New Year's Day should be a time of fresh beginnings and forward motion. But for the family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, the holiday season has been suspended in a cloud of unfathomable pain and suffering: A routine tonsillectomy gone wrong. A beautiful child declared "brain dead." Lawyers, TV cameras, tears.
The McMaths are fighting for life. On Monday, they won a court order that prevents Children's Hospital of Oakland from pulling the plug on Jahi until Jan. 7. Her relatives have been attacked as "publicity hounds" for doing everything possible to raise awareness about the young girl's tragic case. They've been criticized as troublemakers for challenging powerful hospital officials. They've been labeled "selfish" and ignorant because they are praying for a miracle.
Why, many observers ask, don't they just "accept reality" and let go?
As the mother of a 13-year-old girl, I would have done everything Jahi's mom has done to this point. Everything. Here's reality: Children's Hospital faces serious malpractice questions about its care of Jahi. Hospital execs have a glaring conflict of interest in wielding power over her life support. According to relatives, medical officials callously referred to Jahi as "dead, dead, dead" and dismissed the child as a "body."
The McMath family refused to be rushed or pushed around. They demanded respect for their loved one. I say more power to them.
There are plenty of reasons to question the medical establishment's handling of catastrophic cases involving brain injury and "brain death." In 2008, doctors were dead certain that 21-year-old Zack Dunlop was legally deceased after a horrible ATV accident. Tests showed there was no blood flow to his brain. His hospital issued a death notice. Authorities prepared to harvest his organs. But family members were not convinced. A cousin who happened to be a nurse tested Zack's reflexes on his own one last time as the hospital swooped in. The "brain dead" "body" responded. Forty-eight days later, the supposedly impossible happened: "Brain dead" Zack Dunlop walked out of the hospital and lived to tell about his miraculous recovery on the Today Show.
The immense pressure Jahi's family faces to give up and give in reminded me of another child written off by medical and government officials: Haleigh Poutre.
She's the miracle child who was nearly beaten to death by her barbaric stepfather. Hooked to a ventilator in a comatose state, she was then nearly condemned to death by Massachusetts medical experts and the state's criminally negligent child welfare bureaucracy, which hastily declared her to be in a hopeless vegetative state and wanted to pull the plug on her life.
The "experts" were wrong. Haleigh breathed on her own; a caring team of therapists nursed her back to health. Soon, she was brushing her hair and feeding herself. She lived to testify against her abusive stepfather, now behind bars. Her survival is a stark warning against blind, yielding trust in Big Nanny and Big Medicine.
We don't know what God has planned for Jahi. But I do know this: America has become a throwaway culture where everything and everyone — from utensils to diapers to cameras to babies — is disposable. Elites sneer at the sanctity of life. The Terri Schiavo case brought out the worst, most dehumanizing impulses of American medical ethics debates. And from the attacks I've seen on the McMath family, little has changed.
Schiavo's brother, Bobby, knows exactly how it feels to battle the culture of death and medical expediency. His group, Terri's Network, and other pro-life organizations are trying to help with Jahi's transfer to a long-term care facility. In the meantime, Jahi's plight serves as a teachable moment for those with ears, eyes and hearts open. This is a gift. "Families and individuals must make themselves aware of what so-called 'brain death' is and what it is not," Schindler advises. "Additionally, families and individuals must educate themselves regarding their rights as patients, the advance documentation that must be completed prior to any medical procedure as well as how to ensure best any patient's rights."
Jahi's story should also prompt family discussions about living wills, durable powers of attorney, "do not resuscitate" orders, revocable trusts and advance directives. It's never too early to broach these uncomfortable matters of life and death.
I want to thank Naila Winkfield and the McMath family for not "letting go" so easily. Their plight is every parent's worst nightmare. Their fight reaches beyond ideology, race, and class. The united front of the family and the public testaments of their faith in God are gifts. The Instagram image of Naila clasping her daughter's hand at her hospital bedside — the hope, the desperation, the abiding love — is universal. At the start of 2014, the greatest gift of Jahi is her transcendent reminder that all life is precious. Let it not be taken for granted.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
When President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing in 1972, Chairman Mao Zedong — with his Marxist revolution, Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — had achieved an equality unrivaled anywhere. That is, until Pol Pot came along.
