Friday, August 24, 2012

POTUS, 2/14 part V

Five minutes after Potus strode out preceded and followed by Secret Service, the meeting room was completely empty.
A voice on the speakerphone shrilly piped up, “Hello, I wasn’t clear on what was said?  Is it my turn to begin my agenda items?”
Another voice on the line said, “Go ahead madam Secretary of State.”
“Thank you.”
Meanwhile, outside in the hallway, CoS tried desperately to catch up to the back of Potus’ security detail.  He tried to keep up with the brisk pace while juggling his mug, briefcase and several notebooks in his hands.
Walking in his characteristic quick strides, Potus turned to Johnson and said, “Johnson.  Let me ask you a personal question.”
“Yes Sir.”
“As head of presidential security detail, you’ve seen a lot of activity and a lot of humanity I imagine.”
“Yes Sir.”
“Does it ever happen that you can look at people and try to guess what they’re about?”
“About Sir?”  He pressed his finger to earpiece and then spoke into his wrist.  “Four seven twenty , Roger.”
“Sorry, Sir, nothing.  You said, figuring out what people are about?  I don’t follow.”
“Yes, well, for example, and I’m going to get personal, it’s OK?”
“Certainly Sir.”
“Well, it’s just this CoS fellow, he’s a bit you know, well, how do we say.  He’s got a strange vibe about something.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
“I don’t understand.”  Into his wrist again, “Thirty-one four, please take over.  Potato in the west oven, carrying over in a few minutes.”
“You know, he’s a bit light.  Aloof.  A bit full of himself in the pants.  Wears a dress.  Is a fruit.”
Johnson looked closely at Potus through his dark glasses.  “You mean like gay?”
“Shhh.  Not so loudly.”  Johnson nodded.  “I’m just saying, he’s so fancy with his talk and his walk and clothes...  You know?”
“Sir, I come from the Midwest.  I think everyone in DC is gay.”
“Roger that!” Potus laughed and clapped Johnson on the shoulder as they turned left at a corner.  “What’s all that ‘potato’ gobbledegook on the radio?”
“Sir, that’s classified.”
CoS finally caught up to Potus and Johnson.  “Sir, Sir, um, I’d like to assure you that I am not gay...”
“Shhh!” Johnson and Potus shushed him at the same time.
CoS lowered his voice.  “Sir, you left before we took care of some more important details.  I highly suggest we schedule a follow up meeting to go over the details that were abandoned.  I’ve made a list that we can reference for the topics.”
“CoS,” Potus said.  “Do you think we’ll have ham or turkey?”
“For lunch?”
“Um.  I, well, I don’t know.”
Johnson spoke up, “Sir, I believe the chef is preparing a clam chowder in sourdough with tuna salad sandwiches on the side.”
“Oh, that’s really good.”  Potus rubbed his hands together as they turned another corner and passed a security desk in the hallway.  “How do you know that?”
“I have to taste everything you eat to make sure it’s safe.”
“Wow.  Is that true?”
“No, Sir, it’s not.”
“Hmmmm.  Good one Johnson!”
They waited at a door before it was opened and went in to eat lunch.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Potus 2/14 part IV

