Monday, January 25, 2016





By Jack Random

On Fusion Television’s Iowa Black and Brown Forum, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked if he favored reparations for African Americans. Uncle Bernie delivered what I can only describe as a Clintonian response, arguing that favoring reparations would be both futile and divisive.

At a time when the Clinton machine is on the defensive and actively building a Southern strategy to counter potential losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Senator Sanders passed on an opportunity to deliver a powerful appeal for the black vote. Reparations is a place Hillary Clinton will not go. It is a word she will not utter. It is a debate she does not wish to have. Senator Sanders could have and should have.

Instead, Uncle Bernie dropped the ball.

I support Bernie Sanders for president. In the age of unlimited corporate contributions, the fact that Sanders could even mount a serious run is astounding. But I find the rationale of the senator from Vermont desperately inadequate. We expect Hillary Clinton to take the easy road. We expect the triangulator to sidestep difficult and potentially divisive issues. We do not expect Uncle Bernie to take the same path.

Had the good senator taken the issue head on and welcomed the debate, he would have demonstrated not only moral courage but political acumen as well. He would have forced Hillary to respond and that response would very likely have exposed her loyalty to the black community as a politically expedient fabrication.

Reparations belongs in the public forum. Americans are long overdue for a full, open and in-depth discussion of the debt this nation owes for its past misdeeds. That discussion does not begin with slavery. It begins with genocide. It begins with a concerted attempt by our government, under a succession of presidents, to exterminate the Native American population. When that attempt failed, we slaughtered the buffalo to eliminate the vital resource upon which the plains Indians relied. We rounded up the tribes and relocated them to lands the white folks did not want. We later seized those same lands and divided them into individual allotments (the Dawes Act of 1887) in an attempt to destroy tribal and cultural identification.

When Europeans first set foot on American soil an estimated ten million Native Americans populated the North American continent. By 1900 the Census estimated the native population at just over 237,000. [1]

Genocide. Plain and simple. Do we really think we’ve paid our debt to the surviving Native American communities by allowing casinos on reservation lands? Plain and simple: We have not. Native Americans remain the most impoverished and under-represented minority in the land.

In 2010 Congress passed the Claims Resolution Act in an attempt to settle long-standing grievances of mismanagement and outright theft of tribal resources for 3.4 billion dollars. The settlement remains in stasis while the courts try to determine its fairness.

In 1988 Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act compensating more than 100,000 Japanese Americans who were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II. Surviving members of the aggrieved community were given $20,000 and a formal apology.

In both cases, the compensation was and is woefully inadequate but the precedent is set: Reparations is an issue in American law. Why should it not have a place in American politics? Why should the American electorate be denied a full hearing?

Every year since 1989 Representative John Conyers of Michigan has introduced a bill to establish a commission to study the enduring impact of slavery and make recommendations for appropriate remedies. The proposal has never reached the floor of the House of Representatives for an up or down vote.

Notwithstanding the feud between Cornel West and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the latter makes a strong case for reparations in the June 2014 edition of The Atlantic:

“Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society.”

I made a distinctly different case in May of 2006:

“We are not a nation of justice. If we were … we would honor our debts. We would make just reparations to natives and African Americans who were compelled to migrate as slaves. What the nation owes to the Lakota [4] and Cherokee [5] alone amounts to more than what we will ultimately spend to destroy the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq – more even than our national debt.”

This nation has never made account for the crimes of genocide and slavery. Generation after generation of Americans were taught in our public schools that the native population had to give way to the manifest destiny of a superior civilization and the great Civil War was not fought to abolish the scourge of slavery but to preserve the union.

America may never be able to make just reparations for crimes against humanity on this scale but it is a discussion we desperately need to have. At the very least, if we taught our children the truth, we would no longer have to hear arguments by Supreme Court justices that the real problem now is reverse discrimination. We would no longer have to endure the prevailing opinion that affirmative action is no longer necessary.

I appeal to the Sanders campaign as one who supports his candidacy: Change your mind. If you cannot support reparations outright then at least support the Conyers bill to study the issue. Challenge your presidential opponents to do the same.

