The Ailing King of Agitate

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A lonely lackey claims a throne:

A peasant traitor to the bone;

A peasant who’s impressed with gold;

A coward who pretends he’s bold. 

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The teeniest hands in all the lands;

The teeniest glands among the bands. 

The frailest ego ever found.

The smallest heart to ever pound.

 

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A shroom: Ka-boom! An ort of sorts.

The base proclaim his magic warts.

Eschews a fight that’s not a fix. 

The courts are clogged with crappy tricks.

 

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Now watch him crumble; watch him fold;

He’s frail and his tricks are old.

He’s flat and rancid as a toad

He’s stupidly squashed upon the road.

 

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He cannot think from A to B; 

Betrays his country easily.

Now Weenie’s caught; he can’t be taught.

He does not do coherent thought. 

 

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He’s too inept to fairly race.

Instead he hides behind his face,

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He whimpers; cries of “foul!” Instead.

 

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It’s he himself who’s truly rank

A Fraud as big as Deutsche Bank.

He sucks the wealth of everyone.

But now at last his time is done.

 

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He’s needless slain a host of lives

To compensate, he feints and dives.

He rants and raves; corrupts; depraves.

He likes to rape the younger slaves.

 

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His daddy never showed him love;

Kowtows to every Putin shove.

He felt a quiver and a thrill.

When Putin ordered him to kill. 

 

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But soon the people will arise

Vote out the Vichy Putinate!

The People all with open eyes

Will oust the King of Agitate.

 

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The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Trumpism is a New Religion

Essays on America: Wednesday

Winning by Cheating is Losing

Unmasked

Index of Patterns — Best Practices in Collaboration

Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

(A myth about what happens when insatiable greed is combined with lying).

Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

(A series of tales that features ethical, empathic, & effective leadership in times of crisis and uncertainty. Our tale begins as the leader of the Veritas seeks an eventual successor so she devises a series of seven trials that mainly test empathy.)

 

 

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

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Everyone I met as a child had a vivid, or at least a willing, imagination. 

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Let’s see how yours is doing. Imagine that you are in a role-playing game. The goal of the game is to acquire as much money as possible. You are cast into two very unusual roles. On the one hand, you are a player competing against a large number of other players.

On the other hand, you are also the banker/moderator of the game. You handle all the money and no-one else can see or double check on the amounts. If any disputes arise among the players (including you) you and you alone are in charge of deciding the outcome.

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Now, let’s say the game begins. 

Do you see how you are guaranteed a win unless you restrain your power with ethical principles such as a sense of fair play?

Exactly. 

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Remember that the goal of the game is to acquire as much money as possible. Given that, when will enough be enough? At what level will you stop? When you have 50% of the wealth? 75%? 90%? 95%? Read the goal again.

The only thing that would prevent you would be your ethical principles.

If you have any.

Exactly. 

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Trumpism is a New Religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Unmasked

You Bet Your Life

Plans for us — some GRUesome

What about the Butter Dish?

Essays on America: Wednesday

The Update Problem

Essays on America: The Update Problem

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Things change. 

Sometimes, the external world changes. One day it’s sunny. The next day it pours. 

If you go outside on the sunny day and you enjoy it, that’s wonderful.
The next day, however, as I said, rain comes.
Sadly, you must go to the grocery store. 

You have a choice: You can be like Albert and take a look out the window at the rain and decide to wear a rain coat and take an umbrella.

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Or
You can be like Teeny and refuse to look out the window. Instead, you open up the refrigerator door and you look inside. “No rain! Good!”  And then, remembering how much fun it was to walk in the sunshine, you stride out the door confidently in your nice casual clothes and soon to be soggy sweater.

 

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I’m sure all of us, at one time or another, have played the part of Teeny. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we insist that: we’re not really getting any older/heavier/slower/thinner/more hooked/ etc. To be exhaustive would be exhausting because it’s a long list, but you get the idea.

Be Smart. Be like Albert. 

 

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There are more subtle forms of the update problem. 

Suppose that Albert and Teeny go to a speech by someone, let’s call him ConMan, who touts himself as an extremely successful entrepreneur and that, for a price, he can teach you to do the same. It all sounds quite interesting and plausible to both Albert and Teeny. They each send in a check for $50 to get their first set of training materials before they make a commitment for the $5000 investment which will allow them to eventually become millionaires.

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The next day, Albert and Teeny see a headline in the newspaper that says that ConMan is under indictment for mail fraud, copyright infringement, and running a pyramid scheme.

Albert turns to his friend and says, “Crap! We’ve been had!”

Teeny says, “Not so fast. Let’s hear his side of the story.” 

 

And sure enough, on the nightly news there were three stories about various unethical and criminal actions of the ConMan (involving a person, a man, a woman, a camera & a TV and by the way, isn’t that basically what you need for a porn film? Curious coincidence #422) .  And, then, ConMan appeared on TV and said, quite sincerely, “It’s all lies. It’s all just my enemies trying to take me down so that immigrants can come here and ruin everything and take everything and rape your wife and kick your dog and I’m a stable genius and you must ONLY listen to me and to NO-ONE else because I might have to kick them under the bus too. And many people, the best people, my people, the real people, the ones who send me contributions so I can keep this wonderful money-making machine we call CONMAN ENTERPRISES going and I want to share that wealth all that unimaginable wealth with all of YOU and that’s why you must do *whatever it takes* folks to keep me generating money for YOU.”

The station switches to a commercial break and Albert’s well practiced finger taps mute before a single lying phoneme spews out about the wonder drug that will at last cure the heartbreak of having to sleep every night. 

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Albert laughs and looks at Teeny. “Well, I guess that settles that!” 

Teeny says, “Yep. Just as I suspected. All fake news. He’s innocent.” 

After picking his jaw back up off the floor, Albert says, “WHAT? You can’t be serious! That was the most unconvincing nonsensical and irrelevant excuse or lie or whatever you want to call it that I’ve ever heard. He’s a self-serving ConMan.”

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Teeny scrunches up his face and says, “OKKK, but I’m still going to take his course and become a millionaire.” 

Albert shakes his head as though it had been a struck tuning fork. “WHAT?! What are you talking about? Don’t you understand? He doesn’t know anything about making real money. The only ‘business’ he’s in is making money off suckers like you and me. And, he’s going to jail for it!”

“Not if we can prevent it,” Teeny said.

Albert countered, “He was set to gyp us out of $5000! Why do you want to help him?”

 

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Teeny crossed his arms and literally said “Hmph!” as though he had been cast as a cartoon character in an early Bugs Bunny cartoon. Perhaps Leghorn the Chicken. Yeah, that works.

Anyway, Albert joined a class action suit to get his $50 back. 

Teeny was still looking to become a millionaire based on ConMan’s con so he sent another $5000 to the ConMan and joined a protest to free ConMan.