Potus said, “Whatever, what’s next?”
SoD cleared his throat and said, “Well, Sir, I still have some items on the agenda.”
Potus was clearly irritated.  “Yes, yes, go on then.”
SoD continued.  “As I was saying, the situation in the Oman gulf” (with added emphasis) “is under control and Hormuz straight is being held in a joint tactical strike force with the United Nations.  In another part of the world, we are working closely with counter insurgency groups in India, the Philippines, Iran, Yemen...”
Sod trailed off, looking at Potus who had been holding a finger to his lips.  “Sir?”
Potus giggled.  “I was saying, ‘shhhh’, don’t tell anyone about the insurgents.”
“Sir?”  Others around the table shifted uncomfortably.
“Because they’re asleep, get it?”
Nobody laughed.
“Asleep.  ‘Shhhh!’”
“Go on.”
“Yemen...  Let me see.  Ok, getting to another point of importance.  Drone strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq have been having some difficulties with the hackers as you know...”
“Yes, Sir.  These are sophisticated techniques in which the determined forces of our enemies use technological tools against us to secure and advantage in ways we were unable to imagine...”
“No, that’s bullshit.”
“Well, it’s Bullshit!  I can hack the Wifi connection at a Starbucks with my iPhone.  Do you really think that some towel head in the desert can’t figure it out?  He needs to go on the internet to look stuff up.  How does he do that?  He hacks shit.  That’s how you survive in the desert.  Of course they’re going to hack our drones.”
SoD looked uncomfortable but defended himself.  “Well, sir, it’s more complicated than that...”
“No it’s not.  What’s your password?”
“What password?”
“The password to your email?”
“I don’t know...”
“How do you read your email then?”
“I don’t, my secretary...”
“Oh, your secretary!”  Potus nearly stood out of his chair.
“Yes, she...”
Potus sat back down.  “You don’t even know your own password to your email and you’re worried about security on a drone in the middle of the desert where that’s all the insurgents do (but don’t bother them, they’re asleep) all day is hack the shit out of Wifi connections to look at porn on the internet?!”
The table was silent.
SoD tried to press forward.  “Sir, they don’t look at porn, they’re Islamic...”
“I know they’re terrorists.  Terrorists need to get off too.  Everyone looks at porn.  Even the terrorists.  Give me a break.”
“Well, sir, I don’t know that, that, you know, that...”
“Never mind.  I’m tired.  It’s lunch time.”
Someone across the table spoke up.  “We can order from Anchovy’s.”
Someone else groaned.  “I need a salad and they don’t have anything vegetarian.”
Someone else said, “I thought we agreed to go to Benedicts?”
Potus raised his hand.  “Everyone go back to your offices.  We’ll meet again later.  Call my chef and tell him I shall be dining on his daily special.”
Everyone stood as Potus got out of his seat and he glanced around surprised.  “I never get used to that,” he said grinning and everyone smiled.  Five minutes after Potus strode out preceded and followed by Secret Service, the meeting room was completely empty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Potus 2/14, part III

