In the long war against terrorism, the US Government had taken on extraordinary powers. And now that the war was won, powerful forces in the government had no intention of relinquishing those powers. As in 1860, the country was on the verge of civil war. And as in 1860, a leader arose to save the country-but it was not the President this time. Instead, the Governor of Texas was the woman of destiny. . . .
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A State of Disobedience
By Tom Kratman
Baen BooksISBN: 0-7434-7170-9
Chapter OneFrom the transcript at trial: Commonwealth of Virginia v. Alvin Scheer
* * *
by MR. STENNINGS:
Q. Sir, Please state your name for the Judge.
A. Scheer, Your Honor, sir. Alvin G. Scheer.
Q. And where do you live, Mr. Scheer?
A. Well, the past several months, at least, I've been living if you could call it that, at the Fairfax County Jail. Before that? I lived in Texas, little town called White Deer, not too far from Amarillo.
Q. Mr. Scheer, please tell the judge your story.
A. Yes, sir. Your honor, I understand from Mr. Stennings I need to tell y'all everything. I don't mind. But where to begin?
If it 'tweren't the worst of times; surely 'twern't the best, neither.
Heard something like that once on an old movie on TV. "Best and worst." Might maybe have come out of a book. Don't rightly know. I ain't no educated man. Always been just a simple working man ... "simple"-that's me. Not sophisticated, you know. Not like them folks over in Washington, the ones that got all the answers to everything.
I watch 'em. I watch 'em on TV. Got an answer for everything. It used not be so bad; I remember. Used to be a man could rightly expect a job, a wage to support his family and himself, taxes that didn't eat him alive. Nope, surely 'twern't the best.
Lotsa folks turned to religion ...
"Willi! Willi! Willi! WILLI!"
The sound grew. Louder and louder the crowd chanted as their goddess ascended the stage to the podium. The chant's force caused dust to spring up from little unseen corners of the auditorium. It assaulted the ears. It overwhelmed the senses. It made the internal organs ripple in a way that was unpleasant to anyone not a devotee of politics.
To Ms. Wilhelmina Rottemeyer, President-Elect of the United States of America, the sound was orgasm. Never in her life had a thrusting man entering her body given her such a glorious feeling. To be honest, never in her life had a man made her feel anything but weight, that and-not infrequently-disgust. Her ex-husband had mostly made her feel disgust.
Reaching the podium, Rottemeyer surveyed the rainbow sea of devoted, ecstatic faces before her. She locked eyes with her lover, her true lover, retired-and soon to be recalled and promoted-Army Lieutenant General Caroline McReavy. McReavy smiled warmly. Another small shudder of orgasm swept Rottemeyer's body, though it failed to reach her face.
Lifting both arms up and outward, palms down, Rottemeyer made gentle patting motions. Gradually the sound ebbed. WILLI! Willi! Willi! Willi.
She began to speak. "My people. My people. I have just received a telephone call from the President. He concedes the electio-"
Louder even than before, the crowd broke out in a mindless animal shriek of fury and victory. Windows vibrated, threatening to shatter. Rottemeyer vibrated too as she closed her eyes and smiled a sort of Mona Lisa smile, another little orgasm well hidden.
Eyes opened again. The smile grew wider. It grew divine. All gazed-glassy-eyed, slack-jawed-worshipping with hearts full to bursting.
"The way was hard. They" (everyone knew that by "they" Rottemeyer meant the Republicans, the religious right, the antichoice fanatics, the prosperous ... the people who disagreed with her, in other words) "fought us long and hard trying to steal this election. They tried every low, dirty, sneaky, legalistic trick in the book," said W. Rottemeyer ... Esquire.
"They even murdered the man who should have been standing here today." Or at least we made it look that way, thought W. Rottemeyer, murderess.
"Anything but accept the will of the People!"
The People howled their outrage and their triumph until quelled again by their leader's gentle pats.
"But now the will of the People is made clear to all. Not only do we control the presidency, but with the switchovers and gains in both the House and Senate we control the legislature. With that, we will control the Supreme Court."
