10 May 2018: Suicide should be painless
Renowned Australian botanist and ecologist, David Goodall, arrived in Switzerland earlier last week in order to end his life in one of the few countries in the world where assisted suicide is legal for the non-terminally ill. While Goodall fell into that category, the man was so ancient, he made wrinkly old Mick Jagger look like Dorian Gray. For perspective:
- He was born 4 April 1914, four months before the start of World War One.
- In 1944, more than a year before the end of World War Two, he was 30 years old.
- In 1963, when 46-year-old JFK was assassinated, he was almost 50 (my age today).
- He was pushing 90 when the 9/11 attacks occurred almost 17 years ago.
- Last week, he was four years older than a century.
You get the idea. You may even marvel at how cool it would be to defy mortality and survive that long. Perhaps not, though. For many who reach that age and beyond, your friends have been dead for decades. Same for your spouse (which admittedly may, in some cases, be cause for celebration). And if that were not a deep enough well of loneliness, your emotional mutilation goes into hyperdrive when, through the fog of advanced age, you suddenly realize your kids are also dead. Little solace is found in your navel-gazing grandkids, so freaked out by their own middle age they barely have time to check your pulse when they breeze through the nursing home for door-spinning, will-verifying visits. Even less in your great-grandkids, spotty High Schoolers who, in the rare instances they come to see you, amuse themselves by comparing images of you with unrecognizable petrified fossils on Snapchat.
In Goodall’s case, he retired at age 65 and mostly enjoyed life for the next 30 years. However, since age 94, afflicted by steadily deteriorating eyesight and mobility, he has wanted to die. He could barely make out the faces of his 12 grandchildren and was entirely wheelchair-bound. After failing to take his own life a few weeks ago, here’s how he heart-wrenchingly summed up his quality of life: “At my age, I get up in the morning. I eat breakfast. And then I just sit until lunchtime. Then I have a bit of lunch and just sit. What’s the use of that?” What, indeed. Now, thanks to GoFundMe assistance raised by Exit International,* Goodall finally got relief at a Basel clinic today, where he personally administered a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital.
Goodall had lamented that most euthanasia legislation, in the few jurisdictions that have implemented it, only applies to “assisted dying” for terminally ill patients. For the past 20 years he strongly advocated the Exit International mandate that all competent adults, regardless of age or terminal illness, have a right to end their life peacefully, in dignity, and without requiring permission from the medical community. The idea is that suicide needn’t be so painful for those among us who are in such unbearable pain, either physical or psychological/emotional, they really do feel a burning imperative to leave us irrespective of the slick wake of grief they will leave behind upon departure.
This resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Five and a half years ago, I received a devastating phone-dropping text message at work informing me that my dear friend of over 20 years, Annie, age 42, had ended her life in New York City the night before. She had been ravaged by unbridled depression her whole life and, like Goodall, had attempted suicide once before. Nevertheless, she tirelessly battled this soul-withering disease, from all variety of pharmacological cocktails to admitting herself to hospital to be tortured for months on end with electroshock therapy that left half her life’s memories burnt to cinders. I stayed at her Queens apartment (which, to her delight, I called the Cuckoo’s Nest) on a visit to NY just a few months before she died, her haunted eyes always searching mine through her tinted bug glasses. I was used to this and was completely oblivious to how close to the end of all hope she was.
If only the option had been available to her to end her intolerable suffering with dignity rather than slowly choking to death in a closet. In the dark. Terrified. And utterly alone.
*See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exit_International and support the legalization of assisted suicide in your jurisdiction.
13 May 2018: Another week of assholery in the dock for Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump
Having wiped away his crocodile tears over last February’s mass school shooting in Florida, the T-in-C delivered a dutifully balls-licking address to the gun-worshipping National Rifle Association (now headed by Oliver North – aiieeeee!), coffin-black owner and overlord of the Republican Party. During the course of it, he incensed the U.K. by arguing the “war zone” knife violence there would be curbed under looser gun control laws, presumably because then everyone would be afforded the civilized option of shooting each other to death rather than hacking each other to pieces. France was equally apoplectic over his infantile mimicking of the gunmen during the 2015 Bataclan theatre massacre in Paris, again arguing the tragedy could have been averted had the crowds been armed to the teeth with biiig bootiful faaaaat guns. The reality is that violent crime rates in the U.K. and France are a miniscule fraction of those in the U.S. (e.g. where 47 children and teenagers are shot each day….)
Two days later, delivering another kick in the nuts to European allies just for good measure, the T-in-C yanked the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. His speech rationalizing the decision was chock-full of lies, the most glaring being the false claims that Iran is still able to enrich weapons-grade uranium and would be “on the verge of nuclear breakout in just a short period of time” due to the deal’s sunset provisions. The real reason, beyond that he’s now surrounded by Mephistophelean Iran hawks who back regime change, is that the Iran deal is the signature foreign policy achievement of the nigger… er, that is, Barack Obama, his enlightened and progressive predecessor who eviscerated him in eye-watering fashion at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The point is that the T-in-C is unflinching in his ability to stare straight into the cameras and flatly lie, whether to push his vendetta-driven agenda against Obama, to appease the NRA, or wriggle out from all of the personal accusations forever swirling around him.
