Monthly Archives: May 2024



      He died in a far away land. On a road outside a town whose name no one back home could easily pronounce. There was no big battle reported in the news accounts, nor any strategic maneuver to which his death could be attributed. Just a short-lived attack on an army convoy moving from one place in a desolate foreign land to another.

       Perhaps there was a reason why the insurgents — which is what the army now called these faceless enemies — decided to attack his convoy rather than another. More likely, it was the opportunity that made the decision, the presence of a convoy on an unprotected road being all the logic required for the monster of war to feed on another youngster’s life. 

       If there was a reason for the attack it seemed too obvious to be worth the price of his death. For every casualty was now a strategic prize in and of itself. A minor victory in the war to convince the American TV audience that the loss of each soldier was without purpose when it happened in a war that seemed itself without purpose.

       His was a company of military police. They had no strategic mission other than to help bring order to a land that had been brutal and violent since before the sands took sovereignty over its vast, unwelcoming terrain.

       And now this young man who was a stranger to us in life becomes a brief visitor to our world through the magic of television. We see his photo, taken after he had already left the playing fields of his youth to be groomed by a military that had offered him . . . what? Adventure? Four years of college tuition? A chance to see the world? A ticket out of the small Southeastern Massachusetts town that had known and nurtured him for 18 of his 20 years? 

       False promises, all. The adventure ended far too quickly. There would never be a college career. The world, it turned out, had nothing to show that was worth the price he would be asked to pay. And the last thing he would be given was a return ticket to this small Southeastern Massachusetts town. Coming home in a box draped with an American flag and accompanied by a military escort.

       He was a star on his high school football team, or so we are told by his former coach. And though we never saw him play nor cheered his efforts we somehow feel we know him better because he had excelled in this quintessential American sport. Neighbors tell us what a good boy he had been and what a tragic loss this is for anyone who knew him.

       The TV news reporters, faced with a family not ready to share its grief, repeatedly show us the exterior of the simple ranch style home in which the vanquished soldier had lived out his boyhood. A large American flag is draped next to the front door, originally placed there most likely to remind the world of all the sons and daughters off fighting in distant lands. Now, ironically, it serves as a mute testament to one son who would soon be coming home. 

       Near the end of the news report we find ourselves at Town Hall listening to selectmen react to the town’s first loss of a native son — the 13th Massachusetts casualty of the war we are told. One selectman who graduated high school a few years ahead of the soldier remembered him as positive and upbeat, a man fighting for what he believed was right. Another, much older in years and less certain about why the soldier had gone to war, merely stated, with the power that comes when profound truths are offered simply, “It’s a great loss. It hurts. He was one of our own.”

       The news report ends with yet one more glimpse of the soldier’s home lit up by the lights of the TV crew, the American flag still hanging next to the front door, the unseen family still grieving in silence behind the weathered shingles. They more than anyone must be searching to find meaning in the death of one so young. They better than anyone know the truth of the elder selectman’s words.

       “He was one of our own.”


If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering how normal everyday Americans can support Republican politicians who lie on a daily basis. Not only lie, but are so protective of those lies they feel compelled to punish their GOP colleagues who have the courage not to lie. 

Republican politicians, once the standard bearers of law and order, have today become, under the feckless and dishonest leadership of Donald Trump, the standard bearers of sophistry and sycophancy, better known as lying and ass-kissing. It is not enough to abandon their principles, or conveniently forget the oaths they took to honor and defend the Constitution, but now they must twist themselves and the words they speak to conform to “The Truth as espoused by Donald Trump.” 

They cannot see the irony in the slogan “Stop The Steal,” even when it’s used in a violent attempt to steal the 2020 election from the man who actually won the contest. Nor can they see the dangers inherent when political leaders attack the very institutions they were elected to serve. 

No, their guiding star is frighteningly easy to follow. Trump is powerful enough to threaten their political survival. Thus, no matter what Trump says or does, no matter how vile or damaging his words and actions, they will stand by him as long as they have a shred of honor or pride left to sacrifice.

Witness the impromptu Hall of Shame set up this week by Republican officeholders outside the Manhattan courtroom where Donald Trump is on trial. It is not for them to worry about the wrongs or rights of Trump falsifying legal documents to hide his violation of federal and state election laws. Of far more significance is Trump’s quest for vice presidential candidates who will show mindless subjugation and fealty to their president, even when the Constitution says they shouldn’t.

Senators J.D. Vance, Rick Scott and Tommy Tuberville; Speaker of the House Mike Johnson,; Congressmen Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds and Jason Miller; and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgun— SHAME ON YOU! 

SHAME ON ALL OF YOU! You have shown yourselves unfit for any duties defined or proscribed by the United States Constitution. 

But be careful, you who sell your souls so cheaply! 

You are riding the momentary winds of shortsighted political favor. Woe to you when those winds shift. 

For then, without truth, honor or principles to cling to, you will only have Trump’s hollow lies and empty promises to keep you afloat.

You can ask Michael Cohen what those are worth.


