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Rush @limbaugh : Twitter Warlord

Rush Limbaugh reserved his nom de Twitter in 2009, but @limbaugh only appeared on user screens Thursday, March 15, 2012, after a thinly disguised declaration of war: “There’s an army out there that wants to be mobilized”, he told his radio audience, “and so, I figured, use Twitter for it.”

Innocents like Conor Friedersdorf missed the message. In a post at The Atlantic, headlined “Why Rush Limbaugh’s New Twitter Account Is Cause for Celebration”, Friedersdorf wrote:

“On Twitter, Limbaugh himself will be interacting more outside his radio bubble, and his words will be even more accessible to critique. As someone who thinks that his rhetoric is often indefensible, I think this medium is most likely to discredit him. It’s possible that he’ll try it out for a week or two, tire of the invective that comes his way, and let his account go dormant. But if he keeps at it — if he commits to the medium — he’ll find over time that he lacks the discipline to refrain from tweeting messages that further discredit him.”

That might be true if Limbaugh were a normal Twitter user. But normal tweeple don’t have (as of this writing) 119,400 followers who are about to be weaponized.

“I’m just going to put some things on Twitter that you can help us circulate,” Limbaugh told his listeners. “It’s that simple — you just retweet them.”

And his first tweet seemed inoffensive.  It said:

“Here’s how the opposition astroturfs advertisers. Smart piece from @LegInsurrection Pls Retweet bit.ly/y6Tnnv @mmfa “

This rather cryptic message requires decoding.

First, note that Rush suggests that his critics aren’t reasonable people open to logical argument. They don’t just disagree with what he says — they “oppose” him. He considers them “opposition”. As in another contemporary conflict, if your “opposition” is not a “rational actor”, you must bomb them.

“Astroturf”, in this usage a verb, refers to passing off as a “grassroots movement” the machinations of a concealed entity, such as a political body or an industry.

The “smart piece” to which Rush refers, is a post on the web site Legal Insurrection (thus, @LegInsurrection ). The post, bylined by William A. Jacobson, accuses Media Matters for America ( @mmfa ) of organizing and orchestrating the boycott of Limbaugh sponsors in the wake of Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke.

Thus, Rush’s tweet can be seen as an attempt to arm his “dittoheads” with an allegation with which to defend him against his “opposition”.

Rush’s second tweet is to another post attacking Media Matters, and his third to one that alleges coordination between Media Matters and the White House.

The sources of these posts are not disinterested, nor have their allegations been verified. But Limbaugh urges his “army” to retweet the posts.

Spreading disinformation is only one way Limbaugh can wage war on his opposition.

If the tweets of unhappy women can drive sponsors from Rush’s radio show, can the tweets of his angry dittoheads bring them back? Or, in the future, prevent them from leaving in the first place? Can a reverse boycott entice new sponsors?

Conor, did you truly think Rush Limbaugh would be tweeting you and reading your witty replies? Did you think you could send him a DM? Since he follows no one, no one can.

You can block Rush, of course. That will insure that you receive none of his tweets.  But if you make him unhappy, can you block 100,000 members of his army?

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape?

Public figures of every rank and political stripe get caught saying or doing things they shouldn’t have been saying or doing. Regardless of the offense, their defense follows a predictable pattern.

If possible, deny it. Cover it up. Eliminate the evidence. Pay someone off.

Failing that, blame someone else. If your words or deeds victimized another person, blame it on the victim.  Otherwise, blame the media. Or claim that someone set you up.

If caught dead to rights, be indignant. Call your accusers hypocrites. Ask them where they were when their friends did the same, or a similar, thing.  Claim that those offenses far overshadowed your own.

We’ve seen this story play out countless times with countless individuals.  With organizations, too – political, business, and religious.

Think of the excuses. Just doing my job. Doing what I was told. Too many people would be hurt. Too much at stake. Too big too fail.

Too bad.

We’re not dealing with the moral equivalent of war.  Or shouldn’t be.

Hypocrisy isn’t the issue. “Someone else did it” is not an excuse. Don’t blame it on the victim, the media, or a “setup”.  If you’re guilty, admit it. Apologize. Accept your punishment.

Above all, stop doing it!

The Once and Future GOP

How Rick Santorum could save the Republican Party, the country, and maybe the world!

First, consider that Mitt Romney becomes the Republican presidential nominee. He can win the general election only with enthusiastic support from the extreme right wing of his Party. That support will come with a price.

 The price will include a campaign platform that excites religious fundamentalists who oppose abortion and tend toward some degree of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and a fear of minorities who, by virtue of higher birth rates, may soon out-vote them.  More than a nod toward such sentiments will be required of the candidate.

Assuming that Romney can win on such a platform and with such expectations, the base will claim as reward for its support a greater voice and presence in Party leadership.

Ironically, the base will be even more stridently insistent on more Party power if Romney loses. Why?  Because they will claim that a “real  conservative”, embracing “real conservative principles”, would have won.

That would bode ill for the little still left of the traditional Republican Party, which once had wings not only moderate but liberal.

Now consider that Rick Santorum wins the nomination.

Santorum is not just comfortable with base points of view, but openly and vigorously embraces them as his own.  Not always so conservative, his currently espoused positions place him far to the right of  Barry Goldwater, the most conservative candidate previously to be the GOP nominee. Though he could moderate the Party platform if he chose, conservative pressure — and his own ideological inclination — might induce him to embrace extreme positions. And run hard on them.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater, 61.05 percent to 38.47 percent in the popular vote, and 90.3 percent to 9.7 percent in the Electoral College.  Goldwater, a much better candidate than Santorum, carried only his home state of Arizona and five Deep South states.

The tenor of the times is different now.  Rick Santorum’s loss might not match the landslide that Goldwater faced. But it is unlikely that he would win.

What is likely is that a loss would still, if not silence,  extremists enough, and discredit the extremist agenda enough, for moderate  Republicans to begin the reconstruction of their Party.

For many, and not just Republicans, that victory would be worth more than a presidency.


US has joined other Human Rights Council members to call for an urgent debate on Syria at HRC19 when it opens next week. (via @AmbDonahoe on Twitter)(Edited: TS)

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