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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
6 Feb 2016
Cracking the Code of Campaign-Speak

"Do you ever get the feeling," asked humorist Robert Orben, "that the only reason we have elections is to … Read More.

30 Jan 2016
Is There Only One True Progressive?

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. In our polarized politics, the … Read More.

23 Jan 2016
The Man Who Drowned Democracy With 'Sewer Money'

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. This week marked the anniversary of … Read More.

Voting FOR Health Care Could Save Democrats


When Arizona was admitted to statehood in 1912, Henry Fountain Ashurst became the new state's first U.S. senator, a position he held until he lost the 1940 Democratic primary. Ashurst's thoughts following his defeat remain timeless: "The welfare of the United States, and the happiness of our people, does not hang on the presence of Henry Fountain Ashurst in the Senate. When that realization first came to me, I was overwhelmed by the horror of it, but now it is a source of infinite comfort."

Given the anger of the nation's voters captured in the most recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, a lot of incumbent office-holders facing the unhappy electorate next November — especially Democrats — would be wise to reflect on the words of Sen. Ashurst. Voters, in the judgment of Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducts the NBC-Journal survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, are "disgusted and unhappy."

True, not all the numbers are bad for the Democrats. When voters were asked: "What is your preference for the outcome of this year's congressional elections — a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats," a Democratic-controlled Congress was preferred by 45 percent to 42 percent.

But a real problem looms for the Democrats a little over seven months before Election Day: When voters were asked to rate how interested they were in November's elections on a scale from one (not at all interested) to 10 (very interested), just over half — 53 percent of respondents — expressed great interest in the elections by answering either nine or 10.

Here's the important political news: 67 percent of Republicans expressed great interest in the upcoming congressional elections, while just 46 percent of Democrats said they were equally excited about November.

Those numbers represent an almost total reversal of the interest factor from 2006 and 2008, when all the excitement was on the Democrats' side.

High interest in an election is a strong predictor of probability of voting in that election. So based upon voters now expressing high interest in the 2010 elections, the Democrats' 45-42 preference among all those polled turns instead, among those most likely to vote, into a 52 percent-39 percent Republican landslide.

The Democrats' acutely controversial and generally unpopular health care reform legislation could surprisingly offer the best possible instrument for increasing Democratic voters' interest and enthusiasm in the 2010 elections. While a plurality of voters think that "President Obama's health care plan" is a "bad idea," when voters were asked, "Do you think it would be better to pass Barack Obama's health care plan and make its changes to the health care system or to not pass this plan and keep the current health care system," they split down the middle. Forty-six percent believes it's better to pass the Obama plan with its changes, and 45 percent opposes passing the plan and prefers maintaining the status quo.

But as Peter Hart points out, Democratic voters — by an overwhelming 64 percent to 16 percent margin — endorse the Obama health care plan. Thus, to energize and engage a basically demoralized Democratic base, congressional Democrats would be wise to vote for the Obama plan. If health care passes, then critics could still accuse the Democratic Congress of being too liberal, but nobody could legitimately charge that this has been a "Do-Nothing" Congress.

So, for Democrats on Capitol Hill facing a difficult re-election next fall, voting for President Obama's health plan, while certainly controversial and not without risks, could be their best chance of awakening a lethargic Democratic electorate and turning them on and turning them out at the polls on Election Day.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




4 Comments | Post Comment
Mr. Shields,

You will be proven wrong about your idea that the American people will forget about the process that was used to pass/if it passes the obama healthcare plan. This is not the country that depended on comments about our government from people like yourself. A majority of the people know more about this bill then the policticans and most commentators. So no, the people will not forget and your liberal democrat buddies will pay.

Ronald Ortiz
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ronald Ortiz
Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:17 AM
Dear Mr. Shields:

I am a big fan of yours and have been enjoying your wisdom and commentary for over a decade. Somewhere in hell Dr. Josef Goebbles is smiling. The republicans shout the same big lie over and over again. They want to take us back to some eden when the Robber Barons ruled, those same slave masters that Teddy R. took on at the dawn of the Progressive era. I think that Boner and McConnel should be forced, by law, to wear a black or brown shirts whenever they're on TV - or wear a New Years hat and blow a horn snakey thing.

My name is Mark Hymowitz (my pen name is Mike Hunt) and I sent you a joke, many years back, about Sen. Barbara Mikulskey becoming Sen. John Kerry's veep selection. Since then my bile and ambition have grown and I have written a book called "The Lizard of OZ". It is a satire about the federal government. I should know - for 28 years I was a technical writer and contractor for the military-industrial complex in the Washington DC metropolitan area and other areas. I hated it. So I wrote this book. This book is my revenge. I sent this book to Gwen Ifil, Chris Matthews, Kieth Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart and now I send it to you. Please read the book and tell me what you think. If you like the book, please tell me what people and publishing companies I should contact.

One question. A person of your obvious literary talent, wit and experience must have published something before. Did you publish a compendium of columns a la Molly Ivins or did you write something more personal, under an assumed name - perhaps Mark Swift; a slim volume of personal jokes and observations; perhaps only 500 or so published?

Anyway, here is the book.


Mark Hymowitz




This book is dedicated to
Dave, Nancy, Bob and Susan

Life is a tragedy for those who feel,
And a comedy for those who think.

Horace Walpole
Prime Minister of England

My name is Richard Yancy, Vice President for Advanced Technology at Impact Labs, Inc., a software development company in Traverse City, Michigan. Mike Hunt was an employee of mine for several years, but I knew him for 10 years before that when we worked together for another company. Altogether, I have known Mike Hunt for 15 years and he is absolutely the worst employee I have ever met. He is incompetent, slovenly and obnoxious. He would rather cut his own throat then do a decent days work, and his work is just terrible. It looks like a three year old did it. When he isn't ogling and saying obscene things to the female employees - he is picking his nose and farting. The only reason he didn't give crabs to the whole office was that nobody would sleep with the sorry sonofabitch, although I did see him once have carnal knowledge of a Guernsey. Additionally, he spreads hate and discontent among the employees and has a stupid opinion on every subject. He could not shut his mouth if his life depended on it. I rapidly came to the conclusion that Mike Hunt could not do more damage to my company than if he had been a paid agent of disruption in the employ of a competing high tech firm.

Obviously, I never would have hired him if he had not been my illegitimate son by a Filipino stripper whom I impregnated on shore leave in a drunken stupor. Mike asked me to write this forward for his book. I sure hope it works so that he will stop calling me.


My name is Eric Blair and this is my suicide note. I don't blame anybody for my death. Well, yes I do - but I'll get to that in a minute

I don't blame my father, Commodore Schnouzer, who gave me every opportunity. I don't blame my mother who tried to love me despite her awful mental illness. I don't blame my sister even though she is an irredeemable hippie. I don't blame my best friend Dave who I owe at least a million dollars; his brother Bob who owes me at least $500,000 bucks; Dave's wife Nancy who feeds us and puts up with our shennanigans with Buddhic calm; or Dave's little sister Susan who just hopes we would stop terrorizing and embarrassing her boyfriends. I don't even blame the five women and two goats crazy enough to sleep with me and then ran screaming into rush-hour traffic seeking the sweet release of death.

