Wednesday, November 29, 2017

EDC - Practical, Useful, No Guns

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Seb Gorka is a massive Dorka, but the idea behind the article was pretty interesting. What do we carry when we leave the house on a given day? I've long been a fan of the gear bag/man purse solution - every since I got my first mobile device, an Apple Newton in 1994. The idea is you don't have to locate all the different bits you want and load up your pockets, you just grab your keys and gear bag and you're off!

So this is my current gear bag of choice. It's a Maxpedition Beefy Organizer - the size of an oversized wallet, it would be perfect if it had a shoulder strap. But it's pretty close to perfect as it is.

Clipped on the front is my longstanding favorite every day carry knife, the Benchmade AFCK Mini. It's no longer made, but you can find them used and they are a superb choice. I also stuff a couple of elastic hair ties in the net pocket on the front - when they break you NEED to have a backup available.


Here it is opened up. Since the AFCK lives on the front, I've set it to one side. But you can see how neatly everything just fits inside, always easy to get to. Pocket stuffers are easy to spot - they're always digging around in their various pockets trying to find something. It's like enduring a pat-down search a dozen times a day, except you're doing it to yourself.


And here's the gear:

1.) My 'glasses'. Just 1.5x drugstore cheaters, they were given to me years ago by an old girlfriend. My eyesight isn't that bad, but by golly when you need 'em, you need 'em bad.

2.) Aformentioned and beloved Benchmade AFCK

3.) Nail Clippers. The BIG size, because they're just easier to hold onto, and they generate a very strong clipping force. Leverage and stuff.

4.) Telescoping pointer. Yep, it's old school - I went through my laser pointer period decades ago - but when you pull it out and extend it, you automatically get everyone's attention. Kids today, amiright?

5.) Tactical pen. Yes, you can write with it, and as a non-lethal self defense weapon it is utterly unrivaled. The 'point' isn't that sharp - it's not a knife - but if you use it to strike nerves,  joints or even skulls, it ends the fight in a hurry.

6.) 7 Power monocular telescope. I'd love to carry a pair of binoculars - being able to see things a block away is remarkably useful - but obviously they're too big and heavy to be part of a gear bag. The monoculars are of good optical quality and are plenty small and light to always have one with you.

7.) Power brick. It's a gotta have. This is a 10,000 amp/hour battery that can charge my phone five times. It's one of the great insurance policies you can buy.

8.) Kubaton. Simple aluminum cylinder, you can really 'punch above your weight' when you have one of these and know a few weird tricks.

9.) Pillz. Yes, I take pillz. A lot of pillz. If I'm going to be gone for more than an hour, I want to have the requisite pillz (and coffee beans!) with me.

10.) Smiths PP1 Multifunction sharpener. Knives need maintenance. This has both ceramic and carbide guides depending on the condition of the blade in question. Plus a hone for serrated blades. It's indispensable.

11.) This is a cheap little Gerber folding knife. I once bought like a dozen of them - this is the last one I have. I don't like to use the Benchmade for the more 'industrial' tasks, so the Gerber is my box cutting type tool. After the Battle of Cupertino, I was searched, searched again and taken to the jail. It was only then I realized that they had missed the little Gerber I had tucked in my elastic wristband. Believe me, THAT was a delicate negotiation!

12.) Simple little flashlight. One AAA battery. Nothing special, but it lights things up when it's dark, and it's easy to carry.

13.) Earbuds. I got these with the soft rubber cups, because the hard plastic ones hurt my fragile ears. They sound good, and they work great for both phone calls and music.

14.) Hairbrush. When your hair is measured in feet, not inches, a comb is of zero practical use. A decent little hairbrush with strong rubber spikes keeps things neat and orderly.

So there you have it. No guns, not tourniquets, no alpha-male signalling. Just the things I want to have with me, all in one place, effortless.

Please feel free to post your EDC in comments. Let's see what other people (who are not me) do.
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Good Friends We Had, Good Friends We Lost Along the Way

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Sometimes Farce, Sometimes Tragedy
I've been researching, studying and writing about politics and economics (you can't separate 'em) since the 'soft coup' in 2000 that put the Odious GW Bush in power. There are a lot of people I've come to like and respect in the process, but every now and then one of them gets lost, reaches the worst, most inaccurate conclusions and just stops thinking, learning and listening. It always saddens me when it happens - it's not like I have an infinite supply of friends, especially not thoughtful, well-read and insightful ones who I can learn from. But I bring with me a set of rules, and I can't imagine trying to understand the chaotic and maddening political landscape without sticking to them no matter what.

