Monday, March 30, 2009


Don't forget that the government plan for GM which requires that Rick Waggoner step down as CEO is an option. An option is one of the choices which can be made or the freedom or right to choose. Everyone is going to be bellyaching about governmental intervention, but GM does have the option not to take taxpayer money.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moving Forward

The questions; Is global warming real or overstated? If global warming is real, is the contribution by mankind real or overstated? If the contribution by mankind is real, can we really do anything about it? The answers to these three questions (yes, yes, and yes) pretty much sum up the current situation in our world. "Our world" also includes resistant single issue groups of vocal dissidents consisting of either those with corporate interests who may be damaged by having to change harmful practices, or religious fundamentalists who have a nasty habit of viewing all world events through the prism of "God's will." These groups deal with the knotty problem of the answers to these three questions by attacking the science which supports the world wide concern about the eventual fate of our planet if things don't change. The corporate dissenters attack the science as politically motivated, i.e., it is obviously a Democrat goal to increase government spending and gain control over private enterprise, one more step toward socialism. Therefore, all science in support of a warming crisis is, by definition, politically tainted. This approach dovetails nicely with that of religious fundamentalists whose anti-evolution mantra thoroughly debases the role of science in any aspect of life. A person who cannot understand the role of evolution in the formation of life on this planet, including human life, is inured to a science-rejecting position on all matters of importance. (Note: I know and respect many individuals who have profound religious beliefs and who can accept science and evolution as compatible with their beliefs.) I want to make it clear that I also respect the right of any person to believe and practice what they believe free from government intrusion. My point, however, is that to encourage a child or student to be against evolution is to provide a major roadblock to that individual insofar as acquiring adequate skills and understanding essential for success and advancement in the 21st century. In my view, the saddest part of the last eight years was the inaction on global warming that resulted from the combined effects of these two forces which coalesced in the person of George W. Bush. We should and can be all on the same page on this issue. The health, the lives, of our grandchildren, and their grandchildren, is at stake.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Me Worry?

I have a lot to worry about. My golf game has gone to hell. I find that when I have a distance of about 35-40 yards remaining from the hole that, for some unfathomable reason, I shank the shot. For non golfers, this means that when I hit this particular shot, the ball goes directly off at right angles. Not a pretty sight and I worry the whole damn time while playing about the next time I will have to hit a shot from that distance. I also worry about the economy. I worry that everything I have spent a life time accumulating will be gone and whether next year at this time I'll be a greeter at McDonald's. I have about as much control over the economy as I do over my golf swing. Scary stuff. I also worry about my health. When I awaken each morning, my muscles are stiff as boards and it is a struggle to simply get out of bed. A couple of cups of coffee later and things are back to normal, but I worry about the day when this mysterious stiffness doesn't go away. I worry about whether I am getting enough vitamin B, or maybe I am getting too much. I also worry about whether I am getting too much sun. A recent scientific article suggested that people should get more sun because they need the vitamin D. I now worry about that too. After I eat spinach I worry about whether it is stuck in my teeth. When I buy gas at a particular gas station, I worry about whether or not the station down the street has a better price. I worry about the length of time of my usual forty minute workout. Should I extend it to fifty or sixty minutes? Should I push myself harder?

Yesterday at the legal clinic, one of my new clients took a while to move through the door to my office. Jim, 26 years old, has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth. He was strapped in a motorized wheel chair which he could operate with his right hand. His left hand was contracted to nearly his elbow. We shook hands. His grip was as firm as a collegiate football linebacker. He looked at me directly in the eyes and had a pleasant smile on his face. I like corny jokes and he told me one while his sister, who accompanied him, sat rolling her eyes, a familiar response when I try to tell a joke. We both laughed hard. Recently Jim was robbed at gun point by his roommate who has disappeared, whereabouts unknown, but is being sought by the police. As a result, Jim had to leave the apartment where he had lived for four years because of concerns over his safety and the apartment complex is now dunning him through a collection agency for bills left unpaid by a now defunct health care agency. That agency had contracted with the State of Florida to provide basic services for Jim. The owner of that company , like Jim's former roommate, has also disappeared and the company has been decertified by the state. One of the charges asserted by the apartment complex is for six doors inside the apartment which had been removed so that Jim could maneuver with his wheelchair. When the handyman removed the wooden doors four years ago, he put them outside behind the building. Now the apartment complex says that Jim should pay for new doors because the old ones are warped. Jim is attending college and wants to be a lawyer.

