35 thoughts on “Rush Limbaugh”

  1. I have a fairly liberal friend who sometimes refuses to look up stuff that might challenge his worldview. However, at least he’s self-aware enough to realize and admit that it’s because he doesn’t want said worldview to change.

    And I HAVE changed his mind on a few liberal shibboleths.

  2. Rand,

    I first listened to Rush Limbaugh back in the 1980’s when he was still limited to Sacramento. I was running a small wholesale business with my brother at the time. He is a good dream weaver, like President Obama is, and a good entertainer, but like all political commentators I have listen too, liberal and conservative, he tends to carry his ideas too far.

    Historically America has been neither a conservative or liberal nation. Its been a pragmatic middle-of-the-road one with the frontier values of achievement, progress, and the freedom to pursue your dreams. Before the 1960’s ideology was something it left to the Europeans to debate as it had more important things to focus on. Unfortunately the liberal versus conservative battle that has been going on since the 1960’s has muddled those core values in ceaseless ideological debates with the nation being the loser.


  3. It is kind of sad, Rand, but that type of thought is more wide-spread than I had thought. I listen to a radio show that in the past couple of weeks has interviewed Richard Roper (movie reviewer) and Megan Kelly (Fox News). This show received lots of e-mail and some phone calls from folks who couldn’t believe Mr. Roper allowed his radio show to be on the same station as Rush. One caller was so upset that she all but called him a traitor for being on the same station that “was so conservative”.

    Before Ms Kelly appeared on the show, they received several e-mails with bogus info about her and her lifestyle. Even the post-interview comments were of the same type: ‘How could you have someone like that on your show’, ‘She is just a Faux-News conservative’, etc.

    It is amazing how closed-minded some people can be (and these are the same folks who preach ‘compassion and tolerance’).

  4. A byproduct of this is that not only do liberals who seclude themselves from Rush (or other righties) fail to understand not only why conservatives believe what they do, but in some cases what they believe in the first place.

  5. Reminds me of the rant that Barbara Streisand went on when her home town paper (The L.A. Times) dared to give Jonah Goldberg column space. It seems that any intrusion on her world view was most unwelcome.

  6. As I’ve mentioned here before, in college and grad school, I sought out roommates (apartment mates, actually) who were conservative. For four years, in the mid-1990s, I shared an apartment with a friend who listened to Rush Limbaugh all day long. I bet I’ve listened to a lot more of Rush (circa 1995) than you Rand.

    Some background: My friend wanted to be a chemist but he felt that his religious beliefs would prevent him from working well with others (he believed in a young earth, with all that this implies about isotopes, etc.) so he got his PhD in chemical engineering instead. His hobby was making bomb (of a sort) and he was scrupulous about not endangering me or anyone in the building. A very nice guy, thoughtful roomate, rabid on the subject of Clinton, taxes, guns, militias, and religion. I tried to show him that Noah’s ark was impossible from a naval engineering point of view, he slightly modified his denial of evolution to weasel out of it. It was fun!

    We argued about Rush constantly — he thought Rush wasn’t conservative enough, but was the best thing on radio. He did admit that Rush was a racist and thus would join me in hell (I was going to hell for being Jewish.) He thought Rush just needed more black friends (and thus denied that Rush was merely playing to his audience). We both agreed that Rush is brilliant.

    I’ve tried to figure out what’s so annoying about Rush to me (besides the racism). I’m just thinking out loud here: I enjoy John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but I can’t listen to Keith Olberman or Rachel Maddow. I bring those four up, because I think that to enjoy Rush, you have to enjoy sarcasm, shallow arguments, mocking voices, and an inclination to see malice as the motive for one’s political opponents, instead of incompetence, and never, ever have the attitude that “reasonable people might disagree on a point.” John Stewart and Stephen Colbert indulge in some of those things some of the time, while Olberman and Maddow actually abstain (no funny voices, for example), and yet I find the latter two, along with Rush, objectionable. Maybe its because Stewart and Colbert are explicit about being comedians. If Rush (and some of the people at MSNBC) just admitted that they couldn’t be taken seriously, they’d be less annoying.

