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                                               An Open Letter to Vice-President Joe Biden

                                                                                                                                                 Dr. Tiffany B. Twain

                                                                                                                                                  December 27, 2016

Dear Vice President Biden,

Thank you for your great service to our country, Joe!  As your tenure in office approaches conclusion, our nation turns its sympathetic and hopeful eyes to you to help save our democracy.  I appeal to you in the strongest possible terms to take advantage of the moment on January 3rd during the transition from last year's Senate to next year's Senate to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court seat that was left vacant after Justice Antonin Scalia died more than 10 months ago.  Or, alternatively, please convince President Obama to accomplish this same goal by making a recess appointment during the “inter-session” recess between outgoing and incoming Congresses.

I also appeal to ALL Americans to give close consideration to the common sense words and ideas set forth below, because they are exceptionally well reasoned and provide an eminently persuasive case for an overarching necessity and rightness of this action for the American people. 

We the People have just violated the most important principle that our Founding Fathers were concerned with when they hammered out the provisions in our great American Constitution.  That consideration was the creation of a new and fairly representative form of government that had strong enough checks and balances that no despot, either at home or abroad, would be able to overthrow it and impose repressive control over the populace. 

The American colonists had first-hand experience with tyranny, and frankly, they hated it.  So after courageously declaring independence from British despotic rule on July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers were highly motivated to devise a real fool-proof system to prevent ANY group from seizing domineering power, and they did such a good job of creating an enduring system to protect the American people from any future episodes of tyranny or despotic rule that our democratic republic has survived for more than 240 years since they valiantly declared independence from tyrannical rule.  But make no mistake about it, a threat has arisen today that could lead to authoritarian and even dictatorial abuses of power.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Most Americans feel deep-seated anxieties about how Mr. Trump will rule, and judging from the billionaires and military generals and hard-right loyalists he is surrounding himself with, these concerns are very valid. 

Every gun owner knows very well that it is crucial to have a safety catch on a loaded weapon.  American voters have just handed unchecked power to a dangerous demagogue and a stunningly ideological and extremely "conservative" and partisan Congress that clearly cares much more about their own careers and rich people than they care about the well-being of the vast majority of the people.  Maintaining an independent judiciary is the only good fail-safe way to protect the people from the many threats that the president-elect and a rubber stamp Congress pose to the liberties and security of the populace.

The American people deserve to be reassured that Donald Trump will rule in the interests of all the people, and a judiciary not dominated by ideological conservatives is exactly what we need to feel this confidence.  If Trump supporters really care about personal freedoms and the greater good, then they should care more about them than they care about depriving women of their reproductive rights or gays of their human rights or people who are conscientious objectors to abuses of power of their rights to express dissent by engaging in the symbolic act of burning the American flag.

"I pledge allegiance to the republic for which the flag of the United States of America stands, one nation, terribly divided by master manipulators, and to honest efforts to create an auspicious new reality of greater liberty and justice for all."

A strong and independent judiciary is vitally important to promote fair justice in a democracy.  Courts should be independent of dominance by ideological extremists who want to allow improper influence by private or partisan interests.  Judicial independence is a crucial aspect of our constitutional separation of powers that helps prevent abuses of power caused by an excessive concentration of power in the executive or legislative branches of government.  And an independent judiciary is a part of the brilliant system of checks and balances that ensure that no politicians can do undue harm to the people or undermine the fundamental underpinnings of human well-being provided by a healthy environment.

The political establishment in the United States has become much too corrupt in the last few decades, violating the precautionary wisdom in Alexander Hamilton's observation, "Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments."  Instead, the worst and most reckless voices on the right have been empowered, and a constant drip of twittered propaganda is being used to keep the people in the dark in a cowardly new world of distraction and misunderstanding and deceit and betrayal.

