May 15, 2021
War, The National Pastime
There are odd sayings that clothes make the man,
And empires are lost in the dust of Afghan’,
Though if you look close you can see what was lost
Is what could be called opportunity cost:
Investment in Kabul instead of Kentuck’,
Where lots of good people are down on their luck.
Down on their luck and quite willing to pardon
A defeat in Afghan’ if it means a garden
Of their own to hoe and a job that pays bills,
And sometimes attention to life’s aches and ills.
It might calm the shame of the army’s defeat
If it could be met in a house with some heat.
Yet lest our mighty Ruling Classes do fret
That shame will result in a nation upset,
I urge them to on the bright side consider
That the war has hardly been but a glitter,
A news brief, a blurb, blip sandwiched between
Kim K’s divorces and the need for vaccine.
Nor need they fret deep that it’s ‘Nam 2.0,
Since there hasn’t been much as far as I know
Of protest, pain, country-wide angst, despair,
Nor wistful speeches asking why we were there.
No, the country’s taken Afghan’ in its stride
Plenty complacent with the thought that we tried.
Anyone remember the Second World War?
Now there was a tussle with stories and lore:
If you needed to slip through enemy lines,
Why, you just changed your hat and took the name Kleins.
The bad guys were creeps and aggressors to boot,
Bombing Old Blighty, swiping Paris art loot.
Although then fought by all, a national quest,
Now war’s a pastime or a sideshow at best,
Fallen as it has from defense of democ’,
To reasons for feeding the Pentagon’s flock,
And woe is the country of which it falls ‘foul,
‘Cause ‘round here, win or lose, nobody will howl.
April 25, 2021
So America’s not Going to Rescue Ukraine — Right?
I’m assured far and wide, from every smart quarter,
By savants with arguments longer and shorter,
The U.S. and Nato won’t come to the aid
Of a Ukrainian hand so god-awful played
That attacking the Donbass provokes the ire
Of Vladimir’s troops and his jet planes and fire.
T’would be dumb, I’m told, and stupid to boot,
Just not in our interests nor for decent loot,
Illogical, ill-doable, and ill-conceived,
A slapstick scheme from the Three Stooges thieved.
Yanks and Nato supporting that kind of gaffe?
Get outta here, get a life, don’t make me laugh!
Fine and well, guys, and I try to feel better,
But I see some things that do my nerves fetter,
Like President Joe who fresh out of the gate
Insults the Chinese, and the Russkies does bait,
Like Tony the SecState who doesn’t quite say
Just what we’ll do if Ukraine makes a play.
Plus I see CNN looking for trouble,
Prepping the public for its hate to double,
And the Army looking for something to do,
With Afghan a bore and Iraq all a-hoo,
Contractors looking for the newest new thing,
R and D budget and the cash-box to ring.
And it’s long sunk in that we’re falling behind,
A fact in itself that’s a new axe to grind,
Promoting realists who say, «It’s now or nev’:
We can stay on top or can go down forev’,
And the first place to strike before taking on Xi
Is China’s gas station, which is run by Vlad P.»
So experts can write that Ukraine’s on its own,
And how at most we’ll vouchsafe them a drone,
And how all-fired dumb it would be to invade,
Be illogical, ill-doable and truly ill-made,
But what d’you expect of a hologram prez,
Who listens to Blinken and does what he says?
March 25, 2021
With Covid Where Will We Be in a Year?
With Corona where will we be in a year?
I look ahead wary if not with some fear,
For rare is a «normal» not shackled to «new»
To describe a state where there’s still much to rue,
Despite lines of cars and those willing sleeves rolled,
Our faith in high-tech so thoroughly sold.
The idea is when enough folks are jabbed,
And life without mask is finally rehabbed,
We can all go back to traveling on planes,
Screaming at refs and conversing on trains,
Kissing our honey and before going home,
Kissing another, since you know how lips roam.
It’s all fine and well, though I can’t repress frown:
Will Corona really take this lying down?
It ain’t called a virus because it’s a bum,
But because it dodges and ducks on the run,
And despite there being vaccines in clover,
Covid can’t figure the party is over.
‘Cause here and there you find folks twice infected,
Though in stats you rarely see this reflected.
