Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Oh, NPR, stop fake assing

From Morning Edition (NPR) today:


In Oklahoma, a judge has ordered the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to help address the opioid crisis in the state. In his ruling yesterday, County Judge Thad Balkman said the drug maker disseminated false, misleading and dangerous marketing campaigns that led to exponentially increasing rates of addiction overdose deaths. The drugmaker rejects the ruling and plans to appeal.

And Sabrina Strong is an attorney representing Johnson & Johnson in this case and joins me on the line this morning. Thanks so much for taking the time for us.

SABRINA STRONG: Of course. Happy to join you.

GREENE: I know you have argued that Johnson & Johnson did not break the law here. You're planning an appeal. I just wanted to start with one of the core things the judge said. I mean, did the company have a marketing campaign saying that there was a low risk of abuse and low danger in prescribing opioids?

NPR brought on a huckster for Johnson & Johnson and let her talk and talk and talk.

She's not an informed person.  She's paid to say what she says.  She's paid by Johnson & Johnson.

She really wasn't challenged at any point by David Greene.  She got to say whatever she wanted.

At the very end of the advertisement/infomercial, they briefly brought on a reporter:

GREENE: Sabrina Strong is an attorney defending Johnson & Johnson in that legal action brought by Oklahoma. Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

STRONG: Of course. Thank you for having me.

GREENE: I want to turn briefly to Jackie Fortier. She's a reporter with public media initiative StateImpact Oklahoma who's been listening in. And Jackie, she's downplaying how many of these drugs have been abused in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Can you give me the larger context here?

JACKIE FORTIER, BYLINE: Yeah. I mean, this is a lot of what we heard during the trial. You know, her message this morning was that the drugs the company sold were approved by federal regulators and that they can't be tied to any deaths in Oklahoma. But I did think it was really interesting that she mentioned that there were no doctors in Oklahoma that had testified that they had been misled by the company's marketing of their opioids. That's true, but there were certainly doctors from other states who had treated people in Oklahoma who testified during the trial that they had been misled about the addiction risk of opioids. And the judge even referenced their testimony in his decision.

GREENE: And Jackie, one other thing that came up in that conversation - she kept calling this money damages that Johnson & Johnson has to pay. I thought it was money that is going to be spent to address the opioid crisis. Is that - is there - there's a distinction there, right?

FORTIER: Yeah, there is. I've had it explained to me by legal scholars that these are not damages because it's a public nuisance claim. That instead, the way that this money was calculated was that it would go towards treatment. It's not what the state has spent on the opioid crisis. But rather, it's an amount of money that would help fix it.

GREENE: Jackie Fortier reporting for the public media initiative StateImpact Oklahoma, covering this case. Thank you so much, Jackie.

What a waste of tax payer money and the airwaves.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019.  Support for Joe Biden appears to be slip-sliding away, Iraq's prime minister finally finds his (weak) voice, and much more.

The race for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination continues and things just continue to get worse for the press favorite Joe Biden.  The former Vice President spent the weekend publicly declaring "I'm not going nuts," for example.  When you have to declare it, you've already got a problem.  And in the clip below he stumbles around whatever it is he's trying to say and in a manner that should have everyone freaking out at the notion that he might share a debate stage with Donald Trump.

Joe Biden is clearly experiencing some sort of brain disruptions. He needs a full neurological work up.

This is not normal.

0:50 / 0:50

Rebecca Fishbein (SPLINTER) observes, "Obviously, one sluggish interview doesn’t mean anything, but this keeps happening, so much so that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how 2020 Biden will be able to keep up with Donald Trump’s admittedly biting barbs on a debate stage."  This comes as Ben Schreckinger (POLITICO) reports:

Joe Biden’s younger brother told potential business partners that the former vice president would help their firm land business with court systems and would incorporate their health care model into his 2020 presidential campaign, according to new allegations made in a court filing in Tennessee.
The allegations are consistent with others made over the years that relatives of Biden have sought to enrich themselves off of his public service. But they go further, representing the first explicit claims that James Biden offered to have the former vice president use his clout to further private business interests.

