tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC March 2, 2010 1:00am-2:00am EST
request to you that you listen attentively to his edition of this show. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? the health care map? in the house speaker nancy pelosi says she's got the votes. in the senate the total in favor of the public option by reconciliation now stands at 30 with a tough primary battle ahead for democrat blanch lincoln will the senator from arkansas be next to sign on? meanwhile, the party of no continues to live up to its name. >> it would really be the end of the united states senate as the protector of minority rights. >> if reconciliation is really the end of the senate, how come senator lamar alexander has voted for it four times? more gop obstructionism, this time courtesy of senator jim bunning. the gentleman from kentucky's legislative road block is worse than we thought. hundreds of thousands of americans lose their
unemployment and health benefits. thousands of federal workers are left without pay. but mr. bunning isn't taking any questions. >> excuse me. this is a senator only elevator. >> devastation in chile. the death toll from saturday's quake passes 700. looters take to the streets. as aid slowly trickles in. the race to find survivors continues. all of the news and commentary now on "countdown." good evening from los angeles. cobra, the health insurance benefits americans are allowed to keep even after they have lost a job passed by budget reconciliation. the program got its strange name, in fact, from the first letters of the title of the bill it was contained in. the consolidated omnibus budget
reconciliation act of 1986. the children's health insurance program known as s-chip without which more than 7 million children would not be covered passed in a budget reconciliation bill. cancer screenings, hospice benefits, protections for patients in nursing homes all paid for by medicare all passed by budget reconciliation. an npr analysis has concluded that over the past three decades almost every major health financing measure achieved by congress was passed by budget reconciliation. democrats have all but concluded that the gop has left them no choice but to use reconciliation to achieve final passage of the health care reform bill modeled on the ideas president obama presented at last week's summit at blair house. over the weekend, speaker pelosi said that she and her colleagues have an obligation to pass final health care reform legislation,
an obligation greater than their own desire to be re-elected. >> to encourage to pass social security, the courage to pass medicare and many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill, but the american people need it. why are we here? we're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in congress. we're here to do the job for the american people, to get them results that gives them not only health security but economic security because the health issue is an economic issue for america's families. >> in the senate democrat kent conrad complained in an interview this afternoon that his comment over the weekend that reconciliation cannot be used to pass comprehensive health care reform was widely misinterpreted by those who took it to mean that reconciliation is a nonstarter. senator conrad today explained that he was merely saying that reconciliation could only be
used to pass some parts of the legislation, which is exactly the approach house and senate leadership is now considering. at the white house, press secretary robert gibbs would not comment directly on the possibility of using reconciliation to finish health care reform. >> the president believes that an up or down vote is necessary. i think the republicans could decide not to filibuster and that would be one way. >> first of all, the bill that passed -- the basic health care bill has passed the senate. it passed with 60 votes. so it didn't -- that legislation passed the senate with a super majority, not just with a majority of votes. again, we'll have time to discuss this later in the week when the president makes an announcement on moving forward. >> and then there are the republicans.
