Thursday, October 28, 2004

TeresaCare: Department of Wellness

by Sherry Eros, MD and Steven Eros

This is such a powerful moment for me. -- Teresa Heinz Kerry, Democratic Convention, July 2004 Speech


Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s health care plan, representing a vast 1.5 trillion dollar increase in costs billable to the American taxpayer over the next ten years, depends for many of its bold new health-related policy initiatives on the advice and counsel of the candidate’s sharp-tongued philanthropist and food fortune heiress wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Does America know what it’s getting itself in for?

With the death of her first senator husband, John Heinz III, Teresa Heinz Kerry found herself a billionairess in control of the Heinz Family Endowments one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations dispensing charitable millions to fund radical environmental causes, New Age Medicine, gay rights advocacy and a wide variety of education projects.

Teresa assumes the role of an expert in operating these vast charities even though she had no formal education, training or experience in any related field prior to assuming the mantle of leadership after her first husband’s death. Prior to that she was a housewife and, by her own account, for all practical purposes took no significant role in managing the family business interests or the foundations.

With her marriage to Sen. John Kerry in 1995, after having re-invented herself as a major philanthropist designing scientific, medical and social programs, Teresa parlayed her philanthropic credentials into becoming the presidential aspirant’s principal advisor on medical, environmental and education matters.

Writes
Gail Sheehy in the pages of Mother Jones magazine:

John Kerry has not yet defined how he intends to include a prescription drug benefit in his health care plan, but his wife has seen her foundation's plan, HOPE, adopted by the state of Massachusetts, and she is developing similar plans for several other states.
"All that stuff is way ahead of my husband," [Teresa] says.

On September 8, 2004 in Greensboro, N.C., presidential candidate John Kerry formally unveiled his wife Teresa’s ultimate solution to America’s health care crisis: once elected president, the Kerry Administration will supersize the current Department of Health & Human Services bureaucracy by merging it with, or subsuming it under, a new Teresa-designed Department of Wellness. Bowing to his wife’s assertion of superior wisdom on matters medical, Kerry dutifully announced to the nation, "I intend to have not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness."

Teresianity: The Religion of Biological Determinism.

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It is crucial in understanding Teresa Heinz Kerry and her public policy ambitions to grasp the fact that bodily health is at the very center of her thinking not only about personal physical and mental health but about human life and human behavior in general. At the root of her psychobiblical worldview is the notion that New Age Medicine and other marginal "holistic" practices will guarantee us all a utopian healthy, intelligent and moral society. New Ageisms infuse her speech and suffuse her thinking to such a degree that, as David Halbfinger of The New York Times reports, "She talks to bewildered audiences about tai chi, about 'embracing the tiger'." The would-be First Lady often drones on with Teresaisms such as, "I like to nurture people, I like to enable." Teresa's odoriferous brew, according to Deborah Orin of the New York Post, consists of a jumbled amalgam of "feminism, globalism and New Age lingo." As the Daily News' Helen Kennedy observes, Teresa "speaks slowly and quietly, often saying heartfelt New-Agey things that sound alien on the stump, like predicting a coming 'time of wellness'."

According to Heinz Kerry, we Americans are ignorant of the fact that, in order to be productive, we must all practice the rituals of wellness and prevention. Her notion of these goes far beyond what Americans usually think of in terms of eating healthful foods, keeping our weight down, exercising, not smoking and the like. As with so many of her views on life and science, Teresa Heinz Kerry's notion of wellness and prevention derive from what she describes as her time as a youngster spent roaming the jungles and savannas of Africa.

The Atlantic Monthly's Michelle Cottle offers Teresa recounting how she "spent her childhood climbing guava trees, swimming in crocodile-infested rivers, and accompanying her father, a successful oncologist, on visits to impoverished villages in the bush."

In reality this cosseted and coddled daughter of Portuguese parents was living the proverbial colonial good life in pre-revolutionary Mozambique where the black oppressed were routinely and rigorously exploited as servants, often as near-slaves.

