Limbaugh and Propaganda, Part I

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I am tired of hearing people attack Rush Limbaugh, calling him a fat, pompous, windbag. Yes, he is rude.  Yes, some people say that he is a somewhat drug-addled sadist with a taste for pre-teen, foreign girls.  But, no, those are not the correct reasons to intensely dislike Rush Limbaugh. There are better reasons.

Seldom do I hear Rush Limbaugh, and I hear him as little as possible, when he is not saying something with no relation at all to the facts, often no relation to reality. Though many of us in anger call him “stupid” from time to time, he is far from  stupid.  In the matter of propaganda, he knows how to lie. He is quite skilled at it. He spreads poison to the people. That’s why he should be detested.

He is an exceptionally gifted propagandist. He is paid, according to reputable reports, about $33 million dollars a year to preach to the hicks and hillbillies. His job is to persuade them that the great corporate interests and unspecified people with great wealth have nothing but the best interests of the common man at heart. Liberals he says–and, yes, this is laughable, but he gets away with it–offer the average citizen economic enslavement, control of their lives, and a philosophy that somehow hates anyone who works hard and achieves success.

Let’s take his most recent speech before the conservative convention, CPAC. He makes the case that the rich are more active and rewarded for entrepreneurship. While that is true and a cornerstone of our society, the facts are that the majority of the really rich in this country inherited their wealth. Nothing particularly wrong with that. But he then makes the case that Liberals are for re-distributing income taking it from those who succeed and giving it to lazy, welfare cheats.

Of course, while it is true that Liberals may want a more equitable tax code, they do not want to redistibute income, as one would in a truly Socialist system. But it is convenient for Limbaugh’s propaganda to couch it in socialist terms. We change tax laws all the time, usually to the benefit of those who have the most money. After all, they have the ear of the politicians. Liberals want the kind of society where the little guy has the opportunity to get a good education and has the ability to keep body and soul together at least long enough to get up a few rungs of the ladder.

Limbaugh’s constant drumbeat is about the beseiged rich, living in fear, beset by constant attacks from lazy average citizens who hate them and want to organize the government to steal their money.  I wonder…has he actually ever left his security compound and looked around Palm Beach or Boca Raton? Has he ever been to Palm Springs or Scottsdale or Beverly Hills? These people live pretty well and they don’t seem to be running around looking over their shoulders to see if anyone is trying to take their tax breaks away. They’re having lunch, or shopping or playing golf or tennis.  But these aren’t the wealthy who support Rush Limbaugh.

The wealthy, while not as numerous as the poor, are not one homogeneous group. For example, I am told that the main supporters of knocking off what Limbaugh would call the “death tax”  are only about 1,800 very wealthy families. The inheritance tax, now, by the way, costs someone who inherits over something like $3 million, about 15% on the average of the amount over that excluded amount. So if you inherit $10 million you keep roughly $8,950,000.  Not a bad deal on money you get without having worked for it. If you’re married you keep a lot more.

In Limbaugh’s world, Liberals constantly demonize the successful,  wealthy “producers” as he keeps calling them. These people, the inheritors, his segment of the rich, who are not the entrepreneurs,  produce nothing. Certainly nothing for anyone else.

Who pays him? Certainly not the sponsors. They would get the same radio coverage from the big radio networks because they are often the only game in town wherever they are. And in places where they are not the only game in town, they are usually owned by a Right-Wing oriented network, not from that town, but from Texas or Utah or some similar far off location. And these stations own not one station, but many. They own hundreds of radio stations, with remote control management coming from one location.

There are very few local independent radio stations. Limbaugh runs on Clear Channel,  a network which has had as many as 1200 stations across the country where the network’s owners could let the racist and chauvinist Limbaugh rant on and on at will.  Truckers or salesmen traveling across country, before Sirius and XM would hear either country music or Rush Limbaugh. Those were your choices.  No wonder some truckers still fly a confederate flag. If they are listening to Limbaugh, they would think they are still living in the Reconstruction era.

Most recently, he gave a very slanted speech to stir up the Right Wing at the Conservative Political Action Committee, CPAC, convention.  Since the election, the Right Wing has foundered. Limbaugh was brought in to build their enthusiam. Their only platform thus far is to simply try to spoil the economic recovery, and Limbaugh was the spokesman for that political strategy. Let’s take a look at what he said in that speech, and what is actually true.

