Transcript of Mystery Call

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I have no idea how I came into possession of the audio file upon which this transcript was based. It just appeared as an attachment in my inbox on June 24th. The transcription has take some time and is very likely riddled with errors. I have no idea who the speakers are. Maybe someone else can figure it out? 

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Russian Accented Male (RAM for short): “Come on now, don’t be such a wuss. We talked about this. Do you want to be dictator or not?”

Egomaniac Without Empathy (EWE, for short): “But … what if the protestors get me? What if the police accidentally shoot me? What if….” 

RAM: “Hush. Did you think becoming dictator would be easy? Have you learned nothing? You have to show some bravery.” 

EWE: “Well, that’s easy for you to say. You’re strong and fit. And don’t have heel spurs.” 

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RAM: “You don’t have heel spurs either. Did you forget? Look, it’s fine to lie over and over again to the people. Eventually, they will believe you, no matter how absurd what you say is. No matter how easy it is to see it’s a lie. But you need to keep track of your lies. Write them down.” 

EWE: “What if somebody finds my list of lies?”

RAM: (sighs). “It doesn’t matter! I told you before. You just keep spouting lies and if someone finds your list of lies, just call that person an Enemy of the State and part of the Deep State and the Fake News. Of course, it would be helpful if you don’t actually label it: ‘List of Lies’; instead, label it: ‘Important Truths.’” 

EWE: “OK. But what if I get COVID?” 

RAM: “Don’t worry about it. You won’t get COVID so long as you do what I say and take your shots regularly. Speaking of COVID, how are you coming with — as you say — opening up the economy?” (sniggers). 

EWE: “Pretty good. Except for the Democratic governors and even some of the Republican governors who seem. They seem. They are more interested in the health of their citizens than pleasing me! Fools!”

RAM: “Again, Donnie Boy, it’s just temporary. They’ll be gone soon and you’ll be in charge. Would you like that? Absolute power? Like me?” 

EWE: “Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!”

RAM: “Good boy. Now, let’s practice. What is your platform?”

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EWE: “What’s my platform? What’s a platform?” 

RAM: “What you promise to do if you’re elected.” 

EWE: “I don’t — Oh! Oh! I remember! I just tell them to go f*** themselves and that I’ll do whatever the f*** I want!” 

RAM: “That’s right, Donnie. But you can’t use those exact words. I gave you the platform. It’s right there in the top left drawer. Read it to me.” 

EWE: (shuffling sounds). “It’s…I can’t find it. What does it say? How can I find it?” 

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RAM: (sighs). “Look in the red folder with the big white letters that say, “PLATFORM.” 

EWE: “Hmm. OH! Here it is! I found it! OK. I’ll read it! Here goes. But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done. Is that right? Did I get it right?”

RAM: “Yes, Donnie. Good boy.” 

EWE: “When can I be dictator? I can’t wait any longer.” 

RAM: “Donnie? What are you doing right now?” 

EWE: “Me? I’m sitting here behind my desk talking with you on the secure line like you said. Why?”

RAM: “Donnie. What are you supposed to be doing whenever you talk to me?” 

EWE: “Supposed to be doing? I don’t know. What?”

RAM: “Donnie. Think about it. When you talk to me, where are you supposed to be?”

EWE: “Um. I don’t know. Oh, wait. I know. On my knees. But that’s too hard. I may not be able to get back up on my own. And, if I need to call someone to help me back up, what will they think?”

RAM: (Sighs loudly). “Donnie, do I have to figure everything out? Just tell them you had another porn star that you were — better yet, tell them it’s none of their business. Or, best of all, tell them you’re praying. (Laughs). I forget how gullible some of those folks are. You’ve never shown the slightest interest in religion and now they think you’re a Christian. And speaking of praying and all that nonsense, get down there on your knees like a good boy.” 

EWE: (Grunts, pants, grunts): “Okay. I’m down.” 

RAM: “Good. Good boy, Donnie. Good boy. If I were there, I would pat your head. Softly. Not hard enough to knock off your rag. You almost ready to do the vaccine deal we talked about?”

EWE: “Yes, Sir.”

RAM: “Great. I hear you’re going to go out to Kenosha and stir up more trouble. Good for you.” 

EWE: “Yes, Sir. But what if I get hurt?”

RAM: “Donnie, I told you before. You can’t just attack dead heroes all the time. You’re going to have to face some crowds some time. You’re surrounded by Secret Service. Now, you go out there and you cause some trouble. Bad trouble. Then, you send in the unmarked storm troopers to kill some peaceful protestors. That will cause more protests, of course. And so on. Got it?” 

EWE: “Yes, Sir. It’s like … ice skating. Or flags.”

RAM: “Never mind, Donnie. You’re a good boy. It’s not your fault you’re damaged. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about closer ties between our two great nations, and I think it would be helpful for Sechin to have an office right there in the White House. I’m thinking the Cabinet Room. We’ll have him there for a while at least.” 

EWE: “Yes, Sir. By the way, you know some people are saying that once I’m dictator, you might poison me and put in your own person.” 

RAM: “Donnie, Donnie, Donnie. Why would I do that? No. Not so long as you do what you’re told.”

EWE: “I know. I know, Sir. But they say, no-one trusts a traitor. They say —- “

RAM: “Who says that, Donnie? They are just trying to drive a wedge between us. Don’t let them do that. I haven’t poisoned anyone for … I don’t know. Awhile.” 

EWE: “A week?” 

RAM: “Yeah, something like that. Don’t pay any attention. We are close. Like father and son. Or master and slave. No more nonsense. Speaking of getting close, Sechin will require a concubine or two. Arrange that.”



EWE: “Yes, Sir. Hey! How about Ivana!”

RAM: “Your first wife? Way, way too old.”

