This week, the entire country is in heavy mourning, a spontaneous outpouring of grief we haven’t seen on a national scale since Sept. 11, 2001. Twenty small children in Connecticut, who right now should be watching “Sesame Street” and drawing pictures for display on the family refrigerator, are dead – murdered by a young man with a damaged mind and an empty soul.
The tragedy has, in turn, sparked a renewed national debate on gun control. Well, so far it hasn’t been much of a debate, since the vast majority of pro-gun lawmakers have gone into hiding. A few, like Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, have publicly called for their fellow firearms enthusiasts to accept reasonable measures to prevent future massacres.
It was also the subject of one of our great newsroom discussions, passionately led by crime reporter Larry Miller, whose story on the subject can be read here. But we here at the Tribune have been railing about gun control for years. We have watched the rising body count in our communities, followed the cases as they wind their way through the justice system, and documented the pain felt by those families left behind.
But what really got to me this week – and, I’ll admit, has shaken me to my core – is the startling realization that I find myself in complete agreement with – of all people – Rush Limbaugh. (Even typing that sentence just now made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.)
Here’s what Limbaugh said on his show Tuesday: “You guys ever been to Chicago? Do you know what happens in Chicago every night? What happens in Chicago in a week dwarfs what happened in Connecticut. Just nobody’s reporting it. There’s no cameras up there. You don’t see it.”
I could have dismissed this statement as an aberration, that like a broken clock, even Limbaugh will be right on occasion. The racist, sexist, bottom-feeding blowhard will surely follow that up with his usual stupidity, I thought.
Then it got worse. The man actually started telling the truth, and making sense.
“Have you ever heard any politician go on an anti-gun rant when you’ve heard about urban violence? Does it ever happen? I wonder why that is? Why is it the anti-gun people never use violence in urban neighborhoods as an example of why we have to get rid of guns?” he asked.
Then, the kicker. He concluded: “There are more than 41 murders a month in Chicago. The lion’s share of them are taking place in poor Black neighborhoods. I don’t hear… any of the anti-gun media raise a stink about guns in those places. I wonder why that is. There has to be a reason.”
There was no denying it then. Rush had cut to the heart of the matter with logic and reason, and I was forced to nod my head in full agreement, even finishing the thought for him.
Because I know the reason the nightly murders in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Oakland, in Detroit, and here in Philadelphia don’t rise to the level of a national tragedy. So do you. I just never thought Rush Limbaugh would be the guy to say out loud what everyone knows in their hearts.
It’s this: in the minds of far too many Americans, and for a number of very ugly reasons, the lives of those children in Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia aren’t worth as much as the lives of the children in Newtown, Conn. They simply are not of equal value.
Some might call it an unfair comparison. They’ll argue the majority of urban victims – and shooters, for that matter –- have criminal records, and often the motive behind those shootings is crime-related. The little angels in Connecticut, on the other hand, were not gangbangers or drug dealers, but innocents slaughtered by a madman.
The comparison, however, holds up under scrutiny. There are plenty of non-combatant victims of urban violence every day – innocent bystanders, kids caught in a playground crossfire, or just some poor guy waiting for a bus - and there is no national outcry on their behalf.
To be fair, local legislators here and in cities around the country have been clamoring for firearms restrictions for many years. Their pleas inevitably fall on deaf ears, their efforts stymied by lawmakers in rural and suburban districts who represent a pro-gun constituency, and who couldn’t care less if cities become shooting galleries, as long as “those people” are the ones being shot.
If this tragedy raises those recalcitrant legislators’ level of awareness, then perhaps some good can come out of this nightmare after all.
And I can go back to hating Rush Limbaugh.
Daryl Gale is the city editor of the Philadelphia Tribune.
By refusing to block Pennsylvania’s callous and draconian voter ID law, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson has left the door open to voter suppression tactics that haven’t been used since the 1960s, when white southerners were finally shamed into doing the right thing after a horrified America watched footage of the police dogs and fire hoses used to keep Blacks and other undesirables away from the polls.
Progressives immediately went on a public relations rampage, vowing to fight on through appeals and every available legal avenue until some jurist with a conscience and sense of right and wrong nips this thing in the bud.