Potus said, “Ok, what’s next?”
CoS stopped polishing his glasses and put the back on.  He looked at his agenda list.  “Well, Sir, as you seem opposed to meeting with anybody, I’ll just go down the list and you tell me which groups you’d like to meet.”  CoS looked over the top of his glasses disapprovingly.  “OK?”
Potus nodded vigorously and leaned forward, clasping his hands together happily.
CoS took a breath and read from the list.  “Farmers’ League of Immigrant Union Labourers?”
Potus sat still.  CoS shook his head and again scanned Potus’ face over the top of his glasses.  CoS shook his head slowly and continued, “Detroit Autoworkers’ Local 743?”  CoS waited again.  Potus sat still, leaning forward clasping his hands.  “Iowa Farmers’ Collective of Bushel Crops?”  CoS waited, stared over the top of his glasses and continued.  “Idaho Potatoes and Spuds Growers’ Family-Operators?  Arkansas Legal Defence Lawyers’ Union?  Better Business Americans’ Federation for the Advancement of Capitalism?”  CoS paused again.
Potus waved his hand in a rolling “go on” motion and clasped them again.
“Floridian Retirees’ and Pensioners’ Medical Benefits Protection Group?  Deepwater Drillers’ Conglomerates?  Amnesty International?  People for the Advancement and Defence of Children’s Protection Amalgam?”
Potus waved his hand in a “no no no” motion in front of his face.  CoS sighed and put down his agenda.  I suppose that is all I have.  I’ll just assume you don’t want to meet these groups.”
Potus nodded and rubbed his hands together with glee.  “OK!  Now we are making progress!  I feel progress being made at this moment!  Who’s next?”
Secretary of Defence cleared his throat and raised one hand.  “Sir, I’m next on the agenda.  If you’ll allow me to go through my agenda items one by one and we’ll update you on the status of the nation.”
Everyone nodded around the table.
He continued, “As you know, the threat levels are still very high in America and abroad.  The situation in Iran is dire, and Syria has still not stabilised.  We have made some headway in our operations in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other Stans.  The situation in the Gulf of Arabia is under our control and peaceful and we...”
Potus interrupted.  “That’s all fine and well.  I am not interested in the Stans.  They’re nice people,” and here there were chuckles, “but I wouldn’t want to visit them.  The Gulf of Arabia isn’t the right name is it?  Won’t the Jews be upset?”
SoD cleared his throat and said, “Well, yes, perhaps.  I think it’s the Gulf of Oman but many people...”
“Yes Sir.”
“Oh, man!”
“No, seriously.  Oman?  Where is that?  I thought it was the Persian Gulf?  I hate Persian food myself, but whatever.  I think people know it as the Persian Gulf.”
“Someone get a map!”
There was a general commotion of people turning in their chairs and talking to advisors.  Several interns left the room through the huge oak doors.
Potus continued, rubbing his hands with glee.  “Now we’re crackin’!  We got some action!  We’re looking for information that is important.”
Someone with an iPad spoke up.  “Sir, I looked on Google Maps and it’s listed as the Gulf of Oman.  Oman is at the southern, the uh, southeastern edge of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula.”
Potus looked disappointed.  “Well, that’s no fun.  I think Persian is a funny word.  Like the cat.”
Everyone sat quietly for a few seconds, pondering this information.  An intern burst into the room through the large doors, breathless.  He was carrying several large Atlases and bundles of rolled paper.  He spread them out on one end of the table, breathless from the exertion.  Potus waved his hand dismissively and some activity took place at the end of the table to gather the paper and books to be removed.
Potus said, “Whatever, what’s next?”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

POTUS 2/14 part II

“Good,” Potus slapped the table.  “What’s next?”
CoS put his glass back on.  The battle was over for now, or at least it was delayed.  “Sir, the Society for Peanut Growers would like have a meeting with you to discuss...”
Potus interrupted him but less angrily than before.  “A bunch of peanut assholes are going to come into my office and bother me?  What do they want?”
“Well, Sir, they would like to express their support for your office and ensure that their issues with exports and agriculture policy could be extended to include various interests and goals they have in mind.”
Potus stared blankly for a while.  Someone coughed around the table.  Potus leaned to his left and looked at Secretary of Defense, SoD.  He said, “Peanut?” and offered something in his palm.  SoD waved the offer off and made grumbling noises.  Potus leaned to his right and looked at Department of Justice, DoJ.  He raised his eyebrows and offered his empty palm.  “Peanut?”  DoJ laughed and pretended to reach for the imaginary peanut in Potus’ palm.  Potus closed his hand and pulled back in surprise.  “Hey now, these are mine, you can’t have any.”
CoS cleared his throat.  “Ok, Sir, I understand your meaning.  We’ll schedule the Peanut Growers’ Lobby later.”
Potus looked back at CoS and started picking imaginary peanuts out of his cupped palm and popping them into his mouth.  “No, on second thought,” he said, popping another imaginary peanut into his mouth and chewing thoughfully.  “No, I think we can have fun with this.  Tell them I will give them special favours if they agree to send a bag of peanuts to every child in the U.S.  We can have them give free government issued peanuts to the whole of America’s youths.”
Secretary of State, a slight woman on the conference call butted in shrilly.  “Sir, we can’t send peanuts to children in America, they might be allergic!”
Potus paused mid imaginary peanut throw.  He looked up at the ceiling and back down on his lap between the seat and table.  He laughed.  “Did you say they might be allergic?”
“Well, of course, it’s a big problem at a lot of schools.”
“I did not know that.  You mean they can’t eat peanuts?”
“No, Sir, they can’t.  If they do, they go into anaphylactic shock and they could die!”  Her voice shrilled especially higher on the last syallble.
CoS nodded sagely in agreement, pointing at the speaker phone.
Potus considered for a moment.  “Well, I don’t know about any anaphyll—Anna Phyllis...”
“Anaphylactic,” CoS and SoS said at the same time.
“Whatever.  Tell those kids from me that they can go smoke some more dope to calm their nerves.  They probably have asthma and diabetes so they can’t be much worse off than taking a mouth full of peanuts and having a little rash or something.”
CoS shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  He took off his glasses and started polishing them.  SoS was silent, or on mute.
Potus said, “Ok, what’s next?”

