Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Tale of Two Deserters "The Big Decision"

When I decided to quit the Air Force, it was just that, a clear level headed decision. I knew that once it started, there would be no going back. I was playing for keeps, just like the Air Force.

I knew a guy who had gotten out by going AWOL at every opportunity. He would take off, go and do what ever, then reappear at the base, just before the end of the thirty day 'grace period'. After that you were listed with the FBI and a search was begun. Theoretically, you could be charged with desertion after thirty days.

He'd catch hell and get punishment details and the next time he got paid, poof, he's gone again. It took him almost two years. Much of that time spent in the stockade.

By the time I made the final decision, it was past time to go. I couldn't see wasting another day of my life under military control. Control of ones own life was what it was all about, to me. I resented every day of this involuntary and pointless servitude.

My intention was to reclaim my freedom and to reclaim and rebuild my life, some where else. Europeans had once come to America, to escape this very sort of thing, in the 'old world'. In the late 60s and early 70s, young Americans were escaping America. Now, in 2004, they are looking for safe harbor, once again.

I have a very clear memory of the moment I made the final decision to quit the war machine. I was sitting in my old 50 Chevy, in a dark parking lot in downtown Birmingham. I had a tight sweaty grip on an old twenty two caliber,. single shot target pistol, I had just stolen from a friend.

Feeling bitter, angry, hopeless, and helpless, in the face of the Air Force and the US government, certain I was morally right but knowing that didn't matter, I thought of taking the quick way out, with the pistol.

I was being sent to Thailand. About the best duty I could have hoped for. Much more interesting than a stateside assignment with very little of the danger presented in Vietnam, just across the border.

My room mate who had just returned from a tour in Thailand told me, many times, that the only real danger in Thailand was in the bars and on the flight line if one was too brainless from the festivities at the bars.

But, I would be loading bombs and munitions and launching the planes just miles and minutes from their farmer targets. I would still be putting my puny shoulder to a wheel I didn't believe in, pushing in a direction I was sure was very wrong.

Knowing that my family and everything I had ever known would be lost to me and feeling that my odds of beating the Government was way bad against me, I decided to 'fuck 'em all' and blow my own brains out. Depriving the criminal politicians of my service and avoiding the whole slave thing.

I sat in the car not far from a little coffee house I used play. I could not give the Air Force another day of my life. I would wear that damned uniform, never again. But, I couldn't face the large reality of deserting the military of my home and native land. That is not a small or easily made decision.. I decided to shoot my way into a final compromise.

I remember loading the old 'break down' pistol with a hollow point long rifle round, sure to do the job correctly. I didn't say good bye to the world or leave a note or think forgiving thoughts to those that may have wronged me. I grabbled the gun, cocked the stiff old hammer and put the gun to my temple. I didn't know that the mouth was a better shot.

I closed my eyes and started pulling the trigger. The trigger had a long pull and a lot of creak. Meaning it didn't pull evenly.. The trigger creaked twice. I felt the gun go off, my head expanded from the inside and in that nano-second, I felt profound regret at the stupid thing I had just done.

Thank rust and bad gun makers for trigger creak. The gun had not gone off. But, to this moment I still feel the blast against my scalp and the flash of red, inside my head, before bitter and profound regret fell onto me. I have never been prone to hallucination. That was a powerful one.

I jerked the gun away from my head. I released the sticky hammer and sat the pistol on the seat gently, to avoid accidental discharge.

Suddenly, everything looked different. I came up from my very, very brief face to face with death, with a whole new outlook. Death waits for everyone, no matter what they do with their time here. The choice was simple, fight or submit. Submission, to what I perceived as historical injustice, was not possible.

I felt then, as I do now, that the men who wrote and signed our national manifesto, the Declaration of Independence, would have agreed with me.

I decided that I would fight. I would play for keeps and I would be prepared to accept and deal with the consequences. I would not give up, go back, or kill myself. I would be a free person again or die trying.

I don't feel like talking about party boy George tonight. I had never heard of him at the time, as George and I ran in different circles. George and I could not have related on a face to face basis. George Bush has never ever been his own man. Never made his own decisions, and never taken responsibility for or accepted the consequences of his actions.

If he weren't the make believe president, he would not be worthy of a line of text.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Election Violence in Homeland America??

This will be my last post regarding the upcoming election. Monday I will deal with something else. Anything else! I'm so tired of this election, I will be glad when it is over. Though, not as glad, if Bush manages to steal the election, as I believe he will.

Even if you are also sick of it, here is something you should read before election day. It will be all the news in the days following the election.

The article, entitled Twelve ways Bush is now stealing the Ohio vote, it is written by Bob Fitrakis and Jack Wasserman, of the Free Press.

