July 11, 2007

Bush Muzzled Sturgeon General - Thank God!

Hatched by Dafydd

The newest attempt by Democrats to gin up a scandal against President Bush -- one that actually might stick, not another "fired U.S. attorneys" or "commuted Libby to keep him quiet" fizzle -- is working its way through the elite media like a kidney stone through the... oh, let's not go there. The president stands accused of "muzzling" his surgeon general:

President Bush's most recent surgeon general accused the administration Tuesday of muzzling him for political reasons on hot-button health issues such as emergency contraception and abstinence-only education.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the nation's 17th surgeon general, told lawmakers that all surgeons general have had to deal with politics but none more so than he.

Yes... Carmona, uniquely among all sturgeon generals in American history (the office dates back to 1871), has had to report to civilians. Well... actually, no. Ever since the reorganization of the office, the SG has reported to the Assistant Secretary for Health, who reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who reports to the president. Dr. Carmona evidently found this rather intolerable:

"The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas," said Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006.

This is despicable! How dare Bush demote the surgeon general to such a lowly position, folding his office into the Department of Health and Human Services, taking away his budget, and making him report to a lowly assistant secretary. The nerve! Carmona and his new friend, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA, 95%), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, heap abuse on Bush's head for treating "the nation's doctor" so outrageously.

But wait... is it really fair to blame Bush and Bush alone for the reorganization? After all, Congress had a hand in this too: It could only have happened with congressional legislation. And, although the Republicans did control Congress at the time of the reorganization, they had only a razor-thin one-seat advantage in the Senate and an eight-seat majority in the House (well, seven-seat, actually, since there was an independent who caucused with the Democrats)... so the reorganization almost certainly was bipartisan.

Thus, we had a narrowly divided Congress, bipartisan reform, and a newly minted Republican president without much experience handling Congress. And besides, it happened in 1953, when the future Dr. Carmona was four years old, and the future President Bush was seven. So it hardly seems fair to blame President Bush exclusively, does it?

Carmona took his complaints to the excessively non-partisan Rep. Waxman, who dealt with them in his usual manner, rising above all partisan bickering to take the high road:

Carmona testified Tuesday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Also appearing were Drs. C. Everett Koop, who served as surgeon general from 1981-1889, and David Satcher, who served from 1998-2001.

"Political interference with the work of the surgeon general appears to have reached a new level in this administration," said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

It is fortunate that the Democrats are now in charge of Congress, so that we no longer have "political interference in the work of the surgeon general":

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.

So how, exactly, was Dr. Carmona muzzled? First of all, you have to understand that the office of the surgeon general has frequently been occupied by certifiable kooks:

  • C. Everett Koop, Ronald Reagan's surgeon general and groomer of the nation's goofiest beard.

Koop compared cigarettes to heroin and cocaine -- and cigs got the worst of it; Koop believed that third graders should get sex education (to ward off AIDS), and that instruction later in grade school should include lessons in how to put on a condom.

  • Minnie Joycelyn Elders, Bill Clinton's first surgeon general, often called "the Dr. Ruth of Health and Human Services."

(For some odd reason, I find this appointment appropriate to the appointer.)

Elders seemed obsessed with sex and went Koop one further in her outré sex-education ideas: In addition to condom usage, she also thought public schools should teach children how to masturbate (to ward off AIDS), evidently on the assumption that they might otherwise never learn. I never found out whether the class included a lab, and whether it was co-ed (seems like that would make it easier to pass).

She also was quoted as saying, "We must stop this love affair with the fetus."

  • David Satcher, Bill Clinton's second surgeon general, who also served as Asssistant Secretary of Health, thus reporting to himself. (I wonder if he gave himself good evaluations?)

Continuing the sexual theme of the Clinton presidency, Dr. Satcher issued a "call to action" (one of a series -- collect the whole set!) on the subject of AIDS... thereby perpetuating the myth that AIDS is the most urgent medical crisis in America, despite the fact that it was not even in the top 15 causes of death in the United States at the time. (I suppose AIDS is sexier than heart disease and cancer.)

When Satcher's term expired in 2002, Bush -- rather busy with other matters and recognizing the low repute to which the office had fallen -- made another one of his "hands across the aisle" Democratic appointments. He gets in trouble every time he does this (cf. Secretary of Transportation Norman "Baseball" Mineta). I have no hard evidence that Carmona is a Democrat; but a romp through his Wikipedia entry certainly raises the possibility:

  • Carmona is of Puerto Rican descent;
  • He was raised in Harlem (Spanish Harlem, one presumes);
  • After serving in combat in Vietnam, he returned to New York City and attended CUNY in the Bronx in the 1970s;
  • He went to medical school at UC San Francisco, which is a highly regarded med school but politically about the same as UC Berkeley;
  • And according to a local Arizona television station, KVOA, he plans to run for office. My educated guess is that he'll be running as a Democrat.