There seemed to be no private cars on Beijing's streets. In the stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. The Chinese all seemed dressed in the same blue Mao jackets.
Today there are billionaires and millionaires in China, booming cities, a huge growing middle class and, yes, hundreds of millions of peasants still living on a few dollars a day. Hence, there is far greater inequality in China today than in 1972.
Yet, is not the unequal China of today a far better place for the Chinese people than the Communist ant colony of Mao?
Lest we forget, it is freedom that produces inequality.
Even a partly free nation unleashes the natural and acquired abilities of peoples, and the more industrious and talented inevitably excel and rise and reap the greater rewards. "Inequality ... is rooted in the biological nature of man," said James Fenimore Cooper.
Yet for many people, from New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to President Barack Obama to Pope Francis, income inequality is a curse in need of a cure, as there is today said to be an intolerable measure of such inequality.
But let us first inspect the measuring rod. Though a family of four with $23,550 in cash income in 2013 qualified as living in poverty, this hardly tells the whole story. Consider the leveling effect of the graduated income tax, about which Karl Marx wrote glowingly in his "Communist Manifesto." The top 1 percent of U.S. earners pay nearly 40 percent of U.S. income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 50 percent pay more than 97 percent of income taxes. The poor pay nothing. Surely, trillions of dollars siphoned annually off the incomes of the most productive Americans — in federal, state and local income and payroll taxes — closes the gap somewhat.
Secondly, though 15 percent of U.S. families qualify as poor, measured by cash income, this does not take into account the vast assortment of benefits they receive. The poor have their children educated free in public schools, from Head Start to K-12 and then on to college with Pell Grants. Their medical needs are taken care of through Medicaid. They receive food stamps to feed the family. The kids can get two or three free meals a day at school. Housing, too, is paid for or subsidized. The poor also receive welfare checks and Earned Income Tax Credits for added cash.
In the late 1940s, our family had no freezer, no dishwasher, no clothes washer or dryer, no microwave, no air conditioning. We watched the Notre Dame-Army game on a black-and-white 8-inch DuMont.
Among American families in poverty today, one in four have a freezer. Nearly half have automatic dishwashers. Almost 60 percent have a home computer. About two in tjree poor families have a clothes washer and dryer. Eighty percent have cellphones.
Ninety-three percent of the poor have a microwave; 96 percent a color TV, and 97 percent a gas or electric stove. Not exactly les miserables.
Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation added up the cost in 2012 of the means-tested federal and state programs for America's poor and low-income families. Price tag: $927 billion. There are 79 federal programs, writes Rector, that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training and targeted education to poor and low-income Americans. "If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than sufficient to bring the income of every lower-income American to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, roughly $44,000 per year for a family of four."
Then there are the contributions of churches, charities and foundations. Where in history have the poor been treated better? Certainly not in the USA in the 1950s or during the Depression. Why, then, all this sudden talk about reducing the gap between rich and poor?
A good society will take care of its poor. But envy that others have more, and coveting the goods of the more successful, used to constitute two of the seven capital sins in the Baltimore Catechism.
At Howard University in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared, "We seek not just ... equality as a right ... but equality as a fact and equality as a result."
Yet the only way to make people who are unequal in talents equal in rewards is to use governmental power to dispossess some and favor others. Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming: "The sole condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality or to get men to believe you love it. Thus, the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced ... to a single principle."
Get people to believe you are seeking the utopian goal of equality of all and there is no limit to the power you can amass.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
Lend me your ears. I have come to praise President Obama and bury the myth that Republican presidents are better for the economy than Democratic presidents. Not only do Democrats produce superior economic results but they blow Republicans out of the water in the comparisons.
Let's turn the mic over to Bob Deitrick, a principal at Polaris Financial Partners in Westerville, Ohio. Deitrick crunched 80 years of numbers. Politically, 1929 to 2009 were exactly divided — 40 years under Republican presidents and 40 under Democrats.
He put his extraordinary findings in a book, "Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box."
Because President Obama was in office for only three years at the time of the writing, Deitrick and his co-author left him out. But Deitrick now has enough of an Obama track record to have recently declared in a Forbes interview, "By all measures, President Obama has outperformed every modern president."
