Tag Archives: Satire

We Have Decided to Keep the Flags Perpetually Half-Mast


After careful consideration, we have decided, out of convenience, to keep all the flags at half-mast for the duration of the year. We figure it will just save us all a lot of time and energy if we left the flags lowered for this week’s tragedy at half-mast for the next tragedy, which we’re sure will come but don’t want to do anything meaningful about. This is the easiest thing for us, the people who lower all the flags, to do.

For especially horrific tragedies, we will have the flags lowered three quarters, to show you that we recognize your pain is serious this time, but still not serious enough to do anything about it. For something really, really bad, we’ll just remove all the flags entirely and burn them in the streets. At that point, a lot of Americans will probably be happy to see the symbols of their country burning. We also expect that, if things somehow but predictably get that much worse, whomever takes charge of the country will remove and burn all flags for us, at which point we will consider it our solemn duty to retire and take our large sums of money so we can spend it in another, safer country.

Lowering all the flags is a way of showing you that we know you are in pain, and keeping them perpetually lowered will show you that we know your pain is constant and ongoing. This is literally the least we can do for you, to the point that it’s almost like we don’t actually care. But we do, because we’ll keep the flags lowered on your behalf. The flags are all for you. That, and basically nothing else from us, the people who lower the flags for you.

Half-mast is the way of life in America. The United States is a half-mast country run by people with half-mast efforts. But we appreciate your hashtags and dedication to showing support through gestures rather than actions, and we’re especially grateful to you for not voting us, the people who definitely totally care if your children are murdered in a school, out of office. We’re glad to stay as long as you let us.

We feel it is redundant to continually raise the flags, just as it is redundant for you to continually raise your hopes, because hope is no more useful in preventing violence than lowering flags for a day. Hope has to be earned through action, not the other way around and your hopeful inaction means a lot to us. As long as we’re here, all the flags will be at half-mast indefinitely, to account for the tragedies that will likely come next week, and the week after that, and the week after that.


Welcome to the University of Hell; Here’s Your Parking Pass

ParkingOn behalf of Satan and his minions and CEOs and several charitable people who donated buildings to us, we would like to welcome you, personally, to the University of Hell.

You’ll find your freshman orientation packets in your complimentary tote bag, along with two coupons for two free meals in the Hell Union. The cost of the tote bag and coupons will be included in your student fees, which will be calculated in total for you at the beginning of Finals Week. You will also find information about parking, which will become much easier with our new Henry Kissinger Bill Gates Memorial Super Tennis Parking Lot, located on south-east campus near the Ninth Circle Dorm. This year, parking passes are $786, which will also be included in your student fees. For those who don’t have a car, you’ll be glad to help pay for the parking passes of your fellow peers, or else.

The University of Hell is honored to serve our new students. Our Beelzebub Administration Center is located in the middle of campus, at the suggestion of UH graduate Jeremy Bentham, and our administrators are always open for questions, suggestions, and even concerns during their office hours from 3:00 AM to 3:15 AM every fifth Tuesday of the month. Feel free to direct all questions regarding student fees, parking, jobs, recreation, and housing to one of our 4,000 departmental administration management directors (we call them the DAMD for short). You’ll be paying for their salaries and Satan’s swimming pool of virgins’ blood with your student fees, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of their time.

Please feel free to tour our new Adam Smith Institute for Pharmaceutical Studies, or the recently constructed Brett Favre School of English Literature and Mass Entertainment, or our Walt Disney School of Criminal Justice and Gender Studies located next to the Pit of Eternal Fire, where football practice is held.

If any of our guests today find a lack of toilet paper, please do not be alarmed. We are working on a new system in which students pay for the necessary quantity of toilet paper with their student ID cards, and their student accounts are then charged for the toilet paper they use on the spot. If students lose their ID card for any reason and are unable to pay for toilet paper, they will be reminded that it is useful to carry their class syllabi with them at all times in the event of an emergency.

The University of Hell values you. Ever since its founding by Satan, who received his Hotel and Restaurant Management degree from Yale, UH has prided itself in the quantity of its students. We are here to help you help us, and we want to help you in doing so.

From all of us here at Hell, welcome to higher education.


Open Letter From the Militant Pacifists of America

PeaceIn light of America’s 154 mass shootings since January of this year (in which four or more people were shot), we in the Militant Pacifists of America would like to openly express our adamant distaste for violence in all its forms. As pacifists, we want peace in every aspect of life, and seeing as that is less and less likely with each passing mass shooting, we are breaking from our flagship organization, the Flaccid Pacifists of America, and are starting a new party. It’s time to take pacifism seriously, and we mean dead seriously.

