Imminent Domain

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is in the lobby of the AMC Arden Hills, waiting to see “Godzilla Vs. Ayn Rand”.  Stainding coincidentally in front of BERG are several members of the Minnesota 5th Congressional District LIbertarian Party;  Stephanie Marie ANNAN, Community organizer,Garth MULLER, the Vice Chair for Ideological Purity, Carpal POX,  the deputy chair,Victor VON SCLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE, Vice Chair for Education, and Anarchy GOATEEMONGER, inreach director.    The group is talking; BERG is reluctantly overhearing the conversation. 

GOATEEMONGER:  Today in class, my kid told the teacher “Taxation is theft!”.

(General hooting and backslapping ensues).

ANNAN:  You are such a good dad!

MULLER:  Next he’ll be telling them to Vote Harder!

(More backslapping).

GOATEEMONGER:  Right!  And you won’t believe this; the teacher asked him who was going to build the roads!

(Generalized guffawing ensues)

SCHLIEFFENGERG-MOLTKE:  Hah!  Roads!

BERG:  So Mr. Goateemonger – what did your kid answer?

ANNAN:   Here!  Have some more government!~

(More hooting and back-slapping)

MULLER:  Hey, look!  Only government can wipe my butt!

(Broad har-di-harring)

BERG:  Er…so did your kid answer?

POX:  I read an article the other day that says fusion-powered hovercars are right around the corner.  It’s going to be a non-issue any day now.

(Vigorous head-nodding ensues).

SCHLIEFFENGERG-MOLTKE (affecting a constipated sounding voice):  Vote harder!  Vote harder!

(The laughter is becoming brweathless)

BERG:  So – did the kid ever…y’know…answer?

ANNAN: Roads!

(IMore guffawing follows)

BERG  Nothing?

(And SCENE)

The Right People

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is waiting to see the movie “Darkest Hour” at a local theater.  Avery LIBRELLE, walking out of a showing of “Brokeback Mountain Part 2:  The Payback”, notices BERG before he notices…er, LIBRELLE.  

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!

BERG:  Er, hey, Avery.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  Guns are out of control!  The US has the highest murder rate of any industrIalized country!

BERG:  Well, for starters, that’s not true – Brazil and Russia and South Africa have much higher murder rates than we do.  But I’m curious – why do you limit it to “industralized” countries?   Because the US murder rate, overall, is 94th in the world, per capita.   Which is waaaaay down in the middle of the pack.  Mexico and Russia’s murder rates are twice as nigh; Brazil’s five times; South Africa’s, seven times higher than ours.

LIBRELLE:   But you should only compare apples to apples?

BERG:  Why?  When it comes to murder rates, what logical sense does that make?  I mean, I know why your side does it – but why do you think that is?

LIBRELLE:  You tell me!

BERG:   Because Big Left only cares about dead white people.   That’s why you never hear “gun safety” advocates talking about crime in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, the US Virgin Islands or Brazil, anymore than you do about places like  Chicago, Newark, Camden, Baltimore, Saint Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Stockton or Oakland.

LIBRELLE:  Why would we talk about the murder rate in Chicago, Newark, Camden, Baltimore, Saint Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Stockton or Oakland?   We should compare apples and apples.

BERG  They’re in America.

LIBRELLE:  Are they?

BERG:  (Stares vacaintly for a moment).  Interesting point.

LIBRELLE:  Rethugs are so stupid.

(And SCENE)

 

In The Money!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG steps out onto his porch to bring in his mail – and is startled to see Avery LIBRELLE looking over the envelopes. 

BERG:  Um, Avery?  What the…

LIBRELLE: Merg!  Venezuela is raising its minimum wage! If they can do it, why can’t we?

BERG:  The “increase” is meaningless.  Just like the ones in the US.

LIBRELLE:  They benefit those who need it most!  The poorest and most vulnerable!

BERG:   Let me ask you this, Avery.  Let’s say that I give you coupons, in payment for waving a sign around at a rally.  Those coupons can be used for one thing – to get mint tea at Whole Foods.

LIBRELLE:  Mmm. . Whole Foods.

BERG:  Right.  Now, I give you two coupons.   One for every four hours of sign waving.

LIBRELLE:  OK.

BERG: But Alida Messinger gives you four coupons.   That’s a coupon every two hours.

LIBRELLE:  I’ll work for Alida.

BERG: Right.  But Whole Foods only has one bag of mint tea left in the store.  At all.  How many coupons is it going to cost?

LIBRELLE:  I don’t get it.

BERG:   You have coupons good for tea.  But there is no tea.  So all your coupons are are pieces of paper given to you in exchange for a day of waving signs.

LIBRELLE:  The correct answer, then, is that my labor – sign-waving – is of intrinsic value, and should be rewarded with tea.

BERG:  Not to Whole Foods, it’s not.    The coupons are just pieces of paper exchangaed for slices of time you spent, er, working.  The sign didn’t get waved twice as much, or twice as hard, or… (looks at LIBRELLE) twice as effectively.  You just got more slips of paper.  But the tea is all gone.

LIBRELLE:  Right, but I still have three more coupons!

BERG:  Which are of no value.  Like the 40% “pay raise” in worthless money that the Venezuelan “poor” will get out of this “raise”.

LIBRELLE: But when they throw off the shackles of the international capistalists, they’ll all be rich!

BERG: Right.  Just like you’ll have three bags of tea when the truck finally arrives at Whole Foods.  Hey – why are you on my porch.

LIBRELLE:  Just checking for thoughtcrime.

(And SCENE)

Ripped From The Fictional Headlines

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Scene:  a cluttered office, a fat, balding man chewing a cigar, reading a script and scowling at it.  A young man steps into the doorway and raps on the door, three times, quickly.

