Swans » From the Martian Desk


Blips #3

by Gilles d'Aymery

October 4, 2004   


"It's time for the silent criers to be held in love
"It's time for the ones who dig graves for them to get that final shove
"It's time for the horizons of the universe to be glimpsed even by the faceless kings of corporations
"It's time for chaos to win and walk off with the prize which turns out to be nothing."
—Bruce Cockburn

(Swans - October 4, 2004)   SAYS RALPH NADER, in the aftermath of the Bush-Kerry interview, err debate: "[T]he Nader/Camejo ticket remains the only one that was against the war -- before it started, during, and after -- and wants to bring the troops back home, stop the endless occupation and proliferation of violence in that area, and indeed reflects the growing majority of American people who want us out of there and who now think that sending troops there was a mistake."

JUST REMEMBER, a vote for Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo is a vote for sanity!

THERE IS LITTLE to report about the, err, "debate." It mostly was contrived and scripted. Bush was Bush; annoyed by the tiny arrows thrown at him by his bland adversary (his "opponent"); a mini-macho doing his utmost to appear super-machismo -- his best idiotic line was about not acknowledging any mistake because it would send the wrong signal to the troops and the "allies" -- a true leader leads, right or wrong (or, in the words of Bernard Berenson, "Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.") It was his main line of defense/attack during the entire interview, err debate, besides having god on his side. He seldom looked at Kerry...that annoying little pest. Kerry's pestilence was there to see. He not only out-Bushed Bush on the war thing -- he'll win in Iraq (he has a plan), he'll pre-empt (Iran, North Korea?), he'll get OBL and the terrorists (he has a plan), he'll increase Homeland Security (he has a plan...Patriot II?) -- and he did not say anything stupider than, or different from, Bush. I could not help but notice, however, that both mentioned Israel (which will add more ammo to the Raimondistas) and that two issues, oil and Abu Ghraib (American torture) were conspicuously absent from their respective perorations. All in all, the show had much ado about nothing: golden platitudes uttered by golden boys for golden people.

THAT BUSH LOOKED irritated, at times angry, and mostly miffed by Kerry's attacks was there for all to see; but to be honest, he had good reasons to be upset. Here he is accused of wrongfully attacking Iraq as his "opponent" dutifully voted for such pre-emptive war and talks about his plan to win it; here he is accused of being a unilateralist as he's tried to multilateralize the North Korean "crisis" and his "opponent" advocates unilateralizing the darn thing; here he is accused of pre-empting and his "opponent" keeps hammering the right to pre-empt. I mean, come on! One could sense what was going on in Bush's mind: What's this waste of time -- the interview, err debate? We pretty much agree on everything. It's just that I paint the various US ventures in godly pastels, as god is on my side, while he (my "opponent") presents the same ventures in goody-goody gobbledygook as he is standing on the side of god... So, it's just about "anyone but ME?" What a difference!

RIGHT FEELING, wrong tactic...

IN ANOTHER, OLDER ERA, that of the backroom dealings, without the glare of the cameras and the open mikes, Bush would have turned to Kerry and simply said: "John, come on, stop the BS. Regarding Iran, what do you think I am arming Israel with bunker-buster ammo for -- remember our brotherly proxies? And what is this entire charade about North Korea? You guys are ready to go-alone all the same; ya' know it and I know it." And Kerry would reply, "yes Georgie, we both know it but we have to go through the quadrennial dance all the same, and feed the circus."

SOME OF YOU, good readers, must belong to the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party -- you know, that tiny little shed, conveniently located behind the storage rooms, next to the restroom, under the big democratic tent... I can already hear your strenuous objections to my depiction. Outrageous, you'll exclaim! You can't be serious! Of course, there is more than a dime's worth of difference between the two candidates and, by extension, the two parties, much more! Well, I suppose that the odds of helping you to open yours eyes is near zilch, on the verge of absolute zero, but let me try nevertheless by providing you with a few examples.

IRAN PRE-EMPTION: One of the rising stars in your camp, US Representative and soon-to-be US Senator Barack Obama (D - IL), who's totted as a progressive liberal democrat by the bosses, had quite an illuminating interview with the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune (Sept. 25, 2004). Excerpts:
U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs.


"The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to, if any, are we going to take military action?" Obama asked.

Given the continuing war in Iraq, the United States is not in a position to invade Iran, but missile strikes might be a viable option, he said. Obama conceded that such strikes might further strain relations between the U.S. and the Arab world.

"In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in," he said.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran. ... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point."


Obama's willingness to consider additional military action in the Middle East comes despite his early and vocal opposition to the Iraq war. Obama, however, also has stressed that he is not averse to using military action as a last resort, although he believes that President Bush did not make that case for the Iraq invasion.

