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).

The Administrators Who Say “Ni”

SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking through a leafy, green park in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Turning a corner, he runs into three Chicago-area school administators:  Hanna PFLUG-NICHOLS, Nicole PRYMM, and Morghaine EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS.  They are standing astride the path

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  Wait!  You are Mitch Berg.  You are one of those gun nuts. 

BERG: Er, I’m a Second Amendment activist.  I may or may not own or carry a firearm…

ALL THREE WOMEN:  Aaaaaaaagh!

PRYMM:  Don’t say it!

BERG:  Say what?

PFLUG-NICHOLS: That word!

PRYMM:  The “G” or “F” or “P” word.

BERG:  Er…”gun?”

ALL THREE WOMEN:  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  Why do you hate womynandchyldren?

BERG: Er, I’m sorry – but what brought this on?

PFLUG-NICHOLS: Um – because of the change in what we call “concealed killer” laws, we are being forced to put stickers on our schools. 

BERG:  You mean like this sticker here?:

ALL THREE WOMEN: Aaaaaaaaagh!

PRYMM:  That…shape!

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  It looks like a Pop-tart!

BERG:  Those are stickers that your new concealed carry law requires buildings to have at their entrances if it’s illegal to carry inside. 

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  It’s disgusting.  To have theshapeof a…

PRYMM:  …a…

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS: …er…

BERG:  Gun?

ALL THREE WOMEN:  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

BERG:   Look – Illinois put so many places off-limits to gun owners that it’s only fair that you warn them before they unwittingly become a felon. 

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  But theyshouldbe felons!

PRYMM:  I think they should all be in jail 

BERG:  Be that as it may, they are two orders of magnitude more law-abiding than the general public, and they generally work pretty hard to stay that way.  So why entrap them into a cheap arrest based on a technicality?

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  Because I hate them.

BERG:  It’s a warning sticker. 

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  But it may cause people to think that since there’s a sticker saying that they can’t bring one into the school now, maybe they could have in the past

BERG:  You honestly expect school children to think that? 

PRYMM:  We expect what to think that?

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  Those little pseudo-people that are all over all our buildings. 

PRYMM:  Huh.  Are you sure? 

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  I think so. 

BERG:  Look – you are less likely to be wrongfully shot by a carry permit holder than you are to be hit by lightning. 

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  By what? 

EFFENBERGER-BRONKOWSKI-GAIA-BEVINS:  Goddess-farts.

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  Ah. 

BERG:  As in, 5-6 times as likely to be hit by, er, “goddess farts” as by a law-abiding citizen with a legal firearm (flinches, realizing his mistake)

ALL THREE WOMEN: Aaaaaaaaaagh!

BERG:  Sorry….hey, I’m hungry…

(Pulls pop-tart from backpack.  Chews it into the shape of a volume of Shakespeare. 

PFLUG-NICHOLS:  Dead white European male!

PRYMM:  Fascist!

(And SCENE).

Value

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG sits down at a small Vietnamese cafe on University Avenue.  He unwraps a Bahn Mi Dac Biet and is sitting down to read the newspaper when Avery LIBRELLE sits down in Mitch’s booth). 

LIBRELLE:  Hah, Merg!  The President sure pwn3d you wingnuts at his State of the Union the other night!

BERG:  Huh.  You thought so?  I thought it was a lot of pretty vapor.

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  He showed you wingnuts what was what!  Especially on issues of equality!  How women still make 77 cents to a man’s dollar…

BERG:  …yeah, that was bullshirt 20 years ago, when it was a matter of women taking more years off from their careers to have kids than men did.  And it still is.  Women with equal experience and records and credentials make about the same as men – within the bounds of statistical noise.

LIBRELLE:  Oh, he sure beat you up on the subject of the minimum wage!  Costco and Punch Pizza both start workers at $10 an hour!  If they can do it, anyone can!

BERG:  We talked about that yesterday.  Neither Costco nor Punch are representative of all, or even many, small businesses that employ low-skill workers…

LIBRELLE: Stop right there,you one percenter!  There is no such thing as a “low skill worker”!   Every worker’s skills have value, and every worker’s hard work is vital – indeed, more vital than the bosses!

BERG: Um, what now?

LIBRELLE:  That’s right!  Mitt Romney was frequently not at his desk at Bain Capital – but the janitors had to be there picking up the trash!  No janitors, no major deals!

BERG:  And, uh, we’ve been through that before too.  You think that if a janitor just started picking up stuff at random out on the street, it’d generate value?

LIBRELLE:  Don’t you value clean streets?

BERG:  Er, I already pay a bunch of public union workers with better pensions and insurance than I’ll ever have to do exactly that.  But let’s make sure we’re clear on this – all work is equally valuable?  So if a receptionist and a bunch of janitors sit down outside the bus station and start answering calls and cleaning things, a multi-billion dollar venture capital firm will spontaneously form around it?  Drawing billions in capital and the people who know how to negotiate its use?

LIBRELLE:  Happens all the time!

BERG:   Right.  But let’s look at the other half of your statement – the idea that all skills are useful, provided one works hard.

LIBRELLE:  They are!  All hard work must be rewarded!

BERG: All hard work?

LIBRELLE:  Yep.  The harder the work, the  more valuable it is!

BERG:  So someone who works sixty hour weeks for six months and spends half of his life on the road closing the financing for a deal that opens a factory that provides hundreds of jobs is worth the same as someone who, hypothetically, hammers rocks into smaller rocks as a form of artistic statement for sixty hours a week?

LIBRELLE:  Same?  The rock-breaker should make more!  He…

BERG: …or she…

LIBRELLE:  …of course, works very hard!  Have you ever operated a hammer?

BERG:  Sure I have.  Have you?

LIBRELLE:  The union would break my knees if I did – and I may file a grievance against you, for that matter – but I know the basic theory.  It’s hard work.  Much harder than computing spreadsheets and talking with banksters and sitting on airplanes.

BERG:  But it generates no value!

LIBRELLE:  Says you!

BERG:  Er, yeah.  Sez me!  The act of breaking rocks into smaller rocks for twelve hours a day is of no value to anyone!  It’s even a terribly inefficient way to make gravel!

LIBRELLE:  Perhaps to your bougeouis, one-percenter sensibilities!

BERG: Any rational person’s sensibilities!  I mean, here’s a test for you:  How much are you willing to pay, from your own pocket, for someone to break rocks into smaller rocks as a form of artistic statement?

LIBRELLE:  Well, Merg, that just shows how ignorant you are about economics!

BERG:  You don’t have an answer, then?

LIBRELLE:  The real question is this:  how long do you really think girls should sit in jail for having an abortion?

(Dish of pho arrives at table)

LIBRELLE:  Excuse me – I ordered pho.  What is this?  You charge $5 for a bowl of noodles with crud in it?

(And SCENE)

Of The People

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting on a chair at a book store, trying to figure out which Reagan biography to buy.  Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK, a twenty-something graduate of Saint Olaf, and of Camp Wellstone, sits at the next chair.  She gradually notes BERG’s haul of books).  

BIRKENSTOCK:  You should have no right to read that garbage.

BERG:   Huh.  Well, fortunately, “rights” aren’t granted or denied by “the People”.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Yes they are.

BERG:   Um, what?

BIRKENSTOCK:   Read the Constitution.  It says “We the people”.  Rights come from The People.

BERG:   Er, the founding fathers understood rights to come from The Creator.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Hah!  You mean religion?  That’s what the founding fathers were fighting against.  That’s why we have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, administer the Oath of Office.