Writer:  Boss, I’ve got a great idea for a new show.  It’s a political thriller, got action, intrigue, it’s great.

Boss:  Yeah?  Siddown and lay it out for me.

Boss tosses the script he was reading onto his desk and leans back in his chair, studying the young man.  Young man sits down, butt on the edge of the seat, and leans forward, speaking eagerly

Writer:  okay, there’s the guy, see?  And he works for the FBI.  He’s a true patriot, he hates the way the country is going and he wants to help a good candidate get elected.  He makes a donation like everybody in the office, but he wants to do more.  All the sudden, he finds himself assigned to investigate his favorite candidate for breaking the law.  But he doesn’t want to do it, see?  But he has to, see?  So there’s dramatic tension.

Boss: yeah, but the law is the law.  What’s he gonna do?

Writer:  that’s the cool part.  He interviews the candidate but he “forgets” to put her under oath.  So none of her answers can be used against her, right?  And there’s a suspicious death tied to the charges but he knows this candidate has a long trail of suspicious deaths and shady dealings so he’s afraid she might be involved with this one, too.  So he doesn’t want to investigate that, see?  But he’s torn about it, see, because maybe she really is as crooked as the rest of them.  But maybe she’s not, and besides, her opponent is a real jerk.  So he calls the death a “robbery gone bad” and when his boss is going to make a press announcement saying the candidate broke the law, our guy changes it to say she did NOT break the law.

Boss: wait, why wouldn’t the boss notice the change?

Writer:  the boss isn’t a cop, he’s a political hack, a time-serving moron.  So he goes along with the charade and the candidate gets away with the crime and stays in the election.

Boss: okay, weak, but we can work with it.

Writer: wait, it gets better!  His candidate loses the election.

Boss: what the hell?  How’s that help?  The show’s over.

Writer: no, no, it’s just getting started.  The candidate was supposed to win, see?  All the polls said so. All the experts said so.  She was so far ahead, she didn’t even campaign the last week, the election was in the bag.  She booked a hall and ordered fireworks and had her victory speech written and when she lost, it was stunning.  The talking heads on tv were stunned.  The losing candidate was drunk two days, couldn’t give a concession speech.  Total disaster.  And meanwhile, the smug jerk who won the election is all over Twitter rubbing it in, offering her five cents on the dollar for the fireworks she doesn’t need anymore.

Boss: yeah, so?  Sounds like a depressing show.  Nobody wants to watch that.

Writer:  Yeah, yeah, but our guy, remember him?  He’s in the FBI.  They see all kinds of wacko stuff, all kinds of nuts and goofballs with conspiracy theories.  So he’s devastated that his gal lost and the jerk won and he’s sitting at his desk moping when he glances at this file on his desk.  Some kook claims the jerk was in cahoots with the Russians to help him steal the election and he stayed in a Russian hotel where a team of hookers gave him a golden shower right on the hotel bed.

Boss: whoa, whoa, we can’t put that stuff on television.  Not in prime time.

Writer: okay, so maybe we don’t show it on screen

Boss: but maybe a special episode on cable?  Pay per view?  Hmmmm.

Writer: yeah, yeah!  Like that.  And anyway, so our guy, he sees this folder and he knows it’s bullshit but he thinks “If only the public knew what a jerk that guy is.”  Just then his boss walks by and says “I’m headed to brief the President-Elect, anything new I should know?” And all the sudden, on impulse, our guy hands his boss the folder and says “You might want to warn him this stuff is going around, so he doesn’t get blind-sided.”  The boss, being a dope, doesn’t realize it’s a set-up, he thinks our guy is being all noble and professional, so the boss goes right along.  But one of the long-term staff people in the President’s briefing sees the dossier is political dynamite and leaks it to his buddies in the press.  Ka-boom, huge political outrage, our guy’s losing candidate gets cheered up, the president-elect looks like an idiot, our guy is grinning like crazy.

Boss: and then?

Writer:  and then things get interesting.  The losing candidate’s political party seizes on the Russian Collusion angle and demands an investigation.  The new Attorney General is a another political appointee, not used to how the game is played in the bureaucracy, so he recuses himself.

Boss: excuses himself?

Writer: no, recuses.  He steps aside and lets the long-term staffers handle it.  And they all hate the new President.  So the staffers convince the new President the only way to clear his name is to appoint a special investigator.  And they recommend their old boss, who they assure him is a straight shooter, which he is – straight in your back.  But the new President doesn’t know that, see, so the new President goes along with it.

Boss: inside baseball.  boring.

Writer: no, wait!  The special investigator hates the new President, too.  And he hires a team of assistants to help him, all of them hate the new President.  And here’s the best part – he decides that for his top assistant on the team, he needs the guy who knows the most about the collusion.  He needs the guy who discovered the folder.  He needs OUR GUY!  Our guy is now the top assistant on the team investigating the new President.

Boss:  okay, more interesting.  Keep going

Writer:  so our guy is only part of the investigation, he can’t go after the President directly.  But he remembers that during the campaign, his team used a little “creative phrasing” to convince a judge to let them wiretap some people in the jerk’s campaign.  And one of those people is now the new President’s aide.  Our guy drops by the aide’s office to chat and just happens to ask some questions about one of the wiretapped conversations.  He doesn’t tell the aide he’s under investigation, the aide doesn’t have a lawyer present, the conversation isn’t recorded, but our guy goes back to the office and dummies up some notes in the file as to what our guy claims the aide said.

Boss:  so?

Writer: so our guy walks into the special investigator’s office and says “Hey, the President’s aide lied to me.  Here’s what he said on the wiretap and here’s what he told me in person.  He’s a liar.  We can prosecute him for lying and maybe get him to roll over on his boss, testify against the President.”  So the special prosecutor is liking that and ready to run with it but our guy screws up.  See, he’s married but he’s also having an affair with an FBI lawyer – that’s the love interest and we can get some steamy scenes out of that, too – and our guy sends his lover some texts bragging about his scam.  But somehow the texts leak

Boss: how?