And then, there are his big-government, nanny-state positions... you know, the ones that Bush tried to "muzzle." Between Wikipedia and the more detailed New York Times article, we can piece many of them together:

  • He strongly supports federally funded embryonic stem-cell research;
  • He is dismissive of abstinence education (there's that persistent sex leitmotif again... what is it with ribaldry and surgeon generals?)
  • He's a global-warming doomsayer, evidently utterly unfamiliar with any of the scientific dissent on that subject (which is true of most global-warming doomsayers: Most insist that there is no contrary scientific evidence, implicly dismissing all dissenting scientists as quacks, no matter what their credentials);
  • Oh, and he also wants to ban all importation, sale, use, and possession of tobacco in the United States.

Carmona completely buys into the "secondhand smoke" studies of the last few years, many of which were conducted under a bizarre, sub-scientific confidence interval in order to produce the findings the anti-smoking zealots desired; in scientific circles, this is called "torturing the data until they confess." (I speak as a life-long non-smoker who detests cigarettes and is allergic to cigarette smoke.) Presumably, Carmona's prohibitionism would extend to cigars and pipes (which I also do not smoke).

The specific example of muzzling concering stem-cell research illuminates the very Democratic psyche of Dr. Carmona. From the Times story:

When stem cells became a focus of debate, Dr. Carmona said he proposed that his office offer guidance “so that we can have, if you will, informed consent.”

“I was told to stand down and not speak about it,” he said. “It was removed from my speeches.”

The Bush administration rejected the advice of many top scientists on this subject, including that of the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

This is a perfect example of the narcissism of many scientists: Carmona's "guidance" was rejected, as was Zerhouni's "advice," because the fundamental issue was not scientific. It was ethical.

The question was not primarily whether there was great promise (as yet unrealized) in embryonic stem cell research; nearly every scientist agrees that there is, bearing in mind that promise means "potential." The question is whether it's morally right for the federal government to use taxpayer money to create embryos, just in order to kill them and extract stem cells.

What would Dr. Carmona's medical "guidance" be on that issue? Will he assure us, as a doctor, that zygotes have no souls?

Of course, Carmona himself, despite accepting many dubious scientific claims (the deadly effects of secondhand smoke, the glorious effects of sex education, and the world-shattering effects of globaloney) exhibits selective outrage about the scientific standards of others. From the AP story:

Another report, on global health challenges, was never released after the administration demanded changes that he refused to make, Carmona said.

"I was told this would be a political document or you're not going to release it." Carmona said. "I said it can't be a political document because the surgeon general never releases political documents. I release scientific documents that will help our elected officials and the citizens understand the complex world we live in and what their responsibilities are."

He refused to identify the officials who sought the changes. ["The lurkers support me in e-mail!"]

Carmona said he believed the surgeon general should show leadership on health issues. But his speeches were edited by political appointees, and he was told not to talk about certain issues. For example, he supported comprehensive sex education that would include abstinence in the curriculum, rather than focusing solely on abstinence.

"However, there was already a policy in place that didn't want to hear the science [the policy didn't want to hear science?], but wanted to quote, unquote preach abstinence, which I felt was scientifically incorrect," Carmona said.

And always, always, always he declines to identify in public any of the Bush administration officials he accuses of forcing "science" to take a back seat to politics. But he will happily denounce them in secret to Waxman and his committee, he says.

So what do we have here? We have another in a long list of surgeon generals who wants to use the office as his own, public bully pulpit, beating his own dead horse of a different color -- no matter what the president may have decided (based upon scientific and medical advice to the president more apposite than that of the senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Health).

And when he persists, his great-grandboss tells him to follow the lead of his boss and grandboss. Instead, he runs off to Henry Waxman's House Committee on Perpetual Scandalmongering, dragging along two other wacky predecessors, who all agree that President Bush is "politicizing" the never-before considered political sub-agency under the Department of Health and Human Services... all of whose top officials (including the surgeon general) are, and have always been, political appointees.


Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 11, 2007, at the time of 3:09 PM

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» Submitted 07/18/2007 from Soccer Dad
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Tracked on July 23, 2007 10:32 AM


The following hissed in response by: Big D

Can we just abolish this post? I've thought it somewhat stupid for...decades now. But government programs never die.

Re. embryonic stem cell research - I've always been struck by the peculiar blind spot some people have on this issue. In 1944 the Nazis conducted experiments to study various methods of making sea water drinkable. Prisoners were deprived of all food and given only chemically processed sea water. Some died as a result of the experiments.

A horrific act, but you see, there was the promise of tremendous societal benefits. In fact, by sacrificing a few prisoners you have the potential to save millions from starvation and thirst. Isan't that worth it? A few prisoners that might well have died anyway?

