John Wright

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After Obama Wins, Republicans Need Reality Check For Believing Biased Polling

By: John Wright Wednesday November 7, 2012 12:25 am

The victory of President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney should prompt some intense soul searching by Republicans. What the Republicans need most of all is a reality check. The pundits will all say the right wing should reconsider its hostility toward women, minorities, unions, and lower-income people. That’s all true, but it sidesteps the larger issue: the party’s complete divorce from reality.

A typical day for Fox pollsters.

Nowhere was the disconnect from reality more tangible than the disconnect over public opinion polling. In the final days before the election, the battle over polling data nearly eclipsed the presidential race itself. One set of polls showed Obama winning the election, while other polls showed his challenger ahead. Even veteran political pros were confused by the data.

Obama maintained a slight lead in nearly all the polls until the first debate on October 3. As long as Obama was conclusively ahead, Fox News insisted that the polling was skewed. Once Romney pulled in front by a narrow range, Fox began to give credence to polling data. After that initial bump faded, the different surveys began to splinter. At one point, Rasmussen and Gallup showed Romney leading the president by up to 5 percentage points. From then on, Fox News showed only the polls that favored Romney.

All the Foxiest commentators – Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, Charles Krauthamer, Dick Morris and the vile Ann Coulter among them – declared that Romney would carry the lion’s share of swing states. Most of their projections showed Romney wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, all of which landed in the Obama column early on election night, as well as all the swing states of Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. They all pointed to the polls showing what they wanted to see as if contrary polls did not exist. Is there something in the Kool-Aid that makes everybody delusional at Fox News?

Viewers of real news outlets, such as PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or MSNBC, saw a totally different picture. They chewed on the conflicting polls, the ones with Romney clearly in front, as well as other ones that gave the lead to the president. Those networks also quoted Real Clear Politics, which averages all the reputable polls, which often showed a tie. Nate Silver wrote spot-on columns which crunched polling data with amazing accuracy for the second consecutive race. For his prescience, he was mocked and attacked by the right wing.

I don’t object to incorrect prognostications. I’ve been dead wrong on many predictions. All of us have been. Most shameful is the blatant use of suspect data, especially when a more complete panorama of surveys was widely available.

If Fox was truly a news organization rather than a partisan political propaganda machine, it would have informed its viewers about all the polls.

Polling data is not the only reason we should question the Republican grasp of reality. Look at the major gaffes by Republican candidates. Senate candidate Todd Akin insisted that women can’t get pregnant from a rape. How many obstetricians would confirm that? Fellow candidate Richard Mourdock believes pregnancy resulting from rape is divinely inspired. Nobody can prove or disprove God’s will, so that one is off the table. Romney says corporations are people. OK, Mitt. Show us any common reference material that substantiates such a contention.

These notions don’t exist in a vacuum. Obama was characterized as being born in Kenya, a practitioner of Islam, a communist, a fascist and described in horrific racial terms. Those absurd assertions all got aired on Fox as if they were serious ideas.

My question is when the news about Obama’s victory finally sinks in, how are conservatives who get all their news and world view from Fox News going to react? Will they continue to believe these fairy tales and propaganda pills dressed up as news, or at least question what they are spoon-fed by Fox? I wish I could say no, but after researching the Obama haters since 2008, I highly doubt it.

John Wright is the author of The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo and Racism.

Image by Kate Hiscock under a Creative Commons license on flickr.

 

Why Do So Many Low-Income People Turn Against Their Own Kind?

By: John Wright Sunday October 21, 2012 10:32 pm
Conference on Debt Issues in Low-Income Countries

(Photo: US Mission Geneva/flickr)

I lived in Latin America for a decade, and one of my most indelible memories concerns how poor people so often side with the rich rather than their own interests.

