Nel's New Day

April 5, 2017

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: DDT Defends O’Reilly

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. In keeping with presidents in the past, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) issued a proclamation to honor this event:

“We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated…. “As we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all share the responsibility to reduce and ultimately end sexual violence. As a Nation, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes, including increasing awareness of the problem in our communities, creating systems that protect vulnerable groups, and sharing successful prevention strategies.”

During DDT’s campaign, a 2005 recording shows him bragging about his committing sexual assault in which he said, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p***y.” Eleven women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, and one is currently suing him for defamation after the controversy.

After the sexual-assaulter promised that his administration “will do everything in its power to protect women, children, and men from sexual violence,” DDT defended Fox network host, Bill O’Reilly, after the New York Times’ article about his harassment of women, including the $13 million paid to settle claims to five women. Five days into Sexual Assault Awareness month, DDT declared that O’Reilly is a “good person” and declaimed that “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Advertisers were so disturbed with the revelations, that included information from other women who didn’t sue him, that over fifty companies, including major automobile manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, have dropped their advertising for the O’Reilly show. DDT also said, “Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled.”

As a fan of Fox, DDT gets all his false information from them such as all that wire-tapping that didn’t exist. He is so obsessive about watching the cable that his schedule shows that he doesn’t being any presidential activity until almost 11:00 in the morning. DDT has attended baseball games with O’Reilly and been a regular guest on his show, giving him an interview airing on Fox during its Super Bowl pregame bowl.

DDT brags about referring to the Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, by his first name. Since the presidential election, the two men frequently communicate. In the past, Murdock mentored DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Murdoch’s former wife, Wendi Deng, made DDT’s daughter Ivanka a trustee of the Murdoch children’s fortune until Ivanka dropped out of this role a few months ago.

In saying that he thinks that neither O’Reilly nor Ailes did anything wrong, DDT is probably not lying. He thought that he also did nothing wrong in assaulting women. A 2015 survey found that one in three women have been sexually harassed at work, and 71 percent of them did not report the harassment, partly because powerful men can block their job prospects. Like O’Reilly, DDT denied that he did nothing wrong and would sue women who made claims against him.

Last year DDT defended former Fox CEO Roger Ailes after a number of his female employees reported his sexual harassment.  “I think they are unfounded just based on what I’ve read,” Trump said. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.” Ailes was forced to resign from Fox News just one week after that interview. Julie Roginsky has recently filed another sexual harassment suit against Ailes. The FBI is investigating him and other Fox executives for using corporate funds to pay off the company’s sexual harassment victims. DDT defended Mike Tyson against his 1992 rape charges as well as billionaire whose private jet was nicknamed “The Lolita Express” and Joe Paterno who ignored Jerry Sandusky throughout years of the assistant coach’s sexual abuse of young boys.

O’Reilly has spent two decades at Fox being verbally abuse to female staffers, punishing them for refusing sexual advances, and appearing to masturbate while on the phone with them. Seventeen years ago, producer Andrew Mackris’ sexual harassment lawsuit accused him of describing his sexual fantasies about her and urging her to purchases a vibrator. If she told anyone about this, he said, she would “pay so dearly that [she’d] wish she’d never been born.” Mackris received $9 million by issuing a joint statement with O’Reilly that “no wrongdoing whatsoever” had occurred. She has not worked in television news since then. In 2011 Rebecca Gomez Diamond settled for an undisclosed amount. One of the settlements came because one of the women had recorded telephone calls with O’Reilly.

 

Transcripts from a custody hearing between O’Reilly and his ex-wife in 2014 show that their daughter once saw her father choking her mother and dragging her down the stairs.

In response to the NYT article, O’Reilly played the victim when he said, “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.” His next cover was that he “would do anything to avoid hurting [my children.]” The question might be the identities of “prominent and controversial people” other than DDT.

Last week, DDT “honored” National Autism Day after he spread the falsehoods that vaccines cause “horrible autism” and that there’s a “tremendous increase” in the number of autism cases. After his intense ridicule of journalist Serge Kovaleski, he skipped over honoring Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. DDT has until September 15 to figure out how to work around Hispanic Heritage Month after his racist attacks, including the ones against a Latino judge.

February 23, 2015

Bill O’Reilly Needs to Resign

Filed under: Journalism — trp2011 @ 9:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Brian Williams went down in flames from his NBC anchor position after he was caught claiming that he was almost shot down in a helicopter in Iraq, and Fox network celebrity Bill O’Reilly used the debacle to attack what he describes as liberal media outlets and demanded investigation into its other “distortions.” O’Reilly did say on his show that “we’ve made some mistakes in the past but very few … [and] take great pains to present you with information that can be verified.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly, David Corn and Daniel Schulman followed up on O’Reilly’s dramatic stories about his war reporting and reported in Mother Jones that the conservative program host exaggerated far more than Williams did—even talking about his heroism in a war zone where he never went. He has repeatedly claimed to be a war correspondent during the Falklands war and talked about experiencing combat between the UK and Argentina. “I’ve been there,” he stated. “That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators.” He also bragged about it in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America. 

