Dead Man Talking – satire by Paul Street

A report on the establishment’s living dead. 

Sparked by recent allegations that Public Broadcasting System (PBS) News hour host Jim Lehrer died more than four years and seven months ago, political and medical investigators are monitoring the appearance, life signs, and behavior of a number of key American public figures.

“Anything For My Country”

PBS, the Pentagon, and Lehrer family physician Sam Il Sung have denied reports that the listless and vapid Lehrer passed away after a tragic hang-gliding accident in early March of 2003. Before drawing his last breath as he lay in a secluded and secret hospital bed with a shattered spine and neck, author David Jay Shiffin and a team of Internet-based “truth” researchers claim, the ex-Marine Lehrer agreed to let his body be used in a covert CIA program meant to encourage mass domestic consent for planned invasions of Iraq and Iran.  “Anything for my country,” Lehrer is supposed to have said…very slowly, eliciting yawns and distracted looks of boredom moments before he expired.

According to “truth” proponents, the alleged CIA project was code-named “Dead Man Talking.” A team of military, intelligence, medical and science experts commissioned by Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reconstructed and reactivated Lehrer’s deceased body.  They provided the new “bionic anchorman” with minimal locomotion functions and the power to read neutral, passionless, falsely “objective” and vaguely power-worshipping “news” text carefully scripted by unnamed intelligence professionals.

“Waiting for Fresh Meat”

According to one highly placed Pentagon source said to have spoken on the condition of anonymity, “Cheney and Rumsfeld saw the deceased Lehrer as a ‘critical homeland public relations asset’ dead or alive on the eve of illegally invading Iraq to deepen U.S. control over key Middle Eastern petroleum reserves.  They were happy as Hell to hear that Lehrer was near death, just as ‘Dead Man Talking’ had become fully operational and we were locked and loaded for ‘liberating’ Iraq.  They’d even joked about having him killed for the project but some of us wondered if that was even necessary.  I mean Lehrer was already good at what he’s been doing ever since he died for real – putting all those pathetic latte-sipping liberals to sleep about the unbelievable shit we’ve been pulling at home and abroad, like occupying a country that posed no risk to us and doing it on totally false pretenses. It’s not for nothing we used to call PBS ‘the Prozac Broadcasting System.’ That’s part of why Lehrer was chosen: the changes in his behavior we were going to introduce wouldn’t have all that noticeable with him.” 

“You saw,” the Pentagon source allegedly added, “what we had to do with that snotty liberal asshole Dan Rather when he started mouthing off about Dubya’s draft record…. ‘I’m an American first and I’ll line up wherever the president wants me,’ Yeah, right. He’s lucky we didn’t snatch his body up for the project.” 

Neither the Pentagon nor PBS have responded to queries about the scientific breakthroughs and procedures that have allegedly permitted Lehrer to continue reading passionless yet nebulously patriotic “news” five nights a week for more than four and half years after his own tragic death. 

An anonymous CIA source is said (by “truth” researchers) to have suggested that undisclosed stem-cell and robotic advances made in California in late 2002 had “closed the deal on ‘Dead Man Talking”s viability.By September,” one researcher claims to have been told, “we were just waiting for fresh meat.” 

Obama “Fully Operational” By July 2004

The still sketchy allegations have some investigators wondering about numerous other public figures who have played critical roles in paralyzing, boring, depressing, and confusing the populace and deadening its underlying populist anger at United States domestic and foreign policies – some of the most reactionary, regressive, idiotic,   and (not surprisingly) unpopular (both at home and abroad) in the world.  Of special interest for those examining the possibly larger breadth of the alleged “Dead Man Talking” project are the Democratic Party’s chillingly machine-like presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Barack (“Love Your Oppressor”) Obama, daytime television paternity tester Maury Povich, NBC News anchor Brian Williams, U.S. Senator John F. (“Reporting For Duty”) Kerry, and former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle.  One anonymous source is reported to have claimed that “Daschle had to be removed from the Senate after an early ‘Dead Man Talking’ experiment went terribly bad in ways too terrible to discuss.”

