City of Brass

City of Brass

Sarah Palin, queen of the Deathers

I’ve gone on enough about the nuttery (and yes, racism) of the Birthers who are besieging the last remnants of sanity in the Republican Party. It’s only fitting, therefore, that the wackiness continue with the rise of Deathers, who insist that President Obama and the Democrats’ plans for health insurance reform amount to forced euthanasia of old people. No less an esteemed GOP scion as Sarah Palin herself gave this fledgling meme life when she proclaimed on her facebook page,


“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

In other words, Sarah Palin actually believes that The Government is going to deny health care to elderly people or those with disabilities, according to some twisted eugenics program designed to cull the weak and preserve the profit margins. Doesn’t this sound more like the behavior that the insurance companies already engage in? Not as an explicit goal, but simply as a natural byproduct of the policies they follow – including denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and refusing payment for services retroactively.


This idea that the Democrats are out to kill your grandma or forcibly abort your baby is pure scare-mongering 101, trying to rise the pro-life base and also drive a further wedge between the Democrats and the senior citizen voting bloc (who are very protective of their Medicare coverage, a fact that the Democrats have exploited in their own campaigns against Republicans before). In an extensive article at Slate, Christopher Beam gave these prophets of doom their name – the Deathers:

First came the “birthers.” Now, as President Obama makes a final push for health care reform, we have the deathers.

Many senior citizens are concerned that health care reform would mean cuts to Medicare. That much was clear at a town-hall meeting hosted Tuesday by the American Association of Retired Persons at which Obama fielded questions from seniors who don’t want to give up their benefits.


But one question stood out. It addressed what the host from the AARP called the “infamous” Page 425 of the House health care bill. (Read the bill here.) “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die,” said Mary from North Carolina. “This bothers me greatly, and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” The host elaborated: “As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.”


[…] Deathers point to several parts of the House bill as evidence that health care reform means letting old people die. Most prominent is the end-of-life consultation provision mentioned above. An article on World Net Daily argues that the proposal “specifically calls for the consultation to recommend ‘palliative care and hospice’ for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions.” In fact, the bill says the meeting must include “an explanation by the practitioner of the end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice”-not a recommendation of it. (Emphasis added.)


[…] Another seemingly scary provision is one that permits “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration”-or, more accurately, the withholding of it. [Betsy McCaughey] told me that the provision is a disturbing example of the government making decisions for the patient. But the bill specifically says that an order to withhold, say, an IV drip, must be one that “effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.” In other words, a doctor can’t make you do it.

Yet another bugaboo is “shared decision-making.” The House bill would establish a program that “provide[s] patients with information about trade-offs among treatment options, and facilitates the incorporation of patient preferences and values into the medical plan.” The legislation makes clear that this is an educational tool to help patients make informed decisions about whether a treatment is likely to help. To McCaughey, the decision-making is hardly shared. “This is coercion,” she said.


As Beam points out, “scaring Grandma is irresistable” and so this is n’t something that we should be surprised about – but it’s still a prime example of how cynical the politics over health reform are. Living in Madison, I have become very fond of liberal radio hosts like Rachel Maddow who are pushing back aggressively on these memes, including deserved mockery to illustrate just how insane these people really are:

this time, the reason they say changing the health care system is so scary is because – you guessed it – health care reform is really a secret plot to kill old people and to try to make people have more abortions.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They won’t pay for my surgery. What are we going to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, honey, you can’t live this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to think that Planned Parenthood is included in the government-run health care plan and spending tax dollars on abortions. They won’t pay for my surgery but we’re forced to pay for abortions.

NARRATOR: Our greatest generation denied care. Our future generation denied life. Call your senator. Stop the government takeover of health care.

Family Research Council Action is responsible for the content of this advertisement.


MADDOW: You got that? The real agenda lurking behind health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people and to promote abortion. That ad was just released by the conservative group the Family Research Council.


Now, you know about the conspiracy theory that the president secretly isn’t really the president because he’s secretly foreign. Those conspiracists are called birthers, right? Well, Christopher Beam at has christened the health care-reform-as-a-secret-plot-to-kill- old-people conspiracists as the “deathers,” which is sort of brilliant.

Unfortunately, the disinformation campaign is working, with ordinary Republican voters falling for these outlandish claims. The irony is that the proposed reform will actually address many of their fears and give them more power, not less, over their own health and the health of their loved ones.

Also, there’s something supremely disquieting about Palin dragging her child into politics in this way. For someone who makes a lot of (righteous) noise about her daughters being dragged into the public eye by others, using her son’s disability as a political prop seems pretty craven. I thought the far-left obsession about her pregnancy and whatnot was obscene, too, and don’t really see any difference between that and her invoking her baby now – especially since I personally think Palin is a very intelligent woman who surely knows that the health insurance reform proposed by Obama and the Democrats has nothing of the sort as she claims. If she was really just a fool, then it would be excusable, in a sense.

