Article

THREE ITEMS TO PONDER: IS ADDICTION A ‘DISEASE?’ (ANSWER, NO) … DO STATE LAWMAKERS CARE ABOUT TAXPAYERS (ANSWER, NO) … and … WHAT WAS NUCIFORO THINKING WHEN HE COMMITTED LITERARY THEFT? (RICHIE NEAL AND BILL SHEIN AREN’T WONDERING, THAT’S FOR SURE)

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, AUG. 16, 2012) — Today, THE PLANET presents three local items for your digestion. The Pepto Abyssmal is on the house.

First, though, let me say that we had an extensive interview yesterday on the Spectrum situation with Mayor Dan Bianchi. On Friday, we shall give you our exclusive report. What he reveals will add new knowledge to what has been a volatile situation, including how the Boring Broadsheet got a crucial part of the story wrong. You won’t want to miss that. Also, we shall hear from Our Right Honorable Good Friend Melissa Mazzeo on the hawkers-vendors situation, duked out last night at city hall. A call to John Krol has not been returned. Mazzeo and Krol were on opposite sides of the heated debate. There are more surprises as well. Be sure to get your PLANET tomorrow.

Now, the three items:

ITEM 1 — IS ADDICTION (OF ANY KIND) A ‘DISEASE’?

The answer is “yes” and No — the “yes” requires quotation marks for a nonliteral use while the No does not need them, with a capital “n”.

There are many diseases that people contract, and we suppose, strictly speaking, no malady or affliction springs from nowhere and nothing. We all cause whatever happens to our body.

Strictness aside, however, we can agree that what we generally think of as “disease” — cancer, Parkinson’s, flu, and the like — happens despite people’s best intentions. “Disease” as it has been understood for centuries up to but not including the age of present-day political correctness refers to the maladjustment of the body in a defensive response to a detrimental condition that one does not contract nor keep by virtue of conscious choice. You don’t choose to get a cold in the same way that you choose to risk AIDS by deliberately practicing unsafe sex or sharing a hypodermic needle.

Health is a Conscious Choice of Improving the Odds in Your Favor

No one wants to get such a condition, and those of us who respect our bodies and bring to life an intelligent approach to diet, exercise, and situation will not — for example — smoke cigarettes, eat too much fried food, and avoid downtown Pittsfield after dark. We will not engage in dangerous activity, shoot a used needle into our veins, or drive 100 mph without wearing a seatbelt.

We will make the best possible choices so we can increase not only the odds against contracting disease but also the state of our health. There are no guarantees, of course, as in the case of a person who smokes every day into their 90s who remains in good health. We will, though, look both ways before crossing the street, limit the amount of fat and fast food in our diet, and do curls with dumbells (no jokes please) each day.

Health, perhaps the great gift of all on this earth, is a crap shoot, but that doesn’t mean you don’t play the game — or do everything you can to tilt the odds in your favor instead of the house’s.

When you do all that but you contract an illness, that is disease.

When the Choice is Bad, the Chances are You Will Pay the Consequences by Inducing Poor Health — But That is not ‘a Disease’

But what about someone who knowingly and of free will ingests a potentially harmful or even fatal substance — the chain smoker, the heroin addict, the alcoholic?  Do they have a “disease?” Does a person who swallows a cup of Drano have a disease after he or she collapses and lands in the hospital for a month?

After a certain amount of bodily abuse, of course, the answer is “yes.” They have what mimicks a “disease.” Left unabated — that is, if these people continue to decide to smoke, shoot up, and drink — their bodies will manifest those choices, and not for the better. They will come down with conditions that look, behave, and feel like “disease.” However, there’s still the decision that a person makes. How can one be considered diseased when they have decided for themselves that they wish to be sick? That is the moral aspect of personal choice that our politically correct age chooses not to acknowledge.

