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Another thought on the ME

Another post from the counteterrorism blog from WAPO has a different twist:

What the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have in common is that it will take a major and consistent U.S. effort throughout the next administration at least to win either war. Any American political debate that ignores or denies the fact that these are long wars is dishonest and will ensure defeat. There are good reasons that the briefing slides in U.S. military and aid presentations for both battlefields don’t end in 2008 or with some aid compact that expires in 2009. They go well beyond 2012 and often to 2020.
If the next president, Congress and the American people cannot face this reality, we will lose. Years of false promises about the speed with which we can create effective army, police and criminal justice capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot disguise the fact that mature, effective local forces and structures will not be available until 2012 and probably well beyond. This does not mean that U.S. and allied force levels cannot be cut over time, but a serious military and advisory presence will probably be needed for at least that long, and rushed reductions in forces or providing inadequate forces will lead to a collapse at the military level.
The most serious problems, however, are governance and development. Both countries face critical internal divisions and levels of poverty and unemployment that will require patience. These troubles can be worked out, but only over a period of years. Both central governments are corrupt and ineffective, and they cannot bring development and services without years of additional aid at far higher levels than the Bush administration now budgets. Blaming weak governments or trying to rush them into effective action by threatening to leave will undercut them long before they are strong enough to act.

(Bolding is mine)

So this person says to stay, and by implication tar and feather the people who got us into this mess. Hmmmm. I like this counterrorism blog. Thanks Red State.

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Counterterrorism blog

One opinion on the Protect America Act offers a viewpoint that caught my eye. On the other hand, there were lots of opinions about this in posts.

While I agree with my colleagues, Dennis Lormel and Jeffrey Breinholt, that renewal of the Protect America Act should be considered by Congress as urgent and serious business, it’s misplaced to ascribe current delays to merely “playing politics.”

Few pieces of legislation before Congress carry such gravity and importance when it comes to the twin goals of protecting our national security and preserving our civil liberties. Such matters should be considered with gravity and thorough deliberation. And there is much in this act which deserves further deliberation. Many of its current provisions were adopted previously under an atmosphere of high tension and great pressure from the White House. The only pressure now is that President Bush threatens to veto any further temporary extension of the current act. A temporary extension would certainly have kept in place sufficient authority to keep tabs on the potential terrorists within our midst as Congress worked through the act thoroughly.

And, as Richard Clarke wrote earlier this month in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year. “Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction. Instead – even though Congress extended the Protect America Act by two weeks – he is using the existence of the sunset provision to cast his political opponents in a negative light. “For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.”
So what is the current debate in Congress really about? It’s about just how deeply we really need to encroach on our civil liberties to assure our national security, and on the extent of the protections, checks and balances, that should remain in place to limit police power infringements of civil and privacy rights to those truly warranted by the circumstances. History has shown, including our own national history, that we must constantly assure that such adequate protections, checks and balances, are in place. And, I believe, that using our courts to hold those that usurp or violate these inherently dangerous authorities responsible, is an essential protection. The 52 lawsuits now pending before the US courts would test, specifically, whether such usurpation actually occurred. And, if a government agency, or those complicit with it, did usurp or abuse their authority, or make a serious mistake, unduly infringing our rights(and I hope that it will be found that this is not the case), they should pay for their misdeeds just as we would expect any of our neighbors or business colleagues to do.

It is this ability of simple citizens to hold government and private entities and individuals liable for their misdeeds that best assures that they will act responsibly.

Several readers thought Angry Bear was becoming an echo chamber for the lefties. So I went to Red State, a blog decidedly not lefty, and found this site on their blogroll. Of course, since I did the looking, I brought back an opinion by one expert I agree with. You will have to go there for yourself to find other opinions and viewpoints.

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Obama and CNN : Alert to?

Politico carries this observation about CNN:

CNN’s question: Obama’s patriotism

I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen a reader poll like this on a mainstream media website (or, to be honest, a right-wing blog). This is currently on CNN.com.

And just today (in a very interesting exchange with the Cleveland Jewish community) Obama was touting CNN’s piece debunking the notion that he’d gone to a madrasa: “We had to send CNN to look at the school that I attended in Indonesia where kids were wearing short pants and listening to ipods to indicate that this was not a madrassa but was a secular school in Indonesia.”

This question seems tied to this story, in which he took a question about his patriotism. But it’s odd to see the mainstream media drive a largely whispered question that none of his main, named critics — Hillary, McCain or the RNC — will touch.

What could possibly be on their minds? For any candidate?

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Mike sends a response to rdan on off-label drugs

It is evident that this will lead to less pressure on the Drug Companies
to get their drugs approved by the FDA. I would suggest that we consider
letting the market help. i.e.

1) If a drug is prescribed off-label, then the patient be permitted
to return it to the drug store for a full refund, no questions asked. —
Obviously many people might be helped, and others would not bother to try to
get a refund, but it would encourage the Drug Company to test the drug to be
able to sell it without the possibility of having ineffective drugs being
returned.

2) If a drug is being prescribed off-label, with the cooperation of
the Drug Company, then the patient can go to court and have a presumption
that the drug is the cause of any reasonable harm to the patient. Obviously
one would want a judge to eliminate unreasonable cases, but if it is
reasonable that the off-label use of the drug might have caused the damage,
then the encouraged off-label use would lead to an assumption of guilt until
proven by the preponderance of evidence otherwise.

Obviously the details of these can be adjusted to make them more
reasonable, but their purpose is to let the Drug Company have some reasons
for testing their drugs and for not encouraging their off-label use unless
they feel they are safe and effective.

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Off label drug pushers

FDA doesn’t just approve drugs, it approves drugs for specific uses. However, doctors can prescribe drugs for unapproved, or “off-label,” uses.

Under a law that expired in 2006, pharmaceutical reps were legally able to distribute journal articles touting the benefits of off-label uses. But, according to the Associated Press, FDA maintained some regulatory oversight: “Under the expired law, companies had to submit reprints of articles to the FDA before sending them to doctors. That way, the articles’ accuracy could be reviewed.”

If FDA chooses to finalize this policy, which it published today as “proposed guidance,” drug companies would be able to use journal articles to market off-label uses willy-nilly. The AP article continues, “Under the new proposal, drug companies don’t have to submit articles.”

Off-label use of drugs is big business. According to The Wall Street Journal, “[FDA] is stepping into a high-stakes business issue, because off-label uses of prescription drugs are a mainstay of the industry — an estimated 21% of drug use overall, according to a 2006 analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.”

According to Merrill Goozner at the GoozNews blog, the pharmaceutical lobby pushed for FDA to go forward with the policy which will be a boon for the industry:

So what was in today’s proposed guidance? It pretty much gives industry everything it was looking for. It would allow drug salespersons to drop off article reprints as long as they came from a peer-reviewed journal that had a conflict-of-interest disclosure policy. Articles from industry-funded supplements would not be allowed…

Note what isn’t in the policy: It doesn’t say that the studies of unapproved uses must be from randomized controlled clinical trials, which is the gold standard of medical research.

Rep. Henry Waxman(D-CA) caught wind of this policy last November and asked FDA to refrain from going forward.

We probably will get exactly what we wish for, and then get blamed for the result. I call it sneered at..”Suckers!!”

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