Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Bailout!

"No bailout! No KKK! No Fascist USA!"

Ha. Too late, suckers!

There was never any doubt in my mind that the extortion money would be paid. Of course it would, and the Congressional Dems would line up, nay push each other out of the way, to Git er Done!

It's what they do. It's who they are.

And no, they don't listen to us, they don't listen to Doom And Gloom Economists, and they don't listen to anybody they don't want to about anything, and they don't because they don't HAVE TO. They don't have to because nobody's going to do anything to make them listen or to stop them from acting foolish.

Snarking on a blog is not going to make them behave.

It helps relieve tensions, though, and under the circumstances, that's about the best we can hope for. The Wise Ones that I tend to listen to are saying this Extortion payment isn't really going to make any difference at all. It's not money, in other words, that "could be used" for infrastructure and health care and all of that. Yes, it's a parting gift to those who have screwed this pooch so badly, but it is not going to stop the coming crash. Nor, apparently, is it going to do much, or possibly anything, to buck up the Masters of the Universe. Basically, before they actually get their hands on the payoff, it will be worthless, so it doesn't matter. Not really.

Being worthless, this payout wouldn't be of any real use in restoring infrastructure or providing health care and energy independence, either.

Talk about "reset." The reset has to go right to the root and start the whole thing over. "Shock Doctrine" in reverse. The errors of Freidmanism erased, as if they never were. Total and complete repudiation. But it can't be a restoration of Keynesianism, either. Nope, it's gotta be something else.

And the impetus has to come from the People. The followthrough has to come from the People as well.

In other words, we, all of us, collectively, have to DO something -- make nonnegotiable demands, force an unwilling "system" to act first in the People's interests always.

And those Masters of the Universe must never be allowed to forget. Ever.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rise Up!

It's hard.

Americans aren't used to fighting wealth and power. They got out of the habit. They became convinced the rich and the powerful were on their side, and if they worked hard and played the game right, they'd be protected and they'd be taken care of; why they might even get rich themselves. Or at least reasonably well off.

Live like this:

Of course the middle class has been losing ground in the economy since the advent of the Reagan Revolution. Don't even talk about the increasingly desperate state of the poor.

Tent cities
are springing up all over the country as those who are forced out of their homes -- or never had homes to begin with -- make do with whatever they can.

Tell me again why America's richest should be "bailed out" -- ie: given many billions more dollars to spend on themselves, now that the good times of endless pillage and plunder they became accustomed to are slowing down? Tell me why.

If anybody needs to be bailed out, it's those who are at the bottom and those who are slipping toward the bottom. NOT those at the top.

And yet our rulers and their media agents can't grasp the notion, it simply doesn't register in their consciousness. Since they have no conscience, never did, the idea of providing for the least among us is alien and bizarre.

The only way to make them understand what we MUST do is to RISE UP.

Labor unions are taking the lead, organizing the Wall Street protest linked in the post below, organizing the Golden Gate Bridge march for health care yesterday. It's a start.

Americans have to shut down Wall Street. Shut down the Golden Gate Bridge. Bring Business As Usual to a screeching halt.

It will happen only if enough Americans become fed up enough with the Powers That Be that they not only yell out that they won't take it any more, but they actually demonstrate by their deeds that they won't.

So far, that's a step Americans are not willing to take, but if the economy continues in its death spiral, we might be surprised...

Friday, September 26, 2008


The Media Narrative has suddenly and completely changed. The United States is now in a Depression. The economy is faltering and is soon to crash. Some people are daring to say that even if the "$700 Billion" extortion money is paid to the Bushevik cronies, the Crash is certain to come anyway. There is no escape.

Pietown was a response to a previous economic, environmental, and climate catastrophe. Refugees from the Great Depression and the Dustbowl, from Texas and from Oklahoma and from parts farther afield, trekked to a remote section of New Mexico, west of Soccoro, to set up a self-sufficient community of pinto-bean and corn farmers, living off the land, around Clyde Norman's pie shop on Highway 60 .

It was a rough life.

Despite all the fearmongering coming out of the corridors of power and privilege these days, I somehow doubt that most Americans are all that moved by the efforts to goad them into additional passive submission to further looting and plunder.

There are signs of fighting back against Wall Street, and other signs of endurance in the face of hardship.

It's time for the Globalist Rich to lose the Class War they have been conducting against the rest of the nation and the world for lo these many years. Time to reverse the pendulum.

The Congressional Democrats have showed us just how "efficient" they are at plundering us -- or would be if the Republicans would let them. But no, the Republicans have -- mercifully for once -- thrown some sand in the gears of the plunder machine.

There is a pause.

From this point, all hell is liable to break loose.

Batten down.

And remember Pietown.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chickie Run

Not to be a spoilsport, but it is really over. We have reached the bottom of the cliff, and all that's left now is cleaning up the mess.


China banks told to halt lending to US banks-SCMP

BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited unidentified industry sources as saying the instruction from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) applied to interbank lending of all currencies to U.S. banks but not to banks from other countries.

"The decree appears to be Beijing's first attempt to erect defences against the deepening U.S. financial meltdown after the mainland's major lenders reported billions of U.S. dollars in exposure to the credit crisis," the SCMP said.

A spokesman for the CBRC had no immediate comment. (Reporting by Alan Wheatley and Langi Chiang; editing by Ken Wills)

Seriously. This was the great fear that stalked the markets (and the Regime) during the Par-tay Time, when everybody but us poor saps were getting rich. China could pull the plug.

Well. Today they did.

It's well and truly over now.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

I say why stop with nationalizing the financial sector? Nationalize energy and transportation, nationalize health care, nationalize communications. Nationalize all natural resources. Nationalize what's left of manufacturing.

Run these markets solely for the Good of the People. Socialism for All!

If China demands payment on its debt, let them try to come collect. They won't. But our problem is, of course, that we have so little manufacturing left, having transferred most of it to... well, China! So we are dependent on Chinese products, and China will make us pay for them, a lot. "Wal-Mart! Always the High Price Leader!"

Will the People rally to clean up the monumental mess at the bottom of that cliff we were always not quite going over (except we really went over it a long time ago)? If they are called to, I think they will.

But those who profited on the way down better look to giving up their gains and then some.

There is the Devil to pay.


