This Used to Be America

This Used to Be America

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Preachin’ democracy…

It’s still preachin’. With all that entails. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending so much time listening to country, mountain, and rural gospel lately. They ain’t afraid of no preachin’….

Anyway, when the phrase “This used to be America”* came to my lips the other day (in one of those listening-to-the-news-too-much rants my cat is getting used to) I sat down to write what I hoped might be some classic agitprop… I don’t think I actually got there… and I wasn’t actually going to let this out of the work folder but, I dunno, I listened to it this morning and thought, shoot, I’m feeling this. I’m feeling it right now.

When the general once in charge of the US war on — excuse me, in — Iraq calls that catastrophic misadventure a “nightmare without end” — I figure there’s some wiggle room for a little Monday morning jeremiad from an aging, disillusioned US businessman (that would be, you know, me.)

This used to be America, you know.

But we could still be who we know we should be…
This Used to Be America

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This Used to Be America

This used to be America
This used to be the land of the free
This used to be the United States
but nothin’s like it used to be

we put ourselves in the hands of fools
threw our birthrights away
put the bottom line at the top of our world
let the god of greed hold sway

it takes 200,000 bullets
to kill one enemy
that what the DoD numbers say**
if you don’t count peripheral casualties

Americans don’t torture
We don’t kill recklessly
thats what the man in the white house says
that’s how we want it to be
but it’s gettin’ pretty hard to believe

blowback’s a bitch
but how could we know?
though our experts kept telling us so
we fed the tiger we got by the tail
and now we just can’t bear to let him go

This used to be America
This used to be the land of the free
but I swear it’s not too late
for the United States
we can still be who we know
we should be

(C)2007, TK Major

* When I googled the phrase — which I figured had certainly been in use before — I found it had been the working title for a book by…

** DOD – Department of Defense; this figure of 200,000 bullets for every enemy death in Afghanistan and Iraq is based on US Department of Defense estimates of enemy soldiers killed and the amount of ordnance used in training and combat. Yes… one FIFTH OF A MILLION BULLETS for every enemy soldier killed. Of course, this does not count “peripheral casualties” — for which estimates range from about 25,000- 30,000 (more than the number of enemy killed — this is the US government’s estimate) to as many as a 100,000. Of course, that does not include those who died unnecessarly from malnutrition, privation, and other war-related causes which some well-grounded studies have suggested range from 500,000 to one million extra deaths.


2 thoughts on “This Used to Be America


    Dear Posterity,
    If you have not become more just, more peaceful, and generally more rational than we are (or were) – why then, the Devil take you. Having , with all repect, given utterance to this pious wish, I am (or was) Your, Albert Einstein – 1936


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