Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sick Transit

You're the curious sort, Friends, so let us recommend a very brief exercise. Type "so it goes" into your favorite news search engine and learn how many journalists went to a high school requiring neither To Kill a Mockingbird nor Catcher in the Rye.

Please, do it. Really. Take the next step, don't just imagine it, don't just dismissively chuckle at our cheap rhetorical framing device. We can't promise anything, but we suspect that you might learn something about reading skills, or maybe something about the kind of readers who become journalists, or perhaps merely something about the formal / generic requirements required formally by generic journalism.

You might, if you're profoundly unlucky, even learn something about America. We did.

Yes, Friends, Kurt Vonnegut is dead, and in the space of just twenty-four hours he has somehow been rendered into a simpering, demi-toothed humanist who has nothing more to offer us than a deeply rooted, avuncular kindness pervading his shoulder-shrugging fatalism.

Sic transit. "So it goes."

So it goes?

So it jolly well does not fucking go.

Which is hardly news to you, Friends, and we're not making a particularly complicated point. We're not going to drag you through the man's full bibliography, even though we've been working on an elaborate pop-cultural joke, the punchline of which is "Vanilla Ice-Nine."

Trust us, it's hilarious.

No, we're not going to point out the various ways in which It Does Not Go. You have perhaps heard it all before, and we know from experience that you are more literate and better informed than anybody currently standing around the Swill's water cooler. We wouldn't dream of insulting you by inserting the equivalent of a Spoiler Alert in a newspaper review of Hamlet, and we wouldn't dream of giving you plot summary of that which can't adequately be summarized.

But it does not go, it will not go, it will not have gone. Sure, Kurt Vonnegut is "gone" -- but what did you expect after a long life punctuated by the shoveling of corpses like sauerkraut, and reeking like sixty years of Pall Mall straights? Did you expect him to go on The View and start hawking rejuvenating juice-makers, perhaps repent and encourage all of his loyal readers to quit their vices and begin acting like good corporate citizens, wake up both bright and early and healthy as a precursor to being wealthy and wise? Did you imagine he hoped to linger just long enough to see someone elected President who can actually use words like "cluster bombs" and "collateral damage" without choking on their own vomit?

No, our point is a simple one: quoting "So it goes" in a putative eulogy for Kurt Vonnegut is like saying "Better Dead than Red" in a retrospective lament for Ethel Rosenberg. Consider the following from Slaughterhouse-Five:

Only the candles and the soap were of German origin. They had a ghostly, opalescent similarity. The British had no way of knowing it, but the candles and the soap were made from the fat of rendered Jews and Gypsies and fairies and communists, and other enemies of the State.
So it goes.

Now there's a passage you won't see Wolf Blitzer quoting with crocodile nostalgia. Why? Because it doesn't come close to fitting the narrative of the day: "Kurt Vonnegut," we're told, "whose prose so divertingly filled hourlong slots of our youth between Health and U.S. History, was not only a Veteran and a P.O.W. and a novelist too popular for Serious People to take him Seriously. He was finally and fundamentally one of those genuine American voices you've heard so much about, and he was American enough to look atrocity in the eye and let it go, chalk it up to the Way of the World, because he knew that slaughter happened and it always, naturally, ineluctably would."

There's no shame in being served horseshit on a platter, Friends, but we shouldn't be proud of going back for seconds. Enough of the requiescat in pace, consider the man's words and utter a res ipsa loquitur already.

We barely have the energy to follow the various rapings and pillagings that yesterday brought and that today and tomorrow will bring, but we reckon we can muster up one observation: "So it goes" may indeed be the American anthem, but not one that Vonnegut's books actually approve: it is the motto of those who do indeed watch fairies and communists and Arabs and Sudanese and Appalachians bombed, burned, starved and dumbed into oblivion, and who can't be bothered to tear their increasingly fat asses away from the TV and the refrigerator and the carseat and the computer to do anything about it.

"So it goes" is the philosophy of Trafamaldorians, which is to say the philosophy of aliens, which is to say a fundamentally inhuman philosophy. It is the righteous mantra of a country where a beer can randomly tossed on your lawn is cause for violent outrage, but the pumping of billions of tons of poison into our air and water is just one of those things. It is the motto for a world where daycare centers full of armless and legless and eyeless Lebanese (or Afghani, or Iraqi, or Cambodian, or Sudanese) children is nothing more than an unavoidable misfortune upon which to expend our collective tongue-cluckery.

But it was not the philosophy of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, and as an epitaph it approaches gross obscenity.

If it goes, then it goes so because we let it and because we go it ourselves, because even reading and reporting the irony in the words is too much work, too inconvenient for folks as busy as we are. And Vonnegut knew it, and he went knowing it, and he went knowing that every last fucking one of us will follow him much sooner than we expected, and if we keep it up, the sooner we all go the better off the world will be.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

One Song, Two Masters: You Decide

Trust us. You'd rather listen to these than to what we have to say today.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

While Britney Bravely Battled On

Some other shit happened. Don't worry about it, but be sure to floss.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Upon Unaccountable Associations

You know by now that we often have words for and about the dead. We know by now that our interest in precisely which words apply to precisely which dead can strike some of our slower visitors as, well, creepy.

We don't have time to save the slow, but we do hope that you'll go here and read this piece about dead women. We made it to the end and felt simultaneously ashamed to live in this country and glad that there was somebody else around who felt a lot like we do.

And then...

A metonymic chain. Metomotherfuckingnymic. We won't bother you with the logic, friends. We don't have that kind of time, and you don't have that kind of indulgence. Let us just say that we've been struggling with words: how to express just how little we care about the death of Anna Nicole Smith. And that struggle has led us to an unlikely place:

Please feel free to fill in the associations for us.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Meeting Your Needs ad Absurdumb

Friends, the aptly named "Anonymous" made the bracing -- if factually incorrect -- observation that not only are Foucault and Chomsky both "white" and "male," but that the Dutch audience listening to them was as well.

Let nobody say that the Swill judges harshly, friends, or that we refuse to meet the needs of our readers. No Clear Channel sponsorship or corporate centralization here: your Swill comes straight from, well, you know. The point is that if ye ask, ye shall receive, even if your request relies upon a form of identity politics that we find curious. We report, you deride.

Following Anonymous's incisive, implicit logic, we first offer Dinesh D'Souza arguing that American liberals caused 9/11, and that America could really discourage Al Qaeda if we adopted some of the more "traditional" social positions (relating to women, gays, et al.) advocated by Osama bin Laden. (we'd youtube it, but Viacom say no way).

Next, enjoy Michelle Malkin promoting her book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror. Yes, the book is exactly what it sounds like.

Is our point that there is some sort of correlative -- perhaps causal? -- relationship between degenerated public discourse and the appearance of non-white, non-male cultural commentators? Of course not. Such an assertion would be absurd, and flatly contrary to everything for which the Swill stands, has stood, will stand.

UPDATE: Whom did we originally single out as exemplars of degraded public discourse? Stanley Fish, David Brooks, and Thomas Friedman, all of whom are more or less "white" and two of whom have penises. Read before you speak, friends. Jesus christ.

Our point is that you should think before you speak, whoever you are: Chomsky, Malkin, or anonymous. And that we would like to live in a country and time where informed, intelligent discourse -- rather than low-grade xenophobia and militaristic cheerleading -- made it to the airwaves.

Friday, February 02, 2007

History and/or Nostalgia

Friends, we don't have to remind you about our embarrassing tendency toward maudlin recollection. For all of our cynical misanthropy (read: tough-minded, demystified realism), for all of our disgusted disbelief in Golden Ages and Greatest Generations, at times we long for the days that used to be.

These are dangerous feelings. This you know. This we know. Look at moments of deep nostalgia for a glorious past embedded in particularly engaging narratives of authenticity (combined with the willingness to fuck over a lot of people) and you have one big fucking fertilized egg just waiting to birth fascism. Distrust people who say things likes "That's just wrong to play that note there" or "Real art does something different, what you've done is degenerate" or "Wipe the cowshit off of the Madonna before I wipe out your whole family" or declare any particular moment to be the pinnacle of art or science or music or anything else.

If we ever begin a sentence with a reproving "Back then" you may kill us. We demand it!

Nonetheless, friends, perhaps we may select moments from the past, evaluate them as best we can in terms of our past and our present and the future that has always depended upon them, and decide that those moments represent something of value: the sort of value that one finds conspicuously absent from our current lives.

We'll cut to the chase: if we have to see -- however accidentally, however fleetingly -- the simpering mug of Stanley Fucking Fish representing the current state of the Public Intellectual in America, well, we may just hurt ourselves.

Or somebody else.

How did we arrive here? How did we collectively become so intellectually lazy, so idiotically passive, so incompletely or perversely miseducated, that Thomas Friedman and David Brooks and Stanley Fish are allowed to pass as intellectual muscle?

We don't know. We can't say.

But we can tell you that there are moments when we look back to a different time and different place; when public discourse didn't arrive as grotesquely pre-digested commonplaces and demonstrably false assertions, degraded wishes masquerading as indisputable facts. These are the moments when we attempt to re-imagine a present by re-arranging a past, to employ the powers of selective memory to construct what Lewis Mumford once called The Golden Day , fully conscious that there had never been any such day.

Then again, through the process of constructing our own historical narratives -- our own highlight reel of nostalgia and longing and loss -- maybe we can find that day, and if we do it right perhaps we can even avoid the sort of low-grade totalitarian fantasies of TRADITION that animate the Right Wingnuts.

So here. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Letter from a Poet

For the record, Thursday January 25, 8:37 am.

I have a really weird but unshakable feeling my mail is being intercepted & read. Proofs sent to Canadian editor not arriving. I may or may not have written "Death to America" on my correspondence. I probably did. I know I did. (Hey it's not my joke it's from MAD TV (which is on FOX!)).

Anyway, if I'm arrested--which, actually, would be pretty kick ass, and therefore extremely unlikely--do get some Pandemonia from cafepress (before they shut my thing down) & send 'em to Jimmy Carter & Amy Goodman & Bill Moyers... & Farrar Strauss Giroux!

I know this is what you guys would do anyway, but shit, I'd hate to disappear and not have sent this.

Squeezychortle: My first phone call will be to my dad, second one to you.
Swill: I think the business was well concluded. This time.
JT: The real reason I wasn't at that protest was that I really like the war now.

forgive the paranoia or your servant,
(and d.t.a.!)

Thomas H. Crofts
Assistant Professor
Department of English
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Swill Hearts Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

Barney, Laura, und So Weiter

Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.
- Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg trials
UPDATE: Yes, the "Surge" logo comes from a Christian Ministry "Family Night" promotion. Yes, this was intentional. It's intended as a scathing satire against nights.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Captain, There Are Doubts

Oh Friends.

You may be surprised to hear our voice, but you won't be surprised to learn that we were not among the 45 million people who tuned in to Brave Captain's recent description of the "surge." Don't get us wrong: we have a greater-than-average ability to stare fuckwittitude in the face, as well as more-than-halting admiration for bald-faced, shit-house-rat craziness and delusions of every other stripe.

But recently, Friends, the suiciding and the homiciding and the burning and the raping and the murdering and the under-sentencing, well, it's starting to overwhelm even our seemingly infinite capacity for analysis. And the fact that they're not even really putting their heart into justifying it anymore, well....

And if the President is no longer trying to put together something even half-convincing, and if we no longer have the heart to indulge that twitchy corpse-fucker's murderous, demi-retarded soul-shrugging for even a few minutes on the teevee -- do you think we would have the heart to compose anything original?

Nope. You wouldn't. And you'd be right.

So what better time to reminisce about a time when MTV played music rather than beach-vollyball, even if they mis-spelled the band's name. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dialogue of the Increasingly Dead

Can I ask you something?

Yeah, go ahead.

How old are you?


That's pretty old. I didnt know you was that old.

I know. It kind of took me by surprise my own self.

- Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Language Are Hard in Journalist

JT reacts to "analysis" of the "news":

Already, a contender for stupidest statement of 2007. A Washington Post article on the recent use of the word "surge" begins:

It's one of those words -- like 'chad' or 'blog' or 'waterboarding' -- that's suddenly become the go-to phrase to describe a contemporary phenomenon.

Yes: a deliberately deceptive word is just like a proper name, a contraction of a proper name, and an uncontracted proper name that literally describes the action that it names.

I want to scream.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Another Idea We Wish We'd Had

Friday, December 29, 2006

Upon the Notion of Externalities

Welcome to Philadelphia, Friends, where black is the new black, plain is the new attractive, rich is the new smart and it all just seems so goddamn familiar it's like switching back to the right hand.

In short, Welcome to the annual convention of the Modern Language Association.

We know we've been gone for awhile, and we know that you're expecting all sorts of snide observations about the smug mystification of academic "radicals," about literature that is subverting, resisting, third-space-of-critique-opening, all sorts of gerunding in the face of manifest social, sexual, racial, and economic inequalities.

You've come to expect it from us, haven't you? If you wanted an informative piece on the MLA that included wacky paper titles, you'd go to the New York Times. If you wanted to know where to get a first-class cauldron of Belgian-style mussels, you'd look -- well, okay also the New York Times. You come here not to learn, but to remember what you might accidentally have misplaced.

Our admittedly lucrative job, therefore, isn't to report, to deconstruct, or even to entertain. Our job in these moments is to remind you that public universities have demonstrably joined their private counterparts in working as engines of inequality, to remind you that "ad hominem" is a satisfying fallacy, but that -- nevertheless, Friends, never-the-less -- people with pensions and portfolios don't have much interest in changing the way business is conducted.

We further trust that you recognize how openly, strongly, and insistently we include ourselves in all of these indictments.

So why do we come here every year? Not for the job opportunities, we can assure you. For us there are none, or at least none that aren't indexed to the manifest and admirable talents of Those We Keep Close By.

No, we come here every year because sometimes the Swill needs to be reminded of things. We need to be reminded of all the research we could have done but didn't, all the articles we might have written but wouldn't, all the thoughts we might have but won't, the people we might know but don't, the conversations we're having that we wish we weren't. The MLA serves for us as a mnemonic string -- no, make that a tourniquet -- that we tie around our index-finger anually, to remind us of how quickly our life is slipping away, and how we're not ever sure if we want to retard or accelerate the process.

But we're not going to complain, we're not going to indict, we'll neither denounce nor announce this year's convention. Why? Because it's the opportunity cost for living a life of relative ease and comfort, no boss on our back and no real back in our labor, if you know what we mean. On a daily basis, we are able to avoid confronting what our lifestyle in academia truly costs, because we externalize most of it and sublimate the rest.

