Near 500 words: Benjamin Franklin Takes On Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was a funny guy. If you’ve read Gulliver’s Travels, you know just how funny he is. Who else would have given us names we can’t pronounce? He could have made it much simpler to call a spade a spade. Or, in his case, a horse. Like Mr. Ed used to sing, “A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.” Instead he gave us Houyhnhnms.

And that wasn’t the only one that was utterly unpronounceable. There’s Brobdingnag,  Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan. If there’s ever been a word that’s harder to pronounce than Japan, I haven’t found it. And why use Lilliputian when munchkin is a perfectly fine word for short people?

After he published his Gulliver, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. When you’re a satirist, you end up trying to top yourself. Like Mark Twain couldn’t settle for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He had to go and write Pudd’nhead Wilson. Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal.”

You might say the word “modest” was a tongue-in-cheeker. Most of the Irish of his day lived in poverty and suffered from hunger. So Swift suggested the English ought to cook the Irish children and serve them as fricassee or ragout. The English may have found it funny but I don’t think the Irish did. I’m sure the Americans didn’t. For an obvious reason explained below.

Benny Franklin knew satire when he read it. His Poor Richard’s Almanac left Americans laughing all the way to Bunker Hill and back. When Benny read A Modest Proposal, he was livid. Instead of telling Swift to go fly a kite, he sent a letter.

That letter was recently discovered by archaeologists under the toilet of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Swift was the Dean of the Cathedral. For those of you who don’t know what a Dean is, he’s a head guy at an Anglican (Episcopalian) Cathedral.

Experts consider that Swift may have run out of toilet paper and Franklin’s letter was the closest thing at hand. Fortunately, for us, the letter fell through the cracks and left Swift without a thing to wipe his bottom with.

So here’s Benny Franklin’s letter:

“My dear Johnny:

I recently read A Modest Proposal. Needless to say, I was not happy with the text. Not happy at all.

This scheme of yours is totally immodest. What an unsettling proposition. Cooking Irish children in a fricassee or a ragout. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Then blame the suggestion on an American. And in London, of all places.

I ask you what American on God’s green earth would know what a fricassee or a ragout is. I don’t even know what a fricassee or a ragout is. And I’ve been to Boston and New York City and Philadelphia.

No, it sounds like a French suggestion to me. What with all their fancy eating. Any people who will eat snails will eat just about anything. Including the Irish.

Besides we Americans don’t have the time to go fricassee-ing and ragout-ing about. We’re way too busy with witches to hang, tea parties to organize, independence to declare, constitutions to write, cherry trees to chop down, apple trees to plant, slaves to free, destinies to manifest. And we’re still trying to finish off the leftovers from that first Thanksgiving dinner.

So please, pretty please with sugar and cream on it, don’t blame an American. If we’re going anywhere, it won’t be to London. We’ll be going west, thanks to Horace Greeley.

Sincerely,
Benny Franklin, Esq.”

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A guy doing a videocast

This guy is standing in his living room, talking to the camera for his Youtube video: “I’m here to tell you I can smoke wherever I please. It’s my constitutional right. And it’s in the ten commandments too. Where does the city get off telling me I can’t smoke where I want? Next thing I know they’ll tell me I can’t take a piss. Who do they think they are? I have the right to have lung cancer if I want to. Just like I have the right to have a heart attack. It’s my body, so stay the damn way out of what I do. I ain’t harming nobody. Oh, they say I am harming my body and I will die younger than I should. How do they think I got this far anyway? Smoking and taking a piss. I tell you the next thing I know they’ll be sending their goon squad to take my guns away. Chuck Heston was right. Over my dead body. They didn’t get his guns and they’re not going to get my guns. Could you wait a minute? There’s somebody at the door.”

Fifteen minutes later, the guy comes back to the camera: “I can’t believe it. Two young punks broke into my house and stole my guns. I just called the cops. They’re on their way. And the punks took my cigarettes too.”

Politics in America 44: Whatever happened to old what’s his name anyway? 

Now I can hear some of you asking, “Just what happened to Big Al Fresco? Didn’t he get caught out on the White House lawn with Stever the Cleaver?”

‘Fraid not. If ever there was a man who knew how to save his butt in a precarious situation, it was Big Al. Back on the lawn on that dark and stormy night, he knocked the breath out of Stever the Cleaver. Face down in the AstroTurf, The Cleaver laid there, counting the blades of grass.

Big Al lit out for Snort Holler. He hasn’t been seen lately. He’s probably doing what DoNaughties always do. He’s doing naughty. And he’s probably doing it with Ellie May Marmalade.

There was one rumor that Big Al had gone Hollywood. He was making B movies, all starring the star in his life, Ellie May. But that’s only a rumor. ‘Course there have been a lot of drive-in movie theaters popping up all over the United States. Snort Holler has two. Weazel Sneaze even has one.

The Great Man, President P F Sneaze, what happened to him? Congress tarred and feathered him and ran him out of town on a rail.

You know what that means? Maynard Gee, the man who hated work, dropped the Vice and became the next POTUS. Since he hated work, he didn’t do anything. That pleased Americans a lot. That’s how we like our leaders. To stay out of our bizwax. Too much leadership and what do you have? Too much leadership, that’s what.

And the former First Lady? What happened to Betty Sue Pudding? She went off on the Grand Tour. She saw Europe in style. Then she returned home and started her own You Tube Channel. There’s another rumor too. She’s been asked to do a series for the Comedy Channel.

And guess what? There may just be a movie called “The Tragic Life and Times of Betty Sue Pudding”. Big Al has been reported to be the director. It won’t be the first time he’s gone big time. ‘Course one thing is for sure. It’s all a lot of B.S., don’t you think?

