Addiction in; Donation out…

… is the slogan of the opioid-mad Sackler family, which takes its massive dope-earnings and ploughs them into high-profile gifts that glorify the Sackler name.

“It’s amazing how they are left out of the debate about causation, but also about solutions,” Allen Frances, [a retired] Duke psychiatrist, said of the Sacklers. “A truly philanthropic family, looking at the last twenty years, would say, ‘You know, there’s several million Americans who are addicted, directly or indirectly, because of us.’ Real philanthropy would be to contribute money to taking care of them. At this point, adding their name to a building — it rings hollow. It’s not philanthropy. It’s just a glorification of the Sackler family.” According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, more than two and a half million Americans have an opioid-use disorder. Frances continued, “If the Sacklers wanted to clear their name, they could take a very substantial fraction of that fortune and create a mechanism for providing free treatment for everyone who’s become addicted.” Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, created the Nobel Peace Prize. In recent years, several philanthropic organizations run by the descendants of John D. Rockefeller have devoted resources to addressing climate change and critiquing the environmental record of the oil company he founded, now called ExxonMobil. Last year, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne told CBS, “Because the source of the family wealth is fossil fuels, we feel an enormous moral responsibility.”

The Center for Strategic and International Stupefacients…

… boasts on its board one of America’s most notorious opioid distributors: John Hammergren. As CEO of McKesson, he has flooded West Virginia and similar defenseless states with so many opioids that over the last ten years, while helping to destroy the lives of thousands of Americans, he has brought home seven hundred million dollars in personal compensation.

As Alfred North Whitehead reminds us, “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others.” Thanks, citizens of Kermit!

It must give the scholars at CSIS a warm feeling to ponder this major source of their funding (Hammergren is also a big-time donor). UD thinks the CSIS leadership should visit Kermit and give every one of its citizens a big fat kiss.

******************

To make it all even prettier, Hammergren chairs a CSIS task force on family health!

While you’re enjoying 60 Minutes, and following today’s news about Tom Marino (currently suffering from withdrawal), remember that opioid-loving drug czars may come and go, but people like Hammergren, given respectability by seemingly respectable academic outfits like CSIS, go on forever, destroying entire towns and setting health care policy.

‘The Audacity of Blaming Sex Addiction’…

… is an article in The Atlantic about Harvey Weinstein.

These are … problems of power and status that manifest as a violent disregard for others — a failure to acknowledge the autonomy of women or a problem accepting it and a compulsion to revoke it by force. So it feels especially jarring to hear that same person professing a lack of agency in these acts.

Whether you refuse to let women out of the house unless they cover every inch of their body with a black sheet, or refuse to let women transact business with you unless they take off their clothes and go down on you — whether it’s All clothes off! or King-sized sheet on! — it’s quite the same thing: The violent revocation of women’s autonomy.

The only thing that differentiates American from French culture in these matters is that when Dominique Strauss-Kahn (an uncannily identical twin to Harvey Weinstein) was himself finally outed, bigshot philosophers defended him.

[Bernard-Henri] Lévy says … that the man he calls a friend of 20 years, “bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd.”

BHL is a smart guy, but he seems unable to grasp that you can be an articulate, enlightened economist, or a sensitive maker of art films, and a primate.

Even at this early stage in the Penn State frat hearing, you have to admire the brothers’ all-American pluck, their sheer determination, to break laws and hurt people.

There’s a great, all-American saga playing out at that already-notorious campus, Penn State.

With multiple layers of monitoring (cameras, a live-in chaperone, a security firm), this alcohol-free frat went out and spent $2,000 on liquor and proceeded to haze to its heart’s content.

As everyone now knows, one of its pledges slowly and hideously, on camera, drank himself to death – all under the watchful yet indifferent eyes of the frat guys.

Watchful yet indifferent eyes – that seems the general theme, no? Was anyone monitoring what the cameras recorded? There are allegations at the hearing that the chaperone simply advised the guys to destroy some incriminating evidence. The security firm dropped in for a pointless cursory visit; it found no kegs because they were upstairs and the security people didn’t bother going upstairs for their three-minute stay (nice work if you can get it).

Are you, like UD, putting this picture together?

1.) An approved Penn State fraternity — Penn State, a university desperately needing to repair its public reputation — under three layers of surveillance because it’s so irresponsible.

2.) A night of total, unchecked, fatal debauchery.