Jesus once said that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. But Jesus died by the cross, and it is our belief that dying by a sword is much better than crucifixion.

Obviously, other pacifists have made great strides in violently opposing violence. For example, we praise Bernie Sanders for being one of two senators to vote against new sanctions against Russia and Iran, and we are even more grateful for Sanders for, as implied in a recent New York Times article, providing the pacifist rhetoric for yet another gun-involved shooting implemented by an angry man. In truth, we think that Sanders does not go far enough with his militantly pacifist rhetoric. He refuses to do what all democratic socialists secretly want, which is to first make people aimlessly enraged about what the NRA calls the “gun-hating political elites” and “radical billionaires” and then arm said people with assault rifles to protect them from those elites and billionaires. By not living by the sword, Sanders is much easier to crucify.

We in the MPA advocate militant peacefulness. We want to move on from our history of chanting “Give Peace a Chance” while aligning our chakras and stuffing roses in mailboxes, and instead want to incite mob violence against people who advocate violence (excluding ourselves, of course). Early pacifism was about advancing alternatives to the military-industrial complex and critiquing state-sanctioned forms of violence like police militarization, removal of medical insurance for the victims of various shootings, and of course Sarah Palin, but now we’d like to take a page from the NRA: directionless rage.

Our official stance to advance peace, love, and solidarity among all peoples is to heavily arm those people and tell them that love is tough. We’re starting a war for peace. If people won’t give peace a chance, we’ll have to force them to. Had they lived a little longer, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Emile Arnaud would have seen that while there obviously is no just war, if we have to go to war to show how unjust it is, that’s okay too. We pacifists are tired of being crucified and stabbed by swords. We want in on the action and, of course, the millions of dollars the NRA spends during any given campaign season to keep everyone armed and angry.

Peace, love, and ammunition!


Congratulations to Russia for Finally Winning the Cold War

oneway“We’re satisfied to be able to finish off the United States the first time round. Once is quite enough. What good does it do to annihilate a country twice? We’re not a bloodthirsty people.” -Nikita Khrushchev, comparing American and Soviet nuclear capability.

I’d like to extend my warmest congratulations to Mother Russia for finally winning the Cold War. Some say it’s too early to call, and that the popular majority of Americans (by 1.5 million at this point) who still think we have a leg in the race might suggest otherwise, but as it is, I think it’s safe to say that America concedes defeat. Congratulations, Russia. You win. Freedom and democracy, as it turns out, really don’t work after all. You’ve proven that much, Russia.

I’ll admit, you fooled us with that whole “collapse of your very way of life” trick back in 1990. I can’t believe we fell for the oldest trick in the book, and didn’t even notice when, out of nowhere, you elect a former KGB agent to take over for Boris Yeltsin. Smooth move. We also didn’t think trolling could be a successful war tactic. In the end, your trolls really knew how to rig an election. I’m just glad Reagan isn’t alive to see this day. He would have been sorely disappointed.

So, Russia, what’s next? What’s your end game? Warming the oceans and melting Greenland’s ice sheets enough to get our Cold War nuclear base? Our new president will ensure that happens. Spreading misinformation? Reducing our language to double plus good and double plus ungood? We’re already limiting our words to great or nasty.

I’m sorry, Russia, but when you come for the spoils of war, you won’t find anything worth taking. By the time you reach us, we’ll have run the continent into the ground with oil spills in our largest rivers, Midwestern earthquakes from fracking, dust bowls, forest fires, and uranium mining accidents. By the end of the Cold War, we killed off 93 percent of our varieties of fruits and vegetables, and who knows how many we’ve gotten rid of since then.

Do you want our healthcare? It’ll be cut. Do you want our Space program? We’ve been defunding it for a while now. Do you want our agriculture? One blight and our corn will be gone in a few months. Dearest Russian overlords, we are now ready for your conquest, but I will not say we are ripe for the taking, because as a nation we are actually rotten to the core, entrenched in racism, misogyny, anti-intellectualism, Evangelical opposition to science, the comfortable idea that we can actually survive the catastrophe of ourselves if we just buy the necessary tools.

America’s value has depreciated so much that you won’t find anything worth conquering. Keep in mind that we’re taking you with us, in the end. Mutually Assured Destruction never looked so appealing. So congratulations, Russia. I await your rule.


Campaign Trails: Debates

Continuing my policy of writing fiction about subjects I have no authority to write on, here is the second installment of my surrealist retelling the 2016 Presidential Election. Feel free to read part one, “Decisions,” to catch up.


