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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

CONFESSIONS OF A KERRY ADVOCATE 

A CALL TO ACTION
By Jack Random

The election is over. The ballots have been cast and the people have rendered a decision. Coming on the heels of the millennial election, it remains to be seen if that decision will be honored or if it will once again be thrown into the court of political operatives and the absurdly anti-democratic Electoral College.

In any event, win, lose or draw, the election is over and the first chapter of the latest incarnation of the antiwar movement has reached its final punctuation. Let there be no ambiguity: the cause is neither won nor lost. The occupation of Iraq has not ended. Afghanistan remains a dysfunctional nation. We have not reached the summer of peace, love and understanding; we have only survived the winter of our discontent.

Those who would stand down now never belonged in the army of resisters that marched in the streets throughout much of the world. We began this journey knowing that it would be long and trying. We appealed to the courage that is born of conviction. We renew that appeal today. We are fighting a war, not the manner of its conduct. Those who believe that a Democrat in the White House guarantees a real change in foreign policy have not studied their history. It was a Democrat that invented the Gulf of Tonkin incident to transform a disturbing conflict in Southeast Asia into a devastating war, costing the lives of millions, including 58,000 American soldiers. It was a Democrat that established the policy of regime change in Iraq and enforced the most punitive illegal sanctions the world has ever known.

It was never about John Kerry; it was always about Bush.

The time has now arrived for all individuals of conscience to come home. The time has come to claim the alliances that were born in the antiwar movement. Independents, Greens, Libertarians and the ideologues of the left have found common cause. The time has come for disenchanted party loyalists to stand with those who have stood against the tide of war from day one. The time has come to lift the veil of compromise, to break the vow of silence, to clear the filth from our faces and the stench from our souls.

Never again.

Never again will we be compelled to choose between a butcher and a bagman. Never again will we throw our support to a party on the take, collecting contributions from the same corporate entities that demand global dominance, that strip the world of its resources, that bankrupt all nations that fall for their flimflam game, and that demand blood for oil, truth, justice and democracy be damned!

Never again.

Never again will we be lulled into passivity by the empty promise of a Democratic administration. The time to acknowledge the sorry truth has arrived. The prosperity of the nineties was in some measure built on the bubble of fraudulent accounting. The legacy of Bill Clinton, welfare reform and free trade, more resembles the wish list of Newt Gingrich than that of Franklin Roosevelt. The time for reckoning has come. The Clinton administration reigned over the deadliest and most abused sanctions in history and, when challenged to rationalize the death of a half million Iraqi children, replied: We think it is worth the price. The liberation of Kosovo (wag the dog) was a disaster founded on lies and deception. The Clinton foreign policy was no more and no less than a warm up for the Bush Doctrine and its ensuing invasions. Moreover, in a perfect symbol of promise betrayed, Clinton kowtowed to the FBI, leaving Leonard Peltier to rot in a federal penitentiary.

My vote for president of the United States in the year 2004 did not go to Democrat John Kerry. My vote was a vote of conscience for a political prisoner, the victim of a federal government terrorist operation in Pine Ridge, North Dakota, for a martyr of the sacred ground of Wounded Knee. Until Leonard Peltier is free, we are all prisoners of conscience. Until Peltier is allowed to walk through the iron gates of oppression, American justice is a hollow promise and American democracy a shattered dream.

If I seem bitter, it is because I am. Among the many crimes of George W. Bush, with his mandate from God, his unabashed patronage of the elite, his salivation over the prospect of unending war, his exploitation of the blood of the innocent dead, his development of tactical nuclear weapons, his resurrection of Star Wars, was the compromise of the soul he compelled.

Never again.

When an individual buries the truth too long, when he betrays that part of himself that touches the core of his being, it is not easily explained away. It is not easily forgotten nor should it be. It must give rise to a healthy rage. It must be unleashed in a storm of retribution.

We have dealt with the devil but we have not sacrificed our souls and we will never deal again.

The time for the truth has come.

