Caroline Eltrich

Caroline 2

Dear Sweet Caroline:

Why did you leave us so soon?  You have flown away beyond the sun, scattering your joy and beauty and love among the stars, whence they will shower down upon us, like flower petals on a warm spring breeze.  In this way, despite your absence, your spirit will always be with us.  Our memories will not fade.  Our love for you will never die.

Much Love,  Your Family


Our beloved daughter, sister, and auntie left this life unexpectedly on Memorial Day, 27 May 2019, in Arlington, Virginia.  Caroline loved life, and within her life she loved science, family, proper spelling, cats, grammar, the mountains of Colorado, the beaches of Delaware, newspapers, books, travel, the Oxford comma, progressive politics, equal rights, good food, good wine, and good friends.  She especially loved her nephew and niece, Max and Emilia, and they miss their Auntie Harbo.

Caroline was born in Denver, Colorado, at sunrise, on 20 November 1983.  She attended public schools in Denver, and graduated from Wheat Ridge High School in 2002, after which she attended The George Washington University and the University of Colorado.  While at the latter university, she spent a semester abroad in Madrid.  In December 2013 Caroline graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver, with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology.

In early 2014 she moved to Washington, D.C., to be close to family, and to start a new life adventure.  During her years in Washington, she worked for the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), and for the School of Medicine at The George Washington University.  At the time of her death, she was considering teaching English abroad, seeking new experiences in a distant land.

Caroline was a kind and independent woman with a fierce spirit, exemplified by her red hair.  She touched and inspired and shared life’s joys and sadnesses with numerous people during her years among us, and she is and will continue to be greatly and sadly missed.

Caroline is survived by her father and step-mother, Michael and Terri; her mother and step-father, Nancy and Greg; her sister Jessi; her sister Kate and sister-in-law Lisa; her beloved nephew and niece, Max and Emilia; her fuzzy butt companion, Dotty; and more friends than we can count.

You may be reading this because you knew Caroline, or, like Caroline and her father, you read obituaries for the stories they tell about people.  However, this obituary cannot fully tell, nor do justice to, Caroline’s story.  So, whether you knew her or not, you can honor the things she loved and the causes in which she believed by doing some of the following things:

  • Travel to exotic places, and honor their cultures.
  • Stay in your PJs and binge watch a favorite show.
  • Celebrate Christmas with dinner at Filomena’s in Georgetown.
  • Read a book (read several books!).
  • Go see live music and dance like there’s no tomorrow.
  • Enjoy a meal, particularly a good cheese course (with red wine).
  • Be helpful, and kind.
  • Apatosaurus, not Brontosaurus.
  • If you love someone, tell them. No matter what.
  • Know the difference between your, you’re, and yore, and use them correctly.
  • Register to vote, and vote in every election. Your life depends upon it.
  • Help someone else register to vote, and then encourage them to vote.
  • Support a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.
  • Make a donation to an organization that is working to make this a better world.

A celebration in honor of Caroline’s life will be held at the family home near Estes Park, Colorado, on Saturday, 10 August 2019.  If you wish to join us in remembering this remarkable woman, write to for details.

And remember: There is no ending as long as someone is alive in your heart.


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Seeking Optimism on a Beautiful Cloudless Autumn Morning


It was a beautiful autumn morning – cloudless, warm for the season, the clear sky broken only by the flight of ravens, black against the blue – when he realized he might have only another thirty years to live.

Now, this may sound silly to you.  It’s not like those dreadful, or sometimes up-lifting, stories in which a woman or a man has but six months, or a year, to live.  Their valiant struggle against an ultimately victorious disease.  A story whose outcome was never in doubt.

We’re supposed to find those stories inspiring, because of the indomitable human spirit evident in the fight against unseen forces, whether cancer or mental illness.  However, as we all know, as he knew that autumn morning, the human spirit, to say nothing of the human body, is quite domitable.

He knew that because of everything he had seen and heard and read in his life, and it caused a small wave of fear and sadness to come over him.  He recalled how quickly, looking back over it now, the last thirty years of his life had passed, and with what consequence.  Oh, it was the same old story: love, loss, money, destitution, family, birth, joy, marriages, war, death.  Not necessarily in that order, but they were all there nevertheless.  All of that and more had filled the last three or four, or five, decades of his life.  The fact that it had all happened did not make him feel prepared for the next three decades, nor encourage him as to what he might yet accomplish.

So he sat there, looking out the window at the ravens flying across the clear blue sky and wondered what the point was, or if there was a point, or at what point it became obvious that life had a point, and that it was worth carrying on, right to the end, valiantly pursuing … something.

“That’s too morose a thought for such a beautiful morning”, he thought.

He’d seen people, many people, in fact, who had clearly given up; who sat on their porches, or in front of their TVs, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the Grim Reaper to find them.  It was probably pretty easy for the Reaper.  They weren’t exactly hiding, or running away.  Just sitting there, mouldering in place.

No, he thought, that’s not what he wanted to do with the next thirty years of his life; being optimistic, you see, that it might turn out to be thirty, not twenty, or five.  If that was optimism, then he had no need for fatalism at all.  He did need some encouragement, though.

The amazingly blue sky, the ravens, the autumn morning – none seemed enough to encourage him to take up his pen and write something inspiring, or at least competent and worth reading.  Things just seemed to escape him on mornings like this, his mind wandering around, poking under this rock, behind that bush, coming up empty-handed, once again.  Five hundred words.  If he could just get



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Armistice Day.  One hundred years ago today, The Great War, The War to End All Wars, came to its cataclysmic end.  Fifty years ago today, I was in the Army at Ft. Bliss, Texas, suffering through Basic Training.  My suffering was nothing, though, compared with that of the young men who had preceded me in war, fifty years earlier.

