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The Shill and Doctor Astroturf

August 28, 2009

– The Public Record –

The Shill and Doctor Astroturf

Posted By Zachary Roberts – Special to The Public Record

“I don’t know whether I prefer Astroturf to grass. I never smoked Astroturf.”
-Joe Namath

In early August, Sarah Palin made a claim that ObamaCare would create ‘death panels’ – that the elderly would essentially have to make pleas for their life in front of a panel of bureaucrats. Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ McCaughey has been identified as the creator of the ‘death panel’ myth. McCaughey has done this before. She killed HillaryCare more than a decade ago.
The infamous binder

The infamous binder

McCaughey’s goal is to frighten people away from the single payer healthcare option. The last time a Democrat was in the White House trying to pass healthcare reform she was busy inventing stories out of whole cloth about what those reforms would do. In the 90’s, she claimed that government healthcare would be mandatory and that people would be stuck in the program. It was untrue then, as it is now.

Then she claimed that their were ’secret provisions’ in HillaryCare – now the Internet is filled with rumors of free abortions, government databases and of course death panels. There is little doubt that Obama’s people learned from HillaryCare and took as many preventative measures as they could but no amount of planning can compete with a conservative with an agenda.

McCaughey has been all over the networks news shows talking about what she, a ‘researcher’ and former Lt. Governor of New York has found deep, deep in the ObamaCare bill. Only in one interview was she really called out for the scaremonger that she is.

Edward R. Murrow would have been proud. Jon Stewart spent more than 15 minutes with McCaughey in a recent interview for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. [The full interview can be found here and here.] To her credit, McCaughley believed she could compete intellectually with Stewart. To say she was unprepared would be an understatement. Of course, the last time she attempted this she did not have such a formidable opponent; there wasn’t a late night comedy show reporting “fake news.”

But McCaughley’s been at this game for a long time and she still has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. She knows that one thing that American’s hate more than restricted health care options and death panels is reading. When Hillary was tasked with health care reform the media and the Republicans were obsessed with the President’s bill size (pun not intended). McCaughey didn’t miss the opportunity to use that imagery again – coming onto the set with a huge binder filled with “the first half of the House Bill 3200…” adding “it’s 1018 pages all together.” Please note that HillaryCare was over 1400.

Stewart jumps right into it, asking her the ‘death panel’ question – the infamous page 432, which of course like the plans for the evacuation of New Orleans was no where to be found. Eventually she did find and read the passage from the bill that she claims will endanger senior citizens – a provision that has been endorsed by the AARP and the American College of Physicians among others – followed by Stewart looking a bit befuddled by how McCaughley could have reached that conclusion. Still, Stewart allowed McCaughley to claw her way through his light-hearted (considering her seeming lack of knowledge of the bill) questions for another 13 minutes.

McCaughey ended the interview with the introduction of yet another trick – a claim that doctors are “frightened” of this bill. She quoted an oped written by a “physician from San Francisco,” a Dr. Katherine Schlaerth, who claimed:

“These and other provisions of the health choices act frankly scare me. As a physician, I took an oath long ago to put my patient’s interests above all else, but provisions in the bill have a quality of coerciveness that make me wonder if I can fulfill my oath.”

If McCaughey had read the rest of the article and not just the “moving” part it would have shown where this doctor sits politically. Earlier in the article she selectively quoted Obama discussing choices he made with his Grandmother:

“To quote President Obama, we must correctly inform families who might otherwise approve of “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows (are) not necessarily going to improve care. “My problem, as a physician who has practiced medicine for decades, is that I just can’t predict with certainty what is end-of-life care, nor can I determine for another individual the meaning of “quality of life.”

She left out the important part – as many right-wing commentators have as well – “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

The president’s grandmother was too frail to have the surgery but still this was a choice that Obama’s family had to make because she did not have living will, something that page 432 would have probably solved.

According to Schlaerth, Obama ever the PR man is also concerned about how the death panel plan will look – “The math is obvious. If you kill the disabled and give ‘quality preventive care’ to the well, your health-care statistics will look excellent.”

Schlaerth has taken McCaughley’s problems with page 432 and taken it to the next level in an interview with (America’s ‘most complete’ Catholic Newsweekly) calling President Obama a fiscal conservative at the expense of the elderly’s lives – “The real reason for these draconian provisions directed against elders who are not terminal, I believe, is to save on Social Security payments as well as Medicare payments,” Schlaerth said.

Doctor Schlaerth is also frightened for her collegues – “Health-care providers, meanwhile, may be forced to give counseling directly opposed to their religious or moral beliefs.” The oath that she is so frightened Obama won’t let her fulfill is, I guess, filled with exceptions for her – since she’s a Christian and against life saving abortions.” Sadly, as a MD her own religious convictions will be taking precedent over the 20,000 some people that die every year do having no heath insurance.

Lastly, a little information about Dr. Schlaerth. She often credits herself with being a Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. She likes to write oped columns. She’s written extensively on abortion, dogs killing children because of allergies, stem cell research among many other hot topic issues and is available for interviews through the Life Legal Defense Foundation. She accepts Cigna, HealthNet, Medicaid, WellCare, Humana, BCBS, United Health Care, Sierra, Wellpoint (also Mastercard, AMEX and Discover)

To clarify her position – she’s an associate professor emeritus – she lost her job at USC, and another one because “she is pro-life and won’t do abortions or dispense birth control pills.” She’s now a practicing physician at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, a private Christian College in Southen California. She believes that stem cell research will “cannibalize our conceptuses for spare parts… There will be precious few paralyzed young supermen opting for baby neurons so they can walk again.”

God bless those treated by Dr. Schlaerth.

Zach Roberts is a contributor to The Public Record. He has produced DVD’s with award-winning investigative reporter Greg Palast including Big Easy to Big Empty and Palast Investigates. Follow him on twitter at zdroberts and on his documentary review feed DocuTweets.

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Copyright © 2009 The Public Record. All rights reserved.

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