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“Honoring The Value Of Owners”: LDS Church-Owned Radio Station Stands By Rush Limbaugh

More than forty advertisers—from Allstate Insurance to Sears—and two radio stations have dumped Rush Limbaugh since he went on the offensive against Sandra Fluke, calling the Georgetown student a “slut” and “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage for contraceptive medications.

But not KTTH 770 AM in Seattle, Washington; a station owned and operated by Bonneville Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As protests mounted Monday, a KTTH spokesperson defended Limbaugh, using a boilerplate statement from his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks:

AM 770 The Truth is committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary. The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. Radio can be and has been a great platform for a lively exchange of ideas as we seek to provide understanding. In this case, we wish Mr. Limbaugh would have been more civil in his treatment of the topic and his characterization of those involved, but we respect his right, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.

Here are the Limbaugh “opinions” Bonneville-owned KTTH would defend, as voiced on-air February 29 and March 1:

“What does it say about the college coed Susan 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.”

“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and 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.”

“She’s having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk.”

“Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?”

“So, Ms. 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, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

All of this in response to Ms. Fluke’s efforts to testify in support of employer-provided health care coverage that includes prescription birth control medicine used by millions of American women not only for contraception but also for cancer prevention and treatment of polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.

LDS Church-subsidiary Bonneville International owns 29 radio stations. It is one of seven religiously-owned or affiliated national radio networks, including the American Family Association network (165 stations), Bible Broadcasting Network (37 stations), Educational Media Association (290 stations), Family Stations (67 stations), Moody Bible Institute (36 stations), and the for-profit Christian broadcaster Salem Communications (97 stations—for-profit Christian broadcaster).

No other religiously-owned or affiliated radio network in the country airs Rush Limbaugh—except the LDS-owned Bonneville International.

In October 2010, LDS/Bonneville-owned KSL radio in Salt Lake City dumped political commentator Sean Hannity, a move some viewed as an effort to align programming with a recently adopted corporate mission and values statement including the following points:

“I honor principles espoused by our owner in the products and services I provide.”
“I promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.”
“I seek to lift, inspire, and help others find enduring happiness.”
“I seek to instill light and knowledge in my work.”

How does Rush Limbaugh’s crass misogyny (and public humiliation of a civilian) honor the values of its owners?

 

BY: Joanna Brooks, Religion Dispatches, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Family Values, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ignorance Is Strength”: What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt

One way in which Americans have always been exceptional has been in our support for education. First we took the lead in universal primary education; then the “high school movement” made us the first nation to embrace widespread secondary education. And after World War II, public support, including the G.I. Bill and a huge expansion of public universities, helped large numbers of Americans to get college degrees.

But now one of our two major political parties has taken a hard right turn against education, or at least against education that working Americans can afford. Remarkably, this new hostility to education is shared by the social conservative and economic conservative wings of the Republican coalition, now embodied in the persons of Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

And this comes at a time when American education is already in deep trouble.

About that hostility: Mr. Santorum made headlines by declaring that President Obama wants to expand college enrollment because colleges are “indoctrination mills” that destroy religious faith. But Mr. Romney’s response to a high school senior worried about college costs is arguably even more significant, because what he said points the way to actual policy choices that will further undermine American education.

Here’s what the candidate told the student: “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And, hopefully, you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Wow. So much for America’s tradition of providing student aid. And Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous and destructive than you may be aware, given what’s been happening lately to American higher education.

For the past couple of generations, choosing a less expensive school has generally meant going to a public university rather than a private university. But these days, public higher education is very much under siege, facing even harsher budget cuts than the rest of the public sector. Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise; in California, support is down by 20 percent.

One result has been soaring fees. Inflation-adjusted tuition at public four-year colleges has risen by more than 70 percent over the past decade. So good luck on finding that college “that has a little lower price.”

Another result is that cash-strapped educational institutions have been cutting back in areas that are expensive to teach — which also happen to be precisely the areas the economy needs. For example, public colleges in a number of states, including Florida and Texas, have eliminated entire departments in engineering and computer science.

The damage these changes will inflict — both to our nation’s economic prospects and to the fading American dream of equal opportunity — should be obvious. So why are Republicans so eager to trash higher education?