Image: Plan59

There is much keening and rending of garments over the Democrats' cavage to the Bush Regime once again by their apparent agreement with the principal demand to fork over hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street in the Heist of the Millenium.

But what was expected? Dems had no intention of not caving, and the notion that somehow the Dodd bill was not cavage was nonsense. The Frank bill -- which will apparently be the basis for the "rescue", "bailout," "reform" measure -- is just more up front about it.

YES, the Dems would "cave." Except... they never opposed. They were already in the tank when the proposal popped up. They would do their rituals of fussing around the edges, but the Democratic leadership never intended to oppose the Extortionists.

They were always eager to please.

And so it is now.

Why is this a surprise? Why is it even a disappointment? What they are doing is what they do, it's who they are.

[Note: Chris Floyd explains it all for you. Perpend.]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Heist

The Congress is about to appoint and fund a Royal Overseer -- some call him a King in his own right -- to disburse gargantuan amounts of money to banks and large financial institutions of all kinds, in order -- they say -- to keep the economy afloat.

But Americans know what it is: a Heist. Extortion of the purest sort. "Protection money."

They're being held up for ALL their coin. "Spare change?" Everything.

Oh there's a bit of slapdash afterthought "oversight" and "accountability" skimcoated over the Heist. Yes, it will be done with all due diligence, all due efficiency, all due speed. After all, if the money isn't handed over pronto, in large denomination unmarked bills, the Economy gets it, right between the eyes.

Some of us realize the Economy has already suffered a mortal blow, and paying out sack-loads of money to the perpetrators now is not going to save the situation.

I think even our dumbest Congresscritters and media personalities sense it, even if they don't quite understand it. They are trying to sell this heist as a way to insulate or save "Main Street" from the vicissitudes of "Wall Street." But it won't do that; it will have no perceptible effect on Main Street, and cannot "insulate" anything or anyone except the corporate pillagers and their handmaidens from the malestrom that has already begun.

This is like convincing yourself that paying your extortionist will somehow keep you safe: it won't. It can't.

That's why so many people are saying, "Look, the crash is already under way; bailing out Wall Street (or whatever) is not going to prevent or reverse it. Let the 'financial system' fail. It will anyway. Use the money for infrastructure, use it to keep people in their homes, to give them jobs."

But that won't happen as long as Reaganism continues to rule.

On the other hand, things are likely to get so bad so fast that any injection of taxpayer money into Wall Street will have no effect at all, and the "$700 billion" -- or whatever -- will never be paid...

Need we ask what we did to deserve this?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Well, It's REALLY Reagan's Fault

A generation ago, it really wasn't all that hard to anticipate what would come of a successful Reagan Revolution: governments in turmoil, increased repression of dissent, growing ignorance among the masses, huge disparities in wealth and privilege, lower taxes on the rich, economic chaos, crumbling infrastructure, nasty "Little Wars," and on and on. It was all built in to the Reagan world view, and it had been fully on display while he was Governor of California before he took on the World.

Here's the Nation section contents for the November 17, 1980 issue of TIME Magazine (cover illustration above)

Reagan Coast-to-Coast

We Are Off on a Special Adventure (The Presidency/Hugh Sidey)

When Jimmy Knew

An Interview with Ronald Reagan

A Determined Second Fiddle

Draft Picks for the New Team

Is There Life After Disaster?

Squeezed Out off the Middle

Reagan Gets a G.O.P Senate

The House Is Not a Home

Moving into Stately Mansions

Referendums: Rising Impatience

Note the surprise with which his landslide election victory took the Wisecrackers at TIME (and the rest of the media) on Election night:

Landslide. Yes, landslide—stunning, startling, astounding, beyond the wildest dreams and nightmares of the contending camps, beyond the furthest ken of the armies of pollsters, pundits and political professionals. After all the thousands of miles, the millions of words and dollars, the campaign that in newspapers across the land on the very morning of Election Day was still headlined TOO CLOSE TO CALL turned out to be a landslide. The American voter had struck again. Half the election-watching parties in the nation were over before the guests arrived. The ponderous apparatus of the television networks' Election Night coverage had scarcely got on the air before it was over. NBC called the winner at 8:15 p.m. E.S.T., and the loser conceded while Americans were still standing in line at polling booths in much of the country. In a savage repudiation of a sitting President not seen since F.D.R. swept away Herbert Hoover in the midst of the Great Depression, Americans chose Ronald Wilson Reagan, at 69 the oldest man ever to be elected President, to replace Jimmy Carter in the White House.


And what would he do as President? TIME hints in its opening story that November, but doesn't quite get around to saying:

Regan never backed away from his basic principles or essential message abroad, the source of most trouble in the world is the Communist drive for global domination; at home, the fount of most American woes is the overblown, endlessly intrusive Federal Government. In foreign affairs, the U.S. must build up its military power and face down the Soviets. At home, Regan watchword will be less: less federal spending, less taxation, less regulation, less federal activism in directing the economy and curing social ills—in fact, less Government period.

And so it would be, so it is.

And look what it's got us.

Blame Clinton? Sure, for what he did and didn't do. But he didn't orignate the Reagan program he was still carrying out. He was just the best Republican president since Teddy Roosevelt. Blame either or both of the Bushes? Of course, for what they did and didn't do, and their bloodsoaked reigns of terror and kleptocracy are not likely to be forgotten. But they were not the originators of the Reagan quest for world domination, for unfettered (and largely untaxed) rich man's rule, for squeezing every dime out of the untermenschen.

No, what we have today -- and what will have to be dealt with for a generation to come -- is the direct result of the Reagan Revolution. Many people supported it unknowingly, just wanting something different, "change" as it were (as it was repeatedly stated during the election of 1980.) "CHANGE!"

In some ways, Obama is wise to use the same mantra for this year's election.

But will an Obama presidency be as transformational or even Revolutionary? That remains to be seen, but events have a way of shaping outcomes, just as much as Leaders do.

And events are spiraling much the way they did before Reagan ascended to the Purple.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No, It's YOUR Fault!!!!!

Even the wingnuts seem to be recognizing that they can't escape the economic whirlwind -- or is it a hurricane -- on the prowl for its pounds of US flesh. While they are still busy claiming to be blameless, as all Republicans always are for everything, it seems to be dawning on them that they can't run from whatever consequences are on the way. And they can't tax Libruls enough to save their own behinds.

It boils down to a matter of taxation and who will be stuck with the ultimate bill and how. Because we are going into a "socialistic" phase (call it National Socialism, Nazi, if you prefer, since everything is coming from Above, nothing being generated from Below, and to date it is all a matter of fusing government and corporate interests) all these bailouts and all of them yet to come will ultimately be paid for through 1) inflation, 2) taxation, 3) continued seizures of resources domestically and overseas.

If there were any real Socialism involved, of course, the Mighty Rich would be forced to pay a punative level of taxation, basically confiscatory of everything they've gained in the last decade or so. Any income over say a million a year would be taxed at 90% or more. Capital gains over a certain amount likewise. Oh, most of the wealthy would still be wealthy, but they would not be able to profit from the economic conditions immediately preceeding the current mess, and won't be able to profit from what's to come, at least not in the short term.

If there were any real Socialism involved, then the people with mortgages scheduled to "reset" -- ie: increase interest rates -- to an unaffordable level would have their mortgage interest rates frozen until such time as the mortgage could be refinanced through a government program that stabilizes interest rates at a reasonable level (say no more than 6% or 7%) for up to 50 years, and returns up to 50% of any gains in real estate value to the government. That way, at least for the time being, most of the families living in houses which might soon be foreclosed upon will have a reprieve, and those who are able to make reasonable mortgage payments will keep their homes, thus stablilizing the housing market. (Note: It's been claimed that most of the millions of foreclosures so far have been on speculator and investor owned properties and that "real families" haven't been forced out of their homes, at least not in any great number. That's a nice claim. I'd like to see the facts.)

If there were any real Socialism involved, the banks and financial institutions who participated in the gaming of the real estate market would be forced to eat their losses, and yet they would not be allowed to fail without provision of alternative banking/financial institutions. Investors and stockholders would lose their gains over the past decade or so, but that would not necessarily mean they would "reset" to zero.

If there were any real Socialism involved, the services provided by Government (which means through general taxation) would include basics like health care and education, social welfare, utilities, clean water, healthy environment, transportation and communications infrastructure, and so on. It's not rocket science, it's all been worked out in great detail over most of the civilized world long since. Americans need to catch up.

The Masters of the Universe want to make it impossible for Americans to catch up to the rest of the world. Given what they are setting out to do right now -- to save their own asses at the expense of everyone else -- they are likely to succeed in the short term.

Americans show no sign, whatever, of bestirring themselves en masse to interfere with the secret plotting and planning going on now to saddle them with gargantuan debt for many generations to come in order to keep the best off among us in wealth and privilege forever. A permanent aristocracy to rule over them is being established as we speak, about which most Americans are completely oblivious.

What are any of us going to do about it?

Most will do nothing at all.

A few -- very few -- still have their monkeywrenches...

Saturday, September 20, 2008



Jesus, people. Settle down.

I guess this latest insult to the system has actually goosed the droolies on the right to minimal comprehension that something is actually wrong, and, oh yeah, it's gonna cost them something.

It might even cost them a lot.

The latest bailout of the financial sector, details of which are not available -- and they may never be available to the public -- sounds suspiciously like an effort to suck up and hamstring every bit of slack there is left in both government and private sectors, essentially fully looting the treasury and what solvent banks there are left to prop up the teetering Big Guys at the top.

It's going to cost trillions of dollars America doesn't have any more, and for all intents and purposes may not be able to get. On the other hand, the bailout is being sold as a "profit-making" opportunity. If it pans out, in other words, Americans (exacly who is not specified) could make a handsome profit. A killing as it were. In all these derivatives that are valuless on paper but could turn out to be worth more than is being paid for them. Then again, maybe not. There, full disclosure.

Meanwhile, as always, nothing whatever is available to help the millions who are being forced out of their homes on the basis of fraudulent mortgages and lines of credit they were sold by slick operators, who only wanted to "help." The mortgage crisis has been under way for two full years, and so far, while trillions upon trillions are being pledged to keep all the banks from collapsing, nothing of any consequence can be found to help The People, nor, if the signs are correct, will there be anything whatever, for generations to come.

There will be no "rescue" of Social Security and Medicare, no infrastructure repairs, no alternative energy commitment, no mortgage relief for struggling households, no Universal Health Coverage, nothing. It will not happen; it cannot. All the money, every dime and then some, is being dedicated, bi-partisanly, to "saving" the financial sector. Nothing is left for you, and you and you, and you never deserved it, anyway, ya scum.

Illuminatingly, the People have no voice in what is going on AT ALL. Let's be blunt. Our Representatives in Congress Assembled will studiously avoid any public discussion of what's planned, they wouldn't do it even if it were possible. No, this deal is being hammered out behind closed doors in the dark, and it wouldn't be surprising if what is approved has many secret provisions that no one knows are there except the Adepts.

Many commenters are suggesting that the Deal will in essence strip the power of the purse from the Congress, though that may be a stretch. The thinking is that the banking system and the executive branch of the government (the Autocracy) will become fused, and the banks and the Treasury will operate independently of any petty "taxes" and "appropriations" the ridiculous "Congress" wishes to implement or impose. Could be. Remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, no help for the struggling masses.

You can be sure of it.


Thursday, September 18, 2008


So I was driving down the freeway yesterday listening to Hate Radio as I sometimes do while in the car, when some caller called in and started going on and on and on about how all this financial meltdown is the fault of BILL CLINTON (aka: XLINTOON!!!!!) who kept forcing banks to make all these bad loans and how if he hadn't been in control of things all these years, none of this would have happened.

All righty then.

This seemed to start a miniexplosion of Xlintoon!! Blaming, something that had been mercifully absent from the airwaves since the conclusion of the "Democrat" primary. But all of a sudden, now that things are looking bleak, it's back, with a spirit and a vengeance.

And I'm told by some Obama supporters that if Obama loses in Novemeber, it will be CLINTON'S FAULT!!!!!!! Yes. True. I kid you not.

The man just can't get a break.

Now, there is no love lost between The Clintons and me. There are good things to say about them, and not so good things, and some pretty terrible things. There is plenty to blame Bill Clinton for, plenty of blame to heap on Hillary's plate. But none of that seems to be the issue in the constant litany of Clinton Hate and Derangement that seems to overwhelm the good sense and judgement of many people, too many people, of all political stripes.

Blaming Clinton (either or both of them) has become a classic scapegoating routine that people seem to engage in automatically, some sort of learned, almost Pavlovian, reaction to almost anything that seems to be wrong or going wrong.

Those of us who don't engage in it seem to be somehow immune from whatever triggers flip the switch for so many others. We weren't conditioned, in other words, to Blame The Clintons for everything.

But apparently many people were.

How did that happen?

[Note: a lot of "seeming" here I know. It is a real puzzlement to me. And maybe I'm just sensitive to something others don't see at all, and so maybe what I notice just "seems to be."]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I'd like to think the McCain campaign of lies and distractions is in freefall, and that Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis will buried under such a load of crap by the time they are done with this sorry affair they will never show their ugly mugs in public again.

But we know that's not how these things work.

In fact, they'll probably collect their millions, win or lose, and pat themselves on the back for all the times they RULED the news cycle and for how pathetic they made that Colored Boy look every time they pulled another rude or ridiculous stunt.

It's gonna be a gott-dambed miracle if Obama wins the election in November. What with spending the summer alienating constitutency after constituency (just a sampling: due to the FISA fuck over, the Gen. Clark fuck over, the NAFTA fuck over, the Biden choice fuck over, etc, etc) and McCain campaign's Complete Chaos Strategery, sometime just finding Obama in the malestrom has been a trial. In the meantime, lots of really frustrated people became entranced with all the shapes and the colors and the bright shiny objects thrown out by the McCain/Palin operatives, and Obama's polls sagged substantially.

People want him to do well. Hell, I want him to do well. But when you're up against master bullshitters....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Shadow

For some time I've been riffing on the notion that Button Dick Cheney has no intention of giving up power to any new administration which may - - or may not -- be elected by vote of the People of the United States of America. In fact, he's spent most of his career setting up a Shadow Government, placing his moles throughout the Federal service and running things his way from deep in his bunkers and undisclosed locations, only to emerge now and again to snarl and belittle all who question his guidance and wisdom.

My sense is he fully intends to continue in that role. No matter who winds up "elected." He's not going away. You don't work so intently to transform the very nature of American government to suit yourself only to let it all go when some other yahoo is selected by the American People or some other Special Interest to rule.

Especially when you don't have to give up any power at all.

Nope, Cheney will be with us, like an albatross, till the bitter end.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And in the WTF? Department

Where's Biden?

As you may be aware, La Palin has been sliming Democrats and goosing her wingnut base all over the country, so much so that many wags presume she is the Real Republican Candidate for President, McCain is just a placeholder.

Meanwhile, Obama has mostly been lying low, and the Dem VP candidate, a certain Senator from Delaware yclept Joe Biden, who was elected to the Senate when he was only 29, has almost vanished. HE who was supposed to be Obama's Attack Dog in the Down and Dirty General Election Race. Vanished. Gone by-bye. Said Hillary might have been better.


Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, was planning to introduce a new line of criticism on Saturday, but aides said he canceled his appearance to keep the partisan attacks at bay. -- New York Times


Of course this is all supposed to be because of the Hurricane and how unseemly it would be to campaign and criticize during such a tragic event.

Oh, big sigh.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chaos v Calm

A hurricane -- called Ike -- is ravaging the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who did not evacuate in jeopardy, destroying or damaging billions of dollars worth of property, disrupting supplies of gasoline and oil, and otherwise causing chaos for millions of Americans.

In some ways, the Hurricane is emblematic of Chaos primeval. Shakespeare used the metaphor extensively in his late period play "The Tempest." In many respects the metaphor was intended to illuminate political considerations of his time, politics becoming more and more chaotic, eventually leading to the collapse of the British monarchy and civil war.

And we see Chaos as the guiding active principle of the McCain campaign for the Presidency. More and more the Old Man was becoming less and less stable as his campaign stumbled and faltered, kind of like the Old Man's mind, through numerous rough patches. Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis were put in charge of reversing the trends -- which showed decisive defeat looming -- and they commenced their Herculean task by offering a blizzard of lies and character assassination of the Opponent, Barack Obama, a blizzard which has only intensified as the campaign wears on. The selection of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska to be McCain's running "soulmate" as the campaign gears up for its climax caused untold uproar throughout the political firmament, uproar that hasn't ceased for a moment since the selection.

The Chaos that is the McCain campaign has almost totally eclipsed the Calm that is the Obama campaign.

And yet, once the Chaos of the storm passes, the Calm will remain. Peace will be restored. "We are such stuff as dreams are made of."

As the Chaos of the McCain campaign has intensified, the Obama campaign has come under increasing criticism from inside the Democratic firmament for its inability or unwillingness to "fight back." Obama has seen his poll numbers suffer substantially during the onslaught of Hurricane McCain, and Democrats are fearful that he is throwing away the election by not responding at all or not responding forcefully enough to the insults and lies thrown at him daily and almost hourly by the other side.

Given recent election history, it's a rational fear. Democrats have not responded sufficiently or appropriately to Republican smears, and they have lost the White House again and again in part because of it.

To see Obama now being as laid back and calm as he is while the damage is done almost unopposed by his campaign is terrifying to Democrats. We've seen this play before. And Democrats always lose.

Finally hearing the plaints of the masses, Obama promised yesterday to metaphorically release the hounds on the out of control and chaotic McCain campaign, to become "tougher" in the face of the onslaught. But whatever he did, he did not recapture the media attention. There was, after all, a Category 2 Hurricane to cover on the Gulf Coast, and did you know that gasoline prices may top $5.00 a gallon before the full extent of the storm's damage is understood?

Somehow this is good for McCain and his "soulmate," Herself of the Melting North.

And yet the Calm is what remains after the Storm has passed.

Those who complain about Obama's seemingly excessive lassitude in the face of Hurricane McCain have a point. Yet it's always seemed to me that he's approaching his quest for the White House -- if indeed he actually wants to be president -- with an almost Zen-like calm. He seems almost entirely unflappable. Often, it seems to me he doesn't really want to be president, that he has let loose of all "desire" for the office he ostensibly seeks. He simply allows himself to become the president if it should happen.

