After a week of hectic talks and money matters, it was time to pack up again. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Kathryn, Sue and Pete behind in this current mess that the USA got itself into. Friends in Nebraska fully agreed. Law abiding and straightforward, nature lovers and good farmers, moneymakers (Warren Buffet lives there) and smart insurers in the Heartland don’t like the freewheeling spend and tax freaks of East and West. They all said that their current administration was a train wreck in the making and were looking forward to changing the dynamics in November real fast.
We attended a selective July 4th grill party on a wide terrace with friends at a corn and ethanol estate where I had parked my space scooter. From a far, fireworks lit up the red glowing evening sky in an eternal widescreen of Technicolor along the horizon. We even saw some UFOs looking on.
“You live well here,” Kathryn said to the host, whose real name is withheld for security reasons and whom I’ll call Bob for the occasion. “You’ve mastered the art of making money and keeping it.”
“We’re grateful for what we got, Kathryn,” Bob said. “Through hard work the old American way. We don’t mind paying taxes on the condition it’s not wasted for political ends. That’s why our Democratic Senator got in hot water here with that one hundred million taxpayer money bribe he took to get him to vote for that stupid health care law.”
“I heard that Mr. President plans to make a recess appointment of some guy nobody trusts to head the Medicare system, “Pete tuned in.
“Nobody wanted a confirmation hearing,” Bob said. “Democrats didn’t because they hated to reopen the healthcare debate, which is a loser for them, and Republicans considered the guy rightly a leftwing bum and unworthy of confirmation. So the Administration was afraid he wouldn’t make it and delayed till everyone went on their July 4th vacation.”
“Bush did that too,” Pete mumbled dryly. “Remember Bolton at the UN?”
“Bolton proved the only one whom they were scared of at the UN because he saw right through their funny tricks and said so. He is still head-on on geopolitics. But this new fellow at Medicare is a so-called honorary Harvard professor. He likes the flailing British health care system and wants to copy it.”
“I fail to see why they like to repeat these socialist things here that don’t work elsewhere,” Sue said, munching on grilled rib, rolling her deep blue slanted eyes.
“Hubris,” Bob said, taking a rib himself. “Absolute hubris. The present group that came to power – and God forbid it won’t be too long – really believes they know better and that it’s only a matter of doing it right. Of course, the other fools elsewhere in the world believed that too. That’s why they are being voted out in Europe.”
“But I can go on vacation to Paris again,” Sue said, grinning broadly. “The whole fiscal turmoil over there lifted the dollar from its morass.”
“Better grab it while you can, my girl,” Bob said wryly. “It will soon be worse here than in Europe and then your beloved green buck will be back in the doldrums.”
“Wall Street’s hoping for total gridlock in Congress come November,” I said, “so that the highfalutin thinkers in Washington can’t get anything done. That’s the only way to save America.”
“Lawmakers don’t understand economics,” Sue intoned and, as a lawyer, she knew. “Laws are written and applied, even when they are wrong. The laws of economics are hidden and only appear in textbooks they haven’t read, like their bills. If you don’t apply them you see them when it’s too late.”
“Let’s hope for gridlock,” Pete prayed.” It looks Wall Street is already betting on it because the stock market’ s back in the ten thousands. They expect that the overreaching financial law the House democrats approved will hit dirt in the Senate and not make it.”
“For the last few years I’ve kept my money in cash and gold and am not buying stocks right now,” Bob said. “It worked out well so far. I don’t see any improvements in the fundamentals.”
I didn’t tell him we were hoarding gold on Mars, too.
“I still keep my faith in the unrivaled American dream,” I said, “and that its independent forces will toss out the current keepers to revive the spirit of its Founders. I just have to, for the sake of Pete and Sue.”
“At least we’ve clearly identified who and what these keepers are,” Kathryn said, “so that we won’t elect them again.”
* * *
It was time for me to go. Bob drove us in his open Jeep to my improvised landing and launching site. After saying farewell to Kathryn, the siblings and Bob, I changed into my space suit and entered my space scooter.
“Don’t let them waste my tax dollars, Sue!”
I waved, closed the cabin, and was off back to Mars, my tank full with borrowed ethanol.
I am really getting scared now for my earthly off springs in the USA. Last week Sunday on Mars, friends and I were watching the G-20 deliberations in Toronto on a FARSIGHT screen that gives us access to Earth TV channels. As Man from Mars I must hold financial interests on Earth for the sake of Kathryn’s and the mixed kiddos Pete and Sue, so I have to keep track of where Earth is heading financially. It didn’t look good. The current leader of the USA uttered some truly uneconomic noises. Did he ever read your Paul Samuelson’s Basic Elementary Economics for Beginners? Or simply a basic math book that explains why 2 plus 2 is 4 and not 5 or 3 minus 1 is 2 and does not add up to 10?