THE END

Politics in America 43: The Redcoats are coming

Nothing like a scandal to get Americans going. Americans just love their scandals. Whether it’s over a very small thing: a tip on a stock, a sexual dalliance, an affair.
Or a really big thing like a war. Now that is a scandal. It gets American blood going. Americans get to have parades. Americans get to beat our chests. Americans get to fire off fireworks. Nothing like a war to make the Stock Market go up. The day Congress declared war on Canada, the Dow went up 10,000 points.

The President’s favorability rating was 95%. The 5% that gave him a thumbs down didn’t count. They populated the State of Discontent.

“We’re sending in the Magnificent Seven,” the President told his Secretary of State.

“Who?” State asked.

“You know. The Magnificent Seven. Hokey, Pokey, Smokey, Okey, Dokey, Folksey and Cheese. Those guys.”

“Oh,” State said, mildly surprised that a bunch of over-the-hill actors could do the job.
“They have been ordered not to fire until they hear the ehs with their ears.”

“Don’t you mean,” State asked, “the whites of their eyes?”

“No. The ehs is the plan. Then Cheese is going to put some real whip on their ehs.”
Little did the Americans know the Canadians had a Plan. And it wasn’t going to be pretty. They were sending in the World Famous Gordy Howes.

At the famous Battle of the P F Sneaze Battalion, the Magnificent Seven got their—how shall we say it, yes—American butts kicked. Before you can say “Ping pang walla walla bing bang”, the Americans were suing for peace. The Gordy Howes hat-tricked the Americans into a corner. They never had a chance. Then they sent that Seven who were not Magnificent back home again. It was sad. Real sad. There was not going to be a parade.

Oh, well. It’s not the first war America has lost. I could go through the roster but that would be like watching a comedy that ain’t comedy anymore.

As part of the settlement, the Americans had to take back the State of Mississippi. Another part was that the United States had to call Canadian bacon bacon. Good old American bacon was to be called ham. And ham, what was it to be called? Pork. So what was pork called? Well, that was left to American linguists to figure out.

Since Canada had an overflow of comedians, the United States had to take the excess. Suddenly the United States was overrun by comedians. Jokes, like the tulips of bygone days Holland, became worthless because there was so many of them flooding the states. And the Americans developed an immunity to jokes. So much so that no one laughed. Americans didn’t even crack a smile. The time was called the Really Great Depression because Americans were so depressed.

There was one final thing. The United States had to join Canada and start the Great North American Socialist Medicine Plan. It was a hard blow to American Free Enterprise. Now every American could afford to go to the doctor.

Sure, there might be a line or two. To avoid that dilemma, the Canadian P.M. pointed out, “You need to educate more doctors.” ‘Course the pragamatic never stopped Americans from making darn fools of themselves.

It was a deep blow to Americans but the Americans took it with their chins up. If they had to be defeated, Canada was not so bad. They were thinking of all that money the snowbirds were to spend in Florida now that the War was over.

Next Week What’s Left To Tell

Politics in America 42: The Great Bunion Act of 2019 

One wouldn’t think that the President losing a bunion would be that big a deal. But the Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA, the Dept. Of Homeland Security and the Congress were not letting it go. Especially Senator Butt Nekkid.

He rose to the floor of the United States Senate and spoke eloquently on the loss of the bunion. “The Secret Service has been caught with its pants down,” he began. He continued with a history of famous bunions. There was Alexander the Great’s bunion. There was Julius Caesar’s bunion. On and on he went.

It was Henry VIII’s bunion that brought about his divorce. Ann Boleyn had fallen for that bunion. Their daughter Elizabeth’s was so prominent that people from all over came to see it. All that tourism business made England the richest country in Europe. Cornwallis didn’t have a bunion and, of course, he lost to GW at Yorktown. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because his doctor had operated and removed his bunion. Abe Lincoln kept that Gettysburg Address short because his bunion hurt so bad.

By the time the Senator finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Senate. Senator Butt Nekkid brought his speech to a grand finale. “This dastardly act must be dealt with. This assassinator, Stever the Cleaver, must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He will be executed for the traitor he is. And an illegal alien at that. Then, after we have our justice, he will be sent to the depths of hell and the devil his ownself will take care of his eternal soul.

“And finally we must pass an Act of War against Canada. Not only do we have to deal with those darn geese and jokes of mass destruction. They are now attacking our bunions.”

Then there was the United Nations Comedic Weapons Commission. The Commission’s inspections had discovered Jokes of Mass Destruction in Ottawa, in Toronto, in Montreal and in Vancouver. They didn’t find any in Yukon Territory because they weren’t about to go up there and freeze their you-know-whats off.

Under the leadership of Senator Boll Weavel, the Congress voted a Declaration of War against Canada.

Upon hearing of the war, John Tory, the British prime minister, said, “Things just aren’t, are they?”

“I’m afraid so, PM, I’m afraid so,” said the Minister for Affairs-Having-to-Do-With-the-Americans, better known as AM.

“Now they’ve gone and mucked it up. And if I know them, they’ll muck it up some more.”

“I say, it is rahther, isn’t it?” AM commented. “It is rahther late in the day to stop this back-and-forth in the Colonies. Before you know it, it will be high noon. And what then?”

“I suppose it’s jolly good fun for the Americans. At least for now. But just you wait. Those Hockey Pucks will make tea and crumpets out of the Rebels. If they don’t, then my name is not John Tory.”

But, of course, his name was John Tory, the Jolly Good P.M. who would later become Sir John Tory, the Jolly Good Lord. And eventually the Jolly Green Giant. And that was all that the Brits and their stiff upper lips had to say about the matter.

Next Week What about the Aussies?