Jack Random is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press). See The Chronicles have been posted on the Albion Monitor, Bellaciao, Buzzle, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press and Peace-Earth-Justice. www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com
Affordable Care Act Survives - On June 28, 2012 Chief Justice John Roberts took control of his own court by casting the deciding vote to uphold the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s keystone legislative achievement: The Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Until that decision America’s highest judicial body was the Roberts Court only in name. Its most influential member was Anthony Kennedy and its most powerful voice was Antonin Scalia. With one stroke of the pen John Roberts became a man of substance, never again to be taken for granted. By dramatically asserting his independence from the conservative wing of the court, he becomes the second most powerful man in the most powerful nation on earth.
America's Voluntary Self-Destruction - The Lemming Condition tells the story of a community of arctic rodents who blindly follow tradition, culture and peer pressure on a suicidal march over a cliff and into the sea.
Alan Arkin’s fable is of course fiction, based on a myth perpetuated by a popular Disney documentary on animal behavior. Creatures in nature generally intuit the path to survival and no species eagerly commits mass suicide or self-destruction – no species that is with the possible exception of the human species.
It occurred to me after the spectacle of the recent election in Wisconsin, where common folks, working people with their livelihoods at stake, signed the death warrant for Wisconsin labor by rejecting a recall of their notorious anti-labor governor.
An Illusion of Progress - "The civil rights movement illuminated the hypocrisy of the liberal promise. It made overt, and recorded on television for the world to see, an old daily fact of American life: that a black person who protested his condition, or moved one step out of line, would be arrested, or beaten, or inundated with water hoses, or killed, and the national government of the United States…would not act to save him." - Howard Zinn, “Howard Zinn on Race,” Seven Stories Press (2011).
The gateway to the South is Nashville, Tennessee. For five years in the mid nineties I was privileged to live in that sprawling city of over a million citizens. While distinctly southern in culture, its status as a center of music and a magnet for talented and diverse musicians gives Nashville a more tolerant and enlightened feel.
In many ways, Nashville is less symbolic of the South than it is representative of America and like so many cities across the nation, it is home to two distinct and largely separate communities.
Backlash Against the Austerity Doctrine - "The countries that are doing very well in Europe are the Scandinavian countries. Denmark is different from Sweden, Sweden is different from Norway – but they all have strong social protection and they are all growing. The argument that the response to the current crisis has to be a lessening of social protection is really an argument by the 1% to say: 'We have to grab a bigger share of the pie.'” - Joseph Stiglitz, Common Dreams 4/27/12.
There are few themes the American right likes better than accusing the centrists of the Democratic party of trying to enact European socialism. Led by their corporate candidate for the White House, they point with apparent glee at the economic slide in Europe and proclaim the triumph of conservative economic theory.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Europe’s decline was in fact a direct consequence of its adopting American-style free enterprise economics. The initial crisis (along with our own) was caused by drinking the kool-aid of Wall Street’s brave new theory: that wealth could be created where none actually existed.
“The bond between our two countries is unbreakable. The United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.” - Barack Obama to Bibi Netanyahu, March 5, 2012
The atrocities of war, like a deranged soldier killing innocent women and children, may momentarily shock our senses but they do not come as a surprise. “War is hell” is cliché because it is the most accurate description we can imagine. War is a shadow on the human spirit that lingers well beyond the last bullet. It is a curse on the soul that never lifts.
There is no more violent and destructive act humans can inflict upon themselves than war. History may argue that war is an inevitable consequence of human nature but to engage in war without profound deliberation and reticence is to commit a crime against all humankind.
From Disenfranchisement to Citizens United - “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.” - Justice John Paul Stevens, Dissenting Opinion Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
An ideal democracy would practice majority rule, a universal franchise, proportionate representation, an open and equitable electoral process and a verifiable voting system.
This is the standard by which all representative democracies should be judged. Unfortunately, the United States of America, the world’s first and foremost democratic nation, falls short on all accounts. What is more disturbing is that after two hundred years of advancement toward a more ideal democratic republic, we are now moving decisively backward.