"Ms. Hughes, this is, um," The nervous aide checked his notes. "Matthew."
"Hi, Matthew! My name's Karen. This is a pretty big day for you, huh? I bet you're excited about being on TV!"
"I'm going to be on TV!" Matthew yelled, spinning in his swivel chair.
"Matthew!" admonished his mother. "That's not how we behave!"
"Kids are kids," Hughes smiled. "He'll do great. He's just perfect!"
"They're almost ready for him, ma'am," the aide's Adam's apple twitched.
"Secretary Reverend Fallwell is finishing up."
To say that Daniel Pipes felt constrained would be an understatement. Since his appointment as Homeland Security Secretary, he had found himself hemmed in at every turn.
His Protocols for a New America had gotten rave reviews at the Pentagon. Rove called it one of the most compelling post-911 documents to date, but getting it implemented was like pulling teeth.
"We have to pace ourselves, Dan," the Vice President Emeritus had told him. "Look how far we've come in less than a decade. Besides, I have some ideas about one of your Protocols. I like the savings figures you projected on the Transition to General Disposal for the High Risk Detainee population. It's a labor-intensive, high-cost operation. I'm thinking that we can go beyond savings, actually make it a source of revenue."
Pipes frowned. "Private sponsorship? But who would - "
"Nope," smiled Rove. "Empower them as Givers."
Pipes tried to suppress an involuntary shudder.
"Mr. Vice President, do you think the market - "
"Would want Arab organs?" Rove chuckled. "Not if they are presented as such, of course not. But clients don't ask things like that."
Individuals selected as living organ banks were officially called "Givers." Though neither they nor their survivors received any compensation, recipients paid a hefty fee to Schering-Bayer-Pfizer, as well as to both surgeons.
The Givers program was, according to the White House, compassionate conservatism at its best. "No longer will any individual be obliged to be a burden to the State," the statement read. "Every American, no matter what his circumstances, can make a significant and unique contribution to our great economy, and help his fellow man at the same time. America is still and always will be the Land of Opportunity."
"With all respect, Mr. Vice President Emeritus," Pipes chose his words carefully. "To be a Chosen as a Giver is a privilege..."
Rove smiled. "Indeed it is, Dan. And America does not withhold privileges on the basis of religion or ethnicity."
Roger didn't get too many days off, and he didn't want to waste a minute of this one. Whatever Big Event was going on, they didn't want cleaning people around, they were emptying out every building. Security, they said. Roger could care less. "Wake up, you lazy penguin," he tickled his son awake.
"Are we going on an adventure?" Chuchito rubbed his eyes and reached for his sneakers. "Not with dirty teeth," Roger pushed his son toward the bathroom.
An adventure meant getting on a bus and going somewhere in the city they knew nothing about, just to see what and who was there. Most Preferreds would consider this both dangerous and foolish, but Roger was not a Suit. He did not come from Suit stock, and Chuchito made friends wherever he went. Roger had never met an ethnic or economic group that did not have something good to eat or an interesting story to offer him and his little boy, and if they got lucky, both.
Today Roger decided they would check out the street the book lady had told them about, with the little food stand. He needed distraction more than Chuchito, just so he wouldn't call his lawyer every five minutes.
"And so, my American brothers and sisters, thanks to this wondrous gift, and to your Blessed Resolve, the hard work of the War on Terror is about to get a little easier - and to give you an idea of just how easy, I'd like to introduce you to a young friend of mine who is taking his place in history today - Brothers and sisters, please welcome America's very first Citizen Defender - Matthew Connor!"
Falwell stepped away from the podium, microphone in hand.
"Your parents gave you a good name, Matthew. That's a name from the Bible. How old are you, Matthew?"
"And you like to play the computer games, you must be pretty good."
"Matthew stared at the mike, nodding vigorously. Falwell chuckled.
"Well, Matthew, you know you don't have to be a long-winded preacher like me to play computer games or to help America win the War on Terror. Now you just sit down here. You're the expert, not me, I never have understood the computers much, just too old, I guess." Falwell paused to allow the audience to applaud politely at what tomorrow's papers would call a quip.
"Now General Graner taught you how to play, didn't he? What was that like, learning a new game from a real live Abu Ghraib hero?"
Matthew shrugged. "It's not a very hard game."
"Well, folks, you hear that. Out of the mouths of babes. All right, Matthew, let's show America what you and General Graner have been working on. Why don't you tell all the boys and girls watching at home how to play."
"Um, well, you click start, see? and in a minute a little red dot - there it is - ok, it's going to get bigger, wait till it's as big as a dime, and then you put your mouse on it and click - and see, the little red thing blows up."
Matthew grinned and reached for the microphone.
"I just killed a bad guy! I just killed a terr'ist!"
The audience rose to its feet, applauding. "Matthew! Matthew!"
Matthew jumped up and down. "Yeah!"
Falwell beamed, let the applause continue for a minute, then closed his eyes, held up his hand. His other hand dropped to Matthew's head.
"Brothers and Sisters, let us pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you today for Matthew, our little Citizen Defender, we thank you for the gift of this technology. In the Bible we read that a little child shall lead them, and we thank you for...."
