Vol. 3    No. 8
April 17, 2008

Stories & Columns

The Literary Divide:Desperate
times dictate desperate tactics,
by Dr. Paul Barrows

2008 National Poetry Slam &
Lyrics on the Lake Festival:
Sweet swirls of sound,
by Jonathan Gramling

Spotlight on Criminal
Justice:Sentencing inconsistency
(Part 2 of 2),
by Jonathan Gramling

The Madison Symphony Orchestra
2008-09 Season/Celestial
Intonations: An interview with
Karen Slack,
by Jonathan Gramling

The Madison Symphony Orchestra
2008-09 Season/DeMain's 15th
From MSO

Asian Wisconzine: John
Xiong/Mapping Wisconsin's soil,
by Heidi M. Pascual

Politicas de hoy/El Papa en
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

Simple Things: Dial-tone,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

Voices: Operating with impunity!
by Dr. Jean Daniels

18th annual MMSD Joe Thomas

CenterSpread: African Youth
Outreach; Multicultural Health
Fair; Wright Middle School
by Jonathan Gramling

Dan Zanes & Friends at Overture,
by Jonathan Gramling

Children Poets at Lincoln,
by Madison Poet Laureate Fabu

China Dispatch: Fun, work, and
shoes to fill,
by Andrew Gramling

Homelessness/The crime of being
by Jonathan Gramling

Making like Tiger Woods

Editorial Staff

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows
Jean Daniels
Andrew Gramling
Lang Kenneth Haynes
Heidi M. Pascual
Laura Salinger
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

©2008 The Capital City Hues
I’ve been meaning to write this column, but the time has just slipped away. Imagine State Street with armed
police at every corner and walking patrols, kind of like they do at tourist destinations in some third world countries,
just to make sure the tourists aren’t jostled and they keep spending their money. State Street is calm and
peaceful, even on a Saturday night around bar time. People come and go freely under the watchful eye of the
police. State Street violence and drunkenness have disappeared. The city elders declare that the problems of
State Street are solved as its crime rate goes down to almost zero.
An election is pending and although the city cannot afford to keep the police on State Street — the cost is
astronomical and the city is borrowing money continuously to keep the police there — the police remain so that
the city elders can claim that they have made progress in the fight against crime and the gangs that perpetuate
those crimes. The problem is “solved” but the city elders dare not reduce the police presence lest the violence
begins once again.
Meanwhile, in a hamlet that borders the city, violence has been skyrocketing. Drug use is running rampant and
the gangs are having their way with the local citizenry. It’s the gang’s base from which they had originally
expanded to State Street and laid siege to the city. Now the city would gladly send some of its police over to the
small hamlet, but that would necessitate taking some of the police from State Street and who knows what that
might lead to on State Street before the election. And so for the sake of appearance and the fear of losing
political power, the city elders allow the situation to stagnate without dealing with the underlying problems that
This is pretty much how I see the U.S. position in Iraq. Substitute Baghdad for State Street, the police for the
military forces participating in the recent surge, Afghanistan for the nearby hamlet and the Bush administration
for the city elders and there you go: the mess in Iraq and the failure to root out terrorism in Afghanistan.
While the surge seemed to work to curb the violence — although recent events seem to bring that assessment
into question — it hasn’t addressed the underlying problems and fissures that are Iraq. The reductions in violence
sure make John McCain look good for the November elections — he has been supporting the Bush policies in
Iraq — but it all might be an illusion that helps the Republicans retain control of the White House. Nothing has
been solved. No meaningful policies have been passed by a bitterly-divided Iraqi government. There are no signs
that we will ever be able to leave Iraq flashing the sign “Mission Accomplished” as Bush foolishly did five years
ago. We could be mired in Iraq for years with no way out. The only meaningful solution is for us to set a timeline
for withdrawal and give the Iraqi government all the help we can muster to get their house in order for only then
would they act like it truly is do or die.
Our shaky economy, generous tax cuts to the wealthy and small tax rebates to the rest of us that we are dutifully
supposed to turn over to Wal-Mart are driving our government into bankruptcy. This war in Iraq is costing us our
freedom for the sake of oil that will be sold to the highest bidder. I would like to know where the Iraqi oil dollars
are going now. They certainly don’t seem to be going into making repairs to Iraq’s electrical system. It isn’t
producing gasoline for Iraq’s domestic consumption. Where is the money going? Certainly the oil is flowing
because when there was disruption in Basra the other week to an oil pipeline, the price of a barrel of oil went
higher on the international oil speculation market. So where is all the money going as we pump more and more
money into Iraq? Is it flowing to the Swiss bank accounts of Iraqi ministers? Or is it flowing into the off-shore
accounts of Halliburton and other conglomerates involved in this Iraq fiasco. Why do I feel someone has been
picking my pockets clean ever since we invaded Iraq?
The Iraq War is a war that we can never win, anymore than the British could have come into the U.S. and
changed the course of the American Civil War through occupation. It seems that the Iraq War has served
everybody’s interests except the interests of peace in Iraq. We need to get out of this bottomless pit that claims
too many U.S. dollars and Iraqi and American lives. And I resent the manipulation of the events in Iraq for the
sake of retaining political power. As a nation, we cannot economically and spiritually afford it.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
   Random thoughts on Iraq