Kathryn clicked the red button on the polyphone.
“Are we connected? “ she asked.
“Yes, we are,” I responded from the studio in Mars City. “You are being taped on the UCB Political Round Table program. Go ahead.”
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, both on Earth and on Mars. Welcome to the show. With me are a few distinguished friends in-the-know, “ Kathryn announced, “Fred Garfinkel, Tony Blanket, Charles Hammerschmidt and Bob Foolsman, for our weakly discussion on “Where the World Turns”. Pete and Sue joined to represent the ebullient youth that voted for Obama. Fred, let me ask you first, how‘s the USA fairing?”
“We’ve veered into the most disastrous phase the USA has ever experienced,” Fred said, worried.” I thought FDR was bad, but this time the liberal left has really outdone itself.”
“You mean it can’t be repaired?” Kathryn asked.
“It would take a conservative landslide in November and again in 2012, similar to the one on the Dems side in 2008, and I don’t see that happening because Republicans, including conservatives, are too divided and don’t have a leader.”
“Tony, your views?” Kathryn asked.
“Fred’s pessimistic for the right reasons,” Tony admitted. “The center and center-right are divided and have no articulate theme to defeat the good-doers on the left. But there’re some cracks appearing on the Dems side too, which gives me hope.”
“You on the right side forget that you’re fighting the change for a better America that everybody wanted,” Bob intervened. “There’s no right slogan that can beat that populist goal. The present administration is undoing all the harm that the Reagan and Bush eras committed, even with an occasional democratic majority in Congress at the time. Thank God we have a leader who’s resetting the buttons and does it right.”
“But he’s emptying my future wallet,” Pete protested.
“You’ll have plenty left to buy your hamburger and a cracker for your siblings,” Bob retorted. “And paying higher taxes is a patriotic act.”
“But hamburgers are bad for my health and my kids can’t live on crackers either,” Pete countered.
“You’ll have an excellent new healthcare system if you get sick. Thanks to our great leader. He eats hamburgers himself when he escapes Michelle’s kitchen, so why do you worry.”
“I agree with Fred’s assessment,” Charles said. “The leftist Democratic juggernaut is taking us to eternal dependency in a bankrupt USA, and there’s nothing we can do. They pushed through the stimulus, then the health care and then the financial reforms, and it was all written by leftist lawyers and lobbyists with tons of regulations still to write. What a feat for our great democracy in just 500 days. Don’t write them off for 2012 either.”
“Where do these people come from?” Sue asked. “Leftist minds from Harvard, Yale and Berkeley?”
“You wonder about their mindset,” Tony said. “The reason is that the USA was never run over by Nazis or Soviets, let alone the Chinese. It came close enough with 9/11 but that cost three thousand lives and a ruined economy, but no foreign management over the floor. Look how soon the populace forgot. Leftists have a knack for exploiting people’s lack of insight, hindsight and foresight.”
“But Europeans were run over by Nazis and Communists and still turned socialist,” Sue exploded, “so how do you explain that?”
“It’s much easier to persuade the populace with utopian ideas that sound good but turn out bad later, than teaching them economics about how to run the place efficiently, which is boring,” Fred explained. “Reagan had the ability to communicate that in simple terms, and even he was attacked from left and right.”
“So this is the end of the good old USA, if that’s what you mean,” Kathryn concluded, showing her somber mood.
“No, to the contrary,” Bob said, showing optimism.” State it the other way, glass half full. Finally, the good old USA is becoming a valid member of world society, adopting the rules of the good for all, and discarding its rules of the good for just a few.”
“That’s total hogwash, Bob, and you know it,” Fred blasted. “It was those few good men who made this USA into what we are today. They pursued an ideal, not ideology. They clamped together to achieve progress and did. All you guys want is to distribute the wealth that you can’t create to those who don’t and sit with their fat potbellies in front of their TV. If we’d left it to your so-called good-doers, we would’ve ended up in shared misery and that’s where we’re heading now. Don’t look too far for good examples.”
