Friday, 24 December 2010


Ken Berwitz

Following is the first part of a truly bone-chilling article by Peter Ferrara at  Read it, and then tell me we are not dealing with death panels:

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked its regulatory approval of the drug Avastin to treat late stage, metastatic breast cancer. Each year, the practicing oncologists chosen by 17,500 American women to save them from their life-threatening, heavily progressed cancer prescribe Avastin to treat them.

The FDA explained that it was revoking approval of the drug for that use because it decided that the drug does not provide "a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients." Risk? The drug is prescribed for women who are otherwise going to die from cancer unless the drug saves them at least for a time. The far greater risk to these women is from the FDA, not the drug.

As The Wall Street Journal said last Friday in response to the FDA's explanation:

Ponder that [word] "sufficient." The agency is substituting its own judgment about clinical meaningfulness for those of practicing oncologists and terminally ill cancer patients.

That FDA judgment was determined last summer by an internal agency panel of 13 experts, only two of whom were breast cancer oncologists, and none of whom were breast cancer patients.

Death Sentence for Mrs. Turnage?

Contrast the FDA's elitist, authoritarian, Ruling Class explanation for its bureaucratic dictat with the real world experience of Mrs. Turnage, whose story was told in a New York Post commentary on December 15 entitled "Don't Kill the Drug That Saved My Mom," by her son Josh Turnage. Josh explained:

In June 2006, my mom was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy, reconstruction and six months of chemo. Then just 44, she had "triple negative breast cancer," a rare and particularly lethal form of the disease.

As Josh observed, traditional therapies typically do not work against the disease that threatened to kill his mother at that early age. As a result,

A year after the initial diagnosis, the doctor told our family that the cancer had gone metastatic, or Stage IV, and had spread to her right lung. Such news is typically a death sentence.

But her doctor urged her to try a new experimental drug called Avastin, just approved by the FDA for breast cancer. Josh explained the results:

We got a miracle. After four months of Avastin treatment in combination with chemo, the cancer effectively vanished -- the doctors literally couldn't find any trace of the disease in her body.

In January, 2009, Mrs. Turnage's chosen doctors decided she could terminate her chemotherapy treatments and just continue with exclusive use of Avastin. Today, nearly two years later, she's still cancer-free.

Mrs. Turnage is a "super responder" to Avastin, one of a minority of patients receiving the treatment for whom the drug is powerfully effective. Tumors shrink for about half of patients receiving Avastin. On average, patients taking the drug with chemotherapy experience twice as many days or months with no progression of their tumors as those not taking the drug. That means they live longer, on average a few months longer, with their families and friends. Whether that and the chance for much greater success as for Mrs. Turnage is worth it is for patients to decide, with the advice of their doctors, not government bureaucrats.

As Josh rightly says, "We're talking about Stage IV cancer; the FDA should let patients and doctors decide if a medicine's benefits are worth the risks." That has been the tradition of freedom in America.

Josh explains the message from the FDA's decision to his mother, and to the American people:

By denying approval for this drug, the FDA is basically telling my mother and my family that her life just isn't worth the price. They're robbing her of a chance to celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary with my dad, or to see my little sister who is in kindergarten graduate from high school. Avastin has given my mom priceless time -- time to spend with me, my siblings, my father and all her other family and friends. No woman should ever be denied that opportunity by our government."

Bloodthirsty Progressives

The Susan G. Komen Foundation opposed the FDA's action. So did the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, a cancer patients' advocacy organization. The U.S. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 21 top cancer centers that issues medical guidelines based clinical evidence, also supports the continued availability of Avastin for breast cancer. Even in Europe, where health care rationing is prevalent, the European Medicines Agency, which is the FDA for the European Union, ruled last week that Avastin would continue to be available for breast cancer treatment there.

To no avail. In America, the FDA has spoken. Those super responders to Avastin like Mrs. Turnage, if not Mrs. Turnage herself, must die, the sooner the better.

The FDA's decision means that Medicare and Medicaid will likely refuse to pay for the drug for breast cancer. These government programs do not pay for costly medicines where not FDA approved. This in turn provides the legal foundation for private insurance companies to now refuse payment for the treatment as well. They are not legally obligated to pay for costly therapies denied FDA approval and rejected by Medicare and Medicaid. Otherwise, they could be forced to pay for dances by Indian Medicine Men to cure cancer.

By all means, click on the link I've provided and read Mr. Ferrara's entire commentary.  What you have just seen is only a fraction of the horror story he is talking about.

Now, tell me:  how many more decisions like this will be rendered once ObamaCare kicks in?

