URLs du Jour


  • Should I believe in the Science of the guys who left, or the ones who stayed? Mary Chastain reports a Politico article: FDA in Disarray as Two Vaccine Officials Resign Over Biden’s COVID Booster Plans.

    The FDA lost two top vaccine officials because President Joe Biden’s administration is not minding its own business:

    FDA officials are scrambling to collect and analyze data that clearly demonstrate the boosters’ benefits before the administration’s Sept. 20 deadline for rolling them out to most adults. Many outside experts, and some within the agency, see uncomfortable similarities between the Biden team’s top-down booster plan and former President Donald Trump’s attempts to goad FDA into accelerating its initial authorization process for Covid-19 vaccines and push through unproven virus treatments.

    On Tuesday, two top FDA vaccine regulators resigned — a decision that one former official said was rooted in anger over the agency’s lack of autonomy in the booster planning so far. A current health official said the pair, Marion Gruber and Philip Krause, left over differences with FDA’s top vaccine official Peter Marks. Now the agency is facing a potential mutiny among its staff and outside vaccine advisers, several of whom feel cut out of key decisions and who view the plan to offer boosters to all adults as premature and unnecessary.

    Those administration officials include acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and COVID Czar Jeff Zients. Both approve of the booster. Woodcock praised vaccine regulators. Zients praised the FDA “as the regulatory ‘gold standard.'”

    It's not as if those ex-FDA bureaucrats filled me with a lot of confidence over the pandemic process. On the other hand, it sounds as if things are about to get worse. Take care of your grandparents, kids! Maybe move them to Israel.

  • More FDA death by regulation. But (surprise) not COVID! Jacob Grier notes the continuing legal homicide: The FDA Is Set To Unintentionally Push Quitters Back to Smoking.

    The week ahead will be hugely consequential for the future of tobacco and nicotine in the United States. On September 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must meet a court-imposed deadline to decide which electronic cigarette and vapor products will be allowed to remain on the market. The agency's decisions will affect more than just the livelihoods of small business owners and big vaping companies; at stake are the rights of millions of current and former smokers to access a safer alternative that could literally save their lives.

    American news coverage of vaping has tended to focus on its downsides, particularly the use of e-cigarettes among teens and adolescents. Legislators and activist groups have raised the alarm about youth vaping to encourage the FDA to enact de facto prohibition of flavored products. In the popular imagination, vaping seduces youth into dangerous addiction and renormalizes tobacco use, justifying bans on the sale of e-cigarettes even to adults.

    Grier notes that the FDA's incentives tilt toward appeasing "activists" and (heh) "reducing its workload by setting an impossibly high bar for smaller e-cigarette and e-liquid companies". Tsk! Wouldn't want to make them work harder!

  • Did it work? Bryan Caplan has a refreshingly contrarian take on The American Experiment in Federalist Dictatorship. ("Dictatorship" is a term loaded with nasty baggage, but isn't it accurate?)

    During Covid, legislatures became extraordinarily deferential to their executives.  Congress deferred to the President, yes.  But more shockingly, state legislatures across the country virtually abdicated in favor of their governors.  On everything Covid-related – and what isn’t “Covid-related”? – governors have essentially ruled by decree since March of 2020.

    In short, America is now an elective dictatorship.  Unlike almost all historical dictatorships, however, these are dictatorships within a federal system.  Every governor makes it up as he goes along… but he only makes it up for his own state.  Elections will still happen, possibly replacing one dictator with another.  But until those days of reckoning, whoever won the last election has a remarkably free hand to do as he pleases.

    What has this freakish experiment in federalist dictatorship taught us?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts, but here are the biggest lessons I’ve drawn thus far.

    Reader, there are ten of those lessons. To give you a flavor, here's one of them:

    9. Our era of federalist dictatorship has been a great “Obedience to Authority” experiment.  And the experiment replicates.  People in fifty different states have been given fifty different (and fluctuating) sets of often arbitrary rules.  And people in fifty different states have, by and large, obeyed.  You could protest, “Each governor is just ‘ordering’ their citizens to do what they would have done on their own volition.”  But that’s grossly overstated.  The store mask mandates in Virginia and Texas were very similar this winter, and almost universally observed.  But when both states dropped mask mandates, most northern Virginians kept wearing masks in stores for a month and more.  In Texas, in contrast, masks in stores vanished almost overnight.  As individuals, Texans wanted less caution than Virginians.  Yet both groups obeyed their authorities.

    I'm probably reading too much into that. I hope I am anyway. I know my main motivation for (mostly) going along with mandates was to minimize personal hassle and conflict. But how slippery is the slope between that and being a "good German"?

Last Modified 2021-09-05 3:41 AM EDT