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October 25, 2006

Comments

I will say what Timothy Noah of Slate doesn't want us to say. Rush Limbaught is in fact, an insufferable buffoon and a moron. I will also take it a step farther. Anyone who listens to his show on a regular basis and agrees with anything he says, are the people who should be voted off of "Intelligence Island". They are, in a word, idiots. Each and every one.

There. I've said it.

Michael J. Fox's response was gracious.

Hilzoy, this post is restrained, and decent, but eloquently firm.

I disagree with both of you.

Limbaugh could be dropped with one punch and then made to bleed from the ears with a couple of hard kicks to the head.

He is a cocksucking (if the name Limbaugh gets through the servers at work, so should this) piece of subhuman filth.

Hogs across the country are butchered every day who have more decency than he does.

Thanks for listening.

John: I was sort of waiting for your response to this one ;) As for mine, there's something about writing this:

" as long as people listen only to what he is saying about others, and focus on those others and their sins, he is popular in a way that he would never be if people just stopped and asked: what does the fact that he spends all day whipping up hatred and spreading calumny say about him? And why would I listen to someone whose idea of morality seems to involve nothing but anger, contempt, venom and self-righteousness?"

-- that makes me suddenly feel that I just might possibly want to be a little restrained.

You are a better person than I am.

But sometimes a person just needs to rid the world of Liberty Valence, toss Poppie the carbine, and head back to the ranch.

Amen to the last paragraph.

Above all, I find the accusation that Fox was "faking it" most appalling. No one with any serious medical condition need go through accusations that they are putting on an act. Many people are pressured out of checking into possible medical ills because it's "all in their head," an "act" put on for sympathy, because in American society we are supposed to be TOUGH and in total control. It's an attitude that is unendingly harmful, unfortunately for people in the beginning stages of discovering these illnesses. And when someone intentionalyl furthers this sort of thinking, it sets me off.

Your last paragraph rings true. Thank you for it.

John: I should probably add that if some deity with deeply perverse taste in humanoids were to decide to rapture Rush Limbaugh, I would not be too terribly upset.

Above all, I find the accusation that Fox was "faking it" most appalling. No one with any serious medical condition need go through accusations that they are putting on an act. Many people are pressured out of checking into possible medical ills because it's "all in their head," an "act" put on for sympathy, because in American society we are supposed to be TOUGH and in total control.

What's "tough-guy" Limbaugh going to do next? Dump on a handicapped person? (A "cripple"?) Guess he must be sad Christopher Reeve is gone....

Limbaugh could be dropped with one punch and then made to bleed from the ears with a couple of hard kicks to the head.

Just because it needed to be said a second time.

Words fail for Michael Fox. An extraordinary decency, casual coutage with grace. One of the good things in my life. A hero.

The people who listen to Rush say he's funny.
He sells calculated cruelty and sadism. U try to have some compassion for his listenersm, but they are not downtrodden peasants, desperate for relief. Someone without fluency in English could listen to the voice of Rush and understand why we torture. I think our President is a cruel man. Amazing times.

What's "tough-guy" Limbaugh going to do next? Dump on a handicapped person?

That's Ann Coulter's job.

His "apology" asserted that if, then, Fox wasn't faking it, then he's just being manipulated by politicians for political gain. Because those with debilitating illnesses must also have lesser brains and therefore decreased free will. They can't make a decision on their own (unless of course they agree with you), they must be manipulated by others. It's sickening, but perhaps I'm just overly sensitive to this sort of thing -- Rush is outright about it, but it's a fairly pervasive attitude.

"Now people are telling me they have seen Michael J. Fox in interviews and he does appear the same way in the interviews as he does in this commercial. All right then, I stand corrected. . . . So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act. Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

So Limbaugh is getting his jollies beating up on sick people...what else is new?

What has always amazed me about Limbaugh, and some other similar commentators, is how they manage to convince their audiences that they are on the side of morality and decency

Some of it comes down to them spending most of their time convincing their listeners that all other information sources are evil. The amount of time they spend attacking any media outlets or sources that disagree with them is incredible.

But if you look at what they do, it's all about providing a set of circular arguments to defend against facts. They're irrefutable from outside of the looped world of insanity they've created. Unless you can completely crack their faith in their prophet, er, pundit, you have no way to attack any particular point or even get traction.

Basically, I'm saying that there are large portions of public who, from a psychological perspective, should be thought of as cult members rather than political partisans. Bastards like Limbaugh are every bit as dangerous as the cult leaders we rightly decry. And, breaking people out of their grasp is just as difficult.

Though I don't agree in any way with Limbaugh's views on this, I think you mischaracterize the logic a bit in your last paragraph. The point he was attempting to make was not that people with disabilities should keep them hidden, but that Fox was exaggerating the true cost of his illness (and thus exaggerating his need for stem cell research) by rendering it 'med-free', which is not a condition he truly lives in. Again, this view is simply factually false and for many reasons I'd have no sympathy for it anyway, but while we're kicking him we should understand what for.

Limbaugh is the Roman Coliseum of our modern times. He creates an enormous amount of blood and cruelty, but it's all in good fun and everyone's entertained., so hey it's okay.

This type of one-sided post is exactly why this site should have regularly-contributing conservative commentators. Here we have Media Matters and Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder and Hilzoy on the left, and a Rush Limbaugh video snippet on the right. How could it be more fair and balanced?

Limbaugh also said this: "I did some research today, and I found his book that was published. It's 'Lucky Man,' 2002, but he admits in the book that before Senate subcommittee on appropriations I think in 1999, September of 1999, he did not take his medication for the purposes of having the ravages and the horrors of Parkinson's disease illustrated, [which is a fair point] which was what he has done in the commercials that are running for Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent..." which is where he stuck his foot his foot in his mouth because he is engaging in pure speculation.

