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Monday, December 17, 2012

Did Rush Limbaugh Breaks NYC Gun Laws?

On his show today, Rush Limbaugh told a story about attending a dinner party in New York City in the 1990s where Republican guests debated gun control. Limbaugh recounted telling a Nixon Administration official who favored gun control, “I'll give you my gun if you can promise me that when I leave this apartment tonight nobody else out there will have one either.” Limbaugh said he repeated the point: “Now, if you can promise me that nobody in Central Park is gonna have a gun tonight when I walk out of your apartment, then maybe we can talk."

But at that time (as it does now), New York City required a license to carry a concealed weapon, and it's virtually impossible to believe that a private citizen like Limbaugh would have qualified for the license. If he didn't have a license, then Limbaugh was breaking the law when he claims to have carried around a gun for self-protection on Fifth Avenue. So did Limbaugh just confess to being a law breaker?

Of course, it's entirely possible that Rush's gun story, like many of the things he says, was simply invented out of thin air. As I note in my book about Limbaugh, he often makes up stories (in addition to making up facts) to feed his enormous appetite for self-aggrandizement. Back in 2006 when Rush confessed to breaking the law by doctor-shopping for his massive pill addiction, he was banned from owning a firearm for 18 months. At the time, Rush indicated that this restriction on guns didn't bother him because he didn't own any.

Limbaugh loves to depict himself as a heroic gun-toting right-winger standing up against the “establishment Republicans.” The reality is that Limbaugh doesn't really care about guns. He cares only about attacking the liberals who want gun control in the face of yet another tragedy. So we may never know if Rush is a criminal who illegally carried a gun, or just a liar.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Limbaugh's Landslide

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that “Everything—except the polls—points to a Romney landslide.” Yes, everything—except the election results and every indicator of them—points to a Romney landslide.
But this is not just a story about Limbaugh's incredible stupidity, irrational conspiracy theories, and inability to grasp reality. It's also the story of how Limbaugh created Obama's landslide last night.
On Monday, Limbaugh declared his deep analysis of the race: “my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this -- factoring everything I see plus the polling data -- it's not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.”
Limbaugh declared that an Obama landslide was impossible:  “there's no way he's winning in a landslide. Halperin had it right. There are three outcomes here and two of them are bad for Obama: You're gonna have a narrow Romney win or a landslide Romney win or a narrow Obama win. But you're not gonna have an Obama landslide.”
Limbaugh has been using the word “landslide” a lot to describe what would happen to Obama: “I'm on record I don't know how many days in the past three months saying, quote, 'If the election were today, Romney would win in a landslide,' and I haven't wavered from that."
Limbaugh repeatedly said this even when the polls showed much larger leads for Obama than they did right before the election. He claimed that a liberal conspiracy of pollsterscontrolled by the media and universities was trying to fix the election: “Gallup. Rasmussen and Gallup, all they do is poll. The other outfits, they're attached to universities. What's the bias there? They're attached to news networks. What's the bias there? And we know that objectivity is not possible, especially these people.”
Living in a bubble of his own bubble-headed thoughts, Limbaugh and his Dittoheads convinced themselves that the rest of the country was just as crazy as they were, and that an Obama landslide in the Electoral College could never happen. But it did. And we really have Limbaugh to thank for Obama's re-election and the Democratic gains in the US Senate and House.
In the midst of an economic downturn that too many people forgot was caused by conservative policies and Republican politicians, we should have seen the party in power removed in the election. President Obama and the Democrats, in a normal political year, would have experienced the same unfair fate that Jimmy Carter did in 1980, and that so many Democrats in office faced in 2010. But Rush Limbaugh helped make the Republican Party abnormal.
Limbaugh helped create a far right-wing media and Tea Party movement that pushed the Republican Party far to the right. Mitt Romney lurched to the extreme right in order to win the Republican nomination, and moderate Republicans who didn't follow his pandering path lost in the primaries to Tea Party favorites like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Limbaugh helped establish a Republican Party that was far to the right of America.
And Limbaugh himself intervened to create the Obama landslide. In 2009, Limbaugh declared “I hope he fails” and pushed the Republicans to become the do-nothing party of pure obstructionism. And earlier this year, Limbaugh started a dominant theme of Obama's success, the Republican war on women, by declaring that Sandra Fluke was a slut and a whore.
So when Limbaugh gazes upon the Obama landslide today, he can truly say, “I built that.”
Of course, he won't say that because he lives in a world of self-delusion. Limbaugh declared that if Obama wins, “There will be some who are targeted for the gulags shortly after the election. The regime has plans, I'm sure.”
So if Rush Limbaugh finds himself imprisoned in a gulag later this month, he can take pride in knowing that he made it all possible.
Crossposted at DailyKos.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Proof: Ann Romney Treats Americans Like 6th Graders

Listening to Ann Romney speak last night, I was amazed at how vapid and idiotic her talk was. Even by the low standards of today's politicians (and the even lower standards for their wives), her speech seemed particularly dumb. But, I thought, maybe I'm being politically biased here. So I decided to try a quasi-objective measure. I ran the full text of Ann Romney's speech through an online readability test.
Here was the result:
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text: 
Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 6.22

Yes, Ann Romney's speech was aimed at the comprehension level of a sixth grader. But maybe this is something common to the spouses of presidential candidates, who are forced to dumb down what they have to say and how they say it. So I decided to check Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention:
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text:
Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 10.60

So, Michelle Obama's speech was more than four grade levels more complex than Ann Romney's speech. Michelle Obama spoke to America at the level of advanced high school students; Ann Romney spoke to us like we were elementary school students. This is a huge disparity, unless you think the English language has a liberal bias.

But let's not blame Ann Romney for this. Her speech is thoroughly vetted by Republican handlers who understand their audience. And the low intellectual level of her speech was only slightly worse than the speech by Cindy McCain at the RNC in 2008:
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text:
Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 6.58

But let's not blame Republican women for a problem that really afflicts the entire party and is driven by the men who run it. Here's the rating on John McCain's 2008 speech to the RNC:
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text:
Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 7.13

By contrast, this was the rating for Barack Obama's 2008 DNC speech:
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text:
Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 9.65

Although not as dramatic as the differences between their wives, there is still a two and a half grade level difference favoring the Democrat over the Republican.

Last year, a study by the Sunlight Foundation found that speeches in Congress had dropped by a grade level since 2005, mostly due to the influence of new Republicans in Congress.

Now, some caveats. I'm using the transcripts of prepared remarks, not what is actually said. (Ann Romney's painfully stupid pandering, “I love you, women,” wasn't in the prepared remarks, and so it doesn't get counted, although it certainly would have lowered the comprehension level further.) Readability tests aren't a complete measure of intellectual heft. It's certainly possible to express complex ideas with simple sentences, and sometimes complex words and sentences are used for obfuscation.

But these results reflect a trend I write about in my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason. Limbaugh and his ilk have led the dumbing-down of the Republican Party, pushing an anti-intellectual, anti-science agenda and sneering at educated, rational analysis. Limbaugh has not only made the conservative movement more dishonest, he's helped make it dumber.

