The Corpus Callosum

(RWOS=Republican War
on Science
) In
case you haven’t noticed (and why would you?), the USA is without a
Surgeon General.  The old one, Dr. href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Carmona" rel="tag">Richard
Carmona, unhired himself for unclear reasons last July, as href="http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2006/10/the_surgeon_generals_new_gig.php">noted
on Effect Measure.  The
candidate for the position, Dr. href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Holsinger" rel="tag">James
Holsinger, has proven to be href="http://www.individual.com/story.php?story=67035601">unpopular
with the Democratically-controlled Congress that must approve him.
 

He’s unpopular here at ScienceBlogs, too.  I was going to
write a disparaging post about him, but href="http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/06/the_presidents_new_surgeon_gen.php">Ed
Brayton and href="http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2007/05/surgeon_general_nominee_holy_s.php">Revere
beat me to it.  As did href="http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1972">Pam’s
House Blend
, href="http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pid=202973">The
Nation
, href="http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/6/25/131041/542">Talk
To Action
, href="http://www.onublog.com/post-1292">One Nation
Under Blog
, href="http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/06/02/bushs-nominee-for-surgeon-general-wants-to-cure-teh-gay/">Crooks
and Liars
, and href="http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/6/1/11540/63349">Daily
Kos
(among others).   href="http://garrettsparks.blogspot.com/2007/05/james-holsinger-sounding-reasonable-so.html">Sparkgrass
Community apparently was willing to suspend judgment.
 I was not able to find any blog with something overtly
positive to say about the guy, although, honestly, I did not look very
hard. Interestingly, he’s also been criticized by conservative groups.

Anyway, the point is, what I really want to say is, that the former
S.G., Richard Carmona, announce in Senate hearings that he was
“muzzled” by the Bush Administration (and we have the video to prove he
said it):

href="http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559562">Former
Bush Surgeon General Says He Was Muzzled

WASHINGTON
(Reuters) Jul 10 – The first U.S. surgeon
general appointed by President George W. Bush accused his
administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on
key issues like embryonic stem cell research.

“Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological,
theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply
buried,” Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation’s top doctor
from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives panel.

“The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a
democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or
marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing
political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the
nation, not the doctor of a political party,” Carmona added.

Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his
speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues.
He mentioned political interference preventing him from discussing the
science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his
misgivings about the administration’s embrace of “abstinence-only” sex
education.

Carmona’s comments came two days before a Senate committee is due to
hold a hearing on Bush’s nomination of Dr. James Holsinger, who faces
Democratic criticism, as his successor. The administration allowed
Carmona to finish his term as surgeon general last year without a
replacement in place.


‘s blog-like site has video footage (does “footage”
mean anything in digital media?) of the exchange on the subject. (HT: href="http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/07/george_w_bush_get_your_religion_out_of_our_science.php">Thought
Theater.)

Here is one of them:

value="http://www.youtube.com/v/C43uqebvycY" name="movie"> value="transparent" name="wmode"> type="application/x-shockwave-flash"
src="http://www.youtube.com/v/C43uqebvycY" height="288"
width="350">

Pretty damning stuff, as Henry
Waxman
notes. Now, the question: who would want to take that job,
knowing what the former officeholder said about it?

Comments

  1. #1 Lorax
    July 10, 2007

    Nice job, I hit on this myself at angrybychoice.blogspot.com but didnt see the videotape. Thanks for posting it!

  2. #2 Garrett
    July 10, 2007

    My post on Sparkgrass was probably a little premature, as at that time I wasn’t aware of his writings on homosexuality; I knew he served on the Methodist counsel, but was convinced that, in his public health responsibilities in the state of KY, his personal anti-homosexual biases did not translate into discriminatory policy. That, and some personal character references (the University of Kentucky was my stomping ground) suggested the guy had a relatively benign reputation.

    Subsequently finding how willing Holsinger was to go all crazy anti-gay in his professional writing as well, I’m no longer convinced “suspension of judgment” (an apt term) is appropriate.

  3. #3 Justin
    July 10, 2007

    I read articles about the nominated SG and at the time (some time after the actual nomination) I was genuinely appalled that this wasn’t being reported by major news outlets. Reading stories like this one and seeing many more emerging thanks to Dr. Carmona’s statements gives me hope that this problem will be uprooted before yet another incompetent is appointed to a vital position in our government. The Surgeon General should never have to be in the position of playing politics for ANYONE.

  4. #4 johnb
    July 10, 2007

    There seemingly is no bottom for this administration. Facts are simply toys for them to play with….
    great bumper sticker ” The republican party our bridge to the eleventh century”

    impeaachment is now not good enough lets hang em

  5. #5 Scott
    July 11, 2007

    The videos on http://www.speaker.gov are absolutely appalling. I’m surprised no one has reported on this. Of course, Carmona’s numbers of 30% medical illiteracy are probably too low, so maybe it isn’t surprising. Sigh…

  6. #6 David Yates
    July 11, 2007

    There is some irony in that, this very day, the former head of the Chinese Food and Drug Safety Agency, Zheng Xiaoyu, was EXECUTED for taking bribes to compromise the public health of HIS country. While our Surgeon General, Richard Carmona is a man of unquestioned integrity, the same cannot be said of his superiors and those who appointed them. Mr. Zheng should become a household name around Washington as a reminder of what can happen when the people become infuriated enough to take action against criminals in public office of whom there are far too many. While I’m not suggesting they all should be shot, an impeachment or two are certainly in order.

  7. #7 Ex-drone
    July 11, 2007

    If Bush is looking for a SG who is not necessarily distinguished or even qualified for the position but who will promote an untenable ideological position in the face of factual scrutiny and common sense, why doesn’t he get a creationist or climate change denialist? Both of these fringe groups seem to have quite a few retired or out-of-work doctors.

  8. #8 John J. Coupal
    July 11, 2007

    I have noticed that the United States doesn’t have a Surgeon General. President Bush nominated Holsinger for the position on May 24; tomorrow the Senate committee will hold its first hearing on his nomination. Sounds like the Surgeon General position is not a high priority for the Senate Committee.

    I’ll bet the narrow democrat majority on the committee will stop Holsinger’s nomination from coming to a full Senate vote. They know he’d be approved.

    The political Right will then be able to benefit from Congress’ current low popularity for the November 2008 general election.

  9. #9 midwesterner
    July 11, 2007

    “If Bush is looking for a SG who is not necessarily distinguished or even qualified for the position but who will promote an untenable ideological position in the face of factual scrutiny and common sense, why doesn’t he get a creationist or climate change denialist? ”

    I move to nominate Dr. Egnor!!

    Is there a second?

  10. #10 N=1
    July 11, 2007

    Holsinger also had an abysmal track record when he headed up a VA hospital that was cited for terrible patient outcomes.

    Carmona also testified that he was prohibited from taking a leadership role in Katrina recovery efforts, and he is has bona fide credentials as an emergency management expert.

    As a trauma surgeon, he has the terse, focused and determined decision-making attributes that came through in his verbal testimony. What I can’t understand is why he served out his entire term without a peep. Why didn’t he go out swinging?

  11. #11 Fred Bortz
    July 11, 2007

    I blogged about this also. (Click my name to read my blog entry.)

    Some offices are too important to politicize, but the Bush crowd doesn’t get it.

  12. #12 Firma
    November 19, 2007

    The videos on http://www.speaker.gov are absolutely, appalling. I’m surprised no one has reported on this. Of course, Carmona’s numbers of 30% medical illiteracy are probably too low, so maybe it isn’t surprising.