Jay, Bill, and I traveled and worked during the holiday season and in January to make our many assigned deliveries. Peter completed his trips by early January and filled me in via phone. About six weeks later, the delivery phase of harmless finished with a meeting and discussion – at a new coffee shop near Bill’s home – in the Avenues. It was an unusually warm early spring day, so we sat outside, away from the other patrons. The Salt Lake Valley had had another terrible winter inversion season. We were pleased that today the air was clean and relatively warm.
“I’m very happy to be here,” Jay said. “There were times I thought they’d get me.”
“Me, too,” Bill agreed. “Some of those local Congressional office staffers are scary. It was hard to fake it without really taking them on.”
“You can thank the Kochs and their libertarian study fellowships and professorships for providing such well trained staffers,” I smiled.
“Brain-washed staffers,” Bill corrected.
“Reminds me of a quote in Dark Money,” I said. “Back in 2009, Mayer writes, Charles Koch gave nearly $150,000 to Brown University’s Political Theory Project – a freshman seminar taught by a John Tomasi. She quotes Tomasi:
After a whole semester of Hayek, it’s hard to shake them off that perspective over the next four years.”
“Very effective brain-washing,” Bill added.
“I’m ready to take some notes – I need to hear your stories – for the book, of course. But for now, just a brief overview – brief summary.”
“Before they catch us, you mean, right?” Jay asked.
“I think we’re ok now. The riskiest time was during the delivery of Ananda’s potion. If they didn’t get us then, it’s unlikely they’ll get us now.”
“That’s not how I understand the statutes of limitations,” Jay said.
“By the way, Lucien tells me the traffic to anandaschocolates.com rose quickly as we hit the road and has continued to climb slowly.”
“I’ll bet they’re disappointed they can’t order some,” Bill said.
“So am I,” I said. “I wish we could continue to produce and give away our unique moksha.”
“Let’s do the numbers,” Jay said.
“Let’s hear about all of it …. this may take some time.”
We each reported on our state assignments, starting with Bill and California:
California – Bill: Issa, McCarthy + Valadeo, Rohrabacher, Walters, Justice Kennedy (Bill) + Justice Scalia (Joe)
“I managed to get to their local offices,” Bill reported. “The staffers were all interested. It was good I had plenty of samples for them to smell and taste. The scenario was similar to our rehearsal scenario on Rodgers in Walla Walla.”
“Was there much security at Kennedy’s California State Bar award gig at the Anaheim Marriott?”
“Yes and no. I managed to befriend one of his clerks. I was outside the ballroom but could see Kennedy’s table up by the main podium. When this guy exited for the bathroom, I followed him in.”
“That was lucky – then what?”
“Easy. We were standing at adjacent urinals, I looked over and asked aren’t you part of Justice Kennedy’s group? He answered in the affirmative. So, after washing hands, I asked, does the Justice like chocolate? He responded, ‘how did you know? He’s always raiding Justice Roberts’ chocolate dish back at the Supreme Court Building’. From then on it was an easy sell.”
“It may have worked,” Jay said. “The Court’s last two decisions, related to promotional energy pricing and juveniles in prison, were reasonable, thanks in part to Kennedy’s vote. The prison decision suggests some enhanced empathy.”
“My experience with Scalia in Santa Clara wasn’t as smooth,” I reported. “I hung around towards the end of the Constitution Law class he was addressing, so I could see him and study his mannerisms, body language.”
“I hope his body language wasn’t as obnoxious as his oral language has been,” Jay smiled.
I continued: “I then followed the group over to the Recital Hall and got in, using my U ID and saying I was a visiting faculty member. Fortunately, the talk was not standing room only. I actually got to ask a brief question, which he summarily dismissed, as expected.”
“What did you ask him?” Bill asked.
“Is there anything about today’s world that might cause the Founding Fathers to reconsider anything they wrote into the Constitution?”
“Cool,” Jay said. “And?”
“He sort of shrugged, saying something like ‘I don’t have time to deal with fictions and speculation’. That was it. But I did get his attention. I did get close to him after the session, thanked him for responding to my question, and handed him two chocolates, saying he and his wife might enjoy this California treat.”
“No handlers or clerks took them away?”
“No, the security was modest. He actually slipped them into his coat pocket, and looked away.”
“Well, he’s had no new revelations in the last several months,” Bill said. “Maybe he gave them to his kids.”
“He did have a major ‘revelation’ a few days ago, as we all know. He died at a ranch retreat in Texas. He was laid to rest recently – and now there’s a big battle brewing because the Republicans in the Senate are refusing to even allow Obama to make a nomination – let alone even consider such a nomination.”
“As if the GOP didn’t have enough trouble with Trump, now they’re defining themselves as irresponsible and derelict by not doing the jobs assigned to them in the Constitution,” Jay said.
“The GOP is basically imploding – and we can’t take credit for that,” I said.
“I doubt Ananda had anything to do with Scalia’s demise,” Bill said.
“If it had, they would have discovered our wrapping and package insert near him.”
Colorado – Joe: Gardner + Bennett, Coffman
“Colorado was easy. I got to the three offices, telling the staffers what we rehearsed, and making specific reference to each of the Congress people – nothing unusual. They all got chocolates.”
Florida – Joe: Rubio, Bush, Koch + Curbello, Ros-Lehtinen
“Curbello and Ros-Lehtinen were also easy – no issues or problems. I decided not to get up to West Palm Beach, as we had already accessed Bill and David Koch in Centennial Valley.”
“How’d you get to the Rubio and Bush people?” Jay asked.
“Interesting. I got to Bush just weeks before he dropped out. The office was quite big. I noticed the cars outside and in the lot and realized there would be lots of staff inside. Upon entering the outer office area, I selected a Latina at an information table. Her nametag said Adriana. I said, ‘Hello. I’m very interested in Mr. Bush’, pausing and looking at her: ‘is it true his wife is a Latina?’
“Cool,” Jay said.
“She lit right up. ‘Yes, she said, ‘Her name is Columba – she’s from Guadalajara. She’s a great lady.’ Then I asked, ‘did they meet in Mexico, because I understand Mr. Bush speaks Spanish’. ‘Yes, yes!’ she said. ‘They were just teen-agers – it’s a great story’.”
“You are good,” Bill smiled. “Go on…”
“By then two other staff had gathered round. I asked if they knew Columba. They all responded, saying she comes to the office now and then, and that Columba’s been at several staff meetings and food gatherings. Then I pulled out enough chocolates for the three of them and two more for Jeb and Columba. ‘I make chocolates’, I said, adding I want to get some bumper stickers and lawn signs, gesturing towards another table, ‘Take these for yourselves, and give these to Columba and Mr. Bush. And tell them they’re for adults only!’ I winked.
‘Gracias,’ the first one said. Another said ‘Columba’s coming tomorrow night to meet with Latinas in West Miami. I’ll be there.’ ‘Gracias,’ I said – and went over to the other table to get the lawn signs.”
“I used a similar approach,” Bill said. “You focus on one staffer, get her eye, give her some real attention.”
“You know, since he dropped out, I bet she’s become the happiest Latina in Florida!”
“I’m sure of that,” Bill said. “Those YouTube videos of her leading Governor’s Mansion tours were very sad – she was so bored.”
“And Rubio’s office?” Jay asked.
“Similar, but very different. I got there just before the Iowa caucus, so most staff were in Iowa. Rubio’s office and staff seemed smaller than Bush’s.”
“Maybe because they were working Iowa, which may be why Rubio did so much better in Iowa – it was basically a three way tie with Cruz and Trump.”
“But otherwise, the strategy and approach was similar. I spotted a young Latina, Paolita, wearing a Crucifix at a table with pictures of Rubio and Pope Francis.”
“Clearly she wasn’t needed in lily-white Iowa!” Jay chuckled.
“I walked up and picked up a flyer related to Rubio’s Cuban and Catholic connections and said ‘Hello,’ while looking at a picture of Rubio and Pope Francis. ‘Did Mr. Rubio meet the Pope when he was in Washington, D.C.?’ I asked. She beamed. ‘Yes, he met Papa Francis. Here’s another picture,’ she said, reaching below the table. That one showed Pope Francis drinking something with a group of Congressmen, not including Rubio.”
“I don’t think Rubio was even there when the Pope was in town,” Jay said.
“No, he stayed away,” I recalled. Rubio explained that
… on moral issues, he speaks with incredible authority. He’s done so consistently on the value of life, on the sanctity of life, on the importance of marriage and on the family. [But] On economic issues, the Pope is a person.
“Rubio refuses to accept that climate problems are indeed a moral issue,” Bill added. “We, America, are most responsible for global climate change, but it’s the world’s poorest who are suffering – going to suffer – the most. If the Pope is indeed ‘infallible’ on moral issues, then we must do something about climate change. It’s the moral thing to do.”
“There were several events,” Jay added. “I know some of the other GOP Catholics also stayed away from his talk to Congress, for political reasons.”
