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.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features a man who should be a household name, Lonnie Johnson. Johnson was a virtuosic guitarist influential in Blues, early Jazz and his lead parts arguably formed the basis for rock and roll guitar parts.
Lonnie Johnson - Who But You
“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”
-- Noam Chomsky
News and Opinion
Michael Moore, Chris Hedges on Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention and the "Corporate Coup d’etat"
The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State
On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth. ...
“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ”
Post Hedges v NDAA activist discussions
After a court hearing over the 2012 NDAA in Manhattan on Wednesday, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges appeared on a panel of activists who are suing the Obama administration over its attempt to claim the right to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens in military detention.
The group convened to discuss the state of the lawsuit. Joining Hedges were these co-plaintiffs: Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. They were joined by legal counsel Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran.
For a second panel on the “broader context of the case,” Hedges, Ellsberg and Bolen remained and were joined by filmmaker Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.
DOJ Kill List Memo Forces Many Dems Out of the Closet as Overtly Unprincipled Hacks
This past week has been a strangely clarifying political moment. It was caused by two related events: the leak of the Justice Department's "white paper" justifying Obama's claimed power to execute Americans without charges, followed by John Brennan's alarming confirmation hearing (as Charles Pierce wrote: "the man whom the administration has put up to head the CIA would not say whether or not the president of the United States has the power to order the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen within the borders of the United States"). I describe last week's process as "strange" because, for some reason, those events caused large numbers of people for the first time to recognize, accept and begin to confront truths that have long been readily apparent. ...
That many Democratic partisans and fervent Obama admirers are vapid, unprincipled hacks willing to justify anything and everything when embraced by Obama - including exactly that which they pretended to oppose under George W Bush - has also been clear for many years. Back in February, 2008, Paul Krugman warned that Obama supporters are "dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." In May, 2009, a once-fervent Obama supporter, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, wrote a column warning that Obama was embracing many of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses and felt compelled - in the very first sentence - to explain what should be self-evident: "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." The same month, former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith - who provided the legal authorization for the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program - went to the New Republic to celebrate that Obama was not only continuing the core Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism, but even better (from his perspective), was strengthening those policies far beyond what Bush could achieve by transforming Democrats from opponents of those policies into supporters.
And exactly as Goldsmith happily predicted, polls now show that Democrats and even self-identified progressives support policies that they once pretended to loathe now that it is Obama rather than Bush embracing them. On MSNBC, Obama aides and pundit-supporters now do their best Sarah Palin impression by mocking as weaklings and losers those who think the President should be constrained in his militarism and demonizing as anti-American anyone who questions the military (in between debating whether Obama should be elevated onto Mount Rushmore or given his own monument). A whole slew of policies that would have triggered the shrillest of progressive condemnations under Bush - waging war after Congress votes against authorizing it, the unprecedented persecution and even torturing of whistleblowers, literally re-writing FOIA to conceal evidence of torture, codifying indefinite detention on US soil - are justified or, at best, ignored.
So none of this - Obama's assassination program, his general embrace of Bush/Cheney radicalism, the grotesque eagerness of many Democrats to justify whatever he does - is at all new. But for some reasons, the events of last week made all of this so glaring that it could no longer be denied, and it's worth thinking about why that is.
Worse Than Obama's Kill List? American Support for It
The headline introducing a new poll conducted on behalf of The Hill newspaper reads: Voters: Obama no better than Bush on security vs civil liberties.
But is that the real takeaway from the survey?
For long-time critics of Obama's handling of numerous policies left over from his predecessor George W. Bush, that assessment won't be especially shocking. From his failure to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, to his signing of the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the recent alarm caused by a leaked "white paper" summarizing aspects of key Office of Legal Council memos that describe the legal basis for targeting individuals for assassination by drone (both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens), the Obama administration has little to boast about regarding its record on civil liberties.
Perhaps more troubling than the disappointment of once hopeful Obama supporters, however, is the degree to which the poll reveals how comfortable many US citizens are with some of the most aggressive techniques that the government now justifies as being necessary to fight the so-called and ongoing 'global war on terror.'
As The Hill reports, of the 1,000 Americans polled (a bipartisan group of likely voters) most were "inclined to support the government in its lethal attacks on citizens and non-citizens it deems to be terrorists."
If you are at all interested in the legal reasoning behind the debate over Obama's Drone Assassination of American Citizens and Others Program, read this full article:
Obama’s Drone Attack on Your Due Process
... Despite claiming that the Awlaki killing was justified because he was an operational leader of al-Qaeda, and thus in some sense an enemy on the battlefield, the white paper still assumes that due process applies to U.S. citizens abroad who adhere to the enemy. On the surface, this sounds plausible and even generous: Why not consider the possibility that a U.S. citizen abroad has some rights against being killed out of the blue?