But this year, we're also reminded of something positive: that we can indulge our own decadent sensualities and support skilled Minnesota craftsmen and craftswomen doing their Unionized best to ease the pain of everyday life. How? With a pair of Red Wing Model 875s, $148 with tax. Lifetime boots, friends, that are simultaneously classic, cutting-edge, cozily familiar and shockingly styslish. As an added bonus, there are no fingernails of Indonesian 12-year-olds to be found stuck in the tongues.

Expensive? Not at all. Red Wing Shoes and Boots are just one of those increasingly rare moments in American consumer capitalism when you are allowed to confront the full cost of your comfort.

We're not sure whether or not you'll hear from us again in this Foulest Year of Our Lard. We don't have the stomach to look back on what we have done, much less on what we did nothing much to prevent in 2006.

But do know that, through all the bile and guile, we will have loved you all.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And Iran, Iran so far away...

In our continuing spirit of generous giving, we offer you -- Dear Friends!!! -- more thoughts from prominent members of the Collective Swill, the very power and rarity of whose words makes them unfit for weekly consumption. In short, we're not sure you're ready to handle them frequently.

This week, we're joined once again by Mickey Bones, an unruly thinker and iron-fisted administrator who has long served as a sort of Shadow Swill. Bones is the kind of writer who knows more dead languages than you do, who knows more about Irving Berlin than you ever will, and who enjoys the protection of more than a few gonnegtions. In short, give a hay-ho swillcome to Mickey Bones, whom we recently approached with questions about the conference in Tehran. The responses are characteristically pithy and cogent.
For those who are interested questions concerning the connection between the Holocaust and the existence of the state of Israel, here’s the answer: there is none. Moral justifications are not sufficiently persuasive to maintain the continued existence of states. Besides internal cohesion (i.e. nationalism), states are made possible by the political function they serve for other states (i.e. realpolitics).

Historically, the geo-political function of Israel has been to help a world power dislodge another world power from its control over the resources of the Middle East.


Balfour Declaration 1917: The British support Palestinian Jewry as part of a strategy to dislodge Ottoman control of the Middle East.

Outcome: Successful. The Ottomans lose their Middle East empire to Great Britain.

UN vote of 1947: The USSR supports a two-state solution as part of a strategy to dislodge British control of its Middle and South Eastern empire.

Outcome: Successful. The British lose most of their empire to the USSR.

Yom Kippur War of 1973: The USA supports Israel as part of a strategy to dislodge Soviet control of the Middle East, specifically over Egypt.

Outcome: Successful. Egypt becomes a client of the US, the USSR loses its Middle East Empire to the US.

The irony of this strategy is that once successfully executed, Israel the ally becomes a liability to the colonizing force, since local populations do not tolerate the existence of Jewish state power. It has usually taken a period of two or three decades before the former allies become outright enemies. The US and Israel are in that transitional period right now.

Probable future:

(1) Israel and America will part ways.

(2) Israel will find new allies that wish to dislodge American control over the resources of the Middle East.

(3) America will lose control over the resources of the Middle East.

If the Holocaust had any role in creating the State of Israel, it was to remind Jews of the obvious: power and political function are the only justifications that matter.

- mb

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ballad of Deading Gaol

Dear Swill:

The passing of Pinochet, with all its alliterative charm, puts me in a bind. As usual, I rejoice when a public figure I detest dies--it's nice, nice to outlive the assholes who make the world such a grim place for so many. Even the glum thought that there's an eternally- replenished source of venal scum doesn't quite dim this bit of Schadenfreude.

Parties were thrown at Phredward's when Francisco Franco finally kicked the tube, when Reagan joined his ancestors, when the grotesque John Paul II finally went to greet Peter at the pearlies, when Jean Kirkpatrick, that totalitarian prune, allowed her small heart to burst one night, when Hassan II of Morocco, against whom my family nurses a very particular animosity, one of my relatives having spent seventeen years in Hassan's jails, alternatingly suffering torture and isolation, shuffled off his mortal coil.

Yes, good deaths, all of them.

But among these good deaths that have come, limpingly, to evil men and women, Pinochet's provokes some of the most mixed feelings. Not because yours truly joins the flocks of Chilean bourgeois fools and US neocons-in-the-totalitarian-vs-authoritarian-mold, à la Kirkpatrick--of course not. Because the more-or-less peaceful death at the fine age of 91 of a particularly disgusting criminal so ripely proves that justice doesn't come when called (or even when summoned by drop-dead gorgeous Spanish judges like Baltasar Garzón), and because this confirms one's own views, viz., that justice, being nothing in particular, never comes on time, if at all.

I am gladdened, horribly, in this way: the worse the perpetrator, the more awful the crimes, and the less he or she is punished, the clearer the thrown circumstances of folks become--the clearer it is that no gods, justice or even Baltasar Garzón, however loudly or persuasively addressed, will show up to toot the final trump. I have an obscure sense that Primo Levi, and Paul Celan, and Jean Améry bumped into this sense, maybe once too often, in the years after they left the camps, after Nuremberg.

In any event--here's a sentence I address not to justice, who won't show and might not be welcome at my party if she did, but to another no-show whom I prize as highly--the thousands that Pinochet had tortured and killed, the disappeared, the lost: compañeros, the pig is dead, and you are not forgotten.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why Didn't We Think of That?

Good God, it's been too long. Our blood is fairly boiling, but since we've been silent for a few days and we're enjoying ourselves we thought we would give you first peek at what may well be the most innovative, intriguing, pragmatic, law-abiding, and downright invigorating political-social idea of the last eight years.

Of course we didn't think of it ourselves. No, Friends, give a big hearty Swillcome to our new Assistant Senior Managing and Features Assistant, JT.

Believe it or not, just a few short weeks ago, JT was slaving away down in the mailroom, fighting off advances from some particularly randy recent Princeton grads (aside: if you want to keep journalism semi-profitable, hire folks whose parents can afford to support them for a year or two while you pay them slave wages or, better yet, they "intern" for free. It's pretty much standard practice in the business, and has the added bonus of keeping executive washrooms and editorial columns free from society's, ahem sturdier elements).

Hell, we understand. We try to avoid the mailroom ourselves. But when you have to go, friends, you have to go, and while looking for our keys on the way to the parking garage, we were unexpectedly seized by what felt like a thousand starfish running straight down our colon, and we had no choice but to dash into the unisex shitter that is usually reserved for all of the good men and women who work Downstairs.

Whilst spraying figurative mud on the back of the literal bowl, we found ourselves moaning the mantra that has comforted us for many moons and through many dark hours: "Impeach," we lowed, "Dear Christ it's tearing the ass right out of us I-M-P-E-A-C-H."

Now, you know we're not used to being contradicted. But on the perhaps mystically important third growl of "IMPEACH," a voice pointedly emerged from the stall next to us. What follows is what we heard, and, well, the rest is herstory:

"Fuck impeachment" the voice said. "I've got a new strategy: deport him."

Depor? Wha?

"Look, dick," the voice growled, "Houston Chronicle reports that Immigration Services is test-driving a new citizenship exam, featuring questions that emphasize not factual knowledge but the applicant's understanding of 'the meaning behind some of America's fundamental institutions.' So, for example, rather than being asked 'What was the Emancipation Proclamation,' as the exam does now, one might be asked 'What were some of the causes of the Civil War?' But then we get this... [here the voice paused briefly, we heard the sound of newspaper pages rustling, throat-clearing commenced, and the following was read aloud]:

Another possible question would delve into the
nation's system of checks and balances.

