Best of 2021, Part 2 (posted 12/29/21)

For the first half of May, I took a bucket-list trip with two cousins, driving Route 66 from Chicago to LA in an old Caddy convertible; if you’d like to read my daily journal from that trip, go to Martinsimpsonwriting.com and scroll down to the bottom right.

When I got back home I came across a CIA recruitment ad that seemed an ominous sign of the times:

“I quote from a story in the Guardian: “A social media campaign, Humans of CIA, aimed at boosting diversity in the agency—”

Whoa, stop right there.  That’s a lot of weapons-grade wrongness in a very small collection of words.  Let me count the ways:

First, I don’t want our spy agency to have “social media campaigns.”

Clandestine drone surveillance campaigns?  Yes.  Infiltration and disruption campaigns?  Abso-freakin’-lutely.  Counter-Fang-Fang reverse-engineered triple-agent honey-trap campaigns? Sounds like fun.

But social media campaigns?  “Here’s a pic of my meal in the CIA cafeteria this morning?” “5 Reasons why Masculinity is So Toxic?” “How to Handle Micro-Aggressions When you are Undercover?”

No bueno, and no gracias.

Second, ”Humans of CIA?”  That’s what you named your social media campaign?!  As opposed to what?  “Inhumans of CIA?”  “Amphibians of CIA?”  “Deciduous Trees of CIA?”  Ugh.

Third,“…aimed at boosting diversity…”  Good lord, will this NEVER end?!

We need super-sneaky, bad-ass spies.  We don’t need differently-abled, transgender, anorexic, Zoroastrian, little-person Asian-or-Pacific-Islanders!   (Besides, that 6-box-checking unicorn is already pulling down a 7-figure income leading a grievance study program at some horrifically over-priced college.)

I mean, sure, if we need to infiltrate a bi-polar, transgender terror cell, recruit with that in mind.  If we’ve got a lead on a hearing-impaired Pacific-Islander drug cartel, go find the Samoan Marlee Matlin and coach her up.

But otherwise, can we PLEASE just find some people who like to spy and are good at it?

“I wonder what kind of employee you get, when you begin with that insane set of criteria?” you are not asking, because you already know.

Let me introduce you to a 36-year old Latina CIA officer with a lot of issues.  How do I know these things about her?  Because she yammers about it throughout the video.

In the first minute of the ad, we learn that she likes Zora Neal Hurston’s fiction (okay), that she’s the daughter of immigrants (who cares?), that “nothing about [her] “is tragic,” (what?), “[she] is perfectly made” (Meh.), and she’s bilingual (I guess that could come in handy pretty often).

Also, she can “change a diaper with one hand, and console a crying toddler with the other.”  Um, is this a job interview for a daycare provider?

Then things go seriously downhill.  “I’m a woman.  I’m a mom. I am a cisgender millennial, who has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.”

Oh, no.  You want to be a spy, and you have an anxiety disorder?

“I am intersectional, but my existence is not a box-checking exercise.” She says, after spending the entire ad so far checking off a dozen irrelevant boxes.

Then she segues into a half-minute of unintentionally revealing “methinks she doth protest too much” guilty defensiveness: “I did NOT sneak into CIA.  My employment was not and is not the result of a fluke, or slip through the cracks.  I EARNED my way in, and I EARNED my way up the ranks of this organization.  I am educated, qualified, and competent.”

Now we’ve gone from daycare to a self-help support group led by Stuart Smalley.  (“He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and doggone it, people like him!”)

But then… the very next sentence: “And sometimes I struggle.  I struggle feeling like I could do more… and I struggle leaving the office when I feel like there’s so much more I could do.”

I’m no top-secret spy-training guy, but that sounds like a lot of struggling for someone who wants to get into the exciting field of high-stakes, life-endangering espionage.

“I used to struggle with imposter syndrome, but at 36, I REFUSE to internalize misguided patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be.”

And… there goes my gag reflex.

Imposter syndrome?! You’re supposed to be a spy!  Do you know what the operational definition of a spy is?   (Cue Sam Kinison wearing a James Bondian tuxedo.) AN IMPOSTER!!  OH! OHHH!

You pretend to be a gardener on the grounds of a ChiCom training base, or a caterer for a gathering of  Hamas big shots, or a secretary for a handsy Russian general who gets a little chatty after his third vodka.  And when Comrade Grope-ski gets a little flirtatious, you give him a sultry look and a third vodka, not a lecture on how he better keep his patriarchal mitts off your strong Latina cis-gendered butt, lest you report him to the CIA HR!

I cannot imagine anything more comforting to our enemies than watching a recruiting ad like this! 

And in case you’re wondering, yes I do have an idea for a better CIA recruiting ad, thanks for asking:

We open on a dark screen that stays dark throughout.  We hear a hoarse whisper, voiced by Clint Eastwood, or possibly Tom Waits.   

“Hey.  If you were an enemy of the United States, this is all you would ever see of me.  I might be shadowing you in a crowded public place, or behind you in line for a cab, or sitting beside your bed as you sleep.

I could be there to inject you with a drug that causes a heart attack, or to install some malware on your computer, or put a listening device in your bedside table, or a small explosive charge in your cell phone, so that you next time you call for an Uber you get your head blown clean off.

Or maybe I’ll just slide this very sharp, very thin blade between two of your ribs and into your heart or liver.  Both of which will hurt.  A lot.  So maybe you should re-think that, “Let’s screw with America,” plan you’ve got going.

I’ve got imposter syndrome.  Because I’m an imposter.  Which is why you won’t suspect that I’m the guy who’s going to get you and your fellow bad guys imprisoned or killed or both.  But I am.  And I will.

