Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rush Limbaugh - 3 Lies in 2 Minutes or Your Money Back!

I was stuck in the car yesterday, and decided to go flicking through the radio stations. One station (which I have preset as it's my local station for the Braves) had on the Rush Limbaugh show. I've heard a lot about him but never actually listened to his station raw. After 2 minutes, I had to turn it off, as I was tired of all the lies and basic errors he was passing off as 'fact'. The specific segment of the show was about the Deepwater Horizons incident, and oil. He's really living up to his (unofficial) sales patter, of Lies for Dumb People.

For those that don't know who he is, he's a very influential right wing radio talk-show host. Like others (Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Sean Hannity), his spiel is based around blaming the Democrats for anything and everything, while saying how well everything the Republican party does. their points usually revolve around fear and require severe lacks of integrity, critical thought, and general knowledge  They also tend to flip-flop on issues when it suits them. Rush, for instance, was very critical of drug addicts, up until he admitted he was one, addicted to Oxycodone. Rather than taking the punishment he was quick to apply to others, he fought tooth and nail to avoid any responsibility. He characterised the investigation as a personal attack, rather than a criminal investigation into wrongdoing, as required under US law. Let's go to the specific lies though..

I've taken a screenshot to enable me to highlight the quotes, as well as a shot of the entire page, (in case it disappears, or is altered) they're at the end. Let's start with the first one.

Lie 1
And now we've just seen -- and you know how much oil was spilled. It was a bunch. They were talking millions of gallons and yet they can't find it because it's been eaten alive, it's evaporated, it's dispersed or what have you. I think you're right. I think people, laymen, just really do not understand what's involved in doing this.
This is all true, and all false. It certainly was millions of gallons. At the lowest flow rate estimated (5,600 cubic meters/day, or 1,479,363 Gallons, or 35,000 Barrels) for the 87 days from April 20 - july 15, thats, erm 128,704,623 gallons. If we up that rate from the low-end value to the high end one (9,500 cubic meters, 2,509,634 Gallons  60,000 Barrels) it comes to 218,338,200 gallons. A QUARTER OF A BILLION!

Ok, that part's true, but 'can't find it'? If you take a bath full of water, and stick a little bit of black ink in there, how easy is it to 'find' the ink? You can see it, but it's well mixed in. Can you 'find' the ink? Is it there? Yes. There's an even bigger disparity with the Gulf. The Gulf is HUGE. People don't realise how big it is. It's the 9th largest body of water in the world, at around 660 quadrillion gallons (you remember what Quadrillion means, right, 660,000,000,000,000,000 Gallons) with a surface area of 615,000 square meters. The ratio of volumes is something like 3,022,833,384:1 (water:oil) Three trillion to one. Not such a big problem you might think, but it's not filling the deep water, it's covering the top surface, and mostly within a meter.

That is the problem. Most aquatic life needs oxygen, which is dissolved in the water. Fish use gills to take the oxygen, for instance, and the oxygen is replenished by agitation. you're getting oil mixed in, it's like a person breathing in oil, not good for you. Accidentally inhale a bit of water, and despite it being only a sip you're coughing and hacking. Lay a thin film of oil or tar on your bronchial tubes and you're likewise coughing and hacking (just ask any smoker). Now, part of it has evaporated, granted, and part has been eaten alive. Either by wildlife which has then died, or by artificially released bacteria, which can have further impacts on the eco-system. Same with the dispersents being sprayed on the oil (that they 'can't find'). Oh, and they're doing this out of the goodness of their hearts - oh wait, they're doing it because they have to because it's an ecological disaster.

While he speaks the truth most of the time, the lie is in the presentation, and the conclusion. Of course, if his statement is true, then I can't wait to see Rush go swimming in the area where the spill is (and apparently can't find the oil). If he's right, he'll be happy to stand behind that statement. If he's wrong, we'll see another oil-covered beached whale. Of course, Rush won't take me up on this, partly because I'm a no-one, and partly because being able to research facts and do basic maths makes me a 'dangerous liberal'.

