Nel's New Day

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.

September 6, 2012

Democratic Convention 2012 – Day Two, Extraordinary

Topping the first day of the Democratic convention was difficult, but the second day  displayed as much–if not more– electricity with non-stop speakers throughout the evening, capped by a 48-minute speech from former President Bill Clinton.

Many of the convention speakers, in contrast to those at the GOP convention last week, have been non-politicians. For example, three workers from Bain-controlled companies talked about problems of Mitt Romney’s leadership. Randy Johnson began by describing how Bain bought his company in 1994 and fired hundreds of employees without any warning. “They rushed in security guards to walk us out of our plant. We weren’t even allowed to take our personal items.”

Cindy Hewitt, a worker at Dade Behring, told how Bain drop her company, an important part of the community, was driven into bankruptcy, destroying 850 jobs.

David Foster, worker at a steel mill said, “When Romney and Bain took over the mill, they loaded it up with millions in debt, and within months, they used some of that borrowed money to pay themselves millions. Within a decade, the debt kept growing and was so large the company was forced into bankruptcy. They fired 750 steelworkers while they pocketed $12 million in profit. A steelworker at GST Steel would have had to work 240 years to make $12 million.”

Sister Simone Campbell, who led the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for social justice this past summer, used her seven-minute speech to decry Paul Ryan’s budget: “Paul Ryan claims this budget reflects the principles of our shared faith. But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty.”

Sandra Fluke, the activist who has fought for contraception from insurance companies and called a slut and worse by Rush Limbaugh, talked about the alternate futures, depending on who is elected as president. ”Six months from now, we’ll all be living in one or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back or turns his back; a country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward, or one that forces our generation to re-fight the battles they already won; a country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) said, “My friend Paul Ryan talks about fiscal responsibility but voted to put two wars on a credit card. He voted to spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He voted for a prescription drug benefit with no plan to pay for it. He abandoned the bipartisan principle that we must pay for what we buy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) said that a vote for Democrats in the November election is a vote to preserve Medicare and Social Security and a vote in favor of women.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s claims that President Barack Obama is weak on Israel make “no sense” and are “ludicrous.” Earlier in the day when during an MSNBC interview, she said, “I think we do not know what Gov. Romney’s position on national security is, frankly. He has advisers that are some neocons, some of the people that brought you the previous policies under the [President George W.] Bush administration and he barely talked about foreign policy in his speech.”

Elizabeth Warren, who founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, talked about how “the [financial] system is rigged” but that President Obama is working to give everyone a chance at a “level playing field.” She described the GOP approach to governing in this statement:  “I’ve got mine; the rest of you are on your own.” Aiming at the GOP, Warren said, “Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do! They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said, ‘Corporations are people.’” She finished her speech by quoting the Bible: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”–Matthew 25:40.

Bill Clinton was the highlight of the evening when he shredded all the arguments from the GOP convention speakers about President Obama’s four years. “He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long, hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for the innovators.”

In answer to the objections that life is not better under this president, Clinton said, “Are we where we want to be? No. Is the president satisfied? Of course not. But are we better off than we were when he took office with an economy in free-fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? The answer is yes.” He continued, “President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did,” he said. “No president–not me or any of my predecessors–could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the president’s contract you will feel it.”

Andrea Mitchell said, “As a political document, this speech was extraordinary,” providing an “explanation of all of the policy points.” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who managed GOP nominee John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said, “I wish to God, as a Republican, we had someone on our side who had the ability to do [what Clinton did tonight].”

Blogger Michael Hayne said, “In short, the 42nd President of the United States beautifully encapsulated how Obama has consistently extended the olive branch to Republicans and they have proudly taken that branch, ripped it up into a million pieces, stomped it into the sand and buried their heads with it so that the economic worsened and they could easily say ‘vote Republican’ in 2012.”

Unlike Paul Ryan’s and Mitt Romney’s speeches in Tampa, Clinton’s speech was on policy and gave specifics in amazing detail, so much that there isn’t enough room for it here. Even more amazing, no matter how much and USA Today scoured the multitude of facts that Clinton provided in his speech, the two organizations could not find anything false. This is far different from their investigation of Ryan’s and Romney’s speeches when they had trouble finding anything true.

