Feb 022013

At thirteen minutes past ten this morning, Gretchen and I were laboring through another working Saturday with a full schedule of clients, when I received an urgent call from Kathryn Cordite, a staffer for United States Representative Marsha Blackburn (R – Tennessee).
“She’s pretty near hysterical,” Gretchen told me as she peeked through the heavy oak doors that separate the reception area from my office, “and she says she absolutely has to have an appointment today at the very first opportunity.”
“What would you recommend?” I asked.
“That I tell her she’s in luck,” Gretchen answered.  “Just before she called, the Embassy of Zimbabwe cancelled your eleven o’clock appointment with their chief economist.”
“It figures,” I replied.  “As of COB yesterday, the nation of Zimbabwe had a grand total of two hundred and seventeen dollars in the bank.”
“Well,” Gretchen mused, “let’s hope Congresswoman Blackburn’s account has enough in it to cover the fee for one of your consultations.”

“They tell me,” Ms. Cordite declared as she forthrightly seated herself in the chair located directly in front of my desk, “that you are the smartest person in Washington.”
“Which is a lot,” I told her, “like being the tallest building in Baltimore.”
“Baltimore?” Kathryn snapped.  “What – are you, a Ravens fan or something?  Because frankly, both the cities in the Super Bowl this year are way too liberal for us Tennesseans.  Baltimore’s a nest of left-wing Democrats and San Francisco is run by Democrat queers.  I’m just sorry there isn’t some way both teams can lose.  So – okay, since you’ve got a reputation as some kind of local genius, Representative Blackburn assigned me to get your input on Obama’s Skeetergate.”
“Skeetergate?” I wondered aloud.  “Is the administration covering up some mistakes or wrongdoing involving the spread of West Nile virus, Dengue fever or malaria by insect vectors?”
“No,” she clarified, “the name refers to the Obama administration pushing a Big Lie about skeet shooting on the American people.”
“You’re referring,” I presumed, “to the President’s remarks to the New Republic earlier this week, to the effect that he regularly shoots skeet at the Presidential retreat?”
“He said,” she insisted, “that he does it all the time!  He said, and I quote, ‘Yes, in fact up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.’  That’s what he actually said – ‘all the time,’ not ‘often,’ ‘usually,’ or… ‘regularly,’ any one of which he could have said, of course, but didn’t!”
“So, obviously,” I concluded, “you believe that when he made that statement using those words, the President was pandering to gun owners.”
“Attempting to pander to gun owners,” she snorted contemptuously.  “What he succeeded in doing, actually, was insulting their intelligence.”
“How so?” I probed.
“Because serious, experienced firearms owners,” she proclaimed, “know that you can’t defend your Second Amendment rights with a wimpy little old skeet gun!”
“The Second Amendment,” I observed, “says, and I quote, ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’  Why would a US citizen need a weapon of any type whatsoever to defend the rights defined by that statement?”
“Because,” she fumed, “it’s not about what the Second Amendment says, it’s about what the Second Amendment means.  And what it means is, that true, patriotic freedom-loving Americans have the right to bear arms against the government when it tries to take away their guns.”
“And where,” I prodded, “do you get a concept like that out of a statement which James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and their associates obviously intended to mean that, in their new American state, the Minutemen shall be allowed to keep their muskets, just in case the British attempted another invasion?  And that’s obviously all it meant, too – look at the Third Amendment, for example.  That’s a prohibition upon the quartering of troops in people’s homes without their permission, which is what the British did when they occupied American towns, and it hasn’t been a serious issue since the eighteenth century when the Third Amendment was written.  Therefore, given the context of the time, the Second Amendment…”
“If the baby killers,” she tartly interrupted, “can find ‘penumbras formed by emanations’ in the Constitution that imply a right to privacy, and then say that right to privacy they found in those penumbras gives godless Communists like Harry Blackmun, Warren Burger and William O. Douglas an excuse for a ruling like Roe versus Wade, then gun owners can construe the Second Amendment any way they want!  We conservatives can find our own penumbras in the Constitution!  And the penumbras we see that are formed by emanations from the Second Amendment say that when a Socialist Moslem foreign-born dictator like Barack Hussein Obama sends in the black helicopters full of jackbooted United Nations goons, the real, patriotic Americans can fight back using AR-15’s with hundred-round banana clips loaded with teflon-coated depleted uranium hollow-point bullets, damn it, not some piddling, tiny, impotent single-action 410 bore clay pigeon shotgun!”
“And that,” I sought to verify, “is how the President insulted their intelligence?”
“Exactly!” Kathryn confirmed.
“Understood,” I acknowledged.  “But isn’t proposing that individual citizens – or even fairly large groups of them – armed with semi-automatic – or even fully automatic assault rifles, for that matter – could actually prevail in a battle against helicopter gunships an even greater insult to their intelligence?”
“Why don’t you put that question,” she suggested, “to the Taliban?  They’ve been kicking NATO’s butt all over Afghanistan for ten years with nothing but AK-47s!” 
“Very well, then,” I relented, “let’s discuss your… problem with the President’s skeet shooting.”
“Okay, first of all, until today,” she began, “the White House has never released any photographic proof that Obama ever even went skeet shooting.  Now, I ask you – why is that?  Don’t official White House photographers take pictures of just about everything presidents do outside of the bathroom, the bedroom or the doctor’s office?”
“Generally speaking,” I agreed, “that’s true.  But sometimes, I’m sure, the White House staffers in charge of public relations choose not to release certain pictures.”
“Such as what?” Kathryn challenged.
“Well,” I hypothesized, “if a photographer inadvertently took a picture of a president of the United States picking his nose, or scratching his backside, or adjusting his… ahem… family jewels inside his boxers or briefs, as the case might be… I’m pretty sure such a photograph would never be approved for public release.  Similarly, although President Obama smoked cigarettes during his first term, the White House never released any pictures of him smoking, because to do so would convey the wrong impression.  I suspect that similar reasoning lay behind the White House decision not to release any pictures of the President shooting a gun – even one which is obviously only useful for sport.”
“And what would be wrong,” she sharply volleyed back, “with a picture of the President shooting a gun?”
“Actually,” I noted, “over the last four years, there have been a number of hoax photographs circulated on the Internet, purporting to show President Obama firing a gun.  And in every case, the obvious intent of the fake photograph’s creator is to instill fear in the minds of gullible moderates and conservatives, who would perceive the image as threatening.  Some even had captions to enforce the notion, such as, ‘You’re a Regular Cowboy,’ ‘Aloha Akbar,’ ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do,’ ‘Now – Give Me Your Guns,’ ‘He Wants Background Checks for Guns, But Not One to be President,’ ‘Hold It!  Don’t Shoot the Constitution,’ and ‘Hypocrite Dictator Scumbag,’ for example.”
“That’s all just free speech!” Kathryn shouted at me.  “The First Amendment guarantees it!”
“Of course it does,” I agreed.  “But with a horde of faked photos of the President using firearms already floating around cyberspace, I’m sure anyone could see why the White House wouldn’t necessarily want to release a real one.  Why, in a matter of minutes, I’m sure, there would be Photoshopped versions of it posted on Web sites all over the world, and…”
“That just it!” Kathryn anxiously interrupted.  “The picture the White House released this morning is a fake!”
“Really?” I remarked.  “What leads you to believe that?”
“Well,” she muttered disgustedly, “it has to be, doesn’t it?”
“You are referring,” I inquired, as I turned my desktop high resolution monitor screen so she could see it, “to this picture here?”
“Yeah,” she nodded, “that’s the one.”
“In this picture,” I commented, “the President is standing on the right side of the image, by a one-lane macadam paved road in front of a wooded area, wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans, hearing protectors, sunglasses and a watch, firing to the left.  The lighting falls from about eighty-five degrees overhead, indicating the picture was taken around solar noon, or one-o’clock p.m. daylight savings time, in the summer.  The angles of the shadows in the background, on the President’s body and on the firearm he is holding all match.  If we enlarge the image, we see that the resolution is not sufficient to determine the make or model of the firearm, but it’s obviously a small shot gun, such as would be used for skeet.  And what we observe is consistent with the fact that we can’t distinguish the make or model of the watch on the President’s left wrist, either – as a matter of fact, in this picture, the watch face is only about sixteen pixels across.  But nevertheless, observing the arrangement of the pixels around the President’s right hand, we can see no irregularities, disturbance or dithering at the interface between the image of his hand and the image of the gun, nor are any such anomalies evident where the image of the gun stock meets the image of the President’s left shoulder, nor with respect to three of the fingers of his right hand supporting the barrel.  There is, however, an anomaly in the pixels comprising the image of the President’s right index finger…”
“Aha!” Kathryn exulted.  “I knew it!  They made one telltale mistake, didn’t they?”
“Well, no,” I continued.  “What we see in the pixels around the President’s right index finger is simple blurring in the photograph.  He’s pulling with both index fingers when he fires – once with his left, because he’s left handed…”
“Then why,” she objected, “is he wearing his watch on his left wrist?  Doesn’t that prove this photo is a fake?”
“No,” I rebutted, “it’s well known that he wears his watch on his left arm.  Most left handed people are somewhat ambidextrous, and it’s not unusual for them to wear their watch like a right handed person, shoot pool right handed, or even play the guitar right handed, if they were classically trained.  And of course, all left handed violinists, violists and cellists play their instruments like right handed people – can you imagine a symphony orchestra with three or four bows sticking out of the string section the wrong way?  As a matter of fact, it appears that our left-handed President’s typical mild ambidexterity probably accounts for that sympathetic flinch in his right index finger when he pulls the trigger with his left one.  I bet that throws his aim off at the very last moment, too.”
“So what you’re saying is,” she reasoned, “is that the photo is real, but he’s probably a lousy shot?”
“With respect to skeet shooting,” I surmised, “until he corrects that flinch in his right index finger when he fires, President Obama is going to be a complete duffer.”
“So it should be easy for Representative Blackburn to beat him,” she speculated, “if, that is, he’s man enough to take her up on the challenge?”
“I shouldn’t imagine that anyone from Tennessee would have to worry about beating a black urbanite from Chicago at skeet shooting,” I remarked, “but if Congresswoman Blackburn really wants to make her point, I would recommend the skeet match follow a somewhat different format.”
Kathryn’s eyebrows shot up with surprise and interest.  “Such as?”
“Ditch those namby-pamby little shotguns,” I recommended, “and have your boss challenge the President to a skeet match with fully automatic AR-15’s.”
“Omigod!” Kathryn exclaimed.  “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because,” I reminded her, “thinking of things like that is what consultants like me get paid to do.”
“Oh, oh…” she ejaculated, “this is great!  It would like… totally legitimize the assault rifle as a sporting gun!  And what’s more, if Obama turns down a challenge to shoot skeet with AR-15’s from a woman, he’ll look like a complete wuss!”
“So he would,” I confirmed.  “Plus, once he finds out what it’s like to shoot skeet with a full-auto AR-15…”
“He’ll forget all about his stupid anti-gun crusade!” Kathryn enthused.
“Probably,” I conjectured.  “And then maybe you Republicans can start working with President Obama and congressional Democrats to make the United States of America a better place for everyone to live, work and prosper, instead of…”
“Hey wait a minute,” she cautioned, as she rose, shook my hand, and made for the door, “let’s not get carried away!”