"From this day forward the past is swept away. No longer will we tolerate oppression. No more will we accept second place. Never again will the rich oppress the poor. In the new, glorious future we will bring dead white men will finally lose their throttle on progress! My people, the great day is here!"
* * *
"Oh, isn't this a great day for the Republic?"
Governor Juanita Montoya-Serasin de Seguin (D, Tx)-she went by her husband's name, Seguin-smiled benignly upon her tall, slender, graying adjutant general. In her size seven dress-not bad for a mother of four strong boys-and with her pretty Mexican peasant-woman face, she radiated maternal warmth and caring. Some said that was what had gotten her elected-"How can you vote against your mother?"
But Juanita was much more than a face. A shrewd politician? Both her rivals and her supporters said so. A woman of principle? There too they agreed, though some of them had, sometimes, disagreed with those principles. Especially did those of her party but not of her state disagree. Juanita was far too conservative to suit the social-democrat core of her party. In point of fact, she was far more conservative than many a northern Republican. Texas had always been a funny place; Texas politics rarely quite matched those of the rest of the country.
"You didn't like Willi's speech, Jack? I thought she did a fine job ... speaking, that is."
Glaring balefully at his chief (the adjutant general for the State of Texas, like all National Guard officers, took his oath of office to his governor), Major General John Lewis Schmidt answered, "I could care less about the speech, Juani. What scares me ... terrifies would be more like it ... is that that ... that ... that woman has complete control of the federal government for at least the next two years. Worse, she's got dreams and some of them are doozies."
"Dreams? You think?" Juanita laughed. She knew that Rottemeyer had big plans for her presidency; big plans for society. Some of those dreams Juanita even agreed with, relatively conservative democrat or not.
Schmidt huffed. "You're just trying to get my goat," he snorted. His sun-worn, leathery face creased in a broad smile. "Still pissed about the pranks your brother and I used to play on you?"
"Oh, that was long ago. Before the war, even."
"Yes," answered Schmidt, dreamily, "it was before the war."
* * *
Lieutenant Schmidt pressed himself deeper into the muddy earth of the paddy as the air was split by the shattering crump-crump-crump of enemy mortar rounds. The stench of human feces filled his nostrils, causing his stomach to lurch in protest. Scant inches above him jagged, razor sharp pieces of 82-millimeter mortar shell casing whined past like so many giant, malevolent mosquitoes on a homicidal binge.
Around Schmidt a platoon of Vietnamese Rangers-those left alive-cowered under the withering hail. He risked a look around and saw the unit's Vietnamese officer running away, his cast off equipment flying behind him. "Useless dink," he muttered.
A body flopped to the mud next to him. Schmidt tightened his grip on his rifle and began to turn before he heard a calm voice-under the circumstances a remarkably calm voice, "If we can hang on until night we ought to make it, Jack."
The lieutenant smiled. "You mean, sir, of course."
"Sure, Jack ... I mean, 'sir.'" The speaker scratched his nose with a finger, the middle finger of his left hand.
"Any chance for artillery, Sergeant Montoya?" Schmidt asked, pretending not to have noticed that his subordinate was giving him the universal salute.
"Not a chance. The VC got the radio when they got the radio man."
"'Shit,'" echoed the stocky little Tex-Mex sergeant. Still with a voice of calm he said, "Not a total loss, though, since that was Lieutenant Dong's excuse for taking off. And we're better off without him. I'm going to get to work on setting up whatever we can of a perimeter." Without another word he crawled off toward a knot of soldiers hiding, poorly, in a little shell crater.
Where does he get it; the courage, the calm? wondered an admiring Jack Schmidt.
* * *
Focus returned to the old general's eyes. "Sorry, Juani. I was ... wandering. Thinking about Jorge. It occurs to me that at the precise moment we were caught in that ambush your new president and her ex were calling us murderers and baby killers. Jorge Montoya: a baby killer!"