I don’t recall any commemorations of that fiftieth anniversary.  Perhaps that was because America was deeply embroiled in another war, much further from home than Flanders’ fields.  Now, so far has The Great War faded from our collective memories, that few will recall that this day was, for many decades, known as Armistice Day.  Here in America, it eventually came to be called Veterans’ Day, I suppose because we’ve since had (and still have) several more wars, so we can’t afford the luxury of focusing on the end of just one.

2 September 1945?  27 July 1953?  How about 29 March 1973?  No idea?  If we can’t put a name to those dates, we can hardly be expected to know the significance of, say, 9 April 1865, the end of a war whose total number of deaths continues to overshadow the American losses in every war since.

And the wars continue.  Young men and women continue to be sent to places thousands of miles away, and some of them continue to come home in flag-covered metal coffins.  Many of those who do not come home thus, return missing limbs, or sight, or mental stability.  Like every other war, veterans, men and women, continue to die as a result of their wars, years after they have come home.  For far too many, the war never ends.  It just endures on different terrain, with different enemies, real or perceived.

My war ended on 29 March 1973.  I say “my war”, because that war and I became, and remain, close friends, if friends we be.  My part in it ended, officially and physically, on 13 October 1970, the day my flight took off from Da Nang Airbase.  But anyone who thinks I left it behind me on that day is quite mistaken, just as they would be mistaken about everyone, in every war.

What I experienced, what my friends experienced, as young infantrymen in Viet Nam, fifty years ago, will accompany us to our graves.  As it is for us, graying veterans that we are, so it is for the young men and women now serving their country’s sometimes muddled objectives in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Niger, and who knows where else.  These veterans, while not exactly forgotten (certainly not by their families), they are often overlooked.

We should be careful not to do that.  Life will be difficult enough for them in years ahead, without their wars too fading into difficult-to-recall dates and places.  Their wars, their personal wars, like my own, will never fade away.  There will never be a peace treaty in those wars.  Sometimes there are surrenders, but it’s never the other side that surrenders – it’s always the veteran.

If we really want to recognize and honor veterans, then we should understand and acknowledge the fact that their war never truly ends.  And when we understand that, we should return to calling this day Armistice Day.  An armistice, after all, is just a temporary cessation of hostilities.  Not an end.  Not a peace treaty.  Just a little stillness before the war resumes once again.




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Wednesday Morning in Colorado

It seems our beautiful Colorado blue sky has a wider significance than just climatic.  Yesterday, we elected the first (openly) gay governor in the country.  He appears to have won the confidence of a majority of Coloradans, because he will become governor alongside Democratic control of both chambers of the state legislature.  Turning Colorado even bluer, Democrats have been elected to all of the other significant state-wide races:  attorney general, treasurer, and secretary of state.  I have no idea when that last happened here, but I suspect it’s been a long time.

Although I do not live in the congressional district of Rep. Mike Coffman, I am nevertheless pleased to see that he was defeated yesterday and will not be returning to Washington, D.C., next January.  I freely admit that my joy at Coffman’s defeat is both personal and political:  A couple of years ago, Coffman, who has always made much of his fervent support of the military, wrote an op-ed in the Denver Post, disparaging Vietnam veterans (of which, I am one), in which he intimated that we were somehow cowardly, because so many of us opposed the war, both while in Viet Nam and after coming home.  So, no regrets about Coffman being seen off by Jason Crow.

It was not all blue sky, though.  At the same time voters supported Jared Polis and other Democrats, they also rejected ballot measures that would have helped fix the pitiful state of our roads, and the pitiful state of our schools.  Perhaps with Democrats in full control of the state government, something can yet be done about that.

Elsewhere in the country, it was amazing and encouraging to see so many women running for office – and winning, often against Republican incumbents.  I don’t know to what degree women helped Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, but I suspect they had a strong hand in it.  Amid the wreckage that is the Trump presidency, we can now find reasons for hope as we move through the next two years, toward an election in which Mr. Trump will actually be on the ballot.  Forward!


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Tuesday Morning in Colorado

It’s difficult to believe, as I sit here at my table with a cup of coffee, looking out the window at a beautiful Colorado autumn morning, that the fate of our country so completely depends upon what happens today.  Millions of people I’ve never met, millions of people they have never met, are deciding the course of our collective future.

So many dark, fearful, absurd things have been said these last two years – mostly by Donald Trump and the Republican Party which he has taken hostage – and so many frightening and violent things have been done – especially over the last several weeks, by aggrieved white men who have been stirred to action by the faux-angry rhetoric of Trump.  In 2012, at the Republican National Convention, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said of the Republican Party, “The demographics race we’re losing badly.  We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”  In Donald Trump’s Republican Party, that no longer seems to be a problem.

The results of today’s elections in cities and counties and states across the country will not just be about what kind of country we want America to be.  It will, in fact and deed, be about what kind of country we think it has become, especially over the last two years.

Only the most innocent among us would believe that racism, xenophobia, and misogyny have, like small pox, been eradicated from America.  Those behaviors, those fearful attitudes about life, have always been among us, but not in a long time have they gained such prominence, nor such overt encouragement from a president of the United States.  Past occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have generally at least pretended to being president of all the people.  Trump, who is so good at lying about everything else, doesn’t even make an effort to pretend.  He’s quite happily and openly president of a minority of our fellow citizens.  The question we face this morning, a question that will be answered tonight, is what the rest of us think about Trumpism and whether we want to continue living in its ever-deepening shadow.


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22 October 1968

Fifty years ago today, also a Monday, at the age of twenty-one, amid a deeply unpopular war, in a decision created out of a haze of depression, patriotism, and a deep yearning to free myself from the distrustful control of my mother and father, I got in my car, drove downtown, and signed the next three years of my life away to the United States Army. 

