Will Political Appointees at FDA Overrule a Panel of Experts and Increase Cefepime Resistance?

In the midst of all the politics, we shouldn't lose sight of what government is really for: governing.  Take the following post in this spirit.

A few weeks ago, an FDA expert panel by a vote of 6-4 decided against the approval of the use of the antibiotic cefquinome in cattle.  Unfortunately, I've heard through the grapevine that the political appointees at the FDA plan to overrule the expert panel and approve the use of cefquinome.  The chairman of the panel is under pressure to alter the panel's findings, and the FDA has not posted the minutes of the meeting, which is apparently required by law.

About the post title:  cefepime, like cefquinome, is what is known as a fourth-generation cephalosporin antibiotic.  While cefquinome is not used to treat people, resistance to cefquinome can also confer resistance to cefepime which is a medically important antibiotic.

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If He Weren't Such a Wimp, Bush Would...

...have the balls to use the veto. Someone needs to explain to His Lordship Pontchartrain that vetoing bills is what real presidents do when they don't like legislation that the Congress passed. From The Boston Globe (italics mine):

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How's About We Signal Our Friends?

In the midst of a DailyKos post about Senator Feingold's announcement to seek censure of Bush was this little bit about Senator Frist's response:
Senator Frist who also appeared on This Week threw a restrained hissy hit and pledged that Feingold's motion would never reach the full Senate. He also added the ubiquitous treason insinuiation by claiming Feingold's motion sends a "terrible, terrible signal" to our enemies.

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What Would It Take To Filibuster?

Well, there might be some good news on the Alito front: Senators Kennedy and Kerry are seriously considering filibustering the Alito nomination. Inspired by dadahead's argument that the Democratic 'strategy' really doesn't seem any different than if the Democrats were intentionally trying to lose to the Republicans on every issue, I want to ask a simple question:

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Why the Democratic Establishment Doesn't Take the Lefty Blogosphere Seriously

After writing this a few days ago, I wasn't sure what to make of it upon further reflection. I'm not sure I'm right, but this post inspired me to float this out there for discussion: (the post originally was here).

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What Do the 'Liberal' Hawks Think Now?

This news item is interesting (and is also being reported in The Independent;  italics mine):
In a report, the group known as Platform said that oil multinationals would be paid between 74 billion pounds ($43 billion) and 194 billion pounds, with rates of return of between 42% and 162% under proposed production-sharing agreements, or PSAs.

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We Need a Two Front Approach: A Hackett Post-Mortem

Now that Paul Hackett lost his race, the inevitable incriminations will begin. The DLCers will claim that they knew all along that Hackett couldn't win, and that supporting him was a waste of time (of course, they never predicted that he would finish so strongly in a Republican stronghold). The grassroots will claim that if the DLC had supported him several months ago, he could have made Schmidt look even worse (and he would have gotten his message out more effectively). The grassroots will also claim that this is a success for the grassroots, mobilization, the internets, etc.

Wrong. We lost. A few years back, the Washington Redskins'-America's politically incorrect football team-coach used to talk about how they were "making progress." Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen once growled (probably more than once) that instead of making progress, they should try winning some football games. We won't take back the House until we win seats. Pryhhic victories don't cut it at this point.

Having said that, I would like to suggest that rather than engaging in the traditional circular firing squad, we adopt a two-prong strategy. Let the DLC and the party establishment support their 30-40 candidates that are either on the fence or could likely knock off a Republican. Meanwhile, let the grassroots support all the wildcards.

What do I mean by that? The lesson I think we should learn from Paul Hackett's race is that many Congressional races will be very close. To paraphrase the IRA, we only have to get lucky once (or actually about ten times). I figure there will be about 200 seats (maybe 180) that are low probability wins for the Democrats. We should mobilize enough cash and divvy it out to each of these candidates (and some might be excluded because they are really awful). If 500,000 Democrats on average gave $100 to such a fund, that would be roughly $250,000 per longshot candidate. We could even call it the Democratic Insurgency Fund (just kidding).

Would that outspend incumbent Republican candidates? Of course not. But it would allow Democratic challengers to lurk around, waiting for targets of opportunity. Like I said, we don't have to get lucky too often. If nothing else, this would pin down Republicans and make it harder for them to marshall their resources: congressmen would be less likely to support other party members financially because they would have to worry about their own races. As an added bonus, it would motivate the local Democratic infrastructures for both Senate and local races.

So let the DLC claim the easy victories-more power to them. Fellow grassrooters, the greater the hardship, the greater the glory.

This was cross-posted here.

Pornstars in the White House?!

I'm not making this up:

Porn star and former gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey will be joining her boss, Kick Ass Pictures president Mark Kulkis, in attending a dinner with President Bush in Washington, D.C. on June 14.

Kulkis was invited to attend the event by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which is organizing the event. Over a two-day course of NRCC events preceding the dinner, Carey and Kulkis will be attending a meeting with presidential advisor Karl Rove, giving their recommendations on important national issues.

"I'm hoping to run as Lieutenant Governor of California next year," Carey said. "Since Arnold {Schwarzenegger} is a Republican, I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me." (original source here-links to site not necessarily suitable for work)

Is this a monumental screw up, or is Bush trying to distance himself from his evangelical base?  Either way, it's unbelievable.

Dems, this is a slow pitch right over the plate.

The Death of Bipartisan Environmentalism?

The Senate passed legislation to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to drilling today. According to the BBC, for drilling to be profitable the per barrel price of oil has to be greater than at least $35-$40. I realize that oil is now trading at ~$54 per barrel, but if we're going to damage the Refuge, can't we get a better deal?

The vote split like this: 41 Democrats, one Independent, and seven Republicans were against the drilling, and three Democrats and 48 Republicans were for drilling. There's been some talk about the demise of the environmental movement.  Here's what I think killed the environmental movement: bipartisanship. For a long time, 'pro-environment' Republicans have not only been tolerated, but even supported. The problem with a 'pro-environment' Republican is that, when push comes to shove, he or she caucuses with the anti-environment Republicans. While in the short term, this bipartisan strategy might be useful for the environmental movement, in the long run, it strengthens supporters of a party that fundamentally is opposed to conservation and preservation. Imagine, if in 2002, the Democrats had controlled the Senate. Given all the investigations and legislative mischief the Democrats could have conducted, Bush might not have been re-elected.

I've made a similar argument regarding liberal opposition to anti-abortion Democrats. In a perfect world, both Democrats and Republicans would realize that our planet is circling the bowl. Right now, this isn't this case: one party is much better for the environment (Democrats) than the other (Republicans). What's frustrating is that corporations understand this: they'll lobby for something that isn't part of their particular agenda because it helps their political allies-in the long run, they expect the favor to be returned (although how much of this is 'we're all part of the team' versus DeLay's extortion tactics is debatable).

Quite simply, the environmental movement has to decide whether it will engage in political 'collective punishment.' Until the environmental movement gets this-and takes out 'pro-environment' Republicans at the fucking knees-the environmental movement is doomed to failure.

P.S.-you can also find similar ideas here.

Evolution and Politics

I know my favorite hobby horse is that evolutionary biologists (and scientists as a whole) need to be politically organized.  Today's Washington Post has the following story (italics mine):

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