Here in America,
Teresa has invented for herself a life story in which she depicts herself as liberator of the oppressed African masses, vanquisher of apartheid and reigning authority in world health and disease. Karen Tumulty of Time describes an alternative reality in which a young Teresa was to be seen in the Mozambican capital "playing tennis on the grass lawns of private clubs and spending her days sipping tea and coffee with her friends." Dennis B. Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette paints a portrait of a life with" servants, boarding schools and a big, rambling house near the water in the capital." We can only speculate about the education of this child of colonial Africa during the pre-Nazi and Nazi period. What we do know is that Teresa’s sense of the dependence of human life upon the occult life-enhancing powers of the pseudo-religion of wellness is not just some off-the-cuff incoherent noodling on her part, but appears to be a concentrated expression of Teresa’s fundamental philosophy of life, her mantra on all things health-related. This is a function of her apparent adherence to an even more deeply-rooted proto-fascist theory of biological determinism in fundamental conflict with the American belief in free will and individual moral responsibility. In Teresa's worldview, biological mechanisms determine who we are in the most fundamental sense: what we think and how we act and what we believe.

In line with this, she regularly
castigates American health care providers and even openly humiliates her own physicians (as she did on a recently-aired C-span broadcast) for expressing insufficient interest in her pet theories of biological determinism such as putatively harmful estrogenic effects. Heinz Kerry regularly adopts medical fads, hunting and gathering pieces of utterly spurious medical data to support her patchwork notions frequently forgetting that what she said just moments earlier contradicts what she is saying now. This combination of intellectual lassitude and unwavering indifference to facts accounts for her recent embarrassment over accusing First Lady Laura Bush of never having held a job, and then just hours later having to apologize after being informed that, as is universally known, the present First Lady was a school teacher and librarian. It might also account for her criticizing the auto, home and plane industries while operating multiple SUVs, five stately homes and a private jet.

As often happens when Teresa recites her health care mantra during campaign stops and health forums open to the public, at a recent health care event reported-on by the AP, "She elicited chuckles from the crowd and her husband when she described the differences between women, who are driven by estrogen to ‘tend and mend,’ and men, who she said are driven by testosterone to 'fight or flight'."

Heinz Kerry’s biological determinism—her concept of the priority of the body, the physical, the biological—involves a thoroughgoing denial of those fundamental concepts of free will and individual responsibility utterly fundamental to Judeo-Christian America.

If you have a child who eats the wrong things, is denied adequate health care and is deprived of a stimulating environment, it follows of necessity that he will turn out to be a criminal or other form of psychopath, sociopath or mental defective, Teresa teaches. From this she believes it follows naturally that if society seriously intends to prevent criminality and all other forms of social pathology, then all we have to do is provide our children with the right nourishment and sunlight and stimulation—and, poof!, instantly you have healthy and well-adjusted children who grow into intelligent, law-abiding and well-adjusted adults.
.

For instance, in New Mexico last month, she promoted the Kerry health care plan explaining, according to an
AP report, that "keeping children healthy will keep them off the streets and out of jails, 'Every child should have that great send off so they can blossom and become great Americans'." In Kolona, Iowa Teresa dilated on "John’s plan" explaining it will make all children "blossom" by assuring that:
the children put through school will have the same healthcare access, no matter who they are or where they come from, will have the same quality program from zero to 8; whether it’s means tested for someone who can pay all or part, or free for those who can’t. So that at the end of a school trajectory certainly by 8 years old, every American child has had the best that we collectively can give…to children, which is good health, good habits, strong brain development, strong social skills … we will have given them good beginnings. And let me just say that paying $10,000 or $12,000 full time for a kid who has nothing, is a lot cheaper, a lot kinder, and a lot smarter--also good economic policy-- instead of having them at $50,000 to $60,000 for life, as a young criminal, which is what’s happening in this country.

Teresa Heinz Kerry has thoroughly convinced herself that she has made a truly important and original discovery, completely oblivious to the fact that for hundreds of years innumerable snake oil salesman have been trying to pawn-off such panaceas and easy fixes in place of genuine, scientifically-based health and education practices and rigorous theories of criminal and moral responsibility both religious and philosophical.

She defines the choice Americans must make in the starkest possible terms: "If you don't focus on prevention and wellness, you die," she told a group at a health-related campaign event in
Las Vegas on August 12, 2004. Heinz Kerry added without a touch of irony, "Wellness and prevention has to be No. 1 in my book. It's kinder to people. It's cheaper. It's affordable--and it's just a lot more fun."

Optimistic message: TeresaCare's a lot more fun; you follow its dictates, or you die.

