Monday, March 05, 2012

The Limbaugh Effect: His Non-Apology, And Now There Are Twelve, And Counting

AOL and now Bonobos, Sears, and Allstate Insurance have become the latest companies to pull their advertising from Rush Limbaugh's show.

What Rush Limbaugh did by smearing and dehumanizing a private citizen on his syndicated radio show to a reported audience of 20 million, has no counterpart in mainstream media. (For the millionth time: Beltway Media/Idiot Punditocracy — both sides DO NOT do it.) He didn't just put his foot in his mouth and say something vile and "inappropriate" (as the inappropriate John Boehner commented reluctantly) one time — no, Limbaugh dragged a young 30-year-old law student's name through the mud with the most despicable ad hominems, he called her a "slut" and a "prostitute," for three consecutive days. Her 'crime'? Testifying before a Congressional panel on women's need for contraception for medical conditions other than preventing pregnancy, such as treating ovarian cysts, recounting the tragic circumstance of a friend who could not afford the out-of-pocket expense of contraceptive pills to pay for it.

That's the first and most important point. Rush Limbaugh savaged a young woman with malice aforethought. To his surprise, she was far more poised defending herself than the big fat bully expected. Limbaugh has, I think, serious psychological issues with women. Here's an individual who has been married four times, has no children, and displays a pronounced hostility to women with recurring misogynistic attacks from his radio perch. It's devolved beyond mere "entertainment" to full-bore hate speech. Women are the most common targets of his bilious venom.

Following the outrage to Limbaugh's words from women taking the lead, because they have an intimate biological knowledge of their medical needs that men, doctors and patients, do not possess on a physical and psychological level, twelve advertisers (and counting) have pulled their advertising from Limbaugh's show. I do not favor silencing Limbaugh, as despicable and piggish as he is. It isn't necessary. Conservatives who are always preaching of their deity, an unfettered market and the "invisible hand" of "market forces," should not be whining about the boycott Rush efforts sprouting like wildfire in social media. Let the market decide; let Clear Channel (which is owned in part by Bain Capital, perhaps explaining Romney's failure to condemn Limbaugh's conduct) decide whether keeping him on, with his fat contract, is advantageous to their bottom line. At the very least a suspension is in order.

Fox made a similar decision with regard to Glenn Beck. Although the show that replaced his is in many ways just as objectionable, an important precedent was reinforced: there are no sacred cows in this business. Once Beck's advertising dried up and his ratings paralleled his descent into madness, paranoia and extremism, he was gone. He's still around, ripping suckers off their retirement money, but now he runs a subscription service so we don't get assaulted with the blowback from his garbage as much as when he wielded a big Fox megaphone. Sure, he piggybacked off Rush to smear a private citizen, but now, those so inclined have to dig to find his excrement. Glenn Beck is become a niche market for consumers and analysts of wingnut droppings. Ours is to keep exposing their ugliness until critical mass and oblivion is achieved. Beck is finished as a public hate-monger. Rush is next; he's wobbling. He'll probably survive this, but in a much diminished capacity. His hateship is crippled and listing. The public, once enlightened, will reject the hate speech and spare us all the vitriol.

Let the market speak for itself: Carbonite, which advertises on both liberal talk radio, such as the Ed Show and Stephanie Miller, and the Limbaugh show, dropped its advertising after Limbaugh released his non-apology. Said Carbonite's CEO, David Friend:
“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
Mr. Friend went on to say in his company's blog, "As an advertiser, we do not have control over a show’s editorial content or what they say on air. Carbonite does not endorse the opinions of the shows or their hosts... However, the outcry over Limbaugh is the worst we’ve ever seen. I have scheduled a face-to-face meeting next week with Limbaugh during which I will impress upon him that his comments were offensive to many of our customers and employees alike... Please know your voice has been heard and that we are taking this matter very seriously." ProFlowers, the latest company to pull its advertising from Limbaugh's show (before AOL and the others today), said his attacks "went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company." The other companies in addition to Carbonite and ProFlowers, AOL and the latest cited above, to have pulled their ads from Limbaugh's show are: mortgage lender Quicken Loans, mattress retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, software maker Citrix Systems Inc. and online legal document services company LegalZoom. They deserve our support and our business as good corporate citizens.

The companies that continue advertising with Limbaugh should expect to suffer the business consequences of their choice. In these times of social media, boycotts aren't necessary. Millions of potential customers armed with this information will simply take their business elsewhere to companies that do not subsidize misogynistic hate speech.

The second point pertains to the utter imbecility and chauvinism of Rush Limbaugh. It is a demonstrable fact that people who listen to hate radio and Fox are the most misinformed segment of the American electorate. Significantly, partly as a consequence of Limbaugh's vicious attack on Sandra Fluke, the support among all women and moderate "independent" women for the Democratic Party over the Republican Party for control of Congress has flipped: last summer, this demographic supported the Republican Party by 46% to 39%; today, the Democratic Party is favored over the Republicans by 48% to 37%. The simple fact is that Limbaugh's antediluvian, ignorant attitudes concerning women's issues, which had been resolved, it was thought, more than 30 years ago, represent widely held views within the overwhelmingly white, older male Republican Party. When Limbaugh talks, Republicans listen. Literally. That is, they dare not talk back. They're skeert of Rush; just ask George Will.

