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September 24, 2006

El Diablo o El Idioto?

Americans from Bill Maher and Jon Stewart to the autonoms on Fox “News” to our Federal government have condemned Venezuelan honcho Hugo Chavez for calling George Bush “El Diablo.” Nothing new here: in the past, Chavez has compared our national religion, capitalism, to Count Dracula, Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler… but he then added that Capitalists are much worse than those monsters. He’s sure got a gift for metaphor, I’ll say that.

Some have gone so far as to call Chavez a dictator. That’s amusing, as the man was democratically elected to his position in a ballot that was a lot less suspicious than the one under which Bush seized power.

When it comes to name calling, “El Diablo” is pretty tame. It sure beats what religious right leader Pat Robertson said about Chavez one year ago. Pat Robertson demanded the assassination of Hugo Chavez by the United States government. A lot of Americans are concerned about the influence the religious right has over the Bush administration; can we blame foreigners who form their opinions of us through our actions and our threats for taking this seriously? It’s not as though Bush and his minions have gone to overwhelming distances to suck up to Robertson’s legions.

What’s more offensive: calling American’s Idiot-In-Chief “el Diablo” or calling for the assassination of the democratically elected head of Venezuela? Which one constitutes the greater threat?

Ever overly polite, the liberals said Chavez was out of order for doing so on American soil. Of course, they are wrong: the United Nations is not American soil. It is like the Latverian Embassy, except Doctor Doom is on the outside. I believe both Maher and Stewart have called Bush an idiot, as in the gagline “it takes a village idiot.”

Chavez had launched a program to provide cheap heating fuel to disadvantaged Americans, particularly those in the troubled New York area. He offered massive relief to New Orleans when George Bush and the United States of America were sitting on their asses in panicked denial, an offer rejected by Bush.

Venezuela is our fourth largest supplier of oil. They operate in the United States under the name “Citgo,” one of the least expensive of the major gasoline retailers. As such, they provide massive competition to the interests of Exxon and Haliburton.


Posted by Mike Gold at 12:28 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

September 15, 2006

The Will Not To Live

Blogs are supposed to be personal, and this entry is going to be more personal and a bit less political than usual. I just got back from my father’s funeral. I knew when I saw him last month at his 90th birthday celebration that it likely would be his last, and I’m glad to say he was happy and content. So when my brother-in-law called me on Sunday, September 3rd to tell me Dad was on life support, I wasn’t surprised. Within hours my wife Linda and daughter Adriane and I were on the road to Detroit, where he and my mother had moved to be in an assisted living center near my sister and her extended family.

We arrived the following morning. He had a Do Not Resuscitate order, but the family did not want to remove the breathing tube until Linda, Adriane and I could get there, allowing us the privilege of saying goodbye and, perhaps, allowing my father the opportunity to know his whole family was by his side.

I had steeled myself as best I could, but I was not prepared to see him wired up to the breathing machine and all the other high-tech gizmos. It was clear that my father had actually died the day before and was being kept “alive” only in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 sense of the word. He didn’t want that, and nor did my sister. Understandably, my mother was split on the issue but she quickly realized that he was in pain and discomfort. After talking with the doctors, we decided to honor his wishes and have the breathing tube removed the following morning.

After he was taken off the machines, my father was able to summon what little energy he had left to communicate his awareness of our presence. His last act was to acknowledge my mother’s kiss on the forehead with a loving smile. Within six hours of removing him from the machines, he died. Dad had a long and strong life, and if he had one legacy, it was his complete and absolute loving devotion to my mother. He had a good, respectable and honorable life that spanned from World War One through the Depression and the Holocaust to Iraq War Two.

Here’s the point. The decision to live – and therefore not to live – is one only you can make. Not your family, not your doctors, not even your spiritual counselors and certainly not anybody else’s shamen or gurus. It’s yours and yours alone. It’s probably your only truly inalienable right.

But only if you let people know. Given the society in which we live – one where ladder makers have to put a notice on the top step warning you that you might fall – you’ve got to do so in writing. One way or another, and there are more than just two. Personally, I don’t want to go out looking like Uncle Creepy at the scuba gear shop, but if you think you’ve got the miracle card in your deck of life, go ahead and draw for it with my blessing.

But get it down in writing. It’ll take a lot of guilt off of your family and friends, and you will have taken charge of the last thing you can take charge of.

There are a ton of Living Will forms online, some free, some not. Laws differ from state to state, and there are a ton of sundry considerations that you should work out before you start filling in forms. Google “living will” but you first might want to get some background. You might want to start with this bit from the University of Buffalo: http://wings.buffalo.edu/faculty/research/bioethics/lwill.html

Posted by Mike Gold at 04:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack