More Politics

So, I saw Paranormal Activity 4 on Monday night. Short review: Pretty disappointing, but I’ll still go to Paranormal Activity 5 on opening night.

I am happy to report, however, that my skills as a political prognosticator took a big hit from the debate. You see, one reason I was especially unenthusiastic about watching the debate in real time was that I was certain it would be a disaster for Obama. I figured Romney would just fire off the standard Republican talking points. You know the litany. Obama’s weakness led to Benghazi and Syria. He threw Israel under the bus. China and Russia push him around. He goes to the Arab world and apologizes for America. Blah blah blah. All nonsense, but all pre-chewed and easily digestible for low-information voters. I figured Obama would be on the defensive all night, and why did I want to spend ninety minutes watching that?

Boy was I wrong! Romney, as usual, just pretended that the previous year of campaigning never happened and jettisoned every position he had ever taken. He couldn’t embrace Obama quickly enough. He took the daring and controversial position of being pro-peace. The scuttlebutt among the pundits was that Romney must have had internal numbers showing that suburban women didn’t like his blatant disrespect for the President in previous debates. Romney probably figures that the base is on board now, and they will know better than to take seriously anything he is currently saying.

The pundits were also quick to make it clear that while there is no question that Obama won “on points,” savvy, sophisticated people understand that such things Do Not Matter. Never mind that Obama knew where all the countries were and spoke confidently about his policies, while Romney thinks that Syria is Iran’s route to the sea. Never mind that Romney plainly had never used the word “Pashtun” in a sentence prior to Monday night, and that his little soliloquy on the structure of Pakistan’s government came straight from Wikipedia. No. What matters is that Romney passed “the Commander-in-Chief test,” and that he assured the low-information voters that he is not a war-mongering fanatic.

I saw a telling exchange on MSNBC this morning. The pundits were all showing their profound seriousness by pointing out the irrelevance of substance and the cynical savviness of Romney’s debate strategy. Then one panelist suggested that maybe the voters were not as stupid as the pundits were suggesting. They may not know the fine points of difficult foreign policy questions, but they know when someone is faking it. She pointed to the dominant opinions on social media, which were generally mocking of Romney. The other pundits just scoffed at that idea and shook their heads sadly at such naivete. Sadly, they were probably right to do so.

In other news, here’s the latest in the Republican War on Women:

Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared Tuesday night he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because “it is something that God intended to happen.”

Debating Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in their final Senate race showdown, a questioner asked them and Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning to explain their views on abortion.

All three said they were anti-abortion. But Mourdock went the further, putting himself in territory near Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, the anti-abortion congressman who infamously asserted that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother,” said Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed state treasurer. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Rape is something that God intends to happen. Charming.

Make no mistake, that is not a fringe view among Republicans. That’s the mainstream view. All Republicans of any prominence either believe precisely that, or are unwilling to offer anything but the most tepid criticism of those who do. If women did not already have the right to vote, the modern Republican Party would not support giving it to them.

As always, though, maybe I’m missing the forest for the trees. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill has a solid lead over Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. What should have been a sold Republican pick-up is now a nearly certain hold for the Democrats. Prior to the Indiana debate, that Senate race was already a dead heat. Now there’s a real possibility that it will be a Democratic pick-up. The latest polls in Massachusetts suggest that Elizabeth Warren finally has things under control. At the Presidential level, we know that in my own state of Virginia, the extreme anti-woman rhetoric from the Republicans does not play well. Gov. McDonnell probably scuppered his chance to be the Vice-Presidential nominee when his initial support for an invasive ultrasound bill led to a severe backlash among women. Hopefully all of those women will show up at the polls in November. And the polls in Ohio are still solidly in Obama’s favor.

We’ll find out soon enough. Only one poll that matters and all that…

Comments

  1. #1 Thanny
    October 24, 2012

    It’s worth repeating that making exceptions for rape is not the most reasonable anti-abortion position. It’s the least reasonable.

    If one believes that abortion is equivalent to murder, it doesn’t matter how the fetus was conceived. It follows naturally from that position that the only legitimate exception would be to prevent killing the mother. The failure of reasoning is in the equation of abortion and murder.

