Playing with Mirrors

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Expat, May 9, 2017.

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  1. Threadmarks: Story Post XXXV: End of the Egyptian Civil War

    Expat Monthly Donor

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    #35

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    2009

    Rice University (Go Owls). The Bush Institute for Public Policy presents a lecture: Egypt in Transition.

    “The Egyptian Civil War would not officially end until mid-1984. After an initial period of heavy conflict lasting approximately ten weeks, things cooled down to something like an armed and sporadically violent negotiation.

    “At first Sadat’s plan was to wait the rebels out, trusting that their supplies would rapidly dwindle and the enemy would simply capitulate. But Ghazala’s alignment with Libya dashed those hopes. While he didn’t technically join the Soviet sphere, he welcomed support from Gaddafi as a brother Arab against Sadat, whom he cast as an appeaser of the imperialists and a friend to Israel.

    “While the Egyptian people were dubious about their Libyan neighbors at the best of times, Ghazala’s rhetoric struck home for many. Civil unrest increased, even as the military conflict began to calm down. This forced Sadat to step up his support for the National Unity Movement, made up of secularists and moderate Islamists seeking to establish a representative democracy.

    “NUM marches were encouraged, and the entity became a conduit for both domestic and international aid. This more than anything else soothed the populace in Sadat’s territory. Sadat went so far as to form an electoral reform commission made up of NUM representatives and foreign observers, though he stipulated that no action on this front would be permitted while the internal security of Egypt was threatened.

    “The two sides in the conflict reached out peace feelers as early as August of 1982. Permanent negotiations began in December of that year and would remain in session throughout the conflict, even as both sides conducted raids on each other and jockeyed for position. Both sides balked at the prospect of having foreign fighters on their soil, seeing it as a threat to their post-war legitimacy. And so the fighting dragged on, an almost wholly Egyptian affair.

    “Which isn’t to say that the international community was entirely kept out. The US and NATO heavily patrolled the Eastern Mediterranean. Libyans established training camps in the Western Desert, ostensibly to reinforce Ghazala but mostly used to train independent Jihadis. The Jihadis, while largely Egyptian, were increasingly international, and became the main anti-government fighting force in the south of Egypt after Ghazala’s forces surrendered Aswan.

    “All in all, the strategic situation only slightly favored Sadat, and the stalemate might have continued indefinitely were it not for the inherent weakness of Ghazala’s leadership. Ghazala himself had never served on the front lines in the October War, something he saw at the time and later as a political move to keep him from winning any laurels and becoming a threat to Sadat. As he moved closer to Libya and began to outright damn Sadat’s leadership, he made more and more elaborate criticisms of the conduct of the October War and the treacherous peace that followed.

    “However, many in his camp were of course veterans of the conflict, and didn’t take kindly to having their service dragged through the mud. They certainly hadn’t gotten into this conflict out of any personal loyalty to Ghazala; he was simply a senior official willing to serve as their face.

    “Ghazala’s ousting was a relatively well-managed affair, as far as coups go. A purge of about 200 loyalists was quietly carried out in March of 1983, at which point we can assume (but cannot confirm) that he agreed to step down. His responsibilities were incrementally reduced, and by September he was living in Tripoli, serving as little more than a mouthpiece for the rebellion.

    “But removing one piece from the cabal of rebelling officers proved too much for the shaky coalition. The end phase of the Civil War, beginning roughly in February of 1984 saw the rebels splinter into factions that spent more time fighting each other than Sadat’s forces.

    “Sadat finally took the offensive, and the mopping up was completed by June. Several thousand rebels took refuge in Libya and were folded (often uncomfortably) into the ranks of the Jihadis. Tens of thousands more were detained by the Egyptian government. Sadat began a systematic purge of the military, neutering its ability to exercise political power, setting up a legal framework to maintain absolute civilian control over the armed forces, and granting additional powers to the national gendarmerie to make them the sole provider of domestic protection to the Egyptian people.

