Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bushites Screw Public Health

Great Job, Richard

Here we see Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona in happier times. This photograph was taken March 22, 2002 at his Nomination Ceremony to be Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Carmona is from Tucson where to this day he remains widely liked. He served with Special Forces in Vietnam, earned two purple hearts, was a police office and SWAT team member, and a nurse. He was the 1993 Physician of the the Year for Pima County, Arizona, and before he was Surgeon General, was a Trauma Surgeon, as well as Clinical Professor of Surgery, Public Health, and Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona, as well as Chairman of the State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System.

Short version: Had I stayed in Tucson as a paramedic, he'd have ended up my boss. He was one of the good guys in Tucson, even if I don't agree with all his political views and he ended up working for the worst President in U.S. history. He was ignorant of national politics. When the President asked him to serve, he was excited; he thought he could make a difference.

Dr. Carmona isn't politically ignorant now. New York Times:

Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised

WASHINGTON, July 10 — Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

Dr. Carmona is one of a growing list of present and former administration officials to charge that politics often trumped science within what had previously been largely nonpartisan government health and scientific agencies.

His testimony comes two days before the Senate confirmation hearings of his designated successor, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. Two members of the Senate health committee have already declared their opposition to Dr. Holsinger’s nomination because of a 1991 report he wrote that concluded that homosexual sex was unnatural and unhealthy. Dr. Carmona’s testimony may further complicate Dr. Holsinger’s nomination.

In his testimony, Dr. Carmona said that at first he was so politically na├»ve that he had little idea how inappropriate the administration’s actions were. He eventually consulted six previous surgeons general, Republican and Democratic, and all agreed, he said, that he faced more political interference than they had.

On issue after issue, Dr. Carmona said, the administration made decisions about important public health issues based solely on political considerations, not scientific ones.

“I was told to stay away from those because we’ve already decided which way we want to go,” Dr. Carmona said.

He described attending a meeting of top officials in which the subject of global warming was discussed. The officials concluded that global warming was a liberal cause and dismissed it, he said.

“And I said to myself, ‘I realize why I’ve been invited. They want me to discuss the science because they obviously don’t understand the science,’ ” he said. “I was never invited back.”

Dr. Carmona wanted to address the controversial topic of sexual education, he said. Scientific studies suggest that the most effective approach includes a discussion of contraceptives.

“However there was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt that was scientifically incorrect,” he said.
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." -- Abraham Lincoln

Doctors by their training, want to tell the truth. Way to go Dr. Carmona. Tucson welcomes you home.