Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pharma Spin/Propaganda Only Belongs In Fiction (Now It's Invaded A Soap Opera)

Mytheos Holt |
Posted: May 31, 2017 12:01 AM

Those who follow the healthcare world’s comings and goings or watch the soap opera General Hospital are aware of a highly embarrassing story: Big Pharma is literally inserting its propaganda into TV medical show scripts.

Yes, really. This revelation came in a bizarre General Hospital episode about polycythemia vera, a disease so rare that only two in 100,000 people suffer from it. Television mysteries about rare disorders are nothing new (just ask Dr. Gregory House). But this one was so outlandishly uncommon it made an actual doctor, Vinay Prasad, suspicious. Prasad began investigating why General Hospital was covering this nigh-unheard of bone disorder. He discovered that Incyte – a drug company that sells a single drug that treats (what else) polycthemia vera – asked General Hospital to work the disease into the show’s plot.

As far as pharmaceutical sector malfeasance goes, this development might seem more pathetic than troubling. But when you consider that aggressive marketing helped fuel the opioid epidemic, it’s more alarming. Granted, it’s a free country, and advertising is part of a long tradition of free speech. But warning television audiences about this kind of subliminal messaging is a far cry from calling for regulation of speech. From the looks of it, those warnings could get more and more necessary if this trend keeps up.

And forgive the obvious point, but isn’t it hypocritical for Hollywood liberals to lecture us on the need for government-controlled healthcare even as they secretly shill for Pharma in their TV dramas? We shouldn’t be surprised – after all, Pharma and Hollywood both loved Hillary Clinton, too – but you’d think they’d know how to keep the hypocrisy a little subtler.

Why haven’t TV shows like General Hospital done episodes about how drug prices have been spiking in recent years, sometimes by hundreds of percentage points? The pharmaceutical industry is charging patients through the nose. They are also gouging hospitals like the one on General Hospital itself. Further, they go out of their way to shut down competition from overseas, and from generic drug manufacturers, that could stop the pain by driving prices down. This rarely gets mentioned in medical shows.

Hollywood must not want to dirty its dainty liberal hands with actual details on how to help people struggling with the high price of medical care. No other explanation seems to fit. The problems surrounding access to drugs are extraordinarily fertile ground for drama. Imagine the heartstrings Hollywood could pull with a story about a children’s hospital that tries desperately to be able to purchase cancer drugs at affordable prices. Such plots would have the benefit of being true, as well: Consider Pharma’s incessant assault on the 340B drug pricing program.

TV showrunners should not be forced to obey some sort of arbitrary fairness doctrine when coming up with dramatic arcs. But if pharma critics can respect the creative freedom of General Hospital’s writers, why can’t pharmaceutical companies?

Obviously, because with the public and their representatives in Washington getting increasingly impatient with Big Pharma’s spin, the industry desperately feels the need to get good press somehow. And in a sad way, I suppose it’s fitting that the only place where pharma can look good is a wholly fictional universe. Here in reality, reform is still needed, and no amount of soap opera-generated spin can change that.

Thank You Mr Holt and Townhall.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How FDA Avoided Finding Adult Antidepressant Suicidality

By Peter Breggin, MD May 24, 2017
Doctors often tell patients that antidepressants can only cause suicidal behavior in children and not in adults. Many publications also make the same claim. The false claim is based on the FDA-approved Black Box Warning for antidepressants that warns about an increased rate of suicidality in children, youth and young adults taking antidepressants, but not in adults over age 24. The Black Box Warning specifically summarizes, “Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24.”

The studies that the FDA relied upon for adults over age 24 were dismally flawed and untrustworthy compared to the ones used for children. According to the FDA at the 2006 hearings:

“Due to the large number of subjects in the adult analysis, almost 100,000 patients, the adjudication process was left as the responsibility of the sponsors [the drug companies] and was not overseen or otherwise verified by the FDA. This is in contrast to the pediatric suicidality analysis in which the FDA was actively involved in the adjudication (p. 14).”

In addition, the FDA also announced at the 2006 hearings on antidepressant-induced adult suicidality that it did not require a uniform method of analysis by each drug company and an independent evaluator as required with the pediatric sample.

Thus, the FDA was comparing somewhat good apples (the pediatric studies) to rotten apples (the adult studies), while making them seem comparable. The child studies showed that antidepressants can cause suicidality — the adult studies (after age 24) showed nothing other than FDA collusion with the self-serving drug companies. As I have described in my books and scientific articles, drug companies routinely manipulate their data on suicide to avoid any causal connection to their drug (see for example my 2006 paper about GSK and Paxil).

In the case of Eli Lilly, here are two memos by employee Claude Bouchey (pages 2 & 3 of document) written to the hierarchy of the company in which he expresses guilt and shame about changing official investigator reports of Prozac-induced suicide attempt to misleading terms like “overdose” or “depression.”

Ironically, the FDA controlled and monitored the original pediatric studies precisely because the drug companies on their own failed to find any risk of antidepressant-induced suicidality in any age group. Why would the FDA assume these same self-serving drug companies, left on their own again, would spontaneously begin for the first time to conduct honest studies on the capacity of their products to cause adult suicidality?

