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Harumph and bother: a post about Obama and ISIS

Looted museum in Baghdad circa 2003. We were the superglue.

One thing the Democratic activists love to crow about is how they’re not like conservatives who think that conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

And then there is the mess that is ISIS, the collapse of Iraq and Obama’s negligence of the country that lead us back to war.

Disclaimer: I am not a conservative, not a Republican and actually align myself with the left.  But for some peculiar reason that I can’t quite figure out, I have been the vocal outlier on this tiny asteroid in the blogosphereic Oort Belt.  There are a few like minded dust specks out here but the left seems to be dominated by people who screwed up in the most spectacular fashion in 2008 and yet still insist that they are the smartest, most peace loving, accomplished citizens ever.  Let’s just call them the left’s very serious people.

So, the left’s very serious people, LVSP for short, are wringing their hands about ISIS because when push came to shove, Obama did what most American presidents have done in the past.  He turned the FUD up to 11.  I’m glad I don’t have cable so I can safely ignore all of the hysterical arguments for war in Iraq again.  And let me make this clear, I was against the war in Iraq in 2003 because none of it sounded plausible to me.  Al Qaeda had the ability to strike the US in 45 minutes?  As if.  There was clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction?  Please.  What do you take me for?  I think we entered the hall of shame with Freedom Fries, though.  It was about that time that the US put the screws to raw milk cheeses from France, which was really uncalled for.

Smart people knew that there was no reason to go blow up Iraq.  It was just Dick Cheney’s wet dream.  He and his buddies wanted to cash in big on government military contracts and private oil contracts.  They raced into Baghdad, allowed the ruin of some of the most important archaeological sites in human history, destroyed the government and then set about playing some kind of right wing version of Monopoly.  Mission Accomplished indeed.

It’s no wonder that so many of us hated the Iraq War and all the damage it did to real human beings.  It was greedy, careless, ruthless, selfish, expensive and stupid.

OUR side would do it differently.  WE would get out of Iraq.  That was THE most important thing.  Because OUR side was for peace and prosperity and turning the other cheek and not making war or spending lots of money to blow things up.  And THAT’S why so many young, ideologically pure, left wing doves voted for Obama over the candidate with the lady parts.  Heck, it’s why Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything.  (I’d still like to know what nefarious group nominated him.  They were clearly up to something.)

In any case, peace would rein, oops, sorry, was doin’ a Bush there, reign in Iraq and the people would cheer our exit and get back to their shawarma and all would be hunky dory.  Because that is what the left is all about, getting out of stupid wars because they are stupid.  And so it was.

And that’s where the left made it’s mistake.  As Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker has said in two Fresh Air interviews, here and here, Iraq is an artificial state.  The only way it stayed together after the fall of Saddam Hussein was by having an American presence there acting as an intermediary between all of the disparate groups.  The Sunnis have a persecution complex, the Shias are being helped by Iran and the Kurds, currently the only group in Iraq that has its sh&* together, just wants out.  Bummer about that whole landlocked Kurdistan thing.

In his interview on Fresh Air in June this year, Filkins reported that Obama lost interest in Iraq early and just wanted to pull Americans out.  The timing of the pull out, before the 2012 election year, seems to me to have been a way of pacifying the lefties and keeping them quiet, but I’m only making a guess based on past performance.  al-Maliki was getting pressure from Iran to get the US out of Iraq but he was hoping to negotiate some kind of deal with Obama for a residual presence.  But the White House wasn’t giving any guidance to the State Department. So, when the last troops pulled out, the American superglue that held the whole place together fell apart.

Now, I’m really sorry if the left’s very serious people, like Digby, didn’t see this coming.  Certainly, she’s smart enough to figure out what the fall out of the troop withdrawal would likely be.  But the left seems to be of the opinion that peace can never fail, it can only be failed.  All those Iraqis should have gotten along when we left.  It was in their own best interests.

More likely, peace needed to be a long term investment whether we liked it or not.  It’s not surprising that Obama had way too much on his plate to think this through properly.  But as I have observed before, Obama governs in campaign mode and his policies rarely have the deep thought and execution that is required from the most powerful man in the world.  Experience probably would have helped here but we didn’t elect the guy for his experience, did we?  No, we hired him because he was not like a powerful politician.