BERG:  That’s completely irrelevant.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Of course it is.  Our Constitution gives us freedom from religion.

BERG:  That’s the French constitution. Not ours.

BIRKENSTOCK.  John Hancock was a lawyer, not a minister!

BERG:   Also irrelevant.  The “creator” who endows our rights might be God, Allah, biology or random coincidence; it doesn’t establish a state view of what Our Creator is.

BIRKENSTOCK:  It doesn’t matter!  Read the Constitution!  It starts with “We The People”.   Rights come from people!

BERG:    That’s exactly what the founding fathers fought against – the idea that rights come from people, rather than from being born a human being.

BIRKENSTOCK:  So where does it say that in the Constitution?

BERG:   It doesn’t.  The idea that Freedom and Liberty are “inalienable” human rights – that humans are born with, not granted by government – comes from the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers and the other writings that set up the intellectual framework for the Constitution.  ”We the People” were forming a goverment to, as the Preamble to the Constitution continues to say, “secure” the blessings of Liberty.  In other words, the freedoms are ours because we’re born human.  Our government’s job is to protect those liberties.  And ideally no more.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Yeah, but the Constitution said nothing about slavery!  They were hypocrites!

BERG:  Well, no – it was a huge argument in 1789, and it stayed a huge argument until 1865.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Slavery was ended by the 13th Amendment.  Who enacted that Amendment?  The People!

BERG:   Was slavery right before The People enacted the 13th Amendment?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Of course not.

BERG:   Why?

BIRKENSTOCK:  The People said so?

BERG:   How about before The People said so?

Let’s try an experiment, here.  Let’s say that 51% of the people agree that the First Amendment is wrong, and there is no right to speak freely, and government has the right to censor speech.  Is that right?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Well…no.

BERG:   Why?  If rights come “from The People”, then “The People” can take them away.

BIRKENSTOCK:  But the founding fathers were wrong about slavery!

BERG:   That supports my point, not yours.  The Founding Fathers realized how very imperfect humans were.  Slavery would be a key example of this.  It took fourscore and seven years, and the bloodiest war in US history to fix the mistake.  Now – if rights come “from The People”, all it would take would be a repeal of the 13th Amendment to make slavery legal.

And the fact is government could make all these rights illegal – but that would be illegitimate, and make the government illegitimate.

BIRKENSTOCK:  So what about countries that don’t recognize rights like trial by jury?

BERG:   They have their own constitutions.  They are, however, wrong.  The idea that other countries are wrong about human rights is one of the reasons we had a Revolution, and started a country based on the ideal that human rights precede and are superior to government power.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Pfft.  Where does the Constitution say anything about how to run a just society?

BERG:   It doesn’t.  It enumerates the powers government has, the powers reserved to the states, and reserves all others to The People.  Or at least that’s what the Tenth Amendment said, before it got gutted.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Hah!  So rights do get abridged by The People.

BERG:   Yep.  And just like slavery, it’s illegitimate.

BIRKENSTOCK:  You’re a Tenther!

BERG:   Damn straight.  Anyway – if you believe that rights come from government, or even The People, then there is logically nothing that says we can’t revoke free speech, religion, press, assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process in criminal cases, and the whole shebang with a 51% vote.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Sure there is!

BERG:   What?

BIRKENSTOCK:  People want to be freeeeeeee!

(BIRKENSTOCK gets up, and dances away up the aisle)

BERG:   Wow.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (Yelling in the distance) Why do you hate womyn?

(And SCENE)

(Note – for those of you who think I try to make my antagonists in these little dramatizations sound “off”?  This conversations is a virtual word-for-word recreation of a conversation I had on Twitter with a DFL operative.  There are liberals who actually believe this).

Conviction

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking through a car parts store, looking for a new filter wrench.  As he checks through the options, Avery LIBRELLE spots him and closes in to initiate a discussion.

LIBRELLE:  Merg!

BERG: Um…hello, Avery?

LIBRELLE:  Your so-called “IRS Scandal” is a huge fraud!

BERG:  Well, no – the IRS itself admitted it targeted conservative groups for stonewalling and extra scrutiny.  And an amazing number of conservative pundits and organizations have come under extraordinary levels of punitive investigation in the past few years.

LIBRELLE:   But you don’t know that Obama ordered it!

BERG:  Gosh, d’ya think?   They’ve completely stonewalled any investigation of anyone higher than their currently-designated scapegoat, Lois Lerner.

LIBRELLE:   If there’s no conviction, then there’s no scandal.

BERG:  That’s sort of like a few weeks back, when you said that because no guns have been confiscated and no daycare providers forced to unionize and the Senate Palace hasn’t been built yet, that the DFL doesn’t favor gun control, forced unionization of daycare providers and jamming down a 90 million dollar bit of pork for their building trades buddies.

LIBRELLE:  No guns grabbed, no daycare providers unionized, no building built – no problem. You have no right to talk about any of them.   (Grabs a windshield wiper blade off the shelf).

BERG:  Of course I do.  It’s a free country.

LIBRELLE:  Maybe too free.  (unwraps the wiper blade).

BERG:  I’m just amazed at the number of DFLers who feel the need to wriggle away from their party’s policies using “implausible denial”, perhaps the dumbest form of argumentation ever.

LIBRELLE:  Yet another installment in the war on women.  (Starts brushing teeth with the wiper blades).

BERG:  Clearly.

And SCENE.

 

It’s Just…Unknowable!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is at the neighborhood hardware store.  As he examines a some hardware for a household project, Avery LIBRELLE steps around the corner and sees BERG, and engages him before he can react.

LIBRELLE:   Blogger Berg!  You’ve been lying about Democrats!

BERG:  Um, OK.  How so?

LIBRELLE:   You’ve been saying on your blog that Minnesota Democrats favored banning guns!

BERG:  Well, yeah – Alice Hausman introduced a bill that called for confiscating guns with magazines larger than seven rounds.

LIBRELLE:  But did any guns get confiscated?

BERG:  Well, the bill got shredded and then withdrawn!

LIBRELLE:  So no guns got confiscated! You totes can not say that Democrats favor confiscating guns if no guns were confiscated!

BERG:  But they introduced the bill…

LIBRELLE:   You also keep saying the DFL supports what you call the “daycare union jamdown”?

BERG:  Yep. The DFL voted on straight party line to compel daycare and home healthcare providers who get government subsidies to vote on joining the union. And before you say anything – yep, it’s “Just a vote”.  A vote the Democrats have already rigged with “daycare providers” who haven’t been in the business for years, but support the union.

LIBRELLE:  But have any daycare providers been pushed into a union?

BERG:  Um, no…

LIBRELLE:   Hah!  There is no forced unionization!

BERG:  Er, only because the courts slapped an injunction on it.  The DFL supported it…

LIBRELLE:  Nya nya nya, can’t hear you!  You also keep saying the DFL pushed through a “Senate Palace” at the last minute, spending – you allege – 90 million dollars on a Senate Office Building.

BERG:  They did!

LIBRELLE:  So where’s the building?

BERG:  It hasn’t been built yet.

LIBRELLE:  Ah hah!  So there is no Senate Palace!

BERG:  So what you’re saying is that until a Democrat policy is actually implemented, we can’t hold the DFL accountable for it?

LIBRELLE:  Obviously you hate womyn!

