Paul Krugman had some interesting things to say about the Republican Trump phenomenon a couple of days ago:
For 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.
Of course, as Krugman goes on to elaborate, the heart of the matter is how one says ridiculous things. Establishment GOP political operatives are sure the nonsense has to be hidden in smooth-sounding rhetoric or in the by-now almost proverbial “dog-whistles.” Trump’s sin is that he has said outright what other folks either present in coded form or in sympathetic, “conventional-sounding” boiler-plate. GOP politicians concerned with maintaining their viability think they can talk mush-mouth to hide the irrational and/or mean-side of the positions preferred by the rabid base they can’t afford to abandon but which is too small to be relied upon exclusively.
Know what that column put me in mind of? Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2) who succeeded certifiably nuts Todd Akin, he of “legitimate rape” fame. We’re told that Missouri’s GOP insiders believe she’s an antidote to Akin’s craziness, a respectable GOP establishment politician and a woman to boot. But is there really that much difference between the two?
Take the topic of women’s reproductive rights. Akin was not only opposed to abortion in all cases, but attempted to define contraception as abortion. As Amanda Marcotte observed in The Guardian, Akin and his Christian right cohorts:
… believe that women controlling their own fertility is the equivalent of murder, and will distort the facts any way they can to rationalise that view. Indeed, prior to Akin’s rape comments, he was on record claiming that emergency contraception, which works by suppressing ovulation, is abortion. Presumably the same made-up doctors who told him that rape is contraception were the ones telling him that actual contraception is abortion.
In short, Akin was an anti-abortion fanatic who disregarded science and other inconvenient facts and who did not scruple to use spurious claims to further his aims.
Now take a look at Wagner. She’s on the record not only demanding that Planned Parenthood be investigated but denied federal funding based on videos that have been widely acknowledged to have been heavily edited by the radical anti-abortion group that filmed them in order to mislead. There can be no doubt that Wagner also knows the videos are BS – she’s really not an idiot – but she’s still willing to characterize the falsified view of Planned Parenthood that they present as a depiction of “the most evil thing I have ever seen.”
If, as a result of cheerleaders like Wagner, Congress actually does cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, it will not affect abortions offered by the organization – it is already forbidden by law to use federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Instead it will affect the organization’s ability to offer reproductive health care, including contraception – as a Washington Post article observed, “Planned Parenthood practically invented contraception,” thus earning the persistent animus of the radical right. By going after Planned Parenthood, Wagner is allying herself with the same radical extremists who wish to roll back the clock on women’s right to control their bodies. Doing it by referring to doctored videos is just the cherry on top of the sundae.
If you look at the evidence, it seems that Wagner, like Akin, is also an anti-abortion fanatic who will disregard science and other inconvenient facts and who will not scruple to use spurious claims to further her aims. Remember that when you hear her spouting mumbo-jumbo about how she just wants to “protect” women and their “unborn children” from late term abortions – without mentioning that such abortions are exceedingly rare (1% of all abortions) and almost always undertaken for serious medical reasons. Same ole, same ole.
Make no mistake, Wagner wants Roe v. Wade to go away and take easy access to contraception with it. Like Akin, she’ll lie and obfuscate to achieve that end. Unlike Akin, she’ll smile and coo while she does it.
From Catherine Hanaway’s “How to become Governor of Missouri” checklist:
1. Goal: Find a simpatico billionaire to pave the roads with gold.
Achievements to date:
— Nearly $1 million dollars from one donor, megabucks political meddler, Rex Sinquefield.
— Ask Rex what he wants; submit bill.
2. Goal: Make nice with GOP crazy wing.
Achievements to date:
— Channeled the spirit of Todd Akin; attributed poverty, depravity and pedophilia to female sexual autonomy.
— Kudos from Constitutional Party, holly-rollier-than-thou, Cynthia Davis who responds to the Akin imitation with thanks to “brave women, like Catherine Hanaway, for having the courage and moral fortitude to speak the truth” about the sluts who “who have been beguiled into making their bodies available to men outside of Holy Matrimony.”
— Continue talking about keeping the sluts barefoot, pregnant and under Big Daddy’s thumb.
— With the understanding, of course, none of that talk applies to educated, rich Republican women who run for office.
3. Goal: Make nice with Missouri GOP power-brokers.
Achievements to date:
— Former Missouri Governor and U.S. Senator Kit Bond – will put loyalty to former employees and friends over policy differences.
— Former GOP National Committee Missouri member Ann Dickinson – goes where Kit Bond leads.
— Very connected U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner – all in for Hanaway – and why not since she’s the GOPs A-1 talent scout for women who can mouth the Republican anti-women line without retching.
— State Rep. Ed Emery, ALEC’s main man in Missouri.
