Competing versions of the “war on women” narrative

While I’ve been persuaded by the likes of Chris Hedges that there are organizations more deserving of my financial support that MoveOn, every so often the organization does something that I think warrants attention. Today, I happened across a little video that they just released, featuring women reading some of the more reprehensible Republican quotes on women’s reproductive rights that have been said over the course of this past month. Maybe it was just the idea of having a seemingly mild-mannered older woman reading Santorum’s quote about how women should look at the pregnancies resulting from rape as a “gift from God,” but I found that the whole thing worked for me. Anyway, I thought that some you might enjoy it as well.

The Republicans are terrified of this “War on Women” narrative, by the way. I listened to Laura Ingraham’s radio show the other day, and she was trying, as best as she could, to make the case that the war against women in America, while real, wasn’t being waged not by Republicans, but by Progressives. In a nutshell, she was arguing that taxes and regulations were keeping women from being successful in business. And, somehow, in her mind, it would seem, that’s worse that being told by an old white man that you should have to suck it up, and happily parent rape babies. Judging from the lack of calls from women that followed Ingraham’s convoluted scream-of-consciousness rant, I don’t think that anyone was buying it. I’ll give her credit for trying to flip it around, but she really didn’t have a chance. When you have people on one side of the aisle saying that women should be happy about carrying the babies of their rapists, it’s hard to suggest that Obama and the Democrats hate women more because, through their attempts to insure American workers, they’ve made it difficult on female CEOs… That dog, as they say down south, don’t hunt.

At any rate, I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, with the White House, though it’s various channels, flogging the “war on women” narrative, as the Republicans desperately attempt to hold on to the remaining women in their party, by any means necessary. The Republicans may have traction on the issue of gas prices, but I don’t see how they can hope to win in November without the female vote.

[Speaking of disgusting, misogynistic Republicans, tonight’s post was brought to you by Andrew Breitbart’s old protege, James “rape barn” O’Keefe.]

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  1. Kristin
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    I’m excited that “that dog don’t hunt” is moving north.

    I’ve seen that stuff on Fox about the progressive war on women, and it never engages whatever creepy group that they have. One person will carry it for a bit, the others will nod, but it hasn’t gotten too much momentum even there. Did you see Rick Santorum’s wife swearing up and down that he was pro-woman? I bet her mother called her later and told her to knock it off.

  2. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Come on Maynard, the right doesn’t want a war on women, they just love women! What do you think keeps the pornography industry making more money then all major sporting franchises combined? The right’s love of women. Who do you think runs stripclubs? These brave small business owners always ready and willing to keep giving women jobs, even in wintery economic climate. Why, the love of women on the right is so palpable it’ll bring a tear to your eye. Why anyone would suggest the right doesn’t like women clearly hasn’t been to a football game in a while, they just love when the cheerleaders come out, keep their faces taught with forced plastic smiles, and jiggle their dirty parts, which is what the good LORD Jesus put them on the earth for.

  3. Edward
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Following links, jumping off from the “rape barn” story linked to above, I got to some interesting behind-the-scenes information about the O’Keefe/Breitbart operation. The following is from their former associate Nadia Naffe.

    I thought I could put the weekend of October 2nd, 2011 behind me. But it seems to keep popping up every time I look over my shoulder. The public is looking to me to connect the dots about what actually happened that evening which led me to file a criminal harassment complaint against James O’keefe in court.

    As traumatic as this whole ordeal has been, it is indeed overshadowed by the sudden death of Andrew Breitbart, someone I once considered a dear friend. I suspect the discussion on Twitter was bound to occur at some point, given Breitbart’s fiery accusations against the Occupy Movement and his allegations of wide-spread sexual assaults. A parallel had been drawn between what happened to me at James O’keefe’s barn in New Jersey and Breitbart’s characterization about the treatment of women in the Occupy Movement. Breitbart’s detractors would claim his statements appeared disingenuous, hypocritical — and they were right. In the three days leading up to Breitbart’s death, the discussion on Twitter became all about me. I finally had to respond.

