FIRST 13 EPISODES
“Men confuse heaven’s radiant stars with a duck’s footprint in the mud.” –Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Once upon a time in a land very, very nearby, a revolution occurred in a single masterstroke. It began not with a bang nor a whimper but with a laugh.
It happened like this: During the President’s State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives Chamber in the US capitol, the people hijacked the airways. Or so it appeared.
Early on in the speech, the President’s body was swallowed and replaced by that of an orange cartoon duck. The President’s face was stuck onto the body of the orange duck, and stuck onto the President’s face was a blunt and feral mustache like that of Adolf Hitler.
To no one attending the speech in the House chamber was this stupendous transformation visible, neither the mustache nor the duck body. It was merely broadcast to everyone watching by TV and computer throughout the world.
The mustached President duck filled the screen.
The duck tucked its wings to its sides when not gesticulating its presidential points, its tail feathers perky, a beautiful wildflower orange, though tinged with stains and streaks of brown that might have been mud, or dung. Behind the podium: bare duck legs and webbed duck feet.
Question: If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like the President, what is it?
Answer: Business as usual.
And the mustache?
Imperial presidencies are not pretty.
Especially not in imperial states like the USA.
Which was not the half of it.
Everyone else in authority in the House chamber was transformed in exactly the same way: out popped the same disturbing Hitler mustache and the same bizarre duck body. The authorities sat with duck legs crossed or dangling from their seats or tucked up beneath their duck bodies: the Vice President duck, the Secretary of State duck, the Secretary of Permanent War duck (check that, the Secretary of “Defense” duck) and all the Representative ducks and Senator ducks of Congress. They sat behind Hitler mustache in bright orange cartoon body, stained brown. To clap, they smacked their wings together. And when they roared their periodic approval or disapproval of the President duck, they sounded like beasts from some horrible nether world – “Bravo!” “Boo!” “Hooray!” – and not like ducks at all.
Offsite, the handlers of these august officials were mortified. Watching the State of the Union by TVs and computers, they saw with the world the Hitler mustache and the orange duck bodies.
“My God, they’re not human!” This handler was slapped on the head and knocked over by other staffers who growled like rabid wolves. The stunned individual picked himself off the floor and slipped out of the media center never to be heard from again.
Most of the handlers and executives responsible for broadcasting the address soon recovered from the shock.
“Cut to commercial!” They clawed at the air. “Go now!”
Passions aside, it did not seem right to cut entirely from the President during the State of the Union even though he had been made to speechify from behind a Hitler mustache in the body of an orange duck, stained brown. So the executives ordered the technical workers to kill the video and keep the audio.
For a moment it worked. The networks cut to luminescent screens bearing various corporate logos. The speech continued, the President unaware of having been transformed by way of infamous moustache and orange duck body. The crisis seemingly averted.
But then the orange duck came back on screens throughout the world, this time with a full duck face and a talking bill, no mustache. The duck’s bill moved in precise rhythm to the President’s voice. The duck stretched its wings and waddled, pointing its wingtips for rhetorical emphasis. Corporate logos as background.
Staffers and executives stared, stunned. The rest of the world laughed anew.
“Kill the logos!” The officials frothed. “Kill the logo screen now!” Apart from the crisis, this cry could only have sounded treasonous to corporate ears. Kill the logos? Perish the thought.
But kill the logos they did, these mighty captains of commerce, scrambling now in face of a bright orange duck speaking with the voice of the President.
The duck remained. Orange on black. Gesticulating with its wings, craning its feathered neck, mocking the rulers and the ruling class by mimicking the President’s speech. The duck moved about the stage grandly addressing the world.
And then the President duck showed a naughty streak of the type one rarely saw from high officials in public. The duck went over to a corner of the screen and crouched down a bit, and took a little shit right there. The shit too was orange, stained with brown.
The duck waddled away from the glowing pile as if nothing unusual had happened. The speech continued.
Before long, the pile of shit dissolved into the blank background. The speech resounded as never before, the declarative voice of the President broadcast in the image of an orange duck, streaked with mud and dung.
The duck delivered the State of the Union with great aplomb, pausing from time to time to preen or to nod commandingly while accepting applause from invisible authorities.
This great act of sabotage set the people of Earth talking as never before. Did the President really deserve the mustache of Hitler? Why put the President in the body of a duck? Why make the duck orange? (No one questioned the mud and dung in its feathers.) Who planned and directed this technological feat, this tremendous guerrilla ambush? Which group? Which organization? Which individuals? How had it been achieved? What would happen next? The people of the world wanted to know.
So too did the authorities.
None moreso than the National Political Police (aka, the FBI). The computers in the FBI’s cyber crimes division lit up as never before, an overload of official activity that threatened to bring down the local grid on its own, even before the people’s hackers helped out by bombarding the system with sufficient bogus electronic requests to choke and kill it.
When the FBI system rebooted there was only one problem, and it filled every screen: the bright orange duck reciting the President’s State of the Union speech in a continuous loop.
The only way to kill the duck was to cut power to all FBI computers, and to all government computers everywhere, and to all Fortune 500 corporate computers. Not an option. So the officials and executives were forced to resume business around the lecturing image of the President duck.
The officials sent emails from beneath the President duck’s ass. They wrote memos around the President duck’s talking bill. They accessed the internet around the President duck’s downy couched privates. Any audio they tried to listen to was constantly overdubbed by the President duck’s State of the Union speech.
After several days of near total disruption proving the power of the people by way of the duck, a number of computers were freed from the President duck’s interference: but only those computers actually doing the work of the people.
The computers doing the bidding of the corporate owners of the world remained blocked. The guerrillas had examined the best polls to determine the real opinions of the people in order to target corporate and governmental computer activity accordingly.
Sheer unjust force meets sheer just force. Oppression and aggression meets liberation and resistance. The officials claimed the duck arrogantly played God. The people felt the duck stood in for them, by mocking corporate state power and pretense.
