Occasional light verse, mostly political. If you're looking for a certain cold medicine, try here. But we can put you to sleep cheaper.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Doctrinal purity to the tune of

The purges of rational, scientific, or dissenting voices from the executive branch continue, with two cases this week alone: Lawrence A. Greenfeld of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Pentagon defense contracting specialist Bunnatine H. Greenhouse (who would make a great Groucho character if she weren't an African American woman. And if there was anything funny about her situation. And if Groucho were alive). Kudos to The Washington Post for keeping us aware of these.

Sung to a tune that you will either identify immediately or that you don't know:

Now inconvenient facts
Are something that distracts
The Bush Administration not a bit;
They simply get the urge,
And have a little purge,
And those who bore the tidings take the hit.

Don't tell the truth
The awful awful truth
They just won't hear it anymore;
'Cause if you tell the truth
The awful awful truth
They're gonna kick your keister* out the door.

To Bunnatine H. Greenhouse
The White House was a mean house,
Although her name's the best there's ever been.
She told the press we're hurtin'
Because of Halliburton
And she won't see the Pentagon again.

Don't tell the truth, etc.

And Greenfeld (Lawrence A.)
Got gently led away
About a press release on traffic stops.
Who'd guess (in certain cases)
That men of certain races
Are treated somewhat rougher by the cops?

Don't tell the truth, etc.

Now Bunnatine and Larry
Have heavy loads to carry
It's hard to keep your job and make a scene.
But names can be a curse.
They might just make it worse.
I guess it isn't easy being Green-.

CHORUS [a cappella this time!]:
Don't tell the truth, etc.


*Substitute a different two-syllable synonym in each subsequent chorus: hiney, tuchis, fanny.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Post post

The Washington Post is responsible for this week's lack of a real poem. They're having a poetry contest in the Style Invitational, and the entire nightquill writing staff has been put to work creating limericks to appear under the laughably generic pseudonym we use when appearing in that publication. This particular name is the most effective guarantee of anonymity that we've found in this interconnected world:

Better fight, like Hercules,
The Hydra's heads of myth;
Better drink the seven seas
Than google "David Smith"!

The Post itself, however, comes to our rescue with this new round of news poems by the great Gene Weingarten.

Monday, August 22, 2005

found humor

Found on a Starbucks coffee cup containing burnt-tasting espresso in San Jose Airport. Yes, even the disclaimer.

"The humble improve."

--Wynton Marsalis

This is the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

counterpoint for trumpet and organs

On the same recent day that the President said:

"Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed,"

two senior administration officials were telling the Washington Post, on condition of anonymity, what many of us told them in letters before the war started:

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic ... we're ... shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."


"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic."

Although it's heartening that two years of war experience are gradually bringing our neocon leaders up to the level of worldliness of a rather uninformed astrophysicist, it is depressing that this news has to leak softly out of the White House underbelly while the President obeys his unwavering dictum:

Nothing calls for sacrifice; be upbeat all day long;
And never

say you're wrong.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Ignoring mutterings in the blogosphere that he was no friend of Rumsfeld and the neocons, we take the Army at its word that General Kevin P. Byrnes, just short of retirement, has become the first four-star general to be relieved of his command in modern times solely because of an extramarital affair with a civilian that could have had no demonstrable relevance to his work running academic and training programs at the Army's schools. Four-star generals are not the usual objects of sympathy in this space, but for some reason we got so riled we became even less funny than usual:

General Kevin Byrnes has been relieved of his command;
The first four-star in modern times to be thus rudely canned.
A lifetime full of service doesn't matter, they declare,
For General Byrnes has had an extramarital affair.

There wasn't any question of subordinates or harassment;
It should be just a personal (if terrible) embarrassment.
Of all the ways to thank our soldiers, this I think's the least good:
To treat them not as loyal public servants, but a priesthood.

If war is not our state religion, why does our security
Demand so many sexual criteria of purity?
Why else are lies that lead to war forgiven a Commander-
In-Chief, while one sure way to get impeached is to philander?

So as the brass at Abu Ghraib enjoy their lamb and rice,
Let's bid farewell to General Byrnes, the human sacrifice.
Remember whom your nation cheers; remember whom it spurns;
And think about the Private Hell where General Kevin Byrnes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

beautifully said (i.e. not ours)

This is neither ours nor poetry nor funny. It's just a quote from a Richard Cohen column in the Washington Post which we think is beautifully put. The topic is the revelation that John Roberts once took a pro bono case on behalf of a gay rights group opposing a Colorado law explicitly allowing discrimination against homosexuals.

"The spectacle of conservative groups and the White House rushing to assure their constituencies that Roberts is not -- really and truly -- a tolerant man is both repulsive and absurd. In the end, this tethering of conservatism to the lost cause of homophobia will earn the rebuke of history."

--Richard Cohen, The Washington Post, 9 August 2005, Page A17

Saturday, August 06, 2005


In 2002, we were forced to install soundproofing in the nightquill Science and Technology wing so the rest of us could get some work done over the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Between stem-cell research, global warming, the slashing of science at NASA, and the perpetually unworkable Star Wars missile defense, the Administration's ongoing battle against scientific consensus has been one of the grimmest obsessions in our offices, to the detriment of more pressing issues, such as the Administration's ongoing battles against the consensus of experts in international relations.

The President recently gave comfort to those who believe that in science, as in politics, the presence of a small but highly vocal minority on an issue entitles their doctrine to equal time with one established by overwhelming evidence and supported by a nearly-unanimous consensus. The issue is, of course, the teaching of evolution in schools, one that should have been resolved a century ago even with the evidence available then.

The champions of ignorance just scored a little coup:
The President has just weighed in (as Presidents will do)
About our children's science classes, adding to the strife
Surrounding the inclusion of a faith-based view of life.
It's not the very best of ways to mend our fractured fences
When politicians meddle with a discipline's consensus.
Now was this just meandering? A random illustration
Of gaps that show up even in an Ivy education?
Or pitched to fundamentalists? Does it show the signs
Of being one of Mr. Rove's intelligent designs?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

off topic

Our food correspondent has persuaded us to take another temporary detour from politics in honor of his upcoming trip to Corsica, where he thinks Nightquill should establish a new branch office. He is fooling himself. What cannot be handled from Malta or Cannes will have to take care of itself. We are not made of money.

I go through Europe feeling hurt
That cheese is thought of as dessert.
The Frenchman mutters "Quel dommage!"
When parted from his swell fromage.
That Englishman is an impoucester
Who doesn't love his Double Gloucester.
The Spaniard, too, (I heard one say so)
Will often end a meal con queso.
Aged Gruyere can be delicious,
But must I give up sweeter dishes?
Brie seems merely chazerei
When faced with viennoiserie.
Cheese or sweets? Or will it do
To have my cakes and Edam too?