01 March, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Well, well. This could get interesting (h/t):

I was interviewed by several journalists last week about Rick Santelli’s Rant — my exact quote was it had a “Faux” feel to it. (I haven’t seen it in print yet)

What was so odd about this was that Santelli is usually on the ball; we usually agree more often than we disagree. He’s been responsible for some of the best moments on Squawk Box.

But his rant somehow felt wrong. After we’ve pissed through over $7 trillion dollars in Federal bailouts to banks, brokers, automakers, insurers, etc., this was a pittance, the least offensive of all the vast sums of wasted money spent on “losers” to use Santelli’s phrase. It seemed like a whole lot of noise over “just” $75 billion, or 1% of the rest of the total ne’er-do-well bailout monies.

It turns out that there may be more to the story then originally met the eye, according to (yes, really) Playboy magazine.


“How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that’s because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.”

I'll have more on this as details come available. Wonder how well that little stunt's going to play with the public once they learn they've been snookered?

In the meantime, let's engage in a little light Limbaugh-bashing, just because he deserves it:

We talked yesterday about how anxious Democrats and their allies are to "promote Rush Limbaugh as the public face of the GOP." As Greg Sargent reported, "key leadership staff in the House and Senate, and in all the political committees, have been encouraged by senior Dem operatives to push this message wherever possible."

To help drive the point home, consider what viewers heard on "Face the Nation" this morning.

Not missing any opportunity to make Rush Limbaugh the figurehead of the GOP, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called the brash talk show host the "voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party" on Sunday.

Appearing on CBS's Face The Nation, Emanuel brought up Limbaugh without being prompted. Applauding the conservative radio personality for being upfront in his desire to see the president fail, Emanuel went to great lengths to make the case that Limbaugh, more than any other contemporary figure, is the leader of the GOP.

Emanuel wasn't subtle. Indeed, he emphasized the fact that "whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood."

And why might Dems be wanting to tie Cons to Limbaugh? Well, mostly because the Cons are following the lead of a jackass who keeps publicly wishing for Obama to fail, and because he keeps saying outrageous things that everyone but he himself can recognize as racist. The vast majority of the country can't stand him, but he puts his followers in a rapturous state:
Sometimes I think it's best to let the wingnuttery speak for itself.

The rumor is true. I got a bit of face time with Rush Limbaugh yesterday in the green room. He was as warm and gracious as you’d expect. It was a high honor.

I had lunch with Vice President Cheney a few weeks before he left office and was not nearly as intimidated as I was meeting Rush — the stuttering I had as a child returned.

It was absolutely amazing.

See what I mean? How can that be topped?

CPAC attendees recognize just how excellent he is — they named him the most popular conservative out there. He is with reason.

The Drug-Addicted Thrice Divorced Sex Tourist is about as popular as anal cysts, so Erick's right, he is the most popular conservative out there.

And when a dumbfuck from Red State starts rhapsodizing over an assclown like Limbaugh, how can you resist the urge to point and laugh? Who was it who said, "To destroy your enemy, first make him ridiculous?" Good thing for us they do it to themselves.


In recent years, it's become a lazy right-wing talking point to describe anyone and anything that's even vaguely liberal. Glenn Beck went on a tirade about a year ago, arguing that Hillary Clinton's policy agenda "sounds like the Soviet Union" -- he labeled her "Comrade Clinton" -- and said of John Edwards, "Now, put a red star on his furry head. He's a communist." In 2005, when some raised questions about the propriety of lawmakers attending retreats sponsored by corporate lobbyists, then-Rep. James Gibbons (R-Nev.) said, "Anybody who is against that obviously must be a communist."

Now, however, we've reached the point at which conservatives can say almost nothing else.

Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.

As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").

It seems that "socialist" has supplanted "liberal" as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as "Clinton" was in the 1990s and "Pelosi" is today.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) referred to the president as "the world's best salesman of socialism." Mike Huckabee, before casually throwing around references to Lenin and Stalin endorsing the Democratic agenda, decried "socialist republics" in the United States.

Steve goes on to ask, "would it kill these right-wing clowns to learn what "socialism" actually is?" Considering they seem to have an allergy to anything resembling the truth, I suspect it would indeed. Which means the abundant stupidity should continue long into 2010, when it will be of great good use to those of us who want to administer these fuckwits yet another sound electoral spanking.

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