When people talk about March Madness they’re talking about college basketball – who makes the round they call the Sweet Sixteen, and then who makes the Final Four, and then who wins it all – and those who follow such things hope that’s not Duke, as they win it all far too often and that’s really irritating, and no one can spell the coach’s name (Krzyzewski). March can be a real pain. And there’s the old adage, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The month is notoriously difficult, but things settle down, eventually – and April showers bring May flowers and so on. March always opens badly, with a touch of madness. You get used to it.
But this March seems special:
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, announced Thursday that his six-month investigation had found that “probable cause exists indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed” in the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
The publicity-hungry Arpaio, a strong opponent of illegal immigration who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” said the evidence gathered by his investigators suggests Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and selective service registration card are fakes.
“Based on all of the evidence, I cannot in good faith report to you these documents are authentic,” Arpaio said at a press conference in Phoenix, adding that his “investigators believe that the long form birth certificate was manufactured electronically and that it did not originate in the paper format as presented by the White House.”
Yes, Arpaio has been accused by the Justice Department of racial profiling and a federal grand jury is working on abuse-of-power charges against him, and he has his chain gangs and started the nation’s largest tent city for convicted inmates, and he makes all inmates wear pink underwear, and he posts mug shots of all those arrested in the county, even those eventually never charged with anything all – but he calls all this “hard-hitting enforcement methods.” Conservatives love him, and there’s a lot more in this item, but all-in-all his goal here seems to be making sure that Obama’s name at least does not appear on the Arizona ballot in November, as Obama is not eligible to run for president, and never was.
And this presents a problem for the Republican candidates, already seen as a little odd around the edges. Arpaio was Romney’s Arizona campaign chairman in 2008 and one should note this:
Arpaio said last month he had briefed GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on his investigation, and that Santorum said he “had no problems with what I told him that I may be doing.”
Do these guys really want to go along for the ride on this? They’re already putting themselves pretty much on record as being against contraception, and perhaps sex itself, unless performed entirely in the dark, by married couples only, solely for the purpose of creating children and certainly not for fun – and rather hostile to healthcare for women in general, or hostile toward women in general. At least that’s how many read it. And now there’s Arpaio with this Birther stuff. Everyone wanted his endorsement, and now they’re not so sure. March did come in like a lion here.
And there was this:
The Wisconsin state Senate Committee on Public Health, Human Services and Revenue will hold a hearing today on a bill authored by state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) that would force the state to say that “nonmarital parenthood” contributes to child abuse and neglect, and distribute official literature saying as much.
Yes, parents who aren’t married are pretty much guilty of child abuse, no matter how they raise their child, simply because they’re not married. But the bill does not go so far as to classify that as felony child abuse. And of course there is the problem of single-parent households. That would be de facto child abuse there too, so don’t get divorced or become a widow or widower.
But the man has his reasons:
Single parents make up about a third of all Wisconsin parents – all part of a grand leftist conspiracy, according to Grothman. “The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government,” he explained last July.
And it all fits together:
Grothman previously wanted to cut all funding for kindergarten for four-year olds, and introduced a bill that “would change state law retroactively to eliminate the claims of 173 children who are lead poisoning victims” … Grothman was a vocal supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) anti-union bill last year and called activists protesting the bill a “different breed” and “slobs.” Activists tried to recall him, but fell short.
It’s all very curious – March Madness perhaps. But the man is a conservative hero too. He wasn’t recalled.
And then there is the biggest conservative hero of all – by both displacement tonnage and reputation – Rush Limbaugh. And he opened March with a real blast of something or other:
The social issues debate re-ignited on Capitol Hill today when senators killed a proposal to throw out President Obama’s contraception mandate. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh was thrust into the center of the debate after he called the woman who was denied the right to speak on the controversial all-male conception panel at a hearing last month a “slut” on his show Wednesday. The issue heated up more today when Limbaugh took his comments even further.
The conservative radio host’s remarks sparked an angry backlash from House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. But instead of heeding their requests for an apology, Limbaugh doubled down against what he called the “conniption fit” of the House Democrats.
