No Juthtith, No Peathe

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, waiting on a checkup. Avery LIBRELLE enters the room, holding a throbbing tooth.  BERG tries to hunch down behind his magazine – but LIBRELLE notices him).

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  (Speaks with difficulty through pain) Thereth  an epidemic of rape on American univerthity camputheth.

BERG:  Wow.  Your mouth sounds painful. 

LIBRELLE: You’re dodthing the queththion!

BERG:  Well, no, I…OK, so how do we know about this “epidemic”?

LIBRELLE:  Becauthe American univerthitieth thay tho. 

BERG:  (Wincing in pain as LIBRELLE thpeakth) So in other words, university administrations, carrying out their own home-grown investigations, driven by a feminist lobby that actively disparages the idea of due process for those accused of rape, and with a vested interest in resolving all ambiguous cases – say, cases where everyone involved was blind drunk and there were no witnesses, or even the occasional malicious accusation – as rape, say there’s an epidemic. 

LIBRELLE: Yeth.

BERG: So you think data coming from university administrations – who act in these cases primarily as political rather than criminal-justice bodies – are the appropriate people to investigate allegations of felonious assaults which our society justifiably regards as second only to murder in moral gravity?

LIBRELLE: Of courthe.  Who elthe knowth more about thtudentth than the univerthity thythtem?

BERG:  OK.  So in the same vein – who knows more about priests than their various dioceses, arch-dioceses and the Vatican?  When priests were being accused of sexually abusing children, by your logic, the church was right to try to deal with it by itself.

LIBRELLE:  OF courthe not. 

BERG:  How so?

LIBRELLE:  Of courthe not. 

BERG: No, I mean why do you think not?

LIBRELLE:  And I anthwered you.  Of courthe not. 

BERG:  That’s no answer.

LIBRELLE:  Yeth it wath.

(ASSISTANT calls BERG’s appointment; LIBRELLE attempts to get up and leave the room ahead of BERG)

BERG:  Um, hello?

LIBRELLE:  Get an exthternal invethtigation, thucker.

(And SCENE)

Reform

SCENE:  Avery LIBRELLE is waiting at the light rail station on University Avenue. 

Seeing Mitch Berg driving past, LIBRELLE leaps and, incredibly, sails through BERG’s passenger side window and lands sitting upright in BERG’s passenger seat.

BERG:  What the…

LIBRELLE:  Hahahahahahahahaha, Merg!    You and your conservative teabagger friends “won” the South!  Now, you can keep it?

BERG:  Um, right.  Mary Landrieu lost, leaving not a single Democratic Senator, Governor or Democrat-controlled Legislative chamber in the entire old Confederacy. 

LIBRELLE:  Yeah!  You got all the racists!    The journey you started in 1968, when you inherited all the racists with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, is complete!  You guys got the KKK vote!

BERG:  You’re still babbling about the so-called “Southern Strategy?”

LIBRELLE:  Yes!  The racists, upset about the Civil Rights Act, all voted GOP!

BERG:  OK – let’s accept for a moment purely for sake of argument that the South is more “racist” than the rest of the country – which is deeply debatable, but again, it’s for argument’s sake – and that people vote first and foremost over racial issues. 

LIBRELLE:  Yep.  Absolutely!

BERG:  OK.  So the South voted for Nixon – but then, so did Vermont and California and, in 1972, Michigan, New York State, and even ultraliberal Minnesota.  So they’re all racists, too, right?

LIBRELLE:  The South were voting their consciences, though!

BERG:  Were they indeed?

LIBRELLE:  Even though these rhetorical questions of your always end up with me falling into a trap that makes me look stupid and uninformed, I’ll say “hell yeah!”

BERG:  OK – so the Democrats controlled every single southern Congressional delegation until 1994.  And the GOP didn’t win a majority of southern Governor’s offices, to say nothing of state legislatures, until well into the 2000s. 

By the way – the Klan hasn’t been a factor in Southern Politics since the sixties, maybe the seventies at the very latest.  So it would be more realistic to say that Republicans oversaw the extinction of mainstream racism in the Deep South. 

(BERG’s car pulls up to stoplight.  LIBRELLE steps out, walks between traffic to nearest train station).

BERG:  Avery?  Avery?

Fear Of A Dumb Planet

SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking through the woods in Como Park, looking for a place to practice the bagpipes.

Suddenly, Avery LIBRELLE jumps out from behind a tree. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  Your sides has been owned again!

BERG:  Er, Avery?  What are you doing in the middle of the woods?

LIBRELLE: Stakeout for climate criminals.  So anyway, we were talking about how your side has been owned again.

BERG:  ”We” weren’t.  You were. 

LIBRELLE:  Hahaha.  And it comes from Canada.  Here.  Read it. 

20141112-102136-37296823.jpg

LIBRELLE: So yet again, a Canadian proves he knows what’s best for us better than the American electorate does. 

BERG:  Well, no.  He’s shown he’s absorbed Deb Wasserman-Drescher’s chanting points like a Macalester College poli-sci grad.  Pretty much every point Richard Brunt of Victoria British Columbia says is wrong. 

LIBRELLE:  No way!

BERG:  Way.  Corporate profits are high because companies are sitting on cash, rather than investing.  The “under 6%” unemployment number is a sham; the percentage of people in the workforce who are working is essentially unchanged since the lowest point in the depression.  The GDP growth rate Mr. Brunt is bragging about is the slowest of any recovery in the post-war era. This is especially noteworthy because, normally, steep sharp recessions have steep, sharp recoveries (see 1982). This one was a steep recession with a painfully-slow recovery. How painful? The current GDP growth is equal to the WORST quarter of growth in the recovery from the 1982 recession.

Gasoline prices are “falling” to about $1 more than they were when Obama took office. Worse than that when you adjust for inflation. 

LIBRELLE:  Hah, Merg!  There is no inflation!

BERG:  Does you or Mr. Brunt ever buy bread, beef, chicken, eggs or health insurance?  …? CPI shows low inflation, but that’s largely a function of the price of debt – which is being kept artificially low:

Oh, yeah – and oil imports are declining partly due to the slow economy, and partly due to drilling in the Dakotas, which is basically happening over Obama’s, let’s just say, passive-aggressive objection.

As to the “respected around the world” bit? That’s just delusional.

LIBRELLE:  That’s just like a typical Repblicon.  A message based on fear!

BERG:  Fear?

LIBRELLE:  Yeah.  Fear of black people!

BERG:  How did fear or black people enter the conversation?

LIBRELLE:  You’re afraid, aren’t you?  Boo!  There’s a black guy sneaking up on you!

(BERG turns, inflates the bag on his pipes, and starts playing random noises to drown LIBRELLE out as he walks back to his car).

A Parable

(SCENE:  A small aircraft is flying over the prairie.  Inside the plane are:

  • Carpal POX:  a golf pro from Wayzata, and Vice Chair for Ideological Purity at the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Viktor VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE: a professional fraternity organizer, and Vice Chair for Education at the 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Stephanie Marie ANNAN: Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.
  • Mitch BERG:  Guy, travelling space-available
  • Buck SAVAGE: The pilot. 

Suddenly, the right engine bursts into flames.  The plane begins to vibrate and starts to swerve to the right)

SAVAGE:  Crap!  Everybody grab a parachute!  We’ve gotta bail out!

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Oh, dude! Is this like one of those jokes, where the Pope, Hitler and Kim Kardashian are in a plane and there’s only two parachutes? 

SAVAGE:  No, there’s five.  Hurry up and put one on…

ANNAN:  …or what?  The (makes scare quotes in the air) “plane” will “crash” and “kill” us “all”?  How do we know this? 

BERG:  Um, yeah – I’ll take a ‘chute.  Thanks. 

POX:  Wait – I think there’s a third option.  Or maybe several third options. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  That means like third through maybe millionth options, you douche!

POX:  Let’s think about this.  Who’s to say there’s any absolutes, here? 

BERG:  (Frantically donning parachute) I’d say “the plane is crashing” is pretty absolute.

ANNAN:  That’s assuming the parachutes work.  I’ve read that they don’t always work.  Sometimes they actually cause accidents. 

SAVAGE:  Look, ma’am, pretty soon the fire in the engine is going to melt the wing spar, and the wing is going to fall off and the plane will go into an uncontrollable spin, and the centrifugal force will pin you to the wall of the plane so hard you won’t be able to move. 

ANNAN:  Oh, don’t even get me started on the melting point of steel. 

BERG:  The wing spar is aluminum, isn’t it, Mr. Savage? 

SAVAGE:  Yeah…

POX:  Look, the point is that this is a fine time to brainstorm for more, better options than the ones our authority figure – no disrespect intended…

SAVAGE:  (Handle on the hatch handle) None taken.

POX:  …tells us.  Because the biggest problem with the human mind is that we allow authority figures to shackle our imagines, and the bounds of logic to dictate the parameters of the possible.  What other options are there besides “flaming death” and “parachute?”

BERG:  “Dying while engaging in navel-gazing magical thinking?”

POX:  Not quite in the spirit intended, but there are no bad ideas here…

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Dude, I reject the premise that there’s any difference between the two.  Choosing one or the other merely perpetuates a binary system.  I’m not going to pick either one. 

SAVAGE:  Well, yeah – you will pick one.  Or more to the point, it’ll pick you. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Don’t tase me, bro. 

POX:  Benghazi!  Benghazi!

(ANNAN and VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE giggle)

ANNAN:  I’m done talking with people who think in terms of “life” or “death” as absolutes. 