We all know from the recent community forum on the methadone clinic Spectrum Health Services will build in Pittsfield — in the Yon Building on Summer Street, as THE PLANET predicted many days before it happened — that the city has a drug problem.

According to Hilary Jacobs of the state public health department, Pittsfield has “a critical need” for a methadone clinic. Think about that. Jacobs is saying that the city has a heroin problem that has grown to plague proportion, so large that the state finds itself law-bound to order Pittsfield to install a methadone clinic. Guess that just about does it for any talk of a “renaissance,” eh? Jacobs said “more than 100″ Pittsfield residents now travel 50 miles each way to get their methadone fix. That’s the visible number. How many more addicts are quietly shooting up each day that we don’t know about?

The Myth of ‘Disease’ via ‘Victimization’

Jennifer Michaels, medical director of the Brien Center, employs current safe-speak when speaking of addicts: “Addiction is an equal opportunity disease. People who have this disease have a bad disease but for the most part aren’t bad people.”

Right. We’re talking heroin addicts here. Granted, there might be the occasional doctor or CEO shooting up on horse, but for the most part the stereotyped heroin user fits the bill to describe heroin users in actuality: down-and-outers who have sidestepped reality for a brief, not-so-cheap euphoric thrill, humans being who have elected to wallow in the dregs. Some of these people, that is those who recognize the nature of choice and free will, use that same intellectual process fueled by moral force to decide to get out of their sad condition. They choose to get well, and they do.

Unfortunately, America has bought big time into Victimization, a cultural phenomenon that has been Writ Large so many times and for nearly a generation now that most people unquestioningly accept the statement: “Addiction is a disease.”

By calling addiction a “disease,” we create victims. In turn, “victims” get let off the moral hook. They don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. When you’re a victim, it’s not your fault. We don’t have drunk drivers. We have people who are “under the influence of alcohol.” The euphemistic phrasing takes them off the hook for a set of lousy choices.

A methadone dispensing station at a clinic. (becauseilive.hubpages.com)

Of course the medical community — Spectrum, Berkshire Health Systems, and the like — is going to tell us addiction is a “disease.” They stand to gain the most in redefining what was once a perfectly descriptive (and ascriptive) word: “disease.”

Now anything you say you can’t stop doing is a “disease.” We have porn addicts, Frito addicts, hording addicts, Facebook addicts, video game addicts, and X addicts (X santding for whatever you want to put in there). All these people, to use current parlance, have a disease. Poor them. They don’t have to take action. They must be treated. That is the standard Medical model of illness that violates the first clause of the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.”

The medical community likes this nonsense because it generates profits, as we have seen in the case of Spectrum Health Systems, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the affiliated medical-pharmacology-insurance industrial complex cares first about the bottom line and only secondarily about the health of people.

A methadone clinic, for example, would never want heroin addiction to go away, because that’s their customer base.

While you can lick heroin simply by not taking the next hit, you can’t stop cancer by a mere choice. If that were the case, no one would have the disease. You can stop addition by choosing not to have another cigarette, another injection, another vodka and tonic. CAn the so-called addictive brain do that? The best science says “yes,” it can. The best science discounts the “addictive brain” that creates victims and herds them into the cottage industry of Recovery.

Here is some useful information from the website cleanslate.org:

Real Disease Versus the Disease Concept of Drug Addiction

In a true disease, some part of the body is in a state of abnormal physiological functioning, and this causes the undesirable symptoms.  In the case of cancer, it would be mutated cells which we point to as evidence of a physiological abnormality, in diabetes we can point to low insulin production or cells which fail to use insulin properly as the physiological abnormality which create the harmful symptoms.  If a person has either of these diseases, they cannot directly choose to stop their symptoms or directly choose to stop the abnormal physiological functioning which creates the symptoms.  They can only choose to stop the physiological abnormality indirectly, by the application of medical treatment, and in the case of diabetes, dietetic measures may also indirectly halt the symptoms as well (but such measures are not a cure so much as a lifestyle adjustment necessitated by permanent physiological malfunction).

