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September 12, 2008

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Why was Feingold the only D to vote against that bill? Well Shelby did too, but he switched to R. Seriously, I think he has some explaining to do.

Why was Feingold the only D to vote against that bill?

I'm assuming it's because he is a serious civil libertarian. Many very horrible abuses have been put into effect under cover of stopping violence against women, and under cover of protecting children, and under cover of fighting terrorism.

For instance, the practice of taking DNA samples from those arrested for crimes, and keeping it in state and national databases, regardless of whether the person arrested was ever charged with the crime -- much less convicted. This came in with either VAWA or an anti-child-pornography bill, but has since metastasized to cover a whole bunch of other crimes, and has spread to many states. Now they're talking about doing it routinely on the federal level.

Defense lawyers are in a better position to describe the particular abuses that the VAWA has opened the door to. Maybe someone at TalkLeft would be able to say. The legislative history of the VAWA probably give a clue (amendments offered by Feingold, e.g.) That doesn't mean it's a terrible bill overall, but it does explain why someone like Russ Feingold would feel the need to cast a symbolic vote in protest.

The actual horror of the violence to which women are subjected does not make just any legislative measure taken against a good thing.

Flying jets into tall buildings is pretty horrific violence, too. Not enough thought, to put it mildly, went into what the policy response should be. The excesses have taken us far, far from the rule of law.

The wingnuts are running McCain's campaign. The trolls are running the show, and . . . I have to stop before I break site rules.

Plus, Stephen Suh over to Cogitamus points this out:

...to put it another way, if Todd Palin had his way and Alaska became a sovereign nation, of all the other nations in the world, only South Africa would have a higher incidence of rape, and Wasilla even manages to beat the rest of Alaska.

How is it possible that the Republicans found someone even more odious than Dick Cheney?

Diligence and dedication, ara, diligence and dedication. ... at least this a policy position on which she agrees with McCain, though, I guess ...

It's one of the examples of how feminism has worked its way into general acceptance since the revolutionary movement began: it's now accepted in most modern jurisdictions that rape is a crime committed by the rapist, for which the rapist is prosecuted by the state: it is not a crime that the rape victim claims is done to her for which she personally must seek redress. (I use gendered language in the last part of that sentence because the legal acceptance that men too are raped is another by-product of feminism.)

Old-fashioned legal language used the term "prosecutrix" to describe the rape victim if charges were brought against the rapist in court, blandly presenting the idea that the rapist's victim was pressing the charges, rather than being the key witness. It is a source of the blame-the-victim attitude - "being raped" was something that happened to the victim, not something that someone else did.

Although Hilzoy doesn't mention it, this belief usually runs in parallel with the belief that a woman made pregnant by rape ought to be forced through pregnancy and childbirth - no matter the age of the victim, her being raped has removed her status as "innocent": the fetus she may carry has that status, but a raped child does not.

Sarah Palin famously said, in response to a question about whether she supported abortion, not even if her own daughter was raped.

(That she reneged on that decision, and has since declared herself to be pro-choice, makes her a better human being, but her principles at the time she was Mayor of Wasilla were apparently, explicitly, for forced pregnancy.)

It doesn't surprise me that, just as she regards a raped woman as an incubator for the rapist's seed, she also regards evidence for prosecuting the rapist for his crime as a matter for the rape victim to pay for.

How is this not a dealbreaker with the American public? What would it signify if this woman were elected?

It's not everyday I read a post about something so hideous that it makes me physically bite my tongue with anger.

Any attempt at higher-brain analysis is presently impossible.

It's not everyday I read a post about something so hideous that it makes me physically bite my tongue with anger.

Any attempt at higher-brain analysis is presently impossible.

A well written and well researched post, Hilzoy. Congratulations. Let us know what we can do to get this argument (as framed) to a wider public.

The USA Today article on this is also very good (and contains the fact that they reporter has requested city records on the specifics of the policy and when and by whom it was formulated). It contains the clearest statements that I have seen that rape victims were definitely charged for rape kits in Wasilla. It is pretty clear in other articles, but not so absolutely clear that I haven't seen Palin supporters trying to weasel out of admitting it.

Charles S: At a quick lookover, what I can find is Palin supporters arguing that the governor says she doesn't support this; that she had no reason to know about it; and that even if she did know about it, it was in no way her responsibility, because it was a decision by the police department.

Which to me sounds exactly like the rationale for claiming that President Bush doesn't support torturing prisoners.

Based on this furor, I assume you're all going to adopt my long held position: That acquitted defendants should be automatically reimbursed for all the costs incident to their prosecution. After all, such expenses are a natural consequence of attempting to find and punish the guilty, but why should the innocent have to carry them, just because the government went after the wrong person?

"(I use gendered language in the last part of that sentence because the legal acceptance that men too are raped is another by-product of feminism.)"

See, that's one of the reasons I read this blog: I enjoy the frequent WTF moments.

Brett, I can't remember anyone stating the opposite here. I'd actually think that would be the way in civilized societies (Admittedly I am out my depths here, since until now I had no dealings with any courts). I think I have heard about a "losing side has to pay the legal costs of the winning side" principle somehwere (but that may be a European thing and not apply to the US).

Brett: That acquitted defendants should be automatically reimbursed for all the costs incident to their prosecution.

In the US, if a person is wrongfully accused of a crime and a court agrees that the person who made the accusation had no reasonable grounds for believing the truth of the accusation, then the person wrongfully accused can claim compensation. (With OJ Simpson, for example, this wouldn't apply - even though he was acquitted, the police department that brought the charge had reasonable grounds to believe he had committed the crimes.)

Anyone who can't afford legal representation should get legal aid, and legal aid should be paid at a level that attracts good lawyers. That's a basic principle of democracy, and if you feel that strongly about it, Brett, I'd suggest you take up that principle - that people who can't afford a decent lawyer may get convicted and even sentenced to death is shameful.

Better to prevent mistakes in advance, regardless of the income of the accused, than merely change the rules to compensate fully the better-off who were acquitted even though there were reasonable grounds to bring the accusation? You really feel OJ Simpson deserves to get back every cent he spent on getting himself acquitted, more than Juan Melendez deserved a decent lawyer to save himself from 17 years on Death Row?

Hartmut: I think I have heard about a "losing side has to pay the legal costs of the winning side" principle somehwere (but that may be a European thing and not apply to the US).

As far as I know, this only applies in civil cases. But I could be wrong: I've never been directly involved in a criminal case.

It's not just Palin. Charging rape victims for evidence collection turns out to be standard in North Carolina and And Tennessee.

acquitted defendants should be automatically reimbursed for all the costs incident to their prosecution. After all, such expenses are a natural consequence of attempting to find and punish the guilty, but why should the innocent have to carry them, just because the government went after the wrong person?

I assume you mean costs they incurred in their defense. Given some reasonable limits I have a lot of sympathy with this. I'll go further and say that IMO even those who are subjected to extensive investigations and not convicted, or even charged, are entitled to some compensation. You'd have to allow significant "free" investigation of course, but there are situations where it gets downright abusive.

Jes points to OJ Simpson as undeserving of such compensation. All else aside, if I understand correctly, the reimbursement he mighthave received would have ultimately gone to his victims' families as result of their civil suit.

though Wasilla was an outlier in Alaska.

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said

The Tennessee link is broken, Doctor Science.

But I note that not only will a teenage girl have to find payment somehow for the rape kit; her parents (in both Tennessee and North Carolina) are legally empowered to force her to have the rapist's baby (unless she has the savvy to get a judicial bypass, or the streetsmarts to get an illegal abortion).

Pro-lifers are rapist-friendly, and vice-versa.

As I've noted on a couple of other blogs (but not this one) the North Carolina policy has been changed, just within the last month, in large part as a result of the publicity generated by such articles as those Doctor Science linked to above.

But (as I've also noted) the fact that such policies were not unique to Alaska, much less Wasilla, makes the amount of anti-Palin outrage they are likely to generate somewhat limited. Lots of administrations, squeezed by modern budgeting constraints to be cost-effective, decided that this would be the way to go, not so much to punish the rape victim (IMHO) as to cut expenses mindlessly. At least the North Carolina case suggests that hardly anyone was willing to defend the policy once it came under public scrutiny.

It's horrible, but it's not the "smoking gun" that will put down the Palin menace.

I wonder if Brett is so worried about those who are acquitted, how he feels about these folks.

ICE does not keep records on cases in which detainees claim to be US citizens. If larger trends are consistent with the pattern in Hartzler's caseload, since 2004 ICE has held between 3,500 and 10,000 US citizens in detention facilities and deported about half. US citizens are a small percentage of ICE detentions for this period, which totaled around 1 million, but in absolute terms the figure is staggering.

Wow, at least they're consistent:

McCain/Palin attacking Obama for trying to protect children from child molesters.

Palin for trying to give Wasilla rapists (of women) an "easy out".

But, being good conservatives, the're in favor of locking up people (mostly men) for a long time, ensuring a steady supply of homosexual rape victims.

Look at their economic policies too, they have "RAPE" written all over them.

MCCAIN/PALIN: OBJECTIVELY PRO-RAPE

(and loot and pillage and burn, but that comes later)

But (as I've also noted) the fact that such policies were not unique to Alaska, much less Wasilla, makes the amount of anti-Palin outrage they are likely to generate somewhat limited.

This is a political matter. How limited (or not) the outrage is depends on how successfully the Obama campaign and its allies raise the outrage. Outrage rarely generates itself.

One way or another, the policy was outrageous and was, in Alaska, unique to Wasilla. And with McCain opposing the Violence Against Women Act, the ad practically writes itself.

Of course, the ad needs actually to be written and run for the maximum outrage to be generated. I certainly hope it is.

I used to represent battered women too and used to prosecute. I can't think of any other alleged crime in which the victim is expected to pay to gather evidence.

It's horrible, but it's not the "smoking gun" that will put down the Palin menace.

Maybe not, dr ngo, but I sure would love to hear her defense:

"I was just mindlessly cutting expenses without paying much attention to what was being cut."

or

"I didn't know about it," in a town of a few thousand.

This is the wonderful "executive experience" the GOP is so proud of?

" 'I didn't know about it' in a town of a few thousand".

To this one could add: ..."even though it was written about in the local paper at the time."
I live in a town of a few thousand. (Yes, there are moose around here too.) There is absolutely NO way the town manager or most everyone else in town wouldn't hear about a story like that.

Good stuff. Now lets get the spyglass out and go through Chicago's laws and see how much fun we can have judging how Daley, Obama and Company have responded during their accomplished careers. Hell, pick your city. We're so proud.

If the mayor of a small town, who had an edict that employees could not talk to the press without clearance from her, did not know that her police department was doing this, she was incompetent.

IMHO - and IANAPoliticalPro - the Democrats would be making a big mistake fixating on this issue.

This election ought to be about the Bush legacy of war, constitutional shrinkage, and economic stumbling, all of which McCain has endorsed.

Do we really want to turn it into a referendum on abortion? Or the comparative character/experience/charisma of Palin vs. Obama and Biden? Even though we are sure that Virtue and Common Sense are on our side?

I agree that this is horrible. But I maintain that this is not the kind of issue most likely to end the Republican nightmare, and to focus on it is to play into Rovian hands. (There's good touching and bad touching, you see . . .)

As always, YMMV.

@ dr. ngo:

I'll partially agree with you about the undesirability of Democrats' "fixating" in the Wasilla rape-test-charge issue, but OTOH, I think it would be criminally negligent of them NOT to bring it up in at least one series of ads. If for no other reason that it would stick a pin in the grossly overinflated Superwoman image the Republicans have crafted for Gov. Palin. Repainting her closer to the reality of her being less the Capable Executive of their imaginative adverts, and more the small-town political hack (with a callous cheapskate streak) she more likely is. Too good an opportunity to pass up, IMO - IF: the timelines and documentation hold up.

Unfortunately for dr ngo, I agree with him. Which might just mean that he's wrong. Or, possibly...nah.

Two things happening here, that I see. On the micro end, a whole lot of the Obama-minded blogosphere is off chasing Palin's particulars, and the huge problem with that is there just isn't very good documentation for them. Just try, for example, to find out what mayoral powers Palin held at the time, and who decided that the rape-kits would be charged to the victim. It's not that these aren't valid questions, it's that very few people are trying to build a case based on fact. It might not even be out there to build, unless you want to try and build a case out of a letter penned by someone who clearly doesn't like Palin very much.

The other is, again, that so much attention is being focused on Palin, who isn't even Obama's opponent, that what Obama stands for is being neglected.

Not presuming to advise, here. Just calling it as I see it.

It's not about finding the smoking gun or the knockout punch. It's time to use that famous "kitchen sink" strategy against Palin and McCain and put them on the defensive. Force Palin to spend time explaining why in Wasilla they were charging rape victims (and why there were so many rape victims in a small town like Wasilla under Sarah Palin's watch). The time they have to spend talking about that is time that they can't spend spouting bullshit about how they're the real mavericky straight-talk agents of change and experience who were never EVER for earmarks and Nowhere Bridges, nosirree!

If they can run disgusting ads suggesting that Barack Obama wanted to teach five-year-olds how to fuck, the gloves are officially off, MoFos! I'm through with "oh, but will this work? Will this work?" Who knows? It will certainly force them off their preferred narrative, which is what is needed at this point, imo.

Just try, for example, to find out what mayoral powers Palin held at the time, and who decided that the rape-kits would be charged to the victim.

While this may do for Republicans determined to think well of their prospective Vice President at all costs, those people aren't ever going to vote Obama anyway so they don't count: they'll be right over there staring blissfully up at the Mommy and Daddy of all candidates.

The targets are the slightly saner people who will ask "If Palin is presenting herself as a feminist/women's champion, where is the evidence for it in this particular policy? She had the time and the energy to demand the librarian censor books from the public library or be fired: why didn't she have the time or the energy to demand that the police chief end this Wasilla-specific policy of charging rape victims for collecting the evidence to prosecute the rapist?"

The other is, again, that so much attention is being focused on Palin, who isn't even Obama's opponent

Palin was McCain's pick to succeed him as President if he, a 72-year-old cancer survivor, doesn't see his 76th birthday.

Criticism of Palin as Vice President is criticism of McCain presenting himself as a man able to choose himself a cabinet or a staff or run a country - if he can't even make a good pick for Vice President, if the best he could do was Sarah Palin and he didn't even bother to have her vetted before he chose her, what kind of fist is he going to make running the country?

that what Obama stands for is being neglected.

For those who care what Obama stands for, they've already made up their minds to vote for him.

For those who merely don't want the next four to eight years to be just like the last 8 under Bush - well, the more information exposing McCain as a stupid, lazy man who is as much a disaster area President as Bush ever was, the better.

Not presuming to advise, here. Just calling it as I see it.

Well, yes, Slarti. Do you remember, back October 2004, you were arguing that just because it had come out that the Bush administration hadn't planned on what the US invasion forces should do if they found WMD dumps, that didn't mean the Bush administration had been lying about WMD as the motivation for invading Iraq? I do. You came across then as the classically gullible Republican, "my government wouldn't lie to me!" and you do now. Which makes you a useful canary for telling the rest of us how the classically gullible Republicans will perceive Sarah Palin... but no one expects that group to vote for Obama anyway.

That she reneged on that decision, and has since declared herself to be pro-choice, makes her a better human being

Er, Jesurgislac, Sarah Palin hasn't since declared herself to be pro-choice. Speaking as one who has emerged from American fundamentalist Christianity, Bristol Palin's "choice" to keep the baby was to be contrasted with putting it up for adoption. If Governor Palin had any actual pro-choice views, the Dobsonites would not have nixed Lieberman or Ridge in her favor. No, Governor Palin remains in the anti-Griswold crowd, you can be certain of that.

Now lets get the spyglass out and go through Chicago's laws and see how much fun we can have judging how Daley, Obama and Company have responded during their accomplished careers

More Republican lunacy. Palin has more executive experience than Obama, they tell us, asserting that palin's time as a small town mayor is mroe relevant to the presidency than Obama's time in the state legislature and the US Senate. But as soon as it comes out that Palin wasn't a very good small town mayor, they want to blame Obama for how Chicago was run, even though running Chicago was never his job . . .

blogbudsman, perhaps you're not aware that Obama was never involved in Chicago city government.

mds, just to clarify, I used to agree with you that Palin's statement about choice clearly referred to adoption, but if you look closely at the precise words ("have the baby" versus "keep the baby") I think you'll see that Jes is right in that the wording suggests abortion. Now, I think that Palin and her campaign team are not very smart people and it is just as likely that they really meant "keep" instead of "have" but YMMV.

For what it's worth: I think there's a huge difference between what the Obama campaign does and what I choose to write about. (Luckily.) I wrote about this not because I think the Obama campaign should focus on it, but because I, a random blogger, thought it was interesting. What the Obama campaign should or shoud not do is above my pay grade.

For those who care what Obama stands for, they've already made up their minds to vote for him.

Are you asserting that every potential Obama voter already knows what he stands for?

Has the media's portrayal of his views been thorough and accurate?

So, the handpicked VP candidate of the anti-choice wing of the GOP; someone who is on the record as opposing rape, incest, and mother's health exceptions to abortion bans; this person is now pro-choice if we parse a single ambiguous word selection a certain way? Good grief, didn't we already go through this when people were slobbering about the secret pro-choice views of John "I support South Dakota's ban" McCain? If she's now pro-choice, she can come out and say it. Otherwise, an alternative explanation for the word choice that would be consistent with her backers' world view? "Bristol had the baby, despite what all those pro-abortion liberals would prefer."

mds: So, the handpicked VP candidate of the anti-choice wing of the GOP; someone who is on the record as opposing rape, incest, and mother's health exceptions to abortion bans; this person is now pro-choice if we parse a single ambiguous word selection a certain way?

Yes.

And I think that everyone who interviews Sarah Palin from now to November should congratulate her on having revealed herself as pro-choice, as a caring mom who would not have followed through on her earlier abstract declaration of principles that she would force her daughter to have the baby against her will - that when the chips came down, Palin proved herself to be as pro-choice as any feminist mom in the US.

I really do think that, mds: that Sarah Palin deserves to be congratulated, in public, as often as possible, for having made clear that she is a pro-choice Republican who believes that the pregnant woman should get to decide whether to have the baby or to have an abortion - because, with regard to her daughter's pregnancy, that's what she said: it was her daughter's choice.

Every. Single. Interview.

Um, Jes, I'd really prefer that we not make Palin's kid's reproductive choices a part of every single interview she does. Her kid is not running for office and I really don't think repeating this over and over will help. But that's just my opinion. Aren't there, you know, issues reporters could ask her about instead?

"Pro-lifers are rapist-friendly, and vice-versa."

I don't think that pro-lifers actually regard not killing any babies resulting from rape as rapist friendly, so much as innocent baby friendly.

I also think that Jes is just completely wrong that that would work the way she seems to think it would: IMO, right-wingers would ignore it, or use it as another excuse to rally to Attacking The Liberal Media, and middle-of-the-roaders would take it at face value. Not exactly the desired result.

The only way it could possibly work to "tar" Palin as pro-choice would be if people with credibility in the Christian anti-abortion community went at her that way, and of course, they won't. The presupposition that anyone else would have credibility to make that claim plausible to that crowd makes no sense to me.

As a rule, I actually agree with Jes some 90%-95% of the time as regards actual issues, and I often agree with her emphatically and admiringly; it's when she tries to deal with what or how other people will or do believe that she seems to repeatedly... not come to the same conclusions I do.

Yes, Democrats need to be clarifying that Palin and holds an extremist conservative position on abortion. We don't need any more muddying of the reality that she and her sidekick McCain are clearly opponents of choice on abortion.

Enough people are somehow under the impression that McCain is a moderate on the issue. Let's rectify that rather than giving people the erroneous idea that Palin's a moderate as well.

What Gary Farber and KCinDC said. I would add that I apologize to Jesurgislac for misreading her intention; it is an unfortunate reality that it would backfire. Only low-information swing voters would buy it, while Republican-supporting fundamentalist Christians would be getting their marching orders more directly, and would not be misled into sitting this one out.

Slarti,
The other is, again, that so much attention is being focused on Palin, who isn't even Obama's opponent, that what Obama stands for is being neglected.

It seems to me that if this were true, McCain's campaign would be in the tank. But it seems that (as has been proven over and over again) negative advertising works, particularly with a story such as this that goes to deep emotional positions.
Obama ought not emulate the McCain campaign in going completely negative, but they should hit spots such as this. They should have a TV spot with McCain's "bombombombombombIran" line. Etc.

If I didnt respect you, Id think you were concern trolling. I dont- but I do think that you're seeing the two candidates in some oddly different lights to think this.

Or maybe you think that the two candidates draw from very different populations of supporters that demand different behavior- that would make sense, I guess.

Turbulence: Um, Jes, I'd really prefer that we not make Palin's kid's reproductive choices a part of every single interview she does.

We're not. I just think journalists should note to Palin that far from being the consistent pro-lifer she's claimed, she's an inconsistent humane pro-choicer where her own family are concerned - just as McCain is, for that matter. Both of them have said, in public, that where their own daughters are concerned, they are pro-choice: both support legislation designed to remove the right of choice for all other women.

Brett: I don't think that pro-lifers actually regard not killing any babies resulting from rape as rapist friendly, so much as innocent baby friendly.

No one here's in favor of killing babies whose fathers were rapists, Brett.

What we are discussing is whether girls or women who have been raped ought to be forced to produce babies just because rapist's sperm met fertile egg. Pro-choicers say, as always, that this is up to the girl or woman concerned.

Whereas pro-lifers want the horror of rape to be followed by nine months of forced pregnancy followed by hours or days of forced childbirth.

Pro-lifers who claim to be "innocent baby friendly" need to explain why they quit being supportive of a child's right to life once the child is old enough to be fertile. Is it only fetal lives that matter? Do girl-children stop having a right to life and health once they (a) leave the uterus (b) reach puberty (c) are raped? Inquiring minds want to know...

But (as I've also noted) the fact that such policies were not unique to Alaska, much less Wasilla, makes the amount of anti-Palin outrage they are likely to generate somewhat limited.

I think a classic example of Democratic overthink- no one is advocating a 30-minute paid advert exampling all sides of the issue and reaching a balanced conclusion. Im thinking of one of those nasty little 30-second spots with an ugly picture of the subject and a case built out of scare quotes floating on and off of the screen.

The goal is kicking her in the gonads and raising her negatives, particularly among women. I think it would do that.

... Palin's kid's reproductive choices ...

Um, what choices? To the conservatives, she is a minor child, not allowed to make her own decisions in such matters. Her parents, and possibly the father (if he's over 18) have opinions that count. Bristol Palin, age 17, doesn't.

On one hand, I can see not dragging the kids into the campaign. (I've heard nothing at all about McCain's kids, for example.) On the other hand, you can't judge a politician's character by looking at the politician him/herself -- they're all charming; it's part of the job description. You have to look at the people around them -- and their children are a big window into their personalities.

Um, what choices? Bristol Palin, age 17, doesn't.

Bristol Palin could easily decide this election tomorrow if she wants. All she has to do is find a reporter, take them aside for a moment, and say "my parents are forcing me to have this baby against my will" and the election would basically be over. If she was really unhappy at the prospect of having and keeping her baby, she could threaten her family with great credibility. So while legally she has little choice in that matter, in practical terms, she has a number of options.

You have to look at the people around them -- and their children are a big window into their personalities.

I'm not sure I agree with this. I think we've all known some awful human beings who came from really good homes and some amazing people who came from awful homes. Maybe we can infer something in some very specific cases (parent abused child who went on to abuse their own children say), but in general this seems like a very unfair way to judge candidates.

But it seems that (as has been proven over and over again) negative advertising works

It works for Republicans. How well it works for Democrats, I have no idea.

If I didnt respect you, Id think you were concern trolling. I dont- but I do think that you're seeing the two candidates in some oddly different lights to think this.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Carleton. I'm still unclear on what a concern troll is supposed to be about, but I'm certainly not bent on disrupting the conversation. Once upon a time, there were people who were interested in my take, if only to get a different perspective on things. I don't presume to advise, and I also don't presume to have anything like an answer. I do find it curious, though, that conversation about Palin has subsumed pretty much everything else. I think that if the McCain campaign had selected her with that end in mind, they're bloody geniuses (in the football sense, I mean: if you try something and it works, you're a genius; if it fails, you're an idiot).

I'm not attempting any particular persuasion, here. I'm certainly ok with being wrong about this.

It works for Republicans. How well it works for Democrats, I have no idea.

I think it worked pretty well for HRC in the primary- it almost closed the gap. Of course, it didnt do the job in the end, but by the time it was deployed she had too steep of a hill to climb. But it certainly had a powerful effect.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Carleton.... Once upon a time, there were people who were interested in my take, if only to get a different perspective on things. I don't presume to advise, and I also don't presume to have anything like an answer.... I'm not attempting any particular persuasion, here. I'm certainly ok with being wrong about this.

I dont think I explained myself very well, I apologise. I *do* think that you have an interesting take on things, and I *dont* doubt your sincerity. I dont understand your statement that focusing on one's opponent hurts a candidate, but maybe you're thinking of this particular circumstance rather than as a general rule- in which case, yeah Id want to talk about what about this particular case makes you think that this is true: that Palin is only the VP candidate? that Obama has gained a valuable rep as a non-dirty candidate? that the blog-based ugly rumors have made any attacks on her, even legitimate ones, toxic?

Really, I very much enjoy reading your posts, they are far too infrequent for my taste; you're one of my favorite posters on ObWi.

maybe you're thinking of this particular circumstance rather than as a general rule

Yes, that's right. I'm not trying to draw any general conclusions, here. Honestly, I'm not a good enough judge of people to try and generalize to that extent.

- in which case, yeah Id want to talk about what about this particular case makes you think that this is true

I don't necessarily think it's true, because...well, there's no evidence for it. I try not to believe my own opinions too much, these days. I think it's possible, though, that much of this focusing on Palin is going to keep attention off of McCain vs. Obama.

Of course, it also might be possible that a majority of the swing voters will be thinking, as was suggested upthread, that Palin will stand a good chance of stepping into the Oval Office in the event McCain is elected, but I think it might be a mistake to count on that.

Since it appears that many swing voters have been swayed toward McCain by their positive view of Palin, it doesn't seem unreasonable to believe that giving more negative attention to Palin (rather than allowing the extremely shallow positive impression to deepen) could help Obama.

I think a classic example of Democratic overthink...
The goal is kicking her in the gonads and raising her negatives, particularly among women. I think it would do that.

Carleton Wu just won the thread.

This isn't rocket science. You take everything you got. You throw it against the wall. You see what sticks.

Will an attack ad on the rape kit hurt issue hurt Palin? I don't know. But there's no way to find out without trying.

I know the Democratic way is to keep one's powder dry, but I'm going to be furious if McCain wins this thing and the Democrats have any ammo sitting around unused.

Yes, the rape-kit charge should be the subject of an ad, but not as just another attack ad reciting facts. The only way to bring this up with real power is if a Wasilia rape victim who had to pay for her own test tells her story on camera.

I doubt anyone will want to do it - she would get attacked with the same ferocity as Cindy Sheehan or Michael Schiavo, the ultimate "second rape." But that's the way to make this charge stick.

"Once upon a time, there were people who were interested in my take,"

I'm interested in your take, as a rule. Although as I tend to think as regards most everyone -- certainly including myself -- occasionally a moment of googling before posting one's take is advisable. But I'm usually interested in your take.

Yuck. This reminds me that I haven't written about the rape trial I was a juror on. The rape examination ended up producing key evidence.

Via Pandagon: Sarah Palin signed off on the budget documents that clearly listed the change in policy (Wasilla began charging rape victims to collect the evidence during Palin's administration - it was not the policy of the town under past mayors or under the police chief whom Palin fired).

Like Slartibartfast, I am made uneasy when the two of us agree. ;}

But I am unconvinced by the attempted rebuttals of his/my/our position.

Let me be very clear that I yield to no one in my contempt for McCain-Palin and the BS campaign they are running. (Absolutely no "concern trolling" here.)

I, too, have a visceral desire to kick him in the nads and "bitch-slap" her (or vice-versa - I'm equal-opportunity vindictive). Or tar them, feather them, and run them both out of town on a rail. I want them not just defeated, but humiliated, discredited.

But I want even more to drive the GOP from power, and I'm not sure the kind of attack strategy recommended here by some is the way to go. NB - I'm not really making a moral claim here, that "Democrats Are Above All This." My thinking here is strategic; it derives in part from years of meetings in which I gradually came to realize that Making A Point is not always the same as Achieving An Outcome.

(ObDisclaimer: I Am *Still* Not A PoliticalPro, and I may well be wrong. No data, no focus group, no formal theory supports me.)

(Also, I'm not faulting Hilzoy for raising this - or any other - issue in this blog, which, as she rightly noted, does not represent the official Democratic campaign strategy. I merely question those who suggest that this should become the oDcs.)

Why? Primarily because this is clearly what the Republicans want. Ever since the nomination of Palin and the convention, they've tried to turn this into a campaign about personalities, about "character" [sic], about culture, rather than about issues. Why should we oblige them?

It's their Briar Patch. They're good at it. They've been practicing dirty politics as a party since at least the time of the "R**F**kers" of Watergate, if not before; as individuals, since they were in the Young Republicans [sic]. The Democrats - I repeat - are not Above This kind of stuff, but they're not as skilled at it. Why play their game?

Look at it another way. Palin, despite all that's come up about her already, still has approval ratings hovering around 50% or so. Bush is still, AFAIK, below 25%.

So why should we focus our attention on McCain-Palin, which is what they want, rather than McCain-Bush, which is where the Obama campaign was originally headed? Why tie McC to a wobbly unknown, when we can tie him to a proven loser?

I have no problem with an aggressive defense against some of the more outrageous GOP slanders, nor with sticking it to McCain and Palin on "character" issues now and then, if it can be done quickly and convincingly. (Inability to master the Internet, FWIW, does not seem to me to qualify here.)

But every time we do that, there's an opportunity cost. We're passing up another chance to tie McCain to Bush, which (IMHO) is a winning strategy, rather than to Palin, which might or might not work.

I may be wrong, of course. I hope I am.

But you must admit that there's something in the air, when Slartibartfast and I agree!

Turbulence: Bristol Palin could easily decide this election tomorrow if she wants. All she has to do is find a reporter, take them aside for a moment, and say "my parents are forcing me to have this baby against my will" and the election would basically be over. If she was really unhappy at the prospect of having and keeping her baby, she could threaten her family with great credibility. So while legally she has little choice in that matter, in practical terms, she has a number of options.

She's 17, and it's fair assumption that she loves her mother - most kids do. That love may be painful and awkward and difficult, but it doesn't mean that she would want to be the one person who got her mom stopped from being Vice President of the United States, by putting herself at the center of a media firestorm that would never end and permanently changing or devastating her relationship with her family.

According to the CFRR, Alaska has a parental notification law that is not enforced and the constitutionality of which is under review. Odds are, therefore, that at 17 if Bristol Palin had wanted to terminate her pregnancy before her parents found out, she probably could. (Under UK law, while in practice no doctor will inform a parent of an abortion if the patient insists against it, no matter what the girl's age, 16 is the age at which a girl becomes entitled to get an abortion without any issues of parental consent.)

At 17, I think Bristol Palin is strongly affected by her parents' proclaimed beliefs and by the church they attend, but she is old enough to make the decision for herself: and her parents say they were pro-choice: they say they let her decide, and that she decided to have the baby. I see no reason to doubt that: it would be tantamount to accusing Sarah and Todd Palin of serious child abuse on no evidence.

It's not that I think it's a good idea for a 17-year-old to have a baby - but it's certainly her decision to make, and it's not as if her family can't afford to support her.

There are political points to be made that both Sarah Palin and John McCain believe that their own families have a right to choose, though women outside their own lofty circles ought to be forced against their will and regardless of the damage to their health. There is the point that Sarah Palin claimed she would force her own daughter to have a baby when being asked about her views when running for governor - but either she was lying then or faced with the reality of the situation when her daughter did get pregnant, she realised that her earlier views were wrong. The McCain/Palin campaign has also made a very great deal out of Palin being pro-choice about her decision to have Trig Palin - a decision they claim that other women shouldn't have a right to make.

The most ardent, heartless, cruel pro-lifers - the kind who advocate handcuffing a suicidally distraught woman to her bed through the last two months of pregnancy, or forcing induced labor on her against her will to make her deliver - are almost invariably those who have never in their entire lives faced the reality of the living, suffering, human beings whom they propose to torture in this way. For them, the pregnant women don't really exist: all they perceive is an "innocent baby" somehow hanging in a golden glow of light.

Who knows: maybe the fact that Sarah Palin knew she had made a choice to bear Trig Palin, made her realize she had to give the same choice to her daughter: that just as it would have been wrong for the state to take the choice away from Sarah herself, it would be wrong for Sarah to try to take the choice away from Bristol.

Of course, that doesn't mean Sarah Palin would have the same humane feelings for other people as she has for herself and her own daughter: just as McCain supports torturing prisoners while feeling a humane concern for himself when he was a POW.

dr ngo,
There are two things that might counterbalance your point. One is that now, the perceived strength of the ticket, the Jacksonian center of gravity, is Palin. The Rovian strategy is to attack the strengths, not the weaknesses. Perhaps the Democrats cannot pull it off the way Rove and his acolytes are, but the idea that attacking the McCain weaknesses seems to leave the (faux) strengths in place.

The second reason is that there seems to be some notion that when bloggers point out something, there is an automatic assumption that this means that the blogger or commenter implies that the Obama campaign must mirror the same criticism. What has made the Republican attack machine so powerful is that there is a degree of independence between the campaign and the attack ads.

Here is an example that I think are fine. I'm thinking that a well made ad highlighting Palin's relationship to Jews for Jesus that highlights some of Palin's theological beliefs is not the kiss of death that slarti feels it is, and should be run in Florida. And on this thread topic, I think an effective ad can highlight Palin's signature on the Wasilla budget juxtaposed against Knowles's statements. Something like 'You've been raped, and now, you have to pay for the evidence to put your attacker behind bars. Sound strange? that's what Sarah Palin had her police department do when she was Mayor of Wassila. And, according to Former governor Tony knowles, Wassila was the only township to do this. (quote about the time window for gathering evidence) Why does Sarah Palin want rapists to go free?'

I'm not affiliated with the Obama campaign in any way, so my advice should not be taken as a recommendation of anything that the campaign should do. But I see no problem with some women's organization putting this up.

I'd also note that I don't think anyone has accused slart of concern trolling, just that his take might not be the right one and if anyone has, I think they are dead wrong.

Jes, I think the problem is the word "choice" here. "She choose to have the baby" implies that an alternative but no default option exists. For the "pro-lifers" this is not the case. If a woman is pregnant and nothing goes wrong, there will be a baby without the necessity for "making a choice", while an abortion requires an activity. From that perspective the only choice is to either keep the baby or to give it away (infanticide not being an option). For that reason the slogan "choose life" is hypocritical because the basic premise is the absence of a choice in the first place (apart from having or not having sex of course*). The drive behind the "ban abortion" is the intent to align the law with the "nonexisting moral choice" (i.e. removing the legal option because "morally" it does not exist**).

*rape is irrelevant here because the woman could have "chosen" to fight to the death (or, in non-Christian cultures, was expected to commit suicide to "prove her innocence")
**following of course this type of logic:

Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature were nonsense. The law of gravity was nonsense. 'If I wished,' O'Brien had said, 'I could float off this floor like a soap bubble.' Winston worked it out. 'If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I see him do it, then the thing happens.' Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the thought burst into his mind: 'It doesn't really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.' He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a 'real' world where 'real' things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.

He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.

"...and her parents say they were pro-choice: they say they let her decide, and that she decided to have the baby."

Cite?

Hartmut: I think the problem is the word "choice" here. "She choose to have the baby" implies that an alternative but no default option exists. For the "pro-lifers" this is not the case.

Quite, and as Sarah Palin said that her daugher chose to have the baby, it is evident that - at least within her own family - Sarah Palin is no pro-lifer.

My point is that many ardent but not too bright pro-lifers claimed that Sarah Palin's behaviour within her own family is proof that she is consistent - when in fact, it proves exactly the reverse. She's a classic "I'm allowed to choose but no one else is" hypocrite, who mouths pro-lifer slogans for other people.