Furthermore, even in the rotten-apple adult studies, despite the drug company’s manipulations, Paxil (paroxetine) turned out to be causally associated with increased suicidality in depressed adults in an internal FDA review of the data. As a result, in 2006 the FDA then forced the maker of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to write a “Dear Doctor” letter to all healthcare providers confirming the Paxil/suicidality causal link in adults.

In April 2006, the FDA also made the drug company put a warning in its Full Prescribing Information (label or package insert) about the risk of Paxil causing suicidality in adults with depression; but GSK convinced them to drop it in subsequent years. The warning appeared in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) only once in 2007.

Meanwhile, there are many studies showing that antidepressants do cause suicidality and suicide in adults.

Next time you hear someone say that the FDA studies only showed increased suicidality in children and young adults as opposed to adults, remember that the adult studies, unlike the pediatric studies, were not controlled, monitored or validated by the FDA. This is one more example of the extremes the FDA will go to in order to protect drug companies and their often lethal products.

It was bad enough to find out that antidepressants cause suicidality in children. The drug companies and their minions complained mightily. The FDA and the drug companies were not going to allow a repetition of sufficiently unbiased studies that might conclude that adults are also vulnerable to antidepressant-induced suicide. 

Thank You Dr Breggin and MIA.

University of California Regents Party Hearty

Janet Napolitano’s politburo is corrupt and incompetent as the UC president herself.
May 30, 2017
Lloyd Billingsley

 University of California president Janet Napolitano stashed away $175 million in a secret slush fund while publicly beating the drum for tuition and fee increases. Napolitano interfered with state auditors, prompting UC students and workers to call for her arrest and Democratic legislators to demand her resignation. For their part, the UC regents publicly defended Napolitano, and it has now emerged how the regents responded to students and worker protests.

The night of the protest, May 17, CBS News reported, “the regents threw a $15,199 party at San Francisco’s elegant Palace Hotel for 59 people – a $258-a-head event also billed to the university.” Back in January, the night before they voted to raise tuition, the regents hosted a $17,600 banquet, one of many such events in recent years.

While planning to jack up tuition 28 percent in 2014, the regents threw an $8,000 party, and the year before, during a financial crisis, they blew $15,600 on a feast. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Napolitano’s office has reimbursed the regents for more than $225,000 in dinner parties since 2012. What the regents have to celebrate remains unclear to many observers.

State auditor Elaine Howle not only uncovered the president’s $175 million slush fund, she also questioned the performance of the regents in their oversight of Napolitano’s office. The state auditor recommended that the legislature could increase accountability by taking over the regents’ job. True to form, the regents found no fault whatsoever with president Napolitano.

“There has been no criminal activity and no slush funds,” according to regent Sherry Lansing, a former movie executive. She blasted “distortions” in the media, hailed Napolitano’s “wisdom and integrity,” and proclaimed, “her leadership has been incredible.”

Regent Bonnie Reiss, an attorney who produced president Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony, complained of “salacious” newspaper headlines. Press descriptions of a “slush fund,”

Reiss explained, “hurt my heart.”

Regent Norm Pattiz was “delighted when I found out we had a chance to have Janet Napolitano as our president and was “still delighted” after the audit. Last year during a commercial, Pattiz asked television writer Heather McDonald, “Wait a minute — can I hold your breasts?” and referred to his hands as “memory foam.”

It has not emerged whether Pattiz exhibited similar behavior at any of the lavish regents’ parties.

The Daily Bruin, a UC student publication, has described Pattiz as a “porn connoisseur” and called for him to resign. Handyman Pattiz has not done so, and is “still delighted” with Janet Napolitano.

The former Department of Homeland Security boss disputes the $175 million slush fund and is sticking to her guns on the tuition and fee increases. Part of the campus assessment fee, she told the Daily Bruin, goes toward paying off UCPath, an upgrade for the UC payroll system. UCPath was supposed to cost $156 million but after spending $327 million over four years, UC bosses now estimate a final cost of $504 million.

One of president Napolitano’s favorite projects is the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, which will receive its first $5 million on July 1. According to director Garen Wintemute, the Center’s first task will be will be “a survey that looks at who owns guns, why they own them and how they use firearms.” They want “the names,” and Californians have good cause to find this troubling.

As Stephen P. Halbrook noted in Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State,” the Nazis also wanted to know “who owns guns” and they ruthlessly suppressed firearm ownership by disfavored groups. At the University of California, that means conservatives.

As Rachel Alexander showed in “Napolitano Leaving DHS Under Cloud of Suspicion,” Janet Napolitano was “known in Arizona for her backroom deals and ruthless targeting of conservatives, a pattern she continued as DHS chief.” Napolitano released reports singling out conservatives as dangerous extremists, in her view the sort of person citizens should report to the government.

As DHS chief, Napolitano failed to secure the borders and enforce immigration law. As Alexander notes, “Napolitano also enacted a Dream Act-style policy giving young illegal immigrants a reprieve.” She continued that type of policy as president of the University of California, founding and funding the UC Center for Undocumented Student Legal Services, barring campus police from cooperating with federal authorities, and granting illegals in the UC system a $25.2 million aid package running through 2019.

The UC regents were delighted to hire Janet Napolitano and pay her $750,000 a year, more than the President of the United States, and more than three times the $200,000 she bagged as DHS boss. Like porn connoisseur Pattiz, they are still delighted with Napolitano’s “incredible leadership” even after revelations of her $175 million slush fund and as Democrats call for her to resign.

