Pinching Myself

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Bush Administration

John Tierney wrote a good column. This is rare. This is almost as rare as the President being honest. Well, not quite that rare, but close.

Like Limbaugh, Richard Paey suffers from back pain, which in his case is so severe that he’s confined to a wheelchair. Also like Limbaugh, he was accused of illegally obtaining large quantities of painkillers. Although there was no evidence that either man sold drugs illegally, the authorities in Florida zealously pursued each of them for years.

Unlike Limbaugh, Paey went to prison. Now 47 years old, he’s serving the third year of a 25-year term. His wife told me that when he heard how Limbaugh settled his case last week — by agreeing to pay $30,000 and submit to drug tests — Paey offered a simple explanation: “The wealthy and influential go to rehab, while the poor and powerless go to prison.”

He has a point, although I don’t think that’s the crucial distinction between the cases. Paey stood up for his belief that patients in pain should be able to get the medicine they need. Limbaugh so far hasn’t stood up for any consistent principle except his right to stay out of jail.

He has portrayed himself as the victim of a politically opportunistic prosecutor determined to bag a high-profile trophy, which is probably true. But that’s standard operating procedure in the drug war supported by Limbaugh and his fellow conservatives.

See what I mean? Maybe the real Tierney was abducted by aliens, and this column was written by an impostor.

… The drug war costs $35 billion per year and has yet to demonstrate any clear long-term benefits. … Yet conservatives go on giving more money and more power to the drug cops. …

… Limbaugh objected when prosecutors, unable to come up with enough evidence against him, demanded to be allowed to go through his medical records in the hope of finding something.

He managed to stop them in court, but other defendants can’t afford long legal battles to protect their privacy.

Drug agents and prosecutors go on fishing expeditions to seize doctors’ records and force pharmacists to divulge what they’re selling to whom. With the help of new federal funds, states are compiling databases of the prescriptions being filled at pharmacies. Once their trolling finds something they deem suspicious, the authorities can threaten doctors, pharmacists and patients with financially crippling investigations and long jail sentences unless they cooperate by testifying against others or copping a plea. …

Tierney reminds us that Bush has defended the more objectionable parts of the Patriot Act by saying the same powers were being used against drug dealers.

I wasn’t aware the feds were doing this. How is that different from prosecutors combing through medical records looking for women who might have terminated a pregnancy?

… Even if Limbaugh believes that drugs like OxyContin are a menace to himself, he ought to recognize that most patients are in Richard Paey’s category. Their problem isn’t abusing painkillers, but finding doctors to prescribe enough of them. And that gets harder every year because of the drug war promoted by conservatives like Limbaugh.

***

Speaking of drugs, there’s something about the Patrick Kennedy case that’s not making sense to me. He says he was zoned out on a combination of Ambien (sleeping pill) and Phenergan (anti-nausea pill). This USA Today article says that combination really could account for Kennedy’s driving behaviors. But several articles have also said Kennedy has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Was he not also taking meds for that? And if not, why not?

And, for the record, I don’t think Patrick Kennedy should get special treatment, à la Rush Limbaugh. The cops should have given Kennedy a field-sobriety test, for example. There’s no question there are pieces missing from the official account of what happened last Thursday morning. It might be best for the Democratic party if Kennedy resigned now so that another Dem has time to get a campaign for his House seat up and running.

One other thing — so far I haven’t seen any leftie bloggers making excuses for Kennedy. See, for example, Billmon, Atrios, and this Kos diarist. One can’t say the same about righties and Limbaugh.

See, for example, this April 29 post on RedState.org.

Personally, I wish the best for Rush and his family. Any Hollywood personality who confessed to drug addiction and checked themselves into a rehabiliation clinic would be lauded as a saint for getting their lives together, and left completely alone by the police. Rush Limbaugh, for his political views, has faced a dogged prosecution determined to use any means necessary to pin a charge on him. Already, liberals without a shred of moral decency are shrieking in gleeful hysteria over this. It’s easy to call “hypocrite” when one has no moral standards of one’s own to possibly violate. But all of this is beside the point.

RedState’s take (from a different blogger) on the Kennedy episode was less sympathetic. Funny how that works.

Check out Expose the Left —

On Limbaugh: “Rush ‘Arrested’, Media Obsessed With Non-Story

But the media wasn’t hard enough on Kennedy –

Aww Factor: CNN’s Bash Apologist For Kennedy’s Family Drinking Problem (VIDEO)

This guy is outraged that a CNN reporter would make excuses for Kennedy, like saying he got addicted to pills he was taking for health problems.

Unlike Rush, who … oh, wait …

Update: Mustang Bobby says the difference between Rush and the Hindenburg is that one’s a flaming Nazi gasbag and the other’s a dirigible.

