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“Barack The Dog”: Reflections Of A GOP Strain Of Persistently Contemptuous Attitudes Towards Women

If you haven’t seen the new Americans For Shared [sic!] Prosperity ad targeting unmarried women, you might want to check it out and then take a long shower:

Yes, the President of the United States is depicted as one of those sleazy dudes some women meet on internet dating services who turn out to be abusers who routinely lie, cheat, steal and spy. The ad doesn’t suggest Barack the Bad Boyfriend is prone to physical violence, but otherwise the whole rap is highly suggestive of the excuses often made by women who stay in abusive relationships, notes The Wire‘s Arit John:

At one point the woman uses phrasing domestic abuse survivors use to describe why they stayed with their partners. “But I stuck with him, because he promised he’d be better,” the woman says. “He’s great at promises.” This is reminiscent of the recent #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence video. Women explained that they stuck with their abusers in part because he or she promised they’d stop, promised they’d change, or promised they’d never do it again.

John clearly thinks the ad is deliberately exploiting the recent publicity over domestic abuse by NFL players.

It’s not, however, entirely new. As MSNBC’s Anna Brand shows, the theme of Barack Obama as a bad boyfriend was used in the series of ads Republicans and pro-Republican groups aimed at 2008 Obama voters in 2012.

Similar words were uttered in a 2012 ad called “Boyfriend” launched by conservative group Independent Women’s Voice.

“I wanted to believe him, I trusted him,” one woman says to her friend sitting beside her on a couch. “Listen, we all did,” the friends responds.

“Why do I always fall for guys like this?” the first woman laments.

In a 30-second ad by the Republican National Committee in 2012 entitled “The Breakup,” a woman “breaks up” with a cardboard cutout of President Obama sitting across from her at a white tablecloth restaurant. “You’re just not the person I thought you were. It’s not me, it’s you,” she says over cocktail music followed by a prompt to “tell us why you’re breaking up with Obama.”

This pitch obviously didn’t work in 2012. Why are Republicans (at least some of them) going back to it now? One might be tempted to think it reflects a strain of persistently contemptuous attitudes towards women, those incorrigibly “emotional” critters for whom snaring Mr. Right while avoiding Mr. Wrong is the center of their existence and the most powerful metaphor imaginable.

I’d say this “argument” also may reflect some frustration on the part of conservative men who just don’t “get” the Democratic voting predilections of women, and thus have to mark it up to seduction. Back in the 90s, some wag (don’t remember exactly who it was) attributed some of the conservative male fury at Bill Clinton to astonishment that a dog like the Big Dog could get so many women to “sleep with or vote for him.” It’s almost as though Republican men aren’t quite adequate themselves, you know? The “‘Dating Profile” ad does look like it was conceived in a man cave with the assistance of a twelve-pack of beer.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 24, 2014

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, War On Women | , , , , | Leave a comment

“There’s No Terrorist Shaolin Temple”: Why Are We Afraid Of The Returning Expat Terrorist?

One of the common refrains we hear in the reporting on ISIL is that officials are worried that Americans will go to Syria or Iraq, fight with ISIL, and then return here to launch terrorist attacks on the United States. As a discrete category of terrorist threat, this is something very odd to be afraid of.

It isn’t that such people might not have the motivation to carry out a terrorist attack. But if they went to fight with ISIL, they probably already had the motivation. Ah, but what about the things they learned there? This morning, I heard a reporter on NPR refer to such returnees employing their “newfound terrorist skills” against the United States. But what skills are we talking about? If you want to learn how to make a bomb, you don’t have to go to Syria to acquire the knowledge. There’s this thing called “the internet” where it can be found much easier.

The way these potential attackers are talked about, you might think that launching a terrorist attack is something you can only achieve after years of intensive training in an arcane discipline, the secrets of which are closely held by wise old masters who deign to impart them only to carefully chosen initiates. But there’s no terrorist Shaolin temple. If all you want to do is kill some Americans and sow chaos, it’s actually not that hard. A couple of knuckleheads like the Tsarnaev brothers could do it.

This is an entirely separate question from whether ISIL as an organization wants to carry out an attack within the United States, because if they do, they don’t need someone with an American passport to execute it. Anyone here on a tourist visa could do it (in 2013, just under 70 million international visitors came to the U.S.).

