Cass Sunstein – Revisited

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Now that Congress and President Obama’s health care bill has been signed into law, it’s time to revisit the views of some of the people who advise him to gain a better understanding of how their influence can affect the lives of Americans who will receive care under this brave new health system. I begin by taking a look at the President’s adviser from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein.

“In his 2008 book, “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness,” Sunstein and co-author Richard Thaler discussed multiple legal scenarios regarding organ donation. One possibility presented in the book, termed by Sunstein as “routine removal,” posits that “the state owns the rights to body parts of people who are dead or in certain hopeless conditions, and it can remove their organs without asking anyone’s permission.”

“Though it may sound grotesque, routine removal is not impossible to defend,” wrote Sunstein. “In theory, it would save lives, and it would do so without intruding on anyone who has any prospect for life.” (Source:

With all due respect to Mr. Sunstein, while the government may have staked its claim to our labors and even a portion of our property through taxes, it does NOT own our bodies whether we are dead or alive. Our life, and inherently the body in which we live it, is an inalienable right given to us by our Creator as described in our Declaration of Independence. That right is not just for some Americans, those whom the government deems fit to live. It is guaranteed for all Americans regardless of health, productivity, “hopeless condition” or any other qualification our government officials choose to use.

How did we come to accept having a person advising our president with views so diametrically opposed to that outlined by our Founding Fathers?

Pardon my flag-waving moment here. My observations are that Americans as a people are generally kind-hearted. We are almost always willing to reach out and help each other in a time of need, both at home and abroad. Our generosity to other countries in times of disaster, man-made or otherwise, is commendable. It is something I think most of us are happy to do with no more expectation in return than a heart-felt “thank you” and good wishes for us in the future. We’ve come to accept that instead we may receive a healthy helping of criticism for our efforts. Yet, it does not stop us from continuing to try to help.

We don’t enjoy seeing our fellow man suffer no matter where in the world they live. We like to believe in the best of ourselves on an individual level as well as a nation. We like to believe others are good and well-intentioned.

This optimism generally serves us well in that it creates an atmosphere where even the poorest among us can find hope for the opportunity to provide a better life for his family than his ancestors did. We inherently understand that it takes hard work and determination, things of which most Americans are not afraid. Most of us buy into the idea that if we can dream it, we can achieve it even when our circumstances don’t seem to warrant such brazen optimism.

We don’t like to think about evil, and some of us don’t believe it actually exists. Some believe that if evil does happen to us, we’ve brought it on ourselves. Because of our collective humanist belief that people are good and well-meaning, we ignored the signs warning of the acts of September 11, 2001. Nearly three thousand innocent people who were simply going about their daily lives lost their life that day. We tend to take a reactionary path after bad things happen rather than a proactive stance toward prevention. This has given some a reason to criticize our continued participation in the war on terror both here at home and abroad.

Because we are generally an optimistic society believing that we can have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we also choose to believe that our government also has our best interests at heart and does not wish to intrude upon our lives to do us harm. Despite written documentation to the contrary, we don’t want to believe that anyone in our government might actually be willing to sacrifice a helpless person in a “hopeless condition” such as a loved one who is severely autistic or one who has some other physical or mental illness, for the benefit of someone the government deems as more productive who would provide more tax dollars to feed the government beast. Beware! Any person who espouses the use of body parts from people in “certain hopeless conditions” is not above deeming that an aging parent who is in declining years is also in a “hopeless condition” and therefore not fit to live.

What we Americans fail to remember is that all of human nature is flawed and we are not exempt. America’s Founding Fathers understood this Judeo-Christian concept very well. They also understood that given the power to do so, man will rule with tyranny over his fellow man. Once given this power, the people will have great difficulty in prying it from the rulers’ hands. They understood that power is also an addictive drug.

Not convinced? One only has to study world history to realize that evil does exist and it is not confined to one continent or group of people. Many a nation throughout history have been led into enslaving government systems by promises of the government apparatus providing health, wealth and prosperity for the masses. Vladimir Lenin used the metaphor of the promised land to enslave Russia into communism. Adolf Hitler used the same ideas of prosperity for all to install National Socialism (aka Nazism) in Germany. Germany under Hitler did not start out to be what we think of as the Nazi’s at the end of World War II. Over the course of a few years though she sank into a state where the government controlled every aspect of life, disallowing any form of public dissent and squashing opposition at every turn to the point of mass murder.