  7. I don’t know whether you’ve listened to more Rush than I have (I only listen generally if I happen to be in the car when he’s on, which isn’t that often), but I’ve never heard him say anything racist. If he doesn’t know that many black people, why is (or was) his screener “Snerdly” black?

    to see malice as the motive for one’s political opponents, instead of incompetence

    “Any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice.” (J. Porter) Clark’s Law.

  8. Alan K., it’s even worse than that.

    One example: You can be on the Left and “widely read” or “well informed” and still think that a “tax credit” can’t reduce your total tax liability below zero and become welfare. This came from one of the recent threads here on taxes.

    It doesn’t actually have anything at all to do with what conservatives think or why – it is just a fact one could determine for oneself in about fifteen minutes with a free online tax tool.
    When the “smartest” people have so wholeheartedly embraced shoot-the-messenger, and simultaneously ignore-the-message-as-tainted, it boggles the mind.

  9. ““Any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice.” (J. Porter)”

    I get the Clarke reference, and it is funny, but should we also take it seriously?You’ve said this frequently, but I’m really not sure if you take it seriously or not.

    Is an argument to take it seriously that people have a duty to inform themselves before making important decisions? I don’t find that reason convincing. The following example applies to both President Clinton and some ATF guy in the field outside of the Davidian compound, but I’ll say “Clinton” for short. If Clinton approved the use of CS gas at Waco, he had the duty to inform himself of its effects. If something went wrong in the briefing process, and Clinton did not receive the appropriate information, that’s quite different morally from a malicious act. And if the briefing went correctly, but Clinton somehow suffered a mental lapse which caused him to not to understand the briefing, that’s still different morally from a malicious act. I’m hard put to understand how a malicious act could be indistinguishable from an incompetent one in this case.

  10. Bob-1,
    I agree with you about Stewart and Colbert. Though I don;t like either’s politics much, they are entertaining for exactly the reason you state; They know (and are willing to admit) they are pretending. Stewart knows he is a fake newscaster and Colbert is aware he is doing a VERY OTT O’Reilly impression. Unfortunately, not all comedians/commentators seem to know they are really just comedians.

  11. in college and grad school, I sought out roommates (apartment mates, actually) who were conservative.

    Wow, trolling in meatspace.

  12. Rand, forgive me if I missed any intended humor or sarcasm with your comments about Rush’s screener named ‘Snerdley’ but I do want to explain that Snerdley has never been a real person – he is simply an imaginary personality that Rush employs to ask the questions or make the points that Rush would never “dare” to ask himself. There have been a couple of rare occasions where ‘Snerdley’ recorded a public service announcement for the show, but even those were voiced by an actor.

  13. Jiminator,
    From wikipedia (not safe for graduate school work, I know) Snerdley is in fact a man named James Golden. Though the name is fake, there is a person who actually does the job and has been on the air with Rush a couple of times. Snerdley is a name that Rush used in his earlier radio days for fake letters. The guy exists, but the name doesn’t.

  14. You’re wrong, Jiminator. The name is a pseudonym but the man is real as has been verified by writers who’ve observed the show. From Wikipedia:

