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Not with a bang but a tweet. Donald Trump and the Jonah ending.

4 Jonah and the Gourd

“Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

As concession speeches go, it’s not great. But it’s the closest thing to a concession speech imaginable from Trump. I suspect he’ll go rather quiet for a while. He’ll spend even more time playing golf. Meanwhile, the detailed work of transition will be done by others.

So no coup. No mass resistance to any coup. No Article 25. No federal marshals kicking down the door to drag him from a white-knuckled grip on the Oval Office desk, blinking into the light of reality.

From a narrative point of view, this tweet is a profoundly unsatisfying end to the Trump presidency. Bathos triumphs over dramaturgy.

I don’t know whether Trump will attend the Biden inauguration – but it really doesn’t matter. At some point on or before January 20th, Donald Trump will slip out of the White House and never return.

The Trump administration will now share information with the incoming Biden team. There will be a fluid if unceremonious transfer of power. There will be no sinister power vacuum.

I am reminded of Jonah in Nineveh, preaching up fire and brimstone, and then getting all depressed when the apocalypse is averted. I get Jonah. You find yourself on a particular narrative trajectory that appears to demand a particular version of closure. You promised devastation and the devastation didn’t come.

But what is true for Jonah is true for all of us who have found Trump and all he stands for so loathsome all these years. The fact is that bathos saves lives. This sort of bland diminuendo is no way to end a tragedy but it’s the perfect way to prevent unnecessary deaths, to diffuse violence, and organise continuity of Covid response.

The longer problem, of course, is that Trump will never admit that he authentically lost the 2020 election, and millions will believe his MASSIVE FRAUD allegations because they will be from him and be in UPPER CASE. The issue of reconciling a hefty chunk of the US electorate to the legitimacy of their own government will remain. Domestic terrorism will continue to be a problem. Crazy militias will continue to remain a problem.

But they are definitely Biden’s problems now, and Biden is, demonstrably, not crazy. The Biden presidency will be flawed, sometimes clumsy, and often wrong – but their will be a precious dullness to its worst moments – and within the dullness there is the possibility of life.

What I got wrong about the US election.

Of course, I got a lot of things wrong. So did others. It is not true incidentally that all the pollsters were wrong. Biden looks like emerging with a 4% lead in the popular vote – which is in line with what some polls were suggesting on the eve of the election. (There are a surprising number of votes uncounted in New York which will eventually be counted overwhelmingly for Biden). It is likely, it must be admitted, that there were more “shy” Trump voters than many pollsters thought. It is also likely that some of Trump’s vigorous campaigning in the final days before the election (though these events infected thousands and killed hundreds) may have paid dividends – which the polls were to slow to register. The mid-point projections were off – but the eventual result was not beyond the scope of intelligent pollsters’ range of outcomes.

Texas was probably always out of reach. The effect of targeted anti-socialist/communist rhetoric among Florida’s Cuban American community may have been very influential.

The main thing I speculated (only speculated, mind), that isn’t going to happen, was the idea of Pence organising an Article 25 push once Trump refused to concede. That way, Pence could be president for a few weeks and look like a reasonable political figure, thereby decontaminating his legacy from Trump’s.

This speculative scenario depended on Trump losing by a larger margin than he actually did. Trump’s loss is decisive but not overwhelming. Trump’s loss is larger than any rational margin of error but not larger than any extreme margin of paranoia. Mind you, I am now no longer sure whether even if Biden had won by a landslide – a Johnson 64 or a Reagan 84 landslide – that this denialism would have been significantly diffused.

As things stand, Trump’s grip on the Republican party is still pretty impressive. Relatively few senior figures in the GOP are prepared to stand up and defend any plain statement of fact. In recent polls, most Republican voters have said they believe Biden’s election was fraudulent. That’s tens of millions of people. Pence is not ready to alienate those people.

Biden will become President in January. There will be no orderly, polite, or ceremonial period of transition. Trump will probably not be dragged from the Oval Office. He will probably leave to play golf some time just before Christmas and not come back. Trump will not attend the Biden inauguration. He will continue to repeat the lie that he won the 2020 election for the rest of his life – and he will continue to be believed. And senior figures in the Republican party will be too frightened of the size and the passion of Trump’s fanbase to challenge this lie.

For the next year or so, Republicans will be split between those who continue to acknowledge the divine will and infallible rightness of Trump, and the heretics who try to foresee and inhabit a political landscape beyond the decaying personality of Donald J. Trump. For the next six months at least, the heretics will be in a minority.

