Warning: This is normally an apolitical place, where I write about fantasy inns, Greek gods, and things like mysterious stone tablets appearing out of nowhere. But the following is a ghost story with a political point, and if you wish to skip it, I totally understand. Personally, I’d love to go back to mostly ignoring politics, but currently, I feel a need to speak about…stuff.
Halloween of 2021 rolled around, and as usual, all the dead US presidents rose from their graves. This was meant as a final courtesy, a way for them to check on their legacies and provide guidance to the current president, should he need it. In the past, Washington had counseled Lincoln as the Confederacy had handed humiliating defeats to Union forces. John Quincy Adams had consoled Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression, and just about everyone had popped in with an encouraging word to FDR as World War II had raged.
But since then the country had mostly been at peace. Sure, Americans had fought smaller wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, but nothing had ever risen again to extreme crisis levels.
Because of this, the usual practice was that at the beginning of the evening, the former presidents gathered around and drew lots to see who would visit the White House, freeing up everyone else to go enjoy the holiday as they saw fit. As a practical consideration, only those of the same party as the sitting president were selected to officially visit. (It is a regrettable fact, however, that sometimes members of the opposite party chose to do a little unofficial haunting on the side.)
This year, though, due to the pandemic, three presidents volunteered for the official duty—Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman.
“Well, fewer people seem to be wearing masks this year,” Jackson said grudgingly. “Perhaps the disease has run its course.”
Cleveland snorted. “I hope so. So many people sitting at home, not working—that’s the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen, in life or death.”
Truman shook his head sadly. “Where is the courage needed to face the enemy—any enemy? I am unsure whether I could lead this nation to defeat even a third world dictator, let alone Hitler or Stalin.”
“That is true,” said Jackson, “although it gives me no pleasure to say it. Last year I checked all over Washington DC. Few patriots are left.”
“The strength of the nation was never in Washington,” Grover Cleveland declared. “We must seek it in the rest of the country.”
And so they did. They poked their insubstantial noses into high schools, malls, sporting events, and churches. They listened to parents out trick-or-treating with their children, to veterans gathered in dusty halls and bars, and to police and firemen. They noted the many people who were no longer working, not by choice, but because of decrees. They checked on Americans scattered across all fifty states, and the more they saw, the madder they got. They ended their tour at the White House, but nothing there diminished their ire.
“Don’t the people realize all this was outlawed at Nuremburg?” Truman shouted. “The mask mandates, the involuntary shots—everything we’re seeing is illegal!”
“Couldn’t you have done something about the FBI, Harry?” complained Cleveland. “They’re talking about investigating parents for speaking up at school board meetings! That’s a clear violation of the first amendment.”
“The southern border stands wide open,” Andy Jackson said. “No one even tries to stop the criminals flooding the country with drugs. Citizens near the border live in fear.”
“And all the while that pathetic man just sits there, as if the Americans left in Afghanistan no longer exist,” Harry fumed. “He left our people behind to suffer under a hostile regime, even though he held an overwhelming military advantage.”
“Then what shall we do?” asked Cleveland. “We need to speak with the words of the people. And we must do it loudly enough that the current…occupant will hear.” He couldn’t bring himself to call the man president.
“We heard only one rallying cry spoken again and again,” Jackson reminded them with an evil grin.
Cleveland frowned. “There were others.”
“But none shouted as forcefully,” said Give-them-hell Harry. “Even that one minister didn’t try to restrain his flock.”
“Good for him,” declared Andy. “Maybe there’s some spine left in America after all.”
Cleveland sighed but then said, “Very well. Are we all ready? One, two, three…”
Together, they all leaned forward and shouted at the forty-sixth president, “F— Joe Biden!”
If you’re still with me, I have a little more to say. We hear a lot from people on the right and left these days, so I thought I’d give you a perspective from someone who has considered herself a lifelong centrist.
Part of this, at least for me, isn’t a Pollyanna attitude of trying to see the best in everyone, but rather a default setting of extreme distrust regarding those in power. Or as I’ve heard one history teacher say, “If you blindly trust your government, then your history teacher hasn’t done their job.”
People in power often have reason to lie. I understand the whole national security/reasons of statecraft thing, but that’s a very slippery slope. And in my opinion, many recent presidents have slid down it gleefully, without any thought of consequences. Besides Biden, one of the most blatant recent offenders was a Republican, the one who saddled us with the so-called Patriot Act.
As a piece of supporting evidence, I have a song by Jackson Browne.
