The Example (Part II)

The next few days passed incredibly slowly for Carl. He felt lost and overwhelmed.  For his entire life he had been blessed with vision and direction.  He had always had a plan…until now.  Carl had no idea what was going to happen next.  Would the Governor’s office  back him up, or just stand aside as the feds rolled in, took his station, and hauled him off to jail? The thought of  his two sons standing in the yard and watching as FBI agents drove him away was simply too much to bear. Since his initial discussion with the Governor’s office, he had called back several times and was assured that they were working on a plan.  Other than a few reassuring words however, they had really offered him nothing. The fact that they were working on a “plan” was of little comfort to him.  Especially if their plan involved him losing his station. For the first time in his life, Carl felt completely helpless – and that really made him angry.

Since the 60 day notices had been delivered around the state, the press had been in a feeding frenzy.  News agencies from around the world had descended on Texas with correspondents, satellite vans, helicopters, and cameramen.   Between lengthy debates on the constitutionality of Texas’ move, they roamed the streets asking business owners who had received the  notices “how they felt about it,” and “what they would do when the feds came.”   The chatter was endless, and for the most part meaningless. The owner of a bakery in Houston, pretty much summed things up for everyone when he exclaimed to one reporter:

“How the hell do you think I feel about it?  Any other questions?”

At the request of the Governor’s office, Carl had not told anyone that he had received a 30 day notice.  They had warned him that doing so would bring  every fruit and nut in the country out of the woodwork, and that things would get out of hand quickly. The last thing that the Governor’s office wanted was a media circus on their hands until they had a plan.  Carl had reluctantly agreed to stay silent, but was growing more and more uneasy with this approach.  In the evenings Carl would drive home to have dinner with his family, and then tell them he had to do some paperwork at the station.  When he got there, he would sit out front next to the old RC Cola machine that he had kept running and just think.  There had to be something that he could do to save the station and stay out of jail, but he simply could not pay the federal taxes and fines and stay in business.

Late one evening about a week after he had received his notice, Carl was sitting outside the station and pondering his situation.  The convenience store had been closed for several hours and, with the exception of a few trucks idling quietly in the overnight lot, Carl was completely alone.  As he sat musing,  a pair of headlights caught his eye. A large black Lincoln Town Car car turned  into his station from the access road.  Carl watched intently, as the car pulled up to the front of the convenience store. Maybe it was just a businessman driving to the city and looking for a late night cup of coffee.  After a moment, both front doors swung open and two men hopped out.  They were both dressed in business suits, and one of them appeared to be carrying a camera.  Carl’s interest peaked and he stood up to confront the two men.  Just as he was about to call out that the station was closed, a breeze blew the coat of one of the men open, reveling a shoulder holster.  He froze instantly.  What the heck were two armed men in business suits doing at his station?

All of a sudden, it occurred to Carl that he had been sitting in the shadows behind the soda machine, and that they had not seen him. Slowly, he eased away from the vending machine’s cover, and slipped around the corner of the store to a side employee entrance.  As silently as possible he unlocked the door and slipped inside.  Once inside, he inched into the dark convenience store and concealed himself behind a shelf so that he was out of sight.  Carl could hear their voices right outside the door, but he could not make out what they were saying.  He drew in a breath and looked around the edge of the shelf at the exact second that the beam from a Mag Light came sweeping through the window.  He pulled back right as it swept past him. “Why the hell are they looking in my store?” he whispered to himself.  He peaked around the corner again to look, but they were gone.

Staying in the shadows, Carl moved up to the window and looked outside. Both men were walking toward an island of diesel pumps.  It was dark but the security lights on the island were bright enough for him to see them clearly.  The man with the camera started taking pictures while the other appeared to be taking notes on a digital voice recorder. Carl was baffled. Clearly they were not there to rob the place….but what were they doing? Carl watched them for about 45 minutes as they walked around the perimeter of his station taking notes and pictures.  Carl knew every safety inspector in the state, and none of them drove Lincoln Town Cars or made it a practice to inspect stations after hours.  No, these two guys were definitely up to something else.

