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WINE REVIEWS: Balverne

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Couple of wines came in for my review, so here goes. Balverne is a sort of sister winery to Notre Vue. These two wines, a white and a rosé, are both lovely: light, clean and flavorful, perfect for summertime sipping.

Balverne 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (Chalk Hill); $27. When I sniffed this wine, I thought of Marlborough, the New Zealand region so famous for Sauvignon Blancs of this style. Gooseberries! Green grass! That pungent intensity that marks pyrazines! And to complete the orchestral notes, lusher strings of tropical fruits and citrus: think Meyer lemon, with a squeeze of honey.

That’s a lot of flavor. Fortunately, the wine is thoroughly dry, with bright, cleansing acidity, and relatively low alcohol of 14.2%. Chalk Hill is one of Sonoma County’s lesser-known regions, but it’s very good for anything with “Sauvignon” in its name, including Cabernet. I always think of Chalk Hill as striking a middle tone between Sonoma’s ocean-influenced coolness and Napa Valley’s inland heat. After the wine’s intensity hits the middle palate, it drifts off into a long finish in which baking spices show up. All in all, a delightful wine, savory and clean. Foodwise, it’s tremendously versatile. For some reason I keep thinking of fried calamari, dipped into aioli. Score: 90 points.

Balverne 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $24. Back in the 1990s, I asked a restaurant, Vertigo, in San Francisco’s Transamerica Tower, if I could taste through their rosé wine list. They supposedly had more rosés than any other restaurant in America. They set me up at the bar, and I went diligently through scores of rosés from Italy, France, Portugal, California and elsewhere. This wasn’t for official reviewing; it was just for my curiosity.

That tasting was a revelation. I learned, years before this current consumer-driven rosé frenzy, how good they can be. The best were dry, crisp with juicy acidity, mildly fruity and delicate, with low alcohol and a savory, spicy finish. Balverne’s 2019 Rosé stands well in comparison. The color is an attractively pale salmon-pink. The aroma is subtle and complex. Peaches…strawberries…orange zest…vanilla bean…cinnamon…a floral note. In the mouth, deep, penetrating flavors echo the aromas, yet the wine never loses that pretty delicacy. Crisp acidity, and a spicy finish. The alcohol is 14.1%, which gives a bit of heat; I wish it were a half-percent lower, but it’s fine. Easy to drink, easy to like, with some real sophistication. Tremendously versatile at the table, but I’m thinking paella. A very good job. When our restaurants re-open—may it be soon!–this will be a welcome addition to the list. But only 180 cases were produced. Score: 90 points.


To re-open or not to re-open

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Nobody wants to keep the economy shut down for one second longer than necessary, and I’m not unsympathetic to people who are demanding an end to shelter-in-place orders so that stores can re-open and people start working again.

The problem with the re-open demonstrations, from Michigan to New Jersey to Florida to California, is that the people participating in them aren’t simply demanding that normal economic activity resumes. No, to judge from their MAGA hats, National Rifle Association placards, anti-abortion shirts, religious sloganeering and other indicators of far-right extremism, these people are out there promoting a Trump agenda, which is not in the interests of most Americans. The organizers of these demonstrations are simply using coronavirus as a Trojan horse to hide their subversive agenda.

There seems to be pre-planned collusion between these far-right agitators and Trump himself. Is it a coincidence that his “Liberate” tweets coincide with those states in which the largest re-open demonstrations occur—and that they have Democratic governors? Trump politicizes everything he touches; his concerns are not with the average everyday American, but with his own personal goals of getting re-elected and enriching himself and his family. Anything to stay in power: that’s the mark of a banana republic tyrant.

By this time, we’ve become familiar with the people who go to Trump rallies: they’ve overwhelmingly white, and beneath their MAGA caps you see frenzied violence twisting their faces into smears of anger; you cringe at the craziness and hostility in their bulging eyes, their mouths black holes of incoherent rage. These are the same faces the world saw in Germany in the 1930s as Brownshirts and Hitler Youth stampeded through the streets. I saw one woman at a Michigan re-open rally holding an “I WILL NOT COMPLY” sign, as if she were Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus, as if saving her own life were a Democratic plot.