Teeny found out that ConMan was indeed a con man. But Teeny did not update his brain to the implications of that knowledge. Or, he found the update so painful that he decided he would just pretend not to know. 

Be smart. Be like Albert. 

 

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———————————————-

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

In case you missed the Bill Barr hearing, here is a slightly satirical summary. I say “slightly” and I long for the days when I could not have added that modifier.

https://petersironwood.com/2020/07/29/he-is-the-very-model-of-a-modern-consigliere-general/

 

If you have the courage, you could go beyond Albert and be more like John Lewis. Courage, strategically applied.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lewis_(civil_rights_leader)

He is the Very Model of a Modern Consigliere General

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{Satirical Impressions from the Consigliere General House hearing on July 28th, 2002.}  

Gym “I see no child abuse” Jordan: “Let the man answer the question! You brought him here to hear his answers. Let him answer!”

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House Member Who Still Believes In a Democratic Process: “OK, I will ask you again. Did you or did you not discuss with the President where you would deploy storm troopers to suppress the vote in blue states?” 

Bilious Barr: “Hmm. Discuss. Discuss. Well, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘discuss’ — there are many kinds of discussions. I don’t think discussing things is a crime. Not in my book. It’s a free country. A country is larger than a state but smaller than a continent. But still a lot bigger than a city. Well. Typically. You see, the Vatican is actually, in many ways, a country. But it is inside the city of Rome. Which is inside the country of Italy. Which is inside the continent of Europe. What was the question again? I know I’ve forgotten and hopefully so has most of the TV audience.” 

Member Who Still Believes In a Democratic Process: “Did you discuss with the President where you would deploy storm troopers to suppress the vote in blue states.” 

Bilious Barr: “Hmm. Is your time up yet? No? Ok, well, in that case, let’s discuss the word discuss. Or did you say ‘debate’? Because ‘discuss’ and ‘debate’ are similar but different.” 

Member Who Still Believes In a Democratic Process: “I reclaim my time. I ask you a simple question. Yes. Or no. Did you — or did you not discuss with President Trump the deployment of troops to suppress the vote.”

Bilious Barr: “I will not reveal the details of my discussions with the President. I might accidentally reveal important — you know — it could compromise the security of the country. Excuse me. Can I have a five minute break? I really am having trouble keeping a straight face here. Just let me go laugh for five minutes in the rest room and I can come back out here and lie and obfuscate a bit more. And — you know — keep up the “sincerely trying to help” face. 

Jerry Nadler: “We’re almost done. You need a break right now?” 

Bilious Barr: “Well. Yes. It will seem unseemly to laugh about national security but Jesus H. Christ, you’ve got a traitor in the White House, plain as day. I mean why the … why do you think Putin put him in the White House? So he could learn golf? I can’t talk about national security issues. I really need a break or I am going to fall down on the floor laughing. Trump’s about to be dictator and you are acting like we’re going to be all polite and ask and answer questions. Is your time up yet? Can I have a break? Just five minutes.” 

———————- (five minute break. To simulate that break, you could read this short story and return). ——- 

Plans for us some GRUsome

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Member Who Still Believes In a Democratic Process: “Did you discuss with the President sending troops to suppress the vote in November?” 

Bilious Barr: “November of this year? Did we discuss troop deployments in November? No. It’s only July. We haven’t discussed anything in November yet. Did you know that the days of the week are named primarily after pagan gods. I think we should change that. Wednesday, for instance, is much like “Wodin’s Day” or “Odin’s Day.” And yet we have a Christian nation, under the one true God so…”

“Reclaiming my time.” 

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Gym “It wasn’t my kids who were abused” Jordan: “Let the man finish the answer! You ask him a question but you don’t want to hear the answer!”  

Person Who Believed in a Democratic Process: “Did you or did you not discuss with President Trump, with regard to the upcoming election in November, deploying troops to suppress the vote?” 

Bilious Barr: “Well, that assumes we will have an election. That’s a hypothetical. I don’t really answer about hypotheticals. And I definitely don’t rat out on other traitors in the White House, so I think that pretty much falls outside the scope of the inquiry.” 

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Person Who Believed in a Democratic Process: “Did you talk with the President about deploying troops to suppress voter turnout?”

Bilious Barr: “When? Today? I haven’t even seen the President today.”

Person Who Believed in a Democratic Process: “Any time! It doesn’t matter when! Have you had discussions with the President about using troops to suppress voter turnout?” 

Bilious Barr: “It’s an election year. So, I’ve been in Cabinet meetings. And in the Cabinet meetings, we naturally discuss what are important problems for the country and how to solve them.” 

Democrat: “So what were the topics of important problems to solve? The pandemic? The economy? The Black Lives Matter movement? What?” 

Bilious Barr: “Did you know that police shot more white people last year than black people? That’s the score. Only 8 black people needlessly killed and 11 white people! Seems to me, there’s no evidence of racism in this country. Why would you think there is any racism?” 

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Democrat: “But… but black people are only 14% of the population!”

Bilious Barr: “That’s exactly my point. Why don’t we pay attention to the other 86%? What about them? The forgotten Americans. The poor, beleaguered white people who never get a break. If black people would just respect the police and not do stupid things like jog, or hang out, or walk out their front doors, or reach for their ID when the police demand to see their ID, or have roommates who own a gun, no-one would get hurt! By the way, have you ever tried to read a book that’s all black? No. I didn’t think so. You can’t even read the words, without the white space around the letters. I’m not prejudiced. I’m just stating facts.”

Democrat: “Let’s return to this question. Did you — or did you not — discuss with the President the deployment of troops or police or whatever to suppress the vote?” 

Bilious Barr: “I’m not sure what you mean by ‘whatever’. We certainly did not discuss the deployment of B-36 bombers or any of the carrier groups. But who can say about whether we discussed ‘whatever’? You know – that’s a pretty big category!  As I say, we talked about important things. Of course, the most important is the upcoming re-election and how to make sure that the results are secure.”

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Democrat: “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. There are 150,000 Americans dead. Science says it’s important to wear masks and to socially distance. The best way to let people vote safely would be to let everyone vote by mail. Yet, you’ve said, you’re against it. You claim there’s a chance of voter fraud if we have vote by mail.”

Bilious Barr: “Oh, yes. Substantial risk. Outsized risk. A virtual certainty. You know, other countries could easily print up ballots and forge signatures and the next thing you know, Putin would lose his re-election.”   

Democrat: “Putin?” 

Bilious Barr: “What about Putin?”

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Democrat: “You just said ‘Putin would lose his re-election.’” 

Bilious Barr: “I never said that.”

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Democrat: “Well, you did just say exactly that.”

Bilious Barr: “Exactly what? What are we talking about? I thought you asked me a question about how wonderful our great President is. He’s saved billions of American lives with his speedy and brilliant actions about the pandemic. OKKK?” 