Then came the clincher in his Toronto press conference. We sat perplexed. Rarely had we seen a leader of the great USA talk in greater platitudes, but worse was what he said about his plans. With the hubris dripping from his smile, he said he had more harsh proposals coming up for next year. After all, he reminded his folks, he’d said a few days before the elections that he would fundamentally change America. They had better learn a lesson that he does what he says (“they” probably meaning your unwilling conservatives who don’t appreciate his “change for the better”). He said he got them national health care even though nobody really wanted his version, and they’d better get used to it that more of that would be flowing down the pipe. So, you dear Americans, hold your breath. He, the new great democratic elected dictator, who speaks like Castro and thinks like Chavez, will do it again. Mark his words. Regardless of Congress, even if it changes hands.
I knew then that the cheering audience before the election was unaware of what change they would get: a huge generational theft with insurmountable debt, private sector employment down and total government overkill. Pete and Sue and eventually their kids will be paying for it forever after Blockbuster King is gone, leaving behind a totally screwed up economy that will be the signature of America’s decline and the loss of its Independence from the rest of the world. My Mom once said you better know what you’re asking for before you ask. How true.
I knew it was necessary to go back to Earth for family support. The July 4th weekend is always a good time for that. While rushing down, I didn’t see a Columbia or Discovery on my way. Moon also looked lonely, though the space station still showed some life, waving a Russian red flag.
I landed in Nebraska this time on one of those familiar green fields because of this immigration brouhaha in Arizona, my usual place. Nebraska is quietly landlocked and glad to stay that way. An untold secret we only seem to know about on Mars. Omaha is a nice town with surprisingly good restaurants, a sophisticated oasis of fine shops and arts, and happy people on sunny terraces. The airport has no scanner yet so the kids wouldn’t be subjected to queries about their VESIcare bodies. They came in on Republican Airways (even Democrats fly it without a parachute). Downtown, we gathered in “La Buvette”, a popular wine-tasting bar with a broad collection of the best wines Earth offers. Nebraskans know their good life but don’t tell anybody about it. Smart.
“It’s Independence Day, but we’re losing it,” Pete mused, sipping his cool Pouilly-fuisse. “They’re out to destroy all we fought for in two hundred years.”
“Utopia sounds good, but doesn’t work,” Sue added, chewing on a cracker with French brie. “It only works for politicians who want to get re-elected by a dreaming populace that doesn’t think.”
“Using other people’s money, that’s their mantra,” Kathryn said. “Especially not their bucks. They all have fat bank accounts, and refund their taxes with their taxpayer paid House and Senate perks.”
“Isn’t that T-party band re-launching Independence Day to correct this madness?” I asked.
“Everybody counts on November. But I’m not sure,” Kathryn said. “The Pied Piper is still around and nobody’s perking up as a good alternative.”
I refilled her glass. The family mood was gloomy.
“What goes around comes around,” I offered, feeling helpless. “Every reaction has a reaction.”
“That sounds pretty plastic,” Sue scoffed. “Useless, after we’ve all lost our shirt.”
“Well, vote them out in November then if you want to stop King Kong from doing more harm, and don’t invite him back in 2012.” What else could I say.
“Yeah,” Pete said, a sigh slipping from his chest. “When we’re all sitting with empty pockets on a heap of ash with our homes burned down, Pied Piper will come back with his magic flute and promise everything will be honky-dory again if you let him take care of you. The bum head.”
“The bum heads will be those believing that,” I countered.
“What’s that word in Spanish?” Sue asked, sarcasm all over her face. “He wants amnesty for eleven million illegals so they’ ll vote for him and his freaking party.”
“The only thing left is revolution,” Kathryn said firmly. “Fill the Mall in DC, mount the steps of the Capitol, haul them out, and throw them in the Tidal Bay.”
“The Park Service will fine you for littering,” Sue said, her legal mind in action. “I have a better idea. Lock them up with no food and water, cut off TV, force them to read all laws they voted for and never read, and then repeal them if they want to see daylight again.”
“We can also ship them off to Mars,” Pete tried.
“Against our pollution laws,” I said, glancing at Sue. “Well, it really sounds like you’re in dire straits.”
