Freak Power in Paradise

Corporate chicanery and the return of Chavez . . . Currency manipulation and Government Cheese for the Board . . . A primo table at the Wrinkledick . . . Appealing to the single-issue Dolt Voter

The author — founding editor-publisher of America-Thrust, a website once declared to be "the undisputed Gem of the Internet" — has been in self-imposed exile for over seven years after his unceremonious exit from, and the hostile takeover of, the media empire that he was instrumental in building. 

In an attempt to both undermine his salary and to wrest control of the website from him, a scheme was devised by the America-Thrust Board of Directors that would first find the author in a very vulnerable headspace, and then have him sign a series of seemingly-benign but actually bone-deep evil contracts that would chip slowly away at his role within the company. 

Perhaps the most diabolical demand that the author agreed to in his weakened state of mind was to be paid in a then-nearly worthless "digital currency," which would allow for his salary to reach an impressively-lengthed number, but in actual dollar value be close to absolute zero. 

Once the heist was complete and America-Thrust was under control of the Board of Directors — which itself was under the thumb of Robb Witmer Full, the author's former business associate and editor-at-large — the last dirty business was to sweep the author under the rug and be done with him. Which the author was more than happy to assist with, having uncovered the depth of the ruse on his own. 

The author's last story for America-Thrust was filed from Pittsburgh in mid-April 2013. By the end of that month, it had become clear that his further employment there was untenable, and he embarked for Pirates Paradise, a small fishing village on an island in southwestern Florida, to grumble his days away at Fortress LeMoyne, the three bedroom beachside estate which has served as his home since 2006. 

In the ensuing years, America-Thrust has continued to exist; on paper anyhow. In a bald-faced tax-evasion scheme, the website remains accessible to the general public, likely to the tune of millions of dollars in losses per year, while not a single new article has been published since the author's forced early-retirement. The Board has gone completely underground, only appearing in public to receive their annual allotment of Government Cheese, because free cheese is free cheese, and these are cheap bastards. 

Witmer himself has been decidedly Whereabouts Unknown since early 2014, though based on personal history and anecdotes passed amongst Dark Internet types, it can be assumed he used the funds filched from America-Thrust to temporarily support his raging Gambling Insanity, which has afflicted him for decades. 

The author's long-forgotten and once paltry severance pay turned out — to the author's surprise, in 2019 — to be a now-sizable amount of bitcoin, valued in the small-to-middling fortune range. He had planned to use part of this fortune to reclaim the America-Thrust brand, but when it became clear that there was no one left to protect it, he simply took it back. 

The following is a letter by the author to Mr. Witmer, copies of which were sent to both the LePetomane Hospital for the Gamblingly Insane and the Dr. Clayton Forrester Shock Therapy Institute, the two most likely landing spots for a degenerate of his sort in this day and age — and because non-stop Gambling Tirades don't have P.O. Boxes. 

Cheers and greetings are probably in order, though neither of us is in much shape to receive them, I'm sure. Please give my best to the doctors and other personnel at whichever madhouse you've ended up in. The shock technicians at LePetomane have always been undervalued for their vim, in my opinion. 

You are right to wonder why I would call on a certified dingbat and treacherous devil such as yourself. But I am nothing if not a gracious winner, and there can be no doubt that I have come out as the victor in our affairs of the past. If this letter is in your hands — if it has managed to get past both the LePetomane/Forrester gestapo as well as whatever Federal Mail Traps that the Trump Administration has placed around "people and areas of interest" — then I ask you to take this letter in good faith, and read on. 

The political situation, as you've probably heard, is ugly. Though really, hasn’t this always been the logical trajectory of a Trump presidency? Pestilence in the air, a shattered economy, rage in the streets, a population that can't tell up from down, a soaring stock market. 

I wouldn't have bet against it, that's for sure. The odds could never be in your favor in a wager like that, on either side. Still, it's possible we were premature in declaring the End of the Empire way back in the halcyon days of 2006. 

Or maybe we were right on, and it’s just that the Fall comes on a lot differently than we were expecting. Less like a sinking ship, with a crack in the hull that can only hold for so long before it breaches and takes the whole vessel down in moments; more like a glacier, slowly melting below the surface, showing only the most superficial damage, maybe getting a little smaller over the course of decades. And then one day whole chunks break off into the sea, one after the other, until the glacier is mostly gone.

But you know this, it's all in the news. Or maybe you don't. It just occurred to me that both LePetomane and Forrester severely limit the media diet of their patients, especially in the case of a cracked-nut dissident thinker such as you. 

So, in case you are out of the loop: America is burning to the ground, metaphorically and literally, pretty much just like we thought it would, so enjoy your Charles in Charge reruns, or whatever it is they let you watch in there. 

Which brings me to the point of this letter. With the bad situation around us deteriorating even further, I've decided to take matters into my own hands and am about to embark on a fierce campaign for one of the five spots on the Pirates Paradise city council. I've been glad-handing (or -elbowing, which is now the rage) a few folks around town whenever I manage to leave the house, but the campaign can't officially start until October 15, the day all candidates must file — in person — the required legal forms, some in triplicate, to run for a seat on the council. 

No campaigning of any kind is allowed before noon on that day: no yard signs, no ads or even casual mention on Sandy Anderson's illegal low-wattage radio station, and you absolutely may not bring up your candidacy with another Pirates Paradise resident, even in natural and community-standards-meeting conversation. 