The republican senatorial candidates in Georgia need to be interrogated on this issue relentlessly between now and January. “Do you think the presidential election was fair?” “Do you think that Joseph Biden is the president elect?” “Don’t you think that senatorial candidates need to affirm their respect for the US political process?” They are going to have to choose between alienating the Republican base and alienating sane mainstream voters who respect constitutional norms. They should be forced to make that choice.

“Was ever woman in this humour wooed?” Age of Kings, Episode 14, Reviewed.

An Age of Kings: 'bad is the world' | SCREEN PLAYS

We are in Paul Daneman’s hands now. He will take us home. For now we’re into Richard III, a play to be covered in the course of two episodes.

There is no greater victory won by Richard than his victory over the grieving Lady Anne. His wooing of Anne is Richard’s Agincourt – an impossible battle fought against impossible odds. He even puts his life on the line as he fights it, perhaps more dramatically than Henry V does.

Wooing Lady Anne (Jill Dixon) represents the supreme rhetorical challenge. Richard is ugly, generally reviled, and is understood to have murdered both her husband and her father in law, yet Richard talks her into a receptive frame of mind even while the bodies of his victims are still in the room. When she goes, Richard falls about in a state of honest self applause.

We love Richard for his quickness and his frankness – for his lack of hypocrisy – at least when he’s talking to us. You have to admire Paul Baneman under the circumstances. He was taking on this television role just a few years after Olivier had developed perhaps the most famous and definitive representations of any Shakespearean character, ever (discuss). Olivier’s version was soon committed to film and posterity. All impersonations of Richard III are impersonations of Olivier playing Richard III. Note Peter Sellers impersonating Lawrence Olivier playing Richard III singing “Hard Day’s Night”. Look up Peter Cook in the very first episode of Blackadder.

Daneman’s Richard does not employ Olivier’s arch cadencings. Daneman is far more conversational, and smiles a great deal more. He resembles Henry V in that he continually protests that he’s not a courtier despite being a consummate courtier. Of course, Henry V is a far more successfully Machiavellian ruler than Richard – a Cesare Borgia cut off before his time. Richard, on the other hand, knows how to win power without thinking ahead how to preserve it.

As Edward IV dies, Julian Glover’s prematurely exhausted monarch develops a kind of pathetic naivety as he begs his warring factions to reconcile. Perhaps the only dramatically weak moment in the entire episode occurs with the collective lurch forward in response to the announcement that Clarence is dead.

The only thing that can really bring the factions together, of course, is the opportunity to taunt Margaret of Anjou (Mary Morris), somehow still alive and tottering about – the prophetess whom nothing can harm because everything has already harmed her. Kill her if you like – you’d be doing her a favour. Which is why nobody does.

Patrick Garland as Clarence (incidentally) wins the prize for the best extreme close up acting in this episode as he describes his hideous dream of drowning and damnation. It has always been difficult to imagine this Clarence as older than his brother Gloucester incidentally. He seems little more than a child himself, and perhaps the effectiveness of the scene is weakened by the sense that he doesn’t look as though he could have lived long enough to have committed all the crimes that are ascribed to him.

The two boys managed to perform the roles of little Edward and little Richard without my wanting to smother them myself – a rare achievement. Their own uncle Richard smiles indulgently at them as they go to bed and the closing titles scroll before snuffing out a candle.

I think we get the point.

I have some thoughts about other episodes in this series.

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Episode Five

Episode Six

Episode Seven

Episode Eight

Episode Nine

Episode Ten:

Episode Eleven:

Episode Twelve:

Episode Thirteen:

Save Me Time. The Life and Times of Liam Theo Cassidy Brunstrom. For World Prematurity Day.

Reposting for World Prematurity Day.



Save Me Time


The Life and Times of Liam Theodore Cassidy Brunstrom

Part 1

This is something that started to happen to us, exactly nine years ago.


There are few things more enjoyable than seeing university professors acting in demonstrably foolish ways, than observing academics lacking the very rudiments of what is strangely known as “common sense”. It’s a necessary compensatory satisfaction, founded on paradoxes that are occasionally vindicated if not by direct experience then by comforting anecdotal evidence. The story of the Harvard law professor with two PhDs who fell for one of those West African internet investment scams so fresh in everyone’s memory, may be apocryphal, but has been widely quoted and will continue to be enjoyed and circulated for years to come. Our own “foolishness”, that of Tanya and myself, can be explained and even excused, but the fact remains that we neglected to consider…

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Had Enough of Silly Love Songs? The Fortieth Anniversary of “Double Fantasy”.