Abraham Lincoln gave us a sensational idea of our responsibilities to honor the covenant of public trust that our Founding Fathers imbued into the Constitution when he said, “The task of our forefathers was to uprear upon the hills and valleys of our land a political edifice of liberty and equal rights, and it is our duty to transmit these undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation to the next generation.  This task is imperatively required of us faithfully to perform in gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general.” (paraphrased for context)

The Right, for all the world, has gone wrong.  Charles Sykes, the conservative talk show host in Wisconsin, points out that the Right has become deeply compromised by their obsession with gaining power at any cost.  He is critical of the immoral drive to achieve their narrow goals by sacrificing fair play, honest principles, prudence, rationality, character, moral integrity, respect for Constitutional rights, civility, self-restraint, unity, social cohesion, and many sensible norms of ethical behavior.  “Now that the election is over,” writes Sykes, “don’t expect any profiles in courage from the Republican Party pushing back against these trends.”

One of the most chilling indications of the dangers of Mr. Trump's presidency is his vindictive character.  He is a master of manipulation of images, and in his narcissistic bubble he thinks that anyone who burns an American flag should be more harshly punished than murders or Russian spies or perpetrators of a hundred other types of crimes -- by having their citizenship taken away!  Take their citizenship away?  For being a truer patriot than the scheming dictator wannabe and all those collaborators who represent hyper-privilege for rich and powerful people at the expense of the 99% of us peons who can't buy our Senators or other representatives or a phalanx of lobbyists and lawyers?  For being committed to greater social justice and environmental justice, rather than being staunchly intent on imposing a lesser and more greedily self-serving agenda on the sheepish masses?

Ironically, it is Mr. Trump who is planning to figuratively shred the flag by setting fire to the constitutional rights of the people, as the American Civil Liberties Union has made clear by pointing out the many threats that he represents to various constitutional provisions contained in the great Bill of Rights.

There is also a terrible irony in the fact that social conservatives want to have ideological right-wing judges on the Supreme Court like the ones Mr. Trump promises to appoint.  Such judges stand for two grotesque perversions of justice.  First, most of them are committed to taking away inalienable rights of the people, especially of minorities and women, and second, even more significantly, they want to empower judges whose career records demonstrate that they would give giant corporate entities and rich people more rights at the expense of working people.

Most of the ardent ideological champions of conservative Supreme Court Justices don't really give a damn about hot button issues like abortion, gay rights, harsh prohibitions against flag-burning and such.  These are mere subterfuges that they use to exploit people's emotions in order to divide them, so that they can perpetuate the current sweetheart system that allows the privileged to gain huge benefits at the expense of the people.  Their true objective is to have Supreme Court Justices who will side with giant corporations and rich people over the greater good of working people and the dispossessed.  This is their overriding agenda, and it is another sad manifestation of the colossal conflict between capitalists and working people that sparked the creation of the Communist Manifesto in the 1840s.  "Workers of the world, unite!"

The judiciary system respects facts and evidence, in critical contrast to the incoming executive and legislative branches of the federal government, which seem to be less concerned with truth or facts in their eagerness to deny many facets of reality and impose their anti-egalitarian agenda on the people.  In this light, our court system is our last bulwark against potential despotic rule and dogmatic unreason and consequentially dangerous absolutism.

Facts and evidence have been broadly ignored by the president-elect and Congress in what pundits describe as our "post-truth" world.  But we still live in a reality where denial of facts and evidence, and of the best understandings of our human foresight, can be very dangerous, and deceptive spin and propaganda can violate the public trust in pathological ways.

I call on Donald Trump to publicly support this proposal.  The most important reason to make sure we have an independent judiciary may be the issue of helping protect the planet from irreversible damages.  Mr. Trump and his three oldest children -- Donald, Jr. and Ivanka, and Eric -- all signed a letter printed in the New York Times in 2009 that urged President Obama and world leaders who were going to international climate negotiations in Copenhagen to act on climate change.  The letter stated that, “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”  The signatories in the Open Letter also voiced this conviction:  "We urge you, our government, to strengthen and pass United States legislation, and lead the world by example.  We recognize the key role that American innovation and leadership play in stimulating the worldwide economy.  Investing in a Clean Energy Economy will drive state-of-the-art technologies that will spur economic growth, create new energy jobs, and increase our energy security all while reducing the harmful emissions that are putting our planet at risk."

