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!
Tonight's music features the The Holmes Brothers and their mixture of blues, gospel and r&b music.
The Holmes Brothers - Big Boss Man
“I used to think it was possible for an artist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory.”
-- Don DeLillo
News and Opinion
NRA Cowards Go Into Hiding As Gun Control Support Surges
Last Thursday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) boasted on their Twitter feed: "Did you hear? Our #facebook page reached 1.7 million "likes" today! Thanks for being a friend!"
On Saturday, one day after the massacre at the Newtown, Conn. elementary school, the NRA deactivated its Facebook page. And he NRA's main Twitter account has gone silent since Friday.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the NRA and its well-funded political operation is “vastly overrated” and was unable to prevent President Obama’s re-election. “If Congress wasn't so afraid of the NRA — and I can show you that they have no reason to be — but if they were to stand up and do what was right for the American public, we’d all be a lot better off,” the Mayor said.
Meanwhile, a just released Washington Post-ABC News poll done over the weekend shows that Americans favor stricter gun controls by a 54-43% with 3% having no opinion.
Time to Charge for the True Cost of Gun Ownership
Twenty children the same age as my daughter and her friends, plus another six adults trying to protect them, lie dead, murdered by guns. Adding insult to injury the families and community the guns destroyed will now – just like every other gun rampage – be handed a price tag. ...
Rather than parsing the Second Amendment one more time there is an easier approach, one typically favored by conservative gun owners for other public policy issues: end cost-shifting. Force those who chose to own guns to bear the full cost of the mayhem their hobby unleashes. Ending the gun subsidies will eventually end the gun violence.
Families of the victims should be compensated from a fund owned by a tax on guns and ammunition, as should the cost of all gun-related law enforcement for this and every other gun related crime. When guns leave a victim disabled the fund should pay for their care for life. When that victim leaves a family with less income, or no income, the fund should pay. When neighborhoods are besieged by gun violence the gun fund will pay for enough police protection to stabilize the area. Every cost of gun violence should be shifted back to those who choose to participate in the gun economy.
Gun owners have displaced the massive cost of their hobby – and, no, guns are virtually never used for legitimate self-defense – to everybody else. It is time for this subsidy to end.
Gun owners should pay taxes when a gun is sold, no matter where it is sold, then another for ongoing registration fees, and yet another for ammunition. Failure to pay the tax – or to show tax stamps that a weapon is up-to-date on tax payments – would result in the tax plus steep penalties. Guns could be turned in for fair market value, paid for by the gun fund, and of course those that don’t pay the tax would have all their weapons, including the ones paid for, immediately seized for past-due gun tax.
Obama says that he is a "moderate Republican"
During an interview with Noticias Univision 23, the network's Miami affiliate newscast, Obama pushed back against the accusation made in some corners of south Florida's Cuban-American and Venezuelan communities that he wants to instill a socialist economic system in the U.S. The president said he believes few actually believe that.
"I don't know that there are a lot of Cubans or Venezuelans, Americans who believe that," Obama said. "The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican."
FLASH: President Obama said to weigh Social Security concession in budget talks— Bloomberg News (@BloombergNews) December 17, 2012
Tax evasion protest in the Cayman Islands
"In the first protest against Cayman Island tax shelters the island has seen, on Thursday, December 13, over 100 Americans marched to the Ugland House, the location where some 18,000 corporations hide their tax dollars, to demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes. They held signs saying “Bring our tax dollars home” and “We want our money back” and sang a parody song to Harry Belafonte's "Day-O" with the refrain "Tax evaders time to bring the money home." Four of them were dressed as billionaires, waving their money in the air in a theatrical show of corporate greed."
The protest was organized by the activist group CODEPINK.
The Truth About The Deficit: It's Not Very Big, And There's Only One Way To Close It
As Paul Krugman points out in a recent post, the current deficit is mostly about the slump in the economy combined with the standard counter-cyclical spending, that naturally tapers off as the economy improves.
He notes two key numbers: One is that, if the economy were operating at about full potential (as measured by the CBO) the government would be collecting about $450 billion more in taxes. The other is that since the crisis, spending on "income security" (Food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc.) has jumped by about $250 billion. As such, it's probably safe to surmise, that just a return to economic normality, would entail a deficit closure of around $600 billion.
That still leaves $400 billion in deficit, but guess what, that's okay. That's less than 4% of GDP, which is the pace of nominal GDP growth. As long as your deficit isn't bigger than nominal GDP growth, your national debt isn't growing.
If you want to have a real discussion about how large/unsustainable government spending is, you don't want to use periods of economic abnormality, such as the last few years (just as you wouldn't want to go back to the Clinton years, and say that the government was a model of sustainability, because the dot-com bubble led to a surge in tax revenue). You have to cyclically adjust the deficit to have a real starting point, and if you do that now, then everything now is basically fine.