    I remember the first time I met Andrew Breitbart. It was January 2010. James had flown me out to Los Angeles to join him on an undercover project. He was extremely secretive about the scope of the project and kept the details about who the target was very close to his chest. James insisted the target of his investigation was a corrupt politician and that it was imperative that this person be taken down. James sounded so sincere and inspiring. For the first time in my life, I felt as if a normal citizen, a former political hack no less, really could change the world. But before I boarded the plane, I received an odd email from James. The subject of the email was, “bribery evidence – exception to wiretapping statute in CA”. The email read, “Congressional Offices/Banks – criminal Exception – 630.5 – Statutes don’t apply for containing evidence reasonably believed to related to extortion, kidnapping, bribery, violence against the person.”

    When I landed at LAX I learned that the target was Congresswoman Maxine Waters, her husband Sydney and OneUnited; the bank where Waters’ husband once served as chairman of the board and remains a major shareholder. As we sat in the parking lot at the banks headquarters, James phoned Breitbart to update him on his success. James bragged about how easy it was to get inside the banks, there were no security guards and he was able to completely disarm the banks employees by bringing me along. This was the first time I had ever spoken to Andrew Breitbart. I’ll never forget what he said. He told me I was a patriot and that what we were doing was advancing freedom.

    James told me about the lavish waterfront mansion in Santa Monica where OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee lived and the Porsche he drove. He told me about the Mercedes dealership Waters’ husband Sydney owned. The implication was that Waters’ had used her office to influence Treasury officials into steering millions of dollars in TARP funds to her husbands bank. James depicted Waters as a corrupt politician who was enriching herself and her family off the backs of the downtrodden Black constituents in her district. “Nadia, how could you turn your back to this injustice?”, James would say. James coerced me into believing Congresswoman Waters was the most horrible person on earth. And for a time I believed him. As we traveled to several cities in California, James and Breitbart would communicate often. I was curious about what his mysterious email meant. James said the statute he referred to in his email gave citizen journalists the same wiretapping authority as law enforcement and the FBI. James received a shipment of high-tech recording devices during the trip. His intent was to wiretap the bank.

    After the harassment hearing with James in December, I reflected on all of our travels together, there were many. I remembered Congresswoman Waters and her daughter Karen’s repeated phone calls to me in the days and weeks after James’ arrest at Sen. Mary Landieu’s office in New Orleans. She sounded so concerned and worried. I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that I simply could not shake. Now, I knew exactly how she must have felt. I wrote to her and Cohee and asked for their forgiveness. I guess that was my way of getting closure. The only thing that kept James and Breitbart from driving a stake through Waters heart was the backlash from a selectively edited video of former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod.

    Making the decision to come forward to discuss in detail what happened at the barn that night, between me and James O’keefe, was one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make. When I left the Westwood Courthouse after the hearing with James, I wanted this painful chapter in my life to be over, but it would never be over until I came forward to tell my story. My hope in being here is about more than simply setting the record straight. It’s about making sure other women aren’t manipulated and taken advantage of the way that I was. There should never again be another Abbie, Izzy or Nadia. Here’s my story…

    It was September 2011. I was traveling to Nashua, NH to meet James at an AFP fundraiser he was headlining with Andrew Breitbart. James contacted me the night before about a couple of video projects he needed my help with immediately. When I arrived, James could barely wait to tell me about his new schemes. “We’re going to punk the journalists and take down the main stream media establishment”, he said.

    Within 48 hours, James and I were deep into the planning process for his series, “To Catch a Journalist”. The main target of the sting was Charles Seife, professor of journalism at NYU. “Here is Charles Seife. Notice his contempt for me. And also his email address. He should be E-Z to get”, said James in an email. As I continued to read further down the email chain, I noticed the original author of the message was actually Professor Seife. It seemed odd that James would be communicating, so directly, with a person he was targeting for an undercover sting. In the past, his targets had always been random people he’d never met. But the situation with Seife was different. Seife had made two or more public records requests for James’ group, Project Veritas’ to release its IRS disclosure forms. “Appended below is the request I sent to Project Veritas. Over the past 2+ months, I’ve tried Project Veritas web form, twitter (@veritasvisuals), e-mail, and certified mail to the DC address and have thus far gotten no response”, Seife wrote in an email.

    James told me Seife had been pestering him to release Project Veritas’ IRS forms 1023, 990 and 990-T. He was concerned that Seife may have already reported PV to the IRS. When I asked James why not just release the IRS forms Seife had requested as required by federal law, he implied there were problems with PV’s IRS disclosures, such that, releasing the forms for public inspection was simply not an option. And now, James was asking me to go undercover to investigate the very same professor whom he claimed was out to ruin him and everything he had accomplished.

    James insisted he wasn’t targeting Seife solely because of the tax issue. He claimed Seife was a racist, who was using his classroom to indoctrinate students into accepting his leftist beliefs. James knew he was making a powerful argument which would resonate with me, since I had been a victim of racism myself when I was on the staff of the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2003. James had my number. He knew I reviled racists people to the nth degree. How could I not despise a racist when I had my entire political career ruined. James described Seife to me in the same vein as the racist boss who discriminated against me all those years ago. He wanted me fired up to go after Seife.

    James met me at Penn Station in NYC on Sept. 21st. We rehearsing the narrative for my meeting with Seife later that afternoon. James’ scheme was to presented a stereotype about Tea Party racism against Blacks and media favoritism of President Obama. He intended to have Seife lose either way: to look biased by agreeing that the Tea Party was racist and agreeing that the media does give liberal candidates (i.e. President Obama) favorable media coverage.

    After we were done rehearsing in the car, James asked me if I was dating anyone. I told him that I had a new friend that I had recently started dating. James was curious if my friend was white or black. I told James my he was a white guy, even though I though it was a weird question for him to ask. James asked what my friend did for a living. I said he was a Vice President at Hewlett-Packard. Then, James got eerily quiet, he looked down at the floor and said, “Oh, he has money.” James gave me his iphone to use as an audio recorder and he kept my Google Android smartphone and laptop with him. When I returned from meeting with Seife, James had been using my equipment to make phone calls and send emails that afternoon. I later discovered that James had downloaded and/or linked his Gmail account to my device.

    A few days after I had returned home, James called and said we didn’t catch Seife on tape “saying any bad shit”. He wanted me to go back and present his narrative from a different angle this time. I was scheduled for a second meeting with Seife and a classroom visit with Professor Jay Rosen on Monday October 3rd. However, I never made it to Seife’s office or to Rosen’s class that day. Here’s what happened at the barn the night before, as I recounted to James and the Board of Directors of Project Veritas in my letter to them last year when these events occurred.

    “To: James O’keefe
    CC: Francisco Gonzalez, Gregory Levitsky, Shane Cory, Maureen Wagner,
    From: Nadia Naffe
    Date: Nov. 3, 2011
    Re: Your false statements


    After receiving numerous calls from friends and colleagues we share in common, it has come to my attention that you are the source of several false and misleading statements regarding the last evening you and I spent together.

    Specifically, I am concerned that you are making statements that suggest I tried to tape you, entrap you or seduce you the weekend of October 2, 2011.

    Last week, you contacted Joe Basel, a colleague of ours to inquire if he had spoken with a reporter at Politico. But when Joe began to chastise you about the way you have treated me and demanded that you return my clothing and undergarments, you stated, “Nadia tried to set me up and record me, just like on the love boat”. James, we both know these statements are patently false. I see this as an attempt by you to define the narrative of that evening, ahead of a potential story in Politico.

    It was never my request to lodge in close quarters with you, that evening or any other. Indeed, you were the one who insisted I stay at the location you use as your office and apartment. The property you referred to as a renovated barn. You advised me that accommodations in NYC would be too costly and Project Veritas needed to save money. You stated you had purchased supplies and materials from Home Depot, linens and blankets to make me more comfortable and that you spent the entire day, prior to my arrival, cleaning and preparing the “barn” for my visit.

    After a tiring five hour train ride from Boston, I was eager to get showered, changed and into bed early. When you brought me to the barn that evening, I inquired about when you would be leaving at least two times. But, you made every excuse to stay. Your first excuse was you wanted to finish watching the football game. Then, about an hour later, again I asked when you would be leaving and you stated, “this is my office, all of my stuff is here.” You listened to music on your computer, sent messages on Twitter and discussed an activist you claimed was mouthing off to you. The implication was that you didn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

    When you observed me lying in bed, talking on the phone with a male friend, you became noticeably upset. You picked up your penny loafers and stormed out of the room like a 10-year old boy having a tantrum. You called me on the phone moments later demanding to know why I was talking on the phone with someone else in your presence. You were furious. Your tone was hostile and bellicose. I will never forget the revolting, repulsive and disgusting words you used on the phone with me that night. I hung the phone up on you, because I refused to tolerate your verbal abuse any further.

    We had a discussion about the project which turned into a argument. “To Catch a Journalist” didn’t make any logical sense or any financial sense, for that matter. Why would we film journalism professors exercising their first amendment right to freedom of speech and make that look like a bad thing? I hinted to James that I knew he his real motives were the IRS issue. I criticized him for using Project Veritas as a vehicle to carry out his own personal vendettas. Midway through our conversation, I started talking on the phone with a male friend. I turned my back to James and ignored him. He sat next to the bed, watching me giggle on the phone with another guy for about a minute before he blew up with anger.

    In one fell swoop, I had criticized James professionally and unbeknownst to me, I had also rejected him sexually as well. But the one thing I regret the most is turning my back to James and not observing him, as he stopped in the kitchen, where my beer was sitting, on his way out the front door. James called me after he left. He was angry and belligerent because I was talking on the phone to another guy. All I could hear was rage.

    Faced with the prospect of your continued verbal abuse, the discovery of your racial attitudes and perceptions about our friendship, and your insistence on forcing me, against my will, to spend the night at the barn; it was impossible for me to continue working with you on “To Catch a Journalist”.

    I could not in good faith exploit the racial stereotypes you had convinced me those journalism professors held, once I recognized that you harbored racial insecurities, insensitivities and miscegenation beliefs about our friendship. Indeed, when I learned that you had used the words “filthy” and “dirty” to describe me to a colleague, I knew precisely what those code words meant. I felt like I had been the one who had been punked.

    When I realized your deception, I tried to escape from the barn as quickly as I could. I tried to run away, but I didn’t know where I was. I felt disoriented after drinking the alcohol you purchased. It was pitch black outside and there were no lights. It was freezing cold inside the barn, there was no heat inside and I couldn’t see the steps leading downstairs. I called and texted you dozens of times that night, insisting that you return me to the train station or provide me with transportation out of the remote location which you brought me to. When I told you I felt sick, you didn’t seem surprised. You advised me to lye down in bed and that everything would be better in the morning.

    After hours of your continued refusal to transport me out of this remote area, I began calling several people I knew asking for help. Ryan tried to understand why I was crying, and so desperate to leave, but I was too sick and nauseated from the alcohol to tell Ryan what you had done. My last resort was to threaten to call the police. It was only then, did you agree to take me to the train station in New York. I had hoped this would be a smooth process, but with you James, there is no nuance.

    When you returned to the barn, you brought an older white male with you to intimidate me. You never advised me of his presence. He stood in the dark, hiding downstairs behind the staircase. I heard his footsteps and began screaming and shouting at the both of you. I thought you brought him there to assault me. But even as I screamed and yelled at you and that man, you and he persisted in trying to convince me to spend the night in the barn.

    James, I am not a fool. The barn is the same place where you taped intimate moments with Emma, without her knowledge. You are looking for a reason to blame me for what happened that night, so that you can become the victim. Perhaps, you believe by denigrating my personal character and using the same sexually suggestive tactics that are currently being used against Herman Cain, that my reputation will be ruined and so that yours can be spared. But James, the only place your version of the facts has any merit is in your paranoid head.

    It is your flagrant divisive and derisive paranoia which has brought us to this place. I am not the “filthy” and “dirty” person you have described me to be. I never attempted to set you up, entrap you or tape you, as you have suggested to others. My parents did not raise their daughter to be the tramp you have made me out to be to our friends and colleagues. At no time, have I ever initiated or attempted any type of intimate contact with you.

    James, this is not junior high. You need to grow up and be a man. Do not continue to make a fool of yourself by calling to offer me money, as you did on Oct. 24th. I was never with you for the money. I’m not looking for a payoff. Be a man and return my panties and scarf that were in the trunk of your car. Do not keep my undergarments as a trophy or souvenir to show off to your friends. We have been friends for two years, do not have Ryan contact me to discuss our personal and private affairs.

    Finally, I simply want you to stop discussing me, stop degrading me to our friends and colleagues, stop telling people I “screwed you over” as you did to Maureen Wagner. Stop making false statements about my character, statements that you know in your heart are not true. I have three semesters of grad school left at Harvard. I have an amazing future before me. I will not tolerate you portraying me as a tramp, or likening me to one of the “Black welfare queens” in your videos. I have not spoken ill of you to our friends and colleagues. I have never discussed this matter with any reporters. I expect the same civility from you in return.

    You used to be truly precious to me, but those affectionate feelings I once felt for you are long past now. The police have advised me a situation such as this constitutes FALSE IMPRISONMENT, a felony in New Jersey. Bringing a third party to the barn to prevent me from notifying the police of a crime, confusing and intimidating me so that you could keep me in the barn constitutes TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS, a felony in New Jersey.

    James, if you do not stop these daily attacks on my character, and this ongoing harassment, I will notify your probation officer regarding the facts of this incident and file charges against you with the NJPD. My expectation is that you walk back these false statements and stop your childishness immediately. If this petty non-sense is worthy of you ruining your career and spending the next six months of your life in federal prison, so be it. I hope someone in your life cares enough about you to talk some sense into you and hold you accountable, before you cause irreparable harm to yourself.


    Nadia Naffe

    James’ responded to my letter by threatening to sue me if I went to the police and reported what happened at the barn. I was contacted by James’ attorney, Benjamin Light, who threatened to file a lawsuit against me if I refused to sign a written statement recanting what happened in the barn. James believed that reporter Ken Vogel was writing his story about the barn incident, so he whipped up a slanderous video about me, trashed Vogel for being a lousy journalist and posted images of Izzy Santa’s “confidential” settlement agreement & demand letter in the video, so that he could frame the story before Politico. James identified me as, “Nadia Naffe, a young Harvard student and former colleague” who had turned against him.

    James referred to me in a hostile and degrading manner, with names like turncoat, traiter in the video. He stole pictures of me from Facebook and splashed them across the screen next to enlarged images of Santa’s Sexual Harassment settlement. The video was posted on YouTube and the the morning Vogel’s story was supposed to come out. James hurried and took the video down when he realized Vogel’s focus was on the interpersonal disputes between James, and two activists who helped plan the NPR . But it was too late. I had already seen the video and so had other people, who contacted me to warn me of its existence.

    James has taken special care to ensure the media was aware of my past civil lawsuit with Bush/Cheney. However, yesterday he filed a lawsuit against me and an emergency injunction to prevent the public from learning about the existence of a sexual harassment settlement with his former employee and CNN Caper whistleblower Ms. Izzy Santa. You can read Santa’s demand letter here, and the terms of the settlement agreement here.

  4. Meta
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    From the Associated Press at the end of February:

    It’s looking like President Barack Obama may be back in the good graces of women.