    Bo Snerdley
    The official “program observer” and call screener. His real name is James Golden. From comments Limbaugh has made on the air, it would seem he assists with research as part of preparation for the show and is in the control booth as the show is being broadcast. He co-hosted a Sunday night talk show, James and Joel, on WABC with Joel Santisteban from 1992 to 1998. Snerdley is a pseudonym Limbaugh invented many years earlier when he was a disc jockey on WIXZ (when Limbaugh went by the name Jeff Christy); he would use the name Snerdley for supposed-listeners who would write or call in, usually professing to be big fans and part of the “Christy Nation”. More recently, the name Snerdley has been used for his call screeners, both male and female. During a show in 2004, Limbaugh was not at the microphone for the last segment of the second hour (it was only about ten seconds), and Snerdley came on instead: “This is Bo Snerdley, Rush will be right back on the EIB Network.” It was one of the very rare times his voice has been heard on the program before 2008. “Bo” Snerdley screens callers at the Palm Beach Florida broadcasting location and in New York City. In February 2008, Snerdley, who is African-American, was appointed by Limbaugh as the show’s Official Criticizer of Barack Obama: “certified black enough to criticize” On the July 24th show, “Bo” was put on the air as the “Official Obama Criticizer”, and spoke for roughly 5 minutes with Rush about the incident with Cambridge police. On October 16, he requested (and received) air time to air a five-minute rant, that criticized NFL players, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and media commentators who opposed Rush Limbaugh’s potential bid on the St. Louis Rams.

  15. Al, I think the claim has to be more than that to be interesting — indistinguishable morally, or indistinguishable in a court of law, or indistinguishable in the court of public opinion. Now that I’ve had a few minutes to think about it, I think the “”sufficiently advanced” clause is important — if you REALLY screw up while being clueless, your involuntary manslaughter will actually look like first degree murder to everyone, maybe even to yourself if you’re clueless in an advanced enough way.

  16. Bob-1,

    Anyone who still believes that Rush Limbaugh is a racist is a lost cause, brainwashed, head in the sand liberal.

    And that is my paraphrasing of a black NFL player friend of Rush whom I heard speaking on the subject of Rush’s supposed racism.

  17. a white lib calling rush a racist is alot like a lib black calling justice thomas an “uncle tom”

  18. I shared an apartment with a friend who listened to Rush Limbaugh all day long.

    That must have been a heck of a trick. The most I ever managed was three hours — then his show ended until the next day.

  19. Snerdley has never been a real person

    The “Snerdley clan” has in fact been a long but not unbroken line of real people under made-up names. It began soon after the show went national when Limbaugh’s call screener, a nice lady with a great deal of experience in New York radio, didn’t want her real name used on the air during his show. Limbaugh dubbed her “Malva Snerdley,” and the tradition was born.

    When Melva left the show, she was succeeded by (probably not in the correct order, and probably also not a complete list) Mervin, Melvin, Buster and Bo. Each name was given only to the particular screener while that person was associated with the show. James Golden is, to the best of my knowledge, the only one whose real identity ever became known. He left Limbaugh to do his own show under his real name, and has returned in recent years — first as “program observer” and now, I guess, once again as screener.

    And I’ll bet even Bob-1 didn’t know all of that. 😉

  20. But I do think that the notion of changing their political beliefs is very frightening to many of them.

    I’ve been listening to Rush for about ten years now, just for a few minutes a day when I’m on break at work.

    I used to be liberal, even leftist when I was in my 20s. (I got better.)

    It was discovering Ayn Rand that really did it for me, with an assist from the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh.

    By the way, one of my favorite blogs is Neo-Neocon. It’s written by a woman who was a liberal Democrat for most of her life but gradually began to change her views. She’s an excellent writer, and has a whole series of posts under the category “A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change” in the right sidebar. I highly recommend it.

    Interestingly, one of her other commenters mentioned Transterrestrial Musings a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t remember who it was.

  21. “That must have been a heck of a trick.” Put yourself in my shoes — it sure felt like all day!

  22. Can anyone give me a single example of a racist statement made by Rush Limbaugh?

    I’ve been listening to him since 1989 (continuously in those days, intermittently since about 2002). I never heard a single one, nor a hint of anything that would hint of racist attitudes.

    A recent attack on Limbaugh cited a racist remark that he never made, and the attacker, when called on it, admitted the remark was bogus. Then he asserted that Limbaugh’s record of racist remarks was “well documented,” and was allowed to get away with that!

    Again, give me one example. If you can’t, then shut your goddamned trap about him being a racist.

