It is a good thing to try to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how well we can do that, but for some situations, we do a pretty good job. For example, if we watch a movie and someone gets attacked by a Great White Shark, we know we would feel pretty terrified and it’s a fairly good assumption that they are going to be terrified.
Let’s imagine how it feels inside the experience of a person who lies constantly and absurdly about how wonderful and great he is; how beloved he is by everyone; how he is the best at everything. Let’s say he declares himself to be a wobble-free genius. Can you imagine how empty he feels inside? He believes himself to be utterly incapable of anything which is why he insists he are successful at everything.
I saw the results of such a pathetic hypothetical person once up close and personal in real life. Trump took over a golf course that I was a member at. He made some nice improvements. At that point, I didn’t know him from Adam. But some people at the club did and they quit. Some of those people had been former club champions. So what does Trump do? He orders that the plaques be redone with his name as club champions for those years. He not only had not won those tournaments. He had not even played in them.
Just imagine how you would feel looking at a trophy with your name on it knowing full well that you had done nothing to deserve it. Would you feel proud or ashamed? My guess is that you would feel ashamed. This false “accomplishment” tarnishes every real accomplishment you ever had or that you ever will have. This is a normal response.
But Trump, for whatever reason, has such subterranean self-esteem that any semblance of praise, however false or ill-deserved, feels to him as a seeming life-saving desperate drop of moisture for the shriveled old soul that lives within the shriveled old body. If someone flatters him and he knows it’s flattery, he values that more than he would an honest complement. Because to him, opinions about his abilities or behaviors don’t interest him in the slightest. He’s not going to change because of feedback from this or that politician, family member, thinker, advisor, etc. But he just wants the shadow of true praise that is not based upon fact at all but upon power.
He failed as a businessman. He failed as a family member. He failed his own honor when he dodged the draft a half dozen times. He proved himself a racist by calling for the death penalty for four black youths — who it turned out were innocent. Trump didn’t really know anything about the case. He just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to put his “hat in the ring” for being a racist candidate. Just in case anyone slept through Act 1 due to jet lag or too much wine or whatever, Act 2 was ranting and raving about Obama being an African. “I’ve got proof and I’ll show it the day after the day after the day after the day after….” And, let’s think about it. Here’s a guy — Trump — whose known as a golfer, a playboy and a real estate developer. He’s on record supporting many liberal policies like being pro-abortion. Why would he really care whether Obama was born in Africa? This guy who dodged the draft six times and is already cheating on his taxes suddenly becomes outraged at a particular part of the Constitution that says you must be born in America to be President. Seem plausible?
In case the fifteen foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign from Act 1 wasn’t bright enough, let’s put on the fifty foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign in Act 2. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you. I mean, if you were really really zonked on for Acts 1 and 2, don’t you worry! The message of this play is simple and if you didn’t notice the neon-Nazi signs before, now they flashing out a new warning on the subway walls: “Civil War! Then, make me dictator of AmeriKKKa!”
It’s evil and it’s horrible, but it’s also pathetic. Imagine how empty and worthless TFG must feel that he wants the support of people, like him, who derive their sense of worth from something like their supposed race (itself a fiction) or their gender or their inherited wealth — and not from anything they’ve ever accomplished.
At this point, an image occurs to me. A black hole, metaphorical but also quite literal, exist at the very center of TFG. In order to fill it, he is compelled to suck every shred of truth and goodness from everyone around him. More and more people get sucked into the vortex. Who knows? Maybe in some parallel universe, it all comes out as beautiful anti-matter. That may be nice for them. Over there. In that universe.
But for us, back here on the earth we’re familiar with, it’s just plain out — terrible. It exacerbates the emptiness disease that TFG has become. It corrupts all those around him. They all know they’re lying and they each know each of the others is lying. Just like the false championships, if anyone famous goes along with the big lie, that action tarnishes everything good these Senators and Representatives and Newscasters ever did. It outweighs everything from the day, 40 years ago, as a cub scout, they helped someone cross the street to the day that they helped craft significant legislation. All of that is gone. And, for what? Nothing. That’s the real hell of it for them. For nothing.
All of them realize that if there is a coup, none of them will ever be safe again. And, they’ve already pledged their allegiance to the dictator. So, they have no real power. They have to do whatever the oligarchs tell Trump to make them do. They were afraid they’d lose power if they acted ethically; so instead, they acted unethically and as a result lost every shred of power. It’s a great dramatic thread for a farce. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a real tragedy. And that kind of takes the fun out of it, at least for me.
They could, theoretically, have a great awakening and decide as one to throw off the shackles of the oligarchs and rejoin the difficult game of government by democracy. They would have more power than they ever had before because they would be free to work creatively and solve actual problems with actual work. They would help build a better world for their children and for everyone’s children to live in. They would certainly feel cleaner. That would be something that they could be proud of; that they wouldn’t mind the history books touting; a legacy for grandchildren.
I wonder how the Nazis who were still alive in Germany after the war explained their role to their grandchildren.
Please do not quote or summarize or repeat what the likes of Ted Crews, Minorlee Greene, or #MoscowMitch say. Their words mean nothing. They have worked to overthrow our democracy. They are not interested in fair trials. They are not interested in the rule of law. They are not interested in fair elections. They are not interested in taking their oath of office seriously.
They are interested in one and only one thing: power. They want power in order to line their own pockets and decide what other people can do in their private lives. They have zero interest in governing, solving America’s problems, or listening to what liberals, Democrats, Independents or experts have to say.
Yes, they vibrate their vocal cords. Yes, they move their lips and jaws to form sounds that remind people of actual words. But their words mean nothing.
Their word means nothing.
When they take a solemn oath to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, they don’t mean it.
When they take an oath to have a fair trial, they don’t mean it.
When they say that a Supreme Court Justice should not be confirmed during the last year of a President’s term, they don’t mean it.
When they say that tax reductions for the rich will benefit everyone, they don’t mean it.
When they say that they think the attempted coup and the attack on the Capitol was despicable, they don’t mean it.
They don’t mean anything they say.
They bark and snarl and whine and, I grant you, it sounds a lot like actual words.
But it’s different. They use these barks that sound like words only trying to lie, cheat, steal from Americans and to confuse enough voters and donors to get votes and money in order to stay in power.
In America, we have a long tradition of trying to be “fair” to “both sides” of a debate, discussion, campaign, election, etc. And, given that you have two sides playing by the rules, that is a great tradition. But if only one side is playing by the rules and the other side subverts and avoid the rules, that is no longer a relevant tradition.
If two sides are both arguing in good faith based on facts, then presenting those facts with various analogies and analyses in order persuade people that their plan, position, or platform is superior, it is good to make sure people hear both sides or all sides of those arguments in order to make a better-informed decision. That’s fine.
But if one side is telling the truth and one side makes up stuff out of thin air, it is not the duty of the media to repeat both sides. If one side is using words in order to destroy our democracy, it is not the duty of the media to repeat both sides. If one side is on board with a Crime Family and pushing for an absolute dictatorship, it is not the job of the media to repeat their lies.
