Monday, November 16, 2015

Three Naive Republicans, Destroying ISIS,Two Op-Ed Pieces, Big Pharma Does it Again and Illegal Immigration


Three Naive Republicans
At least three of the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination are na├»ve guys.   Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Rand Paul are all bright, intelligent men.  They may not agree with one another (other than in opposing the Democratic Party) but they all are honest in their beliefs which seem to be reasonably thought out. 

Kasich, Bush and Paul

Unfortunately, all three have lost sight of the fact that many Republican voters, perhaps enough to control the direction in which the G.O.P is being steered, are not similarly inclined.  Their hatred of government involvement in health care, immigration and business regulation, among other things, overrides reasonable thought. They want red meat thrown at them and Bush, Kasich and Paul are not providing it while Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Ron Santorum, Bobby Jindal and in a more restrained manner, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, are doing so on a daily basis.

Rand Paul is mired in a libertarian/isolationist cul-de-sac and will never be President.  But he honestly believes the less government we have, the better we will be. On the other hand, Bush and Kasich recognize government’s socio-economic role in the country today, and while advocating significant changes in it, are not advocating turning back history. They do not recognize that this approach has no appeal to much of the Republican base.  They do not know what has happened to their own party.  The other candidates I’ve mentioned do, and are taking full advantage of it.   It is possible, of course, that a few of them, possibly including Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, are only pandering to the right wing of their party in order to gain support, and in reality will turn out to be as rational as Bush or Kasich.  But that hasn’t happened yet.  

Ultimately, the Republicans will have to decide whether they want to nominate a candidate who has a chance of winning, or whether they would prefer to satisfy the red meat eaters in their party whose choice would guarantee a defeat in the 2016 Presidential election and probably lose the Senate as well via the Presidential winner’s coat tails. This will all have to be ironed out over the next six months.  If not, there very well might be a deadlocked convention at which both names from the G.O.P.’s 2012 unsuccessful ticket might come into play again.

Bottom Line:  The G.O.P. has a big problem because it has become the place where haters, bigots and reactionaries have turned.  These folks love guns, they hate immigrants and gays and other people who are not "like" they are.


If you show me someone who still dreams of the "ideals" for which the South seceded from the Union in 1861, you can bet your bottom dollar which Party he favors today.  Ex-Klansmen, and neo-Nazis:  where do you find them, party wise?  This is a cancer which has affected those Republican voters who are the ones screaming for "red meat" from their candidates, and which the candidates must not cater to if the Republican Party is to survive on a national basis.  They are not a majority of G.O.P. voters, but they are enough to prevent the candidates from addressing real issues.
Jack Lippman

Poll Results:  We don't have many Republicans following this blog.  Only two voted in our G.O.P. Presidential primary.  One for Trump and one for Kasich.   We'll do another closer to the Convention.


Two Columns Well Worth Reading
What if Rabin Had Lived?
Why are Middle-age Male Death Rates Rising?
  Ross         Douthat

Two recent Op-Ed pieces attracted my attention.  One, by former Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross in the Los Angeles Times, considers what might have occurred in Israel had not Prime Ministier Yitzhak Rabin been assassinated twenty years ago.  It is well worth reading.  Check it out by clicking on this link.

The other is by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and deals with might be the reason why the death rate of white middle aged males in the United States has increased.  And his answer is not a pathological one.  Check out his thoughts by clicking on this link.


A Drug on the Market
Drug advertising on TV (which I believe should be illegal) seems to have hit a new low with the recent advertisements for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s new drug, Opdivo.  In October of this year, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo (nivolumab) to treat patients with advanced (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer whose disease progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy.  Shortly thereafter, these advertisements started appearing.

Although approved for other cancers, these ads talk about its use for advanced lung cancer.  The gist of the commercials is that clinical trials have shown that patients who take it will live longer than those who merely depend on chemotherapy.  The patients in the advertisements have a sad, resigned look on their faces as they play with their grandchildren because they know their days are numbered.  If you watch the commercials closely, you will see the drug maker’s claim that the clinical trials showed Opdivo extended the patient’s life expectancy, on the average, from  the six months (which existing chemotherapy protocols would acheive) to 9.2 months.  That’s about 96 more days.

Certainly, if an oncologist (and I am sure all of them have been advised about Opdivo by Bristol-Myers Squibb’s detail people) feels Optivo is appropriate for their patient, they will recommend it.  But to advertise it broadly on TV so that lung cancer patients will come running to their doctors asking for it seems wrong to me.   Oh yes, the best price I have been able to find on the internet for Opdivo is $14,500 for six vials, amounting to about $150,000 a year.  Is this the price Bristol-Myers Squibb is asking for 96 more days of life?  

What have we come to?  Pull the kids out of college?  Get a second mortgage?  Max out the credit cards?  How much of a guilt trip are those 96 more days of life worth to a family which just doesn't have the resources to give Opdivo a chance? This is what Bristol-Myers Squibb wants viewers to think about.  Shame.  

Opdivo TV Spot, 'Longer Life' - Screenshot 8 
A clip from the Opdivo commercial

The pharmaceutical industry ranks second to the National Rifle Association as entities which care only for their own aims and have little regard for the majority of the citizens of this country.  I believe that all drug research and development should be done by the Federal government and by public and private universities and foundations.  Once a drug is developed, it then should be made available to manufacturers like Bristol-Myers Squibb to sell. 

Once TV advertising of drugs is made illegal, and research and development taken out the pharmaceutical companies’ hands, the cost of drugs will plummet. I believe the increased taxes we’ll need to pay for government and university drug research and development will be far less than what drug companies are presently spending on it and on advertising drugs to the public.  I wonder how much the Opdivo commercial cost to produce and run?


Bombing ISIS 
The tragic events in Paris have resulted in the French bombing ISIS installations in Raqqa, a city that serves as ISIS headquarters in Syria.  This raises the question of why we had not done this already.  Our air attacks there have been limited, apparently, to tactical military targets, and not their military nerve center.  I suspect that the United States has been hoping that the Iraqis can get the job done in Iraq and that the Kurds can do the same in the northern regions of that country.  We try to supply both with arms.  Out of the corner of our eye, we have been watching what role Iran takes in Iraq against ISIS.  In Syria, we have been watching not only Iran, but Russia and the Syrian President.  Like in a chess game, a move by any one of them can set a series of events into motion, so we have been proceeding with caution.

But France has not been subject to any such reservations.  Terrorist attacks in France demanded an immediate answer.  There was no time, nor need, for diplomacy of any kind … nor consultation with any of the parties mentioned above.   I expect that the Russians will shortly respond in a like manner for the bombing of the Metrojet plane by ISIS.  There is no place for politeness when an immediate response is demanded.  Thus far, ISIS’ terrorism has not struck the United States in the same terrible manner in which it struck France.  I hope it does not, but If it did, I am sure our response would have been the same, and we would "take off our gloves."   Unfortunately, when we responded to the 9-11 attack (which was by Al Qaeda), we directed our efforts at the wrong country.  France is making no such mistake now. 

I do not see any simple method of destroying ISIS, and stabilizing the artificial countries known as Iraq and Syria without recognizing that it must be done within the context of the Sunni - Shia division in Islam.  In destroying ISIS, we are taking the side of the Shia.  That means being on the same side as Iran (and Russia in Syria) and not being so cordial as we have been with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, which like ISIS, are Sunni.  Thus far, the efforts of these Sunni friends of ours in battling ISIS (with the exception of Jordan) have been ineffectual at best.  In fact, because the theological basis of jihad comes from the Arabian peninsula, the position of these Sunni "allies" is open to question.  Nine-Eleven, after which we "took off our gloves," was perpetrated by Al Qaeda from which from ISIS grew, once the political vacuum in Iraq was created by the United States.  We were allies with the Russians in World War Two.  Before the Ayatollahs, we had a good relationship with Iran.  Should we be looking in those directions again in order to demolish ISIS and stabilize the Middle East?


The First Illegal Immigrants
“Chief Running Bear, I come from the beach looking out over Mas-a-tchew-sitz Bay. The braves there have spotted a boatload of illegal immigrants trying to come ashore and want to know what to do.”  The wizened old Native American stroked his chin and thought a moment.

“We do not want them here, my son. Already we are sending our people out to Algonquin country because there is not enough for them to do here.  We got not enough wampum in treasury to take care of our own kind here right now.”

“Then, should we destroy their boat with our flaming arrows, my Chief?”

“Oh, no,” the old man replied.  “That would not be humanitarian thing to do.  Let illegals come ashore and build a stockade of wooden planks in which to keep them and feed them on corn meal mush and water, but not too much, till we figure what to do with them.”

At that point, another brave ran into the tent, dragging a soaking wet, haggard bearded man behind him. 

“Oh Chief, I am sorry to interrupt but one of the illegals has swum ashore and he has explained to me that they are fleeing from religious oppression in a place called Inglund”

Running Bear turned to the man, whose name was Myles, and asked him what he wanted.

“We immigrants have come seeking asylum in your land,” he answered.

“Asylum?  Oh, that be different story,” the Chief replied. “Tell your people they may come ashore, but please, no criminals or we scalp dem!  And all must promise to learn Native American tongue, not work our fields and stay away from our squaws.  We give you enough corn meal mush for two moons but after that, you on your own.  Capice?  Ferschtay?

“Good deal,” Standish responded. “On this day, my people give to you their most humble thanks.”

Running Bear’s eyes lit up.  “Paleface words too complicated,” he said.  “Just call it Thanksgiving.”

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