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A cautionary tale


Imagine, if you will, a criminal investigation—say, a serial killer has been caught; the evidence against him is overwhelming; the District Attorney indicts, and a trial date is set. The media covers the breaking story thoroughly; after all, the killer (whom we’ll call Mr. X.) has terrorized a great swathe of America, and people are following developments closely. Surely, the killer will be convicted—most people who follow the news know how overwhelming the evidence is. Surely he will be dispatched appropriately, according to the law.

But wait! Suddenly, one morning, there’s a new development. The killer, it turns out, is a very wealthy man; moreover, he has wealthy friends. Together, they have pooled their resources, in order to fund a defense. The core of their defense is bizarre: the District Attorney himself, they allege, is the real killer, and is framing Mr. X., whom he hates. They have no proof. They offer no facts. All they can do is allege. But the allegation, backed up with their money and power, is enough to convince some people that where there’s smoke, there must be a fire.

Around water coolers at the office, at dinner tables, in bars after work, Americans talk about the case. “How could the District Attorney be the killer?”

“Well, why not? Anything’s possible.”

“Yes, but it seems so odd. We all know that Mr. X. did it. Didn’t you see the stories on T.V., or read the reports in the newspapers? The DNA evidence, the fact that Mr. X. had no alibis, and he had the underclothing of the victims in his apartment.”

“Yes, but Mr. X.’s lawyers say that was all made up. How do we actually know? Did you conduct the DNA tests yourself? Did you find the underclothing? How do you know it belonged to the victims?”

“Well, I admit that I’m taking other people’s word for it. Of course I didn’t conduct the DNA tests myself! I wouldn’t know how to.”

“Exactly. And how do we know that the supposed ‘experts’ who did conduct the DNA tests knew how to? Besides, what if they were secretly in cahoots with the District Attorney himself?”

“You mean–?”

“Yes. It could all be a huge conspiracy.”

“Like the Moon Landing?” asks a third man, who’s been listening in.

“Yes, like the Moon Landing. I heard that was staged at a Hollywood back lot.”

“I did too!” chimes in a fourth man, a construction worker. “I also heard that it wasn’t Al Qaeda that took down the World Trade Center. I heard it was the Mossad.”

“I heard it was the CIA” said another man, an electrician by trade.

“Don’t the CIA and the Mossad work pretty close?”

And so it went. The more people talked about the case, the more confused they became. That there actually was a mountain of evidence against Mr. X. was irrelevant. There also was a mountain of evidence against the District Attorney. Well, not exactly “evidence,” but a mountain of allegations, some of which came from some credible people.

Polls were taken of the public at regular intervals by the major polling companies. It was found that one-third of the population thought that Mr. X. was the killer. Roughly one-third thought that the District Attorney was the killer. The remainder didn’t know. The country was evenly split.

Many years later, when nearly all the principles in the case were dead—the District Attorney, Mr. X., his rich friends, the lawyers, the journalists—a scholar wrote a book about it. Piecing together all the facts, he concluded that Mr. X. had indeed been the killer. But it was too late to do anything about it; Mr. X.’s trial had ended in a hung jury. Twelve men and women of good will could not agree on the facts. In fact, the jury itself was split right down the middle: six to convict, six to acquit. Mr. X. went free.

The journalist who wrote the book went on a book tour, appearing on many  T.V. and radio interviews. He was often asked what was the lesson of the case of Mr. X. Here is what he replied:

“The evidence against Mr. X. was overwhelming. In retrospect, we know he was a monster, who should have been stopped. My reporting found that in all likelihood he continued to murder innocent victims. Sadly, his lawyers were very clever. They succeeded in bamboozling the public, in overwhelming them with false information, with smears, with allegations that were so patently absurd, many people felt they had to be true, for who would dare to say such easily disproved things? In the end, I think the lesson is that democracy is always threatened, not so much from external enemies as from within. People have to keep their wits and use their common sense. Once reason and logic are undermined, so is democracy itself.”

Have a lovely weekend. If you live in the Red Flag areas of California, be safe.

