Fakery is an essential part of life, to be sure. The animal world is full of it, with trickery being utilized by predators and prey alike. Not only chamaeleons, but just about every species you can mention has some trickster in it. Butterflies camouflaged to blend in with their environment. Flies that resemble bees so people won’t fool with them? Or the harmless king snake patterned like a rattler? The human species of homo sapiens, known locally as Homer Sapeens, has its tricksters as well.
Homer Sap is confronted daily by any number of people putting up a false front— cons, hucksters, confidence games and Ponzi schemes. Rascally folks putting on a different face, giving the right “spin” in jargo-babble to influence events and opinions. It seems to break down into two groups: there are those who hide in plain sight by keeping a low profile disguise as “ordinary folk” to draw attention away from themselves (the butterflies), while others try to get in everyone’s face, the predators who draw attention to themselves to get somebody going on a deal or a desire.
Even ordinary women paint themselves and put on a different face. Not only dressing to hide what they think might be a body defect, they also resort to chemical and surgical alterations. The Italians are so hip to this they use the same word, truccare, for a person making up her face or putting on a trick disguise. As a variation on the theme of painted women tricking themselves up, a series of images were circulated of a woman with her nude body painted to fake people out in public. It’s hard to estimate who got the bigger thrill, the painted woman or the ogler on the street who figured out what was going on with her. Whatever the payoff, the illustration is clear: people get off
on fooling the eye of the beholder.
Tricksters abound. PT Barnum (born in a state abbreviated by Con) represents in a large way the fatherhood of our national hucksters. With his Wild Man From Borneo who was really a home-grown black man, alongside a host of other carnival freaks promoted as educational exhibitions, Barnum enlivened the principle that “there’s a sucker born every minute;” he may not have even uttered that observation attributed to him, but it certainly lives in his deeds.
And Barnum’s successors in chicanery have advantaged themselves according to the principle that a sucker, customer, tax payer is born every minute. From CEOs living like sheiks— buying rare paintings and mansions and airplanes with embezzled corporate funds— right on down to local mayors, the world is their oyster waiting to be plucked from a sea of faces.
In national politics this trompe d’oeil bamboozling is well established. In matters of national security, cover-up is especially expected. Cloak and dagger stuff is business as usual, which makes it strange when the public reacts so drastically as soon as it finds out people are spying on others. Secret strategies require spying.
But how could anyone have guessed that the idea of undercover to one former National Security Adviser meant swiping national secrets and stuffing them in his shorts? This refers to one Sandy Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, who hid classified materials on his person by stuffing them in his pockets, sox, and, as reported by more critical noisepapers, in the aforementioned article of underwear.
At such a point in fantasy politics— to which the public is endlessly treated— this story becomes more of a fairy tale than news reportage. It should really have started out by the expression Once Upon a Time in the reign of President Billy Jeff. And the title might go something like this:
How Handy Burger Arose to Save the Reign of President Billy Jeff
Once upon a time ten, thousand news cycles past, in the land of the free, during the reign of President Billy Jeff, there was trouble in the White Palace. Those not familiar with White Palace living should know from the start that the mere fact of living there— or even wanting to live there— is fraught with peril. So it was with Billy Jeff.
Opposing tribes contrived to make trouble, accusations that his lordship was not a true leader, that he had allowed hated enemies to breech the gates and murder the innocent. And the proof of this misstep was recorded on paper stored deep in the vaults of the kingdom.
On that somber occasion the president called upon his trusted knight dubbed Handy Burger. This noble knight, handiest of servitors, swore absolute fealty to his lordship and vowed to save the day. And so, boys and girls, he did. Handy Burger was able by stealth and bluff to gain entry into the vaults of the kingdom and dispatch the troublesome documents.
(The reader might wonder why the hero’s name has been changed to Handy Burger. The answer is simple. There are certain servitors in the White Palace who serve and are served as handy as a Big Mac, with the same effect: though not very nourishing, a burger serves as a quick fill with some expected indigestion. So it was with Handy Burger.)
And why was his performance such a feat of daring diplomacy? Please remember, this once upon a time occurred in the dark ages of ten thousand news cycles past, before records went digital and could be dispatched with the press of a delete button. In our enlightened era a leader can destroy records with no more effort than going out to the nearest street project for a sledge hammer to smash a hard drive, or hire a Pakistani to do it for her. But this was in the olden times when documents were formed on paper— the thin papyrus sheets originally meant to serve the agents of a pharaoh.
Thus did Handy Burger penetrate the inner vaults of the palace and, dissimulating his purpose, snatched the troublesome documents by secreting them on his person. The documents, being of a skin-like composition— and this is the genius of Handy Burger’s attack— they were secreted next to his skin! He tucked them in his sox, his pants, even his knickers. Thus did the brave knight save the president from saving what little face there was left to face.