“We are,” Kathryn affirmed. “We fought for our Independence from external British tyranny. Now two hundred years later, we have to fight for our Independence from internal socialist tyranny. America’s been rotting from inside and, stupid, we weren’t aware of it. Now we are. Just hope it won’t be too late.”
“Let’s go for a bite in that Bistrot Francais around the corner,” I suggested. “They were good at Revolution.”
“But they turned socialist too,” Kathryn said, desperate. “It must be their wine. If you drink too much of it you see things too rosy and you wake up with a hangover not knowing what happened to you.”
“We’ll drink Californian then,” Sue decided.
“Have you seen California’s balance sheet recently?” Pete asked, pulling a face.
“Oh well, we’ll have an Australian Pinot Noir,” Sue said. “It’ll feel like we’re in the black for a while.”
I paid the bill leaving a Mars gold coin on the table. In Nebraska they don’t take funny money.
We spent our last Memorial vacation day on the beach before I went back to Mars. It was splendid weather. Sue and Pete unfolded our beach chairs and Kathryn opened her picnic bag. The surf was rolling softly and we thought it was going to be a quiet afternoon. But not so. Taher and Aaron came strolling down the beach and, when they saw us, immediately joined.
“How are you,” Taher said jovially, extending his hand.
“It’s our last day here,” Aaron announced, looking sorry.
“Ours too,” Kathryn said, smiling sadly. “Please sit down. Want a sandwich?”
“If it’s no ham,” Taher said.
“Yes, no ham,” Aaron echoed.
“Gouda cheese would do?” I asked, handing them one each.
“Great,” Aaron said, and they chewed on it hungrily.
“Funny you both don’t eat pork,” Kathryn chuckled, giving them a coke, “about the only thing Jews and Muslims seem to agree on.”
“Your boarding that Flotilla didn’t go that well, did it?” Pete asked sarcastically.
“They came armed with sticks and knives, those peace loving pigs,” Aaron growled. “Wearing hoods.”
“They were given ample opportunity to call on port and deliver their stuff peacefully but refused,” Taher added. “Of course, they had an ulterior motive.”
“As we predicted,” Aaron said, “world TV broke loose in a bludgeoning attack on us. Nobody’s giving a damn about what Hamas and Hezbollah are concocting in the meantime to destroy us.”
“Yes,” Sue said, “I read in the papers that European countries condemned the boarding.”
“Next time shoot their rudder and propellers and stay under water,” MIT Pete suggested.
“Agree,” Taher said, sucking his coke. “We could’ve done better, but the issue of the double standard remains.”
“You know,” I said, “European countries have that luxury of making their hollow screams about being shocked by what they call harsh Israeli treatment because when push comes to shove they know you can take care of yourself. They don’t want to give you open moral support because it upsets their Muslim populations while they comfortably know you don’t need it. But I’m sure internally they talk otherwise.”
“The danger is,” Aaron said, “that if they don’t speak up, they may not be able to rein in the growing monster. It’s a risky game talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
“The tricky actors in this war game are Turkey and Egypt.” Taher explained. “A few years back, Turkey was a friend of Israel and we taught them a lot. They are a NATO alley, of all things! Their new Government seems to be drifting away to the radical jihadists, who were behind this flotilla. They may need another military coup to set them straight. This is not reflecting Ataturk’s mindset. And Egypt is another unreliable kink in the cable. They are part of the blockade, but lots of arms are smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai and they seem unable or unwilling to do much about it.”
“Meanwhile we have to keep afloat with a feckless administration that wants to have its cake and eat it,” Kathryn said. “Oil spill in the Gulf they can’t handle, a stubborn sluggish economy despite all the taxpayer money they threw at it, political corruption all over again, a president unwilling to assert himself internationally, it’s depressing.”
“The Israeli case is not a minute matter,” Sue said. “As a lawyer, I can prove the Arabs they don’t have a leg to stand on. Jews have been there as long as they have. They were friends and foes of their Mohammed. And surely not Iran. Look at Persia’s history. They have been all over Arabia before they were chased back. Shiites fighting Sunnis. It’s religious war. Secular states should put an end to this nonsense, but they are too afraid of the fanatics in their midst.”
“Well spoken, young lady,” Taher said, approvingly. “It shouldn’t be the Middle Ages anymore, but it still is.”
“Don’t forget Protestants and Catholics continued fighting each other in Northern Ireland not so long ago,” Kathryn said, mockingly.
“What is it with religion that makes us fight in the name of God?” Sue asked.