BERG:  Well, that’s a perfectly fine metaphysical and theological point, but crashing in the plane sort of moots the discussion. 

ANNAN:  That does it.  I’m shunning you. 

POX:  OK.  Fourth option; we concentrate real hard and levitate the plane?  Again, no bad ideas, here.  Any more? 

BERG:  So I pull this ring here? 

SAVAGE:  After we’re out of the plane. 

POX:  Some people just can’t be cured. 

ANNAN:  There is no difference between the disease and the cure. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  I’m totally posting this to Facebook. 

(BERG and SAVAGE jump, count to three, and pull the rip cords, as the plane, engine ablaze, sails into the distance). 

ANNAN (in the distance):  Bunch of ‘chutists.

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE and POX:  ‘Chutists!  ‘Chutists! 

(And SCENE)

Unicorns Vote 100% Third Party!

SCENE:   Mitch BERG is biking in the southwest suburbs.  He pulls over into a coffee shop.

As he sits down, he notices Stephanie Marie ANNAN, Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.   She is wearing capri pants and a t-shirt with “He Gave His Only Begotten Son”, and a picture of Ron Paul walking across the water toward the camera.

ANNAN:  Hey, Mitch.

BERG:  Hey, Stephanie Marie.  Ready for the election.

ANNAN:  Yep.  I’m voting Libertarian. 

BERG:  Kinda figured.  So – why? 

ANNAN:  Because big changes need to happen.

BERG:  Yeah, that’s true.  That’s why I’m voting for Jeff Johnson as many times as Mark Richie will let me get away with it. 

ANNAN:  He won’t bring any changes.  The GOP is just as big a part of the problem as the DFL is. 

BERG:  Er…why do you say that?

ANNAN:  When people put the GOP in power, they were just as bad as the Democrats.  There is no difference between the parties. 

BERG:  Yeah, the GOP can be frustrating.  Although you’re oversimplifying.  Bobby Jindal has made a huge difference in Louisiana; under his leadership, the New Orleans Public Schools went all charter.  Other GOP governors – Pence, Haley, Walker, Martinez – have made inroads in reducing the size and power of government.  The GOP – and GOP candidates – have made a difference at limiting government and its impact over the years.   Reagan’s tax cuts were a huge help…

ANNAN:  Reagan grew the deficit!  He raised taxes!

BERG:   Bingo.  You’re making my point for me.  Reagan, being a Republican president dealing with a Democrat Congress run by a big-government ward heeler like Tip O’Neill, had to make compromises.  One of those compromises was that he had to trust O’Neill to keep up his end of the bargain on cutting spending – which, of course, he didn’t.  And for all of that, his “tax hikes” were a fraction of his tax cuts, and they happened at a time when the economy was humming along.  If you don’t think Reagan’s tax cuts in the early eighties helped immensely with the recession, you’re dreaming. 

Anyway – the GOP in 1994 made a huge difference in paring back Bill Clinton’s megalomania.  Remember “Hillary Care?”  Either does anyone else.  And the Tea Party class of the GOP, the people elected in 2010, have largely kept their promises. 

ANNAN:  But the Minnesota GOP had the governor’s office from 2002 to 2010, and the House until 2008, and both chambers in 2011 and 2011, and nothing changed. 

BERG:  Plenty changed.  “Republican” used to mean Arne Carlson.  It used to mean “go along with the DFL in turning surpluses into more permanent spending”. 

ANNAN:  The GOP raised the budget in 2011, and built the stadium. 

BERG:  Yep.  And both were wrong.  And in neither case did the Tea Party class of 2010 go along, at least without a fight. 

ANNAN:  Bla bla bla.  The GOP always compromises.

BERG:  Parts of the GOP – the older, “Moderate” wing of the party, especially, which still exerts way too much control over the party at the Capitol – certainly does.  Parties don’t change overnight.   The GOP still caves in on way too much.  It’s improving, as conservatives slowly replace moderates. 

And let’s be honest; Minnesota is a blueish purple state at best.   Minnesota is split between various shades of red and hard, deep blue.   When a conservative goes to Saint Paul, and wants to get anything done, compromise is inevitable.  There is no way anyone who gets elected to office as a conservative in Minnesota doesn’t have to defile the purity of their principles at some point or another. 

ANNAN: Yeah, well, I’m sick of voting for the lesser of two evils all the time.  I’m going to vote my absolute, pure principles and vote Libertarian. 

BERG:   And that way, you’ll promote liberty.

ANNAN:  Yep.  

BERG:  So let me get this straight; you won’t vote for Republicans because previous generations of Republicans have had to compromise the purity of their principles when they actually got into a room with the other side and had to actually try to get things done, to say nothing of having to stop the other side from getting worse things, like daycare unionization and gun control, done. 

ANNAN:   Yep. 

BERG:  And you’ll vote for someone who’s never had to test the purity of his precious principles by trying to enact any kind of policy at all, much less over the votes of a legislature that is at least 50% completely hostile to everything your candidate says. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I could see myself supporting Rand Paul for President.   

ANNAN:  Ew.  He’s abandoned his principles.  Not like Doctor Paul.

BERG:  You’re proving my point.  “Doctor” Paul never got elected to anything outside of a House district in Texas.  And for all his big talk about policy – auditing the fed, disengaging abroad, yadda yadda – he admits, albeit quietly, that he never could have done it.  He had no support in Congress. 

ANNAN:  Why do you hate liberty?

BERG:  Actually, I clearly respect liberty more than you do. 

ANNAN:  Hah!  How can you say that? 

BERG:  Because the only way you’re going to get your agenda passed is to elect a libertarian monarch who takes office, sweeps away a century of noxious policy by decree, and then steps down.  Hopefully.  And that’s fine, if “magical thinking” is good enough for you.   But that’s really all voting for a third party gets you.  A third party vote is a wasted vote.

ANNAN:  It wasn’t with Jesse Ventura!  He had principles and he stuck with them!

BERG:  No, he didn’t.  He ran on a promise of returning the entire plus to the people. And once he got elected, he had to deal with the fact that was a governor with no caucus in the legislature – two Democrats flipped over to the Independence Party over the next year, and that was it. So we had to run with his hat in hand to Roger Moe, the DFLSenate majority leader, and cut deals like a madman. Meaning that about a third of the surplus got paid back. And the rest of it got turned into permanent spending, the way the DFL wanted.

So where was the principal?

ANNAN:  He sent a message!

BERG: Yep. And that message was “voting for a third-party candidate is of nothing but symbolic value”.

ANNAN:  (Plugs ears, turns, starts running).  Bla bla blaaaaa can’t year youuuuuuu bla bla bla bla bla).

[And SCENE]

Hunky Dory

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is driving down the road, when he notices Avery LIBRELLE by the side of the road.  LIBRELLE is standing by the trunk of a Chevy Volt; on the trunk is perched a miniature windmill, attached by cables to a terminal under the Volt’s open hood.   LIBRELLE is blowing on the windmill. 

BERG sighs, pulls over.  He gets out of the car, notes that there is no wind – it’s a flat calm – and walks up to LIBRELLE.

BERG:  Hey, what’s…

LIBRELLE:  Hah, Merg!  The economy is doing fantastic!  You were wrong!

BERG:  Um, what now? 

LIBRELLE:  Unemployment is under 6%

BERG:  That’s that’s because so many people have left the workforce, as we see on this chart here…:

 

…which is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Labor Force Participation Rate, representing the percentage of the labor force – able-bodied people between 16 and 70 – that are actually working.  As you can see, since Obama’s election, that number has plummeted from the mid-sixties to under 63%.  .

And six percent of them are unemployed, which means that the actual share of the population that’s working is more like this:

That’s the labor force participation rate minus the unemployed.  Now, if there were an economic recovery going on, that number would be ticking back up. 

LIBRELLE:  Hah, Hah, Hah, Merg!  You’ve been watching too much Faux News!   (Goes back to blowing on the windmill, spinning the blades madly)

BERG: That’s pronounced “foh”, not “fowks”.

LIBRELLE:  Standard pronunciation is a microaggression of the patriarchy!  Anyway – you lie.  The labor force participation rate is dropping because Baby Boomers are retiring!  Hah!

BERG:  That’s a great theory – because statistics show that older people are working less, and that hours and productivity are ticking up among people in their prime working years.

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  Got that right! (LIBRELLE blows on the windmill some more)

BERG:  Except that both of those statements are untrue.  Neither is actually the case. 

Older workers are the only group of workers who are actually increasing their share of the workforce:

And the “inactivity rate” of men between the ages of 25 and 54 – the prime income-earning years – is double what it was during the Reagan Administration…

…and a good third above what it was under Dubya.  And since the “end” of the recession, it’s just kept climbing. 

LIBRELLE:  So you admit you lied to me?

BERG:  Huh?

LIBRELLE: By saying that the stats said one thing, and then showing that they said another!

BERG:  Uh…right.

LIBRELLE:  (Resumes blowing on windmill)

BERG:  What are you doing?

LIBRELLE:  My car ran out of battery.  I’m trying to give it a sustainable jump start. 

BERG:  With a…

LIBRELLE:  With a Personal Wind Generator. 

BERG:   Er…where…

LIBRELLE:  I got it at Sharpened Image.  It was $499. 

BERG:  Don’t you mean “Sharper Image?” 

LIBRELLE:  No. Sharpened.  It’s from Nigeria. 

BERG:  Huh.  Have a great week.

LIBRELLE continues blowing on windmill as BERG walks to his car. 