M heard a knock on his office door. A knock followed by a short pause, then two brief staccato taps of a knuckle.

“Come in, 007!” M called. “Just the man I wanted to see.”

James Bond walked in and gingerly stepped up to the leather chair in front of M’s desk, slowly lowering his handsome, well-dressed 6 foot, two inch frame onto the well-padded seat.

“You know, sir,” Bond, half-apologetic, started to say, “I was scheduled to begin a two-week holiday today…” 

M abruptly cut him off. “Sorry 007, but no holiday for you this week. Nor for anyone. That sound you cannot hear—because this is His Majesty’s Secret Service, after all—would be alarm bells sounding ‘All hands on deck, battle stations!’ 

Rubbing his weary face with both hands, M continued, “I’m sorry to inform you all leaves and holidays have been cancelled, because quite seriously the fate of Western Civilization is hanging in the balance, once again. And your bloody holiday will just have to wait.”

“Understood, sir,” Bond said, softly backing away from any hint of annoyance. “But, please, M, tell me what is going on?” he probed delicately, “Not the Russians again?” 

“Nail on the head, 007!” M answered. “Bloody Putin has set loose the most devastating of all known modern weapons, and the entire Western Alliance is under threat.”

“Virus?” Bond queried.

“No, far more deadly than that, if you can imagine.”

“Anthrax?” Bond continued to probe. “Nuclear radiation? Space lasers? Killer Bees?”

“Stupidity!” M finally offered. “Stupidity fueled by greed, petulance, narcissism, racism and self-aggrandizement on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the days of Adolph Hitler.”

“You mean…” Bond gasped, the answer rising to the surface of his consciousness.

“Yes,” M answered with bitter distaste, “Orangefinger!”

Orangefinger, the name given by the British Secret Service to the arch fool and blundering former American president, Donald J. Trump. Long suspected by Western intelligence services of being a Russian stooge, President Trump had wrecked havoc within the Western Alliance in his historically chaotic term as the 45th American president. If not a Putin plant, then a useful idiot, as the Russians like to call them; a man so inept and self-absorbed that, when placed in a position of power, he automatically made the worst decisions, focused as he usually was on his own best interests and inclinations rather than the need of the moment. 

“Yes, but after one disastrous Trump term wouldn’t the Americans see Orangefinger for exactly what he is?” Bond asked. “A liar, a thief, a traitor, a serial sexual predator? After all that, how much damage can one man do?”

“Heaps!” M grimaced, with his briar pipe clenched in his teeth, and a gold-plated butane lighter poised to ignite it. “More damage than we can afford,” he added, firing the bowl while sucking in lungs full of his custom blended Amphora Gold and Brown pipe tobacco, available exclusively at Harrod’s.

Poking the air with the stem of his pipe, M pressed the point. “Recall how quickly Orangefinger disabled the Paris Accords and quashed the nuclear agreement with Iran,” he reminded Bond. 

“Within months of taking office,” M. continued, “by those two acts alone, Orangefinger inflamed global warming and set back the control of nuclear weapons by a full generation at least. 

“God only knows what mischief he’ll create should he win back the Oval Office.” M concluded. “He’s already talking about suspending the American Constitution, arresting political enemies, replacing federal employees with political sycophants, erecting concentration camps… And, if he’s a really useful idiot to Putin, he’ll act on his threat to shut down NATO, and thereby de-stabilize the entire Western Alliance.

“Make no mistake, 007, the world can ill-afford a second Orangefinger presidential term.

“My word!” Bond gasped, quickly seeing the threat in its full entirety. “It would be like offering Putin an invitation to reap havoc anywhere on the planet he so wishes,” he concluded.

“Truly frightening, M,” Bond frowned, “but what can I do? Frankly, this problem seems above my pay grade.”

“It won’t all be on your shoulders, 007, I promise. We’ve brought in a specialist.” M picked up a slip of paper from his desk and read aloud, “Agent 008! Excellent chap, he’s been assigned to serve as your lead agent on the case. He’s an American, very skillful I’m told. Brought over specifically because of prior experience he’s had successfully fighting Orangefinger and Putin in the field.”

M folded the slip of paper and said, almost as though reminding himself, “No need talking about the man when I can introduce him just as easily.”

He pressed a button hidden beneath his desk and, simultaneously, Bond heard a buzzer sounding outside in Miss Moneypenny’s office.

M stood to an almost military stance as his office door swung open once again. 

“James,” M said almost formally, “please say hello to Agent…” 

Upon seeing his visitor standing in the door, M left the sentence incomplete while rereading the slip of paper in his hand. 

“Excuse me,” M continued, “I seem to have misspoke. Not Agent 008, but Agent 0081.”

Bond looked over to see, standing square in the frame, an elderly gentleman wearing aviator sunglasses, a navy blue baseball cap and a wide bright smile.

Taking off his glasses, the stranger winked and said,  “0081 at your service, gentlemen.” 

Then, restoring the sunglasses, he added, “But you can call me Dark Brandon. “


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