CIVILIZED WAR: A POEM

CIVILIZED WAR: A POEM  

We’ve not become so civilized as to end war:
But we’ve become too civilized to win war.
We decry the necessary brutality that war summons
taking pains to avert another Dresden,
While our enemies lop off heads;
and, laugh at our Geneva Convention vanity,
from urban redoubts behind civilian kryptonite.

They are not hypocrites like us,
who pretend that war has rules,
lest we not feel good about ourselves.
Perhaps it is that the wars we have
chosen to fight of late, are not of survival.
Perhaps they have been mechanisms
of greed to oil the economic wheels.

Perhaps we would recover the strength of will
to see war clearly, if the threat were existential.
Perhaps we would then deploy at war
the fullest, most brutal measure of our power
adhering only to the one honest rule of war,
should we be dragged into its madness –
that immoral slaughterhouse –
“Win by whatever device necessary.”

Knowing that afterwards, it is the victors
who will order rules, the vanquished
will be charged to have violated.

© 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

NOTHING IS UN-WISER THAN TO PUT YOUR FAITH IN FISA

The NSA is capturing large amounts of data, including data about Americans, under supposed authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as amended by the U.S. Patriot Act.  Now a declassified 2011 ruling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reveals that the NSA had been violating the Fourth Amendment from 2008 to 2011 in collecting purely domestic communications in its sweep of data. Thus, the secret court established to protect our constitutional rights from overly intrusive government acts ruled those acts unconstitutional but no one thought it necessary to reveal the breach or court rejection to the public.  Many are concerned but others are rather blasé about this revelation.

 

NOTHING IS UN-WISER THAN TO PUT YOUR FAITH IN FISA
(To tune of “Carolina in the Morning,” by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson).

Nothing is un-wiser, than to put your faith in FISA,
I am warning:
You’re on their horizon, if your cell phone’s with Verizon
Any morning,

They may snatch your email,
In case you’d hatch a plot.
Whether male or female,
If you’re a threat or not.

For you’ve been on their menu, if Yahoo’s your e-mail venue,
Stop your yawning.
They’d plant a bug beside-ya, ‘cause you might be with al Qaeda
Is it dawning

On you: that their spying on you?
Privacy? Well, kiss that adieu.
Nothing is un-wiser than to put your faith in FISA-
Heed my warning!

Lyric © 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

OBAMA THE RED-NOSED LEADER

OBAMA THE RED-NOSED LEADER
(To the tune of, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” by Johnny Marks, made famous by Gene Autry’s recording)

Putin’s exploiting Snowden
‘Cause it makes Obama mad
December when he’s snowed-in
Snowden won’t be quite as glad

Russians are always spied on
Snowden will be watched as well
Such irony stings like frost-bite
But who will listen when he’ll yell?

He leaked secrets to the press
About the NSA
They’re unhappy, what a mess
Caught snooping in the U.S.A.

Now all the Russian’s love him
For making, through embarrassment,
Obama the red-nosed leader
Of the U.S. government

Additional verses

Moscow is home to snowmen
That frolic in the midnight glow
When winter comes he’ll know then
Whistleblowers can’t spend snow

Putting his trust in Putin
Is lolling in the lion’s track
Rudely he’ll learn the truth when
Putin stabs him in the back

He leaked secrets to the press
Of wrongs the world should see
Where did he run off to confess?
Straight to the former KGB.

Now all the Russian’s love him
For making, through embarrassment,
Obama the red-nosed leader
Of the U.S. government

Lyric © 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS?

There has been a monsoon of indignant shock expressed by world leaders at the revelation of U.S. spying on its allies.  Of course, every other country with capabilities is doing the same.  A country is your counted friend until it no longer serves its leaders’ selfish ideation of national interest.  So, what’s new? Here’s what some world leaders might be thinking.

CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS?
(To tune of “Can’t We Be Friends,” by Paul James & Kay Swift (1929))

Verse – Merkel
I thought that we were allies at last
Left the past
How the iron curtain descends
When eyes of spies abound
Don’t say, “Can’t we be friends?”

Verse – Putin
I thought the cold war frigid as old
Love that cold
Oh, the propaganda this lends
Here is your common ground
Don’t say, “Can’t we be friends?”

Bridge – All
Spy, don’t get caught
Was the credo we’d bought
‘Till Snowden blew off the lid
Indeed he did, indeed he did!

Verse – Obama
I thought there were just tongue & cheek rules
Kept by fools
Justify the means to your ends
A policy profound
But now, “Can’t we be friends?”

Lyric © 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

SNOWDEN’S LAMENT

This post is neither for nor against the actions of NSA leaker Edward Snowden.  But, certainly one cannot fail to see the irony of his seeking asylum in such democratic stalwarts as Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia.

SNOWDEN’S LAMENT
(To tune of “You Say You Want a Revolution,” by Lennon and McCartney)

They want me to get out of Russia
Well you know,
If Putin says to go, you go
‘Cause if you don’t the state will crush ya,
Well, I know,
‘Cause Khordorkovsky told me so

They got want they want from me without a cent
Now, I’m a political embarrassment
I’m alright
It’s not what I want
But I’m alright

They want me down in Venezuela
Well, oh no
I would rather go to jail
Madura is a far worse jailer
Well you know
That whole country is a jail

So if it’s democracy I’m mad about
Why would I go to where all rights they’d flout?
That’s not right
Not what I want
But I’m alright

Asylum waits in Nicaragua
Well you know
Ortega would pretend
He’ll write the ending to my saga
But I know
That no communist’s a friend

I don’t want revolution, no not me
But, let them protect you out of being free?
It’s not right
Not what I want
But I’m alright

Some say that I’ve committed treason
Well, not quite
I’m not against the USA
I had a patriotic reason
That’s right
Secrets should see the light of day

And if you’ve read Orwell then you can’t ignore
That we’re on the brink of “1984.”
It’s not right
Not what I want
But I’m alright

Lyric © 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

THE GIRL THAT I MARRY

The Supreme Court held unconstitutional part of the Defense of Marriage Act on equal protection and due process grounds.  The highest court also told congress to keep its nose out of domestic relations matters which are a province of the states, at least with respect to laws like DOMA that have an overly broad sweep.  It did not decide whether a state law prohibition on same-sex marriage would violate the Equal Protection Clause of our constitution. Many questions will arise from this decision as to how various federal agencies will handle situations in which a couple, married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, are living in a state where it is not.

THE GIRL THAT I MARRY
(To tune of, “The Girl that I Marry,” by Irving Berlin from Broadway show, “Annie Get Your Gun”)

The girl that I marry will have to be
Of masculine gender the same as me
‘Stead of Children
Body Buildin’
Gyms will love us
‘Cause our friends will fill them

Now we’ve won our rights just the same as you
At least in those states with a modern view
Fine good people
At the steeple
Those with hang-ups can watch though the peep-hole
A Tom, Dick or Harry,
The girl that I marry will be.

Lyric © 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved