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1  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: August 15, 2017, 01:32:52 am
Chapter 6:

Lu Bu was quick to convene with his advisors once the commotion outside the city walls had ceased.

“Ma Chao sits outside the walls of Shanxi, boorishly demanding entry to the city. This bodes toward ill intentions on his part. What should we do?” he asked, conferring with his staff.

First to speak was Li Su, a childhood friend of Lu Bu’s whom had been responsible for orchestrating the initial betrayal of Ding Yuan. “Brother, you and I know first-hand the tale of a man from Liang advancing eastward with a large army, under the pretext of punishing traitors. Such memories are more vivid and cautionary than the musings of last night’s slumber. The conflict has ceased, and there is no need for his army to enter Shanxi,” said Li Su.

Before anybody else could get a word in, a high-pitched voice issued protestation from the distance. All turned their heads to see Jia Xu, who was bound and taken prisoner despite surrendering the city to Lu Bu.

“Such a situation must be carefully handled. If we were to be so obstinate and mean that we would not grant him some sort of communication, then he may assume that we have nefarious motives,” said Jia Xu.

Lu Bu was intrigued. “How do we handle this situation then?” he asked.

Their conversation was quickly interrupted by Ma Chao’s booming voice at the gates. “Minister Wang entreated us to help eliminate the traitors. All we ask for is a simple correspondence; are he and his men too opaque to grant us even that?” he jeered.

Following Ma Chao’s interruption, Lu Bu looked toward the room once more for advice.
“My intuition tells me that you colluded with Ma Teng’s men to eliminate Niu Fu’s army. Although you may have done so via secret letter, gossip travels fast in this country, especially during times of instability such as these. If you were to undermine the terms of that agreement, it would damage the credibility of Minister Wang at best, and invite another coup at worst.

However, it is natural to be bashful towards the prospect of opening one’s gates to thousands of cavalry, especially if they’re fresh off a strong victory. So, my proposition would be this: agree to meet Ma Chao at the gates of the city, but not cede an inch of ground to them,” he said.

Lu Bu found this to be good advice, and reappeared at the gates and spoke to Ma Chao’s unit.
“Order has been restored to Shanxi, and your assistance is not needed at the moment. However, it would be unbecoming of the Emperor’s army to snub those who have rendered good service, so I will meet you personally at the gates,” said Lu Bu.

Following this statement, he hurried his way down toward the gate, emerging amount Red Hare, along with a well-armed entourage. Ma Chao’s whole army seemed to ready their spears in anticipation of combat, and the men atop the walls of Shanxi likewise readied their arrows.

Ma Chao was first to break the silence brewed by the standstill. “General Lu! We have acted concertedly to eliminate Li Jue and his recalcitrants. Why do you suddenly act so distrusting of us?” he asked.

“It seems like only a fortnight ago that Dong Zhuo’s army was greeted as liberators, only to wreak an even worse tyranny than that of the Ten Eunuchs. As the stewards of the Son of Heaven, I am sure you can understand why I would be apprehensive,” said Lu Bu.

Ma Chao remained unsatisfied. “General Lu, your Third Father, Wang Yun, granted amnesty to Li Jue and his lot, even though they were Dong Zhuo’s most heinous lackeys. Yet you won’t even grant us a conference inside the city we collaborated to liberate?” he asked.

Before Lu Bu could respond, he felt a hand grasp his wrist. It belonged to Li Su, who had ridden out with him to the gate. “There is enough tension abound that this situation could quickly escalate. I am quite persuasive. In the event that I may say something wrong, I am sure that Ma Chao could cut me down with one blow; but I am willing to wager on my tongue,” he said.

Lu Bu was impressed with his friend’s confidence and bade him to go forward. “General Ma Chao, please note that my master has the utmost esteem for you. He has often said that the only thing that exceeds your existing might is your further potential. However, his only first-hand contact with you lies in today’s unfortunate circumstances.

Yes, it is true that we had granted amnesty to Dong Zhuo’s twitching limbs, but that was only because they were teeming with rabid nerves, ready to strike frantically and with abandon. It was possible that they may have gotten hold of the Emperor otherwise. Don’t forget: even Wang Mang was allowed to rule for a few years.

But we won’t govern similarly to such a tyrant, and will confer the appropriate accolades to those who have rendered service, such as your own army. I think this matter may be best handled under joint negotiations between senior partners of our groups,” said Li Su.

Ma Chao assented and dispatched messengers for his father. Meanwhile, Li Su conferred with Lu Bu and relayed to him the terms of discussion between he and Ma Chao.
“Should we send for Wang Yun?” asked Lu Bu.

“No. Wang Yun is advanced in age, and while Li Jue’s men may have scattered, we do not know where they lurk. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu mentioned that surprise is the most potent element, and I would bet on that over any imperial escort,” said Li Su.

After some trepidation, Lu Bu nodded. The next day, he and Li Su rode back out to the western gate at Shanxi to meet with Ma Teng and Han Sui. As soon as the four met up, tension resumed amongst the soldiers of both parties involved.

Li Su was first to speak. “As your venerable son may have relayed to you, we are thankful for your assistance in purging the nest of rats holed up in Yong. As a demonstration of our gratitude, we would like to confer titles and rewards upon yourself in recognition of your service, as well as amnesty towards who serve you,” he said.

Ma Teng was receptive to this proposition. “I appreciate this show of good faith. What bestowment did you have in mind?” he asked. “I would like to offer five thousand taels of gold, as well as the titles of General Who Tames the West and General Who Quakes the West, upon Han Sui and yourself respectively. Additionally, I would like to offer the promotion of your son, Ma Chao, to Right Guard of the Imperial army,” said Li Su.

Ma Teng smiled. “This sounds like a fair reward,” he said. However, Han Sui was quick to pull him aside.

“We saw what Wang Yun’s amnesty was worth when we eliminated Li Jue and Niu Fu. Is there any reason why we should take comfort in this guarantee, when the Ten Eunuchs gave away titles like spoiled grain?” asked Han Sui rhetorically.

“Wang Yun is a diligent servant of the Emperor, so much so that he orchestrated the overthrow of Dong Zhuo. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Ma Teng.

Han Sui remained skeptical. “Before us stands Li Su, the man who negotiated the assassination of Ding Yuan, and Lu Bu, the executioner himself; both in order to further Dong Zhuo’s machinations. Those don’t seem like a laudable deeds. Also, they are trying to deprive you of your son – who is to say that isn’t just so they can hold him hostage at a later date?” he said.

“Allegiances are fleeting. At one point, seven kingdoms existed in China, only for them to be superseded by one singular state. When you consider the tumult that our country was in, you cannot begrudge Li Su and Lu Bu their past indiscretions. Furthermore, Ma Chao is of the sort that rouses those around him. I do not fear for his safety,” said Ma Teng.

Ma Teng stepped forward and shook hands with Li Su, prompting Han Sui to storm back towards camp. Ma Teng quickly followed after him.

“If you were so concerned about five thousand taels of gold, then we could have easily confiscated that from Shanxi!” he exclaimed indignantly.

Ma Teng put a hand on his shoulder, in an attempt to alleviate his mood. “Listen, brother. With this deal in place, we have time to bolster our forces. If Wang Yun wants to march on us, he has no army to the west to call upon, and all armies east of him must go through Chang’an to attack us. There is no reason why Yuan Shao or Cao Cao wouldn’t ‘borrow a road to destroy a host’ and sow discord.”

Han Sui suppressed his frustration and agreed with Ma Teng. Thus, Li Su was quick to petition the court, and Wang Yun named Ma Teng General Who Tames The West, and Han Sui General Who Quakes The West. Ma Teng was also enfeoffed five thousand taels of gold and the title of Governor of Yong.

Now that the west had been pacified, Wang Yun made a few appointments coinciding with Ma Teng’s reward. Lu Bu was named Grand General of the Imperial Army, and Li Su was promoted to Head of The Imperial Escort. Shisun Rui was named Minister of the Interior, and Wang Yun was named Prime Minister. Lastly, Zhong Yao and Jia Xu were both granted pardons and named to serve in the imperial court.

Wang Yun bade all those present to join him in libation to commemorate the victory over Niu Fu and their respective promotions. However, it only took a few minutes for their celebration to be disrupted by a messenger that rushed toward the floor of the court.

“Minister Wang! I bring grave news from Xu Province!” he exclaimed.

“What news would that be?” asked Wang Yun.

“Lord Cao Cao has begun an assault on Tao Qian’s hold in Xu, trying to claim it for his own without any imperial edict.

In the name of upholding the authority of the Han, I request that you quell this issue.
Wang Yun was skeptical at first. “Are you trying to convince me that Cao Cao just started attacking Xu Province on a whim?” he asked.

“Unfortunately, it’s not that simple,” said the messenger.

Wang Yun calmed a dog
That was barking in the west
Now he must pierce fog
To figure out what is best

What would Wang Yun do about Cao Cao’s assault on Xu?
2  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: July 23, 2017, 12:57:54 am
With that, the meeting was abruptly brought to adjournment. When Jia Xu retired to his private quarters, he had taken to drinking wine and lamenting the obstinance of Niu Fu. Eventually, one of his servants engaged him in conversation, seeing that he had imbibed too much.

“Minister Xu, what is wrong?” he asked.

“Our pardon from Wang Yun was merely an execution deferred. Lu Bu marches toward our gates under the guise of relief, when in reality he salivates in anticipation of occupying this city. Yet, Niu Fu is so gullible that he is willing to listen to the counsel of buffoons over my own words. I fear that I will be a collateral casualty to this whole blunder,” he said.

“With due deference, there is no reason why your tree of livelihood must be rooted to Niu Fu’s foundation. You lack the conspicuity of a King Wen, but not the cunning. Surely, in the event of a takeover of the city, you would not be considered a reprehensible figure,” said the servant.
Jia Xu grinned with elation. “Very well, then. If Niu Fu is going to disregard the advice of prescient men, then I may as well season that lamb before it is served,” he said.

He nodded, and granted the servant a glass of wine before departing to bed.

The next morning, Niu Fu assembled a meeting consisting of the same people from yesterday. He opened up by announcing that Ma Teng had assembled his forces a mere two miles from the gates of Shanxi.

“My only request is that your majesty head the unit instead if Li Jue. The latter has just been beaten a few days ago, and sending a disgraced warrior would not be good for morale. It would be more inspirational for the troops if you yourself headed the charge,” said Jia Xu.

