Newsverse appeared weekly on Newsweek.com for most of 2009 and 2010. Here are some Newsverses from those years. If you don’t quite recall the events that seemed like such a big deal at the time…you’re not alone.
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT STOCKBROKER
It is an ancient stockbroker
He’s drinking Coke and Jacks.
“Hey, I know you,” the banker said.
“You worked at Goldman Sachs.
“You swung a big one, so I heard
Way back in the day.
But here I came to watch the game
And now you’re in my way.”
The stockbroker held up a hand
And ordered J&B
He fixed the banker with a stare
“There was a bond,” quoth he.
“Something called a CDO
A total sack of doody
But anyway, a Triple-A
From S&P and Moody.”
“I fear you, ancient stockbroker!
I fear you’ll get me fired!
You’re in the tank with Barney Frank.
I think you might be wired.”
“We flogged it up and down the Street
And lots of other places
And no one thought that what they’d bought
Might blow up in their faces.”
“Chill out, ancient stockbroker!
Get up off the floor!
Why look’st thou so?” “That CDO—
I sold to my brother-in-law!
“And when the housing boom went bust
I had nowhere to hide.
Instead of a bow, the CDO
Around my neck was tied.
“Houses, houses everywhere
And the market sure did stink
Houses, houses everywhere
I had to see a shrink.
“And now I go from bar to bar
From Greenwich to Penn Station
And I try to steer, for the price of a beer
Young bankers from temptation.”
The banker stared into his glass
“I hope you get some takers,”
He slowly said, then shook his head.
“Now, let me watch the Lakers.”
Banker, banker, burning bright
In the glare of jealous spite
From the center, left and right
What Italian hand or eye
Made those shoes, that suit, that tie?
In what underhanded way
Did you get your MBA?
Who was the sucker that you conned?
Whose the hand that sold the bond?
Master of the Universe!
Who laid on you this awful curse
Of populist democracy?
Did he who made the Rahm make thee?
Banker, banker, burning bright
In the warm sunshiney light
Of St. Barts’ or maybe Nice
Why won’t we give you any peace?
THINGS THAT GO SPLASH IN THE NIGHT
Federal authorities on Monday presented a $78.5 million plan intended to block Asian carp, a hungry, huge, nonnative fish, from invading the Great Lakes. —The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2010
Late that evening, half-awake
I dreamed a vast and frozen lake
Whose chartless depths and silent stills
A perfect hiding place would make
For terrorists with fins and gills.
You can’t build a fence in water
They’ll swim right across the border
Flouting Cheney’s fondest wish
Abandon hope for law and order
You can’t waterboard a fish.
And they’re known for never talking.
Stone-coldblooded killers stalking
All who dare that icy plunge.
Soon we’ll just see dead fish walking:
Walleyes, pike, and muskellunge.
We might need a Great Lakes bail out
Everybody, get your pail out!
We’re at war with Asian carp.
If you catch one, pull its tail out
Think of it as aqua-TARP.
Freedom always needs defending
The battle’s hard and never-ending
And enemies must pay the cost
Here’s the message that we’re sending:
We’ll serve you fried and tartar-sauced.
WIN A DATE WITH SARAH PALIN
Win a date with Sarah Palin!
Be among the first to mail in
A boxtop from your favorite ammo
A picture of yourself in camo
And you can take her someplace glam-o!
Imagine how their eyes will pop
When into ‘21’ you drop
With the twinkly winkly Fox
Talking head that’s full of rocks.
You’ll draw jealous looks and stares
As you discuss the world’s affairs
She’ll ask you why they needed two
Koreas, wouldn’t just one do?
You’ll ask her how she views the Fed
She’ll show you pictures of Todd’s sled.
Then here’s an outing sure to please:
A party thrown by Gay Talese.
With Woody Allen, Kati Marton
Steven Spielberg, Mischa Barton
Mayor Bloomberg, Charlie Rose
And some professor no one knows
In a dhoti and a turban
A specialist in third-world urban
He wrote a book. Well, so did she.
And as reward for all her pains
You can take her to Elaine’s!
And there’ll be no more blogs or tweets
From her, denouncing the elites.
She’ll never shoot another moose.
