america isn’t america

what they don’t tell you growing up in america

is that america isn’t america
it’s the united states of america
the usa
and the usa is not south america
is not north america
is not the americas
the usa is the 50 states
plus scattered territories plus embassies
plus gunships and aircraft carries and submarines
and attack planes on the seas under the seas in the skies
the usa is military installations in 100 plus countries
and territories
and in space
the usa is not america
america is not the usa
they tell you it is but it’s not
america is bigger than that
and better than that
and the usa is not

Anatomy of Power

1 — The King of the World

The King of the World was having a bad day, a bad year, a bad era even. Everyone hated him. He did not understand why. Well, maybe a little he did. One thing was certain: the King of the World secretly hated the haters back. Being the King of the World came with that little price that LiunLuniLiun had long been willing to pay. But now things were totally ridiculous. The once exciting social bubble within which the King of the World had been free to move had grown smaller by the hour. It was scarcely safe for the King to relieve his bladder and bowels anymore without a security guard accompanying him right up to the lip of the toilet. And what dignity was there in the King of any World shitting in the presence of company?

The King of the World, also known as the President of the United States, could no longer sit on a private toilet and shit in peace without some wiseacre, some subversive, some goddamned Socialist live-streaming the event to the entire globe. The Universe itself was electronically subject to one indecent assault on official privacy after another with no relief in sight. The very stability of the Kingdom was threatened. The Kingdom – that global alignment of Bankers, Bosses, and their Businesses – this was what the King must preserve and enhance at all cost. Otherwise, for whom would he rule? The people? Fuck the people. The people did not care about the Kingdom. They cared solely about themselves. Selfish bastards.

The situation was intolerable, absolutely indecent: as soon as the King of the World would sit down to shit he would hear the unsanitary symphony of his royal flatulence decorating the World Wide Web, playing audibly on his daughter’s handheld device down the hall, often with running commentary and analysis by the goddamned Socialists. Socialists commenting on the King’s shit! In what righteous regime was a King forced to listen to the analysis of his own shit? For the love of the almighty dollar, the King could not parse what was worse, the analysis of his own shit or knowing that his daughter was listening to all that shit!

Other people shit too, by God, they should have to listen to their own shit for a change! The King was pissed.

Something had to be done now, goddamn it. Shit! The King did not swear in public. He scarcely swore anymore in private. Saying shit in public was more than the nation, any proper nation, could bear. Saying shit in private seemed to the King redundant, lacking in power, prestige, and presence. So what that this was a shitty world. No need to dwell on it. No need to add to it. Try telling that to the goddamned Socialists. Did they really think their own shit did not stink? Fuck them.

Fuck. There was another word that you could not say in public, not a King nor anyone else. No fuck in public. The nation could not bear it. What proper nation could? Sure you could hear the word almost anywhere but not in official rhetoric. Fuck, fuck, fuck. The King of the World rarely used the word even in private. What was the point? How unKingly to curse like a commoner, like a modern day serf, like a gun-toting, computer-hauling, debt-lugging vassal, like a piss-poor voter. The King had bigger things to say, or, at least he had used to, until his own shit was smeared all over everywhere, the world, universe, the beyond if there was a beyond.

The royal piss of the thing was that no one knew how the Resistance did it. How on Dearth had the Resistance invaded the White Palace of the King? The King liked to think of the White House as the White Palace. Why not? “House” was so mundane. Common houses were for common debtors.

The King had tried everything possible to keep his shit private. He and his personal security guard had worn earplugs and cranked rock music high enough to raise the White Palace roof. No luck. The Resistance filtered out the sonic blare and broadcast the naked flatulence of the King with the usual Socialist commentary and analysis. This forced the King to get rid of the music to better hear his own shit, to temper its entrance onto the global scene. For a King or President even more than for a peon or criminal, shitting in public was a shitty job that LiunLuniLiun nevertheless fully embraced. Someone had to run the world, and run it Right.

The White House latrine eavesdropping of the Resistance caused the King to more closely watch his diet. No beans. No eating late in the evening. A Kingdom deserved nights free of the King’s shit. The King exercised frequently to help control his shit, to make it regular, firm, targeted. The Kingdom deserved no less than perfect shit from the King, if shit it would be made to have. The King began to shit twice a day exactly, once at dawn while most of the Kingdom slumbered and once before dark after evening meals had passed into the majority of the Kingdom’s digestive tracts. Alas, soon it happened that most people in the Kingdom no longer set their morning alarms because the King’s dawn shit was so loud and public that it woke the workers every day. The people rose muttering, “Same shit, same King. Same Kingdom, same shit.” A lot of people would add the word, “Fuck.” Then they would shower to wash the shit out of their ears. Others would turn to their partner and fuck in deed. Then they would shower to wash the fuck off, before heading out into the shit.

Such was life on planet Dearth deep in the unforgiving Era of Climate Change. Dearth’s Climate was not the only thing far along in the process of change. Or so the Kingdom feared.

How did the Resistance capture the King’s shit? When had the spy technology of the Resistance surpassed that of the Spy State itself? How could the Socialists not be counteracted? Perhaps the only miracle was that the Resistance had not yet been able to secure on regular basis high definition video to go along with the high fidelity audio of the King’s daily shit.

Only the shittiest of knowledge can save us, the Socialists declared. Know your shit, the Resistance liked to say.

Future generations, should the human species survive, might be offended by the crappy audio and the cruddy use of the word “shit” but not this generation. The King and the Kingdom had seen to that. The people today were grateful for the reality made clear amid the official lies, distortions, and garbage emissions. Shit is the finest word in the English language, declared Victor Hugo in 1862, to freely paraphrase the cultural giant. He dubbed shit “the misérable of words.” Victor Hugo was the outraged author of possibly the greatest novel ever written, Les Misérables. The English translator of his massive three book novel refused to translate that single lowly word shit (“merde”) from French to English because deemed too offensive. Well, shit. In shit in Les Misérables was found life, refuge, victory. And the most shit-splattered people rose to the heights.

So, fuck. Every Age suffers from its own censors, despots, ideological bullshit. And every Age forms its own Resistance. The horrific difference was that this Age was the first Age that might be the Terminal Age of human civilization or even of the human species. It might be the end of human history entirely. There was no time to spare. Fuck that shit. Fok it. Hit that shit. The unconscionable heights must be brought justly low. And the Socialist Resistance must rise from the despised depths. The Presidency – that shit would have to be flushed away.

2 — The Fly in the Palace

The shitty situation seemed so dire that President LiunLuniLiun had called to the Oval Office for an emergency meeting much of the US Cabinet, along with the leaders of the US Congress. President Liun had considered including on videophone the six other Kings of the world, the Kings of China, Europe, India, Russia, Oceana, and Africa. A mix of technological and video fails prevented their inclusion. Not to worry, President LiunLuniLiun, who considered himself to be the King of the Americas as well as the King of the Kings of the World, vowed to fix the mess unilaterally. He smiled at those gathered before him very much the way a King Cobra smiles at its dinner in the weeds. The officials were positioned on decorative couches and ornamental chairs facing each other across a single coffee table upon which sat a silver bowl full of apples.

And then the Pomelo appeared.

“Okay,” said President LiunLuniLiun to those seated before him. “Forget the shit for now. What do we do about that … object?” He pointed to the silent hovering Pomelo, it might have been a drone but looked the plump size and cheeky color of a ripe pomelo, levitating like an alien six feet above the center of the Oval Office coffee table.

“Is that not a goddamned drone?” asked the President. “Am I not the one supposed to be approving hit lists for our drones blasting away in other countries? Why does this thing not look like a proper drone? And how does it hang over us as if we ourselves are a goddamned target?”

And so it was that the President of the United States, LiunLuniLiun, the King of the World, once again began to swear. “Would you look at that shit! Goddamn!”

“What the hell?” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa.

