Posted by: Donna
Media previews Dem debate as "sleepy" because it will focus on policy rather than blaming Jews for the Holocaust pic.twitter.com/wmY0VjXHPE
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 12, 2015
Tonight’s Democratic debate, held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, has been pronounced in advance to be a snoozefest, as it will likely be heavy on policy and light (to nonexistent) on the exciting personal attacks and stupefyingly dumb and/or dishonest statements we’ve grown to expect from the GOP debates. And though Hillary Clinton is said to be going in with “high expectations” (heard that phrase a lot from the cable pundits this morning), they have already declared her the loser. She will perhaps commit a terrible, campaign-derailing gaffe or she will be flawless but boring by talking about policy too much. Or she’ll try to connect with the audience emotionally and that will be characterized as insincere. Or whatever. It’s been decided amongst the pundit class that Hillary Clinton cannot win.
It’s often jarring how policy-averse some of the most prominent people covering Presidential campaigns can be. I first really noticed it in 2000, when the MSM had grand, giggly lark focusing on Al Gore’s “stiffness” and supposed exaggerations, while contrasting that with George W. Bush’s alleged affability and ease around people (especially reporters). Policy discussions were treated as an annoying obstacle to the theater and costume criticism, as we can see in Evgenia Peretz’s 2007 Vanity Fair recollection of how Al and Tipper Gore were savaged by the media in the 2000 campaign.
Perhaps reporting in this vein was just too gratifying to the press for it to stop. As Time magazine’s Margaret Carlson admitted to Don Imus at the time, “You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get into the weeds and get out your calculator, or look at his record in Texas. But it’s really easy, and it’s fun to disprove Al Gore. As sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us.”
A study conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 76 percent of stories about Gore in early 2000 focused on either the theme of his alleged lying or that he was marred by scandal, while the most common theme about Bush was that he was “a different kind of Republican.”…
…One obstacle course the press set up was which candidate would lure voters to have a beer with them at the local bar. “Journalists made it seem like that was a legitimate way of choosing a president,” says Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter. “They also wrongly presumed, based on nothing, that somehow Bush was more likable.” Chris Matthews contends that “the likability issue was something decided by the viewers of the debates, not by the commentators,” but adds, “The last six years have been a powerful bit of evidence that we have to judge candidates for president on their preparation for the office with the same relish that we assess their personalities.”
Maureen Dowd boiled the choice between Gore and Bush down to that between the “pious smarty-pants” and the “amiable idler,” and made it perfectly clear which of the presidential candidates had a better chance of getting a date. “Al Gore is desperate to get chicks,” she said in her column. “Married chicks. Single chicks. Old chicks. Young chicks. If he doesn’t stop turning off women, he’ll never be president.”
“I bet he is in a room somewhere right now playing Barry White CDs and struggling to get mellow,” she wrote in another.
Meanwhile, though Dowd certainly questioned Bush’s intellect in some columns, she seemed to be charmed by him—one of the “bad boys,” “rascals,” and a “rapscallion.” She shared with the world a charged moment between them. “‘You’re so much more mature now,’ I remarked to the Texas Governor. ‘So are you,’ he replied saucily.” And in another column: “You don’t often get to see a Presidential candidate bloom right before your eyes.”
As the Daily Howler noted, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams went after Gore’s clothes at least five times in one week. “Here is a guy taking off his suits.… This is the casual sweater look—what’s going on here?” … “He would have been in a suit a month ago.” … “He’s wearing these polo shirts that don’t always look natural on him.” Williams’s frequent guest Newsweek’s Howard Fineman later chimed in: “I covered his last presidential campaign, in 1988. One day he was in the conservative blue suit, the next he was playing lumberjack at the V.F.W. hall in New Hampshire.”
It really was that bad. Put in perspective, it puts a brighter outlook on this election for Democrats. In the fifteen intervening years, social media has grown to be an exponentially more powerful check on the MSM than it was in 2000. While I’d never say it was impossible, it is certainly much more difficult for the GOP to pull off the “compassionate conservative” con job while smearing the Democratic nominee this time around.