    So if you are anti-abortion, but allow exceptions for rape, then you are not interested in preventing abortions. You are interested in controlling the reproductive habits of women. It is no coincidence that so many anti-abortion advocates also oppose birth control.

  2. #2 eric
    October 24, 2012

    The scuttlebutt among the pundits was that Romney must have had internal numbers showing that suburban women didn’t like his blatant disrespect for the President in previous debates.

    IANAP but another possibility is just pure gamesmanship. If you are playing a betting game with someone, and you find yourself in the lead, one strategy to maintain that lead and win is to bet with them for the rest of the game. Its a maximin strategy; eliminate your chance of losing ground even if it means giving up your chance to gain more ground.

    If Romney thinks that his poll numbers are as good as they’re ever going to get, then a safe strategy is to not draw any more distinction between himself and the President.

    [quoting news source] Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared Tuesday night he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape…

    Oh it gets worse. Via Ed Brayton’s site, it appears Ill incumbent Joe Walsh has declared (during a debate with the democratic challenger, Tammy Duckworth) that he is against abortion “without exception.” And that he does not think the procedure is ever necessary to save the life of the mother.

  3. #3 SLC
    October 24, 2012

    Another issue that the lamestream media is not covering is a bill in the House of Representatives that would arbitrarily declare that life begins at conception (e.g. fertilization). It is my information that one of the sponsors of the bill is none other then Congressman Paul Ryan, Rmoney’s running mate. Rmoney has declared that he would sign such a bill if it came to his desk as president.

    Aside from this position being scientifically preposterous, it would have the following effect. It would make illegal the practice of in vitro fertilization. That’s because the practice requires the removal of several eggs from the putative mother which, to greatly oversimplify, are then fertilized by placing them in a petri dish and spraying them with semen (this is, as stated, a considerable oversimplification because the procedure is more complicated then this simple description). The problem is that many or most of the eggs are fertilized as a result of this procedure but only one is implanted in the female subject. The rest are frozen for possible use later but, because of mutations that occur, cannot be kept indefinitely and are eventually discarded. It’s the discarding that runs afoul of the proposed law as those eggs that have been fertilized are human beings according to this proposed law and hence such discarding would be murder.

    What the lamestream media has not reported is that 2 of Rmoney’s sons have low sperm counts and the use of in vitro fertilization was required in order for their wives to conceive. This demonstrates the fecklessness of Rmoney as his sons underwent a procedure that he would outlaw and deny to other such couples where the man has a low sperm count. We might also point to former Vice-President Cheney’s daughter, Mary, who has borne two children via in vitro fertilization.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    October 24, 2012

    All Republicans of any prominence either believe precisely that, or are unwilling to offer anything but the most tepid criticism of those who do.

    This has been the case for about 20 years now, the only difference being that now they are not afraid to say this in public. Attitudes like this led my mother, a Republican for the first 50-odd years of her life, to swear off voting for Republicans around the mid-1990s. I had done so earlier–the signs of the theocon rise among Republicans were already apparent to me in the mid-1980s.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Rep. Paul “evolution and cosmology are lies from the pit of hell” Broun. Scary thought of the day: both Broun and Akin are on the House science committee.

  5. #5 Blaine
    October 24, 2012

    If any of you have read _The Republican Brain_ or The _Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion_, you’ll know why Romney does and says the things he does.
    Come on, wake up! He thinks his underwear with the Masonic symbols, has special powers. He’s a typical Republican CEO who has to special order drool proof paper to write on.

  6. #6 eric
    October 24, 2012

    Aside from this position being scientifically preposterous, it would have the following effect. It would make illegal the practice of in vitro fertilization.

    Are you talking about Rand Paul’s amendment to the flood insurance bill? That’s from June or July – I thought the House got it passed without the amendment. If they didn’t, the entire bill is probably dead for the session, just due to election politics.
    Such things are often more political gesture than anything else. Sort of like Congress declaring a national bible month or whatever – its irksome that they would even symbolically do this, but it doesn’t do anything to the legality of other actions.

    While nobody should count on it, there is also the possibility that any such amendment will get removed in committee. One of the strangest parts of our lawmaking process is that things that pass in both the House and the Senate sometimes get removed by the committee, even though their supposed job is just to rectify any differences.

  7. #7 JimR
    October 24, 2012

    I got tired of the found footage films which the first PA film had. I don’t know if the others have had that, but “found footage” is a killer statement to not see a movie. (have not seen any of the PA series)

  8. #8 Strider
    October 24, 2012

    I’m still trying to figure out why Jason went to see PA I-III

  9. #9 Kevin
    October 24, 2012

    Obama knew where all the countries were.

    Is this the same Obama who thinks Argentina is laying claim to the Maldives, that Canada has a president, that Austrian is a language, and that the US has 58 states?

    I am glad he is brushing up on his political geography. Maybe he can help his Vice-President distinguish Libya from Syria.

  10. #10 Deepak Shetty
    October 24, 2012

    Rape is something that God intends to happen. Charming.
    The latest clarification is that God intends the pregnancy to happen , not the rape. The omni-everything God doesn’t intend the rape to happen but once it does happen God makes sure the sperm fertilizes the egg in some cases even if contra Akin the body is trying to shut down to prevent the pregnancy or something.

  11. #11 Darth Dog
    October 24, 2012

    So Mourdock said that when a women conceives after rape that it is God’s intent. But Aiken said that women can’t conceive after rape. Huh?

    This is all so confusing. I guess I am just not smart enough to be a fundamentalist. Or a Republican.

  12. #12 Lenoxus
    October 24, 2012

    I would be interested in a theologian of any stripe explaining exactly which sorts of things that do happen are what God intended or not. Surely it’s all-or-nothing?

    Would any of the neocons say God intended 9/11, or what? (Actually, I know the answer is that some of them did.)

    I admit I may be over-simplifying; maybe there’s a “deeper” sense in which God intends everything that happens but another “surface” sense in which only some occurances are “acts of God”. (Like the difference between subconscious/instinctive and conscious/intentional acts.) But the actual distinction has never been clear to me.

  13. #13 eric
    October 25, 2012

    maybe there’s a “deeper” sense in which God intends everything that happens but another “surface” sense in which only some occurances are “acts of God”. (Like the difference between subconscious/instinctive and conscious/intentional acts.) But the actual distinction has never been clear to me.

    Think of it as the diference between: the casino intends to win money on the game of craps (deep sense), vs. the casino intends to substitute rigged dice to win (superficial miracle/act of God sense). The former intent does not imply the latter intent.

  14. #14 SLC
    October 25, 2012

    Re Kevin

    Ah gee Kevin, Maldives when he should have said Malvinas (which is the name that Argentina gives to the islands). That’s kind of an easy mistake to make. Surely Kevin can do better then that.

  15. #15 Raging Bee
    October 25, 2012

    So if you are anti-abortion, but allow exceptions for rape, then you are not interested in preventing abortions. You are interested in controlling the reproductive habits of women.

    Do you really think that people who DON’T allow such exceptions are any better, or have different motivations?

  16. #16 Thanny
    October 28, 2012

    Raging Bee,

    I just explained that they do have different motivations.

    People who believe abortion is equivalent to murder would naturally reject exceptions in the case of rape. We don’t say it’s OK to murder someone because you really don’t like them. Someone who wants no exceptions made is being sincere. They’re just wrong about abortion being equivalent to murder.

    Those opposed to abortion who are willing to make exceptions for rape clearly do not perceive abortion as equivalent to murder, though they may lie and say they do. The denial of abortion is a denial of control. They make exceptions for rape because the woman had no control over the pregnancy.

    Is either group better than the other? I’m not sure I’d use that word. One group makes a category error and wants to force the rest of society to make that same error. The other group wants to control the sexual behavior of women. There is no better there. There is worse, and I say the worse group is the one that has the highest chance of infecting our legal system with their nonsense.

    But I do have less contempt for someone who is wrong but sincere, than someone who is domineering and dishonest.

  17. #17 Greg Esres
    October 28, 2012

    route to the sea

    I would have assumed that this was a metaphor, but maybe I’m giving him too much credit.

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