From the Private Diary of Donald J. Trump


Dear Dairy,

They say I’m a Racist. Well that’s just a dirty lie from the failing New York Times. I’m not a Racist, I just don’t like most Black people. Some are okay. Herman Cane is great. So’s Ben Carson. Did you know he’s a doctor? And that Clarince Thomas, what a guy! He was a great Womanizer you know although I don’t know what he saw in that Anita Hill. A real dog I’ll tell you.

You know who I also have a lot of respect for whose Black? O.J. Simpson. Great athlete, that I can tell you. I don’t know what sport he played—was it golf, or was that the other one, the one with the animal name? But I know he was famous and then he had that career as a movie star. As a T.V. star myself I can appreciate the hard Work that goes into success as an entertainer. I never met O.J. but maybe one of these days we can play a round at Bedminster. Memo to self: Ask Melania what she thinks of giving him a Metal of Freedom. That’s one of the things I’m entitled to do as POTUS. I was thinking of giving one to my friend Kim Jong Un. Maybe we could have them both together at the White House.

But this racist stuff bothers me. Just look at all those Demon-crats having a field day saying I’m Bigoted. Don’t they know the Republican party is the most Racially-integrated party in America? Just look at our House delagation. Many, many black, brown and yellow faces, that I can tell you. In fact Leader McCarthy, who I understand is part Black, was telling me that the Demon-crats are 99% white. Talk about Racists! I don’t know why these Blacks vote Demon-crat. Who freed the Slaves? Lincoln, a Republican! Who wrote the Civil Rights act? Newt Gingrich, that’s who. Who has appointed more Blacks to the Courts than me? Nobody has more respect for the Blacks. My father always said, “Donald, always try to rent to a Black in the slums.” That was good advice. We made a lot of money off renting apartments to the Blacks in New York, and I’ll tell you something else, they weren’t always screaming for new paint and carpets the way these Asians are.

Look, I kind of like AOC. I mean, she’s hot! Sure she has those big bug eyes but if you throw a paper bag over her head she’s not too shabby. A little older than I like ‘em, though. Poor Jeff Epstein. It’s a shame they got him. You know he’s just a surrogate for me, right? I’m the one they were after but they couldn’t get me because I’m too smart to get caught so they went after Jeff. I’ll tell you, we had some Hot times back in the day. Mar-a-lago in the 90s. We’d get 15, 20 girls, all under 17, the pick of the crop, the hottest, juiciest, sexiest pussy you ever saw, right? Just me and Jeff and buckets of Champagne, KFC and lines of coke Jeff got from his connection in Columbia. I miss those days. Of course, I can always have my Secret Service smuggle girls in to me wherever I am, but I try to limit that to 3,4 times a week. Melania’s been awful loyal and I wouldn’t want to hurt her.

I’m gonna win this election, that I will tell you. It will be such a landslide it will shock you. Most Americans agree with me when I tell them we don’t need those foreigners here. All those gooks and geeks and freaks, keep ‘em out! Send ‘em back to wherever the hell they’re from. Starting with those Sqaud girls. I think they’re from Somalia. Imagine, they come over here from their nasty little slums and all of a sudden start parading around putting down America and siding with El Qaida and helping the terrists plant bombs in Jewish places. I’m gonna remind the American people over and over what disgusting, horrible atheists those girls are. The fact that they’re all Black is irrelivent to me. By the way, did you notice they’re all Black?

But like I say I’m not a Racist! Here’s a list of the Demon-crats I’m gonna go after in the next few weeks. Elijah Cummings. Barbara Lee. Oprah Winfrey. Obama (Worst President Ever!). Corey Booker. Kammalla Harris. John Lewis. That awful James Cliburn. Most of ‘em white, right? Oh, and that Communist, “Doctor” Martin Luther King. I put the “doctor” in quotes because what the hell was he a doctor of anyway? Doctor of lies, that’s what. My F.B.I. showed me a file proving King hung out with Communist terrists. From what I understand lots of Blacks still do. That’s what I hear, anyway.