1.) No false equivalences. Things can be in a category - there can also be category errors - but each thing brings its own set of context, and offers a different set of conclusions. When you advocate 'one-size-fits-all' solutions, you don't end up solving anything.

2.) No fantasies. There are things that are possible constitutionally, and there are things that are possible politically. The conversation HAS TO be held within those parameters. If you want to shriek SOCIALISM, if you want to destroy capitalism, if you demand a massive government program like publicly-funded single payer universal health care without at least learning enough to know what you'll have to overcome to deliver it, if you expect the very people who benefit from greed and corruption to eliminate greed and corruption from the political process - if these are the kinds of political goals you espouse, we're having two different conversations.

4.) The rules matter. If you don't like your party's candidate selection/nomination process, you can try to change it. But bear in mind that there are longstanding vested interests in that process, and until you can change it those are the rules of the game we're playing. We should continue to point out the rules that make no sense - disproportionate representation of rural states in the Senate, the Electoral College, etc - but we can't pretend we can ignore them or eliminate them in the short term.

5.) Politicians are dishonest. Pundits and scholars CANNOT be. If you can't come up with an actual viable argument for the policies you like, lying is not an acceptable option. Neither is pretending I said something I didn't say so you can argue against THAT. If an honest analysis demonstrates that your policy doesn't do what you claim, you don't get to invoke magic. You either have to accept the analysis and try to argue around it, or you have to change your policy.

Ultimately, the point of public policy as it plays out as politics is not to win so much as to make the lives of people in the community - constituents - better than they were. But every now and then, people on either side can 'lose their mind' and they often become obsessively focused on one arbitrary issue, typically attacking those on their own side of the center for a perceived lack of ideological purity or less than fanatical support for a particular extreme set of actions.

I've seen liberals I liked become so deeply enmeshed in anger over decisions made in Washington that they develop a burning hatred for their own country. Does the US do some bad things? Absolutely. Is the US (or banks, or pharma, or insurance companies, or {fill in the blank} the root of all evil in the world? Nope. Not even close. When you lose sight of global realities, you become a sad caricature, a laughable dancing bear. Look at Glenn Greenwald. Don't be like Glenn.

I wanted to talk about this a little bit, because this week I walked away from a friend I've liked and admired for a long time. But he's become so focused on tearing down the Democratic party, its institutions and the establishment left in general that you can no longer have an interesting or even rational conversation with him. There's a large contingent of the post-Bernie left that never got over the Democratic Primary, but with the government our system has allowed to form after the 2016 election, if we can't unite against the hatred, greed and corruption of the Republican party at this point, we're doomed.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

20/20 Vision

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It seems abundantly clear at this point that as long as the American government is controlled by the Trump/Ryan nexus, Democrats are going to have a significant popular advantage throughout the electorate. Between the embarrassing, buffoonish Trump with a demonstrated disinterest in policy and process, and the almost comic-book villain personification of Ryan as he pursues Republican policy goals that are universally loathed by 80% of the electorate, the political ads just write themselves and in all but the reddest constituencies (you know, the racist ones) and the Democratic candidate starts with a powerful built-in advantage.

I still don't think the Democrats will recapture the majority in the House of Representatives, but it's hard to imagine they can't re-take the Senate and significantly tighten up the House. And with another year to go, Trump (or Mueller) could easily change the dynamic so even the House is in play.

But seriously. We need to start thinking about 2020. In the run-up to 2016, there were people who said that maybe it would be best in the longer-term if Trump were to win, burn the existing structures to the ground, and open the way for a liberal government to truly take power. I thought this was a horrible idea - certainly plausible, but it just seemed to me the costs would still be too high, no matter the longer term outcome. Well, as it turns out we ended up with this experiment in political destruction by government incompetence and corruption, so what the hell. Maybe it will all turn out for the better.

But we need to think seriously about candidates. It's true - I'll grudgingly admit - that Hillary Clinton was not a great politician. She ended up in a leadership role almost accidentally, did a wonderful job in her political roles, but faced with a relentless non-stop attack from both the Republican Party and the media, attacks that were encouraged by an effective cyber-influence campaign operated by a foreign adversary, and ultimately brought down by a federal police force that wanted to end Democratic leadership in the White House, a victory might have been just a little more than we could have expected. And even with that, she won the election, only losing by a tiny rounding error worth of votes that happened to be in exactly the right place. We have to do better.

