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  • AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT: A CONTEMPORARY CHRISTMAS TALE

    Reposted for Christmas

    AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT
    A Contemporary Christmas Tale

    John Chuckman

    It was only a matter of time before Santa Claus himself came under the Neanderthal-eyed scrutiny of American intelligence. After all, Santa’s citizenship is unknown, and he crosses borders with no passport or other form of identification. No one knows whether he even has a valid pilot’s license.

    Although his image is well known, there is no official photograph on file with American border control, and he has never been fingerprinted or body-searched. Most disconcerting of all, he delivers parcels to children all over the world, including the children living in the Axis of Evil. His intentions with this activity are not understood beyond some fuzzy generalization about kindness and generosity to all. Clearly, here was the world’s largest unplugged pipeline to potential terrorists.

    It was only after receiving no response to several urgent letters from the State Department requesting an immediate meeting in Washington that a decision was made to approach Santa’s North Pole solitude. As usual in such matters with the people now running America, a wing of America’s most lethal killing machines was employed for the purpose. You never know what you might encounter in such a forbidding place.

    As the planes first zoomed over the icy silence of the North Pole workshop, one of the pilots decided to swoop down for a closer look. He was one of those daring fly-boys, and his tail struck the only wire for thousands of miles around, the North Pole Telegraph, sending his plane hurling into the workshop in a ball of flames with tons of ammunition and missiles exploding.

    Santa and Mrs. Claus rushed out of their snow-blanketed gingerbread house to see what was happening, trying to calm the terrified reindeer running from their stable at one end of the house. The elves, too, scurried towards the stable, trying to stop the reindeer from running or flying off.

    Above, in the dark vault of sky, the other pilots observed the explosion and saw missile trails smoking into the air. They also saw the frantic activity below and quickly concluded their comrade had come under anti-aircraft attack. So they swooped down in attack formation, rapid-fire canon tearing into everything ahead of them.

    Most of the reindeer fell in the snow, spurting warm blood across the bluish-white surface. Most of the elves, too, fell gasping for life. Mrs. Claus received a wound in the head and instantly fell limp. Santa tried heroically to reach his wife but realized the situation was hopeless and turned, running into the darkness accompanied by Prancer, the only surviving reindeer.

    The only witness to the massacre is one surviving elf now living somewhere in Canada under an assumed identity, fearful for his life. It is only from his testimony that we know anything about Santa’s fate.

    Realizing the horrific mistake they had made, the pilots dropped white phosphorus bombs with the intention of incinerating all evidence. The entire North Pole lit up and Santa and Prancer could be seen in the distance on a huge block of ice drifting off into the dark sea, the ice everywhere cracked and weakened by the combined effects of white phosphorus and years of global warming.

    Within in a few hours, the beating sound of a black helicopter approached Santa and Prancer. The elf, from his hiding place in a snowdrift, could only make out intermittent sounds across the howling coldness, but it seems armed men emerged from the helicopter, shot Prancer and shackled Santa, shoving him into the dark, beating machine. The elf heard a word that sounded like Guantanamo and Santa has not been heard from since. Reports of his fate reached the International Red Cross and organizations like Amnesty International, leading to inquiries, but these have been met only with silence from American authorities.

  • A PRISONER'S DREAM FROM THE C.I.A.'S TORTURE GULAG...

    CHUCKMAN - CIA - PRISONER'S DREAM FROM THE TORTURE GULAG

  • C.I.A.: AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

    CHUCKMAN - CIA - AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

  • THEY SET THE GARBAGE OUT EARLY AT LANGLEY...

    CHUCKMAN - CIA - SET THE GARBAGE OUT EARLY

  • HOW STEPHEN HARPER WILL BE REMEMBERED BY CANADIANS

    CHUCKMAN - HARPER - HOW HE WILL BE REMEMBERED

  • LIVING WITH INSANITY: Harper, Abbott, and Cameron at the Brisbane G-20

    LIVING WITH INSANITY

    Harper, Abbott, and Cameron at the Brisbane G-20

    John Chuckman

    Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is reported by a spokesman, to have had the following exchange with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the Brisbane G-20 summit: “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.” Putin is said to have replied, “Impossible. Since we are not there.”

