Monday, March 26, 2012

MD Gender Rights Bill Dies

There was broad support for a bill to add gender identity to the state of Maryland's nondiscrimination law, but the bill couldn't get a vote in committee and has now died.

Here is Gender Rights Maryland's report on it, from their web site:
Laurel, MD – March 26, 2012 –– Today marks the crossover date in the Maryland General Assembly for bills to move from one house to the other. It is unfortunate that we cannot report that SB212 is among those in consideration for that process. Unlike efforts last year, SB212 was never put up for a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. There are multiple reasons for why this is the case but for GRMD it comes down to one -- Senate President Miller does not want this bill. It is unfortunate that a single person, despite the will of the people of this state, can decide the fate of so many Marylanders on such life and death matters as the basic civil rights of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Since the end of the 2011 legislative session events in Maryland had clearly indicated that there was strong support for this bill. Governor Martin O’Malley had publicly endorsed the measure in response to the prosecution of a hate crime against Chrissy Lee Polis’ attackers in 2011. Polling results show that 63% of Marylanders support civil rights for trans people. And yet we cannot get forward movement in the Maryland Senate.

That climate did however bear fruit with those legislators that seem to be more closely in tune with their communities. Howard and Baltimore Counties were brave enough to put forward these civil rights for their residents. GRMD was an integral part of those efforts and we are proud of the addition of gender identity protections for over one million additional Marylanders in 2012. This brings the total coverage to 2.6 million Marylanders. This should be considered remarkable progress considering that momentum in this space has been dormant since 2007. GRMD is proud to have played a strong role along with PFLAG and other allies in moving this legislation to law. Gender Rights Maryland Statement on SB212 and the General Assembly Crossover Date
This is disappointing but not entirely a surprise. There was a great wave of energy supporting the state's marriage equality legislation earlier in the session, and that sort of eclipsed this unrelated measure and drained enthusiasm from it.

There is no reason for the two bills to compete. Democrat Thomas “Mike” Miller, the Maryland Senate president, reportedly said earlier in the year that he only had time “for one gay bill this session,” and so he let this one wither on the vine. I don't know where a principle like that comes from, but there you go, Maryland, the "One Gay Bill" State. Maryland's transgender community will gain their rights county by county in time, and our heroic state legislators will be satisfied to pass "one gay bill" per session.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trans Beauty Kicked Out of Pageant

This is an interesting twist on an old story. MSNBC has it:
The organizers for Miss Universe Canada yanked a transgender contestant from the pageant, saying that although she may feel like a woman, rules say she must be born one, the Toronto Star reported.

Denis Davila, the national director of the Miss Universe Canada franchise, told the Vancouver Sun that the contestant, Jenna Tacklova, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote on her registration that she was born female. He suspected that she was born male and asked her about it earlier this month. She was dismissed that day.

Davila said that the Miss Universe franchise requires that contestants be “naturally born female,” according to the Sun.

“She feels like a real girl and she is a real girl. She didn’t expect people to question it,” Davila told the Sun. “She was hoping we could put her back in the competition, but the rules are very clear and there’s no way we can go back on it.”

He added: “She was excited about the competition. Just because she can’t compete doesn’t mean we stopped loving her.”

Those rules are not mentioned on the Miss Universe website, which states that contestants must be unmarried and 18 years or older. Miss Universe Canada organizers boot transgender contestant
I am not comfortable with the wording of this article. Jenna Tacklova was born however she was born, if she is female then she was born female. Transgender people do not "change their sex," they change their identity and self-presentation to match the sex they already were. The doctor apparently reported at birth that she was male, but unfortunately you cannot ask a baby what sex they are, you have to go by certain external physical signs, and some small proportion of the time the physical characteristics are ambiguous -- or wrong.

But the interesting thing here is that her transgender nature almost certainly makes it harder rather than easier to win a beauty contest. This story says that she started hormone therapy when she was fourteen, which was probably after puberty and the emergence of physiological characteristics of the male body.

