Ron DeSantis Ponders Aping his Superhero

As the 117th Congress ends its lame duck session and prepares to limp, like Old Father Time at New Years, into the labyrinthine hall of mirrors that is history, the January 6 Committee prepares for its most significant vote, one that, in order to ratify its underlying action, must be unanimous; the issue under consideration being: shall it refer recommendations of criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice? Whether that vote should be a Yea or Nay, in the opinion of Washington’s political cognoscenti, varies considerably and does not readily correlate with party affiliation, with the exception of the MAGA Republicans, who unanimously believe that if the vote is not unanimously in the negative, every member of the Committee should be summarily executed for high treason.
On the one hand, it is feared that, if the Committee votes unanimously to refer Donald Trump and his gaggle of cronies for prosecution as alleged criminals guilty of insurrection, obstructing Congress, inciting a riot, fraudulently sending electors with forged credentials to represent states in the Electoral College, and masterminding more bungled coup conspiracies committed by more bozos than Carter used to have little liver pills, it will further divide and polarize the national body politic. Which is a lot like being concerned that the health of a patient with fourth-stage cancer might be worsened by him lighting up a Davidoff cigar. On the other, there is considerable hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth that if the Committee fails to unanimously vote for the referrals, it will send a signal that engaging in organized violence in order to overthrow the US government and institute an authoritarian fascist regime based on bigotry, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia and exploitative laissez-faire capitalism is just fine and dandy with the powers that be. Which is a lot like a suburban mom from Potomac worrying about whether her son’s meth habit might affect his chances of being accepted at Harvard.
Meanwhile, Trump himself, after touting an impending “major announcement,” widely supposed by naive and unsophisticated folk, such as the talking heads of cable television, to be the announcement of a 2024 running mate, unveiled instead his exclusive collection of non-fungible tokens attached to digital graphic pictures depicting himself as various incarnations of, as he put it, “superheroes,” priced at $99.00 each. They sold out immediately, raising some $4.4 million dollars.
Ah, yes, the NFT – like cryptocurrency, another misbegotten bastard child of the otherwise very respectable family of Blockchain. One is reminded of the tragic birth of other such black sheep, such as BitTorrent and Gnutella, family shame of clan Peer-to-Peer, or Social Media, the evil progeny which sprung from the unholy union of SMS and HTML. It seems that the ability and willingness of certain greedy, destructive or just plain idiotic people to pervert every useful software paradigm invented to some form of wickedness or another is virtually unlimited; pun intended.
Well, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So I was not particularly surprised when, relaxing after a breakfast of Andean alpine duck eggs Benedict with Lino Jotas acorn-fed Iberico ham, white Belgian asparagus and Pyrenees goat butter Bernaise sauce, accompanied by Louis Roederer blood orange mimosas with Cerise, while relaxing on the couch with the latest edition of the Atlantic and a warm, steaming cup of Volcanica Free-Range Kopi Luwak with a dollop of organic grass-fed Tasmanian Illawarra Shorthorn heavy cream and a shot of Rémy Martin Louis XIII, that I received a telephone call on my land line from someone interested flattering Donald Trump by mindlessly imitating him. Caller ID told me it was Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Actually, that was hardly surprising at all; in fact, in retrospect, there was a definite air of inevitability about it.

DeSantis: Hello, Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he.
DeSantis: This is Governor Ron DeSantis, of Florida.
Tom: Yes, I know.
DeSantis: You did? How?
Tom: Caller ID. I have the premium Beltway Insider package. To what do I owe the honor of this call, Governor?
DeSantis: Um… well, I heard that you… don’t charge for…
Tom: Yes, that’s correct. Initial consultations are free. Could I inquire as to the nature of your current conundrum?
DeSantis: I uh… yes, well, I guess you’ve heard about Trump’s NFTs?
Tom: I live in Great Falls, Virginia, sir, not under a rock. In a word, yes. What about them?
DeSantis: It’s just that… it’s occurred to me I could do that, too.
Tom: Just as it occurred to you that Ron DeSantis could also further his political career by race baiting, stirring up hatred of foreigners, spreading lunatic conspiracy theories, stoking irrational fears of homosexuals, denigrating science, advocating the dismantling of democracy, suppressing freedom of expression, worshiping assault weapons and pandering to the bronze-age fantasies of Bible-thumping evangelical ignoramuses?
DeSantis: Gee whiz, Collins, no need to get personal here. Like you just said, it’s all just politics.