Currently, immigrants are asked "What are the
three branches or parts of government?" The
answer: executive, legislative and judicial.

But a draft test question asks: "Why do we have
three branches of government?"

An acceptable answer might be, so that no
branch is too powerful. . . . Or another
acceptable response might be, to separate
the power of government. . . ."

[What came next -- shoutingly, insistingly, righteously -- blew not only our mind, but the remainder of our pancreas straight through a starfish-shaped emergency exit, if you catch our drift. sorry. - ed.]


Genius will out, friends. And that's how you rise in the ranks of journalism, Swill-style.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Assorted Notes on Killing (Part VII)

We are both nearsighted and cagey, Friends, and we therefore refuse to speculate as to whether the future does or does not last forever. We can and will wholeheartedly confirm, however, that our post-election giddiness lasted but a few short days. Our liver and our door-knocking knuckles yet throbbed with painful satisfaction when we realized that mere personnel shifts aren't going to winch us from our national and global nightmare anytime soon.

What, you don't live in a national nightmare?

Lucky fucking you. Just wait. We don't know when it'll hit you.

What we and all longtime readers of the Swill do know, however, is that we are smack dab in that time of year when complicated minds turn to uncomplicated facts: that urine smells; that it's not darkest just before dawn but coldest; that meat doesn't grow on trees; that a bullet through the lungs produces a sort of luminous frothy spray; that arteries bleed brightly; that dark heavy drops disappearing in 100 yards mean muscle (and, in circles we inhabit, secondarily mean that somebody fucked up).

In short, Friends, the killing time is upon us. Time to put away the long knives, because short knives are more efficient (and don't threaten to perforate one's colon if one happens to sit upon them for too long). Time to rub oil over the leather pouch your mother brought you back from vacation when you were eleven, and time to rub your grandfather's "Old Timer" knife over a white stone with just a few drops of oil; time to wish you had listened a little more closely when your grandfather was trying to give you what is turning out to be -- however briefly -- truly useful information. Time to prepare yourself for truly understanding the cycles of life, for freezing your ass off, for communing with the great outdoors, for connecting with family, for acknowledging History and Nature.

In short, it's time to invoke a number of romantic categories in order to justify obtaining meat from the wilderness rather than from the grocery store or the bistro. Experience tells the Swill that if enough of these categories are invoked -- and if the language is gauzy enough and one appeals frequently enough to Tradition -- one might just barely escape being branded a mouth-breathing redneck (or worse, a Communitarian).

This is only part VII in what promises to be at least an VIII-part series, Friends, and it's going to be an early morning as we make the great treck north, seeking neither fame nor fortune but merely a plate full of dinner without Safeway's moniker tattooed upon the main course. We have a bottle of Hoppe's #9 that is calling our name, an assload of wool socks to pack, and some quiet thoughts to entertain.

But we promise to get back to you in just a few days with Conclusions We Have Drawn.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Our Influence Spreads

Sweet sweet SusanG over at dailykos has (perhaps unwittingly) adopted our "Inhabit the Frame" strategy, which -- in terms of our tactical acumen and political-theoretical savvy -- pretty much makes us the Ken Mehlman of this week.

Without, of course, all the crushing defeat and self-loathing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Now This

Is how you start restoring a sense of justice -- if not justice itself -- to a democracy.

Yes, Friends, Democracy Now -- the exception to the rulers -- has reported that "The president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, is heading to Germany today to file a new case charging outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes for authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay." Read more.

UPDATE: Well, as long as we're charging people with war crimes...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Hangover

We're not speaking metaphorically, Friends, but rather with a resolute attention to literality that is appropriate when one is counting votes.

Yes, after many hours of worrying, calling, walking, shilling and shrilling, we took a few hours last night to get so drunk we could hardly see. Then, realizing that a half-finished job is a job poorly done, we got so drunk we couldn't see at all. At $1.50 per pint of the allegorically and patriotically appropriate Pabst Blue Ribbon, we exchanged our canvassing clipboard for a $20-bill and went to work with a resolute vengeance. Shouted "Fuck You" at big-screen televised images of Joe Lieberman. Bummed and smoked a Camel straight for old times' sake.

Yes, Dear Friends, we put the "ass" back into "assiduous."

Is this perhaps why we are incapable of doing anything today besides staring demi-blankly at the computer screen and hitting the "refresh" button every fifteen seconds? Is this why we can't shake this feeling that seems to comprise equal parts glee and unnamable dread? Could filling our belly with two gallons of Pabst Blue Ribbon be the only reason why we're only able to muster half of a fist-pump this afternoon?

There is, after all, much for which to be thankful. As Glenn Greenwald writes:
All of the hurdles and problems that are unquestionably present and serious — a dysfunctional and corrupt national media, apathy on the part of Americans, the potent use of propaganda by the Bush administration, voter suppression and election fraud tactics, gerrymandering and fundraising games — can all be overcome. They just were.
Indubitibly cause for a celebration, and we're not ones to fuck with a well-earned day of rest and Schadenfreude.

Over the next few days, however, we suspect we'll need to get to the bottom of the dread, or at least gesture to skimming the scum from the top of the pond. When we do, we'll be sure to fill you in on the complicated matter of Why You Should Be Happy But Not That Fucking Happy. Until then, let us put away our long knives, pet the cats, read a book, and sip some tea. For weeks, it has seemed inappropriate to speak of anything but the election; today, it seems inappropriate to speak of it too clearly.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's Not Too Late

Everyone Agrees

We are often approached by conservative (sic) friends, who say "Swill, how can I vote against my party, my President, my dreams, my hopes, my fears, my family. I'm a conservative, after all, not only in terms of my registration, but in terms of my identity."

Here's one for you, kids, from that liberal rag-sheet The American Conservative (a publication with which we have our -- ahem -- issues, but which is reliably to the left of the New Republic about 75% of the time).

Go ahead and read it. Yes, it turns out that even Conservatives (sic) agree: the GOP is a sickness, and it's the duty of every Conservative to vote against them on Tuesday.

Enough already.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Virtues of Complainte

At this late date, friends, it should come as no surprise that we advocate objections, complaints, outrage, irritation, agitation, and general gadfly-by-nightery. We believe that calls for collegiality and comity are generally little more than thinly veiled attempts to quell dissent and stifle the sort of genuinely agonistic discourse that once -- perhaps in a mythical long ago -- looked like democracy, unfettered inquiry, etc. If we were more Continentally piquant in our thinking, we might even proclaim that consensus is little more than the carnival masque of hegemony, the pleasant soundtrack that enables the deepest of grotesqueries.

You'll further note that the Swill has historically displayed very little patience for firm distinctions between speech and action, between "writing" and "doing something."

Today, friends, we're going to ask a little something different of you, and it's a not inconsiderable request: Put Up or Shut the Fuck Up.

Don't want to live in a gay-baiting, incompetently militaristic, Intelligently Designed, imperial theocracy? Don't want all the downsides of fascism without the compensatory consolation of an efficient railway? Not entirely convinced that mercury is the nicest spice in your fish soup? Think that women should be able to make the choice about when and under what conditions they're going to reproduce?

Well, do something besides complain. The $100 that you sent is fine and necessary -- Thanks! -- but we don't have time right now to lecture you on direct action, fungibility and monetary theory and shit.

Call your local candidate's campaign office. The fact is that you can do something useful -- even if it's only sit in the warm comfort of your own living room and make a few phone calls. Hell, you can even make a few phone calls from somebody else's living room: just go HERE to sign up.

If you like your current representation, and your particular congressional representative isn't running for re-electation right now, or if your particular congressional representative or governor or whomever is in no danger of losing his or her seat, you might think about the fact that your representative doesn't run the whole fucking show. Are you too busy? Are you too tired? Does it seem like a hassle? Are you nervous about calling strangers, or having doors shut in your face?

Boo fucking hoo. Shut the fuck up. We're hardly asking you to storm the Bastille.

You get the point, and we've already written too much for too few people. We're off to spend the next few days in a major metropolitan area, knocking on doors and convincing people to get off their asses and vote for the people we want to represent us.

"Why" you ask?

Well, not because we think we can have a noticable effect. Not because our messiah complex would ever find an outlet in something so quotidian as working in an election. Certainly not because we would lay claim to the baddassery of that guy whose portrait appears above.

No, it's because we would be ashamed to complain if we had spent this weekend taking care of chores, catching up on our reading, or watching sports, or grading papers. And we don't want to shut the fuck up.

We'll see you on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Here's another MoveOn way to get involved this weekend, even if you only have 20 minutes to spare.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Apropos of Absolutely Nothing

We find ourselves unaccountably amused by the following headline.

Although perfectly standard German, our mirth probably has something to do with conflicted, condensed, and dispensed nostalgia for the Clinton era.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not Bad

But if we were in charge of this campaign, we might have added something about this (PDF) result of the Iraq invasion and occupation. We suppose that's why we're not in charge of campaigns.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Friends, we've been overwhelmed by the response to our suggestion (found here) that we embrace and infest neoconservative frames and destabilize them from the inside. We ask that you consider this move not as politics stricu sensu (in Lenin's sense of what people do to one another), but rather as a Preface to Politics: this is what Walter Lippmann called it in 1913, while he was still more or less a Wobbly-sympathizing Socialist and before he became a fluffer for Goldwaterites.

More on this later.

For now, you'll recall that our suggestion was to counter the Republican's "Fight them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them on Main Street, U.S.A." frame by pointing out the tacit admission of what we already know to be the case: that neither Republicans nor Democrats really want genuine immigration reform.

Why? For the same reason that Woody Guthrie wrote "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)": Because there's a whole bunch of fields to be worked, meat to be slaughtered, and lawns to be mowed in this great land of ours, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper to employ people who are scared of being arrested, pay taxes but don't collect benefits, and don't strike for human working conditions. And that's as true for embarassing Clinton powerbroker Zoe Baird as it is for deluded psychopath Tom Tancredo. (Full disclosure: We once cleaned the basement of Ms. Baird and her husband, Yale law prof. Paul Gewirtz. They paid us under the table, though the working conditions were OSHA-compatible. Lemonade was served.)

Yes, despite what you may have heard, there is a strong progressive argument for meaningful documentation of workers. For the moment, we will spare you our critique of the progressives, and keep to ourselves the anarchist conviction that it is borders and states themselves that cause the problems. You've had enough for one day.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wish in One Hand, Shit in the Other

"And see which one gets full faster."

This was our grandfather's standard response whenever the word "wish" would unsuspectingly creep into a sentence. Kind of a snotty thing to say to a kid, but he had his reasons for being rather unsympathetic toward juvenile, subjunctive desires: he killed a bear at the age of thirteen to feed an authentically hungry family, enlisted at the age of fourteen (to ease burden on same family), and at sixteen endured what was reportedly the longest sustained depth-charging of a submarine during WWII.

Tell that to your kids the next time they get weepy for a new iPod.

Don't tell it to us, however, as we'd rather have the iPod. Furthermore, unlike him, we don't get mean in the vicinity of gin, and that should count for something, even outside of puritanical circles. Just because you killed a fucking bear doesn't mean you get to be a bastard, and just because you were a member of the putatively greatest generation doesn't mean you were the greatest human.

In any case, he's been dead for twenty years, and so far as we know he won't fuck with our wishes tonight. For no particular reason, and in no particular order, we therefore reckon we'll admit the Top Three Things we wish we were doing right now:

Drinking with Hussey in Edinburgh
Using the maul to get through oak and manzanita
Not being able more or less accurately to predict how the rest of our life is going to unfold

If nostalgia is ever mentioned in our presence, we'll rightly denounce that and deny this. But right now, at this late hour, shitting in either one of our hands seems like a pretty poor substitute for what we're wishing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

He'll Be There All Week

Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

How to Fuck with Republicans (pt. 56)

As you know, Friends, there has been ever-so-much talk about how the Radical Right has successfully "framed' the political discourse in the United States.

Rather than "violating every conception of international law since the Treaty of Westphalia by invading a sovereign nation with no plan what to do next," say "The war on terror has many fronts" or "Liberate the Iraqi people." Rather than admitting your belief that "Rich infants should become rich adults regardless of whether they work hard or have talent," say "Repeal the Death Tax" and "Capital gains taxes weaken America."

Easy and fun, but the consequence of such successful "framing," you'll recall, is that people become total fucking idiots who are incapable of critical analysis.

Our point? Well, we just wanted to remind you why we started this series in the first place. Rather than trying to "re-frame" topics so that they're more amenable to Our Way of Thinking, we ask that you accept the frame, own the frame, and then fuck with the frame in its own terms.

Easy and fun!

This week, we have Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who reminds us that
...defeating al Qaeda [in Iraq] is important, because if we were to pull out before we win, we will embolden every terrorist in every corner of the world, and then instead of fighting them in Iraq, we'll be fighting them on every street in America.
Swill response: "So you admit that you can't secure our borders against illegal immigrants?"

Watch their heads burst with the logic!

Easy and fun, friends, easy and fun. We invite you to join.

Friday, October 27, 2006

This Message Brought to You By Death and Romanticism

Ah, you thought that the treacle-meter at the Swill was already off the chart? Fools. God only knows how low we're capable of sinking.

In any case, to indicate how fucking bored we are with life right now, we took five minutes out of our "work" to post our first video on youtube. Does it depict us manning the barricades, stopping voter fraud, dancing on treadmills or splashing a moneyshot across some highly transgressive target?

Sadly, no.

It does, however, depict leaves falling in our backyard. It's all we've seen for days. In fact, and in all seriousness, the images are secondary to the almost traumatically gorgeous Schumann Lied (based on a Schiller poem), which is sung by the legendary Anne Sofie von Otter: Des Sennen Abschied.

Please, sit back and have a listen. Summer is gone, she sings, and she's really too fucking right.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Land is Our Land

Egotists that we are, we simply assume you're interested in our Weltanschauung. Why else are you here? Since we don't really have a Weltanschauung, you'll have to be content with our literal world view.

Therefore, please enjoy the view from the window, at our home, under which our desk sits. We're not sure whether we enjoy it or not.

Monday, October 16, 2006

George W. Bush Speaks Coherently

Dig the leader of the world use the word "mundane" correctly. We always suspected we'd like him better as a drunk.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

We Should Be Mortified

You know, friends, even we are occasionally misguided. I'm not entirely sure what we were thinking by demi-eulogizing the great Freddy Fender -- who is dead and gone from lung cancer (not one of the most pleasant ways to go; write for more details).