    “But now he also found himself in a trap of his own making: the people were clamoring for elections.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  2. Expat Monthly Donor

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    After all the compliments about clever ways of conveying information, I thought I'd do the opposite and dump some text on you. No, I really do beg your indulgence, I just didn't have time to prep this one properly and it was kind of a loose end that needed tying up before we move into US election season.

    On the housekeeping front, I am fairly certain I can get my requisite two posts out next week, but the week after is looking dicey. Real Life intervenes sometimes, you know how it is. So if you don't hear from me by Monday just assume that I've been black-boxed by the government until I give them the codes. I usually crack with 5-6 days, so things should be back to normal before the end of the month.
     
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  3. Expat Monthly Donor

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    :eek:
    Krikey.

    TFW you're talking to your stepfather (ex Special Forces but he never volunteers much about it, except that one story he likes to tell about the time he ate five steaks in a day after spending eight months in the [DIFFICULT TERRAIN TYPE] of [COUNTRY WHERE WE PROBABLY WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO HAVE ANY TROOPS]) and you're telling him about your timeline and how the Middle East section really all boils down to Sadat surviving and he goes, "Yeah, that was a rough day." And you go, "Oh...yeah? Oh did you meet him in Bright Star?" "Well yeah, but I mean I was there." "What do you mean you were there?" "I mean you see the end of the bar?" (We're in a bar in this story.) "I was that close when it happened." And then you don't really know what to say so you say, "Oh fuck." And he says, "Yeah." And then you just keep drinking.

    Not exactly a source I can tap; not going to pry into things he doesn't want to talk about. So don't expect any rewrites. Just...damn, is all.
     
  4. Unknown Member

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    BTW, Lemon Popsicle (the whole series; there were eight total films, IIRC), also has a good soundtrack of 1950s and early 1960s hits; some of them are on YouTube, for those who are interested (IIRC, it was inspired by American Graffiti)...
     
  5. Threadmarks: US State of Affairs by 1984

    Expat Monthly Donor

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    The state of affairs in the US going into the 1984 election season

    I felt the need to do a summary post as we approach 1984. It's canon, so I'll threadmark it, but it's not really a story post. Also might be a good time to ask any questions you've been holding back, assuming I'd get to them in a post at some point. If I haven't gotten to it by now, it's not coming, so ask away!


    The US economy remains shaky. The recovery has reached those most in need, and government policy has seen the back of inflation and stabilized prices for consumer goods and commodities. In the lofty salons of high finance, the picture is less rosy. The monied classes are in a worried mood; investor confidence is low, the national outlook and political situation leading to a very (small-c) conservative brand of decision-making.

    What’s more, there are signs of trouble in the ark of the middle-class: homeownership. Mortgages are less generous these days, housing markets varying wildly from place to place. Many homeowners aren’t seeing the kind of appreciation of their primary asset that their parents or even older siblings saw. Average savings are on the rise as many put aside the prospect of buying a first home or moving out of a starter for at least a few more years.

    Societally, changing living patterns are spooking people. Old voting patterns are losing coherence, while new coalitions are as yet embryonic. While those keyed to take advantage of these changes are doing very well- from first-time homeowners to minorities to more generally those living in cities and small towns- those caught out in the cold are starting to feel bitter.

    Public unrest is on the rise. This can be seen most notably on the right, where social and economic resentment seems to increase by the day. Attacks against government officials in rural areas have slowly grown commonplace. Teenage and early adult delinquency built around so-called “Identitarian” clubs is being called an epidemic in the press. And everywhere there are marches and rallies by hard-right religious groups, anti-integrationists, and those left out of the nation’s weak recovery.

    Counteracting the rise of the Angry Right, a new centrist coalition is emerging around the Republican Party. This is made up of old liberal elites (who have come to almost fetishize what they would term their own rationality in the wake of Watergate), white collar workers, wealthier minorities, and a healthy slice of moderating Christian Evangelicals and their mainline Protestant and Catholic counterparts. The Republicans have not shaken their conservative wing entirely, though even these politicians feel the pressure to moderate their tone or to find at least one issue where they can cast themselves as a “maverick.”

