How Democrats Manipulate, Manage, and Control Movements

The Obama campaign strategy to harness the voters who support the movements generally regarded as the core of the Democratic base, liberals, labor, feminists, environmentalists has been revealed. An unnamed Democratic strategist spilled the beans to David Corn in this article at Mother Jones (the online title was changed and the quote below expanded “for greater clarity” from his magazine article subtitled Can Jim Messina win back Obama’s base and get his boss reelected? about the deputy Chief of Staff under Rahm Emanuel and now campaign manager, in the current issue, July/August 2012).

As the White House’s ambassador to Washington liberals — unions, abortion rights groups, environmental organizations, and general advocacy shops — Messina organized regular Tuesday meetings known as the Common Purpose Project to discuss White House plans, priorities, and messages with these groups. The goal was to coordinate White House strategy with the organizing activities of these outfits. But some of the outside participants considered the meetings mostly sessions where the administration tossed out talking points and marching orders. “Common Purpose was put together to manage the outside groups,” says a Democratic strategist involved in its formation. “To keep them under control as much as possible. It aimed at manipulation more than organizing. Here was Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff, coming to meetings, and people would be docile because they were getting access to the White House.”*

I inquired as to the identity of this candid strategist, but Mr. Corn has not bothered to acknowledge my request, so I presume this person wishes to remain unidentified. Too bad; now I may have to attempt pestering Mr. Messina or the White House for comment. I imagine I would get the same kind of stock non-response I got to my request for comment on A Case Against Obama Nation. Did people think the Democratic Party gave a damn about the movements comprising its base? No, they are to be managed, manipulated, kept under control as much as possible!

I thank David Corn, as I did in my request for the identity of his source, for providing confirmation from an insider source of this peculiar relationship between the Democratic Party and the movements upon whose votes it depends. Such an attitude has been alleged by many critics of that party, myself included, for many a year, but I do not recall seeing it so callously spelled out by a campaign insider, as if this is just the way the political game is played, people are docile sheep to be led around by their noses while that precious access to power granted to leaders of some groups means little or nothing. I hope this attitude infuriates people as much as it does me. Who the hell do these party strategists like Jim Messina and this unnamed deputy think they are? They know what is best for the sheeple? The Free Soil Party says, throw all the bums out! They are public servants; the public is not supposed to serve them. If the reader wants to be part of a feminist revolution, send the Democrats a message they will never forget! Change your registration, or if you are inspired to, think about running for office! It is never too late to make a statement, and unlike a protest, a large number of changed voter registrations cannot be ignored by the powers that be. That is the writing on the wall, an unmistakable warning that voters are fed up and declaring independence. Many have already declared themselves independent, but that can be ignored, dismissed, or patronized as long as independents are unaffiliated, disorganized, without candidates or a clear vision of alternative possibilities.

Perhaps this is just what one should expect from the Democrats. Jim Messina used to work for Max Baucus, who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee infamously declared a single payer health plan off the table, and seems to consider him as well as Emanuel mentors. If Obama has pinned his hopes for reelection on the likes of him, what does that say about the President? I ask the reader, how does it feel to have a President who thinks of you as needing to be managed, manipulated, kept under control? It is people in positions of power who need to be kept under control. That is why this republic was founded, and why the Constitution created a system of checks and balances, a government of limited authority. That did not change on September 11, 2001, but the limits on that authority have been stretched so far, they have lost almost all meaning. When the government arrogates the authority to kill or detain anyone indefinitely without charge or trial, the boundaries of a police state have been crossed. Anyone who hoped Obama would live up to his promise to review and repeal unconstitutional expansions of executive power was led around by the nose. That is one issue. I could cite hundreds like that, where what people hoped Obama might do has little or no resemblance to what he has done, which is largely in continuity with the disastrous policies of his predecessors, including George W. Bush. Is this not business and politics as usual? Since when have the interests of the people mattered to the powers that be?