from the NIDA’s “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior”

In addiction, there is no such physiological malfunction.  The best physical evidence put forward by the disease proponents falls totally flat on the measure of representing a physiological malfunction.  This evidence is the much touted brain scan[1].  The organization responsible for putting forth these brain scans, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Addiction (NIDA), defines addiction in this way:

Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.  It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain – they change it’s structure and how it works.  These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

They are stating outright that the reason addiction is considered a disease is because of the brain changes evidenced by the brain scans they show us, and that these changes cause the behavior known as addiction, which they characterize as “compulsive drug seeking and use”.  There are two ways in which this case for the disease model falls apart:

  • the changes in the brain which they show us are not abnormal at all
  • there is no evidence that the behavior of addicts is compulsive (compulsive means involuntary)

This all applies equally to “alcoholism” as well.  If you’re looking for information on alcoholism, the same theories and logic discussed here are applicable; wherever you see the term addiction used on this site, it includes alcoholism.

We can build one, two, or ten methadone clinics in Pittsfield. The number of heroin (and certainly methadone) addicts won’t go down. It will likely increase. Do we dare begin calling addiction what it is: Not compulsive behavior of innocent victims, as the unproven assertions of the politically correct use of “disease” would have us believe, but a decision one makes? It doesn’t get any simpler than that: Addiction is a choice a person makes. Only that, and nothing more.

———————————————————————-

ITEM TWO: IS BEACON HILL SERIOUS ABOUT SPENDING CUTS?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Caught in the act of feeling your pain.

The answer is no. Each budget cycle, Gov. Deval Patrick and the 85%-controlled Democratic legislature play a little game. The governor makes a few token cuts so that when he introduces his budget for the first time or when he gets out his veto pen (the one with invisible ink), he can make it look good for the unwashed masses, for whom he has little respect. With great fanfare, Patrick will tell Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski how he feels their pain. Then he heads west on the Pike to Richmond and his multi-million mansion.

When the house and senate, however, vote the budget into law, they restore those cuts. Unlike  the governor’s big deal, Our Profiles in Courage on Beacon Hill will not peep a word about their override, because they are counting on you not paying attention. For the most part, they are right in betting on constituent apathy, that that is the one sure bet in the game of politics.

A couple examples of many can be plucked out for mention.

(1) By veto, Patrick cut $10 million in pay hikes from human service workers earning less than $40,000 a year. Lawmakers wanted a $20 million hike, and they restored every dime the governor nixed.

(2) Here’s an even better one. Patrick vetoed  a line item calling for $18.513 million to be spent on something called “fire services.” The guv said, let’s make it $16.763 million (nod nod, wink wink), a “reduction” of $1.75 million. Yup. Lawmakers restored every dime. What is the purpose of the money? What vital service does it provide? Answer: Bureaucracy, administration, and overhead. In other words, make-work jobs for the “connected.”

Naturally, on both these items, our Right Honorable Good Friends Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Paul Mark, Smitty Pignatelli, Schoolmarm Gail Cariddi, and Sen. Ben Downing voted to add every dime to the taxpayers’ backs.

Oh, by the way, Downing did vote “no” on a proposal to reduce to state sales tax from 6.25% to 5.6% on Aug. 1, 2013, and to 5% on Aug. 1, 2014. Naturally.

—————————————————–

ITEM THREE: ANDY NUCIFORO GETS OUT THE ERASER 

In this day of cut-and-paste, it’s easy to lift material from any electronic source. Nonetheless, the rules of plagiarism apply. Use of anything other than your own ideas and your own words requires attribution. As the Professor knows, we have never been more at risk for cheating than in this electronic age.

"Yes, Modern Language Association? Yes, this is Andy Nuciforo. Say, i'm have a couple questions regarding citation format ..."