No, I blame the French - and the Arabs. They blame us for everything, so I'm going to blame them for my suicide. Fuck 'em. And I blame the Washington Redskins for being such an unrelenting disappointment exceeded only the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Wizards and the Catholic clergy.

You see, I have given up hope. I cannot see any part of my life getting any better; especially with the French and the Arabs conspiring to destroying my life and America. How can the French destroy America? Well, the French New Wave of soft-core romance porn in the 60s led directly to the Monica Lewinski scandal. Who else but Clinton, a product of the 60s besotted with free-love romanticism, would risk his presidency and all America for (and I'm not making this up) Monica Lewinski? The best thing about Monicagate was that it showed that Jewish American Princesses (JAPs), can be just as stupid and slutty as chicks from any other ethnic group

And all droughts in America can be directly attributable to the Arabs; who have a direct phone-line to Allah and thereby cause the desiccation of American cropland in in retaliation for us enjoying ourselves in modernity; and the Redskins losing ways. For, in the Koran, it is written, that even Allah is a Redskins fan (He enjoys the smash-mouth NFC East) and enjoys a well-executed flea-flicker more than any of the other deities. So, when the Redskins lose, Allah waxes wroth upon the American heartland via droughts. Therefore, is correct execution of the prevent defense directly tied to the fecundity of rutabagas.

I had at one time, a bright future. I was on my way to earning bachelor degrees in any of at least half a dozen majors; with minors in wine tasting, home-brewing and pot smoking. I had just gotten a new job and was looking forward to something resembling a decent, boring career. And then it all went to hell.

It all started about 10 years ago when I was driving to a job interview in the Washington, DC area where I live...


If I was God, Eric thought idly, I'd take the Antarctic continent from the bottom of the world where it's not doing anybody any good, and put it in the middle of the Pacific where plants, animals and people could live on it. Eric was stuck in traffic and was daydreaming again. He was stuck in traffic on a broiling hot summer day on the Washington DC beltway. Eric's car overheated every time he turned on the air conditioner so he had to turn on the heater to cool off the engine - which made him even hotter.

Ahhh, DC. The District of Columbia - Baghdad on the Potomac, OZ on the Tiber. Eric called this swamp OZ - the Official Zone. Washington had literally been a swamp when the founding fathers built it. People used to die of malaria. Today OZ is still a swamp, if only a moral one. Now people didn't die of malaria, they died of thwarted megalomania. Every high school and college class president in North America came to OZ. And every one of them was absolutely sure that their every utterance contained the wisdom that would change the planet. Obviously such people are not kind, unselfish, caring, nurturing listeners who live their life according to the Golden Rule - outside of the desire to be the one with the gold who makes the rules. Your average street smart Washington bureaucrat knew that there wasn't much percentage in bravery and altruism - greed, theft, lying and obstruction - yes bravery and altruism, no. Therefore, Washington was the home of more haughty, condescending, contemptuous pompous assholes than any place in Christendom outside of a headwaiters convention in Paris.

The best illustration of over inflated egos is the following story told about Dr. Henry Kissinger, secretary of state and national security advisor, during the Nixon administration, who, it was said, during the height of his fame in the early 70s, hailed a taxicab outside the state department in Foggy Bottom one night.

"Where to Doc" asks the cabbie?

"It doesn't matter. I am needed everywhere."

Never had so many Washington bureaucrats deserved a collective pie in the face thrown by so many of their fellow citizens for accomplishing so little. If federal Washington had it's own football team-called the "Bureaucrats"-they would come in late, make up their own rules and not do anything. The only difference between the IRS and the IRA is that the IRA admit they are terrorists. Not only is OZ the place where no good deed goes unpunished; perceived slights or imagined carbuncles of kindness frequently illicit preemptive attacks. OZ was also a maddeningly disorganized, disparate archipelago of constantly conflicting and colluding atolls. And as everyone knew, the biggest atoll always won. Each cabinet agency operated as an independent Balkan state in a zero sum game, aggressively trying to steal more money from their enemies by the time honored bureaucratic tactics of foot dragging, stone walling, press leaking, lying, Indian giving, cover up, investigation, scandal, and most entertainingly - bluffing.

And of course there was the endless mating dance that was Capitol Hill. Not only did corporate lobbyists corrupt elected and career federal officials with bribes-called honoraria. Just as often, corrupt elected and career federal officials shook down the corporate lobbyists by selling their vote to the highest bidder. This was consensual, symbiotic legislative corruption. Both parties kissed with their eyes wide open.

There were two kinds of integrity in this world. There was the integrity of the politician or bureaucrat whose motto was "If you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women and still vote against them - you don't belong in DC." And then there was the integrity of the corrupt politician or bureaucrat whose loyalty remained to their first corruptor, regardless of higher bribes to be had. This was the loyalty of a married man to his first mistress - something that could be construed as misguided love by somebody else's wife or constituents. Someone who sold out to the highest bidder was considered gauche, crass, a whore, a fine professional. Some of these fine professionals even became famous. Eric didn't want to become famous. He just wanted to appear on TV so that women all over the western hemisphere could jump up and yell "I refused to fuck that guy!"

There were liberals and conservatives in OZ - but it didn't mean much. The old joke was that a conservative was a liberal who had been mugged; and a liberal was a conservative who had been fired from his job. However, the only real party was the federal bureaucracy party, whose only political platform was status quo and the maintenance and expansion of as many federal jobs as possible at all times. And remember, members of the armed forces are federal employees.

Eric had just come from another of an endless series of interviews for jobs he didn't want and couldn't seem to stop being interviewed for - jobs writing training materials for the ever metastisizing military-industrial complex. His life just seemed like poorly organized out patient therapy. Eric was a lifelong college bum who was working on four - or was it five? - majors at the University of Maryland at College Park, MD. The last time he counted it was poli-sci, biology, history and radio-TV; called RATV (pronounced ratvee). He might have added paleontology to it, he couldn't remember. Anyway, it didn't matter much. He would do anything to keep from graduating and joining the real world. Eric's step father, Commodore (retired) Emiliano Zapata Schnouzer; was vice president in charge of naval weapons technology for Orca Dynamics. Orca Dynamics was - like the KGB - the sword and shield of the US Navy. Flush as he was, Commodore Schnouzer was tired of paying for Eric's never ending college career. And, truth be told, Eric was damn tired of being poor. Eric did have a university job, although it wasn't much of one. He was an English 102 - Research and Technical Writing, Teaching Assistant or TA. (Actually the Latin is Tedaouis Administratum or He who sells bad grass for high prices) position at the university hardly kept him micro-brewed beer and rotisserie chicken. And tator tots. Tator tots are the single most important cards in the house of bachelor. Without tator tots, far more than pot, beer and Prozac the species bachelor could not survive in the modern ecosystem. He would be reduced to cadging handouts from in-laws and friends; scarred, crippled and limping; proudly wearing the badges of courage they received from the battles they fought with ferocious dust-bunnies.

