Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How Our Free Press May Reestablish Our War On Opioids

The Washington Post investigation of the process by which a House Republican neutered the ability of the DEA to perform its job demonstrated the importance of one our most important institutions.  The House Republican who pushed the bill through Congress was forced to withdraw from his nomination to the top job in our government in the war on opioids.  He been appointed by Trump as a reward for defending the drug industry against the DEA's efforts to prevent the free flow opioids to potential addicts.  I posted the investigation story yesterday which tells the full story of how the drug industry worked with Congress to stop the DEA from doing its job.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Watch An Event That Happened 130 Million Years Ago

Two neutron stars in a galaxy 130 million light years away from Earth collided.  A team of over 3,000 scientists collaborated in order to capture this event.  It is one of the most powerful forces in the universe because neuron stars are unimaginably dense.  When they collide they provide the basic elements that have formed the universe.

Paul Krugman Describes Ten Lies Which Are Being Used To Justify Trump's Tax Proposal

In case you would like a simple tutorial, which concisely refutes the lies being used to sell the Trump tax cuts as a plan for the middle class,  Paul Krugman provides readers of the NYT with the top ten lies.  Most of the NYT readers don't need this tutorial.  Trump's base might benefit if they took the time to read "fake news" in the NYT.  They get most of their news from the usual suspects who feed them the lies.  Most of them would rather believe the lies than make an attempt to understand them.  Of course, that is how Trump got elected.  He is a very successful carnival barker.  Many of his supporters voted against Obama's legacy, and against Hillary, more than they did for his economic policies.  He never explained how he would achieve his economic goals.  He just tells his base that he has great goals that are just for them.

Steve Bannon Praises Trump's Executive Order For Repealing Obamacare

Steve Bannon told a conservative group that Trump's executive order to end government subsidies to insurers effectively ended Obamacare.  Trumps order may have that effect, but he told a different story about his order.  Trump claimed that he was forced to act because the Justice Department told him the subsidies were illegal.  He also claimed that it would hurt insurer profits but that it would not affect those who are insured under Obamacare.  Did Bannon praise Trump's executive order wrongly for repealing Obamacare?  Or was this Trump's disguised intent?

What's Really Wrong About Our Government And How Trump Is Filling The Swamp

There have been over 200,000 thousand deaths from opioid over doses in the US.  That is greater than the number of US military deaths in the Vietnam war.  This article describes the efforts of the DEA to prevent the illegal dispersion of opioids by drug distributors and pharmacies in the US.  It is a classic example of the government swamp that Trump promised to drain during his election campaign. Drug industry associations contributed over $106 million to reduce the ability of the DEA to stop the over-dispersion of opioids.  At least 56 officials from the DEA, and the Justice Department to which the DEA reports, decided to earn more money by becoming lobbyists for the drug industry and some accepted executive jobs in the drug firms.  This is the classic revolving door in which government officials take jobs as lobbyists or executives in firms that they had been responsible for regulating.  Trump promised to stop that practice during his campaign.  Instead he has nominated a member of the House, who sponsored a bill that has substantially limited the ability of the DEA to stop the flow of opioids to the street, to the top job in the DEA .  The bill was written by a lawyer who had worked for the DEA division charged with monitoring the dispersion of potentially harmful drugs.  It was a simple thing to do.  Only a slight change in wording was necessary.  The DEA had been able to stop the flow of dangerous drugs by declaring an imminent danger to society.  The new bill approved by Congress, required the DEA to declare that the dispersion of opioids presented an immediate threat to an individual or society.  That is an impossible hurdle for the DEA to satisfy.  It has effectively preventing the DEA from doing its job.  It is no longer able to deal with the dispersion of opioids or limit the number of opioids produced each year by the industry.  The official who led the DEA efforts to fight against over dispersion of opioids was pushed out of his job.

The process by which Congress approved the new bill is well described in this article.  Tom Marino, who represents a district in Pennsylvania that has a high incidence of deaths from opioid over doses,  was the chief sponsor of the bill in the House.  He was joined by Marsha Blackburn who represents a district in Tennessee that also has huge opioid overdose problem.  She intends to run for the senate seat in Tennessee that is currently held by Bob Coker who is not running for reelection.  They were joined by 14 House Republicans and two Democrats from the House.  Their bill claims the intent to insure patient access to drugs and effective enforcement.  Apparently, effective enforcement means zero enforcement given the language change in the bill.  The bill was passed by unanimous consent with no debate in the House and the Senate.  The DEA, under new management, did not oppose the bill.

One would think that the highly visible problem of deaths from opioids would cause Congress to take strong action against a problem in which the street price for 30 opioid pill is $900 because of high demand from addicts.  That is not how our system works.  The drug industry, employing commonly used tactics described in this article, was able to maintain the flow of opioids and industry profits with little regard for their victims. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How Trump Might Use Executive Orders To Modify The Holy Bible

Dana Milbank is appalled by the Republican candidate for the senate seat in Alabama.  He is a Bible toting candidate who denied that he received any compensation from the Christian  charity that he founded.  It turns out that he is a hypocrite.  He paid himself $118,000 per year while he ran the charity.  Apparently, he believes that charity begins at home and that it is OK to lie about the million dollars that he paid himself.  A Republican member of Congress touted himself as a Christian who opposes abortion.  He was forced to resign when his hypocrisy was uncovered.  He had an affair with a woman half his age and he encouraged her to get an abortion when he learned that she was pregnant with his child.  Apparently, hypocrisy is an effective election tool for politicians running for election.  Dana Milbank decided to  make fun of Trump who is a serial hypocrite. Trump also likes to sign executive orders in front of TV camera's to impress his base with his power.  Milbank describes how Trump could use executive orders to modify passages in the Holy Bible to more accurately reflect his values.  He had to do a lot of research to come up with humorous examples to make his point.

George Will Compares Trump To Stalin Whose Flaws Were Ignored

George Will is one of our most visible conservative journalists.  His column is syndicated nationally and he is often a contributor on TV news shows.  He begins this article with an attack on Vice President Pence who has been performing as Trump's lap dog in his new job.  He builds up to a much stronger point in his concluding paragraph.  He argues that Trump's unfitness for the presidency was obvious two years ago.  Republicans have been covering for him since he took over the White House and started his attacks on our democratic institutions.  He suggests that the pandering Republicans are much like American Communists who supported Stalin while he transformed communism into totalitarianism.  They deserted Stalin, and his version of communism, only after Stalin made a deal with Hitler.  That was too late.  Stalin, like Trump, was unfit for his job well before his deal with Hitler.  Republicans are making the same mistake with Trump.  Trump's unfitness for his job was visible from the beginning of his campaign.

Those are strong words coming from Mr. Republican.  They may be too late.  Trump's control over the GOP base has been being used to scare Republicans who will face primary elections in states with numerous Trump supporters.  Unlike Stalin, Trump has not murdered his dissenting party members.  He has made them fearful of retaining their jobs.  Some may not like their job as they become another one of Trump's lapdogs.  Unfortunately, many may prefer being a lapdog to being unemployed.