After approving steep tuition and fee hikes, the regents celebrate by throwing a $15,000 bash in San Francisco. Embattled UC students take note: your once-great university is now a big-time party school and the regents are on permanent spring break. 

Thank You Mr Billingsley and FPM.

Risperdal Victims Candid Photos Speak Volumes

lawyers and settlements

. By
Detroit, MIMost jurors in Risperdal trials are likely sympathetic and at the same time shocked to discover how boys who developed female breasts have suffered. The public are likely reacting the same way after seeing a photo project online titled “Risperdal Boys”.

Photographer Richard Johnson has captured the pain and suffering and embarrassment of six young men (four others opted out before publication) who developed gynecomastia. Johnson explains on his website why these young men chose to go public. “They wanted the world to know what happened to them,” Johnson said. “Most of the young men in the project suffered alone; they’ve never met someone else with their condition.”

They are indeed brave men to step forward. One striking thing about the photographs is the background Johnson captured. For instance, Eddie from Oklahoma stands outside his run-down home. All six young men appear to fall into the ‘lower income’ category. And that comes as no surprise: Risperdal targeted patients on Medicaid, but it isn’t easy to get Medicaid to cover breast removal surgery.

Even if a family scrapes together enough money to pay for surgery, there are challenges and the outcome may not be satisfactory. Most boys who develop breasts also gain a lot of weight—up to 100 pounds a year. Doctors are reluctant to operate on a Risperdal patient until he loses weight, and the surgery is painful as well as costly. So much so that Michael from Cleveland, one of Johnson’s “Risperdal boys” had to undergo a “no frills” surgery with disappointing results. Another boy said his mother paid for the surgery but couldn’t afford general anesthesia, so he had breasts removed with a local.

“All agreed their struggle would be easier if they knew others were facing the same bullying and social isolation that they faced as a boy with breasts,” Johnson said. “There are potentially tens of thousands more guys out there that don’t know why they’ve developed breasts, and they don’t realize how many others? have similar stories.”

A few Risperdal victims have prevailed in their lawsuits and were awarded huge sums of money. Andrew Yount was awarded $70 million by a Philadelphia jury, for instance. But thousands of boys without the benefit of an experienced attorney haven’t received a dime, despite Johnson & Johnson (the Risperdal maker) being fined $1.2 billion in 2012 and a whopping $2.2 billion fine just one year later. And the mammoth drug company raked in $800 million in Risperdal sales last year alone.

Our hats off to photographer Richard Johnson and the six courageous men profiled in “Risperdal Boys”.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Institutional Deception and Repression of Honest Science

Posted by Vera Sharav | Friday, May 26, 2017 |

I believe this book may be of interest to those who are concerned about conflicts of interest in medicine and public health policy. Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profit (2014)
The government hires scientists to support its policies; industry hires them to support its business; and universities hire them to bring in grants that are handed out to support government policies and industry practices… The greatest threat of all is the purposeful corruption of the scientific enterprise by the institutions themselves. The science they create is often only an illusion, designed to deceive; and the scientists they destroy to protect that illusion are often our best.” (Dr. David Lewis)
Institutional deception encompasses:

  • dictating the research agenda;
  • suppressing unwanted avenues of research;
  • and even predetermining research outcomes;
  • in order to preserve public policies that favor powerful industries.
Cases demonstrating suppression of vaccine safety data:

An article by Peter Doshi in the current issue of The Scientist reveals that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is blocking  internet access on its website to the vaccine adverse effect reports (VAERS). In 2015, CDC suppressed information from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program about the latest adjudicated cases. (Read Government Wipes Recent Vaccine Injury Data from Website by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson)

Ed; Here's a whole page of Ms Attkisson's investigations of Vaccines

 Sharyl Attkisson, Search Results, Vaccine

 These examples demonstrate the extreme measures of information suppression that government agencies resort to in order to delegitimize concerns about vaccine safety and the CDC vaccine policy.

Vaccine safety research is singularly biased
An example of institutional deception is the rigged “pharmacovigilance” HPV safety review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EMA, in collusion with the HPV vaccine manufacturers, disregarded numerous clustered reports of emergent serious medical syndromes (CRPS and POTS) following HPV vaccination. A critical review of the internal documents pertaining to the EMA evaluation process, by Dr. Tom Jefferson and Dr. Lars Jørgensen suggests that “the outcome of the EMA’s review process was decided prior to its initiation.” (Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 2017).

The Cochrane Collaboration review (2012) of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine safety literature acknowledged that the studies were corrupted by bias. The reviewers acknowledged that “none” of the studies upon which the safety of the MMR vaccine rests met the Cochrane’s criteria – all are biased. What the Cochrane reviewers didn’t address is why a vaccine that has been marketed since 1971 lacks proper methodological safety studies – especially in view of the intense acrimonious controversy surrounding the vaccine, and increasing public distrust.

An analysis of the cumulative incidence of autistic disorder
An analysis during a 10-year period (1987 – 1996) published in Environmental Science & Technology (2010) identified a sharp “changepoint” year (1988) when the incidence of autism sharply increased. That “changepoint” year is the year that childhood vaccination schedules were greatly expanded. Shouldn’t that disturbing correlation be worthy of serious investigation to determine IF there is a causal link? After all, there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic!

