Wednesday, June 07, 2006


A New Strategy for a New Century from Cracker Swamp, Fla.

Reflecting on my recent re-awakening and re-entry into things political after a decade's hiatus from significant leadership roles in veterans' organizations, there are some conclusions about the future of the Left that I wish to share with you.

My resurrection was inspired by the 2005 release of a significant (but yet undiscovered) audiobook history of 1972 Calif. Vietnam Veterans Against the War Camouflage & Lace by Diane Ford Wood of which I am a central character; and my participation in March 2005 with other old Vietnam Veterans Against The War (VVAW) types in a face-off at Texas Tech University (TTU) , with the Swift Boat Veterans 'For Truth', moderated by Nancy Miller Saunders of VVAW.

The deeply personal "Camo & Lace", and the very public face off at TTU inspired reunions of friends, lovers, and former activists; some of whom had not spoken to or seen one another in over thirty years. From the renewed spirit and energy of those two VVAW related reunions, arose Vetspeak. A medium for Objective Political Truth, designed to honor the venerable history of VVAW and stop the Right's rewriting of VVAW's history, for their own purposes. It also inspired this Manifesto, which proposes broad strategic changes to the entire Left and Right methodologies.

But why now? After all these years?

In case you didn't notice; the Swift Boat Veterans (SBVs) acted as the Republican petard in the presidential election, mounting  527 attack campaigns on Sen. John Kerry’s character, Vietnam service, and subsequent anti-war activities with VVAW. These right wing political operatives filled the airwaves and cyberspace, and all other forms of media with their outright lies, half-truths, and distortions. Using millions in hate money that was donated by the special interest money machine, they proved the point that, as we used to say in the Old Corps; if you sling enough sh*t, some of it will stick.

Of course, Kerry’s silence on the issue was twice as loud as George W. Bush's thunderous lack of protestations to these scurrilous tactics, which hearken back to the Nixon style politics of dirty tricks, plumbers, and Watergate. But the silence of the rest of us regarding it, was indeed a true American travesty; one for which our beloved country is paying a very dear price. With these thoughts stirring my soul and stimulating my brain, here are my conclusions about how the grassroots electorate can evolve into a more powerful political force before the next elections.


We The People, are losing the reins of our government, and I believe that we have no one else to blame but ourselves. To quote the venerable Pogo, "I have met the enemy and he is us." We have been complacent with our victories from the 1970s, ending with the close of the Clintonista era of politics. However, the opposition has not slept. Tirelessly, the Far Right juggernaut and the like-minded continue their march on the Constitution; seizing the power and identity of the American People. In campaigns befitting the costs and ruthlessness of Sherman’s March On, and subsequent Siege Of Atlanta, they have a firm hold on the reins of government.

Even if you disagree with this perspective, you cannot deny that the Far Right is in control of all levels of government. The economy is a mess (no, it’s not Bill Clinton’s fault). There is a lack of medical care at all income levels (not Hillary’s fault). The educational and court systems have collapsed ( I don’t know whose fault that is). And about Iraq: Whether you are "fer it, or agin’ it"; the wheels are comin’ off and the wagon's heading downhill.

The Left was not politically outsmarted during the last election; we were politically outplayed. Sadly, the other team doesn’t have a clue about what to do with the ball, which they took for their own as a result of a few technical fouls. This is a very serious threat to Truth, Justice, and The American Way. In order to recapture our Flag and the true intent of the Constitution from the powers that be, I agree with George Lakoff ("Don't Think of an Elephant"). Lakoff propositions that we must absolutely reframe the American political argument. We must redefine for ourselves who we really are and not continue to allow those on the Right, with whom we so vehemently disagree, to orchestrate the definitions of terms relevant to this struggle.

