Limbaugh's comments appalling, not surprising

Rush Limbaugh is at it again. The bombastic voice of right-wing talk radio and the apparent "face" of the GOP has struck again. This time he's carrying the water for the GOP's attempt to eliminate the use of contraception for women. This nauseating attack on women's choices for health-related issues appears to be the manner these aging white males chose to change the subject from a recovering economy to social wedge issues that were fought for and settled decades ago.

Limbaugh's use of inflammatory rhetoric to silence the voices of women is appalling, but not unexpected. The silence from GOP policy makers to defend the reproductive rights of their Republican women is deafening.

Indeed, a recent Republican-run congressional panel set up to try to remove this aspect of the Affordable Care Act was filled with males. Not one female voice was heard. Imagine that. Not only would this errant folly erase a long-standing and popular means of birth control, it is a prime example of the right's war on women.

Like recent union bashing in states such as Wisconsin, where that governor is facing a recall by angry voters, the GOP either forgot or ignored the fact that not all union members are Democrats. Last I looked, not all Republican voters are white males.

I say good luck to the GOP with these wedge issues come Election Day. I like President Obama's chances for re-election.

Stephen F. Saracino



Parker misses point in Rush commentary

While normally I've found Kathleen Parker's commentary worthwhile, her column on "Rush the uniter" -- about Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke -- was wide of the mark.

The Issa Committee hearing, where Fluke was not allowed to testify, was not about "religious freedom versus government overreach," as Parker contends, but was about the "freedom" of one group to impose its religious beliefs on everyone else!

Worse, Parker completely misses the main point of Fluke's position; namely, that birth control isn't just about "birth control." In some cases, women are prescribed hormonal contraceptives to treat serious and debilitating symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle. Fluke specifically mentioned polycystic ovarian syndrome -- a medical condition -- in her testimony at an unofficial hearing convened by House Democrats on Feb 23.

This is part of the reason that the Institute of Medicine classifies birth control as preventative medicine in its 2011 report, "Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps."

Thus I am at loss to understand Parker's remarks about "contraception for the poor" and "Fluke's premise" that "her need for contraception" is someone's else's responsibility; except as mean-minded and mean-spirited.

Doug Aerie



Civilized discourse is a thing of the past

Fifty years ago, just about everyone was taught common courtesy, a part of which was understanding the meaning and importance of an apology. This may seem quaint to modern Americans, who daily witness the scandal-du-jour and the response to it that has come to be referred to as "the politician's apology." Even though such behavior would put most of us either in jail or in a bloody heap, our leaders in politics, athletics and entertainment seem completely immune to the need to take responsibility for their words and actions. Possibly they can't fathom the concept of an apology when they can't bring themselves to admit that they did anything wrong in the first place. Fifty years ago, even before the advent of political correctness, a tirade including calling a young professional woman a "slut" and asking for video footage of her sex life simply because she admitted that she used contraceptives would have inspired an outcry for a bona fide apology, not to mention making the culprit unemployable.

If you have a conscience or a soul, then for every single "Rush is Right" bumper sticker you see, you will make it your mission to encourage at least two people to vote who, you are convinced, own a functioning brain. With that simple tool we may one day be able to provide a fair and responsive government for all of us -- even the ones who don't have enough sense to act like human beings.

John Nelson



Hochul's clarification irrelevant, incomplete

I am concerned for individual liberty in America regarding the Health and Human Services mandate requiring institutions to pay for services that violate their conscience, including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients, through their premiums or directly as self-insured institutions. The accommodation does nothing to solve the problem of First Amendment freedom and it creates a problem by the state defining religious boundaries of the church.

My concern led me to ask Rep. Kathleen Hochul about the constitutionality of the mandate at a town hall meeting. Hochul denied the Constitution was looked at in creating the mandate. Five days later, Hochul gave a clarification that was irrelevant and incomplete to her constituents, for whom she swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. She said the government's power comes from Article 1, as Congress makes the laws.

