As the end of of this month draws near, so approaches what I like to call the beginning of SuperNewHallowGivingMas, that extended period between the thirty-first of October and Super Bowl Sunday, where a plethora of festive occasions and holidays jostle one another, jammed into the calendar cheek by jowl, like shoppers at a Macy’s bargain basement sale. Traditionally, nothing much happens in Washington after Halloween until sometime in the late winter, when federal bureaucrats and members of Congress with their bloated staff in tow, finally drag themselves into their offices, massive blow-out football party hangovers and all, to resume something resembling actual work.
Consequently, if he can’t talk Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema down from their respective redoubts of megalomaniac political self-gratification and restore them to something resembling sanity by the end of next week, Joe Biden may have to wait until February to get his precious, heroic infrastructure and mind-boggling omnibus maximus reconciliation bills passed. Should that happen, it will be quite a feat for the Democrats to keep control of either the House or the Senate in 2022. And Joe’s Panglossian debacle in Afghanistan isn’t going to help much either. Not to mention every petroleum producer in the world trying to play catch-up on all the revenue they lost in 2020, massive resignations and strikes stemming from American workers finally realizing what a raw deal they’ve been getting for the last fifty years, or the global supply chain’s massive case of constipation, which shows no signs of yielding to Joe’s bumbling efforts at prescribing an effective purgative. You don’t have to be a political genius to figure out that if folks can’t get their Halloween party Squid Game costumes from China until Thanksgiving, there will be repercussions in the Democratic primaries.
About that supply chain thing – I don’t suppose most people know where “just in time inventory” came from. Turns out it was invented by accountants in order to avoid taxes. You see, if you own a widget factory, and you have a warehouse full of widgets, that sets the typical local and state governments drooling over the opportunity to apply some property taxes to them. So, the finagling accountants reasoned, come up with a way to arrange it so you have as little property – widgets or widget parts – as possible in your factory at any given time. And… presto! Just in time inventory was invented. City hall and the state capital can’t tax you for what isn’t there, now can they? And it worked like a charm – until it didn’t, that is, because none of the finagling accountants ever thought about what would happen to a global supply chain based on just in time inventory if there was a global pandemic that forced millions of people in that supply chain to stop working for several months. Well, as it turned out, more than several months, actually. So if you can’t get that toy or video game your child is expecting you to give them for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, or whatever, such an event being a family tragedy that will have them resent you and consider you a rotten parent for the rest of your life, well, now you know on whom to blame your everlasting pangs of guilt. No need to thank me. After all, that’s what I’m here for.
What has me thinking about things that depend heavily on being done sooner rather later is a telephone consultation I conducted Friday at the office, where Gretchen and I have returned for two or three days a week lately, easing back into our pre-pandemic routine. She let me know around nine-thirty that a certain Mr. Dan Scavino had called, requesting an appointment as soon as possible. He has been subpoenaed by the 117th Congress’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, which, like Cinderella’s coach, will most certainly turn into a pumpkin as soon as the Democrats lose their majority in the House of Representatives to the Republicans. Before, that, of course, they hope to get to the truth about the who, what, where, when, why and how of the riot that transpired at the US Capitol on January 6 of this year, when a mob of thousands invaded and sacked the building in an apparent attempt to stop Congress from counting and certifying the Electoral College votes for US President.
Mr. Scavino worked for President Donald J. Trump at the time as his Director of Social Media, collecting the princely salary of $179,700, which sounds like a lot of money until you read the Washington DC real estate listings and check out the cost of living anywhere west of Rock Creek Park. Seriously, this guy got his big break when he was assigned to be Donald Trump’s golf caddy, and his BA in communications from SUNY notwithstanding, he obviously has a PhD in sycophancy. His big claim to fame is that he was the ghostwriter for some of President Trump’s tweets and Facebook posts, which the digital cognoscenti distinguish from the genuine article by noting those which lack spelling and grammatical errors. So, it seems that Mr. Scavino, at least, passed college English 101, which Mr. Trump, evidently either cut, slept through or has completely forgotten, and presumably “covfefe” was authentic Trump.