Of course TAing could be nerve wracking. It was like walking on eggshells in quicksand. You hoped you could do the right thing, but you could disappear any second. The main problem was that Eric was a male teacher teaching co-eds. Eric's old friend Dr. Chet, who had been teaching for over 35 years said "You can't touch the girls. If you do, you have to marry them or kill them, because they will talk." Dr. Chet warmed to the subject. "Any relationship you start with a co-ed will be immediately known to everyone in the department, the university, state and contiguous states within a week. If you do not marry the girl, you will be fired from the university and will not be hired by any other universities within the state." This was of course a reaction - some would say an over reaction - to the historic abuse of women in academia and business. Now the women have a cutless - A sturdy sword, used more for hacking and stabbing than for fencing. Now all a women in business or academia had to say was 1) I don't like the way he touched me; 2) I don't like what he said to me; 3) I don't like the way he looked at me. And the male instructor is immediately under the gun. The male instructor is also required to deflect any advances from a female student. Now the fun starts. Bored, mischievous or evil co-eds can start the sexual harassment process at any time for any reason. Girls who don't like their grades or have their sexual advances rejected can initiate the process of sexual harassment as vengeance. All male instructors are presumed guilty until proven innocent. And just because a male instructor has been proven innocent does not mean the cloud of suspicion has been removed. The accused and cleared instructor is now on probation. God help him if, through bad luck, he gets another lunatic, vengeful co-ed within a year. Then his career and reputation are smashed. Unfortunately, the male teacher must face facts and realize that some female pussycats are using him for a scratching post upon which to sharpen their claws. Another thing Eric learned from teaching was that if students wanted to learn, no one could keep them from learning; and if they don't want to learn, no one could teach them. Teachers were really irrelevant.

Eric could still finagle a few things. The university was an anthill - 99,000 on campus. The good thing about it was that not only did the right hand not know what the left hand was doing; the right thumb didn't know what the right pinky was doing. You could get away with a lot of shit. The problem was that the money involved was so small it hardly made the effort worth it. Besides housing was only getting worse and girls expected some obvious signs of success before they would spend the night with you. Eric's tiny little apartment near the train tracks was somewhere between funky and pathetic.


"Come on down. We'd love to have you.", boomed Chief Petty Officer (Retired two whole weeks) Jake Thompson of Orca Dynamics training and documentation department. "What? I can't hear you. screamed Eric. The train was going by near Eric's apartment and all the dishes, mugs, tables, chairs and lamps were shaking. Eric's two cats, Fruitcake and AWOL were jumping around; having a ball in the noisy earthquake. "We could use a training guy." Thompson yelled. "Come on down at 7am tomorrow. Ask for Chief Thompson." So Eric woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am so that he could get on the murderous beltway at 5am and sit in gridlock until 7am if he wanted to get to Crystal City in Alexandria, Virginia. Ahhh, Crystal City - land of smoke and mirrors.

The Washington beltway killed thousands of people every year. If an airline did that rioting mobs of people would kill the airline board members within a week. The FAA would outlaw the airline. But, stupid, shortsighted Marlborough man brainwashed OZians never said a word about enlarging the mass transit system. That would require a diminution of personal independence and new taxes - and next to conformity - new taxes were the worst words you could say in America. Eric inched along at 2 miles an hour in the shimmering, filthy heat. At 6am, it was 89 degrees and muggy enough to float a cattle truck. Fortunately, Eric brought along the Doobie Brothers to assuage his bile. This was the 101st job interview he had had in the past two years and 98 of them had involved some sort of weapons house. There was nothing else in the Official Zone. It was as if Rome had made the seven Palatine hills into the arms smithy for the entire empire. And colleges were locked into it too because most of their research money came from Blood Red and the Seven Whores - Donald, Douglass, Martin, Marietta, Boeing, Lockheed and the little one - Northrup.

Eric would feel sorry for himself - but it was difficult to feel sorry for a guy whose first positive male role model was Maynard G. Krebs from the old Dobie Gillis show. Eric pulled into the parking lot of one of the soulless glass and steel monoliths -like Kubricks monoliths in 2001 - in Crystal City. He went into the building that read Orca Dynamics and went to the training department. He was 15 minutes early but was sweating already. Eric normally had more frets than a sitar. He told the secretary that he had an appointment to see Chief Thompson. She gave him an application but Eric was so nervous he had to go to the head and pee. Eric went into a stall and tried to relax and get his head together for their interview. He hadn't done the application that was rolled up in his left hand. Loosening his lucky NASA tie, he heard two guys talking about security for poison gas or some such horrible shit. Coming out of the stall, he spied to ex-navy types with dress blue (black) navy slacks, black patent leather shoes, black ties and one even had navy issue black plastic glasses. Their ensemble was made complete by the .38 caliber revolvers each wore on his hip. They stared at him as he washed his hands. "Hi", he said. "My name is Julius Rosenburg and I'm here for an interview." They were too stunned or too young or too historically illiterate to know what to do. Eric walked out of the john laughing to himself and feeling much better. Chief Thompson stood in the waiting room. "Howdy. Glad to meetcha. Gladys here told me what you looked like - blond hair and beard and all." chief Thompson said in a mild country accent. Chief Thompson looked like the kind of perpetually 18 year old tough bubba who would drive pick-up truck even if he lived in the inner city. The only reason Eric need a pick-up truck was to haul away his broken dreams. Thompson stuck out his hand and gave Eric a serious manly grip. Thompson was a tall, pot bellied guy with black hair slicked back, a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, cigarette wrinkles around his eyes, tattoos on both forearms, a .38 on his hip and the same ex-navy civilian wardrobe as the two ex-navy guys in the head - but with black polished cowboy boots and a paperclip for a tie clip.

A chin that the gracile, bipedal hominid Australopithicus Afarensis (Lucy) would recognize unfortunately marred his looks. (He did lack the sagital crest that the robust australopithicine Zinjanthropus wore front to back dorsally atop his skull to anchor large jaw muscles for nut, fruit and tuber mastication. Unfortunately, Zinjanthropus - sometimes misidentified as Piltdown man - never developed the large brain used by more recent hominids to rationalize their instinctive behaviors.) Eric felt, overdressed, outgunned and under-tattood. Thompson's office was typical OZ military contractor: a too small gray steel desk, green steel cabinets, obligatory pictures of fighter planes in formation, destroyer on maneuvers, a framed "ATTABOY", and a picture of a younger Chief Thompson, in Manilla, wearing sunglasses, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, with his arm around a voluptuous, bare breasted Filipino stripper.

And then Chief Thompson displayed typical Navy behavior by asking Eric how he liked his coffee. Not "Would you like some coffee?" This was typical because the navy ran on coffee and diesel oil. Sometimes it was difficult to taste the difference between navy coffee and diesel oil. Eric was still sweating. The last thing he needed was hot, caffeinated coffee. So Eric said "I like my coffee the way I like my women - cold, bitter and weak." That stopped him. Chief Thompson gave Eric a very suspicious look as if trying to figure out what kind of weirdo he was interviewing. Despite Eric's crushing need for gainful employment, it was tough to keep his disgust with the military industrial complex sufficiently camouflaged.

"How about a coke?"

"Fine." It still contained caffeine but at least it was cold.

"So, your old man tells me you are lookin' to join the real world and make some real money?"

Eric had learned that for the sake of an interview, greed was a positive thing. Talking to ex-military types about altruism only caused puppy-eyes - that lovely diagonal tilt of the head you get when you explain Orthodox Judaism to a dog.

"Yep. It's time to make some money. I'm tired of being poor." Which was true - as far as it went. "So what's the topic? What do you want me to create training materials about?"