Now that a huge amount of money and power can be gained by aggressively taking sides with fossil fuel industries, the Trump family seems to be just fine with pandering to polluting companies and appointing climate change deniers to positions of power, and thus to contribute to the probabilities that we will suffer "catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet".  This is a grotesque repudiation of precautionary wisdom and social responsibility.  This understanding was given glaring emphasis in early December when Mr. Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.  Mr. Pruitt has been a leader in the fight AGAINST the EPA’s efforts to rein in carbon pollution and protect our nation’s drinking water.  Like his fellow Oklahoman Jim Inhofe, he is a climate change denier and has been a close ally of fossil fuel industries, defending their interests to get political contributions at the expense of fair representation of the best interests of the people.  Pruitt would be a disaster for our hopes of maintaining a safe home planet for our children and grandchildren and all persons to be born in future generations.

The Trump family's flip flop on the crucial issue of climate action is infinitely worse than Faust's notorious bargain with the devil, for not only are the Trumps apparently willing to go down in history as eager to sacrifice their own souls for money and power, but they are willing to make a hubris-filled sacrifice of the well-being of billions of people on planet Earth, and they irredeemably throw into this unconscionably bad deal the well-being of countless tens of billions of people to be born in future generations.  In this grotesque Trumpian bargain with the devil, notably, the Trump family is also treacherously sacrificing the prospects for survival of a preponderance of species of life with which we (theoretically) share the planet. 

 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” 

                                                                                                                                     --- The Bible, Mark 8:36:

Earth to Trump -- please abort your dangerous agenda!  I personally cannot imagine what transformational born-again "change of heart" would motivate a new and "unpresidented" family ethics that is unfolding to literally "mislead" the USA into staunchly opposing climate action with extremely antagonistic deniers in charge of our supposedly democratic government.  "Follow the money?"   I call on the Trump family to find common cause with the greater good by understanding the far-reaching wisdom in Pigouvian incentives that put a price on carbon emissions so that all people and businesses use dirty energy sources more sparingly.  This would be a good first step in limiting the quantity of greenhouse gases we are spewing into the atmosphere.  It would also be fair-minded and auspicious if Mr. Trump would promise to the American people that he will protect our democratic republic from intensified anti-egalitarian initiatives and give fairer representation to the true best interests of the people by giving more honorable consideration to progressive understandings instead of barricading hyper-privilege in the towers of power and betraying the best interests of working people, poor people, black people, Hispanic people and female people, and ultimately of all of humankind.

At the bottom of the Open Letter signed by the Trump family members, the full-page ad concludes with an "African proverb" sentiment that the Goddess of Irony must have inserted just for fun:  “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  Bravo! for respectable and eminently responsible stances by public officials on important and broadly consequential issues!  Mr. Trump, unfortunately seems to be deplorably yielding to crass political expediency, so he later took to outlandish conspiracy theories and tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

More honest and ethical leaders than Mr. Trump have pointed out that, given the unprecedented scope and consequential implications of global challenges we face, we need to go far, quickly, and we would be much more successful if we were to choose to go in the right direction, together.

Professor Garrett Hardin famously warned humanity in 1968 about this type of "Tragedy of the Commons" folly, when he proclaimed,  "Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons."  To rashly and irresponsibly rush toward ruin is crazy folly, especially when leaders allow this course of action merely to get financial support and power for themselves at incomprehensible future costs and proliferating hardships for billions of people worldwide.