“I’ll kill it,” said General KrushinKarvinKilman, rising menacingly toward the Pomelo, punching his right fist into his left palm.

“Let’s hold off on that, Kilman,” cautioned the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, CreepyCoupyCutthroat. “We don’t know its nature, its origin, its manner of being.”

“We don’t understand its source of power,” said the Director of the National Security Agency, AlseeAlhearAlspy.

“We don’t know who funds it,” said the Secretary of the Treasury, DeadlyDollarDealer.

“Don’t worry,” said the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, PlanetPrisonPolice, tapping his smart phone. “I’m ordering the arrest of ten thousand people who might know something.”

“Make it twenty thousand,” said CIA Director CreepyCoupyCutthroat.

“Fifty thousand,” ordered NSA Director AlseeAlhearAlspy.

“Do I hear one hundred?” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa.

“We must force this drone to negotiate,” said Secretary of State ShriekiShammiSharlatan.

“Can it even communicate?” asked President LiunLuniLiun. “Does it hear? If not, how do we threaten it?”

“Do you speak English?” asked the US Congressional House Leader, ThumpThumpThuggun, of the hovering Pomelo.

“I’ll make it legal to torture the thing,” said Attorney General LawkemupLibelemLawless. “Waterboard it, electrocute it, hang it upside down, pull a rope around its genitals…”

“It looks suspiciously gender neutral to me,” said US Senate Leader RichiRichRich.

At that moment, the Pomelo marked the forehead of the King of the World, LiunLuniLiun, with a bloody capital letter “A”. The word “ASSASSIN” occasionally flashed in place of the single letter.

The Cabinet gasped. The President used his smart phone as a mirror to view his forehead. “Shit!” He ducked under the desk. The letter moved on the desktop marking exactly the spot where the President endeavored to hide.

General KrushinKarvinKilman tried to swat the Pomelo out of the air with his right hand, which passed through the object as if it were a hovering hologram. Nor did the attempted swat affect the stamping of the President with the bloody letter A.

CIA Director CreepyCoupyCutthroat tried to capture the Pomelo in a clear glass of water, capping the top of the glass with a binder full of intelligence notes, to no discernible effect. The Pomelo shimmered through the water and continued to brand the President with the bloody letter A.

NSA Director AlseeAlhearAlspy ordered the lights turned off in the Oval Office, thinking that the Drone might be an optical illusion. The Pomelo gleamed brighter, spearing the President’s head with the bloody letter A.

“Goddamn it!” shouted Vice President DupaDupaDupa. He fired his right shoe at the Pomelo. The shoe sailed through the air, bounced off the granite bust of Martin Luther King and smashed through a collection of Native American pottery.

“Nice shot, Doopy,” said FBI Director PlanetPrisonPolice.

Attorney General LawkemupLibelemLawless held his smartphone near the Pomelo in a non-legalistic attempt to shield President LiunLuniLiun. No effect. The bloody letter A seemed permanently inscribed on the President’s head.

“The King of the World is marked for good,” vocalized the Pomelo. “Or evil. However you might perceive it.”

“It talks!” shouted Secretary of State ShriekiShammiSharlatan. “Shut it up! Quick!”

A grim silence gripped the Oval Office.

President LiunLuniLiun settled back into his chair.

“Are you a Drone?” asked the President of the Pomelo. “Are you a Socialist? Are you with the Resistance?”

“Are you a bloody shitty assassin?” vocalized the Pomelo.

“This Drone is a Socialist?” said General KrushinKarvinKilman. “I thought the drones were on our side.”

“Well, fuck,” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa.

“There will be trouble if video of this gets out,” said Attorney General LawkemupLibelemLawless.

“Kill the Drone!” shouted Vice President DupaDupaDupa standing on one shoe and pumping his fist.

“Sit down, Dupa,” vocalized the Pomelo. “The Battle of the Cabinet is over.”

“Never surrender!” cried Vice President DupaDupaDupa.

Then upon the center of Vice President DupaDupaDupa’s forehead glittered the phosphorescent image of the buttocks of an enormous man.

“President LiunLuniLiun is properly imprinted,” vocalized the Pomelo. “Vice President DupaDupaDupa is properly mooned. Who’s next?”

A few officials plastered their hands to their foreheads. Some cowered, others glowered.

“You get the fuck down!” screamed Vice President DupaDupaDupa at the Pomelo.

“You have the right to remain silent,” said FBI Director PlanetPrisonPolice, staring at the Pomelo. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present, during any questioning. I order you to surrender.”

“No fear,” said Attorney General LawkemupLibelusLawless checking his smartphone. “CNN, FOX, CBS, and the rest – mum’s the word. No hint of what’s going on here. We can count on the major media to keep the lid on.”

“We need to know if it’s armed,” said General KrushinKarvinKilman.

“Are you armed?” asked CIA Director CreepyCoupyCutthroat of the Pomelo.

“Of course,” vocalized the Pomelo.

“Oh, fuck,” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa. “I knew it.” He used his smart phone as a mirror to view the reflection of the huge butt on his forehead.

“Armed how?” asked CIA Director CreepyCoupyCutthroat.

“We’re working on it,” said NSA Director AlseeAlhearAlspy.

“Too late,” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa. He held up his smartphone for all to see. “The Socialists are broadcasting us live to the world.”

“They scooped CNN.”

“And FOX.”

“And CBS.”

“And NBC.”

“And ABC.”

President LiunLuniLiun raged. “What happened to cable and network broadcast standards?! I kissed the backside of every major media mogul in the land for the past three decades! And this is their thanks?!”

“Uh, Sir?” said ShriekiShammiSharlatan. “The major media have provided protection for the presidency for years. We couldn’t operate without their cooperation and protection.”

“I demand Standards, not Protection. Goddamn it, Shrieki. This is not a woman’s issue.”

“No, Sir. Most certainly not. Sir.”

“We’ve been had,” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa, massaging his forehead.

“Don’t worry,” said FBI Director PlanetPrisonPolice “We’ll fill the prisons even fuller than they already are. And build more.”

“Oh shit,” said Secretary of State ShriekiShammiSharlatan viewing her phone. “The Socialists are broadcasting demands. We need to shut them up.”

“Who are they to make demands upon the Rulers of the world?” asked President LiunLuniLiun.

“I’ll tell you who we are,” vocalized the Pomelo. “We are the People who you will begin to serve at long last. And we will help you: First, within the week, acting for the Resistance and the Socialists, I will provide everyone in the world with free wifi service. Anyone with an internet device will be able to go online at will anywhere in the world. The same with phones: any phone, any call, anywhere, anytime … free. Secondly, within the week, I will erase all consumer and municipal debt and all other public debt everywhere for the People – universal debt erasure. Thirdly, I will take complete control of the financial markets, and construct equitable and democratic financing and credit for all. Fourthly – go ahead and test if you wish – I have at this precise moment assumed command of all electronically controlled weapons systems in the entire world. You are down to guns and bullets now, and some primitive chemical weapons. However, I will neutralize all of those as need be.”

“Then we are fucked,” said Vice President DupaDupaDupa.

“View this turn of events as you wish. We will also move quickly to full employment, though involving types or work that you might not recognize or admit to be work. And with this badly needed food, shelter, and heath care. Universal.”

“This is no proper dialogue,” said Secretary of State ShreekiShammiSharlatan. “You are not even polite.”

“You are very thuggish,” vocalized the Pomelo. “Murderous. All of you in your basic policies of financial slaughter and military conquest. Thug thieving, thug killing to the last. There is one more item you may wish to consider. All high officials will wear bright orange jumpsuits – prison garb – until the institutions of power are revolutionized. Simple as that. Dress however you wish, you will appear to everyone to be wearing bright orange jumpsuits. You will be more visible than ever before, a walking warning to all. Please appreciate that you will not be alone in this. There will be far more high level bankers, lawyers, corporate executives and board members than government officials decked out in bright orange. After all, these executives are your masters. You are their top tools. The bankers and corporate executives may soon come to their senses to help you make necessary changes. If not, you will all sport orange prison wear forever. Good day.”

