Monthly Archives: August 2009

Here’s what Sarah Palin Actually *said* about “Death Panels”

OK.  So Obama has created the talking point over the past several days that has led many, even many the right, to disparage Sarah Palin’s “death panels” comment as being over-the-top, inaccurate, etc. 

As I’ve discussed in several recent posts, the Liberals have based their claim of inaccuracy on the idea that Palin is talking about “end of life” care counseling.  I have speculated, having not read the actual speech till just now, that she wasn’t even talking about that, and she wasn’t.  Even if she *were*, as I’ve previously discussed, end of life care, as they call it, goes against Christian principles.

But Palin was not talking about that. She was talking about the standards for “triage” and health care rationing.  Here’s the text:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Where in the speech does she say anything about forced euthanasia?  She is talking about denial of services to those who are deemed unworthy, something that Rahm Emmanuel, Tom Daschle and others have all advocated.
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Here’s an article on what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, advocates in terms of health rationing.

Some blogs are suggesting that Palin’s speech was inaccurate because such “death panels” are not in the Bill.  But they *were* in the Bill and were struck down.  Either way, as I said in my last post, it’s the slippery slope.  Why do we want to open the door to these people to allow it? 

One of the things we’re told about the alleged evil of insurance companies is about denial of services to those who need them most.  Does anyone really think the government is that altruistic????  Does anyone really think the government will do better?  Does anyone really think that, when Medicare and Medicaid already have absurd rules for what services they’ll pay for, that a new government insurance plan will be any better?

I have been online since 1997.  I’ve been on message boards, listserves, blogs, Facebook, etc.  I’ve argued these issues time and again with people.  I know my view is an unpopular one with most people, including may self-styled conservatives and many self-styled Catholics.

This is why I know we need Sarah Palin in the public square . We need someone who is a voice against the attitudes about the disabled and those who have genetic disorders, etc. 

I know what it is to grow up in pain, knowing that death is always potentially around the corner.

I know what it is to be ridiculed for being different.

I know what it is to be told that I’m not worthy of being alive. 

I know that liberals and many who call themselves conservatives take it as a given that it is cruel to “knowingly” allow a child to be born with a genetic disorder.  Most people presume that people with genetic disorders should never reproduce, and that people who get in utero diagnoses of genetic defects should have abortions. 

This is how they think.  It’s not just my experience from one or two conversations.  It’s what I’ve heard from every liberal I’ve ever argued with, and from many a yuppie graduate of Franciscan University or Christendom College (though they cover up their eugenicist mentality with perpetual continence or NFP). 

They say these things.  Their “experts” say these things.  The countries that already have government-run health care do these things or are working towards them.  Then, when we call them on it, they say we’re lying!

Here’s a piece on Peter Singer’s contribution to the Death Panel debate.

Here’s a piece on Obama’s appeals to “faith based” Groups to win support for socialism and to redirect the debate on health rationing.

Here’s an article by a disabiltiy group that agrees with Sarah.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece on how rationing is central to Obamacare (HT Below the Beltway)

Here’s an article about GE’s role in promoting health rationing.

Here’s an article about how the death panel already exists: it’s the “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research,” which was part of the “stimulus” bill. 

According to George Will, the draft report on the so-called stimulus bill states the CER will identify medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs.

This is especially ironic, since one of the original purposes of the federal government getting involved in medical research was the Orphan Drug Act: federally funding research deemed to be too commercially unviable.

Here’s a blog piece from July which points to the rationing provisions in the House plan.

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It’s Coming . . .

Simon Cowell says, “What’s your dream, John?  Who do you want to be?”
I say, “George Lucas,  Andrew Lloyd Webber or Jim Henson.”

In the midst of my various “careers” I’ve imagined myself getting into since I was 5 — detective, elementary teacher, high school teacher, medical researcher, priest, college teacher, writer, artist, musician — there has been one thing that I’ve always really wanted.

And that is embodied in the Sydmonton Festival, Skywalker Ranch and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, like Richard Wagner before him, is as much a financial genius as a creative genius.  Early in his career, he founded his own production company–the Really Useful Group (named for his lifelong love for the _Thomas The Tank Engine_ books and his hopes of getting involved in the then-planned cartoon series).  He bought a renaissance estate called Sydmonton and began renovating it.  Starting in the late 1970s, he began hosting an annual arts festival there.  At Sydmonton, he produces sample productions of the musicals he’s currently working on. 