And SCENE. 

This Is How Stupid They Think You Are

SCENE:  The Admiralty, London, May, 1940.  Winston CHURCHILL is poring over a map in the Admiralty’s operation’s center, looking over the deteriorating situation in France.  He is joined by Admiral Nigel FRIEDEN, head of the Royal Navy’s public health wing.

CHURCHILL:  It is clear that we are going to have to evacuate the British Army from France.  In addition to a maximum effort by the Royal Navy, we’ll need thousands of civilian boats to help get the troops off the beaches and evacuate them from the Nazis. 

FRIEDEN:  I’m afraid that’s a bad idea, sir.

CHURCHILL:  Why do you say that?

FRIEDEN:  If we evacuate the Army, it will just make the occupation worse in England.  Also, we’ll have to use the fleet to evacuate Germans from England, too, then.

CHURCHILL:  That makes no sense.

FRIEDEN:  I’m an expert. 

NEXT SCENE: The US Air Force base at Wiesbaden, West Germany, June, 1948.  General Lucius CLAY, commander of US Military Government in occupied West Germany, is looking at a map of the Eastern Zone.  Ominously, red Soviet stars sit astride the three road/rail routes supplying West Berlin; the Soviets have just instituted a blockade, trying to starve West Berlin into the Soviet sphere.  Clay looks pensive.  He is joined at the map table by Brigadier (one-star) General Maximilian FRIEDEN, head of his public health corps. 

CLAY:  Blockade, schmockade.  We will need to start the greatest airlift in history to keep Berlin supplied.  It will show Stalin that we’re serious about

FRIEDEN:  We can’t, General.

CLAY:  What the hell?

FRIEDEN:  If we bring food, medicine and coal to Berlin, it’ll just make the hunger, disease and cold worse.  Also, for every load of supplies we bring in, we’ll have to bring a plane-load of Soviet spies and commandos back. 

CLAY:  Whose army do you serve?

SCENE:  April 1975.  As the North Vietnamese Army overruns Saigon’s last line of defenses, US Marine Brigadier General Richard CAREY is discussing the upcoming evacuation of Americans and certain Vietnamese from Saigon.  Artillery is heard in the distance, as CAREY makes the final plans to remove the last Americans, and as many Vietnamese as possible, from the Embassy compound .  He is addressing a group of officers, including State Department public health attache T. Morton FRIEDEN.

CAREY:  And so we’ll bring in the helicopters from the aircraft carriers.  We’ll get the last of the Marines out by 1800 hours. 

FRIEDEN:  General, that’s a bad idea.  Evacuating Marines will only make them more subject to Communist rule.  And for every helicopter full of Marines you remove, you’ll need to bring one full of Vietnamese back from the ships. 

CAREY:  (Stands, slack-jawed).

———-

CDC director Thomas Frieden is telling us that wejust can’tstop all flights coming in from West Africa, because…:

It’ll Make the Epidemic Worse:  Because ancient tribal burial rituals, lack of information about handling infections, and superstitions about healthcare workers aren’t bad enough; dispersing the epidemic all around the world must be ten times better!

If we stop air travel, we won’t be able to bring supplies:  That’s only true if all flights from West Africa are on disposable aircraft, or are kamikaze flights.  Planes can fly in the other direction.  Hopefully to drop off supplies and trained well-equipped healthcare workers.  And return empty, until the crisis eases.

I imagine Mr. Frieden knows this.  But judging by the last round of elections, it’s a lot for a plurality of Amerians to understand…

UPDATE: You think I’m selling Dr. Friedman short? 

Read this – especially Dr. Frieden’s interview with Megyn Kelly

It only looks like one of my parodies.

Reasons To Raise The Minimum Wage

[SCENE:  John "FUZZY" Premisse, age 45, steps out behind a Burger King on a grimy industrial boulevard.  He is paunchy, his hairline a distant memory.  His face, doughy from decades of blue-collar food, is criss-crossed with stress lines.  In the background, the smokestacks of a high-tech incubator park belch smoke into the night sky, the glow of the open code hearth lending a faint glow to the background as he lights a cigarette.  ]

[FUZZY is joined by a much younger man.  It is  his son, Luke "STRETCH" Premisse.  Stretch, age 21, bums a cigarette off his father.  As he lights the cigarette, we see spatter burns on his forearms, accrued through hard years on the deep frier]

STRETCH:  [takes a puff] Busy night. 

FUZZY:  [Takes a long puff, holds it, lets it go slowly]  They’re all busy, in their own way.  [Stares into the distance

STRETCH:  Yeah.  Hey, Dad?  That guy who was talking with Erica the assistant manager?  Who was that?

FUZZY:  [Scowls, with an air of contempt] Pfffft.  Sheee-*t.  Buddy. 

STRETCH:  Buddy?

FUZZY:  Buddy Dayusexmachina. 

STRETCH:  Seems like a nice guy.

FUZZY:  [Spits with contempt]  Sh*t.  He’s a f****ng “earner”.

STRETCH:  “Earner?”

FUZZY:  Someone who earns more than minimum wage. 

STRETCH: Huh.  [Takes a puff on hiscigarette].      

FUZZY:  [also takes a puff].

STRETCH:  So – that’s a bad thing?

FUZZY:  [Looks at his son with an air of alarmed]  What?

STRETCH:  So he earns more than minimum wage.  That’s a bad thing?

FUZZY: [Alarm turns to comtempt].  What the hell?  Is that how I raised you? 

STRETCH:  [Takes a puff, flicks his cigarette, stands a little straighter]  What do you mean?

FUZZY:  We’re minimum wage earners.  My grandfather earned $.35 an hour at a burger joint in the forties.  My father before me?  He started at a buck and a quarter at this same Burger King, back in 1965.  Nineteen Sixty Five!  And he worked away, stayed at that minimum wage, til the day he died at the drive-thru.  I started here in 1983 – I made $3.35 an hour.  Flippin’ burgers, just like you do today!  You probably don’t even remember back in 1997, when Bill Clinton raised the minimum from $4.25 to $5.15.  You were just a baby.  But it was one of the proudest days of my life!

STRETCH:  But…why?

FUZZY:  [Steps aggressively toward his son]  Because the minimum wage got raised!

STRETCH:  Yeah, but…so?

FUZZY:  It’s how our life gets better.  When the minimum wage goes up, we get more money.  How f****ng hard is it? 

STRETCH:  Right.  I get that.  We’re the Premisses; the best burger flippers, frier operators and shake-pourers in the Valley. 

FUZZY:  Damn straight.  [Takes another puff]

STRETCH:  OK…well…Mister Dayusexmachina says that if I learn to run the scheduling system and how to count tills, I could move up to assistant manager.  That’d jack my pay up to $12.50…

FUZZY:  [Drops cigarette in shock, turns on son in muted menace]  What did you just say? 

STRETCH:  They said I could move up…

FUZZY:  [walks closer to son, rage building]  I hear what you said.  You wanna “move up”.  Is that how I raised you?   

STRETCH:  Er…what do you mean?

FUZZY:  We earn minimum wage.  You do.  I do.  My daddy did.  So did his daddy.  That’s what we do.  We’re the Premisses!

STRETCH: But – this would be more than minimum wage…

FUZZY:  [looks son in the eye] Mark Dayton just raised the minimum wage.  We all just got raises. 

STRETCH:  Yeah, but this is even more?

FUZZY:  What are you?  Getting all “too good for minimum wage?”  Going out and “learning new skills” to “get pay raises” and “move ahead in life” without waiting for the Feds to raise it for you? 

STRETCH:  Well…

FUZZY:  You think you’re too good for the minimum wage life?  The life that was good enough for your father, and his father, and his father? 

STRETCH:  It has nothing to do with being “too good”.  It’s just that I know how to use the computer, and that other assistant manager Shaylene got fired for dealing pot out of the bathroom, and…

FUZZY: You look at me, son.  Look at me!  Other people may “learn skills” and “move up”.  And some of them “screw up” and “move down”.   But we Premisses?  We are always here.  Reliable.  We do the jobs nobody else wants to.  And we’re the best at them. 

[Javier AMARILLO, President of the local SEIU chapter, steps into the frame and addresses the camera]

AMARILLO:  What we’ve seen here is why America needs to raise the minimum wage.  Because all across this great but racist and deeply flawed nation, hundreds of millions of hard-working Americans have chosen not to learn more marketable job skills, to better themselves, and to go to the job market without skills or education that would give them a skill that anyone would pay for.  Many of them, raised in a public school system that taught grievance-mongering and neglected hard work and striving to better oneself, have no concept of the idea that “bettering oneself” is not an entitlement, but a personal responsibility. 

And it’s for these hundreds of millions of Americans that we need to raise the minimum wage. 

So please join me in demanding your congressperson demand a raise to the federal minimum wage!  

FUZZY:  Hey, it’s Javier Amarillo, of the SEIU!  When are you going to organize fast-food workers?

AMARILLO: [Smiling blandly]  You don’t exist to me. 

STRETCH:  Do you make minimum wage?

AMARILLO:  As if.  I make $187,000 a year plus perks.  I drive a BMW.  I haven’t eaten at a “Burger King” in 20 years.  Get back to work, as****es.    I’ve got to get to a dinner meeting with Tina Flint Smith. 

[And SCENE, as a Pete Seeger song plays dimly in the background]

Lowballed

SCENE:  At the Mississippi Market co-op in Saint Paul.  Mitch BERG is shopping for steel-cut oatmeal.  He notices Avery LIBRELLE turning into his aisle, looking for free-range humane tofu.  He tries to turn and leave, but it’s already too late. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  The Free Market is collapsing!