With that, the Drone disappeared from the White Palace, and the world was begun to be remade.

3 — Piss on the Roof

Thus began the Blacklight Era of geopolitics and high finance. The government of the United States of America was driven even further underground than it already operated, followed soon by the Wall Street titans of finance and their economic machinations. The leaders of the mighty nations and the executives of finance around the globe disappeared themselves, as best they could, embarrassed to be seen branded in bright orange prison garb in public. Not even the silhouettes of the highest most powerful officials were visible as they sat in their offices, chambers, forums speaking into titled and branded microphones, dealing in matters of political and financial consequence using blacklight computer screens, blacklight teleprompters, blacklight phones.

And just as quickly did the Blacklight Era end when the Resistance began pissing on the roof. Whatever the substance, it looked like piss constantly cascading over the ruling officials of the world, a blood red, brilliant yellow piss flowing in orange waves over the jumpsuits of the high officers and executives around the world. Thus were the Rulers of the world, the Kings of Dearth, and the high executives and officials, forced back above ground.

4 — Sword Island

The seven Kings of Dearth reacted by calling a convention of the mightiest of the mighty. There was only one problem. The mightiest of the mighty could not decide upon whose land to hold the meeting needed to reassert control and discipline of the world. Finally the Kings agreed to build a floating island for the almighty convention in the center of the Pacific Ocean.

“We come in peace,” they said to one another on the anointed day without laughing.

“Conqueror’s Island.” That was the name the Socialists gave to the phony giant lily pad upon which the old guard hosted the summit. And so it was, one sunny day the seven Rulers of the world met on Conqueror’s Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean dressed in their bright orange finest. They comforted themselves by the fact that at least they had not been made to adorn themselves in shit. Their twice daily rectal symphonies globally broadcast seemed to satisfy the opposition. At high noon, the seven Rulers of the world paraded into their meeting: Ameriking, Chinaking, Euroking, Indiaking, Russiaking, Oceanaking, and Afriking, the Lords who had dominated the world of Dearth before the rise of the Resistance and the Socialists. These seven Kings liked to think of their global domain less as Dearth and more as D’Empire.

The President of the United States did not consult with any leader of South America but simply assumed himself King of both North and South America and attended the summit as Ameriking, the King of the Western Hemisphere. Ameriking considered himself to be the true King of the world but there seemed to be for now no disabusing the six other Rulers that they were Kings upon the globe as well. A great fracas broke out as the Rulers jockeyed for seating at the circular King’s table. Each King felt that he should sit at or near the head of the table wherever that might be. Though the table was round, the Kings had deduced that there must be a top spot somewhere.

“Cease and desist!” shouted King LiunLuniLiun. “I have a proposition!”

Ameriking LiunLuniLiun suggested that each King measure his sword in open display then sit in order from longest to shortest. The Kings roared and whipped out their swords and began to take firm measure. The more potent Kings made fun of Russiaking for having a pale and short sword, whereupon Russiaking began stabbing his mockers. Further chaos erupted.

It was nothing new for a few Kings to pick on Russiaking for having a small pale sword. Not that Russiaking lacked for nuclear gonads. All knew that at any moment Russiaking could launch one of the greatest nuclear ejaculations in the world, getting off the impressive USSR-era arsenal.

In fact it was Afriking and Oceaniking who most lacked for nuclear Viagra. What these two impoverished Kings wanted by way of missile potency, they made up for in sheer energy and mass. Though not yet able to extirpate foes in nuclear fashion like the other Kings, they threatened to smother you with their enormous heft and breadth.

Ameriking, Chinaking, Euroking, Indiaking, and Russiaking strutted around sword and missile first, leaving Oceaniking and Afriking to bring up the enormous rear.

The sword missile of Euroking was tremendously active, second only to the ceaseless rocketing of Ameriking.

Russiaking occasionally let fly his devastating package but rattled his thing far more often than he actually whipped it out.

The sword of Ameriking was rooted in an entire hemisphere.

The sword of Afriking stemmed from a massive continent.

The sword of Chinaking no one wanted to diddle with because if it diddled with you, you found it crushing.

Oceaniking’s sword was a bit laughable, it must be admitted, however lashing and eager.

The sword of Indiaking, subcontinental and monstrous, was growing ever bigger, though an ancient sword, often flaccid.

Chinaking carried by the far the broadest sword though not the biggest. Chinaking’s sword was so wide that the old Man did not need to boast as much as the others. Everyone knew the thing was huge.

However no sword no matter what size intimidated Ameriking who could do more with his sword than all the swords of all the other Rulers combined. And so he did. Ameriking was constantly exploding all over Dearth and bragging about it to his own ends.

Youthful exuberance, suggested some.

Pure stupidity, a few ventured.

Pathology, proclaimed others.

“Fucking evil,” vocalized the Pomelo.

5 — The Classes of D’Empire

Prior to the arrival of the Pomelo, the Supreme Order of Dearth had consisted of the Dictatorship of the Seven Kings. Beneath these Kings were the three classes of D’Empire: the Owners, the Vassals, and the Slaves.

The First class: 70 million Owners, which included Executives, Officials, and Bankers. They deferred only to the 7 Kings. Their job was to give orders.

The Second class: 700 million Vassals. The Vassals were the politicians, intellectuals, and managers. Their job was to control the third class and to thoroughly indebt them on behalf of the owners and the Kings.

The Third class: 7 billion Slaves. Sometimes the slaves were referred to as “people.” The slave people made up the vast bulk of the population. Their job was to shut up and obey. The more fortunate of the Slave people were free to amuse themselves to death, or to otherwise distract and poison themselves into oblivion. The bulk of the Slave people worked themselves to death or finding no work were imprisoned or allowed to rot and fall into the nearest pit.

While Ameriking and Euroking tended to Rule over realms of more-Vassals-than-Slaves, and while the other five Kings tended to Rule over realms of more-Slaves-than-Vassals, the 70 million Owners dispersed themselves widely across the lands, though concentrated in the realms of Ameriking and Euroking.

The 70 million Owners owned the lives and the debts of the 700 million Vassals, for the profit of themselves and of the Kings.

The 700 million Vassals controlled the lives and the debts of the 7 billion Slaves, on behalf of the 70 million owners.

The 7 billion Slaves ate shit and died. Or, as the needs of the Kingdoms required, were slaughtered or led to slaughter one another en masse.

The 7 Kings via the 70 million Owners via the 700 million Vassals via the 7 billion Slave people themselves encouraged each and every person in the world to consider him or herself to be an owner, for all the Slave people to think of themselves as owners. The 7 billion Slave people were PRed night and day and were offered plenty of debt to allow themselves to technically own things, sometimes even land, for a while. How else to get the Slave people deep into debt? How else to prevent the Slave people from rising up and slicing off the heads of those who owned them and who controlled them and who hammered them in so very many ways? The 7 billion Slave people must delude themselves, and the 700 million Vassals must delude themselves into thinking that they were as good as any person alive, that is, that they too were owners, of stuff, of part of the World, of their very lives. Nothing could be farther from the truth, for the 7 billion Slave people and the 700 million Vassals were pretend owners who were in fact actual debtors. The Slaves and the Vassals pretended to own and control their lives, when in reality the fact that any of them were allowed to even exist was entirely under the ownership and the control of the 70 million Owners and the 7 Kings, that is, of the First Class and of the Supremes.

Such of was the Official Order of the Kings of Planet Dearth — US President LiunLuniLiun, he of the longest Sword, the biggest Missile, the King preeminent among Kings.

The Socialists and the Resistance had been making different plans, of course, about a more humane distribution and shape of power that deviated far from the official line. Many of these deviant plans began with a deep understanding of the fundamental nature of what was and what was not deserving of shit.

Jim Webb, Campaign Daughters, and the Selling of the US Presidency in the Post WWII TV Era

Jim Webb’s name has spread across media lately as a potential serious US Presidential candidate heading toward 2016. And by one time-tested rubric at least, Jim Webb is the person most likely to be the next President of the United States.

Eight of the eleven TV Era (post-WWII) US Presidents elected to office had daughters in their twenties or younger at the time of the Presidential campaigns who went on to live in the White House. Zero TV Era Presidents had “campaign sons” who went on to live in the White House. And only three TV Era Presidents, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush had no “campaign children” at all to join them on the campaign trail and in the White House.

Eight Presidents with campaign daughters in the TV Era, three Presidents with no campaign children, and zero Presidents with campaign sons.

By this rubric, Jim Webb is the likely next President of the United States. He has two campaign daughters who would live in the White House, while no current top contenders (Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney) have any campaign children who would live in the White House.

There actually were two sons of US Presidents in the TV Era who did live in the White House, but they were not “campaigns sons”: John Kennedy’s live-in son was born after the election (and thus after the campaign), and Gerald Ford’s live-in son could be part of no campaign because there was none: his father automatically ascended to the presidency due to Nixon’s resignation.

In the TV Era, no person has successfully campaigned for US President with a son who would live in the White House, and only 3 Presidents have campaigned with no daughter who would live in the White House, while 8 of 11 TV Era Presidents elected to office have had campaign daughters who lived in the White House.

How important are campaign daughters to the image of a US President in the TV Era?: the Associated Press reports that “The table behind Obama’s desk is full of family photos – a wedding picture, shots of his girls as toddlers, a picture from the day he announced for president and more – photos that he says remind him “why I’m doing what I’m doing.” Out the window, the president can watch daughters Sasha and Malia climb on the playscape erected for them last spring.”

No US President has successfully campaigned having a son who would live in the White House since Franklin Roosevelt moved in with 4 sons – and 2 daughters – in 1932, during the Great Depression.

And no US President has successfully campaigned with a would-be live-in son only (no daughter) since Herbert Hoover in 1928 (whereupon the US economy almost immediately collapsed into the Great Depression).

Candidate Webb could only be thrilled by the facts: 11 post-WWII, TV era Presidents elected to office: 12 “campaign daughters” who went on to live in the White House; 0 “campaign sons” who went on to live in the White House; only 3 Presidents with no campaign children in the White House.

Can it not be that campaign daughters who would live in the White House are highly useful campaign props – propaganda agents – for achieving the US Presidency in the TV era? It is uncontroversial that young women sell products, not least in the propaganda age. Surely they help sell the presidency.

Race may now also be an important factor. President Obama’s young daughters were the first non-Caucasian “campaign daughters,” and would be immediately followed by the young daughters of impending candidate Jim Webb. Webb’s two campaign daughters (one stepdaughter, one biological daughter) who would live in the White House are Vietnamese-American.

Webb is a Vietnam War novelist and ex-US Senator who speaks Vietnamese and re-married to a Vietnamese woman. Should the Mediocracy begin pressing Jim Webb’s campaign daughters about their father’s position on climate change and the abolition of nuclear weapons, the two issues that will determine the continued existence of the human species?

And unless the system of state capitalist banksterism is thrown out and replaced with something like Ellen Brown type banking revolutions, most of humanity will continue to grovel as perpetual serfs to the lords of corporate-state finance, and the fate of the species will remain grim.

Presence of campaign daughters will not guarantee Presidential victory, of course. Campaign daughter Amy Carter could not carry Jimmy Carter to re-election over campaign childless Ronald Reagan. Subsequently the two campaign daughters (early twenties) of Michael Dukakis could not defeat campaign childless George Bush. And not to forget that the three campaign daughters of Al Gore, while helping him to win the popular vote, could not help him carry the Florida ballot recount to win the electoral vote, though this result, one might be forgiven for thinking, could be due to the presence of Gore’s campaign son. Campaign sons are by now an all but taboo creature of years gone by.

Best to not even think of running for US President anymore without at least one campaign daughter on hand and, naturally, no campaign son. So the campaign childless candidates for 2016 should feel great urgency to create the most awesome efforts to defeat Jim Webb. Perhaps they can adopt. Or bow even more deeply to the commands and big bills of Wall Street.

Similarly, if Webb fails to cozy up to Wall Street more than he is said to have done in the past, then he could trot out a dozen campaign daughters, two dozen or more, and not even be invited to the official debates. Without Big Money’s big campaign money, how does one reach the masses? One must not fail to be an utter lackey to the banksters, the ultimate funders for any candidacy, campaign daughters or no.

On the other hand, Jim Webb might be able to bypass Bankster funding and ride social media to presidential victory. If so, he would be the first post-TV Era President and the first Social Media Era President. Is there any other way, currently? The public is too disorganized to bring its will to power, as is so badly needed. For now, the Banksters rule. Unless social media can at long last conquer the banks and lift the popular will to power.

LIVE-IN CAMPAIGN DAUGHTERS ONLY ARE FOUND IN THE TV ERA:
Obama: 2 daughters
Bush: 2 daughters
Clinton: 1 daughter
Bush: 0 children
Reagan: 0 children
Carter: 1 daughter
*Ford: 1 daughter (and 1 son, early twenties) *no campaign
Nixon: 2 daughters (early twenties)
Johnson: 2 daughters
Kennedy: 1 daughter (and 1 son, born the month after the President was elected)
Eisenhower: 0 children

Truman: 1 daughter (early twenties) 

BOTH LIVE-IN CAMPAIGN DAUGHTERS AND LIVE-IN CAMPAIGN SONS ARE FOUND PRE-TV CAMPAIGN ERA:
Roosevelt: 2 daughters, 4 sons
Hoover: 2 sons
Coolidge: 2 sons
Harding: 0 children
Wilson: 3 daughters (twenties)
Taft: 1 daughter, 4 sons
Roosevelt: 2 daughters, 4 sons
McKinley: 0 children
Cleveland: 0 children
Harrison: 0 children
Arthur: 1 daughter, 1 son
Garfield: 1 daughter, 4 sons
Hayes: 1 daughter, 4 sons
Grant: 1 daughter, 3 sons
 
 
POST CIVIL WAR – SINCE ULYSSES S. GRANT’S ELECTION IN 1868 – OF THE 28 US PRESIDENTS:
 

17 of 25 Presidents have been elected with campaign daughters who would live in the White House

9 of 25 Presidents have been elected with campaign sons who would live in the White House, but only 5 of 21 Presidents since 1892 and 0 of 11 elected Presidents since WWII (when 8 of the 11 elected Presidents had campaign daughters)

2 of 25 Presidents have been elected with only campaigns sons who would live in the White House (Coolidge and Hoover); while 8 of 11 Presidents have been elected with only “campaign daughters” since WWII (1945), the TV era

6 of 25 Presidents have been elected with no campaign children to live in the White House (Cleveland, McKinley, Harding, Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush)

 
 
 

StrikeTube

Holy Shyt Day

I went to school the other day to read a book to my daughter’s first grade class, and you know it’s almost Christmas and the school is very careful to call it the holiday season instead of, you know, the main Christian party time, or the Jewish festival of whatever, or the Muslim feast of who knows what, but the only books they give me to read are these Santa Claus hang your stockings by the fire type books about Christmas.

Oh sure there was also a book about just snowmen and the little Muslim boy in front of me said he did not want to read the Christmas book, and I said, no kidding, little boy, I don’t blame you one little bit, but your religion is make-believe too, just like Christianity, and just like Judaism, and just like every other religion that claims a God. Because it’s all a lie. People say they know and they don’t know. Nobody can know that any God exists and yet they claim that they do. Nobody. It’s all a lie and the only books they give me to read are these lying religion books. Well to hell with it all!

“To hell with it all!” I shouted out to the first graders. “To hell with all religions! Gods are lies! Make-believe! To hell with lies!”

