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Remembering my mother

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I had a complicated relationship with my mother, Gertrude. She and my father had not expected to have another baby after my older sister was born. But I came along in 1946 and quickly became my mother’s favorite. She adored me and I adored her, in the classic Oedipal way. I can remember being very young, maybe no more than two years old, and just thinking about my mother made me warm all over. She was perfection, heaven-sent.

Of course, that didn’t last. She was emotionally distant, to say the least. This was not a woman who expressed her thoughts or feelings, except in the most superficial way. Nor did she encourage me to express mine to her. She was deeply unhappy, on some level that was inaccessible to me. She was stuck in a tenement in the South Bronx, with a husband, Jack, who had never had ambition and was trapped in a clerical job that paid very little money. Meanwhile, her peers—Jack’s two siblings and her own three brothers—had moved to big houses in the suburbs, with swimming pools and gardens and nice cars. Whatever youthful dreams she’d had (and she must have had them, even though she never talked about them) were crushed by a dreary, middle-class reality and the embarrassment of being “the poor Heimoffs.”

We drifted apart as I reached adulthood. I moved far away from her, first to New England, then to California, while she and Jack moved to South Florida after they both retired. I wrote her frequently, and she wrote me, and we talked on the phone, but these exchanges were never honest or meaningful. I longed to develop a deeper relationship with her, but somehow it just didn’t seem possible.

When I came out of the closet, shortly after Jack died in 1982, Gertrude couldn’t handle it. She wasn’t hostile or aggressive. She was a very polite woman who never forget the Southern etiquette she’d been taught growing up in Oklahoma. Gertrude was never rude. But my oh my, she could shut down and be cold as ice. She let me know, without saying anything, that the topic of my sexual preference was off-limits. It was not to be discussed or even alluded to—not if I wished to maintain whatever fragile relationship we had.

Looking back, I can see how carefully negotiated that relationship was. It teeter-tottered on a delicate balancing point: one was expected to perform the rudiments of a loving relationship, but without any kind of depth of feeling or actual communication. By the time Gertrude moved to California, to live in a luxury retirement community in San Mateo (across the Bay from me), we were as polished as Astaire and Rogers in the choreography of our pas de deux.

Still, I never lost that longing to reach out to her, to connect, to really share our souls before she died. One day, I decided to go for it. She was 87. I invited her to lunch at Brothers, a Jewish deli in Burlingame, where I intended to have “the talk.” I deliberately chose a restaurant so that Gertrude couldn’t freak out. We sat, studied the menu and ordered. She knew something was up; she was a sharp cookie. I began by saying, simply, that I wanted for us to have a little talk about my childhood, about her relationship with Jack (which, in my mind, had been a total fiasco), about my gayness, and why my memories of my childhood were so awful. As Gertrude listened, her eyes welled with tears.

“I don’t know why you’ve convinced yourself you had an unhappy childhood,” she said, dabbing her eyes with the napkin. “We had a very happy household.”

Memories rushed through my mind: Jack’s furious anger, the result of frustration and self-loathing. Gertrude’s silences, the way she cut herself off from her own family every night and got lost in a novel. My own fear and confusion, the horrible feeling of being a monster because of my sexual desires, yet not being able to say anything about it, having no one to confide in or trust. The physical separation I sensed between Gertrude and Jack, with no words of affection, no physical signs of love, just a wary, defensive circling of perimeters. It was a household of nightmares and horror, yet here was Gertrude telling me that it had been Ozzie and Harriet.

It was too much. I couldn’t wrap my head around this cognitive dissonance. How could my memories of childhood be so utterly different from hers? There were only two plausible explanations. One was that I was wrong: in my fever dream I had conjured up a Grimm’s fairy tale about wicked parents, when in reality Gertrude and Jack were just two ordinary people, struggling through a rather ordinary marriage. The other possible explanation was that Gertrude had simply blocked out the truth. That’s the explanation I decided to accept. It was impossible for her to jettison her happy-family fantasy because, were she to do so, the entire infrastructure of the way she explained her life to herself would have been swept away.

