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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Limbaugh on Killer: "Maybe We Ought to Listen to Him"

Rush Limbaugh hadn't commented on Norway's mass murderer Anders Breivik until today's show.

In response to a conservative caller who urged opposition to Muslim extremists and right-wing extremist, Limbaugh said about Breivik: “Maybe we ought to listen to him.”

Rush was claiming that after 9-11, Bush's State Department had asked “Why do they hate us?” and suggested he was simply doing the same. Limbaugh tried to rewrite history, declaring that “Obama, after 9/11, said he had empathy for the terrorists” and said that “they were blameless” As Obama's actual words show, Obama said nothing like that. Obama actually said that the terrorism was caused by a lack of empathy for others, and Obama never suggested that the terrorists were “blameless.”

Limbaugh claimed, “This guy in Norway, I've been waiting for that call.” But strangely, Limbaugh claimed to be unaware at first that the killer was a right-wing extremist. After a break, when he apparently had a moment to research the issue further, Limbaugh continued to urge listening to Breivik. Rush also offered a paranoid suggestion that the openly conservative caller was secretly plotting to trap him: “I knew what the caller was trying to do.”

Rush tried to claim that Breivik was just a “run-of-the-mill Neo-Nazi.” According to Limbaugh, “This guy is a lunatic, he's against everybody, not just Muslims.” Obviously, Limbaugh does not endorse the mass murder of children. But he wanted to make sure that Breivik's right-wing ideas were not criticized. Limbaugh called Breivik's manifesto “a plagiarist of the Unabomber, who loved Al Gore.”

Limbaugh even said about Breivik, “He was not a Christian.” Bizarrely, Rush claimed that in Norway, “If you're non-Muslim, everybody's called a Christian.” That will probably come as a surprise to all the atheists, Jews, Buddhists, and various other believers in Norway.

Oddly, Limbaugh said that he had refused to state “my original thought” on the massacre, and declined to answer when the caller asked him about it. This indicates that Rush probably does have a strong sympathy for the killer's views, which mirrors much of the same rhetoric Limbaugh uses against liberals and the left. Earlier in the show, Limbaugh declared that everything Obama and the Democrats do is “poison” for America. But Rush understands that expressing agreement with a mass murderer is beyond the pale even for him.

Limbaugh still declared repeatedly, “Maybe we should listen to him,” but did so in a way that he could deny any responsibility and claim (falsely) to be doing the same thing as liberals after 9-11. In reality, repeating “Maybe we should listen to him” conveys the message of Limbaugh's sympathy with a mass murderer's hateful ideas.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Limbaugh Announces Potential Debt Ceiling Deal

A few minutes ago on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh announced the latest potential deal for raising the debt ceiling.

He spoke an hour ago with House Speaker John Boehner, who “filled me in on what is the latest proposal on the table.” According to Boehner via Limbaugh, “Boehner and Reid and McConnell are working among themselves.” Limbaugh said, “Sen. McConnell is on the same page with Boehner now.”

Limbaugh said, “The deal is that they're going to offer Obama $1.1 trillion in cuts, $1 trillion in debt limit increase,” and “appoint six members of each chamber to recommend the cuts.” “Each Congressional leader will get three appointees.”

Limbaugh said of the deal, “This short-term deal has no tax increases in it.” He added, “These are real rate cuts. There will not be any defense cuts in the 1.1 trillion.” According to Limbaugh, “The second round would require a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment.” I take that to mean that the Republicans would demand a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment next spring before extending the debt limit, but not demand its passage.

When Limbaugh asked if the $1.1 trillion in cuts would happen now or later, he said Boehner told him, “the 12 members of the blue-ribbon panel will make that decision.” Limbaugh worried, “We don't know what the cuts are and we don't know when they will occur.” He said, “This takes us through next April.”

Limbaugh seemed skeptical of the deal: “I'm still assimilating all of this.” But he didn't condemn the deal and seemed mildly supportive of this fact: “They are denying Obama what he really wants, which is a deal that will take them beyond 2012.” Limbaugh declared to Obama, “You're not even in the game at all.”

Is this real? I have no reason to doubt Limbaugh's close relationship to leading Republicans. I'm more skeptical of whether Harry Reid is on board with this. But an AP story indicates it might be real.

