“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things. One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” ~ Butch Hancock
“Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.” ~ Mary Wollstonecraft
If that new unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes is at all accurate, sushi is “liberal food” – banned at Fox News headquarters across the street from Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan, which is thus at the center of a city full of liberals, a city that just elected an unapologetic radically progressive liberal as their new mayor, and a city full of sushi bars. Roger Ailes, who has run Fox News for Rupert Murdoch from the start, must feel besieged, or at least outnumbered, and if that sushi detail is true, he seems to feel a need to pay close attention to minor cultural markers. The core demographic for Fox News, the NASCAR and NRA crowd, and angry white retirees and them there Southern boys, and anyone who’s perpetually angry but can’t quite say why, don’t eat no sushi. They have other cultural markers. They have Country and Western music, which liberals loathe. After the attacks of that one September 11, quite a few years ago now, much of that was defiant songs about kicking some raghead ass, because we’re America, damn it, and no one messes with us. It was basic revenge-porn, mixed with a few jingoistic anthems about small-town folks and apple pie and motherhood. That was the Norman Rockwell in Nashville stuff – but then the whole genre reverted to the norm – sad tales of the woman who had left because you’d been a fool, or the man, or broken pick-up trucks and the dog that died. It’s the music of a world where everything seems to go wrong, where you have no power to change anything, where if it weren’t for bad luck you’d have no luck at all. To be fair, that last formulation was a parody of such songs from a weekly variety show that had the Country and Western crowd poking fun at itself – but that only meant that they themselves knew all too well that this was far too often the music of useless whiners. It’s the music of those who see themselves as powerless and victimized unfairly, who then don’t do much about whatever it is that has them so aggrieved, other than whine or lash out. There’s massive defensiveness in there too. These are Roger Ailes’ people.
That’s fine. The music is appropriate, because the folks on the right are having a bit of bad luck at the moment. Maybe that bridge scandal was a learning experience for Chris Christie and he’s now ready to be president, but probably not. This is turning out to be a story about a fat New Jersey bully, just another nasty political boss, or the story of a would-be thug who generally has no clue about what is going on around him and ends up whining a lot, which would mean that he’s even bad at being a bully. He’s toast, but Virginia’s Bob McDonnell seems to be taking Chris Christie’s place as America’s most dreadful governor – just after McDonnell left office he was indicted six ways from Sunday for all the “gifts” he and his wife had accepted and never reported. He was using his office to live large, and for not much else – and at one time folks thought he was a contender. Jon Stewart had a great deal of fun with those two. That’s not good, but then there was this:
Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator and best-selling author, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate. According to an indictment made public on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, D’Souza around August 2012 reimbursed people who he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate’s campaign.
Who’s he? He’s this guy:
Born in Mumbai, India, D’Souza, 52, is a former policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and has been affiliated with conservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He also directed a 2012 film critical of President Barack Obama, “2016: Obama’s America,” and has written books including “The End of Racism,” “Life after Death: The Evidence” and “Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream.”
He’s the guy who came up with the theory that Obama’s anti-colonial mindset was something that Obama somehow learned from his absent father and meant Obama was out to destroy America, a kind of Mau-Mau thing, which Newt Gingrich said explained everything you needed to know about Obama. Now D’Souza been caught trying to fix elections here, with big chunks of anonymous cash so it’s hard times on the right. Both Joan Walsh and Andrew Sullivan have long items on how the Republicans are running out of likely candidates for the next presidential run – and now one of their Big Thinkers had been caught doing very bad things, if you believe free and fair elections should settle matters of public policy. Republicans are now singing songs about how if it weren’t for bad luck they’d have no luck at all. There’s a reason they like Country and Western music, although some of them believe that they can change their luck:
Republicans are risking the next Todd Akin to go on the offensive on abortion.
After their failed 2012 bid to retake the Senate, Republicans vowed to talk about Obamacare, jobs, and the economy – and to keep abortion out of the spotlight. It’s easy to see why. Talking about abortion doomed Republican runs in two states: Missouri, where Akin’s “legitimate rape” verbiage ignited a national firestorm; and Indiana, where candidate Richard Mourdock sealed his fate with controversial comments about rape and pregnancy.
