Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lies, damned lies, and what the GOP functionaries have to say about



Property taxes ...

I must say that I am amazed at the GOP reaction to the property tax situation.

Rachel Stassen-Berger, whom all pols must certainly follow on twitter, had an article in the Strib on February 28.

"Minnesota property taxes hold steady, Revenue Department says"
link: http://ow.ly/udNr4

which stated, among other things, that:

"Revenue Department officials found that city, county and school levies went up about $125 million this year, but that was before $133 million in state property tax aids and credits were returned to taxpayers."

Now many GOP functionaries repeatedly tweeted that the DFL had increased property taxes by $125 mil, WITHOUT mentioning the $133 mil in state property tax aids.

For example:

"@sclosmore Mar 03, 1:35pm via HootSuite
ICYMI - House Non-Partisan Research: "Statewide, property taxes are increasing by $124 million" bit.ly/NNKNA7 #mnleg #stribpol"

This was re-tweeted multiple times by GOP functionaries who must have known better.

Have you ever bought a car and claimed that its cost was list, without deducting rebates, incentives, and discounts? The cost of a car is the net price you actually paid.

Simply put the GOP claims about property taxes are dishonest. And Minnesota voters are not stupid, contrary to the claims of many on the right.

Another amusing aspect of the property tax question is the 180 done by the GOP on this matter. When they were at the controls, and cut LGA, we were told that the subsequent increase of property taxes was not in their legislation. This was a decision to be made at the local level and thus they bore no responsibility.

Now we are being told that it is the Governor and legislature's fault that property taxes went up - even though they didn't. Again such inconsistencies will hopefully be made clear during the coming election.

Getting it wrong twice on this issue is standard operating procedure for people like Berg, Golnik, and Closemore.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Who's the fairest one of all?








There is a new entrant in the Minnesota GOP Princess derby!

Right now, Sheila Kihne is several lengths ahead of Laura Gatz, the self-styled GOPrincess.

However a dark horse has entered the fray, one Casey Kim.



The distinguishing characteristic they have is being entitled #mngop windbags. The one who is the crudest and rudest is clearly Ms. Kihne, although Laura Gatz has shown signs of Kihne like behavior.

Casey Kim is of the same mean-spirited, impervious to facts, type. She is the center of the universe apparently. To be fair, she is not quite the potty mouth of her two rivals. This counts for a lot in being a GOP princess.

So here are some profile shots.  

 










The screen captures are just for identification. They've each got more of the same, some of it worse.

You'll notice that Laura Gatz has changed quite a bit. So there's hope for you yet, Casey Kim. 

I'll keep an eye on this threesome and see if anyone pulls ahead in the Princess Derby. 


Friday, July 19, 2013



Thomas Swift - Suspended Again on Twitter


As documented many times on this blog, Mr. Swift has a very sad record on Twitter. He is a disturbed right winger who now lives in South Carolina but continues to spread vitriol on the net here in Minnesota.

While in Minnesota Mr. Swift was a smutty cartoonist whose artistry would be pathetic for a third grader. He was also a candidate for School Board in St. Paul, almost unbelievably, with a GOP endorsement.  Swift is a pathetic loser who should be an embarrassment to the Minnesota GOP, although no one in that party has so far disowned him.

His lattest incarnation "@Tjswift2" has just been suspended:


wbgleason, Jul 10 08:12 am (PDT):

What username is causing the issue?: @Tjswift2

Tweet I am reporting: https://twitter.com/Tjswift2/status/354970772214792192


Blocked user(s): Yes

How many times has this happened?: many times
Further description of problem: This character is "RTing" things supposedly by .@wbgleason These RTs are bogus and a pattern of continuing harassment

Your full name:William B. Gleason

SamuelFisher, Jul 19 03:56 am (PDT):

Hello,

Thank you for providing this information.

The account has been suspended and the profile has been hidden from public view.

Please let us know if we can assist further, or if you experience problems going further.
Thanks,

SamuelFisher
Twitter Trust & Safety

Upon clicking on Mr. Swift's twitter username, the following message currently appears:





Monday, June 10, 2013



Thomas Swift Notified by Twitter

That His Tweets Are Abusive


Nothing new here to regular readers of Sunlight. 
Swiftee is a pathetic example of all that is wrong with the right wing in M'sota and also in his new home state - South Carolina.

