Friday, April 20, 2012

The Inflated Style as Euphemism

“I think no commander ever is going to come out and say ‘I’m confidant that we can do this.’ I think we say you assess, we believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect.” — General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan (since promoted to head of the CIA), regarding his mission objectives and his prospects for achieving them.

“The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism.” George Orwell, Politics and the English Language.

Which leads to thoughts in verse regarding:

“The Inflated Style as Euphemism”

The general has started talking funny
Like, never stating what we can achieve.
Instead, he babbles jargon for the money
Which means he never plans for us to leave.

We’ve been there now so long that few remember
How many times we’ve heard the same old song.
Our plans, those scruffy foreigners dismember
While we proclaim that we’ve done nothing wrong.

The president has donned his bomber jacket
To have his picture taken with the troops:
For conquerors, cheap tools that serve the racket;
For statesmen, simple patriotic dupes.

Our presidents and generals have blundered
And now can only stall for yet more time
While citizens back home whom they have plundered
Refuse to see the nature of the crime.

We went to “war” with tax cuts for the wealthy
And exhortations to consume and spend.
Now broke and begging from the thieving stealthy,
Our leaders promise this will never end.

Our presidents and generals stage dramas
And wave the bloody shirt while spouting gas
To keep us safe from peasants in pajamas
And poppy farmers smoking hash and grass.

We did this once before in Southeast Asia
As names upon a granite wall attest.
The country, though, prefers its euthanasia:
The laying of all memory to rest.

So let us listen raptly to the latest
Inflated euphemism coined to quell
The slightest thought that we might be the greatest
Bullshitters of whom history can tell.

Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2010

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hanoi Haiku

Written on the occasion of President George W. Bush finally making the trip to Vietnam on November 17, 2006, decades after better American men -- and a better American woman, Jane Fonda -- made the trip in his place. Three and half years into his own Vietnam-style debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, disasters that he would bequeath to his successor two years later, Dubya the Dimwit proved to the world that what he didn't learn from Vietnam he wouldn't learn about the Middle East, either. Hence:

Hanoi Haiku

In Hanoi at last
Red-carpet in return for
Our carpet-bombing

The words no one heard,
Due so many years after:
"We apologize"

Deputy Dubya
Sheriff Cheney's Barney Fife
Lost in Mayberry

Gullible Goofy
The boy who cried Wolfowitz
Far too many times

Emerald City
Naked ruler's brand new clothes
Viewed through glasses green

Mission Accomplished!
A cakewalk in its last throes
Now a glacier race

Four Years an "instant"
Nothing happens right away
What did you expect?

Broken-egg omelets
George Orwell's Catastrophic
Gradualism

Shop till the troops drop
Buy a plane ticket or two
Your part in the "war"

Rob the future now
They will never break our will
Those grandkids of ours

Lecture the victors
About their First and Second
Indochina Wars

Where did we get him?
How come we can't do better?
We look so stupid

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Boobie Top-Down Class Warfare

Written six years ago but just as relevant today: the unfolding saga of America reducing itself to passive intellectual incarceration, mesmerized by the moving colored images emanating from a glowing television screen; like the island aborigine Boobies cut off from the world's cultural mainland; like prisoners kept underground who can only see shadows dancing on the walls of their cave and not the marionettes and puppeteers on the elevated stage behind them who produce and cast the shadows that they mistake for reality. In the accelerating economic insecurity enveloping so many Americans today, we can see the usual and historic:

Boobie Top-Down Class Warfare

(an episode of Fernando Po, U.S.A., America's post-literate retreat to Plato's Cave)

It happened back in Vietnam
Some two score years ago
When those within the upper class
Declined to serve, and so
They coined Selective Service to
Select who wouldn't go

They called themselves the brightest and
They called themselves the best
And then they sent their countrymen
Into a hornet’s nest
But not themselves, of course, because
They’d passed the privilege test

These parents of a George and Dick
Thought communism bad
But worried that some other lands
Would find it not as sad
As slaving for the rich ones whose
Rank greed had made them mad

So sympathizing with the rich
No matter what they did
The parents of a George and Dick
Sent someone else's kid
To fight the dreaded communists
No matter where they hid

But not their George and Dick, of course,
They couldn't spare the time
And Vietnam seemed far away
Immersed in war and grime
An atmosphere too turbulent
For orchids in their prime

These studly hot-house orchid types
Worked hard to dodge the light
Their parents helped them jump the line
To keep them out of sight
Arranging for deferments that
Would keep them from the fight

And so the years of war went by
And communism won
Which had exactly no effect
On those who had the fun
Of skipping out and turning tail
To take off on the run

Soon Vietnam recovered from
The blasting it had got
And communists turned businessmen
To hatch a common plot
With those who liked cheap labor
And cared less why some had fought

Still some remained embittered by
The waste made of their lives
And swore they'd never live again
Like worker bees in hives
Content to feed the rich who dined
With sharpened forks and knives

But Boobie schools taught only fraud
And fiction to the young
With fantasy and fables coined
To see the truth unstrung
Till history became a fog
That never bit or stung

On schedule, Boobie Dick and George
Found Politician Town
And learned that pandering for votes
Could win some safe renown
Affirmatively actioned up
They never could fall down

The millions seemed to flow their way
And stuck to them like paste
They spent what others raised for them
With no thought for the waste
Since someone else's money had
The sweetest sort of taste

They made a deal between themselves
To do a pantomime
With Dick to do the thinking while
George mouthed a lisping rhyme
And so with the Supine Court's help
They grabbed for our last dime

The Boobie George then tripped and crashed
Into this truth sublime:
That Boobies hated freedom and
Considered it a crime
Dick told him then what he should do:
Just work them overtime!