BERG:  Er, OK – how do you figure?

LIBRELLE:  Preferred One left the MNSure network!

BERG: Um, that’s not a failure of the free market.

LIBRELLE: Sure it is!  They came into the plan with a low-ball proposal.  It didn’t work, so it’s a failure of the free market! 

BERG: Well, no.  It’s not.  The plans they’re pulling from MNSure are basically the same thing they’ve been selling to employers for decades, although more expensive, to cover all the extra Obamacare requirements, and a little extra to cover the fact that they’d only get paid after the money filtered through the MNSure system, which just isn’t working.  It’s the kind of plan they can sell by themselves just fine, and keep themselves in business. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, businesses shouldn’t profit from healthcare!

BERG:  Preferred One is a non-profit under Minnesota law.   And even so, they couldn’t financially justify the overhead that the MNSure system brought into the equation. 

LIBRELLE:  They should have come to the market with a plan that asked for more money!  Government subsidies would cover it anyway!

BERG:  And you have just explained why government subsidies promote inflation. 

LIBRELLE:  No I didn’t.

BERG:  Yes you did.  Businesses should raise their prices to smooth out dealing with the government’s incompetent bureaucracy, because another part of government is going to subsidize the transaction – which prices the business’s service out of reach of the unsubsidized.  It’s done for health insurance exactly what it’s done for higher education. 

LIBRELLE:  That just means we need single payer healthcare.

BERG:  Right.  So the same government that can’t produce a health care exchange on time and on budget, and get payments to providers efficiently enough to make the service worth providing, will now be directly in charge of every facet of your healthcare. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, at least it’ll promote transparency. 

BERG:  How so? 

LIBRELLE:  See the social justice that the IRS brought to political campaigning by denying teabagger groups their tax-exempt status?  Imagine the transparency we’ll get when The People can start denying them healthcare!

(LIBRELLE turns, starts walking away, but walks into shelf full of jars of organic peanut butter.  LIBRELLE falls as shelves of jars fall to the floor)

(And SCENE)

The Shorter “Every Liberal In Minnesota Responds To The Oasis Cafe’s Listing Its ‘Minimum Wage Fee’ On Its’ Receipts”

EVERY LIBERAL IN MINNESOTA:  “Clearly the owner of the cafe hates his employees, because he’s making the minimum wage an issue on his receipts.  So we’ll show our concern for the employees by boycotting the place and trying to put the employees out of work”.

(And SCENE)

War, War, War

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is having breakfast at the River Oasis Cafe in Stillwater. 

Avery LIBRELLE’s car, belching oily smoke, coasts to a halt outside the cafe.  LIBRELLE walks in, sees BERG, and sits down next to him.

LIBRELLE: Hey, Merg!  The War on Women is a real thing!

BERG:  Oh, hey, Avery.  Huh.   You don’t say.

LIBRELLE:  I do say.  It’s a fact.  Republicans want to shut down women’s access to Reproductive Health services and products.

BERG:  For starters, “reproductive health services” means “abortion”, which to about half the country means “killing babies”.  Say what you will about whether it’s a right, but there’s a legitimate discussion to be had about its morality and whether society should be condoning, much less paying for, it.  And evading that discussion by calling it “war!” is just intellectually craven. 

As to “goods”, the discussion is about whether business owners should be required to pay for goods and services that morally repel them.  Again, there’s a discussion to be had – and calling the discussion a “war” is intelletually cowardly.

So your “War on Women” is really a systematic avoidance of an adult conversation about two serious topics. 

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  The War on Women is a fact! 

BERG:  Well, lots of Democrats might want to leave the room before agreeing with you.   What we do have, on the one hand, is a “war” involving “representatives” of half the population objecting to being questioned about the moral implications of infanticide and the overrunning of other peoples’ religious freedom, and on the other hand half the population feminizing the education system to systematically oppress boys – even trying to turn boyhood itself into a pathology – or something to be un-selected in the reproductive process, a line of systematic oppression that has made the education system from kintergarten through college so hostile to boys that they only represent 40% of college students, which will have the long term effect of undercutting traditional male roles?   And of those boys who do go on to college being considered guilty until proven innocent of sexual assault on college campuses and other alleged sex crimes, along with the erosion of due process “protecting” people in such cases – no, even more due process, such as being presumed a rapist until you prove otherwise, being denied even the right to claim one’s innocence in front of campus “courts” that even kangaroos would disavow - and even being branded as a criminal even sooner , since college is apparently too late, in a system-wide series of policies and to bizarre double standards  that a cynic might say is designed to make (male) heterosexuality itself a crime.  And then going on into the work force, to be treated as guilty until proven innocent in employment sexual harassment cases, while it’s difficult for women to even be accused. And then going on, after all that, to maybe become a father, in a system that legally defrauds men “accused” of paternity and even those who disprove paternity, giving rise to an industry defrauding men and courts, or maybe even getting married, finding that divorce is much easier and more palatable to women because men are systematically denied rights in child custory litigation, and going on to see that the system ignores crimes committed against boys (remember the Nigerian schoolgirls?  How many celebrities did selfies with hashtags protesting the hundreds of Nigerian boys that have been not kidnapped but murdered by Boko Haram), and being abused for suggesting that maybe men’s rights need some attention, or even saying the war on men exists, then I need to ask you – who’s the actual war against?

LIBRELLE: …  [Slowly stands up, walks out, and drives away in a cloud of blue smoke]

[And SCENE]

A Brief History Of Proportionality

Act 1

[SCENE:  The New Jersey-side bank of the Delaware River, December 24, 1776.  General George WASHINGTON, having just led the ragged Continental Army across the Delaware River, is having a final conference with his senior officers before attacking the Hessians, who are passed out, hung over after their Christmas drinking binges, in their winter camp in Trenton New Jersey.]

WASHINGTON:  Our revolution has had major setbacks this past year.  Now is our time to strike back, re-set the balance of this war, and convince the French, Dutch and Spanish that the Revolution can be sustained!

[The generals cheer - except for A. LIBRELLE, a civilian bureaucrat attached to the Army by the group Justice For Britain].

LIBRELLE:  I’m sorry, General.  This attack is disproportionate.  Your men need to get drunk,, become hung over, and then wake the Hessians so it can be a fair fight.  And lose the cannon.

General Marquis de LAFAYETTE:  Sacre bleu, is this person mad? 

[And SCENE]

Act 2

[SCENE:  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1863.  General George Gordon MEADE, commander of the Army of the Potomac, is at the front line atop Cemetery Ridge, alongside his battered, bloodied army.  Across a wide open field, Confederate General George Pickett is lining up his troops for their epic charge across the rolling field of grass, as MEADE's artillerymen load their cannon]

MEADE:  Men – this is it.  It’s here that the union stands, or falls.  We hold here, or the war is over.   Who’s with me, boys!

[The men cheer - except for A. LIBRELLE, a representative from Quakers for Peace, whose head shakes and face scowls disapprovingly].

LIBRELLE:  Wait, General.  This isn’t proportionate.  You should move your men off this hill and away from behind these walls and fences, and move down into the field so that nobody has cover, and it’s a fair fight.  And what’s with the “men” and “boys” bit?  Isn’t that just a tad patriarchal?

MEADE:  It’s the Army…

[And SCENE]

Scene 3

[SCENE:  London, June 5, 1944.  Generals Dwight EISENHOWER, Bernard Law MONTGOMERY and Omar BRADLEY are firming up the final details of the next day's invasion of Europe, known to us as "D-Day".]

EISENHOWER:  The entire fate of Western Civilization hangs on tomorrow’s invasion.

MONTGOMERY:  Quite.

BRADLEY:  We’ve done all we can.  Now, it’s just down to the guts of the regular GI Joe.

[A. LIBRELLE, representative from the United Nations Office of Philosophy, interrupts]

LIBRELLE:  Wait – Generals?  This invasion is by no means proportionate.  You have battleships, paratroopers, waves and waves of bombers.  The Germans have none of theses. 

MONTGOMERY:  Then you suggest…

LIBRELLE:  Do the invasion without the battleships, the bombers, or the paratroopers. 

EISENHOWER:  That’s suicide!

LIBRELLE:  It’s proportional!

[And SCENE]

Scene 4

[SCENE:  Somewhere in the desert of Judea, early in the morning, 63BC.  Roman legionary RICHARDUS Magnus is addressing his Legion before their final assault on the Jewish stronghold of Masada, where dozens of Jewish patriots are making a last stand against the Roman conquerors]

RICHARDUS:  Legionaires!  Today we shall charge up the siege towers and scale the walls and build a pyramid of the enemy’s skulls!

[The soldiers cheer lustily, as A. LIBRELLIVS, a reporters from the news-scroll Tempus Romanii, stands, bored, kicking at clods of sand]

RICHARDUS:  [Looks at LIBRELLIVS with a look of ill-concealed disdain] Anything to add, Librellius?

LIBRELLIVS:  Nah, I got nothing. 

[And SCENE]

Everyone’s A Racist!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking through the downtown branch of the Saint Paul Library.  He’s way back in the stacks, deeply engrossed in a book, when Avery LIBRELLE pops around the corner.  LIBRELLE notices BERG, and tiptoes up to him.]

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!

BERG:  (Startled)  Huh?  Oh.  It’s you.

LIBRELLE:  Bar Louie is Racist!

