Three More of These Things

faked by Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

More political verse. Been calling them octals since they have eight lines. Now I am considering referring to them as, since I send them to the White House by email, dottawa rima. I know, I know, that’s terrible, and an insult to the form used so well by Byron in Don Juan or Yeats in Sailing to Byzantium.

What can I say? I have terrible taste. You knew that already, right?

Maybe the tone is a bit combative in these. So? Obama’s not a wuss. I am greatly disturbed by Geithner’s Wall Street insider blinders, and when Obama went on Leno the other night, he seemed more interested in coming across as plausible and in charge than he did in actually confronting the problem. In my opinion we have had way way more than enough of officials telling us to keep quiet and trust them. It sounded like he was still campaigning. I DO trust Obama, sort of. But campaign strategy aint gonna cut it, and I think the citizens in a democracy are obliged to keep an eye of their choices.

Besides, who pays attention to poets? We may be the unacknowledged legislators of the world, but in my experience most of the emphasis in that phrase goes on the word “unacknowledged.”


The Secretary of the Treasury
paid off his friends first. Why should you be
defending this turkey? We believe in change
all right, you need a little time. Not strange.
But it doesn’t take time to begin, and you began wrong.
Same old greedy story, same old song.
I voted for you, but now you must get rid
of the “expert” crooks: We’re counting on you, kid.


Listen, I hate to break the news to you,
but after the idiot self-righteous clown and his crew
did all that damage to our country, we need
a hero, a Lincoln. Don’t let it go to your head.
The heroes always have to pay a price.
It isn’t rhetoric, but sacrifice.
What’ll it be? Smooth-talking also-ran?
Or do you have the guts to be the man?


As far as I’m concerned, the president
is just a man, not some divine advent.
He campaigns well, and maybe, just maybe,
can throw out the bathwater but not the baby.
I’ve spent nearly fifty years on what I love,
and I’m better at it, when push comes to shove,
than he is at his job. So should I bow
and bend the knee? No way, no time, nohow.

9 Responses to “Three More of These Things”

  1. Jack Butler says:

    Okay, sorry. Dottava rima. I let the pronunciation take charge. And of course “keep an eye OF their choices” is a typo. ON their choices.

  2. I enjoyed these and their biting tone (and the way they flow together like one poem). One of the things that separates us libruls from the most recent iteration of movement conservatism is our lack of tribalism—we agree in broad terms on some principles but never invest all our hopes in a party or a person. Tactically speaking it can be a liability, since we rarely line up to agree on anything and spend a lot of our time criticizing each other; but in terms of actually wanting good democratic government, it’s an advantage.

  3. Jack Butler says:

    Professor Fury: Amen, brother Ben. It aint easy being a liberal, but it IS a lot more fun. I go now to read about Iron Man.

  4. brd says:

    I would disagree that classic politicized liberals are not as tribal as conservatives.

    Perhaps, in reality, though in a comic shorthand you might classify yourselves as liberals, perhaps, you only hold liberal views. There are conservatives like that too. Some folks I know hold some conservative views, but are not staunchly politicized. These are the folks who just can’t find it in themselves to do reverence. They might, though, be able to reach down into themselves for the sacrifice.

  5. Jack Butler says:

    Dear brd—I think most of us call ourselves liberals for the sake of simplicity, because that’s what we get called. I myself, and I suspect many others, have small use in my own thinking for the labels. How can the complexities of human outlook be summed up in a couple of words?

    I think the law should be fair to all, regardless of money or station. I think that one of the points of government is to intervene when the crooks cook the books or attempt other unfair advantage. I don’t think government can solve everything, but I do think it has a role in keeping our interactions fair. I do not think government has any business dictating personal behavior, including sexual preferences and what a person drinks, smokes, or ingests. I do think the government has a right to regulate dangerous or violent behavior. I do not think the government has any business confusing justified law with the commands of theology of any sort whatsoever. I think it is at least stupid, and probably outright criminal, when we take aggressive action on foreign soil for the wrong reasons or because of lies, or, as in Viet Nam, based on the predictions of spurious political theory. If the country is too poor to provide adequate health care to everybody, then the rich and powerful should not have access to better health care than the poor and defenseless. But they do. I think, with the Declaration of Independence and the constituion, that government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Government is not more authoritative than the individual, though the wise individual bows to his or her society. Nobody has a right to hurt, kill, or cheat anybody else. Government is not God. Government is us. And so on.

    Certainly “conservatives” are as various as liberals. As I have said in many venues, if maybe not here, honorable “conservatives” and honorable “liberals” pretty much agree on the kind of country we want. What we disagree on are the methodologies to get there. As long as we are both willing to put reasonable limits on the behavior we will tolerate, I honor the disagreements about approach—though I will certainly argue strongly for my own, and certainly study the evidence.

    However, right now, in what I think is a seriously misguided move, the Republican party is insisting that it has a unified face. It doesn’t, but insists on pretending that it does. It has also vigorously and vociferously identified itself with a world-view that I consider reactionary, ignorant, and belligent.

    There are plenty of self-professed “liberals” I cannot stand. However, as nearly as I can tell, the “liberals” in general make no such pretense of unity. That’s the way I think Professor Fury intends his comments, and that is the way I took them and responded to them.

    And it is very difficult NOT to be politicized nowadays.

  6. I was going to type a longer response to this and then clicked over to Salon, where Glenn Greenwald gets at this issue much better than I could here:

  7. Jack Butler says:

    I read Salon every day, but somehow missed this. As usual, Greenwald is lucid, precise, deals with demonstrable fact. He is naturally angry when he discusses crookedness in the media and politics, but he is not shrill. I read him eagerly except when I am too depressed already.

    Thanks for pointing me that way.

  8. Quote from Salon article: “Blind reverence and uncritical loyalty—the need to see a political leader as one who embodies infallible truth and transformative justice and can deliver some form of personal or emotional elevation—breeds ossification, intellectual death, and authoritarian corruption. Anyone who doubts that should look at the state of today’s conservative movement to see what the fruits are of that cultish mentality.”

    I agree with this statement in half. The first sentence is bright and light. And I think that we could remove the word political from that sentence and have a thought that speaks on even more universal terms. The second sentence conditions it, and deliberately or accidentally, gelds it. It lets the “us” off the hook and puts “them” on the skewer.

    When I flip on the TV at night, I can find the conservatives skewering the liberals. When I tire of that I can find the liberals skewering the conservatives. What I’m saying is that neither is helpful but both are a human tendency. Those of us who hold, shall we say, liberal view in relation to the macro world and conservative views in relation to the micro world are left feeling skewered from both sides.

    Who am I to talk.

  9. But in fairness to Greenwald, the rest of his essay rigorously refuses to assert a clear us v. them dynamic. I think part of what we’re dealing here is the slipperiness of “liberal” and “conservative”—GG is referring to political movements, not political beliefs, and he’s describing a difference in the way two political movements tend to operate. And I don’t think he’s against anyone skewering anyone else—skewer away. The question is the substance of the skewer (or what sort of meat is on the skewer?).