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“On Behalf Of The Inner Circle”: Earning The Contempt Of The Foreign Policy Establishment

Whenever I see an article by James Poulos, I have to admit that I approach it with a certain amount of disgust. That’s because, back in 2012 he wrote what I consider to be the most misogynist column I’ve read in a long time. You’ll get some idea of just how obnoxious it was from the title: What Are Women For? But his content and conclusions were equally horrible. Rather than rehash all of that here, you can go read what I wrote about it at the time.

I say all of that by way of introduction to the reason I was intrigued when I saw that Poulos had written something titled: The contemptuous certainty of Barack Obama. You might recall that recently I used President Obama as the prime example in suggesting that uncertainty is a liberal value. So of course I was intrigued to find out how someone would accuse him of “contemptuous certainty.”

It seems that for Poulos, it is the President’s rejection of the “Washington Playbook” that is the problem. And he finds proof of that in the much-disputed profile of National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes by David Samuels.

It appears that President Obama decided very early on that the Beltway’s foreign policy establishment was not to be trusted to do the right thing — or even to think independently about what the right thing might be…

This crew, of which Rhodes is just one member, simply does not care that it has torched its reputation with a broad swath of D.C.’s most reasonable and experienced foreign policy makers and analysts…

To a key set of mainliners, Democrats included, whom Clinton will need to rally, Rhodes’ words came off as a bizarre and unseemly end zone dance on behalf of an inner circle whose deep disrespect for the foreign policy establishment is an open secret in Washington.

It is not often that one actually finds comfort in the analysis of right wing conservatives. But that was exactly my reaction to reading this. During the Cold War, even Democratic Presidents didn’t do much to distinguish themselves from perpetuating the mistakes of the Washington Playbook. To see a conservative accurately depict the current occupant of the White House as someone who has been willing to earn their contempt is a great relief…finally!

 

By: Nancy  LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2016

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Ben Rhoads, Foreign Policy, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“He Has A History”: As Journalists, Let Us Not Tiptoe Around Trump, The Nominee

Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and now journalists must decide how to cover him.

How do we reconcile the carnival act he’s been with the seriousness of what is now at stake?

Do we cast him as a man equal to the gravitas of the position he seeks instead of the guy, for example, who proudly harangued President Barack Obama for proof that he was born in Hawaii?

Do we cover him as the contender with a suddenly measured tone without also reminding voters of his long habit of misogynist commentary? For another example, commentary such as this about Rosie O’Donnell: “I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’” Or this, about Megyn Kelly after she dared remind him during the first Republican debate that he has called women he doesn’t like “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals”: Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever.”

“Women,” Trump has said, “you have to treat them like sh-t.”

Yes, I’ve written about this before. And yes, I will continue to write about it. How can we possibly pretend Trump never said stuff like this — that it doesn’t really matter — and expect any thinking American to take us seriously?

I’m going to watch this coverage with the fierce focus of a hound on the hunt, and I am confident that I will not be the only columnist or the only woman to do so. As I’ve written a number of times in recent months, this is not the misogyny of the 2008 campaign, but only because so many of us women are older now and we are so done with this.

This morning, by the way, I listened as several male panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talked about how Hillary Clinton is so unlikable compared with garrulous Trump. I heard this on satellite radio as I drove to work. I don’t recommend doing that if you want to have any faith in Beltway punditry or if you have an interest in driving within the lines. To quote my friend Joanna Kuebler, it’s as if they start their day with a heaping bowl of testosteroni.

It is one thing to cover Trump as the Republican nominee. It is quite another to pretend that he isn’t the same man who has repeatedly used the language of misogyny — and racism and xenophobia, too. He refused to rebuke an endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. He told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women should “face some sort of punishment” for getting legal abortions. He said Muslims should be banned from entering our country. He has a history, this man, this billionaire reality TV star, and it must follow him every day of this presidential race.

As I pointed out in a public post on Facebook earlier this week, I understand the challenges of reporting about Trump, one of which is to avoid appearing as if we’re punishing him for hating us. He openly disdains the media and enjoys inciting crowds to mock journalists at his rallies. We tread a fine line in describing his behavior without looking as if we are taking it personally.

Add to that problem some editors who can be too quick to temper their reporters’ coverage to avoid another avalanche of outrage from Trump fans. This tentativeness chips away at the sharp edges of journalism while accomplishing nothing in the way of placating our critics. A person who loves Trump has no use for us anyway. Why are we worried about defending the truth to people who’ve decided they’re so over that?

I ask that we journalists not tiptoe around the obvious hallmarks of who Donald Trump is. He may attempt to dial back the rhetoric, but that doesn’t change who we know him to be.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, May 5, 2016

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Journalism, Journalists, Reporters | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Trump Is Dangerous To Women”: In His Vision Of America, Women Have No Rights

There is perhaps no one in recent American political history who has outdone expectations as drastically as Donald Trump.