Looking back, knowing what I know now, it might not seem like the best choice I could’ve made, but on that day, in that time, it seemed like the only choice that would get me out of Dallas and on the road to determining what my life would look like, who I really was, and whom I wished to become.  It was a stark example of Newton’s Third Law of Motion:  so lost and stuck and unknowing about myself did I feel, that only some extreme and violent action would get me unstuck, help me find my way, set me free to learn what I wanted in my life, as opposed to who my mother and father told me I was (not quite competent, not quite loveable) and what I should do with my life (get a “useful” degree and join the business world).

I was, as trite as it is to say it, trying to find myself.  As if I wasn’t really here, but rather, out there somewhere, in the midst of an out-of-body experience wherein I had mislaid myself, and forgotten where I was.  But I hadn’t misplaced myself so much as I had simply not understood or recognized myself to begin with. 

And so, I engaged in a radical act of desperation; an irrevocable escape plan that no one could undo.  I needed answers, and I wasn’t going to find them in Dallas. 

Like most radical decisions, it had unintended or unforeseen consequences.  Some of them could’ve been foreseen.  My patriotism and fascination with the military and war, for example, somehow blinded me to the reality that choosing to join the infantry, in 1968, could get me killed. 

There were beneficial consequences.  The knee-jerk racism I grew up with in Texas was slowly worn away by my experiences with Black, Latino, and working class White kids in the Army. 

Like racism, so it was with politics.  I had unquestioningly imbibed the conservative world view of my mother and father, a world view that led me to believe that the war was a just cause, while my idealistic patriotism led me to feel that I had a duty to go to that war.  The Army and the war, far from destroying my idealism and patriotism, rebuilt how I saw the world, sparking a true interest in politics, and completely turning around my views of the country, the world, and life in general.  One hundred and eighty degrees.  For that, I remain ever grateful. 

There were other consequences that took longer to become clear, if in fact they have become clear, fifty years on. 

Was the depression I felt and the drinking I did in 1968 a result of how unhappy and dissatisfied I was with my life in Dallas, or was it simply an early manifestation of the depression that has become a permanent feature of my life?  Did the bi-polar mood disorder that is also a permanent feature of my life play a part in my seemingly rash decision to leave the safe environs of college and sign up for the infantry, in the deadliest year of the war, in the face of everything else that had happened in that year, both in America and in Southeast Asia?  Which came first: the depression, or the PTSD?  Those are questions without answers.

There are other questions without answers.  For example, was that war worth the deaths of Richard P., Tom S., or Hugh S.?  I didn’t think so then, and I don’t think so now.  Was the war worth the deaths of another 58,315 young American men and women, and at least two and a half million Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians?  What did all those deaths accomplish, what did they gain, for this country, and for Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Lao?  I’ll have to leave it up to you, to answer that question for yourself, just as there are similar questions today that you must answer for yourself.

I was caught up in a surging wave in 1968; a passionate, conflicted, unpredictable wave, which carried me into a new life.  It was a life I sought, even though I had no idea then what it would come to look like, any more than anyone else ever does.  It is a life full of joys and love and adventures, but also a life full of unforeseen consequences, strange turns, and unanswered questions, all of it shaped and directed by the decision I made on Monday morning, 22 October 1968.  Be careful what you wish for.     



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It began with women who spoke up and said, “Me too.  I too am a victim of sexual assault.  I too have been raped, and never said anything about it.”  But there’s no reason why #MeToo should exclude men who are victims of sexual assault or rape.  They’re out there, those guys.  Straight or gay, it happens to men, although at a much, much lower rate than with women.  Well, as far as we know, because we don’t know what the rate of male sexual assault is, since that too is not talked about. 

If you’re a seriously manly man (to which I make no pretentions myself), how unmanly is it, after all, to be sexually assaulted or raped?  Those same men who criticize #MeToo – saying now they can’t even look at a woman or their life could be ruined, just like poor Brett Kavanaugh’s – those same men would laugh and mock some guy who said he was sexually abused by a woman, or, worse yet in their eyes, by another man.  (It’s worth noting that poor Brett Kavanaugh’s ruined and destroyed life seems to be recovering quite well, thank you, now that he’s on the Supreme Court.)

The evidence of men’s lives that have been unfairly ruined by false accusations of rape or sexual abuse is pretty thin.  On the other hand, there is (growing) evidence of men’s lives that have been ruined because they did in fact rape or sexually abuse a woman; a woman who was brave enough to step forward and make the accusation; a woman who was believed when she made that accusation.  Being believed, when the memory of her assailant is still very clear, is more than you can say for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who is still unable to return to her home because of threats of one kind or another.  Her bravery has not been rewarded, but she has become an icon of bravery, and I hope that brings her some comfort. 



This is a movement, if movement it is, for all the guys who are now afraid to look at women, or offer to buy them a drink in a bar, or tell some woman they’ve never met how sexy she looks in that short dress.  And maybe give her a little squeeze on the breasts, because what woman doesn’t like to have her breasts squeezed every now and then? 

Yes, as our boy president, D. Trump, noted a few days ago, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.”  I guess we have to give him some credit for using the word “may.” 

Still, you never know when some woman you don’t remember meeting at a party that you don’t remember attending comes along years later and accuses you of sexually assaulting her – without her permission, even though she was drunk, and wearing that sexy short skirt.  And yet she professes to remember you, and the room where it happened, and what song was playing on the radio while you tried to pull her clothes off.  Even if something like that happened, which it didn’t, she was drunk, so she obviously mistook inoffensive boyish hijinks for something awful and regrettable.  If it happened.  Which it didn’t.  Because she’s clearly mixed up.

So, under the banner of #HimToo, you can stand up to the obvious unfairness of all this #MeToo-ism, and fight back against the braying apparatus of politically correct, anti-man, entitled feminism that can come down on you, without warning, like a load of pricks – I mean bricks.  Bricks.  Your spirit can be crushed and your life ruined.  Just because you’re a guy who wanted a little consequence-free fun.  Man, what has the world come to?



This hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, but I think it has potential.  So, while we’re waiting for that to spread around the internet like a prairie fire, let’s close with a little music, shall we?  Cue Lynzy Lab



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Variations on a Theme by Mussolini

Movement One   (Mosso)

Evening.  Ringing of church bells, distant anguished voices; all muted. Three women are gathered around a fire in the countryside.  Unsettled, they look nervously around from time to time.

Woman One (stands up):  Victory will be ours tonight.  I know it. (Walks to stage right, looks beyond the audience)

Woman Two (sitting): It just seems like everything’s falling apart now.  Nothing works the way it’s supposed to anymore.

Kettle drums and horns begin slowly, quietly, then faster and louder.  Woman Two stands as the dissonant music grows louder, hands over her ears, and walks quickly to stage left.  The music stops abruptly.

Woman Three (sitting, looks at Woman One, then Woman Two):  What’s wrong with you two? (Stands) Everything’s fine.  You’re both acting so strangely.  Jesus – you’d think we were about to get hit by an asteroid or something.

Woman One (turns):  Don’t mention Jesus!  I told you: never mention Jesus.  He can’t fix things anyway.  Only The One can do that.  The One (she stops, puts her hands together reverently) – The One will fix everything.  I know He will, because He has said so again and again.  He said that He is the Power and the Glory, and when he says that, I just feel this tingly sense of transcendent joy.

Woman Two (turning, pointing):  Stop it!  Just stop it.  For god’s sake, don’t you see what’s happening?  The signs are all around us: the lies, the plots, the betrayals!

Woman One:  And leave god out of this, too.  His power can’t compare to that of The One.  Just forget god, ok?  We live in different times now.  God left town a long time ago.  That’s why The One has come among us – to set things right.

Woman Three:  What’s with you two?  We were having such a nice time, until you both got weird.  And obsessed.  You’re just obsessed with things that are beyond our control.  Everything’s going to be ok.  We just have to … I don’t know … just relax.  And have faith in the system.

Woman One:  Yes, everything will be ok, because The One …

Woman Two:  No!  No, no, no.  The One is a fake.  He’s like the Wizard of Oz, except we don’t know who the man behind the curtain is.  And by the time we do find out, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.  Time is running short.  Something has to be done.

Woman Three:  Oh, come on.  It’s not that bad.  Like I said, it’s not like an asteroid is about to hit planet Earth.

Woman Two:  The One is like an asteroid.  An out-of-control, mindless asteroid that will destroy all life as we know it.  I can’t believe you two don’t see that. 

Woman One:  What I see is that The One is creating a New World Order, because the old order is senile and irrelevant.  It’s outlived its usefulness – if it ever had one.  Our Homeland will once again stand as a shining example of Power and Exceptionalism to all the peoples of the world.  Especially the wobbly ones that have pretended to be our friends for the last fifty years; the ones who have abused our good intentions, and robbed us blind in the process. 

Woman Two:  Your devotion is misplaced.  When everything we’ve known, everything we’ve believed in, lies in ashes, you’ll see how dangerous The One is, and how foolish both of you have been.  And there will be no one to feel sorry for you, because we’ll all be lost in the darkness.

Somber music rises as the three Women exit the stage in different directions.    


Movement Two  (Accelerando)

A great, golden hall.  Through open windows, confused, chaotic music emanates from nearby, slowly coalescing into a martial air.  Attendant One, in a uniform with much gold braid, enters stage right, looking back).

Attendant One:  He’s coming!  Oh, my – The One is almost here!  Come along, everyone.  Come along.

Small group of White Men and Women, with one Hispanic Man, enter stage right.  Murmuring, animated, they talk among themselves.

First White Man:  Isn’t this exciting?  We’re going to see Him. In person!

First White Woman:  I’m so glad we could get tickets.  They were almost sold out.

Second White Woman:  We had to get our tickets from a scalper down the street.  It cost us fifty bucks, but it’ll be worth it just to feel His radiance, and hear Him skewer the Doubters and the Traitors.

Hispanic Man:  This is really going to be something.  I’ve only ever seen him on TV.

Second White Man (speaking to Hispanic Man):  So, you – you are a Devotee? 

Hispanic Man:  Devotee?  Well, if you mean, am I a supporter of The One, then sure; I’m a devotee.  Not in the religious sense, of course.  But in the political sense, absolutely.      

The rest of the group stops and listens to the conversation.

Second White Man:  But this is religious.  The One has singlehandedly brought about the greatest revival of Joyous Belief and a true sense of Mission than have ever been seen in this country since – well, I don’t know since when.  He said so Himself just a couple of nights ago, when He granted an interview to Truthnet.  I felt the power of His eminence right through the TV screen.  It was amazing!

Hispanic Man:  Well, I don’t know about all that.  I just think he’s going to help the economy and businesses and those kinds of things.  He talked about that a lot before he was elected. 

First White Woman:  He wasn’t elected!  He elevated Himself to Oneness, against all the odds, because of His natural gifts for sensing the strengths and weaknesses of those who opposed His Vision for the Great Overturning of America.  (Turns to First White Man.)  I read all about it in “Stealing the Future”.  I have an autographed copy!  I waited in line for two hours when He came to Philadelphia.  He actually touched my hand for a second or two when He handed the book back to me.  That is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my days.    

Hispanic Man:  I don’t understand what you’re saying.  You talk like he’s some sort of god.  He’s just a man with a vision.  I pretty much like the vision, but he’s a man, not a supernatural being.

Attendant One (eyes narrowed):  The One is supernatural.  He has come down from His High Place, to save us from ourselves.  It was laid out very clearly in His Writings.  Surely you have read them.  Surely you accept the tenants of His philosophy as the only True Path to our Salvation.  Surely you do.  Right?  Right?

Hispanic Man:  Now, wait a minute.  I think some of his ideas are good, but I don’t see this as some sort of religious experience.  I’m here because –

First White Man:  Why are you here?  And who are you, anyway?  Are you some sort of anarchist spy?  Come on.  What is it you’re trying to do, huh?  Tell us.