A quote from the article:

* Under an archaic Ohio law, both the Republican and Democratic Parties, or any slate of five candidates, may embed official election challengers inside polling places. The New York Times reported on Oct. 23 that the Republican Party intends to place thousands of lawyers and other GOP faithfuls inside the polls to challenge voters. Republican insiders confide here that the key goal is to jam lines and frustrate new voters. The GOP apparently figures many voters in key Democratic precincts won't wait in line more than 15 minutes to vote. This is certain to be a major tactic in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County and other Democratic strongholds. The GOP is not planning to challenge voters in Republican districts. "

Think about that. The Republicans are planning to hire thirty five thousand lawyers and young Repuglicans to harass and intimidate and inconvenience voters in Democratic, mostly black neighborhoods, all across the country, not just in Ohio.

The intention to steal the election is very plain to see. The twelve things mentioned in the article are going to happen all over America, except, of course, in Republican districts. Because they are the 'good' Americans, the only ones worthy of the vote, or so the GOP obviously believes.

I predict that there will be violence at the polls in some areas. These scared white middle class Republicans are going into black neighborhoods to actively intimidate and harass locals who are trying to vote. Given the fear and racial arrogance that will motivate a lot of these political thugs and given the Republican love of guns, some of them will be armed. Make no mistake, we are talking about America. Some of the Republican thugs will go into to those communities armed against citizens that they fear and consider to be enemies. Good enough to fight the Republican wars but not worthy of voting.

I will not be surprised if there are incidents of real violence and even shootings at some polls on election day. Two likely hot spots will be Detroit and Philadelphia. Where the Republicans have long talked of the need to suppress the black Democratic vote.

I have no sympathy for anyone who goes into any American community to suppress the vote and deny fellow citizens of what is a sacred democratic right. That is about as Un-American as you can get.

I confess to hoping that the people in those communities will give these whey faced little Nazis a real lesson in participatory democracy. I think it more likely that a voter or two will get shot by some scared white punk on a mission for his ugly political deity.

Another link regarding GOP plans to challenge black voters in Florida. Video

Don't you just love America?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Election Fraud Op-Ed

I put the term Op-Ed in the title of this because I have an opinion to express about something that has not yet happened. Simply put, I do not trust that the American Presidential election will be an accurate reflection of the intentions of the voters

In such a tight race, it is my opinion that the Republicans will shave enough Democratic votes to be able to appoint Bush to a second term. All the elements for disaster are in place and the motivation to create that disaster is very strong in some sectors of the Republican camp.

The Bush campaign is busy looking for fraudulently registered Democrats. I am sure some will be found as there are always some fraudulent registrations in every election. What concerns me, are not these petty individual frauds, as loathsome as they are, but some of the organized efforts by local election officials in several areas, to deprive large numbers of potential Democratic voters access to the polls.

There is the case of the phony voter registration company that has collected and destroyed unknown numbers of Democratic registrations, in three states. Who is out to bust those bastards?. People who will not know they have been defrauded until they appear at the polls on election day. To late to do much about it, in many polling areas.

As well as the hugely documented problems in Florida, there are new problems showing up in that state during early voting. As well as the problems occurring because of the same old corrupt or incompetent officials that caused the trouble in the last national elections, we now have electronic voting machines that did not function, had not been tested before the beginning of voting, and some machines that had not had their counters reset to zero before the voting began. Most of these problems occurring in counties with Republican election officials. Hard to believe there are no non-partisan election officials in a country that calls itself a great democracy.

International elections supervisory groups, could not certify US elections because of the many failures , irregularities, the lack of a non-partisan federal elections committee, and the use of electronic voting devices that have no recount provisions built in. i.e. a printed record of the vote cast.

Let me say that again: American election standards do not meet the international criteria for fair elections in the trouble spots of the world but, it is, it would appear, good enough for America.

I don't believe Bush will necessarily win the popular vote but I believe he will be made president, no matter how the electorate votes. I sincerely hope I have to take all this back. I hope I must publicly recant my unworthy suspicions in ten days or so. Time will tell.

This is one of those times I would much prefer to be wrong.

Rather than spread the links through out the text, here are the links to things that I'm concerned and talking about.

An open invitation to fraud: Article

Suppression, Fraud, Breakdown, Democracy Now Video

Carter Centre View of American Elections, NPR Audio Interview

Monday, October 25, 2004

The End Times President?

My last post, regarding the specifics of the Presidents religious beliefs received this comment from an anonymous Canadian reader:

(Note: I encourage anonymous posting for those wishing to avoid the registration page)

"Well, that may be true but I'm not sure how much we should focus on his religious beliefs. We know they exist and should have no place on the political platform. I'd be willing to bet he knows as little about religion as he does politics. Nevertheless, world wide, religion is often used to cover up agendas where substance is lacking. The Bush dynasty (Papa, daddy and George) is one of very dirty money and it is the politics of greed that fuels their cause. Right now religion is is the suit, but a business man will play whatever role provides the means."

It is a good question and one that deserves an answer. At any other time, I'm pretty sure I would have the same opinion and question. Having some knowledge of the role religion has historically played in American politics, one simply accepts that religion is always part of the political mix.

But, some of the specific tenets of this presidents beliefs, and the nature of the Presidents personal commitment to those beliefs, has brought religion into the White House, into government policy, and into the election in a way that is very new, and I believe very dangerous for America.