At Sydmonton in 1980, Andrew Lloyd Webber played the piano and sang to a previously unpublished T. S. Eliot poem, “Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats”–the melody based upon the poem, and a few of its lines, would make it into Cats, but the song itself would be rewritten and never heard until the Now and Forever box set over 20 years later.  At Sydmonton, Colm Wilkinson was the second “Phantom” opposite Sarah Brightman (following rocker Steve Harley in the single and music video of the title song), six months before Michael Crawford officially created the role in London.  At Sydmonton in 1993, Patti Lupone wowed the select audience as Norma Desmond months before audiences saw her in the West End.

At the Sydmonton Festival, Andrew Lloyd Webber showcases his works-in-progress, his art collection and other promising artistic, musical and theatrical works that interest him. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber once made a bet with his brother over the Soccer finals and wrote Variations as a result.  He planned an opera in tribute to Puccini and played the melody he wrote for that opera for his father.  His father said of that melody, “It sounds like a million dollars.” 

William Lloyd Webber was wrong on that one.  “Memory” has probably been a billion-dollar industry unto itself.  They say there was a point in the mid-80s when it could statistically be heard playing at every minute on the radio at some point in the United States. 

And what did Lloyd Webber due with his success from Cats?  He said, “I’m rich enough to do whatever I want.  I think I’ll write a Requiem Mass.”

Now he’s a reknowned food and architecture critic, theatrical producer, theater and real estate magnate and, film producer, television producer and reality host, and even the license holder to a number of classic musicals he didn’t write. 

Then there’s George Lucas, whose talent as a visionary lies more in his understanding of business and technology than his talent as a director.  A successful college film turned into a mildly successful and critically acclaimed theatrical film (the THX thing), then a successful and critically acclaimed film (American Graffiti), and then a multi-film contract that gave us the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.   And, while making Star Wars, Lucas had two brilliant ideas:

1.  No one in Hollywood could make the special effects he envisioned, so he started his own special effects firm.  And no one can doubt the influence of Industrial Light and Magic, which makes the special effects for like every blockbuster out there.  And then there’s that uppity little spin-off of ILM, later bought by Steve Jobs, called Pixar.

2.  Lucas had his studio contract.  And movie licensing existed.  But it was, at the time, not that big a deal.  Lucas, the visionary, negotiated with Fox to give him the rights to the sales of licensed products and the soundtrack.  Fox, thinking “ha, that’s chicken feed” gave him those rights, around the same time as Xerox and IBM and HP and AT&T were laughing at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Of course, we all know that a big part of Star Wars is its tremendous soundtrack and the vast toy merchandising.  Star Wars redefined movie marketing, soundtracks, sequels, and even the entire toy industry.  There would be no G I Joe, Transformers or Masters of the Universe, Ninja Turtles, Batman (toys), etc., without Star Wars. 

Years later, Lucas bought a big ranch and named it Skywalker Ranch.  I’ve always loved the description of it in articles: a dusty “dude ranch” on the outside, with old-fashoined western buildings and such.  Then, on the inside, the most state-of-the-art technological facilities you could imagine, housing the LucasArts video game company, the Skywalker Sound recording studio, the THX surround sound headquarters, and the ILM offices, decorated with works of fine art all around.

One of my dreams is to one day own my own Catholic version of Skywalker Ranch: a place where technology, nature, creativity and faith meet.

One of my dreams is to someday host my own variation on the Sydmonton festival. 

My dream is to be like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Henson and George Lucas: free to just create what I want to create, and not necessarily to be pigeonholed to one particular genre or medium or style.

The trick has always been, of course, to generate the income to get that cycle going, to get that “big break.”  The Internet has provided vast opportunities for self-publishing and self-marketing.  As I’ve learned more and more about these, I’ve prayed for the opportunity to finally realize my dream. 

Then, in January, I lost both my teaching jobs, but I was eligible for unemployment benefits.  I had the money to pay the bills, no job to do, and no classes to take.  So I threw myself into writing, and into trying to up the quality and readership of this blog, while I looked for the right moment.  I submitted articles to various places, getting one successfully published.

Then I thought about self-published recordings.  I discovered Amazon.com’s CreateSpace service. I did a bit of research on home recording and equipment.  I bought myself a digital USB microphone.  And I recorded a 72 minute audio book.

C. S. Lewis said he wrote the books he always wanted to read, and I recorded the audiobook I’ve always wanted to listen to–or at least since I used to drive a minimal 45 minute commute every day from Fredericksburg to Springfield, VA, and wished I could pray all those daily devotions I liked from diverse prayer books while I drove. 

