Tuesday, April 21, 2009


TThe Taliban are not what most of us would wish on Pakistan or anywhere else, but the April 16 New York Times gives a hint of what is unfolding there, and why we can't "fix" it:

Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan
By JANE PERLEZ and PIR ZUBAIR SHAH, April 16, 2009


What this story makes clear is that the Taliban is either leading or unleashing a long-overdue social revolution in the countryside, a rebellion against the power of the big landlords, and that is what all the "experts" have been so concerned about, why they fear and predict this "insurgency" will spread to all of Pakistan!

I've been shaking my head over every story coming out of Pakistan for years, asking: "What is really going on below the surface? This doesn't make sense!" We've been shown a country going unstable, but no satisfactory clue as to why. Finally here's a clue. We can be sure there's more, much more, but this piece of the story at least makes sense!

There are indications in the story that the fact that peasants were rising against their landlords under Taliban leadership was well known to journalists, perhaps five years ago, certainly by three years ago; yet only now has the Times deemed it necessary to share this information with the broader elite, the professionals, academics and "top 1%" who make up most of its readership. A Google search shows that the story was not picked up by other media; perhaps it came with a tag indicating "not for mass consumption"!

How does this square with Bhutto's land reform? Was that incomplete or corupt, leaving unfinished business? What about the Taliban in Afghanistan is unclear. Is the same thing happening there? The revolution of 1978-79 was also a revolt against the landlords, which failed and was crushed despite half a million Soviet troops trying to save it, but the class conflict in the countryside must still be there, as presumably the surviving landlords or their families returned to claim their land. Where is the reporter who will tell us whether unleashing a peasant rebellion is also powering the Taliban's success in Afghanistan?

Nor is there any hint here as to how this affects Pakistan's large urban working class. Are the Taliban championing their cause also? Could urban working people tolerate its call for Sharia Law? Pakistan's labor movement represents barely 2% of the non-agricultural workforce, yet it is active, militant, uniting, and winning victories, working with the basically corrupt Pakistan Peoples Party. What are their leaders thinking and saying? What they will do if Pakistan goes critically unstable? Will they be able to lead the working class? Is there an underground workers party that will suddenly emerge? Will they then join with the Taliban-led peasants or oppose them in a battle of competing revolutions? Our media rarely gives a hint that they exist at all. But without this information, our ability to understand the danger of and motives for US intervention in Pakistan, and our understanding of the need to block the Obama Administration from broadening US involvement, are very weak.

The Pakistan crisis has the potential to develop into a nightmare: US troops and mercenaries, with vast fleets of armed robots, wading into the midst of a titanic struggle between a long-overdue peasant revolution, led by religious fanatics, and a long-overdue workers revolution led by we don't know who, in a nuclear-armed nation ten times the size of Iraq, with India sitting on the wings ready to take advantage! This must not be allowed to happen!

The US can't fix Pakistan or save it from itself. Our "Empire" evidently cannot by its nature bring progress and democracy to anyone, no matter what the intentions of the people at the top, any more than the Soviet Red Army could save a revolution in Afghanistan. Theirs just wasn't that kind of an army anymore, and neither is ours. We've done enough damage already.

For better or for worse, the people of Pakistan (and Afghanistan) must be left free to work this out for themselves! Perhaps we do have a role to play though in persuading India to stay out of it too!

Are WE ready to take on the Empire?

In response to Alternet article "Neocon Fantasies of Empire Crushed: the New Global Reality", By Mark Engler, Foreign Policy in Focus. Posted April 21, 2009:

Are we the people ready for a serious battle to shut down the Empire, close all the bases and bring the troops home? If Obama were to lead us down that path are we ready, willing and able to take his back, with the Republicans and the media baying for blood and using their power to "manufacture outrage" about God knows what? Do most of us even have access to good information about what's going on in the world?

Many commenters deride Obama for not taking on the military and the Empire. But before we lay this all on him, we need to ask are WE ready?

No, we have some serious organizing to do, not least of which is building an alternative media that the millions will turn to, with our own foreign correspondents to give us a people's-eye view of the world. Even AlterNet readers are not well informed, as we sometimes discover. It has great writers, editors, thinkers; but imagine how the situation would be different if we were getting regular reports from AlterNet's South Asia correspondent, or better yet our own Pakistan correspondent? But as far as I can tell the alternative media are not yet even able to support a Capitol Hill reporter, as witness the fact that AlterNet didn't pick up on the House bill to authorize a naval blockade of Iran until three weeks after it was introduced and it already had 100 co-sponsors!

