminds like Mike Huckabee, whose attempt to spin away the the GOP’s “War on Women” label only managed to confirm it.
And then there’s serial headline-grabber/foot-in-mouth inserter Rand Paul, who decided — like Huckabee — that it’s Democrats who are waging a war on women because Bill and Hillary:
Political Wire: Said Paul: “One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and it is predatory behavior.”The best response I’ve come across to this insane false equivalence comes from DPM at Balloon Juice; “Clearly, one instance of sexual harassment almost twenty years ago requires, as I’m sure any serious Burkean would agree, that women pay for their own contraception for the rest of recorded time without further comment.” And of course, there’s the invasive and unnecessary ultrasound laws and the voter suppression and the candidates like Black who think it’s impossible to rape your wife and your talk show hosts who think women who use birth control are sluts and you get the idea.
He noted that “sometimes it’s hard to separate” Bill and Hillary Clinton and then added, “And then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it’s a factor. It’s not Hillary’s fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton and history.”
And of course, since the most recent example of a dem War on Women that Sen. Poodlehair could come up with was two decades ago, you kind of get the idea that evidence of said WoW is laughably slim. And one guy engaging in office shenanigans with one intern is not at all the same as an entire political party wanting to invade women’s bodies with ultrasound wands to punish them for daring to exercise their right to an abortion. That it’s the same as chasing them away from the polls. That it’s equal to not allowing health insurance to cover contraception, because forcing employees to abide by their employers’ religious beliefs is somehow some bass-ackard kind of “religious freedom.”
That’s the worst part of all this; that Huckabee or Paul don’t get — or pretend not to get — what’s wrong with all of this. That they don’t get why women might not be all that pleased with middle aged Republican men micromanaging their lives. That they think that women are dumb enough to fall for these idiotic arguments.
In trying to deny there’s a Republican War on Women, these people are waging one. They’re doing it badly. And it hurts.
Republicans may be able to scare off candidates like Dick Black with backroom talks about funding and donors, but the guys like Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, who aren’t running for anything at the moment, they’re going to be a trickier problem. They think they’re smart enough to straighten this whole War on Women thing out on their own — and they’re so not.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]
The members of the Republican National Committee gathered in Washington this week. On Thursday, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate, was the featured speaker. “The Democrats,” Huckabee declared, “want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
The creepy, condescending-uncle image, the retrograde attitude toward sex: Huckabee managed to illustrate exactly the phenomenon he was trying to decry, the perception that Republicans don’t know how to talk to or about women. Democrats were gleeful. Within hours, liberal groups had bombarded reporters with outraged statements, the White House press secretary had called the remark “offensive,” and MSNBC was playing the clip over and over (chyron: “HUCKED UP”). “If this is the GOP rebrand a year later, then all they’ve gotten is a year older,” gloated the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Read more. [Image: Susan Walsh/Associated Press]