If we had the media that we used to have, before Reagan and the privatization of the public's air waves, this week would have been a terrific opportunity to inform the public about Parkinson's disease.
The treatments available for treating Parkinson's aren't cures and come with trade-offs and side effects. The drugs for Parkinson's are a bitch, just as the disease itself is. The drugs are toxic. They were never meant to be taken long term - they're 'stop gap' measures, meaning that living with Parkinson's is so difficult that you're willing to take chemicals that can kill you while researchers look for alternative therapies and treatments. The drugs not only affect the patient physically, but mentally. It's not like taking an aspirin for a headache and within 15 minutes the headache is gone and you're fine. The drugs can cause extreme mood swings, mental confusion, hallucinations.
The drugs don't work for everyone either; what works for one Parkinson's patient may not do a thing for another. The dosage levels need to be carefully titrated and monitored for each patient. A patient's dosage level can change frequently - the amount that worked yesterday may not work today or any longer. The drugs stop working altogether for as many as 75% of Parkinson's patients within 5-10 years.
For patients who are severely afflicted and don't respond to the pharmaceuticals (or have exhausted the drug 'smorgasbord'), there is brain surgery. Brain surgery is also not a cure, but can help to control the symptoms. If you've got a good, experienced surgeon who knows what he or she is doing. Cutting into the body, cutting into the brain, is not a treatment that a patient decides to do casually. Particularly in today's American health care system. But what's the alternative to the chronic soreness, pain, exhaustion of muscles and joints that are in constant motion (or rigid and non-responsive), a body that you can no longer control?
Michael J. Fox has already had the brain surgery. There are not a whole lot of options left for him.
In the course of writing this, Michael J. Fox has responded to Limbaugh:
Fox said that his mother, Phyllis, was with him while he taped the 30-second spots and was telling people backstage that her son was "trying so hard to be still."
"The irony is that I was too medicated," the four-time Emmy winner said. "Because the thing about…being symptomatic is that it's not comfortable. No one wants to be symptomatic; it's like being hit with a hammer.
"At this point now, if I didn't take medication I wouldn't be able to speak."
Railing against Rush Limbaugh is like blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog: Limbaugh is what he is.
Amoral corporations, unrestricted and unregulated, flush with bucks, pay Limbaugh hundreds of millions of dollars to say what the corporations' politicians can't say without getting tossed out of power. Rush Limbaugh is bought and paid for by the Republican party, to influence a particular class of voter that Republicans couldn't reach any other way.
So how does the party that calls itself "the party of life" counter an ad by a beloved icon of conservatives ('Alex P. Keaton'), without exposing themselves as the greedy, callous, insensitive "party of 'you can die as soon as we get your vote'" bastards we know them to be?
They trot out their 'tried and true' formula:
1.) Create an emotionally chaotic backdrop against which rational discussion and clear thinking can't take place,
2.) Prepare a disinformation campaign about both their candidate's position and the subject itself, and
3.) Hit the 'send' on the fax machines with prepared talking points to all of Republican spokesmen around the country.
If you dusted Michael J. Fox for fingerprints, you wouldn't find anybody's fingerprints but Limbaugh's. But the thumbprint of Jim Talent, by virtue of his being the beneficiary of this 'swiftboating,' is on the "launch" button. The only way to put an end to this kind of politics is to throw the bums out.
But I fear that it may be too late for that, too.
If Republicans intend to steal this election as they stole the last two (by hacking the electronic voting machines, on top of all of the Republicans' other efforts to decrease the Democratic ballots), the Republican base has to show up at the polls in full force. That's the only way that Rove (or whoever has been designated to actually do the tampering) can hide it. It can only be done with a massive turnout of the base.
I've been listening to cable news show pundits talking for days, about "What a mistake these ads/controversies (the Corker ads about Harold Ford, the Limbaugh comments about Michael J. Fox, Patricia Heaton, etc.) are for Republicans," because "They're not going to win over the undecideds."
None of this is for the undecideds. These are for the base, the reliable Republican voter, who is planning on not voting at all, because of the Foley scandal, and Ney-Delay-Abramoff-Cunningham, et al, and the war in Iraq. And these ads are also for those who would vote Republican, if they could be relied on to get to the polls. These are the voters who fall between the cracks, who don't go to church regularly, if at all, so they're not on the Republicans' 'Get Out the Vote' phone tree efforts on Election Day. But once they see the Corker ad ("There's an uppity Negro who has come to town, and has his eye on your woman"), nothing is going to prevent them from getting to the polls this year.
The ads, the Limbaugh/Fox controversy, is all keeping the base on board, motivated, to getting them to the polls. Karl Rove is done trying to create more Republican voters - he'll take care of that in the privacy of the Diebold software on Election Day.
What, if anything, are the Democrats doing to prevent it or expose it?
I am so ready for Republicans, of every degree (and that includes the DLC Democrats), to leave the stage. I'm ready for 'the new politics.'
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