UPDATE: Why Didn’t the Advertisers Drop Rush Limbaugh Before Now?

A few days ago, I wrote that we should not consider as heroes those companies that have dropped their advertising from the Rush Limbaugh shows.  If they were really socially responsible, they would never have advertised with him at all.  The number of companies dropping the advertising continues to grow.  The Center for American Progress provides the report below.  What I find laughable from the report is that “[t]he advertisers have also requested to be excluded from other right-wing hosts including Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity [because Limbaugh and those shows] have been “’deemed to be offensive.’”  Of course they’re offensive.  They have always been offensive.  Again, don’t think any better of those companies because they now are dropping their advertising.  They should have never been advertising on them.

Here is the excerpt of the Center’s report:

Advertiser Exodus Grows Exponentially

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Rush Limbaugh’s vile, sexist attacks on Sandra Fluke and other women have taken a severe toll on his show.

Here’s the latest.

  • At least 140 Companies Have Dumped Limbaugh

ThinkProgress has obtained an internal memo from Premiere Radio Networks listing 96 national companies that have “specifically asked” their advertisements not be played during the Rush Limbaugh Show. Premiere is the distributor of Limbaugh’s program. The advertisers have also requested to be excluded from other right-wing hosts including Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. According to the memo, the listed companies’ advertisements should be excluded from these programs because they have been “deemed to be offensive.”

With these 96 new companies bailing on Limbaugh, the total number of advertisers boycotting Limbaugh has reached at least 140.


Why Didn’t the Advertisers Drop Rush Limbaugh Before Now?

According to reports, there are now more than 30 advertisers who have left the Rush Limbaugh show.  That list includes Netflix, Sears, Capital One, and J.C. Penney.  In addition, two radio stations have dropped his program.  All of that is great, but I imagine that everything will eventually get back to normal for Limbaugh and he will continue to spew his hatred.  As Jon Stewart said, he is just a terrible person.

I suppose there is a chance that Clear Channel will suspend him for a short period and more advertisers will bail.  But, after all, money is money.  Does anyone really believe that advertisers will put their “morals” before money?  Inevitably, Limbaugh will be back with full advertising dollars and as horrible as ever.

So, don’t think that Netflix and Sears (etc.) are heroes.  If they had any sense of social responsibility, they would not have been advertising on his show at all.  After all, he has been calling feminists “feminazis” almost from his time his show began many years ago.  He has ranted against gays and lesbians from the beginning.  His is a special kind of hatred, which, as he says, is cloaked in “entertainment.”  I will continue my “hatred” of Limbaugh, and will continue to have a bad opinion of those companies that advertise on his shows and those individuals who listen to him.

Woman Convicted of Attempting to Extort Money from University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Coach Rick Pitino

Karen Cunagin Sypher was found guilty of attempting to extort money from University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino after the two had a sexual encounter in a Louisville restaurant in 2003.  Although Sypher had claimed that Pitino raped her, no charges were ever brought against Pitino.

Rick Pitino when making his "public apology" last year (AP/ Photo by Gary Jones)

Pitino is married and the father of five.  During the trial, he admitted to a consensual encounter with Sypher and admitted that he later gave her $3,000 for an abortion after she told him she was pregnant.  (Pitino claimed the money was for “health insurance.”)

The thing that surprised me most about the entire situation was the lack of concern about Pitino providing money for Sypher’s abortion.  One year ago, when the allegations first came to light, I wrote that:

Apparently, Rick Pitino’s contract with the University of Louisaville has a “morals clause” (“acts of moral depravity“) that, arguably, will allow the University to claim that he has breached the contract and therefore provide easy ground for firing him if it wishes.  In addition, Pitino has cultivated his image  as a “deeply religious Catholic husband and father of five who often brings along a priest on road trips for his Louisville men’s basketball team.”   Therefore, the University of Louisville will feel extra pressure to fire Pitino simply because he has not lived up to his religious image.  But, I think the one huge difference in the Pitino story is that abortion is involved.  Depending on whether you listen to the police or Pitino’s lawyer, he paid $3,000 to Karen Sypher to either have an abortion or to pay for health insurance.  Surely, everyone will believe that he paid her the money to have an abortion.

Therefore, the loud pressure from the anti-choice zealots will add to the pressure in most of these cases.  For example, one article, in talking about whether John Edwards fathered Rielle Hunter’s 18-month-old daughter, says that “While John Edwards is no saint, at least he never paid for Rielle Hunter to have an under-the-table abortion.”  I suspect that, ultimately, the University of Louisville will yield to the zealots and will fire Pitino.