The more I’ve gotten into MP3s, and have downloaded various free MP3s online, and purchased various Rosary and Divine Mercy CDs, Fr. Corapi DVDs, etc., I’ve wished I could find a collection of short prayers that I could intermix with music: like when you’re driving a long trip, and you want to pray, but the rosary or the reflection CD is too relaxing and makes you fall asleep, but you don’t want to just listen to music either.  Something I could intermix with a music playlist.

Well, I’ve made that CD.  It’s called Hide Me in Your Wounds, and, very shortly, it will be availalbe for sale on Amazon.com and Create Space.  You can purchase it as a direct download, or you can order the CD from my page.  I will be placing an ad on the side bar of this blog very soon. 

I’m waitng for Amazon to ship me my “proof copy”, and, as soon as I approve it, it will be live for sale on Amazon.com, Target.com and my personal store (note: I get a better royalty if you purchase it from my store, but I also recommend you just purchase the MP3 format).

Here is the direct link

Please consider purchasing a copy.  I will be sharing more details as the release date gets closer.  I have both mild and wild expectations for this CD, but if even the mild expectations are met, it will provide me with sufficient income to focus more on creating my next work for self-publication. 🙂

Why should we *trust* them??

Liberals say conservatives are telling lies and rumors about their wonderful “health care” plan, even though what we’re saying is based upon what the plan says, and what Obama’s advisors and Democratic congressmen and Obama himself have said in various speeches.

Most importantly, our concerns are based upon our familiarity with how the Federal Government and the Democrats work.

They don’t just stick the from in the pot of cold water, they stick the frog in the pot of cold water and tell him it’s for his own good.  They tell him the water is cleaner than the pond and that the metal walls will keep him safe from predators.

They actually coax the frog to jump *into* the pot of cold water.  The convince him the lid’s for his own good, to keep him safe, and that, when the lid’s down, it will keep the flies in and easy to catch.

And the stupid frog believes them and hops in, and let’s them put the lid on his head, and then they turn the heat on.

That’s how they do it.  They did it with education.  And once the Republicans got back in, promising to abolish the newly formed Department of Education, they saw the Department of Education as a tool for their own power, and just expanded it, till we went from Carter to Reagan to Dubya’s NCLB.

They did it with abortion and contracption.  I challenge anyone who thinks legalized abortion or contraception is OK, or anyone who trusts the Democrats or the Republicans, to actually read NSSM-200.  I’ve blogged about it on this site, including links and quotations.  It’s all in there: using “Choice” as the buzzword to make the people accept the government’s imperialist agenda of population control; getting the American public to overcome their moral objections to abortion and contraception so they’ll support the government forcing these things on other countries.

These are not lies or conspiracy theories.  These are official USAID policies established in this document.  Read it.

They did it with “sex education.”  About 15 years ago, Jocelyn Elders was controversial for saying there should be sex ed. in Kindergarten.  Now it’s widely promoted in the name of “protecting” kids from sexual predators.

They did it with the Bill of Rights.  Has Obama gotten rid of waterboarding?  Has he voluntarily declined any of the special powers Bush arrogated to himself?

Can  anyone name one area where the Democrats, or the federal government, have proven trustworthy?

One area where, once they’ve taken power, they’ve voluntarily relinquished it?

One area where, once they’ve got their foot in the door, they haven’t pushed the door open and taken over the house?

Everyone’s talking about the conservative blogs: what about the liberal blogs that say Obama isn’t going far enough?

Starving someone to death is not “end of life care”

I’m sick of the lying.  Yesterday, Barack Obama, in a conference call to sympathetic religious leaders, accused his enemies of “bearing false witness” against his socialist health care plan.  The Democrat shills at Yahoo and the AP keep trying to “debunk” the “myths” about “Health Care Reform.” 

He calls the discussion of abortion coverage a “fabrication,” but the point is that, as a priest recently pointed out on Facebook, if abortion is not specifically *not* covered, it is implicitly covered by Obamacare because it is a legal medical procedure.

And then there’s Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels” comment. 

Now, there are two issues at stake here:

1.  Obama and his supporters are conveniently skipping over the question of “rationing”: that in any government-run healthcare system, there is rationing of services.  This is expressed in minimal practice by the waiting lists in Canada and the UK.  I’ll do a separate post on that later.

However, it needs to be said that, when people talk about “death panels,” they’re talking in part about panels that will at least establish triage rules if not the very overt elimination of “inferior people” advocated by Peter Singer, Tom Daschle, and several of Obama’s closest advisors.

