A Government of Self-Delusion

We’ve been dealing with a sociopath as president who is most times delusionary and incomprehensible.  The problem appears to have spread to the Supreme Court.  At the impeachment hearings John Roberts reveals that he has been asleep at the wheel for the last three year or more years.  The Senate isn’t what it used to be.  Quite unbelievably in 2020, this week, he actually stated:

“I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,”

Medicynical Note:  With such feckless chutzpah I can only believe that the Chief Justice does not recognize his role in the decline of the Senate, which today is anything but the worlds greatest anything, much less, a deliberative body.

The conservative supremes are to a great extent responsible for our decline as a country and their disgrace as a court. 

“Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.”

“The Roberts Court’s decisions led to this moment in indirect ways, as well. The court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County gutted the Voting Rights Act and spurred a new wave of voter suppression. The decision in 2014′s McCutcheon further surrendered campaign finance to the wealthiest. The 2018 Janus decision hobbled the ability of labor unions to counter wealthy donors, while the 2019 Rucho ruling blessed partisan gerrymandering, expanding anti-democratic tendencies.”

I’m doubtful that the country will recover from these insults and develop real insight anytime soon. 

Bernie is a Sure Loser

There is little doubt that Bernie is Trump’s choice for Democratic nominee.

“According to Eichenwald, the book includes damning material such as the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to Texas where it would be dumped in a poor Hispanic community, that he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, and that he appeared at a 1985 rally in Nicaragua at which Sandinista supporters chanted “Here, there / the Yankee will die.” And then there’s Sanders’ fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men.”

“After the Trump campaign and Fox News got through weaponizing this research, the usual conservative charges against Sanders – that his domestic program would cost nearly $100tn over the next decade, that he would ban individual health insurance, send taxes into the stratosphere, and sympathize with terrorists and leftwing regimes – would seem almost benign. “

Medicynical note: He’s really much too old and way too controversial–read that as left. In addition he’s never been a Democrat and has been an ineffective Senator. It takes great imagination to believe that at age 80 he’d be able to effectively implement his uber aggressive and extremely costly agenda. There must be better a better candidate.

The World Fiddles While Australia Burns–The Trump Effect

Happening now. Unpredictable changes some of which will be catastrophic.

“In an event that is unprecedented in 40 years of record-keeping, temperatures over Antarctica rose rapidly, causing the polar vortex over the Southern Hemisphere to break down and even reverse direction. This had cascading effects on weather patterns: The westerly winds that blow across the Southern Ocean shifted northward. Cold fronts moved across Australia, bringing intense wind but little rain.”

And

“By turning forests that once absorbed carbon into flaming carbon sources, the wildfires are contributing to the very problem that makes them more likely. Satellite observations suggest that emissions from the fires may be on par with what Australia produces annually by burning fossil fuels.”

Medicynical note: Meanwhile the President of the largest economy in the world is unable to see past the short term. He thinks global warming from man’s activities is a hoax–he and his cabinet are under the financial influence of the oil and coal industry.

Whatever the long term consequences of his environmental heresy, his financial foolishness, his destruction of health care, his undermining of racial and social equality and his promotion of religious fundamentalism, at age 72 he seems to figure either that either through his supporters buying into his destructive policies and his limited lifespan he won’t be around to accept and to be held responsible. Our ruin will be his legacy.

Who is Taxed and Who is not!

“The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP.ORG) has done an analysis of 379 corporations and their tax burdens since the Republican Party and Donald Trump gave them the enormous tax cuts that most Americans were dead-set against. “Corporate Tax Avoidance In The First Year of The Trump Tax Law” is available here for viewing or downloading. The findings are what we have come to expect: Big companies got big returns from the tax cuts, and on top of that, most corporations still couldn’t resist exploiting loopholes allowing them to pay even less than the meager amount set out by the Republican Party.”

  • The 379 profitable corporations identified in this study paid an effective federal income tax rate of 11.3 percent on their 2018 income, slightly more than half the statutory 21 percent tax
  • 91 corporations did not pay federal income taxes on their 2018 U.S. income. These corporations include Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton and IBM. An ITEP study released in April 2019 examined 2018 Fortune 500 filings released to date and found 60 companies paid zero in federal income taxes. Now, all companies have released their 2018 financial filings, and this report reflects that.
  • Another 56 companies paid effective tax rates between 0 percent and 5 percent on their 2018 income. Their average effective tax rate was 2 percent.

Medicynical Note:  And these companies who pay no or little taxes as our military and government to expend resources, defend their financial interests and us our government’s power on their behalf……..while they get a free ride.  Guess who gets to pay.

Cancer Drug Pricing…..a national disgrace

Price drop for imitinab?.

Originally priced in 2001 at $40-$50,000/year, By 2012, imatinib (a revolutionary medication for chronic myelogenous leukemia) was priced at $92,000, and then jumped to $132,000 in 2014, and then to $146,000 in 2016 when the generic version became available.”

There has not been much decrease in pricing as noted in the article with the release of generics.

“The US has the dubious distinction of having the highest expenditures in healthcare, but ranks far from the top in terms of improvements in life expectancy, explained Lyman. “Part of this is driven by the cancer drug experience, and healthcare costs have risen faster than gross domestic product.”

“Cost escalation began in the early 2000s, and eventually exceeded the median household income of a typical family. The price tag of new cancer drugs now exceeds $10,000 per month ($120,000 annually), Lyman explained, which is several fold greater than the median household income (around $63,000 in 2018, according to official figures).”

Medicynical note: Imatinab, (Gleevac), was largely developed with government research funds and taken private in the late 90s by Novartis. Drugs trials for this tyrosine kinase inhibitor were very limited because the positive effects of drug treatment were impressive and immediately evident. When the drug came to market in 2001 it was priced at the $30,000 to $50,000/year, an unprecedented price at the time. The original price and subsequent increases as outlined were based on the “your money or your life” concept not development and/or manufacturing costs. As most of the development costs were paid by you and me through NIH and other Federal grants.

So why the price increases? And why no major decrease with the release of generics? Because……..we (congress and our governing bodies) allow drug companies to financially gouge the most vulnerable in our society. That’s what capitalism is about.

In the US (Kentucky in this instance), Money talks

In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man’s family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his 2015 gubernatorial campaign.

In all, the former governor signed off on 428 pardons and commutations since his loss to Democrat Andy Beshear, according to The Courier-Journal. The paper notes, “The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents.”

Medicynical note: one of the “values” people disrobes in public.

British vs US health Care

There’s a gap between life expectancy for low-income people and for rich people, which, while attributable to a number of factors, such as overall diet, stress, and environment, can also be attributed to a lack of affordable, accessible, and quality health care.”

“Low-income people face higher rates of disease, including heart disease and  depression. Low-income Americans, statistically, die younger—and while affordable health care wouldn’t solve that structural problem entirely, it would be a huge start.”

Medicynical note: With BREXIT we’ll get to see if the British electorate are smarter than the American. A low bar but in the face of US rightist propaganda, a docile Tory party and a Trump-clone liar as Prime Minister, anything can happen.