It is the right thing to do. It is what we expect of Bernie Sanders that we could never expect of Hillary Clinton.


[1] Native American History by Judith Nies, Ballantine Books, 1996.

[2] “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014.

[3] “Misconceptions in the Immigration Debate: What Would Crazy Horse Do?” Dissident Voice, May 19, 2006.

[4] Payment for the Black Hills and all the resources extracted there from in accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty.

[5] Recognized as a sovereign nation by the US Supreme Court (Worcester v. Georgia 1832) in a decision that was ignored by President Andrew Jackson who subsequently carried out the mass relocation recorded in history as The Trail of Tears.


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Saturday, January 16, 2016


[This Chronicle posted by CounterPunch.]


Ted Cruz & The Right to Rebellion

By Jack Random

We Americans are disparate group. Put a hundred of us in a room and we are likely to have ninety-nine opinions on any given subject. But one thing we can all agree on is this: We don’t like hypocrites. We especially don’t like hypocrisy when it comes from politicians who pretend to be the exception to the rule.

We especially don’t like hypocrisy from a presidential candidate who wants to be known as a straight shooter, a man who speaks his mind, never backs down and fearlessly defies political correctness.

Imagine the surprise in the Bundy camp when Senator Ted Cruz used their occupation of an Oregon federal wildlife refuge to take a giant step back from the second amendment right of citizens to take up arms against tyranny and to defend liberty against the forces of oppression, even to rebel against a lawless government.

Said Cruz recently on the campaign trail in Boone, Iowa: "Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds, but we don’t have a constitutional right to use force of violence or threaten force of violence on others." [1]

This is the same Ted Cruz who placed himself at the forefront of gun right advocates in a fundraising email in April 2015: “The second amendment…is a constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny -- for the protection of liberty." [2]

While the senator from Texas is always careful to phrase his thoughts for subsequent adjustment, there is no amount of parsing that can bring harmony to these conflicting statements on the right to bear and use arms. While the former incarnation of Senator Cruz seems to boldly proclaim the right of citizens to rebel against a tyrannical government, the more recent presidential incarnation seems downright pacifistic.

Which is it, Senator Cruz? Do citizens have the right to take up arms to protect our liberty or do we lack constitutional authority to use force or the threat of force in all cases whatsoever?

Maybe the senator doesn’t believe this particular case rises to the level of justifiable rebellion but that is not what his statement addresses. Maybe he doesn’t consider this particular federal government sufficiently tyrannical. That would not seem to be the case, as any number of his past statements will attest:

In January 2014, the senator wrote in a Wall Street Journal commentary: “Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat... In more than two centuries of our nation’s history there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal law and asking others to do the same.” [3]

In March 2014, addressing the Obama administration’s abuse of executive power: “If you care about liberty, an imperial president who defies his constitutional obligation to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ is an extraordinary threat to the liberty of this country... A president who is not bound by the law is no longer a president.” [4]

Addressing the president’s veto of a regressive environmental protection law in November 2015, Cruz said: “The president’s radical attempt to destabilize the nation’s energy system is flatly illegal… What the Obama administration is doing to harm the American economy is the sort of power grab that our founders would have recognized as tyranny.” [5]

Finally, addressing the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada, an event engaging many of the same militia rights activists involved in the Oregon siege, Cruz sang a very different tune on a Texas radio interview: “The reason this issue is resonating…is that for five years, we have seen our liberty under assault. We have seen our liberty under assault from a federal government that seems hell-bent on expanding its authority over every aspect of our lives.” [6]

What we have witnessed in the refusal of Senator Ted Cruz to stand up for the rights of a citizen militia against an oppressive government is by no means an evolution in the candidate’s thoughts or policies. There was no evolution. There was no hint of a change in thought. Rather, it is the calculation of a triangulating, conniving and consummate politician plotting his course to the presidency. The calculation is simple: Defending an armed militia bent on confronting the government at this time would threaten his recent surge in the polls.

