OK, before I even get started here, I'm reading Bill Frist's biography on his official senate page. I'm reading all these accolades about his accomplishments and I discover that he wrote a book called, "When Every Moment Counts: A Family Guide on Bioterrorism". [Note: Senator Frist has revamped his biography webpage. You'll need to read the .pdf file of his biography you can find at the bottom of the page.] Say what? Someone actually wrote a "family guide" to bioterrorism? Now, there's a nice classic for the family to sit around and read on a Sunday after church!
This is nothing but fear-mongering because there will be very little that anyone can do to protect themselves against bioterrorism unless they lock themselves up in a fully self-contained living unit. There are too many variables, too many opportunities, too many different ways to wage bioterrorism for anyone to able to claim any measure of "prevention". Sadly, too many people buy into the belief that one can be protected against terrorism. All one has to do is to look at the nation of Israel who has been taking drastic and extreme measures to protect themselves against terrorism. And they are no better off now than they were 40+ years ago when the terrorism started.
Like the other politicians profiled here, Frist appears to have hit the "fast track" to power. He was first elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating a popular three-term incumbent democrat (rather like Santorum), and in 2000, after winning re-election to only his second term, he was unanimously elected as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a mere two years later was unanimously elected to be Senate Majority Leader. The man had never held a public office before he ran for the Senate and according to his official biography, he reached this position of power "having served fewer total years in the U.S. Congress than any previous leader." This is rather an astounding accomplishment given that politics, especially in the south, is about tradition and "ladders" that have to be climbed. Power is earned by experience— witness Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Strom Thurmond. And yet here is a newcomer to political office— and within 8 years, not even two full Senate terms, the man is the Senate Majority Leader.
Frist announced he intended to challenge Trent Lott for control of the republican leadership after Lott made racial slurs at Strom Thurmond's birthday party in 2002. WorldNetDaily, an ultra-conservative online news organization (they think Bush and Rove are Republican centrists), opined that if Frist was elected, it would be "a stunning setback for pro-life conservatives" since, according to the article, Frist ran as a pro-choice candidate. Yet just one year later, Frist has a 100% voting record on issues important to the National Right to Life Committee (in 2003-2004), the Christian Coalition (in 2003), and the Family Research Council (in 2003)— all radical religious right organizations.
Bill Frist is one of the richest members of Congress. His personal wealth is estimated at $20 million. While he was born into a wealthy family, his fortunes increased greatly from investments in a for-profit hospital chain founded by his father and brother. Hospital Corporation of American, Inc. (HCA, Inc.) is the largest hospital system in the country. The Justice Department began investigating HCA, Inc. before Frist ever got into politics and continued their investigation for almost a decade. Just before Frist became Majority Leader in the Senate, the Justice Department reached a rather sudden settlement with HCA, Inc. that involved HCA paying more than $1.7 billion— yes, billion— dollars in fines and penalties for over-billing Medicaid and Medicare. In return, no criminal charges would be pressed despite the fact that the FBI was in the midst of what it called "one of the FBI's highest-priority white-collar crime investigations." [Source]
In one short interview with Christianity Today, Bill Frist gives prime examples of the double speak popularized by Newt Gingrich, the fear-mongering of the Bush administration after 9/11 and the emotional appeals (damn the consequences!) of the new "compassionate" conservative.
Frist's first answer regarding his support of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act speaks of "not just one, but two, precious human lives." This is both an emotional appeal (use of the word "precious") but also a bit subliminal posturing by calling the "unborn victim" a "human life", thereby opening a "back door" to stopping abortions. (For an article I wrote on why the unborn must not have any rights before birth, click here.)
In his second answer regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment, Frist says that, "[Our Founders] didn't write into the Constitution the definition of family, because it wasn't even an open question." But such a statement can't be backed up by historical data. Just one simple example: how does one define "family" when one owns slaves and has children by those slaves? Are those children part of his "family" or are they still his property to sell if he chooses?
Frist then goes on with some double speak by using the words "activist judges" three times in the next three sentences when, in fact, it is the role of the courts to throw out laws that are unconstitutional, no matter how popular they are with the people.
He also does some fear-mongering when he says we must "protect, preserve, and strengthen the institution of marriage" against said activist judges. The institution of marriage is not threatened by allowing gay marriage.1
And finally, in his last answer, he does a little bit of fear-mongering and doublespeak once again. When he says, "[Government] can and must get out of the way and let religion flourish", he is making the subtle assertion that government is out to take away your religious rights. The double speak comes in the second half of his answer when he says, "Attempts to denude the public square of all religious expression betray a misunderstanding of the role of religion in a pluralist nation." In truth, one is not denuding "public squares", one is denuding government-owned buildings/parks/etc. from tacitly condoning any particular religion, which is in keeping with the first amendment. I wonder how much support Mr. Frist would give to a Satanist who sought to put up a display to one of his/her high holy days. Somehow I don't think the tolerance he seems to expect would extend both ways, do you?
