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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Veterans Memorial Day and the race for Oregon Senate District 23

Portland, Oregon—

I’m going to cut right to the chase: The fact is that the American people largely accept the war casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They shrug it off, complain a little, but at the end of the day have something else on their minds; like, for example, ethanol, and they shrug it off.

These wars are happening to Other People, Elsewhere, On TV.

Some offer Moments of Silence now and then; but the People are already silent, I say, and moments of silence are nothing more than that, opportunities to be silent together and reinforce our devotion to silence.

The nation’s college campuses are hotbeds of inaction and rest, if not outright privilege. You’d never know there was a war on, hanging out on campus.

This is how wars drag on for ten or thirty years or more, even in democratic societies. It starts with an acceptable casualty rate, which is related to the nation’s sense of who is, well, expendable.

If the nation is settled on losing only the expendable, then business and politics can proceed as usual, like in the recent Oregon primary races.

Here we are on Memorial Day, a holiday marked by many with profligate displays of high-octane fuel-burning, and by many millions of Americans who spend the weekend setting tanks of fossil fuels on fir, mile by mile over the asphalt roads and highways.

Many complain about the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel; can’t seem to connect the price spike with the fact that if you invade an oil-producing nation on the other side of the world, you should expect the price to go up.

Throughout the entire primary period, there was no public discussion of veterans issues or the costs of the wars. I brought the subject up twice in the Williamette Week interview, also in the Oregonian and Matt Davis (Portland Mercury) interviews.

The Skanner didn’t even have interviews, figure that one out. Too busy putting out a newspaper once a week, lots of cutting and pasting from the AP wire involved.

None of the local Portland races ever got out of the bubble, the war nonexistent even in its impact on local budgets and resources, apparently.

The candidates for federal offices alone recognized the wars exist, offering challenges and counterchallenges on what to do about the wars.

No one pointed out that whatever direction the troops move in, the move will result in loss of life. Whatever you do, people will die—our people, our loved ones.

There is no way that someone standing here in Oregon can know how to make that happen.

Every path from Iraq leads through death and destruction, which is why it is so important not to launch an invasion in the first place, and so vital for the People and their elected officials to stop being so damned silent.

Our injured will come home to a long-overwhelmed VA system and politicians with ethanol on their minds.

In a truly democratic society, every single elected official who had a piece of moving our military and their families into endless hell ought to have been tossed out of office more than four years ago. None merit re-appointment or re-election.

Those who were in office and let it happen on their watch ought to have been put on probation at minimum, some already cashiered by now.

Senate District 23 and House Districts 45 and 46, on this day, are much like the rest of the nation: The wars are happening to Other People, Elsewhere, On TV.

The Ethanol Mafia is celebrating the Senate District 23 primary victory of my opponent, a little too early in my book.

My guess is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will still be ruining the lives of our loved ones in November, and for we military families, alone bearing the burden, veterans issues will trump any other interest.

I am calling for the appointment of a new, permanent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and I will—with your help--serve there, starting in January, 2009.

This Senate committee will work in a nonpartisan way, alongside the overburdened House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Governor’s Office, to address the critical needs of our troops, our veterans and their families.

No more will there be a day in the Oregon Senate when the flags are at half staff outside of the Capitol and yet there is no honoring of the fallen in either House or Senate chamber, and that’s just for starters.

We have more than five months to muster, to organize a write-in campaign, and deliver a historic victory in the November general election.

This change will be immediate, C.O.D.

--Sean Cruz, May 25, 2008

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The Oregonian Editorial Board on Senate District 23:

“Cruz…knows the issues well…”

“Sean Cruz, who has served as (Senator) Gordly's legislative aide and chief of staff for the past five years…is qualified for the job. He knows the issues that are important in the district, and he certainly knows how things get done in the Legislature. Most notably, he persuaded Gordly to push legislation, called ‘Aaron's Law,’ that gives families tools to punish parents for the crime of child abduction. “

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