Too bad for us.  Believe me, it doesn’t give me any pleasure to keep pointing out what a disaster 2008 was.  No, indeed, the suffering here and abroad just never seems to end and we will come to regret our choices for generations to come.  You can make excuses for him and throw accusations around that the CIA is out to get him but it won’t change the fact that he’s directly responsible for the urgency of the situation in Iraq because he neglected this problem and the United States’ role in keeping the country together.

If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

We’re about to find out.

One more thing: Could it be that the left’s very serious people are really upset by the fact that the right wing has gotten smart about Obama and has given up pushing the ridiculous right wing memes, like birtherism, for an accurate assessment of Obama’s performance?  Because if they’re latching on to accuracy, the Democrats better have a better defense than just whining about how unfair it is to blame Obama for everything he does.  It’s not a winning formula.

WWII: The Sequel

I haven’t been following the reboot of the Iraq War brought on by the ISIS atrocities.  For one thing, I don’t watch cable or network news so I missed the beheading videos.  Is it just me or should there be a law against showing that kind of thing on TV?  It feels like gratuitous snuff film porn for the purpose of horrifying people and stirring up strong emotional reactions.  I’m agin it.

I’m also against war in general but I’m not a pacifist or an isolationist.  I sat through a bajillion hours of The Last Lion, the biography of Winston Churchill and realize how dangerous pacifism and isolationism can be.  The peaceniks “at all costs” crowd are as unsettling to me as the Cheney types.  My attitude towards war is a Tolkienish one.  I don’t like it, don’t crave it, wouldn’t seek it out except for the protection of friends and innocents.

But there is a really good reason why the US can never be an isolationist country.  Going back to WWII, Churchill repeatedly threw the British Army (or what was left of it after Dunkirk) at different places in the Mediterranean and southeast asia for a purpose.  It was more than just a case of pestering Hitler like a biting sand fly.  And it did have something to do with the British Empire.  But more than that, he had to do it to maintain open sea lanes.  Take a look at the map below of the world’s chokepoints today:

If you follow the thickest blue line, you’ll notice that the most significant battles of WWII happened along it.  You can also see why the Axis came to be.  The countries that controlled the north Atlantic, Mediterranean and South China Seas pretty much ruled the world.  That big blue line represents the quickest route from East Asia to North America.  A vital choke point is right about where the Suez Canal is and what countries surround the entry and exit to the Suez Canal?  Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia.  If we follow the Red Sea southward, we see Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia. Then we swing around the Arabian Pennisula and into the Persian Gulf to Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and all that oil.

Like it or not, we are dependent on keeping those chokepoints open for international trade, not only for ourselves but for the rest of the world. It helps if the country in charge of patrolling the hot spots is above reproach.  Bush and Cheney kinda ruined our global reputation in that respect.  The rest of the world has to trust us to not act completely in our own best interests.

What Bush and Cheney did was take a giant dump in a very sensitive place.  And then they left a very naive but extremely cocky novice president to keep the place in order.  The naivety, coupled with an upcoming second term, caused a series of very bad decisions.  Pair that up with local instability in the region around the Suez Canal and you have our present situation.

There probably was a better time to intervene in Syria but in general, the region is always going to be a sensitive spot.  It’s geographically important, and you can bet the people who live there know it.  The Arab Spring might have been prompted by that realization.  We are probably never going to be able to completely reduce our presence there.  Our economy depends on keeping this chokepoint open.  Until we get rid of our dependence on foreign oil, we’re going to have to be there.  And even after we move on from sucking the mideast dry, that area is still the quickest way from point A to point B for many countries other than our own.

So, there’s my take on it.  We’re still fighting the world wars of the previous century and will be for the foreseeable future.  Obama was not thinking past his re-election and anyone who made their decision of presidential candidate in 2008 based on a war vote or promises to get out of Iraq wasn’t thinking it through to its logical conclusions.  It has always been clear to me that the president who took over from Bush/Cheney was going to have to make peace with the isolationists before he or she would ever make peace with the Iraqis and their neighbors.  It was never going to be simple or easy.  The best we could hope for was an uneasy status quo for a long time.

But somebody blew it and here we are.

Next time we elect a president, we might want to choose one who is explicit about these things.

One more thing: Considering what a sensitive area the Mediterranean is, you have to wonder why the ECB is being such a dick to Spain, Italy and Greece.

