I know a lot of people prefer stuff like Venmo and such, but personally, I like cash, and I usually keep a couple of thousand in my wallet to spend at businesses and establishments where I’d rather not let them have my credit card numbers. It’s great for tipping, too – if you’re a good tipper, that is. If I’m there to see it, I always notice how their eyes light up at the sight of greenbacks. And they remember you the next time. Definitely.
To keep the bankroll dimensions manageable, most of the bills in my wallet are hundreds, of course. I love the engraving on them, particularly that picture of Independence Hall on the back. The other day an ATM handed me a grand containing an old bill, one without the holograms, watermarks and multicolor highlights intended to thwart today’s counterfeiters. The Treasury Secretary signature was that of Paul H. O’Neill, indicating that the bill dated from a relatively narrow period between 2001 and 2002. (George W. Bush fired him in December 2002 because O’Neill didn’t believe in Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” malarkey. Another example of where being absolutely right about something very important can very easily result in a person losing their job – all else necessary is that their boss be a moron.) What I noticed about that bill was, the picture of Independence Hall was different from the one on today’s hundred dollar bill. Turns out there are two iconic views of the place: the hundreds from 2000 show the view with the clock tower standing in front of the main hall, and the view on the 2023 bills shows it standing behind. It also turns out, which view is the front and which is the back of Independence Hall depends on who you ask.
Now, the fifty dollar bill has some pretty impressive engraving too, and it’s my second favorite denomination. The back of the fifty has a picture of the United States Capitol. There are two views of it featured opposite President Grant, on bills from various eras, one as seen from the Mall, and one as seen looking across First Street, NE, from the perspective of either the steps of the Library of Congress or the Supreme Court. And as recent events have spectacularly proved, there is another set of different views of the US Capitol: It’s either the United States of America’s seat of government, or it’s the bigtop for a three-ring clown circus. Depending on who you ask.
Lately, the latter view has prevailed, and the clowns, comprising some two hundred and twenty-one sideshow oddities hailing from a political cult known as the Republican Party have been entertaining America’s foes, dismaying its friends and puzzling anybody else who cares to look with an uninterrupted series of idiotic feats, cretinous tricks and imbecilic stunts centered around choosing one of them to take the place of the Temporary Head Republican Clown, a bozo named Patrick McHenry, to become Permanent Head Republican Clown (Until Some Other Republican Clown Calls for A Vote to Replace Him). Meanwhile, in the absence of a Head Clown, the American government cannot undertake any new actions or initiatives, primarily because it is the clowns of the House of Representatives who control that government’s money.
And, as any clown or carnival geek can plainly see, the good old U S of A is in fine pickle at the moment and things aren’t looking to get any better any time soon. As opposed to earlier this month, when only one blood soaked, major armed conflict cried out for American assistance, now two do so, and the second threatens to expand from the ordinary Biblical proportions commonly encountered in the Holy Land to outright Armageddon. To that, of course, must be added the ongoing chronic crises scattered across the world in which the United States has been constantly engaged for decades – Taiwan, the Koreas, the Horn of Africa, tragedies and conflagrations all over the Western Hemisphere too numerous to mention – the list is practically endless, as is the country’s lamentable tally of domestic challenges, and with no Head Clown in the House, any further funding to address them languishes in limbo. And oh, yes, with no Head Clown, the US government itself must face a shutdown, currently scheduled for November 17. But none of that matters to the House Republican clowns, and when asked about it, they blame the Democrats for not joining in on the act and voting for clowns like Jack Bergman, Mike Johnson, Pete Sessions, Dan Meuser, Kevin Hern or Gary Palmer to become Permanent Republican Head Clown (Until Some Other Republican Clown Calls for A Vote to Replace Him).
Okay, at this point, I hereby apologize to clowns in particular and carnies in general for comparing them to members of Congress. Furthermore, I state categorically, that, in my humble opinion at least, individuals who put on greasepaint, oversized clothes and big floppy shoes and chase each other around with seltzer bottles, slapsticks and air horns, as well as people who swallow swords, eat fire, sit over water tanks yelling insults at people paying money to throw baseballs at a trigger that dumps them in the tank and / or bite the heads off live chickens for a living are all morally, ethically and mentally superior to that Republican Clown Par Excellence, Representative Jim Jordan (R – OH).
And speaking of people who are likewise in Jim Jordan’s general category, Gretchen brought to my attention a certain “Lex Regis,” who stated that he is a personal assistant to Rudolph Giuliani, and, moreover, that, in accordance with my well-known marketing plan, “Mr. Regis” requested a free initial telephone consultation this morning. And since, as Mr. Giuliani has so amply demonstrated, the Republican clown show is not restricted exclusively to Capitol Hill, well, I thought, that today, in my office, there ought to be clowns – yes, by all means, I mused, send in some clowns. Wait; don’t bother, they’re here.
Tom: Hello, is this “Lex Regis?”
Lex: Yes! Is this Tom Collins?