We have all heard that Ted Cruz is not exactly what he appears to be. He is not a knee-jerk reactionary bent on recapturing the glory of the fifties, when America was pure and its leaders were almost uniformly white male Christians. No, Ted Cruz is a strategic mastermind. He’s Karl Rove with pretty eyes and a smile that never travels far from his lips. He sees an opportunity and he seizes it.

He lets the Donald take the lead and stands ready to take up the banner as a viable option when the Donald inevitably implodes. Like Mr. Trump, he is adept at manipulating the gun loving, tax hating, Muslim fearing, intolerant Christian fundamentalist right to his own ambitious purpose. He will say and do anything at any cost to anyone but himself if it will lead him to the promise land.

This was the first glimpse of the man behind the mask. It is not a pretty picture.

Voter Beware: He is not who you think he is. And the unsettling smell emanating from his general direction is not a dead rat; it is the stench of hypocrisy.


[1] Des Moines Register, January 4, 2016.

[2] “Ted Cruz’s Strange Gun Argument” by Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times, April 17, 2015.

[3] “The Imperial Presidency of Barack Obama” by Ted Cruz, Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2014.

[4] Breakfast Keynote: The Honorable Ted Cruz, Texas Public Policy Foundation, March 19, 2014.

[5] Video address to the Texas Public Policy Foundation: At the Crossroads: Energy and Climate Policy Summit, “Ted Cruz calls Obama’s ‘Radical’ Climate Plan ‘Tyranny” by Cole Mellino, EcoWatch, November 21, 2015.

[6] “Ted Cruz: Bundy Ranch Standoff ‘Tragic Culmination’ of Obama’s ‘Jackboot of Authoritarianism” submitted by Miranda Blue, Right Wing Watch, April 23, 2014.


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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I Want to Go Home, Part III 

[Editor's Note: A wise and impassioned voice from Malta.]

(Part Three - Conclusion)

By Joseph M. Cachia

You (could this well mean also you, dear reader?) took it away from me!

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

Archbishop Helder Camara

There is no place like home, but...

Don't be shocked! Just admit it. We're all hypocrites from time to time. Obviously, none of us try to be, but it can happen to the best of us and, as it turns out, it's not our direct fault, but rather caused through our corrupted media and perhaps our way of living. But the thought hardly exculpates us from the injustices and hardships we are causing.

One would like us to believe that creating a world of 'free trade' will promote global understanding, justice and peace and thus various organizations are invented, claiming the scope. On the contrary, the domination of international trade by rich countries for the benefit of their individual interests fuels anger and resentment and definitely makes us less just and safe, while it tramples on workers' and human rights.

In spite of impacting all aspects of society and the entire world, the WTO (World Trade Organization) is neither a democratic nor a transparent institution, while its structure enables the richer countries to win what they desire and consequently they are the prime and only benefactors. Likewise, the ILO (International Labour Organization), in spite of highlighting that the era of globalization has made many aspects of economic insecurity worse, has done next to nothing in this regard and consequently today we are still in the same distressing situation.

It's no secret that our leaders are hardly perfect, but there's a difference between blundering and flagrantly violating international treaties, breaking your own laws and throwing morality out of the window all in the name of making a quick profit.

It has been estimated that corruption costs around 120 billion euros each year to the EU (European Union) economy and surveys show that the problem has worsened in recent years – and this in spite of the harsh financial regulations reining in Europe. So one can hardly imagine what goes on in developing countries, such as those in the African continent, where you have free-for-all exploitation. I can't imagine poorer chaps than you and I through our hypocrite outlook towards this situation.

The story of African immigration is a long one, but its newest chapters are still being written today. Migrants and refugees streaming into Europe from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia have presented European leaders and policymakers with their greatest challenge.

The International Organization for Migration calls Europe the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean the world's most dangerous border crossing. Yet despite the escalating human toll, the European Union's collective response to its current migrant influx has been more focused on securing the bloc's borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees or, better still, securing stability in their homeland.