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26 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Rick  •  May 6, 2006 @10:04 am

    Gleeful at Rush’s problems? I wish I was much more articulate, I’d love to be able to expound on the issue this brings to light. The “make laws and throw them in jail/ deport them to their own island/ shoot them, because these laws would never apply to a good person like me or my family” crowd need to learn about the real world and guys who affect public opinion or policy need a few rotten tomatoes thrown at them when they stand up on a pile of soap boxes proclaiming their own virtues all the while holding their nose so they don’t smell their own sh**.

  2. undeniable liberal  •  May 6, 2006 @11:02 am

    Is that the smell of bacon in the air? Or is it a wee bit of a double standard. Lush Bimbaugh is almost a non-story……the kennedy thing will be a friggin soap opera all week. Fair and balanced, we distort, you obey!

  3. Britwit  •  May 6, 2006 @11:13 am

    Let’s remember that Rush lives in a Bush State in more than one meaning of this statement. He resides in Jeb’s state and he promotes BushWorld for Brother Bush or any Republican that is on the stump.

    Didn’t anyone wonder how the former FAT BOY dropped the LBS?

    Ambien – I have seen stories on TV prior to P. Kennedy story that showed people getting up and sleepwalking in their underwear outdoors. So, that part seems to be factual.

    We know that Patrick has a family history. I don’t know if he is the son that lost a leg to cancer when he was young or not, but I can only hope for the best for his health.

    Someone on CNN and I think it was probably “Wolf” questionned why he would go to The Mayo Clinic. I say, why not. Wolf was saying that it’s not known for drug rehab. If you have the Kennedy money, I think that you would want to go to a facility that would provide more privacy.

    The Republicans are just happy to have something to talk about and shout about to avoid what is going on within the CIA and the Bush administration what with talk of hookers and poker games and connections to a convicted felon. Remember how Condi was always using the word “chatter”. I think there is going to be a lot of CHATTER on the Sunday talk shows. Can’t wait to hear what spin FAT MAN Russert puts on it and Chris Matthews.

  4. Britwit  •  May 6, 2006 @1:59 pm

    I meant to include in my above statement, I wonder if William Bennett was attending any of the poker games?

    Remember William, the guy that was addicted to gambling? Also, the former Education Czar?

    He’s now on BOOK TV CSPAN2 pumping his new book, “American, The Last Best Hope”.

    He said this crazy period that we are going through about “The Flat Earth” will pass. Well we all know which NYTimes writer is a knock about.

    Republicans can’t attend or speak at any affair without knocking the Democrats. I mean he is supposed to be promoting his book and not KNOCKING down people.

    Another FAT MAN!

  5. Swami  •  May 6, 2006 @2:05 pm

    I’m confused..How can I experience white guilt if I don’t have a shred of moral decency? It’s like love and marriage, horse and carriage…you can’t have one without the other.

  6. maha  •  May 6, 2006 @2:12 pm

    How can I experience white guilt if I don’t have a shred of moral decency?

    Wow, good question!

  7. Glinda  •  May 7, 2006 @1:47 pm

    Tierney is less a conservative than he is a libertarian. I think that was what MoDo found so attractive years ago.

  8. diane  •  May 7, 2006 @3:42 pm

    I was not ‘gleeful” about Rush limbaugh.
    As an MS Contin user for the past 6 years for intractable pain, Rush did a great disservice to those of us who depend on these types of medications to have some sort of normal life.
    No one should have 2,000 pils of this kind in there possession.
    He is rich enough to BUY the finest medical care.
    The hypocrital part, which the right wing blogs are not discussing is the fact that Rush came out and had some nasty things to say about people who are addicted and where they should spend there time. And it isn’t living in their florida mansions.
    He obviously thinks that he is better then anybody and his sentence and the fact the he did not receive jail time is proof that he has friends in high places and can be above the law.
    A typical republican conservative manuver, don’t do as I do, do as I say

  9. Donna  •  May 7, 2006 @4:19 pm

    Bless you, Diane….MS is a tough one. Do you have any metal in your mouth?…..some MS folks I know got relief when they got the metal replaced by epoxy [sort of like the stuff melamine dinnerware was made of.

    Rush Limbaugh is one cruel guy.

  10. Britwit  •  May 7, 2006 @5:43 pm

    Comment 9 -

    Rush is Way overrated and more than cruel!

  11. Bulworth  •  May 7, 2006 @6:35 pm

    yeah Tierney’s column really surprised me, too. After all, he had Patrick Kennedy he could have written about. Glad to see his libertarian streak being put to good use. This column couldn’t have gone over well with the Redstate crowd.

  12. montag  •  May 7, 2006 @7:48 pm

    Maha there must be something in the water over at the Times building. Check out Ben Steins piece in the business section today.

  13. Matt Tievsky  •  May 7, 2006 @8:01 pm

    Sure there’s a difference between Limbaugh and Kennedy. Kennedy endangered other people. That’s why it’s perfectly defensible to stick up for the behavior of one but not the other, in this case. (And for the record, I don’t like either of them. As Tierney argues, Limbaugh’s a hypocrite.)