I don't like Bernie Sanders. I think he's a flim-flam man, a fast talker who happens to share (to the extent we actually know them) my preferred policy goals. But he shows no interest in the details, and he's afraid to even suggest funding or regulatory details because he's terrified he'll be challenged on them. His government funded universal free health care for all is a nice little slogan, but he never engaged honestly with how he'd pass it, how he'd fund it and how he'd implement it. His numbers were clearly wrong, but when asked about that he attacked rather than engaged. I don't really like Paul Ryan, and a liberal Paul Ryan doesn't do much more for me. We have to do better.

I'm a politics geek, a gearhead who looks at policy function, economic distributional outcomes and effective government intervention in the private sector. I don't have any idea who the Dems should nominate - particularly in light of the chaos and suspicious swirling around the Republicans that obscures who their candidate might be - but I do think it's a conversation we need to be having. I don't believe we need to move radically to the left - most Democrats, if they had the power, would pass effective, liberal, technocratic legislation that would solve problems without disastrous unintended consequences. A big key will be nominating the anti-Trump - a clean, brilliant, well-spoken professional without a whiff of corruption. Yeah, another Barack Obama. He's proof that we CAN do better.

There will be challenges in 2020, but they won't be ideological. Trump will have thoroughly destroyed the 'conservative' brand, and most any Democratic candidate should win any race not dominated by racists. One big key will be keeping the Russians from driving the narrative. Another - related in many ways to the first - will be making sure that the primary elections and nominating process aren't used to divide the Democratic vote.

Mainly, we have to recognize 2016 for the outlier that it was. The longer we on the left continue to rend our garments and re-litigate the primary, accuse each other of everything from dishonesty and corruption to socialism and something nebulous we call 'neo-liberalism' (which is apparently bad), the less we will be able to take advantage of the tailwinds that Trump is creating and intensifying. He's a clear and present danger, and we need to come together and agree that replacing him with a Democrat with as much legislative power as possible is critically important.
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Friday, November 3, 2017

The End of Physics?

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Our story so far...
Point 1.) The Large Hadron Collider in Europe, with a budget of almost eight billion euros, is the most powerful particle accelerator/collider in the world. It was built to replace FermiLab's Tevatron, the previous most powerful collider. Best known for discovering the Top Quark in 1983, the Tevatron was improved over its twenty year lifespan, eventually reaching collision energies of 1.8TeV (trillion electron volts) by colliding protons and anti-protons at 9oo GeV each. But it was recognized quite early on that, based on our understanding of the Standard Model, much higher collision energies and luminosity (essentially, the number of collisions recorded over a given period of time) were going to be necessary. When the US government cancelled the SSC being built in Texas in 1993, CERN's proposal to build the LHC was adopted and funded. After some frustrating delays, the LHC began it's initial run in 2009, with the intention to ramp up to collision energies of 13 TeV in 2015. The goal was to find out what could be learned about the fundamental characteristics of matter at energies and densities similar to what was extant in the immediate aftermath of the big bang. Specifically, the Higgs Boson, Dark Matter and Supersymmetry were expected to be discovered or disproved, and at long last the Standard Model would be completed.

Point 2.) The Standard Model can be comfortably thought of as the most successful failed theory in the history of physics. Every single prediction it makes has been proven, and yet we KNOW it is brutally incomplete. If we accept that gravity is one of the fundamental forces (along with electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force), then we need to understand both how it is mediated and why it is so much weaker than the other forces. While the discovery of the Higgs Boson filled out the last box in the Standard Model, we are left with no operational theory of quantum gravity, and no clue as to what most of our universe is made of.

So now we're nearing the end of the 2017 data run at LHC. The joyful discovery of the Higgs is years behind us. And once again, despite some tantalizing events that turned out to be mere statistical anomalies, we come away with nothing. No Graviton. No dark matter. No Supersymmetric particles. No surprises, nothing that tells us anything beyond what we already know. And nothing to help us fill in the pieces we KNOW are missing. If gravity is a force, the gravitational field has to be mediated by a quantum force carrier. We KNOW that's how it works, but if we can't find that 'graviton', we can't understand gravity.

Meanwhile, outside the realm of CERN, physicists are just lost, stumbling around in the darkness. Without a ten billion dollar machine, they have no idea where to look for new discoveries. We've spent decades watching theoretical physicists indulge in the worst form of academic masturbation, creating dense, elegant mathematics that make no predictions and cannot be tested experimentally. Between string theory, inflationary cosmology and Supersymmetry, the larges portion of working physicists today aren't even doing science. They're working on unfalsifiable speculation that leads off in silly, pointless, untestable directions like the multiverse, or worse, that our entire universe is somehow just a digital simulation.

The way science is supposed to work is that the theorists postulate a theory, and the experimental scientists and engineers develop ways to test the predictions that the theory makes. If they start finding actual evidence that supports the theory, it gets plugged into the larger base of knowledge to make sure it fits in all the corners and doesn't fall apart at certain energies or conditions. Once enough evidence is gathered for the theory, it becomes accepted science. But that's just the beginning. Accepted science is boring. Now the theorists go back to work, trying to 'break' the theory - to find a reason why what we THINK we know is wrong. Because if we get something wrong, that means there's more to learn.

All of which brings us back to the Standard Model. We KNOW it's wrong - or at least incomplete. We know what it tells us, and we know there are things it's NOT telling us. And that's with a ten billion dollar mega-machine churning away at the problem. So whither physics? What happens if we learn nothing of consequence for years to come? How do you do fundamental research when the basic cost of knowledge is beyond your species willingness to pay the cost of 'basic science'? How do we get from where we are to the next discovery when we do not have the equipment to do the experiments? And, of course, what if we, as a species, decided to spend $25 or 30 billion on a new collider at much higher energies, and nothing changed?

I find it sad and frustrating to be living in such an amazing time, a time when we understand so much that no human ever understood before, and yet we seem to have no path forward. We're seeing breakthrough science in machine intelligence, computing power, data analytics and robotics, and that's both interesting and life changing. But we're stuck with the nagging thought that big science has picked all the low-hanging fruit and left us here, wondering what is just beyond the limits of our ability to discover it. And scientists keep going off in weirder and weirder directions because they don't have any way to do new science today.
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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Social Goddam Media - Somebody Really Should DO Something...

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Watch your ass, Jesus,
she's got a BIG right hand
Russian intelligence agencies have not been sleeping for the last ten years. They have been watching the political and ideological polarization in western democracies, and they have noted the opening that provided a skilled and prolific propagandist in in the age of the internet. They understood Wikileaks, they understood Infowars, they understood the power that gave them to guide the narrative. But then, with the unfettered power to publish professional (or not-so-professional - it turns out it doesn't really matter) looking narratives directly to targeted audiences provided by Facebook and Twitter (among so many others), they discovered how easy it was to actually shape the domestic narrative. They found that by pushing made-up stories through Social Media, they could actually drive the entire American news cycle. That's right, they paved a direct highway from troll/bot farm to Fox News and MSNBC.

There's a number of reasons they chose to support Trump, but it's not unreasonable to consider that 2016 was a proof of concept exercise, an opportunity for 'live fire' testing of a new and powerful weapon of destabilization. Putin has long been furious with Bill Clinton's manipulation of the drunken and mentally debilitated Boris Yeltsin in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union. He also angrily - but carefully - observed the US sponsored 'Color Revolutions' in Georgia and Ukraine, and planned to defeat the Americans at their own information game. When Trump came along, with his nativist, nationalist and isolationist rhetoric, he was the obvious vessel to support with a full-spectrum cyber-campaign that might help him destabilize the EU and weaken NATO.

So the hackers used advanced phishing techniques to steal information, while the paid trolls and bots spread story after story smearing Clinton and encouraging anger and humiliation among Berniecrats.  Altogether, it was a quite effective campaign, using stolen data to amplify false narratives in a way that could be targeted against any set of demographic characteristics.

And now everybody's pissed.

So, with the next election a year away, what is to be done? Well, for all the spittle-flecked hatred being flung at the leadership of Facebook and Twitter, you'd think it would just be a matter of some bipartisan legislation banning them from...what, exactly? Political speech? Dishonest posts? Foreigners? Hmmm, maybe this isn't quite as easy as we thought.

Suppose we were aware of - and worried about - the power of social media to amplify specific messages and agendas long before the events of 2016 transpired? Well, that's problematic, because that phrase - "amplify specific messages" - is precisely the goal of online advertising. The platform was built to provide carefully segmented, highly targeted access to paying customers. The owners of the platform rely on those revenues, and would not set out to intentionally cripple them, regardless of the larger risk they represent. And a platform that goes around deleting posts and banning users isn't going to be successful for very long - the market would soon produce a platform who's sole raison d'ĂȘtre would be "we let you post and read what YOU want". Can you imagine ANY effective action that could have been taken to prevent an adversary nation from using social media tools like Facebook to undermine our democratic processes?

What role do we want government to take in limiting our exposure to propaganda? One thing I DO know - if you silence someone I hate, I'm happy, but if you silence ME (or someone I agree with) I'm furious. But that dynamic sort of prevents any action at all, doesn't it? Of course, Facebook isn't the government, so you have no absolute right of free speech on a digital communication platform, but what is the attraction of a platform like that when it seems to silence anyone at any time for anything? Wouldn't we immediately seek a platform that let us share our thoughts and beliefs without keeping such a heavy thumb on the topic scale?

Nobody's going to like it, but I know what the answer is. Foreign governments are going to have to become a little more careful in how they deliver targeted propaganda on social media platforms - hiding sources of funding, using better writers and grammar, perhaps being a little more selective in choosing false narratives - but beyond that, this is now a core feature of western democratic politics. From Brexit to Berlin, Washington to Paris, some of the most effective activists will be rabble-rousing on Facebook, and there's nothing that can be done that doesn't make the situation worse.
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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Magic Number

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We're going to have to deal with THESE people
One of the key lessons we learn as adults is the simple universal fact that "every action has consequences". As we move from childhood to adulthood, we discover that when we act impulsively, no matter how clear the short-term win might be, there are often unanticipated outcomes that make things worse for us than they were. To at least some extent we learn the value of 'thinking things through', trying to game out the unintended and second-order consequences of any given action, and revising our activities based on the conclusions of that process. And, of course, the larger the decision, the larger the benefits, the larger also are the consequences of acting on that decision.

All of which brings us to President Donald J. Trump. As the Special Prosecutor announced the first indictments of the investigation, and as Trump acts more and more delusionally and unpredictably, the calls for some kind of Constitutional process (or, in some cases, extra-constitutional process) for removing him from office get louder and more strident. It seems completely reasonable, perhaps even likely, that at least one of these actions will be implemented before the end of his term in January of 2021. Let's think through at least some of the possible consequences.

Trump has a built-in 35% support among the national electorate. That's nowhere near enough to win an election - but when we start talking about options for removing him from office, it is more than enough to destroy American democracy. How do you suppose this 'base' - people who have watched the first year of the Trump administration in all it's chaos, incompetence and corruption and still think he's the best president EVER - would react to the long, slow, grinding impeachment process, let alone the arbitrary and difficult 25th Amendment process? And do we believe, even for a moment, that Trump would sit back and allow these processes - which he would certainly view as 'attacks' on him and his family - to play out unimpeded?

Remember those rallies that formed the basis of the Trump presidential campaign? The undertones of hatred, bigotry and violence radiated from them like heat waves, with his most loyal supporters only a single word or phrase away from lashing out? Let's imagine a rally in, say, Mobile, Alabama, in early 2019. Articles of impeachment have been voted out of the House and the Trial is set for the Senate. Now you have a beleaguered Trump and his loyal supporters, angry and with a clear enemy. The attacks on the press and the Democrats and any Republicans that voted in favor of impeachment would make all that has gone before look like playground antics.

And then what? After impeachment, Trump is embarrassed, furious, filled with a seething rage and desire for revenge. Does anyone really think that he would hold back from encouraging everything from riots to outright insurrection? This 'base' of Trump's is somewhere between 50 and 60 million Americans, with at least 35 million who can be considered the hardcore center of whatever 'Trumpism' is. And to them it is victimization, anger, hostility and a carefully cultivated sense of existential angst. With the encouragement of the man himself, unmoored and with nothing left to lose, any hope of governance, any hope of a peaceful election in November 2020 is gone. All bets are off, and we won't come out of it the same nation we went into it.

If the process isn't impeachment, but rather the exercise of the 25th amendment, we know less about what we would see. The 25th has never been exercised before, and there would be a lot of guesswork and challenges to the process. And Trump would still have his bully pulpit, right through the entire effort. If the effort failed, you would have an unhinged, angry President with all the available power of his office looking for revenge. If it succeeded, you would have the same net outcome as you would post-impeachment: A wounded animal in a rage, with millions of equally enraged followers, all in the run-up to another attempt at a democratic transfer of presidential power.