The fact is, that legitimate research that seeks to determine the safety (and to identify the hazards) of the MMR (or any vaccine), is impeded by powerful interest groups who claim to have a monopoly on vaccine science. But lacking answers as to the triggers/causes behind the spiraling rise of developmental disorders – including autism spectrum – the response given by reigning medical “authorities” is to close ranks and declare that the science is “settled.” The vaccine-autism debate is “over;” and we should “close the door for good.”

A repressive institutional effort has effectively marginalized and delegitimized – though not quite extinguished – relevant avenues of vaccine safety research. 

The agents in this repressive effort belong to a web of collaborating partnerships between vaccine manufacturers, government regulators, academic and professional medical associations, and especially, the high impact, major medical information gatekeepers – the financially dependent journals and media. They deny the existence of a sizable body of research that has identified neurotoxic ingredients in vaccines that are believed to trigger inflammation and autoimmunity. And deny research that suggests an increased cumulative toxic effect from the CDC- recommended Childhood Vaccination Schedule.

Studies that lend validity to safety concerns about the vaccination schedule are regarded as posing an intolerable threat. They are a threat because any reassessment of the vaccination schedule would likely reduce the number of recommended vaccines and, hence, would reduce the profit margins for vaccine manufacturers; and would threaten the financial support that academic “partnerships” have come to rely on.  So, whenever a study challenges vaccine orthodoxy – i.e., “vaccines are safe and effective” – that study is ignored, dismissed, or derided; its authors are disparaged, or attacked as “anti-vax hacks.”

The recent article, “Evidence-Based Medicine Was Bound to Fail” by Dr. Giovanni Fava, in which he states:  “One route was to perform comparisons by meta-analytic methods that are liable to manipulation instead of head-to head comparisons.“ This is precisely what those who are concerned about vaccine safety have been arguing to no avail for decades. The most recent examples are two peer reviewed reports about a pilot comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year old U.S. children by a team of Mississippi researchers led by Anthony Mawson. The reports were published online in the Journal of Translational Science (2017) and abruptly removed – without explanation. [Both papers are posted here, and also here]

A result of such suppression of legitimate vaccine safety research is that there is no credible, “evidence-based” reasoned risk/benefit analysis validating the safety of government-recommended /mandated childhood vaccination schedules. Neither the selection, the bundled multiple vaccines administered simultaneously, nor the timing in which they are given have been validated as safe. (Is the Timing of Recommended Childhood Vaccines Evidence-Based?  Dr. Tom Jefferson and Dr. Vittorio Demicheli, BMJ, 2016)
Read also, AHRP post: Independent GMO research is trashed: scientists hounded & silenced

  Categorized Current Controversies, Vaccines

Thank You Ms Sharav and AHRP.

And to those who'll happily dismiss us as a member of the Tin Foil Hat Anti Vax set for posting this;

The Democrat's Second Secession & America's New Civil War

How to look at the bizarre turn our political life has taken.
May 26, 2017
David Horowitz


Senator Kamala Harris is a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently mentioned on the short-list of contenders for the next presidential race. In a recent commencement speech at Howard University Harris issued a call to arms, urging her audience to rally behind the Democrats’ resistance to the Trump administration: “Graduates, indeed we have a fight ahead. This is a fight to define what kind of country we are, and it’s a fight to determine what country we will be.”

Ignore for a moment the impropriety of addressing a class of students as though they were Democratic Party operatives. Focus instead on the statement itself. The call “to define what kind of country we are” is an ominous agenda for America. Compared to other nations, America is absolutely unique in one regard: it is a country defined in its creation. Normally, nations have been formed on the basis of common origins, ethnicities, and languages – a modern form of tribalism. In contrast, America was created by peoples of diverse origins and ethnicities and on principles that were universal. The American union was forged in a set of founding documents that insisted on the equality of citizens – regardless of origins. The idea that creates the identity “American” is summarized in America’s official motto: e pluribus unum – out of many, one.

It took a Civil War and two hundred years of sacrifice and struggle to achieve a polity that approached this ideal. If one political faction is now able to redefine the ideal to conform to its own sectarian beliefs, the country we have known will cease to exist. But that is just what the current creed of the Democratic Party - “identity politics” - entails, and is why the current divisions in our political life seem so intractable. Identity politics is, in fact, the antithesis of the American idea. It is a reversion to tribal loyalties. It regards diverse origins – colors, ethnicities, genders and classes - as primary, and proposes a hierarchy of privilege based on them, which it justifies as a reversal of past oppressions.

It is not the proper role of an opposition party in a democracy to mount a “resistance” to a duly elected government and press for its overthrow at the very outset of its tenure. But that is precisely what the Democrats have done in the first months of the Trump administration. For the second time in its history, the Democratic Party has opted to secede from the Union and its social contract. This time there is not going to be an actual civil war because the federal government is now so powerful that whoever controls it will decide the outcome. The passions of an irreconcilable conflict are still present but they are channeled into a political confrontation over the executive power.

