11 mins read

Dr. Rick Bright testified this morning before the House Subcommittee on Health.

What started on Twitter as me live tweeting the hearing turned into a Twitter discussion about the GOP, truth, and fairness.

Dr. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was removed from his position because he objected when Trump wanted “flood the market” with hydroxychloroquine, bypassing the vetting process and without requiring that the drug be used under the care of a physician. He contended that he was retaliated against for refusing to go along when the Trump Administration and people with “political connections” wanted to profit from the pandemic by selling an unproven and dangerous drug.

He opened the hearing by warning that “Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”

“First and foremost,” he said, “we need to be truthful with the American people.”

Also: “We have the world’s greatest scientists. Let us lead. Let us speak without fear of retribution.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) asked Dr. Bright: If we have no alternative treatments, what’s wrong with pushing hydroxychloroquine out there?

Dr. Bright responded by saying that we first need to make sure the drugs are safe.

Duh, right?

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) wanted Dr. Bright to give his “reaction personally,” to hearing about hydroxychloroquine. Bright explained the kinds of controlled studies and evaluations that he requires before he can give an opinion. (The question was like what’s your personal feeling about this drug? Dr. Bright was like, I don’t do personal feelings. I’m a scientist.)

Rep. Bucshon (R-IN) said doctors shouldn’t have to wait for a ‘government bureaucracy to approve a drug they want to use.’

  • Democrats: Regulations based on science saves lives.
  • Republicans: Get rid of regulations. Let people do whatever they want (unless what they want to do offends their religion).

Carter(R-GA) asked: When did you sour on hydroxychloroquine? (His implication was that Dr. Bright “soured” on it when he learned Trump wanted to push it.)

Bright: I soured on it when there was a push to make it broadly available not under close supervision of a physician.

Basically, Bright kept repeating some version of: We need a scientifically-based plan. There’s no plan. In particular, he emphasized that not having a plan for when a vaccine is available can also lead to disaster. As in, how will the vaccine be distributed? We’ll need an “equitable distribution.”

Raise your hand if you can imagine this administration exchanging vaccines for favors

Happy woman raising one hand

In the most cringe worthy exchange of the session, Rep. Mullen (R-OK) started asking about Dr. Bright’s current health, his salary, and his current work status. Apparently he thought Dr. Bright was on sick leave and wanted to know how he could testify if he was sick.

In fact (as Dr. Bright explained) he was on sick leave for a few weeks, but now he is on vacation time. He was on sick leave for a few weeks because of hypertension, which he attributed to the stress of being pushed out of his job because he wouldn’t go along with corruption.

Mullen said (snidely): “You can’t even manage your own hypertension.”

At one point, Dr. Bright said: I was pushed out of my job.

He also cast doubt on the 12 – 18 month time frame for a vaccine, and said that Trump’s prediction in March of a vaccine within a few months was optimistic but not based on science.

Here’s another alarming part: He explained that he sent out the warning to members of the administration in mid-January that there was a shortage of necessary supplies. He was met with indifference and excuses.

As a result of the delay, he said, “lives were lost.”

Recall that:

  • Much money and many years were spent trying to pin 4 deaths in a foreign attack on the Secretary of State


  • Real evidence that inaction by the administration killed people is ignored.

It’s a feature of the GOP, not a bug.

Hudson (R-NC) claimed the hearing is a partisan and political attempt to undermine the Trump administration. Yes, he said that.

Hudson then spent some time praising the Trump administration for his leadership, and blaming the Obama administration for any problems that occurred.

It’s both numbers and evidence. 

A Secretary of State is not responsible for a foreign attack on an embassy. There was no evidence or logical reason to blame Clinton. Yet, there is an abundance of evidence that TRUMP-GOP policies are killing people, and the GOP insists that any inquiry is politically motivated and an attempt to undermine Trump.

The answer has to do with the kind of party the GOP has become.

The GOP knows that Benghazi was politically motivated. Remember when Trey Gowdy admitted it? The GOP now accuses Bright and this committee of being politically motivated.

If you think there is no such thing as fairness or equity, the only thing that matters is power and who has it. The GOP doesn’t believe that fairness or equality exists (they have a hierarchical view of the world) so they assume the Democrats are also trying to grab power.

You can tell when you’re dealing with an anti-fairness hierarchical person because they say, “Both sides lie,” or “everyone cheats.” That’s how you know they don’t believe anyone has principles. So it’s all about grabbing power.

It seems to me that if a person says he or she believes in fairness, and then pivot to “equality of outcome” or “opportunity,” they’re reverting to hierarchy. Just because a person says, “I believe in fairness,” doesn’t mean they do.

The reason Trump and pals are always feeling victimized is because when others assert their rights, Trump and pals feel that their place at the top of the hierarchy is being challenged.

That’s why the best test is a comment like “everyone lies.” Nobody says “I don’t believe in fairness.”

Trump thinks the world is horribly unfair to him. Remember when he said he’s treated worse than any president in history, including Lincoln.

Hierarchical people shout “unfair” when others assert their rights.

This question comes from someone who believes that truth and facts exist:

People who don’t believe in objective truth assume that Bright is shilling for the Democrats and trying to sabotage Trump. I visualize a chart like this:

If there’s no objective truth and it’s all a matter of opinion—and Trump is the Leader so his opinion determines “reality”—Dr. Bright must be a disgruntled employee out to sabotage Trump. That’s the worldview from Column 2.

“Why would a health/science professional lie?” is from a Column 1 person.

I’ll take a stab at this. What if we respond with something like this: “What you’re saying is that nobody has principles; Everyone acts in their own self-interests. I disagree. There ARE people in elected office with principles.”

Now, if you can’t see eye to eye on that, you will obviously never agree on politics. It’s a basic difference.

Or how about this idea:

G-Shell asked:

We don’t take the high road to move or win over the would-be fascists and oligarchs. We take the high road because there are more fairness people and we want to build a majority coalition to win elections.

We say: We stand for fairness, equality, science, and truth. We prove it by taking the high road. Then we ask: Are you a fairness person? Then join us.

If we don’t take the high road, then there is no party standing for truth.

If we try to cheat as well as unprincipled people, we’ll lose. You can’t out-Herod Herod. So we distinguish ourselves by taking the high road.

It’s what Michelle Obama meant when she said, “When they go low, we go high.

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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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