After Jim left, I closed the door of my office and cried. He came to me for help and I was the one who was helped. What a lesson.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Habits of Thought

Habits are living things. What we do by habit means that we are not taking that action by choice. I refer specifically to habits of thinking although habitual conduct covers the entire spectrum of actions. In the past couple of years, we, all of us, have slipped into certain habits of thought on political and economic subjects. Conservatives deplore liberals because of the habitual conservative thinking that liberals are intent on having government take over control of all aspects of our lives. Liberals deplore conservative thinking precisely for the opposite reason; namely, that imposing the requirement that individuals be held responsible for their own conduct overlooks the fact that societal impacts create large discrepancies in abilities between haves and have-nots. One has only to sit down and read the various Supreme Court decisions regarding higher education and affirmative action, Bakke and its progeny, to appreciate the full bloom and spectrum of habitual thinking between conservative and liberal which serve as the current triggers to responses in our society. A perfect example of a current habitual knee jerk response is the Limbaugh-driven prayer that is based on the hope that Obama will fail in his quest to right the economic disaster our country is facing. In a sane world, unless one is living inside a bubble and cut off completely with contact from the outside world, how could anyone hope for such a thing? It is obvious that such a Limbaugh proclamation is not the result of clear and logical analysis, but the product of idealogic cut and paste squares of mindless thoughts trying to be forced into a round hole. Limbaugh was thrown off a network football show a couple of years back because of his proclamation that the NFL needed black quarterbacks to succeed (in spite of his implied insinuation that they would somehow be incapable of doing so). The black quarterback in his sights at that time went on to lead a team to a Super Bowl championship a couple of years later. Viewed through the prism of Limbaugh's demonstrated pattern of habitual thought, our current black quarterback (Obama) is doomed to fail and one can easily understand why Limbaugh said what he said. Other examples of conservative habit thoughts come to mind; trial lawyer, tax and spend, nuisance lawsuits, and Democrat. These words have come to generate a recognized pattern of habitual responses that are as predictable as saying the sun will always come up in the morning.

The upshot of all this is that I find I must force myself to think about my habitual response to corporate America. My knee jerk response is to lead with a notion that CEO-types only evaluate a corporate action in terms of dollars to be generated with minimal regard to the impact on the lives of people. As an example, I can cite half a dozen situations involving the testing and marketing of prescription drugs in which deaths of users were concealed to avoid loss of sales or FDA approval. Once that repeated pattern of observed conduct burned into my brain, I find it hard now to let it go and assume that some CEOs are behaving properly. The current economic crisis, in my view, is caused by predictable CEO-type activities in the economic sector akin to the patterns of conduct in the pharmaceutical sector. I had a pleasant lunch yesterday with a corporate bank official, an upper level guy with one of the banks receiving large amounts of bailout money. Although it was in a social context, Larry spoke passionately about his bank's plan to return every single penny of the bailout money within the coming year. He says that the bank's economic activities thus far will not only return the taxpayers' investment, but a tidy profit. All in all, it was the best news I've heard from the economic front in quite a few months. I want my habitual negative thinking about corporate America to be cast aside. I choose to think about the positive side. I want corporate America to win this battle. I also want Obama to win. I don't have to think about that.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Get Now Why I Am a Liberal

