WHO SHALL THEY CROWN?

A King Brothers Dilemma, by Rich Paschall

The meeting of the secret Political Action Committee formed by the King Brothers was about to conclude and no one was happy.  Two years earlier they had planned to capture the Congress and then the Presidency.  As luck would have it, they also saw the possibility of controlling the Supreme Court as well.

“Just imagine it,” Chauncey King said to his brother before the meeting, “we could control all three branches of government.  If that old guy did not drop dead at our resort last month, he would have given us what we needed.”  They still hoped to delay the next justice until they could actually influence the appointment.

While the Political committee had done a great job in the off-year election, their negative messages were beginning to backfire.  Since they had been telling the public for years that the capitol was a problem and the President’s party had to go, people naturally began to hate the workings of the capitol politicians, including many of their special congressmen.

Worse yet, the few they felt they could support for President were well behind in the polls and dropping out one by one.  A rogue candidate, not of the regular party, was leading in the caucuses and primaries by using the very negative rhetoric the King Brothers had been trying to perfect.

Over the past years, as the economy improved, the King Brothers dispatched their favorite politicians and “news reporters” to claim that things were still bad.  When gas prices went down, they blamed the President for lack of oil exploration.  When the stock market improved, they claimed the business climate was bad.  There was no positive story that they could not spin in a negative fashion.  As the country got better, they convinced people through campaigns and political “reporting” that things were worse than ever.

Now an outsider was taking over the party, contrary to their original scheme.  It did not seem the King Brothers and their billionaire friends could buy him off.  They also could not find a candidate strong enough to overtake the front-runner.  This meant the good old boys at the meeting could not be convinced to get behind just one candidate.  They had a LOT of money to spend on the campaign, just where should they spend it?  No candidate delighted a majority of the committee.

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Wilford Washington Hotel

Rather than invite everyone back to a penthouse party as originally planned, the King Brothers said good night and headed  to their suite at the elegant Wilford Washington Hotel.  Others headed to their rooms or left for other accommodations in the nation’s capitol.  They were all in the top one per cent and could stay at the finest places.

Cal Rhodes, architect of the Congressional strategy just two years earlier, was pacing the penthouse floor when the King Brothers arrived.  The brothers could tell by his demeanor that Cal was not pleased.  They had seen this look after debates and primaries, so they knew things were not well.

When the campaign for President started, the boys felt they could manipulate a young Senator into place.  He was handsome and made a good first impression on people.  With some well placed ads, they thought he could charm his way to the top.  However, he could not stand up to the bombast of the front-runner and a few others and was forced to drop out when he got crushed in the primary of his home state.  Other candidates the brothers felt they wanted also dropped out, and they certainly did not like what was left at the top of the Leader Board.

The Final Rally

The Final Rally

“We might as well drink the Pierre Jouet,” Chauncey said of the wine that had been perfectly chilled while the meeting was taking place.  Derrick agreed and a servant, standing at the ready by the wine bucket, brought over two glasses.

“You should give Rhodes one too,” Derrick instructed.  “It looks like he needs it.”

Since the frontrunner of their party was not to their liking, Rhodes had developed a new strategy and the boys approved.  They dispatched the previous party candidate, as well as some well-chosen spokesmen, to go forth and try to prevent the leader from gaining enough delegates to win the nomination.

“A brokered convention will suit us well,” Derrick stated.  “We could even bring back one of the guys who has previously dropped out. We just need someone to sway opinion.  Truth doesn’t matter, you know, just victory.”  With that, they toasted and ordered another glass of the expensive French wine.

When Rhodes returned to the room after watching the latest speech of the front-runner and reading his tweets and social media proclamations, he stopped for more of the precious liquid from France.  He needed a large gulp before reporting the latest.

“So,” Chauncey started, “how does Mr. Bombast like our latest strategy?  Perhaps he sees we can deny him a first ballot victory at the convention.”

Rhodes looked rather pale and did not exactly know where to start.  “Well, it does not seem to bother him at all.  In fact, he told his supporters tonight that if he does not get a first ballot victory at the convention, he expects civil unrest not only outside the convention hall, but inside as well.”

Derrick set his drink down and stared at his brother for a long moment.  Their well crafted plan had blown away like a sand castle in a wind storm.  Finally he said, “Well Dr. Frankenstein, now what?”

Related: DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

THERE ARE SECRETS … AND THEN, THERE ARE SECRETS

A BIG SECRET. VERY BIG.

