the mouse that quibbles

the mouse that quibbles

Friday, March 2, 2012

Miss Manners for Republicans

(with sincere apologies to Judith Martin)

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young woman in my early 20s, a law student at Georgetown University, and I recently testified on Capitol Hill after being denied the opportunity of appearing before a Senate Committee consisting only of men from conservative religious organizations on the proposed contraceptive mandate. Because of this, a well-known conservative talk show host has targeted me for public abuse, calling me a “slut” and a “prostitute” and demanding I make sex tapes so he can view them on-line. I’m stunned and outraged, what should I do?

GENTLE READER: As Miss Manners understands it, the talk-show host in question is notorious for his disgraceful behaviour, and is openly enjoying the appalled reaction by civilized people as being “absolutely hilarious.” Such people are impervious to well-meaning attempts to impart good manners, nevermind instill any sense of humanity or decency. Your best course of action is to continue holding yourself to the standards of civil discourse, and conduct yourself with the same grace and dignity as you have been against misogynistic, vitriolic attacks.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a Republican presidential candidate who has long been a supporter of a conservative talk show host who recently has been making public denunciations of a young law student who is becoming a champion for women’s health care rights. My demographics with women is flagging, and I’m actively trying to woo the little lady vote. But I don’t want to offend my good friend, the talk show host. I’ve said that he’s being absurd, but that, you know... an entertainer can be absurd. He’s in a very different business than I am. Do you think this response is enough?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners considers slandering a young woman in the most offensive way possible because your ideology is different from hers deserves a far stronger response than calling it “absurd” and following even that weak criticism with the excuse that the talk show host is an “entertainer” and thus somehow exempt from the same expectations of decent behaviour as the rest of us. Unfortunately, I think this reaction shows you are somewhat less than sincere about your disapproval of such egregious behaviour, and most well-bred and sensible women are intelligent enough to realise this. I’m afraid you may struggle in your attempts to persuade women to vote for you, given the lack of genuine ethics and character you continue to exhibit.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am also a Republican presidential candidate and supporter of the conservative talk show host who humiliated and slandered that young law student. Unlike my Republican Presidential opponents, I’ve chosen to remain above the fray, and have stayed conspicuously silent, particularly since every time I open my mouth, my foot seems to reflexively get stuck between my teeth. But I’m being pressured by Democratic colleagues and even television journalists to speak out against my old, dear friend, and defend some sex-crazed slut I’ve never met and am never likely to meet, considering the vast abyss that exists between my own elite social group and the majority of the unwashed American hoi polloi I’m forced to pretend to empathise with. Is avoiding any further embarrassing gaffes and my “do no harm” strategy likely to help me win my bid to be the Republican challenger?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners has always regarded a “do no harm” attitude to be advisable, but in this particular case, I feel you aren’t so much doing no harm as you are doing nothing at all. Standing by and keeping one’s mouth shut while allowing a member of your social group to savagely abuse an innocent woman is not commendable behaviour, much as watching a thief mug someone in an back alley but doing nothing to help, not even call the police, is not admirable either. It is, in fact, at best a mark of cowardice and at worst a form of tacit approval, which does not bode well for anyone who is seriously considering running for the most important position in our great country. The absence of good manners is as serious a breach of etiquette as blatant bad manners, and shows a lack of judgment on a par with shoving the family dog into a kennel tied to the roof of your car.