twas the night before christmas and in the big house
the last creature stirring was mortimer mouse
devising some uplifting sentiments new
to fill up his masterpiece keep squeaking through
the book that will soon be the talk of the town
when published next year some time by little brown
his secret reason for keeping awake
was trusting that santa claus wasnt a fake
a message to santa hed sent up the flue
asking for camembert and danish blue
he knew well that santa faced billions of pleas
but hoped he could drop in some small bits of cheese
for hours poor mortimer paced in the dark
as even the foxes slept on in the park
screechless at last in the moons pallid light
their usual sex orgy stilled for this night
one thought beat on mortimers soul like a drum
had he been too naughty for santa to come
at last he could hear a faint noise on the roof
he tried to believe that it might be a hoof
he pinned back his ears and strained to hear more
but just then a note was pushed under his door
it said owing to factors beyond my control
i cannot deliver now to your mousehole
the new rule of six is in force for this year
and ive had to furlough four of my deer
ive no bloody dancer and no bloody vixen
and no takeout donner and no bloody blitzen
with four missing reindeer i havent the speed
to visit each household and drop what they need
if you give me a name i will certainly labour
to leave your request with a suitable neighbour
the same message appeared under millions of doors
all signed yours regretfully mister s claus
poor mortimer sniffled but did not repine
he took up his pen and wrote a new line
of uplifting thought for his uplifting book
he stiffened his sinews and told himself look
things could be much worse when the times are like these
if santa cant visit ill make my own cheese
and this is what mortimer wrote with a smile
the queen might well take certain tips from his style
the sky may be dark but it still is the sky
and its waiting there for you if you choose to fly
so soar like an eagle and dont be a grouse
signed yours very truly
full version of article published in the Yorkshire Post (England) November 5. 2020
As I write these lines, it appears that a clear majority of the American people have chosen Joe Biden as their next President. That does not mean that they will get him. His hopes of an unequivocal majority in the Electoral College have disappeared. Even if he ekes one out from the big swing states yet to declare, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Donald Trump will now have the opportunity to carry out his intention of refusing to accept the result.
He has signalled this for a long time, by spurious claims that the Democrats have used postal ballots and early voting for large-scale fraud. Voter fraud is virtually unknown in modern American elections: only a handful of cases have been prosecuted in the last 20 years from an electorate of over 200 million. Trump and his supporters have prepared a barrage of lawsuits to object to unfavourable declarations of results in counties and states, and are ready to appeal them to his newly-packed Supreme Court. Some of his extreme supporters have also threatened force to prevent a “stolen election” (stolen from him, of course, not by him.)
These lawsuits will be the climax of two decades of “voter suppression” by the Republican party, and would follow no fewer than forty Republican lawsuits before the election which were all designed to make it harder to vote. The party has become more and more ingenious in denying entire groups of likely opponents, particularly ethnic minority people, the means to vote conveniently or safely or even at all. Some of the means used to achieve this might embarrass election officials in Belarus. In Florida one elderly black lady found that she had been disqualified in this election for an offence she had committed 43 years ago.
Trump’s lawsuits would plunge his country into a dark chasm of uncertainty, leave them without an effective government as the Covid pandemic continues to rage and give another battering to the American economy and the world’s. The election result would then be determined by provisions of baffling uncertainty which have not been used since the nineteenth century. The Twelfth Amendment to the constitution might come into play. The President would be chosen by the House of Representatives – but not the full body, controlled by the Democrats, instead by one representative from each state delegation. Small Republican states are over-represented in the House, and the Twelfth Amendment would allow 26 people to vote for Trump and set aside the 70 million or so who voted for Biden.
Worse still, Trump’s Supreme Court judges might do their duty by their patron and order the acceptance in the Electoral College of delegations committed to Trump rather than Biden in the disputed states. That would reduce Trump’s electorate from 26 to six.
Either of these nightmare scenarios is likely to plunge the United States into protracted civil strife – which Trump and his vigilante supporters would relish and foment. Resistance to Trump clinging to power could take many forms, lawful or not, and already some communities and whole states have “war-gamed” actual secession from the United States. One idea for non-violent resistance could prove especially popular: a tax rebellion. These have a long history since the American Revolution itself. Democrat voters unfairly robbed of their vote would pay no Federal tax at all (“no taxation without representation”) while others in the majority deprived through Trump’s manoeuvres would cap their contribution to $750 – what he paid in his last year before becoming President.
