Sunday, 5 July 2009

A Few Words In Defence of America

A number of the blogs I enjoy reading have doffed their caps in the direction of America this weekend. Blue Eyes, for instance, the Tuscan and Thud. Also, The Speccie talking about the declaration of independence.

Any praise for the United States normally flushes out quite a lot of dissenting voices, some of whom make good points. Perspective is needed - provided on this occasion by the great (and I mean great) Randy Newman, as intelligent and wry a lyricist as they've got over there. This was his take on the situation towards the bitter end of the Dubya presidency. (From Harps & Angels, 2008) If you want to hear it, (or anything else you don't own) register for free with He sounds a bit gloomy at the end, but I know he doesn't mean it. Just a lefty artist needing a Democrat revival. He's fine now, I'm sure.

A Few Words In Defense of Our Country

I’d like to say a few words in defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?
Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them they were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools and burning down the City
And one of ‘em, one of 'em appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something.
That’s not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here’s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don’t even like to think about it
Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top could be coming to an end
Now we don’t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these we sure could use a friend.

Hitler. Stalin. Men who need no introduction. King Leopold of Belgium.
That’s right. Everyone thinks he’s so great
Well he owned The Congo. He tore it up too.
He took the diamonds, he took the gold, he took the silver
Know what he left them with? Malaria

A President once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded. And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid. That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean.

You know it pisses me off a little that this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too.
But I defy you, anywhere in the world to find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got
And as for the brother: well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore either.

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave and the home of the free
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.


  1. Obama has no doubt fixed everything...or maybe not. Both the extreme left and right in America are pack full of characters that only a country so rich and free (still) could produce.As for the rest, I find them polite and generous if slightly distanced from the rest of us. I spend several months a year living in a smallish town in California and I find it rather similar to the world I grew up in here, a world now sadly gone.

  2. Thanks for the link :-) High praise indeed!

    Have to agree with Thud there, it is the very freedom that the American system strives for that allows weirdos like GWB to prosper.

  3. Nothing wrong with our American cousins well apart from the management, they have just started to follow the yellow brick road and I just hope it's not the same road as we have been on for the last 10 years.

  4. Henry W: the road we are on now is a direct consequence of the road we have been on for 100 years :-(

  5. All the good folk who, for me, represent the best of America seem to be or end up on the wrong side of the law.

    I'm thinking

    Ken Kesey
    Tim Leary
    The Grateful Dead
    Lenny Bruce
    Neil Cassidy.

    Pioneers in a land once built by pioneers, which now seems to loathe them.

  6. A reference to King Leopold is not proof of learning.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Charity's coin is the bitterest; there's a tendency to resent one's rescuer; envy is a grubby unattractive feeling. For these reasons and more, many countries touched by the US are resentful of such contact with their financial (and in many cases socio-political) superior.

    Interestingly the 4th July fest I was at just outside Florence included an address by the Mayor of that city to the Consul General of the US, who was also present. Unlike the usual guff you hear at such things, i.e. "we are equal nations separated by a pond", the chap lavished fulsome praise on the Americans and their crushing military might for rescuing Italy and other countries in Europe from "the forces of fascism".

    Having been an expat for eight years this month I'd say that the chippiest people when it comes to speaking of our transatlantic cousins are us, the English.

    Given a free choice, I'd rather live in the US than any country in the Europe (barring possibly Switzerland).

  9. Call me Infidel7 July 2009 at 21:25

    Well said Idle (as ever) I spent five years living in Iowa for my sins and the people there were some of the finest I have ever met. There is in any country good and bad but on the whole I have a lot of time for the Americans. The "we saved your ass in dubya, dubya two" can get a bit old though. They are in many respects very naieve of the outside world and can be a tad too parochial for my tastes but I would sooner live in the US than the failed state that the UK is rapidly becoming.

    Randy Newman is excellent BTW good call.

  10. Fascinating that Thud can compare small town California (of ALL the states) to the manners and behaviour of Britain a few decades past.

    Elby, those who have not met you will gain a good idea of you from your list of 5.

    No answer to that, Wm Gruff.

    Tuscan, you are doing too useful an undercover photojournalist job in Tuscany to be allowed to leave.

    Iowa, CmI? For five years? Golly. At least they introduced you to Randy. But did they get his irony?

  11. Idle,

    Quite so. I take no guff when I strut my stuff, you might say :-)

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