Letters to the Editor

(February 26, 2007)


[If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Also, please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject on which you are commenting.]

Enjoy our letters? Keep them coming and, please, support our work.

Losing the Land through Congress: Carol Christen's A Mess Of Potage

To the Editor:

The article by Carol Warner Christen is terrific. I wish to add only one thing for her further description of what we now have in this lost land.

When she wrote in paragraph two "When did our adult population of mostly middle class people decide 1) to build an empire using the military-industrial complex for gain, ..." I encourage her and others to use the intended identification "the military-industrial-congressional complex." One word was deleted from President Eisenhower's speech only moments before it made world news. This one word, "congressional," was considered too inflammatory.

Each element of the original statement that was made decades ago is in bed with each other and growing by leaps and bounds.


Willard D. Gray
Sumner, Illinois, USA - February 12, 2007

Carol W. Christen responds: That's an excellent point, of which I was totally unaware. It makes the concept complete. Thank you.


In honor of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover

Dear Editor,

In honor of the late Admiral Hyman G. Rickover
with special thanks to Gilles d'Aymery

Thank you for existing and thank the Web for allowing me to find you. My continual search for truth with some sense of clarity that passes the gut common sense test has been satisfied this day. My appetite has been whetted by various blogs, newspapers throughout the world, C-SPAN, and for respite, The Daily Show and Colbert Report. But never have I experienced the immediate sense of written truth without an obvious agenda other than the need to enlighten others. I was particularly mesmerized as I read the Dossiers recommended by Gilles d'Aymery, "Energy Resources And Our Future" (May 14, 1957) by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. As a widowed mom with 3 young daughters, I plan to take Rickover's piece, reassemble for kid friendly engagement, and use this as a teaching tool. I do not home school them, but practice a deep responsibility to take current events and convey it to them on their wavelength. Thank you Swans. I feel privileged to have found you.


Diane Ekstrand
Anchorage, Alaska, USA - February 14, 2007

[ed. Many thanks for the kind words. Please disseminate Rickover's lecture as widely as possible, and keep reading Swans.]


Informative Background on Boris Vian's song, Le Déserteur

Dear Editor,

While searching for items on the Web regarding this song, I found your page.

I just wanted to give you some information you may be interested in. The song was actually co-written by Boris Vian and Harold Berg. (The story of how that happened is pretty interesting too.) Harold Berg was a good friend of mine. He died this past January. He left me his music royalties regarding this song. In addition, I have the original hand-written sheet music, written in his own hand with the lyrics from 1954. The last line of the song is indeed et qu'ils pourront tirer. So... I have also heard of the possible alternative ending, but the evidence seems to indicate that it was much more pacifistic all along.

I hope this info is of interest and is helpful.

Jim Rothschild
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - February 19, 2007

[ed. I've appended Mr. Rothschild's illuminating comments in the song's page. Furthermore, Mr. Rothschild will try to send a scan of the sheet music. When we receive it, I'll post it with full credits and link it to and from the song's page.]


Ataturk's Reformist Identity, or Propaganda? Peter Byrne's The Turkish Man Mountain

Dear Editor,

I came across Peter Byrne's review of Erendiz Atasu's novel, The Other Side of the Mountain, published on swans.com (http://www.swans.com/library/art13/pbyrne24.html) on 19th February 2007. It captured my interest that a considerable proportion of the review discusses the author's perspective towards Ataturk and the Turkish history.

According to Byrne, it is only intellectually acceptable to mention Ataturk's military achievements and acknowledging his reformist identity can only be a temporary or naïve state in which Atasu and others find themselves "after eighty-some years of propaganda." He further claims that this naïve status can be compared to how some Italian women felt for Mussolini, during a limited era in history. According to Byrne the outsiders of Turkey: "... see Ataturk as an exceptional strategist who cut the losses of empire, fixed reasonable boundaries to a new republic and defended it brilliantly against the onslaught of the western powers. But the same outsiders are not so sure about his subsequent civil reforms."

I think the best reply to this has already been given in UNESCO's declaration of the Ataturk Centennial, accepted by more than 150 countries. This honor is given to a leader who planned, studied and acted for the reforms in language, women rights and education in between battles. And it is certainly most difficult to overlook his vision as a statesman, knowing that he established an independent parliament, on the invaded ruins of a 600-year-old empire, before winning the war of independence. After the war, he led his nation towards secularism and to rapid improvements in the economy, arts and the academia. Reforms like abolishment of caliphate (1928), the new alphabet (1928) or women's right to vote and be elected (1934, before France, Italy and certainly, Switzerland) are adequate on their own for calling someone a reformist leader; and he clearly has done much more.

According to the brief resume on the site, Mr. Byrne has lived in Istanbul as well. However in my view he must have failed to understand that it is not only Ataturk's name or portraits, but his ideas, vision and projects that are everywhere around Turkey. In the light of that, I must say I agree with Mr. Byrne in the existence of eighty-some years of propaganda, but in my view it exists for conditioning Mr. Byrne and the like-minded "outsiders." It exists because it is one thing to accept a military defeat of the "Western powers," and another to digest the fact that that military miracle was created by and later supported back a reformist philosophy of a leader and a nation of the non-West. It seems as if both the subjects and the objects of this propaganda can rest if only everyone could forget about Ataturk's statesman and reformist identities and put him in the same box with some "paternal figures." The only problem is that is not the truth.

The history of Ataturk's civil reforms is concrete and easy to find. After having a look at what happened in Turkey in the first half of the 20th century, if Mr. Byrne is still not sure about Ataturk's reformist identity, at least he can be very sure about the power of propaganda.


Ozge Dilaver Kalkan
Lancaster, UK - February 20, 2007

Peter Byrne responds:

Dear Ozge Dilaver Kalkan,

However we may differ over his reforms, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was an exceptional leader and a likeable human being. He wasn't a supernatural being. To treat him as such is merely intellectually immature. But to use his aura, as has been done, to bolster a narrow, nationalist ruling class demeans a great man.


Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy


Hitting the Nail on the Head: Phil Greenspan's Beware Of Those Desperate Hawks

Dear Editor,

Just a quick "Thank You" for Philip Greenspan's comments on the Zionist response to Carter's book. When is someone going to call him a Nazi or worse? He hit the nail on the head and I salute him!

Peace, Justice, and Music

Donna M. Cotner
Campbell, California, USA - February 12, 2007


Strong Letter to US Senator Dianne Feinstein. Question is: Will she listen?

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I am writing to beg you to take a stronger stand against the widely rumored imminent attack on Iran. The Bush administration is arrogantly employing the same transparent lies and faked intelligence to justify this attack as it earlier did in Iraq. The Democrats' excuse that they were "misled" by the President on Iraq won't work a second time. We know you are not that naïve and unable to spot a scam when it's being played on you.

If the Democrats allow a second criminal war to be launched by the President, they will cease to be an effective political party in the United States. Whether or not it's true that the Democrats are unduly influenced by, or afraid of, the Israeli lobby, or have business and investment ties that actually profit from wars, that's the way it looks from the outside. You need to do something to dispel these false impressions, if they are false, because they are tantamount to corruption and conspiracy to deceive the public.

Don't take comfort from the common opinion that Iraq was "Bush's war." Perhaps it was, on balance (you were only the Rosencrantz and Guildensterns in that play), but Iran will definitely be your war, if you allow it to happen. There are many plausible Tonkin Gulf scenarios that could be played out here, to make an attack on Iran seem "defensive" in nature. Don't fall for them. You know there is no imminent nuclear threat from Iran, no proof of Iranian intervention in Iraq, nothing at all to justify attacking a sovereign nation. And you know the outcome will be wider wars in the Middle East, much graver and continuing threats of terrorism to the U.S.

For the sake of your party, if not honesty and morality, please get it right, this time.

Yours respectfully,

Robert Wrubel
Sausalito, California, USA - February 12, 2007


Charles Baudelaire on the Bureau of Public Secrets (BPS)

Dear Editor,

Just added to the BPS Web site:

Baudelaire's "The Balcony" (French poem + English translations)

Addressed to Baudelaire's mistress Jeanne Duval, this is one of the most beautiful poems of one of the world's greatest poets. None of the translations come close to conveying the somber splendor of the original, but reading them together may give you some glimpses.

This Baudelaire page is the latest addition to an ongoing series of comparative translations that includes Homer, Sappho, Carmina Burana, the Kalevala, the Chinese Book of Songs, the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Tu Fu and Basho

Of related interest at the same Web site:

My comments on French literature (from Villon to the Surrealists)

Kenneth Rexroth's translations from several French poets (Reverdy, Artaud, Prévert, etc.)

And the following essays (all by Rexroth):

"Classics Revisited" essays on Baudelaire and Rimbaud

Baudelaire's Ennobling Revulsion

Rimbaud as Capitalist Adventurer

The Cubist Poetry of Pierre Reverdy

The Influence of French Poetry on American

Two Talks on Poetry and Society

In solidarity,

Ken Knabb
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - February 24, 2007


Please help us. Thank you.


We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject you are commenting on at the beginning of your e-mail. Also, ***PLEASE,*** sign your e-mail with your name ***AND*** add your city, state, country, address, and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. Send your comments to the Editor. (Letters may be shortened and edited)
Previous || Letters to the Editor || Next

Published February 26, 2007
[Copyright]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Main Page]
Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915