In his pompous routine, he started off by saying that in the Constitution we are guaranteed, “life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness” which are actually outlined in the Declaration of Independence. Then he goes on to say, that all these are “under assault” from the Liberals.  So let’s clear this one up quickly. Do you know anyone…Right or Left…who wants to do away with…life…liberty…freedom…or the pursuit of happiness? I don’t and I don’t think you do either.

Limbaugh goes on to say we’ve had “50 years of a welfare state and a failed war on poverty.” Well, I think we’ve done pretty well on that score, considering that Ronald Reagan cut tax rates on the rich from a 70% marginal rate to a 28% rate. He quadrupled our military budget supposedly to combat the Soviet threat even though our military staff knew the Soviets were about to collapse anyway.  That immediately cut funds for the poor.

Reagan cut programs like food stamps…early childhood education…welfare payments. Might that have set back the “war on poverty” for a while? During Clinton’s presidency we had the highest upward mobility of African-Americans–generally considered to be the lowest income segment of the population–in our history. As a result of those eight years, today we have a much expanded and educated black and hispanic middle class. So, despite the Conservative efforts, especially those of Reagan and Bush Jr., and the long-term Republican Congress,  the war on poverty was not lost, even though major battles remain to be fought.

Next Rush took on President Obama. He said that he “portrays America as a soup kitchen,” that he refers to “bad times ahead,” and that he wonders why  the President wants to “destroy” America.  Those are Limbaugh’s exact words.  The President  inherited not only an $11,000,000,000,000 deficit but also a depression in which 500,000 people are being laid off each week because of deliberate Republican policies over the last 8 years and tax cuts for very wealthy Americans going back over 28 years.  So, yes, President Obama may be talking a litttle like Roosevelt. But trying to put 3.5 million men and women back to work can hardly be called wanting to “destroy” America?

One of the misconceptions Limbaugh creates deliberately is that the very wealthy all started earning their wealth from zero. Not the case. Not by a long shot. Even the current WalMart billionaires are second-generation. Sam Walton created Walmart. His family inherited a vast retail empire which they continue to manage superbly. But they did not create this great enterprise.  Nor did the inheritors of the vast Vanderbilt or Rockefeller fortunes, many of whom have vastly increased their wealth through wise investment. And some have been enormous benefactors to society.

The current owners of the major oil corporations and their numerous subsidiaries that reach out and already control much of energy distribution, did not build those companies into the major international conglomerates they are today.  Not to say that there were not high-wire gamblers who wildcatted to find that oil and lived close to the soil to get it done.  Those were entrepreneurs of literally heroic stature. The current billionaires inherited the results and the benefits of that risk.  Now they want to pull up the ladder so that smaller entrepreneurs cannot compete.

As usual, Limbaugh is promoting the interests of these people. He doesn’t care about the average worker or he would support legislation that helps society at large, like health care for everyone–or at least for poor children. Instead he works for the millionaires and billionaires who pay his $33 million per-year income. (Recently reportedly raised to $400,000,000 over ten years or, in other words,  $40,000,000 per year!)

Here’s the key difference between Limbaugh supporters and other very wealthy individuals. Entrepreneurs don’t really think too much about taxes. Even the big corporations, no matter their supposed tax rate, know that they will likely pay less than 13.4%.  Real entrepreneurs and focused corporations spend their time finding ways to make more. On the other hand, people who inherited wealth very often have no idea how it was made.  Many can’t replicate the kind of success from which they benefit.

So their goal is to keep as wide as possible the spread between their fixed, but large incomes and those of the middle class. If their income is derived from corporate stock, their goal is to reduce the biggest cost, labor, by sending it abroad. Fortunately for society, there are a lot of people with a lot of money  who think differently. And they, to their everlasting credit, spend money to counter attitudes like the ones that Limbaugh promotes.

Because of Limbaugh and his running mates like Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, Lou Dobbs, Joe Scarborough and a host of local, Neocon-wannabe, minor leaguers the country almost fell into a dictatorship and has fallen into a Depression. Of course it does not affect any of them. Their rich friends paid off radio stations and television networks to keep their message on the air.

It is time to take a hard look at Limbaugh and see what he actually says and how it relates to the real facts of each situation. And that is what we will do in the next part of this article.