These words stoked Niu Fu’s natural ego and impetuousness. “Very well. At the start of the third watch, I will lead our entire garrison out to do battle with Ma Teng. Jia Xu, I am leaving you with a minimal amount of men in order to maintain order in the city. If the enemy arrives at the gates, shut them and do not give battle,” he said.

Jia Xu assented and Niu Fu quickly assembled the entirety of their remaining forces at Shanxi’s west gate, amassing a host of eighteen thousand. Niu Fu took it upon himself to lead the van, leaving Li Jue in charge of the rear. With this move, Shanxi had been left with such a sparse garrison that a lone soldier was in charge of policing entire blocks, and every other tower was left unmanned.

Amidst the commotion and shuffling of men in Shanxi in anticipation of conflict with Ma Teng, Lu Bu’s own unit had quickly descended upon the city, remaining just within its peripheries. He boasted a force of seven thousand men, of which two thousand were elite cavalry.  Seeking to gain a better understanding of the situation, Lu Bu sent Li Su and a handful of men to reconnoiter its perimeter.

Li Su was quick to report back. “Our scouts were so unmolested that they felt as if they were running across a rice field. Most of the towers look unmanned. We may be able to march right in,” he said.

Zhang Liao was quick to caution against this. “Dong Zhuo’s remnants are a wily and dishonest sort. That may be just a ruse to entrap us into an ambush. We must not lose sight of our current mission here: eliminate Niu Fu. While Ma Teng has been overtly friendly toward us, we cannot be sure of his true intentions, and squandering men on an assault on the city would be foolhardy, were he to turn on us. Instead, we ought to stay put now and wait for signs of combat on the other side of city. Then, we can know that Ma Teng has engaged with Niu Fu’s men,” he cautioned.

Lu Bu found this to be sound advice and encamped.

Meanwhile, Ma Teng had noticed the banners and advancement of Niu Fu’s unit as they marched toward them. He said to his army, “Good. They are finally willing to offer combat.”
When the two armies were within a mile of each other, Niu Fu rode to the front, brandishing his spear. He barked toward Ma Teng’s army, challenging them all to a fight. Ma Chao was getting ready to mount his horse, when a bold voice stopped him.

“I think I ought to give him battle,” he said. Ma Chao turned around to see that it was Xu Huang, who had previously been captured. “You were nice enough to spare my life despite the rigorous duels that we had. The least that I can do is eliminate one of our enemies,” he said. Ma Chao agreed, and Xu Huang rode out to meet Niu Fu, bedecked with his white turban, armor, and a battle axe in his hand.

Xu Huang was eager to meet Niu Fu. “To those men opposite me, hear this: your champion is a sad sort who endeavors to preserve the legacy of Dong Zhuo. Where is Dong Zhuo know?” he asked rhetorically. “He bloated his estate with largesse to the point that his person burst; his entrails fertilized the soil, and his paradise in Meiwo lies in ruin. Do you really expect this man to lead you to prosperity?” he said.

Niu Fu was quick to respond. “This knave has spent so many of his thoughts crafting this monologue, but I don’t even know who he is. Who cares what he has to say?” he jeered.
With that, Niu Fu and Xu Huang galloped their horses at full speed towards each other, and both had readied their weapons. They fought at parity for eleven bouts, but Xu Huang managed to get the better of Niu Fu and beheaded him with one stroke. As if on cue, Ma Chao’s army charged and quickly broke the resolve of Niu Fu’s forces.

During the pell-mell of combat, Li Jue did his best to maintain order amongst the unit and assumed leadership. He commanded them to retreat back into the city.

As this was occurring, Lu Bu’s unit saw the signs of conflict that he had been anticipating, and ordered a full charge towards the city of Shanxi. However, as his forces happened upon the city, its gates flung wide open and black banners were brandished over the walls. The banners read, “General Lu, we surrender.”

Lu Bu bade Li Su to lead a small unit into the city in case of a ruse, but there was none. Lu Bu soon strode into the city, arresting the scant personnel left by Niu Fu and establishing order.
It wasn’t long before Li Jue’s scampering unit happened upon the western gate of Shanxi and demanded entry. Despite their hasty retreat, they could see the dust clouds rising from Ma Chao’s pursuit in the distance.

The gatekeepers acknowledged Li Jue and lifted the gates. However, as his remnants began to enter the city, they were met with Lu Bu and a stout force, waiting in formation.

Li Jue felt as if his throat turned into ice as he stammered toward Lu Bu. “General, you are here to reinforce us, right?” he asked. Lu Bu did not deign to respond directly to Li Jue. Instead, he waved his halberd forwards and his army gave charge. Li Jue commanded his army to turn direction, only to see Ma Chao’s cavalry bearing down on them. Their entire unit scattered in a few axe strokes, and Li Jue laid dead across the battlefield.

Within minutes after the conflict ended, Lu Bu ordered the gates of Shanxi shut. Ma Chao and his cohort nonetheless demanded entry to the city.

Two hunters conspire,
To rid Earth of a pest
Why should they aspire,
To divvy up the rest?

Would Lu Bu open up the gates of Shanxi?
3  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: July 23, 2017, 12:55:49 am
Chapter 5: Niu Fu meets Xu Huang in Combat, Lu Bu Envelops a City (191 AD)

Niu Fu had only a moment’s hesitation before Jia Xu interjected. “Regardless of his ineptitude, the wise decision is to let Li Jue in. He should still boast some supplies and soldiers, which will be necessary for us to continue,” he said.

Niu Fu relented, and opened the gates, thus granting Li Jue access to the city. He and his men frantically piled in, almost to the point of causing a ruckus.

Within two hours, Niu Fu had organized a meeting between himself, his advisors, and the remnants of the Nanan forces. Niu Fu began the meeting with a line of inquiry toward Fan Chou. “Based on your first-hand encounter, how would you characterize the men of Xiliang?” he asked.

“When I clashed with Ma Teng, he had over twenty thousand cavalry present. They were as ferocious as they were villainous, and my own force was no match for them. By my own evaluation, we cannot beat them by ourselves,” said Fan Chou.

Niu Fu was vexed. “What should we do then?” he asked.

Li Jue bore a sanguine smile. “It was not long ago that Wang Yun issued a pardon of us for our past affiliation with Dong Zhuo. We are the rightful protectors of Tian Shui, while Ma Teng’s own Han Sui has a history of collaborating with western dissidents. If Wang Yun is a man of his word, then he will surely grant reinforcements in our favor, instead of siding with foreign invaders,” he said.

Niu Fu was eager to heed Li Jue’s advice, but a second voice spoke up in rebuttal.
“We are beset by a unique set of circumstances. Zhang Ji held out for a long siege and was carved up like a roasted boar by our foes’ cunning. Fan Chou impetuously charged forward and was beaten by their might. Neither example serves as a proper heuristic towards beating our enemy. Therefore, seeking reinforcements from Wang Yun seems like a seductive proposition: after all, he has the might of Lu Bu and the blessing of the Emperor.

However, beseeching Wang Yun for reinforcements would be akin to asking foxes to watch a hennery. As the architect of Dong Zhuo’s assassination, it is evident that he still holds us in contempt and only granted such a pardon out of convenience. At the worst, he might even seek to put us in a vise between his own troops and Ma Teng’s, in an attempt to remove a thorn from his side. I would implore you not to contact Wang Yun,” it finished. That voice belonged to Jia Xu, Niu Fu’s most trusted advisor.

“If we can neither sally nor sit, then what would you suggest that we do? Are you merely awaiting the executioner’s block?” asked Niu Fu.

“Our situation is precarious indeed. We are hemmed by enemies on either side: a distrustful Wang Yun to the east, and an ambitious Ma Teng to the west. By ourselves, no amount of cunning or might could save our skin. However, there is one avenue of salvation: the Riverlands. Due south of here is Yi province, which boasts the city of Chengdu. This is a part of the country that is free of strife, and where Liu Yan has bolstered a force of his own. Although Liu Yan is tenuously connected by blood to the Emperor, there are murmurs that he is trying to establish an independent regime. Perhaps we could receive amnesty there in exchange for our services,” said Jia Xu.

“The annals of history span for thousands of years, yet there is no record of a man finding prosperity by retreating. Our forefather, Dong Zhuo, retreated to the West just to be slain. We recently retreated to the West ourselves, just to be attacked by Ma Teng’s army.  We are better off standing our ground and fighting,” responded Li Jue.

Niu Fu found Li Jue’s advice to be insightful, and dispatched a messenger to Chang’an, requesting reinforcements from the Court. The letter read,
“Minister Wang Yun, we are indebted to your magnanimity and mercy for the pardon that you granted us. However, as servants of the emperor, we beseech you for help: Ma Teng is leading a host of foreign invaders on our encampment, and threatens to obliterate us. The country has already dealt with so much internal strife, and the last thing it needs to suffer is a barbarian invasion. Thus, as an evident patriot, we ask that you send reinforcements to help smash this threat.”

It was only a day later that Wang Yun read the letter aloud, to a discreet audience composed of his trusted advisors. His face lit up with mirth as he uttered the last sentence. “I can practically see Niu Fu’s hand clutching for life as he dangles off the precipice of a cliff,” he said with joy.
Huangfu Song grinned and nodded. “All is according to plan. Send back a response telling them to sally from Shanxi, while granting assurance that we will reinforce them. Then, you can dispatch Lu Bu with a strong force and order him to lie in wait for their return. Thus, we can fully suppress the traitors,” he said.

Wang Yun agreed and sent the messenger on his way.

Niu Fu promptly received Wang Yun’s response, and was elated. “The Minister will grant us security after all!” he exclaimed.

“What does his missive say?” asked Jia Xu.

“Minister Wang is asking that we sally forth and take on Ma Teng’s forces, with the promise of reinforcements in case we can’t surmount their army,” said Niu Fu.

Jia Xu was skeptical. “Nanan has been stripped bare of munitions by Li Jue, and Longxi withstood a long siege. It is unlikely that either yielded significant supplies for Ma Teng and his ilk. His army is heavily reliant on horses, thus increasing his demand for food. Furthermore, the soils of Liang are not known for their fertility. I do not think that Ma Teng has enough rations to sustain a prolonged siege, considering the logistical challenge he faces. We would be better off riding this out,” said Jia Xu.

Li Jue immediately interjected between Wang Yun’s messenger and Jia Xu. “It was only weeks ago that we were worried about our fidelity to the Emperor, and now he suggests that we openly defy him? The order was simple: charge. We can’t cower in the face of foreign invaders,” he said.