Blocked by the speechifying President duck were computers in the Department of Permanent War (that is, “Defense”), the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Injustice (that is, “Justice”), the Department of Theft (that is, the Treasury), and so on. Computers were blocked on Wall Street in all the ruling financial houses. Computers were blocked all across the menacing corporate world.
When the President returned to the White House and watched part of his looped speech in the form of the cartoon orange duck, for a moment he wondered if he might boost his popularity by appearing amused at the spectacle.
That moment quickly passed when he saw the part with his face speaking from behind the mustache of Hitler. Soon the President declared an “all-out war” against “the treasonous insurgency of the terrorist cyber guerrillas.” He appointed the Cyber Czar at the FBI to lead the charge to exterminate the duck.
There were a few problems. The “terrorist cyber guerrillas” were completely invisible and apparently untraceable, and for the time being at least, invincible.
No agency, no group, no expert cyber scientist or genius engineer could stop the ongoing broadcast of the President duck. The only option was to pull the plug, but in so doing, the government would be pulling the plug on its own electronic lifeblood.
Another problem: the people. They enjoyed the duck immensely. No matter that the state demonized this colorful act of resistance as “cyber terrorism,” the people supported the duck and the duckotage. The people spoke frequently of the duck with laughter and appreciation and gathered everywhere, in urban neighborhoods, in suburban communities, in rural areas to begin efforts to nominate the duck itself as candidate for President.
Despising the duck: the corporate owners of the USA and the world and their lapdog governments, bought and paid for. So the authorities vowed, and vowed again, to take down the duck and the “treasonous terrorist guerrillas” responsible for mocking the voice and face of the corporate state. Same old vicious story: the officials prepared to destroy whole seas of people in order to catch the fish swimming within, the fish supported by the people as they fought back against the force of the corporate state.
The authorities began implementing plans to create a Vietnam and Chile and El Salvador and Iraq and Afghanistan all over again, except this time on a far bigger scale, and far closer to home. The enemy sea this time was the people of the USA, along with the whole general populace of the world.
Thus was launched Operation Pluck the Duck, the latest CIA-military collaboration. Only moreso: this time designed to jumpstart the latest, greatest, and maybe final World War, in this possibly terminal phase of human history.
In the meantime, the duck ruled. It commanded screens far and wide. It caused the officio-execs’ war to begin like the peoples’ revolution had begun, not with a bang nor a whimper but with a laugh.
Operation Pluck the Duck?
The name was no more asinine than dozens of military operation names of the past.
Only now there was a crucial difference. The people of the USA loved the Duck. As did the rest of the world. They loved this mocking orange enemy of the corporate state.
Though the duck was a colored creature, it was neither brown nor black, the color of typical victims of USA aggression. Mostly a brilliant orange, the duck was a color the people of the USA could readily relate to.
The fact remained, the military of the USA wreaked most of the damage around the globe, with its millions of soldiers stationed in hundreds of countries, occupying, invading, bullying by way of endless armaments, disposed to kill, maim, and threaten.
Meanwhile, the military budget of the USA remained approximately equal to the military budgets of the entire rest of the world combined.
And whether or not the people of the USA owned up to the outrageous and gruesome fact of their conquistador nation state, only they could stop their military most effectively; only they could counter the CIA and FBI; only they could control their own government; only they could outlaw corporations and banks to put control of national resources, services, and the economy, into the hands of the public, the only place such power belongs in any democracy.
“We hold these truths to be self evident…”
Only the public of the USA could best rise to the defense of the duck, as the duck had risen to the defense of the public.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands…”
Through it all, the supreme question remained: How would it end? As a victory for the people, spanning race, gender, and even class to some extent, or would things stay as is, as a victory for the owners, the rulers, the wealth that constantly demanded more and more power, and virtually no equality, no justice, no guarantee of human rights for all, no democracy?
It was the people versus the authorities who, in ruling, overruled the people. It was the day of the duck, the hour of the owned and the impoverished, the revolution of democracy again and at long last.
Either that or a mere video stunt ahead of its time.
For the moment, at least, the duck had risen to power. Would the people continue to rise? Would this be a winner-take-all-unparalleled-at-any-time-in-history uprising of the debtors and the doers? What would become of the duck and the people? What would be the fruit of the duckotage?
“‘Birds of a feather may flock together but ducks are gods.” –The Ducks’ Book of Wise Sayings
The President of the USA never appeared on TV or computer again, having disappeared into the form of the orange cartoon duck. Even archived footage was transformed every time it played.
Only the President’s voice remained. His visual turned forever into that of an orange cartoon duck, stained brown.
All other powerful corporate and state officials were similarly transformed into orange cartoon ducks in all electronic forms. Corporate media had forever been changed. News anchors and prominent reporters were transformed into orange ducks on all channels.
Military officers appearing on TV or by computer appeared as orange ducks, streaked with mud and dung. Sir, yes, sir! General duck, sir!
A clandestine group calling itself The Peoples’ Hour claimed responsibility for the electronic interventions.
During the second day of the Duckotage a dancing image of the orange duck delivered a statement:
We are The People’s Hour.
That was all.
No other details whatsoever.
In those first few days, The People’s Hour affected only authorities in the USA.
But within a week, Canadian corporate and state figures were also electronically transformed, along with authorities from countries on every continent.
Less than a month after the initial appearance of the orange cartoon duck standing in for the President of the USA, The People’s Hour broadcast their second announcement:
The People’s Hour began with a group of individuals in the USA working for liberty, justice, equality, human and social rights for all people everywhere. We are now a global organization and part of an ever growing global movement.
Such were the words from The Peoples’ Hour. Their mocking orange creation blazed forth whenever the authorities dared open their mouths before cameras: the cartoon duck. Within a month, powerful corporate and state officials were transformed electronically in every country.
Some observers thought the presidents of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela might be spared, but not so. They all received the electronic orange duck treatment by The People’s Hour. Nevertheless, the leaders of these countries were among the very few heads of state to celebrate the efforts of The People’s Hour and their orange duck working so visibly for social change and popular revolution.
