Monday, December 31, 2007


This is a very nice example of what was being produced during the Cultural Revolution. The title of the poster is 'Field Training Will Make Our Red Heart Follow Chairman Mao Forever'.

This poster combines the Chinese military and adds a nice touch with the solider holding Chairman Mao's Quotations. The strong colors have remained bold and once framed this will be an even more stunning piece of history.

The poster measures 76.5cm (30 inches) x 53cm (21 inches) printed in Xi'an, Shaanxi province in 1971. As can be seen, there is some creasing on the very left side of the poster and a couple minor tears at the very edge.

Price: US $150

Item location: Beijing, China

Postage by air & Insurance worldwide: $10


So. What happened to Teh R3volooshn? You know, we were gonna march in the streets with our giant puppets and eco-globes, and we were gonna fill Washington with a million pissed off people, and were were gonna levitate the Pentagon... oh, sorry, that was back in the Old Days; never mind... and we weren't gonna wear patchouli, we were gonna have on suits and ties, (Oops, never mind, Old Days again) and we were gonna shut this fucker down. STRIKE!!!!

Just last September, too.

And what happened? I'll tell you what happened. Nothing happened, that's what happened. The marches and protest demonstrations were largely a bust. The STRIKE!!! attracted perhaps five people in Manhattan. Ten at most in the rest of the country. Most of the Giant Puppets never even made it out of storage.

And there was the MoveOn Ad shit.

MoveOn had a perfectly fine ad in the New York Times questioning General St. David Petraeus's math and therefore his credibility on the issue of "progress" in Iraq.

The Horror!

The entire Beltway Palace Government/Media population took to its fainting couch simultaneously while their thugs went to work demanding MoveOn be denounced and condemned for daring to question the Patriotism of General St. David Petraeus!!

And sure enough, within hours, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, ostensibly under Democratic leadership, passed resolutions condemning MoveOn for raising questions and being rude and continuing to behave like Dirty Fucking Hippies. And Oh, My Goodness, We Just Can't Have This!

There's either not going to be a Revolution at all or there must be one.

To say that the air went out of the Moratorium Movement is an understatement. This kick in the teeth was not just for MoveOn; Our Vaunted Democratic Leaders were basically on the warpath against all opposition to the Government, a Government to which they considered themselves fiercely loyal, even if it was headed by Their Eminences Bush and Cheney.

Congress in essence divorced itself from We, The People. They made clear they are not operating to serve The People; they serve The Government, one that they have in part created, but have since ceded to a cohort of conniving crooks and bloodthirsty corporatists.... Oh. 

And We, The People, are welcome to sit down and shut up about it. Now.

I think what happened in September came as such a surprise and such a complete shock to so many people who had spent the summer -- and for some, a lot longer -- organizing resistance to the regime and its bloodsoaked ways. We were not prepared for such outright cave-age to the White House on the one hand, and for such outrageous denunciation of reasoned questioning and opposition to Bush and his minions and their wars on the other.

And so the Iraq Surge was celebrated far and wide; the General was proclaimed a Saint by all and sundry; and Dame David Broder's great claim that approvals for Bush would rise from the depths was validated. USA! USA! USA!

The Dirty Fucking Hippies were bested by their Betters!

Democrats are busy even now trying to eliminate Iraq from the election discussion to focus attention where the Party Hacks always thought it should be, on Domestic Issues. Republicans, of course, are just as happy to have Iraq off the election radar screens, and when the Pakistan mess reared its ugly head, it was all the political class could do to tamp down public "concern." Now that the Boy Bhutto has been elevated to Party Chairman, a post he will assume once he finishes his studies at Oxford, the Pakistani People can just settle right down. And our Democrats can get back to thumping their chests about the Minimum Wage.

No. The Revolution will not come of its own.

As things stand, the Fascists are the only ones conducting anything even resembling one.


Having Year-End Desktop Computer Monitor Issues today, and also have to get some medical treatment for an Elderly Relative, so may not be able to post till evening or tomorrow ....

At the least, please accept my New Year's Greetings and Felicitations.

According to all reports, 2008 has got to be Better!


RM1X Performs U2 New Years Day Ambidextrous Movie - The funniest home videos are here

Sunday, December 30, 2007


In which Ché Pasa revises and extends his remarks

Digby has a provoctative rant up at her place that Glenn Greenwald is riffing on at his place. I, being a terminal cynic at times, made gentle mock of Glenn's post describing the widely approved lawlessness of our current Bushevik rulers, comme ça:

Re: Decay, Rot, Decadence, Disintegration, Downfall, Putrefaction

Glenn offers up a pretty good description of the lawless autocracy of Czarist Russia -- without Faberge and Tchaikovsky.

And in this version of a declining Palace Culture the roles of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky will be played by Norman Podhoretz, Rudy Giuliani, and William Kristol.

We're doomed.
-- Ché Pasa

Some readers mistook the intent of my coda "we're doomed." In blogspeak, "we're doomed" is generally a satiric comment, not something meant to be taken seriously.

Whether or not we ARE doomed is another question altogether. That question is not addressed by a blog comment stating, "We're doomed."

That said, there are some trenchant points being made by both Digby and Glenn regarding our plight (such as it is) and what can be done about it.

Digby quotes Richard Viguerie making the case for a Republican election loss in 2006:

Conservatives are, by nature, insurgents, and it’s hard to maintain an insurgency when your friends, or people you thought were your friends, are in power.


THEY are the Insurgents. Not us. And that's why they win.

I've been making that argument for years, mostly to deaf ears in Left Blogistan, where the "leftist" rebellions of previous eras are thought to be informing the current "rebellion" against Bushevism.