    His support dropped among this critical constituency just before the new year began and the presidential campaign got under way in earnest. But his standing with female voters is strengthening, polls show, as the economy improves and social issues, including birth control, become a bigger part of the nation’s political discourse.

    “Republicans are making a big mistake with this contraception talk, and I’m pretty sure that they are giving (the election) to Obama,” says Patricia Speyerer, 87, of McComb, Miss., a GOP-leaning independent. “It’s a stupid thing.”

    The recent furor over whether religious employers should be forced to pay for their workers’ contraception is certainly a factor but hardly the only reason for women warming up to Obama again after turning away from him late last year.

    An Associated Press-GfK poll suggests women also are giving the president more credit than men are for the country’s economic turnaround.

    Among women, his approval ratings on handling the economy and unemployment have jumped by 10 percentage points since December. Back then, a wide swath of Americans expressed anxiety over the nation’s slow climb out of recession and anger at a government that couldn’t agree on steps to speed things up.

    Since then, the unemployment rate has kept declining, and Obama hasn’t been shy about trumpeting it, and analysts say that drop may have resonated particularly with women.

    For Obama, there is no more crucial constituency than women. They make up a majority of voters in presidential elections, and a bit more of them identify with his party. He would not be president today without topping Republican John McCain in that group in 2008. And Republicans would need to win a sizable share — more than about 40 percent — of female voters to beat him.

    Though the economy remains the top concern among both women and men, an array of social issues — gay marriage, access to birth control and whether cancer research should be kept separate from the issue of abortion— have returned to the nation’s political conversation since December. And both parties have snapped up those issues to awaken their staunchest supporters.

    Republicans from Capitol Hill to the presidential campaign trail focused particularly on a requirement in Obama’s health care law for some religious employers to pay for birth control. Obama then adjusted that policy by instead directing insurance companies to pay for birth control — and Democrats are running with a message that Republicans want to upend long-established rights for women.

    “Women are used to making decisions and running their lives,” said Linda Young, president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, which favors abortion rights. “To hear their right to contraception questioned in 2012 is shocking, and it’s gotten a lot of people’s attention.”

    Republicans say the economy will again overtake that discussion and it will be clear the GOP offers families more once Republicans choose a nominee, turn their fire from each other to Obama and make their case on issues such as gas prices and the deficit.

    “The economic indicators, we have to admit, are very slowly improving, and that is something that has always affected the female vote,” said Rae Lynne Chornenky, president of the National Federation of Republican Women. “Until we get a candidate I don’t think the full story can be told.”

    “People in both political parties are keeping this (cultural narrative) alive because they’re trying to excite their bases,” said Republican Brian Flaherty, who served as a Connecticut legislator for 15 years. “You can afford to have this attention in February on” reproductive issues.

    An AP-GfK poll conducted Feb. 16-20 showed that on overall approval Obama has gained 10 percentage points among women since December, from 43 percent to 53 percent, even though his administration seemed to stumble over whether religious employers should be forced to pay for contraception.

    Women also are the reason behind Obama’s lead over Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: In one-on-one matchups, Obama beats Romney 54 percent to 41 percent and tops Santorum 56 percent to 40 percent among women, but virtually ties each Republican among men. Women are Obama’s to lose: They are more apt to identify with Democrats and give that party higher favorability than are men.

    Read more:

  5. Posted March 23, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    MoveOn sucks. I’m glad you think so, too.

    I’ve known they’ve sucked since 2004, when I was part of VG Kids disastrous John Kerry DVD and sticker printing job. They knowingly low balled the cost of the job, and didn’t offer to pony up money to make up for the massive loss incurred after it became obvious.

    Awful business practices.

    MoveOn sucks ass.

  6. John Galt
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    If women planned ahead for rape, the way us men plan for getting flat tires, it wouldn’t be an issue.

  7. Eel
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Rape Barn was my family’s second favorite restaurant, after Ponderosa, when I was growing up.

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