now trying to claim that reconciliation would be the end of democracy as we know it. >> it's for the purpose of taxing and spending and reducing deficits, but the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the senate in this way. there are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss. it would turn the senate -- it would really be the end of the united states senate as a protector of minority rights, as a place where you have to get consensus instead of just a partisan majority. >> meanwhile, more than half of the democrats in the senate now back the effort to include the public option in a reconciliation bill. majority whip dick durbin, the latest to go on record, along with senators patty murray and jeff binganham bring the total number of democrats or independents who have signed th letter to majority leader reid or support the idea in principle to 30. lots to talk about tonight with
congresswoman debbie wassermann schultz, democrat of florida. congresswoman, minority leader boehner's office has put out a statement tonight in which he calls reconciliation, quote, a procedural trick that democrats are trying to jam through the congress. we have yet to hear directly from the president on reconciliation. what are you hoping to hear from the president on wednesday on the way forward? >> well, it's interesting leader boehner would say that. that must make him a magician because he was fully immersed and involved in all of the reconciliation efforts of the republican leadership over the last number of years, including the bush tax cuts, which are, you know, even larger than -- in terms of costs than health care reform proposal. the bottom line here is that we just need to pass health care reform with a simple majority up or down vote. as you said, lawrence, the senate has already passed a health care reform bill,
comprehensive health care reform, with 60 votes, a super majority. reconciliation, which is, you know, washington speak for simple majority, would just clear up the differences between the house and senate bills and make sure that we can send this bill to the president's desk and not allow the republicans to continue to be obstructionist which is what they're interested the most in doing. >> do you think that wavering democrats in the house need to hear the word "reconciliation" from the president? do they need specific leadership from the president validating going forward in a reconciliation bill? >> i think the president needs to remain fully immersed in this. i think he needs to continue to quarterback the -- bringing the ball across the goal line here so to speak. that's going to be a critical component to making sure that we can get this done. >> what is happening in the house as you watch the public
option gain favor in the senate as part of a possible reconciliation bill? is that giving more possible momentum for the house to insist on a public option being in the bill? >> well, of course, we passed a health care reform bill out of the house with the public option in it. the majority of our caucus continues to support that. but i think very likely we will pass health care reform without a -- we are more likely to pass health care reform without a public option because we've got the senate bill as the template and the reconciliation provisions need to be directly related to budget measures, so i'm not sure that we can do a public option under the simple majority rules of reconciliation. >> now, the leadership has been pretty frank. in fact, they've been more open about this than i've ever seen them, admitting they don't feel they have the votes as of now in the house. what do they need to get those votes? do they need time? are there persuasive devices that they have yet to use that
they can use? >> well, i think once we start counting, we will reach the now 216 votes that we need to send this bill to the president. with the resignation of congressman nathan deal, the republican from georgia today, we now have -- we need a majority which includes 216 of the members of the body currently, so i think we're going to be working hard to figure out what members' remaining concerns are. we also as the speaker has stressed need to put together the final legislative package and shop that to members, make sure they understand what's in it, find out what their concerns are, and as the -- and begin to whip this legislation, i'm confident as the speaker is that we'll get there. >> one thing house members have trouble being confident about is what the senate is going to do. what do you need to see from the senate before the house can act? >> well, we do need to make sure
that they are going to pass the -- they're going to give us a simple majority vote on the remaining measures we need to work out on the differences between the house bill and the senate bill. obviously it's very important. we have put our votes up on the board for health care reform. we have consistently been there and underscored the needs to make sure that we can bring costs down for the american people, provide some security and stability to those who have health insurance, and with the $100 billion deficit reduction measure in this bill we're going to be able to get there. >> congresswoman debbie wassermann schultz of florida, thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. >> for more on what happens next let's turn to ezra klein of "the washington post" and "newsweek." ezra, today on your blog you were advocating the use of the term "micro reconciliation." we're getting down to the fine points here. what is micro reconciliation? >> the term was suggested by the
blogger nicholas budreau so credit where it is due. the idea is to make a distinction between two types of things you do. reconciliation is limited to directly budget related things and is a very tough thing to pass a big, multipart bill through reconciliation. what we're doing here isn't passing the whole bill through reconciliation. it is taking two bills, the house and senate bills, and creating or passing it by 11 pages right now anyway of changes that would bring them into alignment, literally reconciling the two bills together so nick suggested it be termed micro reconciliation to distinguish it from passing the entire legislative effort through reconciliation, which has been confusing a lot of people out there, as you know. >> senator conrad went into detail yesterday about reconciliation on television and it caused quite a stir. i got a call at what was 1:00 in the morning washington time from a senator who wanted to know
