(October 18, 2004)
One we missed and should not have...sorry. Philip Greenspan's The Continual Election WinnerTo the Editor:
Thanks to Philip Greenspan for reaffirming something I have thought to be true for a while.
I join you and any others ready to stand up in solidarity. No more nigger this and cracker that, jew who, and fuck you. That's old school; we all come from the same mother...different aspects of the one thing we all are -- human beings.
Bend, Oregon, USA - Sept. 27, 2004
Still voting for KerryTo the Editor:
Thanks for considering my input [in the last issue]. Organizing is always done from the bottom up, but we need the top in order to begin. We have our top -- it is obviously Ralph Nader.
However we cannot simply ignore guys like Michael Moore and Jim Hightower who are now pushing the Democrats. If they and many others like them got together I would not be forced to vote for Kerry this trip. The Iraqis want us to hell out of their country and the American people are getting sick of the body bags.
If we had the intense focus that both the Democrats and the Republicans have on their candidates, and that the corporate media exacerbates, it is quite likely that we could win this election. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are way out of sync with the American people.
We are going to have to quit viewing the fascist unit called the "two-party" system as a democratic choice. It is a phony wrestling match. The only reason the two parties don't consolidate into one is that we are a heterogeneous nation and dictatorships can only survive where nationalism is held together by ethnicity.
Of course I am going to vote for the lesser of two evils -- it is the only choice I have.
John H. St. John
Spring Valley, California, USA - October 5, 2004
And another convoluted vote for Kerry and loss to NaderTo the Editor:
As usual, I generally concur with your content. However, I believe that only Kucinich would be the best leader of this nation.
Though I'd rather see Nader in office, Kerry will be my pick. I believe Kerry is most greatly different from Bush in obvious ways, and as usual I am saddened by the choice of the lesser of two evils. Having said this, I believe Kerry to be an articulate spokesperson for both the rich and the poor.
I would contend that you are the better judge of such matters. I know about Kerry's voting record. I also know about the Bush record. You are as well versed in these matters as anyone. Thank You.
The Guardian, SF Weekly, Chronical, Examiner, Palo Alto Weekly, New York Times, and the Burns Times Herald have a problem with Kerry. They have endorsed him, however. As you know, The Chicago Sun Times and Moon's Washington Times have come out against...
Your site continues to be one of the best informative sites online and again I thank you.
San Francisco, California, USA - October 17, 2004
Shame on you, Heidi: Milo Clark's Impotent, Irresponsible And HypotheticalTo the Editor:
I have recently married a wonderful Lady from Da Nang. Her aunt and I have been friends for many years. I was not yet married to Kim when I watched the PBS show, "Daughter from Danang," and I have made comment many times to people about how mad I was to watch it. What did she think Da Nang would be like? I am going to Da Nang this week as Kim's mother is sick. We are bringing Kim's family a small microwave, rice cooker, and a small deep fryer as gifts. You would think we were giving them a whole house, not a few gifts that cost us under 100 dollars. I know if Kim's mother was in town with us I would be spending much more time and money taking her to dinner, going to the movies, and fixing up her home. Yet Kim's family will have a much better life because we gave from my excess. Kim has spent much time telling me about how poor her family is. I am sure this is to prepare me, since I met Kim while on a trip with her aunt to Saigon and have not yet been to Da Nang.
I was offended by the actions of the woman in the story. It took me days to calm down. I would never want to be a part of a family that acted the way this woman did. Sorry, even now it sets me back.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA - October 11, 2004
Gilles d'Aymery's Justice and Palestine: An Oxymoron?To the Editor:
The article (Justice and Palestine: An Oxymoron?) was superb! It gave me many points to emphasize and will reinforce my arguments as I continue to voice my support for a free Palestine -- and a people free at last from Zionist tyranny.
I appreciated finding the Swans website today, and especially the list of resources at the end of the article.
Thanks ~ Peace,
Richard L. Polese
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA - October 5, 2004
To the Editor:
You have this picture in your article and indicate that you obtained it, "Courtesy of Nigel Parry and electronicintifada.net." You may have gotten this from Nigel, but the photo was taken by Musa AlShaer... I think he deserves a bit of credit given that he is a great photographer who has taken many risks... Nigel doesn't own the rights of the photo... neither does eIntifada... Picky, picky, but Musa is my friend, and I would dearly like him to get the credit for his photo.
