Sunday, May 03, 2009

Calling American Swine

A lot of people are panicked by the swine flu (H1N1) that has recently emerged in Mexico and has since spread across the American continent and far beyond. Panicking is a perfectly normal human response to frightening new things, one which we humans share with our relatives the apes and the monkeys. And, just like them, once we are done panicking, we try to find out what it was that had us panicked.

Swine flu seems like a flu like any, spread through coughing and sneezing and (my personal favorite) wet kisses. If you catch it, you will develop a high fever, your joints and muscles will ache, and a day or so into it you might develop a dry cough. In three days or so your fever will subside somewhat, and in a week to ten days you will recover. Unless there are complications.

It just so happens that, for the next couple of weeks, I will be taking the subway between East Boston and Downtown. It's just a short hop through a harbor tunnel, but at the same time it is a commute between Latin America (on the East Boston side) and New England. I hardly ever hear any English on that train. I would bicycle, but the bike ride is circuitous and very long. Perhaps you'd think that I should consider myself directly in the path of this new contagion, but I probably am not. The carriers are probably mostly tourists and other recent travelers, not the local Latinos.

Flu kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, mainly because they are not healthy to start with. All those drunken bums I see lolling around the Financial District next to half-empty bottles of Listerine antiseptic mouthwash look really unhealthy, and will probably die of something sometime soon. I would venture a guess that their cause of death will be noted as something other than terminal halitosis. Swine flu seems like an impressive-sounding thing to put down on a death certificate. The actual cause of death will probably be something like "Despair" but that just doesn't sound scientific enough for us.

One thing that makes this particular panic interesting is that American public officials are stoking the panic by declaring a state of emergency. (Even our brave Vice President, "Amtrak" Joe Biden, apparently forbid his family to ride public transportation.) There is a simple reason behind these quick declarations of emergency: there is quite a financial drought right now, state budgets are being cut and public workers furloughed. By declaring a state of emergency, public officials gain access to emergency funds. So swine flu is just an excuse for them to vacuum up and spend some loose change.

Another thing that's peculiar is that some nations, notably China and Russia, have banned the import of American pork. Many other countries are following their example. The flu is not spread through eating pork, and so banning it is an economic move and a symbolic gesture rather than a medically motivated public safety measure. But the popular appeal of the symbolism is irresistible: here they have a chance to ban American Swine!

American Swine come in three main varieties: the Hog, the Bankster, and the Neocon. The Hog is often a public safety menace, because factory farming practices result in large groups of immunocompromised animals confined in conditions that are perfect for incubating new diseases. These practices should be banned, and banning American pork around the world seems like a step in the right direction.

The Banksters who have crashed the world financial system through their fraudulent activities should be banned around the world as well. In addition, it would be nice if they were rounded up and herded into capitalist reeducation camps, where, thanks to hard physical labor, daily capitalist indoctrination sessions, and compulsory public self-criticism, they would, over the course of months or years, be reformed into model capitalists, ready to rejoin a free market economy. Perhaps our Chinese friends would be nice enough to send over some advisers, to help us set up these camps.

Unlike the Hogs and the Banksters, the Neocons who illegally murdered, imprisoned and tortured countless civilians across the world should be exported — extradited, that is, to stand trial at an international war crimes tribunal. The list is not that long: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales and a few others. All the ones who "were only following orders" are not important enough. The United States government is bound by international treaty to either prosecute or extradite these people. Since prosecution in the US is unlikely to be carried out properly, extradition remains as the only option. President Obama's recent paying of lip service to this being "a nation of laws" is no substitute for action.

Of the three varieties of American Swine, the actual pigs seem like the least troublesome, swine flu notwithstanding. We should certainly do all we can to stay healthy, but in the meantime we should stay focused on doing something about the other two varieties of American Swine.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant! As usual.

Miss Piggy said...

As always, follow the money! There's a big push for more vaccine while the government already has 50 million cases of Tamiflu on hand.