what conrad said and was it true about reconciliation not being usable for health care. i think he clarified it. it was very clear to me what he meant which is what you're talking about here, which is he didn't believe you could do the giant bill, what's already passed the senate, for example, in reconciliation, but you can modify it in small ways which is all they'd have to do in a reconciliation bill following it. what they're now calling the reconciliation side car. >> right. >> but it really did create quite a stir in washington today. what did conrad mean? and this is what is getting more focus on it, what i think is this smart term now, micro reconciliation, isn't it? >> i think that's right. and, you know, one thing with conrad's comments, you knew what it meant. i knew what it meant fwu confused a lot of folks in the press. one thing that was important about the 11-page document barack obama released of his changes was it left out a lot of things that wouldn't fit in reconciliation. so what conrad is worried about if you did the whole bill
through it, it is called the byrd rule, which says you can only do things directly related to the budget. so insurance regulations are private regulations, and they do affect the budget in spending changes. but it isn't directly about the budget so they go out. what you don't see in the president's bill is anything like that. there is no abortion regulations. i don't think national exchanges -- national exchanges aren't in there. excuse me. there aren't things in there that even though they might be good policy or politically necessary would not survive reconciliation. what we have here is a very limited reconciliation side car that has very little to do with the whole bill but just brings it to -- into alignment in the ways reconciliation is built to best accommodate. again, hence, micro reconciliation. we're using the process for its original purpose of reconciling two different bills. rather than the broader purpose it has come to mean. tax cuts through it and welfare reform and everything else under the sun. >> so everything left out of the reconciliation bill will actually be in terms of law . it will be what's in the senate
bill if all of this passes. the notion is that the house will pass the senate bill as written first, and that will become the law of the land, and then the reconciliation package will amend that slightly in different ways. so that means, for example, that the senate language on abortion is what will be in law. can the house live with that and can they possibly round up enough votes given that they're going to have to live with the senate language on abortion? >> that's what nancy pelosi is trying to figure out right now. my sense from talking to people is you're seeing a lot more optimism recently. one thing pelosi is not known for is losing votes. my understanding is she hasn't done it yet. you're right. you have the big problem here is the stupak 14. they came on for this very restrictive abortion language that got added in at the last minute in the house bill. nelson lost the vote when he tried to add it into the senate bill so the language in the senate bill is quite restrictive. it isn't as restrictive so you may have lost the stupak 14 and the question is how do you get these folks back? the senate bill is somewhat more fiscally conservative than the house bill so maybe you get a couple like that and others need very individual methods of persuasion. it is a lift because again,
reconciliation you can do some things through it and not others, and that does upset some of the delicate compromises we saw in the earlier bills. but that was always going to be how it was. bringing these bills together was always going to be a tough project. >> ezra, i think you'll be continuing your tutorial here on "countdown." the national tutorial on reconciliation has about another month to go in it i think. ezra, thank you very much for joining us tonight. ezra klein of "the washington post" and "newsweek" magazine. >> thank you. coming up, jim bunning's wild pitch. the republican senator's road block of unemployment benefits is having much wider ripple effects. and today he responds with the senatorial equivalent of, get off my lawn. and in chile, the desperate search for survivors in the rubble of saturday's earthquake. we'll get the very latest from the devastated region. frankly and boldly. this great nation will endure
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senator bunning didn't want to extend unemployment benefits. did he realize his actions would also furlough thousands of workers and trigger cuts in medicare? the ramifications for the party of no, next. and later, keith returns with an update on his father and reaction to his special comment last week. and we've made a tremendous amount of progress. you know, safety and reliability is top priority. i mean i got a family, too. i got a mother, a grandmoth, kids, nd we all drive in tse cs. i am 100% confident in the product. male announcer ] we're grateful to technicians like ronny who are helpings provide you with fe and reliae vehicles. for mo information, please visit toyota.com. i thought i was invincible. i'm on an aspiriregimen now because i never want to feel that helplessness again. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. ta to your doctor, and take care of what you have to take care of.
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have now officially expired and 2,000 people are now out of work. today 2,000 federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay. work was scheduled to stop at multiple construction sites around the nation. several transportation safety programs were also halted, including drunk driving programs, all thanks to senator bunning sticking his thumb in the works, an act that can be effective for only a few days. unemployment benefits for 400,000 people affected, also a 21% cut in medicare fees paid to doctors has been triggered and though eventual passage of a bill will correct these lapses, it will not be without additional, unnecessary cost to the federal government. but bunning's behavior has surprised no one in the senate. when running for re-election six years ago, bunning said that his
democratic opponent looked like one of saddam hussein's sons. bunning's behavior was so strange during the campaign that republicans begged him not to run again this year. in 2006, "time" magazine called him one of america's five worst senators. last year bunning predicted that supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg would be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months. in the senate bunning is regarded as a very, very strange man with a nasty temper. earlier today when jonathan karl of abc news tried to get an explanation of bunning's most recent act of weirdness he got this. >> we just wanted to ask you -- >> excuse me. this is a senator only elevator. >> can i come on the elevator? >> no you may not. >> can you tell us why you're blocking this vote? >> i already did explain it. >> well, what is the issue? are you concerned about the -- >> excuse me.
