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“Letting The Mask Slip”: Richard Mourdock, The Latest Entrant Into The Republican Rape Insensitivity Bake-Off

Dear everyone asking what it is about Republican candidates and their clumsy talk about rape: This is a feature, not a bug.

The latest entrant into the Republican rape insensitivity bake-off is Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said tonight that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” He, of course, joins fellow Senate candidate Todd Akin, with his now-canonical “legitimate rape” comment, and Rep. Joe Walsh, running for election in Illinois, who claimed there was no reason a woman would ever need an abortion to save her life or preserve her health. The trailblazer was Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle, who failed to unseat Harry Reid in Nevada two years ago, and famously said that if a hypothetical teenager was raped and impregnated by her father, it was an opportunity to turn “a lemon situation into lemonade.”

Here’s why this is happening: The newer crop of Republican candidates and elected officials are, more often than not, straight from the base. They’re less polished than their predecessors; they’re more ideologically pure. As a result, they’ve accidentally been letting the mask slip and showing what’s really at the core of the right-to-life movement.

For years, the movement has fought plausible charges that it is anti-woman by repackaging its abortion restrictions, in Orwellian fashion, as protections for women. They’ve done it so successfully that until recently, when so many alleged “gaffes” went viral, no one really noticed. What is the so-called Women’s Health Defense Act? A proposed ban on abortion before viability. What are “informed consent” laws purporting to give women all the information they need before having abortions? Forced ultrasounds, transvaginal, and some of them involving the forced viewing of the ultrasound, at the woman’s expense, under the stated supposition that she has no idea what’s growing inside her unless someone makes her look. (Never mind that 60 percent of women who have abortions have already given birth at least once.)

Where does rape come into this? If you doubt that the abortion obsession in this country is about sex more than it is about “babies,” just look to all this agonized public parsing about “legitimate rape” and “forcible rape.” Americans are, at least in theory, sensitive to survivors of rape, whose bodies have been cruelly used against their will, and they see a forced pregnancy as further suffering. The corollary, of course, is that pregnancy is the just punishment for consensual sex, or, if you think an embryo or fetus is the same as a person, that rape justifies capital punishment. But most people don’t think in those consistent absolutes, which is the reason that the antiabortion movement has sometimes conceded to rape exceptions, as Mitt Romney has — they’re willing to suffer them, occasionally, as a sort of gateway drug toward stigmatizing and marginalizing all abortion.

For now, antiabortion absolutists have some explaining to do, and they’re doing it very, very badly. That’s because they aren’t used to cloaking their views in the rhetoric of compassion, something George W. Bush was so much better at. They’re used to how the base talks about this stuff among themselves, when it’s open about seeing women as vessels whose decision-making is subsumed to God’s plan or to baby making. (Paul Ryan is ideologically aligned with this crowd, but usually has the political skills and earnest manner to keep him out of trouble. When he got asked in the debate about religion, he answered by talking about “science.”)

But every time a Republican politician says what he (usually he) really thinks about all this, we can ask ourselves the following: What are you if you think women have no idea what they’re doing when they have an abortion, that they need the law to bully them, if not to change their minds, then to make things as difficult as possible for them?

What are you if you think a woman’s right to her own body should be entirely subordinate to the possibility of an hours-old fertilized egg, and thus want to ban emergency contraception, as Akin does? What are you if you essentially render a pregnant woman an incubator, as Akin did when he described pregnancy as, “All you add is food and climate control, and some time, and the embryo becomes you or me”? What with all of the double-talk, I’ll be plain. You’re a misogynist.

By: Irin Carmon, Salon, October 24, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dumber Than A 5th Grader”: President Obama’s Bayonet Analogy Is Just Too Complex For Paul Ryan To Understand

Conservatives have made an admirable attempt thus far to turn President Obama’s “horses and bayonets” zinger in their favor. Mostly, they have been doing this by lying.

What Obama said was that the military uses “fewer horses and bayonets” than it used to, because technology changes over time. Obama was making the point that comparing the number of ships our Navy had in 1916 to the number it has now, as Mitt Romney was doing, is a ridiculous way to gauge military strength, since the ships we do have are vastly more powerful than they used to be.

But some conservatives are pretending that Obama actually claimed that the military uses no horses or bayonets anymore. And the military does use them sometimes, so Obama is a moron! Media Matters gathered some of the more prominent examples:

Immediately following the debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace highlighted that a Marine “tweeted Fox News and said the Marines still use bayonets. So it may not be clear who doesn’t understand what the military currently uses.”

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin complained that “Mr. Snarky Commander McSnark” was “lecturing Romney on how we don’t have bayonets anymore.” At Breitbart.com, Joel Pollak also purported to fact-check Obama, writing that “the military still uses bayonets.”

Fox Nation has similarly posted a story headlined “Mr. President, US Special Forces Rode Horses Into Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, a guy who sells bayonets to the military tells TMZ that Obama is “ignorant … because our soldiers still use bayonets.” But again, Obama didn’t say that we never use bayonets or never use horses, so all these arguments and criticisms are directed at a straw man.

