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Monday, March 7, 2011

Rush Limbaugh, Conspiracy Nut

Every day on the Rush Limbaugh is full of conspiracy theories, but today Rush took time to refute a conspiracy theory against him. And he's right: the fact that his distributor, Premiere Radio Networks, hires actors to call into radio shows does not mean that Limbaugh ever did this. Of course, no one has seriously suggested such a silly idea. Limbaugh doesn't care what anyone else thinks, and he doesn't need fake callers to help him express his crazy ideas.

It's ironic that while Limbaugh is offended that anyone might believe such a conspiracy theory about him, today he proudly trumpeted some of his dumbest conspiracy theories about the Obama Administration. I devote a full chapter in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, to Limbaugh's conspiracies.

He declared about smart electric meters, “think death panels for your home,” combining two of his favorite nutball ideas in one line. There are no death panels. And smart meters to reduce energy use in your home are obviously not, as Limbaugh has claimed in the past, “tyranny, pure unadulterated tyranny" from the Obama Administration.

Limbaugh today added to his favorite conspiracy theory of all time: the insane belief that Obama is intentionally destroying the economy in order to enhance his political power. He lamented that his crazy idea was not more widely believed: “People don't want to think of their president as purposefully destroying the country.” This is an astonishing conspiracy theory, one repeated on almost a daily basis by Limbaugh. Yet there has been virtually no mainstream media coverage of this deeply influential conspiracy theory. As far as I know, not one Republican politician has ever been asked to agree or disagree with Limbaugh's grand conspiracy theory.

On Friday, Rush Limbaugh admitted that he's a conspiracy theorist, and a tremendously stupid one at that. Here's the conspiracy Rush reported about the Obama Administration on Friday: “they started just arbitrarily reducing the number of jobs available.” According to Rush,
Job openings are down 30%. Job openings, meaning available jobs, are down 30%. Well, if we're gonna take the total job universe number and reduce it by 30%, of course it's going to appear that more people are working (particularly if you add 192,000 jobs). So he's covered himself here, "No conspiracy, no conspiracy, that's just the way they do it." Well, there is one if you ask me. A strict definition of conspiracy is people have gotten together and conspired here to have some good news reported, fine and dandy.

So Limbaugh openly admits that he thinks this is a vast conspiracy by the Obama Administration to cut the number of job openings it recorded and thereby reduce the unemployment rate. The biggest problem with Rush's conspiracy theory is that it literally makes no sense. The number of job openings has nothing to do with the unemployment rate, which is determined purely by the proportion of people seeking jobs.

Why does Rush advocate such an inept conspiracy theory? In part, it's desperation to make the American economy look bad in order to blame Obama. On January 7, 2011, as in the past, Limbaugh had claimed that the “real” unemployment rate was the U6 measure in order to inflate it. But the U6 measure has plummeted in recent months, down to 15.9%, matching the drop in the U3 unemployment rate that is more widely reported.

So, naturally, Limbaugh explains the drop in the unemployment rate by assuming that the Obama Administration is playing with the numbers in a vast conspiracy to mislead the American people.

All of this is laughably stupid. Whether it's death panels or smart meters or the vast Obama plot to destroy the American economy, Limbaugh's loony conspiracy theories need to be exposed and condemned, and Republican politicians (along with conservative pundits) need to be asked if they agree with his ideas.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

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