The Parade of Horribles

Res Ipsa Loquitur is a legal term meaning “the thing speaks for itself.” Donald Trump’s personnel selections aren’t just speaking–they’re screaming.

Trump has chosen people for cabinet positions who are unalterably opposed to the mission of the agencies they would lead. It is difficult–okay, impossible–to imagine a more terrifying–or less competent– group of cabinet nominees.

Betsy DeVos wants to destroy public education, so Trump wants her to be Secretary of Education. Jeff Sessions is a (marginally) “kinder, gentler” white supremacist, so of course Trump wants him at the Justice Department. And my cardiologist cousin just sent me the following rundown on Tom Price, nominated to run Health and Human Services (HHS).

I’m not going to paraphrase it: I’m just going to share it. And then I think I’ll go throw up.


This is a summary of an article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan 12, 2017). With regard to the department of health and human services (HHS), only two previous secretaries have been physicians. For the most part, all of us physicians work to defend not only our own patients, but society at large against dangers to health, and in the process, usually eschew venal and self oriented goals. That is why most of us chose this respected profession of care-giving in the first place.

Let us begin by describing the good doctors: Otis Bowen, our former Indiana Governor, was Ronald Reagan’s second HHS secretary, and he engineered the first major expansion of Medicare, championed comparative effectiveness research and, together with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, another exemplary physician, led the fight against HIV-AIDS. Louis Sullivan, HHS secretary under President George H.W. Bush, focused his attention on care for vulnerable populations, campaigned against tobacco use, led the development of federally sponsored clinical guidelines, and introduced President Bush’s health insurance plan, which incorporated income-related tax credits and a system of risk adjustment. All these aforementioned physicians, serving in GOP administrations, drew on a long tradition of physicians as advocates for the most vulnerable, were defenders of public health, and enthusiastic proponents of scientific approaches to clinical care.

Now comes the bad: In sharp contrast with these previous examples, Tom Price, Trump’s pick for secretary of HHS, shows a record that demonstrates less concern for the sick, the poor, and the health of the public, in favor of greater concern for the economic well-being of the rich and the care-givers themselves.

To exemplify this point, let’s enumerate his previous positions.

1. Price has sponsored legislation opposing regulations on cigars and has voted against regulating tobacco as a drug, in reality, this product is actually far worse than most drugs!

2. In 2007, during the presidency of George W. Bush, he was one of only 47 representatives to vote against the Domenici-Wellstone Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which improved coverage for mental health in private insurance plans.

3. He voted against funding for combating AIDS, malaria, and TB, and against expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and in favor of allowing hospitals to turn away Medicaid and Medicare patients seeking nonemergency care if they could not afford copayments.

4. He favors converting Medicare to a premium-support system.

5. He opposed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and has voted against legislation prohibiting job discrimination against LGBT people and against enforcement of laws against anti-LGBT hate crimes.

6. He favors amending the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.

7. He opposes stem-cell research and voted against expanding the NIH budget and against the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act, showing particular animus toward the Cancer Moonshot. Would he continue this stance if he developed cancer himself?

8. He is a leader of the repeal of the ACA (“Obamacare”) in favor of a regressive “plan” which, without going into details, will offer much greater subsidies relative to income for purchasers with high incomes and more meager subsidies for those with low incomes. In effect, Price’s replacement proposal would make it much more difficult for low-income Americans to afford health insurance, diverting federal tax dollars to people who can already afford it, and also substantially reducing protections for those with preexisting conditions. The end result would be a shaky market dominated by health plans that offer limited coverage and high cost-sharing.

9. Strongly anti-abortion and advocating the defunding of Planned Parenthood, he has accepted the validity of the fraudulently modified videotapes used against this organization—despite their many pro-health programs for the poor.

The HHS Department oversees a broad set of health programs that touch about half of all Americans. Over five decades covering nine presidential tenures of both parties, HHS secretaries have used these programs to protect the most vulnerable Americans. The nomination of Tom Price highlights a sharp contrast between this tradition of compassionate leadership and the priorities of the incoming administration.

I am not at all proud of this “fellow” physician!


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche was correct two fold:

    What does not kill me, makes me stronger.

    He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

  2. And so the “great, empty states” chose. After all, on the farm, you have to take care of yourself — none of this running to the doctor every time there’s a birth or a broken leg. Eh?