After a while, the men turned back toward the convenience store and Carl ducked out of sight, this time right next to the door.  Though he could not see what they doing, he could see the flash of their camera reflecting on the windows.  After a few moments, they were standing back in front of the building by their car.  Carl moved his ear closer to the window in an attempt to hear what they were saying.  Their voices were muffled, but he could make out their words.

“Okay, I think we have what we came for,” one of the men announced.  “You ready to hit the road?”

“Yeah, let’s clear outta here before one of the truckers wakes up and calls the cops on us,” the other man chuckled.

The first voice chimed back in, “I really feel weird doing this, I just think that…” Before he could finish, the  other man cut him off.  “Hey, it is our job to follow orders not save the world, let’s get rolling.”

A second later Carl heard two car doors slam and the engine start.  He was overwhelmed with curiosity; who the hell were these two guys?  He had to know.  Without even thinking, he dashed through the store and out the back  to his truck.  He hopped in,  took a deep breath, and started the engine.  He had no idea what he was doing,  but knew he had to find out where they were going.   He inched around the corner with his lights off and watched as the Lincoln pulled out of the station and back onto the access road.   Carl gripped the wheel tightly, counted to 1o under his breath, and pulled out to follow them.  “This is dumb,” he whispered to himself as he clicked his truck lights on.

Carl tried his best not to be noticed, but felt like he had a huge sign on his truck announcing what he was doing.  Once on the highway, he stayed several car links behind the Lincoln, and tried to blend in with the sparse traffic.  He followed them toward San Antonio for about 10 miles doing his best not to get too close.  Once or twice a car had pulled between them, but he had been able to keep them in sight.  Finally, confident that he had not been spotted, Carl pulled directly behind them in the left lane of the highway.  At that moment his cell phone rang. He picked it up and saw that Katie was calling to check on him.   It was well after 1 a.m. now and she was clearly perturbed at his absence from their bed.  Carl looked up from his phone and to his shock realized that the Lincoln was no longer in front of him.  He looked frantically to his right and saw it taking an exit into the city.  Carl looked in his rear view mirror and swerved right across three lanes of traffic just making the off ramp. Instantaneously he found himself right on their tail at a red traffic light.  He slammed on his breaks locking the back tires and stopping just a few inches from the Lincoln’s rear bumper.  His heart was racing. “Idiot!” he cursed under his breath, trying to regain his composure.  He could see the Lincoln’s driver looking intently into his rear view mirror.  Carl tried not to make eye contact and looked away trying to appear calm.  Just then the light turned green and the Lincoln accelerated away turning left two blocks down the road.  Carl let them turn, took a deep breath, and then followed.  He turned onto the street just in time to see the Lincoln disappear into a parking garage underneath a large office complex.   Carl pulled over to the curb, exhaled, and wiped the sweat from his eyes.  “What the hell do I think I am doing,” he mumbled to himself.

He inched his truck along the curb until he was next to the garage entrance.  It was dark, but just over the garage doors he could make out a small sign.  He leaned across the truck and squinted trying to bring the letters into focus.   After a few attempts he was finally able to make it out:

Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Antonio Field Office

Official Vehicles Only

Carl let the words sink in.  Could these two men have actually been FBI agents?  It would certainly explain the shoulder holsters. Carl felt a chill race through his body.  He was a gas station owner for crying out loud!  He had never so much as stolen a pack of cigarettes, and now the FBI had him under surveillance.  Did the Governor’s office know that this was going on?  If so, why had they not warned him?  A thousand questions started racing through Carl’s mind. As he stared blankly at the garage entrance sign, he could not help but wonder what was coming next.

All of a sudden, a knock on the driver’s side window jolted Carl from his thoughts.  Startled, Carl spun around to find  himself face to face with one of the two men that he had followed.  He felt his heart jump to his throat.  The figure rapped on the window again and motioned for Carl to roll  it down.  Carl knew of nothing else that he could do, so he reached down and cracked his window a few inches.