Democrat: “My question is a simple one. Did you and the President discuss using troops or police to suppress the vote?” 

Bilious Barr: “I can’t answer the question because I’m not sure what the scope of the question is. Are you asking me about something we might have discussed in a cabinet meeting? Or, just an off-hand conversation? Are you talking about a phone call? If it’s a phone call, are you asking about a secure line or a mobile phone or — you know I have four different phones? And, also I have four different e-mails? My favorite is consigliere@us.gov but are you including e-mail in the scope of the question?” 

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Democrat: “I reclaim my time. It’s a very simple question….”

Gym ‘once you’ve covered up for a buddy’s sexual abuse, it’s easy to lie for Trump’ Jordan: “Let him answer the damned question!” 

Democrat: “Yes, by all means! Answer the damned question. Have you at any time in any place in any manner discussed using police or troops to suppress voter turnout?” 

Bilious Barr: “Turnout as in ballet? My wife’s a big fan. I don’t go very often. But it is amazing how much they can turn….did you know they put their feet parallel to each other but not … but they are pointed 180 degrees from each other. Amazing! I couldn’t do that. Could you?” 

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Democrat: “I reclaim my time. Did you discuss with the President using troops to suppress the vote?” 

Bilious Barr: “Hmmm.  ‘With’ is a problematic word, isn’t it?”

Democrat: “No, not really. Just answer the question.” 

Bilious Barr: “So, let’s say, hypothetically, we are discussing important business for America such as launching investigations into the President’s political opponents. And then, a phone call comes in. And it’s a alarmed phone call meaning it’s top priority. So, naturally the President puts it on speaker phone so we can all listen in. And a general on the phone is talking about troops moving in Russia. We hear the word ‘troops’ and then he says, ‘Won’t it be great when black people aren’t allowed to vote any more?’”

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Democrat: “Did he say that?”

“Bilious Barr: “Did he say what?” 

Democrat: “Just answer whether you talked with the President about voter suppression and using troops or police to accomplish that!” 

Jim “All bullies are cowards” Jordan: “Let him answer the question! I have never in my 355 years as Congressman ever seen anything so rude in all my life. Let the man answer! Let him answer. Let him answer! These proceedings are a farce. A hoax. A fake news. There’s no proof I saw him in the shower doing those things to those boys who probably liked it anyway. They were pals for God’s sake. It’s not like being queer you know. Just because guys get sweaty wrestling and then…”

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Jerry Nadler: “You are out of order. You are not recognized. The witness will answer the question.”

Bilious Barr: “Thank you. I have been trying to answer for a long time. I was pointing out the substantial irregularities and ambiguities with the word ‘with’ — honestly, we may outlaw that word after Putin’s re-election.”

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Democrat: “You said ‘Putin’ again.”  

Bilious Barr: “Don’t be ridiculous. I said no such thing. Anyway, we all call him Vlad the Bad. We never refer to him as Putin in our strategy meetings so I definitely wouldn’t have called Trump ‘Putin.’ You know, secretly, we all have our pet names for Trump. It’s so funny. I wish I could share them but — not now. Of course, we have to be careful he doesn’t overhear us. And, the best part is, Vlad the Bad’s in on it too. He has — well, frankly, his names are the nastiest, but never mind all that.”

Jerry Nadler: “I see our time is up. I’d like to thank the witness for his thorough display of the entire spectrum of lies, deceit, and misdirection. Any last comments from the Consigliere General?” 

Bilious Barr: “Nyet. Spasibo.” 

—————————————————-

The Truth Train 

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Trumpism is a New Religion

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

At Least he’s Our Monster

———————————————-

Purely Fictional Stories about a Child Sociopath: 

Donnie Plays Bull-Dazzle Man

Donnie Visits Granny

Donnie Gets a Hamster

Donnie Takes a Blue Ribbon in Spelling

Donnie Boy Plays Soldier Man

Donnie Boy Plays Captain Man

Donnie Gets his name on a Trophy

Donnie Lets his Brother Take the Fall

Trump Truth Treason

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E808CBB1-00E5-4E7A-B871-4DD07E410F51“Try the truth! Try the truth!
Forsooth, forsooth
I clearly say and loudly state:
All those lies — just let them abate.
Try the truth and you might find,
The truth is good for heart and mind!”

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“Go away you pesky fools,
Your real news hurts my orange head!
You count each death as really dead!
I like to fudge a bit instead!
Lies and cruelty are my tools!
I mix them up with bogus rules.” 

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“Would you try the truth today?
Would you taste the truth this day?
Tell the truth — just this once.
Try it Trump and you may see
Lies are for the cowardly.
Lies are for the little runts.
Heroes take the truthful way.”

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“I do not like the truth at all!
I would not tell it at a ball!
I would not tell it on a call!
I would not tell it to a doll!
I do not like the truth at all!
It makes my teeny hands go itchy.
It makes my suck-lips go all twitchy.
I do not like the truth at all!”

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“But try it once and you’ll discover
The truth means there’s no Cover-
Up and Down and Left and Right,
Let it all come out in shining Light!
You’ll be part of something great!
No need more to exaggerate.”

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“I do so hate the truth at dawn.
I do so hate the truth at dusk.
I hoard the corn and tout the husk.
I flash my flab as though it’s brawn.
I tell them all I’m as smart as a whip.
And fly on a magic crystal sailing ship.”

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“Yet, if you’d try the truth you might well see
That truth, my friend, would set you free!
Sharing truth allows humanity
To cure disease and mount the moon!
Without the truth, no-one learns.
Without the truth, everything burns.”

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“I hate the truth since I was born!
Give others husk; I’ll gorge on corn!
Give others poo while I watch porn!
Steal their wealth and kids with lies!
Rape the kids! A sweet surprise!
I believe Putin; not our own spies.”

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“Try the truth! For just for one hour.
You’ll find it’ll cure your cowardly cower.
You’ll find that you can learn from errors;
Improve; get better; leave more for your heirs.”

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“More? You’re nuts! That wouldn’t be wise!
My wealth is based entirely on lies!
I’ve never worked! No a day in my life.
Just ask my wife or my wife or my wife.”

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“Well Mr. Trump, if you won’t try the true,
You’ll be out of a job; even Pu-
Tin can’t rig the entire election.
Lies will spoil your climb to power!
Lies will ruin not only the garish Trump Tower,
But even the teeniest shroom of erection.”

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 ———————————

The Truth Train

Trumpism is a New Religion

The Pandemic Anti-Academic 

Happy Talk Lies

A Lot is Not a Little

It’s Just Tommy Being Tommy

Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

A Profound and Utter Failure

Essays on America: The Game

How did I get Here? 


 

The only “Them” that Counts is all of “US”

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Read history, folks.

Totalitarian regimes do this: they divide the citizens agains each other. Trump starts by trying to prevent Muslims from coming to America (unless, of course, they are Muslims from countries where he has financial interests).

