After work last Thursday evening, I arrived at my home in Great Falls, Virginia around eight, poured myself three fingers of Glenmorangie 21 on some Icelandic glacier shards and settled down on the couch to relax listening to a rare direct-to-disk recording of Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in E-flat Major. I was about sixty-four bars into Veni, Creator Spirtus when my landline rang.
Caller ID indicated it was Shannon. Regular readers of this Web Log will readily remember her, of course. I was relieved to see that the call was originating from West Virginia, and not anywhere nearby, since the last thing I needed after nine hours of dealing with diplomats, think-tank mavens, generals and assorted Washington insiders was a visit from her and my brother-in-law, Hank. Knowing the two of them as I do – especially her – I lifted the needle from the turntable and answered. Not doing so, I was well aware, would almost certainly precipitate an in-person visit from them. Above all else, Shannon hates being ignored.
Shannon: Tom! Have you seen what they’ve done to him?
Tom: To whom?
Shannon: To Trump, of course! Biden’s Deep State is humiliating the legitimate president of the United States! It’s election interference! They’re suppressing free speech!
Tom: Oh, that. Yeah… um… to what do I owe the honor of this telephone call?
Shannon: Who else should I call about something like this at a time like this, huh?
Tom: You could call your husband, Arthur. I’m sure he has some interesting perspectives on the situation.
Shannon: Call Arthur? Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?
Tom: No, no, I’m serious. I was over there in Fairfax visiting him and Rose and the kids, and they all miss you and Hank very much, what with the two of you up there in that backwoods survival complex with all those other prepper gun nuts.
Shannon: How dare you call me a prepper gun nut!
Tom: Think about it, Shannon, shouldn’t you be on the phone right now with Arthur and Rose and Hank’s kids, and your and Arthur’s kids, instead of on the phone with me? Think of all the things you’ve missed since you and Hank ran off together to await the End Times during the Obama administration – all the graduations, the confirmations, the dance recitals, the soccer tournaments, the…
Shannon: Barack Obama is the Antichrist!
Tom: Oh, come on, Shannon – he’s black, that’s all. You’re just one of those white people that never got over the fact that America elected a black president. Ah, hold on for a minute, someone else is calling me.
Katje: Hi, Tom! It’s Katje!
Tom: Um… yeah… hi, how you doing?
Katje: Just great! Isn’t it fantastic?
Tom: Is what fantastic?
Katje: They finally got him!
Tom: Got who?
Katje: Trump! This time, he’s going to get booked, mug shot and all!
Tom: He’s innocent until proven guilty, you know.
Katje: Tom! He’s guilty as hell! Ninety-one felony counts in four jurisdictions! Has anyone, in the entire history of the United States, ever been simultaneously accused of ninety-one felonies at the same time?
Tom: Actually, no, not ninety-one concurrent felony counts. There was was a Genovese crime boss who was indicted for fifty-seven felonies at the same time back in the 1980’s, but that’s as close as anyone else has ever come to what Donald John Trump has accomplished. I’m sure that ninety-one is a record that will stand for decades, if not centuries.
Katje: Well, okay then! How could he get off on all ninety-one counts? It’s impossible!
Tom: Uh, maybe… how come you’re calling me?
Katje: Well, who else should I call about something like this at a time like this?
Tom: I see. Can you hold on for a second while I put you into a conference call?
Katje: Conference call?
Tom: Hello, Shannon?
Tom: Guess who just called me about the Trump arrest?
Shannon: Arrest? He’s a political prisoner! It’s an illegal detention carried out by Joe Biden!
Tom: It’s a Georgia state case, Shannon. Joe Biden has nothing to do with it.
Shannon: Joe Biden has everything to do with it!
Katje: What the [expletive]? Is that Shannon?
Shannon: What the [expletive]? Is that Katje, your brother Rob’s wife?
Katje: Yeah, it is. What about it?
Shannon: What about it is, you’re a left-wing, tree-hugging, [expletive]-loving communist vegan!
Katje: Tom! Are you going to let your brother-in-law’s brother’s wife call your sister-in-law a [expletive]-lover?
Tom: Well, you don’t hate them, do you?
Katje: Of course not! How could you even say that?
Tom: It’s just that… I’m sure she meant it as a compliment; didn’t you Shannon?
Shannon: I sure as hell didn’t!