My email to Twitter:


How can we help?: Abusive messages
Reported user: @TJswift2

Offensive Tweet: https://twitter.com/Tjswift2/status/339765743497383936
Text of Tweet: @Arouet_FM HEY WB GLEASON. BET YOU'RE JUMPING UP & DOWN ON PILES OF ROTTING TRASHBAGS, TOSSING FECES IN THE AIR, RIGHT? #Bachmann #stribpol
Tweet time: May 29 2013 15:30:40 via Mobile Web (M5)

Offensive Tweet: https://twitter.com/Tjswift2/status/339169474483740672
Text of Tweet: @TjswiftSC<- Not fucking around Bill Gleason, Drop it or I swear, litigation will follow; you are a fucking lunatic. #stribpol #mnleg #umn
Tweet time: May 28 2013 00:01:18 via web

Offensive Tweet: https://twitter.com/Tjswift2/status/339203458521518080
Text of Tweet: @wbgleason Listen U piece of shit. If U want 2 take me on do it with UR own name. Fuck with me again at UR legal peril. #stribpol #umn #narn
Tweet time: May 28 2013 02:16:21 via web

Offensive Tweet: https://twitter.com/Tjswift2/status/339168767202435075
Text of Tweet: @TjswiftSC <-- @prezkahler please keep your garbage, Prof. William Gleason under control, or my attorney will. Not kidding #umn #stribpol
Tweet time: May 27 2013 23:58:30 via web

Response from Twitter:

Hello,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have notified the user that this behavior is in violation of the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules).

Friday, May 31, 2013

How the Right wing rolls...

Another SwiftBerging sock-puppet.

Pretty pathetic.

e.g.




 And so it goes...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Is the Truth about Dan Markingson and the 

University of Minnesota

Composed of Lies?





Shame and Guilt in Minnesota



Professor Carl Elliot has apparently not read the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." People do not like to be told by busybodies like him that they are shirking their moral obligations. This makes them very unhappy.  

I considered an alternate title and illustration for this post based on the biblical reference: 


"But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." Mark 4:6

I have run into situations like this before. They have been described on The Periodic Table. It may be that this kind of behavior is prevalent in large organizations where people feel relatively unprotected and the survival instinct is strong. 

How this matter is ultimately resolved will say a lot about the University of Minnesota. 

Full disclosure: I have signed the Markingson petition mentioned below. 

Dr. Elliot writes in the Hastings Bioethics Forum:


Carl Elliott, 04/24/2013 Over the past month, a petition asking the governor of Minnesota to investigate a research scandal at the University of Minnesota has been steadily gathering momentum. 

The scandal in question originated in 2004 with the suicide of Dan Markingson in an AstraZeneca-funded study of antipsychotics. The petition to investigate the scandal is backed by a number of high-profile supporters, among them Lancet editor Richard Horton, former BMJ editor Richard Smith, three former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine(Marcia Angell, Arnold Relman, and Jerome Kassirer), Wellesley College historian Susan Reverby, who uncovered the Guatemala syphilis studies, Hastings Center co-founder Daniel Callahan, and over 200 scholars in bioethics, clinical research, medical humanities, and related disciplines.

The petition also has a noticeable gap. Very few signers come from the University of Minnesota. In fact, only two people from the Center for Bioethics have signed: Leigh Turner and me. This is not because any faculty member outside the Department of Psychiatry actually defends the ethics of the study, at least as far as I can tell. What seems to bother people here is speaking out about it. Very few faculty members are willing to register their objections publicly. Why not?  Well, there are the obvious possibilities – fear, apathy, self-interest, and so on.  At least one person has told me she is unwilling to sign because she doesn't think the petition will succeed. 

But there may be a more interesting explanation that I’d like to explore.  For those who are unfamiliar with the scandal, however, let me backtrack briefly and explain the events in question.  (You can read the longer version in Mother Jones magazine and additional background in a Bioethics Forum post.)

In late 2003, Dr. Stephen Olson, the head of the schizophrenia program at the University of Minnesota, recruited an acutely psychotic young man named Dan Markingson into an AstraZeneca-funded research study of antipsychotic drugs.  Olson enrolled Dan despite the fact that he had been repeatedly judged incapable of giving informed consent, despite the fact that his mother objected to his participation, and despite the fact that Dan had been placed under an involuntary commitment order that legally compelled him to obey Olson’s recommendations. For months, Mary Weiss, Dan’s mother, tried desperately to get her son out of the study, warning that his condition was worsening and that he was in danger of committing suicide. Her warnings were ignored. In May 2004 Dan stabbed himself to death with a box cutter so violently that he nearly decapitated himself.