  3. Seriously, Prof., I hope you are sending this to Sen. Todd Young, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for Sen. Donnelly, and all the House members to have it, too.

  4. What is happening in America is very simple. Donald Trump and the Republican Party are carrying out Grover Norquist’s grand plan to the end. That’s all.

    All the past will be destroyed to build a new future under the direction of our Great Architect and “newly crowned” president, Donald Trump. Like Adolph Hitler, he will have his hand in everything, even if the “jerk” has zero qualifications.

    Like I said many months ago, I would rather have Hitler instead of Trump. As I pointed out, Adolph Hitler was a decorated war veteran. What’s Trump’s background? Answer: probable draft dodger. Hitler was no joke, I’m afraid Trump is one bad joke.

    A warning to my Jewish friends, don’t take much solace from the fact that Trump has a Jewish son-in-law.

  5. I believe these are all pence choices and trump is allowing him to make those decisions and choices because he doesn’t really know who to choose and would never make the effort to take the time to research who he might really want in his cabinet. He never intended to get elected.

  6. I cannot bring myself to honor trump or pence by capitalizing the first letters of their names.

    pence is EVIL and trump is disgusting!

  7. Nancy,

    Right on the mark.

    On a bit of a hopeful note, if any of the Trump team think that the bureaucracy will help them pull it all down they are highly mistaken. The workers inside of those interwoven agencies won’t give up their jobs and destroy what they have built just because some ideological zealot tells them to. While good citizens resist on the outside, on the inside federal employees will wage a real battle.

  8. Marv; Hitler had two additional attributes Trump lacks, he was kind to dogs and was in a monogamous relationship with Eva Braun for years prior to their deaths.

    Hitler did evidence an interest in mental health issues of all citizens; he resolved the problem by killing them quickly. Trump will force slow deaths through lack of medical care on those of us with physical as well as mental health issues…another form of torture causing suffering not unlike waterboarding he would support reinstating.

    I won’t go into detain (again) about my own misadventures through the Indiana University Health Care, Indiana Medical Licensing Board, Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights. Will just point out that HHS is another Republican issue that needs to be rebuilt from the local level if it is to move forward. The Republican lack of action regarding health care for all Americans is on shaky ground; if ACA is repealed with no replacement the number of deaths related to lack of health care will not be on their consciences as they have none. It will have an effect on the national economy; paying out-of-pocket for health care and/or funeral costs leaves little to buy products or services. Ending health care for millions will have repercussions the Republicans have evidently not considered beyond ending what they term “Obamacare” after our biracial president. President Obama will soon be gone; the GOP problems will just be beginning. They are “cutting off their nose to spite their face” and “cutting themselves off at the knees”; let the Tweets begin!

  9. Oops; that should read “I will not go into DETAIL…” I need to refine my self-editing to check more than spelling.

  10. I might add that Tom Price is another anti-science guy. What he might do to NIH research is more frightening than many realize. As he will have the final say on the budget, he can gut any programs he doesn’t like. Horrifying!

  11. JoAnn,

    Regarding your comment that the repeal of the ACA without a replacement would have an effect on the national economy –

    They simply don’t care. Look at what they have been doing to our economy over the past eight years. It has caused great damage for the middle class and lower income Americans and has lifted up the wealthy to even greater wealth. They have a complete disregard for anyone who cannot afford to lavish them with monetary donations and lavish gifts.

  12. We have to give credit where credit is due. The Koch Bros have been extraordinarily successful in clearing the road for their future best shot at wealthiest in the world at a time when the smartest bet was them being put out of business with their completely obsolete products.

    They pulled it off right under our noses.

    Republicans are ready, willing and able to clear out all obstacles to make more money regardless of the impact on others.

    A new accounting has concluded that 8 people have more money than the poorest half of the world and the GOP are incensed that that list of 8 does not include the Kochs.

    Their goal? The Kochs lead the list plus the fact that that wealth has to be shared by 8 people is unacceptable.

    So, stretch goal: only Trumps and Kochs on the list and instead of half of the world get it up to a more aristocratic 90% of the world.