This is kind of opposite to the more familiar story where a transgender woman competes in a sporting event, having grown up with the muscular strength of a man. I am actually somewhat sympathetic with ciswomen who complain in that situation, I don't know what the nondiscriminatory solution is but athletic competitions are separated by sex largely because of differences in male and female physical strength.

In this case, though, Jenna Tacklova (who is obviously a knockout) is competing in what amounts to a femininity competition, where she would seem to have an actual disadvantage. I can't see any reason to keep her out of it, can you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Lot of People Wondering This

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Komen Falling Apart

I have never seen the American people come together like they did when the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" Foundation de-funded Planned Parenthood. With all their cute pink stuff and good-guy reputation for helping women fight breast cancer, they had been bringing in donations by the gazillions. Meanwhile, the place had secretly been infiltrated by anti-choicers who passed a benign-sounding rule that allowed them to stop funding Planned Parenthood, just like that.

And guess what, Planned Parenthood got more money in personal donations than this big organization had given them. And guess what else, nobody wants to have anything to do with Komen any more.

Now, nearly two months later, Huffington Post has this:
Two top executives at Susan G. Komen for the Cure have announced their resignation, amid reports that the breast cancer charity is struggling to raise money and repair its reputation after its decision to defund Planned Parenthood and subsequent reversal.
Katrina McGhee, Komen's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, privately announced several weeks ago that she will be stepping down on May 4, and Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of Komen's New York City affiliate, announced her resignation on Tuesday. Both cited "personal" reasons and declined to elaborate. Susan G. Komen Executives Resign Amid Reports Of Internal Troubles
Americans love Planned Parenthood. I wonder what percentage of young women get their birth control pills there, what percentage of poor women go there for health services. They provide a good service, a necessary service.

Komen shot themselves in the foot. All they needed was a bunch of pink stuff and keep cheerleading for women, who could be against that? Everybody could be in easy six-figures. But they blew it.
Susan G. Komen Greater New York City recently decided to postpone its annual fundraising gala because executives "were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term," spokesperson Vern Calhoun said in a statement.
A Komen insider told HuffPost that "employee morale is in the toilet" since Komen leadership made the controversial decision to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's most prominent women's health and family planning organizations. The move was led by anti-abortion executive Karen Handel, then Komen's senior vice president for public policy, who has since resigned.
"Brinker in complete meltdown," the source wrote to HuffPost. "People want her to resign but she won't."
Yeah, that's tough, isn't it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bad Priest Speaks Out

Recently a priest in Gaithersburg, Father Marcel Guarnizo, decided that the Church would not want him to serve communion to a grieving lesbian woman, Barbara Johnson, at her mother's funeral, nor should he stand listening respectfully while she delivered her eulogy. Further, the priest decided that the Church would not want him to go to the gravesite to say a prayer over the casket when he had a headache.

Shortly thereafter the Church suspended him. The Bishop's statement made it sound like he was suspended not for cold and hateful behavior toward a grieving daughter, but because he was a jerk to the people he worked with. And the question is, where does the Church actually stand on the topic of denying communion to LGBT people in times of despair and need?

Now the priest has issued a statement through CNS News:
If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with Canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church. Father Marcel Guarnizo: 'I Did The Only Thing a Faithful Catholic Priest Could Do'

After denying Ms. Johnson communion, he says, he felt a migraine coming on during the eulogies and slipped away to recover. He says he accompanied the body to the hearse and then told the funeral director he couldn't go on because of his headache.

None of it was his fault. People blocked his way, his head hurt, people said the wrong things to him. It happens all the time, priests get stuck in traffic and stuff, he said.

I am skipping through this longish statement.
But I am going to defend my conduct in these instances, because what happened I believe contains a warning to the church. Such circumstances can and will be repeated multiple times over if the local church does not make clear to all Catholics that openly confessing sin is something one does to a priest in the confessional, not minutes before the Mass in which the Holy Eucharist is given.

I am confident that my own view, that I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation, quietly, with no intention to hurt or embarrass, will be upheld.