  23. I don’t listen to Limbaugh but I’m favorably disposed toward him because so many State-humpers and tax lice* hate him. I once read some angry “liberal” who denounced Limbaugh by saying, “He’s not a true conservative–he’s a libertarian!” My reaction: “So? What’s the problem?”

    I also am favorably disposed toward him because he did a cameo on libertarian Drew Carey’s sitcom. Drew’s stuffy conservative-Republican boss was on a pro-censorship crusade, which Drew opposed. He took Rush Limbaugh to meet the boss, who expected Limbaugh to support her position; but instead he told her he opposed censorship. I liked that.

    So I’d be interested in some concrete evidence of Limbaugh’s alleged racism. Is it “racism-racism” (i.e., non-Caucasians are an inferior species who have fewer rights than Caucasians), or “racism according to the ‘liberal’ lexicon” (i.e., he’s racist because he opposed Obama)?

  24. Forgot to add the footnote about “tax lice” crediting P. J. O’Rourke for coming up with that very apt expresion.

  25. MfK, you probably know this, but if you type in Limbaugh’s name and “racist”, you’ll find various lists of supposedly racist statements that Limbaugh has uttered. The problem with these lists is that that take quotes out of context, and Limbaugh’s defenders can supply the context. Or can they?
    Here’s one such list, and it isn’t the longest of them by any means:
    Try for yourself — see if you can justify each of the quotes.

    For my very Christian, politically conservative roommate, no particular statement was necessary to convince him. And I certainly didn’t convince him (I couldn’t convince him of anything!) My roommate felt that the pattern of Limbaugh’s mockery — complete with funny voices and accents – was racist. He remained a fan anyway of course, but the mockery embarrassed him.

  26. Bob-1: was Limbaugh’s “funny accents and voices” mocking a race, or ghetto culture? Because the latter is eminently mockable/And if wecan mock white- trash culture with impunity, we can mock black-trash culture. (I’m an qual opportunity snob: I mock both.)

  27. The problem showed up when Limbaugh pretended that people were “from the ghetto” when they were simply black.

    Now, the following has nothing to do with Limbaugh, but here’s my take on it: people end up living in ghettos because of racial or ethnic discrimination. (Look up the original ghetto, in Venice.) Exhibitting “ghetto culture” isn’t necessarily bad or evil, and if you dismiss someone, you should dismiss them for being bad or evil, not for their culture. As for “white trash”, I think the phrase originated in the context of the racist slavery of the South, and it should be retired along with slavery, but again, that’s neither here nor there with respect to Limbaugh.

  28. ” People end up living in ghettos because of racial or ethnic discrimination. . . . ” Originally true; not sure it’s as true today.
    I live in Atlanta, which is pretty much “Ghetto City” (except for certain Yuppie and Buppie enclaves), so I’m pretty much exposed to ghetto culture daily, and many of its “exemplars” (if that’s the word) seem to wallow in it and embrace it. And yet some with brains and ambition get out of it and distance themselves from it. (Including one person I know who is educated and accentless, and talks disdainfully of what she calls “coon talk.” (Her expression’ not mine.)

    “Exhibitting ‘ghetto culture isn’t necessarily bad or evil. . . ” Maybe not “necessarily,” but if you have the opportunity to evolve from it, and don’t, one wonders. Same with poor-white culture. I’ve lived in “Deliverance” country, and some people there are just poor and white, but not poor-white-trash. Decent people, without much money or education, and smart in their own wat. Yet many others to embrace white-trash-dom. They’re free to do that, but I’m free to mock them.

  29. Bob-1, when black comedians say things that are 10x worse than Limbaugh, is that also racist? Or is it only racist when Limbaugh says it because, you know, some white businessman is gonig to hear Rush crack wise about the Reverend Shake-Down Artist Jesse Jackson and then turn around and not hire a well-qualified recruit on account of skin color. Is that how that works?

    What about Jeff Foxworthy? Self-loathing racist redneck?