It’s not hard to see what’s driving Mr. Santorum’s wing of the party. His specific claim that college attendance undermines faith is, it turns out, false. But he’s right to feel that our higher education system isn’t friendly ground for current conservative ideology. And it’s not just liberal-arts professors: among scientists, self-identified Democrats outnumber self-identified Republicans nine to one.

I guess Mr. Santorum would see this as evidence of a liberal conspiracy. Others might suggest that scientists find it hard to support a party in which denial of climate change has become a political litmus test, and denial of the theory of evolution is well on its way to similar status.

But what about people like Mr. Romney? Don’t they have a stake in America’s future economic success, which is endangered by the crusade against education? Maybe not as much as you think.

After all, over the past 30 years, there has been a stunning disconnect between huge income gains at the top and the struggles of ordinary workers. You can make the case that the self-interest of America’s elite is best served by making sure that this disconnect continues, which means keeping taxes on high incomes low at all costs, never mind the consequences in terms of poor infrastructure and an undertrained work force.

And if underfunding public education leaves many children of the less affluent shut out from upward mobility, well, did you really believe that stuff about creating equality of opportunity?

So whenever you hear Republicans say that they are the party of traditional values, bear in mind that they have actually made a radical break with America’s tradition of valuing education. And they have made this break because they believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt them.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Education | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Knuckle Dragging Haters”: Rush Limbaugh Plants Seeds Of Division In Scorched Earth Of Hate

Whenever a conservative is the subject of national scorn — as Rush Limbaugh is today with his leering Dirty Old Man attacks on a lone college student or former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was a few years ago with his cheerleading for Dixiecrat racism — the Right Wing Noise Machine seamlessly swings into damage control mode.

One of the Right’s favorite tactics is to find some example, however tenuous, of liberals committing a similar offense that not only exonerates the earlier conservative outrage but also allows conservatives to call liberals hypocrites for their criticisms of them.

And thus, as New Republic’s Timothy Noah notes, with sponsors abandoning Rush Limbaugh’s golden microphone over his scandalous attacks on Sandra Fluke, all we are hearing from conservatives is that the liberal’s own record on civility is not squeaky clean.

Yet, as Noah says, “liberals get defined pretty broadly by the Right to include rappers, blogger Matt Taibbi calling Andrew Breitbart a “douche” in his obit, Keith Olbermann calling Michele Malkin a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it,” Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” and a “dumb twat,” and Ed Schultz calling Laura Ingraham a “slut.”

Pretty vile stuff. So, how is what Rush did to Fluke any different, conservatives want to know.

It’s different in two ways says Noah. First, he says, “all of the people who were subjected to verbal abuse by the liberal- or left-leaning blowhards and smart-asses mentioned above are public figures.”

And because they are public figures they are presumably accustomed to attacks like these and have the means to defend themselves.

Second, says Noah, none of the liberal media personalities cited by conservatives “is so feared by President Obama or any other Democrat that said Democrat would hesitate to criticize him if the occasion warranted it.

“That isn’t necessarily because Democrats “are braver people,” says Noah. “It’s because there is no rapper or liberal or leftist commentator or talk-radio host or comedian who commands anything equivalent to the knuckle-dragging army of haters that Limbaugh leads on the right.”

And this leads me to the more important point that Noah might have missed: The real difference is that right wing conservatives benefit from Limbaugh’s tirades in ways that liberals do not from the misbehavior of their favorite media personalities.

This is why Ed Schulz was able to take himself off the air without pay for a week for his momentary lapse of judgment and ill-considered remark about Ingraham while Limbaugh is constitutionally incapable of apologizing for three days of continuous attacks against a lone, brave college student. His business model won’t allow it.

All of those sad and lonely guys, pissed off at their wives and girlfriends, driving around in their pick-up trucks or SUV and shouting “hell yeah” whenever Limbaugh takes off after women, would lose all respect for Rush if he ever backed down. So he can’t. And that is why his “apology” to Ms. Fluke was no apology at all but was instead a rather badly disguised attack on the left, which he said would never bully one of its own the way they bullied him.