My last two blog entries have been rants of sorts on the subject of the omnipresent anger in the hearts and minds of conservatives. In the past three years I have written several times about conservatives in the context of trying to understand just what it is they believe. At the end of the last decade, before the Bush administration, I felt comfortable about the differences between liberals and conservatives. There were several; liberals loved big government and thought that government should do all things for all people. Conservatives favored small government and expected that if people wanted something, they should work to get it and not expect to get a handout from the government at someone else's expense. The essence of the distinction between the two was conservatives believed that one should be able to keep what he earned and not give it to the government in the form of taxes so that others would get it. I refer to this as the "I am not my brother's keeper" viewpoint which appears to be the lifeblood of conservatism. Liberals, on the other hand, think that people who have certain innate disadvantages, such as being born with black skin in an inner city ghetto, deserve a reasonable opportunity to rise up and improve their lot, albeit with assistance from government like Clarence Thomas, as an example. Then, along came George W. Bush and the Republican Congressional majority in 2000 which inherited a governmental structure running in the black and turned it into a trillion dollar-plus deficit in a short eight years. Along the way the do-nothing-for-people conservatives passed a Medicare drug program for everybody over 65 at an estimated annual cost of 465 billion dollars a year. It is unclear to me at the present who benefits most from this program, the pharmaceutical industry who can sell their drugs while the government is prohibited by the law from negotiating prices or the users of these drugs. But it is clear that , one way or the other, it is a massive handout at government expense; i.e., hardly a conservative enterprise. This is one of several examples which have blurred the practical distinction in my understanding of the difference between conservative and liberal. The fake asserted upper hand on morality, spurned by the irresponsible under the desk act of liberal Clinton, was revealed for the charade it was by conservatives Foley, Gingrich, Vitter, Church, Hagarty and others who seemed to fail to understand that the zipper goes up, not down. Bottom line; conservatives do not have the market on morality and liberals are as likely to be spiritual creatures as conservatives. So let me get to the big questions at the moment. What is fanning the fire of anger in self-designated conservatives? In personal discussion with conservatives, I find myself in agreement with them on a lot of issues. One good friend, Dennis D., claims that we (he and I) have a libertarian streak running through each of us. However, I notice one key difference in that conservatives watch and listen to Fox and Bill O'Reilly as well as Rush Limbaugh. Dennis Miller, a comedian, appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show the other night and ranted and raved about the New York Times. This is a campaign that has gone on for a long time. Cheney insisted that in every hotel room he stayed in during his veep that all TVs in the rooms had to be turned to Fox. In watching the Fox programs (and I do watch them regularly), I do note one singular characteristic in that every piece of news or opinion is presented in a manner critical of liberals. The derisive tone is never specific, but all-inclusive. Code words are used; Pelosi is a trigger word which is used to depict unbridled irresponsible spending and advocacy for nonsensical liberal positions without specification. A trial lawyer (since the days of Reagan) is a mockery of a system symbolizing greed, avarice and nuisance lawsuits. Some of my conservative friends use the term Democrat as a code word for African American citizens of our country. The net result of all the deep thought and study efforts is that I have come to the conclusion that I am apparently a liberal because I am a trial lawyer who reads the New York Times. Doesn't my suscription to the Wall Street Journal count for anything?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Gift From My Daughter Mandy

Short factoid Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People was written and published during the depths of the depression in the early 1930s. David Brooks, an op-ed writer for the NYT discusses an unusual dynamic, or rather loss of dynamic, evident in the culture of the U.S. at this moment in time. "We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended. The public culture is dominated by one downbeat story after another as members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians." FDR's perhaps most famous quote was "We have nothing to fear but fear itself.: In my sophomoric approach to life I had always assumed that when he said that he was talking about the national mood during the undertaking of World War II. Now, at this moment I am wondering whether he was referring to the need to adopt a positive face and attitude during the depression era. So, I have done my homework and find that FDR made this statement during his inaugural address when assuming the presidency in 1932. In short, he was talking about the depression. The statement is set forth here; "I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