On the way to work one day in São Paulo, I noticed a well-dressed man sitting in his shiny new Mercedes. The only problem: his car was stalled and he was holding up traffic, with horns blaring at him. He got out and beckoned pedestrians dressed in ragged clothing to push him out of the way of traffic. It didn’t take long, and several obliged. They huffed and puffed, breathing heavily, straining their backs, and pushed the Mercedes over to the side of the road. The driver probably spent more on his Mercedes than most of those peons will earn in a lifetime. What did they get in return? A quick thank you. No money. No offer of a ride. The driver did not even get his hands dirty or strain a muscle. He acted as if they were obligated to rescue him.

The big question is why they bother. What’s in it for them? I saw similar scenes repeated time and again.

My wife is Brazilian, and she can’t answer the question, except to say that the poor have been humbled into hoping that the rich guy might toss them a bone (one hint: they never do).

If a low-income person driving a beatermobile in Latin America is involved in a traffic accident with someone driving a shiny new car, eyewitnesses inevitably pop out of the woodwork to assert that the poor man did something wrong. Their fellow poor guy has nothing to offer them. In the end, it does not matter who was at fault. The rich guy is never held responsible for anything.

Most Americans would view this as some sort of cultural oddity, pat themselves on the back and insist that sort of mindset would not happen here.

Sorry to tell you folks: it does happen here. It’s just that nobody noticed.

Consider this: two-thirds of low-income Americans plan to vote for President Barack Obama, and one-third would vote for Mitt Romney, according to various opinion polls. That’s not a majority, but that is one-third too many. And millions of impoverished people never even bother to vote, thinking nothing will improve their lot. How would this group fare under a Romney administration? Listen to the tape in which Romney showered utter contempt for the 47% of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes. And one-third of that group would willingly vote for the guy who openly mocks and disdains them! Voting for Romney is even worse than pushing the rich man’s Mercedes because it willingly and knowingly puts him behind the wheel.

The working poor get a refund every April 15 for only the federal income taxes they pay during the year. They already pay Social Security and Medicare, state income taxes, sales tax, gasoline tax and various excise taxes, none of them refunded later. In all, people at the bottom of the heap often pay a far higher portion of their income to various taxes than do those sitting on top of the world. You get the idea that Romney wants to force these people to also pay federal income tax, which would leave them even fewer pennies to scratch out the daily necessities of life.

George McGovern, American Hero And Reminder Of Our Presidential Choice This Year

By: John Wright Thursday October 18, 2012 12:15 am

George McGovern was right on all the issues that mattered most, then and now, and he should have become president. He campaigned on ending the Vietnam War right away, believed that everyone should have the basics in life, and fought for equal rights for women and racial minorities.

Instead, McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon, perhaps the most corrupt and loathsome man to ever occupy the Oval Office, 61 to 37 percent, one of the biggest landslides in history. I can’t help but think how the world might be better if Americans had instead elected McGovern, a hero in World War II who sought to end war.

Yet, in many ways, McGovern won because his beliefs prevailed. The Vietnam War finally ended three years later. Nixon enacted the basic structure of McGovern’s anti-poverty program. And fate was exceedingly kind in letting McGovern witness the election of a man of African ancestry to the office denied to him, while those who blocked the way, George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and others, died without seeing what true American equality looked like. And history, the final actuary, will remember McGovern as a principled man while the guy who got the most votes that year is justly reviled.

Some of the most decent human beings to have ever populated the halls of our Congress – Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy – admired McGovern as their moral beacon. His contemporaries, of course, are all long gone. McGovern during his 90 incredible years outlived his friends and adversaries, leaving none of his peers to mourn or eulogize him. So it’s up to the rest of us to honor this true American hero.

The first vote I ever cast for president was for McGovern in the primary. I’m ashamed to say that before the general election I wavered under the influence of the right-wing propaganda machine that McGovern somehow stood against America’s best interests. In the end, I cast my vote for McGovern. Some might call it an act of futility since he was swept 49 states to one by Nixon. Nonetheless, I am proud of that vote.

