Forty-four weeks ago, in the wake of its lopsided loss to President Obama, Republican Party leaders unveiled a blueprint for expanding the GOP's base and opening up more doors to electoral success by directly appealing to, among others, women. And 44 weeks later the branding plan has flopped, with a new Pew Research poll revealing the party is widely still seen as "more extreme in its position" compared to the Democratic Party. (The GOP's also seen as far less interested in everyday people.)
Why the marketing failure? Because while the Republican Party talks about wanting to reach out with soothing reassurances, right-wing commentators keep launching barbed attacks that mock and belittle the personal choices women make.
Last week's far-right chatter from Fox News host Mike Huckabee about how Democrats supposedly tell women they have uncontrollable libidos and need government handouts, coupled with the unfounded attacks on Texas Democrat Wendy Davis for being a bad mom (she abandoned her kids to build her career!) who lived off a "Sugar Daddy" husband simply confirmed the conservatives' deep-seeded contempt; a disdain that can't be papered over with new RNC talking points.
The gender worldview conservatives are promoting? It's one where women sufficiently "control" their "reproductive system," and one where men are the sole approved providers, or supporters, for families; not working moms and certainly not "Uncle Sugar," as Huckabee referred to the federal government.
Condemning women for having too much sex and being bad mothers. Aside from that, who's to say there's a conservative War on Women?
From the January 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the January 24 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Fox host Mike Huckabee reportedly accused Democrats of telling women "they are helpless without Uncle Sugar" because "they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government."
According to The Washington Post, when speaking at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting, Huckabee claimed that Republicans empower women "to be something other than victims of their gender," in contrast to Democrats:
"I think it's time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a 'war on women,'" Huckabee said during a speech at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in Washington. "The fact is the Republicans don't have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender."
Huckabee said Democrats rely on women believing they are weaker than men and in need of government handouts, including the contraception mandate in Obamacare.
Huckabee said Democrats tell women "they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government."
Huckabee is a former governor of Arkansas and host of the Fox News program Huckabee.
UPDATE: Huckabee responded to criticism of his comments by urging his supporters to donate to his political action committee. From a newsletter sent out by Huckabee:
Guess what liberals? If you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror, then get ready for more of this talk, because conservatives are going to continue to fight back against your destructive policies towards women and families.
If you agree with me and want me to keep calling it like I see it, then I need you to do something urgent. Please give an immediate donation to my political action committee Huck PAC in any amount you can afford. The Democrats and their accomplices in the media want you to think what I said is unpopular and outdated. They are going to look at our PAC's fundraising and say see we told you so.
Help me show them they are dead wrong by making an immediate donation here. This is urgent.
Viewing gun rights as under attack after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association and its backers in conservative media spent 2013 using inflammatory rhetoric to attack critics and promote an uncompromising pro-gun agenda.
Both the NRA and its conservative media allies frequently attempted to draw modern-day parallels between Adolf Hitler's murder of millions during the Holocaust and the Obama administration's post-Newtown proposal to advance gun safety. One ugly event at the NRA's annual meeting saw the NRA's main political opponent illustrated as a Nazi, leading to condemnation from Jewish organizations.
Even victims of gun violence and the families of those killed at Sandy Hook could not escape the wrath of right-wing media, who insultingly called them "props" of the Obama administration, as if they were unable to think for themselves. The NRA similarly politicized the armed protection of President Obama's daughters in a widely criticized TV spot.
Ted Nugent, perhaps the best known member of NRA leadership, turned heads when he dubbed Trayvon Martin a "dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe" after the deceased Florida teenager's killer was acquitted. Even given his past racially inflammatory rhetoric, Nugent shocked many by piling on his Martin comment with a weeks-long tirade in which he endorsed racial profiling and claimed that the African-American community has a "mindless tendency to violence." The NRA declined to comment.
The year also featured a number of bizarre claims from the NRA, including the host of an NRA-produced television show comparing critics of his elephant hunting to Hitler, NRA head Wayne LaPierre's claim that gun ownership was essential to "survival," and NRA past-president Marion Hammer's comparison of an assault weapons ban to racial discrimination.