2.  The question of “end of life care.” Obama’s supporters, including some Republicans, say the issue is just whether Medicare/Medicaid and the hypothetical “government option” should pay doctors to give “end of life” counseling to elderly and terminally ill patients–things like living wills and such.  They claim it’s not about the government or doctors dictating the end of life decisions, and that provisions specifically forbid euthanasia or assisted suicide counseling.

That’s all a matter of your definition of terms.  Because the Obama Apologists point to the Terri Schiavo case as the example of what they’re talking about.  In *their* view, an individual has the right to decide *not* to receive basic care such as nutrition and hydration.

I’m the first to admit that a patient should be allowed to refuse measures which can be classified as “extraordinary” according to the criteria laid out in the Catechism, and that any one of the conditions listed in the Catechism can be sufficient to refuse a medical treatment.

For example, I don’t get the flu vaccine, even though I’m in the category that “ought to”.  In my experience , every year I got the flu vaccine, I ended up getting a horrible bout of bronchitis or pneumonia .

Or when a particular medication has side effects that are too severe for the particular user, that’s an extraordinary measure in that person’s case.

But basic survival is a moral obligation.  Even if one believes a feeding tube as such is “extraordinary,” one is still obligated to provide *some* sustenance.  It wasn’t just that they removed Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube–that was bad enough-but after they did that, they tortured her by not even trying to give her ice cubes or small amounts of food by mouth.  They brutally starved her to death.

A feeding tube is not the same thing as a respirator or other “life support.”  On a respirator or heart-lung machine, one could theoretically go on for years in a physiological limbo.  But one can also die on such a machine, in spite of artificial survival.  There is no natural cognate to the machine in that case: but for a feeding tube, the natural cognate is just eating or drinking. 

My mother in law lived off a feeding tube for a year.  In terms of basic life functions, there was nothing else wrong with her.  Certainly, there were times she felt like “giving up”–quite frequently, in fact–but she kept going.  Seven years later, she’s living a fairly normal, active senior life. 

Now, when she was at the worst of her situation, she’d had several surgeries, infections, etc., and it was pretty dire.  It would have been one thing to say, “I don’t want any more surgeries.”   Had she made that decision, it would have been sad and tragic and ironic (given that the last one was the one that worked), but that would have made sense.

However, to say, “Take out the feeding tube” would *not* be a morally acceptable decision, because, while it’s a very nuanced difference, that would have been to actively kill her. 

Certainly, these matters are complex.  We are not, as Obama has claimed, “God’s partners in matters of life and death”–at least not in the way that he means.  Indeed, we should be God’s “partners’ in these matters, if he means prayerfully deciding what action is most in keeping with moral law.  But when we force God’s hand, whether it’s by contracepting, or using IVF, or by denying basic life sustenance to a seriously disabled or terminally ill person , we are not “partnering”–we’re controlling.

Recently, some friends’ former son-in-law passed away.  Their grandson was faced with the troubling decision of whether to “pull the plug” on his own father.  God was merciful, and his father passed away that night on the life support, anyway.

On the other hand, there was a family member who, after multiple bouts with cancer, signed a living will with a blanket refusal of life sustaining measures, which was phrased so broadly that, when the time came, she was starved to death.

And then there was a family friend who was in a horrible traffic accident like a year and a half ago.  When it first happened, he was on lifesupport and not responding, and there was a big debate about “pulling the plug.”  Before a decision was made, he woke up.  Then they said he was completely paralyzed.  Then he wasn’t.  Now he’s walking again and, while not 100%, mostly back to his old life.

As I have read many stories of middle aged Marfans who coughed too hard, thus dissecting their aortas, and then went into comas for several months only to die of respiratory failure when their lungs filled up with blood, I wonder how I want such a situation handled.  I don’t want to be arbitrarily denied care or taken off the machines.  I don’t want to die *only* because a living will was improperly written or whatever, too vaguely.  

Or my wife’s cousin, who was the center of a national Botox scandal, whose father almost “pulled the plug” when things were most dire (they brougth the family together and used the minimal communication they were able to get from her–as they do with people with “locked in” syndrome–to get her response on which family member she wanted as her representative), but she’s since recovered.

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of shutting down “life support,” nor with the idea of “brain death.”  

So much of it depends on the exact circumstances ,an

Should people have living wills?  Yes, if only to protect themselves from the  Michael Schiavos of the world. 

Should people carefully consider these issues?  Yes. 

