Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Senator Grassley Takes on Evil Doctors

The Wall Street Journal (4/28, Rockoff) reported:

The Institute of Medicine recommended Tuesday that
doctors, medical schools,professional groups and drug makers
make far-reaching changes to prevent industry gifts and payments
from influencing patient care and research.The IOM, part of the
National Academy of Sciences, proposed the elimination of many
now-common practices. It said doctors, for example, shouldn't
accept meals,trips or other gifts from companies. Nor should
physicians participate in clinical trials if they have a financial
interest in the outcome, or sign on to ghost-written articles.
The IOM also said professional societies shouldn't accept direct
industry funding for the development of guidelines on treating
patients. And it recommended that companies disclose payments
publicly, and in a central place.
The recommendations, contained in a 353-page report,come amid
heightened concern and investigations -- often led by Iowa
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley -- about the impact that industry
gifts and payments have on doctors, medical schools, professional
groups and journals

I would like to re-write this little tidbit, to aim it, if you will, where it should really be aimed:

The American
recommended Tuesday that senators, congressmen, lobbyists, and other industry representatives, and make far-reaching changes to prevent industry gifts and payments from influencing the legislative process. The American Taxpayer, who elects funds and tolerates members of
proposed the elimination of many now-common
practices. It said legislators, for example,shouldn't accept meals, trips or other gifts from companies or lobbyists. Nor should legislators participate in junkets or golf outings if they have a financial interest in the outcome. The IOM also said legislators shouldn't accept direct industry funding for the development of guidelines having to do with the same industry. And it recommended that companies and legislators disclose payments publicly, and in a central place.
The recommendations, contained in a 353-page report, come amid
heightened concern and investigations -- often led by the American Taxpayer-- about the impact that industry gifts and payments have on Senators, Congressman, their aides, and family members as well.

See also, "Reforming Medical Ethics," my blog published on 7 March 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Matt Taibbi's True/Color

Matt Taibbi's True Color is blue, as in blue state. And he needs to brush up on his econo-terminology. In his post today on True/Slant he asks the following questions of "tea-baggers":

1. If you’re so horrified by debt and spending, where
were your tea parties when George Bush was adding $4 trillion
to the federal deficit?

2. If you’re so outraged by the bailouts, where were your tea
parties when the bailouts werefirst instituted by Henry Paulson
and George Bush last fall?

3. If you’re so troubled by pork, where were your tea parties
when the number and cost of congressional earmarks rose
spectacularly in each year of Republican congressional rule between
1996 and the end of the Republican majority in 2006?

First of all, "tea-baggers" is a sophomoric epithet, not worthy of a writer who is supposed to be a legitimate journalist. Second, why don't you learn the difference between the deficit and national debt. Even under the great borrower Obama, the deficit is not $4 trillion. Under Bush, the maximum deficit was around $450 billion, so even if the deficit were that large all 8 years, and it was not, the national debt would have been increased by less than $4 trillion. Obama is already way past the $4 trillion mark, and he has been president for less than 100 days. Third, we were outraged by the Bush/Paulson bailouts; you can ask Sen. Charles U. Schumer and Cong. John Hall about the emails I sent to them back then if you do not believe me. Fourth, we were and are outraged by republican pork. Why do you think they lost the Congress in 2006 and the Presidency in 2008?

However, Matt, when it comes to deficits and pork (and power grabs and prostration before petty potentates), the republicans are pikers. Put that in your pipe and puff it, Matt.

P.s. The tea parties were not just about bailouts, pork and taxes, although that is about as much as I can expect a liberal to understand. The tea perties, and the movement they represent, are about massive expansion of the federal government, and erosion of individual freedom that used to be guaranteed by the Constitution.