“Well, she was convinced they’d met and interacted. So I continued, ‘Do you think the Pope likes chocolate?’ Now she really beamed. ‘I’m from Ecuador,’ she said. ‘We make the best chocolate in the world.’ ‘I make chocolates,’ I said, ‘and sometimes use dark chocolate from Ecuador’. I pulled out several chocolates. She noticed the name right away. ‘My name is Paolita,’ she said, adding ‘Ananda is not a common name.’ ‘And Ananda’s is not a common chocolate,’ I said. ‘It’s very special. Try one,’ I said, handing one to her. She didn’t open it, but did take it and smelled it. She didn’t look very Latina to me, but now knowing she’s from Ecuador, I tried the Latina line of conversation: ‘Isn’t Mr. Rubio’s wife from Colombia?’ I asked. She smiled. ‘No, not really. She was born in Miami. But her parents are both from Colombia, so we say she’s a Colombiana – a Latina.’ ‘Have you met her?’ I asked. ‘Sure – she often interacts with us, and helps out. She’s very friendly. She really is a Latina.’ ‘Maybe you could give her my chocolates,’ I said. ‘Her daughter – the oldest one – her name is Amanda,’ she said’. ‘Here, take three, one for Amanda, one for Mrs. Rubio, and one for Mr. Rubio.’ She took them, saying ‘OK, I should see Mrs. Rubio in a few weeks. We are having a holiday party for the office then.’ Then I added, ‘maybe you should have a summary of Pope Francis’ Laudato si encyclical on the table’. She smiled. ‘That’s a good idea’, she said.”
“I wonder what the response was to her encyclical summary suggestion,” Jay said.
“Maybe not entirely negative,” Bill added. “Rubio’s been getting input – and even some heat – from South Florida mayors on the region’s rising water issues – on climate change. Maybe he’s actually looking for a revelation excuse.”
“I just learned, via a Times article, of course, that ‘…climate change is included in Florida’s education standards’ and that some teachers include it in their teaching even though they often get some pushback,” I reported.
“Maybe Marco needs to go back to high school,” Jay suggested.
“Now who’s the optimist?” I smiled.
“I understand Rubio’s not running for his Senate seat?” Jay asked.
“Yes. I actually asked for a Rubio for Senate button from one staffer,” I said. “In case he doesn’t become President. I was promptly told he’s focusing all his energy on becoming President.”
“He’s made it clear earlier that he doesn’t like being in the Senate – that he wants to be in charge,” Jay said.
Idaho – Peter: Labrador + Simpson, Risch, Crapo
Peter had reported earlier on the experience he and Saul had in Idaho. They had similar experiences as Bill and I, except for Labrador’s office. Peter noted that the office was somewhat strange. It wasn’t as open, as inviting, as the other offices. There were several obvious security cameras, which Peter said they had noticed when casing the office just before they actually went in. So they actually disguised themselves a bit before approaching and entering. They each wore a ‘No New Taxes’ button they had obtained earlier when visiting Crapo’s office.
“That was clever – and resourceful,” Jay said. “If we ever do this again, we should have a supply of such buttons and pins to enhance our credibility.”
“I doubt we’ll be doing it again,” I said. “We don’t want to push our luck.”
Peter said the staffer he talked with didn’t know if Labrador liked chocolate. Saul said he was pretty sure that all Mormons liked chocolate. Saul mentioned his Mormon relatives in Salt Lake City as examples. ‘Chocolates and Jello,’ he said. Peter told me that was more effective than chocolates and wine – he’d save that line for Washington state. They finally got the young staffer to admit that he liked chocolate – and accepted one to taste. Then he took two Ananda’s for Mr. and Mrs. Labrador. Peter and Saul said they didn’t like the ‘feel’ of the office and were happy to leave.
“Labrador looks like a sweet, round-faced, young politician – like a younger version of Scalia,” Jay said.
“But he acts, like Scalia did, more like an unreasonable bull dog,” Bill added.
Iowa – Bill: Ernst + Grassley, Young, King
“I waited to go to Iowa till after their caucus,” Bill said. “I learned that it was a ‘Grassley state’, meaning he’s very popular throughout the state.”
“I read that he visits all 99 counties every year,” I added. “And during the runup to the caucus, he helped host and introduce nearly every GOP candidate running in Iowa.”
“It was easy to get to the four offices,” Bill reported. “At each one I expressed my admiration for Grassley, and wore one of his 2016 reelection buttons. That was popular, especially at Grassley’s office. I was there before the Grassley-McConnell problem with the upcoming Supreme Court nomination.”
“At Ernst’s office I talked with the staffer about Joni and her positions. The staffer was a near chocoholic and immediately accepted the chocolate I handed her. She promised to give two each to Mrs. and Mr. Ernst. I felt a double dose can’t possibly hurt.”
“Did you know there’s a National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Iowa?” I asked. “Grassley introduced one of the GOP presidential candidates there just before the caucus. I sent the story on to my Czech friends.”
Bill continued: “King’s lone office staffer refused the chocolates, so I sent a followup mailing directly to King, with a return address within his district.”
“Did you see Egan’s column on Iowa?” Jay asked. “No wonder they need so much help. Iowa is almost all white, old and over half evangelical – and women are usually way in the background. Joni’s an exception.”
“But if she wasn’t white and evangelical, she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in Iowa,” Jay said.
“Probably not. Egan went on to write:
... these demographics … produce candidates who deny that climate change even exists, who favor total bans on legal abortion, who are opposed to the most commonsensical reforms in gun laws, and who would require a religious test for entry into the country.”
“Thanks, god, for harmless,” Jay smiled.
Kansas – Bill: Koch, Charles + Pompeo, Roberts, Moran
“What is the matter with Kansas?” Bill asked. “I know that’s the title of a book, but now I understand why.”
“Did you get to Charles Koch,” I asked.
“Sort of. I didn’t try to get to his home. I had read about a little protest in 2010 – several California students tried to get a letter to Charles by going to the Koch Industries building. Apparently the strip of lawn adjacent to the road is public property – the first 18 feet of lawn adjacent to the curb – so the security folks couldn’t demand the kids get off the property.”
“Good homework. And?”
“In 2010 Koch knew the kids were coming, so security personnel blocked the building’s entrances and cars tailed the kids as they came to and then left the area – no big surprise given everything we know about Kochs and security. They didn’t know I was coming, so I got in to the main reception area. I played the same game we did with the Rodgers scenario and that we’d been using with most of the Congressmen – we want to thank him for all he’s done for freedom, liberty, democracy.”
“And to look a bit more credible, and to boost my own confidence, I wore a large Rand Paul for President button.”
“Given how bad he’s been doing, that didn’t appear very controversial,” Jay said. “Did it?”
“No – and this was before Paul dropped out of the race. The receptionist who looked at it just smiled. I did manage to get to the Executive offices, but not any further, of course. I gave the lady in the Executive Offices reception area my spiel and asked her to get the gifts to Charles and Elizabeth. I assured her this was non-political, that I’d read his two books, and that Diana and I had driven through one of the firm’s ranches in Montana. I even showed her a photo of Centennial Valley and the Centennial Mountains. She was surprised to learn Koch Industries had a ranch in Montana. I did give her one of our staff chocolates, which she seemed pleased to accept.”
“No, that was it. No obvious cameras, no alarms or sirens. I did pick up a copy of the Koch Industries’ Newsletter on my way out, and then headed for the Congressional offices in town.”
“What was Pompeo’s place like? I’m curious because he was such a jerk during Gowdy’s Benghazi witch hunt on Hillary.”
“Lots of pictures of Pompeo, some with Gowdy, and one of Pompeo with Hillary in the background. I told the staffer I wanted to thank Pompeo for his work on the Benghazi Committee – and also that I had been over to Koch Industries. That impressed her. I told her I was from Portland, and I make chocolates, handing her one. She accepted. Try it, I said – and she did, smiling – and continued to smile. I have two for the Congressman and Mrs. Pompeo, I said. Could you see that he gets them? She accepted, assured me she’d put them and the card in his mailbox. The Two senatorial district offices – Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran – also went smoothly. The key, I’ve found, is connecting directly with one of the staff.”
Kentucky – Jay: McConnell, Paul + Guthrie
“Kentucky’s an interesting place,” Jay said. “It’s hard to believe Al Gore is from there.”
“McConnell has made a mess of the place,” Bill added. “He hasn’t done anything to move them forward – to get beyond constantly looking backwards and blaming Obama and environmentalists for Kentucky’s largely self-imposed problems.”
“Well, I did get to him – or rather to his Bowling Green office – as well as to Paul and Guthrie.”
“Go on,” I said.
“I got to Bowling Green just days after Paul dropped our of the presidential competition – pleasant city. The three offices were quite small. McConnell’s was the most well established, not surprising given his very long tenure in the Senate. There were only two people in McConnell’s office. I talked with an older lady, whose desk had a large picture of McConnell and his wife nearby. I asked her if she knew Mrs. McConnell. That was almost a mistake!”
“Interesting, how so?” Bill asked.
“She actually made a face, then corrected it. Noticing, I innocently asked ‘Does she ever come by and help out – or visit?”
“She said that Elaine Chao McConnell rarely comes to Bowling Green, but that she helped a lot with his reelection campaign. I didn’t sense any great interest or connection, so immediately moved on to chocolates.”
“Did she respond to chocolate?”
“A little. She offered me some chocolate chip cookies from a nearby table – for staff and visitors, she explained. She was curious about Ananda’s and did volunteer that Mitch likes chocolate chip cookies – and she’d put the chocolates in his mailbox with a note – and tell his chief aide.”
“OK, and the others?” I asked.
“Paul’s office was more interesting. The sole staffer there was much younger and seemed more committed and connected. There was also a cute photo of Paul with his family, with the youngest holding a soccer ball. Mrs. Paul is quite an asset.”
“And?” Bill asked.
“The staffer responded to the chocolates, said she’d pass them on with a note, and thanked me for coming by. I was wearing a Paul for President button, which may have helped. She said, with a sad look, ‘You know, he’s dropped out of the race for President.’ I said I knew, but I liked him and the button. She pointed to a clipping on her desk, the recent USA Today piece by Carroll on The rise and fall of Rand Paul’s Candidacy, noting Time calls him ‘the most interesting man in politics’. I think so, too, I told her.”
