HomeUncategorized2/4 News Roundup & Open Thread – Ocasio-Cortez Chats With Corbyn, Sanders’ Tax Plan Levels The Playing Field & More
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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders plans to send a letter to Catalyst Pharmaceuticals (CPRX.O) on Monday asking it to justify its decision to charge $375,000 annually for a medication that for years has been available to patients for free.

The drug, Firdapse, is used to treat Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS), a rare neuromuscular disorder, according to the letter, made available to Reuters by the senator’s office. The disorder affects about one in 100,000 people in the United States.



But under the presidential microscope and in comparison with the emerging slate of candidates, O’Rourke—who says he is still deciding whether to pursue a White House bid and declined an interview for this story—has also faced criticism and even ridicule.

There was the Washington Post interview in which the former El Paso congressman struggled to give specific answers to questions about issues like immigration policy. There was the conversation he filmed with his dental hygienist about life on the U.S.-Mexico border, complete with a momentary close-up of his mouth mid-appointment. And there was the time he wrote about his post-campaign angst, sparking incredulity from some observers who said female candidates could never get away with such public ruminations.

“He has so far, in a lot of interviews since the Senate campaign, given pretty unsatisfactory answers around core issues, even talking about things he should probably be an expert on,” Morales Rocketto said. “I’ve been pretty unimpressed with him so far.”

It’s not that there is vigorous Beto backlash, though some progressives have increasingly expressed concerns over what they see as a too-centrist record in the House.

But with so many other likely candidates parading through early states and actively conducting outreach, he simply isn’t top of mind, right now, with many activists—or with some potential staffers: A number of Democrats who had explored the possibility of a role with O’Rourke have since joined other campaigns.



A helpful way to think about our current juncture is that we are on course, right now, to roll out a Green New Deal within the next 20 years through basic market forces alone. Under a passive US government (yes, I know) that neither tried to stop nor promote these changes, we will see combined wind and solar power go from producing 10% of US electricity today toward 40% or even 50% by 2040. And in 2040, electric vehicles will, with the exception of trucks, have dominated the market regardless. Oil consumption will decline meaningfully; and coal, as in Britain, will almost entirely disappear.

Good policy can accelerate this. You’ll need not only good design, but spending to help the economy with the large, upfront costs of new energy adoption. Advocates of a Green New Deal should avoid the obvious own-goal of focusing on price tags. Incentives are superior to edicts — the former break down barriers for existing technology, and parcel out the costs into pieces the economy can digest. And ultimately, this isn’t about the costs we will incur, but the massive savings, for our economy and our planet.



But underneath all that, there is politics. And for Booker, his campaign also begins with an attempt to re-write history.

“I wrote the bill with [Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT)] about being able to import prescription drugs safely from other countries,” Booker told Madison during his interview Friday. “Other nations penalize pharmaceutical companies if they try to raise prices above what they are in other countries. We can say the same thing in America. If you’re going to charge someone in England or Canada, and you drive up those costs here in America, trying to profiteer off of our citizens, then there will be a penalty for that.”

True enough. But what Booker omits is the fact that in the weeks before joining with Casey and Sanders to write that legislation, he joined with Republicans to kill a measure that aimed to do the very same thing.

In January 2017, Sanders introduced a largely symbolic pharmaceutical importation bill in the Senate. The measure would not have actually legalized importation, but its supporters hoped it would serve as proof there was enough support to do exactly that. Booker was joined by 12 other Senate Democrats in voting against the measure, but the New Jersey senator took the most stick for his vote because he had long been considered a likely presidential contender who’d consistently pitched himself as a progressive force of nature.

“This is classic Booker — stand out front on feel-good social issues, regardless of his past positions, and align with big money everywhere else,” Paste Magazine wrote. The Huffington Post put it simply, running a story with the headline, “Cory Booker And A Bunch Of Democrats Prove Trump Right On Big Pharma,” noting that the baker’s dozen of Democrats “did the industry’s bidding” by voting down the measure.

Moreover, no Senate Democrat had stronger ties to Big Pharma than Booker. In 2014, Booker raked in $328,000 in campaign boodle from the “pharmaceutical and health products” industry. (Notably, many pharmaceutical companies have made their homes in Booker’s own state.) The reason Booker voted against the bill, he said in a statement, was because he didn’t believe it was up to safety standards.


Veiled Faces of Racism: the Half-Truths Spoken by Establishment Provocateurs

Notice how one set of facts is always presented with a slant to different demographics? For example, Fox News and alt-right sites like Breitbart are latching on to Northam’s egregious actions not to call him out on the carpet but to mock Democrats. MSNBC and their ilk on the left are likewise grabbing on to the governor’s bigotry by tying them to Trump’s hateful rhetoric.

