Monthly Archives: January 2015

Obama Tells House Dems to “Get Informed” on the TPP, But He’s the One Restricting Access to the Text

The Daily Kos has the article Obama Tells House Dems to “Get Informed” on the TPP, But He’s the One Restricting Access to the TextThe Daily Kos is commenting on  The Hill article Obama to Dems: ‘Get informed, not by reading the Huffington Post’.

PHILADELPHIA – President Obama on Thursday asked wary House Democrats to hold their fire, while the administration negotiates several trade deals opposed by scores of liberal lawmakers.

“Keep your powder a little dry,” he told the Democrats assembled here for an annual retreat, according to a source in the closed-door session.
Top House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have drawn an additional line in the sand, saying they won’t support any new trade deal before the administration can demonstrate that the result will be higher wages for American workers.

“The impact on the paychecks of America’s workers is the standard that we will use,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday.

Fielding private questions from the Democrats after a fiery speech before the caucus Thursday, Obama tried to defuse those concerns, saying his administration will make a “substantive case” for the new pacts.

Congress Needs to get Obama to listen. They just need to tell Obama that they can’t both be right about TPP, and Congress is pretty darn sure that Obama is the one that is wrong.

If corporations are allowed to write the trade pact and Congress isn’t allowed to know what is in it even for years after it is passed, then it is entirely obvious that the President has something to hide.

Maybe the Democrats need to tell Obama that if he refuses to listen, then they will join the Republicans in the efforts to impeach him.  If this does not get his attention, then he does need to be impeached and convicted and run out of office.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Introduces Medical Innovation Act

Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a post on her Facebook page where you can read the comments, add your own comment, and vote in favor of her idea. She has the following video in her post.

Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Medical Innovation Act on the Senate floor on January 29, 2015. The legislation would require large pharmaceutical companies that break the law and settle with the federal government to reinvest a small percentage of their profits into the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

To be against this bill you have to be for illegal behavior on the part of drug companies. How many Senators want to come out publicly for more waste, fraud, and abuse?

Even if these bills of Warren’s haven’t got much chance in the Republican Congress, it is about time we learned how to frame issues so that the Republicans are at least embarrassed when they refuse to act on them. Even better, Facebook gives you a way to register your approval of the proposal. If you can’t even bother to vote on Facebook, let alone at election time, when are you ever going to face your civic responsibilities?

Bill Black appears on The Real News Network discussing Greece

New Economic Perspectives has the article Bill Black appears on The Real News Network discussing Greece which features The Real News Network video. On YouTube, the video has the explanation:

Professor William Black says the people of Greece won in spite of mainstream medias’ efforts to bury their plight and force them into a Great Depression

From the YouTube post, it is not clear if The Real News Network wants to discourage me from making these posts.  I have been avoiding posting such items recently because of these admonitions.  However, I think this one is too important to pass up.

I feel that this video is important because it is a good antidote to the fiction that has been printed as news in so-called reliable media such as The New York Times. The so-called experts that The New York Times uses to write its stories are just not qualified to offer their opinions on the subject as if it were expert testimony.

Justice Stevens Pens Six Amendments to Tune-Up Constitution

The Daily Kos has the article Justice Stevens Pens Six Amendments to Tune-Up Constitution. The author presents and comments on the amendments that Justice Stevens wrote in his book.  All the amendments are good, but I’ll quote just one.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia, shall not be infringed.

In modern parlance that may be called the “What part of well regulated militia did you dummies not get, or did the comma confuse you?” amendment.

Bernie Sanders For President

I have created an image for use as a bumper sticker or as a Facebook cover photo. Click on the thumbnail to get to the full size image. I describe the restrictions on its usage below. (There are none as far as I am concerned.)

Bernie Sanders For President

The headshot comes from Bernie Sanders’ About Page on his Senate web site. I presume he wouldn’t mind my using this picture for this purpose. All the rest, I created with various tools such as Inkscape, MS Paint, and Adobe Photoshop. In other words, I have placed no copyright, nor creative commons restrictions on this image. Feel free to use it, hopefully to promote Bernie Sanders’ run for President. He hasn’t decided yet whether or not he will attempt the run, but if he sees enough of these, perhaps it will help him make the decision.

DFA [almost] Live: Bernie Sanders issues call to action

Democracy For America arranged a conference call with Bernie Sanders a few days ago. I participated in DFA Live: Bernie Sanders issues call to action. Below is an excerpt from an email I just received from DFA.

“Will you run for president in 2016?”

That’s the first question that Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain asked Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday night’s DFA Live call — the question that everyone is wondering about. And here’s what Sen. Sanders said:

“I’m giving it very serious consideration, but for a decision of that magnitude and what it means to one’s family and friends, one has to make sure you can do it well. We are reaching out all over the country to determine if we can put together a grassroots organization.

If we do run, we will be taking on the billionaire class and all the big money interests, including the Koch brothers. We have to determine what kind of support is out there and if there is a willingness to mix it up with the big money interests.”

