Boobie Precursor Chemicals
(from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America's post-literate retreat to Plato's Cave)

We heard complaints galore about
Saddam Hussein's grim views
We heard he planned to strike at us
We heard it in our news
The only thing we didn't know
Was what he planned to use

He didn't have a plane that flew
He didn't have a boat
He had no army worth a damn
He maybe had a goat
But still we heard the lurid tales
Of plans he had afloat

We only heard these stories, though,
From our own government
Our Yellow Press, of course, signed on
To agitate and vent
No other nation in the world
Knew what the hell we meant

We saw through every thing he did
He lived within a glass
We had inspectors prowl about
Like ants upon his ass
And still the only thing he passed
Our CIA was gas

But still a lack of evidence
Of weapons in the skies
Dissuaded no one our team
From telling packs of lies
If we found nothing on the ground
We'd find it in his eyes

But still he tried to play around
He wiggled and he squirmed
Which we interpreted as proof
That his dark plans had firmed
We saw in this a sign that our
Suspicions were confirmed

Our satellites had photos of
Some trucks upon the ground
Which one supposes is the place
Where trucks are often found
But Colin Powell said this showed
Some chemicals around

And not just that, this spokesman claimed,
But trucks implied still worse
They meant Saddam could move some stuff
And use it to rehearse
A dastardly attack or two
Upon the universe

This may sound histrionic and
It even might sound mad
But such insane proposals have
Some precedents as bad
Like each time that the USA
Finds what no one has had

It happened not too long ago
In Madame Albright's room
Where midnight séances revealed
Some Prozac in Khartoum
Which meant that our cruise missiles had
To make the pills go "boom"

This raised some eyebrows, so to speak,
Since those securely placed
Asked what in Africa deserved
To have itself effaced
Explosively by surplus weapons
No one else would waste

The answer came, as one would guess,
In euphemistic slang:
The old word "pharmaceutical"
Now means a deadly fang;
A Weapon of Destructive Mass
Which we must make go "bang"

But some had doubts, as skeptics would,
About these threadbare claims
They pointed to a history of
Of underhanded aims
And said that the attack just smelled
Of dying Empire games

No one had seen much proof about
The rumored, deadly stash
But that did not deter the ones
Who claimed with bald panache
That evidence of nothing proved
The presence of the cache

Then someone clever at such things
Devised a paradigm:
Some smaller words that sound the same
Make larger ones that rhyme
In much the same way as ten cents
Add up to make a dime

Thus Hydrogen and Oxygen
Combined in ratio
Produce a simple molecule:
Two "H"s and one "0"
Or, "water" to those others who
Their chemistry don't know

Thus one could argue plausibly
(In the subjunctive mood)
That these "precursor chemicals"
If placed into our food
Could then combine to do us harm
(Or else do us some good)

As Tweedledee once put the case
In daffy logic fuzz:
It would be if it were so; and
It might be if it was;
But as it isn't, then it ain't.
So this means that because …

Or as old Bilbo Baggins at
His birthday bash observed,
While Hobbits partied hard and as
The cake and ale were served:
He liked less than a half of them
As well as they deserved.

Or as the teacher said unto
The student supplicant
Who offered lame excuses and
Got this mood-shifting rant:
"You would have if you could have; but
You didn't, so you can't!"

Yes, any fool can argue that
If-then leads to then-could
And, yes, the dominoes could fall
Like lifeless blocks of wood
But that's to beg the question of
Just why or if they should

Yes, one can make a larger thing
From smaller things, that's true
And, yes, some hydrocarbons can
Take life from lifeless stew
(Just add some electricity
To energize the brew)

But arguing that someone might
Have done a thing -- or could –-
Compels no one to reach for the
Conclusion that they would
Until they do, they don't; and so
Let's get that understood

But Boobies don't like new at all
They'd rather keep the old
No matter how the hand's gone bad
They'd rather stay than fold
They bet the farm and lost
So now they live out in the cold

With noses pressed against the glass
They look in from outside
And could come in the open door
But for their wounded pride
Which makes them easy marks for those
Who'd take them for a ride

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2005