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Robert Houk

Opinion Page Editor
rhouk@johnsoncitypress.com
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As I See It

Mighty Mouth is a chicken; reflections on recent events

May 21st, 2012 8:53 am by Robert Houk

This week I devote my column to a rant and a few reflections.
First the rant. Because we are low on letters to the editor, I thought I would say a few crass things about Rush Limbaugh. Usually, I ignore Mighty Mouth, but I know criticizing him will generate letters from some of his misguided fans.
Of course, Rush doesn’t like to hear from his critics. In fact, he’s so scared of being challenged on his illogical ravings that he hides from all who might disagree with him.
That was evident last week when Mighty Mouth was honored by Republicans at the Missouri Statehouse. Limbaugh was inducted into the Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians in a closed-door ceremony that included only invited GOP dignitaries.
As one blogger described the event: “All but one of the doors to the House chamber were locked with armed Highway Patrol and Capitol Police patrolling the hallways outside the chamber.”
I know Rush is thin skinned, but is he that much of a fraidy cat too? It’s interesting to see a man who is such a bully behind the microphone (calling young women sluts and all) turn into a shrinking violet at an event that any taxpayer of Missouri should have been allowed to attend.
It remains to be seen where a bronze bust of Hall of Famer Limbaugh will be displayed. Republicans say it should be at the state Capitol Building. Democrats say it would be a travesty for Mighty Mouth’s bust to join the company of Mark Twain and Harry Truman. I think it would be appropriate for Rush’s likeness to grace a wastewater treatment plant in St. Louis.

And now a few reflections:
A loyal reader forwarded an email to me recently that claimed President Barack Obama is behind an elaborate plan to steal this year’s presidential election. This plot — which the reader later informed me had been debunked on Snopes.com — also involves billionaire investor and Democratic contributor George Soros. The email incorrectly claims Obama has outsourced the counting of votes for the federal election to a company owned by Soros.
It’s a ridiculous allegation on its face since a president can’t outsource vote counting. That’s because the conduct of elections, including the tallying of votes, is the sole responsibility of states.
This fake conspiracy, however, does sound like something Democrats were complaining about a few years back. Remember all the concern over Diebold voting machines? There were allegations that the CEO of Diebold was a large campaign contributor to President George W. Bush and had used his company to help steal the 2004 election for the Republican.
While no hard evidence of such voting fraud was ever produced, a study was released in 2006 by researchers at Princeton University who found the Diebold machines could indeed be tampered with in such a way as to rig an election.
n There is no doubt that Washington County Commissioner Mark Ferguson knows how to pick a fight. There is some question, however, if he knows when to pick a fight. He certainly has shown poor judgement in choosing with whom to pick a fight.
Last week, he went off on a reporter from the Jonesborough Herald & Tribune at a committee meeting that was supposed to be about something entirely different and much more important. Ferguson accused the newspaper of shilling for County Mayor Dan Eldridge, who is also someone Ferguson has repeatedly picked fights with.
I would call Ferguson’s attention to something former Johnson City Commissioner P.C. Snapp used to say to his colleagues: “It’s not wise to pick a fight with folks who buy their ink by the barrels.”
Good advice.
I also think taxpayers would appreciate it if Ferguson would stick to the important business of the county and not use his committee as a platform to vent his frustrations with the local paper. That’s not what Ferguson and the other members of the County Commission are being paid to do.
Obama’s change of heart on gay marriage is being hailed as a historic moment by some and derided as the final sign of the Apocalypse by others.
In truth, Obama has finally come down on the right side of history. Future generations of Americans are going to wonder what all the fuss was about and probably criticize their grandparents for being such dunderheads on the issue.
This reality continues to elude some conservatives and the religious-minded (and they are found in both the Democratic and Republican parties) who still think it’s OK for government to tell consenting adults who they can or can’t marry.
North Carolina voters (or should I say those who cast votes in the Republican Primary) passed a state constitutional amendment two weeks ago to prohibit gay marriages and civil unions.
As was the case in Tennessee a few years back, Republican leaders in the General Assembly pushed to have the measure placed on a ballot even though state law already forbids gay marriage. Truthfully, this ballot initiative was nothing more than a ruse to gin up the Republican base.
Of course, there are enlightened Republicans who don’t want to see their party linked to prejudice, bigotry and homophobia. They want to be on the right side of history, just as many of their grandparents were during the Civil Rights era.

Robert Houk is Opinion page editor for the Johnson City Press. He can be reached at rhouk@johnsoncitypress.com.

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