When the Watergate scandal broke loose, many liberals like myself pasted bumper stickers on their cars saying, “DON’T BLAME ME. I VOTED FOR MCGOVERN.” Twenty-nine million Americans could proudly declare that we had refused to vote for the man who shamed his office and our great nation, that we instead had supported an honorable man never touched by scandal.

In the intervening years, I learned to recognize and despise the right-wing propaganda machine that echoed through my head and made me doubt my support for McGovern. Later, I saw the same smears and accusations of lack of patriotism lobbed against Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton. Then I saw a return to Nixon’s mendacity when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took our country to war based on cleverly assembled lies. After that, I felt ashamed of millions of my fellow Americans who made unfounded attacks against Barack Obama. I wrote a book, The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism, to expose their methods, but even the truth won’t change the minds of those who tragically are willing to be manipulated by extremists.

On the verge of the 2012 election, the same forces are at play now as 40 years ago when I voted for the first time. By taking the oath of office, Obama has fulfilled many of McGovern’s dreams. As president, Obama has carried out programs that befit McGovern, such as access to health care and student loans for the poor, ending misguided overseas wars, and treating all Americans with respect and dignity. Obama was a child when McGovern sought the presidency. His opponent, Mitt Romney, was old enough to vote in 1972, but he supported Nixon. Romney protested against the anti-Vietnam War demonstrators, but he did not have the courage of his convictions – like John McCain, John Kerry, and Al Gore – to wear his country’s uniform in Vietnam. Romney thought Bush’s war in Iraq was just dandy, but did not send any of his five sons to combat.

Obama, like McGovern before him, devotes his efforts toward an America with opportunity for all Americans. Romney’s life, by contrast, is a running narrative of others doing all the work and making all the sacrifices with Romney getting all the money. Romney’s taped confession showing disdain for 47 percent of Americans is a throwback to the Nixon tapes which demonstrated similar contempt for everyone who disagreed with him.

Obama, like McGovern, wants an America with opportunity for all Americans. By contrast, Romney’s taped confession about disdain for 47 percent of Americans is a throwback to the Nixon tapes which showed similar contempt for everyone who disagreed with him.

Have we learned anything in the 40 years since the Nixon-McGovern race? Which of those two legacies will we honor on November 6, 2012?

A Tea Party Congressman Representing Seattle? It’s Possible After Liberal Attack Ad Against Fellow Democrat

By: John Wright Friday July 6, 2012 11:09 pm

A liberal political group just made it a whole lot easier for a right-wing teabag nut to snatch away a congressional seat from under our eyes in liberal Seattle. The seat has been held by a liberal Democrat since 1999, but with redistricting it is considered a swing district now.

An attack mailing provides ammunition for the Republicans in the general election this November. Hey guys, did you forget that Congress is up for grabs? Democrats will never take back Congress if liberals attack each other this way.

Five Democrats are vying for the seat against a far-right Republican and an independent. The winner will replace Jay Inslee, who resigned in March to focus on a tough race for Washington governor.

–Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, has the endorsement of outgoing Gov. Christine Gregoire; DelBene previously ran for Congress unsuccessfully in a different district before redistricting.

–Darcy Burner, who leads the Democrats in the polls, also lost a previous race for Congress before redistricting. She headed a progressive organization.

–Laura Ruderman served in the Washington state legislature and lost a race for state attorney general.

–Steve Hobbs, a state legislator, touts his experience as being able to work well with Republicans. This won him the endorsement of the Seattle Times, which also endorsed Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna this year and George W. Bush in the past.

An immigrant businessman with no political experience is given little chance of prevailing.

Whoever wins the Aug. 7 primary will face Republican John Koster, who lost a previous election for Congress before redistricting. Koster, a religious right robot, has predictable positions on family planning, marriage equality, health care, energy, gun rights, and taxation. He aligns perfectly with people in Utah or Mississippi, not lefty Seattle.