How many people - older people, people as young as Ms. Turnage, people even younger  - will die because of them.

Panels that decide whether life-saving medications will or will not be available are death panels. 


Is that clear enough?

May the courts strike down this abomination.

free` My insurance refuses to pay for a pain medication I need. The cost of it is $2700 a month. I could not live without this medicine, but the insurance company refuses to pay for it because the manufacturer says the medicine should be used by people with cancer pain. My pain Dr. says it is ridiculous to try and claim that someone in pain can only have a certain pain medicine if they have a certain disease. Pain is pain and it doesn't matter what is causing it while you are in pain. One other thing, my insurance covers a pain control patch that I wear that contains the same medicine that is in the other product they wont cover. Not sure why I am telling you all this, but this story has really touched me. (12/25/10)


Ken Berwitz

With my usual (though imaginary, because I rarely wear one) hat tip to the late, great Jimmy Cannon, here is another edition of:

Nobody asked me, but...

-The New York Times remains a loyal, acquiescent sycophant for Barack, Obama.  Today's letters to the editor column is loaded with nothing but fawning praise for what a wonderful job he did during the "lame duck" session of congress (and how awful Republicans are, of course).  Read it for yourself and see.  I just can't help thinking that somewhere, somehow, there must be a letter or two that does not see him in such grandiose terms.  But such letters are very, very hard to come by in the Times.

-Has there ever been a New Jersey diner with a sign that has all the letters lit?  Try and find one.  An especially egregious example - for a while until they finally fixed it - was the Bridgeway diner on Route 9 in Old Bridge.  It was missing the N and R....thus giving potential dinner customers the following message:  DI E.  I'm not kidding, either. 

-In one of his last acts as Governor-by-accident, David Paterson commuted the sentence of John White, who was convicted of killing one of the teenage thugs who came onto his property, threatening his son and apparently screaming racial slurs.  Mr. White chose not to call the police, but to confront them, gun in hand.  There are several versions of what happened next.  One is that a thug lunged for Mr. White's gun and it accidentally discharged.  Another is that White just plain shot him.  My take on this is that John White should not have done what he did;  if he had called the police instead of standing up to the thugs, everyone would probably still be alive and he probably would not have been in jail.  However, I have no sympathy at all for the thug he killed - or any of his equally thuggish buddies - and I'm damn glad the sentence was commuted.

-I wonder if the Yankees will really resign Johnny Damon for another year or two.  On one level it makes sense (i.e. Damon's swing is just about tailor-made for the Yankees' short porch in right field, and we know he has no problem playing in New York).  On the other, he is now 37, and very limited as a fielder.  I can see both sides. P.S. he never should have turned down the Yankees' offer and left the team last year. 

-The Daily Caller has a very funny and very telling compendium of some of the more idiotic and hubristic (often both) comments made by keith olbermann during the past year.  Read it and shake your head in amazement that MSNBC puts this guy in front of a camera.

-I was never that hot for Kohl's department store.  But this holiday season they are discounting a lot of things I can use, and they also sent me a card for an additional 30% discount (good for 10 days, expiring today), which makes them irresistible.

-Sunday morning is the only time I have found that I can get through the Staten Island Expressway and Belt Parkway - Brooklyn and Queens both - without hitting a traffic jam. 

-I know he'll immediately improve the team, but do the New Jersey Nets really want Carmelo Anthony - a hugely egotistical player who has made it pretty plain he'd rather be elsewhere?  If I were NJ, I'd stay patient.  Good, even great, players are always attainable for the right price, so why give away the store to someone who doesn't even want to be there?

-I wonder if Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana is going to make a run for the presidency.  I hope he does.

-I wonder if Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich are going to make runs for the presidency.  I hope they don't.

-Meghan McCain - whose qualifications for political analysis begin and end at who her father is - has become something of a media darling.  This will last until she says two or three positive things in a row about Republicans. 

-As something of a reference point for Ms. McCain, I suggest she consider what happened after Cindy Sheehan criticized, and then ran against, Nancy Pelosi.  Gone and forgotten.  You turn on one of our wonderful "neutral" media's icons, baby, and you're outta there.  Well, it also happens when you seem to be collaborating with what those same media see as the enemy camp.

-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a fast-rising star in the Republican Party.  But, although he has talked a great game, he has not held the office long enough, nor shown enough tangible accomplishments, to be considered for the presidency.  That said, he would make a very interesting Vice Presidential candidate, wouldn't he?

-Mark Levin is a tremendously intelligent, knowledgeable man - who loses me because of his abrasiveness and his tendency to scream during radio broadcasts.  He's getting the ratings, so I suppose he'll continue that way.  But I think he'd be better if he didn't.

free` Mark Levin is the only radio show I listen to. I download his podcasts for free at his website. If you have never heard him, he is worth a listen. He doesn't scream that much or maybe when he is I am also and don't hear him ;) (12/24/10)


Ken Berwitz

I bet you didn't know that the right wing dominates our media.  Well, according to no less an authority than New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, that is the way of things. 

Excerpted from Mark Finkelstein's blog at

Krugman's Cracked Complaint: Left Has 'Nothing Comparable' To Conservative Media

Do we really need, yet again, to compare the left vs. right media array?

On the port side, we'd start of course with none other than Krugman's own home base of the New York Times.  Include every other major newspaper with the exception of the Wall Street Journal [and even there its non-opinion pages point left].

Add in the three broadcast networks, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, academia, Hollywood, most major foundations, and countless liberal blogsand you have a mighty media infrastructure indeed.

And on the right? Fox News, talk radio, and some websites.  Pretty puny in comparison.

Only in the strange and wondrous world of Paul Krugman (and likeminded provincials) would the level of "right wing" infrastructure in our media be seen as dwarfing the left.

Maybe it's that if you're immersed in the New York City (Manhattan) culture, which ain't exactly a paradigm of political multi-dimensionality, you eventually come to the belief that anything right wing at all is too much, so several right wing venues, though a small fraction of the whole, is some kind of a tsunami.

My advice to Paul Krugman?  Get out more.  At least to the boroughs.  It's a big country, with a lot between here and LA.


Ken Berwitz

I just saw a youtube video, titled "The Digital Story of the Nativity". 

It is brilliant, and hysterically funny without at all being offensive (no small feat).

CLICK HERE to see it.  I promise you won' t be disappointed.


Ken Berwitz

My long-time pal, and co-author, Barry Sinrod, sent this to me today.  I thought it was both clever and funny (not an easy combination).  See if you agree:

Since more and more Seniors are texting and tweeting there appears to be a need for a STC (Senior Texting Code).  


If you qualify for Senior Citizen discounts, this is the code lineup youll need:
ATD: At The Doctor's
BFF: Best Friend Farted
BTW: Bring The Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM: Covered By Medicare
CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center
DWI: Driving While Incontinent
FWB: Friend With Beta Blockers
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
FYI: Found Your Insulin
GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
HGBM: Had Good Bowel Movement
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL: Living On Lipitor
LWO: Lawrence Welk's On
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas.
ROFL... CGU: Rolling On The Floor Laughing... And Can't Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
WAITT: Who Am I Talking To?
WTFA: Wet The Furniture Again
WTP: Where's The Prunes?
WWNO: Walker Wheels Need Oil
LMGA: Lost My Glasses Again
GGLKI (Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking In)


Ken Berwitz

The more we know about julian assange, the more we......well, you can finish that sentence your own way, after reading this latest demonstration of his, er, thinking process.  It is excerpted from  Laura Roberts' article at London's Daily Telegraph:

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange fears death in a US jail

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said he fears he will die in a US jail if David Cameron allows him to be extradited.

He claimed there was a "high chance" of him being killed inside prison in America.


Mr Assange is currently on bail facing extradition proceedings to Sweden on charges of sexual assault.

However there are reports that the US authorities are considering whether they could extradite him to stand trial for espionage over the leak of tens of thousands of diplomatic cables.


Mr Assange said that he believed that it would be "politically impossible" for the British to hand him over to the Americans if there was strong public support for him in the UK.


"It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.


He added: "Legally the UK has the right to not extradite for political crimes. Espionage is the classic case of political crimes. It is at the discretion of the UK government as to whether to apply to that exception."


He also said that if was extradited to the US, there was a "high chance" of him being killed "Jack Ruby-style" - a reference to the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald before he could stand trial for the murder of President John F Kennedy.


Jack Ruby died of lung cancer in 1967 three years into his prison sentence for the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.

I'll give assange the benefit of the doubt and assume that when he referenced being killed "Jack Ruby-style" he meant the way Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, not the way Ruby himself died.

That, however, is the only benefit of the doubt this hopelessly misfit, twisted little computer nerd is getting from me.  

It's not that I think he is wrong to fear the wrath of the United States.  If there are any Obama administration appointees functioning on behalf of our national security (and I assume some are), he has every right to be fearful. 

But we don't kill our prisoners in jail, even the most disgusting of them (think sheikh khalid mohammed). 

assange should stop flattering himself.  Without access to the classified documents, he is no big deal at all.  Not to the USA, not to anyone.

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