The "Hall of Famous Missourians," a series of busts in the rotunda of the Missouri state capitol, honors the state's history makers, among them native sons and daughters, from Florida, Mo.-born writer Mark Twain to St. Louis Cardinals ace Stan Musial, from Walt Disney to Sacajawea. Now, in a feat of exquisite timing, comes news of the latest addition to the Missouri citizenry's hall of fame: Rush Limbaugh.
This is not a hoax. The foul-mouthed, Viagra-popping, blowhard par excellence of the conservative airwaves will be added to the Hall of Famous Missourians in Jefferson City later this spring, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, confirmed Monday that Limbaugh, who, like Tilley, hails from southeast Missouri, will be honored with a place in the Hall of Famous Missourians, a circle of busts in the Capitol rotunda recognizing prominent Missouri citizens.
The statues are paid for with private funds raised by the speaker.
The unveiling is not expected until closer to the end of the legislative session in May, but, last month, a Kansas City artist published an announcement on his website indicating he was working on sculptures of Limbaugh and Dred Scott, whose landmark slavery case was heard at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis.
Rush Limbaugh and Dred Scott. Talk about a bizarre Class of 2012.
The timing, of course, couldn't be worse for state house speaker Tilley. Limbaugh ignited a national controversy when he branded Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying in support of the Obama administration's mandate (which includes a religious exemption) that health insurers and employers cover birth control. Twenty of Limbaugh's advertisers (and counting) have ditched his hugely popular radio show. Limbaugh mustered several weak apologies in recent days, but they've done little to quell the furor over his comments while doing much to show Limbaugh's ignorance of the basic facts of how birth control works.
Perhaps Limbaugh should have heeded the sly wisdom of Twain, a fellow Hall of Famous Missourians inductee, who once said, "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." In the case of Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh failed to do even that much.
During his first US Senate campaign, Rick Santorum warned voters of a growing menace that was "breeding more criminals" and threatened to destroy America from within: single mothers.
"Most people agree a continuation of the current [welfare] system will be the ruination of this country," Santorum told a town meeting in Clairton, Pa., in February 1994, according to transcripts of the appearance obtained by Mother Jones. "We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms."
Santorum, who often trumpets his role in pushing through landmark welfare reform during stump speeches and debates, made the federal program a centerpiece of his 1994 race against incumbent Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Penn.). At his Clairton town hall, Santorum came prepared with a prop—a poster-size chart tracking the increase in the welfare rolls since 1965, alongside the increase in children who were born out of wedlock.
"Open up the current periodicals—study after study, article after article, children having children is destroying the fabric of our country," Santorum said. "If you want to close your eyes to it, if you don't care about it, if you don't want to solve it, if you want to continue the system, to let people stay and spiral—go ahead. Not with me." Single mothers, Santorum argued, needed politicians who weren't afraid of "kicking them in the butt."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ignited massive protests when, last February, he sprung a surprise attack on the public-sector unions in his state. Later, Walker claimed his anti-union "budget-repair bill" was no surprise at all, and that he'd campaigned on those controversial reforms, including eliminating collective bargaining rights for most public-sector workers. PolitiFact Wisconsin rated that claim "false."
Now, a new video unearthed by a liberal Wisconsin blogger shows Walker, then a gubernatorial candidate, saying he would negotiate with state employee unions over changes to their pension benefits. In an interview a week before the November 2010 election with the editorial board of the Oshkosh Northwestern, Walker was asked if he'd use collective bargaining to get unions to potentially pay more into their pension plans. "Yep," Walker said in response, nodding. Referring to changing pension benefits, he added, "You still have to negotiate it. I did that at the county as well."
2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum's pitch to Republican voters is simple: He is the "true" and "consistent" conservative in the GOP's presidential nomination fight. He describes himself as "a candidate who, throughout [his] career, has not only checked the box on conservative issues but has fought for conservative issues." And he slams front-runner Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on abortion and the Wall Street bailouts and, most of all, for passing government-mandated health care reform in Massachusetts. If elected president, Santorum vows, he will end the "tyranny" of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Yet as an up-and-coming congressman in the early 1990s, Santorum took a much different line. Then—like now—health care was one of the nation's most divisive issues. In 1993, Republicans were up in arms about a health care reform bill spearheaded by Hillary Clinton and pushed by President Bill Clinton. Republicans decried the measure as excessive government intervention in the marketplace, and Santorum opposed the legislation. But his position was not so clear-cut.
During that fiery debate, Santorum said it would be a mistake to allow the delivery of health care services to be determined only by the market. He asserted that Republicans were "wrong" to let the marketplace decide how health care works. He instead argued that government should play a "proactive" role in shaping the health care marketplace "to make it work better." (Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley did not respond to requests for comment.)
Update, 3/26/2014: Jonathan Schell, the author of a dozen books, a former staff writer for the New Yorker, and one of the country's most prescient writers on the nuclear question, died on Tuesday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 70.
When Jonathan Schell's The Unconquerable World, a meditation on the history and power of nonviolent action, was published in 2003, the timing could not have been worse. Americans were at war—and success was in the air. US troops had invaded Iraq and taken Baghdad ("mission accomplished") only months earlier, and had already spent more than a year fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Schell's book earned a handful of glowing reviews, and then vanished from the public debate as the bombs scorched Iraq and the body count began to mount.
Now, The Unconquerable World's animating message—that, in the age of nuclear weaponry, nonviolent action is the mightiest of forces, one capable of toppling even the greatest of empires—has undergone a renaissance of sorts. In December 2010, the self-immolation of a young Tunisian street vendor triggered a wave of popular and, in many cases, nonviolent uprisings across the Middle East, felling such autocrats as Tunisia's Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in mere weeks. Occupations, marches, and protests of all sorts spread like brushfire across Europe, from England to Spain to Greece, and later Moscow, and even as far as Madison, Wisconsin. And then, of course, there were the artists, students, and activists who, last September, heard the call to "occupy Wall Street" and ignited a national movement with little more than tents, signs, and voices on a strip of stone and earth in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
You might say that Schell, a former New Yorker staff writer renowned for his work on nuclear weapons and disarmament (his 1981 book The Fate of the Earthwas a best-seller and instant classic),prophesied Occupy and the Arab Spring—without even knowing it. He admits to being as surprised as anyone about the wave of nonviolent action that swept the world in 2011, but those who had read Unconquerable World would have found themselves uncannily well prepared for the birth of a planet of protest whenever it happened.