No, I argue, that's not what's happening. Not at all. There is no serious rebellion against Bushevism. There has never been one, and in some ways, there can't be. The Busheviks are the Rebels. Not us. And they are rebelling against the whole political and cultural superstructure of Progressivism, Liberalism, Secular Humanism, the Enlightenment Itself.

So while DeeCee is indeed like the rotting palaces of Tsarskoye Selo and Versailles and the culture within the Beltway is as thorogoing and decadent a Palace Culture as there has ever been, that culture is at bottom our own "Leftist", or "Progressive," or "Liberal" culture; and that is what the Marxes and Lenins and Trotskys of today (Podhoretz, Giuliani, Kristol, et al) are fighting to destroy.

They believe they haven't won yet. There are still liberals and progressives out and about, they continue to speak, to write, to draw attention to themselves. And the basic operating system of government in this country continues to be secular and progressive, despite the best efforts of these Rebels to overthrow that governing system and replace it with some Medieval or even pre-Medieval rule of Religiously Insane Autocrats and Oligarchs.

They are successful in part because they are radical and absolutely determined, whereas we are reasonable and determined to find a middle way, some sort of compromise, win-win. "Reason" doesn't work in this kind of situation, as Digby is at pains to point out in her post.

And yet, we can't become like them, can we? Reason is basically all we have left, and we can't let go of that, can we?

If we realize what the real roles are here -- after so many years of Republican rebellion and depredation, I'm not sure that realization will ever come -- that they are the insurgents and we represent the disintegrating status quo, we might figure out the "left" needs to approach the question of how to deal with Movement Conservatives from a far more original perspective.

But so long as we see ourselves as Teh Rebels and them as representing the Status Quo, we are not going to get anywhere.

No. The roles are reversed.

Now what?

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Hive Mind? Or...? You decide.

Like many others, I've seen the Benazir Assassination as the critical event of this Astrological Year of Endings. We recognize instinctively that even though we don't know what happened exactly, and probably never will, what happened is huge and it is quite likely to be the precipitating incident for whatever happens in the New Year. We recognize, too, that what could happen in the New Year is appalling.

Like many others, I've been bouncing around between news and analysis sources the last few days, hoping to stumble on to something that can give us some hope. But no. There's nothing. It's yet another fine mess engineered -- at least in part -- by those geniuses who brought us so much catastrophe already.

I found that I seemed to be channelling Spencer Ackerman and Josh Marshall, even though I hadn't been to TPM more than once during the immediate period after the assassination. I highly recommend following their posts on the matter. Like the rest of us, they may be wrong, but they are deeper into the intricacies of the story than most of us would ever want to be.

Juan Cole has been an invaluable resource.

His colleague Barney Rubin is running rings around practically every other analyst out there. Earlier I linked to Rubin's WSJ article on the Musharraf Problem, but I would like to urge everyone to read Scott Horton's interview with Rubin for Harpers.

I'm as ignorant as anybody else about where this is all going to lead. But something tells me that the Busheviks have fucked up so bad in their reliance on Benazir, and their butt boy Musharraf is in so much domestic hot water, that nothing any of them try to do now will save the situation. Literally, it is up to the Pakistani military to keep the lid on (sort of) or... let 'er rip.

The only question remaining is how bad will the blowback be? And how far will it spread?

Oddly enough, here's who might come out the unquestioned winner:

Revenge for Afghanistan and the Fall of the Soviet Union?

¿Quién sabe?


Watching the Conventional Wisdom on the Benazir Assassination shift and re-congeal these past few days has been interesting to say the least. First out of the gate were the Mighty Defenders of the Status Quo, those who insisted that Despite the Tragedy and Shock, nothing must change, Musharraf must be supported, life and elections must go on, The Woman Would Have Wanted It That Way. David Ignatius was perhaps the premier example, but they opined on all the shows, and littered the governmental spokesmouths top to bottom, Over There and Over Here.

There was no other Wisdom at all, Conventional or otherwise, at least at first. Even the Lefty Blogosphere repeated the Usual Nostrums.

Then slowly and reluctantly, other voices started to break through the usually impenetrable wall of Convention. They started Over There, where the predominant idea from the beginning was that Musharraf was responsible for Benazir's assassination, even if he or his minions were not directly involved. Since nobody really knew who the triggerman was or who he was aligned with, let alone why this deed was done, speculation on motives and who was behind it were just that. Speculation.

What was not speculation was the fact that Musharraf had set himself up as an Autocrat, had been ruling by decree, had subverted and undermined democratic processes and had dismissed an independent judiciary not of his liking. He rules Pakistan with a heavy hand, and he alone determines such matters as whether or not people like Benazir shall have freedom of movement and what sort or whether they shall have security protection when they do move about and speak.

Nobody knew who the killer or killers were, but Musharraf's responsibility for the assassination could not be avoided. And that was the message out of Pakistan during the initial hours and days of turmoil and chaos. No one who was anyone was listening to Those People, of course, they being Brown Rabble and all, but one of our Democratic candidates, Bill Richardson (he being Brown himself and thoroughly versed in South Asian diplomacy among other things) did listen and said, "Musharraf has to go."

The screaming from the Palace Chatterati was immediate, yet there was near unanimity from Pakistan: Musharraf was the Problem; American support for this Problem was destroying Pakistan. Benazir -- whatever you thought of her -- was dead because of this Problem. And Nuclear Armed Pakistan was going up in flames.

The American policy of supporting this rascal -- who allowed Ur-Nemesis Osama a safe haven in the "Ungoverned Tribal Areas" of Pakistan, whose military and intelligence services were long known to be infiltrated by Taliban and al Qaeda forces, and whose security forces (so called) were unable to prevent the assassination of one of the most popular politicians on the Subcontinent (let alone unable to prevent the deaths of hundreds of Pakistanis through incessant terrorist bombings) -- was an abject failure. Those calling for continuing American support of this insouisant devil were pissing upwind. They began to realize it.