She’ll sip white wine and nibble goose
Pate, and tote those Birkin bags
And editors of women’s mags
Like Cosmopolitan and Vogue
Will proclaim a hot new look: The Rogue.
And as she fashions new opinions
Abhorrent to Tea Party minions
You’d have to use a strong ablative
To convey how she went native.
THE PRIVATE’S PARTS
I think the folks who have been in the military that have been in these very close situations with each other, there has to be a special bond there. And I think that bond is broken if you open up the military to transgenders, to hermaphrodites, to gays and lesbians.—Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
Don’t ask, don’t tell
Don’t look, don’t smell
But we’re sure glad that Army regs
Govern what’s between the legs
Of those very special bonders—
Soldiers, sailors, first responders.
We can’t have our legionnaires
Attracting dirty jokes and stares
The future of a superpower
Is forged in battle, and the shower.
You’re looking at a second Munich
If the Army lets a eunuch
Or God forbid hermaphrodite
Pick up a weapon in a fight
Or if some colonel’s aide or chauffeur
Is light in combat boot or loafer.
Freedom’s never been defended
By a soldier who’s transgendered.
Never mind their guts and hearts
It’s all about the privates’ parts.
THE DREAM OF NEWT GINGRICH
There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. —Newt Gingrich
Hi there, Bernie, how’s Rebecca?
Nice to see you here in Mecca.
Always room for one more Jew.
Saudis need internists, too.
Nice of them to build this shul.
There’s the rabbi! Hey, Abdul!
Come on over! Grab a beer!
Father Ahmed’s almost here!
He just got back with Chris and Alice
From singing carols at the palace.
The king turned into his good buddy,
They bonded over Bible study.
He says it helped him see the error
Of subsidizing Muslim terror.
Sincerely seeking to repent
Of all the money that’s been spent
On concubines and Cadillacs
He cut the kingdom’s income tax.
He’s writing a new constitution
And joined the Hoover Institution.
THE BIG SQUEEZE
“I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.”–Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R.) on her opposition to abortion in the hypothetical case of a teenager who was raped by her father.
You know that for a while there I was just a little down
After that thing with Daddy, while Mom was out of town.
The other kids in junior high can sometimes be so mean.
Like, I’m a slut? Give me a break. What about Charlene?
And Mom was all like, who’s the guy? Your Dad will go ballistic.
Which made me laugh so hard I couldn’t help feel optimistic.
I know that awful Mr. Reid would want me to abort it.
It’s cheaper for the taxpayers than having to support it.
But Daddy always taught us that we can’t turn to Big Brother
To help us out of trouble, so I just became a mother.
It’s just like Mrs. Angle told us, look up to the sky
Every lemon situation was decreed from way on high.
And every little citrus fruit was put here to be squeezed
Just add some ice and sugar and the angels will be pleased.
Serve it up with cookies and your biggest widest grin.
Your life may have been ruined, but at least you didn’t sin.
SAVE THE HUMANS
GOOD NEWS FOR WHALES
—headline on a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council announcing that the International Whaling Commission was postponing action on a plan to allow the resumption of whale hunting.
Bathed in oil and drowned in debt
Filled with loathing and regret
Newsverse cast a giant net
For news to rally round.
The Afghan war, the Gulf Coast spill,
The housing crash, the bailout bill,
Cast their shadows, dank and chill—
But look at what we found!
Good news for whales! The situation
Is looking up for some cetacean
Who won’t face extermination
To be sold off by the pound.
At least not yet, or not until
Another vote is held, but still
For now it’s all krill, baby, krill!
Surface, splash, and sound!
Just be careful where you blow
Check for oil. You never know.
What may look like H2O
Just might be benzene
And, we know, it sounds bizarre
But if your plankton tastes of char
Check it’s not a ball of tar
To gum up your baleen.
Anyway, the news is great,
You won’t be on a sushi plate.
And we entrust our species’ fate
To a robot submarine.
GONE WITH THE WINDBAGS
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our
citizens—Proclamation by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Now I don’t know what country Bob McDonnell thinks he’s from.
The one that I was born in fought, in 1861,
A war for its survival, when Virginia tried to bolt.
And only barely won it, thanks to Grant and Samuel Colt.
