Gird Your Loins, it's the War on Women (Again)

Since the U.S. is largely moderate to conservative, it was hard to imagine how someone as far left as Barack Obama twice won the presidency. After the election was over, we learned how the Democrats’ data mining operation succeeded in bringing to the polls the outlying constituencies he needed to win (given the normally low turnout of the rest of the voters).

Part of that mining for voters involved targeting messages designed to emotionally appeal to them, given that “belief” once formed in these peoples’ minds defeats any rational arguments. The big (and unfortunately successful) target of these emotional appeals was women voters -- especially single heads of households who were led to believe that the opposition was at war with them and their interests. The claims, of course, were poppycock, but they are back and it’s time we girded our loins (or for the distaff side, hitched up our pantyhose) and did our best to disabuse the ignorant of these notions.

To start, we must emphasize the fallacies that underlie this notion of women as moral arbiters -- a special sector of the species that motherly like rocks the cradle  and cares only for our best interests.

1) Women politicians are as dishonest and hypocritical as the men. Their sex is not immune from such things

This week, California Senator Barbara Boxer seemed to need a fainting couch installed in her office. She telegraphed her delicate sensibilities when someone dared to call out Secretary of State Kerry on his inconsistent statements:      

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was left "shaking and trembling" in shock.

Boxer said, "I think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now, such angry comments aimed at you, Mr. Secretary, and through you, at our president instead of at ISIS, a savage group who decapitated two Americans and have warned, and I quote, that their thirst for more American blood is right out there.

"I think it's shocking," she continued. "I'm actually shaking and trembling. This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people."

Sarah Hoyt smartly has characterized this kind of thing as neo-Victorian feminism.

Lest you think Boxer is too sensitive to have to endure criticism -- no matter how justified -- of government officials, a trip down memory lane should disabuse you of that notion.  Here she is browbeating General Michael Walsh who referred to her as “ma’am”:

And then again she is even more vicious to former Secretary of State Condi Rice:  

...even accusing her of endorsing reckless policies because she had no children to lose in the war. I shook and trembled at this, not because one government official dared to criticize another, but because this was such a low-down, uncalled for attack on an unmarried woman.

Of course, like this -- that was in the days when Boxer, like her Democrat colleagues still considered dissent patriotic:

Sen. Barbara Boxer offered a major foreign policy speech on the war in Iraq before hundreds of her constituents in San Francisco," the Bay City Times reported in July 2005:

She described herself as "distressed, angry and frustrated" over the continuing unrest in Iraq and the mounting death toll with no apparent end in sight.

"Iraq was a war of choice, not a war of necessity," she said.

"We have no idea, none, how long the administration plans to be in Iraq," she said. . . .

"That mission is a guarantee of a never-ending cycle of violence," she said, as America's military presence there seems to be a magnet for recruits for the insurgency.

The insurgency now numbers anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 fighters, she said.

"The insurgents are winning the propaganda wars now," she said.

"Terrorism is a result of this war," Boxer said, amid applause.

Now she sings a different tune.

"This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people."

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto tells us when that time to “show anger at the people working night and day” will come for Boxer. "Wait until a Republican is in the White House.”

2) Women politicians are no less corrupt than their male counterparts

In New Hampshire’s Senate race and in Wisconsin’s governor’s race two women candidates have faced embarrassing disclosures.

New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen

In 1969, Shaheen and her husband, Bill, cofounded and had a stake in “Bill & Bob’s -- A Sterling Example,” a shop with locations in both New Hampshire and Maine that sold used jewelry, silver, and leather items. The business was co-owned by Bill Shaheen’s brother-in-law, future state senator Bob Fennelly.

In 1980, police executed a search warrant at the Maine Bill and Bob’s location in connection to an investigation of a burglary ring that authorities said had stolen up to $200,000 of property from 27 residences.

Fennelly was indicted for allegedly buying $11,000 of stolen jewelry from the burglars. Fennelly retained a lawyer, Robert Stein, who would later become a partner at Bill Shaheen’s law firm.

