Vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based

Share the News
  • 34
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    34
    Shares

By R Carter

While this article may appear to be an indictment of Republican views and values it is in fact not. For example I support efforts to strengthen border security although I may not agree with some forms used to achieve that goal. I supported a renegotiation of our trade policies, although I wish there would have been a better method than the use of Tariffs. I support lower taxes but also believe we have a responsibility to provide opportunities to educate our population and create jobs for all.

This post is an indictment for the abuse of power and efforts made to circumvent the rule of law to achieve personal goals which do not benefit all Americans. As with all political elections, once placed in office I put my support behind those individuals and will continue to do so, until such individuals place themselves above the law.

The CDC is our nation’s leading agency for guiding Americans towards good health practices and it’s the go to agency when urgent health matters rise up within our nation. To do this job, the agency is supposed to use the best science based methods for investigating and combating outbreaks of disease and other health related matters. They are supposed to be an “evidence based agency” which uses accurate data to guide them in setting health policies for America. That starts at the director level and works down through its various department heads and senior management staff, who are supposed to be non-partisan when carrying out their duties and responsibilities. Relying only on what is best for the health of America and avoiding any indication of favoritism from any political perspective.

That all changed in 2016 when the Trump administration was elected to office. In an article published in the Washington Post by Ruth Ben-Ghait titled, “Beware of President Trump’s nefarious language games”, the Italian professor who studies history at New York University speaks out on her book, “Strongmen: How They Rise, Why They Succeed, How They Fall.”.

In her book she outlines those figures, and why they hold such appeal for us. Professor Ben-Ghiat argues that we should see strongmen not simply as political figures, but also in the context of our culture and society. Drawing on analysis of everything from gender and sexuality to art and architecture, Ben-Ghiat reveals how strongmen are shaped and promoted by our own history and desires, and why we fall for their promises.

The strongman knows that it starts with words. He uses them early on to test out his plans to expand and personalize executive power on political elites, the press and the public, then watching their reactions as they arrange into the timeless categories of allies, enemies and those who help him by remaining silent. Some say the strongman is all bluster, but he takes words seriously, including the issue of which ones should be banned.

That’s why those who study authoritarian regimes or have had the misfortune to live under one may find something deeply familiar about the Trump administration’s decision to bar officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from using certain words (“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based”). The administration’s refusal to give any rationale for the order, and the pressure it places on CDC employees; have a political meaning that transcends its specific content and context. The decision as a whole links to a larger history of how language is used as a tool of state repression, but in the case of the CDC it no doubt had an immense impact on the 2016 CDC Guidelines for Chronic Pain Management.

The appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as the CDC Director in July 2017 is very much part of that agenda. Dr. Fitzgerald held a BS degree in Microbiology and held the rank of Major in the US Air Force. After leaving the Air Force she entered private practice specializing in gynecology and obstetrics. During that time she promoted “anti-aging medicines” to her patients, medicines which have been criticized as being unsupported by scientific evidence and potentially dangerous. She has received board certification from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, though that organization has not been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. In 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal appointed Fitzgerald as Director of the state’s Division of Public Health. In 1994, Fitzgerald ran for the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District in Georgia. She lost to Bob Barr, gaining 43% of the vote. During the campaign she and Newt Gingrich threw symbolic crates of tea into the Chattahoochee River as a bit of political theater.

Her embracing of Tea Party philosophies and ideology won her friends and influence within the Republican Party and no doubt played a part in her appointment to the CDC Directorship. Fitzgerald’s tenure at the CDC was characterized as “low profile” often sending her deputies to testify in congressional hearings about tobacco issues and the opioid crisis, while the heads of other agencies testified themselves, a fact which would come back and haunt her later. By December 2017, after five months in office, Fitzgerald had yet to divest her financial holdings that posed conflicts of interest in her position at the CDC. Democratic Senator Patty Murray raised questions as to Fitzgerald’s ability to lead the CDC’s anti-opioid programs given her financial stake in other businesses which developed prescription drug monitoring programs.

Officially Fitzgerald resigned from the CDC Directorship because of complex financial relationships with the tobacco industry, having purchased stock in a tobacco company outside the US, just one month after accepting the CDC Directorship. In those investments, Dr. Fitzgerald was precluded from talking about the relationship between tobacco and cancer, which is clearly a conflict of interest she understood and knew about before accepting the CDC position.

Her position as CDC Director clearly spells out her fiduciary and ethical responsibilities of not having financial interests in businesses which would conflict with her responsibilities as head of the CDC. Yet as a true Tea Party member, such rules are for others, not for the leaders of our American institutions.

The fact that tobacco was not the only conflicting financial interest she held, barely got any press, but the tobacco issue produced a strong enough reaction and embarrassment for the White House, that she was asked to resign.

Personal profit before personal accountability seems to be the Achilles Heel of far right Republicans, and they go to great effort to conceal these interests from the public. That same allegiance may have been the reason she was more beholding to those who appointed her than to her own ideals and why she withheld such information, remaining out of the spotlight, hoping to divest such interest before they were discovered.

