April 14, 2017
By Mickey Friedman
Most Americans watch football. So they know about the concussion protocol. Football is a brutal game – I know because I’m a devoted New York Giants fan – and football players routinely smash into other players, who are often escorted off the field without knowing who they are. Luckily, there are doctors who restrain them from doing any further damage to their brains – at least for a few days.
I played touch football and never got a helmet to the head. So it wasn’t until I got to Fuel last week that I experienced my version of the protocol. Holli, who makes a mean iced latte, shook her head sadly as I was about to order. Then took out a laminated card from below the counter.
“I’m sorry but before I can serve you, I have to administer a simple test from the newly established Food, Drug and Homeland Security Administration (FDHSA), pronouncing it with a guttural slur to make the “d,” “h, and “s” work.
Holli is a very funny person. She loves puns and jokes, but it was seven AM. And I need espresso before my brain works. So sometimes I don’t know when she’s joking and I started to laugh.
“Sorry Mickey, but this is real. Presidential Executive Order 735b requires us to ask three simple questions to customers who fit the profile. Unfortunately, FDHSA says I can’t really discuss the profile. But trust me you qualify. So here’s the first question: “Do you know who Paul Manafort is?”
I sighed because these days I read the New York Times every morning and watch MSNBC every evening. I know about the Russia scandal and Manafort. So I began: “Manafort was paid ten million dollars a year to help one of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends steal a fortune from former Soviet enterprises. He was paid to promote Russian interests in America and worked for the Putin puppet in the Ukraine. He probably helped to make sure the Republican platform didn’t actively support the Ukrainian resistance to Russia. He’s bought countless houses in New York City for cash, including an apartment at Trump Towers. He’s known Trump since the 1980s and became the Campaign Manager for the Trump Campaign.”
Holli nodded. “Wow, you know more about Manafort than this card. I hope that’s not a problem. On to Question Two: ‘Who is Jared Kushner?’”
I missed my latte. But noticing the uniformed guard behind the bar with the spiffy FDHSA patch, I figured I wouldn’t get my espresso without an answer. “Jared Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump. They’re worth $740 million. POTUS – the President of the United States – has put him in charge of his three grandchildren, creating Middle East peace, solving the opioid crisis, and renewing American Innovation. As a husband, Jared reports directly to Ivanka; as a trusted advisor, he reports directly to POTUS. Before trying to reinvent innovation, he lost money for Kushner Companies. They own 20,000 apartments and 14 million sq. feet of office space.
“They need investors to redevelop the $1.8 billion 666 Fifth Avenue. Jared recently met with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak who then arranged a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, former KGB spy and now head of a Putin controlled Russian bank that is under Obama’s sanctions because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Shortly thereafter, Gorkov said he was hopeful the U.S. constraints on Russian banks ‘would change for the better.’
“And there’s China. Because of publicity, the Kushners cancelled a $4 billion investment deal with Anbang, linked to the Chinese government. Losing $400 million. Maybe because of the tricky original intent of our framers – Article 1 of the Constitution – your emoluments and gifts and the Framers’ concern politicians would sell their souls to foreign governments.
“So can I have my iced latte, now?”
Holli peeked at the armed guard and continued: “One more: What do you know about Michael Flynn?”
“Ah, POTUS’s former National Security Advisor, who lied to the Vice President about his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak. Took money from Russia and worked for Turkey. And talked about kidnapping and illegally shipping a Turkish cleric from Pennsylvania back to Turkey because the government hates him.”
Holli shook her head. “Sorry, but no espresso. You just got a 97 on the FDHSA Scale. You’ve triggered The POTUS Protocol. You’re thinking too much about possible collusion with Russia. There’s potential brain damage. The best I can do for you is some warm milk and honey. No espresso until you forget that Adam Schiff is the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee.”
With a sympathetic pat on my shoulder, Holli said: “Officer Joe Schmidlap from FDHSA will help you to your table. Hopefully you’ll forget as much of this as possible.”
Holli put a blueberry scone on a plate: “It’s on me. I’m sure everyone at Fuel is rooting for you.”
Mickey Friedman’s Berkshire-based I Ching mysteries, “Danger” and “Folly”, as well as his non-fiction “A Red Family” are available on Amazon.com.
“The POTUS Protocol” was originally published in the April 6, 2017 edition of The Berkshire Record.
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