Swans » From the Martian Desk


Blips #5

by Gilles d'Aymery

November 1, 2004   


"Throughout my life, I have seen narrow-shouldered men, without a single exception, committing innumerable stupid acts, brutalizing their fellows and perverting souls by all means. They call the motive for their actions fame."
—Isidore Ducasse (1846-1870)

(Swans - November 1, 2004)   FREEDOM & DEMOCRACY: Asked his sentiments about the possibility that when Iraq holds "free" elections, a fundamentalist Islamic government will be elected, George W. Bush answered, "I will be disappointed. But democracy is democracy. If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose." Hmm, I wished the journalist had followed up with the same line of questioning. For instance: Isn't it what the Iranian people chose, Mr. pResident? Oops, sorry, Sir; my apologies; this was uncalled for -- we are talking about Iraq today. Iran is for tomorrow, or the next day. Sorry again, Sir... What I meant to ask, Sir, is whether it will be alright then, Sir, if the new legally and democratically elected Iraqi representatives (of, by, and for the Iraqi people) get on with their legislative business and pass -- quite legally -- the new laws of their land, including the imposition of the death penalty by beheading (like in non-democratic Saudi Arabia), the burka from head to toe for women (like non-democratic Saudi Arabia), perhaps the sharia altogether (like non-democratic Saudi Arabia), as well as the creation of a religious police to enforce it (like non-democratic Saudi Arabia), and finally, just to offer another example within the realm of possibilities, the decision to have their oil exports (it is Iraqi oil, isn't it?) paid in Euros instead of Dollars? Sorry, Sir, this was an undeservingly long question, filled with ifs and other hypothetical, certainly unrealistic scenarios...

THEN AGAIN, didn't Mr. Bush once say that we couldn't allow old folks (we call them senior citizens, in the U.S.) to import cheaper drugs from Canada because of potential quality problems and then when the flu vaccine shortage arose he averred that we could get more flu shots...from Canada?

OH, FORGET IT, we'll ask the French to send their mothballed guillotines to Iraq. Texas will look humane by comparison...as they keep killing their own sinners.

SMALL WORLD: Bob Schieffer of "liberal" CBS News, the respected elder journalist who moderated the last Bush-Kerry debate, has a brother, just so you know, Tom Schieffer. Tommy Boy happens to be the current ambassador to Australia (a Bush appointee). And what d'ya know, he used to be a business partner in the Texas Rangers when Dubya made his quick millions there. Now, I would not dare make any inference here -- not at all. It may well be that the two brothers are estranged, alienated by deep political and philosophical differences. After all, I have a brother; we've not talked to each other in almost 20 years (and on my father's front, it's been frozen silence, tundra-like, for 30 years and counting); so I should know... But, why is it that I've this hunch -- sort of gut feeling -- that Bob and Tommy share more than turkey on Xmas eve together?

TWO WEEKS AGO, on October 16th, the Santa Rosa, CA, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, in partnership with The Press Democrat (fully owned by The New York Times,) held a "debate" featuring Robert Reich, the Clinton Secretary of Labor and currently professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University -- a staunch "liberal" -- and Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and currently a member of the Defense Policy Board, and, worth mentioning here, co-chairman with former Senator Bob Kerrey (of Vietnam fame and president of New School University, New York, a bastion of "liberalism," as we all know) of the National Commission for Quality Long-Term Care -- a staunch "conservative." A crowd of some 700 people who could fork the price of the tickets, ranging from $42 to $75, attended what was advertised as a lively debate between two ideological foes. Here's what one of the fortunate few, Ken Walters, had to report (in a letter to The Press Democrat on Oct. 23, 2004): "The interplay between the two former political leaders was both humorous and informative. It turns out 'debate' was a misnomer, with very few exceptions they had similar views on what Americans should be doing to ensure our continued position as the best and strongest nation in the world." It was "very entertaining..." wrote the happy man. Indeed! Reich/Gingrich, same combat!

IT REMINDS ME of a PBS NewsHour discussion in August 2003 between Samuel R. (Sandy) Berger, former assistant and deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs under President Clinton; Richard Haass, who served on the NSC in the first Bush administration and left the State Department to join the Council on Foreign Relations as its new president; and Philip Zelikow, who also served on the NSC in the first Bush administration. Wasn't the consensus grand?