“Mr. Lamonte?” the agent inquired.

“What do you want?” Carl snapped back.  “Why the hell were you taking pictures of my truck stop?”

“Mr. Lamonte, please just roll your window down so that we can talk,“ the agent continued.

Reluctantly, Carl rolled the window down the rest of the way and turned his engine off.

“Ok, I’m parked,” Carl jabbed, “now perhaps you can tell me what the hell is going on?”

The agent took in a deep breath and let it out.

“Mr. Lamonte, you most likely do not remember me, but I grew up near your station.”

“Yeah, well so did a lot of people over the past 30 years,” Carl snapped.

The agent continued undeterred.

“I remember when I was 10 years old, my father took me to your place for a pony ride.  No sooner did I get on the horse when something happened and he took off across the prairie.   I held on for about 30 seconds or so until he threw me into a prickly pear.”

The  agent’s words disarmed Carl. “Well I’ll be dammed…I remember you,” Carl mused.   “My partner Phil and I were sure that your dad was going to sue our pants off.”

The agent gave Carl an embarrassed smile. “No…he did buy me a horse though. He told me that he had never been more embarrassed in his life watching me flop around on that pony like a rag doll, and that he was going to teach me to ride like a real man.”

“Well did he?” Carl queried.

“Texas Junior Bareback Riding Champion for 3 straight years,” the agent  beamed.

Carl smiled for a moment remembering the spectacle.  “What did you say your name was?”Carl asked.

“Lanum Tate sir,” the agent responded sticking his had through the window to shake.

Carl ignored the gesture. “So Agent Tate, are you going to arrest me or did you come out here to thank me inspiring your rodeo career?”

Agent Tate withdrew his hand and shifted back to business.“Yesterday we got a call from the home office telling us to head out to your place and map it,” he continued.  “They did not tell us why, they just told us what they wanted.  That is the God’s honest truth.”

Carl felt his anger beginning to rise again.  “So you guys, make it a habit of trespassing on private property and taking photographs?”

“Not at all,” Tate responded defensively.  “I have been with the bureau for 5 years, and this is the first time I have ever been asked to do something like this.  They are planning something big, and it looks like you are going to be right in the middle of  it.”

“Well that certainly is reassuring,” Carl replied sarcastically.

Agent Tate looked around and then lowered his voice.   “Mr. Lamonte, I am a Texan just like you…born and raised.  I may work for the FBI, but I love this state…it is my home.  I just wanted you to know that something was in the works, and that you need to be ready for it.  Whatever it is, you are going to need a friend or two.”

Tate reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a business card.  “I cannot promise you anything you understand, but if anything happens out at your place…anything….please feel free to give me a call, and I will see what I can do.”

Carl took his card.  “Is that your word as a fed?”

Agent Tate, looked squarely back at Carl with an unblinking stare. Any trace of the dorky 10 year old boy was now completely gone. “Mr. Lamonte, that is my word as a Texan.”

With that the agent turned and headed back to the building.  After about four or five steps he stopped and spun around on his heels.  “And please promise me that you won’t try to tail anymore federal agents.”

“Why not?” Carl shot back.

“Because you stink at it!” Tate laughed.

As Carl drove silently back to his in-law’s ranch, he could not get Agent Tate’s words out of his mind.  It was more clear than ever that the feds were getting ready to make him an example for Texans everywhere.  Once again, he started to feel alone and isolated.  One thing was for sure, whatever was coming, he did not stand a chance alone. As Carl pulled up to the ranch house he looked at his watch. It was well after 3 a.m. and he was exhausted from the evening’s adventure.  His mind was made up though.  He had endured the state’s silence too long.  First thing in the morning he would call the Governor’s office and demand to know what their plan was.

As Carl slid into bed, Katie rolled over and hugged him. “It’s late honey,” she scolded softly, where have you been?”  Carl reached out and pulled her close. “In a car chase with FBI agents,” he whispered back to her.  “They have apparently declared war on me.”

That’s nice dear,” she responded still lost in sleep.  “Try and get home earlier next time.”

(To Be Continued in Part III)

WordPress.com PoliticalBlogger Alliance

The Example (Part I)

Carl could not help but chuckle to himself as he poured his cold coffee into the dirt. Just a few months ago, the idea of a second American civil war would have been inconceivable.  Now, not only did it seem imminent, it also appeared that the first battle would take place at his gas station. He shook his cup out and looked up toward the sun.  It wasn’t just hot…it was Texas hot. Carl wiped the sweat from his brow with an orange rag and walked back to the comfort of his store. He laid his rifle on the counter and poured himself another cup. From the way things were going, it was going to be a hot day indeed.

Carl Lamonte had lived in San Antonio his entire life.  His father had been a wildcatter in Abilene and his grandfather a rancher.  Carl had started out on the drill rigs, but soon realized that 100 degree summers on the Texas prairie were simply not his cup o’ tea.  So, right after high school he started pumping gas and doing odd jobs at Phil’s Fuel Stop on the edge of town.  Phil was a nice ole’ fellah by everyone’s description, and had been in business selling gas to tourists, truckers, and travelers of every make and model for over thirty years. Phil was immediately impressed by Carl’s eagerness to learn, and within just a few months was teaching him everything he knew about the business.

Carl loved working at the station, and turned out to be a natural entrepreneur. He was constantly approaching Phil with new ideas for attracting customers and increasing sales.  One day Carl showed up to work with an old battered soda machine that he had purchased for 10 dollars.  Over the course of a week, Carl had it cleaned up, running, and full of ice cold RC Colas. Soon new “gadgets” were turning up everywhere.  After a few months, Phil’s Fuel was strewn with newspaper boxes, candy machines, and beef jerky racks.  Once Carl had even talked a nearby farmer into bringing a pony to the station to give kids rides for 50 cents a pop.  Everything was going fine until a tank truck pulled up and the pony took off across the prairie with a disgruntled 10 year old boy flopping around on top. Phil was a gas man and understood none of this, but he admired Carl’s drive and humored most of his “hair brained” ideas.  The facts were undeniable though.  Ranchers that Phil had watched drive by for years, were now stopping in every once in a while to get an ice cold RC and some jerky.

As the years passed and cars became  more reliable, and more complex, Phil’s garage work dropped to nearly nothing.  Once again Carl saw an opportunity, and talked Phil into leasing him the three garage bays that now stood empty next to the station’s office.  Phil agreed, and gave Carl a five year lease for next to nothing.  Carl sold his family home and property to a local rancher and used every last cent to convert the garages into a convenience store and coffee shop.  Carl did most of the work himself,  and had the store open for business 6 months later.  For the next year he worked tirelessly running the register, flipping pancakes, doing the dishes, stocking the shelves, and handing out fliers.  Without a penny to his name, he slept in the stockroom at night, and ate whatever wasn’t selling.

Over time, word got out that you could get a pretty good breakfast at Carl’s, and people started dropping in.  Carl used what little money he was making to rent a billboard on the nearby Interstate advertising  5 egg omelets and a “free” thermos of coffee for truckers.  As business picked up, he discovered that he could actually lose money on the food because, as soon as the truckers finished eating, they would walk into the convenience store and stock their trucks with overpriced snacks, drinks, and cigarettes.  Before he knew it, he had such a stream of business that he was having trouble keeping the shelves stocked with beef jerky and sunflower seeds.  Phil’s fuel sales went through the roof as well.  As the truckers poured in for supplies they also topped off their tanks and, in less than a year, Phil was building a new island of diesel pumps to accommodate all of the trucks.  Carl even came up with a catch phrase for the station:

“Fill ’em and Fuel ’em at Phil’s”