And Ann Romney's speech last night (which Limbaugh, not surprisingly, praised strongly) reflects a Republican Party in a serious intellectual decline. When your goal is to treat American voters like they're sixth graders, it shows how the Republicans have given up on making rational, intellectual arguments for their policies.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Confesses to Republican Vote Fraud

Today on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh openly admitted that Republicans engage in electoral fraud by trying to give voters false information:

when Republicans put ads out in Democrat neighborhoods saying they should vote on the wrong day, you know what kind of hell that unleashes. "What, do you think our voters are stupid?" Yes! That's why we try to trick 'em. It doesn't take much.

Media Matters has the audio.

In Limbaugh's home state of Florida, what Limbaugh just talked about is explicitly illegal and a form of voter fraud. Here's what Section 104.0615 of the Florida statutes says about “Voter intimidation or suppression prohibited; criminal penalties”:

(3) A person may not knowingly use false information to:
(a) Challenge an individual's right to vote;
(b) Induce or attempt to induce an individual to refrain from voting or registering to vote;

This is a felony of the third degree, subject to a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Limbaugh is obviously alarmed that Republicans are going to lose this election, and embracing voter fraud is the way to defeat the other side: “the Democrats have calculated that there are a majority of morons that are gonna vote, and they can win 'em.” Stopping those “morons” from voting for Obama is obviously one of the key Republican tactics for victory.

Just a few months ago, Limbaugh claimed that “voter fraud occurs on the Democrat side. There's no question about it.” Of course, the false accusations of imaginary voter fraud by Democrats are not just a kind of hypocrisy; it's also a justification in Limbaugh's mind for advocating the kind of voter fraud he advocated today. As a man who paid vast amounts of money for illicit drugs to fuel his addiction, Limbaugh obviously doesn't have a lot of respect for obeying the law. But his willingness to openly confess to a Republican agenda for voter fraud suggests just how ugly this election will be. In their obedience to Limbaugh, Republicans are likely to engage in an unprecedented levels of voter fraud in a desperate attempt to steal the election away.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's False Smears about Obama's Harvard Record

Today on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that he got a phone call during a break that revealed Barack Obama had the “lowest grades ever in Harvard, never went to class.” This, of course, is a complete lie.

Here's what Rush said:
I got on the phone with somebody who said they went to school with Barack Obama at Harvard. And the guy told me that Obama got the lowest grades that any Harvard graduate ever got and that a bunch of professors gave him B's and C's when he didn't even show up to class. And then he hung up. Now, this guy from Harvard said that Obama had the lowest grades anybody ever got at Harvard, had professors that covered for him and he wasn't even there.

Rush repeated the charge:
He said, "Rush, this guy got the lowest grades that anybody ever got at Harvard. And he didn't even go to class a lot of times, and he got B's and C's.”

It's quite well known that Obama graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1991, a designation based solely upon grades which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is it impossible for Obama to have had the “lowest grades that any Harvard graduate ever got,” but also that Obama was one of the top students at Harvard Law School.

I'm sure that some Limbaugh defenders will claim that this is all a joke Limbaugh is making in response to Harry Reid saying he got a call about Mitt Romney's taxes. And it's certainly quite possible that Limbaugh is fabricating this claim of getting a phone call about Obama, just as he regularly fabricates a 99.8% accuracy rating and many other parts of his show. Did Limbaugh lie to his listeners and fake a call, or did he merely report an obviously false rumor?

But Limbaugh's charge is not satire. Limbaugh has made this same false claim about Obama's Harvard Law School grades at least twice before, completely seriously.

In 2008, Limbaugh declared that Obama "probably didn’t get out of Harvard without affirmative action."

In 2010, Limbaugh claimed:
I think this is the first time in his life that there's not a professor around to turn his C into an A, or to write the law review article for him he can't write. He is totally exposed. There is nobody to make it better. I think he's been covered for, all his life.

At the time, I asked Harvard professors to respond to these charges.

Laurence Tribe wrote to me, "The allegation is absurd. Obama earned every one of his enormously high grades. ‘Affirmative action’ had nothing to do with his success there. He was the most impressive student and research assistant I have taught in my 40 years at Harvard."

Charles Fried, a Harvard Law Professor who served as Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration, wrote, "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."

Limbaugh, the man who flunked out of Southeast Missouri State due to his laziness and intellectual failings, obviously doesn't understand what “magna cum laude” means or anything about academia.

But Limbaugh's attacks on Obama are more than just intellectual jealousy and ignorance about higher education. It's hard not to see racism when a white dropout accuses a black man with academic honors of receiving preferential treatment based on race, despite clear proof of the contrary. And as I document in my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Limbaugh has repeatedly made racist comments about Obama. When Limbaugh declares that Obama got fake grades at Harvard and dismisses him as a beneficiary of affirmative action, he's not just lying; Limbaugh is also trying to provoke racist feelings among his audience.

Crossposted at Academe Blog and DailyKos.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Rush Limbaugh Won't Be Stopped

As the author of a book attacking Rush Limbaugh, I know how vile and stupid his ideas are. But I also believe that the effort of many on the left to silence Rush Limbaugh is deeply misguided, contrary to progressive principles, and doomed to failure.

In reposting the latest essay of StopRush's Richard Myers, Kos writes on the front page: “It's amazing that Rush may be undone by the very same vulture capitalistic system that he's been defending.” That would be amazing. So amazing that it's not going to happen. Here's what Myers is claiming: Bain Capital is sucking money out of Clear Channel, which will go bankrupt. Myers concludes, “what irony that the very cutthroat capitalism Rush Limbaugh so strenuously champions may pound the last few nails into the coffin of conservative talk radio.”

This is all complete nonsense, and fails to understand how capitalism works. Even if Bain Capital did suck the life out of Clear Channel and cause it to go bankrupt, the effect on conservative talk radio would be negligible. Radio stations don't disappear or shift format just because a parent corporation goes backrupt. Rush Limbaugh doesn't depend on Clear Channel stations for most of his listeners; Clear Channel owns his syndicator, but that doesn't mean much at all. Rush Limbaugh succeeds because he has massive numbers of loyal listeners, not because some evil corporation allegedly on the verge of bankruptcy is forcing his voice upon an unsuspecting public.

Myers argues, “Rush Limbaugh is extremely useful to the conservative cause, and is likely to survive (even while bleeding advertisers) through the next election, and possibly for many months beyond.” Months? Try, for as long as he wants to stay on the air and make boatloads of money.

There's certainly an argument to be made for organizing a boycott of Limbaugh and his advertisers. No  one on the left who said such offensive things could ever hope to get prominent advertisers on a radio show. And there's no doubt that the boycott against Limbaugh has hurt him and cost his syndicator and stations millions of dollars. When Limbaugh's contract is renewed, the boycott will probably cost him millions, too. But for a man who makes $55 million a year (with the corporations making even more), losing a few million dollars isn't going to drive him off the air.