WHERE'S YOGI BERRA when we need him? And so, "some of the best-known names of the anti-imperialist American left" will vote for Kerry in tomorrow's elections. Then they may watch Survivor on CBS, or the latest reality show hit, Trading Spouses, on Fox -- many will, more seriously, read a good book and make a few calls -- and the next morning, yes the very next morning, they will assemble, dissect the results, lay plans for the coming battles toward the revolution...till 2008, when they'll ask again to put your hopes between parentheses (it's called "strategy," within the ranks of the self-proclaimed fragmented Left). The progress of the American progressive community is simply astounding, beyond my wildest beliefs. Yes, I know, America is tantalized and hypnotized by safety issues: safety from the terrOOOrists, safe food, safe drugs, safe cars (the bigger the better), safe sex (no parentheses here)...even safe states voting. How is it that the insurance industry has not yet fashioned a policy to make a few bucks...but actually it has, it's called the "American progressive community," where the competition is ferocious for the premiums charged. Please send your monthly check.

BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE: The paleo-cons at The American Conservative -- you know, Buchanan & Co...they too are all over the place, endorsing Bush, Kerry, Badnarik, Peroutka, and even having warm words for Nader, as though they wanted to spoil the quadrennial party. Hey, are those guys (and gals) fragmented or what? Or is it a reflection and endorsement of a post-modern multicultural diversity? Their own Kara Hopkins, with a good dose of humor and insight, will join Philip Greenspan and tens of millions of other fellows who consider the pageant downright irrelevant and joyfully go fishing. To use one of their favorite expressions, what a "bizarro world" it is!

THE NADERITE CULT: Poor Ralph Nader, not only is he vilified for accepting money from Republican donors, associating with some far-right fringes, and helping Bush to get elected, he's also accused of "seriously jeopardizing [the Green] party's political future," and that's due to "the resultant anger and bizarrely cultish behavior vis-a-vis [him]," on the part of his followers. These people, friends -- the Naderites -- are truly dangerous. I hear that they have been infected by the Jones syndrome, a potent suicidal virus; and that their only salvation is to recourse to a ritual blood bath turned green for the occasion, so as to satisfy the frenzying ego of their god-like leader. My, my, my, as though the whining Greens needed Nader to decompose into thin air... People such as Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, as well as "some of the best-known names of the anti-imperialist American left" (need names? Well, I'll give you one since I lifted the expression from his blog that was posted on Marxmail: Doug Ireland, a famous proletarian, as you should know) did not have their hands in the cookie jar... No, of course not, they didn't, did they? It's all Nader's fault, nah! Yap, yap, yap, Grrr, argh, Nader the villain! Tell you what, I've said it and I'll say it again: I hope that DARPA will look into this Idiocy Virus Syndrome (IVS), instead of TIA -- it's a potent disease.

AN ELITIST DOGMATIC SONOFABITCH? A Friend writes: "You don't listen very well. You're dogmatic, like Steppling. Very informed, perceptive and educated, wonderful writer, but too often bitter. You are not too keen on motivating other people who may not be on the same page as yourself. Also, not very concerned with the feelings of others. The stupidity of others is not sufficient excuse to be discourteous to them. Can you accept the fact that others do not think as you? I think not. That is elitist." Thanks friend... Duh, how inconsiderate of me not to have realized that my hidden karma was to encourage the utterances, however stupid they may be (I did not say it, my friend did), of some individuals afflicted with a hyper-ego! My apologies to the company. I dunno, maybe should I become a priest, or a therapist? Bitter? Possibly, but more probably quite sad and depressed... The dogma on Swans is as limpid as Swan Lake, as this piece so clearly demonstrates... Steppling, ya' better behave now, ya' hear, you little carbonized commie!

OUCH! Asterix turned 45-year-old on October 29. Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny created this small but super strong (thanks to the magic potion) Gallic Robin Hood with his friends, Obelix, Idefix, Assurancetourix, etc., in "Asterix the Gaul" on October 29, 1961. Then came "The Golden Sickle" (1963), "Asterix and the Goths" (1964), "Asterix the Gladiator" (1965), "Asterix and the Banquet," "Asterix and Cleopatra"... Since then, 310 million albums have been sold world-wide; 110 million albums sold in France. Asterix albums have been translated in 110 languages and dialects. Wouldn't you wish Messrs. Bush and Kerry had read Asterix and learned about the fate of empires?

