That motherfucker, Levi Raffets thought to himself. That fucking motherfucker bitch whore. Who the fuck does he think he is?
What the fuck was his name again? Senator Mayhem? Senator Maypole? A total fucking nobody.
Raffets was wandering around the White House late Tuesday night, punching the walls so hard it made his long, greasy hair flip around his face. Once in a while he would yell “Fuck!” just to make sure people stayed away.
Levi Raffets was the meanest guy in the whole White House. Always yelling, always screaming, always swearing. If the staff wasn’t hearing any of that in the White House, it meant Raffets had an appointment somewhere else.
It was all on purpose. Raffets figured out after a few weeks on the job that the best way to amass power in the government was to scream and yell.
Most showed up in awe of the place, and could only bring themselves to whisper the small disagreements they had for fear that somehow they would debase the building by arguing in it. As if the White House was some kind of temple that had to be honored with clean language.
Fuck that. Raffets figured that if he just yelled and used vile language in these hallowed halls, he would be seen as powerful, as someone who can break the rules. And he was right. Most let him get his way simply because they didn’t feel cocksure enough to take on the guy who was willing to yell “motherfucker” right in the middle of the White House, with hundreds of people around.
Even now, being pissed off about this goofball senator, Raffets felt the need to show his dominance over the White House. He walked up to a bust of some famous politician and slapped it off the pedestal. It hit the ground and broke up into dozens of pieces.
Raffets read the plaque, which said the bust was of John Adams, the nation’s second president from 1797 to 1801.
“One term loser,” Raffets sneered as he stepped over the debris.
Raffets was smart never to let Dawson II see this side of him. For all the president knew, Raffets was an important staffer because he had ideas, or was a leader or something. But really, it was fear.
And the only price Raffets had to pay for it was the inevitable whispering behind his back.
“He’s never happy,” they said. “He’s power hungry.” “He doesn’t like people.”
Raffets wasn’t just guessing that people said that about him, he knew it. And the reason he knew it is because he secretly inserted micro-transmitters into all NSC staff during their physicals, and he now had the luxury of listening in on any major staffer he wanted.
He could, and did, hear everything these staffers said at home, to their friends, while in bed with their girlfriends, husbands, secret lovers next door. Raffets loved spying on people who were having affairs. The dumb shit they would say. “You’re my soul mate,” stuff like that. Their soul mates were never their husbands and wives. Instead, it was always someone who lived three doors down, someone whose spouse always worked a lot. How convenient.
He could record it all, too, all the nonsense people said. Usually he’d spend a little time each week recording NSC staff at home, listening for a weakness, maybe some information that could help him compromise that official later on, if needed.
Along the way he heard an earful about himself. Some even suspected he was taping them. Just a few months back, he listened to one guy search all day for the hidden microphones that he figured just had to be in his house somewhere.
But the micro-device he used to eavesdrop on people was right under their noses, literally — it was inserted in the cartilage of the right nostril, after each official was briefly sedated in preparation for their official cat scan.
Was it against the law? Possibly. But who even knew what the law was anymore, on any subject? Raffets knew the law was flexible and that he could easily talk his way out of anyone who challenged his secret surveillance system.
People had funny conceptions of “the law.” Most still thought the law was the stuff members of Congress wrote down and passed. What a joke. Raffets knew better what the real truth was.
Law only happened after someone tried something, then someone challenged it, and then the courts finally decided whether the action was legal or illegal. Only then did anyone know what “the law” was.
Plenty of lawyers understood that much. But Raffets took that logic to a diabolical level. He realized instantly that because presidents could only stay in the White House for up to eight years, presidents were essentially above the law. They could do something radical, then sit back and watch as opponents filed a suit, which would take more than a decade to wind its way through the courts after all the arguing and appeals.
When the justice system was finally able to shit out some result, the president would be long gone.
By Raffets’ logic, that meant Article III of the Constitution, which set up the Judicial Branch, was just something to make people feel good about Article II, which set up the Executive Branch and which really was the government. Obviously Article I, which set up Congress, was there to create the illusion that “the people” were in charge.
And if all that didn’t make the federal government a big playpen for people like Raffets, he happened to be in a field best suited for hiding his actions behind a cloak of secrecy: national security.
Raffets could justify anything in the name of national security, and then cover it all up in the name of national security. It could take years for people to uncover these plots, and then a lifetime for the courts to sort it out.
The simple fact that men were mortal and died, Raffets reasoned, was a critical factor in how modern governments were run. Men in his position could do whatever they wanted, knowing that if they covered up their tracks well enough, and if the judicial system was as slow and ponderous as expected, any punishment handed down by a court would most likely come after the offender had died.
Raffets laughed, and found himself calming down as he thought through how perfectly he was gaming the system. Let them come get me. You can’t arrest a dead guy.