We cannot continue to heel to the dictates of the power brokers and extreme factions of minority and special interest groups, or their spokespersons on either the Right or the Left. Neither can we heel to the Political Correctness advocates, and the exponents of white middle-class liberal guilt, to the exclusion or detriment of other American citizens. Although some civil rights' legislation rightfully furthers the intentions of The People; other legislation, actually furthers only the exclusive, political agendas favorable to the controlling elements of both the Democratic Party and the Left.

While it may be a shocking revelation that not everything labelled "Democrat" or "Left" is good, just as everything "Republican" and "Right" is not bad; I suggest that we radically change our way of thinking. I suggest these considerations with the spirit of a man who doesn't just write about what he believes; but who also acts on those beliefs, having been jailed for civil rights protests in Watts (1973), and having fought two tours of duty in Vietnam. This is the 21st century. It is time for NEW ideas, NEW ways of looking at things, and NEW leadership with the wind of the American voter in our sails.

We must no longer march lock-step to anyone’s set agenda, at the expense of our cultural or political identity as we did in 2004. At the very least, the Democratic Party itself must take a very studied, empirical look at these dynamics and change the way they do business. Without a new direction, they will be in the hurt locker in ’06 & ’08, despite the political power of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. As an organization with a limited political platform, the Democratic Party, like the Left, needs to redefine itself and what it stands for. Driven forward by antiquated and culturally unrealistic ideas, they continue to view themselves as the only solution to America's problems. They must recognize that the Party is best suited as a vehicle for progressive political thought, ideas, and candidates, and not as a "be-all, end-all" for social justice and anti-conservatism.

To stay focused on our defined mission; we must remain open to shedding allegiances with certain like-minded groups. This is especially applicable to groups whose mission may be honorable, but who in fact utilize the same despicable tactics as the SBVs. We need to ask ourselves: Are these alliances so important that we are willing to subvert our personal and political values to win their support or vote? Isn't that pandering? While closing the door may appear heartless, it is far more realistic to prioritize our missions by which brings the most good to the largest number of all of our citizens, as opposed to what brings the greatest benefit to any one economic group, ethnic group, religion or political party.

Let me tell you, My Friends, workable new ideas and humanistic concepts always earn more votes than tired, well worn ones. From whichever side of the spectrum they come, the old "Liberal Guilt" whip or "Liberal as Commie" label, are just plain tired. Exclusiveness is exclusiveness, no matter which side of the political spectrum it emanates from. (The same can be said for inclusiveness.) We must think for ourselves. We must not rely on the media and others’ definitions of us in order to truly know who we are. Most importantly; we must feel good about who we are, .and act and speak as though we know who we are, and be unafraid of being swiftboated. Which, from my perspective is both an honor, and a sign of our effectiveness. We should never be ashamed of being identified as an enemy of tyranny, or its proponents...Ever!

We must stop thinking of ourselves as Republicans or Democrats when it comes to allegiance to our country and Flag. First and foremost; we are Americans, warts and all. Whether earned, or by luck of birth; it is a privilege that requires duty to Family, Flag and Constitution. As American citizens, we have the duty and the Constitutional right to Speak Truth To Power regarding government wrong doings, and political excesses forced upon the American People. The Constitution grants this privilege without fear of swiftboating or reprisal by the powers that be. We must never again allow the forces of repression, selfishness, and greed, to redefine who we are for reasons of money or power. We must guard against this corruption of our rights by any faction, sector, interest, political party, country, or government who might choose to dictate to us who is a "good" American, and who is not.

We have the right to a free exchange of ideas and Objective Truth, regarding the thoughts and deeds of our elected government. The Constitution placed these rights in the hands, and in the hearts and minds of the American People via the electoral process. It is not vested in the hands or coffers of 527s and political special interest groups, nor the smoke and mirrors of the media manipulated by political candidates with fully loaded war chests. Money should not determine the criteria for gaining our votes on issues that directly effect our personal daily lives, and the very future of this beautiful country.

