Time for another week of links to news and opinion pieces!
Bad news! Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment that would allow importation of cheap prescription drugs into the United States, and Cory Booker and twelve Democrats helped kill it. Of course, most of the Republicans voted against it, too. And yet, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted for the amendment! Good for them! And is that not a conservative approach: allow competition to bring down prices? UPDATE: See here for Cory Booker’s side of the story.
Meanwhile, at the Halls of Justice! Peter Welch is a Democratic Congressman from Vermont, and he praises Donald Trump for finding common ground with him on pharmaceuticals:
“Today, President-elect Donald J. Trump strongly endorsed an issue I have been pushing hard for in Congress – requiring the federal government to use its significant bulk purchasing power to cut the price of prescription drugs for seniors and taxpayers. Here is what he said at this morning’s press conference: ‘We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world. And yet we don’t bid properly. We’re going to start bidding. We’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.’ Music to my ears. It’s crazy that Medicare buys drugs at wholesale but pays retail prices. I’ve introduced a bill that would require price negotiations with Big Pharma. It will cut drug prices, save taxpayer dollars, and shore up the Medicare trust fund. I’m ready to get to work with President-elect Trump to pass this commonsense legislation.”
Over at the conservative web site Townhall, Devon Herrick writes on how “Congress Should Take Steps to Make Drugs More Affordable.” He criticizes, among other things, how the FDA takes a long time to approve new drugs. At the conservative web site, The Federalist, Margot Cleveland actually praises President Barack Obama for moving in the direction of correcting that! Yet, as far as Herrick is concerned, there is more work to be done: “The FDA’s bias toward approving newer, first-in-class therapies has increased approvals for expensive drugs to treat rare diseases, which are at a historic high. Approvals of me-too drugs are down, however, which limits competition within drug classes, leading to higher prices, and limits patient choices.”
Jill Stein and the Russian Hacking
Jill Stein posted a link to an article by David Swanson, questioning the U.S. Government’s Russian-hacking report and defending Wikileaks against the U.S. Intelligence community. That’s the Jill Stein I voted for, not the one who has been challenging the election results!
The Donald: A Different Kind of Republican
I enjoyed Reihan Salam’s article on Slate, entitled “Will Donald Trump Be FDR or Jimmy Carter?” Salam is not too optimistic about the coming Donald Trump Presidency, as far as I can see. Yet, I appreciated an observation that Salam made, and I have made the same observation myself. In the past, many Republicans ran their campaigns by distinguishing between the makers and the takers, shaming the poor who receive assistance from the government. Remember Mitt Romney’s 47% comment! Trump’s campaign did not do that, as far as I can recall. Rather, Trump’s campaign held that people are struggling economically on account of a systemic problem. Trump blamed illegal immigrants, and many may not care for that kind of scapegoating, but Trump also criticized big corporations for sending jobs overseas.
President Barack Obama
George Stephanopoulos at ABC This Week interviewed President Barack Obama. I especially appreciated this moment of candid self-criticism on the part of the President: “And so [Democrats ha]ve got to do a better job of showing up. And I was able to do that when I was the candidate. But I have not– I’ve not seen or– or presided over that kind of systematic outreach that I think needs to happen.”
As I read my friends’ expressions of sadness over the coming departure of Barack Obama from the Presidency, I have wondered why I have not shared their sadness. It may be because I rarely see Barack Obama speaking to the public: it’s like he’s in hiding, so he has not made much of an impression on me. And, when he does come out, it’s often to lecture, which comes across as rather self-righteous. But don’t get me wrong: there have been times when I have appreciated what Barack Obama has had to say. When he expressed openness to conservative ideas on bringing down the cost of higher education and health care, I applauded him. That was the Barack Obama I loved in 2008: the transformative candidate!
At Townhall, Jeff Jacoby has a column, “Barack Obama’s Legacy of Failure.” There’s not much that is new there, but the section on foreign policy got me thinking, or at least reminded me of some things that I have been thinking lately. I have been gravitating towards the conservatism that supports isolationism, which is not to say that I embrace the domestic policy of the right, but rather than I enjoy reading conservatives who support a non-interventionist foreign policy, as opposed to the neo-cons. That is one reason that I like Donald Trump, at least for the time being. But Jacoby’s column criticizes President Obama for being non-interventionist on foreign policy. And isn’t that accurate, on a certain level? Permitting the Arab Spring. Being reluctant to bomb Syria. Aren’t those examples of President Obama’s non-interventionism? Of course, one can point out the opposite, too: President Obama’s support of regime change in Libya, and his use of drones. Still, I wonder if his non-interventionism has worked. Yet, as a counterweight, I do not want the U.S. to go back to the disastrous interventionism of the Iraq War.
James David Audlin had a status comparing the vilification of President-elect Trump with the 2008-2009 vilification of President-elect Obama. Of course, people are responding by saying that is a “false equivalence,” a term I have heard often over the last several months. Okay, maybe there are differences between the criticisms of the respective Presidents-elect. Still, I find that I am turned off by the criticisms of Trump today, as I was by the criticisms of Barack Obama in 2008: the caricatures, the mockery, the attitude that he cannot do anything right, the tendency to read a sinister motive into everything he says and does. The criticisms of Obama in 2008 were among the factors that moved me to the left. Today, the criticisms of Trump are not moving me to the right, so much, but they have encouraged me to read more from the right. Actually, the reason that I liked Obama in 2008, and a reason that I like Trump now, is that both expressed openness to ideas of the other side of the spectrum. I am not so much against constructive criticism: it may actually move Trump in a positive direction, as Trump looks for queues about what to do. The vilification is what turns me off.
Over at Townhall, Bruce Bialosky has an interesting article entitled “The Three State Solution.” We hear a lot about the two-state solution. But, as Bialosky notes, there are actually two regions that have Palestinian authorities: Gaza, led by Hamas, and the West Bank, led by Fatah. And, according to Bialosky, the West Bank under Fatah is more prosperous than Gaza under Hamas. I appreciate that Bialosky does not lump the Palestinians together.
Christianity Today had an interview with actress Patricia Heaton. Heaton has had two successful sitcoms: “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle.” I love both shows! Heaton talks about the insecurities that exist in the acting career, the contrasts between acting in “Everybody Loves Raymond” and acting in “The Middle,” and her own Christian faith and charity work in the Third World.
Basically, she thought that Anne Frank was mean and spoiled! Graubart astutely says:
“She didn’t like Anne Frank. At first I couldn’t absorb the sentiment, couldn’t really believe my ears. It was like hearing a Catholic say she wasn’t fond of the Virgin Mary, that she was sick of all her tiresome bragging. Virgin birth – big deal. But then I realized that Trudy’s distaste for Anne Frank the person – whatever girlhood tiff set it off – returned the Holocaust to where it belongs, in prosaic human history. It’s not a myth, or a sacred narrative, with demigods and martyrs and supernatural heroines. It’s not a biblical story, a tragic moment pointing to redemption. It’s a story of girls and boys, Annes and Trudys, and their brothers and sisters and parents, murdered and tortured the way humans have murdered and tortured since time immemorial.”