“It was a known fact that Bill and Bob’s would buy any silver and gold without asking many questions,” one burglar told police, according to a Sep. 6, 1980 report by the Foster’s Daily Democrat newspaper, which extensively covered the trial.  

Her husband claimed he sold his stake in the business to his sister and they were not charged with a crime, but the indications are that this fencing gig was her only business experience and it is malodorous.

It’s not the only time her business dealings drew questions.  

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has invested tens of thousands of dollars in a French oil company that admitted to bribing Iranian officials, despite her insistence that such business deals undermine U.S. economic sanctions.

Shaheen’s family owns between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in Total S.A., the fourth-largest oil company in the world, through a mutual fund.

The company has come under fire from regulators in recent years, agreeing to pay the SEC and Department of Justice nearly $400 million in fines in 2013 after admitting to bribing Iranian official in exchange for access to two oil fields. The $60 million payoff netted the company $150 million in profits from 1995 to 2004.

The fine was the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act penalty of 2013 and the fourth largest in history.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, has called on European companies to curb trade delegations to the Iranian regime to avoid undermining U.S. sanctions. She criticized European companies for attempting to establish financial ties while Iran pursues nuclear technology, saying she was “deeply troubled” by reports that European countries were sending “the message to Tehran that sanctions are abating.

Wisconsin’s Mary Burke

Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed has a detailed analysis of how Wisconsin’s Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke, “plagiarized” the “jobs plan” on her website from three prior Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

[snip]

But here’s the thing: Mary Burke really, really wanted voters to think her “jobs plan” was an important reason to distinguish her from her opponent, Scott Walker, and she ought to pay a price for that. Here’s the tune Burke was singing back in March:

Democratic Gubernatorial challenger, Mary Burke released her 5 point plan today to create jobs…. “I brought Gov. Walker’s plan from 2010. This is 4 pages. I’ve seen 8th grade term papers that had more work put into them,” Burke told an audience at Marquette University.

[snip]

In other words, Burke isn’t just recycling boilerplate on her website -- she’s spent months running around the state telling the voters that they should read her jobs plan because it’s proof that she’s smarter, more detail-oriented, and more qualified by private sector experience to help Wisconsin’s economy grow. She has been actively touting the plan and circulating copies rather than just letting it lie fallow in a forgotten “Issues” section of a website. That’s a much bigger deal, and voters who may have warmed to Burke’s sales pitch on how much work she put into the plan should reconsider their assessments now that she had blamed the whole thing on an outside consultant who sold her a plan that already went down to defeat with gubernatorial candidates in Indiana and Tennessee.

3) The issues the Democrats tout will hurt women voters as much as they hurt men , if not more

I believe this is true of all the issues the party is advancing, but nowhere is that more obvious than in environmental issues. Rational observers know that the price of fuel impacts everything from food prices to each consumer good we use and almost every daily activity in which we engage. We know that the ability to drive and reasonable energy costs make it possible for women to lead such productive lives in the U.S. -- efficient appliances and reasonable transport costs enable women to work and run a household, to get the kids to and from school, shop conveniently and attend to various family and community responsibilities. But the administration’s constant efforts to get us off the roads, to increase energy costs, to raise the cost of cars, transport, and appliances by enacting more and more unreasonable regulations will make it harder for working women and mothers.

So why do the foolish arguments of the green energy and climate change advocates find such willing ears on the distaff side. I’m sure there are many reasons, here’s two:

The benighted Ecofeminism movement was designed to and does shape this thinking.

