The latest poll conducted by Bugby International, the Cadillac of political pulse-takers, shows that Ab Ennis (deceased), candidate for president of the United States of America, has maneuvered himself and his running mate on the Dead Rights Ticket, Orville Slack the Youngest (also deceased), into a highly competitive position for the next week's free-for-all.
While his rivals have been unable to move decisively ahead, reports Bugby, Mr. Ennis has gained 100%, with a margin of error of +/- .4%. What we of the Kachina Round Table find interesting is that Small Southwestern City, in which we meet as occasion demands, leads the nation in Ennis’s rapid climb.
Some analysts have pointed out that these astounding numbers can be accounted for by the “fact” that the original Bugby poll, taken online, showed that there were a mere six voters who intended to vote for Ennis and Slack, and that the Hôtel Adios bar in which these six are wont to hang out has become the main target group for the Dead Rights campaign. Twice six is twelve, or, put differently, a 100% gain amounts to a mere six converts to the tenets of the Dead Rights Party. The implication is that regular imbibers of potent potables are easily persuaded.
We find this explanation cynical in the extreme. I know for a fact that my tee-totaling mother, who resides in Somewhere, Kansas with her pet parrot, plans to vote for the Ennis/Slack duo. Her reasoning? She has always had a keen interest in politics, has never missed a vote, is approaching the cremation stage of life, and is intrigued by the Dead Rights’ innovative platform. Her sole reservation is that my father, already deceased and well-urned, would also, under the Constitutional Amendment Ennis and Company are planning, be eligible for suffrage. Their future votes, she fears, would cancel each other out.
Food for thought.
It is a truth occasionally acknowledged, that it is incumbent on every candidate running for the second-highest office in the free world to skirt the question of his or her religious beliefs.
To this tradition I adhere—up to a point. My own position is that a candidate must both (1) come clean on the question of which religions he or she does not endorse and (2) give subtle hints about his or her own religious beliefs.
I swear to God, if there is such a being, that I am not an Islamic terrorist. Nor am I a Christian pacifist, or a Jewish socialist. When I lived in dire circumstances back in my father’s decrepit shack, I admit that I held low-level talks with an itinerant Buddhist nun who had gotten off at the wrong station back in Panhandle County. One morning before breakfast she taught me the first steps of meditation, which consisted mostly of sitting on a rough surface with my legs crossed in an uncomfortable position that led to excruciating pain. From that point on, I was never tempted to achieve Nirvana, if there is such a thing. As for any ties to Hinduism, all I can report is that I once read a book on Indian philosophy and became thoroughly confused. In my admittedly amateur view, they give you just too many damn options, none of which are spelled out clearly. And I’ve never cottoned to primitive religions, even though their medicine men are supposed to be capable of doing hundreds of tricks. As an accomplished beg-off artist, I always figured I can match them trick for trick.
Now for the subtle hints. I believe from the bottom of my feet that there is quite probably a God, maybe even more than one, though I wouldn’t want to put a number on it. I also sincerely believe that God, or his possible competitors, wants America to succeed. He or She is on our side—except, of course, on those rare occasions when we are in the wrong, in which case He or She sends a natural disaster our way as a gentle reminder. I firmly believe in the power of prayer, and if that doesn’t work, you should be allowed to cheat a little on the side and/or take the law into your own hands.
Finally, I stand in admiration of my friend and colleague Talia la Musa, who has joined a variety of religions, sects, and cults, and who it can now be revealed is thinking of starting a few of her own. Despite the fact that I have not signed, nor will I sign, on the dotted line of any of them, I would be the first to champion her right to get them going despite what many of my more orthodox friends say about some of her so-called “nutty ideas.” In fact, I think she should be named Secretary of Religion in the first Ab Ennis administration. She is a charming, charismatic lady who speaks the truth as she sees it, except when she is in tongue-in-cheek mode.