"Chemical and biological weapons. Their storage, handling and operations." Thompson glared at him, waiting to pounce on a weak response. Eric felt a blunt, boxing glove tap him on his sternum and sweat start at the top of his head, roll down his neck and down his spine. He was scared his heart was going to kick into ventricular tachycardia.

"Does that bother you?" Thompson said, his jowls slack but his eyes as hard and cold as the calcite eyes of a trilobite.

"Well, it ain't nurse training", Eric said evenly.

"Guess you'd have to go back to school and get a nursing degree fer that. What do you know about PMS?"

"Pre-menstrual stress?"

"I mean Planned Maintenance Systems. JEESUS FUCKIN' CHRIST!! Why the hell do they send me these stoopid fuckin' civilians?"

Eric had been through enough of these military interviews to know a test when he heard one. The secret was to keep calm. It was easier when you were crazy brave or just didn't give a damn. Thompson obviously knew he didn't know anything about PMS - the military kind at least.

"Whatsamatter? You didn't read my resume? Of course I don't know that shit. But every proposal in response to a government RFP (Request For Proposal)needs at least one overeducated college geek who can put in the latest academic theory buzzwords to be successful." Eric paused a beat to let that sink in. "Plus, I thought you'd like to make my father happy?"

They both smiled at that. Thompson said "Well, maybe I can do something for the old porkchop, mustang, airdale. Even if he did desert and go Admiral.

Eric had heard his father referred to like this before. Porkchop meant supply, Mustang meant someone who started out as an enlisted man and Airdale meant Navair. This was a classic example of what he called Navspeak - a totally impenetrable jargon used only by navy blood brothers when communicating to each other.

"The only problem might be a security clearance. Ever had one before?"

Eric shook his head. He often wondered about security clearances. I mean - who would you spy for? And if you get caught, what country would you like to relocate to? Russia? Russians were nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty anti-Semitic tartars. The weather is too cold and the food is awful. England? Germany? Great beer. Lousy weather and food. Besides, both are arrogant cultures. The only difference between them is the English sense of humor. France? Great food. Much better weather and art. But the culture is arrogant and the women don't shave or bathe. Even if the do fuck. (Y'gotta love a culture that so consistently produces art that is both pretentious and tasteless. Goddam cheese-eating surrender monkeys.) Canada. Great country, but too cold. Australia? Great country but too hot. Spain? C'mon. Spains spy effort is concentrated on the Basque ETA and the Francoists. Italy? Well, Italy is two countries - Southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia are mafia ridden and poverty wracked. The food is great but the weather is too hot. But northern Italy has great food, great art, great weather and willing women. Granted the women are hairy and they don't age well-but you can't have everything in life. So Eric decided that if the Italian CIA or whatever it's called wanted him to spy for them, he would. But only if he could pick his city of resettlement. And that city would undoughtedly be in northern Italy. Florence, Genoa, Milan, Verona or Ravenna would be nice. But not Venice. The art is great but the canals stink. Of these cities Florence is the best. So yes, Eric would be willing to betray American military secrets to Florence - or to the mayor of Florence. What the mayor of Florence would do with American ICBM launch codes is anybody's guess.

Of course the old joke about treason goes like this: During the Cold War a Russian spy walks up to an American general and says:

"Would you betray your country?

"I'm a patriotic American" says the general.

"What does that mean?"

"It means I'll only do it for money."

Eric sometimes thought about joining the state department or the peace corps. Of course in OZ the best way to join either of these organizations was to join the CIA. What's the difference between the CIA and the mafia? The mafia dress better. After all, the CIA infested and ran both agencies just to make sure peace didn't actually break out - that would ruin the defense contracts. Yep, the best thing that ever happened to the CIA and Department of Defense (DOD) was the cold war. It was amazing how the CIA just never seemed to find out that the USSR was imploding. The fact that the CIA was institutionally incapable of discovering this information without gutting its own budget never seemed to dawn on all but the most cynical and paranoid of OZians. The most amazing thing about the end of the cold war was that the American and Russian CIAs and DODs didn't manufacture an international incident just to keep everybody employed and rich from defense contracts. But I guess the radical, fundamentalist reactionary Islamo-Facists beat them to it. As they say at the Pentagon - peace is hell.

"OK", Thompson said, "Just fill out the employment and security clearance forms and mail it back in." Thompson got up to end the interview. Eric wouldn't let him get away with this old trick and remained seated.

"How much? In round figures. After all, this is a high security position. And would I have to carry a gun and get a permit?"

"65K to question number 1. If your crypto security clearance comes in, and no you don't have to."

"When will I know?"

"Two weeks after receipt of application. Then 90 days for the crypto clearance."

There were six levels of clearance, beginning with three low levels.
There was basic secret clearance that anybody but felons could get.
There was top secret clearance that only felons could get.
There was crypto secret clearance where you had to have blown a general or an admiral to get it. This meant burn before reading.

Then there were three high levels of clearance.
There was super crypto secret clearance where you were shot before you had been told a secret. That way you couldn't remember it long.
There was hyper crypto secret clearance where your head was cut off before you were told a secret. That way you couldn't remember it at all.
There was ultra crypto secret clearance where a man with a secret walks by your grave. And you are still responsible for that secret. But you can't talk about it or think about it or even know it. But you can make jokes about it - as long as they're not funny.

"If your clearance don't come in, yer gone. Probation is six months. But, yeah, yer hired. Welcome aboard." With that Chief Thompson opened up his bottom desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of Wild Turkey. It was 7:45am. They drank together and sealed the deal

And that was it. 20 minutes from beginning to end and Eric was back in his car listening to Steely Dan and back on the beltway going to towards College Park and the student ghetto.


"I sure wish I could change things" Eric muttered to himself. All these miserable fucking military jobs would become medical jobs or remedial education jobs for Playboy bunnies or something. It was only 8am and already the temperature was over 100 degrees. The traffic was too slow to cool the cars engine with the AC on so the car began to overheat. Again. So he had to open all the windows and turn the heat on to cool the engine. It was so hot even at 40 miles an hour the car threatened to explode. Also the CD player didn't work when the car overheated. Eric started to sweat through his underwear.

Eric wondered if he would be happier if he changed his name and moved to another country - say Canada - a country that was not trying to run the world. Maybe then he could get a non-military industrial complex job. Eric had even thought of changing his name before.

Judge: "Why do you want to change your name, Mr. Blair?

Eric: "I'm tired of this one, your honor."

Judge: "What do you want to change it to?"

Eric: "Kennedy sir."

Judge: "And why Kennedy?"

Eric: "To get laid, sir. All American girls want to fuck a Kennedy before they die."

Judge: "That's true. And it makes sense. As a matter of fact, it's a pretty good idea. I wish I had thought of it. OK. Granted. (Judge smacks gavel down.) Next case."