In a 2003 book, conservative journalist Tucker Carlson wrote about O’Reilly’s answer during a Washington panel discussion when he claimed to be in wars in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and was “almost killed three times.” He repeated this claim in 2008 and 2013, talking about how he saved his photographer after he “got run down” in the Falklands. According to Bob Schieffer, “nobody from CBS got to the Falklands,” which are islands 300 miles off the Argentine shore. The war zone included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, more than 1,400 miles offshore.

O’Reilly did witness a riot in Buenos Aires after the Falkland war but complained that his footage was co-opted and featured Bob Schieffer instead of himself. According to Schieffer, it was common practice for CBS reporters to pool footage, and the segment lasted about a minute. Nothing matched O’Reilly’s dramatic description years later, and media accounts did not report any of the fatalities that O’Reilly now describes. Although two reporters were injured, O’Reilly’s memory by 2009 recalled that all “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”

Retired CBS correspondent Eric Jon Engberg, who was with O’Reilly at the time, remembers Buenos Aires differently. He said that they stayed in a modern hotel and “never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.” Engberg saw no police attacks against demonstrators outside the palace. In addition, Engberg refuted the accusation that “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.” He wrote:

“If [O’Reilly] said such thing it is an absolute lie. Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O’Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”

Engberg reported that O’Reilly ignored orders from CBS Bureau Chief Larry Doyle to avoiding attention and being injured by keeping camera lights off.

“According to Doyle, O’Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn’t turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O’Reilly for violating his instructions on lights.”

In The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly wrote about the civil war in El Salvador when he bravely went into a place of carnage. Yet his account on the report he filed with CBS News, which aired May 20, 1982, opened with a description of how little combat he found in the country: “These days Salvadoran soldiers appear to be doing more singing than fighting.” He reported that government troops were in control of most of the country, and a helicopter ride showed him “no signs of insurgent forces.” O’Reilly’s footage of the village which he described with no living people showed residents walking about and only one or two burned-down structures.

O’Reilly vigorously denounced the Mother Jones report and claimed, “It’s a hit piece. Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.” He said he never claimed to be on the Falkland Islands and called author David Corn a “despicable guttersnipe.” On his show, however, O’Reilly said:

“I missed Moyers in the war zones of El Salvador, the Falklands conflict in Argentina and the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.”

O’Reilly didn’t stop with the “guttersnipe” name-calling but continued with other reporters to call Corn “a liar” and “a left-wing  assassin.” Then he suggested that Corn deserved to be “in the kill zone.”

Mother Jones had offered O’Reilly a full day to respond to his article before it was posted. O’Reilly admitted that he had received the offer but said, “I would never speak to the man about anything at any time. He’s a disgusting piece of garbage.”

Corn responded to the insults:

“To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O’Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he’s made, and hide behind name calling. I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O’Reilly to answer those questions–if not to me, than to anyone else.”

The editors in chief at Mother Jones went farther by expressing concern about the violent nature of O’Reilly calling for Corn to be “in the kill zone” and asking for an apology in a letter to both O’Reilly and one of Fox network’s communications execs.

On February 20, 2015, O’Reilly used his “Talking Points Memo” to address the Mother Jones article. He began by saying:

“Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly … thanks for watching us tonight … more proof the American media is corrupt. That is the subject of this evening’s Talking Points memo. This man … 56-year-old David Corn … who works for the far left magazine … Mother Jones … smeared me, your humble correspondent, yesterday … saying I had fabricated some war reporting. Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America. however … in this Internet age … the defamation they put forth … gets exposure. and so I have to deal with this garbage tonight. I’m sorry.”

In this article, Corn fact-checked O’Reilly’s narrative, point by point.

Other people are angry as well. Thomas Ruyle wrote in Stars and Stripes:

“‘Stolen Valor’ is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.”

This description applies to O’Reilly’s fictionalized account of his experiences during 1981-82. John Soltz, the president of the 400-member VoteVets.org, issued this statement condemning O’Reilly for lying about his war zone experiences.

“NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. The issue, for me, isn’t that Fox has been caught off guard, and didn’t realize O’Reilly was telling possibly false tales. That I can accept. It’s what do they do about it now? That will tell us a lot about how seriously they take their news organization.

“Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong. It makes it seem like anyone can head on over to a war zone. But honestly it is more insulting to the war reporters who never bragged about their war experience, but just kept their head down and did their job. Some of them died doing that job. In my mind, those reporters were heroes.”

After The New York Times printed an article on the controversy, O’Reilly threatened one of the reporters. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” he said.

O’Reilly showed footage from the Buenos Aires demonstrations, still trying to convince people that it vindicated him. Instead of showing people fired on in the streets and killed, the correspondent said that police used guns firing “tear gas and plastic bullets.” After several days of bullying and threatening anyone who disagreed with him, he said, “I want to stop this now.”

O’Reilly constantly talks about personal responsibility and how he loves the military and the veterans. He owes them an apology and a resignation from his post. O’Reilly said that Brian Williams “had to go” because he made up stories about dangers he faced in his reporting career. O’Reilly needs to go, along with his fictionalized biographies about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, George S. Patton, and Jesus.

