Friday, April 30, 2004

A Long and Heartbreaking List of Names


At 15, I curled on my bed to study the glossy pages of that Life magazine, filled with the faces of every American lost in one week in Vietnam.

Many of the 242 photos, 20 per page, were high school senior pictures. These dead weren't much older than my boyfriend.

My parents subscribed to Life, known then as America's favorite magazine. But in that week in June 1969, it smacked us all in the head with those faces. I looked into their eyes, and I thought simplistically, as children do: "This is so sad and so wrong."

Wrong because I couldn't put into sensible words why so many young soldiers had to vanish from the world or how the world would be better for the sacrifice of their heartbeats.

Half an hour of names

Tonight, "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel will pose the same challenge to Americans with a half-hour recitation of the names of more than 530 men and women killed by hostile fire in Iraq.

Twenty were from Michigan.

As he reads, the screen will unroll their faces, ages and hometowns as a ribbon of whys.

Each of us must choose: to avoid the litany, to watch until we're bored or shattered, or to force ourselves to face all those eyes, imagine those lives and draw what conclusions we will.

Koppel's producer contends the show, without even background music, isn't meant to boost ratings. It isn't a political statement, he says, although conservative editor William Kristol slammed it as "a statement with a capital S, and . . . a stupid statement." Its timing falls smack at the end of the worst month of the war and fails, Kristol said, to name the dead from Afghanistan or those killed in 9/11's terrorism.

I'd add that it also neglects the Iraqi dead. Naming them would require a long series of "Nightlines."

Koppel's producers can't predict whether people will watch for 20 seconds or 20 minutes or not at all. But we know from experience that the reading of the names of the dead from any tragedy is compelling and hypnotic.

Continue reading article at Link

Urban renewal - Albuquerque style

Greenspan's Choice: Scylla or Charybdis?
by Nelson Hultberg

In Homer's famous epic, the Odyssey, its hero Ulysses must endure a long series of dangerous adventures in his journey home from the Trojan Wars. He and his men come under fire at every turn, as some new, death-threatening predicament is thrust upon them in their efforts to find their way back to their wives and families. The one-eyed monster Cyclops imprisons them in his cave, while the beautiful seductress Circe turns Ulysses' men into swine. The Sirens force Ulysses to tie himself to the ship's mast so as not to be lured to his death by their irresistible songs.

Only the blind cannot see Scylla and Charybdis looming up ahead -- waiting to consume us. As Richard Russell so sagely puts it, "What the Fed and the US government have done is to build the greatest edifice of debt ever seen by one country in history. And this debt continues to build. For the US government, the debt build-up is continuing at the rate of over $13 billion a WEEK. The current rising trend in interest rates will bear down on this ocean of debt. This pits the forces of deflation directly against the forces of inflation.

"This impending battle of inflation vs. deflation is going to be one of the most critical economic confrontations seen in decades. Frankly, I don't know how it's going to turn out -- and neither does anyone else. In fact, I'd say 99 percent of the US population is unaware that it's even happening." [Dow Theory Letters, April 13, 2004]

Obviously to those of us who are aware of the impending battle, knowing which of these two scenarios awaits us would be most advantageous. Will America explode into hyperinflation, or will she collapse into all-consuming deflation? If that could be known, then one could direct his investments accordingly and reap considerable profit in the markets. If only he knew for sure.

In the long run, collapse of some kind is coming. That is the unavoidable nature of a boom-bust Keynesian economy. But which will come first, Scylla or Charybdis?

Read entire article at Link

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My Feathered Friend

I've been asked to post this story again, since my writing website
Tales From The Land of Entrapment has been down for awhile....
This is a tale from our former home of twenty years. Apparently the
new owners moved in and started pissing off everyone, not realizing
they now live in a hornet's nest--a family of warring neighbors that goes
back hundreds of years. The neighbors are not happy that the newcomers
are dealing out some of their own medicine - bulldozing, cutting down
trees, replacing beauty with rocks and gravel, noise and traffic -
just like they did all those years!
So it is with some nostalgia and no regrets I present this...
Tale from the Land of Entrapment:

(This is also a post for May 1 - Sound and Place on the collaborative weblog/wiki
for Writing About Place, Ecotone Wiki)

My Feathered Friend

In the '60s we protested for peace--now?--we'll settle for some peace and quiet.