  14. maha  •  May 7, 2006 @8:26 pm

    Kennedy endangered other people. That’s why it’s perfectly defensible to stick up for the behavior of one but not the other, in this case.

    Exactly whom have you seen “stick up” for Kennedy?

  15. maha  •  May 7, 2006 @8:36 pm
  16. Matt Tievsky  •  May 7, 2006 @10:12 pm

    Maha: No one, as far as I know. I was responding to this:

    “One other thing — so far I haven’t seen any leftie bloggers making excuses for Kennedy. See, for example, Billmon, Atrios, and this Kos diarist. One can’t say the same about righties and Limbaugh.”

    Reading this a second time, I’m not sure if you’re referring to “making excuses” for Limbaugh’s drug use or his hypocrisy. I don’t think his drug use is comparable to Kennedy’s, for the reason I already gave. If you were referring to his hypocrisy, that’s a different matter.

  17. maha  •  May 7, 2006 @10:21 pm

    I don’t think his drug use is comparable to Kennedy’s, for the reason I already gave.

    Unless you’ve been following both gentlemen around for several years and are acquainted with the intimate details of their personal lives, I don’t know how you could make that judgment. Or why you would want to, for that matter.

  18. Matt Tievsky  •  May 8, 2006 @2:55 am

    Maha: Kennedy crashed his car! We know this. Whatever substance he was on (and my bet is alcohol), he endangered others.

    Whereas there’s nothing to indicate that Limbaugh’s use of painkillers affected anyone but himself.

    Why would I want to judge them differently? Because there’s an important distinction between using drugs in privacy and using drugs in a way that endangers other people. (Hopefully, Limbaugh’s troubles will teach him that.)

  19. maha  •  May 8, 2006 @6:04 am

    Whereas there’s nothing to indicate that Limbaugh’s use of painkillers affected anyone but himself.

    That’s my point. What we know about either of these guys is just the tip of the iceberg. Unless you have spent considerable time with both of them you don’t know what their private behaviors are. For all we know Russ has put people in danger many times; he just hasn’t been caught at it.

  20. Britwit  •  May 8, 2006 @11:04 am

    Good point, maha.

    When do we actually break the law — when we are caught?

  21. Matt Tievsky  •  May 8, 2006 @2:41 pm

    Maha: I thought the whole point of being upset at things like the incarceration of Richard Paey is that there’s nothing to indicate that he endangered anyone, even if the government says he broke the law.

  22. maha  •  May 8, 2006 @3:26 pm

    Matt: No. You might want to read the entire Tierney column, but his point was this:

    Paey really needs pain medication but can’t get enough of the meds he needs because of our anti-narcotic laws. He had to break the law to get enough pills to relieve his pain. Rush, who is addicted to pain pills we might assume he doesn’t need any more (Paey is confined to a wheelchair; Rush plays golf) broke the law to get his fix and got off easy. Tierney’s point was that if Rush wanted to do something useful, instead of whining about how people pick on him he’d become an advocate for more rational narcotics laws. Whether Rush ever endangered anyone while he was high — and we don’t know if he did or not — is beside the point.

    I have no idea what’s up with Kennedy. Apparently he’s addicted to pain pills but (he says) he’s also bipolar, which complicates the issue considerably. Without knowing more I’m not going to pass judgment, except to say that someone should take away his car keys.

  23. Matt Tievsky  •  May 8, 2006 @4:26 pm

    Maha: Paey probably is in a lot more pain than Limbaugh and thus needs pills that much more. But that says nothing about whether he poses less of a threat to other people than Limbaugh does.

    My point is that, based on what we know, neither Paey nor Limbaugh posed a threat to anyone else. And that’s why, IMHO, they don’t need to be “excused” for what they did (aside from Limbaugh’s hypocrisy)–not until someone can point out how they acted irresponsibly. Presumed innocence, and all that.

  24. maha  •  May 8, 2006 @9:31 pm

    But that says nothing about whether he poses less of a threat to other people than Limbaugh does.

    Not the point. No my point, not Tierney’s point. Absolutely beside the point. Not an issue, not up for discussion, nobody cares.

    Are you cognitively impaired, btw?

    My point is that, based on what we know, neither Paey nor Limbaugh posed a threat to anyone else.

    And my point is that you can’t possibly know enough about Rush’s private behaviors to make that judgment. All we know is that he didn’t get caught.

    not until someone can point out how they acted irresponsibly. Presumed innocence, and all that.

    His money and influence saw to it that he didn’t have to admit guilt, . If that’s “innocence” to you, you must be a rightie. Bye.

  25. Marina  •  Mar 8, 2007 @8:17 pm

    So, conservative pharmacists are skirting the law by denying women access to birth control and the day-after pill based on their moral standards. Yet Limbaugh has a prescription for Viagra and hes not married? WBR LeoP

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