August 08, 2019
Drawing a Blank

These poems come from a site called Stormfront. Prose selections will follow.

From NastyOlWhiteG:


WHITE
the color of my skin
WHITE
the only shape I'm in
WHITE
with me through thick and thin
WHITE
not any other color than that
WHITE
with me through times lean and fat
WHITE
it fits me like a hat
WHITE

From SouthHip:


White is Light,
It gives us Sight
To see the past and the future,
To know that Nature
(or God, if I might)
Its creatures transformed
(fundamentally, if I might)
To secure those features
that made beasts into humans.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 02:46 PM
January 10, 2017
Oh, the Horror, the Horror

From CNN.COM we learn that:

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.

The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.


Yawn. Time to plagiarize myself, who wrote this in 2008 for Salon:

I know exactly how Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick felt on seeing his words from their author’s womb unfairly ripped by Barack Obama.

I’ve been feeling the same way ever since the presidential campaign of 1984, when I wrote this for Walter Mondale: “In Reagan’s America, a rising tide lifts all yachts.” Mr. Mondale lost every state but Minnesota, but my line lived on. Through the years it has been stolen by the best — Molly Ivins, Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Warren Buffett, Doonesbury, Rush Limbaugh — and always without credit.

Do I feel used? Cheated? No, I feel the same way I did in 1988 when the media went into snit mode on discovering that Joe Biden — the horror, the horror! — had failed to footnote a line or two he lifted from a British politician. I just feel indifferent.

The awful truth is that speechwriters have a secret, unwritten code. In obedience to it, the first thing we do on finding ourselves in the White House is to rummage through the papers of past presidents in search of things to pilfer.

Here’s one such thing, from Warren G. Harding’s keynote address at the 1916 Republican Convention: “We must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it, and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.”

With the subtraction of a few syllables and the addition of a soupçon of affectation (“Ask not?”), Harding’s piffle could be and was recycled for John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address — just as Harding himself had swiped it from a speech Oliver Wendell Holmes gave in 1884. Nor was Holmes likely to have been the first to come up with the general idea, which after all basically reduces to nothing more than, “Don’t expect me to do everything around this house, young lady.”

And nor was I the first to come up with that business about rising yachts. I can’t find any earlier evidence of it on the Internet, but that means nothing. All us monkeys pounding on all those typewriters for all those years? Somebody wrote it before.

Virtually all writing is plagiarism anyway, whether the writer knows it or not. Very few ideas, except out at the cutting edge of science, have not occurred to somebody before and been written down in one form or other. The only function remaining for the writer is to repeat in today’s idiom what has already been written, somewhat differently, for readers in the past. This is particularly true in political prose, which tends to be light on facts and innocent of all but a few childish ideas.

To criticize a politician for plagiarizing, then, is no more sensible than to criticize a fish for swimming. It is what both animals are designed to do. The only sensible criticism would focus on how effectively political speech does the job for which it is intended. How skillfully does the politician mix and administer the small dose of simplistic placebos that the patient is considered able to handle?

For instance, this draft language for a speech was written in 1860 by the incoming secretary of state, William Henry Seward. Note that it is entirely free of meaning:

“The mystic chords which, proceeding from so many battlefields and so many patriotic graves, pass through all the hearts and all hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet again harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation.”

Seward’s boss repurposed this into:

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

This is equally free of meaning, but goes a considerable way toward explaining why Seward was the incoming secretary of state and Lincoln was the incoming president. It ain’t what you say but how you say it.

And that is why the Clinton camp has found itself reduced to rolling out the pop gun of plagiarism at this difficult point in the campaign. They have no other artillery.

But as somebody or other may have more or less said somewhere else, Obama probably has nothing to fear from smear itself.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 05:11 PM
October 04, 2016
Dangerous Asylum

Would you like to read a swell poem by America’s number one poet? Sure you would. Here it is then, from The New Yorker:


DANGEROUS ASYLUM

As famous as a broken disc,
thanks for coming all this way.
That’s why I have to do it,
to be a goon that matters
into another person’s life.

You have a lousy voice, but
a good tenor. There, I’ve said it.
You’ll have to quickly get back
on the job, brothers brothers.
In her transparent hair
she is, well, just a person,
Bruce confessed.

And that stuff is now getting cold.
I’ll be there for you;
they want to cut them off from other
poppy-seed cakes,
getting—getting old again,
frustrated bobby-soxer.
Hold that opera—you made the lyrics.

You remind me of you.
We had been up to Speculator once before.

Off you go then.

The poet is even further along in his eighties than I am, and I’d like to think of him sitting in a rocker, smiling to himself over how easy it was to con the entire literary establishment for sixty years. I’m afraid, though, that he is, well, just a person.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 03:41 PM
October 27, 2015
Unplumbed Depths


One wonders what remains
Inside Trump’s head
That he has had the brains
To leave unsaid.