    Action has been slower on the left, but their influence has seen an uptick in the Democratic Party. Given the somewhat lower threshold for participation in a three-party system than a two-party system, progressives and even outright leftists have begun to organize. They saw moderate electoral gains by 1982 and are hoping to make a concerted push in 1984. But factionalism, lack of a unifying vision, and resistance from the Democratic Party establishment continues to hamper those efforts.

    Legislatively, the early days of grand bargains and bonhomie have given way to a much more granular, transactional kind of politics. Beyond the substantial legislative packages of 1981, no attempts at sweeping changes have proven successful in congress.

    That’s not to say the chambers are deadlocked, merely that the leadership- more like a committee than ever- seeks to keep necessary bills as “clean” and simple as possible, while midwifing a few ad-hoc chimeras chock-full of penny-ante amendments fostered by cobbled together coalitions intent on mutual back-scratching. The chambers have learned to devote more time to the budget reconciliation process than they used to, as more and more this is seen as the prime chance for politicians to provide for their constituents.

    Meanwhile, the president has learned to govern by executive order. After failing to achieve major legislative progress to promote his new Civil Rights agenda, he finely diced the proposals into amendatory chum and had them scattered through several dozen different bills on a rolling basis. In the meantime, he's used the executive authority of the Justice, Treasury, Labor, and HUD Departments to enforce the most thorough desegregation effort the nation had ever seen.

    The reputation of the Anderson administration is decidedly mixed. His brand of sober professionalism has won him a lot of credit with the press and a claim to represent something like Nixon's old "Silent Majority." Certainly no one would say he isn’t a competent manager. He’s given credit for stabilizing the economy, though people are starting to note that there’s a difference between stable and growing. High unemployment and under-employment are growing concerns.

    Many trumpet his wide-ranging detente with the Soviets. But some believe he’s gone too far. Hawks say he gives up too much for each victory. Latin America is stabilized, but Cuba’s role there is legitimized and put on something like an equal footing with the US. An Israeli-Palestinian peace deal has finally been reached, but at the cost of Soviet dominance across the upper Middle East, from Lebanon to Iran. The Soviets are at the nuclear negotiating table, but only after the US slashed its defense budget, hobbling the military. There are counterarguments to all of these, of course, but this is how the president is attacked.

    And then there is Anderson’s social policy. While integration in schools and housing has been rolled out as smoothly as possible, the backlash was always a certainty. So far legislative pushback at the state level has been hampered by the fact that the efforts are being led by the ACP. Those anti-integration laws that have been enacted have found themselves struck down in court for the time being.

    But while the legislative channel is dry, the court of public opinion is overflowing with negative sentiment. It’s estimated that as many as one in five white voters is ready to make opposition to integration their sole litmus test for the 1984 election. Almost half of whites hold a negative opinion of the process.

    The general mood at the start of presidential primary season is one of uncertainty. It’s felt that in a two-way race, Anderson would be toast. In a three-way race he could be walking on air. Different pundits try out different predictions. Some think he’s primed to be everyone’s second choice and thus miss the mark. Some think pragmatism will dominate in the voting booth and he’ll be the swing voter's least of three evils. Some gleefully predict a chaotic non-result thrown to Congress.

    Much will depend on who his opponents are.
     
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  6. DTF955Baseballfan 12-time All-Star in some TL

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    It sounds like in this timeline the Equal Access Bill of 1984 will still be enacted, allowing Christian clubs to form in schools when other clubs exist if the clubs are totally student lad and student initiated. It would be a good way for Anderson's Republicans to work with those Christians who remain with them, which seemed to be quite a few.

    I remember at the national novel writing month board in the reference desk forum, someone asked what the best thing to do to make the world better if going back in time to 1977. That was one thing I suggested, along with some others to help Carter, give him some allies among conservatives so he can win in 1980 and be a moderating force.
     