“I continued on to Guthrie’s office, which was a simple affair. I engaged the staffer in a brief discussion about coal and Kentucky’s future. He had an older brother who was a miner and was actually pleased to be laid off. I told him about Obama’s new initiative to help fund local actions to develop cleaner energy. He then said his brother was taking a course to become a solar system installer. He gladly took a chocolate for himself and his brother as well as the two larger ones for Mr. and Mrs. Guthrie.”
Montana – Joe, Bill Kochs + Tester, Daines, Zinke
“I focused on the Congress folks. Joe handled Bill and David Koch and the Oxbridge school,” Bill reported.
“After sending written invitations to Tester, Daines, and Zinke, I visited their local offices in Helena; Daines and Tester also have a Bozeman office, so I stopped there on my way to Helena. I had previously set up appointments with the key staffers, emphasizing the significance of the T-N Center, Beaverhead Ranch, and the Kochs. They were all very interested. They all got chocolates, of course, including some for their respective Congress bosses. Their bosses all made an appearance at the T-N Center, though not all at the same time. I served as their host and introduced each one to the key people present.”
“And they’re fairly reasonable folks, aren’t they?” Jay asked.
“Yes. They are all quite conservative, even Tester – who’s a Democrat,” Bill replied. “And perhaps they’re now more environmentally aware after the T-N experience.”
“And they all had more chocolates at T-N?” Jay asked.
We went on to discuss Bill and David Koch and their families.
“The first contact was via the Oxbridge Academy Director and science teacher. They facilitated the introduction and connection to Brittany, and then to Bill. It took a lot of followup and gentle arm-twisting, but it worked. They agreed to bring their family – Bill, Jr., daughter Robin, and their youngest Kaitlin, or KK. I asked Bill to contact David regarding the event. He did; David agreed to come with Julia and two of their three kids. Horseback riding in the area was a key draw. The people managing Beaverhead Ranch were also in the loop, as well as the great folks at the T-N Center.”
“That was quite a communication and organizational exercise,” Jay said.
“Oh, that’s just the tip of the communication and logistics iceberg,” I smiled. “Bill and family arrived via private jet to West Yellowstone and then on to Lakeview via an SUV limo. David and family for some reason came the other way, via jet into Idaho Falls and then North by car to Lakeview. I think David’s pilot was a bit wary of West Yellowstone. David did have a near death aircraft experience in Los Angeles many years ago.”
“And the Montana Congressmen made their own way to Lakeview, with their staff’s help,” Bill added.
“And then it was largely up to the T-N staff, and the Beaverhead Ranch folks. They had put together a program, including activities for all on horseback, in the refuge and on the ranch, John Taft jeep rides and tours, discussions by the fire, and a brief ceremony by Bill and David honoring their tough father, Fred. The kids were shown pictures of their grandparents and missing uncles. And, of course, we had a good discussion of Ishmael.”
“And lots of chocolates?” Jay asked.
“Chocolates of one kind for the adults, and very similar looking but very different chocolates for the kids,” Bill smiled.
“And no Charles?” Jay asked.
“No Charles. David did talk with him about the event. I think he said something like, ‘maybe next year’. I was so pleased – and surprised – that David and his family came.”
New York City – Joe: Koch, David and Justice John Roberts
“I didn’t try to get to David Koch; we had considered trying to get our local U ballet friends to help via the American Ballet Company connection with him and Julia. But it would have meant another expensive trip and probably couldn’t be carried out. Since we got to him via the T-N Center gig, I felt that was sufficient.”
“I found only one John Roberts gig, although I’m sure there must have been others. He spoke at the NY Historical Society about Justice Charles Evan Hughes, a New Yorker who made it to the Supreme Court – twice – and ran for President. Interesting guy.”
“But you did get in?” Jay asked.
“Yes – it was at the NYU Law School, on Washington Square South. I used my U faculty credentials and mentioned several U Law School friends. They had called earlier to get my name on a visiting guest list. It worked.”
“Security was actually minimal,” I continued. “Again, no cell phones; this time no computers – I was able to leave my backpack with a lady at the sign in desk. My artificial hip again set off the screening machine, but the card from my doc took care of that. No frisking and no chocolate bulges.”
“Were you able to talk to Roberts?”
“Yes, surprisingly. He is really a charming guy. I gently pushed my way up to him just before he was introduced, mentioned I was from Utah, and had read several books on the Roberts Court. He interjected, ‘I hope you read the better ones’. I quickly noted that I understand he likes chocolate, while offering him one of my favorites. He actually took it but passed it immediately to a clerk or aide at his side.”
“And you chased down the aide later?”
“Of course. He was helpful. I began with sharing a quote by Charles Evan Hughes:
War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.
He was unaware of it, which helped with some very brief conversation. I then explained a bit more about Ananda’s, saying I thought the Chief Justice would appreciate it, and gave him several more. He said he’d put them in the chocolate bowl in his office.”
“Perfect!” Bill said. “Let’s hope he doesn’t take two at nearly the same time.”
“I made it clear to the aide that one is sufficient – and pointed out the insert with more information.”
“Well, it apparently didn’t help in the Court’s recent ruling on the Obama coal requirements – a recent 5-4 decision.”
“Maybe he hadn’t eaten it yet!” Jay smiled.
“That was Scalia’s last Supreme Court vote – without him it might have been 4 – 4.”
Oklahoma – Jay: Inhofe + Lankford, Russell, Lucas
“This was an efficient assignment – travelwise,” Jay said. “One trip to Oklahoma City got me Inhofe and Lankford, the very junior Senator, as well as three of the five Congresspeople – Lucas, Cole, and Russell.”
“What were their offices like?”
“Interesting. Inhofe actually had some model airplanes hanging in the waiting area. He really is a very avid pilot. He wasn’t there, of course, but I struck up a conversation with an elderly receptionist. On the wall behind her was a framed photo of Inhofe aside one of his planes.”
“Not the one he landed on the wrong runway in Texas?”
“I don’t know. This one looked legally parked and secured. I asked her if she’d ever flown with him … ‘No, no,’ she said. ‘The staff are afraid to fly with him. In fact, he’s flying less and less now. Age is getting to him’.”
“I told her to thank him for his work, that I’d always wanted to learn to fly and was envious of his flying experience and skills, and suggested she give him these chocolates as a constituent thank you gift.”
“We talked a bit about the falling price of oil, its impact on the Oklahoma state budget, and even the recent severe weather events. I tried to educate her a bit on CO2 and climate change. She understood. There was no push back.”
“What a piece of work!” Jay continued. “There were pictures of him with his bible camp subjects, reading from a bible and a pulpit, and brandishing a shotgun while bird hunting. Although this was his Senate office, I did see Lankford in 2016 materials, including a pin shaped like an open bible.”
“And the staffer?”
“Looked like a Mormon missionary – white shirt, name tag, dark pants, bible literally in hand, with that vacuous look that Homer Simpson often has. But he did take the chocolates and assured me he’d pass them on to The Senator.”
“By the way,” I said, “Lankford did say recently he’s ‘unlikely’ to support Trump, according to the Times – hinting that good evangelicals can’t endorse Trump. And the Representatives?”
“The three different offices were in and near Oklahoma City – in their respective well-gerrymandered districts. They were all small, just one staffer, in mall-like environments. The staffers were responsive, after a bit of conversation. They seemed pleased to have someone to talk with. I gave them each personal samples. Oklahoma needs lots of chocolate!”
South Carolina – Joe: Gowdy + Peter, Graham
“My turn to report on Greenville, a nice Southern town,” I said. “I’d talked earlier with Bob Inglis to get some tips and insight – and he gave me his old campaign button for fun, which I didn’t wear.”
“Were Bailiff, Judge, or Jury helping out in Gowdy’s office?” Jay smiled.
“Nope, his dogs were nowhere in sight. There were two staffers – an older lady and a younger man – wearing a Cruz button. He came in after I was talking with the lady. I asked her about Bob Inglis. She perked up, said he was a wonderful man, that she’d worked with him during that last term and during his campaign. Her body language suggested that Trey Gowdy was not nearly as interesting or warm. Then the younger guy appeared and she went quiet.”
“You think he wears the Cruz button if Gowdy is in town?”
“Maybe. Gowdy did introduce Cruz at a Greenville event earlier in the campaign, but he does seem to be leaning towards Rubio now.”
“The young guy was very receptive to the chocolates. I gave a taster piece to each of them. He said he’d put the others in the mailbox for Gowdy. I did advise him that chocolates are very bad for dogs. He knew that, he said.”
“I was surprised to see a Tea Party poster with a Confederate Flag on the wall.”
“I thought South Carolina was now over the Confederacy, apparently not….And the others?”
“Ditto for Peter and Graham – conversation and taste chocolates for the staffers, Ananda’s for the Congressmen. No problem.”
Texas – Jay: Cruz, Smith + Cornyn, McCaul, Flores, Bills, Carter, Hurd
John Cornyn is reported to be the number 2 Senate Republican; he’s a main author of the criminal justice legislation. He is reported to have said, in an interview, that his job was to educate Republicans…that it could help Republicans by broadening their appeal to independents, Democrats and minorities who believe that the criminal justice system is unfairly tilted. Cornyn said:
It doesn’t hurt to show that you actually care … This is a statement that is not just symbolic, but actually shows that you care about people. It doesn’t hurt to show some empathy.
