For its 12/2/1996 issue, THE RUSH WATCH WEEKLY newsletter recommended 13 books for "combating the addiction known as dittoheaditis." First on the list was THE GREAT LIMBAUGH CON.
1) THE GREAT LIMBAUGH CON, by Charles M. Kelly. Exposes the core con of Limbaugh, that is, "a scam against workers..." While he pretends to be on their side, he hawks an agenda that benefits the rich and powerful. This is the most essential book on this list for breaking the hypnotic spell that envelops Dittoland.)
The following review appeared in The American Library Association's COUNTERPOISE, July, 1997, Vol. 1, #3, p. 265.
Kelly, Charles M., the Great Limbaugh con and other right-wing assaults on common sense. Santa Barbara, CA: Fithian Press, 1994, 216p. ISBN I-56474-102-8 paper $14.95.
This book is not about Rush Limbaugh as much as it is the Limbaugh philosophy. Limbaugh serves as a convenient conduit for the more elite belief systems of Forbes Magazine, the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and right-wing (that is to say mainstream) economic think tanks, to the working-class masses... Rush Limbaugh hails from a wealthy political family and was raised on the self-justifying, greed-enforcing values of our American plutocracy, or what author Charles Kelly calls the "educated nonworking" class.
This class received an enormous boost during the 1980s. Reaganomics laid the groundwork for unfair tax "reforms," trade agreements, anti-unionism, hypocritically named "right-to-work" laws, downsizing and deregulation. This book does a remarkably good job at showing how such policies have directly led to a lower standard of living for the average worker and to social problems such as crime, domestic violence, divorce, drug abuse, inadequate schools, and environmental degradation. Kelly examines at length the "success story" of Spartanburg, South Carolina, a mecca for greedy business prospectors, and the short-sighted, paranoid, ostentatiously living, gated-community-types who made a killing there in the eighties.
Despite its superficial facelift, however, conditions actually deteriorated in social and economic terms for the displaced, insecure, stressed-out workers who were desperately competing for jobs...
The "Limbaugh philosophy" is actually anti-capitalist and anti-democratic, argues Kelly, a professor and lecturer (tsk-tsk) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and various Fortune 500 companies...
If there were a way to force people to read this book, I would. Instead, I'll have to content myself with a heartfelt recommendation for all libraries and people who care (and even, especially, those who don't) about our jobs, our future, and the planet.-Carol Reid
Since THE GREAT LIMBAUGH CON is highly critical of both the city of Spartanburg, SC and its newspaper, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the following review is especially significant and is presented in its entirety. The review was written by a business reporter who substantiated the book's criticisms of the city and even updated many of its statistics.
Book Questions Divisions
Between Heights, Projects
by Betsy Teter
If Spartanburg is such a boom town, why are its social ills getting worse?
That's a question posed in "The Great Limbaugh Con," a new political science book by Charles Kelly, a management consultant from the Charlotte area.
The book, published by a California company, not only challenges Limbaugh and his rhetoric, but the premise that a pro-business environment-- --such as Spartanburg's-- --can spread a decent quality of life to all.
Make no mistake about it, Kelly's book comes from the left wing. He bashes conservatives just as vigorously as Limbaugh bashes liberals.
The author spends 40 pages exploring the phenomenon of Spartanburg, a community he calls "one of conservative America's premier economic success stories." He chooses Spartanburg because he believes it is a model for what is happening to many cities.
The rich are getting richer here, he says, and the poor poorer-- --despite an almost unsurpassed economic development record.
o o o o o
Think about. In Spartanburg County, we consistently have more rapes, more hospital admissions, more break-ins, more divorces, more heart disease deaths, more assaults, more school dropouts, more cancer deaths and more teen pregnancies than the rest of the Upstate.
In each category, we even top the state average. And in most cases, our record is getting worse, not better, according to the Spartanburg County Foundation's "Critical Indicators" report.
After 30 years of bountiful harvest, one in five city residents lives in public housing, with a waiting list at 2,000 applications and climbing.
In 1994, the same year that industries invested $500 million here, the number of juveniles committing violent and serious crimes in Spartanburg County increased 49 percent-- --five times the rate of increase in the state as a whole.
Kelly poses a good question: If things are so good here, why are things so bad?
Many of us would point to misguided national policies undermining the work ethic. That certainly is a major cause of our problems. It does not, however, explain our performance relative to the rest of the state.
o o o o o
The author has a couple of theories, both of which will cause hair to stand on end at the local chamber of commerce and other industry organizations.
The first reason: Spartanburg's affluent citizens and industrial leaders have been poor stewards and are unwilling to finance necessary public services. He points to downtown Spartanburg as an example of how poorly we have taken care of our city.
The second: Industry leaders have colluded through a manufacturers' organization called the Spartanburg Development Association to keep wages unnaturally low. He presents statistics that show the gap between average wages in Spartanburg and those at the state and national level actually widened during the 1980s.
If nothing else, Kelly has hit on one truism about Spartanburg. He says the community "is complex enough to warrant several Ph.D. dissertations in economics and social sciences."
Anyone who has lived here and watched the strange way things work-- --and don't work-- --would agree with that.
Spartanburg Herald-Journal, January 29, 1995, p. B8.