“It’s because you earthlings don’t know the universe,” I said. “Here, everybody made up his own God to fill the gap of the unknown and believes theirs is the only right one. Whole systems are built on these parochial perceptions. We in Mars have long understood that the Universe is God, that we are all part of it, and that we don’t need to fight about it. On Mars, we apply a similar legal framework as your Ten Commandments that many here want to throw overboard. But that’s all you need.”
Taher and Aaron stood up.
“Thanks for the cheese sandwiches and the coke,” Aaron said.
“Yes,” Taher added, shaking my hand and staring me in the face. “We don’t have your wisdom yet, Mr Mars. I didn’t know you were from there, but you have those funny eyes.”
I saw Pete and Sue exchange furtive looks at each other.
“Don’t worry, Taher, “you’ll get there one day.”
We embraced each other and waved them goodbye.
That same night I changed into my Mars costume, mounted my space scooter, and spurted back into the universe rom the beach, leaving Kathryn, Pete and Sue behind on their wicked little quarreling world.
Back on the beach for Memorial Day, a guy with a turban and another with a kippah strolled through the sand in our direction. Miraculously, they were walking friendly together, both in swim trunks and a towel in their hands.
“We’re in the hotel there,” said the fellow with the turban when I asked him where they were from.
“Yeah, great place,” the man with the kippah confirmed.
“You go swimming with those hats on?” Sue asked, laughing.
They ignored Sue’s question, probably thinking she was stupid.
“Heard about the flotilla?” Pete inquired.
“Oh yeah, the usual,” the turban guy said. “Everybody’s playtime.”
“You don’t think it’s serious?” Sue asked.
“Rubbish,” the turban guy snorted. “TV fodder.”
“Don’t you think the Israeli’s were too harsh climbing on these boats? Ten people got killed. It was all humanitarian stuff,” Pete said.
“You mind if we sit down?” the turban guy asked, turning to me.
“Sure not,” I said, invitingly. “My name’s Mars Man, just call me Mars. This is Kathryn, my wife, he’s son Pete and she’s daughter Sue.”
“I’m Taher,” the turban fellow said.
“I’m Aaron,” followed the kippah man.
We shook hands.
“It’s show boat stuff, you know,” Taher continued, nestling down in the sand. “They knew what they were getting into. The humanitarian freight was not the purpose. They wanted to embarrass and make a point and, of course, they knew the whole world would be blaming Israel if they didn’t get through. The real killers are the flotilla organizers; they should’ve known better, but took the risk anyway.”
“You must be a pretty liberal Muslim for saying that,” Kathryn scoffed. “Normally your side always screams loudest when someone does it to you.”
“Taher’s right,” Aaron said. “Either we board and stop the flotilla, as we told them we would, and we’d be castigated by the UN, or if we didn’t, we’d be called wimps and next time they’d bring in humanitarian tanks and weapons, and nobody in the UN would raise a finger in protest.”
“Everybody in the Mid-East and West, especially this Husain White House, is showing off his PC best again,” Sue ranted. “I’ve yet to see anybody on TV daring to play the same trick on an Arab country.”
“We’ve quite a few Arabs in Israel, you know, who don’t like those Gaza creeps,” Aaron said. “Taher is one of them.”
“Ah, I see,” Kathryn said, understandingly, “so you’re both from Israel.”
“Yes, we are,” Taher affirmed. “We have our internal differences but like any democratic country we solve them peacefully in the Knesset. Those Hamas guys are hotheads. If you don’t join them they shoot you, torture you or cut your head off. They can’t even govern. I don’t understand what that flotilla of peaceniks wanted to achieve.”
“Europe and the USA show increased anti-Semitism,” Aaron said. “Most Jews in the USA voted for the democrats in 2008 but they’re now finding out they got a cat in the bag. Now they’ve to turn the tide in November.”
“So what are you going to do?” I asked.
“If those overpaid striped suited UN nincompoops drag us before the Council,” Aaron growled, wagging his finger, “we’ll point at all the scuds and stuff that Iran and Syria send to Hezbollah for so-called peaceful use and the UN doesn’t even want to know about, even though everybody else does. This is not the time to be fuzzy with Gaza either.”
“Nothing will happen,” Taher said. “After all the TV and media stuff is done, people get bored and it’ll blow over again.”
“Till someone silly in Tehran blows the fuse,” Kathryn said.
“We won’t let that happen, Ma’am,” Aaron grumbled. “When they do, they won’t have a light to find a match. They know. We won’t wait for the USA. This Administration is rudderless. And forget about the UN. I think it’s time for a swim, Taher. Nice talking to you.”