Otherwise, any priest could--and many will--face the cruelest crisis of conscience that can be imposed. It seems to me, the lack of clarity on this most basic issue puts at risk other priests who wish to serve the Catholic Church in Washington D.C.

Before the funeral, Barbara Johnson had introduced herself to the priest, and introduced her lover, who she referred to as "my lover." This priest considers that an instance of "openly confessing sin" and figures she deserved to be punished, which of course any Catholic priest will understand and agree with, according to him.

And that is the question -- is this guy on his own, or is this how it's going to be?

It is important that the Church authorities moved relatively quickly to relieve Guarnizo of his duties, it is a sign that the higher-ups are aware that he screwed up. But the Bishop's letter removing Guarnizo's "priestly faculties" made no mention of the anti-gay gesture, no mention of the incident at all. While a few days after the funeral there was a sympathetic letter from the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington to Ms. Johnson apologizing for "a lack of pastoral sensitivity," the pastor who announced the priest's suspension at St. John Neumann Catholic Church made it clear that the removal was not related to the funeral incident, but "pertains to actions over the past week or two."

The Catholic Church has been an energetic and well-organized enemy of gay rights, and we do not expect any kind of statement saying that lesbians are cool or anything, that is not the question. The problem is that the Church's failure to mention this hateful act in relieving the priest from his duties could almost be seen as an endorsement. They said he was suspended because he "has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry." How about intentionally breaking somebody's heart on what might be the worst day of their life, when they are burying their mother? Apparently not a problem.

The Church has a very well-known transparency problem, and they are not doing anything here to make it better. A priest withheld communion from a grieving daughter at the one time she most needed it, the funeral of her mother who she loved, and the Church should be able to figure out how to make a statement condemning that act of hatred without seeming to take sides on the issue of homosexuality. In failing to do so, they seem to imply that this is fair play.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rush Has the Right to Speak

I am finding it fascinating to watch how our society deals with the recent outbreak of overt misogyny on the right. We are a people with traditions, most of us descended from immigrants who come from lands with traditions, our way of life developed in an agricultural economy that supported a pretty strict separation of gender roles and then everything changed. There is a revolution going on but we are taking our time with it, learning how to adapt to an economy where women are equal to men in every way. Amazing progress has been made in the last fifty years but we have not yet emerged into the new era.

In this transitional state we saw the amazing reaction when the Susan B. Komen Foundation, all in pink and apparently supporting women's health, decided to de-fund Planned Parenthood as part of a rightwing stealth campaign against abortion services. Their decision was met with outrage from across the country, as it turned out that Americans actually love their Planned Parenthood. As a country we humor our anti-abortion neighbors, we don't argue about it at dinner parties but when you get down to it, most Americans understand that the service needs to be available so women can choose to use it, or not -- most thoughtful people understand that.

Then there is the Rush Limbaugh debacle. Listen, you know he talks like that every day, right? He's been doing it for decades. But when ordinary people were exposed to his foul talk they were sickened. Again, we're polite, we don't discuss politics at dinner, but when you get down to it most people are decent and reject extreme beliefs like Limbaugh's.

Interesting opinion by Scott Blakeman in Huffington Post this morning. One representative paragraph:
The true test of defending freedom of speech is whether you defend speech that is hateful and totally without any redeeming value whatsoever, like what Rush Limbaugh said. Because once you start making exceptions to free speech, you are on a path to losing the right to speak freely altogether. I Hate What Limbaugh Said and Support His Right to Say It

This thinking is dangerously confused, it's like religious nuts who claim their freedom of speech is threatened when people don't want to listen to their hateful statements. You don't have to defend something just because somebody says it. Discrimination is a good thing sometimes.

Rush Limbaugh has every ounce of freedom of speech that the Constitution guarantees him. You can invite him to your house so he can call your daughter a slut and if you enjoy that you can invite him again sometime. He can book himself in an auditorium and call every woman in the place a slut and a prostitute, he can ask everyone on birth control to post movies of themselves having sex on the Internet. He is free to do that.

The irony of course is that it is not the government that is choking off his speech, the Obama administration hasn't censored him -- he is being stopped by the free enterprise system that he claims to believe in.

