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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Interesting Nature Posted by Hello

More of the same Posted by Hello

Colorado Drift Wood In a Valley Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

New Yorker?


I was shocked too.

But I'm quoting a New Yorker piece on Prescription Drugs:

The “intolerable” prices that Angell writes about are confined to the brand-name sector of the American drug marketplace. As the economists Patricia Danzon and Michael Furukawa recently pointed out in the journal Health Affairs, drugs still under patent protection are anywhere from twenty-five to forty per cent more expensive in the United States than in places like England, France, and Canada. Generic drugs are another story. Because there are so many companies in the United States that step in to make drugs once their patents expire, and because the price competition among those firms is so fierce, generic drugs here are among the cheapest in the world. And, according to Danzon and Furukawa’s analysis, when prescription drugs are converted to over-the-counter status no other country even comes close to having prices as low as the United States.

It is not accurate to say, then, that the United States has higher prescription-drug prices than other countries. It is accurate to say only that the United States has a different pricing system from that of other countries. Americans pay more for drugs when they first come out and less as the drugs get older, while the rest of the world pays less in the beginning and more later. Whose pricing system is cheaper? It depends. If you are taking Mevacor for your cholesterol, the 20-mg. pill is two-twenty-five in America and less than two dollars if you buy it in Canada. But generic Mevacor (lovastatin) is about a dollar a pill in Canada and as low as sixty-five cents a pill in the United States. Of course, not every drug comes in a generic version. But so many important drugs have gone off-patent recently that the rate of increase in drug spending in the United States has fallen sharply for the past four years. And so many other drugs are going to go off-patent in the next few years—including the top-selling drug in this country, the anti-cholesterol medication Lipitor—that many Americans who now pay more for their drugs than their counterparts in other Western countries could soon be paying less.

The second misconception about prices has to do with their importance in driving up over-all drug costs. In one three-year period in the mid-nineteen-nineties, for example, the amount of money spent in the United States on asthma medication increased by almost a hundred per cent. But none of that was due to an increase in the price of asthma drugs. It was largely the result of an increase in the prevalence of usage—that is, in the number of people who were given a diagnosis of the disease and who then bought drugs to treat it. Part of that hundred-per-cent increase was also the result of a change in what’s known as the intensity of drug use: in the mid-nineties, doctors were becoming far more aggressive in their attempts to prevent asthma attacks, and in those three years people with asthma went from filling about nine prescriptions a year to filling fourteen prescriptions a year. Last year, asthma costs jumped again, by twenty-six per cent, and price inflation played a role. But, once again, the big factor was prevalence. And this time around there was also a change in what’s called the therapeutic mix; in an attempt to fight the disease more effectively, physicians are switching many of their patients to newer, better, and more expensive drugs, like Merck’s Singulair.

All told, prescription-drug spending in the United States rose 9.1 per cent last year. Only three of those percentage points were due to price increases, however, which means that inflation was about the same in the drug sector as it was in the over-all economy. Angell’s book and almost every other account of the prescription-drug crisis take it for granted that cost increases are evidence of how we’ve been cheated by the industry. In fact, drug expenditures are rising rapidly in the United States not so much because we’re being charged more for prescription drugs but because more people are taking more medications in more expensive combinations. It’s not price that matters; it’s volume.


The fact that volume matters more than price also means that the emphasis of the prescription-drug debate is all wrong. We’ve been focussed on the drug manufacturers. But decisions about prevalence, therapeutic mix, and intensity aren’t made by the producers of drugs. They’re made by the consumers of drugs.

This is why increasing numbers of employers have in recent years made use of what are known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or P.B.M.s. The P.B.M.s draw up drug formularies—lists of preferred medications. They analyze clinical-trials data to find out which drugs are the most cost-effective. In a category in which there are many equivalent options, they bargain with drug firms, offering to deliver all their business to one company in exchange for a discount. They build incentives into prescription-drug plans to encourage intelligent patient behavior. If someone wants to take a brand-name oral contraceptive and there is a generic equivalent available, for example, a P.B.M. might require her to pay the price difference.