But is the boycott against Limbaugh a good thing? First, it violates progressive ideas about freedom of speech. Yes, boycotts are perfectly legal and nobody is violating Rush's First Amendment rights with a boycott. But using economic threats to drive an offensive person off the airwaves is wrong. And, no, calling them the “public airwaves” doesn't make censorship any more palatable. When conservatives use boycotts to silence progressives, it's wrong on principle, not just because the other side is winning.

Second, Rush Limbaugh is the perfect anchor to wrap around the neck of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. If radio stations replace Rush with some less prominent right-winger (as is almost certain to happen if the boycotts succeed), the result will not be a more enlightened, educated world. Instead, progressives will simply lose an easy target for criticism. When Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute,” it did more to undermine the Republican Party and draw attention to the war on women than anything progressives have ever organized. If we didn't have Limbaugh around to say incredibly stupid things, how would we expose the real conservative agenda?

So what should progressives do in response to Rush Limbaugh? Criticize his ideas, and push his supporters to debate those beliefs. And ask questions of Republican officials who are scared to offend Limbaugh and his fans. Ask them if they agree with Limbaugh when he hoped for President Obama to fail and dreamed of economic disaster in America. Ask them if they agree with Limbaugh's conspiracy theories and bigoted remarks.

The problem with today's conservative movement is not that Rush Limbaugh has the freedom to speak out to a wide audience. The problem is that his ideas are taken seriously and rarely criticized. We need Rush to be critiqued, not silenced.

None of this is easy. It's far easier to imagine that Limbaugh doesn't really have a lot of listeners, to imagine that the loss of a few advertisers will bring him down, to imagine that his vast presence on radio is just the evil plot of right-wing corporations who will soon be destroyed by enormous greed. None of that is true, and wishing it were so won't make this fantasy come true.

Rush Limbaugh is not on a “downward spiral” to obscurity. He's not going to disappear because of any boycott, no matter how well organized. And when the Stop Rush movement inevitably falls short of its fantasy, and Rush continues spewing his hatred and misinformation on a daily basis, what will we have accomplished?

We need to use Rush Limbaugh as a symbol of the American conservative movement's destructive embrace of bigotry, anti-intellectualism, and irrationality.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Limbaugh Lies Again About "I Hope He Fails"

Today on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh tried again to rewrite history about his 2009 declaration on Obama, "I hope he fails."

After a caller criticized Limbaugh for this, he responded:

You have just purposely misstated something that you know to be untrue. I want the country not to be harmed. That's why I wanted Obama to fail. And you know what I meant by it. You're a smart guy. I can tell. Plus you're a union guy. So you know. When I said, "I hope he fails," I meant: I don't want the country damaged by the kind of things he believes and wants to do.

In reality, Limbaugh was explicit in declaring that he not only wanted Obama’s agenda defeated, he also wanted the country to suffer after Obama’s proposals were enacted. On February 13, 2009, Limbaugh told his listeners about the stimulus plan: "I hope it prolongs the failure. I hope it prolongs the recession. Because people are going to have to figure out here that this is not how economies recover. Government is not the central planner." Limbaugh made it clear that he meant much more than wishing for Obama's policies not to pass. Limbaugh said: "Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail."

Hoping for failure and praying that the Bush Recession would continue to devastate the American economy has been the primary economic policy advocated by Limbaugh and the Republicans for the past 40 months. Limbaugh's so ashamed of his beliefs, though, that accuses everyone of intentionally lying for merely stating what Limbaugh quite clearly said in hoping for economic disaster.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chelsea Clinton and Rush Limbaugh

Conservatives love to claim that there's a double standard in how Rush Limbaugh has been treated compared to liberal sexists. And they're correct, but not the way they suspect: Rush Limbaugh has always been given a free pass by the right for his sexism, while feminists frequently critique the sexism of the left.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton interviewed Sandra Fluke. Here's the video (video not working with Firefox):

Chelsea Clinton mentioned that, "She and I actually have something in common. We've both been attacked by Rush Limbaugh. I also believe that if you have the right type of enemies you are doing something correct."

It's important to recall that moment that I detail in my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason. On November 6, 1992 (before Clinton was even inaugurated), Rush said on his television show: “In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.' Could--could we see the cute kid? Let's take a look at--see who is the cute kid in the White House. [A picture is shown of Millie the dog] No, no, no. That's not the kid. [Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton] That's--that's the kid. We're trying to...[Applause] No, just kidding.”

According to one defense of Limbaugh, “The real version has Rush talking about a 'cute dog' as well as a 'cute kid,' obviously not a set-up for calling the kid a dog. It is not an assault on Chelsea, as her picture only comes up in the context of correcting the error....Rush has always maintained the incident was an accident.”

The “cute kid” reference was nothing but an excuse to compare Chelsea to a dog. If Limbaugh had not intended to show Chelsea's picture, he would never have said, “Just kidding.” There was no mistake, and his fake apology was just another excuse to show the picture over and over again: “There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I--that's the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton...”

This wasn’t the first time that Limbaugh tried to hide behind a technician to excuse his hateful comments toward women. A USA Today reporter at Limbaugh’s radio studio two weeks before the attack on Chelsea noted that while playing the song “Men” for Limbaugh’s Feminist Update, “Limbaugh's technicians, at his command, punctuate the song with a sounds of cows mooing. Every time the cows moo, Limbaugh orders 'Men' stopped. 'Don't do that!' Stop. The music starts again. More moos. Stop! Music. ('Throw another one in there!' he says off mike, chuckling).” So Limbaugh had a documented record of ordering his staff to compare women to animals and then pretending that the technicians were violating his commands.

Nor was this the first daughter of a president that Limbaugh had insulted, since he had also called Amy Carter ugly. Continuing his tradition of insulting the daughters of Democratic presidents, in 2010 Limbaugh referred Malia and Sasha Obama as the president's “two fat daughters” and falsely claimed that the First Lady had called them fat.

Limbaugh continued to smear Chelsea Clinton after she became an adult. In 2009, he claimed: “Chelsea Clinton said it was Bush's tax cuts that led to 9/11. She did.” No, she didn't. Chelsea Clinton wrote an article for Talk Magazine explaining what she was doing in lower Manhattan when 9-11 happened: “I was expounding on the detriments of Bush's tax cut as we approached Grand Central Terminal and were met with hordes of people running out of the station.” She wrote, "Once we stopped running, I started praying. I prayed for my country and my city. I stopped berating the tax cut and started praying that the president would rise to lead us.”

So Chelsea Clinton never blamed 9-11 on the Bush tax cuts; she happened to be criticizing the Bush tax cuts when 9-11 happened, and then promptly stopped doing it to unify with the rest of the country behind Bush. Yet Limbaugh, the man who compared Chelsea at 13 to a dog and then lied about what she wrote in 2001, had the audacity to claim, “Chelsea has had a charmed life in terms of not having to deal with any kind of press that is especially critical or probing.” Because, after all, 13-year-old girls certainly deserve critical and probing media coverage of their physical appearance.

