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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 evenings music features The Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas.  Enjoy!

Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side

“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.”

  -- Kurt Vonnegut

News and Opinion

Obama Administration Under Fire For Selling Access

In a post-Citizen’s United world quid pro quo is a way of life. So maybe it should not be a surprise that the Obama team’s fundraising strategy involves selling access to President Obama in exchange for cash despite President Obama’s clear promise not to do so in his early campaigns.

President Obama’s political team is fanning out across the country in pursuit of an ambitious goal: raising $50 million to convert his re-election campaign into a powerhouse national advocacy network, a sum that would rank the new group as one of Washington’s biggest lobbying operations…

At least half of the group’s budget will come from a select group of donors who will each contribute or raise $500,000 or more, according to donors and strategists involved in the effort. ...

Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.

Billionaires for Austerity: With Cuts Looming, Wall Street Roots of "Fix the Debt" Campaign Exposed
And now for your perusal and amusement, the latest on what's apparently the most important part of the unfolding drama in Washington...

The Debt Ceiling/Fiscal Cliff/Sequester Blame Game

Dems, GOP tee up rival sequester bills in Senate as deadline nears

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate are teeing up rival bills aimed at shielding their members from blame when an $85 billion cut to federal spending takes effect on Friday.

The Senate will vote this week on two proposals to stop the cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, but neither version is expected to pass, according to Senate aides.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recognize their bills are dead on arrival, but are forging ahead in an effort to secure public support in the messaging war over sequestration.

The dueling votes could take place as soon as Wednesday, but a senior Democratic aide said Thursday is the more likely date. Each proposal must garner 60 votes to pass, and there is no Plan B.

The People's Will Be Damned

So here we are again, approaching another self-inflicted economic cliff.  This time it’s the sequester – a truly stupid idea that will result in a mindless meat cleaver approach to cutting the budget in order to solve a problem that’s disappearing, using the same tactics that caused the problem in the first place. Oh, and quite possibly it will plunge us back into a recession.

What is Washington doing?  Trying to fix blame, of course.

The truth is, both Parties agreed to this uniquely idiotic idea.  Yes, it ultimately comes from the Republican’s decision to play brinksmanship with the budget and the debt ceiling, but Democrats in general and Obama in particular let them make debt and deficits into the all-purpose bogeyman it has become.  By failing to confront the myth, they empowered it.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for the sequester

The president is right to worry: There is a real threat that these indiscriminate cuts will seriously damage the economic recovery. It comes as no surprise, then, that he is seeking to highlight the damaging nature of these cuts and place the blame on congressional Republicans.  ... After all, while spending cuts may poll well in the abstract, the implementation of these cuts will prove unpopular – and the public is prepared to blame the GOP.

Sequestration Budget Cuts Will Deepen Recession - Both Parties Reject Stimulus

The Budget Proposal To End The Sequester That You Will Never See On Mainstream News Or Read In A Mainstream Media Paper

Progressive Caucus Leaders Introduce Measure to Replace Sequester and Create Jobs

Ten members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), introduced The Balancing Act this afternoon, which cancels the across the board “sequester” budget cuts, achieves a fair and balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction and creates 1 million jobs all over the country. Since 2011, budget deals in Washington have let wealthy corporations and the Pentagon off the hook while cutting more than $1.7 trillion from programs America’s working families need to survive. The Balancing Act brings relief to working Americans by making sure the Pentagon and the nation’s biggest corporations pitch in and do their part to get our economy working again.

“Almost $2 trillion has been cut over the past two years from teachers, firefighters, police officers, loans for college students, and infrastructure investments,” Rep. Ellison said. “The American people shouldn’t continue to pay the price for massive tax breaks for millionaires and billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies.” ... There are simply no major savings hiding in school lunch or nurse training programs. We need investments. The Beltway refusal to make job creation our number one priority is a scandal, and the Balancing Act is the right way to fix it.”

The Balancing Act has two major components. It eliminates the impending “sequester” cuts and replaces them with an equal amount of revenue by closing corporate and individual tax loopholes. This creates the equal overall cuts-to-revenue balance when looking at the budget beginning in 2011, when the Budget Control Act was passed. The bill also cuts approximately $300 billion from wasteful Pentagon spending and reinvests the money in job creation. The bill is expected to create more than 1 million jobs by investing in infrastructure, teachers, and putting money in consumers’ pockets.

Obama nominees Hagel and Lew face key Senate votes Tuesday

New picks to lead the Pentagon and the US Treasury face key hurdles Tuesday in the Senate, as President Barack Obama fleshes out his second-term cabinet amid trying times for defense and finance. ...

Democrats, who control the Senate, are confident that Hagel, a Republican ex-senator and Vietnam War veteran, will get the 60 votes needed to bring his confirmation to the floor for a vote despite a bruising confirmation hearing. ...

Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff who was tapped last month to succeed Timothy Geithner at Treasury, was actively involved in the 2011 budget talks that led to the creation of the sequester set to take effect on Friday.

Democrats, including Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, have suggested Lew is likely to be confirmed, and Shelby said he would support the nomination.