In launching their resistance, Democrats rejected the honeymoon normally afforded to incoming presidents. Until now this tradition has functioned as something of a sacred political rite. Campaigns are by their nature divisive, and they inevitably exaggerate the differences between factions of the electorate. The presidential honeymoon is designed to reunite the contending factions as constituents of a shared constitutional republic. It allows an incoming president to take his place as the chief executive of all the people, to have his cabinet confirmed, and to launch his agendas before the normal contentions of a democracy resume. It ratifies the peaceful transition of power and reasserts the principle that as Americans we are one.

According to the Gallup organization, the normal duration of a presidential honeymoon in recent times has been seven months. The Democrats didn’t give Trump seven seconds. While he was president-elect, they were already attacking him as a racist, a “white nationalist,” anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim; also an anti-democratic “fascist”- a would-be dictator. His election was called illegitimate, the alleged agent of a Russian conspiracy. This meme swiftly metastasized into one of the most bizarre witch-hunts in our political history, a “red scare” without actual reds, in which Democrat after Democrat stepped forward to allege that Trump had colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the election.

Trump did not get confirmation hearings for the team he was hoping to put in place. He got a witch-hunt instead - a series of attempted character assassinations directed at his nominees. Most outrageously, his candidate for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions, was smeared as a “racist” by one Democratic senator after another beginning with Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Yet, Sessions’ public career reflected values that were quite the opposite. It included service as the attorney general of a deep south state, in which capacity he had prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan and desegregated the public schools. These acts reflected his actual commitment to civil rights. Schumer and his colleagues had served alongside Sessions for ten and twenty years, and knew very well that their accusations were defamatory and false. But they persisted in them anyway.

So that no one would mistake their hostile intent, the Democrats’ attacks were accompanied by calls for Trump’s impeachment, despite the fact that he had hardly been in office. These were echoed in massive street demonstrations, organized and funded by core Democratic groups, which featured chants of “Not My President,” claims by celebrity speakers that Trump’s election was “worse than being raped,” and addled wishes to “blow up the White House.” Each protest – no matter its official organizing premise - was orchestrated to underscore the identity-driven accusations that the Trump regime was anti-woman, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant. Trump and his supporters were in turn anathemized as members of a hostile tribe – “white nationalists.”

Behind this Democratic rage is the conviction that the Trump administration represents a reactionary throwback to the status quo ante before Obama began “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” as he promised on the eve of his election. The new order towards which progressives think they are marching is called “social justice.” To Democrats the hierarchy of privileges they offer groups on the basis of ethnicity, skin color, and gender is “social justice.” It defines the society they intend to create, which in their eyes is mortally threatened by the Trump regime and its conservative supporters.

During the second presidential debate, there was a seminal moment illuminating this conflict. It occurred when Trump turned to the fifty million viewers in the television audience, and said, “You have to understand, Hillary has tremendous hatred in her heart.” He was referring to Clinton’s campaign remark that her opponents belonged in “a basket of deplorables – irredeemables,” whom she went on to name: “Racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes…” Trump, she said, had “raised them up,” and that made him “unfit” to be America’s president.

The condemnation of her political opponents is not unique to Clinton but is shared by Democrats generally. There is hardly a conservative in the country who has been in an argument with a so-called liberal who has not also been called a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc. - terms designed to drum them out of decent society. They are expressions of the hatred progressives feel towards anyone who opposes their crusade to re-define America’s identity in the interests of “social justice.”

The theory behind “identity politics” is an ideology the political left refers to as “cultural Marxism.” This is a perspective that takes Marx’s view that society is divided into warring classes, and extends it to encompass races, genders, and ethnicities. It is a vision that regards one group’s success as another group’s oppression. “Social justice” - the proposed remedy for inequality and division - punishes oppressor groups by redistributing their incomes and privileges to the “under-represented,” “marginalized” and otherwise oppressed. It is a vision that disregards the accountability of individuals and ascribes to group identities the inequalities that are allegedly unjust.

The left has created a term of art – “people of color” – to promote its collectivist views on ethnicity and race. “People of color” is not grammatical English - we do not refer to “crayons of color” or “televisions of color.” It is a French construction, reflecting the way French people speak (personnes de couleur). “People of color” is an invention of ideologues to serve an ideological purpose, which is to organize the world into the categories of cultural Marxism - into oppressors and oppressed. To understand its usage one has only to look to Mexico, a country whose illegal migrants have been one of the flashpoints of the war against the Trump administration, as Democrats have rallied to their defense.

Mexico is composed of two main ethnic groups: the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors who enslaved and slaughtered the indigenous Indians, and the descendants of the Indians. In other words, actual oppressors and actual oppressed. When members of these two groups cross into the United States, however, they both become “people of color,” therefore oppressed; therefore, deserving of special sensitivities, special allowances, special privileges – all without regard to their individual histories and merits. That is why criminal migrants from Mexico, who are here illegally, can commit felonies against Americans, including rape and murder, and become a cause for progressives and Democrats, who create “sanctuary cities” and policies to protect them. Because they are people of color and allegedly oppressed.

Maharajahs in India are also “people of color.” Islamic beheaders and crucifiers in Syria are “people of color” too. The whole world is people of color except … white people – the designated oppressors. Identity politics is both racist and totalitarian. It obliterates the individual in favor of the group. It removes the agency of individuals as subjects and turns them into objects. After this is understood, there is no longer any mystery as to why advocates of identity politics should come into existential collision with the American framework and its defenders, personified by President Trump.

