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.

Obama’s Cave-in on Emergency Contraception

You’ve probably seen the news today that the Obama administration has (again) caved-in to the right (including, of course, the churches) by overruling its own Food and Drug Administration’s decision that emergency contraceptives be available over-the-counter to anyone, including teenagers 16 years old and younger.  Thus, age restrictions will still be in place.  Here is what NOW has to say about it, including what it might mean to contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act:

Emergency Contraception Betrayal:
Does President Obama Really Oppose Family Planning?

December 7, 2011

In a stunning betrayal of women, the Obama administration has sided with radical right politics in rejecting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove an age restriction on emergency contraception.

The experts on the FDA advisory committee resoundingly supported all available scientific and medical evidence, declaring Plan B One-Step to be safe and effective for all women over the counter, regardless of age.

Today, Plan B One-Step is available without prescription to women ages 17 and above. However, because of the age restriction, it is held behind the counter in pharmacies, and women are required to produce either proof of age or a doctor’s prescription to access the drug.

Two years ago, a district court found that the FDA’s earlier decision to limit access on the basis of age was motivated exclusively by politics. The court ordered the FDA to reconsider, and the FDA ultimately complied, recently deciding to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter to all women regardless of age.

It is an unusual and infuriating move for the Obama administration to overrule that decision, especially at a time when rumors are flying that the president is on the brink of caving in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by expanding religiously affiliated employers’ ability to deny contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act.

NOW calls on the president to stop playing politics with the lives of women and girls. During the Bush years, women’s reproductive health was under constant attack. We don’t need more of the same from the Obama administration.

Obama the Conservative?

When I was voting for President Obama in 2008, I felt that at least he was a moderate–but with some possibility that he had liberal tendencies.  Obviously, for a liberal like me, he was better than Bush.  And I thought he had more of a chance to support liberal causes than did Hillary Clinton.  The deciding factor for me was that I thought he would improve the image of the United States throughout the world–more than would Clinton.

I’m not going to say I made a mistake in who I supported in 2008 since I don’t know that Clinton would have done any better.  And it’s probably going too far to call him a conservative.  But, at this point, I don’t even know if he can be called a moderate.  In any event, I think it’s very fair to say that he doesn’t know how to be a President who leads the country.

I have been criticizing Obama almost since he took office that he would not stand up for what he believes in.  He could say good (progressive) things at first, only to back down later on.  He became more of a mediator and less of a leader as time went by.  The problem was, and is, that he doesn’t know how to mediate (i.e., in his case how to negotiate).  Most mediations open with each side staking out a position that would give them everything they want.  And sometimes one of the sides will open with am extreme position that they know is unwinnable but that will cause the dialog to start at a position more tilted toward them than would otherwise be the case.  (The Republicans, obviously, do both of those constantly.)

But that’s not the way Obama negotiates.  He opens with a position that is not what he really wants and then capitulates toward the other side from there.  (If he opens with the positions he really wants, then maybe it truly is correct to call him a conservative.)  The latest example of this–and it is a huge example that could completely change the meaning of being an American–is the current battle regarding the budget and deficit spending.  Rather than taking a position that preserves benefits for medium- and low-income Americans (i.e., most of the country), he is already compromising on Medicare and Medicaid.  It makes absolutely no sense for a President to open the negotiations by saying that any reductions in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid must be accompanied by tax increases on the rich and cuts in defense spending.  But that is what he is doing.  This is out and out stupidity.  He should be opening by saying that he will not accept any spending cuts on those types of programs and that the real issue is income, not spending.  Doesn’t it seem that it should be easy to convince voters that tax increases on the rich will result in the deficit going down while programs that they have come to know and love will not have to change?  It just makes no sense to me that the medium- and low-income voters (again, this means almost all voters) would want to allow the rich to get richer while they, themselves, get screwed.  And why does Obama think that opening toward the right will help him in the polls?  The Republicans will just keep criticizing him until he goes farther and farther to the right.  That doesn’t help his poll numbers.

It’s no secret that progressives (like me) have been hugely disappointed by Obama.  If the budget and deficit negotiations end up with no tax increases for the rich and massive cuts on “entitlement” programs, the only question for progressives like me will be to decide whether we will stop supporting Obama at all and whether we will support a progressive candidate, rather than Obama, in the next election.  After all, how can you tell the difference between Obama and a conservative?

Dear Republicans: Will You End Your Use of “Killing” Language?

Right wingers such as Republican Congress members , “patriots,” and tea partiers have learned that it helps them with their “base” to use the words like “killing” and “killers” and “death.”  For instance, they used “baby killer” to refer to abortion providers and, in particular, Bill O’Reilly and many others used “Tiller the Baby Killer” to refer to abortion-provider Dr. George Tiller who, as we all know, was assassinated by an anti-abortion zealot.  Also, the estate tax, in right-wing terms, came to be known as the “death tax.”