And not in a nice way. The worst of all possible worlds was nearly upon us.

Democracy Now! gave its whole hour yesterday over to discussion of the mess in Pakistan. It was illuminating to those just getting their bearings on the Crisis Over There, but of course it was on Democracy Now! and only dedicated Socialist Revolutionary Cadres watch that. Much better to spend quality air time ragging on Bill O'Reilly.

But meanwhile, those tectonic plates continue to shift.

By early in the New Year, expect to hear revived calls for an Invasion of Pakistan.

It's in the National Interest. Pervez Must Go.

Friday, December 28, 2007


"Come on, honey. Who ya gonna believe? Me or yer lyin' eyes?" -- every dude ever caught with his pants down.

The Musharraf regime is busy spinning out an alternative Reality regarding what happened to Benazir Bhutto yesterday. Instead of having been shot twice, once through the neck and then through the shoulder, the Musharraf "investigator" is claiming that she never was hit by bullets or shrapnel. Instead, she was killed when she ducked down into her vehicle and struck her head on the lever that operates the sun and/or moon roof in reaction to the suicide bombing. Stupid woman. She was clumsy, and she died.

This is certainly an interesting version of the Blame the Victim trope that's informed nearly every disaster of the Bushevik years. It's fairly clear that this particular fiction is being generated for Pakistani domestic as well international consumption due to the pubication of various letters and emails Benazir sent before her death, all of which implicate Musharraf in her assassination, not so much directly, but through neglect of her security.

The Musharraf-ites of course are now claiming that they "did all they could" to protect The Woman, but she, being Unwise, was very hard to Protect. The gunman did not touch her. She died reacting to the bombing. And truth be told, there is nothing anyone can do about a determined suicide bomber. Tough breaks. Oh well.

It is critically important for the survival of the Musharraf regime that they convince their own people and the skeptical international community that they did everything they could. The Stupid Woman did her own self in by hitting her head you see.


There are some outstanding Year-end Lists out there, documenting the unending atrocities in the Governmental/Media Megaplex, lists pioneered for our side by the Late, Lamented Media Horse Online, thus -- sort of -- the opening video of Carlos Vives: "Caballito" (Little Horse).

Alternet has a good list up. And The Buffalo Beast gives us The 50 Most Loathesome People of 2007 (h/t aed and Della).

And of course, the incomparable Glenn Greenwald invokes what he won't do, then does exactly that, and provides us with a wonderful compendium of odious quotes from Government/Media to savor with our fruitcake and nog during this quasi-hiatus as the old year stumbles out and the new one toddles in.

Myself, I'm terrible with lists, can't even get a decent shopping list together on a good day, and I forget even the basics without one, so we'll just have to make do with the careful and clever work of others.

Chris (Tweety) Matthews is probably quoted and denounced more in the Lefty Blogosphere than anyone except Joe Klein.
Of course Matthews deserves every bit of it, as does Klein. Like Evangelicals throughout the Nation, neither of these sterling examples of Post Modern Manhood (not to mention mancrushes) seems to have a Self Awareness Button. Both are perpetually perplexed about being loathed in the Blogosphere, but strangely, both seem to accept that there's a big old "Kick Me!" sign on their backsides and roll with the numerous punches they've received this year and every year.

Tim Russert and Howard Fineman come in for their share of routine denunciation and unbridled contempt each year and every year, both of them near the top of All Time Media Shills for Autocracy, though Russert's obnoxious and obsequious groveling before such luminaries as Darth Cheney provides constant opportunities for throwing up a little in our mouths.

Who else grabs your fancy for outstanding public outrage this year? No, Britney doesn't count.

I know. Aw.


Asia Times has a curious story regarding a telephone call one of its reporters received from Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Afghanistan al Qaeda Leader, immediately after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi yesterday.

From the story:

“This is our first major victory against those [eg, Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf] who have been siding with infidels [the West] in a fight against al-Qaeda and declared a war against mujahideen,” Mustafa told Asia Times Online by telephone.

He said the death squad consisted of Punjabi associates of the underground anti-Shi’ite militant group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, operating under al-Qaeda orders.

The assassination of Bhutto was apparently only one of the goals of a large al-Qaeda plot, the existence of which was revealed earlier this month.

On December 6, a Pakistani intelligence agency tracked a cell phone conversation between a militant leader and a local cleric, in which a certain Maulana Asadullah Khalidi was named. The same day, Khalidi was arrested during a raid in Karachi. The arrest, in turn, led to the arrest of a very high-profile non-Pakistani militant leader, which, it is said, revealed an operation aimed at wiping out “precious American assets” in Pakistan, including Musharraf and Bhutto.

The operation is said to have involved hundreds of cells all over Pakistan to track targets and communicate with their command, which would then send out death squads.

"Precious American assets"? OK. No doubt that Musharraf and Bhutto both had the backing of the US Government. Death Squads???

Immediately Spidey Sense says, "Whoa!" Death Squad-ism is the purview of John "Death Squad" Negroponte, who, it just so happens, made a frantic trip to Islamabad to treat with Musharraf and his minions during the recent state of emergency.

Why would al Qaeda's top Afghanistan operative telephone an Asia Times reporter to claim credit for the Benazir Bhutto assassination and use the term "death squads" to refer to AQ operations in Pakistan shortly after "Death Squad" Negroponte visits Musharraf (no doubt with "technical advice.")?

Just a happy coincidence?

Maybe not.


