On February 16, 2012, Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on infringement of religious liberty and contraceptive mandates. Fluke was submitted as a witness by Democratic members, but Issa denied her testimony, stating her name was submitted too late. The hearing was widely criticized for having no women witnesses to speak on an issue of contraception.
The papers ran pictures of a group of religious leaders, all men, weighing in on this topic. Just imagine, not a single female witness. As the blogger D. A. Wolf so astutely pointed out with homonymous humor: "[It was] a (w)holy masculine audience." Sandra Fluke was later invited to testify on February 23 for House Democratic members.
In her testimony, she argued in favor of requiring private insurance companies to cover contraception. She claimed that over the three years as a law student, birth control would cost an estimated $3,000. She continued that the lack of coverage would force many low income women to go without contraception and that women's free health clinics cannot meet the need. She then discussed the consequence of such policies, including a friend with polycystic ovary syndrome being forced to go without birth control pills, resulting in a cyst developing on her ovaries. According to Fluke, her friend was denied coverage, even with a verified condition from her doctor, and this is not a rare event for women with medical conditions. She then stated that she wanted equal treatment for women's health issues and did not see the issue as being against the Catholic Church.
On February 29, all hell broke loose when Rush Limbaugh, defender of the faith, champion of the moral Conservative, took to the airwaves and went after Sandra Fluke with a figurative pickaxe.
What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.
Can you imagine if you're her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.
On March 1, Limbaugh continued:
[Fluke is] having so much sex, it's amazing she can still walk.
So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
On March 2, Limbaugh added:
[Limbaugh offered what he said was a "compromise" to contraception coverage: purchasing] all the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as possible.
On March 3, 2012 Limbaugh defended his previous comments about Fluke and complained that "not one person says that, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?". Limbaugh said that requiring insurance companies to cover contraception is "no different than if somebody knocked on my door that I don't know and said, 'You know what? I'm out of money. I can't afford birth-control pills, and I'm supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.' " On her parents being proud of her he said, "I'm gonna button my lip on that one." He went on to say that if his daughter had testified that "she's having so much sex she can't pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it," he'd be "embarrassed" and "disconnect the phone," "go into hiding," and "hope the media didn't find me." He continued later, "Oh! Does she have more boyfriends? They're lined up around the block. They would have been in my day." He continued that Fluke testified that her "sex life is active. She's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth-control pills that she needs. That's what she's saying."
My Initial Reaction
Have I picked my jaw up off the floor yet? Where to begin? This is the type of talk I'd expect to hear from a redneck male chauvinist pig who's had one too many beers on a Saturday night. But considering the absolutely death-defying leaps of logic and lack of fundamental knowledge about the world spewing from the mouths of the GOP candidates vying for the position of Republican representative to run against the Democratic Obama in the 2012 elections, I think I'm no longer surprised by anything. As I commented elsewhere when this story first broke:
Rush Limbaugh is a caricature of everything one could possibly hate in an American male: right wing, religious fundamentalist, Republican, sexist, misogynist. In a nutshell, he is a doofus. Admittedly, if he didn't have such an audience, he would be laughable but the fact he does have an audience says a lot about the number of people in the U.S. like him and that's not funny.
This gentleman, and I use the term very loosely, is an anal orifice. No maybe I can punch that one up a notch by saying he's a hemorrhoid on America's anus. Yes, that's better. Rush exists much in the same way MRA's exist. They are in the minority (thank God) but still represent a vocal group with some influence in the circles of power. Consequently we all must continue to fight the good fight for fear the dips**ts get into power. Can anybody say, "Rick Santorum"? (Wikipedia: Campaign for "santorum" neologism)
Freedom of Religion
I imagine that everyone would start by saying they were for this freedom. But at one point does anybody step in if they disagree with the religion in question? In the late 1800's, the U.S. government entered into a conflict with Utah over the practice of polygamy. (Wikipedia: Mormons: Pioneer era) In 1993, the ATF laid siege to the Branch Davidian ranch at Waco, Texas. (Wikipedia: Waco siege) Do Christian Scientists and other like religions have the right to decline medical treatment for themselves or their children? (Wikipedia: Christian Science: Medical controversies)
The above examples may seem far from the mainstream. Some may consider, for example David Koresh of the Waco siege to be quite simply a nutbar. However, what about the mainstream? What about us?
The Roman Catholic Church has been mixed up in questionable practices over the years: the Medieval Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades. But that was then and this is now. But, but, but what about now? Who's going to be the first to utter the word pedophilia?