The first words of the Constitution are "We, the People of the United States of America," not "We, the Congress," or "We, the President."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nato Outmaneuvered by Somali Teenagers

This excerpt is from "Nato Forces Thwart Somali Pirate Attack," by Katherine Houreld, AP, posted on AOL News 4/19/09

The pirates' release underscores the difficulties
navies have in fighting rampant piracy off the coast of lawless
Somalia. Most of the time foreign navies simply disarm and
release the pirates they catch due to legal complications and
logistical difficulties in transporting pirates and witnesses to

Sounds like it's NATO that is lawless. Piracy with impunity is the new Law of the Sea. In Somalia, they have Sharia law. Does anyone think an Islamic court would just let them go, or would they amputate their hands or their heads? I am sure Roxana Saberi, who is a victim of Sharia law in Iran, longs for the treatment these pirates are getting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boo Hoo, No More Global Warming :(

The following is from an article written by Greg Roberts for The Australian, April 18, 2009:

A paper to be published soon by the British
Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years,the area
of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

Roberts reports that the recent publicity about loss of ice from the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which is in western Antarctica, is misleading. Eastern Antarctica, which is much larger than western, has had an increase in ice mass over the last 10 years or more. Nevertheless, says Roberts, the Australian Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, continues to maintain that Antarctica is losing ice rapidly, and continues to make exaggerated predictions about the effect on world sea levels. Garrett is certainly aware of the findings to be pulished in Geophysical Research Letters, since the study originated in Australia. Q: Why would he say something so contrary to compelling scientific evidence? A: Peter Garrett is the Australian equivalent of Stephen L. Johnson and Christine Whitman, the current and former heads of the EPA; i.e., Garrett is a political appointee, his words are politically motivated, and therefore he is not to be trusted.

Additional evidence is easily seen in the above NASA photos of the Amery ice shelf: between 2001 and 2002 there was growth, not shrinkage of this eastern Antarctica ice. This is hardly indicative of warming.

I wish to state for the record my own scientific observation that the sea level is not rising. I have made this observation in Delray Beach, Florida, where my in-laws live. I have been visiting them from time to time over the past 15 years, and the beach is exactly the same size now as it was in the 1990s, when the Clintons were warning about warming. Rush Limbaugh, as you know, owns a compound in Palm Beach, a stone's throw from the Kennedy compound, and slightly up the coast from Delray. I will start worrying about global warming when Rush and the Kennedys build levees around their properties, and not before.

Anyway, I am in favor of global warming, because it would mean a longer golf season in New York.

Photo credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, arrows added.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How Much is a Captain Worth?

The Somali pirates--Rush Limbaugh has dubbed them maritime organizers--are asking for $2000000. and safe passage in exchange for hostage Richard Phillips, captain  of the Maersk Alabama.  So, the pirates are now kidnappers as well.   How do we deal with the pirates?   That used to be an easy question, butnow, it turns out,  it is a thorny one.  Consider these excerpts from recent news:

The Royal Navy, once the scourge of brigands on the high seas, has been told by the Foreign Office not to detain pirates because doing so may breach their human rights. (Marie Woolf, TimesOnline 13 Apr., 2008)

The U.S. Navy says it is holding 16 suspected pirates it captured off the coast of Somalia aboard a warship while awaiting orders to move the suspects to Kenya for prosecution.  The agreement to hand over suspected pirates to Kenya was reached last month between the U.S. and Kenyan governments.  But, the agreement has raised questions and concern from a leading human rights group.  (Alisha Ryu, 13 Feb., 2009)

In 1815, when the United States led the world in crushing the pirates off the Barbary Coast, retribution was swift and final. They either went down with their ships, were executed on the spot or they were taken back to England or Jamaica for trial where they were usually hanged and left dangling on posts along piers as a deterrent to others. (Thomas Rose,, 5 Feb., 2009)

If, somehow, we capture these individuals, how will the Obama Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder, handle them?   We know it will become a Justice Department matter, because they have already sent the FBI to negotiate with the pirates.   By all means, President Obama, make sure that the rights of the pirates are protected.  We can not send them to Somalia, where they might have their hands or heads cut off (Sharia law);   we can not send them to Kenya, because it might anger Prime Minister Gordon Brown;  we can not send them to Gitmo, where they would get 3 Halal meals a day and a copy of the Quran, because we are shutting Gitmo down;  so it looks like they will have to go to Rikers Island,  so they can make a plea bargain and be out on the street in a couple of years.  

