Is Mitt Romney Dumber Than He Looks?

All decent people believe that rape is a particularly horrible crime. But it’s even worse than you think, and here’s why: Other awful crimes pretty much reach their peak of awfulness at the moment they happen. If you are mugged and robbed, that’s likely going to be the worst of it. But that isn’t necessarily true with rape. After the attack, the victim’s situation can just keep getting worse, in new and different ways.

If you file a police complaint, you will probably need to go for an intense rape exam. You will stand on a piece of white paper and carefully remove all of your clothes, which will be retained by the police and examined for hair, fiber, and fluid evidence. While still dealing with the trauma of your attack, you will be photographed naked to preserve evidence of bruises, bite marks, scratches, or bleeding. You will be carefully examined for injuries. You will be swabbed for evidence of another person’s body fluids.

And then the police may not actually use any of this evidence. They may never catch the perp. Despite funds available to local police departments through the Debbie Smith Act, thousands of rape test kits just sit in police evidence lockers, untested. According to FBI statistics, in 2009, there were an estimated 88,097 forcible rapes.

If police do identify a suspect and make an arrest, it’s your life that may wind up under the microscope. And thanks to the efforts of far right-wing anti-women groups and outfits like the “False Rape Society” led by Glenn Sacks, there’s an organized effort to persuade people that sexual assault statistics are overblown and that women tend to lie all the time about being raped. Try as you might, you will not find equivalent groups dedicated to convincing people that murder or burglary stats are overblown or that men tend to lie about being victims of some particular type of crime.

If you are a victim of rape, you may have to answer questions that a victim of a violent mugging certainly would not have to answer. What were you wearing? How much did you have to drink? How many sex partners have you had? Did you have sex with someone else before or after this alleged crime?

And unlike a victim of a mugging or robbery, you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease that will change your life forever. And, despite the idiotic drivel spewed by anti-choice zealots like Rep. Todd Akin, you may also become pregnant. A study published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates that every year, more than 30,000 pregnancies result from rape.

If you’ve been raped and become pregnant, you may discover that you have no choice if the Republicans win in November. Paul Ryan, the GOP Vice Presidential nominee, has made it abundantly clear that he believes there should be no abortions, anywhere, for any reason. Period. Ryan was a co-sponsor, along with Rep. Akin and the majority of Republicans in the House, of the “Let Women Die Act,” which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to give a therapeutic abortion to a woman—even if it was necessary to save her life.

If the Republicans win, they say they would repeal Obamacare on day one, which means that pregnant rape victims wouldn’t be able to count on having health insurance. And pregnant rape victims would probably not be able to buy maternity insurance on the “individual market.” They would, after all, have a pre-existing condition: pregnancy. They would not be able to go Planned Parenthood for pre-natal exams, either, because Republicans plan to defund it.

By the time the child is born, the Republicans, who would have given millionaires some huge tax breaks, will have slashed federal funds for programs like Medicaid, day care, food stamps, and SCHIP, all of which help the disadvantaged and that could help a pregnant rape victim. To put the icing on this cake baked in hell, in many states, the victim’s rapist could file for visitation or even custody of the child.

And now, here we have Mitt Romney, who has Etch-A-Sketched, contorted, and flip-flopped himself 180 degrees on the matter of choice, swearing with each shake of the Etch A Sketch that he will never ever change again. By now, everyone on the planet realizes that Romney has changed on choice so he could charm the Tea Party loons, who now dominate the party. This past weekend, Romney said he was upset that Obama mentions the subject and that the press asks about rape so much. Romney wants us all to stop talking about the issues of rape, abortion, and choice—like that’s going to happen. I guess he really is dumber than he looks.

  • Keith Bowden

    Barry, you make some excellent and legitimate arguments, but you need to dial-down your rhetoric a couple degrees.

  • Mary Irene

    Mr. Nolan’s piece is both dishonest and repugnant. The Protect Life Act sought to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) by allowing health care providers who are opposed to abortion to refuse to perform an abortion. It further sought to amend the PPACA by limiting the government’s ability to compel individuals to fund abortions regardless of the individual’s religious objection to abortion. In a country which does not compel conscientious objectors to bear arms in her defense, or journalists to reveal their sources is it really inoffensive to Mr. Nolan that the government is forcing individuals who believe in the sanctity of all human life to pay for abortions?

    • Barry

      Dear Ms. Irene,
      The “Let Women Die Act”( H.R. 358) would clearly permit someone like a hospital emergency room doctor in rural Kansas – to refuse to perform an abortion on a woman – even if it was necessary to save her life. It would also clearly permit that doctor to refuse to transfer the dying woman to a facility that would perform the procedure. He could stand there and just watch her die.