The West responds to economic crises with swift government intervention, while it tells Third World nations to do the opposite. Third World countries were ordered to cut government spending, allow private companies to take over state functions (like providing water, electricity and education), and borrow at extremely high interest rates. Wealth was created, but only at the top, while the rest of the country crumbled. We may believe colonialism is dead, but our treatment of the Third World countries reveals otherwise. We may not govern their countries directly, but the results are tragically similar. It is only the methods that differ. While we are suffering the same imposition, we want to play gods!

For more than half a century the Alpine nation of Switzerland has built a reputation as the world's center for tax evasion, fraud accounting, money laundering, racketeering, and above all a staunch ally of corrupt third-world leaders and a great beneficiary of third world corruption. But Switzerland has had it both ways with its hypocrisy and double standards. Her politicians condemn corruption in Africa and the third world while her banks make fortunes off that corruption.

But we must also stop to think why resource-rich African and other developing countries have done even more poorly than countries without resources and if Africa will ever benefit from its natural resources.

Africans live on a continent owned by Europeans! Isn't perhaps 'Africa without Africans' the dream of the local predatory, supremacist white minority? A recent report came out to challenge the well-spread deceptive idea that the West is pouring money into Africa through aid, without receiving much in return. All in contrary, the report proved that Africa through has lost up to 1.4 trillion (1,400,000,000,000) in illicit financial flows to the West from 1980 to 2009. This amount is 233 times the 60 billions foreign 'aid' Africa supposedly received every year from the West.

In Nigeria, the continent's biggest oil producer, at least $400bn of oil revenue has been stolen or misspent since independence in 1960. Meanwhile, 90% of people live on less than $2 per day.

In 1991, the government of Somalia, in the Horn of Africa, collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since, and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump their nuclear waste in their seas.

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation and now we have moved on to theirs.

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? “Why do I have to come to YOUR country to eat MY food?” they rightfully ask. And why did tiny Malta send its soldiers, not to help us, but to confront us for fighting for what is rightfully ours [Malta’s]? It is sincerely hoped that it will never find itself in our precarious position!

Not unlike the EU (European Union) exploitative maneuverings, much of the merchandise produced by U.S. companies and sold to U.S. consumers is manufactured by workers in third world countries who earn as little as 12 cents per hour, drudging away in harsh and even dangerous work environments, commonly known as 'sweatshops', especially common in apparel and shoe industries. But none are my relatives or friends and not close to me!

What is wrong with us? Do we not care? Are we so absorbed in our own lives or groups or in competition with others that pity for the less fortunate has disappeared from our souls? Do we justify our inaction by stubbornly holding on to weak excuses for our inactivity? How long are we going to continue to be misled by the media and by our governments as to ignore the glaring truth?

In all faith, we want to believe that possibly only perhaps 5% of the populace (mostly governmental) is responsible for these appalling crimes. But we can't help asking: Why are the 95% not doing anything or enough to stop it? Or worse still, abetting and aiding, though maybe unknowingly, these barbaric and cowardly dealings! Surely disgusted with this criminality, why don't you stop and think how you can change this predicament? Aren't you willing or brave enough to voice your protestation to make a change to all this?

However, environmental catastrophes yet loom on the horizon, and, even if the disasters can be averted, who wants to live in a world where inequality, manipulation, conflict, exploitation, alienation, and violence are so commonplace that we often hardly notice them? You may, but not this human!

Africans are now only guests on their own continent. The dream of [the] Europeans is to transform the whole African continent into an entire colony where a white minority owns and controls the local economy, while Africans are just like good consumers or their servants. If [it] materializes, it looks that, as the West would be occupying both continents, it won't make much difference where I, am immigrant, [end up] I'm always in your territory. Yes, you asked for this through your sheer greed, Europe!

It's not dependence; but colonization, because it's a situation where Europeans use brutal military force to maintain corrupted leaders who only will help them exploit the continent. Multinational corporations are the new colonizers in Africa. It is commonly known that various international business corporations, including those dealing in coffee shops, fast foods, shoes, clothing, toys and other similar products, continue to adopt a global policy aggressive towards suppliers and employees.