BERG:  Oh, the story about the dress code?  That’s kind of a stretch. 

LIBRELLE:  They bar people wearing clothing that only black people wear. 

BERG:  You’ve never worked in a bar, have you?

LIBRELLE:   I’ve been to a few.  I love the Lurcat. 

BERG:  Naturally.  But I meant a bar.  A hangout.  A dive.  I worked in bars – places with pool tables and brawls on Friday and Saturday nights.  Some of them barred people wearing “colors”.

LIBRELLE:  Because they were racist!

BERG:  Well, no – it applied to motorcycle club colors just as much as gangs.  Our bouncers kept ‘em all out. 

LIBRELLE: Yabbut Bar Louie’s dress code pretty much applied only to black people. 

BERG:  Like Vanilla Ice, Robin Thicke, Ad-Rock and Eminem?

LIBRELLE:  Exac…hey, wait ! Those are white guys who dress like…

BERG:  …like what?

LIBRELLE:  Like you’re a racist!

BERG:  Naturally.  So here’s a thought experiment for you.  Let’s say we started a club.  We had a dress code; guys have to wear suits with ties.  Is that racist?

LIBRELLE:  Of course! 

BERG:  Why?  Black people don’t wear suits and ties? 

LIBRELLE:  Of course they do.

BERG:  I thought they wore sports jerseys and flat-billed baseball caps? 

LIBRELLE:  Well, not all of them…

BERG:  …what’s that?  Not all black people are identified by their clothing?  

LIBRELLE: [stares blankly, jaw slowly undulating up and down]

BERG:  Let’s try this on for size.  Pick a bar. 

LIBRELLE:  The Lurcat!

BERG:  OK, sure, the Lurcat.  Let’s say as you’re walking toward the Lurcat, you see a group of burly white guys in biker leathers wearing motorcycle club colors.  They’re drunk, they’re looking aggressive.  Do you go in? 

LIBRELLE:  That’s silly. 

BERG:  Or a bunch of intoxicated white guys in grubby jeans and “wife-beater” tank tops waving pool cues about….

LIBRELLE:  Don’t be silly. The Lurcat would never…[pauses, stops]

BERG:  They’d never allow people in biker gang colors in their joint, much less set up pool tables to draw the blue-collar crowd?  Because they’re racists? 

LIBRELLE:  Because…[head slowly rolls about]

 BERG:  Because social cues have meaning.

LIBRELLE:  Stereotyping people!  That’s just so typical of you bitter gun-clinging Jeeeeebus freaks in flyoverland!

BERG:  Sure.  Later!

(And SCENE)

Flexible

SCENE:  The newsroom at the Star/Tribune.

Laird TORKELSON, political reporter, is sitting at his desk.  An ash tray overflows on his desk as TORKELSON, wearing a porkpie hat with a “Press” pass stuck into the hat band and a rumpled dress shirt pecks away at an IBM Selectric.

A push-button desk phone rings.  Then rings again.  Finally, TORKELSON picks up the phone.

TORKELSON:  Newsroom.  Torkelson.

(Carrie LUCKING from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is on the line.  We hear her through the earpiece)

LUCKING:  Hey, Laird.  We’ve got some work to do here…

TORKELSON:  Hey, Ms. Lucking – I’m kinda busy covering…

LUCKING:  Bla bla bla.  Did I ask for your biography?  Now listen up.

(TORKELSON goes silent)

LUCKING:  Four years ago, the Strib did a good job of preventing outstate DFLers from flaking away from the Governor on Second Amendment issues by spinning Mark Dayton as a gun owner.

TORKELSON:  That wasn’t me, but OK…

LUCKING:  This time, we want to try to get libertarians inside the GOP to flake away from the Republicans.

TORKELSON:  Right – we did that earlier this month, with the “Governor Dayton is a Libertarian” meme.

LUCKING:  Right.  But now the polling is showing the governor in trouble.  So we need you to do a little more for us.

TORKELSON:  (pulling a notebook from his desk drawer, grabbing a pen).  OK, shoot.

LUCKING:  Governor Dayton is a black single mother.

TORKELSON:  (starts writing) A black… (stops writing) single mother?

LUCKING:   Yep.

TORKELSON:   But that’s completely implausible.

LUCKING:   (Bursts out in a dry, mirthless chuckle).  And “Dayton is a Libertarian” was plausible?  Look, I can get you a quote.  (LUCKING shouts, presumably across office) Larry!  Laird needs a quote!

(TORKELSON, puzzled, waits patiently)

VOICE:  Hello, Laird?  This is Larry JACOBS

TORKELSON:   Oh, hi, Larry.  You were visiting Carrie’s office?

JACOBS:  No.

TORKELSON:   Oh – um, OK.  So about this “Dayton is a black single mother” thing, what can you say on the record?

JACOBS (sounding like he’s reading off a cue card):   We can’t prove he’s not a black single mother.  It’s plausible.

TORKELSON:  Er…OK.  Thanks, Doctor Jacobs…

(LUCKING takes the phone)

LUCKING:  So we can run with that?

TORKELSON:  Well, assuming my editor clears space for it…

LUCKING:  Already talked to him!  Front page, baby!

TORKELSON:   Huh.  OK.  I should have it done by five.

LUCKING:  Make it three.  Thanks.  (Phone clicks dead)

(TORKELSON leans back in his chair, as camera pulls back to a wide shot, showing him in an endless, orderly procession of desks, as the sound of electric typewriters becomes more and more intense.

ABM Flies Above That Circling Fin

SCENE:  In the office of “Governor” Mark Dayton, at the Minnesota State Capital.  Carrie LUCKING, Executive Director of “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, is sitting at a large, mahogany desk.  She is leaning back, feet up on the desk, looking idly upward at the paintings and carvings that decorate the ornate office in the classical romanesque structure. 

Across from her is a larger, more ornate mahogany desk.  The nameplate says “Alida Messinger”; it shows signs of being only intermittently occupied. 

A knock is heard on a door leading to a small closet (off right).  LUCKING barely stirs. 

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON (dimly heard through door):  Can I go to the bathroom?

LUCKING:  Go.

(DAYTON opens closet door, walked quickly, shoulders hunched through the door to the left, as Hannah UNDERLING, a staff assistant, walks in)

UNDERLING:  Er, Miss Lucking?  House Minority Leader Daudt is calling for hearings on MNSure.

LUCKING:  Put out a press release calling him “extreme”.

(UNDERLING makes a note). 

That’ll be all. 

(UNDERLING leaves). 

(Time passes.  LUCKING indolently pecks a message into her cell phone, until T. Giles HUMID, a highly trained puppeteer and member of the Governor’s staff, enters the room).

HUMID:  Er, Carrie…

(LUCKING clears her throat)

HUMID:  …er, Miss Lucking?  A group of of Saint Paul school parents are demanding better results from the public schools for their children.

LUCKING (staring idly at the ceiling, twisting her hair):  Put out a call to Keri Miller saying they’re…extreme. 

(HUMID takes a  note, leaves the room).

(There is a knock on the door).

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR DAYTON (voice muffled outside the door):  Can I come in?

LUCKING (Bored):  Yes. 

(DAYTON walks past, stops at LUCKING’s desk)

DAYTON:  Say, uh…

LUCKING:  I’m busy.

DAYTON:  Ok.  (He walks through the closet door again)

(LUCKING, bored, starts folding an origami swan.  It quickly starts resembling a badly-formed paper airplane.  She wads it up and throws it in a trash can that is overflowing with wadded-up pieces of paper)

(Tina FLINT-SMITH, the Governor’s chief of staff and Lieutenant-Governor candidate, enters the room)

FLINT-SMITH:  Carrie, I’m going to be out at a town hall meeting in Cambridge, and I need a term to use to refer to the GOP’s criticism of our budget.

LUCKING:  I’d run with “extreme”.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  Do we use that a lot?

LUCKING:  No.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  (Leaves the room). 

(More idle time).

(Finally, UNDERLING enters).

UNDERLING:  Ms. Lucking, I got a request from some DFLers from Greater Minnesota.  They need some talking points during upcoming debates.

LUCKING (sounding bored):  DFLers from where?

UNDERLING:  Um, Greater Minnesota?  (LUCKING stares, not compreheding.)  The part outside the Twin Cities Metro.

LUCKING:  Huh.

UNDERLING:  They want to know – what do we call Sheila Kihne?

LUCKING:  Er…hm.  Let me think.  I’d say “too extreme!”

UNDERLING: OK.  How about Jennifer Loon?  The rep whom Kihne is primarying? 

LUCKING:  I think we should call her…too extreme!

UNDERLING (sotto voce while writing): …too extreme.  OK – how about Dave Senjem, from Rochester, the leader of the “moderate” faction of the GOP in the House?

LUCKING (absent-mindedly twirling a piece of thread):  Oh, he’s “too extreme”. 

UNDERLING:  Hmm.  OK.  How about Julie Rosen?   Republicans are constantly complaining she’s too moderate.  What is the message about here?

LUCKING (staring into space):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  And how about Tom Bakk.

LUCKING (visibly bored):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  But he’s actually the DFL’s Senate Majority Leader.

LUCKING:  Oh.

(Ryan WINKLER walks in)

WINKLER: Hey, I was talking with Colin Peterson. He’s getting a run for his money from Torrey Westrom. How’s about we call him “shortsighted”?

UNDERLING: Really?

WINKLER: What?  You’re gonna say that’s racist, too? 

