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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Tonight's music features piano player Cow Cow Davenport. Davenport is best known for his "Cow Cow Blues," the melody for which has been recyled as Ray Charles' "Mess Around" and Tiny Bradshaw's much covered, "The Train Kept a Rollin." Enjoy!
Cow Cow Davenport from the Cleveland Blues Society's 2009 Hall of Fame feature
"I think that wealthy white people would like to have a country that resembles the Fifties, when all the minorities were tucked away in ghettos and paid in very low wages but on the surface it was very bright and shiny and free and the rest of the world would look on it longingly."
-- Alice Walker
News and Opinion
Romney and Obama Policy to Save GM: Lower Wages
The mythology on Obama's campaign has been about the fact that he was credited with saving General Motors. The reality is that if you look at the Romney editorial, the op-ed piece that was written in November 2008—it was titled, "Let Detroit go bankrupt". And the pundits and the Democrats, of course, picked up on that headline and said, oh, look, Romney wanted to eliminate—let companies go bankrupt, let Detroit fall, whereas the crusader Obama came in and saved General Motors. Well, that's a bit of a mythology.
Because if you look at the actual op-ed piece beyond the headline, the description that—what Romney was reacting to was: the previous day, General Motors' executive, Ford, and Chrysler, they all came with their hands open looking for money. And at that time, they were contemplating giving the companies $25 billion to rescue them. And so he responded and said, oh, no, that would be ridiculous, to give them $25 billion. It was either going to come out of the TARP or it was going to come out of the—there was a fund set up for more fuel-efficient vehicles. So his response was, we ought not give them $25 billion like they asked for; we ought to insist on a restructuring of the companies in order for them to go into a managed bankruptcy. And you know what? That's exactly what Obama did. He did a structured bankruptcy, a managed bankruptcy with a restructuring of the company. And if you look at the prescription that Romney laid out in that op-ed piece, it is word-for-word what exactly in fact happened.
Walmart's First-Ever Retail Worker Strike Spreads To 12 Cities
The first retail worker strike against Walmart has spread from Los Angeles, where it began last week, to stores in a dozen cities, a union official said Tuesday.
Walmart workers walked off the job in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C., area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando, said Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Making Change At Walmart campaign. Workers also went on strike in parts of Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota, he said.
Tuesday's walkouts included 88 workers from 28 stores -- a minuscule fraction of the 1.4 million who work at Walmart, the world's largest private employer. Until Friday, when about 60 Walmart employees walked off the job for a day in LA, no Walmart retail workers had ever gone on strike, the union said.
The workers are protesting company attempts to "silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job," according to a United Food and Commercial Workers news release. Walmart workers, who are not unionized, have long complained of low pay and a lack of benefits.
Will the JPMorgan fraud lawsuit be the first of many on Wall Street?
Phil Angelides, former chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, delves into the fraud lawsuit being brought against JPMorgan with "Viewpoint" host Eliot Spitzer. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has brought the case, which alleges that Bear Stearns — purchased by JPMorgan in 2008 — deceived investors when it sold them mortgage-backed securities it knew were defective.
U.S. Government Files Civil Suit Against Wells Fargo - Seeks Damages for Alleged Mortgage Fraud
he U.S. Attorney on Tuesday filed a civil mortgage lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co. seeking damages and civil penalties for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured housing loans.
In just the latest action charging big banks with mortgage fraud, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara argues that the Federal Housing Administration paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by the bank, Reuters reported Tuesday afternoon.
"As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," Bharara said.
Benn Hallman, reporting for The Huffington Post, said the U.S. alleges that between Jan. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2010, Wells Fargo lied about the quality of the loans it certified for a federal insurance program, ultimately costing the government $190 million in claims when those loans failed.
Greek People Turn Out to Refuse Merkel's 'Tough Path'
Greek protesters came out in full force in the streets of Athens today as German Chancellor Angela Merkel came and went to discuss further "painful" budget cuts the country will now endure to win favor with EU bankers. Modest estimates put the number of anti-austerity, anti-Merkel protesters at 50,000, who marched throughout the city, some facing clashes with riot police throughout the day.
In Merkel's first visit to Greece since its debt crisis erupted three years ago, she met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to finalize a $17.45 billion austerity program including pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions
Meanwhile, protesters who filled Syntagma Square across from Parliament held signs that read "You are not welcome, Imperialisten Raus" (Imperialists out) and "No to the Fourth Reich." Police fired teargas and stun grenades into the increasingly restless crowd who chanted anti-austerity slogans, while Samaras welcomed Merkel as a "friend" of Greece.
Russia frees one Pussy Riot member, keeps two in jail
A Russian appeals court Wednesday ordered the release of one member of punk band Pussy Riot after turning her two-year prison sentence into a suspended term but kept two others in jail with unchanged verdicts.
The judge at the Moscow city court ordered the release of Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, after giving her a two-year suspended prison camp term for performing a protest stunt against President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s main church. ...
Judge Larisa Polyakova ruled “to leave Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova’s sentences without changes” while bowing to the appeal filed on behalf of Samutsevich, who was judged not to have taken actual involvement in the “punk prayer” performance.