Should doctors or the government or the insurance be the ones to “counsel” people?  No.  This decision should be made with detached parties who have the expertise in the moral rules, with a thorough understanding of the medical situation and possibilities, not with those who have a vested interest in the situation.

St. Teresa of Avila on the struggles of the spiritual path

“But as He did not order me to cease from drinking when I had begun to do so, but caused me to be plunged into the depths of the water, it is certain that He will forbid no one to come: indeed, He calls us publicly, and in a loud voice, to do so.[72] Yet, as He is so good, He does not force us to drink, but enable those who wish to follow Him to drink in many ways so that none may lack comfort or die of thirst. For from this rich spring flow many streams — some large, others small, and also little pools for children, which they find quite large enough, for the sight of a great deal of water would frighten them: by children, I mean those who are in the early stages.[73] Therefore, sisters, have no fear that you will die of thirst on this road; you will never lack so much of the water of comfort that your thirst will be intolerable; so take my advice and do not tarry on the way, but strive like strong men until you die in the attempt, for you are here for nothing else than to strive. If you always pursue this determination to die rather than fail to reach the end of the road, the Lord may bring you through this life with a certain degree of thirst, but in the life which never ends He will give you great abundance to drink and you will have no fear of its failing you. May the Lord grant us never to fail Him. Amen.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 20, para. 2).

Obama changes position?

Reports are circulating on the internet that, at least, Obama will not eliminate private insurance, and that he may be willing to drop government control altogether, in exchange for non-profit health cooperatives.

Sounds good to me.  The operative issue, to borrow a term from the Left, is *choice*.  If the federal government controls health care, we don’t have a choice.  It doesn’t matter which, if any, of our fears are involved in the current plan–abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc.–what matters is that, once the government controls health care, and has a monopoly, we won’t have the choice.  We won’t have the power of the market to stop practices we don’t agree with.

Pro-lifers and Republicans need to jump on this opening.  We really need to say, “Yes.  This we’ll go for” on the co-operatives thing. 

We do need healthcare reform, and this would be an option that improves the insurance situation without giving it over to the government.  It still isn’t the best solution to healthcare, but it’s a start.

I honestly have to wonder sometimes, being the naive person that I can be (I alternative between naivete and cynicism), whether this was his plan all along?  I sometimes wonder who this guy is really lying to.

Obama implies he’s not a believing Christian

“I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who’s aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that,” an impassioned Obama told a crowd as he spoke of Madelyn Payne Dunham. He took issue with “the notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of Congress are in this so they can go around pulling the plug on grandma.”

I know people are going to call this a stretch, but one thing I’ve experienced first hand, and through many conversations, is how different the death experience for those who have faith and those who don’t.

One person’s “agonizing” death from cancer may be a time of family togetherness, all-night prayer vigils, hand holding and hugging and hymnody.  Another’s death really is agony: dark-rooms, somber relatives, no one speaking, everyone standing at a distance. 

We had a big conversation about this at my Carmelite meeting a few months ago.  People told amazing stories of relatives’ deathbed conversions.  Some talked about relatives who had no faith, whose deaths were *horrible.* “You could feel the demons in the room,” said one lady of her brother-in-law’s death experience.  He was writhing in the bed, screaming.  Suddenly, he asked for a priest.  They got the priest who’d been waiting outside, blocked by the atheist relatives.  The priest received the dying man into the Church, and the whole room changed.

When you hear liberals talk about death, they talk about the agonizing nature of it. And the liberals, and the media, just don’t get it.  They think people have a “choice” about “end of life” care (to a certain extent, we do).  They say that the Schiavo case was a matter of “choice” and “family decisions” in which the government had no place (even though it had been in court for years, and the federal involvement was merely giving the family a chance at an appeal to someone other than the corrupt judge who always ruled in Michael’s favor).

But you don’t have the choice not to accept basic nutrition.  You have to the choice to refuse medical care, under certain circumstances . You do *not* have the choice to turn down basic nutrition or hydration, even to the point of refusing to provide nutritoin or hydration to a dying person when one has pulled the plug.

But his talk of the agonizing experience of watching his grandmother’s death–and how much did he actually experience?  Was it agonizing because of his guilt of putting his own ambitions above family?–betrays the fact that he thinks death is something fearful.

Years ago, before my heart surgery, the topic was being discussed at a Cursillo Ultreya.  Members were discussing their ailing parents and how sad it was they were dying in their 80s or whatever, and Dad said, “When John dies, it will be the happiest day of our lives.  All he wants is to go to Heaven, and why should we be sad that he gets his heart’s desire?”