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  7. Expat Monthly Donor

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    A certain amount of moral majoritarianism does remain in the Republican Party even as other conservative ideas flee to the ACP. Student-led clubs are certainly a good example of a policy even a rapidly moderating GOP would be very much okay with. Support for alternative religious education is even popular, as long as it still meets the president's integration guidelines. The "converted" Jerry Falwell is the perfect adviser for a Department of Education looking to craft regulations against using religious schools as a dodge for integration. He's sort of the Frank Abagnale of...that.

    And of course a majority of the GOP is still at least somewhat opposed to abortion. The "somewhat" column is growing while the "totally" column is shrinking, but it's an issue of (relatively) diminished salience at the moment.

    Really it's the Evangelical movement picking up on changing national priorities that's responsible for a lot of the shift in ideology. More emphasis on charity and forgiveness has led to some schisms in congregations and these changing voting patterns. Here's where things stand going into 1984: The ACP have locked down about 40% of the Evangelical vote. Republicans have about 20% and Democrats have about 20%. The remaining 20% has yet to make up its mind. Most of that 20% is trying to decide between the Republicans and the Conservatives.
     
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  8. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Interesting TL. Just read through it. Let's see where it goes.
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Story Post XXXVI: 1984 Republican Nomination

    Expat Monthly Donor

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    #36

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    Fall, 1983

    Bob Dole’s chief aid knows his boss wouldn’t want to have this conversation on the Hill. He's asked the senator to join him for a walk instead. The trees are lovely this year.

    “Senator, we can do this.”

    “No, Walt.”

    “Anderson is weak where we’re strong. We could beat him.”

    “And he’s strong where we’re weak. It’s not in the cards.”

    “The party has gone off the rails.”

    “The whole damn country’s gone off the rails, is what it is, Walt. Anderson’s not at fault.”

    “If you were to run, the Conservatives would follow you back home. We could end this whole mess.”

    “They made their bed, let ‘em lie in it.”

    “Even if it’s bad for the country?”

    “People like that don’t deserve to be in power. Normalizing that kind of behavior would be worse for the country than a few years of chaos. Besides, I’ve come to appreciate the market approach to some of his methods. He's really something of a stealth-capitalist, you know.”

    “Capitalist?! Where in god’s name do you see capitalism in this mess? Education, housing, the environment...these are the largest scale social experiments seen since FDR.”

    “FDR created layer upon layer of new bureaucracy. Anderson’s found a way to let the market talk. Look at what he’s done: there’s an evil in society; you put a dollar value on it. If people want to pay, you let them pay, they keep living how they want to live. Then you use that money to try to fix the evil another way. People willingly funding simple, streamlined, and usually state-run rather than federal programs to fix things. Less federal bureaucracy, more of the market talking and people listening. I’m starting to think the man is some species of genius.”

    “He’s ruining the party! We’re nowhere close to where we want to be, sir. Federal spending is at an all-time high-”

    “And every dollar paid for. The deficit is down.”

    “Only because we failed on tax relief.”

    “We gutted the code and put it back together again; you helped as much as any aid in the Senate. They weren't my kind of reforms, I'll admit, but I can see the result. We're revitalizing small town America, for god's sake. And don’t forget this president has simplified the tax code to a level not seen in decades. Loopholes closed by the dozen, everything clean and clear.”

    “So we’re in favor of taxes now?”

    He sighs. “No, Walt, I’m just playing devil’s advocate. We might rail against tax rates, but the new structure is doing what it's supposed to do. We might rail against increased social spending, but Anderson’s found the money in the budget and improved a lot of lives along the way. We can’t beat him with the base, anymore. Not in the primaries. Not with the conservatives voting elsewhere and Professor Harold Hill / George Christopher turning the whole party on its side. But even beyond that, you’re asking me to do something I could never do. I will not betray this president.”

    ----

    Late summer, 1984

    CBS Evening News.