Just the day before her Las Vegas appearance, live on CNN’s morning show, Heinz Kerry had beamed optimistically, "But coming from a third world country and a country that did not have either the resources or access to the kinds of things we have, and which is representative of most the world really, if you don't focus on prevention and wellness, you die, right?"

This is what Teresa Heinz Kerry has in mind when she promulgates her "holistic" health plans and practices. Not merely that they allegedly help this or that person, or might assist in preventing this or that disease. Rather that holistic healing has transcending, even transcendent value. TeresaCare has the transforming power of religion, the religion of Teresianity. New Age Medicine conceived as a low calorie religion substitute is the basis for her notion that our deficiencies in health care are responsible for preventing Americans from being "smart, well and happy." The health care plan designed by Teresa Heinz Kerry for a prospective Kerry Administration, she tells us, will immediately make "investments in our well-being" and prevent the many social and personal pathologies that restrain the individual and engulf the nations of the world. It is this global, holistic, New Age vision that portentously leads her to formulate for Kerry a health care plan in which a Department of Wellness will insure that no matter the cost, "from day one, every child will have access to healthcare;" or, more precisely, TeresaCare.

Even die-hard Kerry supporters such as
Mickey Kaus were nonplused by candidate Kerry’s bow to his wife's New Age Medicine, decrying it as "Spirit-crushing foolishness from my candidate, John Kerry." Exclaimed an exasperated Kaus, "The nation is trying to figure out how to fight global terrorism and he's talking about … a Department of Wellness."

Kaus finally exploded, "How about a Department of F***ing Perspective?"

Since candidate John Kerry formally announced the plan to incorporate his wife’s idea to transform the Department of Health and Human Services into a Department of Wellness devoted to New Age Medicine, commentators on both sides of the aisle have reacted with a mixture of derision and consternation.

George Will sniffed at the would-be first couple's most important and most costly policy proposal, "While the nation was reeling from the horrors of Beslan and Baghdad, [Kerry] promised a North Carolina audience that as president he would create a ‘Department of Wellness’ to deal with problems such as house mold."

Slate's Chris Suellentrop traced back Kerry's Department of Wellness policy proposal to a January 2003 Heinz Kerry interview in the Boston Herald in which the candidate’s wife announced her intention to exert "strong advocacy" in a Kerry Administration particularly in the spheres of health, education, women’s issues, and environmental policy. Suellentrop muses,
The other head-scratcher uttered by Kerry in the past two days came Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. There, in response to a question from a woman about the health problems caused by mold and indoor air contamination—and her complaint, "There's not one agency in this government that has come forward" to deal with the problem—Kerry endorsed the creation of a new federal department. "What I want to do, what I'm determined to do, and it's in my health-care plan, is refocus America on something that can reduce the cost of health care significantly for all Americans, which is wellness and prevention," Kerry said. So far, so good. But then, "And I intend to have not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness." Again, what? Apparently this idea comes from Teresa Heinz Kerry....
Health, education, environment and gay rights are areas in which Teresa Heinz Kerry exerts total command and control over Kerry policy, and health care is her highest priority. Particularly since the death of her first senator husband John Heinz III in 1991 and her accession to the leadership of the billion dollar Heinz family charities, health care has been her primary focus. As might be expected, she has profoundly impressed her second senator husband who has so little familiarity with medical care that he refers to his wife as Dr. T and relies on her for advice on his personal health problems as well as his campaign’s programs. Proclaimed Heinz Kerry, "I'm not afraid to say what I believe." As a "woman [who] has opinions," she added caustically, she would not be like "women [who] have been told to shut up for centuries--because they didn't know how to read and write." Ouch.

About Teresa's far-reaching influence on her husband, Kerry biographer and historian Douglas Brinkley said earlier this month in a profile of the presidential candidate on
MSNBC, "it is without an exaggeration to say that [Teresa] is his closest advisor. He consults with her constantly."

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To Barbara Walters on May 7, 2004, Teresa recounted a conversation she recently had with herself considering whether her husband's presidential run would suit her own needs and ambitions, and provide her a platform to pursue her own social policy agenda, "Walking alone in the woods, thinking, thinking, basically contemplating about life. About where I am in life. And I said, you know, if we get there, then I just have a higher platform from which to share the work that I do already. And John, of course, would have a much larger platform."