Once more, Niu Fu sided with Li Jue’s advice. “Recent transpirations have shown that fortune favors men of action, not inertia. We ought to fight Ma Teng’s outlaws as soon as we can. Tomorrow, we shall reconvene here to prepare for that,” said Niu Fu.
4  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: June 29, 2017, 02:33:06 am
Chapter 4: Zhang Ji Gets A Head In A Box, Fan Chou Feels Foreign At Home (191 AD)

Xu Huang had no inclination to surrender. “A man who is quick to crook his knee in the face of adversity is not to be relied upon. If I were to capitulate here, then my honor would be tarnished forever and my credibility rendered insolvent,” he said.

Ma Chao was ready with a rebuttal. “You entered this conflict enlisted under Yang Feng, who served at the behest of Niu Fu. Niu Fu is a former lackey of Dong Zhuo’s, and his entire army consists of the latter’s remains. Since his handler’s death, he has been acting in frenetic fashion, concerned with self-preservation and little else. You, Xu Huang, would sacrifice yourself and your abilities in service of this man? I would contend that you would do more damage to your name by dying for this man than repudiating him,” said Ma Chao.

Xu Huang was moved. “Very well. I will enter your service, if that is what you wish,” he said. Since his arms were bound, he merely bowed his head. Ma Chao ordered that he be unbound immediately, and decorated with military honors.

Having staved off the threat toward his army’s flank, Ma Chao returned to Ma Teng. Ma Chao’s casualties had been negligible, and his unit returned replete with prisoners and booty. Ma Teng, pleased to hear of his son’s prompt return, hastily met with him.

“You have saved us from potential jeopardy and acted with bravery,” he said with adulation. “Despite that good news, Longxi has not yet budged. While no granaries are bottomless, sieges can be costly for both sides, and delay gives the rebels more time to plot against us.”

Ma Chao was suddenly struck with an idea. “Father, when we eliminated the enemy, we managed to capture some of their banners. Perhaps we could fly them from a distance, impersonating their unit and claiming to have lifted the siege altogether? Then, when Zhang Ji comes out to meet us, we can ambush them there,” he said.

Ma Teng agreed, and encamped just a two miles outside of Longxi’s front gates. He waited until the sun had set, before raising Yang Feng’s recovered banner. He sent a messenger to inform Zhang Ji’s forces that the siege had been lifted, and for Zhang Ji to meet him. Meanwhile, Ma Chao and Pang De were each given five hundred cavalry and stationed on opposite sides in the distance. They wore dark clothes and did not light a single torch, in order to blend in with the night.

Zhang Ji was sitting down and drinking wine when news of a messenger arrived. Several weeks of siege had rendered Zhang Ji anxious and bored, and he had sought to remedy that by abusing alcohol.

“Yang Feng has managed to defeat Ma Teng’s unit himself and lift the siege. The rebel escaped capture, but his forces scattered like rats before a flame. General Yang Feng would like to meet with you outside the city, and plot Ma Teng’s elimination,” said the messenger.
Zhang Ji was pleasantly surprised. “That is good news. Give me time to don the proper garb, and I will meet Yang Feng quickly,” he said.

Zhong Yao saw through this ruse, however. “While I don’t doubt the might of our allies, Ma Teng was outside with a stout force. It is unlikely that a small cohort of inexperienced men were able to dispatch him. Furthermore, we never heard the commotion of battle or saw any of Ma Teng’s soldiers fleeing. I think this is a trap,” he cautioned.

Zhang Ji disagreed. Through slurred speech, he rebutted, “For Yang Feng to surmount such overwhelming odds is only more evidence that Heaven is on our side. Do you not remember the heroic Bai Qi, who managed to shatter his foes despite being outnumbered two men to one?”

Zhang Ji, a warrior by trade, always had a natural inclination towards combat. His intoxication made him especially obstinate in his position. Still, Zhong Yao sought to mitigate his hubris.

“As informative as historical examples may be, we are still living in unprecedented times. One man’s friend today may be his enemy tomorrow, and we do not how depraved or treacherous our foes are. Please, at least take a company of men, lest some tragedy befall you,” appealed Zhong Yao.

Zhang Ji assented, and readied three thousand men before exiting Longxi. They marched forward to meet their suspected relief, and once they were within a hundred feet, Zhang Ji shouted his salutations.

In response, Ma Teng said nothing, but waved and bade a messenger to deliver a parcel to Zhang Ji. Zhang Ji eagerly opened it, expecting wine or some trinket, but let out a cry of horror when he discovered that it was Yang Feng’s severed head in his hands.

As if on cue, war drums were beat and Ma Teng’s unit let out a thunderous war cry, before charging forward. Zhang Ji finally realized that Zhong Yao’s prognostication was true, and ordered an immediate retreat into the city. However, as soon as he did that, five hundred cavalry were there on either side to flank his unit.

Zhang Ji did his best to keep his troops resolute and muster a fight, but his green Yong men could not muster a challenge to the crack Xiliang cavalry. In less than an hour, his unit broke rank and was thrown into disarray. He led a small entourage of men to reenter the city, but was accosted by Ma Chao and killed.

Zhang Ji’s scouts saw first-hand the bloodbath that occurred outside the city, and were quick to alert its inhabitants. Panic quickly set in, and those in charge of manning the gates deserted. Ma Teng gave pursuit and sought to occupy the city. He was only met with petty resistance by the residual army, which was quick to either surrender or retreat. Longxi was pacified within a few hours.

Some petty officers who were remained loyal to Niu Fu were executed without ceremony, but the rest were presented before Ma Teng for interview. One such officer was Zhong Yao.
Ma Teng asked of him, “Being in league with traitors such as Niu Fu is a severe offense. What qualities do you possess that would redeem such a crime?”

Zhong Yao merely bowed his head. “I am a man of meager insight and superlative frailty. I have nothing to offer,” he said. However, a fellow captive quickly spoke up, despite still being bound. “Zhong Yao’s only crime is modesty. He saw through your ploy and cautioned Zhang Ji not to exit the city,” he said.

“It sounds like this Zhong Yao is a perceptive individual, even if his talents were being used towards wicked ends. Still, we cannot have him fall back into the hands of the enemy,” he said. Thus, he placed Zhong Yao under arrest but pardoned him from execution.

Longxi had a bloody but quick transfer of power, and before the end of the second watch, combat had ceased. With the lift of the siege, the civilian populace enjoyed its most serene sleep in weeks. Ma Teng held an impromptu feast, where he enjoyed a libation with even the impressed Longxi troops, and heaped praise upon his son Ma Chao.

Two days later, news of the fall of Longxi and Zhang Ji’s demise reached Li Jue’s ears, by way of messenger. Li Jue turned towards Fan Chou in disgust.

“That impotent Zhang Ji was unable to withstand Ma Teng’s forces. It now seems to be an inevitability that Ma Teng should attack us, and now can do so without reprisal from his left flank. What should we do?” he asked.

“Zhang Ji stayed put and was drowned like a rat in a box. We still have twenty-three thousand troops to our name. Impart nearly all of those to me, and I will do my utmost to vanquish those villains. As a Liang native, I know the land better than most,” he said.

Li Jue agreed, and sent Fan Chou westwards with a company of nearly twenty-two thousand men, leaving a minimal garrison to guard Nanan. Indubitably, Fan Chou’s host collided with Ma Teng, whose army was heading in the opposite direction. Ma Teng rode to the fore, jeering across towards Fan Chou.

“Rebel! Why do you march at your own countrymen for the sake of a bloated tyrant? Don’t you know that his entrails are fecundating the soil in Chang’an?” said Ma Teng.

Fan Chou said nothing, but merely ordered that his army charge straight forward towards Ma Teng’s, who reciprocated. Though numerically their equal, Fan Chou’s forces were far less experienced and equipped than Ma Teng’s, who quickly overwhelmed them. Fan Chou called a retreat, running head long to Nanan.

Li Jue was gravely disappointed. “Ma Teng has embarrassed us thus far, reduced our ranks, and is bearing down on this city. What do we do now?” he asked, looking upon Fan Chou with strong disdain. “Ma Teng was not pursuing us too vigorously when we ran. Perhaps we have enough time to raid the city and run to Shanxi?”

Though disgruntled, Li Jue agreed. He ordered their remaining cohort to confiscate anything of discernible value in the city, before retreating east towards Shanxi. Ma Teng’s army walked into Nanan and were welcomed as heroes. Meanwhile, Li Jue and Fan Chou had their men running towards Shanxi, their numbers thinning whether by exhaustion, starvation, or dejection. Still, they had a force of ten thousand to their name when they arrived at Shanxi.

Niu Fu was apoplectic when he learned of the defeats in Yong. “Our forces get obliterated while on expedition, and the first messenger at my gates is Li Jue himself?” he exclaimed.

Li Jue’s men met naught but despair
At Shanxi’s gate, how would they fare?

Would Niu Fu grant Li Jue entry to the city?
5  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of TNF on: June 14, 2017, 10:18:39 pm
It's funny how both forums are so defensive of Gully, I got 23 dislikes on AAD for posting this asking if you ever liked a Gully post.

No, I basically refuse to ever do so on principle. I read one I was going to until I saw that he posted it, so I didn't.

Gully Foyle could post "Guy Picciotto is the greatest musician and lyricist of all time, and is to music what opebo was to the Atlas Forum. I've taken up playing Ingress while listening to his bands, which has caused me to have a rather spiritual experience and I have accepted Jesus Christ. I'm now going to found a hipster church in Dublin and trash tradition and get hordes of youngs to reject cultural religious identity in favor of Jesus...and join my Resistance clan in Ingress as well."...and I'd still probably hit dislike.

I think the dislikes have less to do with our supposed predilection towards Gully Foyle and more to do with the deranged sentiment expressed in that post.

If Gully is going to take up that much space in your head, then you ought to at least start charging him rent.
6  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of TNF on: June 14, 2017, 06:06:03 pm

Don't you have your own board for this fam
7  About this Site / How To / Re: How To FAQ on: June 14, 2017, 05:43:46 pm
- How do I delete my account?

This is the easiest. You can not delete your own account. Past users have gotten their account terminated by Dave, but that would require contacting him personally. There is no guarantee that he would follow through with such a request.

- How do I create/post maps?

One way to create an election map similar to the fifty-state ones strewn about the forum is to click on the button in the site's header. This page has a vast array of options, such as: having up to four candidates, percentage shades, and even going back to the year 1836!

Additionally, some people have posted state-based county maps or maps of municipal elections. Unfortunately, there is no web-based editing tool on this site, and those must be made via Paint or a similar application.

You must have at least 25 posts to post an image.

