been an odd week. For me, a particularly odd week. But that's
another story. So, wait a minute. Iran DOESN'T have nuclear weapon
capability??? So, who are we gonna bomb? I want to bomb somebody!
(Hillary) Clinton just vote in essence to give President Bush
the power to bomb Iran? If he had done it last week, would that
have made her right? I mean, if she knew then what she knows now?
Or am I getting that backward? Golly, I'm confused.
about President Bush? Last week, Vladimir Putin, the man Mr. Bush
said he "Looked into the eyes of and found to be very straightforward
and trustworthy." So much so, he was "able to get a sense of his
soul." Well that soulful fella has just successfully coalesced
the most dangerous power base in Russia since the Cold War amid
rumors that include allegations he ordered the assassinations
of journalists and imprisonment of noted proponents of freedom
our President's great enemy in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, that "totalitarian,"
"authoritarian," "dictator," that "mad man run amok," somehow
was unsuccessful in his bid for the constitutional reforms that
would have allowed him to be repeatedly re-elected for life
you know? Really.
to Chavez's "strong-arming?" His "electoral corruption?" His alleged
"gagging of the press?" How in the hell could he have lost? I'm
sorry, did I miss something?
How is it
that this "Commie bastard" with 80 per cent of his citizens having
elected him in the first place was unable to prevail? Could it
be that we've been lied to about him? I mean, Pat Robertson's
not a liar, is he? His god wouldn't let that happen, would he?
And god-forbid, our god would let the right-wing pundits, left-wing
corporates, or our own administration send us a bill of goods!?
Is it possible,
I mean I know it's silly, but is it just a little bit possible
that President Chavez is in fact a defender of his people's Constitution?
That, that's how his referendum could fail? And that that's why
he accepted it with such grace? A constitution which I have read
several times. Quite a beautiful document, not dissimilar to our
own. You might give it a read. Oh, I forgot - he's a "drug runner."
Let me share
something with you. Late one night in Caracas, I met with a couple
of fellas, mercenaries I think you call them. Goddamit, I keep
doing that. I mean "contractors." They were Brits, their specialty:
drug interdiction. These two were no great fans of Chavez. They
called him "radical" and expected him to fall to an assassin's
bullet within the year. Like him or not, he had the cash to win
their acceptance of his employ.
And working alongside the Venezuelan military, these two, based
in Caracas, had played the mountainous and jungled border between
Columbia and Venezuela. A zone rife with paramilitaries, FARC
guerillas, and mer
scratch that, contractors. What I was
told that evening in Caracas by these piano wire puppeteers was
that they had never worked for a government whose investment in
drug interdiction was so genuine. "Yeah," said one of the Brits,
"I gotta give the bastard Chavez that."
But I was
talking about the Constitution. Most importantly, our own. And
what an odd week it has been. Our culture is engrained with a
tradition that blurs the line between what is right, what is just
and what is constitutional, with what is a scam. That tradition
is the cult of personality. What can TV sell, what kind of crap
will we buy. And at what point are we buying and selling our rights,
our pride, our flag, our children, and succumbing to meaningless
slogans that are ultimately pure titles for un-Americanism?
Osama Bin Laden's infinite delight, we have become a country
of principle breakers rather than principle bearers.
How do we
know what's American and what is not? Because John Wayne tells
us so? Because Sean Penn tells us so? Susan Sarandon? Bill O'Reilly?
Michael Moore? Senator Bull? Or Senator Shit? Ann "my bowel expenditure"
Coulter? No. It's our Constitution. We don't use it just to win.
We depend on it because it's the only "us" worth being. And because
it's our children's inheritance from our shared forefathers and
the traditions that really do speak best of our country.
the question. We got Iowa coming up, we got New Hampshire right
on its ass. Do we sell it for electability? If Hitler were the
only candidate, would voting for him be most American? Jump on
a plane with me. Okay, we're over the Middle East now... Let's
land. Take a deep breath.
bodies, burned and mutilated, the concussive sounds of gunfire
and explosives defining the last horrifying moments of the dying
and the dead. Imagine the millions of refugees fleeing through
the deserts of Iraq, the babies crying, and the stench of death
in the air. Yuck. Let's get back on the plane and head home.
American servicemen dead or broken, returning from a broken military
to a silent casket or a broken veteran's administration, to broken
lives and broken businesses, broken wives, unspoken husbands,
and devastated children. And what for? What have we gained?
recruitment is up. Terrorism is up. Quality of life is down in
our country and around the world. While the rich continue to get
richer and the poor, poorer and more numerous. And on the verge
of recession, we are witnessing the dramatic disassembling of
the middle class amidst a flood of foreclosures and unpayable
debts. To Osama Bin Laden's infinite delight, we have become a
country of principle breakers rather than principle bearers.
are torturers and we too often, imprison only the weak. When our
own administration chooses its bewilderingly un-American agenda
(For the entitled people? By the entitled people?) over the Constitution
in defining American values, principles, and law, Osama Bin Laden
laughs at the weakened sheep that we and our representatives have
and misdemeanors? How about full-blown treason for the outing
our own CIA operatives? How about full-blown treason for those
who support this administration through media propaganda?