The charges are similar to previous ones made against James Biden and Joe's son Hunter with regards to Paradigm Global Advisors.  And James Biden's Iraq contract never should have happened either.

  • Did you know:

    Joe Biden's brother, James Biden was given a $1.5 Billion dollar government contract to build homes in Iraq during the Obama Administration

    How many billion dollar deals were given to the Biden family while he was VP?

    Why is this getting no coverage?


    While Joe Biden was Vice President, the Obama Administration awarded his brother, James Biden, a $1.5 billion contract to build housing in Iraq.

    Joe Biden’s brother had ZERO documented history in residential construction.

    Why is nobody talking about this corruption?

    Joe pushed for the Iraq War and his family got rich off of it.  Isn't that what we usually say about Dick Cheney?  Why in the world would we give the presidential nomination to someone like that?

    More and more, it appears that we won't.

    Stephen A. Crockett Jr. (THE ROOT) reports:

    Recently, America’s dumb-ass Uncle Joe came out of his face to ask a crowd to imagine if America’s first black president, would’ve been assassinated.
    “Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee?” Biden asked a crowd at a Hanover, N.H., stop on Friday.
    While we get the point he was trying to make, at least two older black women in the crowd sucked their teeth and mumbled, “F**k this bats**t crazy ol’ white man.”*
    Well, looks like his “Who has two thumbs and is President Barack Obama’s best friend?” schtick is drying up as a new national poll from Monmouth University shows Biden now in a three-way tie with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    THE WEEK notes:

    In a new Monmouth University poll, former Vice President Joe Biden's popularity was shown to be dropped by 13 points ( with 19 per cent support). Whereas, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren's popularity is just ahead of Biden (at 20 per cent).

    The poll also showed Biden losing members of his coalition. This makes the next round of debates in September crucial for him. Biden's decline comes from registered Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning voters. He has also lost support among people who don't have a college degree and those under the age of 50. Warren's popularity has risen slightly while Sanders' has remained stable.

    Of the polling results, Camilo Montoya-Galvez (CBS NEWS) explains, "Monmouth's pollsters attributed the decline in support for Biden's candidacy to several developments. The former vice president lost the backing of some voters who identified as moderate and conservative Democrats, with Warren and Sanders gaining traction among these voters. Biden also lost support among more liberal Democrats, who contributed to the modest gains by candidates like Booker, Castro, Williamson and Yang."

    New Monmouth poll has Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren slightly ahead of Joe Biden nationally.

    Warren: 20%
    Bernie: 20%
    Biden: 19%
    Harris: 8%
    Booker: 4%
    Pete: 4%
    Yang: 3%

    After Sanders, Warren and Biden, who comes next?  At 8% is Kamala Harris, 4% is Cory Booker, 4% is Pete Buttigieg, 3% is Andrew Yang, and at 2% are Julian Castro, Beto O'Rourke and Marianne Williamson.  As for Tulsi and a host of others?  Montova-Galvez reports, "The rest of the candidates polled at 1% or lower."

    Which is too bad for them.  The window for the next debate is closing.  Tomorrow is the last day a poll can show up and be counted.  And Tulsi needs two more new polls to come along and find her at 2% or higher in order to qualify for this round of the debates.

    She and her campaign are increasingly worried those polls will not arrive (and they're probably right) which is why she's suddenly concerned about the qualification criteria.  When it worked to get her on stage in June and July, she was all on board.  She didn't take a moment to complain about it or to express that maybe other candidates who didn't qualify, like Iraq War veteran and US House Rep Seth Moulton, should be on the stage.  She just cared about herself.

    And now she needs two polls to come along -- approved polls -- in less than 48 hours or she doesn't make the cut.  Now she's concerned.

