Thursday Reads: Republican Wars on Women, Children, and the Poor . . . Plus Mormon White Supremacy and Michelle Cottle’s War on SarcasmPosted: October 25, 2012
Today I’m leaving the Boston area and driving to Indiana to stay with my mother for a few weeks. I should be able to keep up my blogging schedule most of the time. I’m going to miss Sky Dancing today, but I’ll check in when I stop for the night. I should get to Indiana on Friday evening. But before I leave, I have some interesting reads to share with you.
I’ll begin with war on women updates.
Via Kaili Joy Gray at dailykos, CNN posted a piece yesterday in which they claim to have found a “study” that shows that women’s voting behavior is dictated by their menstrual cycles. There must have been quite a backlash, because CNN later took the post down and replaced it with a statement saying that the content didn’t meet CNN’s “editorial standards.” Fortunately Kaili Joy Gray found the the article elsewhere and posted the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:
The researchers [Kristina Durante of the University of Texas, San Antonio and colleagues] found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%, Durante said. This seems to be the driver behind the researchers’ overall observation that single women were inclined toward Obama and committed women leaned toward Romney.
Here’s how Durante explains this: When women are ovulating, they “feel sexier,” and therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality. Married women have the same hormones firing, but tend to take the opposite viewpoint on these issues, if you also take into consideration other hormonal issues, everything intensifies. for example if you look at what are the symptoms of low dhea you´d be surprised at how many of them you already have .she says.
“I think they’re overcompensating for the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men,” she said. It’s a way of convincing themselves that they’re not the type to give in to such sexual urges, she said.
Durante’s previous research found that women’s ovulation cycles also influence their shopping habits, buying sexier clothes during their most fertile phase.
Um…. Kristina? I have a question. What about us women of a certain age who no longer ovulate? How do we make our voting decisions? Go read the whole thing. You’ll never believe it otherwise.
[UPDATE: I just noticed that JJ posted about the CNN story last night–sorry for any repetition]
As of late last night Mitt Romney was still standing by Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who is now internationally famous for saying the following in a candidates’ debate on Tuesday night.
“You know, this is that issue that every candidate for federal or even state office faces. And I have to certainly stand for life. I know that there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have on abortion is in that case—of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Of course Paul Ryan will support Mourdock because Ryan even more extreme views on abortion–he believes it should be abolished in every case, even if her life is in danger from her pregnancy. Mourdock later claimed that he didn’t mean to say that god wills women to be raped, just that god insists that if a raped women gets pregnant, she must carry and give birth to her rapist’s offspring.
As of last night Mourdock was not backing down.
Mourdock, meanwhile, dove into damage control Wednesday, explaining that he abhors violence of any kind and regrets that some may have misconstrued and “twisted” his comments. But he stood behind the original remark in Tuesday night’s debate.
“I spoke from my heart. And speaking from my heart, speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I would not apologize. I would be less than faithful if I said anything other than life is precious, I believe it’s a gift from God,” Mourdock said at a news conference Wednesday.
I have to say that I think forcing a woman to carry her rapist’s baby is pretty violent and will certainly cause her to endlessly reexperience the violence of the rape.
Yesterday, Ayn Rand fanboy and VP candidate Paul Ryan gave a speech about how he wants to help the poor by taking away the social safety net. Here’s Jonathan Chait’s take on the speech: Paul Ryan: No, I Want to Help the Poor! Really!
Paul Ryan, the celebrated Republican idea man, delivered a speech today entitled “Restoring the Promise of Upward Mobility in America’s Economy.” Upward mobility is a vital concept for Ryan. He is the author of a plan that would, as budget expert Robert Greenstein put it, “produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.” Upward mobility is Ryan’s constant answer to this objection. In his telling, his plans would make the economy more open and free, making it easier for the poor to rise and the rich to fall. As Ryan says, “We believe that Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility instead of a stagnant, government-directed economy that stifles job creation and fosters government dependency.”
Of course, as Chait points out, Ryan’s plan to “help the poor” is complete bullsh*t.
So, what does Ryan have to offer in defense of his promise to “restore upward mobility?” He offers a riff about the importance of education reform, without either explaining what such a policy would entail or how it would differ from the very aggressive education reforms the Obama administration has implemented. He praises the role of private charity, suggesting that rolling back government assistance for the poor will encourage the private sector to step in, a decidedly shaky proposition.
Mostly, he talks about welfare reform. There is a consensus that welfare as we knew it did create serious cultural pathologies. Ryan cites the case of welfare reform frequently. To him, it proves that large cuts to programs that help poor people of any kind at all are not only harmless but will help the poor. “The welfare-reform mindset hasn’t been applied with equal vigor across the spectrum of anti-poverty programs,” he says. Thus he proposes enormous cuts — to children’s health-insurance grants, Head Start, food stamps, and, especially, Medicaid, which would have to throw about half its current beneficiaries off their coverage under his proposal.
