More Rush

Limbaugh’s website has “A Statement from Rush” that has been widely misreported as an apology for his now-famous sliming of Ms. Fluke. The  original piece of schweinerei has to my knowledge attracted a clear, unambiguous condemnation from three (3) Republicans of any note: George Will, Peggy Noonan, and a senator in a tight Massachusetts race.  Eric Cantor, like many others, seems to be under the illusion that Limbaugh has apologized, and that that takes care of the whole affair, so it’s important to clarify. [update 5/III: Adele Stan had an excellent dissection of the apology up yesterday morning]

The statement itself suffers a little from the difficulty Mr. Limbaugh, or some intern who drafted it, has with diction (analogy is like, different from analysis, but hey, the first four letters are enough for anyone who isn’t a pointyheaded pedant, right? And they’re both goddam Greek to me, har har), and a spectacular detachment from facts. First we get some trampling of the grass about absurdity, and “I chose the wrong words….I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”  I guess there are other words for a promiscuous woman and one who sells sex for money than slut and prostitute, but the words are not what needs the apology: he slandered Fluke with the characterization no matter how it was phrased.  At whom did he mean to aim the personal attack? Or did he intend some other kind of attack, or perhaps a kindly avuncular supportive counseling type of interaction and it just came out sort of different?

Completely omitted is any reference to his public appeal for pornography (the sex tapes) and his implicit suggestion that his listeners would like some as well (“…so that we [sic] can watch.”).   Rush is on the air in the morning; is this Clear Channel’s idea of family stuff, or are they just trying to be sure parents have plenty of opportunity to practice their personal responsibility and accountability?

Then we get a lecture about using public funds for recreation, in which he shares his complete ignorance of how insurance works and either (i) misapprehends who pays for the track in the park (or the sidewalks) where students and others run to keep fit, or (ii) forgets to fulminate about how government streets are trashing our personal responsibility and accountability.  He seems to think he “posited” [no, intern, that word doesn’t mean “say”, sigh] that it’s not our business “to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom”; he posited it by, um, asserting to his audience of millions that Georgetown students are having so much sex that they can’t afford contraception. To be fair, he did not say they were having it in bedrooms, so maybe a smart lawyer can get him a pass on that one.

Finally, he makes sure to specify again that his apology is for insulting word choices.

No, he didn’t apologize. He didn’t almost apologize, or sort of apologize but maybe not enough, or apologize inartfully or ineptly: he very explicitly did not apologize for the slander he visited on Fluke and on every woman using contraceptives for any reason. He maybe didn’t deserve to be fired for the first pass, but he certainly leaped across the Mendoza line, and then ran back and did it again, in his followups.

Now, what about armed forces radio: the government has to put out some programming and not all programming, so carrying Rush is a choice. Is this choice improving the morale of women in uniform, and unit cohesion?





Rush Limbaugh

doesn’t know the difference between a slut (promiscuous) and a prostitute (seller of sex services).  Married four times and childless for any of several possible reasons, he thinks birth control pills cost more the more sex you have.  He apparently enjoys pornography, and wants it provided to him by women whose birth control is paid for by insurance.  His idea of political discourse is to slime a young woman, about whom he knows nothing (including her sexual behavior, as though that were anyone’s business in any case), as a slut because she recited facts about how denial of birth control medicine for non-contraceptive use damaged her friend.

Sandra Fluke, who has been radiating unbelievable class through this whole episode, was not a public figure when Rush took his swing, invited to testify before a Congressional panel. I hope there’s a defamation suit cooking with a lot of zeroes in it.

John Boehner managed to force himself to murmur that the Rush’s slime was “inappropriate”, and immediately vitiating even that little demurral by saying in the same sentence that Democrats shouldn’t raise money on the episode.   I’m not aware that any other Republican, of the elected or pundit varieties, has gone on record to separate himself or herself from this turd (who has been doubling down on his first bet ever since). Rush Limbaugh is the ideological and spiritual heart and soul of the Republican Party, a secular pope who brooks and receives no rebuttal or criticism from his completely cowardly adherents.

Sadly, I’m also not aware of any reporters forcing Republicans to take a stand on their leader.  Maybe on the Sunday morning shows…but I’m not getting my hopes up.

There is a move to get advertisers to pull their buys from Limbaugh’s show; good. It would not be out of order also to draw a commercial bead on Clear Channel, a company that uses Limbaugh as a device to sell ears to advertisers.  Along with the advertiser boycott, how about getting as many people as possible to promise Clear Channel that they won’t listen to any of their stations until they clean house?…pass it on.

UPDATE:  On Wolf Blitzer this evening, Rick Santorum will apparently savage Rush unmercifully.  Going all in to raise Boehner, he will come right out and say, on national television, that what Rush said is … wait for it…”absurd”  [update 21:30 PST: it occurred this way]. With this escalation, it’s only a matter of time before Romney has to throw caution to the winds and devastate Limbaugh with regrettable…Double Wow!

UPDATE 2: I gave Romney too much credit; apparently he agrees with Rush but would have phrased the sentiment better, perhaps with a little dog-whistle obbligato.

