by Gilles d'Aymery
"As the old hermit of Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, 'That that is, is'."
—Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, c. 1600
(Swans - May 22, 2006) GEOGRAPHICALLY ILLITERATE: According to National Geographic, 63 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 cannot find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. Hey, maybe that's why the Bushites send those kids to Iraq...to learn geography. What about Iran or Israel, countries much in the news? Seventy percent cannot find them. Fifty percent cannot even find New York State on a map of the U.S. Thirty percent cannot indicate where northwest is on the same map. For more details and to test your own knowledge visit the National Geographic Website. You'll find some interesting results; for example, the US population is between one and two billion according to three in ten respondents, or that 74 percent believe that "the most commonly spoken native language in the world" is English (it's Mandarin Chinese). Enough said.
WATER CRITICAL LITERACY: Here's a fascinating interview of British science journalist Fred Pearce (editor of New Scientist) by Katharine Mieszkowski, "Not a drop to drink" (Salon.com, April 25, 2006). You'll find out that, for instance, it takes:
650 gallons of water in a pound of cheddar cheese,
40 gallons to grow the ingredients for the bread in a single sandwich,
265 gallons to produce a glass of milk,
800 gallons for a hamburger,
25 bathtubs-full of water to grow the scant 9 ounces of cotton for a simple cotton T-shirt bearing some hopeful green slogan like "Save the Bay"
The amount of annual water that evaporates from the reservoir behind the Aswan Dam in Egypt, 3.6 cubic miles, "could fill every tap, meet every water demand in the U.K., a country of more than 50 million people. . . . . irrigation systems waste 60 or 70 percent of their water. . . . . We haven't quite reached the situation where water wars are breaking out, but we're getting quite close in some parts of the world." It's the "defining crisis" of our time, says Pearce. I guess future generations will be grateful for the world we are bequeathing them.
BUT WHY LOOK INTO the future when we cannot take care of our own in the present? According to Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia and the president of the Children's Health Fund, more than 125,000 children are displaced from Louisiana alone. Practically no health care, little schooling... Says Redlener, "we are watching the worst children's health crisis in modern American history unfold in the gulf area. . . . . Thousands of children are now seemingly abandoned by a federal government still unable to function effectively when it counts the most." (Source: "Orphans of the Storm," NY Times Op-Ed, May 9, 2006.) There are still over 3,000 people unaccounted for... They keep finding bodies, mind you. Meantime, hurricane season is knocking at the door.
ENOUGH PESSIMISM. Not everything is bad. Take this anonymous man who spent $95.2 million at Sotheby's in New York on May 3, 2006 for Picasso's portrait of his mistress Dora Maar. He also bought an 1883 Monet for $5 million and a 1978 for $2.5 million -- that's $102.7 million in one evening. In total the entire evening brought in $207.5 million. I hear that the director of Impressionist and Modern art for Sotheby's commented that the anonymous buyer in his mid-40s "was someone with fabulous taste." You see? These are happy times. Oh, I forgot to mention in the preceding blip that according to Redlener, "for $100 million [one] could support a force of at least 200 pediatricians and family doctors, 100 specially trained mental health workers, 25 mobile medical units and a much strengthened school-based health care network throughout the gulf region." But hey, we are not in Cuba, are we? We are a much more refined people with a deeper meaning of life and culture. Just because we let rot a few thousand bereft children we should not ignore the transcendental power of art, whatever its price. Right?
OF COURSE, there'll always be detractors, un-American spoilsports who badmouth our great system. Take the sculptor Alberto Giacometti: he once said that if he had to choose between a cat and a Rembrandt caught in a fire, he would choose the cat and set him free; that between art and life he would choose life. Then again, he was not much of an American and tended to associate himself with strange people like Max Ernst, Balthus, Sartre, Eluard, Breton, Beckett, who were not particularly known for their innate appreciation of American cultural subtleties. I guess, like a government, a people has the culture it deserves.
CITATION FOR THE AGES: "I prefer one lone wild strawberry to all the laurels in the world."
