and so the assemblyman from Gylunia might want to watch his mouth next time. We turn now to the story that just won’t go away, the continuing scandal involving the Revenue Bureau’s targeting of conservative groups applying for levy-exempt status…”
Tuk Phlolm stopped digging through the box of old car magazines, looked across the garage at the receiver on his workbench.
“…It seems Hall Review Committee chairman Ail Obenba simply will not give up in his ongoing quest to determine just how far up the chain of command the knowledge about what was going on at the RB went…”
Tuk looked down, ran his eyes over the dusty covers, the yellowed pages of the old magazines in the box. Why was he hanging on to them? He’d sold the Slinger years ago, and he sure as hell wasn’t buying another fixer-upper any time soon.
“…In a letter sent Wednesday from Obenba to Prime Counselor Karik Yandavanaugh, the chairman is demanding that the Justice Bureau’s top official answer for his department’s perceived involvement in this affair…”
Tuk carried the box of magazines out to the driveway, set it with the other soon-to-be discarded items. He was heading back into the garage when a sound from the street turned his head.
“…The letter is, of course, in response to the recent revelation that well before the scandal broke nearly a year ago, a high-ranking official in the Justice Bureau had been corresponding with Dehorah Damz, the woman who ran the RB department that specifically dealt with levy-exempt applications, about how the RB might go about targeting right-leaning groups…”
He turned in time to see the fall. Eb Grota’s boy had been trying something with his soarboard. He’d caught the curb and went for a tumble. It didn’t look that nasty to Tuk, but the young man was whimpering all the same.
“…That official, Pawl Ithosiak of the—get this…Political Integrity Division—of the Justice Bureau, wrote in one of the e-corrs to Damz that he was asked by a superior to discuss not only ways in which the RB could hit conservatives on the levy front, but also to find out who at the RB the Justice Bureau should be talking to about the possible prosecution of these groups…”
Tuk moved back into the garage, paused, looked around at all the years’ worth of accumulation. It was going to take forever, and his back was already aching.
“…Asked, by a superior. Which superior? We don’t know, but I imagine that’s at the top of Delegate Obenba’s list of questions for the Prime Counselor…”
Tuk walked over to his workbench, reached toward the receiver.
“…But prosecution? Really? This is getting out of hand, folks. Now we’re talking about people being arrested for having the wrong political views. Wrong, in this case, meaning views that are opposed to those of the current administration. How many times are we—“
Tuk Phlolm grabbed his water off the workbench and moved out into the driveway. He pulled a rag from his back pocket, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and sat on the bumper of his pickup.
It was a beautiful day. Spring had come in nice and easy this year, and his wife’s flowers blazed in the afternoon sunlight. Across the street Nel Buddisan was tending to her own blossoms. She and Tuk’s wife had something of a rivalry going, one Tuk felt his wife was currently losing. He took a drink of water, looked down the street where the Grota boy had recovered and was attempting yet another doomed maneuver. The lad simply had no balance. Tuk’s eyes fell to the driveway. He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly.
It was all so obvious, so very clear to see once you had the proper perspective. Divide and conquer, as it were, applied on a societal level. Keep the masses fighting amongst themselves. Distract the rabble with a phony two-faction system so the real players can make their moves from the shadows.
This Revenue Bureau fiasco was a perfect example of it. The corporate media had painted the RB as a political weapon being wielded by the faction currently in control of the Manor. The narrative implied that the executive himself had ordered the Revenue Bureau to delay issuance of levy-exempt status to right-leaning groups trying to establish political organizations. According to the story, it was the conservatives—and only the conservatives—who were being targeted by the RB.
The only problem was, it wasn’t true. Just that morning, Tuk had read an article from an independent news outlet about a liberal group who had obtained documents proving that long before this latest wave of conservative activism, the RB was giving the same treatment to a number of progressive-minded organizations.
But even as he was reading the article, Tuk knew the information would never gain traction with the major hubs. It didn’t fit into the carefully-shaped narrative being sent out for the public to absorb. The conservatives were the victims, that was the line, and any data not supporting that line would be ignored.
It was really as simple as that. Hit the people with a polarizing issue, something that will keep them screaming at each other from across some imaginary divide. In the Revenue Bureau scenario, it was a good old case of abuse of power. The right wanted to claim victimhood, to claim that the evil left was persecuting them for their beliefs and, further, that such a thing would never occur if their people were running the show.
Except that wasn’t true, either. Because it had nothing to do with left and right, and everything to do with the power structure itself. It didn’t matter which faction was in control of the Manor. It didn’t matter which team’s man was sitting in the Circular. The power would be there, indifferent, demanding to be wielded—and by design.
Tuk had witnessed the steady buildup of federal power over the decades. Each year, more rights were taken from the people. Each year, the government’s reach expanded. There was an agenda at play, and that agenda was for a thickening bureaucracy. More laws, more regulations, more ways for the federal apparatus to choke the citizenry into obedience. Left, right, liberal, conservative…these were just words. They didn’t matter a damn. What mattered was the agenda, and this government would put the boot to any individual, any group—on any side—who stood in the way of it. This was the two-faction paradigm at its core. A mechanism put into place by the elite, the true ruling class, in order to prevent the people from taking note of the country’s long slow glide into totalitarianism.
Tuk took a big gulp of water, wiped his mouth. He pushed himself off the bumper and turned toward the garage. Hell of a lot of work left, and his back still ached. As he walked up the driveway the unmistakable sound of impact, followed by a short grunt, came at him from down the street. Tuk entered the garage without glancing at the source.
It was pasta night in the Phlolm household, and for dinner that evening Mrs. Phlolm was trying out a recipe she’d gotten from