When a patient has cancer, the ethical doctor limits treatments to those treatments that kill the cancer cells or improve the health of their patient. They don’t give medicine in “fair proportion” — giving equal doses to those treatments that help the patient and those treatments that help the cancer cells.
When a general leads his troops in a war, he or she doesn’t go out of his way to make sure the enemy has just as much ammunition as their own troops so they can have a “fair fight.” They call in air support to bomb the enemy. They don’t ask their bombers to be sure to they are dropping shells equally on both sides.
The likes of Ted Cruise, #MoscowMitch, and all the other Trumputinists who tried to overthrow our government by refusing to certify the election; the likes of Trumputinists who attend a trial and snub the entire process of prosecuting the most egregious campaign of actions that any President has taken in the entire history of the nation are not involved in true debate, true discussion, true dialog, or true governing.
They are interested in one thing: power. And they will do anything and everything to get that power — including overthrowing the duly elected government through violence.
Repeating the lies of violence-loving traitors is not part of the duty of the media.
You might think that it is okay so long as you add the tag line that what they say is contested or even a lie. Sadly, however, that doesn’t really do the trick. Once the lie is presented to people enough times, it will “stick” in some people’s memory. (See this post about the “primacy effect” in human memory).
What betrayal of trust in all of American history rivals the relentless campaign of lies, conspiracy theories and violence perpetrated by Trump and supported by disingenuous, treasonous Trumputinists? There is nothing close. Presenting the so-called opinions, views, musings, thoughts, etc. of the Trumputinists is not the duty of the media any more than it is to repeat the delusional lies of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, or Kim Jong-un.
We are not having a dialog, or a debate, or a discussion, or a contest with Trumputinists. They want to destroy our country. Don’t be fooled into pretending to have a debate with them. This is an attack on our country every bit as much as the sacking of the Capitol by the British in the War of 1812. Trumputinism is an attack on America every bit as much as Pearl Harbor. Trumputinism is an attack on America every bit as much as were those who flew planes into the World Trade Towers.
People have debated what, precisely, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution means. But no-one to my knowledge has argued that the “right to bear arms” means that you can therefore shoot dead whomever you want. That is not a “freedom” under any reasonable definition.
What would be the consequence of simply saying that under our Constitution, you can kill whomever you want? Anarchy. Chaos. Such a state of affairs would certainly not be conducive to an economic recovery, controlling the pandemic, or “domestic tranquility.” The Second Amendment also doesn’t mean that you can go kill people provided you think you are justified. The fact that you believe you are right does not mean you are right. If you do own a gun, you have a responsibility to use it wisely. You can own a car. But that doesn’t give you the right to drive however you damned well feel like. It doesn’t give you the right to go as fast as you want and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to kill people with your car. Similarly, you can own a home. But owning your own home doesn’t mean you can set up an opium den or a crack house there. With rights come responsibilities.
So it is as well with the “Freedom of Speech.” You have the right to make arguments for your point of view, even if that view is not popular. But, as nearly everyone realizes, that does not mean you have the freedom to stand up in a crowded theater (should they ever exist again) and scream “FIRE!” at the top of your lungs. If you did, and people were trampled to death in the panicked rush to get out, you would rightly be held liable for their deaths.
That is not the only restriction on your “Freedom of Speech.” You cannot visit someone, sneak a bottle of vodka out of their liquor cabinet while they aren’t looking, pour the Absolute down the drain, and replace the contents with wood alcohol, and then sneak it back into the liquor cabinet. You cannot knowing sell horse meat as venison. You cannot lie about your age in order to register to vote or buy alcohol or firearms.
You cannot convince your neighbor that wood alcohol will prevent COVID (it won’t and it’s poison) and then let them act accordingly. It is certainly not ethical, if someone has the symptoms of an appendicitis, to tell them not to worry because doctors just perform operations to make money and that instead, they should simply take a laxative (this can easily result in a burst appendix followed by sepsis and death). It is also probably illegal to do so, even if you sincerely, but wrongly believe that taking a laxative will cure an appendicitis.
Suppose your friend has a two year old with a nasty looking wart on their hand. Suppose you convince your friend, that you can simply cut off the child’s hand with a meat cleaver and that the next day, a new hand will grow back and it will be perfect — no wart. Your friend is rather stupid to believe you, but that doesn’t mean you have no responsibility in the matter. You cannot successfully argue in court that you were “merely executing your right to free speech.”
It is not okay to simply spread lies because there are other people spreading the same lies. With Freedom of Speech comes the responsibility to check up on the veracity of what you say, write, or tweet. If your intention is to mislead people into harming or killing someone, you will be held liable.
Sometimes, deciding what is true is difficult. In the case of my convincing you that your child’s hand will grow back, you could use logic, or experience, or seek out the expertise of medical doctors. Some people have not been educated to take these steps. That is sad, but if someone is misled into committing a crime, a mentally competent adult doing the misleading and the mentally competent adult who has been misled are both liable, even if both of them have been misled by misinformation on the Internet. That is why it is so important not to spread misinformation.
Sometimes such misinformation is spread with the best of intentions. People may actually believe that people with red hair are devils in disguise and that they are all hell-bent on destroying the earth. That still doesn’t make it all right for you to kill red-haired people nor to spread lies about them that results in someone else killing red-haired people. If you spread your belief and that action harms other people, you are not somehow exonerated because you believed the lie that you spread.
There is, however, a category of misinformation still worse than spreading deadly lies without checking up on them.
That happens when people who know better, such as Ted Cruz, spread lies that they know are lies in order to gain political power. He was valedictorian in his high school class and has degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School. He has both the knowledge and the intelligence to know that he was lying about election results. Unless someone was drugging him without his knowledge or he has a brain tumor, he knowingly and cravenly tried to overthrow the most recent Presidential election. And he did so in the most cravenly and cowardly way possible: by intentionally and cynically rousing others to violence. Everyone who died in DC as a result of the Sedition Riot has their blood on his hands.
What he did, and others of his ilk, is not the exercise of free speech any more than screaming “FIRE!!” In a crowded theater is exercising free speech. Cruz’s rabble rousing is no more free speech than my robbing a bank at gunpoint is a “free speech” demonstration of my objection to wealth inequality. Cruz knows full well that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, and by quite a bit. Cruz knows that there was no wide-spread election fraud. Cruz knew full well that the President’s lies on the subject had predisposed an angry mob to believe his lies and act on them.
This was not the first time that Ted Cruz had egregiously lied in public life. Before the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, he swore an oath for a fair trial. Then, he joined other GOP Senators to refuse to hold a fair trail; refusing to call witnesses and refusing to subpoena documents. Leaving Trump in office has led to hundreds of thousands of needlessly dead Americans. Those deaths are on the heads of Donald J. Trump, but also on the heads of Senators who swore to hold a fair trial and then made no attempt to do so.
