Matt Stoller notes a new (and welcome) development in the antitrust war: our Justice Department's declared intention to pursue criminal charges in antitrust cases. Our DOJ hasn't done this for more than 40 years, and when you find out that Robert Bork is largely to blame for that, you won't be very surprised. You may be surprised to learn that the late Judge Bork considered "unionized labor" itself to be a form of price-fixing! That he was against taking action against price-fixing is no comfort there. (I probably should have hesitated to use the word "war" in the first paragraph -- but then, our reactionary U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it a "war" first. And given how much absurdly-high corporate profits have to do with inflation, that's a "war" they're waging against all Americans.)
So what's the big secret to how big pharma continually squashes drug pricing reform even though literally almost everyone in America wants it? You know, besides all the money they spend on ads and on buying politicians' votes? "No victory is ever secure, no policy seedling too small not to be treated as a full-blown existential threat," writes Alexander Zaitchick at New York magazine; thus we hear that even a mild reform like the original H.R. 3 from the last Congress "would plunge medical science into a 'nuclear winter.'" Perhaps you read that as a description of the landscape rather than a threat, but it's a threat, and if we (for example) let the pandemic induce us to yield to that threat, that'd be damn un-American. I mean, if we're going to be the can-do country, we should be able to create new treatments and not price-gouge. (Read the whole thing, though, so you can see how truly abominable big pharma's games are.)
I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised that after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for someone in Russia to be a "Brutus" or "a more successful Col. Stauffenberg" to maybe assassinate Vladimir Putin, no less a personage than Ted Cruz took to Twitter right away to say what a bad idea that was! Until I saw that Laura Ingraham agreed that Sen. Graham's call was "dangerous and stupid," and I remembered that right-wingers all loved themselves some Putin until very, very recently. By and large, though, this is drama: right-wingers pretending to "disagree" always is.
Here's some good news: workers at a SoHo, Manhattan REI store voted to form a union last week, despite yet another anti-union propaganda campaign waged by their employer. That's some 100 stores behind Starbucks, and that's one REI store out of 165 (as of late 2020); REI also has a big mail-order and internet footprint as well, and believe it or not it still takes people to run those things, people who also deserve better from their employer. But I wish the SoHo workers the best of luck in their quest to get better pay and better working conditions, and I hope they'll tell their stories to the REI employees who want to organize their locations, too.
When I hear that 10 far-right Republican Senators want to hold up appropriations bills unless they get a vote on an amendment to defund President Biden's remaining vaccine mandates, all I can say is sure, you guys want to keep whining about vaccine mandates, go right ahead. The minority you represent may be louder than everyone else, but you are still in the minority, and many, many more Americans are sick of you than used to be the case. Of course Rick "Soak the Poor" Scott is one of them. Doesn't Rick Scott know by now how many people hate his guts? When you've won three elections but you got over 49% in only one of them, you should have a little more humility. (Hate to pile on, but in that one race, his 2018 Senate race, he got 50.1%; how does a man ride "presiding over hurricane relief as a Governor" to barely half-plus-one?)
Finally, former two-term Maine Governor Paul LePage says he's running for a third term because, dig this, "I am absolutely convinced that if we continue to hate each other, if we don't find a path to at least like each other and respect each other, our country is in for doom. Our constitution will not survive. We need to find a path to have civil discourse so we can talk both sides of the argument." Kudos to NBC News Center Maine for asking him a direct and blunt question about his past behavior, and for asking a decent follow-up question which tells us everything we need to know about Paul LePage's "new leaf": invited to say Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has done something right in office, he starts yammering on about socialism! Remember: the only reason people like Paul LePage start singing kumbaya is because they know they're wrong, and they know everyone else knows they're wrong, and if you find yourself in that predicament, don't you have to ask what you could have done differently?