A few notes | Raucous Caucus | Tom Cushing | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

Local Blogs

Raucous Caucus

By Tom Cushing

E-mail Tom Cushing

About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

View all posts from Tom Cushing

A few notes

Uploaded: Sep 22, 2015
There's a Lot going on at the moment, with Papal and Presidential visits, debates and ongoing crises that all deserve attention. There's also a lot happening on my micro scale, so there will be no real epistle this week. In lieu thereof, I offer a few observations on other topics.

First, Tim's "Right to Die" Bill blog. I feel the need to counterpoint a few passages from his recent edition on the subject. He did write that 'reasonable minds may differ' on this subject, and mine does. First, this statement:

"For those who see nothing beyond life on this earth, ending pain and suffering is a noble goal. It's also an action that removes a loving Heavenly Father from the equation for those of us who believe that God creates all life and is sovereign."

It's not Tim's statement of his belief that concerns me – he's welcome to it, as are we all to our own. But it bothers me that his belief in the after-life is set forth as a reason to oppose the End of Life Options legislation.

You see, there is nothing in this proposal that commands Anything. It is in the very nature of "options" that they do not require, but merely allow an MD to legally assist a safeguarded patient to make the most fundamental decision and transition of his/her being. In this way, those of us fortunate to not be at that crossroads are currently, blessedly unaffected.

Accordingly, and in a way similar to the same-sex nups debate, those of us who are not involved should butt-out. It is the extension of one's own religious beliefs to others – indeed the infliction of those beliefs by way of public policy-- that is objectionable to me.

I will stay away from ecclesiastical inquiries like whether irredeemable suffering could be meaningful to a merciful deity, or whether such deity could Ever really be 'removed' from any human equation – it's enough for me to request folks who believe a particular thing not attempt to require everybody else to be governed by it.

Later, brother Tim turns to voting. "More voters for the sake of more voters might seem like a reasonable goal, but our state will be served much better if those who cast ballots are well informed." That's both a colossally demeaning shrug towards the fundamental right of citizens in a democracy, and a false dichotomy.

A "reasonable goal??" Are we not taught, rightly and from a tender age, that voting is an important civic function and duty? Do we not bemoan lack of participation in terms of low voter turnout – regardless of our political affiliations?

That statement sounds like a good start on an apologia for the despicable GOP efforts to make voting more difficult for folks who may not share the Party's philosophies. Those are transparent attempts to rig the ballot, in the name of addressing a putative voter fraud problem that demonstrably does.not.exist. It is also thoroughly disingenuous coming from someone comfortably ensconced in middle class-or-better circumstances, for whom such measures may appear doable and even "reasonable." No one is fooled.

Further, to pit 'more voters' against 'better informed voters' is a false choice. That is, unless 'better informed' is code for 'thinks like me.' Those 'informed electorate' arguments have a rich and sordid history in our democracy – recall the Oprah scene from the movie Selma?

Democracy stands for the proposition that the people decide. Period. Frankly, my own view is that if the GOP-as-currently-constituted Really relied on voters who understood the implications of their choices, it would be a fringe organization. So, be careful what you wish for, GOPers, and kindly trust the electorate.

In other news, a few further matters: first, have we finally found a poster-child for the cynical excesses of the US pharmaceutical industry? Meet Martin Shkreli, who heads Turing Pharmaceuticals (please) a fledgling drug company that owns … this pill called Daraprim. The young hedge-funder has taken a pill that's nearly twice his age, that costs about a sawbuck to produce, and formerly sold for $13.50 each, and hiked the price to an obscene $750/pill – overnight. That's a cool 5,000% increase.

The potion treats a debilitating illness called toxoplasmosis, caused by a parasite that preys on folks with compromised immune systems. My question is, if we can find a way to infuse it into Mr. Shkreli's water, might we rid ourselves of HIM?

