Anglic Union

Loud boos interrupted Parlegrecco. He waited patiently for the Speaker to bring order.

“I did not say I believe that Drummond-McLaren was right, but every man deserves a defense, and that is the best defense I could come up with.  For the financial transactions, I apologize to this house, but cannot imagine a defense.” Parlegrecco sat down.  To his surprise,  there was now loud applause from the opposition benches.

The Speaker pointed at Elektra DeWitt.  “Concluding words?  Member DeWitt?”

“We should all be grateful to Senator Parlegrecco for his defense of the First Speaker,” DeWitt answered.  “Every man does deserve a defense.  That defense was a feeble reed indeed, but the best that I can imagine.  Nonethless, the financial transactions and acknowledging letters speak for themselves.”

“The First Keeper of Records will call the roll,” D’Angelo said.  He leaned back in his well-padded seat.  This, he thought, would take a while.

An interminable time and long series of names later, the First Keeper spoke.  “Mister Speaker?  The vote is 637 in favor of No Confidence, one opposed.”

“I remind the body that Senator Parlegrecco,” D’Angelo said, “as lead speaker for the defense, is legally obliged to vote against.  The motion of No Confidence passes.  In the absence of government ministers, none being present, I am to ask the leader of the largest remaining party to assume the role of Interim First Speaker  and organize a caretaker government until we decide our next steps.  Based on my conversations over various fine traditional national beverages, I think it is unclear how many members the National Renaissance Party presently has on these benches.   The National Renaissance Party members I did speak to were unanimous on one thing: they would not support a vote of confidence for their own party.  Unless there is objection, I propose that Senator DeWitt as leader of what may be the largest party assume the role of interim First Speaker.    If there is objection we can have a vote.  Is there an objection?” He waited.  “Hearing none, I ask Senator DeWitt and her Party to advance to the governmental benches, those who wish to oppose advance to the opposition, and suggest that we recess for two days unless an interim government is formed sooner.  Senator DeWitt, what say you?”

DeWitt crossed the center to the First Speaker’s rostrum.  “Mister Speaker, by your invitation, as is my duty, I assume this role.  God save the Union!”

“God save the Union!” came answering shouts.

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“Mister Speaker, point of order,” Elektra DeWitt said.

“Your point?” D’Angelo answered.

“The business today is the no-confidence vote in the Government,” she answered.  “In light of this news, I ask an hour recess to contemplate what we have just heard.”

“One hour,” D’Angelo answered, “we return to exactly this point, and I order that the Lords’ private establishment be opened to serve traditional national beverages.”

An hour and a half later, D’Angelo again brought the house to order.  “It appears,” he said, “that Senator Hughes’ earlier report is indeed true.  We must, however, have a trial.  Is anyone present willing to offer a defense of the First Minister?”  He looked at the government benches, which were remarkably empty.

“Mister Speaker? Rafael Parlegrecco, True Monarchist Party.  No man should go without a defense, though mine will be very brief.  And I do not dispute the financial transaction allegations.”

“Madame DeWitt,” D’Angelo asked, “What is your will here?”

“Mister Speaker, I believe the body of financial transactions in the charges speak for themselves,” she answered.  “Would Senator Parlegrecco care now to present his defense?”

“Mister Speaker,” Parlegrecco answered, “I believe that the letters between the First Minister and our ambassador on Mogado speak for themselves.  It is clear that, in accord with his oath of office, the First Minister took the steps that be believed were in the best interest of the people of our Union, and followed the only path available to him to put those steps into effect.  I say this while believing that he was profoundly mistaken, but I believe that would be his best defense.” 

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Another Senate Meeting

“Give ears!  Give ears!”  The Bearer of the Union Mace stood in the Forecourt of the Senate Hall, resplendant in scarlet robes.  Standing behind him were three Senate Guards in full dress uniforms, their komodo-dragon-skull headpieces sitting squarely atop their heads.    “All rise for his excellency, Speaker of the Senate and Lords, the Honorable Ariel D’Angelo.”  Speaker D’Angelo, today wearing the jet-black vest, frock coat, and trousers marking that today he sat as the judge in a confidence vote,  climbed the stairs to his pulpit. 

“Be in order!” he intoned.  “Be in order for this impeachment session.”  He stared at the largely vacant government benches.  “Pray tell, where is the First Minister?  How can he be tried if he is not here? Where is his Cabinet?”