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hold a senior position in the government, and am quite proud of my reputation for being brusque, telling my colleagues to “get your ass in line” whenever they disagree with me, or calling the financial rescue plan a “crap sandwich,” the climate bill a “pile of shit,” or letting the President know I was “pissed” he wouldn’t cave in to overhauling the tax code to my liking. I was seriously annoyed by a recent letter by House Democrats urging me to condemn some controversial comment made by my BFF, a conservative talk show host. I had to think about it for a good couple days before I decided to release a press statement through my spokeman saying that I believe the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation. I didn’t even use any swear words, either. So isn’t that good enough?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is naturally not a big fan of profanity, and considers a recurrent potty-mouth to be juvenile behaviour unbecoming a leading member of Congress. But I’d like to address a much more serious failing than your chronic vulgarity; a condemnation of an offending party that then turns it into an attack those defending the injured party is not a condemnation at all. A mealy-mouthed, pathetically feeble reprimand followed on by a hypocritical accusation is not a quality required of a political leader. Perhaps you should consider another line of work where such boorishness is better suited.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m the governor of Arizona who officially greeted President Obama at the airport and handed him a nice letter I wrote myself in my very best handwriting on fancy Executive Office stationery, explaining that while we fundamentally disagree on just about everything I’d like to show him the error of his ways by taking him on a tour of the border, and even said I’d pick up the tab for lunch while we talked about jobs and the economy. But then he brought up my book, in which I repeatedly took potshots at him, writing he publicly mocked our great state, lectured me about immigration reform and he was condescending and patronizing. He said that he didn’t feel I’d treated him cordially! How thin-skinned is that? So, y’know what I did? I told him, “You have one more year!” He’s gonna be a one-term president if I’ve got anything to do with it. That uppity man needed to be reminded he’s not a king lording it over state governors, how dare he have the audacity to sue me and Arizona in my efforts to protect our country from brown peopl... er... illegal immigrants! Then some pesky photographer took a picture of me jabbing my finger in the President’s face while we were talking, before he just up and walked away from me in mid-sentence! Well, I would never have walked away from anyone having a conversation like that, it was just so disrespectful! And I even felt a bit threatened, because I mean, y’know how scary black folks get when they’re mad. Now he’s got the chutzpah to say it was no big deal, that it was all just a publicity stunt! How do I tell him this really hurt my feelings, and that he’s a mean, mean man?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is somewhat at a loss. Although I agree that some startlingly impolite dialogue did occur, I think it would likely fall on deaf ears should I point out a gracious hostess does not stick fingers in the face of a guest, or that President Obama behaved with remarkable restraint, all things considered. But somehow I think the concerns you’ve described are beyond the purview of an etiquette expert. Perhaps you might want to seek out the services of a good psychiatrist?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma who recently said that I’d like to hold a gun to the heads of my political opponents in the House and maybe kill a couple of them, even emphasising my comment by making a gun with my fingers in case anyone didn’t get what I was saying. I, like the Speaker of the House, used an intermediary and sent my spokeman to deliver an apology. He said I offered my sincere apologies to anyone I offended and for using a poor choice of words to make my point – which is that Senate Democrats are refusing to pass a budget while I’m feeling the pain of millions of Americans. But I’m still catching flak. Why won’t anyone accept my apology?

