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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 28, 2005 / 17 Adar II, 5765

Life as we don't know it

By Michael Kinsley


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Based on the two big domestic stories of last week — Terri Schiavo and Social Security personoramification (or whatever they want us to call it instead of privatization) — the Republican philosophy seems to be that people need more control over their own retirements but less control over their own deaths.

Based on recent polls, most people feel the exact opposite. They prefer the modest but certain Social Security check they get every month over the opportunity to spend their twilight years nursing their portfolios and worrying every time Alan Greenspan's successors open their mouths. On the other hand, they want to set for themselves the rules about their own final departure. Specifically, people are terrified of being kept joylessly alive, active minds trapped in shut-down bodies or lost minds mocking the dignity of a lifetime, just to prove somebody's political point.

The Schiavo case is not exactly about anyone's right to die, since we don't know whether Schiavo would want to die in her current circumstances. But concern about being able to choose death over pain and/or extreme degradation is what has riveted people to the Schiavo story.

This is far from illogical. A Congress that has diddled for decades while a growing fraction of the populace has no health insurance, and a president who lectures us constantly about the evils of big government, managed to pass and sign a law within a day trying to keep Terri Schiavo on life support for another 15 or 30 or 45 years.

Why have they done this? There is a reflexive habit in Washington of assuming that everything Bush does is the result of opportunism. If he were to cure cancer in his spare time, people would ask, "What is Karl Rove up to?" In fact, George W. Bush is probably more motivated by principled belief than any other recent president. He enjoys the stubborn conviction of the unreflective mind. Unfortunately — or fortunately for the Democrats — his principled convictions are often wrong and sometimes unpopular. This leaves an opening for rival principled convictions, if only the Democrats had some to spare.

In the Schiavo case, Bush and de facto House Speaker Tom DeLay earnestly believe that human life is a gift from God that no one has the right to extinguish. "No one" includes the person whose life it is. The president and Congress probably would not swoop down and prevent a family from pulling the plug if everyone involved agreed that this was the unambiguous wish of the patient herself. But the situation is rarely so clear. Even when there are living wills, people's wishes are often thwarted. The right to die on your own terms — and, more important, the ability to take comfort in knowing, long before you need to, that you will have that right if you wish to exercise it — is barely alive. Clearly, if Bush and DeLay had their way, they would pull the plug on that notion.

Bush's motive for pushing so hard on Social Security reform is more mysterious. But the possibility of idealism must be entertained, because any cynical motive for threatening Social Security seems so far-fetched. The explanation can't be Bush's official one, that the system will be in crisis by 2042. Anyone worried about financial crises in 2042 should be sobbing inconsolably about a half-dozen big issues likely to explode sooner. Further, Bush has as good as admitted that privatization won't solve the trust fund crisis. Well, he has admitted that privatization "alone" won't solve the crisis, when in fact it won't solve the crisis at all, except by fiat. His "plan" — still no details — assumes that the trust fund will be made actuarially sound as a prerequisite for privatization. It's not much of a magic trick to pull a rabbit out of your hat if you start by demanding a rabbit to put in the hat.

People say Bush's real motive for privatizing Social Security is to turn millions of Americans into Republicans over the next half-century by giving them a stake in the stock market. You could call this idealism or Rovism, but it would be Rovism on a stick so long that it almost doesn't count. Something similar did work politically for Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. She allowed millions of Britons living in public housing to buy their apartments, thereby creating a whole class of homeowners.

But this technique appeals to a very different kind of conservatism than the one Bush is offering. It is the conservatism of order and security, not of uncertainty and risk. As people grow older, plan for retirement and think about death, they become hungry for reassurance and more resistant to it at the same time. Fear of the unknown looms larger. What Bush's tinkering with Social Security and his meddling in the right to die have in common is that both make life's last couple of chapters seem less predictable and secure. That may not matter to Bush, since he enjoys the ultimate security of knowing — or thinking he knows — what happens in the chapter that follows these two. And it looks pretty good. Others are not so sure — about themselves or about him.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Kinsley is Los Angeles Times Editorial and Opinion editor and former editor of Slate.com. Comment by clicking here.



03/21/05: Girl problems in Op-Ed Land



© 2005 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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