The situation is hardly unique to Daraprim, as vulture investors have taken other, formerly cheap-as-dirt antibiotics like doxycycline, and skyrocketed them as well. "Doxy" used to cost $20 in 2013 for a bottle of 500 tablets, but by April, 2014, that price was $1,849! More on this issue later, but something's gotta change in the tension between life-saving and unregulated free markets.

And finally, after tiring of all the flatulent press coverage of the Republican debate, I'm left holding my nose. Not at the candidates' remarkably retrograde blusterings (this time – that'll come later) but at the process. Is this any way to cull a field, or choose a presidential candidate, much less a possible President? Best zingers? What is this, class clown nominations in these flavor-of-the-weak competitions?

There is simply no perspective, or seriousness as befits the process of choosing who may have a finger on The Button. Just awful. More on that later, too -- after they clear the room and I can breathe again.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Sep 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Thank you Tom, couldn't agree more. To Tim's statement "More voters for the sake of more voters might seem like a reasonable goal, but our state will be served much better if those who cast ballots are well informed."....if the current GOP circus is a reflection of "well-informed" voters, then we do deserve what we vote in. Is this really the best this country has to offer in terms of serious candidates who are ready and able to have opinions and debate issues in a way that actually demonstrates that they have thought the issue through rather than reducing the pageant to a series of snide, insulting sound-bites? Kinda hard to be 'well-informed' with the slop currently being served up.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm

The Republican debate was pathetic.

I have no interest in hearing more about the right to die. I like being alive and living on this beautiful planet. I wanna go deep sea fishing soon so that I can cook up a wonderful catch for my friends!

If folks wanna get married then get married. I don't care if somebody marries their pet rat...that kinda marriage is not likely to last anyways...

At age 73, I might consider donating an organ to somebody in need. However, I have conditions: not a right wing Republican; not a wealthy Nazi who's greedy and hateful; any race/ethnicity would be OK; perhaps donating my deceased body to UCSF medical school.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that the folks who are charging so much for life saving medications be imprisoned with Bernie Madoff and his buds.

As for il papa, I hope there is a sudden blizzard and he gets stuck indoors.
hahahahahaha...all the way home!

Posted by anony, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Web Link

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

When a Catholic commits suicide, that soul does not go to hell, that soul does not go to heaven. That soul remains in Purgatory for eternity.

Purgatory, in Roman Catholic Doctrine, is a place of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners, who are expiating sins before going to heaven.

The Catholic Church teaches, that the body must endure pain and suffering, to continue life, until he, God, is ready to end the life.

Most recent example of this pain and suffering would be Pope Saint John Paul II. (May 18, 1920 - April 02, 2005)

Right to die law is suicide, same as one taking one's own life deliberately.

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Sep 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm

@Michael Austin,

Weird old superstitions have no place in our laws.

It is sad people still actually believe such nonsense, really sad. Sad and ridiculous.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Sep 23, 2015 at 7:09 am

I want to tread carefully here.

Fellas, to be clear, my concern is not doctrinal, or that many folks believe it. My objection is the translation of those religious beliefs into laws that are enforced against non-believers and everybody else. Nobody, Catholic or otherwise, is required to pursue the end-of-life options provided in the bill.

If the concern is that, for Catholic believers, it presents them a trade of current suffering for eternal purgatory, I think they would want to be free to consider it, but I don't confront that particular dilemma.

Also, Michael -- on the surface, it sounds like assured purgatory is a bit of a step-up for some serious sinners. I'm guessing I don't see the complete picture.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 23, 2015 at 9:09 am

the way i heard it is that "purgatory" is the figment of somebody's imagination by the name of newton: Web Link

i rest my case...

Posted by What It Is, a resident of Diablo,
on Sep 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Meanwhile... Russian planes and military hardware pour into Syria while BO does nothing. What a weakling. Yet, little Tommy bashes bashes those who would stand up to the tyrant.

Meanwhile... Lil' Hillary is digging herself a fine political grave. Tell the truth dear heart.

So, be careful what you wish for, Dems, and kindly trust the electorate.

