Civil DisobediencebyNigel Debonnaire©
The early May afternoon sun shone through the windows of the Oval Office. President Gene Mastorum sat back in his chair and dozed for ten minutes between appointments. His aides knew better than disturb these quick siestas: between the duties of the Presidency and campaigning for re-election in 2016, his ability to catnap was one of the few things that helped him to keep going. The collapse of the Democratic Party after the 2008 elections didn't make passing legislation through Congress that much easier than before, and his opponent this year was his moderate Republican predecessor running as an independent. Poor Guido Cinocam ascended to the Presidency at the wrong time: the electoral victory of Moderation in 2008 was demolished by the twin catastrophes of economic collapse and military rebuff as thoroughly as isolationism and global indifference were demolished by the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001. Mastorum won by a landslide in 2012, carrying 41 states, promising a return to the family values of the Regan and Bush years.
The entry of his most trusted advisors roused him from his snooze. Press Secretary Jerry Blandini led the Secretary of Education, the Rev. Dr. William R. Thlippknott, Chief of Staff Werner von Kriegsturmer, Senate Majority Leader Kent Jones and National Security Advisor
Jerry Kent. Two Secret Service officers came in with them, as well as the Army officer with the Nuclear Codes briefcase. President Mastorum blinked his eyes a couple of times and smiled. "Well, gentlemen, is it time to unwind yet? I think the kitchen is fixing us Prime Rib with all the trimmings tonight. We have two hours to amuse ourselves before dinner at 7:00, then I have to pack for the campaign trip after the Rose Garden signing ceremony at 8:00 AM tomorrow. Anyone ready to lose a few games of eight-ball?"
"Mr. President, you have one more appointment before we can bust your balls. The representatives of the National Education Association to see you in advance of tomorrow's singing ceremony," said Press Secretary Blandini.
The President sighed. "Ah, yes. Another endangered species; we'll be better off without them. And who are the representatives?"
"Dr. Shirley Stein, Professor Emerita of Humanities, Harvard University; Dr. Genevieve Adams, Professor of Economics, Northwestern University; Dr. Jessica Holter, Professor of Applied Physics, Stanford University," said the Rev. Dr. Thlippknott, "Eggheads, intellectual elite, secular humanists, ivory tower types. People we haven't had to worry about for years."
"Anything about them I should be careful about?" the President asked.
"Nothing other than this group has gathered several awards between them," said the National Security Advisor. "Dr. Adams has two Nobel prizes for economic theory, Dr. Holter has one for quantum mechanics, and Dr. Stein is the poet laureate of the state of Vermont and has a Pulitzer prize in literature."
The President gazed out of the window at the declining light on the vegetation. "That's got to take up a lot of space on the ole resumé. What do they want to talk with me about?"
Secretary Thlippknott smirked, "I believe they want you to reconsider the legislation you're signing tomorrow."
They looked at each other for an ironic, quasi-dramatic moment, then broke into a short span of mutual guffaws. "Fat chance, Pastor Billy Bob. They've got two choices: accept graciously and gradually fade from view with dignity, or cause trouble and get discredited as unpatriotic anachronisms. I don't think there's anything they have to say we have to listen to." The President sat up with a jolt. "Do we have to talk with them at all?" he whined.
Blandini looked around anxiously: "I think there's some kind of demonstration planned for tomorrow, but no one's been able to find out exactly what or where. It'd be good to hear what they've got to say so we can get the spin control ready, and--the show of giving them a hearing is good for ol' public image."
The President slumped a little. "All right, let's have them in and get this over with."
He pressed a button on the desk and Blandini went to the door. The others gathered around the President behind his desk.
The three professors entered the Oval Office with their heads high, dressed in dark blue sweaters, white blouses and grey skirts over natural hose and black, flat heeled shoes. They wore simple earrings and no significant amount of makeup. They strode purposefully to the desk and reached over to shake the President's hand firmly as they were presented by the Secretary of Education. Senator Jones looked at his watch, then through the window off into the distance; Secretary Thlippknott gave them an exceptionally broad, toothy smile; NSA advisor Kent and Chief of Staff Kreigsturmer looked at them intensely, boring holes into them with his eyes. The Secret Service agents and the Code Officer entered their inscrutable states of ready service and blended in with the furniture. The President sat up and began.