Taher and Aaron got up and walked to the sea, shaking their heads.
“What do you think, Mars?” Kathryn asked. “Yes dad,” Pete and Sue joined in chorus, “what do you think?”
“Jews and Arabs are from the same breed but they quarrel like Cain and Abel. The family strife will never stop. Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. Israel is a sunshine state. Look at Palestine, let alone Gaza, what dumps despite all the aid they get. If Israel hadn’t been there, they would’ve been even worse-off. Earth has to rein in Cain, but if the USA doesn’t intervene, Abel may be killed again. And the West would never be the same.”
“War?” Pete asked.
“Eventually, I’m afraid so, son. If you want to preserve Kathryn’s Judeo-Christian roots, you’d better stand up for them.”
“More death, more Memorial Days,” Pete sighed.
“That’s the way of life on Mother Earth. Strife is the trump card.”
My mother earth kidzz, son Pete and daughter Sue, mocked me the other day when we were having a barbecue on the beach. Their earthly Mom, Kathryn, just sat by and smiled beautifully.
“You’re lucky you can change into a human skin,” Pete said. “You’d be picked up right away in your Mars costume.”
“You are lucky you’re born with a human skin and look like your earthly mother,” I retorted, “otherwise you’d be picked up right away yourself.”
“We didn’t choose to live here, you made us do that,” Pete said, a bit touchy.
“Anything wrong with that? You got a US passport,” I said in my defense.
“Just that our eyes look different. A bit like those Asians here,” Pete said, sounding wary.
“So what? You did MIT and Sue did Columbia Law and both of you live well. What are you picking at?”
“We always get looked at more carefully,” Sue entered the conversation, “either at the border or when boarding a plane. Yesterday when coming home, they put me through the scanner and all the alarm bells went off.”
“Did they find anything?” I asked, laughing.
“The woman at the scan fainted.”
“What for?” I couldn’t stop laughing.
“She said she didn’t see a body.”
“Well, maybe the machine’s fuse was busted.”
“No dad, there’s nothing on the screen when they scan us.”
“So, what did they do?” I asked, curious, still snickering.
“They sent another woman do a special on me, crotch included.”
“You liked it?” Pete asked, grinning mischievously.
“You shut up,” Sue hissed back. “It’s not funny. You do any profiling on Mars?”
“We all look alike,” I said, “and talk the same, electronic voices. Men have a funny pecker, women have a tight slit. That’s all there is.”
“Yeah, that’s the earthy problem here,” Pete said profoundly. “Different skins, eyes, noses. And some of those are bad news.”
“Would you profile on Mars if you had that problem?” Sue asked.
“Sure we would. Nobody enters Mars without an identity card and a sanity check, especially people from earth.”
“What would you do in Arizona?” Sue looked me straight in the eye.
“It’s a nice place. Dry and clean with remote places to land. Done it several times. I look like an Arizonan when I change and I have a US visa stamp in my passport. No problem. I’d do the same thing as they, profile like hell. What else can you do to stop those gate crashers?”
“They say on earth profiling is wrong, it’s racist.” Pete commented.
“So what?” I said. “A gate crasher is a gate crasher. We’d throw the bums out and let them float back into space. And if I know how most of them look, I’ll be looking for them hard and round them up if they can’t show their papers. What would you do at home? Invite them for dinner?”
“Everything is racist in America, or wherever in the world” Kathryn said.
“And those who cry racist are the worst,” Sue said.
“Here it started with the Indians,” Kathryn continued, “and it has only gotten worse. But look at Africa or Arabia, they are much worse than the USA.”
“Ever heard of the word PC?” Sue asked. “Politically correct; the synonym of hypocrisy and cowardice. Hate those people.”
“What would you do on Mars with all these different cultures?” Pete looked at me curiously.
“Multiculturalism’s what he means,” Kathryn explained.
“Oh, I don’t mind different cultures, colors, faces or languages,” I said. “We don’t have that on Mars and that makes our place a bit dull. Different music, art, dance and songs, I like to hear that when I’m here. It would be better if everyone stayed where they belong, but that has not happened for millions of years on this planet. But if you want to enter my territory, you need a valid identity card, or you get the hell out. That’s why I stand for Arizona, not the soft-pedaling US Government. What do they want, Babylon and a ruined bank account?”
“Do you agree, mom?” Sue asked.
“Who wouldn’t agree with the Mars Man?” Kathryn laughed.
“I do,” Sue said, “but I still need my hispanic Anita to clean my apartment. No one else does, and surely not me.”