Everyone’s A Racist!

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

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!

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

LIBRELLE:  Bar Louie is Racist!

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Because they were racist!

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

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

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

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

BERG:  …like what?

LIBRELLE:  Like you’re a racist!

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

LIBRELLE:  Of course! 

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

LIBRELLE:  Of course they do.

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

LIBRELLE:  Well, not all of them…

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  The Lurcat!

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

LIBRELLE:  That’s silly. 

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Because…[head slowly rolls about]

 BERG:  Because social cues have meaning.

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

BERG:  Sure.  Later!

(And SCENE)

Flexible

SCENE:  The newsroom at the Star/Tribune.

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

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

TORKELSON:  Newsroom.  Torkelson.

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

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

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

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

(TORKELSON goes silent)

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

TORKELSON:  That wasn’t me, but OK…

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

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

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

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

LUCKING:  Governor Dayton is a black single mother.

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

LUCKING:   Yep.

TORKELSON:   But that’s completely implausible.

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

(TORKELSON, puzzled, waits patiently)

VOICE:  Hello, Laird?  This is Larry JACOBS

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

JACOBS:  No.

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

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

TORKELSON:  Er…OK.  Thanks, Doctor Jacobs…

(LUCKING takes the phone)

LUCKING:  So we can run with that?

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

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

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

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

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

ABM Flies Above That Circling Fin

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

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

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

LUCKING:  What?

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

LUCKING:  Go.

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

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

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

(UNDERLING makes a note). 

That’ll be all. 

(UNDERLING leaves). 

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

HUMID:  Er, Carrie…

(LUCKING clears her throat)

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

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

(HUMID takes a  note, leaves the room).

(There is a knock on the door).

LUCKING:  What?

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

LUCKING (Bored):  Yes. 

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

DAYTON:  Say, uh…

LUCKING:  I’m busy.

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

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

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

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

LUCKING:  I’d run with “extreme”.

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

LUCKING:  No.

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

(More idle time).

(Finally, UNDERLING enters).

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

LUCKING (sounding bored):  DFLers from where?

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

LUCKING:  Huh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LUCKING (staring into space):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  And how about Tom Bakk.

LUCKING (visibly bored):  Too extreme. 

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

LUCKING:  Oh.

(Ryan WINKLER walks in)

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

UNDERLING: Really?

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

UNDERLING:  You don’t know…?

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

UNDERLING:  He’s blind. 

WINKLER:  I don’t get it. 

LUCKING:  He’s too extreme.

UNDERLING:  Right…

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

(Silence from behind DAYTON’s door)

LUCKING:  HEY!

DAYTON:  Ok. 

(And SCENE)

One Day In The Governor’s Office

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

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

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

HUME, FLINT-SMITH and UNDERLING:  All hail!

LUCKING:  So what have you discovered?

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

FLINT-SMITH:  We believe they can be wedged. 

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

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

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

UNDERLING:  Yes, ma’am?

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

UNDERLING: By your leave. 

LUCKING:  What else?

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

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

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

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

FLINT-SMITH: You’re Muslim now.

DAYTON: (thinly) OK. 

(FLINT-SMITH closes the door)

LUCKING:  Next?

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

FLINT-SMITH:  AKA “The DFL Way” .

LUCKING:  Who are these people?

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

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

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

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

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

(UNDERLING takes a note)

HUME:  Dan Severson is running for Secretary of State.

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

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

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

UNDERLING:  How about Arne Carlson?

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

UNDERLING:  He’s not actually on the ballot. 

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

HUME:  I brought brownies. 

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

HUME:  Dammit.  Not again…

LUCKING:  The brownies are Wrong For Minnesota. 

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

LUCKING:  That’s Wrong for Minnesota!

(And SCENE)

America’s Bargain

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

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

THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE:  Those are the choices?

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

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

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

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

THE OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:  Take your time.

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

(And SCENE)

All In The Timing

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:   Ahoy, Merg!

BERG:  Er, ahoy, matey.  Interesting ride.

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

BERG:  Of course you did.  What’s up?

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

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

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

BERG:  Huh?

LIBRELLE: Nixon ordered those murders!

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

LIBRELLE:  Only if you believe the conservative mainstream media.

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

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

LIBRELLE pedals briskly away – running up onto a sandbar.  

And SCENE. 

 

A Critique

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

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  (Hurries over toward BERG)

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

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

BERG:  Yeah? 

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

BERG: In other words, the ad hominem…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Well, empirical evidence helps.

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Just like Johnny Cochrane did! 

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

LIBRELLE:  I demolished you with that!

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

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

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

(And SCENE)

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

On A Rattlesnake Light Rail ‘cross The Hiawatha Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Er…no?

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

LIBRELLE:  What makes you say that? 

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

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

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

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

BERG:  And you came up here from Minneapolis…

LIBRELLE:  …looking for people to protest with me.

BERG:  And how’s that going for you?

LIBRELLE: Not great, so far. 

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah?  Why?

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

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

BERG: Er, no.  Looking for…

LIBRELLE:  The train!

BERG:  Huh?

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

BERG:  Er, OK (starting to fidget)

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

BERG:  Um, what now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(And SCENE)

Like Waiting For “One Direction” Tickets In A Blizzard

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

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

BERG:  Well, it’s not really…

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

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

LIBRELLE:   Seven million subscribers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HyPsTrZ at the sacrament of unveiling.

…and much more in common with these…:

Waiting for bread in Moscow, 1980s

…or these:

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

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

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

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

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

(And SCENE)

Don’t Turn Around

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

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

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

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

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

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

BERG:  The Administration is doing nothing at all.

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

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

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

BERG:  What now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  It does.

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Your point?

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

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

(And SCENE)

Tax Cuts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

BERG:  That’s absurd. 

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

BERG:  And Information Technology companies, and business consultants.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(And SCENE)

Do The Right Thing

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

BERG:  Hey, Avery.  Let’s go. 

LIBRELLE:   Huh?  Where?

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

LIBRELLE:   What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:   I refuse!

BERG:  I thought you might.  Mr. Tucci?

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

TUCCI:  You’ve been served. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:   Huh? 

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

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

BERG:  What now?

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Sure!

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

LIBRELLE:  That’s really stretchy, Merg!

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

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

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

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

LIBRELLE:  Yes!

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

LIBRELLE:  Yes!  We can’t have discrimination!

BERG:   Hm. OK.  Mr. Tucci?

TUCCI:  Mr. Pflau?

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

LIBRELLE:  You’re gay?

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

(LIBRELLE stands, holding papers, slowly deflating)

TUCCI:  May I remind you; No h8. 

(An air of resignation visitly wafts over LIBRELLE)

LIBRELLE:   OK.  Got me there. 

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

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

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

(And SCENE).

Out Of Both Ends Of Babes

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

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Hey, Berg!

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

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

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

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

BERG:  Yep.

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

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

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Of course.

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

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Clearly you are a RINO.

BERG:  Clearly.

(And SCENE).

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)