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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Topic: World View

The Brits Look at America Again ? Using the law to keep delusions under control, and another stab at why we had to have this war?.

Some of the more interesting commentary often comes from the outside. And the left-of-center Guardian is always amusing.

Wednesday?s edition carries on.

Here?s one. It tangentially refers to the case of Maher Arar discussed in Just Above Sunset here ? December 21, 2003- Bitter Brits. Arar was the Canadian citizen we secretly deported to Syria. We don?t do torture. They do. Torture is not US policy. And we thought he was a bad guy. We picked him up at the Newark airport. But, damn, is seems he wasn?t as bad guy. We had bad information. As this item points out, his crime was that his mother's cousin had joined the Muslim Brotherhood long after Maher moved to Canada. And after ten months of torture and incarceration in a quite tiny cell in Syria, he was allowed to return to his home in Canada. Oops. Now he is suing the US government. He is not happy.

Well, we were just being careful, and a bit overly enthusiastic. Understandable, of course.

The larger issue is covered in this ?

The 800lb gorilla in American foreign policy
Alleged terror suspects are held incommunicado all over the world
Isabel Hilton, The Guardian (UK), Wednesday July 28, 2004

After a nod to the ongoing Democratic Party Convention in Boston, Hilton lays out the issue ? and that is respect for the law.
The delusion that officeholders know better than the law is an occupational hazard of the powerful and one to which those of an imperial cast of mind are especially prone. Checks and balances - the constitutional underpinning of the democratic idea that no one individual can be trusted with unlimited power - are there to keep such delusions under control.

The Abu Ghraib photographs awakened many in the US to the abuses that lie beneath the rhetoric of the global war on terror but the institutions responsible have not taken the message on board. On the day the Congressional report into 9/11 was published, another document was quietly released - a military report that exonerated the high command for the Abu Ghraib abuses. The implications go beyond Abu Ghraib: without a repudiation of the administration's actions, there will be no remedy for the even more sinister treatment of the unknown number of prisoners not captured on camera - those who have been kidnapped and disappeared by US forces across the world.

Under military order No 1, issued by President Bush in November 2001, the president gave himself the right, in defiance of national and international law, to detain indefinitely any non-US citizen anywhere in the world. Many ended up in Guantanamo where at least some of their names were discovered. Others simply vanished. They became in the US euphemism, "ghost prisoners", an unrecorded host held in secret, their detention denied, hidden from the Red Cross, legal or family access barred, their fate in the hands of unaccountable and unnamed US personnel.

When disappearance became state practice across Latin America in the 70s it aroused revulsion in democratic countries where it is a fundamental tenet of legitimate government that no state actor may detain - or kill - another human being without having to answer to the law. Not only has President Bush discarded that principle, he even brags about it. In his state of the union address in February 2003, he said: "More than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Put it this way, they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."

What are we to understand by this? That they have been murdered? That they are rotting in some torture cell in Jordan, or Egypt, or Diego Garcia? And, given the US record on "suspected terrorists" - who have included taxi drivers and their passengers, boys of 13, old men who could hardly walk and migrants whose crime was to overstay a visa - how can we trust a practice that disposes of people first and asks questions afterwards?
Well, I guess the answer is you just have to trust your leaders.

More detail?
Beyond the Iraqi jails, others - including, but not limited to, the dozen or so high-profile al-Qaida detainees captured since the war in Afghanistan - have disappeared into the international ghost prison system, detained in one country and secretly transferred to another in what the official euphemism describes as "extraordinary rendition".

Extraordinary rendition was codified in the Clinton administration. Under Bush it has been hugely expanded. As the US co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, Cofer Black, acknowledged in April 2003, "a large number of terrorist suspects were not able to launch an attack last year because they are in prison. More than 3,000 of them are al-Qaida terrorists and they were arrested in over 100 countries."

Congressman Edward Markey, who last month introduced a bill to make extraordinary rendition illegal in US law, has noted that in the year after 9/11, George Tenet, then director of the CIA, admitted to the rendition of 70 people, describing them all as terrorists.
Markey is a Democrat from Massachusetts (Seventh District) ? first elected in 1976 and probably in Boston at the moment. (A profile here if you are at all interested?)

