Over the past day, Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly compared the Nazi logo to President Obama's health care logo and has discussed the "similarities" between the Nazis and the Democratic Party.
Limbaugh's website currently features the following images, which alternately fade into each other:
And here are his recent comments:
For the past several hours, the journalists -- anchors and guests -- on MSNBC have been talking about health care town halls, and protests, and angry people, without ever once, as far as I've noticed, actually discussing a single fact about health care, or proposed reforms.
At one point, anchor Savannah Guthrie said criticism of the staged protests ignores the fact that people have legitimate concerns about health care reforms. What are those concerns? Guthrie didn't say. Why are they legitimate? Guthrie didn't say.
At another, an MSNBC anchor interviewed New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny; the entire conversation was about the White House's preferred messaging about the town halls -- not a word of substance about health care.
Another segment featured two guests: former Democratic Congressman David Bonior, and a Republican strategist -- I think it was Todd Harris. The entire conversation was about town hall meetings, and who is yelling louder, and what can be done to keep people from yelling, and who has yelled at what events in the past -- literally not a word about, you know, health care. (The guests didn't cover themselves in glory, either, playing along with the inside-baseball lets-focus-on-process-rather-than-policy nonsense.)
This is madness. Madness.
There is absolutely no value in spending hour after hour saying "So, people are angry, aren't they?" "Yep, they sure are." "But the protests are being organized by interest groups." "But they have valid concerns! And they're angry!"
Nothing good comes of this. Tell us what the concerns are. Tells us if they are based in fact. Tell us the truth about health care, and about proposed reforms.
UPDATE: Another segment, this with the chyron/theme: "Town Halls Turn Ugly"
And we're five minutes into the segment, and there hasn't yet been a word of discussion of a single fact about health care.
From an August 7 press release issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center:
Injecting Nazi Comparisons is Bad for the Health of America's Democracy
The Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized those who have injected Adolf Hitler into the discussion of President Obama's health care plan.
"It is prepostrous to try and make a connection between the President's health care logo and the Nazi Party symbol, the Reichsadler" said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Americans have every right to be critical of the President's health care plan but we demean ourselves and everything that America stands for when we compare either Democrats or Republicans to the Nazi Third Reich.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament.
Aside from the fact that his Media Research Center anti-Pelosi press release from Thursday was borderline incoherent (did she ever make reference to radio talk show hosts?), the proclamation from Bozell that the media needed to doggedly call out hate speech did represent a monumental bout of hypocrisy.
Bozell was all bent out of shape because Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made reference to the fact that some members of the GOP mini-mobs unleashed on town hall forums were carrying "swastikas." For Bozell, the mere mention of anything Nazi--the mere insinuation that anyone involved in our political debate was a Nazis or Nazi-like--was just too much.
"The media have a responsibility to report on this hate speech, who is behind it and how vicious it has become," shrieked Bozell.
Again, for Bozell the game breaker was the mention of Nazi's. To Bozell's ears, that was just completely out of bounds. Period. No exceptions.
Whatever you say Brent.
Please note that this is what Bozell's beloved right-wing talkers said on the same day that Bozell condemned any use of Nazi references in our political discourse:
To quote the great Brent Bozell, "The media have a responsibility to report on this hate speech, who is behind it and how vicious it has become."
So, Fox is directing people to town hall meetings held by Democratic members of Congress -- and says the reason they aren't letting people know when Republican members are holding town halls is because they don't have the GOP schedule:
Well, I like to help FOX out when I can, so here's a list of town halls that includes Republicans.
So, now Fox doesn't have an excuse for directing disruptive viewers only to Democratic events.
From Glenn Greenwald's August 6 blog post at Salon.com:
UPDATE: I've sent emails to many of the people and groups referenced here -- which I've posted here -- and will post any responses if and when I receive them.
UPDATE II: National Review's Cliff May: "It is wrong, outrageous and damaging for Rush Limbaugh to compare Obama to Hitler. ... Such hyperbole only serves to confuse and trivialize issues much more grave than tax rates and health-care plans."
From Steven Pearlstein's August 7 column in The Washington Post:
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.
The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange -- along with their employers -- would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.
There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won't be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business -- the Republican nightmare scenario -- is approximately zero.
By now, you've probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.
Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society -- whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.
Funny if it weren't so sad.