In my 2010 posting "Abortion: If we make it illegal, the problem will go away", I wrote:
My wife and I watched a news item on television last night which stated that every year 25,000 women die from unsafe abortions in Africa and 1.7 million are injured. Due to the restrictive laws governing abortions in almost all African countries, virtually all of the 5.6 million abortions performed annually in Africa are unsafe. Apparently only about 100,000 of them are performed by trained professionals in a safe environment. The news item went on the cover various religious groups in these African countries who are lobbying to keep abortions illegal and one minister who was interviewed proudly said that he has having a big impact in maintaining laws which make abortions illegal.
I then went on to report:
In March 2009, the Pope visited Africa and during his trip he reaffirmed the church's ban on the use of condoms. Never mind talking about pregnancy, the numbers related to AIDS were staggering. At that moment, 22 million people were infected with HIV in Africa; there were 11.4 orphans because of AIDS; 1.5 million had died of AIDS in Africa in 2007 and 25 million had died in the past 20 years.
Polygamy. Waco, Texas. Denial of medical treatment. Each of these three cases are small, far from the mainstream and easily dismissible when we all get caught up in the more pressing issues of modern times. However are we fully cognizant of the issues, the truly important issues going on right now under our noses which may require our intervention, our collective intervention that is our government's intervention in what may be abhorrent on a cataclysmic level?
In my posting "Abortion: Rick Perry and Sex Education: Abstinence works!", I pointed out the glaring hole in the arguments presented by religious groups. If we all drove safely, there would be no need for safety belts and there would be no accidents. 33,808 people died in traffic accidents in the United States in 2009. If we all abstained from having sex, there would be no unwanted pregnancies, no abortions and no worries about STDs and AIDS. There are 33 million on the planet currently living with HIV with 1.8 million dying from AIDS annually. In the United States, 18,000 people die each year from AIDS. The CDC reports for 2009 more than 1.2 million cases of chlamydia, 301,174 reported cases of gonorrhea and 13,997 reported cases of syphilis. CDC estimates that undiagnosed and untreated STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the U.S. each year to become infertile. 827,609 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC in 2007 although the Guttmacher Institute reports 1.2 million in 2008. (CDC reporting is voluntary while the institute actively gets the numbers.) Statistics Canada reports 96,815 induced abortions were performed in Canada in 2005.
In my posting "Planned Parenthood: addicting children to sex!!!", I describe how the pro-life organisation American Life League views sex as only for procreation and anything which interferes with procreation such as condoms, birth control, IUDs, etc. is verboten. They have put Planned Parenthood in their sights as enemy number one in their campaign to bring their vision of a moral America back to Americans everywhere.
Government Mandated Health Coverage
Myth: The United States has the best health care in the world. Fact: The U.S. has among the worst health statistics of all rich nations.
Wikipedia: Health care in the United States: Overall system effectiveness compared to other countries
- The CIA World Factbook ranked the United States 41st in the world for infant mortality rate and 46th for total life expectancy.
- The U.S. stands 50th in the world for a life expectancy of 78.37.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000 ranked the U.S. health care system first in responsiveness, but 37th in overall performance and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 45.7 million Americans (15.3% of the total population) had no health insurance coverage in 2007.
The U.S. does not have the best health care system in the world - it has the best emergency care system in the world. Advanced U.S. medical technology has not translated into better health statistics for its citizens; indeed, the U.S. ranks near the bottom in list after list of international comparisons. Part of the problem is that there is more profit in a pound of cure than an ounce of prevention. Another part of the problem is that America has the highest level of poverty and income inequality among all rich nations, and poverty affects one's health much more than the limited ministrations of a formal health care system.
The Examiner - Aug 3/2009
The United States does not have the best health care system in the world by Karen Harper
In fact, it's not even close to being the best health care system in the world. Republicans have fought President Obama on every bill he has worked on and health care reform is no exception. Senator Richard Shelby (R), Alabama, said that President Obama's health care plan is the "first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known." Senator Chuck Grassley (R), Iowa, told a constituent in a town hall meeting that if he wanted health insurance to get a job with the government. Perhaps Grassley would like the government to provide 47 million jobs to solve the problem of the uninsured in America.
There are several important aspects about the United States health care system that make it one of the worst of all the industrialized nations.
The truth is that Americans pay more for health care than any other country in the world.
2. Quality of Health
The United States ranks only 27th in life expectancy of 189 countries. Of the 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations, the United States ranks only 22nd in life expectancy.
3. Not covering the uninsured makes things worse
The uninsured, approximately 47 million, go to emergency rooms. The "health system" does provide free emergency services however providing services in an emergency room, especially for more minor ailments is expensive, much more expensive than the normal treatments associated with a family doctor. As a consequence, by not providing health insurance to the uninsured, the system bears a greater financial burden.
