Friday, March 21, 2014

The Worst Special Interest Ever

Chief Puppeteer Wayne LaPierre

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

~ Rose Kennedy

Anita told me about a story she heard on NPR while driving to Grand Rapids that made me sick.

It seems that President Obama nominated a truly amazing young man to be the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Vivek Murthy, who wasn’t even born until a year after the country celebrated its Bicentennial, is probably one of the most qualified individuals ever to be nominated for any federal post by any president.

He graduated as valedictorian from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in 1994. He then attended Harvard, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, graduating with honors in just three years. He received his medical degree from Yale Medical School and decided to earn an MBA in health care management from Yale School of Management while he was at it.

Dr. Vivek Murthy
Dr. Murthy completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women's Hospital. He taught medicine at Harvard Medical School, served on the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – which advises the National Prevention Council on strategies to advance the nation’s health – and founded a system that brings new drugs to market faster and more safely. Oh, and he’s a recognized leader in HIV prevention and AIDS education who founded a nonprofit organization to work on these issues in the U.S. and India.

Kind of smart, isn’t he? Kind of unbelievably smart, in fact, and motivated and disciplined and talented and awesome, don’t you think? Surely the wise and noble men and women who comprise Congress will approve of President Obama’s choice and allow this noteworthy man – who’s recognized by other doctors as firmly in the medical mainstream – to assume this office and improve public health, right?

Wrong. The National Rifle Association, which has the testicles of scores of male politicians in jars on shelves in a large basement storage room at their headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, doesn’t like the fact that Dr. Vivek once had the unmitigated gall to publicly state that guns are a health care issue and an assault weapons ban is a good idea.

Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Doesn’t he know that the NRA calls all the shots here in the Land of Chuck Heston and Ted “Motor City Madman” Nugent? U.S. public policy is dictated by NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who opposes banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring universal background checks and limiting in any way the public’s access to semi-automatic weapons. Public policy isn’t shaped with the best interests of the citizenry in mind. It’s shaped by fear-mongering and lying and not giving a shit about slaughtered first-graders.

When asked if the White House was abandoning Dr. Murthy’s nomination, a spokesman said, “We are recalibrating our approach, but in answer to your question, no.”

Recalibrating your approach? What in the hell does that mean? That’s the kind of infuriating gobbledygook that earns President Obama the scorn of progressives and emboldens the GOP to forge ahead with its evil machinations.

This blog post isn’t about presidential appointments or the surgeon general or White House statements or even Dr. Vivek. It’s about how flawed and skewed and broken and dirty our system of government is, how bad it smells and how distressing it is that a pro-gun lobbying group founded in 1871 can control elected officials like puppets on strings.

Since Dr. Vivek probably won’t get the chance to serve as surgeon general, maybe he can find the time to make a house call because this story makes me physically ill.

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