His findings were so lopsided in favor of Democrats I had to ask him whether he is one. He said no. "I really was apolitical until 2000," start of the George W. Bush era. That's when he saw massive mismanagement of the economy at the expense of his middle- to upper-middle-class clients.
"The average retail investor got slammed, where hedge funds were allowed to take advantage of everyone else," he told me.
The best overall economic performance pre-Obama was that of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (whom Deitrick put together because of Kennedy's early death). No. 2 was Bill Clinton, with Franklin D. Roosevelt in third place.
The top six included two Republicans. Dwight Eisenhower ranked fourth, and Ronald Reagan sixth, edged out of fifth place by Harry Truman.
Were it not for Herbert Hoover, George W. would have ended up last.
Reagan was a "stimulus addict," in Deitrick's view. His economic growth came through massive spending on defense and deep tax cuts. The price was a tripling of the national debt.
Ordinary Americans did better under Clinton, who also left behind a budget surplus. Thanks to a growing economy and higher taxes on the rich, Obama has lowered the deficit to 4 percent of gross domestic product, down from over 10 percent at the end of the Bush years.
Here's an interesting calculation: Suppose that in 1929, you put $100,000 in a 401(k) fully invested in stocks. Under the 40 years of Republican presidents, you would have ended up with only $126,000. Under the Democrats, you would have amassed a retirement nest egg of $3.9 million! (All numbers are adjusted for inflation.)
If you added Obama, the Democrats' number would be much bigger.
Deitrick believes that presidents largely control the economy — through the bully pulpit and the power to appoint leaders, enact executive orders and issue vetoes. (Not everyone agrees they hold most economic cards.)
Deitrick is a disciple of Marriner Eccles, the rich Republican banker whom Roosevelt named Federal Reserve chairman. Eccles held that putting more money in middle-class hands is key to recovery and that trickle-down economics helps mainly those providing the trickle.
Speaking of income inequality, the gap between the top 1 percent and bottom 99 percent widened 20 percent in the 40 years Republicans ran the Oval Office. In the Democratic presidential years, it narrowed 16 percent.
Obama's greatest successes, Deitrick says, are the auto rescue plan and the Wall Street reforms, which revived faith among investors. The annual compound return on stocks has averaged between 25 and 30 percent (depending on the index) since the lows of March 2009.
Deitrick says he's perpetually shocked that Democrats don't trumpet their economic triumphs. You don't have to be a Democrat to wonder why.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
Last Updated on Monday, 30 December 2013 10:32
The passing of Executive Councilor Ray Burton left a deep void in leadership and constituent service. A special election for January 21st (Primary) and March 11th (General) will be held to fill his seat. I am the only candidate with the necessary state experience to lead our district and help our constituents navigate a difficult bureaucracy. As a State Senator in District 3, I was deeply committed to helping my constituents. As a Marine with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will not quit on issues like the Northern Pass which I am against.
You deserve a councilor who can hit the ground running. I'm proud of my record of constituent service which I learned from the master. I'm not just talking the talk. I have walked the walk working on issues with Ray.
I hope to meet you at one of our "Catch a Cup of Joe with Kenney" events. The first to post a photo on our "Kenney for Executive Council " Facebook page wins a free 1-pound bag of coffee. Politics can be fun, interesting and engaging. I think Ray would like the way we are running our campaign. It's people who matter. No one tells the people of District 1 how to vote. Votes are earned. It's totally out of touch with District 1 to run a big city, endorsement-based campaign. Our campaign is run out of the coffee houses of N.H. I ask for your endorsement. I want to hear your concerns.
Working with Councilor Burton on the Conway Scenic Vista project while acting as the Senate Transportation chairman, I secured the final piece of funding in the Capital Budget to complete the $2.6 million projects. During 14 years in the Legislature, I served on many committees including: Transportation, Health and Human Services, Executive, Departments and Administration, Commerce, Labor and Veterans Affairs. I was proud to establish the Purple Heart Trail in N.H., the Organ Donor Registry Law and more. I have worked with agency and department heads before I know how to navigate the state system for people.
