Evening Soup with Basement Joe, April 24, AD 2021

Overheard, in a basement in Delaware,

April 24, AD 2021:

“Good evening, sir, I hope you’re hungry!”

“Oh yes. Always ready for soup. What do we have tonight?”

“Well, sir, I haven’t heard of this one before… Your cook said it’s Creamy Tomato Basil with Shrimp.”

“Sounds good! What’s in it?”

“Well, it would be a tomato soup, uh, with shrimp, sir. That’s all I know, sir.”

“Why don’t you ever know more about the soup?”

“Well, sir, I didn’t make it, remember? I just bring it downstairs.”

“Oh. Right. What’s your name again?”

“Rhett, sir.”

“Oh, right. Well, let me tell you about my management style. I expect my staff to know what’s going on, because I usually don’t.”

“Yes, sir. I wouldn’t dream of arguing with that, sir.”

“Now… let’s see… mmm… yes, this is good. You can tell the cook she did a great job!”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Good soup. I like a good soup.”

“That big summit must’ve been weird, sir, huh?”

“What summit?”

“Umm, the summit, sir? You just spent two days on a summit, sir?”

“I did not, you lying dog-faced pony soldier!”

“But, I don’t understand, I saw you on the summit, sir. It was in the news, sir…”

“Oh, you have be confused with somebody else, son. I was never much of a mountain climber when I was young, you know, and now, well, I’m just too old to climb on the summit of anything. Heck, I probably couldn’t make it up a bunny hill anymore…”

“Oh, I see, sir, you thought, uhh, heh heh… yes, well… I was talking about a meeting with world leaders, sir? You called it a virtual summit on the climate, sir?”

“Oh, right. I saw that on TV. It was interesting.”

“TV? But sir, you were there, sir…”

“Me? No… I haven’t left my basement in a dog’s age. You’re thinking of somebody else.”

“I beg your pardon, sir, but I’m quite sure you were in the summit too, sir.”

“No, see, I was in my basement. I watched it all from my TV here. The IT staff came down and set it up to be sure it would all work right, so I know I was here the whole time. You should look for somebody else. Maybe you’re thinking of one of the Europeans?”

“No, sir, uh, that TV… that’s not just a TV, sir. It’s also a computer monitor, sir.”

“It is?”

“Yes sir. It’s hooked up to your computer, sir. You know how you play Super Mario on it, sir?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s because it’s a monitor that can do different things, depending on what it’s hooked up to. It can be a computer monitor, or a television, or a game screen, sir. Probably has four or five different USB ports and HDMI ports and cable hookups in back, so it can be attached to multiple devices, sir.”

“Those spies… Must be the Russians! I’ll get ’em for this!”

“What? No, sir! No, no, this isn’t spying… the Russians aren’t behind anything, sir. It’s just a monitor, sir. Your IT department set it up so you could do anything on it, sir.”

“Oh?”

“Well, sure, sir… it can be a monitor if you want a big font when you’re writing, or it can display videos, or play games… and so of course you can use it when you have your meetings on Zoom or Teams or WebEx or whatever, sir.”

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

“Oh, very likely sir.”

“What’s that?”

“Oh, very handy, isn’t it, sir?”

“I guess so, at that.”

“Do you remember what the summit was about, sir?”

“Climate. All about the climate.”

“Do you think it went well, sir?”

“Bout as well is it can, not being in person.”

“I was wondering about that, sir. These things usually have great meals, don’t they? Big state dinners at the beginning and end, big cocktail parties with casual conversation, sir?”

“Yup. I remember those from the Obama years. Yup. A lot of great parties. Lots of food. Especially when other countries hosted.”

“Oh? Not so much when we hosted them here, sir?”

“Well, you know. Not supposed to talk about it, but. yeah.”

“Oh? Why were our dinners bad, sir?”

“Michelle hates flavor. She always insisted that the food taste terrible.”

“Why, sir?”

“Beats me. Michelle said it was her quest for healthy eating, but I never did understand how making food so bad that nobody could stand it was any solution for anything. For four years, they say, more school cafeteria food ended up in the garbage than in kids’ stomachs.”

“Oh yeah. I was in high school during part of that, sir. It was like they had the school landscapers collect the grass clippings and they sauteed them all for four years, sir.”

“Reversing Michelle’s food rules might be the only Trump policy that I never undo.”

“Wise move, sir. And I won’t say that often, sir.”

“Eh? What’s that?”

“Well, sir, it’s like my dad said at the time: ‘the way to get people to eat better is to make nutritious food taste more appealing, not to make all food taste awful,’ sir.”

“Speaking of which… do you think there might be some more of this soup, upstairs, son?”

“Oh, yes, sir, I’m sure there is. But you’re nowhere near done, sir.”

“Right, when I am, I’ll have seconds though.”

“Certainly sir. So how did the summit go, sir? Without the one-on-one chats of a state dinner or cocktail party, were you able to actually do any negotiating, sir?”

“Oh, we had one-on-ones.”

“With the world watching on their computers, sir?”

“Oh, some of it’s secret. They have these breakdown meetings…”

“Breakdown, sir?”

“Yeah.”

“Aren’t breakdowns when a person loses his mind, like a middle-aged person’s nervous breakdown, sir? Or a car or other equipment having a sudden failure of the motor or engine, like a car breakdown, sir?”