Ms. Magazine may be a prime example of feminist organizations successfully manipulated. It ran a cover story on the War on Women, page 26 in the current issue, spring/summer 2012, by Beth Baker, full of Democratic talking points, but making not one mention of how Democrats have betrayed feminists. The article is not available online at present. For instance, Ms. Baker mentions VAWA is at risk, since the House came up with its own version, which she claims would “deny support to LGBT survivors of domestic violence.” This is the peculiar Democratic twist on the Republican reaction to new language introduced by the Senate which would deny federal funds to domestic violence shelters that want to maintain a female-only policy, at the behest of gay and transgender activists, since gay men and transwomen have been complaining that such shelters have been denying them services. As I understand, there is no problem of lesbian or bisexual females being turned away, so LGBT is at best imprecise, at worst disguising that this language is an attack by Democrats on behalf of non-females on shelters for battered females.

The language I reference in the Senate bill is this section of the law, on page 205 of the Government Printing Office PDF of the bill text:

13 ‘‘(13) CIVIL RIGHTS.—
14 ‘‘(A) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No person in
15 the United States shall, on the basis of actual or
16 perceived race, color, religion, national origin,
17 sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph
18 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual
19 orientation, or disability, be excluded from par-
20 ticipation in, be denied the benefits of, or be sub-
21 jected to discrimination under any program or
22 activity funded in whole or in part with funds
23 made available under the Violence Against
24 Women Act of 1994…

The Republican version took out gender identity and sexual orientation, but did not take out sex, so I do not know what all the fuss is about; a female-only policy will still violate the new law. The explicit language allowing gay men and transwomen to claim the right to access is not in the Republican version, but since a female-only policy excludes both on the basis of sex or perceived sex, shelters for females only will not be getting federal funds either way. I can understand the Democratic Party twisting this as part of the Republican War on Women, but what is up with Ms. Magazine going along with that distortion?

Along similar lines, Ms. Baker also claims the Affordable Care Act “forbids sex discrimination in health insurance pricing,” but as National Organization for Women has pointed out, this is a myth.

This is from the Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill on the passage of that bill over two years ago:

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 21, 2010

As a longtime proponent of health care reform, I truly wish that the National Organization for Women could join in celebrating the historic passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It pains me to have to stand against what many see as a major achievement. But feminist, progressive principles are in direct conflict with many of the compromises built into and tacked onto this legislation.

The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.

Fact: President Obama made an eleventh-hour agreement to issue an executive order lending the weight of his office to the anti-abortion measures included in the bill. This move was designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. This executive order helps to cement the misconception that the Hyde Amendment is settled law rather than what it really is — an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. It also sends the outrageous message that it is acceptable to negotiate health care reform on the backs of women.

Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.

Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.

We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.

Why, in a story in Ms. Magazine called Fighting the War on Women, is there no mention of any of this? Could it be that supposedly so independent magazine has been successfully manipulated, controlled, managed? Or has defeating Republicans become so important Democrats can betray feminism with impunity, while feminist leaders and writers disregard their dirty tricks? The larger environmental, peace, labor, and gay rights movement groups ought to ponder the same questions. Obama has caught some flak for his betrayals on those fronts, but it is beneath his attention; he wants the swing voters, so his disgruntled liberal base must go along with political reality; to keep Romney out of office they will have to vote for Obama, no matter what he does to demonstrate his independence from his base. When the choice is between the lesser of two evils, no substance is necessary or even expected; the expressed principles and ideas can be all a sham, just for showing off how different they want people to think they are. I am not saying these guys do not believe what they are saying, but what it means to them may not be what it means to the general public. That is deliberate; they speak in code. The public is not expected to understand the machinations of running the country. I do not refer to legalese, rather key phrases, such as national security, working families, middle class; these are all code phrases that evoke a picture of the American way of life, which is one of the key illusions that allow business to go on as usual.

I will have much more to say on the sorry state of politics soon.

7 Responses to “How Democrats Manipulate, Manage, and Control Movements”

  1. Aletha Says:

    Going right along with its program, the Obama campaign has shown it is not above outright lying about Romney to manipulate women. This is from the Tampa Bay Times Truth-O-Meter

    Obama ad says Romney opposed abortion, even in cases of rape and incest
    To appeal to women voters, Barack Obama’s campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney about his position on abortion.

    The latest ad, “Jenny’s Story,” opens with a woman speaking to the camera.

    “I’ve never felt this way before but it’s a scary time to be a woman,” she says. “Mitt Romney is just so out of touch.”

    The announcer says, “Mitt Romney opposes requiring insurance coverage for contraception. And Romney supports overturning Roe vs. Wade. Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in case of rape and incest.”