Congressional candidate Andrea Nuciforo, who is running against incumbent Richard Neal and newcomer Bill Shein for the Democratic nomination on Sept. 6, faced long odds even under the most optimistic of scenarios. Outspent, outraised, and with a fraction of Neal’s inside-the-beltway clout or district-wide name recognition, Nuciforo’s only chance was to pitch a no-hitter in the campaign … or at least a three-hit shutout. He needed to come up big in nearly every choice. Instead, with Liftgate, he has committed campaign hari kari.

Instead of using the precious little time, money, and energy he has left giving Neal his best, Nuciforo had to go back into his position statements and get the eraser out. He had to spend his dwindling resources to weed out the stolen texts. It’s a major gaffe in the campaign, one that will be used by voters other than diehard supporters as evidence that Andy’s not ready for prime time.

BILL SHEIN: Blew the whistle on Nuciforo's literary theft.

Ned Oliver‘s piece on Tuesday’s Boring Broadsheet quotes Nuciforo taking “full responsibility for the oversight.” At least he has done that much.  Oliver noted that Shein — a writer, incidentally, who did his profession proud in catching Nuciforo’s “lifting” act — first identified Andy’s transgression.

According to Oliver, Nuciforo on Thursday denounced Shein’s accusations as “desperate politics.” In the intervening several day, however, reality apparently caught up with Nuciforo. A simple comparison between Nuciforo’s statements and those of other politicians, notably John Edwards, Alan Khazei, and Stacey Lawson, showed words that were too close for comfort.

RICHIE NEAL: In The Ol' Redhead's proverbial 'catbird's seat'

On Friday, Oliver reports, Nuciforo spokesman Patrick Tool, in his own version of “The Amateur Hour,”  blamed a former Team Nuciforo staff member for the plagiarism, nothing that “a pretty big team … worked on the website.”

In this lame statement made to the Springfield Republican, Tool made it much worse for his boss. Any reasonable person will ask: “You mean to say Nuciforo had so many people writing his own position statements that he didn’t realize what was happening? If a guy can’t manage that, how will he fare in Congress?”

Tool continued to dig the hole deeper for Nuciforo, not responding to the BB’s request for further comment on Monday of this week. He then told the Boston Globe, according to Oliver’s story, that the changes Nuciforo made to the website “were minor. It was basically just a citation issue.” Sure, kid — that’s why the site looks like a piece of Swiss cheese after the rats on the moon got through with it.

It’s never the original sin, is it? It’s always the coverup that gets people in trouble. THE PLANET endorsed Nuciforo early on in this campaign. In light of this development, we withdraw that support and are giving it to Shein, who, unlike Nuciforo, has his credibility intact. Shein is an outsider, a non-politician, and a man of  intelligence.

His website describes him as “A writer and progressive activist who knows, as we all do, that we can’t keep doing things the same way.” [Shein's italics]. We urge you to explore his website at billshein.com.

——————————————————–

THOUGH THE WARM WINDS IN THE BLUE SKY SHINE, THE GREEN HILLS AND THE SHADY TREES STILL CAN BE SEEN. SUCH ARE THE ALLEVIATIONS OF OUR STATE.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

12 Responses to “THREE ITEMS TO PONDER: IS ADDICTION A ‘DISEASE?’ (ANSWER, NO) … DO STATE LAWMAKERS CARE ABOUT TAXPAYERS (ANSWER, NO) … and … WHAT WAS NUCIFORO THINKING WHEN HE COMMITTED LITERARY THEFT? (RICHIE NEAL AND BILL SHEIN AREN’T WONDERING, THAT’S FOR SURE)”

  1. Levitan
    August 16, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    Dan, it’s a shame to see you take the common and low road on the difficult and tragic condition of chemical addiction by attempting to use arguments of life-style to distinguish it from disease.

    All I can say is that the State and Federal Governments for a very long time now have taken the higher road.