No, if we had any sense of ethical priority, we'd have spent twice as much time eulogizing this guy, Ali Partovi. You don't know Mr. Partovi, and he is still alive, technically. He's been incarcerated and tortured in a private Arizona jail for the past five years.

The charges? Ha ha.

The crime? Ha ha.

None of the above. Please read this story before you leave today, and before you're tempted to say something genuinely misguided about how the death of Freddy Fender -- whom you don't know, whom you've never met -- is "sad."

The Next Teardrop Fell

Yes, Freddy Fender had a pretty good run, and -- as far as we know -- he made it through without starving to death or anybody dropping depleted uranium on his children or raping and torturing him without ever being able to see the charges against him. Yes, his was a real pre-9/11 kind of death.

So let's not have any weepy calls for our thoughts to be with his family, or with him, or any such nonsense. Such gestures are silly at best, and possibly verge on the obscene. Let's just watch and listen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Come on. We simply can't believe it. We know that we haven't seen 655,000 dead people in the New York Times or Parade magazine. No, that seems too high to us. Yes, based on our extensive knowledge of the situation, we think that seems a little high.

Furthermore, upon reviewing the statiticians methodology, we've concluded that one simply can't trust numbers, particularly ones we don't understand, which are admittedly almost all of them.

Now, if the people were Amish and there were fewer than five, well, we might wrap our heads around the issue and worry about the state of civilization and shit. But 655,000? That's what Kant referred to as "too much."

You may now return to your regularly scheduled tongue-clucking. We do.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Support the War Effort

Friends, you're well aware that the Swill welcomes people regardless of political affiliation or ideological position. We're deep into truth here, goddammit, or at least we're into rough mobilizations of truth regimes.

Therefore, you won't be surprised to learn that, although the stated stance of the editorial board is staunchly, critically, and immovably anti-war, we have valued staff members who really do support the effort to make Iraq's system of governance look like Rhode Island's. Who wouldn't want to live in Rhode Island, after all?

So, by way of pouring them half a glass of ice-cold "your opinions matter to us," we bring you this public service announcement. If you have access to an email address with an .edu domain, please click HERE for more information on how to help conservative college students help America. It's fun, it's easy, and your country will thank you.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Upon Being Not Surprised

Maybe if they brought Robert MacNeil back, PBS would be less biased than ABC news?

And you thought the reason we supported community radio and Democracy Now instead of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was because Maura Liasson is a FOX (as in News Corp.) and Amy Goodman is a national treasure, the living definition of why there's a First Amendment and why "Journalist" is an honorific moniker that should be selectively wielded by those who are engaged in the struggle to disseminate vital information about the res publica to the publica: criteria that excludes 90% of the U.S. press corps.

Wait. That's what you thought? Because that's actually true. Sorry.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ramblings Upon the Fucking of Children

That's what the brouhaha is about. A santimonious, repressed, distasteful Republican inviting children to fuck via instant messages, other sanctimonious, repressed Republicans covering for him, one sick and twisted bastard fucking children and then shooting them, and a different sick and twisted bastard just shooting children, but having originally intended to fuck them first.

Jesus Christ, that was our week in America, friends, and it's looking increasingly likely that this is what's going to tumble the most venally incomptent administration of the last 100 years: the figurative fucking of children. Not legalizing torture, not pissing on habeas corpus and repealing the Magna Charta, not exploding the deficit beyond repair, not accelerating the end of life as we know it on earth, not spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fuck up Iraq, not sending cluster bombs over to be dropped on Lebanese day-care centers. Nope. A child (actually kind of a demi-child, since the age of consent in the District of Columbia is actually 16, but we digress).

Why? Well, because -- as our embedding of the Ned Lamont advertisement below will attest -- children are cute, and vulnerable, need adult protection, and the small black ones are sassy and entertaining (Lamont, whom we love, actually looks more like Conrad Bain than Alex Karras). And in just a few short days, the Republicans who somehow had convinced a majority of the voting public that they could protect Der Homeland are revealed as being unable to protect the children in their own office building. As Kos himself -- whose smart, tough work we love and admire -- wrote today:
These people have been in DC too long -- Hastert, Reynolds, Boehner, Shimkus, Lieberman, and anyone that continues trying to defend the inaction of a House Republican leadership that put their own political power above the safety of the House's teenage pages.
Hear, hear. I couldn't agree any more, and I'm willing to go along with just about any narrative that accelerates the supplanting, drawing, quartering, and humiliation of these Republican fuckwits. These are serious times, folks, and after six years it may well be time to have some serious people running the show. These days, Republicans simply aren't serious people. The congenital Republicans whom we know -- and to whom we are related -- are indeed, serious people, and wouldn't vote for Denny Hastert or John Boehner or George Bush with a gun to their head.

But let us be serious, too.

A wide swath of the children living in the District of Columbia are fucked every single day, and neither Denny Hastert nor Bill Clinton nor the George Bushes nor John Kerry has, was, or is going to do a goddamn thing about it. I'm not talking about participants in the Congressional page program, whose parents drop them off at lacrosse practice before making large contributions to politicians who will get them admitted to the program, which turns into college admissions, which turns into, well, lots of things, but sometimes only after they fend off felonious sexual advances (which they can probably get really fast, since they have DSL and stuff).

What, you thought they were admitted to the Congressional page program on the strength of standardized test scores?

No, Dear Reader, we're talking about the children who belong to the 15% of all D.C. residents who receive food stamps, but who don't have a grocery store in their neighborhood; the non-cute, non-sassy black boys who make it past the single worst infant mortality rate in the country, and live in sub-standard housing and attend broken public schools, can look forward to joining the highest per capita prison population in the world. They'll be incarcerated, you see, at a rate 49 times that of their white neighbors.

After recently enjoying the outrage over racist shitwad Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) ill treatment of a University of Virginia student, we even more recently watched The Boys of Baraka. One is a Confederate General from So. California and one a moving documentary portrait of several African-American kids from inner-city Baltimore, who are willing to travel 15,000 miles for a seventh-grade education, and thus attend free boarding school in Kenya for a year. (Spoiler alert: they don't end up at Choate.)

Consequently, we thought about titling this post "The Boys of Macaca," because that would have been a good pun and made us very briefly happy. But we didn't.

Because none of it ends happily. Because Mark Foley will go to a very nice rehab facility and then to a very nice jail, and then will do just fine. The Democrats will or won't take the House back, and will or won't take the Senate back. We're spending time and money and effort to make sure they do just that, but either way Denny Hastert (R-IL) will step down and become a highly paid lobbyist whose kids -- if the twisted goblin fuck ever reproduced -- surely won't attend public schools in the District of Columbia.

Why? Because he's protecting them just fine. There are different kinds of children in the District of Columbia, and some have DSL piped in their bedroom and some have bullets pumped into theirs, and some collect rare stamps and some hope for food stamps, and all of them need protection and they won't get it. The whole world needs to be protected from Mark Foley, and to know this you can look at his voting record rather than his email; this includes Hastert's children and Hillary's children and Al's children, and for now they're probably getting all of the protection they need to be great, happy, well-bred successes in life.

Bet your ass they've been shielded from the sassy black kids who aren't on television.

