If it’s Not One Þing, it’s Another

Here’s the latest special report from JLH, this one from an alternate universe.

If it’s Not One Þing, it’s Another

by JLH

Not so long ago, in an alternate universe just next door, there was a once-mighty, once-democratic country that had endured eight years of genteel decomposition, smiling outward at the world, while tearing itself apart internally. Then an election was held that would decide whether this era of rule by fiat would be succeeded by four to eight years of rule by self-interested toll collectors, or rule by organized chaos. The result — unexpected to everyone except the winner — caused two kinds of frenzy: one of joyous relief, and the other of bottomless, raging despair.

During that campaign, the prognosticators had proved to be disastrously wrong. This, in itself, was grounds for grave suspicions. Since when, demanded the nostradrama queens, had they ever been wrong? “We all know who is supposed to win this one. No natural force can prevent it.”

And yet, something did.

That, of course, led to the conclusion that something unnatural had happened. Journalists, young and old, rushed to identify it. The new president and his supporters were painstakingly scrutinized for clues to whatever malign force or vast conspiracy had overwhelmed the rightful order. No one escaped examination by the press and their adjunct, the opposition party. At first, the president’s personal wealth upon entering office was considered suspect, but, since it was no more than one might expect a reasonably enterprising chief executive to amass during his/her (zit/zur?) four to eight years in office and subsequent speaking engagements, it was discarded as a subject. Was there a clue in the ratio of men to women or gays to straights or transgenders to unigenders in the campaign staff and those who continued on to the White House? Could it be found by parsing the president’s more notable campaign comments, as when he had tooted on Tootle “My opponent is a crook!”

Next, consideration was directed at his family and associates. Was it possible that his wife was too beautiful to be real — maybe an experimental model android implanted with secret instructions from some alien agency? Was his son-in-law not really Jewish, but actually a descendant of the founder of the SS?

At any rate, something was amiss. Clearly the electoral result was not the result of a public preference for the new president or his proto-absolutist agenda. And certainly not the result of his superior cunning or strategy. Definitely not because of any lack or fault in the leadership and financing of the losing, and now opposition, party. Nefarious forces had been at work, and it was only a question of ferreting them out.

One of the first and most vociferous ferrets was the oracle Maxine of the Waters, who regularly immersed her head in a crystal punch bowl of Evian, to emerge with dripping, rope-like braids, and preternatural foresight. “The president,” she announced in ringing tones to shrieking hordes of former Miley Cyrus fans, “will be impeached. All we have to do is find the peaches!”

Senate Minority Leader Dreck Humor lugubriously intoned, “The president has brought shame and opprobrium upon this nation by being elected.” House Minority Leader Prancy DeComposi complained, “Calling him ‘president’ is hard for me.” (Three-syllable words had never been easy for her.)

A special meeting of the powerful and secretive Burgerbuilders was scheduled in a nearby state, to consider the ramifications of an apparently democratically elected president that no one in their right mind could have voted for. A team of specialized analysts was assigned to comb through past editions of Ann Landers and Dear Abby, and another to watch hours of All In The Family, to discover any possible explanation for this dereliction of servility on the part of so-called “voters.”

The Electronic wizard Lark Sugarmountain — capable of expunging posts in mid-cyberspace before they even appeared on In-Your-Face-Book — announced a gazillion dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever had concocted the conspiracy resulting in this miscarriage of the status quo.

The premier search machine Ogle created a new proprietary algorithm. When the user entered the new president’s name, the search led to discussions of xenophobia, misogyny and obscene language.

The situation really heated up when the president announced on national television that the country would, for the first time, not send a representative to the annual Global Earth-Warming Convention hosted by the Joy In Deprivation Society. “At least,” he tooted, “until we know what the hel is going on.”

That was the moment when, as the Germans would say, the media, the opposition and sundry others, had finally just ausgeflippt.