Ecofeminism, or ecological feminism, is a term coined in 1974 by Françoise d'Eaubonne. It is a philosophy and movement born from the union of feminist and ecological thinking and the belief that the social mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse of the natural environment. It combines eco-anarchism or bioregional democracy with a strong ideal of feminism. Its advocates often emphasize the importance of interrelationships between humans, non-human others (e.g. pigs, squirrels, toads), and the earth. A central tenet in ecofeminism states that male ownership of land has led to a dominator culture (patriarchy), manifesting itself in food export, over-grazing, the tragedy of the commons, exploitation of people, and an abusive land ethic, in which animals and land are valued only as economic resources. Other ecofeminists claim that the degradation of nature contributes to the degradation of women. For example, Thomas-Slayter and Rocheleau detail how in Kenya, the capitalist driven export economy has caused most of the agriculturally productive land to be used for monoculture cash crops. This led to intensification of pesticide use, resource depletion and relocation of subsistence farmers, especially women, to the hillsides and less productive land, where their deforestation and cultivation led to soil erosion, furthering the environmental degradation that hurts their own productivity (Thomas-Slayter, B. and D. Rocheleau. (1995) Gender, Environment and Development in Kenya: A Grassroots Perspective).

However this may play out in the Third World, I doubt it is as important in women’s’ fate there than are a panoply of other factors (like polygamy, political corruption, lack of land title, limited capital resources, traditions, and inheritance laws). It is bunkum in the First World, where misuse of resources under the enviro banner means far less money is available to improve the plight of everyone, male and female, in the  First and Third World.

No one challenges these cockamamie ecofeminist notions effectively, And they should. Not in thought pieces only rationalists believe, but rather in Style sections of newspapers, in educational fora, and women’s magazines, constant propagandists of such unscientific uninformed bunk.

Richard Lindzen explored this question in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting we need Cato’s rapid response team to counter unjustified climate alarm claims. 

 Climate alarm belongs to a class of issues characterized by a claim for which there is no evidence, that nonetheless appeals strongly to one or more interests or prejudices. Once the issue is adopted, evidence becomes irrelevant. Instead, the believer sees what he believes. Anything can serve as a supporting omen.

[snip]

The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong interests in believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence.

[snip]

The situation within science itself is equally grim. Huge sums of government and private funding have become available to what was initially a small backwater field. Science becomes easy when emphasis is on malleable models supported by hugely uncertain data that can be readily found ‘consistent’ with the models supplemented by fervidly imagined catastrophic ‘implications.’ Indeed, uncertainty is often exaggerated for just this purpose. Opposition within the scientific community is immediately met with ad hominem attacks, loss of funding, and difficulty in publishing.

Of course, science is not the only victim of this situation. Affordable energy has been the primary vehicle for the greatest advance in human welfare in human history. This issue promises to deny this to the over 1 billion humans who still lack electricity. For billions more energy will be much less affordable leading to increased poverty. Poverty, itself, is a major factor in reduced life expectancy. It requires a peculiarly ugly obtuseness to ignore the fundamental immorality of this issue.

Although all these issues have strong political consequences, it is by no means clear that their origin is, itself, political. I would suggest that a more likely situation is that politics is always opportunistically seeking some cause that fits its needs. However, once an illusional issue becomes a passionate belief, it becomes impervious to argument. Given how dangerous some illusional positions are, it is an important problem to know how to avoid them. This is a problem that is truly worthy of Cato’s attention. Rapid response can only do so much; belief seems to inevitably trump objective reality when one is free to choose ones’ narrative.

Undoing the support for numbskull Democrat initiatives is not an easy task. As the Annenberg Foundation noted in poll results this week, Americans (at least a third of them) are strikingly ignorant about government.

Maybe as “Miss Marple” noted in an online discussion this week, it’s not that these citizens are stupid, just not interested in government and how it works. This might not have mattered much decades ago where the difference between the parties and their goals were not all that apparent, but it matters greatly today and we must think of new, more imaginative ways to reach the uninformed.

Maybe, she suggests, “someone could design a video game based on the Constitution with lots of monsters and explosions.” 

Or maybe ads on "The View" and in Cosmo reminding viewers that they have the leisure to read and watch TV because they have energy to fuel the TV set and the appliances and transport that allow them leisure time pleasures. And the Democrats want to make all that harder.

