The Brotherhood of the Lottery
July 24, 2004
By John Lucas
There is one day in my life that I will never forget, the day
I returned - alive and well - from Vietnam. When thinking about
that day, there is a rush of feeling and remembrance of the sights,
smells and sounds of that wondrous day.
Getting off that plane in Washington State with everything so green
and the air so fresh, about 150 young men just got home from Vietnam.
Some kissed the ground, others were yelling crazy things, but everyone
was so high you would have thought they had just won the lottery,
which of course, they had.
These boys were the very happy, very lucky members of the Brotherhood
of the Lottery.
Despite the sadness, it always comforts me when I meet or hear
about a fellow brother whose life has turned south on him, for I
know that for at least one day in his life anything and everything
was possible. There are many in this world who will never have a
day like that, and there are many who lost in that lottery.
When you go into the military you sign a contract. Once you take
that step forward, you are theirs, but even then when it comes to
assignments the military has a certain set of rules that they are
supposed to follow. When I was in the Army they sent you to Vietnam
for 12 months, and if you were a Marine it was 13 months. You knew
what you had to do and you tried to make the best of it.
When President Bush went on TV and said "Bring it on," I knew
exactly what he meant. He had rammed tax cuts through the Republican-controlled
Congress to the benefit of the wealthiest Americans, and now not
only would the rest of America have to carry a greater burden paying
for his stupid war in Iraq, but their sons and daughters would have
to fight it for him. I did not think I could get angrier, but I
I saw a story about a reservist infantryman named Justin from
Portland, Oregon. He worked in a bakery, and from all accounts was
a good kid who joined the reserves to make some money to go to school.
I know some things about him, even though I never met him.
Time went very slowly for Justin in Iraq. When you are young and
in a place like that, the days go by very slowly. There were times
he was scared, but there was also boredom. His life had taken on
a surreal quality that happens to all soldiers, but he did his duty.
He knew the date he was supposed to go home. Every day he X-ed
out a day on his short timer's calendar. He could tell you how many
days he had left to do. You probably could have gone up to Justin
and asked him how long he had to go and he would fire back "43 days
and a wake up" or whatever. Towards the end his buddies tried to
keep him as safe as possible.
When it came time for Justin to go home, Uncle Sam said, "Sorry
Justin, your stay here is extended." In less than a month Justin
became a losing member in the Brotherhood of the Lottery. In spite
of doing everything he was supposed to do, he was denied a day he
would have remembered for the rest of his life. There are certain
rules when you are a short timer. They had changed the rules in
They do not have enough soldiers. A part of me says if this war
in Iraq is such an important war, where are the wealthiest Americans'
kids such as Bush's daughters? They are voting with their feet.
The tax cuts have made sure they go to good schools such as Yale
or University of Texas where the Bush daughters went.
Those schools force you to take a course called Critical Thinking.
They knew that if Saddam Hussein could not even control the northern
part of his own country, how could he be a threat to us? They knew
that the inspectors were in Iraq and were doing their job when the
President ordered the invasion, and that up to that time had not
found any WMDs.
They knew that Bin Laden was a religious fanatic and that Saddam
was a secular tyrant who was more scared of him than he was of us,
and there is no way they would work together. In other words, their
only source of news was not the "liberal media" whose only source
seems to be the Bush White House.
I would like to blame the President and his crew, but they really
believe in what they are doing. They really believed our soldiers
would be met with flowers. They actually said it. They should be
This Iraq policy was designed by Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle
and Rumsfield etc. Not one was a member of the Brotherhood of the
Lottery. Bush, of course, dishonored himself by using political
pull to get out of the draft and into the Air Guard forcing someone
else to become a member of the Brotherhood.
They are supported in this insanity by their soul mates Rush Limbaugh,
Sean Hannity, Dennis Miller and the ever popular Michael Savage.
None of these idealogues are members of the Brotherhood either.
The macho act these blowhards put up is getting a little old especially
when all they do is talk the talk and let the boys and girls of
the second America walk the walk.
The problem is the media. I am not talking about the New York
Post or the Fox News Channel for they make no pretense of journalistic
integrity. We like to bash lawyers, but the real choice is lawyers
or guns. We love to bash reporters, but the real choice is tyranny
or journalistic integrity. When Tim Russert interviewed the President,
he could have asked him about Ben Barnes getting him into the National
Guard ahead of 150 others. Russert knew the truth.
The New York Times has apologized for not investigating
the WMD reports coming out of the administration. Has ABC, NBC or
CBS? The number of people who believe that there is a connection
between Saddam and al Qaeda is amazing. There are reports that show
that they were in fact blood enemies and could never work together.
In this world of mass media the number of lies and distortions
of the truth is staggering. It is time for the media to get back
to doing its job, which is to try to search for the truth. No one
can be completely objective, but it is in the trying that journalism
has proven its great value in a free society.
If the media had been doing their job, Bush would be getting clobbered
at the polls, we would not have invaded Iraq, and Justin would not
be a losing member of the Brotherhood of the Lottery; he would be
going to school in Portland, Oregon.