3.) Defense lawyers blaming it on the victim, the national fraternity, and Penn State.

4.) A protracted and very ugly trial looming.

Ask yourself: What the fuck does Penn State think it’s doing?

Road Kill

[The fraternity brothers] were trying aggressively and affirmatively to make sure that Tim did not get help because it was against their interests,” [Timothy Piazza’s attorney] said. “They knew that if they were caught with liquor, if they were caught with a young man who had fallen down the stairs all those hours later, that it was going to be a problem for them. He was the unfortunate road kill in this adventure by these young men who thought that they were above the law.”

‘On March 30, Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi from campus, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive bad behaviors. “Penn State took action. But the public will wonder and they will need to address why it took this death for the university to shut down the chapter [where] there was an apparent history,” says Glenn Selig, chief strategist at the national PR firm, The Publicity Agency.’

No kidding.

‘If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, [we] found him behind [a bar] the next morning around 10 a.m. and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly because the kid’s health was paramount.’

Lug the guts behind the bar and blame it on the boy.

Video evidence, photographic evidence, and now written evidence. Text messages from a Penn State University fraternity – a fraternity in good standing – as it poisoned and then ignored a student. And then covered up its involvement in his death.

Why does this woman still hold a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University?

The main defendant is [Jumana] Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, who is charged with conspiracy, genital mutilation, transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, lying to a federal agent and obstructing an official proceeding. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison on the transporting minors charge. According to the indictment, Nagawala told federal agents that “she has never been present” for female genital mutilation — or FGM — on “any minor children” and that she has “no knowledge” of it ever being performed.

“Nagarwala then and there well knew she had performed FGM procedures on numerous minor girls,” the indictment states.

Yes, yes, wait for the outcome of the trial. But while she’s on trial, JHU, one of America’s preeminent medical schools, should issue a statement expressing its shock and disgust that one of its graduates has been indicted for these brutal acts, utterly at odds with any form of human morality, let alone medical ethics. And once she’s convicted, JHU should rescind her degree.

More Thievery at Chicago State University.

It’s beyond comic. It’s beyond tragic. It’s beyond tragicomic. At this point, Chicago State University’s den of thieves – a bunch of people educating virtually no one, all at Illinois taxpayer expense – is simply a national disgrace.

And as yet another high-ranking CSU administrator – this time the dean of the school of pharmacy – is accused of the theft of money (in her case, money intended to help minority pharmacists), those of us following this school (read my Chicago State University posts for background) have got to ask where the stewards of state taxpayer money are in all of this.

The Student National Pharmaceutical Association contends Carmita Coleman, Chicago State’s interim dean of the College of Pharmacy, siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization’s bank accounts for clothes, food and trips during five of the years she was executive director.

… [T]he alleged theft was discovered in late 2016 as the organization and Coleman were embroiled in a separate legal battle over the association’s leadership. [She refused to step down. Lucrative position, plus she must have known she’d get discovered if she lost the gig.]

Coleman was appointed executive director of the student association in 2006 and re-appointed four times, most recently in 2014.

National association leaders moved in late 2015 to appoint a new leader of the student group. Coleman, in response, tried to rewrite the bylaws to sever the two groups and allow the student organization to appoint its own director.

The national association in early 2016 went ahead with the appointment of a new director, Kimberly Lewis, a North Carolina-based pharmacist and professor. Coleman, however, refused to resign her position or turn over control of the association’s bank accounts, financial documents and other proprietary information, according to the federal lawsuit.

The national association sued Coleman in Cook County Circuit Court last May to try to oust her, records show. By October, according to the federal lawsuit, Coleman had agreed to step aside and transfer the bank accounts to Lewis in exchange for dismissing the state court litigation.

When Lewis came to Chicago to transfer two bank accounts to her name, the agent told her three other accounts for the student association recently had been closed, according to the lawsuit.

Lewis asked to see statements for the other accounts and found pending charges for a Carnival cruise …

Ladies and gentlemen of the great state of Illinois: I give you the dean of the school of pharmacy at CSU.

“You gotta have a swine to show you where the truffles are…”

… as George says in Edward Albee’s immortal Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and UD is telling you that if you follow the swine in this story… follow him all the way to the end of the story… you will find your truffle.

Bigtime Harvard donor Morris Zukerman’s going to jail because of uber-swinish tax evasion over decades. He has stolen at least $45 million from this country.