Since the U.S. is largely moderate to conservative, it was hard to imagine how someone as far left as Barack Obama twice won the presidency. After the election was over, we learned how the Democrats’ data mining operation succeeded in bringing to the polls the outlying constituencies he needed to win (given the normally low turnout of the rest of the voters).

Part of that mining for voters involved targeting messages designed to emotionally appeal to them, given that “belief” once formed in these peoples’ minds defeats any rational arguments. The big (and unfortunately successful) target of these emotional appeals was women voters -- especially single heads of households who were led to believe that the opposition was at war with them and their interests. The claims, of course, were poppycock, but they are back and it’s time we girded our loins (or for the distaff side, hitched up our pantyhose) and did our best to disabuse the ignorant of these notions.

To start, we must emphasize the fallacies that underlie this notion of women as moral arbiters -- a special sector of the species that motherly like rocks the cradle  and cares only for our best interests.

1) Women politicians are as dishonest and hypocritical as the men. Their sex is not immune from such things

This week, California Senator Barbara Boxer seemed to need a fainting couch installed in her office. She telegraphed her delicate sensibilities when someone dared to call out Secretary of State Kerry on his inconsistent statements:      

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was left "shaking and trembling" in shock.

Boxer said, "I think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now, such angry comments aimed at you, Mr. Secretary, and through you, at our president instead of at ISIS, a savage group who decapitated two Americans and have warned, and I quote, that their thirst for more American blood is right out there.

"I think it's shocking," she continued. "I'm actually shaking and trembling. This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people."

Sarah Hoyt smartly has characterized this kind of thing as neo-Victorian feminism.

Lest you think Boxer is too sensitive to have to endure criticism -- no matter how justified -- of government officials, a trip down memory lane should disabuse you of that notion.  Here she is browbeating General Michael Walsh who referred to her as “ma’am”:

And then again she is even more vicious to former Secretary of State Condi Rice:  

...even accusing her of endorsing reckless policies because she had no children to lose in the war. I shook and trembled at this, not because one government official dared to criticize another, but because this was such a low-down, uncalled for attack on an unmarried woman.

Of course, like this -- that was in the days when Boxer, like her Democrat colleagues still considered dissent patriotic:

Sen. Barbara Boxer offered a major foreign policy speech on the war in Iraq before hundreds of her constituents in San Francisco," the Bay City Times reported in July 2005:

She described herself as "distressed, angry and frustrated" over the continuing unrest in Iraq and the mounting death toll with no apparent end in sight.

"Iraq was a war of choice, not a war of necessity," she said.

"We have no idea, none, how long the administration plans to be in Iraq," she said. . . .

"That mission is a guarantee of a never-ending cycle of violence," she said, as America's military presence there seems to be a magnet for recruits for the insurgency.

The insurgency now numbers anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 fighters, she said.

"The insurgents are winning the propaganda wars now," she said.

"Terrorism is a result of this war," Boxer said, amid applause.

Now she sings a different tune.

"This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people."

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto tells us when that time to “show anger at the people working night and day” will come for Boxer. "Wait until a Republican is in the White House.”

2) Women politicians are no less corrupt than their male counterparts

In New Hampshire’s Senate race and in Wisconsin’s governor’s race two women candidates have faced embarrassing disclosures.

New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen

In 1969, Shaheen and her husband, Bill, cofounded and had a stake in “Bill & Bob’s -- A Sterling Example,” a shop with locations in both New Hampshire and Maine that sold used jewelry, silver, and leather items. The business was co-owned by Bill Shaheen’s brother-in-law, future state senator Bob Fennelly.

In 1980, police executed a search warrant at the Maine Bill and Bob’s location in connection to an investigation of a burglary ring that authorities said had stolen up to $200,000 of property from 27 residences.

Fennelly was indicted for allegedly buying $11,000 of stolen jewelry from the burglars. Fennelly retained a lawyer, Robert Stein, who would later become a partner at Bill Shaheen’s law firm.

“It was a known fact that Bill and Bob’s would buy any silver and gold without asking many questions,” one burglar told police, according to a Sep. 6, 1980 report by the Foster’s Daily Democrat newspaper, which extensively covered the trial.  

Her husband claimed he sold his stake in the business to his sister and they were not charged with a crime, but the indications are that this fencing gig was her only business experience and it is malodorous.

It’s not the only time her business dealings drew questions.  

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has invested tens of thousands of dollars in a French oil company that admitted to bribing Iranian officials, despite her insistence that such business deals undermine U.S. economic sanctions.

Shaheen’s family owns between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in Total S.A., the fourth-largest oil company in the world, through a mutual fund.

The company has come under fire from regulators in recent years, agreeing to pay the SEC and Department of Justice nearly $400 million in fines in 2013 after admitting to bribing Iranian official in exchange for access to two oil fields. The $60 million payoff netted the company $150 million in profits from 1995 to 2004.

The fine was the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act penalty of 2013 and the fourth largest in history.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, has called on European companies to curb trade delegations to the Iranian regime to avoid undermining U.S. sanctions. She criticized European companies for attempting to establish financial ties while Iran pursues nuclear technology, saying she was “deeply troubled” by reports that European countries were sending “the message to Tehran that sanctions are abating.

Wisconsin’s Mary Burke

Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed has a detailed analysis of how Wisconsin’s Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke, “plagiarized” the “jobs plan” on her website from three prior Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

[snip]

But here’s the thing: Mary Burke really, really wanted voters to think her “jobs plan” was an important reason to distinguish her from her opponent, Scott Walker, and she ought to pay a price for that. Here’s the tune Burke was singing back in March:

Democratic Gubernatorial challenger, Mary Burke released her 5 point plan today to create jobs…. “I brought Gov. Walker’s plan from 2010. This is 4 pages. I’ve seen 8th grade term papers that had more work put into them,” Burke told an audience at Marquette University.

[snip]

In other words, Burke isn’t just recycling boilerplate on her website -- she’s spent months running around the state telling the voters that they should read her jobs plan because it’s proof that she’s smarter, more detail-oriented, and more qualified by private sector experience to help Wisconsin’s economy grow. She has been actively touting the plan and circulating copies rather than just letting it lie fallow in a forgotten “Issues” section of a website. That’s a much bigger deal, and voters who may have warmed to Burke’s sales pitch on how much work she put into the plan should reconsider their assessments now that she had blamed the whole thing on an outside consultant who sold her a plan that already went down to defeat with gubernatorial candidates in Indiana and Tennessee.

3) The issues the Democrats tout will hurt women voters as much as they hurt men , if not more

I believe this is true of all the issues the party is advancing, but nowhere is that more obvious than in environmental issues. Rational observers know that the price of fuel impacts everything from food prices to each consumer good we use and almost every daily activity in which we engage. We know that the ability to drive and reasonable energy costs make it possible for women to lead such productive lives in the U.S. -- efficient appliances and reasonable transport costs enable women to work and run a household, to get the kids to and from school, shop conveniently and attend to various family and community responsibilities. But the administration’s constant efforts to get us off the roads, to increase energy costs, to raise the cost of cars, transport, and appliances by enacting more and more unreasonable regulations will make it harder for working women and mothers.

So why do the foolish arguments of the green energy and climate change advocates find such willing ears on the distaff side. I’m sure there are many reasons, here’s two:

The benighted Ecofeminism movement was designed to and does shape this thinking.

