Yet another Tom Lehrer song proves to be prescient

I blogged the other day that Tom Lehrer’s MLF Lullaby, although about Germany, worked well with Islam in the starring role.  It turns out that Tom Leher was prescient about folk songs too.  First, the New York Times story:

When one of Cuba’s best-known musicians landed in the United States, his first appearance was not onstage, but on Capitol Hill.

Carlos Varela, often referred to as Cuba’s Bob Dylan, had come to remix an album with his good friend Jackson Browne. But he also hoped to help reshape relations between the United States and his homeland.

So before going to Hollywood to work on the album, he stopped in Washington early this month for meetings with legislators and a lunch with a senior White House official. Later he held a jam session in the House Budget Committee meeting room.

Almost everywhere Mr. Varela, 46, went during his weeks here, including at universities and policy institutes, small talk about music gave way to pressing, albeit polite, questions on policy.

“I don’t represent any government or political party,” he said. “But perhaps that’s why governments and politicians might be willing to listen to what I have to say.”

Yes, it is a Cuban folk song army. And yes, Tom Lehrer wrote more than forty years ago about folk song armies:

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realize should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ‘em with scorn.
The folks who sing ‘em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

Right wing wackos misunderstand peaceful Muslims (I’m being sarcastic)

I got a letter from a good friend who not only linked me to this worth-reading Uncle Jimbo post, but who also added “Has anyone noticed that all of the airplane incidents since 9/11 have been perpetrated by muslims?”  Since I live with a liberal, and I know the score, my response to him was swift and assured.

Dear friend, you’ve been reading too many right wing wacko blogs.  These attacks haven’t been perpetrated by Muslims, who belong to a religion of peace (or do I mean pieces?).*  They’ve been committed by individual delusional men who just coincidentally happen to have misunderstood the profoundly peaceful (or do I mean pieceful?) doctrine that the Warlord . . . um, peace-bringer Muhammed created 1,400 years ago.  After all, in 1,400 years of Muslim history, organized Islam has consistently committed itself to peace.  Indeed, Islam’s peaceful tendencies strongly remind me of the lyrics in Tom Lehrer’s MLF (multi-lateral forces) Lullaby:

A considerable amount of commotion was stirred up during the past year over the prospect of a multi-lateral force, known to the headline writers as mlf. much of this discussion took place during Baseball season so the chronicle may not have covered it but it did get a certain amount of publicity, and the basic idea was that a bunch of us nations, the good guys, would get together on a Nuclear deterrent force including our current friends, like France, and our traditional friends, like Germany.   Here’s a song about that called the MLF Lullaby.

Sleep, baby, sleep, in peace may you slumber,
No danger lurks, your sleep to encumber,
We’ve got the missiles, peace to determine,
And one of the fingers on the button will be German.

Why shouldn’t they have nuclear warheads?
England says no, but they are all soreheads.
I say a bygone should be a bygone,
Let’s make peace the way we did in Stanleyville and Saigon.

Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn’t happen again.
We taught them a lesson in nineteen eighteen,
And they’ve hardly bothered us since then.

So sleep well, my darling, the sandman can linger,
We know our buddies won’t give us the finger.
Heil–hail–the Wehrmacht, I mean the Bundeswehr,
Hail to our loyal ally!
Will scare Brezhnev,
I hope he is half as scared as I.


* Just as a “by the way,” the proprietor of The Religion of Peace, a website that documents Muslim-inspired acts of terrorism committed just since 9/11, recently received a very graphic death threat from some practitioners of that same peaceful religion.  I guess that little experience falls into the same category as “the most dangerous place to be is a peacenik, anti-war rally.”  Those people are scary.

Fight fiercely, Military, fight, fight fight!

In the “better late than never” category, I discovered a few days ago that my local conservative radio station, KSFO, maintains a rolling archive of all the shows they’ve aired over the preceding seven days.  This means that, finally, I can listen to Rush, whose radio show normally comes along at the world’s most inconvenient time for me.  Today, while I took the dog for her morning walk, I plugged into my iPhone and listened to Hour 2 of Rush’s November 24 show.  The focus during the part I heard was the fact that the four Navy SEALS who brought in one of the Fallujah murders are being court-martialed for giving the guy a fat lip in the field of battle, when he resisted capture.  This prosecution, of course, will encourage the armed forces either to avoid capturing anyone or to kill all captures so that the prisoners can’t later cry “rape” (or the battlefield equivalent).

That’s the obvious stuff, though, and you all know it.  What interested me on Rush’s show was the call from an ex-SEAL with close ties in that community.  This caller claimed that scuttlebutt has it that this whole prosecution is payback for the fact that, when the SEALS rescued the captain off of Somalia a few months ago, they ended up using more force than the administration authorized.  This wasn’t surprising, because the administration essentially authorized no force at all, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of a military engagement, whether overt or covert.  By going after these four SEALS now, the powers that be in the administration are making it clear that the concept of a military is fine with the administration, as long as it doesn’t actually do anything.

I could waffle on about this sad state of affairs, but I know you guys are all ahead of me on it.  I will say, though, that this practically and morally bereft attitude is not surprising coming from this Ivy League administration.  Back in the late 1950s/early 1950s, Tom Lehrer, himself an Ivy League product and professor, took a look at Harvard’s elite sensibilities, and wrote the perfect fight song:  “Fight fiercely, Harvard!”  Tell me if he wasn’t prescient in that our entire effete, Leftist administration now wants to fight war the same way:

Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight
Demonstrate to them our skill
Albeit they possess the might
Nonetheless we have the will
How we shall celebrate our victory
We shall invite the whole team up for tea, how jolly
Hurl that spheroid down the field
And fight, fight, fight

Fight fiercely, Harvard, Fight, fight, fight
Impress them with our prowess, do
Oh, fellows, do not let the Crimson down
Be of stout heart and true
Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard’s glorious name
Won’t it be peachy if we win the game, oh, goody
Let’s try not to injure them
But fight, fight, fight – Let’s not be rough, though
Fight, fight, fight – And do fight fiercely
Fight, fight, fight