Jimmy Carter was, arguably, the most religious president of modern times. In a recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Carter spoke about the many hours he spent in prayer, every day he was in the White House. Carters family were strong supporters of the Southern Baptist Convention for generations. Yet there is not one example of Carter attempting to bring government policy in line with specific tenets and goals of the Southern Baptist Church. No example of Carter attempting to interject his Christian beliefs into the classroom, the courts, or the federal Government.

It is one thing when the character of the man making decisions is informed by his religious commitment. It is an entirely different matter when the decisions are informed by the strictures of one mans' religion.

A president is elected to further and protect the interests of it's citizens, not to further the goals of his religious sect or denomination. Our president is completely blind to this idea and is utterly contemptuous of iron clad constitutional restrictions regarding the relationship of Church and State.

The key concept, in the constitution, is separation. Church and State are a poisonous mix. The founders of the country recognized the dangers inherent in giving religion a place in the government. Today, the potential wreckers of that same country ignore the wisdom of the founders, to everyone's peril.

George is not an old line, mainstream Christian. He is a relatively recent convert to a Christian/political cult that was born in the early seventies. A little old style Christianity, a whole lot of contemporary 'end Times' theology, coated, flavored , and given purpose by rightwing political and social values, this new brand of American Christianity is very much a political animal and very little of the spiritual is in evidence.

Officially, President Bush is a member of the United Methodist Congregation, a mainstream tradition. But he is a Methodist, in name only. Bush does not attend a Methodist Church on Sundays nor has he mentioned the church in any public address. Although he mentions his religious beliefs with alarming regularity.

Mr. Bush' core beliefs have much more in common with the extreme ideology expressed by Jerry Falwell and his brand of extreme right-wing evangelicals than with the beliefs and positions of the United Methodists.

While George Bush is ever the politician and has been careful not to identify himself with any specific trend, his policies and public statements have moved him well outside mainstream Christianity which tends to be more liberal on issues from abortion to gay rights, than President Bush.

The organized Christian-Right certainly see Bush as one of their own. He is seen as 'their guy' in the White House. When the organizers of the Republican Convention chose to play down the religious side of their message, for fear of alienating the 'undecided' voters of America, very few evangelical members of the Christian-Right were concerned. Most seemed to understand the political gambit being played and expressed confidence that what ever was said at the convention, the man in the White House carried their banner.

The few dissenters were mostly from old line fundamentalists, who share many beliefs with, but do not share the political drive and savvy of the evangelicals.

I perceive two areas in which the presidents' particular religious beliefs become issues of public concern:

One. The contemporary evangelical-right sees itself with a worldly mission of spreading their brand of Jesus belief through every means possible. Every committed believer is expected to spread their gospel through every means and office available to them.

In his time in office, George Bush has conspicuously rewarded his Christian-Right supporters via his so called "faith initiatives' in which millions of dollars of social service and education funds are injected directly into church groups.

I have written about some of the details of the successful White House effort to stifle any legitimate voice advocating comprehensive sexual education. ( Those posts can be found in the August Archives) Real sex education has been removed from American schools in favor of ineffective morality based Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs.

Bush has systematically opened the doors of government to 'faith groups' while freezing out every voice for science based sex education and every organization committed to AIDS and HIV reduction thru dissemination of safer sex information.

The CDC is no longer interested in prevention. Abstinence is the official fairy tale excuse for a colossal public health failure of purely ideological origin.

That ideology is found in the evangelical belief that America, whether it likes it or not, is being prepared for a day of judgment by a particularly sectarian and warlike version of Jesus. Jesus the avenging, fag hating, Arab hating, War God come to smite all but his chosen few. Checking the bumper stickers, making a list.

Two. Evangelicals of most persuasions believe that the end of the human world is at hand. Most are not counting the days or taking buy-outs on their pension plans but there is general consensus that many of the preconditions for the return of Christ are met. The most important precondition will be achieved when Israel reclaims its' Old Testament boundaries and rebuilds the temple of Solomon, in Old Jerusalem.

The Christian Zionists have a very strong lobby in Washington and access to the White house. The Christian Zionist ideology has tremendous sway within contemporary evangelical Christianity. Put as simply as possible, the Christian Zionists believe that the support and defense of Israel, regardless of all other interests or concerns, is a necessary part of fulfilling the conditions for the mother of all wars and the appearance of Christ on earth.

Christian Zionism believes that a US foreign policy built around the protection and support of Israel is required by God if a nation is to be judged righteous.

I want to know, and I think the American people have a right to know what pre-drawn religious schematic is guiding the president and his like minded advisors and decision makers. I have to wonder why this president surrounds himself exclusively with men of similar religious purpose, to the exclusion of all other voices even within the Republican party.

I want to know what role his personal religious convictions play in the irrational, counter-productive Iraq war and the draining demoralizing occupation that has turned Iraq into a fertile terrorist breeding ground.

I have not forgotten corporate forces, the desire to 'own' the oil, or the billions to be made in 'rebuilding' the country. That's Cheney's department and Mr. Cheney is a very busy and powerful vice president.

If the Christian-Right were not useful to the National Heritage Foundation and other neo-conservative corporate interests, their money and influence would simply dry up. Many would be working real jobs again or back to hawking 'prayer cloths' and begging for faith offerings on late night local radio in Bugtussle Alabama. Most would still vote for Bush.

Our president appears to work for two masters; corporate wealth and power on one hand and the evangelist shaped God that has appointed and led him to the presidency of the United States.

I want to know what makes this cut out of a man tick. This shady shaky character with the hidden past, his terrible reign as a 'Bush' governor, .and his plans and motivations that are never completely on the table.

The aggressive haphazard way he has handled the war, grossly over extending our seriously undersupplied troops, indicates that he and his advisors are operating with an ideological map that does not reflect the actual terrain. History would indicate a catastrophe in the making.

The president keeps telling everyone to trust him. Yet he does not trust himself enough to say right out why he is so dead certain that standing firm on this disaster course, in an ever worsening situation, will lead to ultimate victory in this war on terror. Or is it war on Iraq, or Syria, perhaps Iran is next?

God may have told George but George ain't telling anyone except his ever tightening circle of trusted, like minded advisors.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Who counts, in America?

I started my last post with a quote from Daniel Webster. It is fitting that I start this with another short but informative quote from a well known twentieth century political figure:

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes, decide everything".
Joseph Stalin

This pragmatic bit of political reality was very evident in the United States a mere four years ago and should have taught us a badly needed lesson regarding American elections.
The lessons were not learned by anyone except, it would seem, the Republican party.

The Republicans certainly learned that they don't need to win elections to maintain power in America. The more extreme factions of the Republican party demonstrate nothing but contempt for democracy and the American people. Witness the unending attempts by our All American Republicans, to cripple the government, throughout the Clinton presidency. No matter the cost to Americans.

The worst Republicans are patriotic Americans only when they are in office. The rest of the time, they are too special to be constrained by democratic norms. After all, they are the real Americans and the rest of us are unwanted passengers on 'their' boat.

The widespread voting irregularities that threw the election in Florida last time out, have not been fixed. There was four years to do it in but it was not done and no one can make the Presidents brother or his Republican elections supervisor do something that might hurt the presidents chances. Something like fair unrestricted access to polls, even for blacks and possible Democrats.

Republican strategists have openly talked about suppressing the vote in Democratic strongholds, such as Detroit.

Michael Moore registers a hundred thousand voters in Michigan and the same Michigan Republican that wants to suppress votes, in Detroit, is trying to have Moore arrested to stop his registration campaign.

A so called 'private Voter Registration company' has systematically destroyed voters registrations from thousands of Democrats in three states. Those voters will show up to the polls only to find their right to vote has been stolen. Not by government incompetence but by thieves, working, it would appear, on behalf of the Republican election effort.

Electronic voting is only as secure and honest as the companies that will do the counting, on behalf of election officials. There is no paper trail for your vote. You can only have 'faith' that your vote will be counted, given that the Justice Department has recently admitted that it is not nearly ready for the expected flood of election fraud cases this election will generate. Who owns and controls the data collection companies hired to oversee a major part of the most important election in recent American history?

In that atmosphere, after the crippling of the electoral process in the last presidential race, I for one, do not trust electronic voting, as it is about to be used.

Everyone knows the president is a religious guy. Most politicians are but George admits to and has a well grounded reputation for bringing his religion into politics and government policy, in a big way.

Only recently are questions arising about the nature of the beliefs our President holds. Beliefs which, according to him, guide his policies, especially in regards to the Middle East.
The nature and specifics of those beliefs need to be understood by Americans.

George Bush is an adherent of a contemporary Christian cult that has recently superseded mainstream Christianity, in the United States. A cult that has reshaped God and Jesus into political icons. The Book of Revelations has become a foreign policy manual in the hands of cultists in important and powerfull government positions.

There are no non members of this cult represented in the Presidents inner circle of advisor's. Even Republicans who voice objective reality or mere questions are kept away from the President and the inner circle of decision making.

This president, who believes he was appointed to the Presidency by God himself, believes himself to have a role to play, in bringing about the Second Coming of Christ.

It is about time people began asking about exactly what this religious President believes and what role he has cast for himself in this dangerous role playing game that occupies the President and his inner circle.

One terrible question comes to mind: Does a man who believes he is on a mission for God, believe it is the will of his reshaped God, to disenfranchise and defraud non-believing voters?

This Presidents' intentions and motivations have never been completely on the table. The answers to some of the questions regarding the Presidents' religious beliefs, may explain why his intentions and motivations are never completely on view for all to see.

Sane, thinking people would never accept this mans' true intentions.

Registration fraud-

Michael Moore legal threats

Bush and his religious certainty

Monday, October 18, 2004

1814 to 2004 A message from Daniel Webster

In 1814, with the war of 1812 still resounding in the ears of legislators, Congress was considering giving powers of conscription to the young American government. Below, are the words of Daniel Webster as delivered to that Congress, in 1814.

