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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rush Limbaugh Compares Public Employees to Hitler

Today, Rush Limbaugh yelled and screamed at a caller from Wisconsin, Mary Jo, who said she stayed in her public sector job despite offers of higher pay and better benefits in the private sector because “I feel I made a difference.” Limbaugh responded, “Adolf Hitler made a difference.”

After silently cutting off Mary Jo on the phone while he denounced her, Limbaugh proclaimed that if public employees are allowed to unionize, “their fellow citizens become the enemy.” According to Rush, “these people are at war with us.”

Limbaugh expanded his attacks to include every Democrat. He called Obama “a socialist” and accused Democrats of “destroying” the economy, “destroying social security,” and “destroying the housing market.” Rush's show was full of this lunacy, including his insane claim that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “are suggesting that we arm al Qaeda” in Libya. When a caller today referred to Obama as an “miserable little turd,” Limbaugh didn't disagree but simply responded that Obama was a greater threat to America than Gaddafi.

And using his war metaphor language, Limbaugh claimed: “The Democrat Party is taking direct aim at every family in this nation.” The response, Limbaugh said, needed to be more extremism: “We're the extremists? Fine. Then we need more of us.”

My book about Rush, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, includes many more cases where Limbaugh invokes violent rhetoric to attack Obama and liberals.

I'm no fan of false civility, but everyone should be worried when the leading radio show host in the country accuses public employees of being “the enemy” who is “at war with us” and calls for extremism in attacking Democrats.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Limbaugh's Hypocrisy on Media Matters

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh joined Glenn Beck and other right-wing media in claiming that Media Matters for America is breaking the law because its founder David Brock promised "guerrila warfare and sabotage" against Fox News.

Limbaugh claimed, “Media Matters as a 501(c)(3). Media Matters, as such, is not permitted to engage in "partisan political activity." Well, that's all Media Matters has ever done.” According to Limbaugh, “they're breaking the law.”

One of Rush's advertisers, the Heritage Foundation, is also a 501(c)(3) charitable group. But Heritage engages in the very same “political” activism Rush thinks is illegal. How do we know that Heritage is involved in partisan political activity? Because Rush said so. When Heritage began advertising on Rush Limbaugh's show, he praised them because “they were, in large part, responsible for many policies that came out of the Reagan administration.” He said Heritage was Reagan's “favorite think tank.” He noted that “they attempt to influence budget questions.”

Of course, neither Media Matters nor the Heritage Foundation are breaking the law, although Heritage comes much closer to violating the law than Media Matters ever has. Heritage is involved directly in politics and legislation. The only connection Media Matters has to politics is criticizing the conservative bias of the media.

Rush added another legal theory to claiming that Media Matters should be criminalized: “What Media Matters is doing, you can call it 'tortuous interference,' which occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships, and this is what Brock has announced: They're out to harm Murdoch's business interests. You cannot use a tax exempt organization to break the law.”

If criticizing media corporations and wishing ill upon them is a crime, then Limbaugh himself is guilty of it. After all, Rush has been denouncing “liberal” media corporations for years and taking credit for causing their ratings (and profits) to drop. Rush himself has repeatedly called for de-funding public broadcasting (another media corporation) and hurting their profits. So why shouldn't David Brock be free to seek to destroy Fox News Channel corporate interests if that's what makes him happy? Unless we carve out a “criticism of Rupert Murdoch” exception to the First Amendment, everyone should be free to criticize any person or corporation that they want to.

As I note in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Limbaugh only believes in free speech when it applies to him. He denounces progressive non-profit groups, while he takes money to praise conservative non-profit groups engaged in the very same activism. Limbaugh is a professional, partisan hypocrite.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anti-Defamation League Condemns Limbaugh for "Feminazi"

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh used one of his favorite words: “feminazi.” He was talking about a Wall Street Journal article in which women worried about how their 12-year-old daughters dress.