More than 3,200 DFA members signed up for the call and asked some very incisive and compelling questions: How will we repeal Citizens United? How can we expand Social Security and raise the minimum wage? What will it take to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal? And so on.

This is the very statement that made me realize that we might be better of spending our draft Elizabeth Warren efforts on Bernie Sanders instead.

Listen to the whole session below:

Here is a candidate who seems able to benefit from our efforts. Our efforts to draft someone who has never expressed interest in running for President seems less useful when their is an excellent alternative. If I didn’t think that Bernie Sanders was an excellent alternative, I would keep up my efforts to draft Elizabeth Warren.

If you want to contribute, here is the link to ActBlue contribution page associated with DFA and the conference call.

Anti-Citizens United Activists Disrupt Supreme Court 1

The Young Turks has posted YouTube video EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Citizens United Activists Disrupt Supreme Court.

“Seven protesters accused of disrupting U.S. Supreme Court proceedings and another man who allegedly filmed the disruption are facing misdemeanor charges.

This could be a growing trend. If the Supreme Court is where our democracy goes to die, we ought to be able to protest its execution.

The Source For The 11 Out Of 12 Deflated Footballs Factoid

I finally found the source for the story about the 11 out of 12 footballs being under-inflated. The Bleacher Report has the story NFL Reportedly Finds 11 of 12 Balls Used in AFC Championship Were Under-Inflated.  Oops, I just noted the word “reportedly” in the headline.

NFL Communications (full version here) released the league’s statement on the situation:

Well the full statement is actually here. The report is what The Bleacher Report posted, but it says nothing about how many balls were measured as under-inflated.

While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated.

So the operative, definitive statement is still

The NFL has launched an investigation into the amount of air in the balls provided by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. On Jan. 20, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots were under-inflated by two-to-three pounds each.

If you follow the above link to Moretenen’s Twitter page, you will find the statement:

NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources.

All roads lead back to Chris Mortensen. What if his balls get deflated?

I wish someone would publish a photocopy of the supposed letter that The Boston Globe said that it was shown. What could they possibly be hiding?

Deflate Gate

I am not a die-hard sports fan.  I only occasionally watch a Patriot’s football game.  So it is highly unusual for me to decide to even comment on this affair that is all the rage in the news.  I don’t claim to know who is and who isn’t telling the truth.  I could easily be convinced of either side being untruthful if any news medium decided to report all the facts.

What strikes me as particularly galling about the reports is an example of the problem in The Boston Globe article Bill Belichick and Tom Brady provide no insight on Deflategate by Christopher L. Gasper on January 23, 2015 – today’s newspaper.  On the front page of the sports section of the printed version of the paper, the headline was Belicheck to Brady: Incomplete Pass.

The Patriots were informed by the National Football League on Monday that their game balls were not properly inflated at halftime of the AFC title game. League office personnel and an alternate official inspected each ball twice, using different pressure gauges. ESPN has reported 11 of the 12 tested balls were two PSI below the specified limit.

Every story about the 11 footballs that I read refers to reports by ESPN.  I have yet to see the name or names of the people who actually did the measuring and reporting.  I don’t take ESPN’s word for anything any more than I would take Tom Brady’s or Bill Beklichick’s word.  You’d think that people giving these details would have actual names, and other media could speak directly to them to verify ESPN’s report of what they supposedly said.

Ironically, as I searched the Globe’s web site for the article that I had read in the paper as Belicheck to Brady: Incomplete Pass, I stumbled across a different article before I found the original article that was renamed on the web site as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady provide no insight on Deflategate.

This other article was named Patriots’ spying opened the gate, also by Christopher L. Gasper, and written on January 21, 2015,  two days before the article that started my investigation.

According to an NFL letter about the investigation that was shared with the Globe, the Patriots were informed that initial findings indicated the game balls New England used did not meet specifications (inflation to 12½ to 13½ pounds per square inch). The league inspected the Patriots’ game balls at halftime. It studied each ball twice using different pressure gauges. It found footballs that were not properly inflated.

Does the person sharing the letter with The Boston Globe have a name? So if the author Christopher L. Gasper had knowledge of an NFL letter when he wrote on January 21, why did he not mention this letter instead of an ESPN report when he wrote about the subject on January 23?  Did he actually see an official letter from the NFL, or did he see a report of the letter on ESPN or a copy supplied by ESPN?

Casper may think that Patriot’s spying incident opened the gate for questioning the veracity of the Patriots, but for me the past history of lazy journalism opened the gate for questioning the veracity of the press,  One example of what I call lazy journalism is for one journalist to quote as fact what was reported by another journalist without doing any investigation of her or his own. That investigation would include finding out who are the original sources, and conducting your own interview with those original sources.  Then the enterprising journalist could use names in the article written to explain who said what.

I am still open to the possibility that this story could go either way when the facts come out, if the facts ever do come out.  I am not sure that my source for reading about the facts will ever be The Boston Globe or any other corporate source for so-called news.

