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Hail to the Chief!

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  • Hail to the Chief!

    Here we go, folks. Like a lot of journeys, I know where I'm starting and looking forward to seeing where I end up. And, as always, thanks for reading and commenting.

    The Framers of the Constitution of the United States had been appalled by the political maneuverings they had seen in England and decided to choose their legislators and leaders in a much different fashion. These Framers weren’t all the upper-crust, as in our world, but rather a mix of men and women, white and black, who’d fought and suffered to help gain the infant United States win its’ independence from the British Crown. These people believed that everyone had the right and duty to help govern the country, and it made no difference if you were a man or a woman, or of whatever race. Everyone had fought for freedom, so everyone was going to work together.

    Here’s the basic system, from city/township to the White House:

    Members of rural township governing councils were chosen by lot from the eligible pool. To be eligible, a person had to be 21 to 65 years of age, a native-born citizen of sound mind and body, and not convicted of a felony. The council chairman was chosen by lot from the council membership. Terms were staggered so there were always a certain number of experienced people on the council. Council members were allowed only one term in office. The number of members on a council varied with the population, with a maximum of ten members.

    The same applied to city and town councils. However, city councils could be as large as thirty members, depending on the population.

    On the state level, the eligible pool for members of state legislatures consisted of native-born citizens from 25 to 65 years of age, vice 21 years for the city, town, and township councils. If the legislature was bicameral, each part (Senate and House) was limited to a maximum of fifty members each. Again, terms were staggered to ensure a number of experienced people in office at all times. Legislators were allowed only one term in office, from three to six years, depending on the state. However, former legislators formed the pool from which the governor and lieutenant governor were chosen by lot. The governor and lieutenant governor were selected separately, on a staggered basis. Again, one term only. Terms ranged from four to six years, depending on the state. Also, starting at the state level, legislators, lieutenant governors, and governors who completed their terms received a pension in the amount of 10% of their legislator/executive pay for life. This recognized state service as a full-time job, where city and township service was seen as part-time.

    At the national level, each state had two Senators and ten Representatives. To be eligible to become a Senator or Representative, a person had to be from 30 to 65 years old, of sound mind and body, and not convicted of a felony. Senators were chosen from the entire state’s population, and Representatives were chosen by district. Senators served six years and Representatives served three years. Again, terms were staggered so there were always a certain number of experienced people in each chamber. Again, Senators and Representatives served one term only, and received the pension of 10% of their legislative salary for life after leaving office.

    Just as at the state level, former Senators and Representatives comprised the eligible pool from which the President and Vice-President were chosen by lot. To be eligible, one had to be from 35 to 65 years of age, of sound mind and body, and not convicted of a felony. The President and Vice-President were selected separately, by lot, with staggered terms of six years. One term only in each position. Again, the President and Vice-President received pensions of 10% of their salaries for life after leaving office. And once having completed a term as President or Vice-President, a person was no longer eligible to be selected for any legislative or executive position at any level; they were done.
    There were provisions for replacing legislators and executives. If a legislator died or became incapacitated in office, a replacement was immediately selected from the eligible pool. If a governor died or became incapacitated while in office, the lieutenant governor took over and a new lieutenant governor immediately selected from the eligible pool. In the case of a lieutenant governor, a new lieutenant governor was immediately selected from the eligible pool. Replacements served the unexpired terms. If the replacement served less than 50% of an unexpired term, they stayed in the eligible pool.

    Should a President die or become incapacitated in office, the Vice-President took over and a new Vice-President immediately picked from the eligible pool. In the case of the Vice-President, a new Vice-President was immediately picked from the eligible pool. Again, replacements served the unexpired terms, and if a replacement served less than 50% of an unexpired term, they stayed in the eligible pool.

    Legislators and executives could resign before completing a term only in the case of a terminal illness or extreme family hardship. This rarely happened. Legislators and executives could be impeached for misbehavior/crimes in office or malfeasance in office, where the accused just didn’t want to do the job or performed so poorly it was obvious they didn’t want to do the job. Convictions were by a two-thirds-plus-one vote of the entire council or legislature. An impeached official was removed from office and sent to state or Federal prison for at least the balance of the term or longer, depending on the circumstances, with no pension. There were some impeachments, at all levels, but very few at the national level.

    Serving regular military members, enlisted, warrant, or commissioned officers, were not eligible to be put in an eligible pool at any level until they completed their term of service, transferred permanently to the reserves or National Guard, or retired from the military. Reserve and National Guard members were placed in the eligible pool. If they were mobilized while in office, they would leave office with credit for the full term, and a replacement selected.

    This system worked well for the USA. Since nobody had to worry about being re-elected, they were free to do what was best for their township, city, state, or nation.

    Over the years, the system was tweaked a little, but not much. A person selected to be a U.S. Representative would undergo a criminal and general background check, a credit check, and a physical examination, for example. Disqualifiers were membership or activity in the Communist Party, a consistently bad credit record, felony convictions, history of drug/alcohol abuse, and a terminal illness, among others.

    Salaries for full-time legislators and executives were very good, recognizing the sacrifice taken from a business or farming life. For example, in 2016 United States Senators and Representatives earned $500,000 per year, plus offices in Washington and back home, plus expenses. The Vice-President earned $1,500,000 per year and the President $2,000,000 yearly, plus perks and expenses. This was also done to minimize the chance that a legislator or executive would seek bribes. Bribery was an impeachable offense.

    All facets of the selection process were transparent, open to the public, and covered in the media. The framers of the Constitution wanted and practically demanded their fellow Americans to know what was going on, that there were no back-room deals or political maneuvering. The Framers wanted every American convinced that they had a part to play in this country, and it was their right, honor, and duty to serve when called.

    The history of this United States is somewhat different from the United States of our world.

    First, this USA is comprised of 64 states. In addition to the fifty states, this USA comprises all of Canada, taken from the British as a result of the victorious War of 1812, plus Cuba and Puerto Rico, taken from Spain as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898. The former Canada ended up as ten American states.

    There was no Civil War, because there was never any slavery in the colonies to begin with. To be sure, there were indentured servants, both white and black, but these servants gained their freedom and the indenture system went away in the 1818-1840 time frame. Race issues in this USA are very minor.

    There has been only one World War, from 1940 to 1946, when the USA, the British Empire, and the Russian Empire, plus smaller allies, defeated the Axis of the German and Japanese Empires, plus their smaller allies. The German and Japanese Empires surrendered unconditionally, their empires reduced to their metropolitan territories, and were reborn as constitutional monarchies, with Chancellors and Prime Ministers in charge.

    Unlike in our world, there is no “special relationship” between the USA and Britain. While relations are cordial and friendly, and the two nations are allies, that “special relationship” just isn’t there. Instead, the USA has a special relationship with the Russian Empire, which has for many years been a constitutional monarchy, just like the British, German, and Japanese Empires. Where the United States fought Britain twice, America and Russia have never fought each other. The USA bought Alaska from Russia in this world, as well. America helped Russia defeat a Communist insurgency in the early part of the 20th Century. The two nations fought shoulder-to-shoulder during the Great War. America and Russia have very extensive commercial ties, worldwide.

    The British Empire of this world is still large, with possessions in various parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaya, and Ireland. But to greater and lesser extents all five of these places are moving toward independence one way or another, as Rhodesia did in 1970. London knows in the final analysis the best they could do is keep Northern Ireland. The British Empire hasn’t the resources to hold the Empire by force. The Prime Minister, Edward Thatcher, has drawn up plans for a British Commonwealth of the former colonies.

    Europe in this world is at peace, and at a Common Market stage. France is a European power but not a Great Power. The German Empire is considered by the Americans, British, and Russians as a near-Great Power, as is Japan. The Three Great Powers of this world are the USA, Russia, and Britain. But only America and Russia can be considered superpowers in this world. They are the only countries with the global economic and military might to fill the role. And luckily for this world, the two superpowers work together in amity.

    But this world is not totally sweetness and light. China is a mess, and requires attention from the superpowers, Britain, and Japan. A partially successful Communist revolution has split China into a Communist South China and a free North China. Communist Chinese-inspired insurgencies are in Korea, India, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaya, Indonesia, and the Philippines, to greater and lesser extents. The USA, Russia, Japan, and Britain are involved in dealing with these insurgencies, generally providing economic and military assistance to the local governments, but stopping short of putting boots on the ground except for the British in India and Malaya. This is a long-term issue.

    Mercifully, in this world’s Great War there was no Holocaust. The German Empire had no problem whatsoever with the Jews. This meant no State of Israel after the war. The Middle East is generally peaceful. The biggest problem here is economic. While the Middle East sells large quantities of oil worldwide, their economies are extractive, and not producing enough jobs for growing populations. Unemployed people can be very susceptible to the allure of Communism or radical Islam. Here, Japan, Germany, Britain, and the superpowers are working with Middle East countries to get these people employed and nip Communism and radical Islam in the bud. Another long-term project.
    Mexico, Central America, and South America are also generally peaceful. But again, the rising population needs more jobs.

    One major difference in this world – no narco-terrorism or drug cartels. The USA legalized and regulated marijuana and cocaine at the turn of the 20th Century, treating them and taxing them like alcohol. And there was never any Prohibition, either. This doesn’t mean the USA has no drug problem, but the problem is more manageable.

    This USA is more pragmatic than our world, realizing that to try and regulate every facet of human life is unreasonable and counter-productive. Abortion is legal and inexpensive, for example. Smoking is legal but many areas are smoke-free. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is their own business. The Bill of Rights is the same here as in our world, and is taken very seriously.

    Americans like that government best that governs least, and try to keep it that way. The growth of the country over the years, the growth of the population to 380 million in 2016, and the nation’s role as a superpower has meant some expansion of government’s role in life. But legislatures and leaders alike, at all levels, work to keep government from turning into an octopus that would choke the nation.

    Having said that, November 8, 2016, as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, is Selection Day for the Presidency of the United States. We’ll see what happens…

  • #2
    It's Selection Day!

    November 8, 2016, 6:20 p.m. Central Time
    San Angelo, Texas
    Otis and Vicki Needleman’s house

    Colonel (Retired) Otis Needleman, U.S. Air Force and his wife, Victoria “Vicki” Valenzuela Needleman were finishing dinner, just a quiet meal for the two of them. Their two sons, Nick and Max, and their daughter Donna were all grown and out of the house now.

    “Selection Day for President today, honey.”

    “This is the last time I’ll be in the Presidential pool. Next time I’ll be 67.” About ten years prior, Otis had served three years as Representative from Texas House District 4. As a former Representative, he was in the eligible pool for selection as President or Vice-President. Otis was presently retired, living off his Air Force pension, some VA disability, Social Security and his House of Representatives pension. Vicki also collected Social Security.

    “Are you going to watch the selection on TV or on line? It’s going to happen at 6:30.”

    Otis laughed, “I’m afraid to. I might get picked!”

    “Can you imagine? We’d have to go live in Washington again!”

    “At least we wouldn’t need to look for a place to live!” Otis laughed again. “But I’d have to wear a suit to work every day, and then there’s the security and the other stuff to deal with. But if I’m picked, I’ll serve and do my best. And it won’t be all bad. We’ll go overseas from time to time. I wouldn’t mind going back to Moscow and seeing some of our friends.” During his active-duty career Otis, a career signals intelligence officer, had spent time working at the Russian Security Service, known as the Okhrana’s headquarters in Moscow. He and Vicki had learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute to prepare for that assignment.

    With this USA and the Russian Empire having a “special relationship”, cemented in blood, there were a number of Russian officers serving as exchange officers in certain US military organizations, and a number of American officers doing the same in Russia. There were also many Russian military members attending various US military schools and training courses, and many Americans again doing the same in Russia. The two militaries held large-scale joint exercises at least once a year, if not more. And both the Russian Empire and the USA were united in their utter hatred of Communism.

    “So are you going to watch it?”

    “Nah, I’ll wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen, get the trash and recycling.” Otis normally did this anyway after dinner.

    Dinner over, Otis cleared the table and prepared to wash the dishes. The house had a dishwasher, but Otis thought they used too much water and energy, so when he washed dishes they were done by hand. Vicki went into the front room and turned on the television.

    Otis had just gotten the dishes started when he heard a scream from the front room. “OH, MY GOD! YOU GOT PICKED, OTIS! YOU’RE GOING TO BE PRESIDENT!”, Vicki cried. He zipped into the front room, looked at the TV screen, and saw his House picture. Below was the caption, “Otis R. Needleman, San Angelo, Texas” “HOLY SHIT!” was Otis’ reaction. “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” Vicki started laughing. “You sound like Bluto from ‘Animal House’!” Otis started laughing, too. “Well, toots, it’s going to be a ride. At any rate, I’m going to get those dishes done. But I might need some help. Bet everyone we know starts calling.”

    Just a few minutes later, everyone Otis and Vicki knew started calling. Then ten minutes after that there was a knock on the door. Otis answered the door to find two smiling San Angelo police officers. He wondered why they were there.

    “President-select Needleman?”

    “Yes, that’s me. Why are you here, fellows?”

    “Sir, we’ll provide security for you and your family until the Secret Service can get here from Dallas.”

    “Well, thanks. Why don’t you come in and let’s discuss what’s going on.” The two police officers came into the living room and Otis introduced Vicki to the officers. “Would you like some coffee, or water, or a soda?” “Water would be fine, sir.” The police officer paused. “One of us will be parked outside the house at all times until the Secret Service come, likely tomorrow sometime. We’ll also walk around the outside of the house from time to time. Do you have any pets in the back yard?” Otis shook his head. “No pets, and we’ll leave the back light on so you don’t trip on anything.” “Mr. President, do you or Mrs. Needleman plan to go anywhere this evening?” “I plan to stay home, at least I hope to. Vicki, you going anywhere? “Got my church meeting at 7:30.” The officer asked, “What church will you go to?” “First Presbyterian, downtown.” “Okay, one of us will go with you. We can take you there in a police car or we can follow you, and we’ll sit in the back at church.” “Officer, whatever will be easiest for you, probably just going down in the police car.” “Then we’ll take you there, ma’am.” Otis looked at the clock. It was 7:05. “Toots, you may want to go pretty soon.” A few minutes later Vicki and a police officer headed over to the church.

    Otis looked at the other police officer, smiled, and said, “It’s going to be an evening! Sir, if you don’t mind please answer the phone while I get the dishwasher loaded and the trash and recycling collected.” Otis moved briskly to get the chores done. Before he went to take the trash and recycling outside Otis let the police officer know where he was going, and the police officer went with him.

    About 7:30 the phone rang. Otis saw “Washington” on the display. He picked up the phone. “President-select Needleman?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Please stand by for President Mims.” A moment later, a familiar voice came over the phone. “Hello, President-select Needleman?” “Yes, Madam President.” “Congratulations!” “Thank you much, ma’am. I’m still getting over the surprise.” “I know what that’s like. I just wanted to call you and say congratulations. You’ll be getting the medical examination and security forms tomorrow. Please get the physical done and the security forms filled out ASAP so that processing can be finished. When that’s done we’ll have you and your wife come to Washington for a little get-together before the transition.” “I’ll get it done, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.” “Talk to you later. Good-bye.” “”Good-bye, ma’am.”

    There were more calls. Nick, Max, and Donna called. Each of them said there were police, sheriff’s deputies, or Secret Service agents at their places. Nick, a chef, lived in San Antonio with his wife Haruko. Max was a geologist working in the Permian Basin oil fields. He lived in Midland. Donna was a student at the University of Texas, in Austin. Otis explained this was how things were going to be for some time to come due to Otis’ selection as President. “Just work with the security people and they’ll work with you. Before long, you’ll be used to having them around, but they aren’t your servants, if you catch my drift.” Otis’ brother Joe called from Illinois. “Congratulations, Otis. Hey, the police are here. They said they’ll be watching until the Secret Service get here tomorrow.” “Yeah, sorry for any aggravation but for now just work with them. They’re just doing their job.”

    Otis and the police officer sat in the front room. “You know something, officer?” “What’s that, Mr. President?” “It’s a whole new world now. People think the President can do whatever he or she pleases but when you have to take security into account, and I am grateful you folks are here, you really have to think about what you do and where you go.” “That’s true, sir.” “I usually go downtown to the library on Saturday. Now there will be an agent with me. And there will be someone going with us everywhere now.” “Comes with the job.” “Yes, it does, and because you security people, of all types, do your jobs, I’ll be able to do my upcoming job. So thanks for your work.” “You’re welcome, sir.”

    Vicki got home around 9. “Everyone heard about you, Otis. They send their congratulations.” The police officer asked if either Vicki or Otis were going out any more this evening, and got a reply in the negative. He then wished Otis and Vicki a good evening. “Officer, will you be out here all night or will you be relieved at some time?” “Mr. President, there will be someone coming around 11:30.” “Great. I was concerned you’d have to work all day and all night. We usually turn in around 11:30. I normally take my morning walk around 8:00 a.m. If this will be a problem tomorrow just have the officer let me know, but the Secret Service will need to be accommodate this in the future.” “Just let us know when you’re ready to go and we’ll see how it goes.” “Thanks, officer, and good night.” “Thank you, Mr. President.” With that, the police officer departed.

    Otis and Vicki watched the news, the lead story of which was Otis’ selection as President. A reporter from the San Angelo paper called. Otis said he was excited about being selected President and was looking forward to doing his very best for the country, just as when he served in the House. He got similar calls from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, and gave the same answer.

    Around 10 p.m. Otis checked his emails and found quite a few congratulatory emails from friends and acquaintances. Need to talk to the Secret Service tomorrow about emails. Bet I have to get a new personal email address.

