Friday, June 9, 2006

I Have Been Assimilated Into the Collective

I don't want to jinx, but supposedly, Friday, at noon, I will officially join ScienceBlogs (although the site might be active now?).

My new website/url will be:

In case you're in the large-type reading group, that's:

So please update your links. And in case you missed it, the link is here.

Why am I moving? Several reasons:
  1. Blogger sucks. 'Nuff said.
  2. I write so people read me. I'm hoping my traffic will increase.
  3. Blogger sucks.
  4. I like having a bunch of other science bloggers read my stuff. One of the odd functions I seem to fill is that I read a lot of political blogs, and I seem to be a (small) link between science bloggers and political bloggers. I think being at ScienceBlogs will further this.
  5. Blogger sucks.
Nonetheless, I'm a little nervous. I hope people still read me, even if I'm at a 'science' place. I also hope I don't get swallowed up by all of the good bloggers over there. And I have to figure out how that Movable Type thingee works.

It's odd--I feel a little sad about leaving the old digs....

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Note to Blond Banshee: I'm Not a Christian

First, the Shriek of Hate by Ann Coulter (aka the Blond Banshee):
In Ann Coulter's world -- as described in her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum) -- Jews are Christians, but apparently Episcopalians are not.

A footnote on Page 3 of the book reads: "Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a fairly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others." [emphasis added]

Yes, you read that correctly. As far as Coulter is concerned, Jews are Christians. Mazel tov!

As for Episcopalians, they might be disheartened to learn that they will not be welcoming their newly Christian Jewish friends into the brotherhood of Christ, because they don't quite measure up as a church. Coulter writes on Page 5, "Howard Dean left the Episcopal Church -- which is barely even a church -- because his church, in Montpelier, Vermont, would not cede land for a bike path." [emphasis added]

The millions of Episcopalians in America -- among whose numbers have been many presidents, including George Washington, James Madison, Franklin Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush -- might be interested to know Coulter's view of their faith.

A story for you. Many years ago (think early Eisenhower Administration), in the loving, bucolic heartland (Omaha to be precise), my mother, after informing someone that she was not Christian, but, in fact, Jewish, was told, "We're all Christians. You're just a Jewish Christian." This was the same Omaha where one high school (Omaha Central) did not have a prom. Why no prom? Because at one dance, a black boy danced one song with a white girl. Obviously, it was necessary to cancel school dances after that. Definitely an era worth conserving (kidding).

Does Coulter even comprehend the words coming out of her mouth? In a different context (the 'blastular holocaust'), I wrote:
The other major point is that Christian conservatives gloss over the history behind the Holocaust. I rarely claim to speak for others, but I'm going to go out on a limb and do so. In my opinion, many Jews think that 1500 years of religiously based anti-Semitism based in Christian doctrine was a significant factor that led to the Holocaust. This not to say that other factors weren't important: obviously, they were. But the Holocaust was not solely due to generic Acme 'man's inhumanity to man' spontaneously arising in 1933. There was a long history of brutal oppression based on Christian doctrine predating the Holocaust.

This creates a lot of problems for conservative Christians when they speak to Jews: we see their religious fanaticism, and at some basic level, many of us recoil. Not only did most Jewish families in the country lose members in the Holocaust, but their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents often fled brutal mistreatment (not to mention rape and murder) that was spawned by religious bigotry and fanaticism. There's a reason Jews reacted so vehemently against the movie The Passion of the Christ: many pogroms happened around Easter as 'revenge' for the death of Jesus. There is a basic problem here for Christian conservatives, which is, that in the Jewish mind (and I think any honest history of the Holocaust), Christianity is not 'guilt-free.' To date, American Christian conservatives have not addressed the role Christianity played in creating the necessary preconditions for mass murder (on the other hand, Catholicism has addressed this issue rather well).
While most Jews would be polite and not bring this up, doesn't she realize that it is insulting to be called Christian, and that phrase does not fill us with warmth and fuzzy feelings? Leaving aside stark dogmatic and ideological differences, there's a lot of bad history there.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Zarqawi Dead

According to CNN, Zarqawi, the leader of al-Queda in Iraq, was killed by an airstrike. I hope this lessens the violence. Now we'll find out just how important al-Queda was, or if most of the violence was perpetrated by indigenous people.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

News Reporting and a Technically Complex Society

From the "I meant to post this but never got around to it file":

In an excellent post on news reporting, Thoughts from Kansas writes (italics mine):
The same thing is a major part of the ongoing creationism battles. A good reporter with a background in science would not feel obliged to go to a scientist and get a quote to balance a story about creationists. Nor would such a reporter feel obliged to troll the waters for some bottom-feeding creationist to "balance" some claim about actual science.