Writer: I’m working on that.  But anyway, the texts leak and the special investigator finds out our guy is bent so his testimony is worthless,  but the special investigator really hates the President so he quietly reassigns our guy out of the way for a bit while he tries to finesse the aide into pleading guilty so he can get something to use against the President.

Boss: wait – what happened to our guy?  I thought this show was about him?

Writer: he’s reassigned to Human Resources to lay low until it blows over.  The special investigator temporarily becomes the star of the show.  It’s like when the main star is pregnant so the co-star gets a few episodes, you know?

Boss: yeah, okay.  Then what?

Writer: well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  But it’s great, right?  It’s got everything – sex, crime, politics, drama . . . so when do we start shooting?

Boss;  I gotta hand it to ya, kid, I really do.  Ya got a terrific imagination.  But this stuff, it’s too much.  It’s over the top.  One guy at the center of a conspiracy to take down the President?  Nobody would ever believe it.  And what the hell kind of name is Strzok?  Fuggedaboutit, kid.  Get the hell out of my office.

End scene

Joe Doakes

It’s only fiction if you ignore the real world.

Speaking Entitlement To Power

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is at the Saint Paul Farmers Market, buying pickling cucumbers.

He is surprised when MyLissa Silberman – National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau correspondent – walks up behind him.

SILBERMAN:  Merg.

BERG:  Oh, hi, MyLyssa.

SILBERMAN: Republicans are trying to destroy the free media.

BERG:  Er, what now?

SILBERMAN:  A Republican legislator is proposing licensing journalists.

The measure would require journalists — defined as anyone writing or broadcasting news for a newspaper, magazine, website or television or radio station — to be registered and fingerprinted by the police and vetted for their “character and reputation.”

BERG:  I think you missed the point.

SILBERMAN:  No – it’s right here:

Committing journalism without a license within 500 feet of school or on a school bus would bump the penalty up from a misdemeanor to a felony. Journalists with felony or domestic battery convictions would be prevented from getting licenses. And unlicensed people would still be able to engage in journalism on property they own or rent.

That’s some serious infringement of a vital constitutional right.

BERG:  Um, yeah.  I heard you report about that.  Problem was, you missed the important part:

State Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from the southeastern part of Indiana and a vocal critic of his state’s gun restrictions, drafted the bill by copying language from a state law that requires a license to carry a handgun in public.

With these laws proposed for journalists, Lucas’s measure reads like satire.

SILBERMAN:  What are you talking about?

BERG:  Lucas is satirizing gun control laws; making people get a permit to exercise an essential Constitutional liberty, and putting all sorts of restrictions on it that have not thing to do with either public safety or, in its satirical form, the news.

SILBERMAN: But..Trump!

President Trump, who has demonized the news media as “the enemy of the American People,” alarmed free-speech advocates this week by writing on Twitter that NBC News should be punished by regulators after the organization published a report that he did not like.

BERG: OK.  So?  Trump said things that make the media uncomfortable.  Big f****ng whoop.  He can’t enforce any of it.

SILBERMAN:  No, Merg.  I repeat:

President Trump, who has demonized the news media as “the enemy of the American People,” alarmed free-speech advocates this week by writing on Twitter that NBC News should be punished by regulators after the organization published a report that he did not like.

BERG:  Right.  You already said it.  He demonizes the media.

Thing is, this proposal – it’s not even a bill, yet – isn’t about “oppressing the media”.  It’s about pointing out the double standards of the left and media (pardon the redundancy); hawkish absolutists about the sanctity of the First Amendment, dilatory and fuzzy on the Secone.

SILBERMAN:  But that’s unconstitutional.

BERG:  How so?

SILBERMAN:   Were you paying attention?  He said:

President Trump, who has demonized the news media as “the enemy of the American People,” alarmed free-speech advocates this week by writing on Twitter that NBC News should be punished by regulators after the organization published a report that he did not like.

BERG:   MyLissa, it’s not about the media, per se.  Although the media is certainly focuses on it.  Because it seems that the only civil rights the media really gets exercised about are its own.  First Amendment rights of non-media people?  Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth?   Crickets”.

SILBERMAN: LIsten, Merg:  “President Trump, who has demonized the news media as …”

 

But BERG has already disappeared.  

And SCENE.

A Tale Of Two Knees

SCENE:  Mitch BERG walks into Sluggo’s, a sports bar on University [1].  NFL games are on on six big-screen TVs around the room.  Around five, there are small, dilatory groups watching games.  Around one TV, though, there are a group of people crowded around; men in “Che Guevara” and “Don’t Park the Bus” t-shirts, a few younger women in similar attire, older women in “peasant” dresses.   BERG recognizes several people from the group:  Avery LIBRELLE, Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK, Inge CARROLL, Edmund DUCHEY, Brian FURIOUS, Sol GALLIVAN, Gutterball GARY, Cat SCAT, Professor William KRIEPPI, Gretel STROMBERG, Betty Rae TORSTENGAARDSEN and other liberal activism / alt-media / blogging mainstays.

BERG:  So…uh, hey.  Watching some Football?

LIBRELLE:  Yes, Merg.  It’s the American pastime!

BERG:  (thinks about it, decides not to pursue the error).  Huh.  So all of…(points at the crowd, who seem to be staring, uncomprehending, at the screen)…you are football fans.

DUCHEY:  My whole life.  While you’ve been writing “Sh*t in the Park” (some of the other gathered liberals snicker) I’ve been watching the Vikings greats like Pele and Bill Havlicek.

BERG:  Huh.

(BERG looks, notices that the teams have not yet taken the field.  Suddenly, it dawns on him).

