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eb 2

Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.  

Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here.  This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.  

Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features blues harmonica player James Cotton. Enjoy!



James Cotton Blues Band - Born In Missouri

“ However evil men may be they dare not be openly hostile to virtue, and so when they want to attack it they pretend to find it spurious, or impute crimes to it ”

  -- Francois La Rochefoucauld


News and Opinion

Obama’s Cheney? "Assassination Czar" John Brennan Brings Legacy of Drone War and Torture to CIA Nod
Obama’s pick for CIA director defended drone attacks

President Barack Obama will nominate his top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

Earlier this year, Brennan defended the Obama administration’s use of targeted drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, a practice that has garnered criticism from human rights advocates. ...

Brennan is a 25-year veteran of the agency, and was nearly nominated to the lead post at the beginning of Obama’s administration, but withdrew himself from consideration after criticism involving the “enhanced interrogation” policies favored by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama Signs NDAA Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention; Obama Orders Assassinations with No Oversight

Strikes Pound Pakistan in Obama's Ongoing Drone War

A series of drone attacks killed at least 10 people on Sunday in a continuation of the Obama administration's drone war on Pakistan.

Corporate media reports say the attack included missiles targeting three compounds that were hideouts that held militants or Taliban fighters in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan.

But exactly who has died, let alone why they were targeted, in this most recent attack is as yet unclear.

"We are not sure who was killed on the ground, whether they were indeed militants as claimed by the intelligence sources," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reports. "Normally, there are civilian casualties as well, particularly when compounds and houses are hit."

The Financial War Against the Economy at Large

The emerging financial oligarchy seeks to shift taxes off banks and their major customers (real estate, natural resources and monopolies) onto labor. Given the need to win voter acquiescence, this aim is best achieved by rolling back everyone’s taxes. The easiest way to do this is to shrink government spending, headed by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yet these are the programs that enjoy the strongest voter support. This fact has inspired what may be called the Big Lie of our epoch: the pretense that governments can only create money to pay the financial sector, and that the beneficiaries of social programs should be entirely responsible for paying for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not the wealthy. This Big Lie is used to reverse the concept of progressive taxation, turning the tax system into a ploy of the financial sector to levy tribute on the economy at large.

Financial lobbyists quickly discovered that the easiest ploy to shift the cost of social programs onto labor is to conceal new taxes as user fees, using the proceeds to cut taxes for the elite 1%. This fiscal sleight-of-hand was the aim of the 1983 Greenspan Commission. It confused people into thinking that government budgets are like family budgets, concealing the fact that governments can finance their spending by creating their own money. They do not have to borrow, or even to tax (at least, not tax mainly the 99%).

The Greenspan tax shift played on the fact that most people see the need to save for their own retirement. The carefully crafted and well-subsidized deception at work is that Social Security requires a similar pre-funding – by raising wage withholding. The trick is to convince wage earners it is fair to tax them more to pay for government social spending, yet not also to ask the banking sector to pay similar a user fee to pre-save for the next time it itself will need bailouts to cover its losses. Also asymmetrical is the fact that nobody suggests that the government set up a fund to pay for future wars, so that future adventures such as Iraq or Afghanistan will not “run a deficit” to burden the budget. So the first deception is to treat only Social Security and medical care as user fees. The second is to aggravate matters by insisting that such fees be paid long in advance, by pre-saving.

There is no inherent need to single out any particular area of public spending as causing a budget deficit if it is not pre-funded. It is a travesty of progressive tax policy to only oblige workers whose wages are less than (at present) $105,000 to pay this FICA wage withholding, exempting higher earnings, capital gains, rental income and profits. The raison d’être for taxing the 99% for Social Security and Medicare is simply to avoid taxing wealth, by falling on low wage income at a much higher rate than that of the wealthy.

Read the whole article linked below.  It is the very best simple description that I have ever found of the Social Security system and how it works.  The article explains why the Trust Fund is irrelevant and that what is the most significant cause of the projected shortfalls of the system is the way that the greedy 1%ers are taking almost all (93%) of the gains from productivity for themselves, rather than sharing them with the workers.  

It was hard to excerpt it to make sense, so here are some highlights of the article:

Why Social Security Can't go Bankrupt

It is a logical impossibility for Social Security to go bankrupt. We can voluntarily choose to suspend or eliminate the program, but it could never fail because it “ran out of money.” This belief is the result of a common error: conceptualizing Social Security from the micro (individual) rather than the macro (economy-wide) perspective. It’s not a pension fund into which you put your money when you are young and from which you draw when you are old. It’s an immediate transfer from workers today to retirees today. That’s what it has always been and that’s what it has to be–there is no other possible way for it to work. ...

There is another trust fund issue and it is the one related to the expected increase in the ratio of retirees to workers over the next couple of decades. This would presumably cause a net drain on the fund since payments to retirees might increase relative to tax revenues. This is actually the specific phenomenon to which many people are referring when they say that Social Security is going to go bankrupt. However, a) there is no guarantee this will occur since rising productivity could drive up wages sufficiently to compensate (although our trend of stagnating wages relative to profits is frustrating this) and b) even if that did occur, this hardly means that Social Security is kaput. Any shortfall can always be addressed in a very straightforward and supremely logical fashion: raise taxes or lower benefits (and it is exceedingly like that even if this occurs, we aren’t talking about anything drastic). It bears emphasizing, however, that such changes would still be a function of productivity and have absolutely, positively nothing to do with how much money we have or haven’t saved up. Funding, finances, money, taxes, etc. are part of the coordination mechanism, not the feasibility.

