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 R&B group from the Carolinas The Five Royales. Enjoy!
The "5" Royales - Thirty Second Lover
"To call something an 'enhanced interrogation technique' doesn't alter the fact that we thought it was torture when the Japanese used it on American prisoners, we thought it was torture when the North Koreans used it, we thought it was torture when the Soviets used it. You know, it's almost the moral equivalent of saying that rape is an enhanced seduction technique."
-- Ted Koppel
News and Opinion
U.S. defense contractor pays $5 million over Abu Ghraib abuse
A US defense contractor accused of helping torture prisoners at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison has paid former detainees more than $5 million to settle a lawsuit, according to regulatory filings obtained by AFP on Wednesday.
The plaintiffs, 72 former detainees, alleged that L-3 Services Inc. (now called Engility Holdings) and others, “either participated in, approved of, or condoned the mistreatment of prisoners by United States military officials,” according to the document.
“On October 5, 2012, we and the plaintiffs agreed to resolve and dismiss the action in return for a payment of $5.28 million,” the company wrote in its third quarter report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. ...
The majority of the abuse took place at the end of 2003, when CACI and L-3 employees were working in the prison, US military courts have said.
The initial complaint was originally filed on May 5, 2008, the company stated, adding that multiple cases were consolidated into a single lawsuit to be heard in federal court in Maryland.
A tax deal only the ultra-rich could love
How much do the newly enacted tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans actually affect them? Hardly at all.
Almost all of the debate that convulsed Capitol Hill in December concerned the reinstatement of the highest marginal tax rate on earned income — that is, on wages and salaries. But as Fitzgerald said, the rich are different from you and me, and one of the primary ways they’re different is that they don’t get their income from wages and salaries.
This shift from wages to profits is called redistribution. It is the central fact of American economic life. And it is the primary reason that economic inequality in the United States has skyrocketed.
Yet wages, which are descending, are taxed at a higher rate than income derived from corporate profits — capital gains and dividends. Far from mitigating the consequences of this shift, the U.S. tax code reinforces the redistribution from wages to profits. Broadly speaking, it rewards the winners of this epochal shift and penalizes the losers, who are the vast majority of Americans.
The lower tax rates for capital gains and dividends, then, effectively reward offshoring more than work done within the United States, increase economic inequality and deprive the federal government of revenue it will need to support an aging population and meet its other obligations. None of this upsets Republicans, but it would be nice if Democrats realized that these tax breaks undermine everything they stand for.
The Inside Story of How Obama Could Have Gotten a Better Tax Deal Without BidenJim (author) also reiterates his earlier prediction that the chances of the US keeping the promise to train 350K Afghan forces are slim.
Here’s what happened near the end of the cliff talks, as I understand it. On Friday, December 28, Obama handed off the negotiations to Reid and McConnell, with the caveat that he wanted a vote on a fallback plan to raise taxes on income above $250,000 for couples (and $200,000 for individuals) if they couldn’t strike a deal by Monday the 31st. The two Senate leaders made some progress but hit a wall Saturday afternoon. Reid had offered to move the threshold up to $450,000 for couples and $360,000 for individuals in exchange for a one-year extension of federal unemployment benefits and delaying the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester for a year. McConnell was unwilling to go so low on the income-tax threshold or so long on the sequester delay. He was also asking for a change to Social Security’s cost of living adjustment—a fairly significant benefit cut. After huddling with his staff late Sunday morning, Reid told McConnell he had no more concessions to give.
Not long after, McConnell went to the Senate floor saying he had placed a call to Biden but hadn’t heard back. Sunday night, Reid’s staff went to bed aware that Biden had returned McConnell’s call but assuming nothing would come of it. “There was no indication [Biden] would engage,” says a Senate Democratic leadership aide close to the talks. Alas, it didn’t work out that way. Reid’s staff woke up Monday morning to discover that Biden had opened up his own negotiation with McConnell. [...]
Reid was furious. In a call, he told the president that he or Biden would have to come to the Senate and pitch the deal to Democrats themselves--Reid wanted no part of it himself. But while other accounts have portrayed Reid’s frustration as stemming from the substance of the deal, Reid was just as frustrated over the fact that he'd been in the middle of executing his own plan, which was now moot.
According to the Senate aide, Reid believed that one of two things would happen if the negotiations were allowed to play out his way: Either McConnell, who obviously wanted a deal, would have come slinking back to him and basically accepted Reid’s last offer. “It would have been great if he called Biden and no one called him back,” says the leadership aide. “He would be so desperate for a deal that he took whatever he could get.” Or, less likely, McConnell would have thrown in the towel, allowing Reid to hold a vote on the Democratic fallback bill, which would have moved the income threshold back to $250,000 while extending unemployment insurance and a series of tax credits for the poor and middle class.
Long story short: Reid’s strategy would have at worst produced a slightly better deal than Biden negotiated had McConnell accepted his final offer before the cliff (a slightly lower threshold for the new top income tax rate and a one-year suspension of the sequester rather than a two-month suspension). At best it could have produced significantly more revenue (closer to a $300,000 threshold) had we briefly gone over. But Reid never got the chance to execute it. “Their guys were running around asking to be forced to vote for this so they could move on,” says the Senate aide of the GOP. “Everything Republicans were doing signaled weakness and desperation for a deal. Unfortunately, everything out of the White House did, too.”
Zero Option on Table as Karzai Comes to Washington
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington this week for a visit that culminates on Friday in a meeting with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also meets with outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday. As I described in November, the US and Afghanistan are negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement that lays out the ground rules for any US troops that remain in Afghanistan beyond the planned withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2014. As was the case with the SOFA for Iraq, the key sticking point will be whether US troops are given full criminal immunity. When Iraq refused to grant immunity, the US abruptly withdrew the forces that had been meant to stay behind.
Both the Washington Post and New York Times have prominently placed articles this morning couching the options on the number of troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in terms of strategy for achieving US “goals” there, but the options described now include the “zero option” of leaving no troops behind after 2014. Unlike the case in negotiating the SOFA with Iraq, it appears that at least some of the folks in Washington understand this time that the US is not likely to get full immunity for its troops with Afghanistan, and so there should be some planning for that outcome. Both articles openly discuss the real possibility of a zero option with no troops remaining in the country, although the Times actually suggests full withdrawal in the article’s title (“U.S. Is Open to Withdraw Afghan Force After 2014″) and the Post hangs onto hope of several thousand troops remaining with its title (“Some in administration push for only a few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014″).
Failure of Current TV - Gore Wouldn't Take on Bush
Robert Parry: Current TV could have played a critical role taking on the Bush presidency, instead it followed a confused "youth" strategy
'CIA turns into military force, targets countries it's not at war with'
The US Senate is considering President Obama's picks to lead the Pentagon and the CIA. The candidate for the post of Spy Chief, presidential counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan, is a strong advocate of aggressive CIA tactics, and has secured a controversial drone programme as one of the agency's main tools. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury thinks if Brennan is confirmed as the CIA head, the agency will further expand its powers."I think that what you see here is the movement of the CIA away from being an intelligence agency toward being a police agency and a military force. The CIA that I knew is supposed a gatherer of intelligence. It was largely academics, scholars trying to figure out what other countries have been doing and they had a few spies on the ground in certain locations. Now it's engaged in military activities. I don't know of any law that allowed this transition. It's just something that's happening under the aegis of the executive branch. So when you have an intelligence agency become a military force, a police force, a worldwide police force and it's involved in activities that are clearly illegal, the United States, or Washington attacks the populations of countries at which it is not at war by sending in drones to kill people. The legality of this is unknown. But John Brennan has defended it. He said it's legal, moral, and yet we don't really know who these people are that they're killing."
"Well it will continue to be aggressive and a drive for hegemony. They hope to leave in place puppets or at least people who can be bought. But what is happening is that the War on Terror is becoming more and more directed at the American population. It's the American population that's being spied on around the clock. We now have drones flying here domestically, even the local police forces are getting drones and it's a complete difference from conducting war against alleged terrorists overseas. All of this is coming home here -- the spying, the drones and the unaccountability of these growing police agencies so it's hard to say what would be the result but clearly there's not going to be accountability."
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
Terrible top OCC official Julie Williams headed to banking consultant Promontory americanbanker.com/issues/178_7/j…— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 9, 2013
Hey, columnists: The "sure, #mintthecoin is crazy, but so is defaulting on our bills!" column has been written. Find another angle. Kthxbai— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 9, 2013
"Hollywood heroes can be flawed, but they can’t be war-criminal flawed." owl.li/gGgnb— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 9, 2013
El stop y frisko esta uñconstitional! Soy bañning el constitioño. Sucko on thato, judge.— Miguel Bloombito (@ElBloombito) January 9, 2013
What it says about our political culture that Chuck Hagel & John Kerry are considered war-skepticsis.gd/HD2cXB— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 9, 2013
As Brennan Tapped for CIA, Case of Somali Detainees Highlights Obama’s Embrace of Secret Renditions owl.li/gFrs8— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) January 9, 2013
This line from Hirsh is pretty good: "Among the chicken-hawks of Washington, William Kristol is the bantam rooster." nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/the…— Daniel Larison (@DanielLarison) January 9, 2013
A Little Night Music
The "5" Royales - Laundromat Blues
The 5 Royales - Catch That Teardrop
The 5 Royales - Say It
The Five Royales - Right Around The Corner
Ko Ko Taylor - 29 Ways
"5" Royales - Slummer the Slum
The 5 Royales - I Got To Know
The Five Royales - I Could Love You
The Five Royales - Think
The 5 Royales - They Don't Know
The Five Royales - I'm Standing in the Shadows
The Five Royales - Crazy Crazy Crazy
The Five Royales - Monkey Hips and Rice
5 Royales - Baby Don't Do It
The "5" Royales - I'm Gonna Run It Down
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