When David Letterman told a joke about Alex Rodriguez that mentioned getting Sarah Palin's daughter pregnant, Rush was one of the leaders of the outrage: “A joke like that about any woman is just in bad taste and it's not funny.” He claimed, “shows like that are beneath me.” Limbaugh claimed about Sarah Palin's daughter, “It is just despicable, what we have become in this country, to destroy a 17-year-old girl in the hopes of destroying her mother and her father.” Apparently that same logic didn't apply to the 13-year-old daughter of a Democratic president.

Limbaugh also invoked the common conservative tactic of the double standard: "the double standard clearly exists, and it always will." Limbaugh was talking about how unlike Palin's daughter, "Chelsea Clinton was off-limits all during the Clinton presidency and the Drive-Bys bent over forward, grabbed the ankles, said, ‘Okay Clinton, whatever you want.’” He contended that the media “left Chelsea Clinton alone.” Limbaugh was wrong; there was media attention to Chelsea's boyfriends during the Clinton Administration, but since Chelsea never got pregnant, it never became a major story.

Limbaugh's insults against Chelsea Clinton are an important reminder of how conservatives invoke a false "double standard" to defend the indefensible, even when (as in Limbaugh's case) they're guilty of the very same smears they attack. Limbaugh's assault on Chelsea also should remind us that his attack on Sandra Fluke wasn't a fluke: it was a continuation of his decades-long career of sexist smears against women.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Bitchy Double Standard

Today on his show, Rush Limbaugh once again claimed that he's the victim of a double standard never applied to sexist leftists:
It's interesting. You know, I use two words in 23 years that showed questionable judgment. Two words in 23 years. These entertainers and pundits on the left seem to use 23 obscene words every day or every two days. Back in 2008, the rapper Ludacris supported Obama. The two met in Obama's senatorial office and, in his rap song praising Obama, he called Hillary a b-i-itch. Obama smiled. You remember that? "Hillary hated on you," said Ludacris. "That b-i-itch irrelevant. Jesse talkin' slick and apologizin' for..." It was a special rap song written for Obama in which Mrs. Clinton, former first lady, the current secretary of state, was referred to as a b-i-itch.

Two words in 23 years? As I've noted, Limbaugh sexually insulted Sandra Fluke 53 times in three days. It was a lot more than two words. And those 23 years have included plenty more sexist words, as I document in my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason.

Amazingly, Limbaugh actually denounces Ludacris for calling Hillary a “b-i-itch.” Obviously, Mr. “two words in 23 years” would never do that.

Except that he did. In 2008, Limbaugh referred to Hillary Clinton as a “b-i-itch,” pretending to “translate” Obama's view of her. That same year, Limbaugh also referred to Clinton as a “b-i-itch” by comparing her to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest character Nurse Ratched: “a lot of people think that she's Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched wasn't really human. Nurse Ratched was a mean b-i-itch.” And Limbaugh was certainly one of those people who thought Clinton was the “b-i-tch” Nurse Ratched. In 2007, Limbaugh declared, “Hillary Clinton is Nurse Ratched!” He also said Hillary Clinton "sounds like a screeching ex-wife.” He compared her looks to a Pontiac hood ornament. He's spread rumors that Hillary is a lesbian, and accused her of being mannish.

Nor is Hillary the only woman Limbaugh has publicly called a bitch. Limbaugh called Friends of the Earth international climate campaigner Catherine Pearce a "B-I-itch" after watching her criticize President Bush's State of the Union proposals on CNN. And on March 8, a few days after making his fake apology to Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh attacked a female Washington Post blogger for her “b-i-itchy opinion” critical of Rush. That was three days after Limbaugh complained about the degradation of popular culture in America: “The word bitch is common.”

Bitch is certainly not the only sexist insult in Rush's vocabulary. He's called Nancy Pelosi a “ditz” and a “complete airhead.” He called Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a “ditz.” His nickname for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is "Cute Little Baby Fat.”

All female journalists are “reportettes” or “anchorettes” or “info babes,” and part of the vast “chickification of news” caused by “the chicks in high positions in the media.”
Rush particularly likes to insult the appearance of women and girls. In 2009, Limbaugh said about the late feminist Andrea Dworkin “she could be poster child” for the obese.

He called Amy Carter ugly, compared Chelsea Clinton to a dog on his TV show when she was 13 years old, and referred to Malia and Sasha Obama as the president's “two fat daughters.”

And like Sandra Fluke, liberal women are often the subject of sexual smears by Limbaugh, who declared about Anita Hill, “My guess is she's had plenty of spankings, if you catch my meaning.”

Perhaps the worst insult is the word Limbaugh proudly invented: feminazi. Comparing all feminists (including Sandra Fluke) to the worst genocidal regime in human history is an appalling smear that Rush Limbaugh has done over and over for decades.

This isn't about obscene words. It's about bigoted words. Rush Limbaugh is banned by the FCC from using obscene words, so he doesn't say them on his show. Bill Maher and other entertainers are perfectly free to use obscene words, so they do.

Now, I think Bill Maher is a sexist pig, and so are many entertainers and pundits, on both the left and (especially) the right. And yes, there isn't enough criticism of this sexism by feminists. But you don't see Bill Maher having a president invite him to the White House and bring him a birthday cake, as George W. Bush did for Rush. None of these sexists on the left can compare to Limbaugh, who is the undisputed king of sexist conservatives.

How can Limbaugh lie so brazenly, to complain about the “double standard”? Perhaps because he lives in a delusional bubble. Until Sandra Fluke, none of Limbaugh's sexist smears have attracted the slightest bit of criticism from the right. Limbaugh has been the beneficiary of a lifetime of double standards.

With Fluke, Limbaugh's mistake may have been to viciously target someone who isn't a celebrity, pundit, or politician, and to do it in pornographic ways, demanding to see sex videos of her, an act that finally alienated the Christian conservatives who have always supported Limbaugh and refused to criticize him.

But there's no evidence that conservatives are willing to criticize Rush for any of the sexist remarks he's made over and over for years before Sandra Fluke. Until they do, we can see clearly where the real double standard is. The double standard is embraced by the conservatives who for 23 years have embraced Rush Limbaugh as a leading voice of their movement while he repeatedly smeared women, as he still does.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gloria Allred's Idiotic Demand to Imprison Rush Limbaugh

I am no friend of Rush Limbaugh, considering that I wrote an entire book criticizing his bigotry and stupidity, but I do defend his freedom of speech.

Talking Points Memo reports that lawyer Gloria Allred, on behalf of the Women's Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, has written to the prosecutor in Limbaugh's home county in West Palm Beach, Florida, asking for a criminal investigation of Rush's insults against Sandra Fluke.

TPM has posted Allred's full letter, which cites Florida Statute 836.04:
whoever speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

In Florida, first-degree misdemeanors can be punished by up to a year in jail.

It does no service to feminism or freedom of speech to call for Rush Limbaugh to be prosecuted for his speech.