    A graceless bit of diplomatic crudity from a truly graceless man, Stephen Harper, someone Canadians know has a history of underhanded practices at home, from introducing ugly personal-attack campaign advertising, using secretive and bullying tactics in parliament, failing to deal with corrupt practices by subordinates especially an American-style election scandal of robo-calls which sent some voters to the wrong polls, to having appointed several unbelievably incompetent and corrupt ministers. He is known for a ferocious temper in private, a very controlling man who grants his political associates absolutely no freedom of expression, and is reported by insiders as having on at least one occasion thrown a chair in a meeting. His silencing of Canadian government scientists from offering their opinions on issues in areas of expertise has been a simmering international scandal, as has his complete suppression of environmental issues.

    Before Harper, Canada enjoyed for many decades a reputation for fairness and decency and intelligence in international affair with statesmanship and openness exhibited by figures like Lester Pearson or Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. Harper has destroyed a great deal of that as he pursues a single-minded role as American junior partner in almost all things.

    He completely abandoned Canada’s traditional policies of fairness and balance in the Middle East, literally shocking many Canadians at times with fervent outbursts about Israel, including suggestions that Canadian critics of Israel are anti-Semitic. He does this, as any astute political observer recognizes, to solicit increased campaign funds from Canada’s financially successful Jewish community, taking his cue from Republicans in the United States such as Newt Gingrich who alone received $18 million dollars from one wealthy supporter of Israel for his last nomination campaign in exchange for inserting into his speeches that there was no such thing as a Palestinian, an utterly insincere and ridiculous statement. Since Israel is no admirer of President Putin’s, he being too independent-minded and opposed to the American exceptionalism Israel tightly embraces and by which it prospers, this activity of Harper’s puts him in an anti-Russian frame of mind from the start.

    Harper has made an annual photo-op journey to Canada’s North, always trying to appear to voters as the man most concerned with a future there of melting ice creating free access through the Northwest Passage. Ironically, he periodically mentions Russia as the nation he is most concerned about, but Canada’s recent history couldn’t make it clearer that it is the United States which represents the great threat to our Northern waters and shore. Everything from unauthorized American atomic submarine prowling to a giant American oil tanker passing to published American charts showing this future open water as international tells a pretty harsh story. But in every detail, Harper only pretends America is a great and non-threatening friend.

    Harper is the single most obsessed leader in Canada’s history with pleasing, almost fawning over, the United States. Had the history of Canada, which included a great deal of disagreement and contention with the United States over its many imperialistic behaviors, included many leaders of Harper’s character, there quite likely would not be a county called Canada today.

    So here are the demonstrated qualities of the man performing as Canada’s diplomatic ass at the G-20 in Brisbane. He demonstrates a genuinely anal-retentive temperament, is intolerant of differences of opinion, and embraces a wilful blindness to the world’s greatest threat to peace, the United States in its self-appointed role as imperial arbiter among nations.

    In case you wonder why a man like Harper even holds office in Canada, it is because the effective opposition was split with internal battles and because the last leader they selected in desperation following those battles was a man of no political intelligence or even experience and a totally unattractive personality to the public, Michael Ignatieff, someone who managed to do almost everything wrong. It also reflects a democratic deficit in our parliamentary structure where a party with just over 39% of the vote can be a parliamentary majority. So despite Canadians consistently being about 60% or higher inclined to somewhat progressive parties, Harper has had a free run at pole-axing the country’s traditional international reputation. Every day we come to be seen as a bit more like the deceptive and brutal American colony in the Middle East he embraces so closely.

    We unfortunately live in a time utterly lacking statesmen in the West. I don’t know the detailed backgrounds of those other aggressive fools at the G-20, Abbott of Australia and Cameron of Britain, but I know they are both men who have lied exceedingly and been intimately involved with such nasty business as favors for the unsavory Rupert Murdoch empire. I can think of nothing which recommends either of them as statesmen. Indeed, they both, quite literally, kowtow to America.

    Putin is head and shoulders above these men in intellect and focus, readiness to communicate clear views to the world, someone demonstrating considerable patience, and, from all evidence, someone notably free of the blowhard ideology which virtually characterizes Harper, Abbott, and Cameron.