Government Mandated Health Coverage = Socialism!!!
Government Mandated Health Coverage = Why support those deadbeats who can't pay?
Government Mandated Health Coverage = More government regulation!
Socialism? What happened to helping your fellow human being? Deadbeats? Yes, there are some deadbeats but don't tar and feather everybody who may not be as lucky as you. Government regulation? The 2008 financial crisis was caused by a lack of government regulation. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by a lack of government regulation. Shall I go on? The government in its wisdom has concluded we should all drive 60 mph. The government isn't telling us where we can go, it is saying it's just safer if we get there no faster than 60. That's government regulation making our lives better.
The American Life League, one of the largest pro-life organisations in the United States, states their view of sex on their web site:
The sexual drive in human beings was created by God to fulfill two interrelated purposes—to bring a close union between a married man and woman engaging in intimate sexual behavior (the "unitive" purpose of sex), and to provide a means to propagate the race (the "procreative" purpose of sex). To be true to the natural law that guides all human action, any act of sexual intercourse must occur within marriage and be open to both the unitive and procreative purposes. (from the page on PP)
In my posting Planned Parenthood: Addicting children to sex!!! I describe how this organisation is not just against abortion, but against contraception and sex education. The American Life League feels abstinence is the way and the only way of dealing with the question of unwanted pregnancies. Does this idea work?
Is the correct answer counter-intuitive?
Countries, states, municipalities have set up needle-exchange programs for drug addicts. Is such a public policy actually condoning or even promoting the use of illicit drugs? From Wikipedia: Needle-exchange programme:
A needle & syringe programme (NSP) or syringe-exchange programme (SEP) is a social policy based on the philosophy of harm reduction where injecting drug users (IDUs) can obtain hypodermic needles and associated injection equipment at little or no cost. ... The aim of these services is to reduce the damage associated with using unsterile or contaminated injecting equipment.
A comprehensive study by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004 stated that there is a "compelling case that NSPs substantially and cost effectively reduce the spread of HIV among IDUs and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal level." The WHO's findings have also been supported by the American Medical Association (AMA), which strongly supports NSPs.
The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health including abortion rights, published the following 2009 article:
By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.
In the 2005 non-fiction book Freakonomics, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner analyze several commonly held "truths" including abortion and its relation to crime. During the 90's crime rates dropped and everybody was attributing this to better crime prevention. Levitt proved a correlation between the drop in crime and the legalization of abortion in the U.S. in the 1970s. Apparently, many abortions were occurring in lower income, possibly single parent families; families who were more susceptible to producing children who eventually ended up involved in crime. (Wikipedia: Legalized abortion and crime effect) (my blog Abortion: My final word on unwanted pregnancy)
I abhor specious argumentation when somebody is defending a political stance. Two plus two equals four and it doesn't matter whether you're Democrat or Conservative, left or right. However, how to get the arguer to comprehend that their understanding of the problem is inaccurate, ideology based (as opposed to reality based) or just plain wrong?
You can't defend Rush
I don't have to give you my remarks as the American journalist George Will summed it up nicely.
The Daily Beast - Mar 5/2012
Signs of Hope: George Will Berates GOP Cowardice by Noah Kristula-Green
“[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said.
Specious argumentation is deeply entrenched
Religious freedom? The freedom to force your will on the masses? The freedom to go against common thought? The freedom to set up rules and a system which will lead to unnecessary pain, suffering and even death? Literally the freedom to kill?
The blind adherence to a belief system, an ideology is so ingrained in some people; change will only come about when those people eventually grow old and die leaving the planet to those with a more enlightened view. The following comment in a Canadian newspaper reporting on the Rush Limbaugh story unwittingly shows to the world a commentator who is very much cut in the same cloth as far right Conservative Limbaugh ilk.
The National Post - Mar 6/2012
In the land of Limbaugh, no insult is too low by Araminta Wordsworth
Comment from Hobbitall
This is all a politically correct media goon squad deflection from the real issue.
The issue is whether Catholic institutions should be forced into paying for contraceptives by the government when it is against their moral and religious beliefs. And if the government succeeds how long until they are forced to pay for and provide abortions.
Government wants to have it's boot on the throat of religious beliefs and replace those beliefs with state decree.
How did civilization ever survive the tyranny of people paying for their own contraceptives before our savior Obamacare?
The PC media goon squad and feminazis want you tho think it's about the word slut and not about religious freedom.
