Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Caucus Race: Mitch Mouse and Alice in Election Year

The Caucus Race in Election Year 
Rules of the Caucus-race, MitchMouse, The Thimble Prize, and the Confits.
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Offered here is a further installment of a modified Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,  in modern election-year view, from the framework (original) at http://www.authorama.com/alice-in-wonderland-3.html.  For background, see Mitch Mouse and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
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Kind of open quote here, but not all a quote:
OPEN KIND OF QUOTE
Quotish --  The Caucus-Race

" (This one set of quotes shall serve on and off for the whole, as it may apply.  Paragraphing is creative.)
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They were, indeed, a queer-looking party that assembled on the midwestern Ioway bank at that early stage — the Candidate Birds with draggled feathers, the caucus-voting animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.  They needed to dry out.  They had all fallen into a pool of Alice's Tears, the dear girl -- also the only Democrat present.
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Alice, as was her wont, had reacted with feeling to the sad future of her fine country if all sharing and giving officially stopped, now that Some had got to the Top; as was proposed by the Candidates and the Me-Me-Me meme enticing many voters, judging by polls. And those who were not yet Rich aspired to be, and so they approved and were in the entourage of these particular Rich Candidates. Such a collection! See http://www.shmoop.com/alice-in-wonderland-looking-glass/dodo-duck-lory.html.  See an overview of characters, The Lory is also there, so peek first if you must, and then continue here.
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The first question of course was, how to get dry again: they had been quite inundated with media and their own verbosities for a very long time. They had a consultation about this, and after a few minutes it seemed quite natural to Alice, whose emotionalism about firming ladders for people, apparently caused the inconvenient flooding.  What need for rungs?  Complained the Candidates.  Education? Structures? Jobs? Health?  We got ours. Don't look to us to fix it for the next in line! And so it went.
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Nonetheless, to better understand them, Alice found herself talking familiarly with them, as if she had known them all her life. Indeed, their prior incarnations she had indeed known, and even respected.  It was these Tea-addled ones she sought to observe closely now. She had quite a long argument with the Lory, one of their number, who at last turned sulky, and would only say, “I’m older than you, and must know better.” 
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And this Alice would not allow, without knowing how old it was, and, as the Lory positively refused to tell its age, there was no more to be said.
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At last the Mouse, the same MitchMouse from the Abominable Tea Party, see http://sassafrasthicket.blogspot.com/2011/07/hebdomadal-vol-1-4-mad-hatters-tea.html#!/2011/07/hebdomadal-vol-1-4-mad-hatters-tea.html, who seemed to be a person of some authority among them, called out, “Sit down, all of you, and listen to me! I’ll soon make you dry enough! As a matter of fact, I'll see that everyone is wrung quite dry!”

They all sat down at once, in a large ring, with the Mitch Mouse in the middle. Alice kept her eyes anxiously fixed on it, for she felt sure she would catch a bad cold if she did not get dry very soon.  And yet, she felt discomfited by the idea of being wrung out to dry.  Hung out to dry?  Was that better? 
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“Ahem!” said MitchMouse with an important air. “Are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know. Silence all round, if you please!  And he proceeded with this very dry narrative:  ’William the Conqueror, whose cause was favored by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria—’”  He left out that William did not ever speak English and was illiterate, but then again, anything can be twisted.
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Of course, Alice also knew the real story of William the Conqueror to be quite interesting,  see http://franceroadways.blogspot.com/view/sidebar#!/2006/08/caen-bayeux-tapestry-and-william.html; but everything from the narrowness of MitchMouse somehow became fact-free floating exclusions and conclusions regardless.
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“Ugh!” said the Lory, with a shiver (remember to look back at the Schmoop site, above, if you have forgotten already who the Lory is).
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“I beg your pardon!” said Mitch Mouse, frowning, but very politely. “Did you speak?”
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“Not I!” said the Lory, hastily.
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“I thought you did,” said MitchMouse. “I proceed. ’Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him; and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable—’”
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“Found what!” said the Duck.
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“Found it,” MitchMouse replied, rather crossly: “of course you know what ’it’ means.”
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“I know what ’it’ means well enough, when I find a thing,” said the Duck; “it’s generally a frog, or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?”
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The Mouse did not notice this question, but hurriedly went on,“’—found it advisable to go with Edgar Atheling to meet William and offer him the crown. William’s conduct at first was moderate. But the insolence of his Normans—’ How are you getting on now, my dear?” it continued, turning to Alice as it spoke.
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“As wet as ever,” said Alice, in a melancholy tone: “it doesn’t seem to dry me at all.”
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“In that case,” said the Dodo, solemnly, rising to its feet, “I move that the meeting adjourn, for the immediate adoption of more energetic remedies—”
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“Speak English!” said Eaglet. “I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” And the Eaglet bent down its head to hide a smile: some of the other birds tittered audibly.  They also knew that William, bless his heart, also spoke no English.
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“What I was going to say,” said the Dodo in an offended tone, “was, that the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race.”
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“What is a Caucus-race?” said Alice; not that she much wanted to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that somebody ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.
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“Why,” said the Dodo, “the best way to explain it is to do it.” (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)
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First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle and starting right there in Ioway ("the exact shape doesn’t matter,” it said), and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there.  Some made it to the official list at each stop after Ioway, some did not, but that is the way of Candidates. 
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This led to a diversion, a beach-side discussion of Rules. 
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A dissenting voice, to the great surprise of MitchMouse, was heard from the voters: 

