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.
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This evenings music features Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Cleanhead Blues & Old Maid Boogie
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
News and Opinion
Obama's Ugly 'New Deal' Aims to Gut Social SecurityIt's sad that our (at least short-term) salvation from a deal that sacrifices the elderly and infirm in order to provide welfare for the military-industrial-congressional complex is more likely to come from the loony tea partiers than from Democrats:
President gives away the store in fiscal negotiations
Reports indicate that Obama has willingly affronted public opinion, sound economics, and his political base of supporters by agreeing to make significant cuts to Social Security, health programs, education, and other programs while at the same time making some of the most odious benefits for the nation's financial elite permanent.
In a new deal—though certainly out of step with "the New Deal"—offered by the White House late Monday, President Obama showed that he'd rather cut health and social service programs for the nation's poor and elderly than allow tax rates for some of the nation's wealthiest individuals to go up.
Long holding that tax rates should go back to previous and modestly higher rates for all individuals making $250,000 or more, Obama has now given that popular promise away by offering to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for all those making $400,000 or less in exchange for a deal with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.
To make up for this loss of revenue, Obama has put cuts to Social Security benefits on the table by changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. The change, known as the "chained CPI" which would alter the way payments are calculated, is a cynical ploy by the White House, say most critics, because politicians likely feel they can get away by calling it an "adjustment" rather than a "cut."
The Second Great Betrayal: Obama and Cameron Decide that Banks are above the Law
The U.S. and U.K. have made noise lately about how they had ended the pernicious doctrine of “too big to fail.” As I explained in a prior column, this pretense lasted about four hours before both nations’ true preferences were revealed. The systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) already had crippling competitive advantages because the government bailed out their general creditors. Conservative economists agreed that this advantage was so large that it made “free markets” a farce. The doctrine “too big to prosecute” grants SDIs that are control frauds two additional advantages over their smaller, honest competitors. First, fraud pays enormously for the controlling officers. It is a “sure thing.” (Akerlof & Romer 1993.) The HSBC compliance officers (the minnows) may lose, but the controlling officers were made very wealthy by HSBC’s manifold frauds.
Second, over time the best people at a control fraud leave in disgust. The worst people stay or take promotions at other fraudulent firms. As ethics degrade and the SDI’s fraudulent profits (whether reported or real) surge the controlling officers will use the bank’s seeming respectability and wealth to secure greater political power, favors, and protection (“rent seeking” behavior in economics jargon). Crony capitalism can produce additional advantages that smaller, honest banks cannot match. The fraudulent SDIs’ advantages are cumulative. They have all the massive advantages of honest SDIs plus the far greater competitive advantages that come from control fraud. Remember that their controlling officers can become wealthy from these advantages even if the bank suffers losses. ...
Prosecuting HSBC’s fraudulent controlling managers would not harm anyone innocent other than their families – and virtually all prosecutions hurt some family members. Breuer claims that virtually all of HSBC’s senior officers have been removed, so his argument is doubly absurd. Mostly, however, Breuer ignores all of the innocents harmed by the control frauds. SDIs that are control frauds are weapons of mass economic destruction that drive global crises and are the greatest enemy of “free” markets. They are also the greatest threat to democracy, for they create crony capitalism. We are all innocent victims of these control frauds – and the Obama and Cameron governments are allowing them to commit their frauds with impunity from criminal prosecutions. The controlling officers get wealthy without fear of prosecution. The SDIs controlled by fraudulent officers have to purchase an indulgence, but the price of the indulgence is capped by the “too big to prosecute” doctrine at a level that will not cause it any real distress. Breuer’s and Bailey’s embrace of too big to prosecute should have led to their immediate dismissals. Obama and Cameron should either fire them or announce that they stand with the criminal enterprises and their fraudulent controlling officers against their citizens.
Top Fed Official: “The Moment Is Now” to Break Up Big Banks
The nation’s largest banks are “a perversion of capitalism” and “a clear and present danger to the U.S. economy.” The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed in the wake of the crisis “may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration.”
These arguments come not from an Occupy Wall Street activist, not from a Tea Party member, but from a scathing report released last week by one of the nation’s top banking regulators, the Federal Reserve Board of Dallas. In a column for ProPublica and The New York Times, reporter Jesse Eisenger described the report as “a radical indictment of the nation’s financial system.”
FRONTLINE sat down on Saturday with the Dallas Fed CEO and president, former banker Richard W. Fisher, to talk about the report and its core argument about “too big to fail” institutions. According to their calculation, the five biggest commercial banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp — hold 52 percent of all U.S. deposits, which means the “too big to fail” problem is with us now more than ever.
The Rolling Jubilee Mails its First Debt Forgiveness Letters
When the debt activism group Strike Debt began planning its Rolling Jubilee, the goal was relatively modest: They would raise $50,000, use it to buy distressed medical debt on secondary debt markets, and then, rather than hounding the debtors like the collection agencies that buy most of this sort of debt, they would wipe it out. ...
To date, they've raised nearly half a million dollars -- enough to buy and forgive nearly $10 million of debt.
Most of that money is going to go to purchasing a big hunk of distressed medical debt next month, but as a sort of proof-of-concept, Strike Debt has already spent $5,000 to buy $100,000 of distressed medical debt owed by 44 people in upstate New York.
Yesterday, the activists gathered to send out the notifications to the unsuspecting recipients of this first round of debt forgiveness. Since aggressive collection mailings often drive debtors to ignore envelopes they don't recognize, the forgiveness letters are packaged in a small box wrapped in festive paper.
"We want to make sure they open it," said Yates McKee of Strike Debt. "We also like the idea of it having a holiday feeling to it."
The Price Of “Collective Trauma”: Greece At The Brink of Civil War
Heart-breaking, the plight of the Greeks. There was an old man who’d worked over 40 years, but now his pension had been cut in half, and he couldn’t afford his heart medication any longer. To check into the hospital, he had to bring his own sheets and food. Since the cleaning staff had been let go, doctors and nurses, who hadn’t been paid in months, were cleaning the toilets themselves. The hospital was running short on basic medical supplies, such as latex gloves and catheters. And the suicide rate doubled over the last three years—two-thirds of them, men.
“Collective trauma” is how Pieper described the society whose bottom had been pulled out from under it. “Men are particularly hard hit by the crisis,” Pieper said, as their pay had been decimated, or their jobs eliminated. They’re seething with anger at the utterly corrupt system and a kleptocratic government that have done so much damage to the country; and they’re furious at the international bailout politics whose money only benefits big banks, not the people. ...
“In such a dramatic situation as can be observed in Greece, the human being becomes a sort of predator, only seeing himself and his own survival,” Pieper said. “Sheer necessity pushes him into irrationality, and in the worst case, this irrationality transcends into criminality.” At that stage in society, he said, “solidarity is replaced by selfishness.”
And so he wondered, “how much this society can endure before it explodes.” Greece is on the brink of civil war, he went on, and it seems only a question of time before the collective desperation of the people erupts into violence and spreads across the country. A ricocheting indictment of the euro bailout policies.
In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats
"Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change." Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.
It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world's concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.
If the victims of Mr Obama's drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as "bug splats", "since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed". Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama's counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that "you've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back".
Obama does not kill children deliberately. But their deaths are an inevitable outcome of the way his drones are deployed. We don't know what emotional effect these deaths might have on him, as neither he nor his officials will discuss the matter: almost everything to do with the CIA's extrajudicial killings in Pakistan is kept secret. But you get the impression that no one in the administration is losing much sleep over it.
Two days before the murders in Newtown, Obama's press secretary was asked about women and children being killed by drones in Yemen and Pakistan. He refused to answer, on the grounds that such matters are "classified".
Norah O’Donnell confronts Emanuel for telling Holder to STFU about assault weapons
CBS News host Norah O’Donnell on Tuesday called out Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for telling Attorney General Eric Holder to “shut the fuck up” about reinstating the assault weapons ban when both men worked for President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009.
According to Daniel Klaidman’s book, Kill or Capture, Emmanuel was serving as the White House chief of staff and became enraged after hearing that Holder had given a speech vowing to keep Obama’s campaign promise to ban assault weapons.
“The comments roused the powerful gun lobby and its water carriers on Capitol Hill. ‘Senators to Attorney General: Stay Away from Our Guns’ read a press release issued by Senator Max Baucus of Montana — a Democrat, no less,” Klaidman wrote. “Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda.”
“The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to ‘shut the fuck up’ on guns…”
In his first interview after ABC’s Jake Tapper published an excerpt of the book, Emmanuel told O’Donnell that it the assault weapons ban would have to be on the agenda after an AR-15 assault rifle was used to slaughter 20 children in Connecticut last week.
Extensive report details Walmart’s political bribery in Mexico
Retail giant Walmart aggressively bribed Mexican officials to get the necessary permits to open more than a dozen supermarkets across the country, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The newspaper said its own investigation had identified 19 store sites that were the target of bribery, and detailed one case in which more than $200,000 in bribes was paid to build a supermarket near famed Aztec ruins.
“The Times’ examination reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals.
“Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited,” it said.
Wal-Mart “used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.”
The Times said Walmart officials themselves did not pay bribes, but arranged for outside lawyers and other middlemen to deliver envelopes of cash that could not be traced back to the company.
Coal use set to surpass oil in a decade
Coal is set to surpass oil as the world’s top fuel within a decade, driven by growth in emerging market giants China and India, with even Europe finding it hard to cut use despite pollution concerns, according to a report published Tuesday.
“Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st century,” said Maria van der Hoeven, head of the International Energy Agency.
Economic growth is expected to push up further coal’s share of the global energy mix, “and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade,” she said in a statement.
The latest IEA projections see coal consumption nearly catching oil consumption in four years time, rising to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2017 against 4.4 billion tonnes for oil.
That has consequences for climate change as coal produces far more carbon emissions responsible for global warming than other fuels.
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
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Goodnight Baby Blues
Eddie Vinson - Wait A Minute Baby
Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson & Roomful of Blues - Past sixty blues
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson & His Orchestra Kidney Stew Blues
Eddie Vinson - I Had a Dream
Eddie Vinson & Cootie Williams' Orchestra - When My Baby Left Me
Eddie Vinson - Farmer's Daughter Blues
Eddie Vinson - Juice Head Baby
Eddie Vinson - Sugar
Eddie Vinson - Hold It Right There
Etta James, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Shuggie Otis - Baby What You Want MeTo Do
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Cadillac Blues
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Flat Broke Blues
Eddie Vinson - Big chief (Rain In The Face)
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - I'm Gonna Wind Your Clock
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