(will edit this more later)
8  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: June 08, 2017, 11:00:11 pm
For reference:

Ma Teng
Niu Fu
Wang Yun (Emperor Xian)
Liu Biao
Liu Yan
Yuan Shu
Cao Cao
Tao Qian
Yuan Shao
Gongsun Zan
9  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: June 07, 2017, 01:53:56 am
Damn, how could I overlooked this? Great job, man.

Thank you! I appreciate your appraisal.

I haven't posted anything that I had casually written in awhile; it's reassuring to hear from my peers that I've still "got it," even if the subject matter and writing style is a bit removed from my other projects on here.

Going on a bit of an assumption here: since you haven't read the Three Kingdoms novels, is there anything in particular that jumps out at you here?
10  General Discussion / Alternative History / Re: With a Little bit of Lenience on: June 06, 2017, 01:31:26 am
Chapter 3: Xu Huang And Ma Chao Fight To A Draw, Niu Chen Instigates Division (191 AD)

Everyone’s eyes turned to the speaker. He was a man who stood at nearly eight spans tall, adorning a thick breastplate on his chest and a turban aloft his head. A long axe was affixed to his back, which he was quite proficient with in battle. This man was Xu Huang.

Xu Huang had been a trusted deputy of Yang Feng’s for several years. The two had originally met as members of the White Wave – an offshoot group from the Yellow Turbans. Nonetheless, Yang Feng trusted Xu Huang as his most capable warrior, and assented to his request. “If you are willing to go, then very well. We will be preparing spiced wine in anticipation of your return,” said Yang Feng.

Xu Huang nodded, and rode out to meet Ma Chao’s force with a company of several thousand men. When the two happened upon each other, Xu Huang was at the fore of his entourage. He stared across the field at Ma Chao, brandishing his battle axe.

“Ma Chao! Your father and Han Sui have long had a penchant for collusion with the barbarians of the West. Your army once fought in the name of liberating the Emperor, but now that he is weak, you invite foreign hordes to descend upon his palace. How do you pardon such behavior?” he jeered.

“I don’t deign to learn your name, but you are in the service of Dong Zhuo’s remnants. Who are you to accuse me of rebellion?” he shot back. Without waiting for a response, Ma Chao stirred his steed into action. Xu Huang reciprocated, and the two met for nearly a hundred bouts, with neither getting the better of each other. Both warriors rode back to their respective camps.

“I don’t know who that miscreant is, but he fights valiantly, despite being of a mean background,” said a frustrated Ma Chao. Despite this news, Ma Teng smiled. “My son, you have displayed your mettle in distinguished fashion. Even if you merely stall the invading forces, it will be a victory as long as the siege holds,” he said.

Meanwhile, Xu Huang had returned to his general, Yang Feng, expressing frustration. “That Ma Chao is a damnable sort, but I cannot seem to get the better of him,” he lamented.

Yang Feng turned towards his staff for counsel. “What would be the best course of action to take?” he asked. Niu Chen, an advisor and younger cousin of Niu Fu, said, “As an individual, his might may be equal to that of Lu Bu. However, no man can muster enough strength to quell an army. We should launch a full assault, overwhelm the green Ma Chao, and catch Ma Teng by surprise. When our allies in Longxi see the fighting, they will sally and we can crush them in a vise.”

Xu Huang was quick to disagree. “That plan won’t work. Our unit may be equal to Ma Chao’s in flesh, but not in spirit. Our twelve-thousand are mostly young men, pressed into service with little commitment or experience. Meanwhile, the enemy hail from Xiliang, a place teeming with conflict, and men are hardened before they leave the womb. It may be a slaughter,” he said.

Yang Feng felt unsure. “The trepidation of combat can wear on the mind. Better that we get some sleep and awake with a fresh perspective,” he said. But Niu Chen rose from his seat, desperate for Yang Feng’s ear once more. “Indecision would be a fitting epitaph on the graves of many men who have failed. To merely idle here would be as meek of a response as Xu Huang’s effort against Ma Chao. Rather, we should attack immediately and catch the enemy by surprise,” he said.

Xu Huang was incensed by Niu Chen’s insult. He rose from his seat, elbows cocked and fists clenched. “You would dare sit here in the comfort of this tent, demeaning good men and offering poor counsel?” he bellowed.

Several men rose up to suppress Xu Huang, and Niu Chen recoiled in fear. “General, this man speaks to drive us toward complacency and wane our morale. Now he is threatening your staff. In times like these, allegiances are as uncertain as next decade’s harvest. Better to place Xu Huang under arrest in case he is colluding with the enemy,” he said, trying to suppress his tremors.

Yang Feng acceded and had Xu Huang bound. Xu Huang berated Niu Chen as he was hoisted away.

However, Yang Feng was reluctant to heed the advice about ambushing Ma Chao’s force at night. He adjourned the meeting, sending everybody to bed and commanding they reconvene at sunrise. When they did, Yang Feng was amount his horse and dressed in full battle garb.
“We are going to march on Ma Chao’s encampment with our whole host. If Heaven is on our side, then I trust that we will persevere to victory,” he said. After twenty minutes of notice, nearly the entirety of Yang Feng’s force was in formation, save for the bare minimum needed to supervise the camp. He headed up the van as they marched, with young boys beating drums and gongs to bolster morale.

The commotion quickly alerted Ma Chao, who readied a platoon of his own men and rode forth to meet Yang Feng. “I see the vagrant from yesterday is too ashamed to show his face once more! No matter, I am still willing to fight,” he taunted.

Yang Feng said nothing, and the two rode out to meet each other in combat. However, after six bouts, Yang Feng could see that he was no match for Ma Chao. He hurried back to his army, who charged forth. They fought with the Xiliang troops for an hour, but once it became apparent that they were decidedly losing, Yang Feng called a retreat. Ma Chao gave pursuit, but stopped just a mile away from Yang Feng’s camp.

Ma Chao spoke with his deputies for further advice. “We seem to be on the cusp of victory, but Dong Zhuo’s cohort are known for their guile and deceit. What ought our next move be?” he asked.

As if on cue, one man cleared his throat and stepped forward. “Yang Feng’s posse are in disarray. If you were to give me a thousand men, then we make them scatter like flies from a furnace,” said a deep voice. It belonged to a man in possession of a prominent goatee, with a chest like a bear’s and skin bronzed by the sun. This was Pang De.

Ma Chao was reassured by this advice. “Very well. I will give you a thousand men – be sure to take prisoner as many of the enemy as you can,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yang Feng hastily gathered his advisors once more in search of counsel. “We were no match for the men at Xiliang, and were beaten handily. Breaking the siege of Longxi seems impossible now,” he said.

Niu Chen spoke once more. “Our allies are not far from here. Perhaps we could seek refuge with Li Jue?” he suggested. However, as soon as he finished speaking, a foot soldier barreled into the tent. “Yang Feng! Ma Chao is invading our camp as we speak!” he bleated. Without a word, Yang Feng ran out only to see that Xiliang troops were ransacking the encampment. Those who lacked the foresight to surrender were promptly run through, and many tents had been set ablaze. Nearly all of his men were rendered invalid, by death or retreat.

He ran back into the tent. “Our whole unit has been panicked and lost their cohesion. There’s no chance of mounting a defense now. Ma Chao is going to eat us alive,” he said.

Niu Chen sought to dissuade Yang Feng. “General, it may not be too late. As evinced by the sound of combat outside these flaps, we have enough of a residual force to orchestrate a retreat. I ask that you give combat yourself, while I buy time to gather a force so we can have a coherent retreat,” he said.

Yang Feng concurred. Having still been in battle garb, he impetuously rushed forward into combat, but was quickly wounded and taken into custody. Eventually, all who had survived the assault were taken into captivity and those who were regarded as prominent were presented before Ma Chao; specifically, Yang Feng, Niu Chen, and Xu Huang. Each were bound and gagged.

Niu Chen was the first man presented before Ma Chao. Pang De said in his assessment, “Many of whom we have taken prisoner gave a poor appraisal of Niu Chen. They said he was conniving and duplicitous. When we captured him, he was caught trying to abscond with the camp’s reserve funds,” he said. Ma Chao looked upon Niu Chen with disdain.

“There is no place for him on Earth, let alone in our army. Execute him at once, and distribute the confiscated funds amongst the locals,” said Ma Chao. Niu Chen wept and caterwauled appeals through his gag, but it was to no avail.

The second man presented to Ma Chao was Yang Feng. Pang De said, “This is Yang Feng, leader of the enemy unit. He was captured while trying to stand athwart the might of hundreds,” said Pang De. “Such bravery is commendable. However, he has been affiliated with both the Yellow Scarves and Dong Zhuo’s cohort in the past, making him doubly guilty of treason. We cannot accommodate such a man into our force,” said Ma Chao.

Yang Feng did not shed a tear while being carried off for execution.

The last man presented to Ma Chao was Xu Huang. Pang De seemed to be at a loss for words. “I do not know who this man is, but he purportedly was jailed for contradicting Niu Chen,” he said. Ma Chao’s brows perked up once he recognized the man. “Untie this man promptly!” he commanded. His troops obliged, and released Xu Huang from his bonds.

Ma Chao stared Xu Huang square in the eyes. “Are you not the same man that I fought to a draw just a few days ago?” he asked. Xu Huang silently nodded in agreement. “What is your name?” asked Ma Chao. “I am Xu Huang, formerly of the White Wave. If I am going to be executed, then I would ask that we forego most formalities,” he said.

Ma Chao was of a different opinion. “Xu Huang, you are the only man to match me in a duel. Furthermore, they say you had the wisdom to contradict Niu Chen, who turned out to be a traitor. I think that your valor and foresight would prove to be an invaluable asset to our forces. What say you?” he asked.

Ma Chao has an offer in hand,
To a prisoner who can't demand

Would Xu Huang accept his offer?
11  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / Non Swing Voter vs Tony Hawk's Pro Skater on: January 11, 2017, 01:25:45 am
12  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: January 11, 2017, 01:04:32 am
Sifting the Afterbirth: 1991

The table of four spent the next few hours negotiating the details of the bill and possible areas of compromise. Scott Westman remained wary of the bill’s raison d'etre, but Lawrence Coventry gradually sapped his resolve by plying him with a steady blend of flattery, token concessions, and a voluminous supply of alcohol. Eventually, Scott’s obstinance toward the bill relented, and he agreed to put his vote toward it in the Senate. “You guys just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer… fine. I might as well vote for it at this point,” said Scott Westman, who was so drunk that mere sentences seemed like tire drills for his brain. Lawrence arranged for a taxi for the Senator as he paid the tab that the table ran up.