There are many lies that have emanated from Ted Cruz — a man who is a United States Senator. His lies meant to incite a riotous attack on our democracy were not the first of his lies. But they should be the last.
He should be ejected from the Senate and criminally prosecuted for inciting to riot and for treason.
Our founders knew that a would-be dictator, such as Donald J. Trump, would be a danger to our democracy. They provided for that eventuality. Sadly, they failed to anticipate the astounding level of cowardice that could be displayed by people such as Ted Cruz. I suppose it’s understandable. After all, these founders had just engaged in a war against the much more powerful and better trained British. And, they had won. They didn’t all agree with each other, but they were not a bunch of craven cowards who would sell their family for a moldy table scrap of a would-be dictator’s affection.
Cowardly sycophants of that ilk belong in prison; not in the United States Senate.
You own a dog. You love your dog. And you know your dog loves you.
Your neighbor, on the other hand, you do not love.
But you tolerate the guy despite his odd habits.
Then, one day, your neighbor comes over and shoots your dog dead.
In court, he explains that bullets only kill evil dogs. Bullets will pass through good dogs without harm. In fact, he claims he was doing you a favor, because an evil dog can appear like a good dog and then kill you in your sleep. And, as it turns out, he knows this is true because he found this out on the Internet. Then he heard it on Sketchy News Channel. He joined a group called “Bullets are Truth” on a social media site called “Parlez Vous Tromperie” which has cool pictures of scantily clothed acrobats all around the edges.
Your friend is an adult. He went to high school. He came from a reasonable home. He was not on drugs when he murdered your dog. He is not certifiably insane. He insists he was doing you a favor. He was operating, of course, on the basis of misinformation.
It doesn’t matter.
He killed your dog.
The fact that he did it based on false information makes no difference in how you feel nor does it make a difference in the eyes of the law. The false information he believed in makes no sense and is easily disproven. It doesn’t matter that thousands of people were duped into believing the same nonsense.
You own a dog. You love your dog.
Same neighbor. Same result. He shot and killed your dog.
When the truth at last comes out, it turns out that your spouse called him up and through sobs and hysterical screams, managed to squeak out that the dog had been bitten by a bat and though they had thought little of it at the time, the dog was now rabid and about to attack the children where they were all playing in the yard. She said she knew you had a gun and could you please save her children before it was too late!
Turns out your spouse always hated the dog and the neighbor. After the call, she smiled a very self-satisfied smile at her acting performance. Then, she let your dog out to play, but not before squirting whipped cream all over his muzzle.
When your neighbor came into the yard he saw your dog charging toward the kids and apparently foaming at the mouth.
He killed your dog. He did it on the basis of misinformation.
After all the facts come out, you’ll probably still be pretty PO’d at your neighbor, but you’d be a lot more PO’d at your spouse!
One crucial difference between Case 1 and Case 2 is that in Case 1, your neighbor had plenty of time to verify the veracity of the claim that bullets would pass “harmlessly” through the body of a “Good Dog.” In Case 2, your neighbor could have reasonably thought that he had zero time to do anything but save your children. In Case 1, your neighbor’s belief was absurd. In Case 2, your neighbor believed something unlikely to be true, but it wasn’t physically impossible. Dogs can catch rabies. And if a rabid dog bites a child, that’s really bad for the child.
What do you think are appropriate punishments in these two cases?
Case 3 is just like Case 1 except that your neighbor comes and shoots your kids. He has all the same excuses. He has all the same misinformation as in Case1.
What do you think would be an appropriate punishment for your neighbor? How about the people who put the information on the Internet?
Or, perhaps you think all should be forgiven because he was misinformed?
Your neighbor relies on misinformation on TV and internet sites to engage in treasonous behavior toward America.
The minimum sentence for treason is five years in a Federal Penitentiary.
The maximum penalty is death.
What do you think is an appropriate price for committing treason when the traitor does it based on an absurd conspiracy theory — one that he sincerely believes?
Note to readers: Have you been wondering what happened to Dmitry? I have. You remember, Dmitry, don’t you? He was the Russian GRU officer who first came up with the idea of subverting large amounts of the the GOP into becoming a death cult. Needless to say, he initially met with a — what to call it? — a red wave of skepticism. But Dmitry had numbers and math models to back up his bold plan.
After the plan was approved by Vlad himself, the main implementation sticking point appeared to be finding anyone depraved enough to be traitor enough to kill a quarter million of their own people. It turned out, there were such people in America. Soon they began to focus the efforts on someone who was both a profound failure and who had an overblown opinion of themselves. And, when I say, “overblown”, I don’t just mean the garden variety of “overblown” wherein a dandelion insists he’s really a yellow rose. Oh, no. I mean the galactic variety of “overblown” wherein a small asteroid…a teeny asteroid imagines itself … really nothing more than a small stone floating around in space imagines itself to be of U Y Scuti size! That size of over-blown.
As we know, provided that at least occasionally we poke our heads outside the Fox News bubble, the pandemic is having its third wave in America — the biggest one yet. And, it is largely thanks to the efforts of #45 and his enablers. (For real!) And, that means, it is largely thanks to the efforts of Dmitri (fiction).
Of course, I’m not too happy about that. In truth, I also wouldn’t be happy if it were a million Russian citizens who needlessly died (or those from any other country on earth). Dmitry may or may not have had second thoughts about killing a million Americans. If he did, he didn’t share it with me. You and I would both understand that he would be greatly rewarded for his patriotic efforts on behalf of Putin’s ambitions to weaken or destroy the United States of America. So, let’s go check in on Dmitri and discover what his reward was for his innovative attack on America.
Just as the Commissar arranged, Dmitry was the last one to enter the conference room. A broad grin broke out on Dmitry’s face as he realized what was happening. The Commissar had arranged a celebration, complete with flags and bunting.
“Why today?” Muttered Dmitry and immediately realized because America was drowning in new cases — breaking 100,000/day.
The Commissar himself poured shots for everyone. Dmitry noted the brand and raised his eyebrows. This was the good stuff, he noted to himself.
Dmitry greatly appreciated the gesture. Ilya, in particular, gave him a very inviting smile. Even Olga raised her glass and mouthed the words acknowledging that he had been right.
After the toast, and the synchronous clapping, Dmitry walked up to the dais and took the mike. He beamed and bowed and gestured for silence.
“This was a team effort. And I say we toast the leader of our team, the man we affectionately call “The Commissar.” Dmitri held his glass aloft. A few other toasts were offered and the din in the room grew correspondingly. Dmitry glanced at the clock. Hours before quitting time, and most folks were already impaired. He enjoyed a shot, but he didn’t really relish being impaired. His current buzz was plenty. Too much in fact. He decided to sneak away and check to see what his web crawlers and sentiment analysis programs had turned up.
He turned suddenly. The large beefy hand of The Commissar came down heavily on his shoulder. “Hey! Congratulations again, Dmitry. Now. I need to see you in my office.”