His bill, to make extraordinary rendition illegal, is going nowhere. No one wants to be seen as soft on these terrorist folks. But Hilton points out he is not a happy camper ? and quote him - "Extraordinary rendition is the 800 pound gorilla in our foreign and military policymaking that nobody wants to talk about. It involves our country out-sourcing interrogations to countries that are known to practice torture, something that erodes America's moral credibility."

Will his fellow Democrats to support him? Probably not. And it wouldn?t matter anyway. Both houses of congress are firmly in control of the president?s party. Why bother?

Is the problem big? Hilton notes this -
Some indication of the scale of the network of detention centres can be gleaned from a recent report by Human Rights First, formerly the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights. In Afghanistan, they say, in addition to the Bagram and Kandahar bases, the US acknowledges 20 other centres. In Iraq, there are three official centres, including Abu Ghraib, and an additional nine US military facilities. In Pakistan, a prison at Kohat, near the Afghan border, is under US control. In Jordan, the al-Jafr prison in the southern desert is used as a CIA detention centre. Human Rights First suspects that prisoners are held on US military ships and in bases such as Diego Garcia. Other prisoners have been "rendered" to Egypt and, as in the Arar case, to Syria, both countries in which torture is well established.

Torture is illegal in the US. Facilitating torture elsewhere is also illegal under the convention against torture, to which the US is a signatory. "I think it's time," said Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch, "that we began to recognise that ghost prisoners are the new disappeared. And disappearance is almost invariably associated with mistreatment and torture."
Yeah, yeah.

Let them complain. We do what we want. And Markey is tilting at windmills.

Markey?s bill won?t come up as an issue at the convention is Boston. It would only give the Republicans one more way to say the Democrats hate America and are soft on terror.

The bill will die.

__

The second item of interest is this ?

The real reasons Bush went to war
WMD was the rationale for invading Iraq. But what was really driving the US were fears over oil and the future of the dollar
John Chapman. The Guardian (UK), Wednesday July 28, 2004

Chapman makes these points -
There were only two credible reasons for invading Iraq: control over oil and preservation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

? In the 70s, the US agreed with Saudi Arabia that OPEC oil should be traded in dollars. American governments have since been able to print dollars to cover huge trading deficits, with the further benefit of those dollars being placed in the US money markets. In return, the US allowed the OPEC countries to operate a production and pricing cartel.
And this is followed by along economic analysis.

And he calls for replacing the dollar with the euro for all oil trading. The euro then becomes the world's reserve currency. This would be a BIG deal.

It would likely devastate the US economy. We?d go third-world ? maybe.

But it?s not like this is news. A month before I launched Just Above Sunset - and many months before the web log As seen from Just Above Sunset first hit the net ? my friends and I were discussing this in ? in April of 2003 ? an analysis from Farrukh Saleem in The News International, Pakistan: Saddam falls, dollar rules

Here?s his opening -
Americans have now guaranteed America's continued global economic domination for another 25 years. The "liberation" of Baghdad has done it all. The American dollar shall continue to reign supreme as the planet's second largest oil reserves will only be available in exchange for dollars printed in the US.

Eleven OPEC-member countries hold 78.7 percent of world proven crude oil reserves. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, UAE and Kuwait are 80 percent of OPEC. As long as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE and Kuwait demand US dollars for their oil some 200 countries and territories are bound to keep US dollar reserves to meet their oil imports. As long as the dollar remains the premier reserve currency America rules.

Saddam Hussein al Takrti tried to play it smart. In 1997, Saddam Hussein recruited three permanent members of the Security Council. Russia's Lukoil was contracted to extract 5 billion barrels of oil from Iraq's West Qurna field. France's TotalFinaElf was to develop Nahr bin Umar and the Majnoon field with 20 billion barrels of oil. The same year, China's National Petroleum Corporation signed a deal to develop the Adhab oilfield and the North Rumailah reservoir.

On 6 November 2000, Saddam played his second ace by instructing the United Nations to convert all his dollars accumulated through the UN 'food-for-oil' program into euros (the euro was launched on 1 January 1999 as an electronic currency and became legal tender on 1 January 2002). In November 2000, Saddam began switching his oil and non-oil international transactions from the dollar to the euro. If major OPEC producers move away from the dollar, the dollar falls in value and America looses the game.