DOJ Lawyers: Drone Targets Receive 'Due Process' But We Won't Say How
Obama administration asks court to dismiss challenge to 'kill list' program
In a little noticed filing at week's end, the US government made its first legal response to a challenge made by civil liberties groups about the Obama administration's secretive "Kill List" program by urging a federal court to dismiss the case, arguing that the courts should not interfere with Obama's declared authority that he can kill US citizens without congressional, judicial, or public oversight.
The case surrounds the targeted killing of three US citizens in Yemen last year, including Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman and Samir Khan. ...
In the motion to dismiss, Justice Department lawyers made the case that any demands for judicial review are superseded by what the government said are necessary actions in protecting national security. It further argued that the court's desire to explore alternatives to assassination (versus possible capture) was not in its "proper purview".
Not only did the Obama administration push to have the case dismissed, as Politico's Josh Gerstein reports, the government lawyers "also threatened to invoke the State Secrets Privilege if the suit is not dismissed on other grounds."
Bank of America supplied answers on ‘independent’ foreclosure review
The Independent Foreclosure Review is the government’s main effort to compensate homeowners for harm they suffered at the hands of banks and, as its name indicates, it’s supposed to be independent.
But until recently, that was hardly the case with Bank of America. Supposedly independent, third-party reviewers would sit at a computer, analyzing each homeowner’s case by going through hundreds of questions, such as whether the bank had properly reviewed a homeowner for a modification or had charged bogus fees. But the reviewers weren’t starting from a blank slate. Bank of America employees had already supplied the answers, which the reviewers would have to override if they did not agree. ...
This practice only ended a month after ProPublica published a story showing that Bank of America was doing much of the work itself. When that story was published, ProPublica hadn’t yet learned that the answers the bank supplied showed up on the reviewers’ computer screens as defaults, and Bank of America strenuously denied that it had compromised the integrity of the review. Since November, the reviewers now begin their analysis without the bank’s answers. ...
The review has been dogged by criticism since the outset, partly because of how it works. Banks hire and pay consultants to be the independent, third-party reviewers. Bank regulators must approve them, which the regulators say ensures the independence of the review. But critics argue that the consulting firms have other contracts with the banks and so have a conflict of interest: If the consultants anger the banks, they may lose future business.
Republicans and Democrats Speak Out Against “Too Big to Jail” HSBC Case
We now have bipartisan anger at the decision to hold HSBC and its executives harmlessfor years of money laundering and facilitating the culture of Mexican drug cartels. In fact, only the shareholders will pay, and not all that much, what amounts to five weeks’ worth of profits for the bank. The certainty of not being prosecuted alone should cancel that out.
Late last week, Jeff Merkley expressed his concern that, “four years after the financial crisis, the Department appears to have firmly set the precedent that no bank, bank employee, or bank executive can be prosecuted even for serious criminal actions if that bank is a large, systemically important financial institution.” ...
The Justice Department should actually not solely face the blame here. The New York Times’ reporting made clear that the Treasury Department pressed DoJ not to prosecute. They clearly have no faith in the Dodd-Frank architecture they constructed and directed, which allegedly allows systemically important financial institutions to be unwound without risk to the broader financial system. Clearly they have no belief in that, if they think HSBC – not among the top 5 banks in America – needed to be protected from harm, specifically because of the ripple effect on the entire sector.
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
The Holmes Brothers - Down in Virginia
The Holmes Brothers - You're the kind of Trouble
The Holmes Brothers - Dark Cloud, Pledging My Love & Feed My Soul
Holmes Brothers - Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down
Holmes Brothers - The Love You Save
The Holmes Brothers • live in Vienna
Holmes Brothers - Run Myself Out Of Town
Holmes Brothers - (What's so funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?
The Holmes Brothers - Living Well Is The Best Revenge
The Holmes Brothers - When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
The Holmes Brothers,The Final Round
The Holmes Brothers - Edge Of The Ledge
The Holmes Brothers - Jesus on the Mainline
The Holmes Brothers - Baby, What You Want Me To Do?
The Holmes Brothers - Medley
Holmes Brothers - "Got Myself Together Yeah and I'm Movin' On"
Find out which of your congressmen and senators are taking the NRA's money and how much; follow the link:
Ever want to tell Wayne La Pierre, or for that matter Ted Nugent and Chuck Norris what you think of the NRA? Here's an opportunity:
Contact info for some NRA Boardmembers (full list here, courtesy of Occupy the NRA):
Chris Cox (Executive Director)
David Keene (President of the NRA & Board Member)
Wayne LaPierre (Executive Vice President and CEO)
James W. Porter, II (First Vice President)
Bob Barr (Board Member)
Ken Blackwell (Board Member)
John Bolton (Board Member)
Representative (Democra/Oklahomat) Dan Boren (Board Member)
Robert K. Brown (Board Member)
Larry Craig (Former Republican Congressman Idaho) (Board Member)
Rep. Don Young (Board Member & US Congressman R-AK)
Grover Norquist (Board Member)
Chuck Norris (Celebrity Spokeperson)
Ted Nugent (Board Member)
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