The plight of “black” folks has been leveraged by the establishment for centuries. There are two faces of racism when it comes to the way few brutalize and dehumanize many. The most obvious is the way the descendants of survivors and the “African-American” diaspora have been systematically mauled and discriminated against for centuries. What started with overt subjugation by way of chains and lashes morphed into de facto bondage by way of penal plantations, Jim Crow, segregation and systemic coercion. To this day, being “black” is tax that is given at birth and relinquished only upon death.

However, there is another component of racism that is a lot less evident and lost on many people. Racism doesn’t only injure “black” people, it harms the whole of humanity. Race was invented out of thin cloth by slave traders and colonizers for a reason, it was a way to create a caste system and rupture the public. By cleaving people apart and ghettoizing mankind based on color and labels, the gentry and their enforcers were hoping to manufacture perpetual social strife.

This blueprint of sectionalizing society and keeping the poor and laborers at each other’s throats has worked brilliantly throughout human history. But no empire has perfected the art of division more than America. During the Civil War, poor southern “white” sharecroppers and farm tenants were convinced to die by the hundreds of thousands in order to keep slavery intact. “White” confederates perished defending plantation owners who were at the root of their misfortunes.

Fast forward one 150 years and this dynamic of inducing racial strife to preserve the status quo is still at play. To this end, in too many cases, the pains of “black” people are used to arouse passions and perpetuate the very system that rooted in racism. Defining people by color and turning humans into abstraction is the very is racism itself. Instead of leading unifying conversations, demagogues are unleashed to incite the fears of marginalized “whites” and to stir animosity among “minorities”. The Northam narrative is the latest iteration of this malicious ploy, firebrands are trying to ignite civil wars to this day. The have us fighting with each other as all of us are getting pillaged by the neo-aristocracy.

There’s more.


Soak the rich? Americans say go for it

The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted Feb. 1-2, found that 61 percent favor a proposal like the “wealth tax” recently laid out by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would levy a 2 percent tax on those with a net worth over $50 million and 3 percent on those worth over $1 billion. Just 20 percent opposed the idea. The poll surveyed 1,993 registered voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

It showed 45 percent favored a plan like that laid out by Ocasio-Cortez while 32 percent opposed it.

Democrats are facing some backlash from conservatives, corporate America and moderates like former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz over their embrace of higher tax rates on the rich and corporations. Shultz recently called Warren’s wealth tax “ridiculous.” Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a potential moderate Democratic candidate in 2020, likened it to policies in socialist Venezuela.

But Republicans who think they can use the proposals as a political weapon in 2020 to paint Democrats as wild-eyed, tax-and-spend liberals — a winning strategy since Walter Mondale called for higher taxes in 1984 and got crushed — may find it challenging.

“There is certainly an appetite for more taxes on the rich, though the threshold matters,” said Karlyn Bowman, a polling expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “There is also some support for redistributing income.”



That so, AEI? And, if the greedy gilded moneyhogs can’t handle it, they are free to leave. I hope the heavy door hits them as they flee. 🙂


They wont flee, they need us to pay their taxes and buy their products,us progressives are sick of paying more than the moneyhogs.



Last week, intelligence officials testified publicly that Iran has not resumed its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. The next day, President Trump called these officials “extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran,” and advised, “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

The first-blush response to this presidential outburst was to dump it in the same category as Trump’s other public eruption against members of his government who undercut his preferred narratives with inconvenient facts. That response is probably correct: this Trump tantrum is probably like all the other Trump tantrums. But there is another possible meaning to this episode: Trump’s rejection of intelligence assessments of Iran’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities eerily echoes the Bush administration’s rejection of Iraq’s WMD capabilities a decade and a half earlier.



Iraq’s president has hit back at comments made by Donald Trump, saying that the US president did not ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed there to “watch Iran”.

A day after Trump said US soldiers in Iraq would be tasked with monitoring Iran, Barham Salih told reporters at a forum in Baghdad that the US military presence in the country was the result of a bilateral agreement with the specific goal of fighting terrorism.

“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,” Salih said on Monday. “The US is a major power … but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.”

It was of “fundamental interest” for Iraq to have good relations with Iran and other neighbouring countries, Salih added.



“I’m 70 percent there, but I’m not all the way there,” Biden told Fink.

That same 70 percent line has been circulating among Biden allies for weeks: This looks like it’s happening, but don’t write off the 30 percent chance that it doesn’t. In that time, people who’ve spoken to Biden and those around him say, he is still anguishing over both whether there’s a path to victory and whether running is the right thing to do for those closest to him, knowing that his record would be attacked and sensitive questions about his family would be aired in public.

In several meetings recently, Anzalone laid out the realities of the Democratic-primary electorate based on public polling and election results from 2016 and 2018, concluding that it’s not as left leaning or as young as it’s often portrayed. Biden has shown the document to other visitors, trying to decode what appetite exists for a centrist who is unapologetic about wanting to work more with Republicans, and who will turn 78 years old two weeks after Election Day 2020.