The Florida statute is one of the worst examples of sexist paternalism, pretending to “protect” women by treating them like weaklings needing the defense of the state against offenses to the virtue. It's no small irony that at the bottom of Allred's letter is the text of the never-adopted Equal Rights Amendment: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Clearly, a law that protects the “chastity” reputation of women but not men fails to meet that equal rights standard.

The Florida statute, incidentally, makes it a misdemeanor to publish an anonymously-written statement which attempts “to bring disgrace or ridicule upon any person,” making DailyKos' owners and editors guilty of several million crimes.

Criminal defamation should be considered unconstitutional beyond any redemption. When it's mixed with an archaic sexist law that regards the value of women as depending upon their “chastity,” it's even more repulsive.

Limbaugh deserves criticism for his sexism, far more criticism that Mitt Romney and other Republicans have offered. Most of all, he deserves the greatest criticism for calling Sandra Fluke and all other feminists (including me) Nazis with his use of the term “feminazi” to describe her. Comparing anyone who supports women's equality with the worst genocidal regime in human history is a thousand times more offensive than insulting the chastity of women.

Sadly, some of the outrage against Limbaugh reflects the very same sexist notions embodied in the Florida law invoked by Allred, that the "chastity" of women is what makes them worthy. Many conservatives think it's completely appropriate to call feminists Nazis, and seek to limit the rights of women to health care, whereas questioning the chastity of a woman goes too far. Limbaugh's pornographic fantasies about Fluke are the flip side of the Florida "chastity" law, an attempt to treat women as sexual objects whose most valuable commodity is their virginity.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Limbaugh's Insults and Real Religious Liberty

Rush Limbaugh's insults against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke have sparked a national controversy. Today (Wednesday), I'll be discussing Limbaugh (and my book about him) on Al Sharpton's MSNBC show (6-7pm ET) and Thursday on the public radio show To the Point (2pm ET).

But Limbaugh's attacks on Fluke are also a reminder of the fact that we should stand for real religious liberty. Not the nonexistent “freedom” of religious institutions to deny medical care to their students, but the individual religious freedom of people to make their own health care choices.

Limbaugh's very personal assault on an individual woman clarified this debate about contraception and religious liberty. It had been framed as a debate about the so-called “academic freedom” of religious colleges and the religious liberty of employers against women's health.

But I want to argue that this is indeed an issue of religious liberty and academic freedom. It's a simple question of whether rights belong to individuals or to groups.

There is no such thing as a collective Constitutional right for religious groups; there is only individual religious freedom. Yes, religious organizations are protected, but only because of the individual rights of the people who constitute them. The only mention of religious organizations in the First Amendment is a prohibition on “an establishment of religion.” The same is true of academic freedom: there is no such thing as a Constitutional right of institutional academic freedom. Colleges and universities as institutions receive some protection from government intrusion only to help protect the individual rights of the employees and students who constitute a college. When an institutional policy infringes upon an individual's academic freedom, no misguided concept of “institutional academic freedom” can overrule the real academic freedom that belongs to individuals.

When Georgetown University prohibits Sandra Fluke from receiving contraceptive coverage in her health care plan, and imposes its religious values upon her, it is violating her religious liberty and her academic freedom. Georgetown cannot invoke religious liberty and academic freedom in the name of taking away an individual's right to liberty.

This is Sandra Fluke's health insurance. She pays for it ($1,895 a year), and while it may be organized and partially subsidized by Georgetown, it belongs to her. No employer, no university, has a right to infringe upon the individual's religious liberty to choose health care according to his or her own religious values.

I'm sure some people will point out that Fluke knew that Georgetown was a Catholic institution which refused to cover contraception when she choose to attend. That's true. In the real world, nobody works at or attends a perfect university. It might be unwise to attend a religious institution if it will limit your individual liberty, but the blame for those violations of individual liberty still falls upon the university, not the student. If a professor works at a religious institution that limits academic freedom, the AAUP (and all of us) should still condemn that college if it fires the professor for his or her beliefs.

And if a government policy protects gender equality and religious liberty in medical coverage for all individuals no matter what the religious beliefs of the employer or the college, we should praise it.

If Georgetown University decides that it doesn't like contraception, then it is perfectly free to express that opposition to contraception. Georgetown is still free to rationally persuade its students, by force of argument, to refuse birth control bills and other forms of contraception. That's the kind of academic freedom Georgetown administrators have, the right to speak freely without imposing their misguided religious beliefs on all students and employees.

Rush Limbaugh's insulting remarks have led to a national discussion about sexism and hateful speech. But they should also lead us to a more enlightened debate about the true meaning of religious liberty and the individuals who hold it.

Crossposted at DailyKos and AcademeBlog.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Limbaugh's Latest Lie: "I Acted Too Much Like the Leftists"

This is the greatest crisis in Rush Limbaugh's entire career. He has always been controversial and offensive, but never before have his hand-picked advertisers abandoned him en masse, as nine of these companies have now done.

Today, Limbaugh claimed that he had “no ulterior motive” for his fake apology for his 53 smears, that it was “pure, simple, heartfelt.” Of course, nobody believes that. This is all about the money. Limbaugh has observed, “I always say my real purpose is to attract the largest audience I can, and hold it for as long as I can, so I can charge confiscatory advertising rates.” When his advertising revenue is threatened, Limbaugh will be moved to make a fake apology.

Amazingly, today Limbaugh blamed left-wingers for causing him to insult Sandra Fluke: “I acted too much like the leftists who despise me.” Limbaugh claimed, “In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them....I descended to their level....I became like the people we oppose” Do leftists describe their ideological opponents as “sluts” and “prostitutes” and accuse them of having “too much sex”?

Limbaugh claimed that he used “inappropriate words in a way I never do.” Never? The man who repeatedly has called Hillary Clinton and other women “B-I-itch” actually had the audacity to complain today, “The word 'bitch' is common.” It is if you're Rush Limbaugh, who once publicly called Friends of the Earth international climate campaigner Catherine Pearce a "B-I-itch" after watching her criticize President Bush's State of the Union proposals on CNN. Every woman is just one ideological disagreement with Limbaugh away from being condemned as “ugly,” “ditz,” “bitch,” or “feminazi.” It's how he views all women, except those who prove their devotion to him by being docile, conservative housewives admired as subservient sex objects.

Limbaugh once declared about Anita Hill, “My guess is she's had plenty of spankings, if you catch my meaning.” Accusing liberal women of being whores is the typical tactic of Rush Limbaugh; it's not something he learned from the left.

Limbaugh's fake apology was all about the advertisers he's losing. Limbaugh declared in the early 1990s, “A turning point in my career came when I realized that the sole purpose for all of us in radio is to sell advertising.” Rush recalled, “I realized out there that if I was ultimately going to succeed I had to get myself actively involved in the revenue stream of the radio station.” Limbaugh understood that he could have control over his program “if you had your hand on a certain amount of the revenue stream.”