Posted by Tom Cushing , a resident of another community,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 8:53 am

Michael: I'm interested your further thoughts on that last line in your comment: "Right to die law is suicide, same as one taking one's own life deliberately."

It seems to me that those who take control of their imminent death from other causes present a very Different picture from those who choose to terminate their existence that otherwise had no 'natural' end in-sight. The former don't want to die, but they acknowledge its close inevitability and may choose to avoid their own suffering and that of their loved ones who helplessly keep vigil. There can be selflessness and 'nobility' in that; elements that are usually absent in actual 'suicide.' Perhaps end-of-life optioners need a different label?

What do you think?

What it is: there's a pattern in the responses to these blogs: those that try to be the Most personally demeaning generally have the Least actual content -- as if the personal affront is sufficient. It's not. "Little Tommy" is pretty funny, as humble scribe has also been called fat and old by others -- as if any of that stuff matters. It doesn't.

Ideas matter.

Now, apparently you have The Answer for the Syrian debacle -- one that we may hope is a little more detailed than "standing up to the tyrant." I, for one, await your white paper on the subject, and promise to try to pass it along to my friends Bo and Li'l H.

Posted by Rick, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:10 am

Tom, the only pattern I see, referring to your angst about another comment, is that you continue to bash the those oppsed to the left. Let's take Syria as a fine example.

I was never for going into Iraq in the first place. George Bush made a huge mistake. However, when Obama withrew our American military might from this region, it allowed the fanatics, namely ISIS, to take over. And now, we have a situation not seen since WWII with the immigrant problem in Europe. Obama not have a hand in this? Me thinks so.

On the domestic front, the president has a knack for getting involved in domestic issues based on race. Take for example the Professor Henry Louise Gates incident. This appeared to be an incident where maybe both the professor and police officer were wrong. However, Obama stepped in and made the whole a race issue. And least we not forget about Ferguson.

Obama has not appealed to the masses the way he thought he would. His approval rating is a direct reflection of his poor leadership. You bash GOP hopefuls that want to strengthen America, not leave it in the lurch like Obama has. And here is the best part, although I did not vote for Obama, I wanted him to do well because he is the commander in chief of this great nation. But now, I see him as an idealist, someone who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Hi Rick -- I'm guessing that it won't surprise you that I disagree about the pattern. Your comment is a case-in-point -- no personal disparagement in it, just an honest discussion and difference of opinion on the merits. Refreshing and much appreciated.

There are no bones or apologies to be made about this blog having a point-of-view. And I'm no fan of the current Syria policy, either -- I just find "what's" prescription for an incredibly complex situation to be incredibly simplistic chest-thumpery. Obama's current approach is not working, and I agree that he was dealt a crappy hand in the flow of mideast events.

I have no idea what Will work, do you? -- certainly not American boots. I'm guessing that the stalemate and abject suffering will continue until The World can unite to bring pressure to bear on the combatants -- and I'm not suggesting that's likely. That said, Europe and the other Arab states need to step-up as the non-Syria places-most-impacted. Again, I do not know what form that might take.

As to the Obama presidency, first, does it surprise you that a black man would see the world through different lenses -- have different priorities -- than others who do not share his heritage? We ALL have our own lenses in this increasingly diverse America. Second, if you have to harken back to the Beer Summit for an example, isn't that an indication that race is not really such a major theme? I think he found it impossible to work with a Congress that refused to work with him, so he set about after 2010 to make change across a wide spectrum of issues where he clearly has Executive Authority to act. Not surprising that's unpopular with his ideological enemies, but not in my view, a Constitutional crisis.

And more recently, I think significant attention has been focussed on matters that have racial impacts -- like sentencing reform. And some of those were thrust-upon him -- like Charleston. I do not see race as much of a factor in the minimum wage, FLSA reform or education financing reform -- politics sure, but not race. My two cents.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I just saw your question.
"Right to die law is suicide".

Catholic teachings are, live life as clean and healthy within your environment, always seeking to improve your environment, your self and help others improve themselves. At the end of life return our body to God, no matter if it is destroyed, in war, famine, fire or decease, he wants it back.

