Note from the Editor

Latest Bushism: "As your generation takes its place in the world, all of you must make this decision: Will you be a spectator, or a citizen?" This rings of the familiar "you are either with us or against us." Perhaps Bush's commencement speech at Calvin College was a subliminal call to join the armed services! The provision embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act permitting military recruiters on school campuses will help to ensure that students will not miss the boat. Need a high school diploma to join the Navy? They'll get you a fake one. Can't pass the drug test required to fly an Air Force jet? No problem! As the bogus (read desperate) recruiting tactics gain wider attention, more and more parents and school officials are protesting. Professor Gerard Donnelly Smith gives an overview of the present situation, including the possibility for a draft or other national service, in which the wealthy few will always find a loophole.

"There are rich people, who are the thinkers. There are blue-collar people like us, who are the doers. And there are the poor people, who don't do anything but will follow," said National Guard Sgt. Daryell H. Ledford, as quoted in the New York Times. Ledford, who favors a draft, is a dream come true for Bush & Co. He's a veritable lemming who will follow the Great Leader's commands right into the midst of the burning quagmire of torture and humiliation, while the top brass escapes with nary a singed eyelash. That pornography of power exists in all aspects of our commodified culture, leaving us with one of two choices regarding our fate. Read Phil Rockstroh's creatively contemplative and inspiring look at this Age of Carelessness. Dum spiro, spero, Phil. Please keep inspiring us all...

Theatre, too, is suffering in this commodified culture and has taken on a certain... blandness. Three people who would know, from the playwright/director/critic perspective -- Martin Epstein, Charles Marowitz, and John Steppling -- exchange views on the current state of theatre. One suggestion made by Charles is that we need more robust criticism, and he goes on to do just that with regard to our talking-head news anchors in a separate, no-holds-barred article. Philip Greenspan elaborates on how to find accurate news sources amidst the slanted perspectives, and Jan Baughman looks at the spin doctoring of the political transgressions in the news today. The black and white discussions of how to shape Iraq's future take no heed from its past -- the consensus is to stay there till the job is done (read, "till there are no more oil riches to be pilfered") -- but the past will bite the present with a vengeance... Milo Clark reviews Charles Glass's recent article on the history of the geography and peoples of the region, lending insight to the complexities at hand, the damage we have done to entire cultures, and what's in store after the "end of the beginning."

A breath of fresh air in this publishing interval was George Galloway's appearance before the Senate regarding the oil-for-food "scandal." We are posting his testimony and highly recommend that you read it and/or watch the video. We need more Galloways to stand up to the bicephalous powers that be and set the record straight. See the Editor's blips on this matter, the lies that led to the war in Iraq, and more... Finally, Joe Davison's disquieting tale -- and it's not fiction, but everyday reality for many immigrants; and R. M. Rilke's final letter to a young poet. We close as usual with your letters and John Steppling's review.

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


America: Myths and Realities

Gerard Donnelly Smith:  No Child Left Un-recruited

First, let's call unfair, unfair. Military recruiters were not allowed on campus before the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for very good reasons: parental guidance, adolescent immaturity, and the coercive and discriminatory tactics used by military recruiters.   More...


Phil Rockstroh:  Love, Work, And Death In An Age Of Carelessness

Daily life within our culture of Thanatotic corporatism holds us in the thrall and mercy of the banality of mindless power and its concomitant commodification of all things.   More...


Arts & Culture

Martin Epstein, Charles Marowitz & John Steppling:  The Current State Of Theatre
A Conversation at the Swans Café...

Charles, Martin: Many thanks for accepting to join me at the Swans Café for a discussion on theatre. I wanted to begin it by asking both of you how you view the current state of theatre, both in the U.S. and in Europe. I think we probably need to trace this back a ways though, first. The role of theatre historically is a large topic, but it seems relevant to our current situation.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  Chris Matthews, The Interviewer As Mugger

The recent retirement of a batch of dominating TV anchors (Dan Rather, Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, etc.) is a convenient opportunity to consider the personalities of those men and women who regularly confront us at different hours of the day and night to keep us abreast of current events.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Philip Greenspan:  Penetrating The Closed Mind With The Truth

Show several people a painting. Then ask each out of the presence of the others to describe what he has seen. It is improbable that any two will give similar reports; personal predilections will unknowingly slant their explanations.   More...


Jan Baughman:  Spinning Out Of Control: US Transgressions In The News

It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Bush administration, its spin doctors, and its media. First there was the Downing Street Memo of July 2002 published by the Times of London, revealing Bush's intent on attacking Iraq and removing Saddam, even though "the case was thin."   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Milo Clark:  Charles Glass On Mosul

Charles Glass is a scholar devoted to Middle Eastern studies. His trilogy will soon be completed with publication of The Tribes Triumphant. Tribes with Flags came out in 1990 and was followed by Money for Old Rope in 1992.   More...



Rainer Maria Rilke:  Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Ten)

You must know, dear Mr. Kappus, how glad I was to have the lovely letter from you. The news that you give me, real and expressible as it now is again, seems to me good news, and the longer I thought it over, the more I felt that it was very good news indeed.   More...


Activism under the Radar Screen

Joe Davison:  A Case Of Touch And Go

I began to feel nervous as soon as the aircraft began its descent and came in to land. I looked once again at the green visa waiver form I'd been given to complete by the flight attendant somewhere over the Rocky Mountains.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #19

"It often happens that, if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no further occasion for it."
—Swift, The Examiner, 1715

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: from the lies supporting the war in Iraq and the U.S.'s disinterest in them; to George Galloway's slaying of the bicephalous dragon; with a few observations about class privilege and old commies in between.   More...



George Galloway:  Statement

Statement to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the US Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Washington D.C., May 17, 2005

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one -- and neither has anyone on my behalf.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On depleted uranium in Baghdad and 9-11 conspiracies; so-called progress in fuel efficiency; Richard Macintosh's un-American questions; and John Steppling's non-American point of view on all those topics, and more in his review of our last issue.   More...



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Created: May 30, 2005