Double Fantasy - Wikipedia

No album has ever carried as much circumstantial baggage as Double Fantasy, released OTD in 1980. I still don’t know if it’s any good or not.

A few years ago, I was visiting a Beatles exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan and I was arrested by this album sleeve. You see, it was the actual album, the very thing that John Lennon politely signed for Mark Chapman a few hours before the latter blew him away. Hard not to shiver a bit (partly because I was also just a few metres away from the car that Kennedy was shot in and the chair that Lincoln was sitting in at Ford’s Theatre).

There is no review of this album that is more trite, obvious, and authentic than… “he sounded quite happy and then he got whacked.” Objectivity wilts, and then rears its dogged pretended head again.

The album was originally released to lukewarm reviews from critics who found it all rather cloying. Immediately after Lennon’s death, the album’s general reception was (understandably) transformed and it was played over and over again in a spirit of unwholesome reverence.

Trying to make a (tedious) saint and a martyr out of Lennon has always been an fatal exercise in inverted pyramid building. Before very long, a new critical orthodoxy emerged by way of predictable reaction. The new orthodoxy states that the original reviewers of the album were quite right to find it cheesy and annoying and that those who subsequently praised it had been unable to recognise that their critical faculties had been smudged by grief. It then became the done thing to parade your critical integrity by pointing out how much you disliked this album, showing off how one’s interpretative acumen can rise above the contamination of extraneous sentiment.

John Peel was particularly fond of doing this. Though he’d always been on very friendly terms with Lennon, Peel was unable to participate in any conversation involving any aspect of Lennon’s legacy without religiously pointing out “how dreadful Double Fantasy was”.

He sounded quite happy, but then he got whacked. I for one can’t really get past that. I can’t begin to pretend that I occupy any lofty pinnacle of objectivity with this album that involves me somehow forgetting the circumstance of Lennon’s murder.

But I’ve been listening to it again, notwithstanding. The album is the product of a sudden burst of song-writing associated with a memorable sailing trip to Bermuda – a flood of composition perhaps comparable with Rishikesh (in quantity if not quality). All those who met him in the autumn of 1980 remarked on how excited he seemed to be back in the recording studio. Paul McCartney claims that during his last (birthday) phone call with Lennon, Lennon only half-jokingly exclaimed that “this housewife wants a career”. The state of domestic bliss enjoyed by Lennon between 1975 and 1980 is contested. His state of excitement about returning to music in 1980 is not.

How does the album hold up? Well, it’s a very middle aged album. It’s by middle aged people for middle aged people, and it’s about being middle aged. Self disclosure – I am, by any definition, middle aged.

1.(Just Like) Starting OverJohn Lennon3:56
2.Kiss Kiss KissYoko Ono2:42
3.Cleanup TimeLennon2:58
4.Give Me SomethingOno1:35
5.I’m Losing YouLennon3:57
6.I’m Moving OnOno2:20
7.Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)Lennon4:02
1.Watching the WheelsLennon4:00
2.“Yes, I’m Your Angel”Ono3:08
4.“Beautiful Boys”Ono2:55
5.“Dear Yoko”Lennon2:34
6.Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves HimOno4:02
7.“Hard Times Are Over”Ono3:20

In fact, although John and Yoko have the same number of song on this album – John “wins”, reassuringly, on actual minutes.

It’s worth considering the Yoko songs first. John songs and Yoko songs were sequenced alternately so as to prevent people from only listening to one side of the vinyl LP. It’s also worth pointing out that some of Yoko’s songs are rather short. “Kiss Kiss Kiss” and “Give Me Something” feel like strategic distractions rather than actual songs. The sequencing of titles from John’s “I’m Losing You” to Yoko’s “I’m Moving On” feels like a very revealing error, expressive of a certain asymmetry of need and affection. Then there’s “Yes, I’m your Angel” – dance-band “granny music” if ever I heard it. (It’s apparently OK if Yoko does it.) Amid its obtrusive “tra la las” there’s the skeleton of a song that seems heavily derivative of “Makin’ Whoopee”. File under “lawsuits that nobody will ever bother with”. I am, meanwhile, almost hypnotised by the focused unheimlich showcased by Yoko Ono’s “Beautiful Boys” – a lullaby to Sean that seems guaranteed to give any child night terrors. Yoko Ono coolly chanting “don’t be afraid to go to Hell and back” is not the last thing I would want any kid of mine to hear just before I switch off the light. “Every Man has a Woman who Loves Him” is also available as a John Lennon song in a version where John’s backing vocals are isolated and dragged to centre stage. Its two-tone stylings remind me of a one of the more sinister songs of Madness – a band that Lennon himself name-checked when affirming limited solidarity with so-called “new wave” music. I swear there’s more than a hint of “Night Train to Cairo” in “Every Man…” The gospel swayalong finale of “Hard Times Are Over (For a While)” would do better if the choir was amplified considerably.