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EWE: “No, not — did I say Ivana? Sorry, Sir. I meant Ivanka. It’s easy to confuse — you know daughter, wife, sister.” 

RAM: “Still way too old. He’s kind of like you, Donnie. You know. Thirteen or fourteen would be perfect.” 

EWE: “OK. We have a bunch in storage near Mexing or Canid. I’m not sure. I’m kind of falling asleep. In fact, I need more added or all. Add in all. I need … can I please get up now? My knees hurt. I need Advertall.”

RAM: “Are you trying to say ‘Adderall’ Donnie?” 

EWE: “That’s it! Adding all. Ladder all. Person. Man. Woman. Camera. TV. Porn movie. See! I still remember! Did I tell you that I amazed the doctors with how memory I am?”



RAM: “Hey, Donnie Boy. I have to go soon. One more thing before I hang up. Did you get those codes I told you about?”

EWE: “My Chief of Missiles told me I don’t need the codes myself. He’ll just target and launch at our command.” 

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RAM: “Fire him and put in someone else who will do whatever they are told. You need someone like Pom-Pom-Pee-Oh or Bilious Barr or Louis NoJoy. Someone who knows what it means to be a puppet. Like you. Only they will be your puppet.” 

EWE: “Some people say you might threaten nuclear annihilation yourself. Without my help. You wouldn’t do that would you?” 

RAM: “Donnie, don’t listen to that crap. Of course not. We’ll make the announcement together. Like partners. Like the partners we are. Equals.” 

EWE: “Do I get to push the button though? I mean, can I just blow up one major city to show we mean business?” 

RAM: “Sure, Donnie. Which one would you like to blow up? London? Paris? Berlin? Or, maybe one of your own? I think that would be best to show you’re really committed to this partnership.” 

EWE: “Yeah! One of my own! That’s a great idea! Somewhere where there are lots of liberals! Or, blacks! Or both! How about the Washington Post! Or the Democrat side of Congress? Those would be good targets! I’ll be right here to watch out the window!”

RAM: (Long pause). “Donnie, are you sure you understand how hydrogen bombs work? You can’t watch it from the White House lawn.” 

EWE: “Can to! Can to! It’s no fun if I can’t see it!” 

RAM: “Donnie. Don’t be a baby. You’d better let my people handle the targeting. That’s why it’s important to get those codes.” 

EWE: “Well, they said they couldn’t — they weren’t allowed to give them to me.”

RAM: “Fire them! And put in someone who will carry out any ridiculous or cruel order you give. Do you even understand what it means to be dictator? Geez, Donnie you’ve done it throughout government and yet you keep forgetting to do it where it matters most. Now, look, I’ve got — I’m going to hang up now.”

EWE: “No! Don’t go! Don’t go! Let’s talk! Tell me again about the rabbits, Vlad! Vlad? Vlad? Are you there?”

(Dial tone). 

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———————————-

Trumpism is a New Religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Unmasked

The Update Problem 

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie? 

Absolute Is Not Just a Vodka.

Trumpland: An Almost Perfect Solution

Try the Truth

Trump Truth Treason

Roar, Ocean, Roar!

Trumpland: A Nearly Perfect Solution

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Trying to put emotion and politics aside, here’s one way to look at #45 from a purely mechanistic viewpoint. 

He’s an open loop system. 

He wants absolute control about what actions will be taken by our government. 

He wants absolute immunity from accurate feedback about what the impact of those actions are. 

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Where in life would you accept such a system? Would you hire an engineer who designed such a system? Would you put your life in their hands? The lives of your friends and family into such hands?

I think not. 

#45 likes to call his actions mighty and powerful. He does it himself and requires all his lackeys to join in the chorus. “Look at me! I’m powerful and mighty.” If you’re driving your car blindfolded, it is not a feature that you are also breaking the speed limit.

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What Donald Trump cares about is feeling adored by millions. That’s literally all he cares about along with absolute power.

He does not care about how many people are killed or made unhappy. 

Solution? Take him out of the White House and put him somewhere appropriate to someone with that mindset and his set of skills. And where would that be? 

A Theme Park. Trumpland.

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It is staffed mainly by paid actors. Donnie “makes decisions” (all absurd) and gives hate-filled speeches and sends nasty tweets to people. Crowds get to come in and watch the performances. There are other littler parts for other crooks. 

There could be “Failed-State Department Land” where fans can watch PomPomPeo violate the Hatch Act and make nice with people proud to be brutal dictators. The decor? I’d say a child’s representation of various lands; e.g., Egypt = Pyramids; Australia = Sydney Opera House; France = Eiffel Tower; America = The Kremlin.

“Injustice Department Land” where Bilious Barr makes up evidence, ponders weightily the meaning of “suggests” and teaches a class on how to Epstein people. The decor here should be inspired by the London Torture Museum. 

“Education Department Land” is run by Bet-She’s Devoid and every day, she takes Monopoly money from poor people and hands it to rich people so they can give their kids an educational advantage just because maybe having just a financial advantage and a health care advantage and a environmental advantage and a nutritional advantage aren’t enough. The decor is stolen directly from the game of Life. (Yes, of course, it would be a copyright violation; but it is Trumpland! Laws mean nothing!)

Bringing up the rear, we could have “USPS Land” where crowds roar in appreciation as Loser NoJoy takes apart TV’s and microwaves and then trades parts and re-assembles them to make them more “efficient.” Of course, to make it more fun, he knows nothing whatever about TV’s or microwaves. 

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In the center ring, of course, we have #45 himself sitting behind his Irresolute Desk signing Amazing Bill after Amazing Bill. Just to make it more fun, every once in a while, he will open up the dark leather binder and instead of a Bill signing ceremony, he will sign a check for a porn star to keep quiet. 