Yesterday, Donald Trump said he didn’t know who David Dukes (leading American white racist and general professional hater) is … OR … what the Ku Klux Klan, aka the KKK is about. For Trump, it’s a secret.

A secret? Really? Never heard of them?

He’s ready to deport every Muslim and Mexican person in the U.S. which is many millions of people, but he’s not clear on who those guys are in the white sheets? The very symbol of hatred and racism?

The lynchers and cross burners?

Never heard of them? It’s such a well kept secret? And Donald Trump, big bad billionaire — the guy who’s gonna “make America great again” — has never heard of them. Not sure if he wants their support.

Wow.

Let us, briefly, digress and define the word “secret” in case anyone in this audience isn’t clear on its meaning.

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So. Was information about the Klan kept from Trump? Another conspiracy perhaps? A cabal of astonishing proportions?

You think? Do you really think?

WHY TIME TRAVEL DOESN’T WORK – BY TOM CURLEY

A word from Marilyn:

I want to introduce you to one of Garry and my best friends. I would say oldest friends, but he’s not all that old. We have, however, been friends … forever? Since college, anyhow. We were at the radio station at Hofstra — back in those long ago days when we and the world were young and stupid. His lovely bride, Ellin, started writing for Serendipity a few months ago and I dragooned Tom into it too.

Tom’s a funny guy. Really. Funny. This piece is so on target for today, I just had to run it. Probably he would have liked to work on it some more, but … well … I pulled the trigger.

Say hi to Tom. (Hi Tom!)

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WHY TIME TRAVEL DOESN’T WORK – BY TOM CURLEY

So there I was. Thinking. Not quite awake. Not exactly asleep. You know. The funny place between.

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And it hit me. Fixing all this craziness is simple. The question is WWCKD? Or, to put simply, “WHAT WOULD CAPTAIN KIRK DO?” If you look at the problem like that, the answer is simple. Obvious.

Travel back in time to a point where you can change the present from happening. As any Star Trek fan knows, Kirk did it all the time.

Now that I had the solution, the question became a matter of coördinates. To when and where do I go back to fix this? And the answer came to me as if in a dream …

Go back to 1998. Convince President Clinton to stay the hell away from Monica Lewinsky. There would be no scandal, no impeachment. Bill could campaign for Al Gore — like he was supposed to — and George Bush would never get elected. Everything that happened after that would not happen!

Brilliant!

So as I was drifting off to sleep, I imagined finding a time machine. Going back to 1998. Actually getting an audience with Bill Clinton … in the Oval Office.

How do I do this? Who knows? I’ll let the writers will work out those plot points later. I’m more into the “Big Picture Stuff”.

But … this is also where the whole idea fell apart because the conversation would go like this:


President Clinton: “Well for some reason the writers haven’t figured out yet, I believe you are a time traveler from the future with important information for me.”

Me: “Yes Mr. President. You must not have an affair with your intern, Monica Lewinsky.”

President Clinton: “Whoa! How’d you know about that?”

Me: “I’m from the future, remember?”

President Clinton: “Oh yeah right. I guess that makes sense. So, why shouldn’t I do that?”

Me: “Because you will get caught. The public is going to find out about it. The Republicans are going to impeach you because of it.”

President Clinton: “Well, that’s not good.”

Me: “Don’t worry. You don’t get convicted. Your approval ratings go up to over 70%.”

President Clinton: “Well that’s good, right?”

Me: “Not really. Because when Al Gore runs for president, he won’t let you campaign for him. Or let you anywhere near him.”

President Clinton: “Really. Hmm. Who’s he running against?”

Me: “George W. Bush.”

President Clinton: “You gotta be kidding me!”

Me: “Nope. And even though Al runs a terrible campaign, he will only lose the election by 500 votes. Well, actually years later, when a full recount is done, it turns out Al actually won. But in 2000, the Supreme Court steps in and stops the recount. And appoints Bush as President.”

President Clinton: “I don’t think the Supreme Court can do that.”

Me: “Neither did anybody else. Until they did it. So George W. Bush becomes the president. One of the first things he does is ignore all the intelligence agencies warnings that Osama Bin Ladin is going to attack the US.

Because of this al-Qaeda hijacks four 747’s out of Logan in Boston — and La Guardia in New York … using nothing but box cutters as weapons. They crash two planes into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.

The Twin Towers are destroyed, thousands of people die. Now, even though all the hijackers are from Saudi Arabia — and Bin Laden is hiding in Afghanistan — Bush invades Iraq. Totally destabilizing the Middle East.

Wall Street creates a bubble based on the housing market and that causes a world-wide financial crash in 2008 in which trillions of dollars are lost, and millions of people around the world lose their jobs.

