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Saturday, July 31, 2004

SEA TO SEA 

REFLECTIONS OF A JOURNEYMAN ON THE WAR CHRONICLES
BY DAVID BRUNER

Hey Jack,

was given your cd WAR CHRONICLES at a postapocalyptic newnation party in
Brooklyn over the weekend.

have been itching to get my self to one of the celebration/parties organized
by complacent.org among others.

found m self thirsting and opted for the more accessable cup of earl grey
instead of the mob at the beer counter.

where upon this cd was proffered by a kindred soul.

so cool in its printed page origami cover and underground current.

all the way, now, to Kingston, NY where I finally listened to it.

it engenders instantly images of a video accompaniment.

it needs to be on radio. via pirates.

wonder if how much it would take for wkze to play it at midnight? at noon?

Thank you for the clear, positive-energy innoculation.

David

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THE HYPOCRITICAL OATH 

THE CONTRADICTIONS OF GEORGE W. BUSH

By Jack Random

In a moment of candor during the presidential debates, candidate George W. Bush expressed the opinion that America should not be engaged in “nation building.” His team of foreign policy advisors spent months preparing their candidate. Was the president unaware that the Bush Doctrine would be a prescription for nation building or was this just the first in a series of contradictions and inconsistencies which, taken together, would draw a portrait of hypocrisy? When he placed his hand on the bible to take his oath of office, was it an oath of allegiance or oath of deception?

In its justification for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration proclaimed the right and duty to strike anywhere at any time before a threat to this nation’s security emerged. Nations across the globe shuddered at the prospect of the awesome power of the American military unleashed upon the world without the constraints of international law and universal conventions of warfare. For the first time in history, a nation was overtly claiming exemption to the cardinal rule of international behavior: the prohibition against wars of aggression.

Few were persuaded that America’s motives were purely or primarily humanitarian but, in the ever-shifting rationale for war (imminent threat, sponsorship of 9-11, connections to Al Qaeda, liberation, democracy – anything but oil), the administration has raised the bar of mendacity to new heights. Even as they accuse their opponent of inconsistency, the contradictions of George W. Bush are without precedent.

In the State of the Union Address, the president pledged $18 billion to the battle against AIDS. He later tied AIDS funding to his anti-abortion agenda and protection of the pharmaceutical industries monopoly on prescription drugs. Only a trickle of funding has been implemented. Was this a change in policy or did the president know all along that it was an empty promise?

In promoting his education reform package, the president promised to leave no child behind. Subsequently, he has severely under-funded his own program, advocated public funding of private education, leaving every other child behind in ill equipped and financially strapped public schools. Was this a shift in policy or was the initial promise a cynical smokescreen?

Perhaps the candidate’s most salient message in his campaign for the White House was his pledge to be “a uniter, not a divider,” yet his administration has alienated much of Europe, the United Nations, and Islamic peoples all over the world. He refuses even to meet with opposition leaders in Congress. The nation is as divided as it ever has been as the administration peddles fear and delivers wedge issues to increase the divide. It would be difficult to imagine a more devoted effort to break down national unity than the Bush administration has delivered. If the president was sincere in his pledge of unity then his position has clearly changed.

In his pre-conceived rush to war, the president promised the United States Congress that he would work with the United Nations and that he would go to war only as a last resort. The Secretary of State proceeded to present the most blatantly false case for war ever to grace the chamber of the Security Council, the president assembled a coalition of the coerced, the inspections process was slandered and undermined, and the president went to war as scheduled on the anniversary of his father’s invasion. Was the president sincere and, if so, when was his policy reversed?

When the 9-11 Commission was proposed by Congress, the president opposed it. When the Families of 9-11 insisted, he shifted his position and implemented a policy of non-cooperation, suppression, resistance and, finally, politicization of the Commission itself. He has said he wants the truth but he has blocked the path in every conceivable way. Now, as it becomes clear he has not taken the necessary measures to prevent another catastrophe, he fails to support the commission recommendations. Where is the consistency? Where is integrity?

On September 13, 2001, the president stood at ground zero and swore that he would bring the people responsible to justice. Clearly, the subsequent focus on Saddam Hussein was a major shift in policy. We lost the trail of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden when we turned our attention to the invasion of Iraq.

John Kerry’s flaw is that he has played ball with too many administrations. He played ball with Bill Clinton on welfare reform. He played ball on Free Trade. He played ball with the Bush administration on education reform. He played ball on the policy of regime change and the abdication of congressional war powers. Too often, he was fooled by disingenuous politicians. He was not alone. As a senator, he embraced the role of power broker. It is in fact fortunate that he has changed his brokered positions. Hopefully, he has learned from his mistakes. If he is to be faulted for supporting policies not entirely consistent with his own, it is a message to all other members of congress: do not compromise for the opposition will use it against you.

