“The GOP’s Disgraceful Misogyny”: The Effect Of Their Positions And Policies Have Been Disastrous For Women
As the 2016 election season has trundled along, we’ve spent a lot of time examining the racism, xenophobia, and bigotry so bountifully demonstrated by the GOP presidential candidates. Extraordinary anti-Muslim animus, callus dehumanization of immigrants, demonization of African-American activists, and cries to revoke the civil liberties of LGBTQ Americans — it’s all stock-in-trade for today’s Republican Party.
We’re right to be alarmed by all of it. There is, however, another form of bias equally on display that doesn’t get nearly as much attention: the Republican Party’s overwhelming misogyny.
We occasionally talk about the sexism confronting Hillary Clinton. Abortion comes up now and again. Then there was that time that the leading GOP contender reminded us that many 21st century men are still skeeved out by women’s reproductive cycles. So it’s not like the misogyny has gone entirely unremarked — but given that these are attitudes that affect fully half of America, we really ought to be talking about it a whole lot more.
Maybe we’re so used to women being considered lesser-than that misogyny’s ubiquity fails to register. Maybe it’s so deeply embedded in our psyche and policies that it’s hard to pin down. And maybe, like with the word “racist,” we’re hesitant to use the word “misogynist” (or the slightly-less freighted “sexist”) because it raises unanswerable questions: Does that person actually hate women? All women? Can we really know what’s in people’s hearts?
So perhaps, to borrow from Jay Smooth, we should focus less on what people are, and more on what they do. We needn’t concern ourselves with politicians’ feelings about women — our concern needs to be the effect of politicians’ words and actions.
In that light, Republicans’ positions on Americans’ constitutionally-mandated right to terminate a pregnancy become even more problematic. When government decides for a citizen that she must carry a pregnancy to term, it’s making a decision with long-term financial, professional, and health repercussions — and that’s just for women who are full-grown adults with careers and good insurance. For any other woman — the poor, the young, the un- or under-employed, the sexually-assaulted, the victim of domestic violence — the damage goes deeper and lasts longer. The fight to deny any woman her (constitutionally-mandated!) right to abortion is a fight to force all women to accept and shoulder these consequences, absolutely regardless of their own desires — a misogynistic effect if ever there was one.
This is equally true for a vast number of other, less obvious positions and policies, as well. Repealing ObamaCare? The effect would be a return to “gender rating,” by which insurance providers regularly treated breast cancer and domestic violence as “pre-existing conditions” and refused to cover Pap smears, a cancer screening test unique to women.
Months and months of lying about and then defunding Planned Parenthood? The effect has been the failure to provide thousands and thousands of Pap smears and breast cancer screenings — and let’s not mince words: We’ll never know the number of women for whom that has proven a literal death sentence.
And oh, it goes so much further than women’s health issues: What about the GOP’s opposition to a higher minimum wage? Women are disproportionately effected, because two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. What about the GOP’s refusal to deal with the college debt crisis? The gender wage gap means women are saddled with that debt for much longer than men (particularly if they happen to be Latina or African American). What about the relentless drone of comments from would-be leaders and their supporters that dismiss women, disparage our needs, and reduce us to our potential as sex partners or breeders? A study released just this week has found a “surprising durability of basic stereotypes about women and men over the past three decades, not only in the global traits of agency and communion but in other domains such as physical characteristics, occupations, and gender roles as well.”
Why, it’s almost as if words have consequences.
Republican leaders (including everybody’s favorite “moderate,” John Kasich) have spent their careers telling America that 50 percent of the citizenry cannot be trusted with their own bodies. They’ve pursued policies that consistently produce roadblocks to those citizens’ advancement, and they persistently belittle, demean, and express genuine doubt as to those citizens’ essential equality.
Do these politicians and pundits hate women? I don’t really care. I care that the effect of their positions and policies has been disastrous for women. I’m terrified to consider what it will mean if we do nothing about it come November.