    “Welcome back to our coverage of the 1984 Republican National Convention. It’s been an interesting week here in Dallas so far, almost like seeing a new Republican Party emerge for the first time. One of our correspondents likened the experience to watching the opening credits of the Six Million Dollar Man.

    “In many ways, the convention is trying to tell the country a story; a story of a party that lost its way, took some desperate shocks, and has emerged, within the context of the Anderson presidency, humble and ready to serve, in the process of proving their trustworthiness to the American people.

    “But it’s a story of a party remaking itself in another way. Between the Conservative defections in 1980, the election whirlwind of 1982 that saw so many incumbents lose their seats, and more than three years of the liberal Chairman George Christopher managing the national party, this is a Republican Party that looks and talks very differently from that of just a few short years ago. The new center of gravity is squarely in the middle of the political spectrum, with an increasingly anemic conservative wing remaining.

    “A CBS poll of the delegates finds that fully one-third joined the party since 1978, when many political scientists say that leftward drift of the past 20 years began to really pick up steam. And one in four delegates admitted to having previously voted outside the party at least once in the last ten years.

    “One thing’s for certain: if the president is going to win in November, he’s going to need those moderates who crossed party lines to join him as members of the new GOP.

    “We’ll be back with more coverage, including tonight’s keynote address, right after these messages.”
     
  10. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    Outstanding work as always. One minor nitpick from the prior chapter: the settlement between Egypt and Israel was after the Yom Kippur War, not the Six Day War.
     
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  11. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Oh fiddlesticks. Thanks for catching that it’s updated you’re gorgeous don’t ever change.
     
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  12. mymatedave10 Well-Known Member

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    Something just occurred to me, with all the changes to culture and politics, I would be interested in what Roger Ailes is doing if you haven't mentioned it already. He was already influential with Nixon and I wouldn't be surprised if he got involved with the ACP.
     
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  13. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Definitely someone I've been taking a look at, but you're right he hasn't made an appearance yet. I think you've probably called it, but I did hold him back while I ruminated on where exactly to put him. Let's pull back the curtain on the development process here for a second...

    Your instincts are good- he'd be happy as a pig in slop with the ACP, winging insane ideas at the ceiling and watching every one stick because there's no real constraints to consider anymore when you're with the bande à part.

    But then there's also that Houdini instinct- what's the point if it's not difficult? I'm not a deep scholar of him, but from interviews and the research I've done, I sense a classic media man's indifference to actual policy, and a relative indifference to ideology. Sticking with the Republican team (like Rove) presents all sorts of interesting challenges to a man like Ailes.

    One other thing: now that I've pulled the trigger on Clinton in the GOP, wouldn't you (in a sick, car-wreck-watching way) love to see what he and Ailes could get up to together?

    So yeah, at the crossroads on that one.
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Story Post XXXVII: 1984 Democratic Nomination

    Expat Monthly Donor

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    #37


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    Spring, 1984

    Orville Maddox is talking to himself.

    “Okay...I’ve got it. Lamm. No! Askew. Okay I like Askew on civil rights- but if that’s most important why not just vote for Jackson? No, Jackson’s too vague on too many things. Nader, then? He seems to know everything, and the kids love him. But then he’s too far to the left. I mean I’m okay with some good old FDR Oakie-aid, but sometimes these guys just need to know when to say when. So Lamm, then? Lamm’s solid on the environment. Really good on Labor. And I like what he has to say about the economy. Sweeney’s also good there, on labor. But then he’s got the same problem as Jackson; too one-note. So who’s left? Glenn? I don’t think I know a single thing he stands for.”

    “Orville! You’ve been in there for 25 minutes! What are you doing!”

    “I’ll be right out, Gladys!”

    “Your vote is not going to decide the election, just pick one and come out of there! Or would you rather walk to Denny’s?”

    “It’s a big decision, Gladys!”

    “Oh for god’s sake, Orville Maddox, just pick Glenn like I did and finish up, I’m telling you your vote doesn't matter!”

    The chief precinct operator approaches.

    “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the polling place.”