Frist has said he will only serve two terms in the Senate (which means he'll be done in 2006), leading to speculation that he's going to make a run for the White House in 2008. In a New York Times article that appeared on December 22, 2002, Robin Toner wrote:
"Doug Heyl, who was Mr. Sasser's campaign manager, recalls Mr. Frist's 1994 campaign as 'a classic anti-Washington campaign with the great Southern code words built in,' including allusions to Mr. Sasser sending taxpayers' money to Washington, home of Marion S. Barry, the scandal-ridden black mayor. A spokesman for Mr. Frist said there was no racial significance to that remark.|
Mr. Frist also asserted at the time that 'for the past 18 years, Jim Sasser has been transplanting your wallets and your pocketbooks to Washington, D.C.' His campaign commercials featured the song 'The Ballad of Liberal, Taxing, Two-Faced Jim,' which included the lyric 'You ran up a tab, sent us a bill,/ If the taxes don't get us, the criminals will.'"
That means that after 2006, if he follows through with his word to not seek re-election to the Senate (and no one doubts that he will stick to his word), Frist, whose personal fortune is estimated as high as $26 million (his brother's is estimated at $1.6 billion), will have nothing to do all day but campaign for office. Now isn't that something to look forward to? (Sarcasm intended.)
With the 2006 elections looming and the 2008 presidential elections on the horizon, it appears as if Bill Frist is making his first move to not only distance himself from this misadministration but to make his name be associated with "leadership" and "protecting Americans" by sponsoring a bill that would prevent the UAE from taking over management operations of several major US ports. While the deal is now, for all intents and purposes, "dead", the fact that Frist broke with the White House is an important step. Unfortunately, Frist is even more conservative than Bush and has even more power that comes from a vast personal fortune.
Why, when the actions of these government officials goes so against the grain of the American ideals, do so many people still support them? For an answer to that, please read my thoughts on the topic.
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According to the radical religious right, marriage is a religious institution and the government has no right force religions to redefine marriage. Yet those same people wish to force other faiths that do recognize gay marriages to not define marriage as that between two men or two women or one man and one woman. On one hand, they demand that the churches be allowed to define marriage, then they turn around and tell churches who differ with them how to define marriage.|
But more importantly, whether or not gay marriages ever get legal recognition, those who wish to marry will call their relationships marriages. (Click here for a cute paradoy of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".) They're going to walk down the street holding hands, kissing in public, raising families, etc. And if giving them legal recognition threatens the institution of heterosexual marriage, then said institution was not very stable to begin with.
|Click on any of the links below to read more articles about Bill Frist.|
||Bill Frist on the Issues|
|Synopsis: See where Bill Frist stands on the issues by seeing his voting record on issues in the past.|
||Bill Frist's New South|
|Synopsis: An article on the "new breed" of Republicans: northern educated, rich, from "old blood".|
|Synopsis: When he took over as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bill Frist managed to break fund-raising records left and right. But at what cost? Just as the Republicans recently tried to slip in a provision that would have allowed the chairman of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees and the chairman of the IRS to read personal income tax returns, Frist has been mentioned when someone slipped some legislation into unrelated bills as well, protecting pharmaceutical companies from damages their vaccines may cause. Frist is a medical doctor and drug companies contributed heavily to the NRSC under his chairmanship but of course he denies being responsible.|
||Online News Hour|
|Synopsis: An interview with PBS' Gwen Ifill that shows more fear-mongering, spin, patriotic hooplah and evasion so typical of Republican politicians in the pocket of the radical religious right.|
||PETA Requests Atonement|
|Synopsis: While in medical school, Bill Frist would go to animal shelters, "adopt" cats and then kill them while practicing surgical procedures. Frist has admitted in his own book that it was "a heinous and dishonest thing to do", but PETA wants him to try to make amends.|
||Frists of Fury|
|Synopsis: An article by John Nichols of "The Nation" that details Frist's failed attempts to discredit former counter-terrorist chief Richard Clarke after Clarke's damning book about the White House and 9/11 came out. It also goes into some detail as to how Frist has helped his family and personal fortune grow through legislation that hurts American in need of health care.|
||Frist rebuts complaint, denies he hid $1.44M loan|
|Synopsis: A recent article (7/14/05) in a Tennessee newspaper regarding a complaint filed with the FEC over a $1.44 million dollar loan the Frist election campaign in 2000. Frist justifies the fancy bookkeeping, despite the fact that he invested $1 million in the stock market and was at one time losing $160,000 a month!|
||Frist Sold Stock Along With HCA Insiders|
|Synopsis: Bill Frist is still being investigated for sale of stock in his family's hospital chain that netted insiders more than $42 million dollars before the stock plunged in price. Despite assurances that all his shares of stock in his families businesses were in blind trusts to avoid any possible conflict of interests when voting on health care legislation, Frist himself sent letters to his stock broker asking that all his shares be sold one month before the bottom fell out of the stock. And they put Martha in jail for a mere $60,000 transaction.|
||Frist accumulated stock outside trusts|
|Synopsis: At least one of Frist's "blind trust", it appears, was managed by his brother. How blind do you really think it was?|
||Probe Into Frist Stock Sale Continues|
|Synopsis: The SEC is continuing its investigation into Frist's stock sales, just two weeks before the price dropped 9% a share.|
||Democrats Assail Frist's Afghan Comments|
|Synopsis: Despite Bush's promise that we haven't forgotten Osama bin Laden, Frist, in one of his last big remarks as a US Senator (he kept his promise not to run for a third term in the Senate), Frist said the US cannot win a military war in Afghanistan and that we should support the Taliban politicians who are seeking to regain power in the government.|
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