I’m sure that Bob McDonnell is a patriotic sort
Who wouldn’t ever be accused of wanting to consort
With enemies who hate us and our sacred way of living
No terrorist should count on Bob McDonnell for forgiving.
Except, of course, for those who fought, away back in the day
In service of secession and against the USA.
Now I’m not one for waving flags, but can we set some ground rules?
It isn’t love of country that’s the last refuge of scoundrels.
It’s sentimental longing for a mythic past of bravery
(Careful to avoid the part that has to do with slavery.)
And those who don’t remember what their history has taught
Are out of luck, but better off than those forever caught
In daydreams of a long-lost world, with solemn invocations
Of ante-bellum life among the planters and plantations.
In New York where I come from we don’t cotton up to traitors
They get overcharged in restaurants and patronized by waiters
We shove them in the subways, elbow them in elevators
And drop them in the sewers to be eaten by the gators.
We’re patriot progressives, Yankee Doodle city slickers
And if we had a pickup truck, the bumpers would have stickers
With rifles, flags and Uncle Sam, and a Day-Glo “U.S.A.:
You Love It or You Leave It or Let’s Talk It Out, Okay?”
But I guess the rules are different where the kudzu casts its shade
And fighting your own countrymen can get you a parade
But all the rebel statuary doesn’t change the score:
Virginia, there’s no Santa Claus. The South has lost the war.
THE PRAYER OF TOM COBURN
“What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight.”—Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), referring to the possibility that the Democrats would fall short of 60 votes for cloture on health-reform legislation.
Dear Lord we beseech Thee, if it be Thy will,
(We know that it is, but we need Your help still)
In Your mercy, Your goodness and wisdom please kill
A Democrat Senator up on the Hill.
We know You agree about raising our taxes
We hope You’ve been reading our emails and faxes.
This briefing book really enlightens and teaches
It’s full of excerpts from Michael Steele’s speeches.
Or ask Ronald Reagan to give You a fill.
We know he’d want You to veto this bill
As only You can! Like in Biblical days!
If they want “cloture,” they’ll get it in spades.
Now a big bolt of lightning would be real auspicious.
Though not in the winter. It might look suspicious.
We’d like some cover, what we call “denial.”
It’s different than back when You bloodied the Nile.
It needn’t be anything hard to pull off
Sometimes a miracle starts with a cough.
Dear Lord, we are grateful You sent us swine flu.
Just let us remind You, Bob Byrd’s 92.
And here’s an idea. It might work out nice
If Barbara Mikulski could slip on some ice.
Not Lisa Murkowski! She’s solidly red!
We know it’s a lot to keep all in Your head.
John Kyl or Herb Kohl? You might want to jot down
My number, and call before sending a clot down.
And so in the spirit of holiday cheer
Here’s hoping a miserable end’s coming near
By accident, heart attack, maybe a tumor—
To someone deserving. Do you know Chuck Schumer?
Or maybe you’re bugged by that Barbara Boxer
It shouldn’t be hard to just over-Botox her.
I know for a fact that the Good Book opposes
Government doctors to look up our noses.
And all of this taxpayer-funded health care.
I don’t know the chapter, it’s in there somewhere.
We turn to You now, in our moment of need.
It’s a matter of principle, not one of greed!
Kill off a leader, or some backbench schlepper–
Or watch for Obama to cure the next leper.
FAITH-BASED HEALTH=CARE REFORM
“Oral Roberts University estimated that Mr. Roberts, its founder and first president, had personally laid his hands on more than 1.5 million people during his career.” The New York Times, Dec. 16, 2009
Let not some bureaucrat come near my heart.
If it stops beating, it’s sure to restart.
It was the promise of Oral’s grand vision:
We can be cured by that old-time religion.
He had a health plan you can’t filibuster.
You just had to donate the most you could muster.
There were no copays, no waits for appointments,
When Oral cured you by prayer and anointments.
There at the altar, among Oral’s minions,
No one was asking for second opinions.
The deaf would grow hair and the bald ones would walk!
Blind men would throw down their crutches and talk!
They threw out their pills without fear or compunctions;
Faith overcomes all erectile dysfunctions
Without any taxes or fancy concoctions
Of Medicare buy-ins or government options!