Even without the nightmare scenarios and their aftermath, Trump has already trashed American democracy by his spurious attacks on its processes, reliance on methods which deny basic rights to likely opponents, and flirtation with violent groups.
This is a loss not just to the United States but to all the democracies in the world, which are facing unprecedented challenges from tyrannical régimes and extremist non-state actors. Free and fair elections, in which the losers accept the will of the majority, are an immense political and ideological bulwark against these enemies. Trump has no right to devalue that asset and allow them to claim that democracy is a sham. A Trump second term would give new opportunities for subversion, lawbreaking and even murder overseas by his supporter, Vladimir Putin. Worse still, it would encourage China to attack democracy wherever it stands in its way, in Hong Kong or Taiwan or anywhere else. Both Russian and Chinese state media have openly mocked the election.
America when it really was great (before Trump) was memorably described as “a shining city on a hill”. Trump is turning it into a stinking sewer in a hole. Biden may not have been an ideal candidate (although he was always the Democrat whom Trump most wanted to eliminate as a challenger). If he does become President he may not be a very effective one, particularly since the Democrats seem to have failed to take control of the Senate. But Biden is at least aware of his responsibilities to democracy itself. The world would see a Presidency that respects the rights of opponents and governs with a sense of responsibility towards them as well to its supporters.
I was born in the United States and have family and friends there. I have lived and worked there and reported or analysed six of its elections. If Donald Trump obtains a second term of office after his conduct in this campaign I do not expect to see again in my lifetime the American democracy I believe in.
Four years that you’ve been lying
But soon you will be crying and crying
For you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
Four years that you’ve been cheating
But now you’re gonna take a beating
Poor you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
You thought you were a great big man
You’re just a worm
You face the sack
Not coming back
No, no, no, not a second term.
You know you’ve been a failure
And now there’s nobody to fix it and bail ya
Poor you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
You thought you were a great big man
But now you squirm
You face the sack
Not coming back
No, no, no, not a second term.
More free materials for this purpose. Any anti-Trumpers may use as they wish without attribution. Apologies for any repeats, but if they were good before they’re still good now.
Some simple narratives for Biden-Harris
Trump is not fit to be your President and represent you. I will never make you ashamed of your President. Trump is going to lose. For once in his career, he should put America before himself and lose with dignity.
A worse virus than COVID is likely to hit America in the next four years. I have a plan for it, to preserve and protect the United States. Or will you give Donald Trump another chance to do things his way – crash the economy again and cause thousands more unnecessary deaths?
The Obama-Biden administration saved the American economy from the Bush crash and the Biden-Harris administration will save it from the Trump slump.
Trump stokes up violence and vigilantes. He threatens civil war in America. No one is safe when every crazy with a gun gets a free pass from the President. We will heal America. We will enforce the law firmly but fairly for all. Everyone will get a police force they can trust.
There is never any excuse for rioting and looting. Rioters and looters are parasites on BlackLivesMatter and everyone else protesting in the cause of justice – and they’re all helping Donald Trump. Poor people are their biggest victims. Our administration will fight them and keep America safe – with proper law enforcement not vigilantes with guns.
For all Christian voters
Repeating for convenience a passage from the Trump Bible:
St Paul to the Corinthians (New Revised Standard Version):
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
From Trump’s upside-down Bible (Revised No-Standards Version)
St Donald to the Covidians :
And now fear, hate and self-love abide, these three, and my greatest of these is self-love.
In St Luke’s Gospel (King James Version) Jesus says: “Suffer little children to come unto me.” Donald Trump does only the first three words.
For believers faith means too things above all else. First, putting others before yourself. When has Donald Trump ever done that?
Might be illustrated with the image from a while back. Trump walking off Presidential plane on a very wet and windy day carrying a giant umbrella to protect his hair-do. Behind him Melania and his son Barron (then I think about 11), no umbrella, taking the full force of the wind and rain. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5273011/Trump-holds-umbrella-self-boards-Air-Force-One.html
Second: faith means accepting responsibility before God and before your fellow humans for the effect of your words and actions. When has Donald Trump ever done that?
Paybacks for donors: the pre-paid President Nail myth that Trump paid for own campaign in 2016. Find all his big donors and show what he did to pay them back. Ideally a new one each day. Call him the pre-paid President.
