From Buchanan's August 4 column:
Time to go, Grandpa
With "controlling costs" a primary goal of Obamacare, and half of all medical costs coming in the last six months of life, "rationed care" takes on a new meaning for us all.
London's Telegraph reported Sunday that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, known by its Orwellian acronym NICE, intends to slash by 95 percent the number of steroid injections, such as cortisone, given to people who suffer severe and chronic back pain.
"Specialists fear," said the Telegraph, "tens of thousands of people, mainly the elderly and frail, will be left to suffer excruciating levels of pain or pay as much as 500 pounds each for private treatment."
Now, twin this story with the weekend Washington Post story about Obamacare's "proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical treatment they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills," and there is little doubt as to what is coming.
The Post portrayed the controversy as stoked by "right-leaning radio" using explosive language like "guiding you in how to die" and government plans to "kill Granny." Yet, is not the logical purpose of paying doctors for house calls to the terminally ill, whose medical costs are killing Medicare, to suggest a pleasant and early exit from a pain-filled and costly life?
Let us suppose the NICE plan in Britain is adopted. And an 80-year-woman, living alone, with excruciating persistent back pain, is visited by a physician-counselor. What is he likely to advise? What conclusion would Grandma be led to by a doctor who sweetly explains what treatment she may still receive, what is being cut off, and what her other options might be?
What other options are there?
Examples of how to "die with dignity" are at hand.
Three weeks ago, Sir Edward Downes, the world-renowned British orchestra leader, who was going blind and deaf, and his wife of 54 years, who had terminal cancer, ended their lives at a Zurich clinic run by the assisted suicide group Dignitas. They drank a small amount of liquid and died hand in hand, their adult children by their side.
This is the way of de-Christianized Europe. For years, doctors have assisted the terminally ill in ending their lives. Indeed, it has been reported that indigent, sick and elderly patients who could not make the decision for themselves had it made for them.
In America, we have a Death with Dignity Act in Oregon and such suicide counselors as the Hemlock Society, which itself took the cup in 2003. Now we have Compassion & Choices, which counsels the elderly sick on a swift and painless end. Before he took to ending the lives of patients who were not terminal, but sick and depressed, Dr. Kevorkian had his admirers. Not infrequently, one reads of nursing homes where the infirm and elderly have been put to death.
Beneath this controversy lie conflicting concepts about life.
To traditional Christians, God is the author of life and innocent life, be it of the unborn or terminally ill, may not be taken. Heroic means to keep the dying alive are not necessary, but to advance a natural death by assisting a suicide or euthanasia is a violation of the God's commandment, Thou shalt not kill.
To secularists and atheists who believe life begins and ends here, however, the woman alone decides whether her unborn child lives, and the terminally ill and elderly, and those closest to them, have the final say as to when their lives shall end. As it would be cruel to let one's cat or dog spend its last months or weeks in terrible pain, they argue, why would one allow one's parents to endure such agony?
In the early 20th century, with the influence of Social Darwinism, the utilitarian concept that not all life is worth living or preserving prevailed. In Virginia and other states, sterilization laws were upheld by the Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said famously, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
In Weimar Germany, two professors published "The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life," which advocated assisted suicide for the terminally ill and "empty shells of human beings." Hitler's Third Reich, marrying Social Darwinism to Aryan racial supremacy, carried the concepts to their logical if horrible conclusion.
CROWLEY: Republicans are also encountering angry voters but Democrats seem to be getting the worst of it and they accuse Republican operatives of sending protesters to their Town Hall meetings, but even if there is any truth to that charge the reality is that poll after poll shows that Americans are divided about Obama-style health care reform.
Well, first, of course there is "truth to that charge." Right-wing groups are sending around memos telling people how to "artificially inflate" their numbers and "be disruptive early and often." That memo was revealed four days ago. Has Crowley been paying any attention at all?
And second: No, Americans are not "divided" in any meaningful way on "Obama style health care reform." By large margins, Americans want significant health care reform. By large margins, they favor Barack Obama's approach over the GOP's approach. They favor a public option.
Yes, it's true, polling also shows things like public concern that they wouldn't be able to choose their own doctor under proposed reforms. But that concern is not based on reality -- it is based on an aggressive disinformation campaign waged by enemies of reform. If Candy Crowley spent her time producing news reports that correct that disinformation rather than hyping the results of it, things would be going a lot more smoothly -- and more importantly (from her perspective) she'd also be performing actual journalism.
Marc Ambinder seems to think that liberals are ignoring "real health care anxiety," as expressed by people yelling at town hall events. And he seems to think he's being criticized for pointing out that such anxiety exists.
I think what's really happening is that some liberals think the media should not behave as though a few very loud, very angry protesters are representative of the public at large. And they shouldn't report the things those protesters are yelling -- or even the "real health care anxiety" many other Americans are feeling -- without making clear whether or not the concerns are factually correct.