BERG:  So – you all remember Tim Tebow, right?

(General incomprehension breaks out.  Then Gutterball GARY chimes in).

GARY:  He is the Christianist who took a knee before games.

(General hissssssssssssing breaks out from the crowd)

CARROLL:  He hates women!

STROMBERG (sotto voce):  “womenandtheirchildren”

CARROLL:  (sotto voce right back)  What, ,you think women are defined by their children?

SCAT:  He was a racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, classist, Christianist… (trails off)

(CARROLL and STROMBERG continue to argue.  On the TV, the teams are coming out onto the field)

BERG:  So – Tim Tebow was all sorts of awful things because he exercised his First Amendment right to express his faith in public.

(Generalized booing and hissing).

FURIOUS:  Everybody shut up.  It’s starting.

SCAT:   Oooh, I love the suspense.

(The national anthem starts.  The camera pans over dozens of player taking knees.   FURIOUS and DUCHEY frantically note the names and numbers of players that remain standing.   Cheers break out throughout the crowd)

BERG:  So – NFL players  who take a knee over “social justice causes”…

TORSTENGAARDSEN:  Heroes speaking truth to power.

BERG:  While Tim Tebow…

BIRKENSTOCK:  Racist sexist classist ableist cisgenderist Nazi who is literally Hitler.

(Anthem finishes.  The entire crowd risers from their chairs and heads for the exits)

DUCHEY (to GARY) Good game.  Good game.

(Within seconds, the table is empty.   The WAITRESS comes over.)

WAITRESS:  35  people at a table, and I got six dollars in tips.

BERG:  Wow.  They stiffed you pretty bad.

WAITRESS:  Well, technically, kind of – they ordered about $100 worth of kombucha, artisanal tea and one “gluten free lite beer”, and the rest just had water.

BERG:  You don’t even have kombucha or artisanal tea here, do you?

WAITRESS:  I can’t hear you. Naaah naaah naaaah.  (Walks away)

(And SCENE)

Continue reading

Sins Of Our Fathers/Mothers/Other/Both/Undefined

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is filling up his gas tank, focusing on the meter, as Avery LIBRELLE rides up on a Vespa.  

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg.

BERG:  Er, hi, Avery.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  Trump is an idiot.

BERG:  Naturally.  Why this time?

LIBRELLE:  He wants to deport DACA kids.

BERG:  Well, no.  He’s giving Congress six months to come up with a law that passes constitutional muster; DACA did not.  Trump is right about this.

LIBRELLE:  Nonsense.  It’s not these childrens’ fault their parents came to America.

BERG:  So children are not at fault for what their parents – the previous  generation – did?

LIBRELLE:  Absolutely not.

BERG:  So White people…

LIBRELLE:  …are all still at fault, precisely and exactly, for racist acts committed by white people from the 1500s to the 1960s, even if their ancestors didn’t own slaves, didn’t live in slave states and didn’t have anything to do with the slave trade.

BERG:  Children of illegal immigrants…

LIBRELLE:  …bear zero culpability for their parents supposed misdeeds.

BERG:  White people…

LIBRELLE:  …are still fully complicit in acts that happened 400 years ago.

BERG:  Huh.

LIBRELLE:  Say, I need to put gas in this thing.  Which pump is vegan and gluten-free?

And SCENE. 

 

News Conferences I’d Love To See. And Participate In.

SCENE:   Press conference where a Free Speech Rally is being announced for the Minnesota state capitol grounds.   A group of reporters is questioning the organizers of the rally – Madison JAMES, Tyrone JEFFERSON, and Jorge WASHINGTON.

WASHINGTON:   …So to sum up, we will hold our Free Speech rally at precisely noon.  We have our permit, and we are ready to stand up for the free speech rights of all Minnesotans and all Americans.

JEFFERSON:  Even those we don’t agree with.

JAMES:  We’ll now take questions.   (Sees hands rising, points to a sallow endomorph in his late forties with severe acne).  Yes.

REPORTER 1:  I’m Edmund DuChey, from “MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com”.  So your rally of Nazis and White Supremacists…

WASHINGTON:  Yeah, you can stop right there.  As noted before, this rally specifically denounces the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and everyone who would actively curtail the rights of others based on their ethnicity, religion or anything else.

JAMES:  And we’ve specifically disinvited them from the rally, and are ready to enforce that.

JAMES:  Next question.

REPORTER 2:  Walter Lennon-Marks from Minnesota Public Radio.  I notice that you have not disinvited people who plan on carrying firearms, concealed or openly, from the rally.

JEFFERSON:  That’s correct.

LENNON-MARKS:  Don’t you find that intimidates other speech?

WASHINGTON:  I find that it most definitely intimidates those who would threaten our rally with violence like “Anti”-Fa did in San Francisco.

JEFFERSON:  Or those who would act on those threats, as “Anti”-Fa did in Boston, and clearly plan to elsewhere.    Inducing them to keep their speech non-violent is a feature, not a bug.

JAMES:  Next question?

REPORTER 3:   Yes – Yvette Stahlen from the Star Tribune.  Why do all three of you make the scare quotes with your fingers whenever you say the “anti” in “Antifa?”

WASHINGTON:  Because they are “against fascism” in exactly the same way the Bloods are against the Crips, or the Gambinos were “against” the Luccheses.   These are two sides of the same noxious, anti-democratic, anti-freedom, pro-totalitarian coin.

STAHLEN:  But my editors’ oldest daughter is a member of Antifa, and has been ever since zhe graduated from Oberlin.

WASHINGTON:   (Walks down from the stage with a microphone, hands it to STAHLEN).  Here.

STAHLEN:  What do you want me to do with this.

WASHINGON:  Drop it for me.  I couldn’t possibly have ended this better than you did.