“But the economy is picking up again thanks to the Government’s measures,” Bob continued, as if stone deaf.
“The economy always does after the down turn in an eight years business cycle, Mr. Foolsman,” Pete noted coolly. “Page 239 of Paul Samuelson’s Economics, if you care to read.”
“Dead right Pete,” Tony buttet in. And turning to Bob, he continued “I hear you guys saying you don’t want to go back to the eight years policies of the Bush Administration. It so happened that they started with a downturn earned from Clinton, got 9/11 and then Katrina, and after eight years ended with a bigger one, after the socialists had opened the floodgates for cheap housing through Freddie Mac and Fanny May. So you earned the mess you created yourself and made it three times worse in just 18 months. The point Fred’s making is that it would have been a lot better if the Government had left the business cycle alone instead of plastering it with socialist rubbish.”
“What’s the panel’s view up there, Mars?” Kathryn asked, afraid that her panel was going to murder Bob.
“We’ve been talking while listening,” I said. “The only thing that can save you is a national groundswell of tsunami proportions sweeping those people out of power, repeal what they did, and keep them out forever, now that you know who and what they are. Then start over again and keep a tight lid on it.”
“And how do you think you will do that with a leader who is still more popular than any of your current straw men?” Bob asked, unable to hide his sarcasm.
“That tea party movement is growing fast and includes people from both sides of the aisle and lots of independents,” Fred said. “And recently elected Republican Governors are turning their debt ridden states towards solvency again. Those are looking like good examples what the right can do.”
“Maybe so, but translating that on a national scale is not sustainable without a strong leader and there’s no one on the bloc so far,” Bob smirked.
“Bob has a point,” Charles said. “As long as the right keeps bickering among themselves, saying that Palin is too light, Romney a Mormon, McCain washed out, Gingrich old hat, and so on, the Pied Piper will holler on in 2012. So far, nobody has seen what the Contract from America is about. And when Gingrich articulated and won with his Contract for America in 1994, the Right dropped the ball a few years later under Clinton and again under Bush. So the history isn’t good.”
“Meaning we only have ourselves to blame,” Kathryn opined.
“No, that’s not it! America wanted change,” Bob argued, emphasizing the word and pounding on the table. “It had enough of the past. People change, so did the USA. It has changed for good, there’s no return.”
“I voted for the change,” Pete said, regretfully, “and so did many of my friends. We were all mesmerized by the Pied Piper. But we never realized that the change would be this mess. I’m getting scared for my future.”
“So did I,” Sue confessed. “In spite of Mars Man’s warnings. I’m getting scared too. You’ll be long death, Mr. Foolsman, when I’m having to pay the bills.”
“Well, Mars Man, any advice up there for the Earth family?”
“Our consensus here is that you must elect a team of good business people who know how to run a big corporation and turn it over, somebody who knows how to explain and sell this politically, and who can talk the Pied Piper off the table with clear facts and economic wisdom, and pull down the curtain on utopia. That’s a tall order. We hope that person will come through the ranks soon. Mars wants a strong and healthy USA. You must stand behind that leader, stop internal bickering, and start now with formulating your agenda clearly. Advocate your Contract from America. Every time the other side comes back to denigrate it, fight back with a megaphone, if you want to win. Don’t leave no stone unturned.”
“But that’s how Obama won,” Bob said, smiling.
“ Good point again Bob, but that was before he did what he did,” Charles said. “The spell only works once. Now it’s exposed.”
“Thank you all for a lively discussion,” Kathryn ended, hoping they wouldn’t pulverize Bob. “Till next week’s Round Table.”
Dearest Kathy, Pete and Sue, here follows my weekly e-mail.