The above is set forth as a prequel to an adroit response made to my last blog by my daughter Mandy. To characterize the last blog I was puzzled by the anger contained within the hearts and minds of some of my conservative friends at a recent golf trip. Mandy responded thusly: "People . . . only get weirder when it comes to money - especially losing it. What you perceived as anger - is FEAR. Everyone is afraid right now. They have every right to be. Unfortunately Americans want to point a finger at one person (whoever is currently President) rather than taking the blame themselves. What the middle class folks are forgetting is that Obama is president because those who had more to lose (like their only house, their only income, etc - not just a vacation home or a pension) voted, too. Obama is taking a risky stand just like Lincoln did, and just like FDR did to get us out of a bad situation. Enough Americans believed that the status quo wouldn't be enough so took the chance on a change. Yes, it's risky and yes the good ole boy republicans hate there's a black man calling all the shots. But taking it out on you on the golf course is the only place they can do that safely anymore. Don't hate them, just pray for your fearful friends. Mandy." Enough said. p.s. Mandy, Happy Birthday and thanks for the gift of your thoughtfulness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Angry Right

We are in unsettling times. The United States, the world, is on the brink of financial collapse occasioned in large part because of the deregulatory schemes employed by our government most of the last decade. Note well; I am not engaging in a post hoc ergo propter hoc analysis where I aim to seek blame for those who have placed us in this crisis. It is plain and simply nuts to do so at the moment. Another plain and simple fact is that it is crazy to do nothing about this crisis. Along comes Obama with a mandate from the citizens of the United States; this mandate comes from people in all walks of life. Retirees are seeing their lifelong earnings disappear by the bucketful and hard working middle class America are experiencing the disappearance of jobs by the same bucketful. Those of us who take the language of our constitution seriously welcome the opportunity to restore the moral values embodied in this document. At this same time Rush Limbaugh, the recovering drug addict who cleverly dodged criminal charges for falsifying presciptions, speaks to a national meeting of Republicans and flatly states that he hopes Obama fails in his quest to right the ship. His hopes are greeted by the attendees with an enthusiastic ovation.

I spent this last week with eleven guys I respect and admire, golfing friends from Michigan, who invited me to play an annual six golf day event in Orlando, Florida. The first two nights was spent establishing the fact that I was the only "liberal" in the group. One of the guys privately told me that his recently-deceased mother would have hated me because of my liberal views which, by the way, have never been discussed with him. What was palpable, however, was the hatred. I was so stunned by hearing this that I was unable to respond or inquire why this was so. I tried to keep the focus in the two sessions on answering questions from these guys about my views. I also tried to elicit the substance of their views as well as to understand the anger and their reasons for claiming to be conservatives. I came away from this experience with less understanding about the views that generate so much anger and hatred. What I did experience was the usual visceral anger directed at me, and at liberals in general that seems to be the common thread for the last two years on Fox, by Limbaugh and his ditto heads who espouse Rush's system of values. It should be noted that the week ended with a humorous gesture in that the group gave me a gift of an Obama commemorative plate.

I returned home to find an e-mail sent by dear friends from a guy purporting to be a law student which stated
"Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al: We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way. Here is a model separation agreement: Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes. We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them). We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security. We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U. N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill. We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag. Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete."

Is it just me or is this not crazy thinking? It is tempting for me to break down each of these suggestions point by point, but it would be a waste of time. Bottom line is that I am really trying to understand this anger that permeates and percolates through this thinking. Or the anger that was directed at me during my golfing week. At the personal level, these are good, kind and decent people that are saying and doing these things. One of the claimed principles of conservatism is smaller government which this liberal wholeheartedly agrees with. It is notable that during the last few years of Republican control of both the presidency and Congress, the federal government grew more and the country was in greater debt than any other time in history. Yet, the conservatives apparently have short memories and mindless angry objections to the federal government's attempt to correct the results. On this subject of anger, one of the areas which angers all of us is the notion that people and institutions are being rewarded during this stimulus effort whose irresponsible actions brought us to this point. Last night Ben Bernanke was interviewed on 60 Minutes and made the logical and correct assessment of the role of government in dealing with this crisis by comparing it to a home fire caused by the homeowner's carelessness. It is important to respond to the fire at that particular home and prevent damage to adjacent homes or the neighborhood than assign blame or do nothing. The issue of blame can be dealt with later. Limbaugh as the designated spokesman for the Republican party would apparently have us do nothing and would be standing by watching the house burn hoping that the fire would extend to adjacent properties. In my view Bernie Madoff is the poster boy for the demonstration of government doing nothing. The SEC ignored five different warnings about Madoff's actitivities from 2001 until 2005. It is telling that he was indicted only after Obama was elected. Now that makes me angry!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gasp! The Last Breaths