Asides: The reading level for Michelle Obama’s speech was Grade 12; Ann Romney’s speech was seven grades below. [Note: Is this what each person thinks of her political party’s education?]

Clinton said, “Though I often disagree with Republicans,” he said, “I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats.” Ann Coulter’s tweets show how vicious the far right is:

“Bill Clinton just impregnated Sandra Fluke backstage…”

“To get Bill Clinton to speak at the convention, Obama had to agree to carry his bags.”

In another hateful spate, Rush Limbaugh claimed that President Obama isn’t actually black because he lacks any slave ancestry. Not that it matters, but one of the president’s ancestors is the first documented slave, John Punch, according the The New York Times. 

The ADP National Jobs Report reported the addition of 201,000 private-sector jobs in the month of August, almost 50 percent more than the estimated increase of 140,000 jobs. It also revises the number of jobs added in July up to 173,000 from 163,000. In addition, the Department of Labor’s weekly report today showed the number of new claims for state unemployment benefits had fallen by 12,000 when Wall Street had expected only 1,000.

Things are looking better!

March 7, 2012

Limbaugh Flap Continues

The Republicans are beginning to figure out that the birth control issue will be huge in the fall election, especially after Rush Limbaugh’s vile comments about a Georgetown University law student. Even one senator who won’t run for election for another four years had second thoughts about voting yes on the Blunt Amendment, the one that said employers and insurance companies don’t need to provide insurance for anything based on personal reasons. With this bill becoming law, owners who are faith healers could tell their waitpeople or hotel maids or retail clerks that they cannot have any insurance but should instead go to the church’s faith healer.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) won her election almost two years ago, despite a Tea Party member running as the Republican candidate and Murkowski running as a write-in. The state even demanded that her name be spelled correctly for the votes to count. With her opposition either far right or Democrat, Murkowski picked up moderate votes, many of them women.

Julia O’Malley of The News Tribune (Anchorage) recently interviewed Murkowski. “She supports abortion rights and contraception coverage. She also doesn’t line up completely with the Catholic Church when it comes to birth control. She regretted her recent vote,” O’Malley wrote.

Yet Murkowski ignored the women who voted for her, the ones who believed they should receive free birth control. Instead the senator voted yes to allow employers and insurance companies to remove insurance coverage for hormone treatment. She claimed that she was supporting religious freedom, which is what everyone says in opposing birth control for women, but she told O’Malley that she would not have voted for the amendment if she could re-vote. “I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” Murkowski said.

During her campaign, people handed out plastic bracelets with Murkowski written on them so that voters would know how to spell it right. Wearing a gold bracelet hat looks like those plastic ones, the senator said, “I got there [the Senate] because Alaskans took a little bit of risk on me.” O’Malley wonders now if the senator will take risks for the people of Alaska or just apologize for her votes.

Murkowski was concerned about the political ramifications of the Blunt amendment. “The wind had shifted, and Republicans didn’t have enough sense to get off of it,” she said. Like other Republicans, Murkowski worries about the public taking note about the fact that her party is on the wrong side of the birth control issue. She also takes issue with her colleagues in tippy-toeing around Rush Limbaugh’s recent bullying of Sandra Fluke. Murkowski declared his recent remarks “incendiary” and called on political leaders in her party to join her in openly criticizing Limbaugh.

“The comments made by Limbaugh, I was just stunned,” she added. “In the end, I’m a little bit disappointed that there hasn’t been greater condemnation of his words by people in leadership positions.” Including Republicans? “Everybody,” she responded. “What he said was just wrong. Just wrong.”

Instead of dealing up front with Limbaugh, Republicans are backing off on the entire birth control issue. “I think the Senate already took action and we’ve got a lot else on our plate,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is running for Senate. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said through his spokesman that it was up to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton to determine when the legislation would move forward. This statement contradicts an earlier declaration that declared full steam ahead on the anti-contraception bill. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s anti-contraceptive bill has been around for several months and may languish for several more until it just dissipates.