Business continued to grow for about 8 years, and life was good for the fill ’em and fuel ’em team.  Carl was finally starting to realize some return on his years of hard work. He bought himself a small ranch a few miles from the station, found himself a gently used F-350, and decided to hire a couple of employees to help run the place.  Then, just as things had really started rolling, tragedy struck. One scorching hot August afternoon Phil drove home, kissed his wife Elna, sat down in his chair to read the mail, and died.  The doctor said that he had passed from a massive brain hemorrhage and had not suffered.  Carl was thankful for that. Phil had provided well for his wife, and she wanted nothing to do with the gas station. So, Carl bought Phil’s share and went it alone. It was hard at first, because Phil had always managed the fuels.  Almost immediately Carl realized that it wasn’t nearly as easy as flipping pancakes.

Buying and selling fuel was a real hit or miss type thing. As an independent dealer, Carl had to negotiate with a number of local suppliers.  You had to buy in bulk loads as cheaply as you could, and then sell it at a price that you thought would cover the next shipment.  If you were lucky and hit the numbers just right, you could make a nice profit.  If you missed the mark however, you could lose a lot.  After 40 years in the business, Phil had been a master at this.  Carl, on the other hand, had a lot to learn.  He missed Phil terribly.

Despite Carl’s early misfires in the fuel business, the station continued to grow. It was now a popular stop for truckers on the Interstate, and he had a steady stream of long-haul regulars.  His personal life took a turn for the better as well when he met his wife Katie.  He had always wanted a family of his own, and a year after their wedding he got his wish when their twin boys Cade and Cody were born. Wanting to spend more time with his family, he hired a manager for the Fill and Fuel and started focusing on being a dad.

One day while he was in his office doing payroll, a couple of men in suits walked into the store.  They were from a larger truck stop franchise and were interested in talking to Carl about buying his place.  He had a perfect location near the Interstate, and apparently he was outselling all the the other establishments in his area.  Almost out of the blue, one of the men tossed a number on the table that made Carl nearly fall out of his chair.  If he took the deal, his family would be taken care of, and he would never have to work another day in his life.  After thinking about it for a few days however, he decided to pass.  There was still a lot he wanted to do to the place, and wasn’t ready to give up his life’s work.  Besides, if it was worth that much now, he could only imagine what it would be worth when he was through with it.  He was happy, healthy, successful, and a father.  What more could he ask for?  Unfortunately, a thousand miles away in Washington, “change” was in the air.

The first blow came in 2011 when Congress let the Bush tax cuts expire. Carl had never incorporated and, as a sole proprietor, his tax rate increased by 15% overnight.  It was a devastating blow.  The recession of 2009 had already cut his sales by 30%, and the new taxes just made things worse.  The larger chains looked at the tax hike as an opportunity to drive some of the independents out of business, so they ate the tax increase  for a while to keep their prices artificially low. Carl could not afford to do this, and was forced to price his  fuel a full nickel per gallon higher than some of his competitors.  Business slowed even more, but stayed steady thanks to many loyal customers. For the first time in over 20 years however, Fill and Fuel was losing money.  In order to keep the tanks full, Carl had to let 4 of his long-time employees go. Next to Phil’s death, handing out their pink slips was the most painful experience of his life.  Carl was not alone however,  thousands of companies across the state were having to make similar decisions, and soon unemployment numbers began to climb well above 12 percent.  The people of Texas were furious at the tax hikes,  and tea parties around the state began to cry for secession.  At first they were dismissed by the mainstream as far right loons but, as time went on,  the protests got larger and louder.

