The cruel irony of tough ‘justice’

The only good death is one for which you’re ready. This suffocating, ass-kicking humidity is only half of it. I see dead people — and shiny, angry people holding arms. It’s enough to make you lose your religion. But maybe if we cussed more, we’d kill less. No? Why are so many of us acting like savage beasts that have been caged for so long? We have lost our humanity? I keep asking Donald Trump, “Why are you so angry?” But I know the answer. He’s as wrong as he is rich. Smart people call him out and he squeals like a stuck pig. Poor little rich idiot. On Saturday, he disputed the heroism of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a naval aviator who in 1967 survived the USS Forrestal fire and was later shot down over Hanoi to spend five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war. “I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said. For McCain’s sacrifice as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Trump called him a loser. “He let us down,” he said. Unsurprisingly, Trump, man-child of privilege, doesn’t understand that heroism is commensurate with mortal risk, sacrifice and suffering. Some veterans get a medal for a shrapnel wound or missing limb. For a lost marriage or mind disorder, they may get therapy to manage the war at home against asshats like Trump who abuse their freedoms.

John McCain is my hero because he has every excuse to be bitter but instead remains a happy warrior, still serving his country and shaking off the haters. People like him inspire me to survive the humidity and homicide. February fourth will mark the 10th anniversary of my quadruple bypass. Every annual checkup, I expect my cryptic cardiologist to fire me. Instead he says, “The Force is very strong with you and your carotids are clear,” — which I interpret to mean, “You’re still healthy enough to get aroused and I’ll see you next year.”

Every day is a gift — and a struggle to resist the allure of Marie Callender’s pot pies (a.k.a. artery crust). Existential fear has faded, but I’m still motivated by love and gratitude for the surgical team and nurses who saved me — and the president, VP, congressman and governor who fought hard for affordable health insurance. VIPs want me to live, which makes me feel safe and valued. Mitch’s “let them eat bankruptcy” policy wasn’t working for les miserables.

My bucket list runneth over. Life assumes exponential meaning and purpose after a near-death experience. One of my priorities is to write that book. “How to Beat the Grim Reaper Like a Circus Monkey” is my working title. If I live to finish it, I’ll explain how to make your soul your best friend and time your ally. (Hint: the alternative will scare the snot out of you!) But this is about love trumping fear. To the extent you’re an agent of fear, you shall roast like a pig on a spit here on Earth. So be very afraid to fearmonger, my posse.

In case I don’t live to finish my masterpiece, I want to recognize a few luminaries who’ve inspired me lately. Barry, even as a lame duck, you’re building your legacy as The Great Equalizer. Now that we’re beyond, “You can’t afford to live” and skim-milk marriage you’re breaking into prison to expose the hypocrisy of “How much justice can you afford?” Legal outcomes should be indifferent to class, but folks with resources buy a measure of mercy. With liberty and justice for cash or credit?

We’re finally getting clarity on the madness of abusing non-violent drug addicts with hard time instead of treatment. Amid our fury to teach “them” a lesson, we’ve wasted vast fortunes to radicalize the sick. Compassion is gaining bipartisan momentum as we fathom the tax of our non-compassion. Just as kindness has collateral benefits, cruelty has collateral costs.

It’s time to debunk the myth of “tough on crime.” Unduly harsh, mandatory-minimum sentencing, which trivializes judicial discretion and measured remedies, has been tougher on taxpayers. The longer able-bodied taxpayers languish, the more likely they are to become lifelong tax burdens. GLI, in its wisdom, recognizes the vitality of expungement in the long-term wellness of the workforce.

Finally Marcia Seiler of Louisville will retire as interim director of the Legislative Research Commission at the end of this month. She brought the perfect skill set to the agency, in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, to restore workers’ sense of safety and value. She is irreplaceable, beloved and mercifully unburdened of the war between the chambers. Thank you for your stellar service.