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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Kid Bailey - Mississippi Bottom Blues
"If the workers are organized, all they have to do is to put their hands in their pockets and they have got the capitalist class whipped."
-- William Dudley Haywood
News and Opinion
Alarms Go Off as Obama Plays Footsie with Raising Medicare Age
Progressives from all quarters warn against unnecessary cuts to key social programs
Partly because he's done it before, partly because he specifically left it on the table in a not-yet aired interview with ABC's Barbara Walters this week, but mainly because it's a terrible policy idea, progressives are saying loudly that if President Obama agrees to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 he'll have, as one notable critic put it, "hell to pay."
As secret offers and counter-offers have been exchanged between the White House and the GOP leadership in the House over the last several days, speculation has peaked about whether or not Obama will relinquish his strong negotiating position by giving in to demands that he do something—no matter how ineffective—that would simultaneously please Republicans while proving he's willing to ignore the desires of his political base.
Proving that history may in some ways repeat itself, it seems that Republican unwillingness to take a deal or accept concessions offered by the President—as happened in last year's debate over the debt ceiling—could ultimately save Obama from himself.
Why Is Big Business Supporting Obama?
I can’t help it. When I see Fortune 500 titans like Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, calling for higher taxes on the rich, I suspect there’s something fishy happening. Tillerson, a conservative Texan who earned about thirty-five million dollars last year and is a longtime skeptic of global warming, is one of the dozens of prominent businessmen who have signed an open letter calling on “Congress to agree on more revenue—whether by increasing rates, eliminating deductions, or some combination thereof.”
The call to soak the rich—for that was what it amounted to—was released under the auspices of the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for America’s biggest corporations. ...
What do you know, but just as the C.E.O.s are publicly backing the President’s stance on individual tax rates, the White House has resurrected the idea of reforming corporate taxation, with more flexibility this time. ...
According to the Journal, which is usually reliable on these things, the White House is quietly saying it will go at least some way in the direction that corporate America wants to go. Its “corporate-tax suggestion wasn’t specific other than committing to overhaul the corporate tax code in 2013,” the report said. “White House officials, in making the suggestion, cited a corporate-tax plan the administration unveiled in February but said they weren’t wedded to any specifics.” ...
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have trouble believing the conversion to Obamanomics is coincidental. With the White House desperate to garner their support for political reasons, the C.E.O.s, unlike the Republicans, have some leverage. At this point, they know that nothing they can do will prevent a modest rise in their individual tax rates come January. (Given the vast sums they make, they are well able to afford such a rise.) So, rather than fighting a lost battle, they seem to be cleverly using their influence—and their endorsement of higher income taxes on people like themselves—to extract a better deal on corporate taxes. ...
Effective corporate-tax rates are already broadly comparable to other advanced countries. In any sensible budget agreement, the aim should be to insure that all big companies pay their fair share of taxes, rather than using elaborate avoidance schemes. If the Obama Administration were to sacrifice this goal merely to garner the support of some C.E.O.s in another battle it is already winning, it would be striking a terrible bargain.
Why isn’t this a front page story nationwide?
On November 20th 2012 I told you about a guilty plea taken by Lorraine Brown, the founder of DOCX (later known at LPS), in federal court in Florida. The press release for that plea did not come out until after 5 PM on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving most of the reporters who usually occupy the front pages of our newspapers and network news were presumably traveling or preparing for their holiday. The story was barely reported. ...
Whatever the banks thought about the robo-signing being “sloppy” before, once Lorraine Brown admitted that virtually every document coming out of DOCX/LPS was a forgery and that ALL documents coming out of DOCX/LPS were suspect, the banks that had court cases pending using DOCX/LPS documents had an obligation to either withdraw the documents and/or withdraw the lawsuits and other foreclosure proceedings.
It is a crime (common law fraud) to knowingly use a false, perjured, forged, fraudulent document as “evidence” in court. The specific statute violated will vary from state to state, but it is impossible to conceive that there is a single state where this is legal. If I’m wrong about that, I’m sure someone from the fraud-allowing state will set me straight in the comments. This is certainly a violation of federal criminal law, for example 18 USC §§ 371, 1341, 1342, and 1343 and 39 USC§§ 1341 and 1342. ...
This also means that the 50 state settlement notwithstanding, the Department of Justice and every attorney general in the country have a brand new, slam dunk, open and shut case against every single bank that is still allowing a foreclosure case to go forward based on DOCX/LPS false evidence.
Warren assigned to Senate Banking Committee
Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), an ardent critic of Wall Street practices, will be assigned a seat on the Senate Banking Committee once the 113th Congress convenes in January.
Progressive and liberal groups had urged Democratic leaders to place Warren on the committee, which considers legislation regarding the nation’s financial institutions. Bank lobbyists, on the other hand, had pushed to keep her off the committee.
Military judge allows total blackout of 9/11 plotters’ torture testimony
A military judge presiding over the trials of the accused 9/11 plotters decided last week that any and all testimony relating to their treatment by U.S. personnel shall be censored, according to a ruling released Wednesday.
In a statement sent to reporters, the American Civil Liberties Union made it clear that they are deeply troubled by the judge’s ruling.
“The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention, and the military judge has gone along with that shameful plan,” ACLU attorney Hina Shamsi said in an advisory.
