Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Vol. II – Masks, Science, Education, and Old School Hamburger Soup

Political Satire:  Having trouble surviving these times?  You’re not alone.  Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:

Joe Buckstop, an aging, corrupt old fool, somehow becomes president in his basement, and every night, an aide has to bring him his soup and discuss the events of the day as he prepares to receive his nightly meds…

Note: We continue sampling chapters from Volume Two, as Joe Buckstop’s soup aide, young Rhett Snapper, discusses his efforts to sign up for real college classes during the covid shutdowns.

Masks, Science, Education, and Old School Hamburger Soup

Dateline, May 3. Begin Transcript:

“Good evening, sir, are you ready for school?”

“Come on, man! What are you talking about?”

“Soup, sir! The soup this evening is called Old School Hamburger Soup, sir.”

“Why?”

“I wouldn’t know, sir. That’s what the cook called it, sir.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Sure it does, sir. She always tells me the title of the soup from the cookbook she found it in. She’s an honest cook. When she uses somebody else’s recipe and gets a success, sir, she never claims the credit for herself. Always gives credit to the person or company responsible, sir.”

“Oh.”

“Unlike some people I could name, sir.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, never mind, sir. So here it is, sir. Soup, crackers, napkins and spoon, sir. Old School Hamburger Soup, sir.”

“Is it good?”

“I’m sure it is, sir.”

“But you didn’t try it yet?”

“No sir. I was actually running late tonight, sir. Stuck on the phone at my house, sir.”

“Oh.”

“Planning on going back to college in the fall, sir, and trying to get transcripts forwarded, and figure out which classes are real and which classes aren’t, it’s quite a challenge, sir.”

“Oh.”

“How’s your soup, sir?”

“Oh, fine, fine. What’s it called again?”

“Old School Hamburger Soup, sir.”

“Mmm… not bad.”

“I wish I were going to an old school, sir. Instead of the new schools these days. They don’t know what the heck they’re doing, sir.”

“Mmmm. How’s that?”

“Well, sir, ever since they all shut down last year for the China Virus, sir, colleges have been a mess, sir.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, sir, the professors – probably not all of them, I suppose, but tons and tons of them, sir, I know my experience isn’t unusual – have been claiming they ‘don’t know how to teach online’, so they’ve basically gone into a snit and they refuse to even try, sir.”

“Huh? I thought the schools were closed?”

“No, sir… it varies. All over the country, it’s a mess, sir. Some schools reopened normal right away, and they’ve been fine, but most schools – from grammar school through university, sir – most schools have been in this crazy mix of open and closed. Schools will cancel some courses and keep offering others… they’ll have some classes in person, with the students just sitting with an empty chair between them… and they’ll have other classes totally by webinar, sir…. and some don’t even have the webinars, sir, they just email homework assignments. It’s not college at all.”

“Oh.”

“It’s terrible, sir, how so many teachers – from grade school to college – have taken advantage of this virus to just stop working completely. They couldn’t care less about the students. They keep getting paid and don’t do a darned thing, sir.”

“Teachers are the most important people in our society.”

“Oh, come on now, sir, you don’t mean that, do you, sir?”

“Of course I do!”

“Come on, sir, admit it, it’s just us down here, just you and me, sir, tell the truth. Who are REALLY the most important people in society, sir?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re a politician, sir. I know you have to say whoever is under discussion is the most important group in the country, sir. That’s just how politics works, right, sir?”

“Umm…”

“If you’re talking to a crowd of teachers, they’re the most important. If you’re talking to businessmen, they’re the most important. If you’re talking to a construction crew, they’re the most important. You can make it seem believable, you can always make a case for it, sir. I get that, sir…”

“I don’t understand…”

“I know, sir, but that’s not important right now. I’m just curious, sir, taking politics out of it, sir, with no audience to argue to to judge you by your answer, sir…. I’m just wondering, who do you really think is the most important profession in the country, sir?”

“You mean, instead of teachers?”

“I’m not singling out teachers, sir. I just mean, what group do you, personally, appreciate the most, sir? Who do you think is the most important in society, sir? Scientists? Entrepreneurs? Farmers? Surgeons? Journalists? Ministers? Entertainers? Middle managers, sir?”

“Oh, I get it. Who’s the most important group to the country, the group they’d all fall apart without?”