Around the periphery of the Evil Office are arrayed a score of large screen TV’s showing every remaining news channel: FAUX NEWS1, FAUX NEWS2, FAUX NEWS3…FAUX NEWS20. They are all broadcasting the wonderful news about how fantastic #45 is; proclaiming that this is unprecedented, ground-shattering, galaxy-altering, universe tilting, amazingly amazing stuff, sanctioned by GOD himself and anointed with secret Oil of Q-Anon and OKKK’d by White Nationalists and Pedophiles for POTUS.

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It’s all fine.

But, importantly, none of it is real. Executive orders are not carried out. People’s lives are not ruined. Innocent people are not killed. In the real world, laws and justice still matter and democracy is more than a slogan. 

Trump is happy as a clam. It’s what he’s been striving for the whole time! In his own words, “I take no responsibility.” 

Others may object that he is essentially being lied to. 

Wait. What’s that knocking I hear? Hello? Karma, is that you? I thought so. Come on in.

He’s told 22,000 lies since being Putin office. It doesn’t matter to him if he’s being lied to. Why should it matter to you? He doesn’t want to know the truth. He can’t take the truth. Heel Spurs hasn’t got the courage. Fine. Let him play President in a pageant named after him in a park named after him. He’ll be happy. And America will not be destroyed as it is when the game he’s playing has actual consequences on real people’s real lives.

Now, it may be objected that although it would be good for America, it would also be expensive. It would be expensive to build. But there are many who could use the work. We have the highest unemployment in decades. However, it would pay for itself very quickly! The capital pay-back and the operating expenses would be covered by the 40% of Americans who would gladly pay for an up-front look see at Trump playing Trump in Trumpland. For an extra fee, they could have a signed MAGA hat! (The signature is just printed but who cares?). And these MAGA hats will all say “Made in America” on them! Of course, they won’t actually be made in America, but here in Trumpland, there is no rule of law. Lying is standard practice.

Good gracious! I almost forgot to mention McConnell-Food Court. Here, there is a giant turtle standing and spouting nonsense the whole time the park is open. Since, like every other amusement park, there’s no place else to eat, the hamberders are expensive and gristley, with a faint aroma of dead cat but in Trumpland, you can always grab some, er,  covfefe or Clorox to wash it down. Nothing ever actually happens here except the droning sound and the buying and consumption of food. Needless to say, there are none of those horrible plant-based options available that hippies — or whatever they’re called these days — want to eat just to keep from ruining the planet for human habitation or some other weird liberal thing like that. 

Trumpland: Put him where he belongs – running an amusement park – not running the country.

Trump would be happy. 

Trump’s supporters would be happy. 

The rest of America would be ecstatic.

It isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a lot better than what’s happening right now.

The main drawback is that Putin would not be happy.

In the immortal words of Melania Trump visiting kids in cages when their mothers brought them legally to America’s border to seek asylum: 

“I don’t care. Do you?”  

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———————————————-

Trumpism is a New Religion

You Bet Your Life

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Unmasked 

Essays on America: The Game

The Stopping Rule

The Update Problem 

Listen: You Can Hear the Echoes of Your Actions

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Life on earth, by our best estimates, is about 4.5 billion years old. If you are lucky enough to live to a “ripe old age” you might live 100 years or slightly more. When you “die” the influence that you had on others will continue to ripple and ripple and ripple. Let’s examine one of the ways in which such ripples may vary qualitatively based on the “rules” that you use to learn about and communicate about your own experience. 

Roughly speaking, we can consider two quite different types of rules that people might use when their own experience appears to contradict the experience of others or their intuitions about what action to take. These rules might be called “The Power Rule” and “The Truth Rule.”

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The Power Rule: I will do my damnedest in every interaction to convince the other person that I am right! I will never give in! How do I know I’m right? Because I’m better than everyone else! If I can’t convince them, I’ll try to make them do what I want anyway.  

The Truth Rule: I will do my damnedest in every interaction to work with the other person to find the truth. That truth might be what I already thought, what they thought, or something completely different. How do I know I’m right? I don’t, but I know I’m getting closer as I go on. 

It should be obvious that a person who follows Rule One will largely be in for a lifetime of trouble. First, they will irritate a huge number of people who disagree with them — not because they disagree — but because they act robotically, when the disagree. They respond to every argument with a pre-programmed counter-argument. If you ever watched “All in the Family” Archie Bunker was the perfect prototype of someone who would not be swayed by science or facts. 

Second, a person who always uses “The Power Rule” will make many unnecessary mistakes in life simply because they refused to learn something from others if it was in conflict with what they already believed. As a result, they might be “stuck” with a variety of bad habits that they learned early in life but which they would always “defend” so no change was required — even change for their benefit. 

Third, The Power Rule approach has a negative impact, not only on themselves and their families but on everyone they come in contact with. When they interact, they will only either agree or disagree, not discover. By contrast, using The Truth Rule among people with different beliefs and opinions means you can actually discover something new. 

Analogously, most species of complex animals and plants reproduce sexually. There is a reason evolution favors that approach. It allows for faster adaptation to change.  

Of course, all of us are actually mixtures of Rule One and Rule Two. 

I would be very careful with having very many examples of The Power Rule in your repertoire. 

In addition to the issues raised above, it stands to reason that you will have less real influence on others beyond your own lifetime. Our world today is much richer and more comfortable because of the work of people like Mozart, Beethoven, Frank Lloyd Wright, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Voltaire, Tesla, Edison, Einstein, Galileo. Can we say the same about Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin? The latter three, along with many other dictators and war-mongers have killed millions. But let’s not forget that those millions are human beings who are, in a very real sense, part of their family. Destroying other people, as well as destroying other species is anti-life. Discovering, learning, solving, communicating honestly — these are life-affirming activities. 

It’s pretty obvious that different political systems are aligned with these different approaches. Hereditary Kings with absolute power, dictators, Czars — they institutionalize and depend on The Power Rule. Democracy and Republics are premised on The Truth Rule. It’s not surprising that science and the arts tend to flourish much more in Democracies. 

