Tuesday, June 26, 2007

10 Tammuz 5767: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:The robot cat has returned and brought today’s weird thing of the day. After it did that, it proceeded to cough up several items which look like steel-wool pads and then looked at me as if I was supposed to do something. I have decided to move.

Transformers: Identity Crisis

Week 6: Ironhide/Eisenhaut

Greetings, people of Earth.

New revelations have been made for the Optimus Prime spying incident by an anonymous former employee from the Groom Lake facility. Allegedly there was some kind of romantic relationship between Optimus and Marissa Faireborn, a former Air Force officer who worked at the facility and, “incidentally,” he may have been spying on. According to the published account, it was commonly known that the two were involved, with her often staying late and spending time alone with him in odd corners of the facility. She has been seen riding on his shoulder, even when on duty, and occasionally kissing him on the cheek. Faireborn told human friends that Optimus was “a sad, lonely robot” and that he desperately needed a friend. Indeed, she once confided that he told her that she made his “life worth living.” Something other than friendship is suggested by one event where the informant reported seeing Optimus standing by himself at night, making odd gestures as he looked at the sky. The Autobot’s body then opened up and Faireborn fell out, covered in nothing but a viscous liquid. Optimus was unaware this happened until Faireborn, recovering, screamed and took shelter behind his leg. Quickly putting up his battle mask, he threatened to run over the witness if the event was ever reported. The informant is now living under an assumed name, while Optimus and Faireborn have both refused to comment on the incident.

As has been noted before, the “Decepticon symbol” associated with “evil” Transformers actually indicates government service. While on Cybertron, the Autobots encountered many with such symbols when their activies passed from the offensive to the illegal. A large number of Autobots have been arrested and faced justice as intolerance has grown. The small group that came to your planet stole the spaceship they used, injuring several innocent bystanders to get to it. Bluestreak has revealed in interrogations that Earth was specifically targeted for colonization due to the presence of resources and intelligent life to dominate. The time it took to locate the thieves was considerable, but once found, the presence of an illegal colony on an inhabited planet was intolerable, and with the full approval of the Parliament, Prime Minister Shockwave quickly authorized the dispatch of the embassy-at-large spaceship to retrieve the Autobots. This is how there came to be a large alien spacecraft in international waters on Earth, commanded by Ambassador Megatron and with a police force headed by Constable Starscream. Being a specialist in alien languages, I, Soundwave, was recruited to take a sabbatical from my university position to be communicator with the humans and educate the ambassador and law-enforcement officers in the primary human languages. (My own alternate mode as a microcassette recorder is symbolic of my function, just as the ambassador’s as a Walther P38 pistol was meant to symbolize his authority; the latter choice has proven to be an awkward mistake.)

This would not be the first time that Ironhide and Starscream encountered each other. During the Maximal fundamentalist uprising on the first moon, Ironhide took several military deferments instead of fighting to defend freedom. Involving himself in government, he was given a “highly unsatisfactory” rating by the Center for Evidence-Based Policy and was eventually voted out of office. Shockwave, then the Minister of Education, openly criticized his “profound lack of compassion for others.” Ironhide then moved into the corporate world, where he helped supply a number of products to the Cybertonian military, albeit for an excessive price. During an investigation into government corruption (a far more serious crime on Cybertron than on Earth), Starscream was part of an investigative team that focused on Ironhide’s actions. They determined that Ironhide regularly engaged in highly profitable business deals with the Maximals which subverted the embargo against dictatorships, and Starscream set out to arrest him. According to Bluestreak, this was when an “inspiration” that Cybertron was irredeemably corrupt came to Ironhide, and he convinced a group of prominent Autobots they had to leave. The spaceship they stole, in fact, was a private yacht owned by the company he worked for. During the theft, Ironhide attempted to kill Starscream, who had stumbled into the crime while attempting to make an arrest; fortunately Starscream survived with only minor injuries, but those injuries prevented him from transforming and pursuing.

“High-tech circuitry is no replacement for guts.”

In the United States of America, Ironhide has kept a low profile. His first appearance there had him formatted as a plain red van, a form he has kept with only periodic updates to more current models of plain red vans; the Autobot symbol he wears (the informal requirement against Autobots spying on humans) is small and relatively difficult to distinguish from the rest of his shell. Although he has been sighted using parking spots for ordinary cars in Washington, DC, he is invariably accompanied by Secret Service agents. (The agents do not ride within him, of course; the arrangement of his anatomy would require the passenger to sit on his face.) He is also often at outdoor political events, sometimes even in his humanoid form, during which he rides on the “battle platform” that forms the back part of the van in vehicular mode. (This is actually a medical robot, much like the one Ratchet uses, there to maintain his poor functioning.)

Secret service agent accompanying Ironhide

Less publicized are his meetings with the current president, which go back to at least the administration of Gerald Ford and generally take place at Camp David. These meetings increased substantially during the administration of Jimmy Carter, in which it appears was the greatest support and buildup of Autobot infrastructure at the Groom Lake facility. Bluestreak suggested that Ironhide, in negotiating with Carter, obtained sympathy by claiming to be political refugees marooned on an alien planet. It was with this cooperation by the humans that the Autobot population began to increase so quickly.

