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Quote of the Day: “This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States”

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Aren’t generic drugs great? Once a drug patent expires, generic manufacturers are allowed to copy the drug and sell it for far less than the brand name. Since the production cost of most generics is just a few pennies per pill and competition is fierce, this is a great deal for consumers.

More accurately, it would be a great deal if all the generic manufacturers weren’t conspiring with each other to fix the price of generic medications. However, if the US government is to be believed, executives at these companies meet regularly to split up the market like gentlemen and keep prices nice and high. Naturally they’ve developed their own special patois:

The “sandbox,” according to investigators, was the market for generic prescription drugs, where everyone was expected to play nice. “Fair share” described dividing up the sales pie to ensure that each company reaped continued profits. “Trashing the market” was used when a competitor ignored these unwritten rules and sold drugs for less than agreed-upon prices.

….What started as an antitrust lawsuit brought by states over just two drugs in 2016 has exploded into an investigation of alleged price-fixing involving at least 16 companies and 300 drugs….“This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,” Nielsen said. He cited the volume of drugs in the schemes, that they took place on American soil and the “total number of companies involved, and individuals.”

….In just one instance of extraordinary cost spikes, the price of a decades-old drug to ease asthma symptoms, albuterol, sold by generic manufacturers Mylan and Sun, jumped more than 3,400 percent, from 13 cents a tablet to more than $4.70. The example is documented in a lawsuit brought against the generic industry by grocery chains including Kroger.

….The alleged collusion transformed a cutthroat, highly competitive business into one where sudden, coordinated price spikes on identical generic drugs became almost routine. Competing executives were so chummy they had an alphabetical rotation for who picked up the tab at their regular dinners, according to a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case remains under investigation.

This is why we have antitrust rules. I sure wish we used them more often, not just in open-and-shut cases like this.

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dgallagher60
369 days ago
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Mom
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Peak Trumpcare Sad Trombone

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Here’s how ridiculous the Trumpcare 3.0 situation has gotten. A few minutes ago, Rep. Rodney Davis was on MSNBC telling plain falsehoods, lying about Obamacare and also – in a weird mix of plaintiveness and disingenuousness – complaining that the Democrats in the House weren’t coming forward to help them repeal Obamacare.

Beyond the disingenuousness, he actually seemed slightly sad because their situation is so hapless and helpless.

Here’s the video …

Here’s the transcript …

I’ve been an advocate because we got to look at the facts here, Craig. The facts are 29 million Americans right now under the Affordable Care Act still do not have insurance even though the law requires them to. Another 31 million, Craig, have insurance that they can’t afford to use. Premiums sky rocketing in the individual marketplace. If we don’t do something, then we’re abdicating our responsible as policymakers and I wish the Democrats who gave us this bill, I wish they would come to the table and offer their suggestions for this fix they keep talking about but we don’t see.

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dgallagher60
956 days ago
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Donald Trump's Position on Abortion Changes Yet Again

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So what is Donald Trump's position on abortion? Let us count the ways:

Wednesday:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

A few hours later:

Campaign statement: This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination.

A few hours after that:

Campaign statement: The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman....My position has not changed.

Thursday:

"It could be that I misspoke but this was a long, convoluted subject....This was a long discussion....which frankly they don’t run on television because it’s too long."

(Ed note: This is a lie. Trump's answer was televised in its entirety.)

Friday morning:

"A question was asked to me. And it was asked in a very hypothetical. And it was said, 'Illegal, illegal'....But I was asked as a hypothetical, hypothetically. The "The laws are set now on abortion and that's the way they're going to remain until they're changed....I think it would've been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set....And I think we have to leave it that way."

A few hours later:

Campaign statement: Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now—until he is President. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.

The best part of all this is that when the Trump campaign issues a statement cleaning up after their boss, they always insist that nothing has changed.

No, wait: the best part is when John Dickerson asked Trump if he thought abortion was murder and Trump refused to answer. "I do have my opinions on it. I just don't think it's an appropriate forum." Really? Face the Nation is not an appropriate forum for discussing one of the key political issues of our time? What is?

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dgallagher60
1351 days ago
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Please No, wait: the best part is when John Dickerson asked Trump if he thought abortion was murder and Trump refused to answer. "I do have my opinions on it. I just don't think it's an appropriate forum." Really? Face the Nation is not an appropriate forum for discussing one of the key political issues of our time? What is?'

Quiet rooms, of course.
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Because We Can

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carrier-performance-17

If you’ll forgive me for honing in on Erik’s racket, Dayen notes that Carrier is shutting down its Indiana plant even though it’s part of a profitable section of a profitable company:

A look at United Technologies’ annual report reveals even more good news: Commercial and industrial products, Carrier’s category, make up over half of UTC’s $56 billion in net sales. Climate, Controls & Security had 3 percent growth in 2015, the highest in the company; it was the only division to increase its profit margin year-over-year. “Organic sales growth at UTC Climate, Controls & Security was driven by the U.S. commercial and residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and transport refrigeration businesses,” according to page 14 of the report. In other words, air conditioners – what the workers are making in Indianapolis – drove the growth of the best-performing facet of United Technologies’ business.
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So why would a profitable, growing business need to ship jobs to Mexico? Because their shareholders demanded it.

He also makes a very important point about how this isn’t just about trade deals, but about changing norms:

Things like free trade and opening the doors to competition with China are the tools by which shareholders are satiated with hefty corporate profits. But the cause is the philosophy of shareholder value, the idea that a corporation exists solely for the benefit of its investors. While this may sound intuitive, that’s just because it’s been drummed into our heads by every business page and CNBC shouting head for decades. The thing is, shareholder value is actually a relatively new phenomenon.

It’s not that trade deals are unimportant. But, in particular, tariffs have limited value to stop capital movement when the labor costs are so much cheaper. (And, of course, a high tariff regime would also limit the purchasing power of workers.) There’s a broader problem in that corporate norms increasingly place little or no weight on the interests of workers or communities or anything but shareholder value. I don’t have a good solution for how to rearrange the incentives (although steeper progressive taxation would be a good start), but it’s a serious problem.

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dgallagher60
1361 days ago
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How about punishing Carrier and not buying their products?
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Your least surprising statistic of the week

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Your least surprising statistic of the week

by digby


















Gosh it sure does seem like Trump's supporters are all drawn to him for a specific reason. I wonder what it is?



Jamelle Bouie has an important insight into this issue in this excellent piece at Slate:
For some on the left, Trump is the result of decades of divisive politics—the inevitable outcome of a Republican political strategy that stoked white racial resentment to win elections. “Trump’s campaign can best be understood not as an outlier but as the latest manifestation of the Southern Strategy, which the Republican Party has deployed for a half-century to shore up its support in the old Confederate states by appeals to racial resentment and white solidarity,” writes Jeet Heer in the New Republic.

For some on the right, Trump is the grassroots response to Republican elites who have abandoned their working-class voters to the whims of laissez-faire capitalism. “[T]he Republican Party, and the conservative movement, offer next to nothing to working-class Trump supporters,” writes Michael Brendan Dougherty in the Week. “There are no obvious conservative policies that will generate the sort of growth needed to raise the standard of living for these working-class voters.”
He goes on to point out that both of these issues have been present for decades and asks a more salient question: why now?

What caused this fire to burn out of control? The answer, I think, is Barack Obama.

There have been some conservative writers who have tried to hang Trump’s success on the current president, pointing to his putatively extreme positions. But in most respects, Obama is a conventional politician—well within the center-left of the Democratic Party. Or at least, he’s governed in that mode, with an agenda that sits safely in the mainstream. Laws like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act weren’t impositions from the far left; they were built out of proposals from the right and left, passed by a majority of Congress that was elected to pursue solutions on health care and the economy. Barack Obama is many things, but conservative rhetoric aside, he’s no radical.