And then the quacking began.
When the authorities tried to shift their operations increasingly to radio and other audio, The People’s Hour sprinkled the officials sentences with quacking sounds and various other duck noises: the flapping of wings, water splashing, honking and squabbling. Random quacking mostly.
“My fellow” quack “Americans…” quack, quack “I promise” quack, splash “you” quack “that we” quack-quack-quack “will find” quack, splish “these cyber” quack” terrorists” quack-quack, whoosh! “and we” quack “will” quack-quack “hold them” quack whoosh! splash! “accountable” quack-quack-quack-quack “and stop” quack-quack “their reign of terror” whoosh! splish! splash! quack-quack-quack, honk!
“Don’t do it!” he was told. His advisors, his wife, his children – the look in his dog’s eyes, the sound of the rain sheeting off the White House bedroom window, the forever prick of photographers’ flashes – all tried to discourage the President of the United States from going on camera to denounce the duck.
“Although it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, my fellow Americans, my fellow peoples of the world, I assure you all, it is not a” quack “duck” quack “in my case.”
At which point a six year old girl was overheard to say to her mother: “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then why doesn’t the President just shut up?”
By prior agreement, the camera remained on the President and the President only. The official ducks in the House chamber applauded politely, safely offscreen. Bored at not being visible, approximately half of the official audience soon fell asleep.
The President duck continued: “I embrace this opportunity to speak directly to you once again, my fellow Americans and my fellow people of the world beyond, even if, for the time being, I must appear in this silly form as an orange cartoon duck. It could be worse.”
All at once, unbeknown to the president, a devil’s horns and pointy ears appeared upon his image as duck. Duck as devil, a Devil duck.
Within a few moments, the Devil duck disappeared, and the orange cartoon continued its waddle and shuffle.
“It may take awhile, but we will, I promise we will bring these terrorist cyber duck guerrillas to justice.”
At which point, the six year old girl said, “Duck gorillas? Mommy, what’s a duck gorilla?”
“I don’t know, Dear. I think the President is having a bad dream.”
“How can a duck be a gorilla?”
“He means a terrorist, Dear.”
“But don’t terrorists use guns and bombs, Mommy?”
“Not these terrorists, Dear. These terrorists use the power of the image.”
“But, Mommy. Aren’t terrorists supposed to make you afraid? I’m not scared of these ducks. I don’t think they are terrorists. Or gorillas. I think these ducks are funny.”
“Well, Dear, I suppose they mean well.”
“Can terrorists mean well, Mommy?”
“Well, I guess these terrorists aren’t terrorists, Dear. The President just calls them that.”
“But why, Mommy?”
“He doesn’t know what else to call them. He wants us to be afraid.”
“Of a duck?”
“Or, well… I guess.”
“Mommy, I think that president is a few feathers short of a whole duck. Don’t you?”
“I suppose so, Dear.”
“Look at him.”
“He’s very funny, Dear.”
“And I” quack “promise,” said the President, “to continue to appear before you” quack quack quack quack quack “to go on like the actor Michael Caine once” quack” said,” quack, splash, quack “I promise to ‘Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.’ We” honk, honk, honk, honk! “shall overcome.” quack “We will shed these cyber” quack “guerrilla” quack “ducks” quack “like water off a duck’s back.” QUACK QUACK QUACK QUACK!!!
“I wonder what he really means,” said the mother.
“I know, I know!” The little girl jumped up and down. “The President is trying to say that he is as happy as a duck in water!”
“You’re quite a little duckie yourself, aren’t you, Sweetie? Are you feeling duckie?” She turned back to the TV. “I think maybe I’m beginning to.”
“We will not long go on in duck” quack “form, I promise,” promised the President. QUACK!
“Long live the duck,” said the mother.
“Long live the duck!”
“We shall soon soar” quack “like” quack “eagles.” QUACK! QUAAAACK!
“He’s a weird duck,” said the girl.
“He’s a lame duck,” said the mother. “I think he may be quacking up.”
“He’s daffy duck,” said the girl. “Only oranger.”
“He’s all ducked up,” said the mother.
“I wish he would be quiet. I can’t hear the quack of the duck over him. The President thinks he’s more important than the duck. And he talks about terrorist duck cyber gorillas like a big meanie.”
“He would like to pluck that duck alive. You know he would. He is a big meanie, Dear. That’s his job.”
“I don’t like his job,” said the girl.
“I don’t either,” said the mother.
“Well, why does he do it then?”
“Look at him. Look at them all. They are zombie mad. It’s like watching a teen horror flick where the zombies have cannibalized all the officials’ minds. Can – You – Hear – What – He – Is – Say – Ing? – He – Is – Say – Ing – That – He – And – The – Suits – Will – Take – All – Of – Our – Dol – lars – To – Give – To – The – Rest – Of – The – Suits.”
The little girl stared at the screen. “I don’t think the President can ever get the duck, do you?”
“All this duck business,” spoke the President. “Let us pay it no mind.” quack “When I need to address the people of the USA and the world, I will not hesitate.” Honk! “Forget the image of the duck.” quack quack quack “It is only the mockery of cowards.” splish splash woosh! “We will soon root them out and send them flying” quack “to prison.” quack quack “And for the time being…” The duck waved a wing. ” …we will let these silly images of orange cartoon ducks roll like water off our backs.” QUANK HONK!
The duck ruffled up its feathers as if freeing itself of a chill.
“I don’t believe that guy,” said the mother. “He’s a real quacker.”
“He thinks he is,” said the daughter. “But he’s not.”
“I think the duck plucked the President.”
“I just hope the duck gets away. Go, Duck, Go!”
The State of the Duck Nation Address
Then came the day the duck migrated to talk radio.