    Putin’s moves in Ukraine seem to me appropriate for dealing with a deliberately-induced crisis in an important neighboring country, and one with a long history of connections and associations. He has not invaded Ukraine, something which he could easily do were he so inclined. I suspect he has supplied weapons to East Ukraine, but that is something the United States does all the time, including supplying weapons to some of the most brutal groups and governments on earth, as it is right now doing in Syria, with secret night cargo flights out of Turkey to terrorist cutthroats. Just ask yourself what America would do about a comparable situation in Mexico: patience simply would not exist, and Mexico City would be quickly overrun by tanks.

    The people of East Ukraine, Russian in background and sympathies, deserve protection as much as they deserve the huge amounts of emergency supplies Russia has supplied in a conflict owing its origin entirely to the covert acts of America. Had the coup-established government of Ukraine originally offered protection of Eastern interests, including language rights they openly tried suppressing, the story might have been different, but they did precisely the opposite, passing unfair laws, making threat after threat, and attacking their own citizens. Who wouldn’t rebel in that environment, including any of the states of the United States? How easily people forget past rebellions in the United States, the greatest of which was the Civil War, still the bloodiest war Americans ever experienced.

    It is quite clear that the United States is responsible for destabilizing Ukraine. Its CIA funds have been invested into many unsavoury projects, perhaps most disturbing is its paying support to a collection of neo-Nazi groups ranging from extremist parties to violent militia forces, some of the very groups who have committed atrocities such as murdering many hundreds of civilians and some of whom actually march under swastika-like flags. It does seem more than a bit strange that men like Harper, Abbott, and Cameron implicitly support that kind of filthy work while charging Putin with dark acts, dark acts which are stated ambiguously and certainly never proved.

    It is also clear that the United States has pressured all authorities involved to delay and obscure the investigation into the destruction of Flight MH17, and the only explanation for that can be America’s preventing, for as long as possible while the new coup-created government of Ukraine consolidates its position, the highly embarrassing finding that Ukraine in fact shot it down. The United States has said over and over it has evidence about the crash, yet it has never produced a scrap of it. Just as it never produced evidence for so many past claims from what actually happened on 9/11 to the assassination of a President.

    The great irony of the G-20 summit in Brisbane is that its only substantial agreement concerned doing everything possible to promote growth in a world whose economy is dangerously stagnating, yet it wasted time and energy on America’s fantasy stories about Russia and Ukraine, insulted Russia’s President, and threatened in some cases further growth-suppressing sanctions. Nothing could be more contradictory and unproductive or, frankly, just plain stupid.

  • WHAT WE TRULY LEARNED FROM THE GREAT WAR AND THE ABSURDITY OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

    WHAT WE TRULY LEARNED FROM THE GREAT WAR AND THE ABSURDITY OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

    John Chuckman

    No matter what high-blown claims the politicians make each year on Remembrance Day, The Great War was essentially a fight between two branches of a single royal family over the balance of power on the continent of Europe, British foreign policy holding to a longstanding principle that no one nation should ever be permitted to dominate the continent.

    It was also a war between the world’s greatest existing imperial power, Britain, and another state, Germany, which aspired to become a greater imperial power than it was.

    To a considerable extent, it was a war resulting from large standing armies and great arms races, a telling indictment of those who preach the false gospel of ever-greater military strength to defend freedom. As with any huge, shiny new investment, great armies will always be used, and the results are almost invariably great misery.

    The First World War was not a war to end all wars, as a slogan of the time claimed. If anything, it was a precursor for a great many wars to follow, and, most importantly, it was a powerful and important cause of World War II.

    It also was not a war about democracy since none of the participants, including Britain, would qualify as democracies by any reasonable reckoning with their heavily limited voting franchise and government structures stacked in the interests of old and privileged orders, quite apart from their holding empires whose populations enjoyed no franchise at all.

    The war was also one of history’s great instances of mass hysteria, particularly among the young men of several countries. In Britain, there have been many laments over the loss of some fine and promising young men who rushed to join up. In Germany, it was no different, and we note one young man, then of no importance, by the name of Adolph Hitler rushing to join up, much as his British contemporaries, to share in the “glory.”

    Today, we pretend shock that young men sometimes go abroad to fight for a cause, religious or otherwise, but compared to the mass insanity of World War I, what we see today is truly petty. The authorities everywhere then made great efforts to push young men, using songs, marching bands, slogans, shame and social pressure in many forms, and countless lies. The nonsense about the Kaiser’s troops bayonetting babies was one example, a lie served up again decades later with a slight twist by George Bush the Elder’s government as it desperately wanted support to invade Iraq, the babies the second time around supposedly being ripped from respirators.