They say now that he has lost 140 advertisers, and according to MSNBC, "Premiere Networks, the syndicator of Rush Limbaugh’s show, plans to suspend national advertising for two weeks." Without advertising he has no job and no platform for his free speech.

You might have heard the saying, "There is freedom of the press for those who have one." You have the right to publish anything, but that doesn't mean anyone is going to pay the costs to print it and distribute it. Same here, Rush has the right to say anything he wants, but if people don't want to hear it, if there is no market for it, then he will be speaking freely to himself. Oh, maybe fans want to hear him insult people, but the great majority of people oppose what he is saying to the point that, when they go into the store to buy things, they might decide not to choose a product made by a company that advertises on Rush's show.

Let's not confuse these two important concepts, freedom of speech and the necessity of people to regulate themselves. In our little county we have a group of people who take every opportunity to say terrible things about gay and transgender people, and they have the right to do it. The government can't stop them, and I wouldn't want them to. But we have a responsibility as decent citizens to speak out against them, to use facts and reason where they express prejudice and hatred. Democracy and freedom can only work if people participate. Someone may have the right to say something without government interference, but we are not required to stand by and listen politely.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Rush Crumbling?

Rush Limbaugh has, for years, exemplified the very worst in American talk. I would not say "American thought," because his performances skip that step. He shoots from the hip and normally whatever random target he hits goes down, his audience is loyal and large, he and his dog-pack followers have ruined more than one career since he started in 1984. There is nothing uplifting in what he says, nothing constructive, his message is that the individual should consider himself (and not herself, his audience is nearly entirely male) the center of the universe and treat anything peripheral with disdain, disrespect, and disgust.

He has millions of listeners but generally he talks for several hours a day on the radio and nobody outside his fan-club pays any attention. If you don't buy his point of view he is impossible to listen to, and so the media typically do not report on his statements and people outside his hermetically sealed universe rarely know what is going on there.

For some reason Rush's recent rants about a Georgetown law student got publicized outside the fishbowl, normal people saw the transcripts and the video of Limbaugh rolling around in his chair in front of his microphone, extemporizing about the sex life of a young woman he has never met but would like to watch having sex on the Internet.

And once people saw what he was saying, they did not like it. Companies that have paid millions to support Limbaugh's venomous rhetoric for years started hearing from their customers, who are not pleased with them. The companies are responding by pretending they never knew that this was how the guy talks on the radio. Surely, they say, Rush Limbaugh does not speak for them when he says these things. Though, of course, he has been saying these same kinds of things for thirty years. The only difference this week is that he was exposed to people outside his ordinary audience of disaffected and politically impotent males.

Media Matters for America reported yesterday that fifty companies have withdrawn their advertising from Rush Limbaugh's show. They monitored WABC in New York on March 8th and found:
  • A total of 86 ads aired during WABC's broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show today
  • 77 of those ads were public service announcements donated free of charge by the Ad Council
  • Of the nine paid spots that ran, seven were from companies that have said they have taken steps to ensure their ads no longer air during the program
  • WABC's online feed included about 5:33 of dead air when ads would normally have run.
    Rush Limbaugh's Advertisers, March 8

In the meantime, Politico is reporting that Limbaugh's web site has purged transcripts of the parts where he called Sandra Fluke a slut and prostitute:
Type in the word “slut” in the archive search bar on, and you’re told: “No results found. Please try another search.”

Type in the word “prostitute,” and you get plenty of results, including a link to “Butt Sister are Safe from Newt and Rick” – the transcript from the first time Limbaugh made his derogatory comments about law student Sandra Fluke last Wednesday. The only problem is, when you click on the link (it was included in a POLITICO story last week), you are routed to a blank white page.

The same is true for the link to “Left Freaks Out Over My Fluke Remarks,” which should house Limbaugh’s continued attacks against Fluke from the next day.