The strange thing is that, as far as I know, no one ever was concerned about Pitino paying for an abortion (or Sypher having an abortion, for that matter).  And the University of Louisville apparently will take no action against Pitino.  Its athletic director even supported Pitino, saying, “I feel very proud in the fact that he did own up to everything.  . . . He knew his name would be dragged through the mud but he also wanted the facts out there because the only thing that would vindicate him in this case were the facts.”  So, apparently, success trumps morals.  A blogger in the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote yesterday that “[p]robably nowhere else would Pitino  have survived this scandal than in this state — maybe only in this city” and that “[i]n America, success is the ultimate penance.”  I have no doubt that is a major factor in Pitino getting off with nothing more than minor damage to his reputation.

But what about the anti-abortion people?  You would have thought that, since Pitino is a national figure, they would have raised an uproar and that Pitino would have suffered the consequences.  But none of them appeared to care.  Is this hypocrisy in that they pull out all of their rhetoric when a woman has an abortion or a doctor performs an abortion, but turn their backs when a man is accused of funding an abortion?  Or does it show that even the anti-abortion people accept abortion in certain circumstances?  In either case, this seems to me to be pure hyprocrisy and shows that the anti-abortion people do not have a principled position.

‘Week After Pill’ Approved

An FDA advisory panel has officially approved Ella, the newest version of emergency contraception. Dubbed the “week after pill,” the drug works similarly to Plan B, but extends the window of effectiveness to up to 5 days after unprotected sex (Plan B currently protects only up to 72 hours). Furthermore, Plan B decreases in effectiveness after the first 24 hours, while Ella’s effectiveness remains the same, whether taken 1 day after sex or 5.

Rates of pregnancy in Plan B users are very low, at 2.8%. But Ella’s are even lower, at 1.8%. And there are few side effects associated with the pill– the only one found in trials has been ‘dizziness’. It’s been found safe, reliable, and effective.

So what’s the problem? Well, anti-abortion rights advocates are fighting against the approval of the drug, insisting that it’s actually an abortion pill. The president of the anti-feminist group Concerned Women of America stated that Ella is “an unsafe abortion pill that men might slip to unsuspecting women.” Although the notion of that occurring is awful, this argument is clearly a cheap ploy to stop the distribution of the drug, while pretending to be concerned about women’s autonomy. The argument also has little legitimacy since the drug would only be available with a prescription, and it’s not even an abortion pill.

The chemical used in both is similar, but the effects are completely different. Ella works primarily by delaying ovulation. Additionally, the approving doctors noted that the drug showed little evidence of disrupting existing pregnancies, already attached to the uterine wall.

Ella could be particularly helpful in cases of rape or sexual assault, where a 72 hour window may be too small for a victim to seek emergency contraception. As this NYT article points out, in the United States, “more than 25,000 [women] become pregnant every year after being sexually assaulted.” Having to deal with the serious emotional consequences, along with navigating the legal system, may leave a rape victim with little time to access Plan B within 3 days.

I fully support increasing all women’s access to reproductive rights services, giving more women the power to control their own bodies. Ella seems to be a promising new option.

Houston Preacher Says Abortion To Blame For Oil Spill

Following in the very noble footsteps of Pat Roberston, Jerry Falwell, and their ilk, a Houston minister has declared the latest oil spill crisis was the fault of…abortions! Preacher Joseph Herrin has announced that the Spirit of Christ revealed to him a parable in the BP Oil Spill: that Planned Parenthood, and abortion-rights advocates were largely responsible.

It has been widely broadcast that the largest Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in the nation has been built in Houston, TX. This six story tall (six is the number of the flesh man) abortion supercenter was opened in May, just a short time before the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began.

He goes on to say that this is not a coincidence, and we are all being punished for these “abortion-seekers.”

Remember, whatever happens…there’s always a woman to blame.

Feeling Uneasy About the Kagan Nomination

I’m already feeling very uneasy about the Elena Kagan nomination.  First, she wasn’t the nominee I wanted since I was hoping that Obama would nominate a liberal.  On the surface, of course, Kagan is anything but a liberal.  Yes, she does appear to support abortion rights and probably she is a supporter of women’s rights.  But most think that she is not a huge supporter of civil rights and is willing to give up civil liberties when “terrorists” are involved.