The Commissar gestured to a chair for Dmitry and he himself walked around his desk and sat in his appropriately more comfortable version. He enjoyed the plushness. The Commissar chuckled as he recalled that line from Animal Farm, “all are equal but some are more equal than others.” He smiled at Dmitry and wordlessly arose and sauntered over to his private reserve where he kept the really good vodka. He swung around with two shot glasses and handed one to Dmitry.
“Dmitry. You should be proud. Here’s to you!” The Commissar tossed his glass back and Dmitry did the same.
“Oh, my God! That’s good! Thank you, Commissar!”
“Dmitry, It’s nothing. You have come to the attention of Putin himself! He has a special assignment for you — something he says will require a combination of discipline, mathematical brilliance, and out of the box thinking. Well, you’re it. I have no idea what the situation is, but you were asked for specifically and by name! Congratulations! Sorry, I don’t have more details, but I think you’ll like this part. It’s on the Caspian! You’re going to have your own damned dacha there! I’m more than a bit jealous, but you deserve it! Hey! Look at the time! You’ve got to get back to your apartment and pack. I’ll arrange to send on your stuff here. The way things usually work, your contact will come by and have tickets for you. I won’t even find out specifically who you’ll be working for! Your talent has been noticed. Go. And Congratulations!”
Dmitry stuttered, “Are you… ? Really? This is so … sudden. I mean, I’m not going to say I’m not flattered or protest some false modesty, but … shouldn’t I stay and take Operation SuperSpreader to its logical conclusion.”
The Commissar shrugged. “It’s not my decision. Sorry. I don’t think we have much choice here. Just go get yourself ready. And sober. Your contact will be there shortly. Sorry, I don’t have more info. It’s obviously top secret. Beyond my clearance level. We’ll be okay here. You’ve done an excellent job — a generous job of sharing your expertise. We’ll be fine. GO! I’ll let your co-workers know what’s happening.”
Dmitry frowned. He looked at the blank poker face of his boss. He glanced at the party which had not diminished in intensity during his absence. If anything, they were becoming more boisterous. OK. The Caspian! That did sound nice. Moscow was already damned cold but he knew it would become much worse. He spent the Metro ride home trying to decide what to pack. Replaying the Commissar’s comments however, he realized he had no idea even what country he’d be in or whether he’d be on the relatively warm side.
He stumbled up the steps to his third story studio. “Crap,” he muttered and he threw himself on the couch. I just need a nap before that guy — what was his name? He shook his head, trying to sober himself up. Maybe cold water. Or coffee. But where am I going? His head still spinning, Dmitry conked out.
Meanwhile, the boss they called The Commissar had gone back in to share the happy news with everyone in the section. He glanced around. People were wasted. Oh, well. He tapped the side of a glass with a caviar knife and asked for attention several times. It was times like this that having a mike was helpful. People quieted quickly.
“Hey, I just have a very short announcement to make. I received orders from high up — from very high up, that Dmitry has been transferred on an emergency basis to another location. Meanwhile, the division head says to scuttle all our records on Project SuperSpreader. If anyone asks, tell them it was my idea, and mine alone. None of you should admit to having anything to do with it. And, don’t mention Dmitry. He is such an important asset now that we want there to be no way for foreign agents to trace him or find him. The CIA may be onto us and they will think nothing of killing him or torturing him for information. So…as far as the outside world goes, he was never here.”
The Commissar prided himself on being able to read faces, even those trained in deception. People with alcohol were happy people. They were used to hearing arbitrary decisions. They were used to obedience.
“Oh, one more thing, before you get back to partying. Dmitry told me to give everyone his regards and his thanks — and his regret for not having time to say goodbye to everyone personally. I’m sorry I don’t know anything more about his promotion and assignment. Top Secret. Now, Party!”
Back in his apartment, Dmitry heard a knock or a telephone or possibly a doorbell. What was it? He had had way, way too much to drink. But, he recalled, or thought he recalled, it was only three shots. I should have a buzz, but not — how can I be this drunk. He tried to swing his legs over the edge of the couch but they didn’t move. Suddenly, he jerked his head. There was a man here. $hit! He thought, It’s my contact. I’ve got to get it together.
The man smiled genially, yawned and glanced at his watch. “Ah, you’re still here. Well, not for long. Sorry. I got here a little early. If you’re embarrassed to die in front of me, I could leave and come back.”
Dmitry just couldn’t think straight. “What? What? Caspian?”
The man tilted his head with curiosity as though wondering precisely how this one would die. “There’s no Caspian, my friend.” He chuckled a bit. “Nice idea by the way — the whole death cult thing. I would have never thought of it. Well, maybe. But I never would have thought it could work. Brilliant really. Thing is, it’s so brilliant, people like your Commissar feel it might be more appropriate if someone with a longer career deserves to get the credit. Don’t worry. It won’t be long.” He paused and then added thoughtfully, “If you’re in pain or anything, just give me a sign. I can break your neck. SNAP! Real quick. Just give me a wink.”
Dmitry cast his mind back. Who was this man? What was he saying the Commissar who gave me his special vodka wants to … an image flashed into Dmitry’s mind. The clear vodka had only been poured into one glass, not both. Only Dmitry had actually drunk the clear liquid. No wonder it tasted so good. Liquid death.
The man chuckled the deep chuckle of someone who revels in evil. “I see the truth is dawning on you, Dmitry. You’re supposed to be a genius. You should understand — in a system that puts power over truth, the people at the top are not the most able or the smartest or the most educated or the most talented. They are the cruelest and most ruthless. I hope you find that useful info in the next world.”
Dmitry realized he was going blind. He blinked several times and squinted to look into the face of this man who had come to … take the body, he supposed. The nameless man stared right back as though he were a stamp collector staring at a rare stamp for that flaw, that flaw, that fatal flaw. Dmitry realized that his had been trusting his boss.
This is part of a longer story line in four chapters. Here are links to other chapters.
Democrat still clinging to the Rule of Law: “Are you against the Affordable Care Act? Do you realize destroying it would put the health of millions of Americans at risk and that we are in the middle of a pandemic?”
AB: “I don’t comment on things in the abstract so I can’t say.”
Democrat believing in the Rule of Law: “But you did write opinions that it should be trashed.”
AB: “Oh, that!. Oh, sure. But I was just writing as an academic. Just expressing my opinion as an academic. It has nothing whatever necessarily to do with what I would do in a specific case. I’d have to read the law, listen to the arguments, pray for guidance, confer with my colleagues, understand the facts of the case and then rule however the President told me to.”
Democrat: “And you do realize that the President read your opinion…well, no, didn’t read it I’m sure, but he was no doubt assured by the Federalist society that you could be counted on to do whatever he says. Right?”
AB: “Oh, I’d be so flattered if he read it, but I didn’t know that. I’m sure it’s just my sheer brilliance that made him pick me.”
Democrat: “You realize that he has said publicly that he would pick a judge who would tear down the Affordable Care Act, right? So, he at least thinks he knows how you would vote. Correct?”
