August 24, 2009

Make My Day: David William Hedrick

From a town hall meeting (HT Hot Air and Glenn Beck on the air) with Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA):

Transcript:

David William Hedrick: My name is David, and I’m from Camas, Washington.

Congressman Baird: Hi David.

David: First of all, I wanted to let everyone know since this is a thing tonight that I’m a Marine Corps vet.

Baird: Thank you, David.

David: And like you, I did swear an oath to defend my Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Now I heard you say tonight about educating our children, indoctrinating our children, whatever you want to call it.

Baird: I didn’t say “indoctrinating.” I never said that.

David: Stay away from my kids!

I also heard you say that you’re going to let us keep our health insurance. Well thank you! It’s not your right to decide whether or not I keep my current plan or not. That’s my decision.

Now I’ve heard recently in the media you and some other people on the national political stage call us “brownshirts” because we oppose you.

Baird: No I did not. No I did not. What I said was …. and I’ve apologized for it.

David: Thanks for apologizing. I won’t speak to you then. I will speak to others.

I’ll remind you, a little history lesson — the Nazis were the National Socialist Party, they were leftists. They took over the finance. They took over the car industry. They took over health care in that country. If Nancy Pelosi wants to find a swastika, maybe the first place she should look is the sleeve on her own arm.

Now what I want to know is, you’ve done a lot of things to violate your constitutional oath. As a Marine, as a disabled veteran who has served this country, I have kept my oath. Do you ever intend to keep yours?

Mr. Hedrick’s YouTube narrative:

I, David William Hedrick, a member of the silent majority, decided that I was not going to be silent anymore. So, I let U.S. Congressman Brian Baird have it. I was one questioner out of 38, that was called at random from an audience that started at 3,000 earlier in the evening. Not expecting to be called on, I quickly scratched what I wanted to say on a borrowed piece of paper and with a pen that I borrowed from someone else in the audience minutes before I spoke. So much for the planned talking points of the right wing conspiracy.

Thank you, David. Well done, sir.

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UPDATE: This is how Brian Baird justifies claiming he didn’t call town hall attendees opposing statist health care “brownshirts” –

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) apologized yesterday for accusing town hall protesters of “brown shirt tactics” and comparing them to a “lynch mob.”

Baird, who originally decided against holding town hall meetings because of expected protests, now says he’ll schedule some forums during the August recess.

…. Baird made headlines last week by comparing town hall protesters to Nazi guards.

“What we’re seeing right now is close to Brown Shirt tactics,” Baird told the Columbian. “I mean that very seriously.”

Oh, so he “only” accused Americans who want to be heard of “brownshirt tactics” while “comparing them to a lynch mob.” I’m soooooo relieved. (/sarc) Geez, even The Hill blogger Eric Zimmerman gets the comparison Baird was making.

A class act would have said, at worst, “I didn’t exactly say that, but I’m very sorry for what I did say, because it was wrong,” instead of brusquely saying “I’ve apologized for that” and pretending that everything is now hunky-dory. But Brian Baird is clearly not a class act.

Zeke the Bleak Tries a Sneak

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:44 am

EzekielEmanuel081109Rahm Emanuel’s unreformed brother should not get anywhere near the levers of power in health care.

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Note: This was originally posted at Pajamas Media and teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday morning. Update: You don’t have to be a supposed right-wing knuckle-dragger to see what Zeke Emanuel is all about. Nat Hentoff, prominent civil libertarian and a 50-year veteran columnist at the Village Voice until last year, also understands.

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Earlier this month (“ObamaCare as a Moral Clunker”), I wrote that there are three insurmountable moral objections to the President’s and Democrats’ versions of mislabeled “health care reform”:

  1. They are all designed and destined to ration care. This will lead, as it has in state-run systems virtually everywhere, to long waits for even critical services. In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Harvard professor and chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers Martin Feldstein confirmed this obvious and inconvenient truth, writing that “rationing health care is central to President Barack Obama’s health plan.”
  2. Under the idea of “Comparative Effectiveness Research” (CER), which has already been funded to the tune of over $1 billion, the inevitable and unavoidable rationing just described would more than likely be carried out under a regime of care denial driven by age-based and “quality of life” criteria. This will, formally or informally, lead to a system similar to that found in the UK, where its National Health Service, under the concept of “Quality-Adjusted Life Years’ (QALY), won’t pay for medical procedures that “cost” more than $50,000 for each of year additional life expected to gained (“cost” is in quotes because I believe that such “costs” are often overloaded with fixed overhead that largely should not be relevant to such decisions).
  3. The people who would be in charge of implementing a state-controlled system, which remains the objective of President Obama and Congress as long as they seek any kind of “public option” or government-managed “co-operative” set-up, have viewpoints that are ethically questionable at best and morally abhorrent at worst.

The administration appears to be trying to allay the justifiable concerns about Item 3, and seems to believe that if it can do that, Americans won’t be as worried about Items 1 and 2. Sadly, despite the worldwide track record of state-run and state-controlled systems, there is some plausibility to this strategy. Even with the vocal and growing opposition to ObamaCare as a whole, Rasmussen reports that “57% oppose the plan if it doesn’t include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.”