“Conservative Cornyn talks empathy, that’s interesting,” Bill said. Looking at Jay, he added, “You must have gotten to him.”
“I recall his Austin office, and a dedicated young staffer smelling our chocolate offering. That’s all I really know.”
“We’ll give you – and Cornyn – the benefit of the doubt,” I smiled.
“I flew in to Austin. I had planned to also get to San Antonio, but realized I’d only lose Hurd by not taking a day to do San Antonio, so I focused my time and efforts on Austin.”
“The San Antonio guy I missed is Will Hurd, District 23. He’s almost a conservative Democrat, on the far left of GOP plot with very low leadership score. Since Cornyn is the well respected senior senator, I started most of the staff conversations with him, and with his quote ‘…it doesn’t hurt to show some empathy’. The Smith staffer I talked with was also a fan of Cornyn.”
“Smith’s district covers the wealthier sections of Austin and San Antonio,” I said. “Did you see anything interesting?”
“Not really, just pictures of him with his first wife, who died, and their two kids, who are now about 37 and 40. I think one’s a lawyer, the other may be an architect – not much info on line.”
“Grandkids?” I asked.
“Don’t know. They don’t seem to be society types. The staffer was quite interested in the chocolates …”
“…they all are,” Bill added.
“…so I gave her several extras. She did say she’d get them to the Congressman. Oh, I did see some award from an NRA-like group, the CCRKBA – he’s definitely an ardent gun supporter.”
Utah – Joe: Lee, Chaffetz + Bishop, Stewart, Love, Hatch, Justice Thomas
“I did get to the BLM Committee meeting in St. George, which Stewart organized with Bishop. Chaffetz was also there. Mia Love didn’t make it.”
“Nor the Senators?” Jay asked.
“Nope. Mike Lee’s too busy extolling Cruz, and Hatch is now endorsing Rubio – perhaps angling for his long coveted Supreme Court appointment.”
“You mean things really can get worse?” Bill said.
“Did you see Stewart’s recent newsletter to constituents? He’s the new Trump – or Cruz. It’s full of battle words – he ‘grilled’ the Forest Service, he ‘blasted’ Obama.”
“Maybe he’s now on testosterone supplements?” Jay smiled.
“The Utah three mouseketeer Congressguys were easy to get to,” I reported. “First, there was little security; it was a southern Utah-style town meeting. Second, the three were to be on a panel, entertaining questions from largely anti-BLM, anti-Fed folks. And thirdly, as no one knows me down there, I just pretended to be on the building staff and set out bottled water and several chocolates on each panelist’s table space.”
“Cool,” Jay said. “But you could have been recognized and challenged.”
“Sure, but only by Democrats, who probably would not have interfered. You know, I only got two dozen or so votes in all of Washington County in 2012. Only Stewart would have recognized me, and I timed it so he wasn’t nearby.”
“And?” Bill asked.
“I saw Chaffetz and Stewart eat a chocolate about half-way through the session. There was one left at Bishop’s place after the event was over, which I picked up. Can’t say any more than that.”
“I guess our serving chocolates approach might be called Chocolate Roulette,” Jay smiled.
“A fair description. It reminds me of a Scalia story in USA Today, where Scalia, when asked about his nine kids, said something like ‘we are good Catholics – and play Vatican Roulette’.”
“And the others?” Bill asked.
“I did get to Mike Lee earlier, as well as Chaffetz and Mia Love, at Mike’s Christmas Party at the State Capitol.”
“Maybe that’s why Mia is starting to sound a bit reasonable. Her recent talk to the Utah Legislature sounded mature, civil,” Bill said.
“I let Hatch go,” I said. “He’d probably recognize me, he’s 80, and he’s tired.”
“But he still wants a chair on the Supreme Court?”
“Probably. He might not be too bad there – no worse certainly than Scalia was.”
“But he’s now saying he can work with Trump – he actually said, according to the Times:
We will have to work on changing some of his ideas. He’s a good businessman.”
“Jesus. That confirms that Hatch has indeed lost it.”
“Did you see the Trib report on what Stewart said at the Capitol the other day:
We don’t want any more wilderness. Not a single acre of wilderness.”
“No great surprise,” I said. “Reminds me of a quote I saw on an office wall this morning – by Aristotle: ‘We are what we repeatedly do’.”
“At least he’s consistent – Stewart, I mean,” Jay said.
Washington – Peter: Rodgers + Beutler, Newhouse
“Peter told me earlier that he used our early practice scenario.”
“Sure,” Jay said. “Those early discussions helped us all with our actions in the various district offices.”
“Well, the Walla Walla fiction was eerily right on,” he said “although there was no pouch or courier service to connect the office with the Congresswoman. He made his own Rodgers in 2016 label for the Rodgers office visit – and did similarly for the Beutler and Newhouse office visits.”
“Cool. That really showed how committed he was,” Jay said.
“How ‘committed’ he was, then – for those few minutes. He also picked up the official campaign materials, with fake enthusiasm, at each of the offices.”
“Did he ever do drama?” Jay smiled.
“Nope, but it’s never too late. I think all three Congressfolks will get their ‘delivered by Peter’ chocolates and Ananda’s Chocolates cards.”
Washington DC – Joe: LaPierre, Norquist, Donohue, Justice Alito
“DC was tough and fascinating,” I reported. “I started with the Chamber’s annual Christmas Party, a lavish well attended affair presided over by Donohue. He’s an impressive figure – tall, loud, somewhat dominating.”
“Security?” Jay asked.
“Not bad. I went largely empty handed, except for chocolates in my pockets. I had the flatter versions that Lucien had made to use at events where we would likely be screened and frisked. No bulges and well sealed – no scent of chocolate.”
“Did they frisk you?”
“Fortunately not. My hip always sets off the metal detectors, but before entering I hand the screener a card with the U Health Sciences logo and my docs’ signature, saying I have an artificial hip. That usually takes care of the problem – and did so in this instance.”
“Interesting,” Bill said. “And having the hip issue to focus on probably distracted him from looking carefully at anything else.”
“Yes, I think so. In any event I got in without having to have a chocolate tasting at the screening barricade. I went immediately to the credentials table to find my name on an invite list, kindly arranged by my friends at the Salt Lake Chamber. Salt Lake didn’t have its own table, so I didn’t run in to any Utahns, but I did get a seat, and I was legal and legitimate.”
“Great, then what?” Jay asked, enthusiastically.
“Off to the podium and main tables to find Donohue. I did ask at the credentials table if LaPierre and Norquist would be attending. She said she couldn’t share that information, but her body language suggested that one of them might be there.”
“You’re going to have to teach us about these body language assessments,” Bill said.
“I found Donohue, introduced myself as an aging chocolatier from Utah, and saying I’d like to talk with him about the international chocolate trade. He sort of dismissed me, but he did seem somewhat interested. I did say I’d stop by his office to drop off some background information. He nodded.”
“That seems like a good approach and plan. So?”
“On Monday morning, about 9 am, I was at the Chamber’s 1615 H Street, NW office – across the street from the White House. It was open and the lady at the welcome desk was most helpful. I said I enjoyed the Christmas Party, was with the Salt Lake City Chamber chapter, and had met Mr. Donohue, but we hadn’t time to talk. I further said he suggested I come by this morning to drop off my materials and schedule an appointment.”
“She chuckled, saying something like ‘He often does that – he doesn’t keep his own calendar, you know. He won’t be in today, but I can see that he gets your materials’. Thus began our international chocolate business brief discussion – and the Ananda’s samples. She was delighted.”
“Did you make an appointment?”
“Not exactly, I said I’d contact him later, via the Salt Lake Chamber, to present some information on the international trade in chocolate. I winked at her, saying ‘chocolate’s so much more satisfying than cigarettes, you know’. She understood and agreed, smiling. I then gave her my Ananda cards and samples. She assured me she would put them on his desk to see the minute he returned. She ate her sample on the spot and asked several questions. I gave her another card, referring her to the site. That was it.”
“Was LaPierre or Norquist at the party – or John Roberts?”
“I don’t think so. I should have asked Donohue’s receptionist that same question, but didn’t. I was looking for Susan LaPierre and Norquist’s Samah among all the men present, but didn’t see either of them.”
“From 1615 H St. to Norquist’s headquarters at 722 12th ST NW, Suite 400 – just a few blocks away. Again a receptionist to talk with, and me wearing my No New Taxes button. She smiled. I asked her if Norquist had been to the Chamber Party the other night. She didn’t think so, saying he and Samah don’t often go to DC parties – they’d rather spend the time with their kids.”
“That’s promising,” Jay said.
“I mentioned my visit to the Chamber and my interest in meeting Mr. Norquist, to thank him for his actions in behalf of small business and in minimizing corporate taxes. She couldn’t schedule a meeting, saying to call his appointments secretary later in the day. We talked chocolates briefly – she thought he was quite fond of chocolates. She was happy to accept and taste the sample – and said she’d deliver the chocolates and cards to his personal secretary. I added a sample for the personal secretary.”
“What did the office look like?” Bill asked.
“Interesting. There was a table for recent Norquist-ATR publications and news stories, including his recent Salt Lake Tribune op-ed telling the Utah Legislature to not tax internet sales.”
“I thought Hatch and Mike Lee opposed that,” Jay said.
“Yes, he noted that. But Chaffetz apparently supports it, together with several state legislators. In any event Norquist how has his eyes and hands on Utah.”
“After Norquist, I got on the Metro in the direction of Fairfax – to the NRA Headquarters. Norquist’s location and space seemed relatively modest. Donohue’s was more palatial – even ostentatious. But LaPierre’s! Wow.”