    By the way, you can say that all pharmaceutical industries would suffer should we eliminate cancer, flu, and other diseases from the population at large. Yours is a false distinction.

    My biggest issue, though, is that you risk leading the gullible portion of readership down this road of knee-jerk response and bigotry only to add harm to the afflicted.

    • New to PV
      August 16, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Levitan,

      Your defense of the “tragic condition of chemical addition” as disease rather than the natural and expected results from conscious choice and deliberate action makes you, not Mr. Valenti, the gullible one.

      • New to PV
        August 16, 2012 at 7:49 am #

        Leviton,

        Another quick note – most pedophiles and wife beaters claim that they cannot control their actions and are also “afflicted by disease”. Are you going to go on the record defending those people, classifying them as victims and vilifying their “knee-jerks” critics as well?

        • Levitan
          August 16, 2012 at 8:04 am #

          Ridiculous comparisons do not an argument make.

          Pedophiles abuse others for their own satisfaction.

          Heroin addicts (not sex-abusers, not gambling addicts, or other non-heroin addicts) have a brain conditioned to the continuous exposure to opoids. Methadone is designed to treat that conditioning.

          • Levitan
            August 16, 2012 at 8:18 am #

            Footnote to response:

            All people, aliens, citizens, addicted people, cancer patients, etc… are legally responsible for their actions. No one advocates giving heroin addicts a get-out-of-jail Free Card for crimes committed associated with their affliction.

          • danvalenti
            August 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

            LEV
            New to PV makes a valid distinction. This discussion is of “addiction,” not “addiction to [name the specific substance or action]. “Addiction” to porn, to wife beating, to tanning, to heroin: The process is the same. Please review the brain studies we have cited.

    • New to PV
      August 16, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Levitan,

      Your defense of the “tragic condition of chemical addition” as disease rather than the natural and expected results from conscious choice and deliberate action makes you, not Mr. Valenti, the gullible one.

    • danvalenti
      August 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      LEV
      My response is neither knee-jerk nor an attempt to appeal to the LDC. Mine is the high road (no pun intended) because I am giving full credit to the will, whose full standing as a determinant force the science of the brain well bears out. There also are no false distinctions. You may make that claim of course, but it’s toothless since you do not specify. The afflicted, that’s good. That’s the “victimization” by another word.

      • Levitan
        August 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

        No, Dan, I said ‘afflicted’ not ‘victimized.’ Victimization generally refer to the habit of blaming shortcoming on imagined persecution. Affliction, in this case, refers to pathology.

        Drug addiction is a disease, and the effect of heroin on the brain is biological and physical. You have yet to argue why how the afflicted got in that situation matters.

        Imagine one day you need to piss something bad, and you do. We would both agree that you suffer a disease. Imagine then you wake one day and discover, Kafka-like, that you cannot get through the day without being loaded on a substance which ruins your capacity to function. Again, we would agree you are diseased. In neither case do we discuss if you are a good person, a bad person, or just a screwed person (which characterizes every person.)

        • danvalenti
          August 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

          LEV
          You are actually referred to “infliction,” which of the pathology that occurs when one decides, of the free will, to engage in behavior that is likely to be harmful. Hoe the “inflicted” get in their situation is, in almost all cases, the result of bad behavior in which they choose to indulge. We need not discuss the personhood. We only need to look at the behavior, as long as the actions are not committed under duress.

      • Levitan
        August 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

        Almost forgot – the Will is essential to overcoming all chronic illnesses – bringing that concept into play is helpful.

        I use the phrase “knee-jerk’ as that describes a broad spectrum (pun intended) of the attitudes towards Spectrum, heroin addiction (including who those people tend to be), and how the city approaches the problem. Score one for knee-jerk politics by the Ruberto Admin cost us $100,000 (not counting interest if it’s a factor.)

        • danvalenti
          August 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

          LEV
          ” … a broad spectrum (pun intended) …” Nicely done.