And so while Republican-led state legislatures have worked aggressively – and successfully – to push state-level abortion restrictions, the national party has preferred to focus its rhetoric elsewhere.
2014 isn’t 2012, however, and national Republicans are now wading back into the fray. But this time, they hope to talk about the issue in a way that paints their opponents – rather than their candidates – as the extremists.
It’s simple. If they can make everything about recriminalizing abortion, taking away what many women (and quite a few men) see as a basic right guaranteed by established law, and something politicians, particularly old white men in Washington, should keep their hands off, without making this seem like some sort of War on Women, then they’ll win big, because… something. That’s where it gets a little hazy. It’s unclear whether the vast majority of Americans, that everyone always invokes, thinks the government should step in now and change the law to what it used to be long ago. This is a pressing issue for some, mainly the religious right, but even the new Pope has said give it a rest. It is one thing to ride a groundswell of public opinion, but it is another to convince people there is one when there just isn’t, but that’s not how they see it:
“Pro-life candidates should be making voters understand that their opponent who has a pro-choice position probably wants to use taxpayer money for abortions, would support late-term abortions, and does not think parents should be involved,” says Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “They are the candidates that are out of step with the voters.”
To encourage Republicans to frame the issue this way, the Republican National Committee is introducing a resolution at its meeting this week that cites public polling on some of these limitations. The authors call on GOP candidates to “reject a strategy of silence” and fight back against what they call the Democrats’ “deceptive rhetoric” that is “demonizing them and manipulating voters.”
And Republican leadership is declaring abortion an important fight to have this cycle. “I can make this promise,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a sermon-like speech at the March for Life rally Wednesday. “The people’s House will stand for life.”
And the nation yawned, and the Republicans once knew better:
Just last March, the RNC produced a 100-page “autopsy” examining the party’s failures in the 2012 election and included a call to be more “welcoming” on social issues. The word “abortion” never appears in the report, but the allusion is clear.
“When it comes to social issues, the party must in fact and in deed be inclusive and welcoming,” reads the report. “If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.”
The report was not exactly embraced by the GOP’s social conservative wing. And now, with Wednesday’s call for action on abortion, it’s clear that wing is not standing down as it heads into the November midterm elections.
Okay, fine, that’s settled. Just don’t make this a war on women. In fact, turn the tables – talk about the Democrats’ War on Women. That’s the first step if any of this is going to work, and Mike Huckabee, who is seriously thinking about running for president again, decided to take that baby out for a spin:
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) said Thursday that Republicans need to take a more combative attitude toward winning the votes of women, by emphasizing that women aren’t weaklings in need of help from the government.
“I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women,’” Huckabee said during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington. “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Huckabee said Democrats rely on women believing they are weaker than men and in need of government handouts, including the contraception mandate in Obamacare.
Huckabee said Democrats tell women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
Ed Kilgore is puzzled by this:
Let’s get this straight: Republicans are fighting for the empowerment of women by telling them Uncle Sugar should keep them from having abortions, using birth control methods that some religious leaders (unlike medical and scientific experts) have deemed “abortifacients,” and asking for equal pay as a right, not a request. A ban on abortion and curbs on birth control, moreover, empower women to control their libidos, which are clearly a threat to public order, not to mention Old Testament patriarchy.
Actually, that’s about it, and Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog adds this:
Is there any effective difference between what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke (“She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex”) and what Huckabee said today?
I guess the only problem with what Limbaugh said two years ago, as far as Republicans are concerned, was that he said it in a presidential election year, when infrequent voters show up at the polls and Republicans try to avoid offending them, rather than in a midterm election year like this year, when the point for the GOP is to turn out the angry base.
That may be the key difference. This may be a something that will be dropped when 2016 actually rolls around, but it’s all they’ve got now. On the other hand, Democrats tell women they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.
What? The blogger BooMan tries to unravel that:
I understand that he’s putting words in the Democrats’ mouths, but what is he really saying? I think he’s saying that anyone who can’t afford birth control pills needs to remain abstinent. And he’s saying that women are strong enough to go without sex for their entire lives unless and until they have enough money for birth control. I don’t think he’s even contemplating the possibility of a woman being coerced into having sex, or feeling that they have no choice but to exchange sex to alleviate their poverty. He definitely isn’t thinking about poor women’s desire to avoid having more children than they can afford, which may well be none.