INFURIATING SCAVENGERS: Big John [Steppling] posted a Web link (URL) on our internal, non-public Swans' List* regarding perhaps the best article I've read on the collusion between the Democrats and the Republicans and the "progressives" going home to roost, "The Year of Surrendering Quietly," by Alexander Cockburn, of Counterpunch muckraking fame. That link led me to a site named Axis of Logic (as though logic meant one axis only, yeah...way to go, Les Blough -- and appreciate the publicity here, ya' hear), one of the many scavenging sites on the Web (Commondreams, Truthout, etc., etc., etc.). I was puzzled at first. Why would Cockburn send his piece to that "non-publication," I wondered. Well for sure, down below, far below, was a link to the "original" location of the piece. It was, according to the plucky "Axis" editor, dissidentvoice.org, another scavenging site operated by a young chap in Northern California, who finds it easier to repost pieces gathered on the Internet than working in the real and muddy trenches where original works plant their seeds. But no worry, Dissident Voice "Editor," Sunil K. Sharma, (hey, appreciate the plugn Sunil!) is all about himself, as his "about page" can attest -- he's always ready to come and talk to your congregation, good fella'... At least he linked the Cockburn piece to its original publication (though not to the original article itself -- see below). He also took the liberty to insert within the article links to other Cockburn articles, all re-posted on his "site" and none published there -- 18 of them and counting, hence changing the content of the original publication. Nice way to make a name for oneself...

I FINALLY REACHED the original publication, the venerable New Left Review (NLR). Not only did NLR compensate (I suppose) Cockburn -- who's on its editorial board -- but it provided the article on its Web site free of charge, as well as an Adobe Acrobat formatted copy for download (also free). You'd think the scavengers would have the courtesy to acknowledge NLR and send their visitors to its site. Fffffft, this is the United States of America: all for one, and one for one. And they'll give you the finger if you dare object...

Talk about ethics! Talk about stealing! And talk about the time wasted to hunt down the original location... Still, go read Cockburn's article in its original location. It's a superb piece. Thanks, NLR, for sharing it!

BOONVILLE NEWS: Just keeping learning the lay of the land. For instance, when someone tells you "I'll see you tomorrow," expect him/her to show up in the spring at best -- and that's only because you'll have kept bugging and begging him/her over the phone every now and then...or he/she has nothing better to do. Whether it's the local electrician, the real estate agent, the insurance company, the backhoe contractor, the Jotul wood stove installer (oops, sorry, he just called back today!), or the Honda Generator dealer, etc. the experience repeats itself... A neighbor indicated that this phenomenon is well known in the Valley. It even has a name: Boonville time. Good, I was beginning to wonder whether it had something to do with my accent! But hey, we got the generator -- in San Francisco...so, strike the local dealer from the list.

BRUCE ANDERSON, who sadly left Boonville and relocated in Eugene, Oregon, is launching his new weekly, The AVA Oregon, this week. You can get a subscription for $40 (one year) or $22 (6 months) at AVA Oregon, PO Box 40038, Eugene, OR 97404. Get it from the very first issue, it will become a collectible!!

USA, UBER ALLES! According to The Lancet, a world-wide respected publication, as many as 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of operation "Iraqi Freedom."

QUOTE FOR THE AGES: "'Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children,' the researchers behind the report state."
—Emma Ross, Associated Press's medical writer, Newsday, October 28, 2004

ANOTHER QUOTE FOR THE AGES: "All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. ... If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher."
—Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838

AH, LIBERTY, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY, enlightening the world... What a journey, friends, what a journey!

I suppose that, in light of such enlightenment, I should now go and read Isidore Ducasse all over again. Undoubtedly, Maldoror will take a whole new meaning.

And so it goes...

*  Author's note added on November 13, 2004: I had written the word "Listserv," instead of "List", but received an e-mail from the Legal Department of L-Soft, a software company, indicating that "Listserv" is a registered trademark, and as such, cannot be used to refer to mailing lists and such. They requested that I remove the reference. See Letters to the Editor, November 15, 2004.  (back)

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

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Published November 1, 2004
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