A nationally and internationally unknown comedienne (sorry, comedian) appeared on Who-Tube dangling an effigy of the president’s head in her hand as if he had been beheaded. Unexpectedly, for such a sophisticated rebuke of the chief executive, this was met by a storm of protest, led by an adopted citizen who pronounced it “The worst possible example of cultural appropriation.”

Al Bald-One, famous for his roles as sophisticated, eerily intelligent super-villains, looked up for a moment from his Dr.Seuss picture book to say: “The man’s a idiot!”

“How dare he!” shrieked E. “Rabbit” Warren, famed princess of the Mugwump tribe. “He says he is religious and then he commits blasphemy, or heresy or whatever you call it when somebody says really stupid stuff.”

“My God” moaned Donza Lemon of CNN (Clearly Not News), “What the f*** does he think he is doing, using four-letter words in a public forum?”

“Not only that,” contributed Rosio Donut, famed imitator of sirens and foghorns, “he can’t even spell them right.”

It was this exchange that put the premium conservative editorial writer for the Grey Lady, David Shnook, on the track to solving the mystery. “For a sophisticated analyst such as myself,” he wrote, “there are some compelling clues here. First, it is obvious to even a casual observer that the president is a deeply disturbed person, ruled by emotions most of us neither experience nor understand. Clearly, graduate business school is not the same as the serious undergraduate study of history.

“I believe, with the help of one other piece of evidence, I can identify the source of this inner compulsion, and at the same time indicate the shadowy forces that have conspired to catapult him to unexpected and undeserved heights…

“Consider for a moment his toot of the misspelled four-letter word — ‘what the hel is going on.’ The immediate assumption is that his notorious inattention to detail has led to an error. Allow me to speculate, however, that this is not a typo, but a ‘thinko.’ Where else does one find this spelling? Only in the name of the proprietress of the Norse home for the unfavored dead — Hel.

“Add to this the fact that Iceland’s parliament, also known as the Thing or Alþing and sometimes called the world’s oldest, continuously functioning, democratic, representative body, has recently approved the construction of a new temple dedicated to three of the most important Old Norse deities, Óðinn (Odin or Wotan), Þórr (Thor or Donar) and Frigg. I would not be surprised to learn that the president had been a major donor to this project. More on that later.

“Further, my exhaustive research has revealed that Frigg, the mother goddess and wife of the powerful Odin, is supposed to live in Fensalir, which means ‘Marsh Hall’ and all swampy or boggy ground is sacred to her. Please note that, as exemplified in the sobriquet, ‘Foggy Bottom,’ our nation’s capitol is often referred to as a swamp.”

There was never any “more on that later.”

Nonetheless, all Hades broke loose.

The Washington Peeper reported, from anonymous, unconfirmed but reliable sources, that the president’s famed hotel chain had investigated the possibility of building an ice hotel on top of Mount Hekla, the most recently (75 years) active volcano in Iceland and a mere 110 kilometers from Reykjavik. The calculation was reportedly that building materials would be incredibly cheap and easy to find. There would be ice slides for a swift exit in case of an actual eruption and all guests would sign away any future claim to damages. Even if an eruption should occur, said one unnamed source from deep within that model of decorum, the IRS (Infernal Revenge Squad), rebuilding would simply be written off as repair and maintenance, and deducted from taxes as a business expense.

“Aha,” declaimed a former secretary of state, known for his prognathous jaw, his affinity for tomato sauce, a bloodline running all the way back to the Neander Valley (Tal) and a habit of saying Do you know who I am? “Now we can understand his campaign motto. It’s not ‘Drain the swamp,’ it’s “Train the swamp.’ Well, we old alligators will not be trained!”

The story lived on and grew, confirmed, if not by demonstrable facts, at least by serial repetition. When questioned about the ice palace by Candy Cowlick of PBS (Petty Bland Sycophants), the president stared in disbelief and said “I don’t know a thing.”