* * *
Dei Gloria Mission, Waco, Texas
"... in nomine Patrii, Filioque et Spiritu Sancti."
A very young baby squalled under the Baptismal waters pouring from the vessel in the hands of Father Montoya.
Holding the baby, Elpidia-the diminutive fifteen-year-old mother-looked up at the priest nervously. The Latin words were close enough to the girl's native-albeit poor-Spanish that she sensed the meaning of the words, if not their theological implications. There had been little of God in the girl's short, unholy life. In truth, there had been little of anything good. Drugs, sex, sex for drugs, sex for money to buy drugs; these had been her universe and her faith.
But that had changed....
* * *
The slender, tiny, and provocatively clad Mexican prostitute shivered in the cold, windy night of a San Antonio winter. Doing her best to shield her half exposed budding breasts from the wind, the hooker walked past the little gray pornographic bookstore opposite a well-lit used car lot already fronted by several working girls on their nightly patrol. Knowing this was not her area, and the girls already there might object strongly to competition, she continued on her way up Broadway to another area where the streetwalkers gathered.
"Hi Elpi," greeted one of the transvestites standing outside the bright and cheery Wendy's. "Cold night to be dressed for 'work.' "
"No help for it, Susan." Politely, Elpidia used the "girl's" working name. "Got to feed the baby and my man."
Susan nodded her understanding. He (She? It?) likewise was bound as tightly as any slave to the needs, drug needs in both cases, of a derelict.
The girl continued on to the next corner and began her sales pitch. This was a simple procedure; she gave the "look" to every passing car that seemed likely to be holding a man, barring only those that were certain to contain a police officer.
The look? It was something easy to perform, hard to describe, and shared equally by every prostitute who had ever peddled herself on a corner. Part direct stare, part inviting smile, part something subliminal, the "look" advertised her services and prices in a way no other form of advertising could compete with.
Shortly a car pulled over. A quick negotiation session was concluded. Elpidia entered the car, took her money, and proceeded to work.
Half a night and seven autos later, Elpidia was considering calling it a day. Then she reconsidered the beating that was sure to follow if she didn't bring home enough money for her boyfriend's expensive habit and decided on one more try.
She gave the look to a passing Ford Taurus and was immediately rewarded. The Taurus slowed, turned right, and came to a stop just around the corner. The girl hurried over.
"Looking for a da ...?" she asked, then stopped cold, her hooker's false smile suddenly turning to dread as she recognized the clerical collar on the driver as he turned a severe gaze toward her.
"How old are you, girl?"
* * *
Elpidia no longer wore the garb of a prostitute. She no longer painted her face, in part, to cover the bruises. Instead, from mission stores she wore clothes that, even though used, still made her look like a real human being rather than some streetwalking piece of meat.
Wrapping the newly baptized baby in a fluffy mission-owned towel, Elpidia clutched it to her breast, patting it dry and whispering soothing motherly sounds. "There, there my little baby. There, there mi alma, mi corozon. Hush little Pedro. Mama's here and she'll never let anything bad for you happen."
Father Montoya smiled. He thought, I might have had a child like this girl. I might have been a grandfather this day.
The good father turned away from the girl and her baby, turned toward the several dozen people, most of them young people, who made up the population of the mission.
He began, "Today we welcome this child into the warm brotherhood of Christ. We give it, through our Holy Father, a new life, an eternal life. Not for him the never ending death of unbelief, of faithlessness to God."
"But I hasten to add, it is only through the courage of this little boy's young mother that he was allowed to see the light of day at all. For many, too many, young boys and girls the darkness comes before they even are given the chance to see the light...."
* * *
Bright winter light streamed though the windows, bathing the cold stones of the Capitol Building, as Rottemeyer, surrounded by her sycophants and security, entered to address a joint session of Congress.
