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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rush Compares Obama to Dog

Today, Rush Limbaugh called the president of the United States a dumb animal, comparing Obama to Limbaugh's dog:
One of our dogs -- poor Wellesley, cutest little sheepdog puppy -- just no matter what we do... You know, I'm sitting on the couch, and Kathryn will come home and the dogs go nuts when Kathryn comes home; and this dog, I'll have the iPad, and I'll be flitting around on the couch, too. She'll just attack. She just starts licking me and I put my arms up to protect myself. "No, Wellesley, no," and Kathryn says, "She just doesn't know." Well, Obama just doesn't know. He just doesn't know. He thinks that attacking corporate air travel and corporate air manufacturing happens in a vacuum.

Of course, this assertion that Obama “doesn't know” anything runs in direct contradiction to Limbaugh's favorite conspiracy theory, that Obama is intentionally destroying the American economy in order to expand his political power. But intellectual consistency has never been Limbaugh's strongest trait.

But this attack on Obama as a dumb animal came because Obama spoke out against tax breaks for the owners of private jets. As the owner of a very expensive private jet, a $54 million Gulfstream G550, Limbaugh cannot tolerate having his luxuries critiqued. Of course, Limbaugh's economic analysis, claiming that tax breaks for the wealthy are the only things keeping aloft the private jet industry (and, apparently the whole American economy) is idiotic. However, Limbaugh never met a tax break for the wealthy that he didn't like.

As I note in my book about Limbaugh, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, he often compares Democrats to dogs, although in the past he has almost always reserved this attack for women. 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 also mocked Rosie O'Donnell by saying, "I'm telling you, the deal was about the dog biscuits that they gave her on the floor in the dressing room were just the wrong flavor. They couldn't come to an agreement on the flavor of the Ken-L Ration that she eats."

Limbaugh also compares the children to liberals to dogs, as he did to Chelsea Clinton. On November 6, 1992, 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.” Over the years, Limbaugh has tried to lie about this and pretend that he never arranged the dog-Chelsea comparison on his TV show.

So the newest comparison of his enemies to dogs should surprise no one. But it's typical of Limbaugh that he compares Obama to a dumb dog precisely on an issue where it's Limbaugh who has an idiotic perspective.

Crossposted at Daily Kos.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Myth of the Muslim 57 States

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) last week announced on the floor of the House of Representatives that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim who announced his devotion to a global caliphate in 2008 by referring to 57 states. Here's the crazy:

GOHMERT: And I know the President made the mistake one day of saying he had visited all 57 states, and I'm well aware that there are not 57 states in this country, although there are 57 members of OIC, the Islamic states in the world. Perhaps there was some confusion whether he'd been to all 57 Islamic states as opposed to all 50 U.S. states. But nonetheless, we have an obligation to the 50 American states, not the 57 Muslim, Islamic states. Our oath we took is in this body, in this House. And it's to the people of America. And it's not to the Muslim Brotherhood, who may very well take over Egypt and once they do, they are bent upon setting up a caliphate around the world, including the United States. And this administration will been [sic] complicit in helping people who wants [sic] to destroy our country.
This loony conspiracy theory has been around for a long time, as Snopes notes. There’s a very simple explanation for Obama’s slip of the tongue in this youtube video that's been watched more than three million times:

Obama said in this 2008 visit to Oregon that he had visited 57 states, “one left to go” and then noted that he couldn’t go to Alaska and Hawaii because it was too far to justify. So, Obama was trying to visit all 48 continental states, and he was trying to say that he had been to 47 states. It’s very easy to say 57 instead of 47. “fifty” is similar to “forty” and when we talk about the states, it is ingrained in all of us to say “50 states” instinctively.
It’s true that people mocked George W. Bush for his slips of the tongue, although Obama's “57 states” slip wouldn't even come close to making the top 25 Bushisms. But no Bush critic even went back three years and imagined some crazy Muslim plot was behind a slip of the tongue. This lunacy deserves a lot more media coverage, to expose just how far the wingnuts of the conservative movement have gone.

Rush Limbaugh is a particular fan of the “57 states” slip. He has referred to it at least 22 times on his show (I can provide the links for anyone who is interested). In the past month alone, Limbaugh has twice referred to the three-year-old “gaffe.”