But I take this potential deal as a hopeful sign in many ways. Yes, it simply postpones the debt ceiling debate for another 9-12 months. But this is a losing issue for the Republicans, when Obama has repeatedly offered a long-term solution to the problem. As for the $1.1 trillion in cuts, it's far from ideal, but having six Democrats on the blue-ribbon committee means that there will not be cuts controlled by Republicans. The fact that Limbaugh is uncertain about this suggests it's not such a terrible deal for liberals, considering the dire circumstances that Republicans have put this country in. Obama will take a political hit by backing down from a veto threat now, but next spring he'll be able to do an “I told you so” when another debt crisis looms and the Republicans will be, once again, standing for the principle of tax cuts for wealthy, which will hurt them in the elections.

As always, it's so bizarre that the Republican leaders are running to a right-wing crackpot like Rush Limbaugh to announce their plans and desperately try to convince him not to bring the conservative movement down against this. As I note in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, it shows how much the Republican politicians must bow before Limbaugh, no matter how much it harms the country.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Limbaugh Lies to 13-Year-Old Girl

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh told a 13-year-old girl who called the show that he was “documented to be right 99.6% of the time,” in response to her mentioning that she had heard he was right 99% of the time. There's only one problem with Limbaugh's assertion: it's a total fabrication.

I don't mean “fabrication” in the sense that I disagree with the people who document that Limbaugh is right 99.6% of the time. I mean “fabrication” in the sense that there are no documents, no audit, no people measuring Limbaugh's accuracy. Limbaugh simply is making it all up and inventing an arbitrary number that makes him sound authoritative.

That's right: Limbaugh actually has the audacity to completely fabricate his own accuracy ratings. And he does this regularly, declaring his accuracy ratings to be above 99% on almost a weekly basis.

For almost his entire career as a talk show host, Limbaugh has claimed to have a highly specific measure of his accuracy, declaring in 1992 that he is right "97.9 per cent of the time."

By 2009, Limbaugh was claiming, “I have an official opinion auditing firm, the Sullivan Group in Sacramento. They just last week released an audit of my opinion since the election. As you know, I went into the election documented to be almost always right 98.9%. I have jumped a full tenth of a point. I have not been wrong since the election, according to Sullivan Group, the opinion audit now documented to be almost always right 99% of the time.”

The Sullivan Group is an investment brokerage firm started by Limbaugh’s friend Tom Sullivan, who hosted a show at Limbaugh's original station KFBK in Sacramento (and now hosts a show on Fox News Radio and the Fox Business Network). The Sullivan Group, which Sullivan sold to Prudential Securities in 1986, would have no expertise in documenting opinions, and the entire reference is an inside joke by Limbaugh. There is no audit of Limbaugh's accuracy by The Sullivan Group or anyone else, and the whole idea of auditing opinions rather than facts is silly. It's simply a way of mocking his enemies and even his own audience by getting them to think there is some kind of statistical basis to his claim to being right.

Limbaugh explained, “they only audit opinions. They don't audit whether I misspeak on a fact or something like.” He added, “it is a massively complex -- I mean the server farm to handle all this, folks, fills rooms at the Sullivan Group. I mean this is even more complicated than trying to explain my diet.” Obviously, there is no computer program that could measure the accuracy of opinions, nor is there any “server farm” filling rooms that would be needed to run it. In this unique instance, Limbaugh was detailed enough about the “audit” to reveal to a careful listener what a fraud it was. But on most shows, Limbaugh simply declares that he is “documented to be almost always right 99.8% of the time.” Magically, his error rate dropped from 1 percent to 0.2 percent in less than a month in 2009. Limbaugh's claims to be almost perfect in his accuracy have grown precisely when his dishonesty and inaccuracy on the air has reached new heights.

As I document in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason (Thomas Dunne Books, March 2011), Limbaugh is a professional liar who routinely spreads false rumors and lies about his enemies.

Yet not one media outlet I've found has ever reported on Limbaugh's fakery. It should be a scandal that the leading conservative regularly fabricates accuracy ratings in order to deceive his gullible listeners. This is not a new story. But there's something just so sleazy about Limbaugh directly lying to a 13-year-old who trusts him because she thinks there's scientific proof that Rush is always right.

Crossposted at DailyKos.