A mailing from the shadowy Progress for Washington told voters “Nearly every business Suzan DelBene ran eventually failed.” The mailer made DelBene look as if she ran Bain Capital with Mitt Romney. If DelBene wins the nomination, you can bet Koster and his deep-pocket backers will use this attack mailing to their benefit.

Local news reports describe Progress for Washington as being headed by Jeremy Pemble, a contributor to Ruderman’s campaign. Ruderman told me, “I don’t know anything about this. I have been very clear in the press that whichever Democrat comes out of the primary can’t be bloodied and broken.”

Now it’s up to Washington state Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz to do some serious ass kicking.  He and top elected Democrats in Washington need to get tough with Pemble and anyone else with lame-brained notions that will hurt Democrats this fall. President Obama is sure to take the state’s 12 electoral votes, but some state-wide races and congressional seats could flip to the Republicans. Guys like Pemble should not be helping the other side.

It’s already a tough race, and this attack makes it even tougher. The newly redrawn First Congressional District has been described as the most evenly drawn district in the state and possibly, even in the nation. After Washington was awarded a new 10th seat in the House of Representatives starting this election, a bi-partisan commission sliced and diced the existing nine districts to form the new one.

The First District now comprises suburbs to the north, east and west of Seattle and has been represented by Democrats and moderate Republicans for decades. Redistricting, however, drastically changed the geographical configuration starting in this year’s election. The First still includes some suburbs of liberal Seattle, but also reaches all the way to the Canadian border to include Bellingham and rural, conservative inland areas.

Polls show Koster with the support of 46 percent of voters in the district going into the primary, far more than any of the Democrats. If Koster looks to be within reach after the primary, outside groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove will surely pour money into the district to swing the fall election.

A filing with the Federal Election Commission said that Progress for Washington spent $21,328 on the DelBene attack mailing. They sure fooled me. When I first saw it, I thought it was funded by a right-wing Political Action Committee, because they are the clear beneficiaries.

John Wright is the author of “The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism” and co-author of “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.”

It’s Alright Ma (We’re Only Bleeding) In Wisconsin

By: John Wright Tuesday June 5, 2012 11:05 pm

“When money doesn’t talk, it swears” – Bob Dylan

What have we learned from the failed attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin?

Money swears? In Wisconsin, it lobbed more F bombs than Rod Blagojevich, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce combined.

This is what America looks like now. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling opened the floodgates, unleashing right-wing sewage in the guise of millions of dollars spent on lies. Wisconsin was their test case. If they could buy Scott Walker a full term, they can buy whatever they want, including the White House and Congress.

Other Republican governors will lick their lips, seeing that they can do the same thing, lie about it and triple their donations. The only thing is that they have to deliver to their bosses. That is, the right wing donors and corporations, not the people they represent.

Bob Dylan had it right in 1965 when he wrote
“While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony”
in his song “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”

We’re all bleeding. American democracy was just tossed on its death bed is now is dying of exsanguination. We are no longer a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.” America is now clearly devoted only to the wealthy and corporations.

Our Founding Fathers did not believe corporations are people and did not give them the same rights. The founders of American democracy did not equate money to free speech. Those are fictions invented by right-wing majorities on the Supreme Court.

For years, many Democrats and Republicans agreed that democracy was healthier when the influence purchased by big bucks was held in check. Republican John McCain and Democrat Russ Feingold sponsored the eponymous 2002 bill that limited the political influence of money. McCain, to his credit, learned from his mistakes. He was one of the notorious “Keating Five,” a group of senators who intervened with federal regulators to help prop up Charles Keating’s financial institutions. The collapse of Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan cost taxpayers $5 billion. Feingold, ironically, lost his Senate seat to a big-spending right winger.

Obama Can Solve Crisis Of Confidence By Appointing A Czar To Root Out Waste, Fraud and Abuse

By: John Wright Sunday April 22, 2012 8:10 pm

A confluence of crises gives President Barack Obama a golden opportunity to shake up the government as promised during his first presidential campaign at the same time he neutralizes conservative carping about scandals which could have happened no matter who was president.