As for the “boring” Democratic debate, Amanda Marcotte of Salon points out that the last GOP debate was mostly a three hour yawn punctuated by a few shockers (like Carly Fiorina’s imaginary Planned Parenthood video). There was nothing substantive to it, just the GOP candidates regurgitating the same right wing talking points with little variation. There are enough real differences between the Democratic candidates to keep tonight’s debate interesting and most of the stances they are taking on a variety of issues are actually very popular with the general public. I’ve seen all of them speak and each does a capable job of communicating values and speaking in broad strokes about policy without getting into wonky details (which can admittedly be boring). It won’t be a drinking game debate but it won’t be dull either.
Posted by: Donna
Since last week’s massacre at a community in Oregon, right wing pundits and GOP Presidential candidates have been out in full force explaining why it happened. Naturally, “too easy availability of guns” does not figure as a cause in these all too frequent heinous acts of violence by wielders of guns in their explanations. Rather, they are attributed, coincidentally, to the very things in modern society that just so happen to provoke conservative ire. Lou Dobbs points to a direct line from decline in school prayer to school shootings. Mike Huckabee blames “sin” (nothing specific but we’ve heard enough of his thoughts on everything from swear words to Beyonce to catch his drift). Bobby Jindal cast a wide net of culpability in a screed on his Presidential campaign site railing against, as you might guess, “cultural decay”:
I’m going to start today by venting, and I will warn you in advance that this is going to be a sermon, but someone needs to speak the truth for a change:
Another week, another mass shooting, another press conference by the President lecturing us on the need for gun control, and now Hillary and Obama are in a race to see which of them can be the most extreme in trying to destroy the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Rinse and repeat.
But there is something missing from this discussion, and it’s a glaring omission that everyone knows deep down, but politicians are afraid to talk about.
I’m going to go ahead and talk about it, and I don’t care at all if some people don’t like it, the truth is important.
What is the root cause of all these evil acts? These people who go into classrooms and churches and murder innocent people? How did we get to this place?
These shootings are a symptom of deep and serious cultural decay in our society…
Followed by a list of evils and debaucheries that “we” are allowing, as if Jindal is implicating everyone, but:
…It’s the old computer axiom – garbage in, garbage out. We fill our culture with garbage, and we reap the result.
If anyone is at all serious about changing any of this, they must address the root problems, and those are cultural decay, the glorification of evil, the devaluation of human life, the breakdown of the family, and specifically the complete abdication of fathers.
Meanwhile, the shallow and simple minded liberals will continue to blame pieces of hardware for the problem, and they will long for the days before firearms were invented.
But the simple truth is, as long as we place no value on human life, as long as we glorify senseless violence and evil, we will get the exact same result.
Yeah, it’s really the fault of liberals (and he’s looking straight at you Hollyweird!), plus basically every Democratic constituency.
Traditional culture warriors like Jindal are not the only denizens of reactionaryism blaming whatever makes them personally seethe with rage for the gun massacres that cannot be blamed on guns. They’re being joined enthusiastically by libertarians and “Men’s Rights Activists” in this indictment. Here’s a handy list of the some culprits:
Obviously we belong at the top. See: Feminism, abortion, slut pills, and the breakdown of the nuclear family through lack of shotgun weddings and the obstinate refusal of many women to tolerate abuse. Conventionally “hot” looking young ladies directly cause “involuntarily celibate” men to go on shooting rampages by selfishly refusing to provide said bitter men with the sex, companionship, and domestic servitude which they’ve been promised they are entitled to by movies and TV. I’m probably only scratching the surface of the myriad ways that women are forcing the hands of would-be mass gun assailants but, since I am one of those treacherous female creatures, you should probably get all the facts straight from the many, many sources available on the internet.
This would seem like it should folded into the “ladies” category, since everyone knows that rearing children is the sole responsibility of mothers but, no, the father of the Oregon shooter had to go and ask outrageous questions, such as why was his son able to get so many guns and whatnot. This led Bobby Jindal (who knows everything about the family by osmosis) to denounce him as an absentee failure of a father who owes us all an apology. They’re not totally down on women, you see. When they remember to, conservatives also have plenty of blame to throw on pansy men who can’t seem to exert proper authority over their wives and children!