There is incidentally a “Double Fantasy 2010 – Stripped” album which amplifies John Lennon’s vocals throughout. This release is a rather decorous and half-hearted PG effort at musical striptease, it must be said. There is no hidden acoustic album in these sessions to be excavated, really.

Be it noted though, that two of the most substantial Yoko songs are also rather Johnnish.

There are seven John songs on Double Fantasy, none of which are even half bad, though a few of which might be regarded as tiresome on the wrong day. On a good day they are delicious. The gift of melody has always seemed to me to be one of the more astonishing accomplishments on earth. To craft a song that enjoys mnemonic efficacy, that will linger in the heads of others (for good or ill) appears to me an almost superhuman accomplishment. And John Lennon, just before his death, still had this capacity. Indeed, you’d have to say that his tunes are better than his words on this album.

“Just Like Starting Over” is what John himself referred to as his “Roy Orbison” number. Orbison had toured with The Beatles, all of whom had found themselves fascinated by the ethereal reverberances of that extraordinary voice. It’s slightly lumbering and self-conscious but effective on its own terms. Lennon is starting over as a musician it seems and is fumbling to find his feet. In typical Lennon fashion, he wants us to see him fumbling a bit. “Woman” teeters on the brink of a sickly chasm of bad taste – yet again John is describing a state of supposedly happy dependency that can feel profoundly alienating when you’re in the wrong mood. I’m not always in the wrong mood, however, and there are times when I hear this song and he jumps a semitone during the final chorus that I feel that I am swimming in something authentically lovely. “Clean Up Time” – Lennon’s least memorable song on the playlist, nonetheless succeeds as a production. It’s perhaps the most New York track on the album.

“Watching the Wheels” has always been a favourite of mine. Nobody ever rationalised indolence better than John Lennon and this song perhaps deserves to be listened to as part of a soporific triptych made up with “I’m only sleeping” and “I’m So Tired”. It’s a happier, less experimental song than those other two. It’s a better tune than it is a lyric though. The sentiment is slightly subverted by the fact that you can’t help thinking “… but you’re not watching the wheels any more – you’re back in the studio again – you’re working – you’re trying to get a record into the hit parade…” It is possible to sing about silence – but the emotional logic of the lyric doesn’t quite work.

“I’m Losing You” is a song for people who really don’t like Double Fantasy at all. If you are being all cool and snooty and middle-aged domesticity averse, then you’ll be saying that “I’m Losing You” is the real Lennon – desperate, paranoid, confused. It would seem more naturally at home on Walls and Bridges – that rather lush album full of self-indulgent musings suspended between Yoko Ono and May Pang. It packs a certain emotional punch and if it’s not as good as “Jealous Guy”, it’s not dissimilar. In terms of its driving monomania, it’s part of a Lennon legacy that includes “Cold Turkey”. Yet another Lennon song about dependency.

“Beautiful Boy” is a calypso lullaby that’s the product of Lennon’s increasing fascination with all influences Caribbean in the 1970s. I like to think that John crept in to sing “Beautiful Boy” to calm Sean down after Yoko had traumatised the little lad with “Beautiful Boys”. Again, so much of the experience of this song is contextually determined. It’s impossible not to choke up a bit when John declares that he can’t wait to see Sean come of age. It’s very moving, but I’m not sure how it communicates its experience to anyone who hasn’t shared it. I dimly remember finding it very very saccharine indeed – but that was before I had the experience of rocking my own baby boy to sleep in my own arms. It reminds me of precious parental experiences, but it doesn’t seem to have the power to communicate or advertise such experiences to people who don’t already recognise them.