You can argue all day about whether fetuses are people or not. I think probably not, at least till the second trimester or so. But I clearly see the danger, how close to the awful line this type of research is skirting. And I respect the feelings of others who believe this does cross the line.

Let's see - should we create clones and harvest their organs for transplant into ourselves? My guess is that most people would agree that this would cross some sort of ethical boundary. But how is embryonic stem cell research significantly different from this scenario?

Ever wonder - how many people who are in favor of embryonic stem cell research are also opposed to animal testing? Why do I think the overlap between the two groups is significant? Mostly because the left hates people. You me, even themselves.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2007 4:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Does anyone out there really care about this? I mean really, these people get government positions and then get all surprised to find out they are dealing with the {you know} government.

I say abolish the post.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2007 5:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles

Big D,

Fetuses (human) are people by definition. Whether fetuses are persons as defined by law, is another question altogether. It is my opinion that they should be because everyone has life given to them by G-d, and indeed by interest of equality before the law be treated the same as born infants and/or disabled humans are by law. IOW President Bush's decision was soundly grounded on its merits.


There is a little thing known as the National Health Service Corps. The Commissioned Corps members are commanded by the Surgeon General; and they are GS civil service employees.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2007 8:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: Steve


I hate to be a party pooper, but FEC records show that Carmona contributed to Bush's campaign in 1999 (nothing after that). He's also a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. So it's fair to assume that he is or was a Republican before becoming Surgeon General. However, he very much seems like a RINO along the lines of Arlen "I'm a member of SPECTRE" Specter.

I also read that New York Times piece and it is so amusing. That clown Waxman is trying to insinuate Carmona is being forced to not do this or to not say that. What the Times article says (even in it's left-handed way) is that the administration "watered down" reports, or "discouraged" him to do things and did some of them anyway (just as other Surgeon Generals had done; the piece notes when Reagan told Koop not to publicly discuss AIDS, Koop ignored him). In some cases it seems like he believed he was forced into not doing something, but that isn't the case all the time, as it was pointed out by the Times. It is possible that Carmona is hyping this all help with the help of that troll Waxman.

I'm with the others who believe this is a waste of a position. And true to form for this Congress, they are hip-deep in investigating another non-scandal.

The above hissed in response by: Steve [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2007 11:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


He's also a decorated Vietnam combat veteran.

So is the last Democratic presidential nominee!

The donation is weird; he gave $500 to Bush's campaign in April of 1999, long before it was clear that Bush would beat John McCain... who was (and still is) the senior politician from Arizona, which Carmona had made his home for many years. (In fact, it was McCain who introduced him to the Senate in 2002, when Bush nominated him to be surgeon general.)

There's something very strange about this: If Carmona were a real Bush fan, then why donate only $500, donate only once, and donate nearly a year before the first caucus or primary? It would be much more effective -- not to mention safer -- to save donations until you see how the candidate is doing; you don't want to donate to someone early on, only to see him drop out before the first primary.

If Carmona were not a Bush fan, then why did he never donate to anyone else... such as McCain, with whom he clearly was on good terms? Or even to both of them, to cover all bases. There's something awfully screwy here.

This makes no sense, whether he's a Republican, a Democrat, or apolitical. (For some contrast, check out Colin Powell's donation history.)

Oh, and this is interesting; on the same campaign reporting sheet, Carmona's wife -- I assume Mrs. Diana Carmona with the same address is his wife -- also donated $500 on the same day as Richard Carmona (two days before tax day). And this is her only contribution ever to anyone in the entire FEC database, too.

I believe the campaign contribution limits for individuals were $1,000 then (this is under the 1971 rules); if they wanted to give Bush $1,000, why split it into two pieces, one from each spouse?

His wife lists her profession as "homemaker," so I'm sure they filed only a single 1040 form; so there's no tax advantage.

If Dr. Carmona gave Bush $1,000, and later they wanted to give him more money, he could at that point have his wife donate up to another $1,000. Splitting it into two pieces from the outset just seems weird.

(For heaven's sake, my wife and I have donated a heck of a lot more than $1,000 to various Republican candidates and causes over the last few election cycles, never more than $100 at a time. And we don't write separate checks... and we don't contribute in April of the year before election year!)

Any thoughts on this? Nothing about this split contribution makes any sense to me.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 12:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

I you think embryonic stem cell research is bad, the future is already here Britain To Go Ahead With Human-Animal Embryos For Research

Thank heaven Bush is vetoing anything that comes down the pike.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 3:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I you think embryonic stem cell research is bad...

Actually, I personally have no problem with either embryonic stem-cell research or human-animal hybrid stem cells. Or human cloning per se (my ethical position depends upon the purpose and method).