By: Emily Hauser, The Week, March 11, 2016
“Ohio’s Kasich Slashes Planned Parenthood Funding”: Eager To Curry Favor With His Party’s Far-Right Base
As the field of Republican presidential candidate shrinks to just five people, John Kasich has adopted a rather specific posture: he’s the grown-up in the room. The rest of the field includes two first-term senators and two political amateurs, leaving the Ohio governor as the only candidate stressing qualities such as executive experience, governing skills, and pragmatism.
And that makes perfect sense given the circumstances. Kasich can’t be as right-wing as his rivals; he can’t be as unhinged as his rivals; and he certainly can’t avoid the “career politician” label. Looking for an opening, the Republican governor has decided to present himself as a more mainstream, and more electable, conservative.
In the five-person GOP field, that leaves Kasich as the last option for the party’s remaining “moderate” voters. But let’s not mistake perceptions for reality. As we were reminded over the weekend, the Ohio Republican may be playing the role of 2016 pragmatist, but that doesn’t make him an actual moderate.
Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Sunday signed a bill that aims to strip funding from Planned Parenthood in the state. […] After Kasich came in a strong second place in the New Hampshire primary, the Republican assembly in Ohio passed legislation that targets about $1.3 million in funding for Planned Parenthood in the state.
That money helps support screenings for breast cancer, STD testing, programs working to prevent violence against women, and more.
Remember, we’re not talking about public funding of abortions, which is already largely prohibited. Rather, state lawmakers passed a measure to block “any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions” from receiving funds for women’s health treatments that have nothing to do with terminating pregnancies.
And Kasich, eager to curry favor with his party’s far-right base, eagerly signed the bill into law.
The NBC affiliate in Columbus reported that Planned Parenthood’s work in Ohio will continue, “but its community health programs would be cut. The group says programs targeted in the bill helped Planned Parenthood in the last year to provide more than 47,000 STD tests and 3,600 HIV tests to Ohioans, serve nearly 2,800 new or expectant mothers, and inform young people and women about healthy relationships.”
In other words, in practical terms, John Kasich decided to slash services for thousands of Ohio women, for no substantive reason, with a simple stroke of his pen. The public will pay a steep price because the governor wants to advance his ambitions.
This is what passes for “moderation” among GOP presidential candidates in 2016.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece, and her work is unrelated to the organization’s affiliates in Ohio.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 23, 2016
“A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”
That nugget of wisdom dates from the 1800s, i.e., decades before anyone ever heard of the Internet — much less Fox “News.”
If a lie traveled that fast in the 19th century, you can only imagine its speed in the 21st, when media and the World Wide Web have given it wings. Indeed, in 2016, the lie is so broadly and brazenly told as to cower truth itself and to render impotent and faintly ridiculous the little voice insisting, against all evidence, that facts matter.
It seems increasingly obvious that to many of us, they simply don’t. Not anymore. We find ourselves embarked upon a post-empirical era in which the very idea that facts are knowable and concrete has become quaint. These days, facts are whatever the politics of the moment needs them to be.
We’ve seen this over and over in recent years. We’ve seen it in the controversy over Barack Obama’s birthplace, in the accusations that Sept. 11 was an inside job, in the charge that weapons of mass destruction were in fact discovered in Iraq, and in the claims that there is no scientific consensus about global warming.
Lunatic assertions that fly in the face of the known are now the norm in American political discourse. So last week’s news out of Houston came as a welcome jolt.
It seems Planned Parenthood was exonerated by a grand jury after an investigation into spurious charges the reproductive healthcare provider was selling baby parts for profit. Simultaneously, two so-called “citizen journalists” who orchestrated the hoax — David Daleiden, 27, and Sandra Merritt, 62 — were indicted.