All Americans were shocked when the world’s most elite and awe-inspiring law-enforcement corps, the Secret Service, became entangled in a sex scandal that could have compromised national security. With perfect timing, the General Services Administration, which is obliged to root out waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money found itself guilty of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money. It’s no surprise that anger over these scandals leached across party lines and dismayed people of all political leanings.

Predictably, Sarah Palin jerked her knee by squealing “the buck stops with the president” and labeling these events “a symptom of government run amok.” So far, President Obama’s response has been tepid and falls far short of what the public wants and needs. Both events are tailor made for the right-wing echo chamber of bashing anything run or funded by the government wedded to a pathology to bring down Obama no matter what. It matters not that the same thing occurs in the private sector. To wit, the GSA is basically the auditor of government activities; one of the most respected private auditors was Arthur Andersen, which went out of business for collusion uncovered in the Enron scandal. Does anyone think the Secret Service would be better run if it were privatized? Think again. Blackwater did such a lousy job of monitoring its own rogue agents in Iraq and Afghanistan that it had to change its name. Stupidity and corruption exist in both private and public life.

Because the private sector does not police itself, government entities naturally perform that task. As well, a free press and independent public watchdog groups must investigate and disclose wrongdoing no matter where it exists. But that has nothing to do with public perception. Put together, these two scandals weaken the president’s argument about the government’s proper role against the Republican onslaught that a government which can’t even guarantee professionalism in the Secret Service can’t run health care better than private insurance companies. Right now, conservatives are ahead as the facts become trumped by public perception. And it gives them a winning argument in the election.

President Obama has a one-time chance and a short window of opportunity to come out the winner in both the factual and public perception arguments. As the owner of the bully pulpit, he can appoint a czar with the exclusive task of weeding out waste, fraud and abuse. The best candidate for the job would be a federal prosecutor or state attorney general with a proven track record as a zealous advocate for the people, someone unafraid to confront cronyism or sacred cows. Someone who would do within the government what Richard Cordray seeks to do in the Consumer Protection Agency. Preferably, a no-nonsense Republican could be the most effective agent of change. Please, Mr. President, no toothless blue-ribbon panel to fix this problem. What’s needed is someone with broad authority, unlike the inspectors general who are confined to particular government departments.

If the appointee is a presidential adviser rather than head of a government agency, he or she would not require Senate approval. The czar would answer only to the president or a designated high-level official.

This official could show in numerous ways that he or she is not just window dressing. First, this office would encourage whistle blowers and grant them immunity. Second, this office would have the best press operation in Washington D.C. Instead of news organizations or the political opposition breaking scandals about waste, fraud and abuse within the government, this czar could make lots of noise. Third, the office would not have its own bureaucracy. And finally, this official could lobby prominent conservatives for ideas about which government operations need investigating. Obama’s critics would have to put up or shut up. The political impact of their criticism would evaporate. I was a fierce, tireless critic of George W. Bush, but I would have cheered if he had created such a position with authority and a mandate.

By doing so, Obama could please his 2008 voters who have not seen enough “change we can believe in” at the same time he blunts the conservative meme that government is inherently lazy and stupid. To make sure this office is not a gimmick, Obama simply needs to appoint a take-charge sort of hard-driving, apolitical public servant who gives the American people what they deserve: true accountability in the government they pay for.

Hannity, Obama Haters Protecting George Zimmerman From Murder Conviction

By: John Wright Thursday April 12, 2012 12:11 am

George Zimmerman is the only living person in the world who knows all the circumstances surrounding his killing of Trayvon Martin. The only other person who knew, Trayvon, is dead.

The rest of us string together bits and pieces about the case and draw conclusions based largely on our world view. One side sees Zimmerman as a murderer acting on racial motivations. The other side believes Zimmerman was properly defending himself against an assault by Trayvon.

