2013 March 15

I sold my house yesterday.
Really! You've been talking about selling it for at least a year. How long did you have it on the market?
Actually, I only put it on the market two weeks ago. The rest of the time has been setting it up. Preparation is the secret of selling anything.
So I have to ask. what did you do to prepare?
I painted all the interior walls a hideous color and then I covered them all with wallpaper.
Okay, once again, I have to ask. Why did you paint walls you were only going to cover with wallpaper?
Because the walls are Particle Board. I don't want the buyer to find out the walls are make of flakeboard, so I painted them first and then papered 'em and then my family and I lived in the house for six months. With my kids, you know there are going to be a few holes and now the buyer sees the paint, the horrible blue paint, and realizes that's why the walls are wallpapered. It never occurs to the guy buying the house to wonder what's behind the paint.
You didn't invite me to lunch twenty miles from work to tell me about selling houses. What are you selling?
I want to sell Howie.
Howie? Mailroom guy Howie? Mailroom guy who's been delivering the mail at our firm for fifteen years Howie? What does anybody want to do with Howie?
Have you ever talked to him?
Well, not really.
I chat with him from time to time. For a guy with only a junior-college degree, he's surprisingly articulate and well spoken.
Is he smart?
Not really, but he can carry on a conversation. He has a good speaking voice.
Ahhhh. So you want to sell his voice. Are you going to have him do radio commercials?
That would be a waste. He's also good looking.
He's a gangly black fellow with big ears.
Take a closer look. He has eager eyes and the ears only make him look younger.
Okay, so who's going to buy Howie anyway? What are you selling?
I'm thinking we could have some fun running Howie for political office.
A junior-college graduate, mail-room, gofer for office?
No, a Harvard-educated, super-liberal, black candidate named Ben Olson.
Ben Olson?
Ben Olson was born in 1961, lived in various places around the globe, went to an Ivy League college, Dartmouth or Columbia have the lowest profiles, and then was a student at Harvard Law School.
And what happens when somebody asks Dartmouth or Columbia and Harvard about Ben Olson?
A black alumnus candidate is running for office? What do you think?
They won't have any records!
Sure they will. They'll make 'em up and glow with pride!
They'll lie?
It's not a lie. After all, doesn't a black man deserve those credentials? Haven't blacks been discriminated so much for so long? They'll think of it as social justice rather than a lie.

Besides, I know people at Harvard and people at our firm know people other places. We can fill in a solid record for our boy Ben.

I have a hard time believing Howie can pull that off. After all, does he sound like a Harvard-educated man?
Talk to him and see for yourself. He sounds really good, no ghetto accent, no jive talking. He talks good white-speak English. And, besides, remember how much lower the standard is.
Okay, but somebody's going to find a hole. Somebody's going to figure out that Ben Olson didn't do something or wasn't somewhere he says he was.
You mean that somebody's going to see I've wallpapered over flakeboard?
Huh? What the hell does flakeboard have to do with Howie?
You're worried they're going to peek behind Ben Olson and see Howie the mail guy, right?
Something like that, yeah.
So I'm going to paint over the Howie-flakeboard with something suspicious but unverifiable.
And what is this mystery paint?
Barry Soetoro.
Who is Barry Soetoro?
Barry Soetoro is the identity Ben Olson doesn't want you to see, the one he covered up. Not only will we fill in a solid record for Ben Olson, we'll fill in a solid record for Barry Soetoro. Unlike Ben, Barry was born in Africa with a past just questionable enough that he would want it covered up. Barry smoked pot, participated in demonstrations, belonged to unsavory ultra-liberal groups, stuff like that.
So you're going to fill in two backgrounds?
Not "me," "we."
Why would I want to be part of this?
Well, for one, it would be a lot of fun. For two, it would be a whole lotta money.
How much money?
That all depends on how far Ben Olson can go. Congressman, senator, cabinet post, who knows? The wealth these people control is unbelievable.
And you think we can get some of that?
A few crumbs from the cake? For the guys who launched Ben Olson's career? I don't think it would be a problem.
So we hold his real record over his head, like blackmail?
I don't think so. Remember, for this to work, his real record has to be hard to find. If it's hidden well enough not to find, it's hidden well enough not to be usable blackmail. We just have to make sure we're there with our hands out when the money's falling from the sky.

Really, I don't know about any of that. I just think it would be fun to pull this off.

What about people who know Howie now?
Howie doesn't talk to anybody at our firm, doesn't have any friends outside really, so if some councilman looks like the last mail guy, who's going to say anything? If it goes further, by the time it goes further, nobody's going to remember anything.
Let me get this fake-background bit. The conservatives go after Ben Olson with everything they got and find cracks in his record. Oh, look, here's another guy who looks like the same guy. But it's not the real Howie, it's bad Barry. Like your bad-paint, it hides the real flakeboard of Howie. But no birth certificates, no people who remember him as a kid?
Birth certificates are easier to fake than you think, and everybody famous has people who remember them as kids, even people who never met them as kids. We have to remember to keep all the facts straight and consistent.
And that will work?
If it doesn't, nobody's going to blame us. They'll whitewash it so well nobody's going to find anything.
And suppose somebody looks deeper. After all, the real Howie was born somewhere, probably right here in Chicago.
I looked that up. Howard Pankin was born in 1960 as Harold Smith. That's the only thing close I could find when I poked around. It got mumble-fuddled when a four-year-old Howard was asked his name going into foster care and I guess he had a speech problem and it came out Howie instead of Harry.
So they'll never find him.
No, never.
I'm having trouble with the name "Ben Olson." It's almost sarcastic. It's almost like if you're rebellious enough to vote for the black guy, you're too rebellious to vote for Ben Olson.
So what are you thinking?
Something foreign, something African, Bendino Mumbi, something like that.
I like the O brand of Olson, kind of like O for "Oprah.
So how about "Obama"? Nobody's named Obama.
Good, so what about "Ben"?
You like the B.O. bit, don't you?
Not really, but I like the Barry-Ben comparison.
So how about "Barack?" It's like Barry but it isn't.
It's better. How about a middle name sure to offend, so people have to vote for him not to seem prejudiced. I got it: Barack Hussein Obama. It's the perfect slap in the face.
Slap in whose face?
Anybody who was against Saddam, anybody who supports our military, just about anybody who's anybody, really.
You're having way too much fun with this.
Councilman Obama, Congressman Obama, Senator Obama.
God forbid, President Obama.
The higher he goes, the worse things get, but the more money flows. Somebody's got to handle the funding, and by "funding" I mean kickbacks.
So we on?
Are we? I guess so. And if we're caught and go to jail for a million years?
Once we win one election, it's over, nobody will arrest us because they can't admit they screwed up.
And if he doesn't win?
Then we didn't do anything wrong. No harm, no foul. Don't ask, don't tell.
I guess I'll start drafting fake documents.
No, you'll start "unearthing history."
Of course. So who's paying for this party?
We start with the usual suspects. Labor unions have big coffers and like big favors. Chicago has so much graft, once we get one nasty contract, we'll be chasing money away.
This is a corrupt town, isn't it?
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.
I know a guy who's looking for a road-painting contract. He won't be above greasing a few palms, never mind what color they are.
I know some hospital administrators. A few favors from a councilman is worth a lot. Getting him elected is worth plenty. Health care is better that road-painting.
A whole lot better.
Then we're on our way.
If you want more of this kind of material (heaven forbid) then here are my American-issues essays.

Today is 2022 August 18, Thursday,
7:59:01 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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