I hope they win on appeal, and not just because those most adversely affected by the law are minorities — but because the law is anti-American, and flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution, the document held above all others by the hypocrites who authored the voter ID law in the first place.
What could be more anti-American, more constitutionally incorrect, than the notion that some citizens’ votes count more than others? That by keeping certain people away from the polls, you somehow end up with a free and fair election? It’s galling and ridiculous, and frankly I’m ashamed we have to have this fight almost 50 years after the Voting Rights Act.
Those facts notwithstanding, and despite my continued belief that President Obama will be re-elected in November by a sizable margin, I can’t help but wonder how much effect all this will have on the election in practical terms. Just read the newspapers. Voter ID laws, voter purges and similar machinations are taking place all over the country, not just here in Pennsylvania.
Is it possible that GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was actually onto something when he guaranteed a partisan crowd in June that, “Voter ID will allow Gov. Romney to win the state in November”?
I’ve tried not to think about that, just as I’ve convinced myself that in the end, all this won’t matter when Obama stands on the podium in triumph on election night.
But what if the worst should happen?
What if the concerned organizations and valiant lawyers on the front lines of the voter ID battle lose their appeals, and the law is in full effect on Election Day? Worse, what if Turzai is right, and key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida (coincidentally, those states specifically targeted by the GOP’s suppression strategists) fall into Romney’s hands?
And even worse than that, what if winning those key states is just enough to put Plastic Man over the top, and we’re faced with four years of watching people who own dressage horses and offshore accounts snatch food from the mouths of babies and senior citizens?
I know. Too horrible to contemplate, but in the name of pragmatism, we should at least consider the possibility, however remote — and what we’d do about it. I don’t have a doomsday scenario strategy mapped out, but I’m pretty sure how I’d handle a Romney presidency. It is remarkably similar to how the Republicans have handled President Obama these past three years.
First, taking my cues from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the knuckle-draggers, I’d never, ever call him President Romney. Just Romney, or better yet, just Willard.
Second, I would never miss an opportunity to bring up the racist past of the Mormon Church. I’d quote Mormon founders and leaders who taught until 1978 that my Black skin is a curse, and I am therefore unworthy of the blessings of God, or entrance to white heaven. (If you think this is a nasty, unfair swipe at the man’s religious beliefs, you should take up your appeal with my complaint officer, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.)
Third, I would spend a great deal of time and effort writing catchy sayings for bumper stickers and T-shirts. Mitt and Ryan – Always Lyin’, Need Healthcare? Just Die Already, and Utah is for Haters spring immediately to mind. Think I’m being unfair again? Check out the anti-Obama signs and bumper stickers at a tea party rally, then get back to me.
Finally, I would use this column to berate, harass and ridicule the Romney administration at every turn — rewriting history to suit my own purposes, and making up “facts” as I go along. I would do this every single week, without regard to relevance or context. There are too many examples to list here, but check out Ann Coulter or Cal Thomas if you have an objection.
If the other shoe indeed drops, I hope it’s a size 14. I know just where to put it.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.
On the first day of Women’s History Month, Democrats in the Senate narrowly defeated a Republican effort to let employers and health insurance companies deny contraceptives and other items they object to on religious or moral grounds.
In a 51-to-48 vote along partisan lines the Senate upheld the Obama administration’s policy requiring that employees of religion-affiliated institutions have access to health insurance that covers birth control.
By defeating the measure Senate Democrats beat back an effort by Republicans to infringe on women’s rights.
“The Senate will not allow women’s health care choices to be taken away from them,” said Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.
Republicans stances on family-planning funds, access to contraception and abortion rights have recently becoming increasingly strident.
Republicans in the Pennsylvania House are considering a bill to mandate ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.
State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, D-Phila., called the proposed legislation “offensive, demeaning and completely unnecessary.’
The Virginia Senate last week passed a bill to require noninvasive ultrasounds on women seeking abortions.
The most reprehensible attack on women’s rights came from conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh who called a woman a “slut” and “prostitute” because she testified before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage.
President Barack Obama was right to defend Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student, who was unfairly attacked by Limbaugh.
The president called Fluke to “express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks” and to thank her for speaking out on an issue of public policy, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
After a strong political backlash and the withdrawal of several advertisers from his radio show, Limbaugh apologized Saturday for his “insulting” remarks.
