Anyone who wondered where we Mainiacs were coming from could find out by sitting down to a typical Maine dinner. Everything was boiled, and if the cook was feeling exuberant that night, it might be seasoned with salt and pepper. Then again, it might not.
Any people with food that bad had to be conservative. And we were, in the old sense of the word: we lived pretty much as Americans had lived all along, and we liked it that way.
The funny thing was, Maine kept electing liberals. The liberals’ crazy ideas didn’t seem to matter in Maine. They could talk on, as they were wont to do, about this or that group of “victims,” and Mainers could nod, because there weren’t any of those people Down East. They weren’t about to move in next door.
Then, in the Fall of 2020, they did.
The “they,” in this case, were the gays. They were our one home-grown minority.
As our culture began to fall apart, in the 1960s, the gays started “coming out.” This broke the old rule of “Don’t frighten the horses,” which had allowed mutual toleration. The rule meant that they were not open about their orientation, and we pretended not to notice it.
By the 2000s, they had become one of the cultural Marxists’ sacred “victims” groups, which meant they were encouraged to flaunt their vice and we were supposed to approve of it. This was justified in the name of “toleration,” but toleration and approval are different. You may tolerate things you don’t approve. I was willing to tolerate gays, but I would sooner have given my approval to an act involving three high yellow whores, a wading pool full of green Jello, and Flipper.
As usual, Maine had elected a liberal Governor, a former Senator named Snidely Hokem. He’d gotten tired of the Caligula’s court that was Washington, where he’d competed hard for the role of Incitatus’s hindquarters. But he still liked having his own backside kissed, so he figured being Governor might be about right for him.
To keep up his liberal standing, he had to find one of the “victims” groups and abase himself and the State of Maine before it. That was a challenge, since our winters kept out most “minorities” and our women had too much real work to do to be feminists.
The gays provided the perfect answer. So on September 23, 2020, The Honorable Snidely Hokem issued an executive order that each public school in Maine, including every elementary school, had to hire at least one homosexual guidance counselor. The order explained that this was necessary so “students with different sexual preferences would not feel excluded.” In order to determine who had what “sexual preference,” the gay counselors had to be given “unrestricted public and private access” to all the kids.
Suddenly, Mainers found their “luxury liberalism” had turned on them and bitten them, hard.
It takes a good bit to stir Yankees, but this did. The outrage was widespread. All over the state, parents came to PTA meetings and raised hell.
I expected Hokem to back down in the face of the voters’ wrath. After all, he was a politician. But he didn’t. Instead, he got on the television and gave a real stem-winder about how “we were all guilty of oppressing people who were really no different from ourselves.” Far from condemning them, “we should confront our own homophobia, which is a greater sin than any they might commit, not that what they do is sinful.” “Let us ask ourselves,” he concluded, “whether our children are not safer with these counselors than with the average Roman Catholic priest. After all, the sexually victimized have never led an Inquisition.”
I realized it was time for the Christian Marines to go into action. I read in the Bangor paper where the leaders of a number of grass-roots groups were meeting in Augusta, and I decided to join them. Mr. Kraft had the connections to get me in, which he was happy to do. As a student of war, he understood that most crises were also opportunities.
The meeting went as such meetings tend to go. It was full of good people who didn’t know what to do because they didn’t know how to operate outside the system.
Someone proposed a petition drive. Someone else raised the question, a petition to do what? And who would do it? There wasn’t much point in petitioning the state’s liberal establishment, which was no different from that in Washington, only smaller.
Others wanted to elect more conservatives to local school boards. But the boards, which knew where the public was coming from and had to run for re-election eventually, were already on our side, most of them. However, they had no authority to countermand a state directive.
Someone suggested, rightly, that we turn Hokem out at the next election. But that would be too late. The gays would be in the schools by then, and they’d go straight to court if a new governor moved to fire them.
I waited ‘til everyone had their say, then I got mine. “If we’re serious, there is a way to stop this, I think,” I said. “The schools need two things to operate: money and students. We can cut them off from both.” In war, a frequent route to victory is through the enemy’s logistics lines.
“How?” was the simultaneous question from a dozen different voices.
“By going on strike. Until the Governor’s order is rescinded, we will neither send our kids to public schools nor pay our property taxes,” I replied. The schools got most of their money from the local property tax, and tax bills were due soon. They’d be out of money in six weeks if a strike were widespread. That meant no pay for the teachers. We’d see whose side they were on once they had to choose between their ideology and their wallets.