I got back safely. On my way up, I saw Odyssey and Orbiter still spying on Mars. To tell the truth, we don’t mind Earth looking at us as we do the same with Earth. As you remember from the wonderful sky above Bob’s ethanol field, our UFOs have been perfected off late. But we’re a bit wary of these Mars Landers Earth sends over, because they look like these unfriendly giant spiders that roam Mars’s Rocky Mountains. Fortunately, we have our ways to protect our existence and succeed in persuading these crafts to become (legal!) Mars residents and stop sending their messages back to Earth. NASA calls that the Great Galactic Ghoul that feeds on Martian spacecraft. Well, we don’t eat them as we have better ways to feed ourselves. What they don’t understand is that we turn them into machines for our own space reconnaissance and perfect them along the way. Willing collaborators to visit our moons, Phobos and Deimos, and sister planet Venus. Regretfully, from my talks on Earth it appears some remain keen on pursuing their mission to invade us. So we shall have to keep an eye on more of these flying objects spewing to Mars, despite NASA’s recent transformation into a multicultural education department.
I landed on one of our main launching pads in what they call on Earth our Valles Marineris, where most of us live. As I told you, contrary to Earth’s findings so far, it’s quite a livable place. They immediately asked me for a TV meet to discuss my latest findings as they’re all very curious about what’s cooking on Earth.
You as family know we have different ways to indentify ourselves here, but for others listening in I shall use Earthly names for the panel that interviewed me last night: Tamil, Elmer, Shamus, Pasha, and Huda. They are all part of UCB (Universe Communications Broadband), our main TV station and wanted to know everything I did during my stay.
“Any progress?” Tamil was the first to ask.
“To the contrary, regression all over,” I told him, and he looked relieved. “But in the West the genders are merging.”
“How’s that?” Huda was always keen to hear about women on Earth. “Are they becoming like us?”
“More and more,” I confirmed. “More men are wearing skirts – and I’m not talking about Scottish pipers –and more women are wearing pants. They almost look each other’s mirrors now. The only difference is that women still have boobs but they’re getting flatter. Even their voices are beginning to sound similar.”
“Do they still do it?” Pasha had a penchant for sexual relationships, and anchors a TV show and writes books about it on Mars.
“Women prefer to go to the sperm bank,” I revealed, reluctantly. “They aim for a national sperm bank system with a Federal Reserve to regulate quality and equitable access at low rates.”
“What do men do, then?” Elmer asked, glancing at Pasha and looking embarrassed.
“Apart from delivering at the sperm bank, they marry each other.”
“But that’s weird,” Elmer gasped. “There must be something wrong with their brains.”
“Everybody says that, but so far their authorities haven’t made it a priority research item yet.”
“You said regression, what do you mean by that?” Tamil brought the interview back to the basics.
“The USA is moving to failed communist systems. Unbelievable but true. Europe is already seriously suffering from them and has lost steam as a result. The Middle-East shoots everyone who doesn’t live like before the Middle Ages and spurns women. That makes one hundred percent of their populations unproductive. China is hellbent on becoming number one and working hard on their own path to Mars, but its brutal statist regime has too many people to feed. South-Asia has the same problem and is facing fundamentalist wars. Then there is that old flame of Earth history, you know Persia what they now call Iran. Those pashas think they are Alexander the Great number Two. What can I tell you…Everybody fights each other. There’s no enlightened vision, no unity, no spirited leadership down there, except old mullahs yelling in megaphones.”
Tamil seemed to relax. “Good for us, no prospects for new Rovers.”
“But do we put money on Earth?” Shamus asked. He handles USB’s space-wide investments.
“Only in gold if you need to, but you have enough of that here. USA and Europe keep spending more than they earn. Their moneys are going down and they can’t keep printing it at the rate they do. At some stage it must collapse. Especially if their banker China calls in its loans and invades Taiwan.”
“What about us colonizing Earth, rather than them colonizing us?”
“Interesting question, but I wouldn’t put my money in it.”
“We know you have siblings on Earth. How do they feel?” Pasha asked.
“Kathryn runs a bank but sits on the money and doesn’t lend, afraid they won’t pay back, and she hates bailouts in exchange for government regulators on her Board. Pete and Sue have good paying jobs, but many of their friends don’t. When they ask their Government why, it says it’s the other party’s fault and will always be.”