Cowardice of people being shot at
Sort of in keeping with their sneering at insufficiently domineering patriarchs, right wingers have shown themselves to be quite unsympathetic to those who find themselves at the wrong end of a firearm. Per Ben Carson:
And on Tuesday, Mr. Carson’s suggestion that he would have fought back in the face of an attack like the one in Roseburg, Ore., went viral, drawing widespread rebuke from his critics and reviving questions about his candidacy.
“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Mr. Carson, who has been surging in recent polls, said on Fox News. “I would say: ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”
See, the problem isn’t guns. It’s your inability to transform instantly into Ray Donovan when a gun is pointed at your head!
A total cesspool of violence* and rappers and Lena Dunham, so obviously a cause of the mass shootings that simply cannot be blamed on guns, ever ever ever.
*Except for good, Godly, righteous violence like that in American Sniper!
Because, of course. Something, something Chicago…
All joking aside, there is a subtext to this that feels invidious beyond the obvious protect-the-gun-industry racket. It’s as if right wingers are treating mass shooters as an inevitable vigilante force dealing us our just desserts for not living exactly as they demand.
Posted by: Donna
Ugh. (Emphasis mine.)
“They both help each other,” [Paul] Johnson said. “The polling was very clear. If they both end up on (the ballot), even through independent efforts, they both help each other.”
More public support may be just what Open Primaries Arizona needs. When Johnson ran a top-two primary measure in 2012, it suffered a landslide defeat. Two-thirds of Arizonans rejected the plan, which garnered only 33 percent of the vote. Johnson’s group is making some changes to the top-two plan, which he said will make it more palatable to voters.
Open Primaries Arizona has commissioned several polls on the top-two primary and other election reforms, including requiring dark money to be disclosed, as other election spending is. Chuck Coughlin of HighGround, which Johnson’s group has retained (!), said polling has shown a lot of support for both ideas.
The link is to an AZ Capitol Times article that is behind a paywall but the gist is that Terry Goddard is considering joining forces with the wealthy political operatives behind Top Two Primaries so as to better the chances of his Dark Money initiative to get on the ballot and pass. Paul Johnson et al are now spinning a tale about how a colossally dumb plan to give Arizona voters two, and only two, options for every general election race is somehow simpatico with mandatory disclosure of campaign contributions. If those things don’t sound remotely related it’s because they aren’t.
Look, I get that Arizona politics can be a chummy club where politicians and consultants regularly make strange bedfellows and that Goddard is deeply committed, for reasons of principle and possibly his legacy, to getting his Dark Money prohibition passed. But Chuck Freaking Coughlin?! Uh, remember 2010? I, and a whole bunch of other people do. Joining forces with a Coughlin-led effort would show an incredible level of forgiveness on Goddard’s part for both SB1070 and his resulting loss in the election that year.
Also tone deafness. Chuck Coughlin. SB1070. Damn.
Posted by: Donna
I went to the salon discussion hosted by Arizona Family Health Partnership on the Colorado birth control experiment Thursday night and I have to say it exceeded my already high expectations of it. It was no elaborate production (though it was held in a nice art gallery), simply AFHP president Brenda Thomas giving a brief introduction of Greta Klingler, who then spoke about leading the effort in Colorado from 2008 to the present to address unplanned pregnancy among young and low-income women by offering them effective forms of birth control control for free. A six year study on the program’s effectiveness determined the results were “startling” in lowering unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.
They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.
“Our demographer came into my office with a chart and said, ‘Greta, look at this, we’ve never seen this before,’ ” said Greta Klingler, the family planning supervisor for the public health department. “The numbers were plummeting.”