    “Don’t you take that tone with me, young man!”

    “You’re causing a disruption.”

    “I pay your salary!”

    “We’re all volunteers here, ma’am.”

    “Volunteer as public servants and this is how you serve the public, by attacking an old lady?”

    “Ma’am no one’s- okay. I see your husband has left the booth.”

    “I accidentally marked two. Could I have a new ballot.”

    “Orville Maddox! Wait, Jesse, is that you?”

    Jesse lives two doors down from Orville and Gladys.

    “Hi, Gladys. ‘Scuse me, I’m going to vote now.”

    “Jesse, will you give Orville a ride to the restaurant after you’re done? I can’t be in the same room with him right now, he’s got me so worked up.”

    “Sure thing, Gladys, I’ll take care of him.”

    “Bless you, son. Orville! Did you hear that, Jesse’s going to take you to the restaurant, IF you ever finish solving the grand issues of the day. I’m getting out of here before this pipsqueak dictator calls the sheriff on me.”

    “Ma’am, that’s uncalled for.”

    “Okay, Gladys, order me a Grand Slam! Now, let’s see….Lamm! No, wait…hmm…”

    ----

    Late summer, 1984

    CBS Evening News.

    “...Okay I think we’ve got him now. He’s only a few hundred feet away, but things are so chaotic down on the floor just now I’m not sure...okay, John, how are things down on the ground?”

    “Well Dan, I don’t think it’s as bad as ‘68, but that’s about all that can be said for it. I know that was a memorable night for you-”

    “Yeah,I’d rather not think about that, John.”

    “Well slightly controlled chaos is what comes to mind. We still have no idea who the vice presidential nominee is going to be. The balloting is set to begin shortly and the consensus, if you can call it that, seems to be that there is no consensus. The factions have ceased to negotiate, and it looks like this will come down to the rules of elimination balloting. If that’s the case, we might be able to give a slight edge to someone like John Glenn, who appears to be objectionable to the least number of people.”

    “We’ve heard up here that Governor Culver refused the nomination.”

    “We’ve heard that, too, Dan. Another item recently confirmed, the Nader, Jackson, and Sweeney delegates have agreed to act together. They don’t have enough to sway the contest, but in a close fight they could end up with the balance of power. I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen a more dedicated group of partisans than the left wing of the party here tonight, and throughout the campaign, really. They fought like wildcats from the first minute they got to the convention.”

    “They’re largely responsible for the democratic reforms agreed upon for the next election, is that correct?”

    “Well they’re certainly taking credit for them, Dan. Honestly, at this rate, we may have to wait until the end of the convention to get the whole story.”

    “And there’s still no word from Governor Lamm?”

    “No, Dan, not since the governor has released a statement stating that, given his own very narrow victory in securing the presidential nomination, he wanted to make sure the delegates did not feel this was a ticket forced upon them by one segment of the party.”

    “Well there you have it from the floor here in Pittsburgh. Tom, any thoughts on the political implications of this kind of half-brokered convention?”

    “Well Dan, I think obviously the chaos isn’t a good image for them to be projecting just now. Conventional wisdom held that the Democrats had a significant advantage coming into this election. The president’s term has been divisive; it’s seen probably more social change and indeed physical change to the country- in terms of where and how people are living, the types of jobs people are doing, the ways people save and spend money and go to school. People tend to react against any kind of change, and the Democrats certainly had a major opening, especially considering many pundits thought the Republicans would suffer more from the Conservative defections than the Democrats would. That hasn’t proven to be the case, both parties took a serious hit, and the Republicans were able to recover from it in a quicker, more organized fashion than the Democrats, and they’ve been able to poach a lot of moderate votes from the Democrats themselves.”

    “It sounds like you’re ready to call this one.”

    “It’s certainly more of an uphill battle for the Democrats than one would’ve expected if one were sitting comfortably back in 1981. But they do have a good chance. They have a built-in historical advantage when it comes to the electoral college, and after tonight if they can project a unified message and fire up their base, they could easily pull off a win in a divided field.”