"Sholeh, Niki can't carry you and pull the clothes too," Noushin tied one more knot in the bundle and wedged it into the rickety cart. Niki shot her a baleful look, twitched her tail. "Lazy thing, it's just clothes," Noushin laughed, rubbed the goat's ears, and scooping up Sholeh, ran back to the bank for one last splash before heading home.
Sharuz placed a baby turtle carefully on his sister's head. "Turtle hat!" he shrieked. Sholeh lay down in the shallow water and watched the bewildered turtle paddle away. "Turtle hat wants to swim!" she announced. "And so do I."
"Next time," Noushin gathered up the wriggling twins. "Time to go home now. "Turtle hat will still be here."
The road home was really more of a path. The "good" road, though not paved, was wider and smoother, and had served the little village for more centuries than anyone could count, but it was full of landmines now, and such a frequent recipient of US bombing raids that there was not one family in the village who did not have at least one grave to tend.
Although they had been told to walk, the twins' preferred method of locomotion, when Niki was otherwise engaged, consisted of a few hops followed by falling to the ground and rolling over and over while tickling each other mercilessly.
Noushin shook her head. Half the day at the river, they were so clean, and here she would bring them home for all the neighbors to see, literally rolled in dirt. At least it won't be a shock, she thought. This happened every time she did the family wash.
Now they came running up to her, tugging at her skirts. "We want bread and honey when we get home!" Noushin smiled at them, "Bath first."
The flash, the blast, came without warning, but her mother's instinct extended her arms to her children before she could even think. And arms, twins, clothes and goat exploded into a red mist, her scream still hanging in the air.
"It was a very successful launch. Our target was a known terrorist command and control center in the north of Iran. An area where Americans have taken some return fire more than once. I guess you could call it a rat's nest. But today, thanks to little Matthew, it's insurgent-free. It's safe for Americans. Little Matthew saved some American lives today, and now as Citizen Defenders, every American can do the same. We are very excited about this program, and thank you, Larry, for having me here tonight"
"It's an honor and a privilege to have you here, Sir. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chief, General Chief. How should we address you General Sanchez?"
"Larry, you can call me Rick. And I just want to say, before we go on, that in just the few hours that the Citizen Defender Program has been operational, we now have over 7 million homes online, that participated in our advance enrollment, and almost 40 million in the pipeline."
"40 million?" King sat up. "Now that is - well, that is simply amazing. That is - well, that is like effectively increasing our armed forces by 40 million, is it not, General?"
"It certainly is, Larry. And I think another reason the program is so popular, it's something that families can do together. A lot of times nowadays parents don't have as much time as they'd like to spend with their kids, and here is a way to spend quality family time, and also protect our American way of life."
"And I believe we have an 800 number, and a website? Where people who haven't signed up yet can be a part of this, can become Citizen Defenders? Producers, can we get that number up on the screen?"
The shy-looking man and his irrepressible little boy reminded Rick of another time, another place, another chatty little boy out for a treat with his dad.
"I can read!" Chuchito called out to him. "See my book?"
Against his better judgment, Roger had let Chuchito bring the Kids Guide to World Religions along so he wouldn't be bored on the long subway ride to the bus stop. It had not occurred to him that Chuchito would call attention to the illegal book in a public place. He looked around nervously. Luckily, it was still early. They were the only customers.
Rick did not seem alarmed. "Good for you!" he said. "That's a very nice book." To demonstrate his prowess, Chuchito read a few sentences from his favorite section - Hinduism. "It doesn't say why the people are blue, though"
"The people who live there aren't really blue." Rick laughed. "But you are a very good reader!"
Chuchito looked disappointed. "The gods and goddesses are blue," Rick added quickly. "They are blue to represent how God is so big he is not only the earth, but the sky and the ocean."
"Can you tell me about Krishna? The book doesn't really have it all."
Rick smiled. Who better than a good Muslim from Lahore who claimed to be Swiss to tell a little Mexican boy about Krishna? Some things about America not even Washington could change. He poured some tea and sat down next to Chuchito.
"Once upon a time, in a far-away land called Mathura, there was a bad, evil king named Kamsa..."
Time to move, Haley thought, completing her morning ritual of brushing her teeth and bemoaning her nose. She didn't feel comfortable having MaryBeth know where she lived any more, and she'd been here six months. That was a pretty long time for an Informal to stay in one place anyway. And the murmurs of an impending crackdown on Informals showed signs of eclipsing the nose question.
"Those who choose to live outside the norms of society, those who reject our American way of life, at the same time that they benefit from the use of our streets, they don't reject our dollars when they have something to sell you, now do they?" Homeland Intelligence Czar Zell Miller had a three point plan: Round em up, and bring em to General Detention. The third point of his plan involved phasing out the term "Informal."
"It's deceptive," he said. "It's an innocent sounding name for people who are anything but innocent. They are a threat to everything that as Americans, we hold dear. Calling them Informals gives loyal, hard-working Americans a false sense of security. That's a raw deal."
Miller recommended using the term "Persons of Interest."
Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum.
Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage
had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage
propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who
should be put in a cage on gitmo Skinner
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
peopleforchange.netductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks
Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
inadequate, halfway house bullshit
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple." hamletta
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh
dailykos.coma turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
dailykos.comdespicable and literally mentally ill