We at the Myles Junior Think Tank are never surprised by energy blackouts, whether they appear in New York, California, or the vast prairies of Canada. In fact, we are near completion of our study of the problem of the world’s inadequate power supplies.
Here, in a word, is our long-range plan for solving this nettlesome difficulty: lunar power.
Solar power has, of course, received a great deal of attention by other seers and think tanks. It has had modest success, beginning with the powering of tiny student-made autos from coast to coast and, more recently, large solar farms sitting in the southwestern desert.
Though in principle solar power is the definitive solution, far outstripping its major competitor, wind-generated electricity (nobody minds having the sun around, but most of us would take to the streets to protest the construction of a huge windmill in our own back yards), there is, sadly, only one sun, which shines on any given spot on earth less than fifty percent of the time. Given the nature of things, it cannot be expected to provide energy (1) all of the time and (2) in sufficient quantities for our growing energy needs.
In proposing lunar power as the solution, we are not so simple as to believe that the present moon, as constituted, has not carried its fair share of the energy burden. What we propose is a change in the moon itself.
Inspired by the example of the artist Christo (1935- ), who has draped Australia’s coast, a Colorado valley, two California counties, several Florida islands, and Berlin’s Reichstag, in fashionable cloth, we are suggesting that the moon—or at least that part of it that faces the earth—be wrapped in tinfoil. Thus the rays of the sun that hit the moon would be reflected onto the earth, increasing our solar power by as much as ten percent.
A quick phone call to our colleagues at NASA confirmed our surmise that this project is feasible within two years, given adequate federal funding; moreover, the folks there agreed that this plan seems to be an efficient, environmentally responsible use of the discarded tinfoil that presently litters our garbage dumps. However, they pointed out that the moon goes through phases. In the jargon of the energy industry, it does not always run at full capacity.
After this conversation, we at MJTT repaired to the drawing boards and, working feverishly yet coolly, came up with what we dare say is a brilliant reformulation of our theory. Is there any reason or intergalactic law to prevent us from borrowing a moon or two from our more plentifully endowed fellow planet, Jupiter?
To our knowledge, there is none. In fact, there is a precedent for just such action. Astronomers now believe it likely that eons ago, Neptune snatched its renowned moon Triton from empty space.
Another quick phone call to the folks at NASA again bore fruit. They referred us to their co-workers at the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), who were near-ecstatic about this general schema and, after only a moment’s hesitation, promised to come up with the technology for sending a space vehicle to the far side of Io and pushing it out of its orbit around Jupiter and into an orbit around us, this in such a way that when our native unnamed moon is in its new phase, Io will be in full mode, and vice versa.
The rest would be easy. After plastering our borrowed moon with used tinfoil, we would, by our mutual rough calculation, have enough energy to last the entire earth for the remainder of this century. This would provide humankind with plenty of time to filch at least half of Jupiter’s remaining moons.
Scoffers will undoubtedly scorn this plan on the grounds that it would deprive us of night and thus of romance. But let it never be said that we at MJTT are behind the curve. Research assistants at the University of Alaska have verified our guess that the mating habits of moose, elk, and caribou are not affected by the long summer days in that part of the world. We have every reason to believe that this behavior will be replicated among humans.
If this surmise proves to be erroneous, the problem of unmanageable population growth will be resolved, and with it, that of insufficient energy.
Most vice presidential candidates don’t have a great record of accomplishment. I am proud to announce that in this regard, I belong in that admirable group.
Back in Panhandle County, I was approached on numerous occasions to run for office on the Beg-Off ticket. Using my celebrated skills, however, I was able to avoid public service. I am proud to announce that I followed the first rule for all doctors: I did no harm. Nothing that went wrong was my fault. Thus I have no need of excuses.
My critics will say, of course, that back in Panhandle County nothing went on. They will argue that if nothing went on, nothing could go wrong.
I refuse to quibble with my esteemed competitors on this point. I will say, though, that something did go on back in Panhandle County. We had our share of snake-oil salesmen, as they were called in those days. And they were active.