Hispanic Man:  What?  No.  I’m just a regular citizen like you.  I’m here to see The One because I think he could be good for the country.  That’s all. 

Attendant One:  No.  I don’t think you are a regular citizen (makes air quotes at words “regular citizen”).  In fact, I don’t think you are displaying proper respect for The One, and his Vision for America.  I don’t think so at all.  It might be best if you leave now.  We have no room for the likes of you here. 

Second White Woman:  He’s right.  You don’t sound like one of us.  You better get along now, before we call the cops.  They know how to take care of the likes of you. 

Second White Man:  Yeah.  I bet you’re not even a citizen.  The cops’ll straighten that out, though.  Straighten you out too, if you’re not careful. 

Hispanic Man:  What’s wrong with you people?  This isn’t the way for us to treat each other.  We need to respect each other.  I think that’s what The One wants.  He wants respect, and I think that means we should respect each other as well. 

First White Man:  Hah.  Like you have any idea what The One thinks.  Or wants.  Nobody knows what He thinks.  That’s part of his Power.  Nobody knows, but everybody gets it.  You don’t though, ‘cause you’re probably one of those libtards we hear about on Truthnet.  A libtard in disguise.  That’s what you are!

First White Woman (pulls out cell phone):  That does it.  This man is dangerous.  I can tell by the way he squints when he talks about The One.  I’m calling the cops right now.

Hispanic Man (backs away from the crowd):  Ok, ok.  No need for that kind of thing.  (Turns and quickly walks away, stage right)

Martial music comes up from open windows.

Attendant One:  Oh, hear that, friends.  The One is at hand.  Come along, or we’ll miss His entrance.  That’s one of my favorite parts of the show.

Exeunt stage left.


Intermezzo  (Allargando)

Bare dark stage. Women One, Two, and Three are barefoot, dressed in black, long sleeve shirts and black pants.  Separate spot lights on each as they enter individually.

Woman Two (enters stage left, walks to left of center stage, faces audience):  I am the Specter of Democracy Past.

Woman One (enters stage right, walks to right of center stage, faces audience):  I am the Specter of Democracy Betrayed.

Woman Three (enters center stage rear, walks forward, stops a few feet behind the other two Women, facing the audience):  I am the Specter of Reason Lost.

       Women Two and One face each other.

Woman Two (angry):  We were doing the right thing.

Woman One (triumphant):  The past had to be destroyed.

Woman Three (anguished):  I didn’t know what to do. 

Woman Two (crosses stage to center, gestures at Woman One):  You did this.  You and your wild ideas and your messiah complex, and your disdain for all the things you said you loved.  Why?  So you could control everything and force your myopia and your prejudice down our throats.  You needed to make us miserable so you could feel better about yourself. 

Woman One (crosses her arms):  Oh, please.  You were the one destroying the country.  I was just picking up the pieces and putting them back together in a different way.   Same pieces.  Different result.  Anyway, like they used to say, elections have consequences.  And, may I remind you, I won.

Woman Three (puts her hands to her face and begins crying loudly).

Woman One:  What are you crying for?  Everything’s going to be great now. 

Woman Three:  I didn’t know what to do!

Woman Two (to Woman Three):  Come on … don’t you see?  You helped her win.  All your indecisive flailing around helped her win!  I couldn’t do it all by myself.  Jesus.  I can’t believe how weak-willed you were.  All of your Pollyanna, they’re-all-the-same, it-can’t-happen-here attitude helped make this possible. 

Woman One:  (to Woman Three) Yes, you did.  And I must say, I am very appreciative.  (To Woman Two)  Now, as for you, I’ve told you before, that references to Jesus or god are forbidden now.  People may speak only of The One.  And only in very respectful and adoring terms.  It won’t go well for you if you keep ignoring that directive.  Not well at all.

Stage slowly goes dark.   


Movement Three  (Alla Marcia)

Outside the great, golden hall.  A brilliant, sunny day.  Attendant One enters from stage right followed by the group from Movement Two plus a few others.  Among them is Woman Two.  Banners (black letters on golden yellow) hang on the wall behind, saying things like “Our Foes Are Many but The One is Vigilant”, “WWOD?”, and “Only The One Knows The Truth.  

Attendant One:  Now, please be seated everyone.  The show is going to begin soon.

People sit and talk quietly but excitedly.  Many are wearing golden yellow baseball caps with WWOD? on the front.  Woman Two sits at the back.

But first we will be granted a few words by some of the luminaries assisting The One with His ongoing program of winning Victory after Glorious Victory, vanquishing our many enemies, and restoring us to our rightful, Number One place in the universe.   

Some people stand and chant USA, USA; pumping fists in the air.  Woman Two stands, looks around, but says nothing. 

Alright, alright.  That’s a lovely spontaneous outburst of patriotic fervor (looks up and over his shoulder to the rear) – Did the cameras get that? Ok, good – but sit down now.  We have a schedule to follow here. 

Three men (Sen. Benjamin Stillburn, Enforcer of Congressional Loyalty; Tom Mallus, Truthnet’s Executive Explainer; and The Most Rev. Orville Cruxler, Pontificator Extraordinaire) walk in from stage left, step onto a dais, and sit in chairs.

Our first speaker is the illustrious Sen. Benjamin Stillburn from the Southeast Region.  Sen. Stillburn was one of the first to be proclaimed a Hero of the Republic by The One, for his courageous work in stopping the Drifters and the Writers who supported them from overwhelming our very fair and honest elections with forged votes and fabricated news stories.  Senator?

 People sit and applaud.