Like this crop of unethical Republicans presuming to legislate morality and to practice medicine without a license, Limbaugh absurdly believes birth control pills should be popped like Viagra, each time a woman has sex. Likewise, this conservative talking point that the "taxpayers" are bankrolling a government mandate is completely erroneous. Contraception is already part of a wide variety of medical services covered by insurance, including Viagra and vasectomies for men. Contraceptive services are deemed a cost-saver by the insurance companies because the alternative would be a rise in costlier medical care and procedures for unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Finally, there is no equivalent on the left to the hate speech of the extremist right. There is no "far left" or "hard left" as some insatiably ignorant members of the Beltway Media insist on framing ideological issues, attempting to differentiate their corporate media elite selves from the rest of us. It sounds ludicrous, coming from Newt Gingrich and the GOP 'baser' crazies, but they are correct, in this sense. The difference is not between a mythical "far left" and the increasingly right wing, increasingly extremist Republican Party. The ideological divide of this nation is between a wide progressive consensus on the true center left; a conservative to center-right oligarchy composed of corporate, media and governing elites; and an extremist proto- and neo-fascist dangerous insurgency of disaffected conservatives, be they evangelicals or the so-called Tea Party, and the far right, which has taken control of the Republican Party. Libertarian conservatives like Dylan Ratigan, who say "a pox on both houses," are missing the point, I think, deliberately.

They're not free agents or lovers of "liberty." They are simply a faction of the Republican Party which is in revolt and which has contributed to the state of our politics today. They are essentially anti-government, anti- (big 'D')emocrat and hope to see this President fail so they can bring about their confused, irrational version of government and politics. Given their extreme bias against government and government-driven solutions, they lack a fundamental understanding of how it works — incrementalism is a good and positive thing, as long as we're moving forward. And by arresting the progress this President has made, within two years, before he had time to consolidate his government, and then whining about the government works they helped to gum up is beyond contemptible, closer to treason. But that's just me. Those who said 'let's give the Teabaggers a shot' may not be traitors only insofar as they're so damned stupid.

This racist, anti-woman, pro-Rush Limbaugh/GOP misogyny is what the anti-government fervor against a black man in the White House, who has proposed generational post-partisan politics, has wrought. So to the imbeciles who insist there's no difference between the parties, and who must consistently lie to make this point or push a libertarian (which is another word for stupid and ignorant) agenda, with its racist core and anti-woman policies, watch this:

This was for Dylan Ratigan, Chuck Todd, Jonathan Capehart, and yes, even Chris Matthews, because of his stubborn adherence to this false equivalence Beltway worldview. There are more, but these gentlemen are repeat offenders in wrong analysis of the true ideological divide that exists in our politics, shorn of the controlling, elitist, corporatist penumbra that is their Beltway world. They perpetuate this myth about our political divide, that somehow our parties are equally to blame for not finding common ground, when the truth is the blame lies squarely on the Republicans.

Consider these charts on the range of liberal-conservative deviation of the parties in the House from 1879 to 2011; i.e., Jonathan's and Chris's 'far' or 'hard' left and 'far' right; frankly, liberals and progressives are fed up with the Beltway's fake narrative, that insists the parties are being dominated "by their extremes." That, quite simply, is a "big lie."

Here's the truth in graphical format. The bottom dark blue line represents liberal Democrats. As you can see, it has remained fairly constant for some 130 years. The lighter blue line represents moderate Democrats. Historically, moderate Democrats are slightly more liberal than in the period between the 40s through the early 70s; but in the main, moderate Democrats have been constant and centrist, with a slight uptick lately tilting conservative. Compare this fairly constant historical ideological posture of House Democrats to the Republicans. See the two red lines? The so-called "moderate" Republicans today have surpassed their "conservative" plateau of yesteryear, and the onetime "conservatives" are literally off the charts, well into right wing extremism, also known in the real world as fascism. So which party, again, is dominated by its "extremes," hmm ... Chris and Jonathan?

I suppose Republican Christine Todd Whitman could be portrayed as a “moderate” in this REPUBLICAN-CREATED toxic political climate. But as George W. Bush's EPA Administrator Whitman threw the 9/11 first responders — ravaged by the EPA’s toxic air coverup — under the bus, to avoid liability. In this context, she will forever be viewed as an anti-environmentalist “conservative” when the stakes for people’s lives couldn’t have been higher. And CONSERVATIVE Democrat Blanche Lincoln, an anti-environmentalist Big Oil lapdog who voted against unions and compensation for BP oil spill victims, was similarly feted and bemoaned by Chris, as a false symbol of the “extremes” taking over both parties when she lost re-election after defeating a true moderate Democrat, who by most accounts had a better chance to keep the seat Democratic. This revisionism of Chris’s only underscores that it isn’t the Party that has strayed left from its ideological constancy and moorings; Chris has.

You’re become more conservative, pal. (Hell, Chris, you're friends with Kathleen Parker and Pat Buchanan, you watch, then use Bill O'Reilly's anti-liberal propaganda, and you call Limbaugh "Rushbo." Is this a liberal? Heh, I don't think so. More like skirting the edges of the red zone, just outside the 20-yard line.) And Blanche Lincoln had become so conservative that she jumped the most conservative Democratic Party shark and got herself unelected. Harry Truman put it well:
"I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign."
I totally commiserate with Rachel on the curative appeal of spitballing the next Idiot Pundit who utters some lamentation that "both parties have gotten sooo extreme." Spitballing will "not make the Beltway stop saying this STUPID thing, but it will make you feel better; I do it myself in my office, trust me ... This is not a 'pox on both their houses' story; this is not, 'Oh mirror image, both parties are so extreme' story ... !" Rachel said. As the Lizard King likes to tell anyone echoing those false equivalence sentiments, 'I could not agree with you more.' So, without further ado, Dylan, Jonathan, Chuckles, and Chris:

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