I have never been much of a joiner. Oh sure, I have belonged to organizations, but throughout my life time I have observed that the 'organizational heart of organizations' (honest to God, I came up with this phrase all on my own) always seem to be occupied by persons with three characteristics; a specific agenda, a passion for that specific agenda, and the desire to impose that agenda on everyone else in the organization. The president of our local condominium association in Michigan serves as an excellent example. His agenda is that he wants to be known as the president and to enjoy the special privileges that come with that position. His unit is the first to be painted, shoveled, pruned, etc. You get the idea. He has the passion for that agenda. He moved into our neighborhood after having been the mayor of a local village for several years. He still carries the flashing light on the dashboard of his automobile as one of the perks of that former position. As hard as I try, I cannot fathom a reason for his having this flashing light except for him to say "In my mind, I am better and more deserving that you." The net result is that he imposes his agenda on the rest of us. So long as we are willing to fulfill criteria one and two, he is ready and willing to serve as our president by imposing his agenda on the rest of us, probably because no one else wants the job.

As I mentioned, I am not a joiner. I have never considered myself a Democrat or a Republican because of the aforementioned agenda issues. As an example, I do think that Democrats generally tend to go overboard to provide things for people that I think they should provide for themselves. The agenda can be summarized as "more, more, more." In some instances, of course, assistance to others can be provided, but the Democrats never seem to know when to stop. Labor unions, as another example, did a wonderful thing for workers in America by providing a mechanism to bring some balance into the employee employer relationship. But unions also never know when to stop. Enough is never enough. The best example at the present is the hefty surtax on American automobiles for health care which is a major contributor to the potential demise of the industry. The Republicans, on the other hand, are a series of splinter groups each with their own special passion-filled agendas. The right-to-lifers are the best example. At all levels, this is seemingly the only issue that counts for these people. The NRA bunch is another example. If these splinter groups can find a politician who promises to support their specific agenda, members of these groups give votes and money. The best present example is the NRA's support of denying the District of Columbia's right to place reasonable restrictions on handgun owners inside the District. What might be a sound and logical reason for gun owners in rural areas of the country simply has no place in a urban environment when lunatics are authorized to walk into gun stores and purchase deadly weapons with no purpose other than to kill or maim fellow human beings. I may sound like I am meandering here, so let me get to the point.

The Republican party is in deep trouble as an organization because it cannot be all these things for all people because of the inapplicability of passion-filled agendas to all persons. There is no bend to the organization because the people that have moved to the top have had to pass the litmus test for each of these splinter groups. Example, lower taxers are the solution for all economic problems, all abortions are murder, a gun including assault weapons, in every household. There is a breaking point to each of these agendas, much like the breaking point of the impact of unions on the automobile industry. Because these breaking points have been reached in a variety of the multiple issues which the Republican party has traditionally espoused, leaders sound "incredible" for continuing to mouth the party line. When forced to justify the continued flagging on these issues, they need to search for justifications; Limbaugh fills the vacuum with hate-filled rhetoric rather than substance. It is intellectually lazy and much simpler to demonize those who disagree with you rather than offer solutions of substance. Steele fills the vacuum with simple empty rhetoric. My friends, there you have the Republican party in utter disarray at this moment in history when the need for sharp, critical analysis by a credible minority party has never been stronger. Those who recognize the importance and power of compromise are demonized and threatened. The current construction of the party absolutely prevents a person of substance and integrity from emerging to assume authority. Until credibility is restored, the Republican party is dead in the water. From all indicators, it looks like its a permanent situation unless a uniter, not a divider, appears to reshape its direction. The Republican political party is like a living thing. It will fight to the death to survive. As it is currently constructed, it is taking its last breaths.