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
When teachers in New Jersey sought good pay, and students walked out to protest state budget cuts for schools, dozens of students were suspended. Talk radio – most of it reactionary, Republican, “conservative,” right wing, and white nationalist – called the student strikers “stupid” and decried the teachers and others as a “giant entitlement class.” So the duck powered up and flew into action, as it did often now.
The duck rose up on its tippy webs and flapped its wings and pointed its tail feathers and cocked its head and opened its beak, and the duck declared that “The ‘giant entitlement class’ consists of the bankers and executives and the other major owners of the country who rule and who funnel half the national budget to the military and who are wrecking the country and the world and the people in it. The ‘giant entitlement class’ consists of those people and the apologists for them, like propaganda radio shows that surrender the country ever more to the rich, that smear the teachers and others who do the necessary work of the world. Meanwhile, asinine radio shows kiss up to the rich owners who put us in debt and keep us in debt. We are slaves to their wallets, slaves to their bank accounts, slaves to their banks! Down with banks! Up with peoples’ credit unions! One person, one vote! No tyranny of money!”
Unable to mute the duck, the radio host shouted, “What a bunch of malarkey! Without the rich, there would be no country! There would be no country worth living in. Without the rich there would be no economy. Sure there is some of the entitlement class in the ranks of wealth. They make the country strong.”
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
The duck broke back in: “The rich wreck country. Big money rapes the country and the people it in for their own gain. I’m not saying that the owner class is made up of terrible parents or terrible grandparents or anything. I’m saying that they have long since pushed for legislation and court rulings that force them, that legally obligate them to prioritize profits above all, even above the survival of their own grandchildren, and the human species, let alone other species, like my own glorious self, the duck. So you see it is the big owners as a class and as institutions, as powerful corporate companies and banks that are the greatest, most dominant, most menacing ‘entitlement class’ – orders of magnitude beyond any other group, beyond the people and peoples’ organizations that rich radio smears as entitlement groups or ‘special interests.’ The real entitlement class, the dominant ‘special interests,’ are the owners and their fronters who are destroying the country and the world. They keep pushing people down and keeping them down, filling up the jails with people who can find no good jobs, or no jobs at all. Wealth has arranged the laws to allow this and to force it. And that is what must be recognized and stopped.”
The radio host screamed, “The duck is un-American! The duck is anti-American! The duck is an America hater! a wretched little evil fowl who hates and hates and hates! The duck is a hater of all we love and hold dear in this great land of ours! We are pure Americans. The duck is a foul fowl anti-American.” QUACK, QUACK “No pure American can agree with the duck. This so-called entitlement class of wealth cannot afford to be as callous as the duck presumes. If we assume that free enterprise – at its very core – has no heart, which we cannot but even if we could, then we can assume that killing people is, if nothing else, bad for business.”
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
“Oh dry up,” said the duck. “Big money can easily afford to be more deadly and impoverishing than Big Mouth Radio cares to know or admit. How does Big Mouth Radio think the boss class makes its money? Big Coal? Big Oil? All Big Industry? By killing more of its workers than it would if the workers ran the mines. Union workplaces are the safest, and the best paying, but unions have been destroyed by Big Money. And then there is Big Gun. Half the national budget goes to the military, to Big Gun. And what does Big Gun do to earn its money? It kills people. Congress is not legally allowed to see how 40 percent of the military’s budget is spent, and none of how any intelligence budgets are spent. What do the alcohol and tobacco industries do, Big Smoke and Big Drink? They kill people, hundreds of thousands per year. And what about all the funds ripped off from the public by industry lobbyists that could be spent saving lives through public health, safety, and education spending? Why are the entertainment industries are allowed to be so violent? Big Screen. Because violence and killing people is glorified by Big Money’s Big Screens on the one hand, to numb people to its horror, and used by Big Money under the cloak of propaganda on the other, to kill for profit. And that is how a lot of establishment money is made. Take transportation. Big Wheel. Car travel is deadly compared to much safer but lousy or non-existent public transportation. And on and on and on. The facts make it clear. The real “giant entitlement class” profits enormously off killing people. Big Entitlement. The Official Establishment. Big Radio and other monied mouthpieces can’t see it, and deny it if they do, which make our country and world more rich for a few and more deadly and desperate for the many.”
The radio host srcreamed once again. “Who, then, would determine whether you should be able to have a beer!? Or watch a movie that has violence!? Or eat fatty foods!? The idiot duck puts too much faith in a benevolent government! Big Government wants only power, power, power!!!”
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
The duck ruffled its feathers audibly. “And what does Big Money want? It wants more money above all! You blowhards on radio constantly defend private tyrannies. Corporations are private governments, with enormous resources and power that the public has no direct control over, and scant indirect means to control. These private governments by way of propaganda and deployment of resources and selection of candidates essentially dictate whether beer and cigarettes are legal or, say, the far less dangerous marijuana. The private governments that are corporations determine how much violence goes into movies, how much fat goes into foods, and on and on and on. The private governments that are corporations own and run the world (and own and run the public government). You see no problem with this. To you, better that the far more unaccountable governments, the private ones, run, rule, and shape our lives, than the public government, the one closer to the people. You are in favor of private government over public government. Your favoritism, your faith in private government, your insistent preference for it, is anti-democracy. And generally destructive.”
“Pure balderdash!” screamed the radio host. “A private company is a tyranny only if it has no opposition. The only institution that comes close to that today is the federal government. The public school system could be considered a near-tyranny since it has virtually no competition. All private companies have competitors. It cannot do whatever it wants because, in a free market, someone will come along and do it better. Consider GM.”
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
“You bet,” said the duck. HONK! HONK! HONK! “Do let us consider General Motors. The people at GM have jobs today only because the public government came to the rescue to operate a company the private owners drove off a cliff. Those workers would have been thrown out on the street by the failures and negligence of the private owners, but the public government rescued them. True the government could do a better job of it, by converting the factories to high speed rail production instead of contracting such work out to European corporations. But at least they salvaged something, when the private owners wrecked it.”
“Non one should believe a word of that duckcrap! You’re just a putrid fowl!”