The Congress she was to address was nearly perfect, her instrument, her tool. It consisted of 535 members, 100 senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. Not all of either group were present, though the vast majority were. Fifty-five senators were from her own Democratic Party, though three of these were far more Republican than many Republicans. Of the 45 Republicans, three were nominal; "RINOs" they were called, Republican In Name Only. These could be counted on to vote her way about three times in four. Of the members of the House, she had an acceptable, even substantial, majority as well. Never since Franklin Delano Roosevelt held near dictatorial power before and during the Second World War had a President of the United States wielded such overwhelming political force at home. Even the Supreme Court was so evenly balanced-though she hoped to unbalance it very soon-that it was most unlikely to interfere with Rottemeyer's plans in any significant way.
The assembled Congress stood and clapped as she walked down the aisleway to the rostrum, though the Republicans, most of them, did so out of mere politeness, devoid of enthusiasm.
Senator Ross Goldsmith (Republican, New Mexico) was extremely successful in hiding his enthusiasm. But then, the enthusiasm of the bespectacled, graying, balding old man was so tiny in scope he could have hidden it under a gnat.
Excerpted from A State of Disobedience by Tom Kratman Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unreadable, assenine, implausible. Thinly-veiled political rant. Don't waste your time money or brain cells.
Although I found most of the characters interesting I could not help but feel that historiclly painful events and concepts were used to justify a plot in which a multitude of people accept, agree to and participate in a series of fictional events leading to the next American Civil War...not 'Revolution'. Anyone who truely studies the extensive nature of our government, its' numerous safeguards, it's respective agencies and the wonderful document we call the constitution would know that this plot goes well beyond the logical suspension of disbelief to the intellectually insulting. I find this extraordinarily saddening since the author weaves an interestingly in depth look into his characters and develops said characters to a point where I found remnants of real people in those characters.
It was interesting, and OK, but nothing to really write home about. The characters were interesting while I was reading, but forgettable. The propaganda about how the military wouldn't fight Americans was kind of heavy handed.
I kept turning the pages and finished so quickly, but recommended to sevaral friends in 3 days
More of a political what-if than a military novel. This should be an enjoyable read if your politics run towards the Tea Party. The Federal government bad guys are thinly veiled characters of current Democratic Party leaders. The good guy Texans are very familiar if you watch 24, Dallas or Walker: Texas Ranger. Despite the cover, there is not a large dose of military action. Political maneuvering and spin doctoring often takes center stage in driving the conflict. But is moves along fairly quickly and is somewhat plausible.
Tom Kratman has extensive military training and experience that lends an air of possibility and credibility to this engaging tail of a world that could be. He shows uncommon expertise in a new writer and a good eye to details in his world and story creation. Read his works and enjoy his view of the world that should be.
By 2060, whether terrorism is real or used by politicians to control the masses, several laws including the Patriot and Victory Acts curtail individual rights for the collective security of the nation. The current President Wilhelmina Rottemeyer is establishing a dictatorship after ¿stealing¿ the election. Now she begins to use the military to further her attempts at consolidating control in a police state.................................... In Waco, Texas, the military assaults the Del Gloria Mission killing twenty-six children among others. Texas Governor Juanita Seguin is horrified at the wanton unnecessary death and destruction. She concludes that more is coming from DC unless leaders like her lead the fight back. The second war of independence has begun in Austin................................. Though conceptually quite interesting and overall well written in spite of a bungee jumping plot, this cautionary tale simplifies the conservative vs. liberal debate in this country by making everything on the right acceptable and everything from the left evil. Thus the President apparently is that malevolent incarnate Hilary destroying freedom while the Governor seems like the Greatest American hero George saving democracy. Ignoring that the Patriot Act was passed by a right wing Republican controlled House, equal sided Senate and signed by a right wing Republican President, the novel does raise issues of security vs. freedom in an exciting thriller. Though the fear should be of both extremes (shocking but Ruby Ridge occurred during the Bush the senior administration), Tom Kratman makes a strong case in this gripping futuristic political military thriller for when is it acceptable to go beyond civil disobedience to outright revolt against the government.............................. Harriet Klausner