    World War I made absolutely no sense. It achieved nothing worth achieving, and it did so at immense cost. Apart from killing about 20,000,000 people, the war left countless crippled and disabled and created a great swathe of destruction across Europe.

    If Germany had been allowed to dominate Europe for a time, it would have made comparatively little difference to the lives of most people. Indeed, today, that is the situation we find in the European Union.

    It is important to realize that large wars are always revolutionary in nature, and no one at the outset can possibly predict the outcomes of such chaotic storms in terms of social, economic, and political change. World War I very much set the stage, with huge losses of men and the incompetence demonstrated by Imperial commanders, for the Communists to take power in Russia, a development which led ultimately to the Cold War.

    The War’s immense costs and the realization by millions of soldiers from abroad that they fought for a nation which gave them no rights provided the great first blow towards ending the British Empire. The approaching World War II would finish the work of imperial rot and collapse.

    The First World War set the stage for the rise of Hitler less than two decades later and made inevitable the catastrophe of World War II, which would inflict at least two and a half times as many deaths again and would see such horrors as the Holocaust and the use of atomic bombs.

    So why, about a century later, do we still treat The Great War with reverence and sentimental remembrance?

    The act of remembrance actually contradicts the sound human tendency to forget terrible experiences. Of course, we hear repeated countless times the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” one of those glib and catchy sayings which seem at first hearing to carry some deep truth. Just the consideration that in real life no two events ever can be identical makes the saying a pleasantly-phrased nonsense, resembling the aphorisms on far lighter subjects from Oscar Wilde.

    Those repeating the glib phrase as received wisdom from an unimpeachable prophet always neglect to remind us of the importance of scrupulously defining what it is that you are remembering. If we remember World War One for exactly what it was, and not for what we wish it had been, we see a vast, pointless slaughter that succeeded in setting conditions for still more slaughter. Never repeating it would be a blessing indeed.

    But if we see it as moving and inspirational, if we associate its name with thoughts of ending war or protecting democracy or of great camaraderie and shared hardship, if we are emotionally moved by troops in uniforms and flags flying and bugles and drumbeats, then we most assuredly will repeat it, as we have already done more than once, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the arrogant politicians and jingoes want us ready to do.

    Remembrance Day surely is not about the loss of life, as we pretend it is, because the only way to hold those or any lives sacred is not to send them off to war in the first place. The ugly truth is that governments, run by men with great egos – likely more often than not, actual narcissists – who are supported by privileged wealth wanting to keep or expand its privilege, make the decision for wars largely on the basis of fairly primitive instincts, instincts about being first or not letting a competitor gain an advantage, or just vague and meaningless stuff about being manly or resolute – standing your ground, keeping a stiff upper lip, putting up with no nonsense, showing your manhood, and so on and so forth.

    One American politician, in a play on an infamous quote by George Wallace, said no one would ever “out-commie” him again in an election. Such was the thinking of Lyndon Johnson in making the fatal decision to start a major war in Southeast Asia. On just such hormone-laden considerations hung a decade’s brutal fighting and the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese.

    The real reason for the ceremonies and parades and speeches is to keep young men keen to go and kill and die, there being no group of humans more subject to cheap emotional appeals about glory and heroism than young men, as we see, ad nauseam, generation after generation.

    As I’ve written before, humans are little more than chimpanzees with larger brains, those larger brains enabling us to magnify immensely the power of our murderous instincts, a fact we seem determined proudly to display every Remembrance Day.

  • POLITICAL BUNRAKU

    POLITICAL BUNRAKU

    John Chuckman

    For those who are not familiar, Bunraku is an old form of Japanese puppet theater, its distinctive characteristic being that the puppeteers are on the stage with their puppets, dressed in black so that the audience can pretend not to see them.

    While many old art forms have conventions that are unrealistic by modern standards, there is something particularly unsatisfying about bunraku: you can pretend not to see the puppeteers but you cannot fail to see them.

    Bunraku, as it happens, offers a remarkable metaphor for some contemporary operations of American foreign policy. So many times – in Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Venezuela, Egypt - we see dimly the actors on stage, yet we are supposed to pretend they are not there. We can’t identify them with precision, but we know they are there. Most oddly, the press in the United States, and to a lesser extent that of its various allies and dependents, pretends to report what is happening without ever mentioning the actors. They report only the movements of the puppets.

