Page 30


Stanford University Press v aoi? Grassroots Ott Os How the Iowa Caucus Helps Elect American Presidents CHRISTOPHER C. HULL “Grassroots Rules is a tour de force. The author’s conclusions will intrigue casual readers and startle political practitioners. Anyone in need of a thorough road map for where the 2008 presidential race begins should make Grassroots Rules their first stop.” Jim Pinkerton, Newsday columnist Over a Barrel The Costs of U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence JOHN S. DUFFIELD “John Duffield is at once an excellent political scientist, experienced observer of American foreign affairs, clear and crisp writes and pragmatic policy analyst. His study on the costs of our foreign oil addiction is an excellent guide to those wishing to understand this critical challenge for our planet’s environmental sustainability and our nation’s economy and security.” Michael E. O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution $27.95 cloth Middle Eastern dust and sand, and a middle-aged couple hesitantly, but tenderly, touching a name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It can be found on YouTube. Willie also gives out noncommercial DVDs that contain the emotionally powerful “Jimmy’s Road” video, followed by the anti-Iraq War song he wrote on Christmas 2003, “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?” In it, Willie bluntly questions the killing, the false premises for going to war, the betrayal of Christian morality, and the passive gullibility of average Americans. We believe everything that they tell us. They’re gonna’ kill us. So we gotta’ kill them first. But I remember a commandment, Thou shall not kill. How much is that soldier’s life worth? And whatever happened to peace on Earth? Forthrightly inviting controversy, Willie told Reuters in 2003, “If you write something like this and nobody says anything, then you probably haven’t struck a nerve.” Nelson also sings of how information about the war has been controlled: Now you probably won’t hear this on your radio, Probably not on your local TV, But if there’s a time, and i fyou’re ever so inclined, You can always hear it from me. How much is one picker’s word worth? And whatever happened to peace on Earth? Lost Highway Records digitally released the song on November 21, 2006, with all proceeds going to the benefit of the National Veterans Foundation. The DVD ends with a reading, by a female voice, of Mark Twain’s short story, “The War Prayer,” over scrolling text. By juxtaposing “Jimmy’s Road” with “The War Prayer,” Willie Nelson closes a circle. Twain wrote his tale in 1904. It talks about how critics of the SpanishAmerican and Philippine-American wars were threatened with becoming social outcasts or worse: “For their personal safety’s sake, they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.” It offers a scathing indictment of the perversion, through barbaric acts of war, of the great Christian commandment of love for fellow human beings. In “The War Prayer,” Twain focuses on what we do in war to our enemies; Willie, in “Jimmy’s Road,” on what we do to our own young men. Twain’s own daughter Jean told him “The War Prayer” would be considered sacrilegious. Twain feared the effect it might have on sales of his writing, which he needed to support his family. He decided that it should be published posthumously, as it was in 1923, because “only dead men can tell the truth in this world.” By contrast, Willie’s daughter Amy co-wrote “A Peaceful Solution” with him on April 29, 2007. It is available online, copyright-free, at Willie Nelson’s Peace Research Institute \(willienelsonpri. founded the same month. The Institute’s Web site promotes broadbased action for peace and offers links to many organizations aimed at humanitarian causes. Willie and Amy’s song declares that the real war we all need to be fighting is the war to reclaim our own country. Willie is alive and speaking out, still doing his honest best to prove Mark Twain dead wrong. Tom Palaima teaches war and violence studies at the University of Texas at Austin. CALL FOR SILENT AUCTION DONATIONS Once again, the Observer will have its renowned silent auction along with the upcoming Fat Cat Schmoozefest & Rabble Rouser Roundup music celebration on January 20, 2008. If you have an item or service to donate, please let us know. It’s a great way to get the word out on your business, and to help the Observer. Contact Julia Austin at 512-477-0746 or [email protected] JANUARY 11, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 39