    “More from the Democratic National Convention in Pittsburgh, after these messages.”
     
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  15. Expat Monthly Donor

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    So! I've been working 12-hour days this week and I'm feeling kinda like my brain and body are a train and I'm hacking off pieces to throw into the boiler. BUT! I see that the Turtledoves are open! So I wanted to throw some read meat to the voting public and also to make some recommendations. Yes, I would love your vote for best Cold War-->Contemporary TL. And It'd be a real kick to put Hashim in the running for best character.

    But that said, I think it would be a shame if you didn't throw your support behind the completely-beyond-it-all McGoverning, which you can vote for here.

    Are there rules against campaigning? Lord, I hope not. I'll also be voting for Twists & Turns back on my own poll (and it's a great system- you can vote for EVERYONE!) which I've been stalking for a couple weeks trying to catch up on before I join the conversation.

    And honestly the rest I mostly just haven't checked out yet and will get to that when the room stops spinning.

    I...would give further opinions, but seriously folks I'm pouring my last forty into the gas tank just to make it up the mountain, two sips for the car, one sip for me; it's not a healthy situation. I'm going to crash.

    Happy voting!
     
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  16. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Go car go!

    First, you're very, very kind to mention McGoverning, especially as a self-respecting author (as you deserve to be!) with skin in the game yourself. I can say the same for Playing with Mirrors (and indeed Twists & Turns for that matter.) It is good-hearted and gracious and really, folks, give this outstanding TL some love while you're at it.

    In particular let me return the favor at least a little by giving a loud and proud endorsement for Hashim (for Al and Hashim even though the Mods That Be are pernickety about having conjoined characters we all know it's for both of them, LABELS CANNOT CONTAIN OUR HOMIES) for Best Character. Those guys are an ever-present ray of sunshine in my allohistorical day, I know they are for all the dedicated fans of this TL. Indeed the richly characterized people (and snappy dialogue) are one (two?) of Playing with Mirrors' very best qualities. Thanks so much for bringing them to us. And get some rest! 4-5 twelves suuuuucks. I've done that in at least one of my past lives, very glad to not be doing it now. That you've also churned out stuff this good during that time gets some kind of iron-man award. Just getting behind the eight-ball on a big project deadline at work has slowed down a whole chapter of my own yet here you are kickin' it with content. This is impressive, people. Let's give that some love.

    (Also I don't think I've said, but I loved the anecdote about your stepdad and Sadat. You need to get that guy around some of his old buddies "spinning dits" as the Brits say.)
     
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  17. Zek Sora hi

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    the worst managed and yet richest city
    I just read through this whole TL—fantastic work! I love how you've taken the standard post-WWII political TL in a new and interesting direction:)
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Story Post XXXVIII: 1984 Conservative Nomination

    Expat Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #38

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    Early 1984

    “I don’t want that embarrassment of a revival tent scam artist on the ticket. Do something about it.”

    He’d taken no official role in the Conservative Party. He wasn’t on any committee or panel, he ran for no office, he even continued to endorse right-wing Democrats and Republicans through the National Review.

    And yet here he was, at once both the secret master of a political movement and its public face, a known quantity whose power had unknown parameters. An enigma: Madame Defarge knitting in the corner, Vito Corleone with his cat, a divine-right king of ultimate power and a kitchen effigy out of ancient Rome, all symbol and implied meaning, the eye passing him by without even noting his presence. He was underlord and overlord all at once and more slippery than either.

    In a den of vipers as thick as the American Conservative Party, where loyalty was a currency backed with pewter and fear, how did this man- who officially sought no power- wield so much of it? Beyond the unhelpful but obvious reply, he was William-Fucking-Francis-Fucking-Buckley, the answer was very simple:
    He always demanded very little.
    He always demanded it at the right time.
    He always demanded it of the right people.

    Lee Atwater needed little motivation to slip his leash. But he did need cover. A few words from William Buckley would suffice.

