Timefiction

Time Travel Logs

1954 Part 16

The American group meets with the time travelers to discuss politics. Allen Dulles asks, “Mr. Thomas and Mr. James. The President has decided that to get proper funding and legislation for our programs, we need to able to brief Congressional leaders. What can you tell us about Joseph Martin, Sam Rayburn, William Knowland, and Lyndon Johnson?”

Bob Thomas said, Josoph Martin was the Republican Speaker of the House, I think, and William Knowland the Republican Minority and Majority leader of the Senate. I don’t know a whole lot more that that about them. Both houses change hands in the 1954 election, and stay Democratic for a long time. Sam Rayburn, I know about him as a legend. One of the giants of an earlier era mentioned in my era. I never heard anything negative said about him. Finally, Lyndon Johnson. I think he was a President who really could have used some foreknowledge. Except, his own forecasting was pretty good, but didn’t help him. He knew the Vietnam War was a losing proposition, but went through with it anyway, not wanting to be the President who lost South Vietnam. He and John F. Kennedy tried to solve the problems of poverty and civil rights in the 1960’s. I suppose some of the mistakes they made that led to a culture of dependency, waste and fraud, could be avoided with some future knowledge. If LBJ didn’t have the Vietnam War to distract him and the deplete the US budget, he could have accomplished more.”

Allen Dulles said, “That is interesting. However, I would like to know more about him as a Senate leader in next few years.” Bob Thomas answered, “I remember he was very concerned about preventing the Soviets from having a lead in space and missiles. I think both he and Sam Rayburn can be very effective in delivering Democratic votes for anything they believe in. Bruce James said, “I have about the same knowledge. I don’t even recognize the two Republican names mentioned. I think in defense and foreign policy there is not that much difference between your policies and Johnson’s. I think you can work together. I hope endless anti-insurgent wars such as the Vietnam war can be avoided in this history, as well as new ones such as in Cuba.”

Later, Lyndon Johnson was briefed by Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers. “That is the tallest tall tale I have ever heard!” Johnson exclaimed. “What is it you want of me? To let two lunatics you conjured up tell me how to vote in the Senate?”

President Eisenhower answered, “I assure you, I wouldn’t have presented this to you unless I was serious and absolutely convinced of the authenticity myself.” Johnson retorted, “I’m going to borrow a phrase from your predecessor and say “Show me.””

Eisenhower replied, “I’ll send you on a tour of the American lab disassembling the American time traveler’s device. It might not be impressive enough, so I’ll use our agreement with the British to let you see the working device carried by the British time traveler. I am not asking you to set aside our political differences, or your own goal of becoming President some day. I am asking us to work together on those areas we agree on, to make use of this extraordinary glimpse of a future that would have been, and make good decisions for our future. If I wasn’t 100% convinced of your patriotism I would not have reached out to you. Furthermore was have evidence that the Russians have a time traveler also, as well as China.”

Johnson said, “’l’ll look at your evidence. I am an American, a United States Senator, and a Democrat, in that order.”

Reconvening the time travelers to discuss other people who might be told about time travel, Dr. Chadwell directed at both, “We heared what you said about Vice President Nixon, about Mr. Thomas not wanting him told about you. We are going to need some solid reasons to continue with that decision. He is the Vice President, and you already told us the President Eisenhower is probably going to have a heart attack soon, even with some better health advice that you offer. So, why shouldn’t the man who might suddenly become President not be briefed? I heard your explanation of Watergate, but neither of you thinks there is proof that he ordered the break-in, only that he illegaly organized a cover-up. Then you give some sort of explanation of science fiction novels of the future casting Nixon in a bad light. Can you please elaborate?”