“Wait, wait,” said Tommy the first-grader. “Hell is a Christian word. A religion word. You see what I’m saying? You are saying to hell with hell. It doesn’t make sense!”

“Well, holy Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and Yahweh, you are correct, my astute young pupil. When I say to hell with hell, I mean, Down with hell! Down with religion! Down with lies! Stop lying to us, you liars, for God’s sake!”

“Sir!!!”

“Oops! My mistake. No Gods, No Masters! Okay, come on now, everybody clap: Down with religion! Down with lies!”

I was clapping and all the first graders were clapping and shouting and singing, “Down with religion! Down with lies!” The Muslim children and the Christian children and the Jewish children as happy as happy can be, as happy as befits a great festival of holidays: “Down with religion! Down with lies!”

The first grade teacher had passed out and was lying in a lump on the floor. A few of the children went over and looked at her and pronounced, “She’ll be okay. She does that sometimes. This is a tiny bit more extreme than usual but she likes to act like we are killing her when we don’t pay attention and when we don’t do what she says and when we don’t even hear her in the first place. How are we supposed to know when to hear her? How are we supposed to know when to listen and when to think for ourselves?”

“Precisely! Yes! Yes!” I could have wept. Instead I sang with the children: “Down with religion! Down with lies!”

All the children rose to their feet and skipped and pranced and traipsed around the room. Oh it was wonderful! History and philosophy and recess wrapped up in one! Continue reading StrikeTube

Life in the Wartagon

By 2010, at latest, official life in the United States of America, as in the rest of the privileged world, had devolved into a circus freak show. The only officials and educated people in the world who did not know the great corruption of ruling circles did not wish to know. One had to commit to being a freak of negligence and delusion to rule under such conditions. Unfortunately, the sane were not strong enough to stop the insane. And so the ever so polite and decorous but brutal and murderous official freak show rolled on, infecting and obliterating the bodies and minds of people far and near.

Even among the insane, they said it could not be done.

When the great President Doller FirstStrike announced a few generations ago that the mightiest of all nation states The Incorporated Estates of Wartagon (IEW) would one day extend its military headquarters (formerly known as the Pentagon) to the entire world, literally and physically, no one believed him. Well who is laughing now?

Stiel Drumhead lived all his life in the Wartagon and wished never to leave. Born in the Wartagon he believed he would die in the Wartagon because it was in the Wartagon where he thrived. Stiel was the new man, a Wartagon Man. Stiel modeled himself after the IEW’s great General become President, Doller FirstStrike, who signed the legislation officially changing the name of the Pentagon to the Wartagon.

Stiel Drumhead married happily though for many years remained without child. He felt he hardly need reproduce as there were so many of his type on Wartagon grounds. Wartagon lifers seemed to sprout spontaneously from the handy prefab walls now produced on Wartagon bases throughout the world. Stiel’s wife, Turret, was the sensible sort who did not see children as a necessity. Not that there was anything wrong with children. She was sure she could happily produce six or seven if she felt the need, and she would happily lay her body down to any pressing IEW call for extra soldiers. In the meantime she served the main body of the IEW, the Wartagon, in other ways.

Exactly per the vision of the great President Doller FirstStrike, the Wartagon at long last existed by block tunnel and cavity into and through, beneath and above not only every continent, ocean, country, state, province and county but within every city of any size, and into many towns. The Wartagon extended from its original nexus, the old Pentagon, in the form of long tunnels of endless block walls made from an off-white cement mixed with coal ash for extra strength and sporting the occasional small window not big enough to squeeze a body through.

These Wartagon tunnels, or tentacles as they came to be known, ran along every interstate and international roadway, along every rail line and transport artery into all major settlements known to, of, and by humankind. Necessarily, much of the tunnels consisted of nothing more than empty hallway, especially across the vast expanses of mountains, plains, and deserts, but the building dollars meant something to the regional economies and even more to the contractors, and in any case the Wartagon occasionally opened the vast empty tunnels to incredible long distance feats of indoor running, biking, walking, and related adventures. Much of the civilian housing that these tunnels ran past was not in great shape, which made the Wartagon works appear even more reassuring to passersby no matter how much of the sturdy structure sat entirely empty over a great expanse. Fortunately the tunnels scarcely needed repair as they were built to be all but indestructible against any civilian uprising.

The power and supremacy of the Wartagon infrastruture physically and psychically stretched over Earth like a celestial octopus with a main body the size of Mars and tunnel-like tentacles long enough to reach to the Moon and back. The octopus exercised by tossing objects whether explosive or not all about Earth and out to and around the Moon and on into the universe depths beyond imagination. The Wartagon octopus performed all these feats while clasping the planet tight to its bulk as if never to be released.

As a patriotic boy, Stiel Drumhead doodled a grand cartoon of the Wartagon as just such an Earth-hugging octopus. He pressed the image onto T-shirts and sold the banner-like gear at Wartagon ballgames. He did so under the censorious and enduring eyes of the Wartagon adults, which may have poked at bit at their seen-it-all-if-not-quite-yet energy and fatigue. A few of the kindlier moms bought the shirts. The Wartagon was always keen to cultivate patriotic entrepreneurs, the younger the better, so he sold the shirts with tacit Wartagon approval, just as he and his fellow Future Warriors of IEW had been selling flag buttons since age three. They performed skits on and about IEW holidays and invasions in military fatigues throughout kindergarten, pre-school and grade school. Nothing remarkable in that. It was the sort of thing that had been produced and celebrated even in civilian schools long before the Pentagon name change to Wartagon. A proud people in a proud land with big guns.

Meanwhile the Wartagon brick-and-mortar missile-throwing octopus suctioned and swarmed increasingly everywhere that dared to be anywhere-but-there in the command and control of the Wartagon. Stiel Drumhead desired nothing but Wartagon life for his own personal well-being and satisfaction. Stiel’s loving wife Turret Gunnar felt the same. Or, almost.

Stiel had heard of the outside world of course, the civilian world, don’t get him wrong. He perused the pictures of chaos in The Wartagon Times. He watched blockbuster films produced off Wartagon base. These civilian films struck him as a lark on the one rifle, and on the other rifle as signs of a universe rarely well-ordered, prone to riot, and, let’s face it, deeply ungodly. Stiel wasn’t going anywhere. He could tell you that.

When on rare strangely impulsive occasion Stiel’s wife Turret Gunnar wished to leave Wartagon it was never on a lark. Not that she ever did. Occasionally she dreamed. But why should she? The world outside produced danger as a rule. Everyone knew. Danger for everyone at all times everywhere. Except for the lucky few off base born to great privilege. Or just lucky. Neither of which applied to Turret.

Turret Gunnar felt herself to be the furthest thing from lucky. Blessed, deeply blessed, but not lucky. She did not care to be, did not wish to be lucky. She wished to be blessed and she was, she knew she was, and that was all that mattered in this world, and in any other, The Other, World. Turret Gunnar had faith like most everyone she knew. She wore her faith like a necklace on the inside. Modestly but proudly. And with faith, anything was possible. Anything. Even luck, which nevertheless she looked right straight down her humble but proud little nose upon.

Sure it made Turret sad that Wartagon saw its fair share of bumps and bruises. Turret believed the violence on Wartagon to be maybe not that bad, war by passing war and that it became maybe easier to bear each and every training crash by accidental explosion by friendly fire. Wartagon violence was predicable, after all, almost controlled. Civilian violence was chaotic, scary, wild. Wartagon violence was spectacular, familiar, righteous. Civilian violence was strange and barbaric. Violence on planet Wartagon was for the ultimate cause, one could always comfort oneself. It was worth it. Besides, what choice did a poor trooper have in this world?

The ultimate cause of causes in all the Wartagon world, it went without saying, was the defense and the infinite growth of the Wartagon.

What else? The Wartagon was all.