Well, the Secret Service just delivered my Cheeseburgers, so I gotta go now, Dear Dairy, but more tomorrow! That, I will tell you!

A history of the U.S., 2024-2028


Following his 2020 re-election, Trump doubled down on his aggressive domestic and foreign policies.

Having taken over all of the executive functions of government, Trump set his sights on the military, which remained the one doubtful player in his effort to seize undisputed control of the country. The famous Dunford incident, in February 2022, set the stage.

Joe Dunford was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump had been invited to the wedding of his son, Joe, Jr., to a woman who held joint American and Jordanian citizenship. When it was revealed that the young woman had been close to several ISIS members, Trump fired Dunford. On March 2, he stated, via a tweet, that he would not be appointing a new Chairman. “Instead, I will assume the responsibility myself of running our great military.”

There then followed the so-called “Great Purge” of 2024, in which thousands of General Staff officers were fired or eased into early retirement. These were overwhelmingly men and women who were registered Democrats. It has never been established that Trump’s Justice Department revealed their party affiliation to the president, but Trump appeared to suggest this when he tweeted, “Some allegedly ‘great’ military staff seem to forget that I know everything. They work for ME and have taken a loyalty oath to ME not to the liberals trying to undermine our great country.”

His lock on the military now secure, Trump turned to other fronts. With the Domestic Policing and Anti-Terrorist Act (DPATA) of 2024, Trump assumed active leadership of all National Guards, removing that responsibility from state Governors. He also, for the first time in U.S. history, authorized the formation of “Citizens Brigades,” para-military formations “to secure, patrol, pacify and control the external borders of the U.S. and to combat crimes within the U.S. borders.” (These groups swore personal loyalty oaths to him.) One part of DPATA called for Citizens Brigades to replace local police agencies in “centers of resistance to the fundaments of law and morality within the U.S.” Included in these “centers of resistance” were such cities as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago; their police forces were summarily fired and replaced by Brigades, who wore red, white and blue uniforms designed by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

In his famous July 2024 speech to the National Rifle Association, Trump announced he would “happily accept” the nomination of the Republican National Convention the next month “to run again to be your president.” Declaring the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution (limiting presidents to two four-year terms) “null and void,” Trump said, “The will of the people is more important than a stupid piece of paper.” Democrats in the Congress—outnumbered by Republicans—protested, but to no avail. Trump was dutifully nominated by the Republicans at their Atlanta convention. Democrats ran Pete Buttigieg, who was crushed at the polls, after one of the dirtiest smear campaigns in history. Trump was sworn in for his third term on Jan. 21, 2025.

The next three years saw the continued rightward lurch of the government. The Republican-led Congress abolished the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Education and the Commerce Department, with their functions absorbed into a new White House Domestic Council led by the Rev. Franklin Graham. All U.S. residents of Islamic faith were required to register with a new Internal Loyalty Registry. Civil rights acts were systematically overturned, with the help of a Supreme Court dominated by Trump appointees. The Pentagon re-instituted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Clinton-era policy; thousands of gay men and women were summarily ousted from service. The Supreme Court, revisiting its Obergefell v.  Hodges ruling, declared same-sex marriage unconstitutional. It also declared abortion to be “incompatible with the Constitution, with custom and morality” and outlawed it, even in cases where the life of the mother was at risk.

In foreign policy, Trump broke diplomatic relations with Mexico, withdrew from NATO and formed instead an alliance with the Putin-led Russian Federation, to which North Korea was admitted. The Iranian War (2025-2026) led to the near annihilation of Iran; when Tehran was bombed with a 10-megaton nuclear device, no one was sure which country had dropped it. In a tweet, Trump said, “Too bad for Tehran. Maby [sic] they’ll learn not to mess with us.”