Only one thing is certain: Zimmerman will not be convicted by a jury of his peers on the charge of second-degree murder.

The cleverest defense lawyers in the world – Clarence Darrow, William Kunstler, and Johnnie Cochran – are all deceased. But it won’t take the best and the brightest to get Zimmerman acquitted. Even an asleep-at-the-wheel, incompetent public defender could achieve that. It just takes one juror unwilling to convict, even if 11 vote guilty based on the evidence.

The irrefutable facts are few: Trayvon was walking back to his father’s home in a gated community at 7:30 p.m., carrying candy and a soft drink. Trayvon was unarmed; Zimmerman had a gun. He called 911, saying Trayvon looked suspicious. He described Trayvon’s appearance as black. The emergency dispatcher instructed Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon, but Zimmerman pursued anyway. Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend on a cellphone. The girlfriend said Trayvon told her a man was following him; she heard screams she believed to be Trayvon’s voice. A struggle ensued. An unidentified eyewitness saw a scuffle but was unable to identify the aggressor. Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon. He was questioned by police the same night but was not charged.

Even before prosecutors charged George Zimmerman, his father, Robert, already poured strychnine in the potential jury pool by accusing President Barack Obama and civil rights organizations of spewing hatred: “I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP,” the elder Zimmerman told a local Fox affiliate in Florida.

What were Obama’s hateful remarks? “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” What’s hateful about that?

Obama offered personal and national condolences to Trayvon’s family at the same time Fox was finding ways to assassinate Trayvon’s memory. The president urged law enforcement to investigate the killing but did not draw any conclusions or say anything to further inflame the already overheated rhetoric. While others debate racial anxieties, the wisdom of “stand your ground laws” and gun control, Obama properly became the mourner in chief, the same way he did after the Tucson tragedy last year, the way Reagan did after the Challenger disaster, the way Clinton did after the Oklahoma City bombing, and Bush did after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Robert Zimmerman, a retired judge, knows what sways juries. He used that knowledge to plant the Obama-hating seed in every potential juror. Fox did not ask him tough questions because Zimmerman cleverly played straight into Fox’s anti-Obama crusade. You only need one out of 12 jurors to thwart a conviction.

In excusing jurors, prosecutors will try to weed out overt racists and others deemed hostile to their case. But they won’t be able to thin every Obama hater from the herd.

Fox host Sean Hannity has inserted himself – and the Fox propaganda machine – into the story. The same day prosecutors charged George Zimmerman, Hannity’s show was riddled with comments to make viewers doubt the shooter’s guilt. Hannity presented as fact Zimmerman’s assertions (though family members) that Trayvon broke Zimmerman’s nose and smashed his head and that Trayvon had confronted Zimmerman as he was backing off from a possible confrontation with the youth.

Hannity’s guest Michelle Malkin said the Obama administration was exploiting the shooting for political gains and that Attorney General Eric Holder has “perverted the rule of law.” These remarks serve double duty in the propaganda war, sowing seeds of doubt about Zimmerman’s guilt in the minds of potential jurors at the same time making Obama look bad. Another Hannity guest (a tea party “leader”) said Obama’s strategy is “getting people to hate each other.”

Is it any surprise that Robert Zimmerman appeared on Fox to smear Obama or that George Zimmerman himself called only Hannity to talk? Hannity refuses to disclose the contents of their conversation.

On the same day Zimmerman was charged, Hannity asked his viewers whether Zimmerman should have been charged with second-degree murder: 22% said yes, 68% said no, and 11% were undecided. Hannity’s right-wing audience is obviously way out of step with most Americans. A recent Gallup poll found 36% believe Zimmerman is guilty of a crime, 7% believe he is not guilty and 52% are undecided. Among blacks, 72% think Zimmerman is guilty, while 33% of whites believe he is guilty.

How many members of the potential jury pool have heard Robert Zimmerman? How many have watched Hannity’s coverage? That is significant because fewer than one-quarter of Hannity’s viewers would be willing to consider convicting Zimmerman, and it’s hard to keep all of them out of the jury pool.