In fact, “Beautiful Boy” is precisely the sort of song that demonstrates how Double Fantasy confounds the fantasy of objective criticism. The I.A. Richards in me commits harakiri.

“Dear Yoko” is the equal of the not dissimilar “Oh Yoko” from the Imagine album. Upbeat, likeable – it transforms potentially sinister neediness into something rather engaging. Rather than elongating an emotion, it both accelerates and contracts it. It has a faux slap-dash quality – as though John has only three minutes left in the studio before he’s going to be kicked out.

Critics resented this album because it’s all about John and Yoko and not really about anyone else. Indeed, for much of the 1970s, John Lennon was pretty solipsistic as an artist (though arguably less so than someone like Eminem and other rappers of the “aren’t I famous and controversial” school). Mind Games offered the last fading gasp of Lennon’s attempts to politically engage with a wider world. Of course, Plastic Ono Band, that critically revered proto-punk classic – is a remarkably self-involved album – shedding all worldly allegiances with its declaration that nothing is real except himself and maybe Yoko. The difference of course, is that back in 1970, Lennon was reeling from primal scream therapy and was downright angry and miserable. Yay!

Does this mean that we can only respect a highly personal album if that album expresses pain. Is pain more always more authentic than contentment? Is the lyrical expression of pain always more resonant and trustworthy than calm assertions of well-being? Are cheerful melodic songs like “Woman”, “Watching the Wheels” and “Dear Yoko” necessarily less truthful and powerful than haunted songs like “Isolation”, “God” and “I Found Out”? Answering questions like this would have larger and more important implications than any supposed “fair” account of this disconcertingly sunny forty year old album.

Confessions of a Ludicrous Exercise Guru…

ProForm 325 CSX+ Recumbent Bike | Home Gym Delivery | Home Gym Equipment |  Fitness | Elverys | Elverys Site

This year we did not spend money on flights. Obviously. So we bought an exercise bike instead. Less obviously.

We were dismayed to see, when it arrived that some considerable assembly was required. The instruction tome looked especially daunting and it was a week before Gabe and I decided to take on the construction work. The effort of putting this complex behemoth together and dragging it into position burned not a few calories, I can tell you.

But then we started to play with it. In fact we all use it on a regular basis, myself most of all.

And here’s the thing – I have devoted myself to 20-25 minutes of vigorous exercise every day for the past 100 days. This is not something I’ve managed to accomplish since I was… born.

Be assured, this has resulted in no visible changes. I still look like the thing that I am – a flabby middle-aged man with a sedentary lifestyle. However, I have discovered that time to takes me to cycle a predetermined distance has steadily shrunk over the past twenty odd weeks.

Why post such tedious stuff? Well, it occurs to me that there’s a case that others might be inspired to take up some kind of exercise if I make this confession. I will not say “if I can do it – so can you!” – a phrase that is positively cruel in its lack of empathy. I have no conception of the myriad of circumstantial factors that promote or inhibit the physical aspirations of others and to declare that my experience is directly applicable to anyone else’s would be arrogant and stupid.

HOWEVER… if I can actually do this, there MUST be SOME other people who can exercise on a regular basis. You see, it’s difficult to communicate how lazy I really am – to map the sheer extent of my deep-rooted aversion to physical toil. My brain quickly and efficiently interprets most forms of actual work as pain and then does everything it can to protect my body from having to endure it. I am organized, well organized, to be indolent.

So if it is possible for someone as addicted to sloth as I am to climb on an exercise bike and pound away on it for a portion of every single day, then this possibility must exist for others.

And the rewards? A semblance of control in a world out of control and the ability to fall asleep quicker. That’ll do for now.

Fewer superlatives in the post-Trump world, please.

The Greatest Nation on Earth - America Men's Premium T-Shirt | Spreadshirt

Trump spoke continuously in superlatives. It’s part of why he was so dull. Everything he did was “the greatest”. And if something wasn’t the greatest it was “the worst”. Trump constantly whined that he was being treated “worse” than any President ever, including the four who were assassinated.

“Greatest” is a colourless word. It doesn’t describe anything – other than a kind of ego weakness that can only measure self esteem in terms of the relative weakness of others. Those who use it tend to see the world according to a crude quantitative scale, devoid of qualitative content.

It’s not just Trump of course. I recently heard a UK minister describe British farmers as “the best in the world”.