But that's what many reporters do. And if they fail to do so, some hard-working editor will send them off to call the ID Network or the Discovery Institute. Science reporters and science editors don't do that, but political reporters, or overworked local news reporters who have to cover a couple of events every day, don't have time to be keeping track of the latest state of science. We're lucky if they have more than a high school biology class from 30 years ago. The same goes for political reporters covering economic issues with a good high school algebra class, and a vague memory of trig...
The problem is that spinmongers and PR flacks have found the cheat codes for modern journalism. Whine and send press releases if your side of every inane issue isn't given equal weight with the other side, no matter whether it deserves equal footing. Treat professionals as no more consequential than non-experts with an axe to grind. Leave it to the public to sort out the difference. Teach the controversy.
In my current job, I have to speak with reporters or advise those who do speak with reporters about complex public health and microbiological issues. In my experience, the science reporters do their homework, but too often, the 'general' reporters don't really know anything. So what the generalists do is fall back on what they do know, which is often not germane to the science at hand. That's fine–the social and political effects of science should be examined–but at the same time, the public often needs to be educated about the content of the science (e.g., don't drink out of your fish tank and worry about antibiotic use in farming. Note: I thought this story was well done and an example of good reporting). This is all the more important when elected officials, in the guise of improving a policy, gut it. To prevent that from happening, citizens need to understand the details, since that's where the devil lies.

I'm not sure how to fix this. Perhaps there's a role for the blogosphere in all of this, in that what is needed isn't stenography, but analysis and synthesis. But I think this problem will only get worse as so many issues become more and more technically complex.

An aside: often, a political 'debate' will purposely be made more complex than it needs to be by one of the sides because the confusion, and resulting belief that there is no solution to a problem, is politically advantageous.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Rubber Dildo Republicans

You might have heard of the moniker "rubber stamp Republicans", which refers to the congressional Republicans going along with every disastrous Bush policy. Now, the Republicans have proposed the God Hates Gays Marriage Protection Amendment. In its support, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) devolved into a discussion of masturbation and sodomy.

In honor of Sen. Santorum, I have come up with a new nickname for the Congressional Republicans: Rubber Dildo Republicans. (Seriously, do these guys ever think about anything other than anal penetration?)

Rubber Dildo Republicans: super creepy freaky. And not good for America.

'Evolution' of Dance

Anybody who thinks that evolution means that things improve over time, only has to watch this video...

Monday, June 5, 2006

Sen. Hutchinson's Rep. Admits She Isn't a Biblical Literalist

From AmericaBlog:
Tsk, tsk, tsk. I just got the following email from an AMERICAblog reader who just called Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's office - she's a Republican Senator from Texas who is divorced.
John, I live in Dallas and just got off the phone with Kay Bailey Hutchison's staff. The person who took my question said that even though the Bible might say that a woman who is divorced and then remarries is an adulterer, no Christian really believes that. So, the Bible is really just a quaint notion, sorta like the Geneva Conventions. I will swear under oath that KBH rep said that. When I asked about why this marriage amendment is even being considered amidst the other enormous crises we're dealing with, she said she agreed with me. So, KBH is divorced but doesn't believe what the Bible says about it.
If you live in Texas, please, I beg you, contact the good senator and ask her if she also thinks that the Bible shouldn't be taken literally when it comes to evolution and creationism.

Wedge issues are a bitch when they blow up in your face...

Cognitive Dissonance and the Liberal Hawks

The Mad Biologist appreciates people who get very, very Mad. Hunter, at DailyKos, writes in a brilliant and blistering column (bold original; italics mine):
More and more, I'm seeing pro-war figures look for a healing, of sorts, between those who supported the Iraq War and those who decried it. But this healing seems to take exactly one form -- the pro-war pundits perhaps begrudgingly admitting their errors, but simultaneously continuing to dismiss opponents of the Iraq War as being against it for supposedly shallow or insincere or offensive reasons.