Limbaugh’s vile and appalling attack on Fluke reveals how low and desperate some conservatives will go in their attack on women’s rights.
When was the last time you heard the word “uppity?”
That’s what talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the president’s wife in one of his recent rants. The radio talk show host used the term some weeks ago in explaining why it was right for a NASCAR crowd to boo Michelle Obama, who was at the event with Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president.
The word “uppity” has a troubled history when it comes to Blacks. It has, in the past, tended to inflame racial tensions, not calm them.
But that did not deter the bombastic Limbaugh from throwing this flammable verbiage at the first lady of the U.S. At least one local veteran politician said such racial-tinged rowdiness would likely get worse as the country moved toward the November 2012 presidential elections.
The trouble started [Sunday/Nov. 24] when first lady Obama and second lady Biden were booed and jeered at a NASCAR Sprint Cup finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Some liberals were so outraged by the disrespect for an American first lady, that concerns were raised that such incidents could further lend the event a different meaning for the word “race” in the title “NASCAR race track.” This view was reinforced by the revelation that the two women were at the event to support men and women in the armed services through a program called “Joining Forces,” not to push politics or their own personal agendas.
Rush Limbaugh rushed to the rescue of the NASCAR crowd. That audience, he said, is known for its southern conservatism, much the way his own “Ditto-heads” listeners are.
Claiming to know what the audience was thinking, he said the racecar fans were angry over Michelle Obama [a woman he has called “Moo-Chelle” and the “first linebacker”]. The anger, he said, stemmed from the first lady’s telling Americans how to eat and exercise. He said they were also angry over the country’s economic condition and Obama’s claim that people like some of the NASCAR fans clung to their Bibles and guns.
He added that they were also angry over Mrs. Obama’s recent use of a Boeing 747 jet to fly the family to a vacation spot before the president arrived.
“NASCAR people understand that’s a little bit of a waste [to take Boeing 747],” he said. “They understand it is a little bit of uppity-ism.”
Limbaugh, a rotund former drug addict, may have his own personal reasons for resenting the first lady, especially when she tells audiences how to discipline their eating and exercise habits to fight the contagion of obesity in America.
But even for political veterans like former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode — who know a thing or two about being booed — the booing and Limbaugh comments were out of line. He said the booing did not support the notion of a “colorblind America,” which conservatives touted after Barack Obama’s election as the first U.S. Black president. Goode said there was “more underlying this.”
“It’s not unusual for public officials to be booed at sporting events,” said Goode, who is now a minister. “What made it surprising was that [the first and second lady] were not there in support of the president or herself. She was there to promote more support for the armed services. Even though the booing was traditional, there was more underlying this.”
He said the booing and Limbaugh comments revealed deep-seated racial resentment.
“Underlying this is a group of white conservatives and others who never accepted Obama as president and Michelle as first lady or the first family as first family of this nation.”
He added: “We all need to recognize that racism is alive and well in this community and is manifested by this and by members of Congress who refuse to accept Obama as their leader. His wife, Michelle, too is sometimes a victim of such hatred and dislike.”
He said the situation would grow worse as the country approaches the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential elections.
“This will not go away. It will intensify as we move to the elections of 2012.”
Normally diverging on just about every issue, there’s one topic President Barack Obama and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh agree on: the Republican Party may implode if Obama wins reelection.
There was Limbaugh in September, sweating profusely and predicting the end of the world immediately following an Obama victory. But, he didn’t stop there, lambasting GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney for “not running a conservative campaign.”
And it wasn’t just Romney. “There's gonna be a new Republican Party if that happens,” growled the red-faced commentator. Limbaugh believes that the “new GOP” is “… gonna be led by Tea Party people.”
“There's no ‘if’ about this. It's gonna be ugly, it's gonna be gut wrenching, but it will happen.”
Two months later, while battling for re-election, President Obama chimed in on the subject, momentarily digressing from his campaign speech. "The question’s going to be: How do Republicans react post-election? Because there’s going to be a war going on inside that party. It just hasn’t broken up. It’s been unified in its opposition to me."