Biden and his aides think Bernie Sanders, who is a year older, might help neutralize the issue of Biden’s age. Sanders is considered likely to join a progressive field that includes Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and possibly Sherrod Brown sometime soon. A Sanders candidacy would likely encourage Biden to run because he doesn’t agree with the Vermont senator’s policies and thinks they’re losing politics.


Sanders Investigates a $375,000 Price Spike on Old Drug

In a letter sent Monday to the CEO of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demanded the company explain its decision to set the price of Firdapse, a drug used to treat a rare neuromuscular disease called Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), at $375,000 per year.

For two decades, patients have received the same drug – known as 3,4-DAP – for free from Jacobus Pharmaceutical under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use program. Recently, Catalyst licensed the rights to the drug and received exclusive rights to market Firdapse for seven years under the FDA’s orphan drug designation. In December 2018, Catalyst announced to investors it would set the list price for Firdapse at $375,000 per year.

As a result, patients around the country are frightened as to whether or not they will be able to maintain access to a drug they depend upon to survive.

Last week, Sanders spoke via Skype with one of those patients, Rebecca Hovde of Wellman, Iowa, who told him about the incredible anxiety people with LEMS are living with as a result of Catalyst’s decision to increase the price. “I have friends saying that it’s too much. They know they can’t afford it. And they’re just going to go to bed when their 3,4 DAP runs out,” Hovde told Sanders. (Watch the full conversation here.)

In response to the concerns raised by Hovde and other patients, Sanders asked the CEO of Catalyst how many patients will suffer or die due to their decision to set such an outrageous price, calling that decision “not only a blatant fleecing of American taxpayers, but…also an immoral exploitation of patients who need this medication.”


That’s a press release from Bernie’s senate site. But CNBC, Fortune, and Reuters have all picked up the story.

Don midwest
Don midwest

why does Bernie get all the glory?

surely other politicians see what is going on and here is Bernie stealing the show again…

well, Bernie has had the same positions for 30 years and now all he has to do is to repeat what he has said over the decades

and it seems to be from outer space — no one could have imagined this

the presidential run gave him the millions of Americans following what he says and even the main stream media can’t keep him down

and now he is a threat to the establishment politicians because they have been able to hide out in “bipartisan” or other lies

at a time when speaking the truth is radical ….


Our own Subir has an excellent diary up at TOP about his reasons why Bernie should be in the 2020 POTUS race.


I would ignore the negative commenters, just read the diary, and perhaps tip him if you agree.


Yep did that earlier. Also you’re right, comments add nothing.


Fairfax is next in line for Northam’s job.


It’s a claim of sexual assault.


Timing is suspect in this one.





Warning: May be dangerous to your peace of mind.

Theinept and corrupt presidency of Donald Trump has unwittingly triggered the fatal blow to the American empire—the abandonment of the dollar as the world’s principal reserve currency. Nations around the globe, especially in Europe, have lost confidence in the United States to act rationally, much less lead, in issues of international finance, trade, diplomacy and war. These nations are quietly dismantling the seven-decade-old alliance with the United States and building alternative systems of bilateral trade. This reconfiguring of the world’s financial system will be fatal to the American empire, as the historian Alfred McCoy and the economist Michael Hudson have long pointed out. It will trigger an economic death spiral, including high inflation, which will necessitate a massive military contraction overseas and plunge the United States into a prolonged depression. Trump, rather than make America great again, has turned out, unwittingly, to be the empire’s most aggressive gravedigger

A lot in here about what made it work.

When George W. Bush unilaterally invaded Iraq, defying with his doctrine of preemptive war international law and dismissing protests from traditional allies, he began the rupture. But Trump has deepened the fissures. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, although Iran had abided by the agreement, and demand that European nations also withdraw or endure U.S. sanctions saw European nations defect and establish an alternative monetary exchange system that excludes the United States. Iran no longer accepts the dollar for oil on international markets and has replaced it with the euro, not a small factor in Washington’s deep animus to Teheran. Turkey is also abandoning the dollar. The U.S. demand that Germany and other European states halt the importation of Russian gas likewise saw the Europeans ignore Washington. China and Russia, traditionally antagonistic, are now working in tandem to free themselves from the dollar. Moscow has transferred $100 billion of its reserves into Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and euros. And, as ominously, foreign governments since 2014 are no longer storing their gold reserves in the United States or, as with Germany, removing them from the Federal Reserve. Germany has repatriated its 300 tons of gold ingots. The Netherlands repatriated its 100 tons.

And a lot more on what is unraveling. And what the future holds.


It could also be the catalyst that starts the defeat of a FRightwingnut greedball mindset. This stupid megalomania has crippled the country for years. The sooner the craporate fascist control loosens, the faster this nation can tackle climate change as well as M4A.


Now Trump is saying it would be Trumatic to take the children from their sponsor families. Unbelievable.


Lot of poutrage ar DK and other places about Bernie daring to give his own rebuttal


Nina got in one of the threads. It was awesome. Someone replied to me about her being a token black in another thread. I retweeted to Nina. I was burning. Some of them must be getting paid




🙂 pb4!

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