Your cool new antibodies, some experts say,
Might not be enough or just get in the way
Of helping your defenses fight new infec’,
New strains thus getting a nice big blank cheque.
No, this ain’t over, despite all the hubbub,
More «new» than «normal» despite all the hand-scrub,
New strains, new dangers, and new rules and regs,
Hospital supply rooms stripped down to the dregs.
Covid ain’t stupid and will keeping throwing darts,
And making humanity use all its arts.
February 15, 2021
Imagine the Scrooges all sitting around,
Wondering from where could new profit be found,
Or new ways to contort the life of the earth,
With post-Crash business having used up its mirth,
And too much flowing to small restaurants and shops,
So how to give pipsqueaks a bust in the chops?
Another recession? New crash on the Street?
Been there, done that, and it was all too discreet,
But a virus, now there’s an idea with legs
To get us right down to the small-profit dregs,
And make people stay home and buy from Saint Jeff,
Bankrupt the little guy and buy up what’s lef’.
Political fallout might sink the Blond Jerk,
But who ain’t tired of his mouth and his quirk?
Yes, a worldwide virus might just be the thing,
To juice the balance sheets and give life some zing,
And how nice it’d be to see China take hits,
And feel what it’s like to be down in the pits.
From Taiwan to Texas, t’will be mask on mouth,
The Sudanese muzzled, both north and South,
The virus results will be A, B, and C,
And the whoopees for us be One, Two and Three.
Simple as that, tell us what could be cooler
Than a trill’ in the bank, Covid as ruler?
Can it be true this was all planned just that way,
The Masters of U thinking Fate held no sway?
There are theories, some smart, that such was the game,
And dishing on poor Chinese bats is a shame,
Or maybe with Covid the Masters jumped fast,
And molded events and as usual laughed last.
January 25, 2021
If There’s no Trust, the Social Contract Goes Bust
Still standing intact Joe made the inaug’
Took oath like a man and parade on the jog,
While networks proclaimed democracy did work,
Overlooking the odd electoral quirk
And that poor ol’ Bernie again got the shaft,
This Wile E. Coyote of Democrat graft.
Big Tech chipped in splendidly, keeping at bay
Skeptics decrying that Trump votes went astray,
Then doing a dark on Don’s social accounts,
Though hurting their own advertising amounts,
A gesture of patriots if ever there were:
Preparing our Trump-less future for sure.
The coiffured MSM did their part as well:
“Joe’s past and pres’, why, they’re clear as a bell.
Hunter, all right, the boy trampled some roses,
It’s all out of context, a question of poses.
Who hasn’t cashed in on the name of their dad?
Ask Ivanka and Jared if that’s a big bad.”
Joe was sure right to call for new unity,
And remaking ties within community,
But always unity depends upon trust,
Without which the social contract goes bust,
And what Trumpists see is called “The Big Skew”:
The Deep State working to give Trump a hard chew.
And it’s going to get worse in this year alone,
As researchers throw to the Trumpists big bone,
And Democrats race to lock domination,
And Twitter decides who keeps commentation,
And the media insists our democracy’s cool,
And if you don’t believe, champ, you’re just a fool.
January 10, 2021
The Capitol Invasion: Is This Who We Are?
“This ain’t who we are” is what I keep hearing,
Regarding that crowd carousing and jeering,
That with aforethought malice stormed our Bastille,
And the Speaker’s cool podium picked up to steal.
Don Junior and Prez Joe proclaim this ain’t us,
Like kids caught smoking at the back of the bus.
If not us then who? is what I’d like to ask,
Are Cubans the ones to be taken to task?
The riot crowd looked like the guys at the bar,
Caps and chin-grass, dirty jackets ajar,
Philosphers who’ll bet you two shots of rye
That Trump gets rated with Abe Lincoln as high.
They’re guys who’ve grown up with Clint E. as Harry,
Who figure fast justice as work quite merry,
Best left to a man with his dame and a dream,
Not cops who arrive at the end of the scene,
Guys who cut crap and get a dirty job done,
By showing damn lib’rals a Magnum fat gun.
No, t’would be tough to find a better selection
A better sample or closer cross-section
Of Americus Politicus doing his thing,
Be it the hard rightist or loony left wing,
Looting a Walgreen’s to protest police states,
Raiding a Congress because Pence accepts slates.