No need for apologetics

Oh, my!  Hillary has astounded the left blogosphere again.  She hasn’t backed off on her “war hawkishness” and for the first time in 6 years, she has actually defied the White House and admitted that their foreign policy was full of holes.  So, now all of the left’s assessment of her is proven true, TRUE, I say!  She would have taken us into a new war had she been president, she wouldn’t have stopped with earth, she would have declared it on the Martians and then where would we be?  I can almost see the caricature Hillarys filling the souvenir shelves in 2016, hair standing on end and eyes wild and terrifying like some older, plumper version of Galadriel on ring steroids.

Will you people get a grip?  You’re starting to remind me of the right.  Yeah, I went there.  Those people are black/white thinkers without nuance. The left’s absolutism when it comes to war and pacifism is starting to resemble that.  I’m not apologizing for Hillary.  You can go back to her senate days until the present and really read what she’s said to figure out where she stands.  She’s allowed to be wrong.  God knows, the left is extremely forgiving of other politicians who were much wronger than Hillary.  John Kerry and John Edwards were given free passes and they were clearly motivated by politics.  But she’s also allowed to be right and we have to look at the bigger picture of the globe and our unfortunate and damning dependence on oil to see what might be going on here.

In the last couple of weeks, I have wondered why it is that this region of the world is still so tribal, why authoritarian religion has such a grip on the inhabitants, why it hasn’t allowed them to evolve and who is behind all that religious hierarchy.  I mean, why is it concentrated so heavily in the area where oil is located and where there are global chokepoints to the flow of oil and other goods?  You’d think that living in such a strategic area of the world that these people would have a better standard of living than they do.  Why aren’t the best minds coming from the middle east?  Why are so many of them poor?  What is the connection of religion to power and which side is wielding it?  I’m sure there are papers on the subject. But it’s not my area and I’m dissatisfied and embarrassed by the shallowness of the discourse on the left when it comes to these questions.  All I ever hear is, “why are we there?”, “why are we spending money to bomb other countries?”, “when can we get out?”, “get out now!, Now!, Now!” and “See, that was a waste, they’re back to killing each other”.

Back in 2008, I tried to warn people over at DailyKos and here that getting out of Iraq wasn’t going to be easy and shouldn’t be rushed.  The Bushies went to Iraq to steal and experiment, and, in the course of that experimentation, trashed the place.  Pulling out was going to be destabilizing and we were probably going to have to stay longer whether we liked it or not.  And what happened?  The White House, ever in campaign mode, pulled out without stabilizing before the 2012 election and the place fell apart.  (See this Frontline episode on Losing Iraq.  The evidence damns the Bushies and the Obama administration.)

I keep coming back to responsibility.  We on the left seem to think that if we didn’t want a war and didn’t start one, we are not responsible for what happens when one happens despite our protests.  And that’s just not true.  Whether we like it or not, we will be forever associated with the other fellow bone headed, stupid, mean spirited Americans who were lead over a cliff by a bunch of greedy, selfish, destructive global “citizens”.  What you might consider “war hawkishness” might be responsibility to me.  And it sucks to be the more conscientious elder sibling.  It’s so much easier to take the easy way out and enjoy the credit, while it lasts, for making everyone happy temporarily by disassociating from the war as quickly, and as it turns out, as recklessly as possible.  But getting out quickly didn’t make things better, did it?  That high was timed to last a campaign season and very little thought was given to the morning after the party.

If anything, the Arab Spring, the collapse of Iraq and the civil war in Syria has confirmed my initial assessment of the two candidates in 2008.  Clinton was rehab and Obama was an enabler.

The latter won.

Addendum:  Some dirty hippies completely discredited themselves in the last couple of election cycles and need to take an old cold tater and wait.

 

About those migrating kids…

Maybe I missed something critical to fully understand this story but isn’t it odd that these kids have been coming here suddenly out of nowhere?  They’re being chased out of their home countries by gangs?  Where did THEY come from?  Are these gangs motivated by politics, drugs, economics?  Why are they singling out kids?  What or who is stirring this pot?

Don’t get me wrong.  Americans shouting at helpless kids to go home are ugly and mean and those are not American qualities that I want projected around the world.  And it’s not fair to these kids that so many states are turning them away when they need a place to stay if only temporarily.