“I was near the NRA Building in Fairfax several years ago – I wanted to see what the National Firearms Museum looked like, ” Bill said. “Quite an edifice.”
“I did manage to find a Protect the Second Amendment button for the NRA visit,” I said. “Interesting that they screened everyone entering the building. You can’t carry guns into the NRA facility – but their employees can carry them in – it’s the law in Virginia!”
“Isn’t that hypocritical?” Jay smiled. “And the chocolates?”
“No sweat – their concern was with guns, cameras, cell phones – I did have to check my phone, but they let me in with my computer.”
“Didn’t LaPierre say ‘those with the guns make the rules’?” Bill asked.
“I think you’re confusing that with the plutocrat’s Golden Rule – those with the gold make the rules,” Jay corrected.
“The NRA site had some LaPierre video rants on Obama, which I watched. I tried to get to know him before any visit.”
“And?” Bill asked.
‘It was the same sort of interchange as with Donohue and Norquist: I’m here to thank him for his support of the whatever – in this case the Second Amendment and the right to bear armaments. And I wanted to ask him about the NRA going international – advocating the right to bear arms anywhere on the planet – at anytime. The receptionist didn’t even flinch.”
“I guess she’s heard it all,” Jay added. “Did you really say ‘bear armaments’?”
“Yes – and she didn’t flinch at that, either.”
“She said she’d pass on the chocolates, my card, and my thanks to his personal secretary. I said I’d follow up a bit later.”
“Did you get to Alito?” Bill asked.
“Yes, but it required a special trip – some weeks after the holiday season visit. He was helping judge a Constitutional Law Competition at the George Washington Law School – at 800 21st St. – in the Lisner Auditorium. It was a cool event.”
“Security?” Jay asked.
“Sure, but nothing onerous. It was similar to the other Justice gigs – look for his aides or clerks, follow and interact with one. Strike up a conversation – this time at the coffee and water table. Mention John Roberts and chocolates at the Supreme Court. The kid looked like a younger version of Mike Lee – but he was warm and personable.”
I continued: “He took a sample for himself and several for Justice Alito – said he’d get them to him and would emphasize John Roberts’ interest in chocolates. Alito actually told a ‘joke’ in his discussions with one of the competitors: ‘There’s a lot of injustice in the decision-making process, so get used to it.’
“That’s no joke,” Jay said. “That’s today’s unjust Supreme Court.”
“That’s like what Scalia used to say about his Gore vs Bush vote – ‘just get over it’.”
“Alito’s ten year Court stint was recently reviewed in USA Today,” Bill said. “Richard Wolf, the reporter, wrote:
… his vote may be the most reliably conservative — more pragmatic than Scalia and Thomas, more predictable than Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy….he sees eye to eye with Roberts…A fan of caffeine…”
“He’ll likely need another dose or two,” Bill smiled.
West Virginia – Jay: Capito + Mooney, Jenkins
“On to West Virginia,” Jay said. “Charleston is the state Capitol, but not very large. I got to Capito and Mooney, but not to Jenkins. I had to get in and out quickly.”
“I’ve been to the other Charleston,” I said. “What’s the West Virginia one like? Isn’t it the one with the Chuck Yeager Airport?”
“Yes – how’d you know that?”
“As a kid I was nuts about airplanes – and Chuck Yeager was one of my heroes.”
“Wasn’t he part of The Right Stuff film?” Bill asked.
“Yes, the first guy to fly faster than sound – perhaps with a broken rib.”
“That takes cojones,” Jay said, continuing, “Charleston’s a pleasant southern-style town. Capito’s office was small – with one lonely receptionist – with a box of chocolates on her desk.”
“You’re kidding. A Christmas gift?”
“That’s what she said – from her boss, who apparently likes chocolates.”
“Bulls-eye!” Bill said.
“It was easy. We traded chocolates – one from her for me, and my Ananda sample for her. She was pleased to have someone to talk with – and said she’d pass our chocolates on to ‘the Senator’.”
“Terrific. And Mooney?”
“Also easy, because I started with a reference to Capito’s interest in chocolate. That opened up the discussion. Same deal – this middle aged lady will pass on the chocolates and card to Alex Mooney, who, she said, occasionally takes a chocolate when it’s available.”
Wisconsin – Bill: Ryan + Johnson, Sensenbrenner
“I did a two day trip, into and out of Milwaukee, with a side leg to Janesville again. I got to Ron Johnson’s office in Milwaukee. The Sensenbrenner office in Brookfield, just east of Milwaukie, was the most interesting, because I ran into a young staffer who was a Biology major at Marquette University. We talked about plant biotechnology. He’d actually had a class from a former colleague working in plant hybridization. Small world.”
“You recall that Sensenbrenner wanted to be Chair of the House Science Committee?” I asked.
“Sure, which is I guess why he liked to have a few staffers with science interests and backgrounds. As I started to pull out and bring up the subject of chocolate, he even asked some good questions about cacao and its cultivation. Smart kid.”
“With that kind of rapport, you should follow up and continue to work with him,” I suggested.
“And work on him,” Bill said.
“But we have to be careful,” Jay cautioned. “We don’t want him or others to know too much about you, us, or Ananda’s.”
“Jay’s right, of course,” I said. “Best only a very minimal follow up, if any.”
“That kid was so personal that I’m sure he got the chocolates to Sensenbrenner. Johnson’s office was far less interesting. Just a bored receptionist with little interest in chocolates. I called her later using the hotel phone to be sure she’d passed the goods on. She said she had.”
“A nice 90 minute ride to Janesville and back. Ryan’s district office there had a great picture of him with his new beard – and there were materials out on his role and actions as Speaker – press releases, etc., and a cool family photo – complete with wife Janna and their three kids – and dogs. A young lady came up to me as I was looking at the photo. What’s their dog’s name, I asked. And that did it. She was a real dog fan. ‘The dogs are Boomer and Sooner’, she said. We got into chocolates via they are bad for dogs. I couldn’t get her to stop talking about dogs. I’m not much of a dog fan, but I didn’t let it show.”
“You got to him earlier at a cafe, right?” I asked.
“Yes, at the Citrus Cafe, with several of his staff. They all took chocolates then. But I didn’t go back there this time. Last time I didn’t visit his district office; I’d arrived after it closed. So this time I did the office – a new staffer – a new approach.”
“And hopefully another dose – this time as Speaker,” I smiled.
“I’m sure he appreciates the attention,” Jay smiled.
“I did something else – I left a new copy of Ishmael on the table next to the Ryan House reelection materials, just before leaving. The dog lady didn’t see me.”
“A little clandestine reading for the office staff,” Jay chuckled. “I hope it gets around.”
“I didn’t see anything about Ayn Rand,” Bill said.
“That’s good news,” I added.
“Then it was back to Milwaukee and the flight home.”
“I just heard something about a very interesting Wisconsin Congressman, formerly with the Freedom Caucus, who’s not running again. Reporter David Hawkings said that Reid Riddle, a three term Wisconsin Congressman representing District 8, and a close friend of Paul Ryan, will not run again. He’s tired of the partisanship and gridlock. Hawkings writes:
Soon after taking office, his hawkishness for reducing budget deficits led him to renounce his Americans for Tax Reform ‘pledge’ to oppose all revenue increases, which almost everyone else in the House GOP Conference has signed. He’s also been open to raising taxes on the rich to shore up Social Security’s solvency, by increasing the limit on income subject to the payroll tax.”
“So there are some reasonable Republicans,” Jay said. “Unfortunately, though, not very many.”
“Hawkings suggests that there’s a potential change brewing, that Ribble may not be completely unique. He quoted Ribble as saying, about Trump:
We can’t just be kicking sand in the sandbox and saying, ‘You’re dumb’ and ‘You’re a loser’. We actually need a grownup, not a 3-year-old in the White House.
“Wow, there is hope.”
“And maybe we did get to Ryan,” I said. “The Times piece on his budget strategy suggests he’s pushing back against the Freedom Caucus’ hard-nosed budget demands. Reality does sometimes influence ideology.”
“There you go again,” Jay said. “You know Ryan just said he would support Trump if he became the Republican nominee – in spite of Ryan’s recent holier than thou statements about bigotry and prejudice.”
“It’s the Party – uber alles,” I said.
Wyoming – Peter: Barasso + Enzi, Lummis
“Peter told me the Wyoming gig was more interesting than he’d expected.”
“Didn’t Liz Cheney just say she’s going to run?” Jay asked.
“You’ve got it. Lummis, Wyoming’s at large House rep, said she’s not running again, so Cheney’s angling for her seat.”
“From Lummis to perhaps Cheney…how could they be so screwed up there?”
“They’re not screwed up,” Jay said. “They’re exceptional – at least that’s the title of Liz’s book. Maybe her five kids will work on her campaign.”
“It never ends,” Bill said.
“Peter easily got to Barasso, Enzi, and Lummis,” I reported. “He figured that even with Lummis gone her office and staff would likely be inherited by whoever replaces her – even Liz Cheney.”
“Good thinking,” Jay said. “And Barasso?”
“Another office – another staffer. Peter said he started the conversation with questions about Wyoming’s coal stats – now that coal is dropping so fast, was Wyoming getting any Fed money to help with the transition?”
“Good approach,” Bill said “although it doesn’t seem to work on McConnell.”
“Peter said he did bring up Kentucky and McConnell – and that Wyoming has been a bigger coal supplier than Kentucky. He said it was a good, even substantive, conversation. The staffer was informed and personable – and accepted the chocolates. Ditto for Enzi’s office.”
