“’Tis the season to be jolly, my man. Snow on the ground here. Good old New Jersey snow, grimy, working man’s snow. It is jingle bells time, lots of East Coast love, blue and red home decorations blinking yuletide cheer. I saw a mugger wish a guy Merry Christmas just before he ripped him off.”
“My, my Barney,” I said after listening to his effusive phone chatter. “It is refreshing to find you in such a good mood. Other than seasonal euphoria, your holiday spirits are embellished by liquid replenishment, by chance?”
“Just a little Leg Yog,” he slurred.
Whatever. Barney can be a bombastic fellow so it was good to find him a bubbling cauldron of enthusiasm and especially gratifying that he was off his normal kick of lamenting my shortcomings of a prosaic pundit in a state he thinks still gets its mail by Pony Express. I rejoiced too soon.
“I’ll tell you what really makes me happy,” he chortled. “I saw those emails nailing you for that stupid column you wrote criticizing the Koch brothers for doing nothing more than being good Americans. At least some New Mexicans have a lick of sense.”
Oh, boy. The column in question cited a mayoral and city council election in a small Iowa town where Americans for Prosperity, a super conservative Koch-affiliated big spender, tried to muscle through its right wing candidates and got its tail kicked.
“Barney, hear me out. The intent of the column was to lament the idea of Big Money, which has an ugly influence at the federal and state level — New Mexico certainly no exception — being especially intrusive in local elections where heretofore we have been left alone to fight our own battles. We…..”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Barney interrupted. “But you sent me some reader emails and they were right on. How coincidental you blasted the conservative Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity but somehow forgot to mention your buddies like George Soros who spend wads of cash to sway public opinion.”
“Whoa, there, Barney,” I answered. “It was clear I was referring to small town local elections and if George Soros had brought his influence peddling ways into, say, Portales, I would have been the first to object!”
“Where’s Portales?” he asked. Barney pays a lot of attention to New Mexico and he knows full well where Portales is, but he sensed I was getting a bit miffed and was putting on the brakes.
“Hold on there, Barney. You are ignoring the fact the column said ‘There are those of us who think Big Money, liberal Big Money and conservative Big Money, its donors too often shrouded in secrecy, is the scourge of modern politics.’”
That was just too logical and fair for my combative friend to acknowledge, so he started throwing jabs. “I can see you aren’t that popular. How about that guy who said even if the Kochs set aside a few thousand to school you in politics, it wouldn’t move your needle much?
“The same reader said you appear to be the classic ‘yellow dog’ leftie. You must lead a lonely life in New Mexico,” Barney concluded.
“You missed something,” I cautioned. “Sure, he sounded hateful but that guy put one of those smiley signs at the end, so that shows he really does like me.”
“Boy, you’re easy. Someone trash talks you but uses a smiley face, so you think maybe he wants to hang out? Do you have any friends at all?”
“You, Barney. You. You’re my friend. What do you want for Christmas?”
“Some Leg Yog would be nice,” Barney chuckled, returning to his holiday revelry.
Ned Cantwell — firstname.lastname@example.org — is neither a lefty nor a righty but always wears a smiley face.