AB: “Oh, my. I have no idea what such a stable genius as the President might think. Who knows? But I can assure you and everyone listening that I would look to the law and the facts and make a fair and informed decision. You know, justices have to swear to be impartial.”
Democrat: “Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of ‘Oath of Office.’ After all, Trump swore an ‘Oath of Office’ to defend our country. But what he’s actually done is sell it out to Putin and the Russian oligarchs to whom he owes half a billion dollars. And, the GOP Senators swore a solemn oath to run a fair trial after Trump’s impeachment. And, all the while Mitch McConman laughed, smiled, and said he could guarantee that Trump would walk free and that he would “coordinate” the trial with Trump’s legal team. And, the GOP Senators refused to call witnesses or subpoena documents, so, again, I’m pretty clear how much an oath is worth when it’s made by the Gang Of Putin. But let’s examine another issue. Trump has also said he wants to be lifetime dictator. If he claims he wants to be dictator and the case comes to the Supreme Court and you are confirmed, can you assure the American people that you will not take his side? Is it ever okay for the President to become a dictator?”
AB: “Well, as I have said so many times in the last few days, I’m a strict constitutionalist. I don’t believe it’s up to us to re-interpret the Constitution but to hang instead on its every word. That said, I can’t comment on hypotheticals. So, who knows? But I can assure you that I would read the applicable law and the facts of the case and make a decision based on the constitution.”
Dem: “So you cannot — right here — today, assure the American people that you will not approve Trump’s bid to become dictator?”
AB: “It would depend on the specifics. I can tell you this though. The word ‘dictator’ does not appear in the Constitution. So, apparently, the Founding Fathers must have thought it would be just fine. Otherwise they would have put a clause in specifically forbidding it. And they didn’t. So…but I am in no way promising that I would approve his dictatorship. It would depend on the arguments and so on and so forth ad nauseam.”
Dem: “Putin’s Puppet seems to think that it is vital to get you on the court right now so that you can rule on his bogus claims of voter fraud. He has publicly said that’s why he needs you on the court.”
AB: “I’m flattered, of course, that he needs me. I had no idea he said that. How sweet. But I would have to look at the arguments on both sides, and the applicable law, and the facts of the case. Then, I would make a determination.”
Dem: “You realize that study after study has found that voter fraud is a nearly non-existent problem?”
AB: “Since the President has already said he’s going to put this case before the Supreme Court, I can’t really comment on a case which I may have to rule on.”
Dem: “Since the President has said that he is putting you on the court now because he will need you to make sure he wins regardless of the vote totals, don’t you feel you should recuse yourself from such a case if it does come to the Court? Otherwise, even if you were trying to be fair, don’t you think a reasonable person would infer that there is a conflict of interest?”
AB: “Well, my mentor Judge Scalia did not recuse himself from a case where Dick Cheney and he had an extended hunting trip together right before the case. Cheney had a material interest and I want to be more right wing than Attila the Hun. But I can’t actually say. You know? I’d have to see exactly what the case was and then decide not to recuse myself. I mean, why would I? I’m always fair in my own mind, so why recuse?”
Dem: “Do you think black people should be allowed to vote in this country? Are you aware that we are in the middle of an election right now and that the Republicans are suppressing the vote in a whole host of ways? In rich white neighborhoods, people might wait five minutes, but in many areas where there are a preponderance of people of color, there are lines that are up to eleven hours long. Is this equal protection under the law?”
AB: “Well, you know, I don’t want to give opinions on things unless I actually know the facts of the case. You say there are long lines and that the black vote is being suppressed but who knows? What does reporting prove? What does eyewitness prove? Unless it is brought to court and we have a chance to review the law, check with the President and see what he wants to do, who knows?”
Dem: “Did you say you would have to check with the President?”
AB: “Absolutely. Oh, wait. Did you think I said President? I said precedent. Maybe if you’d take the damned mask off, I could understand you better. The pandemic’s over anyway. Our fearless leader already said that. But whatever. I don’t see what my religion has to do with it.”
Trumputinist Senator: “Exactly. The Constitution guarantees religious freedom and yet the Democrats here today have repeatedly said you shouldn’t serve because of your religion! It’s preposterous!”
AB: “I know! I have a right to believe the earth is the center of the universe and that it’s 6000 years old and that women should be utter slaves to their husbands and that birth control, abortion, and in vitro fertilization are all tools of the devil if I want! And, yet the Dems keep saying I can’t serve because of my religion! I don’t see why a Catholic can’t be on the Supreme Court. It’s not like I’m Muslim or something weird like that.”
Dem: “What Senator has said that you could not serve because of your religion?”
AB: “I forget. Lots of them. All of them. None of them. But they intimated it.”
Dem: “Which Senator intimated that you are unworthy to serve because of your religious beliefs?”
AB: “Somebody. I don’t know. Maybe they were wearing a mask. Which is silly. Because the pandemic’s over. It’s over. Our Fearless Leader said so! You were asking me about voting rights. That’s one example. The Bible says only white people should vote — people like Jesus.”
Dem: “You think Jesus was white?”
AB: “Well, sure. That’s what the picture looks like in my church. Blond hair like me and blue eyes like me. See, there you are again, questioning my religion.”
Dem: “No, I’m not. I’m questioning your history. Jesus was almost certainly dark-skinned and dark haired and brown eyed.”
AB: “Where does it say that in the Constitution?”
Dem: “Constitution? What are you talking about?”
AB: “You know, the law of the land, the … oh, I mean … I mean, the Bible. Where does it say in the Bible that Jesus wasn’t Aryan? And, anyway, did you know I adopted colored children?”
Dem: “That’s very nice. I firmly believe that you, like other Americans, can believe as you wish. But it concerns me that you may sometimes confuse what the Constitution says with what the Bible says. Does that ever happen?”
AB: “Absolutely not! But if it did, let’s not forget that the country was founded by Evangelical Christians!”
Dem: “Partly, perhaps. Thomas Pain was an atheist. Thomas Jefferson was a deist. As was Benjamin Franklin. As was Alexander Hamilton in his later years. Anyway, would you support the idea that America should be a religious theocracy?”
AB: “I wouldn’t care to speculate about hypocrites or hypocrisy. They have a long and stories history in American politics. It would depend on the specifics of the case.”
Dem: “Hypocrisy? Do you mean hypotheticals?”
AB: “Yes, that’s what I said — hypotheticals. I don’t do hypotheticals.”
Dem: “So, if the President intentionally killed a quarter million Americans, and a class action lawsuit were brought by the families of those intentionally killed, you could not say whether that was okay or not?”
AB: “Of course not. That’s a perfect example. The President is so gentle, I’m sure he wouldn’t hurt a fly intentionally. Well, not unless it were stealing the show from Pence. But you know. I would need to know specifically which quarter million Americans were killed and many of them were probably nobodies or old, sick people anyway. And many of them just didn’t take care of themselves. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes…aren’t these really just the products of bad decisions?”