Tom: So it is. What kind of NFTs do you have in mind?
DeSantis: Well, my God, nothing like that childish crap Trump came out with, that’s for sure. Superheroes – I mean, really, just look at those things! They’re like the product of a seven-year old’s mind!
Tom: I believe you owe seven-year-olds an apology, sir. A four-year-old, maybe, if they came from a culturally deprived background. So, what would your NFTs look like?
DeSantis: I’m thinking… a collection of tasteful commemorative collectibles, each depicting a great achievement of Governor Ron DeSantis; you know, a real class act.
Tom: I’m sure. Which achievements were you considering for commemoration: when you rejected a state-wide mask mandate during the height of the covid-19 pandemic; when you invited Dr. Scott Atlas from the Hoover Institute to spread lies about covid with you at your press conferences; when you threatened to withhold covid vaccines from Florida counties where local officials criticized your management of the pandemic; when you banned masks in Florida schools when the state was an international epicenter of that pandemic; when you imposed $5,000 fines on counties and municipalities that mandated vaccines for their employees; when you appointed a doctor who advocated hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat covid as you surgeon general; when you signed a bill that cut nine weeks of the period a woman could legally terminate a pregnancy…
DeSantis: Well, maybe just a couple of the medical triumphs. Don’t want to overdo it with those.
Tom: Right. So, how about your campaign against teaching Critical Race Theory in Florida public schools?
DeSantis: Yeah, that might be a good thing to commemorate.
Tom: Despite the fact that CRT was never actually taught in any Florida public school?
DeSantis: Which made it that much easier to ban!
Tom: So how about when you issued a proclamation that any school or university that promoted a “state ideology” or promoted any type of “indoctrination” would lose state funding, and then refused to provide any examples of what you were talking about?
DeSantis: Okay, okay… yeah… a deft mastery of the written word, that was, if I do say so myself. How about when I signed Florida House Bill 395, designating November 7 as Victims of Communism Day?
Tom: Ah, of course; with mandatory lectures on the evils of Stalin, Mao and Castro. Depicted with a nice Stars-and-Stripes background motif, perhaps?
DeSantis: That could work.
Tom: How about your environmental achievements? You could have an NFT of you signing House Bill 919, requiring Florida cities and counties to buy electricity from coal and gas-fired power plants. Or your Second Amendment triumphs; say, for instance, an NFT of you holding an AR-15, to commemorate your A-plus rating with the National Rifle Association?
DeSantis: Yeah, those might be sweet.
Tom: And then there’s that famous incident when you used federal covid state grant money to fund that scheme where you tricked illegal immigrants in Texas into being flown to Martha’s Vineyard.
DeSantis: Oh, right, yeah, that would make a good one! Stuck it to the liberals with their “sanctuary city” talk, didn’t I?
Tom: You could say that. And how about some NFTs commemorating your achievements in the field of voting rights, like when you eliminated ballot drop boxes, or when you required Florida voters to re-register every year if they want to vote by mail?
DeSantis: You suggesting a two-fer there? An NFT commemorating both?
Tom: Tie the issues together with a single image.
DeSantis: Nice! So you think I should go ahead and get some of these NFT things made?
Tom: No, no, I’m not saying that – we were just brainstorming some NFT ideas there; please don’t conclude I’m necessarily endorsing the concept. You should consider all the pros and cons before making a decision. For example, if people pay, let’s say, $99.00 or something like that for your NFTs, and a year later, they’re only worth twenty-five cents, it might adversely affect your reputation.
DeSantis: That could happen?
Tom: If recent experience with NFTs is any indication, it definitely could. For example, there’s the case of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs.
DeSantis: The what?
Tom: They are NFTs attached to digital pictures… well… cartoon drawings, actually, of bored-looking simians in yacht club outfits. In September, 2021, a bundle of 107 Bored Ape NFTs sold for $24,400,000.
DeSantis: Twenty-four million dollars?
Tom: Twenty-four point four. That was an average price of $228,038 each. And the prices kept going up. In January of this year, Justin Bieber bought one for $1,300,000.
DeSantis: Justin Bieber, the singer?
Tom: Yeah.
DeSantis: One-point three million?
Tom: Correct. But it was a speculative bubble, just like the Dutch Tulip Boom.
DeSantis: Dutch Tulips?
