What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Credit where it's due--and blame where it's due

Those readers who follow me around the Internet and read every word that falls from my keyboard may have picked up that I have been concerned of late years about the direction in which the Republican Party is going, particularly on life issues. Nor was I a committed apologist for the Bush administration. I had my worries from the first moment a Bush appointee uttered the phrase "settled law of the land" concerning Roe v. Wade.

Be that as it may, I'm also a great believer in giving credit where it's due and, even more importantly, in not allowing ourselves to become so embittered by the failure of the ostensibly conservative party to be fully committed on our issues that we just snarl and grouse every time the name of some Republican President comes up. Ah, Bush (sneer), etc. Nor should we get into the habit of making sloppy, wide-ranging moral equivalency claims. I'm afraid some of our paleo brethren are rather inclined to these faults, and indeed bitterness and a feeling of having been betrayed can breed them.

Now comes just one interesting bit of news, apropos of the subject of administration change, that reminds us of something: When the Obama administration came in, it came with a whole slew of bureaucrats and functionaries in every area of the government which replaced those of the Bush administration, and this is having all sorts of effects, many of which we never even hear about, in areas that should concern conservatives and pro-lifers.

This article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the New Order in the VA hospitals. Apparently for a little while during the Bush admin. a book was being used for end-of-life counseling in the VA hospitals which is, er, questionable as far as its objectivity on matters of refusing vs. requesting care. Let's just say that the only resource group on advance directives mentioned in the book called (ahem) Your Life, Your Choices is the Hemlock Society, and perhaps we shall have said it all. For more details, I refer you to the article. Somebody higher up in the Bush administration got the word on Your Life, Your Choices and mercifully pulled the plug on it.

Well, there's a new gang in town, and it's baaaack.

And to make things even worse, a new order in place for VA hospitals as of July, 2009, tells all primary care physicians to raise end-of-life issues with all veterans and refer them to this book. Jolly. As Jim Towey, author of the WSJ article, puts it, "One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran's health-care system that seems intent on his surrender."

This is disgraceful, and it is a salutary reminder that many lives can turn on a change of administration in ways we might not even have thought of. Furthermore, if anyone is still intent on telling us that our concerns about the end-of-life provisions originally in the House version of Obamacare were misguided, I urge him to try, even a little, to connect the dots. Towey puts it well:

If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices." He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.

HT Wesley J. Smith at Secondhand Smoke

Comments (20)

Might we expect to see appointments to the administration from the Hemlock Society? If shame is absent possibility is unlimited.

There was something a while back from The O about veterans picking up some part of the cost of their medical & rehabilitation expenses. I wonder if all this comes under the heading of "opposing the war but supporting the troops"?

The whole thing is beyond sinister, it is that and macabre. It is redolent of the charnel house, reminiscent of regimes for whom death was a policy, and does it not seem likewise for the increasingly repulsive band of frustrated undertakers in what is called the Administration?

"If you don't lose your life, limb or mind in one of the endless wars we wage, a grateful nation will thank you for your service by killing you with a morphine drip later on."

This information should be required posting at every military recruitment center under; "The Many Benefits of Signing Up"

As a military veteran, wife of a military veteran, daughter of a veteran of a foriegn war, daughter-in-law of a disabled vet of a foreign war, sister-in-law of an active duty USAF member and Active Reserve USArmy member, cousin of a Purple Heart recipient...I resent the living daylights out of this. It is offensive in the extreme. Kevin is correct; this should be required information for every recruiting station. It is getting to the point that young people are going to wonder if this once great nation is really worth the risk. Even I am beginning to wonder, when we elect the sorts of people who are 'representing' us. God have mercy.

Pamela, an active high-ranking officer has to publicly denounce this savage "you're just cannon fodder to us" protocol and resign his command if necessary. It wouldn't hurt if chaplains and veterans groups starting to weigh in as well.

"It wouldn't hurt if chaplains ... start[ed] to weigh in as well."

I'm sure chaplains would find particularly outrageous the suggestion that you "ask your religious advisor to help you think through the questions about quality of life, medical interventions, and death and dying."

And suggesting that someone direct that their "pastor, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual advisor [be] consulted regarding any difficult health care decision that must be made on [their] behalf" is, frankgly, shocking.

I don't mean to pick on you in particular, Kevin, but it's obvious that nobody else has bothered to read the publication in question. It's not like it's difficult to find. Hint: Google.

James trade in the condescension for better comprehension, I'm asking chaplains and veterans groups to join senior officers in speaking out against this program.

Kevin, the pamphlet is very easy to access through Google. Just type in the title.

If you want creepy and outrageous, just go to the section that (mis)describes what happens when a feeding tube is removed. Be sure to read between the lines; if you read it only once, you might not notice the extremely indirect acknowledgement that there are apparently 1-3 weeks of consciousness during starvation and dehydration before the patient "falls into a deep sleep."

The whole document is very biased toward death -- nice thing for a wounded serviceman who may already be struggling with depression.

Did anybody here even consider the likely possibility that "James" is actually our beloved "Al" in disguise?

There are too many coincidences not to think this is so; chief among them being Al's characteristic bolding of the addressee and, not to mention, Al's Pro-death rhetoric as well as the "pastor, priest, rabbi" bit which he employed in earlier threads several weeks ago.

We do far too little for returning serviceman as it is, Robin, and VA hospitals are, as a rule, under-funded and depressing, so there is something especially diabolical about targeting veterans with a hellish termination progran like this. By the end of the week, there better be as much outrage about this as there is over the death panels aimed at civilians.

Your Life, Your Choices grew out of the same toxic soil of stoical indifference and unnerving incompetence that produces events like these;

Michael Maynard is one among thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of veterans suffering from what growing anecdotal and scientific evidence indicates is chronic illness due to inhaling poisonous emissions from the massive burn pits at Army installations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense is having a hard time managing this story, which echoes the infamous Vietnam-era Agent Orange scandal and Gulf War Syndrome.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9A9D8SG0&show_article=1

Robin, I think you and Kevin are on the same side, here. What James's thing is, I haven't yet figured out--whether he's implying that the pamphlet isn't a "push poll" for death (as the article author says), or what.

I found a pdf of the original 1997 booklet online. It was supposed to have been "revised" but the revised document is not on the VA web site -- there's a link but all you get is "page not found." I have no idea what was changed but the 1997 one is pretty bad.

Is it a "push poll"?? You bet. There are several different worksheets to figure out when your life will be "not worth living" -- something that in itself implies that there IS a time when life is not worth living, all you have to do is figure out when that is "for you." An explanation of withdrawing vs. withdrawing treatment says there is "no ethical or legal" difference between the two, although there may be RELIGIOUS differences between the two. The whole thing is written in a helpful and friendly manner that I find chilling.

And suggesting that someone direct that their "pastor, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual advisor [be] consulted regarding any difficult health care decision that must be made on [their] behalf" is, frankgly, shocking.

Why would that be shocking? Wouldn't these decisions involve serious moral considerations? So wouldn't you want your spiritual/moral advisor involved? I would certainly prefer that to some unknown hospital or government underling who doesn't know you from Adam. I guess I am missing something.

I originally thought James was appalled at the prospect of clergy being co-opted by an assisted suicide regime in order to lend this macabre project legitimacy. I hope that is still the case.

Yes, Lydia, I was on Kevin's (and your) side on this one. My "nice" was sarcastic. I appreciate your having posted on this topic. I was just trying to let Kevin know where to read the actual pamphlet if he was interested.

Those readers who follow me around the Internet and read every word that falls from my keyboard

Are there such people?

The VA removed its version of the YLYC doc from its website sometime this morning. I could only read it by googling "http://www1.va.gov/pugetsound/docs/ylyc.pdf" and then clicking the "Read as HTML" option to see the cache.

Towey writes in the WSJ: "I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates."

I am convinced that many pro-lifers and social conservatives, even the influential ones, do not realize how bureaucracy works and are uninterested in these very important low prestige positions and the committees who fill the vacancies.

The abortion rights crowd had a nice wish list (titled "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration") naming desired executive offices down to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. I don't see that kind of sophistication among our like-minded friends.

Matt--it was a self-deprecating joke. Sorry it was too heavy to be obvious.

Kevin Jones, you have a good point. Did the "good guys" not present President Bush with such a list when he was elected in 2000, or did he not go along with it? I do know that the USAID and other foreign aid bureaucracies _were_ significantly improved by the Bush presidency, because anti-trafficking activists and activists concerned about coerced abortion and sterilization abroad really noticed the difference. In particular, the Clinton presidency had put people in those positions who bought the whole liberal ball of wax on "fighting trafficking" by legalizing prostitution, which was the despair of the on-the-ground nationals who were really trying to fight trafficking. They felt like nobody was listening to them, and the Bush people came as a big relief. So to some extent, we do get replacements in there. But no doubt not enough.

Hey, I was following Lydia around the Internet, today, picking up every word that fell from her keyboard, but I cleverly hid myself in a virtual space between the keys so she wouldn;t see me. Actually, I got stuck there and only managed to free myself around dinnertime. I am now thirty pounds lighter and only 2 millimeters thick.

The Chicken

Robin, the transcript below from yesterday's "debate" between Towey and Tammy Duckworth the Ass't Secy of Veteran Affairs is nauseating enough as it exposes the mind-set informing this document and the stealth tactics used over the years to incorporate it as a tool for inducing despair in stroke victims, MS sufferers and those suffering emotional trauma.

Perhaps sensing his own political mortality, Arlen Spector has called for a Senate committee hearing into this scandal.


"I don't want to live if I can't take care of myself," and — and then when you look in the back of the book, Chris, who do they refer you to?

The 2007 edition said go to Compassion Choices. That's the Hemlock Society. The 1997 version referred you to an organization that was the American Euthanasia Society.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.