Conservatives like Goldberg claimed Nancy Pelosi got it all wrong when she claimed anti-health care mini-mob members showed up with swastikas. The nerve of that woman! In fact, Goldberg wrote an entire name-calling column about Pelosi was sooooo wrong about the swastikas comment. She was "lying."
But then Goldberg got emails this morning confirming that, yeah, that's what some mini-mob members did:
So he went to work [emphasis added]:
Alan Colmes, for instance, says this is proof that Pelosi told the truth. But, wait a second. This is a single picture of a swastika. It also happens to have that red line through it. By this standard, similar anti-smoking signs are pro-smoking and anti-KKK protestors with the KKK crossed out with a line are also pro-KKK.
Pelosi's comment very clearly gives the impression that these protestors [sic] are carrying swastikas in a very different way.
Rather than doing the adult, common sense thing and actually agree that introducing Nazi references into the health care debate is, y'know, wrong, Goldberg, professional apologist and fact-checker's nightmare, tried to explain how the Nazi stuff wasn't really that bad.
By the way Jonah, this was from an Austin mini-mob. Can you please explain how this protester was "carrying swastikas in a very different way"?
Goldberg claimed Pelosi was "lying" when she referenced swastikas. That she engaged in "dishonesty, slander, and idiocy."
And now we know the entire premise of Goldberg's column has been shown to be false.
UPDATED: Glenn Greenwald details the glaring double standard that Goldberg and friends are engaged in after they spent the Bush years emphatically denouncing any Nazi reference in our public debate.
UPDATED: Huffington Post has more evidence that Goldberg must have missed before he penned his trenchant column claiming Pelosi was "lying" about mini-mob swastikas.
Here's a young mini-mob man with an Obama T-shirt that reads "Hitler Gave Great Speeches Too":
And here's a precious snapshot of a mini-mob kid in a stroller carrying a Nazi-flavored sign:
UPDATED: A belated reminder that Goldberg is incensed that it was Pelosi who introduced the deeply divisive notion that Obama critics were in any way connected to Nazism. That it was Goldberg who thought it was a "slander" to unfairly tag anyone in American politics with a Nazi reference.
Arriving online the morning after right-wing teabaggers sparked arrests, fights and mayhem at town hall meetings across the country, Noonan warns it's Democrats who are unleashing an "ugly" tone to the health care debate. It's Democrats who are being "unhelpfully divisive and provocative."
The column really is one of Noonan's worst, and most intellectually dishonest, in years, as she whole heartedly defends the mini-mobs and berates Democrats for having the nerve to push back rhetorically. Noonan ignores the death threats issued to at least one Congressman. She ignores that members of Congress now routinely have to be escorted to their cars by police after mini-mobs unleash their wrath.
For Noonan, the mob mentality is good. It's just democracy at work. It's just "concerned" citizens. It's just "democracy's great barbaric yawp."
In the wake of the violence unleashed at yesterday's town hall meetings, we'll see if Noonan backtracks, let alone apologizes for egging on the physical attacks; for legitimizing their brand of terror in the pages of the WSJ.
And oh yeah, Noonan lectures the White House that nobody in the administration--nobody--should be using Nazi references in the context of the health care debate. Ever. This, of course, one day after Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck both accused the White House of acting like Nazi's.
Noonan, of course, won't acknowledge that fact. She won't criticize Beck or Limbaugh and their "ugly" tone. Why? Because they now lead the conservative movement in America and formerly serious people like Peggy Noonan have to play along. And they have to play dumb.
Noonan has clearly mastered the latter.
UPDATED: Did I mention just how God-awful this Noonan column is?
And frankly they ought to think about backing off. The president should call in his troops and his Congress and announce a rethinking. There are too many different bills, they're all a thousand pages long, no one has time to read them, no one knows what's going to be in the final one, the public is agitated, the nation's in crisis, the timing is wrong, we'll turn to it again—but not now. We'll take a little longer, ponder every aspect, and make clear every complication.
According to Noonan, the White House should give into the mini-mobs and take health care reform off the table because a loud and increasingly violent minority number of demonstrators hate it. (The definition of mob rule, no?) Obama should try the initiative later when everyone will have cooled off. Because, presumably, in the future all the teabaggers will act civil and Fox News won't fear monger about the government killing old people. And critics will have time to read the legislation and things will be much more calm, and the country can have an informed debate about health care.
Can't wait for Noonan's next installment when she tells us about a must-see bridge that's for sale in Brooklyn.