— Take a loyalty oath to ALEC.
— Hit the country club circuit.
4. Goal: Squash the other main GOP primary contender, Tom Schweich, like a bug.
Achievements to date:
— Long Version: Read former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth’s eulogy for Tom Schweich to get the whole story.
— Short Version: Read TPM’s description of the way the old, political one-two works – or what Hanaway supporters and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bill McCellan want to call politics as usual.
— Issued statement after announcement of Schweich’s suicide about what a mensch he was … oops! Make that what an “extraordinary man with an extraordinary record of service to our state and nation.”
— Suspend campaign, lie low and maybe State GOP Chair and former Hanaway oppo researcher John Hancock will take all the heat.
* Edited slightly; inadvertently omitted text added back under achievements on 4th point.
…this could be considered irrefutable proof of a deity with a sense of humor. Or that she’s really pissed. That would depend on the outcome.
Former Representative Todd Akin (r) [2012 file photo].
Tony Messenger @tonymess
#RunToddRun 4:23 PM – 25 Feb 2015
Close your eyes and make a wish:
February 25, 2015, 05:14 pm
The return of Todd Akin?
By Jonathan Easley
Todd Akin is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016.
“I have not ruled anything out,” the former congressman and 2012 GOP Senate nominee told The Hill in a phone interview on Wednesday….
Oh, this could get really interesting.
Yesterday Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander announced his intention to run for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Roy Blunt in 2016. Although Blunt is so well- established in the state political hierarchy, and his campaign coffers are so full that defeating him will be a rough slog in a state that, as the DailyKos notes, “has become increasingly Republican in recent years, especially at the federal level,” Kander will be a credible opponent:
Kander enters the contest with the backing of Missouri’s Democratic statewide elected officials, and he’s unlikely to face any real primary opposition. Kander has only won statewide once, but he proved in 2012 that he is capable of prevailing in tough races. He defeated then-state Rep. Shane Schoeller 49-47 at the same time Mitt Romney was carrying the Show Me State 54-44. As an Afghanistan veteran, Kander also has a background that contrasts well with Blunt, who has served in Congress for decades.
I suspect that implicit in the contrast the writer was implying when he noted that Blunt has “served in congress for decades,” is the fact that the folks Blunt has served most diligently during those decades are the ones who can fork over the dollars. It’s not for nothing that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) selected Blunt as one of the most corrupt members in congress – an honor that, as far as I remember, didn’t get too much play in the local press where folks seem to be very wary of offending a powerful politician, not to mention the daddy of former governor Matt Blunt, who, incidentally, had to field his own corruption scandals (see here, here, and here), some of them in tandem with his father.
Yesterday evening I got a sample of that curious reluctance of local media folks to tell it like it is when it comes to Roy Blunt. Donnybrook is a local St. Louis public television program where a few minor, local media people of almost all persuasions, from the center left to far right (no hard-core progressives – that doesn’t seem to be done in St. Louis “power” circles), get together to discuss local current events. Naturally, Kander’s announcement came up. I was shocked to hear the tenor of the comments, including some from the putatively “liberal” donnybrookers.
“Roy Blunt is a darn good politician” one participant noted, adding that although Missouri has liberal media in Kansas City and St. Louis, “Blunt gets pretty darn good press; he’s almost error free, controversy free.” While my mouth dropped, another added that Blunt is a “seasoned, good politician, the press likes him, he’s personable, not crazy” and, get this, “he’s scandal free.” To be fair, a panel member, Wendy Wiese, did point out the scandals surrounding the tenure of Matt Blunt in which his father was seriously implicated, including the connections to “K-street,” and “quid pro quo,” but even she agreed that all that had “quieted down.”
So we live in a state and a time where simply not being one of the crazies and hanging on through scandal after scandal not only qualifies one for office, but, given a firm enough power base, renders one unbeatable. The other operative issue seemed to be that the Missouri press “likes” Blunt – a fact that is borne out by the fact that the scandals have “quieted” down. Many of them didn’t get much coverage, if any, to start with, apart from maybe an occasional editorial in those bastions of that “liberal media” referred to in the discussion. Remember Roy Blunt’s “Montsanto Protection Act” just a couple of years ago? Hardly controversy free by my standards.
I realize that the Donnybrook pundits were trying to talk about the political “horse race” and not the real virtues of the candidates – but I don’t think that handicapping the race need preclude recognition and serious mention of the accusations that have dogged and continue to dog Roy Blunt. I also realize that our definition of political corruption has narrowed to include only easily identifiable acts of bribery – which have come close to dinging Blunt in the past – but it wouldn’t hurt if a few media figures such as those pontificating on Donnybrook were willing to look at the things that Roy Blunt seems to care passionately about – if one can use the word “passionately” about such a lazy politician – and trace the relationship between those issues and his financial sponsors.