ETHICS 101: Funny that just about the time I mention our no multi-posting policy and Web exclusivity -- see Jan Baughman's interview -- I get taken for a ride again. Some Gary Simon, an advertising agency owner to make matters worse, sent a piece on April 18, 2006. I read it. It was a filler. We need fillers now and then. I contacted the author back telling him that we would publish his piece on May 22. I edited the piece and formatted it. Then, I sent it to Jan to dig into fact-checking and real editing (believe me, there would be no solid, first-class editing, or Swans bi-weekly editions, without Jan's eagle eyes). She delivered again...this time the bad news.
Hi Gilles, Having just finished editing this article, then doing a search on him, I see that Gary Simon's article was published on April 14 at:
Perhaps you're aware of this, but just in case.....
I was obviously unaware and as usual a trusting idiot. If an author tells me that s/he agrees with our policies, thus following the guidelines, I should have no reason not to trust her or him. Wrong! Here's my answer to Jan:
Wow! Thanks for finding this out. I did not do a search on him, as I usually do with new contributors. He said at the onset that he agreed with the no multi-posting policy. I tend to take people at their word. Once again, I've been proven naïve. We won't publish him and never will. A few hours lost editing and formatting him won't make a dent to our resolve. Sorry for wasted time. g.
And here is what I subsequently communicated to Mr. Simon:
On 18 Apr 2006 at 14:43, you wrote:
> I agree with your policies.
> 15 word synopsis: In the end only enlightenment and reason can ensure a
> truer and more lasting democracy.
> If some of us aren't expressing it, we're at least privately
> questioning the breakdown in federal and state law and the failure of
> leading officials [...]
On May 16, 2006, having fully edited and formatted your piece, and after, long before having duly informed you that we would publish your piece, co-editor Jan Baughman found out through a Google search that your piece had been published on another site, Just Response, on April 14, 2006. That is, four days "before" you sent it to Swans.
What kind of agreement did you have in mind in regard to our policies, if I may ask? What part of Ethics 101 do you not understand, may I ask further?
etc., etc., etc.
People will never cease to amaze me...
POOR JOSEPH FARAH of "human parasites" fame, the right-wing gerbil at WorldNetDaily, felt so hurt by my characterization of his Christian sentiments that a letter to the Editor did not suffice to soothe his pained ego. The crackpot had to write a little sniveling piece -- puf, puf, misty eyes, sophisms galore -- in which he whined about seeing his "clear, cogent and concise writings" so blatantly distorted, in order "to smear [him]," no less. As my response to his letter showed, the gastropod's logic is watertight: it's "not those entering the U.S. illegally to feed their families" who are "ungrateful human parasites." Only those "illegal aliens" who are already in the country and who have the nerve to take to the streets are deserving of the appellation. See the distinction? Actually, he "do[es] love and respect those who come to the U.S. in a desperate effort to feed their families." He says it, so you better believe it. It's "US sovereignty," that of the "Kingdom of Heaven," the "blessed and promised land," which Joseph defends.
FARAH'S FULL OF LOVE for the wrecked and dispossessed. Of course, "many [of them] -- no one knows for sure how many -- have sneaked across the border not for work, but specifically to do America harm. Others have come to leech on our public welfare system." Time to control the border for "there are plenty of criminals, drug dealers and terrorists already here." Why should, asks Farah, the "American people be left exposed to the onslaught of this invasion?" A barrier, like that which is surrounding the White House, should be built along the border, suggests the loving man. And, you betcha, the National Guard is long overdue. Waxing rhetoric, he wonders, "Why not turn loose our local and state law enforcement agencies to round up illegals whenever and wherever they are found? Why not provide incentives and support to do just that?" "Why can't we just deport them?" he asks in angst, and in answer to Mr. Bush's immigration speech of May 15, 2006.
XENOPHOBIA, RACISM, HATRED, three words that should never be associated with the likes of Joseph Farah (and Lou Dobbs) since their hearts are so filled with "love and respect." Farah, however, and in spite of his "clear, cogent and concise writings," is rather short on solutions. Aside from a wall and the National Guard, he does not explain how to round-up the hordes of illegal invaders (peace and love be upon them) and what kind of incentives and support he would promote "to do just that."