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK
“Why does Big Radio despise democracy? Oh, that’s right, because Big Radio is a Big Tyranny and not a democracy! Big Radio knows that private companies are ruled from the top down, that the people with the most money tell everyone else what to do. They have competition only from other wealthy actors. That’s an oligarchy and a plutocracy, not a democracy. Public governments are set up to operate democratically, one person, one vote. Big Radio, Big TV, Big Media favor oligarchy and plutocracy, where the wealthy jockey to rule. Big Radio Man labels organizations of democracy as tyrannies. That’s pure wolfshit and he knows it. Organizations that are designed to be controlled by democracy, by one person one vote, are to Big Radio Man tyrannies; and organizations that are designed to be controlled by the wealthy few are the legitimate rulers to Big Radio Man since they have competition from other rich actors. Big Radio Man prefers a competition between money to a competition between people. That’s what he blows hard for. He prefers oligarchy and plutocracy to democracy. How very feudal of Big Radio, Big TV, Big Media, how very slavery loving. ’We’re free boys! the plantation owners are squabbling!’ ‘What about our own vote in our own government?’ ‘Hell no! that would be tyranny because there are so many of us, the rich few would never stand a chance! the rich would have to leave us free to manage our own affairs, the poor bastards!’ ‘Poor, hell! Down with the tyrants! Up with the people and the power of the people!’ The rich few rule, and the indebted many are tyrants in the eyes of Big Radio Man for claiming their one person one vote. That’s rich. Very rich. The Declaration of Emancipation of the Serfs, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the US Declaration of Independence, these are tyrannical scraps of paper to Big Radio Man.”
“Malarkey, Malarkey, Malarkey!” screamed the radio host.
At which point the long and loud and unmistakable sound of a duck relieving its pent up digestive tract could be heard and practically smelled perfuming the national and international airwaves of Big Radio.
Big Radio Man swatted at his studio microphone, thumping and banging it over and again.
Duck inspired laughter echoed around the globe.
Whereupon The Duck Returns From The Gulf Oil Blowout
The Duck appeared on all the TV screens in all the world drenched in black goo.
“My finned and feathered friends in the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and west of Florida are not doing so well these days.” The duck explained how there has long been oil tar on the beaches from Texas to Trinidad and beyond because these oil eruptions happen all the time, though usually at somewhat less catastrophic scale.
“‘Drill, Baby, Drill!’ cry the American lunatics. They don’t care about us poor ducks,” said the duck. ”‘Drill, Baby, Drill!’ chant silently to themselves the politicos in both dominant parties, as they silently pocket the oil industry lobbyist cash for their bought and paid for by Big Money elections.”
Said the duck, “Like a good friend of mine tells it, ‘You drill, you spill,’ you know. Solar energy is the way to go. You nationalize the energy companies and run them more safely and more fairly, and you use the profits to develop green solar energy, so you drill less and you spill less, and maybe one day you don’t have to drill at all. And the same for mining. Like another good friend of mine says, ‘You mine, you die. You mine, you dine with death.’ We ducks should nationalize the mines to run them more safely and fairly and use the profits to develop the good jobs of green solar energy. Like yet another friend of mine likes to say,” the duck jabbed its oil soaked wingtip as high into the air as it could, “‘You go green, you go good,’ and that’s a future worth working for. Or do you wish to see me forever caked, crushed, and poisoned in oil slime? and cast out of creeks destroyed by mountaintop removal mining? Give us poor ducks a break, why don’t you? The workers of the world would benefit so. And the people of the planet. What have we done to deserve your black plague, your black death, your bubonic oil and coal dug from the belly of the beast, and drilled from the rump of the devil. You can take your shit and shove it, you foul Destroyers Incorporated, you hideous hellions of the dank hole, you treacherous tyrants of the trademark.”
The duck pucked up its beak and spit out a giant blob of oil tar that splatted against the camera lens and cast all the screens upon the globe into utter dark.
TV viewers all across the globe heard a dull thwacking as the revolutionary duck recently returned from the Gulf Oil Blowout continued to spit gob after glob of oil tar at the blackened camera lens.
Finally the duck choked out a final gob of crude. It picked up between its wings a bottled cleaning solvent and sprayed it on the camera lens. The oil goo slowly began to streak and dissolve and drip, a toxic mess, into a bucket beneath the camera.
Viewers next watched the oil drenched duck set aside the bottle and use a series of detergent-dipped cloths to clean the camera lens. The duck wore a special respiratory mask to protect itself from toxic oil fumes. The duck dropped used cloths one by one into the bucket before it dried the lens with a clean cloth and snapped the bucket lid shut.
The duck removed the mask. It spat out the specially sealed bag once full of oil tar balls that it had collected from the gulf to launch the attack against the camera lens.
Viewers watched now as the duck pointed its tarred wingtip at the camera.
“Don’t push the duck. Don’t push the duck beyond its natural bounds. Or the duck will strike back.”
At which point, a stupendous flock of ducks swooped into view holding towels and cleanser between their webbed feet. These oil-free ducks swarmed the oil-coated duck to wash and dry it until every feather glistened in light fluff.
And then the ducks all at once turned to the camera and screeched and screamed. The lens shattered. The orange ducks burst into brilliant fractals, and their wail pierced the world.
In Which The President Duck Goes Viral
There came a fateful day in the course of the Peoples’ Hour revolution avatared by the orange cartoon duck, when history as it was once known arrived at an ignominious end. The duck ended it.
From many ends are great beginnings sprung, and so it was for the Peoples’ Hour revolution.
On that fateful day, the President of the United States of America got ducked, and the US Presidency was born again into a richly deserved prison of a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week reality show titled: 24/7, The Chronicles of the President Duck.
The unstoppable and invisible People’s Hour cameras followed the President Duck everywhere at all times and broadcast live everything he did and said, with few exceptions. No bathroom or bedroom audio or video, unless the President began to conduct business by phone or in person. Then tasteful audio-video shots were broadcast live.