When I see that I WILL NOT COMPLY sign, what I see is a confused, troubled brain. A brain that denies science. A brain that very probably feels superior in intelligence to people of color. A brain that thinks that homosexuals are going to burn in hell. A brain that thinks Donald J. Trump is a good role model for children. A Christian brain that thinks it has a special pipeline to God—as if God only speaks to Protestant Republicans. A brain that would rather scream and rant at people it disagrees with than sit and reason with them. These are the kinds of brains that elevated Hitler to power, and then sat back complacently as their government burned six million Jews. These are the brains that saw the ashes of incinerated bone falling down from the sky, and smelled the acrid smell of roasting bodies, as they drank their beer, ate their wiener schnitzel, and thanked Odin for having sent Adolf Hitler to them. These are pagan brains, although that’s probably unfair to genuine pagans.

I’m not happy being cooped up in my home. I want to get to the gym. I’m tired of facemasks: my glasses get all fogged up and my nose itches. I want to go to bars and have beer and pizza and to sushi restaurants again. I want my friends who have small businesses—the barber, the tattoo parlor, the wine shop—to make money, and I want their employees to make money. I want my city to have the taxes to pay cops, fire fighters, school teachers, garbagemen. I want my state of California to continue creating millions and millions of jobs, as they did for ten straight years until this coronavirus situation ended it. But what I can’t understand for the life of me is why and how these Republicans think that re-opening the country is not an incredible danger. How could anyone be that stupid? All I can conclude is that they want a massive die-off in America—even if it includes their loved ones—because as Steve Bannon promised, they want utter disruption, and this virus is made-to-order to bring about chaos. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” goes the old saying; these Republicans are willing to break [i.e. allow to die] a few million Americans so that they can build their evangelical theocracy in my country. What a price to pay for an omelet.

Well, some states are going to re-open sooner than others, and the fact is that Democratic states are going to remain closed longer than Republican states. On my West Coast, Gavin Newson (California), Jay Inslee (Washington) and Kate Brown (Oregon) are going to protect lives; in states like South Dakota and Georgia, they’re going to re-open and keep their fingers crossed, hoping that a politically acceptable number of people die.

Yes, it’s come to this: the ultimate politicization of disease. It didn’t have to go this far, except for the perverted behavior of the current occupant in the White House. I’m old, but I want to live long enough to see three things (1) the end of coronavirus, (2) History utterly condemn Trump and his movement; and (3) the I WON’T COMPLY idiots who enable him brought to some kind of fierce justice, including getting really ill with COVID-19.


7. The end of the Summer of Love

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I discovered something else that Fall semester: bridge. We’d played a little cards back in The Bronx: pinochle, canasta, that kind of stuff. Now I took up bridge, in a game that always seemed to be happening in the Student Union. I became hooked: studied bridge books, read bridge columns in the papers. What attracted me wasn’t just the intellectual challenge, it was the social aspect. I made friends with another Clark Jewish kid who was as obsessed as I was. He had a car. We began entering contract bridge tournaments throughout southern New England and in New York. This went on through the Spring,1964 semester. In May, final exams were scheduled. But eight of us had ended up in an around-the-clock bridge game in the dorm T.V. room (where earlier that semester we’d watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan). We’d been playing continuously for days, barely sleeping, popping amphetamines to stay awake, when someone said, “Hey, finals start today.” Everybody looked at everybody else. The choice was stark: finals, or bridge?

Bridge won. Nobody took any finals. I flunked all five of my courses. I didn’t care; school had become irrelevant. So Clark threw me out. They said I could get re-admitted if I took two summer courses and got at least B-minuses in both. (I took Spanish and, for some odd reason, mathematical set theory, got two A-minuses, and was readmitted.) I don’t recall how my parents reacted when I gave them the news about flunking out. I’ll say this for them: for all their faults as parents, they were pretty laissez-faire with me. Uncle Teddy and Aunt Ruth had sent cousin Alan to a private military academy when he had some problems. My parents might have done the same; instead, they just acquiesced to the situation. They paid for me to stay for the summer in a boarding house across Main Street from Clark, a sprawling, decrepit old Victorian mansion, called The Elms, that looked like Norman Bates’ house in Psycho, and was run by an old German lady, Mrs. Elms, who scared the shit out of me. That summer of ’64, I spent in a blur of music, marijuana and wine. I met a guy, a traveling salesman who also was staying at The Elms, and had a torrid affair with him, the first time I’d ever been in a bed with another man, as opposed to in the bushes and alleys.

But if it sounds like I was having sex left and right, that would be misleading. The truth is, during my college years, I had very little sex. Everybody around me was getting laid all the time, or so it seemed, and rock and roll was almost exclusively about boy-girl romance. But I was more or less celibate—not by choice, but necessity: “gay liberation” wasn’t yet a “thing” in 1965, and I didn’t know where or how to find male companions. Still, I didn’t care. My emotional, creative and intellectual energies were completely absorbed in being a hippie and enjoying and fostering the lifestyle we were inventing.

It’s routine these days to poke fun at Sixties hippies: granny dresses and bellbottoms, tie-died shirts, flower children, and idealistic notions of making love, not war. But the truth, for those of us who lived the life, was that we took it very seriously. I mean in the sense that we were the vanguard of a new age, one that would replace the drab, stifling Eisenhower years and usher in a new era of peace, tranquility, human kindness, love, creativity, freedom and wisdom. It was a revolution, and we exulted in our roles as social revolutionaries and custodians of the future.

Any kind of social movement requires support from without; you have to have the sense that something greater than just you and your little pack of friends is moving you along. And in America, in the mid-60s—indeed, throughout the western world, from Paris and London to Rome and Berlin—there was evidence that whatever we were part of was indeed historic. Rock and roll, which had always been a huge part of the Baby Boomers’ lives, now became the soundtrack and lingua franca of our existence. Every new group, every new song, opened new worlds of thought, imagination, possibility. Messages were encoded in lyrics, and in our electronic age of radio and LPs, those messages crossed the oceans and national borders effortlessly. We were aware– passionately aware–of being part of a movement that was worldwide. All the best people—in our judgment—belonged to it: the most progressive politicians, the most famous actors and rock stars, the most celebrated literary and visual artists—the tastemakers and intelligentsia. It was very liberating, for a Jewish boy from The Bronx whose scope had been so provincial, to feel part of something so vast and important.

Drugs, of course, helped fuel the movement. Drugs were illegal, which made their consumption furtively exhilarating. The possibility of getting arrested added to that risk, to that edge—the same way that anonymous sex added to its pleasures. You could go anywhere and find brothers and sisters who were part of the cult. It was a badge of belonging—and the more I think about it, the more I think that what we wanted was that sense of belonging. You could find your tribe, the people who welcomed you anytime you showed up, “where everyone knew your name,” as they later said on Cheers. For someone who’d felt as disconnected, as rejected and weird as I, it was remarkably comforting, a miracle of sorts: I love these people and they love me.

Drugs weren’t only illegal, they were mind-altering, psychedelic, to use a word that shortly became popular. I must have heard of LSD in 1965. A spate of books and articles, especially in the underground press (local head shops sold the Berkeley Barb), caught our attention: acid was like marijuana but oh, so much more potent. The hype was irresistible: you would see through the veil of materiality to perceive Truth, or God. I was already interested in mysticism and Buddhism. My cohort in Worcester—my new townie friends—also wanted to try the new drug, but we didn’t have the slightest idea where to get it. As the New Yorker of the group, I volunteered to see what I could do.

I took the Trailways bus to the Port Authority Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan and booked a cheap hotel room in Times Square; I didn’t want my parents to know I was in town. I knew where to go: Greenwich Village. I’d collected a few hundred dollars in cash from my Worcester pals. I walked the streets, searching for a longhair—a comrade who looked trustworthy. A guy with hair down below his shoulders sauntered by. I struck up a conversation: Can you score me acid? Yeah, man. I gave him the money. That’s the way it was back then: trust cemented our tribe.

The guy told me to wait in front of a brownstone. I sat on the steps and waited. And waited. And waited. Afternoon turned to evening, to night. The hours went by. I never had the slightest doubt he would return. And he did, with a plastic baggie containing 16 little, football-shaped, shiny orange pills. They bore the name Sandoz: this was laboratory-pure LSD, from the company that invented it.

I took the pills back to Worcester, distributed them to my friends, and took my own hit. Sat back and…and…soared. How do you describe it? I was looking down long, shimmering hallways at the outside world through holes in my head…through my eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth. A crumpled newspaper on the floor was as luminous as View of Toledo. This was what I’d been looking for all my life. It was why I was a hippie. I had discovered mind. It was the first of hundreds of trips I took; I have no way of knowing how many. As Bob Dylan is reputed to have said, If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there.