Certainly plenty of Wartagon jobs required regular patrols off base. However, Stiel and Turrets’s Wartagon jobs were more pure than that. They never once had need to leave the compound. Wartagon’s tunnels and Wartagon planes took them to any and every Wartagon locale where their presence was required.

Did Turret Gunnar and Stiel Drumhead never go outside?

Don’t be ridiculous! They played and lived and worked and loved out and about the grass and trees, the woods and waters as often as not but they never went off base.

They did not need to. The Wartagon holdings were immense the world over. They did not feel they ought to. The loyalty of Turret and Stiel was even more immense. Proud base babies through and through they were. They would be the first to tell you. At least, they used to be. As they aged, they no longer were so quick to jump to the exaltation of themselves in relation to the Wartagon. They were more quick to consider that other lives might be equally worthy to theirs. In theory at least. In the meantime, in reality, they had their own high priority jobs to do and gave serious consideration to little else. So they remained Proud Base Babies, oddly secure and privileged IEW workers as they hopped around the world from job to job occasionally coming under attack

There was another T-shirt of, by, and for the young Stiels and Drumheads and Gunnars everywhere:

Proud
Base
Baby

One word stenciled directly over the other in solid formation. Stiel had worn the shirt proudly as a child and planned to buy his own children the same should he and Turret at some point embark upon a family.

No one was more proud of her Wartagon life than Turret Gunnar even if she sometimes wondered what the outside world might be like for real. She scarcely dared think of venturing into the surprisingly vast reaches off base. What could it mean to a base baby to go off base? Nothing good, surely. In any case the Wartagon offered the ultimate in freedom and the next-to-latest in shopping. Free health care too but one did not speak too loudly about free anything other than free-dom.

What an entity was Wartagon! an honest-to-goodness living outgrowth of the inanimate, tentacular endless limbs pods attached, detached, covalent to the main octopus, accessible by Wartagon Airlines (WA). Massive firing grounds, highly structured campuses, tropical beaches, and hundreds of golf courses were found on Wartagon holdings and could be enjoyed the world over. Any Wartagon base of any size basically mimicked a midwestern suburb. If you got good at wrangling your duties just so, you could spend winter in the tropics, summer in the arctic. Or what need was there to ever leave a base that held both beach and golf? Every schoolboy and schoolgirl in the Incorporated Estates of Wartagon could recite by heart the major territorial acquisitions of the IEW, whether by conquest, purchase, or fiat, year by region, nation by installation. Stiel Drumhead could go further and name the commanding officer of the governing sectors of the military at each point and time of acquisition.

Born a “base baby” like her loving husband Stiel Drumhead, Turret Gunnar knew herself to be if anything more inescapably married to the Wartagon than to Stiel. She had lived and loved both the place and the man all her life, or may as well have. Together they attended Wartagon Corrections Institute, main campus, pre-kindergarten through college where Corrector Stiel Drumhead now held the prestigious chair of Corrector of Freedom for the Program of Vassal Relations (formerly PR) in the Department of Economic and Historical Necessity.

Who would want to live in the outside world as mere vassal when one could work in the belly of the Wartagon as an agent for security and order, as a militant entrepreneur for the power and the glory of all that is good in the world, as determined disciple of the late great President FirstStrike, as an unapologetic apostle of peace? The Drumhead choice was stark indeed.

Turret felt the same, almost like Stiel.

She labored as medic in the infirmary where she tempered and treated an unending flux of melted faces, incinerated limbs, and crushed skeletons.

More spiritual work was hard to find.

Or even to imagine.

Turret Gunnar felt truly she was doing the work of the great Warrior in the sky. And no one could argue otherwise.

What Stiel Drumhead understood, as esteemed Corrector of Freedom for the Program of Vassal Relations in the Department of Economic and Historical Necessity, was power. He knew that the walls of the Wartagon were moving ever outward to encompass the planet and universe. What Stiel struggled to understand was people’s inherent stubbornness in accepting reality. Why did they not all rush the walls to get inside, not in conquest but in acceptance, to live the live of the secure and the ordered and the strong? Granted, not everyone could be blessed with the privileged sight and knowledge of the Wartagon that came with being born inside it, at least not yet. But people should know. By now, long since they should know and embrace history. By even as far back as the turn of the millenium the military budget of the Wartagon had accounted for essentially more than half the budget of the state that would be the IEW. Morever, even at that pregnant time the military spending controlled by the Wartagon’s predecessor the Pentagon had amounted to more than was spent by the entire rest of the world combined on military endeavors. Even then at the second millenium, the military owned more than 200 golf courses around the world, a ski resort, and some of the most spectacular beaches in the tropics, many dozen jets for the Generals. Munitions manufacturing account for the vast, vast majority of all the manufacturing in the country, which also no coincidence was the lead arms seller on the planet.

Just so today did the Wartagon control the vast majority of land across Earth, along with its oceans, skies, and outer space not least. Young teenage warriors with joysticks sitting in plush air conditioned comfort at Fort Anywhere deeply safe in the Homeland piloted flying tank-like drones against desperate rag-clad insurgents crouching pathetically behind crumbling stone walls in some forsaken desert half the globe away. One hardly need to paint this picture that everyone knows: the Wartagon’s unmatched military prowess. Yet somehow this incredible power fails to sufficiently impress the vast majority of vassals around the world who continue with their lives as if they should not be scrambling to the nearest Wartagon base for cover, the ultimate protection and security that only the Wartagon can provide.

Stiel Drumhead tried not to judge too harshly. After all, he had never faced the Wartagon test: Do I or don’t I sign over my life to the Wartagon? He was a proud base baby who tried not to let it make him conceited.

His father had been crushed to death by a 2000 pound bomb that slipped its leash, and not long after that his mother bag-and-pilled herself to death either over the weight of  the disaster or some other terror. But this sort of thing happened everywhere not just on base. And while it was true that Turret’s uncle had shot and killed his wife in front of the judge on the day of their divorce and that Turret’s mother had been killed in a raid against her supply convoy in Iraq and that Turret’s father died in a freak training incident with dummy fire (one little spark, one big gas tank explosion), these sorts of things happened in the natural world too. Nature was red in tooth and claw, and the Wartagon was red in steel and powder. That said, the more Stiel thought about it the more he figured choosing life in the Wartagon over life on the outside might not be the no brainer he had first thought.

The young warrior in back of the class wearing sunglasses seemed somehow familiar to Corrector Stiel. No matter that he could not place him and did not know why he had shown up today and slipped into the back row. The young warrior was neither enrolled in the course nor as young as the warriors who were. Corrector Stiel assumed a former student had dropped in to bend his ear after class about an old idea or two. Maybe some new field application relevant to past theory. So when class ended and the young warriors filed out, Corrector Stiel was not surprised to find the young man staying on, though it seemed odd that he remained seated in back.

“Can I help you?” Stiel called out.

The young warrior laughed in a way that Stiel had not quite heard before. Stiel examined the man more closely as he uncoiled himself from the back seat and came forth. The man seemed only a few years older than his students physically but psychially, well, he had that battle wizened air of bloody, hard, and heavy duty. Plus…there was something…else.

“Correct Drumhead, I’m Sergeant T. J. Slew.”

“Yes, Sergeant Slew, it was some years ago.”

“Counterinsurgency Theory and Vassal Relations. You were the most capable Corrector I ever had.”

“I’m surprised to hear you say that, Sergeant Slew. As I recall, at the end of the course you came up to me very much like today and told me you did not believe a word I had said the whole while, and by consequence you did not believe a word you had written to ace the course.”

“Is that what I told you? Not quite.”

“‘Well something like it.”

“I told you the theory was fine but none of it applied. I told you that our job in the field was to kill people faster and quicker than ever before, and to find more ways to kill people faster and quicker. I told you our job was to kill and not to politick. I told you our job was to gut the enemy not rinse his mind. Corrector, I sensed even then what I later confirmed that you cannot travel half way around the globe to Afghanistan or anywhere else and convince anyone of anything that they do not already believe. And you can especially not do that at the point of a gun. No matter the COIN theory. No matter the vassal relations techniques. What on Earth would make you think it could be done?”