But Paul Ryan isn’t embracing the straw-man tactic. Instead, on CBS This Morning, he insisted that the whole bayonet analogy was so confusing, he couldn’t even wrap his famously wonky head around it:

“To compare modern American battleships and Navy with bayonets – I just don’t understand that comparison.”

Is it really that complicated? Let’s break down this analogy SAT-style: Outdated ships are to modern ships as outdated weaponry (such as bayonets) are to ____. Now, Ryan might guess something like “horses” or “the ocean,” but the answer is “modern weaponry.” This is a form of logical reasoning that most Americans master around the age of 17.

 

By: Dan Amira, Daily Intel, October 23, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“If Those Dolls Could Talk”: Even The Mitt Romney Bobblehead Dolls Were Made In China

Have you ever seen a Mitt Romney lookalike bobblehead doll? Or the parody video, since removed from the Internet, with former Republican candidate Jon Huntsman’s three daughters interview a nodding Mitt bobblehead?

This year, the Romney bobbleheads are marketed on the Internet, along with Barack Obama bobbleheads that are reportedly selling faster. But the original Mitt bobblehead first appeared four years ago and was produced—by Ann Romney’s brother at a factory in China—as a party favor for big donors.

Last January, when former Utah governor Jon Huntsman was still in the GOP presidential primary race, his three daughters “went rogue” and produced the video, with two of them donning blonde wigs to imitate Fox News anchors, and “interviewed” a Romney bobblehead doll. As they studied their nails and asked sarcastic questions — “Governor Romney, people accuse you of being stiff. Do you agree?” — the bobblehead would rapidly oscillate, indicating yes or no.

If those dolls could talk, they might have a lot to tell about their country of origin and who made them there. Although Romney now complains frequently that China has unfairly “taken American jobs,” the Chinese bobblehead Mitts are yet another example of Romney’s propensity to invest in the People’s Republic—and to enrich family members such as Roderick Davies, his brother-in-law, who oversaw the creation of the dolls in China through a Utah company called Asian Sources, Inc.

Asian Sources was one of a string of failed businesses formed by Davies — Ann Romney’s older brother — in Michigan, Florida, Colorado and Utah, culminating in his bankruptcy in 2010. (Mitt Romney’s older brother, Scott, performed legal services for at least two of Davies’ failed ventures. Davies’ son and Mitt’s nephew, Ryan Davies, would eventually join Asian Sources, Inc. after leading a Utah alternative energy company into bankruptcy and being pushed out by the directors amid allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and securities fraud.)

When Roderick Davies got the campaign doll deal, he already had the connections and experience to handle the job. Among other Asian outsourcing tasks, Davies had worked for Lifelike Doll Company, a Colorado firm that made custom dolls to look like the little girls who received them as gifts (just as bobbleheads are supposed to resemble specific individuals). Davies got that job, too, via Romney — and Bain Capital. After Davies allegedly helped run Lifelike into the ground, attempted a hostile takeover, and was sued by the company, he founded Asian Sources, the firm that went on to create and import Romney’s 2008 bobblehead dolls.

Along the way, Davies traded constantly on his famous brother-in-law’s name, with Mitt Romney’s encouragement. Indeed, Romney and Davies went together into the Lifelike doll business — a venture that not only illustrates their exploitation of China outsourcing but their ruthless corporate style. The Wall Street Journal first broke the Lifelike Doll Co. story last January. But after a single brief report the Journal promptly dropped the thread before unraveling the China connection. The Journal story also missed Romney’s and Bain’s fascination with several other doll and toy companies, not just Lifelike, all of which were also connected with bankruptcies.

The Wall Street Journal’s lead summarized the issue:

“Mitt Romney rarely got personally involved in individual deals toward the end of his time as chief executive of Bain Capital. But he was closely involved in a failed investment in a company that sold expensive dolls semi-customized to resemble the girl they were bought for. Mr. Romney was brought the idea by a friend from Brigham Young University and Harvard Business School who was one of the original partners of the doll company, which was called Lifelike Co. and used the brand name My Twinn.”

“As far as I can recall, Lifelike was the only investment that Mitt originated from his personal network,” former Bain executive Marc Wolpow told the Journal. “He said other Bain partners weren’t enthusiastic, but ‘it was a small investment, so no one really seemed to care that much.”

That “small” investment was $2.1 million, most of which Bain lost after Lifelike went bankrupt in 2003. What the Journal story missed was the fact that between 1997 and its financial collapse the company turned more and more to Asia for parts and after a disastrous 2001 holiday season “the Lifelike Company shifted all operations to China in an effort to reduce production costs,” according to its owners.

When Romney invested Bain’s money in Lifelike, he joined its board of directors and facilitated the hiring of his brother-in-law. Roderick Davies moved from Florida to Colorado to take the job. (Like Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, Davies had served as a Mormon stake president in Florida.)

The Journal quoted former Lifelike CEO Kenn Thiess, Romney’s friend, as saying that Mitt Romney did not pressure the firm to hire his brother-in-law. Interviewed subsequently for this article, Thiess, who had served as a Mormon stake president in Colorado said when Romney brought Davies in, Thiess agreed that the company should expand its use of Chinese suppliers. And because Davies had strong Chinese manufacturing connections, Romney said Davies could be hired to help.