“Don’t they complain in the press, then?”
“The main press in the USA is in the tank with the socialist Government. They are utterly silent on the same things they were raising hell over under the previous administration. Double standard to perfection.”
“How did this all happen?” Elmer asked.
“I think it’s a mixture of things. You know about Earth’s nine-eleven. That changed everything. People lost direction. Many lost their mind and never found it back. The worst for Earth is that the great USA elected a bunch of leftist nincompoops and has lost its grip on world events. They can’t even handle their own border security.”
“Well, that’s an Earth term for ignoramuses.”
“We don’t know what that means either,” Elmer said, laughing.
“Bum heads, my son’s definition, will that do?”
“So, if I may conclude, “Tamil said, “everything is quiet for us on the West-front?”
“For now yes, but the danger is that you may see slanted eyes landing here first, looking like us…”.
“What about these women,” Huda asked quickly, to get a last question in.
“They’re taking over,” I said. ”You see it everywhere in the USA. More women than men in universities. More and more women making it to CEO. They are flying airplanes and space shuttles. A whole new group of angry women is entering politics and beating male candidates. Granted, Earth men have made a mess everywhere you go and have done so for millennia. The Middle East is a point in case. So are Africa, South-Asia and the Far-East. And presently the USA isn’t any better. Women are coming to power. Matriarchal management is on the rise. Maybe that’s Earth’s best hope.“
“But would they come here to disturb our homogeneous society?” Pasha wondered.
“By the time they come, they will have fully merged into one gender, like us, with just one minor difference for the purpose of procreation. They can’t stay here for physical reasons, and must go back to their sperm bank, otherwise they die.”
“Earth sperm banks may be a good investment, then,” Shamus inferred.
“And we can be assured that we won’t be bothered,” Pasha ended happily. “Long live Mars.”
“Our time’s up,” Tamil announced, looking satisfied. “Thank you, Mars Man, for this informative interview and please come back next time.”
That’s the news from Mars, dear all. I’ve to water my plants. Till my next e-mail. Stay well.
After a week of hectic talks and money matters, it was time to pack up again. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Kathryn, Sue and Pete behind in this current mess that the USA got itself into. Friends in Nebraska fully agreed. Law abiding and straightforward, nature lovers and good farmers, moneymakers (Warren Buffet lives there) and smart insurers in the Heartland don’t like the freewheeling spend and tax freaks of East and West. They all said that their current administration was a train wreck in the making and were looking forward to changing the dynamics in November real fast.
We attended a selective July 4th grill party on a wide terrace with friends at a corn and ethanol estate where I had parked my space scooter. From a far, fireworks lit up the red glowing evening sky in an eternal widescreen of Technicolor along the horizon. We even saw some UFOs looking on.
“You live well here,” Kathryn said to the host, whose real name is withheld for security reasons and whom I’ll call Bob for the occasion. “You’ve mastered the art of making money and keeping it.”
“We’re grateful for what we got, Kathryn,” Bob said. “Through hard work the old American way. We don’t mind paying taxes on the condition it’s not wasted for political ends. That’s why our Democratic Senator got in hot water here with that one hundred million taxpayer money bribe he took to get him to vote for that stupid health care law.”
“I heard that Mr. President plans to make a recess appointment of some guy nobody trusts to head the Medicare system, “Pete tuned in.
“Nobody wanted a confirmation hearing,” Bob said. “Democrats didn’t because they hated to reopen the healthcare debate, which is a loser for them, and Republicans considered the guy rightly a leftwing bum and unworthy of confirmation. So the Administration was afraid he wouldn’t make it and delayed till everyone went on their July 4th vacation.”
“Bush did that too,” Pete mumbled dryly. “Remember Bolton at the UN?”
“Bolton proved the only one whom they were scared of at the UN because he saw right through their funny tricks and said so. He is still head-on on geopolitics. But this new fellow at Medicare is a so-called honorary Harvard professor. He likes the flailing British health care system and wants to copy it.”