The 2016 platform of the Democratic Party vows “a societal transformation” that will “end institutional and systemic racism in our society.” This is the ideology of cultural Marxism. “Institutional racism” as a systemic American problem is a political fiction. Americans outlawed “institutional racism” half a century ago with the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. Any incidence of institutional racism today is actionable in the courts – the utra-liberal courts that threw out Trump’s executive orders on extra-legal grounds because of off-the-cuff remarks he made on the campaign trail.

“Systemic racism” and “institutional racism” are anti-American mythologies that drive the Democratic Party’s political agendas. The Democratic platform and Democrats generally, regard every social disparity as prima facie evidence of racial or gender oppression, and attribute such disparities not to individual decisions and performances but to un-named “policies,” which if they actually existed would be illegal. Consider this plank in the 2016 Democratic Party platform:
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for African Americans and Latino Americans is roughly one-tenth that of white Americans. These disparities are also stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups, and may become even more significant when considering other characteristics such as age, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The platform then explains: “The racial wealth and income gaps are the result of policies that discriminate against people of color and constrain their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.” But if such policies existed they would be illegal under the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. The disparities, on the other hand, are realistically explained by individual details, for example the presence (or lack) of two-parent families, the degree of education, or whether (in the case of Latino Americans), English is spoken in the home. More generally, the ability to accumulate wealth is determined in large part by genes and by cultural attitudes that guide the choices families and individuals make. Otherwise Japanese Americans, who are people of color, would not be among America’s richest (and therefore most privileged) economic groups.

The same mythology characterizes the Democrats’ claims about gender disparities. The Clinton campaign presented itself as a quest for equality for women. According to candidate Clinton, women across America were being paid only 76 cents on the dollar for the same skills, job experience and work as men. But if this were so, it would also be illegal under the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act passed as long ago as 1963 by a Congress dominated by men. After the election, the New York Times published a column inspired by studies that ratified what conservatives had been saying for a generation: “The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood.” The disparity exists because child-rearing takes women out of the work force for extended periods, and also causes them to seek flex-time occupations that pay less.[1]

Similarly, the animus behind Democratic assaults on Republicans and their support for law and order as “racist” is the direct consequence of viewing all social disparities through the distorted lens of oppression politics. Thus, the “over-representation” of African-Americans in the prison system is not because of systemic racism. Police forces have been integrated for decades, along with the entire criminal justice system. African-Americans are “over-represented” in the prison population because they are “over-represented” in the commission of actual crimes. Democrats’ embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement and its efforts to cast career criminals as civil rights victims and law enforcement officials as villains is an inevitable consequence of ignoring the specific circumstances of the incidents under review, and forcing them into the melodramatic framework of “racism” and “oppression.”[2] The “social justice” future to which these attitudes lead can be seen on college campuses, the experimental laboratories of the left, which are now characterized by privileged admissions and tuition scholarships distributed on a racial basis, “safe spaces” for people of color only, and, at Harvard, segregated graduations for blacks.

Trump and his followers not only understand the fateful nature of the conflict triggered by decades of these assaults. Their campaign to “Make America Great Again” is inspired by them. In his inaugural address Trump opposed to the progressive vision and its divisive consequences the American idea – e pluribus unum. Referring to those Americans who had been economically left behind, Trump said, “We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office, I take today, is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.” Trump then elaborated on the idea that Americans are united as equal citizens: “Through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” And finally: “It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same, great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.”

In spirit, this echoed the address by the last man to have war declared on his presidency by an opposition party even as entered the office. “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war,” Lincoln said in his first inaugural. “You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ it…. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”



[2] For ample statistical support for this, see Heather MacDonald, Are Cops Racist? 2016.

Thank You Mr Horowitz and FPM.

Arrest Napolitano! UC President Must Go!


University of California protesters speak the truth to power.
May 25, 2017

Lloyd Billingsley

Dozens of University of California students and workers peacefully assembled at a recent UC regents meeting in San Francisco, but it wasn’t to protest Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter or even Donald Trump. The target was Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California.

“Arrest Napolitano! Arrest Napolitano!” and “Janet Must Go!” were the rallying cries, and along with their placards the protesters brought along some facts.

While beating the drum for tuition and fee hikes, president Napolitano has amassed a secret slush fund of $175 million, which she used to shower perks on already overpaid staff and even to renovate the houses of UC chancellors. That’s why the protesters wanted her arrested. The state auditor reported that Napolitano’s office “intentionally interfered” with their investigators, which could be construed as an obstruction of justice.

“Shame on you Janet Napolitano,” said UC Santa Barbara graduate student Hannah Kagan-Moore during the public comment. “Shame on the office of the president for padding your own pockets!” Other students called the regents “hypocrites” and “greedy,” but the regents weren’t having it.

Regents chair Monica Lozano, formerly of U.S. Hispanic Media, talked of “changing the culture” but was uncritical of Napolitano. “There has been no criminal activity and no slush funds,” responded regent Sherry Lansing. The former movie executive blasted “distortions” in the media, hailed Napolitano’s “wisdom and integrity,” and proclaimed, “her leadership has been incredible.”

