By Doug Porter
Hillary Clinton jumped the gun when she called out Donald Trump’s more extreme supporters as ‘deplorables.’ Now I am having trouble finding a better word to describe the new President’s cabinet choices.
As I’m writing this, Georgia Congressman Tom Price is appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, which in theory is vetting him over whether he’s qualified to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Despite criticism from Democrats based on a bipartisan memo to lawmakers by Senate Finance Committee staff disclosing even more red flags concerning the congressman’s tax returns and financial disclosure statements, Price will ultimately be confirmed.
The accusations include Price’s alleged failure to disclose late tax payments on rental properties; undervaluing stocks he owns in a pharmaceutical company both to the committee and in his financial disclosure forms; and failure to disclose to the committee that he was previously investigated by an ethics panel for fundraising activities.
In the age of alternative facts, conflicts of interests by executive branch leaders are actually proof of competence. Bad is now good. Got it?
Back to CNN:
Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement to CNN that Price submitted committee questionnaires and other materials in “good faith.” The answers to those questionnaires and other materials were later modified once the errors were flagged.
“Dr. Price’s file is now complete, and to meet demands of Committee Democrats, they now include additional information that is usually kept confidential,” Lawless said.
Absent evidence of sexual contact with farm animals or some equally egregious behavior, Republicans will exercise their majority power for a man they hope will perform an exorcism on many of the programs under the purview of HHS.
Price will be tasked to eliminate, privatize, or cripple services provided or overseen by his agency. And he’s the right man for the job. How do I know this? Let’s take a look at his Curriculum Vitae.
A (Far) Right Resume
Mother Jones took note of the nominee’s long-standing membership in the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a fringe medical group whose statement of principles declares it “evil” and “immoral” for doctors to participate in Medicaid and Medicare.
AAPS has been a vocal player in the anti-vaccine movement. Its medical journal has attacked immigrants as the source of disease outbreaks, including leprosy, and suggested that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS but that abortion causes breast cancer. The scientific consensus rejects all of these claims. AAPS was the primary source of rumors during the presidential campaign that Hillary Clinton was suffering from a major illness. It has opposed electronic medical records, calling them a form of “data control” like that used by the Stasi, the former East German secret police. Researchers estimate that medical errors kill more than 250,000 Americans a year, making them the third leading cause of death, but AAPS dismisses such reports as a bogus pretext for more government regulation of health care. AAPS was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and Price appeared regularly at its protests and events, speaking out against the health reform bill…
…AAPS has long been a bad doctor’s best friend. Over the years, it has waged concerted campaigns to protect doctors accused of misconduct.
For people concerned about patient safety–medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the US–Rep.Tom Price’s association with this group has got to be devastating. Of course, that tidbit of information was made possible (mostly) by the reporting standards baked into Obamacare, and we all know where Price stands on that program.
A Manly Man
When it comes to health care for the female 51% of the population, Price is right out of the Stone Ages. His Zero rating from Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights groups is well-earned. He’s not just against abortion; birth control is, in his opinion, not needed.
His actions when it comes to the LGBTQ community are equally abominable.
Citing Price’s abysmal zero percent approval on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard and his dedication to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association didn’t hesitate to oppose his nomination.
“Rep. Price’s record on LGBT health and equality stands in sharp contrast to his two predecessors at HHS who have worked hard over the last 8 years to ensure the department’s policies and programs address the health issues LGBT people experience,” its statement concludes. “GLMA stands prepared to work with our partners to protect this legacy of inclusion and speak out against anyone who opposes and/or seeks to dismantle it.”
The many ways in which Rep. Price has worked against equality for LGBTQ people and fought protection for our families were spelled out by the advocacy group GLAAD. In addition to his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and his opposition to laws aimed at protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination, Rep. Price was among a small number of House members to attend a “Take Back America” conference that featured a lecture titled “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement.”
The bottom line here is that Tom Price, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, doesn’t think the government has any place in our healthcare system. He fits very well among Mr. Trump’s choices to head government departments and agencies, a group of people who don’t believe in the work of their respective departments.
And despite President Donald Trump’s promises about better and more affordable healthcare for Americans, the man in charge of daily operations in those areas has no intention of delivering either of those things.
When it comes to details and actual policy in the new administration, the person to watch is Vice President Mike Pence, the man with the plan for Christian Theocracy.
From Jeremy Scahill’s profile of Pence at The Intercept:
Trump is a Trojan horse for a cabal of vicious zealots who have long craved an extremist Christian theocracy, and Pence is one of its most prized warriors. With Republican control of the House and Senate and the prospect of dramatically and decisively tilting the balance of the Supreme Court to the far right, the incoming administration will have a real shot at bringing the fire and brimstone of the second coming to Washington.
“The enemy, to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government,” contends Jeff Sharlet, author of two books on the radical religious right, including “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” “So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”
I bring this up to serve as a reminder that President Donald Trump, whose oafishness makes him a handy symbol, can’t be the focus of protests and organizing going forward. It is the policies of the right that need to be hammered.
The Trump administration will be the arena for a long and fierce battle. We are at the opening bell.
Fight Back on Fake News & Right Wing Smears
Pushback on the Women’s Marches is underway, and the Trump administration and their allies try to re-write history.
You can bet the articles in Russia Today (RT) claiming it’s all a conspiracy funded by George Soros will be circulating through your crazy uncle’s Facebook pages.
Snopes.com has already debunked the story making the rounds about a faux group called Demand Protest paying $2500 to anti-Trump protesters.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson confronted “Dom Tullipso,” the purported owner of the Demand Protest web site, on 17 January 2017 and called his company a sham. While “Tullipso” (Carlson asserted that the man could not properly identify himself) did not admit that the web site was a hoax, he did appear to be plainly joking throughout the interview.
And then there’s local radio talk show host Carl Demaio, who invited Dawniel Stewart, one of the organizers of the San Diego Women’s March on his show and then retweeted this bit of twaddle to his fans:
— David Montoya (@DavidMo49444257) January 24, 2017
Memo to organizers and activists: Don’t feed the right-wing beast. Don’t give racists and misogynists the time of day. You’ll get burned every time.
Alternative Fact Check Du Jour
When the mainstream media gets something right, it’s a good idea to praise them.
Of course, now that government agencies are forbidden to communicate with the press or the public, future ‘facts’ will be easier to suppress.
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