We’d been talking for two hours, had very full bladders and were getting tired. We took a break, stretched, got more coffee.
“I’d like us to get up to the U Cancer Institute and see Tom again,” I said. “He’d like to see us and get a very brief summary of the project.”
“I understand he’s on a downhill slide,” Jay said.
“Yes, but still in good spirits – and mentally just fine.”
We met in the Cancer Institute fifth floor library the next day. Bonnie wheeled Tom in. He had an iv line, but looked fine. Amazingly he still had most of his hair and beard.
“It must be the Neanderthal in me,” Tom smiled, when I mentioned the beard. “At least the nurses help me keep it clean and trimmed.”
“It’s been a while,” Bill began, “a long while.”
“I thought I might have to visit you three in jail. But you’re free to come to me…to my jail,” Tom said. “Just kidding – they’re taking good care of me here.”
Bonnie said Tom could talk with us for up to an hour, more or less. She didn’t want him to get too tired. She said she’d be back. We gathered around a circular table.
“So, let’s hear it. It must have gone well cause you’re not in jail.”
“We’re assuming the national and homeland security drones don’t get into this building,” I said.
“But the NSA knows how to read the sound-induced window vibrations,” Jay added.
Bill proudly started the summary: “Sixteen states, New York City, Washington, DC, and up to 75 people treated – and perhaps another 150 or so ‘calmed’.”
Bill and Jay briefly recounted several of their more interesting encounters and experiences. So did I.
“We distributed some 300 full dose Ananda Chocolates – and ten or so Parmesan cheese-sprinkled dishes at sit down lunches and dinners,” I said, “and about 500 half-dose Ananda ‘samples’.”
“The half-dose were for staffers and the curious?” Tom asked.
“Yes. They allowed the staff and handlers to do their ‘diligence’ – assuring them that the ‘gift’ was not toxic or otherwise dangerous.”
“So if my head is still working straight, that’s about 50 grams of MDMA, right? That was about the yield of Batch 2.”
“The math and memory parts of your head are just fine,” Jay said. “Yes, we still have another 20 grams – essentially all of our final Batch 3.”
“Good, cause I’d like to have 20 or so full doses – in Ananda form – to use here – and for myself.”
“Consider it done,” I said. “We have about 100 full Anandas set aside for unique new opportunities. I’ll deliver a camouflaged box to you tomorrow. But why so many?”
“I’ve had some interesting discussions here with docs and nurses – and with patients. They know nothing about empathogens – or marijuana – or psilocybin. Nothing about MAPS, the PTSD trials, the autism studies – nothing.”
“So you’re informing and teaching them?” Bill asked.
“Yes – many of them. And they’re all interested.”
“And for yourself?”
“Well, I’m no Huxley, and MDMA’s not LSD, but when push comes to shove, I don’t want to be afraid to go. A little fear-removing MDMA should be very helpful.”
“It would probably help in ‘letting go’,” I agreed. “I was at my mother’s funeral a month or so ago – and talked with the priest who helped and encouraged her to become a community activist. He said Erma was the persistent ‘little old lady’ no one could say No to.”
“And she let it go?” Tom asked.
“Probably. I told the priest she had said she was waiting for God to take her, but I thought she’d be ok for many more months – even years. The priest said God sometimes requires ‘encouragement’ – ‘I’m sure it was Erma’s decision, not His’.”
“And I assume she let go without MDMA,” Tom smiled.
“Right. She never did like chocolate.”
“By the way,” Tom said seriously, “did you write her obit?”
“Yes, with my son’s help.”
“Could you help Bonnie write mine – in advance? I want to be sure my chemical skills and Shulgin-like looks are mentioned.”
“Of course,” I agreed. “But is there a rush?”
“To be on the safe side, come and read me a draft in two weeks, more or less.” He looked carefully at the three of us. “If you can, say something about me, MDMA, and State Change – harmless – in it. I’d like the world to know that I am so proud to have played a role in the project.”
“It was more than a ‘role’,” I said. “Without you, it could not have happened.”
“I know you,” he smiled. “You would have found a way.”
We were all tearing up. I told Tom I’d like to talk with him about other means to synthesize important organic chemicals – to help enhance the availability of good, safe, useful, illegal drugs.
He was keen to meet soon – perhaps a week later.
I told Peter and Lucien about our meeting and discussions with Tom. They each said they wanted to see him, to express their thanks, and say their goodbyes. They said they’d be at next week’s meeting and discussion.
Although making MDMA requires a skilled and talented organic chemist, there’s been a lot of work on chemical synthesis via automated multi-step processes – so-called robo-synthesis. No surprise, as we now have robo-based, automated approaches to complex manufacturing and even in certain areas of health care. The U main library has its own Maker-Space, where students and faculty can design and construct various machines. It has several 3D-printers with which to fabricate complex shapes.
There are now machines for auto-synthesis of DNA fragments, of peptides, and even of small proteins. You specify the final product and the software codes a set of instructions to the robo-synthesizer. Hit start and it begins to pump, deliver, and react – dozens or more chemicals – resulting in a sequence of reactions, purification steps, etc – to deliver the final chemical desired. Chemical synthesis machines are now being used to make new organic molecules, which are being evaluated for drug activity.
There was a recent New York Times story on do-it-yourself diabetes care, and mentioned a bio-hacking group – the Open Insulin Project. Their goal is to produce modified cells to produce insulin, and even culture and grow them in the home environment.
It’s not so far-fetched. I attended a remarkable seminar at the U the other day, titled Mammalian Synthetic Biology, by an MIT bioengineer who is developing a toolbox with which to modify – to engineer – cells to do new and specific tasks.
There was a recent set of stories called ‘brewing bad’ – about scientists engineering yeast cells to make narcotic drug precursors – sometimes called ‘pharmabrewing’. There are on line reports on using modified bacteria and yeast to host parts of the LSD and psilocybin synthetic pathways. A young Stanford biologist, Christina Smolke, and her team – according to NATURE, in late 2015 – put together
…a pathway of 23 different genes from plants, mammals, bacteria and yeast to produce the world’s first narcotic through synthetic biology.
There is an annual conference titled Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED). One conference track is: Enabling Technologies and Platforms.
The MIT prof is actually developing the software – the instruction – toolkit for such activities. Those genetically and/or chemically modified cells will then be cultured, grown, and their secretions or internal products isolated, purified, and used – personally and individually. The era of full cognitive liberty – and libertarian chemical freedom – will then arrive.
Legality? Regulation? Control? The FDA?
“Brewing Bad will not be that different from growing your own marijuana,” Lucien said, “- now legal in several states.”
“Or growing your own ‘magic mushrooms’ – not legal, but widely done,” Bill said. “You know, there seems to be less of a stigma in dealing with illegal mushrooms than in dealing with illegal synthetic drugs.”
“Automated chemistry is basically a robotic Shulgin on a cart,” Tom said. “We organic chemists can simply become molecule designers, rather than hands on synthesizers.”
“Remember George Whitesides from Harvard? We interacted back when we were looking at PEO for protein resistant-surfaces. He was quoted in a recent NATURE piece titled Why Synthesize? saying making molecules is just another kind of manufacturing technology.”
“And remember Mathematica, and what it did for Mathematics?” Bill asked.
“Yes – and now we have Chematica which, together with the synthesis machines, will likely revolutionize organic chemistry.”
“No smelly chemicals; no disposal issues; no long, late night stays at the lab; and less jobs,” Lucien added.
“There are upsides and downsides – winners and losers,” Peter said.
“But I think the good news for us is how can you outlaw, say, MDMA, if anyone can make it in their science museum or even local library? In addition to Maker-Space services, we’ll soon have Chemistry-Space resources,” I suggested.
“There was a cool piece in the Times the other day,” Bill added, “discussing the wide range of stuff some libraries now make available – musical instruments, sports equipment, tools, on and on. So it’s reasonable to expect even chemically-related equipment could be checked out.”
“Or used on site,” Lucien added. “And don’t forget ‘Tool Libraries’.” Lucien is an avid volunteer with the Portland Tool Library system.
“So harmless gets it all going, ‘demonstrates’, semi-secretly, the potential, and then society takes it from there – towards an empathogenic society.”
The robo- or auto-chem technology keeps evolving. New Scientist just had a piece, Dial M for Molecule, presenting another system for doing automated chemistry. There’s now a group and project called Dial-A-Molecule, encouraging collaboration on chemical synthesis machines. Maker-Chem activities and workshops will likely become common in libraries, science museums, and even high schools throughout the country. The New Scientist piece concludes with:
…perhaps the real promise of automatic chemistry lies in democratising the power to make and break chemical bonds. …anyone, scientist or layperson, can make a new molecule.
“We may end up with a chemically literate segment of society,” I concluded, “…where anyone could synthesize almost anything very easily.”
“Meaning organic chemists join up with software folks and fluidic engineers to make programmable synthesizers,” Tom added.
“Yes, after you organic chemists work out the reactions needed – steps, sequences, reagents, etc.” I said. “A paper in NATURE recently presented a technique to encapsulate air or moisture sensitive reagents so they can be stored indefinitely, and then added to a reaction when needed.
Such methods will make the development and use of automated chemistry far easier.”
“You can buy 3-D printers on Amazon,” Bill said. “Why not buy an MDMA Machine?”
“Not yet, but perhaps soon,” I said.
“There was a recent Dilbert cartoon,” Jay said. “The online robot pharmacist told Dilbert his mood-altering drugs were being delivered via his home 3D printer.”