Fox confirmed Diane Sawyer's show that that was what he did when he testified in front of Congress. With the McCaskill commercial, Michael J. Fox has now entered the political fray, and because he has admitted going off his meds in the past to exaggerate the effects of his unfortunate and irreversible disease in order to affect legislation, it's a completely fair question to ask whether or not he was off his meds in this commercial. In the same segment, Olbermann also showed a two-year old commercial of Fox supporting Specter. The involuntary movements were perceptible, but not by much. You could tell that Fox was trying to hold it in. The difference between 2004 for Specter and 2006 for McCaskill is huge.

Personally, I really do want to know if Fox was medicated or not in the McCaskill commercial. If he takes his meds and functions reasonably well in everyday life but with small tremors, but goes off the meds for a few days and shakes all over the place in a political commercial, to me that is deceptive. It may reflect the worst parts of the disease but it doesn't reflect how he actually lives. I think it's reasonable to know one way or the other. While he's at it, perhaps Fox himself could tell us whether the meds exaggerate or lessen his movements, rather than having armchair MDs make such pronouncements as if they were fact. That's not much better than Limbaugh.

Another thing. I don't have much of a problem with Fox exaggerating his disease in front of Congress, because our elected representatives face exaggerations all the time, and they should be discerning enough to know the real from the theater. It's part of their jobs. But I do have a problem with Fox doing it in front of everyday people. He is using and exploiting his disease to manipulate voters, and there are questions about the content of his words. If this is considered OK by the panel of Hilzoyical ethicists, then it would also be perfectly within bounds to show paraplegics or victims of ALS who oppose on principle the federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines and who instead put their support behind other avenues of stem cell research.

If this is indeed the next new era of political advertising, well so be it. But in all fairness, let's usher in all the victims, showing them all in their worst unmedicated ravages and have a real political free-for-all. Civility has already been shot to hell anyway. What can a few more circuses hurt.

Disclaimers: This does not mean I support Limbaugh's claim that Fox was "acting" or that he was off his meds, nor do I approve of Limbaugh's attempts to simulate Fox's movements.

it would also be perfectly within bounds to show paraplegics or victims of ALS who oppose on principle the federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines and who instead put their support behind other avenues of stem cell research.

They already do. Did you not get those ads in Seattle?

Oh, and also:

Another thing. I don't have much of a problem with Fox exaggerating his disease in front of Congress, because our elected representatives face exaggerations all the time, and they should be discerning enough to know the real from the theater. It's part of their jobs.

Such charming naivete!

CB: I'm really unsure as to why my going off antihistimines to reveal the worst side of the common cold counts as deceptive. It would be a lie if I claimed I was on antihistimines, though I really was not -- that would be deceptive.

Look, it seems as though putting up anyone who is a sympathy case -- be it Fox or Reeves or someone with ALS -- is in some sense emotionally manipulative, but surely it is no more manipulative for the person to exhibit the symptoms of the disease, when those symptoms are a daily reality for them.

Do you really want to get in an argument about how much MJ Fox was trembling? Maybe we can slo-mo the tape and critique the credibility of every swerve. And then somehow perhaps we will find grounds for deep indignation.

Is that really where you want to go with this?

CB: Incidentally, who is the "panel of Hilzoyical ethicists"? I sense something not very nice was meant by this.

He's back! Sort of. Over at TiO.

Not that you need my two cents, but here they are anyway:

Limbaugh is just one of those people who cannot ever be wrong. Point out where he's wrong, and he'll attack your motives for pointing it out.

On the other hand, though, we all know that Parkinson's is not degenerative, and we all know that people who suffer from Parkinson's exhibit exactly the same set and degree of symptoms at every hour of the day and night. So of course he was faking it.

Hopefully I don't need to close the irony tag.

I think more shocking than Limbaugh's behavior is that Olbermann actually sounded like a journalist, there, for a minute or two. Until the bit where he had Seder on; then he reverted to the Keith I expect to see on TV. Limbaugh's behavior is absolutely unsurprising, but not unrevolting.

Charles, I think you're in the wrong, here. But welcome back all the same.

"Limbaugh is just one of those people who cannot ever be wrong. Point out where he's wrong, and he'll attack your motives for pointing it out."

This is the standard tactic of the right nowadays, from the top down. Forget the facts, just state that the other person is an American-hating, terrorist loving, vengeful, bookselling liberal.

CB, appreciate the sincere attempt to be thoughtful, but personally, I think it was entirely approrpiate for Fox to go off meds so that the full impact of the disease can be seen. After all, it isn't just about him, but about everyone with Parkinson's and not everyone can afford meds.

BTW, IIRC, Limbaugh also did make some snide comments about Christopher Reeve back in the day.

And where are the comments about Limbaugh being an entertainer and not to be taken seriously that I have seen in the past. This man is dangerous.

And really ludicrous was the Sawyer interview that ABC aired with Sean Hannity. Be serious, Hannity is an unbiased source to go to to discuss Republican malfeasance?

This type of one-sided post is exactly why this site should have regularly-contributing conservative commentators.

... because people who makes fun of Parkinson's disease deserve a robust partisan defense.

I suppose I should also say that it should be possible to opposed stem cell research on whatever grounds one is opposed to them. If one is opposed to stem cell research simply because one thinks Michael J. Fox is faking it, or some similar silly-assed reason, then one should be brave enough to say it straight out like that.

"to oppose", as opposed to what I wrote, above.

I don’t listen to talk radio at all, so I have never heard him – not even once. And I really like Fox – always have. With that said, when you use your illness to promote a candidate you do open yourself up to this kind of thing. I can see some level of wrongness on both sides here.

Just as both sides portray the whole stem cell issue incorrectly. Republicans are stupid to portray an embryo as life, and Democrats are stupid to say that restrictions on federal funding represent a ban on research.

Two weeks to go… There is worse coming I am sure – from both sides.

I'm quoting extensively from CB's first comment:

CB: Limbaugh also said this: "I did some research today, and I found his book that was published. It's 'Lucky Man,' 2002, but he admits in the book that before Senate subcommittee on appropriations I think in 1999, September of 1999, he did not take his medication for the purposes of having the ravages and the horrors of Parkinson's disease illustrated,..." Fox confirmed Diane Sawyer's show that that was what he did when he testified in front of Congress.