Even in strictly horse race terms, a fresh, and truly scandal free politician like Kander might actually give a tired, damaged piece of goods like Roy Blunt a run for his money if only state media were willing to ask the real Roy Blunt to “come on down.” Instead, I heard only condescendingly tolerant treatment of Kander who, the Donnybrook regulars noted, “will have a tough row to hoe.” But hey, the official pseudo-liberal on the panel, Bill McClellan, added that if he wants “to play in the big leagues before he’s ready,” why not let him; after all, McClellan implied, what harm can the kid really do?
Also at the level of horse race journalism, I didn’t hear one word about how 2016 will be a presidential election which could bring out a somewhat more balanced constituency. Maybe if we Democrats can finally oppose Blunt with a viable, honest candidate who isn’t afraid of standing up for his beliefs, our junior Senator won’t be able to coast into office once again by capitalizing on his opponent’s fear of red state bile – center-hugging Robin Carnahan, anyone – and the perception that he’ll be okay just because he’s not quite as stark raving crazy as the type of nutjobs that Missouri has become famous for, folks like Cynthia Davis, Rick Brattin or, most notoriously, Todd Akin – who, incidentally, may be hoping to firm up Roy Blunt’s “not crazy” credentials by providing the necessary contrast with the real, worst thing in the GOP primaries.
Representative Rick Brattin (r) [file photo]
It’s Missouri and a right wingnut republican opens his mouth in public. What could possibly happen?:
This Lawmaker Wants Women to Get Permission From the Father Before Having an Abortion
Unless it was “legitimate rape.”
-By Molly Redden
| Wed Dec. 17, 2014 6:15 AM EST
A Missouri Republican is pushing a bill that would allow a man who gets a woman pregnant to stop her from having an abortion. The measure would force a woman who wants an abortion to obtain written permission from the father first-unless she was the victim of “legitimate rape.”
Rick Brattin, a state representative from outside Kansas City, filed the bill on December 3 for next year’s legislative session. The proposed measure reads, “No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.”
….Not Brattin. The father of five says that his recent vasectomy was the inspiration for this bill.
“When a man goes in for that procedure-at least in the state of Missouri-you have to have a consent form from your spouse in order to have that procedure done,” he says. “Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being’s life, and I needed to get a signed form…But on ending a life, you don’t. I think that’s pretty twisted.”
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, a group of clinics that perform vasectomies, says that there is no law in Missouri requiring a man to get another person’s permission for a vasectomy….
There’s that phrase again.
The bill, pre-filed on December 3rd:
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 131 [pdf]
98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE BRATTIN.
0411H.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 188.027, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to consent requirements for abortions.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 188.027, RSMo, is repealed and one new section enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 188.027, to read as follows:
13. No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion, except in cases in which the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced was the victim of rape or incest and the pregnancy resulted from the rape or incest. If the father of the unborn child is deceased, the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced shall sign a notarized affidavit attesting to the fact. No physician shall perform or induce an abortion unless and until the physician has obtained the written consent required in this subsection. The physician shall retain a copy of the consent or affidavit in the patient’s medical record.
[emphasis in original]
Can we stop pretending that Todd Akin (r) is an anomaly in the republican party?
HB 291: keping misooree stoopit (January 24, 2013)
Rep. Rick Brattin (r): cdesign proponentsists (February 9, 2014)
Former member of Congress and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin (r) [file photo].
Apparently Evita Mooselini has serious new competition:
Akin says that like Joe McCarthy, he was victim of political assassination
July 14, 2014 11:00 pm • By Chuck Raasch
….In a 15-minute telephone interview, the Republican [Todd] Akin compared his downfall in the 2012 Missouri Senate race to that of former Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis., who in the 1950s was discredited after making allegations that many thought overstated Communist influence in the U.S. government.
“I use McCarthy as an example of someone who was assassinated by the media, so he had no credibility,” Akin said, just as he believes he was politically assassinated by “intentional and dishonest” distortions of what he said about rape and pregnancy in 2012….
There are books to be sold.
Todd Akin (r): the republican cult of the victim (August 21, 2012)
Todd Akin @ToddAkin
I apologized but the liberal media is trying to make me drop out. (….)7:03 PM – 21 Aug 12
The early book reviews are in (November 22, 2012)
Nanny Mike Bloomberg @NannyMayor
Suggest “Stuck on Stupid” as title @politicalwire Rep. Todd Akin may write a book once he leaves Congress in January… (….) 7:29 AM – 26 Nov 12
You know how rightwingers really, really want to be viewed as victims? It seems to be a twisted variant on the old adage that the best offense is a defence. The claim is usually brought up to justify offensive behavior like asserting that the ACA mandate that compels employers to offer a full healthcare package to their employees constitutes religious persecution since women might collude with their doctors to get contraception that not only encourages what these folks think of as immoral behavior, but might kill a zygote. We all know the drill by now.