    11:30 came, and Otis hit the sack. Vicki followed a little later. It had been quite an evening. Tomorrow should be even more interesting.


    • #3
      Things progress. The Secret Service shows up, and Otis gets a haircut. Keep in mind that this USA isn't the same as our USA. For example, Studebaker and Packard are doing very well in this USA. Americans have Constitutional open-carry and concealed-carry of weapons, no permits needed. This America doesn't run as scared as today's USA seems to run. However, if you call someone in this USA a Communist, you'd better either be doing it in jest or prepare to defend yourself.

      November 9, 2016, 7:15 a.m., Central Time
      San Angelo, Texas
      President-select Otis and Vicki Needleman’s house

      Otis went outside to get the morning paper. He waved hello to the San Angelo police officer, sitting in her vehicle. She waved back. Otis went to the police vehicle. “Good morning, officer. How was your evening?” The young officer smiled. “Good morning, Mr. President. A quiet night here.” “I kind of thought it would be. San Angelo’s a good place. Have you heard anything as to when the Secret Service people will be coming from Dallas?” “Let me check, sir.” The police officer called her sergeant via the issue secure cell phone instead of over the radio; anyone could listen in to police radio. “Got it. Thanks.”

      The police officer said, “Mr. President, the Secret Service people should be here around 2:00 p.m.” “Thanks. Now, is there just you here for now? I was looking at taking a walk at 8, but if there’s just one officer here I’ll forego the walk, because I’m guessing someone would need to guard my wife.” “Yes, sir, I am relieved at 8 and there will be two officers, just in case you or your wife would need to go somewhere.” “Great! Thanks! I sure appreciate it.”

      Otis went back in the house, put on his exercise clothes, turned on his computer, and checked emails. There were quite a few. Otis deleted the extraneous emails and answered a couple. Then he put on his jacket, grabbed his keys and wallet, put on his walking shoes and stepped outside; it was a couple of minutes after eight. Vicki was still asleep.

      Two San Angelo police officers greeted him. “Good morning, gentlemen! Thanks for being here. Who will accompany me on the walk, please?” One of the officers, whom Otis had seen frequently in the neighborhood, said, “I’ll be happy to, Mr. President. I’ve seen you walking around here many a morning.” Otis grinned. “And I’ve seen you driving through. Sounds good to me. What’s the best way to do this? Do you want to follow me in a car, or just walk alongside?” “Well, do you walk just on the sidewalk, or do you take paths, too? “Some of both. Thinking about it, probably better we walk together. A slow-moving car, even a police car, will cause problems during rush hour. I’ll need to start varying the route, too, but after today that’s the Secret Service’s issue. Oh, my wife’s still asleep. This is our morning routine, at least for now.” “Ready when you are, sir.” “Let’s go, then.”

      Otis and the police officer, a young man named Simon Federico, departed. “I don’t walk too fast but I go a ways.” The two men walked. Since Otis had been walking this route every weekday morning for the last several years, he encountered many people he knew. It seemed that everyone in town knew of his selection as President, and they all wanted to wish him well. Otis smiled and shook a lot of hands on his walk.

      Otis and Officer Federico reached the turn-around point and headed back. More handshakes and waves. In due time they returned to Otis’ house. It was about 9:30. Otis thanked Officer Federico and asked the two officers if they’d like any water or soda. The officers happily accepted some water, which Otis brought right out. “If you need to use the bathroom, just knock.”

      Back in the house, Otis fixed his breakfast and looked at the morning Wall Street Journal and the San Angelo paper. The story of his selection as President and his picture was on the front page of both papers. Otis scanned the stories and then shrugged them off. He ate, finished the papers, put his dishes in the sink and got ready to get cleaned up. Vicki was already up and was getting dressed after her shower.

      Once Vicki was all dressed, Otis got cleaned up. As he was shaving, Otis noticed he needed a haircut. Go over to Charlie’s today. Otis had been going to Charlie’s Barber Shop for years. Charlie Valenzuela was one of Otis’ brothers-in-law. Vicki was the middle child in a family of five children, with two brothers and two sisters. Charlie always liked to call Otis “Gringo” and aggravate him about dragging his sister Vicki all over the world. Otis thought that was funny, and called Charlie the “Frito Bandito”, which Charlie thought was funny. Charlie and his family had visited Otis and Vicki at a number of postings, even going to Moscow when Otis and Vicki were stationed there for three years. They’d always had great times together.

      Around noon a FedEx package arrived from the White House. Inside were medical forms and lab slips for tests, and background forms to be filled out for both Otis and Vicki. Otis had held a top security clearance for many years in the military, and had also had to do a similar background check when selected to be a Representative, so this was no big deal. Vicki had undergone a national agency check when she married Otis, and had also done a background check when Otis became a Representative.

      Otis called his primary care doctor, Dr. Jeff Field, and told his office the situation. The doctor’s office told Otis to go to the lab at Shannon Hospital for the blood and urine samples first thing the next morning and the doctor would see him at 3:00 p.m. the day after. Otis and Vicki then filled out the background check paperwork. They saw fingerprints were required so while the San Angelo police were still at the house they just asked one of the officers to take them to the police station for fingerprinting.

      Upon arrival at the police station Otis and Vicki were met by the police chief, Chief Ken Casper. Otis and Vicki thanked the chief for all the assistance the police department had provided since last evening.

      Chief Casper appreciated the thanks and showed the couple to the fingerprint counter. An arrestee was being booked and noticed Otis and Vicki were escorted by not just a police officer, but the chief of police. “You two must have done something really bad for a cop and the chief of police to bring you in.” Otis chuckled and replied, “Yes, we’re a regular Bonnie and Clyde.” Chief Casper and the other police officer guffawed. “Lady, you’re looking at the next President of the United States and the next First Lady. The selection was last night.” “You don’t say! Well, congratulations, Mr. President, Mrs. President.” “Thanks.”

      Completed fingerprint cards in hand, Otis and Vicki returned home. It was time for lunch. Otis noticed some messages on the phone but decided to listen to them after lunch. While Otis was eating lunch he noticed one of the San Angelo police officers walking around the back of the house with five people in civilian clothes, three men and two women, showing them the yard, alley, etc. “Toots, looks like the Secret Service is here.” “You going to let them in?” “After I finish. I want to tell our police thanks before they leave, too.”

      Otis finished his lunch, put the dishes in the sink, and went out the front door. The sun was shining and the temperature was warm, near 70, fairly typical for San Angelo this time of year. He was met by a San Angelo police officer and four Secret Service agents. “President-select Needleman?” Otis nodded. “I’m Agent Charles Jeffries, in charge of the detail, and this is Agent Lorraine Wagner, Agent Terry Hamilton, Agent Ashley Rodriguez, and Agent Mark Grechniw.” Agents, I’m pleased to meet you but may I see your IDs, please?” Agent Jeffries smiled. “Certainly, sir.” Otis inspected all five IDs and smiled. “Looks good to me.” The San Angelo police officer then said, “Sir, since the Secret Service are here, time for us to leave.” Otis replied, “That’s why I came out, to thank you and the other officer before you left. We appreciate everything you and the department have done since the selection last evening.” Otis shook both officers’ hands before they left.

      He turned to the agents. “Welcome. Please come in. I shall introduce you to my wife and let’s discuss how this works.” They went inside and Otis showed them to seats on the couches. “Vicki, the Secret Service agents are here.” Otis introduced his wife to the agents. Otis then asked some questions. “First, we want to thank all of you for guarding us. We appreciate it. Your job is not an easy one. Do you folks have a place to stay, arrangements for your meals, and what not?” “Yes, sir.” “Okay. I thought so but wanted to check. How do you plan to approach this mission?” “Right now two people during the day and into the evening, then one person at night.” “Got it. We have the paperwork from the White House. The background forms are filled out and we just had our fingerprints taken. I have lab work scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning then a doctor’s appointment the day after that. Quick as I could get it.” “That’s fine, sir. When you have the physical done just give us all the paperwork and we’ll get it to Washington. Should take only a few days to complete, since both of you have held clearances before.”

      Otis nodded. “As you can imagine, we’re still getting used to being guarded. So we’re just going to do our things and let us know if adjustments need to be made. For example, do you take us everywhere now?” “Yes, Mr. President, we do.” “Okay, do we take a Secret Service car, or do you drive ours?” “It’ll be a government car.” “Understand.” “Mr. President, do you carry a weapon?” “ I have an AK-47 and a .45 automatic but don’t carry them. When I go to sleep I put the .45 out and I put it away when I get up. I’m a light sleeper so if something happens at night and you need to come into our bedroom just knock and call me.”

      “Sir, do you or Mrs. Needleman jog, run, golf, or anything of that nature?” “ I walk about four miles in the morning, every weekday, unless it’s raining too hard. My wife walks from time to time.” “When do you and Mrs. Needleman normally get up and go to sleep?” “Weekdays, I get up around 7 and go walking around 8. My wife gets up around 9:30. On the weekends, I get up around 8. I usually go to sleep around 11:30 except on Friday night, when I go to sleep around midnight. My wife usually goes to sleep after I do. Tomorrow will be different. I’ll need to go to the lab at Shannon Hospital at 7, and then go walking after that.”

      “Do you and Mrs. Needleman go out much?” “Not that much. My wife has her church activities, and I’ll go to church with her on Sunday. We don’t drink or smoke, so we don’t go to bars. We go out to eat maybe once a week here in town. On Saturday I go to the commissary at Goodfellow Air Force Base, and my wife will also shop there and at the Base Exchange. We go to Sunset Mall sometimes. I go to the public library on Saturday afternoons, and to the base library a couple of times a month. I get a haircut once a month at my brother-in-law’s barber shop. Matter of fact, I’d like to go there in a few minutes, please.” “Certainly, sir. This helps us a lot in our mission.” “Okay. If someone can take me to the barber shop, I’ll tell you where it is, and the other agents can meet with my wife, she can show you around the house, whatever you need.”

      Otis and Agent Grechniw went to Charlie’s Barber Shop in a government Studebaker. Otis gave Agent Grechniw the address and the Secret Service agent input it into the car’s navigational system. “Agent, how should we address you? If we’re going to be together all the time calling someone ‘Agent’ is overly formal for me.” “Mr. President, address us any way you like.” “Okay, Mark! A heads up…Charlie’s my brother-in-law and we rag on each other all the time, everywhere, so take that into account.” “Got it, sir.”

      The Studebaker pulled up in front of the barber shop. Otis and Agent Grechniw entered the shop. Charlie Valenzuela looked at the two men. “What’s this, gringo? Can’t face me mano-a-mano anymore? Gotta have some help?” Otis grinned, replying, “Hey, Frito Bandito, I brought the federales today! Agent Mark Grechniw, meet my brother-in-law, Charlie Valenzuela!” Agent Grechniw and Charlie shook hands. “I’ll have you know my brother-in-law Otis is a card-carrying Communist! Why, he even took my sister and their kids to Moscow!” “Yeah, and you followed us there, Mr. Bolshevik!” Otis laughed. “We were in Moscow three years. I was stationed at Okhrana Headquarters. Charlie and his family spent a month with us one summer.” “We sure weren’t going there in the winter! You ready?” “Yup.”

      Otis sat down and Charlie expertly cut what hair was on Otis’ head. “So when are you and Vicki going to Washington, El Presidente?” “Probably before Thanksgiving. We’ve been doing some paperwork, and I’m having a physical, pretty much what we did when I got picked as a Representative. Then we’ll probably go there to live a few weeks before the inauguration. Need some time to start getting up to speed.” “I bet you’ll be busier than a one-armed paperhanger.” “Yeah, I think once the processing is done they’ll send me a ton of things to study. Even at that, I’ll get fire-hosed.” “How about the Vice-President? “He was selected two years ago so he should know what’s going on. I’ll find out.” Charlie’s face turned serious. “How are you and Vicki doing, Otis?” “We’re good, Charlie. Still getting used to everything. Hasn’t really sunk in yet. Probably won’t until I sit at the desk in the Oval Office. I just want to do a good job for the country, that’s all.”

      Charlie looked seriously at Agent Grechniw. “We’re all proud of Otis. Always have been. Good husband to my sister. Good father to the kids. Did well in the Air Force, and did well in Congress. He’ll be a fine President.” The Secret Service agent smiled. “I’m sure of it, sir.”

      Otis paid Charlie for the haircut and added the usual generous tip. “Okay, gringo, see you next time!” “You got it, Bandito!” Otis and Agent Grechniw drove away in the Studebaker. “Mark, Charlie’s a good man, and the Valenzuelas a good family. They’re all here in San Angelo, and that’s why I retired from the Air Force here. I wanted my wife to be around her family after dragging her all over the world. Then we ended up in Washington not once, but twice. But six years will go by quickly; the three years did.” “I can understand, Mr. President.”


      • #4
        Otis passes his medical and security checks, and becomes the newest member of a very exclusive club.

        November 17, 2016, 1:25 p.m., Central Time
        San Angelo, Texas
        President-select Otis and Vicki Needleman’s house

        The phone rang. Otis saw “Washington” on the display. Might be President Mims with the results of the physical and background checks.


        “Welcome to the club, Otis. Everything checked out, for both of you.”

        “Great, Madam President!”

        “When it’s just us, it’s Janet.”

        “Okay, Janet!”

        “I’m sending you a bunch of briefing books to read. They’ll have special handling instructions and the Secret Service will let you know what to do.”


        “We’d like to have you and Vicki come up for a few days after Thanksgiving. Say, leave on the 27th, stay here, three full days, meets and greets, looking around, come back on the 1st of December. Doable?”


        “Then it’s a plan. We’ll send you the itinerary and a number to call if there are any questions.”

        “I have one. What’s the attire?”

        Janet Mims laughed. “Suit and tie except in your personal quarters. Might as well get used to wearing it. It’s pretty much the uniform for the next six years. For Vicki, business dress. I’ll make some suggestions. Also sending you an FAQ book about living here and the personal admin stuff.”

        “That’s great, Janet. We’ve a bunch of questions. Thanks!”

        “You’re quite welcome. Gotta go, see you the 27th. Happy Thanksgiving!”

        “You, too!”

        Vicki came in the house, back from shopping at the Base Exchange with Agent Lorraine Wagner. “Just got a call from the White House, toots.” “Yeah?” “It was the President. Everything checked out on both of us, so we’re in.” “Figured it would. Took less than a week.” “We’ve been in the system for a long time, what with the past clearances, and being in the House. They just updated everything and ran a quick fingerprint, credit, and national agency check.” “What’s next?” “We’re going to Washington on the 27th for a few days, back on the 1st. In the meantime, the President is sending a bunch of briefing books for me to read and a guide to living in the White House. Heads up, toots. Most of those books will be classified so I’ll need to read them in the den. I’m guessing the Secret Service will probably store them at the base when I’m not using them. But the book about living at the White House surely won’t be classified. It should help with our questions.” “Oh, Otis! I don’t want to read that stuff anyway!” Vicki laughed. Otis laughed back, “I might not want to read them, either, once I start! But at least we can have Thanksgiving here.”

        Vicki said, “Good point, honey. Everyone’s going to want to get together for this, especially now you’re becoming the President.” “Yeah, bet next Thanksgiving dinner will be at the White House. So what do you want to do? Donna and Max will be here. Nick’s working. So that leaves your brothers, sisters and their families.” Otis took out a pad. “Let’s start counting. You, me, Donna and Max. That’s four. Charlie, Joan, and their kids, four more. Hector, Juanita, and their kids, five more. Maricela and Tommy, two more, then Irma, Bob, and their kids, four more. Seventeen. Gotta call Joe but doubt if they can make it on such short notice. Anyway, we can have them to the White House. Over the years we’ll get everyone there at least once, too.” “Probably seventeen, then, Otis. Want to do it here?” “Probably, but you and I aren’t doing all the cooking. I can bake a ham the night before and a turkey that day, bake some pies the night before, get rolls, gravy, soda, beer and wine. Want to make some mashed potatoes and salad? “Yeah. But everyone else can bring stuff – some cakes, tamales, vegetables. Tell you what, honey. Let me make up a menu and then we’ll see who brings what.” “Okay, sweets – and paper plates and plastic cups, etc. No need to wash a bunch of dishes. We’d better let the Secret Service know, too.”

        Vicki started planning the menu while Otis stepped outside to get one of the agents. Terry Hamilton was on post outside the door and Ashley Rodriguez was in a Studebaker parked out front. “Hey, Terry, could you come in for a bit, please?” “Yes, Mr. President.” Otis showed Terry to a seat on the couch. “Terry, we’re planning to have family over here for Thanksgiving dinner. Could be a while before we’ll have another such gathering. How do we best work this with you folks?” “Thanks for the heads-up, sir. I’ll let Agent Jeffries know and he’ll get with you.” “Great, thanks.” The Secret Service agent rose from the couch and resumed his post.

        Twenty minutes later Agent Charles Jeffries, agent in charge of the detail, knocked on the door. Otis opened it. “Hi, Charles! Please come in!” Otis showed the agent to a seat on the couch. “Agent Hamilton said you and Mrs. Needleman were planning to have family over for Thanksgiving.” “Yes. How do we work it with you and your agents?” “How many people do you plan to have over, sir?” “Counting the two of us, probably seventeen, adults and kids, all family members, far as I know. “Could we get a list of everyone you’re expecting?” “Sure. I can do that pretty soon.” “What time do you plan to eat?” “Probably three or four o’clock. People will probably be trickling in and out, dropping off stuff beforehand. Our son Max will be coming in from Midland, I guess with an agent, and our daughter Donna will already be here from Austin, apparently with an agent, too.” “Yes, we’ll get them here.” “Unfortunately, our son Nick can’t make it due to work.”