Megan began introducing each candidate at the first GOP debate at 7:00 PM sharp, and by 7:30 she had only introduced the first seventy-three candidates. One by one they marched onto the stage, gazing into the mess of lights and wide eyes in the audience.
Getting on stage was, to begin with, not easy. Before being granted access to the stage, the candidates had to go through several checkpoints. First, GOP armed guards asked for each candidate’s GOP credentials and had them sign paperwork, at gunpoint, pledging support for their party’s nominee no matter who he or she (with the phrase “lol” next to the second pronoun) would be. Next, the Koch Brothers personally shook hands with each candidate and slipped them a red pill and a blue pill, telling them to make the right choice; the blue pill was, of course, wrapped in several hundred dollar bills.
Lastly, four NRA officials stood at the stage’s edge and asked to see each candidate’s weapon of choice. This was the last test candidates had to pass before being allowed to enter the debate, and it was often a difficult one. For instance, Ben made the mistake of bringing his water gun. He began quoting several founding fathers and later Albert Einstein to justify his choice. Unable to tell what he was actually talking about, the NRA officials decided to let him pass.
Donald was 366th in line. The stage was filling up with heavily armed candidates brandishing their fancy speeches, and Donald, as far removed from the party’s rules and regulations as he was, had not known to bring a gun.
“I never got that memo,” he told the NRA officials.
“We’ll have to kick you out for that. Rules are rules.”
“You can’t do that,” Donald said, thinking as rapidly as he could for a way out. “Ted told me not to bring it.”
The officials turned to see Ted on stage leaning two AK-47s over his shoulders.
“He lied to you? Why would he do that?”
Donald thought for a second, and the answer seemed obvious.
“He doesn’t like me. He’s biased. He wants to win by lying.”
“But you still don’t have a gun. We can’t let you on stage without one.”
Behind him, the rest of the candidates waiting for the first GOP debate–about six hundred or so–grumbled and shifted their guns. Donald turned around and glared at them. Speechmakers, they were. Speechmakers with props. They had policies, plans, sketches, and verbal magic tricks. Donald didn’t even have a water pistol.
Donald was learning how this game worked, and found he didn’t like the rules. Immediately behind him was Marco, practicing a speech intended to make bricks fall out of people’s noses and then form into a short wall between audience members to highlight his immigration policy. He looked Donald in the eye and grinned.
“Hey, Don, forget something?”
“What are you up to?”
“Planning how I’ll win the debate.”
“How are you gonna win? You’re too. . .”
“Can’t think of a word?”
“Shut up.”
“Use your words, Don. Like this.”
Marco began reciting a talking point, just a little one, and its power made a brick fall out of Donald, but not out of his nose. Donald’s face turned a sharp shade of Republican red as the brick slid down his pant leg. Marco was not an experienced public speaker, but even he had the gift of turning words into actions. He recited another policy on immigration, and two more bricks fell out.
“You little rodent,” Donald snapped.
“What are you gonna do, little Don? You’ve never given a good speech in your life. We’ll whoop you out there.” Another brick.
Donald could not think of anything to say. It was true, he could not transform words into actions. But he was aware of a few actions he could easily produce without the need for communication. He leaned forward and punched Marco in the face once, twice, then once in the stomach. Marco fell down, but not before Donald could reach over and pull up the AK-47 he had slung around his shoulder. Swinging it over his own, he turned around and faced the NRA officials.
The NRA officials decided that they liked Donald’s style and let him on stage. Marco would still be allowed to debate (he brought grenades in his pants, a “nice touch” the officials thought), but spoke through a broken, bloodied nose.
Three hours after Megan began introducing the candidates, all of them were on stage, totaling 956. They were crammed shoulder to shoulder, ignoring the twenty-nine podiums. Megan glared at them all and wondered why they didn’t just have two debates, or three or four.
“Well, ladies and gentleman,” she said, “I’ll address the first question to you, Governor Perry.”
The hundreds of heavily armed candidates shifted on stage, rocking back and forth trying to maintain a comfort zone. Beneath them something cracked. They all heard it, even Megan. “Now, you’ve been very critical. . .” she continued. More crackling. A few pops, a few snaps. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” asked Rick.
“Just that creaking. Any idea what that is?”
“I don’t hear anything.”
After that, the weight of the 956 Republican presidential candidates combined with the weight of their numerous weapons broke the stage. It collapsed in the middle, and the rest followed into the basement floor beneath the studio. Along with the fragments of the stage went the Republicans pummeling onto one another into the basement, until the room filled up. Then they toppled into one another, bodies upon bodies, suits upon suits. When the dust cleared and the mostly middle-aged men grumbled and moaned, the audience wasn’t sure if they should cheer or boo.
“Anyone ready to drop out yet?” Megan asked.
About one hundred candidates responded affirmatively to what turned out to be the first question of the first Republican presidential debate.

