Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Last Call

Pfizer is paying a record $2.3 billion fine to settle all legal matters due to Bextra and other drugs marketed at unsafe dosages.

Officials from the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services said the world's largest drug company promoted four drugs for use on certain ailments or at dosages that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

One of those drugs was the anti-inflammatory medication Bextra, which Pfizer pulled off the market in 2005 after it was linked to increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns," the Justice Department said in a news release.

A Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for "misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead."

The settlement announcement said Pfizer also illegally promoted the anti-psychotic drug Geodon, the antibiotic Zyvox and the anti-epilepsy drug Lyrica.

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli told reporters that recommending drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration creates a situation where "public health may be at risk."

Fines with the word "billion" in them tend to get the attention of industries as a whole. Here's an idea: use the money to increase the Food and Drug Administration budget, eh?

Pat Goes Over The Cliff, Screaming

And we've finally gotten to the point where with an African-American President and a Latina on the Supreme Court that Pat Buchanan has decided that Hitler guy was just somewhat misunderstood.
But you know who Buchanan does think deserves the benefit of the doubt? Adolf Hitler. No, I’m not breaking Godwin’s Law or comparing conservatives to Nazis. Here's Pat, in a column titled, "Did Hitler Want War?":

Comes the response: The war guarantee was not about Danzig, or even about Poland. It was about the moral and strategic imperative “to stop Hitler” after he showed, by tearing up the Munich pact and Czechoslovakia with it, that he was out to conquer the world. And this Nazi beast could not be allowed to do that. If true, a fair point.

Americans, after all, were prepared to use atom bombs to keep the Red Army from the Channel. But where is the evidence that Adolf Hitler, whose victims as of March 1939 were a fraction of Gen. Pinochet ‘s, or Fidel Castro’s, was out to conquer the world?

That whole invading Poland thing was clearly just a big misunderstanding. He didn't want war, he just wanted to arbitrarily annex whatever part of Europe he felt like having -- the response was clearly overblown, and maybe even a little rude.

I choose to respond through the power of Seth MacFarlane:

They were all on vacation. Also, what DOES Pat Buchanan have to say before MSNBC will just tell him "Look man, you're just an asshole. Go home."

Guns-A- Blazing

TBogg notes this story from San Diego about the "growing movement in America to openly carry guns."
A group of gun advocates openly carried their unloaded firearms to an Escondido mall Tuesday afternoon.

Many of the patrons at nearby restaurants said their actions were intimidating.

“I don't like it. This ain't the wild, wild west,” said James L. Higgins III of Vista.

Malls are dangerous, man. Haven't you ever seen an 80's movie?
The gathering was organized by Escondido Open Carry, founded by Escondido residents Gerald Reaster, 69, and Donna Woods, 77, in response to the growing movement nationwide to openly carry guns.
Hmm, I wonder, what's causing this sudden movement for being able to openly carry guns...TBogg?
Remember how often this used to happen before January 20th? Had the open carry advocates been, say, people of the dusky hue (particularly in Escondido), the mall would still be in lockdown and Gerald Reaster and Donna Woods would be filling up their Depends with warmed and filtered iced tea.....
Oh sure, we get one Seekrit Mooslim Fascist from Kenya in the White House, and now it's Deadwood 2009. Just want I want to hear about, septuagenarians getting cacked at Orange Julius.

Getting Closer

The President is considering doing what I mentioned he should have done months ago: give a major White House address with specifics on what he wants in a health care reform bill.
President Barack Obama is considering giving a major speech detailing specifics on what he would like to see included in a health-care reform bill, a senior White House aide said Wednesday.

Senior advisor David Axelrod told CNN, the president is looking at the possibility of a speech as "one of his options" in pushing forward his health care agenda after he returns from vacation at Camp David next week.

Obama has outlined broad principles for what he would like in health-care reform, but he has left most details to leaders in Congress. Now, White House aides say, the dynamic has changed.

"We're entering a new season," Axelrod said. "It's time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done."

Another administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity when discussing strategy, said the new phase was "driven in part by the actions of some in the GOP, including Senators Grassley and Enzi."

The official added, the White House believes those actions indicate that the two key Republicans — Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who are part of a bipartisan group negotiating a health care bill, "are essentially walking away from the table."

It may already be too late, but Obama is at least trying to correct the program and salvage something out of this he can sign into law. Will the public option be on that list? John Aravosis seems to think the answer is "no."
Axelrod has also confirmed that Obama considers the public option dead. But he thinks the "spirit" of Obama's campaign promise on what we were told was his signature issue lives on. Seriously. The spirt.

As to the fate of a government option plan to compete with private insurance, Axelrod suggested the controversial concept is gone but not forgotten: "The spirit that led him to support a public option is still very much at play here and so you know he wants competition. He wants choice. "
What other campaign promises does President Obama now consider null and void, even though their spirit lives on? Not to mention, is this what we should expect on every issue from the President - that he won't fight for anything he's promised, let the Republicans roll him, then he'll finally come in at the end and accept any deal, now matter how bad? If he's willing to do this on what he claimed was the most important issue of his presidency - health care reform - then no promise, no issue, and no constituency is safe.
"Gone but not forgotten"?

