The wingnuts are out in force.
Elected to confront colossal real world problems, Barack Obama has faced a steady onslaught from the 5150 elements of the right over trivialities such as his bowing to the Saudi King, issuing a qualified opinion on police conduct in Cambridge,and suggesting to schoolchildren that they should hit the books and make something of their lives.
Obama's birth in Hawaii is being questioned by "birthers," and a poll taken three months ago showed that 41% of Virginia Republicans thought Obama was not an American citizen (a circumspect 27% were "not sure").
Obama's small tax increase on the fat and happy sliver of the country that benefited from Bush's economic policies was spun as an attack on the common man by "teabaggers," and public discussions of earnest efforts to reform our horror show healthcare system were hijacked by "everyday people" armed with insurance industry talking points. Republican Senator Jim DeMint flatly declared, "If we’re able to stop Obama on [healthcare reform] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
Cost-benefit analysis can kill. The failure to distinguish statistics from arithmetic can kill. In the current debate over mammograms, the number of women projected to be at risk of death due to cost-benefit analysis is about 47,000.That is the approximate number the United States Preventive Services Task Force projected to die if its recommendations on scaling back mammograms had been accepted. It is their number, if you do the arithmetic, which they apparently did not.
As we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, let us thank Kathleen Sebelius.