Learn About Joe Lieberman (I-Amadick)

We hope you enjoyed this spot by Ned Lamont (D-CT). If nothing else, our presentation of it proves that the Swill is kind and humanhearted and can be touched: in a sentimental, figurative, cute way, not in a Dennis-Hastert-has-to-approve-it kind of way.

Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman

Now paste these links into your blog under the link "Joe Lieberman." Why? Because of technology and politics and shit.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Thank you. Thank you very much. Try the veal.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another Prick in the Wall

Friends, The Swill hasn't been lax, hasn't been smirkingly disrespectful of our duties to you, The Reader. No, in fact our silence comes from a place of profound respect: for your delicate sensibilities, your unerring nose for quality, and your admirable lack of patience for Low Standards. We're sad to say that we've had nothing to say that would pass your tests; you've repaid our kindness with your resounding silence.

We are, therefore, pleased as punch to offer some new thoughts from none other than Chirch Van Crash. You remember Chirch -- decorated combat veteran of the 82nd Airborne, heavily laureled semi-professional athlete, homebrewer, and Doctor of Philosophy -- from his thoughts last Veteran's Day, and we're pleased to offer him a forum for his thoughts. - The Swill.

Hellooooooooooooooooo People!

Been a long time since I've had an inkling to say much of anything, at least publicly, about politics and/or the “thieves, thieves and liars...murderers, hypocrites and bastards” (to borrow the timely words of Alien "Al" Jurgenson) that run this world. But yesterday's bullshit breakdown of common sense and fairness demonstrated by the PAC 10 officials in the Sooner v. Duck game has driven me from that comfortable place called College Football Fandom back into the real world.

And what a fucking horrible place it is.

Moving from to NYT/ CNN/ FOX/ has left me depressed, maniacal and hating god, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed more than ever. (Please feel free to include any other cock-sucking deity you prefer. They all suck cock [cf. Deadwood – The Management.]. I ask, though, that you NOT include any of the Egyptian, Greek, or Roman studs who endorse[d] excessive drinking and carousing. Ass fucking, too, but more on that later.)

The specific piece of shite that's attracted my attention this week is the way we, the U.S.A., have decided that the best way to demonstrate our success in Iraq – Baghdad in particular – is to build a wall around it. “Look into my eyes, oh you patriots of America, and repeat after me. ‘Walls are a goooood thing. Walls keep baaaaaad people out so people on the inside can live in freeeeedom. Freeeeedom. Freeeeedom.’” I mean, what the fuck and why not? The Chinese built one and look how free they are. Kept out those horrible Mongols so today's folks get to kick it in Tiananmen Square. The Jews threw one up around Warsaw to keep out Nazis, right? How happy, free and safe they lived. Oh yeah, nothing says freedom like death from cholera and starvation.

The Soviets had the metaphorical Iron Curtain and look how sweet it was for the Hungarians, Poles, East Germans, etc. Oh, wait. The East Germans had one of their own. What about North Korea? Another awesome place where people live in freedom, enjoying lives of excess and luxury. I guess we can call the 38th parallel a “wall,” don't ya think? They might even have a, holy shit, BOMB! Now THAT is freedom. What about the smart muthafuckers in Mordor? How fucking awesome was it that the Orcs and whatever/whoever the fuck else lived there figured out the best way to keep those pesky Elves and Hobbits from preventing its residents living in peace, freedom and prosperity was to build a bad-ass walled citadel to ensure those nasty fuckers would be kept in their place.

And don't forget (Oh yeah!) that we're on the verge of building OUR OWN WALL down south Mexico way. Fuck'n A! Nothing says "FREEEEEEEEEDOM" like an electric fence and a shoot-on-sight, shoot-to-kill policy. Well, Maybe Mel Gibson, but he's on the outs these days. Man, I really wish I lived in Gaza or the West Bank. Those entrepreneurial Palestinians have it right with THEIR wall. Maybe they'd let Braveheart time share in Ramallah? I'm pretty sure he “gets” it. Oh how lucky the two Israeli soldiers in Gaza are to be on the inside. What are the odds? It's like they won the Freedom Lottery!

You know, though, the best way to look at this is through the long term. After all, Disneyland, has a wall. Build the Baghdad Wall, hire some of those Freedom Lovers from Sadr City to work the entries, and charge everyone admission! Do you suppose it would cost more to get in or to get out? Fuck it. Charge a fortune regardless since we'll have to pay the gatekeepers. Hell, once the Wall's up they'll have to PAY to live in freedom, right?

“Oh, what's that Jamal? You have children you can't feed because you have to pay rent and you're not making enough working the gate? Well, it just so happens we need a few more kiddies for the Ramadan fireworks show this weekend. Have them put on these vests and show up outside the Mosque at 8PM, Friday. Press the button at 8:30 SHARP. They can wear these funny mouse-ear hats, too. But we want them back after the show.” Mmmmmmmm-- hmmmmmmm!

Did Jacko have a wall around Neverland? He sold it, right? I think he's now enjoying the freedoms of the Middle East, Motown style. Maybe MJ and John Mark Karr could hook up for some fun with freedom luv'n Macauley Culkin? Word is he doesn't have a whole lot going on these days. Then again, there is that age thing. If I were a bettin' man I'd put my money on the likelihood that Jackson and Karr prefer their friends’ hint-of-stink to be more akin to pee than man sweat. Unless, of course, he's been hittin’ the cabbage in OKC, spending the night in freedom behind the wall of the Oklahoma City jail. I've seen freedom from that side. It totally smells like piss.

Well, I guess that's it for today. Back to reality. I plan on building a wall made entirely of Red Delicious cans around my television. That'll leave me in the enviable position of being free to watch the NFL, free from interference by my roommate, AND it'll demonstrate my commitment to the environment: I'll be recycling! And tonight? With all the good karma I'll be getting by living free and being “Green,” I'm gonna find me a peace-loving hippie and ass fuck her until her brains spill out her ears and shit comes out her nose! Behind MY wall, of course.

Hope she doesn't have one. If I burn it down I'll have to fuck a corpse. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... Crunchy on the outside, mushy on the inside: Baghdad Double Stuff; a desired commodity of freedom lovers everywhere.

Chirch van Crash

Monday, August 21, 2006

For Our Delectation

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Youngstown, Motherfuckers

And we're not talking about Boom-Boom Mancini, we're talking about Justice Hugo Black's opinion that is cited repeatedly and trenchantly in This Right Here. It's a pretty good read, actually, so take a few moments, absorb a few good lines, and be the single most impressive motherfucker around the watercooler tomorrow.

By the way, if you see the woman to your right on the street - the author of the above document - shake her hand and thank her for being down with that whole democracy thing.

ADDENDUM: Okay, so perhaps we're not celebrating yet, which I would not have known without Correntewire. Nuts.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Real Red Alert

Take two minutes, head over to Crooks and Liars and watch this, then email it to your idiot uncle who insists on spewing dumbasseries like "cut and run." It's a very brief monologue, surprising to none of you (we hope and trust it's unsurprising, sweet informed reader) about the implications of the very first Homeland Security Red Alert.

You're young and full of life, friends, but we were born and barely bred in the Cold War. Though this places us one grandpapa step closer to our eventual doom, we nonetheless easily distinguish between fake-ass, fear mongering red alerts like those dropped this weekend by Michael Chertoff, and the quite authentic Red Alerts such as you'll find below.

Enjoy. And next time you head to the public sphere, ask yourself which Red Alert you prefer: the one presided over by Richard Perle, or the one featuring Slick Rick.