She’s 87 years old, I thought. Leave her alone. You’re asking her to do something she’s completely incapable of doing. And so I dropped it. We had lunch, I drove her back to her apartment, kissed her on the cheek, and drove back home to Oakland.

It was an unhappy, unresolved ending to the day I’d planned. But a few years later, Gertrude developed inoperable cancer, and died in the hospital. I was with her almost every day of her final month. We had some very tender moments. As she passed into coma, I brushed her hair. I held her hand, and she gave it a squeeze. The night she went into the death spiral, the nurse called and said I’d better come quickly. I sped across the Bay and arrived in her room well after midnight. Her breathing was labored: the death rattle. I sat by her side until 3 a.m., when, cold and exhausted, I crept into bed with her. She died at 6:03 a.m. that morning, and I swear that she touched my face as she fled this world, like the brush of a feather.


Trump out of the White House: how it might be

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After he left office, Trump ran into all sorts of problems. When the moving vans arrived at Mar-a-Lago with his and Melania’s White House stuff, they were pelted with eggs and bags of feces, as angry Palm Beachers let the Trumps know how they felt about them. The West Palm Beach City Council passed a resolution stating the official opposition of the city to having disgraced Trumps live in their midst. Trump and Melania then took off on what his spokeman called “an extended vacation.” They were spotted in Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Zagreb. A local feature magazine reprinted a photo by papparazi showing both Trump and Melania having gained a lot of weight.

In Washington, D.C., New York, Bedminster, Stamford CT, Jersey City, Hollywood FL, Las Vegas and other U.S. cities, Trump hotels and golf clubs were picketed; some were forced to close, while others found themselves with civil lawsuits filed against them. Reports circulated that the Trumps were afraid to return to America. The Trump children, particularly the most recognizable among them (Ivanka, Donald, Jr. and Eric) were routinely confronted wherever they went. Donald, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Gilfoyle, had to leave the upscale Tasca NYC restaurant, where they were dining outdoors, after other customers screamed and spat at them. Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were asked to resign from their membership in the Temple of Israel synagogue, after 285 members signed a petition urging them to leave. The couple also had to stop shopping at their favorite stores near their Manhattan residence in Trump Tower after proprietors informed them they were no longer welcome. Eric Trump was no longer seen in public; a confidant, who requested anonymity, explained that he was taking anti-depressants and hardly went outdoors anymore.

And the lawsuits came rushing in. The Southern District of New York plunged ahead with its criminal charges of tax evasion and the payment of hush money. The New York State Attorney-General indicted Trump and six of his associates for various criminal violations. Twenty women filed civil charges against Trump for sexual harassment. The U.S. Justice Department, under Attorney-General Merrick Garland, announced it was investigating Trump and the Trump campaign in at least ten areas, including the unresolved charges against Trump stemming from the Mueller probe. The New York Times reported that Trump was having trouble finding reputable lawyers to defend him, and that his legal bills were already in excess of $12 million. When Rudy Giuliani died of a heart attack, Trump lost the only lawyer who remained devoted to him.

Trump is said by those close to him as being “depressed and almost suicidal.” Several sources revealed that, wherever he happens to be living, he has access to his favorite television station, Fox News, and to a range of newspapers. He is said to exchange hardly a word all day with Melania; the two dine separately and lead separate lives. The former president’s weight allegedly has ballooned to more than 325 pounds, as he stuffs himself on fatty junk food. Rumors that he was going to launch his own television network have quieted in recent weeks, as Trump apparently has lost interest, at least temporarily.

“He’s a sad, lonely, isolated and desperate man,” a source said. “He spends his days online, looking for proof that Hillary Clinton broke the law, that Obama really was born in Kenya, that Hunter Biden colluded with the Ukrainians, that he really did win the election in a landslide. Nobody dares to correct him. It’s a sad ending to a once-spectacular career.”