Not only was the President Duck of the USA subject to 24/7 live broadcast, but so too were hundreds of thousands of officials and executives the world over. By far, however, the most widely watched People’s Hour reality show was that of the most powerful person on Earth, the President Duck of the USA.
All these high-powered Big Money reality show stars appeared naked in their own skin but with an orange duck bill on their face through which they talked and ate and kissed, and thick duck feathers around their genitals and chests, plus a blooming plume of a duck tail. A few stray orange duck feathers sprouted from their otherwise bare skin. All sported glowing orange duck feet. Otherwise the individuals were recognizable as their former selves. They continued to age. Several died immediately from heart attacks and strokes upon seeing their omnipresent duckified image on computer and TV. A small minority immediately retired, and when some continued to engage in Big Money activity they were immediately reducked. At which point most of these bailouts went off to live their lives in retirement and seclusion.
Major police and military operations, environmental crises, financial calamities, and other high powered moments caused the reality channels of different officials to spike periodically. However, far and away the greatest continuous duckified reality show star remained the President Duck of the United States of America.
The People’s Hour invincible cameras not only followed him everywhere all the time, the People Hours spokesduck perpetually accompanied the President Duck, not only onscreen but as a living breathing hologram by the President Duck.
The Peoples’ Hour Duck (PH Duck) incessantly talked at, with, or over the President Duck (P Duck). They engaged in many dialogues, frequent arguments, and no little bit of comedy, satire, drama, and philosophy.
“The damned Duck will not leave me alone!” cried the President Duck one day to no one in particular.
“On the contrary,” replied the PH Duck, “I would be more than happy to see you and all the other executives and officials go your merry way, if only you would get your gunboats and boots, your Big Money handcuffs off our backs, off our necks, if only you would stop destroying our habitat and nests. Deal?”
“We do what we can,” said the President Duck.
“To destroy us, yes.”
“‘No, for the betterment of all.”
“Like hell you do.”
“What can I say? We try.”
“It’s what you do that matters. Look at the state of the world. It’s a disaster.”
“That’s life, the world we know.”
“The world Big Money made, you should know. Time to unmake it. Or do you like being held prisoner to the eye of the People’s Hour.”
The President duck put his hands to his head and screamed. “You’re not even a duck! You’re just a hologram! I don’t have to listen to you!” The President duck turned his back on the hologram.
“Oh, really?” said the People’s Hour hologram duck sliding around in front of the President. “Well hear this –”
QUACK! QUACK QUACK QUACK! QUACK!!! QUACK!!! QUACK!!!!!!!
The People’s Hour Hones Its Tactics
Shortly after the People’s Hour put the Revolutionary duck forever onscreen to correct and spar with the President duck of the USA, the revolutionary group decided it ought to better visually distinguish between the two waddlers.
The humble but lively image of the duck fit the popular movement more than it did the owner ruler of much of the world, no?
What more appropriate image then, to better fit the President of the USA, the most powerful figure on a planet ravaged by inequality and violence, often of the USA’s own making – noted by Amnesty International and other progressive organizations. What better image than the cartoon duck to represent the President of the USA in official capacity and function?
The People’s Hour considered many avatars. It first dismissed the image of Hitler for being overused and just flat ugly; it dismissed the image of a greedy overstuffed pig for being ultimately too soft; it dismissed the image of a caricatured mad military General for not getting at all the incredible violence wreaked by the USA, that most powerful state.
The People’s Hour selected instead, as the most appropriate avatar of the militant business state that was the USA: the Grim Reaper.
Henceforth, the orange cartoon revolutionary duck waddled around with the tall black cloaked Grim Reaper – variously known as President Grim, Hail to the Reaper! the Commander-in-Reaping, simply Grim, the Reaper, or President Reaper – complete with bleached skull, black and gold teeth, empty eye sockets, and a titanium scythe. Such was the revolutionary people’s image of the President of the United States of America. The people’s duck accompanied President Grim the Reaper everywhere, ducking and dodging Grim’s scythe as the President turned suddenly or brandished his professional tool while speaking. QUACK! QUACK!
On more than one occasion the people’s duck lost a few feathers, it must be said, tail feathers when too slow in the jumping, but nothing that could even momentarily deter the plucky orange avatar of the revolutionary people.
At which point the President begins to lose his mind
“I am not the Grim Reaper!” screamed the President of the USA.
“Oh, but you are,” said the revolutionary duck. “Why don’t we prove it? Pick a spot on Earth, any spot. Oh, hey, I know. How about we head off to the Af-Pak conquest? Let’s see how that is working out for everyone.”
The 24/7 reality show screen flashed and dazzled. Suddenly President Reaper and the People’s duck appeared from out of a flash fade-from-black stepping across the mountainous border of Iraq into Afghanistan, where they were met by the regional commander, General McDuck.
“Commander-in-Chief.” General McDuck saluted.
“Commander General.” President Reaper met the General’s salute with one of his own. He used the gleaming platinum blade of his scythe.
Suddenly the General duck turned into a Grim Reaper himself. He held a bayonet instead of a scythe, and saluted now with his own blade. Then President Reaper and General Reaper clicked blades formally.
President Grim asked, “What’s the prognosis for the patient, General Reaper?”
“Terminal, sir. Quite terminal. Take the checkpoints. Where we’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed some. To my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force, Sir. To my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”
“The slaughter has been great, has it, General? Here in Afghanistan.”
“Imagine some occupying Afghani force making this kind of slaughter of Americans in, you know, Iowa. Or Maine. Or Texas. If they ever had the power to manage it, to come after our oil and our oil pipelines.”
“We would nuke them, Sir.”
“That is correct, General Reaper.”
“Never in America.”
“Except for 9-11. That is why we are here, Sir.”
“Er, well, you see, General, ahh…”
“I mean, in addition to the oil, Sir. Don’t think I’m as naive as our PR, President Reaper, Sir. Speaking privately here, from myself General Reaper to yourself President Reaper. 9-11 sure is a great cover for securing Afghani oil pipelines.”