    Fair or not, these rules are not being made up as the campaigns go along.  They were established and in place.  Do I think they're fair?  No, I don't.  And I've said that all along.  But for someone like Tulsi to complain only when the rules don't work in her favor is nothing but sour grapes.

    Kamala Harris (8%), Cory Booker (4%), Pete Buttigieg (4%), Andrew Yang (3%), Julián Castro (2%), Beto O'Rourke (2%) and Marianne Williamson (2%). The rest of the candidates polled at 1% or lower.

    Meanwhile, how are things going in Iraq?

    This is what the US-led wars of aggression on Iraq, over a period of 28 years (1991-2019), have reduced Iraqis to do in one of the richest countries and one of the most ancient civilisations on the planet!

    What a proud moment for Joe Biden who has said he regrets nothing -- that would include his vote for the Iraq War, his support for that war, his efforts at selling that war.  He regrets nothing.

    Apparently, over a million dead Iraqi civilians just help Joe sleep better at night.

    Cheryl K. Chumley (WASHINGTON TIMES) reports:

    Before ISIS, Mosul was home to 15,000 Christians. In July, Mosul was home to about 40. Any questions?
    “This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing ‘Islamophobic’ than defending their own brothers, [has] sadly worked,” The Gatestone Institute wrote.
    Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq and home to one of the largest Christian populations in the region before the rise of, and persecution by, ISIS, now has the reputation of celebrating Christmas, minus the Christians. And yes, political correctness — fear of calling out Islam for what it often is — is in large part to blame.
    The Voice of the Martyrs lists nine major radical Islamic groups, including Al Shabab, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and the Taliban, responsible for persecuting Christians from Afghanistan to Kenya to Libya.

    I don't know that I agree with her conclusions -- political correctness, for example -- but this is a serious issue.

    Other issues that may be at play in the lack of attention this issue receives?  The western press has a complete lack of interest in Iraq.  The topic bores them and they must always be stimulated or they don't play well with others.  The issue of Christianity is a topic that the US press struggles to avoid.  From being "p.c."?  No because so many of us on the left are hostile to Christianity (I am not hostile to any religion, just FYI).  The topic may also suffer because it's 'way over there' and proximity is the focus of news in the US.  In addition, this is both a complex and ongoing issue so if they report it tomorrow, they know some of the reaction will be, "Why is this the first I'm hearing of it?  Have you been sleeping on the job all these years?"  In addition, US broadcast networks don't have a lot of reporters over there.  (CBS has one reporter in Iraq, at last count, and they were the only broadcast network who had any reporter on the ground in the country.)

    Meanwhile, last week's admission by US government officials that the government of Israel has been bombing Iraq continues to create shock waves.  AP reported yesterday:

    A powerful bloc in Iraq’s parliament called on Monday for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, following a series of airstrikes targeting Iran-backed Shiite militias in the country that have been blamed on Israel.
    The Fatah Coalition said it holds the United States fully responsible for the alleged Israeli aggression, “which we consider to be a declaration of war on Iraq and its people.” The coalition is a parliament bloc representing Iran-backed paramilitary militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

    REUTERS notes, "Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Monday condemned air strikes on Sunday that hit bases and weapons depots belonging to Iraqi paramilitary groups, which the factions blamed on Israel."  They forget to note that this is the first time Adel Abdul Mahdi has said a word about this -- despite the fact that reports first emerged at the end of July, despite the fact that last week, former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki issued his own statement calling out the bombings.  Mahdi has become not only inept but also invisible.

    Nicholas Sakelaris (UPI) reports:

    Iraq's second largest political party on Tuesday called for a total withdrawal of U.S. forces after Israel carried out attacks on Iraqi military bases, which killed one military commander.
    A series of Israeli air raids Monday attacked bases and weapons depots in Iraq belonging to Popular Mobilization Units, which is comprised of mostly Shia Muslim militias. 
    The Fatah Alliance said it blames the United States for the Israeli aggression and considers the strikes a declaration of war by Israel. The party said U.S. troops are no longer needed in Iraq.

    The following sites updated: