In my humble opinion, of all life’s guilty pleasures, nothing beats sleeping late on a Sunday morning in the company of someone who loves you. Of course, the fact of the matter is that, thanks to some punk virus that came out of a Chinese bat’s keister, Cerise and I have not had a truly late Saturday night together in some time. And sleeping until ten o’clock can be a real challenge if you actually go to bed before one-thirty. Nevertheless, we did manage to snooze until a quarter past nine and enjoyed a breakfast of Moliterno al tartufo, hand-foraged deep forest Appalachian morels and acorn-fed jamón ibérico free-range duck egg omelet with organic blueberry crepes garnished with goat milk crème fraîche, fresh-squeezed blood orange Veuve Clicquot mimosas and Pellini espresso Montana high country grass-fed cream cappuccinos. After which, we went right back to bed for another hour. That means it was about eleven forty-five when my landline began ringing incessantly as we finally made it to the living room to sip Kona peaberry coffee with shots of Remy Martin XO and peruse the Sunday papers. I turned the ringer off, of course, and around two in the afternoon, I decided to see who had been leaving all those messages that were clogging up my voicemail. It was someone who said her name is Karen Brittany Mercedes White, or Karen BMW as she put it. Crediting Rand Paul for giving her my home telephone number, she pointedly dropped some other names, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Steve Doocy, Kayleigh McEnany, Roger Stone, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Micheal Lebron and Bill Mitchell. All tolled, my voicemail system documented some thirty-two minutes and fourteen seconds of this woman’s decidedly solipsistic utterances, recorded in no less than eleven separate messages, each one carefully leaving a call-back number. Well, I figured, that kind of persistence deserves some sort or recognition, at least, so after fortifying myself with second cup of coffee and cognac, I returned her calls.
Karen: Hello? Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he. Good afternoon. I got your messages. I assume you’d like a telephone consultation?
Karen: Yes – a free one.
Tom: Of course, they are part of my marketing plan, and I am always pleased to participate in them.
Karen: Are they really that good for business?
Tom: Excellent for it, actually. Over forty percent of them result in new, long-term client relationships.
Karen: Only forty?
Tom: Madame, if you were familiar with marketing practice, you would not have phrased your assessment of my plan’s results as a question. Forty percent is, in fact, a very respectable outcome for such an effort.
Karen: Okay, if you say so. People actually pay that kind of money for your advice?
Tom: What kind of money?
Karen: Those hourly rates you charge.
Tom: Some individuals do, yes, however in many cases it is international organizations, non-profit institutions, academic establishments, foreign governments and US federal agencies that pay them.
Karen: So it’s mostly the elites that are ruining everything who pay you for advice on how to do it, then, I suppose?
Tom: Well, judging by the company you apparently keep – on the basis of the folks you mentioned in your voicemails, that is – I would say I am not the least bit surprised you see things that way.
Karen: Okay, well then, there you go, don’t you, telling me there are two sides to every question – “on the one hand this, on the other hand that,” right?
Tom: I guess it could be characterized that way.
Karen: You know what the company I keep, as you put it, would do with someone like that? They’d cut off one of your hands and then ask you the damned question again, that’s what they’d do!
Tom: Which is why, I would opine, such people should not be allowed to handle sharp objects.
Karen: Oh, really? And would you consider that to be some of your high priced… advice?
Tom: No, that’s advice I would gladly give anyone without charge. Now, speaking of advice, is there something about which you would like some, or did you just want to have a conversation in which you could heap abuse on a professional intellectual who lives in Washington DC and thinks for a living?
Karen: All right, since you mentioned it, I would like to see if your big inside-the-Beltway brain is worth the kind of money you get. So, first of all, this mask business is total [expletive]. How do the informed, smart individuals like me, who really know what’s going on, get the pathetic, brainwashed sheeple to take their heads out of their [expletive] and stop running around wearing those stupid [expletive] masks?
Tom: The cloth, surgical and filtering respirator masks that the Centers for Disease Control recommends all Americans wear while in public, in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus?
Karen: Yeah, those [expletive] masks!
Tom: You want to discourage the public from wearing protective masks?
Karen: That’s right.
Tom: May I ask why?
Karen: Because it’s unconstitutional, that’s why!
Tom: Pardon me, let’s back up just a bit here if we may – you do realize that the purpose of the masks, particularly the ones that aren’t rated as respirators, is to protect other people from the infected droplets of human saliva expelled by persons who are already infected with a potentially fatal disease, don’t you?
Karen: Who cares what the lame-stream media say those [expletive] masks are for? The Constitution says nobody can force you to wear one!
Tom: Um… actually, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say that anywhere in the Constitution, Karen. It isn’t that kind of document, you know, it’s pretty… general… when it comes to what kinds of rights individuals have in our society, actually. May I ask, have you actually… ever… read it?
Karen: Read it? Why should I bother to do that, when Fox News, 4Chan and QAnon can tell me what it says?
Tom: Okay, I don’t suppose there’s any way to argue with a line of reasoning like that, but I would note that the Supreme Court, which the Constitution says is the highest court of the nation, and our legal traditions have recognized as the final arbiter of its meaning, has never held that any rights enumerated therein allow for conduct that shows a reckless disregard of human life. For example, the right of free speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment, does not, as decided by Schenck versus the United States and further clarified by Brandenburg versus Ohio, confer the right of a person to falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
Karen: What’s fire in a crowded theater have to do with the jackbooted black helicopter people from the UN forcing true American patriots to wear those [expletive] face masks? Or, come to think of it, what’s that got to do with me renting a nice big house with a pool and a game room on Airbnb and throwing a huge [expletive] party where I invite a couple hundred people and charge them ten bucks apiece to get in? You got something against free enterprise, too, I suppose?
Tom:Well, okay, would you agree that free enterprise doesn’t mean you can charge a couple of hundred people ten bucks apiece to watch a pack of starving rats tear a puppy to pieces?
Karen: Of course not! That’s disgusting!
Tom: But there’s nothing disgusting about charging a couple of hundred people ten bucks to get together and spread a deadly disease? There’s nothing disgusting about walking around the local supermarket or pharmacy spewing tiny infected droplets of your spit in the faces of other people?
Karen: Look, if it’s really deadly to anybody, which I seriously doubt…
Tom: Wait a minute, wait a minute… hold on there… let me check if I heard what I think I did just now. You… sincerely doubt… that the Covid-19 coronavirus can be fatal?
Karen: President Trump said it’s a hoax, didn’t he?
Tom: I believe he’s… shall we say… less convinced of that previous assertion at the moment.
Karen: Alright, maybe. But it’s not deadly to anyone but old geezers, right? And who cares about them? They’ve shot their wad, haven’t they? They’ve had their fun dancing the Charleston or the Jitterbug or the Twist or the Hustle or whatever those smelly, senile, boring, drooling relics of the past did back in the [expletive] Stone Age, and besides, they’re all going to die soon anyway, right?
Tom: Okay, Karen, I’m not going to ask how old you are, of course, but I would observe that the Covid-19 coronavirus has the demonstrated capacity to kill and maim people much younger than anyone who danced the Hustle, and while I can certainly think of some ways to discourage Americans from wearing face masks in public, given the current situation, I would never, under any circumstances, share those ideas with you.
Karen: Why the hell not?
Tom: I would no sooner share ideas about that with you than I would advise the tobacco industry on how to encourage ten-year-olds to start vaping.
Karen: And what’s wrong with vaping, may I ask? I vape plenty of fine flavored brands myself!
Tom: And I’m sure you were about to tell me that you have a constitutional right to do so.
Karen: As a matter of fact, yes, I was.
Tom: Quod erat demonstrandum.
Karen: What the [expletive] is that supposed to mean?
Tom: Oh, never mind. Look, we’ve already established that, while I understand your motivations and arguments for desiring to do so, I have moral objections to advising you on ways to encourage the spread of a deadly, pandemic disease. So is there anything else?
Karen: Okay, well, how about an idea or two for keeping Biden from defunding the police?
Tom: Biden doesn’t want to defund the police.
Karen: Yes, he does!
Tom: Does not.
Karen: Does too!
Tom: Joe Biden most certainly does not want to, nor has he ever proposed to, defund any law enforcement agency whatsoever, and if you think otherwise, madame, you are decidedly mistaken.
Karen: Well, okay, how about keeping liberals from defunding the police? Got any ideas about that?
Tom: Sure – the military should stop offering to sell local and state law enforcement inappropriate equipment. That’s the issue which has made the vast majority of liberals so upset.
Karen: And just what, pray tell, is this “inappropriate equipment” you are referring to?
Tom: Ah… how about… bayonets for starters?
Karen: You’re telling me the police don’t need bayonets?
Tom: That’s right – the police don’t need to have long knives which can be affixed to the barrels of rifles or similar weapons. Such implements are completely inappropriate for any imaginable legitimate, legal action in which a police force could possibly engage.
Karen: So what? They look cool, don’t they? Talk about effective crowd control!
Tom: Flame throwers look cool, too, Karen, but they don’t have any more of a role for police crowd control than bayonets, and liberals wouldn’t want local or state government money spent on flame throwers, either.
Karen: Shows you what a lack of guts and imagination those [expletive] liberals have.
Tom: When it comes to crowd control, I think most liberals draw the line at tear gas.
Karen: Frankly, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be as much use as I thought maybe you would be. Oh well… anyway… how about you tell me what you think of some possible names for my new movement?
Tom: You’re starting a movement?
Karen: Yeah. Somebody has to, or the Illuminati are going to start splicing us with alien DNA and God knows what the [expletive] is going to happen. I was thinking maybe, “Anti-Facemasks Alliance.”
Tom: Isn’t that a bit too close to “Antifa?” You wouldn’t want to be confused with them, I’m sure.
Karen: No, we wouldn’t. Good point. How about “Conservatives United to Negate the Tyrannical State?”
Tom: Ah… well… no, I wouldn’t recommend that, actually.
Karen: How come?
Tom: The… acronym…
Karen: The what? Speak English, damn it!
Tom: The… how shall I put this… the… abbreviation… leaves something to be desired…
Karen: Okay, I still don’t understand, but how about, “Brave Individuals Getting Outrageous Things to Stop” as an alternative?
Tom: Well, it certainly has an element of… honesty… to it. I would say it looks like your subconscious mind is working overtime on these.
Karen: So it’s worth considering?
Tom: As opposed to… what other candidates?
Karen: Well, there’s “Libertarian Activist Movement to Eliminate Subversives.”
Tom: It… definitely gets a… certain message across. Anything else?
Karen: Um… there’s “Movement to Oppose Repressive Orders and National Standards.”
Tom: That does have a nice ring to it, I’d say. Why don’t you go with that one?
Karen: You think so?
Tom: Yes, I believe it encapsulates the very essence of what you’ve been telling me here, and does so rather succinctly, at that.
Karen: Okay, well, then, I gotta get going, but maybe, since you’re supposed to be so smart and all, I live in Los Angeles and because of this coronavirus [expletive] all the good hair salons are shut down.
Tom: The good hair salons?
Karen: Yeah, you know – the ones that work on… my kind of hair.
Tom: Your kind of hair? What kind is that?
Karen: Well, what do you think? Straight, blonde Caucasian hair, of course! And I really need to get my hair dyed… uh… done. And I’m not going to sit outside where my neighbors can watch the stylist work on me and gossip about it later, either! Any ideas about how I can get my hair salon to open up again so I can go inside and get a hair styled like I used to?
Tom: Sure. Start wearing a face mask.
Karen: Alright, that does it! I’m hanging up.
Tom: Oh, I’m heartbroken. Goodbye.