  • Rob

    The more you bash Sarah Palin, the more I like her. She must be doing something right to drive you liberal socialists so crazy!
    No to socialism.
    No to Obama.
    Go Palin.

  • Philip Avon St. Cyr

    You’re saying stuff they don’t want to hear, Aziz. Remember, they get to pick and choose how to be Christian. It’s only other people who don’t get to choose.
    WWGD? (What would God — or Jesus — do?)
    “He heart bleeds for us.”
    Sounds like a bleeding-heart liberal to me!

  • Bill

    Palin’s self-esteem is vastly overblown. Her self-importance and cause is shameful and totally divisive. I guess we owe John McCain partly for her rise to infamy.

  • carly

    Palin is now trying to tone it down. But her strings are pulled by the GOP/RNC. She could not have written the posts on her facebook page. There are related posts at and

  • Sabir

    In other words, thinking and reasoning make your head hurt. It’s much easier to be reactionary and spew ad-hominems.
    Commenters like Rob are exhibit A for how Sarah Palin fits within the GOP’s rebound strategy and why the Republicans won’t be down for long. I think most GOP leaders realize that Palin is woefully unfit for a serious role within the national political scene. But because she can capture the least educated and most poorly informed part of the electorate, she’s a useful idiot. No serious politician would use the phrase “downright evil” to describe a sitting president’s health care proposal, but articulate, nuanced critiques don’t get trailer trash to the voting booth, even when they’re grounded in conservative principles. In the end though, the GOP will put a stop to her circus act once she’s served her purpose. For now, they’re just using her to get the masses riled up.

  • Your Name

    Newt Gingrich claimed again yesterday that there was a secret eugenics agenda hidden in the healthcare bill. Coincidentally, Newt’s organization “American Solutions” called me on the phone. They asked me to listen to an audit clip from Mr. Gingrich and then a volunteer came on the phone to follow up. She touted the 12 solutions for America’s problems that were listed on the “American Solutions” website. I told her, “If Newt Gingrich had not gone on television today and implied that Obama wants to set up a ‘death panel’ designed to kill off old people, I might have cared to hear his other ideas. As it is, he has no credibility with me.” The volunteer sounded genuinely shocked to hear that he had done this. I hope that she rethought her participation in his telemarketing effort. There should be consequences for intentionally misleading and divisive politics.

  • AntonioSosa

    Palin is absolutely right! Obama and his accomplices are using lies and Orwellian doublespeak to sell Obamacare. The more we learn about Obamacare, however, the scarier Obamacare looks. If Obamacare is imposed on us, we may be forced to pay not only for abortions, but also for infanticide (late-term abortions) and euthanasia.
    Keep in mind pages 425-430 of the bill, which MANDATE that we receive end-of-life (death) counseling when we turn 65. Keep also in mind that Obama’s Health Care Czar Ezekiel Emanuel, who has rightfully called “Doctor Death” would make Dr. Kervorkian proud.
    Dr. Emanuel has said that “Medical care should not be given to those who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.
    So if you have an elderly family member suffering from Alzheimer’s or a child diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, the hell with both of you according to Dr. Emanuel’s position.
    Additionally Obama’s “Science Czar” John Holdren has called for population-control policies such as forced abortions, mass sterilizations, and mandatory population controls.

  • Kauko

    So, AntonioSosa, the only defense you have for you asserions are 2 websites, both of which are little more than the rantings of paranoid conspiracy theorists. And I have to point out that you quoted one of those articles word for word without attribution as if they were your own words, that is called plagiarism and is unethical. You might want to reserve judgment on ‘Obamacare’ until you have read up on it from more rational sources.

  • Gordon Thompson

    This woman has to be either a total dimwit or deliberately and knowingly evil. Why waste time commenting? Why waste time reading what these people spew into the public forum for the masses to swallow whole? Why not proscecute a few of them for hate crimes? Enough is enough. Ms. Palin, please go away!

  • charles schmitz

    how come liberals are so scarced of sarah?when they are asked about her they turn into 6 th graders.she is stupid a nitwit i think they are scarced cause they know she is most likely will be a big part in the demise of the socialist pig party.

  • Husband

    “how come liberals are so scarced of sarah?”
    Because she is an ill-informed, inarticulate, under-read, hypocritical, ‘religious’ nutwing airhead, you betcha, and because Rethuglicans want her to lead the free world despite her and her party’s clear lack of cogent policies. That’s why. Thanx 4 askin’.
    Perhaps you folk could come up with better messages that don’t rely on scaring the population.