We've got some more feminazis concerned their daughters may live the lives they lived. And they don't like it. One of these feminazis is actually quoted as saying, '"If I could live my life over, I would never have pre-marital sex, even with the guy I ended up marrying."

This part of Rush's show was omitted from the transcript on his website, but the title of another segment on his website that day conveys the same sentiment about feminists: "Feminazis Worry Their Daughters Will Dress for Sex Like They Did."

I asked the Anti-Defamation League to respond to Limbaugh's comments, and here is the official statement the ADL sent me today:

The pejorative “feminazi” mocks activist women and at the same time trivializes the Holocaust. Comparisons to the Nazis may be politically expedient, but in the end they trivialize the Holocaust and are an insult to the memory of six million Jews and the millions of others who perished at the hands of Nazis. This sexist, offensive term has no place in civil discourse or society.

The ADL has previously criticized Limbaugh for dismissing the Nuremberg Trials as “an absolute joke, an absolute travesty” and comparing the Obama Administration to Nazis. In 2010, the ADL condemned Limbaugh's “borderline anti-Semitic” comments when Limbaugh said, "To some people, banker is a code word for Jewish” and added, “a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's – if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there."

However, this marks the first time the ADL has condemned Limbaugh for comparing feminists to Nazis.

I sent an email to Limbaugh asking for a response, but so far I haven't gotten any reply. He also didn't respond to my query Monday about whether he was willing to now admit that he regards all feminists as “feminazis.”

As I note in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, for years Limbaugh has been denying that he ever referred to feminists in general as feminazis. “No, I never did call feminists feminazis,” he told Barbara Walters. “There are a select few feminists who I call feminazis, and you have to really work hard to earn your way into the feminazi status. You know what feminazi really is is a woman who is so consumed with the advancement of the feminist agenda that she gets mad when a woman who's pregnant, who was going to have an abortion, is talked out of it; and women who think that, for example, all sex is rape, even the sex in marriage.” Limbaugh has repeatedly asserted that he has been misquoted and was only describing a “few” feminists as feminazis. He told Playboy, “I have been misstated, misrepresented, misreported on this. A feminazi is not a feminist.”

For decades, Limbaugh has been using the term “feminazi” without apology to smear the feminist movement. He wrote in his first book, “A Feminazi is a feminist to whom the most important thing in life is ensuring that as many abortions as possible occur. There are fewer than twenty-five known Feminazis in the United States.” The comparison of feminists fighting for gender equality to the most brutal and murderous regime in human history should shock everyone.

In 2004, Limbaugh named “Gloria Steinem, Susan Sarandon, Christine Lahti and Camryn Manheim” as “famous feminazis.” Perhaps the clearest evidence of Limbaugh's extraordinarily broad definition of “feminazi” came in 2007. When Debra Dickerson wrote a Salon.com article about Michelle Obama quitting her job to campaign full-time for her husband, Limbaugh declared, “that's truly bitter. These are angry women. I'm telling you, these militant feminazis are angry." But Dickerson's article never mentioned abortion at all. Dickerson merely expressed a common feminist concern that a politician's wife was expected to give up her professional career. Worrying about gender equality, Limbaugh claimed, makes you one of the “militant feminazis.”

In 2010, Limbaugh turned his incisive analysis to a march by topless women in Portland , Oregon : “I've been wondering, you know, how long are the feminazis going to take to get to this?” So now women without shirts are “feminazis”…because nothing embodies the genocide and terror of Hitler's Germany more than bare breasts.

For many years, Limbaugh has pretended that he only used the term “feminazi” to describe a tiny number of radical feminists. Now, he's using it to describe women worried about how their daughters dress, which is surely a population that runs in the millions.

So the Anti-Defamation League deserves praise for speaking out against a misogynist who tosses around Nazi analogies at mothers who worry about their 12-year-old daughters. It's time for the conservative movement, and Republican officials, to be asked to do the same. Do they agree that feminist mothers who are concerned about their daughters should be called Nazis?


Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limbaugh: Feminists Are Nazis

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh took a day off from his work denouncing teachers who make $51,000 as “freeloaders” and played golf instead of doing his three-hour job for $50 million a year. Of course, it's Limbaugh who is the freeloader, whether it's moving to Florida to avoid state income taxes, or using the free public airwaves of the stations that broadcast his show to profit himself.

Today, Rush was back at work, and back to his bizarre obsession with race. Limbaugh declared that stories about Michelle Obama's fashion sense were the result of racial affirmative action: “They feel sorry.”

It was Limbaugh's bigoted approach to gender that brought some of Limbaugh's most controversial comments of the day. Limbaugh denounced liberal men in the Obama Administration who were skeptical of attacking Libya as “the new castrati” and yelled, “they're sissies.” Those “liberal men” included Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and considering how Limbaugh used an anal cyst to evade the Vietnam War draft, perhaps he shouldn't go around calling people far more courageous than himself “sissies.”

But the most revealing moment of today's show came when Limbaugh referred to a story about feminist mothers who don't want their 12-year-old daughters to “dress for sex.” He described these feminist mothers as “feminazis.”

For years, Limbaugh has been denying that he ever referred to feminists in general as feminazis. “No, I never did call feminists feminazis,” he told Barbara Walters many years ago. “There are a select few feminists who I call feminazis, and you have to really work hard to earn your way into the feminazi status. You know what feminazi really is is a woman who is so consumed with the advancement of the feminist agenda that she gets mad when a woman who's pregnant, who was going to have an abortion, is talked out of it; and women who think that, for example, all sex is rape, even the sex in marriage.” Limbaugh has never, in his 25-year career on talk radio, offered any evidence of a single person who fits his definition of a “feminazi.”

Limbaugh has repeatedly asserted that he has been misquoted and was only describing a “few” feminists as feminazis. He told Playboy, “I have been misstated, misrepresented, misreported on this. A feminazi is not a feminist.”

But as I note in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Limbaugh regularly uses the term and has repeatedly referred to feminists as feminazis, without any of these narrow definitions. On today's radio show, Limbaugh makes clear what he has always felt: that all feminists are feminazis. He's simply been lying whenever he said anything else.

Will the Anti-Defamation League speak out against the description of feminist mothers as Nazis? Will Limbaugh's conservative friends and Republican officials be asked if they agree with his view that feminists who worry about the sexualization of young girls are “Nazis.”

Yes, there are commentators on the left and the right who abuse Nazi analogies. But no one does it more than Limbaugh, and no far left commentator has anything approaching Limbaugh's audience. When feminist mothers concerned about their daughters are “feminazis,” it means that all of us are “feminazis.” And it shows Limbaugh for what he truly is: a lying misogynist.


Crossposted at DailyKos.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Limbaugh's Lies of the Week

Here is a summary of a few of this week's lies, distortions, and radio atrocities by Rush Limbaugh, the subject of my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason.

It was a week of Limbaugh's crazed conspiracy theories, such as claiming that smart meters give "the government the power to wirelessly control your heat, your air conditioning, your water flow, your electricity all from the cozy central office."

Limbaugh reacted to the earthquake near Japan with great sympathy for the people killed there. No, I'm kidding, he actually used it to attack environmentalists, tell jokes, and discuss at great length how he likes to fly in his private jet over natural disasters, but he wouldn't go to Japan because he would have to land there: “Have you ever been tempted to take your plane and do a flyover in one of these big natural disasters to see it firsthand?” I haven't, because I don't have a private jet and I don't enjoy disaster porn. Rush, however, is very different from the little people he flies over in his jet.

Limbaugh joked about how the earthquake was 8.9 on the “Andy Richter scale” and wondered, “do the environmentalists cheer or do they pretend to be saddened by this?” Limbaugh claimed, “I have no doubt they're gonna try to claim global warming had something to do with the earthquake and the tsunami.” In reality, no one tried to blame the earthquake on global warming. But Limbaugh would never waste a chance to take a great tragedy and turn it into a mindless, nonsensical attack on liberals.