Each statement, and the tension in between, seems to validate the other on the surface. Limbaugh may have been channeling Tea Party rank-and-file frustration at the time, a need to openly whine about a deliberate and carefully orchestrated isolation game played by “Establishment Republicans” during their convention in Tampa, Fla. Many Tea Party faithful were telling the Tribune at the time that they knew what was up, didn’t appreciate it and would find some way to make those responsible pay. Many pointed to “country club” GOP icons like Crossroads GPS Super PAC king Karl Rove as a culprit. Rove, not mincing words over his clear distaste for upstarts like Sarah Palin — and others like Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin who wore down the GOP brand, seemed impervious to the threats while raising loads of money.
Yet, other GOP insiders are clearly trembling at the thought of a party in disarray, unlike anything seen since its founding in 1854. At that time, it was a fragmented coalition of Whigs, Democrats, Free Soilers and Know Nothings.
Some predict a similar situation in the event President Obama, a reviled and supremely hated target of the ideological right, gets his second term.
“There are a number of Republicans who are not and have not been happy with the Republican Party for a while,” said Timothy F. Johnson, founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, and a former vice chair of the North Carolina Republican Party. Talking to the Tribune, Johnson predicted an implosion within the party when either candidate wins the White House. “[Black Republican conservatives] are tired of having to speak for candidates who are unwilling to go into our communities or speak directly to the citizens. And while the overall objective of this election cycles is to remove President Obama from office, repeal Obamacare and get the economy back on track, regardless of who is elected there will be a revolt.”
Of course, it’s not just Black Republicans. Polls have remained tight for some time, and Republican strategists seem to have a nervous edge about them. Early voting returns favor the president, prompting Romney to recalibrate. Worried about a loss of advantage in critical battleground states like Ohio and Florida, Team Romney shifts to battle Team Obama on its left flank, engaging in an expanded map strategy as resources are being dumped into last minute campaign ad barrages in light blue states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Many experts agree that there is a rising fear among poll-number crunching Republicans that Obama could win. A recent endorsement of the president from the traditionally right-leaning and pro-big business magazine The Economist jarred many conservatives into disbelief. That was in the wake of a surprise endorsement from former-Republican-turned-centrist-independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who suddenly became an Obama fan after what was perceived as an effective federal emergency response to Superstorm Sandy’s devastation.
And there was widespread disbelief from partisans on both sides of the aisle when an emotional New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie openly bear-hugged the president in multiple press conferences and interviews for his “personal attention” to the Sandy destruction on the Jersey shore. That was only days following a loud Christie on the pro-Romney trail blasting Obama as clueless and inept.
Still, Republican strategist and Potomac Strategy Group CEO Matt Mackowiak appears cautious on the GOP-implosion scenario. While conventional wisdom will blame conservatives, “the loss will not be seen as a rebuke to conservatism,” Mackowiak says, “but rather to a moderate candidate.”
“Party elders will seek to solve the immigration issue within the party, to ensure we not continue to lose such a large percentage of the growing Hispanic population. More broadly, the effect of a grand bargain, which could include tax increases, will threaten to split the party, but also potentially allow space for a true conservative candidate to be our nominee in 2016,” Mackowiak adds.
“Parties that lose back-to-back presidential elections often go through a period of change,” says former 2008 Obama co-chair and Colorado Senate President Peter Groff, who believes it won’t be as bad for the GOP as it seems. “The Democrats went more moderate after losing twice to Ronald Reagan and built the Democratic Leadership Council and ‘created’ Bill Clinton and leaned more left after going down twice to George W. Bush. So it makes perfect sense that the GOP will look inward after back-to-back wins by President Obama.”
“I don't buy the fact the party will be ‘ripped apart’ by the internal conversation, political parties are living entities and morph and change to better reflect their principals in modern times,” said Groff.
Washington Times columnist Jeneba Ghatt rejects the notion of an implosion, but definitely sees a need for change within the GOP in terms of demographics. “I’ve been under the presumption that if Barack Obama is re-elected, the Establishment Republicans would perhaps regain the reigns of their party, having realized that pandering to the extreme is a losing game.”
Few consider the Philadelphia Orchestra a bastion of bigotry, but this world-renowned symphony is on the list of entities withdrawing advertising from the radio program featuring one of America’s premier purveyors of racism — Rush Limbaugh.