Bruce James said, “I am amused by the science fiction angle to it. It is true however. I saw “Back to the Future 2”, which showed a distopia caused by information from the future with Nixon in charge well beyond 8 years. There was “Philip K. Dick is dead, alas”, written in the style of Philip K. Dick, after his death, showing again, Nixon in charge of a distopic future. The US TV show, Futurama, showed a reanimated Nixon plotting to take dictatorial power again. “Watchmen”, with super-hero assistance, had Nixon in charge well beyond 8 years and assasinating opponents. There are probably others that I am not aware of.”

“As an aside”, Bruce James continue, “I am quite a fan of Philip K. Dick, and would disappointed if this timeline didn’t have his novels. Don’t get me wrong, he is a raving lunatic, but in the best tradition of insane genious artists found throughout history. I think as of this year, he has written some novels, but not gotten any published yet, but has published some short stories. I think next year, he is visited by the FBI. His recollection of that visit was extraordinarily amusing. If it were somehow possible to meet him, and prod him towards writing novels through some bizarreness of interaction, I would be quite grateful.”

Bob Thomas said, “Getting back to Nixon. The fact that many people who know more than me about Nixon, assume that he would use future knowledge to become a dictator, is something to take seriously. There is the aspect of whether he would support free and fair elections and freedom of the press.”

Bruce James answered, “Actually, I would bring to your attention, the 1960 election and its aftermath. It was a very close election, and there were allegations of vote fraud in favor of Kennedy, done by the Mob in Illinois. Also, in Texas by Johnson supporters. After the initial recounts, Nixon refrained from further challenges, not wanting to create a Constitutional crises. He gave up the possibility of winning the Presidency that year for patriotic reasons. Also, during the election campaign, Kennedy talked about a missile gap with the Soviets, and of a failure to do something about Castro in Cuba. Nixon knew that intelligence showed that the Soviets had very few missiles, and also knew about a plan to invade Cuba with US armed Cuban exiles. He didn’t compromise his knowledge of secret information to help win the election.”

Nikita Khrushchev visited Sergei Beloglazov again. “You are correct that we don’t have a true H-Bomb yet. You haven’t provided anything to help with the next test, so all we can do is increase resources and try different approaches at the same time. Our race against time, is to show the US that we can deliver atomic bombs to their cities even in the face of a surprise attack against us. We believe that atomic bombs will provide enough deterrence even if only 40 kilotons, which we can now make fairly compactly. Our sort of hydrogen bomb in our test last year yielded 400 kilotons of TNT. So, our emergency need is to produce delivery methods. Again we will try multiple methods. The Keldysh project has several possibilities. One of those is the Burya RSS-40. From what you have described, this project must have been canceled in your time. Another is a project by Lavochkin involving a supersonic unmanned rocket that travels through the air, a cruise missile. We think this area has more prospects for early success than missiles. What do you think?” Sergei answered “That certainly seems a well thought out plan. The main goal of deterrence, of course, is to have a system that you can tell the USA about. The key to such a system is large numbers to overwhelm possible defenses. When you get to the point of needing reentry vehicles that can withstand heat, perhaps my knowledge of armor can lead to some experiments that help.”

Khrushchev agreed, “Yes, we will see what we can do. Another area, is the M-4 bomber. We already showed it off May Day 1954. The fact that it is a one way trip, perhaps does not have to hurt its deterrence. First, we think we can increase its range soon, but more important for deterrence, is we plan to publicize a group of patriots who will boast that they will fly that plane on a one way mission. We also plan to divert all possible resources to increase production of the M-4. This might bridge the time of vulnerability we have until the missile programs are successful. However, how do we afford these resources and have the economy still develop?”

Sergei answered, “That is something I can help more with. You must have a lower opinion of the idealism of the people, and a greater belief in their ability to be creative if it is in their interests. Corruption on the one hand, and trying to reach incentive goals in false or useless ways on the other hold back the system.” Khrushchev interrupted, “I know about that. I once solved a problem with tires from a factory wearing out quickly. They had a production quota and shortchanged the material in each tire to make that quote.” Sergei said, “Yes. That is how simple top-down rulings can get subverted by people being creative. The challenge is to turn that creativity towards useful ends. What I said earlier about speculative investments, with people with good ideas and energy but who have not risen through the ranks, with a power to hire and fire their team, and who each can get a share of the value that such a venture can generate, will help. A key point, is not to use political factors in deciding which ventures to back, but purely the likelihood of success. Have a group to advise and select these ventures also get a small part of the value created.”