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Then, he ignores the needs of Puerto Rico and kills 3000 American citizens with his ineptness and attempts to throw the business for rebuilding the infrastructure to a small inexperienced shell company.

Then, he cages kids and tears babies from their mothers because — after all — they are “illegals.” It is NOT illegal to come to the US border and ask for asylum! No-one IS an illegal. A person is a person. If you sped once and got a speeding ticket that doesn’t make you an “illegal” does it?

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The above are only a few examples. He has been working to divide Americans against each other ever since he got Putin office. Why? What “leader” does that? Who benefits?

Democrats don’t benefit. Republicans don’t benefit. Independents don’t benefit. POC don’t benefit. White people don’t benefit. Putin benefits!

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Trumputin has been trying to divide Americans against each other from day one of the Misadministration. If you let him break the law and ignore the courts when it comes to POC or immigrants or Muslims, you can be 100% sure that they will do the same for you no matter what your color or origin.

Once the rule of law no longer exists, what will prevent them from coming to your house and taking every damned thing they want?

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Nothing is the answer. And at that point, if you think you will be safe because you voted for Trump or wear a magic red MAGA hat or have an assault weapon — think again.

Remember: Hitler promised to restore Germany and do wonderful things. What actually happened? Tens of millions of people died — including many Germans. Hitler himself ended up committing suicide. Mussolini was beaten to death by an angry mob as was Caligula two millennia earlier.

Wake up, America!

Putin is having Trump use chemical and biological weapons against America’s own people.

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Trump is putting zero energy into getting re-elected. He’s too chicken to ever play by the rules or have a fair fight. Heel Spurs is such a coward that he won’t even fire people face to face. He’s such a coward he can’t even admit to making a mistake. He’s such a coward that he won’t ask women to have sex. He just grabs them. And, if they are 13 and he can beat them up, so much the better.

You will not benefit from a Trump dictatorship. He may give you the illusion that he will. But that’s all it is. An illusion. He’s a con man. There is no substance to him. There is nothing but a desperate, cowardly baby screaming that he must have all the pudding because he wants all the pudding. His GOP enablers have let him get away with bribery, theft, and now murder.

Murder? Surely, that’s an exaggeration, right?

Is it?

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What if you knew a bridge was out and you encouraged someone to drive that bridge and they plunged to their death?

That’s what months of lies and bad modeling has done — needlessly killed tens of thousands of Americans with more on the way.

Wake up.

Wake up.

Before it’s too late.

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—————————–
The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Absolute is not Just a Vodka

Where does your loyalty lie?

Trumpism is a New Religion

A Profound and Utter Failure

You Bet Your Life

What about the Butter Dish?

The Declaration of Interdependence

Author Page on Amazon

 

 

She Who Saves Many Lives

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She Who Saves Many Lives heard a familiar voice, as though from far away. I am dreaming, she realized. It is Tu-Swift. I wonder what he wants. Oh, of course. He wants me to bring Suze back to life. But I cannot do that. He knows that. Such a lovely dream. I must return. Such peace. So many flowers. There is a field of flowers. Wild roses, pink and white form hedges around the perimeter. And such lovely blue lupins. The happy white daisies. The bright sunflowers. You must see how beautiful it all is, Tu-Swift. But of course, he sees no such thing. His friend just died. I must rise from the dream now and give him my love. It seems so … difficult … to awake. It’s the fever. The red plague. Now Many Paths is talking too. What is she saying though? I must return to the dream. There, everything was easy…and beautiful. Understanding words is hard. Too hard. And understanding the meaning is harder still. And listening to the heart behind the meaning — the hope, the love, the fears — that is harder still. It is nearly time. Nearly time. But I must tell Many Paths something. And I must tell Tu-Swift something as well. Lids are such heavy things to lift. I never noticed that before. 

“Hello, Many Paths. Hello, Tu-Swift.” The old shaman sighed and thought: My voice sounds so weak. Just a few hours ago, or possibly a few days ago, I sounded strong. And, look at my old lady’s skin. A covering of tiny red mountains. That is not so pretty. 

Tu-Swift bent over her and said, “You’re awake! Good! Suze needs you! Many Paths cannot wake her! She needs a tonic from you or some magic or — I don’t know what! You must save her! Please!” 

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She Who Saves Many Lives looked at the face of Many Paths. The eyes of Many Paths held the answer that she already knew. She looked back to Tu-Swift. He knew as well. “I am so sorry, Tu-Swift. This red plague is not a good thing for us. Please back away from me. Don’t look at me like that. Of course, I still love you. While I was asleep, I recalled a story my mother told me long ago when I was a child much younger than you. Another plague came and people had to leave our village and go camp by themselves for a full moon. Those who stayed in the village almost all died, like Suze. Those who camped by themselves mostly lived. We must do the same. Stay back from the sick people. Even well people! Or you will get sick too. If two or three of us must talk, we must talk with a fire between us. Now, please, Tu-Swift, do not come close to me again, but you can go and make more of the healing tea for me. Leave it at the threshold and I’ll get it…or Many Paths may bring it to me. She’s just recovered. She won’t get sick again.” 

Many Paths looked down at She Who Saves Many Lives and gently murmured, “Rest, Mother. Save your energy.” 

The old Shaman smiled and spoke, “Yes, I will, but I may — I may soon join back with the soil from which the Great Tree of Life draws nourishment. There is something you must know. I need to … I had a dream. Perhaps I dreamt of the Forgotten Field of Flowers. Perhaps Not. But it was very beautiful and varied. And, it occurred to me that just as we who are among the Veritas all have something unique to contribute to the tribe, so too the various tribes have learned to adapt to various circumstances and therefore become expert in various things. This is the teaching of The Forgotten Field of Flowers, of course. That teaching is about people who may argue among the Veritas. But why limit it? Why not have all the Tribes come together and learn from each other?” 

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“Yes, as shown in The Battle of the Three Paths. In small. But are you saying include other tribes, even The ROI and the Z-Lotz? The Z-Lotz are treacherous! They steal children! That’s not even — that’s against life itself. And, they came — they may have brought the disease of red sores intentionally!”

“Yes. You cannot trust them. Not yet. But perhaps they will learn the value of truth from us and they could change. And, perhaps we can learn something from them. It doesn’t mean we have to steal children, or spread disease as they do.”

A silence grew between them. Many Paths held the old shaman’s hand. She could see that the Old One was drifting off to sleep so she held her hand and lay down beside her. Many Paths took deep calming breaths. She herself was not back to her full energy level so she let herself be lulled by the warm day into drowsiness. She listened to the sounds of her people at work outside. So many sick and unnecessarily so. It was hard to feel anything but contempt for the Z-Lotz who had brought them this disease. She wondered about Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes. What if they never returned? Perhaps they had been killed or taken captive. Maybe it was a mistake to even go there. As she usually did when she worried about Shadow Walker, she began to fiddle with the Seventh Ring of Empathy. She turned it this way and that. She put it on her finger and her eyelids grew heavy with sleep. 

