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.
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This evenings music features blues singer and harmonica player Sam Myers
Sam Myers - Coming From The Old School
“The mistake you make, don't you see,is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You're trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can't. One's got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can't put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”
-- George Orwell
News and Opinion
The Sequestering of Barack Obama
President Obama has miscalculated both the tactical politics of the sequester and the depressive economic impact of budget cuts on the rest of his presidency. The sequester will cut economic growth in half this year. But it’s now clear, one way or another, that we will get cuts in the $85 billion range that the sequester mandates this fiscal year. All that remains are the details.
Obama’s miscalculation began in his fist term, with his embrace of the premise that substantial deficit cutting was both politically expected and economically necessary, and his appointment of the 2010 Bowles-Simpson Commission as the expression of that mistaken philosophy. Although the Commission’s plan was never carried out, its prestige and Obama’s parentage of it locked the president into a deflationary deficit reduction path. ...
Long term, colluding in the politics of budget austerity has left Obama with no real capacity to offer the public investment that the economy needs for a robust, broadly-based recovery, and leaves him with the prospect of a weak economy between now and the end of his term--unless he drastically shifts course and repudiates the entire view of the budget and the economy.
'Collusion With Austerity' Will Sink Obama, say ProgressivesIt looks like not all the progressives have gotten the message that the progressive media community is sending. The elected progressive community seems to need a swift kick in the pants:
As the deadline of the so-called "budget sequestration" nears, progressives are warning President Obama that his obsession with giving credence to the "cut the deficit" antics of Republicans is a trap and that if Democrats don't jettison the failed "economics of austerity" immediately, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.
Richard Eskow calls it "Washington's Stupid, Destructive Game."
Robert Kuttner, his colleague at the Campaign for America's Future, names it "The Sequestering of Barack Obama," while The Nation's Katrina vanden Huevel says it's not the president, but "common sense" that's being locked up in Washington as Democrats systematically trade the proven economics of stimulus spending—which has so far saved the economy from ruin following its collapse in 2008—for the 'slash and burn' politics of the Republican party.
With the usual candor, Princeton economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman marked the whole debacle down last week as the "Sequester of Fools."
What these progressive voices have in common (in addition to acknowledging the ridiculous nature of the debate by Beltway establishment figures) is agreement that President Obama and the Democrats—far from winning a public opinion "blame game"—are sadly playing directly into the hands of a Republican Party hell bent on pushing an economic austerity agenda on the country at a time when the exact opposite course is needed.
Three-Quarters of Progressive Caucus Not Taking a Stand Against Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and MedicaidThis is what happens when the people of a country start to get sick and tired of elected austerity hustlers:
For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.
While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”
More than 10 days ago, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano initiated the forthright letter, circulating it among House colleagues. Addressed to President Obama, the letter has enabled members of Congress to take a historic stand: joining together in a public pledge not to vote for any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. ...
The Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, signed the letter. So did Barbara Lee, the caucus whip. But no signer can be found among the five vice chairs of the Progressive Caucus: Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jan Schakowsky. The letter’s current list of signers includes just 16 members of the Progressive Caucus (along with five other House signers who aren’t part of the caucus).
What about the other 54 members of the Progressive Caucus? Their absence from the letter is a clear message to the Obama White House, which has repeatedly declared its desire to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment as well as Medicare. In effect, those 54 non-signers are signaling: Mr. President, we call ourselves “progressive” but we are unwilling to stick our necks out by challenging you in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; we want some wiggle room that you can exploit.
Comedian Big Winner in Italian ElectionHey, maybe progressives can stop this austerity madness by getting in on the ground floor of Obama's White House Show and Sale... anybody got half a million they can spare so that I can be the President's
Italy's two major political parties are stunned by the results of this week's elections: the dramatic surge of the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (The Five Star Movement).
The actual outcome of the Italian election remains in doubt, but there's no question who the big winner was: comedian-turned-political activist Beppe Grillo and the Five Star Movement (M5S).
Last year, the Five Star Movement barely registered in polls of likely Italian voters. With results now in, the Five Star Movement, took over 25% of the vote - more than the two major parties.
The Five Star Movement's anti-austerity, anti-establishment message struck a chord with millions of Italians. The 'Five Stars' of the movement are the party's core principles:
Publicly owned water
Free and open internet access
NYU, A Taxpayer-Subsidized Non-Profit Provided Jack Lew's $1.3 Million Mortgage Loan
As questions swirl as to why New York University, a nonprofit subsidized by the taxpayer, used endowment funds from its law school foundation to provide Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew with more than a million dollars in mortgage loans in 2001 and a $685,000 “severance” payment when he voluntarily left to accept a high paying job at Citigroup in 2006, the name of John Sexton has emerged as someone who was in the know about the dealings.
As the document below confirms, Sexton, who has been President of NYU since 2001, signed off on the first $1,300,000 mortgage loan to Lew on August 22, 2001. The second mortgage loan by NYU to Lew in the amount of $150,000 was made later that same year. Lew has said in written testimony to the Senate Finance Committee that NYU forgave portions of the first loan and reimbursed him annually for any interest that was charged. According to tax experts, that doesn’t pass the smell test for an arms-length, market rate loan. According to nonprofit governance experts, giving any kind of a loan to a director or executive of a non-profit is an ill-advised slippery slope.
