Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When Your Little Boy Needs A Life-Saving Experimental Drug, What Do You Do? Turn To Facebook.


7-year-old Josh Hardy was dying.

Today, however, that headline has changed to:

7-year-old Josh Hardy might live.

With the help of thousands of friends - via facebook and - Josh may be given a new lease on life through an experimental drug previously denied to him.

A Durham drug maker announced Tuesday evening that it will provide critical drugs for a dying 7-year-old boy after his family put pressure on the company to do so, largely through social media.

Supporters of a dying 7-year-old had planned to travel to Durham Thursday to convince drug maker Chimerix to release an experimental drug that could save the boy.

"Josh's Army", numbering in the tens of thousands, responded to his dilemma last week with angry tweets and notes on Facebook, and Chimerix's executives have gotten death threats. They screamed for "compassionate use."


Here's the way it [compassionate use] works: According to the Food and Drug Administration, if someone has a serious or immediately life-threatening disease and has tried and failed other available treatments, they can ask a drug company for an experimental drug, one that they're still studying and has not yet been approved by the FDA.

The All Or Nothing Dillemma

Chimerix, the producer of the experimental drug brincidofovir, at first denied the drug because it was not yet approved by the FDA for Josh's kind of virus. That's when people started screaming "compassionate use" at Chimerix. But the company said that if they gave it to Josh, they would have to give it to the hundreds of others waiting for it - at $50,000 each - a sum that would significantly halt the research on the drug. Chimerix is not a large company - it employs only about 50 people.

For the Chimerix/FDA solution, read HERE.

Let's hope that the combined efforts of Josh, his parents, Facebook,, the FDA and, yes, Chimerix produce the results everyone is hoping for. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

CPAC For Laughs: It's The Only Way To Take It.

Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan walk into a bar...

Except the "bar" was last week's CPAC, and the unintended hilarity proved that Conservatives (read: anybody not a commie-pinko-leftist) can't take a joke - because they ARE a joke.

In terms of intelligent dialogue, CPAC was almost painful: yes, Bachmann actually said that about the Tea Party, setting the tone for the whole affair. Rand Paul got the most applause, actually, because quoting Pink Floyd was, well, cool:
And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
To hell with the fact that most of Pink Floyd's lyrics railed against capitalism and the establishment that Paul's form of Libertarianism is trying to bring back. Yeah, it was real cool, man. Obama-bashing at it best!

Of course, while paling in comparison to Rand Paul's eloquent and oh-so-timely address, others did their best to regale the politico-culture war troops with their bravado: Mitch McConnell, for example, entered waving a rifle and Sarah Palin read her own version of Green Eggs and Ham:
I do not like this Uncle Sam, I do not like his health care scam;
I do not like these dirty crooks or how they lie and cook the books;
I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their crony deals;
I do not like this buy-in man, I do not like ‘oh yes we can’;
I do not like this spending spree, we’re smart, we know there’s nothing free;
I do not like reporters’ smug replies when I complain about their lies;
I do not like this kind of hope and we won’t take it ‘nope, nope, nope’
The crowd didn''t seem to care that Palin might be mocking Ted Cruz as well. Of course, SHE didn't know she was mocking Ted Cruz. Using one of the iconic political buffooneries of the last decade to lambaste the current administration only seemed to prove that conservatives are stuck in one gear: stupid. 

Speaking of stupid, Paul Ryan told a fake story about a little boy and his love of lunches in paper bags. "The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul." Unfortunately, while the totally untrue story had wings among CPAC attendants, Ryan had to admit to his fakery. They don't call him Lyin' Ryan for nothing!

And on the environment ...

Alex Epstein of the Ayn-Rand worshipping Center For Industrial Progress... said that it was silly to ask if humans are behind climate change, because that assumes that "if man did change climate, it would be a bad thing.”
Epstein added that if you are worried about man-made climate change, you are displaying “a prejudice against the man-made” or as he likes to put it, “human racism.”
CPAC: Working hard to make conservatism cool with the video, ‘N*gga, please’ Yes, you read that right. Real Story's full story about Raymmar Tirado's attendance at CPAC can be reader in the title, and the offending video is here. (I didn't want to dignify it by embedding it - see for yourself). It's all about "reverse racism" and how blacks are just as racist as whites. It purports to show how divisive reverse racism is by being divisive itself. So for a political group that's striving to "reach out to minorities," the video was the most counterproductive thing imaginable. 