John Wright is the author of “The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism” and co-author of “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.”

Palin Inc. Reinvents Herself As Victim Of Limbaugh Smear Against Georgetown Student

By: John Wright Wednesday March 7, 2012 6:27 pm

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says corporations are people, he’s got it right. At least insofar as referring to Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor has reinvented herself as Palin Inc., in which her main product is victimhood wrapped inside juicy bits of reverse logic and lies. So when radio bigmouth Rush Limbaugh attacked Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute,” Palin saw herself, not Fluke, as the victim. Welcome to the bizarre alternate reality created by Palin Inc.

“I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights and never is that the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless,” Palin told CNN from Wasilla, Alaska.

If the one-time vice-presidential candidate ever spoke the true facts in a coherent manner, Palin Inc. would go bankrupt.

Limbaugh apologized with his fingers crossed behind his back. Instead of fessing up to his own lack of character and judgment in attacking a private citizen, he instead blamed liberals.

“This is the mistake I made: in fighting them (liberals) on this issue last week, I became like them, against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them, and I feel very badly about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program,” Limbaugh said. “You never descend to the level of your opponent, or they win.”

The issue was whether health insurance policies should be mandated to pay for contraceptives. Fluke was invited by Congress to testify in favor of requiring contraception coverage. Limbaugh disagrees, which is his right. Reasonable people can differ. So does Limbaugh believe he could not rebut Fluke without saying that women who use contraception should submit tapes of their sexual activities for his perverse jollies?

Palin whines about “leftist radicals … who say such horrible things about … women” yet refuses to condemn Rush and defend Fluke? If she is truly outraged by any attacks against the disabled, how can she ignore Limbaugh’s vicious taunts of actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from debilitating Parkinson’s Disease?

Anyone who believes Limbaugh has a “high degree of integrity” should listen to recordings of his radio show to judge for themselves. Media Matters devotes 139 on-line pages to Limbaugh, who has made a cottage industry of degrading remarks about women, blacks and other racial minorities, and the disabled over the years: http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/rush_limbaugh

As for Palin, comedian David Letterman famously made an off-color quip about her daughter who became pregnant out of wedlock. For that, the late-night host apologized profusely, accepted sole responsibility and did not deflect blame to others in Limbaugh-ese.

The other prominent tasteless attack on Palin came from the liberal Daily Kos Web site, when it reported that 17-year-old daughter Bristol had given birth to Palin’s son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome. Bloggers also questioned how then-Gov. Palin, who has a special needs child of her own, could be so stingy with state aid for the disabled.

Daily Kos quickly retracted its story when realizing it was a hoax. Candidate Barack Obama unequivocally blasted Daily Kos, saying, “Let me be as clear as possible. I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits.” Palin, of course, never repaid the favor when Obama’s family endured numerous racist taunts. When Obama rushed to defend Palin’s family, he did not preface his remarks with anything related to unfounded taunts against himself or his own family. He simply and eloquently stood up for right and rejected what is wrong.

Yet we are at a point that no leading Republican has the integrity to stand up to Rush over this or any of his other frequent vicious attacks: not Palin, not House Speaker John Boehner, not Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and not leading GOP presidential contenders Romney, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. What’s wrong with all of them? Where is the conservative “leadership?”

It’s doubtful that Palin Inc. will ever offer the same defense of Obama against slurs because that would mean emerging from Sarah’s fantasy universe to inhabit the real world, where she feels alien. It’s much easier to wrap yourself in a cocoon of conflicting hallucinations while smearing Obama non-stop.

Because some people need this fantasy conception of the world, we must commend Sarah as a brilliant entrepreneur and architect of Palin Inc. She has become wealthy by concocting and feeding delusions. After all, millions of people believe President Obama was born in Kenya, the moon landing was faked, and that Elvis still lives.

John Wright is the author of “The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism” and co-author of “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.”