Is Embrace of Syrian Rebels Preparation for US Intervention?
In a move that notches up the potential for a western military intervention in Syria, the US government on Tuesday formally recognized factions of the armed opposition group facing off against President Bashar al-Assad in what has been an escalating and bloody civil war in the Middle East country.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," President Obama said announcing the new status of what has also been called the Free Syria Army.
Other Western governments, including the UK and France, have already recognized the coalition. A meeting in Morocco on Wednesday between representatives of the Syrian opposition and Western governments, including the US, is intended to solidify the recognition and determine what kind of support they will receive going forward.
Obama spoke with ABC News on Tuesday night about the decision:
Syrian Opposition Coalition is a US-orchestrated exile group with no legitimacy among the real Syrian opposition
President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared that the US officially recognizes the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the sole “legitimate representative” of its country’s people. ...
The group was formed as a US initiative and was officially acknowledged after a US-orchestrated conference in Qatar in November.
The Coalition is supposed to be made up of Syrian dissidents and opposition groups from across the spectrum. But it is largely another exile group without strong roots inside the country, and vehemently rejected by the armed rebel groups fighting the Assad regime on the ground in Syria. ...
The Obama administration’s announcement came immediately after the State Department’s decision to officially designate one of Syria’s foremost rebel groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, a group tied to hundreds of suicide bombings and al-Qaeda in Iraq, as a terrorist organization.
That decision was met with ardent backlash from more than 100 rebel groups on the ground inside Syria, who signed a petition expressing solidarity with al-Nusra and promoting the slogan “No to American intervention, for we are all Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Number of jailed journalists sets global record
Imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against critical reporters and editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 232 individuals behind bars on December 1, an increase of 53 over its 2011 tally.
Large-scale imprisonments in Turkey, Iran, and China helped lift the global tally to its highest point since CPJ began conducting worldwide surveys in 1990, surpassing the previous record of 185 in 1996. The three nations, the world’s worst jailers of the press, each made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views, including those expressed by ethnic minorities. Worldwide, anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason, and subversion were the most common allegations brought against journalists in 2012. At least 132 journalists were being held around the world on such charges, CPJ’s census found.
Eritrea and Syria also ranked among the world’s worst, each jailing numerous journalists without charge or due process and holding them in secret prisons without access to lawyers or family members. Worldwide, 63 journalists are being held without any publicly disclosed charge.
Stanford Biologist Warns of Damaged Human-Earth Relationship
The magnitude and devastation of Hurricane Sandy is the latest example of how Earth systems are reacting to stresses created by human activities. Paul Ehrlich, a biology professor at Stanford University and noted ecologist and demographer, believes that the decoupling of human and natural systems has presented a dire situation, and that realigning these systems should be considered a greater priority.
"Humanity is faced with the most serious crisis in its 200,000-year history," Ehrlich told an audience at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union today. "But society remains focused on relatively trivial problems such as the overblown debt 'crisis' and unemployment, rather than attacking the perfect storm of environmental problems that could bring down civilization." ...
To see the growing disconnect, Ehrlich said, one only has to consider the attention paid in public discourse to the financial problems currently facing rich nations: "Coverage of these topics in the media is massive compared to, say, the news that Earth's coral reefs are now beyond saving and that civilization may have passed a lethal climatic tipping point and be headed for collapse.
"In the absence of dramatic changes in human behavior relative to Earth's natural systems, gradual population shrinkage, an end to overconsumption by the rich and a redistribution of wealth and opportunity, it is likely the natural system will react in ways that will reduce the scale of the human system in a very unpleasant manner," Ehrlich said. "Debt and employment problems can be solved entirely by negotiation; one cannot negotiate with nature."
California Public Land Sold to Frackers Despite Public Outcry
800,000 acres and counting going to fossil fuel industry on Obama's watch
The US Bureau of Land Management continued its widespread sale of public land to the fracking and oil industry on Wednesday in a federal auction of nearly 18,000 acres. The auction was met by dozens of anti-fracking protesters who say the continual sale of public lands to the fossil fuel industry, including 800,000 acres of land in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming for tar sands and oil shale development, puts short-term profits ahead of the planet.
BLM spokesman David Christy said eight different groups—including oil companies—bid for the land Wednesday in Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties. The agency plans to announce the "winners" within 24 hours.
Dozens of protesters in hazmat suits carried barrels labeled “Warning: Toxic Fracking Fluid” outside of the auction Wednesday morning.
“A fracking boom will devastate California’s beautiful public wildlands,” said Rose Braz, climate campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, who organized the protests along with several other groups. “The federal government should protect these beautiful public places, not sell them off to be drilled and fracked, risking irreparable harm to our air, water and climate.”
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
Kid Bailey - Rowdy Blues
Luke Jordan - Cocaine Blues
Luke Jordan - If I Call You Mama
Luke Jordan - Church Bells Blues
Luke Jordan - Traveling Coon
Luke Jordan - My Gal's Done Quit Me
Luke Jordan - Pick Poor Robin Clean
Willie "61" Blackwell Noiseless Motor Blues
Willie "61" Blackwell - Don't Misuse Me, Baby
Willie 61 Blackwell - Machine Gune Blues
Willie "61" Blackwell - Chalk My Toy
Willie "61" Blackwell - Four O'Clock (Flower) 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