The truffle appears in this article’s very last paragraph:

In his defense, Zukerman submitted more than 100 letters from supporters vouching for his character, including one from Zbigniew Brzezinski, the U.S. national security adviser during the Carter administration, who presided over the marriage of Zukerman’s daughter and cited his “genuine patriotism.” He also submitted a 2007 letter from the then-president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Emily Rafferty, thanking him for a $100,000 pledge.

Ah, the genuine patriotism of the man who spent much of his working life stealing forty five million dollars from his beloved country… And thanks for the $100,000 pledge you also stole from the United States!

*********************

As for Zukerman’s beloved Harvard, that struggling school upon which he lavished huge amounts of stolen money… It even named a professorship after him! All about social justice, natch. The M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology.

And yet when you go to that page now, it’s The Professor Formerly Known as the M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology.

Fast work, that.

“The university not only informed the students of the new policy, but their guardians as well.”

Grabbing the guarded by the short hairs: Higher ed in Saudi Arabia.

Get used to it, kiddies!

One downside of making lots of money as a doc is all those strictly – really! strictly! – non-profit organizations demanding you take more and more absolutely positively necessary certification exams which strangely enough cost you a fortune and if you don’t pay up we’ll put a thingie on your record that says you aren’t certified which is like ooh scary gonna hurt your career…

All Strictly Non-Profit, let us reiterate! Ignore the “multimillion dollar apartments which offer owners chauffeur driven late model BMWs” the American Board of Internal Medicine has gifted to itself out of your fees!

**************

Yes, the ever-chiseling ABIM is an organization always able to come up with another crisis in patient care that cries out for another expensive set of certifying exams.

The ABIM has gotten so disgusting, however, that this dude has formed a breakaway certifying organization that charges hugely less and is drawing so many grossed-out docs away from the BMW organization that the BMW organization is now going Uh haha just kidding we’re going to… uh… pull back on some of these tests and … uh… maybe look at what we’re charging… and I mean hold on cuz we’re on it we promise…

****************

Sadly, the doc-chiseling starts well before ABIM has a chance to start threatening you with anemic certification. There’s the notorious Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, about which more and more med students are making a fuss.

Hundreds of medical students at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University are joining a nationwide campaign to eliminate a standardized licensing test they say is redundant and a financial burden.

Students say that the test – the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, which measures bedside manner and real-world problem-solving while students interact with people acting as patients – should be replaced with an alternative exam that the nation’s medical schools could administer free.

The Step 2 exam is expensive: There is a $1,275 registration fee, and because the test is offered in just five cities, students often have to bear the cost of travel and lodging.

… “There have to be better and more efficient ways to test students,” said James S. Gessner, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “There is absolutely no reason to bring students to five testing centers at a huge cost when the material can be administered on-site at schools.”

Yeah, but if they did that, the organization behind the test would be out $36 million a year.

Perfect Synergy at the University of Chicago: Professorships in Medicine Named for a Family of Alleged Medicare Crooks.

Nir Uriel has been named the Rabbi Esformes Professor in Medicine, the University of Chicago announced last week.

The announcement coincided with another one, from the Department of Justice, about Esformes’ son, who has been arrested for the largest health care fraud case in American history.

The father gets double billing with the son in many press accounts, since Rabbi Esformes established the family nursing home business (rumored to be filthy for every one of the years Esformes has denominated the University of Chicago’s most distinguished medical school faculty) which his son merely expanded to its current scope.

I can understand the respect and esteem of one of America’s most corrupt political bodies.

But is UD‘s old school so hard up that it needs to slap these names on its faculty?

The New Yorker Goes Too Far.

By all means share with me everything horrible that you know about Donald Trump. But don’t overdo it.

After many years during which he could have done a Mea Culpa, the guy who ghostwrote The Art of the Deal suddenly, on the very verge of the Republican convention, announces he’s all torn up about it.

He has launched his Remorse Tour with a New Yorker interview.

***************

The magazine refers to Tony Schwartz, in one of the article’s headlines, as Trump’s Boswell. The cutesy ironic reference means to flatter the magazine’s readers’ sense of themselves as highly educated and all, but really what’s the point? Does anyone think Trump was ever a wise kind literary genius for whom someone like Schwartz would act as a Boswell? Did Schwartz think that?