“Not so far off.”
“This is all positive for drug costs,” Bill noted. “The Times just had a story on the exorbitant increases in specialty drug costs. A bunch of oncologists are asking for legislation to help counter the trend. It seems that the costs reflect mainly what the market – and patients – will bear rather than the costs of R and D and reasonable return on investment.”
“It might be cheaper for the patient’s family to invest in a synthesizer and an organic chemistry consultant and simply make the drugs directly,” Tom said.
“It’s not just cancer drugs,” Jay added. “Another Times piece talked about the high costs of drugs for treating Hepatitis C and, of course, AIDS. A typical 3 month treatment with Hepatitis C drugs is now costing $100,000!”
“And a local court in Brazil recently ruled that an experimental cancer drug being studied at the University of Sao Paulo – a simple phosphoethanolamine – has to be made available to terminally ill patients who want it – even though it’s not approved nor even been tested on humans yet,” I said.
“Some drugs are molecules readily made by the new equipment and instructions now becoming available,” Tom added.
“And if patients do it clandestinely, then patents be damned,” Jay added. “And the FDA and DEA can do nothing – other than try to prosecute.”
“I’ve been following the stories on these financial crooks who buy small drug firms making important drugs, and then greatly jack up the prices,” Bill said.
“Yes – and one of them has now been arrested for financial misdealings, right?” Jay asked.
“Yes,” Bill said. “But these actions have led a to a real anxiety among patients and doctors. The Times just ran a story about patients fearing spikes in the prices of old, established drugs.”
“It’s so easy to synthesize many of those drugs. A good robo-chem facility could solve the problem.”
“You can copy stuff for personal use, in spite of Copyright. It’s called the Fair Use Exclusion. Why not for chemicals.”
“That would make for an interesting legal case…from information to matter, via RoboChem and 3D printing,” Jay smiled.
“Patents are highly overrated,” Tom said. “There’s almost always a way around them. What makes them really useful is an army of lawyers and handshake agreements among the drug companies.”
“So you plan to make your own?” Bill asked.
“It’s probably too late for me,” Tom said. “Most of these very high cost drugs actually do very little for cancer patients – just extend the inevitable by a few months. Better to spend the time and effort with family, friends, and finishing your bucket list – while you can.”
“And enjoying chocolate,” Lucien smiled.
Bonnie came back in. “Times up, boys,” she said. “My chemist needs some rest.”
Lucien and Peter crowded around Tom, gently shook his hand, and thanked him for making harmless – State Change – possible.
“Don’t forget your writing assignment,” Tom said, looking at me. “See you next week.”
We continued talking after Bonnie wheeled Tom back to his room.
“What do I do with all those frequent flyer miles?” Jay asked, jokingly.
“Plan to go off somewhere when Salt Lake’s air turns crappy again.”
“I’m heading for Baja,” Bill said. “La Paz should be ideal for a few more months.”
“Diana and I will get back to Pacific Grove, and that wonderful bluff walking trail. With no chocolates and no recollection of harmless or of State Change.”
“And I’ll probably get down to Kanab for Earthfest – and some Grand Staircase adventures,” Jay said.
“I’ll continue to keep track of our 29 – and most of the others – for the next three months or so to determine if harmless had any obvious effect – or impact. There are already some hints of change.”
“We each have our Google Alerts on our specific patients. As clues come in, we’ll continue to let you know,” Jay said. Bill agreed.
“Best to send those in semi-code,” I cautioned. “Use the list of our patients – the 29 and the collaterals – and the semantics we agreed to earlier. First names and numbers where possible. First name and Congressional District number generally works.”
“Hey – and on the book?” Bill asked. “Why not approach Catapult?”
“It’s crossed my mind,” I said. “Although Charles didn’t make it to the Centennial Valley gig, David and Bill did – and were fairly open about politics, environment, and legacy.”
“They both understood, and responded – more or less openly – to your brief talk – Soddy, Smith, and Economics. David’s comments suggested that Charles is indeed mellowing his hard core Libertarian stance a bit, just as we surmised from that Forbes interview.”
“We should have invited Elizabeth and Chase, as well as Charles,” Jay said.
“I doubt they would have participated without their parents, ” I said, “even Elizabeth.”
“David’s and Bill’s kids were great – they got along, were very interested in the refuge, and generally understood the discussions,” Jay added.
“And processed them,” I said. “There’s hope that they may use their inheritances and legacy in a more socially responsible manner than their parents have.”
“It may still be reasonable to approach Elizabeth and Catapult on the book, especially if there’s any inkling that Charles is beginning to mellow – if he seems to be adjusting or changing his ideological stance,” Jay said, encouragingly.
“His recent Washington Post op-ed about Sanders was encouraging,” Bill noted, “saying
The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.
I agree with him.”
“It’s a good start toward his revelation – maybe there is hope for him.”
“The Catapult label, and Elizabeth’s obvious interest and endorsement, would be very significant for State Change,” Bill said.
“And perhaps guarantee she’d be fully cut out of his will,” I smiled.
The Salt Lake team had another brief meeting prior to seeing and talking with Tom – probably for the last time. This time in the U’s new Law Building, outside the cafe.
“Let’s get into …if we were to do this all over again, what might we do differently?” I asked.
“Well, we likely wouldn’t have Tom – and I doubt you have another chemist friend with comparable skills and convictions,” Bill said.
“Correct, which means we wouldn’t have access to high quality MDMA.”
“We might not need MDMA – maybe we could go with psilocybin,” Jay said. “We don’t need a chemist to grow mushrooms.”
“We just need a good mycologist to teach us to identify – and cultivate – the right ones,” Bill said.
“And – thanks to Lucien – we know about Paul Stamets, his book, his kits, and his workshops.”
“And Lucien’s early experiments in blending Psilocybe cubensis powder in chocolate.”
“Peter reported he could still taste the mushroom component, which wasn’t pleasant – but those experiments used a fairly high dose.”
“If we were to use them for non-hallucinatory excursions, we’d use lower doses and the bad taste would be easier to mask,” Bill said.
“psilocybin is not considered an empathogen – rather it’s an entheogen,” I said. “But that may be sufficient.”
“One of our critical confidantes for harmless said he didn’t think MDMA was ‘strong’ enough to facilitate the rewiring – the revelations – we want. He suggested psilocybin or even LSD – in milder doses than used for psychedelic tripping.”
“I recall the PTSD and autism studies using psilocybin,” Bill said. “It might just do the job.”
“Entheogens may work, and we know that empathogens – MDMA – works, but there’s over half of the population that may not need them,” I said. “They’re just not in charge.”
“You mean the half with lower testosterone…”
“And higher estrogen,” Jay added.
“For example, our 29 included only three women: Capito, Ernst, and Rodgers. We didn’t have Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, or Hillary Clinton in our 29 because they didn’t qualify – they don’t need empathogenic therapy.”
“There was an old TED talk I saw,” Bill said, ‘a discussion between Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.”
“I’ll bet Jane did most of the talking,” Jay added.
“Yes, but she did say ‘it’s women who need to change the world’.”
“Did you see Michael Moore’s newest – on invading other countries to get ideas to help save the USA?”
“He sometimes rubs me the wrong way,” Jay said.
“I saw it. Yes, he’s almost embarrassing, but the film is really good,” Bill said. “Especially the part on Iceland and women in government.”
I reported: “In the film, Moore sits down for an extended conversation with Vigdís Finnbogadóttir the Icelandic politician who served as their fourth President from 1980 to 1996. A single mother with a seven-year-old daughter at the time she was elected, she began a strong women’s equality movement in Iceland. Moore also has a discussion with other prominent Icelandic women – they say they feel equal with men and have no motivation to live in America. ‘You couldn’t pay me to live there’, one says.”
“Iceland had an early bank collapse – and prosecuted and jailed the males responsible for it – one of the only countries to do so,” Bill noted.
In the film Iceland’s former Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Halla Tomasdottir asks:
I had to question whether this growth journey we had been on was really a successful business strategy. I had somehow missed this approach to business when I got my MBA education. Is it a relentless pursuit in order to get big? Or is this just a great big penis competition?
“The testosterone, again,” Jay smiled. “I understand that the one Icelandic bank that didn’t fail was the one run by women.”
Steven Holdren reviewed the film for the Times, when it was released late last year:
The key to [Iceland’s] resilience and stability, Mr. Moore concludes, is its strong female leadership, and he goes on to suggest that testosterone drives a patriarchal society to violence and irrational risk-taking. In his view, the world would be peaceful and just if women were in charge.
“Nicholas Kristof has been writing for years that women and girls need to be educated, empowered, and encouraged to take part in their societies – and especially in their governance,” I concluded.
“Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir all agree – as well as Michael Moore,” Bill said.
“And Diane Eisler, I’m sure. But it will take time. We still have to deal with the testosterone-fueled bigots, the fear and paranoia crowd, the conspiracy theorists, and the dejected, poorly educated white males who cannot see or think beyond their myopic present. And at least some of those may be helped by MDMA, psilocybin, or marijuana.”
“I read a Times story recently, about a neuroscientist who had, temporarily, lost her mind,” Jay said. “She had brain cancer which provoked a type of mental illness –
…the fear and confusion of living in a world that doesn’t make sense. … when my guesses were wrong, conspiracy theories crawled in, she said.”
“I like the phrase ‘…conspiracy theories crawled in’,” Bill said. “It’s like the paranoids have spaces or holes in their brains – stuff they simply do not, perhaps cannot, understand. Their brain makes up conspiracy stories to fill the vacuums in their brains.”