Trump and environment. Don’t think we’ve heard enough about this: no voters anywhere like poisoned air and water, trashed landscapes. Big-name speakers should make a point of visiting local examples and blaming them on Trump policies, especially paybacks to campaign donors. Name such places after Trump – Lake Trump, River Trump, Mount Trump etc. Find older voters who can remember them listen to their descriptions of them as they used to be, and promise to restore them.
Trump Street As above. On any campaign appearance to an economically depressed town setting, name it after him: Trump Mall, Trump Square. I think Trump Street is especially evocative.
A message to all non-Americans who love the United States It would normally be wrong for foreigners to try to influence any American election (although tell that to Vladimir Putin). But these are not normal times and this is not a normal President. Suppose you see someone you love about to make a terrible decision: a ruinous investment, getting into a car with a drunk driver, renewing an abusive relationship. Do you stand aside or do you try to prevent it? Tell America what you think of Donald Trump.
A message to all American bridge lovers: the only good bid this election is a Strong No-Trump.
A few cheap shots
They chose the wrong Donald. Write in Duck instead of Trump on the ballot. Donald Duck for President: he makes more sense.
Donald Trump: fat fool… fat fraud… fat fake… fat fibber… fat chance.
Dump Trump End The Slump
A really cheap shot as a possible badge or poster Trump image with WARNING TOXIC WASTE DO NOT APPROACH DO NOT RE-ELECT
These suggestions are a free resource for the Democratic party and anyone campaigning against the re-election of Donald Trump.
Virus The world environment and economy have become a breeding ground for new viruses. It is highly likely that something worse than Covid will hit the world and the United States in the next four years. Do you want Donald Trump to handle the next virus? Do you want thousands more unnecessary deaths? Do you want him to crash the economy all over again?
Law and order Make Trump answer personally for every single wrongful act by police or armed Rightwing vigilantes. “Trump thinks it’s fine for police officers to choke an unresisting man to death… or shoot him in the back in front of his children.” Etc Make him answer especially for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager in a far Right militia who killed protestors in Kenosha with an automatic weapon. This should resonate especially with decent families. Trump thinks it fine for children to use automatic weapons. Might even ask whether Trump would let his own teenage son use one.
If it’s not the law already, Joe Biden might propose “one-strike-and-you’re-out” for gun owners. Use a gun to commit a crime or let another use it for a crime and you lose your right to own a gun. Simple, comprehensible, drives wedge between responsible gun owners and others. Make Trump and gun lobby find arguments against it.
Policing. Of course Democrats support police officers and departments in their job of protecting people. But they can’t do that if police officers behave like vigilantes. Nobody’s safe when that happens. Law and order collapses. America turns into a tinpot state where the police are out of control. Like Russia under Trump’s good buddy Vladimir Putin. Trump gives a free pass to any racist, trigger-happy, violent police officers. We say they’ve betrayed their colleagues, their community and their country.
Rioting Rioters and looters should be denounced instantly and often. But point out also that Trump loves them. They’re doing his work for him. It might be good politics to spread the idea that some might be in the pay of Trump supporters – or even Russia, trying to help him out. No evidence for this (yet) but of course that’s never bothered Trump. Plenty of historic precedent for Rightwing regimes recruiting revolutionary terrorists (Tsarist regime in Russia paid thousands, including Stalin) or committing terrorist crimes secretly and blaming them on opponents (Nazis setting fire to Reichstag 1933 and blaming patsy, confused revolutionary van der Lubbe.) More recently, Putin did this in Russia using bombing or arson attacks to gain or consolidate power. Straight out of the Putin playbook to use same strategy in USA.
Economy Repeat over and over, Trump inherited a strong economy from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. (Just as he got lots of his daddy’s money to start his business empire.) The Obama-Biden administration pulled America out of the Bush recession: the Biden-Harris one will pull America’s out of Trump’s.
Show simply each day how much Trump’s economic policies gave to the richest ahead of the poorest, especially to donors.
Highlight Trump donors who threw Americans out of work, or cut their wages and rights, and outsourced production – especially to China.
Corruption Attack myth that Trump paid for own campaign in 2016. Name his donors and each day highlight a favor he’s done for one of them. Call Trump a pre-paid President.