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She glanced over at She Who Saves Many Lives. She could see the many lines in her wrinkled visage. There was history there, Many Paths realized. And in her form was written, not just her personal history, but the history of the people. And in her form was written, not just the history of the Veritas, but the history of all people, for surely they all did form one small branch of the great Tree of Life. Many Paths contemplated this branch. Most of her friends were on this small branch — She Who Saves Many Lives, Shadow Walker, Tu-Swift, Eagle Eyes, Fleet of Foot. But every daisy, every oak, every butterfly, they were all on and constituted that great Tree of Life. 

Many Paths listened to the beautiful haunting cooing of a mourning dove from somewhere outside. She wondered whether the dove also realized that they were from the same tree. If we are all of and make up the same tree, was it then possible, as She Who Saves Many Lives had hinted for different tribes to get along? Many Paths closed her eyes and pictured Shadow Walker. Having him away — that was hard — especially when there was no guarantee that he would return. She touched the Seventh Ring of Empath and traced the circle of metal around her finger. It calmed her and made her realize that the Tree itself was safe. So long as people of character like Shadow Walker did what they could, not only for themselves, but also for the Great Tree of Life itself, all would be well. Many Paths smiled. She knew in her heart that her friends would do what they could. Everyone’s path ended in this life. And yet, every path also led to other paths. A stream might dry up — even a lake — but water — water itself was plentiful. The path of paths went on forever. The water circled itself back into life. And the tree of life will be here long outlasting our individual lives, Many Paths realized. But this Tree of Life is not something separate from me, or from Shadow Walker or from Tu-Swift. We are all part of that Tree. In a way, dying was only an illusion. A tree doesn’t die, even in winter. It may lose all its leaves and look dead, but it is only dormant and waiting for another spring. None of us really dies. Still, I prefer him here, warm, in the pleasurable press of a warm live body. I will always have the memory, and there is that vast tree, The Tree of Life. That lasts forever. He is one of my favorite parts though. Yet, I feel as though he is alive. It could be illusion.

Many Paths jerked as her head began to fall with sleep and then she chuckled as an image flickered for a moment behind her eyes — an image of Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes sitting together on the throne of the Z-Lotz. She shook her head at that silliness then returned her mind back to the challenge that She Who Saves Many Lives had set for her: to bring all the tribes together. Was that possible? Or even desirable? A tree branches ever outwards. The branches don’t try to impale each other with thorns! Yet, Tu-Swift now feels as though he has been impaled. She Who Saves Many Lives is asleep. I will go find Tu-Swift and comfort him. Can the Z-Lotz really have brought this here intentionally? And can I meet with them; dialogue with them if they have? But if I cannot meet with them, are we doomed yet again to war and killing and hatred? Then, her thoughts returned to Tu-Swift. Tu-Swift is alive and hurting. I must go see him. I just need to rest my eyes for a moment, then, I will find him. 

Having concluded that, Many Paths fell into a deep sleep. 

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———————————————-

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

Author Page on Amazon.

Who are the Speakers for the Dead?

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With space-Alien violence, people all across the world are ri

pped from their worlds and taken to those special beds.

The COVID beds. 

And just as in the movie an alien presence is 

forced down their throat and in their 

head

Perhaps they wonder whether they

Will get a final say 

Departing to those left behind 

The wisdom of an old, yet un-befuddled mind.

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Of, if befuddled, who’s to say

Whether older wisdom may filter through 

To light a little (just a little), our path to a brighter day.

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Who are the Speakers for the Dead? 

What do they say? 

 

Perhaps they whisper one and all with the self-same silence of the lambs

The lambs led to slaughter from the King-Con Man of the Cowards. 

Supported by the most menial of the Blowhards. 

If they have no breath, 

If no-one speaks before their death, 

Then,

 

Who are the Speakers for the Dead? 

What do they say? 

 

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No-one can say. 

That’s kind of the whole point, don’t you see? 

Everyone is different. 

Everyone learns something different. 

Everyone has a piece of the puzzle laid before us growing ever larger till it will overwhelm

And when no-one will dare to grab the helm. 

And so these lives go silently 

Out of this life and into something else entirely.

 

Are we learning 

Through the burning 

And the yearning unfulfilled 

All the turning unwilled

That we are all:

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Leaves upon the Tree of Life. 

The Life of the Tree

Depends upon the health of every Leaf

And every Leaf 

Depends upon the Health of the entire Tree. 

Is that so hard to see? 

That’s it — in its entirety. 

Like most trees, humanity 

Must be its own gardener, 

Tender, 

Lover.

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How can we grow and glow 

Without the unspoken words of the many 

Dispersed instead of our waiting ears,

The unspoken syllables slide into the bowels of a machine?

 

And some few recover.

We should be listening carefully to each one. 

They are bringing tales from distant lands 

Which we hope never to visit ourselves. 

 

Are they, then, the Speakers for the Dead? 

And what, prey, do they tell? 

 

Or, shall we let the politicians far and wide 

Whose ear-to-ear grins have never faded.
Regardless of thousands of corpses laded.
(They’re playing for the other side) 

Shall we let them be 

Speakers for the Dead? 

No, they will not be Speakers for the Dead.

Because they cannot hear.
Because they cannot see.

Because they cannot feel. 

Because they have forgotten that Truth is not “ours” or “theirs.”

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Truth belongs to the Tree of Life 

Not to one Leaf or Another.

Every single Leaf’s your sis or brother!

Let us sing then; sing together.
Heal the Tree wherever it’s needed. 
That’s how forests are reseeded. 

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Other Poems on the Web

The Impossible

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Isa Dream?

Ah Wilderness!

 

How did I get here?

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She thought:

“I’m drunk. Really drunk. No. Not drunk. What the hell’s wrong with me. I still smell alcohol. Car accident! A piece came through my throat! Oh, God! I’m dying! No. Wait. Where the hell is everybody? This can’t be heaven. I must have gone to the other place! Why? Why?  What’s that smell? Rotten eggs? I go to church every Sunday, Lord. Well, not every Sunday. What is that beeping? What is in my throat? OH MY GOD! It’s the ALIEN!”  

The next time consciousness returned, she heard someone call her name. She tried to answer, but nothing came out. Where am I?  What? I can’t talk! I’m in danger! I need to get out of here! Why do they call my name but no-one comes? I like my name. Kids and relatives had tried shortening it to something stupid, but she wouldn’t stand for that.

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But now she was in a fog. America couldn’t think straight. She could only seem to make words in her head. They wouldn’t come out of her mouth. At least not properly. She thought, “Who are these strangers who are calling my name? One of them was talking. I should listen. Maybe there will be a clue about what happened to me.” 

