Letters to the Editor

Letters: Sept. 4

'Death panels' already part of U.S. health care

In an ironic twist, doctors will be the only group that will suffer if "death panels" are removed from any health care reforms. After all, the language regarding so-called death panels has to do with paying doctors for advice on the care to give the elderly and terminally ill.

Every day in America hundreds of what could be called "death panels" meet to discuss grandpa and grandma and when to "pull the plug." Any time an elderly person is admitted to a nursing home, the staff of that facility is given guidelines from relatives or guardians about the care to be provided. This includes a document called a DNR, or a do-not-resuscitate document.

Every day, people are injured in accidents where recovery is not possible, and the relatives and health care providers meet in a "death panel" to decide how much additional care should be given to these victims.

My mother contracted Alzheimer's disease. After three years in a nursing home, at age 86, it was clear that her condition had deteriorated into what they call late-stage Alzheimer's. I signed a DNR document, using "death panel" advice from health care professionals. It was not an easy thing to do, but it was the most humane thing to do.

Sarah Palin and the Republican right wing call this process "death panels." I call it informed compassion, but then I'm not out of power and wanting that power back.

I'm just a man trying to care for my mother.

Dave Sawyer


Peace, love still valid

Thank you for the articles about the anniversary of the Woodstock music festival.

The standard narrative says that the hippies all went home, grew up and became yuppies who lived happily ever after chasing the almighty dollar. The true story is much worse.

The hippie uprising was seen as a threat to the Nixon presidency, and the government began to wage war on the counterculture. Timothy Leary, a psychologist and writer who was an advocate of psychedelic drug use, was set up by the government and sent to prison. It was the same for Abbie Hoffman, the founder of the Yippies, and author Ken Kesey — all on drug charges.

The FBI also had investigated and wiretapped famous people such as John Lennon, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The government operations against war protesters were part of COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program. The program consisted of a series of covert and often illegal projects conducted by the FBI to disrupt dissident political organizations within the United States.

The government used the war on drugs as a guise to charge many of the war protesters with conspiracy and send them to prison.

In memory of the freedom from authority Woodstock represents, I would like to point out that the revolution was crushed and did not die on its own. The government took back the control that it still has today to stifle speech and dissent. Peace, love and freedom were good ideas then, and still are today.

Chris Wells


Ignore vultures

Last year's presidential and vice presidential candidates talked a lot about health care reform — yet there was no raging and gnashing of teeth by the public.

Instead, we saw mostly rational and respectful discussions over different approaches. Privately, however, the insurance CEOs began developing their game plan.

Now they have seized on some folks' fears and others' bitterness at the election results and have promoted a despicable distortion of what is in the proposed health care bills.

The profiteers, pundits and Palins that spread lies about non-existent "death panels" should be ashamed. They and the agitators disrupting town halls instead of engaging in a dialogue based on facts are an affront to our democracy and are not worthy of their citizenship.

We are all in this together, and we can take care of each other without destroying our democracy or our children's futures.

We must have a public option to reduce costs and ensure access for all. Furthermore, it is our civic duty to help each other with healthy lifestyle choices to prevent chronic diseases that are a drain on our resources and cause so much suffering.

We cannot wait and we must not be distracted by liars, vultures and fools.

Danita Hines


Can't we disagree?

I could hardly believe the Aug. 13 column by syndicated writer Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Navarrette wrote that comedian George Lopez, "incensed that 31 Senate Republicans had voted against Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, ... informed the GOP that it would never again get the votes of Latinos."

Navarrette continues: "That's harsh, but fair."

What if the liberal Democrats who voted against conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were told they cast those votes because Thomas was black, and therefore, no black will ever vote for a Democrat again?

What distorted, stupid and racist thinking is that? Can't one vote his or her conscience or political philosophy without being accused of being a racist? Can't we disagree without labeling our opponent as being racist? Is it possible 31 Republicans voted against Sotomayor because they disagree with her?

Newspapers should uphold the best in thinking, not infantile malarkey. I subscribe to this paper because I want to learn, not for exploitative propaganda.

Joanne P. Smith


GOP a lobbying group

Recent Associated Press articles in the Herald-Leader have attempted to portray the right-wing assaults on health care reform debates as "grass-roots" events. In fact, it is widely documented that these activities are the projects of Washington, D.C., public-relations firms, funded by private health insurance corporations.

Together with the further lies and threats spread by the Fox media network and its repulsive clones on radio, these projects have the noble aim of trying to make sure that health care is not made available to the 50 million Americans who don't have it.

Our friends and allies in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere — who have had national health care systems for decades — must think Americans have lost their marbles.

The Republican Party could work on our health care crisis in a bipartisan spirit that would make some concessions to all stakeholders.

They have made it clear, however, that they don't care about the needs of the American people as long as the executives at the private insurance companies can continue to rake in the exorbitant profits that support their imperial lifestyles.

If any voter ever considered the Republicans to be a legitimate political party, I'm afraid the sordid truth has become evident. The GOP is, in fact, simply a corporate lobbying group, nothing more and nothing less.

Its members won't vote for critically needed reforms, so the Democrats need to move on without them, act like adults, and do what needs to be done for our nation.

Patrick McLaughlin