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August 18, 2016

Comments

WSS.

Or even, was C then doing favours for A, which resulted in financial or some other kind of quantifiable gain for A?

I'm finding it very hard to get a handle on what this accusation actually amounts to.

What is it about the Clinton Foundation's brand that excites such a small number of people to write such large checks?

could you, please, prove your insinuations? for once?

I was going to write something about how, had Romney been the R nominee this time around, he'd probably be ahead in the polls at least partly because of the emails and Clinton Foundation stuff. Not that I'd be happy about it, mind you, but I wouldn't find the situation to be the sort of utter absurdity that Trump's campaign is, even though he's behind and at this point looks like he's going to get creamed in November.

At any rate, before I did get a chance to write that comment, I see this. I wouldn't describe my feelings as nostalgia, but at least it wouldn't be lunacy.

Note that the AP had to sue the State Department to get this info. It took 3 years. That's called stonewalling.

There's no question in my mind that the Clintons are seriously paranoid. And it gets them into entirely avoidable trouble now and again. This being only one example.

There's also no doubt that they have some reason to be paranoid. Or, if you prefer, "even paranoids can have real enemies who are out to get them."

The challenge, it seems to me, is for those accusing them to show that what they have done is different and more egregious than what virtually all politicians do. Preferably seriously more egregious. Otherwise, why are you getting excited?

This isn't a matter of defending them by saying, "Well, other people do it." It's a matter of not having double standards. (We might want to raise those standards, but that's a different discussion.**)

** Anyone looking to discuss ways to "clean up politics" should probably read this article from last month's Atlantic:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/
If only for a lesson in unintended consequences.

AP - The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton.

Does not appear to violate legal agreements but fuels perceptions of potential conflicts of interest.

There ya go. That's pretty much what they've got.

That's what LeTourneau at the Washington Monthly thinks as well.

Is this anything more than yet another round of "optics?"

Is this anything more than yet another round of "optics?"

no, and it doesn't have to be.

the GOP knows that simply pushing these non-stories into the news fuels keeps a shadow over the Clintons. even if nothing is proved (and none of it ever is), the allegations are enough to keep people suspicious.

"all this smoke, there must be fire somewhere!" whispers Reince Priebus from behind the smoke machine.

and, the shit-stupid media is more than willing to push the comfortable narrative.

and, the shit-stupid media is more than willing to push the comfortable narrative.

Sadly, it's not just Republicans that buy it. The "hold my nose" Democrats are gullible as well.

Nous, that's a great piece by Nancy LaTourneau. The comments are also worthwhile.

From Nous' link:

One has to wonder why the AP chose this story of Clinton’s 30+ year relationship with a Nobel Peace Prize recipient committed to combating global poverty as the one to highlight in their efforts to suggest that the Secretary of State met with people because of their donations to the Clinton Foundation.

She's diabolical!!!

Okay, I'll bite: Clinton is a horribly sleazy transactional rent seeker. Now what? What can I expect of her (potential) administration?

from wj's Atlantic link:

"The biggest obstacle (to an effective national politics-ed BP), I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics. Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry. Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy."

Good article.

What can I expect of her (potential) administration?

you can expect baseline moderate liberal policies with bonus more-liberal policies when the Congressional stars align.

I second bobbyp. wj's link is really thought provoking. It's a far better version of generally kinda-sorta-the-same argument Andrew Sullivan made (horribly) in this piece back in May, which, rather than making me think much at all, made me all eye-rolly.

The Atlantic piece has me rethinking a lot of stuff. The really short version: We traded making sausage for randomly throwing hash at the walls.

I also didn't detect much of a partisan slant.

yes indeed, that Atlantic piece is interesting.

Does anyone need a link to the AP article or are everyone's heads in the sand?

Seriously, do the lefties here really think that declaring the AP article to be nonstory will make it go away?

Then I think somewhere else McKinney asks whether "the lefties here" have anything from outside the lefty bubble which shows this isn't some kind of egregious, stinking corruption (my words).

Now it seemed to me that Nous's link to LeTourneau in the Washington Monthly wasn't bad, but of course I am handicapped by not knowing whether or not McKinney would consider the Washington Monthly part of the lefty bubble. I see that its politics are considered "centre left", does this disqualify it? Is there any source that both the reasonable left and the reasonable right would consider, if not authoritative, then at least reasonably unbiased? Is everything, even among non-ideologues (among whom I consider most of our number), so completely polarised? I have noticed in the past that McKinney throws such stones into our pond, then disappears (admittedly possibly to work) leaving the ripples, and never addressing what seem like good answers to his questions. It's hard to know whether he's lost interest, considers the answers so hopeless they don't merit a response, or finds some of them hard to argue with. Somehow, I doubt it's the latter.

OK, off to read the Atlantic piece now

I expect status quo from a Clinton administration. Independent of the question in whose hands Congress is, btw. At best some things that are still a bit shaky could be stabilized (Obamacare for example).
It will take a lot of energy though because the other side will not rest to work on achieving their goals of change for the worse.