With not a moment left to think
The Boobies wouldn’t know
Where all their beads and shells had gone
Or why they couldn’t show
A single thing as evidence
That they had labored so

Once George and Dick gained access to
The treasury’s largesse
It hardly seems surprising that
It soon contained much less
A fact which few observers seemed
To think of with distress

But "stupid is as stupid does,"
The stupid do and say
Confronted by a wealthy thief
They genuflect, then pay;
With eyes and minds shut fast like that
They make such tempting prey

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Toxic Imperial Mushroom Blowback

Professor Johnathan Turley has a column at his blog (4/11/2012) about Police Pepper Spraying Junior High School Students for not moving along to class fast enough to suit them.

This increasingly oppressive behavior by "authority" at all levels of American society has an immediate cause and a sordid history. The late Chalmers Johnson wrote about both of these, extensively, in his Blowback Trilogy: namely, Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. More recently, Professor David Bromwich has contributed a similar analysis in a posted Internet article entitled, "Strip Search Nation":

"[The Florence v. County of Burlington] decision makes a large example, and the most significant thus far, of the way an expansionist foreign policy based on coercion and violence has come back home to haunt Americans. We have a right-wing practice of foreign policy that is reliably backed by the party of wars and prisons, and a left-wing theory of universal treatment that is backed by the party of speech codes and cultural sensitivity. Conquer them in order to improve them, says the first party. Be sure to treat everyone the same, replies the second -- for surely we are no better than the countries we occupy. The safety we assure abroad by arms we must likewise enforce on ourselves at home."

In my own youth, America's War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) blew back upon America with a vengeance, alienating the people from their government and leading government at all levels to respond with a petty and vindictive viciousness that bordered on barbarity. We certainly see ominous signs of that blowback from illicit and botched imperialism occurring again, at all levels of bureaucratic officialdom. How we have treated others abroad now sets the low-bar standard for how our own government treats us at home. As I put it several years ago in the concluding stanza of "Boobie Counter Insurgency," an episode of Fernando Po, U.S.A., America's post-literate retreat to Plato's Cave:

The blowback, though, comes round in time;
No one has yet escaped.
Vietnamized; Iraqified;
Corrupted by the raped,
The “victors” thus are vanquished by
The monkeys that they aped.


America's illicit and aggressive "wars" (on Whatever or Whomever) have to end. The bloated, ruinously expensive, and self-defeating Standing Military needs a radical demobilization. We must abolish Government secrecy, because it only facilitates crime and corruption that thrive, like toxic mushrooms, under the cover of darkness. After all, if our government has done nothing wrong, it need not fear us knowing all about its activities. And if it has done something wrong, then we need to know all about it so that we can summarily dismiss from office those responsible for the malfeasance.

Way past time to make Peace and Transparency the lynchpins of policy.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Pledge First, Breathe Later

I don't know which to consider worse: a government and society that tell you what you cannot say after you have said it, or a government and society that tell you what you must say after you haven't. Of course, a government and society that both proscribes speech offensive to some while it prescribes speech offensive to others has become a ludicrous and lunatic Orwellian dystopia.

I can remember back in elementary school in the 1950s when the Eisenhower/McCarthy Republicans first drove religious monotheistic prayer into the public schools, attempting to force us captive children into mouthing an animistic prepositional phrase -- "under gawd" -- that only further degraded the already noxious little loyalty oath we had to recite every day in class. Constitutional issues arose immediately involving the separation of Church and State, which the courts cravenly sidestepped by allowing the forced recitations of government dictated religious dogma so long as the captive students "voluntarily" took part in the proceedings. "You don't have to say anything you don't want to say", our teachers told us. "You can just take a breath during the religious part of The Pledge, if you find that objectionable, and continue reciting the rest of it later."

Sure you can. Just see what happens to adult Congressional representatives who "take a breath" when Big Monotheistic Religious Brother says they cannot. For just one example of a screeching, finger-pointing, body-snatcher headline: Incumbent Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) Omits "Under God" In Pledge--Claims She "Took A Breath", see here. For another example: McDermott leads pledge in House, omits 'under God', see here.

Big Monotheistic Religious Brother now even tells you when you can breathe and when you can't.

(Those wishing a refresher course on the whole nationalist/monotheist browbeating thing, i.e., the reincorporation of Emperor Constantine's "fatal gift" in formerly secular-constitutional America can get it here)

Naturally, I've covered this topic in verse as well. See: The Boobie Pledge of Subservience.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

The concept of the Single Gawd
Leaves little more to mock.
Yet charlatans consider it
Their tawdry trade and stock.
No worse idea ever crawled
From underneath a rock.


Whatever you do, America, just don't breathe until you've publicly pledged your subservience to Big Monotheistic Religious Brother.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

"Leading from Behind"

Expatriate ex-patriots expectorate
When REMFs proceed to hide behind the troops
Invoking memories of those who met their fate
In service to a penis pride that droops
Each time some petty presidential potentate
Ignites a war -- and in his panties poops.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2012

The Circus that Wouldn't Leave Town

"During the intervals between elections the political existence of the citizenry is relegated to a shadow citizenship of virtual participation. Instead of participating in power, the virtual citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them." -- Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

Which leads to a terza rima sonnet concerning:

"The Circus that Wouldn't Leave Town"

From time to time, the circus once arrived,
Quadrennial in its appointed rounds.
Yet somehow it has artfully contrived

To never leave -- bombarding us with sounds
And sights so lurid and insistent that
Whatever tripe The Candidate expounds

Begins to clog the arteries with fat,
Inducing aneurisms in the soul
Through endless touting of a puerile spat.

Consultants endlessly conduct a poll
Which tells us what they wish for us to hear:
That folks like us will play our scripted role.

Commercial ads have made that crystal clear.
If only fright were all we had to fear


Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2012

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