Monday, January 4, 2010

Rush Has A Heart Scare

HONOLULU (AP) - A Honolulu television station is reporting that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was taken to a hospital with chest pains.
KITV reported Wednesday that paramedics responded to a call at 2:41 p.m. from the Kahala Hotel and Resort where Limbaugh is vacationing.

The station, citing unnamed sources, said paramedics treated Limbaugh and took him to The Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.

Queen's spokesman N. Makana Shook says the hospital is unable to comment on the report.

Limbaugh was seen golfing at Waialae Country Club earlier this week. The country club is next to the Kahala Hotel and Resort.

After hearing of this news, I got caught up in thought over the contribution that Rush has made to America and how easily that could be taken away; how soon he would be forgotten (except, of course, to those of us who like to read and listen to things), as his name is swallowed up in the memory hole. The mainstream media have performed already as a blackout of Rush amongst their own signals, only begrudgingly bringing up his name when a salacious or embarrassing angle is employed.

I thought it only proper to offer an ode to a Thomas Paine of our times, Rush Limbaugh, at my favorite political watering hole, Sweetness & Light:

I first learned about Rush when I ETS’d out of the Army back in 1990. My political philosophy was already firmly in the Conservative realm, but I had spent my adolescent years smothered in Democrat-controlled, Appalachian mountain ignorance. My people lived like Conservatives as we stayed within our budgets, found enjoyment in the little things, and realized that Earthly pleasures don’t lead to salvation. But as rural people, many of whom still get their drinking water from a nearby mountain spring, desperation and generations of inadequate education lead even good, God-fearing people to fall for the Senator Byrds of this world. Eating nothing but chestnuts and old apples for a few winters in a row could do that to you, of course.

But if you think that people like my Scots-Irish father voted Democrat all the time because he was a Dixiecrat, then you don’t understand southern white men. Even though my father was a pure redneck cracker, we never heard the word nigger used in my household. He wasn’t like that. As a drinker, he had several friends who drank with him on a regular basis throughout his 64 years. A few of those were black men from our backwoods county, and my dad never acted like there was anything strange about it. He laughed and had a good time with them, so there was nothing to it.

But my father, like much of the men from that area, had a superstitious distrust of anyone who spoke well and was educated. As my brother and I used to ask deeper questions about politics of my drunk father, and the questions contained more logic, the only thing he would finally seize upon is, “My dad always told me that the common man does better when Democrats are in control, and I’m for the little man, dammit!” and the conversation was inevitably shut down at that point, as he stormed off to his bedroom.

It took my entry into the Army for my own personal philosophy to crystalize. At 18, I thought I was an Independent: “I vote the man, not the party”, blah, blah. That’s the kind of thing you say with a steely look in your eye and a mind full of pride that you aren’t “controlled” by any outside groupthink. I said that kind of thing because I was immature in my understanding of the world.

By the end of my 4-year hitch in 1990, I had become a voracious reader of all things current events. My impulse came from the need to know where the next punch was coming from. As an 82nd Airborne Infantry soldier, I constantly did “fly-aways”, where one minute you’re in the barracks thinking nothing is planned except for tomorrow’s formation, and the next minute you’re mustered up, crammed into a C 141 with all of your unit, rigged for your jump into El Salvador, Panama, or Egypt. We didn’t have the internet at that time, of course, so I became very well acquainted with the major dailies around the country. I wanted to know a little about the possible places and reasons that might end my life.

I finally woke up to what the Democrats represented in the late 1980’s. It could have been a number of issues, but what really sticks in my mind is the luxury tax that Tip O’Neil’s Congress came up with. Big pleasure boats were targetted in the items to receive the extra tax, and when the reports came out not long afterwards, I think I grew up a little, politically.

What the tax did, of course, was nothing but put hundreds of ship builder employees out of a job and ruined their skillset’s marketability. Imagine being a man who isn’t good at anything but the one job he’s known for 20 years-the same job his father did, that his father did, etc., and now, thanks to some greedy, fat, Boss Hog-type politicians in Washington who’ve never had to live honestly for a living like the boat maker does…you’re ruined. The Democrat Congressmen pat themselves on the back and exclaim that they’ve “stuck it to the rich” while more lives get dashed against the rocks, people flailing along in the aftershock, dying a slow death of always trying to reclaim that job, quality of life, and place in the world.