  13. His cabinet is a Rogue’s Gallery of horribles chosen in order to destroy all the progress we’ve gained since the Nixon administration created the EPA, and passed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

  14. Trump is not the first but the noisiest man ever to be elected president; there were Tyler, Reagan, Bush and others who were similarly clueless. “Silent” Cal Coolidge was Trump’s antithesis; he had nothing to say about anything, which produced Dorothy Thompson’s famous reply to the news that “the president (Cal) is dead,” to wit: “How can they tell?”

    It is clear to me that Trump has appointed very rich people to his cabinet based on the baseless theory that they will do good jobs because they either made or inherited (like himself) lots of money or, alternatively, will do his manipulative bidding down the road, and most likely both. Such appointments to the narcissistic mind are mere extensions of self, and giving power and influence to a narcissist(which we are about to do) is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on the fire on a windy day.

    Trump will defend his billionaire choices who are opposed to the missions of the agencies they will head with the argument that he is draining the swamp and shaking up Washington. Wrong. There is a difference between draining the swamp and destroying it, as he and the rest of us will find when raw corporate capitalism without rule, regulation or other public controls totally takes over every democratic institution we have so laboriously concocted since 1789.

    That understanding of the impending loss in totality of our democracy is what put me in the MLK parade yesterday and in the Women’s Rights March this Saturday. Jefferson, Adams and Madison gave us their vision of democracy and now it is time to for us to do whatever is necessary not only to preserve but expand such a precious gift. As I have written before, To Arms! The ruffians are at the gate – the rich ruffians!

  15. The Kochs now have one of their most devoted worshipers in the second highest office in this country.

  16. And let’s not forget that while trump made the final “choices” of these candidates, it is clear that the lists of potential nominees were assembled by pence and his team. Remember that Franklin Graham claims he was offered the Education post first, but he turned it down. Need more reasons to vomit? listen to this:

  17. After hearing rumors of paid operatives, paid resistors, I decided to do my own ‘fact checking’.
    Copied and pasted below. Horrible is horrible.

    Indianapolis jobs > Indianapolis miscellaneous jobs

    Get paid fighting against Trump!
    Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2017 10:02 PM

    Get paid fighting against Trump!

    Demand Protest is the largest private grassroots support organization in the United States. We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!

    We are currently seeking operatives to help send a strong message at upcoming inauguration protests.

    PLEASE NOTE: You will be required to attend an in-person workshop and sign our standard non-disclosure agreement.

    As a Demand Protest operative you will receive a monthly retainer of $2,500 on top of our standard per-event pay of $50/hr, as long as you participate in at least 6 events a year. We are extremely flexible and can work with almost any existing work schedule. Full-time operatives receive health, vision and dental insurance for families, flexible vacations, and paid trainings. Travel expenses are always paid.

    All operatives have access to our 24/7 phone helpdesk in addition to in-person support at events.


    • Location: Indianapolis

    • Post ID: 19837177 indianapolis

  18. BSH; if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! My guess is this is how Trump got many of his supporters and votes.

  19. Yes, well, there is psychology involved here too. He could never hire anyone who he thought would outshine him in any way. Second, these boobs and misplaced souls give him perfect fodder for saying, “You’re fired!”, his favorite thing.

    There is no limit to the shallowness of Donald Trump. The world is going to eat him alive. Sadly, the rest of us are on the plate too.

  20. BSH,

    Sure looks like a “fake” ad to me. Whoever is collecting names and info… there are many truly independent and voluntary protest groups out there. Why this? Someone is trying to make the real protests look like “paid for” gatherings and get info on people at the same time. The very kind of a thing that Republicans are noted for.

  21. Pete: the article I read about those 8 men that own more than the 3.5 billion souls on the earth…listed Charles Koch as the 9th richest in the world with a question mark.

  22. BSH, you’ve been “had”. This is clearly a false flag operation. When I google “demand protest”, the first links are all right wing news sites reporting on this alleged phenomenon of recruitment ads for paid protestors. How could it be that word of this amazing opportunity is spreading faster among the right wing than among the groups that would more likely be interested in actually using it? Perhaps because they are the ones who planted it there in the first place? Tell me, where did you first hear of these rumors and what made you look for them yourself?

  23. BSH:

    According to several “media” sources mostly alt.right including the right leaning Washington Times, Demand Protest placed similar ads in at least 12 cities across the country. Demand Protest is supposedly offering $2,500 a month, plus $50 a hour for actually attending and protesting — as long as the so-called “operatives attend and protest at at least 6 events a year; plus health, vision and dental insurance.