(Politely) unsettling Trump’s voters in 2016 Lots of fundamentally decent people were among the 63 million who voted for Trump in 2016. They might be shaken out of Trump’s column in 2020 by showing that he does not represent them or their values. That represents half a vote for Biden even if they don’t come all the way over. Moreover, it would represent a significant gain in individual communities if Trump lost his advocates among respected people and had to find them from those as weird or bad as himself. A few questions below to help achieve this, all focused on Trump’s bad character and lack of standards voters expect from leaders of their own communities:
Would you want Trump as your family doctor? Has he done what you’d expect your doctor to do to keep your family alive and healthy?
Would you trust Trump as your local law enforcement officer to apply the law fairly and equally and go after vigilantes and crazies and rich bad guys?
Do you think Donald Trump obeys the same laws and rules that you do, and pays his tax bill the way you have to pay yours?
If you met Donald Trump in the line for a long bus ride or plane trip would you want him to sit next to you? Or to be near you and your family in a restaurant or at a ball game? Or might you think – anyone but this guy yammering in my ear?
Do you believe that Donald Trump had bonespurs during the Vietnam war? Do you think he has any idea what it means to be a veteran?
If you have a business of your own, did you start it on your own money or did you have a rich daddy? Did you pay your bills on time – or cheat your creditors over and over again? Would you want to do business with Donald Trump now?
Would you want your young daughter to work for Donald Trump, or go to a party with him and his friends Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell?
Does Donald Trump meet the standards you’d expect in your minister of religion? Do you think Donald Trump has ever put Christian principles ahead of his own interests, in political or personal life? Do you think Donald Trump has ever made any kind of sacrifice in his life? Is there anyone chosen by God in the Bible who acts in any way like Donald Trump? Did Jesus Christ ever act like Donald Trump?
If you have children, would you like them to grow up like Donald Trump? Would you let your five-year-old have public tantrums like Donald Trump and tell fibs like Donald Trump’s?
Britain hates Trump Not a major factor but most Americans have a favorable view of Britain so it might be worth reminding them that Britain hates Trump. Most recent survey (by British pollsters YouGov) 68 per cent gave Trump an unfavorable rating – worst performance in Britain by any US President.
But Putin loves him… Most Americans have a poor view of Putin. So remind them that Putin wanted him to win in 2016 and wants this again. Speculate why. Call Trump “Putin’s puppy” (possible poster/video) or “patsy.”
A possible campaign slogan A TIME TO HEAL… Biblical, applies to virus and America generally. Was the title of Gerald Ford’s memoirs. Ford looks like a giant compared to Trump now, and it might remind older voters of Republican party which Trump has taken from them.
A few zingers and jokes, especially for speakers taking the low road:
If you can understand anything Trump says, he must be lying.
Mike Pence gives mediocrity a bad name.
Coming soon, the world’s smallest public building, the Donald Trump Presidential Library.
Donald Trump: dumb but never mute.
Donald Trump: sick visions, out of control. Help America recover from the DTs.
Donald Trump: as yellow as his hair.
Xerus Publishing publishes The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers – Richard Heller’s crazed memories of lockdown life in the plague year. Publication date 21 September Price £6.99 ISBN 978-1-8381654-0-6 Distribution: Vine House Distribution Ltd www.vinehouseuk.co.uk
• Nobel Literature prize judges re-convene
• Donald Trump and Boris Johnson plunge further in polls
• Amazon deafened by butterfly wings
Cover and illustrations by Rupert Macnee
A wild escape from lockdown through fantasy, satire and sheer comic genius. Richard Heller is a man of letters, few of them answered, and a cricketer in the sunset of a career which never really had a dawn. He has been confined to his premises in Rubato Towers, London SE, which he shares with a mouse and two fornicating foxes. He gives regular piano recitals to his neighbours and they bang on the walls and ceilings to hear more – sometimes half the night, they just won’t let go. He has been free of COVID19 but suffers from a regular Mystery Virus, producing flu-like symptoms, which he named after Peter Mandelson. He is writing an autobiography, full of the famous people who knew him, called My Goodness, How I Roared! and compiling a set of upbeat homilies called Happy Talk, tasks regularly interrupted by the tiresome Prodnose. He faces competition in the upbeat homily market from the Resident Mouse. His entourage expands to include a poetic cockroach who claims to be the famous archy and a bridge-playing goldfish.