The Middle East hasn't fared much better. Beyond sanctions, the West's presence across the Middle East has had a negative impact on public perception both across the region and back home. This is owed to a larger pattern of hypocrisy, deceit, and meddling that has been done under various pretenses but for obvious self-serving interests.

Agreeing that child labor is wrong, and then not checking labels to see where your clothes are made! Ignorance is no excuse for this one since it is regularly reported by mainstream media that certain well-known brands use and abuse children to make clothing and other textile/leather goods. Who is not guilty of this from time to time?

Back home for most of us immigrant people there is only unemployment and underemployment, high mortality, little or no medical care, little or no schooling, poor housing, semi-starvation, rigid class structure and exploitation. It is undeniable that many, the high majority of well-meaning Western folk grieve for our sad predicament. But what is grief without wisdom, and what is wisdom without action? Wanting the latest technological gadget, even if it came from a country where people are oppressed? Do you know where your cell phone came from, who made it and how they were treated? Why should I care - it's the latest model!! So, this isn't necessarily you, although we suppose it could well be!

Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by justifiably blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. And this is totally refuted by our own Maltese government by pronouncing itself as 'pro-business' as if such ways differ. Pope Francis blames poverty on what other people are doing or not doing. Is our blame of 'omission'?

'What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? But wilt thou known, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?'

James 2:14,20

In his encyclical, the Pontiff said: "It is morally unacceptable, politically dangerous, environmentally unsustainable and economically unjustifiable for developing countries to continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future."

The West holds some tragic lessons for Africa concerning what happens when the sense of community is lost. News of old people dying in their homes, alone and with no one to care for them, undiscovered until months later, paint a scary picture of what happens when people forget one another.

We must heed the cry for justice, for natives' retrieval of lost lands, against violence, threats and corruption, for trampled human rights, against dire working conditions, slavery and human trafficking and the pollution of water, air and soil. We must acquire and cultivate the power of moral sanctions. Examples of moral resistance to injustice in the last millennium, and the associated lessons of leadership, are now examined for insights and essential truths we will need in order to keep our bearings in the next. Moral sanctions, however, are not expressed solely in words; to be made visible; they must be dramatized in deeds.

We face a defining choice between two contrasting models for organizing affairs. Give them the generic names: Empire and Earth Community.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

Jimi Hendrix

Joseph M. Cachia, Freelance Journalist
January 2016
Email: mailto:jmcachia@maltanet.net
Vittoriosa - Malta (Europe) / Tel: 21807566 - 99866151


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Donny Diamond & The Silly Season 




By Jack Random

The rage of the electorate on the far right of the political spectrum has extended the silly season far past its due date, enabling individuals completely unqualified for the presidency to pose as legitimate candidates. The only qualifications that matter during silly season are financial backing and notoriety.

The most notorious pretender this season is CEO and entrepreneur Donny Diamond, aka Donald Trump, who inherited vast wealth, built it into an empire and attempted to satisfy his insatiable ego by hosting a reality-based television show that captured a devoted fan base. It worked remarkably well but it was hardly enough for the Donald. He believes he can and should be anointed the next president of the United States and who’s to say he shouldn’t?

Despite his occasional forays into verboten policies like fair trade and unnecessary wars, he remains by and large the darling of rightwing radio. The Donald, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage are made of the same stuff, feeding on conspiracy theory, inventing facts to attract an audience and justify their view of the world. The folks at FOX, mindful that Donny thrives on the attacks of his adversaries, practice neutrality and wait for his campaign to implode.

What will they do if the Diamond Jubilee continues into the primary season? Nobody knows for sure. My guess is the party players and power brokers will make a simple calculation: Can they work with him or not? The Donald would not be the first ignorant candidate with an ego the size of Texas that they placed in the Oval Office. The last one launched a couple of catastrophic wars and nearly blew up the global economy. Other than that it went just fine. The players made out like the bandits they in fact were. They made a fortune and squared it. Mission accomplished.