Eric was dying for a drink. He was always dying for a drink when he felt like shit. And when he felt happy. Mostly anytime he was uncomfortably conscious and sober. He knew just where to go - the Varsity Grill on Rt. 1 in College Park. The Varsity Grill was owned and operated by the Pritchard clan; whom Eric had known from way back. You could smell the Varsity Grill before you saw it. There was a fine symbiotic pot pourie of piss, stale beer, puke, mildew and wood rot. It also had a smell akin to the meaty vinegar smell you noticed after it rained and saw worms in the gutter. Dave Pritchard tried to cover it up by encouraging his customers to throw peanut shells on the floor. It didn't help. Dave and his brother Bob owned the place - which was passed down to them from a deceased uncle. It smelled so bad that the three of them tried a little Jewish Lightning - and tried to burn the place down for the insurance money. But even after a liberal soaking with gasoline, the rotten, piss soggy wood wouldn't burn. So now it stunk of gasoline too. Nancy Dave's wife - did some cooking but mostly did the books. Dave's sweet little sister Susan waited tables. Dave and Bob were barred from the kitchen in which a 25-dollar piece of salmon steak acquired the consistency of a hockey puck. Dave was such a lousy cook a pot of baked beans burned to ash had been fixed with hair spray and nailed up on the wall - beneath which read "Blue Plate Special - Today only $25 dollars."

Eric pulled into a parking space, took a deep breath full of noxious smells and said "Ahh, my own little slice o' heaven." He walked into the dive just in time to see Dave and Nancy argue over whose turn it was to clean out the fish tank - which was bone dry. The dead fish in the tank added their own aromas to the Grills deadly smells. Everybody in the Pritchard clan - including Nancy - wore glasses. Bob stood behind the bar. He swept his blond hair back from his face and flashed a gap-toothed grin.

"What can I do you for?"

"You got any of that homebrew left?"

"You mean the stuff I made with Sensimillin hops and Champaign yeast?"

Yeah. And make me an Russian Front."

Bob reached under the bar and opened up one of the unlabeled brown bottles that he kept for special customers. Selling homebrew was against the law - but Bob didn't care. Eric put down $5 dollars for the combination of yeasty homebrew and pot. It was ice cold and the water had frozen into a fist in the middle of the bottle - leaving the alcohol liquid.

"Champaign yeast takes it up to 13% alcohol. Enjoy."


Bob next prepared his 100 degree killer - the Russian Front. This was a mixture of one ounce of ice-cold chilled vodka poured into a two ounce shot glass, and another ounce of ice-cold chilled Peppermint Schnapps poured on top.

Eric drank his Russian Front and felt the temperature drop immediately in his head and chest. The vodka made his fingertips tingle. He then drank a big gulp of the home brewed grass ale and sighed heavily in thanksgiving. It was 8:15am and he was on the way to a blissful buzz that he might be able to make last the whole day.

"Whadja hit today?" Dave asked. "Goddard, Vitro, Lockheed, General Dynamics?"

"Krupp Steel"


"Forget it. Can I have a cheeseburger and French fries."

"Yeah. How do want that cooked?"

"I dunno. Who's cooking today?"

"Some new guy we just hired." Nancy said. "He's from Africa someplace."

"Has he even seen a hamburger before?"

""No, but I drew him a picture once," Dave laughed.

"Ahh, the hell with it. Gimme another homebrew and a Blue Whale."

Bob said OK. "The Russian Front was $6 bucks." Bob knew enough to ask for the money up front when Eric was drinking like this. Otherwise he'd have to go through his pants pockets for his wallet when he passed out. There was a disco above the Varity grill that opened up at 6pm. Eric had slept of a few lousy interviews in the empty booths up there until 5pm when the waitresses, bartenders and disc jockeys showed up to get ready for opening.

Eric slapped down a $20 dollar bill, finished his first homebrew, opened the second bottle while Dave mixed the Blue Whale. Nancy stared at Eric, recognizing an obvious alcoholic. Here it was, 8:30am and this guy couldn't get swacked fast enough.

"Think you want to slow down before your heart stops?"

"What's the point?" Eric said. "We're all gonna die, sooner or later, anyway."

Derek had already contemplated suicide several times during these interviews. He'd even gone so far as to try it twice. He tried using a Norelco on his wrist, but that didn't work. He didn't give up. He tried it on his neck but he looked like he had been given a hickey by an octopus. He then tried pills and Wild Turkey. But the pills were in individual blisters and they were too hard to get out. By the time he pushed 15 of them out, the mood had passed. He was crying and laughing too hard to care anymore. He even wrote some God-awful, pretentious, suicidal poetry. And trust me, there is no poetry as bathetic, self-pitying and pretentious as suicidal poetry.

I sail my fine, expedient ship;

Against the lonely winds of chaos;

I sublimate to evanescence;

The plaything of drunken gods.

So he watched Johnny Carson and slept it off instead. Eric realized that suicidal depression wasn't normal despite the Redskins poor pass defense. The great thing about being clinically depressed is that every day is cold, gray and drizzly and all the girls look like Richard Nixon. But that's just the normal stuff. On special days, usually on campus, colossal, black, bat-like pterodactyls of suicidal depression (Pteranodon Longiceps or Quetzalcoatlus Northropii) blot out the sun, strafe and swoop down out of clear blue skies, and screaming, snatch me up in their beaks, and carry me off, helpless, to my own waiting, hungry, grave.

But then Eric remembered that life began the first time you got laid; and death began the first time you signed a 30 year mortgage. So he figured that since he hadn't signed a 30 year mortgage, he was technically, alive - or as alive as anyone got without really good drugs.

Eric had read some Erik Erikson and other psych textbooks and concluded that the main goal of psychiatry was to love yourself. Eric was not ready to love himself. He wasn't even ready to double date himself. Eric had gone to a shrink once. She was a follower of Karl Rogers. She was so passive, when Eric knocked on the door, she knocked back. Eric's mother had been mentally ill - she was a paranoid schizophrenic. The problem with being a paranoid schizophrenic was that the voices in her head only talked behind her back. Eric had been diagnosed as bi-polar. Which meant he could only make love to bisexual polar bears. Fortunately Eric's parents had stayed together long enough to make sure the damage was permanent. But that's OK. Eric was taking a carnival of anti-psychotic drugs. Aside from Prozac, he was taking enough lithium to set off a metal detector.

Eric missed Naomi Zaftigmeyer, one of the students he was tutoring in the history course he had TAed for in the past. "Inner Asia After the Mongol Conquest" was the name of the course and buxom Naomi wanted to be a history professor very badly. Given her poor grasp of historical determining factors such as demographics, disease, food, geography, natural resources, politics, population, religion, technology and war - Eric had every right to think that Naomi would accomplish her goal.

The course was an overview of the Saturday night that Genghis Khan and his biker pals inflicted on central Asia and Eastern Europe for a century or two. Eric always thought it would make a great Broadway musical like "Springtime for Hitler", only it would be called "Springtime for Genghis" with dancing scimitar wielding Mongol warriors ravishing blond Polish maidens in tap dancing syncopation. Additionally, the possibilities of a Broadway musical about the Viet Nam 1968 Tet offensive, called of course "TET!", with tap dancing, rifle wielding Viet Cong in black pajamas had not been fully explored or realized.

Naomi Zaftigmeyer was a sweet little Jewish American Princess (JAP). When Eric told her he could swing a mortgage with two paychecks, Naomi told him to get a second job. Naomi was the only girl he knew that thought that job was a four-letter word. From her he learned that men give love to get sex, and women give sex to go shopping. "OKKAAAYYY, I'll fuck you. NOW can I go shopping." Not only did Naomi do it facing Bloomingdales, she told him about the sales she was missing while she was doing it. "OHHH, OHHH, Wedgies are on two for one sale."