I am also proud as can be that I not only resisted the temptations to join those snake-oilers, I also fought them. Not, however, in the tooth-and-nail tradition. My method was subtler. I followed the tradition of my great-grandfather, Orville Slack I, of my grandfather, Orville Slack II, and of my deceased father, Orville Slack III, by learning the tricks of the beg-off trade. As a matter of fact, I am proud to remind folks that I lifted that tradition to the highest pitch.
It was this skill that emptied the churches of a Sunday morning and brought the parishioners of various denominational persuasions to my front porch, where I held forth on the evils of the snake-oil trade and did case-by-case analyses of the tricks of battling that evil vocation. This is how I made my good-got gains. Not that I made a pile: a hat on the floor can hold only so many nickels, dimes, and an occasional quarter, and I stood well within the law by owning a single hat. I still own that hat, which, like its peers, was of the ten-gallon variety.
I was poor, of course. In fact, I was tempted to hold midweek services to keep the books balanced. But seldom did I yield to that temptation. Once or twice a month, yes. Every week, no. And I did it as a public service.
The story goes that the so-called converts to my cause made periodic attempts to nominate me for sainthood. I must point out that they never succeeded. One excuse for overlooking my good works was that I was under-qualified. By this I mean that I was not a Catholic. I considered joining that denomination, but then I discovered that many Catholics attend their masses on Sunday, which was my work day. Ergo, I desisted, in deference to their piety and the good works they presumably performed. I knew Latin—that was not the problem, as my opponents have taken to say in their slanderous, snake-oil ways. I also knew logic.
“Ergo” is a Latin word. I can use it in a sentence without screwing up. Therefore, I know Latin. Also, French.
The Dead Rights Party (DRiP) is on the move. Recent positive articles in the Yreka Post-Whatever (California), the Rifle Monthly (Colorado), the Baggs Globe (Wyoming), the East Chatham Chatter (New York), the Nome Post-Dispatch (Alaska), and Madcap Magazine are beginning to raise the consciousness of the average voter about our alternative to the Democratic Party and the GOP.
Not that the bionic urn has captured the imagination of the public. A recent Bugby poll shows that 38% of those phoned were able to recognize the donkey as the symbol of the Democratic Party; 39% the elephant, of the GOP; and <1% and change the bionic urn, of the DRiP.
Clearly, our campaign is in stealth mode but ready to drop bombs.
The next step in any campaign, before the nominating convention, is the creation of a platform. The DRiP is no exception. The Platform Committee, under the able leadership of Myles na Gopaleen, Jr., is pleased to announce the publication of its findings by Eleven Speed Press.
Herewith is a succinct summary of the five (5) major planks in the DRiP’s platform.
1. Naturally, the issue of voting and other rights for deceased Americans enjoys pride of place. It is the raison d’être of the DRiP’s existence.
2. Logically, the DRiP concludes that, since parrots have cognitive abilities, American parrots over the age of 18 should also be granted equal rights.
3. Concerning the War on Terrorism, the DRiP vows to convert Islamic State operatives, here and abroad, to Evangelical Christianity.
4. As for the economy, the DRiP promises to add 20 million high-paying government jobs in the first year of its tenure, with preference being given to newly-enfranchised, newly-robotized dead Americans and parrots with an IQ of 85 and below.
5. Regarding the Vietnam War, the DRiP proposes a new law requiring all textbooks to obliterate any mention of said war from their pages. Moreover, no mention or hint of this controversial event in American history should be allowed in any newspaper, talk show, magazine, or campaign speech. The rationale for the DRiP position is that this non-war was started by the French.
A must read for every American, living, dead, or inhabiting the body of a literate parrot, none of whom can be, on Election Day, under the age of 18.