Checking the Figures
Limbaugh's philosophy just doesn't add up
By Jeff Rodriguez
...Among the sacred cows of conservatism, Kelly has taken on the biggest of them all, and the result is a liberal helping of hamburger patties for everyone.
Kelly's contention is that conservative economic policies benefit only the very wealthy at the expense of the middle and lower classes. To prove his point, he has accumulated a hefty mound of statistics. He shows, for instance, how lowering the top income tax bracket historically has resulted in a recession. Kelly also demonstrates how the only thing that really "trickled down" to most middle and lower-class families during the '80s was less real income.
But statistics tell only part of the story, so Kelly also has several different authorities on hand to back him up. The kicker is, they're conservatives.
Quoting leading businessmen, analysts and politicians, Kelly reveals-- --or rather, lets them reveal-- --how right wing policies are not only generally unfair, but also greedy and immoral. His favorite source is Kevin Phillips, who served as chief political analyst for President Nixon. During the '80s, says Phillips, "the rich got richer, but at the cost of a squandering of the nation's future."
Most of this fun occurs in the second half of the book, where Kelly rolls out his sources like a ground crew rolling out a tarp for a rain delay. It's an impressive job, particularly when Kelly turns to Spartanburg, S.C. The city was hailed as a model for successful conservative policies, but Kelly shows how the only "good times" the working class enjoyed were in the form of syndicated reruns....
Ethics in business is a big issue for Kelly, who has written a book and also given many seminars on the topic. Although he tries to maintain a tone of cool logic, an unmistakable sense of exasperation sometimes creeps out. You can almost hear him ven ting his anger: "If you don't believe me, he says, "try this guy. And if you don't believe him"...and out comes another layer of tarp.
"Just listen for two weeks," Limbaugh routinely asks his audience. It's a reasonable proposition, so here's one in exchange: Just read two chapters. It'll only take a few minutes, and Kelly has written a challenging take on the World According to Rush. The Great Limbaugh Con isn't perfect, but neither is conservatism.
From the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, April 9, 1995, p. A17.
Book rushes to point out right wrongs
By Richard Creed
Here is a book that defies the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover."
The title that almost fills the front cover leaves no doubt about what the reader will find inside: The Great Limbaugh Con and Other Right wing Assaults on Common Sense.
The author, Charles M. Kelly, begins his book with what borders on confession and apology: Some of his best friends and most of his favorite relatives are conservatives, almost all of them are educated, and several are wealthy. "So this was not an easy book to write."
With those niceties out of the way, Kelly wastes no time in warming to his subject and letting the reader know what the rest of the book holds in store:
"It's a book about how conservatives, the wealthy, and the educated have created many of the economic and social problems of the United States. This is not to say that liberals, the poor, and uneducated haven't created problems. It's just that Rush Limbaugh has done a fantastic job of distorting the reality of what's happening in our society and his arguments cry out for rebuttal."
Kelly has hear the cry and pours out about 200 pages of lively, readable rebuttal in this paperback book published last fall (Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, Calif., $14.95). ...Because of the constraints of space, this column has dealt mostly with the tactics of Rush Limbaugh and like-thinkers. A future column or two will deal with some of Kelly's other views on "attack politics," distortions of reality and what is at stake.
(A second column by Mr. Creed appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal on April 16, 1995, titled "Head-On: Author rebuts taxing view from the right.")
From the January-March, 1995 "Communiqué," a publication of CITIZENS AGAINST PROPAGANDA.
THREE BOOKS WE RECOMMEND
The Great Limbaugh Con by Charles M. Kelly, paperback, ISBN 1-56474-102-8 is available now...This is perhaps the best refutation in print of the philosophy of Rush Limbaugh's broadcasts. If you read this, you'll understand why Limbaugh's entire project is actually an attack on working people. Read this and learn how to refute Limbaugh's favorite sound bites.
From the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' THE LOCAL REVIEW, July 1995, p. 3.
Book Report: "The Great Limbaugh Con," by Charles M Kelly
Reviewed by Sanford L. Tanenbaum
...Whether or not you agree with politics as taught by Rush Limbaugh, The Great Limbaugh Con and other right-wing assaults on common sense is a book that should be read by every working person in the United States. In it the author explains the cause and effect relationship between the "conservative political ideology" and the social consequences, national and international, of that ideology.
From The Cape Codder, August 4, 1995.
An Examination of Rush Limbaugh as Class Warrior
By Zel Levin
...The writer acknowledges Limbaugh's astuteness and his appeal to the prejudiced and the economically naïve, utilizing half-truths and cleverly worded propaganda. There is substance to Charles Kelly's charges, since Limbaugh himself has said, "I have no obligation to be fair, balanced, or objective."
Apparently millions of listeners agree with him and are fascinated by his demagoguery, his sophmoric sense of humor and his ridiculous name-calling...
..."The Great Limbaugh Con" is both provocative and challenging, but thoughtful as well. Whether or not readers are members of the Limbaugh fan club, it definitely merits serious study and discussion.
From PRISM, May/June, 1995, Reviews section.
The Great Limbaugh Con
...When Kelly calls Rush a "demagogue" it's not mere name-calling, but rather the careful and accurate application of a precise definition.
Although Kelly includes some of Rush's more egregious factual errors and outrageous comments, the book is most powerful when demonstrating the way Limbaugh often deliberately manipulates and distorts the truth.
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