No. No dice. Honestly, this is not an argument that deserves respect, and I'm more than a little peeved at Kevin Drum for even engaging it politely, for the umpteenth dozen time -- and at no point do I expect, given Beirnart's reply, Beirnart to be the one to first acknowledge credible internationalist progressive critiques of counterterrorism policies. There's a point in which debate is reasonable, and then there's a point where it's pretty damn clear that one "side" of the debate has no interest other than repeating the same tainted excuses and accusations and rationalizations over, and over, and over, in an attempt to find that media sweet spot where the conventional wisdom will set up and take hold for future decades.

It's pretty simple: Beinart and the rest of the liberal hawks can not accept that they were the "useful idiots" of the Bush Administration. They can't accept that they were horribly, murderously wrong, and that other 'normal' people were right. By stereotyping the 'anti-war' camp (as if any civilized person is 'pro-war') as a bunch of "Free Mumia", purple-haired, professional protesting freaks, they can convince themselves that 'normal' people had no way of knowing that Bush's policies would a pandimensional clusterfuck.

Too bad. Many of us 'normal' internationalists realized before the war even started how badly this would go. So Beinart and the other liberal hawks fall back on the 'isolationist' canard (an aside: I work for an international public health organization. Just how 'isolationist' could someone like me really be?). Hunter expresses this quite well:
I honestly have no patience -- none whatsoever -- for this premise that opposition to the Iraq War is predicated on a new liberal isolationism. Horseshit. Progressives aren't the ones cowering in terror of some terrifying "New World Order" government to be based out of the U.N. and ostensibly poised to strip United States autonomy on the world stage. They're also not the ones mortified that NATO actions to stop violence and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia were in fact simply window dressing to distract the country from the reality show Big Media autopsies of Clinton's personal life. They're not the ones currently hyperventilating that people who speak a different language have suddenly been discovered to be immigrating to this country in, gasp, a wave of ethnic immigration not seen since, well, every other similar migration in American history. They're not the ones providing opposition to Darfur rescue efforts. And yes, the progressive opposition to "free trade" policies that paper over severe economic discrepancies and damages is hardly a kneejerk isolationist policy either.
Hunter concludes very pessimistically because he thinks no one will read what he has to say. I think a lot of people are already there. Now if only the Democrats would summon the courage to say it.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

The Link Between Campaign Contributions and Poor Communication

In a very good post, Tristero essentially asks why can't Democrats speak like other humans? While there's been a lot of good discussion at that post, I think the answer has to do with the way campaigns are funded. Typically, when we think of the skills that a politician needs, the ability to speak clearly would appear to be an important, perhaps the most important skill.


The most important skill for the modern politician is to be able to raise $2,000 dollar donations from wealthy people. While this might not damage one's ability to speak clearly to a much broader audience, there's little or no obvious correlation between the two skills. For Democrats, this weeds out many skilled communicators: my experience has been that most people left of center really don't like asking others for money, particularly if there is even the remote expectation of a quid pro quo in return. Consequently, the Democrats lose many otherwise qualified candidates because of their unwillingness or inability to cold-call for cash.

This doesn't hurt the Republicans nearly as much because the quid pro quo is part and parcel of the modern conservative's 'ethics' (see the entire Bush Administration). Consequently, they lose far fewer of their best communicators.

The need to raise huge sums of money enables someone who is linguistically challenged like Feinstein to be elected and re-elected. She has the one linguistic skill that matters: the ability to talk people into giving her their money.

By contrast, Democrats tend to forget about the Republicans' highly effective direct mail operations. These operations have forced the Republicans to figure out how to speak to a much broader audience. Perhaps the greatest political potential of the internet will be its ability to force Democratic politicians to speak to a much wider audience to raise money. This could force them to communicate more with rank and file Democrats (or at least those Democrats who are not rich enough to drop thousands of dollars on politicians).

This is one more reason why publicly funded campaigns would be a good idea.

More Confusion About Ohio Voting

I'm inclined to agree with Steve Gilliard that Ohio was full of old-timey voter suppression and fraud (which is substantiated by eyewitness testimony) and that pinning everything on the discrepancy between the exit polls and the votes counts is foolish. Unfortunately, I don't buy Gilliard's refutation either. He could be right, but I would like to think professional statisticians would have already accounted for those issues (e.g., what has happened previously).