Get used to this, folks, ‘cause it’s who we are,
People who riot or wish to from afar.
This is what happens when the rich get so rich
That squeezed good people will attend any pitch
That points out gov’ment as the cause of their plight,
So some of them double their fists and go fight.
December 27, 2020
What Does ’70 Percent More Contagious’ Mean?
Lately I’m reallocating my worries
To give just enough to all ugly flurries
That threaten existence on dear planet earth,
Like nukes and warming and the growing great dirth
Of water and fish and a mouthful of food
For all buckaroos of man’s mighty brood.
I hear Covid 19 now has a new cuz,
That gives the same symptoms and does what it does,
Yet clocks more contagious by 70 percent,
And thus in my budget for worry makes dent.
But before I skimp on big glaciers adrift,
I want to be sure I’m not giving short shrift.
I’m like, “70 percent” — what does that mean?
All right, less than 80, but 60’s too lean?
Is my walking down 70 streets less enough?
Am I still a marked man on the 30 I scuff?
Will 70 more folks in a hundred get C,
70 percent more space keep all virus-free?
70 percent less I suppose I could talk,
Though a blow to my friends and huge Facebook flock,
Do all my shopping in 30 percent time,
Or make others do it with Amazon Prime,
Leave the cinema before the last reel,
And miss Dirty Harry plugging the heel.
This 70-percent stuff sure wrinkles my groove.
I’ll bet it’s fake news or some shrewd Deep State move
To push the sheeple to do hands, face and space,
Or distract from the fact that Trump won the race,
Or keep us from joining the protesting spree,
‘Cause 70 per’ more are gunning for thee.
December 1, 2020
When I See Pundits in Full-Court-Press Mode….
I’ve been watching Joe Biden assemble his crew,
Happy of course the Blond Wonder is through,
His complaints laughed out of every court in the land,
Despite affidavits that fill Rudy’s hand,
Though sometimes a reluctant judge his wish grants,
And gives me electoral ants in the pants.
There’s rumor, allegation, statistical beefs,
Folks who saw giggling ‘tween electoral chiefs,
4 A.M. vote geysers for Joe in Wiscons’,
With hardly a squirt for Prez Don in response,
And that business of folks who gave votes to Joe,
But to down-the-list Dems the good old heave-ho.
Meanwhile the media insist it’s all clear,
The election is over, nothing to see here,
And get hot and bothered and give the bum rush
To those who assert any systemic hush,
But when I see pundits in full-court-press mode,
Methinks the full truth has still something owed.
Yes, I’m glad Don’s out and will much be relieved
When Electors give Joe the votes he received,
Though I’ve a feeling some many will carp,
And on Trumpist heartstrings play their sad harp,
’Cause the belief’s out there, far and wide, fore and aft,
That this time the Deep State gave Trump the shaft.
November 5, 2020
An Election as Empty as a Beggar’s Pockets
NOVEMBER 5, 2020
AN ELECTION AS EMPTY AS A BEGGAR’S POCKETS
I’ve heard of “a nation divided in half,”
And with fear and trembling watch sundry graph,
Imagine broad streets where the right comes to rumble
And whack lefty chanters and give them a tumble,
Or food courts downtown that erupt in food fights,
Brokers v. janitors in defense of their rights.
But now I’m thinking this divide fifty-fifty
Might just be explained in terms far more nifty.
‘Cause I really don’t think most folks are extreme,
Nor voted for more than just one problem-theme,
Or gave wider thought to the issues of day,
But filled out their vote with a shrug “What duh hey.”
They lacked but a quarter to in the air flip,
Since between candidates big difference was zip,
With the exceptions of each one’s style and flair,
Joe’s pleasant smile versus cloud of blond hair.
The choice beyond that was like Pepsi or Coke:
You voted your guy and got back to your yoke.
T’was more referendum than anything great,
A thumbs-up or thumbs-down on Donald Trump’s fate,
An election as empty as the pockets of poor,
Of which in his admin. we see more and more,
But thanks to Prez Don the extremes are inspired,
So it’s just as well that we’ve told him “You’re fired.”