Telegram, Signal, and how the Insurrectionists communicate

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There’s a lot of hand-wringing in national security circles over two new apps, Signal and Telegram. They both utilize so-called end-to-end encryption, which means (explains the New York Times) that “no one but the sender and receiver can read its contents.”

Security professionals (Homeland Security, the F.B.I., Secret Service and so on) see at least one advantage in older social media platforms, like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter: they were public. It wasn’t easy for posters to shield their comments from scrutinizing eyes. When Qanon and the Proud Boys planned their insurrection on social media sites, everybody knew exactly what to expect (which makes the lack of preparedness of law enforcement on Jan. 6 all the more egregious).

The rightwing Trump radicals now know (if they didn’t know before) that Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) and similar sites are not safe places for them to talk. For a while, they flocked to Parler, but that social network has now been effectively neutralized, after being banned by Amazon and Apple from their app stores.

Hence the rise of Signal and Telegram. And that rise has been rapid and phenomenal. In the last week alone, Telegram has become “the second most downloaded app in the United States,” with 540,000 U.S. iPhone owners installing Telegram in the six days following last Wednesday’ Insurrection, reports the Moscow Times. (The sourcing is interesting, as Telegram’s co-founder is a Russian, Pavel Durov.) Amazingly, adds the Moscow Times, “Only Signal, another secure messaging app, saw a bigger surge in the past week.” That surge appears to have been prompted after Elon Musk tweeted on his Twitter account the words “Use Signal,” which subsequently was retweeted by Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.

What’s going on here? A couple things. The reasons why Musk endorsed Signal are not hard to understand, says the online media site, CNET. Let’s ignore his dislike of Facebook, which is common knowledge. The real reason, says CNET, is because “Signal…has a history of fighting any entity that asks for your data, and adds features to further anonymize you where possible.” Musk is a privacy freak, which is why he banned SpaceX employees from using ZOOM for video conferencing, after it was revealed that ZOOM suffered from numerous security problems.

In this sense, what Elon Musk has in common with the rightwing Insurrectionists is an insatiable desire for absolute, uninvadable online privacy. Which poses questions that are especially important at this moment in history. We all want online privacy. Nobody wants to be hacked, or overheard, or have their data shared with third parties. One problem with existing social media, obviously, is that mega-companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter make money by selling our data to third parties. With that income stream, these companies would cease to exist.

Telegram and Signal, by contrast, do not share data, nor do they sell ads. How, then, do they make money? Here’s what Telegram says on its public blog: “We believe in fast and secure messaging that is also 100% free. Our founder and CEO Pavel Durov, who financed Telegram throughout most of its history, has outlined a strategy to make Telegram sustainable. While Telegram will introduce monetization in 2021 to pay for the infrastructure and developer salaries, making profits will never be an end-goal for us.”

Durov further addressed the issue of a business model on his personal Telegram “channel”: After conceding that, once his personal investment in Telegram ends, Telegram will require “at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going,” Durov vows that “We are not going to sell the company.” The needed income, he says, rather vaguely, will be obtained in “a non-intrusive way…Most users will hardly notice any change.” Durov insists he will continue Telegram’s policy of no ads “in private 1-to-1 chats.” But—and it’s a big “but”–Dirov says Telegram will start selling ads on “public one-to-many channels.”

Since it is Telegram’s (and Signal’s) “one-to-many channels” that are the way rightwing Insurrectionists communicate (you can hardly plan a revolution one-to-one), I wonder how long it will be before the people who are fleeing Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. will start fleeing Telegram and Signal. It’s beginning to look like the digital equivalent of a Cold War-style arms race: users flock to new, free, non-commercial sites to communicate. Those new, free sites, which can continue only by making money, will gradually erode the purity that attracted people to them in the first place by becoming commercial, leading those people to seek someplace more amenable. It’s whack-a-mole on the Internet. Besides, isn’t it just a matter of time before federal authorities find ways to bust into Telegram and Signal? They seem eager now to find and break up the Trump thugs–and in a Biden administration, I should think law enforcement will double their efforts.