Ultimately, I have no recommendations. Leaving him in power is a clear and present danger, not just to millions of lives and livelihoods, but to American small-d democracy itself. Removing him from power may be the thing that puts an end to the American experiment in liberal democracy. The things we've seen over the last twenty five years - from the media, from the GOP and in the technological changes that enabled so much more political manipulation - have led us to this point. We have truly 'painted ourselves into a corner', and there's just no solution that leaves things intact. It's impossible to see a path from here to 2021 that gives one any hope. But no matter what we do, we mustn't ever stop thinking. Indulging in a feel-good political undertaking without a clear idea of how the story ends is even more dangerous than the status quo.
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Saturday, October 21, 2017

With a Little Help From My Friends

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And This Time It's Legal
The thing that must be understood first is that our cyclical drug 'epidemics' are ALWAYS driven by supply. That is to say, there is not a pent-up demand for a certain drug waiting for the underground economy to supply it to broad portions of the population. Instead, somebody finds a way to bring very large supplies of a certain drug into the US and widely distribute that drug to cities and towns across the nation. Whether it was the Crack Cocaine epidemic of the 80s, the Methamphetamine epidemic of the Oughts, or the still ongoing Opioid epidemic, the underlying economic principle is backwards from most markets. It is the supply itself that creates the demand. The thing that makes the Opioid epidemic so pernicious is that the supply is not created by criminal elements, and there is no smuggling required. No, these drugs, and the demand for them that is killing and immiserating so many Americans are perfectly legal. They are produced very cheaply in massive numbers by regular pharmaceutical companies, and distributed through the normal channels to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies in every community in the US.

In many cases, I will often take the position that what the federal government does is unimportant and only marginally effective. Federal incarceration, is only a small percentage of overall incarceration, and nothing done at the federal level will have any impact on how criminal justice is meted out in the states. Similarly, in the case of education, while the federal government provides some funding, states by far have the most to say about how educational institutions are operated, and at what cost.

But this is a different matter. The FDA has complete control on how these drugs are manufactured and distributed, and working through the DEA they can prevent at least the most egregious misallocation of these kind of highly addictive drugs through the system. One of the most problematic parts of the supply chain is a local pharmacy that seeks to profit from the sales of Opioid drugs like Oxycontin, rather than to act in a manner that is responsible to the people of their community. Their greed is destroying communities all over the US. But at least we have the Government to step in and control these kinds of abuses, right?

Not so fast. When Donald Trump nominated Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to be Drug Czar, the press started looking into his history, especially with the Pharmaceutical industry. And sure enough, it turns out that he took over a hundred thousand dollars from Big Pharma, and acted on those contributions. Working directly with industry lobbyists - many of them former FDA and DEA inspectors and investigators, hired by the industry for huge salaries - Marino drove the passage of a law that brilliantly concealed its ultimate purpose. The law seemed so benign that it passed congress by unanimous consent - no voting required. It was only after its passage that the DEA discovered how it tied their hands when they discovered excesses that were clearly criminal.

One of the small-town pharmacies they detected as being a criminal drug distribution center was in Kermit, West Virginia, population 392. That single pharmacy ordered - and received - 9 MILLION pills in just two years. The DEA saw the reports, and wanted to investigate that pharmacy, but Tom Marino's law blocked them from doing so. And people died.

Of course, Marino, once exposed, could never be confirmed as 'Drug Czar', so he took himself out of the running. But we still need effective federal action to limit the greed-driven excessive shipments without limiting access to necessary treatment for pain. Big pharma - especially McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen - makes tens of billions of dollars on these drugs, and will resist anything that reduces those profits. Just like the gun lobby, the pharmaceutical industry has concluded that the profits are worth the loss of life, and the ruination of so many peoples lives, and will continue to push for ways to put MORE opioids into circulation, not less.

Watch congress closely. There is a lot of talk about the 'Opioid Crisis', but not a lot of action. Any action will take immense political courage, because the industry is a powerful foe. And if we've learned anything over the last ten years, it is that congress can bloviate and pose with the best of them, and at the end of the day do nothing. Once again, the personal risk to the individual lawmakers is of much deeper concern than the millions of American lives at risk.
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