      Such callous indifference to the life of the mother has long been seen as grotesquely immoral in this country. But it is what Mr. Ryan proposes – and what the Republicans would put in to our Constitution. No exceptions. That is what “no exceptions” means.
      And individuals are compelled on a daily basis to fund actions that we do no morally approve of. The Catholic Church is against the death penalty – and yet Catholics, like everyone else , must pay taxes that support the executioner – and pay for all the machinery of death. My wife is a Quaker. Yet we must pay our taxes to support a war. You absolutely have the right to your opinion – but in my view – neither you nor the government should have the right to compel others to die from a problem pregnancy, bear the child of a rapist -or bear their own sibling from an act of incest – just because that is the outcome you would prefer.

      Barry Nolan

  • Barry

    Dear Keith,

    You may have a point – I appreciate your comment and I admit that my deeply held beliefs do leak thru from time to time.

    But then – the other side does have Fox News and Drudge going 24/7 and half the AM radios in the country are tuned into loud loons – and they’re all making stuff up as fast as they can. It does seems like the times call for people to speak up with a bit of gumption.

    Barry Nolan

    • Keith Bowden

      Barry, I understand your feelings. However, when you start to sound like a left-wing version of a right-wing kook, people start to lose your message. Stick to making your arguments which you usually make very well so we independents will listen to you

  • Frank

    Lets see, he’s a multi degree Harvard grad and multi millionaire.You’re a self immolated local celeb bustout who may or may not have fixation / stalking issues… I’ll stick with Mitt.

    • Barry

      Dear Frank,

      So we’ll mark you down as believing that Mitt is no dumber than he looks. Right?

      Barry Nolan

    • agingcynic

      Bingo. I’m not a big O’Reilly fan but sometimes you go with the lesser of two evils. Every time I want to agree with something Barry says, he behaves like a total jackass and loses me. If he still worked for the government, we would be at war with Canada by now.

  • Tony the Hun

    Is Barry Nolan a bigger buffoon than he projects with his pro-Obama epistles?

    • Barry

      Tony the Hun comes down hard on the view held by most Americans. As of today: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows President Obama attracting support from 47% of voters nationwide, while Mitt Romney earns 44% ”

      By the way, how did things work out for the earlier Huns? As I recall Tacitus indicated they were pretty brutal about their approach to the social safety net- as you seem to prefer.
      Barry Nolan

      • Tony the Hun

        The only poll that matters is the one taken on election day at polling sites.
        My opinion is that Mr. Romney has a death wish. $15+ trillion dollars of debt and upwards of $70 Trillion in unfunded liabilities by the federal government.
        Untold Trillions in local and state unfunded liabilities.
        Bob Dylan had a song for that “A Hard Rain is Going to Fall”
        Goodbye Boston Magazine, Good Bye Barry Nolan.
        BTW Martin Luther(In his censored posting) had you pegged correctly.

  • Martin Luther

    This comment has been removed for violating our commenting policy.

  • Barry

    Martin Luther weighs in with a great example of some of the sentiments held by those in the “pro-life” camp. “The sanctity of life” – as seen through the eyes of the rabid.

  • Bob Fowkes

    Appears to be a data inconsistency, or I’m missing something (always a possibility).

    How can there be ~90,000 rapes per year, from paragraph three, and ~30,000 pregnancies from rape per year, from paragraph six. That ratio defies logic.

    Otherwise, eye-opening article.

    • Barry

      Dear Bob –
      The FBI number is based on the category “forcible rapes” – and is gathered from police reports. There are – rather artificially – other rapes – including but not limited to – statutory rape, date rape, incest, drug and alcohol induced rape etc. There is also a wide spread acknowledgement that many rapes are not reported. Given what the victim must endure – not much of a surprise for that to be the case.

      Barry Nolan

  • Mary

    Well Mary Irene i ask you how its going to help the victim of the assault if we pass legislation that enables health care providers to not provide services to patients that they find morally or ethically repugnant but that are in fact in the very best interests of the patient and her health? Its the patients body and the patients life that is affected here and the ultimate decision should be left to the patient to make with the advice and guidance of her doctor! Mr Nolan ‘s article is both honest and informative and I hope he continues to write on the topic regularly. There is alot of misinformation out there on this subject and this is a crucial issue that women need to know about and understand fully. So that they can make a FULLY Informed choice

  • Moderate

    Barry, I agree with what has been stated about your tone. I’m a moderate, and I support elements of both parties at times. But, despite my more liberal leanings on this issue, I still find your style offensive. I understand you have strong opinions, but this is, frankly, a very alienating way to go about things. You are in a position to inform people who are pro-life about the real consequences of these proposed changes in legislature, potentially things they don’t realize. Not everyone who disagrees with abortion is a “tea party loon” or a crazy right-winger, and many don’t realize the full effects of the proposed ideas of the politicians who, they believe, are simply supporting life. As someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with abortion, while I read this I feel like i’m being attacked for being some sort of anti-women, anti-progress, crazy religious zealot. You’re so well informed and so able to create a compelling argument, it pains me to know that the importance of your message will be lost on the people who need to hear it the most.