—J.D.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 04:55 PM
November 12, 2014
The Poet and the Clod

From Father Gerard Manley Hopkins’ journals:

Nov. 8— Walking with Wm. Splaine we saw a vast multitude of starlings making an unspeakable jangle. They would settle in a row of trees; then one tree after another, rising at a signal, they looked like a cloud of specks of black snuff or powder struck up from a brush or broom or shaken from a wig; then they would sweep round in whirlwinds — you could see the nearer and farther bow of the rings by the size and blackness; many would be in one phase at once, all narrow black flakes hurling round, then in another; then they would fall upon a field and so on. Splaine wanted a gun: then ‘there it would rain meat,’ he said. I thought they must be full of enthusiasm and delight hearing their cries and stirring and cheering one another.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 02:22 PM
January 29, 2014
Doin’ the Gop Hop

Our 13-year-old granddaughter Georgia sings with a youth band in New Haven. The kids had worked out the music for a number they wanted to perform at a concert last Sunday, but no words. How about we make it about the government shutdown, somebody suggested. (Kids these days, huh?) So anyway Georgia volunteered to write some lyrics, and here is what she sang:

V1: house of men act like children, they’ll never be forgiven
sweaty hands and crossed fingers, the taste of lies lingers
our fathers are frowning, while our people are drowning
spilt blood on the playground, will we ever be found?

Chorus: Sitting on our imaginary throne,
preach to the choir,
and we drone and we drone

V2: unbending, never broken, change is never open
stuck in one single mindset, many blinded advocates
we pledge allegiance to the flag, to the republic for which it stands
but the real question is, what are we standing for?

V3: we’re sinking not swimming, our eyes are brimming
an eye for an eye, unless it’s mine
weak minds think alike, all bark and no bite
spilt blood on the playground, will we ever be found?


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 03:31 PM
September 23, 2013
I Think That I Shall Never See…


…a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

— Ogden Nash

From Jay Bookman:

“The General Assembly finds and declares that outdoor advertising provides a substantial service and benefit to Georgia and Georgia’s citizens as well as the traveling public. Therefore, the General Assembly declares it to be in the public interest that provisions be made for the visibility of outdoor advertising signs”

Well, if a publicly owned tree, growing on public property, might possibly interfere with the visibility of a privately owned billboard, state law gives the billboard owner the right to come onto public property and chop that tree down. Previous law exempted hardwoods with a diameter of more than eight inches and pines with a diameter of more than a foot, but under HB 179 those protections, like the trees, are gone.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 11:46 AM
July 19, 2013
Glue You, Yankee

From the New York Times:

Just a few years after the setting of an American withdrawal deadline for 2014 evoked alarm and worry among Afghans, the tone now has perceptibly hardened: even the officials who openly want the Americans to stay are now saying that staying must be strictly on Afghan terms.

The latest is Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, once a favorite of the Western contingent in Afghanistan, whose anger at the American attitude about customs fees led him to institute steep fines and briefly led Afghan officials to close the border crossings to Western military shipments.

“At the heart of all this is not just a revenue collection issue,” Mr. Zakhilwal said in an e-mail on Thursday. It is about “respect of Afghan laws and procedures…”

Now that the coalition is trying to take out its equipment, the Afghan government is demanding each container either come with its paperwork — or a $1,000 fine. Najeebullah Manali, a Finance Ministry official, put the number of trucks at roughly 70,000. That would mean a fine of $70 million.

Or, as a great poet once wrote:

There was an old whore from Peru
Who filled her vagina with glue.
“They paid to get in,”
Said she with a grin,
“And they’ll pay to get out again, too.”


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 12:25 PM
January 04, 2012
Original Intent

From The Loyal Opposition:

At an early-morning rally today, a few hours before the Iowa caucuses begin, [Romney] discussed his love for the patriotic song — probably the most beloved in the canon — and recited several of the song’s verses, strongly suggesting that its vision of the country differed from President Obama’s…

The lyrics were written in 1894 by the Massachusetts poet Katharine Lee Bates, an ardent feminist and lesbian who was deeply disillusioned by the greed and excess of the Gilded Age.

Her original third verse was an expression of that anger:

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 01:23 PM
July 09, 2010
You Wrote the Bible

Walt Whitman, via Rick Hertzberg. For Rick’s whole post, go here.

We consider bibles and religions divine — I do not say they are not divine, I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow out of you still, It is not they who give the life — it is you who give the life, Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees from the earth, than they are shed out of you.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 12:25 PM
October 23, 2008
Say It Ain’t So, Hank

From The Guardian:

Two hours later, they had filled the centre of the 8,500-seat stadium (though there were still empty seats in the stands) and were kept stamping their feet in the damp cold — first to a Christian rock group and then to Hank Williams, Jr, who sang one populist tune after another, some of them tailored to the current election.

In the original version of his song, Family Tradition, Williams defended his hereditary penchant for drinking Jim Beam and smoking dope. But rewritten as “McCain-Palin Tradition,” the song encourages voters to ignore the “leftwing liberal media” and support the Republican ticket “cuz they’re just like you and ol’ Hank.”

He goes on to explain the causes of the financial crisis: “The bankers didn’t want to make all those bad loans / But Bill Clinton said ‘you got to!’ / Now they want to bail out, what I’m talking about / Is a Democrat liberal hoodoo!”

Williams’s tribute in song to Sarah Palin compared her to a “mama bear” who could be counted upon to “protect your family’s condition” because “If you mess with her cubs, she’s gonna take off the gloves, / That’s an American female tradition.. It ended with a musical question to the vice-presidential candidate: “How can you be so smart and be such a good lookin’ dish?”

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 10:57 AM
January 23, 2008
Dulce et Decorum Est…

Since Jerry mentioned it in a comment on the previous post, here's another ghost from the hellish past to haunt the hellish present.


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Posted by Buck Batard at 12:14 PM
January 22, 2008
Does it Matter?

There are many ghosts from the past who speak from the grave. May they forever haunt the souls of those who gave their voices a ghastly immortality.

Siegfried Sassoon


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Posted by Buck Batard at 11:01 PM