“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Don Imus, His Loopy Wife, Junk Science, Autism and Intimidation.

Too many Americans and too many politicians are far too impressed with celebrities. Actors are asked to testify before Congress on subjects in which they are emotionally involved, with no regard to their actual qualifications. It happens all the time and it is stupid but harmless. Unfortunately, this is not true in all cases. Don Imus and his wife are the exception to the rule. His wife Deidre Imus is particularly unqualified to pick up most of the causes of true junk science, which is her specialty, but that doesn't dissuade her because she is married to the “Joseph McCarthy” of broadcast radio. Imus, a notorious broadcast thug hides behind his microphone dressed as a cowboy in his New York, actually New Jersey, broadcast studio. He makes a living shaking people down for money for his ranch for kids with cancer, and scaring the politicians that come into his sites and ire. He packs heat, carries a hundred thousand plus in cash in his briefcase and hides behind lawyers and bodyguards and goes from limo to private jet accompanied by a retinue of sycophants. He is merciless in his diatribes and all in all a loathsome human being. He also has a very popular program, makes a lot of money, and is very, very rich.

A recent cause of the Imus family has been autism. Imus and his wife have been trying to get legislation passed that will increase funding for autism research, a worthy cause, but sullied by his methods. His favorite method is character assassination. His current target is Congressman Joe Barton of Texas. Barton has claimed the case Imus is trying to make has not been proven, so Imus has been throwing tantrums and tirades over Barton. Well, it seems that there has been some research that claims watching excessive amounts of television at an early age may be the cause. The articles are following and maybe another tantrum from the I-man will head our way.

Radio host Don Imus pressures Rep. Joe Barton over autism
By Maria Recio
McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Two weeks of relentless rants against him from radio talk show host Don Imus is making Rep. Joe Barton a household name - but not in a way the Texas Republican wants.

Imus, whose "Imus in the Morning" program is heard on radio stations across much of the country and is seen weekday mornings on MSNBC, has described Barton as "a lying, fat little skunk from Texas," a "pipsqueak," a "coward and a crybaby" and "another congressional dirtbag" for holding up a bill on autism research.

Imus' emotional outbursts, as well as an orchestrated pressure campaign directed at Barton by autism research advocacy groups, stem from frustration that a Senate-passed bill didn't come up for a House of Representatives vote before Congress recessed Sept. 29.

The bill would increase and coordinate National Institutes of Health funding, set up far-ranging clinical studies and direct autism "centers of excellence" to conduct research, especially on environmental factors.

Barton said through his staff that it's possible a compromise will be reached to allow the bill to move ahead.

Autism, a neurological disorder that affects children by age 3 and impairs the development of social interaction and communication, now occurs in 1 of 166 births. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control declared that autism was at epidemic proportions.

Autism research advocates, including one organization headed by Imus' wife, Deirdre, are united behind the Combating Autism Act of 2006, which the Senate passed unanimously in August. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., authored the bill.

They hoped for quick House action on a similar bill introduced by Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif. Bono's bill has 227 co-sponsors, but before getting to the full House, it has to clear the Energy and Commerce Committee, which Barton leads.

Barton's staff members say his position is more complicated than critics portray. They say the congressman supports autism research and is sympathetic to the toll the disease takes on families. Barton was traveling and was unavailable for an interview.

According to committee spokesman Larry Neal, Barton first was committed to passing his legislation to change the NIH, the agency responsible for overseeing the nation's health research. The bill increases NIH funding by 5 percent a year and is intended to improve accountability and information sharing in the agency, among other things.

One of Barton's priorities was to create a "common fund" that the NIH could use for promising research without Congress directing the money's use for specific diseases.

Barton met with autism activists on Sept. 12 and asked them to support his NIH legislation. Autism advocates thought their bill would be next in line to clear Barton's committee.

While the NIH reform bill passed the House 412-2, the separate autism bill hit a snag - Barton didn't like the Senate bill's stipulation that the centers of excellence investigate environmental factors.

The autism bill has yet to make it to the House floor, and the activists say they feel betrayed.

But Barton and his aides say they're working to get a compromise to the floor in the lame-duck session, which begins Nov. 13.

Neal is clearly weary of the pounding and strong-arming Barton is getting from powerful players such as Bob Wright, the president of NBC/Universal who, with his wife, founded Autism Speaks.

"The answer to everyone's concerns is a reasonable compromise that will up the funding for autism research," Neal said.

"We hope and believe that one is possible, and we're working on it. Folks like Don Imus and Bob Wright apparently believe that the intimidation of a daily beating will encourage us to find a solution that leaves politicians and activists instead of scientists in charge at NIH, but that doesn't seem like a good idea."

The issue is emotional, with many activists touched by friends or family with the disorder. Wright, who has been involved in negotiations with Barton, has a grandson who is autistic.

Imus said in an interview that he and his wife weren't directly affected by autism, but that they're close to the Wrights and know others who must cope with the disorder.

