DEA and prescription drug policy

I’ve been aware of the shortage of the stimulant drugs for ADHD since I had to refill David’s prescription a month ago and some students of mine mentioned the problem.  Fortunately, we had no problem (or David would be getting straight C’s with in-school suspension every week), but it was distressing to learn of this.  Apparently, there is only so much methyphenidate and amphetamine that can be manufactured every year, and that’s it.  Regardless of whether people who really do need this medication to successfully go about they daily lives can get access.  Anyway, that’s definitely annoying.  What I didn’t realize until listening to an NPR story on the matter this week is that it is not the FDA that sets this guideline, but the DEA!  The DEA certainly has their role to play (though, I’m not going to get into the failed war on drugs here), but it strikes me that it sure as hell should not be regulating legal medications.  And, okay, maybe I’ll give them Fentanyl and other powerful opiates, but Adderall and Ritalin?  Really?  I get that these drugs are abused, but can’t the DEA focus it’s resources on stopping violent meth dealers instead?

Photo of the day

From National Geographic’s Best News Pictures of 2011, we head back to the Japanese Tsunami:

Picture of a boat resting on a building after the Japan tsunami

Photo of the day

Great little series from National Geographic on best news photos of 2011.  Here’s one from Japan after the earthquake/tsunami:

Japan tsunami and earthquake picture: houses, some on fire, swept away by tsunami waves in Japan

Tough exam Chew some gum

It would seem that if I want my students to do well on their exams I should start supplying gum for their strategic use (though, this semester it is take homes).  Jonah Lehrer:

t turns out there’s an excellent rationale for this long-standing cultural habit: Gum is an effective booster of mental performance, conferring all sorts of benefits without any side effects. The latest investigation of gum chewing comes from a team of psychologists at St. Lawrence University…

While previous studies achieved similar results — chewing gum is often a better test aid than caffeine — this latest research investigated the time course of the gum advantage. It turns out to be rather short lived, as gum chewers only showed an increase in performance during the first 20 minutes of testing. After that, they performed identically to non-chewers.

In short, you need to plan that gum chewing wisely.  As for me, I’m convinced that gum chewing was an important contributor to my overall weight loss strategy.  I’ve got a huge sweet tooth and I found that chewing gum is a great way to get past the hunger and sweet cravings I so often get in the evening.  I guess I should be doing political science research at the same time.  Or at least writing extra insightful blog posts.

The Yamomoto you don’t know

Fascinating piece in the Times yesterday on Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto— the Japanese Admiral responsible for Pearl Harbor, but who was against the war– and quite rightly– convinced that Japan could not win against American industrial might.  Well worth a read.

Why Newt can’t win. Maybe.

Really liked this Chait point on Newt, as I think it suggests why (and it’s perfectly reasonable) may be under-valuing his chances:

If Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain had never thought about running for president, pretty much everybody would now see Newt Gingrich as the Republican front-runner. He’s soaring in the national polls and building a large lead in the early states, while his main competitor, Mitt Romney, continues to sag.

Very true.  And, I think unlike the others, News is the real deal, as where else are the anti-Romney forces supposed to go now?  Santorum?  Paul?  Another Mormon who’s conservative credentials are even more questionable?  Still, that is a pretty big “if” as we’ve seen it the putative votes of the Tea Party types are highly volatile.  Would not seem crazy for Newt to implode and those voters to come back to Perry or even someone else.  Romney may well win the nomination– make that probably will– but it will be without Tea Party support.

Chait then goes through the various explanations for why News will ultimately fail.  Here’s the one I find most persuasive even if Chait doesn’t:

The GOP Establishment hates him. Jonathan Bernstein has made the most confident version of this argument, though others have echoed it as well. Bernstein argues that Republicans understand how erratic and ineffective Gingrich is, and won’t let him get the nomination. I see a couple flaws in this assumption. First, insiders can’t always get their way. The party elite knew full well in 2010 that nominating candidates like Joe Miller in Alaska, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware was suicidal. They just couldn’t sway the voters not to nominate them in primaries. And presidential nominations are just a series of primaries. (What’s more, presidential primaries are connected, so that a candidate who wins one can more easily gain momentum and win others.)

Second, we can’t assume that the party insiders will be thinking with perfect clarity about Gingrich’s qualifications. They didn’t stop mendacious buffoon Sarah Palin from getting the vice-presidential nomination – a choice that hurt the party badly. They picked Newt Gingrich as their leader in 1994. Now, both those figures only displayed some of their zany tendencies at the time, but the Republican elite’s crazy radar does not seem to be the most finely tuned instrument.

I think the big point is that insiders don’t, in fact, always get their way.  Thing is, in presidential nominations, they pretty much always do.  On the other hand, I’ve already mentioned that my lecture notes on presidential primaries are already in for big revisions based on the 2012 campaign so far.  At this point, “pretty much always do” just doesn’t seem to hold up so well in 2012.  Truthfully, almost nothing would surprise me.

And, for the record, Romney’s lead over Newt on Intrade has fallen to a not exactly overwhelming, 45-35.

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