Stillburn:  Thank you.  Thank you.  I am truly honored to be the lead MC for The One’s newest Show, which I can guarantee you will be the biggest, most spectacular Extravaganza of Delusion ever seen, even exceeding the grandiosity of His last Show, which drew a much larger audience than humanly possible.  And yet, it was possible, due to the stupendous power of The One to bring people together while simultaneously weeding out the Undesirables – of whom, as everyone knows, there are still many who plot the downfall of our Dear Beloved Leader. 

I am proud to be playing a small part in that weeding out, by ridding the voter rolls in the Southeast Region of as many people as possible, thereby saving untold amounts of money spent on lazy, ungrateful government employees who thought they had to read every damn name on the lists.  Our beautiful, pristine list now only includes those Loyal, Patriotic Americans who know they don’t have to vote because The One will always do what’s best for Himself, thus benefiting all of us.            

The crowd stands and applauds.  Woman Two moves along the far side of the crowd, somewhat closer to the front.

I now turn over the stage to everyone’s favorite Truthnet Talker, Tom Mallus.

          More applause. 

Mallus:  Hey, how’s everyone doing today, huh?  Beautiful day!  Glad to be here!  Now you know if you listen to my program on Truthnet – which you do, of course, because all Loyal Americans listen to my program – if you listen to me, you know that no one in all the land is a truer, more stalwart propagator of Real News about The One than me.  And you also know that every word I speak has been vetted and enhanced by the Department of Speech and Truth right here in Washington, D.C.  So when I say that The One is the greatest thing to happen to this country since Abraham Lincoln, you know it’s the solemn, unvarnished truth with a capital “T”!

More applause.  In the distance, “Stars and Stripes Forever” starts softly playing.

Hear that folks?  It’s The One’s theme music!  That means He’s getting closer to kick-off, so I’m going to hand the mike over to Rev. Orville Cruxler, Pontificator Extraordinaire and Private Spiritual Rationalizer for The One.    

Mild applause.  Woman Two takes a seat closer to the front.

Cruxler:  Good afternoon, friends, and may The One bless you.  (Murmurs of “Amen” from the crowd.)  When I first met The One, long before He ascended to Oneness, I could tell just by looking at Him that He was filled with the unbridled Spiritual Power that previously was the sole domain of the late deity we knew as “God”.  It just simply radiated out of Him in a way that was (he pauses, dabbs at his eyes with a handkerchief) … it was so overpowering, I just wanted to kneel down right then and there at His golden feet and utter a pitiful prayer of thanks. 

“Amens” from people in the seats.  Two Security Men (short hair, black suits, reflective sunglasses, earpieces) enter from stage right and stand behind the seats.   Woman Two looks around furtively, sees the men, and slumps down in her chair

Since then we have all seen the Wonders that The Great and Powerful One has bestowed upon us.  He leaves Blessings in his wake, everywhere He goes.  He is a Mighty and Vengeful Wraith who smites the enemies of our Greatness with the callous indifference they so righteously deserve.  (Red in the face now, he mops his forehead, and gestures with his right fist.)  He rid our Beautiful Homeland of the vermin who sought to defile it with their strange ways and weak minds.  He heaps destitution, sorrow and penury upon the heads of those among us who seek to undermine our Great and Noble Destiny with their antiquated thoughts of equality and justice.  Only The One is equal!  Only The One knows what is just and fair!  Only He can divine what we think and want!  May He rule over us forever and ever!  Amen!  

People jump to their feet, shouting Amens and USA, USA.  Woman Two moves to the front of the crowd, then walks quickly past the dais and disappears behind it.  The Security Men push their way through the crowd, stop at the dais, looking all around.  They never speak. 

Movement Four  (Prestissimo)

In a hall resembling a high school gymnasium.  Bleachers at rear, with many people in golden yellow “WWOD?” baseball caps, some holding signs with political slogans.  A large white podium with elaborate gold, Roman-style filigree is at center facing the audience, behind which stands The One, a tall heavy-set man with golden hair, black suit, and long, wide red tie.  Three rows of seats are in front of and facing the podium.  The seats are full.  Woman Two is among them.

The One:  And you know, I think … well, everybody knows … that We’ve done an amazing, amazing job of restoring America.  Nobody’s done a better job than We have.  We’ve broken so many records, many, many more than anyone else thought we could do … they all said We couldn’t do it, but We did, didn’t We, folks?  Everybody knows this, and if you have any doubts you can just tune in every night and listen to those good people at Truthnet, who, as you all know … since We eliminated all those conniving Scribes who were colluding with our Enemies … and by the way, We did a fantastic job of getting rid of those Fifth Columnists … Truthnet is the sole surviving purveyor of the Real Truth.  So go out there tonight, folks, when you stop at a bar, or even if you go back to your homes … and We’ve built some great neighborhoods around this country, haven’t We, huh?  Nobody’s seen things like this ever, not even the sainted Founding Fathers could do things like We’ve done … just go home, turn on your TV, and soak up the Great News that our friends at Truthnet put out there twenty-four hours a day.  You’ll feel better about America if you do that.  Well, you know, you better feel better.  Right? 

The One makes a narrow smile that might be a smirk.  Laughter from the crowd.  Chants of USA, USA.

Ok, ok, thank you.  That’s enough for now.  Look, as you all know, We are engaged in a new effort to protect our Beautiful Homeland by bringing our valiant Troops home from all around the world, so they can be with their families – family is so important, folks – and they’ll still have their guns, because We love guns.  Everybody knows that.  We love guns and We want to see more of them everywhere because … and I personally do not own a gun, but that’s ok.  Know why?  Because I own the Army.  And the Navy.  And, you know, all the rest, because I won.  I won!  Despite what some people thought We could do.  And We showed them, didn’t we?  So We’re bringing the Troops home, and putting them in some beautiful new barracks and forts, and they’re going to be so happy there, because We’re going to give them a raise too.  More money!  And we won’t have to put up with all those countries that never really respected us and refused to pay their fair share.  So …

More applause and cheers

That’s right.  More money for the Troops.  And We’ll just add a little more to your taxes for that, but you’re gonna love it, because America will be Great again, and the rest of the world can just go fend for themselves.  We don’t need them.  They were sucking the life blood out of us, but We’re done with that now.  They won’t have the United States of America to kick around anymore, because We …

Woman Two stands.