I expect continued gridlock for a Clinton administration. Just not quite as bad as currently. Because, much as the far right has a long and happy history of demonizing the Clintons, at least she doesn't have a permanent suntan.

And yes, while lots of people disagree with Obama on policy grounds, the level of vitriol he has seen is race-based beyond any reasonable doubt.

/cue the 'conservatives' to tell us it's because he's a divisive America-hating ultra-liberal racist.

here's what Vox thinks of that AP piece.

http://www.vox.com/2016/8/24/12618446/ap-clinton-foundation-meeting

they are not impressed.

nor am i.

nor are they impressed with the AP's click-baiting 'social media' handling of the story, nor the AP's defense of it.

http://www.vox.com/2016/8/24/12630586/ap-response-clinton-foundation

The Vox piece was also linked, and recommended, by Hilary Bok, whom some of you may remember: https://www.facebook.com/hilary.bok/posts/10209554881485463?from_close_friend=1&notif_t=close_friend_activity&notif_id=1472062131756261

Hilary's comment (in case you can't access her Facebook page):

It really is [a mess]. I was particularly stuck by the (large!) part of the story about Yunus, who the writers seem not to be familiar with, despite the Nobel Peace Prize and all that. I heard of him about 20 years ago, I think, but the Clintons were much more on the ball than I was, having invited him to Arkansas to talk about microcredit in 1983. Which is just to say: there's nothing at all odd about the State Department helping him out, and his relationship with Hillary Clinton precedes the existence of the Clinton Foundation by nearly two decades.

I wish someone would come up with an example of an actual favor granted in exchange for contributions. (Where favor means something more than a meeting; the reasons meetings are problematic, I think, is that you can use them to ask for favors or make the case for a policy you favor, not that being in the presence of Hillary Clinton is its own reward.)

(To make it clear - Hilary Bok's link was to he first Vox piece cited by cleek, not the second, which s/he posted while I was trying to get my act together. Don't think it changes anything, but we try to be as clear as possible.)

For those of you interested...

The Clinton Rules.

the GOP seems to be trying to make hay out of the fact that people are generally unfamiliar with what the SoS's job entails.

Sheesh, I didn't realize that a lot of this revolved around the Muhammad Yunus. I have half a mind to put in a literacy test for commenting on this blog, and make people answer questions about the Grameen Bank

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grameen_Bank

before they can post. (not that I have the programming chops to do that, but if I did...at any rate, you can tell I'm a liberal cause I'm giving a cheat sheet to pass the test)

I was asked to get Yunus to speak at my university when he was in Japan and I had a chance to read up on him. Innovative and seriously impressive thinking about dealing with the problems of third world poverty.

But instead of figuring out what goes on in our world, some folks are more interested in recycling whatever shit Dreher vomits up. Whatever.

OK, off to read the Atlantic piece now

Upon finishing it, see this response and the links provided.

The Atlantic piece was a bit of Very Serious Person nostalgia-- the giveaway was the pining for the Grand Bargain that wasn't in 2011.

And smoke filled rooms and lack of transparency, whatever their alleged virtues in formulating domestic policy ( which I doubt) are probably needed to have policies like this overseas--

http://harpers.org/archive/2016/09/acceptable-losses/

I wish we'd take some time off looking at alleged Russian influence and start talking more openly about the influence of other countries in our policy making decisions. Saudi Arabia, in this case.

Getting back to domestic policy, the smoke filled room environment seems less likely to produce good results for working people if labor unions aren't at the table.

I tried to post a comment earlier that was eaten, but am abandoning that subject matter.

I wish we'd take some time off looking at alleged Russian influence and start talking more openly about the influence of other countries in our policy making decisions. Saudi Arabia, in this case.

I agree. However, since I don't think that Obama would blandly support bombing civilians, I'm moved to try to figure out what might be going on. My suspicion is that Obama thinks that the Iran deal is an extremely important diplomatic effort to foreclose any disastrous action by Israel against Iran, and that Saudi assent was important to that diplomatic effort. Indeed, it seems that John Kerry is trying to persuade the Saudis to cut it out, and that this effort has been going on for some time.

International relations are ugly, and purism isn't an option. It definitely would be interesting to scrutinize the reasons for this or that diplomatic or foreign policy effort, but this thread demonstrates that the popular media is not without its own agenda, and that explaining it all for Donald Johnson's benefit is not necessarily in the best interests of the Iran deal, etc.

(Incidentally, diplomatic efforts such as the Iran deal, which could operate to save millions of lives, are not the subject of critique from the likes of Donald Johnson or others, because what might have happened, and isn't happening, isn't so easy to point fingers at.)

Oh, and Donald Johnson, I think that in the Democratic Party, unions were very much a part of smoke filled rooms back in the day when there were such things.