“I fail to see why they like to repeat these socialist things here that don’t work elsewhere,” Sue said, munching on grilled rib, rolling her deep blue slanted eyes.
“Hubris,” Bob said, taking a rib himself. “Absolute hubris. The present group that came to power – and God forbid it won’t be too long – really believes they know better and that it’s only a matter of doing it right. Of course, the other fools elsewhere in the world believed that too. That’s why they are being voted out in Europe.”
“But I can go on vacation to Paris again,” Sue said, grinning broadly. “The whole fiscal turmoil over there lifted the dollar from its morass.”
“Better grab it while you can, my girl,” Bob said wryly. “It will soon be worse here than in Europe and then your beloved green buck will be back in the doldrums.”
“Wall Street’s hoping for total gridlock in Congress come November,” I said, “so that the highfalutin thinkers in Washington can’t get anything done. That’s the only way to save America.”
“Lawmakers don’t understand economics,” Sue intoned and, as a lawyer, she knew. “Laws are written and applied, even when they are wrong. The laws of economics are hidden and only appear in textbooks they haven’t read, like their bills. If you don’t apply them you see them when it’s too late.”
“Let’s hope for gridlock,” Pete prayed.” It looks Wall Street is already betting on it because the stock market’ s back in the ten thousands. They expect that the overreaching financial law the House democrats approved will hit dirt in the Senate and not make it.”
“For the last few years I’ve kept my money in cash and gold and am not buying stocks right now,” Bob said. “It worked out well so far. I don’t see any improvements in the fundamentals.”
I didn’t tell him we were hoarding gold on Mars, too.
“I still keep my faith in the unrivaled American dream,” I said, “and that its independent forces will toss out the current keepers to revive the spirit of its Founders. I just have to, for the sake of Pete and Sue.”
“At least we’ve clearly identified who and what these keepers are,” Kathryn said, “so that we won’t elect them again.”
* * *
It was time for me to go. Bob drove us in his open Jeep to my improvised landing and launching site. After saying farewell to Kathryn, the siblings and Bob, I changed into my space suit and entered my space scooter.
“Don’t let them waste my tax dollars, Sue!”
I waved, closed the cabin, and was off back to Mars, my tank full with borrowed ethanol.
I am really getting scared now for my earthly off springs in the USA. Last week Sunday on Mars, friends and I were watching the G-20 deliberations in Toronto on a FARSIGHT screen that gives us access to Earth TV channels. As Man from Mars I must hold financial interests on Earth for the sake of Kathryn’s and the mixed kiddos Pete and Sue, so I have to keep track of where Earth is heading financially. It didn’t look good. The current leader of the USA uttered some truly uneconomic noises. Did he ever read your Paul Samuelson’s Basic Elementary Economics for Beginners? Or simply a basic math book that explains why 2 plus 2 is 4 and not 5 or 3 minus 1 is 2 and does not add up to 10?
Then came the clincher in his Toronto press conference. We sat perplexed. Rarely had we seen a leader of the great USA talk in greater platitudes, but worse was what he said about his plans. With the hubris dripping from his smile, he said he had more harsh proposals coming up for next year. After all, he reminded his folks, he’d said a few days before the elections that he would fundamentally change America. They had better learn a lesson that he does what he says (“they” probably meaning your unwilling conservatives who don’t appreciate his “change for the better”). He said he got them national health care even though nobody really wanted his version, and they’d better get used to it that more of that would be flowing down the pipe. So, you dear Americans, hold your breath. He, the new great democratic elected dictator, who speaks like Castro and thinks like Chavez, will do it again. Mark his words. Regardless of Congress, even if it changes hands.
I knew then that the cheering audience before the election was unaware of what change they would get: a huge generational theft with insurmountable debt, private sector employment down and total government overkill. Pete and Sue and eventually their kids will be paying for it forever after Blockbuster King is gone, leaving behind a totally screwed up economy that will be the signature of America’s decline and the loss of its Independence from the rest of the world. My Mom once said you better know what you’re asking for before you ask. How true.