Tom: Ahem. Be that as it may, then, I thought that, since you both felt more or less simultaneously moved to call me to talk about the ongoing arraignment of Donald Trump in the state of Georgia on thirteen felony counts of racketeering, why don’t we all three have a nice little chat about it? Katje, can you tell us why you’re so excited?
Katje: Because Trump tried to overthrow the government and…
Shannon: [Expletive]! He called for true patriots to fight like hell, or they wouldn’t have a country anymore, that’s what he did!
Tom: Now, now, Shannon, let’s not interrupt each other here. Katje, you were saying?
Katje: Yes, thank you, Tom. I was saying that he was the mastermind of a conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States, and even though he has been indicted and arraigned for business fraud, mishandling top secret documents and violations of federal law pertaining to that conspiracy, so far he has never been subjected to the same procedures as any other criminal defendant accused of felony crimes. But today, he will be!
Tom: Not exactly – they’re not going to search him, put him a holding cell, or even weigh him and measure his height; they let him send those in. He says he’s six foot three and weights two hundred and fifteen pounds, and they’re not going to check him out on that with a scale and a height chart. And they sure aren’t going to make him squat while a cop puts on a latex glove and…
Katje: At least they’re going to take his mug shot this time!
Shannon: Ha! Is that all? Take his picture? Is that what has you liberal socialists dancing around gloating?
Tom: Shannon has a point there, Katje. I bet he spent hours this week in front of a mirror, practicing poses, looking for just the right facial expression.
Katje: The right facial expression for what? To make him look the most like Mussolini?
Tom: Someone like that – Putin, maybe; and then put the photo all over his campaign merchandise. I bet he makes millions off it. You’d buy a T-shirt with his mug shot on it, wouldn’t you, Shannon?
Shannon: A T-shirt… with his mug shot on it?
Tom: Yeah. Or a tote bag. Or a coffee mug. A mug with a mug shot, where you could put a shot in your coffee, get it? And when you put the hot coffee in, he turns orange. Seriously, it’s dead certain he’ll do it, you know. The guy never met a grift he didn’t like.
Katje: He’s got a real good point there, Shannon. He’s totally shameless, you know.
Shannon: He’s the greatest president in the history of the USA! And yeah, come to think of it, if he puts his picture on an ammo box, I’ll buy ten and shoot all the bullets at targets with pictures of people he complains about on Truth Social pinned to them!
Katje: Except now, Trump will be posting on X.
Tom: Elon Musk changed the name of Twitter to “X.”
Shannon: Oh. Missed that.
Tom: Well, Trump hasn’t actually posted anything on it yet, but I bet he does soon. Probably tonight. Then it will be just like the good old days when he was on Twitter, goading you and Hank to do things you never would have thought of on your own, won’t it?
Katje: I bet Shannon can hardly wait. Remember when Hank got busted for participating in the January 6 insurrection?
Shannon: It was not an insurrection! Hank told me all about it. He said it was mostly peaceful.
Katje: Peaceful? Did you watch the January 6 hearings?
Shannon: Of course not! That stuff was all Deep State propaganda and the videos were all staged by crisis actors paid by Biden administration agent provocateurs!
Katje: Oh, really? And how do you know that?
Shannon: It was on Truth Social! And besides, Hank was there, and I believe him.
Tom: By the way, Shannon, what happened to Hank’s federal court case? The one that he was out on bail for after he got busted based on videos of him running around the Capitol knocking over stuff with that “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag of his?
Shannon: He… uh… it was dropped.
Tom: Because he cooperated and testified against people who attacked Capitol Police officers.
Shannon: Well, what if he did? The whole thing was a hoax anyway!
Katje: I can name some Capitol Police officers who might disagree with that.
Shannon: And I can name plenty of people who think Joe Biden stole the 2020 election!
Katje: Are they the same ones who believe in Jewish space lasers and pedophile dungeons under the Comet Ping Pong Pizza Restaurant on Connecticut Avenue, or are they the ones who believe in Lizard People and that covid-19 was a hoax?
Shannon: Covid-19 is a hoax!
Tom: How can you say that, Shannon? Everyone in the family knows you almost died from covid-19.
Shannon: I did not! I had bacterial pneumonia! Anyway, what’s that got to do with the weaponization of the American justice system, huh? That’s what this business in Georgia tonight is all about, you know!
Katje: Are you kidding? If anybody is going to weaponize the American justice system, it’s Donald Trump’s Republican party!