“Oh. Yeah. No. Wait, Yeah. Hmmm…. no…”

“Did you maybe mean breakout meetings, sir? Where a couple of attendees meet in a separate room, sir?”

“Oh. Yeah, that must be it. In these meetings, it’s just you and the people you want, and of course your aides… the aides do most of the negotiating anyway… I just nod and smile while the aides work things out… then we rejoin the big meeting and we can shake on it…”

“Virtually, sir?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, virtually… and then we have our agreements.”

“Are these all public points, public concessions, public agreements, sir?”

“Oh, no, of course not. Some of it’s sensitive. I mean, I’m not involved in the details, you know, the aides handle all that, of course…”

“Oh, of course, sir.”

“But the big agreement is public. It’s just what we did to get there that might not be. That’s why we have the breakdown…. I mean, breakout… sessions, you know.”

“So you’re saying, sir, that in order to get a country to commit to one thing publicly, you both might wind up agreeing to a bunch of other things privately, sir?”

“Right, exactly. That’s how it works. Quid Pro Quo.”

“That how you got your nickname, sir?”

“What nickname?”

“Oh, never mind, sir, I must’ve been mistaken… anyway, sir.. are these side agreements things you wouldn’t want the public to know about, sir?”

“Oh, sometimes, Certainly wouldn’t want the other countries on the call to know. Or the other countries who AREN’T on the call, heh heh…”

“Hmmm… sir? Umm, how safe are these meetings, sir?”

“What do you mean? We’re in our own offices, in our own countries. It’s as safe as you can get! Can’t catch a virus from somebody 5000 miles away, on the other side of a computer!”

“Well, yes, sir, I understand that, sir… which sort of begs the question of why on earth anybody would wear a mask on such a call, sir…. but I wasn’t referring to that, sir. I meant, sir, how secure are they? Did your IT staff reassure you that it couldn’t be hacked, sir?”

“It’s a public meeting! Who care’s if it’s hacked! We put it on youtube! We shared it with the media!”

“I don’t mean that, sir. I was referring to the private parts, sir. The breakout sessions, sir. The parts where it was just you and the other leader…”

“And our staffs!”

“Yes, sir, and your staffs… making sensitive agreements that you might not want anyone else to know about, sir?”

“Huh?”

“Well, sir, I was just thinking, sir… did your IT department know that the breakout sessions were going to be about sensitive issues, promises, and other deals, sir? Or did your IT department think the whole thing was a public meeting where security wasn’t a big deal, sir?”

“Uhh… I don’t, uh, I don’t know…”

“Because if they didn’t put complicated security on your breakout meetings, sir, then all those private meetings probably had a lot more eyes and ears on them than you guys expected.”

“Come on, man!”

“I’m just saying, sir, that if you folks are all used to real summits where you can whisper to each other in a guarded room that’s been swept for bugs, you might have been tempted to talk in an unguarded manner, sir, you know?”

“Oh… oh boy…”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to upset you, sir. I’m sure it doesn’t matter anyway, sir.”

“Oh? It doesn’t? Why not?”

“Because it wouldn’t have mattered what your IT group did, sir. I just remembered, this was a Zoom meeting, right?”

“Yes indeed. Zoom. Uh, I think…”

“Well, then that settles it, sir. It wouldn’t matter what I.T. attempted, sir.”

“Why not?

“Because Zoom is Chinese software, sir. As soon as you discussed anything at all, sir, in any branch of the summit, the politburo over in Beijing certainly heard, and translated, every word.”

“Oh boy.”

“But I’m sure you wouldn’t have discussed anything sensitive for China, right? You wouldn’t have talked about the South China Sea, or their takeover of Hong Kong, or the Taiwan question, or the Uighers, sir…. None of those side agreements would’ve had anything to do with the China threat, would they?”

“Oh, um, well, uhh..”

“I’m sure your I.T. department would’ve been savvy enough to warn everyone before the call, all the aides, all the secretaries, all the translators, whatever… right? Like my dad says, ‘speak no secrets on an open line, and remember, there’s really no such thing as a really secure line.'”

“Oh boy. Umm, uhh, I think Are you sure that Zoom is a Chinese company?”

“Zoom is a Chinese-company. It’s their software, their IP, their control, their servers. Wherever you’re doing whatever you’re doing, sir, China knows, sir.”

“Well, uhh, they couldn’t act on all that sort of thing… not quickly, anyway…”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, sir. Beijing has a lot of people to just sit around and listen in on conversations.”

“Oh boy.”

“And over 70 years of practice doing it, sir.”

…end of transmission…

copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

Permission is hereby granted to forward on social media, as long as it is uncut and this byline and copyright section is included.

2 thoughts on “Evening Soup with Basement Joe, April 24, AD 2021

  1. I gotta ask this, John…. Goes Basement Joe wear his mask during this exchange between these two?.. I mean, he did wear it for the duration of the Zoom Meeting and his Photo Op stroll through Arlington Cemetery ( much to the embarrassment of our nation’s citizens that can think for themselves ).

    Thanks for a great share!

    • Thank you, Bobby!

      My presumption is that, No, Joe does not wear a mask for these conversations because there’s no camera there.

      Cheers,
      JFD

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