Regarding the latter, also last week the barking mad Rudy Giuliani continued to put his foot in it as the newest member of the T-in-C’s battalion of attorneys. Contradicting months of vehement denials from the T-and-C and White House officials, Giuliani stated unequivocally that Trump repaid his attorney Michael Cohen the $130,000 in hush money handed over to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election to keep it zipped over an alleged affair. He went even further by stating that Cohen could have paid off other women too! It’s little wonder the T-in-C hasn’t rushed to engage the services of yet another attorney to pay lip-flapping Giuliani wads of hush money in exchange for a solemn promise to never be interviewed again. Instead, the T-in-C grumpily spat that Giuliani “will get his facts straight” eventually. Translation: “Giuliani hasn’t yet fully orientated himself to the whirlpool of lies around this place”. Even more remarkably, Giuliani then went onto claim that, get this, he’s “focused on the law more than the facts right now…” Wow! Double wow!
Blatant Orwellian disregard for objectively verifiable facts has been the hallmark of this presidency from Day 1 when Kellyanne Conway (doesn’t she somehow remind you of a creepy Picasso?), defending the White House’s visually disprovable claims of “record” crowd sizes on inauguration day, notoriously coined the term “alternative facts”. Last week it came to light, as a surprise to absolutely no one, that the T-in-C had personally dictated to his doctor his 2015 “full medical report” which, to howls of derisive laughter, farcically concluded: “If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Any normal political leader would be run out of town on a rail over Stormy Daniels and the fake doctor’s note alone. Not the T-in-C. The Washington Post has determined that this president has openly lied well over 3,000 times since being elected. Mind, these are only the wholly disprovable claims and statements and do not include the endless torrent of exaggerations, distortions, and misleading half-truths.
How does he do it? It is human nature to lie. We’ve all done it to some degree when fessing up would unleash unpleasant consequences (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” because blowjobs don’t count, right? Right?!) But lifelong pathological liars, most of whom are also narcissists, are almost always undone and fall hard when they inevitably get caught up in the web of lies they have spun for themselves. Almost. Delighting his base, the T-in-C forever dismisses the fact-checkers as “fake news” cooked up by the mainstream liberal media. Worse, he is almost rewarded for his deceitfulness. Undoubtedly, a typical Trump supporter would applaud his dictation of his own medical report on the grounds that it is evidence of his unassailable self-confidence. I can only conclude that this is the case for every brazen example of the T-in-C divining his own truth. Probably the only way his dishonesty will undo him is if he lies under oath. So, cross your fingers he blows off the advice of his enablers yet again and agrees to a sit-down with Robert Mueller.
As troubling as all this is, what irks and rattles me is that as despicably dishonest as this president is, unlike virtually every other politician who has ever lived, he is doing his level best to make good on just about every single one of his Obama-hating campaign promises. Here are just a few:
- Gutting Obamacare (after all attempts at repeal failed in the House);
- Leaving the TPP Obama supported and declaring trade war on China;
- Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement Obama supported;
- Renegotiating or leaving NAFTA Obama supported;
- Leaving Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal;
- Massive tax cuts after Obama bankrupted Americans by raising taxes;
- Massive deregulation (especially all Obama era regulations);
- Massive military spending on armed forces Obama neglected;
- Curbing immigration, deporting illegal immigrants and building THE WALL on the Mexican border after Obama let in millions of criminals and rapists just like him;
- Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because Obama hated Netanyahu.
Not only is this president keeping his promises, I have the creeping feeling that by keeping his word and following through on his threats he could be teeing up some major policy wins. It’s quite likely NAFTA will be renegotiated to the greater advantage of the U.S. Same goes for the trade dispute with China and all the lesser players. And leaving the Iran deal has done nothing to make Kim Jong-un balk at the upcoming Summit in Singapore.* In fact, right after the T-in-C exited the Iran deal, North Korea announced it was going to blow up (yes, blow up!) its nuclear weapons test site. It also released three American prisoners. Why? Because when the T-in-C stood up in front of the ineffectual United Nations last September and bellowed if Little Rocket Man didn’t start toeing the line, he would “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”, Kim Jong-un had to burn his underpants afterwards. Here was a president, one with a much “bigger button” than his, he knew would “totally” keep that promise…
If this don’t-you-ever-fuck-with-me president can oversee the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, possibly even Korean reunification, that would be a monumental foreign policy achievement for the history books.
It begs the question: Could it be that lying about everything under the sun to numb the world to the truth while simultaneously keeping your promises is a brilliant political strategy?
After all, Hitler tried it once and came damn close to winning the whole shebang…
Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods in school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and a fool. ~ Plato
*Of course, just today North Korea is threatening to scuttle talks over the current joint war games between South Korea and the U.S. but that is likely typical passive-aggressive bluster that will subside once the “games” are concluded.