So in 2008 America elects a black guy — Barak Hussein Obama — as president, then in 2010 a bunch of billionaires help create something called the Tea Party. And the Republicans swing so far to the right, Barry Goldwater would be considered a Communist.

By 2016, which is what I call ‘the present,’ it seems pretty likely your wife is going to be running for President against … wait for it …

Donald Trump.”


At this point, the Secret Service enters the Oval Office and drags me away. As I’m being carried out, I see The Truth.

Wow. When you actually say all that out loud? I don’t believe it either.

Then I fell asleep.

1968 – WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

If you are American, my age or older and were living in the U.S., 1968 was a strange and terrible year.

The political climate today reminds of back then. 1968 was the year which saw the escalation of the Vietnam war and violent protests to that war.

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It was the year Eugene McCarthy won in the primaries, but couldn’t win the Democratic nomination. In the end, the nod went to Hubert Humphrey because it was also the year in which Lyndon Johnson said “I will not seek, nor will I accept my party’s nomination for President of the United States.” Which threw the election wide open.

A nearly forgotten Richard Nixon stepped out of the shadows and took center stage. Garry knew because Lyndon Johnson told him over a campfire in Vietnam. Read about it here.

Then Robert Kennedy threw his hat in the ring — but got it shot off by an assassin. Not before Martin Luther King was gunned down (two months earlier) in Tennessee. Across the nation, tanks rolled down streets. Machine guns were at the ready on the steps of the Capitol in DC.

That’s what happens when you stir the pot, add gobbets of hate and rage. If no one is willing to add civility or reason to the mix, when all politics is fueled by anger, stupidity, fear, and ignorance … you get 1968. And you get today.

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Most people don’t remember any of this. It happened before Gen X-ers or Millennials were born. Real history has been reduced to a footnote. We’ve erased our past, learned nothing.

1968 was the beginning of my slide from idealism to cynicism. A lot of people died. There were protests, riots, more deaths. The Chicago Democratic Convention — a police riot — didn’t even slow the process down. The war didn’t end. The best candidates never ran.

I remember the shock, horror, disbelief at the first Kennedy assassination in 1963. Then, before the pain of that loss was processed, the awful replay was Bobby’s death in 1968. I don’t remember how many assassinations occurred in those few years, but it seemed like it was on the news all the time. Death, more death, more hate.

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Eugene McCarthy was a hope born and dashed in less than a season. After all of the guts, guns, glory, and horror we got Richard Nixon as President. I didn’t think it could get worse. But it did. It has.

It is worse.

The Vietnam War rolled on. The protests didn’t end. The hatred built to a crescendo. Then, it was Watergate. The world spun crazily on its axis. I would never feel the same about our country or our political system.

When Clinton was elected, it was the first positive political event in my lifetime. When Obama was elected, we hoped for a brief shining moment that the world had truly changed. But all it seems to have done is bring the haters crawling out of the woodwork. Now, I don’t hope. I just fear.

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I see Bernie Sanders making promises he knows he can’t keep. I see Donald Trump spouting the kind of racist hatred I was sure I’d never have to listen to again, not to mention his proposals that are outright illegal … while the morons cheer for him.

Every pol is pushing a personal agenda without regard for how, in the end, we the people will pay the price for their egotism, their narcissistic determination to win at any price.

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Make no mistake. There’s nothing harmless about this. The spoilers and the haters are out to prove their point — no matter what. They are not our friends. They are killing us, eating our future in 10 second sound bites.

This is what happens to those who know no history. We are about to repeat the past, but it will be much worse this time.

POLITICS. BAH. HUMBUG.

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*EARWORM*

Garry and I had watched about 7 minutes of the final (?) Republican pre-nomination debate. We found ourselves engulfed … overwhelmed … by a sense of impending doom. Is it just us?

“Are these really the best and brightest the G.O.P. … the party of Lincoln … can proffer to the American people? This is it? As good as it gets?”

“And Trump … is he merely the worlds biggest asshole or is just playing a cruel game with us. Surely he can’t be that vain or that stupid,” added Garry.

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Robert Hanlon said that, I pointed out.

Garry nodded. I nodded back. There was no point in discussing it. We’d just get morose and depressed. Politics. Bah. Humbug.

THREE NO-TRUMP

I don’t know the name of all the candidates trying to run for president of the U.S. in 2016. I recognize some names. I even know what some of them are reputed to have said. But I haven’t been paying close attention. It’s early yet. I doubt any candidate has shown his or her true colors.