But she drifted off before she heard a single word. 

When America awoke again, some damned foreigner was jabbering at her. Why the hell can’t these people learn proper English like everyone else? Like my daddy talks and I talk and all my friends talk? This man talks like a Chinaman. China? China flu! That’s what happened to me! I caught the stupid China flu! That’s what the President called it. It’s a hoax. Oh, crap! Roger! Roger! Oh, dear, dear Roger. (Now, she remembered). She and Roger had been cheering for the President. That was nice. Why can’t I just go back there? 

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At the show — the Rally — everyone was on the President’s side! They were all cheering for him. We were cheering for him. Roger was cheering for him. It was fun. We had our hats. So what if they said ‘Made in China’? That was the whole point! We let China get away with too much. The President was fixing that! And he was keeping the China flu away from us! And we didn’t need masks. Who wants to wear a mask? Not me. Not Roger. Where the hell am I? Hospital? Oh, crap, Roger, Roger, Roger. Roger died. Damn it!” 

An image flashed into her mind. America and her best high school girlfriends had had cheerleading practice after school. After their practice was over, they had gotten into the habit of sitting in the bleachers and watching the boys do the second half of their football practice. Their team, the Leesville Rebels, had been having a good season. Most of the girls were head over heels in love — or at least in social envy — with the handsome All-State quarterback, Matthew Jackson. Everyone called him ‘Threw Jackson’ — he was a senior and already had scholarship offers from Michigan and MSU. He would be a catch, all right, but he was too cocky and brash for my taste America had thought. She liked Roger — more of a mountain of a man, and a sophomore like her. She didn’t think her parents would approve her dating a Senior, but Threw never asked her. Not exactly. 

Nor did anyone else. Not until that fall day when the first hint of scarlet and gold adorned the maples that surrounded the south end of Rebel Field. At the end of practice, the pounding herd of football-spiked boys trotted off to the showers, but Roger veered off, zig-zagging as though he were running an overly elaborate pass pattern, tossed his arms up, faked a catch and came running over to the railing where she stood with her friends. He smiled and his mouthguard made his teeth sparkle in a funny, plastic sort of way. And then, he pointed those giant penetrating eyes right at her.

“Hey there! I’m Roger Williams. From English class. Wanna go to Homecoming with me?” 

Even now, she could clearly remember that she had flushed carmine from head to foot. She had swallowed hard, bitten her lip and said, “Yes. Thanks.” 

“Great! I gotta go shower now. See ya’ in class!” He had spun on his heel and sprinted off, tossing a bit of cinder behind him. At about ten yards away, he threw his right arm up, jumped in the air and shouted “Touchdown!” And, she admitted to herself for the first time that she actually had loved him from that moment on. Whenever that thought had crossed her mind before, she had dismissed it as the nonsense of a teenage girl. Now, she realized that no — it wasn’t just the fancy of a naive girl. It was literally true. Of course, it doesn’t always happen like that for everyone. She understood that, but it had happened that way for her. She had never told Roger that because it had seemed so stupid. But now — she should tell him but — could no longer. But let’s think of something more pleasant, she thought to herself.

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So — indeed, they had gone to the Homecoming Dance, and she relived much of it now in her imagination where the colors splashed brighter and the music sang clearer than she had experienced in many years. And, the kiss. Her first real kiss. That had sealed the deal for the young lady.  

She had never really dated anyone else. She had never really been with anyone else either. You couldn’t count…that didn’t count. That never happened! she screamed in her mind. She chanted one of her cheers from all those many years ago: 

“PUSH ‘EM BACK, PUSH ‘EM BACK! WAAAAY BACK!” 

She still remembered the moves. The girls had had all pushed their butts back and their hands forward for the first two lines and then, done a back walkover for the last cheer, ending by dropping down to a split. Those cheers had seemed hard enough. She couldn’t believe what some of the cheerleaders were doing today. Amazing stuff! But many of those teams had both boy and girl cheerleaders. She never understood that. Cheerleading was for girls. And football was for guys! Didn’t need a stable genius to see that. And, now we can say “Merry Christmas!” again. 

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After they had been married for decades and long after their kids had gone off on their own, sometimes, when Roger had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV, she would stare at him and wonder how he would react if she had told him that Threw had raped her all those years earlier. Things were good though. Why take a chance. They still loved each other. Why chance it?

“PUSH ‘EM BACK, PUSH ‘EM BACK! WAAAAY BACK!” 

Then the darkness closed in and she fell asleep again. 

When she awoke, someone was talking to her. A woman this time. It must be a nurse. But she’s calling herself a doctor. They do have woman doctors. I’d prefer a man, she thought to herself.

“Mrs. Williams. I’m Doctor Khoury. I’ll be your new Doctor now.” 

America tried to speak, but it seemed impossible. She could only manage an inarticulate moan. Even the moan didn’t sound as though it had come from her. A small writing pad appeared before her. It was blurry. “Where are my glasses?” she wondered. 

Doctor Khoury placed a pen in her hand. “Don’t try to talk. Write if you have any questions. You’re on a ventilator. It is hard to talk. And, really, there is no need. Just try to relax and we’ll take care of you. You’re at McClaren. You just relax and we’ll get you over this.” 

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America tried to write with the pen but her hand shook. It felt heavy. Very, very heavy. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. She looked at the shaky scrawl and shuddered. It was like an old lady’s writing. Well, she supposed that’s what she was now. An old lady. Without Roger. She kept scrawling: “Dr Wong?” 

“Oh, yes. Well Dr. Wong was your doctor, but I am your doctor now. Doctor Khoury.” 

Such a pain to write. But she wrote a bit more. “Quit?” 

She could hear a bit of exasperation in Doctor Khoury’s sigh. “No, he didn’t quit. He can’t be your doctor any more, so I am. Your insurance is fine. Don’t worry about a thing?” 

She knew the answer, but her mind was so befuddled, maybe it wasn’t really true. She wrote again, “Roger?” 

“Ah, your husband, Mrs. Williams? I’m — I’m afraid — I’m afraid he didn’t make it. You — I recognize you — you were there — when your husband passed. Do you remember? You came right up to the window and put your hand on the glass. In fact, here it is Monday. If I’m not mistaken he died just a week ago. We’re going to get you through this however. You’ll see. I just wanted to intro myself. I’ve got to go. Someone will be checking on you every few minutes. Nice meeting you, Mrs. Williams.” 

“So,” thought America, “it’s really true. I didn’t just imagine it. Poor Roger. I couldn’t even hold his hand. Not really. It’s not the same through glass. We always promised each other we’d be there for each other. But no sign of Andy or Marcel. Maybe they’ll come. At least Andy. 