Lie 2
I've always said the Big Oil people have just got to be angry as they can be at the Big Water people. A gallon of gasoline is cheaper than a gallon of bottled water. A gallon of bottled water will cost you more than a gallon of gasoline...
I heard this, and had to laugh. Not long after I heard this, I was at Walmart, and took the following picture.
1 Gal of water for 88c.
Madison, GA Walmart August 4 2010

As you can see, Walmart sells a gallon of Bottled Water, from a water company (DS Waters, based in Atlanta - I've actually got a friend working in their IT department). It wasn't the cheapest water there, and yet it's still only 88cents for a gallon. Anyone can verify this for themselves, just go to any supermarket, and look. So, would Mr Limbaugh like to point me towards the petrol (gasoline) that's 87c/gal? When I first moved to the US in 2003, it was $1.25/gal. I've never seen it less than $1. The only way I can think of he could be right, is if he's getting a VERY preferential rate from the oil company/filling station. Is it true? No, it's a flat out lie.

Lie 3

Finally, there's the 3rd lie, which is mostly a lie by omission, it follows directly on from the last quote.
...and yet the Big Water guys we've now learned half the time just put their bottles underneath somebody's faucet, turn on the tap, put a good looking label on it and put it in the grocery store or at a Quik Stop. Some of them actually get their water from these deep Artesian wells or what have you, but others are just turning on the spigot. What did we learn? I don't want to be wrong by mistakenly mentioning a brand name, but some of them have even admitted that their clean and pure Artesian well water has actually been mixed with the tap water from the city where they happen to be bottling the stuff. And, of course, they don't have to do anything. The Big Water guys don't have to do a damn thing.
There's a reason for this. It's called 'regulation'. The reason many bottled water companies use a 'municipal source' is simply because the restrictions the EPA puts on tap water, are stricter than the regulations the FDA has put on bottled water. Tap water has to be tested far more frequently, have more tests, and if it fails a test, the customers must be notified. So, do you use your own source, and hope you pass the tests, or do you use a source that has to pass much stricter regulations and has to tell you if it fails? It's really a no-brainer. Rush, like many other Angry White Men, rails against regulation, yet he's pointed out here why regulation is often GOOD for business.  In this instance, the regulation means it's really cheap for a business to piggy-back on the product regulated.


I wish I could say that the program got better. This wasn't even the full 2 minutes, the next caller was a woman calling about her 88yo father's BP pension, which is in BP shares. With a lot of value wiped off BP, (it dropped half it's value April-June, it's now at about 2/3 it's early April value) his pension is now shakey. Basically he's now in the same position a lot of people were at the end of the Bush Administration with the loss of their 401k's.  Instead of getting on the woman for his father's bad planning ('diversify!') he explains how it's Obama's fault. Forgetting that it was the father's ability to sell the stocks at any time, or exercise their power as a shareholder.

Oh, and  on the subject of economic drops, Marketwatch did a piece 2 weeks ago about economic confidence dropping. Drops of that magnitude were rare, and almost always linked to big events, There was only one other that didn't occur during a republican presidency, and that was right after Reagan was elected. Bush Jr. had three of them, his father once,  and Reagon had one in March 1980.

Regardless, I think Rush would be best taking his own advice.  "I think people, laymen, just really do not understand what's involved" - and that includes Rush. That people really can't see this windbag for the idiot he is.. well all that proves is that the education standards in America are abysmally low. There's also a good reason why Senator Al Franken wrote "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" (it's a very good book, if you like your politically commentary based on facts), and that's because the title is true.

Finally, in the spirit of Rush, I'd like to echo one of his favourites - I challenge him to a debate, and I get to pick the venue and the host. He'll not accept, because he's a coward. If one of his people isn't in control, to turn off the other person's microphone, or anything else, he won't do it. He's afraid. Nevertheless, I make the challenge.

Lie1 in green, 2 in red, and 3 in blue. Click to enlarge.
The full article, click to enlarge (warning, LARGE)

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