(And SCENE)

(The above exchange was closely modeled after several actual conversations with real DFLers)

 

One Day At “Independence” Party Headquarters

SCENE:  A Ramada Inn in Inver Grove Heights.  Outside the hotel, the letter-board sign says “Independence Party now accepting Applications to run for US Senate”.  The sign is subtitled “No Experience Necessary”.

Cut to inside a small meeting room inside the hotel.  Posters of Jesse Ventura and Dean Barkley prominently adorn the wall behind three people sitting at a long table.   

Mince MIETZ, a short scholarly-looking man in his thirties clad in an ill-fitting tweed jacket bearing a button identifying him as the “Independence” Party deputy director for protocol, is holding candidate screenings in a small conference room.  Along with MIETZ sits Verdana FONT, a serious-looking short-haired fifty-something woman in short hair and a peasant skirt.  She is the Indy Party’s secretary.  Lionel BULK, a sixtyish, professorial looking fellow with a meerchaum pipe and a bow tie, sits to their left.

MIETZ:  I call this meeting of the Independence Party US Senate Nominations Committee to order!

FONT: Excellent!

BULK:  Remember.  We’re going to stick to the Independence Party’s core principles!

FONT:  Right.  Speaking of which, Mince, would you read those to me so I can…

MIETZ:  (Yells out the door) Next!

(In the door walks Thorn THOMAS, a tidy, trim man of about sixty with horn-rimmed glasses in a houndstooth suit).

FONT: Have a seat, Mr. Thomas!

THOMAS:  (Softly). Thank you.

BULK:  So, Mr. Thomas – what’s your background, that would qualify you to run for the United States Senate?

THOMAS:  I was undersecretary of Commerce for Differential Tax Application Theory under the Carlson Administration.  In that capacity, I was in charge of calculating tax differentials based on abstruse accounting theories intended to find relationships between dissimilar cultural phenomenae and tax receipts.  Then, I formed a Public Relations agency, where I’ve mostly represented Minnesota social service non-profits.  I ran for Hennepin County Soil and Water Commission in 2004 as a non-partisan candidate endorsed by the Minnesota Federation of Teachers, the SEIU, ISAIAH and the Teamsters.  And I am a permanent, tenured adjunct at the Humphrey Center.

MIETZ:  Excellent.  So – what would be your platform if you were to get the Independence Party nomination to run against the GOP nominee?

BULK: Umm…

MIETZ: …and Al Franken.

THOMAS:  I believe in not just good government, but the best government.  I believe if we give government the people, money and respect it needs, everyone benefits.

(MIETZ, BULK and FONT confer briefly).

MIETZ:  Excellent, Mr. Thomas.  Thank you!  Please leave a resume and a head shot.

(THOMAS leaves a manila folder and leaves the room)

FONT:  Well, he certainly seems to be an homage to the Independence Party’s roots, a la Tim Penny and Dean Barkley!

MIETZ:  Yep.  I believe we could get behind him!  (Yells out door) Next!

(In the door walks Garth MULLER, former Vice Chair for Ideological Purity at the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian Party.  We walks in at the head of a bearded, bow-tied entourage of twenty-and-thirty-ish white males, many of whom are chuckling and giggling softly as they line up along the wall as MULLER takes his seat).

MIETZ:  And you are…?

MULLER:  I’m Garth Muller.  I’m an anarcho-libertarian.  I was a conservative Republican, but then I decided to support Ron Paul.  I now believe all parties are exactly identical, although I think the Independence Party is different (members of bearded, bow-tied retinue chuckle impulsively).

BULK:  Excellent.  So – your platform?

MULLER:  Abolish all government.  Make all human interactions voluntary.

FONT:  So…legalize everything.

MULLER:  No.  To “legalize” something implies we recognize the legitimacy of law in the first place.  Abolish law and all means to enforce it.  It’s all just a form of force inflicted on the people. 

FONT:  So you used to be a Republican…

MULLER:  Most of us used to be (a few scattered hisses break out among the entourage) but after what happened at the convention in 2012, I’ll never vote Republican again. 

MIETZ:  Thank you very much, Mr. Muller!  Please leave a resume and a head shot.  (MULLER’s entourage breaks out laughing at term “head shot” as they leave the room).

BULK:  In the 30 years I spent in the DFL, I never heard of such a thing.

MIETZ:  (sotto voce with a conspiratorial grin) Oh, I bet you have not, Lionel.  (To BULK):  Oh, I have.  Like a lot of disaffected Republicans.

FONT:  A lot?

MIETZ:  Enough!  No, he matches the Independence Party’s principles perfectly fine, too! OK – who’s next?

FONT:  Wait – Muller and Thomas were absolute opposites!  One was a Carlson Republican, and the other was so far out on the Libertarian wing that Ron Paul would probably tell him to take it easy…

MIETZ:  Yeah!   I know!

(Avery LIBRELLE walks into the room, leaves a resume and a head shot).

MIETZ:  And you are Avery Librelle?  Have a seat!

LIBRELLE:  I prefer to stand!

For the injustices we face are too great, the enemies that support them too entrenched, and the damange they are causing too horrible, for a thinking person to sit!  It is time to RISE!

(FONT dabs a tear from her eye.  So does BULK).

MIETZ:  So what prompts you to run on the Independence Party ticket?

LIBRELLE:  The needs – a strong social safety net, teachers that want for nothing, single payer healthcare, and equality for all – are needs that my mentor Paul Wellstone instilled in me from an impressionable age!

But then the DFL betrayed us, and I believe its time for a different party to…

MIETZ:  Oh, look at the time.  We’ll be in touch!

(LIBRELLE leaves the room).

FONT:  (wiping tears from her eyes).  What?  Librelle was perfect!

BULK:  Yes – that was a perfect encapsulation of what the Independence Party stood for back when it was founded!

MIETZ:  Well, yes.  But then the first two were even better!

FONT:  How so?

MIETZ:  You’re new at this, aren’t you?

BULK:  Well, I’m new to the Independence Party.

MIETZ:  Everyone is new to the Independence Party!   It’s like this…

(Gretel STROMBERG walks into the room.  The Executive Director of “Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes”, she is dressed in a low-cut black cocktail dress and a pair of strappy black high-heeled “talk politics to me” pumps)

(Without a word, STROMBERG slinks around behind BULK, who sits, speechlessly, as STROMBERG drags her black boa around his neck, breathing seductively in his ear.  She then leaves a box of chocolates in front of FONT, nibbles on MIETZ’ earlobe, and leaves a paper bag full of $20 bills labelled “Best Regards, “Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes; Don’t Show This Bag To The Campaign Finance Board!  XOXOXO, MUFAPC!” on the chair where the candidates had been)

(Then STROMBERG leaves, as quietly as she came, leaving only the scent of her perfume)

MIETZ:  So yeah.  I think MULLER matches our principles this year.

(And SCENE).

Anatomy Of The Liberal Argument

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting in a book store coffee shop with Adriana TROMP and Jamal BECKETT, two College Republican activists visiting from Wyoming and Texas, respectively.  The three are drinking coffee and engrossed in a conversation). 

BECKETT:  I find that hard to believe.

TROMP:  Yeah, me too.  You expect us to believe that all arguments with liberals follow the same exact template?

BERG: Of course not.  It’s arguments with 95% of liberals – I’m being generous – in one-party liberal cesspools like the Twin Cities, New York and Chicago.  They’re people who come from “progressive” families, come up through an educational system run by “progressive” academics and union workers, attend a college or university run by “progressives” where conservative dissent is actively squelched, and in many cases go on to work in institutions like government, academia or the non-profit sector where only “progressive” thought is ever heard. 