        “Mr. President, will anyone be bringing weapons?” “I doubt it but I’ll tell everyone not to bring weapons.” “Sorry to ask, sir, but will there be a lot of alcohol, marijuana or cocaine used?” “Understand. We’ll have some wine and some beer for the family. If anyone wants to toke or use cocaine they can go in the yard or on the patio. I don’t allow it to be used in the house. But I don’t expect much of that, with the kids around.”

        So Otis wrote down the planned guest list and gave it to Agent Jeffries. He also gave the agent a heads-up about the call from President Mims and her planned shipment of briefing books. Otis also gave Agent Jeffries advice about where secure storage could be found at Goodfellow Air Force Base, where he had served a couple of times, the last time as 17th Training Wing deputy commander.

        Vicki worked out the menu, and then she and Otis figured out who would cook or bring what. As planned, Otis would bake a ham, a turkey, and three pies. Vicki would make mashed potatoes and salad. They would buy six cans of gravy and heat them in the microwave as needed, and would also get plenty of paper plates, plastic cups, napkins and plastic utensils. Otis would also get dinner rolls, soda, a 12-pack of beer, and a couple of bottles of wine.

        Otis called Joe, who sent his regrets. Donna was coming up from school this weekend and leaving the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Max would come from Midland Wednesday and leave Saturday, too. Nick was working, Thanksgiving being a busy day for chefs. Vicki called her brothers and sisters, let them know what to bring, and told them not to bring any weapons.

        The next day Agents Jeffries and Grechniw brought in two boxes from the White House, containing the briefing books. Otis had the agents bring the boxes into the den and then opened the boxes. All the briefing books but one was classified. The only book that was unclassified was the FAQs for living at the White House. There was also a large, heavy-duty envelope with a note pad inside, for any classified notes Otis wrote. Lastly, there was a separate envelope with the itinerary for the visit to Washington. The classified materials would be stored at Goodfellow Air Force Base overnight, and brought to the house around noon daily. Otis planned to study the books every day except Thanksgiving. Otis and the agents took an inventory of the materials in the boxes. In the presence of the agents, Otis removed the itinerary envelope and White House living books and put them aside. “Mr. President, just let us know when you are finished with the books for the day, then we’ll take them to Goodfellow.” “Thanks, gentlemen.” Agents Jefferies and Grechniw departed.

        Otis looked through the itinerary. Wow, a plane will pick us up at Mathis Field, then straight to Andrews AFB. I’m looking forward to meeting Janet and her husband. There’s also a medal presentation to the family of a pilot killed in training in Russia; she was the one who rode her plane into the ground away from that village. And the Russian Ambassador and head of their Air Force will be there. Looking forward to meeting the Vice-President and his wife, too.

        He thumbed through the book about living at the White House. The family private residence was a four-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment, with a den. There was a swimming pool, small bowling alley, theater, tennis courts, almost a small town in itself. Payday was the first working day of the month and mid-month. Vicki would be paid for being the First Lady, $500,000 a year before taxes, because she would be involved in many social functions and acting as an ambassador. She would also have a small staff of her own. The salary was set by law, because many First Ladies/Gentlemen had to give up jobs and careers to go to the White House with their spouses.

        Interestingly, while the Needlemans would live at the White House rent-free, they had to pay $1000 monthly for their personal meals, deducted from Otis’ pay. Meals consumed at state functions were free. While White House staffers were detailed to shop for items such as personal hygiene products, if possible Otis wanted Vicki to go over to the Andrews AFB commissary and Base Exchange.

        Furniture, linens, and tableware for the apartment’s kitchen were provided, as was laundry and dry cleaning service and maid service. Basically, all a President’s family needed to bring were their clothes, books, and personal items to move in. Also, in addition to the White House in Washington, there were the Cuban White House, the Santa Barbara, CA White House, Camp Billy in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland, and Camp Margaret in Columbia (In our TL this was British Columbia.) These additional White Houses and camps were intended as get-away places for the President, Vice-President, and their families. In this USA Presidents and Vice-Presidents were rarely rich people who owned estates or could afford to stay in fancy hotels. Some Presidents came from families of very limited means. For example, President Mims was originally a seamstress, and her husband a machinist. These retreats allowed all Presidents and Vice-Presidents a place to get away from Washington from time-to-time while still having all the facilities of the White House, because the job of the President and Vice-President was a 24/7/365 job. The retreats were also quite useful for certain very high-level meetings that needed to be held away from the eyes of the press.

        There was a lot of other useful information, but for now he passed the White House book and itinerary to Vicki. “Hey, toots, you get paid for being First Lady!” “Really?” “$500,000 a year, before taxes.” “Wow!” “Yeah, but you’ll earn it, honey. The First Lady attends a lot of functions and overseas is an ambassador for the country. But don’t do more than you are comfortable doing. If there is something specific I need you to do I’ll tell you, say, such as attend a social with foreign leaders’ wives. But for now, just read this book. I’ll be in the den if anyone needs me.”

        Otis sat down in his easy chair and pulled out the first classified briefing book. President Mims had attached a note. “Otis, read all of these you can before you and Vicki move here. Makes the fire-hosing a little easier. – Janet”. There were books on US military posture, foreign relations, the economy, educational issues, environmental issues, the various departments and their secretaries, law enforcement-related issues, and other issues. Janet Mims had thoughtfully included a list of the various meetings and conferences a President or Vice-President needed to attend, in addition to things that just came up, such as certain funerals.

        One thing that jumped out at Otis was an index of relative national power among the great powers and superpowers. The USA was at 100, and the trend was steadily upward. Russia was at 80, and the trend was slightly upward. The British Empire was at 65, and the trend was slightly downward. The German Empire was at 60, and staying steady. The Japanese Empire was at 55, with a slight upward trend. Interesting, but not that surprising. Britain’s tired, and I don’t see India, Australia, and New Zealand staying much longer, maybe not even all of my term. Germany and Japan are empires in name only, but they do rather well with what they have. Russia is developed overall but they still have room to develop in Siberia and the Far East. I need to get all these books read before we leave on the 27th.

        Otis read until about 6:30 p.m., having finished one of the ten books and made progress on another. He let Agent Rodriguez know he was done reading for the day. Otis had put the books and the envelope with the note pad, marked appropriately, in the boxes. “Ashley, tomorrow if you folks would, just bring this box at noon tomorrow, please. No need to bring both boxes.” She and Agent Hamilton picked up the boxes and Agent Hamilton took them to secure storage at Goodfellow.

        Over dinner, Otis asked Vicki if she’d had a chance to look at the itinerary and the White House book. “I’m probably going to need to get some more dresses, a winter coat or two, and some boots for winter.” “You might want to hold off on the boots, but on the other things, I agree. Heck, I’m going to need to buy some suits, too, maybe as many as ten, plus white shirts, and more ties and shoes. Better go over to Mahon’s tomorrow and get three or four suits, then to the Exchange for shirts, ties, shoes and a winter overcoat. I have this funny feeling I’ll probably need to get some high-end suits so when we move to Washington I’ll need to get the other suits.” Luckily, even though the clothes might be expensive, the Needlemans could afford it.

        Friday Otis went to Mahon’s and got three suits, one black, one grey, and one blue, plus six white dress shirts and six ties, as well as two pair of dress shoes.

        They had saved during Otis’ military career, and had saved a good bit of his House salary. Otis and Vicki didn’t consider themselves rich, but their house was all paid for and they were pretty well off. They planned to save all Vicki’s First Lady’s after-tax salary and at least half of Otis’ after-tax salary.

        The Federal tax rate for everyone was a flat 40%, withheld from wages and salaries. Returns were brief, no deductions/exemptions/ refunds/etc., just list family members with their Social Security numbers. Taxes were high but you got something for your money. For example, national health-care insurance was cheap, with low copayments. Public college and university tuition was low. Community college tuition was free. K-12 public schools were free and of high quality, and provided meals at no charge. On the flip side, waste in government, at all levels, was low. The Federal budgeting process was rather transparent, with certain exceptions for national defense and security-related programs, which had to be certified by the President. Citizens were encouraged to report possible fraud, waste, and abuse of government resources. “It’s YOUR money – help us protect it against fraud, waste and abuse!”

        On Saturday Otis, Vicki, and two Secret Service agents went to the Goodfellow AFB Exchange and Commissary. Otis picked up a winter coat, a 12-pack of Coors beer and four bottles of wine, two red and two white. Otis always liked going to the commissary, and knew once in Washington it would be years before he could enjoy such a simple pleasure again. He found a nice, big Cure81 ham and a nice turkey, as well as several frozen pies. Otis and Vicki ran into several acquaintances, and a bunch of people just wanted to shake hands with the President. All requests were cheerfully granted.

        The base commander, a brigadier general, rushed over to the commissary when he heard President-select and Mrs. Needleman were there. “Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. President?” “No, general, we’re just doing our shopping. I also very much appreciate the support you’ve provided in storing my classified materials this week.” Otis and Vicki also insisted on taking their place in the checkout line and emptying their own grocery carts, despite the agents’ offer to do so. “No, folks. Thanks anyway. We are grateful to have you protecting us, but you are not our servants. Upon checkout, the bagger bagged the food and loaded the government Studebaker. When Otis, Vicki and the agents returned home Otis refused to allow the agents to carry anything in. “Thanks anyway, but this is my job. Been doing this for many years. You agents do plenty for us as it is.”

        After shopping, Otis spent more time reading the briefing books. He’d finished four books and had started on a fifth.

        Sunday morning brought the Sunday paper, which Otis read over breakfast. There was some discussion in the opinion section about just what a Needleman Administration might be like, which Otis found amusing. Then he and Vicki went to church, taking a seat in the back with the agents so as not to be a spectacle or a distraction. After church Otis and Vicki went to Sunset Mall and enjoyed Chick-Fil-A for lunch, with Agent Grechniw as their lunch guest. “Mark, a question, please.” “Yes, Mr. President.” “Have you or any of the agents seen anyone so far you considered a threat?” “Not yet, sir.” “I know such people are out there but San Angelo’s a good place. Anyway, with you folks we know we’re safe, anytime, anywhere. Thanks.” Agent Grechniw smiled. Good people. This detail should go well.

        Back home, it was time to watch football. Otis split his time between the games and perusing the book re White House living. He finished that book before turning in, but planned to ask for a copy. One day, that book would need to be updated for whoever came after Otis.

        Sunday evening, Donna came home from school. She had been driven from Austin by one of the agents on her detail, a woman maybe six years older, Agent Hannah Riley. Donna introduced Agent Riley to her dad, whom Otis was very happy to meet. “Agent Riley, have you had your dinner? We’d be glad to have you. That way you don’t need to find somewhere to eat in San Angelo on a Sunday afternoon.” The young agent accepted the President-select’s invitation and she joined Otis, Vicki and Donna for dinner.

        Monday, it was back to the regular routine, the walk, breakfast, getting cleaned up then reading briefing books all afternoon. Otis was making good progress on the books, having finished seven. He planned to go through them again after returning from Washington on the 1st. The evening brought Monday Night Football.

        Tuesday was more of the same, and Otis baked two pies, one cherry and one apple, and took a coconut cream pie out to defrost. He finished two more books. So far, from what I have seen, things are pretty good. Janet and her administration have done a fine job. Makes things a lot easier, in the beginning.

        Wednesday Max came from Midland, driven by Agent Chris Hobbs. Max introduced Agent Hobbs to his dad, and Otis invited Agent Hobbs to stay for lunch. Agent Hobbs accepted the invitation. After lunch, Otis finished reading the last of the briefing books in time for the Secret Service agents to take them back to Goodfellow before the vault closed for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. Otis could have had access to the vault over the weekend or anytime but saw no need to put anyone out. Not his style, except in emergency. That evening, Otis baked the ham and checked the turkey, which had been defrosting in the refrigerator since Saturday.

        There was a thunderstorm around 9:00 p.m., and Otis went onto the porch to listen to the rain. Agent Jeffries was also on the porch, standing his post. Across the street, Agent Riley was watching from her car. “Good evening, Mr. President.” “And a good evening to you, Charles. Are you warm enough out here? Anything I can get you?” “I’m good, sir.” “Sometimes I like to sit out here and watch the rain and the lightning. It snows here, every few years. And believe it or not, it can snow very heavily. But it goes away the next day. However, if it snows here watch out on the roads. People here drive like it’s a sunny summer day, so there are lots of accidents. As for me, I like to sit here and listen to the quiet; the snow seems to soak up noise. This winter I believe I’ll see some snow in Washington.” “I would think so, sir.” “Where are you from, Charles?” “Macon, Georgia.” “Georgia’s nice. Spent some time at Warner-Robins AFB on visits during one assignment.”

        Otis paused. “Now when we go to Washington next week, what will you folks do?” “Mr. President, two of us will go with you and Mrs. Needleman, and the other four of us will be here to supervise some security modifications to the house and take some time off.” “Great. It’s hard enough to be out here at all times and in all conditions. I can only imagine how little time agents get to rest, relax and recharge.”

        The rain kept coming down and the sky filled with flashes. “How would you handle a power outage?” “Sir, I’d some inside and Agent Riley would stand post here.” “Sounds good to me. We appreciate all you do for us. Hope you don’t get too tired of hearing that. I can’t pay you more money but I sure can let you know we respect and appreciate your and everyone’s service.” Agent Jeffries grinned. “You’re welcome, Mr. President. It’s been a pleasure.” “This is the easy part, Charles. Once inaugurated, that’s when the real work begins for all of us. No two days will be the same for any of us. And, at least for me, it’s a ‘make your own job’ situation. You know what your duties are. Sometimes I’ll have to read the situation, figure out what to do, then do it. But I’ll get it done. Always have. Always will.” “I’m sure of that, sir.”

        Thanksgiving dawned, sunny and bright. Otis went for the walk, with Agent Hobbs. Everyone else was sleeping in. He stopped and bought a Dallas paper since the Wall Street Journal didn’t print on Thanksgiving. Once home, Otis grabbed a quick bite, prepped and stuffed the turkey, and got it into the oven. Being a good-sized turkey, he figured close to five hours in the oven, then about thirty minutes to set. He finished the paper and got cleaned up. By that time, Vicki and the kids were also up and eating breakfast. Otis called Nick and Joe. Nick was getting ready to go to work; it would be a very busy day. He and Etsuko wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and they said they’d make it for Christmas. Likewise, Joe and his family wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Otis planned to have Joe and his family come to the White House in the summer.

        Around 1:00 the in-laws started showing up. It was good to see them. Otis heard the usual, “Hey, gringo!” from Charlie, which brought a smile to his face. And it was good to see all the nieces and nephews, too, because soon Uncle Otis and Aunt Vicki were moving to the White House.

        Otis kept tabs on the turkey, while scarfing some of Irma’s deviled eggs and drinking a Pepsi. NFL football was on, Green Bay at Dallas. Otis was a New York Jets fan. None of his relatives could understand that; they were all Dallas Cowboys fans. Everyone was sitting around talking about what had happened to Otis, how Donna was doing in school, Max’s job, and how everyone else was doing. At 2:20 Otis turned off the heat for the last ten minutes, and then took the bird out at 2:30. At 3:00 the turkey was ready to carve, and Otis started carving and piling the slices on a platter. Then he sliced the ham. Everyone else was putting the food on the table. The plan was for the family to gather around the table for grace, then serve themselves buffet-style and sit anywhere they could.

        As the family was gathering to say grace, Otis asked Agent Grechniw to come in and join them for grace and food, and then after he ate, Agent Rodriguez could have some dinner. Otis introduced Agent Grechniw to everyone. Charlie offered to stand guard outside the door with Otis’ AK-47, “Don’t worry, I won’t let anyone get the gringo!”, but Agent Grechniw politely declined.

        Maricela said grace, thanking God for many things, for Otis’ selection, and for a good year for the family. Then it was time to eat. Dallas was winning, which made many happy. Agent Grechniw enjoyed his dinner, and then Agent Ashley Rodriguez came in. Otis introduced Agent Rodriguez to the family and she was ushered into the dining room. Ashley filled her plate and sat in the front room, enjoying the family’s interaction. Irma talked with Ashley, and asked her where she was from. “San Antonio, ma’am.” “Another Texas girl! We’re all from San Angelo, except Otis. He’s from Illinois, but we forgive him.”

        It was time for dessert, and everyone helped themselves to pies and a chocolate cake that Tommy brought from his bakery. Otis took a slice of cake out to Agent Grechniw. Agent Rodriguez finished her dinner and resumed her post.

        The second game of the NFL doubleheader had come on, with the San Francisco 49ers playing the Los Angeles Rams, in the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, California. Otis thought, Silicon Valley, one of the beating hearts of our economy. All those brains work wonders, don’t they. Dallas had won earlier so people were happy. The Jets were playing Sunday night, when Otis and Vicki would be at the White House.

        Bellies full, the families followed up their meals with the rest of the beer, wine, and soda. Everyone was of legal drinking age – 18, so no need to worry about any kids helping themselves, as it were, or in this family, as they used to.

        In the kitchen, the trash bags were full with plates, cups, and other trash, so Otis tied them up and put them out in the trash can. Coming back into the house, he encountered Agent Hannah Riley in the back yard, doing a patrol, wished her a Happy Thanksgiving, and offered her something to eat. Agent Riley politely declined, having had her Thanksgiving dinner before showing up on post.

