Archive for March, 2012

 

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President Barack Obama had a clear message Sunday in his speech to the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): It’s war.
No, not against Iran. But against partisan politics, specifically the Republican line claiming the president hasn’t supported Israel enough in its hardline position on Iran.
Obama sharply escalated his warnings to Tehran that the use of force is very much “on the table,” as the foreign policy cliché goes, in a possible response to its nuclear program.
But he paired that rhetorical ramp-up with a detailed plea for patience with diplomacy and bluntly charged that “too much loose talk of war” has helped, not hindered, the Islamic republic.

“There should not be a shred of doubt by now: When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back,” the president told AIPAC, listing a wide range of actions he’s
undertaken — like rescuing Israeli diplomats in Cairo, boosting security and intelligence cooperation. “Which is why if during this political season you hear some question my
Administration’s support for Israel, remember that it’s not backed up by the facts,” said the president. “And remember that the U.S.-Israel relationship is simply too important to be
distorted by partisan politics. America’s national security is too important. Israel’s security is too important,” he said, to sustained applause by the crowd.

“Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” he said. “For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the
time for bluster; now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in.”

And there is widespread talk that the United States and Israel are already waging a covert war against Iran’s nuclear and missile programs — so widespread that it was
featured in a controversial Israeli ad for Samsung tablets.

Obama’s appeal for patience with his diplomatic strategy coupled with his rhetorical escalation on the possible use of force drew immediate praise from
Nicholas Burns, the senior diplomat who served as George W. Bush’s point person on Iran.

When will we every learn to stop this gunboat, trigger-happy, shoot from the hip diplomacy? There will be plenty of time for military options before Iran becomes a threat to anyone! “they have weapons of mass destruction!” Anybody remember those words? We specifically elected this president to do exactly what he is doing; getting all necessary information and getting it right the first time, Knowing in advance what we are doing and why, understanding the beginning and endgame, and having an achievable, common sense exit strategy.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) angrily walked out of a congressional hearing on the contraception coverage rule last month because the one female witness the Democrats brought, Sandra Fluke, was rejected by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for being “unqualified” to speak on the topic.

But after hearing that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, a “slut” and a “prostitute” on Wednesday night for advocating that employers cover birth control pills in their health plans, Maloney is really fuming.

“I am just aghast,” she told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “If the far right can attack people like Sandra Fluke, women are going to be afraid to speak because they’re going to be called terrible words. It’s an attempt to silence people that are speaking out for women.”

Maloney and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) had brought Fluke into the hallway outside the House Oversight Committee hearing on Feb. 16 to allow her to give her testimony to reporters while the all-male panel of religious experts testified on record. Fluke told the story of one of her classmates who lost an ovary because Georgetown, a Jesuit university, did not cover the oral contraceptives that she was prescribed for her condition.

Limbaugh said on his show that Fluke’s parents should be ashamed of her for testifying that she is “having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills.”

He added:

“What does it say about the college co-ed 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. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

A handful of female Democratic lawmakers fired back on Wednesday and demanded that their Republican colleagues publicly denounce Limbaugh’s comments. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the remarks “unmask the strong disrespect for women held by some in this country,” and Maloney told HuffPost that if Republicans “stand silently by and let this pass, they will be condoning it and attacking women.”

Limbaugh’s comments coincided with a heated Senate debate on Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) controversial amendment, which would override President Barack Obama’s contraception rule and let any employer refuse to cover birth control or any other health service for moral or religious reasons. While Obama’s policy would allow churches and faith-based organizations to opt out of covering contraception, the Blunt amendment would allow anyone, including non-religious employers, to do so.

Maloney said that the GOP attacks on contraception access should serve as a “wake-up call” to the women’s rights movement.

“I believe these efforts are sinking in,” she said. “Women have to stand up and say stop. We have to get out and get out strong to let women know around the country that they can speak out against this abuse. The right to space and time our children for our own health and the ability to manage our lives — this is a basic right, and they’re going after it.”

from the Huffingtonpost

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stepping into an emerging culture clash over women, President Barack Obama made a supportive phone call Friday to a law student who testified before Congress about the need for birth control coverage, only to be called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh.

For Obama, it was an emphatic plunge into the latest flare-up on social issues. Democratic officeholders and liberal advocacy have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” because of GOP stances on contraception and abortion rights, and Limbaugh’s tirade on his radio talk show was seen as an escalation.

In addition to her call from the president, the third-year Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, was backed by members of Congress, women’s groups, and the administration and faculty at her Roman Catholic university.

Demands for Limbaugh’s sponsors to pull their ads from his show rocketed through cyberspace, and at least four companies, Quicken Loans, LegalZoom online legal document service, and bedding retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, bowed to the pressure.

Obama considers Limbaugh’s remarks “reprehensible,” according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. He said the president called Fluke 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.

“The fact that our political discourse has become debased in many ways is bad enough,” Carney said. “It is worse when it’s directed at a private citizen who was simply expressing her views.”

Obama reached Fluke by phone as she was waiting to go on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

“He’s really a very a kind man,” Fluke later told The Associated Press. “He just called to express concern for me and to make sure I was OK and to say that he supported me and to thank me for speaking out about something that’s so important to so many women.”

As for Limbaugh’s remarks, Fluke said, “I just thought that they were really outside the bounds of civil discourse.”

By calling Fluke and injecting himself into the Limbaugh controversy, Obama sent a message to more than one law student. He was reaching out to young voters and women — two groups whose support he needs in this re-election year. And he was underscoring that the White House, despite bungling its rollout of the birth control policy, sees it as a winning issue and welcomes Obama’s name next to it.

Republicans and conservatives can’t be so stupid as to anchor their political battlefleet to this torpedo.

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Rush Limbaugh called the woman who was denied the right to speak at a controversial contraception hearing a “slut” on Wednesday.

Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown Law School, was supposed to be the Democratic witness at a Congressional hearing about the Obama administration’s contraception policy. However, Darrell Issa, the committee chair at the hearing, prevented her from speaking, while only allowing a series of men to testify about the policy. Fluke eventually spoke to a Democratic hearing, and talked about the need for birth control for both reproductive and broader medical reasons. She mentioned in particular a friend of hers who needed contraception to prevent the growth of cysts.

To Limbaugh, though, Fluke was just promoting casual sex.

“Can you imagine if you were her parents how proud…you would be?” he said. “Your daughter … testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she wants President Obama to provide them, or the Pope.”

He continued:

“What does it say about the college co-ed 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. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Limbaugh then said, “ok, so she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled.” “Round-heeled” is an old-fashioned term for promiscuity.

Limbaugh’s comments came on the same day that Fluke was mentioned during a debate in the Senate about the so-called “Blunt Amendment,” which would override Obama’s contraception rule. Sen. Barbara Boxer brought up Fluke’s testimony, recounting what she would have said at the Congressional panel if she had been given the opportunity.