In reading RFK Jr.'s article and the rebuttals, several points are unclear to me, and seem vital to clear up:
  1. How well correlated are exit polls versus vote counts in the absence of perceived fraud or voting problems? Both sides disagree on the 'facts': one says the correlation is extremely precise, the other not.
  2. Did the exit polling overestimate either Democratic voters or Republican voters? Both sides disagree. This seems vital to understand the issue: if Democrats were overcounted, then there's no good evidence for fraud (in terms of the discrepancy–again, old-time vote suppression is something different). If Republicans were overcounted, then RFK Jr.'s piece has a lot of merit (and is why originally, I thought the article was legit).
  3. How exactly are the odds of the discrepancy between the exit polls and the vote count determined? The differences in OH, PA, and FL are large ("1 in 666,000"), but even differences of 1-2% would give a very impressive sounding fraction. Because he's calculating this multiplicatively, you will get a very small number (i.e., the probability of OH being fubar by chance X the probability of PA being fubar by chance, etc.). I'm not sure that's the right way to do this, given that this means the probability each state is fubar by chance is 'only' 0.01. If you correct for multiple tests (i.e., if you do enough comparisons, one or two will appear to be significantly different by chance alone), these values aren't significant.
What is really needed is a group like this to look at the data. I think any time a terrorist emergency is called in a critical Democratic stronghold, and observers are barred, something illegal happened. I don't think the exit polling data will get you there, though.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

RFK Jr. Is Persona Non Grata on This Blog

That's the last time I ever listen to that jackass. I should have known after his involvement in the mercury/autism debate that he selectively parses data–just like creationists do. I even remember reading Farhad Manjoo's original debunking of many of RFK Jr.'s claims. I would have thought Rolling Stone would have vetted the piece, and checked some of the arguments; apparently, they didn't.

Did Ken Blackwell do some awful crap in the 2004 election? Absolutely. But RFK Jr. didn't prove it.

Jimmy Breslin Was Right

Between commerating Memorial Day and watching NYC mayor Bloomberg get punked by his Republican friends at DHS, this Jimmy Breslin column from a couple of years ago seems appropriate:
"Mayor Fails to Ask Why"

The soldier's girlfriend, who was weeping quietly in the cold rain, had more sense than all her purported betters in this city.

Informed that the mayor of New York had just made a huge and bold move on the White House and asked for citizenship for her dead soldier, who was a Dominican, she said at the wake, "What good is it now? He can't use it."

He sure can't. He was Private Luis Moreno. He was 19 years old. They were loading him in his box into a hearse for the ride to a cemetery forever.

She also had a question: "Why is he dead?"

She is Jessica Corporan and she is 18 and was going to marry him when he got back from Iraq. If you are going to have your heart broken, 18 is not the easiest age to evade pain, and she showed it on Friday.

Mayor Bloomberg was proud that he sent a hand-delivered note to President Bush requesting citizenship posthumously for Private Moreno.

The idea wilted in the noisy steam coming out of the radiators in St. Francis of Assisi church on Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx.

Along with Bloomberg's request, here was a general of the army giving a bronze star posthumously to Moreno. The general couldn't speak Spanish.

Bloomberg's request was about a 19-year-old who was shot dead in a war in Iraq that was started and continues because of George Bush and no one else. The blood of 525 Americans is on his hands.

Moreno wasn't listed as a citizen of the country, and that is his country's fault. He died for America.

He is so much more than a citizen here. He died a proud member of the aristocracy of the City of New York.

And any letter to the White House from the mayor of this city should not dwell on some cheap technicality. Bloomberg's letter should demand to know why this young man is dead in a box in a cemetery of our city. Why is this young woman in such pain on a wet Bronx street in one of the worst moments in memory?

And why was Julio Moreno in Iraq to begin with?

Bloomberg is supposed to fight for this city and instead he acts like he is afraid of Bush and these other Republicans. Simultaneously, and worse, he acts like he wants to be one of them. He crowed over bringing the Republican convention to New York. It will put people in hotel rooms, he says. Beautiful! We count money while some young guy from the Bronx gets his head blown off.

What do Bush and his people do for Bloomberg? They tell him they are going to bring him into the parlor. Then they put him outside in a crowded room and have him raise money.

