Wally Wonders Why

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AWOL

All hail Paul Harvey

ode Hold on there; Paul Harvey didn’t get elected so why the hail?  Well why not?  He is the king; the king of looking for the rest of the story.  And darn it where would we be if we’d never heard that melodious phrase “and now here’s the rest of the story.”

When I pick up our paper, It would be helpful if there were  a little Paul Harvey running around the pages shouting out the rest of the story.  Thankfully there is no little gnome, as that would actually be scary, but neither is there, on many occasions,  the “rest of the story.”

Such was the case reading Local Iraq veterans discuss life after war in this mornings paper.  As the title indicates, the article covers a forum at WWU where Iraq veterans discuss life after war.

The veterans, English, Rick Lawson, Ash Woolson and Jared Gardner, discussed difficulties they face in receiving benefits from their service from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or, for some, overcoming post traumatic stress disorder.

Doris Kent, whose son, Jonathan Santos, died in Iraq, and Tiffany Schoessler, whose husband, Adam, is a veteran, discussed what is was like to go through life with a loved one serving in a combat zone.

Listening to those who have served is an invaluable experience and I almost feel it a duty for those of us who haven’t served in the military.  I’ve listened to many a relative’s story of WWII or Vietnam and only on occasion heard the troubling rest of the story.  I’d encourage people to listen intently to anyone who has or is serving; there always seems to be more to a story.

The story of this article is no different; there is a rest of the story.  And as the rest of the story unfolds, I should remind you that nothing past this point was available to the thousands of subscribers who only read the regular paper.

Sam Taylor had more of the story in a blog post which he describes as information coming from a group connected with the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (WPJC).

Join a discussion with local veterans and those directly affected by the Iraq war, as they share stories of what it means to return after war time. The community is invited to an unbiased, depoliticized discussion around issues of what it means to be a returning soldier in the U.S., current V.A. treatment, and readjusting to civilian lives. This event is co-sponsored by Bellingham GI Sanctuary city, Social Issues Resource Center, Veterans Outreach Center, and Civil Controversy Series.

More towards the rest of the story, Sam has included the list of sponsors when he passed on the WPJC information for the event.  However, the real rest of the story lies deeper than just naming the sponsors.  The first sponsor is a likely candidate to look at for the rest of the story because, also in Sam’s blog post was information about a fundraiser for the group.

Join the Bellingham GI Sanctuary city campaign as we celebrate an evening to benefit war resisters in Bellingham. “The Desserter” is a gathering, party, dessert music show to support the campaign to make Bellingham a Sanctuary city for war resisters. Join us for an evening of celebration and conversation.

So the “unbiased, depoliticized discussion” the paper subscribers read about was actually sponsored by a group who wishes “to make Bellingham a Sanctuary city for war resisters” or as the WPJC referred to it in their newsletter, “support the campaign to make Bellingham a war resister friendly community.”

Here’s what the group says about themselves at GI Sanctuary City, Bellingham, WA.

The people of Bellingham are calling for an ordinance that will provide legal sanctuary for member s of the military who exercise their duty to object to an illegal war. To that end, we hope to have grassroots community effort to urge City Council to pass resolutions to not waste public funds on the arrest or detention of service members who are absent without leave.

Really?  The people of Bellingham are calling for this ordinance?  You’d think that’d be in the paper if it were the case.  So really, the supposedly innocuous “unbiased, depoliticized discussion” veils the rests of the story, which is the campaign by a few in Bellingham to see the city become a haven for AWOL soldiers.  And not just a place to gather covertly as it is right now, but they are asking Bellingham to ignore laws and not arrest or detain service members who are absent without leave.

Now you know the rest of the story, but what about the paper reading portion of the public?  Why did the Herald keep the rest of the story from them?   When will we hear the rest of the story?

You deserve a pat on the back

pat If you are part of the ever more vocal right in Whatcom County, then I think you deserve a pat on the back this morning.  Not only have Republicans, new and old, made a strong showing in local elections, but we also seem to have turned a corner in voicing our opinions.