October 17, 2014

White Privilege in the U.S.

Bill O’Reilly appeared on Jon Stewart this week in an attempt to get people to buy the latest book in his killing series, Killing Patton. The book got short shrift in the discussion, however, as Stewart said all he wanted from O’Reilly was an admission that white privilege exists. O’Reilly denied that it existed and then moved on to say that Asian privilege exists in the country because they make more money than other groups. Then he admitted that slavery and Jim Crow were bad, but “that was then, this was now.” Unfortunately, Stewart didn’t ask O’Reilly about the Jim Crow voting laws passed within the past few years.

Stewart explained that far more blacks are disproportionately arrested and imprisoned for drugs although whites use drugs in far higher numbers. O’Reilly agreed and then said, “America is now a place where if you work hard, get educated and are an honest person, you can succeed.”

o'reilly Stewart said, “You are carrying more of a burden as a black person in this country than a white person in this country.” O’Reilly responded, “Collectively, yes,” O’Reilly responded. “But not –”

“Individually,” Stewart said, completing the thought. “They don’t stop and frisk Wall Street bankers, even though they’ve done far more damage to the economy.” Not letting up on the pressure, Stewart got O’Reilly to admit that white privilege—racism—is “a factor.”

Dialog about “white privilege” came front and center after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO) opened a discussion. As black men tried to explain the problems caused by their color, many white men declared that they had no prejudice and didn’t understand why blacks thought that bigotry existed. The privileged cannot understand the concept of entitlement because the advantages are largely unacknowledged and thus invisible. Peggy McIntosh, a women’s-studies scholar at Wellesley, wrote an amazing essay in the 1980s in which she listed 49 areas of entitlement:

  1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
  2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
  3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
  8. If I want, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
  9. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
  10. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
  11. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
  12. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  13. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
  14. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
  15. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
  16. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
  17. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
  18. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
  19. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  20. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
  21. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  22. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
  23. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
  24. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
  25. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
  26. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
  27. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
  28. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
  29. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
  30. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
  31. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
  32. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
  33. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
  34. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
  35. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
  36. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
  37. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
  38. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
  39. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
  40. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
  41. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
  42. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
  43. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
  44. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
  45. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
  46. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
  47. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
  48. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
  49. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

McIntosh’s list was published over 25 years ago. Two years ago, Ernestine Hayes added to the list.

  1. Beauty, handsomeness, masculinity and femininity are personified by people who do not look like me.
  2. Authority most often rests in people who do not look like me.
  3. My children and grandchildren are taught by white teachers.
  4. People who are not of my culture are acknowledged experts of my culture.
  5. People appropriate my identity and profit from describing their versions of my experience.
  6. My children and grandchildren are likely to drop out of school.
  7. My children and grandchildren are likely to be victims of violence.
  8. My children and grandchildren are likely to suffer from tuberculosis, alcoholism, diabetes, incarceration and poverty.

After the publicity of police brutality since Michael Brown’s killing, I’ll add one more:

I can be stopped by the police without the fear that they will steal my money, beat me up, or kill me.

September 29, 2013

December 24, 2012

The First ‘War on Christmas’

The conservative claim of War on Christmas will end tomorrow—for another nine or ten months when Fox “News” gears up for holidays in 2013. Here are some notable skirmishes from the past couple of weeks, frequently led by Bill O’Reilly.

A few weeks ago, O’Reilly questioned Pastor Robert Jeffress last week about the lack of outrage at this mythical war on the holiday representing the birth of Christ—the same holiday that many people have described as secular. Jeffress blames the religious leaders: “Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians, and that is why we are losing this culture war and I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, ‘I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church, I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.’”

The truth, according to Jeffress, is that Jesus was a fighting man. If he were here, he would pick up his cudgel and force radio stations to play Christmas music. Everyone would be required to say “Merry Christmas,” and every government building would have a Christmas tree.

O’Reilly might want to turn to conservative Christian radio host Matt Barber for help. Barber is ready to go to war. After the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint to stop a Michigan man from putting a nativity scene on public land, Barber said they should be punched “in the mouth.” The 6th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the nativity scene, but Barber is still angry. He told his listeners that they should contact Liberty Counsel’s toll-free number if they find any “religious cleansing.”

“You know, what do you do with a bully?” Barber explained. “If a bully keeps getting his way and intimidating kids on the playground and nobody stands up for themselves then the bully is encouraged and emboldened and continues to bully more and more people. But when a little kid is being bullied and he turns around and punches the bully in the mouth–metaphorically speaking, of course–then the bully is oftentimes proven to be a paper tiger.”

Atheists aren’t the only cause of the war on Christmas. LGBT and pro-choice people are also instigators—according to O’Reilly and his associates. In a discussion with O’Reilly, Bernard McGuirk, producer of Imus in the Morning, said, “The war on Christmas is very, very real, and if you ask me, in addition to some grouchy misanthropic heathen atheists it has to do — at the root of it — with two things — abortion and the gay rights agenda, because Christianity is against those things.”

O’Reilly’s response was emphatic. “Hundred percent agree. I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target, and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda, legalized drugs is in that as well, comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.”