  30. Titus, two points, and then a joke.

    1) It can’t possibly come as news to you that when people tell jokes about their own ethnic group, it is better-received than when they tell jokes about someone else. It works best when both the comedian and the audience identify with the target of the joke. It is very common to say “there is always some truth to a stereotype”, but I think the opposite is true, and this explains why black comedians can easily make jokes to black audiences about black people — everyone is aware of the diversity within the community, and everyone knows that the stereotypes aren’t really true. Some people will go so far as to say that these jokes, in these circumstances, aren’t racist, because while they are about “race”, they aren’t out to hurt anyone. Other people will say “nah, it is just an example of someone who hates his identity.” I dunno, but if you want to hate yourself, you are a lot less annoying to me that if you want to hate someone else. (Sort of a very toned down version of the idea that suicide is a lot less annoying than murder.)

    2) It also can’t come as news to you that humor works best when it runs against the lines of power and racism works best when it runs with the lines of power: it is funny when the Jew gets the best of a Nazi but it just sounds racist when a Nazi gets the best of a Jew. Many people (but not me) will go so far as to say this: Racism = prejudice + power. If you haven’t seen this formulation before, it will look pretty weird to you. Google it. You’ll see a bunch of commentary that looks absurd. Think of it as visiting a foreign country. I don’t agree with this formulation at all. In my world, people would just drop all the racial humor altogether, or at least admit that it is racist.

    Having said that, here’s a Jewish Holocaust joke! 🙂

    A Jewish guy is walking down the street in Berlin in the 1930s, and Hitler pulls up in his Mercedes. Hitler gets out, points his pistol at the Jewish guy, and says “Jewish dog, get down on your hands and knees!” The Jewish guy complies, and Hitler smiles. “Now you Jewish dog, lean over into the gutter, and eat that dog crap.” Hitler waves the gun, and the Jewish guy starts to eat the crap. This makes Hitler laugh so hard, he drops the gun. The Jew snatches up, leaps up, points it at Hitler, and says “Ha! Now you eat the dog crap!” Hitler reluctantly gets down in the gutter and starts eating the dog feces. As soon as Hitler is occupied, the Jewish guy throws the gun down the street and then runs in the other direction. He runs all the way home, but stops when he gets to his front door, and straightens himself out. He then walks in and excitedly says to his wife “You’ll never believe who I had lunch with today!”

    So, I heard that joke at synagogue. It was funny, because we all knew people who were so eager to name-drop, they’d happily brag about “eating lunch” with anyone. But no one laughing thought to themselves “well, all Jews are ambitious and want to drop names”, nor did they think “all Jews are [fill in the blank]”. If the rabbi tells that joke, I’ll laugh. If Limbaugh tells that joke, I’m going to narrow my eyes and try to figure out what he is getting at.

  31. Bob-1, long-winded way of saying you don’t know.

    For my part, I go with Rawls on this one. I think the Original Position would support the freedom to make any kind of jokes you want without being an evil “-ism.” If A is free to make a joke, then so is B, and the only difference between the two cannot be race, otherwise that’s just another form of discrimination. So using the law (or color of authority) to stop black people from learning to read is “racism”, but joking about it is not.

    So in that sense the formula “racism = prejudice + power” is close, but really should read “racism = discrimination * power.” If the power term is 0, so is the product.

    Funny joke, BTW. I think I’ve heard it before, but I’d forgotten it.

    BTW, humor (if your interested in such things) is the thing that survives. In that joke, it’s the man’s desire to name-drop.

  32. I can see Bob-1’s point, however. I know when I’m among friends–my tribe, so to speak– and they make jokes about me and my idiosyncracies, etc., I don’t (usually) take offense. If strangers were to make the same joke and I sensed a certain malice and a desire to denigrate me behind the joke, I would take offense.

  33. Bilwick1, I suspect Rush is just doing the same thing with his audience whom he considers his friends. His casual tone is that of a guy sitting next to you in a bar after work. Probably why he’s so popular.

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