So, basically, arguments with that 95% of liberals go like this:  Stage 1:  The pat premise.  When that is contested, we move to Stage 2, the Single Round of Factoids.  These factoids are almost always taken from the current round of Democrat chanting points, and are pretty much inevitably debunked with countervailing fact.  Which leads us to Stage 3:  Frustrated deflection.  Desperate for anything to try to retain the supremacy to which they believe they are entitled, they’ll toss any rhetorical crap they can out there to deflect from the actual argument.  When called on it, they move to Stage 4:  The Ad Hominem.  At which point the argument is over. 

BECKETT:  It seems like a stretchy premise…

(BERG sees Avery LIBRELLE walking into the coffee shop.  He squelches his urge to look away and avoid LIBRELLE’s eye, but instead waves and beckons LIBRELLE to the table). 

BERG:  OK, watch this.  I’ll signal you the stages with my fingers.  OK?  (Waves at LIBRELLE, who has arrived at the table)  Avery Librelle!  Hi!  How ya doing!  This is Adriana Tromp and Jamal Beckett.  They’re college kids. 

LIBRELLE:  Ah!  May the spirit of Wellstone be with you this season.  And (looks at BECKETT) happy Kwanzaa to you!

BECKETT:  Um, we’re Methodists…

BERG:  Hey, the DFL is sure setting Minnesota up to botch things in the next year. 

LIBRELLE:  We have a billion dollar surplus, thanks to the DFL in the Legislature and governor’s office!

(BERG holds up one finger)

LIBRELLE:  Yes.  The DFL is #1.

BERG:  In the sense my elementary school teacher used, yes.  But that “surplus” is a $200 million increase in an $800 million surplus that the GOP racked up, on top of erasing a $6 Billion deficit, without raising taxes.  And the DFL hiked taxes $2 Billion to get that extra $200 million.  That’s not really a huge return on the investment. 

LIBRELLE:  Pfft.  Numbers are numbers.

(BERG holds up two fingers)

LIBRELLE: Yes.  Peace.

BERG:  But the worst of the DFL’s job, business and revenue-killing taxes, like the B2B and Warehouse taxes, haven’t even kicked in yet!   This is going to turn another epic deficit!

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah?  What were you doing when Tim Pawlenty ran up a six billion dollar deficit?  Huh?

(BERG holds up three fingers.  BECKETT nods, TROMP smiles in recognition).  Er, Avery?  The DFL controlled the legislature completely in 2009 and 2010.  The legislature passes the budget.  Pawlenty fought as hard as he could, but he couldn’t completely resist a two-chamber press of tax-and-spend DFLers.  The DFL passed that deficit, and spent the past four years trying to fob the blame onto Republicans. 

(Berg’s pinky finger twitches)

LIBRELLE:  You are ugly and stupid.

BERG, TROMP and BECKETT:  Four!  (They trade high-fives).

LIBRELLE:  You conservatives are sure weird.  (Ambles away, dribbling latte).

TROMP:  Is that a man or a woman?

BECKETT:  I can’t tell.

BERG:  Oh, that?  Well, it’s like this…

(And SCENE).

Big “L”, Small “L”

(SCENE:  at a chi-chi coffee shop in South Minneapolis.  Mitch BERG’s eyes go a little wide with sticker shock before he orders a light roast with room for cream and Splenda)

(As BERG turns to leave, he notices a table with three diners – Carpal POX, Garth MULLER and Viktor VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE.  He tries to slip out the door, but MULLER notices him).

MULLER:   Mitch!  Come over here! 

BERG:  OK.  (He puts his coffee on the table and sits).

Continue reading

One Day At “Minnesotans United For All Social Progressive Causes”

(SCENE:  at the offices of “Minnesotans United for All Social Progressive Causes”, a modest little 501c4 non-proft in the Griggs Building in Saint Paul, located on a hallway close by “Take Action Minnesota”, “ProtectMN” and a who’s who of other Minnesota social activism non-profits supported by liberals with deep pockets.   Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK and Avery LIBRELLE are sitting at Ikea desks across the aisle from each other.  BIRKENSTOCK looks depressed).

LIBRELLE:  What’s the matter, Moonbeam?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Oh, the usual.  Just worried about job security.

LIBRELLE:  Why?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Well, work in the non-profit field depends on having another cause that progressives with deep pockets are willing to pour big money into.

LIBRELLE:  Right.

BIRKENSTOCK:  And in a matter of two years, we not only stopped the Marriage Amendment, but passed Gay Marriage.

LIBRELLE:  Yay!

BIRKENSTOCK:  Right, yay.  But that’s a cause that should have taken years.  Like abortion – that’s been a steady gig for progressive activists for a couple of generations now.

LIBRELLE:  True.

BIRKENSTOCK:  But with the issue now a non-issue, that’s that many fewer jobs for people like us.

LIBRELLE:  Well, you could always sign on with Heather, down the hall at “ProtectMN”.  Lotsa money going into that group soon.

BIRKENSTOCK:  I thought about that.  But I’d have to deal with all those gun people.

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah.  I hear you.  They never just shut up and realize that they’re wrong.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Well, there’s that.  But it also depends on Heather not screwing the whole thing up.

(Both look at each other and break into laughter)

LIBRELLE:  OK, point taken.

BIRKENSTOCK:  It’s just that gay marriage was a major income generator for people like us.  I’m just afraid that some of us – maybe me, maybe some other Macalester poli-sci grad with no marketable job skills – might have to go out on…on…

LIBRELLE:  Say it…

BIRKENSTOCK:  …on…

LIBRELLE:  You’re among friends.

BIRKENSTOCK: The private sector.  (Chokes back a sob)

LIBRELLE: Hug it out.

(The two trade hug. BIRKENSTOCK sobs softly)

(Door opens and Gretel STROMBERG, Executive Director of MUFASPC, walks into the room carrying a thick file of paper).

STROMBERG:  Hey, everyone.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (un-hugging, sniffling a little)  Hi, Gretel

LIBRELLE:   Hi

STROMBERG:   Why the long face?

BIRKENSTOCK:   It’s the way I was born…   (Resumes sobbing)

LIBRELLE:  I think it’s a figure of speech, Moonbeam.  (To STROMBERG) We were just talking about how there might be fewer jobs in advocacy now that gay marriage is a done deal.

STROMBERG:  What? Oh, you two sillies.  Not a chance.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (stops sobbing) Huh?

LIBRELLE:  What’s up?

STROMBERG:   Oh, have no fear.  We have a new cause.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (Looks at papers).  Wow.

LIBRELLE:  See?

STROMBERG:  It’s all about love. We don’t discriminate against love.

BIRKENSTOCK and LIBRELLE: We don’t discriminate against love.

(And SCENE)

They Don’t Give You Any Choice, Cuz They Think That It’s Treason

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG climbs out of his car and fishes a big gym bag full of firearms and ammo out of the back seat.  He walks toward the front door of the firing range – and notices Avery LIBRELLE, walking, alone, with a picket sign.  The sign says “A Millian Americans Are Picketting This Gun Rang”.  BERG hides his face, and tries to time his approach while LIBRELLE is walking the other way – but a piece of shiny tinfoil attracts LIBRELLE’s attention back toward BERG).

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!

BERG:  Oh…uh, hi, Avery. What’s new?

LIBRELLE:  I think MoveOn.Org has the right idea!  It’s time to start arresting teabaggers for sedition!

BERG:  Sedition?

LIBRELLE: Speaking out against the government!