And speaking about minority outreach, the "diversity" panel was a bit sparse.

CPAC's hilarity overflowed out into the streets and down the road to other PACs:

The Family Research Council’s executive vice president, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (retired), was caught on a “hot mic” following a panel yesterday at the National Security Action Summit, which was held just down the street from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Boykin could be heard, in an awkward attempt at humor, telling a reporter from Israel that “Jews are the problem” and the “cause of all the problems in the world.” Boykin told another reporter that President Obama identifies with and supports Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and uses subliminal messages to express this support.
Even laugh-fests must come to an end, and Ann Coulter brought everyone back to reality and declared:
“Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”
Of course, Ann Coulter(geist) can put a damper on anything.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Coming War: Arizona Was Only A Skirmish

It's My RELIGION, Stupid!

Religion has held a place in America's political and emotional landscape far greater than in most countries in recent history: the reverence paid to all things religious has been so resolute, so fierce, that whenever religion enters an arena, it is taken for granted that religion will gain the upper hand.* 

Religion in America has always gotten special privileges. Tax exemption is one, of course, but it has always been given the privilege to discriminate: it rarely has to "put up with" anything. After all, telling religion that it MUST do something is akin to ordering around God. Religion may be God's representative, but Americans have a tendency to equate the two instead. 

Perhaps that's why the relatively small fracas in Arizona caught the attention of the American public: in an article titled Arizona on Steriods, Think Progress wonders if the Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision on discrimination:

Unfortunately, Arizona is far from the only state where lawmakers are contemplating bills that would give the government, private businesses, and others the a license to discriminate under the guise of “religious liberty.” As Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote yesterday, “this didn’t start with Arizona, and it won’t end with Arizona.”
Freedom To Discriminate

For years, the gay rights movement has described itself as one of civil rights, with a great many people (especially African Americans) aghast at the idea that the two were ever alike. The situation in Arizona, however, gave more credence to the gay-rights-as-civil-rights meme than the Christian Right imagined: in other words, while crying for "religious freedom", it had to admit to another freedom it already had - the freedom to discriminate. Rich Lowry of the National Review stated as much (see below): Arizona SB 1062 was simply attempting to define a form of discrimination that was already on the books, and it was clearly aimed at discrimination against gays. It's undoing was it's broad terminology - so broad that it could be used to discriminate against anyone else for any number of reasons as long as providing the service or goods to someone was "against my religion." Gays were not only grouped in with unwed mothers and prostitutes, they were lost in a vast sea of people one's religion might not abide: discrimination is limited only to the thousands of doctrinal variants. 

The Coming War

The weapons used in any war depend upon who you are attacking, and the weapons of choice by the Christian Right will be the Bible and the Constitution, both used in the legislatures and the courts. To some, this might seem an unfair advantage, given America's reverence for religion: the enemy seems only to have the Constitution. But there is another weapon - totally ethical - which now eludes the Christian Right: America's conscience, it's sense of fairness. 

The strategy of the Christian Right in terms of it's newly found cry of  "religious freedom" will be to pitch each battle individually in each state, just as it has in its front on abortion. The battles will be won easily in states like Alabama and Mississippi, but expect blood to be shed in other states.


The coming war may seem to some to be bloodless, a battle for the rights of bakers to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples. Indeed, this is how the Right is portraying the whole confrontation: "We insist on our religious freedom to discriminate. Just go to another bakery!" This, however, is but a pretense: the implications and ramifications are far reaching and the Right can see victory on other fronts: discrimination can seep into the very fabric of America while under the guise of religion. 

And the Christian Right is still a formidable adversary - formidable to inflict wounds into gay rights, pro choice and other progressive movements. Spurred on by its own wounds from federal court reversals, the Christian Right feels that it is fighting for its life. 

... and it's "freedom."

*Case in point: the title "Reverend". The title is legal in over 28 states, giving the title holder the authority to perform marriages and conduct funerals regardless of which institution (if any) bestowed it on the holder. Yes, it's the reason I am able to call myself (legally), "Rev. Dan". To me, it is not only a statement of faith and commitment to the basic truths of Christianity, but also an acknowledgement of my studies in today's  theologies. But while I consider my right to it as legitimate as anyone else's, there are others who take umbrage and consider it an offense to the clergy.