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Rush Limbaugh Apologizes (the sequel)

Rush Limbaugh has issued a second apology for his mud-slinging assault on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke. Or, actually, he’s simply said that his first apology was sincere. His first apology was an apology for a slip of the tongue. It didn’t sound sincere, because he never retracted his assessment of her as a slut and a prostitute who ought to video tape her sexual encounters and display them on the internet. He appears to be making this second apology because sponsors are continuing to withdraw their advertising dollars  from his show.

This second apology took a half hour of air time on Limbaugh’s radio show; the transcript of it on his show’s web site is over 2,200 words long. The vast bulk of the statement is an attack on his “enemies,” those he characterizes as socialist liberals, including President Obama, the Democratic Party, the liberal media, and the administration’s health care program, most specifically it’s policy on insurance and birth control.

Here’s Limbaugh’s apology for calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute and asking that she videotape her sexual encounters and show then on the internet:

I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.  I do not think she is either of those two words.  I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.

 Rush Limbaugh’s apologies can be found on his radio show’s website.

Rush Limbaugh and His “Apology”

Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh

Recently, Rush Limbaugh threw verbal mud at a Georgetown law student who, in testimony to a group of Democrats, expressed her views in the controversy between Catholic church officials and the Obama administration’s birth control policy. Limbaugh misstated both the law student’s statements and the Obama administration’s policy, then he launched his attack, calling her a slut, a prostitute who demanded that tax payers pay her so she could enjoy sex. Limbaugh asked that she provide taxpayers with online videos of her sexual encounters in exchange for their tax dollars.

After some of his radio show sponsors withdrew their support, Rush Limbaugh issued an  “apology” to the young woman. The statement contains 192 words, of which 55 are apologetic. You’ll notice that he apologizes only for choosing the wrong words in what he alone characterizes as an attempt to be humorous.   It was not an attempt to be humorous.

It’s shamefully easy to sit back and let Rush Limbaugh make a jackass of  himself, but his “apology” is worth reading just to get a sense of how his mind works and his extraordinary vanity — by the end of this statement he apologizes for creating a national stir! When he says I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities, he uses  “social activities”  to  mean sexual intercourse. Mr. Limbaugh frames women’s contraception entirely and exclusively  in terms of recreational sex. Furthermore, in this instance,  it’s insurance companies and their policy holders, not taxpayers, who pay for birth control pills. Here’s Rush Limbaugh in his own words:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

Valentine’s Day

A couple of lovers in a snowstormValentine’s Day comes in the middle of February but a few snowflakes, or even  a blizzard, never stopped lovers from finding a way to get to where they wanted to get to.  We have no idea who the anonymous couple is, though we’re sure he’s handsome and she’s beautiful, and we hope they enjoyed each other’s company and are living happily ever after.  We have no idea who took the photo. It’s been floating around the web and landed here, among other places, and we thought it appropriate for today. And you gotta love those high heels.

You’re probably aware that there are a number of saints named Valentine on a variety of lists, and you probably know that no saint, with or without the name Valentine, began the tradition of sending love notes to the beloved, or red roses, or cards printed with fanciful red hearts, or heart-shaped candies, or heart-shaped red boxes of chocolates, or even heart-shaped strawberries dipped in chocolate. We know all that. Nonetheless, we looked into Catholic Online and came across a section called Saints Fun Facts and clicked on St. Valentine. We read the fun fact that St. Valentine was a kind-hearted Roman priest who “aided young Christians being persecuted by Claudius II and was imprisoned. While in custody, he converted 46 members of a guards family to Christianity. Upon discovering this, Claudius sentenced him to death.” Frankly, we didn’t find much fun in those facts at all, especially the sentenced-to-death part.

So,  to cheer us up,  we’ve decided to post just a few more anonymous photos of lovers kissing.  And please don’t destroy our cheer by telling us the photos are staged.  Of course they’re staged, but that’s not the point. The point is to get you to leave your computer and go kiss someone you care for. Below is a photo which replaces the snow with lots of yellow flowers. Winter or summer, clearly the season doesn’t matter.Kissing amid lots of yellow flowersNow scroll down for some acrobatic kisses. First, the bicycle kiss. And don’t try this unless you’re very experienced at riding a bicycle, good at judging distance and have fine reflexes. We admire how the young man has stamped his left foot on the front wheel, halting his bike at the last moment and causing it to rotate up, just as we admire the young woman raising up on tip-toe to meet him. Kiss on bicycle And, of course, the handstand at the beach kiss. We do like the couple pictured below — the serene welcome of the young woman and the exuberant display of  affection by the young man.  Indeed, there’s an exuberance about the kiss in both these photos and that’s a delight. Frankly, we have no idea how that young man got up into his handstand position and we haven’t figured out how he’s going to get down. Kissing on beach handstand


Women and Sex Addiction

Carnes, Patrick - sex addictioni
Dr. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.