The Republican leadership has been unbelievably weak in addressing his unpardonable behavior. In his column, Eugene Robinson said it best: “So let’s get this straight: These guys [Republican presidential candidates] want us to believe they’re ready to face down Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Un, the Taliban, and what’s left of al-Qaeda. Yet they’re so scared of a talk-radio buffoon that they ignore or excuse an eruption of venom that some of Limbaugh’s advertisers … find inexcusable.”

Even conservative pundits recognize how pathetic the Republican leadership has been since the Limbaugh diatribe against Fluke. George Will told George Stephanopoulos, “The Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

Memories are short, and the general election is eight months away. This issue, however, may not disappear in time to save the conservatives.

March 5, 2012

Limbaugh Just Doesn’t Go Away

Why hasn’t the Rush Limbaugh story begun to die? According to media, he apologized on Saturday, and the Republicans are doing their best to avoid the topic. According to Limbaugh and Fox, it’s just the far-left media that have kept the story alive. He’s wrong.

First, his apology wasn’t really an admission of guilt or a request for forgiveness. All he said was that he should have chosen better words than “slut” and “prostitute.” There was nothing about how he should not have attacked Sandra Fluke or that he spoke inappropriately when he said that wanting free birth control was trying to get paid to have sex. (I just heard a TV ad for Viagra which promised the ability of men having sex for several hours: that’s getting paid to have sex.) Then Limbaugh said he had made a mistake by sinking to the level of his opposition.

Unhappy about the way that he has lost advertising (12 companies thus far including AOL) and networks airing his radio program (at least two so far), Limbaugh has taken a different tack.He said that Fluke might not be a slut, but she’s the pawn of a radical leftist conspiracy to infiltrate Georgetown to force the school to provide birth control coverage to students. Limbaugh may not understand that he is losing, that a new Harris poll showed him to be the least liked “news personality” on a list of 26. He’s the only one who made the bottom percentages with all three political groups—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. In fact, Republicans like him less than the other two groups do.

Since Limbaugh felt free to attack women for their medications, whether for contraception or medical conditions, young women across the nation are forced to bear the brunt of his bigotry. One mother wrote about her 16-year-old daughter’s being called a slut, a prostitute, a horny piece of trash that is out to sleep with every guy in school. According to the mother, the harassers told her daughter that their mothers labeled her with these terms; they were just “telling it like it is, you know, like that guy on the radio! The one who isn’t afraid to tell the truth!” In one of the daughter’s classes, the teacher praised Limbaugh.

The daughter is one of many women who take hormones for medical reasons other than birth control. But it doesn’t matter whether she took it for contraception or another medical issue.

Republican David Frum refuted the far-rights complaints about double standards in the media:

Point 1: Even by the rough standards of cable/talk radio/digital talk, Limbaugh’s verbal abuse of Sandra Fluke set a new kind of low. I can’t recall anything as brutal, ugly and deliberate ever being said by such a prominent person and so emphatically repeated. This was not a case of a bad “word choice.”

Point 2: The cases that conservatives cite as somehow equivalent to Limbaugh’s tirade against Fluke by and large did bring consequences for their authors. David Letterman delivered an abject seven-minute apology on air; Ed Schultz apologized on air before MSNBC suspended him for a week without pay.

Point 3: Limbaugh’s place in American public life is in no way comparable to that of David Letterman, Bill Maher, or Ed Schultz. Letterman is not a political figure at all; and while Maher and Schultz strongly identify as liberals, neither qualifies as anything like a powerbroker in the Democratic Party. A word of criticism from Limbaugh, by contrast, will reduce almost any member of the Republican caucus to abject groveling. Among TV and radio talkers and entertainers, there is none who commands anything like the deference that Limbaugh commands from Republicans: not Rachel Maddow, not Jon Stewart, not Michael Moore, not Keith Olbermann at his zenith. Democratic politicians may wish for favorable comment from their talkers, but they are not terrified of negative comment from them in the way that Republican politicians live in fear of a negative word from Limbaugh.

Point 4: Most fundamentally, why the impulse to counter one outrageous stunt by rummaging through the archives in search of some supposedly offsetting outrageous stunt? Why not respond to an indecent act on its own terms, and then–if there’s another indecency later–react to that too, and on its own terms? This latest Limbaugh outburst is the bottom of the barrel of shock talk. And the good news is that from the bottom of the barrel, there is nowhere to go but up.