The Bible, the Qur'an, the Book of Mormon and other "holy books" make “deontological” judgments of absolute right and wrong, and of absolute good and evil.  These judgments often turn out to be contrary to people accepting and getting along with each other, even though the need is great for better social cohesion in our increasingly racially diverse and ethnocentric world.  Besides, these religious judgments are tragically prone to authorities excessively misusing their influence to get people to obey commandments and loyalties that are often advantageous to selfishly dominion-demanding authorities, but not necessarily to the social good.  Holy books and worldviews that champion deontological perspectives of right and wrong do not take important assessments of the consequential impacts of actions into account.  Also they have been a source of more violent conflicts and pogroms and genocides and wars than almost any other cause.

The Judgment is in.  We need better guidance.  Inclusive and unifying guidance.  And it is here at hand, in the truer wisdom of consequential ethics.  We need an eminently responsible Golden Rule ethic of reciprocity because it provides us with fairer guidance in our lives.  The Golden Rule is a consequential ethic that gives people better means of prioritizing assessments of the best courses of action, and can thus provide marvelously positive guidance and civilizing social cohesion.

An ethic of reciprocity is distinguished by being salubriously fair-minded and inclusive and propitious for improved prospects of peaceable coexistence.   Some of the most holistic, farsighted guidance possible would be provided by a Bill of Rights for Future Generations, as specifically set forth in the Earth Manifesto.  Also, by seeing the bigger picture and longer-term consequences, we would be more ready to adopt the farsighted ideas articulated in One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies.

We really need is better guidance for the simple reason that, as the human population approaches eight billion people within seven years, pressures on natural resources and fresh water supplies will dangerously intensify, so collaborative actions are needed, and not ruthless gambits for dominion, defiance or world domination schemes. Foresight is humankind's most uniquely important quality, while denial is surely an evolutionary dead end.

Thomas Paine honorably declared, among his many efforts to express Plain Truths, "... my religion is to do good."

Many conservatives may howl at first blush with this proposal to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and declare that it would be outrageous.  This would be real darn ironic hypocrisy in light of the many unbelievably unscrupulous and illegitimate ways that Republicans managed to win the November national elections.  The long litany of these unscrupulous tactics is examined in detail in my online essay Demagoguery and the Dangers of the Demise of Democracy.  I strongly encourage you, Mr. Biden, and all Americans to read this clear-eyed assessment.

My father used to tell the oddly funny story about the old codger who would say to him, "Cheer up, things could be worse."  And I never tired of hearing his pragmatic and ruefully cheerful observation, "So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse."  The national elections on November 8th gave domineering power to a rash demagogue who has since been assembling a group of extreme loyalists in his Cabinet, and together with other “conservative” politicians, they are plotting a path forward that is all but certain to make things much worse for the American people and humankind in general.

A coach of a second-rate football team once encouraged his players in their contest against a powerful opponent with the ringing words, “Cheer up, boys, there is no hope!”  I submit that the American people must remain hopeful and refuse to allow themselves to be relegated to inferior status, and to recognize, in fact, that they ultimately hold the most power, no matter how many dirty tricks are played.  There is actually great cause for hope, but this is true only as long as we maintain vigilance and heed Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice to keep our democracy from being taken away by authoritarian rulers.  Let us not obsequiously admit defeat, and instead demand more dignity and respect for us being in the game!

I have adduced and examined nine primary Constellations of Reasons that underlie this assessment that conditions are going to get worse, in Demagoguery and the Dangers of the Demise of Democracy.  These nine constellations of understandings fall into the general categories of Fomented National Insecurity, The Biggest Financial Scam in World History, Risks Related to “the Disastrous Rise of Misplaced Power”, Ideologically Twisted Perspectives on the Supreme Court, Overarching Ecological Perspectives, The Harms Associated with Diversionary Tactics and Public Graft, Subsidiary Themes, It Can't Happen Here, A Brief History of Truth and Lies, and True American Values.