GENTLE READER: Because it wasn’t a real apology! Miss Manners is deeply puzzled why that’s such a hard concept for some people to grasp. When Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal apologised for comparing Michelle Obama to the Grinch, he said ‘to those I have offended, I am sorry, that was not my intent.’ That is not an apology! One apologises for having committed an offence, not for how it makes someone else feel!

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a chief judge in Montana who recently circulated a racist joke emailed from my official courthouse address to my friends and family, likening President Obama to a dog and deeply insulting to his late mother. I’ve sent apologies via a couple local newspapers, but I’m not really racist, just anti-Obama, and besides, it’s just politics. Hey, I’ve said I’m sorry, do I really deserve calls to step down? I mean, c’mon, it was funny, right?

GENTLE READER: You did what? Oh, for pete’s sake... Miss Manners will try yet again to explain, that wasn’t actually an apology. An apology takes responsibility for the harm you’ve done, rather than trying to explain why it wasn’t really wrong, and deflecting the blame. Telling racist, misogynist jokes is the act of a racist misogynist, not a matter of “politics.” The President and his mother have done nothing, personally or politically, to deserve being ridiculed in such an offensive manner. Moreover, you’re a representative of the federal government, and as such have a duty to behave in a manner befitting a member of the court rather than a sniggering 15-year-old yob telling off-colour jokes to his bonehead friends. The utter lack of prudence, as well as overt disrespect for the office of the President of the United States, clearly demonstrates your lack of impartiality necessary to remain in a position with the power to pass legal or moral judgment on anyone else, if not at outright violation of federal codes of conduct for which you certainly should resign.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m an unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor in Iowa and a Christian conservative leader who wrote a pledge promoting the sanctity of marriage vows and offered to endorse any Republican candidates who would sign it, as many did, including Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum. But it took some flak over a section that claimed black people born into slavery were more likely to be raised in a two-parent family than an African-American baby born after the election of Barack Obama. I had my spokesman from Family Leaders issue an apology, saying we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be “misconstrued”, which detracts from our much more important mission to declare marriage should be only between one man and one woman. We sincerely apologised for any negative feelings this caused. But them gosh-durned liberals and feminists and gay rights bunch are still complaining! Why are they being so stubborn?

GENTLE READER: Because it wasn’t a real apology! You made a totally inappropriate statement, they didn’t “misconstrue” anything! It’s not a genuine apology if you’re not really sorry, and just keep right on... oh, never mind. Miss Manners knows when she’s flogging a dead horse.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Hello, again. It’s me, the Republican front-runner. I’ve been thinking about your advice on not denouncing my friend for saying mean things about some sex-crazed co-ed, and I’ve decided to come out strongly after all, speaking with passion and conviction from the heart, and said it’s not the language I would have used, but I’d rather focus on, like, the issues and jobs and, y’know, other stuff. Will that work?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's Time to Stop Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh has made his considerable fortune from espousing extreme rightwing views and attacking opponents with hate-filled, vitriolic rhetoric for years. A large portion of the American radio audience has long found it entertaining, although those numbers are starting to wane considerably. The nation’s first all-conservative talk radio station, KVI in Seattle, switched back to its classic rock format shortly after the elections in 2010, after 17 years of supporting rightwing talk shows. An Arbitron report released less than a year ago showed rating for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity had fallen sharply, down 33% and 28% respectively. Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates both shows, expressed their lack of concern for the report, saying even with such a sharp drop Limbaugh and Hannity “continue to be No. 1 and No. 2.”

Such unmitigated support has allowed Limbaugh to really pull out all the stops in recent days and release his inner psychotic, unleashing an attack on Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress about the problem of women’s lack of access to contraceptions, that bordered on if not downright was legally slanderous, calling the Georgetown University Law School student a “slut” and a “prostitute.”.

“Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?” Limbaugh said, “Who bought your contraceptive pills in high school?" Then he mocked her in much the same way he mocked Michael J. Fox’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, impersonating Fluke in baby voice and pretending to cry. “I'm going broke having sex. I need government to provide me condoms and contraception. It's not fair.” He then took it one disgusting step further, calling for Miss 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. We want you to post the videos online, so we can all watch.”

You only wish, you narrow-minded Oxycontin- popping pervert. This, from the guy who along with four of his best buddies, most of them from Fox, flew to the Dominican Republic for a “stag party” on a Gulfstream IV jet owned by Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates his radio program, along with 29 100mg pills of Viagra issued in someone else’s name. Methinks it’s not Georgetown law students who are abnormally obsessed with sex.

His remarks have left genuine journalists such as Martin Bashir and Jonathan Capehart speechless with shock, and set off a backlash of anger from House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D – NY), and Judy Chu (D – CA). Rush Limbaugh reacted to the outrage by finding the “conniption fit” of Democrats “absolutely hilarious,” enjoying the response he generated much like a sadistic little boy enjoys pouring lighter fluid down an anthill and lighting it, laughing as the ants scurry around helplessly. If only Congress were more like a hornet’s nest, with some real sting to their disapproval. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has drafted a sent a letter of protest to Speaker John Boehner and circulated a petition, which you can find here, demanding Republican leaders likewise condemn Limbaugh “repulsive attacks on women,” and for “Republican leaders to stand up and say they don’t want him to defend them anymore.” But while more than 75 Democratic House Members have so far signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday urging him to condemn Limbaugh’s remarks, there seems, however, to be a singular lack of signatures, and a deafening silence, from the Republican side of the House.