November 1, 2020
THE CAMPAIGN FROM SPAIN LOOKS LIKE A PAIN
To watch the American elections from Spain is like watching your neighbors two houses down bickering over the back hedge. You’ve known them for years. Neither man is a dummy, but their egos are easily bruised. They aren’t bickering about anything in particular; they just don’t like each other and are really just complaining that fate has thrown them together. In different circumstances they could drink some amicable beers together.
Ten days till the U.S. election, nine days, eight days….Yes, we have the countdown here in Spain too, and the same desperation of reporters to report something — anything — different from the previous day. The president again campaigns without a mask on, and Joe Biden proudly wears his. Here’s the president at a rally, here’s Joe Biden leaving a hospital or factory after talking concernedly with the workers and learning about their problems. The chic Melania steps up to the mic here, and Jill Biden there, both women fighting for their men and American democracy.
In Spain, politicians have no glamour. Nobody cares much about their personalities or private lives. Hardly ten Spaniards in a hundred could tell you the name of the president’s wife. The couple has small children, I believe, but they are unknown. Spain has no cool Sashas and Malias.
That is one of the great strengths, however, of having a king: the president can remain a political hack who simply runs the government; all of the personal side of politics is absorbed in the monarchy. King Felipe’s wife, Queen Letizia, is a much-examined beacon of fashion, and their two daughters, now in their early teens, are endlessly analyzed for their hairstyles and clothes. It was recently noted that young Princess Leonor, heir to the throne, wore high heels for the first time, though her younger sister, Sofia, beat her to this milestone by a month.
In Spain, politics is pure ideology — more leftist, more rightist — but in America, campaigns are supposed to be all about The Issues, and it is a recurring mystery that American campaigns come and go without anyone talking about them. The real issues candidate, Bernie Sanders, could not overcome the blob candidate, having made the bad mistake of presenting himself as a democratic socialist, and the moment a candidate mentions “socialist” or “social” or even an inadvertent “sosh,” he’s doomed.
Biden’s stands on the issues are known in about the same proportion as Spaniards know the president’s wife’s name. Biden was just supposed to be the Democrat who could beat Trump. I wonder if that’s true. The Dems always lose when they put up a “normal” candidate, and Joe is as normal as cinder brick.
Another important oddity that strikes one from this distance: scandals don’t mean much anymore to the American electorate. Here in Spain, the previous president was brought down on a no-confidence vote when the titans of his party, though not himself, were found guilty on corruption charges. But in America, scandals flit across the TV screen like flies through the house, and people just shoo them away. Biden’s intervention in Ukraine in favor of his son — he bragged about it — would have disqualified him twenty years ago. Likewise, Trump’s calling Mexicans rapists is taken with philosophy by his followers.
Trump was absolutely right when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his people would still vote for him. Say what you like (or hate) about Trump, you have to admire that kind of acumen, and this from a guy who’s always lived thirty stories up in the air and rarely talked to anyone below the twentieth floor or the $250,000 tax bracket.
Political campaigns here in Spain are defined by law to last just a couple of weeks, though there is a certain amount of electioneering in what is called tongue-in-mejilla “the pre-campaign” period. But Spaniards don’t get to election day sick and tired of it all — well, maybe a little.
American politicians could emulate this practice: hold the election right after the conventions — say mid- to late-September — and inaugurate the new president on New Year’s Day. After all, can there be a single voter in America who has not already formed an opinion about President Trump? And all those “undecided” voters: when do they actually decide? According to advertisers, they often vote as suggested by the last ad they saw before leaving the house. Ninnies, if you ask me.
But finally The Day has arrived, though this time around we might not know the victor for a day or two. President Trump has decried this delay as being a big reason not to allow voting by mail. Me, I think it’s healthy. An exercise in public patience is not a bad thing, especially when the flu virus is making life miserable, and a remedy is still a long ways off.
October 13, 2020
WOULD THE FOUNDING FATHER WANT TO CHANGE THE CONSITUTION?
What would the Founding Fathers think of us now?
They’d look this mess and no doubt utter “Wow!”
Israeli lobby keeping Congress in check,
Government deficits and finance a wreck,
Deliberation given way to the merest ad-lib,
Though one thing’s eternal: political fib.
How they’d revile our foreign-policy sewers!
