Finally Friday Reads: A Woman’s Day

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1915, Women on a Street

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Misogyny is the word for the day. Two of the headlines deal with the egregious actions of Trump. Then, hold his beer because New Zealand lost an outstanding prime minister because she got tired of the same treatment the woman-hating press and right-wingers give women leaders here.  There is some really good news today from a U.S. court.

This is from the New York Times. “Judge Orders Trump and Lawyer to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Bogus Suit. In a scathing ruling, the judge said the suit against Hillary Clinton and dozens of the former president’s perceived political enemies was “brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”  It’s not a large sum of money, but it paints him as a loser and bringer of frivolous lawsuits. I do have to mention the bylines as Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman.

In a scathing ruling, a federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered Donald J. Trump and one of his lawyers together to pay nearly a million dollars in sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit against nearly three dozen of Mr. Trump’s perceived political enemies, including Hillary Clinton and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.

The ruling was a significant rebuke of Mr. Trump, who has rarely faced such consequences in his long history of using the courts as a weapon against business rivals and partners, as well as former employees and reporters.

And it was the latest setback for Mr. Trump as he faces a broad range of legal problems and criminal investigations. His lawyers are increasingly under scrutiny themselves for their actions in those cases, as well as divided in the advice they are offering him.

“This case should never have been brought,” U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks wrote in a 46-page ruling. “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”

While Mr. Trump has often blamed his lawyers for his problems, the judge, in his ruling on Thursday, addressed Mr. Trump’s history of using the courts as a cudgel, going back decades in his business career.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tightrope Walk (1908-10)

Dan Mangan of CNBC also reports the story.  This is the first news day in some time where I honestly say it put a smile on my face.

Trump’s suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused Clinton and 30 other defendants of conspiring to “weave a false narrative” during the 2016 election that Trump and his campaign were colluding with Russia in their efforts to win the race.

Middlebrooks in his order Thursday noted that “Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”

“He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer,” Middlebrooks wrote.

“He knew full well the impact of his actions … As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.”

Under the order, the Republican Trump and Habba, are jointly and severally liable for the total amount of sanctions the judge imposed to cover the defendants’ legal fees and costs : $937,989.39. That amount is about $120,000 less than what the defendants jointly requested for sanctions.
Clinton was awarded $171,631 in sanctions to be paid by Trump and Habba, with most of that money earmarked for Clinton’s attorneys’ fee.

That was the second largest amount awarded in Middlebrooks’ order, which gave the Democratic National Committee, its former chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and a related corporation $179,685.

“The amount of fees awarded in this case, while reasonable, is substantial,” Middlebrooks noted.

The judge in November had sanctioned Habba and other Trump lawyers $50,000 in favor of another defendant in the lawsuit, Charles Dolan.

He called the legal pleadings filed in the case by Habba “abusive litigation tactics,” and said the original lawsuit and a later, 186-page amended complaint “were drafted to advance political narrative; not to address legal harm caused by any Defendant.”

“The Amended Complaint is a hodgepodge of disconnected, often immaterial events, followed by an implausible conclusion,” Middlebrooks wrote.

“This is a deliberate attempt to harass; to tell a story without regard to facts.”

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Five Women on the Street, 1913

If you want to know how Trump’s mental acuity is doing these days, read this transcript of his Deposition in the E. Jean Carroll case released by Judge Kaplan. The weirdest moment was when Trump mistook a picture of Carroll for his former wife, Marla Maples. This is from MSNBC and Steve Benen. “Deposition transcript adds to Trump’s troubles in Carroll case. Why does it matter that Donald Trump confused a woman who has accused him of rape with one of his ex-wives? Because it might undermine his defense.”

It was about a week ago when the public first saw a partial transcript of Donald Trump’s deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case. As we discussed soon after, it was not good news for the Republican: The former president not only lashed out at his accuser as a “nut job” and someone who’s “mentally sick,” he also falsely suggested that Carroll was on record enjoying sexual assault.