I do not mean this as a compliment. What I mean is that even as we have come to expect Donald Trump to say and be the absolute worst—to burrow beneath what previously seemed to be the garbage-strewn bottom—he continues to unashamedly dive to once unthinkable depths, outdistancing even the scavengers and bottom-feeders who preceded him.

An example of this occurred on Wednesday, when Trump stated that as president he would seek not only to ban abortion, but also to ensure that women who illegally obtained them should face “some kind of punishment.” Perhaps because the notion of criminalizing abortion and then exacting some kind of twisted revenge on women goes beyond even the rhetoric of the far-right anti-choice crowd, interviewer Chris Matthews gave Trump a chance to clarify his remarks.

“For the woman?” Matthews asked.

“Yeah. There has to be some form [of punishment],” Trump replied.

This is a man who has built his political—and if we go back even further, his public—brand on sexualizing, degrading, insulting and vocally and enthusiastically hating women. He makes jokes about newswomen being on their periods, about a fellow candidate’s wife being ugly. He has said countless terrible things about many, many prominent women. And in kind, his supporters dedicate time at rallies to violently shoving teenage girls, to allegedly groping and macing them in the face. Even his campaign manager allegedly physically attacked a reporter for doing her job.

And yet, Trump still finds a way to be worse, to keep digging beyond this.

A few days ago, one of Trump’s key advisers—a woman named Stephanie Cegielski—resigned. On her way out, she wrote an open letter that essentially accused Trump of being a know-nothing, power-hungry blowhard (I’m paraphrasing) whose entire persona may be contrived. Maybe that means Trump is not the misogynist (racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, nativist, transphobe) he plays on TV, or on the campaign trail. Maybe it’s all just talk to win hardened, bitter hearts and minds, which he only wants because his lust for power can never be quenched.

Yeah, maybe. I honestly don’t know if Trump hates women, and frankly, at this point, I don’t care. None of us, at this point, should give a shit about Trump’s personal psychology. That’s a problem for his shrink, who can never be paid enough.

What’s more important is the fact that Trump either believes or plays to the most misogynist elements of this country, the consequences of which are very real. When asked about issues of importance, from women’s reproductive rights to whether he’s down with the KKK, he says yes and later sort of says no, a way of cynically playing both sides of the fence to be sure he doesn’t alienate those who see themselves in the mirror of his terribleness. (Case in point: His backpedaling on Wednesday’s remarks.) He stokes anger and hatred toward women and then stands back and watches as his crowd, who were pretty hateful to being with, has their worst ideas of women confirmed and even applauded. He revels in their bile and ignorance, offering a safe space to be a woman-hating asshole whose every problem would be solved if only feminism and Black Lives Matter would go away.

With his latest remarks, Trump is advocating for an America where women have no agency over their bodies; where dangerous back-alley abortions are once again the norm; and where the health of women—especially those who have the gall to have sex—is inconsequential. A United States where women are mostly seen (if they are pretty), but heard only when they’re saying what men want to hear. Poor women, women of color and LGBT women would be even more disenfranchised and invisible. Trump is helping guide us toward being a country where violence against women is okay, in both word and deed. It’s disgusting and frightening. And it’s not that far from being a reality.

Donald Trump stopped being funny a long time ago, but the Woman Hater’s Club he’s built will, I’m certain, find all new ways to be horrible. Be outraged, be angry, make fun of Trump’s supporters, but know that won’t stop him. We’re long past that point. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and ridicule him. Trump’s medieval America is too dangerous and backward just to watch happen.

 

By: Kali Holloway, Senior Writer and Associate Editor of Media and Culture, AlterNet, March 30, 2016

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Abortion, Donald Trump, Violence Against Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why I Want It All”: Gloria, Madeleine And We

The last time I stood in front of Gloria Steinem, in the fall of 2012, she spent little time talking to me.

Instead, she trained her laser-focus on the 24-year-old woman next to me. This was my daughter, whose favorite doll in early childhood was a blonde Cabbage Patch girl named Gloria Steinem.

We were in Hartford for a sold-out panel discussion for the Connecticut Forum — featuring Ashley Judd, Michelle Bernard, Gloria and me — on “The State of Women.” When Cait heard that I would be less than two hours from her home in Providence, she considered driving up. When I told her Gloria Steinem was also on the panel, I closed the deal.

What I remember most about that evening was the glow on my daughter’s face as Gloria leaned in and asked her about her life. I couldn’t recount a word of their exchange, but I will never forget the full-circle joy that blurred my vision.

I share this story not to excuse what Gloria said on Bill Maher’s show last week but to explain why I won’t let one clumsy comment diminish who I know her to be.

Maher asked her why so many young women are supporting Bernie Sanders. She has since apologized for this response: “Women get more radical as we get older. Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, and women get more radical because they lose power as they age. … When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.”