People took a while to digest this. A voice finally said, “We’d be breaking the law.”
“That’s right,” I said. “It’s called civil disobedience. If you remember back to the civil rights movement, civil disobedience is something the liberals did a lot of.” At the moral level of war, it often disarms your enemy when you use his own tactics against him.
The chairman of the meeting, a local woman from a group called Fight for the Family, asked, “What do we do when they come to arrest us – and take our homes away for non-payment of taxes?”
“First, there’s strength in numbers,” I replied. “I think lots of State o’ Mainers are mad enough to join a strike. They can only arrest so many. They can’t go after half the population; they don’t have enough police, prosecutors or jail space, not to mention that they’d look like idiots.”
“Also, it takes time to seize someone’s house for not paying taxes,” I continued. “They have to give warnings, go through all kinds of legal procedures. We’d tie them up in their own knots, for once. And the schools would have dried up and blown away for lack of money by the time they got through all that.” War is a competition in time. If the enemy can’t react fast enough, his reaction does him no good.
I could tell the rest of the folks at the meeting liked the idea, the more they thought about it. So I sweetened the pill. “They may try to arrest a few people, to make examples of them and scare the rest,” I said. “So what we need are pledges to a strike fund. We’ll only ask for the money as we need it. We can build up pledges of a few million dollars, I’ll wager; plenty of people are mad enough to pledge. If they come after someone, the strike fund will give his family an income while he’s under arrest. It will also pay for his lawyer. If Hokem and his lackies see we’ve got millions of bucks to fight them with, they’ll be less eager to make any arrests.”
“If they do arrest us, we can turn that around on them.” I recognized the voice, though I couldn’t see the face from where I was in back. It was John Fitzgerald, a former Marine major who’d retired around Portland.
“Everyone who is arrested, for truancy or non-payment of taxes, should demand political prisoner status. If the state won’t grant it, then go on a hunger strike. If the person arrested can’t stand such a strike, one of us does it as a stand-in for them. At least half the Catholic priests in the state will volunteer for that duty, I can promise you.”
That was the kind of thinking I liked. I’d talk to John afterwards about the Christian Marines.
There was a good bit more discussion, but the momentum was our way. Finally Madam Chairman spoke. “It’s time for a vote. We can’t make a final decision here; we all need to go back to our people and get their reaction. But we need to decide if we’re in favor of it, ourselves. All in favor say ‘aye.'” The ayes were resounding.
“We meet again in one week. See if your folks are willing to go along. And we need them to sound out their neighbors. This will only work if we have numbers. This meeting is adjourned.”
The Christian Marines had done what we existed to do. We’d provided good advice. Now, we had to wait and see what would happen.
As always, the news of what the supposedly closed meeting had done leaked out. Because the media thought they had a “scoop,” they made the strike proposal their top story on every news program in the state.
The next day, school attendance was down 30%. That made the news too, which amplified the effect; the day after it was down 65%, then 85%. By the end of the week, the schools were empty.
A few towns had already sent out their property tax bills. Skowhegan was one. After a rally in front of the school, the folks there made a bonfire and burned the tax bills. That made good footage, which put it on the evening TV news all over the country.
In the small town of Waite, they didn’t. They didn’t have their tax bills yet, so they burned down the town hall instead.
At this point, it was clear the troops were out in front of their leaders. I realized that was a good thing. As long as everyone knows the objective, a unit on the attack does well if everyone advances as best he can. We didn’t want to rein our troops in; on the contrary, the challenge for the leaders was using the momentum to drive on even faster. So I called Mr. Kraft.
“How well do you know the lady who chaired the last meeting?” I asked.
“We have worked together before,” Kraft answered. “What would you like me to do?”
“Suggest she call a news conference tomorrow morning. At the news conference, she should announce a torchlight parade of all opponents to the governor’s plan in Augusta next Saturday night.”
“Why a torchlight parade?” Mr. Kraft asked.
“Because I don’t think the Governor will feel real comfortable about thousands of torches in the hands of our people in the state capital. Not after Waite. Most of those state office buildings are pretty flammable. Just to make sure Hokem gets the point, she should announce that the people of Waite have been invited to lead the parade.”
“Consider it done,” Mr. Kraft said. “I know the Fight for the Family people will love it.”
They did, and the news conference was big news the next day. By the end of that day, buses were being chartered and convoys organized all over the state.