But that’s what Limbaugh is counting on. The Republican’s tacit approval of his behaviour, as well as the not-so-silent encouragement from other rightwing media hacks, such as Megyn Kelly and Trace Gallager, who yucked it up with glee on Fox’s America Live, Gallager saying, “I was going to go to law school, but I thought all you did was study at law school... what’s going on at Georgetown, when do they study?” and Monica Crowley sneering, ‘Cry me a river,” at the steep financial burden of attending law school making it difficult to afford contraceptives. “Now the American people are supposed to be paying for someone to have sex?” Dana Loesch denounced anyone using contraceptives as “acting like nymphos. That’s what they act like.”

How astoundingly facile, and how outrageously spiteful, of these conservative talking heads to completely, and deliberately, ignore those women who need contraceptives for other purposes than “recreational” sex. Oral contraceptives are widely used to treat the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, severe menstrual pain, as well as excessive menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, which can lead to anaemia – something up to 40% of all adult women have experienced, with pain and bleeding acute enough to prevent a woman from attending school or going to work. I know this personally, because I was one of those 40%, prescribed oral contraceptives as a teenager for just this problem long before I became sexually active as an adult. It also had a beneficial side effect, which oral contraceptives are regularly used to treat, in reducing acne outbreaks, so severe before treatment that it left me with permanent scars on my face. It is also used in the treatment of hormone imbalances that can lead to excess hair growth, menstrual-related migraines, and pelvic pain from endometriosis and bleeding from uterine fibroids. In other words, oral contraceptives isn’t just for those “nymphos” and “sex-crazed co-eds” making imaginary sex tapes Rush Limbaugh dreams about getting his Viagra bolstered rocks off while watching.

Luckily, Limbaugh and the rest of the lock-step bimbos on Fox working as his own personal pep squad are picking on someone who has more grace, class and courage under fire than they’re used to. Sandra Fluke has already demonstrated amazing strength in testifying before Congress, and has released a statement calling these personal attacks on her and on women in general “egregious” and declaring that those who speak out for comprehensive women’s health care “will not be silenced.”

Nor should anyone who is sick and tired of these despicable tactics by rightwing extremists like Rush Limbaugh. It’s time we ants became hornets, and start stinging where it hurts them the most – in the pocketbook. It’s well past time to stop Rush Limbaugh. Time to tell Premiere Radio Networks and their owners, Clear Channel the shameful antics of Limbaugh and Hannity, like Glen Beck, are not beneficial to America. Contact them here, tell them what you think of their support for bigotry and hatred being espoused by Rush Limbaugh. Tell those advertisers who pay for Limbaugh’s endorsement that you won’t be buying products from people who help promote this sort of intolerance against women. We can start with Carbonite, endorced by “El Rushbo”, and no stranger to dodgy business practices themselves, already caught using their employees to rig Amazon reviews. Contact them here. Give Apple a bite, tell them their Limbaugh app is full of worms. Contact them here. Tell ProFlowers their Limbaugh bouquets stink. Tell Oreck Upright Vacuum Cleaners their support of Limbaugh sucks. Tell the American Forces Network to give our men and women in uniform more respect and a better reason to defend their country than Limbaugh’s unpatriotic rantings.

Feel free to visit this Facebook page and this website, which has more companies to chose from, as well as contact details for the Chairman and CEO, the President and COO, and other executives at Clear Channel and other network affliations that support the Rush Limbaugh radio show. And if you don’t think this sort of thing works, why not send a note of thanks to those companies who have chosen to withdraw their support, like Dominos Pizza, and Ted Ward of Geico.

We can get rid of this malicious chauvinist pervert. We just have to speak out loudly enough.