And, so, the only absolute positive is that she is a woman.  That’s great!  It would have been devastating if Obama had chosen a man and, yet, two of the supposed four finalists were men.

Most commentators lament her lack of a “record.”  And, so, it’s hard to know what she feels about most issues.  Maybe Obama knows that she is more liberal than she has appeared to be.  But, I would have a hard time now categorizing her in broad terms as anything other than in the center or slightly left of center.  That is far less than what I wanted.  Obama has (again) opted to try to appease the conservatives.  He has (again) shied away from a fight.

But has he really avoided a fight?  The thing that has made me most uneasy is that, because of the lack of a record, many questions will be asked for which we don’t know how she will answer.  Already, many groups are calling on their supporters to contact their senators to urge them to ask certain questions during the hearings.  For instance, NARAL wants to make sure that questions are asked about Kagan’s abortion rights views and Americans United wants questions asked about her views on church-state separation.  It seems to me that some of the questioning is almost guaranteed to open up huge debates by the parties, news media, and American populace.  That’s not bad—I, for instance, would certainly like to know whether she’s the centrist that she seems or is more right or more left.

The kicker would appear to be her sexual orientation.  The Gay Rights section of change.org has a blog about this.  Both supporters and opponents of gay rights want to know what she has to say.  Right-wingers want to know her answer so they can continue their bigotry in arguing that no gay or lesbian should ever have such an important position.  (Does anyone really think that the right-wingers will be satisfied with any answer she gives?)  And even though many LGBT advocates want no questions asked about her sexual orientation, there are others who do want questions asked.  For instance, the change.org blog writes:

I, and many other LGBT advocates, have definitely found ourselves longing for Kagan to make an announcement, because in the world of identity politics I guess the thought of an openly lesbian Supreme Court justice sounds so enticing that we have ignored the fact that it really is absolutely none of our business.  And it sure as hell is not the business of any anti-gay force that will use it to block her nomination.

Even though the White House already issued a stern (and bizarre) statement weeks ago that she is straight, when Kagan faces questions for the first time it seems like a mathematical certainty that she will be directly asked if she is a lesbian. Though I find it disheartening that she will have to face a question like this that truly does not have anything to do with the job she is being nominated for, I am admittedly eager to hear her response. Whether it is something to the effect of “Yes I am… next question,” “No I am not… next question,” or if she takes the road that C.J. Cregg from the West Wing took by saying “it is none of your business,” I hope it puts the issue to rest, so we can get back to worrying if she is progressive enough to step into the shoes of Justice John Paul Stevens.

If it is true that there is “a mathematical certainty that she will be directly asked if she is a lesbian,” the result of that questioning—no matter how she answers—will almost certainly lead to huge debate throughout the country.  And that debate, combined with the debate on the answers she gives to many of the views on which we currently have no idea, will put Obama in the position he has repeatedly tried to avoid.  He will be forced to spend great effort defending his nominee.  In other words, he will have to spend as much effort on the Kagan nomination as he would have had to spend if he nominated a liberal in the first place.

However this all plays out, we should remember that the Obama Supreme Court will be far less liberal than it was with Justice Stevens.  Many commentators, even conservative ones, are saying that Kagan will ultimately be confirmed.  I don’t see any reason to be that optimistic.  But, if she is confirmed, the best we liberals can hope for is that Obama is right that she is “a persuasive leader who could attract the swing vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.”  I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

Obama Says the Right Things About Choosing a Supreme Court Nominee Who Supports Abortion Rights (but, of course, he doesn’t have a “litmus test”)

All over the news today were reports about President Obama’s meeting with Senate leaders (if you can call Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions leaders) to give them his thoughts on picking a Supreme Court nominee.  When asked whether he will choose a nominee who supports abortion rights, Obama said he does not have a “litmus test,” but he did give some promising comments:

That’s [a nominee’s views on abortion rights] going to be something that’s very important to me.  I think part of what our constitutional values promote is the notion that individuals have protection in their privacy, and their bodily integrity, and women are not exempt from that.

I will say the same thing that every president has said since this issue came up, which is, I don’t have litmus tests around any of these issues.  But I will say that I want somebody who will be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights. And that includes women’s rights.

So, he would not say that he will only choose a nominee who supports abortion rights.  Given his track record, it remains to be seen whether he will ultimately fight for these rights.