Archive for the ‘RUSH LIMBAUGH’ Tag



John Chuckman

There is a real clash of civilizations in the world, but one that has little to do with East and West. It is found in the advanced world and consists in the values of traditional liberalism being attacked by the right wing. Nowhere is this battle noisier and of more consequence to the world’s peoples than in America where victory for the right appears all but certain.

I have no quarrel with honest, decent conservatives. The essence of conservatism is the preservation of what is best from the past, the unwillingness to change what remains useful or valid just for the sake of change.

But all social and political arrangements are subject to change where there is economic growth. Old ways pass away, everything from the daily wearing of traditional garb and the absolute role of males to the average number of children and the selling of brides changes, sometimes in a single lifetime. Liberals differ from conservatives in being more ready to recognize this fundamental reality and to accommodate change in a timely way.

America’s right wing is another matter altogether. Attitudes here go beyond conservatism into the shadowy realm of social Darwinism, selfishness exalted as virtue, muscular arrogance, and turning one’s back on many aspects of enlightenment. These attitudes come embedded in an intense, almost religious, fervor.

When people read the word Nazi they first think of mass murder, and rightly so, but the Nazis had a set of beliefs and attitudes other than racial theories. In fact many Germans, and even party members, did not share Hitler’s incandescent, almost inexplicable hatred of Jews, although anti-Semitism was very much a theme in German history, Martin Luther, for example, a remarkable man in so many respects, having said and written things every bit as vile as Hitler.

What were the characteristics of Nazism that might justify comparisons with influential contemporary groups in America?

As the title of Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, suggests, the Nazis viewed life as a struggle, embracing the idea that only the able should thrive and reproduce. It is helpful when you hold this belief if you also regard yourself as among the ablest, and so the Nazis did. Hitler was a social Darwinist with a mystical belief in the special merit of Germans.

The Nazis had an absolute loathing of Communism, or Bolshevism as it was called then, and contempt for all forms of liberalism and social democracy. All philosophies that offered hope against their vision of a world of successful predators prevailing over the weak were despised. Ruthlessness itself was held up by Hitler as a virtue because it could bring victory, or so he thought.

The Nazis were big-business capitalists, although political expediency had put socialist in the party name, but where issues of great national significance were concerned they never hesitated to redirect with subsidies, contracts, and other pressures the efforts of German industry. The Nazis encouraged the development of gigantic corporate entities. Small business was actually held in contempt by Hitler, hence his famous derisive comment about the British being a nation of shopkeepers. To support the Nazis’ worship of military strength, only vast enterprises would do.

The Nazis were willing to accept a good deal of repression in their society if that guaranteed the success of their primary values, and, despite Germany’s being in many ways one of the most advanced and cultured of European states, the Nazis were willing to tolerate floods of ignorant propaganda so long as it supported their aims.

Based on these criteria, it might be hard to distinguish America’s extreme right from a good many Nazis, but I think the prefix crypto helpful in distinguishing them from their more straightforward cousins. For America does have a set of written ideals about human rights and freedoms at odds with Nazism, although these ideals have been interpreted with great flexibility or totally ignored over long periods of the country’s history, often accommodating dark and brutal practices. Where the will to make good on constitutional promises does not exist, they remain fine words on parchment, as many wonderful-sounding third-world constitutions attest.

That is why the cypto-Nazis always attack the courts as unelected legislators when what the courts are mostly doing is the necessary job of deciding how to interpret grand general statements into the specific day-to-day circumstances of people’s lives, and that under ever-changing circumstances. By the way, in the Nazis’ early period, before they felt free to drag judges from their courts or murder them, they had exactly the same view of courts that dared to make unfriendly decisions.

The father of this contempt for courts in America was Thomas Jefferson who loathed the idea that the Supreme Court would interpret the Constitution’s generalizations on behalf of the states. That is why he is the patron saint of America’s crypto-Nazis. Jefferson was an expert at sounding high-minded while acting shabbily.

During the early Federalist period, Jefferson was ready to have Virginia secede – more than half a century before the rise of the Confederacy – over the issue of the Supreme Court’s authority. Why? Because he understood the intrinsic conflict between a Bill of Rights and a society of aristocratic slaveholders, a democratic-sounding Constitution and a Virginia where about one percent of people could vote, and he was, despite all his high-sounding language, quite comfortable being an aristocratic slaveholder. The Bill of Rights sounded fine, but just don’t set up anyone to interpret and enforce it.

Parts of America’s right drift off into utter blindness and even phobic hatred. Jefferson to his dying day believed blacks were inferior, almost another species, and that women didn’t merit the same education, and certainly not the same political privileges, as men. You don’t find America’s Aryan churches or weird militia groups or anti-gay organizations with liberals on their membership rolls. America’s extreme right provided the vicious anti-Semites of American history – the founding males of many clans like the Fords or the Bushes – but they rule now in an odd partnership with the religious right whose eyes tear over with every mention of words like Holy Land, the End of Time, and Armageddon.

One of the major bonds tying them together is the fundamentalists’ fear of social change. Fundamentalist minds seem fixed somewhere around 1840 or so as offering the ideal family and social arrangements, although they do enjoy suburban living, television, fast food, and SUVs, and not many of them have ten children or mail-order brides anymore. They see the never-ending pressure for change in American society – the inexorable result of long-term economic growth – as destructive to their vision of what society should be, and they are right, it is. This is why undefined blubber about “family values” joined the right-wing lexicon some years back. Ironically, the right wing’s simplistic and enduring love for “the hell with regulations” economic growth, actually works against the long-term interests of fundamentalists, creating even greater future stresses on their vision of society, but few of them seem to understand this fact.

What of liberalism and its history in America? Although America rejected the idea of a king or lifetime president, taking what was a liberal view in the 18th century, the early Republic was effectively an aristocracy, an aristocracy of men with money, farms, and slaves rather than noble birth. It was the spirit of liberalism that gradually extended the franchise to include more than a small number of (male, white) property owners. It was the same spirit that gave the franchise to women and that made the United States Senate an elected rather than appointed, aristocratic body. It was liberalism that finally freed America’s blacks from a second bondage, brutal apartheid in every detail, and gave them the franchise a century after the supposed end of slavery. It was liberalism that produced the great reforms of the Depression, creating hope and saving America from the brutal coups and civil wars of Europe during the troubled 1930s. It was liberalism that drove hope and progress for universal education. It was always liberalism pushing to make the tolerance for speech or religion promised in the Constitution into something tangible.

The mouthpieces for America’s equivalent of the 1930s’ Krupp or Farben – Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, William F. Buckley, and dozens of others – are rarely seriously challenged over their sophomoric historical knowledge or their sneering jokes at hard-won human values. There appears to be a large appetite in America for re-cycled political garbage. The money supporting its production comes in truckloads. And there are truckloads, too, for phony institutes where ideologue-propagandists pose as academics, much like actors in white lab coats posing as doctors on ads for hemorrhoid relief. Money gushes like blood from opened arteries to support meaningless advertising’s suffocation of genuine debate in American elections, and the George Wills of this world are paid handsomely to cover this naked display of power with arguments about free speech.

All the insensitivity and stupidity spewing over America’s airwaves and carried in its newspapers does have an effect, as its sponsors intend that it should. Without any serious political opposition inside the country, America has launched two meaningless wars on weak nations, killing and maiming thousands of innocent people. It threatens still others and keeps prisoners in cages offshore. There is considerable public acceptance of barbarities like torture and assassination, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, inside the country are arrested and held with no access to courts or legal help. There is a vast increase in spying on your own people, and there is selective support for leaders of some countries no better than tyrants or murderers.

Meanwhile, “Hon, they’ve got a special on air conditioners down at the mall. Do you think we could drive down after the news?”



John Chuckman

Pat Buchanan recently called Canada “a haven for terrorists,” a place with lax security. His words struck me as a bit odd considering that not one of the Gang of Nineteen involved in 9/11 came from, or even through, Canada. They all entered the United States from other places, and they all had American-issued visas.

It would be hard to imagine a more grotesque example of lax security than an attack on America’s temple to the military, the Pentagon. Letting that happen when you spend $30 billion a year on intelligence and hundreds of billions on defense surely qualifies as world-class laxness, probably good enough to claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records, if it weren’t just so downright embarrassing.

The military drum-beat crowd likes to ignore that little fact as they harangue those who don’t agree that police-state measures, or for that matter, blowing up women and children in Baghdad, just naturally follow from the events of 9/11.

Pat’s crowd also ignores the fact that after decades of hijackings and threats to commercial aircraft in America, and despite clear warnings there were people out there with some very unpleasant intentions (recall Mr. Clinton’s fleet of cruise missiles hurled at camps in Afghanistan), the American Congress never bothered with such elementary new security measures as strengthening cockpit doors or improving the professionalism of airport-security staff.