Friday, March 6, 2009

These Guys Just Don't Get It

These guys just don't get it. What I am referring to is the recent spending bill which is in the process of being passed (after a short term delay by Republican senators to embarrass the Democrats) and which contains more than 8500 earmarks valued at 7 billion dollars. Obama ran on an agenda which promised to veto any budget containing earmarks and McCain has been consistent in his opposition to them. Obama's rationale in letting these current earmarks slip through the system is that the spending proposal is the last year of Bush's. Nevertheless, the public, including yours truly, is looking for ways to cut spending and tightening belts to deal with the reality that we are all worth a hell of a lot less than we were last year at this time. Someone in Congress should have the guts to stand up and say this is the time to demonstrate a measure of thrift and stop the business as usual attitude that permeates Washington. Harry Reid, I'm talking to you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Hallelujah! Yesterday was a bright day in the history of American law as a majority of Supreme Court justices cut through the malarkey tossed out for years by the pharmaceutical industry and ruled without question that the law permits lawsuits against the industry for failing to adequately warn about dangers to its products. In Wyeth v. Levine, a 6-3 majority ruled that state court cases can proceed against drug manufacturers despite the contention that the FDA must approve the labeling on drug products. For years the drug industry has claimed that lawsuits are preempted by the approval requirement. The FDA, the agency that has brought us the recent Salmonella fiasco based on its ineptness in supervising manufacturers and suppliers of foodstuffs, is notoriously ill-equipped to satisfactorily supervise the 11,000 prescription drugs in the American market place. Episode after episode of corporate charlatanism within the industry itself has demonstrated unequivocally that drug companies are only too willing to sacrifice peoples' lives to make a buck or two (or several billions). When called to task in a civil lawsuit, the standard industry defense is that "the FDA made me do it" in the sense that even though the warning may not have been adequate in a given situation, the FDA would not permit additional language that would have made the product safer. FDA approval of any given drug for years has been the practical equivalent of one obtaining a driver's license. Issuance of the permit by the state does not carry a guarantee that the driver will be a good one. It is important to keep in mind what is at stake here. In Michigan, as an example, it is estimated that there are 28,000 prescription drug-related deaths each year. As an aside, Michigan is the only state also currently to prohibit lawsuits against the industry if the FDA has approved a drug. The rejection of the precise contention as the basis for the Michigan law in Wyeth (which involved the use of a drug in Vermont) will undoubtedly impact the situation in Michigan. Stay tuned on that one.

Also worthy of comment is the impact of Obama's election on the potential selection of Supreme Court justices and the thought processes of those men who have been selected by the likes of Bush and his minions. Justice Alito, writing for himself, Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, added that juries see only the “tragic accident” before them and “are ill-equipped to perform the F.D.A.’s cost-benefit-balancing function.” The agency, by contrast, he wrote, “has the benefit of the long view” and “conveys its warnings with one voice.” I can't tell you how many times I have sat in a courtroom and heard drug company lawyers spout the same garbage. Justice Alito doesn't mention that the drug industry spends more on advertising each year than it does on research. Nor does he mention that the FDA employee who decides what warnings should be placed on a given drug is likely to an employee of that drug's company the next year. The reality of the situation is (keep in mind that I worked for the predecessor corporation of Wyeth for seven years) that the FDA is a straw man in the scenario between drug company, the doctor and the patient. Alito is an elitist who is either hopelessly naive or, more likely, so business-oriented that he cannot see the irony in terming a benefit-safety evaluation (the heart of all drug use) as cost-benefit-balancing (as above). Fruedian? Perhaps not, but revealing it is. Thanks be to Obama and the future of the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cheever and Updyke