BUT HERE'S THE BEAUTY of the operation. WorldNetDaily has other slugs that can fill the gaps, connect the dots, offer specifics. One of those is some "Vox Day," a self-declared novelist and Christian libertarian, a member of the SFWA, Mensa and the Southern Baptist church, who writes a regular column for Farah's church, and maintains a de rigueur blog, Vox Populi, "featuring Vox Day, the Christian Libertarian commentator from WorldNetDaily." Vox Day's favorite columnists, to give you an idea of his sweet penchants, are 1. Ann Coulter 2. John Derbyshire 3. Pat Buchanan 4. Mark Steyn 5. Jonah Goldberg 6. Mike Adams 7. Joseph Farah 8. Thomas Sowell 9. Jay Nordlinger 10. Victor Davis Hanson 11. Ilana Mercer. He keeps friendly company.
SO, HOW DO WE ROUND UP the illegals? Conventional wisdom would tend toward the impracticality of such an undertaking. Even if it made any sense, you couldn't gather, grab, and deport 10 to 15 million people at a reasonable cost. Cost analysis is very much part of the equation, like almost everything else in the U.S. However, if you follow Mr. Vox Day -- see his haircut in the sublimating picture of him on WND -- you'd be incorrect. It's quite possible in his not-so-humble opinion; and to prove his point and to counter Mr. Bush's contention that "massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic -- it's just not going to work." he provides a history lesson:
Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, don't jump on your high horses just as yet. The man is not advocating killing the illegal southern "invaders" by either gas or electrocution. He simply is making the point that history proves it is possible to round up undesirables. It's just a matter of organizing the bureaucracy and pointing it in the right direction -- the Nazis mastered the game. Evidently, some may object to the analogy and the righteousness of the procedure, but he does make a point. Everything's possible when one uses a tad of worn-out, presented-as-creative, thinking.
AND LOOK HOW CREATIVE AND WORN-OUT this nut is. He has the peurfect solution to the incentives and supports what Herr Farah alluded to...and he is not even in favor of mass deportation, hmm, more or less -- only in favor of self deportation (here again, see the distinction?):
I don't support mass deportations because I believe they are unnecessary, given other measures that will provide sufficient incentive for illegals to deport themselves. Granting additional funding to state and local agencies on a per-illegal-identified basis for each illegal deported would likely suffice by itself. If each school teacher, nurse, social services or police officer received $500 per illegal reported and deported, we'd probably run out before Christmas. And we probably wouldn't spend $500 million, since 10 illegals leave for every one deported.
FARAH'S UNDERLING answers Farah's suggestions with the same loving care Farah exhibits -- Christian-like, it goes without saying -- for the "human parasites." But it goes further, love and parasites notwithstanding. Joseph Farah, beside seeing mild, watered-down socialism as a reincarnation of 21st century Beelzebub, has uncovered a vast conspiracy: The Council on Foreign Relations, allied with the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, Bilderberg or Wehrkunde and Professor Tournesol -- it gets better by the minute -- are up to a secret plan: Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. are going to be reconciled as one BIG country that will annihilate our way of life. Asks Farah:
Is there hope? Or is America lost to a demographic invasion destined to annihilate its traditional Judeo-Christian culture, and to the ever-growing likelihood that nuclear-armed jihadists will cross our porous borders and wreak unthinkable destruction here?
BY SATAN, I tremble and shiver at the dreadful prospect. Imagine the Mexicans and the Canadians who are overwhelmingly "Christians" annihilating our "traditional Judeo-Christian culture." Time to wall-off the border and send the army. The Jihadists are coming and they want to feed on our white balls. They just got smart and are sending the Mexicans first, who they intend to convert in due time when our balls simmer in juicy barbecues. We can't let it happen, sublimates Joseph. Wall the border, round and deport the culprits, tar and feather the recalcitrant, French be it (Satan has no nationality), before hanging the remaining few on the branches of America Uber-Alles ever-growing trees. Way to go Joseph Farah. Way to go.
BACK TO REALITY AND THE REAL IMMIGRATION ISSUE: Compared to those two despicable human worms, Mr. Bush looks like a model of decency. Hard to fathom that I could aver GWB is a decent man, isn't it? This is going to get me in all sorts of trouble, but I do like GWB and I do think he is a decent man, within his own shitty frame of reference. His policies, international (foreign) and national (domestic), should be and must be opposed with passion, as should his belief system, but he is no different from Bill or Hillary -- except at the edges of how to make it work better in favor of their class (and their belief system) and how to control the hoi polloi (of which I am an insignificant part). The man, within the American construct, is a rather honest person -- a genuine destroyer and liar, which is an inherent part of the chosen few narrative.