We can’t say the same for Obama as a political symbol, however. In a nation shaped and defined by a rigid racial hierarchy, his election was very much a radical event, in which a man from one of the nation’s lowest castes ascended to the summit of its political landscape. And he did so with heavy support from minorities: Asian Americans and Latinos were an important part of Obama’s coalition, and black Americans turned out at their highest numbers ever in 2008.

For millions of white Americans who weren’t attuned to growing diversity and cosmopolitanism, however, Obama was a shock, a figure who appeared out of nowhere to dominate the country’s political life. And with talk of an “emerging Democratic majority,” he presaged a time when their votes—which had elected George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan—would no longer matter. More than simply “change,” Obama’s election felt like an inversion. When coupled with the broad decline in incomes and living standards caused by the Great Recession, it seemed to signal the end of a hierarchy that had always placed white Americans at the top, delivering status even when it couldn’t give material benefits.

In a 2011 paper, Robin DiAngelo—a professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University—described a phenomenon she called “white fragility.” “White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves,” she writes. “These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”

DiAngelo was describing private behavior in the context of workplace diversity training, but her diagnosis holds insight for politics. You can read the rise of Obama and the projected future of a majority nonwhite America as a racial stress that produced a reaction from a number of white Americans—and forced them into a defensive crouch. You can see the maneuvering DiAngelo describes in the persistent belief that Obama is a Muslim—as recently as last fall, 29 percent of Americans held this view, against all evidence. It is a way to mark Obama as “other” in a society where explicit anti-black prejudice is publicly unacceptable. Consistent with this racialized fear and anxiety is the degree to which white Americans now see “reverse discrimination” as a serious problem in national life. For its American Values Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute asks respondents whether “discrimination against whites is a significant problem.” In last year’s survey, 43 percent of Americans—including 60 percent of working-class whites—said discrimination against whites had become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

The one-two punch of the great recession combined with the first black president was just too much for these fragile folks. It's the combination that knocked them for a loop. But I'm snot convinced that simply "helping" them economically will ever calm them.

I think Bouie is on to something important here. We know that the hostility to Obama is visceral and somewhat overwhelming for these folks. The dystopian America these people inhabit isn't just a place where they have lost jobs and lost their grip on the middle class. They have, but it's been going on for a long time and they had no problem voting for orthodox conservatives who dogwhistled to their prejudices while feeding them nonsense about corporate tax rates and "tort reform" as if that had any meaning to their lives. No, the straw that broke the camel's back was that as the shit hit the fan in 2007, this country voted in a black president as if to spite them. The signature achievement they despise is even named after him. And here comes Trump, timed perfectly, the birther in chief who speaks to their fear and loathing in vivid, primal terms.

Bouie goes to great lengths to acknowledge the legitimacy of these voters' economic grievances. In some places they are quite severe. And with all that comes many of the "pathologies" that many white used to believe were only present in minority communities. (They were always present in white communities as well, but the belief that racial superiority prevented such things from becoming widespread is no longer operative. The heroin epidemic is a good example of how such things are inescapable these days in poor white communities.

And he also acknowledges the argument some have made that Obama was too liberal in his policies, creating a backlash that wouldn't have happened if he'd have been more moderate. (I would argue that the inability of them to take Obama up on his offer to cut spending in exchange for taxes on the rich rebuts that contention.)

Bouie says:

But this analysis ignores the extent to which Trump reflects specific choices by Republican and conservative elites. From indulging anti-Obama conspiracy theories to attacking him as an enemy of the United States, conservatives chose to nurture resentment and anxiety and distill it into something potent. You can draw a direct line to the rise of Trump from the racial hysteria of talk radio—where figures like Rush Limbaugh, a Trump booster, warned that Obama would turn the world upside down. “The days of [minorities] not having any power are over and they are angry,” said Limbaugh to his audience. “They want to use their power as a means of retribution.”