On 31 December 2001, Iran announced that it "sees euro as a way to free itself from the US dollar." On 12 August 2002, Iran's Bank Markazi issued the country's first Eurobond raising Euro 625 million. Iran also converted 50 percent of its foreign exchange reserves to euros. More recently, North Korea has also announced that it will soon shift to euro. Saddam's disease was becoming contagious. After all, Iraq has common borders with Saudi Arabia (814km), Iran (1,458km) and Kuwait (240km). The disease had to be contained.
Hey, we had to take care of this.

Why?
According to OPEC's World Energy Model (OWNM), total world oil demand has been put at 76 million barrels a day. Of the total oil demand, OPEC produces around 27 million to 28 million barrels per day. If all of OPEC's oil was to be traded in dollars then central banks of oil importers need to hoard anywhere between $100 billion to $200 billion at any given point in time. If central banks were obliged to keep high dollar reserves for their essential imports of oil then they might as well trade other goods in dollars as well. Imagine, just one producer of dollars and hundreds who are out piling it. One supplier, a thousand users. Now, that's injecting real value into paper.
For decades Americans have been importing a whole lot more than they exported. It's like having fun at someone else's expense (and a whole lot of fun). In January 2003, American exports amounted to $81.9 billion while imports stood at $123 billion for a monthly deficit of $41.1 billion (if Pakistan runs an annual deficit of a couple of billions the IMF, the World Bank and the ADB begin calling us all sorts of names). America's goods and services deficit averages a colossal $350 billion a year or a billion dollars a day. By 2005, the current account deficit is projected to grow to about $600 billion a year or $1.5 billion a day.

How do Americans manage to have fun at others' expense? In America it's called 'OPM', 'other people's money'. As long as the dollar remains the premier reserve currency hoarders of dollars outside of America are bound to invest their dollars in dollar-denominated financial assets. According to the IMF, banks outside the Untied States have invested $2.5 trillion into the US by buying dollar denominated bonds issued by the US Treasury (where are our own $10 billion worth of reserves if not with the US Treasury?). In effect, America's huge surplus on the capital account covers her massive deficits on the trade account and that's how Americans manage to extend their picnic year in year out.
Got it?

It is pretty obvious that the whole American way of life actually depends on the strength of the dollar. And the secret lies in a strong, unchallenged dollar. And OPEC must conduct its trade in dollars. And the central banks of the world must be forced to keep heaps of dollars. The secret lies in keeping the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

Saddam and North Korea were moving toward the euro. They were starting a trend that could destroy us. And we nipped that in the bud.

So? And we have reason number six for why the war had be launched, and won. Last weekend the British government admitted the stories of the mass graves of those who Saddam killed was, well, over-reported. Try 5000 dead, not 400,000 or more. Oops.
? it does seem the reasons we said we had to got to war, against the advice of the UN and most of our traditional allies ? not to mention most world opinion - were not supported by the facts of the matter.

Of course since then we?ve said the original reason ? that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was an immediate and grave threat to this country ? wasn?t the REAL reason. It was the ties to al-Qaeda ? Iraq was in league with those guys to bring us down. Seems the facts don?t support that either.

We?ll that wasn?t the REAL reason. We went to war to liberate the Iraqi people. But they don?t seem to like our version of liberation and things are a bit difficult on the ground there. They don?t want this kind of liberation?

Well, that wasn?t the REAL reason we went war. It was set up a representative democracy there, with voting and a free press, and open, utterly deregulated markets ? and the nations in the area would then get the idea and toss out their monarchies or theocracies or tribal confederations and jump on the Jeffersonian bandwagon. The Iraq example would transform the region.

Well, that doesn?t seem to be working out as planned ? we?re selling this idea and not many folks are buying it, even with our armed troops in their streets and with many, many local folks in prison being treated, to put it mildly, shabbily, and we won?t tell them why they are in prison because we don?t have to. Guess they just get this democracy thing. They think we?re bullies and fools? Doesn?t matter.

That wasn?t the REAL reason we went to war. It was humanitarian - Saddam was a bad man. Yes he was. Did horrible things to his own people. He did. Things are better with him gone. Probably.

And now this. We were kind of exaggerating. We do that.

As someone else said, Stalin probably killed more people than this on any given Thursday in 1931, and if you amortize the executions Bush signed off on in his few years as the governor of Texas, versus the five thousand executions Saddam pulled off in twenty-five years, well, I wonder who?s ahead? Some wise-ass is probably doing the math right now.