Dem: “Sometimes. Often people are born with pre-existing conditions. And sometimes, people get those diseases from bad luck although certainly lack of financial resources can play a part as well.”
AB: “Well there you go! If you’re not born rich, whose fault is that? But as I say, it would depend. I can’t say anything. I was told not to say anything and I’m pretty sure I succeeded.”
Dem: “So, just to recap, if the President breaks the law and then argues that he should have absolute power and be able to break any law he wants, you would say — what?”
AB: “I can’t say. I really can’t say. I’m under orders not to say anything about anything. And — we’re done! We’re done! I’m in! I’m in! No-one has a conscience and no-one will vote against me! I avoided saying all those bad things you were trying to get me to say and I win! I win!”
The room smelled of old money, paneled as it was with Chestnut from a time when Chestnut trees grew to 100 feet tall. The draperies hung thick, blocking out the cheery morning sun. The trappings lent an air of solemnity and useless lavishness to the proceedings. Marvin saw one of the skirts sashay in with a tray of the sundry sweets and coffees. Everyone checked out their order — and the skirt which was appropriately short. Marvin could see from everyone’s expression that they were pleased. Apparently, she had brought the treats without messing up anyone’s orders for a change. Good, thought Marvin. A good omen. Let’s get this sucker started.
“All right gentleman. I hereby call this meeting to order. As you know, we have a weighty decision before us. Who is going to run our domestic business enterprises. Our first candidate has been running our Midwestern division for three and a half years. During that time, our profits have reached record numbers. Some of his detractors say he fudged the numbers. What we do know is that we have had a record number of lawsuits and fines from OSHA, the FDA, the EPA, and the EOC. We’ve tied all these suits up in the courts and they won’t be settled till long after everyone on this board, myself included, will be long dead.”
There were appreciative nods and chuckles throughout the room.
“I know there were those among you who didn’t think we should hire a reality TV show host instead of a competent and experienced engineer. And, it’s true that he’s shaken things up a bit. But I think, on the whole, the profit numbers speak for themselves.”
Marvin could see that Mark wrung his hands and bit his lip. He ignored it and pressed on.
Matthew broke in. “Marvin, I am just wondering: do the numbers really speak for themselves? Have we done any independent auditing of those numbers? And, if the profits are up, why is it taking four times as long per unit? Why are we losing so many sales people to the competition? Why are we having a record number of customer complaints?”
Thoughtful nods surrounded Marvin. He had to nip this crap in the bud. If Connie Boy didn’t get the job, Marvin knew he wouldn’t get his promised kickback or the 13-year old virgin he’d been promised. “Look, we can delve into the details in a minute or two and you can ask all the questions you want. But I just want to go over the high points first. So, let’s review more about his actual results before … “
Now, James interrupted. “Speaking of results, doesn’t it bother you that we’ve lost almost our entire Midwestern sales force? And no wonder! Connie Boy has repeatedly dissed them. He does it with his morning ‘Pep Talks.’ He does it on social media. And, there are reports that he goes out golfing almost every afternoon with the CEO’s of some of our major competitors. Doesn’t that strike you as strange?”
Marvin chewed his lips as though he were taking the objection seriously and opened his mouth to counter this new avenue of attack against the guy who would make him rich.
Too late, thought Marvin. Damn!
Luke, who rarely spoke, had launched into a new tirade. “I hate to be the one to say this, but we cannot ignore the fact that he’s clearly skimming off the top. The books are cooked, folks. This guy said he was independently wealthy so we didn’t even have to pay him a salary. I know we thought at the time we’d save some money for the shareholders, but actually he’s stolen far more than his salary and he uses the company cars and jet, not only for his own pleasure trips but for his family’s trips as well.”
Before Marvin could formulate a counter-argument, John piled on. “And, then there are his strange hiring decisions. He fired the Director of Engineering and replaced him with his caddy. He doesn’t know anything about engineering. And, he fired the VP of Logistics, who was highly respected in the field, with his son-in-law who doesn’t know diddly about logistics. In fact…have you met him? I’m not sure he knows much about anything. Anyway, he certainly doesn’t know logistics.”
Marvin jumped in by pounding on the table, “IF YOU PLEASE, Gentleman, I would like to finish my — look, I’m not advocating for Connie Boy, but I mean, he has been in the job and — yes, he has some foibles, but … “
“Foibles?” Questioned Timothy. “Foibles? From what I heard, his disdain of safety regulations is precisely why not one, not two, but three factories burned to the ground.”
Marvin scowled. “Those were accidents and you know it! Bad luck! No-one could have predicted that using smaller gauge wires than recommended would cause fires.”
Peter sighed heavily, “Of course it’s predictable! It’s simple physics.”
Marvin felt the blood in his temples pound. His heart began to race. The vision of the beautiful young virgin clouded up. “It’s not science! He says he knows more about science than scientists do! I believe him! I don’t know what’s wrong with you people! He was trying to save us money by buying thinner wires. Isn’t saving money a good thing?”
Marvin stood up and banged the gavel. “As Chairman of the Board, I am in charge here! And, we will have plenty of time to discuss the pros and cons later. I just wanted to review the record before his scheduled interview. It’s time for the candidate. Let’s table the discussion until we hear from him directly. I’m pretty sure you’ll be more amenable to his candidacy once you hear his plans for improving the entire domestic operation.”
He pressed the button near the gavel. Within seconds, the skirt returned. She smiled prettily and said, “Yes, Mr, Mitchell? What can I do for you?”
“Sally, bring in Connie Boy, would you?”
Susan reddened slightly. She thought to herself, I’ve worked here for four years and he still doesn’t know my name. “I’m sorry, Sir. He’s not here.”
Marvin clenched his teeth tightly. “Not here?! What the f+$# is wrong with you, Shirley? I’ve got the whole damned Board here! I distinctly told you to have him here at 9 am sharp!”
“You certainly did, Mr. Mitchell. And, he agreed to come. He confirmed when I called again yesterday. And, he texted me an hour ago that he would be here on time.”
Marvin knew that his face was turning purple but he didn’t care. “Well get him here now or I will fire your sorry ass!”
Susan reddened still more. “Am I the FBI? How am I supposed to find him. I’m not his … keeper.”
Timothy chuckled slightly. “Come on, Marvin, how is she supposed to make him appear?”
Marvin turned to Timothy. “How should I know? That’s her job! That’s your job, Sally! Or, was. You’re fired! Send in Betty! I’m promoting her. Clear out your desk.”
Susan took several deep breaths to calm herself. “There is no-one in the office named ‘Betty.’ Do you mean Barbara?”
Marvin knew he was skating on thin ice now, but he was past caring, “Send in the one with the biggest tits!”
“Certainly, Sir. That would be me.” She stared insolently at Marvin.
Marvin reddened, his blood pressure skyrocketing dangerously. “Fine. Get hold of him.”
Just then, Timothy felt his cellphone vibrate and he glanced at the face. He read it and held it up as he said, “It’s Connie. He wants to call in. Says his foursome got stuck behind a foursome of … well … of women — though that’s not the word he used. He’s going to call in on my phone. He didn’t have your number, Marvin.”