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is
it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents
from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in
which the folly and wickedness of the government may engage itself?

"Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the
first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest right of personal liberty? Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life, itself, whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it? . . .

"A free government with an uncontrolled power of military conscription
is the most ridiculous and abominable contradiction and nonsense that
ever entered into the heads of men."

Daniel Webster, Speech in the House of Representatives, January 14, 1814

As has been pointed out before, our forefathers did foresee the possibility of reckless, power obsessed men, forming the government of the United States and perverting that office in pursuit of private goals and personal enrichment.

The "ambitious and mischievous government" Mr. Webster spoke of is in control of state power, at this moment. A government of men determined to turn once democratic America into an Imperial Republic. A Republic willing to consume it's citizens in it's quest for political and economic domination of foreign governments and peoples.

A government bent on redrawing the economic and geopolitical map of the world. To create a world more conducive to the long range plans of the corporate interests this government represents..

During the wimpy Presidential debates, Bush told us, in a rambling barely coherent statement, that the kind of men he would appoint to the Supreme Court would be men that interpret the constitution by what was actually written. It was an intentionally vague statement. I can only hope that the President was thinking of men like Daniel Webster. Unfortunately, I doubt that such would be the case.

One suspects in today's America, Daniel Webster would quickly find himself on the Patriot Act watch list as a dangerous radical with possible terrorist ties.

Our President is, himself, a dangerous radical. A man bent on the changing the course and the very nature of America and what it means to be an American. He has surrounded himself with powerful men committed to the same dark goal. That of turning America into an Imperial Republic. A power freed of democratic constraints with no duties to it's citizenry.

For whatever his handlers believe, George believes he has been appointed to the Presidency by God. He believes he is on a mission from God. His foreign policy agenda is inspired by his adherence to the idea that these are the "end times" in which the forces of good and evil will clash in final conflict, in and over Israel.
Armageddon. Quite literally, he is leading America and the world to Armageddon.

Numerous dooms day cults have found their inspiration, at least partly, from their reading of Revelations. Jim Jones, and David Koresh, immediately come to mind.

The idea of a slow witted member of a mainstream doomsday cult being the President of the United States, fills a sane, aware person with dread.

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is
it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents
from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in
which the folly and wickedness of the government may engage itself?

A big thanks to Thomas McCullock for reminding me of this quote from Daniel Webster. It is even more relevent now, than when first spoken to a young American Congress nearly two hundred years ago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Safer Since the Invasion of Iraq ???

I am in regular correspondence with a number of people who currently live in America.
Some of whom are keen observers of the political landscape and what has become of the American news media.

They tell me that the political atmosphere of America is getting much worse and much scarier. Oddly enough, friends and relatives who are not keen observers of the political landscape, are telling me the exact same thing.

It would appear that the invasion of Iraq has not made many Americans feel that the world is a safer place. Not even that America is a safer place.

The scare tactics and threats of outright suppression by Republicans would indicate that actually NOBODY in America feels that the world or America is a safer place than it was before the invasion.

Well, OK, the world became a safer place for Osama bin Laden since the troops left Afghanistan to attack Iraq. But that is only one person out of five billion. The rest don’t appear to feel safe.

It isn’t a safer place for Michael Moore as Michigan Republicans are attempting to have Moore arrested. It seems his voter registration drive in Michigan signed up 100,000 new voters in Michigan. Most of who aren’t likely to vote Republican.

If you want an example of what Republicans actually believe about democracy in America, listen up: The chairman of the Republican committee in Michigan was quoted, a few months back, saying that the vote had to be “suppressed” in Detroit. The population, in Detroit is eighty percent African Americans.

He later took it back, of course. How do you take that back? High officials in the Republican party want to suppress the vote. I never want to hear another Republican use the term, un-American. That individual still holds his position in the Party that represents his views. Think about that.

The same Republican committee is now wanting Michael Moore arrested on serious charges that would certainly shut down his very successful voters registration drive.
The charges; That he offered slacker youth of Michigan, a pack of clean underwear for the guys and three packs of Ramen noodles for the slacker girls, if they would register to vote. Not if they vote for Kerry, but if they register.

The clean underwear and slacker feed (seventy five cents worth of noodles) is an obvious joke, a send up re the idea of ‘slackers’ who supposedly do nothing but pick their butts, watch television, and eat crap food. The joke is obvious to all. However, the Republican committee is not joking. Not at all. They believe in imprisoning those who disagree with them. They are having this election only because they don’t have the power or the excuse to cancel elections. Yet.

They left Moore alone, thought he was a bad joke. Someone to deride as a "fat bastard liar" until he registered 100,000 young voters who have never voted before. I suppose that is too much like a fair and honest approach to winning at electoral politics. Something the Republican leadership cannot abide. The solution to a political problem? Arrest the bastard and keep him in jail until the election is over.

The sort of thing done in little African countries, all the time. If the opposition looks like it may win, charge the opposition with treason and lock the bastards up. Send in the patriot agents in black swat team masks to drag the bastards in. Will this become the new American way in our new Homeland America? Stay tuned.