Now, it’s also possible that Huckabee is just opposed to birth control regardless of who pays for it. He’s not Catholic, but maybe he feels that way. I don’t know. I just think it’s a strange argument that poor women should go without birth control. And it’s an even stranger argument that women should just go buy it in cash rather than having it covered as part of their preventative health care package. I don’t know if Huckabee is aware of this, but pregnancy can be hazardous to your health. A lot of woman cannot safely carry a baby to term, and many others can only do so at great personal risk. So, it’s not like this isn’t a valid healthcare concern.
Finally, insurance companies know that pregnancy is expensive and potentially complicated, which is why they are perfectly happy to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies.
I don’t even know who Huckabee is talking to. Who are the people who think he makes sense?
At Raw Story, one wag puts it this way:
Good news ladies!
God-bothering huckster (who is not Rick Santorum) and perennial presidential nominee runner-up (who is still not Rick Santorum) Mike Huckabee has your back, or maybe in this case your front, in the Democrat’s War on Women. Yes, it is the Democrats War on Women, not like you have heard. It seems that the Democrats are cynically getting you hooked on birth control (whore pills, harlot heroin, slut Pez) in order to get your vote and probably also into your pants where they will do things … bad things … sex-type things. Taking a lesson from the same business model that drug dealers use, the Democrats will make Obamacare give you your first taste of sweet sexual freedom so that you can ride the man-hog with impunity and after that you will come back for more sex drugs …which will also be free.
Actually, that is what Huckabee is saying, and Bill Kristol did say that Mike Huckabee would beat Chris Christie in the race for the Republican nomination, and he’s the editor of the Weekly Standard, the home of everything Republican, and the man who said the Iraq War would be short and easy, because the idea that the Sunnis and Shiites couldn’t get along was a bit of an urban myth, and the man who almost singlehandedly convinced the McCain team to go with Sarah Palin – so he knows things.
The feminist blogger Echidne also knows things:
Note that the social conservatives don’t believe that good women have a libido. Good women are only supposed to have sex when they want children. Probably while closing their eyes, staying very, very still and thinking of the Tea Party or the Fibonacci series or what to cook for him tomorrow.
In the conservative worldview, only sluts have a libido, but in any case (and at the same time!) all men have a giant libido and women have little postage stamp libidos and that’s why women must be the gate-keepers in the sexual marketplace. That’s also why conservatives never try to control the male libido, or notice that the birth control women get actually does sorta benefit heterosexual men as it takes two to tango.
Well, that’s not the real explanation, that “why” in my last sentence. It’s the conservative way of looking at only women’s behavior when it comes to sex.
If so, then the coming elections, for two years, will be each side calling the other perverts – either sluts or patriarchal puritan blue-noses scared silly by female sexuality. That should be fun. Sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love? They’ll be saying that sooner or later too. Right now they’re just talking about the evil of incentivizing horny women with birth control. Cool.
There’s now a second front in this effort too:
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday said that the federal government uses welfare to “lure” women into “servitude.”
“We need to encourage and incentivize young women, not declare war on them by leading them into ruts like the Democrats did. You want to see who cares? It’s the people that try to help them reach their potential, not lure them into servitude away from it,” Gohmert said on “Fox and Friends,” while arguing that welfare checks make women dependent on the government. “So, the problem is the government, not those single moms.”
You see, the Democrats are the ones waging a war on women, by helping them out in hard times. If single moms and poor women knew there would never be any help, then… something. It really is unclear how offering no help is actually offering help – but at least this guy isn’t obsessed with the most awful, filthy thing on earth – female sexuality. He simply got the memo. Turn the tables on the Democrats.
One should also note the venue:
Gohmert thanked “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade for letting him clear the air.
“Literally, Brian, thank God for Fox News,” Gohmert said. “You give the truth out.”
Yeah, and no one eats sushi there either. Think of that famous Fats Waller tune I Want Some Seafood, Mama – where the man is not really talking about the joy of eating fish. Many knew that was a sly song about the man eating something else entirely, so seafood is out at Fox News, where what music there is probably is Country and Western whining about bad luck. But that’s fine. That’s all they seem to have over on that side now.