Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sen Rand Paul Patriot Act Amendment Killed

As this blog post is written, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who this blogger considers to be a wacky guy on civil rights issues, is watching his Patriot Act amendment, called Amendment 348, go down in flames in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Paul, who worked to force an amendment to the Patriot Act that, if passed, would have effectively suspended the suspicious activity reports provision of the legislation, long and forcefully under the assertion that the basic rights of Americans were being violated.

But Mr. Paul's spirited presentation was greatly over-shadowed by fact that we live in a time of great fear of even possible terrorist attacks.

And when a deranged person is able to do harm to someone - as in the case of Jared Loughner's gun attack on Arizona Representative Gail Giffords - we ask 'How did they get the gun, and why wasn't law enforcement tracking them?'

Well, if Senator Paul had his way, America would have lost the ability to track any one who gave reasonable suspicion of terrorist behavior, by checking their gun purchasing records. Now are their abuses to the law? Yes. But throwing the 'baby out with the bathwater' isn't the answer.

Rand Paul sees the World via a rather narrow Libertarian lens. If he's to succeed beyond one term, he has to realize that view point, by design, is now always in accordance with America's desires.

Even hard-core conservative Republicans like Georgia's Saxby Chambliss (who said he owns more guns than anyone in the Senate) failed to support "my friend" Rand Paul in this vote, saying it would "harm law enforcement." 

Yeas 91, Nays, 4 Amendment 348 is withdrawn.  That means it's killed. 

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Vertex Incivek Patient Steve Goodwin On The FDA Approved Drug

In my last blog posts, I introduced the new drug INCIVEK by Vertex as a way to help people suffering from Hepatitis C. As I reported, Hepatitis C is a virus, particularly common among African Americans, and that causes inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis C effects an estimated 270 million to 300 million people Worldwide, 30,000 people in Santa Clara County, 12,000 people in San Francisco City and County, and 2,400 new cases were reported in 2010.

For this blog post, and as promised, I interviewed the main advocate for the use of INCIVEK. His name is Steve Goodwin.

Steve Goodwin is a chief engineer and a one-person band, talking to anyone who will listen about INCIVEK. In the video, below, Goodwin eloquently explains how he came to find out about INCIVEK via the use of the website Clinical Trials, at, and how it's helped him to a more normal path of life.

Steve also wrote a paper of INCIVEK and how it's helped him, and all of this has been his doing because he's, frankly, happy to be alive. Here's what he wrote:

I am eternally grateful to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the UCSF Medical Center, for providing me the opportunity to eradicate the virus that I likely had for over 35-years. I was part of a Phase 2b Study referred to as PROVE 3 in 2007. This study was designed for subjects with Genotype 1 Hepatitis C who had not achieved a Sustained Viral Response (SVR) with a prior course of interferon based therapy. I was most fortunate to be in the arm of the trial that has now been approved by the FDA. This included triple treatment of INCIVEK with the standard of care (SOC) for the first 12-weeks and then a continuation of pegylated interferon alpha 2a and ribavirin for the remaining 12-weeks. All said, my treatment was only 24-weeks compared to the previous SOC of 48-weeks.

Although I was asymptomatic for the approximate 35-years prior to obtaining the elusive cure, I knew that the viral infection was continuing to damage my liver in insidious ways that I was unaware of. I also educated myself on the disease and realized that I could not expect the disease to remain dormant forever. Recent studies have indicated that as an individual approaches the age of 60 and beyond, that the disease begins to progress at a much greater level, as compared to being young. The body’s ability to fight off the infection by replacing damaged liver cells is reduced with advancing age. I did not want to be part of those statistics and decided to do anything and everything I could to get the monkey off my back.