Basically, by endlessly reporting that town hall events are being interrupted by yelling anti-health-care-reform protesters, the media is giving disproportionate attention to what polls show to be the minority of the public that opposes reform. And by failing to point out when those complaints are factually inaccurate, the media is further amplifying their power.
Video of a handful of shouting protesters may make for better television than factual explanations of health care reform, and refutations of false claims about it, or recitations of polling data showing those protesters to be in the minority -- but it makes for worse journalism.
Ambinder says "protesters are mix of artificial and real. Point is: they're THERE." Well, sure. But that's a pretty banal point. Nobody doubts that they're there. We see the video every time we turn on cable news. But what do they mean? How significant are their numbers? Are their facts right? Those are the things reporters should focus on, not simply assuming that because they are loud, they are powerful or right. There were plenty of angry yelling people at McCain-Palin rallies last year, too -- and they didn't turn out to matter at all, because they were representative of only a small portion of the country.
(This is where Ambinder says I don't understand how things are, and I reply that I do -- but Ambinder doesn't understand they don't have to be, and shouldn't be, how they are.)
UPDATE: Ezra Klein points out that at health care events over the past several years, "one thing is perfectly predictable: The Q&A session will be dominated by single-payer activists asking about HR 676." Now, maybe you've noticed the lack of media attention paid to these public demands for single-payer health care by real Americans over the years. So, no, the media doesn't have to breathlessly report every time some obscure member of congress gets a question from someone who has been lied to about what health care reform will involve.
UPDATE 2: Ambinder elaborates -- and basically says reporters can't say weather health care reform concerns are valid:
Take, for example, the question of whether people would have to change their policies or their doctors as the result of a robust public plan. Obama says no -- and he makes a credible argument for it. Many real people -- regardless of their motives -- have legitimate and credible reasons to believe that the answer is yes.
Nonsense. We know that none of the health care bills in question would require anyone to change health care plans or doctors. None of them.
Ambinder doesn't explain what the "legitimate and credible reasons" to believe that people would have to change policies and doctors are. But whatever they are, they certainly don't preclude reporters from saying "None of the proposed reforms would require anyone to change health care plans or doctors." If Ambinder can come up with a credible argument why people would be required to do so, fine: reporters can and should mention that argument, too. (Though they needn't and shouldn't give it equal weight if it isn't equally-likely.)
That's the responsible way to cover the "anxiety" Ambinder is obsessed with: to assess how valid it is. That may not mean being able to definitively say "true" or "false" -- but the answer isn't, as Ambinder seems to think, to throw your hands up in the air, decide you can't know for sure so you won't even try to assess it, and decide that your job is simply to report that concerns exist.
And, really, I can't believe anyone would seriously think that is the correct path to take. Why would you become a reporter if you think the job simply entails announcing that concerns exist without assessing the validity of those concerns?
Jane Hamsher at FDL spells out the news media's delinquency:
Organizations like CBS and the New York Times do not report the news when it is right in front of them. They pass off these transparent lobbyist funded thuggery as a grassroots effort. They do not say who is organizing these violent uprisings, or how they are being funded. These media outlets are playing a critical role by telling the country that its people believe something that they don't. It is blatant propaganda being passed off as news, and it is to "journalism" what David H. Koch is to "grassroots."
UPDATED: Irony alert. During the run-up to the Iraq War when tens, and often hundreds, of thousands of anti-war activists gathered to voice their opinion, the press often seemed to go out of its way to downplay the significance.
But today when a few dozen Tea Party protesters form town hall min-mobs, the press seems anxious to assign great meaning.
The anti-health care mobs that the right-wing is whipping up to disrupt town hall meetings hosted by Democrats are being cheered mightily by bloggers like Malkin, who are thrilled that angry conservatives are trying to shut down public dialog about health care reform in this country.
It's funny, because during the Bush years, Malkin had a caustic put-down she used for anybody on the left who protested government policy, without, of course, trying to shut down public debate: Moonbats!
But today's Tea Party fanatics who scream and yell and plan massive disruptions? They're just regular ole Americans.
Marc Ambinder seems to think the tea-bagger effort to shut down Democratic town hall meetings is just working from the Dems 2005 anti-Social Security privatization playbook.
I watched those events unfold pretty closely. And what the Dems did in 2005 consisted almost entirely of protest outside town halls and anti-privatization activists trying to get into the meetings to ask questions to pin members of Congress down on their position. What made it so uncomfortable for Republican and some Democratic members of Congress is that they got questions they didn't want to answer.
Did some meetings get heated? Sure. But these weren't organized attempts to shut down the meetings themselves.
Does Marc remember what happened four years ago?
We're going to see more and more of this in the press. The idea that Obama' push for health care reform is just like Bush's push to privatize Social Security (see the AP for a perfect example), and that the opposition to Obama is just like the opposition to Bush.