Marvin said, “Thanks. Put it on speaker.” Marvin made a sweeping gesture toward Susan as though he were brushing a fly off the desk. “Shoo. Shoo.”
The minutes went by in silence. Finally, the voice of Connie Boy came on. “Hey, guys! I hear you wanted to ask me some questions. I know it’s just a formality. But here I am. Ask away.”
Marvin tried to sound cheerful. “So, Timothy says you were stuck behind a group of … of … women and that’s why you’re late.”
Connie Boy yelled, “What? No, no. He misunderstood. We were stuck behind a foursome of pussies but I’m not late. It’s only 9:45 am.”
Marvin looked at the clock on the wall. It said 10:30. He glanced at his watch. 10:30. He checked his cell. 10:30. “Fine. Connie, can you please tell us about your plans for how you will improve our domestic operations if we make you President of that division.”
Connie thought in silence for a moment and then said, “But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.”
Marvin put his face in his hands. He didn’t want to see the reaction on the faces of the Board.
Marvin chewed his lower lip. Maybe Connie Boy was just nervous. “OK, Connie. That’s good. Say more. How would you improve things?”
“Well, I hear there’s another candidate, and he’s a communist. And, he will literally burn down your factories. Look at the news! Turn on the news! There’s a picture of a factory burning! That’s what will happen if you choose him! He’ll burn down our factories. Turn on Fox News right now.”
Marvin, grabbed the remote and clicked on the TV. Sure enough, there was a picture of a factory fire.
Thomas walked over to the TV and pointed at the caption. It said: ‘Kenosha.’ “Connie, isn’t that our factory in Kenosha? That’s one of the one’s you’re in charge of, right?”
“Yes! Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! It’s horrible! It’s terrible! If you choose that commie, he’ll burn down factories like this!”
Thomas looked long and hard at Marvin.
Connie continued, “Look, guys, I gotta go soon. Any other questions?”
Paul asked, “Connie, can you just say a little more about what you actually plan to do to improve domestic operations?”
Connie Boy launched into another answer. “Well, I took over this job as a rookie. You know. I was famous. I should have won three, four, maybe five Emmy’s for my show, but whatever. Politics. You know. But I was not familiar. Not experienced with running factories. One of the things that will be really great — you know the word ‘experience’ is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word ‘experience’ is a very important word. I never did a factory before. I only was in the Midwest maybe I think 17 times. All of a sudden, I’m in charge of factories in the Midwest. I go to Chicago and ride down the Miracle Mile and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I don’t know anyone in the Midwest. No-one. But now I know everyone. Plus, I am a stable genius. So there’s that. Did I tell you I had a cognitive test? Yes, the doctors were like, ‘Oh, My God, this guy is a genius. He remembered the words.’ You know. Words. Like they tell me, ‘remember these words: Putin, Mango, Slut, Camera, Porn.’ Then they ask me the words and I say, ‘Putin, Mango, Slut, Camera, Porn Film.’ Okay. But then, like a few minutes later, they say, ‘Hey, you know those words. Tell us them again. So, I’m like, ‘Okay, Putin, Mango, Slut, Camera, Porn Star.’ And the doctors are like flubbergasted, falbergasted, whatever…amazed…they say, no-one in the history of the world has been able to remember five words like that. I got all of them. It was — I should win a Nobel Piece Prize — no-one else is such a stable genius. So that’s my plan. You know. And don’t pick the commie. Because he will set your factories on fire. Gotta go.”
Paul spoke up. “Before you go, why are we having such an unusually high number of employee complaints?”
Connie Boy said quickly, “Oh, that’s fake news. Nobody and I mean nobody has done more for our workers than I have! Nobody. Look it up. Everyone knows it. I’m the best friend any of those employees ever had. But now, I really have important stuff to get to. Bye.”
The line went dead. Marvin drew in a long breath. He felt like hiding under the table, but instead, he put on his most steely look and decided he may as well brazen it out. “Well, there you go. I say we vote him in. We don’t really need to waste time listening to the other candidate. You heard Connie. The other guy is a commie! We don’t need a commie running our factories.”
Marvin pushed the button and a dark-haired woman came in. “Where’s … who are you?”
“I’m Barbara. I’m Susan’s replacement. How can I help you?”
“What happened to Sally?”
“There is no-one here named ‘Sally’ — Susan — who was your secretary for four years — you fired her and I’m her replacement, Barbara.”
“You’re not … well, get Sally back! Anyway, never mind. Doesn’t matter. Cancel the other candidate. We’ve heard enough. Connie is our man. Right guys?”
Marvin kept his eyes glued on the gavel ready to shout anyone down who disagreed with him. “All in favor of appointing Connie Boy as President of domestic operations, signify by raising your right hand the ayes have it. Next order of business is….”
Peter spoke in a calm quiet voice. “Marvin. None of us voted for Connie the Con Man. Actually, you didn’t even raise your own hand. No-one thinks he’s competent to do the job. No-one.”
Marvin bit his lip so hard it nearly bled. “But. But. Sure, no-one’s perfect, but he was a TV Star! You heard him! He should have won Emmy’s!” Damn. I’m going to miss my chance on that virgin! thought Marvin. “Come on, guys! We’ve never had a porn star run one of factories before. He turned out pretty good though, right?”
Peter frowned, “Did you say ‘Porn Star’?
Marvin shook his head, “No, no. I said TV star. I didn’t say ‘Porn Star.’ Don’t be ridiculous.”
I have no idea how I came into possession of the audio file upon which this transcript was based. It just appeared as an attachment in my inbox on June 24th. The transcription has take some time and is very likely riddled with errors. I have no idea who the speakers are. Maybe someone else can figure it out?
Russian Accented Male (RAM for short): “Come on now, don’t be such a wuss. We talked about this. Do you want to be dictator or not?”
Egomaniac Without Empathy (EWE, for short): “But … what if the protestors get me? What if the police accidentally shoot me? What if….”
RAM: “Hush. Did you think becoming dictator would be easy? Have you learned nothing? You have to show some bravery.”
EWE: “Well, that’s easy for you to say. You’re strong and fit. And don’t have heel spurs.”
RAM: “You don’t have heel spurs either. Did you forget? Look, it’s fine to lie over and over again to the people. Eventually, they will believe you, no matter how absurd what you say is. No matter how easy it is to see it’s a lie. But you need to keep track of your lies. Write them down.”
EWE: “What if somebody finds my list of lies?”
RAM: (sighs). “It doesn’t matter! I told you before. You just keep spouting lies and if someone finds your list of lies, just call that person an Enemy of the State and part of the Deep State and the Fake News. Of course, it would be helpful if you don’t actually label it: ‘List of Lies’; instead, label it: ‘Important Truths.’”
EWE: “OK. But what if I get COVID?”