Link? In Lucky Man, he said this was in front of the Senate in 1999. If there were other occasions, I'd like to see them clearly identified.

Here's how he describes it in his book:

Fox: "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling."

CB: With the McCaskill commercial, Michael J. Fox has now entered the political fray, and because he has admitted going off his meds in the past to exaggerate the effects of his unfortunate and irreversible disease in order to affect legislation, it's a completely fair question to ask whether or not he was off his meds in this commercial.

I've bolded a couple of troublesome words. The word "admitted" implies that he did something sneaky and only owned up to it later. But that's not the case. He told the Senate subcommittee that he was unmedicated. It's right there in his testimony. From that transcript:

Fox: "For many people with Parkinson's, managing their disease is a full-time job; it is a constant balancing act. Too little medicine causes tremors and stiffness, too much medicine produces uncontrollable movement and slurring, and far too often Parkinson's patients wait and wait (as I am right now) for their medicines to kick in."

CB: In the same segment, Olbermann also showed a two-year old commercial of Fox supporting Specter. The involuntary movements were perceptible, but not by much. You could tell that Fox was trying to hold it in. The difference between 2004 for Specter and 2006 for McCaskill is huge.

Oh, for God's sake. He has early onset Parkinson's. His disease could progress that badly in two years. He also, like any other patient, has good and bad days.

And most importantly, the flailing and tics in the commercial are NOT from Parkinson's itself. These are the side effects of long-term medication. If Fox had deliberately left himself unmedicated, you would have seen true Parkinson's symptoms: tremors (which != the large scale twitching and flailing of his drug-induced chorea) and stiffness. He wouldn't have been able to speak as fluently as he did if he was off his meds.

"Could a patient on Parkinson's show such symptoms even while he was on his medication? . ... William J. Weiner M.D., professor and chairman of the department of neurology at the University of Maryland Medical Center [and] director of the Parkinson's clinic there, [says]:

'What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. He has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. ... He's not over-dramatizing. ... [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson's disease, because people with Parkinson's don't look like that at all when they're not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don't move at all. ... People with Parkinson's, when they've had the disease for awhile, are in this bind, where if they don't take any medication, they can be stiff and hardly able to talk. And if they do take their medication, so they can talk, they get all of this movement, like what you see in the ad.'" (source)

CB: Personally, I really do want to know if Fox was medicated or not in the McCaskill commercial.

He was talking well and was exhibiting the grand tics and flails of drug-induced chorea, not the stiff immobility of unmedicated Parkinson's. Thus, he was not unmedicated. You're welcome.

If he takes his meds and functions reasonably well in everyday life but with small tremors, but goes off the meds for a few days and shakes all over the place in a political commercial, to me that is deceptive.

Tremors and chorea are different symptoms. Please be more clear. And as neurologists have already said, if he went off his meds for a few days, he would not have been able to function as well as he did in that commercial.

CB:Another thing. I don't have much of a problem with Fox exaggerating his disease in front of Congress, because our elected representatives face exaggerations all the time, and they should be discerning enough to know the real from the theater.

Are you now claiming he was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms? That's different from showing the effects of being unmedicated (which, as noted, is laughable if you know anything about this disease).

CB: It's part of their jobs. But I do have a problem with Fox doing it in front of everyday people. He is using and exploiting his disease to manipulate voters, and there are questions about the content of his words. If this is considered OK by the panel of Hilzoyical ethicists, then it would also be perfectly within bounds to show paraplegics or victims of ALS who oppose on principle the federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines and who instead put their support behind other avenues of stem cell research.

Do you have any evidence that Fox deliberately exaggerated his symptoms? Medical experts have stated CLEARLY that he displayed typical features of being on Parkinson's drugs for years.

You know, maybe Bob Dole's arm isn't as bunged up as he claims it is. Maybe he pitches a mean horseshoe on his lawn at home when no media are around. Maybe he exaggerates the pain and limited mobility, even though medical experts say he's displaying the kind of symptoms you would expect from a man who suffered his kind of injuries. I mean, if we can't give Michael J. Fox the benefit of the doubt, why should we extend that courtesy to anyone else?

The difference between 2004 for Specter and 2006 for McCaskill is huge.

Do you not understand that Parkinson's is a degenerative disease? Or do you not understand the meaning of the term "degenerative"?

The difference between 2004 for Specter and 2006 for McCaskill is huge.

Parkinsons is progressive. It gets worse as time goes on. In a couple of years, Fox will likely be unable to speak at all. Sometime after that, when pretty much every simple pleasure in life has been taken from him, he'll die.

That's Parkinsons.

Regarding Limbaugh:

I used to listen to his show now and then. I stopped when he broadcast a parody of "Luck Be A Lady". His parody, entitled "Lick On A Lady", was a smirking, smutty little ditty about a fictional lesbian affair between Janet Reno and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Charming.

Limbaugh is a reflexively conservative, self-aggrandizing blowhard, with a drug problem and what appears to be some profound issues with women. None of that bothers me. You can find guys like that at the end of the bar somewhere any night of the week. Not my problem.

My problem with Limbaugh is that he is indecent, and that he has chosen public political discourse as the arena in which he will make his indecency manifest. He and his ilk have made cheap, corrupt indecency the normal coin of political conversation.

Are there equally venal commentators on the left? Yes, there are. None -- not one -- have anything like Limbaugh's audience or influence. Limbaugh is an honorary member of Congress. His show is broadcast, every day, on Armed Forces Radio. He is courted by people occupying the highest levels of power in this country. Make of that what you will.

Limbaugh is a creep. Worse, he is a creep for a living. He soils and curdles everything he touches, and appeals to what is soiled and curdled in his audience. That is the source and basis of his power.

He is an indecent man, and he makes everything around him indecent. He appeals to what is indecent in each of us, and makes indecency acceptable, even laudable, in public political conversation.

That's why I don't like him.

Thanks -

What Russell said.