Which rule do you find works better for you? 

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——————————————————————-

Try the Truth 

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic 

The Watershed Virus

Absolute is not Just a Vodka

Trumpism is a New Religion

Math Class: Who Are You? 

The Invisibility Cloak of Habit

The Update Problem  

The Primacy Effect & The Destroyer’s Advantage

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Here’s an interesting thing about the way we learn. And, when I say “we” I don’t just mean all my 7.5 billion human brothers and sisters out there but also other, more distant cousins. What creatures tend to do is put particular emphasis on their first experiences. In my culture, we memorialize this truth with comments such as: “Now, make sure you look nice on your first day. It’s important to make a good first impression.” Given the prevalence of this kind of advice, I think most people seem aware of this effect when they go on job interviews, first dates, etc. 

There seems to be an interesting asymmetry about our folk wisdom though. While most of us seem quite aware of how we can influence others by first impressions, we seem fairly oblivious to the impacts that others are making on us.



“I can’t understand it. They seemed so nice on our first date. And, then, every one of our six dates since, they treat me like trash. I might have to break up.” 

Imagine instead someone saying this: “I can’t understand it. They treated me like trash on the first date. And on the second. And on the third. And every one of our first six dates. And, now, on the seventh, they seemed so nice!” 

Many studies confirm the primacy effect under a wide variety of circumstances. In this case, the folk wisdom about the importance of first impressions is confirmed by science. 

This has an interesting ramification for propaganda effects. 

Let’s suppose that you live in a country where there are two competing parties. Each of them typically likes to put a certain “spin” on events. For instance, let’s say that there’s a big plane crash in the Colorado desert or a hurricane in Florida. These events are reported on the media. Now, the two parties might frame or reinterpret these events in different ways. One party might try to say that the crash was likely due to drug use on the part of the pilot and that drug use among pilots is because pot is legal in Colorado. And, they might claim that even though there is no real evidence. In fact, subsequent events actually confirm that the pilot was not on drugs, nor has there been any uptick in drug usage among pilots (they would lose their jobs) and these particular pilots lived in NY and just came from NY. They did not suddenly score a joint 30,000 feet in the air. But because people in the audience heard that story about pot usage being responsible first, some of them may recall it even years later — and are much less likely to recall the actual facts that came out later. 

Conversely, let’s imagine another party puts out a statement that blames the crash on lax standards for air safety. It blames these lax standards on the other party. It further points out that the airlines who pushed for the lax standards were heavy campaign donors to the party who fought for the lax standards. If you hear this version of the story first, you will have a different first impression. It will be just as “uncomfortable” for you to now consider evidence that perhaps the pilots were high than it will be for the people in the scenario above to consider that lax safety standard were involved. 

Similarly, one party might relate the hurricane and mention that global climate change makes for more and more severe hurricanes. Another party might use the opportunity to request funding to put up a hurricane fence around the Gulf of Mexico to keep hurricanes out. One of these explanations would be supported by the vast majority of scientists. Of course, no-one is saying that a particular hurricane could not possibly have happened without global climate change. But warming waters mean more energy goes into hurricanes in general. On the other hand, no real scientist would imagine a hurricane fence would do much to keep a hurricane out! 

But if you hear about the hurricane fence story first, and then find that scientists think such a strategy is absurd, instead of rejecting the idea for the bunkum it is, you might check the Internet for someone to support the idea. And — given the nature of the Internet, you will definitely find someone to support the idea — a Russian troll, a nutcase, or an operative for the other party. Rather than using the Internet as a way of determining whether a particular idea is or is not reasonable given the balance of evidence, it will be tempting instead to use the Internet to find a way to reinforce your first impression rather than challenge it. Who gets the story out first has a big advantage. 

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You can see why parties compete to get their own version of stories out first. 

The above scenarios were examples of reactions to external facts that “happened.” 

But what if your party is not only reacting to disasters — what if they are intentionally creating disasters? This gives them a crucial and perhaps crushing advantage. Because they are creating the crisis, they can have a narrative for every story worked out ahead of time. They can release it contemporaneously or even slightly before an event occurs. In this way, they will be able to frame the narrative first every single time. And, equally importantly, people who eventually hear both sides of the story will underestimate how much they are swayed by the primacy effect. 

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https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/primacy-effect/

Essays on America: The Update Problem 

Essays on America: The Stopping Problem 

https://petersironwood.com/2020/07/25/the-only-them-that-counts-is-all-of-us/

The Truth Train

Unmasked

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Try the Truth 

Shadow Walker’s Ministers

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Shadow Walker looked out on the crowd before him. A few moments earlier, he had been facing humiliation and death by torture at the hands of this cruel bully, NUT-PI. Now, the people were looking to Shadow Walker as their new leader. Out of sight, his fingers nervously nervously rolled the sixth ring of empathy — the one that only he shared with Many Paths. Indeed, there were so many paths for what to say. He began by really accepting that, for now at least, he was their leader. And, who were these people, really? He looked out at the faces trying to look straight through the eyes and into the souls of as many as he could. He could see that the eyes of the adults, and even many of the children, were intentionally shrouded from him. 

Signals came through, nonetheless. Some of the children were still open hearted. Several of the people were shaking with fever. Many nearby sported the telltale red sores. They were expectant, he could sense, but they were also disappointed. They had come here to see a blood show. Only NUT-PI had been killed, at least so far. But most of the people wanted more. They wanted an enemy to destroy — and who would make a better target than strangers from other tribes? 

“Look!” He began in a voice that rang both loud and clear. His ability to speak in ROI was limited and his Z-Lotz was nearly non-existent. He held his empty hands aloft. Using sign language, he asked his audience to look at their hands as well. “Same!” Then, he did the same for his hair, his eyes, his ears, his arms which were quite muscular. “Same!” 