Been watching a news conference with Imran Khan on NDTV Online. He's blasting Musharraf, Bush, Rice, Bolton, all of them, demanding that Musharraf step down, NOW, that the elections be postponed, that the independent judiciary be restored and full investigations into the various assassinations and bombings be undertaken, that the democratic process be restored, that Bush and his henchmen go away, on and on. He is particularly harsh about the Bush/Musharraf strategy against terrorists and terrorism. He is apparently in India at this time, but vows to return to Pakistan (he was famously jailed for opposing Musharraf's emergency rule earlier in the year.)

He's written a very personal, moving and complex recollection of Benazir and the Bhuttos, not exactly a tribute, and yet its honesty is oddly touching in its own right.

Is it possible that Imran will emerge leading the political force that ousts the Musharraf autocracy? Sure looks like he's gonna try.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cui Bono?!

The obvious answer is not that this helps Republicans, or that it helps Rudy! or that it helps Hillary.

No, the one whose fortunes rise (at least in the immediate context) is Musharraf and surprisingly, possibly his butt-boy Bush.

Musharraf's opposition party has been decapitated, something that is quite clear to those on the Subcontinent. There is now no credible political opposition to the continuation of the Musharraf autocracy in Pakistan. The People may be rising in rage and outrage, but they lack any viable leadership; most likely, the various riots and insurrections will be put down or sputter out. Musharraf will be able to further consolidate his power, more because of the People's exhaustion and frustration than anything else. There is a chance of civil war in Pakistan, but civil unrest does not necessarily lead to the disintegration of the state.

And the Busheviks are watching it all. Unlike the Bourbons, the Busheviks appear to be trying to learn.

And they are learning that assassination, like propaganda, works.

The Bush Regime, with the full complicity of Congress, has delivered something like $10 billion to the Musharraf regime and its military henchmen, no strings attached, in order to buy their acquiescence to the BushWars. Another lesson: bribes work. For a while.

But it has been clear for some time that President General Pervez has his own notions of cooperation, his own ideas of civilian authority in Pakistan, and his own conception of his personal power. Despite his nearly negative approval rating, he has consolidated his personal power, with plenty of technical assistance and pallets of $100 bills from the United States, and there is no sign at all that he intends to relinquish this power or even significantly reduce it during his lifetime.

Benazir Bhutto was a constant, nagging thorn in his side. What to do?

We see for ourselves. It doesn't even take a visit from Negroponte to focus the mind does it?

However, despite Musharraf's apparent 'victory' for the moment, he would be wise to recall the Marcos example before he gets too comfortable in his civilian office.

While all signs right now point to the likely petering out of rebellion against the Musharraf reign of misrule, these flames may not die out at all. And what would a truly democratic Pakistan look like? Are Americans ready for that?


Word came slowly and somewhat haltingly to Casa Ché that Former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi.

According to witnesses it was a gunman on a motorcycle who approached Bhutto as she was getting into a car to leave the rally. He fired. Then he detonated a bomb killing himself and a number of others. Bhutto was rushed to the hospital where she died. Per NPR. The coverage on NPR is studiously "balanced", almost as if the story is being supervised by some elements in the White House -- or its bunkers -- focusing on the "inevitability" of her death, the deep-seated ambivalence of the White House toward this Uppity Brown Woman, and the Absolute Necessity of continuing to prop up the Musharraf dictatorship no matter what.

Much is being made of the fact that the elections scheduled for January were not expected to be either free or fair in any case, so in some ways, the absence of Bhutto from the scene simplifies the situation. Musharraf now has a perfectly legitimate excuse for a much more severe crackdown than he has already imposed since declaring (and sort of lifting) a state of emergency, and the establishment of a permanent autocracy under his "civilian" control can now be rationalized.

They trotted Bush out to make remarks, and he called for "bringing to justice" those who committed this crime. Good man. Like the 9/11 hijackers, the perp(s) are already dead. Somehow the notion of just what Suicide Assassins and Bombers do never makes it into the consciousness of the Bush Regime, so we find our nation engaged in endless stupid colonial wars of aggression against peoples who have had nothing to do with the various triggering outrages.

And now we're hearing on NPR that though The People of Pakistan may not like Musharraf, but they most definitely did not want Bhutto and her corruption and neglect of duty back. Furthermore, no one truly believed the scheduled "elections" would be anything more than a "selection."

Don't want to make too much of parallels, but the use and misuse of language in this case (and throughout the latest Pakistani political crises) is highly suggestive.

Here's what ignored Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson has to say about it all:

DENISON, IA -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson issued the following statement this morning after the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

"Benazir Bhutto was a courageous woman. Her death, and the deaths of so many of her supporters, is more than just a tragedy. It is a testament to the will of the Pakistani people to see democracy restored. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died today.

"Ms. Bhutto knew the dangers to her safety. But she would not be intimidated. We also must not be intimidated.

A leader has died, but democracy must live. The United States government cannot stand by and allow Pakistan's return to democracy to be derailed or delayed by violence.

We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.

It is in the interests of the US that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to power are destabilizing his country. He must go."

Richardson is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Quite a different perspective than we are getting from the "News", eh?

UPDATE: "Blame Musharraf" seems to be the jelling conventional wisdom everywhere except in the DC Establishment/Palace/Beltway Media. They, of course, continue to Blame the Victim. (She shoulda knowed better, yadda, yadda). Spencer Ackerman over at TPM Muckraker sums it up:

A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.

After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."

Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."

As for what comes next: Haqqani doubts that Musharraf will go forward with scheduled elections. "The greatest likelihood is that this was aimed not just aimed at Benazir Bhutto but at weakening Pakistan's push for democracy," he says. "But the U.S. has to think long and hard. Musharraf's position is untenable in Pakistan. More and more people are going to blame him for bringing Pakistan to this point, intentionally or unintentionally.