“Mister Speaker? Permission to answer?” Senator Hughes again sat with the opposition.

“Please?” D’Angelo said. 

“Last night,” Hughes said, “the First Minister, the National Renaissance Party Executive Committee, and some of the government’s Ministers recessed their meeting in Renaissance Hall.  Cedric Drummond-McLaren reportedly directed them to advance to the Stellar Republic diplomatic compound south of town, he claimed so that they could consult with Stellar Republic records that would prove his innocence.  There they boarded a Stellar Republic Navy transport, as our treaties allow, and fled Earth.  They took political asylum in the Stellar Republic. The claim is that they would not receive fair trials here.  The refugees include a considerable number of people who have not yet been accused of anything.  I place on the main display Drummond-McLaren’s message to me.” 

Hughes  gestured, and  a curt note appeared on the rear screen. “Mister Speaker,” Hughes concluded, “I was asked by you to keep this matter sub rosa until now, and have faithfully done so.”

“Indeed you have,” D’Angelo answered.

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“That’s surprising,” Rolly said. “Drummond McLaren would have had to be a total idiot to have that written down someplace. “

“Would have had…” Untermontanus mumbled.  “A shame the First Minister’s guiding genius is not news.   But how did you see it?”

“Those diplomatic files are huge,” Fenstermacher said. “I gather things were hidden in them, not where you would expect, with the usual tricks for evading computer searches, but someone got lucky in searching them.  More I do not know, but from the dollar amounts, the list of recipients of his largess is probably more or less complete.”

“How charming,”  Untermontanus said.  “Thank you for the warning.  That’s a truly remarkable leak.  Fortunately none of us here were on the take.  However, knowing what not to deny, because we can be shown up, that’s very useful.  If all that comes to pass, and you save us…I somehow suspect that the Secretaryship of the  Space Guard will be available, if that interests you.”

Fenstermacher beamed.  “That would be highly satisfactory,” he answered.  It was a truly well-paying seat with very few duties.

“And now, the winds of time having blown us to late evening, I fear that we must be taking our leave,” Untermontanus said.  “As I have not had time to tell my friends here, since I received the message as I was coming through the door, we have yet another critically urgent meeting.”  With that he and his friends stood and bid Fenstermacher adieu, leaving Fenstermacher with a just-opened bottle of a fine Oregon trockenbeerenauslese.  He carefully poured himself a glass,  inhaled its aroma, admired its fingers, swished a small sip through his teeth,and offered a silent toast.  It was a truly fine vintage. It was so sad,  he thought, that the mice had fled so quickly, but from their responses, they had all fallen for his bait.

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Jacob Fenstermacher leaned back into one of the luxurious armchairs in a private dining room of the Pueblo Grand Restaurant.   It had been remarkably easy to set up this meeting with a half-dozen senior NRP members, especially when he  had hinted that  generous campaign donations would move him and his followers into opposition to the no-confidence motion.  It was truly amazing that they had believed his line.  The National Renaissance Party was clearly shell-shocked by today’s revelations, its leaders not yet thinking clearly. 

“So I assure you, Gary,” Fenstermacher said, “that the Independent Union Party’s bitter divisions continue to this day.  Why, Elektra didn’t even bother to ask her Executive Committee before making her no-confidence motion.  If there is the slightest hint of resistance on the part of National Renaissance, our resolve will crumble.”

“That would help a great deal,” Gary Untermontanus answered.  “If that motion is defeated, then on this bribery issue we can say we had no idea what Drummond-McLaren was doing.  That lets us keep our hold on the government, at which point our good friends, such as yourself if your faction comes over to us, could be well regarded, including a senior cabinet position for you.”

“A fine idea,” Fenstermacher said.  “A fine idea.  Of course, you don’t know precisely which chairs will open, but Elektra is about to solve that issue for you. “

“Yes?” Rolly Terwilliger said innocently.  “What will that…person…be doing to help us, that two-faced back-stabber?”

“I am told that the First Minister, in dispersing his largess, kept careful records of who got how much,” Fenstermacher said.  “I have not seen those records.  I find it difficult to believe, except that in one case I have seen a  record, he made sure he had proof that the recipient knew the source of the funds.  The case, as it happens, is our ambassador on Mogado.”

