This is a historical narrative poem written over a ten year period spanning the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.
A beautiful statue of Liberty lights
New York harbor to signal protection of rights
the Creator bestowed upon all humankind
at the dawn of the universe, time out of mind.
Since rights are not granted by princes or czars,
presidents, popes, judges, bishops or shahs,
not made up by activists on the left wing,
nor granted by parliament, congress or king,
not meant for one group as opposed to another,
all men are born equal: each man is a brother.
So try as they might, and try as they may,
what God has given, men can't take away.
America's Founders did well comprehend
both the nature of power and the nature of men.
They fashioned a government meant to insure
that freedom and rights would be always secure.
While progress was slow, the direction was clear.
Injustice was rooted out year after year.
Women and Blacks took their seats at the table,
and new laws were passed for the old and disabled.
It seemed as though freedom would always prevail,
but slowly and surely democracy failed.
Few saw the end coming; few knew when it came.
Nothing seemed different; it all looked the same.
TV still reported in timely detail
on the latest celebrities going to jail.
Talk radio featured right wing diatribes;
the press meekly parroted government lies.
Voters were never quite fully informed,
the truth being either withheld or suborned.
Democracy means that the citizens choose
who governs them, based upon well-informed views.
When wool can be pulled over citizens' eyes,
freedom is lost, and democracy dies.
Now hear what occurred in 2000 AD:
George Bush came to power by judicial decree.
Elections were held but the votes didn't count.
Irregularities weren't sorted out.
Al Gore won the popular vote nationwide,
but only the Florida vote would decide
who captured the White House, it didn't seem fair.
George W. Bush was ahead by a hair.
Bush was ahead by so small an amount
that Florida law would require a recount.
If counting continued, his lead wouldn't last.
Republicans figured they'd better act fast.
So Katherine Harris, a trusted Bush friend,
ruled that the incomplete tally must end
As Florida's proud secretary of state,
she saved Bush's hide before it was too late.
Albert Gore chose, as a final resort,
to press his claims forward from court to High Court.
Conservative justices ruled against Gore,
finding for Bush by one vote, five to four.
A raw usurpation of power had occurred.
The voice of the people was not being heard.
Bush kept the White House in two thousand four.
By then the U.S. was already at war.
The whole Middle East was a festering boil,
with strife over land and religion and oil.
A radical Islamist group, Taliban,
had captured the country of Afghanistan.
Draconian laws were enacted with zeal.
They forced all the ladies and girls to conceal
their faces, their arms, and their ankles as well.
In truth, they reduced women's lives to pure hell.
They harbored Osama Bin Laden, the fighter,
as well as his terrorist cell called Al Qaeda.
He told young recruits they'd have virgins in Heaven,
for dying while carrying out "Nine-Eleven."
Men entered the States and they learned how to fly.
They were not Iraqis, as some would imply.
Their ties to Al Qaeda were deftly concealed.
Their sinister secrets could not be revealed.
Osama bin Laden had called for Jihad.
His minions would kill in the name of their god.
They highjacked four planes to accomplish their goals;
murdered the pilots and seized the controls.
Passengers prayed as they sped through the skies.
Some used their cell phones to say their good byes.
It's called Nine-Eleven, for that was the day
three-thousand folks died, some as heroes, they say.
The world stood aghast as the horror unfolded.
World Trade Center towers first burned, then imploded.
The Pentagon site was a fiery mound.
The fourth plane's passengers brought it to ground.
From Singapore, Florence, Victoria Falls,
came letters and flowers, and telephone calls
so caring that grieving Americans knew
that the world stood beside them in brotherhood true.
The President, after he finished his book,
went up to New York for a personal look.
He spoke some kind words for the cameras nearby,
with pain in his heart and a tear in his eye.
Once back in Washington, Bush called for war.
He'd capture bin Laden and settle the score,
affect a regime change in Afghanistan,
and move on from there to Iraq and Iran.
He warned other states against aiding the foe,
"Cuz you're either for us or 'gainst us, you know."
Americans strongly approved of the war.
Support for George Bush from that moment would soar.
He toppled the Taliban, easy as pie.
Bin Laden, however, was cunning and sly.
Troops couldn't find him or locate his den.
So what was the army supposed to do then?
Dick Cheney developed some plans of his own.
He badgered George Bush 'til he picked up the phone:
"Searching for 'Sama now seems to be vain.
We're shifting our focus to Saddam Hussein.
We've finished our foray in Afghanistan.
It's off to Iraq 'cuz Saddam, a bad man,
has nuclear weapons there, make no mistake.
He sent folks to Niger to buy yellowcake."
It almost caused Cheney's best plans to abort.
when U.N. inspectors turned in this report:
"We've searched high and low for the WMD
We've searched as far as the eye can see."
"So far," they told Bush, "we have not found a one.
If you know something, tell us, so we can be done."
When Cheney demanded, "Find reasons for war!"
the CIA rummaged through cabinet and drawer.
At last they found something they thought they could use:
reports of a load of aluminum tubes.
While energy scientists laughed to derision
the notion the tubes were for nuclear fission,
Ms Rice said with characteristic sang froid,
"The tubes are for nuclear je ne sais quoi."
The argument left all the allies unmoved.
So Bush, once again, said intelligence proved,
(with documents that were transparently fake),
that someone attempted to buy yellowcake.
Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations
to pass along dubious interpretations
of documents forged or else misrepresented,
and evidence people had simply invented.
But delegates snorted at Powell's presentation
and sniffed at the United States delegation.
Friends and antagonists voiced opposition,
but Congressmen cowered in craven submission.
When people are driven by hatred and fright
it robs them of freedom like thieves in the night.
When fear was pervasive the president went
Before Congress to ask them for written consent
to wage a preventative war on Iraq,
because Saddam posed a real threat of attack.
Congress submitted with little ado.
Since "nay" votes took courage, there were precious few.
The bombing began, Saddam's statue came down.
Hussein fled the palace and went underground.
But nothing was quite as George Bush had portrayed:
no flowers, no kisses, no welcome parade.
No longer afraid of Saddam Hussein's cops,
the people were looting museums and shops.
Car bombs exploded and violence was rife.
No person was safe: they all feared for their life.
Sunnis and Shiites are Islamic groups
that turned on each other as well as the troops.
The war went on year after torturous year,
with Bush always claiming that victory was near.
Then straight off the pages of Marquis de Sade,
came photos of prisoners, unclothed and unshod,
who were forced into postures and acts so obscene
that they served to humiliate, frighten, demean.
The pictures, soon posted all over the web,
were shot in a prison that's called Abu Ghraib.
Some nights, by the entrance, a sign would appear:
"Abandon all Hope if You're Entering Here"
That's nonsense!" Rush Limbaugh announced on
fraternity boys do the same things and worse."
It came to light later, in 2010,
that American frat boys were at it again
in a secret compound at Guantanamo Bay
that was run by the army and Bush C.I.A..
In the"strawberry fields," as they called it perversely,
they savaged their prisoners for years without mercy.
Masters Rumsfeld and Bush sent a written decree
that their victims should neither be tried nor set free.
But "we don't do torture," the President said,
"in spite of whatever you've seen or you've read.
Those very few cases of prisoner abuse
were done by some sociopaths on the loose."
"We're told by the White House," said one news report,
"that whitewater boarding's a fine summer sport."
American people, though, never got wise,
'til another catastrophe opened their eyes.
The warnings went out three full days in advance.
Most whites fled the city, not taking a chance.
Zoo animals living in Audubon Park
were saved from the flood like the ones in the Ark.
Poor blacks, however, had nowhere to go,
no money for plane fare, no boats for to row,
no money to pay for hotels out of town,
no choice but to stay there and hope not to drown.
The waters rolled in with the wind and the rain.
The levees gave way around Lake Pontchartrain,
The world watched the grim, unforgettable scenes
of Hell being visited on New Orleans.
The President could have sent federal aid,
rescue boats, telephones, cold lemonade,
medicine, diapers, perhaps baby food.
But Bush was apparently not in the mood.
He had other plans more important by far.
He wanted to try out his brand new guitar.
He'd gone on vacation: this time would be his.
"Besides, they exaggerate how bad it is."
With water too high to let folks out or in,
survivors were desperate to find missing kin.
The old and the sick were the first ones to die.
Some people said they saw bodies float by.
Days later, George W., arriving by air,
made many a promise in old Jackson Square.
The few that he kept were too little too late--
a point that elicited little debate.
Support for the President dropped like a stone.
But Bush never altered his course or his tone.
He never admitted a single mistake.
However, he had an announcement to make:
"Security mandates broad changes. Let's list 'em:
Create a Republican one party system.
Of rights there are many, but one of the best,
if denied, will effectively cancel the rest.
With habeas corpus a court is compelled
to learn if a prisoner's legally held,
and if it turns out that the answer is 'no,'
the government must let the prisoner go.
This flies in the face of executive power,
so Congress suspended it this very hour.
They'll cancel the Bill of Rights too, bye and bye,
because the Decider has said so, that's why."
But Americans strongly hold onto the myth
that a country that's founded by God will not drift
very far from its pre-ordained holy direction
without a decisive and timely correction,
(perhaps in the next presidential election).
When a liberal, black, Constitutional scholar,
bearing the name Barack Hussein Obama,
became the next president, some would contend
that abuses of government power would end.
But Bush era crimes would escape prosecution.
Obama had granted them full absolution.
"Regime Change" continued, to Hillary's glee.
And torture accomplices still go scot-free.
Banking-fraud moguls continue apace
reaping fabulous bonuses in their disgrace
for their role in provoking a world-wide recession,
with millions left homeless through bank repossession.
So why, one must ask, is it such a surprise
to find ourselves ruled by a fascist who lies,
a tyrant so vicious that if he is crossed,
might bring on a nuclear holocaust?
Copyright - 2018 by Meredith Ramsay
Meredith Ramsay is a political science professor, now retired from UMassBoston, where she also served as Associate Dean of the Liberal Arts Faculty. She is a writer, musician, gardener, and amateur photographer. Her latest book is Community, Culture, and Economic Development: Continuity and Change in Two Small Southern Towns, published in 2013 by SUNY Press. It is a follow up to her earlier community study published by SUNY in 1996. Her articles have appeared in various books and scholarly journals. Occasionally she also writes metrical poetry, a skill that she ascribes to her training as a musician and her love of words. She has recently taken up practicing her instrument again, and hopes eventually to regain enough proficiency to play chamber music.