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 evening's music features Texas R&B and Soul singer Joe Tex. Enjoy!
Joe Tex - Show Me
“There has always been, and there is now, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government of the United States.”
-- Howard Zinn
News and Opinion
Greetings Circus fans! Welcome back to the Circus that, like rust, never sleeps. For the past couple of days the red clowns have separated into rival gang factions to fight out their final strategy. Watching clowns enter into public backbiting and recriminations is always amusing for the audience and the pie has been flying.
It seems that according to the folks at the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions that the Hot Potato of Blame has fallen into Boner T. Redclown's Ring 1 and cannot be returned to Harry T. Blueclown's Ring 3 due to a preponderance of audience belief.
The Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions now says that this shutdown was planned, long in advance by a consortium of red clown groups and heavily funded by red clowns from the Koch Klowns organization:
The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.Great amusement for the audience has resulted! While the Koch Klowns have been climbing the rigging and shouting that Kochs are not to blame, the rank and file red clowns have been quite agitated at each other due to the fact that their gambit to force the Ringmaster and the blue clowns to capitulate has failed to be an early success. The blue clowns and much of the audience have had many a moment of amusement as the red clowns have piled into a clown bus and have been chasing Cruz T. Redclown around the arena:
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) on Monday echoed Peter King’s statement that the person to blame for the current government shutdown is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.As one group of the red clowns played "chase the scapegoat," other set to work on what the red clown leaders strategery:
Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the Rules Committee, tells us Speaker John Boehner doesn’t yet have his debt-ceiling proposal finalized. For now, no legislation is headed toward his committee, and it’s all about messaging. ... “I’d say if you ran the clock on it, 48 hours,” Sessions adds, when asked how long it’ll take Boehner to unveil the leadership’s plan.
But even as Boner T. Redclown was busy juggling and formulating his strategery, out of a dark corner of Ring 1 came the nearly-famous Ryan T. Redclown who was once Mittens T. Redclown's second in a clown duel with the Ringmaster. It appears that Ryan T. Redclown has been working on a little strategery of his own as he loaded the cannon with an op-ed from the Clown Street Journal which he fired off at the Ringmaster and the blue clowns in Ring 3.
In an editorial voice sweeter than the Circus' cotton candy, Ryan T. Redclown turned away from the stage and projected his message at the audience in calm and reasonable tones. Why, his message was just like that of the Ringmaster:
If Mr. Obama decides to talk, he'll find that we actually agree on some things. For example, most of us agree that gradual, structural reforms are better than sudden, arbitrary cuts. For my Democratic colleagues, the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act are a major concern. And the truth is, there's a better way to cut spending. We could provide relief from the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act in exchange for structural reforms to entitlement programs.
Why, it sounds like Ryan T. Redclown is eager for yet another round of Grand Bargain Fever with the Ringmaster! Oh, wait, what's that, oh my, I think there's going to be music in the air... Yes indeed! The Grand Calliope is being drawn in by horses to play soothing music...
Yes, the Ringmaster is cautiously optimistic that a
The Obama administration on Monday indicated it could support a temporary increase to the nation's borrowing limit to give Republicans and Democrats, locked in a bitter fight over funding government operations, more time to negotiate a longer-term solution. ...Oh, looky there! The red clowns are admitting that the whole attack on the Ringmaster's "One Big Accomplishment" was nothing but a clownish prank to start with! The question that is being promoted is, on whose terms will the audience be robbed, the red clowns' or the Ringmasters? In point of fact, since the red clowns and the blue clowns and the Ringmaster are all in the pay of the Beltway Bigtop funders, it has always been the funder's terms that will ultimately decide the terms of the robbery of the audience.
Speaking of those Beltway Bigtop funders, many of the red clowns are at pains to assuage their fears about the possiblilty of a default, saying that a default wouldn't be that bad:
“It really is irresponsible of the president to try to scare the markets,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget.’ So if you put it in those terms, all these scary terms of, ‘Oh my goodness, the world’s going to end’ — if we balance the budget, the world’s going to end? Why don’t we spend what comes in?”Many of the Beltway Bigtop funders, whose entire existence revolves around the stability of markets are suddenly less than thrilled with the red clowns' strategery:
Veteran Republican fundraisers are increasingly alarmed by the defiant stance of hard-line conservatives amid the federal government shutdown, prompting fears that many key donors may be restrained in their giving going into the 2014 midterms.While the funders are nervous, it appears that the markets themselves are not. Perhaps it is a result of the intoxication that comes of having looted the economy, gotten away with it and still being left to run rampant, but the markets are not making movements commensurate with the dangers inherent in a default:
The paralysis in Washington continued to weigh on markets. Analysts have expressed particular concern that the fight over the budget will stymie efforts to raise the budget ceiling, resulting in a US default with damaging economic consequences.Perhaps the Titans of Wall Street are feeling secure because they have been so amply provided for by the Circus and their appointed retinue of government lackeys. Perhaps they feel that they can rely upon the safety net that bailed them in before:
What the Fed did with Bear Stearns was highly controversial. They utilized the [exigent circumstances clause] without technically breaking any laws. Are we saying that we will bailout a stupid investment bank, but we won’t bailout the US Treasury using the same clause? That would be madness.Or perhaps they're not worried because, well, they pay for the clown show as a distraction and they know that their hired clowns will fall into the roles that are assigned them.
The blue clowns will, rather than making their own demands and fighting for what 99% of the audience wants, claim to be battered spouses in a relationship with an awful abuser:
Remember how Republicans “won” the 2000 election? Remember how they tricked the country into going to war in Iraq? They used non-democratic means to get what they couldn’t get legitimately, and it worked, so they did it more. They got used to getting their way using bullying, so they did it more. Now it’s flat-out hostage-taking. And they’re doing it more.But who do the blue clowns' actions serve? When time after time, they "compromise" with the red clowns, who are, after all, only doing what their funders demand, are they not giving the funders what they want, just more slowly than they want it?
Perhaps the market's failure to react in horror to the horrors that are being presented is merely a reflection of the fact that they own the Beltway Bigtop and the clowns work for them.
Who should the audience root for, red clowns?
When Paul Ryan talks about "reforming" entitlements, he's talking about eliminating them, because he does not now believe -- nor has he ever believed -- that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are legitimate functions of the national government. He will get rid of them piecemeal if he has to do so, but he is as dedicated to their elimination as he ever was when he was mooching off my money. When Paul Ryan talks about "reforming" the tax code, he doesn't mean making sure the people to whom all the money has been shoved upwards over the past four decades start paying their fair share again. He means "broadening the base" -- You pay more. Jamie Dimon doesn't. -- and he means "lowering the rates" -- on the people who buy him his $4000 bottles of wine -- and he means "simplifying the code" -- eliminating loopholes for the 20 minutes it takes before tax lawyers open up a hundred new ones.
Or blue clowns?
“This is a confidential document, last offer the president — the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, “We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses.” So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far.”
China warns US to 'stop manufacturing crises' and raise debt ceiling
China has critcised the "pitiful" and self-inflicted political deadlock in America over raising the country's borrowing limit, as premier Li Keqiang added his voice to concerns that the world’s biggest economy could default on its debt.
Mr Li told John Kerry, US secretary of state, that China was paying “great attention” to the issue of raising America's $16.7 trillion (£10.5 trillion) debt ceiling.
China is the largest foreign owner of US debt, holding more than $1.277 trillion in Treasury bills.
Mr Li's remarks, published by the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, follow comments by vice finance Minister Zhu Guangyao on Monday that "the clock is ticking" and any US default would have global repercussions.
Reid: Everything Is On The Negotiating Table
Democrats pick up talk of a Grand Bargain in an effort to get Republicans to end the federal government partial shutdown
BEN CARDIN, U.S. SENATOR (D-MD): If they put down the gun and they say, let's negotiate, we're for it. And if you can negotiate in the next couple of hours a grand bargain, I'm all for that. But we've been working on that now for years without much success.
Dear WWII Vets, Forget About the Monument, They Are Gunning for Your Social Security
Apparently the only thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on in Washington, DC, is that they can't deal with bad press involving Honor Flight vets.
Iowa veterans at WWII memorial (Photo by Leo Shane III. Used with permission. © 2013 Stars and Stripes.)This led to absurd images of Republicans -- who had shut down the federal government, including all monuments and museums -- rushing to "aid" veterans shut out by monument closures. In the most revolting display, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) publicly berated a National Park Service Ranger for a situation created entirely by Congress. ...
The danger to seniors, vets, and America's middle class is very real, says U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
"Let's not kid ourselves. This shutdown was planned by the Koch brothers from the day after Obama was re-elected," Sanders, who has long served on the Veterans' Committee in the House and the Senate, told MSNBC. "If you look at what the Koch brothers agenda is, Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veteran's Administration, they want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it ... That is their agenda and many people don't understand it."
New GOP shutdown/debt plan, but no agreement yet
House Republicans are offering to pass legislation to avert a default and end the 11-day partial government shutdown as part of a framework that would include cuts in benefit programs, officials said Friday. ...
[R]egarding benefit programs, Obama has backed an increase in Medicare costs for better-off seniors, among other items, and that idea also has appeal for Republicans. ...
In addition to ending the shutdown and increasing the debt limit, under the proposal Congress and the White House would explore ways to ease across-the-board federal budget cuts that began taking effect a year ago, and replace at least part of them with benefit-program curbs that have been included in recent presidential budgets. Officials who described the approach did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Obama talks to "a bunch of workers," boldly comes out against strikes
Well, this explains card check. From Obama's shutdown presser, the transcript:[OBAMA: ] And — and I think most people understand that. I mean, you know, I — I was at a small business the other day and talking to a bunch of workers, and I said, you know, when you’re at the plant and you’re in the middle of your job, do you ever say to your boss, you know what, unless I get a raise right now and more vacation pay, I’m going to just  shut down the plant; I’m not going to  just walk off the job, I’m going to  break the equipment — I said, how do you think that would go?What's notable here is Obama's conflating four very different tactics ... It's apparent that to Obama, all forms of pushback by labor against capital are the same; any resistance at all is to be crushed. This goes a long way toward explaining why Obama's DHS orchestrated a 17-city crackdown of Occupy -- and why all the Democratic mayors (and except for Bloomberg, they were all Democrats) went along.
They all thought they’d be fired. And I think most of us think that. You know, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise or asking for more time off. But you can’t  burn down the plant or your office if you don’t get your way. Well, the same thing is true here. And I think most Americans understand that. All right?
Obama blasted for cracking down on free press
The CPJ, a non-profit founded over 30 years ago to promote “press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal,” published a special report on Thursday penned by longtime Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. in which he dismantles United States President Barack Obama’s treatment of journalists with assistance from the country’s foremost national security reporters.
Despite campaigning heavily on the promise of increased government transparency and the most open administration yet, Pres. Obama’s four-and-a-half-years in the White House so far have included a number of instances cited by Downie in which reporters were investigated, whistleblowers reprimanded and administrative actions allowed for the chilling of journalism, both domestically and on a global level.
Pres. Obama “came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise,” Downie prefaces his report.
“Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press,” he continues, adding, “Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.”
Media analysts in Syria debate have ties to defense contractors
Military analysts who made frequent media appearances during the recent debate over a possible U.S. strike on Syria have ties to defense contractors and other firms with stakes in the outcome, according to a new study, but those links were rarely disclosed.
The report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog, details appearances by 22 commentators who spoke out during this summer’s Syria debate in large media outlets and currently have industry connections that the group says can pose conflicts of interest.
In some cases, the potential conflicts were clear-cut — such as board positions and shares in companies that make weapons that probably would have been used in any U.S. action. In other instances, including work for private investment and consulting firms whose clients are not disclosed, it was not possible to know whether those speaking had an interest in the debate.
The report also notes the prominent role of seven think tanks during the debate and their close links to defense companies.
NSA Veterans: The White House Is Hanging Us Out to Dry
'There has been no support for the agency from the President, and this has not gone unnoticed.'
Gen. Keith Alexander and his senior leadership team at the National Security Agency are angry and dispirited by what they see as the White House's failure to defend the spy agency against criticism of its surveillance programs, according to four people familiar with the NSA chiefs' thinking. The top brass of the country's biggest spy agency feels they've been left twisting in the wind, abandoned by the White House and left largely to defend themselves in public and in Congress against allegations of unconstitutional spying on Americans. ...
Former officials may be calling for a more visible sign of that support from Obama. But it's not clear the president or a Cabinet official would persuade skeptical lawmakers and citizens that the NSA's programs should remain intact. Polls have shown a majority of Americans believe the government hasn't told them the full story about what the NSA does with people's communications records. And while legislative attempts to scale back NSA surveillance have failed so far, Congress is considering other bills that could change the way that NSA spies.