I would not predict at this time that Rush Limbaugh is toast. His followers include the leadership of the Republican Party and his comments were directly on target for the party's campaign message, which is usually kept at a subliminal level, but because Rush is an "entertainer" he can say things in public that the profession politicians can only mutter in closed meetings. There is a lot of money behind the GOP and I am not convinced that any candidate has the courage to challenge Rush head-on -- they may even save him. He has issued apologies but they are a joke.

Not surprisingly, his ratings have surged in the past week. There is no shortage of frustrated men who believe that women with opinions are sluts and prostitutes, and this has been good for his ratings in the short run. And you know that if there are listeners there will be advertisers -- Rush's demographic is male and prosperous and the companies would like to sell stuff to them. Let's watch and see if they come creeping back.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursday Science Report

Here's the abstract from a paper in the current issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (the APS is the association for scientific psychology, as distinct from the practice of psychotherapy. The APA tries to cater to both but ends up favoring the clinicians).
Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models. Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact

I'm not sure if you have to be a member to access that site. If not, Discover magazine has a good explanation of the paper that goes into some of the data and the cognitive model that is proposed. The author of the Discover article is conservative, by the way, and has anecdotes to undermine the academic publication, but he explains it well and does not challenge the result. Abstract reasoning ability correlates negatively with right-wing authoritarianism and negatively with prejudice against homosexuals, but the prejudice was greater for right-wing authoritarians. On the other hand, contact with homosexuals was positively correlated with abstract reasoning ability and negatively correlated with prejudice against them.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Latest Baffling Round of Misogyny

There is an argument going around that the Obama team manipulated rightwingers into making statements opposing contraception, one of those eleven-dimensional-chess moves. And that's cool, it's politics, they back him into a corner when they can, it's only fair if the Democrats force the Republicans to say some things they will regret later. I didn't see how they did it, but the last couple of weeks have just been bizarre, with the all-male Congressional contraception panel and then this thing that Russ Limbaugh has started.

When it's just an idiot shooting his mouth off I usually ignore it here on the blog, unless it reflects directly on our county or is so insanely irrational that you just have to comment on it. But this week conservatives have gone off the deep end, it wasn't just Rush, they're all getting behind him.

A young lady, Sandra Fluke, was going to testify before a Republican Congressional committee but they only wanted men and so she gave a statement at a Democratic-sponsored hearing. She said that it is important for health insurance to cover birth control pills.

You cannot overestimate how popular this opinion is. The birth control pill has changed life fundamentally, it has freed women from the risk of pregnancy, given them personal control over their own reproductive choices. Where the shift to an information economy has moved women closer to equality in the workplace, the pill empowered women sexually. It allows couples to decide when they will have children. It is not expensive and does not seem to have negative side-effects. There is no downside to this, the birth control pill is one of those rare things that is all good.

You never heard of this young woman, she's a law student at Georgetown, thirty years old. Here's what Rush had to say about her:
What does it say about the college co-ed (Sandra) Fluke 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? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex...

If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, 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 ...

This might be a new low in US political discourse, but it is more than that. To call a woman a slut is something special, it is purely a term of bigotry, slut is not a term that has any meaning outside the frame of paternalistic control of women's sexuality.

"Prostitute" has a meaning, "slut" does not, it is nothing more than a word intended to shame women who have a positive attitude about sex.

There was a day of silence after Limbaugh said this about the law student, as everyone wondered, what are the conservatives supposed to do now? He is their leader, they can't go against him. But how can they seriously support this kind of thing? The woman has appeared on a number of television shows, we have seen her, she is a pleasant, level-headed, serious young woman, it is extremely difficult to fit her into the category "slut."

It would have been very easy to make the point without name-calling, without making the misogyny explicit. Rush, or any other commenter, could have said that insurance companies should not cover contraception, since it is not necessary blah blah blah. It is not a solid argument, especially since we know that Rush likes his Viagra, which is covered by most policies, but he could have made it without calling this woman a slut.

So the rest of them avoided questions about it for a day, then one by one they fell in line behind him. What can they be thinking?