In Need of a Name

Your most recent experience of metacognition -- that is, a moment when you sense or feel that you know something without being able to recall precisely what it is that you know -- was probably an instance of what psycholinguists refer to as the "tip-of-tongue" phenomenon. Right now, for example, we're pretty sure that we know a more elegant, single word denoting the "tip-of-tongue phenomenon," but it's right on the tip of our fucking tongue and we can't recall it. Nonetheless, somewhere and somehow deep in our brain, we know that we know this.

What we're pretty sure we don't know is a word to describe a similar state of metacognition, wherein we are unable to produce not a single word, but rather an idea. "Tip-of-the-hypothalamus" doesn't really roll off the tongue, "conceptual retardation" is inelegant and and "stupidity" seems imprecise.

Whatever the phrase, there are several bits of informational flotsam that have been bouncing around our head for the past several days, which we know are connected. Sadly, the precise form and significance of the connection eludes us, so for a moment we'll get all Walter Benjaminian on your asses and let you figure it out for your own damn selves.

Novelist Günter Grass admits he served in the Nazi SS during WWII. Some folks suggest that he return his Nobel Prize, or at least his honorary citizenship in the Polish city of Gdansk (see Here and Hier).

Factors to consider: Grass was a teenager, and it's not as if he carpet-bombed Cambodia or became Pope. Still, you know, he might have mentioned it.

The New York Times admits that it publicly mischaracterized (euphemism alert) the length of time that the paper sat on the NSA Wiretap story. Said mischaracterization prevented readers from knowing that the story was purposely withheld so as not to affect the 2004 presidential election (see Here).

Factors to consider: Just when you have reason to consider lifting your boycott of the Grimalkin, you're unsurprised to learn that yet another Times semi-culpa comes -- in the words of Günter Grass' biographer -- "a little bit late."


A poll conducted by "the world's most visited Christian Website" concludes that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography. 60% of Christian women reported "problems with lust" (by which we infer that the other 40% found that being married to a Christian took the desire right out of them).

Factors to consider: They're the kind of Christians who define "addiction" as "regular use," so you can imagine the rigor of their statistical analysis. Respondents might well believe that the Academy-Award winning film adaptation of The Tin Drum actually is pornography.

A report in the American Journal of Public Health concludes that "Adolescents who initiate sexual activity are likely to recant virginity pledges, whereas those who take pledges are likely to recant their sexual histories. Thus, evaluations of sexual abstinence programs are vulnerable to unreliable data. In addition, virginity pledgers may incorrectly assess the sexually transmitted disease risks associated with their prepledge sexual behavior."

Factors to consider: The White House's budget for the 2007 fiscal year includes $204 million dollars for abstinence-only education. The Society for Adolescent Medicine has shown that abstinence-only education is not only ineffective, but counterproductive to its own stated goals. We once had sex in the small chapel of a small college, and it was really awesome (we're not sure how this affects the conceptual work, we don't believe in suppressing events from our past, and also we just like telling people about it).

That's all we have right now, friends. Consider these tidbits not merely as a group, but as a constellation -- a cluster, if you will -- and report any of your speculations directly. We need to know what to call these developments, even if the name we give won't be used by anybody else.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

International Relations

NOTE: If you believe that our new habit of embedding video in our posts is 1) the giddy overindulgence of schoolkids who just learned a new game and 2) a blatant rip-off of Crooks and Liars, you're right on both counts. Good for you.

Friends, we have been simply overwhelmed by the response to our demi-triumphant-semi-return. The mail has been pouring in, and a few people have actually refrained from death threats. Nonetheless, many recent correspondents have echoed an historically common complaint about The Swill: that we're too serious, that we need to "lighten up," that we of bring "everybody down" with our constant harping about depleted uranium, dropping bombs upon babies, et cetera.

Well, we hear your cries and, like Hillary Clinton noting the election results in Connecticut and starting to sound just a little bit like a Democrat, we respond with something positive.

How about saying something positive about treaties? The Bush Administration is positively trying to rewrite the Geneva Conventions and insulate themselves from being rightly prosecuted for War Crimes!

We're not exactly sure how we feel about domestic or international agreements -- we're just average Americans, after all -- but we do know that seminal 1980's hip-hop MC Special Ed once remarked that he had a "treaty with Tahiti," based upon the fact that he "owned a percent."

Loving America First, we don't get out much, so we don't actually know how to assess Tahiti's obligations to the Geneva Conventions. For the moment, we'll assume that as a pays-d'outre-mer of France (signatory of the GC), all of French Polynesia is therefore obligated to honor international prohibitions against torture, degrading and humiliating treatment, etc. We also strongly believe that Special Ed himself is a strong defender of these values.

Therefore, on the positive tip, Watch and Learn.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

World Class Scottish Swill

Swillians Quake More Earth

Yes, friends, it wasn't so very long ago that the Swill called forth to its legions with a request to send money to Ned Lamont. You caused, and he effected.

Nota Bene: Ned doesn't really need your money in a large sense, as he's a fourth-generation Harvard grad and all that, but he needed it in a tactical sense, in the sense that money is imagined to "talk." When Lamont takes his seat in the Senate, we will return to our regularly scheduled denunciation of inherited wealth, the class system, and the broader imperative to storm his estate wielding torches and force his attractive children to work for a living, gain seats at universities through something resembling a meritocracy, etc.

Yes, we denounced Lieberman, we endorsed Ned, and once again our Word was made Flesh. Kind of.

Recall last February, when our Food and Style editor opined:
Senator Joseph Lieberman is a cheap shill for the corporate elite, a low-rent bullyboy who plays upon the worst instincts of fear and jingoism, and should be called a "public representative" only in the broadest, loosest, most degraded sense of the words "public" and "representative."
And what ho! The demos -- note the "o" in there -- kicked Holy Joe in the nutmegs and Lamont served his ass to him on a plate. As a diarist over at that other really popular blog trenchantly remarks:

In one corner, you had a bunch of unpaid volunteers, Internet rabble-rousers, and an inexperienced politician whose highest post had been County Selectman.

In the other, you had the three-time Senator, former vice-presidential candidate, visible party statesman, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, the other popular CT senator Dodd, most of Organized Labor, the women's groups and the environmental groups, most of traditional Democratic party support, paid lobbyist support, paid armies of GOTV staff, the slick ad money, the top DLC consultants, and a 3 to 1 budget gap.

I'm sorry. That's not David vs. Goliath. This isn't even the NBA champions versus a rec league team. That's more like an ant vs. my shoe.

Thanks for the memories. We were so exhilerated as we followed the returns coming in that we momentarily switched over to full-flavor Miller High Life (on doctor's orders, we've been drinking the Light stuff, but more about this later).

Yes, Joe, we will have to suffer your smarmy rictus and indulge your nauseous pablumous claptrap for about fifteen more days, at which point Hillary and Chuck and Russ -- and perhaps your own incompetent campaign staff? -- will convince you to honor the primary process, and you'll tearfully bid farewell.

Now, on the downside, you'll no longer be able to enjoy the delicious navy bean soup in the Senate cafeteria on a daily basis. On the upside, however, you'll be free to continue your eighteen years of lobbying for the insurance, financial services, and pharmaceutical industries, but without having to write tiresome letters of recommendation for applicants to the military service academies.

Fare thee well, Joe, and Fuck You Very Much.