“She actually indicated that she loved it. OK?” Trump said in the deposition, mischaracterizing comments Carroll made on CNN four years ago. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

The plaintiff’s attorney asked, “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?” Trump responded, “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

As NBC News reported, the rest of the deposition is now also coming into focus in striking ways.

Former President Donald Trump confused E. Jean Carroll, the writer who has accused him of rape, with ex-wife Marla Maples in a photo he was shown during a deposition, newly unsealed court documents show. An excerpt of the October deposition released by U.S. District Court for Southern New York on Wednesday includes an exchange in which Trump was asked by Carroll’s lawyer about a black-and-white photograph that showed a small group of people, including Trump and Carroll.

Describing the image showing him and his accuser, Trump said, “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” referring to the second of his three spouses. At that point, the Republican’s lawyer intervened, correcting her client’s mistake.

“No, that’s Carroll,” lawyer Alina Habba said, according to the newly released transcript. 

At face value, this might seem like an embarrassing blunder in which the former president confused one of his former wives with a woman who accused him of attacking her. But there’s more to it than that: As NBC News’ report added, “Trump’s comments under oath threaten to undercut his repeated denials of Carroll’s allegations, claiming she’s ‘not my type.’”

Portrait of Emy, 1919. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced her plans to step down yesterday.  She was widely hailed as an effective and empathetic leader. Among her accomplishments was the impressive handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, which was considered one of the most effective in the world.  This is from NPR. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced her intent to step down in a shock move that rocked the country’s political landscape.

Speaking to her party’s annual caucus in the seaside town of Napier, 42-year-old Ardern said “it’s time” for her to move on and that she “no longer had enough in the tank” for her premiership. She also called for a general election on Oct. 14.

“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility,” Ardern told her audience. “The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”

Ardern became the world’s youngest female leader in 2017 at the age of 37. Her last day in the office will be Feb. 7.

“This is not something we were expecting today,” said Geoffrey Miller, a geopolitical analyst with the Wellington-based nonprofit Democracy Project. “It was something that commentators had thought of and have been asking since the end of last year … and she quite convincingly said she was going to stay, and that she wasn’t going anywhere.”

The last six years have been busy for Ardern, managing disasters and tragedies that propelled her to global superstardom, Miller said. From the COVID-19 pandemic and a volcanic eruption to the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, he said Ardern has become much more well known than any New Zealand prime minister in the past.

“In many ways, she was the anti-Trump figure,” Miller said. “They both came into office in 2017 … but she went off to the United Nations and she decried isolationism, brandishing an image of being an internationalist or being a globalist.”

New Zealand’s relationship with China was probably her biggest foreign policy sticking point, Miller said, with Ardern always having to walk a line between souring relations with China and the fact that Beijing is Wellington’s largest trading partner.

“But she had to try and find a way forward,” Miller said. “And I think her consensus approach helped with this, but at the same time, she wasn’t immune to these bigger geopolitical trends.”

Four Ages in Life, 1920, Edvard Munch

This is from Monica Hesse, writing for the Washington Post. “Jacinda Ardern didn’t make working motherhood look easy. She made it look real. Five years ago, she became the second world leader to give birth while in office. Now the New Zealand prime minister plans to step down.”

A few weeks ago, while I watched Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) win admiration for caring for his infant on the House floor, I started to think about the last time I’d seen an elected official engage in such a public display of parenting. It was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, scraping herself together after a six-week maternity leave to simultaneously raise a human and run a country.

I don’t remember Ardern winning universal admiration for this balancing act. What I remember mostly was the debate that raged over her breastfeeding choices. Since baby Neve was still nursing when Ardern was expected at a Pacific islands summit, the prime minister had arranged to take a separate flight from other government officials, shortening her trip to avoid a prolonged absence from her newborn. The extra travel arrangements cost thousands of dollars in fuel. Was this a good use of taxpayer money? Should Ardern have taken a longer maternity leave or avoided pregnancy altogether?

“If I didn’t go, I imagine there would have been equal criticism,” she told the New Zealand Herald at the time, explaining the careful analysis that had gone into her decision. “Damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.”