If you crave relief from politics and would like something  completely different, you might be interested in learning a little about sex addiction in women. We learned a lot from an interview in Canada’s National Post. Apparently, women are taking to sex in a big, big way.  In fact, according to Dr. Patrick Carnes, “We are seeing the biggest change in human sexuality maybe in the history of our species.”

 Wow! The biggest in the history of our species! Now that’s impressive. Dr. Carnes, Ph.D.,  ought to know what he’s talking about, because he’s a psychologist. He’s a specialist in sexual addiction and the executive director of the Gentle Path program at Pine Grove Behavioral Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Certainly the Internet has made pornography available and private, which maybe one of the greatest changes in pornography in the history of the human species. So it shouldn’t surprise us that, as Dr. Carnes says, “We’re seeing women getting into pornography in a way we’ve never seen before.” But sex addiction goes beyond mere fantasy. “Women are engaging in affairs, they’re engaging in sado-masochistic behavior,” he said. They are? Again?

If you’re beginning to think that sexual addiction must be an epidemic, you’re right. For sure, Dr. Carnes thinks it is. “We’re now at a place where we have an epidemic. Two thirds of our kids are watching pornography while they’re doing their homework.” Good grief!Two thirds! Is that possible? 

The image below is taken from Nymphs and Satyrs, painted by William-Adolphe Bougereau and exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1873. You’d never guess from this painting that the following year saw the first exhibit of Impressionist painters. There’s not much available to illustrate a post about women and sex addiction, so this will have to do.Bouguereau, William Adolphe 1825-1905 Nymphs and Satyr_(1873)


The Platonic Ladder

Clouds with light aboveNot everyone who stumbles upon Critical Pages is familiar with the Platonic Ladder which we mentioned in an earlier post. That’s been made clear to us. Thank you, all.

The Platonic Ladder is one of Plato’s cool concepts. You can read about it in his Symposium, but to make life easier we’ll give you a brief summary along with some quotes from Plato himself.

Plato tells us that we can and should begin by loving “the beauties of the body.”  We’ll  skip what beautiful bodies Plato had in mind.  The important thing  is that loving a beautiful body is natural and easy to do. It’s the lowest rung on the ladder.

To get to the second rung you “must consider how nearly related the beauty of any one body is to the beauty of any other.” Soon, says Plato, you will “be the lover of every lovely body.” You do this, says Plato, in order to see that the single body you loved first isn’t all that unique.

Frankly, we at Critical Pages have our doubts about that second rung. But let’s continue up the ladder.  You “must grasp that the beauties of the body are as nothing to the beauties of the soul.” (Maybe you can see what we’re climbing toward.) The person who continues to climb upward, “wherever he meets with spiritual loveliness, even in the husk of an unlovely body, he will find it beautiful enough to fall in love with and to cherish.” Soon the climber will discover that “every kind of beauty is akin to every other, and he will conclude that the beauty of the body is not, after all, of so great moment.”

That’s a big achievement, because at that point you’ll see the beauty in many things, even in institutions and abstractions like, say, human rights and justice. (Plato doesn’t actually say human rights and justice, but that’s close enough.) To quote him again, “Starting from individual beauties, the quest for the universal beauty must find him ever mounting the heavenly ladder, stepping from rung to rung–that is, from one to two, and from two to every lovely body, from bodily beauty to the beauty of institutions, from institutions to learning, and from learning in general to the special lore that pertains to nothing but the beautiful itself–until at last he comes to know what beauty is.”

That’s how it goes upward. You start by a natural love for the beauties of flesh and end up loving pure beauty, truth and goodness. That’s the Platonic Ladder. We’ve tried climbing it many times. And it’s good to try, even if you get no further than the first or second rung.