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“Fellow Senators and Lords,” Elektra began. “We live in interesting times. My predecessor, God rest his soul, persuaded our Party last year that our best choice was to join in a coalition with the Nerps. We did indeed get some Ministerial positions. The laws we had been promised have been slow to materialize. In fact, they have not materialized at all. Drummond-McLaren …” — she was interrupted by boos — “…Drummond-McLaren did steer some of his legal donors in our direction, though Thank God so far as we have discovered none of his illegal slush fund money. However, it’s now clear we got a crooked deal. Drummond-McLaren was preparing to betray not only our party but the entire Union.

“I would ask that shadow Ministers start looking carefully,” she continued, “if you have not already, at who we propose for each subcabinet slot. Please do not tell anyone that they were identified. We need to bargain with the other former opposition parties, and they doubtless want a share of the spoils. We may need to yield up a few cabinet slots, however painful that is.”

“But not First Minister!” Michael O’Raffertaigh shouted. “That is yours by right via trial by combat.” The assembly cheered.

“That remains to be seen. I expect there will be still other surprises, but don’t know what they are,” Elektra continued. “Oh, Joseph, after all this is over, if I might have a private word with you…all positive given your wonderful press releases?”


Jacob Fenstermacher leaned back into one of the luxurious armchairs in a private dining room of the Pueblo Grand Restaurante

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Anglic Union

“The Hughes revelation is the gaggle of mad weasels in the chicken coop,” Caius continued. “I think he goes down badly, unless Hughes completely faked his data, and fooled our friends outside Parliament. They are hard to fool. And Hughes has now put up a considerable series of these transactions, all illegal.”

“Thank you,”DeWitt said. “I agree that Drummond-McLaren is doomed. That’s my sense of Parliament, which agrees with your brilliant nose counting. As the largest opposition party, we get to nominate a caretaker government, unless we can cobble together a majority. Can we do that?”

“Tricky,” Caius answered. “Assuming the National Renaissance Party goes into opposition, less whatever Hughes leads out of their wreckage, we are not close to a majority. We need to reach out both ways, to the Union Democrats, the Popular Democrats, and someone else. Most other parties would choke on joining a government that contained the National Front. Radicals are against coalitions.”

“The National Front,” DeWitt said, “has several sensible policy proposals…yes, accidents do happen. National Technical Universities, not our plank but something with support in lots of places, comes to mind. That also brings in, I suspect, Glorious Day Alberg and his faction of the NRP.”

“First things first!” Ricardo Sanchez shouted. “Three cheers for Elektra, and for Aston Hughes!”
Cheers followed.

The Committee broke into song.

“For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow!
She kicked him in the…” The next word was obscured by the meeting gong.
And booted him through the walls!
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow!”

A standing ovation was followed by shouts “Speech! Speech!”

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DeWitt and her escort headed for the Tipsy Turtle.  After not long she realized that in addition to a half-dozen tall, fit party members she was also in an open grid formed by a dozen very stocky young people.  No, she thought, not stocky.  That’s heavy body armor.

The Common Room at the Turtle was almost empty.  Two waitresses and the bartender were doing final setup, preparing for the lunch crowd.  Video screens featured arrays of talking heads.  To judge from the chyrons, DeWitt thought, none of them had had the time needed to read Hughes’ documents.   

“Well done, Elektra!” the bartender shouted.  The early regulars at the bar applauded.

The Independent Union Party’s private room was crowded.  The morning side table looked to have been heavily depleted, but she could see a substantial tray of her favorite hash and eggs benedict  that had clearly just emerged from the kitchen.  She made two steps beyond the door before she was handed a large mug of coffee, properly lightened. 

She sipped.  “The way I like it.  Thank you, Daphne.” 

Daphne Mueller nodded.  “Of course, First-Minister-to-be.  And on behalf of our former Cabinet members, we are all here and behind you.  That’s even before the Hughes Addendum.  The  entire ExComm is waiting at the front of the room.”

“Well done, Elektra,”Joseph  Fenstermacher  said as he pointed to to a chair at the head of one table.  “You were right to say nothing.”

“Breakfast!” she announced.   “I haven’t eaten yet.  What have you all heard?  Caius, you’re Party Whip.  You know everything.”