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“You and I. We fight together! You came here for kill. We will kill! We will kill these horrible red …   spiders! They are small! Very small! But there are many of them. They have eaten some of your people. They are many. They are hungry. But you are big. And smart. And together, we will kill this strange enemy. They have killed your friends. They have killed you children, you sister, you brother, you father, you mother. They want to kill you. I say NO! No more will they kill. We will kill them instead.” 

Shadow Walker saw Eagle Eyes working through the crowd to stand beside him. As she ascended the small stone dais, she pointed to the sky. He followed her finger and looked up to the sky, hoping for some inspiration. In the distance, he saw eagles soaring on the updrafts. One joined from afar, circled with them for a moment, and then shot down toward him. Despite the gravity and delicacy of his current position, he chuckled silently to himself and said under his breath, “a little late to do much good.” Then, he frowned as the huge bird swooped toward him. “With no NUT-PI to attack…I wonder…” He quickly wrapped his tunic around his forearm and put his strong arm out as a perch for the bird hoping it was trained to alight rather than tear out his eyes. For its size, the eagle was amazingly light. It skillfully stopped its descent and landed on his arm. He could see that it carried a message and, working hard to control his own breathing and heartbeat, he forced calm upon himself. He reminded himself that this eagle was also his brother and wanted a clean clear world of truth and beauty. 

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He took the small piece of bark and decoded the small marks. He glanced at Eagle Eyes and handed her the note as well. She read and then spoke in a surprisingly loud, clear voice. “This is surely a sign from the Great Bear of the Sky. He sends us a message at our time of need. Shall your leader — Shadow Walker — tell you what it says?”

Shadow Walker stared for a moment at Eagle Eyes and frowned. He trusted her so he softened his brow and reinforced her message. His voice rang out and echoed off the far walls of stone. “My people! Indeed! We have received a message. The Great Bear of the Sky tells us that we will have victory in our war against the dread red plague of many spiders! He tells us — through a very wise shaman — that we must separate most of those who are well from those who are sick. The sick must be given much tea. Those of us who are well will make much tea for the sick. Rose hips. Elderberry. Yarrow. Yellow Dock.” The faces of the crowd were blank. Not knowing the words for these, he had slipped into the Veritas names. His sign language had not helped much.



Tree Vines strode up beside him and translated these instructions into Z-Lotz. Now, Shadow Walker could see nods and eyes that understood. He turned to Tree Vines and silently thanked him.

Shadow Walker spoke again, this time pausing after every sentence so that Tree Vines had time to translate. “I need you now to pledge to me that you will all join me in killing this sneaky unseen enemy of tiny red spiders!” The crowd responded enthusiastically. He continued. 

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“The people need a Minister to organize the finding of these herbs and the making of the tea. We need a Minister to organize the distribution of this tea to the sick. This will be done by those who have already recovered from the red plague. The people need a Minister to help organize where people will stay so that sick people do not make well people also sick. If you think you could do any of these jobs, come up here and let us speak.” 

“Meanwhile, all the rest of you can help kill the red plague spiders by going home and scrubbing your hands and threshing your floors anew.” 

A voice rang out from the crowd. “What about killing the prisoners? We want to watch them die!” 

Eagle Eyes spoke out, “You have today witnessed a miracle! A message came from the sky! I have read this message to you. It says nothing about killing prisoners. Anyone can be brave enough to kill someone tied up. Anyone. A child can do it. Are you a people brave enough to fight an invisible enemy? Are you a people brave enough to fight against a whole sea of terrible deadly spiders? Are you a people brave enough and wise enough to follow the orders from the Great Bear in the Sky? I believe you are! You are the army! We must fight this invisible army against us. Go and kill these horrible spiders in and around your own tents and cabins. I say these teeny spiders have killed enough ROI; have killed enough Z-Lotz. Now go! Only those who want to be Ministers should remain.”

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Most of the crowd dispersed but seven remained: six men and one woman. The first man approached and said in passable Veritas, “I am Dictard Bennoli. I will be your minister to help organize where people will be. I know where all the best people live and, more importantly, I know how to access the gold of NUT-PI. I only require a small portion of that gold for myself. I will help you and you can trust me.” 

Shadow Walker frowned. “Your people — our people — our people die. So many are sick. Why are you — you are trying to get gold now? Don’t you understand? Most of you could die. Why would you want gold? It will do you no good if you are dead.” 

“We all want gold. It buys what we want. What is the point of being a Minister — or a King for that matter — if there is nothing in it for us? I don’t know what magic allows you to speak to eagles, but I know this “message” — if it even exists — is not from the Great Sky Bear.” 

Shadow Walker didn’t like to lie or even stretch the truth. He had followed the lead of Eagle Eyes and now he found himself stuck in a dilemma. He disliked this man before him, but ….

Eagle Eyes stepped forward. “I am glad you speak Veritas so well. But we do not speak Z-Lotz well. Only Tree Vines.” Here she gestured at Tree Vines who was now busy embracing his wife. Eagle Eyes could hardly blame him for that. “He is busy. But he will help translate. It is a message from The Great Bear of the Sky that has been sent from a part of the Great Tree of Life. It comes from one among us known as ‘She Who Saves Many Lives.’ Why is she named that, do you suppose? She is named that because she has saved many lives. And continues to do so. She, like us, is a part of the Great Tree of Life. She sent this message with an eagle, another part of the Great Tree of Life. She sent this message to us, and we are another part of the Great Tree of Life. She sent it to save lives! The Great Bear of the Sky loves the people. All the people. This is a message from The Great Bear of the Sky and comes from the sky in order to save lives.” She paused. “Do you understand?” 

“Oh, yes, I understand. You want to be one of the Ministers yourself — you offer sex to this Shadow Walker in order to get the gold that should be mine!” 