"Would the president's intervention be enough to call off Patrick Leahy and Ron Wyden? I don't think so," said Lowenthal, referring to two of the NSA's biggest antagonists in the Senate. "The president doesn't have a lot of clout on the Hill right now, in either party."
The myths behind public-employee pension reform
In the new fable, state and municipal workers are presented as the welfare queens of our age, historical anachronisms living fat and happy in the competition-free panacea of public service, and shamelessly living off the tax dollars generated entirely by the innovation of America's true workforce - its go-getting private-sector employees, who long ago stopped expecting their bosses to give them real health and retirement plans.
To them, the old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plan, the one that guaranteed a unionized state worker extensive health benefits and a sizable monthly retirement check until his (invariably too-distant) death, is the glaring budgetary inefficiency of our age, the first place we must turn to make the fiscal cuts if we don't want to become the next Detroit.
When we evaluated the ubiquitous pension narratives (Taibbi for a lengthy feature in Rolling Stone and Sirota for a report for a progressive think tank, the Institute for America's Future) we both found the same three problems.
One was that the legend of the lazy, budget-devouring public-sector employee as the cause of America's fiscal crises has in many cases been carefully manufactured by Wall-Street-funded organizations. Their goal is to pretend that modest retirement benefits are the cause of pension shortfalls. They promote this story even though data show that stock market declines from fraud in the financial services industry were most responsible for those shortfalls. The second problem is that the pension initiatives put forward by these reformers and the conservative politicians they back often propose moving America's public pension money into labyrinthine and extremely expensive "alternative investment" programs. This is done in the name of saving taxpayer money, even though these "alternative investments" involve fees paid to billionaire money managers that are often nearly as high as the cuts to public worker benefits. In many cases, that means little real savings for taxpayers and less income for retirees - but a huge payout to Wall Street.
Financial Regulator Shutdown, Halts Investigations of Wall Street Crimes
The main U.S. regulatory agency responsible for monitoring commodity markets has ceased most of its operations during the government shutdown.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) oversees commodity markets, like oil and corn. It adopts regulatory rules, and monitors markets and trading activity in order to identify manipulation of commodity prices.
It also is involved in investigations such as the LIBOR scandal, “the largest antitrust violation in world history by multiple levels of magnitude,” said Black. “And all three of those functions have been taken off-line.”
Many regulatory and enforcement agencies are now closed due to the government shutdown. The Security and Exchange Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Food and Drug Administration, are either closed or have limited their operations.
“It is open season on the public,” said Black.
Whistleblower Suit Confirms that the New York Fed is in the Goldman Protection Racket
On Thursday, a former bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Carmen Segarra, filed a suit ... against the New York Fed and several of its employees alleging, among other things, improper termination. ... Segarra was an experienced attorney who had spent her entire career working in banking in the corporate counsel’s office of large financial firms, most recently as a senior counsel at Citi. In other words, she is not a naif or a theoretician. She was hired as part of an effort to increase bank examination functions to meet Dodd Frank requirements. But Segarra wound up on a collision course with the old guard at the New York Fed, which is particularly deeply tied into Goldman. ,,,
Segarra was tasked to assess whether Goldman’s conflicts of interest policies were adequate in three separate cases: Solyndra, the El Paso/Morgan Kindler acquisition, and a bank acquisition by Sandanter. What is stunning if you read the complaint ... is how high-handed Goldman was in its responses to Segarra’s inquiries. It’s not hard to imagine that they viewed this as a pro forma exercise that given their cozy relationship with the New York Fed, would go nowhere. They didn’t just stonewall, they told egregious lies. ... When Segarra (and initially, the other members of her team) kept pressing Goldman for answers and making clear that what they were getting was problematic, Goldman then started giving credulity-straining responses.
As the exam moved forward, Segarra came under pressure from the Goldman relationship manager, Michael Silva, who was also senior to her at the bank (this is how you can tell the new regulatory push is all optics: the examiners are subordinate to the established “don’t ruffle the banks” incumbents). Silva, who had been chief of staff to Geithner before becoming “relationship manager” to Goldman, appears, unlike Segarra, not to have had real world financial services experience (he looks to have joined the New York Fed as a law clerk in 1992 and stayed with the bank).
