Brothers in arms

21 05 2014

Given recent news, how about a rerun?

Originally posted March 1

Let us compare two votes, shall we?

One authorizes war; another authorizes benefits* for veterans of war. How well do these votes match up?

Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL, voted in favor of the Iraq War; Senator Jeff Sessions voted against benefits for veterans of war.

Senator Richard Shelby, R-Al, voted in favor of war; Senator Shelby voted against benefits

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, voted in favor of war; Senator Murkowski did not vote on benefits.

Representative Jeff Flake, R-AZ, voted in favor of war; Senator Flake voted against benefits.

Senator John McCain, R-AZ, voted in favor of war; Senator McCain voted against benefits.

Representative John Boozman, R-AR voted in favor of war; Senator Boozman voted against benefits.

Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, voted in favor of war; Senator Nelson did not vote on benefits.

Representative Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, voted in favor of war; Senator Chambliss voted against benefits.

Representative John Isakson, R-GA, voted in favor of war; Senator Isakson voted against benefits.

Senator Michael Crapo, R-ID, voted in favor of war; Senator Crapo voted against benefits.

Representative Mark Kirk, R-IL, voted in favor of war; Senator Kirk voted against benefits.

Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA, voted in favor of war; Senator Grassley voted against benefits.

Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS, voted in favor of war; Senator Roberts voted against benefits.

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, voted in favor of war; Senator McConnell voted against benefits.

Representative David Vitter, R-LA, voted in favor of war; Senator Vitter voted against benefits.

Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, voted in favor of war; Senator Collins voted against benefits.

Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, voted in favor of war; Senator Cochran voted against benefits.

Representative Roger Wicker, R-MS, voted in favor of war; Senator Wicker did not vote on benefits.

Representative Roy Blunt, R-MO, voted in favor of war; Senator Blunt voted against benefits.

Representative Richard Burr, R-NC, voted in favor of war; Senator Burr voted against benefits.

Representative Rob Portman, R-OH, voted in favor of war; Senator Portman voted against benefits.

Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK, voted in favor of war; Senator Inhofe voted against benefits.

Representative Pat Toomey, R-PA, voted in favor of war; Senator Toomey voted against benefits.

Representative Lindsay Graham, R-SC, voted in favor of war; Senator Graham voted against benefits.

Representative John Thune, R-SD, voted in favor of war; Senator Thune voted against benefits.

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT, voted in favor of war; Senator Hatch voted against benefits.

Senator Michael Enzi, R-WY, voted in favor of war; Senator Enzi voted against benefits.

Those who voted for the war and for benefits:

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
  • Senator Thomas Carper, D-DE
  • Representative/Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA
  • Representative/Senator Ed Markey, D-MA
  • Senator Harry Reid, D-NV
  • Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY
  • Senator Tim Johnson, D-SD
  • Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA
  • Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV

Those who voted against the war and for benefits:

  • Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA
  • Representative/Senator Mark Udall, D-CO
  • Senator Benjamin Cardin, D-MD
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD
  • Senator Carl Levin, D-MI
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI
  • Representative/Senator Bob Menéndez, D-NJ
  • Representative/Senator Tom Udall, D-NM
  • Representative/Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH
  • Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR
  • Senator John Reed, D-RI
  • Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT
  • Representative/Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT (sponsor of benefits bill S.1982)
  • Senator Patty Murray, D-WA
  • Representative/Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI

If you don’t want to pay for the consequences of war, then DON’T VOTE FOR WAR.

And, goddammit, if we do go to war, then you pay to take care of those who fought the war.

Even soldiers in a stupid, shitty, pointless war deserve care.

*Technically, this was a cloture vote (requiring 60 votes to succeed), which is to say, a vote to stop a filibuster; voting yes on cloture would end debate and allow a majority vote on the legislation to proceed. The vote failed, 56-41.


According to Alan Fram of the Associated Press,

Republicans criticized how most of Sanders’ bill was paid for — with unspent money from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the winding down of American military involvement in Afghanistan. The GOP says those are not real savings because no one expected those dollars to be spent as those wars ended.

I’d go back and see how many of these. . . statesmen voted in favor of war-time tax cuts, but I really don’t have the heart.

Money for nothing

30 04 2014

While my brain continues to disintegrate, I’ma just stealin’ other people’s stuff to post.

Thus, Roy Edroso at alicublog, on Donald Sterling, Brendan Eich, and free speech for rich folk:

All of the principals in these dramas, protagonists and antagonists, are rich fucks, and their decisions have much more to do with perceived shareholder value than with the U.S. Constitution. The rich fucks fucked the rich fucks, and then ran to hang The Left.

