Why Slots Are Better Than Pills

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Ostensibly defending Rush Limbaugh in yesterday's New York Times, former drug czar Bill Bennett simultaneously asserts his own moral superiority:

That Mr. Limbaugh, with his advocacy of stiff punishment for drug offenders, would himself admit to a long-term addiction was evocative of the situation that Mr. Bennett was in earlier this year. One of the nation's pre-eminent moral crusaders, Mr. Bennett acknowledged that he had set a poor example by "too much gambling."

Nonetheless, Mr. Bennett sought in the interview to distinguish his own shortcomings from the conduct of Mr. Limbaugh, a close friend who has dined at his home…."Not an addiction," Mr. Bennett said of his own actions, as if ticking off a list of talking points, "not a problem, no therapy, gambling too much, stopped it."

It does not take a law or philosophy degree (both of which Bennett has) to see the contradiction between admitting "too much gambling" and insisting that it's "not a problem." If it's excessive, it's a problem by definition.

Perhaps Bennett means the only problem was one of public perception. But then he is admitting to forsaking his own sense of right and wrong so that other people will think well of him. Limbaugh might have some advice for him on that score.

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  1. Has anyone ever mentioned to Mr. Christian Morality that gluttony is a sin? That would be my first question to fat moralists like Bennett and Falwell.

  2. I hate to get in the position of defending Bill Bennett, but you might want to re-read this and notice just how stupid and essentially anti-libertarian what you just wrote really sounds.

    Let’s translate for a moment:

    “Too much gambling” because it was getting to be a pain in the ass to deal with the morons who wanted to make it an issue, but it was “not a problem” because I wasn’t addicted and so made a free choice to give up something that I otherwise enjoy. I needed “no therapy” because I was both gambling and choosing not to gamble as a free man, not under any psychological compulsion, so when I chose to, I “stopped it.”

  3. Charlie,

    Read Jacob’s last paragraph.

  4. “not a problem, no therapy, gambling too much, stopped it.”

    I believe that is what they call “denial” yes?

  5. If by “they” you mean idiots who call any negegative statement a denial, then yes, this would be what “they” call denial. But then, to disagree would also be denial. YesNo?

  6. So Rush need rehab while Bennet just went cold turkey-

    but then, I always knew Rush was a wuss- what real man picks on little girls?

  7. Too much is always better than not enough.

  8. Rush is a total wuss. He never debates, and never allows outside callers on his show unless they are “dittoheads”. He creates a little fantasy world where everyone agrees with him because he is so brilliant.

  9. he should have been proud to go to jail, to show he wasn’t willing to rest on the laurels of his fame, fortune or melanin-deficiency, and willing to take the lumps he proscribed for others for so many years. nothing builds character like prison rape, after all.

  10. and what kind of person chooses to call himself a “dittohead” anyway? “I just agree with what the voice on the radio tells me.”

  11. Ditto Joe. DOH!

  12. Jacob’s error is assuming that saying something is “not a problem” is contrary to saying one was doing “too much” of it.

    But is that so? I mean, when I say that something is “not a problem” in my life, I mean it isn’t harming me. But that doesn’t mean that I have my life properly balanced. I watch “too much” football, but my football watching is “not a problem.”

    Why can’t Jacob see that?

  13. There’s always been something vaugely creepy about the relationship between Limbaugh and his mentor, Bill Bennett. It’s like Bennett plays the schoolyard bully, while Limbaugh is the punk who stands behind him and eggs him on…

  14. Well Thomas, if you think you watch “too much” football, that means there’s a “problem” of some sort in my book. You admit that your life is not properly balanced. So you have a “problem,” no? Your position seems nonsensical.

  15. the bottom line for me
    is that if I had done what Rush had done
    I would be in jail RIGHT NOW

  16. Ok Thomas, I’ve read your arguments; anyone saying an activity has become a “problem” will cause reasonable others to conclude that said activity is interfering with their life priorities. If Rush’s pill popping did not interfere with his life priorities, anymore than watching football a lot does, why shoud he quit(besides the fact that it is illegal)?

    For Bennett to say gambling had become a problem STRONGLY implies it was harming him in some way: “I have a drinking problem” means, to reasonable people, that the drinking is interfering with that person’s life, Duh.

    And say, If Bennett had toked a few in Amsterdam, would he have credibility as a former Drug Czar and premier moralist? I mean hell, it is legal, in Amsterdam. Or is seeking out venues where “vice” one agitates against is legal all that is necessary to retain the patina of saintliness and ward off charges of hypocrisy? Puh-leeeze.

  17. Cthus: don’t be a dope. I hate ties. I none the less wear a suit and tie when I visit a new client.

    I suppose that I’m forsaking my own sense of right and wrong in doing so; none the less, I don’t find that I can get very excited about it. Bennett saying that he’s doing “too much gambling” doesn’t mean he’s necessarily got “a gambling problem” in the sense in which that phrase is normally used. People who insist that “too much” equals “a problem” are indulging in a subtle equivocation of the general meaning of “problem” and the sense in which we idiomatically use it to mean “addicted.”

    Now, if we find out six months from now that Bennett is playing high-stakes baccquerat under an assumed name in Baden-Baden, then I’d figure he’s got “a problem”. Under the current conditions, that would put him in the position of self-destructively relapsing … and that sounds like addiction.

  18. It matters not if these fat old men have problems or not, what matters is that they are telling the american public “Do as I say, not as I do”.

    And public laws are being fashioned by their hypocrisy.

  19. Mark, I don’t think that living a less than perfect life–a life where I watch football on some Sundays, for example, instead of working on the house, or volunteering, or studying latin–means I’m harming myself in any way. There are different concepts at work there. And the simple fact that people ordinarily talk as in my example points out the difference.

  20. I believe that the appeal of people like Limbaugh is in what they represent. One is in just plain disbelief to look at him, his actions and everything smug about him and face the realization that it is real. He is simple. He is not entertaining but boring. There is no wit in name calling. He has returned to the airwaves with a headline on his radio show titled “no hypocrisy here” which is either plain denial or just the same political spin that deviates negative and earned attention away from the offender, himself. He is an obvious glutton and only a person such as him would use his situation of absolute embarrassment and hypocrisy to continue bashing everything that isn’t Republican. It is the same unoriginal boring diatribes that entertain the same boring conservative followers that pay his immensely unjustified salary.

    One needs to look no further than the meta-analysis study that came out in The American Psychological Association Bulletin that studied the personality traits of Limbaugh and Hitler amongst others who have a “fear of ambiguity, need for control, intolerance of others, anger, fear, need for control.” His representation is well known and one needn’t look no further than the story in Newsweek on him. A man boy who was smother mothered and alienated by others. He was unpopular and not well-liked. He is a simple man who represents a stereotype and that of his followers. His focus is on his money, selfishness versus selflessness, gluttony. He does not know what altruism is and it is ingrained in his personality disorder that is exacerbated by his inferiority complex. People like Limbaugh are intensely attached to tangibles. His money, his taxes, his multi-million dollar mansion etc etc. If he wasn’t an ultra-conservative he would have used his wealth to be a philanthropist. Instead he wastes his time like a child with childlike words and behaviors on radio with one-sided talk that has no room for critical thinking. His followers are called “ditto-heads” which is and of itself comical and again, boring. At least Franken has wit and invokes the creative mind.

    Dr. David Guenette

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