The firing squad was almost ready. The Nazis had lined up all the Jews against the wall. One of the Jews, shaking wildly, asked the man beside him, “Do you suppose I could ask that guard over there for a cigarette?” “Shut up!” came the brusque reply. “Don’t make trouble!”

Here comes trouble. There’s a terrible moment when you realize it’s over, lost, done-with, ain’t gonna happen. It’s the moment you become aware you’re not going to get the job, your candidate isn’t going to win, the football game becomes un-winnable. It’s the moment when you realize you’re loveless. Girls catch on more easily. He just doesn’t call for two weeks; do you realize how long that is in girl-years? For boys, she finally runs out of excuses and agrees to a date. But instead of being warm and cuddly in the car, she wedges herself tightly against the passenger door, as far away from you as she can get and still remain inside the car, and prattles on about French literature.

Welcome to America.

Nobody’s going to fix the debt. The TV reporter didn’t mean to be this interesting. It was just a lucky flash of revealing lightning. On the very night Mitt Romney lassoed the GOP nomination for keeps – April 23, when he took all five primaries – President Obama came out strongly in favor of extending the halving of interest rates on student loans. Romney agreed. The newsman said, “Romney and Obama are on the same page.” They’re going to be on the same page on a lot more than student loans. And it’s one of the bleakest pages in American history.

If you ask the AAA for directions to drive from New York City to Greensboro, N.C., you’ll get a printout detailing the interim points of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, South Boston, Danville and Reidsville. Have you heard any elected official or any candidate be so forthcoming about how America deals with a $15 trillion debt? They’re afraid to talk about it even in vague generalities – “entitlements and taxes.”

Oh, they’re so wise and knowing when they warn the Republicans that the Ryan plan is “toxic.” There’s not a damned thing wrong with the Ryan plan. Better put, there’s nothing wrong with the Ryan plan that’s not equally wrong with every other plan. Somebody is going to lose benefits. And whether you’re a Greek brick-thrower, a Portuguese car-burner, an American public-union boss or you – yes, you! – whoever you are: you cry “Rape!”

A reporter once asked the father of American labor, Samuel Gompers, “What does labor really want?” He said simply, “More!” They never thought to ask him the other-side-of-the-coin question; “What would drive the American worker into the streets and onto the barricades?” The obvious answer, “Less!”

Having branded our leaders as cowards, this screed pursues them no further. Do you blame the invaders of Omaha Beach for jumping over the side of the landing craft as it hit the beach instead of charging straight ahead when the ramp slapped the surf? Of course not! They saw that the German machine guns were fixated on the front of the landing crafts. Shirking suicide is not shameful in American military and political culture. Election year or not, what politician is going to go charging smack into the middle of the machine-gun fire?

I blame the real villains: us; we, the voters, who will punish any and all who “heartlessly attack the less fortunate with these mean-minded benefit cuts!” The fact that there’s no money and a $15 trillion debt is considered irrelevant and bad taste even to bring up. There are needy people. Their benefits are being cut. That’s horrid. End of story.

I have a dream. The top 100 officials in our government are suddenly captured by well-armed abductors in ski masks. Their leader says, “Breathe easily, my brothers. We mean you no harm. Your loved ones are being contacted and assured you will suffer no pain or worse. We know what medications each of you requires, and our pharmacist, in the green ski mask, will make sure nobody misses a single dose.

“You will notice the stack of yellow legal pads and pens on the table. You will be released one by one as soon as you write out in detail your vision for handling America’s $15 trillion debt. Please write, ‘This is my plan’ and sign your name and title.”

The only trouble with this dream is that it never reaches a conclusion; no matter how many times I hit the “snooze” button, not a single hostage ever qualifies for release!

A debt-burdened man had an interesting plan. Increasingly exasperated by all the notices he got demanding payment, he replied to each with a note that said, “Dear Sirs: Every month I put all my bills into a basket, close my eyes, pull one out, and that’s the one I pay. If you don’t quit badgering me, you won’t be included in next month’s drawing!”

Student loan interest? Yeah, cut it in half!

National debt? Don’t make trouble.

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