        Around 7:30, people began to trickle out. Donna wanted to go to her Aunt Irma’s house overnight, but had to wait until a Secret Service agent could take her there and make arrangements for her protection. Holiday or not, the security mission remained. A couple of Max’s friends came by, and the three of them went out on the patio for a quick toke. (Remember, marijuana is legal in this USA.)

        By 8:00, after lots of hugs and bear hugs, everyone had left. Otis and Vicki finished cleaning up the kitchen and relaxed on the couch. Outside, Agent Riley stood her post, submachine gun ready under her coat. Across the street, Agent Jeffries stayed vigilant.

        It had been quite a Thanksgiving.


        • #5
          What I am gathering so far of this alternate US looks like an improvement on many aspects of our own. Nice story so far, keep it going!


          • Otis R. Needleman
            Otis R. Needleman commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks. I'm not trying to make it entirely different, but am trying to describe a USA and a world were certain decisions were or weren't made and their likely outgrowths, if this makes sense.

            I like the selection process because it removes politics from it. With a transparent selection process, all are assured it's clean. People in office need not worry about being re-elected and so can take the harder right than the easier wrong. No need to worry about contributors and special interests. Get caught taking a bribe and you are impeached, kicked out, and go to jail. And when you don't need to deal with politics you have more time to handle the nation's business.

          • Jim Smitty
            Jim Smitty commented
            Editing a comment
            I just found this. So far its a good read and the US Government sounds sane. God thats a scary thought anymore.

          • Otis R. Needleman
            Otis R. Needleman commented
            Editing a comment
            Big Jim, the Government's not perfect but things aren't bad, and Otis plans to do his best for the country. In my opinion, a lot of problems in today's Government are due to partisan political battles. What could be done if there were no parties, nobody having to play partisan political games, just work to do what's best for the country? People will still have their agendas. There will still be issues and problems. But with no elections at stake believe things can get done quicker and better.

        • #6
          Here's something on certain aspects of President-select Otis Needleman's America and his world. The US B-32 Dominator bomber actually existed and saw very limited use, with mixed results, at the end of World War II.

          President-select Otis Needleman’s USA was similar in some ways and different in some ways from our USA. We’re going to take a top-level look at the American military and related organizations.

          First, this USA was bigger than our USA. As previously stated, it comprises 64 states, including the former Canada, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. The population in 2016 was about 380 million people.

          When an American reached the age of 18 he or she was subject to the draft until the age of 23. One could be drafted into the military (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard), the Civil Defense and Service Corps, or the Civilian Conservation Corps. The only exemptions were for those severely physically or mentally handicapped, and those going to college or a professional school when called up. When one graduated from college/medical school/dental/school/law school one was obligated to serve four years on active duty as an officer if holding a bachelor’s degree, and seven years on active duty as an officer if one were a doctor, dentist, or lawyer, instead of the two years’ active duty commitment, plus six years in the reserves, enlisted military draftees served. Those in the civilian corps served two years in an active status, then six years in a reserve status. One could voluntarily enlist in the military or the civilian corps.

          Keep in mind that not everyone was drafted. Over five million people reached draft age every year, and there were substantial numbers of volunteers, plus career personnel in both the military and the civilian corps. Nevertheless, it was understood that everyone had an obligation to serve the nation, one way or another, for a part of their lives as Americans.

          One big difference here – this USA no longer had any national military academies. They were done away with near the end of the 19th Century. This USA didn’t want a military elite to develop and flourish, possibly at odds with the rest of the nation. Instead, prospective officers received training as part of their college/university/community college curricula. In addition, draftees scoring high on entrance exams were offered the chance to go through Officer Candidate School. The intent was to get, develop, and grow well-rounded officers that could be flexible and think on their feet, not a bunch of hidebound, brown-nosing careerists.

          The United States Army comprised 1,500,000 men and women, in thirty mechanized divisions, plus other units. While most of the Army was stationed in the USA, there was a field army of two corps or six divisions in North China, as part of the US/Russian/North Chinese Combined Field Army. Two more divisions were in neighboring Korea, and one in Japan, plus other units. These divisions were earmarked as immediate reinforcements to the Combined Field Army should the South Chinese attack. There were some smaller deployments in other parts of the world, primarily military training missions, liaison missions, and civil assistance missions.

          The United States Navy was made up of 800,000 men and women, operating 400 major combatants, as well as smaller vessels and other units. There was a Pacific Fleet and an Atlantic Fleet. While most of the Navy was home ported in the USA, one carrier group was home ported in Vladivostok, Russia, and one home ported in Yokosuka, Japan. These carrier groups served in support of the Combined Field Army in North China, and would be augmented as needed. The US Navy had basing arrangements throughout the world in cooperation with the respective national governments.

          The United States Air Force numbered 750,000, with fighters, bombers, transports, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as other units. Again, while much of the USAF was based in the USA, there was a fighter wing in North China, a fighter wing in Korea, one in Japan, and one in the Philippines, all as part of the containment/deterrent of South China and a fighting force if needed. The USAF deploys overseas to other locations as needed for training and exercises, and in turn certain foreign air forces will visit the USA for training opportunities limited or unavailable in their own countries. For example, the British Royal Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, and the Japanese Air Self-Defense force do a great deal of training in the US Southwest, and depending on the time of the year, the US Far North (former Canada), with their many areas sporting a relatively low level of air traffic.

          The United States Marine Corps was 400,000 strong, in ten divisions, plus air wings, Marine Expeditionary Units, and other units. Again, most of the Marine Corps was stationed in the USA, but two divisions plus an air wing were stationed on Okinawa, a part of Japan, to serve as reinforcements for the Combined Field Army in North China.

          The Coast Guard numbered 100,000, stationed throughout the USA. While no Coast Guard units were permanently stationed outside the USA, they worked with other countries. The Coast Guard did a lot of combined search and rescue operations, plus certain law enforcement operations, with the Russian Navy and Coast Guard in the Alaska, Arctic Ocean, and Aleutian Islands areas, as well as with the Mexican and other navies in the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean.

          The USA also had very robust special operations forces, drawn from all services. Major areas of deployment were the countries neighboring or near South China. These forces primarily trained and advised the local militaries, but as needed and with the consent of the local governments participated in counter-insurgency operations.

          All services had reserves and their respective National Guards, based throughout the USA, which were available for callup as needed. The total of these forces equaled the numbers on active duty.

          Some may say the USA maintains a very large military, but the nation believes preparedness is cheaper than subjugation. This USA’s defense budget is rather larger than our USA’s, but this USA doesn’t have certain government departments, such as the Education Department, the Energy Department, the Veterans’ Administration medical system, or the Environmental Protection Agency. These functions are handled on the appropriate scale by other departments, or in the case of the VA medical system, veterans get their care in civilian facilities.

          We haven’t said much about nuclear forces yet. There’s some history here.

          During the 1940-46 Great War, the Allies (USA, Britain, and Russia) cooperated on an atomic bomb project. In this world Albert Einstein is a happy subject of the German Kaiser, and he heads the German atomic bomb project. The Allies’ effort is aided by scientists who flee Western Europe ahead of advancing German armies or escape from Occupied Europe.

          Development took place in the USA, with American, British, Russian, and refugee European nuclear scientists, physicists, and skilled personnel. The Russians and British contributed all they could even while Britain faced Germany alone across the English Channel and a substantial part of the Russian Empire felt German and Japanese boots. These gallant countries sent their people over, certain equipment, and in the case of Russia, certain raw materials in the holds of returning ships that had carried Lend-Lease aid.

          The first nuclear device was tested in October, 1945, in New Mexico. The test was a success, estimated at 100 kilotons. This was very well received in London, Moscow, and Washington. While the Allies were advancing against the Germans in Europe, and against the Japanese in Asia, the Germans couldn’t be allowed to field a nuclear weapon. Allied bombers and special forces had been keeping German atomic development facilities under attack, but there was no way to know if the Germans had that bomb built. In the Pacific, US forces had reached the approaches to the Japanese home islands. While the Japanese nuclear program was negligible, the Allies anticipated very heavy casualties in case of an invasion of Japan.

          US, British, and Russian bomber crews had been training in the USA since June 1945 to drop atomic bombs. Each country trained a squadron. All three countries flew US B-32 Dominator bombers. In December, 1945, the British and Russian squadrons returned home and the Americans deployed to Tinian, in the Pacific. The first nine atomic bombs, three for each country, went separately by warships in heavily guarded convoys.

          On February 2, 1946, in a coordinated attack, the RAF dropped one atomic bomb on the main German atomic production facility, the Russians dropped an atomic bomb on Berlin, and the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Kokura, Japan. The surviving German leadership agreed to an unconditional surrender. The Americans dropped one more atomic bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, and then the Japanese also agreed to surrender.

          The Great War was over.

          It was learned from surviving German nuclear program personnel that the first test of a nuclear device was scheduled for March 15, 1946. The Allies had won the race by just six weeks.

          Post-war, the USA provided complete atomic bomb production plants to Britain and Russia, modeled on the US plants. All the equipment was exactly the same. Blueprints for the buildings were included, should the recipients wish to build them. All three countries had worked together to develop the weapon, so all three countries were entitled to build the weapons as they saw fit. Britain was short of fissile materials, but Russia agreed to sell them what they needed. The three countries also agreed not to provide any other country atomic weapons technology and after the effects of fallout became apparent nuclear weapons testing was carried out only underground. Lastly, all three countries agreed not to place any nuclear weapons in space.

          Over the years, all three countries continued to develop nuclear weapons and delivery systems. To greater and lesser extents, the USA, British, and Russians use the “triad” of land-based missiles, gravity bombs, and sea-launched missiles. While the exact numbers are classified, it’s believed the USA has about 1500 nuclear weapons, with 200 nuclear-capable bombers, 10 ballistic missile submarines, and 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles, plus cruise missiles. These numbers may seem high since the USA has no intention whatsoever of attacking Britain or Russia, but South China is a concern.

          A nuclear-armed South China could end up posing a danger to the entire world. In very close-hold, very top-level discussions, the three nuclear powers have discussed a pre-emptive nuclear strike on South Chinese nuclear facilities if it were discovered the South Chinese were developing nuclear weapons.

          Last edited by Otis R. Needleman; 08-03-2016, 07:41 PM. Reason: Changed numbers due to some good suggestions.


          • La Rouge Beret
            La Rouge Beret commented
            Editing a comment
            I see we share the same opinion that service academys have a deleterious impact on their respective services. Although a product of my country's rotc scheme, with acknowledged bias, I have always thought having candidates endure real world hardship broadens the horizon.

            A 600 ship Navy... gee whiz.

          • Otis R. Needleman
            Otis R. Needleman commented
            Editing a comment
            ROTC here, too. Later trained some Air Force Academy graduates. As a group, the least flexible in a job where flexibility was utmost. By the time you made captain, though or navy full lieutenant, the differences between commissioning sources largely smoothed out. But ROTC and Officer Training School puts out just as good an officer, far more cheaply than the academies.

            Yup, 600 ships. Cheaper to be prepared than subjugated, and ensures freedom of the seas worldwide.

        • #7
          Otis and Vicki make a first, brief trip to Washington.

          November 27, 2016, 11:30 a.m., Central time
          San Angelo, Texas
          Mathis Field

          President-select Otis and Vicki Needleman, accompanied by Secret Service Agents Mark Grechniw and Lorraine Wagner, departed San Angelo’s airport on a Gulfstream 650 business jet decked out in blue and white, and bearing the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. Also on board the plane were the two U.S. Air Force pilots and an Air Force sergeant who was the steward.

          About an hour into the flight the steward served lunch. Otherwise, everyone just sat back, talked, and enjoyed the flight. Otis reviewed the itinerary. Otis and Vicki had carried their winter coats; the temperature in the nation’s capital would be about thirty-five degrees when the plane landed. The forecast for the next few days was for cool weather, with highs only in the 50’s.

          The plane touched down at Andrews AFB, Washington, D.C., around 4:40 p.m. Eastern time. Otis and Vicki thanked the steward and the pilots, and then descended from the plane. President-select Needleman and his wife were met by Air Force Brigadier General George Louie, commander of the 89th Airlift Wing, responsible for transporting the President, Vice-President, and other high government officials. “Welcome to Washington, Mr. President, Mrs. Needleman. I hope your flight was good.” “Thank you general, the flight was great. The crew did a fine job and we appreciate it.”

          General Louie showed the Needlemans to a waiting limousine, driven by a Secret Service agent. Agents Grechniw and Wagner were in a car behind them, and there was another Secret Service car, with two more agents, in front. The three-vehicle motorcade made its’ way to the White House.

          Once at the White House, an usher took Otis and Vicki’s coats while a staff member escorted them to the Mims’ private residence. President Janet Mims and her husband, Hank Mims welcomed the incoming President and his wife. Introductions were made all around and Janet inquired about the trip. “Just fine, thanks.” “How are the books going, Otis?” “I’ve finished them all, then when I go back home I’ll go through them again.” “Good move. The next few days will tie some things together but also bring new questions. We’ll also start sending you intelligence summaries to get you up to speed.” “Thanks for all the help, Janet and Hank.” Hank said, “We know what it’s like. Harv and Marsha Eberling did the same for us six years ago.” Otis replied, “And we’ll do the same for the next President.”

          Janet and Hank Mims gave Otis and Vicki a tour of the private residence. “We use just the one bedroom unless the kids come up.” Janet and Hank also had two sons and a daughter, grown now. “I use this room for my sewing.” Janet was a seamstress before becoming a Senator and later President. “It’s a good way to get your mind off things and make something nice.” Hank added, “During the summer I try to go fishing now and then, maybe catch a ball game. We’ll barbecue out on the patio. Vicki, as the First Lady you won’t be as busy as Otis but you still want to make time for yourself.” Janet also added, “Otis, you really want to pace yourself. Make time every day to exercise, even just a walk or a swim in the pool. Block that time out on your schedule, because otherwise things start to creep in.” “Janet, what exercise do you do?” “I walk most days. On slower days I swim. Hank and I bowl downstairs a couple of times a month. And while sewing isn’t real physical, making clothes is fun.”

          Dinner was served in the dining room. The two couples talked about their lives and their families over dinner. Janet and Hank were in their mid-60s, a few years older than Otis. They were grandparents to two grandchildren. Janet had two sisters and a brother; Hank had three brothers. “Over the years, we’ve been able to get everyone up here at least once, and we’ve had family members join us at the Cuban White House and the Santa Barbara White House.” “Who pays for their travel, Janet?” “Secret Service protectees and their families are paid for by the government. Others have to pay $300 per person, round-trip.” “That’s not bad.” “You get charged for their meals but it isn’t that much. They take it out of your pay.”

          After dinner, the two couples talked a little longer, and then Janet said, “Otis, there are some things Hank and I need to do this evening. If you don’t mind, I’ll have one of the agents show you to your quarters, and if you like, the agent can show you around the White House. This being a Sunday evening, it’s pretty quiet, look anywhere you like, the Oval Office, the gym, pool, watch a movie. You and I will get together in the Oval Office at 10, gives you time to get breakfast, exercise, what have you. Vicki, believe you and Hank meet around that time in his office; the agent will take you there. These few days just listen and let it soak in, enjoy it, and meet people. When you come up after the New Year, that’s when you’ll start the transition. Beats the heck out of coming in cold.” Otis and Vicki smiled. “Thanks for everything this evening, Janet and Hank. We’re looking forward to the time working together.” A Secret Service agent came and got the Needlemans.

          Otis and Vicki unpacked in their suite – bedroom, sitting room, kitchenette/dining, bathroom - and then asked the agent to show them around the White House. The Needlemans looked at the portraits of past Presidents – white, black, Asian, men, women – and saw the greatness of America, the country where anyone could become President. They went downstairs and looked at the gym, where a few people assigned to the White House were working out. The swimming pool was very nice. Otis and Vicki looked forward to swimming there. The bowling alley was small, but nice. “Not a bad way to unwind. On another subject, toots, you might want to ask Janet how she gets out to go shopping. I doubt she would do it all on line, and sometimes you’re going to want to get out of here. It would be too easy to live in this cocoon all the time.” “Oh, no, I’ll ask before the transition.” They saw the movie theater, where first-run movies were available, downloaded directly from the studios. The agent showed them the remote controls, allowing a person to watch movies or satellite TV. “Hey, you could watch the Super Bowl here with friends, or a movie.”

          Otis and Vicki looked around some more then asked the agent to show them back to their suite. Otis asked if it was possible to have a Wall Street Journal shoved under the door around 7:00 a.m. “Indeed, sir. Would you like the Washington Post or New York Times?” “No, thanks. How do we go about getting breakfast tomorrow?” “Just call down to the kitchen, tell them what you want and when you want it. There’s a card with phone numbers for the kitchen, the doctor, maid or valet, Secret Service, etc. They already know you and Mrs. Needleman are here. And if you’d like a snack this evening just call down.” “Thank you very much, ma’am.” “Anything else I can do for you, Mr. President? Mrs. Needleman?” “If you would, please, let the Secret Service desk know I may be calling around 7:20 to get an escort for a walk. I usually walk first thing in the morning on weekdays, dressed in athletic gear. While I’d like to walk around outside the grounds, if you folks believe it unsafe I can walk around the grounds.” “I’ll be happy to let them know, Mr. President.” “Thank you, ma’am. What is your name, please?” “Susan Hayes.”
          Otis and Vicki smiled. “Thank you for everything this evening, Susan. Is this your regular detail?” “Yes, sir.” “Then we’ll look forward to having you around, and we appreciate it.” Agent Hayes smiled. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Needleman, and again, welcome to the White House.” “Good night, Susan.”

          With that, Otis shut the door. “Gee, better call everyone and let them know we got in okay. Just eight back home, won’t scare anyone.” “Yeah, why don’t you call your brother and the kids and I’ll call my family.” “Sounds good to me, sweetie.” Otis called Joe, who was glad to hear from them. He then called Donna, who was studying in the University library, Secret Service agent nearby. “Hi, Donna!” “Hi, Dad!” “How’s it going?” “Good, here at the library with Agent Borowski.” Agent Rick Borowski was one of the four agents on Donna’s protective detail. “Cool, just wanted to let you know Mom and I are here at the White House. Had dinner with President and Mr. Mims, took a little tour. Want to talk to Mom?” “I’ll talk to her later. Got schoolwork to do.” “Okay, love you.” “Love you, too.”

          Otis then called Max, who was watching football with his girlfriend Suzy Thomas. “Yo, Max!” “Hey, Pop! You and Mom having a good time?” “Yeah, so far, so good. Had dinner with the Mims’. Then we got a little tour of the White House. Some neat stuff here. When you get a chance this summer come on out. Maybe get all you kids here at once.” “That sounds good, Pop.” “Anything else going on? Want to talk to Mom?” “Okay.”

          Otis handed Vicki the phone and she gave Otis the phone where she’d been talking to Charlie. “Hey, Frito Bandito!” “What did you do with my sister, gringo?” Aah, she’s talking to Max.” “How’s it going? Good trip?” “Yeah, had dinner with President Mims and her husband, took a little tour of the place. I think it’s going to be an amazing six years, Charlie.” “Yeah, but I want you and Vicki to take care of yourselves. I’ve seen pictures of Presidents at the start and end of their terms, and most of them look pretty worn-out.” “Thanks, pal. Yeah, going to get that exercise and try to pace myself. Have to get out of here some, too. They say the Cuban White House is nice, check out Havana, too.” “You could get me some cigars.” “Shoot, come on down and get your own.” “I’d like that, Otis.” “Me, too. Looks like Max has let your sister go, so I’ll pass this back to her.” “Take care.” “Will do.”

          Otis then called Nick, who was at work, and left a message. Then he called Haruko, who was happy to hear from her in-laws. Haruko, maiden name Haruko Wakayama, originally from Los Angeles, was a registered nurse at a hospital in San Antonio. She and Nick had been married just over a year. Like everyone else in Otis and Vicki’s family, Haruko and Nick were getting used to having Secret Service agents around.

          It had been a long day. Otis and Vicki went to sleep.

          Monday, Otis got up just after 7:00 a.m., to find a Wall Street Journal under the door. He scanned the front page and got dressed for a walk. At 7:20 Otis called the Secret Service for an escort, and a few moments later two agents appeared, dressed in athletic togs. “Thanks for coming, agents. I’d like to walk for about forty minutes. What works better for you as far as security? “Mr. President, this morning I’d recommend we walk around the grounds and maybe in the gym. Tomorrow and Wednesday mornings we could walk in the National Mall area. This would give us time to set up security.” “Sounds good to me. Tomorrow I’ll walk there; imagine you’d have a route.” “We will, sir.”

          Otis let the agents lead him on a route around the White House grounds, keeping an eye on his watch. He talked with the agents and listened to their radio chatter. The temperature was in the upper 30’s, sunny, with a slight breeze. While walking outside, Otis noticed all the traffic on the busy Washington streets. Well, for the next six years commuting shouldn’t be much of a problem.

          Just after eight Otis returned to the guest suite. Vicki was still asleep. He called the kitchen and requested four fried eggs, sunny-side up, two pancakes with syrup, a banana and milk for breakfast. The food came a few minutes later and a server placed the meal on the dining-area table. Otis ate breakfast, which was very good, while reading the newspaper. He also looked at the itinerary today. Meeting with Janet and the Vice-President at 10. Medal presentation at 11, and then meet Russian Ambassador and his wife and their Air Force Chief and his wife. Lunch around 12 or so, then more meet and greets.

          Otis called softly to his wife, “You up, sweets?” Vicki answered, a little sleepily, “Pretty much.” Otis went in the bedroom and kissed his “Latin lovely” good morning. “Good night’s sleep, toots?” “Yes, little unusual for the first night in a new place. How was the walk?” “Good. Going to walk around the National Mall tomorrow when they get the security set up. Breakfast was good.” “Did you get some coffee? “ “Nah, I didn’t know when you would get up. I’ll call and get a pot sent up; what about some breakfast?” “What do they have?” “I have this funny feeling it’s more like ‘what do you want’?” “Heck, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast with butter, some cherry yogurt, and a banana, then.” “Will do, sweets. Once I’m inaugurated, we’ll meet with the chefs and the kitchen to discuss our personal taste in meals.” “Yeah, good idea.” Otis called down with Vicki’s breakfast order, and about fifteen minutes later the same server cleared Otis’ breakfast dishes and laid out Vicki’s breakfast. Otis thanked the young man.

          “While you eat, I’d better get cleaned up. What’s your first thing today?” “Nothing until the medal presentation at 11. Then we’re together at least through lunch.” “We’ll be two ships on sometimes-connecting courses for the next few days.” Otis then went and got cleaned up and dressed, in a new grey suit with a dark blue tie. Mahon’s had done a good job on the suits.

          Otis finished reading the paper, then a few minutes before ten there was a knock at the door. “Mr. President?” Otis opened the door to find a young Coast Guard lieutenant and a Secret Service agent there. “We’re here to get you to the 10:00 with President Mims.” “Just a sec, folks.” Otis turned and called, “See you at the ceremony, toots!” “Okay, honey!” Otis laughed and said, “Lead on, please!”

          A couple of minutes later Otis arrived at the outer office to the Oval Office, and was introduced to Mrs. Harriet Yu, President Mims’ secretary. “I’m looking forward to working with you, ma’am.” Janet Mims had told Otis last night that Harriet was a tenacious protector of the boss. She had no problem letting someone who’d stayed too long with the President know it was time to leave.

          The Coast Guard officer opened the door to the Oval Office and the President-select walked in. Nearly two hundred years of history hit Otis. He smiled and saw Janet Mims there, as well as an Asian gentleman he took to be the Vice-President, Kenneth Doo. President Mims asked the Coast Guard officer to shut the door. “Good morning, Otis!” “Good morning, Janet!” The Vice-President stood up and said, “Welcome, Mr. President! I’m Ken Doo!” “Pleased to meet you, Ken! When it’s just us call me Otis and my wife’s Vicki.” Janet asked how things went last night, and Otis let her know things had been great, a nice tour, good walk, etc. “How are things going for you two this morning?” “For a Monday, pretty quiet. We had the intelligence briefing at eight, then the Cabinet meeting at eight-thirty for an hour. Couple of phone calls and a little paperwork, and here we are.” “Anything really hairy going on?” Janet and Ken shook their heads. “Sounds good to me.”

          The three of them sat and talked for a while. The Vice-President was in his mid-40’s and like Otis had previously been a Representative from California. Ken was married to the former Maureen Drysdale and they had two children, one in college, and one in high school. They lived in the Vice-President’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory. Otis and Vicki would be the Doos’ dinner guests this evening.

          Shortly before 11, Hank Mims and two Secret Service agents came by Otis and Vicki’s suite and got Vicki for the medal ceremony. “Welcome to the first event as a First Lady. We’ll get there, and then our spouses and the Vice-President will show up. You and I won’t be doing anything during the ceremony, but we’ll meet with the family and then meet the Russian Ambassador, his wife, and the chief of the Russian Air Force and his wife.” The two First Spouses sat in their assigned seats in the East Room, which had place cards.

          Right at 11, a voice called, “THE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT-SELECT, AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!” Janet Mims, Otis, and Ken Doo walked together and were shown to their respective seats.

          The medal ceremony was very moving. In September, a USAF F-25 fighter participating in an exercise in Russia developed serious mechanical problems. The pilot, Captain Katherine Taylor, was able to keep the plane steady enough for her weapons officer, Captain Wayne Applewhite, to eject. However, Captain Taylor saw the plane was very close to the village of Rubinka; she could see children playing in the schoolyard. Captain Taylor was able to steer the dying fighter away from the village before crashing, saving about two hundred lives, including the children at the school. President Mims, together with General Ron Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, presented Captain Taylor’s family with a posthumous Medal of Honor, and Marshal Pyotr Lubenko, Chief of Staff, Russian Air Force, together with Ambassador Sergei Kuznetsov, presented Captain Taylor’s family with the St. George Cross in gold and diamonds, Russia’s highest military honor.

          Marshal Lubenko said, “There is no greater love than one who lays down her life for her brother or her sister. In just a few seconds, Captain Taylor loved these people enough to steer that plane away from the village, away from our children. This medal is a symbol of the gratitude and love of the Russian people for Captain Taylor and her family.”

          Ambassador Kuznetsov added, “Once again, a fine American has joined the ranks of all the Americans who have laid down their lives for Russia, helping protect and defend Russia and the Russian people over the years. Captain Taylor’s picture will be in the Hall of Heroes at the Bolshoi Square in Moscow, together with the pictures of all other recipients of the St. George Cross with gold and diamonds. On behalf of the Tsar and the Prime Minister, I invite the Taylor family to visit Moscow as the guests of Russia.”

          General Fogleman spoke. “Captain Taylor’s sacrifice was above and beyond the call of duty, in the highest traditions of the American military and the United States Air Force. This brave pilot gave up all her tomorrows so hundreds on the ground could have them, instead. Captain Taylor’s sacrifice shall never be forgotten.”

          President Mims then spoke. “Captain Taylor hailed from a small town in Iowa. She wanted to fly fighters. Captain Taylor worked hard to learn and develop herself, not just as a pilot, but as a person. She knew why she was flying that day, and never hesitated to put the lives of the people in Rubinka, especially all the children, before her own. As a mother and grandmother myself, I fully appreciate and understand what that means. Katherine Taylor exemplifies the best of America, that giving spirit, that spirit of service, and, when needed, of sacrifice.

          After the ceremony, Otis and Vicki met with the family and expressed their gratitude and condolences. Otis didn’t speak at the ceremony because this was Janet’s duty.

          In a side room, President Mims introduced Otis and Vicki to General Fogleman, Marshal and Mrs. Lubenko, and Ambassador and Mrs. Kuznetsov. Vice-President Doo introduced his wife to Marshal and Mrs. Lubenko, as well as Otis and Vicki. Then the party, joined by Hank Mims, adjourned to a small dining room for an informal luncheon. When Otis and Vicki came back in January they would be seeing Ambassador Kuznetsov and his wife again, of course. Otis also fully expected to visit Russia and host state visits from the Prime Minister and Tsar during his term. In the same vein, he didn’t expect the Prime Minister to be a stranger at all. They had a number of issues to work together, so there would be emails and phone calls, plus the communications at the lower levels.

          The rest of the afternoon was taken up by meeting people and seeing various parts of the White House. That evening Otis and Vicki were guests of the Doos’ for dinner. Otis and Ken hit it off well, as did Vicki and Maureen. Otis and Vicki also met Ryan Doo, Ken and Maureen’s son, a junior in high school.

          The next two days followed suit. Otis got up and took walks around the National Mall, following a route laid out by the Secret Service. After breakfast, he would stop by the Oval Office, meet with Janet and Ken, who as far as he could tell worked as a team, to hear what was going on and get some heads-up on things he might be dealing with soon. Then it was meeting more people. Hank introduced Vicki to people, and she accompanied him to a couple of meetings.

          Hank and Vicki spent time discussing what she and Otis might want to have moved from San Angelo for their family residence. The place came furnished, with everything down to linens, cookware, and tableware, which was provided new for each family. The government also provided Otis and Vicki new secure personal computers for the residence. Otis would have a new secure personal computer in the Oval Office. Hank also provided info on who to see to get a private mailing address at the White House. The President got a lot of mail, but didn’t actually see that much of it. Many citizens wrote letters to the President, which were usually answered with a canned answer, or by the staff, and signed with an autopen. But letters from friends and family members needed different handling, as well as purchases made by mail or online.

          One issue of discussion that came up was Otis’ Inaugural parade. While Otis would have preferred a low-key Inaugural at the White House, the large, public Inaugural once again would remind America and the world of the American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next. So Otis got to pick what he wanted in his parade. About the only things he was really hard over about were having a company of soldiers in battle dress uniforms (no packs) with rifles marching, a company of Marines similarly attired marching, a company of sailors, a company of Coast Guardsmen, and a squadron of Air Force airmen marching, backed by a company of tanks, and flyovers by a flight of Air Force fighters, a flight of Navy fighters, a flight of Marine fighters, a couple of Coast Guard transports, and a flight of Army helicopter gunships. The parade planners found this reasonable. Some past Inaugurals had seen an entire Army division marching, with their vehicles, or squadrons of bombers flying over. Otis wanted to showcase all of the nation’s military, the best in the world, defending freedom.

          On Thursday morning, December 1, Janet, Hank, Otis and Vicki met for breakfast. Otis and Vicki gave the Mims’ some small Christmas gifts in recognition of their help and hospitality. Otis would come to Washington permanently on January 5, and Vicki would follow him on the 16th, after arranging to have things moved to the White House. Otis would also need to make arrangements to have their cars stored, given away, or sold. For the next six years Otis doubted he and Vicki would be driving their cars.

          Around four on December 1 a private jet in U.S. livery brought Otis and Vicki back to Mathis Field, and the Secret Service took them home. While Otis and Vicki had been gone the Secret Service had made part of the garage into a room for the protective details, complete with a bathroom, had put bulletproof glass into all windows, installed a secure computer in the den for Otis’ use, and the White House Communications Agency had installed a secure phone with an additional, secure line to the White House.

          It had been quite a trip. Otis greeted the Secret Service agents at the house like family members. “Good to be home!” “Good to see you, Mr. President.” Otis asked Agent Jeffries to pass on his thanks for the work done to the house, and advised him of their planned move-out dates to Washington.

          After a couple of days to relax, Otis and Vicki resumed their preparations to move to the White House and take up their new positions as President and First Lady.
          Last edited by Otis R. Needleman; 07-29-2016, 05:38 PM.


          • #8
            In writing this story, I did a little research.

            Check this out. This is the budget for running the Executive Office of the President in Fiscal Year 2017, which starts in October 2016. In two words, holy shit! The budget for running the EOP in President Otis Needleman's USA is different. Not going to get into an extreme level of detail but as can be imagined some things covered or done in our USA aren't covered or done, or done differently, in President Needleman's USA.


            Having said that, here are some short bits having to do with the Needleman Administration.

            With the vast majority, if not just about all Supreme Court Justices, Representatives, Senators, Vice-Presidents, and Presidents coming from “non-rich” backgrounds, bribery was a real concern, despite the good salaries for these positions.

            In our timeline it isn’t uncommon, for example, to see politicians hob-nobbing with the rich and powerful in private luxury boxes at professional sporting events. In President Needleman’s USA, the U.S. Government pays for a luxury box, or its’ equivalent, from every NFL, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League Team. The locations of these luxury boxes are rotated periodically for security. These boxes hold up to ten people and are stocked with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. The President gets first choice. If the President isn’t attending, the Vice-President goes next, then the Supreme Court, then Senators, then Representatives, first-come, first-served.

            The deadline for requesting the use of a box varies with the sport. For NFL games, it’s 72 hours before the game. For MLB, NBA, or NHL games, it’s 24 hours before the game.

            In practice, in some places, the boxes were in constant use. In others, not so much. The President only attended NFL games when a team he liked was playing the Redskins or the Ravens. He only attended MLB games when his favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, played the Washington Senators. The President attended perhaps one NBA game a year, when the San Antonio Spurs played the Washington Nationals, and didn’t attend NHL games at all. Vice-Presidents Doo, and later Solmonson, weren’t huge fans of attending sporting events, either. But others made up for the President and Vice-Presidents’ limited attendance. Since it was fairly quick and easy to get to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston from Washington attendance was good. Senators and Representatives going home for a visit or on vacation/break made use of the luxury box passes. They’d call the White House and see what was available.

            Some legislators liked to play golf. Legislators, Supreme Court Justices, the Vice-President and the President were authorized to play on the golf courses of any military base, but only the President and Vice-President had priority for tee times. During the Needleman Administration, this priority was almost never used. Neither President Needleman nor Vice-President Doo golfed. Vice-President Solmonson occasionally golfed and would use the priority.

            It was very important to President Needleman to keep tabs on what life was like for people outside the White House. For example, he wanted to know how much things cost in stores downtown, how public libraries looked, conditions in hospitals, and other areas of American life, unsanitized by well-meaning staff members. And the President and Vice-President would take unusual measures to check things out. Every few months, either singly or together, the President and Vice-President would go late at night with Secret Service agents in Chevy Suburbans to local-area supermarkets and stores. The President and Vice-President would dress very casually, accompanied by casually-dressed Secret Service agents. Visits were coordinated with local law enforcement and store managers. The two men would walk through the store, noting prices, merchandise, etc. Sometimes they would do a little shopping for themselves, their wives, or other family members. The President and Vice-President always paid for their purchases, politely refusing all offers to take what they wanted without charge. They would also visit stores in areas where they were visiting, as well.

            The President and Vice-President would do the same at local hospitals and hospitals in areas where they might be visiting, as well as public libraries. The two men would also carefully note things on the streets.

