Note from the Editor

Since its inception some eight years ago, Swans has been a commercial-free zone; no annoying pop-ups to support our efforts, no advertisements to feed the corporate machine...until today, that is. Yes, in honor of The Fourth of July; in recognition of the lofty ideals of Freedom and Democracy made in the USA for all the world to share, we have agreed to run a special ad for America's Independence Day Sale. Great opportunities for American shoppers... God bless, etc. But this little wink aside, once again, we are saddened by the disappearance of another icon, a shining light of American culture -- one week Ray; the next, Marlon. In a tribute, playwright and screenwriter John Steppling explores the Brando genius and tragedy.

As advised in the June 21 edition, we carry on with the presentation of varying opinions on the coming US presidential election. In short, the question is: Does the urgency to vote Bush out of office -- to which he wasn't elected -- justify the Anyone But Bush position and the swallowing of the lesser-evil bitter pill? Don't be surprised by the differing analyses expounded here. Each side has something to say and presents its argument without acrimony or getting at each other's throat. They reflect the fact that Swans is a non-sectarian publication, not a party or a chapel... Don't just criticize -- analyze. You'll see the result, with a range of thoughtful essays from Phil Rockstroh, John Steppling, Joel Wedland, Phil Greenspan, and Bill Eger. More to come...

For his part, Milo Clark revisits the thinking behind the White House occupant and his henchmen with an analysis of Leo Strauss's political philosophy, who "twisted Plato's Republic into Rove's America." Richard Macintosh shows that this "Rove America" -- à la tautology, propaganda, censorship and the Patriot Act -- holds startling similarities with Nazi Germany; and Manuel García posits that it will be up to the Jonathan Swifts of the world to rally against the injustices of our time. Perhaps these words of Adlai Stevenson illustrate their thinking: "Freedom is not an ideal, it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set."

Now here's a quiz: What do Jesuzzy Lib-Labs, angry VPs and bland politicians have in common, and how common is the F word in the American lingua franca? You'll find the answer therein.

Finally, a poetic offering by Gerard Donnelly Smith, a political allegory of humanity and the natural world where animals model their egos and power struggles after our fine human example, and an interesting assortment of Letters to the Editor complete this issue. Enjoy!

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


America: Myths and Realities

Jan Baughman:  Independence Day Sale

A cartoon to memorialize the 4th of July weekend.   More...


Sadness Galore: Ray Yesterday; Marlon Today

John Steppling:  The Genius Of Marlon Brando

To call Brando the best actor of his generation is to miss the real significance of what he meant to 20th century art. Brando was always bigger than his films, and this dislocation of meaning, and the uncanny effect it created was, and still is, a part of what makes his acting so profound.   More...


Count Down to 2004

Phil Rockstroh:  Election 2004: A Plebiscite In Bedlam

The empire will continue to unravel regardless of who holds the titular office of the President of the United States. Corporate "leaders," like feudal lords, will continue to fight for power and dominion over market shares and public treasury plunder regardless of the outcome of the presidential election of November 2004.   More...


John Steppling:  Kerry And Electoral Illusions

I sympathize with the "anyone but Bush" sentiment, I really do. To imagine another four years of Ashcroft press conferences or Rumsfeld (who increasingly appears as a bipolar Hannibal Lector) briefings is almost enough to make me push that Diebold screen where the name John Kerry appears. Almost.   More...


Joel Wendland:  Regime Change Starts With Bush

Notwithstanding the claims of some on the US left, most of the world, including most of the working-class and democratic movements in the U.S., understand the Bush administration to be the most dangerous US regime in its history.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  ABB a.k.a. America's Bizarre Bunko

The quadrennial flimflam a.k.a. an election promises to be preceded by the most expensive, most mindless, most savage and most inane charade a.k.a. a campaign. The result will designate the ostensible leader of the U.S., a.k.a. the president.   More...


Bill Eger:  The Fine Art And Accomplished Magic Of Liking Everything

A group of San Francisco friends obtained a condominium for a long weekend on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. I was invited, although there was no wife or equivalent "significant other" to bring at the time.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Milo Clark:  Leo Strauss

It is time to do Leo Strauss some more. Previously, I have used two Straussian aphorisms or paraphrases: One, Lies are the Grease of Politics and, two, Enemies are Politicians' aphrodisiacs. I added that the core of Strauss's political philosophy is to do whatever it takes to seize power and, having seized power, do whatever it takes to keep power.   More...


Richard Macintosh:  Rubicon 9/11

We live in very perilous times. The country is polarized, reason has given way to belief and threats to the republic are rife. The threats to our way of life are not only from abroad, but sit on the seats of power within our own country. Using fear, our leaders have overridden questions of legitimacy, cowed the populace and viciously attacked those who dare to question their vision.   More...


Manuel García, Jr.:  Swiftian Overload

People listen to what they want to hear. What they want to hear is that they are righteous, they deserve what they take, they are free agents of independent mind, they are valued members of their group, their beliefs are justified, their actions are blameless, and they have no requirement to change. Prophets are doomed to exile accompanied by their insanity.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Ipse Dixit

He himself said, "he knew, he planned, he owned, he produced...",
resting on his word's authority alone: they acted, they invaded,
they tortured and they murdered.   More...


On my Mind

Gilles d'Aymery:  Plaisirs d'Amour: Jesuzzy Lib-Labs Meet Dick Cheney

Power must be an aphrodisiac. When you have it, seems you can't let go of it. Some, like Papa Cheney, like it raw and colorful; others, more liberal-minded, exercise it with a profusion of bland goodness à la Kerry; but all want to keep it for themselves, for the system is ideally suited to their needs.   More...


Story: A Political Allegory

Henry Pelifian:  Animal Park

Sometimes someone's saunter became displeasurable with a foot fault on pet droppings in Malone Town Park, a recreational area where man attempted to exist harmoniously with his own kind, a difficult proposition in any clime, place or time.   More...


Letters to the Editor


A fitting Independence Day letter, words of praise for Manuel García, followed by John Steppling's review of the past issue, some friendly and ironic comments from France, Ray Charles and the Cobb-LaMarche Greens through the eyes of Michael Yonchenko, and a rarely confused Milo Clark gets corrected. Speaking of the Fourth of July, the powerful words Frederick Douglass delivered on July 5, 1852, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", are worth visiting or revisiting...   More...



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Created: July 10, 2004