Over four dozen advertisers yanked ads from Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated radio show, as of late last week, in the wake of the imbroglio erupting over Rush’s recent vulgar rants against a white, female law school student.
Limbaugh proudly casts himself as exhibiting “Excellence In Broadcasting” — thus the name for his EIB Network.
Also, Limbaugh routinely unleashes racist and sexist rants.
A few odious examples include Limbaugh trashing Spanish as a “ghetto” language last November, ridiculing the English-speaking abilities of China’s president in January 2011, accusing America’s oldest civil rights organization (the NAACP) with “racism” in July 2010 and dismissing this nation’s obscene genocide against Native Americans in September 2009.
Yes, Rush retains First Amendment rights even if for spewing racism.
Yet, Rush’s racism and those who support it — actively or passively — are ripe for criticism.
Advertisers often buy into Limbaugh’s program not to avidly endorse his daily racist and/or sexist rants but to access his large audience, reportedly the largest in radio.
Advertisers see large audiences as potential purchasers of their products or services.
However, buying into Limbaugh’s “large audience” fattens his financial coffers contributing to his capacity to ooze more verbal slime and helping to construct Limbaugh’s perception as a conservative power figure in American society.
This recent spectacle of advertisers running from Rush in the wake of public outrage about his assaults on that law student in some ways resembles rats scurrying from a sinking ship.
Those rodents rode the ship (for profit) until problems struck making it unpalatable for them to feel comfortable about remaining.
A larger problem with the persistence of institutional racism across America extends beyond legions of individuals actively and passively practicing it.
That problem is the casual acceptance by millions of racism in commerce — acceptance that is often inadvertent as appears to be the case with the Philadelphia Orchestra advertising on the Limbaugh show.
Orchestra personnel, when asked last Friday to respond to a series of questions about advertising with Rush the Racist, issued the following statement:
“As part of a broader media buy supporting our current concert season, the Philadelphia Orchestra made a localized advertising buy which ran the same concert-focused advertisements on a variety of CBS Philly television, radio and online properties. This was not part of a national media buy, nor was the buy focused on specific programming. We have requested that our advertisement no longer air during the time slot in which the Rush Limbaugh show airs.”
So, somebody somewhere (outside the Orchestra according to the inference in that statement) made a decision to slot the Orchestra’s non-program-specific media buy specifically on the Limbaugh show causing the Orchestra’s issuance of a stop request — after the public outrage spotlight shined on Rush.
Despite indignant denials by Rush, his confederates and others on all sides of the U.S. partisan divide, racism (institutional and individual) abounds across the American landscape resisting centuries of multi-racial efforts to remove it.
With the denial dynamic related to racism, as a University of Dayton law professor rightly noted, the racist will attempt to “objectively” show proof usually in the form of insignificant details to contradict the obvious.
Last week, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state legislature approved a Voter ID measure, joining over a dozen Republican controlled state governments nationwide that have erected various barriers against voting since 2010.
Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law, readied for full implementation in this year’s presidential election, will block many senior citizens, college students and persons of color from ballot box access, says Pennsylvania state Senator Shirley Kitchen, D-Phila., who tags such measures “voter suppression.”
Real evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania as a pressing problem requiring legislative action falls far, far behind more serious matters crying out for governmental crackdown like corporate tax cheating and other white-collar corruption.
Republicans dressing-up their decimating an essence of democracy — voting — is comparable to putting designer clothing on a pig then proclaiming that attire transforms that animal into something else, even as that animal defecates on the Republican’s expensive shoe as non-house-broken animals do.
Senator Kitchen, a veteran North Philadelphia community activist, said evidence of the rat in Pennsylvania’s Republican Voter ID law is easily evident in Gov. Tom Corbett’s willingness to spend millions implementing the new restrictions on voting, while he continues to slash funding for schools and social services, claiming the state lacks money.
“Spending money to solve a problem that doesn’t exist is a reason why many of us call this voter suppression,” Kitchen said last Friday evening. “We will go to court to fight this.”
Resisting Republican voter suppression onslaughts nationwide is a reason why civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and others re-enacted the March 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March last week.
The overt bigotry of Limbaugh, and the not-so-covert variety practiced by governors like Corbett and N.J.’s Christie, continue because too many people of good will remain silent — going along to get along.