            One thing the President and Vice-President liked to do on the way back “home” from these nocturnal visits was stop off somewhere for donuts and milk or coffee. The Secret Service and/or local law enforcement always knew of 24-hour donut shops. Since the President didn’t drink, and the Vice-President rarely had more than a glass of wine at home, and were family men, they didn’t go to night clubs and bars. But every now and then, in certain 24-hour donut shops, you could see two casually-dressed men who looked suspiciously like President Needleman and Vice-President Doo, later Vice-President Solmonson relaxing with a couple of donuts, in the company of some tough-looking Secret Service agents, often with local police or sheriff’s deputies who had just happened to have dropped by. The respective wives always enjoyed the donuts their husbands brought back. And the agents/local law enforcement enjoyed the donuts and coffee, as treats of the President or Vice-President.

            Nobody could say that President Needleman or Vice-President Doo, and later Vice-President Solmonson, didn’t know how much things cost in stores, or didn’t see how crowded emergency rooms could get, or didn’t know that some public libraries could use more books. These men never forgot where they came from, and used the information gathered in their work.

            The Supreme Court has been mentioned here. In this USA, it’s also comprised of eight Justices and one Chief Justice. However, terms are for ten years, and justices are selected by lottery from Federal court judges between the ages of 40 and 60. The Chief Justice is picked by a drawing among the Justices who have been on the Supreme Court at least three years. The Chief Justice normally spends the rest of his or Supreme Court term as Chief Justice, but can resign to revert back to a Justice. Justices and Chief Justices can resign for health reasons. Replacements are immediately selected and serve the regular ten-year term. Supreme Court Justices earn $750,000 per year, and the Chief Justice is paid $850,000 per year.

            Because there are no elections per se, and no political parties per se in this USA, there aren’t any purely political appointees, say, to Cabinet positions or ambassadorships. The President can appoint people to these positions or they can be filled by career civil servants/Foreign Service officers, as applicable. Most Presidents fill these positions in both ways. At the start of a new President’s term all Cabinet members and ambassadors submit their resignations to the incoming President, and when new Cabinet members come into the Cabinet or ambassadors are appointed/selected they submit an undated resignation letter. The new President decides to accept resignations, if and when he or she deems appropriate. So Cabinet members/ambassadors are never fired. The President just accepts their resignation. Cabinet members/ambassadors can also resign for personal reasons or reasons of ill health. Such resignations are almost always immediately accepted.

            Here are the Cabinet positions in the Needleman Administration. In line with the belief that the government which governs least governs best, this Cabinet is smaller than in our USA. Just because a Department has a function doesn’t mean it’s done the same way it is in our USA. While the numbers of Cabinet positions and their functions have changed over the years, the positions in Janet Mims’ Cabinet and Otis Needleman’s Cabinet didn’t change. The Vice-President is also a Cabinet member. Listing is in order of succession to the Presidency. One note: the Speaker of the House of Representatives is not a Cabinet member but is second in line of succession to the Presidency after the Vice-President.

            Secretary of Defense (Initially known as Secretary of War, also includes Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs)
            Secretary of State (Also includes the US Mission and Ambassador to the United Nations)
            Secretary of the Interior (Also includes Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development)
            Secretary of the Treasury
            Department of Justice
            Secretary of Commerce (Also includes the Postal Service, Labor, Energy and Small Business Administration)
            Secretary of Agriculture (Also includes Environmental Protection Agency functions)

            The following positions also hold Cabinet rank:
            White House Chief of Staff
            Office of Management and Budget

            There’s also a National Security Council, which most Cabinet members are also members of, and a National Security Adviser.

            There is also an Executive Office of the President (EOP), created to provide support to the President and Vice-President. This USA’s EOP is much smaller than the EOP in our USA. This USA’s EOP administers Presidential and Vice-Presidential operations and the Office of the First Lady (or Gentleman), doing things like speechwriting, staffing, scheduling, research, and runs the operations of the White House. The White House Chief of Staff is in charge of the EOP.

            Remember, this is a very high-level overview. While every effort is made to keep government as small as possible, the sheer size of the nation, the economy, and the military, befitting the number one nation on Earth, means there’s still a lot to do that can’t be done at the state, county, or local levels.


            • #9
              Otis just found and read through all of it. Part of me wants to live in this US. Its a very different take on how to govern, but I believe it could work. Looking forward to more.


            • #10
              The Needlemans are getting closer to the move to Washington. Their son Nick and his wife Haruko have a surprise for everyone.

              Otha Whitton worked at the Ord Community Commissary. He was a good man. It wasn't a trip to the commissary for me unless I shot the breeze with Otha for a bit. Otha Whitton lost his life in a traffic accident in late January of this year.

              December 2016 was a fairly active time at President-select and Mrs. Needleman’s house.

              Otis was spending time each day at the secure computer and secure phone in the den. He read the daily intelligence briefing Janet Mims got. Otis and Janet spent some time talking, as well.

              Otis and Ken Doo were spending more time talking together. They were devising their strategy for working best as a team once Otis was inaugurated. Some Presidents relegated Vice-Presidents to virtual ceremonial status, especially if the President was already in office when the Vice-President came in. That was ridiculous, to Otis’ way of thinking. If you have someone that can be of help, why NOT use that person? And if something happens to you, it makes it much easier for the Vice-President to pick up the ball and run with it.

              Janet Mims had made pretty good use of her Vice-Presidents, first Otha Whitton, and then Ken Doo. Otha had helped Janet get up to speed when she had come in. By the same token, Janet had helped Ken, and now Ken was helping Otis. Otis looked at Ken Doo more as an Associate President than a Vice-President. For example, he envisioned Ken managing certain problems, such as natural disasters. While Otis would be involved at the beginning, day-to-day Ken could work with those involved and keep Otis in the loop. Both men agreed there was just too much stuff to do for a President to try to do it all by himself and relegate the Vice-President to the sidelines. However, any final decision to use nuclear weapons or go to war was in Otis’ hands alone, unless the President was incapacitated.

              As Vice-President, Ken Doo was also President of the Senate. He didn’t do that much actual presiding since the Senate wanted to run itself, but did spend time at his post. Ken Doo also held the tie-breaking vote should a Senate vote end in a tie. This hadn’t happened during Janet’s term. But Ken also served as a sounding board and an important informal line of communication between the Senate and the President. While Ken was a member of the Executive Branch, he worked to be an honest broker between the Senate and the White House. While the President couldn’t, for all practical purposes, visit the Senate often, the Vice-President could be there any day the Senate was in session.

              The Vice-President would attend certain ceremonies and funerals on behalf of the President. In the same vein, the Vice-President could convey certain messages to certain people on behalf of the President, and carry messages back to the President.

              One thing Otis did not want Ken to do was serve as his hatchet man. In that respect, Otis did his own work. If someone had to go, Otis was the one to show them the gate.

              Vicki was busy determining what would go to the White House and what would stay home. She, Janet, and Hank Mims had some conversations on that subject. Otis wanted to take his clothes, some of his books, pictures of the family, and his guns. Vicki asked her husband why he wanted to take his guns, with the Secret Service all around. “Well, toots, if any Commies ever break in, I can help out.”

              Otis also bought himself and his wife .38 snub-nose pistols, and they spent some time at an indoor firing range in San Angelo. Should Vicki so desire, she could carry her pistol in her purse, and Otis could either wear his pistol or leave it in his Oval Office desk drawer. The .45 was going to be left in their bedroom at the White House, as was the AK-47. Believe it or not, many Presidents and Vice-Presidents had carried pistols. The Secret Service frowned on this but there was nothing they could do.

              Neither Otis nor Vicki had driven a car since the night of the selection. They were now driven everywhere they went. And once Otis’ term was over, they would have Secret Service protection for the following ten years or the rest of Otis’ life, whichever came first. This meant Secret Service agents would be driving them everywhere. But Otis and Vicki owned two cars, a 2010 Studebaker and a 2013 Packard. The Packard had only 15,000 miles on it, and the Studebaker 55,000 miles. The Needlemans didn’t drive that much, even before the selection.

              The Packard, as befitting a top-of-the-line luxury car, was in excellent condition. The Studebaker was in very good condition. Otis took care of the cars. But it was clear to Vicki and Otis that they wouldn’t need cars again for many years, and in a discussion with Agent Jeffries this was confirmed. So if the cars weren’t needed, why keep them? As long as Otis and Vicki owned the cars they’d have to pay for insurance, maintenance, gas and oil, and license fees.

              First, they considered giving the cars to their kids. Nick and Haruko already had cars of their own, were also driven by the Secret Service, and Nick didn’t want the Packard anyway. Max had his Jeep and was also driven by the Secret Service. Donna didn’t own a car, and was also driven around by the Secret Service.

              Otis asked Joe if he wanted the Packard. Joe liked the Packard but presently he, his wife and son were also being driven everywhere by the Secret Service, and would be for the next six years, so they were in much the same fix regarding cars.

              Otis and Vicki took a look at giving the cars to her brothers and sisters. But who should get them? Vicki’s sister Maricela’s Ford was on its’ last legs so they could give her the Studebaker. That left the Packard. Otis wanted to give the car to someone who would take good care of it. Irma and her husband drove their cars hard and Hector wasn’t the greatest on maintenance. But Charlie took good care of his vehicles, so Otis gave the Packard to Charlie, who promptly christened it “The Gringomobile”. “Only you, Charlie. Only you.” Otis, Vicki, Maricela, and Charlie went to the Division of Motor Vehicles in San Angelo and did the transfer paperwork, which cost $100 per vehicle, paid for by the recipients. Charlie and Maricela also immediately called their respective auto insurance companies to get the vehicles covered. Later Otis called USAA and had the cars taken off their policy.

              Christmas was coming. While a lot of the shopping was done on line, Vicki and Otis did some shopping downtown and at the Base Exchange. Otis got some small gifts for everyone on their Secret Service detail, too.
              Donna came up on the 17th and would be with Otis and Vicki until just after the Inauguration, when she would fly back to college. Donna was a sophomore. This coming summer she would participate in eight weeks of ROTC cadet field training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in San Antonio. Donna would become an Air Force second lieutenant upon graduation from the university. Donna helped her dad put up and decorate the Christmas tree.

              Nick and Haruko came up on the 23rd, and would stay until the 27th. Max came on Christmas Eve and would leave on the 26th. So in addition to the family members, there were also a number of Secret Service people at or around the Needleman house. The Secret Service agents were busy taking people around town. Otis also bought some small presents for the members of his children’s Secret Service details.

              Christmas day dawned with a very rare White Christmas. The San Angelo area had gotten an inch of snow overnight, which would melt quickly. Otis, Vicki and Donna went to church, and everyone else slept in. After church there was a gift exchange, and Otis gave Agent Jeffries all the Secret Service agents’ gifts. Janet and Hank Mims and Ken and Maureen Doo called to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Haruko’s family also called to wish the Needlemans a Merry Christmas.

              Otis had bought a large Cure81 ham for Christmas, and Nick got the ham going. This Christmas there would be a gathering at Charlie’s house. Otis and Vicki were responsible for providing the ham, rolls, sodas, beer, wine, and a couple of pies.

              Charlie Valenzuela’s house rocked with everyone in it. Then Nick and Haruko added to the excitement by telling everyone Otis and Vicki would become grandparents for the first time next summer. The cheering was so loud that one of the Secret Service agents looked through the window. The festivities went on into the evening, and then everyone helped tidy up Charlie’s house. Once again, Otis drew trash bag-lugging duty, escorted by a Secret Service agent.
              Next year Christmas would be at the White House.

              Over the next week, preparations to move continued. Things were usually slow the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and this was no different. Nick, Haruko and Max went back to their respective homes. Otis and Donna took down the tree, put the tree back in its’ box and put the box back in the garage, now mostly the Secret Service detail’s workspace.

              Otis and Vicki used to celebrate New Year’s Eve quietly at home, but this year they were invited to be guests of honor at the city of San Angelo’s New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Civic Center. The Needlemans accepted the offer. The Secret Service worked with the San Angelo police and the Tom Green County’s Sheriff’s Department regarding security. In the interests of protecting the incoming President and First Lady, no weapons were allowed to be carried into the Civic Center by anyone except Secret Service, law enforcement, or military personnel.

              At midnight, 2017 began with President-select Needleman kissing his First Lady in the San Angelo Civic Center, alongside many other San Angeloans celebrating with their friends, spouses or significant others.


              • Jim Smitty
                Jim Smitty commented
                Editing a comment
                Yeah I could see the secret service throwing a fucking fit if a president tried to carry a weapon.

              • Otis R. Needleman
                Otis R. Needleman commented
                Editing a comment
                Jim, Ronald Reagan carried a pistol. I used part of his reasoning - "I could help out." - in Otis' comment to his wife. And in this USA, it's legal to carry a weapon, open or concealed. The Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, is taken very seriously in this USA.

            • #11
              Otis heads to Washington, and has some very interesting discussions and trips over the course of a week.

              The new year of 2017 had started.

              On January 3rd Janet Mims gave Otis a heads-up that during the next week he’d be taking two all-day trips, most likely on Tuesday, the 10th, and Thursday, the 12th. She’d give him more on these trips when they met on the 9th.

              Otis had originally planned to fly up to Washington on a permanent basis on the 6th but changed his plans and was flying up on the 8th. Vicki was overseeing the move of the furniture and household goods and would fly up herself, with Donna, on the 16th.

              On January 8, Otis flew out of Mathis Field on a private jet in U.S. Government livery and landed at Andrews AFB. He got settled in at the visitors’ suite and called his wife, then ate dinner and watched football.

              It had started to snow during the evening, a heavy, wet snow. Around 9:00 Otis went up on one of the balconies, accompanied by a Secret Service agent, and just listened to the quiet. Like rain, falling snow soaks up a lot of noise. Otis was no fan of winter, but he liked this aspect of it, and the hard winters gave him a temporary break on pollen. After about fifteen minutes Otis went back inside the White House and took a walk around. Then it was back to the suite for the evening.

              Otis met with Janet and Ken Doo at 10:00 the next morning. Greetings were exchanged all around. Otis thanked Janet and Ken for all the help they’d provided while he and Vicki were back in San Angelo. They talked of a few things, and then Janet put her finger in front of her lips, asking for quiet. She pressed a button under the desk, then went outside the Oval Office and told Harriet Yu, the secretary, to hold all calls until further notice, and put a Secret Service agent outside the door to prevent anyone walking in.

              Janet then shut the door. “I’ve turned off the recording system. It’s voice-activated but I can turn it on and off from the desk. There are some things you have to know, and the only other people in this country who know them are Otha Whitton, Ken, me, and now you.”

              The President continued. “Everyone always wonders just what’s going on at Area 51, if there are any alien spaceships or dead aliens stored there. The short answer is yes. You and Ken are going there tomorrow to see everything, and I mean everything. You’ll leave early in the morning and get back late in the evening. Don’t tell Vicki where you are going, and Ken, nothing to Maureen. You two need to go now while you can do so quietly, especially Otis. We’ve been able to make use of a certain amount of their technology over the years, more and more as we learn. That’s very close-hold, but what I have to tell you now is extremely close hold – you, me, Ken, and Otha, as far as Americans go.”

              “Four years ago I was at a summit meeting in Geneva with the British Prime Minister, the Russian Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, and the Japanese Prime Minister. We try to meet at least once a year, somewhere. We were in executive session, no translators, no security, just the five of us.” Janet looked at Otis. “Before our eyes five figures materialized. Three looked much like humans, one was humanoid in appearance, and the last looked like a cross between a gorilla and an alligator.”

              “One of the figures began to speak, or rather speak to us telepathically. He said he was the leader of the planet Organia, and also of the Organian Union of Planets. The other human-looking figures introduced themselves as the leaders of the planets Neutronia and Algork. The humanoid one, who had blue skin, introduced himself as the leader of the planet Orcta. And the being who looked like the cross between a gorilla and an alligator introduced himself as the leader of the planet Gork.” Janet’s face was serious.

              “We just nodded and wondered what was going on. The Organian told us not to fear, that the visit was with good intentions on their part, prompted by their monitoring of our planet and our space activities. They told us there were close to a thousand star systems in their union, containing over a thousand planets with intelligent life. At least I thought about us learning more about their union, and the aliens all smiled. Apparently some of the other world leaders also had that thought.”

              “The aliens told us when we developed and used a practical interstellar drive, and if we didn’t blow ourselves up in a global nuclear war, Earth would be eligible for the Organian Union membership process. Developing that practical interstellar drive separates the adults from the children, as they put it.” The President paused again. “I was disappointed, and the aliens knew the rest of us were, too. They told us they’d been monitoring events on Earth for about the last thousand years, and in general liked what they saw, enough to come that day. The Organian told us they were watching over us, and that on two separate occasions the Organian Union had destroyed invasion fleets from the Talgakian League. The Neutronian pulled out something that looked like a flashlight and showed us projected pictures of two super-novae, or what we’ve always believed to be super-novae. The being from Gork said this was the total destruction of two Talgakian invasion fleets, one in our year 1632 and the other in our year 1928. The Gorker smiled and said, ‘In your slang, we have your back.’”

              “The man from Orcta also smiled and said, ‘We have a gift for your world. This is the chemical formula, manufacturing process, and administration instructions of a cure for all forms of what you call cancer. The chemicals are fairly common, and your medicine companies should be able to produce it with few problems, at least as far as we can tell. The formula is one that you would never expect to work, but processed according to instructions, works. This cure will work at any stage of cancer, but works only against cancer, so if the sick one has other problems those will need further treatment.’”