And why would I listen to someone whose idea of morality seems to involve nothing but anger, contempt, venom and self-righteousness?

Brilliantly said.

Was Limbaugh being deceptive when he didn't attribute the loss of his hearing to being on his "medication"? Was he being deceptive when he sent his maid out to score his dope? Who the hell is Rush Limbaugh to call anyone deceptive?

And why the hell is this hate monger on Armed Forces Radio? Is it the goal of the military to make our soldiers hate half of the American people?

Charles Bird, why don't you just fuck off? If that was uncivil, I apologize.

Pug,

That's at least two violations of the posting rules in one comment. Do it again and you won't be in a position to apologize, as you'll be banned. As the contents of this thread should illustrate, there are plenty of ways to express your displeasure with Limbaugh that don't require the use of profanity or personal attacks on other commenters.

CB writes: "If he takes his meds and functions reasonably well in everyday life but with small tremors, but goes off the meds for a few days and shakes all over the place in a political commercial, to me that is deceptive"

What part of "progressive disease" don't you understand, CB?

Are you under the illusion that Fox isn't going to continue getting worse until he can no longer function at all? He's a young man, likely in excellent health otherwise, and will probably live a long time during which his condition will deteriorate continuously.

My problem with Limbaugh is that he is indecent, and that he has chosen public political discourse as the arena in which he will make his indecency manifest.

there's another variable in the equation: his listeners. he wouldn't be popular without them, and he wouldn't have influence if they didn't want him to have that influence. but, well, he is popular and influential. there's a large group of people who enjoy the smell of the crap Rush shovels.

and that's a problem many millions of times larger than Rush himself.

cleek,

I agree. Limbaugh is just one manifestation of the intentionally obnoxious, skirting the line on racist, and preaching to the conservative choir streak that has been around for some time. Others have had the same spell of popularity and media stardom (e.g., Morton Downey, Jr., Andrew Dice Clay). Given the perpetual demand for this type, I'm not expecting it to end anytime soon.

there's another variable in the equation: his listeners.

Speaking of, anyone still describe themselves as "dittoheads"?

Aside from the issue that the symptoms of the disease and the side effects of the medication both vary and worsen over time, there's also the question of what you think the difference between Fox's ads for Specter and McCaskill represents, Charles. Are you saying Fox agreed to make an ad for Specter but thought, "Ha, I've agreed to make this ad, but since he's a Republican I'll control my symptoms to make sure it's not a very good ad!"?

CB: "Personally, I really do want to know if Fox was medicated or not in the McCaskill commercial. If he takes his meds and functions reasonably well in everyday life but with small tremors, but goes off the meds for a few days and shakes all over the place in a political commercial, to me that is deceptive."

As other people have said, but it seems to bear repeating: the movements are side effects of the medication. Of course he was medicated. Otherwise he'd be displaying completely different symptoms.

If Rush Limbaugh had bothered to do the slightest checking before saying what he did, he would have known that.

And I linked the Olbermann video because it was the only video I could find of Rush's performance. I actually looked around for another one, because I would rather have linked to something with nothing but Limbaugh's flailings and Fox's response. I couldn't find one, though.

I'm glad to see you back, Charles, but fwiw: I was criticizing only Limbaugh, not 'the right'. I explained why Limbaugh was wrong ("And you've probably also heard that Fox's tremors aren't the result of not taking the medication but a side effect of taking it.") I linked to the only video I could find. It also had Sam Seder on it, but I said that I didn't think much of what he said, and that I didn't recommend watching it. But somehow this counts as enlisting Seder in my one-sided campaign.

Whatever.

Personally, I think that Rush's conduct is a pretty one-sided issue, and I don't see why it's a left-right issue, since I can't imagine why conservatives in general would feel any call to defend him here. If you wrote a post about the evils of some person on the left who had done something similar, I would hope that I'd just agree with you, not call it 'one-sided'.

OCSteve: "With that said, when you use your illness to promote a candidate you do open yourself up to this kind of thing."

Really? You open yourself up to false and ridiculous accusations that you are exaggerating your illness, that you are acting?

I can see opening yourself to being criticized for the content of what you say or the medium in which you chose to say it, but not to what Limbaugh said.

That said, please tell me which has more impact: someone explaining the effects of Parkinson's or someone who is a visual testimony to the effects of Parkinson's.

Oh: and I completely agree with Andrew about Pug's comments.

How many more days until these damn elections?

Off Topic:

Q Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.

And thanks to the leadership of the President now, and the action of the Congress, we have that authority, and we are able to continue to program.

Via Anderson

This type of one-sided post is exactly why this site should have regularly-contributing conservative commentators

well, Andrew and Von and Sebastian, your predecessor has called you out. Care to call out Hilzoy on her one-sidedness?

[of course, Charles's failure to notice that the post was titled "Limbaugh" not "MJ Fox" is to be expected. but i'm sure there's something that one of you can find that was inappropriate or unfair about what Hilzoy wrote, can't you.]

on the same vein, CB's comment is a perfect example of what's wrong with the modern Republican party. He is incapable of recognizing that one of the most powerful non-governmental figures in the party is a mean-spirited thug. So anyone who attacks him must be "one-sided" and must be attacked in return.

Shorter Charles Bird, had he lived in 1934: 'Why Does Our Joyless President Never Dance?'

OCSteve says I'm a liberal, so I'm exempt.

See a tongue-in-cheek visual that gives Rush Limbaugh a dose of his own medicine...here:

www.thoughttheater.com

I don't see why it's a left-right issue, since I can't imagine why conservatives in general would feel any call to defend him here.

To his adherents, Rush is the infallible voice of the 'Right'. As others have said, the bubble surrounding Rush and his listeners/cult followers depends entirely on the ABSOLUTE certainty that he is never wrong about anything. Without that, the whole thing comes crashing down. (After all, the only evidence we have that Rush is always right is his own word, and if his word is suspect, then maybe he's not always right...) Even when Rush is obviously wrong about something, it's never his fault, or there is some 'mitigating' irrelevency that makes everything better, allowing his hapless followers to continue living in Rush's spiteful, self-contained little world.