Lyndon B. Johnson came back from his tour of the future devices and met with Eisenhower again and said. “I believe in their authenticity and I’ll work with you, but on one condition. I get to meet with both time travelers myself, and not rely on hearing second hand what they say.” Eisenhower said, “That is acceptable. You can meet with them today if you like.”

Johnson met them in their secure facility, a part of an Air Force base. “How do you boys like 1954?” Bob Thomas answered, “I haven’t gotten much chance to experience it. I’ve been under custody since soon after I arrived here.” Bruce James said, “We understand the need for it. We are some sort of unique asset and while we both know of some of the various Soviet spies in our governments we have no way of knowing if we are both known and targeted by hostile intelligence agents.”

Bob Thomas noticed that Johnson looked a lot different than he did as President. His face seemed wider for one thing. It was probably the heart attack he had in 1955 that changed his appearance. He said, “Senator, if I may offer some personal advice, in my history you had a heart attack in 1955. I think if you completely stopped smoking now and maybe followed some other dietary and exercise advise already known in 1954 that could be prevented, especially limiting fat in the diet”

Johnson said, “Do I survive it?” Bob Thomas said, “Yes, and then you stopped smoking, and lived until 1973 when I think you had another heart attack.” Bruce James said, “I think reducing stress has been shown to reduce heart attacks, as does the use of blood thinners such as a daily aspirin. Exercise that keeps the heart rate up for at least 15 minutes at least 5 times a week also helps, but is perhaps not advisable when one is close to having a heart attack.”

Johnson said, “Stress. What does that even mean? Senate Minority Leader is a tough job, and you guys are going to make it even tougher. I’m going to have to give Senators the Treatment to vote some way or other and not even be able to tell them the reasons why.”

Johnson asked, “How does Texas do in the future, or you future as I understand that is already different than events that have happened?” Bruce James answered, “Yes, our knowledge is becoming further different from history already happening in 1954, both due to our influence as well as the apparent time travelers in the USSR and China. The changes we have seen are the direct result of future knowledge, but also seems to be based upon things that we never said, so it could not just be the result of spies reporting on what we said. As for Texas, its economy does better than the rest of the US and many people move there from the mid-western States. Bob Thomas added, “During the 1970’s energy shortage, Texas did very well, but then when energy prices fell in the 1980’s its economy contracted. Still overall it did well, and its population exceeded New York’s by far. With common use of air conditioning, the entire Sun Belt gained industry and population, while places like Detroit became ghost towns.”

Bruce James said, “Another development you should be aware of is that Texas and the entire South become Republican. I think Nixon invents the Southern Strategy, and gradually from the 1960’s to 1990’s Southern politicians, including in Texas change parties. While today the Democratic party is a coalition between northeast liberals and southern conservatives, by 2008 is mostly liberals on both the east and west coasts, African Americans, Hispanics, and liberal Whites found in all States including in the South and Texas. For instance, Austin is considered a liberal area of Texas.

Johnson asked, “But up to 1973, I remain in the Democratic Party?” Bob Thomas said, “Yes. The shift is slow. In the 1980’s most of the Southern politicians are still Democrats but tend to vote with President Reagan. By the 1990’s most of the conservatives are Republicans, with George Bush, son of today’s senator Prescott Bush, as President from 1989 to 1993 from his adopted State of Texas. Then he is replaced by Clinton and VP Al Gore, son of today’s Senator Gore, both Democrats. Then in 2000 George W Bush, son of President Bush is elected President and identifies himself as a Texan although he was born in Connecticut. All the Bushes are Republicans.”

Story: 1954: Part 17

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