Perhaps O’Reilly should call out his own station for rejecting the word “Christmas” when referring to office parties. In a four-minute segment about how to deal with the upcoming festivities, the hosts referred to “holiday party” experiences twice as many times as to “Christmas party.” Maybe that makes it just a skirmish instead of a war.

bit of information about the holiday. Although the New Testament gives no date for the birth of Jesus Christ, historians and theologians have determined he was born either in the fall or the spring, about the time of Passover. December 25th was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations in the Roman Empire which went from Europe through Asia Minor to the Middle East and Africa. Other cultures—Egyptians, the Norse, Greeks, etc.—celebrated their gods during late December.

Pragmatic Catholics connected December 25th, known by Romans as the birth of the “Sun” to the birth of the “Son.” Then the Catholics appropriated March 25, a pagan feast-day on the Spring Equinox (aka “the birth of Spring”), into the day that Mary conceived Jesus.

The three Wise Men didn’t appear at his birth. They traveled from their own country and arrived a couple of years later when Jesus and his parents were living in a house.

The word “Christmas” derives from fourth-century Roman Catholicism with the “mas” part coming from the Mass, or blasphemous Eucharistic service of western Catholicism. The actual word, Christmas, comes from 1050 AD.

People who choose to follow a literal translation of the Bible should know that its writings are opposed to using trees. Jeremiah 10 states: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.”

The tradition of gifts comes from the requirement of nobility that subjects give presents to them during the Winter Solstice. Saint Nicholas, a Catholic bishop born in 270 AD, promoted the gift-giving ritual when he threw gold into the homes of poor people so that they wouldn’t have to sell their daughters into prostitution.

Druids followed the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe, a medicinal herb, to increase fertility. The white berries represented drops of the Sun God’s semen. Red holly was a symbol of the menstrual blood of Diana, the queen of heaven, and witches used holly wood to make wands.

Maybe these are the reasons that the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas. The first War on Christmas came from the original settlers of New England who objected in the excess of revelry and contended that there is no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’s birth. They understood that the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst. The Puritans forbid merriment and ordered shops to stay open, churches to be closed, and ministers arrested for preaching on December 25.

Between 1659 to 1681, all people who celebrated Christmas in the American colonies were fined five schillings. The War on Christmas lasted until 1870 when the day was declared a federal holiday as a sop to the Southerners who lost the Civil War. Thus following our Founding Fathers, as many conservatives wish, we should not celebrate Christmas. Back to “Happy Holidays.”

Other December celebrations—which is why it’s a good idea to say “Happy Holidays”!

  • Jewish Chanukah
  • Secular Winter Solstice
  • Pagan Yule
  • Buddhist Rohatsu5
  • Baha’i Masa’il and Sharaf
  • Jain Maunajiyara
  • Sikh Gur-purab
  • Zorastrian Ghambar Maidyarem
  • African-American Kwanzaa
  • Kenetic Orthodox The Establishment of the Celestial Cow
  • And sometimes Muslim Ramadan, depending on their calendar.

For now, happy holidays!

December 23, 2012

Exorcism, Pentagrams, Climate Change–Sunday Bits

It’s Sunday again, and there’s so much news! We’ll start with a ray of sunshine. Earlier this month, the Orleans Parish School Board [Louisiana] amended their textbook selection with a caveat:  “No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”

For people not aware of Texas textbooks, the state is such a huge purchaser that publishers often kowtow to that state’s demands—such as “revising” science and history to match what the Tea Party believes. (I almost said “thinks,” but they don’t.)

The pope, who described marriage equality as destroying the very “essence of the human creature,” has given his former butler an early Christmas present. After Pope Benedict XVI visited the jail where Paolo Gabriele was incarcerated following his conviction of aggravated theft in stealing and leaking documents that alleged the Holy See’s corruption, the pope pardoned him. Catholic policy: theft, okay; marriage equality, not okay.

Other parts of Catholic beliefs can be hard to understand. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame thinks that Caroline Kennedy, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about women’s rights, should have had an exorcism for daring to be Catholic and pro-choice. He may have trouble finding a priest to do this. In 2010, the American Catholic bishops met to figure out a way to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. Part of the training is to figure out who really needs an exorcism and who just needs a psychiatrist or pastoral care.

“Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield (IL) who organized the conference. “It’s only used in those cases where the Devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person.” Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized a return to traditional rituals and practices.

Catholics are not alone in their peculiar beliefs. In a “celebration” of 12/12/12, Brent Troy Bartel carved a large pentagram on the back of his 6-year-old son, claiming he do so “because it is a holy day.” Some people saw the date as significant because it appears only once in every century; the pentagram, a five-pointed star, can be connected to Satanism. Bartel didn’t explain what was going through his mind when he did this.

Two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants think that disasters such as Superstorm Sandy means that the end of the world is near, as predicted by the Bible. The survey from Public Religion Research found others who agree: almost 40 percent of everyone in this country believes this. Even over one-third of Catholics and white non-evangelical Protestants agree. According to 15 percent of the people in the survey, the end of time will occur during their lifetimes, and 2 percent think it will be before the end of 2012. (There’s only eight days left!)