One rule in war is to game the situation from the enemy ‘s standpoint. If I were Governor Hokem, what would I do? One thing, clearly, would be to mobilize the state police and the National Guard. That meant if Hokem tried to do so, and couldn’t, his situation would worsen. We’d be inside his cycle, as Colonel Boyd liked to say. And he’d start to come unglued.
I called Sam Briganti, who was a Christian Marine – a former intel Staff NCO – and a Maine State trooper.
“Sam,” I said, “I’ve got a mission for you. We need to box Hokem in, isolate him. I’m sure he’s going to turn to the State Police to protect his town from our march. I need you to prevent the cops from responding.”
“You’re right about the first part,” Sam replied. “All leaves have been canceled and we’re waiting for orders. It would really kick his ass if we didn’t turn up. I’ll have to think about how to do that – and not get caught.”
“Let me know if you can’t do it, or if you need help from any of the rest of us,” I replied. “Otherwise, I’ll trust you to make it happen.” Sam had a first-rate mind plus determination; I knew that was all the order he needed.
He didn’t fail us. The way he went about it showed a good understanding of war. Often, all it takes is some carefully injected ambiguity to force the enemy to abandon his plan. Sam put an anonymous message on the State Police online message board: “Blue flu Saturday.” He made sure a copy of it went to the Governor’s personal email.
Hokem knew what it meant. He emailed the head of the State Police. “Will your guys show Saturday or not?” he asked.
“You can always count on us, sir,” was the reply.
“How many of your men and women saw the ‘blue flu’ message?”
“Virtually all of them, sir. Every trooper has his own computer.”
“How many of them will go along with it?”
“We have no way of knowing, sir.”
“Then how can you say your cops will be there for me?”
“Because you can always count on us, sir.”
Hokem recognized an ass trying to cover itself. After all, he’d appointed the guy. A former Air Force general.
And we knew Hokem’s problem was growing, because we were also reading his email.
His back-up was the National Guard. But we had friends there too. The head of the unit in Bangor was one, so I went to see him and told him what we needed to do.
It seemed he’d already been giving thought to the problem. For some years, the Maine Guard had been trying to get the money for new trucks. They’d told the Governor the old ones just weren’t reliable any more. So who could he point the finger at if, at some critical moment, they just broke down?
His email went to every Guard unit in the state. “All, repeat all, trucks in 721st Engineers C-4. Impossible to meet any mobilization requirement. Please report status of your trucks.”
Mainers aren’t dummies, and I doubt there was a Guardsman in the state who wanted gays counseling his kids in elementary school. Suddenly, every National Guard truck in Maine just wouldn’t start. We made sure the Augusta newspaper heard of this interesting fact. The Governor read the paper.
At this point, the march was just three days away. Luckily for us, Hokem loved anything “high-tech.” His smartphone, which conveniently combined audio and video calling with all the privacy of a screen door, never left his sight. One of our guys was a former wirehead Master Sergeant who’d worked for the National Security Agency. It didn’t take him long before we were recording Hokem’s conversations and filming his meetings.
At precisely 2 PM, on October 3rd, 2020, Hokem convened his last staff meeting. He’d invited only his most trusted advisers, the people who had created him.
“Okay, guys, I’ve got just one question: how can you get me out of this one?” Hokem opened.
“At this point, frankly, I don’t know,” said his chief fundraiser. “Why in hell did you give that god-damned speech? It sounded like the most radical gay activist in the state wrote it for you.”
“That’s because the most radical gay activist in the state did write it for me. It came straight from Don Rexrod’s office.”
“Shit, he’s head of the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Even most of the other gays don’t like those perverts,” said Hokem’s chief of staff, “Ms.” Virginia Teitelbaum. “Boss, if you’re dancing to his tune, you’ve got to tell us why.”
“Because Don and the rest of the gays have me by the balls, that’s why,” Hokem said. “Well, not that way, but you know what I mean.”
“No, we don’t know what you mean,” said Teitelbaum. “We can’t help you unless you tell us what the real problem is. You know what you’re doing is political suicide. Exactly why have you gotten so far in bed with these people?”
“Now cut it out,” Hokem yelled. “I’m not in bed with any gays. I’m perfectly normal. I’ve got a family, after all. Hell, if I weren’t normal I probably wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“Come on, Snidely. We need to hear the whole story. Now.” The voice was that of Fred Farnsworth, the political boss who had found little Snidely Hokem years ago, working at his father’s town newspaper.