For Rush, the big news of the week was in Wisconsin, where he celebrated the Republican union-trashing as “a great and historic day” and added, “God bless and protect these courageous people.” Limbaugh argued that unions are evil because “95% of all deductions in dues go to Democrats,” which is both a lie and so incredibly stupid that you wonder if Limbaugh even understands that very little in union dues goes to political contributions. In another obvious lie, Limbaugh claimed that the Obama stimulus package led to “no roads, no bridges, no private sector jobs” and instead was all a political “slush fund” and “everything else was a fraud, everything else was a hoax.” Limbaugh also took the opportunity to make one of his classic racist statements, asserting that Obama's stimulus plan was passed because “he's the first black president, and therefore nobody dares utter a word of criticism of his policies.”

Limbaugh bizarrely claimed that “the public workers in Wisconsin are the wealthiest workers in Wisconsin.” The assertion that teachers being paid an average of $51,000 a year are the “wealthiest” workers in the state is simply insane.
Rush hinted that he would like to see some violence directed at liberal commentators: “How about we treat MSNBC and Howard Fineman like the unions and our government treat Fox News and have thousands of people surround their reporters, block their cameras, manhandle their reporters? How about if we do that? How about if we show up and we start physically assaulting MSNBC reporters like they're doing to Fox reporters?” But it turned out that the “physically assaulted” Fox News reporter wasn't assaulted by anyone.

Nevertheless, Limbaugh proceeded to blame Obama for the actions of crackpots and criminals, claiming that a death threat against the Wisconsin Republicans came from “the Obama Wing Of The Democrat Party. These Are Obamaites." Limbaugh falsely accused Democrats of “Molotov cocktails and the defacing of the Capitol,” even though nothing like this happened.

Rush repeated some long discredited lies, such as the bizarre allegation that masking tape had caused “seven and a half million dollars in damage.” And he made up some new lies about “union thugs going in, tearing down statues or whatever.”

Limbaugh falsely accused filmmaker Michael Moore of “calling for riots,” and Rush even made a bizarrely threatening we-have-erect-guns-and-they-have-limp-penises reference: “know these guys that keep calling for civil war and revolution, Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore? They better remember: All they've got are fire hoses. They can't compete with us.”

Limbaugh was infamously once caught by customs carrying Viagra with a fake prescription, and during his prosecution for buying vast amounts of illegal prescription drugs, it was revealed that he doesn't own any guns. Nevertheless, he is happy to proclaiming that his side has the erections and the guns in a revolt, and the left only has fire hoses. Don't try to make too much sense of this phallic metaphor involving fire hoses, the weapons famously used against civil rights protesters in the 1960s. A man of Rush Limbaugh's vast wealth can fly over natural disasters in a private jet, so he obviously doesn't need anything coherent to say.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rush Limbaugh's Racism Toward Obama

Today, Rush Limbaugh made Barack Obama's race the center of his show and angrily attacked a caller who accused him of racism. In my new book on Rush Limbaugh, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, I devote a lengthy chapter to detailing a few examples of Limbaugh's racism. The evidence is simply overwhelming, but Limbaugh refuses to see anything wrong in his racial language.

Limbaugh said today, “If anybody looks down at black people and has a condescending view of them, it's liberals.” But it's Limbaugh who is patronizing toward blacks through his regular racist insults. Today, Limbaugh asserted that it was blacks, not whites, who were racist in America: “what was the black percentage for Obama, 110%?” It's amazing that Limbaugh could call blacks racist for voting to elect Obama and then an hour later denounce leftists for having a condescending view of black people.

Limbaugh wondered today, “How many people really think of Obama as black?” Certainly, one of those people would be Limbaugh, since he is obsessed with Obama's race. Pointing out that Obama was raised by a white mother and white grandparents, Limbaugh today adopted a fake black accent and declared: “Barry Obama is not from the hood, he's not from the movement.” Yet Limbaugh declared: “I do not make fun of people's skin color.”