In January 2028, while on a fund-raising appearance in Milwaukee, Trump joined his predecessors Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy in being assassinated. The killer was said to be a mentally-deranged Hasidic Jew who died under mysterious circumstances while in Secret Service custody. Vice President Mike Pence immediately assumed the oath of office. In March, 2028, he declared, “The United States of America is, always has been and always will be a Christian country”, and its name was changed to “The United Christian States of America Under God” (UCSAUG). The new American flag replaced the familiar stars with small crosses; and a gigantic crucifix was erected atop the U.S. Capitol. On the day following Trump’s burial (at Mar-a-Lago), Sen. Lindsay Graham introduced legislation making Trump’s birthday (June 14) a national holiday; and evangelical leaders announced they were convening a council to write a Book of Trump, to be formally incorporated into the New Testament.

In the late summer of 2028, President Pence announced the Democratic Party would be outlawed. “For far too long,” he told Congress, “Democrats have stood for unpatriotic anti-Americanism. They’re all atheists, Communists and terrorists. They hate America!” Democratic members of Congress were escorted out of the Capital by armed Citizens Brigades; no one knew where they were taken. Overnight, the U.S. had become a one-party state. Donald J. Trump’s legacy was now complete.



Meet Ayla

Ayla was not, of course, her real name. That was Bethany Tong. She’d chosen Ayla, or rather her pimp had chosen it for her, because he’d thought it sounded exotic. The pimp was long gone; Ayla went solo, after she’d built up a suitable client list that included Dr. Wu.

She was, at the time of this account, 29 years old, and stood 5 feet six inches in height, although the heels on the leather boots she wore added another five inches to that; she was, in full gear, taller than Dr. Wu. Bethany had been born in Richmond; her father worked for AC Transit, as a mechanic. Her mother was not part of her life, having gone insane shortly after Bethany was born; she would live out the remainder of her days in a state hospital. After a troubled youth, with much acting out and, later as a teen, brushes with the law, Bethany hit the streets. She was an habitué of International Boulevard; most of the time, she slept behind a dumpster in an alleyway. Poor Bethany: she was frequently harassed by predatory men (and a few women), and had the scars to show for it. By 25, she was a full-fledged addict. She paid for her drugs (heroin, crack, the occasional hit of ecstasy) with procurements from hustling.

Although she was homeless, and most of her acquaintances were homeless, Bethany—let’s call her Ayla now—was not particularly enamored of her fellow street dwellers. They were the ones who annoyed and provoked her, not the “normal” (Ayla’s word) people of Oakland, not even the cops, but the weirdos, freaks, thieves and rapists who roamed the city at night. She felt superior to them. They were without taste, classless, stupid and dirty; Ayla may have been living in an alley, but she always managed to keep herself clean (the women’s restroom at the public library was where she made her toilette), and as long as she was in the library she made a point on most days to read a newspaper and browse through magazines, especially fashion ones.

It was her pimp who’d encouraged her to become a dominatrix, for pecuniary reasons. Clients were willing to pay more money, often much more, for a hot B&D scene than for a simple fuck or blowjob. For example, under her pimp, Ayla could earn $25 for sucking off a guy (which took about ten minutes), but quadruple that for a steamy leather session, which usually occurred in a cheap single-room occupancy hotel just off Franklin Street; her pimp (and, later, she herself) rented it by the hour. Once Ayla went out on her own, she charged $250 for a 60-minute session. Dr. Wu preferred two-hour sessions; to the $500 fee he would add a $100 tip.

Sometimes, Ayla contemplated her life, with decidedly mixed feelings. She had hopes and dreams, like everybody else. She wanted a family, the house with a garden, friends, security. She could envision herself living some kind of T.V. fantasy: going to her daughter’s ballet classes, attending parent-teacher conferences, dining in a nice restaurant with a nice husband. It seemed very distant, but then she would remind herself that she was still in her mid-twenties, and had plenty of time; and, in a funny way, she rather liked the freedom her life accorded her. She was wise with the money she made from work. She opened a savings account, which on her 28th birthday had a balance of $7,500. Granted, living in an alleyway was a drag, especially during the cold, rainy winters (which seemed to be getting colder and rainier lately), but Ayla figured this would not be her fate forever. She had a vague notion that, when she reached thirty, things would change. Exactly how, she never determined; it was just a goal. But she liked herself and trusted her intuition and felt that things would be all right.