Here is reform from the heart, not the head!
The Washington beast just demands to be fed;
But Oral through faith raised a child from the dead.
So write to your senator, see where he stands:
For socialized health care, or laying on hands?
THE LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL
After 16 years and $10 billion, there was joy in the meadows and tunnels of the Swiss-French countryside Tuesday: the world’s biggest physics machine, the Large Hadron Collider, finally began to make subatomic particles collide. —The New York Times, March 31, 2010
Thirteen billion years ago,
Beginning with a pinpoint glow
The Universe we’ve come to know
Emerged, and then commenced to grow.
And all that ever was and is
Precipitated from that fizz
Of X-rays, gamma rays, and light
That cosmic burst of clarity
The moment before symmetry
Lost its grip, began to shatter.
And left behind the photons’ flight
Something new was forming: matter
Two protons, call them “A” and “B”
Colliding with an energy
Never felt before on Earth
Re-creates the violent birth
Of the Universe. The pang
Of Creation: the Big Bang.
And leaves us with a tiny frisson.
Though logically, there is no reason
For concern. No earthly chance
A new black hole could swallow France
Suck it down by gravity
Into a singularity.
A bottomless and lightless hollow
In space-time. And the Earth to follow.
But if some overlooked equation
Some random quantum fluctuation
Gave rise to a new Creation
I wonder if the Universe
Could really turn out that much worse?
And if we had to circle back
Retrace our path along the track
Of history and at each fork
Throw the dice or flip a quark.
After 13 billion years
Could there be an end to tears?
“This is definitely a paradigm shift in the way the country will go about its space program.”—George Washington University Professor John Logsdon, on canceling plans for a new NASA mission to the moon.
All paradigms are born to shift
Like clouds that form and merge and drift
Like surpluses that go ka-pffft
Or giant Saturn rockets
Whose million pounds of lift and thrust
Left behind all Earthly dust
Then fell into the sea to rust
As empty as our pockets.
Back then we reached out to the stars
Like prisoners breaking through the bars
Of gravity, to claim what’s ours:
The universe to roam
When we were called we answered “yep”
But now it seems that one small step
For man may be too big a schlep
We’d just as soon stay home.
Remember how we all went gaga
At that epic lunar saga
If we were all as rich as Aga
Khan, could we relive it?
The universe, say those who follow
Astronomy, is mostly hollow.
A vacuum that can quickly swallow
Every buck we give it.
Although we set off with a bang
We didn’t get sufficient Tang
For the buck. The bell that rang–
It rang for you at NASA.
And so tomorrow’s lunar jocks
Tripping over lunar rocks
May come from Beijing, shock of shocks,
Or Delhi or Kinshasa.
THE NEWSVERSE EXPANDED NO-FLY LIST
Lord of the Flies sits at Satan’s right hand,
A swarm of demons at his command
Take off with him and you’ll never land.
You think you’ve seen airport hell?
Pretend a foot of snow just fell
On Chicago and now you’ll stand
At the ticket counter in a desperate band
Of tortured souls waiting for the thaw
That will never come. And the open maw,
The Hellmouth, yawns beneath the floor.
Because someone didn’t check the list
Someone’s horns and wings were missed
At the gate in Newark where
He bought a ticket for O’Hare
Tucked his tail beneath his seat
And the smell of rotting meat
Filled the plane, and the TSA
Docked the agent two days’ pay.
II. Drosophila melanogaster.
Also called the common fruit fly.
We don’t need to tell you why.
If you’ve ever left a peach
Rotting on the counter. Each
Segment of their DNA
Has been decoded, and today
Scientists have found a way
To mutate them, so on their head
Where antennae ought to be, instead,
They grow legs. It’s a terror plot.
We’ve enhanced our insect screening
At all airports, and we’re meaning
To profile every fruit fly’s face
In our expanded database.
And X-ray every fig and date.
Banana bread, fruit salad plate.
We know the darkest enemy
Of pineapples, and liberty
Is the one too small to see.
III. Spanish Fly.
It doesn’t work. Don’t even try.
Remember how in junior high
You bought some from an older guy
Guaranteed to turn your prom
Date into an atom bomb?
They heard that too, in Teheran.