Even before Obama decided to run for president, Limbaugh was attacking him on racial grounds, declaring in 2006, “You are not African American, Mr. Obama. You do not share the heritage of this country that African American implies.” In January 2007, Limbaugh continued the racial attack, calling Obama a “Halfrican.” Rush even suggested that Obama, and all blacks, are not real Americans: “Obama is telling us he is a black American first and an American second.”

Limbaugh was fond of using racial insults against Obama, calling him “a Chicago street thug,” “a half-minority,” and even “the little black man-child.” It is difficult to conceive of any situation where a non-racist would call the most admired black man in America, a 47-year-old man serving in the US Senate, “the little black man-child.”

But while Limbaugh repeatedly attacked Obama for being black, he made bizarre accusations about his race. On September 22, 2008, Limbaugh said about Obama: “He's not black. Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood?” Limbaugh became the leading figure in America proclaiming that Obama was an Arab, not black. And a poll after the 2008 election found that more Americans believed Obama was an Arab than thought he was a Muslim.

After Obama became president, Limbaugh called him "the greatest living example of a reverse racist" and accused him of “fooling white people.” Limbaugh called Obama "stupid" and asserted that Obama "probably didn't get outta Harvard without affirmative action." The notion that Barack Obama could not have graduated from Harvard Law School without preferential grading is amazingly racist. No one can possibly imagine that Obama’s success--including selection to the Harvard Law Review, election as its president, graduating Magna Cum Laude in the top 10% of his class, passing the bar, and becoming a top teacher at the University of Chicago Law School--was all somehow granted to him by a conspiracy of Harvard Law professors to raise his grades because he's black. Charles Fried, a Harvard Law Professor who served as Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration, wrote to me, “It’s paranoid nonsense. Grading is anonymous by a randomly generated exam number and it takes a vote of the faculty to change a grade.”

Even Obama's policies were guided purely by race in Limbaugh's eyes. Limbaugh claimed today that Obama has a “chip on his shoulder” about race and asserted, “It is a factor in every policy decision he makes.” It would be difficult to find anyone other than a white supremacist who imagines that race is a factor in every policy decision Obama makes.

Limbaugh has repeatedly attacked Obama's economic policies as “reparations” for slavery. Limbaugh declared, “Obama's entire economic program is reparations!” Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert noted about Limbaugh's comments, “Those guys aren't racist. They're just saying that a program that helps the poor is actually a secret plot by African-Americans to steal white people's money.”

Today, Limbaugh declared, “I just treat black politicians the way I treat white liberal politicians.” But he doesn't. Limbaugh often uses racially demeaning language, such as declaring that “Obama is essentially a primitive indigenous guy.” When Limbaugh describes the man who ran the most technologically sophisticated political campaign in history as “primitive,” race can be the only explanation. And there can be no doubt that Rush would never describe a white liberal politician born in America as “a primitive indigenous guy.”

One of most common racial stereotypes in America is that of the angry black man. Limbaugh called Obama, one of the calmest presidents in history, “an angry black guy." Has Limbaugh ever referred to a white politician, such as the notoriously hot-tempered Bill Clinton or John McCain, as “an angry white guy”?

Limbaugh has wondered: “Can this nation really have an African-American president?...Or does having an African-American president paralyze the process by which people with that kind of power in our representative republic are kept, quote, unquote, honest?” Has Limbaugh ever wondered whether America would be destroyed by having a white president?

When a racist caller declared that Obama was fighting “against white America,” Rush agreed with him wholeheartedly: “you're right down the line” and supported the idea that “Obama hates white people." Responding to a caller in 2009 who wondered “when will Caucasians become the minority,” Limbaugh didn't challenge her racism but instead shared her concerns about the declining power of the white race: “the problem is that you've got people running the show now from Obama all the way down through his administration through the House of Representatives who, regardless of their race, are racists.” In fact, Limbaugh asserted that blacks are already controlling America: “When I say does it really matter when Caucasians become a minority, what I mean by this is we already have a governing majority. He's gonna treat them that way. It's reverse racism.” Only the worst of the white supremacists imagine that America is controlled by non-whites. Sadly, Limbaugh is one of them.