Klingler reiterated several of the points in the NYT article I linked to and added several more anecdotes that clarified why certain directions were taken in the experiment. For instance, the participating clinics didn’t just neutrally offer all the various forms of contraception – everything from diaphragms to IUDs – they actively encouraged patients to select LARCs (long acting reverse contraception), such as IUDs, over less effective methods (based on normal use) like the pill. Contrary to the fevered imaginations of anti-choicers, this was not done for the purpose of turning adolescent girls and young women into temporarily infertile sex monsters. Rather, as one physician put it to Klingler, if you knew that a certain hypertension medication was twenty times more effective at controlling the condition than alternatives, why wouldn’t you offer that superior medication to your patient first? LARCs proved to be hugely popular with the study participants and this is believed to be a big factor in driving the remarkable results.
Klingler took questions from the audience and I asked if the program targeted the young or if it was available to all ages (it was the latter) which I followed by asking if they also offered sterilization. They did, and Klingler recounted how a young father of several children was tearfully elated to learn he could get a free vasectomy. That blew me away, since I didn’t even consider (my bad!) that men would be included in the program too.
Klingler explained that Colorado was chosen as the location by the funders of the effort because it is a “purple” state with somewhat similar demographics to the US as a whole. The Governor at the time, Bill Ritter, was a Democrat who opposed abortion but was supportive of family planning otherwise. Klingler described how the success of the program caused a political shift in the state such that Governor Ritter went from being merely accepting of the program to being wildly enthusiastic about it. Even some Republican legislators grew warm to the idea of free contraception and eventually supported the idea of state funding continuing for it after the private funding ended. One very religious and conservative legislator said that it went against everything she believed in but that she could not dispute the data and would therefore be voting yes. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, GOP leadership in the state senate killed the bill.
There was certainly opposition to the idea of dispensing contraception, widely and freely, from the usual quarters all along and Klinger said the clinics were initially sensitive to that and thus adopted a low-key community-based approach to promoting the program. But as the word got out about it and the successes mounted, they grew bolder and more confident about touting how great free birth control is. The public outcry to the GOP refusing to fund the program was strong and Klinger said that other foundations, including ones that would never touched something like this before have stepped up with funds to continue it. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion are also filling in the gaps in getting contraception to as many low-income Coloradans as possible.
When Greta Klinger concluded her talk, Brenda Thomas came back up and told the audience that her organization and others are working to bring something similar to the Colorado program to Arizona. Which Cathi Herrod will not like one little bit. Speaking of terrible people who obsess over punishing poor women for sex, as I drove up Central Avenue on my way home, buoyed by what I’d heard earlier, I stopped at a light behind a nice SUV with a (you guessed it) “STOP PLANNED PARENTHOOD” sticker on it. Sigh.
Few anti-choicers I engage with will admit outright to me that they oppose contraception access. Far more often they will insist that they have no problem with birth control but that they merely “don’t want to pay for it”. This is both a false claim, as evidenced by their many well-documented attempts to block actual contraception access, and an ignorant one, since they are not the only people in the country who pay taxes and insurance premiums.
But leaving that aside, it seems to me that if you are truly disturbed by abortion, and abortion remains legal in this country, that you would be willing to do whatever it took to lower the abortion rate, including using tax dollars to subsidize something that demonstrably reduces the unintended pregnancy and abortion rate among the people most likely to experience them. That would require acting like the conservative Colorado lawmaker who hates the idea of giving out birth control but realizes that the data don’t lie. Or you could continue to dig in and refuse because you’re bothered by the sex aspect of it. Your choice.
I generally hate the expression “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” but it seems to fit here.
Posted by: Donna
If you are a pro-choicer in the Phoenix area still spitting darts over that rage-inducing, cavalcade o’ misogyny Planned Parenthood hearing in Congress on Tuesday, here’s something positive you can enjoy: From the Facebook event page:
Join us for hors d’ouevres, local Arizona wine, and a silent auction featuring a piece by local Cuban artist Nelson Garcia Miranda.
Our guest speaker, Greta Klinger, spearheaded one of the largest research study with long-acting reversible contraceptives, also known as LARC, for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
This six-year study was designed to determine if teenagers and low-income women would use free intrauterine devices and pregnancy-preventing implants if they were offered. According to the New York Times, “They did in a big way, and the results were startling” as “birthrates among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent.”
