Rather telling juxtaposition of two entirely different stories on the CNN website this evening.
Tuesday, December 01, 2020
England completes a month of lockdown tonight. All but non-essential shops have been shut and all leisure activities suppressed. Tomorrow London moves into Tier-2 restrictions which in practice mean the opening up of High Streets but little social mixing allowed.
The news about vaccines against Covid-19 continues to be good and it now seems just a matter of time before the mass vaccination programme begins. Of course none of the vaccines is guaranteed 100% proof so we will all need to go on being careful but at least the infection rate should drop sharply and the pressure on the health services begin to lift. This cannot be before well into the New Year and it is going to be a very gloomy Christmas. Our own regular family gathering is cancelled; Zoom get-togethers are not a substitute for real face-to-face contact.
It is hard to convey the dullness of current existence. The risk of catching the virus, for us, is pretty low because we do not expose ourselves to any potential carriers. But the price of this safety is to eschew so much that we used to take for granted - travelling freely on the Tube, popping into shops, queueing for a coffee, pushing through the crowded turnstiles to savour the excitement of a football match, meeting people without that awful feeling of having stay well clear 'just in case'.
We do at least have the benefit of electronic entertainment in the form of internet, TV and radio but it is too easy to immerse oneself before a screen and try to tune the world out. It saps the motivation to do anything active. The irony that I am immersing myself in front of a screen in order to write and publish this column has not been unnoticed.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
The attempts of ex-President Trump to retain power in the US continue to boggle our minds. He not only lost the election but now appears to be losing his sanity as he pursues the chimera of overturning the vote by making claims of fraud. Not only that, he appears to have retained the services of the world's most ineffective lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, AKA the Melting Man, who has supervised more than 40 separate challenges to the votes in various swing states and lost them all. Even if he had won some, the recounts would do nothing to change the outcome.
The latest setback was in Pennsylvania where the words of the judge (deliciously, a Trump appointee) have been recorded thus:
“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote for the three-judge panel. The Guardian
But how did the judge and his colleagues reach their verdict and how did it play out in the other states where similar cases have been brought? Let us return to that courtroom that has been the battleground of so many classic legal cases in the past, the Case of the Rude Waiter and the Case of the Assault by Infant being two of my favourites.
Scene: A courtroom somewhere in a swing state. Huge flag in the corner, impassive gum-chewing marshals, excited crowd, you know the drill by now.
Clerk: All rise for his honor Judge D. Crockett.
Crockett: Alright, be seated. Now then, I believe that, once again, we are to hear a suit brought on behalf of the Republican Party about the recent Presidential election, even though all the others have been thrown for being too silly. Who's leading on this one?
Giuliani: Your honor, I wish...
Crockett: Oh, you again.
Crockett: Back again. With the same shtick as last time?
Giuliani: Er, may it please the court...
Crockett: At least you cleaned off that hair dye. Don't want that getting on my suit, thank you very much!
Giuliani: If it please the court, I appear for the appellants and my distinguished colleague, Mr Mason, for the defence.
Crockett: State your case, if you must, Mr Giuliani.
Giuliani: We allege massive fraud and conspiracy to subvert the election in favour of Mr Biden. sits down, beams at his assistant, and nods confidently to the reporters.
Crockett: Is that it?
Giuliani: reluctantly rising Er...what do you mean?
Crockett: Are you not going to call witnesses, supply us with affidavits and evidence of this major crime against American democracy?
Giuliani: Oh shit, do I have to?
Mason: rising Your honor, I move that the case be dismissed.
Giuliani: Oh, hell, come on now fellows, hear me out. I mean, there must have been fraud, our boy was a dead cert, he told everyone he was going to win, stands to reason he must have won really. I submit that it was totally unfair, loads more people voted for Biden, how the hell can my man expect to win if more people vote for someone else? And the sun was in our eyes and they were bigger than us and we were all a bit tired and I had lots of evidence, honest, I was up all night
forging compiling it, but the dog ate it and it got wet and the wind blew it away and I lost my satchel on the way here and now I've got a headache and my hair feels all sticky from that awful cheap dye and IT'S NOT FAIR!
Crockett: Mr Mason?
Mason: That sounds utterly convincing to me, your honor. I simply hadn't realised the strength of the arguments for the appellants. I withdraw my defence of this case and suggest that the entire US election be called in favour of Mr Trump forthwith.
Crockett: Well, if you're sure about that Mr Mason...
Mason: Just joshing, kids. April Fool!
Crockett: That's more like it. Case dismissed.
Footnote - Dec 2nd
US attorney-general Barr, hitherto a staunch ally of Trump, announced that the Justice Department had found no evidence of any fraud in the election. Mr Giuliani instantly replied that the A-G did not have the evidence that he (Melting Man) had. Mr G did not say what the evidence actually was, nor did he explain why he had not handed it over to the FBI or indeed to Mr Barr. Or to anyone competent to investigate. Should his "case" ever reach the Supreme Court and be rejected, he will presumably appeal to God and even then it seems pretty damn certain he won't have any actual evidence. But that won't stop him denouncing God as an asshole.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
I was delighted to read that some obscure politician in Texas was offering cash rewards for anyone coming forward with evidence of voter fraud in the recent Presidential election.
|Source: The Guardian|
Bearing in mind these people believe anything, provided they have read it on Facebook or Twitter, it has incentivised me to direct my staff to
make up report anything that they can imagine find out and thus top up the Ramblings Let's-Make-This-The-Best-Christmas-Ever fund.