Abimelech Delroy was aghast as the waiter read the tab out loud and Lawrence Coventry nonchalantly wrote out a check. “Are you out of your mind? Surely Thad and I could put some money towards that,” said Abimelech. Lawrence smiled and shook his head. “Nonsense. Tonight, I walk out with Scott Westman’s support in hand. That renders this expenditure a trivial matter; Scoop Jackson’s administration would have to pay millions for the political dividends we reaped,” he said. With that, the three of them parted ways, sober enough to do so of their own recognizance.

Over the next few weeks, Lawrence Coventry ushered the healthcare proposal through the Senate by what seemed like sleight of hand. Thad O’Connor was diligent in his role as Senator and had spent much time arguing on behalf of bills, but never did he see such a transformative and controversial piece of legislation move through the chamber so quickly. It almost seemed as if many members of the body had been caught off guard. Nevertheless, it managed to make its way toward Areus Ho’kee’s desk for a prompt signature.

The day after its passage, Thad received a summons to Areus’ basement lounge for celebration. He would have been hard pressed to find an excuse not to attend since he lived in the same building, but as a friend and supporter he was excited to be in attendance. As he walked down the stairs, he noticed it was the same exclusive crowd: Lawrence Coventry, Abimelech Delroy, and Ericson Snell, but this time there was the conspicuous inclusion of Scott Westman.

Since the initial backlash to his proposal, Areus Ho’kee had been a scarce sight in the building, even for Thad O’Connor. When they did interact, he seemed pessimistic and gravely serious. It would have been easy to attribute that change in demeanor to a heightened security environment since his ascension to the Presidency, but he had still been in good spirits during the first year of his term. Now that his bill had been shepherded through the Senate, he was as exuberant as a freshly-adopted child; no sooner did Thad make his way into the lobby than did he find the President’s arms around his shoulders.

Areus Ho’kee was as quick to withdraw from his embrace as he was to hug in the first place, rushing back to the middle of the room to resume his status as the center of attention. He stood on top of a table in the middle of the room, triumphantly holding a bottle of wine aloft his head as he issued a proclamation. “The reactionary Democratic Party did their best to obfuscate the dialogue around this issue, but such efforts were futile. This is unprecedented, but we actually mustered the votes necessary to kill a modern Democratic entitlement program. I must say that I owe thanks to all involved in this room,” said Areus.

Areus Ho’kee led the room to applause, but one man rose up from his seat and vociferously disrupted the rhythm before it had started. It was Scott Westman. “Just because I voted for your bill doesn’t mean I’m going to toast, much less applaud your ballyhoo for killing the welfare state!” he exclaimed. Eric Snell, who was usually considered to be too austere and reticent, was quick to counter with his own outburst. “You may as well return the handshake that you received from Prudence and walk back out the door, if that’s how you’re going to conduct yourself,” he exclaimed, as he emphatically pointed towards the stairs.

Areus leapt down from the table and interjected himself between the two, holding his arms out in a symbolic gesture to diffuse the situation. “The time to display this sort of flair is on the floor of Congress, not after the fact. We are only here to celebrate an accomplishment, not argue over the semantics that got it passed,” he said. Eric Snell refused to relent, and continued his diatribe. “Why is it that you pine for the allegiance of this libertine, who remains loyal to the Democrats despite your persistent overtures and their electoral short comings?

Even as we stand here in revelry of this accomplishment, he would argue with you until his face is as red as the wine that he drinks due to your hospitality. But despite all of that, half of our own caucus in the Senate can’t get so much as a meeting with you,” said Eric. Areus Ho’kee took a stiff drink, before smirking and gnawing his lip. “You imply that we pay too much attention to wooing Senate Democrats, at the expense of Senate Republicans, even though the latter voted almost unanimously in favor of this legislation. I’m not too concerned about their loyalty for the determinate future. As for Scott’s outburst…” President Ho’kee paused for a second, shifting his eyes to gaze into Scott Westman’s.

 “Perhaps the Zin is getting the better of him, and we shouldn’t hold him responsible for that. He needs more practice in our midst,” he joked. The room chuckled, and Scott Westman seemed to stay his temper. “I jest, but perhaps you should spend more time around us. I know you’re a man of leisure, and would feel at home around here,” said Areus. Scott Westman grinned and took a lengthy drink of wine. His eyes darted toward Lawrence’s, and then Thad’s, as if in search of security, before settling back on Areus’. “Well, this is a pretty lavish place you’ve got here. But at the end of the day, I’m still a Democrat. I don’t want to convey the wrong image by frequenting this place. I also don’t want my welcome here to be contingent on support for your proposals. I don’t mean to act ungrateful, but it might be inappropriate to hang around here too much,” said Westman.

“To paraphrase, your concern is that spending too much time with me would resemble ‘fraternization with the enemy,’ or so to speak,” said Areus, as he began to pace away from Westman. He reached the opposite end of the room, before pivoting back towards the group and pointing his finger towards the ceiling, as if to say “Eureka!” “That’s one way of looking at it, but perhaps the wrong one,” he said as he walked back. Scott Westman burrowed his chin into his hand, with a vexed look on his face.

“Right now, your Democratic Party is as united as the Warring States of China. It has no leader, and its only surviving former President was never elected to the office. You guys are significantly in the minority in Congress. Both a Bay Area cosmopolitan and a Mississippi hick are vying for its nomination. The list of facts goes on, but it’s obvious that there’s a lack of direction. I was beset by similar circumstances when I began working my way towards the Speakership: our party was reeling from a landslide loss and leadership roles were up for grabs. But along the way, I had to break the mold that my party had gotten accustomed to.

While not as extreme, your party looks to be at a similar impasse. Now would be a prime opportunity to establish yourself as a visionary and set a template for your party in the future, by reconfiguring the debate on certain issues in negotiations with me. An added benefit would be that you would get to dilute the gist of my proposals and we could both smile under the guise of bipartisanship,” said Areus. At this point, he had made his way back and was replenishing his glass. He took another sip, before looking back towards Scott Westman.

“Besides, even if all of that doesn’t pass muster with you, I’ve heard you’re fun to party with,” he finished.  The room laughed.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / Zioneer vs Lunchables All-Stars on: January 07, 2017, 02:24:49 am
14  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: January 07, 2017, 01:56:13 am
TIME – A Bill of Health
March 15th, 1991

Congress Ramrods the President’s Proposal

It was just over a month ago that President Ho’kee had announced a vague plan to alter the existing government institutions for healthcare. Few people, if any, realized that a fully furnished proposal would not only have been drafted, but also already passed by the Senate by the time of this publication. The former regime of care, which had endured twenty years of tumultuous political times, was abruptly upended by a Senate vote of 58-38-4.

The text of Skinner-Crenshaw certainly strikes an interesting compromise. Some features of the bill are a rollback of health insurance regulations, abolition of Medicare, and a reduction in FICA, all of which are obvious placations to his own Republican Party. Given the political disposition of the President, these were likely amongst his objectives anyway. However, each piece of proverbial red meat for his party had in it a bone: also included in the bill were expansions on Medicaid eligibility, a one-dollar federal cigarette tax, and $30 million in funding towards AIDS research and “Preventative Distribution Centers.”

The last portion may be the bitterest pill for conservatives to swallow. The Preventative Distribution Centers are federally funded agencies in major metropolitan areas to distribute contraceptives and clean syringes. Despite that taboo, Republican Senators voted almost unanimously in favor of the bill, including Bill Armstrong, who is considered a bannerman of the informal conservative caucus that has been estranged from the President. Not all were in favor, however: conspicuously abstaining were Senators Strom Thurmond and Paul Laxalt. The latter said, “The President is advocating this bill under the guise of reducing federal programs, despite the fact that it increases Medicaid outlays and subsidizes the degenerate behavior that is literally infecting people. I can’t support it.” Although few, there were notable Democratic defections in George McGovern and Scott Westman, both considered adherents of the “New Left.”

It remains to be seen how the American public digests the Skinner-Crenshaw Act. The lack of a public campaign for the proposal was antithetical to the modus operandi that President Ho’kee had applied to his past political initiatives, such as the Green America Act, or nearly any initiative that he had spearheaded as Speaker. Despite the fleeting amount of media coverage that the bill had, polls showed that 58% of the public disapproved of it, indicating that the Senate can belie the general will even when it has a strong consensus. Purportedly, Senator Patton Wyde had attempted to organize a filibuster, but was unable to do so both because of the gusto of the presiding officer and a deficit of enthusiasm amongst his own party.


Aye: Ted Stevens (R-AK), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Pete McCloskey (R-CA), Ed Zschau (R-CA), Gary Hart (D-CO), Bill Armstrong (R-CO), Lowell Weicker (R-CT), Chris Shays (R-CT), William Roth (R-DE), Orval Smylie (R-ID), George Hansen (WMP-ID), Jim Edgar (R-IL), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Frederic Reid (R-IA), Jim Leach (R-IA), Bob Dole (R-KS), Mike Foster (D-LA), Thad O’Connor (R-ME), Ralph Stevenson (R-ME), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), William Weld (R-MA), Mic Ceriel (R-MI), William Milliken (R-MI), David Durenburger (R-MN), Richard Akers (R-MN), John Danforth (R-MO), Scott Westman (D-MT), Helen Brisco (R-MT), Charles Thone (R-NE), Chic Hect (R-NV), Maurice Murphy (R-NH), Restique Skinner (R-NH), Thomas Kean (R-NJ), Millicent Fenwick (R-NJ), David Cargo (R-NM), Bart Novak (R-NM), Hamilton Fish (R-NY), Al Green (R-NY), Mark Andrews (R-ND), Warren Ford (R-ND), Victor Atiyeh (R-OR), Mark Hatfield (R-OR), John Heinz (R-PA), John Chafee (R-RI), George McGovern (D-SD), Larry Pressler (R-SD), James Garner (R-TX), Jake Garn (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Lawrence Coventry (R-VT), Margaret Garland (R-VT), Marshall Coleman (R-VA), Santiago St. Avila (R-WA), Jasper Morrill (R-WA), Steve Gunderson (R-WI), Herb Kohl (R-WI), Malcolm Wallop (R-WY), Alan Simpson (R-WY) (58)