    And so, in the primary season of 1984, the snake turned its hungry eyes towards its tail, and began to turn.

    ----

    Mid-summer, 1984

    Conservative Party Headquarters. George works for Pat Robertson. Lee Atwater works for...himself, if he’s being honest.

    “You’re making a mistake, Lee. You want us in this fight.”

    “We do want you in this fight, George. Are you saying you’re going to throw the match over the vice presidency? The vice presidency?

    “You know we’ll do what we can. But to start out our relationship like this. By disrespecting our candidate?”

    “George. Things came out in the campaign that just can’t-”

    “Lee! I am not a man to use foul language but if you bring up that film…”

    “It was more than just the film...though the film was pretty bad. Your guy is laying on hands and crying like a baby while everyone screams gibberish around him, it’s not a good visual.”

    “You know d- you know your own team released that tape. And the tabloid monstrosity about the reverend’s first child. It was all you.”

    “George. Whoever it was? Surely you’re good enough at your job to understand what I have to do. I know you can put yourself in my shoes. What would you do?”

    “This is not how to foster unity, Lee. This is not a good start.”

    “That’s why I’m here. We’re going to fix this. The senator is announcing Steiger as his running mate tomorrow afternoon. Let’s talk about first steps to showing the country that we have a unified party.”

    “This isn’t how it’s always going to be, Lee. You can’t just walk all over the Christians and expect us to be the bigger men all the time. That’s a mistake the Republicans made.”

    “I couldn’t agree more. That’s why today, you’re going to help me staff up. We’re running a presidential campaign now, and we need bodies.”

    “We want more. We want control of the platform.”

    “You’ll have full control of the platform committee at the convention. Robertson will get the most prominent spot we have behind Steiger and Buckley in the speeches. We want all of your people on board. And of course it goes without saying: if we somehow shoot the moon on this thing, if the gambit pays off? The reverend can write his own ticket.”

    “Anything?”

    “Sky’s the limit.”

    “You’re telling me Secretary of State Pat Robertson is on the table? Party Chairman?”

    “The sky, as I mentioned, is the limit.”

    George looks placated by the offer. And why shouldn’t he be? It’s absurdly generous. Or it would be if they had a chance in hell of winning. Atwater knows the truth. There’s no way barring a dead girl or a live boy situation that James Buckley’s going to be the next president. Buckley knew that as well as he did. But that didn’t preclude victory. There were many ways to win in American politics. You could even win by losing…

    ----

    Late summer, 1984

    CBS Evening News.

    “And so we conclude our coverage of the Conservative Party Convention here in Phoenix, where Connecticut senator James Buckley and local favorite son Governor Sam Steiger have formed the ticket that will compete in November for the presidential nomination. The speeches were fiery, the rhetoric was dialed up to ten, and the various factions paraded like gamecocks for a chance to express their views.

    “Contrasted with the contention evident among the Democrats and the, to quote our friend Morley Safer, ‘concerned optimism’ among the Republicans, this week in Phoenix has been the kind of straightforward display of political pageantry we haven’t seen in this country since perhaps Eisenhower’s time. In a country long dominated by the Republicans and the Democrats, it’s clear the Conservatives are doing their best to present Americans with a viable ‘third way.’ Whether the American people are buying, we’ll find out in November. For CBS News this is Dan Rather, signing off.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
  19. Expat Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
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    Cheers! I will do my best to maintain quality! And I will also do my best not immediately pounce on the recently-arrived mapmaker.:openedeyewink:


    Thanks for the sympathy and the lovely sentiments. It's a once-a-year phenomenon so all should be well for a while.

    Stepdad's seen some shit, I tell you what. I try to listen when he talks, but it's very much his decision to do so. As it should be, really.
     
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  20. Expat Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Audiovisual bonus! The best shorthand introduction for James Buckley has to be these 1970 campaign ads. Check that slogan. So whistle! Much dog! And the campus one? Think about right-wing attacks on campus culture today and...this is not a new playbook.

     
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