"Does anyone have a picture of HRC taking a bribe? How do we know it's a bride? Does she say it's a bribe? She denies it. There you go, case closed. Nothing to see here, let's MOVE ON."

buckley v valeo
citizens united
mcdonnell

show us the quid pro quo or stand down

liberals didnt make those rules, nor did we want them.

"OR stand down"

Uh no

Circle the wagons and see no evil. Any criticism short of an indictable crime is low rent, deceitful politics. Got it.

Produce something of consequence. What, specifically, is Clinton guilty of, and what do you think should be done about it? Demonstrate to me what should make her unacceptable to me as a presidential candidate, particularly in light of the fact that she running against (and this still, after all this time, sounds like a bad joke) Donald fncking Trump.

She had an email server in her basement? She spoke to some people who directly or indirectly donated to the Clinton Foundation? Her husband got a blow job? Conspiracy theorists (on the same order as those who think Dick Cheney staged 9/11) think she had dozens of people killed? What?

no, you dont "got it".

people go after clinton like shes freaking beelzebub and all of the illuminati rolled up into one, for things which are dead normal in our political culture.

people no doubt make large donations to the clinton foundation in order to gain access to, and favorable attention from, the clintons, who are people in a position to influence public policy, and/or, to curry personal favors.

is that corrupt? actually, i think it is. but through the concerted efforts of a couple of generations of conservative actors, we are no longer allowed to consider such things to be the baksheesh that they are.

nowadays, we must call them "speech".

i invite the conservatives of the world to mount their petards and prepare to be hoist.

geese, ganders. if it doesnt suit, get off your butt and do something about the law.

short of that, if you want to cry "corruption" you need to show us itemized receipts.

it aint a world we lefties made.

see no evil

prove the evil.

"is that corrupt? actually, i think it is. but through the concerted efforts of a couple of generations of conservative actors, we are no longer allowed to consider such things to be the baksheesh that they are.

nowadays, we must call them "speech".
"

This is crap, a bribe is still a bribe. Giving money to get a specific result, including a meeting you couldn't get otherwise with the SoS, is a bribe. It is illegal. And only the most generous interpretation of the law and the activity keep it from being an indictable offense.

She has lied directly to Congress, Barry Bonds found out that is illegal.

In addition to all that she just lies regularly, and treats any question of her actions as if she is above answering, move on. Those things make her unfit, right along with Trump.

""is that corrupt? actually, i think it is. but through the concerted efforts of a couple of generations of conservative actors, we are no longer allowed to consider such things to be the baksheesh that they are.

nowadays, we must call them "speech"."

I would also like to answer this another way.

Do you mean this russell? You believe it is corrupt but its ok with you because some Republican made it harder to convict?

"I believe it is corrupt" is enough for me to disqualify her in my mind.

"I believe he is a racist, among other things" is enough to disqualify him.

I recognize YMMV, but do you really think I am unreasonable in not accepting her corruption?

I would also point out in any comparison of policy positions she comes in last with me also, but we cant quite get around to discussing that.

so much mind reading. so many assumptions. so much bad faith.

Sapient, there are often good reasons for people to commit murder or help others to do so and as it happens, everyone agrees with you on Obama's motives in this case. So that's good. And when some new terror organizations form to get revenge for our conscious decision to help the Saudis devastate Yemen, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that very serious folks thought it was all for a good cause. Keeping the Saudi thugs happy, basically.

As for unions, yes, once upon a time they did have influence. My point was to point out a flaw in the Atlantic piece with its nostalgic look back at the past. The author has a fetish about being realistic about sausage making and how it was done in the good old days. Fine. I think, though, that unless people effected by those deals made in the smoke filled rooms have a voice that genuinely sides with them you are likely to have results that aren't going to be good for the people most effected by the decisions made. And anyway, people who are going to be effected should know what is going on inside those rooms, so I don't tthink the smoke filled room is a very good idea no matter what.

On corruption, Bill Curry in this interview seems about right. He says more or less what russell said above--

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=17095

Incidentally, sapient, some Democrats disagree with Obama. It's almost as if they don't think the rights and wrongs of a policy should be determined by how one feels about him.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-arabia-hospital-bombing.html?ref=world

the idea of transparency is great.

but the US system of government absolutely requires compromise to function. and if transparency means that compromise is impossible - because everybody is afraid of running afoul of whatever the Purity Enforcement Squad has decided today's orthodoxy should be - we might not be better off.

... to paraphrase that article.

McKinney,

"Low-rent, deceitful politics" is piety-mouthing philanderers impeaching Bill Clinton over a blowjob. It is thrice-married right-wingers holding Hillary Clinton's lifelong marriage against her on family values grounds. It is trust-fund billionaires buying themselves tax cuts by contributing to charities like The Heritage Foundation which do great work that not-at-all-incidentally benefits themselves. It is, in short, S.O.P. for the G.O.P. And not the He, Trump wing of the GOP, either.


Marty,

You come so close to chanting "Lock her up!" that you remind me of something I've heard somewhere before.