UPDATE 2: Live coverage from India here:

Musharraf prohibits live news coverage in Pakistan.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Over at the Bawlmer Sun, the ACLU's Susan Goering has an op-ed up about the Congressional efforts to maximize the Maximum Leader's domestic surveillance powers and to let the telecoms off scott free for all their lawless complicity.

This story did not go away over the Christmas Holiday, and looks fair to get more intense come the New Year.

Ms Goering points out that the Bushevik Regime routinely lies to Congress about the scope and extent of their domestic spying operations, and Congress routinely bows its head and doffs its cap in response.

• They told us it was all about stopping terrorism. But now we've learned that the NSA's massive wiretapping and data collection program started long before 9/11 - in fact, it started in the 1990s - and was ramped up by this administration immediately after President Bush took office. The NSA also routinely collects phone records for run-of-the-mill drug cases that have nothing to do with terrorism.

• They told us they weren't targeting domestic conversations. But now we find out that the taps weren't focused on foreigners or even international calls. The Times reveals that part of what made telecom Qwest balk at a request for data in early 2001 was that the program was designed to pick up significant amounts of purely domestic communications by granting the NSA access "to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls," and that only "limited international traffic also passes through the switches."

• They told us they were gathering just the data they absolutely needed to fight terrorism. But now we know that this is not a program narrowly targeted at terrorists. Their repeated assurances that the government doesn't conduct vast dragnet operations just aren't true. As The Times reported, "The NSA met with AT&T officials to discuss replicating a Bedminster, N.J., network center here in Maryland to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it."

The point of this out of control domestic spying, which has been under way on a small scale for decades, but expanded exponentially once the Busheviks seized the White House, may be difficult to fathom. Is it done for intimidation and control of ordinary citizens? Is it done to collect "useful information" on political enemies and rivals? Is it done to Fight Crime? Is it done to stop the Terrriss under our beds? All of the above? None?

The fact that we sit around at our keyboards contemplating just what these mooks are up to, furiously trying to puzzle it out, and put a stop to it(!) is probably thrilling to the CheneyBunkers, where all this lawlessness and perfidy seems to originate. They want us scared, and they want us all tied up in knots trying to figure out what they're doing, while they just go on about their business, plotting and planning, and plodding along, taking out one enemy at a time, relentless, like the Daleks, and in some ways just as stupid.

They just keep at it.

As must we. Locked in struggle. In the Perpetual Fight For Freedom Against Tyranny. Or maybe not.

Despite all the success the CheneyBunker has had transforming this nation's Government into a gasping, sputtering, gas-hog of an Autocracy, spewing carbon emissions and poisons all over creation, the People, somewhat bemused, go about their own business.

Brazil! indeed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I am signaling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization self-destructs. The goddess Nemesis is knocking at the door…

What are poets for in such an age? What is the use of poetry? If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of Apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic. You have to decide if bird cries are cries of ecstasy or cries of despair, by which you will know if you are a tragic or a lyric poet. Conceive of love beyond sex. Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo. Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. Be passionate about it. But don’t destroy the world, unless you have something better to replace it.

If you would snatch fame from the flames, where is your burning bow, where are your arrows of desire, where your wit on fire?

The master class starts wars. The lower classes fight it. Governments lie. The voice of the government is often not the voice of the people.

Speak up, act out! Silence is complicity. Be the gadfly of the state and also its firefly. And if you have two loaves of bread, do as the Greeks did: sell one with the coin of the realm, and with the coin of the realm buy sunflowers.

Wake up! The world’s on fire!

Have a nice day!

-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art

This little diversion was lifted out of Amy Goodman's Hour With Ferlinghetti yesterday, well worth the time to sit through today while your chestnuts are roasting by open fires, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.

It's easy to overestimate the influence of Beat Generation poets and writers on the rebellion of the 1960's and on current Rebel Hearts among us. Surely these 80-somethings (those who are still alive that is, and there are dambed few of them left) did something in their own times, and that something still resonates with us today, but what that something or what that something is is as elusive now as it was then. We try to figure it out.

Christmas time is a good time to remember, or try to remember, when memories fail us, just what it was and what it is we respond to in all the palaver and chaos that forms our contemporary notions of... History.

We look at this scroll being unrolled in public, and the wonder is (most of it) still exists, and the wonder is anybody cares any more. We've moved on. Pixels move us now.

What is this machine called a typewriter, anyway?

Cigarettes? Everybody smoked in those days. Who dares to smoke now?

"Hey, Mac. Gotta light?" My COPD ain't as bad as yours.

And yet, could we or would we have had the rebellion we did, and could or would we have the Rebel Hearts we have today if we had not had those Beat Generation dreamers and dramatic interpreters of those dreams?

City Lights still sells books on Columbus Avenue in San Franciso, still retails revolution.

Books? What are these things called Books of which you speak?

So this is Christmas, and you better Goddamn Merry It Up. Got a long slog ahead of us.

The Village demands no less!

Gonna go have me some posole now.

Feliz Navidad

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's So Easy!

My Man Chris Floyd over at Empire Burlseque has a post up about Chris Dodd's threatened filibuster of Harry and Dick's FISA "Reform" Bill.

In it, he makes the very cogent point that, all things considered, it was remarkably easy to derail this freight train, with the implication that all along, had there been any reasonable opposition to Bushevik misrule, many of the horrors we've lived through these last seemingly endless years couldn't -- or at least wouldn't -- have happened.

Where was Chris Dodd before now? And where will he be when Harry re-introduces the bill in January?

It's not just Dodd of course. Ask where any senator has been.