It is irrelevant because the mandate was established by HHS and the executive branch, bypassing Congress. It is incomplete because there are limits on what laws Congress can create. For example, it cannot make a law that says judges have no authority or everyone must buy a red car.

Catholics care about women and want them to have health care and free will. But under the mandate, it is only contraception that is free. This is a curious choice in that women with high cholesterol, cancer or diabetes have more pertinent health care needs than women seeking free birth control.

Hochul may have little choice but to toe the line considering this is a presidential election year. But no politicians are so important to be kept in office that they can be allowed to trample the First Amendment and destroy the concept of freedom on which this country was founded and for whom so many have died.

Bradley Gay



Disturbing to watch Hochul being bullied

I was just there to get out of the house. Cabin fever. I had no idea what was to come. The Feb. 24 town hall meeting with Rep. Kathleen Hochul was well reported in The News on Feb. 29. Many have seen the famous video clips. I'm on some of them.

But you had to be there to get the full flavor of it. When the congresswoman expressed her view on the health care bill, there was a chorus of "no!" to which I added a lonely "yes!" Eyes full of fire, the woman next to me yelled, "shut up!" It upset me that I had no right to speak a single word.

It was reported that this was an "angry group of mostly Catholics." I'm not so sure. I sensed a different emotion in the room. Hate. They were enjoying it too much. There were children present. Some were shocked by what they were seeing. Look at the video with a big man in the back loudly haranguing the congresswoman. Look behind him at the young lady to his right. Look at her face. Look at the faces of other children. Those kids know from school that bullying is wrong. Now it was somehow right?

Unreported was the Rev. Leon Biernat's speech demanding that federal government officials consult with and attend to theologians. Astounding! An American advocating theocracy over democracy. It was a hard thing just being in that room. I think it is shameful that a priest would lead the faithful to be so mean to a nice person.

Curtis Hoerbelt



Fluke's behavior is embarrassing to women

Are you kidding me? A 30-year-old woman attending one of the most prestigious law schools in the country goes before Congress to beg lawmakers to have me pay for her lifestyle choices? Come on, ladies. I thought women were smart, responsible beings. Isn't that what we have been telling everyone, including ourselves, for decades? Apparently we are not. Women should be ashamed of this woman's behavior and of letting themselves be used as pawns every election year in the Democrats' play for power.

Patti Rusch



Contraceptives have other medicinal uses

There is an easy solution to the problems of contraception insurance coverage. If coverage for ED pills, such as Viagra and Cialis, were stopped or better yet outlawed, then medication for contraception would become greatly reduced and maybe even unnecessary. I do not know if the general public is aware that contraceptives have a valid medicinal use, such as for the treatment of endometriosis (that may impair fertility), irregular menses and to promote fertility.

Helen Singh



Parents, not teachers, must get kids to school

I take issue with the final paragraph in a March 3 News editorial that "it is up to the district and its teachers to improve attendance." It is up to the parents or guardians to get their children to school each day.

Most readers have to be amazed that any student could miss 20 percent of the year's required attendance. I am sure anyone my age never missed 20 days in 16 years of schooling.

Things are different these days. There are single-family parents, there is poverty, there are homes with no phones, food or fathers. The responsibility of attendance is not the district's, it is the obligation of the guardian or parent of the student.

Attendance teachers, short of going to the child's house, are helpless to bring the child in. The parent or guardian is the true keeper of the child. Perhaps these irresponsible adults should be reported to the police, but unfortunately, it is not the job of the police to prevent student absenteeism.

John C. McKendry

Retired science teacher

South Park High School, Buffalo


Students can't learn if they're not in class

The statement, "But ultimately it's up to the district and its teachers to improve attendance," in a March 3 News editorial initiated my immediate response: No! It is up to the parents to improve attendance!

School districts and teachers are charged with instructing students, not raising them. Neither districts nor teachers can educate students who are not in the classroom.

Lola Kelly