The good news is that this splintering of communications platforms will make it much harder for militant radicals to find a common public square in which to get their acts together. They simply will be unable to plan, plot and organize their activities efficiently, on a mass basis. That may be the first step toward, if not getting rid of them, then at least making them nuisances rather than threats. The technology that helped spawn them, ironically, may help to bring them down.


An evangelical reckoning

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Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not a fan of evangelicals. Nearly 40 years ago I realized how radical, irrational, hateful and anti-American they are—in their vicious homophobia, in their scientific ignorance, in their white supremacy, in their intolerance of other religions. When Trump came on the scene, with his sociopathic narcissism and obvious contempt for Christianity, there began in this country a much-needed debate: how could evangelicals support a self-professed sexual predator who had been divorced multiple times, who bullied his subordinates, cheated his vendors, and lied pathologically? The question was asked over and over, and yet, even as the evidence piled up of Trump’s amorality, we saw evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson never waver in their support. As disreputable as evangelicism already was (with all its sexual scandals), it fell even further into the gutter of Trump muck.

After last week’s Incitement of Insurrection by Trump, his family and his surrogates, the debate among evangelicals has had new life breathed into it. This article, from public radio station KQED’s website, is about an interview with a well-known evangelical, who seems finally to have realized what a grave mistake he made in supporting Trump. His name is Ed Stetzer, and he’s head of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College—yes, the same Billy Graham who was the father of the notorious Trump stooge, Franklin Graham.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Stetzer confesses that evangelical support of Trump is the height of hypocrisy. “We just need to be honest…A lot of people sold out their beliefs.” What were those beliefs? Stetzer isn’t talking about Graham’s catechismic beliefs (anti-abortion, anti-gay, Biblical infallibility, the Trinity, etc.). No, he’s talking about Graham’s broader views on human decency and morality. Here are some quotes of Billy Graham, courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

“The world needs moral leadership that respects the rights of all men and women—rights that God designed for our benefit.”

“Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). When we live by the truth, we possess integrity.”

“Many people ask, what is integrity?…I believe integrity can be restored to a society one person at a time. The choice belongs to each of us.”

Billy Graham is no longer alive, but what would he think of what Trump did last Wednesday? Would he call that “moral leadership”? Would he call Trump’s denial of the election result “living by the truth”? Would he claim that Donald J. Trump has “integrity”?

Stetzer, the evangelical, knows that no honest evangelical can possibly support Trump. “How did we get here?” he asks, referring to the solid wall of evangelical support for a low, dishonest president. “How were we so easily fooled by conspiracy theories? Our allegiance is to King Jesus, not to what boasting political leader might come next.”

Stetzer confesses that over the last four years he hasn’t always been comfortable with Trump, but he never came out publicly against him—until now. “The storming of the Capitol, the desecration of our halls of democracy,” he says, “has shocked and stunned a lot of people and how President Trump has engaged in riling up crowds to accomplish these things.” Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021—a date that will live in infamy—was the last straw for Stetzer. He knows that Trump’s claim that the election was rigged is totally bogus, and he’s urging preachers, in their Sunday sermons, to explain to their flocks that Trump is a serial liar, that Joe Biden won, and that Republican politicians who parrot Trump’s lies are themselves lying. “Jesus says ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ So Jesus literally identifies himself as the truth, therefore if there ever should be a people who care about the truth it should be people who call themselves followers of Jesus.”

Well, good for Ed Stetzer. I’m glad he finally came around. But where was he three years ago, two years ago, one year ago, six months ago? Trump was the exact same monster then as he is now. We all saw it, most of us Americans who weren’t blind, deaf and dumb. I would argue that Stetzer saw it, too. But he pretended he didn’t. He was so enamored of super-Christian judges like Coney Barrett and Kavanaugh that he was willing to see “King Jesus” crucified a second time, on the Cross of Trump.