According to the Journal, Lifelike eventually sued Davies, accusing him of trying to subvert its business “by conducting secret dealings with suppliers and trying to set up a competing entity.” While that charge may be valid, at least in part, Thiess fired Davies mainly because Davies was trying to buy controlling shares of Lifelike and then push him out. Thiess said Davies was acting with “Romney family money.” But he would not say whether he thought Mitt Romney was part of the coup attempt.

But in a recent interview Thiess said it was clear at the time—after Romney was elected governor—that “Mitt was setting things up to run for president.” He recalls Davies telling prospective Chinese suppliers that, through him, they were not only establishing a link to the chief executive of Massachusetts (who held an interest in Lifelike) but also, potentially, a future president of the United States.

 

By: Lynn Packer, The National Memo, October 24, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Son Of Detroit”: Mitt Romney Profited From The Auto Bailout And Jobs Shipped To China

“I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars,” said Mitt Romney on Monday night when he met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy. “And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry.”

That might be considered true—unless moving the most important American auto parts manufacturer to China counts as hurting the U.S. auto industry. But those words now stand as one of Romney’s most glaring falsehoods in the final debate.

Romney’s defensive statement came in response to a remark by Obama noting that the Republican nominee is “familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas.” Moments later, he added: “If we had taken your advice, Governor Romney about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.”

Most viewers had little idea what Obama was talking about or why Romney felt the need to rebut him so specifically. But their coded exchange almost certainly referred to an investigative report that broke wide on the Internet, without much attention from the mainstream media so far—Greg Palast’s article in The Nation magazine, exposing Romney’s huge profits from Delphi, a crucial auto parts company that moved nearly all of its jobs to China after taking billions in auto bailout money from the Treasury.

As Palast reported, the Romneys made millions from that intricate deal, put together by one of his main campaign donors, billionaire investor Paul Singer — through a “vulture fund” known as Elliot Management. Having bought up Delphi at fire-sale prices, Singer and his partners essentially blackmailed the Treasury into paying them billions so that Delphi would keep supplying parts to General Motors and Chrysler. They stiffed the company’s pensioners, pocketed the bailout funds, and moved all but four of the firm’s 29 plants to China.

The neglect of the Delphi story by mainstream and even progressive outlets such as MSNBC has been remarkable, particularly because neither Romney nor his campaign has denied it. If anything, a statement issued by the campaign to The Hill, a Washington publication, seemed to confirm Palast’s reporting by attempting to deflect blame onto the Obama administration:

Romney’s campaign did not deny that he profited from the auto bailout in an email to The Hill Wednesday afternoon, but it said the the report showed the Detroit intervention was “misguided.”

“The report states that Delphi had 29 US plants before the misguided Obama auto bailout, and just four after. Is this really what the president views as success?” Romney spokeswoman Michele Davis said.

“Mitt Romney would have taken a different path to turning around the auto industry,” Davis continued. “As President, Mitt Romney will create jobs and give American workers the recovery they deserve.”

Taking Delphi bankrupt under the management of Singer and Romney’s other partners didn’t create jobs or security for Delphi’s American workers. After taking nearly $13 billion in bailout financing from the Treasury — with the support of Rep. Paul Ryan, who has also received generous support from Singer — the new Delphi management abrogated the company’s pensions, closed all those U.S. plants, and moved production to China. And so far, Romney has escaped any questions about why he and Ann Romney invested their millions with vulture investors who used taxpayer funds to destroy American jobs.

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, October 23, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Willfully Ignoring Everything Romney Has Said”: Log Cabin Republicans Kidding Themselves About A Romney Supreme Court

I’m not surprised that the Log Cabin Republicans have gone against the best interests of LGBT Americans in endorsing Mitt Romney. Responding to their rationalization would normally not be worth the time, but one of their attempts at self-justification deserves a response. They claim, “Those who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann.”

The Log Cabin Republicans have willfully ignored everything Mitt Romney has said about the Supreme Court.

Romney has said that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are both adamantly opposed to protecting the rights of gay people under the Constitution. Both dissented in Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling that ended criminal sodomy laws. In his dissent, Scalia accused the Court’s majority of signing on to the “homosexual agenda.” These are the kind of justices that Mitt Romney has promised to nominate to the Supreme Court.

We can also look to Romney’s choice of Robert Bork to lead his judicial advisory committee, a clear signal that he’s ready to cede judicial nominations to the religious right. Bork has vehemently disagreed with every pro-gay-rights decision the Supreme Court has ever made, and he even claims that marriage equality will lead to “man-boy associations” and “polygamy.” This is who Romney has picked to advise him on judicial nominations.

Romney doesn’t just support amending the Constitution to prohibit marriage equality, an amendment that every justice would be obliged to enforce. Everything Romney has said about judicial nominations indicates that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will do lasting damage to the rights of all Americans — including LGBT people. No LGBT American or anyone who believes in equality should be fooled into thinking otherwise.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post Blog, October 23, 2012

 

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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