That said: No one in the power structure seriously wants an egomaniac in the most powerful office on earth. Say what you will, little George was always manageable. He did what he was told. If the train ran off the tracks, you can no more blame George than you can the public spokesperson for Halliburton or BP for the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. It wasn’t his job.

If they determine that the Donald is in fact unworkable, he will be eliminated. By hook or by crook, he will be eliminated. Donny Boy may think he’s king of the world but there are dozens if not hundreds richer and thousands if not millions brighter and more knowledgeable in the game he has chosen to engage. Donny either plays ball or he’s tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Donny plays ball. He’s said it all along: He’s a negotiator. Only on this table he is the apprentice and what the power players must determine is: Can they trust him? Four years is a long time for a loose cannon with nuclear missiles at his disposal. The amount of harm he could do is immeasurable and quite possibly irreversible.

Guided by the principle that it is better to deal with a known enemy than an unknown adversary, even if the Donald is allowed to grab the golden ring and captures the nomination of the Grand Old Party, the power brokers will cut their losses in the general election. Of course, the “known enemy” metaphor fails because the anointed one in the Democratic Party is neither an enemy nor an adversary. Hillary Clinton is a friend to Wall Street and any friend to Wall Street is in turn a friend to every big banking and big business concern on the planet.

The power brokers and their elite clients may prefer Republican policies but they are more than comfortable with a second coming of the Clinton administration.

Here’s where it gets tricky. To date there is only one serious challenger to Clinton in the Democratic Primaries and old Uncle Bernie is not acceptable to the power structure. That is why, of course, former Governor Martin O’Malley continues to hang on despite his low poll numbers. He sounds all the right chords for a progressive Democrat and faces none of the criticism the Sanders campaign confronts yet he fails to attract a significant following.

Push all the derision from the left aside, Bernie may not be the pureblood democratic socialist of the Howard Zinn mode, but he is far too progressive to be allowed anywhere near the White House. As president he would reopen the healthcare debate with Medicare for All front and center. He would strengthen rather than curtail Social Security. He would fight hard and long for meaningful Wall Street and banking reform. He would push to restructure the tax burden and resist the relentless call to perpetual war.

If for any reason (an email revelation, a scandal featuring the DNC data breach or some new and unforeseen debacle) the Clinton campaign stumbles and falls, the power brokers will not allow an Uncle Bernie versus The Donald showdown in the main event. It is an inconceivable outcome of a contrived and highly controlled process. It cannot and will not happen.

The power structure loves a fixed game. They like a game in which both sides serve their interests. From here on, the players that control the reins of power will protect Hillary Clinton at all costs and they will find a way to eliminate Donny Diamond from the playing field.

Mark it, post and save: The Donald is going down.

To paraphrase former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (in reference to the CIA coup that supplanted president Salvador Allende with dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile, September 11, 1973): There is far too much at stake to allow our interests to be determined or indeed influenced by the will of the people.



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Friday, November 27, 2015



Paris 13 November 2015

By Jack Random

At first we are stunned, senses deadened, mind and body paralyzed.
We see without seeing, hear without sound, absorb without taste, touch or smell.
It is not real.
It is a video game, a you-tube contrivance, a trick of the mind.
At length it seeps into our conscious minds.
We deny it as if denying can make it stop.
It does not stop.

Our senses kick in and we are overwhelmed with horror.
We fear and our fear breeds contempt and contempt yields to anger and anger becomes rage and rage cries out for revenge.
We hate because we sorrow and sorrow cannot fill the void.
We mourn not to heal but to bury the pain.
We send our soldiers off to war to make them suffer as we have suffered.
We wreak a horrible vengeance and it numbs our senses.

We are stunned, deadened, paralyzed.
It is not real.

Only time can heal the wounds of Paris. We are in mourning but our need for vengeance has not yet been fulfilled. We have arrived at the most dangerous phase of the response cycle where any actions we might take will almost certainly be unwise yet act we must. The need takes hold of our collective soul and overwhelms.