Stetzer is going to have to live with his decisions, the same way that Insurrrectionists like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are going to have to live with theirs. At least, Stetzer can comfort himself in the knowledge that he eventually came along: late repentance isn’t as good as early repentance, but at least it’s repentance. Cruz, Hawley and all the rest of the Congressional Republicans who still mouth the Big Lie have not yet repented. As Ricky Ricardo might say, they have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, both here on Earth and in the Heaven they claim to believe in.


Watching too much T.V. lately?

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I realized today that I’m treating coverage of this Insurrection as just the latest T.V. episode of the Trump Show, which I’ve watched with a certain compulsion for more than four years. It’s like getting hooked on The Sopranos or Homeland (which I did); every episode is better than the last, and all you want is more. What happens next? It’s all so exciting!

It’s embarrassing for me to admit that. Trump isn’t just good T.V. (although he is), he’s the worst thing that’s happened to America in my lifetime. As fascinating as I find the television coverage (and it is), this isn’t just entertainment. Those insane clowns who invaded the Capitol weren’t extras on some Hollywood set, they’re real people caught on camera, with their death stares and pipe bombs. So I have decidedly mixed feelings when I turn the T.V. on first thing in the morning and leave it on until I go to bed.

I know people who would say, “Kill your T.V.” They believe that everything “out there” is a lie. The correct approach to life, in their view, is to shut out the external world (or, at least, the political and commercial parts) and get in touch with your true self. While I have a certain amount of admiration for that philosophy, I fundamentally reject it. The political parts of the external world aren’t going away, whether you’re aware of them or not. Politics and law affect us at every level. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” means, to me, that we citizens should participate in our democracy by voting, by studying the issues, and by understanding who’s on our side and who’s against us. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your private, contemplative side. It does mean that it’s stupid to stick your head in the sand and pretend that the rightwing religious fanatics in the Republican Party are not a danger to you and your loved ones.

I think this is why Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people.” He meant that government is the single greatest influence upon every aspect of our lives, our health, our freedom, and our happiness. To me, the people who say “Turn off your T.V.” have eaten the opiate of non-participation in our country. Never has it been more important for Americans to participate, in the way I defined above: voting, studying the issues, and understanding who’s on our side. Every American should know full well that he or she does have enemies. If you’re gay, you have enemies. If you’re a person of color, you have enemies. If you’re Muslim, you have enemies. If you’re an immigrant, you have enemies. If you believe in science, you have enemies. If you’re not a rightwing Christian, you have enemies. It couldn’t be clearer. Donald J. Trump has given the enemies of freedom and democracy legitimacy and standing. That should concern everybody who cares about America.

But, in the end, am I watching too much television? Maybe. But where do you draw the line? These are momentous times. I love History; I study it and believe in it, and right now we’re watching History unfold in an extremely dramatic way. I pity people who don’t care. They think they can live their lives insulated from what’s happening all around them. They will continue to think that, until their own particular enemies come for them. But by then, as Pastor Niemoller reminds us, it will be too late.


It’s All Over, Baby Trump

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So now, the Insurrectionists are planning a Million MAGA March on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. (In some instances, it’s being called the Million Militia March.) For the record, I call it the Million Moron March.

Isn’t that special? All those nice, patriotic Americans who celebrated Trump on Jan. 6 are coming back to Washington. They had such a nice time, they’re doing it again.

Look: We just had an attempted coup d’état that came perilously close to becoming a mass casualty event in the Capitol. The thugs got away with it because the Capitol Police—whose leadership in my opinion was in cahoots with them—allowed them to run amok. Fortunately, the Nation rallied in time to drive the criminals back, and now the F.B.I. is rounding them up. The conventional wisdom is that, while the days preceding Jan. 6 offered tons of warning about what the thugs were planning, “security officials” didn’t catch on.

