Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Three US Surgeons General Testify
Three former Surgeons General, C. Everett Koop, Richard H. Carmona and David Satcher testified on Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. All said they had felt political pressure. Somehow it doesn't surprise me at all.
Dr. Richard Carmona, ex-Surgeon General during W's administration, said that he was not allowed to issue reports on stem cell research; emergency contraception; sex education; nor prison, mental or global health issues. Reports on the dangers of second-hand smoke were delayed for years, while top officials tried to water down the report. Dr. Carmona said he was instructed to mention President Bush at least three times in his speeches, and was also supposed to make speeches in support of various Republican candidates. He was discouraged from attending the Special Olympics, or even mentioning the Kennedys, who are prominent in their support of the Special Olympics.
Dr. Carmona was Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, and was not asked to serve a second term. His designated successor, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., has not yet been confirmed, and faces opposition in the Senate from a report he issued in 1991. In it, Dr. Holsinger "concluded that homosexual sex was unnatural and unhealthy. Dr. Carmona’s testimony may further complicate Dr. Holsinger’s nomination."
Dr. Carmona is a Viet Nam Veteran, and has two Purple Hearts from that war. He's not a coward, and he's not stupid. He admitted to being politically naive, and said that after a while, he consulted several former Surgeons General. All of them told him that he was facing more political interference than they had faced. Dr. C. Everett Koop said the Reagan administration discouraged him from issuing a report on AIDS, but he did so anyway. Dr. David Satcher said that the Clinton administration discouraged him from issuing a report that demostrated how needle-exchange programs reduced disease, but he issued it anyway.
The Bush Administration has been far more diligent in silencing the Surgeon General. But Dr. Carmona is no Alberto Gonzales. He is neither incompetent, nor a liar, nor is he stupid. Dr. Carmona's testimony yesterday, along with the testimony of Drs. Koop and Satcher, really shines a light on how this administration is politicizing everything.
The US Surgeon General is the doctor for all US Citizens, not just a few. The Justice Department is the defender of the law, and the Constitution, not a political arm designed to circumvent the law. The Supreme Court is there to be a check and balance and uphold the Constitution; it is not there to be a puppet for one President years after he leaves office.
But this Administration has weakened and destroyed everything it has touched. Only the Surgeon General seems willing to speak the truth, and uphold his oath as a Doctor. Will it be through this office that the House does its job and Impeaches this President? Or will the United States continue to slide toward decay.
On a side note, if you're having trouble selling your house, you've probably priced it too low. Of course, the very wealthy don't have the same concerns as you or I have. Do they need a needle exhange program? Do the very wealthy need worry about prison health issues? No. Not really. Money buys a lot. Of course, if someone has Alzheimer's, even money won't buy a cure - unless it goes into stem cell research, which might find a key to this horrible disease.
Oh, well. Same shit, different day.