i've got to go to the floor. >> can you explain to us why you're holding this up. >> excuse me! >> you concerned about those who are going to lose their benefits? >> and he says that before the cameras were rolling, bunning shot him the middle finger. later on, the senate floor today, bunning defiantly retreated his rights. >> anybody, 100 of us, can object to anything that is brought to the floor of the u.s. senate. whether it be a nominee, whether it be a judge, whether it be somebody that is pointed to the treasury -- anybody can object. >> let's bring in the washington editor of "the nation" chris hayes. chris, senator bunning is one of the stranger men in the body. >> sure is. >> to call him a contrarian would be the kindest thing you could call him. but is this a new high or a new low for him i guess depending how you look at it?
>> well, i think it is a new low. there are real, genuine human consequences to what he's done. i mean, a lot of it is contingent on whether everybody can get together and pass something in the next two days that's retroactively operable which means cobra won't lapse for people and they'll get unemployment checks but there are hundreds of thousands of people and a projected 1.2 million people not getting unemployment if they don't get this done by the end of the week. bunning is complaining he had to miss a basketball game. it just has this sort of like, you know, rome right at the fall kind of feel to it that he's fiddling while people in the country are suffering from tremendous misery. >> and just in case republicans thought this was going to be perceived as one weird guy on the floor, it is having some serious spillover effects to other republicans. for example, the huffington post right now is reporting senator jon kyl of arizona today out on the floor while discussing this situation, because it involves unemployment benefits, out on the floor he said that some people are enjoying in effect
their unemployment because people are being paid even though they're not working. those are kyl's words. kyl said that unemployment insurance doesn't create new jobs. in fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work. >> yes. >> chris, this is amazing stuff coming as we face the worst unemployment rates we've seen since the depression for the republicans to be pumping this out is very harmful to them as a group, isn't it? >> yeah. i really hope that america gets the message here. bunning may be a bizarre character. but he's doing nothing less than channelling the m.o. of the senate republican caucus which is to obstruct, which is to deny, you know, the american people the most basic kind of services they expect from their government and the message from john kyl who isn't this sort of bizarre contrarian figure is to americans that are unemployed, everyone should understand this, the 10 million people out there, if you're unemployed, get off your fat [ bleep ] and find a job. that's what the republican caucus message is.
and they don't care whether you applied a million times, if you've been unemployed for nine months, if you tried everything you could to get a job. that is what jon kyl thinks about people who are unemployed and americans should really understand who's in their corner in this sort of thing. >> before we leave the senate today, chris, i want to talk about democrats and primary challenges. we have arkansas democratic incumbent getting a primary challenge and in new york a new democratic incumbent scaring off yet another primary challenge. harold ford that the hour has announced he will not challenge the democrat in new york. what are the politics of the way those two incumbent senators have played this situation, what does it tell incumbent democrats about how to handle challenges in primaries? >> i think the primary challenge in arkansas, which has been the result of a lot of very excellent grass roots organizing, accountability now, move on is doing fund raising, a lot of the net roots, is really smart. the fact is blanche lincoln is
essentially a dead woman walking at this point. her re-elect numbers look terrible. her approval ratings are very low. at this point removing her from the ticket is probably a net benefit to democrats there. she's also just not represented the will of the people of arkansas on things like the public option. in the case of harold ford it was one of the most laughably inept candidate rollouts in recent memory and i think finally at some point he got the message this was not going anywhere. >> thanks, chris hayes of "the nation." coming up, the devastation in chile. ann curry travels to ground zero to the massive earthquake and shows us the devastation from the tsunami along the coast. and later, keith will return for reaction to his special comment last week about health care reform. he'll also have an update on his dad's condition. good job, keep going ! you took my eggs ! it's an "egg management fee." what does that even mean ? egg management fee.
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still ahead on "countdown" as the death toll rises in chile the desperate search for survivors continues. ann curry shows us the devastated communities along the coast that were hit by the massive earthquake only to then be hit by the tsunami. and later, keith returns with a post script to his special comment last week. (announcer) we're in the energy business.