I understand why some news stories quote anonymous sources. Often a source is afraid of someone finding out who spilled the beans. Many important stories would never get told if a reporter could not guarantee the confidentiality of a source. However, anonymous sources open the reporter to the risk of publishing a lie.

The solution to the problem of anonymous sources is simple. Any promise of confidentiality must be predicated on the source telling the truth. The reporter should advise the source that if it turns out that source knew that the information was untrue, the sources’ name will be published as the teller of the false information. If the source cannot agree to this, then the reporter should not report anything the source has said based solely on what the source said. Anything of what the uncooperative source said should only be reported if another, more cooperative source can be found for that information.

The Medical Innovation Act

I got this great email from Elizabeth Warren.

Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts


Over the past 50 years, America’s medical innovations have transformed the health of billions of people around the world.

One way we’ve done that? Blockbuster drugs. Today, about 100 different drugs are used by so many people that each brings in more than a billion dollars a year in revenue. Just 10 drug companies generate more than $100 billion in sales for drugs that treat high cholesterol, diabetes, HIV, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia. Those drugs do a huge amount of good, but they also produce huge profits; over the past 20 years, profits for S&P 500 companies have been in the 5-10% range, while profits for the blockbuster drug companies have been in the 18-24% range.

Those very valuable blockbuster drugs don’t just appear overnight as if by magic. They are the end result of generations of huge taxpayer investments, principally through the National Institutes of Health. Drug companies make great contributions, but so do taxpayers. Put simply, the astonishing scientific and financial successes of the pharmaceutical industry have been built on a foundation of taxpayer investment.

With revolutionary new treatments and a giant drug industry built on blockbuster drugs, this should be a moment of great triumph. But in recent years, the American engine of medical innovation has begun to sputter. Why?

  • Government funding. Congress used to work in a non-political, bipartisan way to expand NIH funding. But instead of increasing the NIH budget at the pace of potential scientific innovation, budget cuts, sequestration, and other pressures mean that the NIH budget over the last decade hasn’t even kept up with the pace of inflation.
  • Drug companies. Over the last ten years, some of our wealthiest drug companies – the ones with those blockbuster billion-dollar drugs – have found another way to boost profits. In addition to selling life-changing cures, some of these companies are increasingly making money by skirting the law. They’ve been caught defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, withholding critical safety information about their drugs, marketing their drugs for uses they aren’t approved for, and giving doctors kickbacks for writing prescriptions for their drugs.

Between these two problems – shrinking government support for research and increased rule-breaking by companies that have blockbuster drugs – lies a solution: requiring those big-time drug companies that break the law to put more money into funding medical research.

That’s why I’m introducing the Medical Innovation Act to substantially increase federal funding for the National Institutes of Health.

Here’s how it works: Just like the big banks, when blockbuster drug companies break the law, they nearly always enter settlement agreements with the government, rather than going to trial.

Under the proposed Medical Innovation Act, those blockbuster drug companies that wanted to settle legal violations would be required to reinvest a relatively small portion of the profits they have generated as a result of federal research investments right back into the NIH.

This isn’t a tax. This is simply a condition of settling to avoid a trial in a major case of wrongdoing. If a company never breaks the law, it will never pay the fee. If an accused company goes to trial instead of settling out of court, it will never pay the fee – even if it loses the case. It’s like a swear jar – break the law and pay something forward that benefits everyone.

If this policy had been in place, over the past five years, NIH would have had about six billion more dollars every year to fund thousands of new grants to scientists and universities and research centers around the country. That’s nearly a 20% increase in NIH funding.

The Medical Innovation Act would substantially increase federal support for medical research without increasing the deficit or cutting other critical programs. Sign up now to show your support.

With too many in Congress willing to sit by and watch the NIH starve – and too many in pharmaceutical industry willing to make a quick buck by breaking the law, it’s easy for cynicism to set in – and it’s easy for us to forget the commitments that we’ve all made to each other.

Today we are choking off support for projects that could lead to the next major breakthrough against cancer, heart disease, Ebola, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, or other deadly conditions. We’re starving projects that could transform the lives of our children on the autism spectrum. We’re suffocating breakthrough ideas that would give new hope to those with ALS.

That’s not who we are. We are not a nation that abandons the sick. We are nation of people who invest in each other – because we know that when we work together, we all do better. We’ve done it for generations – and for generations, we have led the world in medical innovation.

It is time to renew our commitment – our commitment to our children, to our parents and to ourselves. I hope you’ll stand with me in this fight.

Thank you for being a part of this,


All content © 2014 Elizabeth for MA, All Rights Reserved
PO Box 290568
Boston, MA 02129
Paid for by Elizabeth for MA

January 23, 2015 – 10:20 AM EST.

About half an hour ago, Elizabeth Warren made a post of her Facebook page about this. Her post has a link to the item My new bill: A swear jar for the drug companies on her web site. The post on her web site is essentially the email that I quoted above.