What is the president’s excuse? Was he misinformed and misguided by his own advisors? Why then has he not learned from his mistakes? His steadfast refusal to acknowledge mistakes, errors in judgment, inconsistencies in policy and positions, is not a virtue that grants him redemption; it is the ultimate condemnation.

We have a president who believes he has led the country wisely and well. He has united the world against us. With his free trade and corporate tax incentives, he has delivered jobs to third world nations at slave labor wages while replacing good American jobs with low-wage, unskilled labor jobs. (If the trend continues, there may be no middle class left.) He has promised prescription drug benefits and delivered a Ponzi scheme for the pharmaceutical industry. The economy has stalled and monetary policy (reduced interest rates) has already run its course. He has delivered our soldiers, National Guard and Reserves, into a war we can never win in a part of the world brimming with resentment of our policies and our wars. He has made the enemy stronger while weakening our alliances.

The president’s positions and policies are in constant flux because he has failed in every endeavor he has undertaken. Even now, as the “coalition of the willing” dissolves in the desert sand, he proclaims himself an internationalist, preempting the policy of John Kerry, and believes we will not recognize the contradiction.

“Fool me once…”

There is nothing more dangerous than a leader who can never be wrong.


Jazz.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

INDEPENDENCE DEFERRED 

THE CASE FOR ADVOCATING KERRY

By Jack Random

“The American nation has been cheated out of self-government by a system that allows itself to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. There is no democracy where the only candidates are those who have already signed the party loyalty oath.” Jazzman Chronicles, Volume I.

There is no stronger advocate of the Independence Movement (third party and independent candidates) than the author of the Jazzman Chronicles. It is the first cause and primary motivation for my entry into the forum of American political discourse. I believe – as Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and even the aristocratic John Adams believed – that party politics is a scourge on democracy and the greatest enemy she will ever confront. I believe that the only means of securing true democracy in America is to break down the stranglehold of the major parties on the political process. I believe that Republicans and Democrats are no longer ideologically or qualitatively distinct and that both are controlled by the same corporate interests.

Believing as I do that a reaffirmation of democracy is dependent on the success of the Independence Movement, how then can I arrive at the conclusion that now is the time for deference?

I condemn with little compassion the philosophy of so-called progressives who decry all votes for independent or third party candidates as meaningless. One could as readily dismiss all votes for Republicans and Democrats as meaningless for, on the grander scale, they only perpetuate the status quo and no action is required for such a result. I hold this as a fundamental truth in the core of my being and still I advocate deference.

There is such a thing as a greater wrong.

I am against not only the war and occupation of Iraq; I am against the policies that have produced the most dangerous acceleration of American imperialism in history. We are confronted with a doctrine that has already declared forty years of war. Now that declaration is being transformed into a war of the century. Shall we remain ideologically pure as uncounted thousands of innocent dead are transformed into uncounted millions and generation after generation falls beneath the shadow of that fateful September morn?

There is such a thing as a greater wrong.

I appeal to you as a member of the human race. The current administration has unleashed a plague upon the earth. It is our solemn and united duty to eradicate it while there is still time. We cannot conquer Rome in a single day but we can stop this administration in its tracks. If we continue down the path of divisiveness, we will not only render ourselves powerless once again, we will give credence to the tired cliché: the left always destroys itself.

A banner at the protests in Boston reads: NO TO BUSH, KERRY, NADER. Is this the logical conclusion of the antiwar movement? Is this where we have arrived? Shall we advocate boycotting the election? Is there some other choice that evades me? Where are our candidates for Congress? Where are our candidates for City Council? Where are our benefactors? Why is there no National Independence Convention? Have we retreated to some imaginary realm where those who are most pure are delivered roles of leadership?

I agree wholeheartedly with Howard Zinn when he argues that those who do not live in battleground states are free to vote for whomever they choose without fear of consequences. I have come to recognize, however, that it is a dangerous line. To split our advocacy according to geography, however well founded in fact, is self-defeating. Common citizens (and I count myself among them) wish to believe that their votes matter. They desire something and someone to vote for, not a pragmatic rationalization. If we cannot offer them a clear, well-reasoned alternative (and this time we cannot), then we must advocate the candidacy of John Kerry.

Swallow hard. Do whatever you must do to acknowledge the political reality of the day: John Kerry is infinitely better than George W. Bush. Securing a Kerry presidency is the logical next step toward achieving our objectives: An end to the war and occupation, progress in the Middle East, a more enlightened foreign policy, an improved economy for the working class, an end to the erosion of civil liberties, greater tolerance for all communities, better education for all our children, a return to the separation of church and state, media reform, electoral reform, environmental protection, and the development of alternative energy resources.

