What If…

Via Bookworm Room:

The year is 2026. Since 2020, Republicans have majorities in Congress and a president in the White House. The wars in Syria and Iraq long ago merged, starting a conflagration that constantly threatens to spill over into every region of the world. The result is the Islamist caliphate equivalent of the Cold War, with the U.S. trying to put out small Islamic fires all over the world in order to de-fang the Sunni and Shia monsters without having to engage them directly on American soil.

The military is more central to American life and survival than ever. Defense costs have therefore skyrocketed, so Republicans went looking for new ways to equip the military. To this end, they noted that America’s business class was arguably benefiting most from the military’s efforts, because businesses were able to carry on and profit primarily because the military kept the Islamists far from American shores. It therefore would be logical for corporations to subsidize a significant part of the war effort.

Based upon this reasoning, in 2022, the Republicans successfully passed a new law, known as the Act for an Affordable Military (“AAM”). The Acts’ supporters affectionately call it “Adopt A Marine.” Its detractors refer to it disdainfully as “America’s A Monster.”

AAM goes far beyond traditional military funding, which relied upon tax revenues funneled to the Pentagon. Instead, AAM directly engages corporate America as an essential part of equipping the American military. Immediately upon the Act’s passage, the Pentagon was tasked with creating rules under AAM (a 3,200 portmanteau document written in vague and broad terms) that would shift onto corporations primary responsibility for equipping troops.

The Pentagon immediately issued a rule mandating that henceforth every corporation will be responsible for outfitting Marines with everything a Marine at war could need:  uniform, pack, weapons . . . the whole megillah.  Moreover, the number of Marine Gear Kits (or “MGKs”) that a corporation must assemble will be equal to the number of employees the corporation has. Thus, a corporation with ten employees must put together 10 MGKs, a corporation with 50 employees must put together 50 MGKs, and so on. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision, this kind of . . . ahem . . . “tax” (i.e., forcing taxpayers to purchase a product, even if they don’t want it themselves) is perfectly legitimate.

Corporations that fail to comply with the MGK mandate will be assessed an annual tax equal to $10,000 per MGK, with no maximum cap. That means that, if a corporation with 50 employees refuses to put together its designated MGKs, it will pay an annual penalty of $500,000. A corporation with 30,000 employees could find itself on the hook for $300,000,000 annually.  Again, the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision legitimized this “penalty” for failure to “pay” the “tax.”

Something else has changed now that the Cold War against the new Caliphate is being carried out by Republicans:  The DemProg peace movement is resurgent. Two of the most active peaceniks, Sol and Luna Giggleweed started out in their home office in 2020 (when Republicans finally re-took Congress and the White House following Elizabeth Warren’s ill-fated four-year presidency), designing, creating, and marketing bumper stickers, window signs, mugs, toilet paper . . . anything that could advance the pacifist cause.

With business booming, the Giggleweeds incorporated, calling their new business “Pacifists United Together Zone” or “PUTZ.” They now have 50 full-time employees working in their green-compliant factory in San Francisco’s SoMa district.

Thanks to the Giggleweed’s business acumen, you can now walk into any trendy store and buy one of PUTZ’s $25 king-size mugs emblazoned with “Live Peacefully or Die.”  If that’s too expensive, for $10 you can get a set of 10 bumper stickers reading “Peace : The New Caliphate Wants It Too.” PUTZ also manufactures the usual complement of sweatshirts with peace signs on them; posters urging people to “Visualize World Peace” or “Pray for Israel’s Destruction”; and the ever-popular Naughty Underwear set, in both multigender and cisgender versions, with “Make Love, Not War” glitter-stamped on the crotch.

For the Giggleweeds, peace isn’t just a gimmick to make a motive; it’s also their core ideology. Both Sol and Luna attended the Bush-era anti-war protests, and they oppose Republican-led wars with every fiber of their DemProg beings.

Significantly, even the Giggleweed’s faith is driven by their pacifism. They are ardent members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (aka “PCUSA”).  In 2018, PCUSA’s governing board formally voted that “We, the PCUSA, oppose all wars, except for those wars dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Nobody quite knows how it did it, but PCUSA asserted that this vote reflected a core religious principle derived from the Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  PCUSA’s revised doctrine is immune to challenge thanks to the tattered remnants of the First Amendment (which, in 2018, was amended to state that “Except as to matters of human sexuality and gender identityCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”).

PUTZ employees are as devout as the Giggleweeds. Indeed, many of them came to the Giggleweed’s attention during the Bush War protests.  Without exception, all of the employees belong to PCUSA or affiliated faiths. Their strong anti-war beliefs (unless, of course, the war is waged against Israel) infuse every aspect of their lives.  They are grateful to work at PUTZ, a corporation with a business model that puts pacifism on the front line, so to speak.

For these reasons, the Giggleweeds and their PUTZ employees were horrified when AAM became law and, even worse, when the Pentagon explicitly passed to corporations the responsibility for providing MGKs. PUTZ therefore joined with PCUSA and other like-minded churches and mosques, which are also on the hook for MGKs, to object to the mandate that they directly invest in MGKs or pay a substantial penalty to help fund the “Republican Anti-Caliphate War Machine.”

The Republican establishment was unmoved by anti-AAM protesters. Instead, it took great pleasure in reminding the protesters and litigants that, thanks to agitation from this same cadre of people in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Congress in 2016 (Year One of Elizabeth Warren’s disastrous administration) amended RFRA to state explicitly that it does not apply to corporations, regardless of the corporation’s size or whether it’s publicly traded or closely held. There is no way out for the Giggleweeds and PUTZ: they either put together MGKs for the Marines, or they pay $500,000 so that someone else can put the MGKs together for them.

To the Giggleweeds and their ilk, the Republicans have only one thing to say:  It’s always nasty when your own chickens come home to roost.

I can hear ‘.em squalling from here.

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