And what a feat was Handy Burger’s! The ploy of Ulysses smuggling his crew members to safety out of the Cyclops cave by disguising them as sheep— that was small potatoes when held up to the ploy of Handy Burger smuggling the troublesome documents past the watchful eyes of the guardians of the sacred vaults. There he strode, Ulysses of the bureaucracy, with papers out of the national archives stuffed under his garments down to the knickers. What bravery! What chutzpah!
The saddest part of his story is that major tedia downplayed the incident. The Burger Ploy deserved at least an award— if not an entire website or glee club— devoted to the accomplishment. But, before you could say weapons of mass destruction, that bit of Berger news went the way of all burgers: down the tubes.
After all these years we are still watching with eye and ear peeled, trying to learn just what kind of underwear the heroic Berger might have worn— just to get some idea of the magnitude of his accomplishment. Were they jockeys or boxers or maybe some kind of silky bloomers the ladies used to wear? Bloomers make more sense, considering the volume of material Berger had packed into them. All we can assume is that the Secretary was not wearing a speedo.
The public was neither made aware of the volume nor the actual content of the materials. Berger and his lawyers stated that they were only notes pertaining to the anticipated 2000 year millennium attack. But then how much can you believe from a guy with illicitly stuffed shorts, or his lawyers whose shorts were not available for examination?
Just speculating, it could have been stuff about President Clinton refusing to take Bin Laden off the hands of the Sudanese— twice— on a pretext by his National Security Adviser that they couldn’t make a case. Or maybe it pertained to the foul-up in Sudan itself.
Or it could have been something about the then-Secretary of State with a very ironic name who initiated a disarmament policy for American navy vessels sailing into Arabian ports: No loaded guns. This interdiction included Southern Yemen, the most dangerously disreputable of Arabian ports. The Saudis themselves cannot control the insurrectionist slave-running Islamo-fascists of Yemen, yet the USS Cole was ordered to stand down and be a friendly destroyer, with no defensive posture, as a certain bomb-laden cigarette boat approached. And the name of the person who created that situation was Albright.
Berger’s purloined documents could have been about Bin Laden or Albright or any number of other egregious idiocies to fill Al Qaeda heads with the notion that America was not entirely secure. As is their wont, the current chataqua of news tedia commentators won’t help us any more than the old guard did, only offering mere speculation and charges hurled back and forth over the political fence. Defenders say Berger was just taking notes on the classified documents. Well and good, but if there were no harm done taking those materials, why stuff ‘em down under?
Apparently, however, inquiring minds of theses trying times are only left to speculate on Burger’s motives— much as they will inquire in the future about the e-mails of the other Clinton, the Hilarious one.
Such immoral lack of proper attention seems the moral of the story. The incident really celebrates the testicles of our national leaders: how a Handy Burger could sneak highly classified documents out of CIA archives by hiding them in the described fashion. Balls are of acute concern. At times, it was reported, he actually performed this sleight-of-shorts feat within view of security personnel who were too chickenshit to vamp down on the former National Security Adviser. With balls that big, it’s a wonder there was any room to spare for cumbersome classified documents.
Berger’s accomplishment gives a whole new meaning to the idea of deep cover, of keeping your sources buttoned up. But there is a larger question tied to the issue.
Curiosity was at a boiling point while we were told of this episode by the old news guard: the Rather-Brokaw-Jennings chatauqua. But then, since the major tedia and noisepapers are run by the sons and daughters of PT Barnum, they must have known that Homer Sap is only interested in stuff like The Wild Man From Borneo.
And therein lies the dilemma. Not knowing exactly what type of underwear held those classified documents, we still sit, ten thousand news cycles later, hunched like prospectors before our Cyclops TV sets, panning through the garble, straining for that one little speck of information to fill in the picture. Well after the reign of Billy Jeff— after all this time, we’re still left in the dark concerning the type of underwear utilized in that deep cover operation. News tedia commentators of that ancient time, ten thousand news cycles ago, did not provide adequate questions and facts any more than the new guard of tricksters does today— as our current president voluminously reminds us today.
In the case of Handy Burger it was the same old offering of mere speculation and charges hurled back and forth over the political fence. A guilty plea ensued, a small fine ordered, and a fellow knight of the White Palace Justice Department, one Deputy Attorney General James Comey, dismissed further investigation.
At any rate, we are still left in these modern times with only the barest recognition of a political accomplishment of extremely original nature. So original, it calls for an admiration society. But what would be its name? Should it be the Handy Burger Jockey Club? Or perhaps Berger’s Boxers?
In order to admire the accomplishment wholly, and in the interest of historical accuracy, we here in the Trying Times bunker attempted to reproduce Handy Burger’s heroic feat by using our own resources. In the interest of personal safety, though, we caution the reader not to try this at home.
So far, top capacity for stuffing our jockey shorts model, before busting, held a ream of poetry, one Sunday edition of the LuluLand Times, and a thick paperback Tom Clancy spy novel. No report yet on the capacity of boxer shorts. But it would seem, due to the larger leg openings, any kind of paper or tape materials would drop through the boxer’s legs faster than a loose bowel movement, or even faster than classified information out the door of the Central Intelligence Agency or Los Alamos— or Hillary’s basement.