Kinda Sorta, Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (November 22, 2009)

Today while writing on Meet the Press, my computer battery died and I lost the whole thing.

So I’ll just do a round up of the take away points.  Finally I’ll quote Dr. Nancy Snyderman at lenght on the recent fracas with testing and the politics of medical science.

1) David Gregory is saying that in talks with Senate aides, the idea is that if the opt-out and public option doesn’t get enough support, the trigger on the public option will be adopted and in this way Olympia Snowe a Republican might voter for  passage.  (I’d think that since Maj. Leader Reid already burnt Snowe, she might be less than enthusiastic about hitching up with the DEM’s)

2) Dick Durbin would make a wonderful majority leader.

3) Joe Lieberman claims to be against the public option because he thinks it will not be deficit neutral and that it will cost this recovering economy more in higher taxes and greater public debt.  He’s linked up the health care system with the economy in a way that cannot please the Obama adminstration.  When David Gregory asked that for the sake of consistency might be also not support sending more troops into Afghanistan, since that move would not be deficit neutral.  To further question that the escalation in Afghanistan be paid for JL responded that absolutely the war would have to be paid for through new taxes.

4) Kay Bailey Hutchinson is trying to link together Tim Geithner’s supposed unpopularity with the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress.  (I think for the short term, this might be a smart strategy.)

5)  No matter how you cut it, Eric Holder’s admission that failure is not an option in trying Khalid Sheikh Muhammed means that the whole affair will be nothing but a show trial.  This is victor’s justice.  Nevertheless, it is important that the U.S. divise precedent to try terror suspects of high stature in U.S. courts, if only to have good P.R. that our system is more “just” and fair than that of our enemies.

(I think the best segment by far, today was the conversation between Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Ambassador Brinker.  To that end, I’ll quote entire passages from the transcript.)

“MR. [David] GREGORY:  Dr. Nancy, let’s talk about some of the data behind the new guidelines.  And we’ll put them up on the screen.  This is from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.  Cancer deaths prevented from mammography screening, and you see the numbers there for 39 to 49-year-olds, one in 1,904 as opposed to if you’re between 60 and 69, one in 377.

DR. [Nancy] SNYDERMAN:  So, David, let me stop you there.


DR. SNYDERMAN:  Because that’s a very important number to look at.  That means that over 1900 women screened over a 10-year period of annual mammograms, one life is saved and there are a thousand false positives, which means ongoing, unnecessary tests.  Now remember, the scientists who did these numbers, their role is, as scientists, to take the anecdotes and the passion and the emotion out of it.  And I recognize that’s hard as part of the message.  But they’re to look at the public health issues of how we screen. And we’ve always known that mammography for women in their 40s has been fraught with problems.  It is not as precise for older women.  On that Nancy and I have great agreement.  So what their consensus was is that there are a lot of unnecessary screenings for that one life.  Now, if you’re that one life, it’s 100 percent.  I get that.  But their charge as an independent body was to look at the cumulative research as scientists.”

(That’s brilliant analysis, right there; top notch assessment.  PhD’s in political science have a tougher explaining what stats mean, and here’s this smart woman really making some sense out of an apolitical research report.)

“MR. GREGORY:  But what about the data?

AMB. BRINKER:  Well, the data are important, and that’s why we look at it all the time.  But, David, part of this is that it was very clumsy.  You know, this–the way this task force information was revealed, it was very clumsy. And the other part of it is, let’s not forget, mammography saves lives.  And I would argue, you know, I wish my sister, Susan Komen, had been able to have a mammogram 30 years ago when she died.  I had one when I was 37, and, and I’m living today, and I credit a lot of that to early screening.  A lot of women have different circumstances.  What we want to protect is continued access to this technology until we have something better, until we know more.  We just shouldn’t change what we’re doing now, because it’s working.  Yeah, we have to screen a lot of people, but one out of 1900 being diagnosed with, with breast cancer is still a lot of women.  It’s still a lot of women.

DR. SNYDERMAN:  But at the same time, it’s interesting.  We–this task force did not look at the economics.  Their job was to look at the pure science. And I think in some ways we hear from the scientists, don’t like the message, and this week I believe we threw the scientists under the bus.  We in this country have three hot button scientific issues.  We have stem cells, vaccines, cancer screening.  We need to step back as a society and let the scientists present their data and then, as an informed populace, look at it, talk about it.  And what happened on Monday was that the headlines then ran with the weak…


DR. SNYDERMAN:  …instead of intelligent people saying, “OK, what does this mean and how do we mean it?” And the task force basically said to women in their 40s, individualize yourselves, talk to your doctor.  This is all about, and I think Nancy and I agree on this, better technology.’



~ by Faheem Haider on November 22, 2009.

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