Yes, the entire horror of 9/11 could have been avoided by a Congress that had just done its job. But that’s not the approach Pat’s political crowd is comfortable with. Sensible preparations? “Why, boy, that sounds distinctly like interferin’ in private enterprise, maybe even some of that there socialism!”

No, Pat’s crowd waits for disaster and then responds by shoveling tens of billions at idiotic, irrelevant military schemes and working overtime to unravel the very parchment of the Bill of Rights. Any resemblance to fascism is strictly coincidental.

Pat contemptuously refers to Canada as “Soviet Canukistan.” He never pauses to explain what that goofy epithet means, but it does reveal something about his thinking. You could fairly deduce that in Pat’s mental atlas America then assumes the relative position of Soviet Russia.

But what’s meaning to a guy like Pat? You go for the cheap wisecrack and race on to make the next one. The phrase, of course, has the earmarks of Rush Limbaugh’s pimply-teenager-at-camp, self-satisfied snickering, but that’s all you require for success in America’s television politics. No wonder Americans are so poorly informed: fraternity-boy acts pass for political commentary.

Canada is a “freeloading” country according to Pat, lapping up luxurious security courtesy of the U.S. defense budget, a regular hog at the trough. People like Pat never explain what it is that Canada is being defended from.

If it makes Americans feel good, Canadians are willing to say they are grateful for being defended, but, in secret, many scratch their heads about what it is they are supposed to be grateful for. Canada does not have a serious enemy in the world. The only country in a good position to threaten Canada is, in fact, the United States, but that does make a convincing argument to keep right on saying thanks for all that defense, especially with Pat’s crowd running the place.

The world, quite correctly, does not regard Canada as a partner in America’s uglier plots and stunts, and Canada enjoys a significant margin of safety from terror simply by virtue of that fact.

America makes a lot of enemies pushing people around, claiming high ideals all the while. Nobody likes a bully, and most people are repelled by noisy hypocrisy. America maintains its bloated, costly, and increasingly-dangerous armed forces precisely to do all that pushing and protect itself from the consequences.

Looked at in this way, calls by Americans like Buchanan – or for that matter America’s current, intrusive Ambassador to Ottawa, Mr. Cellucci – for Canada to spend a great deal more on defense really amount to demands that Canada subsidize America’s efforts to impose its often poorly-informed and generally-selfish notions on the world.

I once read an article written by a man who grew up with Buchanan. He described what an unpleasant street-tough Pat was, a bare-knuckles troublemaker who roamed his neighborhood territory, always ready for an argument and a fight – a regular backyard brown shirt.

That story might not be worth relating so many years later, had Pat demonstrated some capacity for growth, but he hasn’t, not a bit. He’s too old and puffy to use his fists now, so he’s substituted his mouth. And if you listen carefully to what he says and the way he says it, you just might recognize the shrill and painful sounds of a badly-abused child



John Chuckman

It may have something to do with a life spent scowling, years of squeezing facial muscles and lips so tightly the skin comes to resemble cracked swollen grapes. It may relate to the hemorrhoid-inducing strains of bad potty training, although research is unclear as to whether this is a cause or an effect. “Not sparing the rod” may play a role – you can’t look into the hard-boiled-egg face of Second-Lady, Lynne Cheney, without thinking about Sam Spade slapping around uncooperative witnesses. But I wouldn’t insist on the point. Her face may just reflect explosively-high blood pressure. Or an abnormally large spleen.

There may be a genetic basis for many of the large divisions of human nature – not for all the details and refinements, but for the basic dichotomies, such as optimism and pessimism, open to new ideas or close-minded, generous or greedy, smiling or sour, peaceful or violent. I certainly don’t know this to be the case, but it seems a plausible hypothesis.

So I do think it possible there is a genetic basis for Republicanism. It is difficult otherwise to explain why the same mix of traits turns up over and over – greedy, narrow, sour, and lacking in humor, always excepting for the kind of sophomoric stuff mumbled and stumbled over by a pretzel-challenged President.

Whatever the cause, it is an easily confirmed observation that Republicans have no sense of humor. I’m sure there are readers – especially the ones that send me notes advising that J.K. Rowling is a pseudonym of Beelzebub – now thinking, “Then how do you explain Rush Limbaugh?”

Well, this just proves my point. If that is your idea of a sense of humor, you have none. The words of “Naziism with a Friendly Face,” as Rush is warmly known to closeted Hitler-Jugend and aspiring pimply-faced predator-entrepreneurs across the United States, provide a sure test for lack of humor. If he makes you laugh, you have a problem. Or, rather, the country has a problem if there are enough of you.