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aren't absorbed properly unless taken with food. he recommended citracal. it's different -- it's calcium citrate, so it can be absorbed with or without food. citracal. first haiti, now chile. another major earthquake strikes another nation and the death toll this time has risen to more than 700 people. some coastal towns in chile have been nearly obliterated and the
extent of the destruction is becoming more painfully evident with each passing day. for the latest on emergency relief efforts in chile, our correspondent tonight is nbc news ann curry. >> i see a bridge down over there. flying into the destruction zone for the first time today, evidence of the power of one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. >> reporter: from the air you can begin to see the extent of the destruction. over hundreds of miles, town after town, flattened by mother nature. 500,000 homes damaged or destroyed. major bridges down. some coastal towns hit with both the quake and tsunamis washed away. 2 million people affected. rescuers are struggling against exhaustion to find people buried alive, especially here in hard-hit concepcion, chile's second largest city. even closer to the epicenter, today chaos. more than two days after the quake, fires are still burning in concepcion.
this building burning out of control. police and the military out in force making numerous arrests. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> reporter: trying to contain a rising fury, especially from mothers upset about food rationing, saying their children aren't getting enough. to survive, some people admit to taking supplies. this man is saying, i need food. this is what is going to help me. each person thinks what they think and we do what we have to do. add to that the trauma. these young girls weep not knowing if their father is alive. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> reporter: one saying, please come get me. we're okay. come get us, daddy. rosa sanchez tells us her granddaughter, claudia, is missing. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> reporter: she is 12 years old, rosa says. we don't know anything. we don't know if she is alive or dead. she can't contain a grief that mirrors a nation's. there have been 128 after shocks
of magnitude 5 or greater since the earthquake, 14 of them just today. it is important to note that the president of chile has been accepting international aid that field hospitals and rescue workers are especially welcome. i'm ann curry reporting from santiago, chile. now back to you, lawrence. >> ann curry in santiago, thank you. the quake was so powerful it actually moved the earth off its axis by three inches. coming up, we'll talk to a seismologist about whether even bigger earthquakes are coming. and later, keith will return with a post script to his last special comment and important information on what he learned about his own life panel discussions about his father. when rachel joins you at the top of the hour, with democrats vowing to get health care reform passed, the opponents of reform are coming out of the woodwork again.
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[ male announcer ] have a heart to heart with your doctor about your cholesterol. and about lipitor. coming up, the science of earthquakes. the quake was massive, but there were no warning signs. will we ever get to the point where we can forecast the tremors? also ahead, keith will be back in a few minutes with reaction to his special comment last week and an update on the condition of his father. details ahead. ♪ three decadent flavors. 60 calories. it's me o'clock. time for jell-o.
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we're back to talk about the 8.8 earthquake in chile this past weekend and what appears to be a recent flareup in seismic activity elsewhere around the globe. to help us nonscientists process what's going on here let's bring in lucy jones, a seismologist with the united states geological survey. right now we're looking at a usgs time lapse animation plotting earthquakes around the globe. there certainly seems to be a spike in seismic activity in the last week. seven weeks ago haiti was hit hard. lucy, is there a pattern here or is this purely random activity? >> the only pattern you're seeing is each earthquake tends to trigger aftershocks so there's going to be a lot of earthquakes right now as aftershocks to the chilean earthquake. over all we aren't seeing a significant clustering of earthquakes.
it's always random and that's what we're seeing. >> and so always random means you guys aren't getting any closer to forecasting these things? >> unfortunately, no. and a fundamental issue is that as far as we can tell, little earthquakes and big earthquakes start in the same way, so if you want to have something happen before the earthquake that you can see, it's unfortunately happening before all the earthquakes and we record several magnitude 5s every day somewhere in the world. >> now, the death toll in chile is about 733, still counting. it is significantly lower obviously than the 200,000 plus in haiti. what is the difference here in the way these things hit? is it population density? is it building codes? was chile somehow more prepared? and the 8.8 in chile was higher than what hit haiti, wasn't it? >> oh, the chilean earthquake was much larger than the haitian earthquake. it released about 500 times more energy.