The most consequential impacts of having conservatives dominate the Supreme Court is that they often side with moneyed interest groups and amoral corporations against the best interests of the people.  This particularly true with regard to facilitating the corrupting influence of Big Money and Dark Money in our elections.  The reason this is so consequential is that it aids and abets what I describe in graphic detail as "the Biggest Financial Crime in World History" in Demagoguery and the Dangers of the Demise of Democracy.  In brief, this legal malfeasance involves the on-going abuses of power that have allowed politicians to pile more than $19 trillion onto the national debt since 1981 to finance low tax rates on the highest levels of income.  And, to add insult to injury, this scam involves politicians allowing corporate entities to artificially boost profits by foisting high costs of compromised public health and safety onto the people instead of sensibly requiring these social and environmental costs to be included in the prices of goods and services.

A good understanding of these ideas supports this broadly propitious proposal to protect the American people by having you, Mr. Vice President, appoint President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court on January 3, 2017.

The bottom line is that when socioeconomic circumstances become too desperate for a majority of a nation's people at the same time that Gilded Age riches are gushing up into the coffers of the wealthy few, a peaceful political revolution is needed to make our system fairer.  Unfortunately, using an extraordinarily unethical litany of morally corrupt and treacherous tactics, a dangerous demagogue and a bunch of his associates have seized power, with the apparent intention of rashly abusing this power.  Now we are seeing that an interlude is approaching during which inequalities and injustices are going to be exacerbated by trickle-down austerity measures.  What this means is that, instead of a broadly inclusive and peaceful political revolution, we are very likely to experience a dangerous revolution that will be harshly repressive because of the authoritarian tendencies of the hard-right reactionaries who have grabbed power.

Trump and his hubris-filled Cabinet of gilded hyper-privileged billionaires and tarnished right-wing ideologues and powerful military brass are pretending they were given a landslide mandate to ram extremely inegalitarian and rashly anti-environmental and absolutely unsustainable policies down the throats of all Americans.  Trump and his coalescing cabal of apologists for the rich are going to demand that the American people meekly acquiesce to their extremist plans.

They have triumphed by dividing the people to conquer them, and they fervently believe that "to the victors go the spoils", no matter how downright evil the impacts of their greedily grabbing the lion's share of the spoils will be on the lives of those disenfranchised by their corrupt and morally illegitimate actions.  The epic poet Dante Alighieri, I imagine, would consign all these deceivers and perpetrators of fraud to the lowest levels of Hell for their treacherous breach of the public trust.  These words may sound like hyperbole, but I challenge all readers to evaluate the details of “the Biggest Financial Scam in World History” to understand the far-reaching treachery of this epic conflict between the rich and the rest of us, who they exploit with this ruse.

Conservatives have spent the last eight years doing everything they could to make President Obama fail, at a terrible cost to the American people.  The deep immorality of this treachery in the pursuit of power is stunning.  Now many partisans say we should all come together to help Donald Trump succeed.  We should all do this, BUT ONLY if having him succeed is strongly correlated to creating a fairer society that affords greater social justice and more broadly-shared opportunities, and improved prospects for upward social mobility, and propitiously better hopes for social cohesion and Golden Rule-guided peaceable coexistence. 

It seems apparent that the top priorities of Mr. Trump and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate will be antithetical to the greater good.  These top priorities are to reduce taxes on the highest levels of income and finance this unaffordable generosity by cutting spending on the social safety net and imposing further austerity measures on the masses -- the lazy bums.  This would be a way of further perpetuating the rigged provisions of the status quo, and to exacerbate this regressive and unethical scheme.

We should echo the famous words of Joseph Welch, who spoke in Congress in the 1950s to the demagogue Joseph McCarthy during a witch-hunt for communists among liberals, artists, intellectuals and Hollywood scriptwriters, “Have you no sense of decency, sirs?”

The inevitable outcome of this ideological tax-cut perfidy would be to cause a spike in already dangerously extreme levels of inequality among Americans, and it will serve to concentrate wealth ever more lopsidedly in the hands of the few.  This is a lousy plan in light of the daunting implications of a provocative observation made by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “We must make our choice.  We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.”  Garrison Keillor echoed this truth, declaring, “The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy.”