Ecofeminism, or ecological feminism, is a term coined in 1974 by Françoise d'Eaubonne. It is a philosophy and movement born from the union of feminist and ecological thinking and the belief that the social mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse of the natural environment. It combines eco-anarchism or bioregional democracy with a strong ideal of feminism. Its advocates often emphasize the importance of interrelationships between humans, non-human others (e.g. pigs, squirrels, toads), and the earth. A central tenet in ecofeminism states that male ownership of land has led to a dominator culture (patriarchy), manifesting itself in food export, over-grazing, the tragedy of the commons, exploitation of people, and an abusive land ethic, in which animals and land are valued only as economic resources. Other ecofeminists claim that the degradation of nature contributes to the degradation of women. For example, Thomas-Slayter and Rocheleau detail how in Kenya, the capitalist driven export economy has caused most of the agriculturally productive land to be used for monoculture cash crops. This led to intensification of pesticide use, resource depletion and relocation of subsistence farmers, especially women, to the hillsides and less productive land, where their deforestation and cultivation led to soil erosion, furthering the environmental degradation that hurts their own productivity (Thomas-Slayter, B. and D. Rocheleau. (1995) Gender, Environment and Development in Kenya: A Grassroots Perspective).

However this may play out in the Third World, I doubt it is as important in women’s’ fate there than are a panoply of other factors (like polygamy, political corruption, lack of land title, limited capital resources, traditions, and inheritance laws). It is bunkum in the First World, where misuse of resources under the enviro banner means far less money is available to improve the plight of everyone, male and female, in the  First and Third World.

No one challenges these cockamamie ecofeminist notions effectively, And they should. Not in thought pieces only rationalists believe, but rather in Style sections of newspapers, in educational fora, and women’s magazines, constant propagandists of such unscientific uninformed bunk.

Richard Lindzen explored this question in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting we need Cato’s rapid response team to counter unjustified climate alarm claims. 

 Climate alarm belongs to a class of issues characterized by a claim for which there is no evidence, that nonetheless appeals strongly to one or more interests or prejudices. Once the issue is adopted, evidence becomes irrelevant. Instead, the believer sees what he believes. Anything can serve as a supporting omen.

[snip]

The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong interests in believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence.

[snip]

The situation within science itself is equally grim. Huge sums of government and private funding have become available to what was initially a small backwater field. Science becomes easy when emphasis is on malleable models supported by hugely uncertain data that can be readily found ‘consistent’ with the models supplemented by fervidly imagined catastrophic ‘implications.’ Indeed, uncertainty is often exaggerated for just this purpose. Opposition within the scientific community is immediately met with ad hominem attacks, loss of funding, and difficulty in publishing.

Of course, science is not the only victim of this situation. Affordable energy has been the primary vehicle for the greatest advance in human welfare in human history. This issue promises to deny this to the over 1 billion humans who still lack electricity. For billions more energy will be much less affordable leading to increased poverty. Poverty, itself, is a major factor in reduced life expectancy. It requires a peculiarly ugly obtuseness to ignore the fundamental immorality of this issue.

Although all these issues have strong political consequences, it is by no means clear that their origin is, itself, political. I would suggest that a more likely situation is that politics is always opportunistically seeking some cause that fits its needs. However, once an illusional issue becomes a passionate belief, it becomes impervious to argument. Given how dangerous some illusional positions are, it is an important problem to know how to avoid them. This is a problem that is truly worthy of Cato’s attention. Rapid response can only do so much; belief seems to inevitably trump objective reality when one is free to choose ones’ narrative.

Undoing the support for numbskull Democrat initiatives is not an easy task. As the Annenberg Foundation noted in poll results this week, Americans (at least a third of them) are strikingly ignorant about government.

Maybe as “Miss Marple” noted in an online discussion this week, it’s not that these citizens are stupid, just not interested in government and how it works. This might not have mattered much decades ago where the difference between the parties and their goals were not all that apparent, but it matters greatly today and we must think of new, more imaginative ways to reach the uninformed.

Maybe, she suggests, “someone could design a video game based on the Constitution with lots of monsters and explosions.” 

Or maybe ads on "The View" and in Cosmo reminding viewers that they have the leisure to read and watch TV because they have energy to fuel the TV set and the appliances and transport that allow them leisure time pleasures. And the Democrats want to make all that harder.