    Back to the woman: “There’s just so much we need to do. We need to attack our problems. Not a woman’s choice.”

    PolitiFact has tracked Romney’s change of position on abortion. In the early 2000s he spoke of a woman’s right to choose. By 2006, he said he was “pro-life.” For this fact-check, we’ll explore if the Obama campaign is accurately describing his position when it says he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

    This claim is almost identical to one made in an Obama ad that ran in the first week of July. Our colleagues at said that “twisted Romney’s stance.” At the time, the Obama campaign backed up its ad by pointing to a 2007 debate when Romney said he would sign a bill that banned all abortions. But there was no specific bill and no specific language.

    The Obama campaign produced a new ad, but it is not posted on YouTube. We found it on a Washington Post site that tracks campaign ads using data from Kantar Media. The ad changes the claim to say that Romney supported a “bill” rather than a “law.”

    This time, the Obama campaign referred us to additional material. In 2004 and 2008, the Republican Party platform backed the “human life amendment,” which asserts that legal personhood begins at conception — and with that comes full constitutional protections. In 2007, Romney said on ABC’s Good Morning America, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I’m pro-life.”

    But the Obama campaign has a problem in extrapolating Romney’s position from that comment. Support for the amendment does not necessarily equate to opposing abortion when pregnancy is due to rape or incest.

    More recently, Romney has made clear that he supports the exception for rape and incest. In 2011, Romney explained his position on abortion in an op-ed in the National Review. It begins with “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

    Our Ruling

    The ad from the Obama campaign said Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.”

    The Obama campaign provides virtually nothing to back that up, however. It has no evidence that Romney explicitly opposed the exception for rape and incest. While he supported the “human life amendment,” there are many versions and the most recent ones allow abortion after rape or incest. And it’s worth noting that in 2011, Romney declared that has said he supports those exceptions.

    In its effort to appeal to women, the Obama campaign has twisted Romney’s position to a ridiculous degree. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.

    Perhaps the Obama campaign is desperate. It might get more mileage from mocking the change in positions Romney has taken regarding abortion over the years. Romney is not that kind of extremist on abortion, and neither are the majority of Republicans. By stretching the facts in such a transparent and easily contradicted way, the Obama campaign is diluting the message that Romney presents a threat to the legality of abortions. This threat is generally used as a scare tactic by the Democrats to convince women they must vote Democratic to preserve the right to choose abortion, notwithstanding the fact that right keeps getting whittled down regardless of who is in power. When will women get sick of being manipulated? How stupid does the Obama campaign think we are, anyway?

  2. Aletha Says:

    Not to be left out of the rush to be manipulated by Democrats, the self-proclaimed nonpartisan Women’s Campaign Forum blog MsRepresentation had this to say about Obama making Title X grants to Planned Parenthood clinics whose states cut off their funding.

    Obama rescued Planned Parenthoods in three states this week, explaining that he wants his daughters to be able to “control their own health care choices.” Can we get a “whoop whoop” for Title X and the novel idea that we want our daughters to be healthy individuals!?

    Yes, unless one of his daughters needs emergency contraception before turning 17; then he will control their choices. For some reason, that glaring contradiction was not deemed worth mentioning, nor the distinction Obama has drawn between federal funds for Planned Parenthood and federal funds for abortions, the latter of which he promised would remain prohibited as per the Hyde Amendment to get his health insurance bill passed.

    EMILY’s List makes no bones about being partisan. Their latest fundraising appeal states

    EMILY’s List members are men and women from across the country who are dedicated to building a progressive America by electing Democratic women to office.

    What Democrats have to do with a progressive America is beyond me. This country has become a police state at home, an ever more egregious military aggressor abroad, an almost unparalleled destroyer of the environment, and Democrats have done nothing to slow down any of that. Nevertheless, Democrats get a free pass from EMILY’s List, which accuses Republicans of just about every threat to the rights of women one can imagine in their War on Women, including

    threatening to derail the Violence Against Women Act

    playing politics with women’s rights and freedoms

    flooding the airwaves with half-truths and distortions

    As if Democrats are above such things? It is the language introduced by Senate Democrats that may derail VAWA; Republicans would not have objected to reauthorizing it as it was. That was not good enough for Democrats; they wanted to frame the battle over VAWA as Republicans not caring about violence against women. That framing is evidently far more important to Democrats than actually protecting battered women. EMILY’s List is expected to turn a blind eye to Democratic perfidy, but they need to wake up and smell the coffee, to realize this is US politics at work!