Really? How was that determined? Was there an agricultural Olympics that I was unaware of? How do they possibly score it? What sort of metrics can possibly compare farming rice in Thailand with farming sugar beet in Norfolk?

Or could it just be that the minister feels that a fairly fragile and dim UK electorate needs to be constantly placated with empty superlatives. A feature of exceptionalism is its blandness. The unexceptionalism of exceptionalism is very striking.

“The best is the enemy of the good” is often attributed to Voltaire (to whom anything can be quoted because his works are so voluminous that checking him is a prohibitive nightmare). In fact, Voltaire appears to be quoting an Italian proverb –  “Il meglio è l’inimico del bene”. In any case, the danger of superlatives is something people have been aware of for a long time.

The greatest can be the enemy of the good in a variety of ways. It’s certainly a way of suffocating critical thought. The notion that one’s own country is always “the greatest” in the world and that it is unpatriotic to suggest otherwise prevents nations, societies – even individuals from being all that they could be. In the 1790s, under William Pitt, it was pretty much illegal to argue that Britain didn’t enjoy the bestest of all possible constitutions. Recently, Donald Trump was planning to have the doctrine of USA’s unique and exceptional greatness taught in all American schools. It’s a recipe for uncritical and docile acceptance of a particular way of doing things.

Voltaire did of course satirise Leibniz in the shape of Pangloss with his dreary refrain that we all live “in the best of all possible worlds”. But nationalistic Panglossianism is perhaps even worse. It is understandable difficult to imagine possible better worlds, but unforgiveable not to notice other proximate and real better countries.

Projecting the end of shrill nativism, together with our slow collective rescue from Covid 19 based on shared international good practice, ought to help us find a way beyond the kind of lethally tedious chauvinism that has dominated the past few years. A world in which everyone isn’t claiming to be “the greatest” all the time will not only be a safer world – it will be a more ambitious and interesting one.

Changing my mind again… Trump being dragged from the White House would only help him.

Ryan Knight 🌹 on Twitter: "Donald Trump arrested and handcuffed.  #Happiest5WordSentence… "

I keep forgetting that Trump is Jesus. I keep forgetting how many “Christianists” regard this disgusting and delusional race-baiting serial offender as the living expression of God’s Will on Earth. Nobody else does whiny fragile entitlement like Trump – and whiny fragile entitlement is precisely what “Christianism” is all about.

For Trump to be dragged out of the Oval Office by Federal Marshals, might look like humiliation to the likes of you or I, but to his rock solid base, it would merely consolidate his martyrdom. This man, who has barely known a day’s deprivation (or even deferred gratification) in his entire long life, will be seen the supreme victim – “suffering” at the hands of a hostile occupying force.

The cult of Trump is only partly about always being a “winner”. It’s also about always being a victim. Within the suffocatingly contracted sphere that is Trump’s vocabulary, the bleat of unfairness is as dominant as the bugle of self aggrandisement. The basis of twenty first century nativism is a form of entitlement that expresses itself primarily in terms of the perceived right to continually whine and complain. Trump was not a “feelgood” president. He was a feel good about feeling bad president.

The Republican Party will assuredly split between those who remain loyal to the cult of Trump, and the heretics, the RINOs, the ones who seek a party based on policies rather than feudal devotion to a discredited leader. The heretics will continue to be a minority for a long time.

Trump will not graciously concede, but he may be prodded to say something that acknowledges reality, some time in the next week or so. And even this forced acknowledgement will be rescinded by Trump as soon as he rebuilds his media career, somewhere like Newsmax (Fox is currently sitting on the Trumpian Heretic Step for having accidentally reported inconvenient facts during the election campaign.) On such a network, Trump will continue the narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him by sinister Deep State forces.

And millions of Americans will believe him. Millions believe, right now, that there was “massive voter fraud” in 2020 and that the Biden administration is therefore criminal and illegitimate. A very hefty percentage of those millions have guns. The potential for domestic terrorism is immense.

Seems to me that you’ve got to have a pretty deep rooted contempt for the nation whose flag you drape around yourself when you actually try to destabilise its central institutions just to gratify your own ego. But contempt for anyone and anything whose surname isn’t “Trump” is part of the dynastic creed.

Perhaps he will run in 2024 (assuming he is alive and out of prison) and perhaps he won’t. (His niece thinks he won’t.) But he will continue to define the Republican party for a few years and “Pro Trump” and “Post Trump” will ludicrously provide the specious structuration of the American Right.

True believers don’t need evidence of the MASSIVE FRAUD they amplify in upper case. Indeed, to believe without evidence is the highest form of belief. And the volume and traffic of lies creates its own self-sustaining form of “massiveness”, regardless of what slim pickings can be presented to any court of law.

Which just goes to show that you can’t reason with Trumpism. You can’t meet it half way. You can only outvote it. Again.


World War 1 Memorials | War monument, War memorial, Vimy

Driving to the shops the other day, I heard an interview on the radio with one Colin Friel, co-founder of an Irish company involved in the testing of Covid-19 vaccines.

He said the following things…

“Next month the Pfizer vaccine’s coming, the month after that the Oxford one…

“Every month between now and next summer you’re going to have another vaccine (being released), and Covid will be a long-distant memory by next summer….

“And we’re absolutely convinced now that it’ll be treated like the flu; you’ll take your annual flu jab and take your annual Covid jab…

“So just get through the next six months…get to the summer and we’ll be in clear blue water…”

I hope he’s right about all but one of these statements. Fortunately, the comment I least want him to be right about is the comment I’m sure he’s wrong about. I do not want COVID 19 to be a “distant memory” by the summer of 2021. I want it to be understood as a proximate threat and a persistent danger. For sure, I want to see busy pubs and crowded beaches and cheering spectators. But the memory of COVID must be kept alive.

The economic and political pressure to “get back to normal” will be enormous. And when future pandemics start to simmer, the first instinct of many politicians around the world will be problem deflation if not outright denial. Every political leader wants to declare their nation “open for business”. What will be the relationship in future between the WHO and nation states? In the case of a nation like China, WHO officials only get to see what an authoritarian regime wants them to see. International responses to pandemic remain ham-strung by the extent to which national governments choose to play ball.

When I was a boy, there were still plenty of World War One veterans, hale, articulate, and ambulant. These urgent octogenarians would put on their medals and march, but their sense of commemoration was frequently informed by a “never again” vibe. Remembrance Sunday, as I remember it, belonged more to these veterans than to any others. Now they’ve all gone, and with them, a living link to an overwhelming memory of the immense wrongness of all warfare, the sheer scale of avoidable tragedy involved.

The “soldiers” in the war against COVID have been very varied – stretching from healthcare workers in chaotic wards, sacrificing their own lives to save others – to ordinary people who do nothing more (or less) than curtailing their own social lives and encouraging others to do likewise.

On an immediate human level, a COVID commemoration day will legitimate grief. When the world “gets back to normal” the bereaved feel that they are walking in slow motion – swimming through treacle – left behind. And when so many people have been bereaved for the same reason, then a day of commemoration reminds them that they are not alone, that there are countless others who can nod their heads without too much having to be painfully explained.

There have been a number of conflicts and disasters that have killed more people than COVID 19 – some of which are almost completely forgotten, although no “World War” has impacted on as many nations as the current pandemic. It can happen again, and it will do, unless memories are shared and experiences are compared. Can we learn that nobody is safe unless everybody is safe? Can we learn that individual security demands international cooperation?

If we want to save lives in future, a day at least of sombre reflection, once a year, is not too much to ask. This will be a day for scientists, a day for political analysis, and a day for artists, musicians, actors, sculptors and poets. Because when we commemorate the war against COVID we’ll be commemorating a struggle that brought the sciences, the social sciences, and the arts together, a struggle that smudged disciplinary frontiers and demanded an understanding not just of how the human body functions but how the human mind functions.

If memory is what will save many of us from the next pandemic, then artists are front line essential workers.

Oh Moderately Happy Day! Trump will have gone… the ache has gone…!


The one thing that the prevalence of postal voting among Biden supporters did was ensure that Trump’s Götterdämmerung has lacked the sort of decisive cadencing that many of us were hoping for. Even though it should have been obvious to us yesterday that the maps of many states would turn red before they turned blue, a chest-tightening numbness took a hold of many of us, dreading the prospect of a world in which the “values” of Donald J, Trump might be “vindicated” for another four years.

This morning we know this can’t happen. Trump himself professes to be confused by the fact that the postal votes are overwhelmingly for Biden, despite having told his own supporters for weeks that postal voting is somehow contaminated and discreditable. Of course, Trump’s bizarre and self contradictory ramblings last night would be demonstrably Article 25 triggering were Trump’s cabinet and senior Republicans to be…

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