By the time this issue of Alibi hits the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico's senators, Republican Pete Domenici and Democrat Jeff Bingaman, will be chairing a confirmation hearing for Samuel Bodman, President Bush's nominee to be the next secretary of energy.
All Americans should be concerned about Bodman. During Bush's first four years, the Energy Department made important contributions to American security by preventing the proliferation of nuclear materials around the world. But at the same time, outgoing Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham oversaw efforts to put America on a hostile nuclear weapons footing, including promotion of the development of new bomb technologies and the resumption of nuclear testing. Those efforts, though blocked in Congress with the ultimate support of Sen. Domenici, could be revisited in the next four years, making it more likely that runaway nuclear proliferation will occur around the world.
As a former man of industry and then a high-level bureaucrat in other cabinet departments, Bodman is an unknown when it comes to nuclear affairs. Therefore, New Mexicans have an important role to play in making sure that President Bush and his lieutenant in the Energy Department don't lead us down the path to nuclear war. Citizens of New Mexico need to emphasize to their senators, who sit atop the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with oversight on the Bodman Energy Department, that they will not tolerate the creation of new bombs and resumption of test explosions.
New Mexicans have the power to make America more secure. Please call the senators' offices, and say to them that you are a constituent and that you want to speak about nuclear weapons and the Bodman Energy Department. Sen. Domenici can be reached in Washington at (202) 224–6621, and Sen. Bingaman at (202) 224–5521.
Thank you for running Dan Forsch's "Soldier's Heart" [“Newscity,” Jan. 6-12]. People need to know the true cost of war. How much does the military spend to create a soldier? How much does it spend to heal that person's heart and mind? Since war is so profitable to the corporate community, and since the soldiers are acting on their behalf, corporations should be taxed heavily to provide for the needs of veterans.
The military, among other institutions, serves the functioning of an economic system in which wealth is transferred from the working majority of the population to the owning class minority of the population. Owning classes of different nations compete to exploit natural resources and markets. Military action and war are often used to protect national interests. War is a process of imperial plundering.
War is an irrational and unintelligent activity. The oppression of people serving in the military makes the military possible. It does not make sense to expect an institution dedicated to the large-scale dehumanization of its members, as well as its enemies, to be interested in restoring the soldier's heart that it has ravaged to create a killer.
There is nothing noble or heroic about war. Survivor's guilt, rage, self-loathing and destructiveness are often ignored by society. Unable to deal with the horrors carried by veterans returning from war, society hides these realities, glorifying the heroics of soldiers and minimizing their difficulties. Such distorted reactions have a tremendous social cost, including suicide, addictions, loss of relationships and violence. The "everything is OK" attitude returning veterans are faced with at home adds to the insanity of their war experience. Everything is not OK. These people need the best help society can offer to recover from the atrocities they have witnessed, participated in and endured.
It is time to listen to the true experts on war. It is time to think about ways in which we can change society to ensure that war and military service are ended. We humans can do better than this.
In “Thin Line” [Jan. 6-12], Tim McGivern asks "Why is graphic footage of the aftermath of a natural disaster acceptable, while the realities in Iraq are still being censored?" Well, Tim, you belong to a news outlet. Why doesn't the Alibi print graphic photos of Iraqi civilian carnage? True, the Alibi is only a small weekly. But, really, what's stopping you? Perhaps you're unwilling or unable to give your readers a clear answer on this. But if you did, I bet it would shed some light on why mainstream American television doesn't show the Iraqi civilian carnage either. Most people don't want to see it. Most people want to continue living in their rose-tinted glass houses and not have to hear about or see the evil America is committing daily. How else do you explain the election results? Bloody civilian carnage caused by American troops just doesn't sell. My guess is, even the Alibi's advertising revenue would be hurt if you guys devoted as much attention to the slaughter in Iraq as it deserved.
Aside from this harsh reality of capitalism, I have no doubt that the United States government puts a lot of pressure on mainstream news media behind closed doors. The media will prattle on endlessly about how fat we Americans are or anything, it seems, to distract us from what's really going on. But I suspect the media itself initiates most of the censorship because they, like the general population, are by and large conformists who don't really want to rock the boat unless they have to. Spineless? Maybe. But it gets back to the basic need to keep a job and put food on the table.
I'm sure that even the Alibi has to walk a fine line between informing the public and appeasing its advertisers. People have told me the Alibi (or NuCity as it was then called) was much more radical when it first started out and became less so as it expanded and strove to reach a broader audience. Such is life, I guess. In the end, money rules everything. At least the Alibi covers a fair amount of news the mainstream media won't cover, and I'm thankful for that. But I must sadly conclude that true freedom of the press is nothing more than a myth, even for independent alternative weeklies.
Regarding Alberto Gonzales' new paradigm that he sent to George W. on the treatment of "prisoners of war," both my husband and George W. believe a "paradigm" is 20 cents.
Letters should be sent with the writer's name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.