Tom: Correct. Back in the seventeenth century, the Dutch got into tulips just like Americans got into NFTs in the last couple of years. The prices for fancy tulips went up and up and up until you could buy a house in downtown Amsterdam with one. That only lasted a couple of years, too, and when the market collapsed, a whole lot of people went broke. And people don’t like being broke.
DeSantis: And you’re saying, NFTs are like those tulips?
Tom: Turned out they were just like them. Today, those $228,038 Bored Ape NFTs are worth about $2,145 each. That’s a ninety-nine percent decline. Justin Bieber’s Bored Ape is worth around $74,000, but that’s primarily because it belongs to Justin Bieber. Since he’s a celebrity, see, he only lost ninety-four percent of his investment – so far, anyway. My point being, you don’t necessarily want to associate yourself in the public mind with massive losses in value. And then, of course, there’s the risk of the NFT server getting hacked.
DeSantis: NFT Server?
Tom: Yeah – it works like this: NFTs are maintained using block chain digital technology. When someone buys an NFT, what they really get is a big long secret code, expressed as string of characters. That code unlocks access to view the file – a picture, whether that’s a cartoon of a Bored Ape in a yachting outfit, a childish vision of Trump as a superhero… or you, doing something memorable as Governor of Florida. And all that access security depends on highly complex cryptographic calculations done by a computer called a server. It sits on the Internet and accepts requests from NFT owners to view the pictures for which they paid “X” amount of dollars to have exclusive access. Now, if a hacker breaks into the operating system of that server, they can run another software program that encrypts all the material on it, and all the material in that server’s backup memory, with another big long secret key that only the hacker knows.
DeSantis: And then?
Tom: And then, somebody has to pay the hacker a big ransom, or nobody gets to see their NFTs. And that’s not the only thing besides a precipitous collapse in market price that could totally trash NFTs. There’s also that day in the future called Y2Q.
DeSantis: Y2Q? What the hell is that?
Tom: It’s like Y2K, but worse. It’s the day when quantum computers overcome block chain and public key encryption computational infeasibility. When that happens, all NFTs will become totally worthless.
DeSantis: I’m not sure I followed what you just said completely, but when will this… Y2Q Day arrive?
Tom: Oh, not for at least another seven years.
DeSantis: Seven years!
Tom: Well, it could be more. Most definitely some time before 2032, though. But Y2Q won’t just destroy NFTs, of course. It will be the end of cryptocurrency and e-commerce, too; and the international electronic banking system, naturally.
DeSantis: Naturally?
Tom: Oh, sure. There will be no more Secure Sockets Layer, you know: it will be utter toast after Y2Q.
DeSantis: What the [expletive] is the Secure Sockets Layer?
Tom: It’s something you depend on to protect you from cyber-criminals every time you use a computer or a smart phone, and it depends on cryptographic computational infeasibility. And when the entangled qubits come to get it, everything, everywhere on the Internet will go… pfffft!
DeSantis: Isn’t anybody doing anything about this… this… tangled qubit stuff?
Tom: Oh, Ron, come now – all this stuff I’m talking about now is science! And we know how much contempt you MAGA types have for that. You just let the egghead liberals worry about it, okay?
DeSantis: Um… all right… whatever. I guess NFTs don’t sound like such a hot idea after all.
Tom: No, they’re not. They’re an extremely stupid idea, just like cryptocurrency, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tik-Tok and the rest of their noxious ilk – nothing but silicon snake oil concocted to control the minds and behaviors of brain-dead morons.
DeSantis: But… but… brain-dead morons are my political base!
Tom: Well then, see? Maybe NFTs are the answer for you after all!
DeSantis: Damn it all! Now I’m really confused. What the [expletive] should I do?
Tom: Hang up, sit down, take ten deep breaths, and try thinking logically instead of with your emotions and prejudices. Then you can make a correct and rational decision.
DeSantis: How can I possibly do it? I’ve been thinking with my emotions and prejudices my entire life!
Tom: For the answer to that conundrum, you will have to make an appointment.
DeSantis: Oh, yeah? You’ve been jerking me around this whole time, haven’t you? “Try to think logically instead of with your emotions and prejudices.” What kind of advice is that, anyway?
Tom: It’s good advice.
DeSantis: What!
Tom: Good advice costs nothing and it’s worth the price.
DeSantis: So I have to make an appointment with you, and pay, is that it?
Tom: Oh no, not with me. With a psychiatrist. In a few years, maybe one can cure you of wanting to imitate a person like Donald Trump. Goodbye!