This time, the warning signals for Jan. 20 are abundant. The Pentagon is going to have to turn out regular troops of the Army to protect the Inauguration, and not just a few troops: thousands and thousands of them. And they have to be aided by thousands and thousands of National Guardsmen, thousands of cops from Washington, D.C. and nearby Maryland and Virginia municipalities, and a helluva lot of F.B.I. and D.H.S. muscle. In short, the government will have to assemble the biggest domestic military presence in U.S. history. That will upset the poor little rightwing coup plotters, which is ironic: they’re always droning on and on about law and order and how much they love our men and women in uniform. But when our men and women in uniform are out there protecting the Constitution, suddenly Trump’s maniacs are screaming for their scalps. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.

Personally, I hope that a ton of white supremacist ammosexuals do gather for their Million Moron March. That way, we’ll have them all in one place, where they’ll be easier to round up, instead of having to hunt them down in every trailer park in the country. It obviously won’t be possible to arrest all of them (although it’s a nice thought…), but we can pick off, say, a few thousand. And we can have mass trials: hell, Trump had mass trials for immigrants from the South, thereby establishing the precedent. How fitting that Trumpers themselves will be tried en masse. Picture, in your imagination, some of those ugly, distorted faces from the Trump Insurrection:

They were so bold and brave when they were surrounded by their ilk. But what will they look like when they’re having their mug shots taken, or when they hear the Judge announce their sentences:

“For the Crime of participating in an Insurrection against the United States of America, this Court sentences you to forty years in a Federal prison.”

I may be a little more vengeful than some, but I suspect that most Democrats, and a good many Independents, share my feeling. I’ve been active in The Resistance since before it was called The Resistance. I’ve written hundreds of posts showing the criminal insanity of Trump and his cult; I’ve been calling for his imprisonment for years. Now, finally, his karma has caught up with him: he’s disgraced, with no political future, his business empire likely to be in tatters. Wherever he decides to live, his neighbors will make life unpleasant. He could easily lose his freedom and find himself in the pokey (that would be my preference). Yes, Trump finally overstepped the boundaries. For years, he drew the line further and further out, making us wonder if he’d step over it, and he always did—and got away with it. No more. He’s not getting away with this. The Era of Trump ends with a Bang.


The Hunt For Trump

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“There he goes!”

“Where?”

We were in a sub-grouping of about 1,000 people, part of a huge group of hundreds of thousands that had come to Washington to hunt Trump down. People were fanning out all over the downtown area. Some headed over to Foggy Bottom, on rumors that Trump had a submarine waiting for him in the Potomac, to whisk him away someplace. Others went towards Dupont Circle and Embassy Row; there had been reports that a foreign embassy (Russia? Saudi Arabia? The Emirates?) would provide him asylum. The group I was part of was looking for him to the east, in the blocks toward Trump International Hotel. That’s when we heard the woman yell, “There he goes!”

We turned our heads in her direction. “Where?” “Are you sure?” “Which direction?” There was plenty of chaos in that fog of war.

“Of course I’m sure!” She was a small, thin woman with red hair and a Biden-Harris sweatshirt. She was pointing past the White House Visitor Center down Pennsylvania Avenue. “I know it was him! The orange hair! The fat ass! He was alone! And running!”

“Where did he go?” I shouted.

“He turned at 12th Street Northwest and disappeared around the corner.”

“He’s headed towards his hotel!” someone cried out. Like a flock of gulls, we pivoted as a unit and began running towards the hotel. When we got there, it was surrounded by uniformed troops carrying big weapons. There was no sign of Trump.

As night fell, I went back to my hotel. The quarry had eluded us—temporarily. The “Hunt For Trump,” as it became known in the media, had grown from a simple tweet—“Why don’t we march on Washington, find him, and have a trial?”–into a spontaneous phenomenon of tremendous power. Within three days, close to half-a-million of us had flown, driven, hitch-hiked and trained into Washington. Some stayed in expensive hotels; others set up tents in The Ellipse. I myself was lucky to have gotten a room in the Hampton Inn, only blocks from the White House, for the relatively cheap price of $85 a night. Restaurants and bars were closed everywhere, of course, thanks to the pandemic, but the bars were serving take-out. As the night was mild, a group of about twelve of us took our drinks and gathered around an outdoor fountain in front of the hotel.