This is where Ezekiel Emanuel (“Zeke”), brother of President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, comes in.

Zeke has been and apparently still is Chair of the Clinical Center Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, where he is still listed as an employee. I have confirmed that Zeke is still employed there. He has been with the Obama administration as health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget since February, and is a member of the Federal Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Hmm. He’s a busy guy. I wonder how many taxpayer-funded income streams he receives?

Zeke has an ugly paper trail that goes back a long way. What follows are just a few examples.

On the Hippocratic Oath, Zeke said in 1997 that it “…. represented the minority view in a debate within the ancient Greek medical community.” Well, if everyone had been following an ethical framework, the Oath wouldn’t have been necessary, would it? One might as well say that in the 1950s, the majority of white Southern Democrats opposed the voting rights for black Americans. So what? Does that make Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King presumptively wrong?

In a study released in 2001 based on a review of 1996 death and patient records, Zeke and a team of researchers found, as summarized by the New York Times, that “many cancer patients receive chemotherapy at the end of life, even if their kind of cancer is known to be unresponsive to the drugs.” Sounds familiar to the risible claim by the President a few weeks ago that pediatricians are taking out tonsils for purely financial reasons, doesn’t it? But Zeke & Co. rigged the test by bright-lining the difference between “responsive” and “unresponsive” cancers. According to this American Cancer Society link, for liver cancer, one of those the study deemed unresponsive to treatment, “(chemo) drugs shrink less than 1 in 5 tumors, and the responses often do not last long.” Hold it right there. First, chemo does work at least occasionally; when you have serious cancer, “occasionally” sounds pretty good. Second, rather than giving up on chemo for liver cancer, researchers are now investigating the possible effectiveness of hepatic artery infusion (HAI) for delivering the chemo drugs. Following Zeke’s logic, attempting chemo for liver cancer would have been abandoned, and it’s likely that the idea of trying HAI might never have been conceived.

Perhaps Zeke’s most infamous recommendation is in an essay (Pages 12-14 at link) in the November-December 1996 Hastings Report. In it, while quite frequently using variations of the word “communitarian,” he wrote that “…. services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” Charming.

But now we’re supposed to forget about all of that old stuff. Zeke recently embarked on a reputation rehab tour, and now squeaks that he’s no longer so bleak. You can tell that the administration knows it has a serious problem on its hands, because the doctor even found time in his interview rounds to get with the lefty-despised Washington Times. Here is some of what he told Times reporter Jon Ward on August 13:

“When I began working in the health policy area about 20 years ago … I thought we would definitely have to ration care, that there was a need to make a decision and deny people care,” said Dr. Emanuel, a health care adviser to President Obama in the Office of Management and Budget, during a phone interview.

“I think that over the last five to seven years … I’ve come to the conclusion that in our system we are spending way more money than we need to, a lot of it on unnecessary care,” he said. “If we got rid of that care we would have absolutely no reason to even consider rationing except in a few cases.”

To nuke that “five to seven years” assertion, I only had to go to one source, namely Betsy McCaughey in the July 24 New York Post. McCaughey cited three examples from the last two years contradicting the existence, let alone the timing, of Emanuel’s conversion:

  • Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, (in Emanuel’s words) “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others” (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).
  • McCaughey says that Emanuel repeated his “not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia” assertion in a February 27, 2008 article (“The Cost-Coverage Trade-off: ‘It’s Health Care Costs, Stupid’”) in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • She writes that “He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients” in a January 2009 Lancet article. Indeed he does, advocating something he calls “the complete lives system,” whose relevant care-determining factors include “youngest-first, prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value.”

I’ll add another example as a bonus. During the 2006 bird flu concerns, Zeke had his own ideas about how vaccines should be administered in a scarcity situation:

In a column in today’s issue of Science, they (Zeke and co-author Alan Wertheimer) say vaccine rationing should not be based on medical questions — such as who has the weakest immune system.

Rather, the ethicists argue, experts should consider the philosophical question of who would benefit most in the long term.

…. In their column, they argue every person, ideally, should have the opportunity to experience all the stages of life. But in a pandemic, kids should not be a big a priority, since they have not invested enough into their lives yet; on the other end, older people have experienced more of life’s stages, so they don’t deserve priority either.

They suggest a “cycle of life” priority that gives preference to people 13 to 40 years old — as long as they are reasonably healthy. If they have high-risk conditions that make them a lower bet for a long life, they drop down on the priority list.

It’s simply amazing. No matter what the medical issue at hand happens to be, Zeke always ends up at the same place — not treating the somehow unworthy, or letting them die.

Some “conversion.”

Unfortunately, Zeke is only one of many in the Obama administration, up to and including the President himself, whose outlandish views should never be granted real power in the health care system. The mere prospect that such people might someday, as Mark Steyn aptly puts it, “nationalize your body,” should be enough to persuade anyone that any and all attempts at enhancing state power over our health care system must be stopped once and for all.