    • Barry

      Dear Moderate,

      I very much appreciate your thoughtful advice – and I promise to try to take it to heart. And I will admit that I struggle with just how to properly characterize some of those who seek to influence our national policy in ways that I think could cause great harm to others.

      It is one thing to hold a belief that is at odds with reality as science has shown it to be – like those folks who deny evolution, or climate change, or those who believe in birther-fantasies ginned up in mind of Trump – or those on the far left and far right who believe that 9-11 was an inside job. Those kinds of beliefs – though a matter of real concern – (our educational system is clearly failing us if you can get out of high school believing stuff like that) – are often relatively harmless – and it shouldn’t cause anger as much as sorrow.

      But when some folks who seek to change our fundamental way of life – people who knowingly gin up fear and falsehoods – or thump the bible – or seek to paint all Muslims, Mexicans, Homosexuals, and Scientists as dangerous “others” – who seek to demonize the poor and the ragged and make them less than human – those who would constrain the rights of others embrace torture and deny others the “pursuit of happiness.” They want to change the way you and I are allowed to live. I think that when that happens – it takes it to another level. And I struggle with the proper way to oppose them – with vigor.

      The next time I write – you voice will ring in my minds ear. Thank you.

      Barry Nolan

  • Glenn Sacks

    As is his habit, Barry is sloppy with the facts, citing the “‘False Rape Society’ led by Glenn Sacks.” Actually, I have no connection–much less am I the “leader”–of the False Rape Society.

    However, I do agree with the FRS that false accusations of rape are a problem. I laid out some of the evidence for this in my San Francisco Chronicle debate with NOW’s Terry O’Neill on the subject at

  • Barry

    Dear Mr. Sacks,
    I refer you to:

    Where you find:

    Glenn Sacks is among the most reasonable voices of this entire movement. He may be too moderate for some of you. As shown by the despicable attacks on him in Futrelle’s comments, Glenn is too extreme for Futrelle and his lynch mob. Which tells you all you need to know about Futrelle and his minions. Glenn’s responses illustrate why he is so successful.

    Followed by:
    Archivist said…
    I’m telling you, I just read it again. I smiled — and wished Glenn was still blogging on a regular basis.

    Archivist said…
    …Glenn is also an advocate for an unassailable message

    More recently – you posted a piece on your own blog
    alleging: “Evidence shows that rape accusations in general are often false” while railing against a bill that would have removed the statute of limitations on the crime of aggravated spousal rape.

    You are viewed as a “leader” of the movement by the “False Rape Society.” I do not know with certainty how you are viewed by the 89,000 or so women a year (according to the FBI figures) who are victims of forcible rape– or the victims of date rape or drug and alcohol fueled rape or incest and statutory rape (not included in the FBI figures) – but I bet I could guess.

    Barry Nolan

    • Glenn Sacks

      Again, typical Barry. You make a false statement that I’m the “leader” of the False Rape Society, then when called on it, instead of acting like a professional and fixing your factual error, you cite several quotes from the FRS, none of which indicate that I play any role in the False Rape Society, except that some of their writers apparently like (or liked) some of my newspaper columns.

      You also mischaracterize my newspaper column. Unless you are simply against statutes of limitations on crimes, there’s nothing unreasonable about my position–a reasonable statute of limitations on spousal rape in California previously existed, and I opposed a bill which in part would eliminate that, or in some cases any, statute of limitations.

  • fidelbogen
    • Barry

      Dear Mr. Fidelbogen,

      Yes indeed I did refer to your post as an example of a far right wing anti-women group. On your front-page for instance, you state: “in the feminist universe women cannot do anything wrong because feminism does not hold women morally accountable.” That is utter rubbish. You link to an article titled: “Feminism Spreads Lies Like a Fly Spreads Germs” where you claim that is a slogan you coined in a “flash of inspiration” – and you characterize it as “brutal”. You claim it is a slogan that will make its way into people’s brains and then never leave. I think that – in total and in context – you can reasonably be considered anti-woman,

      And, having spoken to a large number of normal people, I also think that most people would find your views to be both repulsive and pathetic.

      You ask if I would be “willing to address certain questions” that you would pose and then suggest that you are somehow a journalist. Mr. Fidelbogen, I know journalists. Journalists are friends of mine. You sir, are nothing remotely resembling a journalist. And what appears to be your veiled threat to distribute this exchange to your minions around the world, is absolutely fine with me. Have at it.

      Barry Nolan

      • TCM

        Interestingly, while also demonstrating that he does not really know who leads these sites, Barry does not demonstrate how these sites are demonstrably right-wing. Neither The Counter-Feminist nor The False Rape Society advocate for a particular political candidate.

        Furthermore, Barry does not demonstrate how criticizing Feminism equates to criticizing women. Some Feminists are good, some are bad. The ratio of good to bad is often a matter of subjective opinion. Criticizing the bad would actually be a pro-woman stance, given that it would be a token of respect to women to say that manhaters do not represent women in general.

        He takes on none of the arguments from The False Rape Society (now Community of the Wrongly Accused), and presents them as if they are wrong based solely on his say-so. FRS does argue that rape statistics are overexaggerated. But here, Barry can either engage with the arguments of the blog’s author and demonstrate why they are factually incorrect, or he can simply make personal attacks against them. He chooses the latter, and calls it journalism.

        As a moderate liberal who works with advocating equality for men and boys and denounces the misandry on both the right and the left, I don’t find Barry’s reactionary views progressive at all. And as far as the claim of journalism goes:

        “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” – Orwell

        • Barry

          Dear TCM,

          To begin with – if you were to actually read the article posted above – you will see that it says: “thanks to the efforts of far right-wing anti-women groups and outfits like the ‘False Rape Society’” Please notice the use of the conjunction “and” that appears between “far-right and anti-women groups.” The conjunction “and” signifies they are two different things. While it is true that the groups that have attacked efforts to protect women have done so for a variety of reasons – the majority of the groups that have opposed efforts like the Violence Against Women Act come from the far right. But I will take your word for it that the anonymous posters of the False Rape Society and Counter-Feminism do not support or oppose particular candidates. They are still hate group. To support that claim, I direct your attention to the listing of the False Rape Society as a Misogynistic group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization with a long and distinguished record of opposing hate groups. And “The Counter-Feminist” web site does indeed attack all feminsits (approximately 25 percent of the population according to polls). The site has posted such claims as: “Feminism Spreads Lies Like a Fly Spreads Germs.” Linguistics experts have written extensively about the use of such “vermin” metaphors. They are the language of hate groups and in extreme cases – those who encourage genocide. I point you to the language used in Germany in the 1930’s Germany and in Rawanda before the genocide.

          And I do not ask you to believe things based on my “say so.” I offer statistics from the FBI and from peer reviewed research published in professional academic journals – by authors who sign their names to things. I would also suggest you read the material that supports the original VAWA based on a three-year investigation by Congress into the causes and effects of violence against women that led to its passage.

          Of course – on the other hand – we have what you offer – unsigned opinion. And anecdotes. I don’t find your opinions compelling in the least.

          And I am not at all interested in engaging in debate with those who write anonymous hate filled blogs or who send anonymous e-mails. Anonymous postings on the Internet by hate groups have nothing remotely to do with honest “journalism.” Journalists sign their names.

          Barry Nolan

          • TCM

            Please notice the use of the conjunction “and” that appears between “far-right and anti-women groups.”

            My mistake. But here’s the catch: unlike certain “journalists,” I will correct my mistake (see posts by Glenn Sacks).

            “Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization with a long and distinguished record of opposing hate groups.”

            The SPLC also lists websites of pickup artists as hate groups. They also, of course, studiously avoid naming the hatred of Radical Feminists, or the pro-violence rhetoric of the Black Panthers. The SPLC might have done some good work back in the day, but today it’s just another extremist leftwing hack group. Nothing whatsoever to do with principles.

            “They are the language of hate groups and in extreme cases – those who encourage genocide.”

            No men’s activists I have seen have ever encouraged genocide. A number of Feminists, however – including professors Mary Daly and Sally Gearhart – have indeed advocated genocide. And yet, we never see people of your “principled” and so-called “liberal” persuasion opposing them.

            “And I am not at all interested in engaging in debate with those who write anonymous hate filled blogs”

            Lies. You’re really not interested in debating anyone with a different opinion. Like all extremist leftwing hacks, you simply call anything you don’t like “hate” as a means to avoid any real discussion, all the while claiming you believe in liberal principles. You’re not a liberal. Just like all others like you who oppose sexism against women but treat all opposition to sexism against men as “hate speech,” you’re a moral fraud.

            – TCM

  • Jason Peters

    Sorry, Barry, but the False Rape Society link doesn’t say that at all. It’s quite reasonable.