Nay: Howell Heflin (D-AL), Clark Gruening (D-AK), David Pryor (D-AR), Dale Bumpers (D-AR), Joe Biden (D-DE), Lawton Chiles (D-FL), Richard McPherson (D-FL), Sam Nunn (D-GA), John Russell (D-GA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Spark Matsunaga (D-HI), Alex Seith (D-IL), Floyd Fithian (D-IN), Joan Finney (D-KS), Walter Huddleston (D-KY), Wendell Ford (D-KY), Bennett Johnston Jr (D-LA), Clarence Long (D-MD), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Gillespie Montgomery (D-MS), Patton Wyde (D-MS), Thomas Eagleton (D-MO), James Exon (D-NE), Robert Morgan (D-NC), John Ingram (D-NC), John Glenn (D-OH), James Traficant (D-OH), David Boren (D-OK), Wes Watkins (D-OK), John Murtha (D-PA), Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Marilyn Lloyd (D-TN), Jim Sasser (D-TN), Dolph Briscoe (D-TX), Andrew Miller (D-VA), Jennings Randolph (D-WV), Robert Byrd (D-WV), (38)

Abstain: Jefferson Dent (R-AL), Bob Stump (D-AZ), Paul Laxalt (R-NV), Strom Thurmond (R-SC) (4)
15  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / ReaganClinton20XX vs December 2009 Senate Election on: December 29, 2016, 07:30:03 pm
16  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / NeverAgain vs Sprite Remix on: December 29, 2016, 05:26:58 pm
17  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / PAK Man vs 1988 Miami Dolphins Defense on: December 28, 2016, 06:15:23 pm
PAK Man vs 1988 Miami Dolphins Defense
18  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / Santander vs Battle of the Somme on: December 28, 2016, 05:56:35 pm
19  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: November 24, 2016, 02:14:22 am
Opal: 1991

Lawrence Coventry smiled at Thad’s suggestion. “I think that would be a capital idea, Thad. Tomorrow I’ll arrange for the three of us to meet with him as soon as is convenient,” said Lawrence. Thad felt some discomfort at the notion of all three of them meeting with Scott Westman, for fear of overwhelming him with numbers. “Lawrence, you are the Senate Majority leader, and Abimelech is mayor of New York. Neither of you have a want for responsibilities, while I enjoyed quite a good rapport with Scott in the past, to the point where I was lodging with him. Would it not be more expeditious for just the two of us to meet? I think I could persuade him by myself,” he asked.

Lawrence finished his second glass of wine with two prodigious gulps, before wiping his mouth and staining his cufflink in the process. Undaunted by that, he dismissed Thad’s suggestion. “No. I understand that you get on well with Scott, but obtaining his support for this bill may require concessions that you cannot make. As Senate Majority Leader, I’m better equipped to reach a deal with him as quickly as possible,” said Lawrence. Thad was dismayed. “Haste isn’t my only reasoning for butting in.

Perhaps the biggest hindrance to this whole endeavor has been the frosting of the relationship between the President and the Speaker: Areus was too haughty when he unveiled this, Ericson has been too obstinate to advocate it with any gusto, and seldom do they speak with each other. We can’t afford any further mistakes simply because of poor communication between the three of us, and should remain on the same page. After all, Abimelech has his eyes toward federal office in the near future, and we would do well to initiate him to this process,” said Lawrence.

Thad gave an obsequious nod, and the three of them soon parted ways for the night. For Lawrence and Abimelech, it meant absconding to their nooks in the capital city, whether by apartment or hotel, but for Thad O’Connor it meant returning to the same building where he bore witness to bedlam a few hours ago. As he descended up the stairs to the front door he feared rejection by security, but was welcomed in as usual and rushed toward his bedroom to sleep.

The next morning Thad O’Connor awoke to the din of knuckles berating the finish of his bedroom door. He groggily rushed out of bed and opened the door, only to see Lawrence Coventry. “Good news, Thad. Scott Westman found time to speak with us. I trust that you can make it today?” he asked. Thad merely nodded, and the two of them embarked to the Drunken Dutchman. As they breached the double doors of the establishment, it took mere seconds before Abimelech Delroy and Scott Westman were in eyeshot, sitting at a table. They rushed to make their greetings and be seated.

As Thad O’Connor slid into his chair, he noticed that a cocktail of whiskey and cola had been fixed in anticipation of his arrival. He quaffed nearly half of it before proffering his hand to Scott Westman in salutation. “I haven’t seen you since last Spring, Scott. I trust you’ve been well?” asked Thad. “I’m doing alright, Thad,” said Westman, who wouldn’t deign to shake hands with him, but instead withdrew and folded his arms. While Scott Westman had accrued a reputation for being brash, he was often congenial towards Thad. This was the first time Thad O’Connor witnessed Scott Westman wear his arrogance on his sleeve even more conspicuously than he did his red hair on his shoulders.

No sooner did Thad O’Connor withdraw his own hand then did he see Lawrence’s reach forward to grab Scott Westman by the shoulder. “With all due respect, I invited you out here to enjoy free drinks with us, at no expense to you other than keep us company. We’re all people you know; hell, you even sponsored legislation with Thad O’Connor in the past. Why would you act so uncouth to any of us, let alone him?” asked Lawrence, with a strong tone of admonition in his voice.

“The only thing more discourteous than my snub of Thad was your invitation to me under the guise of shooting the sh**. It’s obvious that you three want to cajole me to your side and use me as a political prop to proclaim bipartisanship for your idea,” said Scott Westman. He took a hefty sip of whisky and surveyed the table once more, before continuing his diatribe: “Three Republicans and a Democrat walk into a bar. That sounds like the set-up to a joke, but here we are. How do I know I’m not just going to be a punchline?” he finished.

Lawrence Coventry took an inaugural sip from his glass, before setting it down and responding. “Senator Westman, by no means do we consider you a punchline. Yes, the purpose of this meeting is to negotiate the healthcare proposal, but that is precisely out of reverence for the stature that you have in the Senate. We value your input,” said Lawrence. Scott Westman pursed his lips, looking sternly across the table at Lawrence, but said nothing. Lawrence took another drink of wine in hopes of redoubling his confidence, and pressed forward.

“I understand that your party opposes this proposal, almost to a man. However, I would hearken back to the 1984 presidential election, where you crossed party lines and endorsed a Republican for the presidency. I would think back to the wake of the midterms two years later, where you caucused with Republicans to spite the Democratic leadership in the Senate. Both of those were instances where you prioritized the actual issues over tribalism. Won’t you hear us out on this?” Lawrence entreated.

Scott Westman remained obstinate. “In 1986, I voted Republican just because the Democratic leadership had its head up its own ass to the point where its foresight was mired by dung, and continued control would’ve actually been worse for us. In ’84, I endorsed Hatfield because he was an honest man, and was the immediate solution to stop a war we shouldn’t be fighting. Ho’kee has done the right thing on the war and some minor reforms, but I don’t want any complicity to him taking the knife to healthcare for the neediest of us,” he said.

Lawrence Coventry was undaunted by Westman’s response, and his resolve remained as steady as a glacier. “Perhaps I was mistaken. Just a few minutes ago, I was lauding your command over contemporary issues of the Senate, but you seem to be misinformed about what our proposal seeks to do. Perhaps you should be the one paying for drinks?” Lawrence jabbed. “All kidding aside, I disagree with your characterization of this proposal; we are not ‘knifing the neediest of us,’ if this passes.

What is true is that this proposal would slash overall government payouts on healthcare. However, that’s not going to be achieved by indiscriminate cuts in care. What this plan does is preserve the existing level of care for those receiving Medicaid benefits, in conjunction with repealing unnecessary regulations in order to make health insurance more affordable to those who do not qualify. When you consider the deficit that such programs have run, this is actually a measure towards protecting healthcare for the poor,” he finished.

Westman’s eyebrows were acutely raised, despite his previous skepticism. “That sounds like an interesting compromise, but what about the ramifications of this proposal for the elderly who rely on Medicare right now? I’m also a bit concerned about the example that it would set if Democrats started voting to repeal parts of the Great Society,” said Westman. “Under this proposal, federal healthcare would be insured without discrimination based on age. Those who qualify for Medicare tend to have the wherewithal to afford their own healthcare without government subsidies, and those who can’t would still be covered.

To your last point, this is an important area of intersection between the Mavericks and your own style of politics. Who cares that we would be repealing a part of the Great Society? It has been intact for about ten percent of our nation’s history, and that whole program was the brainchild of a man whose own intransigent bumbling led to his premature ouster from office; but not before he splintered your Democratic Party, and elevated Richard Nixon to the Presidency. There is no need to fetishize its existence, unless you’ve developed an ear for wistful appeals to tradition. It only serves to the benefit of the same sort of people who tend to vote against what you believe in, anyways,” responded Lawrence.

At the conclusion of Lawrence’s last verbal salvo, Scott Westman had gone from stubborn to simply being nonplussed. The table fell silent once more, and he stared at the middle of the table while seeing his glass of whisky to its end. Seeing that Westman was at a loss for thoughts, Lawrence resumed speaking. “Scott, the simple fact of the matter is that Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and this bill is more likely than not going to pass in some form.

If you are concerned about its implications on policy, then your best route would be to work with us and amend it. The Democratic Party is going to have an important presidential primary next year, and despite the fact that no campaign has begun in earnest, some of the divisions are glaring. As an established Senator, you would be setting an example for the future direction of your party if you were to bend the arc of this bill.

Besides, tossing your name in with our lot would do a lot to improve your standing with the President. I can’t promise any political favors, but the President throws quite the party,” said Lawrence. Finally, Scott Westman relented in his resistance. “Okay, you’ve got me to the table, but this better be worthwhile,” he said.
20  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: ERM64man needs to slow down on: November 23, 2016, 03:19:36 pm
Kal was far worse when he started.

The moderation culture was significantly more lax back then. Rochambeau's posting was unfettered, and both Kal (not trying to pick on you buddy) and Hamilton got away with numerous socks without reproach. Nowadays, socking is punished with a ban of some sort, even for first-time offenders.

But yes, he needs to slow down.
21  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: November 02, 2016, 02:12:56 am
Pearl: 1991

Lawrence hurriedly led the two down the hallway, and they managed to leave Areus’ estate unchecked, as not a single member of security batted an eye at them, much less say a word. As they exited the double doors, Abimelech broke from Lawrence’s embrace and stopped the two. “What are we doing right now?” he shakenly asked. While it hadn’t shown in Areus’ conference room, he was rattled by what had transpired.