Shadow Walker scrunched up his face. “Eagle Eyes is my friend. We are both with someone else. This about saving lives, not divvying up gold. I need Ministers who want to save lives, not Ministers who wish to make their own purse heavy with gold!” 

“In that case, the Z-Lotz deserve a better King. As is our way, anyone who kills you deserves to be King. Dictard drew a strange small twisted scrap of metal out of his pocket and pointed the tip toward Shadow Walker. Eagle Eyes saw that this scrap of metal had parts much like the Killing Stick of NUT-PI and instantly grabbed hold of the arm of Dictard Bennoli. She pushed his hand down and bent his wrist painfully. Just before he was forced to drop his tiny Killing Stick, he managed to pull the trigger. A loud bang startled everyone and the crowd turned back. A high pitched scream rent the air. It sounded much like the call of a eagle, but much louder. Dictard lie writhing on the ground holding the remains of his shattered knee with both hands.

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Eagle Eyes and Shadow Walker exchanged glances. She spoke again in her loud, clear voice. “You heard that! It was the sound of one whose heart is filled with treachery. He pretended to want to help. He came to kill our new King, Shadow Walker. He now lies on the ground with a shattered knee. If anyone else wishes to vanquish our King, I urge you to be brave enough to challenge him openly, not to try to kill with concealed and dishonorable weapons. Are there any? Any challengers? No? Good. Now, let us work together to kill our real enemy! Let us kill these deadly and poisonous spiders.”

Eagle Eyes and Shadow Walker spent the rest of the day finding from among the Z-Lotz and ROI, three Ministers who seemed to understand that they were servants of their people. They felt proud to help solve the problem of this red death, not to use the occasion to line their own pockets with gold.

Eagle Eyes could make neater, smaller lines than Shadow Walker. After allowing the well-trained eagle to feast a bit on the flesh of NUT-PI, she made a short note and attached it to the Eagle’s leg and set it free, hoping the eagle would take the note back to the Center Place of the Veritas where it could be seen by Many Paths and Trunk of Tree, among others. She had no assurance that the eagle would do as she had asked, but at least it took off in the right direction. She had written in the note that she and Shadow Walker might be required to stay for a time. She had saved Shadow Walker’s life. Feelings that she thought were reserved for Trunk of Tree somehow arose in her. And, these feelings were aimed at Shadow Walker who was betrothed to her dearest friend, Many Paths. She wondered whether he felt the same. She sighed. First things first. And the first thing was to save lives. 

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The First Ring of Empathy (The beginning of the Myths of the Veritas, Book One)

Feast and Fire (The beginning of the Myths of the Veritas, Book Two)

The Orange Man (A legend of the Veritas about the effects of greed and lies)

The Forgotten Field (A legend of the Veritas about the importance of finding common ground).

Author Page on Amazon 

Try the Truth!

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“Try the truth! Try the truth!

Forsooth, forsooth

I clearly say and loudly state:

All those lies? Let them abate.

Try the truth and you may find

The truth is good for heart and mind!”

“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 folks 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 get itchy.

It makes my suck-lips go all twitchy.

I do not like the truth at all!”

“But try it once and you’ll discover

The truth means there’s no Cover-

Up and Down and Left and Right;

Let all reveal in shining Light!

You’ll be part of something great!

None need more exaggerate.”

“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 smart as a whip.

And fly on a magic crystal sailing ship.”

“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!”

“Try the truth! For just 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.”

“More? You’re nuts! That wouldn’t be wise!

My wealth is based entirely on lies!

I’ve never worked! Not a day in my life.

Just ask my wife or my wife or my wife.”



“Well Mr. Trump, it 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 that garish Trump Tower

And even the teeniest shroom of erection.”

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Trumpism is a new religion.

The Truth Train.

The Pandemic Anti-Academic.

The Watershed Virus

Life is a Dance

A Tight Flock Unified by Division

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herd of sheep

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Does it seem odd to anyone else that — no wait. Hold on. I was about to say: “Does it seem odd to anyone else that the Trump death cult is only united by their devotion to Trump and the only common value in their “platform” is that they value hate and dividing people, not uniting people — and yet, they are completely unified. They are unified about division.”

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But then, I realized, in a twisted sort of way, this is actually logical. *Because* they are united in hatred and dismissing anyone different, they are terrified to stray from the pack. But what if they do it by accident? What if they see something that looks interesting or useful and head toward it? NO NO NO! They might be culled from the herd! (A fate that could literally be worse than death if they & Trump continue to destroy the rule of law). No-one in America will be safe. Neither red hats nor assault weapons will keep you safe from Trump’s predations which will include the same horrors that other cruel dictators have employed because they think it helps keep them in power and because they simply enjoy making others feel pain. 

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How can such a tight pack keep from disintegrating? By listening to Trump. To them, he is the ultimate authority on every single topic. In precisely this way, the entire flock knows exactly what to say (at least today; yes, it could change tomorrow, but they’ll be watching for his tweets again tomorrow or listening to Fox News to tell them what is real). They listen to the Oraclown and his reflection. 
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For some reason, the real-world evil and treachery of Putin’s puppet always makes me think of these *purely fictional* stories about a child sociopath.
(Not suitable for children or people without a well-developed sense of values. To reiterate, these are pure fiction meant to illustrate how a sociopath “thinks.” For details about Donnie’s actual life, try his niece’s book:

Roar, Ocean, Roar!

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snow covered mountain under blue sky

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You think you are a stone. 

I say, we are a mountain. 

You think you are a thread. 

I say, we are a tapestry. 

You think you are a drop. 

I say, we are an ocean. 

 

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We are a mighty mountain 

A million men and women wise

Surprise! Surmise

What we can do —

You and you and me and you!

