Today, the House Oversight Committee is holding an important hearing entitled "The Role of Pharmacy…
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House Hearing Spotlights Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) as Drivers of Higher Drug Prices

Today, the House Oversight Committee is holding an important hearing entitled "The Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Prescription Drug Markets Part III:  Transparency and Accountability."

For those unfamiliar, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) amount to middlemen that control prescription drugs for millions of Americans.  A majority of Americans receive health insurance through employer plans or government programs such as Medicare, which in turn cover prescription drugs through PBMs.  Those PBMs negotiate with drug companies and pay pharmacies, but throughout the process determine the drugs that insured patients may obtain and at what cost.

The problem is that PBMs operate in such an opaque and complex manner that they're able to inflate drug costs while claiming to be working…[more]

July 23, 2024 • 04:57 PM

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Iran, Infelicitously Print
By Troy Senik
Wednesday, September 30 2009
For the second time in less than a year, a rogue nation was showing off its weapons capacities as the President held court about the need for a nuclear-free world. The net effect was something like holding a gun control rally in the middle of a gang fight.

If the notion of a providential plan for the United States suffers from a touch of romanticism, it’s not difficult to see where the nation’s poets got grist for their mill. 
How does the American Revolution succeed and then produce a stable Republic without the singular leadership of George Washington? What other Commander-in-Chief would have had the combination of strategic cunning and moral indefatigability that led Abraham Lincoln to successfully prosecute the Civil War? Would America have roused from its isolationist slumbers to defeat Hitler’s Germany without the courage of Franklin D. Roosevelt? Could the Cold War have bled into the 21st century without Ronald Reagan’s vision of absolute victory rather than stage-managed attrition?
With such a pedigree, it’s understandable why ours is a country confident of its exceptionalism. But the wages of success is the temptation towards decadence. Spend too long basking in the glory of your halcyon days and you’ll find yourself imagining them as foreordained rather than the product of sustained and difficult exertions.  And then – having severed the linkage between effort and achievement – the next great crisis may inspire nothing more than an atrophy of will.  
The die has yet to be cast, but when the history of the momentous changes that beset Iran (and with it the world) in the early 21st century is written, this may go down as the first time in our history when Americans – who often wait too long to respond to a crisis – failed to react whatsoever.
Last week, as President Obama gathered with world leaders at a United Nations session in New York, Iran announced the existence of a second nuclear site on its soil, this one’s location obscured deep beneath one of the country’s mountain ranges.  For the second time in less than a year, a rogue nation was showing off its weapons capacities as the President held court about the need for a nuclear-free world.  The net effect was something like holding a gun control rally in the middle of a gang fight.
Since most current Western leaders seem to believe that grave actions must be met with grave facial expressions, Obama held a press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  Each scowled and scolded.  And in the end, they promised … a regime of even tougher sanctions.  Translated into Persian, it amounted to: go nuclear and we’ll dock your allowance.
The rise of Hitler has lost much of its explanatory utility over the years through overuse.  That’s unfortunate, because in the 70 years since World War II’s inception, no moment has held such eerie parallels as the present.  True, Ahmadinejad’s Iran will not run roughshod over continents at a time in pursuit of world domination.  In fact, it doesn’t need to do so to achieve its objectives.  But other similarities are disquieting.
Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad’s motivations are largely ignored or misunderstood by western elites who can’t believe that anyone savvy enough to rise to a level of such power could be serious about an intangible faith.
In the 1930s, Winston Churchill – virtually alone – called for swift action to remove Hitler before he could wreak havoc.  What was the source of his clarity? Churchill simply understood that Hitler meant what he said in “Mein Kampf” and was developing the capacity to act on it. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe’s political sophisticates believed that Hitler’s rhetoric was purely for domestic consumption – a tool used to exploit the grievances of the demoralized Weimar Republic.
Today, a similar debate rages over Ahmadinejad and the mullahs whose regime he leads.  But the sincerity of their beliefs should be in doubt to no one.  The Iranian President is a man who, during his tenure as the mayor of Tehran, ordered the city’s streets widened in anticipation of the return of the Twelfth Imam, a figure who accompanies the apocalypse in Shiite Islamic theology. The American left would call for the head of any mayor in the United States who wanted to widen Main Street to prepare for the return of the Christ. Yet they apparently think a similar figure in the world’s biggest hotbed of religious fundamentalism can be expected to be a benign wielder of nuclear launch codes.
Ahmadinejad’s references to wiping Israel off the map and destroying “Anglo-Saxon civilization” are by now well known.  His pledge that Iran would gladly submit to the joys of being a “martyr nation” if a nuclear strike on Israel was followed by a reciprocal attack on Tehran is not idle.  And the notion that – for the first time in history – a nation that openly praises the virtues of genocide is about to cross the nuclear threshold is not being treated with the gravity it deserves in any of the diplomatic salons of the West.
Political leaders who are willing to submit a nation to martyrdom can’t be expected to be deterred by economic sanctions.  Countries that are about to achieve virtual invincibility because of a nuclear shield can’t be expected to submit to State Department sophistry about how such provocation isn’t in their “long-term” interest.  And religious leaders who sanction shooting their own people in the street can’t be expected to show mercy outside their nation’s borders.
America is running out of time to avoid a crisis on a massive scale. Whether we will be roused to action before it’s too late is an open question.  But what will happen if we don’t is not.

Notable Quote   
"The astonishing political events of the last four weeks make plain, once again, how much of America's history depends on what voters have come to accept as the choice of one person: each presidential nominee's choice of a vice presidential candidate. Even as the nomination process was expanded, half a century ago, to include millions of primary voters, the choice of the vice presidential nominee…[more]
— Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner and Longtime Co-Author of The Almanac of American Politics
Liberty Poll   

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