Some of the respondents are hedging their bets. Seventy-five percent of non-white Protestants think that the disasters come from both climate change and the evidence of the Bible’s “end time.”

Over 50 percent of the people in the United States voted for Barack Obama, which may jeopardize their claim to be Christians. According to Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, leader of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Density, during a radio interview on 12/12/12, anyone who voted for the president cannot be a Christian. According to its website, BOND is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.”

The fundamentalists who want a literal reading of the Bible—at least the parts that they like—have possibly found a leader in Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. He may not know about the end of the world, but he’s not sure when it was created. First, he said that it could have been 6,000 years ago, but then he changed his mind for a more scientific approach.

Rubio does know, however, that kids should believe their parents over their teachers. Teaching students about evolution if their parents don’t believe it is like the strategy of the Communist Party in Cuba, according to Rubio until he decided that some people might not like this analogy. He backpedaled again: “Of course, I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Letting up on the brakes, he moved back to his other position, saying, “We should do nothing in government that undermines that relationship [between parent and child].” Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Rubio has also talked about how his religious views shaped his policy positions. Homosexuality is a sin, he thinks, but nobody is free from sin. He still opposes marriage equality. Then the science side won out when he said that it has proved that life begins at conception. In his first statement, the one in which he said he couldn’t say anything about how old the planet is because he isn’t a scientist, should have him removed from his position on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

And let us not forget the plethora of religious leaders blaming the recent shooting at Newtown (CT) on those who “take God out of the schools,” the atheists, and the LGBT community.

Notice that there’s nothing about the War on Christmas? That’s a whole blog tomorrow!

December 2, 2012

Christians Deal with Christmas, Demons, Oil

Usually on Sunday when I write about the ignorance of religious folks who want to suppress freedom for everyone else, I’s the one who gets riled. This Sunday, I’m betting that millions of Christians are equally upset with Fox News. Last Wednesday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly insisted that Christianity is not a religion, trying to protect Christmas from American Atheists president David Silverman. O’Reilly also accused the organization of being “fascists” who, O’Reilly claimed, want to banish Christmas from the United States.

After calling Silverman “insane,” O’Reilly finished his oration about religion versus philosophy by saying, “Again if you are stone-cold dumb and don’t understand the difference between an organized church and a philosophy, I cannot help you.” The conservative host added that those who believe Christianity is a religion “are so stupid, it’s painful.”

Christmas trees are a secular symbol, according to O’Reilly. Actually they are  pagan symbols, worshiped before Christianity in Druidic ceremonies and also during the Roman Saturnalia. For a very funny perspective on Christmas and Christianity, check out this blog on Addicting Information.   

Like O’Reilly, Kentucky hates atheism, so much that the state made it illegal. A state homeland security law requires residents to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison. Since the law went into effect in 2006, the state’s Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality.

Because “the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God,” plaques celebrating God’s power must be installed outside the state Homeland Security Building. Law mandates that these plaques state “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.” Tom Riner, a Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state representative, sponsored the law.

Pat Robertson doesn’t believe in separation of church and state although he claims religious exemptions for political activity, and he thinks that people who believe in evolution are atheists, “… contrary to the First Amendment.” But he does think that the world is older than 6,000 years, contrary to The Annals of the World written in 1650 by Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher. Yet 46 percent of pastors insist that Ussher is right. So does Sarah Palin. And probably so does GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, putting Robertson to the left of all these politicians.

Robertson hasn’t said what he thinks about a theory espoused by the Christian magazine Charisma: people are gay because they have sex with demons. Demons have become a popular part of far-right Christianity. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a global network of Charismatic Christian ministries devoted to Dominionism, the idea that they must take over public institutions in order to save America and the world from demons and gays.

Bruce Wilson, who’s reported on the movement for years, said,

“For the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, demon powers, and also divine curses — incurred by human unfaithfulness to God’s plan, are at the root of virtually any and all conceivable misfortunes, from crime trends, drops in the stock market, and declining SAT scores, to headaches and dandruff. I mean that literally.”

Followers of and others with strong relationships to NAR include several presidential candidates and wannabes: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry to name a few. Heads of state in Uganda who want to legalize the murder of LGBT people also belong to NAR. Detroit, the financial markets, and Native Americans are all controlled by demons, according to NAR, as is your own head. Demons are the source of migraine headaches and probably impure thoughts.

For those who wish to help the world and worship God, the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation has a solution: extravagantly waste the Earth’s resources. They claim that there is no global warming and that restricting use of energy hurts the poor. Therefore they proclaim the following—and a lot more: “We call on political leaders to adopt policies that protect human liberty, make energy more affordable, and free the poor to rise out of poverty, while abandoning fruitless, indeed harmful policies to control global temperature.” As the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer said, using fewer fossil fuels is an insult to God.

The final jewel in this Sunday’s sermon is the work that ex-presidential candidate Rick Santorum is doing on Capitol Hill. He and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) are lobbying Senate to reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This human rights treaty was negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. (This might not be “religious,” but it’s certainly “anti-Christian”!)