Positivity: GA Man Buried In Coffin Built By High School Students

Filed under: Education,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Tiger, GA:

A Georgia County Shares a Tale of One Man’s Life and Death

Published: August 22, 2009

His pallbearers were the six boys who built his plain pine coffin in their high school shop class. They built it right in the middle of the classroom. When they finished, one of the boys crawled inside it while the others toted him around the school to make sure it worked.

Now Sammy Green lay inside the coffin, wearing the overalls he requested, while the boys marched him to his mountainside grave. Two preachers played guitars and crooned the kind of bluegrass gospel Mr. Green loved. “I’m a weary traveler,” one song began, “traveling through this land.”

Only about a dozen people attended Mr. Green’s funeral on Thursday afternoon in these fog-wrapped mountains, tucked into the northeast corner of the state. None were relatives — they are all dead — and most hardly knew Mr. Green, if they knew him at all. The boys who built the coffin never met him. Yet it was the people of the county who made the funeral possible.

For years, the story of Mr. Green, a never-married 76-year-old itinerant millworker who could not read or write, and his impending burial had spread through the mountains of Rabun County and beyond, becoming the kind of tale these people have long been famous for telling.

It began two years ago when a couple of students and a teacher from Rabun County High School showed up to interview him for Foxfire magazine, a renowned student-run publication devoted to Appalachian culture.

Since its founding here in 1966, Foxfire has sent students out to interview aging relatives, vanishing craftsmen and all manner of homegrown characters. Subjects run the gamut: beekeeping, moonshining, witches.

The magazine’s articles have been anthologized into a popular series of books. With about nine million in print, they have been adapted into a Broadway play and TV movie.

Mr. Green spoke into the students’ tape recorder for hours about his hardscrabble life. He was born in nearby Murphy, N.C., one of six children. His father pulled him out of the second grade to grind corn at a watermill. He hunted squirrels for food, smoked “baccer” (tobacco) and walked six miles to church, where he was baptized in a river on a 35-degree morning.

He worked for a while at a steel mill outside Atlanta, but returned to North Carolina to cut pulp wood and, as he told his visitors, “snake logs.” He paid for his own parents’ burials, once walking 16 miles for a headstone (he never had a driver’s license).

Finally too old to work and practically homeless, he met a family of traveling gospel singers at church and they took him in. One daughter eventually moved with her family to Rabun County and brought Mr. Green along.

After he finished his life story, Mr. Green asked the students to turn off the recorder. He looked troubled. Suffering from a deteriorating lung disease, he said he did not have enough money to be buried. He worried that if he died a pauper, the county would cremate him, an act that he believed would sentence him to eternal damnation. All he wanted, he said, was a pine box and a hole to put it in.

In the driveway as they left, one of the students, Casi Best, turned to the teacher and said, “Can’t we do something?”

“I could tell it was burden for him,” said Ms. Best, now a freshman at Piedmont College, in Demorest, Ga.

So Ms. Best and some other students started a “Bury Sammy” campaign. The school’s industrial arts teacher got the six volunteers from his ninth-grade class to build a coffin, pulling a design off the Internet. A bluegrass barbecue was held at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Mr. Green showed up briefly, trailed by an oxygen tank, marveling at the coffin on display.

“He said, ‘I don’t know if I’ll fit in there,’ ” recalled Joyce Green (no relation), the faculty adviser for Foxfire. “I knew he would. My son had already measured him.”

A granite company donated a headstone. A county cemetery offered up a plot. A funeral home director cut his rate to cost. People dropped change into gallon jugs placed inside gas stations, banks, beauty parlors. The $3,100 needed to bury Mr. Green was soon raised.

“He said, ‘That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about,’ ” remembered Sherri Eads Gragg, the woman who had taken him in.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Civil Libertarian Nat Hentoff ‘Scared’ Of Obama Admin; Formerly Admiring NYT Pretends Not To Hear

NatHentoff2009

A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:

Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.

The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.

Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.

That tribute appeared in the January 8, 2009 New York Times, in a column by Clyde Haberman.

Despite that praise, the Times is pretending that the fearful alarm Hentoff is sounding over ObamaCare doesn’t exist. But it does. In his August 19 column at Jewish World Review, Hentoff reminds us of a mostly-forgotten presidential quote from April, and makes an important, real-world point about how Washington carries out vaguely written laws:

I am finally scared of a White House administration

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama’s desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It’s already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

…. No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama’s eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in [a] Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a “very difficult democratic conversation” about how “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care” costs.

….. As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama’s cost-efficient health care regimen, (Dr. Wesley) Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

“Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

“This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar.

….. Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as “un-American,” Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.

I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will — as some of the current bills seem to imply — have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans?

The Times has given no coverage to Hentoff’s “facts, diligently gathered,” as shown in this search of its news and this search of its blogs, both only on his last name.

Given the Times’s open acknowledgment of Hentoff’s stature just a short time ago, its refusal to recognize Hentoff’s warnings is yet more proof, as if needed, that the Times is primarily about promoting a political agenda, and only tangentially about reporting the news.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.