Lawrence smiled and laid a hand on his shoulder. “My friend, we are going to a favorite watering hole of Thad and myself to mull the proposal we were just anguishing over a minute ago,” he said. The three walked for twenty minutes until they arrived at the Drunken Dutchman. As they walked through the doors, Thad noticed the bar was densely filled, but they managed to procure a table towards the fringes of the building. Due to the fact that Lawrence and Thad were distinguished customers, they had their drinks within minutes: whiskey on the rocks for Thad, a sweet red wine for Lawrence, and a vodka martini for Abimelech.

After taking a hefty drink, Abimelech was the first to prompt conversation. “So, given how contentious things had just gotten, how do we mend relations between Areus and Ericson Snell’s caucus, and pass this legislation?” he asked. Lawrence arched his back and leaned against the wall, before responding. “The relationship between Areus and Ericson has been the weakest link between the three of us since his run for the Presidency, and has only gotten worse in the past year, due to differences of opinion and priority.

That being said, I was not entirely candid when speaking with Areus earlier. When I told the President that my caucus was ‘relatively favorable’ to the proposal, the truth is I can only guarantee that the Maverick corps will vote for it. I may have looked Ericson look like a person of bad faith in comparison,” he admitted. Abimelech Delroy gazed at him in bemusement. “Why would you throw Eric under the bus and distort Areus’ view on the conscience of Congress?” he asked.

“President Ho’kee has proven his acumen by making bold decisions in toxic climates, and has accrued tremendous political dividends from those. However, he is accustomed to pursuing national issues from the point of opposition, and has been out of his depth since he’s been in position to dictate the conversation. This was made clear today: you saw how angry he was towards a man miles away. Can you imagine how he’d have reacted if I had given him bad news in his presence?” Lawrence asked.

“I understand your aversion to making the President upset, given how visceral his reaction was, but what was there to gain by deceiving him? Perhaps an honest assessment of the bill’s fortunes may have induced him to abandon the endeavor altogether, and we could at least mitigate the backlash,” said Abimelech. Lawrence grinned, finishing his wine and laying his napkin across the table. “Abimelech, no landmark legislation has ever been passed without its advocates navigating some treacherous thoroughfares.

It is true that this proposal is controversial, but most of the damage to our political fortunes has already been incurred. To withdraw now would only signal weakness to those who oppose us, duplicity to those that support us, and vacillation to those yet to make up their minds. Besides, budgetary cuts are the strongest subject of agreement for Eric and Areus, and failure here would sap any harmony between the two,” said Lawrence.

As if on cue, their server rushed to the table, asking if the party wanted more refreshments. “We’ll each have another. The tab is on me tonight,” said Lawrence. The server abided, and promptly brought them more alcohol. After taking a substantial drink from his second cocktail, Thad resumed the conversation. “So how do we proceed, Lawrence?” he asked.

Lawrence took another drink and bit his knuckles before responding. “In a word: haste. Despite the onslaught that this idea has sustained, now is the most opportune time to pass it. We’re coming off of a successful midterm election, and the discourse of next year will be dominated by the presidential election. Voters are fickle and quick to forget. What cannot happen is that this bill languish on the floors of the House and Senate for months on end. Cuts to welfare programs are never popular, regardless of the political circumstances, and a protracted battle is one we lose,” finished Lawrence.

“If the circumstances are as dire as you augur, then how do we pass this with immediacy?” asked Thad. “Our first priority is to speak with Eric and convince him that our fortunes depend on this; he ought to be able to twist enough arms. Also, we should try to cajole a handful of Senate Democrats to our side. They still have a large enough voting bloc to sustain a filibuster, which would jeopardize everything. Besides, having even a token amount of Democratic support might confound their attempt to pillory this as a Republican scam,” he said.

Thad finished his drink, staring contemplatively at the wall. While the three successive elections after 1984 had yielded Republican gains in the Senate, it also saw the culling of veteran Democrats in exchange for younger, more pugnacious ones that favored populist politics, like John Murtha and James Traficant. After some deliberation, an old friend came to mind. Thad turned back to Lawrence and asked, “What about Scott Westman?” 
22  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: November 02, 2016, 02:08:58 am
Carbuncle: 1991

After a few hours of conversation, the quartet of O’Connor, Ho’kee, Delroy, and Coventry bade farewell to Ericson Snell and parted ways. Evidently, Ericson Snell hastily assented to the bill, as Areus Ho’kee was hosting a press conference on the matter within a week’s time. Thad O’Connor watched it live on a small television while at a bar: the President looked poised in explaining both the broad design and niceties of his legislation. Despite his eloquence, it was not digested well by the public, and support for the proposal was middling.

A fortnight went by before Thad received any form of correspondence from the President since his press conference, until he heard the distinct sound of knuckles rapping across his door. He opened it to see the diminutive form of a woman in a black pantsuit, with short brunette hair that featured bangs just above her eyes. “If you’re not preoccupied, the President would like to see you,” she squeaked. Thad O’Connor merely nodded. She turned about-face and hurried up the staircase, eventually leading Thad down a narrow hallway he had yet to see.

He arrived in front of a single door at the end, meeting up with Lawrence Coventry and Abimelech Delroy, each standing there taciturnly with their hands in their pockets and pursed lips, as if they were about to speak to the principal. The frail servant twisted the knob to open the door before she minced away, and the party of three shuffled through the door. Thad O’Connor was surprised as he walked into a room that was uncharacteristic of Areus Ho’kee’s preference.

While Hokee had typically liked large, decorated rooms, this one was no larger than ten feet by twelve and felt drab. The walls were painted an eggshell blue and completely devoid of any decoration, other than a small bookcase opposite of the entrance. President Ho’kee sat with his feet propped up on a wood desk, staring morosely out of the lone window in the room. As the trio entered, he gestured for them to sit down in the three chairs at their side of the desk.

As soon as they abided, Areus rose from his own and apprehensively paced back and forth for five minutes, before breaking the uncomfortable silence that soon pervaded the room. “This is a proposal that I’ve spent months crafting to perfection, both in its nuances and presentation. Despite that, it’s still volatile in the eyes of the populace. Lawrence, as the Senate Majority Leader, how would you estimate the roll call on this?” Areus asked.

“I can’t give any definitive numbers, but my caucus was relatively favorable to the proposal and most were willing to stake their electability on the line,” said Lawrence. Areus Ho’kee turned red in the face, grabbing a vase on the desk and pitching it towards a wall. “So he is trying to undermine me!” he exclaimed. Lawrence rushed from his chair and put both hands on the President’s shoulders. “What are you talking about?” he asked.

Areus turned his back away from Lawrence and stomped across the room. “When I asked your counterpart in the House to gauge support amongst his caucus, he was as reticent as a father eulogizing his own son, and told me he was unlikely to corral the votes needed for this bill’s passage. Yet, your forecast indicates that this should be passable,” he said, before setting his feet and facing the party of three.

“At the very onset, he had his misgivings about this proposal. Now that it has faced adversity and looks to be politically hazardous, he tells me that his own caucus does not support it. Is he merely being duplicitous about the conscience of the House and trying to discourage me out of spite?” Areus asked. At this point, he was still animated and breathing heavily.

While Thad O’Connor had faith in Ericson Snell’s loyalty, he was nonetheless shaken by the President’s tantrum. He and Abimelech Delroy glanced at each other with unease. However, Lawrence Coventry was quick to try and abate Areus’ temper. “Eric was a mainstay to our political success in the Eighties. It’s both inappropriate and hasty to asperse his loyalty at this juncture. Perhaps the reason there’s such disparate opinions between the two chambers is the nature of the office: only a third of the Senate is up for re-election this year, meaning many Republicans can vote for this and still use the fleeting memory of the electorate as subterfuge.

Eric’s chamber has no such luxury. Every member of his caucus is up for reelection every two years without fail, and most do not have the wherewithal to entrench themselves to the degree that Senators do. So, I believe Eric is sincere in his assertion that support for this amongst his colleagues is weak,” finished Lawrence.

Areus Ho’kee did not seem satisfied. “Two-year terms are not a novelty of my administration; they have existed every single year since the First Congress, and past governments have managed to find congruence when executing their agenda. Furthermore, I appropriated millions of dollars towards Ericson Snell for him to promote like-minded Representatives, and he found success to the tune of twenty freshmen Representatives in one cycle! How could he not have an adequate command over the party?” Areus asked.

Nobody could muster an answer to his last polemic. Everyone sat in silence, coping with their fear of Ho’kee’s wrath, and perhaps with fresh suspicions of Eric Snell’s allegiance. Areus stared out the window contemplatively for several minutes, before his eyes lit up and he turned back towards Lawrence. “What if Eric has more influence over the caucus than we give him credit for?” he asked.

Lawrence was hesitant. “What are you getting at, Areus?” he asked. “Speaker of the House is a position that lends itself to great sway over the members of the majority party, some of which he’s built a rapport with, and others he directly recruited. Perhaps he has been privately disparaging this idea in front of his fellow Representatives, sowing the seeds of disunion and forming his own ideological parish as a direct challenge to mine,” said Areus.

Thad O’Connor felt the color drain from his face at this point. Eric Snell and Areus Ho’kee had been two of the most influential people in his life, and now they were at odds with each other: either one was a conniving, opportunistic man motivated by spite, or the other was a paranoid, mercurial man too impulsive to be President. Regardless of which was true, he was resolved not to find out tonight, and suddenly rose from his chair. “Enough!” he exclaimed.

“Based on the testimony of Eric and Lawrence, it’s true that there is a noticeable gulf in opinion between their respective chambers. However, writing Eric off as a traitor at this juncture is both hasty and self-destructive. Negotiating this proposal with a skeptical Ericson Snell as Speaker may be tough, but I suspect it would worse with somebody either less competent or loyal. Perhaps it would be best if we spoke with him in person, instead of inferring the worst intentions from his distant communications,” said Thad.

At this point, Areus Ho’kee was breathing heavily, seeming spent from his earlier tantrum. “Okay. Go speak with Eric, and see if you can gain some insight on the divides within the House,” said Areus, as he dismissively gestured them to leave the room. All three men nimbly left Areus Ho’kee’s presence. They barely got out of earshot of the staff at the door when Lawrence embraced one man under each arm and confided in them. “Whatever your plans were tonight, I need you to cancel them, as the welfare of the nation hinges upon it,” he whispered. Neither man objected.
23  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: November 02, 2016, 02:01:23 am
February 23rd, 1991

President Ho’kee fields controversial Healthcare Bill

When delivering his State of the Union address, President Ho’kee promised that there would be “radical changes which none before have had the temerity to see through.” These speeches tend to have promises as weighty as helium and are quickly forgotten, but Ho’kee seems determined on seeing his to fruition. Two weeks ago, the President held a national press conference where he unveiled a proposal to massively overhaul the healthcare system of the United States.

While the details have yet to be finalized by Congress, the crux of the President’s proposal is the consolidation of both Medicaid and Medicare into one singular program that entails significant means-testing for its benefactors. Bundled with that are items that deregulate the health insurance industry to increase availability, but there is no band aid offered for the elderly that rely only on Medicare for their healthcare.

Without speaking to the merits of the proposal, the President has certainly kept to his promise of “radical changes,” as it’s been incendiary to both the political class in Washington and the voting public.  The President did well in articulating the proposal as a cost-cutting measure, but some in the Democratic Party were quick to flagellate it as an assault on the poor.

Help Wanted for Working Man’s Party

The stakes of the Working Man’s Party’s presidential nomination and its implications on the election may pale in comparison to the contest in the Democratic Party, but it still harbors angst amongst the Working Man’s Party’s bureaucracy and some of its more devout partisans. Four years ago, the party fielded Senator Paul Laxalt and exceeded any preliminary expectations, winning two states in the general election. However, Paul Laxalt will not be reprising his role in this current presidential election, saying he would rather run for reelection to the Senate.

Being less than a decade old, the Working Man’s Party does not have leadership with enough heft to tip the scales in favor of a nominee more palatable to the voting public. Despite courting Laxalt, who is widely celebrated amongst conservatives, his bid was nearly foiled by David Duke, a former Klansman and activist who hails from the furthest fringe of the Right. Unelected delegates made the difference in favor of Laxalt, and there were riots at the convention as Duke supporters cried chicanery.

Chairman Davis Griffith is hoping that Senator Bill Armstrong can be the polished, politically viable sequel to Laxalt’s dalliance with the WMP, and quickly enough to nip any extremist infiltration in the bud. While Paul Laxalt had distanced himself from Mark Hatfield and was antagonistic to President Ho’kee in Nevada politics, Bill Armstrong adopted a more muted approach, promising to work with the President while bending the arc of his agenda to be more favorable to the political persuasions of those like Laxalt and Griffith.

When asked, Senator Armstrong did not categorically reject the idea of a tryst with the Working Man’s Party. “While the President may have adopted some underhanded tactics during the primaries, he made no injury to me. His Presidency has not been perfect, but I am mindful of the alternative in the event of a rupture in the Republican Party. If he veers too far from the agreed upon goals of the Republicans, or ceases to execute the duties of President, then I may reconsider, but currently I would not run,” he told the media.

In the event that Bill Armstrong declines to carry the banner for the Working Man’s Party, Davis Griffith did not rule out the possibility of running to be the ticket’s nominee. While not as photogenic as President Ho’kee, he would still bring several assets to the ticket. As the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, his name may carry weight with Republican party officials who were shunted during Ho’kee’s gradual coup during the Eighties. Davis Griffith also enjoys the wealth and status of an oil magnate, which may not optically work well with the party’s name, but would allow him to mount a campaign without depleting party coffers.

Presidential Approval Ratings
February 19th, 1991
24  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: October 05, 2016, 01:32:41 am
Bargaining: 1991

All company in attendance at Areus Ho’kee’s estate the night after the midterms had imbibed quite a bit, even the typically austere Ericson Snell. Areus’ boastful claim that night to dissolve Medicare may have been divined from Snell’s own cortex, but all had written it off as spontaneous drunken bravado. The rest of the evening had been spent on half-hearted musings about each other’s personal lives, and prognostications of the political fortunes of the Mavericks. It would have been easy to write off Ho’kee’s claim as a booze-hued prevarication.

However, it was only days after that sojourn that Areus Ho’kee had made arrangements to speak with Thad O’Connor and Ericson Snell in person about the proposal. While the legislation had yet to be written, Areus elucidated to the two the paramount details of the proposal, and quickly persuaded them to support it. “Also, neither of you are to divulge any details of this proposal to anyone, not even Eric, until I give my assent,” said Areus.

Lawrence was confused. “Eric has been an ally of ours since the genesis of the Mavericks, and just days ago you were lavishing the trust that you had in him. Furthermore, with him as Speaker of the House, any legislation will perforce require his backing. Why not privy him to this plot as early as possible, and ensure that we have his cooperation, instead of speaking in strained whispers?” he asked.

“This is a political matter of paramount delicacy. Since the downfall of Republicans in the Thirties, the growth of welfare programs has been sustained and unabated. The few politicians in recent history who have proposed to reform or annul these programs are exiled to the political equivalent of Siberia. Unless we draft this perfectly, then it will be a calamity for me and all associated with me: namely, you two.

When I persuaded him to concede the Speakership to me, I promised that I would defer to him in fiscal matters such as these. While I love Eric and hold him in high esteem, I know that he relies far too much on the traditional conservative parlances that have led previous attempts to ruin. If he were to learn that I was designing this without his inclusion, he would view me as duplicitous and our relationship would be parlous. Therefore, this proposal cannot travel from your ears to your lips, and must remain a secret. Do you agree?” asked Areus. Thad and Lawrence nervously glanced toward each other, before nodding. Areus bade the two farewell and they parted ways.

It wasn’t until after Areus Ho’kee delivered the 1991 State of the Union speech that Thad O’Connor received a follow-up on the matter of Ho’kee’s haughty promise to overhaul Medicare, in the form of a letter slid under his bedroom door. It read, “Dear Thad, I appreciate your patience and restraint concerning the matter of healthcare reform. The proposal that I alluded to is finished, and only needs Eric’s consent to pass. Your presence will be crucial in swaying his opinion, and I hope that you can attend this meeting at his abode.”

Enclosed in the letter was an itinerary detailing the location and date of their rendezvous. Thad O’Connor travelled to the outskirts of the capital, until he came upon a tall white Victorian house, where Areus Ho’kee, Abimelech Delroy, and Lawrence Coventry waited at the door. Thad rushed towards them and quickly made his obeisance.  Areus Ho’kee grinned, clasping a manila folder and a bottle of wine in his left hand. “Glad that you could make it, Thad. Your presence today should help assuage any misgivings that Eric may have about this proposal,” he said, as he turned the knob and the party entered Eric’s abode.

The first room they walked into was an expansive den, as they treaded on a white plush carpet. On the left corner of the room was a staircase, while on the right side was a cluster of beige couches clustered around a table, one of which cradled Eric Snell, who waved and gestured for them to sit. “Welcome! I’m glad that we could enjoy a meeting at my own estate. The President is celebrated for his hospitality, but I think I am within my means to entertain as well,” said Eric.

Everybody rushed to be seated, and Areus’ manila folder was as quick to leave his hand as his greetings were to leave his mouth. “Good to see you, Eric. As promised, I’ve got a proposal that abolishes Medicare. At the expense of formalities, I’d like you to read this summary of it before we get mired in small-talk,” said Areus, as he proffered the manila folder to Eric. He opened the envelope and spent over ten minutes reading the proposal from start to finish. Nobody in company uttered a word while he did so.

Eric finally removed his eyes from his lap and stared dourly at Areus. “I’m grateful that you’re honoring your end of our agreement and working towards a retraction of the welfare state. However, I’m not comfortable with this specific proposal and would be hard pressed to support it,” said Eric. Areus’ countenance went from wide-eyed optimism to a scowl of disdain. “What do you find wrong with this bill?” he asked.

“As a Maverick, I have always thought of cutting entitlement programs as the apex of our political priorities, but this proposal is rife with hazards. The Democratic Party is listless and without vision right now, but it was only a decade ago that they were able to portray Republicans as Brahmins who were indifferent to the financial hardship of ham and eggers, due to their support of the Kemp-Roth Act. Do you think that the imagery of pushing the elderly out of hospital beds and stealing their food would be more becoming of us?

The elderly are the demographic most likely to vote, precisely because of their reliance on federal benefits and the advocacy groups predicated on those benefits. This proposal would be low-hanging fruit for any shrewd Democratic politician to not only rally their own perfidious party around, but potentially make inroads with older voters and put us on the defensive.”

Eric stood up for a moment and paced, before continuing his harangue. “Also, I take it for granted that I am among the first to hear of this. What makes you certain that this would garner support amongst enough Republicans in either body of Congress? While it’s true that this bill abolishes Medicare, it also radically transforms Medicaid as a new entitlement. That may be unseemly not only to many Republican Senators, but also ought to be evidently dissonant to the values we agreed upon as Mavericks,” Eric concluded.

When Eric finished speaking, Areus merely leaned back in his chair and took a sizable drink of wine, before rising from his seat and walking towards Eric. Lawrence and Thad quickly became apprehensive, fearful of a physical altercation between the two, but Areus held his hand out as if to command desistance and bided his time for another minute while he quaffed his drink. “That’s an interesting point of view, Eric,” said Areus, as he stared assertively at Eric Snell.

“Since I assumed office as President, you consistently criticized me for squandering opportunities to lacerate the entitlement budget, because I was mindful of the political consequences. Now that I propose to do so, you are averse to the idea because of likely political consequences. You cite the Kemp-Roth proposal as a cautionary example of what not to do, despite relying on that same orthodoxy throughout all of our machinations in the past decade.

You are correct in your assessment of the Democratic Party being ‘listless and without vision.’ I think that plays to the strengths of this bill. The past few elections have shown that one of the biggest cleavages amongst that party is based on age: it was defections from collegiate anti-war Democrats that nearly won Hatfield the election, and that same cohort made Jerry Brown a force to be reckoned with. While you worry that this proposal may unite them, I think it will put these two groups at odds.

Speaking of which, I don’t concern myself with the voting preferences of the elderly while fielding this proposal. This is the same generation that voted for Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson. These people have voted Democratic and always will, and it makes no sense to fret about their allegiance. Those poor enough to be affected by it will receive coverage under the new plan, and those rich enough not to be will have the wherewithal to take care of themselves.

As to your last point, I would hope that enough Republicans would back my plan. This proposal seeks consolidate two massive entitlement programs into just one that is subject to means testing. The net effect is that we are running a more cost-efficient program. I fail to see how abolishing federal entitlement programs and cutting spending goes against the grain of either Maverick orthodoxy or the political sensibilities of most Republican Congressmen.”

Eric Snell spent the next twenty minutes considering the proposal, before uttering a word. “Okay. Send me a final estimate of the proposal, and I’ll probably support it,” he said.
25  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Dust In The Wind on: September 18, 2016, 12:29:14 pm
Wyde or Brown would be fantastic.
Bit unfortunate that they wouldn't be able to reconcile their differences. Tongue
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