Books Can Be a Real Turn On

Books & couple embraceIf you read Critical Pages you have an independent mind. We hope so, anyway. That’s why we suggest you go to your local, independently owned book store and buy a book. Independent book stores welcome independent readers. You’ll be appreciated. And — who knows? — you might meet somebody interesting in the book store. Somebody like yourself, a lively person with a wealth of pent-up affection and an unfulfilled desire to find just the right book. Books can be a real turn on.

Sexual Failure & the Social Network

Two social scientists have made an astonishing discovery. Or maybe Phrenological head. Jealousy must be in there someplace.not. Benjamin Cornwell at Cornell and Edward Laumann at the University of Chicago have published a study of erectile dysfunction and the social network. Or, as the title of the study says, “Network Position and Sexual Dysfunction: Implications of Partner Betweenness for Men.” (You probably never knew betweenness was a word; it probably wasn’t a word before these researches got to work.)

Their study showed that when a wife had more contact with her husband’s friends than he did, the chance that her husband would have trouble making love to her increased. Or as the researchers put it: “Men who experience partner betweenness in their joint relationships are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex.”

Isn’t this called jealousy? Did this come as a surprise to the researchers? And isn’t that line in quotes a rather weird sentence? And do people ever achieve orgasm not during sex?

The two scientists also discovered that while this effect was most apparent for men in their 50s and early 60s, it just sort of disappeared for men in their 70s and 80s. Want to guess why? Don’t even try. Here’s the answer: “Older men’s greater focus on close, kin-oriented relationships increases their likelihood of adopting new definitions of masculinity that emphasize conveying experience and mentoring rather than independence and autonomy, and under these circumstances partner betweenness is less likely to trigger erectile dysfunction.” Now you know.

Monogomy, or Maybe Infidelity, Revisited

“The chains of marriage are so heavy that it takes two to carry them, and sometimes three,” said Alexandre Dumas. Jo Page, essayist and fiction writer, has been thinking about monogomy and infidelity as understood by Don Savage, a writer with a view rather like that noted by Dumas. Here’s Jo’s reflection on these tangled subjects:

Wedding cake figuresMark Oppenheimer’s piece, “Married, with Infidelities,” in the July 25 edition of The New York Times Magazine, was a timely and  thoughtful exploration of Dan Savage’s take on how marriages can be strengthened and extended through an honest—key word—judicious practice of non-monogamy. Put simply, Dan Savage, though ceding the advantages monogamy provides to couples—sexual and emotional safety, paternity assurances—advocates what he believes is a more realistic sexual ethic that prizes honesty, flexibility and forgiveness over absolute monogamy.

Paraphrasing Savage, Oppenheimer writes, “We can’t help our urges, and we Kissing scene by Silvestreshould not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy. . . . Such straight talk about the difficulty of monogamy, Savage argues, is simply good sense. People who are eager to cheat need to be honest with their partners, but people who think they would never cheat need honesty even more.”

Oppenheimer’s piece goes on to explore the marital arrangement that Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, have, which Savage describes as “monogamish,” meaning that there have been occasional, but openly discussed infidelities (which strikes me as a wrong and value-laden word if these are not to be perceived as lapses in faithfulness).

As logically insightful as Savage’s views may be, such consensual openness may not involve genuine consent at all. Oppenheimer cites Janis Abrahms Spring, a psychologist and whose book, After The Affair, is about couples badly damaged by infidelity.

“The problem is that with many of these couples, one partner wants it, and the other says yes because she’s afraid that he will leave her,” says Spring.

And indeed, Savage concedes that monogamy is the right choice for many couples. Oppenheimer describes himself as a “straight, monogamous, married male,” but he also appears to support a fluid, honest, open-ness in marriage if that’s what couples negotiate.

It’s hard not to admire Dan Savage for his work, both as a columnist, author and brainchild of the It Gets Better series. But in a much less publicized, though I think more thoughtful piece that appeared in The Washington Monthly in the March/April issue, Benjamin J. Dueholm, finds some of Savage’s logic troubling. (more…)

More Notes

The World Happiness Report, released by the United Nations, ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. This year, Finland is first, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, followed by Netherlands, Canada,New Zealand, Sweden, Australia. The United States, which has never been in the top ten, silpped down four places from last year and is now 18th. President Trump may make American Great Again, but apparently not happier.