Kept from the eyes of civilian good-doers,
Designed for the dreams of the masters of U,
Who just like Alexander and Napoleon too,
Lust for the world, for entanglements galore,
Thousand bases abroad with room for some more.
The Founders’ great farmers to finance have turned,
The making of wheat, corn and buggies now spurned
In favor of numbers that tumble and swive
In a world in which two plus two can make five,
Or six or eight if the leverage you push:
Depending on how much you risk your sweet tush.
What would they make of surveillance domestic?
Of Clapper’s NSA or spy-drones majestic?
Sure on censoring news reporters they’d frown,
But what would they make of our papers dumbed-down,
Where news ain’t just news but opinions a-mix,
Sources unnamed to the few facts better fix?
But what diff’s it make if from all types of sites
Folks get the news or just check games and fights?
Watch Harry and Meghan, hear rock or Stravinsky,
Watch music vids or on TED Talks Lewinsky,
Get Reddit just for news that holds them in thrall,
Though such a people ain’t a people at all.
The U.S. Constitution was no doubt a good call,
But the Founders would sure read the writing on wall:
After 200 years we must adopt the new new,
And stop letting billionaires the poor to screw,
In the high-tech life of a disparate nation,
It’s time to question and change its equation.
August 30, 2020.
Kyle Rittenhouse Shows Us Why Guns Should Be Banned
For the record, my information relies on videos of the event and on the New York Times careful reconstruction of events, which Mr. Quinn calls “fairly evenhanded.” Be that as it may, here is my analysis of this awful episode.
Mr. Rittenhouse started the evening with other gunslingers guarding a car lot but unfortunately got separated from the others and some time later found himself in another car lot, which is where his troubles started.
He was clearly the focus of much wrath from others present, though I’ve seen no speculation as to why Rittenhouse inspired such anger. As he says in one video, his intentions — laudable — were to protect property and, as en EMT, aid the injured. His rifle was for self-defense. So why did so many people all at once turn on him? Did he punch or insult someone? Unlikely: this well-spoken young man doesn’t seem the type. Could it be his white skin? No, his assailants were white as well.
No, it was surely the rifle he carried: no grouse-hunting pea-shooter but an AK-47 worthy of an Hawaii-5-0 episode. It symbolized something that the others reviled, which was someone who had taken it upon himself to keep them in line.
And then the fateful concatenation of events: a shot fired, Rittenhouse whirls, a man runs forward throwing something at him, Rittenhouse shoots four times, and not at the fellow’s leg. He tries to call someone — a friend, according to reports — and then runs away.
The next sequences available show Rittenhouse still running, and lot of people are after him. But now it’s different: Rittenhouse has just murdered a man and, to any impartial onlooker, seems to want to put plenty of pavement between himself and the crime. People bravely try to stop this rifle-toting youngster. One woman carrying her handbag runs up behind him and swats him in the head. Rittenhouse would have done well to shout that he was trying to turn himself in to the police up the street, but again that massive gun would have hurt his credibility.
And then the climax. Rittenhouse falls, and from a sitting position shoulders his gun. It is not clear to me that he gets a shot off. But no matter: a pursuer overruns him, knocking him backwards. Another guy — not a pursuer — runs up from behind him and whacks him with his skateboard. Rittenhouse is now lying prone on his back. If it had been me in that position, I would have grabbed the guy’s leg, brought him down, and given back as good as I’d got. But Rittenhouse had his hands full — of an automatic rifle, with his finger on the trigger, the safety off and the bullets already bought and paid for. So he shot the man in the chest.
Then another fellow comes running up with a handgun, clearly to shoot this dangerous and panicked young man, but he draws too slowly and Rittenhouse puts an admirable shot through his gun arm. The others wisely scatter after this.
With great satisfaction both Whitney and Quinn note that all three men Rittenhouse shot, two fatally, had criminal records. If they hadn’t — if the third man had been a Marine captain with four tours of Iraq under his belt — this would have tarnished the story. But the three were what they were: dispensable scum whose deaths had no more importance than a fly’s, much like the baddies in, for example, Hawaii 5-0.