According to Newsweek’s
Melinda Henneberger, when a reporter asked Heinz Kerry to project what "causes" she might focus on as First Lady, such as health care and the environment, Teresa Heinz Kerry bristled, leaving no doubt that the conventional role was not at all what she has in mind, and snapping back, "My work isn't 'causes.' I have work. I don't mean to insult anyone, but mayors don't have causes, they have work." -- Teresa is being downright self-effacing here: in truth, she does not see her status being limited to that of a mere mayor.

In Mother Jones, Gail Sheehy offers an echo of these remarks with Teresa remonstrating, "They're not causes--they're serious matters in the world. It takes full time. I work six days a week."

Already back in 2003, Heinz Kerry’s words left no doubt in the mind of Boston Herald’s Andrew Miga that she would be the true power behind the health care policy throne if her senator husband is elected president. Reported Miga, "She predicted she would be an activist first lady, lobbying for a Department of Wellness that would stress preventive health."

At a town hall "Conversation on Healthcare" in Las Cruces, NM, Teresa explained that she has been spending nearly 80% of her time on the campaign trail conducting healthcare forums with voters week after week, as we learn from attending admirer Gloria R. LaLumia writing for BuzzFlash.com. LaLumia adds that Teresa always carries with her to each such forum a red three-ring binder, "which, when opened, revealed tabbed sections. The appearance of the red notebook was a signal that we were now going to get involved in some serious business."

LaLumia certifies that Teresa will insure that a president Kerry stays true to his stated priorities, "She is the driving force behind John Kerry’s promises and I believe she and the Kerry team know exactly how to get this program up and running from day one."

How important is health care policy to Teresa Heinz Kerry? How convinced is she of the transforming power of her vision, her New Age religion of biological determinism?

It is important enough, and she is certain enough, to raise the spectre of legislators nationwide being thrown out on their ears if they dare oppose it. Writes
Susan Lindt, of the Intelligencer Journal, "Heinz Kerry said her husband's health care plan would be endorsed by legislators-- even naysayers whom she said will find themselves voted out of office if they oppose the plan."

She continues this tactic by raising it to the level of wholesale intimidation, with "Only an idiot wouldn't" like the Kerry health care plan. Ominously, she directly proceeds from such intimidation tactics to her strategy of mass indoctrination of the boorish American masses.
Susan Lindt’s recounting of Heinz Kerry’s approach has the First Lady in prospect anticipating the need during a Kerry Administration for mass re-education programs and "retraining Americans to think of health care as wellness and disease-prevention rather than the treatment of illness."

If Teresa has her way, a postmodern Kerry Administration will be predicated on the principle beloved of all tyrannies that reality must be changed to reflect language rather than the reverse. Such linguistic idolatry and manipulation of language is intrinsic to all totalitarian systems and all relativistic schools of thought, from the tyrants of ancient Greece to the socialists to the deconstructionists. The starting point and the common denominator is the denial of human freedom, objective reality and absolute truth. In each case, the worship as well as the perversion of language are inseparable from the denial of objective reality, the annihilation of religion, and the devaluing of human life. Consequently we should expect that under Kerry, re-naming Cabinet departments will not be limited to converting the Department of Health and Human Services into a Department of Wellness. We should anticipate that, Soviet-style, the Justice Department's name will be switched to the Department of Human Restoration and Self-Reinvention; the Education Department will be recast as the Department of Human Potential, Personal Growth and Self-esteem; and in honor of Rep. Dennis Kucinich the Defense Department will be known as the Department of Peace and Reconciliation.

In her Boston Herald interview Heinz Kerry diagnosed the core problem of our poor, benighted America, declaring, "This country is just waiting to have the light switch turned on."

Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate
John Edwards mirrored Teresa’s lament with, "Here's the truth. I have grown up in the bright light of America. But that light is flickering today."

John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry and John Edwards want to convince Americans that we live in a state of moral darkness, and all we have to do is grant them control of the switch of state. They tell us that with such power in hand they will enlighten our nation in a way that fits their utopian model of nanny-state liberalism, in which government assumes increasing control over our health and our lives. Yet their utopian model based on biological and psychological determinism directly contradicts the core values of freedom and responsibility that have illumined America's virtuous path to success for more than two hundred years.

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