First, all women know the power of the word "slut," they know how painful it is and how careful you have to be to avoid it being applied to you. So bang, one, the GOP just lost fifty percent of the voters. Then the other half, well it turns out there are some men who actually appreciate women's sexuality and hope to encourage it.

But this isn't even about that. Sandra Fluke didn't do anything sexual, as far as anybody knows she is a virgin. She is a slut, according to Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans who kiss his butt, because she advocates a policy. She made a statement that insurance companies should cover contraception for women.

The case has been made that birth-control pills are used for more than contraception, but that doesn't matter. Even if all they did was prevent pregnancy, the position is solid. Birth control pills are controlled by the medical establishment, prescribed by doctors, produced by pharmaceutical companies, distributed alongside other medications. Birth control is a health topic, by convention, and health insurance policies should cover it.

If you look closely at the concept of health you will see fuzzy boundaries on all sides. How did depression, for instance, become a health issue? How did kids not paying attention in school become a health issue? What "health" problem is treated by Viagra? There are products now that regulate a woman's menstrual cycle, allowing her to have control over her susceptibility to become pregnant. In any sense of the word that I can think of, this is a "health" issue and should be covered by health insurance.

At least, making that argument does not make someone a slut.

In a recent post I talked about my discomfort with "war on" terminology for every little thing, in particular I do not like to call this a "Republican war on women." Until recently, the ideology has been shapeless and vague. Republicans can oppose abortion, for instance, and no one is surprised, they can cite some religious authorities and say something about "the sanctity of life" and so on, they can pass laws stripping the right to choose from women. Laws about rape can have a sexist core to them, laws about sexual harassment, mostly people understand the game and tolerate the nonsense on the right. There is some sense in America that if you gave women total control over their lives things might get out of hand, and so the population accepts some conservative imposition on their personal autonomy. But this focuses the ideology, calling a woman a slut because she supports a policy you don't like is nothing but sexism, nothing but hatred of women, nothing but misogyny. There is nothing to hide behind here, no vagueness, no fog of obfuscatory rhetoric to soften the cut.

Some of us are old enough to remember when "The Pill" was a big deal, but that was a long time ago, the controversy is long settled. When women can own their sexuality without the consequences of pregnancy, the playing-field is leveled in a way that is frightening to some. Sex for women is not all about babies any more, and this is a huge change in the foundation of a complex social system that includes all aspects of our daily interactions with others. The impact of the change has not yet been fully appreciated, but the shockwave is slowly being absorbed into our social habits.

And some people are not so happy about this new challenge. If sex isn't about making babies, then what is it about? Maybe women will begin to expect sexual satisfaction, oh horror! So in a crazy game of whack-a-mole, conservative men have had to label women who expect sexual equality as "sluts" and keep them in their place.

Maybe the Republicans who support Rush's idiocy believe that all men agree with them, that there is a 50/50 ideological split, where all women want birth control and all men oppose it. But I don't think they are that stupid. No one who watches Sandra Fluke in an interview believes she is a slut -- the whole argument is absurd and hateful, and everybody knows it.

Do they think this will win them votes in November? Do they really think this position will become popular, once people have a chance to think about it?

There are some times that the Nutty Ones say something and I have to shake my head, times that I really can't understand how a non-psychotic person can believe some of the things they say they believe. But most of the time I have some way of understanding that people will cling to their social norms, for instance. But this -- this isn't even a norm! Nobody actually believes this law student is a slut, there is no evidence one way or the other about her sex life and nobody is really even asking about it. In fact, nobody really believes that insurance should not cover birth control. You don't see a lot of Republicans with fifteen or twenty kids, they are doing something to prevent pregnancy, and their insurance is paying for it.

But this country has two parties, a liberal one and a conservative one, you will choose between two candidates for various offices in November. There is a lot of money behind the Republican Party, they aren't just shooting their mouths off, they have a plan, a strategy of some sort. And that is what puzzles me -- how do they believe they can turn this to their advantage? The only way I can see it is if one of the Republican candidates came out and said, "Rush is a big fat idiot." But you're not going to see that. They support him in their gutless way. But why? I am baffled.