But then, Eric had never been much good at dating. He ricocheted haplessly between abject neediness and fuck off diffidence. He was coming to the conclusion that he was a confirmed, if not convicted bachelor. The world of dating became clear to him one day when he read a psych textbook by B.F.Skinner about positive re-enforcement. Positive re-enforcement was demonstrated by training a rat to push a bar, or do some other activity, to get a food pellet. The book then went on to describe inconsistent or erratic reward. If the rat only gets the food pellet occasionally, inconsistently, the rat begins pushing the bar like crazy. This is the basis of obsessive gambling - and dating. Whether you're putting money into a mechanical slot machine or a female slot machine - going on a date - you're still waiting for it to come up all cherries.

Eric's own experience with dating did not help matters. His high school girlfriend, Ludmilla Pussywillow, was a lovely Czech, Roman Catholic girl from Pittsburgh, with Slavic cheekbones, red hair and blue eyes. She gave him her virginity - her ignorance and incompetence in all matters sexual, as a present to him. So he thought, y'know' fair is fair, and he gave her his virginity - his ignorance and incompetence in all matters automotive - as a present to her. Actually, Eric didn't give her his virginity so much as he gave her hiccups. See, Ludmilla, got hiccups instead of orgasms - it was her Catholic guilt. However, she let Eric know, in no uncertain terms, that when he dipped his quill in her inkwell, he was signing his name to a marriage contract - if not in blood as she had hoped; certainly not in disappearing ink as he had hoped either. Ludmilla's mother once asked him why he wasn't married - Eric said he hadn't found a girl he hated enough.

The second girl Eric fell in love with was a lovely Puerto Rican girl from New York's Spanish Harlem. Her name was Maria Theresa Avocado. He knew he was in love the first time he kissed her and felt a tingling all over. He later found out he was sitting on an anthill. Of course she was so pretty men and boys keeled over whenever she walked by. He wrote her a love poem that could only be correctly recited in Ronald Coleman's voice. There being fewer and fewer people who Ronald Coleman was, much less what he sounded like, this became increasingly more difficult with every passing year.

Ah, my sweet, if you and me, Could twine afar in Berkeley;

We'd plumb the depths of sanctity, Betwixt my plaster walls;

We'd naught pay heed sir cockroach there, Nor fret o'er much my cupboard bare;

To be all blessed solitaire, I pray since last 'twas sprayed;

And if our idyll of repose, Comes naught till Ravens plumes be rose;

My heart shall beat on lachrymose, To think what might have been.

Then there was Kathy Van Der Klamm - a very kinky, workaholic lawyer. Eric knew she was a lawyer because she was into cruel and unusual punishment. Eric's nickname for her was Hoover. She proved wrong all those cliché's about being able to suck the chrome off a trailer hitch and suck a golf-ball through a garden hose. Kathy could suck a cow through a garden hose. She was the only girl he knew who could snorkel and gargle his crank at the same time. Eric called it snargling. She could also hum the entire star spangled banner while slurping his schlong. Of course, when she did, they called it the star strangled boner. And it was her supreme accomplishment in the ancient art of philately that made her the most sought after republican fund raiser for men between the ages of 12 and 95. Who says republicans ain't patriotic.

Eric even dated a very bright engineering student. Eric could tell she was a genius from the size of her frontal lobes. Female engineering students are as rare as chickens with lips. But Eric liked her because she was so tremendously computer literate. She was a computer witch. She could do things on a computer that would give cardiac arrest to a wombat. She was totally hi tech and solid state - with no moving parts - as Eric later found out to his chagrin.

After several decades of dating, Eric came to the conclusion that there were seven kinds of female beauty.

Greek Goddess: The heart stopping, breath-taking beauty that some models and actresses have. They seem like marble statues of Aphrodite or Venus come to life. They cause men to tremble, sweat, become tongue-tied and forget their own name. To be near one of these goddesses is to feel your heart burst out of your chest. If these women touch you, you faint. Their beauty conquers you. These women are cool, superior and totally unattainable. Natasha McElhone, Paulina Porizkova, Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner.

Madonna: This is pure motherly beauty. This is the women you want to run home to and have her hug you and take care of you as if you were a little boy. She makes you feel mentally relaxed, emotionally loved and physically safe. Her beauty is so pure you can't imagine her having sex - except with you. Dolly Parton, and going way back, the saint faced sisters Olivia DeHavilland and Joan Fontaine.

Girl Next Door: This is the nice, sweet, cute, fun-loving, normal girl every guy wants to marry and settle down with - after doing every other girl on this list. Older men regret that they didn't marry her when they had the chance instead of waiting and sowing their wild oats. Then when they go back home, they find someone else has already married her. Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and Olivia Newton-John.

Earth Mother: These are the Mediterranean actresses. They are voluptuous, buxom, zaftig, sultry, bronze and not innocent at all. Their entire bodies seem to be constructed of pneumatic satin pillows. These babes ooze sex appeal like vanilla cream oozes out of a Napoleon pastry. They look like they could love you to death by noon and still have enough energy left over to love every guy in the neighborhood to death by midnight. Men want to die mid orgasm in their arms. Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Salma Hayek and a young Lanie Kazan.

Lolita Jail-Bait: This is the high school cheerleader fantasy - the underage nymphet with the face of a 15 year old and the body of a 26 year old. Her thing is teasing. She likes to mess with men in their 40s and 50s just to see what will happen. And if she gets bored she can always scream rape. She has sent more men to jail than crack. She is a charter member of the Future Home-Wreckers of America club. She is potentially evil. Britney Spears, Sue Lyon and Tuesday Weld.

Slut: This is the chick that let you right from the beginning that she is available for the horizontal bop. She has a very obvious, carnal appeal. She is sexy, but overdoes the make-up and revealing clothes. She may be a nymphomaniac or just a garden-variety neurotic. She is always manipulative and potentially dangerous. She always has other boyfriends or old boyfriends who will beat you up or kill you. Guys will definatly screw her brains out but will never marry this sleazy nut case. Madonna and Crystina Aquilera.

Demon Girl: A rare kind of beauty that terrifies. This girl looks like a vampire. Her eyes are usually big and glare lava hot or ice cold. She looks like she wants to physically hurt you. You know she is kinky and into leather and whips and chains. Guys who sleep with her carry a loaded pistol to bed. You wouldn't turn your back on her for a second and you wouldn't trust her further than you could throw her. She is very dangerous and would happily kill you herself. She is always a bitch and very evil. Rose McGowan, Robin Givens, and going way back, a young Bette Davis.