Sauce for the gander

Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy has introduced a proposal requiring men who ask their doctors for Viagra to sit through a film showing treatment of its most common side effects, including that mythical four-hour erection.  Apparently it’s not a pretty sight.  Her proposed amendment to the Ultrasound Opportunity Act (obviously named by Eric Blair) parallels the Act’s requirement that women go through a medically unnecessary ultrasound before having an abortion.

Rep. Cassidy, a serious and thoughtful legislator, has declined thus far to accept a suggested friendly amendment requiring these same men to have a pointless and un-anesthetized anal probe.   Nor does anyone recommend modifying the proposal to require colonoscopies, because those would actually benefit the men, and therefore not be parallel to a vaginal invasion at all.

As I stood on a street-corner yesterday leading chants of “Birth control is basic health care!” and “Women are not livestock!” (the latter because the ultrasound bill and other Illinois proposals restricting women’s rights have been sent to the reliably and fanatically anti-choice Agriculture Committee), I wondered if I’d somehow fallen through a wormhole and ended up in 1963.  Hell, even Mad Men has gone further than that.

But if the Republicans want to fight the presidential election on this issue, they can bring it on:  Democrats at every level will win in a landslide.


The Virginia ultrasound bill

Yes, the bill would have required the vaginal penetration of every woman seeking a first-trimester abortion in Virginia. And all of the outcry came from liberals and Democrats. That’s what Republicanism, and what pretends to be conservatism and libertarianism, have come to.

Driving to Charlottesville yesterday for a talk at U. Va., I got to listen to a local radio show focused on the ultrasound bill. Turns out that Jon Stewart wasn’t exaggerating.

Here’s the technical scoop, per a professor of OB/GYN: The bill requires an ultrasound before any abortion. For a second-trimester abortion, the fetus is large enough to be seen on a standard “jelly-on-the-belly” external ultrasound, of the kind that’s routine for any pregnancy. But in the first trimester, that sort of ultrasound shows nothing at all. So requiring a technically adequate ultrasound for a first-trimester abortion means using the transvaginal technique: yes, the one opponents keep comparing to rape. Apparently the comparison isn’t out of line: someone who had had one described it as extremely uncomfortable, invasive, and humiliating.

Apparently the dimwit Republican legislator who sponsored the bill – a woman, as it turns out – has said that she didn’t understand what her bill would require of women seeking abortions. The dimwit Governor, hoping for a spot on the Republican national ticket, says that he, too, supported the bill without knowing what it was about.

And no, the bill didn’t have either a rape exemption or a conscience clause for doctors who believe that doing a painful and pointless procedure would violate the Hippocratic Oath. But the right-wing, including some who call themselves libertarian, leaped to its defense anyway, because it was a Red Team effort.

Tyler Cowen, for example, is often interesting and thoughtful. I wonder if he’d regard requiring a proctoscopy for anyone voting Republican – because they ought to feel what it’s like to have Republican policies actually applied to you – would also help create fully informed consumers. I assume he meant to make fun of consumer protection, rather than defending the forced vaginal penetration law, but his comment was the sort of astoundlingly heartless and tasteless remark that even otherwise decent people can find themselves making in the heat of partisan fury. Of course an ultrasound is utterly irrelevant to women whose decision to have an abortion depends on their social circumstances rather than the state of the fetus, so the Virigina bill has absolutely nothing in common with a law requiring that banks disclose the interest rates on credit cards or used-car dealers disclose the defects in the cars they sell.

It appears that Jon Stewart and a bunch of fired-up Virginia women have managed to stop this monstrosity. But the substitute the Governor is pushing to save face would still require the utterly pointless abdominal ultrasound even for very early abortions, where it won’t show anything. But that doesn’t mean it won’t add to the cost of the procedure; of course the bill doesn’t have any provision for paying for the ultrasounds.

Let’s not forget that gross, idiotic, cruel stuff like this is what today’s Republican party is about, that anyone who votes, donates, writes, blogs, or tweets for the Red Team is, will he nill he, contributing to it. In Virginia, it was the Tea Party faction in the legislature that pushed this bill. So can we please, please, never hear again the canard that the Teahadis are in favor of small government?

Nancy Pelosi’s “attack” on Stephen Colbert and his Super PAC is the cleverest marketing the Democrats have done since the 1964 daisy ad linking the Republican Presidential nominee with nuclear war.  Yes, it’s been a long dry spell; but let’s be grateful for this particular bit of rain.  If nothing else it disproves the canard that feminists don’t have a sense of humor.

“All in”

The official Republican position is that any employer should be able to decide that his female employees shouldn’t have health insurance that covers contraception. Is Mitch McConnell on Barack Obama’s payroll?

Hard to believe, but Republicans in both the Senate and the House, backed by Mitch McConnell, plan to push a law that would let any employer assert a conscientious objection to allowing his female employees to regulate their own reproductive apparatus. They’re backing the Catholic pedophile protectors bishops against the Catholic Health Association. The claim that any employer’s prejudices ought to over-ride employees’ health care makes hash of the “religious freedom” argument. And siding with the tiny minority of Americans who disapprove of contraception against the huge majority who approve of it can’t be good politics for November, no matter how helpful it may be in placating the Tea Party crowd.

Remember, this isn’t a case where an employer has to spend money to provide coverage; not providing it costs more.

TPM is right to say that they’re going “all in.” And they’re doing so into a lock.