Saturday, September 23, 2006

FDA and Big Pharma, GOP Loves Torture, Democrats Cave, Army Job Growth, John W. Dean, Security, Afghanistan, Bush Bucks and Conservatives and Your $.

The Bush Administration allowed big energy producers to dictate America's energy policy.

We all know just how well that worked out.

The Bush Administration also allowed the FDA to become a subsidiary of the big pharmaceutical companies.

Now we're finding out just how well that's worked out.

The federal system for approving and regulating drugs is in serious disrepair,
and a host of dramatic changes are needed to fix the problem, a blue-ribbon
panel of government advisers concluded yesterday in a long-awaited report.

The analysis by the Institute of Medicine shined an unsparing spotlight on
the erosion of public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration, an agency
that holds sway over a quarter of the U.S. economy. The report, requested by the
FDA itself, found that Congress, agency officials and the pharmaceutical
industry share responsibility for the problems -- and bear the burden for
implementing solutions.

The report represents a watershed moment after two years of controversy
over the safety of such widely used drugs as pain relievers and antidepressants.
The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academies, chartered by
Congress to advise the government on scientific and health policy issues. Its
recommendations traditionally carry great weight

You know the FDA's screwing us over when big pharma starts bragging about what a great job the FDA does.

"Though there is always room for improvements, it would be a mistake to accept
the notion that the FDA drug safety system is seriously flawed," the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement. "After
all, fewer than three percent of approved prescription drugs have been withdrawn
from the American market for safety reasons over the last 20 years."

How low can we go? In our rush to become the first rogue superpower, Republicans have become absolutely giddy over torture. They see torture as a winning issue in the mid-terms and are taunting Democrats to come out against it.

White House aides are practically daring such Democrats to oppose the
legislation. "Now the test is for the Democrats," a senior administration
official said. "What are they going to do? . . . This does show that there's a
consistent voice now on the subject coming out of our party."

And will our Democrats in Congress stand on principle and give the Republicans hell over their desire to stoop to such ineffective, inhumane and un-American practices as torture and the denial of due process for no other reason than political gain?

With Congress planning to adjourn by Sept. 30, it is possible that last-minute
snags could complicate or even prevent the bill's passage. But top Democrats in
both houses indicated that they will not stand in the bill's path and risk being
blamed for its demise.

These gutless, wusses are going to stand by and watch this country go down the tubes, because they are so afraid of being characterized as weak on terror by the Republicans. They make me sick and ashamed to be a Democrat. Anyone that is too spineless to stand up for what's right, doesn't belong in my party.

A lot of the reason for this "Torture is Good" legislation is to immunize it's practitioners and those who authorized it from prosecution. Now why would this be needed if you didn't think you were doing something wrong?

The 94-page text is dotted with language crafted not only to support future
rough interrogations by the CIA but also to improve the odds of obtaining
criminal convictions of detainees and to immunize officials for previous
violations of a federal law governing detainee abuse. The bill was introduced by
Republican leaders in the Senate yesterday after brief discussions with their
House counterparts.

A NYT editorial says it all.

Even before the compromises began to emerge, the overall bill prepared by
the three senators had fatal flaws. It allows the president to declare any
foreigner, anywhere, an “illegal enemy combatant” using a dangerously broad
definition, and detain him without any trial. It not only fails to deal with the
fact that many of the Guantánamo detainees are not terrorists and will never be
charged, but it also chokes off any judicial review.

The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of
Republicans to do the lifting. It’s time for them to either try to fix this bill
or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders
to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American
standards of justice, or further harming the nation’s severely damaged

The U.S. Army's getting ahead of the curve, by using the Rumsfeld plan of hiring civilian contractors to train all the new interrogators that this new law will create jobs for.

The greatest one-year expansion of the Army's interrogation program, from
500 to 1,000 trainees, took place in 2005, the year after public disclosure of
the scandals involving questioning of prisoners by Army intelligence personnel
at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Today, with the Army introducing a new
interrogation manual and Congress wrestling with legislation sought by the White
House that would legalize the CIA's more aggressive questioning techniques, the
number of people training to be interrogators is to rise again.

The Army is gearing up for the effort by hiring private companies to handle
the training. Last month, the service awarded contracts that could grow to more
than $50 million in the next five years to three private firms to provide
additional instructors to the 18-week basic course in human-intelligence
interrogation at Fort Huachuca.

Thanks to the right-wing propaganda machine, many Americans believe that President Bush is the only person capable of winning the "War on Terror". Take a guess about how many terrorists that the Bush Administration has brought to trial. If your answer is zero, then you are a winner.

For a good look at why Bush, the people who support it and this legislation are stupid read John W. Dean's excellent article, Thoughts on the "Bringing Terrorists to Justice Act of 2006".

For these (among many other) reasons, it makes sense to create a system of
military justice capable of dealing with these unique criminals, for the armed
services are far better equipped to deal with these problems, and they have
volunteered for such hazardous work. So why, five years into the war on terror,
has the Bush Administration been unable to bring a single terrorist to

The answer, it seems, is that politics has trumped everything for Bush.
The war on terror helps elect Republicans; bringing terrorists to trial,
however, could embarrass Republicans - for federal courts are making the
Administration play by the rules.

National security under Bush is a lot like FEMA under Bush. There's much talk, but very little action.

You'd think with the so-called stepped up security measures under the Bush Adminstration since 9/11 that something like the Capitol Building would be a fairly safe place.

Capitol Police officers warned their superiors this summer that the U.S.
Capitol needed tighter security because of construction work, but a door was
left unguarded this week, allowing the worst breach in eight years, officials
said yesterday.

A drug-addled man easily drove a Chevrolet TrailBlazer through a
partially blocked construction entrance to the Capitol grounds, according to
officials and court testimony. The man then outran two dozen police officers
into the building and went from floor to floor until a civilian employee lifted
him up and literally handed him to police. The officers found a loaded pistol in
the intruder's waistband.

You'd think that with all the bragging by Bush and Homeland Security about how secure this country is now compared to 9/11, 2001, the fact that more than 1,100 government laptops have "vanished", would seem a little incongruous.

More than 1,100 laptop computers have vanished from the Department of Commerce
since 2001, including nearly 250 from the Census Bureau containing such personal
information as names, incomes and Social Security numbers, federal officials
said yesterday.

Remember back when the Bush Administration was telling us about all the girls in Afghanistan being able to go back to school? Well, it turns out that that was just another one of those "Mission Accomplished" moments.

SHEIKHABAD, Afghanistan -- In a small, sunlit parlor last week, 20 little
girls seated on rush mats sketched a flower drawn on the blackboard. In a darker
interior room, 15 slightly older girls memorized passages from the Koran,
reciting aloud. Upstairs was a class of teenage girls, hidden from public

The location of the mud-walled home school is semi-secret. Its students
include five girls who once attended another home school nearby that was torched
three months ago. The very existence of home-based classes is a direct challenge
to anti-government insurgents who have attacked dozens of schools across
Afghanistan in the past year, especially those that teach girls.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, it's starting to look a lot like Iraq. It must be that damned media not telling us about all the good things that are happening over there, like we're winning the body count.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Militants ambushed a bus carrying construction workers in
the country's volatile south Friday, killing 19 of the laborers, while Afghan
and NATO forces said they killed 35 Taliban militants in two separate

There's good things happening in this country, if you're a Bush supporter.

“During the investigation, Secretary JACKSON’s Chief of Staff, as well as the
HUD Deputy Secretary testified that, in a senior staff meeting, JACKSON had
advised senior staff, to the effect, that when considering discretionary
contracts, they should be considering supporters of the President, language
consistent with the remarks made by JACKSON in Dallas, Texas, on April 28,

And if you've been getting that screwed over feeling lately, AlterNet has the reason. Top Ten Ways We Got Jacked by Conservatives

1) The Bush administration has created the biggest budget deficit, debt,
and trade imbalance ever while cutting funding for domestic needs like
education, Medicare, and Medicaid.

2) The administration’s tax cuts favor the rich, no matter how you look at
it. About 87 percent of tax benefits go to the 14 percent of households with
incomes above $100,000. Households with incomes below $75,000 -- three-quarters
of all households -- get just 5 percent of those benefits.

3) Bush signed the largest corporate tax break package in two decades, $136
billion. After World War II, corporations paid half the cost of running the
federal government. Today, they pay 7%.

4) The price of gas doubled under Bush. The top oil companies earned $25
billion during the quarter that Hurricane Katrina struck compared to $50 billion
for all of 2004. Former Exxon-Mobil, CEO, Lee Raymond got a $400 million exit

Enjoy your weekend.

1 comment:

  1. In light of the recent IOM report one has to wonder whether sweeping changes are going to do more harm than good. If the FDA is fumbling around with labels and taking it's sweet old time to approve drugs, then where does that leave the sick people who need them? This Guy tells it pretty well.


I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.

John Stuart Mill (May 20 1806 – May 8 1873)