I guess we may need a new reason why we did this war. Number six, if you?re keeping count.
And now reason number six has come up, a reason that actually defines a serious threat, and one that is hard to explain to the man in the street. But it was a real threat.

We took care of it.

Posted by Alan at 21:08 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 27 July 2004 21:15 PDT home

Monday, 26 July 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"
King Lear - Act I, Scene 4


But Chalabi PROMISED this - and Wolfowitz and Perle told us Iraq would, first thing, recognize Israel and establish full diplomatic relations. For many neoconservatives, that was the WHOLE POINT of this war ? to change things. Peace in the Middle East depended upon this ? ?The road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad.? That was what we knew. So it seems we?ve been betrayed by this ex-CIA agent we installed to run Iraq. There is no justice in the world.

Iraqi PM: No Normalized Relations with Israel Before Mideast Settlement
Voice of America (VOA) News - 26 Jul 2004, 16:32 UTC
Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi says his government will not normalize relations with Israel before other Arab states do as part of a Middle East settlement.

Speaking during a visit to Lebanon Monday, Mr. Allawi said Iraq's future relations with Israel will be determined by two issues, "international resolutions and a just and comprehensive peace."

Mr. Allawi also rejected as "totally false" reports that Israeli intelligence agents were operating out of Iraq.

The Iraqi prime minister said his country and its territory will not be a base for any action hostile to any Arab nation.
Richard Perle, for so many years the head of the Defense Advisory Board, the man who told Rumsfeld what to do, the man who for years ran Conrad Black?s Jerusalem Post, the man who was the key advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu and told him to be tough with the Palistineans and kill them all if possible ? well, tonight Perle is probabaly contacting Guido from Detroit to arrange a hit on this man who embarassed him. Iyad Allawi is toast.

___

Background from Just Above Sunset -

On Richard Perle and just how important he is, or was, see November 23, 2003: Why We Fight

On Conrad Black and his press empire and how it fell apart, see December 28, 2003 - Lord Black and his pearl...

Perle and Henry Kissinger and the rest are all involved.

Posted by Alan at 18:53 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
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Topic: Iraq

Also in Boston this week ? Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice
And one of them explains the history of Iraq?


It seems everyone is linking to this ?

Iraq: What Went Wrong?
Stephen Soldz, Z Magazine (Znet), July 26, 2004

Soldz is identified here as a psychoanalyst and a faculty member at the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a member of Roslindale Neighbors for Peace and Justice and founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice, and maintains their Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report web page.

One shouldn?t confuse Soldz with Juan Cole, the professor of history at the University of Michigan, the middle-east expert on Iraq who travels down to Washington to testify before congess now and then, and pops up on the PBS ?News Hour? every month or two. Cole?s site is called Informed Comment.

Cole is an expert on Iraq ? its politics and history ? and fluent in Arabic. Soldz is an expert is how people think ? although he?s not an expert in fixing how people think. He is, after all, a psychoanalyst, not a psychotherapist. Big difference.

The Soldz piece here - A Short History of 21st Century Iraq - isn?t short. If you glance at it you?ll see seventy-two footnotes. Soldz is either thorough, or obsessive. Or the history of Iraq is complex.

Don?t worry. Soldz ends with the basics. In clear prose anyone can understand ? absent of any psychobabble -
To conclude, imagine yourself an Iraqi. You've suffered terribly under a ruthless dictator. The Americans invade your country under false pretenses. They promise democracy but don't organize elections. They appoint exiles to rule you, exiles who spend most of their time out of the country and the rest in a few highly protected areas. The occupiers break into your homes in the middle of the night and arrest your men, who then disappear, with no accountability. They shoot Iraqis at roadblocks and from convoys. They declare war on the second most popular man in the country, announcing his death in advance. They open the economy to US corporations and give them sweetheart contracts, ignoring local business. Then they write hundreds of laws and establish commissions limiting any future government. They build permanent military bases on your soil. Then they turn your country over to a former associate of Saddam Hussein, also a former CIA agent, known for his ruthless brutality. Imagine that was your country. What would you do?
Well, that certainly ?reframes? our heroic efforts to free Iraq.

What we have done, seen from the point of view of the locals, doesn?t look so heroic.