    Currently there is very little information available on the internet about Demand Protest. One blogger claims that even though “Demand Protest” claims to be headquartered in San Francisco, there is no Demand Protest registered with the CA Secretary of State and the phone numbers listed don’t pan out. FWIW.

    I have no proof at this point, but in this age of “fake news,” “Russian Propaganda ‘news’ sites, etc., I am extremely suspicious about this.

    $2,500 a month ($30,000 a year!) for protesting at least 6 times a year? Plus, $50 a hour for time actually spent protesting? Health, vision and dental insurance? If you count a couple of hours or so for each protest (72 X $50 = $3,600) plus the costs of the benefits — probably at least $200-300 a month, we’re actually talking about a $36,000 a year job.

    Damn, not a bad gig! Maybe Trump is right; he really is bringing back good paying jobs with benefits. (Alert: a little sarcasm).

    I don’t think this one passes the “smell test.” As has often been said, if it seems too good to be true, it very likely isn’t true. Who the hell could afford to, let alone would pay thousands of “operatives” $36,000 a year to protest 6 times a year? Maybe I will be proven wrong, but I think this one is a pretty sophisticated “false flag” operation.

  24. BSH, are you agreeing that this is almost certainly planted information? I’m still interested in hearing about where you originally heard these rumors.

  25. People like to blame the DNC for Trump. I think that it’s clear now that absent Comey and Putin we wouldn’t be in this position.

    Of course we can’t blame them for the proportion of the population who fall for blantently false propaganda. That’s an educational problem that may well be temporary and related more to the failure of education for only a couple of generations of Americans.

  26. >> Today, only eight men own the same amount of wealth as the 3.6 billion people who comprise the poorest half of humanity. Those eight men are Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg.

    Oxfam interviewed women working in a garment factory in Vietnam who work 12 hours a day, six days a week and still struggle to get by on the $1 an hour they earn producing clothes for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands,” the organization wrote. <<
    How odd I was drafted along with many other Americans and were sent to Vietnam to stop Communism. The Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese version was they were resisting Neo-Colonialism and American Imperialism. Red China and at the time the Soviet Union provided arms, etc., to the North Vietnamese and VC. You have to wonder what Ho Chi Minh would think.

    Of course in the World of Steroid Capitalism the expectation is US workers should take a pay cut to compete with the $1 an hour Vietnamese Workers. Capitalism can be far more efficient than State Controlled economies, but Capitalism in terms of ethics or morality is hollow. Those that control Capitalism (humans) are not hollow their guiding principle is profit above all.

    The Trumpet and his Cabinet are dedicated to profit over all. We (the 99%) have no counter weight politically. The Republicans and Establishment Corporate Democrats are the new aristocracy, ever bit as entrenched as the Royalty of an earlier age.

  27. Don’t know where BSH found it, but according to what I found on the internet, the ads were mostly placed in weekly type, alternate papers in 12 cities. I looked and found it in the jobs section of Indianapolis free weekly NUVO.

  28. DavidF, I was actually interested in knowing where BSH originally heard of “rumors of paid operatives” that spurred the search that found this ad.

  29. Mary S:
    Again can’t speak for BSH. There were accusations from the Right throughout the campaign of “paid operatives” being paid to protest at Trump rallies and events. Don’t think any actual proof was ever offered for the claims — not that Trump,, ever offered any proof or facts to back up anything he or they said.

  30. Mary Strinka – there surely can’t be any connection between the info in your 10:23 post and evangelical pence. Looks like he will get his wish for a theocracy and trump will get his wish for fascism.

    A fascist theocracy is shaping up quickly.

  31. David, I wasn’t asking you to speak for anyone else. I’d prefer to hear directly from BSH: what triggered you to search for this local ad? Why did you choose to reproduce it here, in full, without even the most minimal of reality checking? Did you honestly believe this was a serious offer being made?

  32. Wingnuts accused George Soros of paying protesters to thwart Drumpf rallies all through the campaign. George Soros id the right wing’s boogeyman like the koch bros are to the left, except no one has proven , to the best of my knowledge, George Soros has paid any one.

  33. The surest way to increase poverty and dependence on gubmint welfare is to put right wing nut jobs in charge of everything.

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