Author Archive for


Mi Papá

The Malecon at sunset. By Diogo Salles.

My father was an ardent anti-Fidelista.

My mother has told me that he never trusted Fidel Castro. He did not celebrate as he overthrew the Batista regime. He always felt that his ascent to power would lead to no good. And this was before Fidel came out as a Communist. (If you’re not hip to Cuban history, Fidel didn’t come out as a Communist until 1961, and was even tacitly supported by the US in his overthrow of Batista, whose regime was no longer tenable.)

And after Fidel began turning Cuba into a one-party state, things got worse for my father. He was firmly ensconced in the middle class. He owned his own barber shop. He was a member of the petit bourgeoisie. And Fidel nationalized everything. Dad lost his shop. Friends were arrested.

My family left Cuba as soon as it could. And my dad always longed for it. But ill-health and a hatred of the Communists always prevented him from going back to visit. I remember that one of the happiest times of his life was when his brother came to New York for a month. Suddenly the years and the distance vanished, and they could pretend to be taking a cafecito at a corner bar.

I don’t know how my dad would have reacted to President Obama’s initiation of normalization of relations with Cuba. His pain may have been too deep. Sometimes the past is not past, but a living gash in your soul.

I am his son, but I cannot speak for him. I would like to think that if there is an afterlife, his pain has left him, and he has granted his blessing.

I can only speak for myself. And as a son who inherited his distaste of the caudillo Fidel, I can say this: the isolation of Cuba has only isolated us.

Continue reading ‘Mi Papá’


Night owl chat – Cuba

Music from the land of my fathers and mothers.


Cachao – Guajira clasica


Celia Cruz – La negra tiene tumbao


Continue reading ‘Night owl chat – Cuba’


On Death Cults and the Modern World

Today as the US woke up, it was greeted with horrific news. The Pakistani Taliban attacked a school run by the Pakistani Army and slaughtered over 140 civilians, mostly children. Yes, the school wasn’t a military school, but an ordinary school for kids. At the same time, a car bombing in Yemen carried out by Al Qaeda claimed the lives of 20 children. And over the weekend, a crazed gunman with pretensions of Islamic State membership took a restaurant hostage in Sydney, causing his own death and the death of two hostages when the Australian special forces stormed the building.

I think the fallacy that the Taliban and AQ are “freedom fighters” combating “Western hegemony” has been put to rest. The last I checked, the children in Yemen and Peshawar weren’t on the CIA’s payroll. What the Taliban, AQ, IS, and their affiliates are is death cults. Any legitimate grievance they may have had has long faded into the rear view mirror. They now perpetuate violence, all in the service of a dark utopia. That utopia is being partly realized in the IS-held sections of Iraq like Mosul, and the results aren’t pretty, even for orthodox, conservative Muslims. It is a cult of death and austerity, a yearning for a return to some prelapsarian state which never existed. It is a search for a dark Eden which never was but should have been.

But, of course, a death cult isn’t peculiar to the Muslim world. We have our own versions here.

Continue reading ‘On Death Cults and the Modern World’


On #CRomnibus and purity pouting

Well, a hint of the next 2 years has been washing over us.

The Continuing Resolution Omnibus, which will more or less keep government funded through September 2015 is slouching towards 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And people are pissed.

It has giveaways to the banksters! It tries to gut Dodd-Frank! It cuts the EPA! It kills DC’s weed law!

Well, Charlies, what the fuck did you expect?

Continue reading ‘On #CRomnibus and purity pouting’






Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.








  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Steve Benen

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.



Blog Stats

  • 28,741,280 hits
December 2014
« Nov    

WH Flickr











More Photos