I see some of you rightwing guys are sore about it. Well, go ahead, be sore, life’s tough all over. But don’t insult my intelligence by saying it’s because you care deeply about civil rights, or you’d have been weeping over the scoutmaster whose troop got dumped because he’s gay, too, and I sure didn’t see that happening.  You’re just sore about these guys because the charge on their warrants was bigotry, and instead of the rich fucks laughing and saying, oh come on, how could anyone take such a thing seriously, can’t you charge ’em with moral turpitude or something — instead the rich fucks in charge said yes indeed, it was indeed serious, and pitched them out.

I don’t care about the alleged victims one way or the other. They’re rich and can afford to buy their own sympathy, or contempt if that’s what they go for. Their speech will always be free, indeed worth more than mine because they can put a million bucks behind every word.


And all the times will keep on changing

25 01 2014

It tells you how out of touch I am that I actually found this useful:


h/t: PZ Myers (who notes that the one thing missing is “blog”—tho’ perhaps that’s too old media to include)

Call me

30 12 2013

See, there are some benefits to resisting every shiny (expensive) new toy:

New York City resident Kevin Cook was mugged at gunpoint in Central Park on Saturday, but when the thief stole Cook’s phone, he was so upset to find that it was an old flip phone that he gave it back, the New York Post reported.

“Once he saw my phone, he looked at it like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ and gave it back to me,” Cook told the paper. He described the phone in question as “like a 3-year-old generation Windows phone.”

Do I have a flip phone? Oh yes, I do.

So much for that whole ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ excuse. . .

16 11 2013

Nothing Puts an Exclamation Point on a Second Amendment Conversation Like a Bullet!

Posted by on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Today in patriot news:

WILKESBORO, N.C., Nov. 14 (UPI) — Police in North Carolina said they are searching for a man whose gun accidentally fired during a conversation about the Second Amendment at a store.

Wilkesboro police said the unidentified man was engaged in a discussion about the Second Amendment and gun rights at the GNC store Tuesday evening when he took out his gun to show an employee and accidentally fired off a round into a printer, WFMY-TV, Greensboro, reported Thursday.

The employee told police the man said he “could not go down for this” and fled the store.

Notice how the “gun accidentally fired,” rather than the man who accidentally fired the gun. No harm done, then.

Total complete blog theft from The Stranger

When the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go

2 11 2013

I don’t know if I’ve written on this before, but this letter, sent out by Trudo Lemmons at the University of Toronto, pretty well explains the situation:

University of Minnesota Should Investigate Suicide in Clinical Trial, Scholars Argue

Trudo Lemmens

Thursday, October 24, 2013

With colleagues Raymond De Vries (University of Michigan), Alice Dreger (Northwestern University), Lois Shepherd (University of Vriginia), Susan M. Reverby (Wellesley College) and Jerome P. Kassirer (Tufts University), I wrote a letter to the Chair, Vice-Chair and members of the University of Minnesota Senate, to request that the University of Minnesota set up an inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Dan Markingson in a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. More than 170 leading academic colleagues specialized in health law and human rights, research ethics, bioethics, and medical research joined as signatories to the letter.

Dan Markingson was acutely psychotic when University of Minnesota psychiatrists enrolled him into an AstraZeneca-sponsored study of antipsychotic drugs. Prior to enrolling into the study, he had been repeatedly judged incompetent to make his own medical decisions and he was involuntary committed. He obtained a stay of commitment order that legally required him to obey the recommendations of the psychiatrists. They recommended he participate in a clinical trial, to which he was deemed able to consent, just days after he had been declared incapable of making his own treatment decisions. His mother, Mary Weiss, attempted to get her son out of the study for months, warning the research team that he was deteriorating and in danger of killing himself, but her warnings were ignored.  On May 8, 2004, Markingson committed a violent suicide.

2009 investigation of Markingson’s death by the St. Paul Pioneer Press found that the university psychiatrists and the clinical trials unit had received significant payments from the study sponsor. The research contract included also a per patient payment of $ 15,648.  Less than two years before Markingson was recruited, the Contract Research Organization in charge of organizing the trial had put the University of Minnesota site on ‘probation’ for failing to recruit a sufficient number of patients. With colleague Paul Miller, I have written in the past about how payments to investigators, particularly financial recruitment incentives, create significant legal and ethical concerns. This may very well be a case study of how some of the pressures resulting from these incentives can have a devastating outcome. For Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of the The England Journal of Medicine and a signatory of the letter, “[t]here was an overt conflict of interest, and there is reason to believe that the boy’s death was an indirect consequence of the financial inducements of the study.”