Woman Two:  You have betrayed us to our worst enemies!  You have destroyed everything this country stood for in the world! 

People stand, trying to shout her down.

The One:  No, no – let her talk, folks.  This is the kind of people We’ve repressed and marginalized, so she’s harmless now, because of the Great Work We’ve done for the Country.  So great!  Let her talk.  She’s harmless now.

        People sit, murmuring angrily.

Woman Two:  We’re not respected now.  We aren’t Number One in the world.  You’ve sucked up to dictators, pushed us into second class status, and you won’t be happy until we’re a third world country, doing the bidding of people who’ve always hated us and our values, just so you could look grand and important. But you’re not grand.  You’re a sniveling coward who doesn’t deserve to live!

Woman Two pulls out a 9mm Glock and points it at The One.  People cower, fall over chairs to get away.  She fires one or two rounds, which hit The One’s tie and ricochet off.  As she starts to fire again, a Security Man runs in from each side of the stage and wrestles her to the floor.


Coda  (Grave)

A gallows in a dimly lit, austere, stone-walled courtyard.  Hints of sunrise are seen beyond the wall.  Five Security Men stand in a wide perimeter around the gallows.  It’s obvious now that they’re Secret Service agents, watching and waiting. Two Executioners dressed in red with face masks are on the gallows platform, adjusting the rope, testing the trap door.  Rev. Cruxler, dressed in purple and white ceremonial robes, carrying an elaborate cross, enters stage left followed by two Attendants in similar clothes.  Woman Two, her hands tied behind her back, is brought in from stage right by two Prison Guards.  They stop in front of the gallows and are approached by Cruxler and his Attendants.

Cruxler (using the cross for emphasis as he talks):  Ah, here she is.  The great revolutionary.  It didn’t turn out so well for you, did it?  You couldn’t surmount the Awful Power of The One, could you?  Well, Miss Revolutionary, you’ve been tried and convicted of the highest crime in the land:  Attempting to do violent harm to The One.  There is, of course, only one punishment for that crime.  You shall be hanged by the neck until dead.  Then we won’t have to deal with the likes of you anymore.  Pfft.  Revolution indeed.  A bunch of childlike rabble pretending to be brave little soldiers. 

Through Cruxler’s speech, Woman Two remains stoic, almost haughty. 

Well, do you have any final words before the punishment is administered?  If you confess now to your evil deeds; if you tell us the names of your fellow conspirators; if you throw yourself on the Great and Infinite Mercy of The One, you might save your wretched little soul.  Not your life, of course.  We are about to see to that.  But your soul, young lady, your soul.

He waits a moment, looking at Woman Two quizzically, slowly slapping the palm of his left hand with the cross that he holds in his right.

Well?  Nothing else to say, then?

Woman Two:  Yeah, I have something to say.  Fuck you!  Fuck you and fuck The One!  You, and him and all the power-hungry, craven politicians who put him in power are going to die painful, miserable deaths.  You don’t think you will, but your time will come, and it’s going to be sooner than you think. (She spits on Cruxler) 

Cruxler (wipes his face):  My, my.  Such vitriol.  Well, my dear, it’s your time that has come, not mine.  Take her away.

The Guards take Woman Two atop the gallows.  Hands still bound behind her, the Executioners put the rope around her neck and then a tie sack over her head. 

Woman Two (shouting):  You’re nothing but a pitiful Quisling, Cruxler!  You and the so-called One are going to end up hanging from meat hooks on the National Mall. 

Stage goes dark.

You can kill me, but words live on!  You’ll never be able to shut me up.  You’ll choke on your own evil and then …

Sound of a trap door opening, and Woman Two’s body dropping down and jerking.     



  •  Mosso:  Agitated    
  • Accelerando:  Accelerating
  • Allargando:  Slow and broadening
  • Alla Marcia:  At a marching pace
  • Prestissimo:  Very, very fast
  • Grave:  Slow and solemn


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How to Stop the President and Save the Republic


(1)  Violence:  Dear FBI, Secret Service, and FaceBook Minders:  I know that violence against the president is completely illegal and dangerous, and it is not something I or anyone else I know or support have in the past, are now, or will in the future state, desire, or agitate for as a goal.  Sure, it has the benefit of finality.  But were something like that to unfortunately happen, we would have to endure Mike Pence.  Consolation Prize:  As wildly conservative as he is, Pence looks (slightly) better now, just by comparison with Mr. Trump.  Of course, anyone would come off looking better when compared with the Mango Mussolini.  Except perhaps Mussolini.

(2)  Accident:  While extremely unlikely, due to his Secret Service detail, and his limos and his helicopters, a golfing accident could happen.  While motoring across one of his money-losing golf courses, a tree might collapse right on top of the presidential golf cart.  Again, finality, and not much the Secret Service could do about it.  They’re prepared for active shooter scenarios.  Active falling tree?  Not so much.  Another possibility is that, while swinging a nine iron, one of his golf buddies (Real buddies or Fake Buddies?  One wants to know) loses control of his club and it flies head first into the head of the Leader of the Free World (though I daresay Trump does not see himself in that role).  Downside:  He might survive, suffer brain damage, and emerge from the hospital even more deranged and delusional than he is now.  So, in the accident scenario, a falling tree is definitely much better than a nine iron.

(3)  Heart Attack:  Despite what the now-former White House physician and suggested VA Secretary – Dr. Ronny! – said in his absurdly positive review of the president’s health, Mr. Trump is a fast food cholesterol bomb waiting to explode.  Golfing is pretty much his only exercise, though his thumbs do get quite a workout, what with all that tweeting.  Look at it this way:  cheeseburgers + physique + golf cart exercise = heart attack.  It would be the easy way out (for the country), but once again, we would have to put up with Pence afterwards.  And if not Pence, then the Speaker of the House (P. Ryan), and then the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (O. Hatch).  Any of them would be an appalling follow-up act to The Great Pretender.