Against our better judgment, against all that we believe and hold dear, we have given our all to make John Kerry president. If he should win the election, he will hold no marker greater than that of the antiwar movement. We showed him the way, stiffened his spine, and all but guided him to the White House door, but it was never about Kerry. It was always about Bush. John Kerry was not the candidate of the antiwar movement. Having voted for the abdication of war powers and the Patriot Act, he was in fact the antithesis of an antiwar candidate. Howard Dean might have championed the cause but he dropped the banner at shock and awe, long before the infamous scream. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton never approached the viability of Ralph Nader and Nader never approached the threshold of faith. The stakes were far too high for yet another symbolic march of protest so we swallowed our pride, compromised our convictions, and took a temporary vow of pragmatism for peace. There were many, many occasions when the candidate pushed us to the edge of open rebellion (or worse yet, passive resolve) but we held strong.

If I sound ungracious, let me be clear: I would like nothing more than to eat my own words in this regard. If John Kerry becomes president and demonstrates the courage to withdraw from Iraq and redirect our foreign policy within a reasonable timeframe, he will have earned the support we have given him. If he does not, he will have earned our righteous scorn.

The one thing we can be sure of is that the next president will not answer to the people without the voice of a million protesters in the streets of America. We owe him that much and, more importantly, we owe it to ourselves.

The time to prepare for the 2008 election is now. We desperately need new candidates at all levels of government. We need organizations in all states. We need to unify disparate camps under the banner of Independence. We cannot afford to wait.

The time has come to renew the pledge of the independence movement for only when we have broken free of two parties controlled by the same corporate interests will we be given a true choice of leadership. It is a scandal surpassing the election fraud of 2000 that the party of opposition could not give the people a clear referendum on the war in Iraq in the year 2004.

Never again.

The most important demonstration against the war and, more importantly, against the war machine, is not in our past but in our immediate future. The call has gone out to every man, woman and child of conscience to stand up and be counted on Inauguration Day. No matter who is in the Oval Office at the end of the Inaugural Parade, January 20, 2005 must go down as the day we shook the earth to her core.

Jazz.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

NOT IN THE NAME OF JESUS 

By Jack Random

If the Christian version of the word is truth, then Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and George W. Bush will have some explaining to do. I do not know what force of spirit guides the thoughts and actions of these men but they do no honor to the philosophy and character of the man known as Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not a writer or, if he was, his written word did not survive the ensuing ages. What we know of Jesus we learn from the accounts of others.

When Jesus walked the earth, he was a voice of enlightenment. In the tradition of Confucius, the Tao and the Zen masters of the Orient, he preached a morality of tolerance, understanding, peace, love and equality, reserving his wrath for the money changers, an oppressive government bent on world domination, and the priesthood that supported both.

From The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine:

“That such a person as Jesus Christ existed and that he was crucified…are historical relations strictly within the limits of probability. He preached most excellent morality and the equality of man; but he preached also against the corruptions and avarice of the Jewish priests, and this brought upon him the hatred and vengeance of the whole order of priesthood.

“The accusation which those priests brought against him was that of sedition and conspiracy against the Roman government…and it is not improbable that the Roman government might have some secret apprehensions of the effects of his doctrine, as well as the Jewish priests; neither is it improbable that Jesus Christ had in contemplation the delivery of the Jewish nation from the bondage of the Romans. Between the two, however, this virtuous reformer and revolutionist lost his life.”

In his time and place, Jesus was a dissident whose greatest crime was that he crossed the threshold of influence. His voice was being heard and the powers of the day would not allow his ideas to grow to fruition. He died not so much for our sins as for standing up against the established order.

If the spirit lives on and Jesus is walking the earth today, then I believe he has walked with me. He was on the streets of San Francisco when ten million people worldwide stood up in opposition to war. He was with a young Palestinian girl walking to school when she was gunned down by an Israeli commander. He was in the rubble of a Fallujah wedding party when American bombs were used to punish a city of resistance. He was in a crowd of some twenty civilians (who may or may not have been insurgents), walking calmly down a cobblestone lane when they were wiped from existence in the flash of an American missile.

The rightwing religious zealots (like the littlest Baldwin at the Republican National Convention), who claim to be following Jesus as they lend their support to the Bush Doctrine of eternal war, ought to have acquired a greater appreciation for the character of the man, himself. If you want to spread the scourge of war to the four corners of the planet, do not do so in the name of Jesus.

If Jesus could be seen and heard today, his sadness would be pervasive. He would sigh from the depths of his soul and say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Churches no more belong in politics than bankers belong in churches.

Jazz.

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