Just to remind you of what a great guy Lew is, check out this piece from Democracy Now:
"Failure of Epic Proportions": Treasury Nominee Jack Lew's Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy

MSNBC has hired a talking head to promote and defend the Obama administration.  Apparently their regular talking heads weren't doing a good enough job of being loyal toadies.
Robert Gibbs Catapults The Propaganda About Drones On MSNBC

United Arab Emirates Stocks Up on Nearly $200 Million in US Drones

The United Arab Emirates has obtained nearly $200 million in U.S.-made Predator drones, marking a sign of the growing global expansion of the unmanned hardware.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the procurement "would mark the first time a non-NATO country" has obtained drones.

"UAVs are significant for any armed forces in present times. There is a lot of demand for these," Major General Obeid al-Ketbi told reporters at IDEX 2013, the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East, held in Abu Dhabi from Feb. 17 - 21.

The surveillance Predator XP drones are made by U.S.-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), and are a type of drone that "has been licensed by the U.S. Government for sale to a broader customer base, including countries in the Middle East and North Africa," the company writes.

Raul Castro promises end of an era in Cuba as he steps down as country’s president

Cuban President Raul Castro made the strongest statement yet that the island nation is preparing for a post-Castro era in announcing yesterday that he will step down in five years with plans to institute term limits.

He also replaced his No. 2 with a younger Cuban who would be poised to rule if something were to befell Mr. Castro before his second term ends in five years – the first time the nation would be led by someone who did not directly fight in the 1959 Cuban revolution.

Castro himself told lawmakers the nation was at a moment of “historic transcendence.”

Germany set to approve fracking ‘with conditions’

The German government is prepared to give the go-ahead to the revolutionary oil and gas technique of “fracking” in Germany, but under certain conditions, according to a ministry paper obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

Under a draft proposal by the economy and environment ministries, fracking would be banned in areas where there are water reserves and mineral springs.

This is a concession to public opinion where there are serious concerns about safety, as well as the environmental and health effects of the technology.

Rigorous studies into the environmental impact would be undertaken at each proposed site, the paper said.

Oxfam reveals global food firms' gaping ethical shortfalls

The world's largest food companies are failing to meet ethical standards, a report from Oxfam has warned. None of the leading global brands such as Nestlé, Mars and Coca-Cola were given good overall ratings on their commitments to protect farmers, local communities and the environment, while British food giant Associated British Foods (ABF), owner of brands including Kingsmill, Ovaltine and Silverspoon, received the lowest rating.

The charity's Behind the Brands report compiled a scorecard, rating the "big 10" food companies in seven categories: the transparency of their supply chains and operations, how they ensure the rights of workers, how they protect women's rights, the management of water and land use, their policies to reduce the impacts of climate change and how they ensure the rights of the farmers who grow their ingredients.

The company with the lowest score – just 13 out of 70 – was ABF. It scored just one mark out of 10 in its treatment of land, women and climate change, while the highest scores it managed to achieve was three out of 10, in relation to workers and transparency.

In joint second-lowest place were Kellogg's and General Mills, which owns Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs and Nature Valley, with both scoring 16 out of 70.

'Make BP Pay!': Gulf Residents Decry Oil Giant as 'Deepwater Horizon' Trial Opens

Gulf coast residents gathered outside a federal court in New Orleans on Monday as the trial against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster—arguably the worst environmental calamity in US history—began inside. ...

"This is not just about something that's going to take decades to clean up," said Chris Canfield, vice president of Gulf of Mexico conservation and restoration for the National Audubon Society. "This is about making sure that bad actors are punished for a series of decisions that put profits ahead of people and the environment." ...

"The Gulf Coast is still reeling, and people are still waiting for BP to be held accountable for the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history," said Canfield. "The people of the Gulf Coast don't feel justice has been served. There is much work to be done." ...

The civil trial at the federal courthouse in New Orleans is designed to determine the direct cause for the disaster, and how much oil was spilled. The court's authority to define the amount of spilled oil the company is responsible for will be used to calculate the size of environmental fines.

BP Civil Trial: The Billions at Stake

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

The 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' Is Running Dry

Is the US maintaining death squads and torture militias in Afghanistan?

It’s Time for MoveOn to Move and Stop Blocking Change

This Sequestration Bullshit is an Exercise in Bullshit

Never thought I would see the day

A Little Night Music

Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side

Irma Thomas - The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

Irma Thomas-You Can Have My Husband But (Don't Mess With My Man)

Irma Thomas - It's Raining

Irma Thomas - Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)

Irma Thomas - Wish someone would care

irma thomas - breakaway

Irma Thomas - I'd Rather Go Blind

Irma Thomas - Another Man Done Gone

Irma Thomas - Soul of a Man

Irma Thomas & Ry Cooder Backwater Blues

I Need Your Love So Bad - Irma Thomas

Irma Thomas - Wait Wait Wait

Irma Thomas - Don't Look Down

Irma Thomas - Hitting On Nothing

Irma Thomas - Cry On

Irma Thomas - Sufferin' With The Blues

B.B. King and Irma Thomas - We're Gonna Make It

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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Who will win the sequester blame game and not get blamed?

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66%8 votes

| 12 votes | Vote | Results

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