The lesson from this is that if we want Social Security to “be there” when we retire, our efforts must be focused on increasing productivity and making sure in particular that these increases get passed on to workers in the form of higher wages. But raising the value of the trust fund is, in this respect, pointless. ... There appears to be every indication that productivity increases should be sufficient for the Baby Boomers to retire AND allow the rest of us enjoy even higher standards of living (assuming the compression of wages ends). That’s good news. In fact, it’s the only news that’s important.

American Dynasties Perpetuated by "Cliff" Estate Tax Deal


More at The Real News

Tax Avoidance On the Rise: It's Twice the Amount of Social Security and Medicare

Three trillion dollars a year. That's how much the wealthiest Americans avoid through the system of subsidies and schemes and sweet deals that deprive middle-class workers of their earned benefits. That's three times more than the deficit. That's enough for a full-time job for every middle-class household in America.

[follow link for details]

And the sound of wrist-slapping echoed throughout the canyons of Wall Street, though nearly drowned out by the sound of riotous laughter and the popping of champagne corks...
Bank of America to pay $11.6 billion in Fannie Mae settlement

Bank of America said Monday it would pay $11.6 billion to settle agency mortgage repurchase claims on soured loans sold to mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae.

Charter School Moguls Scam State Out of Millions

Education fraud an effect of education privatization

In the latest incident of charter school fraud, the state of Oregon is going after a pair of charter school con men who reportedly scammed the state out of $17 million.

The Oregonian is reporting that Tim King and Norm Donohoe, who ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools under the guise of a nonprofit named EdChoices, "submitted false, incomplete and misleading records about how many students were enrolled in the schools and how they were spending the state's money. ...

Evidence suggests this is not the first or last time parents, students and state education boards will be swindled by privatized education. This summer, a renowned Philadelphia charter school mogul was indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. And between 2005 and 2011, the US Department of Education opened 53 investigations into charter school fraud, resulting in 21 indictments and 17 convictions in states including California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  ...

As education historian Diane Ravitch writes:

The free market works very well in producing goods and services, but it works through competition. In competition, the weakest fall behind. The market does not produce equity. In the free market, there are a few winners and a lot of losers. Some corporate reformers today advocate that schools should be run like a stock portfolio: Keep the winners and sell the losers.
Ecuador vs The Bankers

Study: Trees Grown for Biofuel Damage Ozone

Fast-growing trees cultivated to produce biofuel are contributing to, not mitigating against, the looming catastrophe of climate change according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Biofuels are often pushed by their advocates as a more friendly alternative to fossil fuel, but critics have long said that turning industrialized crops into fuels is rife with unintended consequences and part of a failed strategy for slowing global warming and climate change.

In this latest study, which looked specifically at fast-growing trees used for biofuel—poplar, willow and eucalyptus—scientists found that such species release high levels of the chemical isoprene into the air as they grow. Isoprene, when mixed with other pollutants in sunlight, forms toxic ozone and could affect crop yields, Reuters reports. ...

According to the study, "The impacts of biofuel cultivation on mortality and crop yields," published online Sunday, "Concerns about climate change and energy security are driving an aggressive expansion of bioenergy crop production and many of these plant species emit more isoprene than the traditional crops they are replacing."

New Research Says 'Cash For Clunkers' Hurts Environment

Idle No More: Indigenous Peoples in Canada Actions in Support of Chief's Hunger Strike

Record Low Water Levels in Lake Huron, Lake Michigan

December's monthly average level smashes record low set in 1964

As the ongoing drought continues to push levels in the Mississippi River to historic lows, water levels in two of the Great Lakes are also succumbing to its effects.

Preliminary figures from the US Army Corps of Engineers show Lakes Michigan and Huron, considered a joint body of water, had record low water levels in December. The lakes' water ended the month at 576.15 feet above sea level, just under the record 576.2 feet set in 1964.

And data released Friday in the Great Lakes Water Level Update from the US Army Corps of Engineers show that the water level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is 17 inches lower than last year, and forecasts the level falling another inch over the next month.


Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

Obama's Disses Whistleblowers (Again) in NDAA Signing Statement

Mass Action Targets TransCanada Offices

The Hoax of Entitlement Reform



A Little Night Music




James Cotton - Slow Blues

Muddy Waters & James Cotton- Got My Mojo Working 1966

James Cotton & Mark Hummel - Don't Start Me To Talkin', She Moves Me + Blow Wind Blow

James Cotton -Dealing With The Devil

James Cotton Band - Ain't Doin Too Bad

James Cotton - Hold Me In Your Arms

James Cotton - Cotton Crop Blues

James Cotton - Diggin' My Potatoes

James Cotton Blues Band - Crazy Mixed-Up World

James Cotton, Junior Wells, Billy Branch, Carey Bell - Black Night

I Don't Know - James Cotton

James Cotton - Blues in my sleep

The James Cotton Blues Band - Feelin' Good

James Cotton Band - Creeper creeps again

The James Cotton Blues Band - Fallin' Rain

Taj Mahal + James Cotton - Honky Tonk Woman





Debate

Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky




mood ring 1

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH and Canadian Kossacks.

Poll

How's the class war going?

28%4 votes
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| 14 votes | Vote | Results

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