Yet in her five months in that position she implemented the Trump Administration plan to remove these forbidden words from all CDC public announcements. Failure to do so would result in funding problems for CDC programs. While the CDC is supposed to be non-partisan, we can see in this example how a political strong man uses words to gain power, then act contrary to those words by pressing his political appointees to do his bidding. 

The inappropriate use of power, money and influence whether it be a Democrat or Republican was a problem identified by our founding fathers when the Constitution was drafted, which is why we have three branches of Government which are accountable to each other, the Congressional Branch, the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch.

For most chronic pain patients, the agenda between the White House and the CDC, which unfolded behind closed doors and through a circumvented federal policy of transparency and non-partisanship, proved to be a hardship of immense proportion. With a now estimated 50 million Americans either denied medical care or having medication reduced to levels that prevents them from holding a job. A hardship which is just now coming to full light as brave Americans come forward to reveal what they believe are violations of these tenants.

One of the most striking pieces of evidence for this wide spread subversion of ethics is the number of White House staffers and Agency Heads which have been fired or have resigned since the Trump Administration took office. Forty positions have been vacated, a new record for a single administration and another one-hundred and fifty high ranking Senate-confirmed positions are still awaiting nomination submissions from the White House. Those who have resigned or been fired are listed in the table below.

Name

Position

Status

Katie Walsh

Deputy White House Chief of Staff

Resigned

Preet Bharara

US Attorney for the Southern District of NY

Fired

Sally Yates

US Deputy Attorney General

Fired

Michael T. Flynn

National Security Advisor

Resigned

James Comey

FBI Director

Fired

Walter Shaub

Office of Government Ethics Director

Resigned

Michael Dubke

Communication Director

Resigned

Anthony Scaramucci

Communication Director

Resigned

Sean Spicer

Press Secretary

Resigned

Steve Bannon

Chief Strategist

Resigned

Reince Priebus

White House Chief of Staff

Resigned

Sebastian Gorka

Deputy Assistant to the President

Resigned

Tom Price

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Resigned

Omarosa Manigault

Director of Communication for WH Office of Public Liaison

Resigned

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Resigned

Rob Porter

White House Staff Secretary

Resigned

Hope Hicks

White House Communications Director

Resigned

Gary Cohn

Director of the National Economic Council

Resigned

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

Fired

Andrew McCabe

FBI Deputy Director

Fired

H.R. McMaster

National Security Advisor

Resigned

Tom Bossert

Homeland Security Advisor

Resigned

Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

Resigned

Nikki Haley

US Ambassador to the UN

Resigned

Don McGahn

White House Counsel

Resigned

Jess Sessions

Attorney General

Resigned

John Kelly

White House Chief of Staff

Resigned

Ryan Zinke

Secretary of Interior

Resigned

James Mathis

Secretary of Defense

Resigned

Scott Gottlieb

FDA Commissioner

Resigned

Bill Shine

White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications

Resigned

Kristjen Nielsen

Secretary of Homeland Security

Resigned

Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General

Resigned

Sarah H. Sander

White House Press Secretary

Resigned

Patrick Shanahan

Acting Secretary of Defense

Resigned

Alex Acosta

Labor Secretary

Resigned

Jason Greenblatt

Special Representative

Resigned

John Bolton

National Security Advisor

Fired

Rick Perry

Secretary of Energy

Resigned

Michael Huerta

Federal Aviation Administrator

Resigned

Like substitute teachers, those appointed to temporary positions don’t have the full support of the White House to make long term decisions, effectively handicapping many Government agencies from doing the business of government. When asked about this, Trump said, “I sort of like acting” and having stated he’s the smartest guy in the room, he believes he can handle all the details by himself while blaming Democrats for the vacancies. Some positions which were nominated but not confirmed before the current Congress took office will have to be re-nominated again to get Senate approval. In a Republican controlled Senate, there seems to be a good deal of foot dragging as the Senate is preoccupied with other matters.

As many as 65 Homeland Security position remain vacant at this time, executive positions such as White House Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor and Communications Director have had a turnover rate of 66%, leaving President Trump to rely on advisors outside of government when critical National Security matters rise to the surface. The recent firing of John Bolton, National Security Advisor during such a crisis is but one example. As of November 4, 2019, there are roughly 700 positions which have been or still require filling, 140 positions have no nominee, 5 are awaiting a nomination, 106 have been formally nominated and 490 have been confirmed.

The connections as they apply to healthcare in America come as no surprise for those who have suffered through the CDC’s 2016 report on chronic pain management; it is yet another insight into how politics and prejudice override all other considerations. And when our leader and chief is confronted about such issues or possible violations, he continues to publically eviscerate those who speak out about such concerns by using threats and intimidation to deny any culpability.

Only two presidents have been formally impeached by Congress, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Nixon resigned rather than face a formal impeachment process. Donald Trump will be the forth sitting President to face such charges.

I have had faith in our Government to do what is right regarding the two Presidents which have faced such actions in my life time, but the third in my life time, along with his party, is the first time I am truly worried about our Government failing it’s responsibilities to the Constitution.  Should the evidence justify such charges and demand action, yet fail, it will be up to the voters on November 2020 to restore the confidence American’s have held in their elected officials.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.