but the most important difference is that chile was better prepared with better building codes. earthquakes don't kill people -- buildings do. there was much more shaking, much more vibration through chile but their buildings were better able to with stand it. >> and the tsunami that was caused by this earthquake, it did cause pretty severe damage in some locations, but it wasn't anything like the tsunami that we saw in indonesia in 2004. what determines the energy of that tsunami? >> well, even though 8.8 seems huge, it's definitely smaller than the 9.2 that created the sumatran tsunami. and the tsunamis are directly created by the change in the shape of the sea floor during the earthquake. as a fault moves upward and displaces that water, the fault that moved in this chilean earthquake is about 300 miles long whereas the one in the
sumatran earthquake was about a thousand miles long so much more water was displaced and therefore went out. we also seem to have been lucky to some extent. you can see that as it travels out across the ocean you get sort of little, you know, focusing areas that are stronger than some others and none of those seem to have really come in at the more distant sites. but, of course, nobody in chile would consider themselves lucky. it was a very damaging tsunami there. >> now, watching that wave move across that screen, i now finally understand why i was required to have tsunami insurance on my house in santa monica right here in los angeles county even though it's back from the beach i don't know, about a quarter of a mile or so, and up a hill a little bit. when i start to see that wave move across the screen, there's much more reality to the possibilities of what we could get. we already know about our earthquake possibilities here in california, but the tsunami
possibility looks real, too, doesn't it? >> it is. and there's been a lot of damage over the years in california from tsunamis, especially in our ports, the ports of los angeles and long beach suffered significant damage in both 1960 and 1964. so it's a real risk. it's not as common as our earthquakes but it's big. >> and what we think of as our big earthquakes, 1989 here up in northern california, san francisco, 1994 was it -- yeah, the northridge earthquake in the los angeles area. they both had about 60 fatalities. is our ability to handle earthquakes here in california based on our building codes and the way our population is more spread out and not so dense? >> well, we do have good building codes and they make a lot of difference. but when we get to our really largest earthquakes, we're going to be seeing a lot of the same things that are going on in chile right now. when you have such a big event, you stretch your whole system
and they're going to be dealing with loss of utilities and long-term economic impacts and we'll face the same thing when it's time for us to have our big earthquake. >> thanks for joining us, lucy jones of the u.s. geological survey. coming up keith will join us with an update on his dad and how it includes a very important consideration when having end of life discussions with your doctors and family. toyota has done a lot ofresearch a a lot of work,
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also some of the reactions to that. first of all, to update you on my father's health. last thursday at noon in the hospital not far from here my sister and my nephew and myself gathered with my father's surgeon nurse to discuss a timetable of sorts, to discuss when to in effect start changing his care from restorative to palliative. what we laid out is a little bit too personal for me to go into in depth but i will tell you this much. we left ourselves an out. his white blood cell count, which is, if you're at all familiar with medicine, was at a horrifically high level of 54,000 needed to drop and drop quickly or there would be little hope. and so, having followed his instructions, including those instructions about when to apply my best judgment instead of his own and with him still largely unawake if not exactly unconscience, we laid out this rather grim bit of business.