What follows are 12 lowlights from a year punctuated by extreme NRA rhetoric:
Keeping the Fox candidate machine moving right on schedule, the network featured Fox News host Mike Huckabee twice today to lob softballs at him about his possible plans to run for president in 2016.
This week, Huckabee spawned a flurry of news reports about his interest in making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, telling The Washington Post that he is considering a run due to an increase in support "from places where I never got it before."
For years, Fox has helped potential Republican political candidates on their payroll stay in the limelight and reach out to a conservative audience while weighing runs for office. And with a possible Huckabee presidential run in the headlines, Fox News seems eager to help build buzz around its employee.
Interviewing Huckabee on Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Tucker Carlson said that "the question everyone was asking this week" was whether Huckabee planned to run in 2016. Huckabee answered that he is "open" to the idea of a run, but that he has not yet made up his mind and is instead focused on the 2014 midterm elections and hoping the GOP can take over the Senate.
The segment allowed Huckabee plenty of room to try out lines that would fit comfortably in a stump speech.
Scott Brown has some more company among Fox News employees publicly toying with runs for political office while still working for the network.
According to The Washington Post, Fox host Mike Huckabee "might be willing" to take another shot at securing the Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee told the Post that he is considering making a run in 2016 due to the encouragement he is getting "from places where I never got it before," including "business, people some would maybe call the establishment."
In an apparent attempt to drive home his seriousness about a possible run, Huckabee reportedly showed the paper a private poll "which he said was commissioned by supporters who are urging him to run again, which indicated he has the potential to make a strong showing in both Iowa and South Carolina." Huckabee joins John Bolton, who started teasing a potential 2016 run early this year, and Scott Brown, who seems on the verge of running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire, as Fox employees cashing a paycheck while openly considering runs for office.
The revolving door of Republican politicians and Fox News contributors is nothing new.
Mike Huckabee's Fox News program uses a mirror placed next to the program's studio audience in order to make it appear as if far more people are in attendance.
Social conservatives will descend on Washington, D.C., next month for the Values Voters Summit (VVS), an annual convocation put on by an assemblage of anti-LGBT groups that will prominently feature high-profile right-wing media figures.
Sponsored by organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) - both Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)-designated hate groups - VVS got its start in 2006. As in the past, this year's gathering promises to feature leading opponents of equality for women and LGBT people. Several confirmed speakers will be familiar faces to consumers of right-wing media:
Among the right-wing media personalities slated to speak at the conference:
Three Fox News personalities currently sit on the advisory board of Secure America Now, a conservative advocacy group that has called for a select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Fox News has heavily promoted calls to form a select committee on Benghazi alongside nonstop misinformation about the attacks.
John Bolton, Pat Caddell and Mike Huckabee are all listed as members of the group's advisory board. Bolton and Caddell are Fox News contributors, while Huckabee hosts his own show on the network on weekends.
Secure America Now's president, Allan Roth, said the group would market a new web video "far and wide and continue our campaign to get the Congress to appoint a Select Committee" to investigate the attack. Roth appeared on Fox host Sean Hannity's radio show on September 11 to promote the video and told him, "I just want to thank you for being one of the rare members of the news media who has dedicated time and the effort to keep the Benghazi story alive."
Hannity, of course, has relentlessly pushed myths and falsehoods about the attack.
Fox News has repeatedly promoted efforts to force the House to convene a select committee,even though the issue would be highly unlikely to survive a floor vote due to opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
Former Rep. Allen West (R), a Fox contributor, appeared at a press conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday organized by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to push for the formation of a select committee, and also advocated for a military strike on Libya in retaliation for the Benghazi attack.
Fox Sports fired football analyst Craig James after one appearance on the network, citing homophobic comments James made as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Fox Sports' handling of James' remarks differs markedly from how its corporate sibling, Fox News, deals with anti-LGBT commentary from its employees.