Regent Bonnie Reiss, an attorney who produced president Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony, complained of “salacious” newspaper headlines. “Seeing how some in the press have characterized it as a slush fund or a secret fund hurt my heart,” Reiss lamented.

UC regent Norm Pattiz was “delighted when I found out we had a chance to have Janet Napolitano as our president.” Pattiz was “still delighted” after the audit, but protesting students might have wondered why he was still a University of California regent.

Last year, during a commercial for a memory-foam bra, Pattiz asked television writer Heather McDonald, “Wait a minute — can I hold your breasts?” and referred to his hands as “memory foam.” In another audio clip Pattiz offered critiques of pornographic films and that got the attention of the student press.

“If you want a porn connoisseur making decisions about our school’s academic, administrative and yes, sexual harassment policies, then by all means, Pattiz should remain a regent,” editorialized the Daily Bruin. “But if he has any remaining respect for himself and the institution he works for, he must resign.”

It didn’t happen. The eager Pattiz with the memory-foam hands is still a UC regent and “still delighted” with president Janet Napolitano.

In similar style, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, also a UC regent, criticized the audit as too strict and opined that president Janet Napolitano was doing a good job. Media sycophants also had the president’s back.

“Nothing in her long career or her UC performance indicates that she’s dishonest or incompetent,” wrote Shawn Hubler of the Sacramento Bee. Napolitano’s critics need to “dial down the hostility, give some benefit of the doubt and remember the bigger picture. Like the UC system itself, a UC president of her stature is something to value and it would be too bad if California failed to appreciate that.”

That was a stark contrast to the response from legislators. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, a Torrance Democrat, said he was “very disturbed” that Napolitano’s office had interfered with the auditors, and several Democrats announced plans for a bill to make such interference a crime.

“President Napolitano is not worthy of the public’s trust,” explained Democratic assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. “It’s time she resigned.” Other legislators were curious whether Napolitano had already committed crimes and should be subpoenaed.

Attorney general Xavier Becerra, currently occupied with the protection of illegal foreign nationals, did not weigh in on the subject. Governor Jerry Brown threatened to withhold money but did not criticize Napolitano directly, nor call for her to step down. As it happens, the $175 million slush fund was not the UC president’s first caper against California students.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, Napolitano lowered admission requirements for out-of-state applicants “while denying admission to nearly 4,300 qualified Californians — using out-of-state students’ higher tuition rates to avoid any belt-tightening during the state’s revenue recession.” The UC regents responded by attacking state auditor Elaine Howle’s report on this practice and defending Napolitano. The regents now ignore the $175 million slush fund, the obstruction of auditors, and hail the UC boss as an incredible leader.

Janet Napolitano got her start spearheading the smear campaign against the African American Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. The former Arizona governor and Department of Homeland Security chief is a non-educator and has never produced anything of scholarly interest. The prominent Democrat was a purely political hire and with Donald Trump in the White House she serves, in effect, as California’s very own female president. Napolitarian rule quashes free speech, shirks accountability, and shows utter contempt for the rights and welfare of students.

The UC boss is looking out for number one, as the late Frank Zappa would say, and students, workers and taxpayers aren’t even number two. So the protesters have good reason to cry “Arrest Napolitano!” and “Janet must go!” This time they are speaking the truth to power. 

Thank You Mr Billingsley and FPM.

California Public Employee Union Pensions Are Huge Hypocrites On Drug Prices

Posted at 1:00 pm on May 26, 2017 by Dan Spencer

Two huge California public employee union pension programs are trying to eat their cake and profit from it too. They are helping to make a stink out of drug prices, even as those same drug prices are helping to prop up their members’ retirements.

CalPERS and CalSTRS are available to public employees and public school teachers respectively. The pension systems are active members of the National Coalition on Health Care, which runs the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing. That’s significant because NCHC, lead by former AARP heavy John Rother, has been hammering pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.

For instance, after President Donald J. Trump met with the heads of some drug companies, the coalition released a statement charging that “100% of Big Pharma’s earnings growth in 2016 came from price hikes rather than innovation.”
We could quibble about the substance of what NCHC puts out, but it’s worth asking what the California Public employees pension programs are doing as part of that coalition, given their investments.

CalPERS an CalSTERS actively profit off the drug companies that Rother and the Coalition attack. You don’t have to take my word for it, here are some numbers!

As Of June 30, 2016 CalPERS held at least $2.7 billion – with a b – worth of domestic equities in drug companies.

Shares Market Value
Johnson & Johnson 8091344 $981,479,966
Pfizer 19395322 $682,909,280
Gilead Sciences 4036451 $336,720,740
Abbvie 4,738,959 $293,388,976
Allergan 1127412 $260,533,621
Abbott Laboratories 4,208,253 $165,426,422
GlaxoSmithKline 404298 $17,522,275
(CalPERS 2015-16 Annual Investment Report)
Same date, same year, CalSTRS held at least $3.2 billion in domestic equities in those same drug companies.

Shares Market Value
Johnson & Johnson 8300271 $1,006,823,000
Pfizer 18339819 $645,745,000
Merck 8955425 $515,922,000
Bristol Myers Squibb 4782642 $351,763,000
Abbvie 4335014 $268,381,000
Celgene 2353188 $232,095,000
Abbott Laboratories 4569519 $179,628,000
Gilead Sciences 3886475 $324,210
(CalSTRS Domestic Equities)
These public employee union investments are what Al Gore might call an inconvenient truth and most of us would just call rank hypocrisy. Here’s a suggestion for those California public employee pension funds who are trying to have it both ways: Remove that plank from your own eye first. Or just send NCHC packing.