Neither is accurate.
The New Yorker publishes an embarrassing puff piece about hate merchant Michael Savage (i.e. he's "engrossing" and "fun" didn't you know), while ABC News invites factually challenged blogger Michelle Malkin on its Sunday round table show. Because of course Malkin fit right in sitting across from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker, right? I mean they're practically equals, those two.
This on-going media spectacle is among the most sad to witness. Because if you took a private Beltway poll of media elites, 97% would concede both Savage and Malkin are nothing more than low level carnival barkers who cannot be trusted for any accurate information (i.e. they just make shit up) and who continue to pollute the public dialog with relentlessly vile and personal attacks on their political opponents.
So why are outlets like The New Yorker and ABC News validating them? It's just pathetic. Either in love with the allure of shallow contrarianism (i.e. The New Yorker), or spooked by the right-wing, which unleashed a phony jihad against ABC News regarding its Obama health care special this summer (Malkin slammed ABC as "The All Barack Channel"), media outlets continue to kowtow to the radical right.
Think about it. How many glowing profiles of liberal radio hosts or commentators has The New York published recently? And has ABC News ever invited a far-left blogger onto its Sunday round table discussion? Members of the GOP Noise Machine make handsome livings attacking and undermining the so-called liberal media, condemning it as amoral and traitorous. So what does The New Yorker and ABC News do in return? They celebrate the attackers.
Why on earth would right-wing press haters ever stop when they get rewarded--when they get celebrated--for their outlandish behavior?
UPDATED: Savage this week wallows in birther mania. The New Yorker must be so proud.
From Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson's August 4 column on WorldNetDaily, headlined "Obama hates the white man":
Barack Obama hates white people -- especially white men. Sorry folks, but the truth will set you free!
Why else would Obama falsely accuse Sgt. James Crowley and other Cambridge Police officers of "racial profiling" and claim they "acted stupidly" -- creating a national racial controversy?
For months, I have said that Barack Obama was elected as a result of white fear (guilt) and black racism. Whites voted for him because of guilt and the fear of being called "racist." And the 96 percent of blacks who voted for the "Messiah" did so because of his race and his "spread the wealth" notions.
Barack Obama is Jeremiah Wright Jr. He is the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus! He embodies the aspirations of every left-wing black group that wants to tear down this country and take power away from the "oppressive" white man. He's not an obvious race hustler like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson; but Obama is a smooth pathological liar -- with a wicked heart.
Both Obama and his friend Henry Louis Gates are racist. Keep in mind also that Gates' attorney, Charles Ogletree, was Barack Obama's law professor at Harvard. We're dealing with liberal-elite, cunning black intellectuals.
Sgt. James Crowley said after the "beer summit" that there were no apologies, but that he will meet with and listen to more about Gates' views. Listen to what? How to hamstring cops from doing their jobs? Are you kidding me?
I realize that Crowley was under a great deal of pressure to get along, but he should have had the courage to demand an apology and tell the president and Gates: 1) They were wrong, and 2) Their phony photo op and "beer summit" at the White House won't cleanse their racist hearts.
Just a note about Sunday's "Reliable Sources," and how Kurtz wondered again and again how somebody like Beck could go on Fox News and call the president a racist and not suffer any kind of negative consequences.
"So, my question is, how does he get away with this?" Kurtz asked his guests. "He doesn't seem to be paying any price." He also noted incredulously that, "There doesn't seem to be any great uproar about it."
Fact: In the pages of the Washington Post, media critic Kurtz himself spent the previous week remaining completely silent about Beck's "racist" attack. In fact, the entire WashPost staff played dumb--Beck's smear was never reported in the newspaper, let alone condemned.
But on Sunday, Kurtz went on CNN and acted confused about why Beck was able to call Obama a racist on national television and nobody (in the press) really did much of anything about it.
The following is a statement obtained by Media Matters for America from NAACP president and chief executive Benjamin Jealous:
"It is outrageous that while Americans of all races, genders and ethnicities throughout our country are focused on addressing the challenges our nation is besieged with, such as unemployment, healthcare reform, the home ownership crisis, education, and war
Mr.. Dobbs cannot get past his extremist fixation with President Obama's citizenship. We have all seen President Obama's birth certificate on the internet. He was born in Hawaii to his U.S. mother, a U.S. citizen born in Kansas. This makes him a citizen that, along with being over 35 years of age, makes him legally eligible to be elected the President of the United States. Any ethical journalist would not spread unfounded and clearly mendacious rumors that fan the flames of racial hatred and division. We urge Mr. Dobbs to adhere to journalistic standards and assure that the stories he perpetuates are based in fact. We ask Mr. Dobbs to focus on the crucial social and economic issues that affect so many Americans and are truly worthy of CNN's air time, rather than the tabloid journalism he seems to have embraced."