In 'Disturbing Decision' Supreme Court Rejects Challenge of Dragnet Surveillance of Americans
In 5-4 decision, Court rules plaintiffs cannot prove they have suffered from warrantless wiretapping program
In what the ACLU has described as a "disturbing decision," the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a challenge brought by human rights groups, journalists and others against the federal government's warrantless wiretapping program.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 the groups challenged allow the National Security Agency to conduct widespread surveillance of Americans' international phone calls and emails.
But in the 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the Court rejected the challenge. Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, says that the plaintiffs lack standing:because they cannot demonstrate that the future injury they purportedly fear is certainly impending and because they cannot manufacture standing by incurring costs in anticipation of non-imminent harm.
This Supreme Court Case Could Give Corporations Even More Power to Screw Consumers
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court will hear a case that has the potential to give big corporations free rein to write contracts that prevent consumers from ever holding them accountable for fraud, antitrust violations, or any other abuses of consumer and worker protection laws now on the books. It's a case that hasn't gotten much attention, but should.
The case, Italian Color v. American Express, was brought by a California Italian restaurant and a group of other small businesses that tried to sue the credit card behemoth for antitrust violations. They allege Amex used its monopoly power to force them to accept its bank-issued knock-off credit cards as a condition of taking regular, more elite American Express cards—and then charging them 30 percent higher fees for the privilege.
The small businesses claims were pretty small individually, not more than around $5,000 per shop. So, to make their case worth enough for a lawyer to take it, they banded together to file a class action on behalf of all small businesses affected by the practice. In response, Amex invoked the small print in its contract with them: a clause that not only banned the companies from suing individually but also prevented them from bringing a class action. Instead, Amex insisted the contract required each little businesses to submit to the decision of a private arbitrator paid by Amex, and individually press their claims.
The restaurants estimated, with good evidence, that because of the market research required to press an antitrust case, arbitration would cost each of them almost $1 million to collect a possible maximum of $38,000, making it impossible to bring their claims at all. After a lot of litigation, the little guys prevailed in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it prevented the plaintiffs from having their claims heard in any forum.
Manning's Right to a Speedy Trial Not Violated After 1,000 Days, Judge Rules
Pre-trial hearings move to a full court martial trial in June
Bradley Manning has not had his rights violated while waiting in a cell for almost three years before being granted a trial, judge Colonel Denise Lind ruled in a pre-trial hearing Tuesday.
Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, had argued that the prosecution was guilty of "extreme foot-dragging" and "shameful" lack of diligence, which violated Manning's right to a speedy trial—in a final bid that could have had the charges against Manning dismissed.
A soldier in the military has had his or her speedy trial rights violated when it takes over 120 days before an arraignment, Kevin Gosztola reports at FireDogLake, which is the case for Manning. However, Lind ruled in favor of the prosecution who said some of those days didn't actually count in the speedy trial rule, due to “excludable delays” initiated by the prosecution.
The pre-trial hearings will now be certain to move to a full court martial trial in June.
North Korea says its nuclear weapons can reach the U.S.
North Korea warned Wednesday that the US mainland was “well within” the range of its nuclear weapons, as Pyongyang continued to ramp up the bellicose rhetoric after its recent nuclear test.
In an article posted on the official Uriminzokkiri website, a member of the Korean National Peace Committee — a propaganda body — said the North was now a “fully-independent rocket and nuclear weapons state”.
“The United States should be acutely aware that the US mainland is now well within the range of our strategic rockets and nuclear weapons,” the signed commentary said.
North Korea made a similar claim in October last year, saying it possessed rockets capable of striking the continental United States.
That was largely dismissed as bluster, but that was before Pyongyang conducted a successful long-range rocket launch in December, followed by its third nuclear test on February 12.
Insurers: Fracking-related damages not covered by standard policiesThings are tough all over:
Fracking-related damage, insurance industry insiders say, is not covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. ... “(Fracking is) deemed an exclusion in the same way earthquake or earth movement is,” said Mike Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit institute funded by the insurance industry.
In a statement released in July, Nationwide Insurance said fracking-related losses have never been a covered loss under personal or commercial line policies, which were not designed to provide for any fracking-related risks.
“Our longstanding underwriting guideline is that we do not insure the oil and gas business,” Nancy Smeltzer, a Nationwide spokeswoman, said.
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
Anson Funderburgh Feat. Sam Myers - Come On
Sam Myers - Let You Slowly Bring Me Down
Sam Myers - Give Me Back My Wig
Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers - Blue Shadows
Sam Myers - Sleeping in the ground
Sam Myers with the Crawl - Rock Me Baby
Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets Feat. Sam Myers - I'm Your Professor
Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers - My Heart Cries Out For You
Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers - Tell Me What I Want To Hear
Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers - Suggestion Blues
Sam Myers - You Don't Have To Go
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!