Both Santorum and Lee have pronounced “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, the blind, those in wheelchairs, etc. “This is a direct assault on us,” Santorum declared. The treaty directs the other signatories to update their laws to closely match the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would extend American values worldwide and guarantee disabled people equal treatment and freedom from torture and exploitation.

Far from being sinister, the treaty has the support of disabilities and veterans groups; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Republican senators such as John McCain (AZ) and John Barrasso (WY); and conservative legal minds such as Boyden Gray and Dick Thornburgh.

Santorum claims that he has 36 senators who will oppose signing the treaty; treaties require a two-thirds vote in the Senate. It is well-known that his daughter, Bella, has a severe birth defect. He even brought Bella to a Senate hearing to show them why they should vote against a treaty that will help people with disabilities.

Santorum justified his opposition by saying that other countries wouldn’t actually enforce the provisions. “It does not provide any moral leadership,” he said. This is the man who fought to lead our country into the medieval ages. ,

 

November 21, 2012

Peace, Economic Security a Little Closer

Today’s Best News:

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire in Gaza after eight days of rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli air strikes left at least 100 Palestinians and three Israelis dead. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to pursue a “comprehensive peace,” suggesting the Obama administration will rekindle two-state peace talks that have been frozen for the past three years over disagreements about Israeli settlements and future borders.

Occupy Wall Street (by now it seems to be Occupy the World) has come up with a great idea: the Rolling Jubilee project. When people can no longer pay their debts, individuals or companies can buy these debts at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect something from the people who owe money. Occupy has decided to buy these debts—and then forgive them. Even Forbes likes the idea. To test the idea, Occupy purchased $14,000 worth of outstanding loans for $500 and then pardoned the debtors. Now they are looking for donations to expand the project. Thus far they have managed to wipe out almost $10 million of debt for less than $50,000.

Occupy used Iceland for their model. After that country’s banks forgave loans equivalent to 13 percent of the GDP, Iceland’s consumer debt, its economy grew at 2.5 percent in this year’s first quarter. The result is expanded consumption, increased wages, improved standard of living, and no economic collapse. The banks’ action eased the debt burdens of over one-fourth of the country’s population.

Contrary to the beliefs of most conservatives, the U.S. “federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II,” according to Matt Yglesias. This year the $1.089 trillion deficit is $200 billion smaller than last year and almost $300 billion smaller than when Barack Obama became president. This is not necessarily good news for economists because such a fast reduction in the deficit could lead to a recession, but learning about it might shut up all those candidates who use the deficit to whip the president. This chart, showing the rise and fall of the deficit over the past 60 years also indicates that Democrats seem to do better than Republicans. It appears that the liberals always have to clean up after conservatives. At least the Republicans shouldn’t be able to destroy the decrease in the deficit during the next four years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last piece of good news for today is that people in the United States may become more educated. There was a time when progressives felt that Fox News had a permanent stranglehold on the country’s population. Study after study showed that people watching Fox were more ignorant of political facts than those who didn’t follow any news, but the number of watchers kept growing. There’s a chance that Fox’s popularity is winding down. During the eight days after President Obama’s re-election, MSNBC’s average audience for the key 25-54 year old demographic drew about 8% more viewers than Fox, according the Nielsen ratings.

Two programs were at the top of the MSNBC lineup. Rachel Maddow won seven of the eight days against her Fox competition, Sean Hannity, beating him by an average 18 percent, and her 544k average was second to only Bill O’Reilly in all of cable news. Lawrence O’Donnell won all eight days against Fox’s Greta Van Susteren with a margin of victory of 17% for the eight days. Hannity, perhaps the most strident partisan host on Fox, frequently invites on his show Dick Morris, the man who loudly claimed the errors of polls indicating the president’s defeating Romney. Van Susteren has a close association with friend and client of her husband, Sarah Palin. The question is whether Fox will become more reasonable to keep an audience or ramp up the rhetoric of hatred and fear.

I’m guessing that the majority of conservatives had no idea how many lies the Republican candidates, led by the master of mendacity Mitt Romney, told them in expensive advertising. If the trend of watching MSNBC continues, the voters in the next election will be more aware of facts rather than Fox pundits’ impassioned attempts to sway the voters’ opinions through the largest collection of lies in any general election campaign since the invention of television.

In the election that seems so long ago but was decided only 15 days in the past, the majority of people voted for Democrats both in Congress and in the presidency. This happened despite the Republicans’ attempt to weed out Democratic voters across the country. Republicans need candidates who can win on their own merits, not through lying to voters and suppressing the votes. Maybe they will learn this.

 

September 9, 2012

The War on Women Continues

What do the Republicans think of women? Here are some fine examples of how little some men treasure the “fairer sex.”

Republican candidate Tom Smith of Pennsylvania, running for the House this fall, told an interviewer that having an unmarried pregnant daughter is the equivalent of having a daughter raped. Paul Ryan, running for the second highest office in the country said that rape and incest are just another “method of contraception.” This is after he refuted Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) explanation of “legitimate rape.”