I sympathize with young Rittenhouse. He is obviously a decent guy but with a twisted idea of public responsibility. He can’t possibly be declared innocent, but his youth and the circumstances certainly extenuate his murders. He was clearly as much a victim of that gun he carried as the people he shot, both because it made him a target and because it conferred on him the idea that it was his only defense, rather than his voice, his wits and his fists. Which is a commonality among gun-carriers: skewed judgment. That weighty chunk of steel inevitably brings out the indignation, arrogance, and power in a person. Officer Rusten Sheskey had a right to pull his gun on Jacob Blake — which started the Kenosha riots — but then he put seven bullets in Blake’s back when one in the foot would have done the trick. There’s the rub.
Rittenhouse is a perfect example of why guns ought to be banned. Other shots are heard in the background of those videos of him, and I’m sure lots more will be heard in videos to come. Probably someday soon everyone will come to those riots packing a piece and a couple clips for good measure, and then it’ll be just one big jolly free-fire zone, Second Amendment guys on one side and “anarchists and communists” on the other, a final showdown between Right and Left, a video game come true. I’m looking forward to it — but I live in Spain, where guns are largely banned, the future of the white race is of no concern, and we watch with sadness while America descends into chaos.
August 1, 2020
The Ultimate Racial Fight: “Standard American English”
Haven’t had your fill yet of hot racial strife?
There’s lots more on the way to sweeten your life.
I’m talking this fall when the schools open doors,
And into their hallways a multitude pours,
This multitude consisting of girl and boy
And those whose pronouns are a trick to employ.
But more to the point, kids who speak different ways,
Like saying «We speaks» and use sundry odd phrase,
Which for sure cause Teacher to flash her red pen,
And let Johnny know this is fine for grown men,
Who swish long three-pointers while talking their trash,
But alas, the book rules: «we speaks» is too rash.
So to school does Johnny’s mommy come striding,
Indignant indeed and on high horse riding,
To point out to Teacher «we speaks» is correct,
And if she don’t think so she’s going to regret
The day she elected her worthy profession,
Which is also known as culture suppression.
Thus dinner is served for the folks who love fights
And consider «we speaks» as one of their rights.
The principal’s pulled in, and then the school board,
Which holds its next meeting before a great horde
That demands admission of «we speaks» as right,
And God help the objector whose skin is too white.
«Standard American English» is thus in the dock,
A committee quick formed to re-write its full stock,
Pitting top-hatted Defenders of Proper
Against those promoting an English of pauper,
Amidst accusations of bias of race,
For when push comes to shove, out fast comes that ace.
You think the George Floyd matter stirred the Big Pot?
Wait till our language is the center of plot.
Few knew poor Floyd but every George can fine speak,
And thoughts does have ‘bout what’s right and what’s freak.
So tune up your grammar, friend, cinch your vocab’,
What’s coming up soon is the final mob grab.
July 5, 2020
Putin Paid Bounties to Have Governors Misinformed about Covid-19
Those guys at the Times, they wouldn’t know a fact
If it walked up to them and their faces smacked,
I refer, of course, to the recent Big Ish:
That Russkies paid bounties to give Yanks the swish,
Cash on the barrel for Taliban slayers;
Single-shots only, guys, no Uzi sprayers.
As usual nary a word of it’s true,
As usual it’s all a big misconstrue,
Forced interrogation gone wrong from the start,
Ka-boom propaganda performed with some art,
But Dave Sanger et. al. just couldn’t resist,
Since big allegations are what long persist.
Allegations! Ya just gotta love ’em to bits,
When circulation blues have folks in the pits.
You say the story’s not true? Who in hell cares?
The point’s to keep hot those Vlad Putin scares,
‘Cause bounty he’d happily pay for a lark:
Compared to him, Covid’s a walk in the park.
Hah! The real story, which the Times overlooked,
Is the money Vlad paid to have governors shnooked
Regarding the dangers of easy infection,
Which if you’ve noticed has caused great inflection
In the number of cases where gov’s have relaxed,
And said only homeboys go ’round with face masked.
Yup, a snake in the grass, that President Poot’.
Betcha he planted the Talib’s tale of loot:
T’was just a distraction from his real intention
Of making our country one big detention,
So’s no one can vote come Day of Election,
And we’re stuck with Don, the Russky’s selection.