McCain, on the other hand, seems to be a furious -- yet mindless -- demand machine, swirling and twirling and making as much of a spectacle of himself as he possibly can. Surely his campaign will burn itself out before the election. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Surely no one is fooled by his lies and charades. Perhaps so, perhaps not.

There are times I honestly think none of the candidates will ascend to the Throne, that in fact the election, if held at all, will simply be seen as a failed "exercise" and Darth Cheney will emerge from one of his spider holes or bunkers to announce that "Everything is under control, I am in charge of the Government, go on about your business, that is all."

Like Putin, he will continue to exercise his control of the Government whether as an "Interim" Leader, or a Force Behind the Throne, or something else, no matter what happens in November.

He doesn't seem to be packing any bags, does he?

Shock Doctrine indeed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Street Fights and People Power

There were protests against American warmongering and imperialism, against the Democrats and the Republicans, against the Bush Regime, and against abortion in Denver and St. Paul during their conventions, and there was an overwhelming police presence in both cities. You really didn't hear much -- maybe nothing -- about the "ordinary" protests, because they were just like any other street protests during the past decade or so, with people marching and carrying signs against war, poverty, and injustice -- or whatever, following their permitted paths, and hearing the usual line up of speakers, and then going home or back to their jobs or whatever permitted activity they chose. No news.

On the other hand, there were "break away" protests in both cities, somewhat spontaneous seeming, but not really spontaneous at all, intended for one purpose: to demonstrate -- by defiance and disobedience -- that we live in an oppressive police state, and that if you "get out of line" in any way, or if you're just watching people get out of line, or if you're watching the police impose their will, you'll get maced, bludgeoned, teargassed, arrested, and hauled off to the hoosegow, and if you announce you're planning any sort of defiance or disobedience of Authority, you'll get your house raided, your stuff confiscated, and if you look likely or have been fingered by an informant, you'll not only be arrested and hauled off to the hoosegow, you'll be charged with terrorism.

This is, after all, America, The Surveillance State, The Security State, The Police State, The Anti-Terror State. Never forget where you are.

Many people in St. Paul were charged with "conspiracy to riot," which is a sort of catch-all charge in Minnesota for any kind of actual or proposed getting in the way of law enforcement or acts of civil disobedience. It's not really a "riot" charge at all. This is in some ways important legally because there was no "riot" in St. Paul, but there were mass arrests, and the only way to justify them is to assert that some of those arrested were planning nefarious activities that could become riots, or that might disturb the public peace, or in some other way inconvenience the Good Burghers of the Twin Cities.

For all the hoopla in the alternative media about what was going on in the Twin Cities, all the police repression and so on, the actions of the dissenting citizens were surprisingly mild, nothing compared to the street fights and open warfare between citizens and police forces in this country in the past, and the not so distant past at that. Of course part of the purpose of the defiance and disobedience of Authority was to show quite clearly what sort of militarized policing was deployed on the streets of Denver and St. Paul, against unarmed and essentially non-resisting citizens who sometimes did not obey "lawful orders."

It was an almost classic demonstration of civil disobedience in the face of inappropriate Authority, and unlike some previous examples of civil disobedience in this country, there was very little "passive resistance." There was very little resistance at all to arrest.

Much was made of the fact that journalists and lawyers were arrested. The emphasis may have been put on their arrests so as to get the attention of other journalists and lawyers who might otherwise be ignorant (by neglect or design) of what the advancement of the Police State really means. Whether that strategy was successful remains to be seen, but it clearly was a strategy.

Because so many ordinary citizens were swept up in the police raids and the mass arrests, many of whom were apparently merely passers-by or at most observers, there will no doubt be civil legal repercussions for the jurisdictions involved. They apparently don't care at this point, and some claim that no complaints have been filed, so they have no intention to respond to any citizen uproar about what they did.

We would do well to ask if this was a prelude to a return to People Power, or perhaps its reinvention, in America. There have been plenty of mass protests in America in the last decade, some of them turning violent, but few have actually utilized the tactics of civil disobedience and defiance of Authority which have been shown to be effective in mitigating, modifying, or even overthrowing repressive regimes world-wide and in this country.

Are Americans coming to understand that passive observation of the "show" simply isn't enough, and that simply voting for a predigested candidate won't necessarily achieve political objectives?

Were these actions by citizens and by police the catalysts for real change in this country, perhaps even a restoration of constitutional self-government and accountable Authority?

Remains to be seen, but it's possible.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Socialism for the Rich! Yay!

The rescue of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is supposed to help stabilize the Financial System, and that's supposed to be an Excellent Thing. The stock holders will take losses, according to the analysts, indeed, some will lose everything. But the investors are relieved, so they say, and international markets are pleased as punch. Taxpayers may be on the hook for trillions of dollars, but what's a few trillion here and there when the System must be saved?

It's another example, in a very long string of them now, of the Bush Government and its enablers rushing to the aid of the billionaire class and telling the ordinary schmuck in Modesto that he shouldn't a bought that big new house (or that barely habitable old one) in the first place, too bad, so sad. Scram!

It's an old story, one of the oldest in this country, and it is a story that has given rise to populist uprisings time and again, but for some reason, this time, nothing. Not more than a peep out of the lumpen proles, when they are heard from at all. By the millions, they are losing their homes, and we hear nothing from them but for an occasional tear-jerker in the paper about how hard it has been on some people. There are no movements, no marches, there's no growing outrage from the masses, nothing.

Quiet as a mouse.

Everyone is as quiet as a mouse, and the economists are unanimous in blaming the victims.

Their fault they were so easily led to perdition.

Meanwhile, trillions are made available to the billionaires to ensure none of their privilege and position is affected in any way. That IS the System.

Until masses of Americans reach the point of ultimate pissed-offed-ness, and until they realize they can actually do something about it through united effort and pressure (as well as occasionally inconveniencing the billionaires), the System will continue to be saved by serving the interests of billionaires alone.

Progressives and Populists alike should be joining hands to make sure the People do reach that point, but to date they are not. No, Progressives are obsessed with programs and legalism, Populists are still wallowing in theocracy and arbitrary authoritarianism. Consequently the billionaires make out like bandits, rights and programs are diminished, and we slide ever closer to Armageddon.