If we can make these changes, I believe we will also win the struggle for the hearts and minds of the undecided voters, which is crucial to our political future as we rally for the march into the 21st century. We do this by moving beyond the labels, boundaries, as well as divisions of political parties, religion, race, economic status, swing states, red states, or blue states, and appealing to these voters instead, as Fellow Americans. We must enlighten and inform voters with Objective Truth, as we did at the 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium at Texas Tech University at 1030 hours on March 10th, 2005-- in the face of a massive machine that is working 24/7 full-tilt boogie to distort, change, and even lie about the Truth for reasons of money or power.

Therefore, in the spirit of redefinition of person and purpose; I propose that we:
  • Step out of the debate regarding whether we are "Liberals" and therefore somehow unworthy;
  • Think of ourselves as "Free Thinking American Citizens" with a voice and a part to play in our destiny as defined in the Constitution;
  • Remain optimistic (and not be defensive) regarding our personal philosophies and political beliefs;
  • Be well read and well versed, articulate, and assertive in our subscription to our philosophies and beliefs and principled in our practice of them; and respectful of our peers in our delivery of them;
  • Refuse to be subservient to any person, political party, or political philosophy, except to our Great Democracy as defined in the Constitution; and finally that we:
  • Be unafraid to say out loud who we are: "Proud Patriots Speaking Truth To Power."

COMMUNISM & VVAW: Letter to a Misguided Soul by Willie Hager

The following article was written in response to a blog entry implying that VVAW of "The Day" was used by the Communist party to further their story...
You poor misguided soul, Roysoldboy. Cheer up, you are not alone. Help is coming to all who have bought in to this orchestrated re-write of Objective History and distortion of Objective Truth, something my studies, research, and life experience reveal to me that the Commies in question call "Revisionism".

But no matter who calls it what, revisionism is what it is. The antithesis to this revisionist history and distorted political truths is coming in the form of a new consciousness (well, not really new; but revisited in new terms), and a new way of looking at politics in America. How politics have evolved into the sorry state -- and how Neocons are "re-framing" the political argument in America -- is addressed in the NY Times best seller by George Lakoff, Don't Think Of An Elephant, published by Chelsea Green Press.

And, from the looks of your comments, you can use a good read.

In the spirit of Speaking Truth To Power and providing documented, firsthand Objective Truth to the American people, I, Peacevet and others who have lived and affected this period of history, have joined together to find, record, and debate Objective Political Truth. We oppose the lies, distortions, and sleaze of the Not-So-Swift-Vets and other low-life minions and convicted felons who act as spokespersons and operatives of the current Neocon (way right wing) political machine. Many Neocons are left over from the Nixon creature's disgraceful administration such as G. Gordon (CIA Clown) Liddy, Chuck (Preacher) Colson, Bernard (Guns) Barker (there are too many to include here, but I think you get the point). Anyone suffocating in the current political environment is invited to respond here.

So, Roysoldboy, today at this site and opportunity, I am here to help you get back on the track to the real Truth of the VVAW/Commie question. I am also here to reinforce Peacevet, whom you guys have been working over pretty good in your blogs. Peacevet, being a combat veteran (I've seen the proof) armed with firsthand knowledge of the facts and real life experience alluded to in this discussion, is holding his own. But then, you guys don't bring much to the table outside of secondhand slogans and rhetoric passed down from undocumented sources and political operatives.

Your naive perspective on the world is fueled by such intellectual giants as Rush Limbaugh (someone actually proud to be known as a "Dittohead"), as opposed to empirically thinking open-minded people who desire facts before speaking out on issues that effect the quality of life of other people. People like Limbaugh are making millions of dollars and seizing the Constitution, even as we debate here. PEACEVET is eliciting acknowledgements, completely contrary to your early-on stated "facts," regarding these matters. This indicates that there is hope for you, my friend.

I will address the most inflammatory paragraph of your posts, a paragraph filled with lies that I have some extensive personal knowledge and experience about. You wrote:

"I will have to tell you that I have studied the methods of the Communist party USA and that I am sure that they did use VVAW to further their story. The fact that you were a Texas wheel in the group and never saw a Communist means nothing to me. What about the other 50 states? Do you feel the same about the POW - MIAs that you feel about those of us who accuse your organization of playing with the Communists? Let me know how you feel about them."