BERG: I know what sedition is. That’s not what the House Republicans or Cruz or Paul did. 

LIBRELLE: The “Affordable Care Act” is the law!  And the law is the manifestation of government!   And if you oppose The Law, you oppose Government, meaning you oppose the will of The People!

BERG:  Well, no.  The GOP majority in the House carried out the House’s Constitutional duty to take care of the nation’s purse-strings – a job for which the voters of this country gave them the majority at the polls in 2010 and 2012. 

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, but the people also elected President Obama twice. He is the government, and his laws are the laws of the land, the revealed word of the people!

BERG:  The President is not “the government”.  The government is the executive branch – the President and his staff and the rest of the bureaucracy – the Legislative branch, and the judicial branch, and - don’t forget this – all of the checks and balances in between all of them. 

LIBRELLE: Well, the “Affordable Care Act” is now the law.

BERG:  So?  The First Amendment says we have the right to free speech, to assemble, and to petition to seek redress of grievances.  Which is, in every particular, what the Tea Party is and always has been. 

LIBRELLE:  What are you, a constitutional scholar?  I’m pretty sure those are all collective rights, just like the Second Amendment. 

BERG:  What now?

LIBRELLE:  Anyway – Obamacare is the law, which means it’s the will of the people, and the government IS the people, so fighting the law is fighting the people.  “Sedition” is probably the nicest word for it.

BERG:  Again – what now?

LIBRELLE:  I’d call it “Treason”.

BERG:  “Treason?”  Actively betraying your country to an enemy in wartime?

LIBRELLE:  Yep.  This country’s been at war against poverty since the sixties.  Obamacare fights poverty.  Undercutting the people in the War on Poverty IS betraying your country in wartime.  That’s the very definition of treason!  We should sic the military on all of you!

BERG:  Huh.  The military.   (Takes stick of gum from pocket, unwraps it, pops gum in mouth).

LIBRELLE:  Tanks.  Choppers.  Whatever it takes. 

BERG:  To preserve democracy.

LIBRELLE:   Yep. 

BERG:  Huh. 

(BERG drops shiny tinfoil wrapper onto the ground.  LIBRELLE chases it, allowing BERG to make his escape).

(And SCENE).

Someday Soon In Trenton

(SCENE:  In the rotunda of the New Jersey state capitol in Trenton, at the swearing-in ceremony for Corey BOOKER, new junior Senator from Exit 18 on the Garden State Parkway.  BOOKER is being sworn in by Governor Chris CHRISTIE, in a ceremony attended by a clot of various Jersey dignitaries).

(Fade in on CHRISTIE administering the last part of the oath of office)

BOOKER:  “…to the best of my ability, so help me Sinatra”. 

(Round of applause as BOOKER waves to the audience and CHRISTIE steps back to the dignitary seating.  BOOKER steps to the mike).

BOOKER:  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause dies down).  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

(Audience trades glances as hall falls silent).

BOOKER:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thanks.  Thanks.

(Audience stirs)

BOOKER:  Thanks.  First, I want to thank Governor Christie for giving me the most eloquent introduction since the one I gave at the funeral of my old friend, T-Bone the Crack Dealer.  He became a close confidante after trying to kill me with a chain saw after he accused me of cheating at cards in a pick-up 3-card monte game at a casino at Atlantic City in between rounds of my World Series of Poker championship, where I was partying with Kim Kardashian and her father Robert, talking about the time I held a dying Nicole Simpson in my arms after she was shot by Biggie Smalls.    T-Bone told me “You are without a doubt the most competent, sensitive, and yet totally boss brother in history”,  just before I hit my four million dollar jackpot.   And then hit it with…Amy Adams.  Yeah, that’s the ticket. 

Not since I was governor of Philadelphia have I felt such a sense of profound calling…

CHRISTIE:  (Sotto voce) Er, Senator?  You were mayor.  Of Newark.

BOOKER:  Er…really?  Newark?

CHRISTIE:  Yes. 

BOOKER:  Are you sure?

CHRISTIE:  Yep. 

BOOKER:  I need a second opinion. Mr. Springsteen?

SPRINGSTEEN: Yep.  Newark.

BOOKER:  You wrote “Rosalita” about me, didn’t you?

SPRINGSTEEN:  (stares blankly, mouth moving, but no sound coming out)

BOOKER:  And about that city with the giant Exxon sign?

SPRINGSTEEN:  Er – that was “Jungleland”

BOOKER:  You wrote “Jungleland” about me?  And T-Bone?

CHRISTIE (Sotto Voce to an aide) Maybe Booker was “Eddie” in “Meeting Across the River”

BOOKER:  Anyway – not since I was archduke of Manhattan have I…

CHRISTIE (exasperated): Mayor of Newark!

BOOKER (impatient):  Are you sure?  Newark?  Really?

CHRISTIE:  Really!

BOOKER:  What state is that in?

(And SCENE)

Cataclysm

(SCENE:  MITCH Berg is leaving the gym.  He runs into Avery LIBRELLE, who is walking into a group Twerking class. MITCH tries to duck behind a shoulder press machine, but LIBRELLE sees him).

LIBRELLE:  ZOMG!   Tom Emmer did an ad for a remodeling company!

MITCH:  Right.  And his manager says it’s a mistake – a testimonial that was never intended for broadcast, that got broadcast!  And if you’ve seen the production value, it sure seems plausible…

LIBRELLE:  It ain’t the crime!  It’s the coverup!

MITCH:   What coverup?

LIBRELLE:  They had to wait for Aaron Rupar at the City Pages to cover it before they’d comment!

MITCH:  Aaron Rupar?

LIBRELLE:   Yes.

MITCH:  Aaron RUPAR?

LIBRELLE:  Yes…well…

MITCH:  Spill it.

LIBRELLE:  OK.  He’s just repeating what Sally Jo Sorenson writes.

MITCH:  And?

LIBRELLE:  Like usual.

MITCH:  We’ve talked about this before.

LIBRELLE:  I know.  Anyway – This probably violates campaign finance laws!

MITCH:   Says who?

LIBRELLE:   Sally Jo Sorenson.

MITCH:   Huh.  Well, on the one hand, pretty much everything you do, and everything you don’t do, violates one campaign finance law or another.  Campaign finance laws are mainly designed to protect incumbents.  They make campaigning a niggling, nonsensical regulatory maze, full of arbitrary restrictions on free speech.

LIBRELLE:  But it keeps money out of politics!

MITCH:  No, it doesn’t!

LIBRELLE:   Yes it does!

MITCH:  How?

LIBRELLE:  It’s the law!

MITCH:  Right.  So the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which alone outspent the GOP candidate in 2010, doesn’t spend money?

LIBRELLE:  That’s different.  Unions are The People.

MITCH:  Oh, for the love of…

LIBRELLE:  The laws keep big money from influencing campaigns.

MITCH:  Clearly they work wonders.

LIBRELLE:  Of course!

MITCH:  So here’s a question:  who’s paying Sally…

LIBRELLE:  …whoah, look at the time.  Gotta get to class! (LIBRELLE dashes into room).

(And SCENE)

Somewhere In The Moral Swamps Of Jersey

(SCENE:  A darkened alley in Newark, New Jersey, on a dark, drizzly April evening.  A broken down school bus full of inner city middle-schoolers returning from a trip to the ballet in New York sits by the side of a dismal road, steam rising from its up-tilted hood, in front of a deserted chemical plant.  The driver, a cute, plucky Puerto Rican single mother of three named Maria LOPEZ, looks under the hood along with passerby Tobias “Wang Dang Doodle” JACKSON, a grizzled 60-something black man in a porkpie hat and a worn black suit.  Mitch BERG pulls up, driving a rented Ford Focus, and climbs out to try to render assistance, carrying a cell phone and a nearly empty bottle of lemon-lime Powerade).