In 2012 the second blow came in the form of Cap and Trade. Congress rammed it through against a massive grass roots protest with the help of three or four turncoat Republicans.  Overnight, fuel prices skyrocketed to 6 dollars a gallon on sheer speculation.  Again, as an independent dealer, Carl did not have the purchasing power that his larger competitors enjoyed, and started losing more and more money on every gallon of fuel he sold.  He mortgaged his home and took out an equity loan on the station to keep the cash flowing, but eventually had to lay off 3 more employees including his two shift managers.  Once again, Carl found himself putting in 18 hour days just to keep the place in business. Cap and Trade had all but devastated the national trucking industry as well – especially the little guys.  The smaller truck lines and independent owner-operators did not have the capital to buy the carbon offsets necessary to keep their rigs on the road, so they simply started shutting down.  Within three months of the law’s implementation, Carl’s truck business dropped to almost zero. He was still getting a steady stream of car business, but the simple fact was that he could not fill Kia gas tanks fast enough to pay the bills.

Texans were infuriated by the administration’s eagerness to sign Cap and Trade into law, and had challenged it in the Supreme Court with 15 other states. The newly liberal court however,  shot down the lawsuit on the grounds that Cap and Trade was constitutional under Interstate Commerce.  On the day that the decision was announced, cries rang out across Texas once again for secession.  Texas flags flew from every window across the state, and several federal offices in Dallas and Austin were vandalized by angry mobs. Trucks in the hundreds parked themselves around the state capitol building blocking traffic for weeks,  practically bringing the city to a standstill.  The Governor held an emergency meeting with the Legislature and, along with 4 other states, sent a letter to the federal government stating their concern for the nation’s welfare and reaffirming their commitment to protecting the welfare of their citizens.

Then, as if to poke the nation in its collective eye, late in 2013 Congress passed an 8% national Value Added Tax (VAT) to cover the wildly out of control national debt and help pay for escalating health care costs.  The VAT had been an add-on buried in a new economic stimulus bill.  The 4,000 page bill was signed into law by Obama only a week after it had been introduced, and the language authorizing the tax had been cleverly hidden in a paragraph on page 3,015. Neither the press nor the Republicans had caught it in time.  Once again fuel prices skyrocketed on speculation, and within a matter of days topped 8 dollars a gallon.  Business at Carl’s place dried up to nothing.  The once busy Interstate now looked like a back country farm road. One San Antonio reporter noted that, on some stretches of highway, one could sit on the centerline and eat lunch without fear of being run over.  Again, cries arose for secession across the state.  Businesses were closing by the hundreds due skyrocketing overhead costs and poor demand.  Carl could no longer pay the mortgage on his home, and was forced into foreclosure.  He moved his family into his in-law’s ranch, laid off the rest of his employees, and closed the diner.  Once again, he found himself penniless and struggling to survive a day at a time.  Things were not much better anywhere else.  With an unemployment rate of over 17%, the state of Texas found itself in the middle of an economic crisis that it had not created.  Violence began to break out in some of the larger cities, and people out of work began to line the streets of Austin demanding that Texas reclaim its status as an independent sovereign nation.

The Governor had no choice but to call a special session of the Legislature together to discuss their next move. After two weeks of heated debate, they sent a second letter to the White House.  In it they notified the President that the Republic of Texas would no longer recognize the new VAT, and would not compel any of its citizens to pay it.  The letter also announced that federal Cap and Trade regulations would not apply to businesses operating within state borders. It closed with a stern warning that any attempt by the federal government to hold any Texas citizen liable for these taxes would result in Texas’ immediate secession from the Union.

The national press was abuzz. Pundits on the major networks took sides and started arguing the constitutionality of Texas’ bold move.  Many were critical saying that the Civil War had clearly established that secession was illegal, and that the entire Texas Legislature should be arrested on federal charges.  Others however, pointed out that nowhere in the Constitution did it state that the Union was permanent, and that many states did in fact have clauses in their constitutions reaffirming their right to secede.  As the debate raged on,  the White House was eerily silent on the matter.  Press secretary Robert Gibbs refused comment when queried, and Obama all but dropped out of sight completely. Weeks, then months, went by without any federal response – and the silence was deafening.