In direct response to Dan Markingson’s suicide, the Minnesota legislature recognized already in 2009 that vulnerable psychiatric patients in Minnesota had to be better protected in clinical trials. It adopted more protective legislation, excluding people who are civilly committed from being enrolled in a clinical trial. In 2012,  the Minnesota Board of Social Work concluded after an investigation that the study coordinator overseeing Markingson’s care had committed an alarming number of professional violations, including falsely initialing for the physicians on study charts and dispensing drugs without a license. The Board issued a “corrective action” towards the social worker. Those in charge of running the clinical trial, however, were not held accountable. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice looked back in 2009 into complaints against the physicians supervising the clinical trial and involved in the care of Dan Markingson, Dr. Olson and Dr. Schulz, and contrary to the Board of Social Work, it concluded that it did not have a sufficient basis to take action.

We felt the need to write this letter because of the absence of a thorough and independent investigation into what happened. An FDA investigation, which focused on whether FDA procedures were followed, was arguably conducted only superficially, as Carl Elliott has convincingly put forward in a Hastings Center blog article. The FDA investigator failed, for example, to interview Dan Markingson’s mother and did not really address some of the key challenges in the context of this trial, such as those related to potential undue inducement and coercion. It concluded that no FDA regulations were violated. The University suggested that other internal reviews also came to the conclusion that no action was needed. But there are reasons to be worried about the independence of these assessments. The University’s legal counsel suggested, for example, that the IRB–the institution’s research ethics committee–had investigated the death. But so far, while minutes of one IRB meeting show that the case was discussed, no evidence of a solid IRB evaluation has been produced. There are also serious concerns about the independence of the IRB.  First, it is questionable whether in-house IRBs can really act independently when important institutional interests are at stake and when high ranked institutional officials are involved. But more troubling is the recent revelation that the IRB that approved and was supposedly monitoring the clinical trial appears to have been affected by significant conflicts of interest. The IRB chair was the director of the ambulatory research center which housed the clinical trial; he also reported in the department of psychiatry to Dr. Schulz, chair of the department and co-investigator in the study; and he had financial relations with the company sponsoring the trial. Another internal University assessment which apparently took place can also hardly be characterized as an independent investigation, particularly since the University had dug its heels in the sand and took a strong position against further review of what happened. The University filed, for example, a ‘notice to assess costs’ against the mother of Dan Markingson, around the time that she wanted to appeal a partial summary judgment by a district court judge. With this notice, the University requested that she pay its legal expenses.  The district court had ruled that there was no legal basis to sue the University and its IRB, since the IRB had statutory immunity for its ‘discretionary decisions’, but had accepted that a negligence claim against one of the doctors, Dr. Olson, could proceed. The University dropped this legal action for costs after Dan Markingson’s mother dropped her appeal against the interim decision.

In short: this appears to be a case that raises substantial concerns about the enrollment of extremely vulnerable and potentially incompetent research subjects in clinical trials, the appropriateness of specific informed consent and capacity assessment procedures in mental health research, the potential impact of financial conflicts of interest on the behavior of clinical investigators, university administrators, and institutional actors, the qualifications of research personnel, and the overall integrity of medical research at major medical schools and their hospitals. And it raises concerns about the legal tactics used by a public University in the context of a troubling case.

The signers of the letter include Susan Reverby, a historian, who uncovered the notorious Guatemala syphilis studies that led to a formal apology by President Obama in 2010; Marcia Angell of Harvard University, also a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine; Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal; Ron Patterson, the former Health and Disability Commissioner of New Zealand; George Annas, a leading Health Law and Human Rights scholar from Boston University; Daniel Callahan, the co-founder of The Hastings Center; Renee C. Fox, professor emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Experiment Perilous, one of the classic sociological texts on the ethics of medical research; several Canadian colleagues (including  Nancy Olivieri, James Robert Brown, and Joel Lexchin of the University of Toronto; Laurence Kirmayer of McGill University; Jocelyn Downie, co-author of the CAUT Olivieri Report  and Françoise Baylis, both Canada Research Chairs at Dalhousie University; Arthur Shafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics of the University of Mannitoba;  Louis Charland of the University of Western Ontario; and Udo Schuklenk, Canada Research Chair at Queen’s University) and various other leading scholars from the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Various blogs and media reports have been raising concerns about the case in the past.

For more information on our action and on the case, see:

The media release about the letter

Pharmalot: Academics Want University to Probe a Suicide in Seroquel Trial

Edward Davies, in a recent article in the British Medical Journal

Jeremy Olsen & Paul Tosto, with a series of 3 articles in the St. Paul’s Pioneer Press.

A series of articles by Judy Stone in the online Scientific American, with as first article “A Clinical Trial and Suicide Leave Many Questions: Part 1” (links to following articles at the end of part 1)

Carl Elliott, on the Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center; and in an article for Mother Jones.