We need a "class war" in which the well off middle class Progressives, the internet enterpreurs who pose as Progressives, the DFH "anarchists," and the jacked up populists wondering why God's Plan is throwing them out on the streets combine forces to once againcurb and ultimately geld the billionaires.

But that means actually doing things, like shutting down business as usual, exposing and shaming government operatives in the service of the billionaire class, taking over governments on the local and state levels, and pushing hard on federal officials.

It means moving toward and then accepting a level of Socialism for the People that is common nearly everywhere else in the civilized world but still resented here. It means complete top to bottom prison and justice overhauls that drastically reduce prison populations and it means eliminating private prisons and all the corruption that goes with them.

It means taxing the rich into oblivion if they utter a peep of protest. It means deconsolidating media ownership, even seizing some media in the name of the People.

We could go on and on, but the fact is, we have to do something. And do it fast. Something beyond merely sitting passively, enjoying the show.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Progressive! Yes, we are Progressive -- Populists!

I haven't dealt with this topic for a while, but Digby has a thought provoking post up about the need for Democrats to reclaim their Progressive Populist roots and have done with over-intellectualizing everything.

Hm. Interesting.

Of course the problem is that terms like "progressive" and "populist" have no real meaning any more. On the internet, anyone opposed to Bush and Cheney is by default a "Progressive". And the "Progressive Agenda" consists primarily of getting rid of Bush and Cheney -- eventually.

"Populists," on the other hand, are seen primarily as dangers to the realm and privilege and therefore are to be ignored or dismissed. Or they are to be used and manipulated for pecuniary and political gain. Don't think the interenet isn't about status and privilege? Ha!

I'd like to think that "Progressive Populism" is possible, but it honestly hasn't been -- at least in urban areas -- since the beginning of Progressivism a century ago as a Republican elite response/reaction to the Democratic (and largely rural) Populism that threatened to turn the United States into a paradise for the rural proletariat. Can't have that. Progressivism is "elitist" by definition. Populism is anti-elitist on the surface, but has long been devoted to authoritarianism.

See the problem?

As I've said before, Internet Progressivism (as opposed to academic Progressivism) is essentially a mask for slightly leftish Libertarianism. This became fairly if not completely clear during the recent police actions in St. Paul, and to a lesser extent Denver, that were designed primarily to suppress free speech and assembly rights and to assert overwhelming government/private security force against a handful of obstreperous skinny youth, citizens, journalists, and lawyers during the national conventions of the major political parties.

Police forces were arrayed overbearingly against "anarchist/terrorists" -- which means everyone who does not instantly obey commands barked from Authority. The excuse for the police action was a spate of very minor vandalism in St. Paul. Over 800 were arrested, thousands were tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, harassed with explosives, beaten, bludgeoned, pepper-sprayed, and maced. Prior to the start of the convention in St. Paul, authorities acting on questionable warrants and paid informants conducted numerous raids on housing units and assembly sites where these "anarchist/terrorists" were plotting and planning their supposedly "criminal" protests. These raids continued through the convention.

Some "Progressive" A-List internet sites covered these issues and actions extensively. FDL and Glenn Greenwald's Salon venue particularly. It's fairly unusual for the main lefty blogosphere to take more than passing interest in the passe activity of "protest demonstrations," so it was somewhat surprising that there was so much interest in the actions of police and protestors in St. Paul last week. Especially when the protestors were such icky-dirty no account hippies.

But then it became clear: for the bloggers, this was really an issue of constitutional rights, primarily the rights of journalists and lawyers -- many of whom were arrested or harassed during the week -- and secondarily the rights of mere citizens. The focus on "rights" as opposed to the issues being addressed by the protests (which were hardly mentioned at all) is a tip off that a libertarian interest was being followed. There's nothing wrong with that, but that's not "Progressive."

And yet, on the internet, it is. For on the internet, the conflation of leftish libertarianism and Progressivism is universal and almost complete. And they are not even remotely the same thing.

Now we're seeing an attempted conflation of Progressivism (aka leftish Libertarianism) and Populism. And that could get really ugly. As is pointed out in Digby's post linked above Populism has been hijacked by the wingnuts, and we ("Progressives") need to start getting it back from them.

Uhhh... now hold on there, sport.

Corporatists and Imperialists have highjacked Populism, not wingnuts. Populism has always been infested with wingnuttery and religious lunacy. Read up on it. Or, if you're old enough, remember. Populism was a dynamo for the Democratic Party a long time ago, but Populism was never quite what some academics and bloggers seem to think it was, a White Working Class movement. No, it was primarily a White Rural movement; the urban white working classes (at least from the mid 19th century to the Depression in the 20th) were revolutionaries, socialists, communists, anarchists, and what have you, but they were not Populists. Populism is now and has always been fiscally imprudent but culturally conservative, even reactionary. Thus, when corporatists and imperialists divorced themselves from the Progressives who had been their chief policy operatives and implementers until the Reagan Era, it was all but axiomatic they would shift to a Populist (reactionary and now largely Republican due to the Southern Strategy) "base" to carry on their quest for Ultimate Power.

The Urban Working Class is still largely Democratic, though their numbers and powers are waning. The successor to the Populists, the Suburban White lower middle class (rural America having been essentially depopulated since the heyday of Populism), has become a rich field for Republican exploitation. That's the field Democrats want to "get back."

To do it, Democratic strategists are always willing to throw away any and (almost) all long time Democratic constituencies in order to appeal to the lumpenproles of the white lower middle class suburbanites who have been conditioned for decades -- by their churches if not by their working and living environments -- to favor the Republican "small government, rule of law, self-reliance, God loving" party.

The problem is that Democratic strategists believe the only way to get back the white lower middle class suburbanites is to pretend to be Republicans.

It isn't working.

Next post, I'll try to suggest some alternatives.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Laura Flanders -- and friends -- explain it all for you

What's wrong with the St Paul lockdown and roundups.

Gena Berglund, of the Minnesota National Lawyers Guild and Karen Greenberg of the Center on Law and Security talk about the post-Seattle security state.

We have to go farther than fretting about this or that journalist, this or that lawyer, this or that "anarchist" snatched off the streets or rounded up.

The Seattle WTO protests in 1999 are the alleged model for the need for overwhelming force used against citizens. But it is a class and power issue: a demonstration that those with money, power and connections are immune, anyone else is fair game for the truncheons, the gas and the cages. They try to create a divide between "good" and "bad" protesters, so that the public will despise everyone who is rounded up -- because they are "bad." The ordinary citizens of St Paul have to say no!