UNDERLING:  You don’t know…?

WINKLER:  What?  He’s a black lawyer, too? 

UNDERLING:  He’s blind. 

WINKLER:  I don’t get it. 

LUCKING:  He’s too extreme.

UNDERLING:  Right…

LUCKING:  But we must counter him as well.  (Turns toward DAYTON’s closet)  Hey!   Find some Ray Charles glasses and a long white cane!

(Silence from behind DAYTON’s door)

LUCKING:  HEY!

DAYTON:  Ok. 

(And SCENE)

One Day In The Governor’s Office

SCENE:  The office of the Governor of Minnesota.   Gathered around a table are:

  • Carrie LUCKING, the Executive Director of Alida Messinger’s “Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  She is at the head of table.
  • Bob HUME, the Governor’s chief of staff, sits at LUCKING’s right.
  • Tina FLINT-SMITH, the governor’s other chief of staff, is at LUCKING’s left.
  • Yvette PRETTNER-SOLON, the Lieutenant Governor, dozes at  far end of the table
  • Hannah UNDERLING is standing by.

LUCKING:  In the name of Alita the Mother Almighty, I call this meeting to order!

HUME, FLINT-SMITH and UNDERLING:  All hail!

LUCKING:  So what have you discovered?

HUME:  Well, honey… (LUCKING fixes HUME with a withering glare) …er, sir, the Republicans are facing an unruly split in the Libertarian wing of the party. 

FLINT-SMITH:  We believe they can be wedged. 

LUCKING:  In the name of Mighty Alita (a speaker blares a thunder sound effect in the background, and UNDERLING flickers the light switch of and on a few times) make it so.

HUME:  We’ll pass the governor off as a Libertarian!

FLINT-SMITH:  I’ll put Baird Helgeson on it, over at the Strib.  Hannah?

UNDERLING:  Yes, ma’am?

FLINT-SMITH:  Issue an order to the Strib.  The Governor is now a libertarian. 

UNDERLING: By your leave. 

LUCKING:  What else?

HUME:  We have reason to believe that the GOP is going to make a move for Somali immigrants.  They even have a candidate, running against Phyllis Kahn. 

LUCKING:  We shall make the Governor Muslim.  His middle name is Faruq.   (Thunder effect, as UNDERLING flickers the lights).

FLINT-SMITH (gets up and walks to and opens the closet door).  Mark?

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON (muffled, from inside closet):  Huh?

FLINT-SMITH: You’re Muslim now.

DAYTON: (thinly) OK. 

(FLINT-SMITH closes the door)

LUCKING:  Next?

HUME:  The GOP had their convention.  They endorsed several candidates, but several are going to the primary.

FLINT-SMITH:  AKA “The DFL Way” .

LUCKING:  Who are these people?

HUME (pulling out clipboard):  The first is the governor candidate, Jeff Johnson.

LUCKING (thinking deeply):  We shall issue a press release saying he is Wrong For Minnesota. 

FLINT-SMITH:  Hannah?  Get on it.  (UNDERLING takes a note)

HUME:  The next one is the Senate candidate, Mike McFadden.

LUCKING (thinking even deeper):  We shall issue a press release saying McFadden is…Wrong For Minnesota. 

(UNDERLING takes a note)

HUME:  Dan Severson is running for Secretary of State.

LUCKING (deep in thought):  I think that we need to tell Minnesotans that Severson is…

(silence.  HUME and FLINT-SMITH wait with bated breath, as UNDERLING scribbles on her notepad and PRETTNER-SOLON snores lightly)

LUCKING:  Severson is Wrong For Minnesota.  (nods her head as the others jot notes).

UNDERLING:  How about Arne Carlson?

LUCKING:  Arne Carlson is…Wrong for Minnesota as well.

UNDERLING:  He’s not actually on the ballot. 

LUCKING (looks confused for a moment.  Then focuses on UNDERLING):  You are Wrong for Minnesota. 

HUME:  I brought brownies. 

FLINT-SMITH (taking a brownie, takes a bite.  Grimaces):  Um…did you use salt, or sugar? 

HUME:  Dammit.  Not again…

LUCKING:  The brownies are Wrong For Minnesota. 

HUME:  Oh, by the way, Carrie?  I couldn’t get reservations at Crave tonight. 

LUCKING:  That’s Wrong for Minnesota!

(And SCENE)

America’s Bargain

SCENE:  As America decides its political course for the next few years, an omniscient narrator asks an illustrative, rhetorical question.

THE OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:   So, American electorate:  if you have a choice between being beaten to death, or living a normal life, which do you pick?

THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE:  Those are the choices?

THE OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:  Yep.  Beaten to death, or normal life.

THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE:  And when you say “beaten to death”, you mean…

THE OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:  …pummeled with baseball bats until you bleed to death from multiple blunt force injuries.

THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE:  Huh.  Life, or getting beaten to death. Let me think.

THE OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:  Take your time.

THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE: Can we settle on just getting pummeled until we get badly injured?

(And SCENE)

All In The Timing

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is rigging a small “Snark”-class sailboat out for a day of sailing on Lake Minnetonka.  Among the modifications: the stepping of fore and mizzen masts, and the conversion of all three to square rigging, and a black with white-stripe and black “gunports” paint job, to convert the 14 foot boat into a small model of the USS Constitution. 

BERG notices Avery LIBRELLE paddling past on a recumbent bicycle that’s had two outrigger floats attached to the frame, and paddles clipped to the drive wheel, making the recumbant into a crude pedal-powered catamaran. 

LIBRELLE notices BERG before he can duck below the gunwales of the small boat.

LIBRELLE:   Ahoy, Merg!

BERG:  Er, ahoy, matey.  Interesting ride.

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, I paid for it with a government “green energy” grant.

BERG:  Of course you did.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  I’m on my way to a float-in observing the 44th anniversary of the Kent State shootings.

BERG:  Huh.  44 years.  Wow.  I remember seeing that on the TV when I was a little kid.

LIBRELLE:  Further proof that we the Masses need to be on guard against totalitarian rule!

BERG:  Huh?

LIBRELLE: Nixon ordered those murders!

BERG: Er, it was more a matter of National Guardsmen panicking under pressure.  There was no conspiracy – at least, none that 44 years of constant scrutiny has found.

LIBRELLE:  Only if you believe the conservative mainstream media.

BERG:  Er, right.  So speaking of coverups, how about Benghazi?

LIBRELLE:  Oh, stop. That was two whole years ago!

LIBRELLE pedals briskly away – running up onto a sandbar.  

And SCENE. 

 

A Critique

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking through the garden store looking for organic potato seeds.  He spots Avery LIBRELLE, over in the tomato section.  BERG turns and tries to quietly leave, but LIBRELLE turns and sees him.

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  (Hurries over toward BERG)

BERG:  Oh – uh, hi, Avery.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  I read your stupid piece yesterday about the supposed decline of logic

BERG:  Yeah? 

LIBRELLE:  The first thing I thought was “It’s only Berg.  Who cares what he has to say?”

BERG: In other words, the ad hominem…

LIBRELLE: Oh, shush with all your Greek words.  It lowered my self-esteem for a bit – until I realized something; an argument can be fallacious but still be logical!

BERG:  Er…sorta.  You can use logic to persuade people of something that’s not true.  I mean, that’s basic rhetoric.  But the problem is in the audience’s ignorance, or the lack of information they have, or…

LIBRELLE:  Exactly!  Logic is one of those things lawyers use to hide the truth.  Anyway - what I do is, at the beginning of an argument, I ask “What is the truth”.

BERG:  Er…OK.  So before the debate starts, you find out….what…

LIBRELLE:  I find out whatthe truthis.  And then I run with that. 

BERG:  OK…so you just ask “what is the truth, here?”

LIBRELLE:  Yep!  Because the truth of something isn’t related to how well it’s argued!

BERG:  So you figure “I’ll just go straight for the truth”.

LIBRELLE:  Yep.  Truth is truth, whether people or know or discuss it or not. 

BERG:  Huh.  And so how do you find what is “the truth”?  Say we’re on a jury, and the prosecution has their version of what happened, and the defense has a different version of what happened.  Do you just ask the judge “what is “the truth” here?”

LIBRELLE:  Well, empirical evidence helps.

BERG:  OK, now we’re onto something!  Where does “empirical evidence” come from?

LIBRELLE:  Western Thought!  And modern western thinking started when thinkers became willing to consider the illogical!

BERG:  Good lord – the process of getting “empirical evidence” is called “the scientific method”, and it is built on classical logic!   And then when your evidence leads you to a conclusion, you have to convince others that your conclusion is valid!  And logic is how you build a valid argument that focuses on fact!

LIBRELLE:  Just like Johnny Cochrane did! 

BERG:  Er, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” was part logic, part rhetoric.  It was closer to marketing than classical logic…

LIBRELLE:  I demolished you with that!

BERG:  Look – logic is how we convince ourselves, and others, what the truth is.  For example, if I’m trying to convince you that “Stand your Ground” laws make sense, I would show you, logically, how such laws are immediately correlated with drops in unjustifiable homicide…

LIBRELLE:  …and then I call you racist!  Because I read something in the Daily Kos that said so!

BERG:  Er… (slowly backing away) I hadn’t thought of it that way… (notices that LIBRELLE has started chewing on a tomato start.  BERG slowly turns and walks away .

(And SCENE)

(AUTHOR NOTE:  While the names and flow have been changed, the conversation above actually happened with a liberal on Twitter.  Yes, it did.  Remember; the left are the smart ones).