And he not only brings nothing for his city, but he is afraid to complain. George Bush has a program called "Leave No Child Behind" and it stands for all of the Republicans: The program is utterly fraudulent. And of all the mayors of cities in the country complaining about schools being slashed and ruined, only Michael Bloomberg remains silent. How marvelous! He is afraid of insulting his great new friends. And what do these people in Washington and Albany give him? They bring back the great News newspaper headline, "Ford to N.Y.: Drop Dead."

It helped make Jimmy Carter the president. This time, it is George Bush telling us to drop dead, and in this case young people actually die.

Bloomberg's idea of standing up for our city's deaths is to write a letter about naturalization.

On Friday, in the deep slush in front of church in the Bronx, in so much sadness in the rain, I could hear the past that got us here, of George Bush, just before we invaded Iraq, bringing up "Dad" when he mentioned Saddam Hussein. "He tried to kill Dad, you know." He made it a personal family matter, and the Bushes clearly think they are a royal family and if you threaten one of them, then the entire country must take up arms.

And on the eve of invading Iraq, Bush made a speech that was a copy of the one made by Adolph Hitler in the hours before his army invaded Poland in September of 1939.

In a State of the Union speech, Bush said that Saddam tried to get uranium from the country of Niger and blow us away with a nuclear bomb. Afterward, the Bush people said the speech was essentially right although it had some wrong. It did. This could be put in three letters: Lie.

After that, from Washington there was one long, whining lie about weapons of mass destruction. If this Saddam had them, he would have used them in the first 20 minutes of the fighting. He had none. A man called Blix from the United Nations inspected Iraqi arms, including trucks found one week apart and empty. Nothing. Colin Powell got up at the UN and, reading whatever it was that Bush and his people gave him, he said the trucks were there on one day to carry away biological weapons before the inspectors arrived and that is why we have to bomb Baghdad.

The news reporters of the nation, the Pekingese of the Press, never questioned a single, solitary sentence of his presentation. All agreed it was a great moment for America. In doing so they stained themselves forever as cowards.

Private Luis Moreno of the Bronx died at 19 from lying that nearly everybody is afraid to refute. Bloomberg the Mayor doesn't want to open his mouth about it. Therefore the only way to take care of him is with the one picture every cameraman in the city wants:

Bloomberg at the Republican convention standing ecstatically with John Ashcroft, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Armey.
Can you even remember when 'only' 525 U.S. troops had died?

Friday, June 2, 2006

When the Milquetoast Wing of the Democratic Party...

...finds the courage to call you inveterate liars, you know you're in trouble. Kevin Drum (italics mine; bold original):
The obvious conclusion is that they didn't think Iraq was the central front on the war on terror back in 2002. They don't think nuclear terrorism is really that big a deal. They aren't worried about long term finances. And they don't really care very much about democracy promotion. They just say these things because they're convenient.

It's this simple: these guys say a lot of stuff they don't believe. Their words are largely meaningless. There's no paradox, and there's really not much point in trying to make it more complicated.

The Mad Biologist was a wee bit ahead of the curve on this one...

Thoughts on a Stolen Election

After reading The Rolling Stone article by RFK Jr. about the illegal disenfranchisement in Ohio during the 2004 election, I had much the same reaction PZ did:
  1. The statistics are rock solid. Sure, it's possible that this is all due to random chance. It's also possible that all the oxygen molecules in the room will wind up in one corner of the room (and no, I'm not carrying around my own air supply). Something illegal happened.
  2. Why did it have to be RFK Jr. who wrote this article? (Here's a slogan for you: "After what he did for autism, imagine what he can do for illegal disenfranchisement and vote fraud.")
  3. I have no idea how to fix this.
It's the last point that scares the hell out of me. I think RFK Jr. is engaged in the stereotypical liberal fallacy: if we inform people of wrongdoing, the media will report it, and the people will stop it. I'm not sure that will happen in this instance. First, too many people, including those in the celebrity media, don't want to admit to themselves that this could happen. It's very hard to convince someone to reject something–the belief in free and fair elections–in which they have a strong psychological investment. Second, the only thing the Republican'ts are good at is grasping the levers of political power. Nothing shames them into doing the right thing, or as those Andre Aggassi commercials used to say, "Winning is everything" (until, of course, he stopped winning...).