 

snow capped mountain

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We are a tapestry: 

Rainbow rayed with light arrayed;

A pattern that will still unfold

Reveal our true color: bold

Share inventions not yet played. 

 

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We are an ocean 

A wave, a tide, a tidal wave

A thousand miles wide,

If we can summon brave 

Feel our brotherhood; eschew false pride.  

 

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Believe not those whose only play is hate and fear;

Empty promises that hide behind a hidden tier; 

Russian dolls and chopping halls, 

Down and drown in putrid falls,

Flimsy flash and dazzle — naught inside. 

 

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Voices of the damned divide and hide

The nature of the power of the people all in unity.

Czars seek division; cheat with false impunity. 

Have no love; offer no warm hand;

An iron glove; a loud brass band. 

 

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You think you are a stone. 

I say, we are a mountain. 

You think you are a thread. 

I say, we are a tapestry. 

You think you are a drop. 

I say, we are an ocean. 

 

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—————————————————-

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Life is a Dance

The Declaration of Interdependence

Author Page on Amazon

Index of “best practices” in teamwork and collaboration

Comes the Reign

Trump Truth Treason

The Ailing King of Agitate

 

Put in the Fool; Put out the Fool

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Another bright and shiny thing!

Let’s all shout and dance and sing!

It glitters in polluted air!

It makes you want to sit and stare!

The newest bright and shiny thing!

happy woman

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I’ll cage the babies! Ain’t it fun!

I’m chosen as The Chosen One!

I’ll bring you pain; I’ll bring you down. 

But as of now, my game’s in town!

At end of day, my game is done.

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All my wondrous treacherous creatures!

All my crimes — now being reported! 

But I’ll fight back with reporters deported. 

Let’s open schools and kill some teachers!

They’re over-eager over-reachers!

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Black lives matter? What’s with that? 

I’ve grown fatter! Chomp on my chat!

I’ll spew and spatter racist chatter.

I’ve stolen so much my platter is flatter.

I’m careful as a junkyard rat.

 

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My Pelf on Shelf – he’s such a Sweetie!

Never tries to do his duty:

Lock me away to save the nation.

He’d rather mouth his incantation: 

“Lootie, Booty, Gawd-darned Tootie!”

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I’ll rest at last when all is mine,

“Der Fooler” they will claim’s divine! 

Pootie will show me how it’s done!

Torture, steal — it’s all such fun! 

Just drink a little chloroquine! 

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What’s that you’ve given me to drink? 

Why Vlad, you’ve broken rank

Given me polonium — and I drank. 

I threw others under bus and tank, 

But I gave you your life long prize. 

You betrayed me  – what a surprise!

You said I was the light — just right —

The son you never had

Oh, Vlad, Oh, Vlad.

You used me like a tool it seems.

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I never thought in foulest dreams

You’d play me for the fool.

You’re bad. 

You promised me and now I’m had.

Winning bigly is so sad. 

I’ll tell! I’ll tell! They’ll all believe

Me when I say…

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————————————

Trumpism is a New Religion

You Bet Your Life!

Rejecting Adulthood

Essays on America: Wednesday

Absolute is not just a Vodka

Plans for us some GRUesome

What about the butter dish?

A profound and utter failure.

Essays on America: The Game

Winning by Cheating is Losing

 

Push Forward (or Sideways or Backwards)

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Sometimes, you do literally have to push forward against evil that pushes you. 

But think. Not always. 
What is your opponent’s real target? What do you really have to defend against? Sometimes, if someone charges you, head bent in anger, it’s better to step aside, place your hands on their back and gently help them on their way. Sadly, this sometimes results in their falling on their face, ungratefully as well as ungracefully. But that cannot be blamed on you. You were just trying to help, after all.

I recall a similar trick from cowboy shows and such. Someone comes at you and instead of coming at them, you back away, grab their hands and roll backwards, putting both your feet on their torso. As they rock over you, you push your feet out flinging them behind you. I did actually successfully accomplish this a few times as a kid. 

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Direct confrontation is also useful because it continues to send a signal that there are others out there equally committed to resisting tyranny. But pick battles carefully. You don’t want to pick battles that will splinter your cause or ones that you will lose both tactically and in such a way that you have lost strategic advantage as well. 

Remember not to underestimate your adversary. It is not being orchestrated by the Liar-in-Chief. It is likely being orchestrated by ex-KGB/Russian oligarchs and/or American oligarchs who have already compromised a portion of government. They know what they’re doing. They’ve studied our weaknesses for decades. And now they are exploiting them more than ever. 

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Racism. Misogyny. Homophobia. Xenophobia. Lack of self-discipline. Greed. Shallow Thinking. Impulsivity. Anti-intellectualism. Etc. The litany could go on. America’s always been a work in progress and we’re no-where near perfect. All these weaknesses have their own inevitable costs to our society, with or without help from Moscow. But they can push on those cracks to make them wider. And, they have been, for decades, trying to sabotage our efforts to have our society become more open, freer, fairer, more just, and productive along with a higher quality of life. Now, the sabotage has moved into the all-out push. With Trump, they have a wrecking ball. They will have him wield the power of the Presidency to destroy as much of America as possible before early January. 

In the middle of a pandemic, we must work especially hard at keeping the fabric of society from fraying completely. However much you think you are showing your appreciation for others, especially across all boundaries, double it; triple it. We need to see ourselves as having one objective — not being enslaved by a tyrant. 

Once absolute rule were to be instantiated, it would be bloody difficult to revert to democracy. 

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Let’s imagine what this might be like. One of the first moves, of course, will be to claim criminal charges against all of Trumputin’s political opponents. They will all be show trials, of course, using made up evidence. But how will the jury be sure of that? Run their own forensics tests? No, of course not. You see that once the Justice Department becomes the Injustice Department, absolutely no-one is safe.

