And So Goes 2002. . . .

by Milo Clark

December 16, 2002


Keep in mind always that the nature of actuality remains paradox.

I started out the 2002 Swans' year prattling about "coup and containment." Now that the Bush coup has been given imprimatur by those few who vote, I will note that the coup has succeeded.

Containment persists. Fear and tight budgets along with slashed airline schedules and escalating fares combine to keep people at home.

For stay-at-homes, I read yesterday of a new motor home which has within it a garage for a small car, BMW mini suggested. $350,000, 41-some feet from stem to stern. Another blessing of living in Hawaii: no huge motor homes blocking highways.

The new Porsche SUV has sold out the first year production run of 25,000 before formal introduction to sales rooms.

Wal*Mart had the largest single day of sales in its history the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Hey, money is hardly worth saving any more. Spend it while it will still buy something. Bad money always drives out good.

Media consolidation and a prevalent set of blinders combine to contain "information" tightly. Propaganda prevails. Trying to penetrate the covers imposed requires what was called a "Philadelphia lawyer" running in overdrive.

In the last few weeks I have taken some time to scan through the so-called Patriot Act of 2001. Signed by Bush on 26th October 2001. Had to have been in process long before 11th September.

Over four hundred pages of four- and six-point type available to stimulate paper consumption. Impenetrable. Consists primarily of bits and pieces of existing laws being modified by deletion of a few words here and there, addition of a few words there and here. To make any sense of any of it requires finding the law amended, understanding it as it was and attempting to infer what has changed.

Jailhouse lawyers will spend the equivalent of very long periods of incarceration trying to figure out why they happened to be detained under the Patriot Act of 2001.

Any who contribute to Swans are prima facie "domestic terrorists," should someone in authority determine to make a test case of the Patriot Act of 2001 using us. All who visit Swans are leaving tracks which can be traced and are legal to trace now.

"Terrorism" and its new adjunct "Domestic Terrorism" constitute actions that ". . . appear to be intended . . . to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." Broader than wide, I suspect. If anyone is intimidated by anything I write, they are welcome to it.

The "Freedom of Information Act" on which so many have relied is now gutted. Apparently the Bush folks are well into the most secretive American government in history. With the media muzzled or compliant, we are unlikely to ever know what came down until too late.

I survived COINTELPRO the last time FBI, CIA, Secret Service, et al., were unleashed to curb dissidents (Civil Rights and Vietnam years). Several good friends were casualties, some terminal.

It doesn't make any difference to be "right." When might makes right, as again now, right is irrelevant. State-of-the-art surveillance technologies and sheer numbers of agents available are intimidating by themselves. The radar under which I have long attempted to stay is now very much closer to the ground. As best I can, I will continue not to play the games involved.

Nancy Chang has done her homework on the Patriot Act of 2001. Her book is Silencing Political Dissent, How Post September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties, (Seven Stories, NY, 2002, ISBN 1-58322-4947, $8.95, pbk). Howard Zinn does the foreword. Highly recommended for immediate ordering in quantities to distribute widely. Seven Stories Press is located at 140 Watts Street, NYC NY 10013, 1-800-596-7437, http://www.sevenstories.com.

Context is important as I see it. None of this stuff is much new although very much expanded and fleshed out. During WW I, the Espionage Act of 1918 trapped all kinds of folks, see the piece by Scott Nearing which was recently highlighted in Swans. The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 was broadly used to keep scholars, writers, political activists out (Carlos Fuentes, Pablo Neruda, Garcia Marquez were only a few so excluded). Watch out for lurkers using Alien and Sedition laws as cover.

Habeas Corpus? Forget it. Guantanamo, here we come. US Judiciary has ruled that Guantanamo, under perpetual lease to US, is not US territory therefore US laws do not apply without saying what if any laws do apply there. Hint: military law viz. Tribunals. The only kangaroos in Guantanamo are in the courts there.

Search warrants? Dead. Moot. "Sneak and Peek" allows "authorities" to come in at will.

What the Patriot Act of 2001 does is to subvert the balances built into the once-upon-a-time Constitution. The Executive Branch is now supreme. Legislatures and courts serve to provide cover rather than criticism or balance.

On January 1, 2002 in Swans, I wrote, "Playing Realpolitik is an aphrodisiac for politicians. Safe wars are assumed to guarantee political longevity. They are much more fun than murking through domestic squabbles." I'd say that about sums up the year.

Watch the old guy with the scythe. He's got a few swings saved up for his close-out.

Be careful to check the diapers on the 2003 baby for you-know-what.

Otherwise, rest easy knowing that the Homeland is secure even though once assumed Civil Liberties are pretty much history. Hey, only the folks that need catching need to worry. Right?

And paradox is the nature of actuality!

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Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, comes from a classic Eastern Establishment background culminated by a Harvard MBA. Perversely, however, he learned to think. Applying thought, he sees beyond and tries to write about what he sees. He now lives in the rainforest of non-tourist Hawaii near the lava flows.

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Published December 16, 2002
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