Paul de Rooij
London, England - October 11, 2004
John Steppling's Review of Swans' October 4 Edition
To the Editor:
Louis Proyect reviews the excellent Cockburn and St Clair book A Dime's Worth of Difference and focuses a bit on the continuing and inexplicable illusion of how the Democrats represent the poor and marginalized. Ha! I did appreciate some of the more salient details of Clintonian duplicity. Cockburn and St. Clair have been terrific these last couple of years, and I can recommend this book as well.
Phil Rockstroh is yet again giving us a solid and expressionistic portrait of the modern man in our post-modern asylum. I liked his mention of Ah-nold...the Nandrolone governor, and it reminded me how the fascistic Pope just beatified another wonderful and pious man from Austria, the former Emperor -- a man who sanctioned the use of poison gas during WWI. Arnold and the former Ruler must be making Austria very proud. Someday, I am going to write a quick commentary on the demonizing of anabolic steroids, however. It's a curious thing that people are so obsessed about "purity" in sports but will accept Ritilin given to children, or Prozac for themselves (or at least a dry martini). Anyway, Phil touches on a favorite theme in this issue, the Clinton attack on the poor. It's about time the libs around the U.S. woke up to just how fucking awful this plump used-car salesman from the Ozarks really was -- and is.
Richard Macintosh's (and hurry and get well Richard) article is, as is usual with him, simply outstanding. [ed. Richard is back in the hospital with heart problems.] The Nazi theme returns too -- and damn, it's getting harder and harder not to see the similarities. He quotes Steinbeck (saying almost exactly what I quoted Adorno saying last issue) on recognizing that, say, a John Ashcroft, is simply the result of bigger forces....not their cause. And another mention of Arnold. It makes me all warm inside to see so many attacks on this creep. As I've said before, I've had first hand experience of Arnie -- and there is very little, if anything, to like in this man -- a nasty fearful bullying fascist, period. And a very stupid one, at that! But hey, maybe the Pope will live long enough to make him Saint Arnold...then Austria will be REALLY REALLY proud.
Guy Burneko's piece is on 9-11. Much as I liked this piece, I think one word of caution is in order. The assumption that we know (sic) who committed the attacks is a serious assumption. If all else Burneko points to is true, then why would "we" know who "did it?" The WTC collapse has never been investigated. At all. I know house fires that have received more attention. Why is this? The war on terror is, indeed, a flimsy excuse for more global expansion and domination by Western business. It has served this purpose well, and so one should probably ask just exactly WHO is behind 9-11? OBL was a CIA asset, and his family has long-standing ties with the US government. The U.S. trained those fanatics, err, freedom fighters that fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, and so whenever I hear the term "al Qaeda" I shudder just a little...wondering just what this means. Just WHO this means. Boris Kagarlitsky recently wrote of Beslan ("Russian terrorism and power politics," ZNet, September 07, 2004) as likely having an "insider" factor, and he wondered why it was that Americans refuse to look at that possibility regarding 9-11.
Gilles d'Aymery has more excellent blips. He also has a fine piece on Palestine/Israel. The blips section on Darfur is about as good as anything I have read on the subject. This is a confusing topic and sources can be questioned and debated (like Peter Beaumont's article in the Guardian ("US 'hyping' Darfur genocide fears," October 3, 2004) that alleged US hyping of the genocide, but was dismissed by many because of nameless sources) but Aymery cuts to the essentials in examining the John Garang connection (via Iowa State, and Fort Benning!) and the endless backroom deals that always surround oil and Empire. Good that Gilles also saw fit to burst that liberal bubble about Oback Barama, the current poster boy for the designer libs. I mean, gee, he's black, right? The guy is just another opportunistic flunkie for corporate America, and has the same agenda as Kerry, Edwards, and well, just about everyone in government. How easy it is these days to cloud the real issues with feel good sentimental bait and switch nonsense.