Imagine. The local police chief takes a shine to your little girl or boy — away they go. What are you going to do about it? Complain? To whom? Going to tell a reporter? What reporter? Oh, you mean the one put in place by the Misadministration? The one who will be quickly replaced and possibly knee-capped if he writes anything critical of the Misadministration? The one who’s boss, the editor, is also on the take and has to approve everything before it’s printed. That one? I don’t think that reporter will have much to say about the kidnapping. Probably left wing terrorists, doncha know?

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Or, let’s say you own a local, home-made donut shop. You really do make damned good donuts and everyone in town, and even the surrounding towns knows it too. Especially the cinnamon sugar! For awhile, it looked as though covid might just destroy your business and the nest egg you’d set up. But, in fact, you made a few changes and reassured all your customers and by god if business hasn’t been better than ever! People don’t feel comfortable dining inside a restaurant, but they can call in their order to you, drive by, and pick up nice tasty fresh donuts. Almost like eating out with far less expense and risk of getting sick.

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Well, now under the Trumputin dictatorship, it turns out that a friend of a pretty wealthy Russian oligarch has always wanted to retire and run a donut shop. Yours has great reviews so now it’s his. No, you don’t get money for it. Or maybe you did get half a fair price, but you didn’t really want to give it up for any price. One way or another, you are not happy. This isn’t “free enterprise” or “capitalism” or “competition” — no, it isn’t. What did you expect? Trump is the most cowardly person I can think of — he doesn’t want to compete in a fair contest of any kind. It’s not his thing. Even if he could have won 2020 fairly, he wouldn’t do it. Cheating is what gives him pleasure. If won without cheating, half the fun of destroying America would be gone. That’s the nature of his character and eventually that kind of cheating attitude permeates everything like the smell of a skunk. And, by the way, it turns out the that friend of a pretty wealthy Russian oligarch is both a horrible cook and a horrible manager! The donuts are for $hit and none of the employees are happy. But they are not allowed to quit. And the patrons? If anyone asks their opinion, they had damned well better say these donuts make them get down on their knees and thank GOD that the donut shop changed hands. Want to keep complaining? Fine, the gracious government has secured another spot for you to ply your cooking skills up in some Siberian prison camps. Goodbye.

The cancerous corruption that starts at the top, of course, eventually filters down to state governments, local governments, societies, book clubs, bowling leagues. As in Stalin’s Russia, no-one trusts anyone. Kids betray their parents. Parents betray each other. Step out of line, you die. Maybe you die at once. Maybe we sent you to Siberia to die slowly as with ex-cooks who complain. Either way, you die. Either way, by stealing you out of the fabric of your neighborhood, your family, and your network of friends & colleagues, the Trumputin Misadministration has damaged all of those fabrics as well. They have reinforced the message that the only thing you can really count on is a government who will always be there for you. Until you don’t behave exactly and precisely as you’re told to. If you fight, then the entire force of that gigantic faceless stone will be crushed down your face.

And, you will not be able to go to reporter. And you will not be looking for a good lawyer because everyone knows the conclusion of your trial is already pre-determined. And you will not get on social media and complain because nearly all of social media is bot-$hit crazy propaganda supporting the Misadministration.

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Oh, and guns? That will, of course, be one of the most ironic parts of this whole debacle. “Guns Rights” advocates, who for millennia (it feels like) have complained that liberals want to take their guns away — will, in fact, have their guns taken away. This will not be done by the left — who didn’t want to do it anyway, but by the dictatorship. Dictatorships really do take guns away. Yeah! That you were right about all along. The part where it all went sideways though was that although the NRA kept spewing the line that a well-armed citizenry kept us from tyranny, in actual practice, the guys in camo who donned their assault rifles did not stand up to actual terrorists or unmarked private militias. It was more fun, apparently, to stand up to unarmed nurses protesting to get needed equipment in order to save lives or to storm the capital building and protest legislators doing their jobs to save lives. Anyway, you won’t have any more right to own a gun than do Russian citizens. Maybe a few special hunting licenses for “special friends” of the Grand Supreme Leader. That’s it.

Everything is so horrible and absolute power is so absolute you probably think — good god, this will never change. Why did I bring children into this world? But things do change. The first major change of the Trumputin Misadministration is very minor wording change. It will be known henceforth in the shorter version — Putin Misadministration. Trump unfortunately had to be temporarily removed from duty to deal with a strange illness. Doctors think it is not COVID19 where the US death toll is now the best in the world. In a recent press conference Trump was able to inform the AmeriKKKan public that “supplemental autopsies” confirmed that the US only had three total COVID19 deaths while the rest (1.5 million) were all part of a liberal hoax. And those three would have been saved if only they had let the Stable Genius Savior puteth his hands upon them and administereth bleach unto them.

After Trump and his co-traitors all die of similar strange diseases within days of each other, Grand Supreme Leader Putin graciously names replacements for various Senators, Judges, and Cabinet Heads. Everyone in Congress is asked to swear a loyalty pledge to Putin. Those who refuse are never heard from again. 

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Nothing in this grim scenario is inevitable. If enough people wake up soon enough to see what is afoot, the overthrow of America can be avoided. I hope for everyone’s sake that will happen. Even if not, eventually life, creativity, freedom, fairness — these forces will prevail. The philosophy of hate, like cancer in the human body, can only have temporary victory. In the end, fascism is incompatible with life. Like cancer, it will not create anything useful to the whole, and once it kills its host, it too will die.

“Be steadfast in purpose and flexible in tactics.” 

usa flag waving on white metal pole

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Trumpism is a New Religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Cancer Always Loses in the End

Unmasked

What about the Butter Dish?

A Profound and Utter Failure

At Least he’s Our Monster

Plans for us; some GRUesome

Absolute is not just a vodka

The Stopping Rule

The Update Problem

Author Page on Amazon