Note from the Editor

Don't look for an article on the Iraqi elections here. We've been overwhelmed by the democratic process and the new god-given freedom brought to the country, courtesy of the US military and the generosity and abnegation of the American people. Iraq may not have had Weapons of Mass Destruction -- we destroyed most of the nation to find this out -- but Iraq is now free. Amazing what an election can do for a country. Ah, the road to democracy...Imagine we invaded and leveled the place so that its people could vote...we're left speechless -- hence the absence of articles on the subject. Instead, Phil Rockstroh and John Steppling carry on their conversation about culture, or whatever the "latte-sucking liberal homilies" and "other soul-sucking Demons of False Congeniality" tell us culture is -- the era of hyper-commercialization and banal lies. It's the make-believe reality, treachery, news control and formation created to manipulate the masses for the benefit of the few that John L. Hess experienced working at The New York Times for many years. Hess, who died some ten days ago, recorded his experience in A Memoir of Dissent, which Louis Proyect reviews -- bullying abroad, plutocracy at home and above all the maintaining of the status quo.

As Milo Clark examines Walter Lacqueur, a grand priest of the "neocon-nerie," he reflects on the upside down ways of American society and what better example of upside down than Mike Leavitt, the upcoming Secretary of Health and Human Services, who's been trashing the EPA by relaxing environmental regulations galore (see Jan's Baughman report). How far these people will go and how destructive the outcome will be depends on whether their demands and actions exceed the capabilities that the entire system can endure, as Philip Greenspan thinks. Can they be stopped through the practical boycott of the hegemony as Gerard Donnelly Smith suggests, focusing his attention on Bechtel, or should we create some sort of new a paradigm, as Manuel García advocates (with a pledge and an emblem, s'il vous plait...but without a patriotic song -- perhaps Le Chant des Partisans will do just fine...)? Will the open letters and other grandiose statements signed by the Tenured Left and other bien-pensant humanitarian progressives help? (See John Steppling's review of the past issue in the Letters to the Editor, as well as the Editor's blips.) Honestly, not one of us has an answer to these questions. New age paradigms, always in vogue in Northern California, petitions and "moral" statements, the staple of the loyal opposition, have a long track record of repeated failure... But, hey, if it did not work yesterday, it may work today, or tomorrow, or next year, or in the next generation, or on Mars, who knows...

Too bad we do not have Johnny Carson -- remembered here by John Steppling -- to poke fun at all these luminaries. We could also make use of a Shakespeare or whichever playwright of the Diaspora -- not the one Charles Marowitz reviews, but the Diaspora of that tenacious and ever-shrinking minority that refuses to succumb to the ambient despair. And more resistance would indubitably help... In the meantime, enjoy the Iraqi elections...until the next news cycle.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


Art & Culture

Phil Rockstroh & John Steppling:  America Has Left The Building...
A Conversation About Culture -- Part II

[ed. Second part of a dialogue between John and phil. The first part was published on January 17, 2005.]

John, continued Phil, odd coincidence: I was thinking of cell phones and Aeschylus, on and off, all day. I had not connected the two, mind you...until your missive.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Milo Clark:  The Upside Down - Walter Laqueur One

Whether or not George Orwell was familiar with Kabir, Lao-Tzu or Plato, he thoroughly understood the wonders and intrigues of upside down ways. Animal Farm and 1984 are perfectly upside down.   More...


Milo Clark:  Terrorism Upgraded To Normality - Walter Laqueur Two

Historian Walter Laqueur has studied terrorism for decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was somewhat dismissive of the perils represented by terrorism as he then saw it manifested. His 1985 book, A World of Secrets, The Uses and Limits of Intelligence, barely uses the word.   More...


America: Myths and Realities

Philip Greenspan:  Excessive Demands Will Exceed Capabilities

Time, place, and circumstance create perceptions whose plausibility seems unquestionable. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. became the world's sole superpower. The appellation "SOLE SUPERPOWER" created a perception that the U.S. could not only dominate the world, but with all their space age weaponry, could dominate the universe.   More...


Jan Baughman:  America's Health Is In Tainted Hands

In December of 2004, following Tommy Thompson's resignation as Secretary of Health and Human Services after expressing concern about the vulnerability of the food system to terrorist attacks, President Bush nominated Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Mike Leavitt to the post.   More...


Remembering Johnny

John Steppling:  Johnny Carson

It's interesting to note that a good many of the articles appearing since the death of Johnny Carson are reprints of pieces written in 1992, after the final edition of The Tonight Show. This isn't surprising, since The Tonight Show was what Carson did, essentially, for several decades.   More...


Activism under the Radar Screen

Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Boycotting The Hegemony: Part Two, Bechtel

Several weeks ago, I urged you to practice abstinence, give up smoking, grow your own food, buy a horse, get off the grid, move back to the country and start a commune or a co-op. Did you make much progress? No? Well, don't feel bad; I didn't either.   More...


Manuel García, Jr.:  The Pledge Of Solidarity

As individuals we cannot change the world, only ourselves. We must become the world to change it. How? By making a commitment shared by others, and this solidarity being an engine of growth.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:  And We Call It The "Paper Of Record!"

John L. Hess's My Times: A Memoir of Dissent is a must-read on two levels. Firstly, it is important as a critical insider's account of how The New York Times operates.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  Shakespeare, Playwright Of The Diaspora?

At first blush, Shakespeare and the Yiddish stage would seem to be as incongruous a combination as the Noh Drama and the Folies Bergère but the fact is at the start of the 20th century, and for approximately sixty years thereafter, Yiddish theatre companies maintained a constant, somewhat perverse, relationship with the Bard...   More...


Musical Poetry

Le Chant des Partisans (Song of the Partisans)
Lyrics: Maurice Druon & Joseph Kessel
Music: Anna Marly

[ed. In French with English translation. 1943 song of the French Resistance to the German invaders -- known as "La Marseillaise de la Résistance," an appeal to the fraternal struggle for freedom.

Ami entends-tu
Le vol noir des corbeaux
Sur nos plaines.
Ami entends-tu
Les cris sourds du pays
Qu'on enchaîne.
Friend, can you hear
The dark flight of the crows
Above our plains.
Friend, can you hear
The muffled cries of our country
In chains.     More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #11

RESOLUTION: "To put an end to all war, to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor. To tend the sick, to comfort the miserable, to make low the powerful, to raise up the meek. And if all that fails, to find one damn huge, dry martini with two olives -- and go swimming!"
—Sister Constance Craving

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: Much about the Tenured Left (an expression I stole from John Steppling), the Cruise Missile Left and other bien-pensant humanitarian progressives who've just signed another "moral statement" concocted by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (why don't they sign a statement against torture instead of this banal pomposity?); religion all the way down to Jacksonville; further torture equivocations by Mr. Gonzales among other tidbits, including the Boonville News.   More...


Letters to the Editor


An excellent review by John Steppling, the Bush's administration "unprotection" of swans (and 112 other species), thereby making us all sitting ducks, a few shorties, and even a message from hateland...where god hates everyone. Strangely enough (and disappointing), the dialogue about culture between Phil Rockstroh and John Steppling generated practically no comments...   More...



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Created: February 5, 2005