I soon took to dealing. It was never my intention to make money; I felt it was my “civic duty” as a hippie revolutionary to make drugs widely available and cheap. At one point, I was selling marijuana for $10 an ounce, which was pretty much my cost. One night there was a knock on the door of my apartment. It was a man I didn’t know. He said, “There are people in this town who are upset you’re selling so cheap.” The ordinary going price was $30 an ounce. Then the man left. Somebody told me he was the mafia. I never heard from him again. Was it a threat?

To jump this narrative forward a few years: one day in early 1968 I heard that the Worcester Police were asking questions about me from people they stopped on the street. I was in their sights: the vice squad, which had jurisdiction over drug crimes, had my name. I was naïve, filled with notions of love. All you need is love: love would provide, would conquer all—would even change a cop’s negative mindset. I phoned the police department and asked for a meeting with the head of the vice squad. Sgt. Leahy was a nice-looking, middle-aged Irishman with a buzz cut and piercing, intelligent blue eyes. I told him my story: The drugs I was dealing were benign, indeed beneficial. They were helping to make our world a better place; couldn’t he see that? I would be happy, I told him, to turn him on. Two weeks later, my roommates and I were home one night, smoking. Suddenly there was a violent banging on the door. “Police! Open up!” Six of us were busted. They hauled us downtown in “paddy wagons.” I was fingerprinted and booked and thrown into jail. I called my parents. Once again, their laissez-faire attitude came to the fore. They bailed me out. My father issued what was for him a stern warning: “We’ll give you enough rope to pull yourself out, or hang yourself.” Although the cops found only two ounces of pot and a few “Black Bennies”—Benzedrine–it had been the biggest drug bust in the history of Worcester, New England’s second-largest city. In the end, it cost my parents a lot of money, but I avoided a jail sentence.

I didn’t stop doing drugs (although I did stop dealing), But I moved far from campus, to a flat in East Worcester, a working class neighborhood where I knew no one. I got myself a bicycle to ride back and forth to school, and lived in constant fear of being re-arrested. A new word had entered my lexicon: paranoid. The Buffalo Springfield song, For What It’s Worth, expressed it well:

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

Step out of line, the man come and take you away

“The man” already had taken me away once. Next time, he would take me away again, and that time, there’d be no bail, but jail. Fear began replacing love as the motive force for me, and for so many hippies, in that transitional year of 1968. The Summer of Love, of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, seemed long gone. Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had been murdered; riots, not love-ins, took place in the cities. In San Francisco, where hard drugs were invading Haight-Ashbury, they’d already celebrated “the death of hippie.” It took us a little longer, on the East Coast, to learn that The Sixties—our Sixties—were over. But we—and I—adapted.


Coronavirus, and a courageous Judge speaks out

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Greetings from the San Francisco Bay Area, where since midnight we’ve been living under the tightest restrictions in the country, due to coronavirus.

Six counties, numbering seven million people, have been ordered to “shelter in place.” This is a concept the Bay Area is used to, because of the vast oil refineries that line northern San Francisco Bay. Every once in a while, there’s an accident; people in the vicinity are told to “shelter in place.” But this is the first time that a shelter order has been imposed on the Bay Area as a whole.

We actually have few cases of coronavirus in the East Bay, where I live (Oakland/Berkeley), but there’s a big cluster of cases to the south, in Silicon Valley, and that was enough to convince the county health directors to band together and shut down the six counties. This morning, the freeways are empty, an odd site, because normally they’d be jammed.

We don’t know how long this will last; the initial order is for three weeks but, of course, if things are bad by the second week in April, no doubt the order will be extended, and maybe expanded. During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, here in Oakland the police were under orders to arrest anyone not wearing a gauze face mask (Oakland’s mayor, who refused, was actually brought into custody!). The police are not yet cruising the streets arresting pedestrians—so far as I know. I will shortly leave my house to do a little food shopping, and I hope I don’t get busted!