If Republicans had a sense of humor, they’d laugh their own leadership off the platform. The party’s Washington mob could be the cast of extras from one of those old Hammer Studio horror films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Scary, ugly and dopey – all at the same time.

Strom “The Living Corpse” Thurmond: It is reliably reported that a Senate page is assigned, full time, to yank sash cords from a secret room in the Senate basement that run up Strom’s pants, attach to his jaw, and make his mouth move. Strom is no dummy though, having been granted several honorary degrees from Bob Jones University

Tom “The Roach Exterminator” DeLay: Here is a man who almost certainly ingested too much rat and roach powder while working as a pest exterminator in Texas, the kind of entrepreneurial experience deemed, in that neck of the woods, as fully qualifying you for a career in national politics. Tom fancies himself a Constitutional scholar though, always carrying a folded-up copy of the sacred text in his back pocket and showing some adeptness at its interpretation. The only trouble is it’s the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Trent “Prancey Boy” Lott (a.k.a. “Big Hair”): This former star agricultural-college cheerleader still performs at private benefits on behalf of the George Wallace Memorial Chapter for the Preservation of our Glorious Confederate Heritage. If you want to catch him going through his moves, book early – they’re always sell-out crowds.

Dennis “The Crusher” Hastert: Nick-named in recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of election-finance reform as well as his remarkable resemblance to one of those WWF plastic dolls, a man said by some to suffer from extended exposure to crop dusting in southern Illinois.

And that barely scratches the surface for miserable, threadbare material in the Republican Party.

We have Jesse “Don’t Tread on Me” Helms: He represents the one known species of viper that weird Carolina fundamentalists avoid using in their snake-handling acts.

Newt “Hydrophobia” Gingrich: Almost resembling a very large Kewpie doll in a business suit, Newt seems quite innocuous until he displays his piranha-like smile and suddenly strikes with rows of glittering razor-teeth. The Beanie Baby version of Newt has been declared hazardous for children.

Phil “As my ol’ Mama said, ‘Some gotta clim’ down outta the wagon…’ ” Gramm. This guy’s failure to put together a wad of dough as big as the one that made Bush president, spared generations of school kids from memorizing mind-numbing quotes off the sides of a giant marble wagon in Washington.

Bob “The U.S. government’s running a damned concentration camp down there in Washington, an’ they got Elian locked up in it!” Smith. Smith does have a certain gentility, earning him the epithet, “New England’s Own Big Bubba.” Big Bubba’s career heroic moment was quitting the party, not for anything so unrewarding as principle, but so he could be lured back with a committee position. His feat of crawling back to Washington over the rocky New England landscape is the stuff of Republican legend.

Bob “I want Ron and Nancy stuffed and put in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian!” Barr. The acerbic Barr has a tender side, he has been known to weep openly at the sight of a bowl of jelly beans. Former associates at the CIA still affectionately refer to him as the Agency’s Nincompoop Quota.

Henry “The Two-Ton Hypocrite” Hyde. Well, at least Bush’s “youthful indiscretions” stopped, instead of starting, at forty. Hyde, a consummate ham actor, gave his most memorable performance in the role of noble, white-maned statesman heroically struggling against the forces of reason, good sense, and good taste to cast down an elected President over a dribble on a dress. In his own mind, he was repeating the magic of Charles Laughton in Advise and Consent.

And, we have a new star in the Republican firmament since September 11, John “Speaks in Tongues” Ashcroft. Here is today’s indispensable man. In the course of years rolling around on the dirt floors of revival tents in Missouri, blubbering incomprehensibly, he gained immense insight into fundamentalist financial networks that he now applies to the damned heathen fundamentalists who believe the wrong fundamentals.

Of course, with a party that doesn’t think there should be a government – just a contracted-out private army with an unlimited budget for weapons from Fortune 500 companies plus a secret-police network whose computers hook-up to every home (this last is a self-funded scheme from the sale to corporations of the greatest stash of intimate, personal marketing data ever assembled) – such ballot choices are not terribly surprising. But still, even this partial roll call provides powerful evidence of a complete lack of humor.

Just as I was about to complete this important piece of investigative journalism, the following item came in on the wire from a large Eastern research facility. I believe it requires no additional comment.


Important new research has made a startling discovery. Autopsies on the brains of hundreds of cadavers have revealed that  the vestigial bit of reptilian brain long known to exist in all humans is three times larger than normal in Republicans.

Preliminary follow-up work with MRIs on living Republicans not only confirms the finding but indicates a dominant role in many of their brain functions.