“Yes sir. I’ve asked that question all my life, sir. Always get different answers, sir. What do you think, sir?”

“Oh, well, politicians, of course.”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Well, without us, nobody would know what to do. People wouldn’t know what to charge, what to pay, how to handle things, what’s allowed and what’s not. We make it all possible.”

“I see, sir.”

“Yup, we create the jobs, we build the roads that make it possible for you to go wherever we decide you ought to go… Oh yes. Politicians.”

“Well, sir, that’s a first, sir.”

“Oh?”

“Yes sir. Nobody’s ever told me that politicians were the most important people in society before, sir.”

“Mmm… This is good soup.”

“I’m glad to hear it, sir.”

“Mmm.”

“So, anyway, sir… that’s why I was rushed tonight, sir. I made it to work on time, but I just didn’t have time to kill before I started, sir. Spent an hour on the phone with college, trying to sort out which classes are REALLY going to be classes this fall, and which ones are just going to be these idiotic assignment lists without any instruction, sir. It’s so frustrating.”

“Oh.”

“And the school can’t even really be sure if they’re giving me good answers, because, they probably assume that all the online classes are being done right…. the administration probably doesn’t even know how many of their teachers are phoning it in, sir.”

“Come on, now, teachers are important!”

“Well, sure, sir, some of them are…. some of them are terrific. Why do you think I’m going to college, sir? Why do you think I want to go back in the fall, sir? It’s because I respect an education, sir, it’s because I want to learn, sir.”

“Oh. Okay then.”

“The problem is that tons of these professors and other teachers are taking advantage of everybody’s fears, sir, and they’re shortchanging the students, sir. And I don’t want to go back until I’m certain that all my classes will be real classes, sir.”

“Well, it can be a real class online, can’t it?”

“Of course, sir! My dad and my mom teach classes online. Same as they always have, since before the virus. Real classes, where they give lectures and have slideshows and there’s class participation… there’s no excuse for the school teachers not doing the same, sir. But lots of them don’t, sir.”

“Oh.”

“It’s like that new scandal about the AFT taking over the CDC, sir. People are losing their minds over this one, and honestly sir, I wasn’t even surprised. I’ve come to expect it, sir.”

“Expect what?”

“Haven’t you heard about it, sir?”

“About what?”

“Don’t you read the daily papers, sir?”

“Who has time for that?”

“Oh, I see. Interesting. My dad said that when he was young, President Reagan always read several newspapers every day, sir. He said that the president didn’t think he could do his job without being up to date, sir.”

“Oh, well, we have other ways of getting the news nowadays, you know, kid.”

“It’s Rhett, sir.”

“No, it doesn’t have to be read.”

“What, sir?”

“Doesn’t have to be read.”

“No, sir, I said, Rhett. My name is Rhett.”

“Oh.”

“And there’s so much news now, sir… so much more happening, and being reported now, than ever before, sir…. have to work to keep up, sir, you know?”

“Oh, well, I have briefings.”

“I thought you said you sleep through those, sir?”

“Did I? Well, they wake me up when it’s important.”

“Well, then, sir, did they wake you up for the story about the AFT and the CDC, sir?”

“I don’t remember anything about that…”

“Well, sir, then maybe they don’t try to tell you everything, sir.”

“Oh…”

“The news broke this weekend that the AFT – the American Federation of Teachers – managed to get themselves a veto power on the big announcement of school protocols that the CDC released in February, sir.”

“Come on, man!”

“It’s true, sir. The AFT, sir, the socialist teachers ‘union…”

“Come on, man! Don’t call them that!”

“Okay, sir, The AFT, sir, the communist teachers’ union…”

“Hey now!”

“Okay, how about, The AFT, the marxist teachers’ union… anyway, they managed to get some of the high honchos at the CDC to change their protocols so that school districts could basically postpone restarting real school indefinitely.”

“Come on, man!”

“The AFT managed to smuggle text into the announcement, giving schools a bunch of special loopholes, sir… loopholes that would allow them to reject school starts based on their interpretations of numbers, or rumors of new mutations…”

“Huh? There are mutants? Where are there mutants?”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“You said there were mutants!”

