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The Unapologetic Geek


Top 5 Heroes & Idiots of 2015 - Page 2

3. Martin Shkreli
Martin Shkreli

I probably don't need to tell you who this asshat is, but for the three people out there who don't already know and hate him, Martin Shkreli is the young CEO of Turing Pharmeceuticals, the company (which he founded) that recently raised the price of Daraprim, an antiparasitic commonly used to treat AIDS patients with toxoplasmosis, by 5,500%. To this day, Turing refuses to lower that ridiculous price, even as Shkreli is being hauled off to jail for believe-it-or-not totally unrelated securities fraud. Shkreli has been vehement in defense of the price hike, despite overwhelming public backlash, and a look back at his employment history reveals a record of immaturity and terminations, along with a bizarre fixation on gangsta rap. Indeed, shortly after the drug fiasco, Shkreli (with a group of investors led by him) conducted a hostile takeover of a competitive company, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, and placed himself in the CEO position, a position he's already been fired from as he quickly drove the company into filing for bankruptcy. Thankfully, despite Turing's refusal to drop the price of the drug, another competitor, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, is offering the best substitute they can for about a dollar a pill, proving that the free market can work, even when federal drug regulations have given Turing a monopoly on Daraprim.

Michael Wood
2. Michael Wood

Retired police officer Michael Wood spoke up in 2015 about racism and abuse of power that is endemic to American law enforcement in places like Baltimore, where he once worked. He is frank about it, discusses the insidiousness of it and the subtle ways in which it starts, and offers plenty of examples that have not been refuted. As a whistleblower, he has been the subject of slander and threats, but people like him need to keep coming forward so that we can deal with this problem in the daylight instead of pretending it doesn't exist. Readers know I'm not big on accusations of racism, but when it comes to law enforcement, there is a serious institutional problem that looks and smells an awful lot like racism. Make no mistakes: I did not come to this conclusion easily, but rather through a determination to look at the evidence and listen to people. Michael Wood--though merely a single (albeit brave) voice in a sea of similar voices--played a big part in that.

2. James Reynolds, et al
James Reynolds

Four cancer charities were brought to court by the Federal Trade Commission and all fifty states because, as it turns out, they spent the vast majority of the over $187 million donated to them for personal use--fancy cars, extravagant travel, sports tickets, etc.--instead of, you know, helping cancer patients or funding cancer research. Reading the complaint reveals layer upon layer of fraud and an utter disregard for humanity on the part of the owners and operators of these charities, all of whom are interelated and running out of each others' offices and such. Really, if you have low blood pressure, give it a skim, and I promise your blood pressure will go up. I can't in good conscience refer to these people as human beings, because they have far more in common with pond scum and toenail fungus, although even pond scum and toenail fungus don't deserve to be lumped in the same group as these degenerates. There are psychopaths and serial killers out there who would look at these four and shudder in disbelief. There is no punishment under the law harsh enough for this case, because even the death penalty seems like it would be going too easy on them.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
1. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Before we start, just watch this video. It's over seven minutes long, but it's worth every second.

So, while the rest of the country (myself included) was busy having a heated and relatively meaningless argument about a flag, the families of those who were murdered by Dylann Roof during a bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church came forward to face the murderer, explain their loss, anguish, and anger to him, and--most shockingly of all--forgive him. Again and again, they came forward to proclaim that hate wouldn't win the day and that they would pray for the soul of the man who shot and killed their children, spouses, and loved ones. Now, people know I'm not a terribly religious person, but I can think of no better light to shine on Christianity than this. Roof may not have been learning much during that bible study, but these people definitely understand the real meaning and message of that book. I look deep inside myself and can't say for sure that I'd be able to show such grace and forgiveness under the same circumstances, so I consider these people heroes, because maybe they're better human beings than most of the rest of us.

1. The Entire Republican Party
Mitch McConnell

In 2014, the American people made it very clear that they were in need of a change from Democratic control of the federal government. Going into 2015, Republican leaders were finally poised to make big strides and follow through on big promises to enact conservative reforms and limit government, to do away with big spending habits, to challenge the president on his multiple power grabs, to fight Obamacare to the last, and to force him to veto popular legislation. It seemed inevitable that the Republican Party was going to take advantage of the predictable swing to the political right that follows every swing to the left, but instead, 2015 was a disaster for conservatism. Instead of focusing on meaningful changes towards fiscal responsibility and economic freedom, the party became obsessed with social conservatism, with opposing gay marriage and celebrating the illegal and bigotted actions of Kimberly Davis; with xenophobic outrage over immigration laws and Muslim refugees; with "defunding" Planned Parenthood (something they couldn't even accomplish); and much more. Republican leaders in Congress behaved as though they were still in the minority, and they continued to pass bloated omnibus bills full of wasteful spending, contradictory incentives, and esoteric tax loopholes. They failed to push back against any of the president's executive actions. They cut a "deal" with the president that earned them nothing but turned a treaty into not a treaty so that it would succeed without the two-thirds support of Congress. They failed to send anything but the Keystone Pipeline approval to the president's desk for a veto. They conceded defeat before any political battles were even waged by declaring they wouldn't let the government be shut down, thereby giving the Democrats an airtight mechanism to get everything they want.

The last, best hope for the Republican party to be what it promised it would be is the coming presidential election. Before 2015, polls were extremely lopsided when any Republican was pit against various Democratic contenders, with the generic Republican always winning in a landslide. All they need to do is put up a primary candidate who is truly conservative, who has a record of leadership and accomplishment, and who can bring the country together instead of continuing to rip it apart. With so many candidates coming forward in 2015, surely the Republicans could choose someone like Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio, but most of the principled conservatives who have proven they can lead have already dropped out of the race because of atrocious poll numbers. Instead, the field is loaded with people like Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and another fricking Bush, as though the American people will be able to look past that name. Worst of all, they've got as frontrunner a man who is by no single measure a conservative, a man who spews arrogance and bigotry with every breath, a man who has never held political office, a man who is incapable of winning an argument without insulting and playing to a malicious crowd of angry idiots, and a man whom the media just can't stop falling all over themselves to report on: Donald Trump. Now, with over a third of the support of the Republican party going to Trump and with the real conservatives dropping like flies because they can't get attention, everybody from the leadership to the average registered Republican is to blame for what's happening to the party, and you've all proven that you don't stand for conservatism anymore. You are all but coronating the next president, and she isn't going to be a Republican. Great job, idiots! Hope you like the way the country's going today, because it probably isn't getting any better tomorrow.

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-e. magill 1/6/2016


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