“The Wartagon training manuals. They all show the effective use of counterinsurgency theory and vassal relations technique. Look at the case studies!”

“The case studies are cherry picked. Some are distorted. Others may be faked. It makes for good politics, provides politicians cover, gives everyone lofty things to say to everyone else in case there is anyone around silly enough to believe it.”

“Sit down, Sergeant Slew.

“Why don’t we.”

“Mine is the last class of the day. We have the room. And that’s what I mean, you did not believe a word I said or a word you wrote to earn the best marks in the class.”

“School is all about lying, is it not, Corrector?”

“On the contrary. You are suffering from cynicism of the battlefield, Sergeant. It’s not uncommon.”

“It’s more common that not, you mean.”

“You may be right.”

“I believed in your professionalism, Corrector. Your course was nonsense, but I respected the professional way in which you conducted it, and I consoled myself that there was nothing anyone could teach me on base that I would not have to learn for real on the field of battle. But you at least passed on a sense of your great professionalism.”

“I don’t know whether to thank you or send you cursing out of here.”

Sergeant Slew shifted his hips and pulled a gun out of a thigh holster. He held it on his lap, barrel pointing forward.

“Do you recognize this?” asked Sergeant Slew

What Stiel Drumhead recognized was that he suddenly felt in no position to send Sergeant Slew anywhere, a thought that struck him simultaneously as unusually disturbed and disturbing. Guns on military bases were no big deal. Stiel Drumhead was an esteemed Corrector at the Wartagon, mightest of all military bulwarks. This was his classroom not the young warrior’s. What I say goes, he thought, but realized Sergeant Slew had pointed out out how he could not care less what the Corrector thought, said, or wished.

“Recognize it? Who would not? It’s a real old timer. Colt .45. Back in the days of the Wild West.”

“Who slaughtered who then, do you remember?”

“That’s a bleak view of the age.”

“No, it was wild. Pioneers, settlers, Indians, and the Army. Plenty of slaughter to go around. In the end the Army always wins. It only seems to go away and that everyone else wins. But the Army does not go anywhere. You’ve got Wartagon bases all across the West and the country and the world. The Wartagon grows bigger by the year. The whole planet is becoming one complete base. Have you traveled to Afghanistan, Corrector? And to the massive bases even in Kansas. Dorothy’s old home. Dorothy of Oz. Dorothy is dead.”

“You spend too much time in the field, Sergeant,” Stiel Drumhead said gently. “I guess it can’t be helped. But you need to rest up.”

” Don’t worry about me.” With that Sergeant Slew aimed the Colt .45. He fired a shot through the center of the dry erase board behind the Corrector’s lectern. “Teach those warriors well, Drumhead.”

Sergeant Slew restored his sunglasses to his face and left the room in no apparent hurry.

By the time Corrector Drumhead was able to move he could not decide if he wanted to.

Seargeant Slew was gone. The shot had been heard outside though it took awhile before anyone figured out which room it had occurred in. A young officer found Corrector Drumhead sitting as if paralyzed.

“What happened?”

“A former student of mine came into my classroom and fired a hole through my dry erase board.”

“Are you hit?”

“Do I look hit? He was sitting right here, right beside me. We were sitting side by side. He showed me his Colt .45 – ”

“The Wild West gun.”

“– then he wasted my dry erase board.”

“A former student? Do you know his name?”

“I know exactly who he was. He wanted me to know. He introduced himself to jog my memory. Yes of course I know who he was. But I hate to tell you.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s sick. Sick on war, sick of war, sick by war, I don’t know. He’s ill. Goddamn! Who shoots a goddamned dry erase board!?”

The young officer about fell over. To no one’s knowledge had Corrector Stiel Drumhead ever cursed before.

The room began to fill with officers. A few remembered to have the base shutdown: no one in, no one out. Corrector Drumhead was asked to repeat what he knew by a growing group of warriors. When he finally mentioned Sergeant Slew’s name, “Sergeant Slew is dead,” a senior officer announced. “He was killed a months ago in Afghanistan. I knew him. And I know how he was killed. Sergeant Slew did not shoot that dry erase board.”

Corrector Stiel Drumhead blinked. He stared at the bullet hole in the dry erase board.

“How?”

“It’s classified.”

“Of course it is.”

“I’m sorry. It just is.”

“That makes perfect sense.” Corrector Stiel Drumhead stood up at last. He walked to the dry erase board continuing to study the bullet hole. Then he ran his finger around the tiny edge. “How many died with him?” he asked the officer.

“Pardon, Sir?”

“How many died with him?”

“Uhhh, well, Sir, I didn’t say that – ”

“It’s classified, correct?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Corrector Stiel Drumhead turned on the officer. “How many? A dozen?”

The officer reeled back. “Come with me, Sir.” He clasped the Corrector on the arm.

They went straight to the base commander’s office and were received alone almost at once, where the situation was explained. At which point, the base commander ordered the senior officer to pat down Corrector Drumhead. “I apologize for this, Corrector.”

“Oh course. I’m glad to be cleared this way.” No Colt .45 or any other gun was found on the Corrector.

“Now I think we can safely say that you did not shoot your own dry erase board, Corrector. So tell me: what do you know about Sergeant Slew’s death?” The man asking the question was Base Commander General Brill Flashpointe.

Stiel Drumhead shook his head with regret. “Slightly more than you, General, Sir. I did not ask for such information. I can only tell you that Sergeant Slew faked his own death and that he killed those other soldiers.”

The three men had been standing in a rough triangle. Two of them, after a moment spent staring at Corrector Drumhead, slowly sat down. Stiel Drumhead stood alone, awaiting orders.

“Please, sit,” said General Flashpointe. Stiel did. “Let me ask you something, Corrector Drumhead. Have you left base recently? Let me be clear. Have you ever left any Wartagon base for the field ever?”

“No, sir.”

“So the rumors are true.”

“Rumors, sir?”

The General waved it off. “The problem is this, Corrector Drumhead. And this you will not repeat in any portion to anyone ever. We have it on the best of Army intelligence that one entire remote base in Afghanistan was overrun in the middle of the night. There were 100 percent casualties. Do you understand what I’m saying? All fatalities. Then the bodies were gathered in a mass and blown up with high ordinance explosive. And then what was left was burned with enough gasoline to torch a city. This was Sergeant Slew’s base, his unit. His personal effects along with those of everyone else on base who was not Afghani were found among the char. So it was clearly an inside Afghan job. With plenty of help from the outside no doubt. But let me make this perfectly clear: the Afghan personnel all survived. The Wartagon warriors all perished. And now you tell us Sergeant Slew is alive. What are we to make of that?”

“General, Sir, I don’t know. I do know that Sergeant Slew just shot a hole through my dry erase board. He is my former student. I know nothing of the great tragedy of which you speak. Yes, I am changing my story. I never lied to as Wartagon professional before I lied to you a moment ago. I don’t know who Sergeant Slew may have killed, if anyone. As soon as I was told with great authority that the Sergeant Slew with whom I had just chatted and shared gunfire was killed three months ago, the cogs in my mind turned. I put 2 and 3 and 4 together and got: soldier snapped; soldier too clever to catch; soldier capable of anything; soldier has great blood in his past; Wartagon misinformed. I guessed that something terrible had happened that the Wartagon was anxious to keep quiet, General. I guessed because I knew that guessing and hitting in the vicinity of reality was the only way you or anyone was going to sit down with me and tell me what really happened to or around Sergeant Slew. Or what you think really happened. Clearly, it did not. You can know that now. Of course those men are dead if you say they are but Sergeant Slew was not one among them even though you say he was. Ergo. He snapped. He killed them. Why he came to see me and shoot my dry erase board I have no idea. Though I’m sure the investigation team will wish to take down our brief conversation before the shooting as best as I can recall it.”