Source: "Obama would consider missile strikes on Iran," by David Mendell, Tribune staff reporter - Published September 25, 2004.
VERY PROGRESSIVE, isn't it? Impose economic sanctions if Iran does not cooperate...launch surgical strikes against Iran and Pakistan...not averse to using military action... Looks quite Bushian to me, though certainly Obama would argue that there is the right way (Kerry) and the wrong way (Bush) to go after the theocratic extremists. It's just a matter of degrees and nuances, see.

UNDOUBTEDLY, Mr. Obama is compellingly progressive. Not only does he consider that "Islamic extremists are a vastly different brand of foe than was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they must be treated differently," and thinks that "we would have to consider going in and taking those bombs out, because [I don't think] we can make the same assumptions about how they calculate risks" (no subliminal racism, here, not at all...), he's also opposed to gay marriage. "[H]is Christian faith dictates that marriage should be between a man and woman. 'I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman,' Obama said."

SOCIAL SECURITY (privatization of): We all know that Mr. Bush wants to privatize Social Security but what we do not know as well is how much the democrats are a willing party to the deal but in a more submarine-like fashion. Louis Proyect, in his excellent latest book review, reveals how the Clinton administration "planned to turn Social Security into an extension of the Mutual Funds industry," though his efforts were derailed by a stained dress. Just go and read Proyect's report. It's quite entertaining!

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D- CA), on Sept. 24, voted to extend the three tax cuts to the famed middle class -- some $146 billion -- as well as a bevy of business tax breaks ($13 billion), but against a $4 billion package for the poor and homeless (not enough money in the budget, ya' know). There is no more ardent "liberal" than Senator Barbara Boxer, as my progressive friends are well aware of...no? To be fair, I should add that 91 senators voted with her and only three opposed the legislation (two reps, one dem...), and the House of Representatives voted 339-65 for those tax cuts. Comments. Anyone?

IN MY BLIPS #2, I commented on Darfur, Sudan, and how the Humanitarian Brigades, the Cruise Missile Left, and so many other "Progressives" a la Samantha Power had jumped on the US Administration bandwagon en route to intervention in Darfur. They lauded Colin Powell when he officially declared that, yes indeed, what's happening in Sudan is genocide. They all went to the barricades and shrieked "Intervene, intervene, intervene." Strangely enough, no one appears to have pondered how come the progressive voices found themselves in cahoots with this dangerous, far right-wing administration, echoing the same shibboleths... I guess one should go back to the 1990s, look into the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), and google a certain John Garang. Mr. Garang (aka, Doctor Garang, or Colonel Garang) got his education from Grinnel College (BA sciences, 1971) and Iowa State U. (Ph.D., 1981), and in between, his military training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1974. Properly educated and trained, Mr. Garang went on to create the SPLA in the mid-eighties and the old ethnic conflict quickly deteriorated. By the nineties, the US government was officially providing "humanitarian" aid to the SPLA. On March 3, 1996, the New York Times described the objective of Mr. Garang as "an explicit strategy to render south Sudan ungovernable, and in that he succeeded. The South today is not only ungovernable but virtually uninhabitable." On Nov. 17, 1996, the Sunday Times revealed that the Clinton administration had "launched a covert campaign to destabilize the government of Sudan... More than $20m of military equipment, including radios, uniforms and tents will be shipped to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda in the next few weeks. Although the equipment is earmarked for the armed forces of those countries, much of it will be passed on to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which is preparing an offensive against the government in Khartoum." In 1998, Mr. Powell's predecessor at the State Department, Madeleine Albright, met with John Garang. On May 1, 1998, Jonathan Steele wrote in The Guardian, " Welcome to the 1980s. Long live Ronald Reagan. Remember the scenario -- a rebel group being trained and armed by the CIA to topple a sovereign government, cross-border incursions from secluded camps, and the whole de-stabilisation exercise backed by international sanctions and a massive propaganda campaign. It sounds like Nicaragua or Angola circa 1984. In fact it's Sudan 1998." On July 21, 1998, the Agence France Press reported, "Much of the relief going to more than a million famine victims in rebel-held areas of southern Sudan is ending up in the hands of the Sudan's People's Liberation Army (SPLA), relief workers said." On Dec. 6, 1999, the New York Times charged that the SPLA "have behaved like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging." The Boston Globe reported on Dec. 8, 1999, that "[T]o the peril of regional stability, the Clinton Administration has used northern Uganda as a military training ground for southern Sudanese rebels fighting the Muslim government of Khartoum."

Then Colin Powel pronounces the g-word and US House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, another famed progressive liberal, states, "[W]e must act now to avoid more slaughter and avoid a repetition of the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago. This is a crisis, an emergency. We have the legal obligation under international law to act."