I knew it was necessary to go back to Earth for family support. The July 4th weekend is always a good time for that. While rushing down, I didn’t see a Columbia or Discovery on my way. Moon also looked lonely, though the space station still showed some life, waving a Russian red flag.
I landed in Nebraska this time on one of those familiar green fields because of this immigration brouhaha in Arizona, my usual place. Nebraska is quietly landlocked and glad to stay that way. An untold secret we only seem to know about on Mars. Omaha is a nice town with surprisingly good restaurants, a sophisticated oasis of fine shops and arts, and happy people on sunny terraces. The airport has no scanner yet so the kids wouldn’t be subjected to queries about their VESIcare bodies. They came in on Republican Airways (even Democrats fly it without a parachute). Downtown, we gathered in “La Buvette”, a popular wine-tasting bar with a broad collection of the best wines Earth offers. Nebraskans know their good life but don’t tell anybody about it. Smart.
“It’s Independence Day, but we’re losing it,” Pete mused, sipping his cool Pouilly-fuisse. “They’re out to destroy all we fought for in two hundred years.”
“Utopia sounds good, but doesn’t work,” Sue added, chewing on a cracker with French brie. “It only works for politicians who want to get re-elected by a dreaming populace that doesn’t think.”
“Using other people’s money, that’s their mantra,” Kathryn said. “Especially not their bucks. They all have fat bank accounts, and refund their taxes with their taxpayer paid House and Senate perks.”
“Isn’t that T-party band re-launching Independence Day to correct this madness?” I asked.
“Everybody counts on November. But I’m not sure,” Kathryn said. “The Pied Piper is still around and nobody’s perking up as a good alternative.”
I refilled her glass. The family mood was gloomy.
“What goes around comes around,” I offered, feeling helpless. “Every reaction has a reaction.”
“That sounds pretty plastic,” Sue scoffed. “Useless, after we’ve all lost our shirt.”
“Well, vote them out in November then if you want to stop King Kong from doing more harm, and don’t invite him back in 2012.” What else could I say.
“Yeah,” Pete said, a sigh slipping from his chest. “When we’re all sitting with empty pockets on a heap of ash with our homes burned down, Pied Piper will come back with his magic flute and promise everything will be honky-dory again if you let him take care of you. The bum head.”
“The bum heads will be those believing that,” I countered.
“What’s that word in Spanish?” Sue asked, sarcasm all over her face. “He wants amnesty for eleven million illegals so they’ ll vote for him and his freaking party.”
“The only thing left is revolution,” Kathryn said firmly. “Fill the Mall in DC, mount the steps of the Capitol, haul them out, and throw them in the Tidal Bay.”
“The Park Service will fine you for littering,” Sue said, her legal mind in action. “I have a better idea. Lock them up with no food and water, cut off TV, force them to read all laws they voted for and never read, and then repeal them if they want to see daylight again.”
“We can also ship them off to Mars,” Pete tried.
“Against our pollution laws,” I said, glancing at Sue. “Well, it really sounds like you’re in dire straits.”
“We are,” Kathryn affirmed. “We fought for our Independence from external British tyranny. Now two hundred years later, we have to fight for our Independence from internal socialist tyranny. America’s been rotting from inside and, stupid, we weren’t aware of it. Now we are. Just hope it won’t be too late.”
“Let’s go for a bite in that Bistrot Francais around the corner,” I suggested. “They were good at Revolution.”
“But they turned socialist too,” Kathryn said, desperate. “It must be their wine. If you drink too much of it you see things too rosy and you wake up with a hangover not knowing what happened to you.”
“We’ll drink Californian then,” Sue decided.
“Have you seen California’s balance sheet recently?” Pete asked, pulling a face.
“Oh well, we’ll have an Australian Pinot Noir,” Sue said. “It’ll feel like we’re in the black for a while.”
I paid the bill leaving a Mars gold coin on the table. In Nebraska they don’t take funny money.