"Dr. Stein, Dr. Adams, and Dr. Holter, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the Oval Office; I am sorry that the circumstances could not be more informal. I believe that I understand what you're here for today: you've come to make a last minute pitch on behalf of the NEA against the legislation that turns all public education over to independent service providers. The performance record of U.S. Schools over the last 50 years has been shameful, dreadful, an embarrassment, and there is no way to fix it other than to start over. The idea of turning the system over to providers that will better satisfy the wishes of parents has been coming for years and its time is now. True, your colleagues in the teaching profession will have to find new occupations and rebuild their health and retirement plans as have other obsolete and downsized professionals over the past twenty years, but it's a small price to pay to get this country back on the right track again. I'm sure you're intelligent enough to understand how necessary this is.
"You are, of course, welcome to be at the signing ceremony tomorrow morning, but we will allow no kind of demonstration at that time whatsoever. Is that understood?"
Dr. Adams nodded her head. "Of course, Mr. President, we understand you. Since you have decided in advance not to listen to anything we have to say, we shall have to try a different means of getting your attention." They reached down and pulled their sweaters and blouses over their heads and the three women stood before the President and his advisors naked from the waist up.
There was a moment of disbelief before the men reacted to what they saw. The President's jaw dropped stereotypically. Secretary Thlippknott's smile froze on his face painfully while his eyes sought frantically for a safe haven in the room. Senator Jones' hand snapped up beside his face as his head turned immediately at a ninety degree angle to the women; NSA Advisor Kent bent over and starting moaning: "Nnnnggggaaah! Nnnnggggaaah! Nnnnggggaaah!" as he put his hands over his head and rocked up and down. Chief of Staff Kriegsturmer's eyes blatantly locked on Dr. Adams' chest and his lips parted slightly, his tongue flicking out spasmodically. The Press Secretary looked at the women implacably: they portrayed three generations of bustline sag. Dr. Stein's huge, bulbous breasts wobbled low beside her waist; Dr. Adams' 42 inch DD's were sagging well past prime but still appealing; Dr. Holter's 30-year-old 34C cups still rode high and pert on her body. Their eyes bore on the men as purposefully as cutting lasers, and the President could not hold their gaze.
The Senator was the first to speak: "My God, what are those women doing?"
"Sweet Jesus, what a spectacle," muttered Secretary Thlippknott. "I've never seen anything more. . . more. . .more. . ."
Dr Shirley Stein spoke calmly and evenly: "We are here to make a point, Mr. Secretary, and you have given us no other option. Since there is no other way to make our points, we have to expose ourselves in order to expose your machinations to the world."
"That's ridiculous!" snapped the Education Secretary.
President Mastorum's eyes bugged out, then he shook his head: "I can't believe my eyes. This is too much, too much." He took a sip of water from a glass on his desk and composed himself slightly. "Well, I don't know why you're doing this, but I think this lack of decorum is unbecoming for women of your dignity and professional standing."
"I agree, but our dignity and professional standing aren't accomplishing much by themselves, except that it will give our demonstration the thrust to get the public's attention. It's one thing when women of easy virtue bare themselves; it's quite another when women like us are willing to do it." Dr. Stein looked implacable with her arms comfortably at her sides, the pale skin of her breasts and torso contrasting with the deep tan of her shoulders and arms..
"You're out of your minds. This is unbelievable! This is grasping at straws, a desperate play for attention, an affront to all that is Right and Holy," exploded the President. He drew a handkerchief out of his pocket and began to mop his glistening forehead with it. "Goodness gracious, it's cheap titillation, that's what it is, cheap titillation." Blandini winced painfully at the pun, and his mouth stayed crinkled for several minutes. The provocative tongue of Chief of Staff Kriegsturmer continued its sporadic quest to moisten his lips. "It's provocative, blatant sexuality, shoved in our faces to shame us and make us submit to your evil designs."