It was a moment of sweet vindication for Planned Parenthood, following months of vilification and investigation. This all sprang from a series of videos secretly recorded by Daleiden’s anti-abortion group, “The Center For Medical Progress” during conversations with officials of various Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Released last year, the videos purported to show the officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue with people they believed to be medical researchers. As Planned Parenthood first protested, an investigation by FactCheck.org later indicated, and a grand jury now affirms, the videos were deceptively edited. Tissue from aborted fetuses has been used in biomedical research since the 1930s to study everything from polio to Parkinson’s, and while the law prohibits its sale, the patient is allowed to donate it, and Planned Parenthood is allowed to recoup reasonable costs for preparation and transportation to supply it to scientists.
This is what the Planned Parenthood representatives were talking about. This is what the videos were edited to hide.
One is reminded of how, back in 2010, another activist used another deceptively-edited video to suggest that a speech by a black federal employee named Shirley Sherrod was proof of anti-white hatred. It turned out Sherrod’s speech actually made precisely the opposite point; she spoke of the need to overcome such hatred.
That video, like these, suggests that what we’re dealing with here is not “citizen journalists” — whatever that idiotic term even means — but activist zealots out to advance their agenda and embarrass their opponents by any means necessary, without regard to simple decency or plain old truth. Increasingly, that is the way of things.
So it’s welcome news that the two CPM hoaxers find themselves facing felony charges for allegedly using falsified driver’s licenses to identify themselves to Planned Parenthood. We are told that that constitutes fraud. In other words, Daleiden and Merritt were ensnared by the trap they set. Justice seldom gets more poetic.
Yes, lies have always moved faster than truth. But it feels good to see truth pull even every now and then.
By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 31, 2016
The last time evangelist Franklin Graham tried to vote with his feet, it didn’t go very well. The story of Graham’s choice of banks gained national attention over the summer when he was so outraged by a Wells Fargo television commercial featuring a couple adopting a deaf child that he took action: Graham moved his ministry’s considerable assets out of Wells Fargo altogether, as part of Graham’s effort to fight “moral decay.”
The funny part came when we learned the evangelist moved his money to BB&T, overlooking its sponsorship of gay-pride events and its 80% score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
Six months later, Graham is voting with his feet again, this time he’s marching out of the Republican Party. Alabama Media Group reported today (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up):
Evangelist Franklin Graham announced Monday that he left the Republican Party and is now an independent over the GOP’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood in last week’s omnibus spending bill.
Graham, the son of legendary preacher Billy Graham, compared the controversy over Planned Parenthood allegedly discussing selling fetal tissue to the Nazis in a Facebook post explaining why he quit the Republican Party.
“There’s no question – taxpayers should not be paying for abortions!” Graham said by way of an explanation. “Abortion is murder in God’s eyes. Seeing and hearing Planned Parenthood talk nonchalantly about selling baby parts from aborted fetuses with utter disregard for human life is reminiscent of Joseph Mengele and the Nazi concentration camps! That should’ve been all that was needed to turn off the faucet for their funding.”
For the record, whether Graham realizes this or not, taxpayer funding of abortion is already prohibited under federal law. What’s more, there is no evidence, video or otherwise, of Planned Parenthood ever “selling baby parts.”
Or put another way, the evangelist appears to have walked away from the Republican Party for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense – kind of like his decision to change banks.
Postscript: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 22, 2015
“The Terrorism We Tolerate”: Our Collective Denial Allows Anti-Government Domestic Extremists To Slip Under The Radar
As a nation, we’re loath to tackle uncomfortable conversations. It’s far easier to put our collective head in the sand and go-along to get along. So we didn’t see it coming when a perfect storm of extremism hit a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic the Friday after Thanksgiving.
A loner named Robert Dear Jr. is charged with the murder of three people after he allegedly opened fire on a Planned Parenthood facility. After a five-hour stand-off with police, his reported rampage left nine wounded and an Iraq War veteran, police officer and young mother dead. It’s both an outrage and a tragedy, and when you break it down, the story of this mass shooting reads like a field guide to Realities We’d Rather Not Talk About.