He must have thought something like that, since he describes himself (before remorse set in) as shocked and disappointed by Trump’s lack of a discernible inner life.

Really? And why did this guy, who describes himself as at one point in the distant past a legitimate writer, pen a book full of Trump-aggrandizing lies?

He knew that he would be making a Faustian bargain. A lifelong liberal, he was hardly an admirer of Trump’s ruthless and single-minded pursuit of profit. “It was one of a number of times in my life when I was divided between the Devil and the higher side,” he told me. He had grown up in a bourgeois, intellectual family in Manhattan, and had attended élite private schools, but he was not as wealthy as some of his classmates — and, unlike many of them, he had no trust fund. “I grew up privileged,” he said. “But my parents made it clear: ‘You’re on your own.’ ” Around the time Trump made his offer, Schwartz’s wife, Deborah Pines, became pregnant with their second daughter, and he worried that the family wouldn’t fit into their Manhattan apartment…

There are sob stories, and there are New Yorker sob stories. (And Atlantic sob stories.) How could he resist doing one of the scummiest things a writer could do? He was desperate. Although his parents paid for elite private schools, he was somehow “on your own.” While his classmates at these schools came from, let’s say, billionaire houses (like Trump’s), he came, let’s say, merely from millions.

Plus no trust fund!

Yes, he was able to live in Manhattan… but would his girls have to share a bedroom?

Given the success of their first outing, Trump approached Schwartz about a second writing project.

Feeling deeply alienated, [Schwartz said no, and] instead wrote a book called “What Really Matters,” about the search for meaning in life. After working with Trump, Schwartz writes, he felt a “gnawing emptiness” and became a “seeker,” longing to “be connected to something timeless and essential, more real.”

There’s so much bullshit here that at this point it’s tipping over into something good about Trump – an encounter with him is guaranteed to launch you on your journey of Awakening.

Tony Schwartz cashed in on Trump once; he’s cashing in again, enabled by a media culture that’ll use anything.

La Nausée

[M]any of the usual suspects just cannot bring themselves to join this year’s [Republican National Convention] — either out of principle, self-preservation, or an overwhelming sense of nausea.

*****************

‘Saturday the children were playing ducks and drakes and, like them, I wanted to throw a stone into the sea. Just at that moment I stopped, dropped the stone and left. Probably I looked somewhat foolish or absent-minded, because the children laughed behind my back. So much for external things. What has happened inside of me has not left any clear traces. I saw something which disgusted me, but I no longer know whether it was the sea or stone…

… Things are bad! Things are very bad: I have it, the filth, the Nausea…

… I wanted to vomit. And since that time, the Nausea has not left me, it holds me…

… [W]e have so much difficulty imagining nothingness. Now I knew: things are entirely what they appear to be — and behind them . . . there is nothing…

… I glance around the room and a violent disgust floods me. What am I doing here? … Why are these people here? …

… The Nausea has not left me and I don’t believe it will leave me so soon; but I no longer have to bear it, it is no longer an illness or a passing fit: it is I…

… And then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost the harmless look of an abstract category: it was the very paste of things, this root was kneaded into existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the sparse grass, all that had vanished: the diversity of things, their individuality, were only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous masses, all in disorder — naked, in a frightful, obscene nakedness…

… . We were a heap of living creatures, irritated, embarrassed at ourselves, we hadn’t the slightest reason to be there, none of us, each one, confused, vaguely alarmed, felt in the way in relation to the others…

… Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance. I leaned back and closed my eyes. But the images, forewarned, immediately leaped up and filled my closed eyes with existences: existence is a fullness which man can never abandon…

… I was nowhere, I was floating. I was not surprised, I knew it was the World, the naked World suddenly revealing itself, and I choked with rage at this gross, absurd being. You couldn’t even wonder where all that sprang from, or how it was that a world came into existence, rather than nothingness. It didn’t make sense, the World was everywhere, in front, behind. There had been nothing before it. Nothing. There had never been a moment in which it could not have existed. That was what worried me: of course there was no reason for this flowing larva to exist. But it was impossible for it … not to exist. It was unthinkable: to imagine nothingness you had to be there already, in the midst of the World, eyes wide open and alive; nothingness was only an idea in my head, an existing idea floating in this immensity: this nothingness had not come before existence, it was an existence like any other and appeared after many others. I shouted “filth! what rotten filth!”‘

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