PHARMA BASKET

If you did take a flier with the basket of three speculative stocks suggested here . . . DEPO, DYAX, INCY . . . and if you did take some or all your profit in INCY as suggested most recently here . . . then guru suggests you might want to replace it with a new third egg (or, leg, if your basket is stool-shaped): DCTH ($5.37 yesterday). As always, only with money you can truly afford to lose.

TALL POLITICIANS

John Cutrer: ‘He won because he’s handsome and taller? Are you serious? You may not think this election was about Obama’s massive expansion of the government’s role in our lives, but consider that Massachusetts overwhelmingly votes Democrat and, moreover, this was the hallowed Kennedy seat. And you still think Brown won because he was tall and handsome? I have to think if your argument is true that the Republicans would have seized on the idea of running tall candidates years ago, the Democrats would have responded, and we would all be governed by basketball players now.’

☞ Finally, electeds we could look up to.

But c’mon. Without discounting the anger out there (I’ll get to that), let’s turn it around. Imagine Brown had been aloof, had chosen not to stand outside factories on cold mornings shaking hands, had taken a week’s vacation shortly before the election, had not known who the Red Sox stars were – and that Coakley had done all the retail politics stuff with warmth and humor and passion. Would Brown still have done so well? My guess is: no. I didn’t say non-policy factors like these were the only reason he won; I just suggested they might have been part of it – as I think they surely were.

Certainly, lots of people voted for Brown for the reasons you cite. But quite a few traditional Dems stayed home because they’re frustrated and angry the President hasn’t pushed for more government involvement e.g., single-payer health care or ‘the public option’ or ‘Medicare for all’ – not because they wanted him to shoot for less.

Katya: ‘I’ve been voting almost exclusively Democratic since I’ve been eligible to vote and I find your remarks extremely inappropriate and degrading to the whole voting/democracy process. Coakley’s loss (and it was her loss, not Brown’s win) was about the inability of Democrats to govern despite having majorities in both chambers and the presidency. The Democrats must learn to govern more effectively and they must rethink their approach to healthcare, including not only broader coverage, but tackling the hard issues like interstate competition, tort reform, removing the sponsorship of employer-based coverage, etc. Yes, this would go against their lobbyists, but that is the only right thing to do.’

☞ I agree with a lot of this, including the need for some reasonable tort reform; but would note, first, that neither Obama nor the DNC accepts a dime from federal lobbyists – McCain did and the RNC does. It would be great if Congress, too, removed federal lobbyist money from the process. But while it’s there, it’s there, which adds to the difficulty of getting good legislation passed on its merits. So the irony is – second – that electing Martha Coakley would have made it easier for the President to govern effectively, while electing Brown has made it harder. This is particularly true because the Republican goal appears to be Democratic Waterloo.

I’m angry, too, but not at the Obama Administration. I’m angry that Wyoming’s half a million residents have as many Senators as California’s 36 million – what idiot came up with that? I’m angry that the opposition party has shattered all records for use of the filibuster, basically requiring 60 votes for anything; and that it would take 67 votes to change that rule – but I don’t blame Obama for that. I’m angry that gerrymandering has so polarized the House of Representatives; and that decades of right-wing talk radio has so polarized and demagogued a large portion of the electorate. I’m angry George W. Bush turned ‘budget surpluses as far as the eye could see’ into the largest budget deficits the world has ever known – by far – having won office by promising a tax cut ‘the vast majority of which’ he knew would go to people at the top yet claimed would go to ‘people at the bottom’ … and by advocating ‘a humble foreign policy’ knowing all the while he would be looking for an excuse to take us to war with Iraq. (Just ten days into his presidency, and long before 9/11, Iraq was the only topic on the agenda of his very first National Security Council meeting.) I’m angry that the Secretary of the Treasury in 1974, in the wake of OPEC, looked me in the eye and told me that, yes, ‘everybody knows’ we should be phasing in an annual hike in gasoline taxes (using that revenue to lower income taxes) – a policy that by now would have made all the difference in the world – but that we couldn’t do it because, he said, any talk of raising taxes would be political suicide. (Imagine: at 10 cents a gallon added each of the last 35 years, gasoline would now cost here about half what it does in Europe; yet in the meantime we would have cut our income tax rates to reward work and investment even as we would have dramatically increased our fuel efficiency . . . which in turn would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, reduced our balance of trade deficit, strengthened the dollar, made our families more prosperous, our environment less burdened, our auto industry thrive.) I’m angry that tens of millions of voters can be misled into thinking it was Iraq that attacked us on 9/11. I’m angry that Charles and I are denied equal rights. I’m angry that we weren’t tougher or smarter during 2000’s Florida Recount and that rightwing Justices molded their opinion to their politics. I’m angry that regulation was not brought to bear on ‘liar’s loans’ or derivatives and that Wall Street was given leave to operate at leverage ratios of 30 to 1.

And don’t even get me started on how angry I am at Joe Lieberman. But the point is, the Obama Administration inherited all this. And the opposition – which cheers when we lose our bid for the Olympics – wants to see him fail.

So to my friends who are angry that we haven’t made as much progress in this first year as we had hoped – although we have actually made a lot (see tomorrow’s column) – I say: keep the faith. Now is the time to redouble our support of the Administration, because the stronger its hand, the more completely it will be able to achieve the goals we all share.

And to my friends who think the anger abroad in the land means that we should do less rather than more, I respectfully suggest that this anger is rooted not so much in any specific economic analysis as in: the devastation of job loss; justified alarm over the economic hole we’re in; and the difficulty of having to make do on wages that shrank in real terms throughout the Bush years even as multi-millionaires saw giant annual bonuses and giant tax cuts.

So to them I say: try to find some faith. The President and his team get it. And it is the Democratic Party – which gave us Social Security and Medicare and the minimum wage and Americorps and the GI Bill and the Family and Medical Leave Act and worker safety regulation and the S.E.C. and the F.D.I.C., almost all of which the G.O.P. opposed – that truly looks out for ‘Joe the Plumber,’ even to the occasional discomfiture of the moneyed elite.

Have we done enough? No. Is one of the reasons for this that the opposition has done all it can to keep us from doing enough? Yes. Filibuster after filibuster after filibuster.

Steve S.: ‘I just want to share my perspective on the Scott Brown victory. In a word, fairness. Our team has not aggressively asserted and convinced the nation that our President’s agenda is about restoring fairness in the economic and social welfare of the nation. Main Street believes nothing has changed. Bankers are back at it, government jobs won out over private sector job creation through the stimulus bill, etc. (A second stimulus bill is needed for private sector job creation exclusively focused on education, technology investment, and infrastructure.) President Obama and our Democrats have already delivered on equal pay for women, but you would never know it happened. The essence of health care is about fairness (elimination of precondition exclusion, cost control, etc.). Unfair credit card practices have been outlawed starting next month. I could go on. We just need to get out in front setting the tone of the debate. Main Street needs to see and feel our passion for fairness. I continue to believe in what we are trying to do and you can count on me for my continued support.’

 

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