--TP

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=Hitler+Finds+out#id=4&vid=80318f89e7ddd9bc6f1e4b90a15563e3&action=click

Whoops!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=545aq1V1upM

I'd like to thank Donald Johnson for mentioning Yemen in this conversation. It's the one issue on which I break completely with Obama and his collusion with the Saudis (an American past time, regardless of which Party is in power) and I'm pissed that the bribe of my votes in 2008 and 2012 have no purchase on this genocide.

It's the one truly impeachable decision he has made but all of we (the royal we) purists on both sides never mention it.

Marty wrote:

"I would also point out in any comparison of policy positions she comes in last with me also, but we cant quite get around to discussing that."

You mean the others are more susceptible to the bribery of your support and vote on the majority of issues and you are afraid that Clinton, in this case, is adamantly NOT lying about her policy agenda, despite the fact that she lies to all regularly.

I guess the most admirable thing we can say about Paul Ryan is that he absolutely doesn't lie about reading "Atlas Shrugged" a dozen times and the murder of millions of Americans he will carry out via its policy prescriptions is therefore copacetic.

At least he speaks the truth, right?

....but we cant quite get around to discussing that.

go back through the detritus of this thread and tell us who brought this subject up in the first place.

Back on Topic!

"Do you mean this russell? You believe it is corrupt but its ok with you because some Republican made it harder to convict?"

No, its not ok with me. I think it sucks.

my point is that as far as I can tell Clinton is at most right about average on the corruption-o-meter for American national politics.

so when folks go on about how profoundly and uniquely evil she is, i just tune it out.

pay for access *is absolutely the norm*. being less than truthful when talking to congress, the press, or basically anywhere, is *absolutely the norm*.

its not "OK with me", but its how things are.

i'd love to see that change, but the political impediments are overwhelming.

long story short, i find clinton's corruption, such as it is, to be unremarkable, and in context not a disqualifying factor.

because nobody running for or holding office at the national level is immune.

I applaud the corruption of the few responsible Republican politicians at the national level who signed Grover Norquist's never-gonna-increase-taxes-for-eternity pledge AND lied to their easily-bribed tax-hating constituents, but had the guts to break their promises via a change of mind.

I mean, at least some of the bombs slaughtering Yemeni civilians, among the poorest in the world, are paid for upfront by the lovers of bombing people into submission, but who didn't want to pay for it.

George Bush the First was a hero of mine in some ways, what with the misreading of his lips by those who gave monetary bribes to his campaign to insure their taxes didn't rise, and his good sense in telling them to go f*ck themselves later.

Of course, in the process the Gingrich crowd rose to prominence with their premonitory Tea Party/Trump strict adherence to the their pigf*cking truths that have damaged my country.

I love the smell of corruption in the morning!

The 'corruption' thing is bollocks, IMHO.

That said, it's difficult to hold that a family who have made many millions of dollars out of politics (which they clearly have) have any right to describe themselves as public servants. (And yes, that applies also to Blair.)

Perhaps my biggest gripe with the Clintons is their apparent comfort in socialising with despots ("I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family..." etc.)

And yet, had I a vote in this election, it would be inked in for Clinton.

I must say, the the Washington Monthly piece, the VOX piece, and pushback since, suggests that the AP article is just another poisonous belch from the Mathmos about the Clintons. So if AP is capable of sensationalising and slanting data in this way, I repeat my question (with very little hope of having it answered): Is there any source that both the reasonable left and the reasonable right would consider, if not authoritative, then at least reasonably unbiased?

I notice McKinney has not come back since people started really drilling down into it with any specifics about why the AP piece is worthy of the amount of disgust it has engendered, in him among others. Just out of interest, does he also dismiss the opinion of Hilzoy, that almost perfect exemplar of sense and rationality, not to mention that she's an ethicist? In the absence of a journalistic source that most agree is unbiased, I'm really beginning to think that it's no longer possible for even the reasonable left and the reasonable right to talk to each other about this stuff. How depressing, if true.

I would second what russell has said in the past about the Christian Science Monitor. They seem to be as spin and slant free as it gets, especially these days.

The hysterical accusations about corruption on the part of the Clintons are, in my opinion, just as ridiculous as the accusations (from the other side) that the Bush II administration was "the most corrupt in US history."

It's great hyperbole. But it doesn't survive even a modest knowledge of US history. (Cf the Harding administration. Today's politicians are pikers.)

Those who doubt it might consider the quote from Simon Cameron (Lincoln's Secretary of War at the start of the Civil War): "An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." Ah, over a century of tradition!

PS. Note that Cameron was forced out as Secretary of War due to accusations of . . . corruption. The man knew whereof he spoke.

Thanks hsh, I've heard of them of course, but had sort of forgotten. I'll give them a whirl.

I've always thought the principle of "those who don't work, don't eat" a universal sort of bribery.