    If they succeed, there will be NOTHING we can do to stop them from advancing their anti-woman agenda.

    Yet the Democrats constantly whined, before the Republicans regained control of the House, that they could not do much because there were enough Republicans in the Senate to filibuster everything to death. The most optimistic Republicans are not predicting they will achieve a 60 vote supermajority in the Senate.

  3. Aletha Says:

    I sent the following to the Obama campaign using the question form at

    I request a comment on this quote from David Corn in Mother Jones at

    As the White House’s ambassador to Washington liberals—unions, abortion rights groups, environmental organizations, and general advocacy shops—Messina organized regular Tuesday meetings known as the Common Purpose Project to discuss White House plans, priorities, and messages with these groups. The goal was to coordinate White House strategy with the organizing activities of these outfits. But some of the outside participants considered the meetings mostly sessions where the administration tossed out talking points and marching orders. “Common Purpose was put together to manage the outside groups,” says a Democratic strategist involved in its formation. “To keep them under control as much as possible. It aimed at manipulation more than organizing. Here was Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff, coming to meetings, and people would be docile because they were getting access to the White House.”

    I also request a response to my critique of the 2012 State of the Union speech at

  4. Aletha Says:

    The local talk radio station airing Randi Rhodes is promoting itself with a clip of Randi talking about the Republican platform seeking to ban abortion with no exception for rape, incest, or (with great emphasis) THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER! I looked at the Republican platforms from 2012 and 2008. The relevant language is virtually identical.

    The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

    Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.

    This language does not say anything about exceptions, which as PolitiFact observed, is not the same as saying abortion should be banned, with no exceptions, and in fact the amendments that have been proposed do include exceptions. Romney has made clear he supports the exceptions these Pants on
    Fire Democrats claim Republicans oppose, but Randi Rhodes has exaggerated this claim beyond the Obama campaign, claiming the platform supports forcing a woman to die if she needs an abortion to save her life. There are a few Republicans who are that extreme, but Randi Rhodes is not stupid; she knows why the platform mentions nothing about exceptions. The Republican Party has different ideas about what those exceptions should be, so it refrains from spelling them out. This does not mean they believe there can be no exceptions, not even to save the life of the pregnant woman. Randi Rhodes knows better, but hey, telling outrageous lies like that to demonize Republicans must be good for her ratings!

    Not even NARAL will go that far; like the Obama campaign, it just claims there are no exceptions in the platform for rape or incest. NARAL also proudly claims the Democratic platform is 100% pro-choice. This may seem peculiar, considering how Obama promised to make enacting the Freedom of Choice Act a top priority, which promptly fell off the table after he was elected, and how one might expect a 100% pro-choice President to do something about the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding to help poor women get abortions, but instead he issued an executive order proclaiming that nothing would happen to that prohibition on his watch, selling women out to get his health insurance reform bill passed. He also made sure underage women would continue to have a hard time getting emergency birth control, on the grounds of common sense. If this is 100% pro-choice, or as Ms. Magazine would have it, what a feminist looks like, what does it mean to these mainstream feminist organizations to be pro-choice, or feminist? Not as bad as the Republicans? Ms. Magazine is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. I think it lost its cutting edge a long time ago.

  5. Aletha Says:

    The fortieth anniversary issue of Ms. Magazine is out, and I must say I miss the days when Ms. was not so overwhelmingly partisan. One odd omission I noted was in its coverage of ballot initiatives that affect women’s lives. It mentioned five pertaining to marijuana, but while I agree that is an important issue, and one where the Obama Administration has outdone Republicans to crack down on the evil weed, left out was the California initiative to mandate labeling of most genetically modified foods. If passed this initiative could radically change the practice of agriculture, since it is well known most people do not wish to consume these altered crops, but many have no idea how prevalent they have become, especially as ingredients in processed foods.

