Monday, September 7, 2009

Choice is Not a Slippery Slope.

That Ross Douthat! Once again writing to save individuals from their own rights. His boundless paternalism is breathtaking.

Sunday's article makes perfect sense. I finally get it: seniors are just like women! They must be told what to do with their bodies! And the same crew sitting around deciding when women can screw are now working to ensure that they control when seniors die.

For the facts (since neither Douthat nor his editor could be bothered with them):

*End of life counseling is not mandatory. It's not financially incentivized. It's not coerced. And it isn't assisted suicide.

*Assisted suicide, or Death with Dignity, is legal right now in three states, one of which is Montana where oral arguments were heard on Wednesday in the Baxter v Montana appeal case. Other states are experiencing movements that have have brought bills before their legislature but Montana may become the first state in the nation to declare death with dignity constitutional.

*Death with Dignity laws as they exist in Washington and Oregon require that the patient ask for it, must be within 6 months of death, must be mentally sound, and must self-administer the medicine. Oregon's law has been successfully in place for 10 years.

*In the states where DwD/AS is not legal, no one will have access to it should article 1233 be re-included in health care reform.

So why doesn't Douthat respect our seniors enough to make decisions about their own deaths?

Don't be fooled! This conversation is not about slippery slopes and government coercion. It's not about bureaucratic ineptitude, or about the fundamental laws of our humanity. It's not about greedy family members or burdens to society. It's not about money or the economy. It's not even about death!

This argument is about who owns pain and suffering. And as Garret Keizer reminds us, "Whoever owns pain owns power."

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BibliOdyssey Labor Day.

I am enraptured by a web site that I found, BibliOdyssey, via one of the Mennonite threads that I follow.

Not that the site has any affiliation with the Mennonite church; it's "curated" by a modest someone in Australia.

If you enjoy the site as much as I do, sign up for their newsletter and be amazed on a regular basis.

And please share it around! PKs curatorial work should be recognized for the joy that it is.

Happy Labor Day, one and all!


The Republican Party is Dead. Long Live the Republican Party.

Frank Schaeffer, son of the iconic Francis Schaeffer, one of the "thinking fathers" of the Religious Right, has a review of Max Blumenthal's latest, Republican Gomorrah - Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. Schaeffer writes:

Republican Gomorrah is the first book that actually "gets" what's happened to the Republican Party and in turn what the Republicans have done to our country. The usual Democratic Party and/or progressive "take" on the Republican Party is that it's been taken over by a far right lunatic fringe of hate and hypocrisy, combining as it does, sexual and other scandals with moralistic finger wagging. But Blumenthal explains a far deeper pathology: it isn't so much religion as the psychosis and sadomasochism of the losers now called "Republicans" that dr ives the party. And the "Christianity" that shapes so much "conservative" thinking now is anything but Christian. It's a series of deranged personality cults.

The Religious Right/Republicans have perfected the method of capturing people in personal crisis and turning them into far right evangelical/far right foot soldiers. This explains a great deal that otherwise, to outsiders, seems almost inexplicable--the why and wherefore of "Deathers" "Birthers" et al. Blumanthal brilliantly sums up this pathology as:

"...a culture of personal crisis lurking behind the histrionics and expressions of social resentment. This culture is the mortar that bonds leaders and followers together."

How can a rag-tag party like the Republican party be doing so well right now? They've kept health care reform on the skids (taking single payer off the table immediately), rallied the wackos to make some big noise at town halls, caught Obama flat footed on issue after piddly issue (like addressing school kids). And as a country: we still act like women's reproductive rights are up for compromise; the NRA has more pull in congress than the majority leader; it's perfectly common to discuss the horrors of the government pulling the plug on grandma but not the benefits of getting insurance agencies out of our health.

We all could go on and on. Somehow the Republicans are doing something very right. Even their prospects for 2010 are being touted! How can they pull out one more ridiculous after another - to the detriment of our nation's advancement? Schaeffer promises that Blumenthal shows us how.

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The New Evangelicalism.

Don't miss John D. Boy's Icons of the New Evangelicalism at KillingtheBuddha today. Boy takes a look at the next generation of evangelical leaders and asks:

All that sounds good, but the question remains: How sustainable can these changes really be? Among Catholics, Vatican II eventually led to a harsh backlash; why should we assume evangelicalism is on a sure track toward lasting change? Do the new icons represent a mere “shop-window of saintliness … substitut[ing] with impunity the signs of charity for the reality of justice,” as Barthes put it? The example of Rick Warren already suggests that a healthy dose of Barthesian skepticism is in order. His support of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California—albeit rather muted—was highlighted by opponents of his involvement in Obama’s inauguration and suggests he hasn’t veered too far from the old evangelical path. Just because some evangelicals are comfortable with voting for Democrats, destabilizing epistemological boundaries and, yes, growing goatees, doesn’t necessarily mean they have become agents of progressive social transformation.

Same as the old evangelicalism? See the KillingtheBuddha blog for more.


Gimme a Break, September!

And happy to have survived two days of stomach flu. What next? Bed bugs? Computer virus? Loss of a friendship? Come on! I've been good all summer!