Besides, human beings begin dating at the worst possible time in their lives - adolescence. When humans become teenagers - they turn into hormone hellions. Teenagers become arrogant, depressed, emotional, horny, irritable, jealous, loudmouthed, obnoxious, opinionated, paranoid, restless, romantic, suicidal, tearful, violent and zealous. They are simply psychotic. They wake up one day and discover their parents are full of shit, beneath contempt and actively evil. And this is normal because their metabolism was programmed several million years ago back in the Pleistocene. Back then when the kid became an obnoxious teenager, the parents kicked him out of the cave. "Okay, bigmouth," say the average Homo Sapiens Neanderthals parents to their teenage son, "If you think this is so easy, take your pregnant girlfriend and your spear and get out." And that was it. Unfortunately now we have high school and parents have to put up with kids until they're 18. And that causes a lot of stress, on both sides. All this could be solved if parents adopted Viet Cong parenting techniques. Dig a pit in the back yard, throw in the teenagers and put a grate on top. The Viet Cong used these for prisoners and called them tiger cages. Throw in a pizza every few hours and forget about them. Parents should only come back after the teenagers hit 36.

The only kids who really enjoy high school are those ho hit physical maturity early. They become the de-facto leaders and sexual stars of the place. Everybody wants to sleep with them. They peak early. And this experience of entitlement to social superiority and sexual desirability poisons them with the fantasy that everything will be this easy for the rest of their lives. When in fact it will not. Further schooling and life experience pounds that out of them. Nobody get through life unscathed. The early blooming girls get fat fast and the early blooming boys get bald and fat fast. Later maturing kids who go on to college usually enjoy that far more than high school.

Bob rinsed out a brandy glass and mixed the gin, rum, sweet 'n sour, 7 up and blue Curacao into the snifter to make the Blue Whale. Then he put in a slice of orange and a blue paper Chinese umbrella. Eric took a big gulp. The Whale was notorious for getting people drunk and leaving them with a blue tongue after they'd puked their guts out. The puke was green if you ate a plate of yellow nachos first

Eric's head was swirling. He was three sheets to the wind and unstable on all three axis - yaw, pitch and roll. Eric's eyes rolled up in his head like an opiated maggot and he fell off the barstool. He hit his head on the floor and immediately entered the queer, dank, slippery, diagonal, cyan colored twilight zone where crocodiles played saxophones and pigs flew backwards. He faintly heard a song. It was the old Maurice Chevalier hit "Louise":

Every little breeze, Seems to whisper disease;

Turkeys and bees, Chewing on leaves;

Wearing puttees, Schussing on skis;

I love you.


"Eric! Eric!! Wake up!!" He vaguely heard Nancy's voice and felt hands cradling his head. He imagined they were Nancy's hands.

"Better get him in a booth" Dave said.

Dave filled a glass of water and threw it in Eric's face. That woke him up. His eyes flew open.

They lifted him up by the armpits. "OK, OK, I'm OK. You can leave me alone. I'm alright."

Eric got back on the barstool and shook his heard. "I just do this occasionally to see if you're paying attention."

Eric patted his face with a bar towel. Susan rolled her eyes and shook her head. Eric put his right hand around the Blue Whale and began to drink. Just then he heard a car pull in and screetch to a stop. A car door opened and closed very quickly and was followed by rapid footsteps. A handsome young blond man walked into the bar. He was obviously nervous and his eyes were darting around. He walked up to the bar and said to Dave, Nancy, Bob and Susan "You gotta hide me. They're after me.

"Who's after you?" said Bob reasonably.

"The Secret Service. They're after me and they're gonna drag me back to the White House.."

"The White House!?!?" everybody said in unison.

"Yeah, I'm Jack Gooch, the presidents son. You can't let them take me back. I'll die if I go back. I snuck out to today and they followed me from DC but I think I lost them in College Park.

Just then a black and white cop car went zipping down Rt. 1 with it's siren on.

Eric said, "You can stay with us. We'll hide you."

"Terrific. Thanks."

"Why do you want to hide from the Secret Service?" asked Susan.

Jack turned on her, his eyes glaring, "Let's put it this way. They go into the stall with you when you take a shit. It drives me CRAZY!"

"I dunno. You got any chick agents. It could be fun. Relationships start that way", Dave said.

"That's how ours started," Nancy said.

"Jack - I'll hide you on one condition."

"What's that?"

"I get to be you for a few weeks."

"Weeks!?!? Hell, you can have it for months. It's a fuckin' prison. Sold. What's your name?"

"I'm Eric Blair. I work as a teaching assistant for an English 102 and a History 101 class on campus."

Eric always wanted to be famous so that when he appeared on TV women all over the western hemisphere could stand up and say "I refused to fuck that guy."

"Any babes?" Jack said. "I'm dying to party and get laid. I haven't had a bong hit in three months. You have no idea how they watch you at the White House - like you're a criminal. The only way I could get a social disease would be to jump a reporter. I'm 19 for chrissakes. These are my peak sexual years. What am I supposed to do - fuck a wall socket?"

"Well, let's just get graphic." said Nancy.

"Trust me. We're just TAs. You could be a total ignoramus - you are a total ignoramus - and make no impact on the class."

"He doesn't look much like you. Bob said, looking at Eric.

"Whaddeya think, Susan?" Nancy said.

"The face is similar. He'd have to shave and cut and bleach and straighten the hair. Smile. Both of you."

Jack and Eric smiled. Jacks smile was white, clean and even. Eric's smile was yellow and raised biceps on his cheeks - a very different smile - sneakier.

Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. "I'll give each of you a grand if you close the place right now and help Eric and me do this."

"Solid" said Dave and closed the bar.

Everybody walked across the street to campus unisex hair salon called "The Head Shop" Everybody inside wore all black clothes and their teased up, sprayed hair was bleached with black roots and streaks of blue, green, red, purple and orange. The stench of peroxide was deafening.

"Yesss. Can I help you?" said the bizarre, multi-sexual creature before them. Ahh, male homosexuality - the sin that dare not speak with its mouth full.

The science of Evolutionary Biology states that all ambulatory organisms must satisfy two goals in life - getting food and sex/procreation. And it is the pursuit of these two goals that drives evolution and drives and explains most if not all behavior. Therefore, in terms of Evolutionary Biology, why are there gay men? Certainly straight women and gay men have an attraction for each other. Are gay men around to help straight women raise children? Do human populations with gay men staying home and helping straight women raise children have lower infant mortality rates than populations without gay men in this role? Is that why gay men and straight women seem to get along so well together; some straight women and gay men going so far as to have sex with each other and marry each other? Whereas you see none of this kind of relationship between straight men and Lesbians; most Lesbians and straight men want nothing to do with each other. Additionally, do we have grandmothers around to help mothers raise their children? Do grandmothers play the same role as gay men - staying home and helping raise the children and lowering infant mortality?

So, if according to Evolutionary Biology: men have small, useless nipples because women need large, functional nipples; and women have small, useless clitoruses because men need larger, functional penises; are there Lesbians and grandfathers around because we need gay men and grandmothers to help raise children and reduce on infant mortality? I mean really, in terms of Evolutionary Biology, and its goals of getting food and sex/procreation; what do Lesbians and grandfathers do in furtherance of Homo Sapiens as a successful organism. Lesbians A) play sports, and B) wear sensible shoes. Grandfathers a) watch men play sports and B) kvetch. They're not doing much good here.

But I digress.

"Oh, Hi Gene, I got a problem.", said Nancy.

"I can see that."

"I want this guy with curly blond hair", she pointed to Eric, "To look like this guy with straight brown hair." she pointed to Jack Gooch.

"Oh, honey, if I could get my boyfriend Steven to look like that I'd move to Tahiti and get pregnant. But I'll try. Come over here."