BERG:  Can I help?  Has anyone called a tow or anything yet?

LOPEZ:  I called the police, the district and a wrecker, but there won’t be any help coming for at least an hour.

JACKSON:  Those infernal garages aren’t what they used to be. 

BERG:  OK.  Well, maybe we can figure out what’s wrong here…

(A black BMW sedan pulls up beside the bus.  Out pops a dapper African-American man, who walks briskly to the bus).

MAN:  Hi.  I’m Corey Booker, and I’m the mayor of Newark. 

LOPEZ:  Hello, Mister Mayor!

BOOKER:  Hi.  We don’t have much time.  The CIA just called me.  A band of Serbian narcotraficantes are apparently en route from the docks in Elizabeth to pick up several drums of methamphetamine stored in that disused chemical factory, and they’re not above killing everyone that gets in their way.

BERG:  Isn’t this a job for the police?

BOOKER:  They’re all busy.  It’s up to us. 

BERG:  I hate it when that happens.

JACKSON:  Newark police are, let us say, sub-optimal. 

BOOKER:  Be that as it may, we’re going to have to get these children out of the way before the Serbian narcotraficantes get here and kill everyone in their path.  You, maam, and you, sir (points to LOPEZ and JACKSON), start walking those kids to safety in that community center on the other side of that culvert.  You, sir (points to BERG) and I need to divert them to provide cover. 

BERG:  Er…OK. 

(LOPEZ and JACKSON start to herd the kids out of the bus and into the ditch).

LOPEZ:  Hurry, kids!

JACKSON: Remember, gentlemen – fire and movement!

(In the distance, a pair of panel vans stop and disgorge 20 Serbian narcotraficantes,all carrying AK47 assault rifles.  They form a skirmish line and start charging toward the bus.  Scattered shots ring out as the line moves forward.  LOPEZ and JACKSON start the children running in single file down the ditch by the side of the road as a few sparks fly from the bus’ chassis).

BOOKER:  You flank them to the right.  I’ll draw their fire. 

BERG:  Flank them with what?  Your state’s idiotic gun laws bar me from bringing my legal handgun, much less something I can use against…

BOOKER:  GO!

(BOOKER springs to the left, waving his arms wildly.  BERG, nonplussed, crawls to the right and crosses the road.  The Serbian narcotraficantes fire picks up and their charge gathers speed, as they yell “get the meth!  get the meth!” in Serbian)

(BOOKER dodges incoming bullets in a complex, acrobatic display that makes The Matrix look like that old SNL “Bears Fans” sketch.  An RPG fires, the rocket tracing an angry red slash across the field.  BOOKER catches the rocket by the tail and throws it back at the Serbian narcotraficantes; it explodes, sending several Serbs diving for cover as others blaze away at the Mayor).

(Berg, in the meantime, as closed the gap with the Serbs, who are focused on blazing away at Mayor BOOKER.  Having no weapon, he looks around, and sees a puddle of New Jersey rainwater.  He ducks down and starts filling the Powerade bottle).

(Two more RPG rounds rocket toward the Mayor.  He catches them, cross-handed, just before they’d have impacted his chest, and in a grandiose double-pirouette, throws both rounds back at the Serbs.  One splashes into the mud at the feet of Branko SLRBÇ, the leader of the Serb narcotraficantes.

SLRBÇ (yelling in Serb with subtitles):  Is this even plausible?

(The round explodes, and SLRBÇ vanishes in a gout of gore and flame). 

(The second round slams into the grill of the first of the narcotraficantes’ vans, exploding it in a gout of flame.  The rest of the Serbs go to ground, panicked and pinned down).

(BERG caps the bottle of New Jersey rainwater, and with a mighty heave, throws it at the second van, which explodes into brilliant blue and green flames).

(The surviving Serbs get up and run back up the road toward their rally point, a giant Exxon sign which, unfortunately for them, gives the local cops plenty of light by which to apprehend them).

BERG (soaking wet, walks back to Booker, who is somehow still dry):  Wow.  How did you do that?

BOOKER (As police cars pull up all around them)  It’s all in a days work for the Mayor of Newark

(BOOKER tips his hat and climbs into his car, and – notwithstanding that a dark cloudy night fell over two hours earlier – drives into the sunset as LOPEZ, soaking wet, walks back up the freeway.  She and BERG look at each other, drenched, before embracing in a passionate kiss as the camera pulls back to a wide shot of the full post-battle vista).

(And SCENE)

Unbelieveably Small

(SCENE: MITCH is driving down Thomas Avenue in Saint Paul, heading for the glamorous part of the street, when his phone rings.  He looks; the Caller ID on the screen says “Avery LIBRELLE”).

MITCH:  (Sotto voce) Criminy.  Not Avery again.

(MITCH picks up the phone):  Hello?

LIBRELLE: Mitch?  I need you to come down to the courthouse and bail me out of jail.

MITCH:   Jail? Huh?  What happened?

LIBRELLE:  Well, Mitch, I shot a gun.  At a person.

MITCH:  Huh?  You hate guns.  You are a gun-control activist.  You don’t even own a gun…

LIBRELLE:  I know.  It was one of yours.

MITCH:  Back up.  What?

LIBRELLE:  It was your gun.

MITCH:  (Visiblly confused, pulling his car over to the curb in front of the “Prada On Thomas” boutique)  OK, this is getting weird.  How did you get a gun from me?

LIBRELLE:  I was at your house.

MITCH:  WHAT?

LIBRELLE:  I needed some coconut oil, so I used that key that you used to leave hidden outside for your kids.

MITCH:  What the…that disappeared years ago.

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, but you weren’t using it.

MITCH:  Well, not right at that moment, because I was at work.

LIBRELLE:  Well, it was for A Better Minnesota.  Anyway – we’re getting side-tracked here.   I was digging through your pantry when I saw a couple of people cutting through your neighbor’s yard.  I hate it when people do that, so I figured I’d send them a message.

MITCH:  (Pulled over to the side of the road)  You WHAT?

LIBRELLE:  I opened your gun safe and took out that little cowboy gun.  I figured I’d send a message.

MITCH:  Oh, for the love of…my .22 revolver?

LIBRELLE:  Whatever.  I figure that sending a message would punish them.  So I went out on your back stoop and yelled “NEVER WALK THROUGH PEOPLES’ YARDS AGAIN!”, and pointed the gun sort of at them, but not very close, and squeezed the trigger.

MITCH:  I…I…I can’t believe this…

LIBRELLE:   Either could I.  The “Kick”, I think you call it, almost broke my hand.

MITCH:  So to warn off someone walking through a back yard…

LIBRELLE:  Yep

MITCH:  …that was not mine…

LIBRELLE:  Yep.

MITCH:  …you broke into my house, took my gun, and shot at them?

LIBRELLE:  Yes.  But in my defense, it did look like an unbelievably small gun.

MITCH:  Criminy, Avery.  Lethal force is one of those things that you only use when the danger to you is immediate and and lethal.  And you never point a gun at someone or something you don’t intend to destroy. 

LIBRELLE:  But they crossed a red line!

MITCH:  What red line?

LIBRELLE:  The one I was thinking as I watched them cross into your neighbor’s property.