“We have to find him,” said a big, beefy guy who wore a red and white Washington Nationals baseball cap backwards. He had a long pony tail.

“How do we even know he’s still here?” asked a Black guy I’d met earlier, by the name of Rodney.

“He has to be,” I said. “The entire city is closed off by the National Guard. The airports are on super-alert. He’s here. I can smell him.”

“Maybe he got away on that submarine,” said a woman who gave her name as Elise. “I mean, he could be halfway across the Atlantic by now.”

“It’s possible,” I countered. “But as long as there’s a possibility he’s trapped in D.C., we have to keep up the Hunt.”

Then a young guy with an iPhone interrupted. “Hey!” he shouted, looking at his little screen. “Somebody on Twitter is saying he was just spotted at the FBI Building!”

Everybody pulled out his own cell phone and began pecking in search orders.

“There’s nothing posted at the FBI website,” said an older man, improbably dressed in a suit and tie.

“Nothing on MSNBC,” said a sharp-featured lady.

“Wait!” It was a very young woman, with shimmering black hair. “I’m on TikTok. Somebody says he’s in the lobby of the FBI, surrounded by Proud Boys and Qanon people, making a last stand!”

That’s all it took. We raced off to the east, toward E Street, where the FBI headquarters is. Along the way, we saw tens of thousands of our fellow Hunters, all headed in the same direction. The air was electric. Something big was happening. We picked up the pace.

We could barely get within half-a-block of the FBI, so thronged were the streets. People held signs: LOCK HIM UP! TRUMP THE TRAITOR! JAIL THE ENTIRE TRUMP FAMILY! CRUZ AND HAWLEY TO GITMO! Suddenly there was a glow in the night: a fiery torch! Then another! And another! People were holding their torches aloft, like a scene from Frankenstein. The crowd pressed in closer to the FBI building; I was carried irresistibly along with the wave.

Helicopters were buzzing overhead. I heard voices over loudspeakers but they were crackly and muffled and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Flashbulbs from phone cams and media cameras went off like strobe lights. The helicopters threw down bright, sharp spotlights. The scene was complete mayhem. The next thing I knew, people were screaming and yelling. Somebody was saying something about the Proud Boys. I heard a gunshot, then another. Then my nostrils pinched and I reeled and couldn’t breathe, as the tear gas settled down on our heads.

* * *

Well, we all know how it ended. The Virginia and Maryland National Guards, thank goodness, came to our rescue, assisted by D.C. Police and uniformed men and women from the various alphabet agencies of the Federal government who remained loyal to the Constitution. The Proud Boys, Q, and all the violent rightwing militias were rounded up, in fierce battles, defeated, and taken away in dark-colored buses and vans. Trump himself was arrested. I’ll never forget the scene: handcuffed, his usually carefully-coiffed hair in wild disarray, he was led down the steps by uniformed troops, their weapons drawn, and inserted into a tank. From there, he was taken to the D.C. Central Detention Facility, where he was kept under armed guard until his trial. He is now serving a prison sentence of 100 years for the crime of inciting an Insurrection against the United States of America. The Senators and Congressmen who objected to Biden’s election have all been expelled from Congress and have been charged with similar crimes; Hawley is serving a life term at the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Ted Cruz committed suicide. Three of Trump’s children—Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka—are in jail. President Biden just rejoined the Paris Accords. His approval rating stands at 72%. And in a survey of 500 historians, 492 of them ranked Trump the worst president ever. There remain bastions of dead-end Trumpers here and there, particularly in rural areas of the country, but they’re being eradicated. I like this quote from one woman, an Alabaman: “I voted for Trump twice. I was really angry when Biden won, and I believed that Democrats and liberals had stolen the election. But then my kids and my husband did an intervention on me, and now I can see I was hypnotized, or whatever. I can’t explain it. But I see clearly now. Trump really is a monster.”

Amen.


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