We’d rather paint Islam as the face of terrorism most imminently threatening the U.S. than talk about American-born, non-Muslim radicals.
Indeed, anti-government extremists pose a greater threat to the homeland than does the Islamic State group or al-Qaida, according to the Justice Department’s head of national security. The numbers are striking: Anti-government extremists caused the deaths of 254 people in the 10 years after 9/11; Islamic extremists were responsible for approximately 50 deaths. In other words, you’re seven times more likely to be killed by a homegrown, anti-government extremist than a Muslim terrorist.
Yet following the Islamic State group’s attack in Paris, the U.S. was awash with calls to block the entry of Syrian refugees in the name of national security – even though several of the Paris terrorists were French-born. In the wake of Friday’s mass shooting at Planned Parenthood, there’s been no similar national security outcry over European-born refugees who have already entered the U.S. nor fears of a threat from white, Christian men, despite the fact that Dear was Caucasian and reportedly professed to be a Christian.
Instead it’s considered offensive even to acknowledge the existence of domestic extremism: In 2009, then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to defend agency intelligence reports on the dangers posed by anti-government radicals after pundits and lawmakers from both parties blasted the report as an attack on Americans exercising free speech.
We’d rather not talk about how easy it is to acquire a gun in this country, either.
Dear allegedly used an AK-47 style, high-powered assault rifle to carry out the mass shooting and may have brought “duffel bags full of rifles and handguns” with him to the clinic – enough weaponry for the hours-long standoff with police.
All that firepower was in the hands of a man with a history of mental instability and run-ins with law enforcement. Dear was charged with rape in 1992. Years afterward, he was arrested for peeping tom accusations and later on animal cruelty charges. An ex-wife once made a domestic violence call to police after a fight with Dear. Stories from neighbors and online postings suggest he was a doomsday prepper who believed metal roofs would keep the government from spying on him.
Details are still emerging about Dear’s weapons and how he acquired them, and it’s unclear that a background check would have found him unfit to purchase a gun. But any attempt to discuss whether or not citizens should have the right to amass a military-grade weapons cache is shot down as an attack on the Second Amendment. It’s “politicizing” a mass shooting to bring up these questions, and even when 90 percent of Americans desire increased gun safety regulations or kindergarteners are slaughtered in their classroom, the National Rifle Association succeeds in silencing not only any legislation but national dialogue on guns as well. And meanwhile, we’ve had 351 mass shootings in the first 334 days of this year. That’s the latest count, anyway.
What’s more, we’d rather not correct the record on the fact that Planned Parenthood was not in the business of harvesting baby parts.
The investigation into Dear’s motives is still ongoing, but his reported declaration about “no more baby parts” to police is telling. It’s seemingly a reference to anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress’ videos on Planned Parenthood, heavily edited to concoct the impression that the organization is involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. The myth was repeated so often, and with so little pushback, that it’s now taken as a given in our national discussions about Planned Parenthood. Without batting an eye, Republicans cite it to rail against women’s health care in presidential debates, and governors use it to justify witch hunts into the organization and cuts to women’s health access. The videos have inspired their very own House select panel.
Imagine holding the sincere belief that a government-sanctioned organization was involved in the butchery and sale of baby parts. It’s an outrageous idea, and one Dear may have come to believe from hearing it so oft-repeated. He wouldn’t have been alone in this belief – threats against Planned Parenthood reportedly spiked after the videos were released.
It’s unfair, of course, to assume that a national dialogue on any of these issues would have stopped the Planned Parenthood shooter from carrying out his hideous plan. But ignoring them doesn’t help either. Our collective denial allows white, anti-government extremists to slip under the radar with their arms full of guns and their heads full of lies.
By: Emily Arrowood, Assistant Editor for Opinion, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U.S. News & World Report, December 1, 2015