Obama is doing the right things for right now, lowering tensions, opening doors, defusing situations, and encouraging us to organize and develop the habit and ability to make ourselves heard in Washington. The test will come when we are able to *demand* more - with a voice that's millions strong, unity that is based on experience and good information, and a megaphone that can't be drowned out by Fox. (In this regard, making good use of the window Obama has opened to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed is absolutely key to laying the foundation for such a movement!)

When the time is right, Obama will either respond to our pressure and change directions, or we'll find a new leader. Perhaps he's only our John the Baptist; only time will tell. But even if it's the latter, we'll be building on ground he helped us prepare.

And prepare we must, urgently, because time is short. Engler's article is a good and fascinating read, and I agree with his prescription for the present in his conclusion, but he fails to appreciate the depth of the economic crisis. When he talks about "now" and "later" he's apparently thinking in decades. I'm thinking years. A few years.

The crisis of Empire and of US hegemony will unfold rapidly, with unforeseen and dramatic turns of event. One thing can be predicted with some confidence however: other governments won't "decide" to replace the dollar as the world's currency; rather, there will at some point be a panic and a race for the exit!

We have serious work to do: build the alternative media, inform, teach and organize the people, and build the pressure on Washington - and on Obama. As Joe Hill once said: "Don't kvetch, organize!" (Did he really say that?)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Major News Blackout

Check out this story on Alternet if you haven’t seen it yet:

Is Geithner's Game Up? Damning Report Calls BS on His Smoke-and-Mirrors Bank Rescue Plan
By Mike Whitney, CounterPunch. Posted April 13, 2009

Is this a Big Story? Or What?

This is Huge!

This cuts right to the bone on the question of whether we have a government that will be on our side, or whether it will sell us down the river into real serfdom!

So did our media give it the play it deserved?

NO! For the most part our lickspittle mass media IGNORED this story!

*Look* at the results I got from searching for it over the past week on Yahoo News and Google News, searching on various keywords:

Wire Services:
Reuters covered this story;
AP, UPI, Bloomburg, AFP, and Alertnet did NOT!

Fox News, CNN Money and ABC News reported this story;
CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN (regular news), PBS, NPR and the BBC apparently did NOT!

National newspapers:
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported this story. (The WSJ only reported it yesterday.)
USA Today, the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Times apparently did NOT!

Some regional newspapers:
The Boston Globe covered the story;
the Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, St.Louis Post Dispatch, Denver Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencier apparently did NOT report it!

Some local newspapers:
The Charlotte Observer reported this story.
The Baltimore Sun, Worcester Telegram-Gazette, Little Rock Democrat Gazette, Jackson Clarion Ledger, Springfield Republican, and the Little Rock Democrat Gazette apparently did NOT!

The New York Post and the Boston Herald reported this story.
The New York Daily News, Newsday and the Chicago Sun Times apparently did NOT.

ISP Services:
Yahoo News reported it, three times.
msn/msnbc did NOT.

Alternative Media:
Alternet reported this story today.
Surprisingly, the Huffington Post, TruthDig and CommonDreams have NOT! (I’m not sure I understand this part of the picture!)

All of these sources get Reuters wire, and they all monitor Yahoo news, so either they didn't consider the report of the Congressional Panel established six months ago to oversee the use of nearly $1 Trillion of our money to be important, or they killed the story!

Outraged? You should be!

Surprised? You shouldn't be! This is their standard MO!

So it's up to us to get this story out!

Perhaps anticipating this treatment from the Mainstream Media, Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congessional Oversight Panel and one of the country’s top bankruptcy lawyers, also released an 8-minute report on Youtube! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bRerUGAOAw)
Check it out! She uses very diplomatic language, but her message is clear to a careful listener.

Then forward this story and the Youtube link to your friends and relations, and any lists you’re on, and ask them to pass it on! Be sure to include your Representative and Senators!

Then write your local paper, TV station and NPR outlet and give them Hell for killing this story!

Then Organize!

News to the People!

News Blackout!