Yesterday, Scott Ayers wrote Fair recruiting letter creates a letters to the editor flood which describes how he was amazed at the “stir one letter to the editor can create.”  He describes that one letter.

On Monday Aug. 18 we published a letter from Everett Bone of Bellingham expressing displeasure with the U.S. Army’s recruiting booth at the Northwest Washington Fair. Bone said he thought of the fair as a place for families and “not war” and encouraged people to contact fair officials demanding they not allow a recruiting booth in the future.

He goes on to write

Since that letter published, I have received more than a dozen responses, almost all disagreeing with Bone’s letter and expressing their unhappiness with what they perceived as a lack of support for the U.S. military and the troops.

Bravo, I applaud everyone who wrote one of those “more than a dozen responses” not only because you were individually standing up for those who defend our nation, but also because you, perhaps even unbeknownst to yourself, just fought in battle against “turf” as I believe Mr. Ayers once called letters such as Mr. Bones.  Turf, or Astro-Turf letters are meant to feign real grassroots efforts while in reality are part of a well constructed effort, as seems the case with Mr. Bones letter.   His letter of August 18 closely followed an August 14 “Recruiter Alert” call by the Whatcom Peach and Justice Center for letters to the editor.

Portion of “Recruiter Alert” issued by WPJC August 14 Portions of Herald Letter to the Editor by Everett Bone, August 18
Their presence is appropriate at this festive family event. The Mission of the Lynden Fair is to “promote an appreciation for our agricultural heritage, provide education about the role agriculture plays in life”… and to be “a social gathering place where family values will be honored and individuals of all ages will be entertained.” The fair supposed to be an event for families, not war. If any time was more inappropriate for the Army to be “pre-recruiting” young people it is now. This is a shame to Whatcom County. The fair needs to stick to appreciating our agricultural heritage and provide education to our youth about the role agriculture plays in the future of our community and in the world, not war.
The Army set-up has a large group of young people wearing Army Strong shirts and dog tags. However, all but one are civilians, never having served, and work for a marketing company. To have people, with “Army strong” t-shirts out there trying to sell war to our children who are not even in the military is hypocrisy.
Write to or call the The Northwest Washington Fair Association President Curly Hoksbergen, and the eleven other board members (all males), and ask them to keep the recruiters out of future fairs because their presence is inconsistent with the Fair’s Mission. Please call or write the Northwest Washington Fair Association President Curly Hoksbergen, and the 11 other board members, and ask them to keep the recruiters out of future fairs because their presence is inconsistent with the Fair’s mission.

Hmm… reads like astro-turf and doesn’t smell like real grass…  You be the judge.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, liberal, socialist and what I call anti-US opinions dominated the Herald’s letters to the editor.  But today, letters from the same community that brought us the Troops Home Resolution, No War Against Iran, and run anti-recruitment effort in our public schools, are immediately, effectively and overwhelmingly shut down.

Those we disagree with most definitely have a right to write and voice there views.  However, we also have this right to write.  So everyone pat yourself on the back and then pick up the pen or pull yourself up to the keyboard.  After 1 or 2 more great defensive plays, the ball will change hands and we will be running on the offense.

Growing anti-US campaign that is a threat

Agustín Aguayo is the latest in what seems like an endless line of deserters, AWOL soldiers and anti-US veterans that the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center is pumping up as heroes.

WPJC hosts Iraq War Veteran & Resister Agustin Aguayo on Sunday, July 15, at 7pm at the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center. – WPJC

And it’s not that the WPJC is a big threat to our nation in themselves, but they are part of an ever growing anti-US campaign that is a threat.

Two years later, after his application for discharge as a conscientious objector was denied by the Pentagon, Army Spc. Agustín Aguayo went AWOL in order to resist redeploying to Iraq. He will explain why he chose jail instead of redeploying to Iraq. Agustín will be joined by his wife, Helga, who led a grassroots campaign for justice and freedom for him and all military war resisters. -courage to resist

Bellingham and the WPJC arejust another stop in a big talkshow circuit for aimed at tearing down our national defense and specifically this administration who lucky for us, is bent on our national defense. Here is a list of the others on the circuit. I’m sure a few names will be familiar.