Floyd puts it this way:

For the moment, I'll skip the obvious caveats that bristle all around this minor victory, and just make this observation: look how very little it takes to throw some sand in the wheels of the vast authoritarian machine created by Bush and his very willing Democratic partners (and predecessors). All it took to turn aside the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the amnesty bill was a single senator who refused, this once, to go along for the ride, and the slightest bit of heat on Reid for his deceitful kowtowing to the presidential tyrant.

Then he contrasts it with the shameful turn around to fund Bush's ongoing wars without strings:

As we noted yesterday, even the slightest bit of moxie can gum up the works for the war-loot-and-tyranny machine. But this week's "hero," Chris Dodd, was nowhere to be found when the new war money was on the line. He was back on the campaign trail, with his fellow presidential aspirants from the Senate: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe "Ethnic Cleansing? Hell, Yeah!" Biden. Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy made fine speeches, and Feingold did offer a troop-withdrawal amendment -- but again, there was no filibuster, no sand thrown in the gears. The bill had been constructed -- by the Democratic leadership, which is in charge of the Senate, after all -- in a way to make it almost impossible for the politicians to derail it: it was tied to an omnibus spending bill whose defeat could have risked a Gingrichian shut-down of some government services. ("If you don't vote for this war, poor children are going to go hungry and the national parks will close!")

The answer, of course, is to abolish the Senate.



According to reports in the New York Times the other day, everybody's favorite G-Man, J Edgar Hoover, prepared a plan to round up and "detain" twelve thousand dissidents and suspected subversives for Harry Truman's approval in 1950. The Korean War was on, and Hoover believed that the Nation was crawling with com-symp fifth columnists whose detention in camps was the only way to prevent the overthrow of The American Way Of Life by Our Sworn Enemies and Stalin.

The Times says that there is no indication that Harry S Truman ever approved this plan, nor that any particular dissidents, com-symps and fifth columnists were rounded up because of it. Habeus Corpus survived. That time. The Existential Threat of Korean Hordes paddling ashore at Santa Monica faded.

But McCarthyism and the long reach of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee did the job that Hoover and his G-Men wanted to do, without round ups or detentions. They did their job through innuendo, accusation, and intimidation.

The Times doesn't name any of these 12,000 potential detainees, but isn't it more than likely the Lists were circulated during the early years of Post-WWII Anti-Communist Hysteria?

How many names are on the NoFly Lists and Other Homeland Security Lists circulating today? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? And when will our favorite cadaver, the Honorable Michael Chertoff, find it convenient to commence "dealing" with these suspects?

Just remember: You're next.


To give you an idea of coverage available in alternative sources but rarely found, if at all, in the major mass media, Democracy Now! headlines a story from Army Times about the refusal of an Army unit to carry out orders after an IED attack in Iraq. It's mutiny. You'd think there would be something on the "news" shows on cable and the networks. But no. Indeed, there is hardly any mention of this story anywhere in the MSM -- or Blogtopia for that matter -- apart from a few briefs here and there.

The story is complex, of course, and it is hard to summarize in a few pithy lines. The "mutiny" happened, yes, but the Army's response was to make believe it didn't happen for public consumption and to punish the mutinous platoon by breaking it up, sending its non-coms to other units, and "flagging" all platoon members: no promotions, no awards, no favorable actions. Much worse could have been done to the men of the 2nd Platoon, but in its mercy, the Army thought this was enough punishment for disobeying a direct order to patrol a neighborhood in Baghdad where the company had lost so many men in the course of the occupation.

Why did they disobey? Because they were angry with their commanders? Because they were afraid of the Iraqis? No. Because they were afraid of what they would do to the Iraqis in revenge for the losses they had suffered over the last year as occupation troops.

A closing comment on Democracy Now!by Kelly Kennedy, the author of the piece in Army Times, sums up the feeling:

It just seemed like every time they made progress, it was slammed back down again. They just weren’t getting anywhere...

This sense of frustration and futility has long been a feature of the occupation of Iraq, and it has its parallels in the British occupation after WWI during which time the modern state of Iraq was cobbled together from the tattered remnants of the Ottoman Empire.

The Iraqis don't want them there, any more than they wanted the Indian Auxiliaries who were the actual occupation troops for the British. It took a while, but the Iraqis got the British to leave. And today, they are pushing the British bit by bit out of the southern provinces. Americans are no more welcome -- indeed, they are much less welcome -- in the northern regions of Mesopotamia, and like the Lilliputians tying up Gulliver, they are gradually tying up and quarantining the American troops as well as encouraging them to tie up themselves, quarantine themselves, so as to leave Iraqis alone. Odd that. These Natives were supposed to be so glad to be "subdued" by their Betters. As have all Natives, during past occupations.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Digby posts about her understandable horror and revulsion she felt at witnessing CNN's coverage of the tasering and pepper spraying of protesters in New Orleans the other day. The issue is simple enough: New Orleans public housing, most of which survived the hurricane with little or no damage, has been slated for demolition by the City Council [edit: and HUD]; much of this housing could have been made available to its residents soon after the hurricane, but instead has been allowed to deteriorate without residents. The City wants these residents gone, and this housing gone.

Railing against CNN's execrable coverage of just about anything is customary in the haute blogmonde, and Digby is one of the best at it. But there is an important element missing from the constant denunciations of CNN and the other major mass media: rarely are we offered any indication that there is an alternative to the hideous corporate "news" that infests our land. Blogospheric criticism of the MSM is necessary, but so is pointing to alternatives.

In this case -- as is so often the case -- Democracy Now! offers that alternative, and it is available online if it isn't provided by local outlets. But you will almost never see it mentioned. As much as we feel like slamming something into our teevees when the cable and network "news" shows go off the rails (which is almost all they know how to do anymore), it would be useful to point people to alternative outlets before we all suffer a collective aneurysm.

