Freedom of Speech Is A License to Speak — Use It, Or Lose It!

As writers, we have a responsibility to speak out when things get under our skin and poke at our gut in an unrelenting way.

Words that evoke emotion or provoke thought is what writers do and should be doing, especially now at a time of one-party government led by an authoritarian bent president.

Jessica Kourkounis via Getty Images Breannamarsh15 via Reddit

Yes, our President has authoritarian tendencies. He embraces dictators like Putin, Duterte, and Erdogan and condemns our democratic allies — And no, I’m not speaking as a progressive, though I wear the label proudly. I’m speaking as a citizen of our great democracy, as someone who can’t sleep at night when I think about the man who sits in the oval office with a temperament of a five-year-old.

You may have noticed that his epidermis is thin. He can’t take criticism or responsibility for his actions or words. He has no problem blaming others for his mistakes then sacrificing them to save himself. His only loyalties are to his family and his bank accounts. That is the only constant in a chaotic administration ruled by an unstable man.

His masculinity is threatened if he’s not a “winner” or doesn’t have the biggest crowds. *wink* *wink* He responds to unflattering accusations by lashing out with pompous, incredulous lies to protect his manhood, while undermining the institutions that are a framework of our democracy: the press, the intelligence agencies, the judicial branch, the scientists and the laws that he believes don’t apply to him.

You might think he’s dumb or crass or inept at diplomacy. It doesn’t matter. He is capable of destroying us by the power he wields in the highest office, along with the controlling party of one that enables him, putting party over country to hold onto power.

The GOP started their power grab years ago by redefining electoral districts through Gerrymandering. They continued their absorption of power and deference to the powerful by hijacking Obama’s supreme court seat to keep the court conservative, by denying the reality of science for the sake of oil company profits, and by tweaking the Senate rules to favor lobbyists and special interest groups. If they approve Trump’s budget, they’ll cut programs for the poor and middle class and change the tax code to enrich the rich, allowing billionaires to control our country like Russian oligarchs — the men Trump admires and emulates.

It isn’t paranoid to think there could be a political shift in this country from democracy to autocracy. The cracks are evident in our divided political system and the uncertainty of what is real or false. Thanks to Trump’s cult-like repetition ridiculing and demeaning the “dishonest media” and branding them as “an enemy of the people.”

Undermining and vilifying the media is a playbook often used by dictators to effect a radical change in government.

“The phrase “enemy of the people” — that has a history. The only people that I know that have used that phrase were (Joseph) Stalin and the people who succeeded Stalin in the Soviet Bloc,” Nadler said. “The press is not the ‘enemy of the people.’ Nobody is an ‘enemy of the people,’ because they disagree with me or you about what we ought to be doing.”

During Trump’s recent overseas trip, he shut out the media, conducted press briefings off camera, and never held a press conference in order to control the coverage. According to MSNBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell:

When world leaders convened at the G7 Summit in Italy, the United States was the only country that didn’t hold press conferences:

If we ignore signs of the erosion of our freedoms or dismiss the notion as progressive neurosis or hysterical hyperbole, autocracy will blindside us one day.

It has happened before to people in nations content in their complacency of unintended ignorance. It happened while they sleepwalked through their day and missed the legislative creep of plutocratic policy passed by their leaders, as they pulled the strings that unraveled the fabric of society.

Whether we agree or disagree on right/left wedge issues is irrelevant, as long as we can agree that we need to be free in order to disagree.

White House Pulls The Plug On Meals On Wheels

Caution Elderly CrossingConsidered a non-essential item in the White House budget, the Meals on Wheels program will likely be terminated along with grandma — “Whose life expectancy exceeds her value to society,” according to the budget overview.

“Non-essential spending on people who’ve outlasted their expiration date will be shifted to essential budgets like the military, to help pay for wars caused by Trump‘s early morning Twitter rants.”

A White House aide cited the President’s recent tweet on North Korea and China as a reason for the increase in military spending.

Trump Disses China

“We started an office pool in the West Wing on who will attack first,” but then refused to reveal the country on which he placed his bet.

He told reporters that Trump’s poor diplomatic skills also factored into the budget increase “because of POTUS‘s tendency to insult world leaders not amused by him.” The aide emphasized the importance of shutting down non-essential programs to maintain a strong military “by killing off the weaklings that are almost dead anyway.”

During a recent White House briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer justified the White House’s decision on Meals on Wheels. “The President’s goal is to shift government spending from old people programs like Meals on Wheels to the youth-centric Parking Space Restoration Plan that eliminates handicap parking and wheelchair ramps.”

Reporters responded with aggressive handwaving and yelling in an effort to ask follow-up questions, which ended abruptly when Spicer threw a shoe at a reporter who spoke out of turn and got a timeout in the back corner of the room.

The briefing resumed a few moments later despite Spicer’s inability to locate the shoe he threw at the reporter. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “That I can’t find my shoe… and that money is wasted on failing programs like Meals on Wheels…”

He continued. “Feeding people who have no interest in living or eating is a counter-productive use of public resources and an unnecessary drain on the Federal budget. Look, no one’s thriftier than I am,” then he lifted his shoeless foot and wiggled a toe through a hole in his sock.