“We need oil, General. We need oil to fuel the planes that bomb the people to secure the oil to fuel the planes to bomb away. You see what I mean, General Reaper.”
“Indeed, President Reaper. I direct what you mean. Bombs ahoy! Oil abroad! Lock and Load! Drill, Baby, Drill!”
The President Reaper of the USA staggered toward his Oval Office desk in the White House, then fell to his knees. “What have I become?!”
“President Reaper, President Reaper!” The People’s Duck tried to help Grim up. But to no avail. After all, the People’s Duck was a mere cartoon image. Only the President was real.
“I’m a killer!”
“President Reaper! President Reaper! The show must go on!” cried the Duck.
“No! Kill it! Kill it now! Kill them all!”
“All of whom!”
“All of them! All of the killers!”
“But, Grim, Sir, you don’t mean, you can’t-”
“I do, I mean kill them now. Kill them all.”
“But you, Sir President, are the Grim Reaper yourself, the Killer-in-Chief.”
“I resign. I hereby resign the office, this Presidency, as of now. I resign forthwith, whatever it takes. I am no longer the President of the United Snakes! I mean States!”
“You can’t do that, Sir.”
“Why not? I’m the President. I can do damn near anything I want.”
“This is only a dream, Sir.”
The 24/7 reality show screen flashed and dazzled. Suddenly President Reaper and the People’s duck appeared in the White House bedroom. President Grim slumbered beside his wife, the First Lady Reaper. His Scythe hung on the wall near the head of the bed. The People’s duck roosted in a corner on a dresser, its beak tucked into its wing.
Must the show go on?
But tonight it would.
QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!
“No! No! No! I am not a killer!” screamed the President of the USA, and this time he woke up, staggered out of bed, stumbled out of the bedroom to the nearest TV. He brought up the People’s Hour President’s 24/7 reality channel and saw himself fully guised as the Grim Reaper, scythe in hand, staring at the TV. He hoisted the scythe and slashed at the TV, knocking it off the stand. He raised the scythe with both arms above his head and screamed for all the world to witness, “I am not a killer!” Two aides burst through the door. One grappled the scythe from his hands, the other body-locked the President and carried him back into his bedroom and shut the door.
Nevertheless the 24/7 reality show continued onscreen from the bedroom. “No! No! No!” screamed the President. “The American way of life is not deadly! We are good people! We value life! We make the world a better place to be! Our military is stationed and active all over the globe to do good for everyone! It’s even cost effective! We get oil, copper, gold for our efforts! Even fruit! And spices! And we export bang-up Hollywood films for the entertainment of all! Our mighty corporations not only reap wealth from the world, they sow it too! Why just look at…just look at…no, not Central America…uh…let’s see…not South America so much either…or Africa…uh…well…just look at Japan! See, the US shares the wealth! The Japanese have money too! And they are not even white like us! So we are not racist! Why, the Japanese are Honorary Whites! Oh, cash is good!”
At which point a secret service agent calmly walked in the room and tranquilized President Reaper of the USA. “This will help you sleep, Sir,” said the agent and drove the needle in.
QUACK! QUACK!!!!! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!!!!!
Suddenly a real, or seemingly real, duck appeared in the bedroom and drove its webbed claws into the agent’s eyes, spinning him and sending him stumbling and driving him blindly from the bedroom.
QUACK! QUACK!!!!! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!!!!!
And then everything changed.
The President of the USA began to act human, rather than only try to sound like he was human, by rhetoric. The shift was so uncanny and complete that there were those who said this was not the President at all but some imposter, as if some creature from outer space had snatched the President’s body and inhabited it for purposes totally alien to its former ruling self.
What remains not in dispute is that the President’s twin brother had arrived for a visit the day before the President broke down in face of the People’s Hour duck.
Then, as the duck drove the secret service agent out of the bedroom and away from the President, the twin brother entered, whereupon the President, his twin brother, and the President’s wife locked themselves in the bedroom for an entire day.
The People’s Hour movement refrained from broadcasting any audio or video of that day on the President’s 24/7 reality show.
In the following weeks, the most outlandish rumors circulated, including the old rumors that the first lady had long since been romantically involved with the President’s twin brother.
Given the President’s subsequent radical shift in policy initiatives, a shift that accorded closely with what was known of the brother’s views and values, there was some wild speculation that the President has suffered a total collapse and secretly, either, surrendered or gladly ceded both his dissatisfied wife and the office of the Presidency to his twin.
Curiously, after that pivotal day in the bedroom and in the office of the Presidency, the brother (or was it the President!?) was never heard from again. Not that he was disappeared and buried in a tomb somewhere, rather he did something seemingly totally out of character for him. He went on permanent vacation, accessing funds from no one knew where. He retired in mid-life to a little fishing village in the Caribbean Sea and spent his days doing what he said he had always wanted to do: sail. One day he sailed off into a hurricane and was lost forever.
It changed once again, the look of the President of the USA on his 24/7 reality show channel.
He emerged from his White House bedroom with his wife on arm, cloaked as the grim reaper, and she too, each holding a scythe in their outside hand, but now with the added twist of a red-white-and-blue tie on him, and on her, red-white-and-blue locks of hair flowing around her hood from the bare bone of her skull.
They looked a beautiful couple, if you liked evil and menace incarnate.
President Reaper asked the gathered press corps, “Do you like my tie?”
And the first lady Reaper, “Do you like my hair?”
The press corps oohed and ahhed, from within their own dark cloaks, arms looped around their scythes to scribble on note pads. Others tapped eagerly on scythe-top computers.
Of course, this was not how they looked to themselves but video screens had been set up in the White House press room ever since the earliest days of the Duckotage so that the officials could see how they appeared to everyone else, throughout the USA and the world.
In this way they could keep an eye on whether or not the People’s Hour changed up the imagery suddenly. At which point, at least they would know what the world saw them as. They could even call off the press conference if need be, though they had not yet canceled one of these propaganda displays.