Class war? Absolutely. And the police forces are employed to maintain the advantage of the rich and powerful.

Anyone who isn't one of them is a potential target.

St Paul Follow Up

So what have we learned boys and girls?

In St Paul, planning -- and announcing your plans -- to protest and commit acts of civil disobedience at and around a gathering of very rich and very powerful Republicans will get your house raided by Agents of the Law, will get you pre-emptively arrested, and will get you charged with conspiracy, riot, and the furtherance of terrorism. Got that? The lesson? Keep your mouth shut, stay off the intertubes, keep your head down.

In St Paul, acting in any way that is not previously vetted and approved by the Authorities, or just being where anyone is or might act that way, will get you arbitrarily harrassed, surrounded, blasted, gassed, maced, peppersprayed, beatup, zip-tied, and hauled off to the Detention Center for Processing, where you also might get beaten bloody. It's all good. The lesson? Stay in your home, say nothing, do nothing, do not go out on the streets, do not witness events for yourself, do not question Authority.

In St Paul, if you are a journalist simply trying to witness and report what is going on, you might get beaten, gassed, arrested, held, have your equipment confiscated, your press credentials withdrawn. But then, lucky you, you'll be Processed ahead of Ordinary Citizens. The lesson? Stay away from conflict scenes, take testimony, attend press availabilities, do not witness and do not record on your own, do not defend your colleagues, do not question Authority.

In St Paul, if you are a Citizen, you have no rights the Authorities are bound to respect, not so long as very rich and very powerful Republicans are in Convention Assembled. And so you will understand that, a selection of you will be beaten, gassed, rounded up and arbitrarily "detained" and arrested by the hundreds, just so the lesson sinks in.

Yes indeed. This is what a Police State looks like.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Liveblogging today's riots in St Paul

From the Minnesota Independent:

7:31: Riot police have charged the crowd, scattering the crowd, tackling one person. People tripping. Crowd chanting, “Let them go!”

7:35: Overheard by an onlooker: “I’ve been a St. Paul guy forever. This is TIME Magazine shit!”

7:42: Marchers are now on the move again, heading towards John Ireland, but east of the site of the original standoff.

7:43: Marching down the median on John Ireland, the automatic sprinklers just turned on, startling everyone. (Sprinkler hiss sounds a lot like pepperspray being sprayed… Also, it’s wet.) Marchers skipping through the sprinklers. No cops nearby.

7:47: Bike police buzzing past to head off march line overshot as marchers turn. Protesters are going down the I-94 onramp. Bike police in pursuit, blowing whistles. Crowd ran but gave up trying to beat police. Various scattered groups seem to have reunited in one larger group.

7:51: Riot police showing up in ATVs and vans. Riot police “pouring out of minivans.” Aim of march: to end up at Xcel by the time McCain takes the podium.

7:52: Right turn on Marion, toward Sears. Police look confused, but haven’t yet made an attempt to block the turn.

7:53: Guntzel says that for the first time this week, protesters seem organized and in control, even as they improvise. Cops seem confused and are hustling to catch up.

7:56: Crowd singing “We all live in a fascist police state” to the tune of “We all live in a yellow submarine.”

7:57: Lone SPPD squad car driving the opposite direction of traffic on the other side of the median — the only police presence ahead of the marchers.

7:59: Crowd reaches University and Marion, crosses University, heads toward capitol. Police unable to stop the march.

8:00: Bike police are forming a line on University at Rice, right outside of Greyhound Station.

8:01: Green and blue smoke everywhere. Smoke cannisters being thrown. Tear gas cannisters being exploded. Riot police are here. Guntzel and five other journalists engulfed in smoke.

8:02: Protesters scattered. Only a few people remain, but police are trying to scare them off with smoke bombs.

8:05: Six riot police are firing rifles, likely at protesters who are down an alley. Guntzel just passed an officer with an M-16.

The "riot" is still going on, check it out at the Minnesota Independent

Please note: the only violence is from the police.

Despite some vandalism during the last few days, absolutely the only violence against people in St Paul has been by the Officers of the Law.

What are they so afraid of?

There is no Revolution. There is no armed struggle or rebellion or insurgency. Nothing.

And yet the police forces arrayed in Minneapolis and St. Paul are acting like they are fighting all the demons of hell.

It's insane.

No war, no KKK, no fascist USA!

Video is of Rage Against The Machine defiantly performing acapella for the crowd after the police banned their performance at another venue. Lifted from via Crooks and Liars.

F*ck the police, they'll go acapella! ~ After their attempt to take the stage was stopped by police, Rage Against the Machine took to the crowd with an acapella performance. Armed with only a megaphone, and thousands of fans, RATM played a 10min acapella set of Bulls on Parade and Killing in the Name of. Check out for exclusive coverage.

It's 3:00AM -- Canaries in the Coal Mine

A friend called me yesterday while I was finishing up my work for the day. "Have you heard," he said, "they're tasering protesters in Minneapolis and St. Paul." I said no, I hadn't heard that. He said it was in the paper, I'd better take a look. I told him some of what I had been reading and seeing on the Internets, about the numerous assaults by police and the mass arrests. He hadn't heard about the numbers arrested, had no idea so many had been hauled away.

Then I got around to checking out FDL's extensive and disturbing coverage of the police overkill in the Twin Cities. I'd been following Glenn Greenwald's less extensive but equally outraged coverage and had been spending a good deal of time in a kind of "dialogue" with various commenters there about the events unfolding outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. So, clearly I had missed a good deal of the news.

One of the noticeable aspects of the reports of what was going on in Minneapolis and St. Paul was that apparently very few people cared about what happened to a few hundred "anarchists" who got out of line. They broke windows!!! And they deserved every bit of what they got. There is nothing worse in the history of Domestic Terrorism than the breaking of windows!!!! Except for the balloons full of urine. And the bags of feces.

Then there were the reports of what happened to Keith Smith, 17, of Menomonie, Wisconsin.

According to reports, he'd actually stopped a line of police by sitting down in the street, shaking his sistrum, and being photographed. His action evoked something of the admiration people around the world have for the brave fellow in Beijing who stopped a line of tanks headed to Tienanmin Square to put down the revolt there in 1989.

