Letters to the Editor

(October 4, 2004)


A vote for Kerry
To the Editor:

I am going to have to vote for John Kerry although he is wrong on every issue I am concerned with. The reason for this is that I have no other alternative. Here is a short list of men on their white horses who are riding off in all different directions:

Jim Hightower
Noam Chomsky
Michael Moore
Jesse Jackson
Dennis Kucinich
Ralph Nader

All good men and true, but have they all ever sat down together in unity of purpose? I do not blame them for their large egos. They all have great talents. They are movers and shakers -- the only problem is they are all shaking their own trees. We are living in a time when Michael's movie 9/11 has galvanized every decent person in the world -- When we have minority organizations that contain millions of voter and when the vast majority of the people in the United States are innately progressive in their thinking. Why are we being herded into the Democratic Party when it is financed by the same corporations as the Republican Party is?

The answer is that the left is fractured into environmentalists, feminists, gays, labor, anti-outsourcers, and hundreds of other life or death issues. Why can't we come together under some other tent than the Democratic Party? I agree with Michael that we Americans are dumb. But I think that Michael's demand that we vote for Kerry is also dumb -- dumb as hell! The problem we Americans face is that we live under a dictatorship of the corporations, and this is fascism. The old chairman of the Michigan Communist Party told me just before the fascists scattered us and we found out that Uncle Joe Stalin was a bloody dictator himself: "A politician is like any other prick -- he will go wherever he is pushed."

If I vote for Kerry it will only be because it will indicate to the corporations that they had better slow down. As a Flint boy who was a CIO organizer in the Buick factory, this galls me. America today is like the Weimar republic in the Germany of 1933. Our men on white horses are like the social democrats that signed on to the enabling acts that gave Germany to Hitler. To all of the above-mentioned leaders of the masses I say: Get together. Organize yourselves and then tell us what to do. We will do it.

John H. St.John
Spring Valley, California, USA - October 3, 2004


To the Editor:

I've been following your publication for a while, under the assumption that the main stream media is not providing a straight picture. I'm sorry to say, neither are you.

Where do you stand? One article is about getting rid of Bush, the other is about how much Kerry is a mirror of the evil man. There is no editorial guidance. You seem to let things happen the way they do, as they do, when they do.

Where do you stand? In between, like a nice white middle class liberal always does? Have you a spine in your body?


William Applebum
St Louis, Missouri, USA - September 23, 2004

[Ed. Editorial guidance? Check the guidelines. Everything else is pretty open. Some contributors do believe that Bush is that bad. Some do think that the choice between Kerry and Bush is six of one or half a dozen of the other. We have a pro-Cobb on board and quite a few Naderites. Who am I to tell people what to think? Where do I stand? Check this March 1, 2004 editorial. If spine is synonymous with sectarianism, I'm indeed spineless. For churches and other chapels, leaders and guides, please you're riding the wrong horse. Look elsewhere. And, just think for a second: were I to publish only what I agree with, it would become lonely (and boring) quite rapidly. There are blogs for this kind of endeavor!]


Good work?
To the Editor:

Superb publication! I have forewarded your website to a few of my trusted friends. Keep up the good work. The latest Swans is excellent. Bill Maher sometimes also is the new Johnny Carson.