So far, they seem a rather sad lot. When the field thins out, I’ll get more serious. Politics is the grandest sport of all, and the U.S. Presidential election is the Olympic games of politics.

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Then, there’s The Donald. Trump.

He’s the top of the list of candidates who scares the daylights out of me. Not because he is outrageous or ridiculous, or is such a clown, but because he plays the fool so well. He has most people — including some opponents — believing his act.

It is an act. Trump is nobody’s fool.

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He’s a smart guy. Powerful. Rich. He is not owned by any party or lobby group. He plays by his own rules, whatever that means. Since he has never revealed the rules by which he plays. I’m not sure he has any. I know he wants power and I’m sure he’d be very happy to wield it. But what he believes in … if he believes in anything … is anybody’s guess.

No matter how hard you listen, he never says anything. At least not anything you can pin down. He deflects questions by saying outrageous — nonsensical — stuff. The press eats it up.

What a rich harvest for the media! A cornucopia of sound bites! A bonanza of headlines! Film at 11!

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Donald Trump is the jackpot for stand-up comedians, news departments, bloggers, and comedians. He knows it. Plays to it. As long as he keeps everyone talking about his latest gaffe, no one forces him to answer hard questions like “What do you stand for?” and “Why do you want to be president … really?” In this 10 second sound-bite world, he has mastered the art of giving them what they want.

If Trump didn’t exist, the media would have to invent him. I don’t think the American people are dumb enough to actually elect him … are we?

THAT BORING STUFF YOU IGNORED IN SCHOOL

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Back on Facebook, the site I love to hate. Someone who ought to know better is saying “Here’s a suggestion: To solve all our problems, we should call a general election and let the people decide what should be done. Let’s go back to running the government by the people! Sounds simple to me!”

And getting the response:  “What’s simple to us is hard for our elected officials!”

Your Vote Counts

It sounds moronic to me, but hey, what do I know? Because it’s not hard for our elected officials. It’s impossible and illegal for our officials — elected and otherwise. There is no such thing as a national general election other than the regularly scheduled ones in November.

Nor have we any mechanism to allow a plebiscite in which everyone gets to vote his or her opinion and The Government has to Abide by That Vote. How would that work, exactly? To which part of our legal system does this election belong? Judicial? Legislative? Executive?

I’m pretty sure — feel free to correct me if I’m wrong — we have to pass laws via the legislature. To change laws, we have to get rid of old laws via the judicial branch and/or enact new laws through Congress.

If you don’t like the bozos in congress, don’t vote for them. What? You didn’t vote? Well then. I guess you got what you deserve.

The executive branch (aka The President) can’t enact laws. He can use his influence to try to get Congress to create laws he likes. He can veto proposed laws although presidents do not use their veto much. It’s a thing. Oh, and congress can overturn a veto if enough members of congress can agree. Like that’s going to happen.

So — after we have this entirely illegal “public opinion election,” who will enforce “the will of the people”? The National Guard maybe? Guns and tanks in the street?

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Returning to Facebook, I post a little something. Because I love it when I absolutely, positively know no one is going to pay any attention to me. I say: “You can’t just ‘call an election’ in the U.S. We have scheduled elections. The Constitution specifies how and when elections will be held. You can vote down a government in England and in other parliamentary systems, but you cannot do it here.”

Everyone ignores me. Probably because I’m so smart.

So what can you do about all the stuff you don’t like? Between scheduled elections, you are free to gripe, whine, wail, argue, rant, piss and moan … but you can’t vote until the next scheduled election.

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It’s one of several fundamental differences between our form of government and parliamentary governments (most of the rest of the free world). Americans are always saying how superior our government is, yet they don’t seem to know how it works. Hmm.

I love it when folks call for an election to change something they don’t like. As if the United States has ever or could ever “just call an election” and “let the people decide.” Even in a parliamentary government — which is nominally more responsive to public opinion — you can’t just “call an election” anytime citizens are displeased with what’s going on.

Somewhere in every government throughout history a lot of citizens are/were/will be unhappy with whatever the government is or isn’t doing. If you had an election every time a bunch of people were mad at the government, we’d always be in the middle of an election. Wouldn’t that be fun!

You are not required to like what’s going on, but if you want to participate, you need a fundamental grasp of how your government works. The boring stuff you ignored learned in grammar school. Today, you’re all grown up. Your government may be boring, but it’s the only one you’ve got. I know. It’s not fair.

Feel free to ignore me. Everyone does. I should never read anything on Facebook. It just pisses me off.