The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Lin, is made up of two gabbro walls 246 feet 9 inches (75 m) long. The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them. At the highest tip (the apex where they meet), they are 10.1 feet (3 m) high, and they taper to a height of eight inches (20 cm) at their extremities. Stone for the wall came from Bangalore, Karnataka, India, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality. Stone cutting and fabrication was done in Barre, Vermont. Stones were then shipped to Memphis, Tennessee where the names were etched. The etching was completed using a photoemulsion and sandblasting process. The negatives used in the process are in storage at the Smithsonian Institution. When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together. One wall points toward the Washington Monument, the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, meeting at an angle. Each wall has 72 panels, 70 listing names (numbered 1E through 70E and 70W through 1W) and 2 very small blank panels at the extremities. There is a pathway along the base of the Wall, where visitors may walk, read the names, make a pencil rubbing of a particular name, or pray.
Inscribed on the walls with the Optima typeface are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed in 1982. They are listed in chronological order, starting at the apex on panel 1E in 1959 (although it was later discovered that the first casualties were military advisers who were killed by artillery fire in 1957), moving day by day to the end of the eastern wall at panel 70E, which ends on May 25, 1968, starting again at panel 70W at the end of the western wall which completes the list for May 25, 1968, and returning to the apex at panel 1W in 1975. Symbolically, this is described as a “wound that is closed and healing.” Information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given. The wall listed 58,159 names when it was completed in 1993; as of June 2010, there are 58,267 names, including 8 women. Approximately 1,200 of these are listed as missing (MIAs, POWs, and others), denoted with a cross; the confirmed dead are marked with a diamond. If the missing return alive, the cross is circumscribed by a circle (although this has never occurred as of March 2009); if their death is confirmed, a diamond is superimposed over the cross. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “there is no definitive answer to exactly how many, but there could be as many as 38 names of personnel who survived, but through clerical errors, were added to the list of fatalities provided by the Department of Defense.” Directories are located on nearby podiums so that visitors may locate specific names.
Examining Barack Obama’s re-election and the prospect of four more years of partisan journalism in a deeply divided US.
After eighteen months of campaigning, endless hours of airtime, and more sound bites than anyone cares to remember, the American electorate has spoken. The US election will eventually prove to be the biggest news story of 2012 in terms of coverage.
And there are plenty of media angles to explore: The unprecedented amount of money spent on advertising by the official campaigns and their shadowy Super Pac surrogates; the increasingly polarised media landscape in the US, epitomised by Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left; and there was the collective insistence on the part of the networks and the pundits they employ that, despite poll after poll showing the incumbent ahead, this was a horse race, much too close to call. Never let the facts, or the polling data, get in the way of a good story. The Listening Post team was up all night watching the coverage to bring you this week’s News Divide – US media election fever.
As soon as Barack Obama was reelected the austerians were already clamoring for him to enter into the so-called “Grand Bargain” as the only option to keeping the fragile US economy from going over the mythical “fiscal cliff.” Exit polls showed that voters were most concerned about the economy and jobs. They also indicated that raising taxes on the wealthiest was popular, as was preserving Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist. The debt/deficit was at the bottom of the list of voter interests. There has been much talk from Pres. Obama and the Democratic leadership that they now have a mandate to raise taxes on the 1% and they are willing to “bargain” with the Republicans. The problem is the “bargain” they want to cut would increase the burden on the elderly and those most in need of these programs now and in the future by raising the age requirements and tying cost of living increases to a metric that would decrease the ability of social security recipients to stay above the poverty line.
In an interview with economist Bill Black by Paul Jay at RT News, Prof. Black discusses how the “grand betrayal” and the role of the president and “Third Way” Democrats in the destruction of the social safety net:
At FDL News Desk, David Dayen has two important pieces on the “fiscal cliff” and the “grand bargain” and how our politicians are using them as an excuse to cut the social safety net.
Cutting the deficit has been discussed in terms of a moral imperative for the past two-plus years. But now we’ve arrived at a situation where the deficit would get cut a significant amount, and budget analysts make the obvious, inconvenient case that this would throw the economy back into recession. All the alternative explanations from the deficit scolds – a lack of confidence, the threat of higher interest rates – have nothing to do with the fiscal slope. It’s just that it would pull back on federal spending and raise taxes to such a degree that the economy would suffer. [..]
In the hands of someone who didn’t want a bargain on the deficit, this would be the ultimate teachable moment. “All those people telling us for years we have to cut the deficit, suddenly don’t want to cut the deficit,” that leader would say. “They’re warning people of the dangers of cutting the deficit, and saying we have to put a deficit plan together to avoid cutting the deficit!” But Obama wants this deal for his legacy. So he’s not going to disabuse anyone of the confusion over the fiscal slope.
Bob Woodward leaked the deal memo from the proposed 2011 grand bargain, which didn’t happen for a number of reasons, none of them being Barack Obama’s reticence to cut a deal. [..]
This was what the President signed off on, before the Gang of Six embarrassed him by calling for more revenue. He was perfectly willing to not only endorse this deal, but force the Democratic leadership to swallow it as well. And this is why Ryan Grim can be so sure that the next set of talks will include reductions in benefits to the elderly, the poor and the middle class. That’s what happened before, after all. [..]
Any sane observer of economic reality understands that the biggest concern in the near term is that the deficit will end up to small, not too large. We don’t have a deficit problem but a health care cost problem, and it’s not entirely clear we even have that as much as we have a CBO which over-hypes the health care cost problem in their models (the fact that CBO wanted to talk with Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith for daring to question their model is quite telling). We have countless examples of counter-productive austerity in a time of a slowly recovering economy. [..]
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeatedly stated that “we are not going to mess with Social Security.” The problem Sen. Reid has with keeping Social Security out of any bargain is President Barack Obama who is all to willing to bargain it away for a deal with the Republicans. The argument over the debt/deficit has never been whether taxes will be raised in any bargain, the goal of the right has been to destroy Social Security and cripple Medicare and Medicaid.
President Obama is still pursuing a “grander bargain” that would betray the trust of the people who returned him to office with the hope that he would change.