In fact, though, applying due process analysis to Awlaki produces a legal disaster. The problem is, once you consider due process, you have to give it some meaning -- and the meaning you choose will cast a long shadow over what the term means everywhere else.
The white paper uses two Supreme Court cases to assess what process is due to an American about to be killed by a drone. The first, Mathews v. Eldridge, is a 1976 case in which the court held that the elaborate administrative processes necessary after a person lost his Social Security disability benefits were constitutionally acceptable even though there was no evidentiary hearing before the benefits were terminated. In that case, the court said that the process due could be determined by balancing the individual’s interest against the government’s.
The other case was 2004’s Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, where the court held that a detained enemy combatant -- in custody, not on the battlefield -- must receive “notice of the factual basis for his classification, and a fair opportunity to rebut the Government’s factual assertions before a neutral decision- maker.”
Astonishingly, the white paper follows its summary of these decisions with the bald assertion that a citizen outside U.S. territory can be killed if a high-level official determines that he poses an imminent threat, it would be unfeasible to capture him and the laws of war would otherwise permit the killing.
The non sequitur is breathtaking. Awlaki wouldn’t receive notice, the opportunity to be heard or a hearing before a decision maker. In other words, he would receive none of the components of traditional due process -- not even one. How the absence of due process could be magically transformed into its satisfaction is never stated or explained. All we get is the assertion that a target’s interest in life must be “balanced against” the government’s interest in protecting other Americans. On this theory, no due process would be due to those accused of murder, because their lives would have to be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting their potential victims.
The Drones Controversy Shows Why Leaks Are Vital to Democracy
This week, Congress finally started a substantive debate on the role of drones in US foreign policy, and more importantly, the Obama administration’s secret legal rationale for why it believes it can kill American citizens overseas with no due process.
But why is this just happening now? It's been more than seven months since the New York Times reported on the existence of President Obama’s kill list, and almost a year and a half after the US deliberately killed the first American citizen under this policy.
The answer is simple: a leak to the press.
Since NBC News’ Michael Isikoff published a Justice Department white paper containing one of the administration’s legal rationale for killing Americans last week, the issue of drones was front and center at the confirmation hearing of potential CIA director John Brennan on Thursday, and more and more Senators have been calling for transparency and accountability because of this revelation.
The administration, with their outright refusal to bring transparency to one of the government’s most secretive and controversial activities, inadvertently showed us why leaking is so important. If they still refuse to be more transparent, it’s up to the media to fill the void, using the First Amendment as their shield.
In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program After Protests
In an amazing victory for privacy advocates and drone activists, yesterday, Seattle’s mayor ordered the city's police agency to cease trying use surveillance drones and dismantle its drone program. The police will return the two drones they previously purchased with a Department of Homeland Security grant to the manufacturer. ...
Back in early 2012, the Seattle city council was told that the Seattle police agency had obtained an authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But they did not find out from the police; they found out from a reporter who called after the council after he saw Seattle’s name on the list obtained by EFF as part of our lawsuit against the FAA.
City council was understandably not happy, and the police agency was forced to appear before the council and apologize. It then vowed to work with the ACLU of Washington and the FAA to develop guidelines to make sure drones wouldn’t violate Seattle citizens’ privacy. But as long as the guidelines weren’t passed in a binding city ordinance, there’d be no way to enforce them.
After a townhall meeting held by police, in which citizens showed up in droves and angrily denounced the city’s plans, some reporters insinuated that city counsel members’ jobs could be on the line if they did not pass strict drone legislation protecting its citizens privacy.
Documents obtained by MuckRock and EFF in October as part of our 2012 drone census showed that the Seattle police were trying to buy two more drones despite the controversy. But that ended yesterday as the Mayor put a stop to the program completely.
Obama Treasury nominee Lew to face questions over Cayman fund
Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew will face questions at his confirmation hearing next week about an investment fund registered in a Cayman Islands building that has been called a notorious site for tax haven abuse.
Lew invested $56,000 in the fund, which was run by his former employer Citigroup, and sold his investment in 2010 for $54,418, according to the Senate Finance Committee. ...
The address for the Citigroup fund is a building in the Cayman Islands known as the Ugland House, which President Obama singled out in a 2009 speech railing against tax haven abuse.
“Either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world,” Obama said.
The Ugland House is the registered address for more than 18,000 companies, according to a Web site for the building. The only physical tenant is the law firm Maples and Calder, which advises financial and business clients.