“No, sir, the AFT got the CDC to let THEM say that there were mutants. They got the CDC (among other things) to give the school districts permission to close down, and keep closing down, and to be able to claim that they were doing so in keeping with the CDC guidelines, when in fact the whole point of the clause is to give local teachers’ unions the ability to shut down anytime, and SAY that they’re following the science.”

“Follow the science! Follow the science! Follow the Science…”

“And that’s the point, sir, they haven’t the slightest intention of following the science, sir. They just want to keep shutting down and blaming it on the CDC protocols, even though they wrote the loopholes themselves, sir.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Nothing new there, sir.”

“What’s that?”

“The point is, sir, the teachers’ union managed to manipulate the CDC into giving them carte blanche to shut down their schools, solely on their own call, sir!”

“Well, why not?”

“Because it’s not their call, sir! The teachers aren’t in charge of the communities, sir, they’re not in charge of the schools, sir!”

“Well, who better than the teachers to make these calls?”

“Good heavens, sir! The schools exist for the students. There are a lot more students than there are teachers, sir.”

“Oh.”

“And the parents. The parents should have control over their children’s education, sir.”

“Oh.”

“And the elected school board, sir, they’re the people elected to be in charge of the schools, sir…”

“Oh.”

“And the taxpayers, sir. The taxpayers fund the public schools, after all. As a group, they outrank all the interest groups; they’re sovereign, sir. As voters, the taxpayers both fund and run the school districts, sir.”

“Oh.”

“And then there are all the other groups that wind up having to take their lead from the public schools. Like the private schools, and the local employers, and the park district, and the local buses and day care centers and all the other groups whose hours are effectively, if not formally, set by the public schools.”

“Huh?”

“Well, sure, sir. The public schools have an enormous amount of power to disrupt society if they want to. Just by deciding to reopen or remain closed, they foul up all sorts of aspects of the economy if they want to… or if they just act in a destructive fashion, without thinking of the effects.”

“Oh. I never, umm, never thought about it…”

“There are so many good teachers, so many terrific ones, who the kids want to see again, but they’re banned from it because the union closed their schools. And the great teachers who know how to make webinar instruction just as good as in-person class, they’re terrific, sir… but they don’t get the chance when the schools just shut down, or when the union doesn’t want some teachers showing up the others, so they ban it all.”

“Oh, uh, well… do they DO that?”

“All over the place, sir. District after district, school after school The teachers’ unions have always been a sort of ‘lowest common denominator’ group. Well, now that the union has got a hold of the China Virus, sir, they’re using it like a cudgel, enabling their worst instincts in favor of their least productive members, sir.”

“Oh.”

“I have this one friend, sir. He’s a terrific teacher, sir. Does a great job, sir. In class, in the room. And he’d be great in quarantine too, sir. He’d be able to be just as good on the webinar as he is in person, sir. But the district installed all kinds of stupid cameras and gave all their teachers all these remote controls, so that they have to spend the whole class being more tech directors for their own class than teachers, sir. So even the good teachers are forced to be bad teachers, because somehow the districts and the unions find ways to use the China Virus to mess everything up. Sir.”

“Well, what do you want me to do about it!”

“Well, sir, you could investigate it, to confirm that what I told you is true, sir.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“And then you could fire the CDC fools who agreed to be stooges for the teachers’ union, sir.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“And you could do what Governor DeSantis is doing, and issue an Executive Order that all the mask mandates and vaccine requirements and social distancing things are all hogwash and government can no longer mandate any of this stuff, because the science doesn’t support it and the constitution doesn’t allow it, sir.”

“Are you out of your mind, kid?”

“The name is Rhett, sir.”

“Look, here’s the deal. I am doing what Dr Fauci and Rachel Levine and the Doctor tell me, because I trust the science.”

“Sir, your wife isn’t a doctor.”

“She is too!”

“Sir, she has a PhD in children’s indoctrination, sir. That’s not medical training, sir.”

“It is too! She’s a Doctor!”

“Keep telling yourself that, sir.”

“She’s a Doctor! Gotta wear the mask! Gotta spread the word… gotta help the unions… gotta help the unions… gotta do what the shop steward tells me…. if they jump, i say how high…”

Copyright 2021-2024 John F Di Leo

Excerpted with permission from Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume Two, from Free State West Publishing, available in paperback or eBook exclusively on Amazon.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant.  A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009.  His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes III, and III), are available in either eBook or paperback, only on Amazon.

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