MITCH:  Using lethal force is something you can only do if your life is in immediate threat of death or great bodily harm!  Not to “send a message”.  And if the force you use is “unbelieveably small”, then – any County Attorney will tell you – the threat to you must not have been all that big in the first place.  There are other ways to deal with threats aren’t immediately lethal to you

LIBRELLE:   Bla bla bla.  Are you going to bail me out for A Better Minnesota or what?  Because we need to talk about the public health threat your guns pose to us neighbors.

(And SCENE)

Somewhere Over Syria, September, 2013

(SCENE:  The cockpit of a US Navy F-18 Super Hornet strike fighter.  The plane, loaded with JDAM precision-guided bombs, flies through the clear desert skies as the camera closes in on the PILOT).

PILOT:  “Cobra Two Five, On Station”

CONTROLLER (flying in an AWACS plane over the eastern Mediterranean):  “Welcome to Syria, Cobra Two Five.  We’ve got an air support call from “ABU”.  Go ahead, Abu”

ABU: (mildly distorted, on the radio) “This is Abu Fuad Hadji Al-Ramshish.  We are trying to advance through Al-Khebab, and there is a group of government tanks blocking the way”.

PILOT:  “Copy, I’m five minutes out…hey, wait.  Abu Fuad Hadji Al-Ramshish?

ABU:  “That is correct”

PILOT:  “Didn’t a bunch of Marines call me in on an ground support strike against you near Fallujah back in 2005?  Weren’t you an Al Quaeda commander?”

ABU:  “Why yes!  I thought you sounded familiar, Cobra Two Five!  Call sign…er…Mobster?”

PILOT:  “Er, yes.  Wow.  So you’ve switched…”

ABU:  “Oh, merciful heavens, no.  Your bomb missed me, I left Iraq, I got promoted, did a tour in Afghanistan…”

PILOT:  “Hey, me too…”

ABU:  “…and now I’m here”.

PILOT:  “Well, I’ll be”.

ABU:  “Small world, isn’t it?”

PILOT:  “And now I’m flying air support for…uh…”

ABU:  “For me, an Al Quaeda operative.  That is correct.”

PILOT:  “Huh.  OK.  Well, Cobra Two Five, I’m at the IP”

CONTROLLER:  “Weapons Free, Cobra Five, clear to go hot”

ABU:  “Good shooting, Mobster.  And then die, American infidel pig dog”.

Bocialists

(SCENE:  A lecture room at an esteemed university.  As 30-odd students take their seats and set up their laptops, Professor Evelyn MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS welcomes an older man, Avram COHEYN – a frail 80-something man with thin white hair covered by a Yarmulke.  COHEYN sits on a chair next to the professor’s podium.

MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS:  Class?  (Din gradually subsides).  I’d like to welcome Mr. Avram Coheyn to the class.  He’s a native of Poznan – do I have that right? (COHEYN smiles and nods), and he’ll be talking with us about his experiences in the Holocaust.  I’d like  you to give him your undivided attention, and come up with some good questions for him at the end of his talk.  Mr. Coheyn? 

(Class applauds politely as COHEYN rises)

COHEYN (speaks with faint Polish-Yiddish accent):  Thank you, Professor Munchenberg-Scroggins.  And to all of you, also, my thanks.  I am Avram Coheyn.  In Sosnowiec, Poland I was born, in 1929.  And from 1941 through 1945, in a variety of concentration camps I was kept.  By the Nazis…

(Corey KRETINOWSKI, a 21-year-old political science major, leaps to his feet).

KRETINOWSKI:  Godwin’s Law!  

COHEYN: (Stops, puzzled).

KRETINOWSKI:  Godwin’s Law!  He mentioned Nazis!  (MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS shifts uncomfortably in her seat)

COHEYN:  Er – what is this “Godwin’s Law” of which you speak?  Of this I have not heard…

(Jane PLATT-WANCKER, a severe-looking 22 year old anthropology major, rises): “It’s a law on the internet or something.  When you mention the Nazis  you get banned”

(Ian BIMMLER, a 21 year old Victimology Studies major in a “Che” T-Shirt):  It’s the law that says when an argument goes along, there’s going to be someone who wrecks it with a Nazi reference”

KRETINOWSKI:  So, dude, your argument is shut down because you mentioned the Nazis.

COHEYN:  Er…what?

(Stacy KREEFELD, a 21 year old Womyn’s Studies major with a “Question Authority” button on her Mao cap):  I think it means that your argument is done.

KRETINOWSKI:  Whenever you mention Nazis, everyone gets to tune you out because mentioning Nazis means you don’t have an argument!

(A few students clap, while a few others look on, confused, and others stare blankly at their desktops)

(Bree EPSTEIN, a 20 year old Sociology major, speaks up):  Mr. Coheyn, I don’t mean to lecture, but perhaps you should try to tell your story without any references to Nazis.  It might make your argument better.

COHEYN:  An argument?  What is this, argument?  I’m telling my story!  When I was 13 year old, my family and I were rousted from our home in Poznan, and force-marched through the cold to the railyard, and packed onto trains by the Nazis…

(KRETINOWSKI, KREEFELD and BIMMLER simultaneously yell): Godwin’s Law!  Godwin’s Law!

COHEYN: What?

KREEFELD:  You keep mentioning Nazis!  Godwins Law says that means whatever you’re saying is invalid!

COHEYN:  What?  What is this madness?  Do you mean that saying the name of the…(catches himself)…National Socialist German Workers’ Party (a few students trade puzzled looks) means I get you crazy kids yelling “Godwin whatsis” at me?  This do I have right?

(A few students nod). 

COHEYN:  When I was 15, I escaped from a concentration camp.  A year in the woods I spent, fighting with the Partisans, fighting so that what we went through, my children and their children and my childrens children freynde would never forget – and now, to me you say I can’t say “Nazi”…

(Several students): “Godwin’s Law!”  (A few titters of juvenile mirth follow)

COHEYN: …without your verkachte yapping?  Distinguished professor Munchenberg-Scroggins, for this you have to say what?

MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS (Looks up from iPhone):  I can see both sides, here. 

BIMMLER (Shouts):  This is what democracy looks like!

(A few students clap and cheer). 

COHEYN:  What?  Millions died, my family along with – and because of some stupid internet rule, their names I can not mention? 

(Students fidget, looking amongst themselves)

COHEYN:  Because from what happened there are probably some things we can learn!  That there are things we, today, can learn about that ordeal, do you not see?  Huh?

(More fidgeting)

COHEYN:  With this I am finished! 

(COHEYN stomps from the room, as the shadows and sun form, completely at random, a series of shapes on the window that read “While invoking Nazis can be lazy rhetoric, lazy invocations of “Godwin’s Law” are, if anything, a bigger hurdle to effective communication, in that they give the invoker an unearned sense of intellectual accomplishment” before disappearing. )

(And SCENE)

August 1, 2018

SCENE: MITCH runs into Avery LIBRELLE at a bar. It is August 1, 2018. LIBRELLE is slumped, clearly intoxicated, nursing an Appletini.  Four empty Appletini glasses are arrayed on the table. 

MITCH: Wow, Avery. Kinda tying one on, are we?

LIBRELLE: (Mumbles)

MITCH: What’s the matter?

LIBRELLE: Ummmm…I don’t even know. Feeling…disillusioned?

MITCH: (Orders a Smythwicks) Why?

LIBRELLE: Remember all those gay couples who got married five years ago today?

