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A follow-up to "Has this country gone completely insane?"

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Mike Ferner wrote a very disturbing article called "Has This Country Gone Completely Insane?"
about his recent experience at a VA Medical Center after a peace march. I read it and immediately made a 'quick link' to OpEdNews. I contacted him to let him know I had posted his article (and naturally told him about my "Invisible Ballots" project).

In the ensuing e-conversation, he gave some background for his article, which I think you will find interesting. This is direct from his email, which he has given me permission to share.

He writes:
here's an update on what's going on with my situation, and thanks again for writing.

i've spoken with the illinois aclu and they're taking the case. i'll be
fighting this all the way and will keep you posted. as i stated in the
story, this kind of behavior must absolutely be resisted or we are well on our way to a police state in the current climate. by the way, the shirt said "veterans for peace" and that's it. it also has our logo on it, a military helmet with a dove.

be well. raise more hell.

mike ferner

ps: depending on which internet site you read the story i wrote, you may not have seen the additional context info: i'm from toledo, and was in Chicago to participate in the last week of a 320-mile, four-week peace walk sponsored by voices for creative nonviolence from springfield, ill. to the great lakes navy base near waukegan. when i got to Chicago friday, june 30, the group was on the south side of the city, and that day's walk ended at the jesse brown v.a. medical center. about 8-10 of us stood on the sidewalk in front of the facility with signs, mine said "demand quality healthcare for all veterans." -- rather appropriate since i served
as a navy corpsman 69-72 taking care of hundreds of wounded guys coming back from vietnam. we each took a bathroom break, leaving our signs outside.

when it was my turn, i went in and saw a coffee stand in the hallway and decided to get an ice coffee and sit down to rest my dogs for a while. in a few minutes, the v.a. cop came up to me and the rest is in the story.

interestingly, democracy now did an interview with me (the last 15 minutes in this segment) to which they invited the v.a. public affairs person. initially he said ok, and at the last minute backed out. the next day, the v.a.'s official response that i heard from a reporter, was that i was inside, protesting and talking to people, was asked to leave three times and refused, and was therefore arrested.

this is a lie. it is also shameful to see the v.a. lie to cover up a
violation of the first amendment, but of course, it's working to some
extent, as some people (callers to some radio shows i've been on) are now thinking that the v.a. must be right and i'm making it all up "for
publicity." one irate bush booster said i was a "cindy sheehan in men's clothing," whatever that's supposed to mean!

i can report, however, that out of over 400 email responses i've gotten, TWO have been negative, and about a dozen attorneys have volunteered to take the case. we will prevail.

and if you're not a member of veterans for peace, check us out. Affiliate (non-veteran) members are welcome, too.

Ed. Note: Mike's experience made me really mad. I imagined that he was talking about some backwater town (I admit, I was thinking the South) with backward attitudes. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that he was in Chicago, where I live. How embarrassing.

This stifling of dissent at all costs is a side effect of an unpopular war and a president who cannot tolerate or respect honest differences of opinion. To him, all dissent is unpatriotic. Wrap yourself in the flag and you're bulletproof. Maybe that's why there was such a big deal made out of the recent constitutional amendment proposal to ban flag burning. How many times have flags actually been burned? But what a powerful image. And a great rallying cry.

I was so glad that Mike got lawyerly help. I was prepared to go back to school (almost) in order to represent him myself if no one else stepped up to the plate. Thank you, ACLU!
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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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