The first thing is to establish credits and credentials. You mention that you have studied the "methods" of the CPUSA. May I ask for: 1) a reference for those "studies," 2) where they took place, 3) who acted as your mentor or teacher on these matters, and 4) what were their credentials? 'Cause I gotta tell you; your postulations point to a heavy dose of the McCarthy Hearings, and "I Led Three Lives", starring Richard Carlson, a '50s vintage TV show "documenting" the life of an ordinary citizen who infiltrates the CPUSA on behalf of the FBI. They also perhaps point to a lot of Rush and G. Gordon radio rabblerousing as well.

I, on the other hand, have seen Communists, (or "perceived" Communists), real close up -- both in war and here at home.

"Communists" At War

In war, as a U.S. Marine Corps, two tour veteran of Vietnam (1965-1966 & 1968), I certainly killed my share of those identified as "Communists," and gladly did so for Flag and Country. "Killing Commies For Christ", we used to call it. The horror in that statement is that everyone that we killed was not a "Communist" as described by the administrations of the time. They were people fighting for independence from foreign governments and influences. With a history of resistance, the Vietnamese had been fighting steadily for 27 years by the time we got there. They fought and defeated the Chinese (a couple of times), the French, and finally (in spite of all our efforts on the battlefield), the US (who actually defeated themselves). The Vietnamese fought for the right to self determination at individual and governmental levels.

Originally we were their allies in this effort, instrumental in bringing about the Geneva Accords following the fall of the French. Shortly thereafter, we violated this alliance using the trumped up (and politically expedient) Gulf Of Tonkin incident and Resolution. We made war on Communism under the guise of the Domino Theory of containment (see, scholarly studies that document my statements. Scroll down on the site for the VVAW and Swifties panels.)

"Communists" at Home

At home, through personal antiwar activities, I came to know the CPUSA, campus/intellectual Commies (students and college professors) and political activists (usually unwitting operatives of the FBI COINTEL Program). This led me to becoming VVAW Regional Coordinator for California/Nevada from 1972 to 1974 with offices in Los Angeles.

And yes, ROYOLDSBOY, unlike in Tejas, there were Vietnam veterans who professed Marxist and Maoist doctrines popular on the campuses at that time, especially in the major cities of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. For several years, we battled to keep them from re-writing the activist Vietnam Veterans' mission of stopping the war in Vietnam to their agenda of violent revolution in the streets of America. At that time in the movement, these were perceived to be related issues.

Since the Peace Movement really got started on campuses, it is not surprising that there were indeed what you and your friends call "Communists" in the Movement. Operatives/minions of strategic Far Right initiatives often label anyone who disagrees with them "Card-carrying Communists," hoping to color their political enemies as unworthy of consideration.

Not once did, ROYOLDSBOY, did I ever see a "card" like not. Nor am I sure who might have been "card carrying" and who was not. Either way; it did not seem relevant. If someone, in fact, chose to be a Communist in America, that was a Constitutionally-protected right, however unpopular it was among many blue collar workers and the middle class at the time. The same Constitution I served and protected for nearly ten years as a US Marine, my father served as an Army medic in World War II. Mortally wounded at Normandy on 6June1944, my dad now lies in a US cemetery in St. James, France.

Later, the basic "Constitutional Right" would be reinforced with the downfall of the little fascist "Tailgunner Joe," aka Senator Joe McCarthy. A shallow human being with a political bent that required hate-filled rhetoric, name calling and personal assassination, McCarthy's heavy boot heels attempted to destroy the Constitution, Truth and History for personal, capital and political gain.

You seem to have a real strange criteria for role models, ROYOLDSBOY.