In considering the continuing but now sadly neglected problem of ozone-layer depletion, we at the Myles na Gopaleen Jr. Think Tank (MJTT) were influenced, indeed inspired, by the theory, positively confirmed by the EPA, of the causal relation between the belching of bovine ruminants and the alarming growth of methane in the atmosphere. Plainly put, methane emissions from livestock such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and caribou now account for upwards of fifteen percent (15%) of the annual anthropogenic methane emissions. This fact, of course, has profound implications for the global environment. Other think tanks have been pondering this problem; one of them has concluded that the rational and necessary solution would be to declare all livestock, beginning with the ordinary cow, as mad, then do the reasonable thing and simply slaughter them—except, of course, for the caribou of Alaska, whose breeding and calving grounds are considered sacred by various tribes of the environmentalist persuasion. It cannot be denied that there are political problems with this solution. India, with its veneration of the cow, comes to mind. But this political quandary might possibly be solved, in the view of the MJTT, by a trade-off allowing the caribou of India to be declared “mad” and the cows of Alaska to be viewed as merely “potentially hazardous to the future of the planet.”
But the MJTT is not an advocacy group. We are resolute in our determination to stand above the fray, to discover the truth by constructing theories and, where possible, checking them out but, where not possible, suggesting ways in which other non-advocacy groups (NAGs) might confirm or disconfirm our hypotheses. Only then do we make suggestions for fixing the world for future generations of rocks, vegetables, and animals, including humans.
The theory of livestock methane emissions, now firmly established, stands, as I said, as the inspiration and source for our hypothesis. Frankly stated, we are now in the position of opining that the hole in the ozone layer above the continent of Antarctica is caused, primarily if not totally, by the excessive droppings of the penguins in and around the McMurdo Station located on or near the Ross Ice Shelf.
Our reasoning begins with the logical argument that, if the belching of cows and other ruminating creatures possessing as many as four stomachs can cause upwards of 15% of all anthropogenic methane emissions, thus causing irreversible damage to the global environment, what is to prevent the conclusion that the droppings of penguins causes the irreversible depletion of the ozone layer on which the planet’s future depends? Simple reflection on this proposition leads to the twin questions: (1) where within human ken is the ozone layer in the most dangerous process of irreversible depletion? And (2) what species dominates the landscape of that place? To our knowledge, there are only two answers: (1) Antarctica and (2) the penguin.
It is not an easy matter, reading books and running for president at the same time. Nor is it a simple thing to read a book and, at the same time, be president. Nor, for that matter, is it a trivial affair, the act of reading books. This is not to say that running for president is a romp through the park, though the degree of difficulty differs from case to case, and I am thinking here of the difference between the candidacy of a robust woman of 60 and that of a dead man who is urn-bound, supported only by a robotic apparatus and provided with audio equipment and a pair of ocular implants and nourished by an occasional teaspoon of rotgot spiced with anise oil.
[Editor’s note: Mr. Ennis neglects to mention that his “robotic apparatus” is clothed with a shirt, a tie, a suit, and shoes and socks, all of which were donated to his campaign by a local used-clothing store from their holdings in the Children’s Clothing Department. The American flag he displays on his lapel was donated by the Veterans of Long-ago Wars in preparation for a speech he presented before them at their recent national convention while standing behind an impressive lectern festooned with a red, white, and blue banner.]
All this is by way of explaining that I will diverge from my common practice of writing fancy drivel. Instead, I will review an oldie but shorty from BBC News, “Parrot’s oratory stuns scientists.”
This article, by the BBC News Online environment correspondent, bears the startling news that a captive African grey parrot named N’kisi possessed a vocabulary of 950 words, had a sense of humor, invented his own words and phrases, was able to keep his tenses straight, and could even read the mind of his keeper, whose name was never mentioned but on further investigation turned out to be somebody sporting the upmarket moniker of Ms. Aimee Morgana. That same investigation reveals that the African grey has the life expectancy of an average American.
Examples of this four-year-old prodigy’s sayings:
To Dr. Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee expert: “Got a chimp?”
On seeing a fellow parrot hanging upside down: “You got to put this bird on the camera.”
On seeing a picture of a man with a telephone: “What ya doing on the phone?”
