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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.

Google and Your Privacy

Google logoGoogle’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. At least that’s what it says when you click on About Google at the bottom of the Google page. As a corporation, Google is singular in having as it’s motto “Don’t be evil” — that’s actually what they said in the prospectus for their 2004  IPO, the Initial Public Offering of stock to the public.

And in Google’s 10-point philosophy, under the heading Our philosophy, point number 6 says: You can make money without doing evil. Google is a business. The revenue we generate is derived from offering search technology to companies and from the sale of advertising displayed on our site and on other sites across the web. (And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can look up what Google has to say, but if we repeat it, you’ll get bored and move on, and we’re trying to make a point of our own, so please keep reading.)

Over the past several weeks, visitors to the Google search page have repeatedly been informed, “We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. This stuff matters.” Visitors are given a chance to click on Dismiss, or Learn more. If you click Learn more, Google will tell you, “We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.”

Who could object to that, right? And if you read the entire policy, which Google put there so you could read it, you’ll learn more details. From Google’s business point of view, the policy is certainly good because Google will have all the information about you in one place.  But for people who use Google, it’s not so good.  Because when you gather small bits of information about a person from a lot of different sources, and  put them into one big heap of information in one place all about that person, you know a lot more about that person than when the information is scattered. Yes, bringing all the scattered bits together does make a difference. It’s a lot easier to put a jigsaw puzzle together if you have all the pieces in one place.

Look at it this way, US intelligence agencies had sufficient information in different places about terrorists, but the agencies failed in their mission because the information was scattered and they “didn’t connect the dots.” Google’s new privacy policy allows them connect the dots about you.

If you’d really like to Learn more about privacy and Google, you might look at Knowledge @ Wharton, the research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Google’s new privacy policy is scheduled to go into effect on March 1st, but on the other side of the Atlantic the European Union authorities have asked Google to give them more time to investigate the effects of such a change. That’s a Good Idea.

Romney, Lies and Audio Tape

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Romney has already launched his first television ad against the President and — good grief! As has been pointed out by Democrats and Independents and anyone who cares,  the ad distorts what Obama actually said. What’s even more astonishing, Romney’s Republican confederates agree it’s a lie. They say they want it that way.

The ad uses an audio of Obama campaigning in New Hampshire  in 2008, his voice saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” In actual fact, in that 2008 speech it’s clear that Obama is quoting an aide to his opponent, Senator McCain. But in the 2011 ad, Romney makes the listener believe that it’s Obama who doesn’t want to discuss the economy.

Liar, liar! Pants on fire!Romney’s people distributed a press release admitting that the words are not Obama’s and Romney himself, in Des Moines, proudly told reporters, “There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign. It was instead to point out that what’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander,” By no hidden effort Romney apparently means that since his press release  admits the distortion, there’s no hidden effort to deceive.

Having attempted to fool the public once, with the deceptive ad, his campaign now tries to fool the public a second time by saying they’re not trying to deceive.

“It was instead to point out that what’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.”  That old expression is another way of saying that what’s fair for one person is fair for the other. How in the world does that apply here? Obama wasn’t putting words into McCain’s mouth. Romney is. His run for the presidency should be quite a spectacle

The Readers at Readercon

Of the many literary gatherings held this summer, our attention was caught by Readercon, a conference focusing on imaginative literature. Readercon logoIt was held at the Boston-Burlington Marriott and drew people not only from all over the US but from other countries as well. Readercon has “con” baked into its name, which is unfortunate if it conjures up images of certain other “cons” which are primarily party occasions where participants dress up to resemble their favorite character from science fiction, fantasy, or vampire tales. Readercon has the reputation, deservedly, of being the most serious of the cons. For readers interested in imaginative literature in it’s many different forms, Readercon can be entertaining, sometimes scholarly, mostly engrossing and, in one way and another, simply enjoyable.

Though the program guide describes Readercon as “The Year’s Best Science Fiction Convention” the four-day event fortunately covers considerably more than science fiction. The recent 22nd annual Readercon offered a broad spectrum of discussions, stretching from an academic panel on the “Death of the Author” (a theory of French intellectual Roland Barthes), to the jovial “Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition.” In between these extremes there were panels on such diverse subjects as young adult fiction, on myth, on the Midrash, on a literary agency, on  book design and typography, the retelling of Russian folktales, the blurring of genras —  plus book signings, readings by authors, and interviews. According to the volunteer organizers, a typical Readercon has about 150 writers, editors, publishers, and critics. But what struck us were the 400 or more people who attended the different events – it would be hard to find a more engaged and lively group of readers.

“Congress Continues Debate Over Whether Or Not Nation Should Be Economically Ruined” — The Onion

The US  Congress is going through one of those insane times when only headlines from the satirical online newspaper, The Onion,  can sum it up.  Their headline quoted above says it all.  To get the full flavor, click on The Onion.

HarperCollins vs. Libraries

Speaking of libraries, as we were in the post below this, we report the sad fact that the publishers HaperCollins has decided not to sell e-books to libraries but to rent them out. The publisher allows libraries to let an e-book circulate only 26 times before the library must again pay to rent it for another 26 times. E-book Reader If it were a conventional book, the library would buy it and allow it to circulate among library patrons until it needed to be replaced, at which point the library would buy a fresh copy. Now HaperCollins wants to sell a lot of copies to libraries, so it has decided, arbitrarily and whimsically, that the e-book wears out after it’s been read 26 times. Libraries, which are publically funded and never rich, have complained about this. One example —the Upper Hudson Library System, a consortium of libraries in New York State —  has sent a public letter to HaperCollins protesting this whacky arrangement and “will no longer purchase any e-content published by HarperCollins or any of its subsidiary publishers.” You can check out the letter sent to HarperCollins by clicking  on this link http://www.uhls.org/new/open_letter_HarperCollins.pdf

Garrison Keillor at Poetry’s Grave

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is a very funny guy. Whether in his variety show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” or simply telling tales about the folks at Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average,” he’s a superb low-key comedian. He has a unique brand of humor which, for lack of a better phrase, we can call Minnesota Lutheran. On occasion, he’s been a serious and thoughtful writer who knows what it means to be human and humane.

But for years Garrison Keillor has been killing poetry. His mini radio show, “The Writer’s Almanac,” is broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, podcasts, National Public Radio, and more stations than you can count. The radio spot, introduced by an old-fashioned piano tune, is only a few minutes long. Keillor tells us about some notable literary events or birthdays that occurred on that date in the past – much like an almanac – and then, alas, he recites the poem chosen for that day.

Garrison Keillor’s recitation technique is a good definition of lugubrious. His is a sad, depleted voice, rather mournful. No matter the poem, no matter the lines, he speaks with the gentle, falling tones of a mortician. The casual listener will come away reinforced in the common belief that poetry is a nice old ladies’ pastime, genteel, rather like pressing flowers. Certainly it doesn’t sound like a vibrant part of our everyday world. Garrison Keillor’s voice is sorrowful and respectful. And it’s poetry he’s burying.

More Notes

Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.