As respected London, England, activist Selma James warned during a Friday event in Mt Airy honoring her decades of work, “We are fighting not only for a better future, but for a future.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship.
I wasn’t going to write about the Rush Limbaugh debacle, mainly because the story is already now a week old, and frankly, too much ink has been wasted on that racist slob already.
But there are a few aspects of the case that remain unexplored, and I think it’s important to keep in mind just what’s at stake here for Limbaugh, for women, and for the nation in general, especially as it relates to the upcoming presidential election.
I won’t bother you with the details, which you have surely heard by now. The short recap is that Limbaugh, an overfed, drug-addled, minority-hating, woman-hating jackass of a talk show host, stepped over the line when he attacked Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, calling her “slut” and “prostitute” and a hundred other vile things during a 3-day, 9-hour radio tirade that stretched from Wednesday to Friday last week.
Fluke testified before Congress, in a committee meeting held to counter a previous hearing on contraception. You remember the hearing on women’s reproductive rights a few weeks ago, which included no women on the panel.
Limbaugh twisted and mischaracterized Fluke’s story into something only he could make up. Fluke and her law school colleagues, he said, were having so much sex that they couldn’t afford contraceptives, and wanted the government to pay for them — essentially financing their wanton fornication.
He was, quite naturally, excoriated by women’s rights groups, millions of individual women, and not an insignificant number of men — most notably those of us with college-age daughters.
Sponsors ran from his show like rats from a sinking ship, and suddenly the most powerful man in right wing politics was at the center of every news cycle, and the number one question aimed at the GOP presidential candidates.
Which is exactly what Limbaugh wanted.
Since the scandal broke, progressive pundits and women’s rights advocates have been chortling with glee at Limbaugh’s seeming embarrassment, and vow to use this as a springboard to hammer Republicans until November for not calling out Limbaugh for the narrow-minded knuckle dragger he is.
Those pundits and advocates underestimate Limbaugh, and his audience. This entire situation, believe it or not, has played right into the fat man’s stubby little hands.
How so? Because if there’s anything Limbaugh craves more than prescription medications, it’s attention.
For a solid ten days, his name has been on the tip of America’s tongue. He is the unrivaled center of attention, so much so that every GOP candidate has been repeatedly asked to defend, condemn or repudiate him — with his answers carefully dissected for hours on cable news.
Imagine that. The people applying for the most powerful position on earth are vetted, and litmus tested, on their public statements about a talk show host. And what’s more, powerful Republicans have proven time and again that their only real reaction to Rush is fear. He’s going to get a free pass no matter who he slanders because they’re afraid of alienating his listeners, who follow him like lemmings and will vote — or not vote — for whomever he wishes.
That’s also why he’s not overly concerned about those fleeing advertisers. His audience is a key demographic — white men who have somehow convinced themselves that they are America’s second-class citizens. They are plumbers, auto mechanics, truckers, and traveling salesmen. Businesses, even businesses who don’t necessarily subscribe to Limbaugh’s politics, very much want to reach that audience to buy their products. For each advertiser who takes a principled stand to leave his show, another will step in, eager to get hold of those abandoned profits.
In the end, things go back to the way they were, and Limbaugh, none the worse for wear, goes right back to personal attacks on the poor and defenseless on behalf of white male superiority. Unless …
Unless someone figures out that the way to make it hurt is to hit him is in his own personal pocket, not the pockets of his filthy-rich syndicate or expendable advertisers.
During his rant last week, Limbaugh twice offered on the air to buy the women of Georgetown Law School as much aspirin as they wanted to put between their knees.
Read that again. He will buy them as much aspirin as they want.
So, the women of Georgetown Law should get together and order 20 million dollars worth of aspirin. They can then donate the medicine to Planned Parenthood, battered women’s shelters and social service agencies in every city in America.
We all heard him say he’d pay for it. Make him.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.
The recent case of Rush Limbaugh’s rant against the Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke once again highlights the national problem we have with ‘hate radio.’ In the name of free speech, demagogues such as Limbaugh are allowed to run free and say virtually whatever they wish to say irrespective of who they hurt, what misinformation they spread, or the potential consequences of their remarks.