On A Rattlesnake Light Rail ‘cross The Hiawatha Desert

SCENE:  It’s 1985.  Mitch BERG – just out of college, hair waving in the breeze  and his elbow resting on the sill of his open driver’s side window - barrels down North Dakota Highway 200 at 85 miles per hour in his 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo.  Over the deafening racket of his small-block 350 engine (whose muffler fell off some time earlier, to BERG’s penurious horror but aesthetic delight) a boom box with a cigarette-lighter adaptor blasts  a cassette of John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow.   The Monte Carlo, covered in rust to the point where the driver’s side door panel flaps in the slipstream, wobbles and loudly grinds during BERG’s rare applications of brake.  But it’s a beautiful summer day in east-central North Dakota. 

BERG, dressed in a plain white v-neck T-shirt, an army-surplus dungaree shirt  and black straight-leg jeans, has a filterless Chesterfield dangling from his lip.  The coal on the end of the cigarette glows as BERG draws in a puff – and then almost instantly blows it out into the slipstream, studiously avoiding any inhalation.   In the back of the car are three guitar cases, a Fender amplifier, and two duffel bags full of clothes.

Suddenly, he notices a blueish smoke cloud in the distance.  He squints, tosses the half-smoked cigarette out onto the roadway, and shuts off the cassette. 

Gradually, he makes out the shape of a 1979 Subaru wagon.  It is parked outside the access road to a Minuteman missile silo, which sits about 200 yards north of the two-lane highway, encircled in chain link fence and razor wire.  A lone figure climbs out of the Subaru.   As BERG slows to a stop by the Subaru, we recognize a much-younger Avery LIBRELLE.  LIBRELLE’s car is festooned with anti-nuclear bumper stickers; the cargo area and back seat are crammed with signs demanding an immediate nuclear freeze, and declaring you can’t hug children with nuclear arms.  The Subaru, idling, continues to belch blue smoke. 

BERG pulls into the access road and brakes the Chevy to a stop by LIBRELLE’s car in a squall of metallic grinding, indicating the rotors and shoes direly need repair and replacement.   He turns off the engine, and the prairie is silent, but for the wind. 

BERG:  Hey – what’s up?  Something wrong with your car?

LIBRELLE:  Er…no?

BERG:  Well, it looks like you’ve had a bit of a fire. 

LIBRELLE:  What makes you say that? 

BERG:  Um…the smoke cloud?  It looks like a grass fire cominig across the prairie.  And it smells like burning oil… 

LIBRELLE:  Huh.  Haven’t seen anything.  And I think Subarus come from the factory like that.  Everyone in Minneapolis has ‘em. 

BERG:  Huh.  OK – well, it looked like you needed some help…

LIBRELLE: Oh, I do!  I do!  I need people to carry these signs (points to stack of hundreds of Nuclear Freeze signs in the back of car) to protest the US Military’s race to armageddon, and demand that we allow the peaceful leadership of the Soviet Union to co-exist with the peace-loving people of the earth!  Which is all they want!

BERG:  And you came up here from Minneapolis…

LIBRELLE:  …looking for people to protest with me.

BERG:  And how’s that going for you?

LIBRELLE: Not great, so far. 

BERG:  Huh.  Well, people around here have a lot on their minds.  There’s  farm crisis going on, and most of the locals are trying to hang on and survive.  And most of ‘em pretty much support the Air Force, anyway…

LIBRELLE:  So I’m finding out.  But you’ll help (LIBRELLE grabs a sign hopefully)

BERG:  No, no, sorry – I just thought you were, y’know, on fire or something.  I’m actually moving to the Twin Cities. 

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah?  Why?

BERG:  Well, I just graduated with a BA in English, and I want to be a writer and a musician, and there’s no much opportunity for that here.  In fact, there’s not much opportunity at all around here.  Job market’s kinda slow even for diesel mechanics and custom combiners, to say nothing of tortured starving would-be artists.  So I’m going to move to Minneapolis to try my luck at…well, writing, or technical writing, or music, or something.  Anything, really.  I have no idea what I’m gonna do.   I just know that unless they, I dunno, strike oil or something… (both BERG and LIBRELLE chuckle at the absurdity) …it’s never gonna happen here for me.  This place is never gonna be an economic powerhouse.

LIBRELLE:  But you can live the ideal life out here!  Be a hunter-gatherer!  Be in touch with the land! 

BERG: Er, no.  Looking for…

LIBRELLE:  The train!

BERG:  Huh?

LIBRELLE:  They’re going to build a light rail train down Hiawatha Avenue from downtown to the Airport!   They tore down all the buildings along Hiawatha Avenue twenty years ago to make way for it, and it’s going to get built any day now!

BERG:  Er, OK (starting to fidget)

LIBRELLE:  You’re a creative who’s moving to Minneaoplis because of the train!

BERG:  Um, what now?

LIBRELLE:  Mass transit!  It’s what draws creatives to the city!  

BERG:  Er, no.  That’s what I have a car for.  No, I’m moving there for opportunity – a chance at doing some things that really only occur in major cities.  I mean – huh?  Moving somewhere because there’s  a train?  Thats just weird

LIBRELLE:  Lalalalalalalalalalalalala!   The Met Council has spoken!  LALALALALALA!  (LIBRELLE grabs a Nuclear Freeze sign and hands it to BERG)

(BERG takes the sign, throws it into the front seat of his car, and starts the engine, which roars in unmuffled glory).

LIBRELLE (Starts to picket the missile silo)  No More Nukes!  No More Nukes!

BERG:  (Yelling over the din from his engine).  Hey, you know there aren’t actually any people in that silo, right?   That’s just where the missile is.   The people are in the command silo, which is somewhere else…

LIBRELLE: (Yelling back over the din):  Yes, I know there’s a feeble line of reasoning for fissile weapons.  A feeble line they don’t believe themselves…

BERG (Yelling):  No, er…yeah.  Yeah, that’s it. 

(BERG steps on the gas.  The Monte Carlo accelerates, as BERG turns the cassette deck back on). 

(And SCENE)

Like Waiting For “One Direction” Tickets In A Blizzard

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking his dog down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.   He’s walking past an organic car repair shop when Avery LIBRELLE walks out, almost bumping into BERG).

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  Hah! I woke up this morning thinking “Merg must be feeling sad today! Obamacare is a huge success!”

BERG:  Well, it’s not really…

LIBRELLE:  Which bums you out more, Merg – that more people weren’t insured, or that less weren’t?

BERG:  Well, I’m just trying to figure out what all the happiness is about.

LIBRELLE:   Seven million subscribers!

BERG:  Let’s assume the Administration is giving real numbers.  That’s seven milion people who’ve signed up.  Not seven million paid, issued policies.  But if you put it up against the five million people wholosttheir coverage over the past year, that means we’re up a net two million – assuming they all actually pay their premiums, which all of them will not.

LIBRELLE:  You’re just jealous that no Republican healthcare plan gets people lining up for it!

BERG:  Wait – you say that’s a good thing!

LIBRELLE:  When people line up to buy something, that means it’s popular.    Like an iPhone!

BERG:  If that analogy held up – if Obamacare is extremely popular – then they’d have been waiting in line last October, when the plans first hit the market.  This is like people waiting in line to buy iPhone 3s before they go out of production.

LIBRELLE:  That’s stupid!  Nobody would do that!

BERG:  Unless it was your only shot at getting a phone, and you were going to wind up without a phone if you waited another day.  The “lines” had less in common with these…:

HyPsTrZ at the sacrament of unveiling.

…and much more in common with these…:

Waiting for bread in Moscow, 1980s

…or these:

Minnesota clinic, 2018. Just kidding – it’s a DMV line.

People trying to get something before an onerous deadline makes it impossible.

LIBRELLE:  Wow.  You’re a real debbie downer.

BERG:  As always, I’m a realist.  The Administration is trying to put lipstick on a dead pig in time to save the Democrats in time for the mid-terms.

LIBRELLE:  Hey – you used the word Democrat!  You hate women and their children!

(And SCENE)

Don’t Turn Around

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting at a stoplight when his car is jolted from behind. 

Wearily, BERG gets out of his car and walks to the car that has bumped his rear bumper.  Avery LIBRELLE sits at the driver’s seat, still furiously typing on a mobile device.

BERG:  (Recognizes LIBRELLE):  Oh, jeez.   You know you slid into my…

LIBRELLE:  Wait!  (furiously finishes typing comment onto news website).  OK.  What now?

BERG:  Well, you sorta slid into my back bumper.  (Checks bumper).  Not much damage, but still…

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, well, I had to comment on this Ukraine thing.  The Administration is doing a heck of a job.

BERG:  The Administration is doing nothing at all.

LIBRELLE:  Well, we only have so much we can do.  We have no credibility.

BERG:   I’ll say.  Obama has pretty much…

LIBRELLE:   No, you racist, it’s not Obama.  It’s the US.  We have no credibility on human rights issues.

BERG:  What now?

LIBRELLE:  Look at slavery!  Look at what we did with the Indians.

BERG:  Wait.  Slavery – which we fought a civil war to abolish 150 years ago – and the wars against the Native Americans, which ended 120 years ago, destroy our credibility today?

LIBRELLE:  Absolutely.  And the people of the Crimea just voted, 93% of them, to rejoin Russia.

BERG: In an election in which they were surrounded by Russian troops.

LIBRELLE:  So that invalidates the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, then?

