Saturday, November 22, 2008

Change We Can Believe In: A Leaked Copy of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

(In a major coup, Chomsky in Chains (don't ask how) has acquired what follows: the full text of Senator Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address.)

My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring. A spring reborn in the world's oldest democracy, that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Our generation is redefining what it means to be an American.

On behalf of our nation, I would like to thank my predecessor, President Bush, for his service to America.

For his service to human rights. For his pursuit of the ideals of freedom. For building a strong and vibrant economy. For upholding the constitution. For cultivating a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. I would like to thank him for strengthening our nation by the prudent use of military force. For faithfully executing the laws of this great land. For protecting our air, our land, and our water from those who would despoil them. His efforts for building a cleaner environment for our children’s future. For assuring the equal protection of all; not just the haves, but also the have-nots.

I would like to thank him for all these things, but I fear I cannot, because he has done none of them.

For eight years our nation has been the nurse-maid of tyrants. We have nurtured them in their tyranny, coddled them in their despotism, and honored them in their dishonor. We have known or at least shown no shame in flattering them in their crimes as long as they have acquiesced in our own.

For eight years we have lingered in the dark shadows of the Grand Inquisitor. We have imprisoned people without trial, we have kidnapped people without warning, we have tortured people without so much as an accusation before a magistrate, or a notice to their families of their whereabouts, and we have executed people on the flimsiest of suspicions.

Our Constitution has been atomized, ignored, insulted, and disemboweled. It has been dragged into the filth of Orwellian surveillance.

For eight years, our nation has changed from a beacon of hope, to a fountain of despair. Never before have so many so distrusted our purposes with such cause. Never before have so many had more than fear itself to fear from us. Never before have so many of our own allies looked on our nation with such dismay.

For eight years we have waged war without just cause. For eight years millions have fled their homes because our firepower has so escaped and exceeded our aims, and our armies have been bereft of adult supervision in their highest command.

We have had disasters above and beneath the ground. We have been misled with a blinding lack of situational awareness, to where, for all intents and purposes, a major American city has been waterboarded into a terrified husk of its former self.

In the best of cases oversight has been absent. In the worst of cases oversight has been criminal. There has been a flagrant failure either to preserve, to protect, or to defend our constitution Organized criminals have overseen organized crimes in our mines, of our food and drugs, of our educational system, even of our system for incarcerating criminals.

For eight years our nation has been subjected to an ideology of kleptomaniacal narcissism masquerading as swashbuckling, freebooting, free-marketeering.

The final result of all this has been the impending foreclosure of the American dream.

But my campaign has very deliberately avoided wallowing in the numerous and egregious failures and mistakes of my predecessor.

My campaign has had the audacity to hope, amid the shockingly awful audacity of the Bush/Cheney regime and its crimes.

My campaign has been directed at uniting this nation, at forming a more perfect union, and not dividing us poor from rich, honest from fraudulent, compassionate from scheming. My campaign has had the audacity to hope for real change.

Change from a time where we are led by war criminals to where we hold war criminals accountable for wars based on lies and naked aggression, because the naked emperor has no clothes.

Change from a time where Wall Street Ponzi schemers are given the keys to the U.S. Treasury while, reminiscent of the Joad family farm back in the 1930s, the homes of hard-working Americans are foreclosed and boarded up.

Change from a time where innocent men, one of them so old and frail even the guards of the prison nick-named him Al-Qaeda Claus, change from innocent men being jailed in prisons that are little better than torture dungeons, or worse, black sites where the very existence of the prisoners and their jails is classified and denied.

Change from an America that believes in equal protection only for the haves and have-mores, to an America that protects equally both the haves and have-nots.

Finally, and most importantly, change from an America where the rich and powerful are above the law, to an America where everyone, starting with the rich and the powerful from the President on down, where everyone is held accountable for their crimes and misdeeds, for their failures to faithfully execute the offices of their solemn oaths.

And so, finally, to inaugurate my Presidency by being true to the audacity of hope so many of you have tenaciously demonstrated in the long march to this moment, to begin with the real change that all of you can believe in, I am ordering the immediate arrest and trial of George W. Bush for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and above all for his crime against the peace in attacking and invading the nation of Iraq.

May God bless you all, and may God bless, the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Easy if You Try

--- for Billy Collins

We do not know where
we will find the next image,
inscribed on the back of a waterfall perhaps,
the textbook of some cloud,
a fedora turned by candles into makeshift chandelier,
an allegory of mirthful bougainvillea
sprawling uninvitedly over canyons of condominiums,
the table lamps of dreams encased in the terra incognita
of a thunderstorm, an itinerary prepared
by a mapmaker who's ingested hallucinogens.
The search begins, I am almost certain,
in some prehistoric orchestra where all the players,
with the exception of a barking dog in the oboe section,
are tall and gaunt, serious with a wisdom that is dark,
and motionless. Bereft of cigarettes,
they have nothing to smoke but Volcanoes.
They have heard rumors of a jazz band
touring in heaven, and if the silken garments of their skin
can be made to slide off for an afternoon,
they may investigate, sit in for
a musical jam discarnate,
a moveable feast of improvisation
in the glass-bottomed pleasure craft rowing across the sky.
It is a difficult idiom for prehistoric classicists
and they begin to reminisce fondly of the last
Great Ice Age and the long gravel driveways
of days gone by. Soon it is full-blown nostalgia:
'no one makes catapults like they used to.'
One longs for the old unities of Aristotle,
a beginning, middle, and end that seem
planned for escape from the start
--- near death, trapped on a ledge,
the climbing party discovers
the shelter of a cave
where an animal smeared on a wall
is found in a field guide key
to hieroglyphs, and reveals
the location of a secret
crawlspace that leads to safety.
There, secure in the cabin,
squiggles of smoke rising from the chimney,
we are free
to remember and imagine.