My soldier son opposes this war

I have a son in the National Guard who was supposed to get out in June of this year, and there is a stop loss order for his unit just before he was to get out. So now he is trying to get a hardship release – which may mean a “less than honorable” discharge and who knows what else.

He is the sole and full custodial guardian of his daughter. At first he was given no information on what to do to get out and then they got angry when he did something to get out. He has been in the Guard for eight years. He disagrees with this war! Anyway – he knows it’s all a smokescreen. Do you have any suggestions on how to get him released soon? Isn’t this involuntary servitude, aka slavery?

Mother of a soldierVia e-mail

Editors’ reply: You and/or your son might want to get in touch with the GI Rights Hotline: phone: 800-394-9544, web site:

Enron lesson

The indictment of ex-Enron officer Kenneth Lay should be a wakeup call to all workers and retirees that their health care benefits and pensions no longer are safe if ever they were. Now is the time to demand of your federal congresspeople that they immediately enact legislation preventing corporations from depriving retirees of today and tomorrow of their hard-earned “golden years” retirement.

Act now, before it’s too late.

Willard B. ShapiraMinneapolis MN

Ode to Neruda

But stand up with me and let us go off
together to fight face to face
against the devil’s webs,
against the system that distributes hunger,
against organized misery.

– Pablo Neruda

In spite of our fierce opposition to all, comrade Neruda, I take up your verb and proclaim: Bard, we still get stirred up, when fleeting meteors cruise the black abyss we called night. Poet, I am letting you know that the entire day is still long and prohibitive here.

The muddled and obstinate bury us and persist, cruelly make us forget the infinite stars and our humble origins of ashes, clay and corn.

In spite of our fierce opposition to all, comrade Neruda, our persistent verses like clandestine daggers of refined metal will glimmer victoriously upon the dangerous path of splendid battle (where murderous and wicked war breaks out), land and language will be reclaimed then as letters and magic for all.

Yes! to all the hungry children of heroic peoples resolved to die or to overcome.

Comrade Neruda, upright in struggle with our feet planted firmly on this black soil of fire, tyranny and battle, from academic halls of oppressed universities, from bleeding plazas, from shelters of volcanic mountains and clandestine trenches, we’ll always remember, and hail to you!

Rolando CarrilloVia e-mail

Conservatives for Nader?

Word has it that some state conservative parties are working to put Ralph Nader on their ballots in order to further dilute the Kerry vote. These are special times. Our nation and its people are in such dire straights that a second Bush administration will bring the fascism that is at our doorstep inside our homes. We must therefore adopt a new tack.

I urge we change our mindset from a pro-Kerry, pro-Nader, pro-Cobb or pro-anyone stance to an anti-Bush stance. Plan to enter the booth in November and pull for a candidate who has the only realistic chance of unseating the president – John Kerry.

Debs wrote that he would rather vote for a candidate he wanted and not win than for one he did not want and win. That is not true in 2004 as it was when said back in 1920.

We must enter the booth in November, grit our teeth, and vote anti-Bush. That will keep hope alive and afterwards we can use some of it to carry on our struggle.

Don Sloan MDNew York, NY

Teachers’ election brigade

As a family, we have watched the Bush administration bring our country into an unjust war. We have seen neighbors and friends lose their jobs. And we have seen “No Child Left Behind” take a wrecking ball to public education. As a mother of two teenage daughters, with the fear of the possibility of having them drafted into an unjust war, my daughters and I joined the Dump Bush Committee of the United Federation of Teachers and got on buses bound for Levittown, Pa.

It was a wonderful experience. We were greeted by the IBEW, and welcomed by a number of different unions. We were told that we were in Republican territory. They had us go out in teams.

My daughter and I did about five streets. The overwhelming majority said they were voting for Kerry, that Bush to go. One family with five family members, all in unions, said they were all voting Bush out. The father is now on strike and is witnessing what outsourcing is doing to the factory he works for.

One moving experience for us happened when we approached a house with a big banner that read “Support our Troops.” The mother came to the door and said, “Oh, yes, Bush has got to go. My son is coming home from Iraq for a visit today.” There were a number of undecided. Out of the five streets we canvassed only three households said they were Bush people.

It was announced that over the weekend 4,000 households were canvassed. We as a family are very proud that we have contributed in some way in helping to defeat Bush.

Maria OrtizMember, UFT
Brooklyn, NY