Meanwhile, this whole episode reminds me of Father Gapon's March on the Winter Palace in 1905. Our own Imperial Guards haven't used lethal force on We, the People yet, but it's only a matter of time before the escalation of force reaches that point. And then what?


Some housekeeping:

  • The portrait at the top of the page is not me; it's a photo of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Argentine visionary and revolutionary, taken sometime before his demise at the hands of counterrevolutionary thugs in 1967. For the life of me, I cannot locate a single photo of my own sweet self. Some must have been taken over the years, but no doubt they were all destroyed by the elements in some violent storm I can't remember...

  • Videos (and eventually stills) posted here do not necessarily illustrate the point of the posts, but then again... many will reflect a Latin sense and sensibility, simply because the Latin perspective reflects my own state of mind, condition and struggles so very well. At the very least, they can momentarily entertain.

  • Posting schedule may well be very irregular, especially after the Holidays, but my goal is at least one contribution here a day. Comments are encouraged, and I will do my best to respond, dialogue, that sort of thing. The email address in my profile is a valid one, but I've been told that emails are sometimes bounced from it for no earthly reason I can fathom.

  • My aim is Progress -- a politically neutral but necessary forward movement. The whole idea of Progress and a Brighter Future has been stolen from Americans, and not solely by the Busheviks and their fellow travelers, whose entire idea of government is a throwback to the Dark Ages. We have been dragged backwards since the Reagan Era, and it's past time to reverse the course of events. We may not be able to do it through ordinary political mechanisms, and yet we may not have any choice in the matter.

  • Many thanks to all who have expressed their interest in and support for this paltry effort at emptying the ocean.

  • “Silence is argument carried out by other means.” -- Ernesto "Che" Guevara

  • We cannot be silent.

  • Y ¡Andalé!

Populists! (Ew)

Both Republicans and Democrats are offering up Populists to counter the overwhelming influence of the corporatist politicians who have the bulk of the power in both parties.

We've got Populist Huckabee on the R side, Populist Edwards on the Dems'.

Both seem to be rising in their respective parties. There is even a chance that both will come out on top in the Iowa caucuses in January.

Huckabee is being lavished with a lot of media attention just now, much of it in the form of "scrutiny" -- ie: criticism -- by the Political Press, so as to sully and eventually demolish his campaign. Rs are not going to allow a real populist -- which Huckabee seems to be -- to rise too high in any case. They are determined to follow their bliss: Autocracy united with Corporatism. They may try to put on a show of popular appeal, but they aren't about to turn over their successful overhaul of the American government to a real Populist.

On the other hand, Edwards is largely ignored by the American political media. It appears that the Spite Girls of the media -- whose job it is to demolish uppity candidates -- believe they already accomplished that task by 1)trivializing Edwards himself (haircuts, mansions, etc.) from the get, and 2)demonizing him (and his wife) for not quitting his campaign when Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with cancer. They believe they can ignore Edwards now because their job is already done.

If Edwards takes Iowa, though, that would be inconvenient for the Court Circular and Palace Media, and they'd have to take him down again -- which they would do in a heartbeat.

Dem and/or R voters may want a Populist in the White House, but our entire political class would gird their (bi-partisan) loins to prevent it.

Wild cards in all of this include the freakish campaign of Ron Paul and the largely quixotic efforts of Dennis Kucinich.

The vast amounts of money Paul is raising (despite being at low single digits in all the polls) suggests that he's headed for a third-party run, financed by... ?? ¿Quién sabe? The point of a Paulista third-party insurgency, however, is obvious: peel off enough anti-war Dems to ensure a plurality victory by the Corporate Republican (who I predict will be Mitt). This is a repeat of the 1992 strategy in which Crazy-tinker Ross Perot served to peel off enough Rs to give Clinton a plurality victory.

For my money, a general election contest between Edwards and Huckabee would be ideal, and perhaps one of the first truly honest election contests (if not an honest election) in generations. The People are being intensely propagandized to accept a Hillary/Mitt "contest." Or if Hillary falters significantly, a Barack/Mitt contest. For either contest, the winner is already chosen: Mitt.

But if the People can and do intervene on their own behalf, we could be in for a historic upset.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Harry! (Dos)

Earlier today, I posted about the Trouble With Harry (who is awaiting his hanging for Lack of Leadership) and I suggested the problem is as much Institutional as it is the general wussiness of Our Dems' Majority Leader.

The Rs are running roughshod over the Dems in Congress, particularly in the Senate, where the Democratic Majority is more illusory than real. Not only is Holy Joe a reliable Republican shill for just about anything the White House wants, there are 20-25 other Democratic Senators the White House can rely on in a pinch.

But even if that weren't the case, the White House through the Rs could -- and we don't doubt would -- control what gets passed and what doesn't, regardless. As of a few days ago, the White House (in the Person of Bush, but Cheney is probably behind the diktats) had threatened 53 vetoes if Congress did not send the bills the White House wants. It takes 67 votes in the Senate, 290 in the House to override a veto. Built in to the Constitution.

No presidency has ever been as adamant about having things its way or no way, and few Congresses controlled by the opposite party have been so hapless in the face of such executive intransigence.

Yet this situation is a built in consequence of the institutional parameters set by the Constitution and the hoary traditions of the elected bodies through which, in theory, the Constitution is implemented.

KagroX over at dKos has posted on this issue, as has Digby at her Other Place, and I'm sure we're going to see more discussion of the institutional failure in Harry's Hamstrung Senate and Nancy's Floundering House.

Much of what has gone wrong, or not gone at all, since the Dems took over the Congress has to do with the way the Founders set things up, not realizing, perhaps, that a political party would arise that would use the institutional impediments built in to the Constitution to... destroy it, and with it, the Nation.

