Sunday, March 06, 2011

“Capitol Call”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

My friend Ezekiel Byler-Gregg is Editor In Chief of the local Burton Daily Bugle newspaper.

Zeke has always possessed a very individualistic outlook, owing in part to his Mennonite and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. But recently, his opinions have taken a more Libertarian turn. After encountering financial difficulties during the near collapse of our economy in 2008, he has become more vocal.

Last week, despite the objections of friends like myself, he attempted to contact our nation’s highest leader. What follows here is a transcript of his protest-by-phone:

OPERATOR – “Hello! This is the White House switchboard. How may I direct your call today?”

EZEKIEL – “Hello, miss. My name is Ezekiel Byler-Gregg. I am the editor of a small, country newspaper in Burton, Ohio.”

OPERATOR – “Yes Mr. Gregg. How may I direct your call?”

EZEKIEL – “That’s Byler-Gregg, if you please.”

OPERATOR – “Yes, Mr. Byler-Gregg. How may I direct…”

EZEKIEL – “I’d like to speak with President Obama.”

OPERATOR – “Who??”

EZEKIEL – “Your boss. The head honcho. Is he home at the moment?”

OPERATOR – “My boss?”

EZEKIEL – “The President of the United States!”

OPERATOR – “Is this a prank?”

EZEKIEL – “No, I’m a concerned citizen trying to plow up some answers!”

OPERATOR – “Is this a radio stunt? Are you Rush Limbaugh?”

EZEKIEL – “Limbaugh? Now that’s funny. But I would be less offended if you accused me of being Phil Hendrie…”


EZEKIEL – “Phil Hendrie. The guy that does all the different voices.”


EZEKIEL – “Never mind. My name is Ezekiel Byler-Gregg. I am a journalist.”

OPERATOR – “A journalist? Like Andrew Breitbart?”

EZEKIEL – “No, no, no! I am a humble citizen trying to reach his president.”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Gregg, please! You can’t speak to him without an appointment.”

EZEKIEL – “That’s Byler-Gregg!”

OPERATOR – “Sorry. I am unable to direct your call…”

EZEKIEL – “Miss, have you ever heard the phrase ‘We The People?’ Do you know what that means?”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Byler-Gregg, you are speaking in riddles.”

EZEKIEL – “The phrase means our government works for us. President Obama serves the voters. Do you understand that? I want him to speak with me. Maybe a maple syrup version of his famous beer summit.”

OPERATOR – “You are making no sense.”

EZEKIEL – “Have you ever read the U. S. Constitution?”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Byler, my reading habits aren’t relevant here…”

EZEKIEL – “Byler-Gregg! Byler-Gregg!”

OPERATOR – “Sir, you are hurting my ear.”

EZEKIEL – “I want to ask President Obama how it is that he promised tax relief for working Americans in 2008, and now has created a climate where someone like myself just got tagged with the biggest IRS bill I’ve ever faced.”

OPERATOR – “You need to speak with H & R Block, not President Obama.”

EZEKIEL – “Shouldn’t that be my decision?”

OPERATOR – “Is this Glenn Beck? Are you on the air right now?”

EZEKIEL – “For the last time, I am a down-home newspaper editor from Ohio!”

OPERATOR – “You do not need to shout, sir.”

EZEKIEL – “I want to ask President Obama how it is that he managed to take care of struggling companies like GM and Chrysler, while abandoning working-class citizens like myself.”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Beck, that does not bear any resemblance to the truth.”

EZEKIEL – “Byler-Gregg! Byler-Gregg! Byler-Gregg!”

OPERATOR – “Sir, you are shouting again.”

EZEKIEL – “I had financial problems last year. With a bit of creative wrangling, I settled my debts for a lump-sum payoff. But now, I face a huge tax bill on the ‘forgiven’ amount of money. Isn’t that just a bit crazy? Taxing money that didn’t exist?”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Byler-Gregg, you need to calm down.”

EZEKIEL – “Actually, I reckon it is sort of appropriate. The government prints money that doesn’t exist, so… why not tax money that doesn’t exist? Eureka!”

OPERATOR – “You need to take a deep breath, sir.”

EZEKIEL – “What I need is to speak with your boss.”

OPERATOR – “If you have a dispute, it would fall under IRS jurisdiction.”

EZEKIEL – “Let me ask you… when GM and Chrysler were ‘forgiven’ in regard to billions of dollars of unpaid debts… do you think they had to pay taxes on that amount?”

OPERATOR – “Okay, this must be Bill O’Reilly. My grandmother actually watches your show… I am embarrassed to say.”

EZEKIEL – “Miss, you don’t seem to be listening to me!”

OPERATOR – “As I said before, I am unable to direct your call. Have a good day.”

EZEKIEL – “Wait! Wait! Don’t hang up the phone, lady!”

OPERATOR – “Sir, you are obviously an employee of FOX News. This is going nowhere…”

EZEKIEL – “Hold your horses! I have been a registered Democrat for over forty years.”

OPERATOR – “I find that very hard to believe.”

EZEKIEL – “Ronald Reagan once said ‘I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, they left me.’ That’s how I feel, miss.”

OPERATOR – “Mr. Byler-Gregg, my job is not to assess how you feel. I direct telephone calls for the White House.”

EZEKIEL – “Then please direct my call to President Obama.”

OPERATOR – “I can’t do that…”

EZEKIEL – “Can’t do, or won’t?”

OPERATOR – “Arguing over words has no purpose here. Is there anything else you wanted today?”

EZEKIEL – “Just answers. That’s all.”

OPERATOR – “Answers are not my area of expertise… just telephone directories.”

EZEKIEL – “That has become mighty obvious. Like a cowpie in the barnyard.”

OPERATOR – “I do have a toll-free number for the IRS. Are you ready with a pencil and paper?”

EZEKIEL – “Never mind, blast it. Never mind!”

OPERATOR – “Thanks for calling the White House. Have a good day, Mr. Gregg.”

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