"It deserves to be passed," Imus said of the bill. "The NIH has got to be made to spend the money on this."

Imus said his personal campaign on the bill "doesn't help my ratings."

"People aren't tuning in to hear me talk about autism. I can hear the radio dials clicking off every day," he said.

Asked if attacking Barton was the most effective way to get him to act, Imus said, "He's not going to be chairman after November 7, if there's a God." If Democrats win control of the House in the Nov. 7 elections, Barton would no longer be committee chairman next year.

What is autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, a spectrum disorder, that usually shows up in the first three years of a child's life. It affects the way a brain functions and changes the way a person interacts and communicates with others.

Some facts on autism:

Autism is estimated to affect roughly 1 in every 166 births.

As many as 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of autism, and projections show that as many as 4 million Americans could have some form of autism in the next decade.

Signs of autism include difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation; aggressive behavior; problems communicating needs; crying or laughing for no reason; repeating words or phrases rather than having a conversation; throwing tantrums; preferring to be alone; not wanting eye contact or cuddling; and having no real fear of danger.

While there is no one cause for autism, many say it's caused by abnormalities in the brain. The actual shape or structure of the brain in an autistic child can be different. Researchers are studying genetics and heredity.

Vaccination-Autism Link Unproven
Friday, April 01, 2005
By Steven Milloy
Radio shock jock Don Imus (search) is on a rampage about the vaccine preservative thimerosal (search) allegedly causing autism (search). Fox

A closer look at the facts, however, reveals that while thimerosal is safe, Imus unfortunately appears to be suffering from a case of Charlie McCarthy Syndrome, with his eco-crusader wife as the ventriloquist.

Since the beginning of March, Imus has been ranting about thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination from fungi and bacteria in countless vaccines administered to adults and children since the 1930s.

But in 1999, frenzied and junk science-fueled activists goaded wobbly-kneed pharmaceutical companies, federal public health agencies and the American Academy of Pediatrics to agree to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines as a precautionary measure.

Thimerosal was so dangerous, you see, that no one noticed it during more than 60 years of regular use -- that is, until the late-1990s, when the mercury-containing preservative was blamed by some parents for causing autism in their children

Autism: Is there a link to watching television?

Early exposure to TV implicated in new study

By The Independent Ian Griggs

Published: 22 October 2006

Autism may be linked to children watching television when very young, according to researchers.

Scientists investigating the dramatic increase in the number of autistic children have said the rise coincided with the use of cable television and videos. Autism is at record levels in the UK, where one in 110 people - more than half a million - has the condition, according to the National Autistic Society.

Researchers investigating autism in the US said that, as recently as 30 years ago, it was thought one in 2,500 people had the condition. Today the figure is one in 166, a 15-fold increase.

Scientists wanted to investigate whether the early introduction of cable television in the US had contributed to the current generation of children with autistic-spectrum symptoms. Researchers at Cornell University said children prone to autism might go on to show symptoms because of environmental triggers. Watching television could be one of them.

Michael Waldman and Sean Nicholson from Cornell University said autistic children usually develop the condition by the age of three. Their research, conducted across California, Oregon and Washington states, set out to prove the theory by linking the amount of television a child watches with the number of days when it rained.

The researchers said their study showed just under 40 per cent of autism diagnoses could be explained by looking at the times when children were forced to stay in and watch television. When rainfall was high, autism rates rose sharply. The opposite was true when rainfall was low.

They did not say how watching TV could act as a trigger, but simply tried to show a relationship. Research has shown, however, that autistic children have unusual activity in parts of the brain that process visual information. These areas develop in the early years.

The Cornell study looked at the results of an investigation into the Amish community. Based on the autism rates across the US, there should be several hundred autistic Amish, but fewer than 10 were found.

Health scares in the UK linked the combined MMR vaccine with autism but scientific studies have failed to find a connection.

Carol Povey, head of adult services for the National Autistic Society, saidit had an open mind on whether autism was rising. "The causes of autism are still being investigated," she said.

The findings are likely to upset parents of autistic children. Deborah Packenham, 42, from London, whose son Ieuan, eight, is autistic, said: "I think the idea that television is an environmental trigger for autism is difficult to grasp, dangerous even... it risks parents beating themselves up for letting their children watch Teletubbies when they were younger."


A range of symptoms, including difficultiesforming relationships and communicating. Sufferers can be obsessed with a narrow range of interests and do or say things repetitively. Asperger syndrome shares some of the symptoms, but sufferers often have average or above-average IQs.


Myth: Autism (including Asperger syndrome) is rare.

Fact: Autism (including Asperger syndrome) is thought to affect about 535,000 people in the UK.


  1. It's pretty clear that you don't have the first clue about autism. Maybe you should do some homework before you start ranting about Imus' "junk science". If you don't know what you are talking about, keep quiet.

  2. Well anonymous, if you read the post, you would know it is not really about autism. In fact it states the cause is worthy. What is not worthy are the thug tactics used by Imus. If you are impressed by him and his methods because it suits your current purposes so be it.