Steve Russell
San Francisco, California, USA - September 21, 2004


John Steppling's Review of Swans' September 20 Edition

To the Editor:
"The first phase of the domination of the economy over social life brought into the definition of all human realization the obvious degradation of being into having. The present phase of total occupation by social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding from having into appearing."
—Guy Debord
Manuel García thinks, rightly, that the coming election is another example of marketed product. He also seems to think one should just accept such "facts" and vote for the candidate that "lessens the blows" on the poor and marginalized. This strikes this writer as a weird sort of politics of defeat. Oh, but García says we should vote...that it's egotistical not to. Hmmm? He is right to point out that the poor will suffer most...from both Kerry and Bush. However, I surmise from Manuel that they will suffer a wee bit less under Kerry. At this point, a vote for war is a vote for war. Allawi is the new tyrant in Iraq...with this Vichy on the Tigris, as one paper put it in describing the new Iraqi government. Kerry likes Allawi just fine. Kerry doesn't like Chávez. His new advisor is James Sasso, fresh from his gig as advisor to the oligarchs of Venezuelan opposition to Chávez. Support for Empire is support for Empire. Splitting hairs is just that. Chávez is the first leader to really represent the desperately poor in that region in a very long time. To support the cadaverous Kerry in his assault on them is hardly progressive, revolutionary, or whatever you want to call it. It's a vote for Empire. Oh, and here are a couple statements from Kerry published in Forward magazine: "We are not secure while Israel, the one true democracy in the region, remains the victim of unrelenting terror...if we continue without a more effective strategy to deal with Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Palestine, we are not supporting our ally as best we can." He also brags about co-sponsoring the Syrian Accountability Act (a favorite of John "Loose Bolts" Bolton). I mean, geez people, how awful does this man have to get to stop you from submission to the ABB brigades?

Phil Rockstroh is back with another spot on analysis of cultural virus. The mental health of most Americans seems to drift further into the red zone with each passing month. Antidepressant sales are still going up, and fast food is still being used in place of real food. The culture industry keeps selling mindless CGI fixes -- usually as paeans to the Police Apparatus -- and we distract ourselves with blather about red and blue states. Overweight, overworked, and overmedicated....that's America. Phil again finds the unhealth just beneath the surface...the illusions of choice and freedom, as if sixteen screens at the Multi-Plex equal genuine choice. I can go see Spiderman 2 or Sky Captain. Wow! (Well, I could go if I had eight bucks.)

Gilles d'Aymery's blips this week cover two important points. First is the newest hand wringing crisis of the NGO brigade...Darfur. Ah yes, genocide again. The left latte crowd is up in arms, "how can we do NOTHING?" they yell...between sips of Mocha-light. Well, Gilles points out a lot of important facts about how the U.S. sells this stuff to the liberal left. Beyond that, let's remember how many millions have died in the bordering DRC -- yet I've heard no mention of genocide there (and as ads run in California about trying to do away with reservation gaming, one is reminded of how rarely genocide is used to describe what happened to Native Americans). There is a closeted racism afoot here too, the horrid Arab north, yada, yada, yada. The latest tragedy at Beslan comes to mind too. The same latte sippers will go on about Chechen self determination (this topic in and of itself is worthy of a long discussion, since many far left Leninists also think this) and how awful Putin is (and nobody wants to minimize Russian atrocities either), and we should support freedom for the Chechens. This is the same reasoning (as James Petras points out in a recent Rebellion article) that was once used for the KLA in the former Yugoslav republic. The gangsters of the KLA and the new gangsters of the Chechnya "independence movement" are all linked...and are all simply a variant of Tony Soprano, looking to suck the teat of US Imperial largesse (ok, Soprano as religious maniac...). Then, of course, gangsters provide stability, and stability is good for business. These days, chaos is good for business too, and so one must ponder how much of the behind the scenes tinkering is aimed at controlled instability. I don't know. How much of Chechnya is about putting pressure on Putin? Again, don't know.

At what point will the progressive (sic) community in the U.S. wake up to the fact that first you must follow the money. Second, never trust the state department or those in their pay. Third, never trust an NGO without first examining its agenda (and funding). One doesn't want to sound a blanket note that simplifies these complicated regions and complicated histories. It's difficult, as I said above, to actually follow US logic in many cases; but then maybe I expect too much from the folks at the State Department. It is also, always, a good idea to know the complexities of real politick as it exists in the outposts of Empire. The Petras piece is a good corrective, however, for those on the left that lean toward an acceptance of the delusions that surround Milosevic and now Chechnya. Let's also not forget the simplest rationale of all: oil.