(And SCENE)

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been…

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is looking through the stacks at Midway Used Books.  G. Wellington BENBRIDGE-GELLER – better known to his social circle and fellow ‘Anti-Fascist Action Macalester” colleagues as “Wookie” – comes around the corner.  BENBRIDGE-GELLER, age 25, a graduate of Carlton College (BA Anthropology and Women’s Studies), is dressed in black from head to toe, including a black hoodie splotched with home-painted slogans, over a “Che Guevara” t-shirt – the only color in his mien.  He carries a gas mask and a bottle of bear spray in an NPR tote bag.  

BENBRIDGE-GELLER:  Hey, Merg!

BERG:  Uh, hey, “Wookie”.  What’s up?

BENBRIDGE-GELLER:  Fascist symbols are, themselves, a threat of violence to their targets, and thus justify violence in response.

BERG:  Meaning what?

BENBRIDGE-GELLER: It’s time to Punch a Nazi.

BERG:  Huh.  And you can tell Nazis by…

BENBRIDGE-GELLER:  Swastikas.  Brown shirts.  Make America Great Again caps.  GOP elephants.

BERG:  So, pretty much anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, so you feel you have leave to punch pretty much anyone.

BENBRIDGE-GELLER:  Yep.

BERG:  That means if anyone sees you, as you are an immediate threat to them, they can respond violently to you, then, as you are an immediate threat to them?

BENBRIDGE-GELLER:  Nope.  (Stops for a moment).  Hey – aren’t you a conservative talk show host?

(BENBRIDGE-GELLER winds up to kick BERG, but BERG reacts first, emptying a container of CS spray into his BENBRIDGE-GELLER’s face.  The younger guy falls to the floor, screaming, as BERG squirts the last remnants of the bottle at BENBRIDGE-GELLER’s head.  He tosses the empty bottle container, hitting the younger man in the face, and then grabs the reading stool and brings it down on BENBRIDGE-GELLER’s solar plexus before turning to walk out of the store.  A couple of patrons look at him, shocked)

BERG:  What?  You’re expecting a mildly sarcastic comic send-off to the bit?

(Bystanders go back to shopping as BERG pays for a couple copies of King and Country, and leaves store). 

And SCENE.

Nope. Never Seen This Before.

SCENE:  Avery LIBRELLE is running down the street, clearly hysterical.  BERG sees Avery. 

BERG:  Avery!  What’s the matter?  Do you need help?

LIBRELLE:   There is  no help for this!  Trump is going to lead us into a nuclear war with North Korea!  We’re all doomed!

BERG:  How on earth do you figure?

LIBRELLE:   All that toxic masculinity!  That always leads to disaster!

BERG:  Er – have you read this yet?

LIBRELLE:  (Reads article).  Ah.  Another big win for Obama’s legacyi of diplomacy.

BERG:  That makes no sense… (But LIBRELLE has already skipped away)

And SCENE. 

For The Gander

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting in the tire shop, waiting for a patch on a slow leak.  Just as BERG thinks the phrase “slow leak”, Avery LIBRELLE enters the lobby, distracted, and sits.  Then, LIBRELLE notices BERG. 

LIBRELLE:  Merg!

BERG:  Er, hey, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  Donald Drumpf and the Senate are proposing racist immigration laws.

BERG:  Do tell.

LIBRELLE:  They want to limit immigration to people who speak English, have skills that are in demand in the US, and who can support themselves.

BERG:  Huh.  So – you like Canadian healthcare, rigiht?

LIBRELLE:  Of course.

BERG:  In fact, you like Canada.

LIBRELLE:  I wish the woke, blue states could secede and join up with Canada.

BERG:  You do realize that Canada’s immigration system requires would-be immigrants to have skills that Canada needs – but not to take a job a Canadian needs – or to be capable of starting a business that’ll employ Canadians, and that would-be immigrants be able to support themselves so as not to be an immediate burden on their single-payer health insurance system…

LIBRELLE:  But they…

BERG:  I know, I know – they also allow a strictly-limited, and fairly small, number of refugees, plus an equally strictly-lijmited number of relatives of Canadian citizens – who, in effect sponsor the immigrants.

LIBRELLE:  (stands, non-pliused)

BERG:  So are the Canadians “racist”?

(Tire store employee walks over to the two)

EMPLOYEE:  Mister…er, Miss… Mizz… (looks at BERG.  BERG shrugs)   Er…Avery?

LIBRELLE:  Yes?

EMPLOYEE:  We don’t actually sell cargo bike tires here…

And SCENE

 

Benefits

Mitch: “Firearm magazines with more than ten rounds…”

“Progressive”: “…should ONLY be used by the police and military, because society gives them some extra benefits because they defend and protect the rest of us.”

Mitch: “Benefits like qualified immunity from prosecution for killings and injuries they inflict while they reasonably believe they’re doing the job we hire them for?”

“Progressive”: “No! Never! They should be *just like every other citizen!”.

Mitch: “Only with 30 round magazines”.

Progressive: “Yes. Why?”

Lie First, Lie Always: Gun Grabber “Science”

SCENE: Mitch BERG is trying out a guitar at a local music shop. As he begins to fingerpick the intro to “1957 Vincent Black Lightning”, Avery LIBRELLE enters the store, sees BERG, and walks up behind him.

LIBRELLE:Merg!

BERG:  Er, hey, Avery.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  We know you crazy gun nuts don’t care how many children die for your so called “right to keep and bear arms” -= but why do you oppose funding for basic public health research? What are you afraid of?

BERG:  Afraid?  Nothing.    Absolutely certain of what the criminal-safetyi movement means by “science?”  Now you’re on to something.

LIBRELLE:  Why?  Afraid of science?

BERG:  Hardly.  More like “Pretty certain nothing resembling “science” will take place

Here’s a great example; this message went out yesterday:

LIBRELLE:  So?