Dr. Stein reached under her sagging breasts, lifted and cupped them, nipples facing the President. "Good grief, I haven't heard these tired, old udders described as 'blatantly sexual' for a few decades now. If you find these appealing or provocative, you're in need of some serious psychological help. Mr. President. Or maybe you just want my phone number. . ." She winked at him.
"You are the ones who should be ashamed," Dr. Holter stated flatly.
"We knew what this would do to you. You can't look at a human breast without feeling ashamed, and that's why we're doing it; to shame you," the Northwestern economist interjected.
The President turned to his Secret Service agents, beckoning frantically. "Mr. Peterson, Mr. Enriquez, these women are a threat to National Security! Get them out of this office immediately."
The Secret Service agent shook his head. "Mr. President, the Professors are not engaged in any direct or indirect threat of bodily harm to your person or giving any indication they intend to do so. Their 15 minute appointment is not up yet, so we are not required to take any action regarding them at this time."
"Well at least cover them up, cover them up. I can't have half naked women in this office!" President Mastorum windmilled his arms in frustration.
"That has not been consistent policy in the Oval Office for the past 20 years, sir. Unless you give us a written directive ten days in advance of implementation of a policy change, we do not have to do anything unless they present you a direct threat of violence." Peterson and Enriquez maintained their decorum and equilibrium with determined effort.
President Mastorum looked at the Code Officer, who gave him a blank stare. "I don't have to do anything either, Sir, I just have to protect the codes. I suggest looking them in the eyes, sir, and don't look down."
He took a quick look around the room. Secretary Thlippknott's face was still frozen; he had crossed his legs tightly and was rocking his leg violently; Senator Jones was still hiding his face; NSA Advisor Kent had stopped moaning but was bent over and still rocking up and down. A bulge was growing in Kriegsturmer's pants, and he quickly buttoned his suitcoat in an effort of hide it; the buttons straining against a girth that had grown since the suit's purchase. The Secret Service men were doing their statue impressions and the Code Officer's head was down. Cradling his head in his hands, the President looked up at the women. His Press Secretary started humming Lonesome Valley until his boss cut him off with a glare; the President squinted at the Professor's chests. "What does T. A. R. T. stand for?" The letters were printed on their chests in red.
"Teachers Against Righteous Tyranny, Mr. President," said the silver haired Poet Laureate. "We are not representatives of the National Education Association. This is a new movement to protest how your Administration is subverting our republic under the guise of a return to traditional values. Your promises of freedom are cover for opportunities to limit the lives of ordinary citizens, to continue the redistribution of wealth to the upper classes, and make to compel them to be your willing subjects in every important matter. When the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade you wrote in secret takes force next year, the citizens of every nation will be the serfs of Global Corporations that will be answerable to no one, not even democratically elected governments."
The blond Stanford professor, standing with her hands on her curvaceous hips, took the lead with a toss of her head. "The educational standards of the past few years have been spin control to make substandard education officially disappear, producing at least two generations of functional illiterates with no idea of how language, science or economics work. Health Care has systematically deprived the middle class and those just above the poverty state of the art treatment by the means of decreasing job benefits and 'market trends' that drive up prices. Your main donors have long controlled the major news services and in the past five years brought all major entertainment media under their control so any criticism or insight into what's really happening is muted or discredited as it becomes public. All this creates a chronically misled majority that are easy prey for any manipulation you want to perform on them."
"And with your alliance with certain religious movements lets you baptize your agenda with moral rectitude, while condemning your opponents as morally wrong," continued the redheaded Dr. Adams. She punctuated her words by jabbing relentlessly with her right hand, which caused her generous mammaries to wobble as she spoke, the right one dancing wildly. "You know how much of a monopoly of the media and politics you need to get your way, and you permit just enough dissent to legitimate yourselves as democratically elected leaders. It must have been tough with the Democrats going out of business eight years ago, but the label 'Liberal' is still good for frightening people, isn't it?"
"And my dear professor from Northwestern University of Chicago, Illinois, where you wouldn't dare go topless at this time of year," interjected the reedy voice of the Secretary of Education, "what's to keep us from labeling you Liberals and degenerates? I see more than enough evidence of this before credible witnesses of your libertine attitudes to demonize anything you may have to say."