On Thursday 14 November, Carl Elliott will be giving the inaugural Olivieri Lecture at the University of Toronto in which he will talk about the case.

(I signed a petition some time back on this matter, and received the link to Lemmons’s letter via an e-mail update from the original petitioners.)


If you’re anywhere near Toronto on November 14, I strongly urge you to attend Carl’s lecture.  The man gives good speech.

When I was young

23 10 2013

I should be grading.

I did some, not enough, and the papers aren’t due back until tomorrow, but I wanted to cut down on the number I’ll have to do tomorrow night.

Whatever. I found a link to this Reddit thread, “What is the most philosophical thing you have ever heard a child under the age of 5 say?”  in a post by Tyler Cowen; herein are some winners:

pinkpickuptruck 2255 points 2 days ago

My little sister handed me a juice box as I was packing to move out and said “No one is really a grown up. They just act old because they have to”

whosthedoginthisscen 312 points 2 days ago

“This darn penis.” – my 4 year old nephew reacting to a tiny boner getting in the way of him practicing swimming during bathtime.

pehvbot 415 points 2 days ago

I was rock climbing and a kid and his dad walked by (it was in a publicly accessible park). The kid asked what we were doing and the dad said “Rock climbing”. The kid, his voice dripping with contempt, “Why? The father replies “For fun, you know like when you play video games”. And without missing a beat the kid says “Sometimes I lose at video games”.

JoshuaZ1 300 points 2 days ago

My little brother asked “how do we know that there aren’t any more numbers to count between 2 and 3.”

[–]EgonIsGod 256 points 2 days ago

“What am I alive for?” Existential distress is not the sort of thing you expect from a 4 year old at bath time.

KellyLoyGilbert 95 points 2 days ago

“You don’t know what I’m feeling inside.” A five-year-old boy to his mother as they were walking around Golden Gate Park.

stormborn_ 202 points 2 days ago

I said, E, what’s wrong? She responded “anything.” Perfectly describes that feeling.

tubabrox 155 points 2 days ago

I’ve been babysitting for a family since their oldest who is now 9 was a baby. When the littlest one was about 4 he dropped this one on me and I haven’t been able to forget it since:

“This is how the world works: people bein’ weird, then they die.”

PockyClips 19 points 2 days ago

I had a friend die in a motorcycle accident… He left behind a wife, a daughter, 4, and a son, 1. The day after a bunch of us his went to see them. We get there and his widow is a wreck, of course… She’s cleaning the house, rearranging cabinets, washing all of his clothes… Anything to keep busy. So the girls get her to relax for a bit and I took it upon myself to keep an eye on the kids. As I’m sitting on the couch, the four year old comes over to me and climbs into my lap. She’s says, “You guys are here because my Daddy died, huh?” I say, “Yes, sweetie, we are.” So we sit there a beat… I’m not a religious guy, but their family was. I didn’t know what they told her, what they wanted her to think about the whole sorry mess, so I decided just to keep my mouth shut. Then this sweet little girl looks up at me and says…

“Well, better him than me.”

And she gets up and goes back to playing. It was the most unsettling thing I had ever heard from a child… Yet she was absolutely right. Brrrrrrr…

Ericthemighty 26 points 2 days ago

I was teaching 2 years ago. I went over to the kindergarten where a friend was a teacher to get ready for lunch. I witnessed a little girl ask a boy about a bandage covering where he got stitches, doesn’t that hurt.. “Yeah, but I just don’t think about it.”

So many more.

And really, are you surprised that I picked out the snarky and the ontological?

And I’m a genius, genius

18 10 2013

I have no idea who Rick Scarborough or Peter LaBarbera are, but they are clearly GENIUSES!

Scarborough: Peter, the whole issue of a class action lawsuit, you and I have talked about this a little bit. I just wonder if you’ve explored that, talked to anyone about it. Obviously, statistically now even the Centers for Disease Control verifies that homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that. Any thoughts on that kind of an approach?

LaBarbera: Yeah I think that’s great. I would love to see it. We always wanted to see one of the kid in high school who was counseled by the official school counselor to just be gay, then he comes down with HIV. But we never really got the client for that.

I look forward to the lawsuits against freckles and left-handedness.


h/t Shadee Ashtari, HuffPo

Burning down the house

9 10 2013

Gillian Anderson, The Stranger

Not much for txt-spk, but: yeah.

Burning down the house

3 10 2013

h/t scarce, Crooks & Liars

Eric Giroux,

I hate hate hate the term “meme”, but when searching for these images, well, I just had to compromise with myself to suck it up to get the job done.