After Caroline Kennedy spoke at the DNC convention about the new restrictions on women’s rights, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly criticized her speech and said: “I don’t see any women’s rights under assault at all. I don’t see it.” Karl Rove, his guest, claimed, “No one is seriously talking about ending abortion.” Obviously Rove had not read the 2012 GOP platform passed a week earlier.

One GOP goal, stated in their platform and by both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, is defunding Planned Parenthood. Shelby County (TN) did just that: in November 2011, officials took away the $397,000 in state funding for health screenings, STD tests, and birth control and gave it to Christ Community Health Services (CCHS), a religious organization that refuses to provide abortions or refer women to other organization providing them. CCHS does not offer emergency contraception, sometimes called the day-after pill, despite no proof that these cause abortions. They are supposedly trying to create more “crisis pregnancy clinics” that offer “counselors who can discuss adoption and other life-affirming options” with women. Obviously, there is not information about abortion at these clinics.

During the year between July 2011 and June 2012, CCHS failed to use over $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant it received. In early 2012, the health services averaged 51 Title X visits per month, compared with Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011 before they lost the funding. Yvonne Madlock, director of the county health department, justified the drop by how busy CCHS was in its transitioning. At the same time, women’s services dropped 93 percent because the county failed to fund Planned Parenthood.

Trying to keep women pregnant is the goal of Quiverfull, a Christian organization that pushes the idea that women’s purpose on Earth is to conceive and bear sons; i.e., “arrows” for God’s army. Stars of TLC’s 19 and Counting, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are models for this group. Citing several Biblical passages, Mary Price, leader of the organization, explains in her book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality  that sex for women is unnatural and causes men “to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality.”

When single-mother Vyckie Garrison gave up the Quiverfull movement after seven children, she started a blog to explain the problems with what she calls a cult. It goes much farther than just the abuse of women who are encouraged to lose their health in bearing children and provides documentation for the Quivers’ belief that the primary goal of a parent is to subdue the will of their children.

Women’s buy-in to the anti-women movement in the country can be truly horrifying. Fox News co-host Andrea Tantaros said that “no woman should aspire to be” the women’s rights activist and former Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called a slut because she had advocated that birth control be covered by health insurance plans. Tantaros continued, “She claims to be this smart, successful woman and she can’t afford $9 birth control?” When guest co-host Juan Williams defended Fluke because she was a student, Tantaros replied. “She’s a lazy student. She won’t get a job and pay for her own bills.” Fluke was actually testifying on behalf of a lesbian friend who couldn’t afford the oral contraception she needed to prevent ovarian cysts from forming when her university refused to pay for the medication on religious grounds.

Another example comes from Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI) who was initially horrified at Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) classification of rape as “abhorrent, insulting” and “disgusting.” She went so far as to say, “Rape is a rape. I don’t know how you can categorize it, and it’s disgusting that Todd Akin would have tried to categorize it.” That was before the interviewer told her that her own state’s GOP representative, Paul Ryan, had co-sponsored a bill with Akin to categorize some rapes as “forcible.”  She made a 180-degree turn: “Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault.”

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) showed her disdain for raped and battered women when she called them “distractions” that represent only a “small portion” of South Carolina’s population. When vetoing critical funding for programs working to prevent domestic abuse and rape, she said, “It is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”

Another dishonest reaction came from the discussion of the GOP platform language that denies all abortions to all women even in the cases of rape, incest, and the women’s health. Several high-ranking Republicans have denied that the platform states this. Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) called the prevention of abortion a “detail” to be left up to states and Congress. On ABC’s This Week, he said, “The party didn’t make any judgment on that. It’s a general proposition to say we support human life.”

The GOP platform actually endorses a Human Life Amendment “to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to all unborn children.” That means all abortions would be unconstitutional. When McDonnell appeared on the program, Romney stated that there would be exceptions for rape, incest, and the woman’s life. The next week he dropped rape and incest, and now he supports a ban on all abortions.

The icing on the cake comes from Jacqueline Hatch, an Arizona judge appointed by Republican governor Jan Brewer, when she sentenced a police officer who molested a woman in Flagstaff. Robb Gary Evans drove drunk to a bar, showed his badge to avoid paying a cover charge, and then ran his hand up a woman’s skirt over her genitals. Fired from the police force after an internal investigation, Evans was also convicted by a jury of sexual abuse, a felony with a maximum sentence of 30 months in prison. The trial judge gave him probation and 100 hours of community service. Evans is not required to register as a sex offender.

Hatch said she didn’t blame the victim but she did say that bad things can happen in bars. “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said. “I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it. You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.” Hatch said that her mother used to say, “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

Hatch was not the only person who criticized the victim, a Flagstaff professional. Members of the community accused her of ruining the defendant’s life. “These people put their lives on the line every day,” Evan’s former partner said to the judge. “I hope you’ll be lenient on him. To me, this is one way we can give a little back to those in law enforcement who give so much to us everyday.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with the way this case got to be here,” former Flagstaff Police Lt. Randy Weems told the judge.

“When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show in July. “Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect.”