Because Carl had always purchased his fuel from local Texas suppliers, he found that he had a slight advantage over the competition now.  With the unilateral repeal of Cap and Trade and the VAT, Carl was able to lower his prices and undercut the out-of-state suppliers. Small in-state trucking companies started to venture back out on the road and, in a show of solidarity, many pledged to only patronize Texas-based businesses. Soon, business picked up enough for Carl to reopen the diner for breakfast.  After a couple of months, rumors started to circulate that Texas had called the fed’s bluff, and that Obama’s oppressive taxes were destined to be repealed across the country.  After a while, even Carl began to believe that the crisis would soon be over.  That is when he got the letter…

Carl received it from a special courier one afternoon as he was preparing to leave for home.  He signed for it, and tore the envelope open.  The letter was neatly typed on Internal Revenue Service stationary and read simply:

“Dear Mr. Lamonte,

This letter is to inform you that you have failed to pay lawful federal taxes, and that you are in violation of federal law.  You have 30 days from the date of this letter to pay accrued taxes and fines totaling 35,300 dollars, or your property will be seized by federal authorities as payment in kind. We recommend that you make this payment promptly to avoid further action.”

Carl felt his face flush. His heart begin to race in his chest. “They can’t do that can they?” he asked under his breath.  All of a sudden, he felt a surge of pure rage.  He and Phil had built this truck stop with their money and their sweat!    He had slaved and starved for years to make something for himself, and he was not about to let any damn Washington bureaucrat come in and take it.  How dare they!

Early the next morning, Carl called the Governor’s office and told them about what he had received. Apparently thousands of businesses across the state had received similar letters on the very same day, and the Governor’s office had been inundated with calls all morning from frantic Texans.

“Yeah, they are pretty much giving everyone their 60 day notice,” the staffer on the other end of the line noted.  “Everyone here in Austin is scrambling to figure out what to do next.”

Carl hesitated and looked down at his letter.

“Did you say 60 day notice?”

“Yep, they all say 60,” the staffer confirmed. “What are they going to do, send down an army to repossess the entire state?”

Carl looked at his letter again.  “My letter only gives me 30 days.”

There was a pause on the phone. “Are you sure sir?

“That’s right. I am looking at it as we speak.”

There was another pause.  “Sir, could you please hold on, while I inform the Governor?”

“The Governor?”

“Yes sir, we were scared that something like this might happen.”

“Like this?” Carl queried trying not to sound as confused as he felt.

“Yes sir, we were worried that they would try to make an example out of someone, and it sounds like you may be it.”

Carl let the phone down from his ear.  It was now perfectly clear to him what was happening.  The feds were going to come into town, seize his property, and haul him off to jail on national television.  They were going to use him to show the rest of the state what was coming if they did not get back in line.  Once again Carl felt a tide of rage rising in his chest.  He put the phone back to his ear.

“You tell the Governor, that if they want my business they will have to step over my dead body to take it!” he yelled at the shocked staffer.

“You tell the Governor that!”

Carl slammed the phone down so hard that the handset cracked.  “If an example is what they want,” he growled, “an example is sure as hell what they are going to get.”

<<To Be Continued in Part II next week>>

WordPress.com PoliticalBlogger Alliance

Obama Blames Insurance Companies for Volcano Eruption

Head Muscle Press (21 April, 2010) In a clear effort not to have his agenda upstaged by a natural disaster, President Obama held an impromptu press conference this afternoon blaming insurance companies for the eruption in Iceland.  “If you ever wondered how low greedy insurance companies would stoop to make a buck,” Obama bellowed to a mesmerized crowd, “just look at the plume of ash behind me.”  As Obama spoke, a live picture of the eruption appeared on a giant screen behind his podium.  “We have got to stop these greedy companies in their tracks, or God only knows what they will do to us next!” he exclaimed. “If you think this eruption was bad, wait until you see the tidal waves and asteroid strikes they are planning!”