  • Your Name

    Why do we bother to talk to AntonioSosa and others like him? Clearly no amount of FACTS will break through. Nobody mandates anything like what he is talking about.
    I have sat in the ICU with someone, who never indicated how she would like to be treated if she were unable to respond…and without a living will or any kind of advanced directive, a relative made the choice to keep upping morphine until she couldn’t breathe any more. Is that what she wanted? Who knew? Under the new legislation, a doctor would be paid to have a conversation about that – if the patient wanted to have it. Most elderly I know are quite clear about what they want – so why not have the opportunity to make sure that’s what you get?
    These people who make these accusations are craven, and deserve to be exposed at every turn for what they are.

  • Bill Lewis

    As an RN having worked for 41 years in health care in one realm or another it never seems to amaze me how naive people are. Insurance companies and medicare control the level of heatlthcare you get. your stay at various levels of care is determined by criteria they develop. We lost a patient this week because she should have been in an acute care hospital but the case managers felt otherwise. They are usuall hospital employees who must transfer patients before their money runs out.
    BTW Kevorkian got in trouble for euthanasia but is actually practced all over the country in a low key manor. If you ever hear about weaning people from the vent, that is what is happening.
    To survive in this system you have to be really alert and scream like crazy.

  • Your Name

    “”Most elderly I know are quite clear about what they want – so why not have the opportunity to make sure that’s what you get? “”
    Because it shouldn’t involved the government!

  • charles schmitz

    husband is a perfect example.

  • Mike Licht
  • Truthfairy

    Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Rep Charles Boustany (R-LA) wrote Section 1233, a bi-partisan effort. Here’s what Rep. Blumenauer wrote in Huffington Post about all these irresponsible scare tactics, wild distortions and tales of death panels and euthanasia
    Those with no solutions and no answers for how to reform our health care system are hijacking positive, bipartisan efforts that have contributed to a strong bill passed out of two House committees. Republican leadership has abandoned all efforts at passing needed health care reform — even turning their attacks to legislation that has been actively crafted and supported by both parties.
    One of these outrageous examples is my Life Sustaining Treatment Preferences Act.
    GOP leadership has been gravely distorting the truth and misrepresenting the facts about this bipartisan effort, and in the process throwing members of their own party under the bus — those who have reached across the aisle to do something that will help Americans across the nation.
    The bill simply provides people with better care as they grapple with the hardest health care issue of all — their final chapter of life. CNN reporter Elizabeth Landau does a great job highlighting the benefits of “doctors and family members having more conversations about end-of-life issues,” which my bill addresses.
    This bill has bipartisan support (the main cosponsor is a Republican doctor) as well as support from a diverse coalition like AARP, the American College of Physicians, and Catholic health systems. It is an area where — no matter from a red or blue state — many have been able to bridge the divide.
    The bottom line: this is a smart and just thing to do for families going through a tough time. Who wouldn’t want to know:
    Can I stay in my home or will I need to move to a hospital or nursing home at some point?
    What are different treatment options as my health declines?
    Will I be in pain and what are the side effects of medication?
    These outrageous distortions about “rationing end of life care” are not only personally infuriating, but their attempts to derail health reform endanger millions of people who live without insurance and desperately need access to affordable, high quality health care. As PolitiFact notes, these are “pants on fire” untruths.
    We cannot waste any more time when it comes to reforming our broken health care system. While Republican leadership is determined to bring down reform and sink President Obama — saying they want health care to be his “Waterloo” and “to break him” — the cost of inaction is too high. If we do nothing, 45,000 people will lose their health care every week.
    If we fail to act to reform our system, everyone will feel the consequences. Americans deserve the truth about what is in the health care reform bill, not scare tactics or misrepresentations. It is time to stop playing politics with people’s lives

  • JaneScroggins

    The main problem with convincing the public that the president is being honest about the health care bill is that he has been less than honest about almost everything else. Lets make a list: Guantanamo, torture, lower taxes, When and where he was born and a birth certificate to prove it, ect. ect.

  • Mike

    While I haven’t seen anything that directly substantiates the euthanasia or abortion claims being made, I do see the inferstructure and foundations being laid for both. I find that unsettling.
    I would also submit that while I believe and want insurance and medical practice reform, especially medical expenses, I don’t believe the government is the way to do it. I’ve never seen anything the government did better than the private sector except set up new fifedoms to pour tax money into so they could grow bigger and more unwieldy. Based on what I’ve seen in the UK and Canada, this one would be the biggest yet.
    It also reeks of socialism and that’s not the path I would want to see the US follow. Systems don’t improve by bringing everything down to the lowest level.