Gretchen booked him for an open slot in the afternoon that had been vacated by a Haitian chargé d’affaires who was called away at the last minute to attend a meeting at the State Department concerning the recent kidnapping of seventeen missionaries by a criminal gang that basically runs a town outside Port-Au-Prince and wants a million dollars apiece ransom for them. Here’s what transpired when Mr. Scavino called:
Scavino: Hello? Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he.
Scavino: You mean, “this is him.”
Tom: No, I don’t. One does not use the objective case with an intransitive verb.
Scavino: One doesn’t?
Tom: One does not. How may I help you today, Mr. Scavino?
Scavino: Call me Dan.
Tom: I’d rather not, sir.
Scavino: Really? How come?
Tom: Given your relationship of sworn fealty to the former president, it would feel as though I were becoming chummy with a member of the Schutzstaffel.
Scavino: What’s that, a German golf club or something?
Tom: Never mind. How did you get this number?
Scavino: Rand Paul gave it to me.
Tom: I must remember to thank him. So – what can I do for you, sir?
Scavino: Well, uh… first of all, I’ve checked out your, um… consultation rates, and I want to make sure that this thing I’ve heard about you giving out free consultations is true.
Tom: It certainly is. Each initial consultation is provided completely free of charge.
Scavino: You make money like that?
Tom: It’s part of my marketing plan, sir. On the other hand, as you can see from my consultation rates, my time is valuable.
Scavino: [Expletive] yeah, I guess so. People pay you that kind of money for your advice?
Tom: They do. Again, sir, how may I help you?
Scavino: Well, um… okay, so this is free, right?
Tom: Correct. You will not be billed, receive an invoice or anything like that for participating in this telephone conversation. Now, if I may be so bold as to ask, what’s on your mind?
Scavino: [Expletive] Jesus [expletive] Christ, that’s [expletive] good, ’cause those rates… I mean… wow!
Tom: You get what you pay for, sir. Your problem?
Scavino: Yeah, okay, um… I received this subpoena, see…
Tom: From the congressional committee that’s investigating the January 6 insurrection, yes, I know.
Scavino: Now hold on there a second, okay? I wouldn’t call it an “insurrection” if I were you.
Tom: There is no way on God’s green earth you could ever be me, sir, even though we are both of Italian extraction.
Scavino: Really? “Collins” isn’t exactly an Italian name in most people’s books.
Tom: I do business as Tom Collins. My full name is Tom Collins Martini.
Scavino: Holy [expletive], how did you get a name like that?
Tom: My father was a bartender. He named my brother Rob Roy.
Scavino: Son of a [expletive]! No [expletive]?
Tom: No [expletive]. And I call what happened on January 6 exactly what it was – an insurrection.
Scavino: All right, fine. You say POH-TAH-TOES and I say PUH-TAY-TOES; you say “this is he” and I say “this is him;” you say “insurrection” and I say “peaceful visit to protest a stolen election,” whatever. My problem is, I got this [expletive] subpoena, and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives just voted to get Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress and I’m [expletive] [expletive] thinking about that [expletive] happening to me! How do I get out of it?
Tom: Why would you want to?
Scavino: What the [expletive]? Whattaya [expletive] mean, “why would I want to?” Because if I do, my lawyer tells me I can go to jail [expletive] big time if I [expletive] lie, whattaya [expletive] think, paisan?
Tom: So big deal. Tell the truth. End of problem and you’re laughin’, paisan.
Scavino: If it was that [expletive] simple, I wouldn’t be askin’ you, paisan!
Tom: So take the fifth, paisan.
Scavino: I ain’t sayin’ I’d need to [expletive] do that!
Tom: Of course not. You’d never say that, wiseguy.
Scavino: Don’t you call me no [expletive] wiseguy, okay?