This song was released in 1986, so it was written for the Reagan/Bush administration, although to careful readers of history, it might be more accurate to call it the Bush/Reagan presidency. (By the way, this isn’t a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory, either–it’s well documented that Reagan was sliding into mental confusion during his second term, and that Nancy Reagan’s astrologer basically ran the White House appointment schedule. Don’t take my word for it, though–do your own research. I’ve read books and many articles on the era, but it’s always possible to miss something.)
I remember singing this song at the top of my lungs at a Jackson Browne concert nearly twenty years later, during the Iraq war, when it was even more relevant than when it was written. GW Bush was a scary president, the one who saddled us with the Orwellian-named Patriot Act. (Because who would oppose a law with that title?) The country basically handed him the keys to power, and he used it against us. Then he justified it with nonsense explanations that didn’t pass any symbolic logic test. One of his favorites was, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
We have NEVER gotten back many of the civil liberties abolished with that piece of evil, unconstitutional legislation. And it was overwhelmingly bipartisan, with many of those who voted for it still in office. Biden bragged that he wrote parts of it. Mitch McConnell, a senate Republican, wanted to extend its provisions. It was only through the sheer stubbornness of Rand Paul (ironically, the other Republican senator from Kentucky) that some of its provisions expired. For a list of all who voted for and against, you can visit this site: https://educate-yourself.org/cn/patriotact20012006senatevote.shtml.
I used to like it that the presidency swung back and forth between Democrats and Republicans–I saw it as another check on political power. If one side screwed up too much, well, the other was always waiting in the wings. And they had the recent example of what happened when our rulers strayed too far from the wishes of the people as an object lesson.
But I’m not sure that’s much of a safeguard anymore. Recall what happened just recently at the 9/11 anniversary: an aging Dubya was trotted out on stage. First Bush issued a call for unity, and then he warned that domestic terrorists pose just as big a threat as foreign agents!
Right–so let’s break that down. GW is saying that the January 6th protestors, who killed nobody and many of whom have been held without bail for months for the crime of trespassing (!), are just as big a threat as the Taliban, who slew just shy of three thousand people on September 11, 2001.
But according to Biden, who seems to be using the same logic playbook as Bush, Jr., the Taliban are our friends now. (Remember Jackson Browne asking who we call our friends, when they kill their own people?) Sure, they’re our friends–even though they’re hunting down Americans and killing them, too. But we don’t talk about that, or at least the official media doesn’t.
Carter had the decency to call the Americans held in Iran hostages, and the whole nation prayed for them. He kept a counter running of how many days their captivity lasted, even though that could hardly have benefitted him politically. Contrast his behavior to Biden’s. Or GW’s.
And then ask yourself if it matters that one of them calls himself a Democrat and the other a Republican.
It scares me witless that Jackson Browne’s lyrics are looking like they fit the times yet again.
Americans, we are being played. We’re being systematically lied to by members of both parties. And we need to wake up, or our “betters” will try to lock us all in our houses, too, just like they did in Australia. Then they’ll let us out only if we can show that we’ve complied with their mandates forbidden by an international court in Nuremburg. For those who don’t recall, that court was convened so that the atrocities committed by actual Hitler-obeying Nazis would never be repeated again.
In the immortal words of Mark Twain:
So this is my plea, dear countrymen (and women). Every single time you have the chance to vote–please do so. And when you do, consider voting out (almost) every single incumbent. Approach it with the attitude that they’ve been paid enough of our money already, and have we gotten much real value for it? Have you ever heard them lie to you? How much money have they made over the course of their political career? Do their current assets reasonably reflect their salary, or do they own way more real estate than can be explained by their years of living on the government payroll?
Do this every single time. The years when we could just vote GOP or Dem because that’s how our family voted are over. We need to vote every incumbent out, with only maybe a few exceptions.
One of their favorite tactics to avoid this is to divide us, even as they speak about unity. This is deliberate. Students of history can easily recognize the same moves leading up to the the Civil War.
The above is a pre-Civil War political cartoon, and it’s one of many that used this kind of ugly illustration. Note the simian features of both the black man and the Irishman. As a student of history, I can tell you they relentlessly pitted the Irish and blacks against each other–because God help them if the working classes combined to bring their “betters” down. Then the jig really would have been up. It wasn’t until Teddy Roosevelt in the next century that the people found a champion to break the power of the corporations–and the government officials in bed with them. That took over forty years.
I don’t think we can afford to wait that long this time. We may not have anything left that we recognize as our country if we do.
Please, don’t let them divide us. We need to take back our country–now, before it’s too late.