Bernie got a text message from Hillary while he muddled his way through the summer heat in Georgia campaigning door-to-door.
“Wanna debate or something?” read the message.
Confused, he texted back, “Am I invited?”
“Nobody else wants to run. I heard you were thinking about it. We need a few more good candidates,” she replied.
Bernie blushed. Somebody was finally acknowledging his campaign. He texted back “Yes!” then added several more exclamation marks. He had to follow up with “Can I get a ride over to it, though?” and went back to work knocking on doors for support, swimming in the new validation but ultimately wishing Hillary would become the nominee early on. He knew he couldn’t make it far the way he campaigned, and knew she was a good candidate. Hillary, for her part, privately wished it would be Bernie, or Joe, or Elizabeth, or anyone else. But almost every Democrat she texted responded with support for her campaign and a casual dismissal of the Presidency: “No thanks.” “Not in my lifetime.” “Have you seen Obama? He looks like he’s 90! I’d rather stay young.” She wanted a more diverse pool for voters to choose from, but was glad there would be more than one candidate, at least.



Campaign Trails: Decisions

To celebrate the 2016 Presidential Election, I’ve elected to write a series of short stories retelling the campaign. I hope you enjoy it.


One cold day early in 2015, Bernie awoke to a surprise: the fancy new digital clock, the kind that told the date, told the wrong date: January 12, 1942. He fumbled for his glasses and looked at the calendar on the wall, which also said 1942, and had a portrait of FDR instead of the snowy field he recalled for January.
Bernie grumbled out of bed, shivering. He knew it wasn’t 1942; he still had his smartphone. But the fact that the smartphone said “January 12, 1942″ was worth considering. He tried fixing it, but the year wouldn’t budge. Increasingly excited, he pulled a map of the US out of his desk drawer. 1942: FDR was President, the Nazis had invaded Soviet Russia, fascism was hurting the world. We had to stop it. He took a blue marker and drew a line on the map southward from Maine, planning his strategy. And FDR had vision, real vision. Bernie thought he knew what it all meant.
He put on his black trench coat and pork pie hat. He drank black coffee, smoked a cigarette, and caught a bus to Maine. He had to start somewhere, and he figured the best way was the old-fashioned way. He would begin in Portland, Maine, working southward to Florida, then northwest into the South, then westward into the Midwest, and in a year and a half, he would end his journey in Portland, Oregon. Naturally, due to budget concerns, he would go on foot.
It was cold in Portland, so Bernie buttoned his coat. He started on Brighton Avenue, hoping to work his way door-to-door southward. He could hear the jazz music of the early ‘40s in his head as he knocked on the very first door.
“Hello,” he began when it opened. “My name is Senator Bernie Sanders. I’d like to tell you about Democratic Socialism, and I’d like to be your candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.”

John was delivering a speech on public school policies to a group of Ohio teachers when, in the heat of his modest passion for the subject, everything around him turned black and white, like a 1950s sitcom. He looked around; he was pleased. People looked cleaner, sharper, richer. The police sirens that had been outside stopped.
“Now this is beautiful,” he said, and the audience agreed.
“It’s a shame,” said an elderly lady in the audience, wearing an apron and pulling a fresh apple pie from her purse for a snack, “that so many Americans these days don’t have this. . . this. . . oh, fiddlesticks, what’s the word, Mr. Kasich?”
“Gee, I don’t know,” John said. “But I sure know it’s a good feeling. I wish I could share this feeling with everyone.” He paused, smiling.
“It’s time somebody did something about that,” he said. “We can make this country. . . good again? Not good. Better.” He remembered hearing somebody say something like that recently, using a bold, daring word. John was neither bold nor daring, but he had heart. He wanted this for America, this simplicity. He hadn’t noticed that most women and all people of color had vanished from the room while giving his speech; all that mattered was his sense of American. . . better-than-goodness? Who had said it the other day? Make America better than good again.
“Sure sounds like a good idea,” he said. “Maybe I. . . well, shucks, I really can do it. Maybe I can make America better than good again.” He paused. “And that’ll be my campaign slogan! You know what, folks? I’m going to run for President to make America better than good again!” They cheered pleasantly.