It's really not complicated.

Limbaugh's a thug. His audiences know he's a thug. That's what they like about him.

You remember those budding sociopaths at school who made fun of "Cripples! Gimps!" and thought it was cool to beat up someone who couldn't fight back?

Well, they grew up to be Rush Limbaugh's audience.

panel of Hilzoyical ethicists

Boy, lose cable for a week and hilzoy has her own philosophy. Show me where I sign up.

Limbaugh is demonstrating one of the most common traits in Republican leaders: projection.

After all, he exaggerated his own health problems for the sake of narcissistic indulgence and to escape the law. He champions the cause of a president and vice-president who ducked out of the risks that they're now pushing their counterparts of another generation into when it comes to war, and who are making the risk needlessly worse as they help their buddies enrich themselves int he process. His party's leaders are now busily blaming the opposition for those leaders' own lack of interest in sexual harassment of the very sort they were criminalizing in recent years until it became inconvenient to keep covering up. Limbaugh is the senior "independent" voice of a movement led by cowards, scoundrels, and hypocrites. Is it any surprise that they see the world in terms of cowardice, scandal, and hypocrisy? They have no other terms in which to judge, having conditioned themselves out of any sort of empathy or self-restraint. People who value honesty, integrity, and competence associate with them at their own moral risk.

Hilzoyical ethicists, the characteristics of which would include:

a respect for human dignity;
humility in our dealings with foreign countries;
application of gov't programs based on science, not faith;
a certain skepticism in those who make strong and unlikely claims.


No, I'm not back. Just a short visit.

Did you not get those ads in Seattle?

No, Anarch, haven't seen 'em.

I'm really unsure as to why my going off antihistimines to reveal the worst side of the common cold counts as deceptive.

Perhaps because common colds, Ara, aren't progressive and irreversible?

He told the Senate subcommittee that he was unmedicated.

Thanks for the link, Mary. You're right that he wasn't being deceptive in his Congressional testimony, and he did say that he was without his medication at the time. Did he tell viewers in the McCaskill ad whether or not he was unmedicated?

Thanks also for the other links, but I would've preferred that MJF say it. After all, his political hat is now in the ring. If he wants to raise awareness of Parkinson's and the treatments and the side effects, then this is the perfect opportunity. With this controversy, Fox can get on any talk show he wants right now and talk about it. I say all of this as a longtime fan of his, and I do respect the guy.

Are you now claiming he was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms?

He admitted that very thing when he stood before Congress. Re the campaign ad, I'm asking--not claiming--whether he was deliberately exaggerating. Limbaugh was the one doing the claiming, and he's a fool for doing so.

You know, maybe Bob Dole's arm isn't as bunged up as he claims it is.

Maybe Bob Dole could go on television and expose his withered right arm in order to lobby for more veterans benefits. That would be the political simile, no?

Of course he was medicated.

Then it wouldn't have hurt for him to disclose it, Hil. In his 2002 book, he wrote that we went off the meds to exaggerate his movements when he testified before Congress. The can with the worms coming out was opened by him.

On Limbaugh, we don't disagree on his stupid words and his base antics. Anyone here who thinks I'm defending him is laboring under a whopping misimpression. I listen to talk radio, but I can't take more than 15 minutes of Limbaugh without hitting another preset (same with Hannity). Limbaugh has major character deficiencies in his personal life, and they can't help but spill over onto the airwaves. I don't know what his ratings are, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were in decline.

But amid the idiocy, a valid point was raised. Michael J. Fox has done it in the past, and has admitted so in his own words. I would simply like to know if he did it again in his latest commercial. That is a valid question, and that's really where I think you're being one-sided (that, and the monolithically left-wing links). Because if he did purposely exaggerate for the cameras, then he is taking political manipulation to a new and higher level, or lower level as it were.

I don't know if MJF's movements are normally like that, and he did say that he has his good and bad days. I truly feel for the guy. My grandmother had the disease, too, but I was young and my parents told me to shush about it, but I could clearly see the debilitating effects and wouldn't wish them on anyone (well, maybe a few people). But Fox is now in the political arena--just like Cindy Sheehan and others--and I think he should answer some questions.

CB, don't understand your objection - his medication reportedly makes his condition more visible in this context, not less.

I don't think he has anything at all to answer for, myself. In fact, until anyone's foolish enough to actually ask him these questions, I'd be inclined to not care at all what his answers are.

Michael J. Fox is, in fact, suffering from Parkinson's. Parkinson's is, possibly, one disease that stem cell research could begin to positively affect. What on earth could his exact state of medication add to this discussion?

I mean, if I allowed my daughter to be filmed for a political ad, would you require that she answer some specific questions as to the exact nature of her disability, or would you possibly grant that maybe that's an exercise in character assassination?

In his 2002 book, he wrote that we went off the meds to exaggerate his movements when he testified before Congress.

Once again, the medication causes the movements.

But Fox is now in the political arena--just like Cindy Sheehan and others--and I think he should answer some questions.

Including, apparently, every single scurrilous one. The next question for Mr. Fox should obviously be "has your disease prevented you from beating your wife?"

Charles, it seems to me that you're glossing over a great deal of what posters are saying. That is, you're hearing the words, but not quite grasping the full implications.

Diseases like these are medicated and the effects of these medications have a wide range of effects that vary from individuals. What he demonstrated is not an unnusual case for someone with his condition. And what he demonstrated is going to happen to him, WITH OR WITHOUT his meds. Why do you think it's dishonest to show this?

"Admitting" is a loaded term. It seems like you're just itching to criticize him without understanding the full extent of what he's going through.

The beauty of all this is that if MJF had said in the commercial that he was on his medications then he would be attacked for misleading people about the disease by being on his meds when he did the commercial. It's win-win all around.

maybe that's an exercise in character assassination?

when you get right down to it, political campaigns are character assassination.