Once again, the unfortunate chief executive had chosen the wrong word. All network and cable channels rushed to re-broadcast a comment by Zika Brminsky, co-host of Morning Jolt: “We should follow the lead of David Shnook, and apply linguistic science. Clearly what the man was saying in his own mind was ‘I don’t know a þing.’ (This was accompanied by visual aids, explaining the history of the “th” sound in English as well as the history of the Icelandic parliament.)

“And there it is!,” she exulted, “The denial proves the case! He says he doesn’t know a þing, but he is obviously in league with reactionary Viking forces in the Icelandic Þing, and that is why he denies knowing a Þing.”

The story metastasized until available hints began to peter out, and other news began to intrude on the headlines. Then, through a contact in the NSA (Not Secret Anymore), Suzanne Quinoa of the previous administration unearthed some background information on the president’s family. There was apparently a genealogical connection to the royal houses of Norway and Denmark,[1] and even a likely ancestor in the Viking Donn the Dreadful notorious for his raids along the Barbary Coast, where he sacrificed four men of each village to the gods Tiu, Woden, Thor and Frigg on their “name days” — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The public had barely digested this news, when 16 Minutes (downsized because of reduced audiences) revealed a photo essay featuring the president during a past trip, on the streets of Reykjavik. There were four photos captioned: On the Streets of REYKJAVIK! Shopping in ICELAND! Buying Something ICELANDIC! and Speaking with an ICELANDER!

“It is clear to me,” opined David Gurgle of MSNBC (Much Sound But No Clue), “that this is just the tip of the spear-phishing. The infamous Icelandic Secret Service has obviously penetrated our voting system. There are even stories to which I have, until now, paid little attention, of large men in horned helmets carrying axes and intimidating progressive voters away from the polls in Philadelphia[2]) and elsewhere. Even our beloved Antifa fear them.”

At this point, the previous chief executive was giving one of a series of $500,000 speeches to various adoring organizations. In the course of this address, he paused to make an observation on the present situation: “It occurs to me that the history of the Icelandic Þing is pertinent. As my team of researchers has advised me, it began as a proto-democratic body composed of all landholders and men of substance, called together to judge a legal dispute. It was customary for the contender with the most friends or influence in that group to be victorious in the suit. An eminently reasonable system, where those with money and property decide. But that was not enough — they had to change it to a representative assembly, where the very rich and the very poor have no more influence than those who work for a living. And what else is that but what I have been warning you against all these years — POPULISM! And that is the accursed ‘thing’ this madman wants to bring to our shores.”

The embattled president tooted: “What the helll is going on?” Adding an extra “l” just to be safe.

When he was mocked for adding hidden meaning to an ordinary four-letter word, His elder son said: “My father doesn’t do subtle. That’s not our thing.”

Representative A. Dam Schift (the “f” is silent) rushed to a microphone to say: “OUR THING! I knew it! They are working with the Cosa Nostra!”

And it only got worse after that.

Well, you may ask, how did this three-ring circus finally end? I must inform you that, in this alternate universe, the Norse gods were still quite active. If you want to know the truth of how the world is destroyed — starting with a version of global warming and ending with a “biblical” flood — go online and look up Ragnarök. No worries — the world will rise bright and new from the waters, to be governed by the few gods whose virtue preserved them.

Of course, that is only if they get the proper permits. The application is still on appeal at the DoD (Directorate of Deities) where Krishna, among others, is dubious. More on that later…

1.   Donald Trump really does have such a connection. And just for fun, see this story.
2.   They were simply following the example of the Black Panthers in Philadelphia in 2008.

3 thoughts on “If it’s Not One Þing, it’s Another

  1. Honest, I really needed a good laugh. Thank you. In consideration of events happening in Europe, my wedded spouse of 42 years (not to mention the 5 years we dated) put his retirement trip to France and Italy on the back burner. Actually we put the pot back in the cupboard. Iceland seems a good choice. Need to investigate further.

    • You should go to France and Italy, Linda. The chances of being attacked by terrorists must be far less than of being run over by accident.

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