Ending life before its natural end is suicide, and is not accepted by the Catholic church.

I provided an example of Pope Saint John Paul II.
He survived an assassination attempt early after becoming Pope, he suffered enormously in the last two years of his life. He endured until his body gave up the fight.

Right to die law violates Catholic teachings and would be considered suicide, no matter that Government Law states it is okay. In the Catholic church it is suicide.

Posted by Mike, a resident of another community,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Here are my two cents...

Michael Austin you are correct. But why stop there. What about the videos regarding Planned Parenthood? You know, the videos which doctors from Planned Parenthood talk nonchalantly about harvesting tissue from infants. Yet, Obama insists on funding this organization. But the big question is, why would the Pope want to meet with a president who funds Planned Parenthood?

I would love to hear Cushing defend Obama on this one.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Michael: I intended to ask what YOU think -- whether you see any essential difference between those two kinds of death. Sorry to put you on the spot, non-anonymous one, but is it enough for you to just be told what to think, or is there a role for independent judgment?

Mike: easy. A wise man* once said: "... there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners."

I believe he might counsel you to temper your righteous zeal.

PP provides essential services to millions of women and men in this country, 3% of whom seek to terminate pregnancies. Not one dime of tax money goes to that 3%. All of it goes to those other services. You may abhor abortion and the use of fetal tissue (and all the life-saving advances that have come from it), and that's okay with me. So don't contribute, but also don't deny those millions their needed healthcare -- including contraception that prevents pregnancies and so reduces abortions, and other critical care.

* That wise man was Pope Francis, this morning.

Posted by Mike, a resident of another community,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:29 pm

Ineresting. Never have I witnessed someone use the Pope as his shield to gloss over what is true. But... Twisters of truth have their moments too, I guess.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

So, does organ donation (so that others might live) also violate Catholic teachings?

Those who donate are not giving their full bodies back to God when they die. But, they are helping others. ......Oh, how to solve these contradictory obligations?

Or are the patients who accept an organ donation violating Catholic teachings because they are prolonging their lives beyond God's "natural end" for it?.......or, maybe God intended organ donors to donate so that the recipients might live (longer).

No easy answers, huh, when trying to determine God's will?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:02 am

[deleted for irrelevance]

I know of all the many good deeds done by Christians, Catholics included. Thank you.

[deleted for repetitive irrelevance]

Suicide? As I recall, "Jesus" volunteered to have himself nailed to a cross until dead. Nobody asked for him to be tortured for others. And, I don't know anybody who benefited from his death? Just like nobody benefited from the death of Robin Williams, nobody benefited from the suicide of the J. Unless they did and I don't know about it?

[deleted for repetitive irrelevance -- in the future this kind of post will be deleted in its entirety. I am not the editor.]

So why squawk about PP and make it a political issue now? All of the R candidates for president have committed their own crimes. Rather than meander, i rest my case...just like in a court of law...ta-ta...cholo pololo mololo


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

All Catholics are their own thinkers. They do not do what they are told. They are provided by way of Catholic teachings how to conduct themselves. Most all Catholics are baptized as infants when they are a few days old.

They are raised by their parents in the teachings of the Catholic church. When they are adults, they are free to continue their faith in the church, or they are free to become non practicing Catholics.

There is no brain washing, one develops faith and devotion to the church as one grows and learns.

A good example are the Catholic Nuns. They consider themselves to be married to God. Their devotion, their love, their loyalty to God, and dedicating their lives in the service to mankind is first and foremost.

By way of your questions, I guess you are a non believer. If you are, that is your choice. China has one billion non believers, you are not alone. Because there are non believers in this world, should not cause pause or distain for the believers.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Thanks Michael. As I've indicated before hereabouts, I'm a UU. To some people, that's the same as a non-believer, but not to me.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from DanvilleSanRamon.com sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 3,037 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,449 views

Community foundations want to help local journalism survive
By Tim Hunt | 7 comments | 725 views