So one lesson from Jacinda Ardern’s term was that mothers can’t win and that even in the highest levels of governing, a father who rearranges his work schedule for his kids is seen as dedicated and a mother who does the same is seen as disorganized. But if you prefer the optimistic take, the other lesson was that if citizens are willing to accept flexibility in how their leaders get the job done then they can have a leader like Jacinda Ardern.

They can have a leader who, after stepping into her role at the age of 37, went on to create one of the most diverse cabinets in the world: 40 percent women, 25 percent Maori, 15 percent LGBTQ — a group that, Arden said proudly, reflected “the New Zealand that elected them.”

They can have a leader who, less than a week after 50 New Zealanders were shot to death in a Christchurch mosque, helmed a nationwide ban of assault-style weapons without fuss or consternation: “Our history changed forever,” she said simply. “Now, our laws will too.”

The Mother leading two Children, 1901, Pablo Piccaso

Ardern cited burnout as her primary reason for resignation.  There was a surging right-wing movement in the nation and among the press that some of my friends felt was hell-bent on doing her in.  This is from the BBC.  “Why Jacinda Ardern’s star waned in New Zealand.”

She has been the subject of often-vile abuse by the anti-vax movement and other populist-inspired right-wing protest groups in New Zealand.

It was evident in her resignation remarks on Thursday that the pressure had had an impact and caused her to doubt whether she could lead her party into the election scheduled for October.

“This summer, I had hoped to find a way to prepare not just for another year but another term because that is what this year requires; I have not been able to do that,” she said.

Now, for yet another insult to American Women. This is from Bloomberg. It’s written by Nancy Cook.  “GOP Quietly Plots What’s Next on Abortion in Nod to 2022 Failures. ”

  • Anti-abortion rally in DC highlights scattershot approach
  • Abortion rights energized women, young voters in midterms “

Republicans still haven’t solved the quandary of how to talk to voters about abortion, still stinging from their midterm losses and with the White House at stake in less than two years.

Conversations with a dozen GOP candidates, former White House aides, activists and lobbyists show the issue continues to bedevil the party even after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Conservatives who celebrated that ruling are weighing what is politically possible to restrict access to abortion without repelling key voters like suburban women, independents and young people.

The GOP ceded this ground in the 2022 midterms to Democrats, whose own furious base was galvanized following the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to end 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights.

On the campaign trail, some Republicans avoided the topic entirely while some endorsed total bans, with no exceptions. The reality that hit them was that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

So with the 2024 race already on, Republicans’ strategy is to paint Democrats as the true extremists, try to put them on the defensive and avoid their own schisms from spilling out in public.

The GOP ceded this ground in the 2022 midterms to Democrats, whose own furious base was galvanized following the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to end 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights.

On the campaign trail, some Republicans avoided the topic entirely while some endorsed total bans, with no exceptions. The reality that hit them was that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

So with the 2024 race already on, Republicans’ strategy is to paint Democrats as the true extremists, try to put them on the defensive and avoid their own schisms from spilling out in public.

“When you run from abortion and don’t talk about it, you forfeit the issue to the other side,” Marc Short, chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, said in an interview. “We have a responsibility, as a party, to explain our position and do it in a winsome way that is not judgmental.”

Winsome?  WTAF?

Well, that’s it for me today!  I hope you have a great weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Irrational Hatred and the Exhaustion it Creates

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Good Afternoon!!

I’ve been struggling all morning over writing this post. I knew that if Hillary ran for president again we would face unprecedented sexism and misogyny from the media and from many people who claim to be Democrats. But I never imagined it would be this bad. It was bad in 2008, but in 2016 the CDS is magnified beyond belief.

Since I was a child I have had a difficult time understanding why people hate those who are different from themselves. It was around 1956 when I noticed the prejudice that black people have to deal with. I just couldn’t make sense of it. I was 8 years old.

Later I followed the Civil Rights Movement closely and again I was mystified by the hatred of Americans for their fellow Americans. I could empathize and feel rage at the injustice perpetrated against African Americans, but of course I couldn’t really comprehend what it felt like to be the targets of so much ugly, vicious hatred.