During the administration of Ronald Reagan, the Autobots’ activities became more oriented towards the military as their use in the Cold War increased. By the time the embassy-at-large landed in international waters on Earth, the Cybertonian ambassador and deputies were already reformatted to function on Earth with both humanoid and vehicular modes. The first team sent out included Starscream with Deputies Thundercracker and Skywarp in the forms of F-15 fighter jets, accompanied by Deputy Carryon in the form of a DC-10 to contain the Autobots once arrested. The administration used the exposure of the Autobots as an excuse to increase military spending further. Given the apparent danger the “Decepticons” presented on size alone (the F-15-formatted “seeker” officers stand nearly 13 m [42 ft] tall in humanoid mode, much larger than most Autobots; even Optimus Prime is only about 10 m [33 ft] tall), Ironhide convinced Reagan that direct confrontations between humans and “Decepticons” should be avoided. When we are detected (which rarely occurs), we may be targeted by missiles or, less commonly, Autobot counterattacks; the latter generally requires presence of very large Autobots such as the Aerialbots, Broadside, or Powerglide, or skilled Generation Two warriors such as Arcee.  Thus humans are kept out of direct contact with us and fail to experience “Decepticon cruelty.” (He is also probably responsible for using humans as shields during attacks, which has lead to some unfortunate incidents.) Additionally, Ironside also falsely claimed that the “Decepticons” were working with the Soviets and that the “star wars” missile defense system was necessary to protect Earth from Unicron, a mythical planet-sized Transformer who eats planets. Many defense contractors were thus made very happy.

Among these defense contractors happened to be MARS, then run by “Jimmy” McCullen, still one of the largest suppliers for the United States. While participating in the Cold War arms race helped end the Soviet Union, the large boost in spending amounted to billions of dollars spent as the Pentagon purchased irrelevant weapons at inflated prices. MARS, being the official provider of the Autobots’ services, received additional payments, making McCullen’s personal fortune larger than that of many countries. Ironhide, having argued for these weapon purchases with your presidents, may be considered responsible.

Ironhide with James McMullen, XXIII and son at the latters’ estate

The United States is not the only customer for such advanced weapons systems. MARS sells to numerous organizations, both in and outside of governments. Among these is a private organization with aims similar to those of the Autobots, ultimately to control the planet. Although there is ample documentation that its members have committed numerous atrocities planetwide, including intimidation, suppression of personal rights, and murder, the United States has failed to disengage itself from MARS or even call this customer a terrorist organization as it properly should be. (This is despite the rumor that there is a “black ops” unit specifically to deal with these terrorists.) We believe that the need for weapons (or to transfer tax dollars to those who benefit from buying weapons) has outweighed the consideration that the United States is indirectly funding terrorists. It has been documented that Jimmy’s wife, Anastasia, is in fact a prominent member of this “Cobra” organization, and that funds from MARS have been “contributed” to its terrorist operations, including the murder of innocent Americans. On Cybertron it is considered illegal and immoral to fund organizations that are responsible, even indirectly, for murder. The United States, however, has refused to take any more than token efforts against Cobra for the sake of not upsetting their relationship with McCullen, a failure we cannot understand.

Ironhide is also responsible for shaping the popular image of the Autobots as both good and just. Although the cartoon series and comics were primarily ghost-written by Bumblebee, it was Ironhide who suggested the use of marketing to children and subsequently approved the toy releases during the 1980s. This image is far from the actual practices. Particularly divergent is the topic of “justice” between Autobots. Although it is normal for practices to be adopted from host cultures to Transformers (as we were designed to be ambassadors), the Autobots have limits to what they will tolerate. Aside from those who have surrendered to the Cybertonian Police, Autobots who get too “contaminated” often face swift and fatal results. A list of some known Autobots who have gone “too far”:
  • Beachcomber, who reported chemical and radioactive contamination of the Groom Lake facility to the Environmental Protection Agency and claimed that all Autobots had an equal place with other beings in the “great chain of life.”

  • Eject, who suggested their dispute with the “Decepticons” should be settled peacefully through competitive sports.

  • Hubcap, who suggested the Autobots had no special fate.

  • Pipes, who preferred the company of humans and attempted to abandon the Autobots.

  • Seaspray, who claimed to “feel at one with the planet” and wanted to protect it for everyone.

  • Skids, who openly said, “Deep down, we are more like than unlike humans.”

The executions of these Autobots have been swift, as was the destruction of the bodies, much to the chagrin of the United States government. Quite a few more have also been murdered for crossing the line and thinking themselves equals, including a few who were modified to look like humans so they might permanently escape. Brattiness and vanity are apparently more forgivable faults than advocating peace and equality. Each time it has been a grave decision, one which requiring the inner circle of the Generation Ones to meet. Although there are sometimes disagreements, they are ultimately settled by the decree of one: Ironhide.

An additional example of Ironhide’s “justice” is the exposure of Punch, an Autobot spy with the unusual feature of having two humanoid modes. In the second mode he wore the “Decepticon symbol” and posed as a deputy named “Counterpunch.” Using forged credentials, he attempted to infiltrate the Cybertonian embassy-at-large; we found him very useful for feeding misinformation to the Autobots for a period of several months. Punch had a romantic partner, Windcharger, who was critical of Ironhide’s leadership and assembled a committee to seek an alternative solution to “the Decepticon problem.” As you probably already know, a human reporter was informed of Punch’s status as a double agent, which not only ended his career, but also put him in mortal danger. The United States military interpreted his status as meaning he was a “Decepticon” and attempted to destroy him, and it was only the heroic action of the Stunticons (especially Deputy Wildrider) that saved him. According to Bluestreak, the leak was retaliation specifically ordered by Ironhide with the full knowledge and approval of the rest of the Autobot inner circle.

This, of course, is perfectly natural to the Autobots. He is the one who allegedly has the Matrix of Leadership, making him the most elite of the elite, he who knows the will of the god Primus. He is their leader, the one called the Autobot Commander.

In our next communication we will discuss Optimus Prime. Until then, we wish you well.

Soundwave, Cybertonian Communicator.
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