Just when I was coming to this maturity, along came Rush. When I got out of the military the world was consumed with political correctness. Greenpeace and MTV had jelled pretty well. Live Aid had already spawned so many different “message rock” events that it was cliche’. 45 years of Cold War readiness had really brought out the malcontents and “anti-establishment” crowd, and there were NO cultural outlets that allowed for a conversation of what it meant to be a Conservative. Larry King was the only syndicated daily talk show that reached a considerably-wide audience, and it was overnight on the Mutual Radio Network, with the much-more talented Jim Bohanon filling in for him ocasionally. Larry conducted more of a celebrity-driven show, though, and bore NO resemblance to what this iconoclast named Rush Limbaugh was doing. Here it was, 12 o’clock in the afternoon, and people were actually rediscovering the AM band of their radios!

Phrases like ‘baseline budgeting’ were finally being disected by this man on the radio who broke it down piece by piece for you, allowing you to come to your own conclusion about how you think that Congress should look at the task of spending your money. This was a FIRST! Sure, there had been individual tv or radio broadcast segments which may have tried to discuss this in their brief 30-minute show one time in America’s past, but here was a man who was breathlessly rolling this kind of display for you daily, for 3 hours, and doing it with a laugh.

When complex thinkers who talk to the rest of us who aren’t as steeped in that particular knowledge, they usually eventually slip up if you listen to them long enough (who wouldn’t?). Not Rush. Granted, he has had a gallery of political thinkers around him since birth, (father, brother, uncle, etc in the legal profession), and was smart enough to employ Mark Levin as his fact-checker for the first decade of his national show. But frankly, that just adds to his appeal: Rush got it honestly. No Larry King, Rachel Maddow, or Katie Curic could speak extemporaneously for three hours a day and keep you listening the way Rush does.

Nor could they make sense the way Rush does. Rush’s mind makes such sense with bedrock Americans that it is almost scary. He could use his skills the way a sophist does, but he doesn’t.

A sophist seeks to decieve you; to close your eyes to a certain truth while leading you to another. Rush starts any discussion with a full hearing of the oposition’s precedent. Most of the time, he uses the exact words (in full context) of whoever authored the argument. Not only does he use many sources to cite the opposing side of view, but he invites you to call him on any given day to prove his argument wrong. Many try, but Rush politely refines his argument before our very ears, and we are left to decide who was right or wrong. No sophists could perform that long with any consistency, much less for 20 years.

I actually got on Rush’s show back in 1995. I was a FM radio jock, doing my afternoon drive shift one day, and I decided to give it a try. In between breaks and prepping, I was hitting Rush’s show number on the studio phone’s speed dial. After an hour of this, I finally made it. It was 5 till 3pm on a Friday, and so Rush’s “open line Friday” allowed for any topic I chose to speak about on his show.

After a quick, pleasant exchange with The Godfather (it was about Ted Kopell’s performance the night before. I didn’t like the way Kopell treated a GOP Senator during the interview, and Rush defended Kopell as someone he’d always liked, so he wouldn’t join in my bitchfest about it, lol), I asked if it would be ok if I said “hi” to my father and brother in Virginia. He said sure, so I did. It was a great experience.

One of my distant cousins from Texas happened to be listening ( I was calling from Ohio), and she recognized that the caller had to be me because I mentioned their jobs and what part of Virginia they were from. Otherwise, this cousin had never talked to me, and I was introduced on Rush’s show by only my first name, so that was special that she knew it was me, I thought. My father also happened to be listening, as he always loved to scream at the radio while listening to Rush. My Texas cousins were calling my folks’ house immediately, and the buzz reached me in Ohio before I left the station that night.

It is a GREAT memory of mine, and I have Rush to thank for it.

I also want to thank Rush for affecting the political climate in America (the world?) the way that he has. His voice has been a rallying cry for those of us who feel as if we are alone in the world. Rush’s words, passion, and steady dedication serve as an example to us all. As all of the S&L community here has expressed, “God be with you, Rush.”

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