RAM: “Don’t worry about it. You won’t get COVID so long as you do what I say and take your shots regularly. Speaking of COVID, how are you coming with — as you say — opening up the economy?” (sniggers).
EWE: “Pretty good. Except for the Democratic governors and even some of the Republican governors who seem. They seem. They are more interested in the health of their citizens than pleasing me! Fools!”
RAM: “Again, Donnie Boy, it’s just temporary. They’ll be gone soon and you’ll be in charge. Would you like that? Absolute power? Like me?”
EWE: “Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!”
RAM: “Good boy. Now, let’s practice. What is your platform?”
EWE: “What’s my platform? What’s a platform?”
RAM: “What you promise to do if you’re elected.”
EWE: “I don’t — Oh! Oh! I remember! I just tell them to go f*** themselves and that I’ll do whatever the f*** I want!”
RAM: “That’s right, Donnie. But you can’t use those exact words. I gave you the platform. It’s right there in the top left drawer. Read it to me.”
EWE: (shuffling sounds). “It’s…I can’t find it. What does it say? How can I find it?”
RAM: (sighs). “Look in the red folder with the big white letters that say, “PLATFORM.”
EWE: “Hmm. OH! Here it is! I found it! OK. I’ll read it! Here goes. But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done. Is that right? Did I get it right?”
RAM: “Yes, Donnie. Good boy.”
EWE: “When can I be dictator? I can’t wait any longer.”
RAM: “Donnie? What are you doing right now?”
EWE: “Me? I’m sitting here behind my desk talking with you on the secure line like you said. Why?”
RAM: “Donnie. What are you supposed to be doing whenever you talk to me?”
EWE: “Supposed to be doing? I don’t know. What?”
RAM: “Donnie. Think about it. When you talk to me, where are you supposed to be?”
EWE: “Um. I don’t know. Oh, wait. I know. On my knees. But that’s too hard. I may not be able to get back up on my own. And, if I need to call someone to help me back up, what will they think?”
RAM: (Sighs loudly). “Donnie, do I have to figure everything out? Just tell them you had another porn star that you were — better yet, tell them it’s none of their business. Or, best of all, tell them you’re praying. (Laughs). I forget how gullible some of those folks are. You’ve never shown the slightest interest in religion and now they think you’re a Christian. And speaking of praying and all that nonsense, get down there on your knees like a good boy.”
EWE: (Grunts, pants, grunts): “Okay. I’m down.”
RAM: “Good. Good boy, Donnie. Good boy. If I were there, I would pat your head. Softly. Not hard enough to knock off your rag. You almost ready to do the vaccine deal we talked about?”
EWE: “Yes, Sir.”
RAM: “Great. I hear you’re going to go out to Kenosha and stir up more trouble. Good for you.”
EWE: “Yes, Sir. But what if I get hurt?”
RAM: “Donnie, I told you before. You can’t just attack dead heroes all the time. You’re going to have to face some crowds some time. You’re surrounded by Secret Service. Now, you go out there and you cause some trouble. Bad trouble. Then, you send in the unmarked storm troopers to kill some peaceful protestors. That will cause more protests, of course. And so on. Got it?”
EWE: “Yes, Sir. It’s like … ice skating. Or flags.”
RAM: “Never mind, Donnie. You’re a good boy. It’s not your fault you’re damaged. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about closer ties between our two great nations, and I think it would be helpful for Sechin to have an office right there in the White House. I’m thinking the Cabinet Room. We’ll have him there for a while at least.”
EWE: “Yes, Sir. By the way, you know some people are saying that once I’m dictator, you might poison me and put in your own person.”
RAM: “Donnie, Donnie, Donnie. Why would I do that? No. Not so long as you do what you’re told.”
EWE: “I know. I know, Sir. But they say, no-one trusts a traitor. They say —- “
RAM: “Who says that, Donnie? They are just trying to drive a wedge between us. Don’t let them do that. I haven’t poisoned anyone for … I don’t know. Awhile.”
EWE: “A week?”
RAM: “Yeah, something like that. Don’t pay any attention. We are close. Like father and son. Or master and slave. No more nonsense. Speaking of getting close, Sechin will require a concubine or two. Arrange that.”
EWE: “Yes, Sir. Hey! How about Ivana!”
RAM: “Your first wife? Way, way too old.”
EWE: “No, not — did I say Ivana? Sorry, Sir. I meant Ivanka. It’s easy to confuse — you know daughter, wife, sister.”
RAM: “Still way too old. He’s kind of like you, Donnie. You know. Thirteen or fourteen would be perfect.”
EWE: “OK. We have a bunch in storage near Mexing or Canid. I’m not sure. I’m kind of falling asleep. In fact, I need more added or all. Add in all. I need … can I please get up now? My knees hurt. I need Advertall.”
RAM: “Are you trying to say ‘Adderall’ Donnie?”
EWE: “That’s it! Adding all. Ladder all. Person. Man. Woman. Camera. TV. Porn movie. See! I still remember! Did I tell you that I amazed the doctors with how memory I am?”
RAM: “Hey, Donnie Boy. I have to go soon. One more thing before I hang up. Did you get those codes I told you about?”
EWE: “My Chief of Missiles told me I don’t need the codes myself. He’ll just target and launch at our command.”
RAM: “Fire him and put in someone else who will do whatever they are told. You need someone like Pom-Pom-Pee-Oh or Bilious Barr or Louis NoJoy. Someone who knows what it means to be a puppet. Like you. Only they will be your puppet.”
EWE: “Some people say you might threaten nuclear annihilation yourself. Without my help. You wouldn’t do that would you?”
RAM: “Donnie, don’t listen to that crap. Of course not. We’ll make the announcement together. Like partners. Like the partners we are. Equals.”
EWE: “Do I get to push the button though? I mean, can I just blow up one major city to show we mean business?”
RAM: “Sure, Donnie. Which one would you like to blow up? London? Paris? Berlin? Or, maybe one of your own? I think that would be best to show you’re really committed to this partnership.”
EWE: “Yeah! One of my own! That’s a great idea! Somewhere where there are lots of liberals! Or, blacks! Or both! How about the Washington Post! Or the Democrat side of Congress? Those would be good targets! I’ll be right here to watch out the window!”
RAM: (Long pause). “Donnie, are you sure you understand how hydrogen bombs work? You can’t watch it from the White House lawn.”
EWE: “Can to! Can to! It’s no fun if I can’t see it!”
RAM: “Donnie. Don’t be a baby. You’d better let my people handle the targeting. That’s why it’s important to get those codes.”
EWE: “Well, they said they couldn’t — they weren’t allowed to give them to me.”
RAM: “Fire them! And put in someone who will carry out any ridiculous or cruel order you give. Do you even understand what it means to be dictator? Geez, Donnie you’ve done it throughout government and yet you keep forgetting to do it where it matters most. Now, look, I’ve got — I’m going to hang up now.”
EWE: “No! Don’t go! Don’t go! Let’s talk! Tell me again about the rabbits, Vlad! Vlad? Vlad? Are you there?”