At this stage in our response to September 11 we set our sights on the Taliban and launched the Long War in Afghanistan, a war that continues to this day. Contrary to neocon mythology, a mythology perpetuated by our current president, the Taliban did not intentionally harbor international terrorists, the Taliban did not bring Al Qaeda to their country (the CIA did), the Taliban did not arm Al Qaeda (the CIA did) and the Taliban did not refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden. They offered to hand him over to an international tribunal and we refused the offer. We did not crush Al Qaida in Afghanistan. We did not kill or capture Osama bin Laden.

Our need for vengeance unfulfilled, we moved on to Iraq and launched another war that continues to this day. In a strategic blunder of epic proportions, we captured and killed Saddam Hussein (letting the Iraqis carry out the deed), destroying a delicate balance of power in the world’s most dangerous region. That our actions gave rise to the Islamic State and the chaos that reigns throughout the Middle East today is the litmus test that divides historians from propagandists.

Americans will recall that the French took the lead, standing almost alone among European nations, in opposing our march to war in Iraq. We condemned them in the strongest terms, all but accusing them of aiding the enemy, for offering truth to power. By now we should all know and accept that they were right and we were wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no connection to September 11. Saddam Hussein was in fact an enemy of Al Qaeda.

Had we listened to the French then the world would look very different today. But we were in no mood to listen to anyone. The United Nations Security Council voted down our motion for war and we did not listen. Three million people took to the streets in a single day of protest, the largest demonstration in history, and we did not listen. Every foreign policy expert who did not drink from the poisoned well of the neocon imperialist vision warned us of the dangers in occupying Iraq but we did not listen.

We cannot know what follows. We can only hope that we have learned something from the past. Not the distant past, not the failures of the British and French empires, not Viet Nam or Algiers: We know we have learned little of value from these failures. We can only hope that we have learned something from the immediate past, the living past, the current nightmare born of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among the lessons we should have learned:

That we cannot and should not invade and occupy foreign nations that pose no existential threat to us or indeed our allies without dangerous, unpredictable and potentially disastrous consequences.

That we cannot and should not engage militarily in what is fundamentally a civil war, involving the powers of a foreign land.

Despite its ambition, ISIS is not a nation but it is a regional power that has engaged in the civil wars of Syria and Iraq. ISIS is not an existential threat to any nation outside the region. It is an existential threat to the governments of Iraq and Syria but neither can be considered our ally at this juncture – except perhaps in the abstract world of strategic maneuvering. It is a threat to the Kurds, a people without a nation and an enemy to Turkey, our official NATO ally.

The situation quickly escalates to the complicated level of a master chess game. The Kurds despise the Turks with their history of genocide and the Turks would like to see the Kurdish military force decimated – perhaps as much as ISIS. The Saudis, whose teachings produced Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, have their own problem with radical elements but their primary concern is the rise of Iran. Like the western world, Iran is fundamentally opposed to ISIS but unlike the western world supports Bashar al-Assad, the beleaguered president of Syria.

Enter the Russians, playing four sides against the middle to protect their own interests and the presidency of Assad. ISIS takes down a Russian passenger plane and then, in a strategic move of mind-numbing audacity, Turkey shoots down a Russian fighter jet.

It is a minefield and a very dangerous game. The potential for intended or unintended disasters are everywhere.

We are already engaged in an intensive bombing campaign. Now, in the wake of Paris, there is talk of a grand coalition to defeat and destroy ISIS by military means. All the media experts agree: It requires a large and long commitment of soldiers on the ground.

Never mind that ISIS cannot be defeated and destroyed militarily. ISIS represents a religious ideology and that ideology appeals to a significant portion of the Islamic population. An ideology representing millions of people cannot be destroyed on the battlefield. To the contrary such an effort would reinforce their belief that they are engaged in a holy war. It would increase their appeal to young devotees.