But something about this story seems really improbable.  It feels like the emotional side has been fed an extra dose of steroids. It reminds me of some of the worst Hollywood sentimental tear jerking movies.  Or a little bit like this:

 

Yeah, Iraq shouldn’t have invaded Kuwait but while I was listening to that girl testify, all I could think about was what were the chances that the tiny country of Kuwait would have so many premature babies in incubators.  The numbers just didn’t add up. Call me a cold hearted cable TV viewer.  On the other hand, if you’re going to lie, I guess you should go big.

Still, gangs in central America chasing so many kids out of their countries to take a dangerous trek to America?  What are the odds?  What’s really going on and what is it they want us to do without thinking this through?

Sign me, Not Fallen Off the Turnip Truck

Iraq: The project that will not die

Open Carry extremists in Texas

Open Carry extremists in Texas

The first significant split I had with my brother happened over Iraq.  That’s because he was struck with temporary moronity  propagated by Fox News that trickled down to all of the other media outlets by what I suspect was a small evil group of psy-ops specialists.

It’s hard to be the only scientist in the family.  I’m sure I sounded like some unpleasant klaxon harshing the “let’s go kick some Haji ass!” mellow.  Everyone in America seemed to be on the same team.  There was no talking to them. There was no proof that there were WMDs in the desert.  There was no evidence for a nuclear weapons industry.  And you could be damn sure that if there was oil to be had there, it was going to be hoarded by the companies who went in there to get it.  That last one was a particularly difficult concept to get across.  They just didn’t understand WHY you would want to withhold oil from the global market.  It just sounded crazy.

So, now Iraq is falling apart and Obama wants to sit on the sidelines and let it happen.  In a way, that’s understandable.  It wasn’t his war.  He didn’t start it.  Also, he supposedly gave a speech about it that no one can find a record of.  And there’s that Nobel he needs to live up to.

But part of the responsibilities of being the leader of the free world is having to do some pretty unpleasant things.  I never thought that the president that took over from Bush in 2008 was going to be able to walk out of Iraq on the first day.  You don’t have to be a “war monger” to realize that stabilizing a country that has been deliberately de-stabilized by a bunch of ideological and greedy nut cases is a top priority.

But I get the feeling that the Obama campaign never got over its campaign mindset.  It’s been all about being the fricking cock-on-the-walk and controlling the foreign policy to the point of strangulation lest a political rival look good.  What followed was not a serious commitment to responsible behavior  but a couple of announcements that the war was over even though the country is still a chaotic mess.  I’m as disappointed with some of the pacifism at all costs people on the left as I am with the haji-kickers on the right.  Getting out of Iraq was never going to be easy and not laying the ground work for doing so carefully is going to hurt all of us.

For one thing, we can all expect gas prices to spike now.  Yep, it’s going to happen.  And if we are on a saddle point of plunging back into recession, this is certainly going to help that along.  When oil spikes, everything gets more expensive.  Poorer people are already wondering where they’re going to get the money to feed their kids.  Imagine how that’s going to go when the already high cost of food goes even higher.  How do you get to work?  What’s going to happen to the industries that rely on tourism?

But that’s a little selfish whining from some first world citizen, right?  I mean, how would you like to be a Kurd watching as the US prepares to screw you over again 30 years later?  Or any Iraqi really who lived through the last 10 years?  And if there weren’t religious extremists in the country 10 years ago, there sure are now because there is nothing that will create dangerous extremism better than instability and economic hardship.

There’s a warning there for Americans but we’ll probably be too distracted and hypnotized to realize what it is before it’s too late.

Oh, Brother

The bro comes home.  (yeah, yeah, I know it’s Fox but in this rare case, it happens to be accurate. The footage has not been digitally retouched):

Check it out here.

Cool.

**********************************

Some of the comments I’m reading are encouraging readers to jump on the “Let’s pin the Benghazi disaster on Obama right before the election!” bandwagon.  Nah gunna do it.  Here’s why:

1.) It has been our policy here at The Confluence since 2008 to not propagate either party’s memes or propaganda.