"Hey, Candidates.  You tout consistency. But look at your Rules. You love rules when they help you get elected, like keeping somebody off a ballot; and keeping opponents from voting.  And not when they don't, like when rules foster transparency and hinder shady moneymaking at our expense."

And another:  "It's all about YOU. You put rules in our bedrooms and in our doctor visits then complain about big government?  Yeesh! If no rules for the free market, then no rules for the marriage and autonomous living market." 

And another, "Your 'religion' is just another word for controlling other people. Back to the Founder!  Skip your dogma! Get your umbrellas out of our noses!"

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"Quiet!" squealed MitchMouse.  "That is for us, the 1 percent to decide. We decide what is culture, what is religion, and what we shall control because we know how to win! We rule the Great Bed of Ware! Not you, Fodder!"

"And, besides, we also have needs," he went on, turning out his pockets.


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And so there was a quieting of obedient ones, but the others muttered, yes, they muttered; and some gestured; even did a little step or two in time.
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The Caucus Race began. 

There was no “One, two, three, and away!” but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out“The race is over!” and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, “But who has won?”

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it stood for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence.
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At last the Dodo said, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”  At this, Alice perked up because this was one gathering where nobody at all got prizes unless the 1 percent said so, after consulting their offshore bank accounts for impact and hoping their SuperPacs had their eyes on optics.
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“But who is to give the prizes?” quite a chorus of voices asked. Alice herself wondered what the prizes would be.  Real?  Or optics?
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“Why, she, of course,” said the Dodo, pointing to Alice with one finger; and the whole party at once crowded round her, calling out, in a confused way, “Prizes! Prizes!”
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 Alice was delighted at the role, because she believed deeply that everyone should have the basic human prizes of sustenance and opportunity -- her own pledge of allegiance was this:  Liberty, and Justice, and Sustenance for all.   Yes, governments must stay within its means, and if it needs more to do what is important for all, add to the means!  So she was pleased at the thought, and wondered why MitchMouse was so quiet. He, however, was tweeting with lobbyists and had not noticed that largesse was going on.
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Alice had no idea what to do, however, with no prizes ready at hand (revenues would have to be had) and in despair she put her hand in her pocket, and pulled out a box of comfits (luckily the salt water had not got into it), and handed them round as prizes. There was exactly one a-piece, all round.  Alice was a little surprised that she was to produce the prizes, and not the Group around the Candidates, but they just hummed and looked at the sky.
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“But she must have a prize herself, you know,” said MitchMouse.
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“Of course,” the Dodo replied very gravely. “What else have you got in your pocket?” it went on, turning to Alice.
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“Only a thimble,” said Alice sadly.
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“Hand it over here,” said the Dodo.
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Then they all crowded round her once more, while the Dodo solemnly presented the thimble, saying:
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“We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble"; and, when it had finished this short speech, they all cheered.
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Alice thought the whole thing very absurd, because where was the opportunity and sustenance she valued so highly, but they all looked so grave that she did not dare to laugh; and, as she could not think of anything to say, she simply bowed, and took the thimble, looking as solemn as she could.  This would not take the place of schools, bridges, building repair, roads, jobs or health, but at least the idea of sharing had made a small inroad into this hard group. Funny religion theirs, with no giving anything that meant they had to give up something to do it!
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The next thing was to eat the comfits: this caused some noise and confusion, as the large birds complained that they could not taste theirs, and the small ones choked and had to be patted on the back.
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However, it was over at last, and they sat down again in a ring, and begged MitchMouse to tell them something more.