(4)  Resignation:  Talk about too much to hope for.  Next?

(5)  Impeachment:  This is not a possibility so long as the Republicans control Congress, mainly because the vast majority of Republicans in the House and Senate are either craven power seekers or spineless weasels.  It’s hard to say which group is ascendant at any given time, though it seems the weasels are predominating right now.  In any case, the grounds for impeachment – high crimes and misdemeanors – do seem to exist.  For example: failing to protect our election system from interference by a hostile foreign power (despite overwhelming evidence both that the interference took and is taking place, and that the foreign power in question is indeed hostile to us); obstruction of an on-going federal investigation; enriching his and his families’ businesses as a result of his position of power.  There may be other reasons that have yet to come to light, but these seem sufficient.  If only someone would start the process.

(6)  Vote:  This is clearly the most preferable method of evicting Mr. Trump from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Sadly, we are a long way from Tuesday, 3 November 2020.  To be precise, it is 831 days from the day I write this.  However, it is only 104 days until Tuesday, 6 November 2018, which is our first opportunity to turn back the red tide unleashed and encouraged by Trump and his acolytes, and abetted by his apologists.  We cannot remove Trump from the presidency this coming November, but we can thwart his agenda, and blunt his ignorant and dangerous impulses.  Untold mischief can be done and chaos unleashed in the next three months by the enfant terrible with the fragile ego who lives (part of the week) in the White House, but the preceding five options are either illegal, unlikely, uncertain, or some combination thereof.

I continue to believe a greater percentage of Americans cherish democracy and distrust Trump, than do those who love and support any little thing Trump says or does.  I also believe that if the people of this country fight back against voter suppression and gerrymandering, if we register to vote, if we show up on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November and vote, we can stop Trump and his ilk, and save the republic.


And yo, FBI:  I’m still not advocating or hoping for assassination, so please don’t let my little piece of satirical political writing distract you from investigating Russian spies, collusion between politicians and foreign agents, or interference with our electoral system by a hostile foreign power or powers (looking at you, Russia and China).  Thanks!


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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Let Nothing You Dismay)


Christmas is once again almost upon us.  And “upon us” is how it feels this year.  Well, in reality, it feels that way almost every year for me.  That may, in part, be due to my (adoptive) parents having died around Christmas.  Him, three days after, in 1983; her, five days before, in 1993.  I wasn’t that close to them, but their deaths, amid a time of year that our society heavily identifies as being all about comfort, joy, and Norman Rockwell-style family dinners, probably do cast something of a shadow over the whole “season” for me. 

I want to love Christmas.  I really do.  All the lights and trees and fake snow.  The multiplicities of Santa Clauses (but imagine the confusion small children feel).  The spirit of bonhomie that, sought or not, descends upon us, sometime around the last Thursday in November (if not before). 

I know there’s a lot of authenticity in all of this.  Yet, there is also much about it that feels rather forced.  You know what I mean:  the gatherings, the dinners, the office parties; to say nothing of the trips to parent’s or in-law’s homes that are performed out of a sense of obligation or expectation … or just plain guilt.  Sometimes, the joy does not flow in a natural way, of its own accord.  For that matter, sometimes the joy simply refuses to flow at all, regardless of how much effort is expended in trying to make it happen.

It does not help that Christmas has become a cudgel wielded by right-wing conservative politicians and mega-church preachers (the latter actually being politicians by another name) in the fake “War on Christmas” that they themselves have ginned up as a way of attacking liberals and other progressive types.  It was fine when all they wanted to do was carry on about Jesus being The Reason for the Season.  I never saw it that way – it’s about Santa Claus, heartwarming stories, crackling fires in beautiful fireplaces – but to each their own. 

However, if you do want to go with The Reason for the Season theory, then you should at least be consistent enough to accurately represent, if not in fact emulate, the deity whom you purport to worship, and whose supposed birthday falls on 25 December.  By this, I mean, among other things, the following:

  1. Jesus, if we are to believe the mythology associated with him, was a working class Jewish man – a carpenter – from a family of limited means.
  2. Having been born in what we fancifully used to call the Near East, he would have been a comparatively darker-skinned person of Semitic stock; not that tall, blond-haired, Caucasian Jesus of my childhood, attired in a long flowing white robe that – miraculously! – remained pristine, despite the conditions of life at that time.
  3. Most notably, in regard to this Christmas story I’m writing, was his habit of associating with prostitutes and thieves and lepers, all of whom he treated with compassion and care.
  4. I’m sure I don’t need to remind these devout Christmas Warriors of the words in Matthew 25, but I will anyway: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
  5. Despite those lovely words, we have constantly before us the spectacle of alleged Conservatives, allegedly defending what they sanctimoniously call The Judeo-Christian Values of America by cutting Federal government aid to poor and hungry people, turning away refugees who are attempting to escape repression or poverty in other parts of the world (remember America as the Land of Opportunity?), creating legislation that will reduce or eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans, and encouraging the construction of more private prisons which will be filled with victims of the Conservative’s renewed draconian sentencing for low level crimes. They appear to have also forgotten these words attributed to Jesus: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

So much for comfort and joy.  So much for rosy-cheeked, Norman Rockwell family dinners in well-appointed, middle-class homes, all the happy generations sitting around a table overflowing with beautiful, fresh, nutritious, home-cooked food.  The self-appointed saviors of the republic, completely ignoring the Savior whom they pretend to honor at this time of the year (and, when convenient, at other times of the year), are instead bringing poverty, hunger and ignorance to the people whose best interests they were elected to serve. 

Ho, ho, ho.

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