Monday, August 20, 2012


February 14

Meanwhile, somewhere underground, it was a long interminable meeting with the Cabinet.  Potus hated CoS’s careful manner, the way he polished his glasses so carefully when he was considering an answer.
CoS was going over the day’s agenda, “Today, House Speaker HSp would like to talk with you.  I’ve taken the liberty of arranging...”
Potus interrupted him.  “I’m not interested in meeting those assholes.  Pardon my French, but they’re not interesting to me.”
CoS winced carefullly.  “Sir, you’re going to have to meet them eventually and they’re terribly interested in working closely with you.”
Potus sighed.  “Tell them this is the executive branch and theirs is the legislative branch.”  He made a hand cleaning motion like wiping dirt off his hands in the air.  “Never the ‘twain shall meet!”
CoS paused, not quite used to the abrupt manner Potus used.  He often wondered how Potus could have been elected in any office, much less Governor of Kansas.  He sighed and took off his glasses, unconsciously polishing them with the kerchief from his shirt pocket.  He began slowly, “Potus, Sir, this town operates on a sort of ‘give and take’ if you will.”  He raised his shoulders as a sign of defeat, making air quotes that could not be argued.  “Your predecessor,” and here Potus winced because CoS had a habit of overemphasising the “PRE” in predecessor, “met regularly with both the House and Senate to discuss matters of importance to all parties...”
“Goddamn it,” Potus interrupted rudely.  He felt badly about interrupting but not as badly as he felt when CoS was allowed to ramble on forever.  “Tell those guys to fuck themselves.  I’m busy with everything else and I don’t have time for those legislators to come begging for favours.”
CoS stared silently for a long time, unconsciously polishing his glasses.  Potus thought he might cry.  Everyone at the table cringed and looked awkwardly away.  CoS spoke up in a tired voice, “Sir, when you say, ‘Fuck themselves...’”
Potus smiled broadly.  He liked CoS’s resilience.  “Yes.  It’s a verb that describes a sexual act in which they participate alone and autonomously.”  There were some nervous laughter around the table.  Emboldened, he continued, “It can also be a noun, but that is not the use here.”
CoS stopped polishing his glasses.  He put them on carefully, then he took them off again to polish them.  “When I physically type the memo, should I use the actual word ‘fuck’ or perhaps some other verb that can describe what they will do?”
Potus and others laughed.  He had an idea.  “How many people report to you again?”
CoS frowned and answered uncertainly, “Around 800, sir.”
“Good!” Potus pounced.  “Get a few dozen people on a task force.  No, not a task force, a focus group.  We need to find out what the best phrasing for the term ‘Go fuck yourself’ is.  We need to find out what, exactly, is the best way to phrase the term that means, ‘Go into that room where you do some private business and there in that room you should execute a manoeuvre that twelve of your reasonable peers would consider fucking yourself.’”
There was a lot of laughter, including from the recorder clerk.  CoS did not laugh, but he seemed amused.  “Yes sir, on it.  A dozen people, yes.”
“Good,” Potus slapped the table.  “What’s next?”

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