BERG: (slowly shakes head).  You do realize that justifying a larger, aggressive nation swallowing up parts of smaller nations based purely on ethnicity is how the west rationalized Germany taking the Sudetenland, don’t you?

LIBRELLE:  Bla bla bla.  Russia is liberating Crimea from the Ukrainitarians, who unlawfully stole it from them.

BERG:   OK, about that.  Let’s run, for sake of argument, with the idea that slavery and the conquest of the American Indians invalidates America’s claim to being a moral player.

LIBRELLE:  It does.

BERG:   Even though it happened over 110 years ago, and our society has spent the better part of the past 40-50 years atoning for both, which is something no other society on earth haseverdone for societies they previously conquered and enslaved.

LIBRELLE:   Bla bla bla.  Do you have a point?

BERG:   I always have a point.  You do realize that the reason the Crimea is ethnically Russian is that the Russians murdered, starved and deported the vast majority of the non-Russian natives of the region back in the twenties through the forties, and shipped in ethnic Russians to replace them, don’t you?  That is to say, within the past seventy to ninety years, they either murdered the people who lived there at the time – the Tatars, the Turks, the German-Russians and all other other ethnic groups that used to live there – in an ethnic cleansing no less brutal than Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but within living memory, as they were also starving Ukraine into submission - or shipped them off to the steppes and a fate not one iota less horrible than slavery?

LIBRELLE:  Your point?

BERG:  You deny the US has any moral weight, but ignore vastly worse and more recent crimes to fit your narrative.

LIBRELLE:   Bla bla bla.  Hey, you have insurance, right?  Could you get this one?

(And SCENE)

Tax Cuts!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is picking up cat food at the grocery store.  Avery LIBRELLE, carrying a case of kombucha, walks past, sees BERG, and stops. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!   University Avenue is about to get a $1.4 Billion dollar tax cut!

BERG:  (Looking for a graceful way out) Um, what now?

LIBRELLE:  The Green Line light rail is rebating 1.4 billion dollars worth of local, state and federal taxes to the consumer of Saint Paul!

BERG:  Um, we’re spending a billion and change on a light rail line. 

LIBRELLE:   Right – the taxes were paid, and then the money is being sent back to the taxpayer in the form of rail!  It’s a tax cut!

BERG:  That’s absurd. 

LIBRELLE:  And MNSure is tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being returned to Minnesota’s healthcare consumers. 

BERG:  And Information Technology companies, and business consultants.

LIBRELLE:  Exactly!  All of them are benefitting from the Tax Cuts!

BERG:  None of these are tax cuts.  All of them are government taking money from some people, and giving it to others…

LIBRELLE:   …you’re a sore loser, Merg!   Why, look at the tax cuts we’re giving to the working poor!

BERG:  “Tax cuts?”  You hiked the budget $2.1 Billion, and took over a billion extra out of the economy, and the DFL’s idea of a “tax cut” is to give a few million back to people to reinforce their DFL votes?

LIBRELLE:  Blah blah blah!  It’s tax money, and someone is getting it back!

BERG:  So giving hundreds of millions of tax dollars to Zygi Wilf is a “tax cut?”

LIBRELLE:   Is it tax money?  Is someone getting it?  It’s a tax cut!

BERG:   So the CIA and the SEALS gave Osama Bin Laden a “tax cut” when they killed him?

LIBRELLE:   Don’t be absurd!  They lowered the unemployment rate!

(And SCENE)

Do The Right Thing

SCENE:  Mitch BERG, accompanied by Joe TUCCI, Attorney at Law, and paralegal Lance PFLAU, steps out of a black Chevy Suburban and walks up to the Highland Park home of Avery LIBRELLE.  BERG knocks on the door.  Eventually, LIBRELLE answers. 

BERG:  Hey, Avery.  Let’s go. 

LIBRELLE:   Huh?  Where?

BERG: To the pistol range.  We’re going to get you started shooting, and get you started on your carry permit. 

LIBRELLE:   What?

BERG:  It’s time you did the right thing. 

LIBRELLE:   How is forcing me to pick up an instrument of violence “the right thing?” 

BERG: Because it’s a right.  We have the right to keep and bear arms. It’s very important to many of us, and until everyone is intellectually and socially assimilated into that right, the right is not safe. 

LIBRELLE:   But…but, you can’t force me to exercise a right I disagree with, especially on moral grounds, like the gun thing!  You can’t!

BERG:  Of course I can!    Just like the gay couples who are sueing the bakers and photographers and florists who tried to opt out of rendering their services at same-sex weddings.   Rather than just let the Christians have their way and go find a gay-friendly baker or photographer or florist, they hauled them into court, at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars to both sides, not so much because they wanted to use their products, but to send a message to all of society; dissent from our orthodoxy will not be tolerated!   Just as they will be doing, shortly, somewhere or other, to some church somewhere or another in this country.

LIBRELLE:   Pshaw!  That’ll never happen.  The First Amendment protects freedom of religion!

BERG:  Right. Just like the Tenth Amendment trumps the Commerce Clause, the Fifth protects American citizens who end up on terror watch lists, the Fourth protects us from no-knock raids and property forfeiture, the Third keeps the police from throwing you out of your house to set up a stakeout, the Second is protecting the people of Connecticut from gun confiscations, and the First protects, well, those bakers and photographers and florists.  Rights are only truly safe when everyone has been forced to comply with them.   

LIBRELLE:   I refuse!

BERG:  I thought you might.  Mr. Tucci?

(TUCCI turns to PFLAU, who takes a document out of his briefcase)

TUCCI:  You’ve been served. 

LIBRELLE:   What the… (Reads papers) A lawsuit?

TUCCI:  Yep.  To compel you to come shooting, get a carry permit, and support the Second Amendment as incorporated upon the states by the Supreme Court in McDonald Vs. Chicago

LIBRELLE:   That’s BS!  That’ll never fly in court!

BERG:   Perhaps.  But it’ll cost you thousands and thousands of dollars to retain an attorney to litigate the case, even if it’s dismissed on summary judgment.   Heck, even if you go pro se, you’re going to eat up a lot of time.

LIBRELLE:   Look, you’re arguing a false equivalence.  Business are subject to public accomodations laws!  They have to serve the reasonable demands of their customers!

BERG: Ah.  So when I walk into a halal market and demand pork chops, they can’t refuse?

LIBRELLE:   Huh? 

BERG:  Pork is trayf under halal.  They won’t even touch the stuff. 

LIBRELLE:   Well, you can’t.  You’re not a memeber of a protected class.

BERG:  What now?

LIBRELLE:   Under public accomodations law, merchants can not refuse service on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation!  You’re a straight white male, so you have no race, gender or orientation!

BERG:  Ah.  So the rights of gay people trump the rights of religious people to act according their consciences. 

LIBRELLE:   Right!  Gays were born that way!  You can’t refuse to serve people based on conditions they were born with.  Religion is chosen!

BERG:  So the rights of people who were born some way trump the rights of people who choose something.

LIBRELLE:  Sure!

BERG:  Well, our rights are endowed to us by our creators, so I was born with the right to keep and bear arms.  And so were you. 

LIBRELLE:  That’s really stretchy, Merg!

TUCCI:  We can sort that out in court, Mis… (looks to BERG and PFLAU, both of whom shrug) …um, Avery. 

BERG:  So some peoples’ rights are more important than other peoples’s rights?

LIBRELLE:   Absolutely.   Why should I be forced to associate with people that I morally disagree with?

BERG:  Wait – so you embrace the ideal of “free association”…

LIBRELLE:  Yes!

BERG:  …unless the law says you have to associate with them?

LIBRELLE:  Yes!  We can’t have discrimination!

BERG:   Hm. OK.  Mr. Tucci?

TUCCI:  Mr. Pflau?

PFLAU:  I am gay.  I demand you come to the range. 

LIBRELLE:  You’re gay?

PFLAU:  Well, I’m a little curious. And addicted to Glee

(LIBRELLE stands, holding papers, slowly deflating)

TUCCI:  May I remind you; No h8. 

(An air of resignation visitly wafts over LIBRELLE)

LIBRELLE:   OK.  Got me there. 

(The four walk down to the street and bundle LIBRELLE into the Suburban.  In the back seat sit Professor William G. KRIEPPI and blogger Edmund DUCHEY, morosely wearing “NRA” hats and maroon GOCRA shirts)

LIBRELLE (to KRIEPPI and DUCHEY):  They got you too? 

(The other two sullenly nod as the Suburban departs for Burnsville Pistol Range, Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money” playing loudly on the car stereo).

(And SCENE).

Out Of Both Ends Of Babes

SCENE:  Mitch Berg is at the pharmacy, refilling a painkiller prescription.    He notices a tap on the shoulder.  It’s Mr. Victor VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE, professional fraternity organizer, and Vice Chair for Education at the 5th CD Libertarian Party.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Hey, Berg!

BERG (holding an acheing jaw in dire need of a root canal):  Hey, V-Molt.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  What did we say about that?

BERG:  Oh, OK.  Hey, Viktor.  What’s up?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  You’re a Christian, right?

BERG:  Yep.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Kurt Tischer said “Everyone is born an atheist and an anarchist. People have to be taught religion and statism.”

BERG:  That’s an attack on faith, right?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Of course.

BERG:  People are also born babbling unintelligibly, utterly self-centered, unable to live independently – without their family, which is the ultimate autocracy – and crapping and peeing all over the place.  Are these also desirable traits?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Clearly you are a RINO.

BERG:  Clearly.

(And SCENE).