    One of the consequences of this kind of activity is that many people, including many of your own, come simply not to believe you, no matter what newspapers and government spokespersons keep saying. Another consequence is that because many knowledgeable people no longer believe you, when it comes time to enlist the support of other nations for your activities, you must use behind-the-scenes pressure and threats, stretching the boundaries of alliance and friendship. After all, your major government friends and allies have sophisticated intelligence services themselves and are often aware of what you are trying to do.

    Still another consequence is that many people start doubting what you are saying concerning other topics. In the United States, a fairly large segment of the population does not believe the official version of a great deal of comparatively-recent American history, including explanations of John Kennedy’s assassination, of events around 9/11, of the downing of TWA Flight 800, of what Israel was doing when it attacked an American spy ship in 1967, and of the CIA’s past heavy connections with cocaine trafficking – just to name a few outstanding examples.

    Government in America feels the need only to go so far in its efforts to explain such matters because the doubters and skeptics, though many, are not a big enough segment of the population to matter greatly in political terms, and it is simply brutally true that the great passive mass of people are never well informed about anything outside their own lives. America is a place, as relatively few people abroad understand, where people must work very hard. Its industrial working class went through a great depression since, say, 1960, many of them now holding low-paid service jobs. Its middle-class workers have seen real incomes decline for decades, something providing part of the incentive for both parents in a family to work and for them to move into America’s great suburban sprawl of lower land costs as well as to embrace stores such as Wal-Mart with their bare-bones costs. Many Americans work so hard, they have little time to be concerned or informed about government, satisfying themselves that a few minutes with corporate television news is adequate, a phenomenon favoring the government’s interests since on any important and controversial subject the television networks (and the major newspapers) do the government’s bidding, mostly without being asked. American corporate news, especially in matters of foreign affairs, resembles nothing so much as nightly coverage of a banraku performance.

    Selling stuff, whether it’s widgets or religion or political ideas, is at the core of American life, and America’s one unquestionably original creation in the modern world involves the disciplines of marketing, advertising, and public relations – all highly artful aspects of selling stuff. The success of these methods has long been proved in American commerce, but they are no less effective when applied to other areas. So, it should hardly surprise that the same “arts” are heavily employed by and on behalf of government in propaganda and opinion-manipulation around its acts and policies. Indeed, we see America’s entire election system today having been reduced to little more than a costly, massive application of these crafty skills, and no department or agency of government is ever without its professional, full-time spokespeople and creative back-up staff, making sure that whatever words or numbers are spoken or printed never slip beyond what those arts have conjured up. Unacceptable photos, say those of women and children smashed by bombs or missiles hurled into the Mideast, are made simply to disappear much as they were in 1984.

    Government knows, too, that the American political system is heavily stacked against people with doubts ever gaining serious influence. Ninety-five percent of Senate elections go to incumbents, and because only one-third of the Senate faces re-election at any given election, a majority on some new matter is virtually impossible to build. The presidential candidates of the only two parties with a hope of being elected are almost as carefully groomed and selected as the party chairman of a former communist-bloc country, and generally about as surprising in their views.

    And always, time makes people forget, even with the most terrible issues. After a generation or two, there are relatively few people who are even aware there was an issue. In the case of the most overwhelming and terrifying event of my life, the Vietnam War, polls show a huge number of young Americans today don’t know what it was or when it occurred.

    These are the key factors permitting an American government to commission horrific acts abroad resembling those of the bloodiest tyrant, all while it smilingly prances across the international stage as democracy’s self-designated chief representative and advocate. As for the great mass of people, the 95% of humanity living outside the United States, no one in America’s government ever gives them a moment’s thought, unless they step out of line.

  • ON THE JIAN GHOMESHI SQUALOR AND CBC RADIO'S COWARDLY BEHAVIOR CONCERNING HIS ABUSE AS WELL AS ITS IGNORING ROB FORD'S PUBLIC ABUSE OF WOMEN AND ITS POOR HANDLING OF JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S TOTALLY CORRECT BEHAVIOR IN SUSPENDING TWO M.P.s OVER SEXUAL HARRASSMENT

    LETTER TO CBC RADIO

    John Chuckman

    Many on CBC Radio have commented on the Ghomeshi squalor. Anna Maria Tremonti, your finest interviewer when she’s in top form, joined with three guests recently discussing whether these events represented a watershed for women.