What a guy! And he even has “scientific” support for his policies:
Ryan noted that Americans born into poor families are more likely to stay poor as adults than Americans born into wealthy families.
No kidding! And Ryan knows whereof he speaks, since he was born into a wealthy family. It’s so generous of him to want to help the irresponsible 47 percent.
I’ve been kind of sarcastic in this post, haven’t I? Does that bother you? According to Michelle Cottle of The Daily Beast, women don’t like sarcasm. In fact she wrote a story based largely on anonymous sources claiming that the women of “Hillaryland” were annoyed and offended by the sarcasm that President Barack Obama used on Mitt Romney in the third presidential debate Monday night. I never heard of “Hillaryland” before so I read about it in Wikipedia.
Hillaryland was the self-designated name of a group of core advisors to Hillary Rodham Clinton, when she was First Lady of the United States and again when, as United States Senator, she was one of the Democratic Party candidates for President in the 2008 election.
The group included Huma Abedin, Patti Solis Doyle (credited with coining the name “Hillaryland”), Mandy Grunwald, Neel Lattimore, Ann Lewis, Evelyn Lieberman, Tamera Luzzatto, Capricia Marshall, Cheryl Mills, Minyon Moore, Lissa Muscatine, Neera Tanden, Melanne Verveer, and Maggie Williams.
Now I have no idea if Michelle Cottle actually talked to any of the women listed above, because she doesn’t name names. She just claims that Hillary supporters hated Obama’s debate performance. Cottle writes:
How snarky was President Obama in his final debate with Mitt Romney?
He was scornful enough that, during the midst of the matchup, Hillaryland insiders were circulating amongst themselves a twit pic featuring that kick-ass photo of Hillary in her shades, captioned by Obama’s infamous put-down from one of their ’08 debates: “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”
Message: the arch, condescending Obama that so chafed Hillary backers was back with a vengeance.
That was the extent of Cottle’s references to “Hillaryland.” After the first two paragraphs of her piece, Cottle mostly quotes Republicans.
Many Dems cheered the sharp-quipped president, especially those demoralized by his sorry showing two debates ago in Denver. (As @JohnKerry tweeted, “I think POTUS just sank Romney’s battleship.”)
By contrast, Republicans were quick to proclaim shock and disgust at the president’s behavior. “We don’t have as many horses and bayonets as we used to, Mitt!” mimics Republican pollster Whit Ayres, his voice growing higher, shriller, and louder with each word. “I guess you didn’t learn much going to Harvard, did you, Mitt? How stupid are you, Mitt?!”
His voice coming back down to earth, Ayres huffs, “This is the president of the U.S. acting like a schoolyard bully.”
Oooooooh! A schoolyard bully? That sounds more like the Republican candidate to me.
As I noted above, Cottle even refers to “research” (which she doesn’t cite) that shows that women don’t like sarcasm. You couldn’t prove it by me. I think Cottle’s research is about as reliable as the “study” in the CNN piece I described above.
While you’re at The Daily Beast, I recommend reading Andrew Sullivan’s two posts on racism in the Mormon church and Mitt Romney’s failure to challenge it. Here’s the first post and the second post. Sullivan has also published some reader reactions in subsequent posts.
Finally, at Mother Jones, Tim Murphy asks if Romney supports corporal punishment of children. Romney has stated unequivocally that he opposes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I have the answer to Murphy’s question. Yes, Mitt believes in “whacking” children’s “bums,” according to his wife Ann
Ugh! But back to the MJ article. Murphy writes:
In July, the GOP presidential nominee wrote a letter to Virginia conservative activist Michael Farris, an evangelical power broker in the critical swing state, outlining his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which commits ratifying nations to protect children from discrimination. “My position on that convention is unequivocal: I would oppose Senate approval of the convention, and would not sign the convention for final ratification,” Romney wrote. “I believe that the best safeguard for the well-being and protection of children is the family, and that the primary safeguards for the legal rights of children in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the states.”
The UN CRC hasn’t received much mainstream attention, but it’s becoming a rallying cry on the far right, mostly because social conservatives fear that its passage would imperil the rights of parents to, among other things, use corporal punishment on their kids. The first bullet point in Farris’ 2009 fact sheet explaining his beef with the treaty warned that “[p]arents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.” (The second was that juveniles could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.) Thanks to the efforts of Farris and others, at least 37 GOP senators have announced their opposition to the treaty.
The fear of a national spanking ban extends beyond the realm of international law. When the Supreme Court upheld most portions of the Affordable Care Act, Farris fretted that “Congress can regulate every aspect of our lives so long as there is a tax involved. Congress can ban spanking by enacting a $1,000 tax on those who do. Congress can ban homeschooling in a similar fashion.”
These are the same people who want to regulate every aspect of the lives of American women!
OK, those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about? I’ll read your comments later tonight.
This is mysterious. In the morning post, I linked to a short piece by Josh Marshall on some disturbing changes the New York Times made its story on how Mitt Romney came to unleash his bizarre attacks on President Obama over a message posted on the website of the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday.