In fact, the entire concept of the "Invisible Hand" always seemed to be an admittal that unless my palm is greased sufficiently, I can't be bothered to produce accidental societal goods because my self-interest is not adequately compensated (but let's keep it all on the down-low, shall we?), unless of course the accidental societal goods are not particularly useful or good, like a box of Chicken McNuggets, but you'll bloody well take that job serving them if it's the only job you can get, because as you know, those who don't work, don't eat.

Here's a small bribe to serve the McNuggets and if you think it too small, I can bloody well get somehow else to do it who is just a little closer to experiencing the universal condition contained in "those who don't work, don't eat", in fact, for a smaller bribe.

I would like to see all corruption eliminated from government, but I don't see how we can do that if we must also submit to conservative demands that government operate as a business wherein all quids demand a quo and vice versa.

In fact, I've never understood why private vaccine producers, for example, or antibiotic producers refuse to spend the research dollars to develop new cutting-edge drugs because the market bribes, I mean, payoffs, ..... sorry, dang it, I can never get the buzzwords right for how we tell ourselves we're so f*cking righteous ... the market incentives, are not sufficiently large.

But the NIH, for example, is will to develop the drugs if only they are provided the funds to expand their labs, staff, and equipment budgets, without paying any individual a cent more .. in fact, we constantly remind them that they are overpaid leeches on the body politic .. but they put their heads down to do the work anyhoo.

Which one is the hoax? Which one is corrupt? Which one is noble?


as David Byrne once rapped: facts all come with points of view.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g8lFmsCXhg

In fact, I've never understood why private vaccine producers, for example, or antibiotic producers refuse to spend the research dollars to develop new cutting-edge drugs because the market bribes, I mean, payoffs, ..... sorry, dang it, I can never get the buzzwords right for how we tell ourselves we're so f*cking righteous ... the market incentives, are not sufficiently large.

Well, there are plenty of private companies who have/are developed/developing vaccines for all sorts of stuff, because there is money in it - the point of effective vaccines is that they get used, and are profitable, and cost effective.
In contrast, effective novel antibiotics are both tougher and more costly to develop, and if/when developed, don't get used unless absolutely necessary, for fear of developing resistance. And limited patent lives mean that even a successful new antibiotic will quite possibly never recoup its development costs.
Biotech and pharmaceutical companies have lost a very large amount of money over recent decades trying to develop novel antibiotics. Many have given up.
(As for the NIH, it funds research; generally speaking, it doesn't develop useable drugs.)

The (far) bigger problem is healthcare funding as a whole, especially in the US - and is what sets overall incentives. The process of novel drug development is actually pretty effective, when all is said and done.

If you're really interested in the topic, this is quite a good place to start (though clearly the blogger has his own interested POV):
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/category/academia-vs-industry

Two questions to, perhaps, further discussion of whether or not the Clinton Foundation donations should be proscribed:

If giving money to gain face time with a politician is wrong, does that spell the end of those $300 a plate chicken dinners? If not, what is the key distinction to be made between the two?

Should Muhammad Yunus be forbidden from meeting with Clinton in any official capacity because he has contributed money to the Clinton's charity? If not, what is the clear standard by which we can tell who should and should not be allowed access to the SoS?

Proscribed; forbidden ?
I would suggest not.

Deprecated, perhaps.

And limited patent lives mean that even a successful new antibiotic will quite possibly never recoup its development costs.

Well, that is a business risk decision, no? If the public policy goal(patent duration)is to ensure that each and every new drug "turns a profit", then drug companies should be regulated utilities.

Overall, the drug industry is certainly no laggard when it comes to the bottom line.

Censured?

(And while we are at it, that should be "Clintons'.")

Well, that is a business risk decision, no? If the public policy goal(patent duration)is to ensure that each and every new drug "turns a profit", then drug companies should be regulated utilities.

Well, no.
In most other cases, private company drugs development seems to be a reasonably effective way of getting novel drugs to the market - and one which does not seem to have been bettered by other means. The patent system means that any drug company price gouging is time limited, probably now even in the case of tough to replicate biologics.

Antibiotic development has become a notable exception, and requires a public policy solution pretty urgently.

Deprecated, perhaps.

No. Unwritten constitutions, etc., may work in the UK, but here we have positive law.

Nothing wrong happened with this false scandal. End of story. No laws were broken, and no new ones are necessary with regard to a foundation which has disclosed all of its donors, etc. What was the bribe? The AIDS victims who received medicine were the beneficiaries - should we sue them?

Check out the Clinton Foundation website, or Facebook page, to know what it does.

There is nothing unethical happening here. It's the usual rightwing bs, accompanied by some leftie Clinton haters.

In most other cases, private company drugs development seems to be a reasonably effective way of getting novel drugs to the market - and one which does not seem to have been bettered by other means.

This is true.

And should you wish to regulate drug company profitability, something along the lines of the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence might be a reasonable approach.
https://www.nice.org.uk
Regulated utilities would almost certainly unduly stymie the rate of progress.

The outsize profits of drug companies have (IMO) rather more to do with the model of healthcare funding in the US, which is by quite some way their most lucrative market.