Unfortunately, due to a mix-up between my own, well-respected, blog and the blog maintained by this unpleasant American, Ravings of a Rabid Republican, some of the "proofs" from his correspondents have mistakenly found their way into my inbox. I shall of course forward them on but here are a few just to give you a flavour of what he can expect.
From: M. Mouse, Wacky, TX
Sir, I saw with my own eyes two black persons of colour posting votes in a real genuine US Postal Service mailbox and I think they might have been voting for the Dems. Please send me as much money as you can spare. God bless you.
From: The Very Rev Jeb Delirious III, Carbuncle, TX
Sir, The Good Lord has commanded me in a vision to impart to you his glorious message of hope which is that the immediate transfer of cash to my church will surely save your immortal soul Amen
From: The Even-Realer Donald Trump, Hicksville, TX
Sir, I know the real facts about the fraud and the conspiracy but THEY are watching me the FBI and the Pope are behind it, plus the Jews and the Mexicans and that Canadian with the French name, I never trusted him, also my neighbour is one of THEM he don't wear a cowboy hat indoors and what kind of man does that, I'll tell you, a COMMIE that's who and make sure you burn this email or THEY will get you too, they listen through the telephone wires so rip them out and don't trust NO-ONE (apart from me, obviously, you can trust me sure enough, yes sirree.....
Sir, I am head of postal service in [insert name of town here] and on the night of [insert date] I witnessed goings on the like of which I never done seen before. Click link to enter your bank details and other personal information.
Sir, Send the money in used $10 and forward this email to 10 others and within a year GOOD FORTUNE will be yours, plus special offer: - two, yes two matching bracelets in real genuine plastic, offer must end Tuesday, hurry now while stocks last.
From: Agent Kropotkin, Moscow (in Russia, not the little township outside Dallas)
Comrade! Our plan to destabilize the US political system is working well. Meet me behind the dustbins at Joe's Diner on 14th St at midnight for your next set of instructions
* - I knew I'd hear from these guys again, one day
Saturday, November 07, 2020
from our correspondent in Karakorum, who has finally summoned up the courage to go back.
The gathering of the conclave of tribal leaders for the Mongolian people has produced a surprising rejection of President Genghis Khan by the unprecedented result of 698-0. The conclave, held in secrecy in a remote desert oasis, was expected to have thoroughly endorsed the incumbent on the grounds that failure so to do would render the families, friends and camels of the chiefs extinct. It is thought that the President was distracted by the promises of Chinese Emperor Bing to "look after him", was spending a little too much time in his various stately pleasure domes and had assumed that Vice-President Groat was keeping an eye on the chiefs.
The president has carefully considered the voting pattern revealed by the conclave and made the following remarks in the market place:
"I am delighted that the glorious Mongolian people have once more put their trust in me and I resolve to continue my brilliant and totally successful policies of slaughtering everyone, building a wall to keep out the Chinese, knocking down the wall so we can invade China, rebuilding it to ensure a fat contract to my son-in-law and declaring war on the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists and followers of Great Cthulhu plus the Christians if my Horde manages to get further west on the next expedition than the last one, which was a glorious success by the way and anyone who says they got wiped out by the Mamelukes will be strung up by the mamelukes, if you take my drift.
"I won this conclave fair and square, once you count the legal votes. Any vote against me is illegal and part of a conspiracy. The soothsayers told me I would win so how the hell could I be losing? Which I am not, I'm winning everything 110% because I'm so popular and those votes must be completely rigged and fake but anyway once we have a recount I know I'm gonna win big time, not that I didn't win big time the first time, I did, but next time I'm gonna win even bigger time.
"I've left a fantastic legacy, not that I'm about to leave office, but let me make it clear for the record books that we've razed cities and wiped out villages from here to Kiev, wherever in hell that is, and I've built more stately pleasure domes than anyone else in history, whatever that is.
"I wanna thank all those enlightened and progressive world leaders who have been my close friends during my presidency - Voivoide Vlad Dracula of Transylvania, King John of England, Ivan the Terrible of Muscovy and those fun-loving heart-rippers from the Aztec Empire. I think we can all learn a lot from them - I sure have.
"Now I want to outline some more of my plans for the next thirty years of my reign ...."
At this point, the audience, two goat-herders and a beggar, were seen to drift away toward the Water Gate and the president found himself addressing a camel, the contents of a dung-barrow and myself. As he still retained his razor-sharp scimitar and seemed to be fondling it lovingly, I recalled an urgent appointment with a seller of fermented yak butter and was forced to leave.
The Chinese ambassador was believed to have smiled inscrutably when informed of these events.
The Editor writes: This really should be the end of our long running series about the Scourge of the West. It all began four years ago with this piece and you can follow the series by selecting posts with the tag 'USA'