– The secret life of the Queen and Nadia the Tiger
– What Neil Armstrong nearly said on the Moon
– New ways to mock Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Xi Jinping, the under-derided Paramount Brute running China
– The invasion of sex-crazed jellyfish
– The dramatic story of Shakespeare’s performing bear
– Songs, light verse and a short screenplay
– Store cupboard recipes for a repeat lockdown (including pilchards with dried apricots)
– Keir Starmer’s past life as Cheeky Keir, risqué variety entertainer
Richard Heller is a Master of the Arts of Oxford University and of many other arts besides. He went to Repton School and Balliol College. He was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail On Sunday and more briefly on The Times. He was also the main non-fiction book reviewer for The Mail On Sunday for seven years. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He wrote two cricket-themed novels A Tale Of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two finals on BBC Television’s Mastermind: one of his specialist subjects was Sir Garry Sobers. He was chief of staff to Denis Healey, then Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Gerald Kaufman, then Shadow Home Secretary. With Peter Oborne he wrote White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket (shortlisted for the MCC/Cricket Society book of the year in 2017). They are currently making podcasts to relieve the cricket-deprived.
Illustrator Rupert Macnee is a creator and producer of television series in England, Canada and the United States, including profiles of Marvel’s Stan Lee, comic artist Jim Steranko, and the creators of Dudley Doright. He studied drawing at the Otis Parsons School in Los Angeles, and developed the character of John Kniteright, a legendary English tabloid journalist. Rupert’s father was the actor Patrick Macnee, who portrayed the immaculate secret agent John Steed in The Avengers.
From The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
I have received an email from the Queen asking me to form a government of national salvation. Since there is no cricket, I will consider her invitation but I cannot understand why she needs all my bank account details.
Jonathan Swift would never have sent Boris Johnson to Lilliput because it would imply that there was something to diminish.
A sunlit day without cricket to watch or play is an Imperial gallon of gall, and as Julius Caesar discovered, all gall is divided into three parts, resentment, rancour and rage.
No one seems to know why bat shit became the acme of craziness. It seems very unfair. Like all creatures bats have to shit sometimes, and they often have to wait until all the bears have left the woods. There was a wonderful nature film about bats some years ago, and the star was Mama Bat. She flits around all night. Partying? No way. Desperately looking for food for Baby Bat. Finally she does a supermarket swoop on something and schleps it home – a bat cave with thousands of baby bats, all kicking off for food at a pitch beyond even my reach at the piano at Rubato Towers. In all that kickoffony, Mama Bat can tell which individual squawk belongs to her baby. What a performer! She should take over from the pelican as the emblem of motherhood. No mention of any help from Papa Bat. Probably does not even shave, like Peppa’s deadbeat dad, and just hangs upside down in the cave watching sports replays. Maybe some mama bats can’t take it any more, and they’re the ones that go crazy.
However, it would take ten thousand overwrought mama bats dumping in the same place at once to generate the President of the United States.
Confirming that housework is more violent exercise than cricket, I strained my back mopping the ground floor at Rubato Towers. I blame the communal mop, which is the wrong size for me. After just a few swabs I felt as if I had batted for 20 overs (a rare experience, I admit) with a child’s bat. But thanks to this interfering government, I cannot now go to the mop-makers in Savile Row to have one hand-tailored.
A fine romance with no clinches
A fine romance at 78.7 inches
We should be making each other feel desirous
But we’ve been kept apart by this blasted virus
A fine romance with no hugging
If this is romance I’d rather have a mugging
We’re spaced out like a couple of desert plants
Our life is a set of can’ts
This is a fine romance.
A fine romance, with no dances
And no close-ups but distant glances:
We used to kick and twirl like a Broadway chorus
But now we keep apart like two lovesick walrus.
A fine romance, my good fellow,
With no love songs unless we bellow.
A fleeting kiss is simply too great a chance,
When we’re locked in durance,
This is a fine romance.
I also bought some Arabic tuna. It is not dolphin-friendly. In fact, I could hear it mouthing “Who are you looking at, Flipper, you perv?” I am planning a book on Flipper and other famous performing dolphins of the past. It will be called Great Ex-Cetaceans. There will be a lot of sex in it because dolphins are sex-crazed, as much as sea urchins and with many more opportunities.