Gene the queen brought Eric and Jack over to an empty chair and pushed Eric into it. "Here, honey, you sit over here. It'll make it easier." He motioned Jack into another empty chair.

"OK, now you want this guy with straight brown hair" she pointed to Jack, "to look like this guy with curly blond hair" she pointed to Eric.

"Money no object, sweetie?"

"No", said Nancy.

"Alright. First we'll have to cut, bleach and straighten his hair. And his eyebrows.", Gene said, grabbing a handful of Eric's curly blond hair. "Second, we'll have to shave off that awful beard. Third, you could use some Preparation-H (the Detroit eye-tuck) and some concealer under the eyes, sweetheart. And finally, we'll have to take him to the dentist and have his teeth bleached white."

There's a dentist just down the street", Susan said.

"Now sit back and relax." gene said, smiling evenly. "Remember, I don't want to hurt you. If I did, I could make you look like a vagrant, or give you a Mohawk or a skunk stripe down the middle. So sit back and relax and know there's nothing you can do to save yourself now. Heh, heh, heh."

Eric decided the best thing to do was to go to sleep. He dreamt of an old '40s Warner Brothers movie called "Dark Passage" with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall where Bogey plays an unjustly imprisoned escaped convict named Vincent Parry. He gets picked up and hidden from the cops by Lauren Bacall. (We should all be so lucky.) Bogey gets his face changed through plastic surgery so he can come back and find his accuser: Madge (Agnes Morehead). Agnes had lied about Bogart in court, under oath, and her testimony convicted him for murder. Bogey escaped and came back, with his new face, in order to confront Agnes and get her to confess that she lied in court under oath about Bogey murdering somebody. But Agnes escapes by falling from a window to her death - if you can call that escape.

Anyway, Eric remembered this great scene where this creepy, sleazy, back-alley doctor is about to start surgery on Bogeys face when he says ""Oh, now, if I didn't like you, I could make you look like a bulldog, or a monkey, heh, heh, heh. But, don't worry, I'll just make you look older. I'll make you look like you've lived, heh,heh,heh." And a kaleidoscope of images of bulldogs and monkeys rotated around the screen.

Eric was scared that this was what was going to happen to him. He wished he had a drink.

When he woke up his hair was different, straight and blond and his beard was gone. Someone had shaved him in his sleep. That was creepy. He must still be swacked from the Blue Whale. Nancy and Susan were waking him up. He never found out how much the whole deal cost but he chipped in $20 bucks.

Jack was gone. Eric didn't have the faintest idea where he was. Maybe he was going to take over Eric's life an over-age, over-educated, gradual graduate student college bum and full time fuck-off. Like anything else, it was fun in moderation.

Dave and Bob went back to re-open the bar. Nancy, Eric and Susan walked to the dentist for the tooth bleaching. Eric hadn't been to the dentist in several years. God knows how many cavities he had. He felt like he did when he was 12 and he had to go to Hebrew school to learn how to sing for his Bar Mitzvot. The Cantor, who taught the boys and girls how to sing their portion of the torah for their Bar Mitzvot was an angry man with a number on his forearm from the concentration camps where he lived as a small boy, who enjoyed chewing out his pupils. And the worst part was the waiting in line, sitting on cold metal chairs, listening to the boys, and a few girls, sing their parts, and watching him terrorize them - under a picture of the holocaust that he painted from memory. And Eric would sit in line hour after hour, watching and listening to this bully humiliate his fellow kids - waiting for his turn to be punished.

Wonderful. The sweat started again. He felt like he was going in for another interview. He felt like he could use another drink.

Astoundingly, 90 minutes later, he left with 12 cavities filled and the slightly sore mouth that he last experienced when he had his braces tightened, and flashing white teeth. As usual, his anticipation of the pain was far worse than the actual experience of it. Eric's teeth weren't as even as Jacks where. Even after braces, they were still a little snaggly. But they were good enough for the great charade.


Eric called the Secret Service on Jacks cell phone, which he left, and they came to the Varsity Grill to take him back to the White House. There was a press party at the White House today, so Eric decided to go. Eric had never been to a press party before. It was kind of exciting. As the First Son, Crown Prince Jack (Eric) could pretty much do whatever he wanted as long as there was a Secret Service agent no less than three angstroms away and he didn't get the US into nuclear war. The press party was held in the Millard Fillmore ballroom, somewhere in the basement of the White House. It was called the dungeon. The White House press, looking vaguely disreputable, filtered in, one by one. They immediately went to the bar and scouted around for free nosh. Most of the men were in their 40s and 50s, the women were about a decade younger, in their 30s and 40s. The women, in contradiction to the men, looked very corporate and professional.

Except one.

She was the living representation of an idea that Eric had had for some time. One of Eric's biology teachers - Mr. Dimitry Dionysus - explained his subversive paradigm of society. He said "As phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny - the fetus goes through the stages of evolution in prenatal development. So, too, society recapitulates ecology. There are predators and prey in society, just as there are in nature. If you don't believe there are predators in society, just look at the faces of the past leaders of them world, Johnson, Nixon, Brezhnev, Bob Dole and Nancy Reagan. The smart ones are the monkeys who live in the trees and watch it all happen. Of course, the leopards kill them too. And nature and society both have scavengers and carrion eaters too. Scavengers prey on the weak and sick and eat those already dead. Therefore, the difference between lawyers and vultures is minimal. So you see, society is nature writ small."

Mr. Dionysus said that to Eric while the two of them were standing off to one side at a faculty party Dimitry was throwing. Dimitry was drinking a mixture of Greek ouzo and calvados - Breton apple brandy, called the Zeus Goose; while Eric was working on a lethal concoction of Serbo-Croation plum brandy called slivovitz and Chinese moa tai liqueur, called a Molotov cocktail. Dr. Dionysus also said "Just as wars are politics conducted by other means, so too, cocktail parties are wars conducted by other means. Wit, lies, deception and treachery, gossip, charm, sex and manipulatory skill are all weapons as lethal as guns. Women know this instinctively, men must be taught." Dimitry Dionysus' obsidian eyes never missed a thing.

This women was a predator if ever he saw one. She was a breathtakingly beautiful as a dewy spider web in moonlight - glistening entrapment. She wore a blood red satin dress. She seemed to have that sixth sense that carnivores had of detecting weakness in one member of a herd and singling him out for attack. Her liquid walk seemed to
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mark Hymowitz
Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:44 AM
Judas Priest Mark, like someone is going to read that long rambling comment. which is even longer than the article without paragraph breaks. Send this to a bunch of publishers.

Anyhow, my opinion is that the Democrats are getting hammered hard for the health care reform bill regardless of whether it passes. So they might as well pass it; if you're going to pay a dear price for reform big or small, then go for the big reform.
Comment: #3
Posted by: mike
Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:39 AM
Mark. You mentioned Tom Delay and other pressures on me to vote for the prescription drugg bill. It would
be nice if you could include the fact that I did not vote for it. In addition to the promises of "benefits" there was one member that promised that if I voted aginst it, My son Brad would not be elected to fill my seat. And, as you know, I didn't vote for it and Brad didn't get elected. Too bad! He is exceptional. Congressman Nick Smith-93-04
Comment: #4
Posted by: congressman nick smith
Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:19 PM
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