Ms. Klinger, the Family Planning Supervisor for CDPHE, specifically focuses on LARC, in her effort to increase access to family planning services across Colorado. She also is the primary spokesperson and content expert for the Beforeplay.org campaign, which aims to normalize the conversation around reproductive health for young adults in Colorado.
Suggested donation is $100, or $50 for students, young professionals, and retirees.
Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Francesca’s Art Gallery – 4745 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 85012
Posted by: Donna
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of the last GOP presidential debate was following it on Twitter and seeing feminists I respect declare Carly Fiorina the “winner” and express admiration of her fierceness and command of information (bad information but, whatever, I guess). While I do agree that Fiorina handled the question about Donald Trump’s buffoonish comment about her face deftly, I had to shake my head at tweets by feminist academics lavishing praise on her performance when these same feminist academics would fail a freshman student for dissembling as much as Fiorina did. Being a glib liar, and especially about things that tremendously affect vulnerable women (like Planned Parenthood) is not worthy of anything but contempt. And it’s not remarkable either but some feminists continue to be “enthralled” by Carly Fiorina even as they are (rightly) alarmed about how anti-women many of her stances are.
In an interview, Ms. Ryan said that as a feminist she was of two minds about Mrs. Fiorina’s candidacy, at times drawn to her and at times repulsed by her positions and what many critics say were her exaggerated statements about a Planned Parenthood video. In addition to opposing abortion, Mrs. Fiorina opposes raising the minimum wage, federally mandated paid maternity leave and the Affordable Care Act, policies that disproportionately affect women.
“I am constantly pivoting mentally with her,” Ms. Ryan said, adding that she had not at all been torn about opposing Mrs. Palin or Mrs. Bachmann. Mrs. Fiorina, she said, is “contrary to the conservative female narrative, the way she looks, the way she presents herself, the no-nonsense businesswoman thing.”
In an interview, Ms. Marty, the Cosmopolitan writer, said she had been disappointed by the caution of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign so far and was intrigued by Mrs. Fiorina’s brassy candor and fearlessness. Still, she said that under no circumstance could she ever vote for someone who opposed abortion rights.
Ms. Marty said that for liberal feminists, cheering on Mrs. Fiorina was like eating at McDonald’s. “You know, inherently, it’s not something you should be eating,” she said. “But when there’s nothing else around, it’s what you go and take.”
Personally, I feel as if I’ve been to this rodeo many times before, starting back when I was about ten years old and first became aware of Phyllis Schlafly and her crusade against the Equal Rights Amendment and pretty much every other modern advancement that freed women from dependency on men and marriage. Schlafly, who is now in her nineties, was (and still is) the godmother and embodiment of a shrewd, no-nonsense dame who defied the stereotype of women as weak, while also pushing the idea of most other women being hapless ninnies.
Fiorina is just emulating that same tired shtick, as have many, many other right wing women (oh hi, Ann Coulter!) in Schlafly’s wake. I guess it can be tempting for feminists to admire it and wonder wistfully why prominent women on our side aren’t acting so boldly and fearlessly! That is, until you remember that women (and it’s helpful if they possess considerable advantages and privileges) are given wide latitude to be as aggressive, and downright mean, as they want to be so long as they dedicate themselves to upholding existing power structures while shitting on other women and low-status men. They do so while coopting feminism and generously helping themselves to female-empowering sounding rhetoric (for “deserving” women). It’s a funhouse mirror feminism perpetuated by women taking no real risks to themselves. This is enthralling? Hardly.
It’s not that Fiorina and her counterparts escape sexism (no woman does) but the seeming Faustian bargain they make with it tends to accrue to their personal benefit more often than not. Fiorina’s copious amount of lying and her bad business record are likely to defeat her Presidential aspirations but she won’t be relentlessly tone-policed the way Democratic candidates (both men and women, but especially women) are when they dare to act assertively. I’ll just refresh everyone’s recent memory that Hillary Clinton has been kind of busy lately with pundits haughtily demanding apologies from her over the stupid email controversy because she had the brassy candor to treat it like the ridiculous bullshit it actually was at first. Any similar demands of apologies being made of Fiorina vis a vis her outrageous Planned Parenthood statements? Nope.