During his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's Senate nomination in 2012, James called homosexuality "a choice" and stated that gays "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions." A Fox Sports spokesman explained the network's decision to sever its ties with James, telling The Dallas Morning News, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
James' comments got him fired from Fox Sports, but they would have been wholly unremarkable if he was at Fox News, where rabidly anti-LGBT talking heads are regularly given a platform to spout their bigoted views with impunity.
A self-styled "bitter" culture warrior, one of Starnes' trademark specialties is delivering hateful commentary about LGBT people. Besides offering standard right-wing boilerplate language about how marriage equality will inevitably lead to bestiality, Starnes has also called the gay-inclusive, post-Don't Ask Don't Tell military a sign of "the end of days," mocked transgender women as "big burly men in dresses," and defended anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses. After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Starnes tweeted, "The NBA is turning into GLEE."
Starnes has no use for LGBT allies, either. After President Barack Obama condemned Russia's draconian crackdown on gays, Starnes promoted a conspiracy theory that he has long been obsessed with - that perhaps Obama is secretly gay.
While The O'Reilly Factor host received widespread attention following his concession that the LGBT movement has the stronger marriage equality argument, O'Reilly continues to deliver a steady stream of anti-LGBT remarks. In 2012, he warned that pro-LGBT shows like "Glee" would encourage youthful "experimentation" with homosexuality and transgender identities. He has depicted gay rights supporters as protectors of child molesters, called students "fascist[s]" for protesting an anti-gay cleric, advised parents to shame boys who like the color pink, and denounced a new California law protecting transgender students as "anarchy and madness" and "the biggest con in the world."
Rush Limbaugh announced today that he's writing a book. It's children's book, to be precise, that will chronicle the adventures of -- stay with me here -- Rush Revere, a "fearless middle-school history teacher" who "travels back in time and experiences American history as it happens, in adventures with exceptional Americans." Our chronotripping hero's first adventure will be to "the deck of the Mayflower," where, I assume, he'll discover that an early draft of the Mayflower Compact inveighed against the tyranny of feminazis.
Limbaugh's book is noteworthy in that it looks like the concept is a rip-off of Mike Huckabee's Learn Our History series of children's cartoons. Rush's book will tell the story of a middle school teacher who "travels back in time and experiences American history as it happens." Learn Our History follows the adventures of "a group of time-traveling history students who go back in time to see US history in the making."
Limbaugh's book and Huckabee's cartoons are the most high-profile entries to date in the conservative effort to "reclaim" American history from the liberals and revisionist academics who have (allegedly) corrupted it. It's a movement that deifies the Founding Fathers and projects every aspect of the country's history through the lenses of right-wing dogma and "American exceptionalism." Huckabee's series of cartoons are cheaply produced and bend and omit facts where needed to be as jingoistic and conservative-friendly as possible.
An early episode of Learn Our History backhandedly credits George W. Bush for hunting down Osama bin Laden. And, as you might expect, Huckabee's cartoons are blatantly propagandistic -- there's an entire episode on the "Reagan Revolution" that features a kid-friendly endorsement of Reaganonmics and the brilliance of tax cuts.
That's less "history" than it is "political indoctrination." And given that Limbaugh has already borrowed Huckabee's concept, it's a good bet his take on history will be just as warped.
Nearly four months after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) changed its membership policy to allow openly gay scouts, WND continued its hysterical reaction to the policy change, publishing a column denouncing the organization's leaders for leading the BSA into "the darkness of sin."
In a September 4 column that drew heavily on the words of Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich, Jeff Rayno suggested that acceptance of LGBT rights is making American culture "an ever-wider sewer." But for homophobic bigots, all is not lost, Rayno wrote:
The years it would take to correct the damage caused by one vote taken by the BSA this year would be monumental. Deep in the struggle, our young men would be growing up unattended, while parents fight a losing battle to save what was once the Boy Scouts of America. Countless amounts of money would be wasted battling in courts that are growing more and more liberal every day. What is truly needed is a new organization built on solid principles with bylaws that are stronger than those of the BSA which would allow godly families to begin a new chapter.