She met Dr. Wu just after she parted ways with her pimp. It was a foggy May midnight. Ayla was at her usual station, in front of the Kit Kat Klub. She was in her most alluring and eye-catching costume: black leather knee-high boots, red silk boxer shorts that barely extended below her thighs, a metallic red tuxedo jacket over a yellow padded bra. Dr. Wu told Gladys he had to go to a Kaiser meeting, but he headed straight to International Boulevard, impatient at the stoplights. He knew what he was looking for, and the sultry, slutty lady who caught his eye was exactly it. He slowed down, lowered the passenger-side window. Ayla also knew what she was looking for. Mutuality having been established, Dr. Wu pulled to the curb. A deal was struck. They went to the SRO hotel. Thus the relationship began.



Dr. Wu’s Secrets Pile Up

One night, a naked Dr. Wu found himself in a dungeon, his hands shackled behind him, his ankles bound with soft braided rope. Down on his knees on a cold concrete floor, he was being tortured by a fierce-looking Asian woman, scantily clad in leather. The woman—Ayla was her name—alternately tickled his nipples with a tasseled flogger, and used it to slap him hard across his face. Dr. Wu found such maltreatment irresistible, although he did insist that Ayla not create any visible marks on him that others might question.

From frequenting this concession only once a month or so, Dr. Wu had in recent months increased his visits, so that he was now coming once a week on average, usually on a weeknight, when he could tell Mrs. Wu that he was attending a meeting at Kaiser. Dr. Wu was not a particularly reflective person, so he could not have explained the increase in visits. But this did coincide with a strengthening of his conservative beliefs, the chief evidence of which was his participation, sometimes several times a day, on the Breitbart website. Dr. Wu could not have called himself a white nationalist, because of his Asian ancestry; but he was an ardent American nationalist, and the pro-American expression he found permeating the Comments section appealed to him. So did the putting down of Democrats, whom Dr. Wu, like others on Breitbart, took to calling “snowflakes” and “libtards.”

He took great pains to hide his increasing isolation and secret life from, not only Mrs. Wu, but from other family members and from his friends and colleagues at Kaiser. To his fellow primary care physicians Dr. Wu was a model of probity, a superb diagnostician; in patient satisfaction surveys he always scored near the top. A few wondered about a certain aloofness they sensed in him, but this never went beyond them thinking he was simply a man who valued his privacy.

When a fifteenth body was discovered slain—another homeless person, and the first woman—only blocks from Kaiser’s Broadway hospital, Dr. Wu was as shocked as everyone else. By now the “Oakland Homeless Killings,” as they were known in the media, had become a national story. America is obsessed with mass murders, but a serial killer is perhaps the sine qua non of sensationalism: and Oakland was now home to the most infamous string of serial killings America had known for decades.

The gender of the latest victim, as well as the location of the murder, took Rosey by surprise. The fact that it was a woman broke the pattern; homicide detectives hate broken patterns, because it upsets their earlier calculations, and forces them almost back to square one. Then, too, whereas all the earlier killings had occurred in Jack London Square, Lake Merritt or West Oakland (at least, that’s where the bodies had been found), this one had moved considerably northward, to Mosswood Park. This too troubled Rosey: the killer was on the move. He (it was almost undoubtedly a “he”) might have been feeling endangered by restricting his activities only to certain areas the police were heavily investing. He might alternatively simply be feeling adventurous; or, perhaps knowing something of the forensic arts, maybe he was merely throwing his pursuers off the scent. Whatever the motive, this geographic shift concerned Rosey.

The deceased woman was not difficult to identify. Her name was Ruth Bates. She was 54 years old, without family in the area, or friends; apparently, she’d been living in the streets for years—yet another loner, on the far fringes of society, living out a meager life. Oakland Social Services had extensive records on her: she was diabetic, mildly schizophrenic, with high blood pressure. She’d been in and out of hospital emergency rooms: the last time, a few months before her death, because of shingles. Rosey made inquiries. Bates’ attending physician at that time had been Dr. Edwin Wu. It was, Rosey decided, time to pay the good doctor another visit.

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