Marcel had been very angry. They had fought about the stupid virus! Marcel had believed all that malarkey that the main stream media was pumping out about … it was terrible the way everyone was piling on the President. He was doing his best. It wasn’t his fault the virus hadn’t gone away in March or April or May. He said it was okay to re-open. And, when Roger had just mentioned that they were going to a rally, Marcel had blown up.

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“Are you guys crazy?! Don’t go to a rally and breathe all that infected air!” 

It was too bad the liberals were using the pandemic to attack the poor President. He had done everything in his power, hadn’t he? Andy though, he sided with his mom and dad. He had voted for Trump. After all, he was going to fix things. He promised to make America great again. We sure liked his speeches. Well, Roger and I did. What did he say? Mexico! He had pointed out all the things wrong with America. All the people trying to be politically correct. Too many colored people. Too many immigrants had stolen all the American jobs. Where had they put them? China? 

When it came to jobs, Roger had been lucky. But it wasn’t just luck! He had worked hard in engineering school and had gotten a damned good job at GM right down the road. But then, just like Trump said, foreigners had eventually stolen his job. And … the union … he unions had struck for higher wages so what did the company do? Of course, they moved the plant to … somewhere … Pontiac. But then, I need to sleep. 

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God, I need to sleep. Why does everyone hate Trump so much? Why do all these women come and accuse him of rape and groping and stuff? Just let it go. Just let it go. Don’t ruin these men’s lives. What would have happened to Threw? Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten the scholarships. Well, it would have been a scandal. Mostly on me. And Roger? He wouldn’t have liked me any more. Maybe he wouldn’t have exactly blamed me, but … 

“PUSH ‘EM BACK! PUSH ‘EM BACK! WAAAAY BACK!” 

It usually worked. But this time, I’m too damned tired, she thought. How the hell am I supposed to sleep? Where was Roger anyway? Oh, that’s right. Damn him! Why did he have to die? Why? Smoking? We both tried to quit more than once. Don’t we get credit for that? Anyway, non-smokers die of this too. 

Sure they do. Vice-President Pence had said there was no evidence cigarettes caused health problems. He wouldn’t lie. He’s a good Christian. He won’t even go in a room alone with a woman. Why would Trump pick him to drain the swamp if he was a liar? That made no sense. Did he say to drink bleach? He didn’t say that — not really — but I thought that’s what he meant. I thought about trying it. Imagine. Maybe it would have worked. I wish I had some now.

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But all those people out to get Trump. The Deep State. Mueller. Even though he was a Republican. And the FBI and the CIA. Jeff Sessions. The military. And the NSA. They are all out to get him. And then — first there wasn’t really a pandemic. It was just a couple of cases. Trump told everybody not to take it seriously. But then the China people lied to him. And, WHO. And, the CDC. He had to fix that. And if — and Europe — and New York City. And all the liberals and homosexuals are out to get him. And the Federal prosecutors. Everyone is in this vast conspiracy. And they even make fun of him for being fat and loving his daughter. And so what if he had his dad pay someone to lie so he could get out of the army? So what? Obama didn’t serve in the military either. Nor Clinton. Nor Bush. 

Everybody lies sometimes. Everybody cheats on their taxes. Or on their spouse. What’s the big deal? He can’t really have borrowed money from Russia. That would be stupid. He says he’s a genius. I know I’m not. He said he would sue any school who released his test records. He won’t release his taxes. So? Who cares? I need to sleep. I’ll make myself go to sleep. I’ll make my mind blank. 

And she succeeded. For a moment or two. Then, she heard two voices whispering. 

“What’s wrong, Dr. Khoury?” 

“What’s wrong? Do you know why this woman, Mrs. Williams is in here? Do you know?” 

“COVID19, Doctor.” 

“I know that! I mean why did she get it? She and her husband went to a Trump rally. No masks. No social distancing. Her husband died last week. And now…” 

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“She might hear you.” 

“I doubt it. I don’t even care. I’m sick of these people not wearing masks. And now Dr. Wong is dead. Dead! He worked the whole damned month of May and then the whole damned month of June and now he’s dead! What the hell is wrong with this country? People don’t believe doctors. They don’t believe experts. They only believe Trump! And people are dying. Just because he says he has things under control doesn’t mean he does. He knew about this for months and did nothing and even now, in mid July, he still doesn’t have a national plan for PPE, testing, masks, or contact tracing. It’s been oh, never mind. I’m just mad about Wong. But he’s the fourth one we’ve lost from this hospital. Who’s next? You? Me? Anyway, who’s next on our list?” 

“We are due to take a look at Jonathan Edwards. 35. High BP. Obese. Baptist minister….”

America heard the voices fade away into the distance. She couldn’t even be sure she had heard those voices. They weren’t loud. Not like Trump. Is it possible, she wondered, whether soft voices might speak truth just as well as loud ones? Hadn’t she led cheers and tried to get the Leesville Rebels to scream louder and louder? Why? 

She thought, “So many people out to get Trump. Add the doctors and nurses and … who was speaking now? America felt sure she had someone say ‘What if…?’ But who? What if what? Where’s Roger now? Dead. Doctor Khoury thinks we got it at the Trump rally? Why would he tell us not to bother with masks if it was dangerous? That made no sense. Everyone’s lying! Everyone.” 

“Or maybe” her heart skipped a beat. “Maybe, it’s just Trump. Trump’s lying!” America felt an electric thrill in her spine. “Who said that?” 

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America’s eyes flew open. She thought: “That was Roger! That was Roger’s voice!  Roger told me! I heard him. But he’s dead. Crap. This lying on my stomach and all these drugs. I want to talk! I want to scream! Roger? Roger? What do you mean? It could be Trump lying? What? Instead of the … instead of everyone else? Trump himself? Well. That’s a horrible thought.” 

“PUSH ‘EM BACK! PUSH ‘EM BACK! WAAAAY BACK!” 

“That would mean … that would mean … all those people he fired … all those people he hired and then fired … and all the ones … but he wouldn’t have raped a 13 year old girl. Who does that? I was fifteen. That was bad enough! It was horrible. Too horrible to happen! 

But it never happened! Never! Why would Trump do that? And why would he lie about the pandemic? All that slander against him! Why would he do Putin favors? And why would Putin care who’s President of America? What possible difference would it make to Putin? He must just like Trump. Just because he was on officer in the KGB doesn’t mean he’s a bad human being. And poisoned his rivals. 

Who’s out there staring at me? They’re waving! It’s Andy! Oh, God. He shouldn’t see me like this. He’ll get all worried. What’s that smell!? I can hardly breathe! Why do they have this thing stuck down my throat? It makes no sense! How can it make me breathe better! Hi Andy. I wish I could talk to you. I don’t feel good, Andy. 

I never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas!’ I never stopped saying that. It was a lie. Andy, I don’t feel good.” 

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That was also a lie. She didn’t just not feel good. She felt terrible. She had never in her life felt so … desperate. So dead. She had to let others know. She had to talk to Andy. Why don’t he come in? Of course, COVID. That’s why. Damn.