  • Your Name

    Palin doesn’t scare me, she disgusts me. Major difference. Actually, I take that back. She scares me in that anyone who acts as stupid as she does should not have any business in politics. Her political beliefs are skewed as far to the right as her religious beliefs. Her final act as governor of Alaska was to veto a bill for stimulus money that would benefit the citizens of Alaska by allowing them to upgrade energy programs etc, to kake life better. So I guess if you are old in Alaska, and can’t afford energy, or to better insulate your house to help save money and stay warm, better you just wander off into the wilderness and freeze to death eh?

  • jim

    Hey mike, why don’t you tell people what you “see” Let us “see” the exact “foundations” you speak of. I bet you have not read the bill at all. If you people actually think that ANYONE wants some sort of “LOGANS RUN” type of society, well I think you should throw yourselves out a window. I am so sick of MORONS.

  • Rapnsum

    National Health Care is all about rationing. This idea began with the Eugenics movement and they are still very active today. In addition, they want to FORCE all of us to pay for the killing of babies through abortion in this Health Care Bill. Who will they get to carry out these eugenic decisions: Planned Parenthood, of course. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s top abortion provider, needs to be exposed for their eugenic and racist roots. Planned Parenthood’s founders were elitist eugenicists who wanted to eliminate entire groups of people? Planned Parenthood’s renowned founder, Margaret Sanger wanted the “unfit” to be segregated to “Farms and open spaces” until their moral conduct could be corrected. Does that sound like a foundation of “choice?” Sanger admitted in her autobiography that she gave speeches to the Klan . Margaret Sanger was a member of the American Eugenics Society and so were many on the Planned Parenthood Board, including former Planned Parenthood VP, Alan Guttmacher. But, alas, where is the media to bring this out to the public’s attention? Sanger formed the organization The American Birth Control League which later became known as Planned Parenthood. Several American Birth Control League board members formed the group: National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia as early as 1938. Many of that group’s founders were Sanger Board Members and joint members of the Eugenics Society, a group Planned Parenthood Founder , Margaret Sanger , belonged to as well. ( SEE NYT “Sanction is sought for ‘mercy deaths” 1/17/1938). , Educate yourself about this by watching a documentary called: Maafa21. Get it here: Read Sanger;s writings for yourself here:

  • Sick of Palin’s stupidity and hypocrisy

    Either Palin is so incredibly stupid and or she lives in a parallel universe! Speaking of Death Panels, Palin presided over Death Panels of her own according to a Federal Review in June, finding that Alaska was plagued with bureaucratic problems prior to Palin’s Quitting.
    The Anchorage Daily News reporting that “In one 2 ½ year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs.”
    The situation is so bad the federal government has forbidden the state to sign up new people until the state makes necessary improvements.
    No other state in the nation is under such a moratorium, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
    In the meantime, frail and vulnerable Alaskans who desperately need the help are struggling.
    I know the GOP caters to the ignorant, stupid and fearful, and Palin is the perfect leader for the stupidity. Apparently they’ve opened the doors to all of the country’s insane asylums, and Palin is driving the bust at warp speed to beyond stupidity.

  • Joel

    As a Priest who has witnessed several families thrust into making on the spot decisions concerning palliative care and end-of-life treatment I find hope in the decision to pay for such consultations with health care professionals. It is also my hope that a procedure will be in place to allow those consultations to be automatically included in medical charts whenever the patient is hospitalized.
    I’ve seen too many families face the added stress and burden of making important decisions while in the crucible of emotions that catastrophic illness produce. It is very important to note that the decision of the patient and/or the family is what determines the course of end-of-life or palliative treatment – not the doctor or some bureaucrat – unless, of course, you live in Texas where former Governor Bush signed into law a bill that allows for patients to be removed from critical care if they are unable to pay for continued services.
    Now that’s fiscal euthanasia and is morally abhorrent yet I hear no one crying out about that and it has been going on for years in Texas. Instead folks are taking a solid health care proposal and dreaming up government death panels. The one in Texas should be stopped but the one included in the current health care reform (introduced by a Republican from Georgia) deserves support.

  • Your Name

    The author seems to find solace in the belief that “The Government” would never promote euthenasia or abortion. The author also pokes fun at anyone who believes exactly what the mainstream media and Democrats did back during the Clinton years, express concern for Grandma’s healthcare. Except now, people like Pelosi, Waters, Boxer and Waxman would stop at nothing to push their agenda down the throats of “the establishment”. These people are zealots and nothing more, bent on world domination.
    Remember Hilly trying to force her ego onto healthcare and chastising the GOP for trying to take away medicare? I do remember.
    Read Daschle’s book about determining the validity of medical care for someone at the end of their days….. The democratic party is full of people with a do as I say mentality. The same people who are forcing legislation and lifestyle on us “for our own good”.

  • EH

    What I find lacking over and over in this discussion is the fact that the insurance companies decide who gets care and who doesn’t. THEY are the ones who decide whether or not to pay for your care.
    They answer to their shareholders first.

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