FBI destroyed part of Hunter S. Thompson’s file
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) admitted this week that portions of a detailed file on legendary outlaw journalist Hunter S. Thompson were destroyed during the Clinton administration.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Argus Leader reporter Cody Winchester, the FBI explained that “records responsive” to the request were “destroyed on Feb. 1, 1994 and Sept. 1, 1998.” The FOIA request was ultimately answered by the National Archives, which released 58 pages of material pertaining to Thompson.
It’s not clear why the FBI destroyed information in Thompson’s file. Winchester also noted that there’s likely more in the archives which simply hasn’t been indexed yet and could be released later.
How Obama has jeopardized the future of liberalism
Liberals often tend to overstate conservative electoral achievements. Of the five most recent presidential elections, Republicans have won the popular vote in one, and their congressional majorities have never been large enough to pass legislation without Democratic cooperation.
But if there’s one place where conservatives have had great success, it’s the federal judiciary. Beginning with Ronald Reagan and continuing to George W. Bush, there’s been a concerted effort to bring reliable conservatives to the federal bench. The hope is that they will stand as a bulwark against activist government, and for the most part, that’s been the case: The individual mandate, for example, would have never become a constitutional issue if it weren’t for the influence of conservative judges. The last three GOP presidents appointed more than 150 judges to federal appellate courts.
After Barack Obama won the White House in 2008, there was hope that he would reverse this trend. Instead — to the potential detriment of his policies and priorities — he’s done little to make a mark on the federal judiciary. When staffing the nation’s most powerful courts, Reuters reports, Obama leans towards established moderates — not the younger liberals who would have a lasting influence on the direction of American law: “Obama’s 30 appointees have generally been moderates who mainly served on lower courts and were often selected in consultation with Republican senators.”
Map Compares High Inequality of U.S. Metro Areas to Countries
The Martin Prosperity Institute's Zara Matheson mapped data for 362 metros (based on an analysis by the institute's Charlotta Mellander). The team used country-level data from the CIA'sWorld Factbook and metro-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008-2010 American Community Survey. They relied upon the Gini coefficient as their measurement for inequality, which is a numerical rating on a scale from .00 (perfectly equal) to 1.00 (most unequal).
The Gini coefficient for the United States as a whole is .450, about the same as Iran and the Philippines. For comparison’s sake, the Gini coefficient for Sweden, the world’s most-equal country, is .230. Denmark’s is .248, Germany’s is .270 and Canada’s is .321. The most unequal countries in the world have Gini coefficients between .60 to roughly .70. Though none of America’s metros score that high, the picture is still not a pretty one. Most large metros (with over one million people) have inequality levels that are equal to or above the U.S. average.
Supreme Court lets AT&T wiretapping immunity stand
The US Supreme Court let stand Tuesday an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by rights activists as a flagrant abuse of executive power.
The top US court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the National Security Agency monitor its customers’ phone calls and Internet traffic.
Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct “warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance” without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general.
But President Barack Obama’s administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies.
Goldman Sachs ‘in bid to change’ Volcker rule
Goldman Sachs is seeking changes to the Volcker rule, which keeps banks from speculative trades in their own accounts, to protect its merchant-banking unit, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, was part of the sweeping reforms introduced in the wake of the 2008 recession and aimed at preventing another meltdown of the financial sector.
It forbids banks from actively trading in their own accounts to boost profits, what is known as proprietary trade.
Goldman is lobbying US regulators to allow its merchant-banking unit’s credit funds, which mostly concern pension funds and insurers, to be exempted from the rule, the Journal said, citing people briefed on the matter.
Europe rejects Arctic oil drilling ban
The European parliament’s industry committee has rejected attempts to introduce a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, overruling a contrary vote by its environment committee last month.
The key vote in the industry committee yesterday (9 October) instead proposed a new directive to ensure that companies have “adequate financial security” to cover the liabilities that could be incurred by any accidents. ...
Environmentalists suspect that this was the tip of a lobby iceberg. “This vote had the fingerprints of oil lobby all over it,” Greenpeace spokesman Joris den Blanken told EurActiv.
Amid intense industry lobbying, EurActiv has learned that the oil giant Chevron offered MEPs on the committee a free trip to its offshore Alba platform on 12-14 July, involving two nights stay in an Aberdeen hotel, helicopter trips to the platform, and several briefings.
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
Cow Cow Davenport - Cow Cow Blues
Cow Cow Davenport - I've been Hoodooed
Cow Cow Davenport - Chimes Blues
Cow Cow Davenport - Alabama Strut
Cow Cow Davenport - State Street Jive
Cow Cow Davenport - Texas Shout
Cow Cow Davenport - Atlanta Rag
Walter Lantz Cartoon - Cow Cow Boogie 1943
Cow Cow Davenport - I'm Gonna Tell You In Front So You Won't Feel Hurt Behind
Ray Charles - Mess Around
Johnny Burnette Train Kept A Rollin'
Meade Lux Lewis - Cow Cow Blues
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