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March 06, 2006 | Read comments | Post a comment

LifeCare, lifeboats, murder -- and the Carlyle Group

The latest transgression to be laid at the door of the Carlyle Group? Hurricane Katrina murders.

Near the end of a news story Friday reporting that former LifeCare exec Donald Boucher will plead guilty to making $50,000 in illegal corporate campaign contributions, we find this:

LifeCare was acquired last summer by the Carlyle Group.

Twenty-four patients died at a LifeCare facility on the grounds of a Tenet Healthcare Corp. hospital in New Orleans that was cut off by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina.

That's a discreet way of putting it. In fact, they were murdered. "The 'evacuation plan'," according to NPR on 2/16, "was to not leave any living patients behind." NPR reported that administrators "saw a doctor filling syringes with painkillers and heard plans to give patients lethal doses."

You know the Carlyle Group, right? You should if you watched Michael Moore's Fahreheit 9/11: "The Bin Laden and Bush families were both connected to the Carlyle Group, as were many of the Bush family’s friends and associates," Moore told us.

The British Journal the Economist reports that "among its partners are former secretary of state James A. Baker III, former defense secretary Frank C. Carlucci and former White House budget chief Richard Darman" ("secretive Carlyle Group gives capitalism a bad name"), adding that the group "also retains former president Bush as a top adviser...."

From Michael Moore again: "The Carlyle group is a multinational conglomerate that invests in heavily government-regulated industries like telecommunications, healthcare and, particularly, defense." ( You can see more of the background on the group that Moore used at his Fahrenheit 9/11 background website.)

Since last summer, LifeCare has been part of that mix.

"LifeCare": now there's a misnomer if I ever heard one. It goes way way beyond irony. It operates 21 hospitals including Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans where the folks were murdered. The Times Picayune described Memorial as a "long-term acute-care center" -- which I take to be a hybrid beween a hosital and a nursing home.

When, in its Feb. 16 report, NPR offered proof that officials there had killed patients they couldn't evacuate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I waited for the public outrage, the outrage that I was sure would come over what happened at LifeCare: murder, OKd by officials against helpless hurricane victims.

But the outrage didn't come. By now, much of the Katrina outrage has been simply used up, it seems.

Now that we know that LifeCare is part of the hated-by-us-lefties Carlyle Group, will the outrage revive?

Probably not. Even NPR, which reported the culpability of LifeCare administrators, called them "mercy killings."

So it's OK, the term seems to say.

Nobody seems to see how ridiculous that term "mercy killing" is. How it excuses officials, who should have heeded warnings to evacuate. Culpability rises to the highest corporate and government levels in our nation, now that it's clear federal officials -- and Bush -- knew of the danger to New Orleans days before levees broke.

Not Dead Yet's statement gets it right: "This was not about compassion or mercy. It was about throwing someone else over the side of the lifeboat in order to save themselves."

"So far the focus has been on the failures and abandonments of the poor, old and disabled by the government at local, state and national levels," Not Dead Yet's Steve Drake tells me. "But perhaps we need to look at corporate abandonment of these same people."

Right. And let's call it what it is: murder.

Posted by mjohnson on March 6, 2006 10:32 AM


It is widely held, at least in "American Society" that "mercy killing" is not an oxymoron.

Since those holding this view generally would rather be dead than disabled and, in fact have advocated for laws that would override the old "first, do no harm" oath for doctors and make murder by physicians a part of medicine.

If those advocates believe so strongly in this, they sould take their own medicine - after all they will become disabled pretty soon anyway and since they'd "rather be dead than disabled", the way is clear.

Now that doctors may advertise (wasn't allowed in my youth), perhaps we'll see "comfortable euthanasia as a "treatment" offering by doctors who think it's OK to do.

One interesting note is that an execution (in Texas?) was cancelled because they couldn't find a licensed medical practitioner to give the lethal injection.


Posted by: William Loughborough on March 6, 2006 11:14 AM

Mary have you blogged about this on Kos or the other left leaning blogs? Yes they should be outraged, but after my experiences posting disability perspectives about Schiavo on Kos, I have little hope the white privileged left will get it any more than the white privileged right. When I posted about Schiavo, I was not simply disagreed with, but faced full on attacks. These were not intellectual attacks, but rather personal attacks and comments that were the equivalent of using the "n" word in disability language.

After that experience, I have no hope for outrage.

Posted by: Carrie Ann Lucas on March 6, 2006 07:13 PM

I am so saddened by these massive dismissals of treachery. A company scandal such as Enron's can be a national focus and make the cover of every prominent magazine, but this gets no more airplay then you are willing to give it here (and thank you for doing so). As one of those privileged white folks, and I do not mean that with disdain, but rather remorse, I'd like to ask that you bear with us, until the mainstream media picks these things up, we usually don't hear of them, I think you would probably find that those of privilege who listen to NPR and haven't already agreed with you, are far and few between. To me, that is a media problem, and why wouldn't it be, they'd be reporting about a coporate sponsor, no doubt, and then how would they make money. Crime be damned so long as the check is written...

Posted by: Matt on March 7, 2006 10:24 AM

has anyone considered the irony of how we've passed all sorts of safety laws (seatbelt, helmet, etc.) on the theory that it's better to be disabled than dead, but the nanosecond someone becomes disabled, the hue and cry suddenly becomes: "it's better to be dead than disabled"?


what, then, is the point?

on the one hand, we pass all these oppressive laws ostensibly to save lives, while on the other hand, we pass a bunch of oppressive laws in order to take the lives that were saved by the oppressive laws that were passed in order to save lives ...

as a nation, we've become hopelessly schizo.

Posted by: barefoot christian on March 7, 2006 02:00 PM

Carrie Lucas asks, "Mary have you blogged about this on Kos or the other left leaning blogs?"

Actually, Carrie, I'd sort of abandoned Kos. I was posting on it regularly for awhile but it seemed so useless... But you reminded me that I should start again. So I've now put this blog entry on Kos. And will try to start posting there regularly again.

Posted by: Mary Johnson on March 8, 2006 12:24 PM

WE are outraged and many others - We are the media - We are the people - keep up the good work . . . . swan . . . .

Posted by: Swan on March 15, 2006 06:11 PM

Mary, I think you should try to engage in some dialogue with Atrios. He works with Media Matters and I think that is a connection we need to explore.

I post over at Eschaton occasionally and I got smeared during the whole Schivo discussion as well. But, I don't have to agree with folks on everything to be able to keep important conversations going.

Posted by: Duane on April 11, 2006 11:31 PM


You should get your facts straight before you write such a diatribe. LifeCare is separate from Memorial, they rent space. I have not heard of any news organization claiming definitively that mercy killing occured, as yet the AG for LA has not rendered a verdict and the coroners report has not been published. How dare you condem people in this manner without having evidence.
As for the policy of leaving no one alive behind, that's so that no one is left to fend for themselves in that situation, a clause which you so cleverly distorted to mean "kill them all". Do you even know anyone who worked at the hospital during that time? Trust me, they worked their asses off to evacuate people. Hopefully your next argument will be better prepared.

Posted by: arlybenn on May 23, 2006 04:50 PM

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