we didn't like it but we knew we were working from his instructions, our little life panel, along with the consultation of doctors and this doctor's nurse, was invaluable to us. and so we laid out all of the plans with that one caveat, if, say, each time there was a new white blood cell count reading it was 10,000 less we'd revisit and revisit in a hurry. by 6:00 that night, it was 10,000 less. my father has not regained wakefulness but he is more responsive now and here these many days later, in fact, his white blood cell count is about 2/3 less than what it was, and so this brings the issue of flexibility to your end of life discussions, which, again, i urge you, immediately, tonight if you can, no matter which part of the equation you are in or if there is no equation yet, to have these conversations with your loved ones now because you will know what they want and at least you will know you've had the conversation and whatever you are guesstimating from
you've already talked to them about the essence of it. and so we continue to help him try to regain his health. if he does not succeed in doing that, we can again turn to palliative care later on, but clearly, that flexibility to be able to say, no, it's nearing the end, wait a minute, maybe it's not nearing the end, is the essence of what is permissible and what is to be encouraged in our society. to have that conversation in advance and act accordingly. and in the health care reforms that have been proposed the only difference in this process would be that the doctor who helps you with these conversations can bill the insurance company for them. so you're not guessing on your own. you're guessing as much as he is and with him present. that is the entirety of what has been fabricated into by unbelievably incompetent and unknowing people on the far
right into the quote/unquote death panel. there is no death panel. and this brings me to some of the reactions from the right to this topic, death panel versus life panel. we start with rush limbaugh. mr. limbaugh went on the air and said, trust me. there is a death panel. that's all he said. he offered no proof. he offered no evidence. he didn't even quote anybody. i don't know about you, but if rush limbaugh asks me to trust him, i immediately check to see if my wallet is still in my back pocket. there is no death panel. this brings me to the reaction of glenn beck. mr. beck, while saying what i believed were sincere good wishes to both me and my father, then immediately turned around and said i didn't understand about the death panels, that what sarah palin was talking about was not these end of life discussions, not what we have called life panels, but, in fact, something else. he is, of course, entirely wrong. he has no earthly clue what he's talking about. he presented no evidence. the only evidence he has ever
presented as to the supposed existence of these so-called death panels is to quote sarah palin. and sarah palin's spokesman admitted that what she was talking about was a proposal made by congressman blumenauer of oregon to establish the right for you to get the insurance company involved in paying for the physician who helps you with your life panel discussion. if there was any doubt about this, i turn to a letter i received after the comment was raised last wednesday from congressman blumenauer who said he only wished he had the presence of mind to call them life panels. we can call them life panels now. the discussion about end of life care is all that there is in health care reform. the right for you to bill a doctor to help you through this most trying and necessary and salvation-like time, the thing that will guide you through a situation if you are in that, that i am in, and my family is in with my father right now.
you get to get it reimbursed from the insurance company. that's it. there is no death panel. i wish there was no glenn beck to make up stories about death panels. we're going to have to live with mr. beck. but it does raise the question of why mr. beck's efforts are being supported by an honorable organization called the special operations warrior foundation, which has somehow gotten mixed up with these events he has planned for next august in washington. mr. beck is making it up. pulling it out of some oriface or another for whatever purpose we do not know and yet this fine and honorable organization is somehow associated with him and perhaps they should reconsider that. lastly, in terms of reaction to last week's special comment and the concept of the life panel, i am indebted to the tea party of dallas, texas, which as you may know invited me to attend its gathering on saturday to prove that it was not an all white nor nearly all white organization. when i explained i was not traveling to attend to my father
in his time of need they said nothing about that. on saturday when they got up and made their little speeches and invoked my name and my nonpresence there, they mentioned only that i was not there and did not give a reason for my absence. i am indebted to them because they have proved my point about the nature of this organization. i don't know to what degree racism really applies to the whole tea party movement nor the dallas one in particular, but it is clear to me that people who would leave out that vital bit of information about why i would not attend and mock me for not attending are not really people anymore, are they? lastly, i mentioned last week, and i'm going to mention it again, that in the last few weeks even though nigh father has not been fully conscious i have been reading to him and talking to him. several dear friends of mine who have had similar experiences of unconsciousness if not coma have said that they could remember clearly hearing things said to them while they could not communicate in return. and so that's another little piece of advice. i've been reading him mostly james thurber short stories and
i came across one that seems relevant to our political time. if you'll permit me to close with it and remove my glasses in order to do so. it is from his fables for modern times and this one is called "the peaceable mongoose." forgive me for doing it this way but there is no better way. the peaceable mongoose. by james thurber. in cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn't want to fight cobras or anything else. the word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn't want to fight cobras. it was his own business if he didn't want to fight anything else but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras. why asked the peace-like mongoose and the word went around that the strange mongoose was not only pro cobra and antimongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongoosism. he is crazy cried the young mongoose's father.
he is sick, said his mother. he is a coward, shouted his brothers. he is a mongoose-sexual whispered his sisters. strangers who had never laid eyes on the peace-like mongoose remembered that they had seen him crawling on his stomach or trying on cobra hoods or plotting the violent overthrow of mongoose-ia. i'm trying to use reason and intelligence said the strange new mongoose. reason is 6/7 of treason, said one of his neighbors. intelligence is what the enemy uses, said another. finally, the rumor spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting just like a cobra and he was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment. moral? ashes to ashes and clay to clay, if the enemy doesn't get you,
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