You rhetorically chastised PEACEVET for not being aware of Communists or associates (or as Tailgunner called them, "Fellowtravellers") within VVAW. You even conceded that since PEACEVET worked in Texas, that fact might be plausible -- but his experience meant nothing to you. So, which way is it gonna be ROYSOLDBOY? It meant enough to you that PEACEVET or others in VVAW might be Commies or sympathizers to pour out your venom, misinformation, disinformation and speculation to the world via the Internet under the guise of Political Truth. Unsupported lies like that can damage others' humanistic causes and reputations. Yet, when proven wrong and presented with personal firsthand knowledge of events and documentable facts; it means "nothing" to you?

As you have already read, I am a combat veteran of Vietnam, and served as the California/Nevada Regional Coordinator of VVAW. During my tenure, I was wrongly accused of being a Communist by political foes, as well as an FBI operative by California Movement Commies. It is sad to note that sometimes the Far Right and the Far Left often bump ideologically into one another as they walk, hand and hand in the dark, attempting to influence the hearts and minds of freedom-loving, free-thinking American Patriots.

And as to your question regarding the leadership of the rest of the VVAW chapters in "50 states," I am glad to be of service! VVAW was not organized by states, as you suggested, it was organized into 28 regions, most led by Regional Coordinators I was personally familiar with, including some of the coordinators listed below:

Scott Camil (Florida/Georgia)
* Combat Marine, veteran of Vietnam
* Proven in Federal Court (check court documents, Dittoheads) during the Gainesville 8 Conspiracy trial not to have "Communist affiliations."
* Found not guilty of all charges in that farcical and unsuccessful endeavor by Guy Goodwin, Special Prosecutor & Nixon lackey, to break the back of the VVAW. It only strengthened our already steely resolve to end the war, and bring down the Nixon gang.
* Scott was and is no Communist. He is a patriot.

John Kniffen (Texas)

* Regional Coordinator subsequent to PEACEVET's tenure
* Combat Marine, veteran of Vietnam
* Acquitted of all charges, allegations and Communist affiliations as a defendant in the Gainesville 8 Conspiracy trial.
* Recently succumbed to his battle with cancer (as though he had not had enough s*** to deal with in life) as a result of his love and never ending struggle for Freedom and Democracy.
* John was no Communist. He was a true American patriot. All of us whom he touched and served with miss him terribly.

Gunny John Musgrave (Kansas)

*Combat Marine veteran...personal friend.
*Leader of men, champion of the underdog, soft-spoken, strong-fisted, smart, funny and politically astute. Another American Patriot.
*Commie, my ass!

John Kerry (New England)
* US Naval Officer, Swift Boat commander and combat Veteran
* US Senator and recent Democratic candidate for President of the United States
* Chairman of the Committee that brought the Nixon gang's crimes on POW issues to light, ensuring that POWs and MIAs would not be left behind and unaccounted for, as Nixon and Kissinger had done in Vietnam. Communist propaganda? Nope. You can read it in the Congressional Record.
* A true American patriot.

In closing, ROYSOLDBOY, I can state unequivocally from personal experience and documented firsthand research, that the leadership of VVAW were not Commies, but often struggled with attempts by Commies and others to co-opt VVAW's massive public appeal -- the same appeal that resulted in the downfall of the Nixon administration's war efforts in Vietnam. The VVAW National Steering Committee, made up of these 28 Regional Coordinators, met quarterly, voted on and unanimously approved several position papers disassociating itself with the Communist movement and associated front organizations.

As a final irony, you can find documentation for much that I have written here at under the "Complete VVAW FBI Files." This is the site put together by Scott Swett, a Not-So-Swift lackey webmaster designed to bash John Kerry and VVAW during the recent presidential election. The Winter Soldier name derives from the title added by Commies to VVAW in the closing days of the Vietnam War. This occurred after the battle to end the war had been won, and when most major VVAW patriots had gone on to other venues in life. How crazy is it that those virulent anti-commies of the Not-So-Swift variety would choose a documentable Communist banner to name their website? Go figure!

Semper Fi!
Willie Hager