On Sept. 6 and 7, 2013, a group temporarily named "On My Honor" will meet in Nashville, Tenn., to form such a group. Using the American Heritage Girls as a template for their organization, a new name, logo and branding will take place, as well as the development of new programs that will teach practical life skills with an emphasis on leadership and character. It will be clearly understood by all members that the context for sexual relations is between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the Weyrich vision. We can change the program of society, but unlike the modern world, the remote control doesn't work. We have to get off the seat and make an effort. It's an investment of time, energy and patience. We will be scolded by those who love the darkness of sin, but the net result will be future culture warriors, our sons, who live in a light brighter than any neon screen. They walk in the truth - the only reality that matters.
On Fox & Friends this morning, Fox News host and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called for substantial government funding to cure diseases, explaining that since the private sector can't make a profit doing that, the government needs to step in.
It's interesting that a commentator on Fox News is pointing to the critical role of the federal government on medical research. But Huckabee's comments are also a great rationale for government spending on a host of other progressive priorities.
During his Fox News appearance, Huckabee explained that "our health care system is based on treatment" because "there is money to be made in treating a disease" and "if you cure it, there is no money to be made." He concluded that we need a Manhattan Project for health, focusing on finding cures for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes, since treating those diseases puts a heavy burden on the economy. And according to Huckabee, "that has to be largely government funded 'cause the government is the only entity that doesn't have to have a return on investment. You put it in the hands of the private sector like a lot of people suggest, sounds good, doesn't make sense because there is no money long-term if you cure the disease."
Huckabee's logic that the public sector should step in to solve problems that are unprofitable for the private sector to deal with makes sense, but it also applies far beyond the field of medical research.
It's not profitable for the private sector to provide health insurance to the elderly - because seniors need far more health care than the average person, insurance policies would need to be extremely expensive to be profitable. But there's a public interest in ensuring that seniors have access to quality health care, so Medicare was created to provide government-funded health insurance.
It's not profitable for the private sector to provide health insurance to the poor because they can't afford to pay for it, but because there's a public interest in ensuring that people have access to health care regardless of their ability to pay, Medicaid was created to provide government-funded health insurance.
It's not profitable for the private sector to fund next-generation clean energy technology, but there's a public interest in building a new U.S. industry to provide sources of energy that have less impact on the environment, so the government provides loans and grants to companies that are working on those technologies to make that work feasible.
There's a public interest in clean water and bridges and police and safe food and educated children and a host of other areas where the government has stepped in because it's not profitable for the private sector to deal with the problem. Fox's recognition of this obvious principle is welcome, if unlikely to last for long.
Fox News compared the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prediction of job losses due to sequestration to recent job growth reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), falsely suggesting that the across-the-board cuts have had no negative effects on job creation.
On the August 23 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto was joined by Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee to address the impacts of across-the-board budget cuts commonly known as sequestration. In response to recent comments made by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the damaging effects of sequestration on the economy, Cavuto claimed, "I think he just made that up."
Cavuto then attempted to bolster his claim with a misleading graphic, which suggested that continued job growth since the onset of sequestration proves that the budget cuts had no real economic effect.
In fact, the best CBO estimates of the effects of sequestration through the 2013 calendar year predicted slower economic growth and fewer jobs created. Cavuto's graphic correctly listed the number of new jobs created during the first six months of sequestration but incorrectly compared that with the CBO's estimate that 750,000 fewer full-time jobs would be created under sequestration. The two jobs figures are entirely unrelated. According to the CBO report cited by Cavuto (emphasis added):
In the absence of sequestration, CBO estimates, GDP growth would be about 0.6 percentage points faster during this calendar year, and the equivalent of about 750,000 more full-time jobs would be created or retained by the fourth quarter.
Contrary to what Cavuto claimed, the CBO did not predict that the economy would experience a net loss in jobs, rather that sequestration would result in fewer jobs being created. An accurate presentation of the data would make it clear that while jobs growth has been present, absent budget cuts it would be much greater.
While the discussion between Cavuto and Huckabee attempted to downplay the effects of sequestration, cuts are being continuously rolled out, affecting a number of crucial government programs. Unless policy is changed through new legislation, such across-the-board budget cuts will be scheduled every year for the next decade, further weakening ecnomic growth.