If we were to defeat ISIS on the ground, its soldiers would fold back into the population and rise again when our eyes inevitably turn elsewhere. If it sounds familiar, it should. It happened in Iraq. If we occupied the Middle East a hundred or a thousand years – something we cannot, should not and will not do – the outcome would be the same.

It is difficult and unpopular to advise caution and patience in the wake of the Paris attack. I love Paris. I love its people, its spirit and its love of art. I love a culture that embraces creative minds and makes the irreverence of Charlie Hebdo possible. I mourn the loss of innocence and the loss of lives. I mourn for who they might have been and what they might have contributed to this world had their lives not ended on a bloody Friday evening in the city of lights.

I am myself still going through the cycle of response to this tragedy but I have drawn one conclusion and it is my duty to advise France as France advised us after September 11: Vengeance is not the way.

The powers in the region must address the threat of ISIS and the problem of radical Islam. It took centuries for Christians to abandon the crusades. It seems Islam is still working on it. The Turks must decide that the threat of ISIS overrides their fear and hatred of the Kurds. The Saudis must similarly decide that ISIS is their primary threat and recognize that their own Islamic teachings are at least part of the problem.

What we should not do is what the leaders of ISIS no doubt want: Holy war in the Middle East.

Je suis Paris.



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Monday, October 26, 2015

Cigar Store Indian by Chris Mansel 

Cigar store Indian carries a gun
shoots white people and doesn't run
He's been dealing with this since Bull Run
White People come and they take his land
sit him out front and they shake his hand
Cigar store Indian carries a gun
shoots white people and doesn't run
lock his people on tiny dirty land
tell him he can't even be a man
Cigar store Indian carries a gun
protests peacefully over Leonard Peltier's
imprisonment in federal land
No one cares except for comrades
and the sympathetic woman and man

Chris Mansel



Sunday, August 23, 2015


PRESS RELEASE: August 29, 2015.

On the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in New Orleans, Crow Dog Press is pleased to announce the publication of Number Nine: The Adventures of Jake Jones and Ruby Daulton by Jack Random.

Written in twenty-seven cinematic scenes, complete with its own soundtrack, Ruby Jones picks up hitchhiker Jake Jones somewhere outside of Bakersfield and together they embark on a cross-country adventure filled with intrigue, mysticism and danger. Confronting sex-crazed bikers, forces of nature, the wrath of an angry mob boss and the betrayal of friends, they survive by reading the signs and exploiting their special talents until the King of the New Orleans underground, driven by his infatuation with Ruby, captures and transports her to the Big Easy on the Mississippi Riverboat Queen, leaving Jake unconscious in a Memphis hotel.

In the mold of Billie Holiday, Ruby is in fact a singer of rare and extraordinary talent. Pale Louie keeps her in a drug-induced haze, letting her sing in his underground kingdom every night. Word gets out and Ruby captures the heart of the Easy, becoming a legend in her own time.

Jake possesses Kachina magic and employs all his skills in a concerted effort to rescue Ruby from her captivity. Armed with a bundle of cash won in a poker game, he makes allies in the underground and wins the respect of Louie’s most trusted servant. With the help of his friends he stages an improbable rescue and seeks refuge in a safe house in the lower ninth ward.

It is the summer of 2005, America is engaged in multiple wars and a storm named Katrina has her own date with destiny in New Orleans.

Rain pounding and wind howling with the rage of a hurricane, a determined Louie tracks Jake and Ruby down just as the levees give way. Pale Louie is swept away into the swampy waters of Lake Pontchartrain where dozens if not hundreds of his past victims are rumored to await him.

Jake and Ruby must finally survive the ravages of Katrina and its devastating aftermath. After all the challenges, the dangers and hardships, not only on their journey but throughout their young lives, they will not back down.

“Nothing could stop them. They had the magic of destiny and the medicine of the crow. They were a force of nature, undeniable and pure. Like Bonnie and Clyde, Cisco and Poncho, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they were bound for glory on the road of adventure and nothing but nothing could stand in their way!”

Number Nine will be available on Amazon beginning August 29.

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