And on, and on, and on... Want to hear many unanswered questions about the SPLA and Mr. Garang? Take a moment and read the February 2001 press release by The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council: http://www.sudan.net/news/press/postedr/14.shtml
(Thanks to Liz Burbank and Kcom Journal for the various sources.)

There's a remarkable continuity in the Sudanese policy from both parties. What I fail to understand is how the Humanitarian Brigades can so easily swallow it hook, line and sinker. Would Michael Bérubé, a humanitarian par excellence, care to explain? Why not the Congo (DRC), Michael? Why so much concern with self-determination in the Sudan? Why Sudan, Michael, why?

THEN THERE ARE THE LIES, the big and super lies: Admittedly, Mr. Bush is not on top of his game when compared with his domestic archenemy, Bill Clinton. How could Clinton get away with Bosnia and Kosovo (the g-word was another biggy then...also celebrated by the same Humanitarian Brigades), the Iraq sanctions, the bombing of the pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, etc., and poor Bush is being hammered for missing WMDs and other peccadilloes?

I MEAN, TRULY, Mr. Bush deserves some sympathy here. That one may not like his smirk or his born-again religiosity, which he certainly wears on his sleeves, is good reason enough for getting him out of the White House. This, I'll gladly and readily concede. But please, the policies of the US government ARE inherently bipartisan. The consensus is indubitable. From privatizing the air you breathe, the water you drink, the prison system, education, all social services including Social Security, to militarizing the country, crushing dissent and civil liberties, waging war, outsourcing jobs, and proceeding with the continued transfer of wealth to the top of the pyramid, etc., etc., etc., the two parties offer no substantive differences -- only tactical ones. So, friendly "progressives," you are yet once again being swindled!

IT REMINDS ME ALL of this 16th century English proverb, collected in J. Heywood, Dialogue of Proverbs (1546), "Who is so deaf or so blind as he that wilfully will neither hear nor see?"

DID I say, a vote for Nader is a vote for sanity? Well, let's make sure I do:


JUST IN CASE... You may want to stop using Bush Sr. to criticize Bush Jr., just because papa Bush wrote in his memoirs that invading Iraq would lead to a quagmire. For daddy is crisscrossing the country, from one swing state to another, campaigning for sonny. Last week, he was in Iowa, then New Hampshire, delivering his stump speech -- a bit about Barbara, the doyenne; a bit about Laura, the Wonder Bread; a bit about the economy (it's doing swell) and the war in Iraq (stay the course); and much about how a proud father he is; and no, don't worry about sonny's faith, it keeps him straight and strong.

ON THE OTHER SIDE of the field, Andre Heinz, the catsup heir and Kerry's stepson, bounces from one university campus (last week in Colorado) to another, in white & blue T-shirts (Bush Sr. wears pin strips) marketing mummy's husband as the great and courageous and thoughtful and defender-of-the-poor next president of the US of A. I don't know about you, but I have this subterranean annoyance that pops up every time I see and hear an arrogant young SOB telling people: "And John will pay for all the goodies by repelling the tax breaks for people like me, making over $200k a year." (I paraphrase.) It's the "people like me" that does not sound right, even if it's factual. Then, he goes on (still paraphrasing, here) "Yeah, you better vote for Kerry, so that people like me who do not need the breaks can pay for your tuition, blah, blah, blah." The condescendence of this super-rich golden kid would make even Priam, my faithful mutt, puke out of disgust!

DON'T WORRY about the FBI and other friendly agencies poking into your life. I just moved a couple of months ago. Have a brand new address with two mailboxes (one personal, one for Swans). They both have already been hit by the Democratic Party. Did not take long for them to find me. James Carville, second time this year, presuming that "I want Bush out, Kerry in and change in America" asks for what else but more money. I'd say Carville is right on one point out of three. I sure want change in America, but the Dems won't get a dime out of me! The other fundraising letter came from John Kerry -- an appeal in big upper case letters, stating that "I KNOW HOW MUCH IS AT STAKE . . . . I'M RUSHING A SPECIAL DONATION OF: . . . " This one is rather funny, the return slip mentions that this fundraising letter was paid by the Democratic National Committee; and that "this communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee." Well, then, why is it coming from John Kerry?

QUOTE FOR THE AGES: " The use of troops to defend America must never be subject to a veto by countries like France." —King George the Second, Allentown, PA, circa October 1, 2004. France, you've been warned!

A FRIEND WRITES: "Have you noticed that most Christian Iraqis are leaving the country [Iraq]. The few remaining Jewish Iraqis are all gone. Doctors, engineers, professors -- all the educated middle class -- are leaving in troves. What's your take on this? Are we creating chaos?" Michael Parenti once said that we should not think these people (in Washington) are stupid. We all played with Bush the idiot at one time or the other. But Parenti and Diana Johnstone have long argued that these people are actually much more informed than we think and quite intelligent. It's not that they do not know what they are doing, but on the contrary, that they are fully aware of what they are doing. So, yes, chaos is being deliberately created in Iraq -- the same way that chaos has been deliberately created in the Israeli-occupied territories. Sane people have families and when hope for a better future, a more human future is quashed again and again, they will eventually move out, just to survive. It leaves the place to the more extreme, do-or-die, resistants. In turn, it allows the occupying power(s) to justify their intervention and move forward toward their ultimate aims -- in the case of Israel, the dispossession of the entire West Bank; in the case of the U.S., military bases in Iraq from which oil fields can be controlled and further mid-eastern countries de-stabilized or invaded at will. Nothing new under the sun: the Brits used to excel at this game. The 1999 events in Seattle were a milder and much shorter example of how you organize chaos to squeeze the balls of the anti-globalization movement. In each case the fearful "good people" go home to roost. Ariel Sharon could not last without "terrorism;" Israel could not pursue its objective without "terrorism." Iraq could not be invaded and occupied without the terrorist specter (whether WMD, uranium ore, and now the Islamic fundamentalists). The anti-globalization movement could not be sustained the moment the lib-labs went home for fear of violence. It's an age-proven strategy. Chaos is a mass-controlling tool.

NOW, DO NOT ASK how I got on this e-mail distribution list, but "Texans for Texas" (how a Texan could not be for Texas is a mystery) sent an action update #51, dated Sept. 28, 2004, in which the venerable Peggy Venable rants about "Docugate and CBS Provide Catalyst for Resurrection" -- possibly Christ or the fundamentalist movement. Ms. Venable writes: "As fiscal conservatives, many of us are frustrated with the mainstream media and have completely tuned out. But as the feeding frenzy heightens, it is difficult to sit on the sidelines. And we would be wrong to do so. Dan Rather may be toast and CBS is discredited. Even the CBS producer appears to be complicit in coordinating with the Kerry Campaign. Many Americans realize that while CBS may be the culprit here, mainstream media has earned a reputation of having such liberal leanings that few of us are surprised at the CBS debacle. We conservatives believe in a free press, but is it free if run and operated by self-proclaimed liberals?"

GOOD QUESTION, just imagine the "liberal media," from the infamous New York Times to CBS and Dan Rather. Danie the Red... Reminds me of Cohn Bendit. . . With such staunch "liberals" -- ya' know, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich (oops, sorry, Dennis is a "progressive," like Michael Moore is a "populist," if you see what I mean), late Paul Wellstone, and the sempiternal Barbara Boxer, no doubt, Ms. Venal, sorry, Venable, is correct, we are on the fast track to the dreaded socialist nirvana!

POOR ZMAG: The folks at ZNet are rapidly hemorrhaging -- some $7,000 a month. So they've launched a fundraising campaign whose timing of course collides with the Dems' efforts to get your hard earned money -- ya' know, to get rid of Bush. Argh, what to do, what to do? Those good folks have been saying, imploring, begging, explaining, arguing, for over one year how fundamental getting rid of Bush was -- an ardent obligation before going back to marshalling the troops on the road to revolution. So, where should your hard-earned money, if you have much to spare, go? Kerry? Albert? That is the question...a dreadful conundrum no? But irony apart, and whether one agrees with their editorial line and their political stands, their contribution is undeniable. Between those folks and the residents of the Gray Lady, there is no discussion, no second thought. Yet, one has to cough about $600 a year to subscribe to The New York Times and all the while suffer their crass advertising on top of their rotten ideology. ZNet has no advertising and depends on the voluntary contributions of its readers and visitors. Here again is a case in point for the alternative media. You are condemned to grow or to die. The more you grow, the higher the expenses, and since cash-flow is almost entirely dependent upon voluntary financial contributions, and that many readers are struggling to make ends meet, you find yourself in a situation of grow-OR-die, or grow-AND-die. This is the real conundrum we are all facing. So, again, putting my smile aside for a moment, you people see what you can do.

HOW SCREWED are the US elections? Take a moment, look at this little parody, go through the short exercise. It will lead you to the real thing. Then you compare what you see with Milo Clark's observations. That's how screwed the US elections are. Call it Dumbocracy.

BOONVILLE NEWS: Yes, I have, *finally,* fast Internet through a satellite connection. Problem is, I have an IP address conflict with my LAN, which gives me one option only. Get on the fast lane and forget about the local lane, or inversely, get your good old usual and whine about 24k connections to the Net. Another little disruption to be solved, I guess... Hopefully, it won't lead to chaos! Winter's coming.

AND so it goes...

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America the 'beautiful' on Swans


Gilles d'Aymery is Swans' publisher and co-editor.

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Published October 4, 2004
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