Boris Johnson is the David Brent of British politics. Idle, incompetent and over-promoted but he still expects to be loved as an entertainer.
“Life is just the bread in your sandwich of dreams.” From Keep Squeaking Through, uplifting homilies by Mortimer Mouse.
Praise for The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
“There is nothing to match this in world literature.”
Will Thisdo in Bookhypers Journal.
“Droll … Dashing… Definitive… Dazzling!”
Al Literative in The Ultimate Guide To Figures Of Speech
P. R. Handout in The Evening Puff
“Richard Heller is the Raffles of comic literature, the elegant burglar of wit and fantasy.”
A.J. Snide, author of But That’s Enough About Me
“A useful if sporadic review of recently published mollusc research”
Journal of Molluscan Studies
Richard Heller is extremely available
– For interview or profile in any medium
– For video, photographs and selfies
– To contribute to any literary festival, society or blog
– To present the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School and similar institutions
– As a guest speaker
– As a cocktail pianist (especially for exit music)
Contact email@example.com – and to ask for a review copy
In due course, Xerus Publishing will be glad to look at proposals for new comic fiction or new books about cricket. But not now. Any submissions will be treated with ignoral.
Unpublished letter to The Spectator in reply to Sir Christopher Meyer
Based on his experience of the 2000 election Sir Christopher Meyer recommends a policy of diplomatic silence to Boris Johnson if, as is now all too likely, the current Presidential election ends in chaos and recrimination.
In 2000, the incumbent President, Bill Clinton, was serving out his final term. In 2020, Donald Trump will remain President until 20 January 2021. Silence by Johnson would imply acquiescence in anything Trump and his supporters do in that time to remain in office. At the very least, all of America’s NATO partners should meet now to anticipate what he might attempt as Commander-in-chief.
Sir Christopher was right to mention Republican attempts at voter suppression. These have been in progress for years and affect not only the groups he mentions but also minority ethnic voters generally, young people and students, poor people and voters with disabilities. Millions of likely Democratic voters in Republican-controlled swing states have already been deprived of a vote altogether or a convenient means to exercise it. Our Foreign Office regularly exhorts other countries to hold fair elections and respect their results: will it apply the same standard to the United States?
Sir Christopher’s recommendation assumes that Trump’s opponents would ultimately accept the legitimacy of a second Trump administration elected after voter suppression on a minority of the popular vote. This cannot be guaranteed. Many Democratic supporters believe that both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton acquiesced too easily in the “stolen elections” of 2000 and 2016. A second Trump term gained from a fraudulent mandate will test to breaking point the loyalties of Americans in the armed services, law enforcement and public administration in general. It is likely to be met by a wave of civil disobedience. Communities and entire states may secede and the United States could descend into civil war. Civic morality may collapse as millions of Americans decide to conduct themselves in Trump’s way: tell any lie they choose, break any law they choose, do down any other American they choose.
No friend of the United States can be silent over such a prospect.
In my distant schooldays I read Jonathan Swift for English A Level. I read him again intermittently for pleasure and possible literary larceny, since he is of course out of copyright.
Then and now, I would sometimes have to mug up the politicians of Queen Anne and the Hanoverian succession, to make sense of Swift’s targets. Then and now, I would sometimes wonder if Swift thought them worth his talents. Did he think, why am I toiling to compose matchless prose to make these people immortal? Did he sometimes cast aside his quill, shout “Godolphin is a swillbelly ” and slope off to the Brothers’ Club for a little gargle with Bolingbroke and his mates?
If Swift were alive today, he would have felt that way about the present ministry. He would simply use the epithet software on his laptop to call Dominic Cummings a pilgarlic or Michael Gove an arsworm and then have a steamy Zoom session with Stella.
Swift would never have sent Boris Johnson to Lilliput because it would imply that there was something to diminish.
Trump is something else. Terrible but not trivial, and a proper target for time-travelling Swift. But it is monumentally hard to satirize Trump when he does such a brilliant job of doing it himself. Trump’s behaviour is calculated. He does mind how many people think he is a monster so long as they also think he is a giant, and so long as enough of them hate his enemies more than they hate him. One has to find a way to mock Trump without actually helping him. That task might even defeat the genius of Jonathan Swift. With a final despairing cry of “Trump is a slubberdegullion” he might give up and compose some additional Remarks on the Barrier Treaty.