BERG:  So?  A survey using a self-selected  group of particpants, recruited by an anti-gun group?  Real “public health”, or even sociological or demographic –  research uses random subjects from a representative population – not people cherry-picked by a constituent that’s looking for a specific result.  And a control group?  Forget about it.

That’s not “science”.  It’s not even demography.  It’s public relations and politics.   If you call it “science”, you’re misrepresenting yourself and, yes, science itself.

Oh yeah – and in the fine print of the message, it says the “researchers” will likely quote you unless the results of the “study” are under a confidentiality agreement.

This isn’t science. This barely qualifies as group slander.  Anyone putting this, or its results, out there as “science” should be charged, at least rhetorically, with malpractice.

LIBRELLE:  Check your privelege, racist.

BERG:  Naturally.

LIBRELLE:  And you need…

(BERG cranks the guitar to 11 and starts playing the intro to “Anarchy in the UK”)

(And SCENE)

Ripped From Social Media – As Far As You Know

Q: “Did you see that episode of “The Office” where…

A: “See it? I don’t even own a TV! All TV is crap!”

Q: “Huh. Oh, I see Chris Cornell died…”

A: “Who? Some singer? I don’t listen to any pop music after 1970. I don’t even own a record, cassette, 8 track, CD or MP3 player!”

Q: “All right. So did you see that talk about…:”

A: “Talk? The English language is so debased. I only communicate in Kings’ Anglo-Saxon…”

(And SCENE)

The Devils And Angels In My Nature…

…got into an argument over this past weekend’s festivities in Berkeley, where Real American pro-free-speech activists banded together to deter, and occasionally, where necessary, necessary meet, “anti-fascist” fascist violence at a pro-Trump rally.

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  Oh, God, I am so freaking happy to see that the good guys – any good guys, people who try to express their views peacefully, fought back against the Blackshirts and other neo-fascist thugs.    Those little upper-middle-class fops are bullies, every one of them.  They sucker-punch, they gang up on lone people, they use weapons like sticks and pepper spray against the unarmed and unsuspecting, they throw smoke bombs at old ladies and punch out teenage girls – but I’m gonna guess every one of them crapped their pants when they saw Real Americans lined up to stare their snowflake asses down.

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  Yeah, it’s tempting to cheer.   But remember – if 200 Republicans, conservatives, Tea Partiers or Trumpkins go to the hospital, it’ll warrant not a single headline – but the moment Joshua Micah Gildersleeve from Oberlin gets his face scuffed up, it’ll headlines across the entire mainstream media, and the left will make “right wing thuggery” a chanting point forevermore.

Because you know it as well as I do, Mitch’s-inner-devil; the only damage the media and the people who set our society’s opinions care about is damage to the kids who look like their kids.

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  So we should sit still and be placid, passive victims and punching bags for those worthless bullies?

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  That’s not what I’m saying.  But let’s be realistic; if a couple black guys punched out a Klansman in self-defense in 1920, it was a tree falling in the forest that was used by the bullies to justify even more violence.  Hell – they’re trying to provoke violence, so they and their patsies and enablers in the MSM can tell the gullible general public “Look at what these big bag righties did to our best and brightest!”

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  Bu you know as well as I do they don’t even need any kind of resistance to their “resistance” to “Justify” any of that.   And..

(Devil notices Angel removing halo, donning a Gadsden Flag t-shirt, and picking up what looks like a stuffed sweat sock).

Er, Angel?  What is that?

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  It’s a sweat sock with a big russet potato in it.

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  Er…what the…why?

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  Hits like a truck full of bricks, doesn’t leave a mark.

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  Um…again, why?

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  (pulls stocking cap low over head).  I’m heading down planetside.  I’m gonna find the next snowflake anti-Free-Speech rally.  If they try to bully anyone else into silence, I’m gonna go all Old Testament Angel on them.

Devil (on Mitch’s left shoulder):  But…you’re the angel of Mitch’s better nature…

Angel (on Mitch’s right shoulder):  I’m an angel.  I’m not an idiot.

(And SCENE).

Rinkeby Dinkeby

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting in line at Taqueria Pineda on South Robert Street.  Avery LIBRELLE walks in just after Berg orders.

LIBRELLE:  Merg!

BERG:  Oh.  Hi, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  Trump is such a baffoon.

BERG:  Did you just pronounce it “baffoon”

LIBRELLE:   Yes.  Just like it’s spelled.  Donald Trump is such a fool.

BERG:  Do tell.

LIBRELLE:  He thinks there was a terrorist attack in Sweden.  Sweden!

BERG:   Er, between the mis-speak and the misreport, you could kinda lose the fact that things kind of suck in Sweden, and are getting dodgy all over Europe, these days.

LIBRELLE:   Har di har!  (Turns to counter person)  Hey!  Key-arrow oono burrito vegano!  Capeesh?

BERG:  That’ll work.

And SCENE

Anger!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is stopped at a light on University Avenue.  He sits, window rolled down, waiting for the green.

Avery LIBRELLE pulls up next to BERG is a city bus.  The window is cracked open.

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  Dona’d Trump’s immigration moratorium is pure racism!

BERG:  Was it racist when Obama barred immigration from Iraq?

LIBRELLE:  No, and..

BERG:  And remember – these immigrants are from the same countries Obama has spent the last years bombing and droning, likely in violation of all manner of law in the process.

LIBRELLE:  Trump has been. doing all sorts of unconstittions……

(But BERG has rolled down his window and driven away)

(And SCENE)

Layers And Layers Of Gatekeepers, Part MMMLXVIII

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is leaving a downtown Saint Paul bar after happy hour with friends.  