Republicans are now trying to dodge the growing opposition to the GOP’s control of people through banning marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights while creating a greater schism between the wealthy and the rest of the nation’s citizens. Denigrating concerns in this area through such sneering terms as “distraction” and “emotional issues,” they have generated a war against not only half the people in this country but also the poor and the minorities. The angrier the conservatives become, the more they will fail.

March 3, 2012

Limbaugh’s Apology–Too Little, Too Late

Fox: home of the bigots—sexists, racists, homophobes, etc. Now they’re acquired the skills of Pat Buchanan. They haven’t hired him for his own show yet, but in his recent appearance on the Sean Hannity program, Buchanan said, “Sean, you know, a couple of months ago Obama was so low in the polls even the Kenyans were saying he was born in the United States.”

Buchanan will have to work hard to keep up with Rush Limbaugh, already employed by Fox. I was away from my computer for 32 hours and came back to find ten emails with anti-Limbaugh petitions after he called Sandra Fluke a slut for supporting free birth control and accusing her of being a prostitute and soliciting money. Thus far Limbaugh has lost at least six advertisers, so the petitions must be working.

After the firestorm of the past four days, Limbaugh decided to post a weak apology on his website: “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” He weakened his apology further when he said, “I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.” He did add, “I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.” Considering his use of words about Fluke, the question remains about which words he would use if he did intend a “personal attack.”

Fluke gained national visibility last month when a House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), refused to let her testify at the first hearing about insurance companies’ being required to provide free birth control. After photos of the all-male panel of witnesses were made public—and became popular fodder for television comedy shows including Saturday Night Live—Democrats held another hearing which included Fluke’s testimony. Limbaugh started his obscene remarks when he said that Georgetown students are apparently “having so much sex they’re going broke.”

Where are the Republicans when they hear their unofficial leader talk like this? It’s almost funny to watch how hard Republicans work not to criticize Rush Limbaugh. Rick Santorum’s take on the situation is that Limbaugh is “absurd, but that’s you know … an entertainer can be absurd.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) went so far as to call Limbaugh’s comments “inappropriate” but added “as is trying to raise money off the situation,” according to Boehner’s spokesman. The Republicans have spent the last four days trying to spin the Fluke situation as the way that Democrats are making the issue a political one, despite the fact that Limbaugh initiated it.

Limbaugh is not alone in his inexcusable treatment of Fluke. “You [Fluke] want me to give you my hard earned money so you can have sex,” Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox show, but added that insurance should cover Viagra. When O’Reilly claimed that Fluke wants the government pay for her “social life,” he totally ignored the reason behind the 30-year-old law student’s activism. Fluke’s concern came “after her friend developed ovarian cysts and found that the oral contraception she needed to stop the cysts from growing was not covered under the school’s insurance.” And yes, contraception medication, which can be used for other reasons than birth control, can be expensive. Women, however, should be able to use birth control in whatever way they personally deem necessary.

Comments from lesser known conservatives are just as vituperative as those from Limbaugh and O’Reilly. “Sex-Crazed Co-Eds…” are the first words from a column headline by Craig Bannister about Fluke. Rich Lowery followed that in his New York Times column: “By any reasonable standard, we are one of the most lavishly contracepted society in the history of the planet.”

It’s also not just the Republican men who play fast and loose with the “slut” term. The new Communications Director for the California Republican Party, Jennifer Kerns, twittered the following under her username@CAPartyGirl: “Stripper, or strategist? Democrat strategist on MSNBC raging against Limbaugh, her name is supposedly “Krystal Ball.” Speaking of #sluts…” Yes, Ms. Kerns, Krystal Ball is her real name, the one she used when she ran for the House of Representatives in Virginia during the 2010 election. And her name is a problem because?

Last week, Liz Trotta (on Fox—where else?) declared that women in the military should “expect” to be raped and criticized the money spent in dealing with rape in the military: “And the feminists have also directed them, really, to spend a lot of money. They have sexual counselors all over the place, victims’ advocates, sexual response coordinators… So, you have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much.” Since her statement, there has been much dialog about wondering about her assessment of how much rape is “too much.”

Some conservative judges are as openly bigoted as the politicians. Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal district court in Montana, forwarded an email, which he had read and intended to send, that compared President Obama’s conception to bestiality: “A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email “joke” reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” Then Cebull tried to excuse the email as being anti-Obama, not racist. Whether he meant the statement as racist or not, he wrote this about the President of the United States. Eventually he apologized, but only after the information went public. And this is a judge who will make life-and-death decisions about people!

After Limbaugh’s savage attack on Fluke, President Obama made a supportive telephone call to her. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama called her to “express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks” and to thank her for speaking out on an issue of public policy.

Even Georgetown University, a Catholic institution that is opposed to the controversial Obama administration measure, came out in support of Fluke against what they described the “misogynistic” and “vitriolic” discourse. “She [Fluke] was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people,” Georgetown University President John DeGioia said. “One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position–including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels–responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”

Santorum has said that Obama wants to train people in liberal thinking by sending them to college. If Georgetown’s response is “liberal,” then the country will benefit from modeling this behavior. The most effective way to silence people is to verbally attack and try to humiliate them so that they will never speak up again. Fluke has shown great bravery in refusing to be silenced as have the people who defend her.

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