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As someone who has dreamed her whole life that women might finally achieve equality, and who believes that electing a woman president would go a long way toward making that dream a reality, I am beginning to truly understand how it feels to be hated and reviled by the culture I live in. It is exhausting.

It requires superhuman strength and courage just to get up every day and keep trusting my inner voice no matter what other people say and do, and internally trying to counter the ugly attacks on the first woman to have a real chance to win the Democratic nomination and perhaps to become the first woman President of the United States.

The only thing that gives me the strength to keep believing is the the example set by Hillary Clinton. I don’t know how she does it, but I think she has the courage and the competence to keep fighting for us all the way to the White House.

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Last night in the CNN Democratic Town Hall, I saw a woman who is comfortable with herself, who believes in her ability to pull this off, and who has truly found her voice as a candidate. I have never seen a better performance by Hillary Clinton in any debate or forum. She was magnificent.

But don’t expect the media to report that. They’re busy praising Bernie Sanders, the man who answered every question by returning to his boring stump speech far outshone the woman who following him (why does Bernie always get to go first, by the way?) according to the largely white male Washington press corps.

You know what? I don’t care. Hillary is speaking to the voters and I think enough of them will hear what she is saying.

Last night Bernie got mostly softball questions from Anderson Cooper and the audience. Hillary got mostly tough questions, and she rose to the occasion. She never whined or complained. She was humble and she listened carefully to what she was asked.

Bernie on the other hand did his usual nodding and waving–he doesn’t seem to listen to the questions at all. He makes up his mind what the question is while the person asking it is still talking. Hillary doesn’t do that. She actually cares about the person who is talking to her. It’s amazing that so many people can keep right on hating her even after they watch her be so open, so willing to listen, to learn, to get better as a person and a candidate. But that’s what hate is about–hence the cliche “blind hatred.”

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Just for today I’m going to leave aside the many media arguments for why Hillary Clinton just isn’t good enough and why she can never be good enough in their minds. There’s another debate tonight, and I need to psych myself up; because I am determined to watch it no matter how exhausting it is to see the irrational hatred my candidate has to face.

#ImWithHer

First, a couple of positive moments from last night:

From a mostly negative article by Eric Bradner at CNN, a wonderful quote from Hillary Clinton after she was asked for the umpteenth time why younger voters like Bernie Sanders so much and why they are rejecting her (although I see so many young women and men on line and on TV who do like her):

“I’m impressed with them, and I’m going to do everything I can to reach out and explain why good ideas on paper are important, but you’ve got to be able to translate that into action,” Clinton said.

“Here’s what I want young people to know: They don’t have to be for me. I’m going to be for them,” she added.

Could Bernie Sanders have been that humble and non-defensive? Not from what I’ve seen so far.

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From Maxwell Tani at Business Insider, here’s another sincere and humble moment from Hillary last night.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton delivered a deeply personal answer to a question about how she stays self-confident while being conscious of her ego and staying humble.

Responding to a question from a rabbi at a CNN town-hall event, Clinton seemed to allude to damaging past public scandals, saying she kept a parable from the Bible in mind during tough situations.

“It’s not anything I’ve ever talked about this much publicly. Everybody knows that I’ve lived a very public life for the last 25 years. So I’ve had to be in public dealing with some very difficult issues,” Clinton said.

She continued: “I read that parable and there was a line in it that became just a lifeline for me. It basically is, ‘Practice the discipline of gratitude.’ Be grateful for your limitations, know that you have to reach out to have more people be with you to support you advise you. Listen to your critics, answer the questions, but at the end, be grateful.”

I thought that was straight from the heart. But it will be minimized and then brushed aside by the haters.

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In Michael Moore’s Casual Chauvinism, Michael Tomasky writes about the endorsement of Bernie Sanders by the liberal icon. In a letter, Moore lists a series of historical “firsts” in the history of presidential campaigns. The first Catholic, JFK. The first president from the deep South, Carter. The first divorced man, Ronald Reagan, and so on up till the first black president, Obama.

But Moore never mentions women at all. He doesn’t think the first woman president would be important. No. He’s thrilled by the idea of the first socialist president–ignoring the fact that Sanders would also be the first Jewish president if elected. Sanders clearly agrees with him.