Segarra was fired abruptly after refusing to change her recommendations and destroy supporting documents, which was in violation of regulatory policy (bank examiners are not “fire at will” employees; they need to be put on notice and given the opportunity to correct deficiencies in their performance before they can be dismissed).
The Evening Greens
There is something seriously wrong with a law (and the priorities of legislators) which falsely equate the value of a clean environment and a stable climate for generations to come for all mankind with the monetary value that a corporation expects for exploiting the earth's resources.
Court backs continuation of Keystone XL pipeline in setback for opponentsHat tip to Agathena:
A federal appeals court Wednesday backed a lower court’s decision to not temporarily halt construction of the southern end of the highly-contentious Keystone XL pipeline that will carry Canadian tar-sands oil from Oklahoma to Gulf Coast refineries.
Plaintiffs had sued the US Army Corps of Engineers, saying the pipeline should not have been approved based on the steep environmental dangers it poses.
The groups - including the Sierra Club, Clean Energy Future of Oklahoma and the East Texas Sub Regional Planning Commission - sought a pause on southern-end construction while the lawsuit was being heard, though a district court blocked the request last year.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling on Wednesday, saying the groups could not prove the damaging environmental impact the pipeline could have outweighed the economic harm pipeline proponents would see if the project was stopped.
Another chapter unfolds in CNRL’s oilsands bitumen blowout in Cold Lake, Alberta
In a drastic move to contain an on-going and unstoppable bitumen blowout in Cold Lake, Alberta, the province’s department of environment has ordered Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. (CNRL) to drain two thirds of a 53-hectare lake. ... Draining the water body will allow the company to seal the fissure currently seeping bitumen into the lake, and allow the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to compare it with three others on site. According to eyewitnesses, the fissures are as much as 150 meters in length. ...
The order contradicts many of the public statements made by CNRL since the incident was made public: bitumen continues to seep from all four ground-fissures, none of the four leaking sites are contained, and the cause of the blowout remains unknown — as does information regarding how long the bitumen emulsion has actually been leaking. ...
Remarkably, nearly 11,000 barrels of bitumen have seeped to the surface of the Cold Lake facility. This bitumen has soiled lakes and the surrounding ecosystem and has proven deadly to 214 animals. An unknown volume of bitumen and process affected water has moved out of the bitumen bearing formation and into groundwater bearing zones in the general area.
North Dakota Oil Spill: Tesoro Corp. Pipeline Breaks Near Tioga; Dumps More Than 20,000 Barrels Of Crude
More than 20,000 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro Corp. oil pipeline in a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota, the state Health Department said Thursday.
State environmental geologist Kris Roberts said the 20,600-barrel spill, among the largest recorded in the state, was discovered on Sept. 29 by a farmer harvesting wheat about nine miles north of Tioga.
Steve Jensen, the farmer, said he'd smelled crude several days before the tires on his combines were coated with it. At the apparent break in the underground pipeline, the oil was "spewing and bubbling six inches high," Jensen said.
The release of oil has been stopped, Roberts said. Spread out over 7.3 acres, or about the size of seven football fields, the spill has been contained. ... The Tesoro spill is four times the size of a pipeline rupture in late March that happened north of Little Rock, Ark. An ExxonMobile pipeline burst March 29 and spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in a Mayflower, Ark., neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of more than 20 homes.
Eric Haugstad, Tesoro's director of contingency planning and emergency response, said the hole in the 20-year-old pipeline was a quarter-inch in diameter.
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.
On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.
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
Joe Tex - The Love You Save
Joe Tex - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
Joe Tex - You Got What It Takes
Joe Tex - Pneumonia
Joe Tex - I Want To (Do Everything For You)
Joe Tex - I Wanna Be Free
Joe Tex - Fresh Out Of Tears
Joe Tex - Skinny Legs And All
Joe Tex - Hold What You Got
Joe Tex - Meet Me in Church
Joe Tex - Rain Go Away
Joe Tex - I Gotcha
Joe Tex - You better believe it baby
Joe Tex - Come In My House
Joe Tex - Papa Was Too
Joe Tex - You're right Ray Charles
Joe Tex - Aint Gonna Bump No More
Joe Tex - Loose Caboose
It's National Pie Day!
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