              The President’s face stayed serious. “The Orctan handed each of us a silvery envelope. I opened mine to see a formula, detailed processing instructions, and administration instructions, and I’ll show you this in a few minutes. The aliens wished us well and said we’d be hearing from them in the future. Then they disappeared, but those envelopes were still there.” Janet looked at Otis and Ken again. “The five of us just sat there and looked at each other, hardly daring to speak. Then someone reached for their glass of water and the spell was broken. The British Prime Minister said, ‘Well, what do we do? I’m in favor of getting the cure going but not sure I want to broadcast this.’ There was an agreement to keep the visit, especially the part about the Talgakians, to ourselves, our Vice-Presidents, and in the case of the British, Japanese, Russians, and Germans, to their respective sovereigns. Then we discussed getting this cure out there. We knew that there would be a lot of questions, especially in the USA and Britain, if we just gave this to the pharmaceutical companies. The Germans agreed to put out the cure as a product of German Empire science; their system can be pretty opaque sometimes. Gave us all room to maneuver. They would do a six-month test, and then if the cure worked, would release it to the world without cost ‘in the name of humanity’. And that’s what happened.”

              This cure had been in use in the USA for the last three years, and had worked against the cancer every time. The cure, which was inexpensive, was provided in pill, capsule, syrup, and injectable forms. Once administered, the patient fell into a deep sleep for 36-48 hours. When the patient woke up, he or she was always hungry and was then fed all they could eat. No side effects, no overdoses possible. If there were no other conditions, the patient rested for another day or so and then went home. Millions of lives were saved, worldwide, every year.

              “We also decided to push development of an interstellar drive. This we could do publicly, as an international project.” This project was centered at the Robinson Space Center in Houston, with resources and participation from all five nations. “Then we also decided to try and develop some space-based defenses against the Talgakians, but which could also be used against the South Chinese if need be. These are black programs, and you’ll have to certify to Congress that the money is needed. Program A is a directed-energy weapon. We can use it here against South Chinese missiles, should they get them. Program B is what we call ‘rods from God’, or kinetic energy penetrators. On Earth we could use them to blow the hell out of the South Chinese. We’d launch them from the Moon base against the Talgakians. Same with directed-energy weapons.”

              “Janet, how are these programs coming along?” Otis inquired. “Program A should reach initial operational capability in two years. Program B, probably in five. These are compartmented projects but the visit from the aliens stays with you and Ken, and with those prime ministers and sovereigns, and I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t have to. They don’t say anything about it, either, but everyone is contributing. We’re taking the lead on programs A and B but the others are participating and providing resources. We’ll test the directed-energy weapons against ICBMs on test launches. Russians will do the same with their ICBMs. Kills two birds with one stone. The British have offered a test range in the Australian Outback when the ‘rods from God’ are ready to test.”

              Janet then reached behind her and opened a safe. “Only Ken and I have the combination to this.” She pulled out a silvery, metallic envelope and handed it to Otis. The President-select looked at it and opened the envelope, which contained the chemical formula, manufacturing instructions, and administration instructions for the cancer cure. Otis perused it for a minute or two and handed the envelope back to Janet. Ken, and Otha before him, had already seen the envelope and its’ contents.

              Janet said, “So tomorrow it’s Area 51. Dress is casual, special security in effect there, just do as they say. Thursday you’ll be at National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) headquarters at Fort Meade all day, and you’ll get that itinerary Wednesday. It’ll be top-level but even with your background I think you’ll find it interesting. Any questions?”

              Otis replied, “Two. Have there been any further contacts from the aliens who visited?” Janet shook her head. “They haven’t contacted me. I think the others would say something if they’d been contacted, but nada so far.” “Okay, since you’ve apparently seen what’s at Area 51, could you tell if any of the aliens we have on ice, as it were, are from the races who visited?” “We have three on ice. My best guess, one is from Orcta, one from Gork, and one from one of the three other planets; they looked alike to me.” “Surely they must know we have them.” “Otis, I think they were deliberately sent here to kind of give us a technological jump-start.” Ken nodded his agreement. “Janet, I wouldn’t doubt it. I’d like to think we’ve made use of that jump-start and have built on it.” Janet smiled. “I’d agree with you. Anything else?” Otis and Ken shook their heads. “Okay, Otis, let me show you the switch for the recording system as I turn it back on.”

              Janet turned the recording system back on and let Mrs.Yu and the agent standing outside the door know operations were back at normal.

              The next morning, while it was still dark a private jet in Air Force markings winged its’ way across the country, to land in darkness at Area 51. The plane went to a darkened hangar and parked. The hangar lit up and the passengers, President-select Needleman and Vice-President Doo, disembarked, to be met by Major General Ed Benjamin, base commander and some of his staff. General Benjamin took the visitors to the conference room and gave them a briefing about first, “regular” US projects, such as hypersonic planes, and then the “special” projects, such as anything having to do with the alien spacecraft and the aliens.

              Most of the morning was spent looking at and going over the “regular” projects, which were rather interesting. Then after lunch in a private dining room, Ken and Otis were shown the alien spacecraft, the alien corpses, and told about the “special” projects. The alien spacecraft had crashed within a few years of each other, starting in1947. They were sent here because the good guys won the Great War, Otis thought.

              The plane departed a darkened hangar at 5:30 p.m., Pacific Time, and landed in Washington around 1:30 a.m. on the 11th. Otis returned to the White House around 2:30 and got to sleep around 3:30. He was going to meet with Janet and Ken at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. Otis got up, called his wife, and went swimming in the White House pool. After getting cleaned up and eating lunch, Otis met with the President and Vice-President. Janet Mims asked how the visit went, and Otis and Ken nodded. “It was a very interesting trip. Will I need to certify money for Area 51 operations?” “No, the Air Force covers it under special projects, but you’re already catching on.” Janet chuckled.

              A Packard limousine took Otis to NISA headquarters at Fort Meade the next morning. He was met by General Steven N. Schuldt, U.S. Army, the Director, Mr. Bill Hunsicker, the Deputy Director, and some of their staff. A representative from the Secretary of Defense’s office was also present. Otis first got the no-holds-barred, no-shit, top-level briefing regarding the agency, its’ missions, and its’ activities. While Otis, as a career signals intelligence officer, had done NISA-type work his entire Air Force career, to see the big picture was amazing. While he was at it, Otis complimented the NISA leadership on the timeliness and quality of the intelligence contained in the President’s morning intelligence briefings.

              The President-select then toured various work centers, and got to see some very interesting things. He was also introduced to the British, German, Japanese, and Russian liaisons to NISA. While each of these countries worked with NISA, only the US and Russia had a “special relationship”. There were about fifty Okhrana members working at Fort Meade, and a few more with certain field units, on any given day, and about as many NISA personnel working at Okhrana headquarters and Okhrana field units of a day. The number of personnel from Britain, Germany, and Japan was rather smaller, and their respective US contingents smaller.

              Lunch was with the Director and Deputy Director in their private dining room. The three men talked about a number of things, first intelligence operations against South China and their various sponsored insurgencies in South Asia and Africa, then support to Operational Plan 3080, which was the Allied response to a South Chinese attack against North China. Then the discussion turned to resources. NISA had received $25 billion in the fiscal year 2017 budget directly, and a further couple of billion in the value of work done by military field units that answered to their services but also to NISA. While General Schuldt and Mr. Hunsicker told the President funding was adequate for now, they pointed out the need over the next few years to replace and upgrade certain facilities, equipment, and systems, here and overseas. Otis asked if the first increment of the money was being planned and programmed for in their upcoming FY 2018 budget submission, and General Schuldt replied that it was. The President-select said, “Good, but let’s not buy Packards when Dodges will do.” He made a mental note to get with the Secretary of Defense on this in about a month.

              The afternoon was devoted to more briefings and tours. Otis resolved to visit some field units and facilities when he was traveling, if at all possible. The visit ended with a last discussion in the Director’s office, then the President-select departed, heading back to the White House.
              Last edited by Otis R. Needleman; 08-01-2016, 05:06 AM.


              • #12
                It's a busy week leading up to the inauguration.

                Preparations for President-select Otis R. Needleman’s inauguration were in full swing.

                On Monday, January 16, Otis was asked how he wanted the Oval Office decorated. Each President is allowed to decorate their office as they please, within certain guidelines, and they are provided books of colors, carpet styles, certain equipment, and furnishings to choose from. The Presidential desk stayed the same, though. Janet Mims had her office carpet in beige with the Presidential seal, with matching curtains. She had a couple of couches, some end tables, a couple of coffee tables, and about a half-dozen chairs, as well, in addition to the desk, chair, credenza, bookshelves, and safe, plus the computer station.

                Otis picked what he called “Air Force blue” with the Presidential seal, matching curtains, and got different couches, tables, and chairs, plus a different chair for his desk. Otis also got a small stereo so he could listen to music in the office – the Washington area had some good jazz stations, Otis’ favorite music. Otis also got a compact refrigerator to put behind his desk, to be stocked with soda and bottled water, should he want either or wish to offer some to a visitor. He kept the same credenza, bookshelves, and safe, but the safe’s combination would be changed when he came into office. Everything selected was available through government supply channels, so no special expenditure was needed.

                Otis met four of the leading Senators for lunch. There would be new Senators coming in. A third of the Senate was selected every two years, and a third of the House selected every year. Otis and the Senators enjoyed lunch and discussed various things.

                The incoming President was going to address a joint session of Congress the week after his inauguration, but there were two things he wanted to let the Senate know from the beginning. First, it was a team effort. Otis was looking forward to working with the Senate so all could serve the nation best. Second, the fewer laws and the less government, the better. Otis impressed upon the Senators that there was no need to justify their existence by passing laws that were not absolutely necessary. “Before passing a law and sending it to me for signature, give it this test. First, what would this law do that existing legislation doesn’t do? Second, would YOU want to obey such a law? Third, if this legislation requires spending money, would you spend your own money on it? If you aren’t happy with the answers, you may want to reconsider the law.”

                The meeting ended very amicably, with all concerned looking forward to working together.

                Late that afternoon Otis’ wife Vicki and daughter Donna flew in from San Angelo. Otis went to meet them at Andrews AFB. It was the first time Donna had ever ridden in a limousine. She would be leaving Monday, back to Texas for school. Speaking of family members, Vicki’s brother Charlie and sister Irma and their families, and Otis’ brother Joe and his family, plus Max, Nick, and Haruko would be flying in for the inauguration. The Secret Service was handling all travel arrangements, and the family would be seated together, next to Otis and Vicki. In this USA, while a Presidential inauguration is a major event, it isn’t as frenzied as it is in our USA. This Washington isn’t mobbed with celebrities, tycoons, and the like. Presidents aren’t considered rock stars, but rather public servants and the nation’s leaders. They aren’t running for anything, so Presidents and Vice-Presidents don’t generally play to the media.

                Tuesday morning Otis started sitting in on the daily Cabinet meeting. He said little, preferring to watch and take notes. Otis was considering having Cabinet meetings twice a week for a longer period instead of daily for a shorter period. He was going to see what Ken Doo thought, first.

                At lunch Otis met with the Speaker of the House and half a dozen of the leading House members, and gave them the same charge he gave the Senators regarding new legislation. The less, the better, and the less money to go out, the better. This USA has a balanced-budget amendment, with limited exceptions made for national emergencies and wartime. The absence of any major wars for the last seventy years, the absence of a separate Medicare system, plus a much more limited welfare system, has saved a huge amount of money. Keeping the national defense strong isn’t cheap, but fighting wars is far more expensive, in many ways. This USA’s national debt is $450 billion, and declining. Otis told the Representatives he would have no compunction about spending whatever was needed if things got nasty in China or there was a major natural disaster, and asked their support. The House members agreed, and Otis also pledged to keep them in the loop as much as possible.

                Vicki was busy herself. She met with a decorator regarding the furniture, carpeting, drapes, etc., for the family quarters. Like Otis, Vicki and Donna made selections from various books, where such things were available through the government supply system. Vicki also had a list of what was on the way from San Angelo, which was largely clothes, books, family pictures, stuff from Donna’s room and some of her kitchen items.

                Hank Mims chuckled as Vicki, Donna, and the decorators went through the family quarters, remembering his and Janet doing the same six years ago. Hank was overseeing the packing and shipping of the Mims’ household goods back to Alabama, where both he and Janet couldn’t wait to retire to. Janet said to Hank that morning, “Honey, I’m looking forward to a week with a whole bunch of nothing scheduled on it!” “Same here, sweetie. The golf course and fishing holes are already calling me.”

                Vicki also had to arrange for the decoration of what would again be the First Lady’s office, and made her choices of carpet, draperies, furniture, etc. She also met with the secretary and a couple of the staff. There would be time for more interaction after the inauguration. Otis also didn’t want his wife to get too busy too soon.

                Wednesday was more of the same. However, Otis asked the Secretary of Defense, Mr. William J. Blackman, to meet with him privately after the Cabinet meeting. Otis introduced his daughter to the Secretary and told Mr. Blackman about Donna’s upcoming field training in the summer. He told the Secretary Donna was to be treated exactly like any other ROTC cadet, no better and no worse. When Donna screwed up, she was to be corrected. If she did well, Donna was to be commended, just like any other cadet, but favoritism was not to happen. “I’m saying all this in front of Donna so she knows I haven’t made any special arrangements. She’s a cadet like any other, and she’ll be a lieutenant like any other.” Mr. Blackman readily agreed and thanked the President-select for being up front about everything and not allowing any special treatment, either way.

                Otis and Vicki also went down to the White House kitchen, where Otis first thanked the chef for the great food. He and Vicki sat down with the chef and discussed the things they liked and didn’t like to eat, to cut down waste. For example, Otis didn’t eat peppers, hot or sweet, of any kind. When eating lunch in private, he usually liked hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, or fish sandwiches for lunch. The incoming President’s favorite desserts were cherry pie, cheesecake, ice cream, and Black Forest cake. Otis also went around the kitchen and met everyone working there, from the sous chef to the dishwashers, and told them how much he appreciated their work.

                Then the couple met with the housekeeping staff, expressed their thanks for everything so far, and met all the staff possible. Otis asked the head of the Housekeeping department to take him and the new First Lady to the White House laundry, where they again met everyone and thanked them for their work. Otis especially thanked the valets, who ensured his shoes were shined and suits cleaned and pressed. While Otis was back in San Angelo, he had purchased three more suits, bringing his total to seven, plus white dress shirts and a tuxedo, and he expected to buy more clothes later, in Washington.

                They impressed upon everyone that their work was vital to the White House mission. Because Otis didn’t need to deal with the things they so ably handled, the incoming President would have more time available to meet the nation’s needs, and the same with the new First Lady.

                Wednesday afternoon the family members flew in, as well as some of the Mims family members seeing Janet off, as it were. That evening Janet, Otis, and their combined family members had an informal dinner at the White House. Janet and Hank welcomed everyone, Otis and Vicki thanked Janet and Hank, and gave them some gifts from San Angelo, and then a lot of stories were shared. The Mims family members helped greatly by giving Otis and Vicki’s family members many tips as to what it was like being relatives of the President, as well as useful information about the White House and Washington.

                Nick and Haruko Needleman picked up a great deal from Wesley and Priscilla Mims, whose two children had been born during Janet’s term as President, about what they had gone through and what White House life was like for babies, toddlers, and small children.

                Thursday morning was Janet’s last Cabinet meeting. There would be no meeting Friday due to the inauguration, just an intelligence briefing for both Janet and Otis. The next Cabinet meeting would be Monday. As per custom, each Cabinet member gave President Mims an envelope with their signed, undated letter of resignation. Otis would decide later which resignations, if any, to accept.

                Most of the rest of Thursday for Janet and Hank was spent on farewells. She and Hank were flying out of Washington aboard Air Force One right after the inauguration, which Otis very graciously offered as transport home for the President Emeritus to be.

                Otis and Vicki were busy themselves, saying hello and getting things started. One important stop was the White House personnel office, since as of noon Friday both Otis and Vicki were on the payroll. Paydays were the first and fifteenth of the month, like all Federal paydays.

                Vice-President Ken Doo was minding the store today. He, Maureen, Janet and Hank Mims would be getting together at the Vice-President’s house for a quiet farewell dinner that evening.

                Otis and Vicki’s family members were looking around the White House, as well, getting to see the place in a very different way from the standard tour.

                That evening, the extended Needleman family had dinner at a nice restaurant in Washington, in a private dining room. Otis, Vicki and Donna would next see everyone else at Otis’ inauguration, in less than twenty-four hours.


                • #13
                  Otis I been thinking about this more to the point the military of this US. It just doesn't make since for the US to have a 60 division army, 600 ship navy, 15 divisions of Marines, and an Air Force of million people plus. Even in some of my biggest American wanks(Which are far bigger than this one) the US military is never that big in peacetime with early 21st century tech, save for one. And even there, they have a damn good reason for maintaining a military that large and its worse than this South China threat which you have touched on, far worse and they have been through hell. You have added all of Canada (I'm assuming Newfoundland as well), Cuba, and Pureto Rico and the US has a special replationship with the Russian Empire. I doubt the US could maintain such a large force even with it being 380 million population or there abouts.

                  Even with a draft I believe that the US and Russia who I'm assuming had escaped the hells of a Nazi invasion and Stalin's pruges had come to an agreement. Russia would be the land power with the US being the naval power in this relationship and both of them would maintain very largest air forces. The US Army would be a mix of Armored, Air Cav, and Mech Divisions with supporting brigades with a round about size of 20 to 24 divisions with a large national guard to draw from. Say a two divisions from large states such as California, Florida or other size states. Mid size states would have a division with the small ones being brigade combat teams. The USMC would be more likely to be 6 to 8 divisions. The navy could very well be 600 ships plus as that would give control of the waves to the US. The Russians would maintain an Army of 120 divisons plus with a small navy. Most likely and aircraft carrier or two as a matter of national pride with supporting ships, most likely under 150 ships total. Plus their port positions doesn't give easy support to a large blue water fleet. That's assuming that somehow they came to control Manchuria in the back story with the all important port at Port Arthur. '

                  Just food for thought.