We in America are on a VERY slippery slope toward this end whether the people who support this administration want to believe it or not. We as a society have turned a blind eye to ideas such as those espoused by Mr. Sunstein as well as other equally horrifying ideas. We hang on to the hope that the people in power in this country won’t really resort to such things to save money even when these ideas have been as clearly documented as in Mr. Sunstein’s book. We want to believe that our lives are of more value to our government leaders than this. Enough of us still stick our heads in the proverbial sand, somehow thinking our leaders in Washington couldn’t possibly mean these things. We choose to believe they still have our best interests at heart even when they refuse to listen to the protests of “We The People” and call those who oppose them on policy “racist.”

We in America are humbled to have been blessed with many things that people of other countries are not given the opportunity to enjoy. Our entrepreneurial spirit and our willingness to be the trailblazers are some of our most admirable qualities not always found in other countries. However, to think that our (American) human nature less subject to the influences of evil, that we and our government leadership are any more righteous than others throughout human history, is simply illogical.

Copyright © 2010 by One Write Angle™
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The Audacity of Hypocrisy – The Problem of Barack Obama

March 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Maybe someone can explain this to me. How is it that we are to believe that someone can listen to inflammatory and divisive rhetoric for nearly 20 years and NOT buy into at least some part of it?


Barack Obama claimed last week that he condemned the views of his former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, while a minister at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago that he has attended for nearly 20 years. Yet he failed to condemn those views until now, and only when confronted about them.

Let’s think about this. Suppose I as a white woman had attended a church for 20 years that week in and week out proclaimed to be against those who are not white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant and women. Yet when confronted – and only when confronted – I merely stated that I did not support those views.

Would you believe me? No, I didn’t think so. Truth be known, I wouldn’t believe me either! The fact is, I’d be called a racist and liar and likely not be able to show my face anywhere without fear of retribution.

Let me be clear on this point – I am NOT espousing these views. I have friends of various religious and ethnic backgrounds and I love them all. I firmly believe in equal (though not special) rights for all who are legal American citizens.

I am very proud to be an American and I uphold the spirit of this country’s founding fathers. I also believe that we are at a crucial crossroads in this country with our upcoming presidential election. The person we elect to lead our nation will continue to face a world much different from any that person’s predecessors have faced. This person will need a strong sense of ethics to do the right thing and not merely follow the sway of popular opinion at the moment. He or she should be expected not to do that which is merely politically expedient.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama claims his mission, if elected to the office of President of the United States of America, will be to unite people. Yet in his private life he refuses to take any action other than to say he disagrees with the “incendiary language” of Dr. Wright’s comments “that have the potential to widen the racial divide.” He also did not take action against the erroneous and anti-American rhetoric of Dr. Wright that claims, among many other things, that the U.S. government is in the business of infecting black Americans with HIV. If we are to believe Mr. Obama’s unifying position, if he truly disagreed with these hate-mongering comments, he surely would have felt compelled to walk out of these inflammatory sermons, or better yet, moved his and his family’s church membership elsewhere.

Furthermore, he supposes we are to give him a pass on his stance of inaction by assuming we have all heard commentary from our “pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” Mr. Obama assumes that we too do not take action against those things with which we disagree. With this assumption, he expects us to give him a pass on his nearly 20-year membership in and financial support of this church and Dr. Wright. Without actually expressing it, he expects us to be pragmatic and understand that his membership in this church was to establish influential connections in the black community in Chicago.

If we are to understand this from him, then surely we are also to understand that making those connections was more important to Mr. Obama than doing the right thing, the patriotic thing, the American thing, and not supporting people and institutions that are in opposition to the things he claims are important to him as a political candidate for the highest office in our country. Make no mistake; Mr. Obama’s lack of action tells us that establishing connections to further his political interests is more important to him than taking a stand for the unity of the American people that he discusses on the campaign trail. By upholding Dr. Wright and his inflammatory and anti-American positions with inaction, Mr. Obama has created a tremendous conflict of interest.

