[image from saraphonic.com]
OK, this is going to be a little political, but it's related to surgery, and to me personally, if vaguely.
A recent Surgeon General of the US, David Satcher, was a classmate of mine in medical school. And the most recent one is a surgeon like me. In fact, he trained where I trained. Them's my bona fides.
I find the following outrageous, and as far as I'm concerned everyone but the most blindly partisan ought to share the feeling:
"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 committee.
"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, including the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of "abstinence-only" sex education.
I don't know Carmona personally, but from what I do know, I doubt he's some liberal. Yes, I realize that he's appointed by the president, and, as we've heard ad nauseum, serves "at his pleasure." But dammit, there are some areas in which reality -- not to mention the common good -- ought to trump politics, ideology, and theology. People argue, and I don't disagree, that science isn't the same as policy; that scientists aren't the ones setting political agenda. Fair enough. But when science is simply ignored, redacted, or debased, then we are all the worse off. Our future is at stake in many areas. The facts ought to be on the table, unvarnished (I mean the facts, not the table. I don't care much about the table.) When decisions are being made only by a bunch of narrow-minded ideologues, we're in big trouble. They are. We are.
[Update: this is from the red states' favorite newspaper, the NYT:
"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."