The counterargument, the one that has been made to me, is that the Iraqi populace, even with their sorry national history weighing on their minds, doesn?t see the bigger global picture ? and that would be the Global War or Terror and Evildoers and how they fit in. They have also seemly forgotten how bad a fellow Saddam Hussein was to them, and should thus be, as Wolfowitz and Chalabi and all the rest said should happen, tossing flowers at us and welcoming us with open arms. But they toss bombs. And those arms aren?t exactly open.

Wolfowitz and Chalabi and all the rest said what one would logically expect is scenes reminiscent of the Liberation of Paris, but in Baghdad, with the flowers and cheering in the streets. Now they don?t know just what is wrong with these people.

Soldz says, given our actions, one should not be surprised that we get something more like Algiers in 1954, not Paris in 1944. And there is nothing at all wrong with these people.

So, who is a better judge of what is logical to expect from human nature ? a cabal of neoconservative theorists who have been thinking about this stuff since their days at the University of Chicago and their years at the Rand Corporation ? or a psychoanalyst musing in his office in Boston, far from the corridors of power in Washington?

And the larger question hangs in the air ? one that has been around long before we actually rolled into Baghdad. Should we care at all what these people think? Are there not more important issues? Don?t we have to do? well, what we have to do?

Maybe so. But expecting folks to like us for it was a bit of a miscalculation.

Posted by Alan at 13:48 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Photos

Heads Up!

The new issue of Just Above Sunset - Volume 2, Number 29 ? went online yesterday.

Do check it out.

Five new hot news topics and four follow-ups to previous issues raised (with reader comments). Bob Patterson returns - on Hemingway in Paris and as The Book Wrangler - and Ric Erickson has the hot crime news from Paris.

Bonus for writers - reports on the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest AND the Faux Faulkner Contest (amazing stuff!) And a bonus link list for political junkies!

Three photography sections - Venice Beach to the Sunset Strip!

Here?s a shot from Venice Beach?



Posted by Alan at 09:09 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 26 July 2004 09:11 PDT home

Sunday, 25 July 2004

Topic: The Law

Lawsuits Destroying American Business

This is just too cool...

In a Shift, Bush Moves to Block Medical Suits
Robert Pear, The New York Times, Published: July 25, 2004

Here's the deal -
The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In court papers, the Justice Department acknowledges that this position reflects a "change in governmental policy," and it has persuaded some judges to accept its arguments, most recently scoring a victory in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia.

Allowing consumers to sue manufacturers would "undermine public health" and interfere with federal regulation of drugs and devices, by encouraging "lay judges and juries to second-guess" experts at the F.D.A., the government said in siding with the maker of a heart pump sued by the widow of a Pennsylvania man. Moreover, it said, if such lawsuits succeed, some good products may be removed from the market, depriving patients of beneficial treatments.
You see the logic. If the government says it works - and the "it" might be a medical device or medication - then it does. And you cannot complain. If you do you just hurt other folks. So stop it, damn it!

Got it?

Pear notes that at a 2002 legal symposium the Bush administration outlined plans for "FDA involvement in product liability lawsuits," and it has been "methodically pursuing" that strategy. This is all part of tort reform - stopping personal liability attorneys like John Edwards from destroying healthcare as we know it. Bush doesn't like trial lawyers - personal liability attorneys - because, he says, they impose a huge burden on the economy and drive up health costs.

Pear quotes Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, a Democrat (of course) from New York, saying the administration had "taken the FDA in a radical new direction, seeking to protect drug companies instead of the public."

Really? What would make you think Bush the guys want to protect drug companies? Would it be the new Medicare Prescription Drug Program that expressly forbids the government from negotiating bulk discounts on drug price, and, in fact, expressly forbids the government from seeking any discount of any kind from the pharmaceutical companies - and expressly forbids purchases from any place like (gasp!) Canada? It might be that. Oh, and as you recall, that Medicare Prescription Drug package passed narrowly when the White House assured Congress it would cost four hundred billion dollars over ten years - and threatened to fire the fellow who was asked by congress how much it would really cost and was going to tell them. Five hundred and thirty-five billion was the actual projected cost. They knew. And the fellow kept his mouth shut. Ah, just a little fib and a little intimidation.

