Note from the Editor

Speaking of revisionism, faux-semblant, spinning news and skewed information, as we do in About Swans, one cannot help but notice the irony of Dan Rather's retirement over his bad Bush story the same week as The New York Times reports on the Bush administration's feel-good, ready-made news vignettes, which are provided to the television networks (without full disclosure, of course) and called "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office. "Ignore the findings," the Justice Department and OMB reportedly advised the executive branch agencies in a memo, "Such informational segments are legal whether or not an agency's role in producing them is disclosed to viewers." As the old adage goes, if it looks too good to be true -- if you see an Iraqi thanking America for bringing democracy to his war-torn country, or a burkha-less Afghan woman touting her new-found freedom, or a twenty-something singing the praises of "personal" Social Security accounts -- consider the source. It's part of the same faux world, like the Lebanese cedar revolution, that brings us made-for-TV town hall meetings and press conferences packed with pre-screened Bush choir members to whom he preaches about his agenda, while the protesters are quietly herded off camera into free speech zones where if a tree falls, no one hears it...

Phil Rockstroh's had it with those zones, the political correctness, and so-called niceties in the face of global madness, and one can't help but wish to share his dinner table, where the conversation will no longer be polite, much to the dismay of the plush, pink liberal asses's comfort zone. Richard Oxman joins the flock and its fray, taking on those somnambulant progressives and making a bet about upcoming terrorist attacks. What, insurgents within our borders?!? God has given us a cause to die for, having spoken in tongue with W. as medium, and Gerard Donnelly Smith as transcriber.

The ruling elite's arrogance of power, the media spin, the manipulation of 9/11, and the resulting acceleration of the authoritarian agenda give first-time contributor Michael DeLang cause to re-examine the works of philosopher Karl Popper and his call for an open society with equal treatment of citizens, democratic elections, the right to dissent, among other "guarantees," which are disappearing from the very country claiming to spread democracy to the world. We're in a system that's unsustainable and a cycle that will have untoward consequences on the human species and its environment. Philip Greenspan looks at how the laws of nature translate to man's survival instincts and their resulting destructive side effects. How humans can resort to torture is beyond comprehension, and Francis Raven, in an excellent debut article, provides an analysis of the ethical limitations of torture and profiling, and their respective relationships with knowledge. And never underestimate the power of fear in diminishing human rights and civil liberties. Milo Clark continues his series on Walter Laqueur, recommending that The Human Rights Reader deserves a second reading in light of current trends.

Seems everyone's a critic? Well, there aren't many good ones left, laments Charles Marowitz in a fine analysis of British and American theatre criticism. The likes of Frank Rich, former NYTimes drama critic turned sociopolitical connoisseur, whose creatively stinging reviews were legendary on Broadway, have been replaced by bland, "fair-and-balanced" party-line journalists.

From critiques to creativity, we close with the architectural poetry of Gerard Donnelly Smith; a poignant short story by Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge; our editor's blips (are we a CIA front?!?) and our readers' comments; last but not least, John Steppling's two cents' worth, which is always priceless.

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


America: Myths and Realities

Phil Rockstroh:  An Outcast's Inappropriate Aria

You and I are going to have this argument, America. It's been building to this for quite some time now. You've been telling me to hold my tongue, remain reasonable to a fault; simply, go along with it all. And, if I must, then I should stand in a "free speech zone" and hoist a protest sign -- that will be seen by no one -- while I chant into empty air. I'm at liberty to engage in all the free expression my malcontent heart desires -- as long as it doesn't cost you anything, by way of money, image, and power.   More...


Richard Oxman:  Bring Back Poindexter, Please!

The title? Not because John Bolton's so bad. Which he is. I just couldn't resist invoking the name of the highly (Iran-Contra) decorated, former senior national security adviser for Reagan, considering the false sense of security being fostered by FBI fakirs these days.   More...


Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The Insurgent Word: "Persona Non Grata"

Left to their own selves Americans wouldn't know what to die for, so my friends at the Foundation for the American Family have found the solution. That is, God knows what you should die for. 'Cause children will go to the edge of the Earth for a good cause.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Michael DeLang:  The Open Society Revisited

[...] As we celebrated the beginning of a new millennium, our nation had already long been drifting toward the acceptance of an authoritarian undermining of the principles of democratic governance crafted by its founding fathers. But it had been a long, drawn out, subtle and creeping march.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Side Effects Of Perverted Brains

A classical pianist friend, to get a feel of an audience response, performs his upcoming concerts before a group of invited guests. This past week during one of these preview concerts I sat up close while he played by heart for approximately an hour compositions of Beethoven, Chopin and Scriabin.   More...


Francis Raven:  Profiling, Torture & Knowledge

Both profiling and torture are techniques used to prevent crime. However, both methods are often overprovided by the state. Therefore, the use of both procedures needs to be bounded by robust ethical standards. The roots of these ethical standards might be found in a study of how torture and profiling relate to knowledge.   More...


Milo Clark:  Never Underestimate The Power Of Fear

Human rights and civil liberties function to reduce fear and to release bonds. A touchstone of civil liberties and human rights is the Magna Carta (1215) in which English barons forced King John to back down and to accept restraints on royal powers and prerogatives. The limited monarchy is born.   More...


Art & Culture

Charles Marowitz:  English vs. American Theatre Criticism

Frank Rich, unaffectionately dubbed "the Butcher of Broadway," reigned supreme as The New York Times drama critic for over a decade. During his sway, the theatre community smarted under his acrimonious notices. When he walked into theatre receptions, the actors, it is alleged, walked out en masse.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Framing


Say quid;

You say quo.

You say private; I say personal:
I say crisis;  you say insolvency.



Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Ambrose Bierce:  An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #14

"Heretics were often most bitterly persecuted for their least deviation from accepted belief. It was precisely their obstinacy about trifles that irritated the righteous to madness. 'Why can they not yield on so trifling a matter?'"
—Leo Shestov, All Things are Possible, 1905

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: from a reader's humorously paranoid concern that Swans may be a CIA front; to the MoveOn family's frequent-flyer miles, Doonesbury Liberals, Latte Leftists, and other environment-friendly Green Beaners; to child poverty, world chaos, and DU destruction; with a few tidbits about Boonville retaining walls in between.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On Philip Greenspan's thoughts on war and elections; creating a progressive movement in Canada; shock and awe regarding Marowitz's support of Havel; support from the coiner of "corporism;" and John Steppling's wintery grumblings on our last issue, including "who dressed Dick Cheney for his visit to Krakow?"   More...



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Created: March 17, 2005