Apologies are usually delibered with humility not hubris. But this is just one manifestation of the difference between liberal and conservative media in which liberals are merely audiences for their media while conservatives are citizens of theirs — whether it’s Fox “Nation,” Hannity’s “America,” Rush Limbaugh’s “Dittohead Nation.”

Conservative media are about creating a new political party and a new nation not merely a ratings demographic. That is why conservative media figures always respond to criticisms from the left by citing the size of their audience — my tribe is bigger than your tribe so I must be right.

Thus, conservative media is culture-changing in ways that liberal media isn’t. So don’t expect Republicans to sign petitions to boycott Limbaugh’s program anytime soon because there is method to Limbaugh’s madness.

The reason Republicans don’t attack Limbaugh for his outrageous remarks is not so much that they fear his retribution (which they do) but that he makes it easier for the Koch Brothers and other Republican Oligarchs to plant the seeds of their “survival of the fittest” conservative dogmas in the scorched earth of anger and hatred and bigotry that Limbaugh — and Coulter and Hannity and O’Reilly — have plowed for them with outrageous smears just like this that serve to coarsen our political culture.

A liberal society — and by extension a liberal social program with the taxes on the rich that go with it — cannot survive in a harsh climate where empathy and compassion are dirty words that stand for values which have been obliterated altogether. And that is why Limbaugh and the others make the big bucks.

 

By: Ted Frier, Open Salon Blog, Salon, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights, Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Making Exceptions To The Right To Vote”: Bad News For Voting Rights In Swing States

Pennsylvania is a large, crucial swing state that leans a bit more Democratic than its neighbor Ohio. President Obama must win Pennsylvania if he is to retain the White House. That’s about to become more difficult.

Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed a bill Wednesday—on a mostly party-line vote—to require that voters show photo identification in order to vote. Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, supports the bill and will sign it into law once the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives passes it. Voter identification laws disenfranchise those without a photo ID. Multiple studies have shown that people without IDs are more likely to belong to a Democratic-leaning constituency, such as low-income, minority or young voters. It can also fall especially hard on people with disabilities and the elderly. That’s why Democrats oppose such a law. And as the Associated Press reports, “Counties, civil liberties advocates, labor unions, the AARP and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also objected to the bill.”

The AP also notes, “The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania has warned lawmakers that adding the additional step of requiring poll workers to check photo IDs will create longer Election Day lines at polling places.” Long lines at polling booths can cause people to give up and go home. That happened in many Ohio polling places in 2004. Some experts, such as Mark Crispin Miller of New York University, argue that those problems in Ohio may have thrown the election to President Bush.

The Pennsylvania bill is actually more moderate than many of its progenitors in states such as Georgia. Valid identification includes a student ID card from a Pennsylvania college or university, identification from a personal care home or employee cards for county or municipal workers. Voters without identification will be able to cast provisional ballots. However, they would then have to return within six days to prove their eligibility. Such an onerous burden will often go unmet, meaning votes will be thrown out.

Pennsylvania would become the third-largest state, after Texas and Florida, to require voters to produce photo identification. Florida is another large, important swing state. Voting rights have long been a contentious issue in Florida. Many Democrats and civil rights leaders believe that Governor Jeb Bush’s administration allowed George W. Bush to beat Al Gore in Florida in 2000 by ordering a purge of the names of felons from voting rolls. Such purges often ensnare legitimate voters with the same names and prevent them from voting. Thanks to the War on Drugs, felons in Florida are disproportionately black and Latino, as are people with the misfortune to share their names.

African-American Democratic state senators in Florida are trying to find ways to expand opportunities for citizens to vote, but Republicans are stymieing them. As the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday:

Deciding that the proposal was off topic, Senate leaders refused to allow African-American senators to tag a proposal expanding early voting onto voter identification legislation.

Sen. Chris Smith, D-Ft. Lauderdale, filed an amendment to HB 1461 that would have given counties the option of opening early voting locations on the Sunday before an election day. Last year, the Legislature approved sweeping new election law that, among other things, limited early voting hours and prohibited early voting within 72 hours of an election.