Tom: Returning to the topic you both called me to discuss, would either of you care to opine as to what the country is going to do if Trump gets convicted in Georgia and wins the presidency of the United States?
Katje: He’ll be ineligible to be president, obviously – Twenty-fifth Amendment, Section Four.
Shannon: [Expletive]! He’ll pardon himself!
Tom: Whether or not a US president can legally pardon himself, there is no way he could pardon himself for a state crime, thirteen of which he is accused of in Georgia.
Shannon: Then the governor of Georgia will pardon him. He’s a Republican, he has to!
Tom: He can’t. The law in Georgia requires that the State Board of Pardons and Paroles grant pardons.
Shannon: Then they can do it!
Tom: Except, the law in Georgia also requires that a person can only be pardoned for their crime after they have completed serving their sentence.
Shannon: Are you [expletive] me? What kind of blithering morons could pass a law like that?
Tom: A bunch of Dixie-crats who pushed through a state constitutional amendment for it in 1943.
Tom: As in, the Southern Democrats who seceded from the Union and fought the Civil War against Lincoln. Basically, given the vicissitudes of American political history, the 1943 grandfathers of today’s Georgia MAGA Republicans. You know – Marjorie Taylor Greene’s kind of people: KKK and all that. It was passed to keep the Negroes in line, you see. No hope of a pardon getting you out of jail, Rastus, better not be stealin’ no more chickens, keep your eyes off the white women, don’t go around no polling places during election time if you ain’t passed that literacy test, ya hear, et cetera, et cetera.
Katje: My God, the irony. The troglodyte ancestors of the idiots who believe in Trump’s Big Lie passed the law that will make it impossible for him to escape imprisonment for a conspiracy to achieve the white evangelical Christian racist dictatorship they all dreamed of.
Shannon: Well, they can amend the Georgia state constitution, can’t they?
Tom: Georgia’s a purple state now, Shannon. It’s not likely.
Shannon: All right then, who says Trump can’t run the country from a prison cell in Georgia?
Katje: Anyone with an IQ above 60 who isn’t bat-spit crazy, that’s who.
Shannon: Oh yeah? Why couldn’t he just do everything over Zoom, like you wussie Democrats did during your fake covid epidemic, huh?
Katje: And what about if he loses the election? What then? You think he’s going to beat ninety-one felony counts? How likely is that?
Shannon: He’s not going to lose the election!
Katje: What makes you so sure?
Shannon: My AR-15!
Katje: See? See? See what we’re dealing with here, Tom? If Trump doesn’t win the 2024 election so he can pardon himself and, I don’t know, invade Georgia and arrest Fani Willis or whatever, then Shannon and her buddies are going to start another Civil War!
Tom: Except you’re overlooking one thing.
Katje: What’s that?
Tom: The Civil War never ended.
Katje: The Civil War? Never ended?
Tom: It’s been going on for one hundred and sixty-two years. It just changed form. Soon it will change again.
Shannon: Sounds good to me. So, who the [expletive] is going to win?
Tom: Same as in any war – nobody.
Katje: Damn, that sounds depressing.
Shannon: Speak for yourself, candy-shorts. MAGA patriots love a good fight!
Katje: What’s your analysis, Tom? Is there any way out of this sociopolitical morass?
Tom: On September 10, 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry overcame superior British numbers and extremely complex, adverse circumstances of climate, water and terrain to defeat the forces of Royal Navy Captain Robert Heriot Barclay at the Battle of Lake Erie. Upon his victory, he sent a dispatch to Major General William Henry Harrison, which read, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
Shannon: Yeah? And?
Tom: As far as the United States of America is concerned, as of August 24, 2023, we have met the enemy, and he is us.
Katje: As in, all of us?
Shannon: Both sides, you mean?
Tom: Correct. Now, pardon me, ladies, as I put this line on mute, pour myself another scotch and continue listening to Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in E-flat Major. If you wish to remain on the call and engage in a dialog with the objective of avoiding an impending domestic armed conflict over Donald Trump that will surely delight our nation’s many adversaries and competitors, totally dismay our already nervous and disheartened allies, send the world economy into massive recession and virtually ensure catastrophic runaway global warming by 2040, be my guest. And if you come up with anything, let me know, because, before I go, I will let you both in on a little secret.
Katje: What’s that?
Tom: I have spent the entire day having extensive and exhaustive conversations with my clients about the same damn problem, and at the moment, everybody’s stumped. Ciao.