Of course, it's possible that MJF is simply faking Parkinson's all along, and has long-since abandoned his acting career in anticipation of eventually getting an opportunity to campaign in favor of stem cell research.

It all just depends on how silly and vicious a scenario you're willing to build. Possibly there do exist one or more people who would be willing to give up millions of perfectly good dollars just to take a point of view Rush disagrees with.

Of course, it's possible that MJF is simply faking Parkinson's all along, and has long-since abandoned his acting career in anticipation of eventually getting an opportunity to campaign in favor of stem cell research.

Well, I'm convinced. Who knew Marty McFly was so....diabolical.

Limbaugh, like Coulter, complains about Democrats' unfair use of "infallible" victims who can't be criticized (though apparently it was perfectly fine in 2004 when Fox was supporting Specter), but there's nothing wrong with criticizing the points raised. Respond to the arguments all you like if you disagree.

But when you suggest that Fox is faking his symptoms or that 9/11 widows are glad their husbands are dead, you're not arguing with what they're saying, and you've gone beyond the bounds of decency.

"I think it's fascinating that Limbaugh believes that for Michael J. Fox to stop taking his medication, to show the effects of his disease unfiltered, would be in some way dishonest."

This I think I disagree with though, given the hypothetical and assuming a lack of disclosure. If his medication was an entirely satisfactory one there would be much less force in the argument for stem cell research on the basis of an example of an unmedicated patient.

But the medicine is only a stopgap partial solution with side-effects, so the above is not relevant to anything - Rush's rhetoric is GIGO, and the exact details of the black box isn't much of interest to me.

Thanks for the link, Mary. You're right that he wasn't being deceptive in his Congressional testimony, and he did say that he was without his medication at the time. Did he tell viewers in the McCaskill ad whether or not he was unmedicated?

It was a thirty second spot, Charles. Was there time? Was there a need? We seem to agree that he's honest, honourable and even admirable. Why do you think he needed to disclose the dog-bites-man news in the ad that as a patient with Parkinson's, he was on his medications at the time? It is incredibly unlikely that he was OFF his meds and that the displayed symptoms were because he was off his meds. Several of us have beaten that point into the ground already.

If he wants to raise awareness of Parkinson's and the treatments and the side effects, then this is the perfect opportunity. With this controversy, Fox can get on any talk show he wants right now and talk about it. I say all of this as a longtime fan of his, and I do respect the guy.

He may yet do this, and he may have already done so. I don't see why he is morally required to discuss the side effects. It's a shame that scum like Limbaugh have taken his open, honest statement (not an "admission") in his book and made him suspect, when a simple Google search would have turned up the transcript I linked.

He admitted that [he was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms] when he stood before Congress. Re the campaign ad, I'm asking--not claiming--whether he was deliberately exaggerating.

"Deliberately exaggerating" seems ambiguous to me. Do you mean that he consciously exaggerated his Parkinson's symptoms before the subcommittee -- the tremors and stiffness -- and that he may have consciously exaggerated the chorea (not a Parkinson's symptom, but a side effect of his medication) in the commmercial? That is, he deliberately made his hands twitch or his arms fling about, just as Limbaugh was doing in that shameful piece of video?

I doubt this because you have said that you respect him, and I don't think you'd respect someone who would deliberately and consciously exaggerate symptoms using the muscles under his control.

So maybe you meant "deliberately exaggerating" to mean "let nature take its course by not medicating himself." Fox clearly stated that he did that in 1999. But there is no way for him to honestly say in 2006 "I went off my meds in the McCaskill commercial. My flailing and jerking were the result of being unmedicated" because that would not be true. Neurologists have said that those symptoms are the result of years of medication, not the result of going unmedicated.

CB: "But Fox is now in the political arena--just like Cindy Sheehan and others--and I think he should answer some questions."

What questions would those be, Charles? "Hey Mike! Are you really as sick as all that?"

So then, are we to conclude that you are quite OK with the public, broadcast mockery of an afflicted person's disease when they advocate for funding support in connection with a political campaign? I notice you have gone out of your way to avoid any approbation for Rush Limbaugh or his comments, but why the "questions" about Michael J. Fox? Or do you feel that once "politics" enters into the picture in any wise, all notions of civility or decency get to be thrown out the window? Or is it only when the issue at hand (Federal funding for stem-cell research, in this case) might reflect poorly on Republicans?

"Maybe Bob Dole could go on television and expose his withered right arm in order to lobby for more veterans benefits"

And if he did so (let's say, for decorum's sake, keeping his sleeve rolled down) - would you criticise him for it?

CB - "exaggerate" has a specific meaning that implies deception. Do you have any evidence that MJF intended to deceive? How is manifesting the symptoms of a disease, regardless of one's state of medication, deceptive? You are speculating about intent based on assumptions about MJF's alternatives without regard to what those alternatives really are. He could appear in the commercials twitching or nearly immobilized, and that's pretty much it. The right apparently thinks he should have appeared without manifesting any symptoms of his disease or side effects of medication, which is clearly impossible. Let's face it - the real issue is that he made a commercial at all, instead of vanishing into the mist like a good little gimp.

Rilkefan posted pretty much exactly what I was going to say, right as I was about to.

Are you now claiming he was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms?

He admitted that very thing when he stood before Congress.

If the "admission" you refer to is what is in Mary's cite upthread, than you are wrong. He did not exaggerate anything, nor did he claim to exaggerate anything. Exactly the opposite, he presented the situation precisely as it actually was.

He did not take his meds, no doubt at the cost of great discomfort to himself, so that his audience could see the symptoms of the disease. No exaggeration.

He told them he was not on his meds. No deception.

Re the campaign ad, I'm asking--not claiming--whether he was deliberately exaggerating

Doesn't seem like a dime's worth of difference to me. Bad form, man.

Fox is sick. His disease forces him to choose between a combination of immobility and spastic tics, and constant uncontrollable motion. Eventually it will kill him. He's not exaggerating anything, what you saw in the ad is what the disease looks like.

Is this really a battle you want to fight?