From the start of his talk show, he has been obsessed with his advertisers. Early in his radio career in Sacramento, Limbaugh tried to demand that he decide what advertisers would be allowed on his show. He understood from the start that his advertisers would determine the fate of his career. For Limbaugh, selling products was “ratings insurance.” Rush meets personally several times a year with all of his advertisers who hire him to voice their ads, precisely in order to avoid what happened this week.
One study found that Limbaugh actually had a bigger audience during the commercial breaks than during his show itself. Rush's listeners are so devoted to him that they pay more attention to his commercials than to his ideas. And Limbaugh has merged advertising into his show content so completely that his listeners barely distinguish between the two.

In the 1990s, Limbaugh lost advertising for Florida orange juice after the National Organization for Women, the National Education Association, the NAACP, and other groups led a boycott of the product. In 2003, Radio Shack and Amtrak dropped their advertising, claiming that they avoid political shows and only advertised due to a mistake. Boycotts normally can't affect him because many of his advertisers are not major retailers, but mid-sized online businesses that rely on Limbaugh loyalists for a substantial part of their business.

That's why Limbaugh was so shocked by having nine advertisers abandon him, and why his fake apology was necessary. Today, Limbaugh effectively called for his listeners to boycott the advertisers who abandoned him: “They've decided that they don't want you or your business anymore.” That's an attempt to threaten his remaining advertisers, lest they consider following the nine companies who have already suspended advertising on his program.

For Limbaugh, who worships “confiscatory advertising rates” and the $55 million a year he makes, the loss of his advertisers is the greatest threat that he's ever faced. He's been hit in the wallet, which is the only sensitive part he has.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Rush's History of Fake Apologies

Rush Limbaugh's fake apology on Saturday may have surprised some people, because Limbaugh almost never apologizes for anything he says, nor does he correct the seemingly endless factual errors that he makes. In fact, Limbaugh boasted in 2005: "We don't retract anything we do here because we never lie and make things up on this program." As Rush declared in 2009, “I don't apologize. Ever. Of course, it helps that I'm never wrong."

But Limbaugh understands the necessity of making a fake apology for the sake of your career. In 1984, Limbaugh got his big break in radio when he was hired to replace Morton Downey, Jr., a shock jock at KFBK in Sacramento, California who had been fired for telling a joke about “chinks” and refusing to apologize.

Limbaugh's apology on Saturday was plainly insincere, particularly since Limbaugh claimed, “I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.” Limbaugh personally attacked Fluke's sexual behavior at least 53 times last week, so no one can possibly take this fake apology seriously.

In my book about Limbaugh, I note that twice before, he has uttered the words, “I apologize,” and the cases of Chelsea Clinton and Michael J. Fox reveal just how insincere Rush's apologies are.

On November 6, 1992, Rush said this on his television show:
In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.' Could--could we see the cute kid? Let's take a look at--see who is the cute kid in the White House. [A picture is shown of Millie the dog] No, no, no. That's not the kid. [Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton] That's--that's the kid. We're trying to...[Applause] No, just kidding.
The “cute kid” reference was nothing but an excuse to compare Chelsea to a dog. If Limbaugh had not intended to show Chelsea's picture, he would never have said, “Just kidding.” There was no mistake, and his fake apology was just another excuse to show the picture over and over again: “There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I--that's the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton...”

Limbaugh's “I apologize again” wasn't regret, it was part of the script for insulting a 12-year-old girl because she had the name “Clinton.” Limbaugh never apologized to Chelsea Clinton, not for comparing her to a dog, nor for any of the other terrible lies he has said about her over the years.

Limbaugh's most notable faux-apology before this Saturday came in 2006, when he attacked Michael J. Fox. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, appeared in a campaign commercial for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill because she supported stem-cell research. Limbaugh declared that Fox was faking his Parkinson’s disease symptoms: "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two." On his “dittocam,” Limbaugh was gyrating back and forth in a mock tremor, displaying how he thought Fox was faking the symptoms of his disease.

As in the Fluke case, Limbaugh's initial response to criticism was completely defensive. Limbaugh claimed there was a media conspiracy against him: "Some networks have sped it up to try to enhance the spastic-like nature of it. They are all saying that I was 'mocking, making fun of. How low will Limbaugh go now and next? This is unconscionable.' It is absurd and ridiculous for them to make this charge that I would make fun of somebody in this circumstance.” Of course, Limbaugh offered no evidence to support his ridiculous charge that multiple networks had sped up the footage of him mocking Fox. And if Limbaugh wasn't trying to mock Fox, he certainly was doing a very good acting job pretending to be someone mocking a man with Parkinson's disease.

But as the criticism grew, Limbaugh responded on October 23, 2006, with his classic fake apology: “So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.”

On Oct. 26, 2006, Limbaugh said: “I need to apologize, I was wrong because I speculated either he didn't take his medication or he was acting.” But this, too, wasn't really an apology; instead, Limbaugh noted that Fox's appearance was caused by taking too much medication, and Limbaugh said this was intentional: “I think the reason for that is so you would really, really hate Republicans.”

A year later, Limbaugh had conveniently forgotten his earlier fake apology to Michael J. Fox: “Have I apologized, ladies and gentlemen? No. Have I backtracked from anything I have ever said? Have I backtracked from the Michael J. Fox controversy?”

Right now, the “Limbaugh Museum of Broadcasting” on his website has this about the Fox controversy: “It later turns out that Rush was right: Fox admitted in his own book that he sometimes went without medication in order to illustrate the debilitating effects of his disease.”

No, Rush wasn't right. But the Michael J. Fox controversy shows what a Limbaugh apology really means: absolutely nothing.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rush's 53 Smears Against Sandra Fluke

While Rush Limbaugh has offered his fake apology to Sandra Fluke for calling her a slut and a whore, it's important to recall each of the 53 times last week when Rush insulted Fluke. So I've compiled a comprehensive list, each of them linked to Limbaugh's own transcript of what he said. Does one half-hearted apology make up for 53 smears?

Here are the 53 smears by Rush Limbaugh.

Feb. 29, 2012:

1) “she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills”
2) “they're having so much sex they can't afford the birth control pills!”
3) “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
4) “Sandra Fluke. So much sex going on, they can't afford birth control pills.”