As he fumbles for his keys by his car, MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, steps out of an organic tax accountant office.  Dressed in a hemp power skirt, her brunette-but-slightly-prematurely-gray hair cut into the style known as “ELCA Hair”, she wrinkles her nose on encountering BERG.

SILBERMAN:  Er, hello, Merg.

BERG:  MyLyssa.  A pleasure (He finds his car key)

SILBERMAN:  You and your show and blog are “fake news”

BERG:  Huh.  You don’t say.  Why’s that?

SILBERMAN:  You don’t have a staff of fact-checkers.

BERG:  .Like the Washington Post.

SILBERMAN:  Exactly.  The Washington Post has layers and layers of gatekeepers and factcheckers, all trained at Ivy League journalism schools to the highest standard of the journalistic craft.

BERG:  The WaPo ran a story last week about Russian hackers trying to bring down the Vermont power grid.  Until it turned out it wasn’t; just some malware on a laptop that wasn’t connected to any grid other than an AC plug.  Then they revised the story, and tried to re-focus it under the radar while going “um, nothing to see here” about their earlier claim that Russians  were trying to bring down the US power supply.

SILBERMAN:  Right.  The fact-checking worked.

BERG:  The “fact-checking” was entirely external to the Washington Post.  They were “fact-checked” by their audience and the rest of the media.  No different than my blog.

SILBERMAN:  No, Merg.  That’s false.  And I’ll tell you why.

BERG:  OK.  You do that.

SILBERMAN:  The person who pushed “publish” on the online revision?

BERG:  Yes…?

SILBERMAN:  And the person who started the printing presses?

BERG:  Right?  Yes?

SILBERMAN:  They were Washington Post employees.  Without them, the correction would have never gotten out.

BERG:  Huh .

SILBERMAN:  Also, you are a white male.  (Looks at bare wrist)  Oh, look at the time.  (Steps back into accountants office).

BERG:  (Rolls eyes, climbs into car)

And SCENE.

They Are So Close…

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is leaving Alary’s after a Bears game, when he runs into MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau.  Dressed in a hemp power skirt, her brunette-but-slightly-prematurely-gray hair cut into the style known as “ELCA Hair”, she is on her way from her Lowertown condo to the MPR building.  

SILBERMAN:  (In her “NPR” voice – a nasal brogue that bespeaks an Ivy League education, and sounds like it may have ironic clarinet music in the background) Mr.  Berg.

BERG:   Oh, hello, MyLyssa.

SILBERMAN:  So you’re still a Second Amendment activist?

BERG:  I am.

SILBERMAN:  And you oppose closing the “Gun Show Loophole” with mandatory registration?

BERG:  Yep.

SILBERMAN:  Why?  It’s clearly commonsense.

BERG:  I’m going to refute you with an NPR story.   Yesterday, NPR reported that the Obama Administration has done away with a 9/11-era program that allowed the creation of a registry of people from several countries linked to terrorist activities.   (BERG draws iPhone from pocket, shuffles through to find a recording).  I believe this the report, from NPR’s Tom Gjelten:

GJELTEN: Among those who would speak out – the American Civil Liberties Union. Hina Shamsi is the national security director there.

HINA SHAMSI: We would absolutely oppose this program. And as we have said, if this form of discriminatory registry is put in place, we stand ready to sue and to challenge it.

(BERG stops the recording)

SILBERMAN:  Right.  So?

BERG:  Listen to this next bit.  I’ll crank up the volume for a few parts”

GJELTEN: A new registry could bring out law-abiding Muslims. But human rights lawyer Banafsheh Akhlaghi says it would probably not reveal the would-be terrorists the government should be worried about.

AKHLAGHI: They aren’t going to voluntarily come into a federal building, give you their fingerprints, give you their name and their identity and allow you to take photographs of them. The good guys do that.

(BERG stops the recording again)

BERG:   So terrorists aren’t going to come in and register themselves…

SILBERMAN:   Right.  That’s absurd.

BERG:   Exactly.  But criminals – people who commit violence with guns?  They will come in and, in effect, register with a background check when they buy guns?

SILBERMAN:  You are clearly “fake news”.

BERG:  Clearly.

(And SCENE)

The New Puritans

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is shopping for a generator at Menard’s.  As he pores over the spec sheet, Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK steps around the corner.  

BIRKENSTOCK:  Merg!   The “christian” college, “Liberty University”, is building a gun violence range for its students.

BERG:   It’s a gun range.  And so what?

BIRKENSTOCK:  It’s weird.

BERG:   Hardly. It’s a conservative institution.  Many of its students are shooters.  The campus 2nd Amendment group is large and active, and shootings sports are popular among students.  It’s not unreasonable to assume that a shooting-sports-friendly campus is going to be a draw for students who are, like most Liberty students, to the right of center.

BIRKENSTOCK:  But guns on campus!  Isn’t that just kind of weird?  Shouldn’t school be a place of non-violence?

BERG:   Non-violence?   You mean like “gun-free” Virginia Tech?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Yes!

BERG:  Where a gunman killed 32 students and faculty?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Don’t confuse me with irrelevant details.

BERG:  Er, right.  So – why should Liberty not provide that facility, if it’s an obvious marketing spiff for them?

BIRKENSTOCK:  There should be no guns at places of higher learning.

BERG:  Question for you, Moonbeam:   should colleges teach abstinence only sex education?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Good heavens, no.  That never works!

BERG:  Because people naturally gravitate toward things they enjoy?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Yes!

BERG:   So abstinence only education can not work when it comes to sex, but is the only acceptable solution when it comes to guns?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Why do you hate women and minorities?

BERG:  Naturally.

And SCENE. 

You Expected Precisely What?

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is in his garage, puttering with his snowblower. 

Avery LIBRELLE walks into the garage, drinking a bottle of kombucha.  

BERG:  Uh, hey, Avery.  To what do I owe the…

LIBRELLE:  I needed a place to throw the empty bottle.   Hey – Trump was elected by the Russians!

