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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

“Chief! Chief! I’ve got the scoop of the decade!” shouted reporter Amy Handleman, sprinting into the newsroom and skidding to a stop at the city desk.

City Editor Harry Gruffmann eyed her skeptically. He drawled, “Of the decade, you say?”

“Yes, yes! I’ve got hold of some notes from the president’s analyst, Jill Poke,” said Handleman, trying to control her breathing.

Gruffmann sat up a bit straighter. “Let’s have a look,” he said, and Handleman pointed out that Poke was analyzing Barack Obama’s call for higher taxes on citizens who had done “extraordinarily well.”

“It’s beyond politics; it’s about the whole man,” said the notes. “The speech was a declaration of the president’s decision to keep faith with himself. He has thrust aside the internal struggle that has plagued him since his election to the most establishment of jobs: Should he ‘keep faith’ with his former persona of a community organizer who built his career on anti-establishment rhetoric? Or should he continue working from within to bring down the American politico/economic system?”

“Here’s the kicker,” said Handleman, tapping her index finger on the pertinent paragraph. It said, “He has decided to keep the faith. The internal stress of disguising his predilections has overcome his desire to remain president. He has found boring from within just too … boring.

“He longs for the company of those with whom he is most comfortable: Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Rev. Wright and other lights of Chicago’s intellectual left, the people with whom he can share his inmost feelings about American decadence without fear of contradiction.”

“Look what she scribbled in the margin,” Handleman said, “She wrote, ‘He doesn’t like to be contradicted.’”

“This is hot stuff!” exclaimed Gruffmann. “Why here Poke says that ‘without the albatross of the presidency, Mr. Obama can be the firebrand of the left. He can appear at anti-war rallies staged by the Socialist Workers Party; he can give free rein to his pro-Palestinian prejudices; he can enjoy cocktail parties with the products of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s academia.’” (Another marginal note, “These are the newly rich and thus newly guilt-ridden.”)

Gruffmann read aloud, “He will be able to reconfirm his dedication to the entire leftist cannon, and, of course, he can collect generous speaking fees from ‘green energy’ promoters.”

“And here,” the editor said, “Why Poke has risked her own leftist credentials by alluding to the ‘Uncle Remus’ stories of Joel Chandler Harris. It says here, ‘His speech last week was Br’er Rabbit begging Br’er Fox, ‘Please don’t throw me into the brier patch of electoral defeat,’ while truly aching for just such release. Once out of office, he then can say he – ultimately – was true to himself.”

“Wow and wow!” said Gruffmann, his blood truly up. “I have to know your source and if it’s reliable. Just which Republican operatives handed you this story?”

“Republican?” said Handleman. “It was a group of top Democrats!”


The Chutzpah Cup goes to: Timothy Geithner! The United States treasury secretary wins this trophy for having effrontery to travel to Poland and lecture the European Union on the need to deal with its debt crisis. His solution, not surprisingly, was pretty much the same prescription he has given his homeland: Borrow more money.

European finance ministers were not amused.

Geithner swept up the second place trophy for lecturing the successful earners about their need to pay more taxes. This from a tax evader who had to pay an arrearage to the IRS to gain his secretary status.


Meebe/Weebe lives: California voters got rid of affirmative action in public contracting years ago, but it lives on in the federal bureaucracy. Hence, an order from the U.S. Department of Transportation that the California High-Speed Rail Authority help women- and minority-owned businesses.

The Los Angeles Times reports the rail authority also “must conduct an availability and disparity study” on minority/women participation (for which project?). You see, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area had complained that while the authority’s contracting practices appeared neutral, they actually had a disparate impact on minority-owned firms. Nevertheless, the feds didn’t find there was any discrimination; they just want to be sure, whatever the cost.

This reminds me of a true story: A contractor friend of mine thought he had won a bid for a large, public project, but a notice came that the next lowest highest bidder would get the job. It seems the alleged winner had placed more advertising seeking minority- and women-owned business participation.

Ultimately, my friend won out. Although he hadn’t advertised as widely, he had more actual minority- and women-owned subcontractors that the firm that tried harder.

Watch for more such nonsense in the years to come.

(Oddly, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area has six board officers. Four work in Washington, D.C., one in New York and one in Los Angeles.)

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