March 1, 2012:

5) “You'd call 'em a slut, a prostitute”
6) “she's having so much sex”
7) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
8) “they want to have sex any time, as many times and as often as they want, with as many partners as they want”
9) “the sexual habits of female law students at Georgetown”
10) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
11) “having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
12) “four out of every ten co-eds are having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
13) “Now, what does that make her? She wants us to buy her sex.”
14) “to pay for these co-eds to have sex”
15) “she and her co-ed classmates are having sex nearly three times a day for three years straight, apparently these deadbeat boyfriends or random hookups that these babes are encountering here, having sex with nearly three times a day”
16) “Therefore we are paying her to have sex. Therefore we are paying her for having sex.”
17) “Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?”
18) “Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
19) “we want something in return, Ms. Fluke: And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money.”
20) “'If we're paying for this, it makes these women sluts, prostitutes.' And what else could it be?”
21) “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right?”
22) “I'm having sex so damn much, I'm going broke.”
23) “She's having so much sex that she's going broke! There's no question about her virtue.”
24) “having so much sex she's going broke at Georgetown Law.”
25) “Here's a woman exercising no self-control. The fact that she wants to have repeated, never-ending, as often as she wants it sex -- given.”
26) “She's having so much sex it's amazing she can still walk, but she made it up there.”
27) “Maybe they're sex addicts.”
28) “to pay for her to have sex all the time.”
29) “she wants the rest of us to pay for her sex.”
30) “She wants all the sex that she wants all the time paid for by the rest of us.”
31) “Here this babe goes before Congress and wants thousands of dollars to pay for her sex.”
32) “a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her-life woman.”
33) “She wants all the sex in the world, whenever she wants it, all the time.”
34) “If this woman wants to have sex ten times a day for three years, fine and dandy.”
35) “to provide women from Georgetown Law unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
36) “so she can have unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
37) “You want to have all the sex you want all day long, no consequences, no responsibility for your behavior”
38) “The woman wants unlimited, no-responsibility, no-consequences sex, and she wants it with contraceptives paid for by us.”

March 2, 2012:

39) "she's having so much sex, she can't afford her birth control pills anymore.”
40) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it -- and we should.”
41) “She's having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
42) “this, frankly hilarious claim that she's having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can't afford it.”
43) “And not one person says, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?'
44) “Does she have more boyfriends? Ha! They're lined up around the block.”
45) "It was Sandra Fluke who said that she was having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
46) “By her own admission, in her own words, Sandra Fluke is having so much sex that she can't afford it.”
47) “they're having a lot of sex for which they need a lot of contraception.”
48) “Her sex life is active and she's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth control pills that she needs.”
49) “who admits to having so much sex that she can't afford it anymore.”
50) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it.”
51) “As frequently as she has sex and to not be pregnant, she's obviously succeeding in contraception.”
52) “Ms. Fluke, asserts her right to free contraceptive, to handle her sex life -- and it's, by her own admission, quite active.”
53) "Ms. Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade, or your contraception?"

DailyKos did a video of Rush's comments:

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Apology, Translated

As an expert on translating Rush Limbaugh's words into what he really means, I would like to offer my services explaining exactly what Limbaugh was really saying in releasing this insincere half-apology to Sandra Fluke. Here is what Limbaugh said, followed in italics by what he was actually thinking:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.

I talk a lot. I can't be held responsible for accidentally saying something over and over again 20 times.

In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation.
My advertisers are upset with me.

I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
It wasn't personal. I was trying to insult all liberal women as sluts and prostitutes, like I always do.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.
Unlike, say, discussing the personal sexual recreational activities of members of Congress like Anthony Weiner, or President Bill Clinton, which was not absurd at all during serious political times.

I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.
Except, of course, for the American citizens like Ms. Fluke who have to pay for birth control pills. What I meant to say is that American corporations shouldn't pay for medical expenses for women.

What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line?

If we allow birth control pills to be covered by insurance like other prescription pills, then pretty soon people may start illegally buying hundreds of thousands of dollars in prescription pills without suffering any penalty.

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?
As we all know, running is a liberal conspiracy which I refuse to obey.

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.

And that's exactly why I kept talking about what Ms. Fluke was doing in her bedroom, to illustrate that it was not my business to know anything about it.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.

I'm so funny, you people can't handle the humor.

I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

I sincerely want people to stop criticizing me for insulting women. I've done it so many times before, I can't believe that this one upset everybody.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rush Limbaugh: Still a Big, Fat Idiot

On Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh made one of the biggest mistakes of his career. He attacked law student Sandra Fluke (calling her “Susan”), and declared: “What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

Limbaugh has a long history of insulting women in crude terms that I detail in my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason. But in the past Limbaugh has usually attacked female politicians and celebrities, not women who merely dared to express their views to Congress. By picking on Fluke, and doing it in an incredibly crude way, Limbaugh made a serious error.

In the past, Limbaugh might have delivered a fake apology or hidden behind his usual defense of claiming to be “joking” and then blame "feminazis" who have no sense of humor. Instead, on Thursday, Limbaugh doubled down and said, "if we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." This was another serious error: by embracing pornography, he alienated the religious conservatives who often support him.

Today, Limbaugh went all in. He not only refused to apologize for his crude remarks, he claimed 14 times that Fluke was some kind of sex-crazed slut:
she's having so much sex, she can't afford her birth control pills anymore.”
she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it -- and we should.”
She's having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
this, frankly hilarious claim that she's having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can't afford it.”
And not one person says, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?'
Does she have more boyfriends? Ha! They're lined up around the block.”
“It was Sandra Fluke who said that she was having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
By her own admission, in her own words, Sandra Fluke is having so much sex that she can't afford it.”
they're having a lot of sex for which they need a lot of contraception.”
Her sex life is active and she's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth control pills that she needs.”
who admits to having so much sex that she can't afford it anymore.”
she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it.”
As frequently as she has sex and to not be pregnant, she's obviously succeeding in contraception.”
Ms. Fluke, asserts her right to free contraceptive, to handle her sex life -- and it's, by her own admission, quite active.”

So that's 14 times in one show that Limbaugh went out and effectively called Fluke a slut, accusing her of having so much sex that she needs birth control. In doing so, Limbaugh displayed not only his sexism, but his total ignorance. Limbaugh actually believes that the amount of birth control pills a woman takes depends on how much sex she has. That simple ignorant belief is the basis for all of his endless “slut” attacks.

Limbaugh concluded his tirade with an unusually bizarre conspiracy theory: “The Obama administration will take away your birth control, and if you let 'em do that, they'll tell you when you can and can't take it. And then they'll tell you when you can and can't have sex, and then they will tell you when you can or cannot have an abortion! You give them this power, that's what they want.”

Limbaugh regularly spouts conspiracy theories about the Obama administration plots to control everything. But it's strange for him to imagine that Obama is plotting to take away birth control, abortion, and sex, when these are conservative plans.

Limbaugh's persecution complex, his bigoted hatred of women, and his increasingly paranoid belief in endless conspiracy theories have all combined to bring him the worst scandal since his illegal purchase of massive quantities of prescription drugs. And Limbaugh predictably blames his own hateful words on a vast left-wing conspiracy against him: “This is all they've got, is to go out and try to discredit their critics, to impugn and discredit the people who disagree with them.”

That's exactly what Rush Limbaugh has done for 25 years, but by picking the wrong target, and refusing to back down, Limbaugh is finally provoking Republican officials to (weakly) condemn what he has said. For years, Limbaugh has made Republicans too terrified to utter a word of critique against him. Now, calling women sluts for using birth control pills may finally be the moment when the pompous fool took his comedy routine one step too far.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We're All Feminazis Now: Limbaugh's Long History of Sexism

We're All Feminazis Now: Limbaugh's Long History of Sexism
Rush Limbaugh is a sexist pig, and he's proud of his misogyny. One of Limbaugh's most famous statements is, “Feminism was established so that unattractive women could have easier access to the mainstream of society.”