I do not espouse the rhetoric of Ben Metcalf of Harper's who "would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with [his] bare hands" ("On Simple Human Decency," June 2006). You'd have to kill a lot more people than just Mr. Bush, including Hillary et al. It's a messy proposition. It's the system that needs to be changed. Men and women come and go. The ideas survive. Go read The Capital again. Love them as Joseph Farah loves the illegals, and move away from the system as fast as you can.
Obviously I'd rather have Georgie boy have sex in the Oval Office, get a few blowjobs, and masturbate instead of pressing whatever button on his desk and see Falluja get raped by American phallic projectiles. On the other hand, the last White House tenant made ample use of his phallus and managed to destroy Serbia all the same. Take this Slobo, take that Saddam... ah rapture, ah ecstasy, the ultimate post-post-modern American orgasm...bing, bang, boom; a city here, a country there, a people elsewhere... sexual ashes all... I guess it's the difference between the Evangelical Right and Evangelical Left -- they evangelize right and left all over the world with bibles and B-52s. Hey, I wonder, does Joseph Farah...but I digress, don't I? Sorry, I let my mind wander... Blame it on Peter Handke and the so-called world. Where was I? Ah, yes, immigration.
MR. BUSH AND HIS SYCOPHANTS know full well the practicalities. They know that since NAFTA was passed into law in 1994 -- thank you Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich -- the number of immigrants coming to the U.S. has increased 300%. Any observer, pundit, or legislator that cares to watch knows this. NAFTA destroyed Mexico and enriched the U.S. boardrooms. We are harvesting the seeds we planted. Our policies led to death south of the border. Dying quietly not being an option, the migration followed.
It will not abate. Scrap NAFTA. Help Mexico create jobs and fix our agro business, our meatpacking business, our construction business, and let us mow our own lawns. Then, the immigration will dwindle to a drying little summer rio. Tough chance. You mean what needs to be done actually won't be done? Really? How surprising... Fine then, immigration will keep going, whatever walls are built and National Guard sent to the border. There is, of course, another practical solution: Keep the border open. Let people come and go. The huge majority of the migrant workers will come for the season and go back South during the winter. Closing the border keeps them locked inside. But this approach would render the Jim Farahs of this world to forego their self-masturbation.
HEY, FARAH, still reading? Good. Because, see, people matter. All people matter. By the way...
BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER (BPM) is the title of a 16-page bi-monthly newspaper published by the Sacramento Community for Peace & Justice, an all-volunteer endeavor to present alternative, progressive news and views in Sacramento, California. I just received my first copy, the May/June 2006 issue, courtesy of Seth Sandronsky, whose article "Herrenvolk And Untermenschen Now And Then" was published in these pages on April 10, 2006. I've received it a bit too late to review it for this edition. But just by browsing through it, this collective deserves lots of kudos for the content. It has local news and issues, of course, but it extends far beyond Sacramento. Four full pages are dedicated Venezuela's Peaceful Revolution. There is a full page covering the oil crisis with an excellent compilation of stats. They cover the immigration crisis from an angle that would make Joseph Farah and his minion grind their teeth. There is much more. Impressive work. You may get a subscription by contacting the collective by e-mail at bpmnewsATnicetechnology.com (replace AT with the symbol @).
HERE IS A LITTLE BPM SNIPPET to whet your appetite: "War Puts Money in Feinstein's pocket -- War profiteering is not a partisan enterprise. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is profiting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her husband, Richard Blum, co-owns 75% of Perini Corporation's voting shares. The Perini Corporation has been awarded contracts from the Defense Dept. worth up to $2.5 billion, ranking seventh among post-war contractors. Sen. Feinstein serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence."
FOR PEOPLE UNFAMILIAR with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, suffice it to say that she is a Democratic senator from the great "liberal" state of California that has the "terminator" for governor. Like the majority of Democrats in the U.S. she has the well-being of the poor and lower middle class at heart. Remember there is no class system in the U.S. Everybody can become Dianne Feinstein or Richard Blum. These good people want to make sure that everybody has equal chances in the starting block of the long chase for the pursuit of material happiness. These two have worked hard at it and certainly deserve their lot. For instance, Blum and Feinstein moved from their San Francisco Presidio Terrace home in January 2006 and bought a $16.5 million, 9,500 sq. ft. house in Pacific Heights. A couple of years ago, they built a $7.4 million ski retreat on 30 acres in Aspen, Colorado; and five years ago they traded their Washington D.C. townhouse for a $6 million French Renaissance style estate. She's indeed a "people's" senator, though she conveniently leaves the definition of the "people" undefined. One wonders what Harper's Ben Metcalf would do with Feinstein?
