Saturday, May 06, 2006

A few choice words for Rush Limbaugh

Quote of the day goes to Richard Paey, who had this to say in response to the news that Rush Limbaugh bought himself out of trouble for $30,000.
"The wealthy and influential go to rehab, while the poor and powerless go to prison."
Sad but true. This from John Tierney's latest op-ed in the NYT, brought to you here from behind the paywall in its entirety from a forum I recently joined.

Tierney's been on the Paey story for some time now and he picks up where I left off in connecting the dots between Rush and Richard. Tierney makes one important distinction right out of the gate. Paey could have cut a deal -- he was offered a good one -- but he chose to stand on his principles and not plead out to a charge he wasn't guilty of, not to mention fight for the right of all pain patients.

In a just world, Paey would be a free man but of course, in our system it's Rush who walks the streets unfettered. As Tierney says, "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 goes on to say:
[Rush] 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.

Drug agents and prosecutors are desperate for headlines because they have so little else to show for their work. The drug war costs $35 billion per year and has yet to demonstrate any clear long-term benefits — precisely the kind of government boondoggle that conservatives like Limbaugh ought to view skeptically.

Yet conservatives go on giving more money and more power to the drug cops. When critics complained about threats to civil liberties in the Patriot Act, President Bush defended it by noting that the government was already using some of these powers against drug dealers. Why worry about snooping on foreign terrorists when we've already been doing it to Americans?
Most people outside out of the reform community don't realize how the war on some drugs laid the foundation for the civil rights abuses now being commited by the Bush administration. Every time they chip away at drug consumers rights, everybody's rights take a hit. Fascism always starts by vilifying a minority group.

Tierney has some ideas on how Rush could help reverse this process.
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.

It has been said that a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested. I wouldn't wish such a conversion on Limbaugh. But a two-year investigation by drug prosecutors should be enough to turn a conservative into a libertarian.
It surely should be enough, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting. Rush's concern for the common good ends just about where he meets his chair.


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