All he needed to do was rewire the game to take down this asshole senator, Mayflower. Mayfield? Whatever.
He remembered his first name, though. Flik. What the fuck kind of name was that? And this jerkoff, Flik, this nobody, embarrassed him at the hearing. Raffets mocked him mercilessly as he stormed through the White House halls.
“These efforts you’re making to save the world, how much will that cost?” Raffets said, harshly mimicking the senators weak, tinny voice.
“Thanks for saving us from China, but how much more will be have to spent for the luxury of being alive for another few decades?” he sneered.
The unbelievable nerve of that cocksucker. It was like haggling over the price of a glass of water in the middle of the desert. He should be thankful, and pay anything for it. But no, this fuckwad wants a discount and a report.
He wandered back into his office. It was late, no one was around. He whispered a single word and several screens jumped to life, showing the stock market results, domestic and international news, just about all the news he needed to make the thousands of decisions he made each day.
There, in the corner, was a video of Flik Maynard taking questions from the press after the closed hearing, and saying a report was coming soon on the costs of the war against China. It was just what Raffets feared. Now the press was into it. They’d be curious about the report, ready to snoop around share with the world what’s in it.
Goddamn it, he would have to write it himself. That’s what really bothered him. He couldn’t trust this to staff. Staff might be dumb enough to give the Senate actual answers.
Raffets froze as a stray thought entered his brain and took hold.
“Wait a minute,” Raffets said out loud in his office, a luxury he could afford since no one was taping him. “What if I did give him some real answers?”
In that moment, Raffets hatched a plan. He flipped through more screens, and saw several stories about the closed hearing, and the war. And some, like this story from Josh Pinner at The Rumpus, were starting to make some connections.
Flik Maynard wasn’t onto it yet, but he was making the right kind of noises. And stories like Pinner’s might point him in the right direction. Soon there would be just enough dots out there for people to start drawing lines between them.
Well, whatever. It’s not like you could invade China and expect nobody to ask any questions. The press was notoriously stupid, but even the press would poke around on this one. He was hoping the whole thing would just be one of those three-day cycles to survive, after which everyone would move on to the next crisis.
But no, this was probably a medium-term event he’d have to deal with now. Maybe a few weeks or so to clear it out. It would have to be quick. It was already October, and Dawson II would want to run again next year. It wouldn’t help to have people talking about all this war shit next year.
Raffets wasn’t nervous about the outcome. He’d play the press, play Congress and play Wall Street, just move them around like little chess pieces on the board. Some of those pieces were already moving. It was easy. It was like being in a duel with a scarecrow with a learning disability. It was impossible to lose.
He thought about all the chess pieces. Every single one of them was a dumb fuck. If he wanted this over in a few weeks, he’d have to help every single one of them along.
Jesus Christ, the waste of time this would be for Levi Raffets. Was this what all his talent was for? To trick half-wits into leaving him alone so he could save the country from downfall? The goal was noble, but the minute-to-minute spadework was as mind-numbing as the people he had to string along.
He waved his hand to call up his contacts. He stared at the name Bill Jacobus, and blinked twice. Seconds later, Bill’s voice was in his ear.
“Bill, it’s Levi,” he said.
“Mr. Raffets,” Bill replied politely. “I heard about the hearing today. Do you want me to start putting together a report on projected costs of our military effort as it relates…”
“No, fuck that,” Raffets said. “That’s just Senate shit, who cares? Don’t you know your history? The cooling saucer, right? What are they going to do in the Senate, pass a law? Half of them are running for president, and the other half are writing books.”
They both laughed. Raffets and Bill went way back, and as soon as Raffets took the reins of power, he knew he wanted Bill around as much as possible to help manage certain affairs. Bill was a specialist, the kind of guy who could do the dirty work and then just shut up about it.
Bill was also really tall and intimidating, which Raffets found useful. And Bill was with Raffets all the way.
“I was told you agreed to a complete report…”
“Don’t worry about that, Bill,” Raffets said. “I’ll send them something myself to keep them happy. You know, something with numbers and graphs that they can hold up as a victory, as if they got something from us. But it won’t say much.”
“You’re the boss,” Bill said.
“I need you to do something else for me,” Raffets said. “I need you to do a civic duty.”
“I’m always ready to help my fellow man, Mr. Raffets,” Bill said. “What kind of civic duty?”
“The best kind, Bill,” Raffets said. “I need to you help me spread knowledge. Like the Bible says, ‘Living is easy with eyes closed,’ right? That’s a dangerous situation, don’t you agree?”
“I’m not sure that’s in the Bible.”
“Well, it should be,” Raffets said. “Come over to the White House in five minutes and I’ll fill you in.”