Tomasky:

Here’s what’s weird and gobsmacking about this endorsement. In a letter that is almost entirely about historical firsts—it goes on to discuss how “they” used to say we’d never have gay marriage and other changes—Moore doesn’t even take one sentence to acknowledge that Clinton’s elevation to the presidency would represent an important first.

I mean, picture yourself sitting down to write that. You’re a person of the left. You are writing specifically about the first Catholic president, the first black president, the first this, the first that. You want people to believe that if those things could happen, then a “democratic socialist” could win too. Fine, if that’s your view, that’s your view.

But it’s also the case the other candidate winning would make history in a way that is at least as historically important from a politically left point of view—I would say more so, but okay, that’s a subjective judgment—and it’s not even worth a sentence? I wouldn’t expect Moore to back Clinton or even say anything particularly nice about her. But he can’t even acknowledge to female readers that this great progressive sees that having a woman president would be on its own terms a salutary thing?

I obviously have no idea whether Moore contemplated such a sentence and rejected it or it just never occurred to him. Either way, it tells us something. To a lot of men, even men of the left, the woman-president thing just isn’t important.

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Please read this magnificent essay by Melissa McEwan at Blue Nation Review: I Am a Hillary Clinton Supporter Who Has Not Always Been One.

I am a Hillary Clinton supporter who has not always been one. She was not my first choice in 2008.

But it was during that campaign I started documenting, as part of my coverage of US politics in a feminist space, the instances of misogyny being used against her by both the right and the left, amassing a “Hillary Sexism Watch” that contained more than 100 entries by the time she withdrew from the primary. And it was hardly a comprehensive record.

I have spent an enormous amount of time with Hillary Clinton, although I have never spoken to her. I have read transcripts of her speeches, her policy proposals, her State Department emails. I have watched countless hours of interviews, debates, addresses, testimony before Congress. I have scrolled though thousands of wire photos, spoken to people who have worked with and for her, read her autobiography, listened to her fans and her critics.

And what I have discovered is a person whom I like very much.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

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Is any person or candidate perfect?

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

Please go read the rest. I only wish I could quote the whole thing.

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Emily Crockett at Vox: This awful Morning Joe clip shows how not to talk about Hillary Clinton.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday featured a tone-deaf discussion of Hillary Clinton’s tone, which you can watch in full here.

“She shouts,” journalist Bob Woodward said of Clinton. “There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen.”

That kicked off an eight-minute, slow-motion train wreck of a conversation that used Clinton’s alleged problems with volume to support arguments about how voters find her untrustworthy — and even to suggest that Clinton doesn’t know or trust herself as a person.

“I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue,” Woodward said later, “but there is something here where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself, and, you know, self-acceptance is something that you communicate on television.”

Host Joe Scarborough compared Clinton unfavorably to 1980s conservative icons Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, both of whom were apparently self-confident enough to keep the noise down.

“Has nobody told her that the microphone works?” Scarborough said. “Because she always keeps it up here.” The “genius” of Reagan, Scarborough said while dropping into a deep baritone for emphasis, is that Reagan “kept it down low.”

The panel also included Cokie Roberts talking about how people think Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy and dishonest. Gee I wonder where they got that idea, Cokie?

I’m running out of space already. I’ll put some more links in the comment thread. We’ll have a live blog tonight for the MSNBC Democratic Debate.

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Republicans Must Speak Incoherent Nonsense to Win GOP Nomination

beechyPasture

Good Morning!!

I’d love to be able to transport myself to a beautiful, peaceful place and isolate myself from current events. The reality of what is happening to our politics as our country devolves into a place where mass shootings are common, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny run rampant, income inequality is destroying the economy, and and the environment is rapidly deteriorating is just too much. I feel emotionally overwhelmed by it all.

At times, it’s easy to laugh at the insanity of today’s Republican Party and the complete incompetence of the mainstream media, but today the ugliness of what’s happening makes me feel like crying. Is there anything that can be done to turn this devolution of our country around?

