Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beyond Bracelets: What Veterans Want

Unpublished op-ed by Liam Madden and Nan Levinson
29 September 2008

As both candidates demonstrated in last Friday’s debate, wearing a bracelet to commemorate a dead soldier is one way to show support for U.S. troops. Keeping promises to living soldiers and veterans would be a better one, especially if you intend to be president.

In August, 70 members of the nonpartisan Iraq Veterans Against the War marched to the Democratic and Republican national conventions to deliver letters and briefings to the campaigns of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

In Denver, veterans in uniform led thousands of civilians on a four-mile march to the gates of the DNC, where IVAW petitioned the Democrats to discuss its main goals: immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq, full veterans benefits, and restored sovereignty and reparations for the Iraqi people. As hundreds of riot police faced off against them, the former soldiers and marines calmed the crowd by reaffirming their commitment to non-violence and their respect and sympathy for the police officers. Several police had tears streaming down their faces and one broke down, leaving his phalanx altogether.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Subtitle: definition

Subtitle: The predictable and only intermitantly interesting story of how we’ve come to the point where every book must have a very long subtitle including the words, “why,” “how,” and “what you can do about it” and why suggesting to your publisher that maybe your book could do without a subtitle brings a gasp of disbelief followed by a pained disquisition about how bookstores wouldn’t know which shelf to bury it on, with a digression about why some marketing person somewhere decided that some novel needed to be subtitled “A Novel,” so that soon, what you can do about it is to subtitle every novel "A Novel,” just in case inattentive readers or, for that matter, bookstore shelvers, might mistake it for a manual on home birth or perhaps a duck and how (like) cute you can be in your subtitle and (like) still get away with it or (alter)na(t)ively why you can man(gle) words to (re)veal new meaning and when it’s appropriate to include the name/nickname of your pet or/or spouse in the subtitle and what difference it makes when you’ve read the most interesting parts of the book in the subtitle and, of course, what you can do about it (hint: not much)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My scoop on stop loss

Soldiers challenging 'stop loss' policy
Unfortunately, it went nowhere, as so many of the court challenges did. The lead John Doe dropped out of the lawsuit and returned to Iraq, and the Army continued to stop loss soldiers into 2009, though it announced that it was winding that involuntary retention down. As of September 2008, when I exchanged emails with Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army PAO, a total of 120,300 soldiers in the regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserves had been stop-lossed between January 2002 and May 2008.