She would fit right in Bush's administration: it is a principle of the Bush administration that rules are for other people: the rulers of American can drink on hunting trips, shoot their friends in the face, evade breathalyser tests: can betray covert CIA agents: can even - ha! - have a gay daughter who has a domestic partnership with another woman and a granddaughter with two mommies - all of that is OK for the ruling classes. The plebs must obey the law. Sarah Palin is Dick Cheney's perfect successor: she evidently feels herself to be above the law and above the morality she advocates for others, just as he does.

I actually could believe that Palin believes in her own "pro-life" stuff and consider her use of "choose" as either lack of self-consciousness* or just using the (totally hypocritical) slogan of "choose life"** in order to pander. Both of course disqualifying characteristics.
On the other hand I can easily imagine her lying to seem less radical than she actually is.

*in a "Use the brain God gave you to realize that there is no God!" way
**we will pay taxes if asked to under the condition that we are never asked to.
We are pro choice, if the choice is...
We are for elections, if those we want are elected (see Palestine, Iraq...)

I realise I am just one of those liberal Europeans sneered at by a speaker at the Republican Conference, but the idea that any sane person in the western world can not see the problem with charging a rape victim fills me with incredulity.

There is simply no defence on this one. Its not about feminism, kooky pinko ideas or political correctness. It is the duty of a state (as in country) towards a citizen. That is surely the point of an elected government. If the state has no responsibility towards justice, then you lack a state in any real meaning of the term

People are wondering why Palin would have made this seemingly bizarre choice, to require rape victims to shell out the cost of the rape kit.

Is it possible that she made this decision because rape kits typically include emergency contraception?

Quite, and as Sarah Palin said that her daugher chose to have the baby, it is evident that - at least within her own family - Sarah Palin is no pro-lifer.

I read it differently- currently, women do have a choice, regardless of Palin's position on the matter. To admit that someone has a choice isn't saying that you want them to have it.
Which would be her speaking very carefully past the issue for political benefit, ie being deceptive rather than being hypocritical.

Ever since the nomination of Palin and the convention, they've tried to turn this into a campaign about personalities, about "character" [sic], about culture, rather than about issues. Why should we oblige them?
So why should we focus our attention on McCain-Palin, which is what they want, rather than McCain-Bush, which is where the Obama campaign was originally headed?

I think that the public & the media have shown themselves over and over again to not be particularly interested in the issues. Consider the drilling debate- the fact that we are talking about something like 3% of the world's oil reserves (ie it won't affect the price significantly) and that it will take a decade to reach the market- these facts are rarely mentioned. Only people who understand policy know them, and the media is uninterested in bringing them up. And it's hard to say that in a 30 second commerical, but it's easy to say "Im for drilling American oil and lowering gas prices!"

The campaign will be on character to a significant extent. McCain has dragged it in that direction, but he's also created a weakness in his campaign by doing so (two, really- 1)Palin is a gigantic fake and 2)he's forced into the gutter which may damage his credibility). Tying McCain to Bush just doesn't seem to be working.

Id be all for it if it were working, just as Id be all for a campaign based on the issues if I thought that the media would do their jobs. But given the situation, I think that taking the shine off of Palin would be a huge blow to both Palin herself and to McCain indirectly (as the one who made the risky choice to bring her on board). Whereas, it's not clear to me that tying McCain to Bush will ever work, as long as the media continue to repeat the 'maverick' thing. Heck, a few days ago James friggin Carville was on TV saying that he didnt think McCain approved of all of this dirty campaigning because McCain is basically a good guy!

I think that there's room as well to attack both of them as ignorant of the economy (eg Palin's recent statement where she demonstrated absolutely no idea what the Fannie/Freddie situation was about). Maybe that would be more effective than attacking Palin's character.

Of course, like you I admit I could be completely wrong on this.

"Quite, and as Sarah Palin said that her daugher chose to have the baby, it is evident that - at least within her own family - Sarah Palin is no pro-lifer."

This doesn't seem like a very good reading of the statement at all. If there are many legal options, but you are morally against one of the options it makes perfect sense to say that you chose one of the moral options. And that is normally considered fairly laudable.

Say the government makes painting your house red, yellow, or blue legal. You have serious moral qualms about blue. If you choose from the legal options, but restrict yourself to what you consider the moral choices, you will choose (from the legal options of red, yellow or blue) red or yellow. You are making a choice. You choose among the legal options to only exercise the options about which you have no moral qualms. That is still a choice. Saying that you chose red doesn't imply that among the *legal* options, blue was a *moral* good.

Jes, I agree with Sebastian. Palin was speaking wingnutese when she said that Bristol chose to have the baby. She was chosen for the GOP ticket because she is strongly pro-life, and in the circles she is accustomed to addressing, the only choice is between keeping the baby and getting married, versus giving the baby up for adoption. One doesn't keep the baby without getting married, you see, and because Bristol is 17, they benevolently didn't force her to marry the father of the child, but rather gave her the choice of marrying him or not. (And in some parts of the country, "have" is used interchangeably with "keep," which might be part of the confusion.)

Rachael Larimore is claiming that Palin has been slimed on this issue. However, this earlier CNN story quotes several witnesses who claim victims were billed. But I wouldn’t say it’s conclusive.

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Whatnot


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