The Israel/Palestine article is a pretty depressing piece, therefore one that needs to be read. Sobering analysis.
Gerard Donnelly Smith contributes a fine little parable...if that's what it is. The rise worldwide of fundamentalist religion is a scary reality. It is, possibly, more scary in the U.S. than anywhere else. Smith nails this one.
Michael Doliner has a cogent piece on economics, the cold war, and Milton Friedman....and well, thalidomide, too. The rise of Friedman is a good story to examine, and the current ideologues running the Gong-show government have internalized a lot of Friedman's "free-trade" thinking (but then so did Clinton, as Doliner points out). The neo-lib free market is, yes, exactly a jungle...and if Uncle Milty believes the market will take care of everything, he's right, same way the jungle does. Wait around until the sun sets and listen for the panther. You won't hear him, but he'll devour you all the same. Doliner's analysis is pretty exhaustive, and as a resident of the former Soviet block, it's amusing to listen to free-marketeers try and explain the catastrophe of the Ukraine, of Slovakia, of Poland or Latvia. The only growth industry these days is prostitution and human trafficking. Welcome to the New World Order. Reagan and Thatcher and Bush and Cheney and Clinton and Berlesconi, and all the rest, think in exactly these terms. They think it from the rarified air of the brie-and-Chablis conferences they attend, and from the padded carpeting of their UN meeting rooms, and from the sealed pneumatic corridors of big finance and presidential security, and they care not at all for those suffering in the world's gutters. Those Bolivian peasants, those desperate Venezuelans voting for Chavez, those striking coal miners in Silesia and western Ukraine, none of these people matter. Nobody in Africa matters, unless they are sitting on some oil -- and places like Bangladesh...forget about it. Doliner connects several different threads and provides an excellent piece for further discussion.
That is, until he engages in a rather silly comparison of free-trade and Communism. The corruption under Stalin, and later in the entire Soviet block, doesn't really have much to do with ends justifying means. Doliner's analysis here is what I might expect from some junior college poly-sci professor...and it diminishes an otherwise smart piece. And since when doesn't the US have ideological ties with the state? I guess we'll have to talk about exactly what "ideology" means (and let's examine Cuba, under extreme duress for fifty years, but not exactly a, uh, failed state...).
Doliner then concludes with a strange bit of apologetics; "free markets are a good thing." Really? Well, he adds, until they become fetishes. I don't know, but it seems Marx saw fetishizing way earlier in this curve than Doliner does. A "free economy is more creative?" What the hell does that mean? The criminal tsunami of globalization is pure unrestrained gangsterism. It's the jungle, alright. The advance waste economy only exists because of military spending. Let's pick one tidbit out of many; between 1998 and 2003 (according the Center for Public Integrity) the US government awarded $47 billion in contracts to large defense corporations (Titan, Sperry, et al.) -- money that was intended for small businesses (obviously the amount spent in total on war and death...err...defense, is much much higher). Apparently, 23% of contract dollars are supposed to go to small businesses each year but most of this actually goes to large defense contractors who have bought out small firms. Free Market at work! I am reminded of Rosa Luxemburg and her analysis of the center and periphery. These days, what's left of the periphery just keeps getting bombed. This is a material determinant: make bombs, use bombs...make more bombs. Toss in some Bradley Fighting Vehicles. There is no free market. Free from what or whom? Someone show me where the state isn't subsidizing chunks of every economy. I'm not an economist, but looking around the so-called developing world and all I see is increasing desperation and violence. The financial hegemony of Wall Street and the dollar (and the IFIs) still serves to punish the poor, to steal and threaten and bomb those who cannot fight back. I know I could be missing something here, but I always end up in this conundrum when talking money. It's facile and a bit disingenuous to toss off remarks about the former Soviet Union while extolling free markets; to simply equate ideology with Communism, while pretending Capitalism isn't based on exploitation and its own form of ideology. Actually, refer back to Proyect's review of Cockburn and St. Clair for a corrective to the end of this otherwise good piece by Doliner.
"The best defense is a good offense"...John Edwards at his recent debate.
Well, I guess that means the militarization of everything will continue, regardless of who wins.
Krakow, Poland - October 8, 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.]
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