Echoing Foster Friess, the single largest donor to the pro- Rick Santorum’s super PAC, Limbaugh said that he would “happily buy [Fluke] all the aspirin she wants.” Limbaugh was referencing the comment Friess made in February when he said the “gals” in “his day” put aspirin between their legs in lieu of contraception. Limbaugh then expanded his offer to include the university’s entire female student body.
“I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want,” he said.
And to review, Sandra Fluke is that third-year student at Georgetown Law School who was barred from testifying by Darrell Issa, the Republican committee chair at what he called a faith-based House hearing, because he considered her completely unqualified to speak. Issa said the panel was called to discuss religious freedom and, well, Fluke is not a member of any clergy. So there you have it. She eventually spoke to a Democratic hearing called by Nancy Pelosi, where Fluke talked about the need for birth control coverage – she had a friend who needed contraception, really hormonal therapy, to prevent ovarian cysts. Georgetown, nominally a Catholic school, would not cover hormonal therapy, as the pills involved were actually birth control pills. And she couldn’t afford the pills. And that eventually doomed her friend. Such things really should be covered in health plans.
But Rush Limbaugh did not see it that way at all. He said this wasn’t about Fluke’s friend at all. This was about Sandra Fluke. He told America that the reason Fluke cannot afford birth control is because she is having too much damned sex:
“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke 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 agrees that Obama should provide them, or the pope.”
Fluke testified that without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman as much as $3,000 during law school.
“Three thousand dollars for birth control in three years? That’s a thousand dollars a year of sex – and, she wants us to pay for it,” Limbaugh said, adding that high school boys applying to college should consider Georgetown. “They’re admitting before congressional committee that they’re having so much sex they can’t afford the birth control pills!”
The conservative radio host continued: “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? 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. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”
And then, on the first day of March, we got this:
Limbaugh turned up the heat and suggested that women who use insurance-covered birth control should post sex tapes online: “So 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,” he said.
And the reaction was swift:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee drafted a petition today to ask Republican leaders to denounce Limbaugh’s “repulsive attacks on women,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said.
“When it comes to Limbaugh,” Ferguson said, “expect the unexpected. But what should be expected is for Republican leaders to stand up and say they don’t want him to defend them anymore.”
More than 75 Democratic House Members signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday urging him to condemn Limbaugh’s remarks.
And there was total silence from the Republicans. There is of course a long history of various Republican politicians saying this time Rush has gone too far, and the Rush huffing and puffing on the radio, calling them cowards, followed by each and every one of them, every time, backing down and saying Rush had been right, really. This may be the same. Glancing at Sean Hannity this evening on Fox News it was clear he was with Rush too. Only sluts use birth control, and now they want taxpayers to pay for their vile and perverse sexual appetites, and so on.
But this puts the Republicans running for president in a bind. Yes, you can edge back from Sheriff Joe in Arizona, slowly, carefully – but can you distance yourself from Rush? That’s political suicide. You may want to taak about the economy, or gas prices specifically, or Israel and Iran, or the nefarious Chinese and trade issues with them and others, or talk about jobs, or even religious freedom and how the state really must bow to the church or whatever. But Rush says this is all about young sluts looking for hot sex and expecting us to subsidize it. March really did come in like a lion.
And then there was this:
For her part, Fluke released a statement thanking those who went to bat on her behalf and condemning the remarks, though she did not call out anyone by name.
“We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse,” Fluke wrote. “No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”
Do you now say only a total slut would say such things? Do that and you win the Rush vote – the core of the party. Refuse to do that and you lose the vote of most women. Decisions, decisions….
Limbaugh went on to say that Fluke’s testimony was part of a “Democrat plot” to “create a new welfare program and, at the same time, try to cast Republicans in an election year as anti-female.” He described Fluke as “a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her life woman. She wants all the sex in the world whenever she wants it, all the time, no consequences. No responsibility for her behavior.”
Okay. Now what? Oh, this – United States U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Cebull admitted sending a racist email about Obama from his chambers – the subject line was A MOM’S MEMORY:
Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?'” the e-mail joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!'”
Cebull is an eleven-year veteran of the federal bench, put there by George W. Bush. He apologized. He’s not sorry he sent the email but is sorry if any uptight jerks were offended. Not really – he just said he was sorry and sad that anyone was offended, and Steve Benen takes it from there:
Cebull added the email was intended to be a private communication and “was not intended by me in any way to become public.” This, too, is unhelpful. The judge is effectively arguing, “Sure, I sent along an ugly, racist message, but don’t worry, you weren’t supposed to know about it.”