On Arafat’s passing
November 10th, 2004
From www.americanthinker.com


The media has been full of reports of Arafat’s illness and numerous articles on his role as leader of the Palestinians. What else is there to add? Some important matters are being noted, but others are left unsaid.

Note the contrast when the media refers to Yasser Arafat and to Ariel Sharon. Arafat is almost always identified as the “Palestinian President” or “leader of the Palestinian Authority”, a neutral and respectful mention of his title. He is never referred to as the prime terrorist that he is. However, in Sharon’s case the pejorative adjectives of “hard line” and “right wing” are frequently applied. Evidently the simple title of “Israeli Prime Minister” requires additional qualifications. Is this a tip off to entrenched media bias?

At this time we should at least recall that Arafat is the father of modern terrorism who pioneered the hijacking of airliners in the 1960’s. Even before the 1967 Six-Day War, and at least three years before there were any so-called “occupied territories,” Arafat had already established the PLO with its covenant declaring that the existence of Israel was null and void. At the time Gaza was ‘occupied’ by Egypt, and the West Bank was ‘occupied’ by Jordan, and no one complained or demanded a Palestinian state. So Arafat’s original terror campaign against Israel could not have been over the “occupied territories” or their claimed need for a Palestinian state.

Dennis Prager on Democrat Values

Why Democrats are tagged as the party without values

To most Americans, Michael Moore is a Marxist who has utter contempt for most of his fellow Americans, who goes abroad and tells huge audiences how stupid and venal his country is, and in his dishonest propaganda film, portrays the American military as callous buffoons. Yet, this radical was given the most honored seat at the Democratic Party convention in Boston, next to former President Jimmy Carter.

To most Americans, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are race-baiting demagogues. Yet they are heroes to the Democratic Party. Most Americans do not see their country as the bigoted and racist nation regularly depicted by both black and white Democratic leaders.

To most Americans, a man who wears women's clothing to work is a pathetic person in need of psychotherapy. To the Democratic Party, he is a man whose cross-dressing is merely another expression of multiculturalism. The California legislature, which is entirely controlled by Democrats, passed a law prohibiting any employer from firing a man who shows up to work wearing women's clothing.

To most Americans, Eminem is a vulgar nihilist who poisons young Americans' minds. To John Kerry he was a man whose anti-Bush hate video was worthy of endorsement.

To most Americans, obscenity-filled evenings should be restricted to R-rated films or a Las Vegas comedy act, not a major party's fund raiser attended by its candidates for president of the United States. To Democrats, those who object to such evenings are regarded as judgmental, hypocritical and narrow minded.

To most Americans, Hollywood stars are regarded as terrific to watch in films but also as narcissistic ingrates when, between private jet trips to Cuba and Cannes, they express their contempt for traditional America. That the Democrats have a veritable monopoly on support from folks like Sean Penn and Robert "Castro-is-a-great-leader" Redford may give Democrats a heady feeling, but for tens of millions of Americans it merely reinforces their belief that the Democratic Party shares Hollywood's values. Even The New York Times, in a post-election analysis, wrote of "the possibility that activist entertainers' fervent endorsements might have cost Mr. Kerry the election."

To most Americans, the American military is not only heroic; it is regarded as more important to safeguarding freedom than any other human institution, including the ACLU, the United Nations or the university, to cite three major Democratic Party affiliates. To virtually the entire Left, which includes the Democratic Party, the military is, at best, a necessary evil. Otherwise, the overriding doctrine is "Make love, not war." That is why Harvard still refuses to allow ROTC training -- and it is unlikely that either of the Massachusetts senators even finds that wrong, let alone as reprehensible as most Americans do.

To most Americans, gays are fellow Americans who happen to be homosexual and who should be accorded the same respect any fellow American is accorded. But most Americans also believe that America should retain the millennia-old definition of marriage as man-woman. They regard liberal judges who take it upon themselves to redefine marriage with contempt. And these judges are identified with the Democrats.

