Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Those Damned Facts

Among the commenters who used to troll here but seem, mostly, to have left when they found the stuff they spout doesn't float in deep waters, a favorite comment is that I should stop blaming Bush for our problems. Forget facts, they would have us. Rely on simple and wrong, they prefer to. Ignore information such as the above chart, they do.

Which, of course, is exactly what Congressional Rs and their mouth organ are assuming the public will do as well. That they're probably right doesn't change the central truth; it just reinforces the reality of our collective stupidity and preference for easy answers, misplaced blame, and magical thinking. In times such as these, which demand our best, teabaggers and those of similar disposition toward angry but devoid certitude are the unfortunate -- yet apparently inevitable, given the milieu -- response.

In my practice I was called upon on a (mercifully) few occasions to try to undo the damage done to a patient by a previous surgeon. Picking up the pieces left by another (especially when the patient had had the opportunity to come to me in the first place and have things done right) is by far the most unpleasant and undesirable situation I -- or any surgeon, or any physician at all -- ever encountered. Depending on the extremity of the situation, it can be deeply and irreparably no-win. And yet, there the patient is, in need; and there you are, needed. Among other unpleasantries, it's nearly certain that, no matter the outcome (because it's likely the patient will never be as well-off as if the first operation(s) had been done properly), you know you'll be among those to whom blame is assigned: sued, in other words.

Since an operation is never as easy or more likely to go well than when it's done the first time, there will almost certainly be technically daunting challenges. There may be no good choices; your options might be only among those least likely to be disastrous. Faced -- as I have been -- with distorted anatomy, pockets of pus everywhere, unrecognizable structures, all in a patient depleted of physical and psychological reserve, you may have no other course but to embark on something very hazardous, with countless opportunities for complications, or outright failure. To use the proper medical phrase, from the time of Hippocrates: it really really really sucks.

I don't see much difference, except in orders of magnitude, between those professional experiences, and the assuming of office after George Bush screwed up a (possibly necessary) war; took us into and screwed up a clearly unnecessary and ill-advised (in several meanings of the term) second war; set the economy toward ruin with his tax cuts and steadfast refusal to pay for his wars; ignored our energy crisis and, in fact, made it worse by reversing the meager steps that had been taken before him; increased the Republican assault on science and reason; it goes on and on. It was not without an easily recalled sense of my own fears and trepidation in context of my care of previously-damaged humans that I wondered, during the recent election process, why ANYONE would want to assume the presidency. Anyone with serious ideas and a sense of the magnitude of the problems, that is, which excludes most of the R candidates and, most certainly, their eventual nominees.

It's in this same context that I'm inclined to temper my disappointments with Barack Obama. He's been far from perfect, in my view: not enough focus on jobs; health care possibly ill-timed and too complex, too much based on insurance companies; too slow on DADT; too quick to compromise with or cave to disingenuous criticism from the right. But at least he's trying, with serious intent, facing unprecedented challenges. FDR, after all, faced The Great Depression and WWII more or less single file, and it was only one war, with a couple identifiable and locatable enemies; there was no energy crisis, no oil polluting from a mile under the ocean; no coordinated 24/7 disinformation network annealed with talk radio and the length and breadth of the opposition party to poison the well with deliberate lies; and there wasn't a public unable to face adversity and unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good; a public willfully misinformed and actively engaged in remaining that way.

Which still doesn't explain why the hell Barack Hussein Obama wanted to take it on. I wouldn't have. He's a much better man than I, and he still can't do it.

Which tells you something.


  1. Franky, you are so cute when you type like that, you're so smart... it gives me the goose bumps all over! Could you please talk about your big 44 again- you know that I just can't get enought of that. Oh-the respect you have for your wife is something we should all cherish!

  2. Apropos of fixing other people's messes: did you practise before Roe v. Wade? (I guess I should get around to reading your book instead of just plugging it to others.)

  3. I was in surgery training in 1973, Sili. Started practice in 1977.

  4. Speaking of Bush messes; here is a link to the one he made in the lead up to the war:

    This tells about a phone conversation reported by the former French president:

    ..."In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel"...

    Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:

    “This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.

    SSWoman, please note: this is no Palestinian foreign minister speaking, but the former president of France.

    You refused to credit the links I provided because you implied that we should not believe fantastic stories coming from the Middle East.

    By the way, does that include the Bible?

    In the U.S. The story was only picked up by The Charleston Gazette -

    The Charleston Gazette???


    The story is now scrubbed.

    "There is a curious coda to this story. While a senior at Yale University George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society. His father, George H.W. Bush had also been a “Bonesman”, as indeed had his father. Skull & Bones’ initiates are assigned or take on nicknames. And what was George Bush Senior’s nickname? “Magog”.


  5. I'd heard the Gog/Magog story as regards Chirac and Bush. Hadn't heard about the nickname.

  6. Ewww-Gene,
    I too was a member of "Skull & Bones" it can't be THAT exclusive.
    Or secretive.


  7. Well...DrekMan (DunsBeUponYou)'Exclusive' I don't know...but I suppose they would want to keep your membership a secret.



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