Limbaugh sometimes does defend women, if they are conservative. He complained about the media treatment of Sarah Palin and declared, “Nobody should be attacked because they’re a woman.” Nobody, unless it's a liberal woman like Sandra Fluke.

Today, Limbaugh repeated his offensive comments attacking Fluke, declaring: “She's having so much sex it's amazing she can still walk.” Limbaugh noted,
I said, "If we're paying for this, it makes these women sluts, prostitutes." And what else could it be? If we are buying it.

Limbaugh's comments were not only sexist, they were bizarre. Limbaugh apparently doesn't understand how birth control pills work because he said about Fluke, “Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?” Limbaugh seems to think that the number of birth control pills women take depends on how sex they have.

Back in 2010, Limbaugh declared:
I've called nobody a "bitch," I called nobody a "whore," I called nobody a "slut," as some called Sharron Angle and some called Meg Whitman. All Republican women were called b-i-itch, slut and whore.

Of course, Limbaugh was lying then, and now he's open about calling liberal women “sluts.”

In my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, I devote a chapter to Limbaugh's sexism. Here's a few highlights:

Limbaugh is particularly fearful of women controlling men. He wrote, "Militant feminists are pro-choice because it's their ultimate avenue of power over men....It is their attempt to impose their will on the rest of society, particularly on men." Only Limbaugh could imagine that supporting the right of women to control their own bodies is intended solely to exert power over men.

Limbaugh's sexism includes joking about rape. He once played video from a rape trial, laughing and saying “I'm trying not to laugh” as a traumatized woman detailed anal rape.

Rush even compared criticism of him from feminists to the genocidal murders in Bosnia, accusing feminists of "political cleansing": "It's just like this ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. They're trying to wipe out and shut up all the opposition."

Early in his talk show career, Limbaugh called the National Organization for Women “a terrorist organization” and described two members of the group on the air as “ugly dogs.”

Limbaugh would play the 1966 song “Born a Woman”: “A woman’s place in this old world/Is under some man’s thumb/And if you’re born a woman/You’re born to be hurt” and then yell, “She said hurt, not heard.”

Limbaugh’s view of women is perhaps best expressed by this anecdote he told about his cat:
My cat comes to me when she wants to be fed. I have learned this. I accept it for what it is. Many people in my position would think my cat's coming to me because she loves me. Well, she likes me, and she is attached, but she comes to me when she wants to be fed. And after I feed her -- guess what -- she's off to wherever she wants to be in the house, until the next time she gets hungry. She's smart enough to know she can't feed herself. She's actually a very smart cat. She gets loved. She gets adoration. She gets petted. She gets fed. And she doesn't have to do anything for it, which is why I say this cat's taught me more about women, than anything my whole life. But we put voices in their mouths.
Limbaugh may be most famous for popularizing the word “feminazi.” For decades, Limbaugh has been using the term, 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.” The comparison of feminists fighting for gender equality to the most brutal and murderous regime in human history should shock everyone. But he delights in repeating the word over and over again.

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. A feminazi is two things: a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that every abortion possible happens. I've not found more than 20 of those.”

He must have found a lot more, because Limbaugh said today: “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” Wanting equality for women's health insurance coverage now makes you a “feminazi,” according to Limbaugh. The man who claimed that he's never called more than 20 women “feminazis” is now declaring that believing, as a majority of Americans do, that birth control should be covered by health insurance makes you a “feminazi.” We're all feminazis now.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Condemned as "Not a Real Person" By Rush Limbaugh, a Small Businesswoman Speaks Out

Saying something idiotic is a daily occupation for Rush Limbaugh, as I note in my book about him, but today he outdid himself. Limbaugh spouted a particularly bizarre conspiracy theory, claiming that the Obama Administration had created a fake twitter account in order to pretend that people supported a cut in the payroll tax. The only problem was that the twitter account is a real small businesswoman, and Limbaugh's reasoning for why it must be fake (that self-employed people don't get a payroll tax cut) was completely wrong.

Limbaugh's parade of error began this morning when the Obama Administration urged people to tweet messages about what a $40 payroll tax cut would mean to them. One reply was from a twitter account named Scarebaby: "$40 a month means I can pay my Internet bill and keep my tiny small business alive."

Limbaugh seized upon this statement as proof of a fraud:
it's BS. Nobody actually sent that. That's a White House-generated response. And do you know how I know?...ScareBaby cannot possibly have a small business and get this payroll tax cut. The self-employed don't get it. If you are self-employed, you know it. This doesn't even apply to you. There is no payroll tax cut for the self-employed.
The only problem with Limbaugh's conspiracy theory is that it's based a completely false presumption. As Money Magazine points out, “The extension also applies to self-employed individuals.” Self-employed people pay both the employee and the employer payroll taxes, so naturally they would receive the Obama tax cut for employees.

Yet Limbaugh declared, “this is obviously not a real person. This is somebody in the White House getting this Tweet ball rolling.”

Scarebaby had a message for Rush, and she tweeted, “rushlimbaugh do your homework before you accuse someone of not existing. A simple google search would find that I am a real businessperson.” Scarebaby, who does T-shirt designs (including pro-Obama designs), is indeed very real. Yet Limbaugh returned to her again later in the show, repeating his lie that Scarebaby was the secret identity of a White House employee and claiming falsely once again about the payroll tax cut, “No self-employed person gets the payroll tax cut. You gotta be an employee.”

One tweeted, “We all know you are a White House plant.” Another responded, “a WH plant has more brains than this moron of a fraud.” A third tweeted, “Hey @scarebaby, try not making an idiot of yourself. Rush speaks truth, never slime.” Another wrote, “Like #Rush said she wudn't qualify 4 PR cuts as biz owner. And Obama followers r stupid anyway.” Another tweeted, “No Scarebaby, you have been outed. Marxist scumbag/useful idiot. How much does the dictator pay you to post such drivel?”

I emailed the contact email for Scarebaby on her website. She responded and identified herself as Holly Hertzel:
Yes, I am a real person. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I own a number of shops on the internet, including one called Scarebaby Design ( These shops are my only source of income. I am not, and never have been, a White House employee, an Obama employee, nor an employee of any organization that works for the Democratic Party.

I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to Limbaugh. She responded,
I would appreciate a public apology and retraction from him, as his comments have not only caused me personal anguish (being called a fraud, a liar and worse, on Twitter), but may have been injurious to my business and livelihood. I understand that he's just an entertainer, but his followers who spread his falsehoods seem not to know the difference between entertainment and fact.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh isn't just an entertainer. He's one of the leading sources of information for conservatives, with an audience of gullible millions. When a man with that much influence on the right is repeatedly willing to falsely smear a small businesswoman in order to promote a crazy conspiracy theory, it shows just how moronic the conservative movement has become.

Crossposted at DailyKos.