Whatever their views on abortion and abortion rights, the vast majority of Americans view the abortion of a viable fetus/baby (partial-birth abortion) as immoral. The Democratic candidate and his fellow Democrats repeatedly voted against a ban on this practice.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The UN is STILL Not Our Friend, Entry #54039

W.’s U.N. Mandate: Time to rethink this relationship (By Anne Bayefsky)

I was going to excerpt it.

It is better to just reprint it.

No faces were more sullen the day after the election than those of the diplomats and bureaucrats skulking around the halls of the United Nations. Secretary-General Kofi Annan eked out a brief statementlast Wednesday in which he "warmly congratulate[d] President Bush on his re-election" and pledged his "commit[ment] to continuing to work with President Bush and his administration on the whole range of issues facing the United Nations and the world." Though such U.N. doublespeak rarely raises eyebrows anymore, one element of the "political capital" that the president received upon reelection warrants some plain language.

President Bush has a mandate to rethink American relations with the United Nations.

The campaign gave voters two clear alternatives. Senator Kerry's would-be foreign policy was based on a "global test" that involved dealing "at length with the United Nations," in marked contrast to the president's position that American interests diverge in important respects from U.N. proclivities. The president reminded voters of a decade of U.N. huffing and puffing on Iraq and of the dangers of political adventurism by the U.N.'s International Criminal Court. Then the American people chose.

The campaign also smoked out something more sinister than impotence or ineptitude at Turtle Bay, namely, a U.N. secretariat dedicated to undermining the president's success. Their tactics should not be forgotten in the wake of their ultimate failure. There was the U.N. refusal of American protection for U.N. officials in Iraq, minimal support for Iraqi-election preparation and institution-building, the venting of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal belief that the war on Iraq was illegal. And in the last weeks of the campaign, the director general of the U.N.'s Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed El-Baradei, sought to draw as much attention as he could to weapons missing from the Iraqi facility at Al-Qaqaa for the last 18 months and representing a fraction of the munitions destroyed and secured since the fall of Saddam Hussein. With a Gallup poll on the eve of the election saying eight of ten Americans were following the issue of the missing explosives closely and that 58 percent were apportioning at least a moderate amount of blame to the president, a 6,200 U.N. staff in the middle of America's largest metropolis with a 3.16 billion-dollar biennium budget for 2004-05 is a force to be reckoned with.

The day of reckoning has come. In an election that turned so much on values, what values does the U.N. promote? To name a few, the U.N.'s primary human-rights body, the Commission on Human Rights, includes such role models as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Not surprisingly, of 86 separate votes held at the 2004 Commission, the U.S. was in the minority 85 percent of the time. Reports estimate that more than two million people have been killed in Sudan over two decades of conflict, 70,000 have been murdered in the Darfur region since March, and another 1.6 million persons are currently displaced. But there has been no U.N. General Assembly emergency session on Sudan, just as there wasn't for Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. That's because the Assembly's emergency sessions are reserved for denouncing Israel, the "tenth" emergency session having now been "reconvened" 13 times in the past seven years. Instead, the U.N. has sent a commission of inquiry to Sudan to "determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred or are still occurring" and to report in three months. Zhila Izadi, a 13-year-old Iranian girl, is currently under a sentence of death by stoning for the crime of being raped and impregnated by her brother. But the U.N. response to a criminal "justice" system that stones, amputates limbs, and publicly hangs children was to abolish the post of U.N. investigator of human-rights violations in Iran in April 2002. So much for values.

In the past four years, largely as a result of the predilections of Secretary of State Colin Powell, American policy toward the U.N. has been inconsistent. Unfettered American handling of Arab-Israeli diplomacy has been modified by Powell, Annan, and the EU. They spawned the quartet with its promise to make the U.N. itself an indispensable player, despite its gross bias against Israel. The president told the U.N. in September 2002 that there had to be serious consequences for the failure of Iraq to abide by a decade of Security Council resolutions, but then spent six months lending credence to the view that the Council's approval for imposing those consequences was required.

The differences between the president's and the U.N.'s agenda should no longer be papered over. Success in the war against terrorism requires identifying the enemy. The U.N. has no definition of terrorism. Close to a third of its members actively participate in the Organization of the Islamic Conference and stand in the way of a comprehensive convention against terrorism or any resolution that would unequivocally condemn the use of all available means in the name of a struggle for self-determination.