My final, final word
Whether you are a man or a woman, you are a human being and deserve equal opportunity to education, employment and yes, even health care. However, I admit a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina and therein lies some fundamental differences in what health care is supposed to be for each sex. A bunch of guys, a bunch of religious guys to boot get together to make a decision about health care for the ladies? I got an idea. How about we make it mandatory that every man have a vasectomy at the age of 11 and he can't get it reversed until he's 35? A little harsh? Okay, I'll drop the age to 34 but I demand to see last year's tax return, proof of employment for the same job during the past 2 years and a psych evaluation showing he would be a stable, caring father. Is it just me or did all those religious leaders, the Conservative politicians and even Rush miss the part of the story where women have to have sex with a man to get pregnant? Why are they holding the woman responsible but letting the guy off scot-free?
In my posting "Sex: I'm a man and you're a...", I discuss the double standard as it exists in our society. I mention the book The Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality (1981), in which the author, after interviewing about 5,000 men, said that the most common "theme" of their take on sex was this: women don't like sex. What a conundrum. We have a puritanical society with a culture which vilifies women for being open about their sexuality and yet secretly men would like nothing more than a woman who is "interested in it". Well guys, talk about collectively shooting ourselves in the foot!
Rush Limbaugh is the tip of the iceberg. There is a puritanical, patriarchal ideology so deeply entrenched in part of our culture it is now obvious generations or centuries will be necessary to overturn the status quo. But there is hope. Note that I said "entrenched in part of our culture". There is the deeply traditional, religious fundamentalist base which is unable to deal with a world which is evolving before its eyes but there are the liberals, the progressives, the experimenters who are questioning the status quo and pushing the bounds of what has been traditionally acceptable.
Wikipedia: Rush Limbaugh
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (born January 12, 1951) is an American radio talk show host, conservative political commentator, and an opinion leader in American conservatism. He hosts The Rush Limbaugh Show which is aired throughout the U.S. on Premiere Radio Networks and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States. Limbaugh signed an 8-year, $400 million contract extension with Clear Channel in 2008.
Wikipedia: The Rush Limbaugh Show
The Rush Limbaugh Show (also called The Rush Limbaugh Program) is an American talk radio show hosted by Rush Limbaugh on Premiere Radio Networks. Since its nationally syndicated premiere in 1988, The Rush Limbaugh Show has become the highest-rated talk radio show in the United States.
New York Times: Rush Limbaugh
His show went national, and revolutionized radio in America. Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers magazine, puts Mr. Limbaugh's weekly audience at 14 million. Mr. Limbaugh says it is closer to 20 million. Either way, nobody else is close. Mr. Limbaugh signed an eight-year contract in 2008 that he estimated would bring in about $38 million a year, plus a nine-figure signing bonus.
Wikipedia: Sandra Fluke
Sandra Kay Fluke (born April 17, 1981) is a Georgetown University law student, American feminist activist, and an ex-employee of a nonprofit advocating for victims of domestic violence. She was a proposed Democratic witness to a Congressional hearing on contraception. She was denied the opportunity to testify before the hearing and subsequently testified before Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Rush Limbaugh then begin a controversy by commenting on her testimony.
Wikipedia: Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke controversy
On February 29, 2012, American conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh responded to a statement made by by Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, on February 23, 2012 about mandated health coverage for contraceptives. The statement was not "Congressional testimony" as was widely reported.
The Good Men Project - Mar 1/2012
Why Do We Live in a World That's Petrified of Women Who Love Sex? by Noah Brand
My culture tells me I’m supposed to like sex, supposed to make it a high priority, indeed supposed to define my worth as a person by it. I’m a man, after all.
Big Little Wolf's Daily Plate of Crazy - Mar 4/2012
Contraception. Personhood. Let Me Say This… About That.
I’m just trying to read my Sunday Times. And enjoy perusing my fave Must-See sites. But it’s impossible to avoid news coverage on contraception and the ongoing battle of wills and words over health insurance, abortion, personhood, and related subjects. For most of the women I know over the age of 40, and of course for me as well, it’s a strangely anachronistic (outlandish?) debate. For one thing, the premise of not covering contraception is akin to punishing women for their sexuality. And it’s illogical. If men abstained from sex, women would have no need of contraception. There! Problem solved!
Open Salon - Mar 2/2012
Single Parents are Abusive and Negligent by Fay Paxton
According to Senator Grothman single parenting is all part of a leftist conspiracy....” The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.”
HuffPost Media - Mar 3/2012
Rush Limbaugh Apologizes To Sandra Fluke For Calling Her A 'Slut'
After a media and political firestorm, Rush Limbaugh issued an apology on Saturday for calling student Sandra Fluke a "slut" on his radio show this week.
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