It also ignores the degree to which these voters likely would have found this hypothetical partnership inimical to their conception of their interests. Even if Obama had reached out, they would be mere partners in a larger coalition, when what they want is to be its driving force. Trump speaks to that desire, signaling—in ways subtle and otherwise—that he plans to “Make America Great Again” by making the white American worker the center of his universe.

He's promised to deport millions of Hispanics and some number of Syrian refugees who are already here, ban Muslims from entering the country and return to some old-fashioned notion of "law and order" which is very evident in his defense of violence against Black lives Matter protesters and others.

I have said it more directly than Bouie does: He promises to make America white again.

Bouie doesn't think Trumpism, if not Trump himself, is going away any time soon. I think he's right.

Read the whole essay here.  I only touched the surface.

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dgallagher60
1371 days ago
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Please The days of [minorities] not having any power are over and they are angry,” said Limbaugh to his audience. “They want to use their power as a means of retribution.”

I think the other piece here is age - I guess you can be in the world and hold these delusional views but it is much easier if all you know of terra firma is from Fox News.
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McCain schools Trump #notthatTrumpcares

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McCain schools Trump

by digby






















John Amato caught that phony soldier ("the kind who gets captured") John McCain on The Five this morning:




Sen. John McCain joined the ladies of Fox News' Outnumbered TV show this morning and offered up a devastating rebuke of Trump's call for legalizing waterboarding and much worse, and former Bush officials who said we got actionable intelligence from torture.

Do we want a President who will violate the law?”

Andrea Tantaros, played the torture loving Conservative, viewed anyone against torture as the "Stephanopoulos view," constantly asked if the Bush officials were liars.

McCain unequivocally said "yes," they were lying about the results they received from torturing prisoners and then explained why Abu Ghraib was a horrible moment and an extremist recruitment story.

McCain then invoked the Most Admired Man in Conservative Circles, Gen. Petraeus, who also has issued a powerful rebuke of torture.

McCain was attacked by Trump weeks ago as not being a war hero because the AZ Senator was a Lindsey Graham supporter, but he had all the facts on his side when discussing this issue.

According to McCain, the information gathered by subjecting suspects to simulated drowning is often flat-out inaccurate.

“They got a whole lot of information that was totally false,” the Arizona senator said of the use of waterboarding during George W. Bush’s administration.

“Do we want to resort to doing things that our enemies do? Do we want to be on the same plane as those people chopping off heads?” he continued.

Asked about waterboarding...McCain said:

"Well, if you believe the Geneva convention, which prohibits it, if you believe the 93-3 vote we took in the Senate, which prohibiting waterboarding and other forms of torture...all of us admire general David Petraeus. Let me give you his quote -- "our nation has paid a high price in recent decades for the information gained by the use of techniques beyond those in the field manual which prohibits it and in my view the price paid fair outweighed the value of the information gained through the use of techniques beyond those in the manual."

Watch the whole exchange. It's quite stunning.

Like this:

Question about Michael Mukasey...is he a liar?

McCain said: "Yes, I know that he is. Even if we had gotten useful information, the propaganda and the image and the behavior of the greatest nation on earth from torturing people is not what we want and it helps the enemy."

Wow.

And yet, keep in mind that the only one of those who were asked about waterboarding who said they would not do it was Jeb Bush and only because it's been expressly deemed illegal not because he thinks there's anything wrong with it.

The frontrunner Trump wants to get the US into the beheading business.

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dgallagher60
1405 days ago
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Question about Michael Mukasey...is he a liar?

McCain said: "Yes, I know that he is. Even if we had gotten useful information, the propaganda and the image and the behavior of the greatest nation on earth from torturing people is not what we want and it helps the enemy."

Mukasey has a great "plain folks" persona and can make a very strong impression. McCain's slam is needed and God's work.
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