Of late, the most popular term used by Republican Congress members has been “job-killing.”  It became easy (and politically helpful with their base) for them to tack “job-killing” onto anything they disagreed with.  For instance, as reported by Leslie Savan in The Nation, their response to the 9/11 first responders health bill was that the bill was a “massive job-killing new entitlement program.”  In addition, as reported by Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, Republican Congress members talk of “job-killing legislation and “job-killing regulations.”  “Big deficits are always ‘job-killing,’ which might come as something of a surprise to all you Keynesians out there.”  There are “job-killing spending binge[s]” and “job-killing stimulus projects.”  Republicans say that “President Obama runs a ‘job-killing administration’ with a ‘job-killing agenda’ carried out by, you guessed it, a ‘job-killing bureaucracy‘” and that the entire federal government is a “job-killing machine.”

The Republicans’ most recent egregious recent use of “job-killing” was to actually place it in the name of their bill to repeal health care reform: “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”  (Introduced by far-right-wing House majority leader Eric Cantor no less.)  According to experts, this is the only time that “job-killing” has ever appeared in the title of a bill.

The Republicans know that the bill will not pass and, in fact, almost certainly hope that there will never be any debate on the bill since that would only show the voters how repealing the health care bill would hurt them.  They also know that the health care bill does not “kill” jobs.  The only reason they introduced the bill was to check off a campaign promise.

In addition, as Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein writes, the way the Republicans use “kill” and “death” is a “GOP canard” and takes our eyes off real deaths.  Pearlstein says:

“What’s particularly noteworthy about this fixation with ‘job killing’ is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs. Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care.”

And so, now, in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shootings, and the Republicans’ statements that they supposedly want to tone down the heated political rhetoric, it might be time for them to stop using terms like “killing” and death.  A concrete signal would be for them to rename the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”  Does anyone think that will actually happen?

“Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry”

To coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday, the Southern Poverty Law Center has just released a paper titled Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry.  The paper concerns the exploitation of mostly undocumented immigrant women who work in the U.S. food industry and is based upon interviews with 150 women.  The women talk about having to subsist on poverty wages, being subject to wage theft, and being sexually abused.  As is well-known, the women generally do not report the abuses because it would mean that they would lose their jobs, be reported to the immigration officials, and/or be subject to even more abuse.

 

The Executive Summary of the report says:

 

Fifty years ago this Thanksgiving, CBS broadcast “Harvest of Shame,” an Edward R. Murrow documentary that chronicled the plight of migrant farmworkers. Murrow closed the program with this commentary: “The migrants have no lobby. Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants. The people you have seen have the strength to harvest your fruit and vegetables. They do not have the strength to influence legislation.”

Not much has changed.

Unfortunately, it is obvious that not much has changed in 50 years.  The SPLC report has some recommendations for Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the states.

While you are enjoying the Thanksgiving food, remember the plight of the many immigrant women who have worked hard to bring you the food.  Also remember their plight if you happen to get into any conversations with an anti-immigration xenophobe.

 

 

A Conservative-dominated National Commission is Expected to Propose Raising the Social Security Age to 70

In 1983, the Social Security retirement age was raised from 65 to 67.  (67 is the full retirement age for people born after 1960.)  On December 1 of this year, the  National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is expected to issue a report that will propose raising the full retirement age from 67 to 70.  The Commission is dominated by conservatives and has the goal of issuing proposals on how to address the national deficit.  However, showing its true conservative colors, it will focus on the long-time conservative goal of cutting Social Security benefits—even though Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.  (Of course, there are many ways to reduce the deficit, but–and I’ll state the obvious here–conservatives have continually thwarted those by, among other strategies, illogically opposing any kind of new taxes and by continually pushing for tax breaks for the richest Americans.  According to the conservatives’ long-standing counterfeit philosophy, the only way to cut the deficit is to cut services, even though the deficit reached record levels under the Reagan and Bush regimes.)

NOW is campaigning to have its supporters contact their members of Congress to show strong opposition to the expected report from the Commission.  NOW says that, if the Commission’s expected proposal to raise the retirement age to 70 is enacted, the reduction in lifetime retirement benefits would be $35,419, which, along with the 1983 reduction, “would slice one-third off the average retiree’s Social Security income.”  NOW also says:

Life expectancy for some women has dropped, not increased – Contrary to the benefit-cutters’ claims, Social Security is not going broke because people are living longer. Rather, a long-range solvency challenge in Social Security comes from the widening income gap between rich and poor. Today, 16 percent of all income is not subject to the payroll tax due to the taxable earnings cap (up to $106,800 annual income) versus only 10 percent in 1983, according to the Social Security Administration. In other words, most of the income for millionaires and billionaires is not subject to the payroll tax. Raising the cap on taxable income or adjusting the payroll tax rate would eradicate the long-term Social Security budget imbalance (National Academy of Social Insurance, 2010), providing a solution that avoids any cut in benefits. Raising the retirement age, said to be justified by a supposed increase in longevity, hurts all workers despite the unequal distribution of increased life expectancy. Men at the top of earnings have experienced a life expectancy increase of 5 years since 1982 while low-income men have seen a life expectancy increase of 1.1 years. For low-income women, life expectancy has in fact decreased.

Often, the monthly Social Security check is the only source of income for elderly women. Many do not have pension income and, after a lifetime of wage discrimination and years out of the paid workforce raising children and caring for sick relatives few women have been able to save and invest sufficiently for their retirement years. If anything, an improvement in Social Security benefits should be made, rather than cutting them.

 

Please go to this NOW page that will allow you to send an e-mail to your member of Congress.