Todd Akin, the former congressman from Missouri’s second district, used to excel at this game; his last legislative effort in the House was a classic example of the “if you don’t let me misbehave, you’re persecuting me” gambit. He offered an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that would have permitted abusive and discriminatory behavior on the part of servicemen and women toward their LGBT colleagues. He claimed that since hostility toward LGBT individuals is often based on religious beliefs, prohibiting its expression amounts to religious persecution. I guess that nobody ever explained to Akin that professional standards of civility make today’s diverse military workplace better for everyone – even the religious fanatics whose fanaticism is never, ever under assault just because they are encouraged to act like part of the team at work.
News from TPM is that Akin has given an interview in which he continues to try to vindicate himself after his laughable “legitimate rape” gaffe. What better way than to go the victim route, particularly if he can claim an equivalence to someone really important like Hillary Clinton. Seems that Akin thinks that Clinton deserves the same hold-your-nose treatment that he got because, in the course of her career as a lawyer, she defended a child sex-offender and, as she was legally bound to do, did her best to get him off. Nor did she come to the defence of the women the righwing hauled out to accuse her husband during his sex scandal, for which Akin accuses her of being anti-woman. I don’t remember that Clinton was accused of rape or any real sexual crimes – just fibbing about consensual sex and propositioning staff. Tacky stuff, but not the kind of thing that would inspire the wronged wife to come to the defence of the “other” women. But still, the fact that she isn’t being pilloried from the left must, in Akin’s world view, mean that he is the victim of bias and he really wants to whine about the injustice of it all.
Akin is not the only conservative who is confused about how our law system works. Another recent example has been the outrage sparked in the Fox News world by Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Debo Adegbile, who like Clinton, had the gall to do what a defence lawyer does: uphold that pillar of our law that entitles all individuals accused of a crime to as good a defence as possible. Conservatives, in general, seem to have real problems with the nature of judicial process as opposed to moral judgement, and rarely seem to grasp the moral nature of the obligation that demands that lawyers carefully separate personal emotions and beliefs from the process of fulfilling their vital role in that process.
So is there parity between Clinton and Akin that we need to acknowledge? Clinton did a job of work and, as an ethical professional, she did her duty towards her client – just as the prosecutors tried to do the best job that they could do to represent the interests of the victim. That’s the way it works in the U.S. Akin, on the other hand, simply made a few dunderheaded public statements that revealed his real beliefs about women and sexuality. Lots of women heard Akin expressing these beliefs and, along with most educated, civilized folks, were so appalled that they put him out of office.
What’s worse, Akin gives every sign that, despite the opportunity to learn from his errors, he still holds fast to the beliefs that got him into trouble:
“My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down, was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization,” Akin writes, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google ‘stress and fertilization,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”
“The research is not conclusive, but there is considerable evidence that stress makes conception more difficult,” he continues. “And what could be more stressful than a rape?”
Reassuring to know that a lawmaker in the federal government looks so uncritically to Google for information. And that he then can’t even manage to understand the better articles. I performed the search he prescribes and learned that, overall, researchers do say that ongoing, systematic stress affects fertility over time – but not necessarily fertilization. And the key seems to be the systematic nature of the stress as opposed to a single traumatic event like rape. And even these possible relationships are not well understood.
So not only is Akin consistently wrongheaded, in his quest to deny the right to rape victims – and, ultimately, other women – to control their own bodies, he was and presumably is still willing to use political power to write laws that would widely promulgate such wrongheadedness. In contrast Hillary Clinton only conformed to her legal and moral obligation to do her job and represent a client to the best of her abilities. And if you’re still obsessing about Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadilloes, she may have helped defend his presidency from individuals willing – or coerced – to kiss and tell.
Maybe it’s time for Akin to accept the inevitable and stop bleating about how he’s been wronged. Somewhere down the line he’s going to have accept the fact that “Akin” has become the byword for the backward Republican approach to women and reproductive issues. No matter how many books he writes this won’t change. Apparently, given the tone of this latest interview, there’s also no chance of humility or intellectual growth on the part of the out-of-work politician.
Edited slightly for clarity, 6-17-14.
I was hard on Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill earlier today- and to be fair, her weasel ways when it comes to issues surrounding coal and carbon emissions, the points of contention in my earlier remarks, are upsetting. However, there are good reasons that so many of us keep on voting for her. This is an excellent example that lays out the contrast between McCaskill and “legitimate rape” Todd Akin, her opponent in the last election, in blinding color.