So I have some time to lash this thing together, but it's going to be balls-out work for three straight weeks, and it's going to take a real Team to get it done. There are only a few old crags around here that can be trusted, but they're so stoned all the time that there's no telling when the work will be done, and we're on a deadline. Not to mention that it would be technically illegal to offer them a job before Filing Day, and I would never want to run afoul of election law, of course. 

What I am allowed to do by way of an atrocious loophole is offer the job of campaign manager to an outsider, and even though springing you from the shockhouse won't be painless, and your adrenal glands may not be up to the challenge after all these years of abuse, the position is yours if you'd like it. 

The pay is nothing and the glory will be all mine, but I could use a slimy sonofabitch on my side for once. Plus, think of everything this could do for your reputation. Even if we come up short, I'm sure you could use the street cred gained from Big-Time Campaign Management to get your foot in the door of a beet farming start-up, or if you're really desperate, a gig in the newsroom of the New York Times

Contact me at once if you're interested. I have some feelers out for replacements if you say no — some real pipe-hitting maniacs — and would like to move on this as soon as possible. 

And, please clear up any and all gambling debts in advance. It would be far too detrimental to the campaign to get mucked up in all of that. Not that the electorate would mind the transgression, but we can't take the chance that a gang of hired goons find their way to Paradise and beat us both down in the street, which would surely torpedo my vote count. 

I'll see it in your eyes at once if you come down here in the hole. It's the same look Trump had at the first debate: backed into a corner like a junkie fox, knowing the gig is just about up, but still with a few cards left to play. As you know all too well, when the bookies are closing in and the bone-snapping is about to start, your best move is a big one, to go as all-or-nothing as you can. 

It's a last-ditch version of what gambler's refer to as "Ripper's Trap," a cockamamie "betting system" in which the Player simply follows every losing bet with a double-or-nothing follow-up, except the only thing that doubles is the losses. In theory it would work, if you had an unlimited bankroll and infinite patience. In practice, you wind up betting massive sums of money — thousands, tens of thousands — on a single wager in order to break even, while the winning bets in the original amount — usually only a couple hundred bucks or so — don't add up to enough to be worth all the hassle. 

This is the game that Trump normally plays, except he's somehow managed to spend his whole life ignoring the long string of losing, and giving white-hot focus to the meager gains. It looks like his next move is to Ripper's Trap the whole damn country, putting it all on the line so he can keep his private jet, gold toilet, and primo table at the Wrinkledick Club in Miami.

But why am I explaining all of this to you? You're the one who's spent half his adult life inside homes for the Gamblingly Insane. Time is running out and we must move on to the business at hand, which is, of course, the upcoming Campaign. 

I would obviously never expect you to work for any Political Organization unless you were squarely behind the values, mission, & methods of that Organization, or possibly if the salary was sufficient, but since this is an Unpaid position, let's move onto our Campaign Promises:

1) No Paved Roads

There's a nascent but loud movement afoot to get the next session of City Council to approve several miles of paved roads within the borders of Pirates Paradise. The winding, alligator-infested two-lane road that leads here from the far side of the island ends abruptly at the city limits.

This is much to the dismay of the aw-shucks tourists who drop thousands of dollars for a single week of beachside living in a high-rise condominium, and occasionally come to our side of the island for one of our tourist-centric businesses. Driving at king-hell speeds, zipping in and out of snapping alligators, and then suddenly coming across a sad patch of gravel-dirt roads makes us look po-dunk, they say.

Some of our newer and more condo-minded residents think we should accommodate these fools and their City Money. I say we don't, and we block off the dead end of Island Way with a row of crossed & rusty cutlass swords so they know that Pirates Paradise is not to be taken gently or trifled with. This is my number one campaign promise, and non-negotiable. 

2) Secession from the United States of America, or at least Florida

This could be how we really crack the nut of this election, and where your experience in sedition will come in particularly handy. We have a long history of Independence in Paradise — the Pirate roots run deep — but the current majority here is, for some reason, still loyal to the United States, or at least sees the benefit in continuing the current arrangement.

But what if we stir up just enough confusion to whip the drunks and dropouts into the voting booth? There are only 623 registered voters here, and if we can get an extra 30-40 people to vote for me, even by accident, then the election could tip in my favor. I've already started dozens of social media accounts on both sides of the issue, as well as printed several leaflets to be distributed anonymously throughout town, and we can decide which position I'll take based on the response.

3) Officially declare that henceforth all residents of Pirates Paradise will be referred to as "Paradise Pirates" 

I just think this sounds much classier than "residents of Pirates Paradise," and it requires far less space on Official Government Documents, and therefore less typing, less ink, less paper, and thus, lower costs to taxpayers. This will be a nice, shiny object that appeals to the single-issue Dolt Voter: it's easy to understand, and seemingly makes the world around them that much simpler. Second choice: "Piraters."

I look forward to hearing from you forthwith. Time is of the essence, so we must immediately begin making plans for your escape, if that's what's needed. And please stay quiet. Discretion is the only thing that can keep a cross-eyed operation like this one from bursting into open flames. 

Also, I have reassumed control of America-Thrust and will be reviving it in some form soon, and there's nothing you can do about it. Selah,