You mean like the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and Obama's second term?

Hey, it's crunch time, folks. If Obama's going to really drop the public option, then it's over.

This Just In, FOX News Has A Problem With The Obama Administration

Nice story from the FOX News guys about Color For Change founder and current Obama administration "Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones. The headline:

The story itself is even classier, taken from "remarks on a Youtube recording from February." Now gosh, why would FOX News have a problem with Van Jones and be on a crusade to attack the guy?

Oh, yeah. Silly me.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

John Cole notes that Republicans continue to shamelessly exploit the teabaggers by promising they will be the party of fiscal responsibility while at the same time advocating for zero Medicare cuts ever (not to mention more and larger wars in placed ending with -stan.)
Wow. It is almost as if this was all cynical partisan politics on the part of the GOP, and the libertarians and teabagging fools got totally played.
Perish the thought. It's like all the GOP cares about is getting back into power and then using it to obtain as much phat lewt as possible.

Wrangling Charlie Rangel

The calls are getting louder for Charlie Rangel to give up his gavel. Sure, Republicans want all Democrats to resign basically (just ask Nancy Pelosi) but for once, the GOP may have a point with old Charlie.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will let Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) keep his chairmanship despite his failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on federal disclosure forms, according to Democratic aides.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s latest misstep has received strong media scrutiny and prompted good-government watchdog groups to call for a special counsel investigation.

Growing ethical turmoil surrounding Rangel has prompted calls for Pelosi to yank Rangel’s gavel. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) on Wednesday called on Rangel to release his tax returns. He also said Democratic leaders should yank Rangel’s Ways and Means chairmanship if he refuses or if the returns show tax reporting violations.

“There’s enough [failures to disclose assets] that it’s starting to look more like a pattern…the public has a right to know if he pays his taxes and if he has a pattern of not paying his taxes,” Issa said in an interview with The Hill. “If he failed to file his taxes in any of these circumstances, he should not be allowed to be the chairman of the tax-writing committee.”

But Democratic aides say that Pelosi will not pressure Rangel to resign his post or censure him publicly unless the House ethics committee finds him guilty of misconduct or a prosecutor brings charges.
And Pelosi's response is most likely the correct one. If the investigations into Rangel find that there's a case there to be made, then yes, by all means, hang him out to dry. Until then, wait and see.

Personally, I don't know if even Charlie Rangel is powerful enough to make it through this one.

Jobapalooza Preview

ADP's preview of Friday's job loss numbers are coming in at 298K, still worse than expected.
The median of estimates from 31 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers, was for 250,000 private-sector jobs lost last month.

The ADP and Macroeconomic Advisers said its National Employment Report is designed as a proxy of the government's monthly non-farm payrolls report.

"Employment losses are clearly diminishing," Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisors, said in a statement. "Despite recent indications that overall economic activity is stabilizing, employment, which usually trails overall economic activity, is still likely to decline for at least several more months, albeit at a diminishing rate."

Still, economic activity is going to be largely curtailed as layoffs continue. We still need to get to +150K a month to get back on track, and by that number we're over ten million jobs shy right now in this country.

Going It Alone

The same Republicans that smugly predicted a "permanent majority" in Congress and used the budget reconciliation process on a number of occasions during the last administration to pass legislation over the objections of Democrats in the minority is now warning of a "revolution" should Democrats attempt to do the same.
"I think that would wreck our health care system and wreck the Democratic Party if they did that," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told reporters during a Tuesday conference call. "[T]here would be a minor revolution in the country."

He's beginning to sound like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Which is telling for a senator who's normally thought of as one of the GOP's less abrasive members. And though Alexander probably isn't the best source of information for what will or will not wreck the Democratic party, his dramatic words signal that the Republicans take the threat seriously.

And they're not just resorting to tough talk.

According to The Hill, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)--ranking member on the Budget Committee--has prepared "hundreds of procedural objections" to the Democrats' health care plan, should they try to avert a Republican filibuster.

(Back in 2005, Gregg argued in favor of using the reconciliation process to approve drilling for oil in ANWR. "The point, of course, is this: If you have 51 votes for your position, you win," Gregg said at the time. "Reconciliation is a rule of the Senate (that)...used before for purposes exactly like this on numerous occasions... Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so.")

So despite the hypocrisy, the Republicans are willing to do anything and everything possible to stop health care reform. The GOP doesn't want to debate the pros and cons of legislation. They are not interested in working with Democrats to get affordable health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. They have no intention of reforming the system or lowering health care costs that are spiraling out of control.

All they care about is stopping the Democrats from passing a bill. That's the only thing that matters, not you, not me, not anyone but their own fleeting political power. No, there's nothing wrong with "majority rules". It's how this country has worked for 230-plus years. When the majority changes, the rules change.

Republicans don't care about the process. They only care about winning. The Village of course is buying the GOP story that reconciliation is the worst thing ever done if Democrats do it and are playing them hook, line, and sinker.


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