Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds: Good Afternoon, this is the Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds, how may I bring you joy?

Santa Claus

Even Santa has to answer to the US Government.

Anonymous Pentagon Official: Cut the crap, Nils, you know why I’m calling.

VDUEHM: You’ve got me confused with the big man, Chuck. I can’t see you even when you’re awake.

APO: We’re providing your sled with fighter jet escort in a $3 billion promotional video, Nils, and this is the 218th — count ‘em, Nils — the 218th defective puppet you’ve given us, under warranty, and your people — if I may call the little goblins “people” — are not helping.

VDUEHM: What is the name and serial number of the puppet?

APO: The hell you think his name is? Hamid Frickin Karzai, you third-rate bureaucratic … you can’t even see over a bureau, can you? You know what, Nils, if your big man had given us a reasonably small sack of coal instead of each and every puppet we’ve ever picked up on Christmas morning, we’d … we’d … well, we’d have had to think up an entirely different reason for our wars, that’s what!

VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.

APO: I don’t have all damn day here, Nils. You want the full list?  Let me put it to you this way. Remember that last puppet, Maliki, who you claimed was not under warranty …

VDUEHM: When you intentionally, maliciously, or negligently destroy the puppet’s primary or temporary nation or society, the warranty is voided in its entirety, as found in rule number …

APO: You can imagine where I might suggest you stick that rule book, Nils. Tell me this: who is your best customer in the entire world?

VDUEHM: The innocent child who wishes good only for others and experiences a depth of gratitude …

APO: Who’s your second best customer?

VDUEHM: We give presents, Chuck. Did you think you’d dialed Saudi Arabia? I can have someone connect you. Please hold …

APO: Hold on! Hold on! My god! Whose chestnuts do you have to roast to get some service around here?

VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.

APO: He’s refusing to sign on for 10 more years and beyond.

VDUEHM: Beyond what?

APO: Beyond the next 10 years.

VDUEHM: So, why don’t you just call it “indefinitely”? Why mention 10 years if you’re going to add “and beyond”?

APO: You wouldn’t understand marketing, Nils. You give stuff away, remember?

VDUEHM: It is my understanding that he said he would sign on if you changed a few things. Is that true?

APO: Yeah, yeah. Just a few little bitty things like turning the sky upside down. We had Kerry try to get one of Karzai’s underlings to sign on, but Karzai blocked that. Talk about an aggressively defective puppet. This is asymmetric warfare, Nils!

VDUEHM: Kerry?  John Kerry? The guy who is opposed to and in favor of every war?  The guy who tried to sell missiles-on-Syria as a radical overthrow by violent pacifist fanatic moderate secular extremists that would change everything and have no effect whatsoever? That guy?  That guy? Wait, and you’re the expert on MARKETING? Oh my god, wait a minute, hang on, I gotta tell Rudolph this one …

APO: Nils?

APO: NILS!

VDUEHM: Chuck, I’ve got an answer for you from Rudolph. He says you’ll go down in history.

APO: Really?

VDUEHM: No, not really.  Listen, this is what your puppet Karzai said to you: stop killing civilians, stop kicking people’s doors in at night, engage in peace talks, free prisoners from Guantanamo, refrain from sabotaging next April’s elections, and he’ll sign your paper.  Now, you had this conversation on the big man’s knee.  He asked you if you were sure you wanted the democratic puppet and not the monster puppet.  No, no, you said, you wanted the democratic puppet. You were all about spreading democracy, Chuck.

APO: That wasn’t ME!  That was the guy before the guy before the guy before the guy before me!

VDUEHM: It’s the same warranty, and your puppet is performing as required. If you’d like to submit a complaint …

APO: I’ll tell you what I’ll submit, Nils, I’ll submit that melting ice isn’t healthy for elves. I’ll submit that the guy after the guy after the guy after me is going to get a call from you begging for a bit of terra firma, and I’ll submit that he’s going to remember the exact number of defective damn puppets you will by that point have provided. Do you like freezing water, Nils?

VDUEHM: I’m transferring you to my boss.

APO: I thought so.

Photo by Sam Howzit released under a Creative Commons license.