What about this Pennsylvania case? That was last Tuesday. The appeals court threw out a lawsuit filed by one Barbara Horn, who said her husband had died because of defects in the design and manufacture of his heart pump. A crybaby, of course. The Bush folks argued that "federal law barred such claims because the device had been produced according to federal specifications." Yes, in its briefs the administration conceded that "the views stated here differ from the views that the government advanced in 1997," in the United States Supreme Court.

But times change. Then the Bush team argued the FDA sets the minimum standard, and now they argue that the FDA's approval of a device "sets a ceiling as well as a floor."

Huh?

The Bush folks are holding that no one now has a right to use - and this benefits consumers.

Why? Because the threat of lawsuits, "can harm the public health" by encouraging manufacturers to withdraw products from the market or to issue new warnings that overemphasize the risks and lead to "underutilization of beneficial treatments."

I suppose. The federal appeals court in the Pennsylvania case said the FDA was entitled to "great deference" because the agency was "uniquely qualified" to determine when federal law should take precedence. And the Bush folks said well, gee, all they were trying to do... well it wasn't that they wanted to shield drug companies. They wanted "to vindicate the federal government's authority to regulate drug products."

They did.

Pear trots out some cases of interest in this matter, using a popular feel-good drug as an example of where this is leading -
Kimberley K. Witczakof Minneapolis said her husband, Timothy, 37, committed suicide last year after taking the antidepressant drug Zoloft for five weeks. "I do not believe in frivolous lawsuits," Ms. Witczak said, "but it's ridiculous that the government is filing legal briefs on the side of drug companies when it's supposed to be protecting the public. My husband would be alive today if he had received adequate warnings about the risk of self-harm." Ms. Witczak sued Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, in May. The government has not intervened in her case.

Thomas W. Woodward of North Wales, Pa., whose 17-year-old daughter committed suicide last year after taking Zoloft for a week, said, "I've been sickened to see the government taking the side of pharmaceutical companies in court." Mr. Woodward has not filed a suit.

Mr. Hinchey said that F.D.A. lawyers, led by the agency's chief counsel, Daniel E. Troy, had "repeatedly interceded in civil suits on behalf of drug and medical device manufacturers."

Ms. Witczak, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Hinchey said Mr. Troy had a potential conflict of interest because Pfizer was one of his clients when he was a lawyer in private practice.
What? The FDA Chief Counsel used to work for Pfizer? Imagine that.

More fox-guarding-the-hen-house detail?
The administration has also joined Pfizer in opposing a lawsuit filed by Flora Motus, a California woman who said her husband had committed suicide after taking Zoloft. Mrs. Motus argued that Pfizer had not adequately warned doctors and patients that the drug could increase the risk of suicide.

But the Bush administration said that when federal officials approved Zoloft, they saw no need for such a warning, and that a false or unnecessary warning could "deprive patients of beneficial, possibly life-saving treatment." Susan B. Bro, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said this week, "There is no scientific evidence of a causal relationship between Zoloft and suicide."

Likewise, the administration intervened in a California case to help GlaxoSmithKline fend off consumer demands for restrictions on the advertising of Paxil. The government said the restrictions "would overly deter use of a life-improving medication."

Patients had persuaded a federal district judge to order a halt to television advertisements that declared, "Paxil is non-habit forming." The administration joined the manufacturer in challenging that order. ...
Oh well. Most people know better. The government cannot protect all fools.

But seriously, let's put this in terms of personal responsibility.

It is the job of government to assure the economic health of the country. That means it is the job of the government to make sure businesses flourish and the economy grows. Prosperity benefits everyone. If you hurt a business, any business, you hurt us all. And that's what claims of defective products actually do - they hurt the economy.

It is your personal responsibility to keep yourself healthy. You may take a particular drug or submit to some medical procedure, or have some sort of medical device implanted - on the urgent order of your doctor - but that's YOUR choice. YOU decided to do that. If you are harmed by that drug, procedure or device - if it is truly defective - well, it's your own damned fault. You should have known better. Caveat Emptor. Don't hurt us all by filing some frivolous lawsuit claiming it was defective, even if it was. The government isn't your Mommy. And YOU were the one who trusted your doctor. Your problem, you fool.

Or at least that's the conservative, Republican view of the matter.

And the counterargument is...?

Posted by Alan at 18:51 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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