Tom: That’s me. You have an interesting name, “Mr. Regis.” From where do your people hail?
Lex: Um… from… uh, New England. Around Boston.
Tom: Strangely enough, I detect a slight New York accent. I understand you work for Rudolph Giuliani.
Lex: Yes, yes, I do. I’m his personal assistant.
Tom: I see. May I ask, has anyone ever told you that you sound almost exactly like Mr. Giuliani?
Lex: What? Oh, no, never. No one has ever told me that. It must have something to do with our connection. I’m… on a cell phone out in… um… Wilmington, Delaware.
Tom: Oh, really? What are you doing there?
Lex: I’m, uh… investigating the Joe Biden crime family.
Tom: I see. Does this consultation involve that?
Lex: No, no, I just… had to take time out from the investigation to call you about something else. Something even more important.
Tom: And what’s that?
Lex: My boss, Rudy Giuliani, he… well, he heard about the plea deals in Georgia.
Tom: Oh yes, that would be Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, I suppose; not Scott Hall, he struck a deal about three weeks ago, as I recall.
Lex: The bail bondsman? No, no, [expletive] him, he’s small potatoes. It’s this business about Powell and Chesebro that’s got me… I mean, my boss, Rudy Giuliani, concerned.
Tom: Because he’s also a defendant in that RICO case?
Tom: Facing thirteen felony charges, including conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, violating Georgia’s RICO act, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
Lex: Innocent! He’s innocent of all of them!
Tom: I’m sure he is, “Mr. Regis.”
Lex: Damn right! And you can call me Lex.
Tom: Okay. And what, specifically, would Mr. Giuliani like me to advise you about today?
Lex: His plea bargain.
Tom: I’m not a lawyer, “Lex.”
Lex: No, no, of course not! I’m a lawyer! Uh, I mean… my boss, Rudy Giuliani, he’s a lawyer. And Mr. Giuliani, he has plenty of lawyers representing him in this case. He knows what they have to say about a plea bargain. But you’re the smartest person in Washington…
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Lex: Baltimore? Yeah… I… remember… when they adopted my “broken windows” policy. Big national news story, yeah, in the ‘90’s… when I was mayor…
Tom: You mean, when your boss, Rudy Giuliani, was mayor of New York, don’t you?
Lex: Yeah, yeah, right – I was mayor of New York, not Baltimore.
Tom: No, not you, I said, your boss, Rudy Giuliani, he was mayor of New York in the ‘90’s.
Tom: So… anyway, your boss doesn’t want legal advice, correct? Because I’m not licensed to dispense legal advice, especially to indicted felony defendants – or employees acting on their behalf. I hope that’s clear?
Lex: Oh, yeah, yeah, no problem – Mr. Giuliani wants advice about the uh… the political stuff, the public relations stuff, the… you know, the practical stuff about it.
Tom: Okay, great. Just so long we are clear on that. What does your boss, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, want to know pertaining to his potential plea bargain in the Georgia RICO case?
Lex: Well, uh… first of all, from a non-legal, political, public relations, practical point of view, should he do it?
Tom: Understood. Given the context of the situation, my advice would be that Mr. Giuliani should, from a practical, political and public relations standpoint, cop a plea as soon as possible and sing like a canary with a belly full of cannabis seeds.
Lex: Cannabis seeds?
Tom: It is a verified ornithological fact that cannabis seeds make canaries sing. So – a valid metaphor. Furthermore, I would add, and ask you to listen carefully when I do, that in doing so, Mr. Giuliani should pay close attention to the following issue: how this will play before every person, woman and man, on camera, on TV?
Lex: Okay. So you’re saying, he should plead guilty to thirteen felony counts right away?
Tom: Absolutely. That should be obvious, particularly to Mr. Giuliani, who has prosecuted so many RICO cases himself. The principle is simple, and every DA and US Attorney knows it: hand out the light sentences to the conspirators who flip first and agree to fully cooperate. I mean really, your boss must realize that what he knows will convict Donald J Trump on all RICO counts in a heartbeat.
Lex: That’s it! That’s it! That’s what I’m… uh, I mean… my boss, Mr. Giuliani, is worried about! He’s worried that if he testifies against Trump, then Trump will say bad things about Mr. Giuliani.
Tom: And at this point in history, why should Mr. Giuliani care about that?
Lex: Because then maybe one of those lunatics in a MAGA hat that follow Trump around all the time will come to Mr. Giuliani’s house in the middle of the night and hit Mr. Giuliani in the head with a hammer or something!
Tom: And Mr. Giuliani is more afraid of that possibility than the possibility of getting the standard first offender sentences for thirteen felonies, possibly to be served consecutively?
Lex: That’s just it! He doesn’t know which is worse!
Tom: Oh, okay. To figure that out, you have to multiply the probability of the first alternative times its severity, and the probability of the second alternative times its severity, then look at the results, which are called the impacts. In this case, once you’ve done that, you choose to avoid the alternative with the greater impact.