These are not mere speculative words;  they are a distillation of the Lessons of History.  The incisive billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer sharpens this understanding in his sensationally astute critique of deceitful trickle-down dogmas, The Pitchforks Are Coming ... For Us Plutocrats.  Hanauer pointed out that today, the U.S. "is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society.  Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France.  Before the revolution."

"And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds:  Wake up, people.  It won’t last.  If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.  No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.  In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.  You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state.  Or an uprising.  There are no counterexamples.  None.  It’s not if, it’s when."

Many peoples have made the mistake of "trusting" a demagogue, and have found out how consequential a folly this generally turns out to be.  And at this critical juncture in history, it is the wrong time for rich people to exhibit hubris by tightening their hold on the machinery of government and pushing their luck to argument the fortunes of the few at the expense of the many.  The Greek Goddess of Divine Retribution looks down from the heavens, her natural resentment of injustice piqued, poised to avenge crime and bring much sorrow to offending mortals, just as she is said to have done to Narcissus for his arrogant and disdainful hubris.

Freedom-loving Americans, don't lose sight of the fact that fair-minded democratic governance is the only protection we have against those who would chip away at our cherished liberties.  The estimable Mark Twain and his Connecticut Yankee expressed this feeling well when he said, “You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders.  The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing;  it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to …”.

Our concerns for our great country stem from an incisive and time-honored recognition that a house divided cannot stand.  The Republican pollster Frank Luntz pointed out that the American people are so divided today that “we’re hanging by a thread.”  Inequalities and injustices are reaching dangerous extremes, and this makes it probable that there will be one of two likely outcomes:  (1) either revolutionarily bold measures are taken to soon make our country fairer to rural folks and urban folks, white folks and colored folks, female folks and male folks, religious folks and other religious or agnostic folks, educated folks and less well-educated folks, poor folks and working people and those in the middle classes -- or else (2) a towering tsunami of social unrest will form and crest, provoking harsh repression by those in power who will intimidate those who object to their fraudulent scams and far-reaching abuses of power as they attempt to control the people and use any means necessary to suppress dissent.

The USA is in a predicament like France just before its revolution began in 1789, when the commoners were exasperated with the privileged class and their corruption and excesses and tax evasion and the opprobrious level of national debt that had been incurred.  Insistent demands for reform must be met with honest efforts, not bait-and-switch treachery, or else the masses will clamor for the King to be sent to the guillotine.

Thank you for giving consideration to these ideas, Mr. Biden!  They are evolving rapidly, and will be revised on my Earth Manifesto website, but I want to get this in the mail right now so as to have an impact by the fateful date of January 3, 2017.

Jolt 'em, Joe, before you leave and go away, and the American people will eventually thank you, like the ancient Greeks thanked wise Solon for his commitment to fair-mindedness and his statesmanship in saving the nation from revolutionary conflict.

  Truly,

    Dr. Tiffany B. Twain

     December 27, 2016

Tiffany Twain is the philosophic soul mate of Mark Twain and imagines herself to be “the illegitimate great-granddaughter of this highly esteemed and irreverent writer, lecturer, humorist and philosopher.”  She has published the first ten of Twelve Books of the Earth Manifesto, a save-the-world treatise that contains wide-ranging and far-sighted observations dealing with all the biggest issues facing humanity here in the second decade of the 21st century.  Check it out!

Frankly, Dr. Tiffany B. Twain is a nom de plume, just like Mark Twain was a sly pen name that was used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  How this whole project came about is a long and evolving story, and one that is better left a mystery than being disclosed in the full scope of more prosaic actual circumstances.  See the autobiographical assertions made in Happy Harbingers in Good Ideas for a Better Future for some interesting images.

“Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the important thing is the IDEAS THEMSELVES, and not the author.  Yet it is necessary to say that she is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of influence, public or private, other than the influence of reason and principle.”

                                                                                                                                -- Thomas Paine (gender revised)

I treasure my anonymity, but if you, Mr. Biden, would like to contact me,

  please do so at SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com