Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

Oct 5 - Oct 19, 2005
Issue #85

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   
Bursting the Bennett Bubble
Count me out on this one
Allan Uthman

Post-Katrina, Pre-kaboom?
The Nukes are Loose
Russ Wellen

Tenet & the Bare Necessities
Touch the CIA Director
A Monkey
Fristing America
In Search of the Senator's Rolex
Ian Murphy
Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Gasoline
Kit Smith
FAUX-TURES
Bush Declares War on Hurricanes
"It's time to fight back"
Luke Allein
Ask a Janjaweed Militiaman
Genocidal social advice
How to Wipe Your Ass With Buffalo Current
New paper finds its niche

Visitor's Gude to  Buffalo--Cheektowaga
Tom Maccio

The BEAST BLOG
Buffalo in Briefs
Wide Right
Bills Football
Ronnie Roscoe
Kino Korner: Movies
Michael Gildea
Page 3
Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

COMIX:
Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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Fristing America
In Search of the Senate Majority Leader’s Rolex
By Ian Murphy

So it seems Bill Frist is suddenly under investigation by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice. and for what? Insider trading. Selling stock out of his not-so-blind trust from his family’s corporation, along with six other prominent employees, right before the company issues a negative “earnings warning.” Oh, sure, it’s illegal. But in light of Frist’s personal history, well, big fucking deal.

Bill Frist was once an ethically challenged medical student who lied to animal shelters and “adopted” an unknown number of cats to practice his surgical skills. He’s the megalomaniacal idiot who misdiagnosed America’s brain-dead darling Terri Schiavo from the senate floor without ever seeing her – and then denied having done so. He’s the same asshole who snuck a provision into the Homeland Security bill that protects the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from lawsuits for putting mercury in vaccines that continue to give children autism. Frist, who bought his senate seat ($3.4 million of his person fortune) with family money from one of the most malfeasant companies in U.S. history, could be described as fanatically anti-ethical, a high priest of greed and corruption. So it’s funny, in a sickening sort of way, that he’s officially in hot water now, simply because he crossed the often arbitrary line between unethical and illegal. Poor, rich Dr. Bill, he didn’t know no better.

It was absolutely laughable to see Frist’s vast wealth given as evidence of his innocence by several of his Republican brethren this week, seeing how Frist’s family wealth comes directly from the very company whose over-inflated stock he conveniently ditched before it went through the floor. “Hey, Bill has shitloads of cash. What would he need with an extra $6 million?”

Frist’s own press release reads:

In April, I asked my staff to determine if Senate rules and relevant laws would allow me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock. After my staff reviewed relevant statutes and Senate rules and consulted with outside counsel and Senate Ethics Committee staff, I learned that the rules allowed me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock in my blind trusts.

Yet, in a 2003 television interview, Frist tells us “as far as I know, I own no HCA stock.” he added: “It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea.” The discrepancy between Frist’s own words is a no-brainer and he should fry. But why didn’t he a long time ago? Because this is America.

According to Frist’s press release, the sale of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) stock in his blind trust was done to “eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest.” Never mind that he directed the sale of a stock he said he didn’t know he owned; what conflict of interest? Oh, right – he wants to be president. It wouldn’t look good if he owned stock in a company that was fined $1.7 billion dollars for defrauding the American public by systematically and repeatedly overcharging Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare (military and family medical coverage). It also wouldn’t look good if the same presidential hopeful who owns stock in a hospital corporation also gridlocked a mandatory Medicare prescription-drug benefit, stopped a real patients’ bill of rights and supported limits on damages for victims who sue negligent hospitals such as HCA.

Then there’s the other conflict of interest, that is, Frist’s interest in making and keeping money.

If senator Frist can make it out of this jam with his sights still set on the presidency, one could assume, since HCA was founded by Frist’s father and brother, that the good doctor will soon cut all family ties to “eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest.” Even boycotting the family Christmas would be a strong statement. After all, Bill’s brother Tom, one of the richest men in America, is HCA’s former CEO and current director, and that company has done some terrible, awful stuff. Besides inflating expenses and thus bilking programs designed to pay for the medical treatment of the country’s poor, HCA has also engaged in stock giveaways as kick backs for doctors who provided referrals to the company, and given said doctors ‘loans’ which needn’t be paid back, free rent and free pharmaceuticals, among other things. It’s good to be a doctor.

Despite his current problems, the real Fristing of America has already been done. No HCA personnel were criminally charged. This is not ancient history; the investigation of HCA dragged along from the mid-‘90s to 2002, when a sweet heart deal was brokered by Thomas A. Scully, head of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Scully, appointed by Bush in 2001, was a former for-profit hospital lobbyist and, in a not-so-amazing coincidence, counted HCA among his clients. The Bush administration also directed the Justice Department not to prosecute anyone involved in the largest fraud case in American history. There were appearances to be thought of; the newly appointed Senate Majority Leader couldn’t have ties to criminals. Strong ties to unethical corporations, of course, are fine, a prerequisite to the GOP big leagues.

Frist’s senate seat was born of corruption and will hopefully die of it too. It is a shame to see Frist’s misdeeds almost arbitrarily thrown into the realm of “illegal,” when he has been such an all-around evil bastard since we first met him, and long before (remember the cats). A shame, because in a moral, decent society he would have been nailed from the get go.

Now with his back up against the wall, a clear underdog, Frist still strikes me as the perfect Republican candidate for the next presidential election, embodying all of the qualities which have enabled Republicans to gain control of the entire federal government: massive wealth, insatiable greed, manipulative dishonesty and a sociopathic disregard for human decency. Hell, with all that going for him, he can probably still win. I can hear the delegates chanting at the next convention now: “Corruption is Great – Frist in ‘08!”

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