My new book about Limbaugh goes into far more detail about Limbaugh's racism toward Obama, and the vast array of additional racist comments by Limbaugh. The evidence of Limbaugh's racism is simply overwhelming, and I invite Limbaugh and any of his defenders to try to explain how all of these bigoted comments are free from racial prejudice.


Crossposted at LimbaughBook.

Rush Limbaugh's Giant Errors on Health

After bizarrely denouncing Michelle Obama's campaign for healthier eating, Rush Limbaugh yesterday turned to a familiar old target for his misleading attacks. Rush denounced the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) at length in a rambling, mostly incoherent tirade for criticizing movie popcorn in the 1990s and claimed, “They said it was high in polyunsaturated fat, stuff would clog you up so bad that coconut oil is what they would scrape out of you during a bypass operation.” No, the CSPI said it was high in saturated fat and calories, not “polyunsaturated fat” which is healthier.

Limbaugh claimed that a new New York Times report indicated about coconut oil “how it is one of the healthiest oils out there” in Rush's words. However, the New York Times story noted that there is no scientific proof that coconut oil is healthier. Instead, its presence in health food stores is due to its taste and its popularity among vegans as a substitute for butter.

Rush declared victory, “Once again, I, El Rushbo, ahead of the curve.” The 1994 CSPI report shocked people because it revealed the vast number of calories found in movie popcorn, and the report criticized not just coconut oil, but any kind of hydrogenated oil and the fake butter used in popcorn. Nothing about the CSPI report was inaccurate.

Rush concluded his segment, “The life expectancy is skyrocketing and people are still eating and drinking what they want, still driving SUVs. Giant See, I Told You So here.” No, a giant “Rush Is Wrong Again.” In reality, life expectancy improvement rates in the US are lagging behind other countries, despite the fact that we spend much more on health care than any other nation. A 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs noted that the US ranked 49th in the world in life expectancy, far worse than in the past.

Once again, Rush is wrong on medical issues. As I note in my new book, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason,” Limbaugh believes himself to be an expert on health, medicine, food, and health care, despite making numerous basic errors and spewing all sorts of medical myths from “nicotine isn't addictive” to “death panels.”

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rush Limbaugh's Big Fat Lies about Michelle Obama

Last week, Rush Limbaugh called Michelle Obama fat. In my new book about Limbaugh, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, which is being published today by Thomas Dunne Books, I write about Limbaugh's racism, his sexism, his nutty conspiracy theories, and his propensity for telling lies. The “fat” Obama tale is a perfect example of this.

Limbaugh has a long history of attacking how women look and calling them fat, a reflection of his sexist double standards. For Rush to call any woman fat is a puerile, hypocritical insult; to call Michelle Obama fat is nothing short of baffling because obviously it isn't true. Consider Limbaugh's words: “our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.” When did swimsuit model become the standard for how a First Lady (or any healthy woman) must look?

But beyond Limbaugh's sexism, his rudeness, and his hypocrisy, this attack on Michelle Obama is noteworthy because it was based entirely on a lie. Limbaugh said, “it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary dietary advice.”

After falsely declaring that Michelle Obama was “requiring what everybody can and can't eat,” Limbaugh claimed that the First Lady "took the kids out to Vail on a ski vacation and they were spotted eating. And they were feasting on ribs, ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat per serving."

It's not clear how Limbaugh came up with his very precise and yet totally imaginary figure of 1,575 calories, since he offers no evidence.
In reality, according to the restaurant where they ate, the ribs had 600 calories and came with a side of kale.