Anyhow, this is the new normal. It’s very scary and frustrating—worse than an earthquake, really, because earthquakes are over pretty quick, and then you pick up the pieces and get back to living. This pandemic won’t be over pretty quick. It will undoubtedly get worse. Nobody can tell us how much worse. I’ve emailed Gov. Newsom to tell him we, the people, more than ever need trusted leaders, to whom we can look for information and reassurance. I hope the Governor will go on T.V. and address the people of California…not just once, but repeatedly, the way FDR gave his fireside chats.

And now, on another front. Readers: I hope you take a moment to read this letter from James Dannenberg, one of the nation’s top judges, to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Dannenberg just resigned from the Supreme Court Bar, one of the most prestigious legal seats in the country; membership is required for lawyers who wish to argue before the Supreme Court. In his letter, Dannenberg issued a scathing accusation against Roberts, personally, and against the other Republicans who currently serve on the court: Kavanaugh, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch.

Dannenberg’s language is extraordinary. “You are doing far more— and far worse– than ‘calling balls and strikes”” he tells the Chief Justice. “You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.”

There’s much more: “The Court, under your leadership and with your votes, has wantonly flouted established precedent. Your ‘conservative’ majority has cynically undermined basic freedoms by hypocritically weaponizing others.” And, in a sideswipe at the court’s Christian bias: “The ideas of free speech and religious liberty have been transmogrified to allow officially sanctioned bigotry and discrimination, as well as to elevate the grossest forms of political bribery beyond the ability of the federal government or states to rationally regulate it.”

What Dannenberg is saying, in essence, is that Roberts, under Trump’s prompting, has allowed the Supreme Court to become what the Nazi courts became in Germany during Hitler’s 12-year Reich: star chambers, beholden to Himmler’s security forces, which existed for the sole reason to glorify “Der Fuehrer” and to punish his “enemies,” who included anyone thought to oppose the Nazi regime.

Roberts, and the other Republican Justices, no doubt will read Dannenberg’s letter. Will they care about it? Probably not. They have not shown the slightest inclination to respect legal precedent, or the rule of law, or the Constitution, or our American values, so far. It’s unlikely that a mere letter will now convince them otherwise. Roberts is said to worry about his legacy, his position in history. If he is so concerned, he’ll begin siding with the four Democrats on the court, and will speak out against the very excesses Dannenberg is warning him about.

But Roberts, who as a Roman Catholic has to obey, not only his sworn allegiance to the Constitution but also the Vatican’s theocratic views, with its homophobia, anti-scientism and misogyny, may be too far gone into radical conservatism to reverse course, or even to understand how un-American he and the court have become. As for Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, we know they’ve been in the pocket of the rightwing Federalist Society all their careers. They’ve made no secret of whom their masters are: the neo-fascist billionaires who got them on the court. And then there’s Clarence Thomas, who molested Anita Hill, never apologized for it, and has consistently opposed any and all legislation designed to help his fellow Black Americans. In many respects—I firmly believe this—Clarence Thomas will be recorded as the worst Supreme Court justice in history.

So thank you, Judge Dannenberg, for speaking truth to power. I wish that every judge in America would similarly speak up and tell Roberts and his gang at SCOTUS that they’re insults to American jurisprudence.


My Fantasy About Trump

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Do you think Trump regrets saying, barely two weeks ago, that coronavirus was “a Democrat hoax”?

I doubt it. “Regret” means feeling sorry you did or said something. “Feeling sorry” requires a conscience. Trump, a sociopath, has no conscience. In Freudian terms, he lacks a superego—the mind function that suppresses the animal “id.” Trump is all animal id, with the rapacious cleverness of his ego steering the ship.

Nonetheless Trump did call coronavirus “a Democrat hoax” and I hope that the two remaining candidates, Biden and Sanders, remind voters of that all the time. I’m sure they will. Both men, to their credit, are going out of their way to remind the American people how miserable Trump is as a human being. Americans understand that; even Republicans know that he’s despicable. They don’t care, of course—or so they tell themselves—because he’s giving them what they want—judges, restrictions on immigrants, things like that. “Nobody elected Trump America’s pastor,” concede the evangelicals.