“Andy, Andy. I wish I could say ‘goodbye’ in person. I love you. Thanks for the grandkids. Andy, maybe Marcel was right. Maybe — just maybe — it’s Trump himself lying and not the whole rest of the world. I think … I think maybe he’s under foreign influence and killing us on purpose. Wake up, Andy. Wake up! Wake up before it’s too late!”

Andy was no doctor, but he had seen enough Hospital shows on TV to know what flat-lining was. A gang of doctors flew into his mom’s room but an orderly stayed behind to keep Andy away. He said, “YOU stay HERE! We don’t need another one here next month! Geez! What’s wrong with you, man? You don’t even have your mask on right. Look. I’m sorry about your Mom and all that, but Jesus man, what are you thinking? Don’t you know we’re in the middle of a pandemic when your own mother is lying there with it? What’s wrong with you?” 

Andy turned and shouted at the thick, nearly soundproof glass: “Mom! Mom! Wake up! Come on America! Wake up!”  

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Trumpism is a new religion. 

ANTIFA?

What about the Butter Dish? 

Tommy being Tommy.

The Truth Train.

The Pandemic Anti-Academic. 

The Watershed Virus. 

Unmasked. 

A Profound and Utter Failure. 

My Cousin Bobby.

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie? 

 

Plans for us; some GRUesome.

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Dmitry felt a lump in his throat. His turn was coming next. Even now, after all those months of work, the thumping in his heart might yet make him turn chicken. He couldn’t even hear the idea of his comrade Ilya. 

“Dmitry?” He turned toward the facilitator. It proved difficult, but he swallowed that lump in his throat and lunged forward. “I’ve been studying suicidal death cults.” He could hear the sighs and snickers but continued. “At first, it’s easy to dismiss them as groups of crazy people. But that is not accurate. Only the person in charge is typically crazy, in the usual senses of the word. But the people who follow along — even to the death — fall under his spell.” 

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The Commissar cut him short, “Yes, yes. But what does any of this have to do with … what’s the point of this? How does it help us achieve our objective.”

Dmitry realized that having started, he had the courage to finish. “It’s predictable. It’s controllable. I think we can actually create a death cult.” 

Dmitry smiled appreciatively and nodded at his comrades. “I know it sounds crazy, but let’s look at the data.” Dmitry tapped a few keys on his laptop and a correlation matrix appeared. He talked people through it. He then switched to a causal model with associated strength parameters based on his data. “Then, I applied this same model to two new countries in different societies. It works.” 

The Commissar nodded. “OK, Dmitry. Nice work. But so what? Our enemy already has death cults popping up from time to time. How is our adding one or two more going to help? Are you saying we can make them into suicide bombers?” 

Dmitry saw a chance to ingratiate himself to his Commissar so he took it. “That’s an even better idea but I hadn’t thought of it. What I was talking about was a large scale death cult. There is no theoretical reason to limit a cult to a few score people. The math says that we can … that we can do it with millions. We can get millions of them to commit suicide, but even better, we can get many of them — not quite so many — but likely 100,000 to be suicide fighters. Maybe more. It would take a whole program of historical research to find the relevant instances, Commissar.”

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Olga shook her head. She could stand no more. “This is all theory. How the — it’s ridiculous. Only a few very disturbed people would go along with being in a death cult. You’d have to set up a whole infrastructure, institutions, philosophy. It would take decades to grow it to a million people and all along the way, people not in the cult would point out to them, 

‘Hey, you! You’re getting involved in a death cult! Is that what you really want to do?’
And, most of them would wake up and realize what would happening.”

“You raise good points Olga, but I am not suggesting we grow a death cult from scratch. I am suggesting we turn a large existing institution — which already has power and money — into a death cult. They have the language, the social media presence, the lists, the talking points.”

The Commissar broke in, “What are you talking about? What institution? The KKK?” 

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“No, Commissar, I am talking about the Republican Party.”

Silence crept in on titanic tank treads. Just as it had in Hungary. And East Germany. Before the damned Americans had ruined everything.

The gears were turning in the Commissar’s head. A plan, still vague, but forged with the realism that a half century of trying to destroy the Capitalist Dogs, had rendered in delightful deadly detail of doable mis-deeds. He mumbled under his breath, “Holy Mother of God! This might just work!” 

The room broke out in a general and quite unruly discussion for a few moments before the Commissar banged on the table. “SILENCE!”

The Commissar continued, “Thank you. Now, this may or may not work but it’s the newest damned idea to come out of this unit in years. No-one talks about this once you leave this room. No exceptions. Not even your lover. Not your mother. Not your two month old. Not even your frigging dog! We’re going to develop this idea and then present it to our glorious President Putin.” 

Olga frowned. “But Commissar, forgive me for stating the obvious, but they are not an illiterate people. It’s not like spreading lies used to be in some parts of the Middle East or Southeast Asia. They’re too educated to fall for it.”

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Dmitry glanced at the Commissar who seemed to be signaling that Dmitry was on his own with this answer. “Olga, I’m glad you brought this up. It’s an important issue. But this is the beauty of using the Republican Party. They have already spent decades getting the “base” to listen only to their propaganda channel and only read the sources that are approved. So, for example, many of them go along with a whole raft of lies about climate change. In a way, that’s already a death cult! All I am doing is suggesting how we can speed it up. They already deny reality. They already defend unethical behavior among their own. They accept their media sources and I doubt they will even notice when we start pumping out the propaganda.”

Olga shook her head. “Who would we find to lead such a death cult? Some one so desperate that they would be willing to sell the lives of their own citizens? That doesn’t really sound feasible.”

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Silence again descended upon the room like barrages of heavy artillery — but without the noise, of course.

Then, Ilya spoke up, “Many of them hate their countrymen with black skin or brown skin or red skin or yellow skin. We’ll pick someone with no ethics and no experience as a success. Someone who has failed at nearly everything he’s ever tried. Someone desperate for attention and adulation. And we can give him that. For that, he’ll lead the death cult. We can have the cult first turn their rage toward others. They will learn to follow that lead, killing mindlessly and with encouragement from their social media and television. Then, we just get them to turn all that anger and killing on themselves. I really think it can be done. Somewhere, in that vast land of greed, there has to be someone who’s a big enough loser to swallow the bait. I really think it can be done.”

“I  think so too,” said Dmitry.

“I really think it can be done as well,” said the Commissar.

“I really don’t think we can get millions of Americans to kill themselves,” said Olga.

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What do you think, fellow citizen of the planet? What do you think? 

Trumpism is a new religion. 

The Loud Defense of Untenable Positions.

An Utter and Profound Failure.

Essays on America: The Game

Parametric Recipes and American Democracy

Pies on Offer: Mincemeat and Rhubarb

The Temperature Gauge

Corn on the Cob

A Once Baked Potato