I will be frugal and strong watchdog for the N.H. taxpayer! Judicial appointments must meet the constitutional principles of our state Constitution! District 1 must be represented on these boards.
The N.H. economy has been hit hard. I have already worked with local economic development councils, the BIA and regional planning commissions. As a state senator, I assisted in bringing a company called Loftware to the Pease Trade Authority, creating jobs.
N.H. business is burdened with over regulation. Anytime a state agency brings a rule change before the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) an e-mail should be sent to the business impacted. JLCAR rules can wipe out a business if someone is not watching.
I do not have another business; I will devote a 100 percent of my time to you. I'll be open to your ideas, and available to have a cup of Joe with you. You may watch a series of interesting constituent testimonials including a Laconia veteran at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6iwWZ4fPfw or goggle "YouTube Joe Kenney He saved my life" .
Helping people is why I am running. I hope to earn your support, respect, and vote. You may follow our "Cup of Joe with Kenney" events on Facebook — Joe Kenney for Executive Council. Contact me with any questions at www.kenneyfornh.com,
or at (603) 374-3333.
(Joe Kenney was in the legislature 14 years with terms as state representative, and state senator from District 3. He was the 2008 Republican nominee for governor. He has been a selectman in his home town of Wakefield. He is a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Marines and recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq.)
Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 09:05
The disastrous rollout of Obamacare, worse than anyone anticipated or warned, could have doomed the president's second term. It would require something very big to take your eyes off of that disaster.
What an idea. Shut down the government.
How clever can you get? The only thing worse than Obamacare is the crowd that would close down the government, leaving people all over the place in the lurch, in what they conceded from the outset was a hopeless act of protest that would in practice change nothing.
The tea party, of course, wants more people like that in Washington. And they may get them. In the convoluted rules of Washington, that would be better for the Democrats than the Republicans, except that it would make getting things done even more difficult, which is not really good for the president, who has to figure out what to do for the next three years — apart from those things that other second-term presidents have done, like leave the country a lot.
The president could drill down on partisan politics, make it his priority to raise money for Democratic candidates, attack the "do-nothing" Republican Congress — all of which he probably will do.
Here's an idea. Acknowledge mistakes. Try to fix things. The big moves for President Obama may be fixing the big moves he's already made.
The health care system is the obvious example. It is going to be a mess, but it will be a mess that is post-Obamacare. Millions of people are covered under Obamacare. You can't "get rid" of it; there is no "it" anymore, no switch that can be turned off.
The question is: How do we fix all of the things people are complaining about without bankrupting ourselves? Not to mention all of the other things we need to fix.
Like the NSA and intelligence gathering. If Obama were a Republican president, the disclosures relating to surveillance programs would be a daily nightmare.
As it is, many of the people you might expect to be screaming the loudest are on the inside or are friends with the people on the inside, not to mention supporters of the president. So exactly whom should they scream at?
Really, the question should be: When is the administration going to step up to the issue? As far as I know, Obama is the only former professor of constitutional law to become president. A frightened and confused country might turn to such a president in search of a little bit of wisdom as to how to balance overwhelming interests (Security! Terrorism! Liberty!) on both sides. Hello?
Are we still at war in Afghanistan? Any news on Guantanamo? Okay. Just had to ask.
Immigration reform? What if you try to do it just the opposite of the way you did health care? Instead of all or nothing, piece by piece. Lots of steps. Hard things to oppose. It's true that, from a rules perspective, if you want comprehensive reform, you'd better have a comprehensive bill — but maybe it's enough to say we will have a long series of small reforms.
I am amazed at the anger I hear from people on the topic of Obama. Some of it, on both sides, may be unconscious racism. There are all kinds of reasons not to focus on race issues during the president's second term. On the other hand, why not?
Whenever I see a "candid" picture of Obama, I am reminded that I have no idea what this man is really like. Of course, I've read the books and I hear stories from those who know him. But five years into his presidency, I don't feel I have come to know him. And that allows me to project onto him attributes — of being cold and aloof, for example — that make it his fault, or worse, to be disappointed, as are many who thought they knew him.
Five years into his presidency, my guess is that fewer Americans believe they know and understand this president than did on the day he took office, which is an agenda of its own.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00