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A Party for the Empress

by Keith Koffler on January 21, 2014, 12:21 pm

It was the twilight of the Roman Empire.

The decay, which would lead to the empire’s downfall, had set in long before.

The ruling class sought to appease its people by taking money from the largest landowners and most successful businessmen and giving it to the rest of society. But the effort had irretrievably harmed the economy and habituated the poorest and even the middle class to taking gifts and free stuff, and diminished their work ethic. And the rulers, in their indulgence and eagerness to please the citizenry, had amassed for the empire incalculable debts that it could never repay and now could barely even service.

Meanwhile, the empire’s enemies, the barbarians, had grown stronger, with more of them possessing the weapons that once only the Romans had wielded. The emperor, having no appetite for battle, sought to dissuade the barbarians. He trusted in their peaceful instincts, but they were wilier than he and merely used his goodwill to further their evil designs.

The emperor and his empress were ignorant of the empire’s decline and sought only to increase the happiness of the citizens by taking yet more money from the successful and redistributing it to those who were not. And yet, they themselves led lavish lifestyles, traveling overseas on grand vacations and even journeying frequently to Africa, where the Empress rode elephants and tracked wild animals.

About five years into their reign, the emperor and empress vacationed together on a beautiful isle in the Aegean Sea. After a fortnight, the emperor realized he had no choice but to return to Rome. But the empress moved on to another island, where she continued to revel for another ten days in luxury with her dearest friends.

When she finally returned to the palace, rested and full of joy, the emperor threw a lavish party in her honor. Some 500 citizens of the realm were called to attend. Among them were the leading members of society – artists, singers, athletes, politicians, men and women of great wealth and fame, and more.

The emperor and empress demanded that their guests dance for them – even refusing to serve dinner so that none of them would have a heart attack during the gala.

Even as the empire crumbled around them, the empress and her guests drank “sips” of wine, nibbled at small but delicious treats, and danced into the early hours of the morning. At one point during the bacchanal, a beautiful, barely clad chanteuse, whom the empress herself idolized and had befriended, arose and, slinking and slithering, serenaded the adoring crowd.

As the time to depart arrived, the empress admonished her guests: “Not a word about this! No one must talk about what we did here this evening. The masses must not find out how we really live.”

The guests already understood. All of their writing tools and empty scrolls had been confiscated at the palace door, so that they could not record what they’d seen before the wine had erased their memory. Anyway, they knew they must say nothing, or risk never being invited back to the palace again.

The party ended about 3 am, and then the emperor and empress slept very well. They did not emerge from their palace at all the next day. The following day, a Monday, they went and spent an hour making burritos for the homeless at a local charity, just to remind the empire that truly they cared only about the people, and gave not a whit about themselves.

And outside the palace walls, far from the glittering lives they led, the sun continued to set on Rome, and the barbarians gathered and waited.

Leave a Comment

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

65andcounting January 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Oh my goodness, that is a classic Keith. I plan to read it to my grandchildren at bedtime, every night.

AWESOME!

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Ginger A. White January 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

just as Don responded I am blown away that anyone can get paid $4995 in four weeks on the computer . you could look here… T­E­C­8­­0.C­O­M

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William January 21, 2014 at 11:25 pm

You blew Don for almost $5k??? On your computer??? I must have wasted my 24yrs in the Marine Corps not learning that skill set. My loss.

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Lindy January 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Wow! Pulitzer material, Keith.

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pianogirl88 January 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Bravo! This is absolutely fabulous.

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Kimbly January 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Anybody else worried about how many business people and news media types were invited to the private birthday extravaganza?

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Owen_Kellogg January 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Are we still celebrating Michelle’s birthday? This has been going on for two weeks now.

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apr_47 January 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

OMG!!! Thank you!

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Kathryn January 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Keith, Well done! I have to know though: “Did anyone live happily everafter?”

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srdem65 January 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

That’s really, wow, just scary as all get out. And, so true.
Congrats.

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Mandy Manners January 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Highly amusing yet frighteningly accurate.

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rawheadrex January 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Bravo, Keith! In a free society, the rich may become powerful; in a socialist society, the powerful become rich.

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Aileen January 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

My highly intelligent (and favorite) Aunt often compared the demise of this great country to the fall of the Roman Empire – and that was back in the 1960′s and 1970′s.

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Julie Brueckheimer January 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Yes, smart people have been saying that for a long time. Like the Romans, we have a far-flung unsustainable military empire, bread and circuses for our hoi polloi at home, and even gladiators.