Somewhat later -- how much later, I don't know -- he was assaulted by five police officers and beaten before he was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center where he was held for a couple of hours and then released. His injuries are documented here.

And he is one of many peaceful and non resisting citizens and demonstrators who have been brutalized by the hyper militarized police forces deployed in St. Paul to protect and defend the Republican National Convention from the crazed youth who otherwise would interfere with their party.

As I watched some of the videos on this page, I became angrier and angrier that this sort of outrageous police overreaction continues in this country every time there is a significant gathering of the rich and the powerful in a city, gatherings which are by their nature subject to protest by citizens.

On a smaller scale the same thing happened in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. The police there also received $50 million and direction from the Secret Service and the FBI; but in St. Paul and Minneapolis (where many of the raids and pre-convention arrests took place), the brutality and the constant police instigated conflict, as well as the mass arrests and brutalization while in custody reached a new level -- for this year.

Of course it is nothing new. Since the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, there's been repeated street warfare and street theatre again and again all over the country, large scale peaceful marches and protests being broken up and put down brutally.

Yet strangely, sports fans continue to riot whenever their team wins or loses, and there is little more than a shrug from the hyper-vigilant and militarized police forces. Strangely, enormous protests against the Iraq War, protests organized by a coalition of Communists, have gone off almost without a hitch. And strangely, too, Americans tend to look at these things -- when they look at all -- with a sort of distate and with boredom.

How do we break the cycle?

These incidents are the canaries in the coalmine for our deteriorating, vanishing rights as citizens of a free and prosperous land. Many Americans simply don't care what's happening to scruffy youths who think they have the right to mouth off to Authority. Yet what happens to those scruffy youth now is quite likely to be what happens to anyone in the future who tries to exercise civil and political rights against the orders and wishes of the Powers That Be. For now, the youths being brutalized by the Authorities in St. Paul are not like you and me, any more than the criminals being held in our bulging prisons and jails are like the rest of us. They are separate and different and so they can be -- and are -- treated with surpassing indifference by the rest of us, and with apalling brutality by the Authorities.

But what happens to them could happen to any of us.

And that's what those who do the brutalizing and those who are indifferent to -- or celebrate it -- need to come to understand.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goin' Balls Out

This is absurd. But this IS America, so why should I be surprised?

Terrorism charges lodged against protesters at GOP convention
Prosecutors in Ramsey County, Minn., have formally charged eight alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee -- one of the groups organizing protests at the GOP convention in St. Paul -- with terrorism-related charges, The Times' P.J. Huffstutter reports.

Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty they could face.

It appears to be the first time criminal charges have been filed under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal Patriot Act.

The RNC Welcoming Committee is a self-described anarchist group that has worked for months planning disruptions at the convention. Police blamed the group for sparking violence during Monday's antiwar protest in St. Paul. Although most of the estimated 10,000 people at the march were peaceful, police say a splinter group of about 200 people harassed delegates, smashed windows and started at least one fire.

Police have arrested nearly 300 people during the confrontations this week, according to the Associated Press. Huffstutter reported on the protests for the blog Tuesday. And this morning, we told the story of journalist Amy Goodman's arrest at Monday's march.

-- Kate Linthicum

Protest and civil disobedience are now officially Terrorism in this country. As we knew would happen once Joe Biden's Patriot Act and all the various tweaks to the various surveillance bills had settled in.

Protest? Yes, sure, as long as you have the approval of the Government and protest in approved ways, about approved topics, under approved surveillance, and then return to your jobs and families.

Civil disobedience?

Off to Gitmo with you. Or to one of the domestic camps.

I've been in an uncommonly nostalgic mood these last few days, maybe ancestral memories of Chicago '68 roiling my brain, but these latest charges of terrorism for planning to protest and be disobedient, remind me a bit of the hoopla around the Lodi Terror Cell (that few remember) which was broken up by intrepid FBI agents and a paid informant. There was a trial. The Pakistani ice cream truck driver was released after a mistrial. His son, who had gone to Pakistan to fetch a bride, and was charged with attending a terrorist training camp, was convicted. On the testimony of the informant. And an FBI agent who lied.

A summary of the
sorry tale

Central to the case was a Pakistani immigrant and former Lodi resident whom the FBI recruited in Bend, Ore., where he was working as a convenience store clerk. The informant, Naseem Khan, 32, got the FBI’s attention a month after the terrorist attacks when he told agents he saw Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, worshiping and lecturing at the small mosque in Lodi, where Khan lived in 1998 and 1999.

In three later interviews, Khan said he saw two other terrorists – wanted in connection with the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania – frequenting the mosque.

FBI agents said they quickly dismissed the claimed sightings as highly unlikely. Most terrorism experts and federal officials do not think that Zawahiri ventured outside Afghanistan or Pakistan after 1995.

But despite concluding that the claims were unreliable, the FBI in November 2001 hired Khan – who speaks Urdu and Pashto, two of Pakistan’s languages – to infiltrate Lodi’s large Muslim community.

During the three years leading to the arrest of the Hayats, Khan was paid nearly $230,000 in salary and expenses.

Defense attorneys Griffin and Mojadiddi relentlessly attacked Khan’s credibility in his multiple appearances on the stand. The approach eventually forced prosecutors to admit to the jury that they had no evidence Zawahiri had ever been in Lodi.

The prosecution, meanwhile, leaned heavily on the confessions of the two Hayats obtained after hours of interrogation at Sacramento FBI headquarters and on satellite photographs of a location in Pakistan that matched one of the varying descriptions of the camp that Hamid Hayat said he attended.

When the Lodi case broke last June, government officials initially said they had uncovered a full-blown terrorist cell.

Keith Slotter, then-head of the FBI’s Sacramento office, said that “various individuals connected to Al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area in various capacities, including individuals who have received terrorist training abroad with the specific intent to initiate a terrorist attack in the United States.”

An early U.S. Justice Department affidavit, later withdrawn, implied that the arrest of the Hayats was just the beginning, saying that “other individuals in the Lodi community” had been programmed in Pakistani camps to attack hospitals and food stores.

And the imams who supposedly led this cell of terror? They went back to Pakistan without charges.

Um. Hm.