Eli Israel
Eugene Cherry
Kyle Snyder
Suzanne Swift
Mark Wilkerson
Lt. Ehren Watada
Agustin Aguayo
Darrell Anderson
Ivan Brobeck
Ricky Clousing
Kevin Benderman

courage to resist

The actions and sentiment of these people and the groups which they allow to represent them are directly against the goals of our elected government. When I see the WPJC and their local associates standing on the street corner I see heroes for those who wish us harm; heroes for those who wish destruction of our nation. I don’t see American heroes. They certainly are not my heroes.

What else were the kids up to down at the college?

And this time I’m not talking about the students. It’s probably fresh in everyones mind that the State Democrats met recently and decided follow caucus results not primaries, but is it as fresh in your mind that in the same meeting they also passed a resolution promoting desertion in the military? If you’re like me it couldn’t be fresh because you never heard about it. Thanks to WhackyNation I now have the rest of the story and you do too.

BELLINGHAM – Leaders of the state Democratic Party voted overwhelmingly Saturday to support Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who refused orders to serve in Iraq.

“We support and commend Lt. Ehren Watada for his courage, moral leadership, and commitment to duty demonstrated by his act of resistance to the continued costly, destructive and immoral U.S. military occupation of Iraq,” the resolution said.

Watada is awaiting a court-martial in July. The central committee’s resolution calls on Washington Democrats in Congress to help him.

The News Tribune

Glorifying deserters, legalizing drugs, releasing felons, erasing borders; it continues to be beyond my comprehension why anyone thinks Democratic Party ideals are good for our county, state or our nation.

Oh there was at least one ray of hope in Mike Carnahan, a Democratic Central Committee member from Clark County who spoke against the Watada resolution.

It’s an all-volunteer military, he said. “I find it offensive as, a veteran, to have him doing what he’s doing”

tear it down!!!

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 4:03:43 PM
Subject: [studentsforademocraticsocietybellingham] Free EVENT Update on Tacoma Port Protest: Police State-attacking your human rightsNo Troop Surge!Last Friday 6 WWU/fairhaven students went down to the Tacoma Port to Protest the shipments of the war machines to Iraq. Police opened fire on peaceful protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper bullets, pepper spray, batons, tasers, etc.Tomorrow.Thursday March 15. 5pm in the Fairhaven Auditorium Students will be presenting their experiences at the Tacoma Port Protest. With Video Footage/ Pictures/ personal accounts
Come listen to their first hand experience of the violent police state.

tear it down!!!!!
and then rebuild it!

I guess I ran into this too late for any of us to attend, but I’m sure if we contact the Students for a Democratic Society they would put us on the mailing list for their next big event. We can still catch the video on Youtube.

“tear it down!!!” Forget voting, talking, equal say, supporting your reps. True democracy has to involve law breaking and tearing down our nation.

I jest of course. True democracy is where you peacefully voice your position and vote for reps who you feel will best represent your position. True democracy is about accepting when your position is in the minority and working peacefully to influence others in hopes that your position will someday be the majority. And if you can do that without tearing anything down then our society is strengthened. Democracy demands that we make the laws to be followed and follow the laws we make. Following the laws that suit you and breaking the laws that don’t is most commonly called anarchy.

23 people were arrested after peacefully crossing a barricade or wearing backpacks in an area where police had prohibited bags “This time we were successful in keeping Strykers from shipping out from the Olympia port, and were able to draw a lot of national and international attention

when police arrested five people for refusing orders to move off railroad tracks.

arrested two men and a woman early Monday, arrested another woman late Monday after she crossed a line on Milwaukee Way that police had designated as a boundary.

police arrested dozens and used pepper spray to stop people from climbing fences into port property.

When they refused, a chemical spray was released, Graham said. All but five protestors disbursed. The five who remained again refused to leave and were taken into custody

various stories in Tacoma News Tribune

Quite a list of accomplishments. For the police I mean. They seem to have arrested quite a few protesters. It would be nice to kid ourselves and think that these otherwise peaceful protesters just got caught up in the moment and things got out of hand, but those who wish to “tear it down!!!” have been planning.

