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“Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.”

There’s A LOT of damning info in this NY Times story about Former Surgeon Gen. Richard Carmona’s disclosures — under oath — regarding the Chimpministration’s callous and cynical disrespect for the US public health system. So much that it’s difficult to pick just one thing as the worst. However, this jumped right out at me.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches.

While it’s not exactly surprising to hear (again) that top administration henchmen suppressed important public health reports because of political considerations, Carmona’s testimony at a hearing before Rep. Waxman’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sheds light in some particularly nasty corners:

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.

It’s not just the facts, which further confirm what we’ve heard before, that the zookeepers in charge systemically underwrote the basic mission of the US federal health service, attempted to reduce it to just another part of the Republican political apparatus, suppressed any vital scientific information that ran counter to prevailing political goals —


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.

In response to lawmakers’ questions, Dr. Carmona refused to name specific people in the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones. He said, however, that they included assistant secretaries of health and human services as well as top political appointees outside the department of health.

Dr. Carmona did offer to provide the names to the committee in a private meeting.

For me, what’s stunning is the blatant venality, the pettiness, the sheer creepiness of these people. It begs the most cliched of rhetorical questions: How do they sleep at night?

Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the administration disagreed with Dr. Carmona’s statements.

How very surprising.

“It has always been this administration’s position that public health policy should be rooted in sound science,” Mr. Hall said.

These folks really should try standup.

Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said the surgeon general “is the leading voice for the health of all Americans.”

So the health of all Americans requires that leading voice to mention Bush’s name three times on every page? Our health as a country depends on that?

“It’s disappointing to us,” Ms. Lawrimore said, “if he failed to use this position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation.”

Remember, Carmona’s testimony comes two days before the Senate confirmation hearings of his designated successor, outspoken homobigot James W. Holsinger.


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