Britain's Anti-War Movement looks back on over a Decade of War
Tariq Ali, Writer / Filmmaker
“It pains me when good people, especially in the United States, who were hostile to wars when Bush was waging them, become passive when Obama wages them. Effectively what we noticed in the United States today is imperial continuity. More drone attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan and Yemen and Somalia under Obama than there were under Bush. The President of the United States has now the power, legal power, to order the execution of any American citizen, leave alone citizens from the rest of the world. That is the world we live in.”
Victoria Brittain, Journalist / Writer
“What the Obama administration has done, worse than Bush, is sanitised killing. That’s what drones are, that you have men at computers away in America killing people in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia. And the fact that we know, now, that the American President personally sanctifies most of these killings, ticks off the names, including of Americans, I think is an incredibly alienating process. Everybody I know who knows about Yemen and Pakistan says that is creating new terrorists all the time, it would be strange if it wasn’t.”
Idle No More Protest Retraces History in Montreal Streets
An all-ages group of demonstrators supporting the Idle No More movement weaved through downtown Montreal by the dozens Sunday afternoon. ...
The protest marked the 250th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Paris, which recognized native treaty rights to land when it outlined France’s forfeiting of its North American territories to England. ...
The march began at Philip Square, across from the Bay on Ste. Catherine St. W. in downtown Montreal. The Hudson’s Bay Company was chosen as a starting point since it began as a Crown corporation, trading fur with the native population.
Other landmarks on the route included the Palais de Congrès, which was home to the Salon des ressources naturelles this weekend, a forum on employment to support the Plan Nord natural resource development project in northern Quebec. ...
Since it began last Fall, Idle No More has evolved from a teaching platform of four Saskatchewan women on native rights into a heterogeneous movement encompassing flash mobs, teach-ins, road protests and rail blockades.
Why Can Corporate Interests Trump Sovereign Rights?
In Canada, the Quebec government passed a law restricting, prohibiting the use of fracking to get natural gas. Well, now a company that is based in Calgary, owned in the United States, is now suing the Quebec government under the NAFTA treaty for millions of dollars because they say their right to exploit this gas has been taken away. And this type of lawsuit, this threat of lawsuit against sovereign countries and governments who try to enact certain public policy is taking place all over the world.
Ernst & Young Report Predicts Mass Selloff In The Oil Patch
CALGARY - Ernst & Young foresees a lot of "for sale" signs being posted on energy assets around the world — and Canada's oilpatch is no exception.
The global advisory firm found 37 per cent of oil and gas respondents it surveyed globally are either in the process of selling assets or plan to do so over the next two years.
Barry Munro, who heads up Ernst & Young's Canadian oil and gas group, said Canadian oilpatch companies face their own unique set of challenges that have made capital costlier and harder to come by.
Those headwinds include difficulty in getting crude oil to market amid pipeline bottlenecks, stubbornly low natural gas prices, rising costs and regulatory delays. ...
While firms are eager to divest it's not a sure thing that there's a willing buyer at the other end, or that the path toward a deal closing will be smooth.
On a global basis, the survey found 45 per cent of respondents reported an increase in the level of buyer scrutiny.
NY Fracking Scandal: Seven Groups Demand Conflict of Interest Investigation of Cuomo Administration
New York could soon become the newest state in the union to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technique used to enable shale oil and gas extraction. The green light from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could transpire in as little as "a couple of weeks," according to journalist and author Tom Wilber.
That timeline, of course, assumes things don't take any crazy twists or turns.
Enter a press conference today in Albany, where seven groups, including Public Citizen, Food and Water Watch, Frack Action, United for Action, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, and Capital District Against Fracking, called for an Albany County District Attorney General investigation of the Cuomo Administration.
They are asking "whether Lawrence Schwartz, Secretary to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has a conflict of interest between his stock investments and his involvement in the state’s decision on whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas."
Schwartz - dubbed "the ringleader" of Governor Cuomo's administration - potentially has what these groups describe as a legal conflict-of-interest. A months-long DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Cuomo's chief-of-staff actually has a direct financial interest in fracking going forward in New York state, potentially falling under the sphere of insider trading.
At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Lonnie Johnson - Back Water Blues
Lonnie Johnson - Somebody's Got To Go
Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - Guitar Blues
Lonnie Johnson - She's Only A Woman
Lonnie Johnson - Swingin' The Blues
Lonnie Johnson - Long Black Train
Lonnie Johnson - Playing with the strings
Lonnie Johnson - Wipe It Off
Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - Blue Room
Lonnie Johnson - The Victim of Love
Lonnie Johnson - Home Wreckers Blues
Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - Have to Change Keys to Play These Blues
Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - Two Tone Stomp
Lonnie Johnson - Can't Sleep Anymore
Lonnie Johnson - Swing Out Rhythm
Lonnie Johnson - Jet Black Blues
Lonnie Johnson w Louis Armstrong - Mahogany Hall Stomp
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!