If the current gang of thieves is reelected, we may find out, in only a couple of years, just how far these radical militants of the NeoCon movement are willing to go. Militant radicals are exactly what make up the current Republican administration.

Am I being paranoid? Good question. I don’t know. But I do know that had I predicted, 15 years ago, the things that are happening in America now, even I would have considered myself paranoid to the point of crazy. Now look what we are actually getting. The Patriot Act, large scale vote suppression (Florida reality, never fixed and the plans to arrest Moore in Michigan) , independent media outlets being shut down, all over the country.

Paranoia is defined as an unreasonable, irrational fear. It is irrational not to be nervous as hell about the radical militants that currently run the US Government and may be running it for some time to come. The struggle for democracy and the preservation of the constitution is about to become very serious.

Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can get a lot scarier than a horror book or movie could ever be. Much scarier.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Tale of Two Deserters Episode 6

Nixon was elected President in 1968. I, of course, voted for nobody, because I was too young to vote. Old enough to operate and take responsibility for multi-million dollar weapons and equipment, old enough to kill ‘for peace’, and old enough to give my life in service. But, not old enough to vote for the people who make the big life and death decisions.

That works out well for the politicians and the business interests they represent. The age group that will bear the brunt of the sacrifice, that will see up close and personal, the real effects and consequences of Washington policy, has little to say about it.

This obvious un balance in the equation of basic fairness was a point that bothered me, very much. The conclusion it inferred was that I must be ‘guilty’ of being a powerless, low class, young male, sentenced to “Do your home and country proud”, in a shameful situation. Something no American should have to tolerate. Something millions of young Americans were confronted with.

I pondered that, in silence, among my new comrades as we were carted by Greyhound bus to the induction centre in Montgomery Alabama.. The old bus was packed with guys my age. High school kids, many of whom had graduated only the month before, from their farm or steel/coal town schools. We were mostly from the Birmingham area. Mostly white, as this was a group of Air Force inductees. Infer, as you will.

As the bus hummed through the June, Alabama night, the young nervous men were singing, shouting, and clowning like school kids on a field trip, with no teacher. Exactly like that, only more exuberant because everyone knew there was something more ominous than teachers waiting at the end of this trip.

I was the same age as these guys but unlike most of them, had been out, on my own, and had tasted freedom in a way a boy straight out of high school hasn’t. The singing and acting out of the other young guys became a background noise. I stared out the window trying to see all I could of the world I was leaving. I kept thinking of the places this bus should be headed. Like Florida where I should have half a dozen gigs waiting.

I thought about why I was there and pondered why my life was judged so worthless by family and country. Why do some men break the biggest laws and do inexcusable damage to the world and be regaled with praise and high office? While others are yoked by petty unjust laws and used, with disdain.

None of us knew why this was happening to us. None of us knew what the war was about or what actually was meant when ‘they’ talked about fighting for freedom. Freedom for who or what? To fight the evil commie monsters? What’s a communist?
Oh, the bad guy. I see…I guess.

Sitting, staring out that dark window, I tried to cast my mind as far from my body as possible, into the night of unexpected possibilities, while my body was driven towards an un-welcomed stretch of rigid certitude.

I can’t pretend to know what was going through the mind of George, our future president. But I can surmise that George had some similar thoughts and reservations. In a candid moment in the 90’s, Bush told a Dallas reporter that he was so desperate, he had considered either deafening himself with a shot gun blast or going to Canada.

I can imagine that his family, like mine, wanted him safely out of the way, “for his own good” and in a fashion that would not embarrass the relatives. His family was able to arrange things so that George would not face duty in a combat zone.

In the end, George could not handle the restrictions of his personal freedom. Pilot training is serious stuff and hard work, especially for a guy who scored 25% on the pilots test. No slacking off and partying for George and once random drug testing was introduced for pilots, it threatened to further curtail the personal freedoms of our millionaire party boy.

Somehow I doubt that George gave much thought to the questions I pondered on my way to the induction centre. It seems like George has always been a guy whose only question was, “Why me? Why not someone else?” And Daddy made it so.

So, now it’s “Welcome to Georges’ War” Why him? Why not someone else?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Interesting Times

Many Canadians, like most folks south of the border, watched the Veep debate tonight. Nothing new or startling was revealed but I found it very interesting.

I have long suspected that Dick Cheney is the real president of the United States. Cheney, who is not a converted party boy, has always been the intelligent, hard working, savvy political animal. Everything that the president is not.

Compare Bush and Cheney, in this format. As soon as questions started, questions Bush had not been given specific answers for, the president fell apart. He couldn't improvise. He had no real understanding of what he was talking about. He became confused and struggled for words. He looked like a first year student, asked a question not covered in the text, trying to fake an answer.

Cheney, on the other hand, had a head full of facts, arguments and of course, the litany of lies with which he defends the Iraq war.