Success requires an accurate assessment of priorities. The U.N. thinks the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the greatest impediment to world order — not a nuclear Iran, not a bellicose North Korea, not the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, and not violent Islamic fundamentalism.

Success depends on distinguishing causes from effects. The U.N. claims the root cause of militant Islamic terrorism the world over is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, while in fact the occupation results from failed (and continuing) Arab attempts to destroy the Jewish state.

And success depends on an accurate assessment of responsibility. The U.N. Arab Human Development Report says "Arab countries...evince the lowest levels of freedom among the world regions compared.... When it comes to voice and accountability, the Arab region still ranks lowest in the world." The report notes "the virtual absence of good governance," "the relative backwardness of the Arab region in this vital area" of "knowledge acquisition, absorption and use." But when it came to assigning responsibility, the report points a finger at "the severe impediment of human development" caused by "the Israeli occupation of Palestine" and explains that "the issue of freedom in Arab countries has become a casualty of the overspill from the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq."

On every one of these counts — the names of the terrorists and their state sponsors, renouncing terrorism and committing to democratic reform first, the refusal to answer the question of "why do they hate us?" by self-flagellation, and the placement of responsibility directly at the feet of the despots — President Bush has staked out a dramatically different course from that of the U.N. Therefore it is time that U.S. taxpayers had an in-depth accounting of the 22 percent of the U.N. budget that comes from their blood, sweat, and tears.

Election Recap

The Democrat's Choice at AmericanThinker.com is a pretty even handed recap of the Kerry candidacy.

The article ends with this summary: "Something vs. Nothing: The Democrats have yet to grasp that they have chosen the losing side."

Other Excerpts:

A political axiom holds that you can’t beat something with nothing. The Democratic Party, however, keeps trying.

In the final days of the 2000 campaign, Democrat operatives and their media accomplices broke the story of George W. Bush’s 1976 DUI conviction. What made it a “story” is not entirely clear. Granting that the barest suspicion of hypocrisy is sufficient to loose the hounds, and any actual evidence can destroy a politician’s career, especially a Republican politician’s, where was the hypocrisy? Bush had talked openly about his drinking problem and his decision to overcome it, acknowledging that he done certain things he wasn’t proud of. Uncovering a scrape with the law that happened after he turned his life around would be the journalistic equivalent of tossing a side of beef into a school of piranhas. But what exactly was the purpose of highlighting an embarrassment that occurred during a stretch of his life that, by his own admission, was pockmarked by episodes of improper behavior? How did it qualify as “news”?

Over the final weekend of the 2000 campaign, millions of seniors received a telephone message, taped by far-left actor Ed Asner, warning them that a Bush victory would threaten their social security benefits. Four years later, the voice on the message belonged to Hal Linden, but the content was unchanged.

Bush commented that he has been the President for a few years now and nobody missed any checks: the Democrats pull this stuff every election--why should anyone take them seriously?


By nominating John Kerry, Democrats ensured that they would instigate a vigorous debate on the Vietnam War. Here was a man who had thrust himself into the national consciousness by branding his fellow veterans as war criminals. Following his return from active duty, he made unauthorized visits to the North Vietnamese delegations in Paris, and became an articulate advocate for the enemy position (John Edwards was shocked by entries in Kerry’s diary that historian Douglas Brinkley kept under wraps until the election was over).


Banding together as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, they–Kerry’s entire chain of command—presented a version of events that differed sharply from the candidate’s self-serving account of his own unparalleled heroism, an account that was accepted uncritically by the mainstream media. One of them, John O’Neill, who had debated Kerry on the Dick Cavett Show in the early seventies, co-authored a book, Unfit for Command, which laid out the case in painstaking detail.