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Lee January 21, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Keith the only thing missing from this story was the horrific jokes they made at their party about all the terrible things that are happeing to our Country. There has got to be a brave person out there that associates with this crowd. One person who sticks a microphone, camera in their earing aide (The only thing I could think of that would not be searched)
to pick up proof of this crew.
I feel all the people who are just about to tell, are being paid a great sum of money, our tax money.

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DeniseVB January 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Your wit sparkles in this one Keith and I honestly laughed til I cried :D

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MarjoJimbo January 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

A very, very powerful commentary, Keith.

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PBB January 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I am Spartacus ……………….

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Susan January 21, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Well done, Keith. Worthy of the Grimm brothers true fairy tales. Although it seems there were a few who were above the confiscation of writing tools. We’ve all seen the images of the “barely clad chanteuse” posing with one of the royal pets. Just as members of the Muslim Brotherhood are spared the same indignity Americans routinely undergo to board an airplane, the BFF of the emperor and empress were spared the indignity of surrendering their scrolls upon entrance to the royal palace.

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AFVet January 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Very well said !

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gracepmc January 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Excellent. I was lured by the Aegean Sea and startled awake by the burrito. Somehow it all fits.

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AZ Granny January 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

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Lee January 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

By the way I gave my thoughts on Paul McCartney going in yesterday’s thread. Wouldn’t it be wonderful it he wrote an sang one of his last songs about what he learned and saw at this party.

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Kimbly January 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

This great piece echoes another great article by Victor Davis Hanson over at PJMedia. Keith, hope you don’t mind if I link: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/thin-strand-of-civilization/

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Julie Brueckheimer January 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I enjoyed that! Were there really 500 invited guests at MO’s birthday bash? But you know me, I always have one little quibble, and this time I say that the Obamas NEVER “sought to increase the happiness of all citizens.”

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Aileen January 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Good question, Julie.
I imagine we all know “a bunch” of people and “lots” of friends and “stuff” … But 500? And what did the place look like when they all left? And how come Beyoncé was allowed to post pictures but no one else was allowed to commemorate their attendance? And when will the media quit being the water boys and girls for this administration?

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Dietrich January 21, 2014 at 2:36 pm

It’s painful because it’s true.

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Cindy Lou January 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Brilliant and frightening

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Scottso January 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

were there any doobs and tokes being passed around.
According to the Leader they are no worse off than drinks.

THESE PEOPLE ARE FRAUDS.

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Julie Brueckheimer January 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I’ll wager it was an underwraps political event. No one has 500 intimate friends, no one.

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Scottso January 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

what a shambles we live in.

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Otis Driftwood January 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

take a bow Keith, am still laughing. too bad the tale was told without illustrations or cartoon pics :-)

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gracepmc January 21, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Well, apparently even in the worst of times we will be able to have fun. The song at least fits the Obamas.

http://www.bookwormroom.com/2014/01/20/best-flash-mob-ever/

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DeniseVB January 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Love it! Thanks for posting grace !

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Lee January 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Thanks for posting!

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Danceswithtruth January 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Absolutely brilliant, Keith!

For some time I have been concerned about you as you continue to call out our President, the Progressive Liberals and those weak-bellied Republicans. With this piece have you given any thought to establishing a fund to help pay for your defense fund when the IRS comes knocking? Just wondering.

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Mandy Manners January 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Some days I think this country is an open-air mental asylum.

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Sadie January 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Roman à clef well done, Keith!

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Girly1 January 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Well said, Keith.
So many parallels to be drawn from the hedonistic lifestyle of the grifters. Having just seen “The Wolf”, the word ‘She-Wolf’ comes to mind. The She-Wolf of the White House meets the Wolf of Wall Street – Justan Belfort. Decadent, greedy, narcissistic ….and corrupt.
Worthy of a sequel to the Scorsese film.

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rulierose January 21, 2014 at 6:04 pm

whoa. that last line made me shiver.

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Keith Koffler January 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Thanks everyone . . .

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Island Girl January 22, 2014 at 2:44 am

You have outdone yourself once again.

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Artcat January 21, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Thou dost weave a wondrous tale, Sir Keith. Tis no wonder you are on the Fabulous 50 list. Were there a Top 10 list, you would surely reside there as well.

Here’s another chapter of the story… the royals did further invite a team of mighty warriors to their castle. But the queen would not allow the king to have all the glory of posing with the warriors. She did intrude upon their visit to such an extent as to invite scorn upon herself.

I have proof (1st video):
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/01/21/michelle-obama-photobombs-miami-heat-video/

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movedtothefarm January 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

OMG – Classic! Luv it!

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