I merely noted that the Bush administration opposes federal funding of all of the above on moral grounds; on which point, the opinion of a doctor has considerably less significance than that of the guy Americans elected to run the country.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 4:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

I don't know which is sillier, people shocked, SHOCKED to find politics going on in relation to a POLITICAL appointee...

or having to explain to members of the political party that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trial Lawyers Association that doctors are not ALWAYS right.

(Isn't that how most of these guys made their fortunes? As opposed to EARNING them?)

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 5:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: dasbow

Abstinence is scientifically incorrect? What the heck does that even mean? Surely you could do a study that shows that you probably won't become pregnant or catch an STD if you don't have sex. Maybe he means that you can't prove a negative. Yeah, that's gotta be it. Good grief.

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 6:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo


Good point. The Jackass Party only likes two industries other than themselves. Big Law (Trial lawyer version) and Big Entertainment.

The only hting they have in common is that the art of LYING is intrinsic to both. What is a actor other thana someone who has perfected the art of lying and presenting himself as nothing he is not. What is a trail ambulance chaser but a practiioner of the art of disembling and sometimes bald faced lying.


The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 12:26 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I assume what Carmona is saying (clumsily) is that abstinence-only programs don't result in abstinence.

I don't know whether this is true; I've seen studies on both sides. But certainly there is no definitive proof that it doesn't work, such that the Surgeon General of the United States should feel the need to speak truth to power, e.g., to contradict the administration position. And no reason he should be allowed to do so.

It's not as if President Bush ordered that we start teaching that the sun revolves around the Earth with "the other six planets." There is nothing intrinsically or provably wrong about an abstinence-only program to reduce STDs, teen pregnancy, and psychic trauma resulting from starting having sex at too young an age.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 12:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

There is a very good reason why the Jackasses support embryonic stem cell research. And also why they demand the government fund it.

Private industry won't pay for any of this embryonic stem cell research, because its all based on a Scientific HOAX!

Dr Suk, (appropriate name), of Korea, decided to get famous by creating research results out of pure lies, regarding his great progress in embryonic stem cell research. Eventually it was discovered. It turned into a major scandal in scientific circles, but the scandal mags never understood so didn't report it. Many famous scientists were also ruined as he invited them to include their names in his Research for very minor complimentary efforts. ALL the progress ever generated is from this hoax. There has not been much else.

Research using Self stem cells harvested from bone marrow, placental blood, or now, skin cells have made great progress.

This line of stem cell research does not suffer from a future fundamental flaw.

The human body fights and rejects implants from someone else as an invader and rejects it. An organ grown from the Self's own cells, do not suffer from such a problem.

Adult Self stem cells turned in to pluripotent cells can be used, (and have been!), to create organs that will not be rejected. New heart valves have been created and successfully implanted. New pancreatic, insulin producing, cells have been created by this method. Leukemia has seen the creation of new non cancerous blood cells from adult sourced stem cells.

All this progress has been made but not with embryonic stem cells. Now you can force the body's immune system to not attack a foreign implant but that has severe side effects. It amounts condemning the recipient to in effect, a purposely created case of AIDs, making a transplant patient incapable of resisting other infection.

But why would you want to even have to consider doing that?

The racist Margaret Sanger's organization is desperately looking for justification for its killing business, and can sense its losing support. Justifying killing somebody for the benefit of someone else, is the basis of their billion dollar a year business. It's a natural extension to kill someone for his body parts to benefit someone else.

The Jackass Party is full of old socialist true believers even if their particular brand doesn't usually follow the National variant. They would readily subscribe to Eugenics precepts, though. Just like the Planned Parenthood founders and successors types do. Yet if you scratch the surface they all tend to believe in Eugenics and its better if the crippled, deformed and other non-favored types were not allowed to live, or be born.

Of course, this was the basis for the national socialist variety's Super and Sub human eugenics policies. Those socialists killed inferior races but they ALSO emptied the institutions of the mentally retarded as they weren't fit to live either.

As the old reporter used to say: Now you know the REST of the story."

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2007 1:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: MarkD

Carmona must have thought the Surgeon General was a real General who could order people around. Maybe nobody told him he was part of the Bush administration. Maybe he slept through that boring Civics class where they talked about elections and presidents and the Constitution.

Judging by the idiots we keep putting in there, I say abolish this position now.

The above hissed in response by: MarkD [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 13, 2007 2:18 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bookworm

Bravo! Fabulous post. Can't add anything here but fawning praise.

The above hissed in response by: Bookworm [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 18, 2007 3:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bookworm

Bravo! Fabulous post. Can't add anything here but fawning praise. Wait, I can add one thing. Apropos the smoking, I thought you'd enjoy the fact that one Marin County township is trying to make it illegal for people to smoke in their own homes and back yards.

The above hissed in response by: Bookworm [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 18, 2007 3:27 PM

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