Novavax stock climbs!

It's really just the Swindle Flu.

Anonymous said...

However...Maybe nature lies beyond the imposition of one's ideology. Perhaps a natural event may cull the herd without discriminating between the "right people" and the "wrong people". "Sug, say your prayers." Just in case.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the real pig is a great animal... especially if you feed it right. The other two species depicted in the article are toxic and carry bad diseases. Unfortunately, they have replicated themselves all over the world, courtesy of MBA Swine Academies.

M. Pyre said...

I don't know how a Pig Purge can leave out the donkey-loving Demopigs of the White House, US Congress, and various Cabinet entities. Seems to me that Chief Pig, Barack "Oink Oink Oink Forever!" Obama is no better than the now-retired Puerile Pigs GWBush and Dickie Cheney, just examine his acts since he graduated from law school some 23 years ago... constant fattening at the pigmeal trough!

If we're going to eradicate Porcine Politicos, perhaps the whole of Washington DC should be rounded up and each one required, individually, to justify his/her exemption from Pig status. This may sound drastic, I know. Given that it's my hometown, I would find many friends and relatives from my youth imperiled by such a purge. But I trust that the truly innocent could make a case for exemption, and the not-innocent would suffer as they ought.

I smell bacon everywhere I look in the Federal government. Malefactors and accomplices all!

Diane said...

I am not so sure that those who were "only carrying out orders" are not important enough to prosecute. They may not be the first priority but haven't we been through this before? If not for them the orders would not have been carried out.

Awakened Lone Wolf said...

Outstanding article--someone who actually writes about reality is quite refreshing! Keep up the good work

Scott Supak said...

An Immodest Proposal

After hearing Michael Pollan on Colbert, I stopped eating pork for ethical reasons. He reminded me (I raised pigs when I was growing up on a farm) of how smart pigs are--smarter than dogs, and you wouldn't eat dog, would you?

I've stopped eating octopus for the same reason.

Perhaps I should replace those things in my diet with Banksters and Neo-cons who seem to be not as bright as pigs.

Anonymous said...

M. Pyre:

"I smell bacon everywhere I look in the Federal government. Malefactors and accomplices all!"

So true... the corruption is total. The public is somewhere between depressed and stunned. Many apparently can't believe that Obama is the same as everybody else who has governed this country for a long time.

The evidence is already clear, though. The line is that there will be a "recovery", but you can't return to something that was impossible, that was a fantasy. Hard times right now, terrible times ahead. The language is precious: "stress tests" for banks, as if they were patients... treat everybody like little children, tell them fairy tales. Meanwhile... business as usual.

One thing that's becoming somewhat clearer to the public is who the oligarchy is. The consequences could be serious if we reach the point predicted in the collapse model. The Kunstler joke about the executive defending the honor of his espresso machine may not be so far off the mark.

Anonymous said...

To Scott Supak:

As a Mediterranean, the pig and the octopus are so much a part of my life that I would never give them up. The pig is a tremendous gift, and yes, they are smart. But what's the rationale? To only eat animals that (we think) are dumb? Are cows dumb? Chickens? The dumbness meter sounds to me like an anthropomorphic gambit... much as I respect Mike Pollan.

The ethical thing, if it comes to ethics, is not to harm living things that do not threaten you. What do you eat, then?

Anonymous said...

apocrypha one - black swans preparing to take wing (they make pigs fly, don't they?)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sent a memo to some health care providers noting procedures to be followed if the swine flu outbreak eventually makes quarantines necessary.

DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by, on Monday night. It says: "The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines."

McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans "reasonably believed to be infected" with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely.

Federal quarantine authority is limited to diseases listed in presidential executive orders; President Bush added "novel" forms of influenza with the potential to create pandemics in Executive Order 13375. Anyone violating a quarantine order can be punished by a $250,000 fine and a one-year prison term.