Ted stopped kissing babies’ foreheads at campaign rallies once his curse began to spread. He froze in frustration when the forehead of a Midwestern mother’s infant sprouted a starchart of the Zodiac constellations, spreading slowly down the baby. He knew, from his own tattoo-like curse, that it did not hurt. The real problem was that it glowed in the dark. First the stars glowed in bright shining obsidian on the baby’s skin, and then lines grew to connect the stars. Within seconds, the baby’s body was a pudgy, giggling map of the sky.
“You’ll want makeup to cover that up,” he said as the mother gaped at her child. “Sorry. I still have your vote, though, right?”
He moved on to the next patrons in the crowd, frowning but still positive.
It started when he was thirteen after a family argument. His father cursed him, citing the verses of the Old Testament in which Noah cursed Ham for stumbling in on him drunk. A young Ted had always been a misfit, struggling to fit in a dominionist church that he felt suffocated his social standing. One night, he declared himself free of his family’s deathgrip in order to go to a popular kid’s birthday party, so his father cursed him, making the Zodiac constellations appear across his body. He hid it with makeup and conservative clothes, but lived in continual fear that his sweat would reveal the markings.
If he could win the White House, he could prove that he was more than a misfit. But now that his curse was spreading, he refused to even shake voters’ hands, which was immediately suspicious among conservative voters. To win the nomination, he would need a scapegoat from the GOP, somebody even worse than a perpetually awkward man covered with infectious Zodiac tattoos. Fortunately, there would be plenty to choose from.

Hillary slumped into an armchair and made up her mind then and there: she would not run for President.
Instead, she wanted peace. She had just returned home from the Senate where she spent thirteen days listening to a prolonged character assassination attempt. Each day, a GOP leader stood before her and made fabulous accusations about her and Benghazi, and at the end of each lecture, the GOP armed guards let her speak a few words. When she did, calmly, the GOP leader of the day coughed and sputtered, and his (always his) face turned a deep shade of blue. They never choked to death, but briefly lost their ability to speak when she disproved them with a few easy, cutting rebuttals. Such a talent took decades to cultivate. The problem she faced were the sheer numbers of people trying to dismantle her not even as a politician, but as a human being. It was nearly impossible to keep up.
Now she leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Such endless cruelty, and the GOP armed guards condescending her more than usual when she went in and out of the Senate. Enough, she thought.
And then it happened. A bird rested on the windowsill across from her and pecked gently at the glass.
“Not again,” she mumbled, rising sorely to open the window.
The bird met her long ago. In college it brought library cards for sources that helped her research papers or scraps of newspaper articles about successful social movements. Here it was, again, a little bird looking up at Hillary with round, eager eyes.
“What?” she asked. It scratched its feet back and forth. “Run?” It nodded its head. “No. I’m sorry. I need a break. Please.”
The bird shook its head.
“Why?” she asked after a moment. “Why me?”
The bird’s neck bulged, and it coughed up a newspaper clipping. She unrolled it like a cigarette and read, “Secretary Clinton Pushes Back Against GOP Military Occupation of Congress.”
“You really think I should?” she asked. The bird nodded vigorously, and choked up another clipping, a list of GOP leaders who declared their candidacy. She knew each one; many of them were present at the Senate hearings, and she knew how to silence them. The bird began hopping up and down.
“Dammit,” Hillary mumbled, pacing around. “You really think I can?” Nodding. “Do you know the ugly things they’ll say about me?” Solemn nodding. She sighed. “Fine. I’ll run.”

Donald was about to make the announcement, but stalled, pacing back and forth backstage. It was all too much, the crowds, lights, cameras. So many distractions, so many possible ways to mess up. panicking, he called his mentor, a public speaking professor from his Ivy League days.
“I’m, uh, I’m. . . I’m scared,” he said in a hushed voice into the phone. “I don’t know, even, like, what am I even supposed to, y’know, even say out there?”
Professor Huntington cooed for him to calm down.
“It’s okay, Donald. Just breathe. You know what to do. How do you give a speech?”
Donald recalled his training.
“Be confident,” Donald recited, “show them your confidence, and use lists.”
“What are you going to list?”
“Things I’m great at. Things I’m spectacular at.”
Calmed, he hung up.
Donald breathed in, told himself he was wonderful, he deserved this, he wouldn’t let anybody take it away from him. He’d seen politicians use speeches to move people to tears, laughter, enlightenment. He had seen politicians make flowers grow from listeners’ heads. He had once seen Nancy Reagan tell a joke that made everyone in her audience each sneeze an entire cup of Earl Grey tea. Bill Clinton famously made doves fly from his saxophone at his inaugural address. Jon Stewart had made the sun shine out of people’s ears. Donald, however, had never once accomplished such feats with his speeches. They stumbled along, barely arriving at a conclusion.
But he went on stage to announce he was running for President, to prove you didn’t have to know such verbal magic tricks to win. He could not impress anybody with any fancy speeches; instead, he did the best he could with the only real skill he shared with the other candidates: self-commercialization.