Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bob Rae does what needs doing (and does it well)

Forty years ago, American conscription created a lottery that meant a generation -- my exact contemporaries -- did not have the luxury I had of expressing political opinions without having to disobey the law. Many were able to get their requirement of service deferred. Some enlisted and then deserted, others just came to Canada as visitors and never left.
It was a different time then. Immigrants were not legally barred from applying for landed immigrant status from within Canada, and immigration officials were given much discretion in allowing young men through without asking too many questions about draft status or military service. That is not to say that decisions were taken lightly.
At the time, those coming over as draft dodgers and deserters knew they would not be able to return home without facing arrest. It would be years before a general amnesty would allow that to happen, and it applied just to the draft dodgers; deserters are still arrested if they return.
There was a sense of a deep inner conflict in each decision. Families left behind, parents bewildered, loyalties and values divided, often in ways that proved impossible to resolve.
The Pearson and Trudeau governments kept the border open, despite U.S. objections, and refused to allow Canadian border officials to become agents of American military policy. It strained the relationship -- as did public statements by Canadian officials about the war itself -- but it did not break it.
The Vietnam generation has made an extraordinary contribution to the life of the country. In every walk of life, in every profession, in every community, Canada is a better place because we decided to become a place of refuge for those seeking a different political home, even those who were defying American military law to do so.

The above is from Bob Rae's "Why U.S. war resisters deserve refuge in Canada" (Toronto Star) proving that not everyone has forgotten what actually happened and that some can make an argument that is effective and factual. To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.

On the front page of the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin contributes "Iraqi Shiites Reclaim a Village Razed by Sunnis" about Al Etha in Diyala Province:

Now, after nearly two years, 60 of the families have returned, offering a glimpse both of the tentative new peace that is becoming visible in many places throughout Iraq and of the tremendous difficulties ahead. The displaced return not only to destroyed houses, but also destroyed lives.

Rubin sees peace emerging. (She's not stating "Peace has come!") I see a people who feel wronged returning and the resentment breeding all over again (on both sides, Shi'ites and Sunnis). She's a reporter and she's offering her visual observations in an article worth reading. [Revolutions (rebellions and resistance) was one of my areas of emphasis in poli sci and I see something completely different taking place. And you can add in the impact on the elections -- if they take place -- in October.] The article should be read with Campbell Robertson's "Iraqi Forces Raid Mosque With Links To Sadrists" and the thing to concentrate on there is how will that help 'peace'. (Answer: It won't. It will only give the illusion of peace and allow more resentments to fester.)

Alan Feuer's "With Final Word of Soldiers' Deaths, More Tears, More Sorrow, Some Relief" covers the reactions to the news that US soldiers Alex R. Jimenez and Byron Fouty are no longer missing, classified as MIA or POWs. We noted the news in yesterday's snapshot. We'll quote Byron's mother Hillary Meunier here: "They said we'd never find him, but I have a sense of relief that at least he's back on American soil. I've believed for quite some time that Byron had passed on, that they had killed him. I had a small shread of hope but, in my heart of hearts, I knew that he was gone." Others were noted yesterday. (Hillary Meunier was noted from an interview published yesterday but conducted before she knew her son's body had been discovered.)

Do not read this as an insult to Ralph Nader's campaign or to him but I've made the decision (and will take any flack for it -- complain to me not Beth) that we're not noting him today. That has nothing to do with him. It has to do with today being Cynthia McKinney's day. The Green Party is holding its convention this weekend (it ends on Sunday) and that's really not be noted by most outlets you'd assume you could count on for coverage. Ralph's not usually noted by them either. The community is for Ralph. There's no "the majority is for . . ." Giving Cynthia her due today takes nothing away from Ralph. But the Democratic outlets (that we once wrongly assumed were actually left outlets) can't make time for Cynthia. We're not going to repeat that error here. The next entry will note Cynthia in some form. It is her day.

It being her day does not detract or minimize anyone else. It is merely giving her the due she's earned. (Is expected to earn when she receives the nomination today.)

I had said yesterday that we'd note Jason Wallace today and I think we still can since he's a Green. It's his day today as well. Ava and I caught some of the 'public affairs' programs yesterday and no one seems to know that a political party in this country is holding their convention. Doesn't know or doesn't care?

Wallace is running for Illinois' 11th Congressional district's seat in the House of Represenatives and this is his campaign's "Veterans issues personal for Wallace:"

Contacts: Tanya Austin, Campaign Manager, 309-532-3446,
Brandon Punke, Media Relations Coordinator, 309-826-6605,
Normal, IL - Veterans issues are of key importance to 11th Congressional district Green Party candidate Jason Wallace. Wallace, the only veteran in the race, is calling for several key changes in the government's approach to caring for those who have served in the United States military. These include changes in funding and coverage as well as his support for the idea of replacing Silver Cross in Joliet with a VA hospital.
Jason Wallace personally recognizes the frustrations that can be encountered by veterans when trying to obtain benefits. As a member of the Air National Guard, Jason was activated twice to serve in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a total of seventeen months. While serving in Kuwait, Jason volunteered for the base Honor Guard and earned the Air Force Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with valor, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Wallace feels that his personal experience in the military gives him an advantage over his opponents in understanding the problems veterans encounter. Wallace commented that "while I appreciate the service of Debbie Halvorson's stepson in the armed forces, my own military career of six years has allowed me to personally experience the realities of the VA."
Wallace calls for complete, mandatory funding for the VA. This is an idea that is supported by voters in the district. According to a question posed on the February 5th 2008 primary ballot in 23 counties, 1.14 million people voted yes when asked if the federal government should fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide care to those who were honorably discharged. Over ninety percent of voters in Lasalle and Grundy counties approved the referendum. Wallace added, "I will provide all of our veterans with free health care so that they can seek the medical care they need anywhere in the district, state, or country. Furthermore, while I support the idea of turning Silver Cross into a VA hospital, it would be useless if the system continues to be chronically under funded."
For more information on Jason Wallace, please visit

I assume it's obvious that I'm ticked off about the lack of coverage. If you 'consumed' 'news' yesterday -- especially from Panhandle Media -- think about how much coverage Barack or McCain got and ask yourself if you even heard that the Green Party was holding their convention?

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