I guess I reached the breaking point when I came home last night to the news that Republican presidential candidate(!) Donald Trump had attacked Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly by suggesting her questions to him during the debate on Thursday night were “mean” because she was menstruating. Can this really be happening?

Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump says Fox’s Megyn Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her wherever.’

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday night that Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes” when she  aggressively questioned him during Thursday’s presidential debate.

“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said in a CNN interview. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.” ….

In Thursday’s debate, Kelly questioned Trump over his history of offensive statements about women.

Calling in to CNN for a 30-minute interview on Friday night with Don Lemon, Trump hurled insults at Kelly, calling her a “lightweight,” and bashed her co-moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, as well as other Fox talent.

“I just don’t respect her as a journalist,” Trump said of Kelly. “I have no respect for her. I don’t think she’s very good. I think she’s highly overrated.”

Trump said he is considering skipping the next debate hosted by Fox News Channel, scheduled for January in Iowa, because he believes he was treated unfairly by the network’s moderators.

This pathetic excuse for a human being has been leading the national polls in the race for the GOP nomination for more than a month!

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Oliver Willis writes: Trump: Megyn Kelly Asked Tough Questions Because She Was On Her Period.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front runner, suggested that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was on her period.

Appearing on CNN, captured by Think Progress, Trump said that Kelly, who questioned Trump about past misogynistic statements where he called women pigs and cows was asking “ridiculous questions” because she had “blood coming out of her eyes” and “blood coming out of her whatever.”

Trump’s fellow Republican candidates did not issue statements or condemnations of him when he promoted a tweet earlier in the day that called Kelly a “bimbo.”

Those candidates did however, issue various policy statements insensitive to women’s issues during the debate, as Republican insiders feared that this presidential campaign would once again bring the Republican Party’s “War on Women” to the forefront.

It looks like Trump is doing just that.

Most Americans–even Republicans–probably understand that Trump is a clown who simply blurts out whatever comes into his sick mind without any concern for the consequences. But what about 16 other Republican candidates? Are most of them really any better?

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Paul Krugman has a brilliant column today in which he points out that to be a Republican candidate today means that you must spout complete nonsense.

From Trump on Down, the Republicans Can’t Be Serious.

…while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.

For example, Mr. Trump’s economic views, a sort of mishmash of standard conservative talking points and protectionism, are definitely confused. But is that any worse than Jeb Bush’s deep voodoo, his claim that he could double the underlying growth rate of the American economy? And Mr. Bush’s credibility isn’t helped by his evidence for that claim: the relatively rapid growth Florida experienced during the immense housing bubble that coincided with his time as governor.

Mr. Trump, famously, is a “birther” — someone who has questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States. But is that any worse than Scott Walker’s declaration that he isn’t sure whether the president is a Christian?

Mr. Trump’s declared intention to deport all illegal immigrants is definitely extreme, and would require deep violations of civil liberties. But are there any defenders of civil liberties in the modern G.O.P.? Notice how eagerly Rand Paul, self-described libertarian, has joined in the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood.

And while Mr. Trump is definitely appealing to know-nothingism, Marco Rubio, climate change denier, has made “I’m not a scientist” his signature line. (Memo to Mr. Rubio: Presidents don’t have to be experts on everything, but they do need to listen to experts, and decide which ones to believe.)

The point is that while media puff pieces have portrayed Mr. Trump’s rivals as serious men — Jeb the moderate, Rand the original thinker, Marco the face of a new generation — their supposed seriousness is all surface. Judge them by positions as opposed to image, and what you have is a lineup of cranks. And as I said, this is no accident.

Please go read the whole thing.

North Dakota Post-glacial Landscape

And what about the views on reproductive health that were expressed during the debate? Here Iris Carmon at MSNBC, GOP candidates: Ban abortion, no exceptions

At the first debate among candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination, the question was not whether or not to ban abortion or to defund Planned Parenthood. It was about whether exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or a woman’s life endangerment are legitimate. Their answer: No.

Moderator Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker how he could justify opposing an exception to an abortion ban in cases where a woman’s life was in danger, though he did sign a bill with such an exception. Then she turned around and asked Marco Rubio how he could support exceptions in the case of rape and incest if he believed abortion was murder….