I have a fantasy. Let’s say it’s early April, next month. Trump hasn’t been seen in a few days; the tweets have stopped. Everybody’s wondering. Since there’s no longer a daily press briefing, reporters have nobody to ask. Reports begin to leak out from the West Wing: Trump might be ill. The rumor spreads that he had a fever. Somebody said he was coughing and sniffling during a meeting. The nation is in an uproar. Stephanie Grisham is compelled to call in the White House Press Corps. “President Trump is self-quarantining for a while. He came down with some symptoms of a cold or flu.” “Has he been tested for coronavirus?” a journalist asks. “I’m not going to make any statements that compromise President Trump’s right to patient confidentiality,” Grisham replies. This is like poking a stick into a wasps’ nest. The reporters go wild with questions. Grisham ducks out of the room.

That night a convoy of black SUVs and ambulances is seen leaving the White House. Reporters follow. The convoy pulls up to Walter Reed Medical Center; the reporters are kept at least 100 yards away as a special patient is carried into the emergency room. The patient is on a gurney. Reporters can see that the patient is a large man with a fat belly. They cannot see his hair but the word instantly goes out: it’s Trump.

The hospital begins issuing bulletins. The President is in serious condition with pneumonia. No, he’s in critical condition. The family has been summoned: paparazzi catch photos of a black-clad Melania, a subdued Donald Junior, an ashen-faced Ivanka with Jared, looking, as usual, like a mortician. The nation is on the edge of its collective chair. Is the President dying?

April 12, shortly before noon, the official announcement: “The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, died at 11:27 a.m. this morning, of complications caused by COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.” Those old enough to remember a similar announcement about the death of John F. Kennedy are transported back to that moment. But the two moments are dissimilar in this respect: when Kennedy died the nation was plunged into grief. When Trump died, there was dancing in the streets—literally. People cheered and applauded; they leaned out of their windows and blew New Year’s Eve horns, or threw confetti into the streets below. Total strangers high-fived each other; people in movie theaters and on the subways stood and yelled “Hooray.” The scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where the Munchkins sing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” went viral on YouTube.

Republicans said it was shameful the way Democrats celebrated Trump’s death. The Democratic presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, said he regretted some of the excesses but added that it was “understandable” that some people were happy to be rid of Trump. Sean Hannity said Joe Biden ought to be ashamed of himself, forgetting that he, Hannity, once had called for Hillary Clinton to be put to death. A trio of evangelicals—Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham—announced a Holy Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. It would feature country and western stars, preachers, Ted Nugent, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood. The Mayor of Washington, D.C., a Democrat, announced that gatherings of more than 250 people would be banned in his city due to the coronavirus. The evangelicals were outraged; their lawyers demanded that the Supreme Court allow the Holy Memorial Service to proceed. But the Supreme Court, already down to only five Justices because the other four were sick with COVID-19, refused to hear the case. There was no Holy Memorial Service.

Trump was buried at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Michael Pence became the 46th President of the United States. He was assassinated by a deranged white Christian man from Mississippi who thought Pence was Satan. Republicans charged that the assassin had been persuaded to kill the President by Democrats. Rep. Devin Nunes announced he had “evidence” that the Bidens were involved in the conspiracy. House Speaker Pelosi said that, in view of the coronavirus, the U.S. House of Representatives would no longer meet while the pandemic raged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 10,000 for the first time in twenty-five years. The U.S. went into a massive Depression. Joseph Biden was inaugurated as the 47th President of the United States on Jan. 21, 2021. He died of a heart attack two weeks later. His Vice President, Kamala Harris, instantly became the 48th President. She served out her term, was re-elected in 2024, and re-elected again in 2028. The Republican Party never was officially outlawed; it simply ceased to exist, the way the Whig Party stopped functioning in the 19th century. The Democratic Party split into two wings: one progressive, the other moderate. Coronavirus disappeared just like the Republican Party: one day, people realized nobody was getting it anymore.

When people looked back at the events of the early 2020s, they could hardly believe them: it was like a dream. Had America really had a President Trump? Yes, some said; no, others claimed. Eventually, it no longer mattered. Hurricane Imelda destroyed Mar-a-Lago in September, 2025; Trump’s grave was washed out to sea. Donald Trump, Jr. killed himself after his third wife accused him of adultery with a Secret Service man. Ivanka Trump divorced Jared Kushner, who was found guilty of money-laundering in New York and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ivanka restored her fashion design company. Barron Trump appeared on the cover of OUT! Magazine, the nation’s leading gay periodical; in a racy photograph inside, he was nude except for one hand discretely covering his genitals. Life, in other words, went on.


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