“I’m thrifty but at least I can feed myself. Old people need to get with the program or leave the planet,” he screamed. “They need to get their ass out of bed, grab their cane, hobble down to the corner market and buy their own damn food. No one wants to watch them eat anyway,” he said, then made an “ew” face.

“For years, public resources have gone to the deadweights of society, people who no longer contribute to the workforce or their family. No one wants to hear their kids complain about grandma’s wheelchair always getting in the way.”

Maria Gloom, a 90-year-old great-grandmother enrolled in the Meals on Wheels program was invited to watch the briefing from the green room. A career government analyst for over forty years, Maria agreed with Spicer’s assessment. “He’s right,” she said. “I’ve got no family and don’t deserve to eat. Why the government continues to waste money on me I’ll never know.”

“It’s true. She’ll never know,” said a Meals on Wheels spokesperson on hand during the interview. “Maria suffers from dementia. Since there’s no one else to care for her, the government is her family now. And it’s unconscionable that the government to whom she’s devoted her life wants to take away the program that keeps her alive–”

“So, I can feed my cats,” Maria interrupted. “Meals on Wheels pays for my damn cats. How’s that for government waste?”

The Meals on Wheels spokesperson noted that Maria didn’t have any cats.

“I used to,” Maria protested. “Until the pussy grabber took them away.”

Spicer wouldn’t confirm or deny what Maria Gloom said but added, “Look at her. She’s all wrinkled like my Nonna.”

A public outcry against the White House budget prompted Maria to tell reporters. “Just give my money to veterans. They deserve it more than me.”

To which, Spicer responded, “We’re purging funds for veterans, too.” Then, he concluded the questioning, grabbed his shoe from a reporter’s mouth and left the briefing room.

Sweden Incident: The Migrant Meatball Crisis

The sneeze heard around the world.

On top of spaghettiThe cause of the Sweden Incident became clearer late Sunday night in newly leaked information from the Trump White House. A kitchen in Stockholm is the focus of the investigation that involves a plate of spaghetti and one migrant meatball that went missing during an early bird special.

Reports from Stockholm indicate that an unidentified elderly female patron in a housecoat shuffled up to a plate of spaghetti “all covered with cheese” and sneezed on it, catapulting the meatball from the plate, which then “rolled off the table onto the floor.”

An arrest still has not been made as authorities struggle to contain the chaotic scene at the restaurant, while they search for the gray-haired perpetrator and breaded meatball. Chef Casper, who plated the dish of spaghetti and meatballs, has barricaded himself inside the kitchen refusing to speak to reporters.

Meatball sightings have been rolling into the 800 number posted at the Culinary Meatball Institute since the Sweden Incident was first reported hours earlier. However, the authenticity of these reports cannot be verified until authorities have sifted through all the calls.

At this hour, the Sweden Incident continues to unnerve a jittery country just days after the infamous Bowling Green Massacre struck fear in the hearts of U.S. citizens.

Updated at 8:45 PM

In late breaking news, officials confirmed information on the meatball’s whereabouts. A waiter at the restaurant had reportedly spotted the meatball as it “rolled out of the door,” according to several bystanders requesting anonymity.

Other eyewitnesses stated that after it rolled out the door, a pedestrian spotted the meatball in front of the restaurant in a state of “obvious distress or possibly sauced,” according to the local authorities. Then, “it rolled in the garden and under a bush.”

Officials immediately descended upon the garden in an attempted search and rescue operation to locate the meatball and return it to the kitchen.

Shortly after commencing the operation the meatball was located, prompting cheers from onlookers that quickly changed into audible gasps. Emergency responders told Stockholm authorities that the meatball was found in poor condition, described by someone on the scene as “nothing but mush.”

EMT workers were still hopeful they could save the meatball, scooped it up with a spatula then medevacked it to a local hospital where it was placed in the ICU.

Later, hospital officials announced that the “meatball had succumbed to its injuries despite efforts to save it.”

A forensic expert was called in to extract a section of meat for testing and ingested it, telling authorities that “The mush was as tasty as tasty could be, ” adding, “I’m confident that early next summer it will grow to a tree with great big meatballs and tomato sauce.”

As the CSI team wrapped up the investigation, local authorities arrested the suspected sneezer identified as Typhoid Mary, included on the WHO terror watch list, as revealed at a press conference in the hospital lobby. A WHO representative could not be reached for comment.

During the press conference, a reporter from the fake news site, Ai yai yai!, interrupted the proceedings with, “WHO could not be reached for comment?”

To which the official responded, “Exactly, WHO?”

The questioning continued for several minutes before another reporter asked, “What?”

This was immediately followed with an adamant, “No, WHO?”

Chef Casper would not respond to reporters’ requests for a statement, as he was inconsolable about the loss of his meatball and instead released a written statement to the Culinary Meatball Institute:

“If you eat spaghetti all covered with cheese, hold on to your meatball and don’t ever sneeze.”

The letter can be viewed in its entirety at a website dedicated to the survivors of terrorist sneeze attacks on minced meat.