The Chicago economist replied immediately, "The Rev. Dr. William R. Thlippknott, or should I say Pastor Billy Bob? Why do you keep casting furtive glances our way, and pump your left calf up and down so frantically? Do you have something to hide? Is there an uncomfortable bulge below your personal Beltway? It seems rather ironic that looking at something beautiful God created gives you such distress, and brings about urges that you would undoubtedly term Satanic. Mr. Kriegsturmer has been most obvious with his desire, in spite of the fact this is neither the time or place to pursue what he so clearly wants to do. What we are doing could not be called sexual or obscene in any way, shape or form. We are engaged in Civil Disobedience, which is our God given Right as Americans, and you haven't found a way to obliterate that Right yet."
"We know about your first Church, Pastor Billy Bob, and your sudden departure when the Church ledgers didn't quite balance. Your current wife was the Youth Minister in your second Church, and you worked with her for several years when you were still married to your first wife, didn't you?" Dr. Stein continued. "Your Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Divine Providence University looks impressive on your wall; it's a shame that there is no record of your attendance at that school."
Dr. Jessica Holter shook her long, blonde hair with a toss of her head, her hands staying on her hips. "We also know about improprieties in counting ballots at Senator Jones' first election, as well as how his relationships with several prominent lobbyists have affected legislation. The name 'Sniveling Sidney' should mean something to the Senator from Nebraska as well, and arouse some curiosity about his leisure activities." Another toss of her head gave her nipples a slight bounce. "Mr. Blandini's reputation as a reporter was developed in tabloid television and print, which is public knowledge anyway. National Security Advisor Kent's military record has been overdrawn. He finished 231 out of 249 in his graduating class at Virginia Military Academy, and although he did achieve the rank of Major, his entire service was spent in Supply. His heroic story from Desert Storm was driving a gas truck to supply the second wave, and not the story circulated in the press. Mr. Kriegsturmer's previous job was CEO of U.S. Polo federation."
"You can't document us as liberals, either," Dr. Stein interjected. "We haven't belonged to any political party at any time of our careers, and our prolific writings have been consistently apolitical. What you're going to get tomorrow at nine o'clock is more of what you see here: T.A.R.T. demonstrations around the country in every major city, right in the downtown and in the suburbs, no matter what the weather. Teachers Against Righteous Tyranny will be protesting bare breasted the injustice of this administration. Hundreds of thousands of T.A.R.T.s are committed already for the first day, and who knows what'll happen once the cover blows off all the T.A.R.T.s and their supporters. We may even get some people claiming to be teachers who aren't: doctors, lawyers, professionals of every field."
The NSA Advisor controlled himself enough to peek up malignantly: "We'll have you arrested. We'll put the National Guard out on you: you'll go to jail."
"I don't think so," said the Northwestern Nobel prize winner. "We have legal permits to demonstrate in every town, and we have the Right of Freedom of Expression, which you haven't managed to get overturned in the Courts yet. There will be nothing titillating or sexually provocative about any of the demonstrations. It will look silly to arrest half naked T.A.R.T.s at gunpoint, and you don't have the jail space or the personnel to process all the people you'll need to take away. We will fight you in court every step of the way, and at some point, we'll win. You won't be able to keep T.A.R.T.s undercover."
"And how do you propose to do that, since you admit we control all the major news outlets?" replied Press Secretary Blandini.
The silver haired poet from Vermont looked graciously at the man. "Well, Guido, there's the small, independent news sources you haven't co-opted, the foreign press, of course, they're aware of our plans and will be there to cover the demonstrations. There will also be a new website based in another country that will have unedited pictures and reports of the demonstrations and documentation of everything you've done and are doing. You won't be able to overload the website: we have redundant sites in many places and we've arranged it so your filtered search engines will find them anyway. Of course, once the sites goes up, the information will be replicated by others via personal blogs, and will be expanded by countless contributors. The world is going to see all the sordid deals you've been pulling for years, and you won't be able to spin your way out of this web."