Monday, June 11, 2012

Headlines - Monday June 11

Rush Limbaugh Sez: "There's not a whole lot of masculinity in Barack Obama like there is in me."

No surprise this excellent idea was turned into legislation by Senator Bernie Sanders, who does this valuable duty about once a week.

Dean Baker in The Guardian:

Drugs are cheap. There are few drugs that would sell for more than $5-$10 a prescription in a free market. However, many drugs in the United States sell for hundreds of dollars per prescription and, sometimes, several thousand dollars per prescription. There is a simple reason for this fact: government-granted patent monopolies.

The government gives patent monopolies to provide an incentive for drug companies to carry through research. This is an incredibly backward and inefficient way to pay for research. It leaves us paying huge amounts of money for cheap drugs. It also often leads to bad medicine.

We can do better - and Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a way. He has introduced a bill to create a prize fund that would buy up patents, so that drugs could then be sold at a free market price. Sanders's bill would appropriate 0.55% of GDP (about $80bn a year, with the economy's current size) for buying up patents, which would then be placed in the public domain so that any manufacturer could use them at no cost.

This money would come from a tax on public and private insurers. The savings from lower-cost drugs would immediately repay more than 100% of the tax.


The Sanders prize fund bill would go far towards eliminating the problems that pervade the drug industry. First, it would end the nonsense around getting insurers or the government to pay for drugs. If drugs cost $5-$10 per prescription, there would be no big issues about who pays for drugs. This would eliminate the need for the paperwork and the bureaucracy that the insurance industry has created to contain its drug payments.

We would also end the phony moral dilemmas we create for ourselves with drug patents. Should Medicare pay $100,000 a year for a drug to treat a rare cancer in an otherwise healthy 80 year old? This dilemma becomes a quick no-brainer when the drug is available for $200 a year in the free market with no patent protection.

The Sanders prize fund could also put an end to many of the deceptive marketing practices that the industry now employs to push their drugs, overstating the benefits of their drugs and concealing potentially harmful side-effects. It is rare that a month goes by when there is not a scandal along these lines. If the drug companies no longer stood to gain billions in profits from such deceptive marketing, they wouldn't do it. It would also likely reduce much of the waste in the current research process. Drug companies often spend large sums developing copycat drugs that are of little medical value, but can allow them to get a portion of a competitor's patent rents.


The Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Research project that we will spend almost $4tn on prescription drugs over the next decade. This is almost $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It's long past time that we did some serious thinking to ensure that we are getting better value for this money. The Sanders prize fund bill is an important step in this direction.

The only downside of this plan is that it does not put trillions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the already obscenely wealthy parasite class.

So of course repugs will reject it.


Dominionism is here now

The claim that one's personal religious freedom requires the freedom to ignore all rules and laws one doesn't like isn't American democracy; it's theocracy squared. That's Dominionism.

The Courier:

Hundreds of protesters, including Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, rallied Friday outside the federal courthouse on Broadway to protest new federal mandates that require coverage of contraception costs for most employees.

The protesters, part of a day of similar rallies planned in 164 cities around the country, took aim at what Roman Catholic bishops and their allies contend is an assault on religious liberty.

Give a freakazoid a contraception waiver, they'll want a pass to kill gays.
Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:

A North Dakota ballot intitative appears designed to allow anti-gay groups to openly defy bans on discrimination, and it is written so expansively that it could authorize thousands of North Dakotans to outright ignore everything from traffic lights to medical access laws - all in the name of supposedly protecting religous liberty. Under the proposed state constitutional amendment, which appears on state ballots June 12:

Government may not burden a person's or religious organization's religious liberty. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.

To translate this a bit, many states and the federal government exempt religious believers from some laws that "substantially burden" their religious faith. The North Dakota initiative, however, targets any law that merely "burdens" a person's religious faith. In other words, even the most minor inconveniences to religious practices would be suspect under the initiative. A person who is running late to church could claim it is illegal to make them obey traffic lights.

Worse, the law could have severe consequences for gay men, lesbians and other groups disfavored by the religious right. As law professor Marci Hamilton explains, the initiative appears worded to bypass the Supreme Court's recent decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez which held that anti-gay groups cannot force state universities to fund them in violation of the university's anti-discrimination policy.

Nor is the initiative the only example of the religious right trying to be above the law. An appeals court in New Mexico recently rejected an argument by an anti-gay business owner which could have exempted New Mexicans from any anti-discrimination law - including bans on race and gender discrimination - that they have a religious objection to. Similarly, conservatives ranging from the Catholic Bishops to Speaker John Boehner claim that the Constitution gives them sweeping immunity from laws they disagree with. Even conservative Justice Antonin Scalia has rejected the bishops' view.

