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David's brain, David's life

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David's brain, David's life

Postby kurt_w » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:32 am

Image

That's a scan of my friend David's brain. The blobby shapes shouldn't be there. They're rapidly growing tumors, the latest manifestation of the cancer that came close to killing him once before and now is likely to succeed.

David and I have drifted apart over the years, but we used to be close and I still think of him as a friend even though we haven't talked much lately.

David's political and religious views are very different from mine. He was Special Assistant to the President (George W. Bush), and was the number-two guy at the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. Before that he'd worked for Ralph Reed, John Ashcroft, and the CIA. He wrote a book. He was on 60 Minutes, and on Colbert (though I haven't been able to bring myself to watch that video). He blogged at various places, in an inconsistent and desultory way.

David was part of what I'd call the Religious Right. But over time he became disillusioned with its politicized agenda, and particularly with its lack of interest in helping the poor. Here's David, leading a 60 Minutes camera crew around a convention of evangelicals. They stop by one of the display tables to look at the books and pamphlets for sale:

"You've got homosexuality in your kid's school, and you've got human cloning, and partial birth abortion and divorce and stem cell [...] Not a mention of the poor.

"This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda - as if this culture war is a war for God. And it's not a war for God, it's a war for politics. And that's a huge difference.


Despite our very different opinions, I have a great deal of respect for David's intelligence and thoughtfulness. I wish he weren't dealing with this deadly cancer. I also know he's got a lot to take care of right now -- he'll leave behind a wife and young kids. But under the circumstances, I wonder what he's learning from this experience, what insights it's given him. With his religious beliefs, I expect his reaction to the process of dying and to all the medical interventions he's gone through is probably very different than how I would experience it if I were in his shoes.

Andrew Sullivan hosts a series of videos in which David responds to questions from viewers. Here's an example, in which he talks about his first thoughts after learning about his cancer diagnosis. Rod Dreher says "I know David is going to beat this cancer, even if it takes his life" and I understand what he means by that. I'd go even further, and say that David already beat this cancer. It can take his life, but it can't erase the past.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:45 pm

Kuo was a fascinating Bush appointee. I followed the news surrounding the release of his book with interest. All good health and wishes to him and his family.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby kurt_w » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:55 am

Kenneth Burns wrote:Kuo was a fascinating Bush appointee. I followed the news surrounding the release of his book with interest. All good health and wishes to him and his family.


He is a complicated person. He's the only person I know who donated to the campaigns of both Barack Obama and Rick Santorum. He worked for Ted Kennedy and Right-to-Life.

In person, he is a really nice guy, one of the friendliest people I know. I feel very, very sorry for his kids; it must be absolutely horrible to have your father suffering from brain cancer and knowing that there's a high likelihood that it will be terminal.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:51 pm

After reading your post yesterday I listened to Kuo's "Fresh Air" interview again.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Igor » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:17 pm

kurt_w wrote:He is a complicated person. He's the only person I know who donated to the campaigns of both Barack Obama and Rick Santorum. He worked for Ted Kennedy and Right-to-Life.


I think there are a fair number of Pro-Life people that are liberals on any number of other issues. I'm not talking about 50% of Republican voters, but 4 or 5% maybe. Enough to swing some elections.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby kurt_w » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:26 am

Kenneth Burns wrote:After reading your post yesterday I listened to Kuo's "Fresh Air" interview again.

Thanks for the link. I didn't know he was on Fresh Air. I'll listen to that later today.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:54 pm

kurt_w,
I truly wish that your friend Mr. David Kuo Pulls through this grave affliction. This man has much bigger balls than I, the fresh air piece was poignant. He has shown a great ability to rage against, what is now being recognized as "narrative threads". I am still trying to get my own head around this notion, but I did notice this show up lately. That thing being that some folks are trying to develop more "margin" in their life. I suppose this has some basis in distancing yourself from what might bother you. If you have a chance please thank your friend for being such a tough patriot.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:33 am

R.I.P. David Kuo. Sorry about your friend, kurt_w.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby Igor » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:32 pm

Besides the incredible sadness of seeing someone die so young, it is also saddening to lose someone from the public sphere that was a truly independent thinker. This would have been someone for whom I would have knocked on doors, or donated money, or worked in whatever capacity. By all appearances, he is the sort or person that I aspire (unsuccessfully) to be.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby kurt_w » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:07 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:R.I.P. David Kuo. Sorry about your friend, kurt_w.


Thanks for posting the link.

That's the second of my friends to die of cancer this year, both in their 40s and both with children. Not good.

The world is ever so slightly poorer without David in it. He was a truly unusual and memorable character.

It's kind of morbidly amusing to think of how we used to argue about religion. I never believed in any kind of afterlife. Now, if he was right, and I was wrong, he's probably experiencing extreme frustration at not being able to tell me "See, I was right! I told you so!"
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby kurt_w » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:29 pm

Igor wrote:Besides the incredible sadness of seeing someone die so young, it is also saddening to lose someone from the public sphere that was a truly independent thinker. This would have been someone for whom I would have knocked on doors, or donated money, or worked in whatever capacity. By all appearances, he is the sort or person that I aspire (unsuccessfully) to be.

I can see that. I think he would have appreciated your role here.
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby gargantua » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:39 pm

kurt_w wrote:
Kenneth Burns wrote:R.I.P. David Kuo. Sorry about your friend, kurt_w.


Now, if he was right, and I was wrong, he's probably experiencing extreme frustration at not being able to tell me "See, I was right! I told you so!"


I, too, am sorry for the loss. Kurt, if he was right, he is in no way frustrated, and in due time will be able to tell you himself. I hope I'm wrong every day. Maybe we get our wish?
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Re: David's brain, David's life

Postby snoqueen » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:48 pm

It's kind of morbidly amusing to think of how we used to argue about religion. I never believed in any kind of afterlife. Now, if he was right, and I was wrong, he's probably experiencing extreme frustration at not being able to tell me "See, I was right! I told you so!"


I prefer to believe they're sitting upstairs laughing gently and saying, "Just wait, it's all OK. You'll find out when your turn comes."
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