Inquiry is focusing heavily on Pelosi, whose failure to pursue impeachment and willingness to fund the illegal invasion of Iraq have combined with her “hauntingly Pinocchio-doll-like appearance and movements” to make some researchers take a second look at claims that she died in a mysterious plane crash in Arlington, Virginia in January of 2006.  By one “truth” account, tapes containing “Mayday” reports from Pelosi’s corporate jet have been mysteriously “lost.”

Obama is said by some investigators to have been created from scratch in “a highly multicultural west coast lab” in the spring of 2003. “This guy — or whatever — came out of nowhere,” says  one researcher.  We are having a hard time matching up Obama’s facial images and eye motions before and after May of 2003. By the Keynote Address (in late July 2004), he was fully operational. It was actually a very conservative speech.”

Edwards Ruled Out

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has come under some scrutiny because of his seemingly ageless appearance and “always perfect hair,” but political investigators are now ruling him out. They say his insistent and increasingly fiery commentary denouncing growing class inequality and poverty in the U.S. is “inconsistent with the ideological profile ‘Project Talking Head’s’ directors were likely working with. This guy has been moving from lifeless to lively over time,” one examiner notes – “the opposite of the pattern you’d be looking for.  Cheney and Rumsfeld were trying to deaden the populace to class inequality and corporate domination and stuff like that, not just the illegal and imperialist nature of the war. They’d be much more likely to go with somebody like Obama, whose always using this tranquilizing smooth jazz persona and taking this ponderous, and professorial approach to talk about ‘healing the nation’s divisions’ and ‘getting things done across partisan lines’ and all that ridiculous feel-good ‘hope’ and ‘Kumbaya’ crap.”

“The other thing about Obama is they made him technically ‘black,’ which is perfect for confusing liberals and messing up the progressive Democratic base, especially in heavily Caucasian places like Iowa and New Hampshire.  Better yet, they might have worked up Hillary: she’s as dead as they come and she cranks out the one-liners at the debates like she’s reading from a finely tuned program, if you know what I mean.”   

No Need for “Science Fiction”?

According to noted evolutionary biologist Rahm Dohmsky, a leading Left critic of U.S. politics and policy, there is “no need for resort to bizarre and spectacular conspiracy and science fiction theories about the supposed covert creation of media and political zombies” to explain how and why people like Lehrer (who Dohmsky describes as “very much alive, at least in a biological sense”), Pelosi, Obama, Kerry, and Clinton are willing to deflect and deaden popular opposition to “so-called conservative, really quite extremist and regressive” U.S. policies.

Dohmsky says that “we already know more than enough” about how “U.S. economic, political, and doctrinal structures” work to “generate subservience to wealth and power – and profound contempt for the working-class majority – on the part of journalists, academics, politicians, and other privileged persons in the U.S.”

Retired business professor Frederick S. Sherman shares Dohmsky’s sense that leading elite educational institutions like Harvard (attended by Obama), Yale (attended by Kerry and Clinton), and Georgetown (Reid) play a critical role in socializing elite “liberal” and other politicians, journalists, and policymakers “to deeply distrust the people and democracy.”  Sherman places special emphasis on the role of the deepening concentration of economic and related media and political power into ever fewer corporate-multinational hands in explaining why people like “the supposedly deceased Lehrer” and the leading suspected Democratic “Dead Men” (and “Dead Women”?) behave the way they do. 

He notes that such conservative and “cautious” behavior is required by the big money business-class interests who make the gigantic campaign contributions and create the favorable media attention political candidates require to run “viable campaigns” under the rules of American “dollar democracy.”  The “behavior in question,” both Dohmsky and Sherman note, goes back long before the period when “truth” investigators think “Project Dead Man Talking” was initiated.

Against “Marxist Conspiracy” Thought

Retired Harvard political scientist Samuel G. Dumplington criticizes Dohmsky and Sherman for advancing a timeworn “Marxist” paradigm that was “discredited once and for all when the Berlin Wall fell.” Dumplingnton claims that the two Left scholars are advocates of a “conspiracy theory that isn’t much more sophisticated than the one they are criticizing.”

A recent discussion with Dumplington was briefly interrupted when a small amount of blue smoke came out of his left ear, his eyes snapped shut, and his torso slumped forward. Dumplington returned to finish the interview after being worked on by two anonymous technicians in a shrouded “medical” room adjacent to his den.


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