I’m not sure what’s up with this. But earlier this evening the Times ran a story entitled “Behind Romney’s Decision to Attack Obama on Libya.” The byline was David Sanger and Ashley Parker. The big news out of the story was that Romney himself had been the driver of last night’s decision making. That and a lot of other color and interesting news. As I write, it’s still that piece and lede that’s on the front page. But now it’s been replaced (same url) by an almost unrecognizable piece entitled “A Challenger’s Criticism Is Furiously Returned”, bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker….
The thrust of the piece is dramatically different and, unless I’m missing something, leaves out this critical quote from a Romney senior advisor explaining their rationale. “We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath.”
So basically, this “senior adviser” was saying that the campaign had built a specific narrative to use against Obama, and the events in Cairo appeared to meet the criteria of the manufactured narrative. Therefore, the decision was made to issue an immediate attack on Tuesday night before they really knew what was happening.
Late this morning, Marshall put followed up with another post.
A number of media reporters have now followed up with reports about the Times switcheroo. And the answer from the Times is that it was part of the normal editing process and the preference for on-the-record quotes over blind quotes. The specific response we got from Eileen Murphy, spokesperson for the Times, reads as follows …
As reporting went on during the day yesterday, we were able to flesh out the story, add more context and get more sources on the record, which is obviously what we prefer. Having said that, we stand by the reporting in all versions of the story.
Peter Baker, who replaced David Sanger as the lead byline, told Buzzfeed, “It’s just normal journalism — as more reporting comes in, you improve the story. On the record Republican criticism beats anonymous Republican criticism.”
But why was the damning quote left out of the second version of the story? Actually the missing quote was the first half of a longer quote, the second part of which was retained in the new version of the article. Here’s the entire original quote:
“We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath,” one of Mr. Romney’s senior advisers said on Wednesday. “I think the reality is that while there may be a difference of opinion regarding issues of timing, I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”
The first part of that quote makes the advisor seem callow, frivolous, and shabby. We’ve had the critique out there, “this was a situation that met our critique”, and that was good enough for us. We just let fly.
In the edited version of the Times piece, as Politico’s Dylan Byers notes, that quote is replaced by an on-the-record quote from policy director Lanhee Chen …
Mr. Romney’s camp was surprised by the blowback. “While there may be differences of opinion regarding issues of timing,” Mr. Chen said, “I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”
As you can see, the second portion is identical. So it really sounds like the blind quote was from Chen as well.
What the hell? Is the NYT suddenly in the business of helping the Romney campaign clean up their messes?
In an update to his piece, Politico’s Dylan Byers responds to NYT writer Peter Baker’s quote mentioned above:
UPDATE (11:06 a.m.): Missed this, but Peter Baker talked to the Huffington Post earlier this morning:
“As we reported more through the day, we found Republicans criticizing Gov Romney on the record, so why use an anonymous one?” Baker said. “There are too many blind quotes in the media and we try not to use them when it’s not necessary.”
Here’s why: Because there’s a big difference between “Republicans” and a Mitt Romney campaign adviser.
At New York Magazine, Joe Coscarelli has a piece headlined: Romney Adviser Admitted Libya Flub Before New York Times Scrubbed Story. Coscarelli notes a second quote that was left out of the “scrubbed” NYT article:
A front page New York Times article this morning describes how Mitt Romney “personally approved” his apology-less campaign statement yesterday accusing Barack Obama of sympathizing with terrorists, but an early iteration of the story was far juicier. In a version posted online last night, the Times quoted “an adviser to the campaign who worked in the George W. Bush administration” who went so far as to say that Romney “had forgotten the first rule in a crisis: don’t start talking before you understand what’s happening.” That’s more or less the criticism that was pelted at Romney throughout the day yesterday by pundits, and by President Obama himself, but to hear it from the mouth of an adviser, even an anonymous one, in the Times, really stings. Or stung — that quote has since disappeared from the article.
Coscarelli brings up a stunning possible explanation for the altered/dropped quotes: “Could this be that campaign quote approval we’ve heard so much about?” He then links to a story he wrote in July: Political Campaigns Reserve the Right to Neuter Journalism in Exchange for Access.
A front-page story in the New York Times today describes the process by which reporters at major news organizations — including Bloomberg, the Washington Post, and yes, the Times — agree to let political campaigns not only have veto power over which quotes get used, but allow after-the-fact editing on remarks from insiders. “The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative,” the Times reports.
Afraid of losing their access to top spokesmen and strategists, journalists agree to the tweaks. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have their own quote-approval demands, and the results are official lines that always stay on-script, lack any off-the-cuff qualities, and on top of that, are often anonymous anyway. And in playing by the rules written for them by those they’re supposed to be covering, print journalists falls further behind the times.
That’s a new one on me. News organizations allowing the subjects of their articles to make changes after the fact? Here’s hoping Josh Marshall or one of the other big bloggers who can get access to the NYT will force them to publicly admit they took orders from the Romney campaign.