Oh, and there’s also the matter of some of the people funding Fiorina’s campaign, who maybe have a vested interest in a “female firebrand” being in the race to attack Clinton. Always follow the fucking money.
Posted by: Donna
At long last, it appears that the Birther conspiracy is enough of an embarrassment to the GOP that they are not only dropping what seemed to be an official position of tacit tolerance, if not encouragement of it. Republicans are now actively distancing themselves from it and the way you can tell for certain they are is they have shifted into full “Democrats do it too!” mode. More specifically, they are accusing one Democrat – none other than Hillary Clinton herself! – of manufacturing the whole thing. I first noticed it on MSNBC’s UP with Steve Kornacki this past weekend, when GOP flack Amy Holmes was quick to raise the accusation when the conversation on the panel turned to the Birther topic. I thought her response was interesting, to say the least, and it turns out that Republicans, including none other than GOP primary front-runner Donald Trump(!), have been pushing this line hard lately, as Dave Weigel explains in the Washington Post.
And more and more conservatives have settled on the Trump line — that the questions about Obama’s citizenship were so slimy that they obviously came from the Clinton camp. “The whole birther thing was started by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008 against Barack Obama,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) confidently told Yahoo News this summer.
The problem: This is simply not true. Clinton’s campaign, one of the most thoroughly dissected in modern history, never raised questions about the future president’s citizenship. The idea that it did is based largely on a series of disconnected actions by supporters of Clinton, mostly in the months between Obama’s reaction to the Jeremiah Wright story and the Democratic National Convention. I know, because I spent/wasted quite a lot of time covering this stuff.
My 2008 recollections of this are hazy, but I recall that there was a rumor that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and smuggled into the United States by his wily radical parents, and that it had been circulated by Hillary Clinton supporters. Despite my being an Obama supporter at the time, it wasn’t something that was of top-of-mind importance to me by any stretch (being as blatantly stupid as it was) and I’m fairly certain I chalked it up as coming from the disgruntled PUMA fringe. It would simply make no sense for the Clinton campaign to make themselves look so pathetically desperate by putting something out there that could easily backfire on them.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose it was the work of the Clinton campaign. Scratch that, let’s propose that Hillary concocted the entire goofy claim herself, and laughed maniacally as she sent the anonymous emails that were going to bring Barack DOWN! So what? What excuse do Republicans have for running with it the way they did from 2009 on? Did Hillary Clinton force then-Arizona Rep. Sam Crump to tweet that President Obama was born in Kenya? Nope. Was the entire GOP caucus in the AZ Lege taking its cues from then-Secretary of State to the Obama administration Hillary Clinton when they passed an embarrassing “Birther Bill” in 2011? Doubtful.
Did Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (no friend of Hillary’s that I’m aware of) team up with the number one Birther in the nation at the time, Donald Trump, to launch a ridiculous “investigation” of the President’s birth certificate because Secretary Clinton was whispering encouragement to do so in their ears? Hardly. Hell, even Mitt Romney couldn’t resist taking a shot at the alleged circumstances of Barack Obama’s birth at a campaign stop in 2012.
So while it is true that the Birther crap originated with people who were at least nominal supporters of Hillary Clinton (and no one is denying that), it is equally true that there has never been a shred of evidence connecting her campaign to it, and it is further true that Republicans have been the ones pushing it the past six years at a level of magnitude roughly consistent with the pie chart I created atop this post. There is simply no way Democrats could be responsible for the impressive feat of convincing a majority of GOP primary voters that President Obama was not an American citizen by early 2011. No, that was a Republican accomplishment.
But “both-sides-are-to-blame”-ism is an insidious force in polite political discourse and right wingers have proven highly adept at harnessing it to dodge blame and neutralize harm to themselves. As Republicans continue to repeat “Hillary done it!”, as sure as you’re alive dimwitted mainstream pundits will follow suit, until it becomes conventional wisdom that “both sides” were equally to blame for Birtherism.