“That’s just brilliant,” muttered General Flashpointe. He plucked the big shiny plastic EASY BUTTON off his desk and with a fierce snap of shoulder and elbow and wrist and no small force of back he flung it across the room. It bounced off a side wall and careened across the floor.

Corrector Stiel Drumhead’s life would never be the same. Wartagon command sent him off base into the field for the first time ever. He half suspected the Wartagon of trying to kill him. Possibly the high brass would not mind if he were disappeared, beheaded, exploded knowing what he knew. Or what he and they thought he knew. He could not blame them and was sure he would feel the same in their position.

Just so, Stiel Drumhead found himself where he found himself: rifling through the mountains of Afghanistan in search of the Afghanis who had long since fled the incinerated base. He hauled gear from village to village without much hope far out on the fringe of the heart of Wartagon holdings, Greater Oila. What was he doing here? What was the Wartagon doing here? What was anyone doing here? Invade and hold Iraq to control huge oil wells. Invade and control Afghanistan to manage strategic pipelines. Figure out what really happened at the pyroed base so that it could be prevented from happening again. Stiel was under strict orders: Learn the real facts of the night of the great massacre. Only then return to base. Stiel understood the orders to be a kind of death sentence, whether professional or mortal it hardly mattered. And he agreed with the logic. A Wartagonian’s role depended upon his capabilities. Stiel had a new Wartagon job to do and he was going to try to do it to the best of his abilities. The assignment happened to be his first off base. What remained of absolutely no surprise to Corrector Stiel Drumhead was that this first venture off Wartagon base might also be his last. An inglorious end, no doubt, but then he had never signed up for a hero’s role. He was a steadfast Wartagon lifer, nothing more, nothing less. He thought of Turret warm and safe on the main Wartagon campus. He thought of the family they had never had. He searched for the truth of catastrophe by fire in the icy mountains of Afghanistan, Greater Oila, as the Wartagon knew it.

Stiel thought incessantly of the mystery of Sergeant Slew. He repeated his name to everyone, everywhere he went. Usually cold silence followed but then finally came total revelation. “I know what happened.” An Afghani named Dahr told Stiel and his interpreter. “Step outside.” From the back of the local eatery the man soon emerged with a box of pictures.

“These are pictures of my sister and cousin.”

The sister and cousin lay in dirt, dead, ripped apart by gunfire.

“They were working in the field when Sergeant Slew and his men killed them for fun. You see what trophies they took.” The pictures showed Dahr’s sister with three of her fingers missing, a toe, and half of her teeth smashed out. Dahr’s cousin had lost both ears and thumbs.

Dahr had worked on Sergeant Slew’s Wartagon base. His family had remained in this distant valley and were killed with no realization of their relation to Dahr.

The slaughter did not stop there. The next day the Wartagon warriors killed one of their fellow soldiers who was outraged by the cold-blooded slaughter and threatened to not keep quiet, Joe Campbell. Sergeant Slew set him up on the next patrol and friendly-fired him to death. Slew wrote the battle report too: death by enemy fire.

Dahr heard the news in the gossip of the soldiers. When he learned of his family’s own fate he fled the base for home.

And then the incredible happened. Months later, the younger sister of Joe Campbell appeared in his village, asking questions. Dahr told Cassie Campbell everything, the fate of her brother, his family, himself. He showed Cassie the pictures of his slaughtered kin, blasted like vermin, butchered like meat.

Cassie ventured a crazy plan. If she could get the men on base to trust her, she was sure she could kill them all.

Dahr never thought she could do it. He thought she would be found out and sent home.

He helped smuggle her onto base, where she surprised Sergeant Slew by who she was. She romanced him. It was easy as could be in a desperate and isolated war zone. She became the great base secret, Sergeant Slew’s covert pet and lover. She conned him out of much physical violation of herself. Even so it was like rape every time. Even Sergeant Slew was put off by it. She explained and apologized. She said she was basically incapable of intimacy due to some nonexistent abuse she had suffered in the past. Of course Sergeant Slew took advantage of her nevertheless.

Dahr could not admit to Stiel Drumhead the help he gave Cassie, though it was clear enough that Dahr and other locals provided Cassie all the explosives and the detonator, the knowledge of blast angles.

Cassie promised the men under the command of Sergeant Slew a special film of herself, a striptease to reward them for hiding her and, also, it was understood, for not raping her, for letting her be only the Sergeant’s girl.

At midnight, all the men gathered to watch. All the Afghanis had been warned off by Cassie and Dahr from a distance and had left base never to return.

Sergeant Slew boasted all week of the skin tape he was helping Cassie edit for the men. He had even forced her to tone it down, to cut out entirely the part she wanted to open the film with: a close-up shot of her asshole filling most of the screen staring straight into the lens. She put it back in, behind his back. Some of the rest of the tape too he thought seemed a little grim, the sucking of the rifle barrel as she brought it down into her throat and the way she put the rifle deep inside herself between her legs and pretended to shoot it.

Watching the Cassie make the film it seemed to make sense to Sergeant Slew why she was so cold with him. Because she was so cold in general. He thought he should feel excited by this and wondered why instead he began to feel uneasy.

As the start of the midnight film drew near, Sergeant Slew began to feel unexpectedly nervous. He no longer wished to share his Cassie with the men, not even on film. He felt for her. He had not expected to. He had not expected to feel human again after his time trying to survive on the Wartagon killing grounds. He had killed this young woman’s brother. He had killed young Afghani women like her. He had killed and killed and dodged death himself. And now Sergeant Slew perversely, it was so perverse even he could see it, had fallen for the sister of the soldier under his own command that he had purposefully slain. Nervously he left the room immediately before the start of the film. He slipped out the back. He had not seen Cassie slip out before him.

A moment later, the world exploded. Knocked face first into sand and gravel, he woke up stunned to see Cassie tossing cans of gasoline and oil onto the raging fire. None of his men had staggered up out of the blast. None could, none would. The cans of gas and oil began to heat and explode. Cassie screamed and cursed.

She never saw him.

He killed her with his knife through her throat.

The only witness was the fire.

He began to cut off her fingers and had to yank her body away from the fire as it grew more intense. He cut of three fingers and sealed them in a baggie. He knew with brilliant clarity exactly whom to return them too.

Then he threw his identifying effects into the blaze.

Sergeant Slew dressed and traveled like an Afghani. He returned the fingers to Dahr. They circled one another like wild beasts. Slew heavily armed. Dahr lightly, taken by surprise. They both managed to survive the encounter. Sergeant Slew escaped the country with a simple idea of what he might do, who he might see, how he might find a way not to be killed by the Wartagon. He would have to kill the Wartagon before it killed him. He thought strategically. How would he do it? Where would he start? How would he make himself superior to the Wartagon? He had carried the Wartagon’s unhinged logic in a distant land to its murderous end. He could carry it no farther. Now he must avenge himself. Now he must strike back at the Wartagon. But how to do so and survive?

He needed to strike the Wartagon in its heart but in a way that it would not strike back. Sergeant Slew returned to the Wartagon and the classroom of Corrector Stiel Drumhead.

In the Afghan town, Dahr gave the withered fingers to Stiel, who sent them off to be DNAed. Their identity verified, the Wartagon resorted to a standard cover-up that mainly consisted of silence and censorship on grounds of Wartagon Security.

Corrector Stiel Drumhead’s assignment was unexpectedly complete.

He returned home to Turret.

He killed himself the next day.

He had gone off base. And it had killed him. Turret was as certain of the cause as she was of the effect. Poor Stiel.

She took a few days off from work. She remained on base. Then she got on with it. Turret needed the Wartagon and the Wartagon needed her. Stiel, she believed, the old Stiel, the Stiel she knew and loved, would be proud.