As much as I personally believe in the goals of ONE VOTE '08 (http://www.onevote08.org), I cannot and will not endorse former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as its spokesperson. Bill Frist misused his roles as political leader, businessman, citizen and doctor (Terri Shiavo being a prime example) and does not warrant such a reputation-restoring role.
NEW MEDIA mustn't permit Frist to use his position with ONE VOTE '08 to resurrect his public image. NEW MEDIA should be aware that Frist's attempted resurrection is timed conspicuously just prior to the June 29th release of Michael Moore's latest movie, SICKO, which spotlights the sorry state of America's healthcare system.
In SICKO, Moore reveals vast improprieties throughout the nation's healthcare system and focuses on health services providers who have cheated their patients, their patients' families, the government, and we-the-people-taxpayers. Bill Frist's family-owned business, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), certainly fits that bill.
Those who have seen SICKO predict it will have a profound effect on Americans' perception of the healthcare industry. Corporate healthcare providers like Frist's HCA will not be looked upon kindly. In fact, it's likely they'll be despised. Therefore, it is not the least bit surprising that Bill Frist signed on with ONE VOTE '08 in a veiled attempt to sweeten his image before SICKO hits the fan.
Hospital Corporation of America, which has made millions for Bill Frist, "is the largest network of PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare facilities in the world. In the late 1990's after merging with Columbia Hospital Corporation, HCA was investigated by the government for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and paid a settlement of 1.7 billion dollars, the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history at that time." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_Corporation_of_America). This past week, while addressing the California State Legislature in a condemnation of the American healthcare system, Michael Moore made specific reference to Bill Frist's onerous healthcare system ties. Frist, also mentioned in SICKO, is similarly referenced in Michael Moore's healthcare debate challenge to likely Presidential contender and former healthcare lobbyist, Fred Thompson. Thompson is a Frist cohort and a fellow Tennessean who also made a killing wheeling and dealing in the healthcare system. (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2007-05-15)
For NEW MEDIA to properly do it's job, it must keep Bill Frist's dubious dealings in healthcare, finance and politics squarely in the public eye so mainstream media cannot suppress them. Mainstream media does not keep 'old' news alive because it isn't cost effective to retell it. But it's NEW MEDIA's job in supplanting mainstream media to keep history alive and not let the public forget it.
Frist's previous indiscretions have been consistently downplayed and suppressed by mainstream media, including his personal ties to privatized medical fraud and criminally investigated stock sales. To safeguard the truth and deter his whitewashed resurrection, these issues must be brought to the fore when considering Frist as a leader.
Unlike mainstream media, NEW MEDIA must not permit those who have wronged our nation and our world to bury their sordid histories and rise again to places of honor. Each time these resurrections occur they send the message 'it's okay to harm the public.' That the public has a short memory and if you manipulate it successfully you are forgiven and welcomed right back.
This week launched the admirable ONE VOTE '08 worldwide human rights campaign, spearheaded by artist and activist, Ben Affleck. ONE VOTE '08 identifies as "an unprecedented, bi-partisan campaign to make global health and extreme poverty foreign policy priorities in the 2008 presidential election." (http://www.onevote08.org/aboutone.php)
I have the utmost respect for Ben Affleck and believe strongly in this cause.
But there are two major hurdles in ONE VOTE's campaign and they are its selection of Bill Frist and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota as its spokespersons. Obviously the previous political rivalry between Frist and Daschle provides ONE VOTE its bi-partisan credentials. But honestly, aren't there better spokespeople with opposing political views than Bill Frist and Tom Daschle?
Frist's unsuitability has been proven. He misused his medical license and political power in the 'right to die' case of Terri Schiavo. He's been investigated and subpoenaed by the Justice Department and Securities Exchange Commission for questionable stock sales when serving as Majority Leader of the Senate. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/23/AR2005092301811.html). And he's enriched himself through a family owned corporation that cheated the government and taxpayers of 1.7 billion dollars.
Tom Daschle is also unsuitable, but for less nefarious reasons. He's merely a lackluster, uninspired leader. A trait he passed on to Harry Reid.
Now come on, folks. Couldn't an effort as valiant and worthwhile as ONE VOTE find two more worthwhile leaders? It's certainly not unprecedented. Former Senators George McGovern, a Democrat, and Bob Dole, a Republican, are two highly respected leaders of their parties who have teamed in a national and global effort to combat world hunger. There must be other political leaders with the stature of McGovern and Dole who would do an equally admirable job.
In recent media interviews discussing ONE VOTE, Bill Frist said ONE VOTE will use NEW MEDIA to further its cause. Sadly, it seems Frist is using NEW MEDIA to futher HIS cause by promoting his heart surgeon work in Africa. In all probability Frist's work in Africa served his patients well, much like publicizing that work in America serves Bill Frist well.
There is no doubt that ONE VOTE '08 is a well-intentioned and necessary campaign. The fact that people across the globe live in impoverished circumstances and die unnecessarily from illnesses that can be prevented and cured is an abomination. Our energies and resources should be used to do 'good.' Any world leader who prioritizes militarism and global domination over preserving the planet and eliminating illness and hunger forsakes the very essence of humanity. A nation that forsakes humanity is not a democracy.
A nation that invests even a second to destroy life rather than sustain it commits crimes against humanity. Tragically billions, trillions, 'gazillions' of those seconds have already passed us by. Umpteen of them during the tenures of Tom Daschle and Bill Frist.
ONE VOTE '08... Please find better leaders. You're worth it!!
Linda Milazzo is a Managing Editor of Opednews, Los Angeles based writer, educator and activist. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development projects and educational (more...
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