2.) In this case, it would be disrespectful of the four embassy staff who died there to cynically use their deaths as a way to score political points.  I’d rather keep the investigation free of electoral politics.  There *is* a story there and people should be held accountable if they neglectfully or knowingly ignored warnings that put these people in danger but we must weigh this against the diplomatic mission and the current events and developing situation in Libya.  That will require a thoughtful investigation so that the State department and the CIA benefit from learning what went wrong and who spilled the beans, etc.  It will NOT benefit from a cynical election year ploy to undermine the State department and foreign policy in order to disgrace Obama.  Let him take himself down, he seems to be doing a pretty good job of it without any assistance.

3.) Hillary Clinton is a big girl.  Yes, she is.  This is her job.  Let her do it.  If she gets called to Capital Hill to testify, she can handle it.  The Republicans have inadvertently screwed themselves here.  She’s a seasoned veteran of cynical, hypocritical, politically motivated investigations.  I hope they won’t call her up before the investigation is complete but even if the House Republicans rush her, I feel confident that she will do her homework and do the best that she can.  Let’s not undermine her mojo by trying to protect her.  We overcome sexism and misogynism by taking on challenges and rising to the occasion.

4.) We let Bush get away with a lot of really nasty s%^&.  He started an unnecessary war in Iraq based on lies, he and his party drained the Treasury to reward their contractor cronies, they increased the deficit, refused to “cut and run” (it doesn’t get more cynical than THAT phrase) and the whole fiasco has destabilized part of asia and cost thousands of military servicepeople their lives and limbs.  If you weren’t upset by all that by demanding accountability from Cheney and Bush but you’re getting your knickers in a twist over Benghazi, then you have your priorities seriously messed up.  You need to do some soul searching.

The foreign policy debate is coming up between Romney and Obama and I suspect that much will be made of Benghazi.  Or not.  I think this could backfire on the Republicans because there is a way for Obama and the Democrats to go on the offensive here that might win them back a bunch of Clintonistas.  It would require Obama to fake passion about something.  And that’s the problem.  He’s not a passionate guy and he doesn’t appear to believe in much of anything so any attempt at passion will look forced.  I dunno, maybe one of the debate prep team members will slap him around and knock some sense into him.  We’ll see.  But if they’ve been paying attention, they will know what to do.  This could be the Republicans third rail if they’re not careful.

Thursday: Rhetorical Talk about Rhetorical Jobs for Non-Virtual People

Words, words, words, yeah!

So, Obama gave a speech last night about removing troops from Afghanistan and bringing some home by the end of the year and blah-blah-blah.  Didn’t we hear this kind of crap before about Iraq? And how did that turn out?

Let’s examine What Obama REALLY Said last night:

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as president, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al-Qaida; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

First, we stopped combat operations in Iraq as well.  How many troops are still there?  More importantly, how many of those same troops are still under fire and presumably have to fire back?

Second, what is the definition of a “steady pace”?  100 troops per month?  1000 troops per month?  For how many months?  If planes carrying 100 troops leave Baghdad twice a week and planes carrying 300 troops leave Kabul once a week, how many months would it take to reduce the total number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by 50%?  You may use a calculator and a scratch paper to complete this problem.  Please show all work.  Partial credit will not be given for incomplete or incorrect answers.

Third, who says Obama is even going to be in office in 2014?  But more than that, are we going to increase the number of contractors and mercenary types in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace the troops we are removing?  If not, *prove* it.  If so, how much are the contractors going to cost?  Imagine Iraq and Afghanistan are cylinders of unequal height and diameter.  What must be the rate of replacement to remove US military troops from these two cylinders and refill them with Blackwater Soldiers of Fortune?  (Do saddle points make you nauseous?.)

I only ask.

As Greg Sargent notes at The Plum Line, Obama chose his words carefully to suggest that the money saved in Afghanistan would be used to solve problems here at home:

* Was Obama’s Afghanistan speech persusasive? One of the key political challenges Obama faced last night was to persuade the public that he’s winding down the war fast enough at a time when its costs are skyrocketing even as we face chronic unemployment and a fiscal mess at home. Hence his claims that “the tide of war is receeding” and that it’s time for “time for nation building here at home.”

The deliberate choice of the latter phrase seemed designed to persuade Americans that the Bush-initiated post-9/11 war era is slowly but inevitably coming to an end, in order to buy some political space to continue the mission at levels that are (not quite) acceptable to the military commanders and won’t draw sustained attacks from Republicans.

Nice try.  But one of the first things that my mom said when she heard of the drawdown bringing troops home  was “And where are THOSE people going to find jobs?”  Good question.  Barry??  Bueller?  Bueller?

A bit of a cart before the horse, eh?  Maybe the best thing to do is to propose a real jobs program for real people.  But Dave Dayan at FDL says the idea in Congress is to say the right words, sprinkle some magic fairy dust on the jobs program, whine about how mean the Republicans are and get back to ignoring the unemployed:

The Senate Democratic leadership – all of them, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Debbie Stabenow and Mark Begich – planned a morning press conference today where they will call for job creation measures, or stimulus, to be included in any debt limit deal. They will say that deficit reduction cannot bring Americans back to work, and that recent soft numbers for the economy demand that jobs get the primary attention. According to the press release “they will urge the negotiators to consider new proposals to boost hiring in the short term at the same time that they pursue a plan to bring down the debt in the long term.” The phrase “equal priority” is in there as well.

Before Democrats let the narrative completely get away from them, this was the basic idea – stimulus now, doing no harm and even helping the economy through the rough patch over the next year or two, with deficit reduction to come later. But obviously, Democrats and the White House thought that the rough patch had ended with a few decent months of job creation, and so job creation was put on the back burner, at least in the context of the debt limit talks and the deficit deal. Now, with the new numbers, it’s clear that reducing the deficit will just put the country in a bigger hole.

There’s a sense that this is mainly rhetorical. Democrats have seen Republicans obstruct even the most piddling of jobs bills in the Senate. Yesterday the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, an old Great Society program, failed to break a filibuster. The reauthorization gave just a few hundred million more to the program, and was more than offset by the successful passage of the elimination of ethanol subsidies. Republicans still didn’t vote for it. Sen. Reid said yesterday,
“I don’t like to question my colleagues’ motives, but whether they work with us to pass these policies, or continue opposing ideas they once supported, will tell us a lot.”

I guess I can tell the bank that I am going to pay the mortgage too but in a couple of months, they will realize I was just being rhetorical.  I can only hope that the foreclosure documents are rhetorical as well.  Luckily for prospective employers, the Supreme Court has now made it safe to stiff female employees in the wage department because, after all, how are you going to prove it?  We all know that enlightened management treats all employees equally regardless of gender.  Anyone who is making less must be doing something wrong, Scalia seems to say.  For the knuckle draggers, the new Supreme Court Paycheck Fairness and Non-Discrimination policy should save some money.  How very Dred Scottian of them.  Whose going to an employer now for discrimination?  Maybe Dems can use it as a selling point in the new jobs program!

In the meantime, the job prospects of the liberated R&D professional are not going to get any better for, ohhhhh, I don’t know, about 9 years?  Check out this graph that Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline found on the “Patent Cliff” for the major pharmas:

That, my droogs, is a seriously scary picture for two reasons.  (Three, actually) One, it means that there are very few new and innovative drugs coming to market that will take the place of the older, more toxic ones, and that current drug shortages should be expected to continue.  Two, it signals that the system is broken.  There have been plenty of submissions, very few approvals.  Three, it means that things won’t start leveling out for us displaced sciencey geeky types until 2020 or longer.

Now, it might be the case that a lot of little companies, and the NIH roadmap for translational research, will pick up some of this slack. But that roadmap is in its infancy, no one knows quite how to implement it and it still takes years and years to develop a drug.  The R&D professionals will be trying to tough it out in smaller companies with less modern equipment, fewer resources and lower overall compensation.  It will be like moving the clock back on research by several decades.  Yeah!  That’ll make the young’uns want to study math and science more!

My offer still stands: we’re here, Democrats and Republicans.  Give us some retired lab space, decent salaries and all the reagents we can eat and we’ll make you antibiotics, CNS drugs and work on the other therapeutic areas that the bigger companies have abandoned.  All we ask is that you get rid of the merger and acquisition folks and let us decide how to use the money without the pressure of the quarterly earnings report.  We sell the patents to the US government.  Voile!  You can’t get a better value than that.

You want to concentrate on nation building here at home?  Save your scientific infrastructure.  We can even train some troops to work in the labs.

It could happen.  And that’s not just rhetoric.  That’s a jobs program.

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