                  • Otis R. Needleman
                    Otis R. Needleman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Big JIm, in this world after the end of the Russian Civil War reforms were indeed instituted. In OTL the Tsar was moving toward instituting a number of Count Witte's proposed reforms but WWI intervened.

                    This Russia has gone from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. You have the Tsar who reigns, but doesn't rule, with the Prime Minister who is head of government. As President who is head of state and of government, Otis deals primarily with the Prime Minister, but also will have a certain amount of interaction with the Tsar. Same with Britain, Germany, and Japan. These three countries have Prime Ministers, or a Chancellor, in Germany's case, and a King in Britain, a Kaiser in Germany, and an Emperor in Japan.

                    I see the Russian Empire in this timeline to be much the size of the pre-WWI Russian Empire, less Finland and Poland. Population-wise, a good 300 million or so. Economy second largest in this world.

                    I see South China as a combination of the USSR and Red China. This China has designs on North China, which is rather smaller. These Chinese believe in spreading Communism to neighboring countries, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea, Laos, and Cambodia, not to mention supporting movements in Africa. The Allies practice a containment strategy, while supporting Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea, Laos, Cambodia in Asia and Rhodesia and Angola in Africa in their battles against Communist insurgencies. The Allies are trying hard to keep from committing regular units to fight these insurgencies, instead providing weapons, training, material support, and as appropriate, special operations forces.

                    South China comprises most of China. North China is a fairly large rump state. I can't draw a map for shit, but here's a map of China.


                    Imagine a line drawn southeast from Baotou, through Shijiazhuang and Jinan, to the Yellow Sea. Everything northeast of that is North China, plus Taiwan. The rest is South China. Populations - North China about 120 million, South China about 400 million. North China got Manchuria, with the industry. South China got most of the agricultural land during their war. Capitals - Beijing for North China, Shanghai for South China.

                    Remember, this world isn't quite the same as ours. Certain things are different.

                    The story is more about what Otis does, how he does it, and why he does it. But this info is important to setting the stage, seeing the world Otis lives in and how he sees it.

                  • Jim Smitty
                    Jim Smitty commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Otis this was me thinking out loud and trying to put the history of this world together from the limited information we have at the moment. It was just my two cents on this fun story you have spun.

                  • Otis R. Needleman
                    Otis R. Needleman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    No sweat, Big Jim. Adjusting the military numbers was no problem, probably more realistic now. This gave me a chance to tell a little more about the China situation and some history.

                    Presently working on Otis' inauguration day. Was doing some research, and didn't realize in our TL that there are Inaugural-related events for a whole week. It's different in Otis' TL, maybe better. Office-holders aren't seen as rock stars or celebrities. They are seen as public servants, and doing a job that anyone can be picked to do. Don't have to be rich, don't have to campaign or kiss anyone's ass for a vote. If you meet the qualifications, you're in the pool for selection. If you are picked, you show up and hopefully give it your best. And this America's had a pretty good track record, overall. People have tended to take the job seriously and rise to the challenge. There have been a few who tried their best and realized they were in way over their head. Instead of hurting the country, they resigned. But at least they tried.

                    And staggering the President and VP lets these people help each other. Ken Doo has helped Otis and Otis considers Ken an integral part of the team. When Ken leaves in four years Otis will help the new VP get up to speed, and so on, and so forth.

                • #14
                  Otis is inaugurated. In contrast to the week's worth of Inaugural activities in our USA, everything happens in just one day here. But a good time is had by all.

                  January 20, 2017, 7:00 a.m.
                  The White House
                  President-select and Mrs. Needleman’s guest suite

                  Otis got up, grabbed the paper, and scanned it while preparing for the morning walk. Today was the inauguration. In our USA Inauguration Day events are spread over a week. In this USA things happen in just one day.

                  Stepping outside, Otis noticed the sun coming up. Should be a nice day, may hit 50 around noon. Due to the preparations for the inauguration, Otis and Agent Grechniw just walked around the White House grounds. If Otis were to look in the Oval Office, he’d see workers busily redecorating the Oval Office. The work would be done by 4:00 p.m., after the Inauguration and the Inaugural Luncheon.

                  Once again, Ken Doo was minding the store today. For security reasons, the Vice-President didn’t attend Presidential inaugurals. Vice-Presidents were inaugurated inside the Capitol in front of a joint session of Congress, which made it easier to secure and possible for the President to attend.

                  Back from the walk, Otis called to the kitchen for breakfast, which came a few minutes later. He ate breakfast and read the paper. Donna had gotten up and she called down to the kitchen for breakfast and a pot of coffee. “When did you start drinking coffee?” “Oh, Dad! Gotta have it to get going in the morning!” “Oh, Donna!” Otis laughed. “Make sure you’re bundled up today, honey. We’re going to be outside for a while.”

                  After breakfast, Otis got cleaned up and dressed, except for his suit jacket. He’d put the suit jacket and topcoat on before leaving. Vicki got up and had some coffee while awaiting breakfast. He called around to the various family members at their hotel to see how they were doing. Everyone was doing fine. The Secret Service would take all the family members to the ceremony, where they had reserved seats.

                  Donna finished breakfast, got cleaned up, made up, and dressed. In her turn, Vicki got cleaned up, made up, and dressed. The family watched TV and looked at the coverage of the Inauguration. “It’s a big day, so let’s enjoy it. The work starts Monday morning.” Otis said.

                  Just before it was time to go the inauguration, Otis put his arms around his wife. “This is your day, too, toots. Wherever I’ve gone, so have you. Your love and support made my Air Force career possible. Your support made for a good term in the House. I was enjoying just being retired with you, but now we’re on this adventure. I just wanted you to know just how much I loved you.” Then he kissed his Vicki.

                  At 11:30, Otis and Vicki met Janet and Hank Mims at the front door of the White House. Donna had gone separately, to join the rest of the family at the site of the inauguration. Otis and Vicki gave Janet and Hank gifts in appreciation for all their help since the selection. President and Mr. Mims got some Concho Pearl jewelry. Janet got a nice Concho Pearl and gold brooch and Hank received a Concho Pearl men’s ring.

                  The drive to the inauguration site was very short, just a few minutes at most. Since the day was very nice, just over fifty degrees, the two couples rode in a limousine with the top down, smiling and waving at the cheering crowds lining the streets. Janet Mims chuckled to Hank, “This time tomorrow we’ll be home, honey!” Hank nodded and grinned. “We’re going to be home tonight!”

                  The inauguration was held on the West Portico of the Capitol Building. After the inauguration was over, the Mims would depart for Alabama and the new President and his wife would watch the inauguration parade from a viewing stand in front of the White House. Vice-President Ken Doo and his family would be watching the ceremony and parade on TV from his office.

                  At noon, President-select Otis R. Needleman faced Supreme Court Chief Justice Rakesh Patel, raised his right hand, and placed his left hand on Vicki’s Bible. Chief Justice Patel raised his right hand and went through the oath with Otis. “I, Otis Richard Needleman, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.” With that, both men put their hands down, shook hands, and then the 37th President of the United States kissed his wife. All in attendance cheered.

                  Once again, the leadership of the most powerful country on Earth had been peacefully transferred from one President to another.

                  The new President then went to the podium to give his inauguration speech.

                  “Let me start by thanking each and every one of you for being here today. Vicki and I also want to thank President-emeritus and Mr. Mims for all their help and support during the transition, as well as Vice-President and Mrs. Doo. We are most grateful for their help, as well as the help of everyone else during this busy and exciting time.

                  It was a surprise and an honor to be selected as President. I never expected it. But I am very proud to accept the responsibility of leading our country. President-emeritus Mims has done a fine job during her term. Our country is at peace. The economy is working well. We have good and strong allies. Let us all work together and build on that foundation for even greater days for America.

                  And as we go onward and upward, let us never forget the responsibility we share of standing against those who would imperil peace and freedom. Our troops help stand guard in North China against aggression from the Communists. We and our allies support governments battling Communist-backed insurgencies in a number of places. Let us always stand together against Communism.

                  America is a great country, not because of its’ geography, but because of its’ people. While in the military, my family and I were privileged to live in a number of places and see our wonderful country. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic to the Caribbean, America is one of a kind.

                  I have a special message for our young people. You are America’s future. Study hard in school. Get all the education you can. Ask questions. Push the boundaries. Lay the foundations for good, productive lives. When things get tough, never give up. Keep working. Keep trying. And never take the easier wrong path instead of the tougher right path. Your success is America’s success.

                  Like many of you, I believe that government governs best that governs least. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. My predecessor did a fine job at keeping government’s growth under control, and I plan to do the same thing. I never forget that every dollar used to fund the United States Government comes from the pockets and purses of the American people. I aim to be the best steward possible of what you entrust to the Government. We’ll look for ways to use those dollars better. We’ll work to pass only those laws that we absolutely must have. We’ll look to see where we can do away with unneeded expenses. However, I assure you that our national defense and the lives of our men and women in uniform will never take second place to money. We shall not treat our dollars dearer than the lives and well-being of our sons and daughters. And never forget that preparedness is always less expensive than subjugation.

                  Now, let us go forward from this day, together, and build for even better days.

                  Thank you. May God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

                  After the inauguration, Otis and Vicki wished Janet and Hank farewell. Janet gave Otis a card with her email address and phone number if he needed to get hold of her; Otis gratefully accepted. Janet and Hank Mims then departed, heading home, a job well done for the nation.

                  Otis and Vicki walked from the Capitol Building to the reviewing stand in front of the White House, waving and smiling at the cheering crowds. Shortly after they reached the reviewing stand, the rest of the family showed up, Needlemans, Valenzuelas, and the Wakayamas, Haruko’s family. Vicki went to check on Haruko; she knew what it was like to be pregnant and have to attend ceremonies. Haruko was doing fine. Charlie said, “Now it’s PRESIDENT Gringo!” Otis laughed, as did all the rest of the family. Joe went up to his oldest brother and quietly said, “I’m proud of you, brother.” Those words filled Otis’ heart beyond measure.

                  Otis had gained a companion, in addition to the Secret Service detail. Now, wherever the President went, he would be accompanied by a military officer from one of the five services, carrying the nuclear “football”, with go-codes should Otis need to order a nuclear attack. The “football” went to Otis as soon as he was sworn in. That’s one thing I was mighty glad to get rid of, thought Janet Mims on the way home.

                  The inaugural parade started, with a joint service color guard. Everyone stood and saluted the Stars and Stripes, with the field of 64 stars. Following a company of fourteen US Army M-6 tanks, the military units – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, marched in their formations, followed by a company of fourteen Marine armored personnel carriers. Above, USAF F-25 fighters, US Navy F-23 fighters, USMC F-23 fighters, two Coast Guard transport planes, and a company of US Army Bald Eagle attack helicopters flew.

                  Next were bands and floats from every state in the Union. The parade took two hours, but was exciting to see, since this happened only every six years.

                  After the parade, the new President and First Lady, accompanied by their families, were guests of honor at the traditional luncheon put on by the Congressional leadership. Otis made a brief speech thanking the hosts and hostesses, and looking forward to working with them over the next six years.

                  The families returned to the White House after the luncheon. Before showing the family his Oval Office, Otis introduced them to Vice-President Ken Doo and his family. The Doos were very happy to meet all the out-of-town guests, remembering Ken’s own inauguration two years ago. Cell phones and cameras were taking pictures like crazy.

                  Then the family went to the Oval Office, after meeting Mrs. Harriet Yu, the secretary and so much else. Otis was impressed to see the transformation that had occurred so quickly. The office looked exactly as he had specified, down to the small refrigerator behind his desk and the small stereo on the credenza. A brand-new top-of-the-line Apple computer, with printer, mouse, speakers, etc was on the computer table. The new President sat down at what was now his desk for the first time, and everyone took a picture. Then everyone else took a turn sitting at the desk. Tomorrow the family would come by and get a tour of the White House before leaving Sunday. They were also going to help Otis and Vicki move into the family quarters. While the movers would bring the boxes and furniture into the family quarters, Vicki wanted to unpack herself, and she would have plenty of help. The shipment wasn’t that large since so much of the furniture was already there from the previous occupants.

                  The family then enjoyed a small, informal dinner, served buffet-style. After dinner, Otis and Vicki excused themselves to prepare for the Inaugural Ball. In contrast to as many as five Inaugural Balls in our USA, there was just one here, and this ball marked the end of the Inaugural festivities. The weekend would be settling-in time for the new President and First Lady, with work starting first thing Monday morning. Otis had a full schedule and Vicki had a couple of things.

                  Otis and Vicki enjoyed the Inaugural Ball. As per tradition, they danced the first dance, to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”, which was what Nick and Haruko danced to as their first dance as husband and wife. At Otis’ request, Van Morrison’s “Moondance” was played, because whenever he heard that, he always thought of Vicki. Otis danced a couple of more dances with his wife, and danced with the wives of some of the Congressional leaders and the wives of Russian and British Ambassadors. Vicki danced with some of the Congressional leaders and the Russian and British Ambassadors. A good time was had by all. Donna went out with some family members and came home late that evening.

                  The next morning Otis and Vicki slept in. After breakfast, the rest of the family came by and everyone helped move into the new family residence. Many hands made for light and quick work. After Otis put some of his things away, he took Nick down to the White House kitchen for a tour. He figured Nick, as a chef, would enjoy a tour and meeting the chef and staff.

                  As an aside, Otis told Bob and Leslie Wakayama, Haruko’s parents, that whenever he and Vicki were at the Santa Barbara White House they had a standing invitation to visit and spend time. The two sets of in-laws also discussed the upcoming birth of Nick and Haruko’s baby in the early summer. Otis and Vicki planned to come down after the baby was born. Right now Otis was going to stay a couple of days, Vicki rather longer.

                  After the White House kitchen tour and an informal lunch, everyone met up for a tour of the White House. Those who wanted to went swimming in the pool. Others used the gym, and still others walked outside on the White House grounds. The Secret Service found the collective Needleman family very easy and pleasant to deal with. They didn’t act like they owned the place and were nice to everyone. After an informal dinner, the family gathered in the theater for a first-run movie, sent digitally directly from the studio.

                  Then the family went back to their hotel. Donna also went for a while. Otis and Vicki relaxed at home. Donna came back later in the evening.

                  Sunday Otis and Vicki attended church, and then later in the day saw everyone off from Andrews AFB. One plane took Donna to Austin, then Nick and Haruko to San Antonio. Another plane dropped off Joe’s family in Illinois, the Valenzuelas in San Angelo, and then the Wakayamas in Los Angeles.

                  That evening, Otis went to the Oval Office and just sat there. He noticed the refrigerator was filled with the sodas he liked and waters. Otis tuned the stereo to his favorite jazz station. He opened the main desk drawer to find an envelope, with the traditional note from the outgoing President to the incoming President.

                  Otis opened the envelope and unfolded the note. “Knock ‘em dead, Otis! You’ll do a fine job. Hank and I will keep you and Vicki in our prayers. Janet”

                  President Otis Needleman smiled, looking forward to getting to work Monday morning.

                  And above, the God he worshiped, prayed to and trusted smiled down on him. “He will do well for his country and for the world.”
                  Last edited by Otis R. Needleman; 08-05-2016, 04:56 AM.


                  • Jim Smitty
                    Jim Smitty commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Otis for some reason I have this picture in my head of you wearing a fedora when you are sworn into office. I don't know why, but keep up the good work.

                  • Otis R. Needleman
                    Otis R. Needleman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks, Big Jim! In reality, I never wear a hat. If it had been cold enough, I could see a stocking cap. But this Inauguration Day is pretty mild.

                  • La Rouge Beret
                    La Rouge Beret commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You know Jim I also imagined Otis wearing a Fedora matched with a thick overcoat at the inauguration, personally if the situation warranted it I would wear a Bowler hat!

                • #15
                  Otis I honestly prefer this system of government to the one that exists in the OTL, as it drafts the unwilling for political service. Which to my mind would go someway to redressing the populist undertone that has crept into politics in recent decades, government acting on behalf of the long term goals of the people - who would have thought it?

                  Since, I am an avowed Russophile are you able to give us any more tidbits about the extent of the Russian Empire ITTL?


                  • Otis R. Needleman
                    Otis R. Needleman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Gotta admit I like a system that takes the political parties and partisan politics right out of it. When you have no worries about having to be re-elected you are free to do what you believe is right for the people you serve. Now, having said that, not everyone will have the same level of motivation to do the job. Some come in unwillingly and do little, especially as legislators. But most of those selected as Governors and Presidents tend to take the job seriously, because if they screw it up enough and don't resign they can be impeached and go to jail. The checks and balances in the system help, too. But there are other issues, as well, which Vicki and Otis discuss at the end of the next story.

                    Well, would restate that the Russian Empire of January 2017 is about the same size as the Russian Empire of our time in 1914, less Poland and Finland. It's the largest country in the world. After the defeat of the Reds in the 1919-1921 Civil War, featuring American and Russian forces running the Bolsheviks' Central Committee to ground and killing them all in a firefight, the Tsar embarked on a series of reforms, culminating in a transformation from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Russia blossomed. If the USA is 100, the Russian Empire is 80. Pretty darned good.

                    I also think highly of Russia. It is a great country with a great people who as a nation have endured things the USA should be very glad never to have had to go through. Studied a lot of Russian history in my first master's degree program, and in my last military assignment was associate dean of a Russian and Persian-Farsi training school.