Back in 2008, Rush Limbaugh decided to tweak the media and declared, “Obama said he's going to campaign in 57 states, and it turns out that there are 57 Islamic states.” This goofy comment has now become the theory of bigoted Republicans speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Why has Obama Derangement Syndrome reached the point where the right-wing is obsessed with delusional Muslim conspiracy theories over one very minor slip of the tongue by a presidential candidate three years ago? It reflects both the racism and the anger of the far right, who believe that “all liberals are idiots” (to quote Rush Limbaugh) and must flail at pathetic evidence to prove the evil and stupidity of Barack Obama, when all it does is reveal their own idiocy and bigotry.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rush Limbaugh Sells Out the Tea Party

Rush Limbaugh has always sought to make himself rich from the tea party movement, by turning the discontent of Americans from the Bush Recession into profitable listeners who delight in hearing him blame “the Obama recession” for all their problems since two days after Obama was elected in 2008.

But now Limbaugh has decided that the tea party movement really is a sucker born every minute, and so he's going to make more money off them by selling them bottles of tea, with a label hilariously featuring Limbaugh dressed up as Paul Revere on a horse, except that he's holding a bottle of his own tea instead of a bell, or whatever it was Sarah Palin said was used to warn the British. (In fairness, Limbaugh's site offers a history of Paul Revere that is actually accurate, unlike Palin's.)

Today on his show, Limbaugh announced that he is selling “Two If By Tea.” Limbaugh proclaimed “the labels are works of art” and even added, “it's the best shrink wrap to go along with the best tea.”

According to his website, “Two If By Tea™ is made just the way my mother used to make it.” However, Rush explained on his radio show, “this is real tea brewed in giant vats” and added, “this assembly line has created jobs.” Perhaps Rush's mother used to make her tea in giant vats on an assembly line, but I doubt it.

Limbaugh proclaimed that buying his tea was a stand for America: “Fellow Americans, hold on to our exceptional values, stand up against those who want to suppress your individual rights and above all take pride in being an American! While you’re at it, join me in drinking a bottle of my tea as we admire the great United States of America and the military and law enforcement officials who fight to defend our freedom every day. Thank God, yes God, for the blessings of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and of course, this wonderful drink - Two If By Tea™!”

The website explains, “The Liberals are coming. My good friend Paul Revere laid out the blueprint of how to deal with this. Sound the alarm! One if by land, Two If By Tea™!” What this bad pun would seem to mean is that liberals are invading America via tea, if any of it made sense.

Limbaugh's site declares, “Each bottle is designed to rise above the sameness and mediocrity that threatens our great nation. Just grab a 12-pack and join the fight to preserve the America we know and love. It's worth it!” Worth it? Patriotism is expensive. Limbaugh is charging $23.76 per case, or $1.99 per bottle, an extraordinary markup on 16 oz. of tea. By charging over $15 a gallon for his tea (more than four times the price of gasoline), Limbaugh is simply trying to turn his dutiful listeners in a profit machine.

Limbaugh claims that part of the money he'll make will go to charity, but he's been telling different stories about exactly how much. The website promises a $100,000 donation to the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation. Limbaugh proclaimed that “a portion of each sale goes to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation” but he also said that “a percentage of the profits are going to” the charity. So which one is it? Limbaugh loves to use the military to make more money, such as when he asks fans to give him money in order to provide a free Rush 24/7 subscription to soldiers, with Rush and his company making a healthy profit. His tea seems to be just another cynical manipulation of patriotism to line his own pockets.

This week, Politico revealed something that I had reported in my book about Limbaugh, that his praise for the Heritage Foundation is a product of the $2 million a year that Heritage gives him to promote their work.

Limbaugh has been a dutiful promoter of his advertisers. Limbaugh declared that he was “continually amazed that the Heritage Foundation” produced its right-wing analysis. Not convincingly, he added, “I'm not saying this because they're a sponsor." Of course, Limbaugh was saying that precisely because they're a sponsor. In fact, he charged them an enormous amount of money for what he said.

Remarkably, in the middle of one ad, Rush proclaimed, "I, my friends, am a long time member of the Heritage Foundation, I'm not a comp member, either, I pay for it, I don't accept comps, I don't want to be obligated, I don't like conflicts of interest.” To Limbaugh, taking something for free is a conflict of interest, but getting paid $2 million to promote an organization is not.

Of course, Limbaugh denounces the leaders of liberal non-profit groups who “do not have normal jobs” while he praises non-profit conservative groups like Heritage. It's all a question of profits. That's what motivates Limbaugh.