    There was of course more celebration of Obamacare, and of the Democratic talking point that gender rating will be prohibited. The article in Ms., The Dividends of Health Reform, was paralleled by a longer article, What’s in Health Care Reform for Women? A Lot!, in the current National Women’s Health Network newsletter by Keely Monroe, former NWHN program coordinator. The Ms. article was co-written by Ms. Monroe and executive director Cindy Pearson, and that article did mention the restrictions on abortion. She wrote in her column in the newsletter that NWHN wants

    to move forward to strengthen and expand the law, so it covers not only everyone but also all of the health care services women need, including abortion.

    However, in neither article was it mentioned that Obama had put himself squarely in opposition to that goal. I also miss the days when NWHN was not so partisan. It does not help the feminist cause to cut deals with mainstream politicians to get a seat at the table. Women are used to being used, but that does not make it right, or empowering, or anything beyond being used.

  6. Aletha Says:

    The position of NARAL has evolved. In their latest appeal to vote for Obama, NARAL President Nancy Keenan writes,

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a very different view of women than you and I.

    They think it’s okay for bosses to deny women birth-control coverage. And they have supported policies that would outlaw abortion in almost all cases, even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s health is in danger.

    Really? When? Pants on Fire, NARAL! At least they are not going quite as far as Randi Rhodes, warning about cases when a woman’s life is at stake! Paul Ryan has opposed exceptions for rape and incest, but acknowledges that Mitt Romney does not share that view. Scare tactics about those dastardly Republicans are common practice for Democrats, but why must mainstream feminism play that game? Is that the price of a seat at the table?

    Then Ms. Keenan warns about the Senate.

    In addition to picking up seats in the House, we must protect every pro-choice champion in the U.S. Senate. Right now, there are only 40 reliably pro-choice votes in that chamber.

    That means about a quarter of the Democratic Senators are not reliably pro-choice. I doubt that high a proportion of Republicans support outlawing abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s health is in danger. Connect the dots, NARAL! Protecting the rights of women is not a high priority on the Democratic agenda, no matter how hard Democrats try to paint their party as the champion of women and minorities, and the Republicans as the party of racist sexist white men! A little history lesson, Democrats; that party used to be the Democratic Party. It was the Republican Party that abolished slavery, after it arose to steal that issue from the Free Soil Party, and as a result, for about the next century Southern white men voted overwhelmingly Democratic.

  7. Aletha Says:

    Nancy Keenan is at it again, sending off this missive in response to the second Presidential debate,

    I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Mitt Romney is a liar.

    Last night in the debate, Romney said, “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

    He really will say anything.

    He is on record in support of allowing employers to refuse contraceptive coverage to their employees. And we know that Romney’s top priority is to repeal Obamacare, which would block millions of women from accessing contraception and other critical reproductive-health care.

    Yes, desperate Democrats will say anything, even that millions of women will have no access to contraception if Obamacare is repealed. Really? What did all these women do before the Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to pay for contraception? Some paid for it, others had policies that covered it, but not without a co-payment, and others got assistance to pay for it. Ms. Keenan would have women believe that the repeal of Obamacare would block millions of women from obtaining contraception? Certainly contraceptive coverage without co-payment is nice, but losing that benefit is not the same as making contraception inaccessible! Some might even say that benefit was not worth the squandering of the chance to pass genuine health care reform, which the Democrats had at the time, with sizable majorities in both chambers of Congress. A little help for the pocketbook is nice, but real health care reform is part of the change we need. Obviously that kind of change will not be forthcoming any time soon, even if Democrats sweep the election.

    The NARAL blog has a more realistic explanation for this charge that Romney will block access to contraception.

    Blocking women’s access to birth control is also part of his agenda. Romney has said he would eliminate Title X family-planning programs.

    Now this makes some sense, but what does Title X have to do with Obamacare? Theoretically, if all women were to have health insurance that paid for family planning, there would be no need for Title X family-planning programs. If Romney has his way, yes, some women will have difficulty obtaining contraception, but not because their access is blocked, but because they cannot afford it! However, saying Romney wants to block access to contraception sounds so much more frightening, does it not? Same old story, Democrats demonizing those dastardly anti-woman Republicans, to cover up for Democratic betrayals and broken promises. What betrayals, says NARAL, Obama is our pro-choice champion! Some pro-choice champion, who promised as a candidate to sign the Freedom of Choice Act right away, but then dropped it off his agenda, and wrote the Hyde Amendment into stone to get his health insurance reform bill passed.

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