Our home in Corrales may seem peaceful, yet with the whizzing traffic up front at the road and the barnyard cacophony in back, it is hardly ever quiet. A houseguest emerged from his slumber one morning with a puzzled look on his face, asking, "Is there a zoo around here?" The cows' mysterious mooing is like a cross between a rusty gate hinge and an elephant mating call.

Our second-story bedroom opens out onto a deck facing west towards the irrigation ditch and the rising escarpment. You can hear everything at once from up there?those cows, horses, burros, goats, sheep, yowling tomcats and howling coyotes, literally. Bullfrogs and crickets throb through summer nights occasionally pierced by the eerie feline cries of peahens. Church bells bong on Sunday morning, while hot-air balloons hiss and drift over the field, accompanied by a chorus of barking dogs.

Mornings we awaken, depending on the season, to honking geese, raucous crows, chortly finches and sparrows squabbling; the strange and wonderful sandhill cranes cruising by; woodpeckers working at the eaves, or comedic roadrunners chattering, challenging a watchful cat.

Sometimes I lie semi-awake in bed listening for my favorite bird, so small I?ve never seen her, yet she returns each spring with her distinctive song?a long story with a question mark at the end. She arrives with a big voice by the time the apricot trees burst into blossom, alive with an industry of bees.

Other days are less pleasant--rude awakenings to the sounds of my neighbor?s recreational bulldozing, incessant beeping front-end loaders and backhoes scraping, chainsaws, road construction and heavy equipment hitting it hard at 6 a.m.

continue reading at myfeatheredfriend.html
Show Me The Jobs
By Judith Gorman, AlterNet

For the past several weeks, President Bush has been barnstorming the
country to tell us the good news - the nation's payrolls grew by
308,000 in the month of March, the largest one month jump in four
years. "People are finding jobs, and the nation's future is bright.
America's families and workers have reason to be optimistic."

So what are these "new jobs?" Well, 13,000 of them are California
grocery workers returning to work after an extended strike. Another
31,000 represent new government jobs. 71,000 "new jobs" are in the
construction industry, a seasonal upswing independent of the
President's policies. 11,000 "new jobs" are in credit intermediation,
reflecting the surge in home refinancing due to low interest rates.
And 36,000 "new jobs" are in health care or social assistance, jobs
created to help people who no longer have jobs.

What the President fails to mention is the bad news. As New Jersey
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) remarked: "Only in the Bush 'economic
recovery' can our country gain jobs and increase the unemployment
rate in the same month."

......So where does President Bush's good news come from? Corporate profits
have risen 57.5% since the first quarter of 2001, while private wage
and salary income has fallen 1.7%. According to Business Week, the
average compensation for CEO's of large corporations in 2003 was $8.1
million, up 9.1% from the previous year. In the Bush lexicon, that's
called a "recovery."

Read more at link

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Operation Iraqui Liberation -- O.I.L.

Here's another consideration, as we wipe away tears for the
human cost of war in Iraq. What about the economy, stupid?
War is good for the economy, isn't it?

War in Iraq Aims a Bullet at the Heart of the Economy
By James K. Galbraith
Los Angeles Times

There's no indication that Bush thought through the potential for far-reaching fiscal damage

The U.S. had one good economic experience with war. World War II conquered the Depression, reindustrialized the country and built the middle class. But that was special. The U.S. fought WWII with full mobilization, super-high taxes, super-low interest rates, big deficits, price controls and rationing. Iraq isn't going to be like World War II.

Economically, the Iraq war is more like Vietnam: insidiously underestimated, sold to the public and Congress on false premises, improperly budgeted and inadequately taxed. During the Vietnam years, there was also economic growth at first. But then came creeping inflation, followed by worldwide commodity shocks, the oil crisis of 1973, international monetary disorder and a decade of economic troubles.

Could it happen again? Yes, it could.

Did Team Bush think through the economics of a long and costly war? There is no evidence it did. It counted on the war being quick, cheap and self-financing. If it thought about the long-range economics, there seems to have been only one goal: control of oil.