The point is that there are any number of reasons a person might decide to launch a terrorist attack against the United States. While it’s entirely possible that an American could fight with ISIL and then get sent back to plant a bomb somewhere, that eventuality is no more likely than an American who has never left his home town becoming angry over U.S. foreign policy and deciding to lash out in the same manner. There are no “terrorist skills” you can’t get here at home. So as a matter of policy, the returning expat terrorist is pretty far down the list of things we need to worry about.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, September 24, 2014

September 25, 2014 Posted by | ISIS, Terrorism, Terrorists | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Who Knew?”: Obamacare Is Such A Disaster That Even More Insurers Want To Be Part Of It

There are still plenty of days when Obamacare looks bad. Tuesday wasn’t one of them.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that more insurers were joining the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplacesyou know, the places where people can buy coverage on their own and, depending on their incomes, qualify for subsidies. How many more insurers are participating? Quite a few, it turns out. According to HHS, the net increase is more than 25 percent. That should translate to more options for people buying coverage. The increased competition should also help keep premiums relatively low.

The data is preliminary, based on 44 states for which HHS had information. And of course the sheer number of insurers offering coverage is just one sign of how the law is doing. If you’re actually buying insurance, you don’t simply want choices. You want good choices. You want to know that the insurance will give you access to doctors and hospitals when you need them. You want to know that the coverage pays your bills adequately. And so on.

Still, Obamacare critics hadn’t predicted the markets would evolve this way. On the contrary, they expected that young and healthy people would stay far away from the new marketplaces, because the new coverage would be pricier than what they were paying before. Without enough business, the argument went, insurers would get skittish and withdraw. At best, the marketplaces would all become oligopolies and monopolies, with just a handful of insurers continuing to sell policies. At worst, the whole scheme would fall apart. That quite obviously isn’t happening.

Trouble could still arise. By design, Obamacare includes a series of provisions designed to insulate insurers from major losses in the first three years. I usually describe them as “shock absorbers.” Many other policy wonks refer to them as the three Rs, for reinsurance, risk corridors, and risk adjustment. Two of the three, risk corridors and reinsurance, are temporary measures set to expire in 2016. More knowledgeable critics of the law, like Bob Laszewski and Megan McArdle, have warned that more insurers could abandon the market or at least jack up their premiums once those measures expire.

I can’t tell you with certainty whether they are right or wrong. Always in motion is the future, as a famous prophet once said. But keep in mind that gloomy, even dire, predictions about Obamacare’s marketplaces are nothing new. One of my favorites was an op-ed that ran in the Wall Street Journal at the end of last year. The author was John Cochrane, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago. The headline was “What to Do When Obamacare Unravels”not “if,” mind you, but “when.”

At the time, with unexpected plan cancellations and the website problems very much on people’s minds, betting against the program working probably seemed like a good idea. Who wants to make that kind of bet now?


By: Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic, September 24, 2014

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Companies, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Backing Up President Obama”: It’s Foolhardy To Forsake What The President Has Accomplished

It is long overdue for someone, anyone, to back up President Barack Obama.

Yes, it is easy to kvetch about the shortcomings he’s faced on both domestic and international fronts, and who can argue with the most recent Gallup poll that equated his approval rating to that of President George W. Bush, but as an early supporter of the president, I must admit, I am prouder than ever to call Barack Obama my president.

He’s smart, he’s pragmatic, and he’s black. Yeah, I said it. I’m a white Jew from the San Fernando Valley who grew up in an all-white and Asian neighborhood. Never in my life did I have an opportunity to demonstrate my unflagging support for a black man who clearly deserved the nation’s top spot, not because he is black, but because voting for President Obama demonstrated to the world that America values competence over race.

I am grateful that I have an opportunity to tell my son that I am responsible for helping elect the country’s first black president. And I know what the pundits will say: There goes another self-righteous white liberal who thinks he’s saving the world by backing up a black president. And all I have to say to you is this: It’s foolhardy to forsake what the president has accomplished.

It’s foolhardy to forsake the man who brought the country’s most maligned terrorist to justice. It’s foolhardy to forsake the man who inherited a suck-wind economy that is a lot healthier now than it’s been in years. And it’s foolhardy to forsake the man who had the courage to fix a health care system that no other recent president dared to fix because they didn’t have the guts to do so.

And I know what the pundits will say: There goes another self-righteous white liberal whose naiveté about how the world works is what gets the country into trouble in the first place. And all I have to say to you is this: It’s foolhardy to forsake what the president has accomplished.

It’s foolhardy to forsake the man who is dealing with ISIS, Ukraine and Russia, fallout from Ferguson, and every other red-hot world crisis that is happening at the same time. It’s foolhardy to forsake the man who believes gay people should be treated like everyone else. And it’s foolhardy to forsake the man who cares about the environment.

