Dr. Frist Goes Under the Knife
Yesterday, I heard a report on surgical methods pioneered by William H. Frist, MD. Before election to the US Senate, Frist authored the book "Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life-And-Death Dramas of the New Medicine." Therein, Frist admitted having lied to The Humane Society (while a medical student), in order to acquire cats upon which he performed unsupervised surgeries that led to their... demise. Ouch.
Recently elected Republican Senate Majority Leader, Frist will manage the GOP agenda, including healthcare initiatives. It behooves us to consider "Dramas of the New Medicine" he may prescribe for all of us.
I Googled a few details of Bill Frist's unique gift for creativity, integrity, and leadership.
[RELENTLESS SARCASM AHEAD]
I didn't focus much on the second item, Alexander Cockburn's commentary at NYPress:
So now the U.S. Senate is going to be led by the cat world's answer to Dr. Mengele! A man who can do that is capable of any infamy. Can't you just picture this oily Tennessean cooing and clucking over the tabbies and tortoise-shells at the shelter, solemnly wagging his head as the shelter staff counseled him on proper cat procedures, then dragging the poor creatures into his lab and torturing them to death?
I ignored the comment by licentious radio (hey, it's their name) that, "At least Trent Lott didn't practice surgery on blacks." Nor did I dwell on a result rife with the liberal media leanings of CBS:
The Humane Society raised Frist's shamefaced confession in a 1989 book to adopting cats as a medical student, and then experimenting on them. "We hope that the drive behind that pattern of behavior has been fully purged," said Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society's senior vice president.
Oh, you CBS! Invoking the word 'shamefaced' doesn't prove Frist is ashamed of killing cats or lying to get them, does it? CBS raised other concerns about the man helping to shape Bush health care strategy:
Consumer groups criticized Frist for owning stocks in HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, which settled allegations of health care fraud this week for $631 million. HCA's founders include Frist's late father and brother.
Think about it: what possible relevance could his personal financial interests (or family business history) have to do with his policy goals, or political agenda?
No, really. Think about it.
Perhaps a more conservative source would help provide balance? Cybercast News Service, CNS, likely ranks as the world's most politically conservative news source who won't admit it. (At least the Media Research Center "the parent organization of CNSNews.com," openly declares itself "The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias.") Straining its conservative genes, CNSNews reports:
According to Senate records, Frist held a minimum of $5,000,001 in Columbia/HCA stock... The amount of Columbia/HCA stock could be as high as $74,930,085, but is not specified...
Plenty to think about there.
Perhaps large media are too... large. Would the Man On The Street take a broader view? At Amazon.com, a reader review by heroine71 describes Frist's book as Words of wisdom from a butcher:
In this book, Frist admits to adopting homeless animals from Boston shelters and promising to keep them as pets, only to bring them home to vivisect and eventually kill. The fact that he was a medical student is no excuse - he knew it was wrong, not to mention illegal, otherwise he would have no need for secrecy. Didn't he get enough dissection and vivisection in his medical school classes? Apparently not. I don't buy his explanation that the clandestine torture and killing of these animals was done to further his studies - if that were the case, he would have done the experiments IN SCHOOL under the SUPERVISION of a professor. Yes, it's impressive that he was a medical student - he is obviously intelligent. However, the frenzied, repeated torture and killing of these adopted animals points to a deviant character, pure and simple.
It seems naive to cite deviant character as a concern among Senate leadership -- it's never gotten in their way before. I was, however, impressed by the logic of "Our Customer's Advice" from the same Amazon.com page:
2 people recommended Jeffrey Dahmer - The Secret Life instead of Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life-And-Death Dramas of the New Medicine
Since Frist's book is out of print, this alternative might be a good way to gain some perspective. Thanks, Amazon readers!
Curiosity Killed the Cat
So, the new Majority (at least, they call it a Majority) Leader (at least, they call him a Leader) has some skeletons in the closet. Unless they're in formaldehyde.