Executive Order 13375 of April 1, 2005

Amendment to Executive Order 13295 Relating to Certain Influenza Viruses and Quarantinable Communicable Diseases

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264(b)), it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Based upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Surgeon General, and for the purpose set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 13295 of April 4, 2003,
section 1 of such order is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

‘‘(c) Influenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic.’’.

Sec. 2. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers,
employees or agents, or any other person.

CDC to mix avian, human flu viruses in pandemic study

Jan 14, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – One of the worst fears of infectious disease experts is that the H5N1 avian influenza virus now circulating in parts of Asia will combine with a human-adapted flu virus to create a deadly new flu virus that could spread around the world.

That could happen, scientists predict, if someone who is already infected with an ordinary flu virus contracts the avian virus at the same time. The avian virus has already caused at least 48 confirmed human illness cases in Asia, of which 35 have been fatal. The virus has shown little ability to spread from person to person, but the fear is that a hybrid could combine the killing power of the avian virus with the transmissibility of human flu viruses.

Now, rather than waiting to see if nature spawns such a hybrid, US scientists are planning to try to breed one themselves—in the name of preparedness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon launch experiments designed to combine the H5N1 virus and human flu viruses and then see how the resulting hybrids affect animals. The goal is to assess the chances that such a "reassortant" virus will emerge and how dangerous it might be.

Anonymous said...

apocrypha two: the ghosts of black swans past

The Great Depression, which Justice Louis Brandeis called “an emergency more serious than war,” prompted a welter of actions by government at all levels. In 1932-45, 25 states enacted a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. Such laws appeared to be unambiguous impairments of the obligation of contract and therefore in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. But when Minnesota’s moratorium law came before the Supreme Court, the majority pronounced this self-declared emergency legislation as a valid exercise of the state’s police powers.

Harkening back to the railroad case of 1917, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes reasoned that “while emergency does not create power, emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power.” The Constitution’s clause protecting contracts, said Hughes, “is not to be read with literal exactness.” The outcome: many thousands of mortgagees were deprived of the rights of foreclosure stipulated in their contracts and compelled to make do with the alternatives provided by emergency statutes.

Also in the depths of the Great Depression the federal government abandoned the gold standard, nationalized the monetary gold stock, and abrogated the gold clauses of all contracts, public and private, past and future. This “act of absolute bad faith” astonished even some members of Congress. Senator Thomas P. Gore declared it “just plain stealing.”

But the Supreme Court held that “if the gold clauses… interfere with the policy of the Congress in the exercise of the [monetary] authority they cannot stand.” The Court argued that “contracts, however express, cannot fetter the constitutional authority of Congress.” The outcome: thousands, perhaps millions, of parties to contracts containing gold clauses, including the many holders of U.S. government bonds stipulating payment in gold, were deprived of property rights, victimized by their own government.


In the war emergency that followed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the government built an awesome command economy, suspending many individual rights. Ten million men were conscripted. The Supreme Court refused even to review challenges to the draft. Some 110,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them U.S. citizens and not one of them proven guilty of a crime, were herded into concentration camps, losing their liberty and sustaining property losses estimated at some $400 million. All quite constitutional, said the justices.

Raw materials and plants were allocated by government order; production facilities, sometimes entire industries, were seized and operated by the government; many consumer goods were rationed. None of these actions elicited so much as a ruling from the Supreme Court. Sweeping price and rent controls did come before the Court, but the cases focused on procedural, not substantive, questions, and even then the Court found no reason to deny the government any of the powers it was exercising at the expense of private rights. Said Justice Wiley Rutledge, one of the least single-mindedly bellicose justices, “Citizens much surrender or forego [sic] exercising rights which in other times could not be impaired.”