How many people remember Seven Days In May? A best-selling political thriller of the early 60s, it was made into a movie. A liberal President (Frederic March) makes an arms treaty with Soviet Union. A popular charismatic patriotic general, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Burt Lancaster) is fiercely opposed. He forms a military cabal to seize the government. This is frustrated by a loyal Marine colonel (Kirk Douglas) with unnecessary but still lovely help from his ex-mistress (Ava Gardner). The President is saved and with him the American constitution and system of government.
The movie was resisted by the Pentagon but received secret help to gain access to authentic locations on the orders of President Kennedy, who did not trust his generals. Sadly, he never got to see the released version.
I have written a remake. The President is borderline deranged. He is coherent only when he is lying. He either cannot or will not read important documents. He ingests untested drugs. He is enraged by questioning, never mind contradiction. He encourages armed mobs to threaten opposing state governments. To help him win a second term, millions of likely voters for his challenger are being kept off the register for weird reasons or told to risk death if they do go out to vote. Of course, this will need careful exposition to make it believable.
I start with the same basic plot as the original. The charismatic patriotic general forms a military cabal to overthrow the President. The marine colonel is the only one who can stop it, with the help of his ex-mistress. But I want another happy ending. So the marine colonel finds that the ex-mistress is still smoking hot. They rekindle their … (punches cliché button)… all right, torrid affair and forget the President. The military cabal takes over and provides a short sane administration which organizes a clean election.
I have sent the outline to the present chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark A Milley, to ask whom he would like to play him. Or better still, could he make it a fly-on-the-wall documentary?
My plans for a remake of Seven Days In May (see earlier), in which the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, saves the country from an election stolen by Donald Trump, are in development hell.
Instead we are forced to contemplate this real-life scenario. After an election in which tens of millions of likely Democrat voters are denied a vote, Trump nonetheless loses both in the popular vote and the Electoral College. However, he refuses to concede. By a mixture of legal challenges and outright intimidation, his supporters prevent the authorities in several key Democratic states from certifying their election returns. Joe Biden is thus denied the requisite majority in the Electoral College. The election is thrown to the House of Representatives, but not to the full (Democrat) House but to a delegation of one representative per state, regardless of population. A majority of these fifty people choose as President – Donald Trump.
The methods now being used to exclude likely Democrats (especially black, Hispanic, minority-ethnic, low-income, students, disabled people) from the ballot are so blatant as to have embarrassed Trump’s friend and advisor, Vladimir Putin. (I made that up, but only a little.) The familiar method of denying them a convenient polling station, especially one adapted for disabled people, has become even more effective because of the virus. In state after state it is a long and expensive process for them to get a postal ballot instead – and if they do get one Trump has threatened to bankrupt the Post Office so that they cannot use it. Familiar identity documents, especially driving licenses, are suddenly made useless as identity for likely Democrats. They are being disqualified for felonies they never knew they had committed, and made to prove that they are not another person of the same name (or even sometimes a different name. I challenge any British voter to prove that he or she is not registered elsewhere as Lord Buckethead.) Korean-American voters have been asked to sign their names – in Korean, and disqualified if they make a mistake. If, in spite of all this, likely Democrats succeed in getting to a polling station with the expectation of being allowed to vote, they are likely to face Trump supporters mounting ad hoc challenges (on those who look easiest to intimidate.)
I have a proposal for any Americans who are unreasonably prevented from voting. I think it would be very popular, although unfortunately it would be too late to prevent a stolen election. They should withhold their Federal income tax for the next four years. I have a slogan for this protest: no taxation without representation.
Of course, that is not original. But it is out of copyright. Tax rebellions are a hallowed American tradition, and this one might escalate into a second American revolution. Whole communities and counties might withhold their Federal tax from a cheating Chief Executive. Even whole states. Through the Federal budget, ten states (nearly all Democratic) subsidize the other forty. Some of these Blue Democratic states might say to the Red Republican ones: “OK, you gave us this asshole as President, you can pay for him.”
In a second Trump administration based on force and fraud, public morality may collapse in the United States, as more and more Americans decide that they too will do things the Trump way: tell any lie they choose, break any law they choose, do down any other American they choose. If that happens, I will not drive a car in Trump’s United States.