"Antibiotic development has become a notable exception, and requires a public policy solution pretty urgently."

YES. Those little buggers are evolving far too quickly, and overuse of antibiotics (in agriculture and in medicine) is making things worse.

This is a WAR, people. Us members of the Metazoan Kingdom have ALWAYS been at war with the Microbe menace, both as species and as individuals.

When we lose a battle, they eat us. Stand strong!

When we lose a battle, they eat us. Stand strong!

I like the turn this conversation is taking!

Quite right, it is a war, but one which we're not really fighting at the moment.

Untreatable bacterial infections are beyond unpleasant; they are downright scary. I'm an optimist in terms of the science, but developing new antibiotics is an expensive and protracted business, and the lack of effort on the part of either government or industry could conceivably see a decade where we effectively return to pre-WW2 medicine as far as bacteria are concerned.

Though, on the bright side, I suppose the threat of death from infection might cut down on unnecessary surgical procedures...

This is a WAR, people. Us members of the Metazoan Kingdom have ALWAYS been at war with the Microbe menace, both as species and as individuals.

When we lose a battle, they eat us.

What to do when involved in a tough war? Get allies!**

In this case, enlist some viruses. Bacteriophages infect, and can kill/eat, bacteria. Want to deal with MRSAs? There's a phage that will kill them, anti-biotic resistance notwithstanding.

The down side? You can't patent a virus which already exists in nature. At most, you can package and sell it the same way that you can package and sell water or blueberries. Nowhere near as much of a money-spinner.

** Of course, that does require accepting the idea that we might need allies. Some people may have a problem with that....

The problem I have with the Atlantic article is the assumption that our problems come from all those darn citizens taking too much interest in issues and imposing their purity notions on the practical politicians. In practice people point to two things-- lefties nominated McGovern who lost in a landslide, when the smoke filled room denizens would have picked someone who might have won. And then there is the apparent self destruction of the Republican Party, where they have lost control of their own extremists and sown so much hatred in some of their voters a person like Trump can come along and win the nomination.

On McGovern, boohoo. There will always be a conflict between the center left and further left within the party. So one time the far left got the nomination and lost the election. So what?

The Republican case is more serious. I agree with some of the posters at the Crooked Timber blog-- Trump is the culmination of decades of Republican dog whistling, but Trump doesn't bother with plausible deniability. He just comes out with it. And before him, the Tea Party is again a Republican creation that escaped the control of the leadership. If the leaders of a party play these sorts of games, encouraging crackpot notions about government takeovers and Islamophobia, then the country will become ungovernable if Republican politicians feel they have to keep feeding the monster they created. This has nothing to do with the need for smoke filled rooms or keeping policy discussions about domestic issues a deep secret so the final compromise that is hammered out can be sprung on voters as a fait accompli. ( sp?)

I forgot to add that in the McGovern case, the backdrop was Vietnam. The Very Serious People of their day had discredited themselves. I suspect most Americans really couldn't care less about politics if their lives are going fairly well and we aren't involved in some pointless war that kills Americans. If the VSP's don't want interference from the stupid voters, they should try not doing stupid stuff themselves.

Getting back to Yemen ( and thanks for the kind words, Count), we have the ideal of a smoke filled room right now, though that may be starting to change. So long as no new terrorist groups form intent on revenge, American politicians can support whatever war crimes our allies want to commit secure in the knowledge that nobody is going to vote them out of office because of it.

Regulated utilities would almost certainly unduly stymie the rate of progress.

Why? If antibiotic research is becoming so costly that the private sector is abandoning it, then it follows that a public policy to address this would involve subsidy and/or public investment. Regulated utilities are basically guarantied a decent, but not outrageous, return on equity.

There are other ways to promote research that do not involve granting a private entity monopoly profit.

Furthermore, the "basic research" done by the public efforts of the NIH plays a much greater role in innovation than you seem willing to grant. Their work provides the foundation upon which other private research builds.

As to our domestic pricing. Yes, our system does not allow (a.) importation of less expensive drugs; and (b.) does not allow Medicare/medicaid to negotiate with suppliers, which is, frankly, insane.

It is also questionable as to how granting long term government enforced monopolies to private actors encourages "progress" on this healthcare front.

Thanks.

The down side? You can't patent a virus which already exists in nature. At most, you can package and sell it the same way that you can package and sell water or blueberries. Nowhere near as much of a money-spinner...

Actually that's probably not quite true of therapies involving bacteriophages, but it's certainly an issue. The bigger one is that there simply isn't a good regulatory structure (certainly in the US) to facilitate commercial (or other) development.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phage_therapy#Obstacles

There is a European clinical trial ongoing, the first I'm aware of, but it apparently has encountered issues (I don't have a subscription, so am unable to read this full article):
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6293/1506

The slides of a recent presentation give some idea of what those might be:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-gyQt1SI_xuSmpJeEFzSWRVNUk/view?pref=2&pli=1

It is also questionable as to how granting long term government enforced monopolies to private actors encourages "progress" on this healthcare front

What constitutes long term in your view ?
Patents last 20 years, but given the time it takes to bring a drug to market, the enforced monopoly is nowhere near that.

A more difficult issue is how to produce copies of biological therapies, as effective monopolies there can extend long beyond patent term expiry. Again the problems here are as much regulatory as science. There are plenty of efforts to produce generic 'biosimilars'; getting FAD approval without running through many years of trials to prove equivalence is problematic.

Why? If antibiotic research is becoming so costly that the private sector is abandoning it, then it follows that a public policy to address this would involve subsidy and/or public investment…
Agreed.

Regulated utilities are basically guarantied a decent, but not outrageous, return on equity…
How might that work; do you just fund everyone, irrespective of success ? One thing the market does quite well is weed out companies which don’t succeed.

If not, what constitutes a ‘decent’ return to make up for failures elsewhere ?
No one is going to run a business with a high chance of failure, and meagre returns in case of success - which is essentially the problem with antibiotic development now.

(Typo above - should have been 'FDA'.)

The Very Serious People

Just for the record, that concept (and phrasing) is wearing very thin.

American politicians can support whatever war crimes our allies want to commit secure in the knowledge that nobody is going to vote them out of office because of it.

You still seem to suggest that supporting the Saudis is some kind of ultimate preferred policy goal, when actually it's probably an attempt to forestall a much larger conflagration over Iran and nukes. Do you think our just staying out of it is going to result in Peace Now? There are a whole lot of places in the world where that's just not happening.

Nigel, you make good points regarding drug development. Part of the problem is the monopolies that still somehow control drugs out of patent, like epinephrine, which is cheap, but also its expensive delivery method, the EpiPen.

Even if there are sanctioned monopolies, there has to be a some kind of regulatory cap on pricing.

How might that work

It was just a suggestion, perhaps not the best one. They work because the understanding is that in return for limited market entry, the firm agrees to limited profit.

I agree with your point regarding the absence of effective regulatory structure.

I am always chagrined to read claims about how effective markets are at "weeding out" failure. Those failures expend resources. When government expends resources in a futile way, it is called "waste".

Sometimes you just can't win.

Thanks for the conversation.

I like the poetic symmetry of a comment thread about Andrew Breitbat's posthumous political influence eventually discussing untreatable bacterial infections. Well done everyone! :-)

Do you think our just staying out of it is going to result in Peace Now? There are a whole lot of places in the world where that's just not happening.

The question is, in the places where there are still active wars, https://medium.com/@angushervey/the-decline-of-war-8760f9a5b5ce#.8kx2vck8i , can we impact the war or the aftermath positively? Or, as in many places in the world, does our leaving actually leave them to sort it out?

I am always chagrined to read claims about how effective markets are at "weeding out" failure. Those failures expend resources. When government expends resources in a futile way, it is called "waste".

Which is precisely the problem; public sector incentives are somewhat different from those in the private sector. Until politicians are prepared to accept necessary risks and concomitant failures (which the whole political process tends to militate against), innovation is a great deal harder....something I'm reminded of every time I read about the UK's House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Accounts_Committee_(United_Kingdom)
There's nothing magic about the private sector, and the people working there aren't necessarily smarter; it's that it is a more pluralistic environment, and more accepting of risk.

(A similar consideration applies to academia: how many scientific papers get published with negative results ?)

"can we impact the war or the aftermath positively? Or, as in many places in the world, does our leaving actually leave them to sort it out?"

That's a great question.

My own, not so terribly well-informed, opinion is that for CIVIL wars, outsiders should stay out, as the default condition.

Because either one side has to get completely stomped, or the combatants have to fight to exhaustion, and decide for themselves that they don't want to fight any more. Yes, those can be bad outcomes; but it's not at all clear that intervention gives a less bad outcome.

Of course, there's always a 'technological solution', but progress on the Open Source Time Machine is distressingly slow. I think Obama is using his own private Time Machine to sabotage the work. Dastardly.

My own, not so terribly well-informed, opinion is that for CIVIL wars, outsiders should stay out, as the default condition.

Agreed, and I'd add that in recent years we have been both terribly, and well, informed.
Kosovo was, arguably at least, an exception. Are there any others ?

The Very Serious People

Just for the record, that concept (and phrasing) is wearing very thin.

It makes me think the likes of The Onion, Fafblog, Jon Stewart and his various progeny are the only ones who can (or could - *sad face*) make legitimate political commentary because they throw in lots of jokes and humor, thereby not being Very Serious.

Oh, and the Count. Him, too.

Some ack-ack on drug pricing:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/08/in-november-ballot-initiative.html

Also, some seriously funny Twitter stuff. I hate Twitter, but this guy cracks me up. You need to scroll down to get the zing. I especially love how his "Ryan" says absolutely nothing. Just like real life.

https://twitter.com/onlxn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

(A similar consideration applies to academia: how many scientific papers get published with negative results ?)

That would be in essence my PhD thesis.
It's mainly explaining why the basic idea did not work out so well. The project was partially publicly financed btw.

My own, not so terribly well-informed, opinion is that for CIVIL wars, outsiders should stay out, as the default condition.

That would be ideal. On the other hand, what is a "civil war" when outsiders aren't staying out? Or what is a "civil war" in a region where national borders were made up by outsiders, where national identity isn't a deciding political factor, and where the consequences of the "civil war" affects the rest of the world?

As to Yemen, "we" aren't really officially in the fight. "We" are supporting Saudi Arabia, in exchange for their support for the Iran deal. (Is it a civil war when Saudi Arabia and Iran are also involved?)

The most significant question, it seems to me, is whether the Iran deal is worth the support we had to give to Saudi Arabia to get its cooperation. Most "hawks" don't like the Iran deal, because it interferes with their intentions regarding open war with Iran. What's your view on what the Iran deal is worth?

My own, not so terribly well-informed, opinion is that for CIVIL wars, outsiders should stay out, as the default condition.

I'd say probably yes, depending on what kind of civil war it is.

Kosovo was, arguably at least, an exception. Are there any others?

Kosovo would be an exception because that civil war was not about taking over the country as a whole, but about splitting a country which was mostly segregated between two groups. The Kurds in Iraq would be a similar case, if it came to full scale military conflict.

The reason that they are exceptions is that it is possible to end the conflict without one side getting "completely stomped," and without both sides getting utterly exhausted. It just takes one side accepting that it cannot successfully reconquer the other.

speaking of Breitbart...

Bannon turns out to be a wife beater!

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/bannons-bad-news/497612/

can you imagine what kind of cabinet Trump would put together?

Well, we can assume it wouldn't be a "kitchen cabinet"....

OMFG.

now he's gone and hired someone from right in the middle of Christie's bridge scandal.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-s-razor-will-cut-you-up

He has to be sabotaging his campaign on purpose because he doesn't want the responsibilities of the presidency.

Cleek, have you considered the possibility that nobody else is willing to sign on with him? At this point, anyone with ambitions for a future in politics might see association with the Trump campaign as career suicide.

My God, those Clintons ARE diabolical!

Paying their taxes in full AND doling out the entire Clinton Foundation endowment to Trump as his fee for the most exquisite ratfucking (using experienced ratfuckers familiar to all of us, too!) operation since Abraham Lincoln put Democrats on the hook for slavery so he could become a Republican martyr for the Second Amendment.

The mind would boggle but the synapses are fried.

And it's amazing how that sinister brat, Chelsea, can take time out from handing out free AIDS meds in Africa to throw her voice so convincingly as she reads directly from the long-standing horseshit, pigf*cking traditional Republican playbook:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/eric-trump-holiday-tree-white-house

As Trump settles in to consider his cabinet and Supreme Court nominations, I guess socialists are out of luck:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/paul-lepage-voicemail-gattine-racist

Now your regular old racist mainstream Republican c8cksuckers (I use the term as Republicans use it .. to slur the OTHER while dangling jobs in front of FOX blondes as incentive to get them to s*ck their dicks and go on the air AND slur the Other as part of the well-worn journalism motto: "we upchuck, you buy it") will stand in good stead for those positions.

True, the ultimate c*cksucking piece of dog sh*t, Ted Cruz, has put himself out of the running despite meeting all of Trump's criteria, which seems a hell of a way to run a clown show, pushing the most accomplished clowns to the side.

And Paul Ryan, the bugger of the poor, already has a job getting up the backside of the indigent without actually quoting any numbers.

Funny New Yorker cartoon this week. A guy gazing at his computer screen in his work cubicle. His boss pops in behind him and admonishes (I paraphrase): "Enough looking at butterflies on the Net during work hours, Fenster. We have a porn empire to run around here."

Which raises interesting questions regarding what behavior in the workplace is regarded as out of bounds in that "industry".

"Quiet on the set!" and "A second take! Do you have any idea what we're paying for this abandoned warehouse?" would seem to be the only admonitions in the employee handbook.

This lifeboat is getting mighty crowded:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/paul-wolfowitz-may-vote-clinton

It's starting to feel like one of those WWII Navy movies wherein both the American ship and the German U-boat sink to the bottom and the lifeboat full of Americans hauls the German U-Boat Captain out of the soup too.

Or maybe we're going to have a tiger by the tail:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbVD0V0IdyU

Other than raw misogyny to outdo the raw racism of the Obama years and enough assassination plots to make the Secret Service wish they were working for Indira Gandhi or Yitzhak Rabin, this is what I expect during a Clinton Administration, if she wins:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/08/26/begin-the-beguine/

If Trump wins, I expect to miss most of the fun on account of my rendition to Guantanamo for the new and improved torture regime.

Cleek, have you considered the possibility that nobody else is willing to sign on with him?

heh.

you're probably right about that.

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