Let’s be clear that hate radio is not a new phenomenon in the USA. During the 1930s the notorious ultra-right-wing priest, Father Coughlin, used the air waves in order to spread his anti-Semitic nonsense. Yet what we are currently experiencing feels like Father Coughlin on steroids. Since the 1980s there has been an explosion of hate radio with many of these right-wing commentators — and I use that term loosely — serving as de facto organizers for right-wing causes, egging their listeners on irrespective of the truth.
In the case of Limbaugh, his attack on Fluke apparently went too far. I say “apparently” because there was a well deserved counter-attack that resulted in his losing sponsors. This should tell us a thing or two. The radio stations that sponsor these hate mongers are looking to make money. If the hate-mongers bring in the listeners, the sponsors are happy and the station gets rich. On the other hand, if the sponsors are embarrassed, they will walk away costing the station money.
So, let’s up the ante. Appealing to the consciences of the radio station owners is to no avail. Even if they have a conscience, they more importantly have a wallet and bank account that they wish to fill. Attempting to explain the immorality of these hate mongers to the radio station owners is a waste of our breath. Going after the sponsors, however, might meet with different results particularly if we do it in a concerted fashion. So, in your state try an experiment. It could look like this:
This approach has worked in the past and it will continue to work. We just have to be determined.
Got the picture?
Even with what some consider toxic obnoxiousness spilling from one of its flagship stations, and amid a flurry of calls for the removal of caustic radio host Rush Limbaugh, Clear Channel, the parent company of Premiere Radio Networks — which syndicates Limbaugh’s show — has decided to go all in with its support of the controversial, right-wing host.
“Premiere Networks is committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary without condoning or agreeing with the opinions, comments or attempts at humor expressed by on-air talent. We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions,” read the statement, which appeared recently on industry news site Advertising Age. “The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. Last week, in an attempt at absurdist humor to illustrate his political point, Mr. Limbaugh used words that unfortunately distracted from his message he was trying to convey. We believe he did the right thing on Saturday, and again this morning on his radio show, by expressing regret for his choice of words and offering his sincere and heartfelt apology to Ms. Fluke.”
At the height of the political broil over health care and contraception, Limbaugh once again ran afoul of women’s groups by repeatedly referring to Georgetown law student and President Barack Obama supporter Sandra Fluke as a prostitute and slut as she was testifying before a congressional committee on the merits of health care coverage for birth control. For three days, Limbaugh incessantly attacked Fluke, only to be forced to apologize when prominent Republicans — included presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and later, Mitt Romney — distanced themselves from Limbaugh’s comments, and advertisers began deserting his show.
In fact, more that 141 advertisers — including Acura, IBM and American Express — have all pulled advertising from Limbaugh’s show, according to a memo from the Traffic Guild of America and obtained by the news aggregation site Newser.
And Brian Stelter of The New York Times reported earlier this week that public service announcements — and sometimes, even dead air — are now occupying some of the airtime previously devoted to the paid ads.
And whatever good Limbaugh’s apology did for his standing amongst women evaporated with his recent attacks on the National Organization for Women. Just in the past weeks, Limbaugh mocked NOW by re-branding it “NAGS” — National Association of Gals. Limbaugh is also widely credited as the creator of the epithet “feminazi.”
NOW President Terry O’Neill has joined a cacophony of calls for Limbaugh’s ouster.
“Bigoted bully Rush Limbaugh has been rewarded for his hostile, hate-filled speech for far too long. The National Organization for Women calls on Clear Channel Communications to pull the plug on Limbaugh’s gilded microphone immediately. In addition, we call on Limbaugh’s conservative comrades in the media to fully denounce, with no excuses, his derogatory comments,” O’Neill’s statement read. “Limbaugh’s targeting of Sandra Fluke was way out of line, even for him. Limbaugh is free to disagree all he wants with Fluke…but calling her a ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute’ on air is unacceptable. After sparking outrage, Limbaugh took to the airwaves again to suggest that if Fluke wants contraception to be fully covered, she should post videos of herself having sex online so Limbaugh and others can watch.
“Clearly, Limbaugh is not just having fun here,” her statement continued. “He is trying to shame a young woman for coming forward, speaking her mind and standing up for women’s rights. This is how bullies try to chase all women from the public square.”
But Limbaugh’s comments may have had an unintended result, bringing into focus women’s rights and their place in politics — and the world.