That's not to give either Harry or Nancy much slack, tho. Neither of them are adept at using the Bully Pulpit to advocate Righteous Progressive Positions, but then, neither of them has a unified caucus who will stand with them if they were to try. The fractiousness and outright traitor-like ways of Democratic Electeds is one of the most consistent of their behaviors, and it would lead to routine R "victories" if nothing else did.

But the Institution of Congress vis-à-vis the White House allows just what's happening to happen, and can ensure there will be no change for generations. Even with a Dem majority, and potentially even with a Dem in the White House (cf: Clinton, Bill, who had a fractious Dem congress, couldn't get Universal Health Coverage to happen, among other things.)

But is it a feature or a bug?

Remains to be seen. Meanwhile, it's time for a scene from El Amor Brujo. See what folks working from the same page can accomplish.


Commenter Dirigo over at Greenwald's Place brings up today's WaPo frontpage story about the FBI's data and identity sweep of everyone in the whole wide world who is of "interest" to them. They have an underground storage locker in the Appalachians somewhere for all this data, and they will use it, so goes the story, for apprehension of criminals and terrorists who infest the globe these days.

The story was also on the front page of my hometown rag, so it's getting a little play in the MSM. Of course. That's the Point. Let everybody know They're Watching You.

DARPA and TIA are alive!

Combine them with Jane Harman's cheery little "Homegrown Terrorism Suppression Act" now sitting on Holy Joe Lieberman's Homeland Security Committee desk, and we see where this is leading.

Before you start hollering "Conspiracy Theorist!!!" and pointing your finger and screeching like the Pod People in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers,", it's worth remembering that the original Patriot Act was sitting on the shelf ready to go when those planes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, and convicted felon Adm Poindexter is still available for... consultations...

All of a piece.

The National Security State is battening down. Must think there's something in the wind.

I wonder what?


The fashion nowadays is to denounce Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his lack of leadership on FISA "reform" among many other items before the August Body.

Indeed, Harry appears to have been operating as a tool of the Republican minority and the White House ever since they decided it was in their interests to obstruct all Democratic moves through endless invocation of the ancient rite of the filibuster. But Harry doesn't even force them to go through with it. All they have to do is say they will, and there's Harry, johnny-on-the-spot, asking unanimous consent for the 60 vote requirement and pulling bills that won't make it. Greenwald has documented the atrocities over at his place. But you can't stop anywhere in the more-or-less Lefty Blogosphere without encountering one or more calls for Reid's immediate or pending hanging.

Nancy Pelosi faces somewhat the same torrent of abuse and calls for her hanging over her lack of leadership in the House.

Harry was on the NewsHour last night, two days after practically the entire show was given over to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to praise him for getting the Republican agenda enacted in this ostensibly Democratic controlled Senate. Harry, as is his wont, made mush of it.

Harry's key quote was right at the top of his interview:

SEN. HARRY REID: Well, we've been able to accomplish quite a bit, but not very much...

Oh. Well. Never mind then.

He went on to babble incoherently for some minutes as ever patient Jim Lehrer did his nails and plucked his nose hairs. Read it for yourself at the link. Weeping is up to you.

All these calls for Harry's hanging are coming rather late, however. The man has been Democratic "Leader" in the Senate since Tom Daschle, another Wild-West Firecracker, lost his seat to the reprehensible John Thune in 2004. Just discovering Harry is a little punch drunk, are we? Hmm? Anyone who was paying attention knew it a long time ago.

Widely noted these days is the fact that on the central issues of Iraq and Giving the White House Anything It Wants, the current Democratic Leadership in the House and Senate (much more so in the Senate, but the House is not exactly slacking) is more willing to bend over and beg than even the Republicans were when they were in charge.

There are more troops in Iraq, war spending is far more costly, corruption is more rampant than ever, and human and constitutional rights are far more likely to be trampled with a Democratic Congress than was the case under Republican control (which weren't no picnic.)

There is a Problem. You bet.

And Harry isn't alone.

The Problem in the Senate is about 20-25 BlueDog/BushDog Democratic Senators who will almost always vote the White House Line when push comes to shove. This means that in effect, the Republicans have 70 votes for just about anything they really want passed, and the Democrats can't get more than 50 for what they want. Ergo, the Republican agenda is either enacted or the Democratic agenda is thwarted.

Is this due to Harry's incomparably bad Leadership, or is it something else?

We keep hearing calls for More and Better Dems -- which is all well and good, but...

I argue that Democrats and the bodies they serve in have institutional problems that can't be solved simply by electing more Democrats.

More about this later.


A little Amor Gitano to get your blood moving...

Friday, December 21, 2007

¡Hola! Time has come today!

Dec 21, 2007. The Solstice.

Time has come today:

“If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.” -- Ernesto "Che" Guevara

After many years commenting on other people's blogs and getting slapped around from time to time -- "Why don't you get yer own blog?!" -- today I launch Ché (What You Call Your) Pasa, for venting and ranting about and considering the future and the past of our Nation and its place in the World.

I've been fortunate to have some outstanding internet friends and the inspiration of many brilliant writers and thinkers during this extraordinary time of ferment and change.

This is by no means my first attempt at blogging; in the past, however, I always found myself so strapped for time that I was never able to keep up with Blogneeds, and so, every time in the past, I've had to let my own blogs lapse and be content with the occasional comment at other people's dedicated efforts. Early on, at Bartcop (where I had a different name); Salon's Table Talk; Eschaton; Digby's Hullabaloo; various versions of Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory; every now and again at FDL and Niewert's Place; but always with too little time to settle in.

Now, we'll see what happens.

Gracias a todos. Y ¡Andalé!