Cebull insists he’s not a racist, and only sent the message because of his hostility towards the president. His weak explanation notwithstanding, a federal judge whose impartiality and lack of prejudice has been called into question has a problem. Going forward, will African Americans in Cebull’s court room have confidence in his professional standards and sense of fairness? Will Democrats?
Travis McAdam, executive director for the Montana Human Rights Network, said. “We have a hard time believing that a legitimate criticism of the president involves distributing a joke that basically compares African Americans with animals.”
At least he didn’t call Obama a slut – just Obama’s late mother. But really, had Obama’s mother used birth control wouldn’t this judge, and Rush, and all the rest, be really quite happy? The Republicans need to work this out.
But it gets even more bizarre:
The federal judge in Montana who forwarded an email which implied that President Barack Obama’s white mother had sex with a dog has initiated a judicial misconduct review by filing a complaint against himself with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Richard Cebull will also issue a formal apology to Obama, Jed Link, a spokesman for Rep. Denny Rehberg, told the Associated Press.
“Judge Cebull apologized and Denny took his apology to be heartfelt and sincere. Judge Cebull also indicated that he is sending a formal apology to President Obama and that he is asking the 9th Circuit to review the matter,” Link said, according to the AP.
The watchdog group Common Cause called for Cebull to resign over the email.
The judge filed a complaint against himself? It’s March Madness.
But there was the anti-madness:
Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a measure that would permit any employer to deny services in their health plan, such as birth control, that they deem morally objectionable. The amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was struck down 51-48 in a motion to table, thanks to virulent opposition by Democrats and one GOP holdout. Democrats are eager to hang the vote around the GOP’s neck in the upcoming elections.
The only Republican who crossed over to help kill the measure, which was aimed at repealing the Obama administration’s birth control mandate, was retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME). Dems are defending 23 Senate seats in the November elections, and running against a GOP they can portray as anti-birth control could help them in some tough races. Democrats are salivating at the prospect of using the votes of vulnerable members, including GOP Sens. Scott Brown (MA) and Dean Heller (NV), against them this year.
And there was the posturing you would expect:
“If Democrats no longer see the value in defending the First Amendment because they don’t think it’s politically expedient to do so, or because they want to protect the President, then Republicans will have to do it for them,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “Please do not allow this abominable policy to stand.”
After the vote, Blunt vowed to continue the battle, while Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) decried the GOP push as “shameful, but not surprising.”
“Women and families across America can breathe a sigh of relief that this radical amendment was blocked by Senate Democrats today,” she said.
Democrats say the religious freedom concerns mask the real issue – women’s health. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) dubbed the Blunt amendment a “contraception ban” that forces women to surrender health decisions to their employers. “So let’s admit what this debate is really and what Republicans really want to take away from millions of American women,” Schumer said. “It is contraception.”
And Rush would say it’s about sluts, women who like sex far too much and even engage in it before they’re even married of all things – or like the federal judge says, sometimes with black men and dogs, like Obama’s mother. Horrors!
But there’s a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll adding some perspective:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans favor President Barack Obama’s policy requiring birth control coverage for female employees, including clear majorities of Roman Catholic, Protestant evangelical and independent voters, a poll showed on Thursday.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 1,500 adults showed public opinion breaking more strongly according to party affiliation than gender on contraceptives, with 83 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents and 42 percent of Republicans favoring the policy.
The Bishops represent a bizarre rump minority view in this country, one that should be roundly mocked and ignored by leaders of a civilized society. If the Bishops can’t even convince their own flock on an issue as important as this, I don’t see why any public policy leader should pay them any heed whatsoever.
Remember that Rick Santorum can’t even beat a seriously damaged, politically inept Mitt Romney in Republican primaries, even with significant Democratic crossover help. The Bishops essentially represent the antediluvian minority of the country that actively supports the likes of Rick Santorum. They can hold whatever beliefs they want, but that doesn’t mean anyone of note has to care.
But Rush cares. This is about sex, really – and women who like sex far too much. Or it’s just March Madness. And Coach K has a pretty good team at Duke this year. Can’t we talk about basketball?