And this is all you’ll ever see of me.”

Then the following words appear on screen: “If this sounds good to you, contact the CIA.  We’re hiring.”

In June, I came up with a modest proposal to improve our criminal justice system:

“Here is the revolutionary criminal justice reform that is going to kick-start a campaign to create a Nobel Prize for Criminal Justice Reform, and then to unanimously award it to me:

I’m sure that you’ve all heard of the death tax, whereby taxpayers who pay a boatload of taxes on everything they earn and own over decades, and then when they die, the government muscles in and grabs the wallet out of their burial suit to take one more cut before their grieving family settles their estate.

My idea is as tremendous as the death tax is terrible.  I call it, “The Career-Criminal Death Tax,” or CCDT.

You may have noticed that the families of many of the career criminals who have recently died in clashes with police as they pursued their profession of crime-committing have received multi-million-dollar settlements from taxpayers.  (To cite just one example, George Floyd’s family got $27 million.) 

As a legal scholar – I’ve read many John Grisham novels and watched many episodes of Court Cam and Judge Judy – I understand that such awards are often meant to punish police departments for alleged wrong-doing.  But I also know that in many states, when someone with back child support or IRS debts wins the lottery, those debts are often deducted from the lucky, innumerate debtor’s winnings.

Enter the CCDT.  I propose that anytime a career criminal’s survivors get a windfall settlement from the taxpayers, that money should temporarily be held in escrow, during which time it should be used to first pay back all of that’s criminal’s victims, plus the taxpayers’ costs incurred because of the dead guy’s criminal and/or irresponsible behavior.   

For example, imagine a totally hypothetical criminal, with an equally hypothetical $27 mil in his posthumous bank account. 

Now go back through that person’s criminal record, and tally up his victims, from the store clerks, gas station attendants and pedestrians he robbed or assaulted, to the pregnant woman he held hostage with a gun jammed against her belly while his buddies robbed her place, to the convenience store owner where he passed counterfeit bills.

Hypothetically.

The CCDT dictates that each of those victims gets a proportional chunk of that money, up to at least mid-six figures each.

Next, we tally up how many years that felon spent in prison.  We have accounting data to tell us how much per day it takes to keep a convict in a state or federal jail.  So add up those costs, and subtract that from the $27M, and refund it back to the taxpayers.

Next, if the dead criminal spent years getting various types of assistance – food stamps, housing allowance, free public defenders, etc. – total that up, and deduct it from the $27M.  Back to the taxpayers. 

And before you object, I know that there are legitimate reasons to have a social safety net, and that some welfare payments are legitimate, and are not legally subject to reimbursement if someone later becomes a productive citizen.  But if he’s a lifelong creep who only comes into any money after he dies during the commission of yet another crime?

Back to the taxpayers.

Finally, if there’s anything left of the settlement after that, check one more thing: how many kids did that miscreant produce?  If he married the mom and responsibly took care of the kids – HA! – his estate is off the hook.

But for the other 99.99% of the deceased criminals, tally up the amount the taxpayers shelled out to feed, house, and (sadly, often) incarcerate their kids.   Since those kids were the criminal’s moral, legal and financial responsibility, if he happened to come into a windfall because he fought with cops, tased cops, shot at cops, or tried to run-down cops, that windfall should be taxed to extract enough to re-pay the costs for his kids that he didn’t pay in life.

Would I add accumulated interest to those payments, you’re probably asking, as you take notes and prepare to call your elected representatives to urge passage of the CCDT?

Only if there is any money left after all of the above deductions were taken, and only to the extent that every last penny the dead criminal’s family was going to get has been given to his victims and the taxpayers instead.  Then we call it even.

“But how will this make the dead creep’s posse feel?” you are not asking, because who gives a Schumer?

The survivors who sired, birthed, slept with or otherwise shared the destructive trail that the deceased criminal trod might ask this question: “If the victims and the taxpayers get all of the money awarded to our dead jackass son/baby-daddy/dead-beat dad/co-conspirator, it’s almost like we won’t be able to profit from his easily anticipated and probably richly deserved demise at all!”

To which we will say:  Exactly!

So that’s it, people.  Call your elected pols and urge them to pass the CCDT.

In the meantime, I’ll wait right here, anticipating the day when you all burst through my front door, heave me up onto your shoulders, and carry me off to the Nobel Prize ceremony, chanting, “Simpson, Simpson!” all the way.”

In July, President Brandon produced one of my favorite gaffes of the summer:

“Meanwhile, while Que Mala was being muy mal, Joey Gaffes was across town doing a press availability.

So you know that went swimmingly.

As he tried to explain why so many people have resisted getting vaccinated, Biden produced this little chunk of brilliance: “There’s a reason why it’s been harder to get African Americans, initially, to get vaccinated, because they are used to being experimented on — the Tuskegee Airmen and others.  People have memories.  People have long memories.”

Let’s skip right past the irony of a guy who can’t remember the names of half of his cabinet members warning us against the dangers of long memories.

Biden has mixed up – and not for the first time – the black Tuskegee Airmen/pilots who flew in WWII with the black guys who had an STD, and were victimized by the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, during which their conditions went untreated.

In the very unlikely event that he’s reading this column, please consider this a public service from a concerned citizen who would like him to be better at his job:

“Mr. President, you know those guys who are to your left when you’ve stumbled up the mobile airport staircase (which I pray will soon be taking the oath of office as our 47th president) and onto Air Force One?  Those guys don’t have syphilis.  They’re your pilots.

And your degenerate son, with the hookers and the meth and the Chinese cash stuffed in suitcases?

He’s not a pilot.  He’s got syphilis.

You’re welcome.”

Coming Friday: Part 3…

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