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No "Compassionate Conservatives" Here

Reported by Nancy - December 23, 2004 -

On "Special Report" last night (12/22), the All-Star panel (Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke & Ron Williams) discussed the situation in Iraq & the issue of prescription drug (re-)importation. Kudos to Williams for standing his ground, even though his views were not well-received by the rest of the panel.

At 6:20pm (all times ET), Brit Hume interviewed Jeff Birnbaum (WaPo) about Franklin Raines resignation from Fannie Mae & the problems that agency is facing. Hume asked good straightforward questions, Birnbaum explained the workings of Fannie Mae clearly. The bottom line & the reason this is a political issue, according to Birnbaum, is that people who buy securities from Fannie Mae believe that the federal govt will back those securities, but that's not true.
Comment: This was informative & possibly useful, but I found it irritating because I have no patience with "investors" who don't bother to read the fine print or thoroughly check out what they're investing in, & then cry foul. One good side effect might be that anyone who was paying attention might reconsider their enthusiasm for any of the Bush administration's "privatization" scams.

In the "Grapevine" segment opening the second half of the program, Hume included the following: 1-Powell interview with Paris Match bashes France; 2-Canadian govt approved first visa applications for Americans leaving the US; 3-US bans Hezbollah TV station al-Manar; 4-Israeli security tactics (wall) result in significant drop in terror attacks this year, according to the Jerusalem Post

At 6:38pm, Jeff Goldblatt reported a story about students wanting to open a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school in Boyd County, KY. The school banned the group, the ACLU sued & there was a court settlement. The school then instituted "mandatory tolerance training" but more than 1/3 of students declined to attend & now there's another lawsuit.
Comment: what is this report doing on "Special Report", a program that allegedly deals with topics of national & international importance?

At 6:42pm, following a clip of Rumsfeld saying "how deeply I feel their loss", Hume & the All-Stars (Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, Ron Williams) discussed the situation in Iraq [comment: there was no reason to play this clip as a lead-in to this segment, except to give Rumsfeld more free air time]. Hume noted that the military now believe that it was a suicide bomber in Mosul, not a rocket attack, & asked "how big an event" this was. Kondracke said it clearly didn't "help the cause", but it's not like 1968 was a turning point in Vietnam or the 1983 Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, because this "war hasn't been going on that long". He did admit that the public "is now slightly against the war". Williams said he doesn't "think we're at the Vietnam stage yet", we have to have elections so Iraqis can have stable govt & we can have the prospect of an end to the war. He noted that the military claims that operations in Fallujah & Najaf succeeded in "breaking the back of the insurgency" but "you wouldn't know it" by what's going on now. Barnes dismissed the ongoing problems, saying there was "always gonna be a high level of violence before, during & after the election," He trotted out the old saw that "Tet was misreported by the press, Cronkite in particular." He said the insurgents are trying to do 3 things: 1) break the US will; 2) attacks in Najaf & other "sacred places" to try to stir up civil war; & 3) they want to convince Iraqis not to vote. He said "there is no civil war there", & the "Shiites have been extremely tolerant" of the ongoing violence. Williams pointed out that there's a "high level of instability" while Kondracke said "some" Sunnis want to postpone the election but "even the NYTimes" didn't go that far. Williams said talking about election is "wishful thinking when you see the peristent violence" & the "growth of the insurgency" & you look at the "disapproval" numbers. Barnes said we just "re-elected a president who's not gonna cut & run" & Williams replied "nobody's talking about cut & run".

The second topic for the panel was the (re-)importing of prescription drugs. Hume led off by showing a clip of Thompson saying it will cost more to make sure imported drugs are safe, & asked what the panel thought was the underlying issue. Barnes immediately said "safety" & cited a CBO study from last summer that he claimes showed that "if you have a full-blown system of reimportation they won't be cheaper." Hume suggested that they assume a cheaper price, for the sake of argument, but what about safety? Kondracke wouldn't be distracted from the price issue, noting that "Canada & other countries are price-controlled" & claiming that "they invent very few new drugs, we [the US] invent them." Williams pointed out that "generics already are cheaper than lots of these [name-brand] drugs." Barnes said that foreign drug companies "come here because profits are so high", & that other coutnries are "free riders". Williams pointed out that those high profits mean "it's not a good deal for your grandmother." Kondracke suggested that we should "force drug companies to post their cheapest price" so people can comparison shop, that will drive prices down. Barnes summed up by saying our system is "not broken" so don't fix it.
Comments: 1) Talk about the arrogance of the elites! Of course obscenely high drug prices are no problem for overpaid TV pundits. Smugly dismissing the real problems that exists for most people in this country is just a logical outgrowth of "compassionate conservativism". 2) Can anyone suggest an online resource to double-check Kondracke's claim that the US pharmaceutical industry "invents" more drugs than the rest of the world?