The Virus does not know or care whether people are protesting in a good cause: it is dangerous and anti-social to hold any kind of mass demonstration in these times. Indeed, if the Virus has any political agenda it is as a reactionary and a racist, since it is more likely to kill poor people than rich and (apparently) BAME people rather than white. Why help it?
So here’s an alternative form of protest which could be done massively but also distantly. For alliterative reasons alone I’ll focus it on Trump and call it the Donald Dirge.
At a given moment, people would play, sing, or chant one chosen minor chord – against Trump. E Flat Minor should be in most people’s range. They could play it together (the biggest loudest chord ever played) or in relay as people pick up the chord from each other, making the longest chord in history. Famous performers in all musical genres might lead this event.
Originally, I thought this might take place when Trump is formally renominated on August 27. But that now seems too late, and we should make an earlier musical Date with Donald (didn’t want to call it D-Day, which should be reserved for those remembered on June 6.) At twelve noon on the chosen Date, people would perform the Donald Dirge. If this were a global event, the Donald Dirge could be passed from east to west to hit twelve noon in each time zone. If successful, it could become the Daily Donald Dirge.
Of course there might be some musical retaliation from Trump supporters. But I have to believe that in a contest among the world’s musicians Trump would go down to a landslide defeat.
This form of protest need not and should not be confined to Trump. Putin should get a dirge too in a different key, and conventional Western tuning would allow for ten other tyrannical targets. There might be more appropriate local musical dirges for Mr Xi, the Paramount Brute in China, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
It would be too flattering to allot a musical chord to the Clown Prince of Britain, Boris Johnson. A mass issue of kazoos is quite enough for him.
Some months ago, I had a few other ideas to contribute Trump’s downfall. In these times some seem too mild, but I set them all down in case they are of value to anyone campaigning against him. Each may be used freely and without acknowledgement.
One: a passage on Trump and the epidemic. “The plague needed calm, honest, diligent leadership. Instead we got Donald Trump, a frightened, hollow man who has been found out, who can no longer be protected by his bodyguard of lies, a Commander-in-Chief who cannot even command himself, let alone preserve and protect the United States.”
Two: invite anti-Trump citizens in local communities across the United States to apply formally to re-name a local eyesore or black spot after Donald Trump. Especially one showing the impact of his administration’s policies. So a depressed main street, with boarded-up stores and businesses, would become TRUMP STREET. Polluted waterways would become TRUMP RIVER or LAKE TRUMP. Ruined landscapes would become TRUMP HILL or TRUMP FLATS. A big waste dump would of course be TRUMP TOWER. Such efforts would mobilize and connect anti-Trump voters. Even if the re-naming proposals fail, the names might stick. Each one would generate a colorful picture story for local and national media, and give anti-Trump speakers a backdrop for campaign appearances, even if these have to be virtual in a lockdown campaign.
Even if this scheme fails to gain traction, TRUMP STREET could be a resonant theme in campaign oratory. Speakers might appeal to the people living on Trump Street (through no fault of their own) who saw nothing from Trump’s four years, maybe families working three or four low-wage jobs barely able to make ends meet, living on top of each other in too small a space, living constantly on the edge of disaster (a health emergency, the loss of a day’s or night’s work, the need for home or car repairs), people who have had to abandon their ambitions or even their leisure recreations, people who are never going to be able to stay at a Trump resort…
Of course millions of people on TRUMP STREET have lost what little they had, and have little hope that a re-elected Trump will give it back to them.
To such audiences speakers might ask “Has Trump made America great for you?” although as with any rhetorical question, they need to be very certain of the response!
Three: Another effective image for campaign speeches. Donald Trump as a figure everyone knows. “You go out for a quiet drink or something to eat or to watch a ball game, or take your family out to have some quality time together, and there is this loudmouth idiot who wrecks it for you. He lives in a world of his own, he talks high-volume non-stop garbage about anything, especially himself and how wonderful he is, and he never lets up. Everyone’s met this guy. You’re about to take a long airplane flight or bus trip and he’s in the line, and you think ‘Please don’t let this guy sit next to me.’ That’s Donald Trump. He’s been yammering in your ear non-stop since 2014. Do you want to hear him yammering for the next four years?”
“Donald Trump has no nadirs. You think he cannot get any worse, but he never disappoints.”
“If only the election were a game of bridge. America’s best bid: One No-Trump. Strong.”