The Democratic response to the attacks of the Swiftees was absolutely characteristic. They first attempted to discredit individual members of the group by tying them to Republican cash cows. Next, they pressured radio stations to refuse to grant airtime to anyone deviating from the official Kerry line. They demanded that bookstores refrain from stocking Unfit for Command. Droves of party hacks descended on the talk shows to denounce the decorated vets as “liars,” employing a fascinating technique: dissenters from received truth had to be lying because the official records supported Kerry’s version. The Swiftees contended that Kerry wrote the version that found its way into the official records, so whatever your judgment of the respective sides, the question of origin was central to the dispute.


In every respect, what was on display was the quintessential Democratic response: a no-holds-barred attack that savaged the opponent on every level. No consideration at all was given to the possibility that the Swift Boat veterans felt any genuine emotions, or were expressing grievances rooted in reality. As always, there were no “issues,” just an enemy that stood in the path to the White House and needed to be liquidated.

By cobbling together Unfit Commander, the Democrats felt they had achieved symmetry-- you attack the military record of our guy, we’ll do the same to yours. One thought completely alien to their mindset, a concept that simply could not be entertained by any of them, was that the Swiftees were real, while Texans for Truth were fakes. Many liberals and leftists hate George Bush for his Christianity; a disturbingly large number hate him because he will routinely opt to protect America in reckless defiance of the wishes of Old Europe.
There is a line above about Douglas Brinkley witholding information about Kerry. Some of that information is in a Newsweek article in the November 15th issue, already available online.

Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, also wanted to take a swipe at the Swifties. Edwards was hardly an attacker in the Dole (or Cheney) tradition of vice presidential hit men; his whole persona and appeal were based on sunny optimism. But as early as Aug. 5, when the Swifties were just getting traction, Edwards wanted to push back, hard. McCain had just told the Associated Press that the Swift Boat ads were "dishonest and dishonorable... the same kind of deal that was pulled on me." Edwards wanted to begin a speech, "I join with Senator McCain in calling on the president to condemn this dishonest and dishonorable ad." But Kerry headquarters said no. Stephanie Cutter, the boss of the Kerry communications shop, explained that the campaign didn't need to give the Swift Boat vets any more attention than they were already getting.

Edwards played along, but his aides were indignant. They warned the veep candidate that the story was already out of control and about to get worse. Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of a wartime biography of Kerry, cautioned that Kerry's diary included mention of a meeting with some North Vietnamese terrorists in Paris. Edwards was flabbergasted. "Let me get this straight," the senator said. "He met with terrorists? Oh, that's good."

Now, Newsweek didn't just uncover this nice little tidbit..."Let me get this straight," average Joe said. "Newsweek coordinated the release of information with the Kerry campaign? Oh, that's good."

Back to the Basics

It has been a week. Monday and Tuesday (and even part of Wednesday) last week was jammed packed with activity, much of which seemed important at the time, but which will fade into forgotten memory.

Locally, our efforts were relatively successful, though there always seems to be one or two "we shoulda" thoughts when a close race is lost. The voters of Delaware County demonstrated a very volitile ballot splitting this year, which in general helps Republicans here.

Specifically, our Delaware County efforts helped produce the following:
President: We again supported President Bush.
Congress: Congressman Pence won 60% of the vote in what is one of the two "tougher" counties in his district.
Governor: Unfortunately, we were unable to deliver the county for Mitch, but the margin was brought down from 8 to 10 points six weeks earlier to a 3 point deficit on Election Day. We were one of a very few counties to go for soon-to-be-former governor EyeBrows.
State-wide: We went convincingly to the two Republican State Wide Candidates (Attny. Gen. and Superintendant of Public Instruction)
Indiana House: One third of the County supported a Republican Incumbent to allow him to retain his seat, One third of the County (surprisingly) helped Bill Davis defeat a Democrat incumbent (which helped gain a majority in the State House) by not just "holding our own" but by actually winning that Democrat-leaning section of the district. (The other third of the county didn't actually have a choice of a Republican, in a district that is easily 70% Democrat).
Local/County seats: We won the County Treasurer (unopposed), one Commissioner (that gives us a 2-1 majority), and 2 County Council (that gives us a 5-2 majority).

Overall, not bad. Lots of conventional wisdom is no longer so wise.

My blog will now return to less Presidential-specific topics, though I think politics will still be a topic.