This isn't the first time Limbaugh has lied about Michelle Obama's eating habits in order to accuse her of hypocrisy. Limbaugh claimed during the 2008 campaign, “Michelle Obama called room service and ordered lobster hors d'oeuvres, two whole steamed lobsters, Iranian caviar and champagne" and then repeated the story, declaring “it's hypocrisy.” It was a completely fabricated tale, and the New York Post quickly retracted it and apologized. Two weeks later, Limbaugh briefly mentioned that the story was false, without apologizing or mentioning his role in spreading the lie.

Not satisfied with making up only one story, Limbaugh also claimed there was a video showing Michelle Obama using racial language: “They're waiting to use it in October, of Michelle going nuts in the church, too, talking about ‘whitey’ this and ‘whitey’ that.” The videotape never surfaced because it didn’t exist, and Michelle never went “nuts” in a church talking about “whitey,” despite Limbaugh’s fantastic racial imagination. He never offered an apology or a correction.

Limbaugh hates everything about the Obamas, and expresses it openly, even critiquing Michelle Obama's sweaters and accusing the woman widely admired as the most fashionable First Lady in decades of having a “classless wardrobe”--quite a feat for a man whose sole contribution to fashion consisted of selling loud, overpriced ties designed by his then-wife.

Limbaugh even claims to see troubles in the Obama marriage, whether he's hinting (falsely) that Barack is cheating on his wife, or claiming (falsely) that Barack and Michelle dislike each other. In 2010, Limbaugh recounted his memories of Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention:
RUSH: What I remember about that speech is his wife. Honest. Folks, honestly. I don't remember one thing 'cause I tuned it out, 'cause I knew it was all a lie. It was being delivered by a Democrat at a convention that had nominated John Kerry. For crying out loud, what are we talking about here? But when I saw Michelle come out there and I saw that introduction, Barack Obama told me everything I needed to know about him. She gave one of the most forceful, supportive, upbeat speeches. I have never seen a political wife speak of her husband that way in my life, and he came out and ignored her.
CALLER: I don't see remember that.
RUSH: "Here he is, my man, my baby's daddy, my man! He's the greatest man, Barack Obama," and he came out and ignored her and didn't pay her a bit of attention, and I said this doesn't compute here. You at least give her a kiss. You at least put your arm around her, raise her hand with yours and acknowledge the applause. But he just ignored her. She didn't exist when he came out there. That's what I remember about it.
CALLER: Yeah, I don't remember that.

Rush had made it all up. Michelle didn't introduce her husband at the Democratic National Convention (Dick Durbin did), and after the speech, the Obamas embrace and then leave the stage holding hands.

Limbaugh was apparently referring to a different speech, Obama's November 2, 2004 victory speech after winning the Senate race. Michelle did indeed introduce her husband. But otherwise Limbaugh's summary is completely wrong. Barack immediately gave his wife a long embrace. Back in 2008, Limbaugh recounted his same fictional version of the event (this time correctly placing it as Obama's victory speech) and declared, “I thought, 'How in the world do you not thank your wife after an introduction like that?'"

Limbaugh said all this while looking at a CNN transcript (which he didn't read for his audience) that showed Barack Obama declaring in this speech his greatest thanks for “the biggest star in the Obama family...the love of my life, Michelle Obama, give it up for Michelle.”

Limbaugh usually focuses his attacks about Michelle Obama on her body, her clothes, and her relationship with her husband. But to me the worst insult Limbaugh makes about Michelle Obama is when he attacks her professional career. Limbaugh repeatedly claimed about Obama, “He had to get his wife a no-show job at Chicago hospital.” He asserted over and over again, “Michelle Obama did not have to show up for her hospital job.” Michelle Obama always showed up for her job at the University of Chicago hospitals. There is no evidence, not even an allegation, to support this lie Limbaugh said over and over again.

For Limbaugh, lying about a woman's career, making up stories about her eating habits, insulting her appearance, and doing everything to smear her is just routine behavior for a man committed to denouncing liberals no matter what the facts are.

Crossposted at DailyKos.