I understand the angry response of many young women, but when the outrage turns to rancor and declarations of her irrelevance, I bristle. Gloria Steinem has been a steadfast champion of this millennial generation of women, many of whom have likely never said her name aloud before this week. At 81, she has earned our benefit of the doubt.

It didn’t help that, in the same weekend, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stood next to Hillary Clinton and warned younger women, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” She has said the same thing countless times, often to rapturous cheers, but her timing was off.

At 58, I’m young enough to have found Steinem and Albright inspiring for many years. I even admire their impatience in this presidential year. It is comforting to see a small part of me in my heroes.

How to explain this? I think about that a lot. It’s not that I believe young women have to support Hillary Clinton. I just want them to understand why it’s so personal for many of us who do. We can rattle off all Clinton’s qualifications as the reasons to elect her, and we mean it. But there’s also the woman-ness of it all. Why are we still such a tough sell, even to one another?

In our family, three daughters and a daughter-in-law have careers and young children and a sense of self that triggers a deep longing in me. Sometimes I watch them and wonder, “Who are you?” It is a question of awe, not envy, and a reflection of my own what-ifs. Who might I be now had I been like them in my 20s? It took me so much longer to turn up the dimmer on my own ambition.

Not this generation. Everywhere I go, it seems, I meet young women who leave me breathless. They are teaching and preaching and delivering babies. Once a year, one of them calms my nerves before she walks behind the wall and tells me to hold my breath for the mammogram.

Sometimes, I am at my clumsiest with them, feeing a rush of unearned pride. Who am I, a stranger, to take glory in these young women’s lives? I feel so silly, so full of this song in my heart.

Finally, it seems, I understand how my own mother felt as she watched her daughters leave her behind to navigate a world she had never imagined for herself. Days before she died, she told me she wished she had stuck up for herself more in her marriage.

I braced myself and said, “What would you have done differently, Mom?”

She lifted her weak, manicured hand and pointed to her head. “I would have dyed my hair red,” she said. “And I would have had cats.”

They used to ask for so little, the women in my family.

Maybe that, too, is why I want it all.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mutual Back-Scratching Session With Donald Trump”: Where’s Bill O’Reilly’s Full-Throated Defense Of Megyn Kelly?

Fox News is an organization famous for loyalty. The culture starts from the top, where boss Roger Ailes sits. When anchors come under fire for some reason or other, Ailes is there to back them up. A year ago, for instance, ratings king Bill O’Reilly struggled to respond to a plume of reports documenting how he’d misled people about past reportorial exploits. Whereas other news organizations would audit such a situation, Ailes supported O’Reilly and waited out the storm.

On his program last night, O’Reilly demonstrated how not to return the favor. In a highly anticipated quasi-interview/mutual back-scratching session with Donald Trump, O’Reilly carefully avoided a full-throated endorsement of his colleague Megyn Kelly. Trump has been hammering Kelly ever since the Aug. 6 GOP debate in Cleveland, when she sought an explanation from Trump about how he’d mistreated women over the years. In tweets and interviews, Trump has called Kelly a “lightweight” and cheekily used the term “bimbo” in criticizing her, among other insults — conduct that speaks to the righteousness of Kelly’s Cleveland question.

In recent days, Trump renewed his rips against Kelly and on Tuesday his campaign announced he wouldn’t be showing up for tonight’s Fox News debate, at which Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace will serve as moderators. Trump will hold his own event in Iowa at the same time as the Fox News debate.

A way-too-long conversation on “The O’Reilly Factor” accorded the host a great number of opportunities to rebuff Trump for invoking the term “bimbo” in a tweet about Kelly; to stand foursquare behind Kelly’s Aug. 6 question; and to otherwise stand up for journalism. He turned them down, perhaps preferring not to rupture his decades-long friendship with the real-estate mogul.

Sure, O’Reilly gave the three moderators a vote of confidence, telling Trump that they’d treat him fairly if he decided to show up for the contest. And he did say that Kelly’s question was “within journalistic bounds.”

That said, O’Reilly did some retroactive editing of his prime-time Fox News colleague: “If I had been debate moderator last August, I would have asked you about that comment. I wouldn’t ask it the same way. But once you said something about Carly Fiorina, you open the door for it,” said O’Reilly to Trump. There’s a mistake in there: Kelly didn’t ask about Fiorina at the Aug. 6 Cleveland debate. The controversial and very sexist comments from Trump about Fiorina — “Look at that face!” he said in mocking his fellow candidate’s appearance — surfaced in a September Rolling Stone interview. With her famous question one month earlier in Cleveland, Kelly was focusing on other sexist comments by Trump. Here’s the transcript:

Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Your Twitter account … has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

When O’Reilly says he wouldn’t have asked that question the “same way,” what he means is that he would have said, “Mr. Trump, my friend of many decades, with whom I’ve gone to many sporting events and bought a great number of milkshakes, would your presidency help women?”

 

By: Eric Wemple, The Erik Wemple Blog, Opinion Page, The Washington Post, January 28, 2016

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, Roger Ailes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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