    The discussion proved pretty insipid, but there was truth in the notion of a watershed, not however the watershed discussed, that of a turn in male-female social relations, but one quite different.

    CBC Radio, on all programs, has always paid lip service to female equality, just as it does so many progressive concepts. But the reality behind the words we now know is something quite different, and it wasn’t just Ghomeshi’s behavior which revealed it.

    I cannot accept that other staff and CBC management were not aware of Ghomeshi’s reputation and office behavior for years. That kind of stink cannot be hidden. It reached even outsiders with one professor at Western reported as having advised students to avoid interning at Q. I certainly didn’t know the extent of things, but in Ghomeshi’s early broadcasting, I clearly heard stuff I would call “smarmy” in his references and emphases, something entirely alien to the sound of CBC, and I wrote CBC several times and ceased listening.

    For his behavior to be tolerated so very long means only that CBC management deliberately chose ratings over ethics, making the network not a bit different to the ruthless enterprises most hosts on CBC would decry.

    But there is a long thread to this theme. Toronto just had four years of a disgraceful man as Mayor. CBC typically, once the stories broke elsewhere, reported on his drunkenness and some other shameful behavior, but it always, always avoided the elephant in the room, his abuse of women. A while before he was elected, Ford had been arrested and taken away in handcuffs while his wife displayed a discolored face. She never pressed charges, as we can well imagine why. Other news sources reported that, not you.

    The most shocking display of his abuse was his frenetic sudden “press conference” after making insane public comments earlier about “eating pussy” (his very words). He literally dragged his shy wife before the cameras after fetching her from home. She stood as she was directed, but took a couple of steps away and looked down, resembling a brow-beaten prisoner. Sometimes she looked up, and she fiddled with her ring finger, but did not perform the “dutiful wife smiles as her husband speaks“ routine. Her body language spoke volumes. No one on CBC Radio ever dealt with this public, virtually criminal behavior so far as I’m aware.

    Ford also was reported by a woman Toronto politician as having touched her and spoken lewdly, and what did CBC Radio do with that? Or the several times he took prostitutes to his office, something we only learned from others.

    Now, just a short time before writing this, CBC Radio news reported on controversy swirling around Justin Trudeau’s decisive act of suspending two MPs over sexual harassment of others. Controversy? Trudeau acted perfectly after one of the women involved herself came to him complaining. His was a high standard of behavior, the only one. Only the National Post and the NDP’s leader, both ever hopeful for a point to score against Trudeau, see controversy here.

    I think it clear CBC has consistently failed for years to act – in its reporting, discussions, and in not conducting any investigative journalism around such matters - on the principles to which it gives endless lip service. That is the real watershed: the discovery that CBC’s conduct is hardly different from the gorillas it’s always decrying.

  • GEORGE BUSH IN HELL

    GEORGE BUSH IN HELL

    John Chuckman

    Opening Scene: Entrance hall in the Bush mansion in Houston where George and Laura have retired after leaving the White House.

    There is grand staircase in the center, an elaborate chandelier hanging down from the ceiling, a half-table with a vase along the wall to the right, and a federal-style entrance door with brass fittings and a fan-window above on the far right.

    A clicking noise is heard and the door swings open. The silhouette of George Bush is seen against dim bluish lights from the street. He pauses a few seconds and reaches for a switch on the wall, not finding it easily. When he does, sconces on the same wall as the table and vase come on, casting a warm, soft light on the scene. He awkwardly turns and closes the door quietly.

    The figure starts to move forward, and it is immediately apparent from his lurching motion that he is drunk. He moves slowly, trying to prevent any noise or accidents. Nevertheless, after a few steps, he collides with the table, knocking the vase over to smash noisily on the floor.

    At the top of the stairs, Laura appears in a rather elegant, flowing nightgown. She places her hands on her hips and glares hard towards George.

    GEORGE: “Hi, Honey. Didn’t know ya’d still be up.”

    LAURA: “I wasn’t up. You smashing the furniture woke me up.

    “And don’t you ‘Honey’ me, you bastard! You’re drunk again.”

    GEORGE: Moving awkwardly toward the stairs, “Aw, Laura darlin’, I jus’ had a li’le too much,” making an exaggerated measurement sign towards Laura with his finger and thumb as he speaks.