How can a man who wants to unify and lead our country, through his inaction, condone this kind of anti-American and discordant language? Do not actions speak louder than words? It is not too much to demand that a candidate for the office of the President of the United States be patriotic and loyal to his or her country in both words and actions? Our founding fathers did not think action was too much to ask when they stood against England in protest that brought about the founding of this country. Surely we should expect the same from their political descendants.

Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
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Super-duper Tsunami Tuesday

February 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Much will be written today about the next twelve to fifteen hours. It is primary election day, aka Super Tuesday, Super-duper Tuesday, or as I have even heard it called, Tsunami Tuesday.

I live in Illinois, one of the many states where the political party leaders questionably saw fit to move the primary from March to this date. I understand the political wrangling and the jockeying for position and bragging rights to having an influence in the primary process. But understanding does not mean I agree.

And what is with the states where anywhere from half to all of their delegates won’t even count toward their state’s nomination process? For those states to have gone forward with their primary election day follies is the political equivalent of cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.

So what does today mean?

It means that, at least on the Republican side, barring the unexpected most people who live in states where the primary elections will be held after today will not necessarily even need to vote. I predict exceedingly low voter turnout in those states over the next few months. I know if I were still living in Kentucky, I would view my vote as not having any influence. It is tantamount to a “beauty contest.”

I would be outraged.

In fact, I am outraged. I have a difficult time believing our founding fathers intended the process to be manipulated as it has been this year. It is a dangerous precedent to take away the meaning of so many voters. It moves our society another step away from a government elected by the people.

I hope this will not be a permanent change in our election process.

Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
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News Media Bashing: The Bashing Goes Both Ways

January 30, 2008 Leave a comment

In response to Politics and News Media Bashing

The bashing goes both ways.

A few weeks ago after Fred Thompson gave a speech to thank his supporters in South Carolina, Chris Matthews of MSNBC could not wait to jump in on the last word of Mr. Thompson’s speech to state how much of a “waste of time” it was. The worst part was that he, like so many in the media these days, was smirking about his comments. It was evident he thought his commentary was quite clever.

As supporter of Mr. Thompson, I was deeply offended. I thought it was a very nice gesture for a candidate, any candidate not just my pick, to politely thank the people who worked for him and those who voted for him. And even though it was obvious at that point that Mr. Thompson would soon be pulling out of the race, I felt Chris Matthews comment was a stinging smack in the face to Thompson, his staff and supporters. The idea Mr. Matthews conveyed was that expressing thanks is a waste of time.

His comment felt very politically motivated.

Of course, I am not in Mr. Matthews’ head and do not know what he was thinking at that point in time. But I have a strong idea had it been Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or any of the other Democratic presidential contenders making this same speech, this comment would not have been made.

I generally don’t watch MSNBC because I’m a conservative and tend to like Fox News more than most of the other media outlets. Not that holding conservative views automatically mandates I watch Fox News. Neither does holding a liberal point of view necessarily require someone to only watch CNN or MSNBC. My perception is that Fox News is more conservative-friendly. On this particular day I was on a treadmill at the gym and somewhat locked into watching and listening to politics on MSNBC, a college basketball game in which I had no vested interest, or something akin to a rerun of BET’s Hell Date. Maybe Hell Date would have been more entertaining, but I chose politics.

However, for as much as I enjoy Fox News, I recognize that “fair and balanced” is balanced a great deal of the time toward the conservative point of view. I often say Fox News is balanced in the ‘right’ direction – pun intended.

As a former media person and an aspiring blogger, I know and fully understand that if a person passionately believes in something, it is virtually impossible to write a story that does not reflect those values and beliefs. Each word chosen often has an alternative expression. That alternative expression, while meaning the same thing, carries different connotations and feelings for those who hear or read those words. For example, when discussing abortion, do I choose to say that someone is pro-life or are they anti-abortion? Even the order of those word choices in that question can color a person’s perception of what I am attempting to convey.