These are the same people who rave on about muslin terrists, which is as hilarious as it is frightening, because they are true soul mates with the Muslim freakazoids running theocracies in Iran, Saudia Arabia and Afghanistan (and soon Egypt.)

David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

It's amazing how seamlessly rightwing rhetoric on healthcare mandates ties in with forcing the troops to pray to Jesus and abolition of public education for these people. Sometimes I wish they could go found their own little country somewhere, fulfill their strange mix of economic libertarian and social theocracy on their own turf and see how well it works out for them.

Go Galt, freakazoids! Wall Street and the Catlick Church were made for each other.



Oklahoma Christian Publisher Prays With, Fires 25 Workers

Jesus may Save, but apparently he can't do much about job retention.

That's what 25 employees at Tate Publishing & Enterprises, a Christian book and music publisher in Mustang, Oklahoma, learned after they were unceremoniously dumped from their jobs last week.


In An Atheist Manifesto, Sam Harris argues that belief in God, and appeasement of religious extremists of all faiths by moderates, has been and continues to be the greatest threat to world peace.


Isn't impersonating a police officer a felony? 

Oh, that's right. Not when your daddy is governor and you're a spoiled, over-entitled, rich, prep school kid:

In another questionable display of his inner prankster, it now appears that Romney was also reportedly fascinated with police uniforms, which he sometimes put on to carry out elaborate practical jokes.


According to classmate Robin Madden, Romney once brought a group of classmates up to his dorm room where he showed them his Michigan State Trooper's uniform.

Said Madden in a recent interview, "He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father," George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. "He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler."

In Madden's recollection, confirmed by his wife Susan, who also attended Stanford during those years, "we thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, 'Wow, that's pretty creepy.' And after that, we didn't have much interaction with him," although both Madden and Romney were prep school boys living in the same dorm, called Rinconada.

"It's funny because I don't suffer any consequences for my sociopathological behavior!"


CONGRESS: 33 GOP House Cosponsors For Bill To Allow Prayer For School Boards

"This is not an issue of school prayer, it's an issue of a fact that a school board -- like the legislature or Congress or the Supreme Court; a deliberative body making decisions that have the force of law -- should be, if they desire -- not mandated, but if they desire, and the community supports it -- that they should be able to open in prayer." - Rep. Tim Walberg, whose bill to allow prayer before public school board meetings has 33 GOP House cosponsors. Walberg is a former pastor and manager for the Moody Bible Institute.
The parents of a boy who died of appendicitis while they prayed for Jesus to cure him will not go to jail. Unbelievable.
A jury acquitted JaLea and Greg Swezey of Carlton of second-degree murder charges for failing to call a doctor or ambulance before their son Zachery died of a ruptured appendix in 2009. However, they still faced manslaughter charges. JaLea Swezey pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mistreatment and received a suspended sentence. Greg Swezey was charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment and his case was continued for two years. The Swezeys are members of the Church of the First Born, which believes in faith healing.
As part of their plea agreement, the parents have promised to call Child Protective Services the next time one of their children becomes ill.
The sea level is a liberal conspiracy

As Chez likes to say, the Republicans are beyond parody. A state delegate in Virginia thinks "sea level rise" is a liberal conspiracy.

State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the "sea level rise" study in the General Assembly to one on "recurrent flooding," said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said "sea level rise" is a "left-wing term" that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

"What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door," Stolle said. "Let's focus on that. Let's study that. So that's what I wanted us to call it."

Or how about this, Mr. Stolle. How about you tell your Republican followers to wise up and accept the fact that "sea level rise" is real and they should stop paying attention to idiots and conspiracy-mongers who say otherwise?


Farewell to the Red Deer River.

An oil pipeline burst in Canada yesterday spilling at least 475,000 liters of crude oil into a rain-swollen Red Deer River system in west-central Alberta. The pipeline's operator Plains Midstream Canada says when the spill was discovered Thursday night after calls from residents it closed off its network of pipelines in the area.

Recent heavy rains have swollen streams and rivers in the area, some to near flood stage, and local officials are concerned the oil will spread more quickly down the system. A nearby resident said that there is oil in the water and it is moving downstream. "It's going to be a major environmental concern for sure."

You know what we need? More oil! Specifically, more Canadian oil. Nothing says "progress" like a filthy polluting fuel source better suited for a hundred years ago. Brilliant.


The Washington Post is reporting that Mitt Romney's latest energy plan involves drilling in and around national parks and national monuments.

What could go wrong?


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