    Laura doesn’t move, just glaring as George works his way slowly up the stairs, huffing and puffing and swaying as he goes.

    GEORGE: “See, I’m okay, I’m getting’ up the stairs myself.”

    LAURA: “You shit, you promised, not once but dozens of times.”

    GEORGE: “Yah, Honey, I know, but I’m tryin’.”

    LAURA: “You son of a bitch, you haven’t tried at all. You’ve embarrassed everyone in the family.

    GEORGE: “Won’t happen ag’in, Hon, I promise.”

    LAURA: “You’re damned right about that. It won’t happen again!” she screams. She suddenly swings her arms out violently, striking George as he nears her, sending him tumbling down the stairs

    George’s body comes to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, limp and broken-looking.

    Suddenly from the left comes a Secret Service agent, aroused by all the noise. He kneels at the body and checks for vital signs.

    SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Looking up towards Laura, “Mrs. Bush, I’m sorry, the President is dead!”

    He immediately reaches for his Blackberry and places a call for emergency services. Laura walks offstage in the direction she first came from.

    SCENE TWO

    We see a striking, elaborate gate, as we might expect to see at the front of a great mansion. Behind the gate is the suggestion of a lush, sunlit garden complete with the beautiful singing of birds. Despite the brilliant sunlight, the floor of the stage is covered with a thick white mist, which represents clouds scudding along. At the gate, a tall dignified figure stands holding a staff in his right hand and a book in his left.

    From the right side, the figure of George appears. He isn’t drunk now, but he appears mystified by his location.

    GEORGE: As he approaches the gate, “Hi, I got no idea where I am. Maybe y’all kin help?”

    ST. PETER: “Yes, Mr. President, I can help you. That’s just what I’m here for.”

    GEORGE: “Jeez, ya’ll know me. That’s great. I got no idea what’s goin’ on. I was comin’ home, an’ suddenly I wake up here.

    “Hey, an’ I ain’t got no hangover neither.”

    ST. PETER: “Mr. President, you’re dead.”

    GEORGE: “Dead? How the hell kin that be?”

    ST. PETER: “You came home drunk, and Laura was so furious she pushed you down the stairs.”

    GEORGE: “I’ll be damned, Laura killed me?”

    ST. PETER: “That’s right, Mr. President. She’s now being treated for shock, and you’re here at the gates of Heaven. I’m St. Peter.”

    GEORGE: “Well, Pete, open ‘er up. Guess there’s gonna be some good times here. I gotta tell ya, I was gettin’ mighty tired of Laura naggin’ all the time.”

    ST. PETER: “We have a little business here, first, Mr. President, before anyone goes anywhere.”

    GEORGE: “Y’all know I’m born agi’n. Don’t ‘spect no problem.

    “Well, fire away, as I used to say there in the White House. Haw, haw. Jus’ a li’le joke there, Pete. Guess ya know I ain’t one to stand around jawin.’ Let’s get her done.”

    ST. PETER: “Mr, President, we’re going to take a short look at some outstanding events of your life, ones that weigh heavily in the balance, so to speak.

    St Peter opens his book, and a picture appears, cast like a slide in the white mist. It is of a child whose face is torn, horribly clotted with blood.

    ST. PETER: “Do you recognize this child, Mr. President?

    GEORGE: “Hell no – oops, sorry there! No, I never seen him, Pete, honest.”

    ST. PETER: “That is correct, Mr. President, you never saw him, but nevertheless you did this to him, and many thousands of others in the bombing of Iraq.”

    GEORGE: “I’m tellin’ ya, Pete, I di’n’t know. I’d never do somethin’ like that.”

    Another picture appears, this one of a woman’s body smashed into the ground.

    ST. PETER: “What about this one, Mr. President?”

    GEORGE: “Promise I never saw nothin’ like that. God dang, who’d go ‘n’ do somethin’ like that?”

    ST. PETER: “You would, Mr. President. This woman lived in Baghdad.”

    GEORGE: “Well, I gotta say, I don’t think it’s fair bringin’ up this kinda ol’ stuff, Pete.”

    ST. PETER: “What about this one?”

    Another picture appears. It’s Laura with a black eye and a swollen lip.

    GEORGE: “God darn if I wasn’t drunk that night. Didn’t mean it at all.”