Lex: But there are other things! Things like what if Trump gets re-elected, becomes dictator and has everyone who testified against him in Georgia sent to a death camp in Mississippi or something?
Tom: That’s correct – the relevant impacts assessment and comparison of alternatives is considerably more complex if all the contingencies are taken into account and appropriate interactive risk vectors are included in the model. But I have good news on that front.
Lex: Which is what?
Tom: Let’s just say that you aren’t the only one asking me very similar questions about what will happen between now and the summer of 2024. Consequently, I have constructed an artificial intelligence algorithm to conduct such assessments, and trained it using proprietary machine learning techniques in a software implementation of a multi-layered neural network environment. It is currently running on a set of on-premises GPU rack servers at my office. And the AI says, if Mr. Giuliani cops a plea and sings like a canary with a belly full of cannabis seeds now, that’s a path of action by which he is most likely to be alive and serve probation for between five and ten years, pay a fine of five to twenty thousand dollars, and, of course, have to write a letter of apology to the people of Georgia.
Lex: And if he waits?
Tom: If he waits, for example… let’s see here, say how about… um… two months, that’s the path of action by which he is most likely to be alive, serving a three year sentence, and eligible for parole within one year with an estimated six months off for good behavior. That’s in Georgia, of course. The most likely scenario after that is another eight to ten months in federal prison after he either completes his Georgia state sentence or is released on parole to federal custody.
Lex: What about, um… my employer’s… bank account?
Tom: Sorry about that. The probability of Mr. Giuliani coming out of this situation anything better than flat broke and bare-butt bankrupt is only about eleven percent, no matter what happens. And these are all contingent on him pleading guilty to felonies, too, you understand.
Lex: And that’s it? It just get worse, the longer he waits?
Tom: Correct. Unless…
Lex: Unless what?
Tom: Unless Mr. Giuliani can get three doctors to certify that he’s suffering from chronic mental dementia.
Lex: What! You sayin’ I’m [expletive] demented, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]…
Tom: No! I’m saying it’s pretty damn obvious your employer, Rudy Giuliani, isn’t playing with a full deck, capisce?
Lex: Oh, oh… oh… yeah, sure… you’re saying Giuliani’s got bats in the belfry.
Tom: Bubbles in the think tank.
Lex: Sand in the gears, huh? Okay, he’s seen that act before. It worked pretty well for Vinny “the Chin” Gigante, until my boss finally got him. But what’s playing crazy supposed to buy Mr. Giuliani?
Tom: I must, at the outset, make it perfectly clear that I am not suggesting Mr. Giuliani put on an act. I’m suggesting, as I said, that three reputable doctors with appropriate specialist qualifications verify that he has dementia. The advantages of that will be, first of all, with respect to public-relations, a huge wave of sympathy among those who remember Mr. Giuliani as the crusading crime-fighting prosecutor and mayor of New York City, as well as providing a very plausible explanation for his bizarre behavior supporting Trump’s attempt to overthrow the US government. Secondly, one need not be a lawyer to see that it will significantly reduce the strength of any argument for mens rea – a knowingly guilty mind – in any consideration of culpability or sentencing that may occur, either in the Georgia or federal trial. And third – which goes to your employer’s concern about having his head bashed in after Trump denounces him to the MAGA mob – it will considerably weaken, if not completely vitiate, the credibility of any testimony Mr. Giuliani may offer in the prosecution of Donald Trump for his alleged crimes.
Lex: Maybe so, but he’s not demented!
Tom: You don’t even want to hear how much better it could be if he were?
Lex: No! Absolutely not! Rudolph Giuliani is… not… demented!
Tom: Okay, “Lex,” if you insist. Oh, by the way, do you recall that important issue I brought to your attention earlier?
Lex: Important? Issue?
Tom: Sure, you remember, don’t you? How this will play before every person…
Lex: Uh… before every person gets confused by it?
Tom: No… person… woman…
Lex: Girl? Before the what?
Tom: Well, okay. It’s before lunch on a weekday.
Lex: Yeah. And?
Tom: You haven’t, by any chance, been drinking, have you?
Tom: Let’s try it again, okay? Person, woman, man…
Tom: No… person, woman, man…
Lex: What? Tell me, what!
Tom: Camera. Remember now? Person, woman, man, camera…
Lex: I am not demented! And if you keep saying I’m demented, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive], when Trump gets elected, I’m gonna have him throw you in jail!
Tom: Person… woman… man… camera… TV. Remember now, “Lex,” remember?
Lex: Who is this?
Tom: This is Tom Collins.
Lex: What do you want?
Tom: You called me, “Lex.”
Lex: Who’s Lex?
Tom: Looks like “Lex” might be somebody you made up.
Lex: Listen, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive], nobody [expletive] around with Rudy Giuliani! I’ll have your [expletive] [expletive] in [expletive] Supermax in [expletive] solitary confinement! Now, who the [expletive] is this and why the [expletive] did you call me?
Tom: Oh. Sorry. Wrong number. Goodbye.