And I know what the pundits will say: There goes another self-righteous white liberal who is making excuses for the president and lacks any sort of moral fortitude. And all I have to say to you is this: It’s foolhardy to forsake what the president has accomplished.

It’s foolhardy to forsake the man who improved the image of Americans when traveling in foreign countries, it’s foolhardy to forsake the man who decided to tackle the inequities of student lending programs, and it’s foolhardy to forsake the man whose family values serve as an important role model.

Measuring the president’s approval rating is riddled with pitfalls. The Gallup poll feels more like a barometer for people’s take on how messed up the world is at the moment, and boy, does the world feel messed up at the moment.

And I know what the pundits will say: It’s the president’s fault. And all I have to say to you is this: The scale of what Barack Obama has accomplished as president has done more for this country in the long run than any pollster can measure, and if you realize this, hardly a fool that you can be called.


By: Evan Pondel, The Huffington Post Blog, September 24, 2014



September 25, 2014 Posted by | Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, President Obama | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Feed The Base’s Worst Fears”: When In Doubt, Run Against The Kenyan Muslim Socialist

Yesterday, Senator Pat Roberts — who has emerged as one of the most closely watched incumbents in the country, now that independent Greg Orman’s challenge to him could dictate who controls the Senate — raised a lot of eyebrows when he said this:

“We have to change course because our country is heading for national socialism. That’s not right. It’s changing our culture. It’s changing what we’re all about.”

National socialism? Philip Rucker, in a great piece on the Kansas race, asks Senator Roberts what he meant, and gets this:

When a reporter asked whether he truly thinks the president is a socialist, Roberts replied, “I believe that the direction he is heading the country is more like a European socialistic state, yes. You can’t tell me anything that he has not tried to nationalize.”

Interestingly, the Orman campaign is criticizing Roberts’ rhetoric. In a statement, the campaign said:

“This is exactly the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that dominates the partisan debate in Washington and that Kansans are tired of. Washington is broken because politicians like Senator Roberts are too busy using scare tactics and calling each other names instead of getting things done. Kansans know we’ve got to do things differently, and that’s why they’re supporting businessman Greg Orman’s independent campaign for Senate.”

This is noteworthy, given that you’d think calling Obama a socialist could not possibly be problematic in any way in deep red Kansas.

By the way, the claim that Obama is moving the country towards socialism has long been echoed by many leading Republicans. It’s a way to feed the base’s worst fears about Obama while not quite coming out and calling him a socialist, which sounds crazy. In accusing Obama of wanting to “nationalize,” well, the entire private sector, Senator Roberts has dispensed with such restraint.

This gets to something interesting about this race. Roberts and his allies in the national GOP, panicked about the Orman challenge and its implications for Senate control, are quickly gearing up an All-About-Obummer campaign. Roberts is up with an ad ripping Orman for donating to Obama and national Democrats, and for saying repeal of Obamacare is unrealistic. A GOP Super PAC is airing a similarly themed spot. (Republicans are also tarring Orman as a shady businessman, but tying him to Obama and national Democrats will figure heavily.)

But, judging by the Orman statement above, his camp is gambling that this approach won’t work and could even end up reinforcing the frame for the race they prefer. The premise of the Orman campaign is that voters are sick of both parties and of Washington, allowing them to cast any efforts to tie him to Obama and national Democrats as more of the same old partisan food fighting, all designed to distract from Roberts’ failure to produce concrete achievements despite all his time in the Capitol.

The backdrop for all of this is the abject failure of the experiment in conservative governance undertaken by Kansas governor Sam Brownback, which has alienated many moderate Republicans. But it seems unlikely that Orman will directly engage on that front. I’d expect him to seek to capitalize on the generalized unpopularity of the GOP that has resulted, to campaign against both parties — and against Roberts’ lack of accomplishments — in making the case for trying something new in the form of an independent businessman.

Even Republicans are worried about this prospect, as one Republican rather colorfully put it to Rucker:

“He’s basically furniture in the Senate, and the people in Kansas know that,” said national GOP strategist John Weaver, a former McCain adviser. “You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done in the Senate, and after 24 hours, even the crickets would be standing there befuddled.”

Well, okay, that does sound pretty problematic, but there’s still a way out: Run against the Kenyan Muslim Socialist!


By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, September 24, 2014

September 25, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Kansas, Pat Roberts | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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