Nonetheless, I still believe that when writing and reporting the news, it is just that – the news. There is a time and place for sharing personal opinions about the news in an editorial forum.

I am appalled by the way the some (but not all by any means) in powerful positions in the media now try to unashamedly shape our views. Even more, I am disgusted by the dismissive attitude that certain individual reporters as well as the “powers-that-be” have toward stories they see as unimportant. You can find this regardless of whether they represent the liberal, conservative or moderate point of view.

When did the media change from simply reporting the facts to assuming their audience is interested in their personal opinions? Or is it that they think “the rest of us” are not well enough informed to make intelligent decisions based on the facts? Do they think we need their “star-powered” opinions to help us sort through everything?

In journalism classes 20-something years ago, I was taught that a journalist was expected to avoid inflammatory rhetoric. I was also taught to try to avoid injecting blatant personal biased into what I said and wrote. My job was to write and report the facts and leave my personal feelings out of it as much as is possible. I was also taught to fairly represent both sides of a story, giving not only equal time but equal respect.

I believe the root of the problem is a basic lack of respect not only for the story being covered but for the audience as well. And it is a problem not just in the media. This lack of respect is a huge problem in general in our society. Many people are far too interested in expressing their own thoughts, projecting their feelings and keeping their schedules to bother with having respect for anyone else. They would rather keep their agenda in tact than to think of how their words and deeds affect others.

Media in a free society is a reflection of the society that surrounds it. Unfortunately, instead of being leaders and rising above this type of behavior, our media is reflecting some of the worst of our society. No wonder so many around the world seem to have so little respect for us as a people. We apparently have little respect for ourselves or each other. Until we as a society find a way to reject our self-centered attitudes, our media will continue to be a mirror of this type of behavior.

Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
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Categories: News, Politics

As the Calendar Turns…

January 3, 2008 Leave a comment

The old year ends and the new one begins. It seems like such a trite concept yet somehow I find myself falling into the familiar pattern so many of us embrace with the changing of the kitchen calendar.

As I reflect on all the things I planned to accomplish last year, I find on some accounts I fell woefully short. I didn’t lose weight like I had hoped. In fact, I packed on a bit more. Not through holiday eating – I actually started losing weight around Thanksgiving. No, medical issues dictated I take medication that caused weight gain.

I also haven’t been as conscientious about my professional self-studies as I would have liked to have been. Every time I began to make progress, the tyranny of the urgent called my name.

I lost a friend to cancer this year. His friendship made a profound impact in my life. I will miss his wit and wisdom that he sowed in the years I knew him. I can’t pass a Backyard Burger restaurant without thinking of Russ. But he is home with our Lord now. I hope he’s made friends with my father. I think they would make each other laugh.

There were many triumphs as I made my way through this past year, giving me reasons to rejoice. In a down market amid the subprime scandals of 2007, my mother’s house closed. I am relieved and grateful at God’s timing in the sale of her home. My mother continues to flourish in her new home that is close to ours.

My own health continues to improve and I am now able to walk without pain.

Early in the year we took a week’s cruise in the Caribbean with family and friends from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. My husband and I also celebrated two years of marital bliss and my birthday with a short weekend cruise back to the Caribbean. We also celebrated at our 20-year college reunion with a trip to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. It was a wonderful time of connecting and reconnecting with friends and their spouses.

We were blessed to host friends and relatives during the summer as well as over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I even developed a couple more domestic goddess talents with new recipes and old favorites.

We have a warm home in these cold Chicago days and even colder nights. We love and we are loved by others.

But most importantly, we know we are loved by God and are following the path He sets before us. He has promised to provide for our needs. He has provided in the past. We have no reason to doubt He will continue to do so while we stay in His plans for us.

While on some fronts I find myself wishing for a few of the days of last year back for a “do-over,” I head into this new year hopeful for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I still have the goals of losing weight and advancing my professional self-studies.

My hope for myself is the same hope I have for each of you reading this. May there be positive and exciting changes in the year ahead and may you find a way to see God’s guidance through the challenges that He allows to come into your life.

Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
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