He did not take his meds, no doubt at the cost of great discomfort to himself, so that his audience could see the symptoms of the disease. No exaggeration.

Some might even label that "courageous".

Maybe Bob Dole could go on television and expose his withered right arm in order to lobby for more veterans benefits. That would be the political simile, no?

Am I the only person who doesn't see any inherent problem with that? Bob Dole lost the use of his arm in combat fair and square. I can think of plenty of policy positions which the condition of his arm combined with his celebrity would (legitimately) help to illustrate on TV. It doesn't seem worth getting worked up over.

And wasn't it Bob Dole who went on TV as a pitchman for Viagra? (To a lack of criticism, I recall - lotta jokes, though, but no public insults!) At least shilling for veterans' benefits would be a worthier cause than merely lining the pockets of Behemoth Pharma.

Bob Dole did go on television and make a pitch for a particular medication. But that was for another withered part of his body.

D'oh, Jay C wins

Oh, for pete's sake.

Quoth the Bird:

Are you now claiming he was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms?

He admitted that very thing when he stood before Congress.

He did no such thing, and he admitted no such thing. Shame on you, Charles.

Shame on you.

Charles has done what bullies and their enablers always try to do: move the converstaion from the bully to a discussion of how the victim is at fault.

Charles, you reason like a twelve-year-old. A not very nice twelve-year-old. I assume that you listen to Rush because you enjoy him. That means you take a vicarious pleasure in bullying. When people object to Rush the Bully's behavior you respond exactly the way the middle school supporters of a middle school bully would respond.
1. Say that everyone does it
2. change the converstaion so that it is about the victim
3. make the victim look bad
4. pretend that the bullying incident is an isolated event and not part of a pattern
5. pretend that it is no reflection on you that you like the bully and rationalize on his behalf.

Would you tolerate this sort of behavior in your daughters? Either the bullying itself or the rationalizing about it?

[Tribalism]

The thing is they presume to lecture us on decency and honor. And morality.

[/Tribalism]

What's going on with that RS thread Slarti links? None of it seems to make any sense.

(And CC, don't close your tribalism tags so quickly -- you're going to need them in the coming months.)

c'mon, now, folks.

You can't act too surprised about the filth spewing out of his mouth now.

He has always carried on this way--maybe you didn't notice how ugly it was over the years, but it was always there, plain to be seen.

It's just that hard times bring it out more clearly.

Still, if you are seeing him more clearly now for what he has always been, then maybe in the long run you'll know better what to make of him.

It's RS; I don't think it's supposed to make sense. They've gone balls-to-the-wall insane and they're in your face about it.

A blast from the past:

Is Rush a credible news source? To the extent that he is conveying news from credible sources, the answer is yes. Does Rush play up facts that enforce his point of view and minimize facts that don’t? Yes. Does he get his facts wrong? At times, yes, but when you’re cranking out 35,000 to 40,000 words per show, it happens. Does Rush make corrections? Yes, which is something his critics seldom point out. By the way, the sheer volume of words and the fact that hosts can later amend, correct and clarify in subsequent shows makes criticism difficult. Also, those who just read transcripts miss important inflections that don’t translate to the written page. Does Rush lie? He may, but it’s hard to know. Does Rush engage in uncivil discourse? Yes, at times, but his usual targets in this regard are the hardcore partisans and those near the margins of the political spectrum. Incidentally, a huge chunk of Rush’s content is pointing out the incivility of the Left, and the examples are legion. Can Rush be polarizing and bullying? Polarizing, yes, but bullying only to the thin-skinned who have a hard time accepting criticism.

See? A bully only to the thin-skinned. Classic. It's the target's fault.

yup.

you're not learning anything from this that wasn't obvious a long time ago.

why he still has the audience he does--and is still admitted into polite company--is beyond me.

Really? You open yourself up to false and ridiculous accusations that you are exaggerating your illness, that you are acting?

Politics these days seems to be all about false and ridiculous accusations. I haven’t seen a campaigne commercial this season that does not have at least some false and ridiculous accusations – from both sides.

Any celeb who inserts themselves into a hot-button policy debate is going to catch flack from one side or the other. I’ve never seem Fox in person, but Limbaugh apparently has – so he has at least some basis for his opinion – wrong as it is. I didn’t read is as wild speculation, I read it as hey, I’ve seen him in public and he does not act that way – why does he look like that on this commercial. Stupid and crass? Yes. But not entirely groundless.


OCSteve says I'm a liberal, so I'm exempt

I believe I said “left of center”. I certainly don’t recall calling you a liberal. I’ve never been able to get search to work here or I would track it down… Maybe it was something like ‘liberal for a military officer’. In any case I apologize if I did call you that and you take offense at it.

I take it kid is talking about Limbaugh here; but given mattbastard's comment immediately above, kid's comment applies to Charles Bird in about the same degree.

Steve,

No offense taken. My comment was meant entirely in jest.

That's all beside the point, it seems to me. The fact that Limbaugh has a predictable pattern of abusive behavior towards anyone who disagrees doesn't make the abusive behavior ok. Fox probably knew he'd be villified. That doesn't lessen how bad the vilifiers are. And anyway the discussion shouldn't be about Fox because he didn't do anything wrong. Rush did something wrong.

OCSteve: "I’ve never been able to get search to work here or I would track it down…"

Try putting "foo bar site:obsidianwings.blogs.com" into google - it works well for me.

Fox probably knew he'd be villified. That doesn't lessen how bad the vilifiers are. And anyway the discussion shouldn't be about Fox because he didn't do anything wrong. Rush did something wrong.

I.e., mocking cripples and sick people. There's a fairly broad line between criticism and mocking, which Limbaugh crossed, with lights flashing and horns a blaring...

You can also use Google's Advanced Search if you can't recall the syntax.

Try putting "foo bar site:obsidianwings.blogs.com" into google - it works well for me

Awesome! Thanks for the tip.

What's going on with that RS thread Slarti links? None of it seems to make any sense.

This statement is true for all n="RS thread."