not a proponent of the Death Penalty, existing law provides that
the likes of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice, if found guilty,
could have hoods thrown over their heads, their hands bound, facing
a 12-man rifle corps executing death by firing squad. And our
cowardly democratically dominated House and Senate can barely
find one voice willing to propose so much as an impeachment. That
one voice of a true American. That one voice of Congressman Dennis
This is not
going to be a sound bite. Not if I can help it. I'm torn. I'm
torn between the conventional wisdom of what we all keep being
told is electibility and the idealism that perhaps alone can live
up to the challenges of our generation. Of the democrats running
for President, only Congressman Dennis Kucinich's candidacy is
backed by a voting record of moral courage and a history of service
to our country that has fully earned our support and our gratitude.
And when I say support, I am not speaking to democrats alone,
but rather to every American who would take the time on behalf
of their children, our planet, and our soldiers to educate themselves
on the Kucinich platform.
In the recent
debate among Democrats in Las Vegas, the candidates, one after
the other, placed security ahead of human rights. Benjamin Franklin
once said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to
gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Then,
there was good ole Patrick Henry. Remember him? "Give me liberty,
or give me death." These were the real tough bastards. The real
raise up men and women of vision, of integrity, of belief
in our principles... Imagine watching on television, our
country raising up a leader because he represents our Constitution.
are the traditions we should be serving. I found the debate infuriating,
nearly an argument for fascism with few exceptions, key among
them Dennis Kucinich. Of course as a strategic politician, Mrs.
Clinton pulled out her set of Ginzu knives and dominated once
again on "centrist" political strategy. In fending off attacks
upon herself, the front runner, she reminded the audience and
her fellow candidates, "We are all Democrats."
asked each candidate if they would support the other should they
themselves not be the nominee. One after another, the answer,
yes. One exception: Dennis Kucinich, who with the minimal time
allotted him, once again rose up beyond the sound bite and put
principal ahead of party; argued policy rather than politeness.
He has been the dominant voice of integrity on issues of trade,
labor, education, environment, health, civil liberties, and the
one endlessly determined voice of peace.
But is he
too short? Does his haircut not appeal? Is he not loyal enough
to a cowardly democratic platform? Does he not appeal to the cult
of personality? And what if the answer is yes? What if Dennis
Kucinich, the most deserving and noble of candidates, the most
experienced in issues of policy and the least willing to play
into the politics of personal power? What if we can't elect a
man simply on the basis of the best ideas, the most courage, and
the most selfless service?
What does it say about our country when we can't rally the voices
of the common good to support a man, like our troops, who would
die for us, who would die for our constitution? Who, as mayor
of Cleveland at the age of 31 stood up against contracts on his
life. Three separate assassins whose intent was to kill him as
he stood up for his constituency there.
he carries on. He continues to serve.
a supporter of Dennis Kucinich for several years. And I've been
torn lately. I've been torn by the allure of "electability." I
began to invest some support in a very good man (one among Dennis's
opponents) who seems to be finding himself as a constitutional
defender, but he's not one yet. He is however, among those that
we allow the media to distinguish as electable. But we're talking
about the Constitution here. We're talking about our country.
I have decided not to participate in proactive support on the
basis of media distinctions. I have chosen to pledge my support
to the singular, strongest and most proven representative of our
offers us a very singular opportunity as we share this minute
of time on earth. We, the people. It is for us to determine what
is electable. And here's how simple it is: If we, those of us
who truly believe in the Constitution of the United States of
America, all of us, vote for Dennis Kucinich, he will be elected.
Could we call him electable then? If so, America will stand taller
our friends in the social circles of New York and the highbrow
winner-friendly and monied major cities that support Mrs. Clinton,
that this is not Bill Clinton. For all the misgivings I have about
our former President, he raised up friends and opposition alike,
his great gift as a motivator of interest and activism, of self-education
and participation was, on its own merits, a unique gift.
But don't underestimate personal agendas, those that initiated
NAFTA, betrayed Haitian refugees and gay rights in the military
within a minute of his own election. Don't underestimate that
part of him when he gives his wife the face of his talent. Don't
underestimate the damage her poisonous ambition can do
to this country. We can't wait for the benefit of hindsight to
service the benefit of Mrs. Clinton's career.
raise up men and women of vision, of integrity, of belief in our
principles. How exciting would that be to do? How good would that
be for television? What if we turned this game around? Imagine
watching on television, our country raising up a leader because
he represents our Constitution.
good things can be good TV.
let's give the Constitution another read, shall we? And then decide
who its greatest defender would be. I suggest that Republicans,
Independents, and Democrats alike will find that they know what's
really right in their hearts and minds.
Sean Penn's latest film is Into The Wild.
articles by Sean Penn:
Where's The Accountability For The Dead And Wounded?
Killroy's Still Here, by Sean Penn