In a Huffington Post column, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote about the connection between birth control and women’s health. “Birth control protects women from the risk of bearing children before they are ready. Birth control helps to ensure that women do not bear too many children or bear children too soon after their last pregnancy. Birth control is used to relieve symptoms of endometriosis, regulate a cycle, reduce acne, relieve symptoms of depression, reduce migraines, treat polycystic ovary condition, alleviate anemia, and even reduce the risk of some cancers.”

For the people who complain about insurance companies having to pay out all that extra money, Maloney pointed out that employers may save money to provide employees with no co-pay coverage of birth control because it results in fewer unwanted and/or potentially harmful pregnancies preventing huge long-term costs of care related to problem pregnancies and pre-mature births.

Another complaint from anti-birth control people is the use of their taxes for contraceptives because they don’t believe in it. As Maloney says, one of the privileges of living in this society is the use of tax dollars for activities that tax payers don’t support. She uses the example of the death penalty. I would use the example of over $1 trillion for a war that I find inexcusable. My tax dollars went to George W. Bush’s war rather than saving people in this country; others can have their tax dollars used for women’s reproductive rights.

In these difficult economic times, Republicans are exploring women’s bodies to an extent never before seen. Republicans in at least 18 states are pushing bills or ballot initiatives to define “personhood” that would illegalize commonly used forms of birth control. Republicans in seven states have filed lawsuits attacking the provisions in the health care reform act that give women access to contraceptives. Nationally Republicans have introduced legislation in both the House and Senate to outlaw many forms of commonly used contraceptives. House Republicans have voted to strip Planned Parenthood of any federal funding to keep poor women from obtaining reproductive health care and contraceptives. Senate Republicans brought legislation to the floor to allow any employer, including for-profit private sector companies, to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives if doing so is contrary to their religious beliefs or “moral convictions.”

Nebraska is proposing a “conscience clause” designed to not only give all health care providers the right to refuse any action based on personal religious beliefs but also allow these providers the right to refuse the request to any other medical professional even in a medical emergency. In Idaho a pharmacist refused to fill a woman’s prescription for a drug meant to stop hemorrhaging, but the patient was able to take the prescription elsewhere. If Nebraska passes this “conscience clause,” the woman could bleed to death, and the pharmacist would be exonerated from any blame. And if Nebraska passes this law, other states will follow them.

Religious groups are determined to impose their own religious views on those who may not share their beliefs and to limit a woman’s access to reproductive health care and contraception. While people are seething with outrage over Limbaugh’s statements or trying to figure out a way to protect him, there are important questions to be asked in relationship to the religious views being forced on people in this country. Does the conservative government have the right to legislate its view of promiscuity, to decide how much sex is “too much,” to stop contraception from being a “sex enabler,” to create consequences for women having sex,” and to state that pregnancy prevention is not a legitimate medical need”?

March is Women’s History Month. Women need to fight this horrific encroachment on our rights. In protest to an Oklahoma “personhood” bill, passed by the Senate and now being addressed by the House, Democratic State Sen. Judy McIntyre, one of only four women in the 48-member Senate, carried a sign that stated, “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d [bleep] a senator.” McIntyre is right. Government needs to get out of our vaginas.

We need to thank the following advertisers who think that Rush Limbaugh has gone too far to sponsor: Sleep Number Beds, The Sleep Train, Legal Zoom, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems/GoToMeeting, ProFlowers, Tax Resolution Services, AOL, Carbonite, Bonobos, Sears/Kmart, and Allstate. Tractor maker John Deere, solar panel maker Verengo Solar, and postage website have also reported that they would no longer advertise. Hawaii radio station KPUA, dropped Limbaugh’s show because it “crossed the line of decency,” and another radio station in Pittsfield (MA) plans to no long air Limbaugh’s show.

In the meantime, women of Missouri, contact your House Speaker Steven Tilley, who has commissioned a bust of Rush Limbaugh—paid for with your tax-payer dollars—to be placed in the state capitol.

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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