Selling overpriced tea with his face on it is just another way for Limbaugh to make money from his gullible listeners.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rush and Breitbart: The Lunatics of the Right

The June 2011 issue of The Limbaugh Letter features Rush's interview with Andrew Breitbart, and it's an unintentionally illuminating look into the dark soul of a sick and hateful man. The Limbaugh Letter is not online, but as the author of a new book about Limbaugh, I have a subscription. Most of the issue recycles a few of Limbaugh's tirades, such as his bizarre demand after the killing of Osama bin Laden that “the left owes us an apology” because “the primary obstacle to achieving the end of bin Laden was the Democrat Party.”

But I devote a book to analyzing the partisan insanity of Rush Limbaugh, so let's just look at the only original aspect of The Limbaugh Letter: the interview with Breitbart. The interview begins with Rush calling Breitbart “my boy” and the mutual love fest grows from there.

Breitbart explains why he became a conservative: “The humiliation of having to get a wait job in fancy Los Angeles, waiting on college and high school friends who were on the fast track to Hollywood success, was a wakeup call.” He resented them for “knowing the right people and possessing the politically correct philosophy of liberalism.” Of course, none of this makes sense, since Breitbart claims he was a liberal at the time, so his ideology had nothing to do with his failures. Breitbart's final words in the interview return to this petulant envy: “I consider David Geffen, Ari Emanuel, all these Hollywood people, they're bullies, they're elitist, they take my lovely 7 o'clock reservations and make me sit near the wait station at 9 o'clock. It's personal.”

Breitbart is admitting that personal hatred at the Hollywood left motivated his return to his parents' conservative views. Ironically, Breitbart became a conservative because of his hatred of wealthy people. Since the rich people where he worked as a waiter happened to be liberal, Breitbart became a conservative.

Bizarrely, he also admits that he disliked Limbaugh until his hatred of bands such as Nirvana led him back to the right: “because of my pure hatred for grunge music, during the 1992 election cycle I grudgingly switched from the FM dial to the AM dial, and I started to listen to you.”

Breitbart also contends that conservatism cured his insomnia: “I used to have insomnia. I think that insomnia was borne of existing in a world in which I believed in nothing. I haven't had insomnia since I embraced conservatism.”

Breitbart espouses conspiracy theories, claiming that American culture is “tilted to the left, on purpose in an organized and conspiratorial fashion.” And he wants his own conspiracy, criticizing those “conservative millionaires and billionaires who don't recognize that our culture is there for the taking.”

Breitbart proudly discussed one of his most recent scams, the student who took video of a labor studies course at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Breitbart posted manipulated videos on his website in an effort to smear the professors. The administration at the university concluded that the videos Breitbart posted were “heavily distorted” and inaccurate.

What's interesting to me is how Breitbart describes this college course: “it showed them in full-throttle indoctrination of the children into communism.” Beyond the bizarre idea that an analysis of labor union actions is “communism,” consider how strange it is that Breitbart regards college students as “children” who are suffering “indoctrination” at the hands of their professors and must be protected from these “bullies.” Breitbart regards other people as dolts and children, idiots who can be controlled by the owners of cultural institutions and incapable of resisting the power of “bullies” who express different points of view than Breitbart's.

Limbaugh defended Breitbart in this interview by telling him, “You've not edited your footage to have somebody saying something they didn't say, which is a common practice on the other side. It's hilarious to watch you be lectured on this stuff.” Actually, Breitbart definitely has edited his footage to have somebody saying something they didn't say. That's precisely what Breitbart has done on many occasions (while Limbaugh offers no evidence of anyone on the left who does this).

Breitbart was quite open about his techniques: “What we do at the end of the day, is the gang tackle. If we see somebody being bullied, like Trig, Palin's kid, I go: 'Sic 'em.' And I say, “Make sure there isn't an ounce of meat left on their bones when you're done.' That is my business model: I hate bullies. I've always hated them.” Breitbart has a bizarre imagination, to claim that Trig Palin is being bullied, and then to invoke the violent imagery of stripping the flesh from the bones of his enemies.

The interview offers some insights into the mental illnesses of Andrew Breitbart, of how an untalented man who failed to make it in Hollywood turned his resentment as a waiter at the success of others into a highly successful career as a right-wing hit man, a brainless bully who imagines himself to be a superhero of the right standing up against the “bullies” who dare to criticize any conservatives.

Crossposted at DailyKos.