“The situation is unclear, “ Caius Flower answered.  “Drummond-McLaren and his allies have spent enormous effort lobbying all and sundry.   They’ve also been offering huge contributions to political party treasuries.  Until this morning I had no idea where they could get the money,   All of their allies in the press have rallied to his defense, mostly by attacking you and other prominent members of our party personally.  There’s a lot of repetition of the ‘no real evidence’ line, even though the file is in the public record, complete with the Foreign Affairs validation codes.  However, he gets almost no votes out of the Radicals or the Popular Democrats.  The Union Democrats and the National Front were considering his offers.  That was when they had doubts about your charges, and were still reading the record.  He lost the votes of the Monarchists, and the True Monarchist.  If the UD and the NF go over to him, our party would have had to hang together indeed in order to defeat him.

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“I, ummh, I’d like to read it first,” Drummond-McLaren mumbled. “And I might need, oh, until the debate, now three days out, to demonstrate how these alleged letters were forged.  It seems to me that we can skip this afternoon’s session, so we can all read these fake letters.  Aren’t we done for the morning?”

“We are indeed done,” D’Angelo said.  “I believe I heard a motion to recess until the no-confidence debate.  Is there objection?  Ayes?  Nays?  The ayes have it.”

Drummond-McLaren stood and moved swiftly from the room, his coterie of fellow ministers and their sycophants trailing in his wake.  

Elektra found  herself besieged by leaders of the other parties, each wanting to meet privately with her.  “After lunch,” she managed to say to each of them.  “I expected that National Renaissance would want to do more to debate or deny the letters you just saw, not to mention a bunch of others not in our responder.  You’ll each be called soon with a time.  Now, if you don’t mind, I managed to miss breakfast this morning, so I plan on getting something to eat, not to mention chatting up my own party first.  They didn’t know about this, either.”

DeWitt and her escort marched down the Great Stairs of the Union.  Waiting at the bottom were a wake of reporters, all ready with questions.

“Senator DeWitt!”  “Senator Dewitt!”  “Why didn’t we hear about the treason charge earlier?”  “Why did you ask Senator Hughes to make the amendment?” and on and on.

“Gentlepeople,” DeWitt answered, “You will learn more in due course. I learned about the treason issue last night.  This was the first opportunity to broach it.  I did not ask Senator Hughes.  He had uncovered this issue himself – well, he has a staff and friends – and approached me.  We had highly trusted intermediaries to arrange the meeting.  However, I have not yet had breakfast and look forward  to eating, so I must be on my way.”


AUTHOR: And why is a group of reporters called a ‘wake’?

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“Aston, why the devil are you over there?” Dummond McLaren shouted.  “You get over here and sit down on a rear bench, right this instant!”  Anyone who was in doubt as to who was about to speak had had their doubts removed.

“Mister Speaker, I am allowed now – the rest comes later – one piece of evidence and one charge.”  Aston Hughes cleared his throat.  “I place the evidence of the rear display, a list of financial transactions beginning with Stellar Republic intelligence and ending up in the First Minister’s campaign treasury, and the associated letter from the First Minister to our Ambassador acknowledging the transfer by amount, its date, its actual source, and its destination.”

“Liar! Liar!” Drummond-McLaren shouted. His supporters in the Senate repeated the chant.

“Mister Speaker, our laws on foreign intervention in our elections are absolutely clear on this matter,” Hughes continued.   “I charge the First Minister with Treason, and call for no confidence in his government.”

The Chamber erupted in sound, continuing until the Union Mace was pounded thrice on the floor.

“I note that an additional charge has been made, as permitted by our rules,” D’Dangelo said.  ‘Does anyone else wish to make supplemental charges?  Or may we advance to Senator DeWitt and her answer to my question?” 

“Mister Speaker,” Elektra said, “we have no additional charges, and have already prepared the responders.  These mostly take the form of additional documents from the First Minister’s public files, notably letters from the First Minister to Ambassador Parker.  Some of them hope that the two named pieces of legislation will pass into law before anyone on Earth notices.  Others thank the Ambassador for arranging certain cash transfers from Mogado Bank of the Stars and Mogado Investment Trust to a series of named locations, terminating at Bulger Interstellar, which had confirmed arrival of the funds.  He asked that several named persons be thanked for getting him the money.  The named persons include the head of the Stellar Republic’s Covert Operations Bureau and the Stellar Republic’s External Intelligence Service.”

“First Minister, you are allowed to respond to this new evidence,” D’Angelo said.

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