MITCH: The ones that got all the non-stop media coverage? Hard to forget.

LIBRELLE: Well, the statistics show they have…(chokes back a sob)

MITCH: They have what?

LIBRELLE: The…same divorce rate as breeders!

MITCH: Right.

LIBRELLE: And some turned out to be awful spouses! Just like…

MITCH: Go ahead, say it.

LIBRELLE: Just like breeders!

MITCH: I know.  On Cops the other night they showed an episode where the cops intervened in a gay domestic at a trailer park in Mobile Alabama.  As they dragged a woman wearing sweats off to the car, another woman can out of the house yelling “I love you, Ashley!  I’ll be down to bail you out…”, just like…(Notices LIBRELLE is sobbing quietly) – Hey, buck up little camper. Didn’t you all figure gay people were pretty much just like people? 

LIBRELLE: (Angry) NO! They were supposed to show breeders what real love was!  Because they were marrying for love! 

MITCH: Yeah, but wasn’t that an absurd expectation…

LIBRELLE: How could something that so pissed off wingnuts and the Catholic Church be so…

MITCH: Ordinary?

LIBRELLE:  Yes!  (Head starts to wobble a bit)

MITCH:  So you were actually under the impression that gays were better, more virtuous people because the state hadn’t conferred the right to marry on them? 

LIBRELLE:  Right.  Oppression equals nobility!  Everyone knows that!

MITCH:  Unless they’re gun owners in Chicago, conservatives on campus, or vendors of faith who are dragged into court by gay couples for whose weddings they conscientiously object to providing services?

LIBRELLE:  (before even a beat has passed) Right.

MITCH:  Look, Avery – marriage is a very difficult thing.  It’s about completely wrapping your life around and about another person, and usually eventually a bunch of little people, and figuring out how to focus your life on someone else, ideally without completely losing yourself, although that’s way down the list of priorities.  It’s about realizing you’re not the most important thing in the world anymore.  I’m no expert - and I’ve got the court paperwork to prove it - but whether you’re gay or straight, it’s not just about having a fabulous ceremony and a cool honeymoon, and least of all about making a political and social statement to other people.  In fact, getting married to show someone else, whether it’s your parents or your ex or the rest of society or even yourself, may be the worst of the “bad reasons” that people get married for…

(MITCH notices LIBRELLE has passed out.  He puts a $20 on the table, motions to the bartender, and walks away).

(And SCENE)

Conversations I Hope I Hear Someday

WOMAN:  You’re “mansplaining”. 

GUY: Huh?

WOMAN: “Mansplaining”.  When a guys gives a condescending and inaccurate explanation that the assumption that I’m entirely ignorant on the subject matter or topic.

GUY:  You are utterly ignorant of the subject matter and topic.  Our discussion has shown you haven’t the foggiest clue about the subject.  90 degrees removed from literacy.

WOMAN: You’re doing it again.  You’re mansplaining.

GUY: You’re being a whineanist.  You need to unisexshushupandlearnsomething.

(And SCENE)

One Day Whilst Riding The Ventura Trolley

SCENE:  MITCH is sitting on the light rail, heading from the Mall of American downtown to a Twins game. 

At Bloomington Station stop, Avery LIBRELLE, Cat SCAT and Gutterball GARY get on the train.  MITCH turns toward the window and dons sunglasses, but LIBRELLE notices him.  The three amble to him, stumbling awkwardly as the train starts moving, and sit surrounding him even though the car is otherwise empty. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Mitch.  You racists won.  Hope you’re proud of yourself. 

MITCH:  Um…if I ask “what are you talking about?”, would that imply I actually want to know?  Because I’m not sure…

SCAT:  George Zimmerman was acquitted.  It proves the system is racist. 

MITCH:  Um…huh?

LIBRELLE:  The case was entirely about race!

GARY:  Yeah!  Yeah!  All about race!

MITCH:  Neither the prosecutors nor the defense ever mentioned race during the case. 

SCAT:  Well, the 911 call proved that Zimmerman attacked in a racist fury. 

GARY:  Yeah!  Yeah!  Fury!

MITCH:  Listen to the audio yourself.  He sounded disgusted, depressed and dejected.  All of the pique came from the prosecution and media’s slanted reading of the transcript. 

LIBRELLE:  Zimmerman called Martin a “f****ng coon”

GARY: Yeah!  Yeah!  Rage!  Ragey wingnut!

MITCH:   No, he said it was “f****ng cold”. 

GARY:  Yeah, “right”. 

SCAT:  Zimmerman contradicted his own story. 

GARY:  Yeah!  Yeah!  Counterdicted! 

MITCH: Not according to the Sanford police chief, who said his story held up entirely through multiple rounds of questioning. 

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, well, he was a wannabe cop who disobeyed a police order not to follow Martin. 

GARY: Hah!  Yeah!  Police order, stupid Right-wing nut job!

MITCH:  There was no police order.  A dispatcher is not a cop, and can’t give orders. 
When Zimmerman said he was going to follow Martin, the dispatcher said “we don’t need you to do that”.  It was vague, and it was utterly non-binding. 

SCAT:  Martin had every right to be on the street.

GARY:  Yeah! Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!

MITCH:  Right.  So did Zimmerman. 

LIBRELLE:  Huh? 

MITCH: Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, too. 

LIBRELLE:  Not if he was stalking Martin. 

GARY:  Yeah !  Stalker!

MITCH:  “Stalking” is a pretty loaded term.  He was following.  Advisable?  Maybe, maybe not, but not remotely illegal. 

SCAT:  But he was acting like a wannabe cop. 

GARY:  Wannabe!  Wannabe!

MITCH: That’s a pejorative interpretation of Zimmerman’s long-past behavior.  There’s no law in wanting to act like a cop, in any case.  And, er, how someone “acts” doesn’t justify being assaulted and having ones head bashed into the ground like some kind of MMA fight.

LIBRELLE:  He had a round in his chamber, the hammer cocked and the safety off!

GARY: Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!  Round off and safety in the chamber!

MITCH: Um, just about everyone who carries a firearm carries a round in the chamber.  Including every single person with a revolver.  And let me ask you – who told you the “safety was off and the hammer was cocked”?

SCAT:  It’s just facts!

GARY:  Yeah ! Yeah!  Yeah!  Stupid wingnut!  Facts!

MITCH:  Right, the KelTec 9mm that Zimmerman carried has no cockable hammer, and no safety catch.  It’s a “double action only” pistol; the hammer only cocks when you squeeze the trigger.  There’s no need for a safety, so there is none.   I know this from years of familiarity with KelTec pistols. 

LIBRELLE:  The injuries Zimmerman suffered aren’t consistent with being punched.

GARY:  Yeah!   Yeah!  Yeah!

MITCH:  Right, but they are consistent with being beaten against a cement sidewalk. 

SCAT:  This case is proof that “Stand your Ground” laws are racist. 

GARY:  Yeah!  Racisss!  Yeah!

MITCH:  “Stand your Ground” was never at issue, since the Defense showed that retreat was never an option; they didn’t even opt to go for a “Stand your Ground” hearing, since the law didn’t apply to this case.  Not even a little bit. 

LIBRELLE: …

SCAT: …

GARY:  …

MITCH: How about those Twins?

(TRAIN stops at Franklin Avenue.  SCAT, LIBRELLE and GARY abruptly get up and climb off the train, which pulls away as the three’s eyes all go wide with fear). 

LIBRELLE (receding into distance as train pulls away) Hey!  Where’s the 331 Club? 

And SCENE