BERG:  Well, it seems that the Russians were trying to do something about our elections, via propaganda, and perhaps online skulduggery.

LIBRELLE:  It just proves that Trump was not legitimate.

BERG:  Well, I’m sure the DNC hopes people believe that.  But there’s no evidence they were doing it to benefit Trump, specifically.  More to generate chaos.  Putin is a former KGB guy.

LIBRELLE:  Don’t give me your crazy acronyms.  That’s racist.

BERG:  Whatever.  Intelligence people use chaos as a tool; out of chaos comes opportunity.  If an American government needs to use its poltiical capital fighting internal questions about its legitimacy – which seems to be Putin’s goal, and seems to be working so far, at least among our chattering classses – then it’s less likely to be able to intervene in Syria, or take serious action re ISIS, or marshal any political will to protect Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia.

LIBRELLE:  Bla bla bla.  America’s intelligence agencies say it’s a smoking gun!

BERG:  A smoking what?

LIBRELLE:  Oops. A smoking microaggression.

BERG:  No, they don’t.

(But LIBRELLE has already scampered away, leaving the empty kombucha bottle on BERG’s garage shelf).

(And SCENE)

 

Fringe-y

SCENE: Mitch BERG is shoveling his sidewalk. As he’s shoveling to the east, Avery LIBRELLE, out for a walk, comes up from the west and catches BERG by surprise.

LIBRELLE: Hey, Merg!

BERG:  Uh…hi, Avery.  What’s…

LIBRELLE:   Drumpf is appointing racist white supremacists from the Alt-Right to his cabinet!

BERG:  Avery, I have a question for you.  One of the reasons I support the Second Amendment is that I believe it’s possible – not “highly likely”, but possible – that despite all the safeguards built into the Federalist system, our government could one day be take over by people who actively trample the peoples’ freedom.

LIBRELLE:  That’s paranoia, treason, and an ammosexual gun fondler fantasy.

BERG:  Huh.  But Donald Trump is now president, and you’re worried…

LIBRELLE:  …that government is actively going to stifle and quash peoples’ freedom.

BERG:  Gotcha.  So when a Second Amendment supporter says that they’re acting in defense of liberty, they are…

LIBRELLE:  Fat bald white gun fondlers who’ve watched Rambo too many times and are probably terrorists waiting to happen.

BERG:   And when Hillary Clinton supporters say it about Trump, they are…

LIBRELLE:  Guarding freedom against a fascist tyrant.

BERG:   Gun owners…

LIBRELLE:  Fat angry stupid traitors.

BERG:  People attacking Trump…

LIBRELLE:  The highest expression of democratic ideals.

BERG:  Conservative…

LIBRELLE:  Evil.  Hate.  Death.

BERG:  “Progressive”

LIBRELLE:  Love.

BERG:  Naturally.

And SCENE

Somewhere In Virginia

SCENE:  FBI Director James COMEY drives up to his house, in a cozy northern Virginia suburb of DC.

As he gets out of his car, he notes Huma ABEDIN, sitting on his porch.  

He takes his briefcase and walks toward her.

ABEDIN:  Good day, Mr. Comey.

COMEY:  Ms. Abedin, you know I can’t communicate with you during an investigation,

ABEDIN:   You can’t talk about the investigation.  This is a social call.

COMEY:  Do tell.

ABEDIN:  Purely social.

(ABEDIN pulls out a manila envelope)

COMEY:  Social?

ABEDIN:  Sure.  I wanted to talk family.

(She pulls out an 8×10 photo and a sheet of paper from the envelope and hands it to COMEY)

COMEY:  What the…?

ABEDIN:   Nice looking grandkids, there.  Aaron, age six, who attends Holy Cross Elementary school, takes the 4 bus, gets to school at 8:30 and leaves at 2:30, plays soccer with the Hippo team at Wartford Rec Center, and…Emiliy age four, attends the Rutherford Crossing pre-school from 9AM to noon.  Children of your daughter, if I’m not mistaken.

COMEY:  So you want…

ABEDIN:  You know what I want.

(ABEDIN rises, leaves)

COMEY:  (Sighs, resignedly dials number on cell phone)

And SCENE

Evidence

SCENE:    At the garden center.  Mitch BERG is taking advantage of late-season blowouts when Avery LIBRELLE, carrying a lawn flamingo, steps around the corner, catching BERG by surprise. 

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  You keep claiming there’s vote fraud.  And yet there is not.  There never has been and there never will be.

BERG:  Well, the evidence in  California and Chicago and Philadelphia and Maryland and Florida and a key and very swingy district in Virginia and Mississippi and of course right here in Minnesota says you’re wrong.

LIBRELLE:  But the Brennan Center said there is no voter fraud!

BERG:  Leaving aside the fact that the Brennan Center is pretty much devoted to undermining self-government and making society safe for our “elite” better to govern as they see fit, their “sources” were pretty much all election authorities confirming that nothing is wrong, nosirreebob.  In most states where the fraud happens, it’s almost impossible to convict anyone for even the most bald-faced vote fraud.

LIBRELLE:  But there’s more evidence!

BERG:  Aaaand what’s that?

LIBRELLE:  You’re racist.  Hah!

(LIBRELLE turns and runs for the door)

BERG:  Clearly.

(And SCENE)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Oooh, look there; an article about vote fraud.  Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section.

Unless, of course, you are one of the commenters who’s made a habit of leaving extremely long, usually off-topic, usually condescending comments, purporting to “fact-check” my content, but usually proving only that you’re a terrible researcher with no command of logic:

You’ll need to respond in depth to this question in a previous thread.  And respond to the responses.  And then I will start letting your comments out of moderation.  And only then.  Your call.  No skin off my teeth).