That said, Gilles is excellent on several other points, including one that particularly bugs me. This is the US position (yes, both Kerry and Bush) on Venezuela (the refusal to loan money because of bogus bullshit about trafficking in women is the follow-up to the screwed pooch referendum), but I've mentioned all this already. Gilles also touches on the collective madness theme (and glad to see the malodoros careerist compassion-act of Samantha Power come in for attack), I guess it's harder and harder not to. Bush just gave another surreal speech to the UN (the day I am writing this) and one really wonders, as Gilles does (and Richard, and Phil, et al.), just how far the populace has traveled on the cuckooville highway? Next stop total mental paralysis. This speech was something from an old Ionesco play, the dim-witted and mean spirited scion of east coast mandarin wealth simply sputtered on about nothing much, empty platitudes, and then the occasional bald faced lie. A partially elected US president again speaking in thinly veiled terms about submission to US dominance, and US intention to strike those it doesn't like, and how the rule of law must be obeyed, which last remark caused even an errand boy like Kofi Annan a moment of petulance. The blank expressions of career diplomats seemed painted on as they sat passively watching, and the whole spectacle teetered on dada. And the coverage? No mention of madness or dishonesty. Makes one want to give up. At what point do the fissures in the collective character armoring start to show? Or are they showing already? Oh, and did anyone catch the Bush-Allawi press conference? A sort of charisma black hole surrounds Allawi, and added to that is his habit of sneering -- now that I think of it, this is actually true of Bush too -- and of Kerry (well, sans the sneer).

Phillip Greenspan is on a roll of late. His most recent points up something pretty obvious, and that is the politics of distraction. The endless non-issues of what he calls "a government of the elite." If one bothers to go to various liberal blogs, what one will find is endless distraction (usually navel-gazing middle class and white). Politics are electoral horse races. It's a curious fact that people still accept the obscene privilege of the folks running things. People keep mourning the useless Princess Di, and networks carry coverage of Royal weddings or gossip about the rich and stupid. People still watch travel shows featuring locations they will never ever be able to visit -- the sick dreams and fantasies of mediated social brain dead population. Distraction, distraction, distraction... Another very cogent piece from Phillip, in any event.

Jan Baughman adds a cartoon -- the subject is the state of education in the U.S. The boat is sinking...well, it's sunk actually. As usual with Jan, this seems right on time. Education is only training to be a consumer at this point anyway.

Here in Krakow the cold autumn has already arrived; and unemployment is rising along with the price of train tickets. It will be a long cold winter in Malopolska.

John Steppling
Krakow, Poland - September 25, 2004
[ed. Steppling is a LA playwright (Rockefeller fellow, NEA recipient, and PEN-West winner) and screenwriter (most recent was Animal Factory directed by Steve Buscemi). He is currently living in Poland where he teaches at the National Film School in Lodz.]


Yes, he his back
To the Editor:

Thank God,
Sunk in despair over the absence of Phil in your last postings, I am revived to see his name appear again. With so much negativity weighing on us, his unabashed optimism restores my faith and hope for our great and righteous nation to lead civilization ever forward.

Reed Thomas
Shelton, Washington, USA - September 21, 2004


Jacques Brel sings (sung?) Phil Rockstroh

Gosh Mr. d'Aymery,

I breathe again. Phil Rockstroh is back with a vengeance. Please Mr. d'Aymery, tell him about my legs. I mean Angela no harm, but so long as Phil contributes, he can have me body and soul. Of course, he'll have to travel.

Seriously, why is Phil Rockstroh sticking with you? You do not deserve it. No French, Freedom Fries notwithstanding, deserves his consideration. You are an idiot (for being a part of Barbaria) and he is a sweetheart. What? He is an American? No way. He is Phil Rockstroh. I'll follow him all the way to hell. Thank him for being there, will you? Starbuck's can't compete with his own caffeine.

Not my generation...but I miss Jacques Brel, for whatever it's worth. Phil and Jacques...what a good company!

Tell Manuel that he is full of himself. Then again, also tell him that I love to read his stuff. Makes me feel how much full of ourselves we all are. At least, I have my legs!

When I grow old, I hope I can mirror Greenspan. He, at the least, gives us, young and coming idiots, the hope that hope (yeah, I know I am repeating myself -- edit me, you are the editor) will perdure beyond our perfidy.

Once upon a time, my father used to say, we were about love and acceptation.

When was that, once upon a time?

Yes, it stinks; but my legs are still there...

Leave Barbaria!

Allez, bon vent. At least your irreverence keeps me in good company.

Alouette Arouet
Paris, France - September 24, 2004


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Published October 4, 2004
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