Moore’s film included a segment on Portugal – on its now fifteen year old policy of drug decriminalization. Even the Utah Legislature voted recently to move marijuana from a Federal Class 1 drug to Class 2, so it could be used for research studies – but it eventually failed. MAPS is making progress to make MDMA a prescription drug, and there is great interest in the therapeutic potential of psilocybin.
Tom and I met again at the U Cancer Institute; this time Bonnie stayed with us.
“I only wrote two paragraphs -,” I said, “ specifically on your chemistry work and on harmless.”
“That’s fine. Bonnie will deal with all the family, personal and other stuff,” Tom said, weakly.
Bonnie confided that he was doing poorly. Treatments have stopped. He’s now on ‘comfort care’. Although he’s still eating, he is losing weight. She said he’s accepted his fate – he is ‘ready’.
I showed him the paragraph I’d written. “Read it to me,” he said.
I read slowly:
Thomas L. Borodin received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1971. His thesis supervisor was the well known natural products chemist Henry Goldstein. After a one year post doctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Borodin accepted a position at the University of Utah in its new Department of Bioengineering, working in the new field of biomaterials with Joseph Decoto, a young assistant professor. He worked with Decoto for seven years, working on novel hydrogels for artificial heart and kidney applications. Thomas then left the University to join a startup company, Novel Biomaterials, which later became Process Analytics, a firm using Raman Spectroscopy for analysis of organic compounds. He retired in 2005 at the age of 64. He continued to work in organic chemistry as a consultant and advisor to industry and with University researchers.
In 2010 his former collaborator, Decoto, introduced him to the work of Dr. Sasha Shulgin, a Lafayette, California independent chemist working on psychedelic and empathogenic drugs, including psilocybin and MDMA. Borodin and Decoto never met Shulgin, who died in 2014, but who lives on via his several authoritative chemistry reference books. Borodin and Decoto then joined with four other friends to develop a project they called ‘harmless’ to produce and deliver MDMA to a wide range of political and social leaders suffering from Empathy Deficit Disorder (EDD), with the goal of aiding their transformation to become more effective public servants. Borodin’s chemical synthesis talents and skills were essential to the project. Borodin was quoted as saying ‘It was the most important work I have ever done. I’m very proud of being a key part of the harmless effort.’ The harmless project concluded in early 2016, at about the same time as Borodin’s liver cancer reached the terminal stage. He was comforted in his final days by means of the very MDMA he had synthesized earlier.
“It’s a little long,” Tom said, “but I like it. Couldn’t have said it better myself.” He smiled. He looked at Bonnie: “Be sure to use that in the final obit.” She was crying, as was I.
I said my goodbyes to Tom and Bonnie. His death occurred a few days later. I told the harmless team about his final days and the obituary paragraphs.
Bill, Jay, and I agreed to meet one last time at Coffee Noir. I had put together some readings and perspectives to help put an optimistic perspective on our very disconcerting politics and world condition.
We talked about Nicholas Berggruen, a relatively young German-American billionaire who
set up the Berggruen Institute in 2010, recently launching its Philosophy and Culture Center, with an initial focus on China and the United States. The Themes of the Center resonate with the goals and concerns of harmless, including empathy, morality, and ethics.
Another initiative is Stanford’s new Knight-Hennessy Scholars and affiliated programs – a nearly billion dollar effort to recruit and trained advanced undergraduates from around the world.
“That all sounds great,” Bill said. “I hope Knight, the other donors, Hennessy, and Stanford’s new President Tessier-Lavigne really mean it – and manage the program effectively.”
“I’ve seen too many programs spouting innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, technology, etc. that just train people to develop more relatively useless widgets, apps, and gadgets,” I said. “I hope they get those ‘scholars’ to understand and appreciate Soddy, Sustainability, and Planetary Wellbeing.”
“That means they need a good dose of the humanities – and the social sciences,” Bill said.
“And that reminds me,” Jay offered, “of a little hierarchy we discussed in the early days of harmless. Remember our State Change hierarchy:
“I do remember. harmless has dealt mainly with Mental and Individual. If tipping really does occur, that will help with Cultural and Political. Truly National and even Global will require much more work,” I said.
“Maybe we could talk with Knight, Hennessy, and Tessier-Lavigne about it,” Bill suggested.
“I’ll send them each a copy if and when State Change is published.”
“Just finish it and get it published,” Jay said. “Just say it’s a work of fiction. It can’t do harmless – or anyone else – any harm now.”
“It could do some harm. It could stock the fear and paranoia crowd – they’d charge that some group is ‘poisoning’ our political patriots,” I said. “It could set back the efforts at legalizing MDMA, the MAPS programs.”
“Honestly, I don’t think it’ll have that much impact,” Bill said. “If it’s published, it becomes semilegitimate. You can send copies to the 29 – to the entire 74 – to Hennessy, to Elizabeth Koch. If it’s not out there, they’ll never get the message.”
“And even if they did get the message via Ananda, seeing the book will reinforce it – will remind them. Having the story out there is essential to the impact, the effectiveness, of all we’ve done. And a legacy for Tom.”
“A friend of mine just published via Amazon’s CreateSpace,” Bill said. “Another resource is Lulu. We could have it out within two months of hitting Submit – about the time of the 2016 conventions. And if Amazon or Lulu balks, because you don’t have ‘permissions’ from our 29 ‘celebrity’ patients, you can self-publish directly using the U library’s ‘Espresso Book Machine’ – and just give the books away.”
“And make it available for free – on line at www.statechange.us ,” Jay added.
“You’re right. I know Lucien and Peter will agree – and Tom would if he could. I’ll get it ready for ‘publication’ and distribution.”
After a long pause, Bill continued: “Do you think we’ve done any good – so far?”
“We’ll never know,” I said. “We can’t take credit for the current implosion of the Republican Party – for its fragmentation and disarray. Fear, paranoia, demagoguery did that.”
“I’m sure we did no harm -,” Jay offered, “not even to Scalia.”
“We planted some seeds, “ I said. ‘Francis Fox Piven is one of my favorite activists. Regarding Occupy, she said:
The great protest movements of history … did not expand in the shape of a
simple rising arc of popular defiance. Rather, they began in a particular place,
sputtered and subsided, only to re-emerge elsewhere in perhaps a different
form, influenced by local particularities of circumstance and culture.”
“And Martin Luther King said the same thing – in different ways at different times.”
“The awareness, the potential, the recognition of action, of potential change – it all stays in the culture. It gets picked up, reused, recommunicated. I’ve always loved the spirit and the words of Steinbeck’s Tom Joad, from The Grapes of Wrath:
I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.
We had a final, Skype-assisted talk at my home – with Lucien and Peter.
“We began with ideology, denial, gridlock, malaise, fear, and desperation – and opted for illegal, clandestine, undemocratic, chemically facilitated empathic and moral enhancement,” I surmised.
“And it may be working,” Bill said. “Some of our patients are saying things far more reasonable and helpful than they did earlier. Revelation engineering may be working.”
“That’s real progress – and hope,” Jay said. “The USA Titanic may be slowly turning.”
“And I’ve become a chemist of sorts, thanks to Tom’s expert teaching,” Lucien said.
“And,” I smiled. “We’re not in jail, not even arrested; not even being investigated.”
“As far as we know,” said Jay.
“We’ve been lucky. As harmless evolved – and as we implemented our plans – State Change took on a mind of its own. We’re seeing parallel sentiments and even actions. The strategy is spreading and expanding,” I said.
“And we each have a good stock of Ananda’s Chocolates – we can continue to deliver treatments as the opportunities arise,” Jay suggested.
“I’ll continue to treat patients using MDMA and Ananda’s Chocolates,” Lucien said, “but I’ll also expand my work with psilocybin via mushrooms. We’ve learned so much about packaging and delivery that can be easily applied to magic mushrooms.”
“We lit a fuse – and we hope and expect the actions to continue,” Bill added. “It’s easier to do via mushrooms – no synthesis, not much ‘street’ competition and uncertainty.”
“Yes. Hopefully that will encourage and empower others to build upon our efforts and experience.”
“Thanks to MAPS and the many researchers and practitioners we’ve learned about, MDMA should soon be legal – at least for therapy in medically licensed settings.”
“But, unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see any Eleusinian-like ceremonies soon,” I said, “Although, if it does become legal, it’s reasonable to expect Eleusinian-like labs and ceremonies in college seminars, workshops in places like Esalen, and maybe even training sessions for newly elected politicians.”
“I wish I had your optimism,” Jay said.
“Enough…. No celebrations, no Tweets, no congratulations,” I said. “Keep it secret, just like the Media burglars did.”
“And maybe I can star in a documentary in 2040 – titled 2015,” Lucien said. “I may still be here.”
“And the rest of harmless likely won’t be there,” Bill said.
“I’ll now start working on State Change: Act II,” I said. “But this time I need to work solo.”
“How about another hint – beyond just saying it’s about evil?” Jay asked.
“It’ll begin with explosives – bullets and armaments – and the evil folks who profit from them,” I answered.
“Let us know if you want help,” said the harmless, ‘or just need to talk.”
“And the 29?” Bill asked. “Where did the magic number come from?”
“My little idea to give recognition to Shulgin and MDMA – 14 big atoms – carbon, nitrogen, oxygen – plus 15 little ones – the hydrogens.”
“And that happens to be a prime number – and a prime empathogen,” Bill smiled.
We said goodbye. Lucien and Peter signed out. Bill, Jay, and I hugged and shook hands. They walked away, each with a small bag of chocolates.