Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rush Limbaugh: Serious Commentator or Entertainer?

So just who or what is Rush Limbaugh?
He’s a provocateur, we all know that.  But at different times throughout his 25-plus years as a radio talk show host, Rush has claimed to be an entertainer.  He has even sometimes referred to himself as a comedian.  On the other hand, Rush has also claimed to be a serious political commentator, a truth-detector for conservatism.  He does not dispute that he is an influencer of the Republican Party, and he proudly carries the mantle the right-wing has laid upon him as a spokesman for the conservative movement in this country.  So when Limbaugh makes disparaging remarks about Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, which is he?  Is he the lampooning entertainer, or is he the captain of conservatism looked up to by myriad Republicans?
Rush can’t have it both ways – not with the type of misogynistic, vile, cruel and possibly slanderous remarks aimed at Ms. Fluke.  He can’t claim to be a mouthpiece for conservatives AND be simply an entertainer.  If he’s an entertainer, or a comedian, that says to me he's not to be taken seriously.  Does that then mean Rush’s trashing of everything liberal is just a joke, that it isn’t meant to be serious?  That would make him a fake, a fraud.  Either Rush is preaching genuine conservative philosophy or he’s not.  One day it appears he is.  But on another day, after criticism pours in about some “over the top” commentary of his, Rush always comes back with the excuse that he was merely “entertaining.”  (What, little ol’ me, the Maha Rushie?  Nah, I was just kidding.  Can’t you libs take a joke?)  Well, which is it?  When do we know he’s sincere?  
Was Rush serious when he was belittling Ms. Fluke?  Sure sounded like it.  Advertisers (some, anyway) certainly seem to think so.  They’re pulling their ads.  In response to this backlash, Rush has been forced to apologize.  He now says he did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke and that he used insulting word choices.  I was not expecting that.  I fully expected he would revert to his excuse that his bombastic outbursts were simply sarcasm and that he was lampooning to make his point.  (Of course, he did make sure not to leave that point out of his apology.)  This time, though, it may not work.  Because his remarks regarding Ms. Fluke were beyond “over the top,” that excuse may have just run its course.  And his apology may be too little, too late.  Never before has Rush experienced this amount of adverse reaction (due in large part to Facebook and Twitter posts.)  Advertisers have never been pressured like this to pull their commercials and a growing number of them are courageously responding to that pressure, even after the apology. 
To be sure, Rush has survived past embarrassment and shame, such as his prescription drug addiction and allegations of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic.  He has also come through fairly unscathed following his many previous bigoted, homophobic and sexist rants.  But this latest provocative (and perverted) act aimed at Ms. Fluke, in which he actually urged her to post videos of her having sex so he could watch, may well be the beginning of his end.  Sorry Rush, but your attempt to be humorous there didn’t quite cut it.  Other media folk, as well as comedians and entertainers, have made similar foolish, foul and offensive remarks, and have gotten suspended or fired.  Why not Rush?
Don’t misunderstand.  I’m a First Amendment freak and am against nearly all forms of censorship.  I’m not calling for Limbaugh to be taken off the air nor demanding radio stations that carry his program stop carrying it.  Rush has a First Amendment right to say what he wants.  Just as Ms. Fluke has a First Amendment right to state her views on insurance coverage for contraception.  And in a free society, the rest of us have a right to denounce speech that smears.  There are repercussions for remarks that clearly cross the lines of decency.  Reactions can include protests and boycotts.  In Rush’s case, advertisers are reacting in a way they deem necessary.  Unfortunately, Republicans are not.  Those who have responded have chosen words that fall short of a real repudiation of Rush’s remarks. 
Rush will later probably want to claim the liberal media is trying to force him off the air.  But actually (ironically?), it’s the very principles of freedom of speech and choice that he espouses that may end up doing so.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Libs vs Progs

      The GGG (Great Glenn Greenwald), the Constitutional and civil rights attorney, progressive political commentator, best-selling author, media watchdog, and blogger for has made it abundantly clear that President Obama is an extension of George W. Bush when it comes to “covert endless wars, consolidation of unchecked power, the rapid growth of the Surveillance State and the secrecy regime, and massive inequalities in the legal system,” as Glenn stated in a previous post. In the big picture, there is very little difference between Democrats and Republicansegal system, continuous transfers of wealth from the disappearing middle class to large corporate conglomerates.” In the big picture, there is very little difference between Democrats and Republicans. Both are owned and controlled by…well, I won’t repeat what you already know. And when I saw the tweet from Katrina vanden Heuvel a couple of days ago, I thought -- right on, what a courageous statement. But in this properly detailed post, you continue to equate liberals with progressives. I believe there is a difference between the two. For example, the appropriately named “The Progressive” magazine is mostly critical of Obama’s policies, whereas the liberal “The New Republic” is frequently apologetic to the Obama administration. I’m not big into labels, but I’ll go along with them for the purposes of this comment. I consider myself a progressive, not a liberal, and I did not vote for Obama because I suspected he would continue the trend toward the Surveillance and Secrecy State, maintain the murderous drone attacks, etc. If one is truly progressive, one will not vote for President Obama, for the very reasons you outline. The people you speak of who support Obama, despite his reprehensible positions on such crucial issues, I would consider liberals, not progressives. I would hope that Ms. vanden Heuval, if she thinks of herself a progressive, would not vote for Obama. I cannot imagine Amy Goodman voting for Obama. Nor Bernie Sanders. But Alan Grayson, despite his outspokenness, would in the end, I believe, vote for Obama. Dennis Kucinich – I’m still not sure. Ron Paul, indeed, speaks a truth that needs to be heard. His newsletters, of course, are a concern. His and any libertarian’s viewpoints invite a return to this nation’s racist past. We, as a country, have not advanced to the point that, if a corporation had free rein to hire anyone it could, it would freely hire an African-American or Hispanic. I don’t think Ron Paul himself is a racist, but those newsletters are baggage. So it appears that neither Paul nor Obama deserves to be elected President. Third party, anyone?. But there is a difference, in my opinion, between liberals and progressives. However, Glenn continues to equate the two. The terms should not be used interchangeably. Liberals claim to want change. But it’s only change within the status quo. Among liberal Democrats in Congress, it’s merely change within the realm of a compromise with conservatives. I define a progressive as one who is further to the left of a liberal, one who supports real and fundamental change in our governmental, economic, and judicial systems. Grass roots change. Ralph Nader-type change. Perhaps Noam Chomsky-type change. Not the pretend change espoused by Obama. Progressives struggle to move the country forward. Also, whereas a liberal is almost always a Democrat, a progressive may be a Democrat, but may more often identify with a third party. It’s the liberal, not the progressive, who is tied to the toxin of “blind leader loyalty.” It’s the liberal who sides with the reprehensible national security policies of the Obama administration. The progressive works to get the courts to declare them unconstitutional. To offer another example, the aptly named “The Progressive” magazine is often critical of Obama’s policies. But “The New Republic”, considered a liberal magazine, is frequently apologetic to the administration. By way of personalities, Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!” is considered by many to be a lib. No way. I consider her a progressive, and I can’t really imagine her voting for Obama. Alan Grayson, despite his outspokenness, I consider to be a liberal, and if he was still in Congress would ultimately side with the Obama administration on most every issue. Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich – I’m not sure. But whatever. I would just ask that the term liberal no longer be used to tarnish the fine reputation of progressives.