This time however, the press conference took a turn almost no one expected.
“First,” began President Reaper of the USA, “I wish to inform you that my health is fine. My checkup with the doctor this morning revealed no problems, no abnormalities. Stress and fatigue are what I need to watch. After taking yesterday off, I am on my way to being well rested. Second, from my daily briefing this morning, I can tell you that we have turned no corner yet in resolving the duckification and Reaperization of authority figures throughout the world. But we are working on it. Finally, I wish to address current events. I have not held a press conference in quite awhile, and for that I apologize. From now on I expect to meet the media on a far more regular frequent and regular basis. I wish to invigorate more discussion, to make matters that deeply concern the public…well…far more public. Hopefully, many people will become involved in solving our extraordinary challenges, resolving as many issues as possible, making progress as we go. Thank you. With that, and because I have found myself with little quality time to prepare a formal presentation for today, I would like to devote the remainder of this media conference to the questions of those gathered here today.”
President Reaper had randomly selected ten journalists to query him. Referring now to the list in his hands, he opened the floor to the first journalist, a fellow grim reaper, scythe propped against chair, notepad and pen in hand. He rose. “Mr. President, I am glad you are feeling more yourself today, Sir. Mr. President, the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. President there is great distress among area businesses and residents. They are angry at OilCorp who is responsible for the spill and the cleanup. They say the response by OilCorp is too slow, inadequate, and secretive. They claim much more could be done but that OilCorp either refuses or drags its feet. They also insist that the federal government is not doing enough, and could be doing far more than it currently is. Mr. President, can the federal government do anything more for the residents and businesses, and can the federal government encourage OilCorp to do more?”
“I’m very glad that you asked that question. Later today, I will sign an executive order that essentially nationalizes the response to the ongoing oil spill. The federal government will at least quadruple the cleanup efforts of OilCorp, and OilCorp will pay for it all. If OilCorp resists this nationalization, we will order out of production one of their oil producing rigs per day until they comply. If they fail to comply they will forfeit all right to drill for oil in any US territorial land or water.”
The room exploded in gasps and exclamations as the Grim Reapers with notepads looked wildly from side to side wondering who knew advance. Nationalization! Or something close to it. Holy damn! Who did the President think he was, Franklin Delano Roosevelt squared? When had the decision been made, who was party to it? What was OilCorp’s reaction? The questions flew thick and fast as no journalist waited to be called on. The President refused to answer.
“For now, I’ll tell you only who will benefit and how. The people and economy of the Gulf Coast will benefit. It’s going to be Civilian Conservation Corps camps all over again. Only this time, Civilian Cleanup Corps. We are going to have so many people cleaning up the beaches and islands and waters that we are going to cut unemployment in half and then in half again on and around the Gulf Coast. No longer will beaches and municipalities have to call in an alert of oil washing ashore and then wait for days for OilCorps to do an inspection and finally deliver a fraction of a crew. The federal government will employ and empower inspectors, and municipalities will be free to hire crews to cleanup at once any oil they discover. Send the bill to the Federal Emergency Management and FEMA will expedite it immediately. That reminds me, I will also be signing an executive order today that triples the number of FEMA personnel and that effectively raises its budget by an order of magnitude as we shift parts of other agencies under its domain.”
The President returned for a follow-up question to the journalist who had originally inquired about the spill.
On TV, the journalist appeared to stand with his scythe and bang it on the floor: “Given the government’s failure to protect New Orleans and the Gulf Coast prior to Hurricane Katrina, and given the government’s inadequate and trouble-plagued response in the aftermath, can the people of the Gulf Coast be confident that the government will improve their plight, or only make matters worse?”
“An excellent question, thank you. All that you stated is accurate. The government utterly failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast prior to Hurricane Katrina, and afterwards too. So it is that the people of the Gulf Coast cannot be confident that a nationalized government response to this oil disaster will be of any help whatsoever. However, there is only one way to find out. And that is to try. And we have not tried, not all out, full speed ahead. We have allowed OilCorp to go too much its own way. Well, no more. We will throw everything we have at this calamity, and we will order OilCorp to throw everything they have it. And at high speed. And if the result is a bankrupt OilCorp, so be it. Better a bankrupt OilCorp than our Gulf Coast destroyed because it was never given every chance to survive and prosper.”
People whooped and cheered all across the Gulf Coast and the world. What the future held no one could know for sure, but at least President Reaper sounded as if he had finally heard the people of the coast. He sounded as if he would finally and fully respond. And if he truly did, he would never be forgotten nor refused.
Meanwhile half of the journalist Reapers dropped their pens or fumbled their laptops and the other half let slip their scythes or knocked them clanking to the floor, because the President of the USA had floated the idea of a “bankrupt OilCorp,” of draining the immense company of every last drop of its money to help make whole again the Gulf waters and the Gulf Coast and its people. “A bankrupt OilCorp,” the President had said, “So be it.” Holy hot damn. It sounded revolutionary.
None of the remaining nine journalists on the President’s random list could move past the shock to ask about any other issue. Too bad. The President’s other pronouncements would have to wait. The journalists would experience a far greater shock another day.
At the close of the media conference, the President took the first lady by the hand and they proceeded to his office where there was a lot of work to be done.
That was strange, thought a few of the journalists. They could not recall the President taking the first lady by the hand very often before. Nor could they recall ever seeing the first lady respond so warmly, even exuberantly, to his touch.
All but one of the journalists basically shook it off, forgot about it in the aftermath of the stunning turn in policy. The one journalist, though, known in the profession as Eagle Eye Johnson, it shook him to the bone. He could not quite put his finger on what. Something had changed. Something maybe even greater than the government’s new response to the oil disaster. Something greater than nationalization. He shivered. His mind blinked, and blinked again, to no avail.
Eagle Eye Johnson made a quick note, then hoisted his scythe, and marched on.