Tom: Oh, come on! It took them what – two weeks to find you hiding out a Mar-a-Lago under Trump’s skirts so they could serve you the subpoena in the first place, didn’t it? So get real with me, paisan. Isn’t that exactly the kind of behavior Joe and Jane Sixpack would expect from a Mafiosi? If you’re not a stereotypical member of the Trump New York crime family, then stop acting like one.
Scavino: That’s your advice?
Tom: For starters, yeah. And maybe it’s time somebody gave it to you, paisan, because I hope for your sake you’ve figured out how Donald John Trump rewards undying loyalty, and it ain’t pretty.
Scavino: All right, fine. What do I care? I’m not payin’ squat for this anyhow. What else you got?
Tom: Ran and hid from the subpoena. Don’t want to tell the truth. Haven’t got the stu’ gotts to take the fifth or do time for refusing to testify. I dare say, you are a piece of work, sir. Well, I guess the first thing you could do is wait and see if Merrick Garland has the stones to follow through on the vote the House took this week on prosecuting Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress. If it turns out Garland is a spineless, mealy-mouth excuse for a human being, not only are you off the hook, but it will also be a good thing for America that he never got appointed to the Supreme Court. And, of course, history will remember him as a worthless piece of equine excrement, for what’s that’s worth.
Scavino: Which won’t be much. And you happen to be a piece of work yourself, Mr. Collins… or Martini, or whatever you call yourself.
Tom: Thanks. Coming from you, that’s a compliment. And yeah, unfortunately, the opprobrium of history plus three dollars and fifty cents will buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. If you’re careful not to order venti.
Scavino: Or too many extras. But what if it turns out this jamoke Garland actually has a pair, huh? What then?
Tom: Then I would suggest you change your name.
Scavino: What good will that do?
Tom: The committee will have to change the name on the subpoena and re-submit it. That will buy you some time to make the necessary arrangements.
Scavino: For what?
Tom: That’s for you to decide. You could just disappear. Or you could fake your own death and disappear. Or, you could sneak into a country with no extradition treaty with the United States…
Scavino: Like where?
Tom: Russia, for example. Or China, Vietnam, Congo, Libya, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkmenistan…
Scavino: What are you [expletive] talkin’ about? Those are all either stinkin’ third-world [expletive]-holes or [expletive] dictatorships where nobody has any [expletive] rights!
Tom: And just exactly what kind of country do you think Donald Trump wants the United States to become?
Scavino: That does it! You’re sayin’ if Merrick Garland goes after Steve Bannon, either I testify before Congress like the subpoena says or I’m totally [expletive]!
Scavino: And if I gotta take the [expletive] Fifth Amendment, it’s just my [expletive] tough luck?
Tom: If that bothers you, I would suggest you make a deal to obtain immunity for your testimony.
Scavino: That’s what my [expletive] lawyer said! Ain’t there nothin’ else, for [expletive] sake?
Tom: As I said, the only alternative is to disappear to someplace with no extradition treaty. How about Tunisia? That can be reasonably pleasant. It has a lovely Mediterranean climate, in the north, at least. However, no matter where you go, you will, of course, need a minimum of approximately two million dollars. Otherwise, you won’t be able to live in any of those countries safely.
Scavino: Two million bucks? Where the [expletive] am I supposed to get that kind of money?
Tom: You mean, your long association with billionaire real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump hasn’t made you at least wealthy enough to comfortably flee from the consequences of his crimes?
Scavino: Uh… I guess not.
Tom: Well, then, sir, the best advice I can offer you is that honesty is the best policy.
Tom: Sure. Honesty.
Tom: Try it. You’ll like it. It beats the hell out of kissing up to an insane pathological liar for a living.
Scavino: Hold on there! That was uncalled for!
Tom: So was the January 6 insurrection.
Scavino: Thank God I won’t have to pay for this, that’s all I’ve got to say!
Tom: In that case, thank God I don’t have to talk to you anymore. Goodbye!