“Port Militarization Resistance is organized to end our community’s complicity in the illegal occupation of Iraq by stopping the U.S. Military’s use of the Port of Olympia.”

PMR statement of purpose — 1/21/2007

I agree that forming ourselves into blockades is our best civil disobedience (CD) option for stopping the convoys.
I believe that the Olympia peace movement is now ripe for mass actions of civil disobedience.

Just as soldiers have a responsibility to disobey unlawful orders, civilians also have a duty to refuse to cooperate. WIP

we are doing the best that we can but we need more help and more radical input. Infoshop news

At the end of yesterdays post I made a snide comment about sending AWOL soldiers to the Middle East without guns so they could peacefully get their message out without fear of harming anyone. I will extend that comment to include these students and other protesters. After all they’ve been trying to support our soldiers by blocking shipments of equipment. Essentially leaving our soldiers to arrive with only the clothes on their back to defend themselves.

Among the vehicles to be shipped are more than 300 Strykers, each outfitted with slat armor that protects them from rocket-propelled grenades. But the metal cages make the Strykers about four feet wider and add some 5,200 pounds.

Quite ironic that these safer vehicles were bigger and had to be shipped through the port is what gave the protesters their opportunities to support our soldiers in their own unique, I don’t care if you die, kind of way.

Oh, and we wonder about the Bellingham City Council?

An Olympia City council member is among about two dozen anti-war demonstrators who have been arrested in anti-war protests at the Port of Tacoma. Council member T.J. Johnson was arrested Sunday afternoon while protesting the shipment of Army vehicles and equipment to Iraq. Johnson was among 15 others who were arrested for crossing a barricade. infoshop

Now You See It… No You Don’t.

Good news can sometimes be both fleeting and difficult to find. Today the paper Herald had a front page AP story which spoke about improvements in Iraq during the last months due to a US led security crackdown. The successes were in line with the claims of Iraqi Dr. Abd Al-Khaleg Hussein that I quoted last week in my post Success is Imminent. We get the paper at work, so I thought I would read the article more carefully when I got home. But at home I read the online Herald and the article by Robert H. Reid was nowhere to be found at the Herald site. I wondered why? Perhaps because of an oversight? Perhaps intentional? I don’t know, maybe comment section fear? So now you see the good news if you buy the paper and no you don’t get the good news if you read online. Here are a few highlights:

Bomb deaths have gone down 30 percent in Baghdad since the U.S.-led security crackdown began a month ago. Execution-style slayings are down by nearly half.

The once frequent sound of weapons has been reduced to episodic, and downtown shoppers have returned to outdoor markets – favored targets of car bombers.

There are signs of progress in the campaign to restore order in Iraq, starting with its capital city. But while many Iraqis are encouraged, they remain skeptical how long the relative calm will last.

Only two of the five U.S. brigades earmarked for the mission are in the streets, and the full complement of American reinforcements is not due until late May.

The rattle of automatic weapons fire or the rumble of distant roadside bombs comes less frequently. Traffic is beginning to return to the city’s once vacant streets.

“People are very optimistic because they sense a development. The level of sectarian violence in streets and areas has decreased,” said a 50-year-old Shiite, who gave his name only as Abu Abbas, or “father of Abbas.” “The activities of the militias have also decreased. The car bombs and the suicide attacks are the only things left, while other kinds of violence have decreased.”

SignonSanDiego.com

A lot of good news and even more in the article. Naturally their were the standard cautions about getting our hopes up, but this was generally a positive story. Too bad this AP story released yesterday was so fleeting. It was the good news that was fleeting, it was the story. I really had to dig to find it. It looks like AP has replaced it today with a shorter and not nearly as optimistic piece.

I still think we need to send at least 21,000 more troops.  But I had this other weird thought.  There are a lot of AWOL soldiers, deserters, resistors, whatever, who seem to strongly believe that guns and violence are not the way to fight a war.  I say we should embrace their philosophy by sending them to the Middle East sans guns,  but with US flags, signs and clipboards of course.

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