If electoral fraud happens again, our government will face a serious crisis of legitimacy. I remember during the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations how angry I was that both these men won elections by inflaming the 'culture wars' and race-baiting ("states rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi, welfare queens, and Willie Horton). Nonetheless, I could accept that a majority of my fellow citizens were complete fucking idiots because I could do something about that (such as convince them to think differently).

But a stolen election is different. It is simply a kinder, gentler version of tyranny. Short of political violence (more about that in a bit), there isn't much I personally can do. My fear is that, if this happens, some chucklehead (who probably isn't even politically active or a Democrat) will lob a Molotov cocktail through the window of an RNC office somewhere. A chucklehead from the right will retaliate, and then, and then, and then...

This could get out of control, particularly with the eliminationist Dominionist rhetoric on the right. It could make the Civil War-Reconstruction Era bushwackers and jayhawkers look tame by comparison. What frightens me the most is that I don't think most people realize how easy it is for the zero-sum rules to be adopted. History is replete with example (e.g., Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s) of what was essentially a conflict over civil rights and liberties degenerating into a brutal sectarian, civil war, often due to initial malfeasance by those who held power.

Someone who is very clever needs to figure out how fix this. Getting rid of electronic voting machines would be a good start, but it wouldn't stop premeditated declarations of 'terrorist emergencies' that would make a fair, monitored vote count impossible. We need to fix this now because there are a lot of angry people out there. I'm afraid we're a lot closer to the brink than many realize.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

I Think We Found Our Own Flag-Burning

I've always wondered why Democrats haven't been able to find some utterly trivial issue (e.g., the War on Christmas) and hype it like all get out*. Seriously, there had to be something stupid that the Democrats could use. I'm not saying they've always been accurate ('the Social Security lockbox'), but even that was about something important--Social Security.

But I think I've found the issue: that stupid Dominionist shoot-'em up video game. The one where you get to murder shoot all of the unbelievers. I was reading Orcinus' take on the video game, and this bit struck me:
My friend Mrs. Robinson, a Silicon Valley refugee who comments frequently here, sent me a note along with the link to this piece:
I spent eleven years in the games business. I left in large part because I realized that most of what was being turned out by the mid-'90s were games designed to desensitize kids to killing, either covertly or very overtly. I felt like I was helping the right-wing train its next generation of soldiers. It wasn't a good feeling. I needed to do something else.

When something like Abu Ghraib or Haditha happens, I feel the weight of that all over again. This game...well, I guess it speaks for itself.

Here it is: your at-home training camp for the next generation of eliminationists.
It will be revealing, I think, to see how many good "Christians" snap up copies of this game -- and how many actually endorse it or defend it.
Is this video game stupid and trivial compared to the carnage in Iraq, the spiraling deficits, 44 million people without healthcare, or the slow-motion destruction of our scientific infrastructure? Absolutely. But plenty of politicians have prospered with stupid.

Democrats should immediately start asking if Republican'ts support this video game, if Republican'ts believe that those who are not Dominionist Christians should be gunned down in cold blood, and if Republican'ts think Catholics aren't good Christians (just watching Bill Donohue's head explode from that alone would be worth asking the question).

What this does is establish the idea that Republican'ts are beholden to eliminationist religious fanatics (and while we're discussing word usage, the Democrats must begin to use the word 'eliminationist' every chance they get). This is how we win–or at least rollback–the culture wars.

*I've always wanted to blog the phrase "like all get out." I'm better now.

Because Sen. Frist Really Cares About Patients

Republican Senator Bill Frist, whose medical training apparently includes the ability to make long distance neurological diagnoses of brain-dead patients, is one of the major owners of the HCA hospital chain (along with other members of his family). By way of DailyKos, we find out what the Frist-owned HCA is up to:
"HCA tries to shut us up when we talk about the dangerous situations on the hospital floor. This month, they have demonstrated that they will do anything to stop this information from getting out," said Russel Main, a Respiratory Therapist at Riverside Medial Center. "I work with people who are having difficulty breathing. I can't help them because we are so short staffed, so I have to choose which patient is getting the least amount of air. I have to tell patients who can't breathe that I will get to them as soon as I can. This is information that the public needs to know."
Maybe if these patients had feeding tubes inserted into their stomachs, Frist would give a damn. But really, he is very concerned with the whole sanctity of life thing...

At this point, nothing Republican political operatives do surprises me.