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.
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 —
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.