Showing how the international situation distracts from the strike.










The city was in complete and utter disarray. Women had stopped warming beds, women had stopped warming meals, women had even stopped going to work. And in other parts of the country, things weren't much better.

The international situation too had temporarily become more desperate than usual, at least according to the President's aides, and this overly desperate situation demanded immediate action. It was at this stage of near-total chaos that a daring strategy was put into effect.

"You don't want to end up like the peanut farmer," the President's aides told him.

Ending up like the peanut farmer was the last thing in the world the President wanted to do, but he really didn't think there was much danger of that. He disliked the suggestion that it was even possible. This president was completely different from the peanut farmer. This president was a bit paranoid, and he reacted much more quickly to anything even remotely resembling a threat than the peanut farmer had ever done. In his hesitancy, the peanut farmer had betrayed a basic trust in his fellow man, not a positive quality in a president. A president must display strength, swiftness of action and intolerance of any insult, real or imagined, to the glory that is the United States of America and the values it holds dear. That is the recipe for a successful president.

The movie star, as opposed to the peanut farmer, was a successful president. He was stern and swift and intolerant. But he was facing a Crisis. Terrorism was on the rise and women were up in arms. Swiftness of action would definitely be called for.

"We have to teach the terrorists a lesson," the President's aides told him. "Besides, we could use a drastic action to divert attention from those female subversives."

"Women just aren't what they used to be," the President lamented nostalgically. If he'd had his way, the fifties never would have ended. As it was, he was doing his best to reinstate them.

"No, that they aren't, sir," one of his aides agreed.

"So what are we going to do about them?" the President asked.

"The women, sir?" the confused aide asked.

"No, the terrorists," the President corrected him patiently. Sometimes his aides could be incredibly dim-witted.

The aides decided the time would never be better to suggest the action they'd had up their sleeves for a while now.

"We could give that Gaddafi a scare."

The President was immediately enthusiastic. "Wonderful idea! How?"

"We could bomb Tripoli for starters."

The president agreed.

So the President, in his infinite wisdom, listened to his advisors and got revenge for a sergeant in a disco, effectively diverting attention from the potentially revolutionary goings-on in the water-logged state bordering on his own beloved California at the same time.

The American public loved the air raid. It was a tremendous victory. One of the world's mightiest countries sent thirty-two bombers to destroy numerous targets in a small, unprepared country with not even twice the population of Oregon, and the little country was cowed.

The American public does not care for either soggy cornflakes or wimpy presidents, and this president at least had proven he did not belong in the second category. Trigger-happy paranoia is profoundly anchored in the tradition of America, where all men have the right to bear arms, and the NRA refuses to ban the sale of assault weapons.

The protesters were not happy. The protesters did not support superpowers bombing pretentious little African dictators, even if the dictator himself openly supported terrorists. But it was like squashing a spider, and the protesters saw nothing heroic in that.

So the women took to the streets again, joined by more men this time, and protested violence on a larger scale than just personal relationships. They comforted themselves that there was more than just a tenuous connection between intersexual squabbles and large-scale retaliatory actions, especially when one side was obviously the underdog in size and strength. The women's cause was not abandoned, just temporarily sidetracked.

National coverage came and went, and the strike was eclipsed by war games, the all-American need to get even.

But not for long.