For a full workup, I settled on the first link from my earlier search for How Frist's Curiosity Killed the Cat. Again, it's a CNS release, from an avowed conservative news organization, Townhall:
...the first truly interactive community on the Internet to bring Internet users, conservative public policy organizations, congressional staff, and political activists together under the broad umbrella of "conservative" thoughts, ideas and actions.
I was puzzled by how the CNS "direct presentation of facts or descriptions of events without an attempt at interpretation" could meld so well with the political bent at Townhall. Searching hither and yon, I discovered the Media Research Center, and that MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III founded CNSNews. In fact, it was "his most ambitous venture yet -- the Conservative Communications Center (C3) and its on-line news division, the CNSNews.com."
So, "its mission: to provide the conservative movement with the marketing and public relations tools necessary to proactively deliver its message into the 21st century" was clear.
On that basis, I concluded that Townhall's report would be either (if you trust CNS) free from bias, or (if you trust Brent Bozell), proactively conservative. It sure as hell ain't left-leaning. From their Animal 'Rights' Activists Challenge Frist On Cat Killing ('Rights' in quotes, so you can roll your eyes):
"Frist admitted in his 1989 book that, while a student at Harvard Medical School, he adopted cats from animal shelters and practiced surgery on the animals. In adopting the cats, however, Frist told shelter staff members he wanted the animals for pets. All of the cats died as a result of the surgeries.
Alas, all dead. But, at least he claimed he wanted to help them, before he cut them up. (There's your compassionate conservatism in practice. Look out below the poverty line!) At least we know he is able to make life-and-death decisions without getting caught up in debate -- without messy ethical considerations slowing his hand. (There's your leadership in practice.) At least we know he is capable of killing kittens (for example) with his bare hands to get ahead. (There's your... ?) At least he drugged them first.
Well, yes, I'm merely assuming he drugged them (with controlled substances, dispensed by...?); perhaps a groundless assumption. Continuing from the CNS report by Jeff Johnson:
"It was a heinous and dishonest thing to do," Frist wrote in Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life-and-Death Dramas of the New Medicine.
At least we know he will be dishonest when necessary to cover himself. And, hopefully, years of political life have made him incapable of actions that are more heinous than 'heinous,' or more dishonest than 'dishonest.' At least hopefully.
"Frist explained that the pressure to perform well at the school was unbelievable, and that he believed at the time that he needed more animals to practice on than were provided.
At least as Majority Leader he won't be subjected to significant pressure. At least we might presume that, if pressure does arise, he won't do anything worse than lie or kill. At least if he believes at a given time that he needs something, he'll go get it, ethics aside. At least if he needs more practice at something, he's capable of lying or killing until he gets it.
"I was going a little crazy," he added.
At least he is aware when he's going a little crazy. Or, at least later. Or, at least eventually. At least after the lies are productive, and the subjects are dead.
(Gosh, if we'd elected Bill Frist sooner, maybe we wouldn't have had all these cats over all these years...)
The article then moved to the issues of cultural ethics and the future (again, not relevant in the Senate):
...supporters of legal status for animals at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) want Frist to do more than apologize. The group issued a press release Tuesday promoting a letter it had written to Frist, calling on him to "atone for" his past.
"We hope that the remorse you expressed for your actions runs deeper than your concern over having been dishonest with the shelters," wrote Mary Beth Sweetland, senior vice president of PETA.
[RELENTLESS SARCASM ENDS]
Sweetland may have missed Trent Lott's performance: the Republican leadership can be made to apologize. (It ain't come easy, but it come.) In fact, they can be downright convincing about it. However, atonement would imply a purposeful change, as well as reparation for wrongdoing.
"One day," Sweetland continued, "we will look back on animal testing with the same disgust with which we now look back on slavery and racism."
True -- but don't forget how Trent Lott started this whole affair. Indications are lacking that he feels any disgust over racism. He doesn't even need to look back to see it!
One day we will look back on all such practices -- though likely not while George Bush and Bill Frist are in charge. Still, I hope that day arrives within their lifetimes. That way, at least they'll be present to answer for all these problems we've had over all these years.