In 1981 the Court gave broad construction to the president’s power to act under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, even ruling that the president has constitutional power to act in the absence of statutory authority. The Court’s 1983 ruling against congressional vetoes effectively demolished the check of a concurrent resolution provided in the National Emergencies Act. The Court further eroded the restraints on the president stipulated in the emergency acts when it ruled in 1984 that the executive branch could impose a major new curtailment of private travel to Cuba without even declaring a national emergency or complying with the procedural requirements of the National Emergencies Act.

The outcome: during the past decade, American citizens have been forbidden to travel to various countries, to borrow or buy from or lend or sell to the citizens or governments of various countries, to fulfill the terms of valid contracts, or to pursue in U.S. courts legal remedies for injuries and takings. Far from having their rights to life, liberty, and property upheld by the federal government, Americans have been routinely deprived of such rights under declarations of emergency. ( )

Given the above, the acts described in apocrypha one are not to be dismissed as the mere shuffling of paper.

So much for endless sucker rallies and the perception that TPTB can't think up a plan.

Jerry said...

Now that Obama and Clinton and all of the liberals that are here to save us are continuing all of the Bush crimes against humanity, perhaps they should be on the same extradition plane. Three months is long enough to formulate a policy turn. How many service men have died since January 20, 2009? Funny I haven't heard about any at all. We used to hear a running account every day on the tv.

Anonymous said...

Jerry writes:

"How many service men have died since January 20, 2009? Funny I haven't heard about any at all. We used to hear a running account every day on the tv."

And perhaps more importantly, in wars of aggression like these, how many people have the service men killed? What material damage have they caused? How many lives have they disrupted?

Anonymous said...

A great and chilling article by Alexander Cockburn on the American gulags and shades of Gogol's Dead Souls:

This is not fiction, it's reality.

Anonymous said...

Trumpet of the Swan

It's very high-minded to rue the downtrodden standards of yesterday. However, it borders on idleness and vanity to dwell on the technical niceties of the history of trade in the modern world, in this context. One thing we can take away, I think, is that business and public service don't mix, but, as Henry George said in his critique of socialism, before a man can be a saint, he must first be an honest man.

Honesty is not the panacea here, but at least it helps you rise above the fuffle.

Judith said...

You'd do well to steer clear from the grapefruit seed extract, as it is notoriously a scam, and contaminated with some really harsh chemical antimicrobials that you shouldn't be ingesting.

God Is Red said...

Another category of American swine: those cocky high and mighty folks that found "Russian bashing" somehow a effective way to sell their junk food. I remember a rather offensive Wendy's commercial where they had some Russian women (who looked like a man in drag) come out in her morning, afternoon, and evening dress (they were all the same and looked like they had been sitting in a chest with moth balls for a few years). Then this other Russian man eats a slice of Little Greaser's pizza (Little Ceasars) and then states with utter amazement "tomorrow, maybe I buy car". I thought these commercials with senseless, but how ironic that the Russians (a very tough people) have rebounded while the US and all its blessings are on the rocks. Guess who got the last laugh after all? The fast food advertisers who thought Russian bashing was cute should now make the American swine hall of shame as America plunges head first into third world helldom.

Andy Edwards said...

There's actually a fourth variety that is little spoken of. Wild pigs. These pigs in north America were somehow interbred with a Russian wild boar in the early eighties, I believe and have been taking over the countrysides from ocean to ocean and everywhere in between. Ten years ago these pigs were in as few as 4 states and now they are confirmed in more than 30. They can double their population in six months. They are incredibly fast, strong and vicious when confronted. Some of the largest have grown over 1000 lbs. They destroy vast tracts of useable land and disturb the ecosystems where ever they go.

My sense is that if we enter another dark age and these pigs are allowed to increase in size and ferocity, then the second great wave of storybook fables with employ the image of this creature as a subconscious representation of those original/human swine which will (and should) remain in our histories as the ones who destroyed civilization.

Rumela said...

We should certainly do all we can to stay healthy, but in the meantime we should stay focused on doing something about the other two varieties of American swine. thank you for shearing your post.