Charles, you're making less and less sense. In your latest post, you said:

[Ara]I'm really unsure as to why my going off antihistimines to reveal the worst side of the common cold counts as deceptive.

[Charles]Perhaps because common colds, Ara, aren't progressive and irreversible?

What does the severity of the disease have to do with the right way to demonstrate its effects? Ara implied a scenario in which, for some reason, she wished to show how bad the effects of the common cold are. That implied scenario need not include an attempt to make the audience believe that the common cold was progressive or irreversible. Indeed, I am hard put to imagine such a scenario. Her point was, AFAICT, that showing the symptoms of a disease is a good way to show the symptoms of a disease. Whatever those symptoms may happen to be.

And later, you said:
Maybe Bob Dole could go on television and expose his withered right arm in order to lobby for more veterans benefits. That would be the political simile, no?
It would be a more exact analogy (not simile), yes. But since Dole did in fact use his withered arm for political effect (to showcase his heroism), the analogy is reasonably close as is. One claimed illness used for political effect, compared to another claimed illness used for a different political effect. Would you say that the analogy was a poor one because the illnesses were different? Then why do you say it is poor because the political effect is different? Of course, the closer the facts, the more perfect the analogy, but this one works fine without being perfect, as do most analogies.

Finally, you say:
Then it wouldn't have hurt for him to disclose [that he was medicated], Hil. In his 2002 book, he wrote that we went off the meds to exaggerate his movements when he testified before Congress. The can with the worms coming out was opened by him.

I suppose it wouldn't have hurt, but it's hard to see how it would have helped. "Hi, I'm Michael J. Fox, and I'm here on my normal medication, by the way, in case you were wondering, or planning to accuse me of some weird kind of deceit." I mean, huh? Being on his meds is the norm. When he went off them, then it made sense to note that, and he did. And being a normal human being, he probably assumed without even thinking about it that other normal human beings would make the normal, natural assumption that everything was normal.

In other words, you're blaming him for not expressly saying that it was a normal day. Are there any other unbased scandals he should have defused, or any other points of the status quo he should have highlighted? Like, "I'm Michael J. Fox, and I'm on my meds today, as usual. Also, I'm not being impersonated by anybody, and I haven't raped my daughter today. By the way, I haven't been coerced into making this statement, and I'm not under the influence of hypnotic chemicals." We could have ALL public figures make these disclaimers ALL the time -- but why?


Redstate seems to have jumped the gun in their assessment of voter response to the MJF ad:

A new national study revealed that American voters' support for stem cell research increased after they viewed an ad featuring Michael J. Fox in which he expresses his support for candidates who are in favor of stem cell research.

[...]

Among the study findings:

Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.

[...]

Respondents were asked to indicate what candidate they would vote for in the U.S. House of Representatives election if it was held today before and after viewing the ad.

Republicans who indicated that they were voting for a Republican candidate decreased by 10% after viewing the ad (77% to 67%). Independents planning to vote for Democrats increased by 10%, from 39% to 49%.

Right. -- Letting people know the exact effects of one's disease is "exaggeration." It is not exaggeration, it is letting you see the disease unfiltered. Most people do not understand the effects of many chronic and terminal conditions out there. And many people who make no effort to hide those effects are criticized, because failing to hide those effects is really just acting out for sympathy.

This is not a left-right issue, and I see no reason to make it that way. This isn't even an issue of Rush being exceptionally bad. He's only making obvious several attitudes that are common in American society. They are subtler in everyday life, but ever-present.

Redstate seems to have jumped the gun in their assessment of voter response to the MJF ad

It's ok, Rove has assured everyone that the Republicans will hold both houses of Congress this fall so we won't have to start our long, slow, march back to the national nightmare of peace and prosperity for at least two more years.

Well, the left (or Harold Ford Jr., at least) does march to the
beat of a different (tom tom) drummer - just ask the RNC.

OT: feeling too cheery? go read How To Steal An Election.

We could have ALL public figures make these disclaimers ALL the time -- but why?

because then people would have nothing at all to complain about, ever. utopia!

Thank you Mary for so clearly correcting our Charles Bird. To rephrase Charles' opening line; just what this site needs, another right wing commentator who can't get the facts straight.

Thank you mattttbastard for the wonderful quote in which Charles reminds us of how "factual" Limbaugh is. Limbaugh deliberately distorts facts, or just plain makes them up, every day on his show and essentially never corrects himself (even when he does, as he did with Fox, it is accompanied with another bogus remark to show he is still allegedly right in a larger sense).

It is nuts to claim that Fox, who told Congress during his testimony that he had deliberately not taken his medications so that the full effect of his disease would be apparent, is in fact "exaggerating" and somehow had to "admit" that he had done this sneaky thing. Right. I am waiting for Charles to do his best immitation of Limbagh admitting to factual error and correcting himself........

Plus the simple fact that the medications, at the current stage of his disease which is several years after his appearance in Congress, now causes the symptoms. Without the meds, he freezes up and can barely move (or speak) at all. Wa Post: "Contrary to the charge that Fox might not take his medicine to enhance his symptoms, the medicine produces some of the uncontrolled body movements."

Plus he made the same sort of commercial for Arlen Specter a few years ago, and for some reason Limbaugh and his sycophants saw no reason to complain.

So dear righty commentators, tell me why its OK for Specter but not for McCaskill? Or were those silly Dems just too slow to figure out that the sick and infirm are fair game should they dare to speak out?
______

And Seder's appearance with Olberman in the video linked by Hilzoy is pretty clear and mild stuff (Seder can be off the wall -- he was not at all in that segment). He makes an essential point about Limbaugh and the effectiveness of his hate speech -- that it serves as a device to enable his listeners to insulate themselves from facts. Let's make fun of sick people and baselessly accuse them of deceit rather than talk about the issue of stem cell research, which involves all those inconvenient facts.

And the tactic works -- so much of the news coverage is now about the alleged "reaction" to Fox's commercial and about the charge by Limbaugh that he's just "acting" (with little commentary on how false and dishonest that charge is. "Balance" does not permit it.)

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