STUPID QUESTION: Why should poor migrant workers pay their taxes when wealthy people do not? As said, stupid question... Dunno. Maybe Dianne Feinstein has a ready-made answer.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION: Believe it or not the frogs are going through a similar debate in regard to immigration. They have their own new law being voted in their parliament. Same bullshit... They also have their own Joseph Farahs there with names like Le Pen and de Villiers. Amazing how the reactionary booboisie knows no frontier.
THEY ALSO HAVE their own scandals that look much like our own. Take the Clearstream affair. It's as if Dick Cheney and Halliburton had gone tricolor. In 2001, a French company sold six frigates to Taiwan. Commissions, known as pots de vin in French, aka kickbacks from the sale were paid all over the map allegedly through Clearstream, an international clearing and settlement organization based in Luxembourg. This is a world of international finances where banks, Russian mafia, groups like Carlyle, industrialists and politicians, rub shoulders. By November 2003, the French secret services got involved as well as political figureheads and heads of military contractors. A year later, it secretly reached the highest echelons of the Élysée palace (the French White House). As of now, the president and prime minister are embroiled in the affair, as well as their chief right-wing competitor, the minister of the interior. A judge has seen his career frozen. The anonymous informant -- they're called corbeaux ("crows") in France, don't ask me why -- is apparently a top guy in an armament company. The who's who of French political and business apparatus is implicated. And presidential elections are scheduled for next year. To get a fuller picture of the sordid intrigue, read the Wikipedia article on Clearstream.
LOOKS MUCH LIKE a mini America to me. Methinks I better stay in Boonville, which brings me to the,
BOONVILLE NEWS: You know the jokes about how many people are needed to replace a light bulb? Well, we've had one play out on our own terrain, and again it had to do with the phone company that used to be named SBC but is now ATT, the one that catches and records your conversations and passes them to your friendly neighborly studying alumni (NSA). Forget about he change of name, from SBC to ATT. It's all about money. Theirs.
It took them over four days to fix our dial tone, remember? How long and how many people would it take to fix a cable serving a Quasimodo on the other side of the hill that had slowly fallen, coming to rest a few feet above the ground across our driveway? Are you into gambling? Want to bet?
It took five phone calls and almost a month before they fixed the pooh-pooh. After two calls, one idiot, err, professional, showed up 10 days later. That was the same err professional that had so diligently err fixed our dial tone err. He assured me that the "crew" would come and fix the mess in no time. Two weeks went by. Two more phone calls. Then the "boss" called in. Was much apologetic. Had been on vacation. See my drift -- not just the French use the excuse. He'd send a crew right away, cross my heart, pray to god. True enough, a technician came by to assess the problem. One technician, two weeks earlier, was not enough, for sure; a second opinion was in order. He sees the problem. He assesses the problem. He commiserates with the problem. Then he launches into a long tirade about how the company was no longer what it used to be, back then in the early 1980s, when it was serving the public interest before it became, through dismemberment, multiple profit centers...for which we keep paying day in and day out more and more buckaroos. He assures me that the "crew" will be here the next morning or he will come back and cut the cable so that our driveway is passable again.
Next morning comes. Priam, our canine partner in crime, had another seizure. I rushed him to the vet in the local tower of Babel called Ukiah. I spent most of the day there, forgetting about the phone people. Back, Priam alive but groggy from heavy sedation, the cable still hung there blocking the driveway. Nobody had showed up. Life goes on, as it should.
Five days later, three big trucks show up, each driven by a phone technician. Three trucks and three people to check the "problem." Yeap, ah, ah, ah, you have a problem. They turn around, leaving me a little perplexed, and drive to the other side of the hill. Hear the sound of chain saws. A few branches are cleared, and bingo, the cable jumps back up, clearing the driveway. Half an hour of work at best, five phone calls, five techs, and close to one month in the making.
Here we call it "Boonville time."
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can. Supporting the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.