Thank You Mr Spencer and Redstate.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

United Healthcare Doctored Medicare Records, Overbilled U.S. By $1 Billion, Feds Claim



The Justice Department on Tuesday accused giant insurer UnitedHealth Group of overcharging the federal government by more than $1 billion through its Medicare Advantage plans.

In a 79-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Justice Department alleged that the insurer made patients appear sicker than they were in order to collect higher Medicare payments than it deserved. The government said it had “conservatively estimated” that the company “knowingly and improperly avoided repaying Medicare” for more than a billion dollars over the course of the decade-long scheme.

“To ensure that the program remains viable for all beneficiaries, the Justice Department remains tireless in its pursuit of Medicare fraud perpetrated by healthcare providers and insurers,” said acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California, in a statement announcing the suit. “The primary goal of publicly funded healthcare programs like Medicare is to provide high-quality medical services to those in need — not to line the pockets of participants willing to abuse the system.”

Tuesday’s filing is the second time that the Justice Department has intervened to support a whistleblower suing UnitedHealth under the federal False Claims Act. Earlier this month, the government joined a similar case brought by California whistleblower James Swoben in 2009. Swoben, a medical data consultant, also alleges that UnitedHealth overbilled Medicare.

The case joined on Tuesday was first filed in 2011 by Benjamin Poehling, a former finance director for the UnitedHealth division that oversees Medicare Advantage Plans. Under the False Claims Act, private parties can sue on behalf of the federal government and receive a share of any money recovered.

UnitedHealth is the nation’s biggest Medicare Advantage operator covering about 3.6 million patients in 2016, when Medicare paid the company $56 billion, according to the complaint.

Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans offered as an alternative to traditional fee-for-service option.

Medicare pays the health plans using a complex formula called a risk score, which is supposed to pay higher rates for sicker patients than for people in good health. But waste and overspending tied to inflated risk scores has repeatedly been cited by government auditors, including the Government Accountability Office. A series of articles published in 2014 by the Center for Public Integrity concluded that improper payments linked to jacked-up risk scores have cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

Tuesday’s court filing argues that UnitedHealth repeatedly ignored findings from its own auditors that risk scores were often inflated — and warnings by officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — that it was responsible for ensuring the billings it submitted were accurate.

UnitedHealth denied wrongdoing and said it would contest the case.

“We are confident our company and our employees complied with the government’s Medicare Advantage program rules, and we have been transparent with CMS about our approach under its unclear policies,” UnitedHealth spokesman Matt Burns said in a statement.

Burns went on to say that the Justice Department “fundamentally misunderstands or is deliberately ignoring how the Medicare Advantage program works. We reject these claims and will contest them vigorously.”

A spokesman for CMS, which has recently faced congressional criticism for lax oversight of the program, declined comment.

Central to the government’s case is UnitedHealth’s aggressive effort, starting in 2005, to review millions of patient records to look for missed revenue. These reviews often uncovered payment errors, sometimes too much and sometimes too little. The Justice Department contends that UnitedHealth typically notified Medicare only when it was owed money.

UnitedHealth “turned a blind eye to the negative results of those reviews showing hundreds of thousands of unsupported diagnoses that it had previously submitted to Medicare, according to the suit.

Justice lawyers also argue that UnitedHealth executives knew as far back as 2007 that they could not produce medical records to validate about 1 in 3 medical conditions Medicare paid UnitedHealth’s California plans to cover. In 2009, federal auditors found about half the diagnoses were invalid at one of its plans.

The lawsuit cites more than a dozen examples of undocumented medical conditions, from chronic hepatitis to spinal cord injuries. At one medical group, auditors reviewed records of 126 patients diagnosed with spinal injuries. Only two were verified, according to the complaint.

The Justice Department contends that invalid diagnoses can cause huge losses to Medicare. For instance, UnitedHealth allegedly failed to notify the government of at least 100,000 diagnoses it knew were unsupported based on reviews in 2011 and 2012. Those cases alone generated $190 million in overpayments, according to the suit.

While Medicare Advantage has grown in popularity and now treats nearly 1 in 3 elderly and disabled Medicare patients, its inner workings have remained largely opaque.

CMS officials for years have refused to make public financial audits of Medicare Advantage insurers, even as they have released similar reviews of payments made to doctors, hospitals and other medical suppliers participating in traditional Medicare.

But Medicare Advantage audits obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that payment errors — typically overpayments — are common.

All but two of 37 Medicare Advantage plans examined in a 2007 audit were overpaid — often by thousands of dollars per patient. Overall, just 60 percent of the medical conditions health plans were paid to cover could be verified. The 2007 audits are the only ones that have been made public.

CMS officials are conducting more of these audits, called Risk Adjustment Data Validation, or RADV. But results are years overdue.

KHN’s coverage related to aging & improving care of older adults is supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Categories: Health Industry, Medicare

Tags: Medicare Advantage | @fredschulte

Tank You Mr Schulte and KHN.