It was weird, listening to Cheney repeating the lies about weapons of mass destruction and Ben Laden connections to Saddam. In spite of the number of high officials, in the Administration,
who have recently stated the obvious proven truth regarding those lies.

Now, we already knew that Cheney has several IQ points on the pres but what was shown in the debates is that he knows what he's talking about even if he is full of shit.

More and more, Bush looks like a much weaker version of Reagan. Much weaker because Reagan had some class and social graces our Texas wildcat simply does not have. Of course, Reagan had one very important advantage. Reagan didn't have a huge bundle of things to hide re his past behavior. Reagan’s past needed little of the complicated cover ups that Bush requires.

I have noted, people burdened with a life of lies and the hidden agendas that protect those lies, have difficulty with even very simple issues and problems. Simply because of the things that must remain hidden. That is even more true for a person in a high profile, big responsibility job, such as being president.

A prediction: If Bush beats Daddy by winning a second term, he will leave the office in disgrace.

While both parties claim that restarting the draft is not even a thought, there is a bill being worked on , in Congress, for starting the Selective Service board again.

Everyone in the know, regarding military matters, is saying that the military must be much larger. Knowing this, Bush recently enacted a pay cut for military personnel. The military pay cut being one of the ways the administration planned to recoup loses that resulted from the tax cuts for the rich. Just the sort of thing one does when supposedly planning a major recruitment drive.

The point of this being that the draft is coming back. That, I believe, will be the beginning of the end of Bush as a political figure. The anti-war movement, that will be born out of a reintroduction of the draft, will bring the dark side of Bush and his life of lies to the table. In a way that hasn't happened yet.

We live in interesting times. I expect the next four years to get even more ‘interesting’, no matter which billionaire club wins the election.

If Bush wins, it will get interesting, faster.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Presidential Debates and Squashed Memorials

The presidential debate certainly caught a lot of interest and inspired much comment. In the end, it seemed that personality and style was the biggest difference between the two.

Kerry seemed nervous and unsure of himself at the beginning. Bush was his usual smiling, slogan quoting self. Round one for Bush.

As Kerry began to warm to the task and focus his attack, Bush was suddenly bewildered, unsure, and at times, defensive. More like a hesitant challenger than the current title holder, Bush’s voice, body language, and shifty eyes telegraphed his discomfort and confusion.

The thirty IQ points that separate the two became very apparent. Bush, who reads very little, was unprepared for the slow pitch intellectual challenge represented by the format.

But, to my ears, there seemed only quibbling differences between the two global strategies represented. Neither really knows what the hell to do now. Or so it seemed.

On the home front, I have no doubt that Kerry will use the so-called Patriot Act in a similar but more careful manner than the Bush gang. Especially when the going gets tough, as it will, no matter which man occupies the Oval Office.

Iraq and the ever worsening problems it has created, is not going away. In some respects, Kerry finds himself in a situation analogous to that of Richard Nixon. Elected as a peace candidate, during the Vietnam war, the Nixon slogan was “Peace with Honor”. He could produce neither, of course. Any more than Mr. Kerry is likely to.

Still, Bush must go. His brand of Corporate Fundamentalism is destabilizing the globe. World leaders don’t trust him and can’t work with the gleeful aggression that characterizes Republican foreign policy.

America can not go it alone nor, in the end, can it stand alone in a dangerous world. A world that Imperial America is making evermore dangerous. A world that desperately needs a stable democratic America. Not this armed bull in the china shop that the Texas klan is setting loose.

On another note:
The city council, in Nelson BC, has given into local business fears that the Our Way Home Memorial, to Vietnam era draft resisters, will hurt the local tourism industry.

I am not surprised by this move. I am a bit disappointed that Nelson city council members are willing to allow such threats, from America, to determine what parts of Canadian history may be memorialized.

Canada and Canadians have a different relationship to the world, and indeed to history, than America. For some members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their conservative allies, to take such umbrage at this small expression of those differences, is quite absurd.

It indicates both ignorance and arrogance towards their neighbours. It also indicates that many members of the VFW did not learn important lessons from their service. Contrary to the belief that such a memorial dishonors them, they are dishonored by these attempts to hide the political reality of a dishonorable war.

The honor of the men who served is not marred by the dishonor of their leaders. Nor is it questioned by recognition of others, Canadians and Americans, whose lives were also part of the history of that war. It was an ugly evil war, fought by the poor for the rich. It is time to quit thinking like slaves.

The memory, the courage, and the honor of the men who went to war is not attached to the motives and intentions of the powerful men who create and profit by these wasteful conflicts.

It is also true that more than one kind of courage was displayed by young Americans of that era.

Friday, October 01, 2004

A Tale of Two Deserters Episode 5

When I joined the Air Force, I did so feeling that a gun was held to my head, literally and figuratively. I was 1A for the draft, in the days before the lottery system was created. I was, most likely only months away from the rice paddies.

The American military has always had a tendency to throw large numbers of poorly trained conscripts into battle. A tradition that dates back to the American civil war.

One day you are on the street delivering pizza or bagging groceries, a few months later, you’re humping through a jungle full of snakes, disease, and residents who want to kill you for blowing up their villages.