Don’t worry, though, that Florida Senate Republicans have abandoned civil rights altogether. They made sure to amend the bill to prevent voting clerks from scanning the photo IDs they require voters to show. As the Herald reports:

Senators approved a different amendment sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. That proposal allows voters to opt out of having their driver licenses scanned at the polls.

The state’s supervisors of elections requested the option of scanning licenses, saying it will expedite the registration process during high-turnout election days. But Negron said civil liberties were at stake and people should be allowed to vote without potentially giving poll workers access to private information.

“This is the defining moment of the Libertarian caucus of the Senate,” Negron said while urging senators to approve his amendment.

It passed on a voice vote, eliciting cheers from conservative senators.

“Freedom,” Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, shouted after the vote while pumping his fists in the air.

This is a twofer for Republicans: they get to pose as defenders of small government, while ensuring long lines thanks to the ID requirement. Tea Party Republicans say they support civil liberties, but they make a big exception for the right to vote.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights, Democracy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republican “Field Of Hawks”: Apocalyptic And Less Than Forthright Rhetoric

Unless Ron Paul somehow wins the nomination, it looks as if a vote for the Republican presidential candidate this fall will be a vote for war with Iran.

No other conclusion can be drawn from parsing the candidates’ public remarks. Paul, of course, is basically an isolationist who believes it is none of our business if Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. He questions even the use of sanctions, such as those now in force. But Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have all sought to portray President Obamaas weak on national security — a traditional Republican line of attack. They have tried to accuse Obama of being insufficiently committed to Israel’s defense. In the process, they’ve made bellicose pledges about Iran that almost surely would lead straight to conflict.

Santorum’s apocalyptic rhetoric about Iran practically takes for granted an imminent clash. Gingrich would essentially abdicate the decision to Israeli leaders, giving them the green light for an attack whenever they choose.

Romney, the likely nominee, has been somewhat more circumspect — and less forthright. He published an op-ed in The Post this week blasting Obama’s foreign policy as “feckless” and promising that, under a Romney administration, things would be different. He then went on to outline the steps he would take in dealing with Iran — most of which turn out to be steps Obama has already taken.

“I will press for ever-tightening sanctions.” Check. “I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents.” Check. “I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute.” Check. “I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option.” Check.

Romney’s only new initiatives would be to make Jerusalem the destination of his first foreign trip and to deploy an additional aircraft carrier group in the region. I imagine the intent would be to show Iranian leaders that they are isolated and under siege, but I think they get that already.

In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — a pro-Israel lobbying group — Romney was much more specific in establishing his bottom line: “We must not allow Iran to have the bomb or the capacity to make a bomb.” It is difficult to imagine how this statement can lead anywhere but to war.

U.S. policy under Obama — and previous administrations — has been that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to have nuclear weapons. The clear implication is that, while military force is an option that could be employed at any time, including the present, force will be employed if Iran tries to make a bomb.

To say that Iran must never have “the capacity to make a bomb,” as Romney does, is to draw a line that has already been crossed.

Does capacity mean having the fuel for a bomb? Iran knows how to produce the enriched uranium that would be used in a bomb, and while U.S. air power alone — unsupported by ground troops — could destroy or damage most of the enrichment facilities we know about, the Iranians could have the program back up and running within a few years.

Does capacity mean the expertise necessary to construct a bomb that would actually explode? If so, will Romney order an attack whenever intelligence agencies report that a librarian at some Iranian university has ordered a textbook in advanced metallurgy from Amazon.com?

The truth is that every nation with sufficient wealth and scientific infrastructure has the capacity to build a bomb if it really wants to. An attack is likely to increase the Iranian regime’s resolve, not lessen it. Bombing Iran every few years is not a realistic option and in any event would not be effective in the long run; when the Iranians rebuild their facilities, they will surely do a better job of hiding and bunkering them.

The United States and its allies should seek to eliminate the Iranian government’s will to make a bomb, not its capacity. I hope Romney realizes that, while sanctions and diplomacy may not be working as well as we’d like, they’re the best tools we have — and that an attack at this point gets us nowhere. But if he believes his own rhetoric, this election may be about more than the economy. It may be about war and peace.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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