“OK, here it is,” Hokem said. “Years ago, back in the early 1990s when I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a bunch of us took a junket out to the Army’s training center at Ft. Irwin in the California desert. We figured that wouldn’t look like a junket to the folks back home, but the place was close to Vegas. We flew back each night to Caesar’s Palace, where we had the usual free suites. Anyway, a bunch of us got plastered at the bar and we spotted some really nice tail. I mean, they were gorgeous.”
“We figured, what the hell, we’re Senators, right? Who’s gonna make trouble for us? So we took them upstairs and started having some fun. Strangely, it was right where they held that Tailhook party.”
“I swear, none of us even suspected they were drag queens. By the time I figured out something was where it shouldn’t be, we were all in pretty deep. And the bitch, or whatever she, or he, was, was wired for sound. They had the whole goddamn thing on tape! The drag queens gave the tape to a bunch of gay political activists. So when our gay friends call, I listen,” Hokem concluded.
Now we had a tape of our own. By the next morning, it was all up on the internet.
With the governor’s office vacant and the ruling about the gay school counselors rescinded by a very nervous lieutenant governor, the torchlight parade was a festive occasion. During the parade, I spotted Mr. Kraft on a hotel balcony, wearing a smoking jacket and a fez, puffing on his pipe and quietly enjoying the spectacle. I looked him up shortly after the rally ended.
“Not a bad week’s work, if I do say so myself,” I opened.
“It’s a start,” he replied. By Maine standards, that was a high compliment.
“What do you think should be next on our agenda?” I asked.
“Understanding why we won,” he responded.
“Why did we win?” I inquired.
“Because we kept the fight within Maine. You call it ‘localizing the battlefield,’ I believe,” he said.
He was right on that. If the Feds had been involved, we would have been overpowered. They would have occupied Augusta with the 82nd Airborne. We wouldn’t have been able to get in the town.
“What can we do with that lesson?” I asked, continuing my game of 20 questions. It was a useful game if you were playing with someone who could think.
“The same group that started all this is meeting here this evening. They’re the folks you met with, when you came up with the battle plan that worked. Meet us here in my suite at ten o’clock and you’ll find out.”
I was there, and was somewhat surprised to find Mr. Kraft now chairing the meeting. It seems the rest of the folks had asked him to. They already knew what I was learning: in his Retroculture way, he was a first-rate strategist.
“Meeting is spelled ‘waste of time,’ in most cases,” he opened. “So we’ll keep this one short. We won this past week because the issue was decided by the people of Maine. If we can decide matters without Washington sticking its snout in, we’ll usually win.”
“There’s an idea I’d like to ask you to take back to your people, the folks in the groups you represent in this coalition. I call it the ‘Maine Idea.’ And it’s what I’ve just said. We want to decide matters for ourselves. We want to separate ourselves in every way we can from Washington and from the rest of the country. If they want to mess their lives up with all these modern notions, that’s up to them. But we want no part of it. We know the old ways were better, and we want to stick to them.”
“Our own government up here is rotten,” Mr. Kraft continued. “But we can do something about that. This business of putting gays in our elementary schools has awakened the people of this state. We can’t fix Washington. So the hell with Washington. The ‘Maine Idea’ is to shut Washington out.”
“How do we do that?” I asked. I liked the theory, but wondered how the mice could keep out an elephant.
“By being Moltkes, not Schlieffens,” he replied. “You understand what that means. Moltke did not try to foresee every event in a campaign and plan too much beforehand. He campaigned opportunistically. So must we.”
“The first step is to get the idea accepted. Ideas have consequences. When a majority of Mainers share the Maine Idea, opportunities will arise, as one did here in these past few weeks. I’m sure we will have some good Marine advice as to how to use those opportunities,” Mr. Kraft concluded.
When Kraft talked, other people listened. They would take the Maine Idea back to their members. And gradually, it would spread along our rocky shore and through our stone-fenced fields.
I waited until the others had filed out; I wanted to extend a private invitation to Mr. Kraft. “You know about our Christian Marine Corps,” I said. “You don’t have to be a former Marine to join. We’d like to have you. You’re general staff material if anyone up here is.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “You’re not the first person to think so. I am honored by the invitation. I have always thought well of Marines. I will be happy to work with the Christian Marines and assist you in any way I can. But I am not at liberty to join you. I wear a different uniform.”
I was intrigued by this answer, but Mr. Kraft’s tone did not suggest the subject was open for further discussion. So I thanked him for his offer of support, said we would be back to him for assistance, and bid him a good evening.
Which it certainly had been.