While John Kerry is not the solution to systemic failure, while he is not the answer to America’s greatest needs, he is the man of the hour and his success will move us forward on all fronts.

There is such a thing as a greater wrong.

We are called upon to defer the cause, not to sacrifice our souls. We are called upon to swallow our pride, not a poison pill. We are called upon to compromise in order to move the cause forward, not to bury it. We are called to move – if only temporarily – from the cause of Independence to the cause of peace. We are called to the greater good.

When we have delivered the White House, we will stand before the new president and demand to be heard.

I give you this solemn promise (which is nothing more than the promise I give myself): When George Bush is defeated and his doctrine of war is permanently etched in the annals of archaic thought, I will be among the first to take to the streets in protest. My voice will cry out as never before:

Bring the troops home now!

End the occupation!

Independence now and forever!


Jazz.

The War Chronicles (Jazzman Chronicles, Volume II) is now available at City Lights Books SF and Amazon.com.

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DAVID WENT TO CANADA...& JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN 

by Jack Random
www.dissidentvoice.org
July 17, 2004

David went to Canada, Dick received a college deferment, Charlie was granted conscientious objector status, George joined the National Guard, Sam was classified 4-F, and Johnny got his gun (see Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Get Your Gun).

We all remember what happened to Johnny. He was shot down in Nam, a victim of the Tet Offensive, reduced to the unending nightmare of a living, thinking mind trapped in a body paralyzed to the eyes. He learned to communicate by blinking and by blinking he communicated the horror that was his life.

To those who believe that military conscription is the answer to our growing need for soldiers: There never was and never will be an equitable draft. Those who believe that the inequities of the past can be corrected by legislative means have lost contact with reality. The wealthy and elite will never serve involuntarily and those who volunteer will serve in a manner their wealthy and elite parents demand.

The heroism of John Kerry and John Fitzgerald Kennedy belies the greater truth: The commanders of our military forces are neither fools nor morality’s slaves. They know who butters the bread and who stands between them and promotion. They will not send the prodigal sons and daughters of the ruling class to glorious death on the battlefields of foreign lands.

Johnny got his gun because he was nobody’s son, because he had no pedigree, because he had no connections to members of congress or secretaries of state, and because no one bothered to tell him the truth. No one bothered to tell him there were alternatives. Johnny got his gun because Johnny was a common boy who would never grow into a common man. Johnny got his gun because his life did not matter and his name was not on the social register.

Military conscription is a crime against humanity. Rationalizing the morality of an equitable draft is like condoning slavery or forced prostitution if it can be applied to all victims without prejudice. How is it easier to compel a child to kill than to force a child into hard labor or acts of depraved sex? It is an abomination and one that any mother understands by gut instinct.

Future generations will look back on this practice in wonder and amazement at how primitive this culture was, at how callously we sent our young and innocent souls to their ends, at how carelessly we threw away the best of our species, and how cruel we were to condemn the powerless to horrors beyond belief.

Johnny got his gun and 58,000 of his brothers came home in a box. The Vietnamese did not require conscription yet millions of their Johnnies died by our conscripted hands. Hundreds of thousands of Johnny’s brothers came home with broken bodies and hundreds of thousands more came home with broken hearts, broken minds, broken spirits, and souls shattered by the gruesome realities of war.

Will we send our Johnny off to war once again? Will we add our Mary to the parade? Will we explain to them why they must march? Will we explain why they must die? Will we ask them if they have a different mind? Will we disdain them if they do?

There is no greater scourge on society than to have condemned its own children to the hell of war. There is no greater shame a parent can bear than to have sent a child to the killing fields. There is no child that can understand or forgive such betrayal. There is no medicine that can heal such deep wounds.

Cry, America! Weep for your children! For as sure as votes go uncounted in Florida, your children will be compelled to war.

The people who now hold the reigns of power in this nation have begun to change their tune. When once they spoke of decades of war, now they speak of centuries. If we do not stand up to them now, we are condemned to mourn forever. If we do not stop them while there is still time, our great grandchildren will curse our remains.

We know the way to right this wrong, to end this nightmare and to settle this war on terror. It does not require greater armies and greater weapons; it requires greater understanding. It does not require commanders and warriors; it requires diplomats and peacemakers. War itself is the curse of human kind. We must find a better way.

We have no business in Iraq. Let us withdraw and make amends as best we can. Let us devote our resources, our genius, our devotion and raw effort to the development of alternative sources of energy.

If America harnesses the power of the sun, the power of wind and running water, and the power of ingenuity, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. If we no longer need the remains of dinosaurs, Johnny will not need a gun.

And Johnny’s mother will not need to cry herself to sleep.

Jazz.

[The War Chronicles is at City Lights SF and Amazon.com.]

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