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“You promised to tell me your history, you know,” said Alice, “and why it is you hate—C and D,” she added in a whisper, half afraid that it would be offended again.
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What is C and D??
“Mine is a long and a sad tale!” said MitchMouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
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“It is a long tail, certainly,” said Alice, looking down with wonder at Mitch the Mouse’s tail, that mysteriously grew much as Pinocchio's, with every spinspanspun bit of ludicrousness emerging from his nibbly mouth; “but why do you call it sad?” And she kept on puzzling about it while the MitchMouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this, and very confused it was:
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 “Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, Let us both go to law: I will prose— cute you.— Come I’ll take no denial: We must have the trial; For really this morning I’ve nothing to do. Said the mouse to the cur, ’Such a trial, dear sir. With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath.’ ’I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said cunning old Fury: ’I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.’”
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Capital punishment!  Oh, no, thought Alice.  That is no deterrent, and is often applied most unjustly.  She had just come back from a fact-finding tour of the issue, and had been impressed with Brits on Capital Punishment
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“You are not attending!” said MitchMouse to Alice, severely. “What are you thinking of?”
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“I beg your pardon,” said Alice very humbly: “you had got to the fifth bend, I think?”
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“I had not!” cried MitchMouse, sharply and very angrily, showing his little teeth.
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“A knot!” said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously about her. “Oh, do let me help to undo it!”
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“I shall do nothing of the sort,” said MitchMouse, getting up and walking away. “You insult me by talking such nonsense!”
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“I didn’t mean it!” pleaded poor Alice. “But you’re so easily offended, you know!  And you are the one who talks nonsense.”
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Mitch the Mouse only growled in reply.
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“Please come back, and finish your story!” Alice called after it. And the others all joined in chorus, “Yes, please do!” But MitchMouse only shook its head impatiently, and walked a little quicker.
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“What a pity it wouldn’t stay!” sighed the Lory, as soon as it was quite out of sight.
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And an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to her daughter, “Ah, my dear! Let this be a lesson to you never to lose your temper!” “Hold your tongue, Ma!” said the young Crab, a little snappishly. “You’re enough to try the patience of an oyster!”
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“I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!” said Alice aloud, addressing nobody in particular. “She’d soon fetch it back!”
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“And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?” said the Lory.
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Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet:“Dinah’s our cat. And she’s such a capital one for catching mice, you can’t think! And oh, I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she’ll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!”
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This speech caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds hurried off at once: one old Magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking, “I really must be getting home: the night-air doesn’t suit my throat!” And a Canary called out in a trembling voice to its children, “Come away, my dears! It’s high time you were all in bed!” On various pretexts they all moved off, and Alice was soon left alone.
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“I wish I hadn’t mentioned Dinah!” she said to herself in a melancholy tone. “Nobody seems to like her down here, and I’m sure she’s the best cat in the world! Oh, my dear Dinah! I wonder if I shall ever see you any more!” And here poor Alice began to cry again, for she felt very lonely and low-spirited. In a little while, however, she again heard a little pattering of footsteps in the distance, and she looked up eagerly, half hoping that MitchMouse had changed his mind, and was coming back to finish his story.
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But, of course, it wasn't MitchMouse at all.  He makes his confused points and then ducks off, to his counting house. And so the Caucus Race did indeed dry everybody off, but it solved nothing else.  Alice's concerns that led to the sadness, never broached at all.  Broach?  Brooch?  Tiffany!