On the home front there was serious pressure to get me into the military and out of the way. Dad had remarried and my long covert campaign get my mother hooked up with a stable man, was coming to fruition.

While I had already left, to seek my own way in the world, each household had its reasons to want me completely out of the picture and without embarrassment. The Air Force was everybody’s idea of the perfect solution. Everyone except me and no one was actually asking me.

What did I think about it? Glad someone asked. I thought I was being punished for a crime never committed. It appeared that I had, without trial, been convicted of being a working class male of limited immediate prospects. Sentenced to make something of myself in the killing grounds. Or die trying. “Another poor boy trapped in a rich mans’ war” to quote Steve Earle.

I also thought I had a life. I had left my crappy little home town and dysfunctional family to create my own life. A life of music, poetry, and a search for truth in the streets and people of America. Things of zero value to either the town or its good citizens, including
my long suffering family.

My sister, Rebecca, was my only supporter and ally in the familial cluster. She often saw things more clearly than I.

Back to the Air Force: My recruiting officer, Sgt. Hill, was a great salesman and a shameless liar. According to him I had scored maximum on all but two categories on the test. I failed the electrical part and passed the mechanical section by the minimum passing score. That was not bad news. I had decided to enlist in the Air Force security police. I had maxed the category of the test that related to that job.

BUT, Sgt. said the Air Force didn’t need SPs this month, it needed mechanics. So, I say "I will wait the two months until the Air Force needs me."

“Oh now, says Sgt. Hill, the draft will get you by then.”

I say, “So let me sign up now and I'll wait the month for call up?” It seemed the reasonable course. A win-win situation.

But crafty Sgt. Hill told me I could sign up now, as a mechanic, and I would be allowed to change my specialty, during the first couple of weeks of basic training.

A little secret boys and girls: Recruiting officers are supposed to lie to you and they do it, all the time.

In one session, in basic, a bellowing T.I. in a Smokey Bear hat, ask us, “How many of you shave headed maggots were promised you could change your Air Force career path during basic training?” He had an evil, self satisfied smirk that telegraphed the bad news.

“Welcome to the Air Force. You can change your career path if and when you complete your four year enlistment, until then, you will perform what ever duties have been assigned to you. Ha, Ha, Ha.”

I knew they were going to lose the war, if they actually thought they could turn me into a real mechanic,

This particular insult, added to the grievous injury of forced involuntary servitude, was the final straw. I decided that the worm would turn. Escaping basic training, in San Antonio, with my shaved head and no civilian clothes, was out of the question. But, the die was cast. I decided I would not be a good slave. Neither would I be a foolish rebel. I could bide my time. Make sure that my departure was planned and at a favorable time. Besides, surviving basic had a way of occupying a persons’ strict attention, to matters at hand.

George Bush, on the other hand, had a very different experience. It was recently revealed that George failed his National Guard entrance test, with a miserable score of 25%. Yet, good old Georgie boy was sprung over the heads of a great multitude of men in line ahead of him. Men who had actually passed the test.

But, George was a poor student who could not stay in university and Daddy didn’t have time to buy poor dumb George into a post grad program at the "right" university. However, just a few days before George would have been eligible for the draft, he was appointed, as if by magic, to the Texas Air National Guard. A force that did not serve overseas, at the time.

Here is the real “as if by magic” part: George, who flunked a very easy entrance exam, was given permission to train as a fighter pilot! A job reserved for the best, the brightest, the quickest, and the bravest. Not for under bright, under achievers like George.

But, it gets better. The National Guard doesn’t train new pilots. The Air National Guard Pilots were fully trained veterans of the Army, Air Force. or other branches of the military. But George, was assigned to be trained as a fighter pilot, for a unit that did not do overseas service.

Why? Well, daddy was thinking ahead and planning his slow witted sons’ future resume.

So, a working class policeman’s son aces the test for his preferred job. He is denied the opportunity and lied to by a recruiting sergeant who is intentionally misrepresenting the facts. To ‘close the sale’. This future deserter had no administrative or legal recourse, of course.

George flunks the chimp easy entrance test, leaps to the head of the line, and has a singular, glorious assignment put into his inept hands.

So George told the recruiter what he wanted to do and Daddy made it so. There was one real fly in the ointment. Flying jet fighters is very, very dangerous work, even when you aren’t being shot at.

I suspect, I got a burning case of the “I will not serve” blues a bit earlier than George. I think George joined the choir when he realized that in his slow witted, hard drinking, party boy mitts, a jet fighter would be a death trap. George is not burdened with great intellect but he was bright enough to know he was going to be a bad pilot. George wanted the uniform and the title of jet pilot. But his plans, like so many others of his era, didn’t include dying for the glory. George was in a position to make plans, it seems.

So, George walked away. Scott free. Just walked away. And, in the fullness of time, Daddy bought Georgie into Harvard ($40 mil. worth of architecture) and later George got his honorable discharge for service never performed.

And that, boys and girls, is the American way. For some people.