My solution is the 1815 solution:  rescue the captain,  kill the pirates.   Don't you long for the good old days?

Photo credit: Talbot/AP

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Obama Passes the Test

During the presidential campaign, Senator Biden predicted that the new president would be tested early in his reign.   The test has now occurred, and I am pleased to report that President Obama has passed with flying colors.

The clever test, the launch of an ICBM by North Korea,  was  developed by former members of the axis of evil  (I say former members, because the axis of evil does not exist any more, by presidential edict).   These include North Korea, of course, China, and Iran.   Perhaps the Russians had some input as well.  They launched this non-satellite-bearing missile over one of our closest allies, Japan; this was an intentionally provocative act.
And how did our tall, dark and handsome President respond?   He turfed the problem to the Security Council of the United Nations, so that the "global regime" could address the situation.
We all know what the UN will do:  nothing.  Even if a resolution with teeth were concocted in the Security Council, China would veto it.   

The reason the test was so clever is that now the axis members know what to expect from Obama:   words.    They now know that they are free to test ICBMs,  produce and test nuclear weapons, and threaten American allies, like Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Iraq, India, etc.   The are free because our response will be words.   America, formerly a beacon of freedom for the downtrodden of the world, is now working to bring freedom to brutal tyrants, communists, and islamofascists the world over.

So, why do I say he passed the test?  Because the test was administered by our enemies,   and as far as they are concerned, he passed with flying colors.   Also, he passed in the eyes of his political supporters, because anything that smacks of appeasement, that weakens America, that makes us seem less arrogant and more like the Europeans, that increases the threat to Israel and our other allies in the region--anything he does that works toward these goals is AOK with the democrats and their axis--I mean, allies--at home.

"Global regime"  source:  Jonathan Martin and  David S. Cloud,  "Obama Calls for World 'Without Nukes' ", 4/5/09

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama-Geithner Bailout = Disaster

I am not a financial expert, so I do not expect anyone to take my word for it that the Obama/Geithner/Congress bailout plans--aka the stimulus bill--are bad new for the American taxpayer.   Perhaps you will believe Peyton Young, who is James Meade Professor of Economics at Oxford and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  Also, he is British, not Republican, so he can be trusted.   Please read his linked article from the Financial Times.    While you are at it, read "Don't Eat Wall Street's Big Fudge," by Francesco Guerrera.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't You Feel Sorry for Smokers?

ABC World News reported this little tobacco update on April 2, and it was printed in the "AMA Morning Rounds" on April 3:

...the House passed a landmark bill [Thursday] that
would for the first time give the federal government sweeping
authority over tobacco. Under the measure, the Food and Drug
Administration would have the power to limit the nicotine in
cigarettes, to regulate ads and to require warnings to appear
in larger print. The Senate now takes up its version...

So it has finally come to this. Cigarettes will come with a patient insert. Dosage and Administration. Warnings. Drug Interactions. Tobacco junkies will be showing up in the E.R. to try to sweet-talk some drowsy ER doc into writing a prescription. Child-proof caps on packs of cigarettes. Here's a smart business move for non-smokers: buy a stockpile of cigarettes now, because after the FDA gets hold of them the price will skyrocket and you can make a fortune selling yours on the street. Put three Marlboros in a ziplock bag and charge $20.00.

Say Phillip Morris wants to come out with a new brand. They will have to go through a 5 or 6 year FDA approval process costing at least tens of millions of dollars to get permission to market it. Sales reps will barge into doctor's offices trying to convince them to prescribe this or that brand by giving the office staff post-its and pens. Wait, I forgot: they are not allowed to give out post-its and pens any more (see my blog "Reforming Medical Ethics" posted March 7, 2009), because doctors are too morally weak, and might prescribe medications just because somebody left them a pen.

You know what the problem with Congress is? They have no cojones (Spanish for "backbone").
If tobacco use is so bad--and it is--outlaw it. They will not outlaw it because: (a) they get too much money from the tobacco lobby, (b) tobacco company employees represent too many votes, and (c) by putting a government agency in charge, it gives Congress more power. Those, unfortunately, are the bottom lines for them.