“In many respects, I think Limbaugh awakened a sleeping giant of women,” said The Woman’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy. “And by characterizing a woman who uses contraception as a ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute’ enraged huge numbers of women and men, because men rely on contraception as well.”
Tracy framed Limbaugh’s entire argument as laughable, especially, since “men no more want to have an unplanned pregnancy than women do.”
Tracy believes that the partisan assault on social agencies such as Planned Parenthood are unwarranted, and feels it feeds into the current hysteria surrounding Fluke’s comments.
“The temperature is very hot; the attacks on Planned Parenthood — the organization that does more to prevent abortions than anything else in the country — is so unwarranted,” Tracy said. “In some respects, you feel like you’re in a time warp, like back in the 1950’s or something.”
“There’s no question that some women, for a variety of reasons, have unplanned pregnancies and for them, their only choice is abortion because for them, it’s immoral to bring a child into this world they cannot raise,” Tracy continued. “And the other thing completely forgotten in this whole discussion is that states [that are allowed to] prohibit abortions can also mandate them. And we should never give the state that much control of a citizen’s life and medical condition.”
I don’t know whose idea it was to send First Lady Michelle Obama to a NASCAR race. But the reaction offers a timely lesson in political correctness, a regime that used to be known simply as good manners.
Thanks to conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh, the NASCAR affair has spawned a blamestorm in the blogosphere over whether anyone, especially liberals, should be offended by a word with a wicked racial history: “uppity.”
The controversy began when the first lady and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, were booed and jeered — loudly enough for television microphones to pick up — at last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Many, including me, were predictably outraged, especially since the women were there with a group of children to promote Joining Forces, an initiative to support military families.
Yet I was not shocked. A peculiar mob psychology at sporting events makes the jeering of politicians “as American as apple pie,” as ABC News reporter Jake Tapper observed in a later report. He included video clips of President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, each getting booed.
And, as much as NASCAR officials have tried mightily to expand their famously Southern, white, male and politically conservative fan base, it still sits a long way from Obama Country. In 2004, for example, an impressive list of the sport’s top drivers publicly endorsed President George W. Bush, who received an enthusiastic reception that year at a race in Daytona.
Those demographics only pepped up radio foghorn Rush Limbaugh, whose fan base is about as conservative, white and male as NASCAR’s, to throw more salt in the wounds. He vigorously defended the booing fans on his radio show the next day for expressing their resentment at “paying millions of dollars” for the First Family’s vacations.
Somehow, I don’t think the White House travel budget was on their minds.
Far be it from Rush to miss a chance to take a cheap shot at this first lady. Last February, he went personal in attacking her campaign against childhood obesity with the observation, “It doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice.” Ha! Look who’s talking.
But this time it was reports of the first lady traveling occasionally on a separate plane from her husband that lit Limbaugh’s fuse. “NASCAR people understand that’s a little bit of a waste,” he said. “They understand it is a little bit of uppity-ism.”
There’s the word. Dictionaries define the word as “arrogant,” “presumptuous” and “putting on airs of superiority.” But it also has strong connotations in this country’s cultural history as a description for Blacks who, in the view of white society, don’t know their place.
The word has popped up before in the Obamas’ lives. During the presidential campaign in September 2008 Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican, touched off a firestorm by saying the Obamas looked to him as though “they’re a member of an elitist class ... that thinks that they’re uppity.” Westmoreland later defended himself in a revealing public statement. He had “never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense,” he said, in the mill village where he grew up. For a Georgia native of his years, a lot of folks found that hard to believe.
After all, his fellow Georgian Clarence Thomas fully understood the power of that word in 1991 when he denounced attacks from liberal critics during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. “It is the high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks,” he said, “and it is the message that unless you kowtow to an old order this is what will happen to you.”
Indeed, as Republican pollster Frank Luntz wrote in his instructive book, “Words That Work,” it is not what you say that counts, it’s what others hear. In the old order of America’s racial culture, “uppity” would be heard as describing someone who did not know their place. Today, Limbaugh and Westmoreland want you to hear a reverse-snob’s variation: Somebody who thinks they’re better than you.
Either way, it is a slur. It resonates with conservative resentments. Its racial connotations only give it, in some ears, a little extra zing.