Word from administration insiders is that Obama was ‘extremely upset’  that the disaster had taken up valuable network air time he had planned to use to bash our free enterprise system.  Late yesterday, the White House released a memorandum to the press stating that Obama would personally investigate the eruption in Iceland, as well as its suspected ties to AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Wall Street.  This afternoon, in a highly choreographed media event, he announced his findings.  “After twelve hours of exhaustive investigation,” the President announced, “I have determined that the insurance companies are behind this eruption and, as we speak, are pumping billions of tons of ash and carbon into the air.”  The crowd responded with glee chanting, “death to AIG,” and pumping their clenched fists into the air.

Bolstered by their enthusiasm, Obama laid out his case.  “Don’t you find it strange that this eruption took place just one month after passing health care reform?” he asked the crowd rhetorically.  “We have made it all but impossible for these pirates to provide you quality health care at a profit, so they have set their sights on volcanoes instead!”  The crowd, clearly entranced by his brilliance, hung on every word.  “Make no mistake about it, they will not rest until each and every one of you are buying their volcano insurance for your home!” he warned.  “Once they have Iceland and Europe in their greedy grip, they will continue to cause eruptions around the world until they have recouped every penny I have stolen from them!”

As Obama played the crowd, another plume of ash billowed from the crater behind him. “See what I mean!” he exclaimed. “They are sending you a message right now!”  The crowed boo’d and hissed.  “Well let me tell you something.  They may think that they have us, but no one alive can blow smoke like me, and they have just met their match!” At this point the crowd could not contain themselves, and began cheering wildly and doing something that looked eerily like the electric slide.   It was clear to everyone that, with this speech, Obama had  established himself as the nation’s first ‘volcano reform’ president.

Obama went on to announce that he would ask Congress to pass an $800 billion package to nationalize the world’s volcanoes and, “wrest them, once and for all, from grip of big insurance.”  Under Obama’s plan, taxpayers would foot the $800 billion bill through a VAT, or Volcano Abatement Tax, which would be levied against companies and individuals that promoted, funded, or directly controlled volcanic activity.  Though it is unclear exactly who would have to pay this tax, insiders close to Obama have suggested the list would specifically target banks, insurance companies, Wall Street firms, and any individual greedy enough to invest their personal funds with these organizations.  It has also been suggested that certain groups might be forced to pay additional penalties for their “reckless promotion” of volcanic activity. These groups could include Jimmy Buffett (for that “Volcano Song”), King Kong, and anyone performing in, directing, producing, or viewing the play South Pacific.  Leonard Nimoy could also get hit with a severe penalty for playing a ‘Vulcan,’ which was clearly derived from ‘Vulcanus’  the Roman god of volcano fire.  Nimoy has not commented.

According to our source, funds raised from the VAT would be used to develop strict EPA limits on all future volcano eruptions, and to ensure that all Americans are protected from wanton volcanic activity.  In his remarks, Obama noted that almost 99.99% of all Americans live day-to-day without volcano insurance, and that this was proof enough that the current system needed a complete overhaul.  He pledged that, under this new bill, every American citizen would be guaranteed their constitutional right to free volcano protection.  He then concluded his remarks by pledging to have direct talks with any and all third-world volcanoes that showed a willingness to work with the US.  So far, volcanoes in Iran, Syria, and North Korea have not responded.

The GOP has been quick to label Obama’s new VAT as just another massive Democrat tax-and-spend sham.  In remarks on Fox News, Karl Rove noted that many people who do not have volcano insurance choose not to be covered. He went on to say that Obama is, once again, manufacturing a crisis in order to take away American freedom. Sarah Palin noted that, while Governor of Alaska, she only controlled one volcano and that the problem had been grossly overstated by the Dems.  Mitt Romney has remained silent on the issue however, and pundits have speculated it is because the volcano insurance plan he put in place in Massachusetts has been grossly mismanaged.   Ron Paul refused to comment on the volcano issue, but took the opportunity to announce that space aliens had been stealing his underwear for several years.<<Developing>>

WordPress.com PoliticalBlogger Alliance