The research study itself was plagued by ethical problems:  financial incentives to keep subjects in the study as long as possible, conflicts of interest for the investigators, an inexplicable gap in the exclusion criteria, and a questionable scientific rationale.  AstraZeneca was eventually forced to pay $520 million in fraud penalties, and some of its misconduct was traced back to the University of Minnesota.

You might think that events this alarming would prompt a university investigation. That is not what happened.  Instead, the university blocked Mary’s efforts to get Dan’s medical records, and when her lawsuit against the university was dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity, it filed a legal action against her, demanding $57,000 in legal costs.  Even as evidence has accumulated suggesting a much larger problem involving more psychiatric studies and more mistreated subjects, the university has stonewalled every effort to get to the truth.

Why would faculty members remain silent about such an alarming sequence of events?  One possible reason is simply because they do not feel as if the wrongdoing has anything to do with them.  The University of Minnesota is a vast institution; the scandal took place in a single department; if anyone is to be blamed, it is the psychiatrists and the university administrators, not them. Simply being a faculty member at the university does not implicate them in the wrongdoing or give them any special obligation to fix it.  In a phrase: no guilt, hence no responsibility.

My view is somewhat different.  These events have made me deeply ashamed to be a part of the University of Minnesota, in the same way that I feel ashamed to be a Southerner when I see video clips of Strom Thurmond’s race-baiting speeches or photos of Alabama police dogs snapping at black civil rights marchers. I think that what our psychiatrists did to Dan Markingson was wrong in the deepest sense. It was exploitative, cruel, and corrupt.  Almost as disgraceful are the actions university officials have taken to cover it up and protect the reputation of the university.  The shame I feel comes from the fact that I have worked at the University of Minnesota for 15 years. I have even been a member of the IRB.  For better or worse, my identity is bound up with the institution.

These two different reactions – shame versus guilt – differ in important ways.  Shame is linked with honor; it is about losing the respect of others, and by virtue of that, losing your self-respect. And honor often involves collective identity. While we don’t usually feel guilty about the actions of other people, we often do feel ashamed if those actions reflect on our own identities.  So, for example, you can feel ashamed at the actions of your parents, your fellow Lutherans,  or your physician colleagues – even if you feel as if it would be unfair for anyone to blame you personally for their actions.

Shame, unlike guilt, involves the imagined gaze of other people. As Ruth Benedict writes: "Shame is a reaction to other people’s criticism. A man is shamed either by being openly ridiculed or by fantasying to himself that he has been made ridiculous. In either case it is a potent sanction. But it requires an audience or at least a man’s fantasy of an audience.  Guilt does not.” 

In scandals, this imagined audience can produce very different, even opposite, reactions.  On the one hand, it is what leads many people to try so hard to keep scandals secret. This impulse to cover up wrongdoing can be toxic, as the Catholic Church has discovered.  But it is also what leads insiders to speak out publicly against a scandal. By speaking out, you show that you are separating yourself from the wrongdoing in order to maintain your honor and self-respect. You are saying to the world, “Do not think that I am a part of this.”

Shame and honor may seem like old-fashioned ideas, but if you read the comments left on the petition by University of Minnesota alumni, you cannot help but be struck by their language. “How shameful for UMN, my alma mater.”  “I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota and want to be proud of my school, but following this case has made me deeply ashamed.”  “I am a University of Minnesota alumn, and I am ashamed of my alma mater right now.” “To call this merely shameful would be wholly inadequate.”  “Attended U of MN Medical School and then U of MN Psychiatry residency – ashamed of the Psychiatry Department.”  “I am a graduate (CLA, 1981) and ashamed of the way the University continues to handle this tragic case.”  “The University's legal team should also be ashamed of their behavior in further victimizing this family.”

Obviously, this shame is something I understand, or else I would not be working so hard to raise awareness of the petition and convince others to sign on.  (You can sign the petition here.)  I also believe that the truth will eventually come out, and when that happens, there will be more than enough shame to go around.  The refusal to investigate will only make things worse.  As Jesse Ballenger writes on the petition, “As a faculty member at a university (Penn State) now notorious for failing to investigate abuses, I find the refusal of the University of Minnesota to confront this scandal sadly familiar.”

Carl Elliott, a Hastings Center Fellow, is a professor at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. His most recent book is White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Feckless Thomas Swift


makes an ass of himself, yet again:




Apparently Mr. Swift was unaware of Mitch Berg's real problems with garbage in his yard...





You'd think the Pair o Thugs would be embarrassed about this, but they are not smart enough, I guess.