Archive for September 4th, 2008

US Supports a Political Corpse

September 4th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: NY Times, Wall Street Journal

Russia and the US have ramped up the rhetoric over Georgia, a small country on Russia’s southern border that Russian ground forces invaded last month and still occupy.

The flare-up began two days ago, when Russian President Dmitri Medvedev referred to US-backed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as a “political corpse.”

Yesterday, the Bush administration proposed giving $1billion in economic and humanitarian aid to Georgia. Today, Dick Cheney shook hands with Saakashvili in Tbilisi and described Russia’s smack down of Georgia as, “an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change (Georgia’s) borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world.”

Cheney subsequently expressed US support for Georgia’s petition to enter NATO. That will not sit well in Moscow.

The US position on Georgia seems quite reasoned and nuanced. My worry is that, apart from occasional bellicose exchanges between the two Cold War foes, Russia and the US are not talking all that much.

This would be a huge mistake. It is essential that we have ongoing, multi-layered communications with countries like this. Unfortunately this has not been the Bush-Cheney way, and McCain has a definite inclination to posture in similar fashion.  

We want to believe the Big O will get this right.

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Bad News About Infuse

September 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Source: Wall Street Journal

Recently, the FDA alerted surgeons that it has received 38 reports of serious complications associated with Infuse, a growth factor marketed by Medtronic to promote bone growth and healing after spine surgery.

What makes this news is that the complications have arisen following off label use of Infuse. The FDA approved the drug for use in lumbar spine (lower back) surgery, but the complications have followed cervical spine (neck) surgery.

The complications include difficulty breathing and swallowing, and they have at times necessitated life saving tracheotomy and repeat surgery.

Medtronic is not allowed to promote off label use of its products and Medtronic denies doing so. Physicians paid by Medtronic have no such restrictions, however.

Shortly after the FDA approved Infuse, influential surgeons such as Regis W. Haid and Gerald Rodts began lecturing about and posting on web sites their favorable results using Infuse in cervical spine surgery.  They did not always disclose that they were paid by Medtronic. Some of these surgeons received royalties on sales of Infuse, a practice sure to promote off label utilization.

 Not pretty, and not unusual.

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Palin Dissed Regular Folks

September 4th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Ezra Klein

Yes Sara Palin was brilliant last night. But the content of her speech contained some nasty insinuations and code words that, although they may have sailed over Palin’s head, will not be missed by the very folks she was charged to seduce.

Specifically, Palin derided the Big O’s experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. In that role, Obama worked with people who had been left behind when steel plants closed or who had otherwise lost work.

As David Plouffe points out, community organizing is how regular folks respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.

Plouffe reminds us that for decades, ordinary people have forged their own versions of the American dream by driving change from the bottom up. Community organizing is what drove the women’s sufferage movement, labor rights and the civil rights movement for example. It’s going on today in churches, veteran’s clubs and many other venues. Do the Republicans understand this?

Sadly, Palin’s gaffe comes as no surprise. Her speech was after all, written by a speechwriter for George W Bush.

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Palin Aces First Test

September 4th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Commentary

Controversial VP pick Sarah Palin didn’t just lance a festering boil of Republican angst last night. She dazzled. She was poised, self-assured, in command and not only that, she was accessible and likable.

She proved to be pretty adept with a shiv, too  (“I have actual responsibilities”).

To be sure, hers was an easy test-she read a speech (more about that shortly) before a crowd that desperately wanted her to succeed. Going forward, we’re likely to see her in similarly controlled situations as she takes time to brush up on her world maps and McCain’s changing policy positions.

Tougher tests will come when she faces the media or her opponents. There is also the risk that a story or two about her Alaska shenanigans will grow legs.

Still, Sarah Palin did save the game for McCain and his party, at least for one night. That was impressive! Congratulations to her.

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