On seeing a picture of a couple embracing: “Can I give you a hug?”
This astounding work on the verbal SAT scores of parrots raises, of course, the question of animal rights. Taken to its logical end, it leads us to conclude that parrots should be granted the right to vote. Or, to put the matter more carefully, it leads this candidate for President of the United States to promise that if elected, he will do everything in his power to see that a Constitutional Amendment be passed to enable American parrots over the age of 18 to exercise their rights to charge the ballot box and peck out a preference for president.
It is necessary and proper for every candidate for the second highest office in the land we U.S. patriots call America the Beautiful to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about his or her whereabouts during the Vietnam War.
I was born on the Fourth of July. Let nobody, man, woman, or child, take that distinction away from me. I am, by definition, a patriot. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on that date, in 1826, and neither has ever had aspersions cast on his patriotism to this beloved country. The fact that I was born on that date while my august predecessors died on that date is quite beside the point. What is not beside the point is that I died on that same uniquely American holiday, as attested by my good friend and companion, Miss Molly Golightly.
As for my war record, what must be kept in mind is that I was born in the Year of Our Lord 1910. When World War I broke out, I was a mere lad of four and thus ineligible for the draft, which if I recall was introduced in 1916, but check that out. I would have served despite my ineligibility, but for the fact that the shack in which I lived back in Panhandle County had no mailbox. This explains why I did not know there was a war going on. Neither did we have a telephone. We were too poor to afford one and besides, the wires in our county had not yet been strung. Also, I don’t recall that the radio had been invented. Even if it had, we wouldn’t have had one because many in my family thought of this newfangled device as the work of the devil and besides, we couldn’t afford one.
On the day that shall live in infamy, December 7, 1941, I immediately took off for the Naval Recruiting Office with the full intent of signing on for a four-year stint. I was 31 years old at the time and fit as a fiddle, except for the fact that, in my medical examination, the attending nurse discovered several slivers in my buttocks, probably from overuse of the rocking chair in my newly-purchased bungalow while advising neighbors on the art of begging off. I also did not know how to swim, having lived in near-desert conditions for my entire life.
I don’t remember anything about the Korean War. The day before it started I fell off my rocking chair and suffered a severe, lengthy concussion. I have the scars to prove it—or, more precisely, I had those scars until the day of my cremation, which I will never forget.
During the Vietnam War, which I supported to the very end, I begged my draft board to draft me despite my age. The chairman of the board listened intently to my pleas, and in the end, advised me that he would put me on the list. Disheartened by the length of the list, I began a correspondence course in needlework, offered by Panhandle Junior College. I duly reported this academic work to the draft board and was dismayed when they granted me a student deferment. Disillusioned by this turn of events, when the needlework course was ended I signed up for a course in shoeing horses and received another student deferment. So disgusted by this action was I that I joined a student protest group. To this day I can recall the message on the needlepointed banner I carried as I was riding my newly-shod horse, Buck: “Let Us Old Guys Fight the Bastards!”
I remember the line of my hero, Nathan Hale: “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” To this noble, patriotic sentiment I would only add, “If they’d only let me give it.”
In my winter visit to New Hampshire, I am proud to announce, I withstood the Arctic breezes more confidently than did my many competitors for the position of POTUS. In fact, I believe I can say that I stood out from them all with my striking display of courage and aplomb.
For this I am grateful to my friend and technical advisor Myles na Gopaleen, Jr., who, through his Myles Junior Think Tank Cremation Service (MJTTCM), is responsible for having fitted my ashes with a top-of-the-line robotic apparatus (TOTLRAx1a) that is designed to make its occupant feel comfortable whatever the climatic circumstance.
The MJTTCM model TOTLRAx1a is customized to fit the whims and wishes of the aspiring candidate, provided that he or she or it is either a card-carrying member of the Dead Rights Party (DRiP) or a bona fide fellow-traveler.
