- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

Assisted suicide

Montana is the latest battleground in the fight over physician-assisted suicide and some worry, as more states make it legal, about the problems that may arise if it becomes an acceptable medical option.

Montana’s Supreme Court judges are examining a case brought by former truck driver Robert Baxter, who suffered from lymphocytic leukemia and wanted the courts to grant terminally ill patients the right to obtain life-ending drugs from their doctor. A district court ruled in his favor, but Mr. Baxter died of his disease hours before the court handed down its ruling.

The state Supreme Court is now taking up an appeal to Baxter v. Montana. If the high court upholds the lower court ruling, Montana will become the third state in the nation to legalize assisted suicide, following Oregon and Washington.

Dr. Mark Mostert, adviser to the United Nations and director of the Institute for Disability and Bioethics at Regent University, is concerned what could happen if more states follow suit. If assisted suicide is recognized as a legal medical option, he says, people may start using it to avoid providing costly end-of-life care or other expensive medical treatments.

“We only have finite resources to serve people in this country, we will never have enough to give everybody everything, so the question is how do we allocate resources and why,” he said. “It’s easy to imagine people will be tempted to push for assisted suicide as medical intervention and a way of saving money. I don’t think it’s some kind of sinister conspiracy to say that once you have that in place, and limited resources, the temptations will come.”

AARP competitor

A conservative alternative to the AARP has seen a spike in membership over the past month that it says is due to concerns about AARP’s position on President Obama’s favored health care reforms.

The American Seniors Association has aggressively sought to flip AARP members to their group. It’s running a promotion now to give new members a two-year membership for the price of one if a ripped-up AARP card is submitted with the application. And ASA is happy with the results so far. Since running the promotion, which started in August, they’ve gained 12,000 new members.

“The ultraliberal AARP has sold out to the White House so they can sell insurance and reap profits under an Obamacare plan - even though its leaders shamelessly claim that they don’t specifically ‘endorse’ any particular bill,” ASA President Stuart Barton said in a statement. “At one recent AARP meeting, the moderator shut off the microphone to stifle Obamacare questions and concerns. That speaks volumes. It underscores why the AARP is losing so many members, why ASA is getting so many torn-up AARP cards in our mail and why our new group’s membership is growing every day.”

What Schultz thinks

MSNBC personality Ed Schultz, who hosts “The Ed Show” at 6 p.m. weekdays told his viewers he thinks Jesus would be in favor of giving Americans a public insurance option.

“I have been referring to the health care reform deal as the real moral issue of our time,” Mr. Schultz said in the beginning of an interview with the Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that aired Thursday. “I believe Jesus would vote ‘yes’ for a public option, but some Bible thumpers don’t see me eye to eye on this one.”

Mr. Perkins politely reminded Mr. Schultz liberals should be careful engaging in the “selective lifting of Scriptures of the teachings of Jesus, like from Matthew Chapter 25 that Al Gore used over the weekend that are actually teachings to the church and to fellow Christian followers of Jesus to care for others.”

“I’m thankful that that has historically been the view, because it was churches and religious people who established the hospitals in this country,” Mr. Perkins said. “We do have an obligation to care for the poor. But it’s not the government’s obligation.”

This isn’t the first time Mr. Schultz has invoked Jesus in the health care debate. In an Aug. 13 program, he said Christian leaders like Rick Warren needed to “step up.”

“These Christian leaders need to get engaged and support a Christian president on the public option in providing health care for all Americans,” he said. “Isn’t it the Christian thing to do? Their silence is deafening. When Jesus walked the face of the Earth he was feeding the hungry, he was clothing the poor and healing the sick. He didn’t ask anybody for their health insurance card and he didn’t heal anybody for profit. Yet, we hear nothing from the Christian leadership in this country on health care reform and the moral obligation we face as a nation to address this issue.”

Changing Levis

The juicy gossip Levi Johnston dished out in a Vanity Fair tell-all about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (his ex-girlfriend’s mother and grandmother to his child) sure sounded different from what he was saying about her earlier this year, when he spoke of her amicably.

In a spread titled “Me and Mrs. Palin,” Mr. Johnston said the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee pressured him to let her adopt the child he had with her daughter, Bristol, and described her as a greedy, lazy prima donna. Also, according to him, Mrs. Palin was never an experienced hunter or fisher and sought his help in learning how to shoot a gun and sent him out to fetch Taco Bell Crunchwraps for her, among other things.

“Sarah was sad for a while,” he said. “She walked around the house pouting. I had assumed she was going to go back to her job as governor, but a week or two after she got back she started talking about how nice it would be to quit and write a book or do a show and make ‘triple the money.’ It was, to her, ‘not as hard.’ She would blatantly say, ‘I want to just take this money and quit being governor.’ ”

How things change.

In an interview with “Good Morning America” in March, well after the campaign was over, he said got along well with the Palins. “They’re good people,” he said. “They don’t push me, you know. They kind of - they don’t really tell us what to do, they don’t tell us, you know, they’re good people. So I like ‘em.”

Vanity Fair also recorded video of Mr. Johnston getting decked out in designer duds for an elaborate photo shoot to go with the story where he was assisted by his “right-hand man” Tank Jones, a massive, intimidating-looking fellow who once worked as an private investigator in Anchorage but now travels with Mr. Johnston.

In it, they joked about posing for Playgirl next, which wouldn’t be that much of a stretch considering Mr. Johnston’s recent appearance on the red carpet with self-described “D-list” comedienne Kathy Griffin for the Fox Teen Choice Awards. There, he held hands with her and smooched the much older woman on the cheek for the paparazzi. Mr. Johnston has also made appearances on “The Tyra Banks Show” and “Larry King Live” as part of his latest round of media outings.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter @washingtontimes.com.

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