    SCENE THREE

    George finds himself in a dark, gloomy place, with only hints of its being a room. He suddenly becomes aware of a series of sounds, a mixture of singing and shouting and George starts walking towards them. The sounds become louder. Soon we realize that they are people talking and shouting and singing, many of them, all at once. George tries covering his ears, the sound becomes so loud and unpleasant.

    Finally, a figure appears in the gloom. It’s a tremendously fat Jerry Falwell looking for all the world like Jabba the Hutt waddling.

    JERRY: “Well, now I kin hardly believe my eyes, welcome home, Mr. President!”

    GEORGE: “Jeez, gotta say this place don’t look much like what I figured.”

    JERRY: “Hell ain’t such a bad place. Ya pretty much get to do what ya always liked doin’ forever.”

    GEORGE: “Hell? Whoa there, now, what’s goin’ on? I ain’t sposed to be in no Hell!

    “I was jus’ talkin’ to Pete couple a minute ago, remindin’ him how I was saved an’ all.”

    JERRY: “Well, I’m right sorry to disappoint you, Mr. President, ‘cause ya’ll was always a favorite.

    “But we all knew you was on your way here, an’, like I was sayin’, it ain’t such a bad place an’ all.

    “Ya’ll get to do pretty much what ya always did. Ya kin sure see I’m enjoyin’ the brunches, all laid out real nice, any time night or day, jus’ like a big cruise ship.

    “An’ jus’ listen to that singin’ ! It don’t never stop. Gospel selections for the next trillion years!

    “Some nice ol’ friends down here too, Mr. President. I reckon ya’ll know half of ‘em. Dick an’ Lynn. Your Pappy’s here, an’ your Grandpappy.”

    GEORGE: “Ain’t ya sufferin’ with everlastin’ fires or nothin’ like that?”

    JERRY: “Shucks, no, Mr. President. That jus’ ain’t the way it is.

    “I know, I know, I was preachin’ kind of regular ‘bout that kinda stuff, but ya gotta figure, I was earnin’ a livin’ an’ all, an’ there jus’ ain’t no topic better ‘an damnation for gettin’ that there offerin’ plate full to overflowin’.”

    GEORGE: “Well, I’ll be damned.”

    JERRY: “Ya’ll are, Mr. President, that’s for sure.

    “They got a copy of your ol’ office all set up for ya. Ya’ll gonna be able to go on bein’ President for millions an’ millions of years.

    With a wink and a chuckle, “Snort a little coke now an’ then. All the damn mint juleps ya’ll can swaller. Go huntin’ with Dick.

    “Give your Ol’ Man a good right now an’ then…as many times as ya’d like. An’ if that li’l’ woman of yours – jus’ sose ya know, she’ll be joinin’ up with ya before too long - goes mouthin’ off any, jus’ give her a smack in the gob the way ya’ll used to. Ain’t no cops here for her to call, embarrassin’ ya an’ all.

    “Ya’ll be runnin’ that there war forever, seein’ every damned heathen an’ troublemaker blowed up jus’ like ya was there.”

    GEORGE: “Well I gotta say that don’t sound none too bad. Ever get any vacation?”

    JERRY: “Well, I gotta tell ya honest-like now, Mr. President, ya don’t get no vacation ‘roun’ here.

    “Ya gonna do all them things ya always liked doin’, but ya gotta keep doin’ ‘em over and over, forever.”

    “It might get a li’l’ tiresome-like after a while, but I sure ‘nough ain’t found that to be the case yet.”

    GEORGE: “Ya, I kin see that right ‘nough. If ya’ll can’t stop packin’ down all the grub, ya gonna have a mighty sorry time draggin’ that fat gut of yours aroun’.

    “Ya already startin’ to look like one them damned ol’ frogs I useta stuff with firecrackers. Damned, if I didn’t enjoy watchin’ ‘em gettin’ blowed up!

    “Maybe ya’ll gonna blow up someday without any damned firecrackers in your mouth!”
    George bends over, cracked up with uncontrollable laughter, tears running down his cheeks.

    JERRY: Chuckling heartily, “Ah shucks, Mr. President, mighty nice to hear ya ain’t lost your ol’ boyish charm an’ sense of humor. Ya’ll gonna fit in jus’ fine here.”

    George and Jerry, chuckling and laughing, walk slowly off into the gloom towards ear-splitting sounds of laughs and screams and screeching gospel music.

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