Walker, who asked the Wisconsin legislature for a 20-week abortion ban that had no exceptions for rape and incest but ultimately decided not to heed the anti-abortion activists who begged for a no-exceptions bill, replied, “I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.” The claim that an abortion is never needed to save a woman’s life is a common one in anti-abortion circles. Medical experts disagree.

As for Rubio, he denied he had ever advocated for such exceptions. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” he said. “In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.” In fact, Rubio was a cosponsor on a 20-week abortion ban that contained rape, incest and life endangerment exceptions.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee did him one better and actually named which amendments of the constitution he believes already ban abortion. Specifically, the fifth and fourteenth.

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These kinds of attitudes toward women and their rights to control their own bodies are now in the mainstream of Republican ideology. The New York Times suggests that while some argue that Republican candidates will hurt themselves with women voters by expressing these misogynistic views, this may not be true, at least for now.

In the short term, however, the political peril for the Republican candidates may not be so grave. They are largely focused now on winning over likely Republican voters who will decide the party’s nomination — an electorate that tends to skew male and older in many key states.

Recent polls of Republican voters indicate that Mr. Trump is performing strongly among men and to a slightly lesser extent among women, though sizable numbers of women also say they would not support him. It remains an open question whether Mr. Trump offended his supporters, or many other likely primary voters, by refusing to renounce his past descriptions of women as “fat pigs” during the debate; indeed, pollsters say he may have struck a chord with some voters by saying he doesn’t “have time for political correctness” when he was asked about his remarks.

The 2012 election was a case in point: Even though Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, won white women with 56 percent of their votes, he lost over all with female voters. A Republican nominee would be hard-pressed to improve that if the 2016 Democratic nominee is a woman, many Republican pollsters believe.

So they’re going to try to win the presidency by appealing to white male woman haters? Okay. Read about what Republican women think and much more at the link.

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Trump’s attack on Megyn Kelley was too much even for ultra right wing nut EReaderrick Erickson. From The Washington Post: Donald Trump disinvited to speak at RedState event; Megyn Kelly invited.

ATLANTA — Conservative commentator Erick Erickson on Friday night disinvited GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump from speaking at an activist conference he is hosting here this weekend, citing disparaging remarks Trump made hours earlier on CNN about Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Erickson said Trump had been scheduled to speak at his RedState gathering on Saturday at the College Football Hall of Fame, but he told Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, about an hour before midnight that Trump was no longer welcome.

Trump’s campaign said in a statement that Erickson’s decision was “another example of weakness through being politically correct. For all the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you. Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader. We’ll now be doing another campaign stop at another location.”

Trump’s CNN interview Friday evening instantly drew controversy and criticism after he said Kelly, one of the moderators of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that he was referring to Kelly’s nose. His campaign also issued a statement, claiming Trump said “whatever” instead of “wherever,” again repeating that the reference was to her nose.

Erickson, a Fox News regular and face of the popular RedState blog, has long been a foe of congressional GOP leaders and an ally of conservative grass-roots organizers. He has also drawn criticism for saying impolitic things, once calling retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter an “[expletive] child molester” and First Lady Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy.” He has since apologized for both comments.

Trump’s words about Kelly simply went too far, Erickson said Friday, making him, someone who enjoys and appreciates barbed political rhetoric, uncomfortable and queasy. And with his invited guest dominating the 2016 race, and few if any conservatives reining him in, Erickson thought he’d try.

We’ll have to wait and see if that has any effect on Trump. But Republicans will still be stuck with several other candidates whose attitudes toward women aren’t really any better than Trump’s and whose ideas, as Paul Krugman points out, are completely incoherent and nonsensical.

Now I’m going to a peaceful place in my mind and try to pretend none of this is happening for today.

Remember, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a nice weekend.


The Latest “Culture of Life” Bill Would Allow Hospitals to Let Women Die

Talking Points Memo has the details:

The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the “Protect Life Act,” would amend the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. Much of its language is modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into the reform law during the health care debate last year. But critics say a new language inserted into the bill just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.

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