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(December 30, 2002 // link)

The truth really is stranger than fiction. It has been reported that the mystery senator who included the Eli Lilly protection provisions in the Homeland security Bill was none other than Dr. William Frist, hand picked successor to Trent Lott.

For those of you who donít remember, buried deep in the recently passed Homeland Security Act is a provision that protects drug manufacturer Eli Lilly from lawsuits by parents who believe their children were harmed by the preservative Thimerisal, contained in childrenís vaccines. It seems there may be a link between this mercury compound and an increasing incidence of autism in vaccinated children. Some would argue that this legislation is the payoff for the huge cash contributions by drug companies to political campaigns, and that it may be related to the fact that Mitch Daniels, Bush Budget Director, and Sydney Taurel, Homeland Security Advisory Council, are both former high level Eli Lilly executives before they took their new jobs.

Until recently it has been difficult to ascertain just who inserted this provision in the homeland security act legislation. Now it turns out that strong evidence points to none other than Doctor Frist who drew the link between Homeland security and protecting the ass-ets and liabilities of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from legitimate lawsuits by children and families that the company may have harmed. This revelation, coupled with Dr. Fristís own alleged associations with less than racially tolerant groups and organizations should make for an interesting year.

The Democrats could not make this stuff up. There seems to be an unraveling of sorts in the works, and dare I say, things are actually looking up for the Democrats. The Presidentís hand picked replacement for senate majority leader Trent Lott is an 8 year politician who did not even vote in an election until the early 1990ís. To make matters worse (or better depending on your perspective) he has now been linked to an offensive and blatantly political piece of legislation slipped into a post 9/11 law that undermines our fourth amendment privacy rights. Throw in his associations with those less than racially tolerant groups and organizations and all of the attention Trent got could pale in comparison.

What I hope will be more significant however is the attention that this will all draw to the southern power structure that makes all of this possible. In order to get elected president in this country, even the best candidates must dance with the devil of southern racism. President Bush is not my favorite President however I believe him to be a thoroughly decent man without a racist bone in his body. Despite this quality he as forced to make appearances (such as the Bob Jones University visit) that linked him with the traditional segregationalist policies of the South in order to garner the all important electoral votes of the conservative southern states.

During his bid for the Democratic nomination for President in 2000, Senator Bill Bradley said that race was the most important issue of our times. He predicted that race would dominate the politics of our future, and he argued that until the racist attitudes entrenched in our political system were eradicated, there would continue to be a disenfranchised and less than equal segment of our population. He was right and for this reason guys like Trent Lott cannot remain in power. President Bush knew this and by refusing to defend Lott, he acted responsibly. It will be difficult to tell if Bill Frist actually shares the offensive ideals which undid Trent Lott and which left Strom Thurmond in the Senate for over fifty years. If he does, he also needs to go. If he dose not he needs to say so, clearly and unequivocally. We need to keep the pressure up until he does.

There are too many compromises in life and in politics today. As a society we are becoming complacent to them. I saw a recent interview with basketball great Shaquille OíNeal who said that for all of his wealth and success, he still recognized the effects of segregation and race in his southern home town; Blacks on one side of the tracks, Whites on the other. He only goes home, he said, because of family.

As a Democrat, Iím going to miss Trent. But if I was writing an episode of West Wing on the subject, Id replace Trent with Dr. Frist. After all, truth can be better than fiction.


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