Regarding reported side effects, I would have to say that the worst thing for me was temporarily losing the ability to taste (hypogeusia) chocolate and coffee! As for the reports of rash, I had a slight increase in the sensation of itching (pruritus) but never broke out with any rash. I have inherited allergies and eczema, but found that I only needed to control myself from scratching. I found Gold Bond skin lotion as a great remedy for helping to reduce the itching and I wore white cotton socks over my hands while sleeping. I remembered the days when my daughters were babies! I tolerated the treatment quite well. I continued playing tennis, running the treadmill and traveled on vacation. So much of it has to do with attitude.

2007 was indeed a magical year for me. I was considered to be one of the most difficult groups of subjects to be treated: 1) treatment experienced – meaning that I had previously failed an interferon based treatment, and was a: 2) null responder - meaning that I had not achieved a 2-Log drop within the first 12-weeks of my previous treatment in 2003. I beat the odds and recognize that there are thousands of other people that remain infected today that did not achieve an SVR from a previous attempt at treatment.

Now does Steve's cheerleading benefit Vertex? Hell yes. But lost in that is the simple fact that the job of medicine to is save lives and help make our lives better. That's what happened for Steve Goodwin, and that's why he's so happy.

Tom Jones On American Idol, Mick Jagger On Grammys - Ageless Rockers

America got quite a cultural wake up call watching American Idol Wednesday night. After Scotty McCreery, who's bent is toward country music, won the singing competition, and got to meet Carrie Underwood backstage, the show ended with a performance by Sir Tom Jones.

Tom Jones, born June 7, 1940, is now 71 years old and from a time, the 1960s, of Go-Go Girls, James Bond, and his own show, demonstrated to a whole new audience that he's not only still got it, but at a high level.

The reaction to Mr. Jones was tremendous. "Tom Jones" as a keyword search was number one and listed as "Volcanic" on Google Trends and a top Twitter Topic, as well. When I shared a YouTube video of Jones' performance with my Mom - this one...

..My Mom's reaction was one of pure joy; she has been a big Tom Jones fan, and she raved about his performance, saying "He's from my time!"

With his American Idol presentation, Sir Tom effectively pushed together Americans who were 13, 33, 53, and 73 years old. Only a few performers can do that; Tom Jones and Mick Jagger are part of that club.

We're in a wonderful place where digital media has fused our culture in a way not possible 20 years ago. Jagger, The Rolling Stones front man, was rocking at the time of Tom Jones, and when he gave his rendition of "Everybody Needs Somebody," the reaction to 67-year-old Mick Jagger throwin' down at The 2011 Grammy's was equal to that of Tom Jones.

And, like Jones, young people who use Twitter to get their information, were sharing tweets about a person some in the media considered as getting too old to do his craft.

Forget it.

Mick Jagger and Tom Jones have shown that it's possible to have entertainers who transcend generations, and vast distances of time and culture, but that only could have happened with social media.

Social media has a larger and broader demographic distribution pattern than for standard media. So, a much larger part of the American culture is aware that Tom Jones and Mick Jagger kicked ass in the 21st Century, than would have been the case in the 20th Century.

Stay tuned.

Rob Woodall, Georgia GOP Congressman Health Care Hypocrisy

Georgia GOP Congressman Rob Woodall (GA District 7) was caught at a town hall meeting making a statement, or a series of them, that could only be borne of hypocrisy.

While lecturing a constituent about self-reliance, and saying "You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, 'When do I decide I'm going to take care of me?'"

But the woman he was trying to talk down to wasn't have any of it. She said I have a question about taking care of you. You have government subsidized health care, but you are not obligated to take that if you don't want to. Why aren't you going out on the free market in the state where you're a resident and buy your own health care? You lead by an example. Why aren't you leading by example?"

Congressman Woodall tried to dodge the question, but she's having none of it. Finally, after she pressed him regarding why he doesn't go and get health care on the open market, and takes the free, government-sponsored health care provided by the people of America, he says "Because it's free... Folks, if you give people something for free, you should expect them to take it."

Those are the words of a person who cares only about himself. The question is, does Congressman Woodall's selfishness represent the entire GOP?

Stay tuned.