It was, I believe, the apparent calm of my thus-ensconced demeanor that inspired my growing band of media types to probe my position on the issue of the century, that of global warming, a.k.a. climate change.
With the advice of my campaign manager, Arthur Unknown, I approached this issue from my privileged perspective as a dead man walking and talking.
“In the middle-distant future,” I announced through my megaphone, “this will not be a problem.”
I paused, to good effect and to let the writing portion of the media scribble down my immortal words.
“The reason, if I may say so, is simple.”
When the aforementioned band were done nodding their thoughtful heads, I continued:
“When we have all become dead, cremated, and fitted with even the most modest model of the MJTTCM’s robotic apparatus, a.k.a. RA, we as Americans will, as my own sturdy, courageous, and aplomb demeanor amply demonstrates, reveals, bespeaks, indicates, signifies, displays, exhibits, or otherwise shows, will face this impending set of horrific events with the equanimity for which our forefathers, foremothers, foreuncles, foreaunts, and forecousins became famous the world over. Next question. John, I see your hand through the growing blizzard.”
John Agon, one of my sturdiest media antagonists, asked a question that was lost in the frigid, swift-moving air.
“I agree completely,” said I, “with this proviso,” which I then spelled out in detail through my beaver hide mittens.
When I had finished, I looked around and saw, through my acrylic ocular implants, that my audience had taken my leave in favor of the cozy pot-bellied stoves for which New Hampshire villages are justly celebrated.
Next morning, the local newspaper led with the headline: “AB ENNIS PREDICTS: IN THE LONG RUN, WE’LL ALL BE DEAD.”
It is a universal truth, acknowledged by a vanishing generation, that there is nothing like a good, solid liberal arts education.
It is equally true, as a hefty minority has learned, that the best place to pick up such an education is in the serene safety of a bar. And knowledgeable aficionados of such establishments agree that a Western bar is more than the equivalent of any Ivy League university, especially where the basics of debate and public speaking are concerned.
I speak as an authority on bars.
The first one I entered, at the age of 22, was in Kiev, South Russia. I was making my escape from the czar, via the underground railroad, and heading for America. That specific bar, I believe by informed hearsay, was typical of Russian bars. Men of all ages sat around in a pose that could be mistaken for meditation, drinking vodka while staring into space. The word that comes to mind is “stupor.”
German bars have a charm of their own. The decibel level in, say, a Bavarian establishment is an indication of stout, healthy intellect at work. But if I recall, back in 1905 you could not emerge from a bar with your head held high unless you knew your Hegel and Marx. In a pinch, an acquaintance with the works of Dostoevsky would keep you in the game.
English and Irish pubs need no comment.
I sailed directly from Hamburg to New York, the bars of which have an excellent reputation for the drink-think-talk combination. As I recall, a slight knowledge of English—say, an ability to use the words betokening agreement or disagreement, would go a long way toward maintaining a reputation as a person with an active mind.
But your Western bar? It beats all. Only in such a place as the Hôtel Adios Watering Hole can you find an elderly, robotic gentleman carrying a briefcase in which is stashed the first draft of a manuscript concerning the history of the dead rights movement. The working title of this 70-page would-be tome is The History of Dead Rights.
I did not have the opportunity to read that manuscript with the care it deserved. In fact, if memory serves and the truth be known, I did not have the opportunity to read anything but the beer-stained cover page. What I did have the opportunity to do was hear the gentleman—his name escapes me—hold forth on the contents of the manuscript he was peddling about to agents and a large smattering of pretenders to that trade.
His main point was that dead rights, especially the right of an ex-American to vote, is not a new thing. It has a long tradition, beginning with the era of city bosses and rising to its highest peak in the 1960 election, in which the mayor of Chicago, Hizzoner Richard J. Daley, extended the franchise to dead Democrats, thus helping to create the Camelot from which America has never recovered.
A must-read book. In fact, I recall having composed a note to myself to read it before I placed my candidacy for the position of President of the United States before the American people, ex-people, and age-enfranchised talking parrots.